January 2019 – A speaker at a lunch celebrating equity, inclusion and social justice at Drew University urged attendees to take action. Even before the speech, however, they were already at work.
Two days earlier, students and staffers were joined by President MaryAnn Baenninger to help renovate a house in Mine Hill Township that will become a home to a low-income family via Morris Habitat for Humanity. At the same time, others organized merchandise at the Market Street Mission Thrift Store in Morristown. And even after the luncheon, the community service continued—all under the direction of the Center for Civic Engagement.
So, when Rutgers University’s David Jones issued his call to action on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, he was preaching to the converted. Indeed, volunteerism is part of Drew’s ethos. As the school’s motto states, “Freely ye have received, freely give.”
Other service projects included knitting hats for homeless individuals; packing tube socks with toiletries for neighbors in need; writing letters on behalf of people who are harassed, attacked or imprisoned unjustly; decorating pillowcases for immigrant children; packing menstrual supplies for women; and filling Drew drawstring bags with school supplies for high school students. Students and staffers also donated blood for victims of the wildfires in California.
To celebrate past efforts to achieve social justice and make the campus more inclusive, President MaryAnn Baenninger presented four awards at the lunch, which was hosted by Drew’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and sponsored by the Office of the Provost, University Program Board, the Residence Hall Association and Drew Bookstore. Honorees ranged from undergrad Virginia Leach C’20 and alumnus and PhD student Dawrell Rich T’12,’21 to Associate Professor Raúl Rosales and Stacy Fischer, director of the Center for Global Education.
The lunch closed with attendees talking in small groups about what they’re going to start doing, stop doing and continue doing to foster social justice. “The purpose was to create community, respectfully communicate across differences and identify areas for growth to inform approaches to our initiatives and programming,” said Sari Pascoe, director of diversity, equity and inclusion.
The flurry of activity came at the start of a new semester, when students are reinvigorated and ready to work. Here’s a closer look.