Saturday, November 14, 2015

"Social Justice" is a loaded term.

Yale Social Justice Council refuses to include Pro-Life group.


Last night Yale’s campus pro-life group—after a year in which they participated in meetings and even helped raise money for the organization—became the first group in living memory to be denied membership in the Social Justice Network of Dwight Hall. Billing itself as an “independent” and “non-sectarian” center for public service and social justice, Dwight Hall at Yaleis a group that seeks “to foster civic-minded student leaders and to promote service and activism in New Haven and around the world.” Though legally independent, it is the university umbrella organization for service and advocacy, encompassing dozens of member organizations that address almost every conceivable issue, from the environment, to gay rights, to Palestinian statehood.
Membership would have given Choose Life at Yale (CLAY) access to a variety of resources, including coveted meeting locations, use of Dwight Hall’s vehicles for service projects, and a seat at the table during Dwight Hall’s freshman recruiting events. But most of all it would have affirmed the conviction of CLAY members that the cause they served, whether by marching in DC or volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center, was a legitimate component of social justice.
Social justice is a term that has perhaps been used too indiscriminately for its own good, and members of Dwight Hall’s Social Justice Network might be surprised to learn that the term arose from the writings of a reactionary Italian Jesuit. But regardless of the history, it seems to me that if social justice means anything, it has to recognize the social nature of the type of justice it describes. Social justice is about our relationships with one another and with institutions, not our individuality and autonomy. That’s why, contrary to many of my friends on the right, it makes a good deal of sense to me to describe inescapably communal issues such as environmental degradation as the proper subjects of social justice.

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