Barnard Social Justice Institute to fight 'right-wing attacks'

The Barnard College Center for Research on Women has announced the creation of a Social Justice Institute (SJI) on campus, which will provide support to help left-wing activists spread their ideas and dispute conservative arguments.

The Institute is a project of the Barnard College Center for Research on Women (BCRW), which describes the initiative as “the next stage of our activist-academic collaborations,” noting that “since its founding in 1971, [BCRW] has brought scholars and activists together to advance intersectional social justice feminism.”

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According to the SJI homepage, the Institute “will provide support for a cohort of five activists to deepen their thinking; connect with new collaborators; begin or continue their projects; and build a broader platform for their critical perspectives and on-the-ground movement building work.” The residencies are slated to last until 2018.

Barnard declined to comment on how the SJI is funded, but the website indicates that the BCRW expects to realize at least some savings, at least compared to the cost of establishing an independent organization with the same purpose.

“Taking seriously the critiques of the academic and non-profit industrial complexes that have emerged from the left in the last few decades,” it explains, “BCRW designed the Social Justice Institute with a unique structure intended to reduce the barriers that often come with maintaining a non-profit organization, such as the infrastructural costs and dependencies that often accompany foundation funding.”

The first cohort of activists-in-residence will include activist-filmmaker Reina Gossett, who works on “intersections of trans justice and prison abolition,” and lawyer-activist Dean Spade, who focuses on “the critical intersections of disability justice, prison abolition, and queer and trans liberation.”

Both Gossett and Spade were previously awarded BCRW Activist Fellowships, Gossett for “her work at the intersections of trans justice and prison abolition,” and Spade for “his work on trans liberation, prison abolition, and the limits and tactical uses of legal strategies for left organizing.”

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Another notable activist who will receive support from the SJI is Tarso Ramos, the director of Political Research Associates, a self-described “social justice think-tank” with the slogan “Challenging the Right, Advancing Social Justice.”

During his residency with the Barnard Social Justice Institute, Ramos plans on convening a group of leaders to discuss “movement building” in the context of “right wing attacks against reproductive, racial, gender, and economic justice.”

The other activists named to the institute are similarly social-justice oriented.

Andrea Ritchie, for instance, intends to use her fellowship to “focus on deepening public understandings of the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and criminal justice” through articles and books, while Cara Page, a “black queer feminist cultural worker,” plans to study “historical and contemporary eugenic practices and medical experimentation to shape a public discourse on the historical and contemporary role of eugenic violence as an extension of state control and surveillance on Black & immigrant communities.”

Spokespersons for Barnard declined to comment on the matter, and none of the activists-in-residence had responded to requests for comment from Campus Reform by press time.

Tuition at Barnard College costs approximately $65,000 per year, for which price students can also gain access to a number of other left-wing resources, including a residential Social Justice House and a Social Justice Lounge, the latter of which recently played host to a “Cocoa & Coloring” event to help students “de[-]stress” from Donald Trump’s election victory.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen