Making an impact
Heather Spector ’17 looks to this year’s ’DEIS Impact for social change
’DEIS Impact is a festival of social justice taking place Friday through Feb 9. This week-long festival will consist of more than 40 events hosted by clubs, students and academic departments. The International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life and the Student Union sponsor this annual event. Just Features sat down with Heather Spector ’17, the vice chair of ’DEIS Impact.
justFeatures: How did you get involved in ’DEIS impact? As Vice Chair of ’DEIS Impact, what does your position entail?
Heather Spector: I was a ’DEIS impacter last year. ’DEIS impacters are the members of the core committee who plan ’DEIS Impact. My role this year wasn’t a role last year. We decided we wanted someone to take on this kind of role under the position, Vice Chair of ’DEIS Impact. This year I was coordinating liaisons for each event, between the ’DEIS impact coordinators and the proposals.
JF: How many people are involved in ’DEIS Impact?
HS: In the core committee there are about ten of us. We also work very closely with [Associate Director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life] Marci McPhee. She is a faculty member and comes to every one of our meetings. She’s incredible, she’ll be at most of the ’DEIS Impact events- and there are about forty. She’s an amazing person and like a mentor to me.
JF: Does everything take place in the Shapiro Campus Center?
HS: No, all over campus. Many are in the Shapiro Campus Center, some are in the International Lounge, Heller [School for Social Policy and Management], in [the International Business School], so they’re all over campus and there’s a lot.
JF: How unique is this to Brandeis? Do you know if other schools have programs like this?
HS: It’s extremely unique to Brandeis and how Brandeis was founded upon social justice ideals. It started as trying to embrace what Brandeis was founded upon. I don’t know of another school that has an entire festival devoted to social justice, but other schools have initiatives similar in the forms of clubs. I know that at other local colleges there are groups who are interested in advocating for social justice but don’t have this entire festival devoted to celebrating and exploring what needs to be done in the future.
JF: Why do you think it’s called a weeklong “festival of social justice?” Why does it last a week?
HS: Just because we want to have as many events as possible and we want all different areas to be represented. We want to explore justice in a lot of different ways so that people going to events will find something that they’re interested in. We don’t want to address one audience; we want to address many different audiences.
JF: What can you tell us about the Keynote Address?
HS: Alan Khazei is speaking and he is founder of City Year. He’s big on encouraging people, especially youths, to get engaged in social issues and how to make a difference in their communities. He will talk about his experiences and empowering people to make a change in the world and see that it’s possible. I’m personally interested because I’m a business student and he’s going to touch on social entrepreneurship, which is something he has experience with. I’m really interested to see how he incorporates his passion for social justice into his career.
JF: What events are you looking forward to that you can tell us about?
HS: The business [Undergraduate Departmental Representatives] are planning an event about social entrepreneurship, and I’m excited to hear that and see how businesses can help make the world more just. There are also more mental illness events this year than there were last year. … Last year we didn’t have a category for these events and this year we have an entire category called “Health and Healing” so I’m very excited for that. So you can actually access this category online and see what events you might be interested in.
JF: What has ’DEIS Impact been like in the past? What’s different, what’s new or the same?
HS: This is the fourth year of ’DEIS Impact and this year we have a few less events. We want to focus more on the quality of the events so that people will feel empowered at each one. This year we also wanted to focus more on intercollegiate alliances. We’re trying to get more of Waltham and the greater community involved. We’re also focusing more this year on lasting impact. Our motto this year is, “the only way to make an impact is to act.”
JF: How do you hope this week-long festival of events will impact campus? What do you hope to see?
HS: I hope more people on campus might find different kinds of interests that they didn’t know they had—that they will feel more inclined to make a difference in issues that they care about. I actually did the social justice pre-orientation as an incoming first-year and that’s when I knew I wanted to be involved in something advocating for that. … I’m hoping people will be confident in a more positive world and want to contribute to it.