Global Justice Center Opens, Encourages Student Activism

Financed by two Abbot Academy Association (AAA) grants, the Phillips Academy Community Service Office’s Center for Global Justice held an opening presentation and reception last Sunday in the basement of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL). With books, magazines, and videos pertaining to international issues, the Center looks to encourage students to learn about global concerns and to add their own input and research to the collections. According to Center Coordinators Sara Duvisac ’03, Bryce Kaufman ’03, and Alex Lee ’03, the new resource library – a concept developed by Ryan Couglan ’02 and Emily Kumpel ’02 – includes fourteen “topic binders” containing fact sheets, bibliographies, and organization contact information for specific issues such as genocide or AIDS awareness. In addition to its primary role as a research tool, the Center will also serve as a forum for open discussion and debate about contemporary topics in worldwide justice. Community Service Director Mike Koehler ’94 said, “We won’t build this place in one day. But with your help, we can expand this Center to fill all of these shelves… The beauty of this Center is that it has been run entirely by students. The coordinators have taken the idea and run with it.” During her presentation of the Center and its goals, Duvisac emphasized the need to inspire within students a passion for certain causes. She explained, “This is a community project. The entire community must participate in order to reap the benefits. How [the Center] looks is a reflection of how much effort the campus puts in.” Added Kaufman, “The grand-opening was not so much of a ribbon-cutting ceremony as an opportunity for us to say, ‘This is what we’ve done so far, and this is what you can do to help.’” From a logistics standpoint, OWHL has provided its support for the Community Service Office’s effort throughout the planning phases. Although the corner of the ground-floor stacks occupied by the Center at one point appeared to be the next home of the Loan Library, the Justice Center moved in when the Loan Library found an open spot on the second floor. “This part of the building has been empty for a long time,” noted Reference and Instructional Services Librarian Timothy Sprattler, “When the Global Justice Center was looking for a home, the library seemed like a logical gathering place for the student body. It has a very small video collection, which we hope to add to, and we also plan to add more magazines and pamphlets.” Community Service Coordinator Alex Colaianni ’03 hopes to build a wish tree to decorate the space. The idea for the tree came from a Japanese children’s book by Moira Kalman, in which the children write their hopes on pieces of paper and tie them to the tree. Colaianni will use a real tree and incorporate the United Nations’ eight millennium goals as the first eight wishes. “I thought it was a very romantic idea,” observed Colaianni. “And it seemed appropriate for the space. A lot of wanting to change things is wishing for the best.” Summarizing the broader message behind the Center, Mr. Koehler explained, “We always talk about closing the gap between service and justice. Service is great, but it’s not enough. You need to educate yourselves about the systems that create the need for service. You must work at the roots of problems more than at the branches, and I hope this center will help students do just that.” “The Center for Global Justice should provide students with a valuable resource for learning about world concerns. As a member of the Community Service board, I believe that an important part of service is just to be aware of what’s going on in the world right now. We are living in a time when any event may impact the entire the world. Thus, the new center keeps the students informed,” said Coordinator Matt Lindsay ’03.