Panel fuses personal history, questions of justice

Newswire photo by Jeff Richardson | Faculty and students participated in a panel discussion about justice and what it requires on Sunday in the Arrupe Overlook. The panelists described their personal histories and their place in justice-oriented work.

In nearly every Ethics class offered at Xavier, the question “What is justice” is asked and then addressed, typically with Plato’s Republic. On Sunday in the Arrupe Overlook, the question was changed to “What does justice require?” and philosophy professor Gabe Gottlieb, Center for Faith and Justice (CFJ) staffer Rev. Nelson Pierce, senior psychology major Ayarri Moore and sophomore Alicia Conway attempted to answer.

A crowd of about 40 students filed in and began to help themselves to Dewey’s pizza at 6 p.m. as they awaited the beginning of the panel discussion. The first question asked what justice required in this particular moment in history and each of the panelists began to dig into the deep questions of justice with answers that came from their different personal histories.

“I thought (the panel) was really good,” Moore said. “I thought we had great perspectives, I thought we were all pretty much on the same page but we’ve all had different lives, so it was nice to hear (Gottlieb) and Nelson, who have been instrumental in my growth here.”

Gottlieb agreed that the different perspectives was a great aspect of the event.

“I think that the various perspectives that the panelists had are useful for folks to see and hear, but I think also that the idea that justice requires a commitment,” Gottlieb said. “I think that was a common theme throughout and living that commitment and pushing forward, that’s just something that’s always good to think about and hear.”

Personal history was a major point in the discussion, as each of the panelists mentioned the point in their own lives when they began to ask questions relating to justice in their own lives and individuals who influenced the way that they view this question of justice. 

Another key takeaway, according to sophomore Student Government Association (SGA) Vice President Desmond Varner, was the idea of knowing what place each person has in justice-oriented work.

“I think what Reverend Pierce and what Dr. Gottlieb said in terms of about you know knowing your role and doing action and justice is really important,” Varner said, “especially when Reverend Nelson was basically saying that not everyone is supposed to be on the forefront fighting people, there’s also people who are in institutions, teaching, there are people who are in policy, working there, so leveraging your position in order to actually make social justice active and change.”

Varner went on to say that attending the panel was especially beneficial because of his new role as SGA Vice President.

“It actually really affected me personally because with the new role I have,” Varner said, “a lot of it is focused on how can I make policy and procedures as well as real feasible change that can one, promote equity amongst all students in the student body and also make real significant change and do what is just and what is right for the student body.”

By: Kevin Thomas | Managing Editor