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Social Justice and Social Justice Week at Sonoma State University
by Liz A, Maria C, Lorena G, Lizbeth R, Selene R, Jimena S
Wednesday Dec 6th, 2017 2:08 PM
Our research team aimed to dissect the term social justice and simplify its complex meaning. We did so by collecting data from interviews and surveys. The answers to our interview questions represent the complexity of this topic.

Social Justice is a very broad and controversial topic. It is a topic that holds great significance and meaning to society as a whole. It is much more than the inequalities and injustices. Perhaps there is not one single true meaning. Every single individual in this society perceives social justice differently, or maybe the significance is unknown and nothing but just another contentious term. You may ask yourself, “What is social justice, and what does it mean to me?” Our research team aimed to dissect the term social justice and simplify its complex meaning. We did so by collecting data from interviews and surveys. The answers to our interview questions represent the complexity of this topic. One individual may comprehend it while others, like many of us, remain with questions and wonder. What is it that truly creates inequality, barriers which prevent access to greater and better opportunities? Why are certain individuals prone to the injustices compared to others? There are a myriad of questions one can ask about social justice, that conducting all the research in the world may not answer it all. As a human being on this planet, we are all deserving of rights and limitless opportunities, or at least we should be. There are numerous characteristics that can describe society such as unity, interdependence, cooperation, etc, all of which create the ideal society. Unfortunately, it is the 21st century and in our existence lingers division, hatred, vengeance and lack of faith in humanity. There is a root to all of this, and it derives from centuries ago. What can one do in the present day to retract from it all? Social justice is a term which many of us do not know of. It is overlooked and not enough attention and efforts to change are intact. It is a term where two words have their own meaning but when put together create a strong and powerful message. There must be a balance within justice and freedom where humanity and injustices can meet halfway. Evidently, conducting this study will not cause much change or reaction. But, it will create awareness among ourselves as well as our colleagues and peers. It can be the beginning of recreating our own foundation of life where there is vision, hope, freedom, and equity.

Key Words: social justice, education, literature review, faculty, students, university, inquality, equity, freedom, society

Final Research Paper


Why does social justice still affect our way of socializing and working alongside others? Social injustices occur every day around us, but do we always notice them or do we just let them continue on. By analyzing some top social justice sub-topics that happen all around the world, and focusing them onto Sonoma State University students and professors, we will be able to collect our own social justice data. Data that will be able to point out some major issues that some might not even take into consideration, but tend to occur more often on college campus than people might actually believe. The following topics are going to be used in our survey, which will be handed out to students to see what issues are actually occurring throughout our campus environment. Immigration, economic inequality, gender bias, racism, police brutality, and LGBTQ discrimination are the chosen topics we decided to use when defining social justice on our campus. We will allow the students to select the issues they have either first hand experienced or witnessed happening. This will allow us to broaden our research within the topic of social justice, and let us gather data that will represent our research question. We understand social justice is a topic that is often overlooked and ignored so our plan for this research project is to get an insight of what faculty members and students of Sonoma State feel and their understanding of social justice. Once we were done conducting the professors’ interviews and the student surveys we were able to conclude that social justice is a large impacting factor on campus that people do tend to ignore. We were able to make the connection between the staff and the students, to see both sides of how it is that social justice is being interpreted and felt throughout campus. They’ve all experienced it in class, specific job opportunities, by other students, and by professors. Our end result ended up enriching our data collection, and expanding our research question to the fullest degree. Allowing us to fully examine our small grasp into the society of social injustice, that we currently live in today.

Literature Review

In order to better understand social justice we turned to the literature to see what type of issues were being discussed. After scouring through a multitude of data we found that there were specific issues that were prevalent when discussing social justice. Some of the core issues revolved around discrimination, immigration, homelessness, inequality, and violence.

