“Make America _____ Again.” It’s an attention-grabbing title, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary for the MC Social Justice Club (SJC). “Make America _____ Again” is the name they created for their immigration panel held on November 14th.
It was one of the events in For the Culture Week, and included Professor Lingshan Song, Nga Truong, Johannes Damaschke, and Elena Abuzeid. The Multicultural Mixer preceded the panel and was comprised of a table on the Quad for club members to have coffee and snacks with anyone who stopped by. Here, people from all kinds of cultures could come with the intention of speaking to others from backgrounds different from their own. “We weren’t thinking short-term, (as if) all tensions at MC or the lack of diversity… or inclusivity in certain areas would be fixed just by a mixer… Our goal was to facilitate a discussion. So the fact that it’s picked up traction, the fact that people are talking about it makes it successful,” said Social Justice Club President Cydney Campbell, who agreed to sit for an interview.
She is pleased with how the week turned out and says that the goal was simple: “to start a discussion on campus.” SJC designed the event week to be a space in which all voices could have a chance to speak. When conceptualizing the event, Campbell reflects: “I noticed that we didn’t really have a place at MC to have these difficult…tense discussions, and the goal of For the Culture is to provide that space.” SJC believes in starting these discussions to help college students “to expand beyond what (they) were raised with” when exploring social issues. The SJC president paid close attention to the feedback from the student body, and her impression was that “the response was overwhelmingly positive. There are a lot of students who are getting plugged in in the community; they’re starting organizations themselves, it’s nice to see that…Even though maybe this event didn’t cause them to do that, it’s definitely a way to encourage other students to get involved with…opportunities that are already there that they didn’t realize were there, or help create opportunities for other students…that want to have an open environment to discuss…differences.” Two themes which For the Culture week focused on were diversity and multiculturalism. Diversity, Campbell explains, is “In terms of people… a group of people who are different.” In contrast, she says, “Multiculturalism, I believe, is a response to diversity. It’s showing that diversity…enriches, it adds benefit to a culture.” For the Culture also dealt heavily with immigration in America, and the questions about the social climate around the topic. Campbell explained that for the panel questions, “The overarching themes and topics were centered around Christianity and whether it does, or should, play a role in multiculturalism and immigration, as well as identity… Is our identity with our country, is it with our culture, is it with our race or ethnicity, or is it with our religion?” and how those identifiers affect one’s safety. SJC hopes that the questions posed as a result of the week’s events are only the sparks that start larger, ongoing discussions throughout the student body for positive social change.