On the left side is an image of the Equity Living room, dispersed with chairs and tables and a couch in the foreground. Divided by a white line there the right side of the image is a field of red with text reading Who are the social justice Advocates?

Who are the Social Justice Advocates? Student Leaders Here to Support You!

Housing & Residential Education has more than 100 student leaders. These include resident advisors (RAs), residence hall association (RHA) directors, housing ambassadors, and a few social justice advocates (SJAs). While many people are familiar with their RAs and have attended an RHA event, the question often arises, “Who are the social justice advocates?”  In this blog, we will talk about my chat with Biko Bloom-Fisher, the resident director for the social justice advocates, to learn more about the mission, goals and work of the SJAs. 

Who are the SOcial Justice Advocates ?

“The social justice advocates are here to promote equity within the residence halls, to serve as a place where marginalized students can come to feel safe and build community. Students with more privileged identities can come to learn and unlearn some ways that society has taught people to think that creates exclusivity.”

Throughout the academic year, the social justice advocates host educational activities and events including weekly office hours in the Equity Lounge and the Equity Living Room. They also host events focused on equity topics, with the most popular being #BlackOut and Utah Fan Am I. 

What is the Equity Living Room and Equity Lounge?

“Social justice advocates hold Equity Lounge and Equity Living Room hours where they can talk about different topics with students that come in. These locations are also a place where the social justice advocates watch movies, play board games, read many different books, etc. These rooms contain a lot of different materials that students can use to engage in different types of learning, build bonds and network with each other.”

Both spaces were closed due to COVID-19, so this will be the first year the Equity Living Room in Kahlert Village will be open to students. These spaces serve as comfortable locations to have conversations concerning identity, social justice and equity. They are great spaces to relax, make connections and do homework. 

How can residents engage with the SOcial Justice Advocates?

“The two big things that we do are event planning. We hold events like #BlackOut, which centers around Black identity and what it means to be Black at the U. When we host these events, we hope students come to learn and engage with us. We also hope that students come to the Equity Lounge or Equity Living Room to hang out, talk and learn about others' stories, or simply just relax.”

Explore our Get Involved page to learn about individual social justice advocates, find upcoming events and view Equity Living Room/Equity Lounge office hours each week. 

What are your goals for the SOcial Justice Advocates this year?

“When students arrive this year, I really want our social justice advocates to help students work through some bad habits they learned. We want to help students unlearn some of the hurtful actions they built through societal expectations.”

Biko believes the social justice advocates will support students as they navigate how the pandemic has affected their college experience. We recognize that it has changed who we are as people and we want to grow from these experiences. This way, we can be the most successful versions of ourselves, not only while at the U but long after we leave as well. 

If there is one thing you want residents to know, what would it be?

“Don’t be afraid to come learn. It can be tough, especially when we are talking about social justice, no matter where you are in your journey. Nobody ever wants to feel like they’re making a mistake or causing harm.” 

Ever since their inception, the social justice advocates have fostered learning, growth and excitement in our residents. They have even inspired residents to become student leaders and help our campus community. Social justice advocates can be found during office hours in the Equity Living Room in Kahlert Village or in the Equity Lounge in Benchmark Plaza. Reach out to an SJA to learn more about their work, meet the student leaders, visit the spaces and attend an event.