Reidy (1984) makes it clear there is no doubt individuals have different perspectives of what social justice is. We often hear social justice and think political debate considering not everyone has the same views about it, so instead the topic is often ignored. Reidy(1984) argues, social justice should not be a subject that causes debate and discomfort to talk about, that social policies (housing, health and education etc.,) play a significant factor as to how social justice is viewed. Educators often have their own opinions of social policies that can carry implications on how students view social justice in general which can be a problem.

Premdas (2016:447) discusses social justice and affirmative action. They are big subjects to tackle. When we look at affirmative action we need to question whether this particular policy implemented across the board has served its purpose.Often times “justice” is a term that is used hand in hand when people discuss affirmative action (Premdas 2016: 449). The question is really whether affirmative action has served those for whom the policy is tailored for, and who determines who is deserving of the justice provided through affirmative action. “There is no universal and generally accepted set of values that define justice everywhere…” (Premdas 2016: 450). When we think about justice everything is “relative and contentious” (Premdas 2016: 450). However, it is unclear whether affirmative action has separated or united these very people that have traditionally been underserved. In other words, “has this quest for social justice unleashed culture wars...cultural values of justice are pitched against each other with no resolution in sight” (Premdas 2016: 450). The main drive behind affirmative action is that it should redistribute benefits. The concluding idea is that the goal set by affirmative action is too deeply ingrained in history, and the disadvantage and exploitation of particular groups (Premdas 2016: 460). Although this is a courteous and “just” cause it is far too great to be tackled through policy. Novak (2009) discusses what people think social justice is, “social justice is really the capacity to organize with others to accomplish ends that benefit the whole community.” Novak (2009) states that social justice used to be a Catholic concept that was later taken over by secular progressives. He states that many think of the word equality when thinking of social justice but that it would not be normal for people to get the same portions of things. This article argues some of the concepts that people think about when talking about Social Justice, for example common good. “"Common good" is a wonderful term that goes back to Aristotle, but in practice, it often hinges on a key question: namely, who decides what is the common good?” This article goes on and talks about the privileged how social justice can be interpreted differently by every individual person depending on their lives.

The recent political climate it is reported that many immigrants are afraid to report crimes out of fear of deportation. Senate Bill 54, the California Values Act, or SB54 is a bill proposed in California in order to make the state a total sanctuary for undocumented immigrants (Venture 2017). In addition, SB54 sets out to minimize the privatization of jails, as many of the detention centers in which people are being held are yielding huge profits for these private corporations. These entities of course, are intent on keeping things the same as they spend millions of dollars lobbying. However, if SB54 was passed and put into effect then there would be less opportunity for these detention centers to capitalize on the separation and deportation of families. Immigration is a large issue affecting millions in America today. In Sonoma County tensions in the 2017 school year are high for some as a result of the termination of DACA. A local student from Sonoma County recounts her story as she had to cross the border at an early age and it was then that she witnessed multiple deaths (Espinoza, Ruano- Gonzalez 2017) It is circumstances like these that drive dreamers to have such an appreciation for the country which they call home. Sonoma States President is saddened by the news and confirmed that if nothing changes in congress for DACA recipients those that are employed at the university will lose their jobs (Espinoza, Ruano- Gonzalez 2017). Sadly many of these dreamers are filling vital roles, and occupations. Many are people around the country are now in jeopardy of being deported.

Hate is seeping through in massive quantities and is perhaps now more tolerable than ever. Locally speaking, groups in Petaluma have been quick to denounce such behavior. When a gay pride flag was ripped to pieces someone attempted to mend it together, before police even arrived at the scene (Payne 2017). Petaluma’s police chief has a strict no toleration for hate philosophy, and he is committed to doing his part in order to keep this from happening. Although there is large commitment for the community in Petaluma to do their part to stop hate. There are people who feel like the divide among people is wider than ever. In spite of this none of these people who have set out to make a change feel deterred. We have seen that under the Department of Homeland Security program known for countering violent extremism, the Trump Administration has ended grants to groups combating white supremacy, while continuing to fund organizations fighting Islamic terrorism. I learned that certain groups have more power over others when it comes to inequality, and that political figures are actually supporting these groups instead of trying to stop them.

