Social Justice Summit

Members of the summit’s student planning committee are, from left standing, Lauren Guzman, criminal justice; Norma Franco, psychology; Paul Saiedi, communications; and, Melissa Nicole Melendez, human services. From left seated are Felipe Salazar, Latin American Studies; Amy Mattern, coordinator of the Volunteer & Service Center; and, Massimo Marini, economics.

Social Justice Summit April 21 Promotes Activism, Change

Students, Community Members Invited to Free Event
Featuring Inspirational Speakers, Educational Workshops

April 17, 2007

By Debra Cano Ramos

In her closing keynote address at Cal State Fullerton’s Social Justice Summit April 21, author, playwright and performance artist Kate Bornstein hopes to reveal what she calls a central source of social injustice in this country: the bully culture.                                                                                  

“I plan to outline the mechanics of that bully culture and how we can deal with it on a personal and group level,” said Bornstein, whose latest book is “Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws.” She will perform the chapter, “Hello, Cruel Bullies.”

Bornstein, whose career has focused on exploring issues of gender, sexuality and alternatives to suicide, said she has faced social injustices first-hand, but tackles the insensitivities with her spunk and wit.

“I’m close to the bottom of the barrel when it comes to who’s freaky in this country… so I’m able to talk about the subject of social justice from the point of view of a person who is treated with a great deal of injustice, and I do it mostly with a good sense of humor,” said Bornstein, a transgender woman who lives in New York City.

With its theme “Wake Up! Open Our Eyes to Injustice,” the Social Justice Summit is dedicated to bringing students and community members together to promote social action and activism. The event, held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Titan Student Union’s Portola Pavilion, is free and open to students and the public.

Sonali Kolhatkar, host of KPFK’s show “Uprising” and a human rights and women’s rights advocate, is the opening keynote speaker at the third annual summit, presented by the Volunteer & Service Center’s Students ACT (Students Advocating Civic Transformation). Members of Students ACT promote social and political change and volunteerism through education, empowerment and action.

The daylong event is an opportunity to share strategies, learn from community leaders and become an active participant in community service, civic engagement, advocacy and social justice, said Amy Mattern, Volunteer & Service Center coordinator.

“The summit is an important forum for residents in Orange County who are interested in addressing social injustices facing our local, national and global communities,” Mattern said. “Whether highlighting ways to advocate for human rights or finding innovative solutions for environmental problems, the summit offers something for everyone.”

Other highlights include social justice-related workshops that focus on education, human rights, civil rights and the environment, as well as a resource fair. A free vegan lunch will be served. Advance registration also is requested at or by calling 657-278-7623. Registration is available beginning at 8 a.m. on the day of the event.

Summit Empowers Change

The Earth Day weekend event is a “green summit,” aimed at encouraging participants to make everyday choices based on environmentally and socially conscious decisions. Attendees will receive a “Conscious Consumer Guide to Orange County.”

“From the vegan food to recycled and biodegradable materials and decorations, the summit models socially-conscious choices,” Mattern said.   

Senior Felipe Salazar, a founding member of the summit who is involved in this year’s student planning committee, said he’s excited that the event has not only grown each year — from 150 people the first year to 300 attendees last year — but that it has empowered people to become voices for society’s causes.

“The event is important not only because it sheds light on many of the
pervasive social and political issues that are plaguing our communities, but also because it empowers participants to create change. I believe the latter is so important because creating change is the ultimate goal,” said Salazar, a Latin American Studies major who is graduating in May.

Bornstein, 59, who has a new solo performance show, “Kate Bornstein is A Queer and Pleasant Danger,” and is writing a memoir of the same name due out in fall 2008, said her interest in devoting time to promoting social justice issues is personal.

“I’m just old and I’ve already done most everything else. That, plus I’m really mad about how youth are treated in our highly vaunted land of the free and  home of the brave. I’m fed up with this country’s culture of fear, and I’ve found a way to counteract it.”

Bornstein said she hopes to motivate summit attendees to take action in their own lives and bring about change.

“It starts with changing the way we deal with each other on a one-to-one basis, and it grows from there,” she said. “There’s no other way to do it. We need to get rid of the idea that anyone has the right to control our identities, desires and/or power. And we need to stop trying to control the identities, desires, and/or power of others.”

For more information: 657-278-7623 or Free parking is available in the State College Parking Structure.
Back to Top