Nearly 20 students joined Mayor Paul Soglin at Gordon’s Event and Dining Center Tuesday, as he shared his interests and past experiences in social justice.
Hosted by University of Wisconsin’s Multicultural Learning Community, Soglin began with a history lesson that provided context to the current politics of the university campus and the country as a whole.
“Im giving you a head start on your basic history class,” said Soglin, who is also a part-time teacher at the La Follette School of Public Affairs.
According to UW Associate Daily Life Coordinator Larry Davis, Soglin has a long history in activism, dating back to the Vietnam War and the first Mifflin Block Party, which was originally politically charged.
Soglin’s talk deconstructed social justice into six categories: housing, transportation, education, employment, quality childcare and health care.
“Those six categories sum up the most important social justice issues for a successful household,” Soglin said. “If there is a household with five of those six, there is still room for failure.”
When comparing his own interests in activism as a youth to the interest of young people today, Soglin found differences in values between the generations. Although unsure of where the true values of youth lie today, Soglin associated the importance of social justice in his time to be the direct byproduct of growing up in the “shadows of World War II.”
According to Soglin, peer pressure pushed his generation to fight for social justice in their youth because of its importance following World War II.
“Our peer group placed value on these issues,” Soglin said. “There is no question that social media has a profound impact on this generation, but the question is how will that change things.”
Soglin, who said the current young generation has the ability to impact social justice activism because of the strong influence of social media, also emphasized the importance of timing, which he finds to be the great mistake of many campaigns, including that of the failed recall of Gov. Scott Walker.
Soglin ended his talks with brief advice on Mifflin, which he hopes to end this year due to its large budget. According to Soglin, the budget could be much better spent on one of the six previously mentioned social justice issues.