Previous data is conclusive in the various, and continuous cases revolving around social justice. Data showed that the definitions for social justice varied widely, while the problems that included social justice were just as prevalent. There has been much work around social justice and the issues that surrounded it, but even so there is still much left to be discovered and investigated. Social justice issues are prevalent in every corner of the universe because they are issues that affect every single community in the world.


The methods used in our research were interviewing and surveys. This decision was made because we wanted to see how Sonoma State University feels about Social Justice as a whole and not only focus on the students. We decided to interview twelve staff and professors from all departments at Sonoma State. Unfortunately due to the wildfires around us that started October 9th and went on for about two weeks, we were only able to do six interviews with a variety of staff and professors. We created an interview guide with about twenty questions and revised it down to ten. We focused on questions that would give us an insight on what the staff and professors think about Social Justice and what they believe can be done to help spread more awareness on Social Justice. We chose to interview staff and professors because we thought it was an excellent opportunity to introduce or reintroduce Social Justice week which has been happening every March at Sonoma State for about five years now. Interviewing started on October 24, 2017 and went on until November 3, 2017. Some interviews were recorded but not all, every interview will remain confidential in our research. All of our responses for our interviews were put into one documentation and were analyzed by the whole research team. Another reason we chose the interview method for staff and professors was because we wanted to create rapport with the staff and professors so that they could give us honest answers to our questions. Social Justice could be a hard subject to talk about so interviewing gave us a better understanding with staff and professors. We decided to use the method of survey with students because we wanted to be able to get more responses. 144 students all over campus were asked to take our ten questions survey. At first we thought it would be better to do an electronic version and we would send it out to the Sociology department and the Criminal Justice department, but after giving it some thought we came up with the decision to hand it out all over campus instead to eliminate bias. We each handed out surveys, in classroomes, libraries and the eop office. In totally we have 144 survey’s from a diverse variety of students at Sonoma State. We will analyze this data by adding up all the information and viewing the responses. Survey’s started November 6, 2017 through November 13, 2017.

Results: Interview Questions

What does social justice mean to you?

Interviewee 1: “I think for me social justice means being able to have education for our community and having a fair chance to have resources and being able to be treated fairly … just a broad general meaning for me.”

Interviewee 2: “Social justice means to me the basic atmosphere for underrepresented populations, and people but particular advocacy that comes from an understanding of people’s experiences, particular experiences from oppressed people, and when I say oppressed I mean, we live in a society of the have and the have nots. And we also live in a society of the social economic stratus, where opportunities are based on social economics. Social justice is the systematic way of putting people down, or not allowing people to be included and be the system that is more inclusive.

Interviewee 3: “I interpret social justice through a lens of a professor in terms of having access to higher education. On campus, every student should feel like they belong instead of some students feeling like they belong more than the other.”

Defining it as negative
A lot of emphasis put on freedom and not enough put in justice
A vision in which you are not promoting reckless individual freedom instead creating foundation to equalize opportunities for people
Provide an even playing field for people, intervention against oppressive social practice
Justice will flow like water
Wanting to actually see an ultimate solution for it

Interviewee 4: “It is all about creating foundations to equalize opportunities on people.” There is a large gap of access to resources for people, as well as interventions against social practices. She points out that social justice is ultimately a mythical.
Having access to higher education
Feeling equal, feeling of belongingness to campus

Culture shock, minority students

Interviewee 5: “Social justice is an analysis of looking at groups that are in power to those who are subordinate [in areas like] race, gender, and sexuality.”
Hierarchy of Power
White’s having higher rates of homeownership due to laws

Interviewee 6: “Social justice to me is a belief that we don’t all start at a level playing field. Basic concepts like privilege, race, and money. It means helping as much as we can to bring these topics and issues to light in order to level the playing field.”

