For her #EverydayActivismChallenge this year, Sue Maxam (Pace’s Assistant Vice President of Undergraduate Education) is promoting social justice and environmental activism among students every day by both educating students on the importance of such activism and providing them with the support and tools to take action. You can read her previous posts here (1 + 2), and read on to see how she’s promoting political engagement for women at Pace!

Let me start this week’s blog with what I’ve known for the 29 years I’ve been working here: PACE STUDENTS ROCK!!! There are countless students here who truly want to “be the change” and they do everything humanly possible to make that happen!! Recently I was approached by a group of socially conscious female students who want to promote equality, civility, and a stronger democracy and wanted me to be their faculty advisor as they create a chapter of IGNITE at Pace. IGNITE is a nonprofit organization that seeks to “build political and civic engagement among students who share similar ambitions and interests.” Chapters organize activities like voter registration drives, policy workshops, and meetings with elected women and candidates. Members have the opportunity to target their organizing efforts to the specific needs of their campus. Why is this necessary? Because…

According to national statistics, women make up 51% of the population but are dramatically underrepresented in political leadership.

  • IGNITE solves this problem by building a movement of young women who are “ready to own their fair share of political power.” To this end…
  • IGNITE encourages young women to advocate and lobby for issues they care about.
  • IGNITE believes young women should actively listen to the perspectives of people they agree with and those they disagree with, in order to clarify their own beliefs.
  • IGNITE values civil discourse as a means to understand others’ viewpoints, clarify personal positions, and advocate for issues they care about.
  • IGNITE believes our democracy will be stronger when the United States reaches political parity with equal numbers of women in office across all political parties.

I am excited and honored to serve as the faculty advisor to this about-to-be-formed student organization! We are in the process of preparing the constitution, mission, etc. and by the end of the semester, we will hopefully be well on our way to being a “certified” student chapter so that we can continue our shared mission to be the change!

WEEK FOUR: Social Action Projects

For one of my classes, students are choosing a social/environmental justice theme that is important to them, doing research, and then educating the public about it, since education is truly the key to effectuating any kind of justice-oriented change. Some of the topics they have chosen include: reducing the use of plastics that eventually harm sea animals and replacing them with green alternatives; understanding unconscious bias; and the value of community gardens to promote healthy eating. Students will table and use social media to educate others on the horrors and value of the issues they have undertaken. I’m so proud of them as they have shown a true passion for effecting change, and many (if not most) have become “everyday activists” with these issues which have become near and dear to their hearts – even though most didn’t even know these issues were “a thing” prior to this class!