Teachers Create New Club to Tackle Social Justice Issues


During the second semester of the 2022-2023 school year, two teachers at ELHS created a new social justice club. These teachers, Diana Sanchez and Steven Neal, created this club to gather student voices to make a change. 

Because he grew up in what he described as a “homogeneous community” with little diversity, Neal was motivated to create a space where students could learn about the world in a 

the way he didn’t until he went to college. 

“I feel like the Social Justice club is a way for me, and for other people like me, to provide opportunities where none existed for us when we were younger,” Neal said. “I feel that, deep down, every single person wants the world to be a better place, but that requires work and unlearning/learning new information to gain a more informed view of the world.”

Both Neal and Sanchez are a part of the school’s Social Justice team. Many teachers around the East Lansing District are included in the social justice teams created for their schools. This team, created by the Director of Equity and Social Justice Klaudia Burton, became the inspiration for these teachers.

 “This came out of kind of a trajectory that we’ve been taking in our district for the last couple of years with having social justice teams on the teacher level,” Sanchez said. “And so we thought that it would also be a good idea for us to have a team in the same way, that was sort of accomplishing some of the same things or would be able to bring in students’ voices. A lot of it was realizing that we have students who are involved in a lot of different clubs that have social justice mindsets.” 

Students in this club like Belle Potter (9) are striving to make a positive change in this school, especially with recent safety concerns. 

 “I was kind of inspired [to join] by the recent events that happened here in our school,” Potter said. “I was concerned about the safety of all the students here and I’m a new student in the district. This is my first year in East Lansing. So I thought it was really important for me to try and use my voice in some way to make a difference here.” 

 Other students like Lila Hardy (10) joined this club to better themselves, with wishes to help their fellow students get the resources they need to excel.

“I think my main goal is better mental health,” Hardy said. “It’s not really talked about a lot in my family and I know whenever I’ve tried to come to the school to talk about it, the resources are not the best. So just improving these resources.”

While the club is newer, they are already planning on ways they can make the school better for students and themselves. Having both short and long term goals, one of their biggest concerns is communication. 

“We are currently working on making and collecting resources available for students about different identity groups for students to better educate themselves,” Neal said. “Some students in the club indicated that other students at the school may want to learn more about various communities and identities that exist in the world, but they may not want to just straight up ask someone.”

The club’s next meeting is on Friday Mar. 17. The club will meet in Neal’s room.