2. Have you ever dealt with any social justice issues on campus?
Interviewee 1: “Being an advisor my students have come to me when they felt like they were not treated fairly. A student was working with a department and their hours were cut she came to me and I connected them with title 9 on campus and encouraged them to talk to their manager. This student was of color and saw other students not of color were getting more hours so they felt like this was a race related issue.
As a staff member I know that I have questioned things of me not getting a higher position because I am a woman, I was not given the opportunity for a higher position because I was a woman so I connected to me HR and talked to them about it and I felt like something was done. But there are times when working with my students some feel like they don’t belong in this camps because of the social economic attitudes on campus and the way that reflects on how they are being treated.”

Interviewee 2: For example , “Yes, with access to education, program like EOP and we think in turns of social advocacy the idea and the effort that was put into opening these schools up or shut them down, we know schools cost money, but the way by design were only for outside people that got the money “the rich” “the people with resources” that is why EOP is designed to serve first-generation college students and historically low income, the idea of the premise was either open it up or shut it down. That is why social advocacy is need because if there isn’t those that value being able to advocate at a grasping level then who / “we” would have the opportunities that we currently have. “That is why I am a Social Advocate.” Seeing racial slurs on poster boards, and not being able to further deal with the issues because higher staff members “deal with the problem.”

Interviewee 3: “I teach ethnic studies and it feels like every 5-10 years the university legislators try to cut down ethnic studies usually for budgetary reasons. So much of the social justice work I am involved with is to preserve ethnic studies.”
Racial discrimination
Promoting curriculums that are for social justice
Critical theory and lit analysis, teaches about social justice, encourages students to take social actions
“I don't wash my hands off a situation” instead by an ally, when students come to professor
No drastic issues
International scholar more difficult for students to come to me for resources
See all student through system not all faculty members see that way

Interviewee 4: Interviewer has not dealt with any social justice issues on campus. However, she does teach social justice courses in her critical theory classes and makes sure to tell her students if they have ever encounter social justice issues personally or see anything to tell her, and she will personally help them. She will never turn down a student regarding this issue. No students have gone to her with social justices issues nor have encountered or experienced personally.

Interviewee 5: “Of course.”

Interviewee 6: “I have been working at Sonoma State for 20 years; in years I was in residential life, and the last few I have been working in administration. So yeah, you see it with roommates coming from different backgrounds, it’s obvious from the moment they move in: how many people help them move in, who is with them, to the way they are dressed.”
Maslow’s basic needs
Impacts of privilege

3. Are there particular areas of social justice that you feel very strongly about?
Interviewee 1: “I work in EOP so really access to education and making sure that it is there for the people that want to come or are already here. I want to help them continue their education because knowledge is power. That is something I'm really passionate about and today's tuition and housing has been increasing which is a problem for low income students because they are struggling to pay and and lose focus on their education and just focus on how they are going to make money to pay for it.
How can we close that gap to help low income students attend college and how can we treat them equally and have respect no matter their identity.
Being a female person of color and someone that came from low income household being able to treat everyone equally is something that I feel very strongly about.”

Interviewee 2: Yes, experiences with people that are “rich/wealthy” and they come in with country club shirts into the office from particular affluent communities, and say I don’t know if I’m in the right place, and then say things like I don’t know if you can help me, “I don’t know if I can help you either, it depends on your question,” but if you ask somebody then you will probably get to the correct office. That is why social advocacy stands from particular awareness of the conditions and the restraints that are placed on the underrepresented people and populations. I definitely think that the need for social advocacy is an ongoing process, needs to be younger people that are trained and educated to be advocates for future generations. As a senior advisor I don’t have a particular fear or anxiety because I stand for truth and principal, I don’t look to offend anybody but I recognize the reality of the world that I live in and I can count in one hand the people that look like me that work on this campus, being African American, “my parents didn’t raise no fool, I rely more on my social upbringing and education but there has to be that idea of uniting knowledge of family, community, and identity of self.

