We were assigned to do research on The Baldwin – Rivera – Boggs Social Justice Hub Located on the fifth floor of the University Centre. Fallowing research we were to summarize our findings into an infographic as well as a written summary to post on our learning portfolio.
After spending time, observing the Social Justice Hub I noticed that the majority of the activity that was happening while I was present was not related to student run organizations. While I was there the open space was filled with students studying alone and in groups. In room 513 was located a group of faculty having what seemed to be an important discussion. In room 514 was a group of student sitting together in silence in the dark. Taking the time to observe the space, I noticed that there was evidence of student run activity in the space, hand made posters, a white bored filled with discussion notes, flyers on posts addressing student organized initiatives fro immigrants, dietary conscious students, and many more. There was also a rack of free zines published by the University Student Senate that were up for grabs.
After completing my observations I decided it was time to talk to someone in one of the rooms to get a better idea about how they use the space. Naturally since the space is intended for student use I went into the room where students were sitting in the dark. I stated my assignment and asked them if one of them wouldn’t mind telling me a bit about what they do there. They all looked at me with awkward expressions, then one of them told me that they were simply studying and that the space is often vacant so they gather there to work in silence. However they reassured me that they had previously witnessed activity related to student run organizations happen in the space before.
In supplementary research I found two articles that related to the existence of the Social Justice Hub at The New School. The first, The Story of Baldwin Rivera Boggs Social Justice Hub by Gail Darkes and Brittany Duck tells the story of how, when and why the student run intersectional space for marginalized students was created in the first place and it’s intended vision. Overall it highlights the struggle marginalized students felt while try to organize events and gatherings without a designated space to rely on. In 2013 after several town hall meetings, coordination between students, faculty, and staff the administration finally accepted to allocate space in the UC. The ultimate vision for this space was to faster a designated environment to empower and fortify the sense of community and equality to all student, especially those who feel marginalized by their differences.
The fallowing article I found is entitled Students Seek More Support From the University in an Effort to Maintain a Socially Just Identity by Talia Moore. The piece comments on how The New School’s brand is significantly linked to social justice and in a sense capitalizes on that identity when it advertises itself. The overall tone criticizes, however, that the spaces allocated to social justice initiatives, such as the Social Justice Hub, are not receiving adequate. Concerns about the conflict between how the space is being used versus it’s intended use.
In collecting this information I found that the Social Justice Hub isn’t quite fulfilling it’s intended visions as efficiently as it could. The space is primarily used by student run meetings, staff and faculty meetings or studying. The systems at work that help uplift and empower the intended use of the space are; the presence of student, staff and faculty participation in the environment, the use of flyers and zines to promote student engagement, and open and available space. On the other hand, the systems that work to downplay and prohibit the intended use of the space are; how unmonitored the space is there can be a sense that the priority of use goes to studying, the lack of student knowledge in relation to this resource, as well as the lack of diversity in engaged students.