Kwon appointed as Social Justice Committee chairwoman

As the new Social Justice Committee chairwoman, Kwon said she hopes to strengthen the relationships among the social justice community on campus.

Missouri Students Association Senator Young Kwon was selected to replace former Social Justice Committee chairman Payton Head, who announced his resignation during MSA Senate two weeks ago.

“Stepping down from SJC is bittersweet because I have been able to see how it’s grown so much in the past year that I have been chair,” Head said. “We now have a Facebook page with 630 likes, almost more than any other social justice organization (at MU), and a network called the MU Social Justice Network that has 435 members. It’s really great to see how much one committee for MSA can do in one year.”

Under Head’s leadership, the committee changed its name from the Multicultural Issues Committee to SJC, and therefore changed its brand, which Head said is one of his proudest accomplishments as chairman.

“How we could really get to the entire student body if we are the committee that only focused on multicultural issues, which has a connotation that only reflects your cultural identity?” Head said. “It also addresses issues, not solutions. By becoming the Social Justice Committee, we became a group that advocated for all different identities.”

Head said he is stepping down to pursue other leadership within MSA.

MSA Senate Speaker Ben Bolin also noted some of the great impacts Head had while SJC chairman.

“When he came into the committee, there was almost nobody, so he had to build it to what it is today, which is absolutely amazing and commendable,” Bolin said. “Seeing him leave is understandable, but it’s good to bring in fresh leadership to try to take SJC to an even higher height.”

Under Head’s leadership, SJC was nominated for the Chancellor’s Excellence Award, the Inclusive Excellence Award through the Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative and the Image Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which is part of the Coretta Scott King Organization of the Year Award.

The committee also met with the governing board of the Mizzou Alumni Association to discuss how MAA can represent minority students after they graduate.

Head and Kwon were also asked to be on the committee for the selection of the Inclusive Excellence Faculty Awards, which is overseen by Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs.

“I truly realized the impact the committee could have, even if there’s only 12 people on the committee,” Head said.

He said he believes his biggest strengths he brought to SJC are his vision and his ability to follow through.

Head said that perviously, there was a lack of vision and no one really knew what to accomplish. When he became chairman, he said his vision was making SJC one of the most visible social justice organizations through programs, legislation and advocacy to truly make a more inclusive campus.

“Most people know I always say talk is cheap,” Head said. “I’m not going to sit around and talk about things I’m not going to accomplish without a plan of action to get it accomplished. That’s how I’ve always operated.”

Bolin said he believes another one of Head’s strengths is bringing people together.

“(Head) has an ability to communicate between multiple parties,” he said. “He has the ability to bring the ideas, work ethic and fire of a group and continue to foster it into a bonfire that makes this campus shine.”

This semester, Kwon said she is working on a checklist of how to make a campus event more inclusive.

Kwon is also a member of the Asian American Association, works for the Multicultural Center, the Disability Center and is the co-chair of Four Front Minority Student Council.

She said she hopes her involvement with these on-campus social justice centers will help connect SJC with the rest of campus. She also wants to see more initiative from MSA senators and would like to start more projects with them in committee.

“I hope to grow some emerging leaders and make people feel like they can do this and start new projects,” Kwon said.

When Head was chair, he had a similar view of MSA senator involvement on campus.

“When I was a senator, I got to a point that I was glazed over,” Head said. “I didn’t feel like I had that much of an ability to make a change. Using my experience with SJC, I reminded MSA senators not to be stagnant. Senators and everyone, please never forget that you’re here to serve the students. You don’t need a fancy title or a gold name plate to do it. All the work we did in SJC, I realized that I could’ve done as a senator or a non-senator. It was just the ability to believe that I could do it.”

Kwon said she hopes to continue bringing in people from the social justice community to the SJC meetings to make sure the committee’s ideas are effective.

“Sometimes we think something is a great idea without asking the community that’s involved with that issue,” Kwon said. “That’s something I’m struggling with. We really need to ask the community what they need and if our idea would work. If any community is left out, I or other SJC members will reach out and make sure their voices are heard in MSA.”

Kwon said she believes simultaneously serving as Four Front co-chair and SJC chair will be an advantage because she can easily connect the two organizations. However, a disadvantage will be time management, Kwon said.

“I have a lot of things on my plate right now, but I’m hoping to tie everything together and collaborate with all the groups,” Kwon said. “Being SJC chair and Four Front co-chair will make it easier to connect those two councils together, because it is hard to connect those when you’re not part a part of both groups.”

Kwon said another one of her goals as SJC chair is to establish and strengthen their relationships with the social justice centers on campus.

Bolin said he has not worked with Kwon previously, but he is excited to start working with her.

“From what I’ve seen in her interview, application and contacts, she’s done a great job bringing everyone together in Four Front,” Bolin said. “She’s going to hopefully be bringing Four Front and SJC together and also higher, because they can mobilize a greater force of social justice warriors for our campus.”

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