GSR 101 projects address social justice

November 30, 2017

Author: Darrius Doe

People pose for the camera.

Gunner Woodall (back left), Student Success intern, and Dr. Kari Hansen (Second, back left), assistant professor in the Department of Business, with some of the GSR 101 students who showcased their social justice projects. Hansen taught GSR 101-13: Mental Health.

At Gallaudet and nearly all college and university campuses around the country, social justice is a topic of heavy discussion and debate. The topic is broached on a daily basis at Gallaudet as the campus community works together to create a university that is equitable, inclusive, and diverse.

Social justice is also infused into the curricula of Gallaudet's General Studies Requirements (GSR) 101 classes. All students are required to take GSR classes, which emphasize skill development in critical thinking, language, and communication. This semester, GSR 101 instructors and peer mentors worked hard with their students to explore the important and sometimes uncomfortable social justice topics for their projects. Student Success intern Gunner Woodall, planned the event.

On November 14, 2017, nearly all of the GSR 101 classes came together to showcase their projects to a packed crowd in the Living and Learning Residence Hall 6 (LLRH6) terrace lounge.

"Students concentrated on issues such as language rights, audism, and elitism, and nationally-recognized issues such as mental health oppression, sexual assault, Black Lives Matter, immigrants' rights, deaf professionals' oppression, the NAACP travel advisory, women's reproduction rights, and finally, how to respond to oppression," said Dr. Kathleen Wood, coordinator of GSR 101 and 150, both First Year Experience courses.

Additional issues addressed included animal abuse and testing, the NFL's National Anthem protests, and LGBTQ+ experiences of coming out to one's parents and families.

Student Success peer mentors assisted students who shared their projects through videos, posters, slideshows, and video projects involving short dramatic pieces.

Guy Traxler and his group focused on on-campus audism and language accessibility. Their video displayed discrimination from hearing and hard of hearing students toward deaf students, and discrimination from students fluent in ASL against new signers.

"I think this issue is important because we are all in one community," said Traxler. "I hope my project can teach people to be more patient, open-minded, and inclusive of each other despite having different linguistic backgrounds."

Woodall said the students loved working on these projects, felt empowered, and made new friends and acquaintances.

"This event was created mostly to empower the students early, to speak out for these issues rather than waiting until they are upperclassmen," said Woodall. "I hope we are able to do this every semester, or on an annual basis, as it is truly beneficial for the students as well as the campus community."

Attendants and participants at the GSR 101 presentations.

Attendants and participants at the GSR 101 presentations.

Students and other onlookers watch as the video projects play overhead for all to see.

Students and other onlookers watch as the video projects play overhead for all to see.

All photos by Alejandra Silva.