University Park, IL,
15:07 PM

Groundbreaking for new social justice initiative at Governors State

SJI Groundbreaking 1

About 70 people came out to

celebrate the SJI groundbreaking

Ubuntu: “I am because you are. You are because I am.” These were the first words spoken by Dr. Phyllis West, Director of the Social Justice Initiative (SJI), at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the SJI Center at Governors State University (GovState) on Monday, October 23, 2023. SJI, which began as an idea, is expanding its roots with the construction of this new center.

In the warm autumn sunlight, amidst an alternating gentle breeze and a brisk wind, a celebratory spirit commenced at the groundbreaking that included students, faculty, administration, partners, community members, area elected officials, university trustees, and other dignitaries.

West said the Ubuntu quote was a metaphor for the community that helped bring her dream to life. “The Social Justice Initiative is because of all of you," she said to about 70 gathered for the intimate ceremony near the campus dorms Prairie Place, “We must do this work together.”

Launched in 2022, SJI, the brainchild and vision of GovState President, Cheryl F. Green, was born in response to the light shown on racial unrest and racial disparities during the pandemic. Its goal is to eliminate barriers to higher education, success, and equity for the Southland Community.

The 2600 square-foot building will house a reception, lobby, multipurpose space for meetings and events, office and support space, and a conference room, according to Principle Architect Dominick Demonica. The structure was designed to embody a welcoming and uplifting atmosphere and a connection to surrounding nature. Its roof line, lifted on one side, is intended to lift the spirits of all who enter, he said.

The center is expected to open next year.

In June of 2023, SJI launched a Self-Help Legal Assistance Clinic, and in collaboration with REFORM Alliance and LIVE FREE will be hosting the Generating Hope: Social Justice Resource Fair, Friday, October 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the Hall of Governors at GovState. This event is free and includes. continental breakfast and lunch.

For more information about SJI, please click here.