Interviewee 3:
Class and equality
Discrimination comes from class, people that come from a privileged background, they seem to represent the norm
Challenge the comfort, discomfort

Interviewee 5: “ Other than the ones I mentioned earlier, no.”

Interviewee 6:
Two areas:
Black students on campus - “There are very few in numbers but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to get the resources to get together and thrive. This is not an area that caters to them.”
Undocumented students - “Students come to Sonoma State with no place to live. They get enough financial aid to cover their tuition but can’t afford housing in Sonoma County and the university does very little for them.”

4. How does being a “Hispanic Serving Institution” affect our work in social justice on campus?
Interviewee 1: “It brings an awareness to campus culture and the population we serve. We can help not only hispanic students but all of our students, it is a great impact and it brings awareness.

Interviewee 2: Nobody really knows because nobody really talks about it. Nothing is being explained, it’s just seen as a title on a brochure to get more future students attention to attend the campus. There are needs to be a shift in demographics, culture and in the way we do business.

Interviewee 3:“Being a Hispanic serving institution means that we are prepared to provide services to students who are dreamers and first-generation college students.”
We will be prepared to provide resources to students who might come from family with undocumented parents or who themselves are dreamers
Are area has a lot of latino population
Calling ourselves HSI will get us grants

Interviewee 4: “Has not made a huge difference but the university can apply for federal funding now.”
HSI- can apply for federal funding
School of edu got large grant for latin/x students
Eliminating chicano latino studies… merging American multicultural studies and CLS

Interviewee 5: “It just means we have a certain percentage of a the Hispanic/Latinx population. It provides funding for the university.”

Interviewee 6: “It’s helping students from underrepresented groups to understand that they deserve to be here and use the resources the university provides. The university has an obligation to provide these programs and resources.”

5. How can we continue to help minority students strive and achieve academic excellence here at Sonoma State?
Interviewee 1: “One thing for sure is hiring staff members who understand the experiences of minorities and marginalized students. So students could make connections and relationships with these staff members. Having a mentoring program to be able to mentor students from freshman year to their senior year. Also scholarship opportunities for low income students so they won’t have to leave and drop out because of money reasons. Making students aware of resources on campus, providing opportunities to come together and to build a community. Having people to listen and understand and create policies that can be student friendly that is how we can help.”

Interviewee 2: The identity of self, who are we anyways it’s important to have a sense of self, history, knowledge of heritage and knowledge based off education, by gaining a higher education. Knowing where we stand in social institutions, use social advocacy.

Interviewee 3: “Professors need to be social support for all students.”
Still segregation and separation on campus
Actively Recruit students from area that are present us
Promote community efforts
Ssu as social support
Students generally care about the area and how to become part of social change
Difficult to care about the local community for those who go away
A lot of community activism in region
Community service to teach people about racial and cultural background and connecting

Interviewee 4: “Have more faculty and staff that students can self-identify with. there is current research that shows latinx students do better in education when they have professors who look like them and can understand minority students.”
Have more faculty and staff that students can identify with
Identifying with someone with position of power

Interviewee 5: “Department programs in general. Encouraging them to participate in Sociology Club, to become a member of Alpha Kappa Delta, to become a teacher’s assistant so they can learn research and teaching styles. Allowing them to develop individual relationships with faculty, and helping them apply for graduate schools.”

Interviewee 6: “By expanding programs like the Educational Opportunity Program and the programs for transfer students. Reaching students in various parts of the state, hiring more counselors and advisors; hiring more diverse faculty members.”

6. What more should be done to help support social justice at Sonoma State:
Interviewee 1: “3 steps needs to be done to help support social justice at SSU which are; 1)Curriculum: promote community, it is hard for upper class students to learn about social injustices because then they go back home and they do not have to deal with issues regarding justice. 2) Recruit more students from low income from our service area. 3) Making housing available for low income students: SSU has created a system structure within the dorms, there are nice dorms with a pool and then there is not so nice dorms. SSU took out many loans to build nice dorms and now they are recruiting wealthy students to pay for the loans.

