Revived social justice organization plans for semester


Brynn Lundy/The Lion's Roar

Justice4All President Michaela Thorpe (right), a graduate student, leads the organization’s meeting on March 24 in Fayard Hall. Senior Samantha Read, J4A secretary (left) , and the other members of J4A listen, take notes and participate in the discussion as Thorpe goes through the meeting’s agenda.

The spring 2021 semester is seeing a revival of the campus organization Justice4All, a group dedicated to discussing and advocating for social justice issues. 

It was established on campus in the fall of 2018 as a club that focused on criminal justice affairs. This semester, the club has been revitalized as a group that addresses any social justice topics brought to the forefront by students. J4A is currently planning for two projects: a police brutality awareness tabling event and a college major advising initiative.

J4A President Michaela Thorpe, a graduate student in the applied sociology program, described how the organization is transforming its goals this semester.  

“The club is now moving forward with expanding the narrative from incarcerated citizens as well as other people who feel that justice has not been served for them,” she said.

Thorpe has been a member of the organization since its first year. She said former sociology instructor and club founder, the late Rebecca Hansley, encouraged her to join. Thorpe held down the roles of secretary and vice president before assuming the role of president this semester.

“One of the reasons I wanted to be president was just to get the club started and get it going again because, with the founder passing, I almost felt responsible to make sure that this club continues,” Thorpe said.

Sociology professor Rebecca Tuxhorn, one of the faculty advisors for J4A, said the pandemic restrictions have been an additional obstacle in attempting to get the club up and running again. Other issues revolved around paperwork for becoming reapproved as an organization on campus.

“In the beginning, we only had a few students left over from the original Justice4All group that had come back and were willing to try it again, so we had to start all over with the documents, and the paperwork and the application packet to be a student organization,” Tuxhorn said.

J4A Vice President Lynzeryus Railey, also a graduate student in the applied sociology program, took on a leadership role for the police brutality project committee. The group is planning a tabling event for the project on April 27.

“Just getting information out to the students, clearing up misconceptions about police brutality. A lot of people have the idea that by raising awareness about police brutality, we’re attacking police officers, and I think a lot of us want to clear up that misconception,” he said.

Justice4All’s President Michaela Thorpe (right) and Vice President Lynzeryus Railey (left) display their solidarity for social justice advocacy, wearing T-shirts that were given out at the J4A meeting on March 24. Both officers are graduate students in the university’s applied sociology program. (Brynn Lundy/The Lion’s Roar)

For the advising initiative, Thorpe said they are in the process of developing and editing a survey as well as contacting people on campus that can help distribute the survey to Southeastern students. The initiative is aimed at helping students who struggle with choosing a major.

“I think some students have said that they’ve had a hard time deciding what they want to do, and once they’ve selected their major, they felt almost pressured to keep that without switching. We want to tackle policies about saying a student necessarily has to declare a major by the end of their first year and seeing about maybe a policy change,” Thorpe said.

Railey said the organization gives individuals and smaller groups on campus an opportunity to express their concerns, one reason he encouraged students to join J4A.

“Everyone has different things that affect them, and I see Justice4All as a way to let everybody have a say. We don’t just take one person’s idea and run with it like other clubs and organizations might. We like to branch out,” he said.

Thorpe said, in addition to providing a space for important conversations among students and bringing awareness to issues of social justice, J4A shines a light on academic areas in social science. 

She said, “I think some people think that it’s not a real science, that it’s not as important as a concrete science, but I think having these discussions and understanding where we’re coming from as social scientists is important to me as a person and I think the organization will be an important place to have those discussions.”

Those interested in joining J4A or finding out more about the organization can contact Thorpe at [email protected] or find them in Fayard Hall Room 207 every Wednesday at 5 p.m.