From the Archive: Four Years of the Social Justice Club


Eloise Gordon, Staff Writer

This article was initially intended to be published in the Winter of 2022


When the Social Justice Club was founded four years ago, club leaders Ava and Avery could never have anticipated the changes, and threats to Social Justice that would happen in the United States, in addition to the changes the WESS high school community would experience ranging from the development of the high school to a pandemic, a dramatic change in presidency, and more. What started out as a freshman-filled club that met weekly in the first-floor library during lunch in 2018, has now evolved into a high school wide club that meets in the couches of Joe’s office, experienced, adaptable, and flexible to the unpredictable reality that comes with advocating for Social Justice, and pushing for change within the WESS community.  


The first meeting of the 2021-2022 school year was spent discussing the priorities of individual club members and issues of justice they wanted addressed–from access to feminine hygiene products in school, to implementing a book club for John Lewis’s (former United States Representative) book, “March”, to the possibility of doing legislative work, and working to support a bill concerning New York City students. Since that very day, the club has dedicated itself to dividing its time between discussing these issues, and how they can be addressed in the WESS community, to planning projects, to working to implement them. 


To club leader Ava Napach, discussion, while seemingly simple, is one of the most crucial aspects of this entire process. When the Social Justice Club was first introduced to the WESS community, in 2018, discussing different current events, and injustices, and sharing personal experiences was how club members got to know each other, and develop a sense of comfortability in club meetings. And when COVID-19 ravaged the 2021 school year, education, reflection and discussion was one of the only ways for the club to continue its work. In fact, when the Social Justice club was working to make changes to WESS’s controversial bathroom policy, during the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, lengthy discussions with Joe were key in introducing additional perspectives, offering new strategies, and contributing to coming to a resolution in the WESS community- making discussion one of the clubs most effective strategies when looking to implement change. 


Through the club’s many years of rotating between projects and discussions, their biggest challenge has easily come from sources outside of the club. Working to make concrete changes within the WESS community often comes with a variety of obstacles-typically spearheaded by the NYC Department of Education, and their seemingly never-ending regulations. When the club was working to fill gaps in and improve quality of feminine hygiene products offered at WESS, they were met with claims of seemingly preposterous safety risks and claims of a lack of funding, and when the club has worked to raise money for various causes, covid protocols have caused additional challenges. 


But through all of the changes and challenges of the past four years, the most important aspect and influence of the Social Justice Club has simply been its presence in the WESS community. Whether members are engaged in a heated discussion, and snacking on Joe’s goldfish, or working on fundraising, to Ava and Avery, the clubs most important role is through the precedent, and message they send to the WESS student body. That they have a place to come where they can discuss, relate, and know they are advocated for. And as the club’s first leaders, and members move on to graduate, their number one hope for the club is simple, that this role continues to be filled, even through the chaos and unpredictable manner of fighting for justice in the WESS community.