LMC Honors Program to host social justice discussion panel

Published 10:30 am Monday, March 22, 2021

BENTON HARBOR — Lake Michigan College’s Honors Program will host a virtual Social Justice Forum at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 31, featuring a seven-person panel of local experts in the areas of grassroots activism, community programs and policy change.

A survey sent out to LMC students was used to create topics and questions for this event to address the top areas of concern. Based on this survey, they are racial inequality (82 percent), health care access and quality (62 percent) and economic inequality (49 percent).

“My goal as an instructor is always to help students realize that they are part of something larger and their voices matter,” said Social Sciences, Humanities and Education Department Chair Amy Scrima, who oversees the Honor’s Program. “I want students to understand that they are part of this community, so having these types of conversations are important not just to our student population but the community at large.”

Students who participated in the survey rated the areas where they needed additional information to make informed social change decisions. Those areas include healthcare access (69%), financial literacy (62 percent), police reform options (62 percent), how resource allocation decisions are made (56 percent), and implicit bias (54 percent).

The panel discussion, which is open to the public, will be moderated and structured in a civil discourse debate format. Panelists from each of the three expert groups will have the same amount of time to speak to each question. The panelists are:

  • Grassroots activism: Chokwe Pitchford, LMC alumni, community organizer, political candidate; Uriah Baker, LMC alumni, community organizer, political activist
  • Community programs: Gwen Sharp, founder of the SHARP foundation of Benton Harbor; Mary Lasata-Spiegel, managing attorney with Legal Aid of Western Michigan; Ryan Thyfault, an economic analyst with Kinexus Group
  • Policy/Institutional change: Laura Goos, mayor pro-tem for the city of St. Joseph and director of Human Resources, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for United Way of Southwest Michigan; Michael Nixon, vice president of Diversity and Inclusion at Andrews University

The audience also will be able to participate by asking questions at the end of the panelist discourse. This is a free community event, but registration is required.

For more information or to register, visit lakemichigancollege.edu/calendar.