A Q&A with the Social Justice Coalition

Elizabeth Wirtz

The Social Justice Coalition (SJC) was founded three years ago and — according to its Associated Student Body or Whittier College (ASWC) Senate Representative Nick Segura — is determined to bring an end to the oppression caused by capitalism. 

SJC is a body within ASWC Senate that oversees various social justice clubs on campus including Latino Leaders of Tomorrow, Poets Organizing Workers Economic Rights, Social Work Council, and Students for Education Reform.

 The Quaker Campus sat down with Segura to talk with them about the Coalition’s purpose and goals for the year. The following interview has been edited by the QC for space and clarity. 

Elizabeth Wirtz (EW): Can you provide just some general background on SJC?

Nick Segura (NS): SJC was originally founded three years ago by, I believe, [recent Whittier College graduates] Hannah Martin and Rudy [Marquez]. Those are the cofounders of the group, and the original intent was to have a group that would oversee groups on campus that have to do with social justice — mentor them, guide them through college, pretty much just help them out. 

SJC is a lot different from what it was before, considering that it wasn’t considered a coalition that was a resource, and this year we are rebranding ourselves and looking to be a resource for all students on campus [and] to be a mentor to all clubs on campus, especially the clubs that fall within our organization, so we can help our clubs educate the people on campus on the issues that are occuring as we speak. 

EW: How does it operate within Senate?

NS: I’m the SJC representative [on ASWC Senate], so what I do is to educate the Senators and people in the public about the events that are going to be occuring with the clubs on campus. [It’s] pretty much a marketing thing. [I] listen to constituents and bring to the table what they feel is important, and if they have any questions for the table. 

EW: I saw that the new slogan is ‘heal and resist.’ Who created that and how does it help drive your goals for the academic year?

NS: During the [Executive] board meeting about a week ago, we were all trying to come up with different slogans.

 [Editor’s Note:  Executive board is a committee on Senate made up of the ASWC President, Vice President, Secretary, Campus Relations Director and Treasurer.]

 I was the one who came up with “heal and resist.” There was a lot of conversation that influenced my thought about “heal and resist,” and the reason is because E-board and I have concluded or came to an agreement that we are all oppressed in this system of capitalism that we live under in the United States of America. So no matter what kind of privilege you’re having — you’re white, you’re a male, or whatever kind of privilege you have — no matter what, you are still oppressed because you are a slave to the dollar. 

So what we realized is that because we all need each other, and if we want to abolish the system of capitalism or just try to make life better for people, we need to think about ourselves. 

Our individual health is most important if you want to continue on with anything. We also concluded we all need each other. We need to heal together. In the process of healing we are also resisting. Just taking time for yourself is a form of resistance in this capitalistic world because in this capitalistic society they want you to be tired so you cannot think about reforming or any other social justice issues. So while healing, we are resisting at the same time because we want to make life better.

EW: So you mentioned capitalism. Would you say that is a driving force?

NS: That’s the umbrella, yeah. I have a google doc where I have different articles that relate capitalism to different clubs on campus. What I’m trying to do, and what E-board is trying to do this semester is relate every issue that our clubs are dealing with are because of capitalism. That’s the main thing driving us to be activists; is capitalism. Trying to educate the people and the campus on capitalism. 

EW: If not capitalism, then what?

NS: That is something I would need to think about because what I have geared my activism towards was towards educating and abolishing capitalism. If not, it would be like any kind of, it would be to abolish any system that is oppressive towards people and living things. 

EW: How do students get involved?

NS: You can get involved by just coming to the Office of Equity and Inclusion. We usually have people who are a part of clubs and [organizations] just chilling there. You can come to the next SJC meeting which is [Sept. 20] in Garrett House from 4:30-5:30 [p.m.] because all clubs and organizations go to those meetings. It is a really great way to see what types of [organizations] are on campus. [...] We like to call it a safe space to bring more people in.

EW: How do you choose which social justice causes to pursue?

NS: SJC doesn’t choose which social justice causes [are pursued]. We chose capitalism as the umbrella, but it is the other organizations that choose what to discuss. SJC is an umbrella, we thought it would be better to focus on a theme like oppressive systems. We don’t f--- with oppression.

EW: I was reading the Senate Twitter last night and I saw that you had brought up the prison strike demands. Now you’ve made the campus more aware of it, what is the next step?

NS: The strike just recently ended. There are still a lot more steps. We can continue discussion about the prison industrial complex and how it exploits people. The main thing is to keep having discussion and dialogue. 


EW: You mentioned oppression; is that the main thing SJC will advocate for to help the campus with our student populations?

NS: Yes, exactly. Every person is oppressed in the States right now. We don’t want oppression; we don’t need it. 

EW: What would you like to see SJC accomplish this year? 

NS: Mainly just sparking some dialogue about oppression. 

EW: What are some successes from last year that could be built upon?

NS: Last year we had Social Justice Week. Different clubs and organizations put on different events each day of the week that were geared towards social justice. Sparked some dialogue on campus which is the main goal is to get more people involved in different organizations . . . We really want to build off social justice week. 

EW: When would students be looking for social justice week?

NS: Spring semester sometime.

EW: Do you have anything else you want to include?

NS: The main thing is to . . . we as people living in society should acknowledge well not should but it would be a lot cooler if we could acknowledge that we are living in an oppressive society or oppressive State.

 It would just be a lot better if we could think more about oppression and our privileges too, and once we start thinking about our privileges and start comparing to other kinds of people then you’re able develop a sense of compassion and through compassion that’s when we’re able to come together and make something. 

In the states, we are really individualistic and it makes it hard for any kind of social movement to progress. That’s the main thing — sparking dialogue so people can become educated on the issues, checking our privilege, and then coming together being like, “We don’t want this shit anymore. So let’s f------ do something about it.” 

SJC’s next meeting is Sept. 20 at 4:30 p.m. in the Garrett House. This meeting will have all active organizations that are a member of SJC. Students are also encouraged to go to the Office of Equity and Inclusion located in the Office of Student Engagement near the Campus Center Courtyard. Senate meetings are held every Monday night at 7 p.m. in Villalobos Hall, and they are open to the public.