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President Ettling Creates Social Justice Task Force

SUNY Plattsburgh President John Ettling has named Maxine Perry '01 and Dr. Jonathan Slater to co-chair the Social Justice Task Force, a key component from a list of steps created to improve the campus climate and collective expectations.

"Maxine and Jonathan are especially qualified to help lead this effort," Ettling said. "Along with the rest of this task force, we are going to have an inclusive, transparent and thoughtful process in how we address matters of diversity and acceptance here. I am pleased to have such accomplished and distinguished members of the SUNY Plattsburgh family agree to be a part of the solution for our campus and community, and I am excited for them to get started.” 

The task force is charged with helping the president and college leadership better understand matters of social justice, ensuring all voices are heard. The work will be ongoing and inform further action steps the college should undertake and/or what other factors should be considered. The group should sent its initial report to him no later than Aug. 1.

Other members will include students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community leaders. The membership of the task force is being finalized this week.

Perry currently serves as tenant relations coordinator for the Plattsburgh Housing Authority. She is a community organizer and legal advocate, working previously in the STOP Domestic Violence program at Behavioral Health Services North. She has served as coordinator for the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee; chairperson of the Human Rights Commission in Clinton County; vice president of RSVP in Clinton County; and on the boards of the Joint Council for Economic Opportunity and Literacy Volunteers of Clinton County.

“In order to create a peaceful community, we must practice social justice," Perry said. "Protecting social justice is a catalyst to propel individuals and groups to action, therefore aspiring to seek solutions that are fair and just.”

Slater is director of the college's Institute for Ethics in Public Life, an associate professor of public relations and is chair of the Department of Journalism and Public Relations. His career has also included work in cross-cultural advertising, economic development, public television and the classroom. He also coordinates the Judaic studies minor on campus and serves as Plattsburgh State Hillel’s faculty adviser, organizing the college’s annual Holocaust commemoration and the Douglas R. Skopp Creative Competition on the Theme of the Holocaust.

"Social justice is not a thing; it's a continuous process that involves an entire institution — all of its stakeholders working together," Slater said. "Social justice is first and foremost a collective responsibility to protect those at a disadvantage and to help them flourish in tangible ways. By establishing this task force, SUNY Plattsburgh is clearly demonstrating its commitment to social action and cultural change that will benefit the entire campus community."

The creation of the Social Justice Task Force is one of 10 steps outlined by Ettling in February to address diversity and campus climate matters. The task force will also address other aspects of the agenda and help ensure SUNY Plattsburgh is both inclusive and responsive.

Details on the steps and updates for each are posted online at www.plattsburgh.edu

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