The Social Justice Union is a newly formed activism group at Burlington High School (BHS). Hawa Adam, Binti Malawia, and Balkisa Omar started the group, which is dedicated to addressing discrimination at BHS.
The three students want to involve a broad variety of social justice issues in their group.
“At BHS, there are a lot of issues that are ignored, postponed, or there are no solutions that are thought deeply about. I hope we will have a chance to address all of the isms that exist in our school first, and then the greater Burlington Community,” Adam said.
The only thing the group had to do before starting their group was let Tracy Racicot, BHS Principal, know.
“When they came to me with this proposal I thought, ‘Boy, here are some students that can really make things happen,’” Racicot said.
The up and coming group is full of ambition. They plan to focus on the graduation gap, creating gender neutral bathrooms, making a meditation room, addressing prejudice, racism, homophobia, and more.
Many teachers welcome the potential for collaboration with students. Brian Williams, A BHS English teacher, is one of them.
“Our jobs as educators is to advocate for that kind of change, to model that kind of behavior, to talk about the benefits of being open minded, compassionate and empathetic,” Williams said.
The Social Justice Union believes that our school has a long way to go in terms of welcoming conversations about isms into the classroom and into the curriculum.
“I do know that teachers are interested in being current and finding resources that speak to students and having a flexibility of practice and an open mind, but I also know it is a lot of work and sometimes that work takes longer than we’d like,” Williams said.
Adam and Abdikadir said that they draw on their experience from their group, “Muslim Girls Making Change.”
“Now we have the opportunity to bring those networks that we’ve connected with into our school,” Omar said.
They see the potential to make BHS a model for social justice.
“We want to start locally. I think that with every movement you have to start locally. And to start with school, because that is something we come back to every single day,” said Adam.
Adam and Abdikadir said that they want to give the entire student body a voice in regards to these issues.
“Yes, of course we want the activists and of course we want the leaders, but we also want those who don’t have experience to be a part of that conversation and to gain confidence in talking about these issues,” Omar said.
Ultimately, the group’s goal is to give everyone the chance to combat the issues that BHS is facing in terms of discrimination and prejudice.
“Everybody has to really realize for themselves that this is a needed club, and it has been needed,” Omar said.