Interviewee 2: “Good work being done by students, the social justice move is going to happen by students.”
Student organizations

Interviewee 3: Any person of color in a professional position, rest a sure they have to be that much on top of their game, you’re not just going to be getting chances to come in and fail. Be more educated about our surrounding on campus; educate our youth and those coming on behind us to recognize the value of social advocacy.

Interviewee 4: “There’s different ways to think about social justice. The faculty standpoint will look different than a student. The faculty can help by creating classes with diverse issues, diverse staff, introducing books and texts from different backgrounds. Students should embrace the diverse group and keep the culture it brings.”

Interviewee 6: “We should help the campus community understand what’s expected from them when they’re here. That whenever anything happens, they can get together and address the issue comfortably.”
Seawolf Commitment
Faculty encouraging students to make the pact and report issues

7. Have you attended Social Justice week?
Interviewee 1: “Yes I did, not the full week because there are so many different events. But I did help promote it”

Interviewee 2: I have but not recently, but over time yes I have attended social justice week.

Interviewee 3: “Yes, I attended and supervised for the last two days of social justice week.”
Onsite supervisor for two days
It was fun, usually not somebody who attends events on campus
Always wanted to attend, peter philips invited to panel
International policy after trump last semester

Interviewee 4: Has not attended.

Interviewee 5: “I have.”

Interviewee 6: “Yes, I’ve been to some events. Films, lectures and speakers.”

8. What positive things do you remember about them or why did you not attended?
Interviewee 1: “I enjoyed all the panels that were presented and how well they were organized. I enjoyed the community coming together to speak on social justice.”
A lot of community, people coming together

Interviewee 2: Lives in Richmond so only commutes to work for the classes she teaches. Social Justice did not fit in her schedule.

Interviewee 3: Without question one thing that I always revert back to is that hinting that education is the tool to combat ignorance. One thing that comes out of the social justice representatives is the importance and the value of education. By recognizing the idea of education is the tool to combat ignorance apart of the advocacy in social week is that part of that advocacy is being mindful to continue educating oneself to the society that we live in, the policies and laws because without continuing to educate ourselves we cannot be advocates’ for others but we can encourage others to be advocates for themselves. The speakers, guests and students tend to be very passionate during social justice week about their work.

Interviewee 5: “The speakers are diverse they talk about economic issues, race issues, and issues on social class.”

Interviewee 6: “I don’t remember anything specific - it’s always good to bring these issues to light. Faculty can play a bigger role to encourage students to attend like offering extra credit.”

9. Who should be keynote during Social Justice week?
Interviewee 1: “One person that comes to my mind is an EOP alumni. Sandra Jackson. Can I get back to you on more people through email?”

Interviewee 2: Mary Kelly-Person PH.D, JD and Executive Director Hanna Institute. Mary Kelly is extremely familiar with DACA and immigration laws as she also has her law degree.

Interviewee 3: No recommendations.
Students should get involved
Nothing more compelling to stand in front of the mayor than a student
More accountable to student compared to professor
When students ask question, very powerful

Interviewee 4: “Marina Garcia Martinez, she is the director of the undocumented resource center. She is inspiring and well informed on how social justice work can help people.”
Mariana Garcia Martinez mgmartinez@sonoma
Director of undoco center, inspiring personal story

Interviewee 5: “Arlie Hochschild, she has a book Strangers in Their Own Land, that would be good to introduce. Mary Anne Cooper and her colleagues deal with economic and emotional projects in Silicon Valley, they would be good.”

Interviewee 6: “Ralph [Nader] is a little old, it’s great that he’s coming. Student’s don’t really know who he is. Someone like Laverne Cox, students go because of the pop culture but they get a good message. Find people that are in today’s pop culture, someone with name recognition like America Ferrera or Gina Rodriguez.”

