ACLU funds student organizations to bring social justice speakers

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, or ACLU-NC, announced 11 winners of the Free Speech for Equal Justice awards program, which will distribute roughly $17,000 among the UC Berkeley student groups.

The award winners were announced in early November. With the money, student groups will be able to bring speakers who advocate for equal justice through discussions of racial justice, immigrants’ rights and LGBTQ+ inclusion, according to Brady Hirsch, communications associate at the ACLU-NC.

“At a time when people are claiming free speech to mask racism and violence, we are proud to help students use their First Amendment rights to denounce bigotry and organize in support of equal justice,” said ACLU-NC Associate Director Christine Sun in an email.

Hirsch added that Berkeley student groups submitted applications in which they proposed a speaker and event and explained how this speaker would advance equal justice on campus. Some award recipients applied as teams consisting of multiple student organizations.

The award-winners include:

  • The Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law, & Justice
  • The Berkeley Journal of African-American Law and Policy in conjunction with the Asian American Law Journal, the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, the Berkeley Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Law and the Berkeley Law chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
  • Black Graduate Engineering and Science Students
  • Hermanos Unidos de UC Berkeley
  • CalSLAM
  • Students of Color in Public Policy in conjunction with Thinking About Power and Privilege
  • The ASUC Environmental Council
  • Generation Citizen
  • The UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare
  • Rising Immigrant Scholars Through Education
  • The Yemeni Student Association

Christiane Stachl, a member of Black Graduate Engineering and Science Students, or BGESS, said the grant has given graduate students the opportunity to collaborate and host a symposium, making them feel more welcomed and included.

Stachl said that in February, BGESS plans to host Harvey Mudd College mathematics professor Talithia Williams, who promotes inclusion and diversity within STEM.

“I’m in the chemistry department, and there are a lot of women and underrepresented minorities. So to that end, it’s nice to know that there are other women and minorities who have gone through this,” Stachl said. “It’s good to know that it’s not just white men dominating the STEM field.”

The Berkeley Journal of African American Law and Policy, or BJALP, is using the funding from the grant to host a symposium on Feb. 2, 2018 titled United Against White Supremacy, which will address how law can combat white supremacy.

The symposium will consist of panels discussing incarceration, immigration, affirmative action and gentrification in the context of white supremacy.

“On a campus where free speech is so important, what we can do is make sure there are more voices discussing ways to make the world a kinder and more just place,” said Julie Pittman, BJALP managing editor and UC Berkeley School of Law student. “Without this funding, I don’t know if we could have pulled together such an ambitious panel.”

Contact Gioia von Staden at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @GioiaVon.