by Darlene Leal
Social justice is ingrained in the culture of Roosevelt. For Heather Dalmage, social justice has taken a new role in her life. As the new president of The Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), founded in 1951, Dalmage will focus on social justice through the SSSP. It was created because there was a perception that sociology was not focusing enough on social justice issues.
Recently, Heather Dalmage, professor of sociology and director of Mansfield Institute for Social Justice, became the first RU president of SSSP.
“The first meeting I ever went to for SSSP was in 1994. I was still a grad student. It was the first academic conference I ever been to,” Dalmage said. “At the time, my mentor was the president of the organization and so I really got sort of an inside view of what was going on and how wonderful and how grad student focused, and mentoring focused they were.”
Dalmage continued with saying how much the mentoring had helped her tremendously over the years.
Two years ago, Dalmage was nominated to become president for SSSP and she accepted the nomination. She then had to write about how she understood her role as president and what she would do for the organization, it was then that elections were open.
It took about two months for the entire membership to vote for their next president, and when the voting process was over she was told that she won. Dalmage expressed great excitement saying that she quickly reached out to her mentor and former SSSP presidents, who guided her through the process, to tell them the good news.
She expressed being shocked about winning but being so happy to have heard the news of her win.
As far as future plans as SSSP’s president, Dalmage wants to help get away from the negativity and go back to dreaming of a bigger future. “So, what I would focus on as president is to ask scholars to imagine the way that the world could and should be rather than always researching, responding to and writing about injustices in the world,” Dalmage said.
“We need to spend sometime really thinking through what kind of a world should we be creating and then moving ways to help create that world, researching ways. Write our scholarship, engage in activism in ways that will help create that vision. If we don’t have a vision guiding where we are going then we’re stuck responding to what’s in place now,” said Dalmage.
SSSP is founded by sociologists, but it is open to students, scholars and activists.
Dalmage encourages students at RU who are interested in social justice and activism to consider SSSP. “Roosevelt has this mission in social justice. It just makes me so happy to know this organization that I’m now going to be president of was actually- the founding meeting was in the old faculty lounge in Roosevelt University- well Roosevelt College then. What a cool connection,” Dalmage said.