Social Justice Resource Center Opens To Further TUC's Equity Mission
Reference materials, meeting space highlight center's offerings
Touro University California further strengthened its commitment to equity and inclusion with the opening of the Social Justice Resource Center (SJRC), November 7, inside the school’s library.
While social justice is a core component of TUC’s values, the SJRC is the first space on campus dedicated solely to social justice.
The opening of the center concludes a three-year process of development – a span that was extended due to pandemic lockdowns. The resources available within the center are intended to not only connect with traditionally marginalized groups, but also to help aid in the education of those not from those groups in order to be better advocates and allies for friends and colleagues.
Anika Lee, TUC’s Equity Officer, said the center is a gateway for understanding.
“Equity must come first,” Lee said. “This is done through intentional projects that create a commitment to equity for lasting progress.”
This is a continual journey, Lee said, one where people from differing backgrounds can be seen and heard in ways that weren’t always available in the past.
Provost and CEO Dr. Sarah Sweitzer recognized the team effort it took to get this project off the ground but also noted how that effort reflected the importance of equity for students, staff, and faculty across TUC’s campus.
“This center is really multiple years of planning and multiple years of advocacy at the student level, the staff level and the faculty level,” Dr. Sweitzer said. “Our thanks really goes out to our students asking us to stay on the forefront and focus on student needs.”
Dr. Theo Smith, an anatomy professor and the advisor of the Rainbow Health Coalition, echoed Dr. Sweitzer’s thoughts on teamwork.
“This project is the pinnacle of what student-faculty collaboration should look like,” Dr. Smith said.
Two elected officials, Alma Hernandez, Mayor Pro Tem from Suisun City, and Councilmember Doriss Panduro from Fairfield, spoke briefly at the opening ceremony about the need for a center like this.
Touro faculty and students are highly engaged in both Fairfield and Suisun City and, as the first elected Latinas in their respective cities, both Hernandez and Panduro appreciated the creation of the center.
“It is important to create spaces in our communities where we can meet to have really tough conversations,” Hernandez said. “To be able to do that locally … is vital to be able to improve everything we do at all levels.”
Panduro described herself as a first-generation Mexican-American and felt it was necessary, even in the height of campaigning, to be at the opening.
“It’s very important for us to be here today,” Panduro said. “When I was going through my college years, I didn’t have role models that looked like me. It’s important to have places like this where we can meet, and listen, and learn.”
The SJRC is stocked with books, films and other resources that are intended to support representation and increase access to social justice awareness across the campus, Lee said.