Since their creation in 2015, the Social Justice Mission Scholars have organized or participated in numerous events around campus and the community:
- Immigration law trainings and support for asylum seekers at Berks family detention center with Aldea, the peoples Justice Center
VLS students, staff, professors, and South Royalton community members crowded into a lecture hall to learn how they could support asylum seekers from Central America without even leaving Vermont. Attorney Bridget Cambria educated the broad audience about the laws governing asylum and immigration, the challenges facing asylum seekers in detention centers like Berks, and the ways in which volunteers can help. Audience members then signed up to serve as interview preparers and attendees.
- Preparing online resources and maintaining a webpage to support Credible Fear Interview Observer Trainings.
- Meeting with Prof. Falk to learn about being the Dane County Executive, where she transformed the criminal justice system, by providing community based initiatives for juvenile justice and gang prevention, before she was appointed by President Obama to the lead role as the head of the Dep’t of Health and Human Services in the emergency response team for Flint.
- All Campus and VLS community event with Attorney Carol Anne Donahue from Aldea, partnering with the Food and Agriculture Law Society, and the Black Law Students Association to host Carol Anne’s visit to campus.
- Partnering with Prof. Robert Sand for an evening of storytelling with Woven thread, inviting the SORO and VLS community to contribute money as a fundraiser for the Aldea people’s Justice Center.
SJMS members and faculty advisors gathered with an intimate group of students and staff to share stories and support. Subjects spanned the gamut, as happens at Woven Thread events, and everyone left having learned something unexpected about their peers.
- Meeting with VLS Dean and President, Thomas McHenry, to discuss the missions of the students in the group and discuss possible ways to engage with social justice initiatives in the classroom and the community.
- Barry Estabrook, author of Tomatoland, VLS community all campus event, focused on the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers
Barry shared excerpts from his book Tomatoland and described his experience of slowly uncovering the slavery of the tomato industry in Florida (pronounced by prosecutor Doug Molloy as “ground zero for modern day slavery” just over a decade ago), as well as the worker-led social responsibility movement that grew from decades of organizing and hunger strikes into an internationally renowned, award-winning model of industry-wide reform.
- Interview and discussion with Migrant Justice, Marita… talk about Milk with Dignity campaign.
Marita shared the history of Migrant Justice in Vermont, spawned by the death of 20-year old José Obeth Santiz Cruz, a dairy farm worker from Chiapas, Mexico. The death highlighted the lack of workplace protection and rights for dairy farm workers in Vermont and the unjust danger in which that placed workers. Since then, Migrant Justice launched the Milk with Dignity campaign that resulted in a successful contract negotiation with Ben and Jerrys, signed by the company’s CEO in October of 2017.
- Community service project with the Vermont Foodbank in Barre
SJM scholars and Professor Johnson met bright and early at the Vermont Foodbank to sort and pack donations for 4 hours under the friendly tutelage of the Foodbank’s knowledgeable and dedicated staff. We then went to team lunch at Positive Pie and celebrated our departing 3Ls.
- Hosted and moderated a Vermont gubernatorial debate with the top candidates from each party;
- Created and awarded the first VLS Social Justice Scholars Alumni Award to honor a VLS alumnus who has demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to causes of social justice;
- Partnered with the Animal Law Society to host a speaking event with Steve Wise, President of the Nonhuman Rights Project, to speak about his decades-long work fighting for the rights of animals through the legal system;
- Hosted a dinner with VLS Professor Reed Loder to discuss her research and scholarly work on the reintroduction of wolves into the Northeast United States;
- Led a group of VLS students, in partnership with the Animal Law Society, on a volunteer day at the VINE Animal Sanctuary in Springfield, VT to help maintain the grounds for over one hundred rescued farm animals.
- Hosted Zephyr Teachout for a conference on her recent book, Corruption in America;
- Co-sponsored the IBUTWA High Tea with BLSA and Women's Law group to support victims of domestic violence in the Congo, and have developed a project, "Soap to Soap," using sales of locally made Vermont soaps to support the IBUTWA soap-making project in Congo; and,
- Co-sponsored a public debate with the VLS SPEAK organization on the Supreme Court's discussion on marriage equality with VLS Professors Greg Johnson, Peter Teachout, and Jackie Gardina.