The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Social Justice Prize boon to world, GC

Yesterday, the College announced the recipients of the Young Innovator Social Justice Prize. These three individuals truly approach social justice on an international level: James Kofi Annan works to educate children who have survived forced labor and slavery, Eric Glustrom and Boris Bulayev provide the youth of Uganda with entrepreneurial leadership to help Ugandans incite changes they want to see in their country, and Rabbi Melissa Weintraub promotes understanding and peace between Israel and Palestine by prompting one-on-one encounters between Jewish leaders and Palestinians. These Young Innovators and their organizations define the meaning of social justice in practice.

By providing the people who run these organizations $100,000 to help their cause, we as an institution directly contribute to making the ideals we talk about on campus and in brochures a reality. Additionally, when the winners arrive on campus the next year to give convocations about their cause, we will see the effects of the prize and know our commitment to social justice continues.

The award is not only an investment for bettering social justice but also provides a network of like-minded activists for Grinnell students to be inspired by and join during their time here and afterwards. The College should further the role these Young Innovators play on campus by encouraging internships that allow students to learn from them, and bring back skills they can apply directly to the College community.

We have many noble organizations on campus that go out in the world to do productive things. Although some have criticized the amount of money being spent on social justice ventures outside of the Grinnell community, we at the S&B see the Social Justice prize as an extension of the same ideals that drive these internal groups. We commend the College for investing in social justice on campus by re-instating the community service coordinator as a full-time position on campus and encourage more local investment. But where our skills as students end, these groups carry on, carry out our ideals into a world much bigger than our own.

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    Jessica '09May 15, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Niceties aside, it’s also an excellent way for Grinnell to capitalize on its niche reputation in the competitive world of liberal arts by carving out a platform focus on social justice. What better way to market itself than by dangling a $100K carrot in front of a bunch of NGO start-ups who, in the scramble for finding funding will make lots of positive noise in Grinnell’s favor? Lots of publicity, maybe a few student internships…$300,000/year sounds like a bargain to me. So selfless, Grinnell!

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