Even though this is the first chapter to the book, I think that reading it at the beginning of the New Year is a great time to explore the foundations of social justice and what our work with RAPP really stems from. Social Justice is a term that is often mistaken under other names; people use it interchangeably with terms such as diversity, inclusion and multiculturalism. The Art of Effective Facilitation defines social justice in the context of higher education currently as recognizing and ridding this system of its institutionalized privilege and discrimination. Though the authors do add to this definition later in the chapter, I think that it is imperative to point out another definition that is simply in the root of the term. We are talking about social justice, so one must distinguish that social justice is also aims to teach and heal issues of equity, diversity, prejudice, and discrimination at the social level not just the institutional level.
One of the reasons why I think my definition includes this at its core is something that I learned from this chapter which is the evolution of social justice to grow to what we know it as today. It started as simply admitting non-white schools into places of higher education. Those efforts moved from just the simple allowance and admittance of the students, but to the representation of these students by creating systematic policies to give equal opportunity to all students. From representation grew for support of the growing number of students of color on campuses. Support would include things places such as the African American Cultural and Research Center and monies to help fund their tuition. Lastly, in the evolution of social justice we have the assimilation of all of these cultures in with each other to create an environment conducive to learning and assuaging prejudice and stereotyping. Social justice is more than just a numbers game, it has grown to include many different multitudes to teach and change the existing ailments that can hinder (in this setting) our places of higher education from being multicultural environments.
In some ways, each of these efforts have fallen short. In other words, I mean that even though social justice has evolved. This applies to my personal experience with the RAPP program, especially as a facilitator, because in the group and in our workshops we really touch on every aspect of the evolution of social justice. From the modules we teach and the testimonies from RAPP members, I can assert that we still have a long ways to go at the University of Cincinnati in each of those aspects from the most basic numbers game to a social prejudices and stereotyping. Although, this sounds like something to be sad about, it is also motivation to continue things like RAPP and work like it on campus. The fact of the matter is: we have work to do.