Victoria Conklin is officially the new J.U.S.T.I.C.E. Chair for Canisius College. She is a senior political science and history major, and her work with Campus Ministry and Phi Sigma Sigma has inspired her passion for justice.
She applied for the position as a way to continue her commitment to the school as her other obligations begin winding down. She wants to stay engaged with the campus and contribute to making it a better place.
“I think J.U.S.T.I.C.E. Chair is a really interesting position because I think that we have these ideals as a Canisius community and as a Jesuit Institution,” Conklin said. “I feel like the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. Chair has a unique position because you’re able to connect some of those abstract ideals to the student body, and making sure that every student at Canisius feels involved or at least attached to the ideals in some way shape or form.”
Conklin expressed that her interest in social justice began in the classroom, but flourished during immersion trips with Campus Ministry. Even though she has been interested in the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. committee for a while she didn’t have the time to join until recently. When the position opened up, she took the chance and opportunity to make a difference.
She is currently a Service Immersion Intern with Campus Ministry. She said, “going on the retreats with Kaitlyn, getting to work with the immersion program last semester, made me so much more passionate. So, when I got the email I was like, ‘Let’s go for it!’”
As the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. Chair, Conklin wants to initiate a combination of education with reflection and action to start conversations about complex issues.
One of her ideas is to have a week-long tabling event for National Women’s History Month in March where students will be able to discuss questions about women’s health and political issues. Then, they will be able to put that knowledge into action by possibly doing service at a women’s shelter or other site.
Conklin feels that it is so important to combine education with action because of how much her experience with justice has shaped her.
“When I think of social justice,” she reflected, “I always think of my trip to Wheeling in January. I’ve been passionate about social justice for a while, but I never really encountered it in a space that wasn’t a classroom. So, going on a service immersion trip and falling in love with these people who were trapped in the cycle of poverty, addiction and homelessness reshaped the way I thought about justice. It wasn’t an abstract idea anymore.
“I feel like it’s so different to learn about it in the classroom,” she continued. “Sitting in the classroom, you could be like, ‘Yah, I understand the cycle of poverty,’ but then going out there and seeing it is so much different.”
Conklin feels ready and excited to begin her role as J.U.S.T.I.C.E. Chair, and she wants to encourage everyone else to sign up for the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. committee, as well as to get out of their comfort zone when it comes to social justice. Participate in Community Day, apply for a service immersion trip or find a way to engage in social justice issues in your own community. If you have any questions about the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. committee, you can reach out to Conklin at email@example.com.