Social Justice Leadership Cohort
The Social Justice Leadership Project wanted to create a place for students to experience community development and work on a project using their intersectional social justice lens.
In Spring 2019, a small group of Women’s and Gender Studies students who were passionate about social justice came together with a mission to create social change. The group will choose one issue each semester, research causes and effects, and build long and short term solutions. The Cohort seeks to go beyond bringing awareness to problems- they have set off on a journey to implement actual social change. The project is a combination between a class and an internship experience in which students can earn 1-4 credits. This is an amazing opportunity for people of all majors looking to build leadership and problem solving skills, and to get involved in the community. Apply by emailing Avary.Thorne@unh.edu
Tokenization in UNH Media
The Social Justice Leadership Project Scope and Summary of Results
The Social Justice Leadership Cohort conducted qualitative and quantitative methodologies to specifically examine the causal effects of UNH marketing; an online survey was created along with key informant questions to gauge whether participants saw themselves represented and whether they negatively saw themselves within the institution’s marketing processes. The results illustrated that most participants of minority identities across multiple demographics felt negatively about representation in UNH Media and were either negatively impacted by it, or not positively impacted by it at the least. Majority and minority identities across all demographics did not strongly agree that UNH celebrated diversity. The study results indicate that UNH Media could improve their methods for advertising this campus that could have a more positive impact on students and faculty and that would adequately celebrate diversity.
Some things that UNH can do immediately to change this perception that marginalized identities hold includes celebrating diversity, using up-to-date photos and web pages that accurately reflect racial demographics, and properly obtaining informed consent.
- UNH can celebrate diversity better by highlighting cultural events that are currently happening on campus and having photographers attend these events for photos that celebrate this diversity. Photographers’ goal would not be to obtain photos with the intent of getting a few to reuse when convenient, but to get photos celebrating UNH’s cultural diversity in the moment.
- UNH marketing and departments across UNH can also adjust the current photos being used on UNH department/program websites so that they accurately portray the racial demographics that exist on campus.
- Finally, UNH can obtain written consent (not only verbal or using the logic that because you were at an event you consent to image use). These consent forms also need to include a time limit on photo usage and should clearly state the intent for the usage of the photos that are being taken. Best practices recommend stating how many times a photo may be used, an option for photos only being used once, and informing the subject of the photo where their photo will go if they consent to it being used more than once.
- The Cohort recommends updating the consent form to allow the options stated in bullet #3.
Food Insecurity Project 2019-2021
Over the last three years the SJL cohort has been hard at work trying to do our part to address the issue of food insecurity in our campus community. We have researched causes of food insecurity, the lived experience of food insecure students, and best practices to combat food insecurity within a community. When we first began researching food insecurity in our community we conducted a series of key informant interviews and focus groups. Our goal was to learn what the community perception of food insecurity was, as well as what students experiencing food insecurity felt were their biggest struggles and barriers. We discovered that food insecurity was often not widely discussed, with some students not even realizing they were in fact food insecure. After conducting our own research, we turned to Dr. Jesse Stabile Morrell and the College Health and Nutrition Assessment Survey she has been conducting with the help of nutrition students for several years. We received excellent data supporting our assumptions and findings that food insecurity was still a big issue in our community, even after Swipe it Forward was introduced and student food pantry hours at the local food pantry Waysmeet. The data also showed us that students from various backgrounds experienced relatively similar levels of food insecurity meaning this is an issue that affects everyone in our community. One of the biggest takeaways from our interviews with food insecure students was that searching for resources and proving you need them can be incredibly difficult for students already struggling. In spring 2021 we submitted three proposals to the basic needs committee at UNH.
Our first proposed change to the UNH Basic Needs committee was for UNH to employ a student resource staff member who can connect students to appropriate resources and direct them to other departments for further assistance.Read full proposal here.
SJL cohort members studied student resource websites from competitor institutions and compared them to our own. We found that universities with more accessible resource websites typically had better support for students. That's why our next proposal was to update UNH's basic needs website with information about food and housing insecurity resources. Read full proposal here.
Our final proposal was to update the Swipe It Forward program in order to make donating or receiving swipes more accessible for students. The process for applying should be more openly discussed so students know what to expect and who is seeing their financial information. Read full proposal here.
Please go to the UNH Basic Needs Support website, whether you need the resources or not. Know what resources are available to you should you need them and let other UNH community members know about resources that could benefit them because knowledge is power.
If you or someone you know is struggling with food insecurity, please contact the resources for assistance. Everyone deserves access to good healthy food always.
Social Justice Leadership Minor
The minor in Social Justice Leadership engages students in an exploration of policies, power dynamics, institutions, and structures that promote or hinder equity and processes of change required for social justice. Students will examine various forms of injustice such as sexism, racism, classism, ableism, and environmental degradation. The minor is grounded in three pillars — a theory component, a leadership component, and experiential learning activities. The minor is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on disciplines such as anthropology, education, English, history, philosophy, political science, social work, and sociology. After completing the curriculum, students will have gained a historical perspective, theoretical understanding, and applied leadership skills. The minor certifies students' knowledge regarding, and commitment to, social justice leadership, which will be useful in postgraduate pursuits.
Barbara A. White Social Justice Leadership Award
The UNH Women’s and Gender Studies Department provides two awards for women’s and gender studies majors who have demonstrated feminist and social justice leadership in honor of Women’s Studies co-founder Barbara A. White.