In the fall semester SALTers nominate, advocate, and then vote for 5-8 social justice issues they are passionate about. SALTers break into these small groups to learn more about their passions and then advocate, spread awareness in the community, and fundraise for local, national, and global organizations that share their passions.
Fall 2016 Passion Groups
Mental Health Awareness
The Mental Health Awareness passion group is aiming to erase the stigma around mental health on the Valparaiso University campus.
Through fun events such as “Make a Stress Ball” hosted in the Union, the group is helping students find little ways to de-stress as well as pass out information to connect students to the university’s Counseling Center.
The group plans to invite SALTers to share their own experiences with mental health issues and to create an educational display in the Cafe to start discussions to erase the stigma and continue to raise awareness of resources available to students.
“I think like many people in our passion group, I’m passionate about it because mental health is such a prevalent part of our culture today, and despite its prevalence and its growing importance in our society, there is still a really strong negative stigma against it which is just stupid,” said sophomore Jonah Koetke, one of the group’s co-leaders.
The Education passion group aims to support teachers and families at a local level. Recognizing that significant change would take way longer than one semester, co-leader Maria said, “We can’t change anything within this time, so we want to go in and support something that we feel that teachers and the education system are doing well.”
The group members are looking to volunteer their time to assist teachers and parents with parent-teacher conferences.
“We think highly of parent-student-teacher relationships and those are kind of fostered through parent teacher conferences,” Maria said. “It’s tough on teachers to do that because they work the full day and it’s also tough on families because they don’t always have childcare for younger kids. So we were hoping to go into a school during their parent-teacher conferences and bring the teachers dinner and maybe offer to look after younger siblings while their parents are with teachers.”
The Education passion group also contacted the local public library where they will help with programs for new preschoolers and they library’s holiday party.
Criminal Justice Reform
The Criminal Justice Reform passion group is focused on educating themselves and educating the Valparaiso University community. The group met with criminology professor, Dawn Bartusch, to gain an overview of the issues the system currently faces. The group invited her to be on a panel of other speakers connected to the criminal justice system in Northwest Indiana.
Some SALTers in the group joined after engaging with the criminal justice system through research, internships and volunteering programs.
“I was in the GED program helping to tutor in it for SALT and it opened my eyes to what the criminal justice system is like and what the jails are like and how those people are treated,” co-leader Kelsey Morgan said.
The Human Trafficking passion group hopes to eliminate negative stigmas that surround human trafficking and to educate all about this issue that SALTers say is often not the center of attention. SALTer Alicia says that human trafficking is “an issue that doesn’t get a lot of attention.” She also points out that “Human trafficking is associated with prostitution, which is often viewed as very negative,” and hopes to educate others so that this negative perspective is erased.
This dedicated group hopes to have 300 postcards signed towards a bill that helps eradicate the trafficking of innocent people; these SALTers also plan to show a moving film that will raise awareness of human trafficking and to educate those who are unaware of its existence.
The Human Trafficking group believes that education is the first step to stopping human trafficking. They plan to do their part to keep this movement going with encouraging and thoughtful events.
Access to Medical Care
The Access to Medical Care passion group is made up of many SALTers who are interested in going into a medical career and believe that they can play an influential part in providing healthcare to anyone and everyone. These dedicated SALTers believe that they are instrumental in this change, stating, “The fact that we have an ability to make a difference, even through awareness, is encouraging enough.” The Access to Medical Care group is passionate about bringing healthcare to all.
These SALTers hope to achieve their goals by raising awareness as well as money in order to support an organization called LivingGood. The Medical Care group encourages everyone to visit https://livinggoods.org/what-we-do/ to learn how one can help everyone receive access to necessary healthcare. To raise funds for LivingGood, the group hosted a fundraiser with Five Guys.
Recycling and Waste on Campus
Recycling and waste on campus is very important to one group of SALTers. They have one simple motto: simple change, huge impact. The Recycling and Waste on Campus passion group believes that we can take very simple steps to keep our earth healthy and livable for generations to come. SALTer Mitch put this thought in his own words, stating that “Being smart about recycling and waste is important for the future of our earth, and the earth of our children, and our children’s children.”
SALTer Katie comments that the group’s goal is to “change people’s mindsets of why we recycle and see the true importance of it.” The group hopes to come up with events that will educate all on campus and encourage them to make a change on how they deal with their trash.