“Campus Justice Challenge” Launches at Daemen

By | November 2, 2021

A new competition unique to Daemen – the Campus Justice Challenge – will seek to “improve the human experience at the college” and address issues now at the forefront of national conversations on race, justice, and reducing inequality.  

Heike Peckruhn

The Inclusion and Diversity Council, as well as the Center for Diversity and Inclusion – in collaboration with various key offices – are launching and coordinating the competition.

“The Daemen community knows the possibilities of what could be – and the progress necessary to get there,” said Heike Peckruhn, associate professor of religious studies. “We want to empower our college community to make changes they want to see.”

Anyone at Daemen – teams of students, staff, faculty and alums – are encouraged to submit a proposal. Teams will pitch their ideas in front of a live audience at the second annual Diversity and Equity Summit on April 9, where up to two projects will be rewarded $1000 for implementation. 

Projects could include designing new spaces on campus, launching new events, creating artwork (such as murals) or other proposals that improve accessibility and inclusion. 

Teams will hone in on a specific need related to campus equity, justice, and belonging in the Daemen community – and include a clear response to one of the following categories (as they might be experienced on campus): racism, ableism, gender- and sexuality-based injustice, classism and nationalism. 

Tiffany Hamilton

Projects should be designed to meet or take action in response to the identified need.

The intention is for the contest to become an annual event that moves the campus community toward greater inclusion. 

“We believe this will begin a new tradition in justice-seeking work on our campus,” said Tiffany Hamilton, chief diversity officer at Daemen. “In short, institutional change can only happen when everyone has the access and opportunity to participate.” 

A jury of students, staff and faculty will provide feedback on all projects, as will summit attendees. While not all projects will be funded, the presentation of all ideas in a public forum could help spark new collaborations and initiatives, said Peckruhn. 

Proposals are due March 1. A link for submitting projects will be provided at a later date. 

Event organizers also encourage students to create proposals that build on their original research and capstone projects. 

“Creating a space where people can share their visions is part of the value set that makes higher education such a special environment,” said Peckruhn, “as well as a stage for implementing thoughtful changes towards greater belonging for everyone at Daemen.”

Projects can also be pitched remotely to make the contest accessible for non-residential students.