Celebrating Social Justice

The annual ’DEIS Impact festival explores social justice on campus, in Waltham and around the world

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At a university where the pursuit of equality and fairness is an undeclared major for many students, Brandeis’ annual festival of social justice energizes the campus and neighboring communities.

This year’s ’DEIS Impact! was an exploration of social justice on campus, in Waltham and around the world – 11 days of talks, workshops, screenings, performances, exhibits and discussions for the campus community and beyond.

Students, professors, clubs and academic departments organized nearly 40 different events, ranging from an exhibit of Brandeis’ history of activism to a former death row inmate speaking about his experiences to a discussion of business ethics.

“Most college campuses have committed social-justice advocates, but social justice infuses Brandeis,” said Marci McPhee, associate director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, a ’DEIS Impact co-sponsor.

More than 400 people attended the ’DEIS Impact keynote, which featured actress Eliza Dushku (“Bring it On,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “True Lies”) and her mother, Judy, a professor at Suffolk University. Judy cofounded THRIVEGulu, a not-for-profit organization that is helping Ugandans terrorized by years of civil war.

 Eliza has played a significant role in supporting the organization.

The Brandeis Student Union cosponsors ’DEIS Impact with the Ethics Center. The Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice provides financial assistance. A student-staff partnership organizes the festival.

“To most people, this annual festival of social justice is known as ’DEIS Impact, but to Brandeisians ’DEIS Impact is our homecoming. After all, our school sport is social justice,” said senior Amanda Dryer, who headed this year's ’DEIS Impact Steering Committee.

The festival’s final event was the SoJust Leadership Forum, where Brandeis alumni shared their social-justice journeys and provided inspiration, advice and encouragement for students interested in pursuing careers in the field.

Speakers included Sam Vaghar ’08, founder and executive director of the Millennium Campus Network; Ronald Glover ’73, vice president of diversity and workforce programs at IBM; Sarah Emond, MPP ’09, chief operating officer at the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review at Mass. General Hospital; and Tackey Chan ’95, a Massachusetts state representative from Quincy and one of the first two Asian-Americans to serve in the state legislature.