Students rushed down the stairs of the Union Building when Greisy Genao started setting up her “Justice Thursdays” table in the lower level.
Justice Thursdays are a photo booth campaign that happens every week during lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Each Thursday there is a different topic that students can write their response to on a white board, then get their photo taken with their response. The photos are then posted on the Compton Center’s Facebook page.
“The Compton Center’s mission is to create change and social equity through education, advocacy and activism,” said Valerie Rudolph, coordinator of the Compton Center for Peace and Justice. “So this is a way for people to share their voice, giving people a voice and then putting it on social media so that it raises awareness and hopefully educates too.”
“The goal of Justice Thursdays is to create conversation and healthy dialogue, while also allowing people to see what their peers think about subjects you otherwise would not have spoken about,” said Genao, first-year student and Compton Center intern, in an email on Wednesday. “It is an easy-going approach to issues that may be intense for some. It is also a fun away to educate others.”
Genao started Justice Thursdays at the beginning of the semester “as a way to raise awareness of the Compton Center, the center on campus for peace and social justice.” She also wanted “an interesting and healthy way to create dialogue and address pressing issues that would also reach a multitude of people on campus.”
Genao got the idea from working with an organization in her hometown of New York that utilized photo booths in order to “strengthen community and self-empowerment” within the organization.
Any student in the Hub during lunchtime can stop by and share their opinions about the weekly topic. The topics are phrased in the form of the beginning to a sentence, so that the participator can finish the sentence in whatever way they see fit.
Past topics have been Ferguson, Building Community, Gender and Sexuality, Educational Justice, and Self-Care. A past phrase has been “We can build community at DePauw by…”
“I feel like the campaign is giving a voice and letting it be seen in the open and where everyone comes. It takes [issues] past social media and takes it past me just having a conversation with my friends who look just like me, but it’s opening it up to the campus as a whole, to every student that walks in the hub and is able to see what is being written,” said senior Dione Gordon. “It’s helping people that don’t understand, to understand.”
This week, Justice Thursdays wanted students to address the “#DearDePauw” trend that has been circulating about social media.
“[I want people to gain] more acceptance, more understanding, and more care. Care in the fact that there are experiences that happen and even though you may not experience them, it’s ok it put your helping hand out,” Gordon said. “Everyone may not go through the same thing but just everyone having that compassion to be like ‘I still want to know what you’re going through’ is the best thing.”
Gordon wrote on her board, “#DearDePauw I am not a case study. I matter as a student and your 2014 first African American Old Gold Queen. #ITooAmDePauw.”
“I don't expect much from the photo-takers except that they are real and honest in their photos,” Genao said.
Genao wrote on her white board, “#DearDePauw Thank you for listening.”