Rockhurst voices implore leaders to make social change in D.C.


Pictured: Rockhurst students attend IFTJ in D.C.

On Monday, Nov. 5, Rockhurst voices rang out on Capitol Hill as part of the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.

IFTJ is an annual weekend-long social justice conference for students to engage in conversation with topical issues of social justice and gain experience lobbying with their legislators. This year’s conference focused on mass incarceration and immigration reform.

Rockhurst students have attended IFTJ for the past 17 years. This year 15 Rockhurst students, all female, attended.

They were joined by 2,000 students from Jesuit high schools and universities around the country. Part of their experience, included hearing notable keynote speakers, including Bishop George Murry S.J. of the United States Conference for Catholic Bishops and The Peace Poets Artists Collective.

Nichole Flores, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, discussed the issue of immigration in the United States, and why members of the Jesuit community should support social change.

“We have moral obligations to care for one another as family. Imagining the common good in terms of family can help us to enact a just solidarity in our time,” Flores said.

While in D.C., students are provided with advocacy training, focused on the protocol for pushing government legislation. Using skills learned at the conference, information brought from their communities and personal stories, the students are encouraged to meet with their congressperson to lobby for legislation.

They met with Kansas Senator Pat Roberts and Missouri Senator Roy Blunt to discuss the kind of legislation the politicians will advocate for in areas of criminal justice reform and immigration policies.

Sophomore Kate Ludwig said she was excited to have this opportunity to learn how to make a change in her community.

“The Teach-In provides so many outlets for people to learn. Education is the foundation for change. Once you are educated you can better advocate for things,” Ludwig said.

Students believed the weekend long and exhausting, but well worth the experience and knowledge gained.

Of this year’s attendees, several hope to attend IFTJ again next year, and all will continue to work for social justice in and around the Rockhurst community and beyond the boundaries of their campus.


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