Chalking change

Brendan Carr News Contributor

At the beginning of Monday, the Earth Justice Mural in the Memorial Union quad consisted of a circle of the words “Beyond Earth Day” with paths diverting from the center of the quad, each labeled with a different social issue.

“Each of the pathways leading towards the center of the quad represent a different set of justice issues,” said Kali Furman, interim coordinator for social change leadership programs at OSU.

Furman said the inspiration for the social issues came from students on campus, people from different offices and people who have done the event in years prior. The issues highlight the different ways social injustices and people working towards social justice affect the earth.

These ideas include education, poverty, poetry, Black Lives Matter, water and food, gender justice, OSU Divest and healthcare.

As the day progressed, the mural transformed. Members of the Oregon State University Student Sustainability Initiative (SSI) and people from the community added poems, quotes and statistics to each of the different social issues.

One poem from the collection was “Justice with No Lie,” by Dave Alan Walker. The poem discussed themes involving telling the truth and making justice absent of lies.

“I don’t like to use academic terms,” said Jesseanne Pope, a senior in sociology and the dialogue educator with SSI. “Access to higher education has excluded certain people.”

According to Pope, the rhetoric used engages students who are “stuck in the day to day.” Students walking through the quad can simply look down and find a new issue they had never considered before.

“All these issues are connected,” Pope said.

Connecting these issues, Pope explained how education and inequality are related. According to Pope, while universities cannot exclude prospective students based on race, the higher rates of poverty among certain groups can cause an institutional bias against them.

Another example of institutional bias, according to Pope, is wheelchair accessibility on the OSU campus. According to Pope, certain buildings do not have ramps or elevators beyond the first floor. This means that wheelchair users are excluded from floors beyond the first. Pope called this way of thinking “holistic sustainability.”

By the afternoon, the center of the “Beyond Earth Day” circle contained a makeshift map of the world.

According to Furman, the inspiration behind the map came from an episode of “West Wing.” In the show, a character is shown how a traditional map of the world distorts the size and location of nations. The character is then shown a more accurate map that differs from the traditional one. Furman hoped to highlight this different with the map in the quad.

According to Furman, in the same episode, the White House encouraged underrepresented groups to come inform the president’s staff, a tradition known as “Big Wheel of Cheese Day.” Similar to this, Furman said students coming to the mural were encouraged to grab a piece of chalk and help build the project.

Holly Duewiger, a junior zoology major, took a piece of chalk to help contribute. When Duewiger found out she could add on to the mural, she was excited, a fan of chalking and art.

“I’m going to be drawing a flower,” Duewiger said.

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