The UW-Madison Senior Class Office announced Wednesday that its Class Gift of 2021 will be presented to the Social Justice Hub.
Current officers — including the Senior Class President, Vice President, Events Director, Philanthropy Director and Communications Director — holding positions in the Senior Class Office worked toward selecting and fundraising the gift.
Monetary donations will be used to support the Social Justice Hub, a program within the UW-Madison Office of Inclusion Education focused on motivating equity. Recent efforts include criminal justice reform, housing equity action, food justice, the gALPHA social impact and a sustainability collaborative, according to the Hub’s website.
“Most students don’t know about it [the Hub], but it’s an excellent platform whereby students can go and explore the social justice issue that they want to do, and they’ll be given the resources and the equipment and so they can run with it, so they can form collaborations with other organizations,” said Senior Class Office Philanthropy Director Lusayo Mwakatika, who helped head the gift selection process and fundraising efforts.
The Senior Class Office did not want to limit its base by providing resources to only one student organization, Mwakatika said. Rather, officers agreed that the Social Justice Hub addresses many issues through a multitude of platforms.
“We want to make an impact on a larger scale,” Mwakatika said.
Inspiration for selecting the Social Justice Hub also stems from social justice issues with elevated global presences over the past year, according to Mwakatika.
“So, this year what we were looking at mostly is, ‘What would reflect our experiences as seniors, the class of 2021?’” said Mwakatika. “A lot of pass through. And, the bigger thing that came up was that we experienced a lot of changes that happened, mostly due to the social justice movements that have been happening around the country but also even at the campus.”
Donations will help expand the Hub’s network and community engagement, according to Nicole Meyer, the Housing Equity and Porchlight intern at the Social Justice Hub.
“The senior gift is huge because it allows an even larger amount of people to become aware of the social justice hub and it gives the opportunity to be involved and educated on these issues,” she said. “It also allows us to (potentially) have more interns so that we can take on more areas of social justice for a broader reach/impact.”
Meyer’s involvement focuses on teaching students about housing insecurity and homelessness, as well as helping students find community partners to work with, Meyer said. A team of nine interns cover areas unique to social justice advocacy and the Hub’s mission statement.
Donations to the Hub will go toward more internship support and greater attention to meeting campus needs. Funds can also be used to host conversations and events, motivating campus partner and student participation, according to their statement.
Current senior class officers believe that values and intentions regarding student involvement displayed by the Social Justice Hub may leave a long-lasting impact on surrounding communities, especially given ample funding.
“if one student, for example, starts working on an issue there and they leave — they graduate — they will hire another student to continue with that issue going forward,” Mwakatika said.
The Senior Class Office within the Division of Student Affairs will formally disclose the gift and beneficiary on its website.