The SJRC is a hub of innovative, justice-minded leadership and social action on campus. This work is done through coalition building, developing and maintaining strategic partnerships, and creating a space where collective student power is elevated.
The SJRC was born out of student advocacy demanding for a space in which students can have conversations centered around social justice and activism. A coalition of students and staff came together and identified the need for such space on campus. From there, the SJRC was founded in 2011 with the leadership of Dr. Chong Sun Kim Wong with the support of Northeastern’s then Associate Dean for Cultural, Residential and Spiritual Life, Robert Jose. The Center used to be a part of Residential Life and started in a single room in West Village A North.
In Fall 2012, the SJRC moved from the Residential Life area of Student Life to the new Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service (CSDS). This shift recognized the leading role that communities of faith and conscience have played in the history of social change in the US and globally. The SJRC shared its physical space with CSDS and OPEN in the basement of 106 Saint Stephens Street.
In Summer 2015, the SJRC became its own independent department within Student Life under the direction of Shaya Gregory Poku to continue to support Northeastern students’ productive engagement with contemporary civic and social challenges.
While the SJRC continues to be an independent center, it entered into a partnership with the Center of Intercultural Engagement given the close alignment of the mission and values of the two spaces. The CIE was founded in 2016 with Karin Firoza serving as the director of both the CIE and SJRC. The CIE and SJRC became part of the seven centers under the newly combined department of Cultural & Spiritual Life.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the SJRC space was closed and all campus programs and classes were conducted virtually. During the closure, the SJRC space in Saint Stephens flooded and was deemed uninhabitable by campus facilities. Additionally, Cultural & Spiritual Life experienced an exodus of staff which left many centers, including the SJRC unstaffed for a significant time during the pandemic.
After a two-year vacancy and hiatus, the new Associate Director, Erick Yanzon, was hired in Fall 2021, who led the reimagining of the current SJRC vision, programs and operations. In January 2022, the SJRC moved to its temporary home in 172 Curry Student Center. Currently, the SJRC is continuing to rebuild its presence on campus and fostering a space where collective student voice is elevated.
“You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.”
Grace Lee Boggs