Features

The Pandemic, Protests, and Polls: CMSA’s “A Slice of Social Justice” Explains It All

by Jilleen Barrett & Jocelyn Visnov, Asst. A&E Editor & Staff Writer

The Campus Ministry and Social Action suite hosted “A Slice of Social Justice” on Wednesday, Sept 30. The purpose of this virtually-held event, that is part of a series of events, was to draw attention to disaster-related protests and the role they play in social justice. 

Jordan Pascoe and Mitch Stripling hosted the event with help from CMSA Graduate Assistant Naouras Mousa Almatar. In addition to being the Co-Director of the Lasallian Women and Gender Resource Center, Pascoe is a philosopher with a focus on theorizing oppression and agency, and Stripling is an emergency manager and disaster planner currently working to fight the virus. 

Jordan Pascoe and Mitch Stripling hosted the event with help from CMSA graduate assistant Naouras Mousa Almatar. JOCELYN VISNOV / THE QUADRANGLE

This is not the pair’s first time holding a Slice of Social Justice event together, as they have held them after several hurricanes and during the ebola outbreak in 2014. However, this one was different, as the topic of disaster hits close to home for the United States. Not only was the event held online due to the continuing pandemic — taking away the tradition of serving pizza to attendees — but it was also during an election year and in the midst of many protests across the nation. 

While all involved may have preferred to hold the Slice of Social Justice in-person, the virtual version was a success. Almatar gave his initial thoughts following the event in an email. 

“The event was truly incredible,” Almatar wrote. “The things that I’ve learned about disasters change how we function as a society, and how we work around that were very teaching. I think it was one of the best talks I’ve heard because of how clearly explained everything was despite its complexity.” 

During the event, Pascoe spoke about the ways in which varying world events can have an impact on one another. 

“I think it’s important to think about current events in an interrelated way,” Pascoe wrote in an email. “The protests this summer have been deeply shaped by the pandemic; the election is being shaped by both the pandemic and the protests. Understanding how disasters shape social change is crucial to understanding what disasters are.”

Almatar continued, writing that he found Pascoe’s remarks about U.S disaster relief particularly interesting. 

The purpose of this event was to draw attention to disaster-related protests and the role they play in social justice. JOCELYN VISNOV / THE QUADRANGLE

“Learning more about how the U.S. does disaster relief was a very interesting thing to learn, especially knowing that it doesn’t function to better people’s situation after the disaster had passed, but rather to bring them back to where they were before the disaster,” he wrote. “So if you’re poor, you’re going back to being poor. If you were rich and the disaster made you poor, the government’s disaster response will help you get back to being rich.”

This event was very well received, not only those who hosted it but by students in attendance. Junior Jana Clark was one of the event’s attendees.  

“The pandemic turned into a racially charged narrative,” Clark said. “It really surprised me to learn that the logic behind the Black Lives Matter protests were inline with the logic of the public health response to the pandemic. This was the first time I had attended Slice of Social Justice and my only regret is that I didn’t start sooner. I have always been very passionate about social justice and fighting for minority rights, therefore, I try to take advantage of any learning opportunities to expand my knowledge on the topic.”