Center for Community and Social Justice Arises at Champlain College

Amid an unconventional school year, a new organization comes to life.


Photo taken at Black Lives Matter protest in Montpelier, VT.

Social justice is a hotspot in the country at the moment, between Black Lives Matter protests and pleading for people to follow Covid-19 rules. Champlain College is introducing a new Center for Community and Social Justice  in order to get students involved in changes they want to make both on campus and in the community.

Dr. Patti Aldredge, associate professor and Social Work program director, is heavily involved in the launch of the center.

“The Center for Community and Social Justice is an incubator of next-practice community safety that envisions equal justice for all that is achieved through structurally transforming public safety models, expanding community capacity, and strengthening social safety networks,” Aldredge described.

The Center is set for a “soft launch” in the spring semester, with some projects and events to create awareness of the group. The full launch is likely to take place in Fall 2021.

Aldredge explained that there are specific types of students they are looking for to take part in the Center, including, “Students who have a commitment to working for community and social justice, exploring what social and community justice looks like in action, and centering the community, particularly BIPOC and other oppressed communities, in developing models of community and social justice.”

Currently no students are involved with the Center for Community and Social Justice, but the Center is working on reaching out to people who may fit its guidelines. The staff involved are also working on designing internship opportunities at the Center.

Tony Perriello, Associate Professor, EHS Assistant Dean, and Criminal Justice Program Director, discussed what the Center for Community and Social Justice would focus on.

“The Center for Community and Social Justice will convene members of the community — the campus community, as well as the broader communities in Vermont and perhaps across the country — who will determine the specific issues to be considered,” Perriello said. “The Center will not set an agenda, but will rather facilitate the discussion on issues important to the community.

Aldredge elaborated on her idea of social justice by saying, “The simplest definition I can give is that social justice is the fair distribution of, and equal access and rights to, economic, political, social and environmental opportunities.

Perriello included more in that definition, saying, “I would add equal access and rights to justice.”

The Center for Community and Social Justice comes during a year in which many are striving for social justice. 2020 has seen many protests, riots, and arguments about human rights.

The Black Lives Matter movement has risen during 2020, but it has been around since 2013, when three black women, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, created the movement after the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman. After the death of George Floyd in May 2020, from police brutality, people started speaking about the Black Lives Matter yet again. This time, people continued talking about it, spreading information all over social media. Protests occurred almost every day in select cities. 

Since the Black Lives Matter movement is a form of social justice, the organizers want to build a sense of community and feeling of safety for people of color.

Social justice has become a trending topic on social media, not just for the Black Lives Matter movement, but also for speaking out in support of women, as well as other racial groups that are discriminated against.

The Center for Community and Social Justice invites a conversation about the issues happening in our country, our city, and our campus.