Health Justice Project attorney to speak at NIU Social Justice Conference

Allyson E. Gold
Allyson E. Gold

Building on the success of last year’s event, the University Honors Program will host a second Social Justice Conference from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, in Barsema Hall.

Keynote speaker Allyson Gold will talk about her work with the Health Justice Project in Chicago in a presentation titled: “You Are Where You Live: The Unjust Relationship Between Housing and Health and What You Can Do About It.”

Gold is an attorney who is a health and housing advocate for low-income individuals and families in Chicago. The Health Justice Project is a medical-legal partnership between Loyola Chicago School of Law and the Erie Family Health Center.

The theme of the conference this year is “The Local and the Global.” Break-out sessions after the keynote will each include talks by two presenters who will approach the session topic from local and global perspectives.

“Last year the goal of the Social Justice Conference was to get the campus community engaged,” said University Honors Fellow and nursing student Lexie Williams, adding that interest in this year’s program demonstrates that the initial goal was reached. The program this month is packed with student groups, campus faculty, alumni, community activists and representatives from local nonprofits.

Williams said the “personally empowering” program gave her the knowledge she needed to advocate for social justice on campus. Part of the program committee this year, she is even more excited about the conference that will tie in “local and global issues like food security, immigration, activism, environmental justice and poverty.”

“Even if you aren’t a sociology or political science major, I can guarantee you’ll get a lot out of this conference,” she said.

Social Justice Conference logoBio-chemistry major Roxanna Moraga remembers last year’s conference as very motivating. She now looks for opportunities to help others.

“By showing kindness and compassion in our daily lives, we can begin to change the world,” she said.

Physical therapy major Jarrett Wolske said although last year’s conference was stimulating and engaging, it didn’t cover two topics that interest him: gender and sexuality issues. Wolske is delighted to see both on this year’s program.

Education major Diana Alday , a member of the program and planning committees, is most excited about the way the conference brings together the local and global. As NIU’s student body becomes more diverse, Alday says, the global and the local will become more intertwined.

The Social Justice Conference attracted more than 110 students and faculty last year. It aligns with the University Honors Program’s mission to promote excellence and engagement through academics, outreach, service and leadership.

The broad range of support from across NIU also speaks to the prescient topic of social justice for the entire campus community.

Co-sponsors with the University Honors Program for the event include Founders Memorial Library, NGOLD, the Latino Resource Center, the College of Education, the Center for Black Studies, Women, the Gender and Sexuality Program, the Student Association, the Office of Equity and Diversity, the departments of Political Science and History, the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning, Americorps Vista and Student Support Services.

For more information, call (815) 753-9505 or email sdawson2@niu.edu.

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