When we use the word sustainability, we often think about things like protecting natural resources, renewable energy, and recycling. Creating more equality in social systems is part of sustainability and we are seeing more and more overlap between issues of social justice and access to clean air and water. Populations that are poor, of color, or indigenous are far more likely to be affected by the impacts of climate change. The United Nations recognizes that for real improvements in a society, everyone needs to have the access to opportunities that will let them grow as individuals. But this is not the case in many places where people face discrimination because of their gender, disability, status, ethnic or racial group, or background. Raynna Jackson, SOU Student Sustainability Coordinator caught up with Maria Rojas, Racial Justice Team, about social justice and equity at SOU.
Maria Rojas is a senior earning her chemistry degree with minors in biology and psychology. Maria is from Cochabamba, Bolivia. She is in the Honors College, she is a McNair Scholar, and is Chemistry Club President. Maria works for the Racial Justice Team as a racial justice programming assistant. She helped start the BIPOC Women in Leadership Series, she really appreciates the mission of the programs and being able to work on something she is genuinely passionate about. Maria collaborates with colleagues to create programs, training, and initiatives that will help serve and educate our community regarding racial justice matters. They lead student programs and activities to encourage engagement (especially during the difficult times that our country has faced in the last 9 months or so). Maria’s work with the Racial Justice team will help foster a more culturally competent and empathetic community. Maria also noted that she really appreciates the Honors College Director, Dr. Lyon, and her commitment to increasing diversity within the Honors College. She says that not only has Dr. Lyon dedicated a significant amount of time to resolve the lack of diversity within the Honors College, but she has also recognized the importance of increasing cultural competency within the college (students and professors!).
What an inspiration, go Maria!