A new Lasallian higher education group is focused on the work of change through advocacy and social justice in the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN). Lasallian Colleges and Universities in Association for Justice (LCUAJ) was formed in January 2019 as a grassroots effort by about 25 Lasallians who were planning to attend the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s annual Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ) in Washington, D.C., as a Lasallian delegation.
LCUAJ now has more than 40 participants, including students, staff and faculty from Bethlehem University, Christian Brothers University, La Salle University, Lewis University, Manhattan College and Saint Mary’s College of California. Six Lasallian Volunteers, who are all graduates of Lasallian colleges or universities, are also part of LCUAJ.
LCUAJ’s mission states that it is “an international coming together of the Lasallian family to encounter the pains and dreams of our time, to discern our individual and collective responses, and to commit to shared action for justice.” LCUAJ is oriented by the inspiring words of Brother Superior General Robert Schieler, FSC, who said, “We Lasallians must continue to accompany one another, especially those pushed to the margins, in one common quest for justice.”
Since the 2019 IFTJ, a leadership team of students, faculty, staff and administrators has met regularly to plan a multi-part virtual experience for the 2020-21 academic year. That included virtual Lasallian gatherings on the weekends before and after the virtual IFTJ in October 2020 as a way to prepare for and debrief after the IFTJ.
“The LCUAJ meetings were opportunities for me to not only re-connect with other Lasallians but to continue witnessing our effort toward justice and liberation for all as a collective group,” explained Lasallian Volunteer Kaiyun Chen, a 2019 graduate of Manhattan College. “I appreciate every one of these moments that planted that seed of hope in me.”
“With LCUAJ this year, I realized that advocacy for justice is a crucial factor of our democracy. However, it is not easy to do,” said Grace Crumbaugh, a Lewis University senior and member of the planning team. “It takes passion and courage to speak out against the status quo, to have difficult yet meaningful conversations with others, and most importantly, to self-reflect and realize your own shortcomings. But where there is work for justice, there are so many others in the world standing in solidarity with you…and THAT is powerful.”
LCUAJ’s Lasallian Teach–In is now well underway. Virtual gatherings are scheduled for January 18, 2020, which will provide time to prepare for a collective action around a social justice concern, and a spring 2021 initiative around the Young Lasallians’ Spring into Action campaign.
In addition to this programming, LCUAJ is providing leadership opportunities for young people engaged in justice work across RELAN. Two undergraduates served on the planning team and others will be invited to join as the group plans future activities.
LCUAJ is supported, in part, by a Lasallian Education Council initiative to grow RELAN’s capacity for and commitment to Lasallian advocacy. The effort has received financial, logistical and accompaniment support from Christian Brothers Conference and the District of Eastern North America’s Office for Mission and Ministry.