10. Would you like to add anything else?
Interviewee 1: No further comments

Interviewee 2: No further comments.

Interviewee 3: No further comments.

Interviewee 4: “One thing that comes to mind is I wish we didn’t have to talk about social justice. I wish everyone just knew and was treated equally and it’s something that's dear to my heart.It’s good to have the conversations and to bring awareness. We need people who are caring and understanding and having that open dialogue is key.”

Interviewee 5: Recommended the Sociology Club get in touch with Mark, the director of the multicultural center.

Interviewee 6: “I think it’s good that we're talking about this.”
Thank You.

Results for Interviews
From the responses, we received from Sonoma State staff and faculty interviews, it is evident the six interviewees have similar perspectives on what social justice is. They all indicated social justice as an inequality that exist among groups that sparks social injustices in basically all aspects such as in; race, gender, socioeconomic status, education etc. Education seemed to be one of the most important elements that the staff expressed to be the most significant. As educators, they strongly believe all students deserve to have equal opportunities towards higher education. Likewise, they emphasized the importance of having faculty and staff that can relate and understand the minority populations on campus, in addition to teaching all students about diversity. From the six interviewees, five revealed in dealing with social justice issues on campus. However, most of the staff did not deal with social justice issues personally but being staff members students have gone to them for guidance on how to deal with such issues. Only one interviewee said she had not experienced social injustices on campus. The responses from question 4 seemed to be the only question that we received different views in regard to SSU being a present Hispanic serving institution. Two of the six responses stated it as a positive designate that provides awareness and assistance to Latinx students by providing services and resources. While four of the six responses argue that it has not made a huge difference. From the six interviewees only one has not attended social justice week at SSU. The staff and faculty find social justice week to be the ideal place where students and staff and the overall community can work together by discussing and educating individuals on pressing social justice issues. In addition, some of the interviewees recommended us potential keynote speakers for social justice week, Spring 2018.

Results for Student Surveys

In addition to interviewing staff and faculty we wanted to get students of SSU perspective on social justice. We surveyed students in current classes we are taking such as sociology of gender, research methods, early childhood education. We also did surveyed students in the EOP lounge, the study room located in Stevenson Hall and the library. Based on our survey responses we learned that students have witnessed social justice issues on campus or themselves have experienced them personally. We also asked students if they were interested in certain topics related to social justice such as; immigration, economic inequality, gender bias, racism, police brutality, and LGBTQ. Our responses indicate that a total of 441 strongly agree to wanting to learn more about these issues, 370 agree and 53 disagree. Lastly, we also noticed that students are not really aware of social justice week so that will help us advertise better for next semester as well as choosing topics that students want to learn more about.


From the interviews, most of the faculty have had experience dealing with social justice issues at Sonoma State, whether it be personally or helping a student through it. Many believe that we can benefit from creating programs that bring awareness to the population on campus in order to change the way these issues are handled. A few faculty members stressed the importance of changing the campus culture, one saying that it takes “four to five years” for a campus to adopt a program like the Seawolf Commitment. Most of the faculty members mentioned the use of the funding from being a Hispanic Serving Institution should be used to help underrepresented communities on campus.

The survey results determined the issues Sonoma State University students are most interested in. Twenty percent of students “Strongly Agree”, that racism should be a topic during Social Justice Week. Police Brutality, LBGTQ+ Discrimination, and Immigration came in second, with 17% each of the “Strongly Agree” category. Gender Bias (15%), and Economic Inequalities (14%) followed behind. By conducting this survey, it allowed us to understand the view of the student population. These responses will help us prioritize events for Social Justice Week that students are most interested in.


