Social Justice Symposium Sheds Light on Important Issues

Manor College’s 6th annual Social Justice Symposium took place on Nov. 7, 2019. The discussion topics were social justice in Philadelphia’s public education environment, and immigration in America. This half-day event honors St. Basil the Great, who was a champion of social justice issues.

“In the spirit of Saint Basil, we started the night before with a Continuing Legal Education Course on Non-immigrant Visas with Immigration attorney Emily Cohen,” explained Professor Mary Sims, who helped organize the symposium. “Many students attended that along with some local attorneys and it was a huge success! The Social Justice Symposium the next day complemented that because the main focus was on Immigration, but included other speakers as well who are doing work locally in the name of Social Justice. Social Justice: focus on global, making it local.”

Sims introduced the speakers and reiterated the need to be conscious of social justice issues on campus, and in the world. Thomas Verni, who is Manor’s Campus Ministry Coordinator and an instructor of Religious Studies, made opening remarks about the legacy of Saint Basil and how his vision for a more generous world continues to be honored today.

Curry Bailey, a Student Disciplinary Hearing Officer for the School District of Philadelphia, then discussed with students the realities of the school-to-prison pipeline and the hurdles in place to dismantling systemic oppression. Bailey’s prior experiences working closely with kids struggling to succeed in the system include foster care-related social work and bullying prevention.

Cathryn Miller-Wilson, the Executive Director of HIAS Pennsylvania, led a discussion on immigration and the current realities of immigration reform. Students learned about the history and legacy of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a non-profit organization in Philadelphia that provides legal and social services to low-income and at-risk immigrants and refugees.

All donations of clothing and accessories were taken to the Career Wardrobe, and food and beverages were provided by the Society for Justice, Law + Policy, along with Student Engagement.