By Evi Arthur
Every year, Roosevelt University honors student activists that have gone above and beyond in creating positive changes in their environment with the Matthew Freeman Lecture and Social Justice Award.
This year, the lecturer is Dr. Wendy Simonds, author of “Hospital Land USA: Sociological Adventures in Medicalization.”
“She is speaking about the role of medicalization in society – this is of central concern to all of us – beginning and end of life – as well as so many stops along the way,” said Heather Dalmage, director of the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice.
The event took place on March 12 at 11 a.m. and the winner of the Social Justice award was announced prior to the lecture.
This student social justice award was created in memory of Matthew Freeman, a graduate of Roosevelt who died just before graduation. “He was always committed to creating a more just world,” Dalmage said.
“The community can come together, engage in dialogue, debate issues, develop insights and honor those engaging in the heavy lifting of changing our world,” Dalmage said.
This year, the Matthew Freeman committee decided to award two students with the social justice award rather than just one.
Brittney Austin, a senior biology major, was nominated for her work as the Black Student Union (BSU) president and for the many safe spaces she has implemented on campus for minority groups.
This year’s other winner is CCPA graduate student Sean Hussey was nominated for his refugee project in Sweden over the summer and many collaborative projects with fellow CCPA students.
All of Hussey’s projects involved using music to improve his community.
“Music is a powerful communicator, and is something humans respond to on a deep level. This, in turn, makes social justice work through music that much more intuitive,” Hussey said.
Events like these are an important aspect of Roosevelt University’s mission of social justice in which those going above and beyond can be recognized.
“My goal is to continue to use music to connect people, inspire change, and build community by evoking moral imagination,” Hussey said.
Hussey said the award is essential to motivate other students to build and maintain a strong environment of social advocacy. Hussey said instead of focusing on the competition, students should focus on what they can do for each other.
“We all have a responsibility to humanity and addressing injustice. I think it’s human to have empathy, and then enact that empathy toward creating change,” said Dalmage.