In conclusion, our research team was able to gather data and information that encompassed an extensive part of this study. The data collection, which was done through interviews and surveys, gave us the ability to create this research which resulted in a greater understanding and comprehension of our topic. The responses and information that we received from staff and students whom were part of our research gave light to a topic that is greatly unknown and goes unrecognized by many individuals in society. Considering that 4 out of 6 students indicated that the Hispanic Serving Institution has not made a difference, brings awareness to the fact that perhaps there is not enough being done. It is imperative that students feel like they are part of the community on campus and that their professors care about their education. Professors that were interviewed reported that education is one of the most significant topics regarding social justice on campus. Through the information we acquired, we are able to conclude that although professors strongly believe in equality and access in education, students feel as if the campus is not doing enough. I think we can all agree that the HSI has made some type of positive impact on campus, but it has not done enough to make students feel like our campus has come together as a whole. Of course, there are numerous of other results and findings but education seemed to be the most relevant and significant to staff and students.


Interview Guide

We are conducting research about Social Justice at Sonoma State University as part of the requirements for our Investigative Sociology class (Sociology 336) with Dr. Peter Phillip. We are also organizing Social Justice week for next semester. We agree to keep your responses confidential. You can skip any question or end the interview at any time.

What does social justice mean to you?
Have you ever dealt with any social justice issues on campus?
Are there particular areas of social justice that you feel very strongly about?
How does being a “Hispanic Serving Institution” affect our work in social justice on campus?
How can we continue to help minority students strive and achieve academic excellence here at Sonoma State?
What more should be done to help support social justice at Sonoma State:
Have you attended Social Justice week?
What positive things do you remember about them or why did you not attended?
Who should be keynote during Social Justice week?
Would you like to add anything else?
Thank You.

Survey Questionnaire
Social Justice at Sonoma State

Hello. This is a questionnaire to find out how Sonoma State students feel about Social Justice. For this survey examples of Social Justice are instances of racism, economic inequalities, gender biases . We are doing this research for our Sociology 336 Investigative course. If you have any concerns feel free to email Professor Elaine Wellin in the Sociology department to elaine.wellin [at] Your answers are confidential. Please do not write any information that could identify you on the survey.

1) Have you ever been involved in a social justice issue or witnessed one being committed on SSU campus?

Yes b) No

1a) If yes,

On-Campus at SSU
Dorm Residence on SSU
By a Staff Member of SSU
By another SSU Student
2) Have you ever reported a social justice issue to a staff or professor at Sonoma State?

Yes b) No

2a) If yes, did this issue get resolved?

Yes b) No

3) Next to each of the following statements, indicate whether you Strongly Agree (SA), Agree (OR), Disagree (D), Strongly Disagree (SD) by placing a checkmark in the appropriate box.

Strongly Agree
Strongly Disagree
I am interested about learning more about immigration

I would like to know more about economic inequality

I am interested about learning more about gender bias

I am interested about learning more about racism

I am interested about learning more about police brutality

I am interested about learning more about LGBTQ discrimination

4) Have you heard of Social Justice Week at Sonoma State University ?

Yes b) No

4a) If yes, did you participate?

Yes b) No

5) Have you seen any advertising about Social Justice week on campus ?

Yes b) No

6) What is your grade level at Sonoma State?
Senior +

7) What is your gender identification?

Male b) Female c) Other/Fluid

8) Please specify your ethnicity.

Hispanic or Latino/Latina
Black or African American
Native American or American Indian
Asian / Pacific Islander

9) What is your current major? _______

10) What is your age? _______
Thank you.

Survey Student Data Collected

There was a total of 144 surveys handed out to Sonoma State University students. Of whom we had six indicators for them to respond too. We ended up with 864 responses to question number 3 of the student survey. All the responses were divided by four categories which are as follows strongly agree, agree, disagree, and strongly agree. And the indicators were as follows immigration, economic inequality, gender bias, racism, police brutality, and LGBTQ discrimination.

We see the percentages divided solely for the category of strongly agree responses from the students to question 3 of the survey. It indicates what social justice issue the students at Sonoma State really want to be informed more upon in the future, and which ones have already been encountered or witnessed on campus.

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