Justice Serves As Theme For First-Year Students

Andreas Christou, Senior Copy Editor

Is justice intended to provide equal opportunity? The theme of justice has been a large part of the first-year student experience, from summer reading, convocation, University 101, and various justice events around campus, this is certainly an integral part of the first semester at Pace.

“This topic is more about questions than it is about answers,” said Dr. Joseph Pastore.

Many students came out of this experience questioning what the just thing to do is. For example, one of the most common examples includes the decision between pushing an obese man over a bridge to stop a train heading towards a group of people, or letting the group of people die.  An alternate example includes steering a train away to kill one person, or letting it continue down its path towards the group.

“It’s a good thing that the University wants students to think about what is going on; the way for a more just society is for people to make more just and conscious decisions,” said freshman communications major Carlos Villamayor.

The theme of justice has been planned since last year when the Convocation and Common Reading Committees wanted to pick a theme that reflected the current events happening, including the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street Movements. Originally the novel Justice by Michael Sandel, this year’s convocation speaker, was set to be the common reading, but instead the committees chose to make the book more digestible. The common reading was turned into a packet, compiled by Pace faculty titled The Quest for a Just Society.

“It’s a theme that fits the controversial world that we live in today,” said freshman criminal justice major Mackenzie Ferguson.

Pastore of the Lubin School of Business, who sat on the Common Reading Committee, took on the task of compiling the common reading  along with the help of some of his colleagues, including Dr. Harold Brown, Dr. Frances Delahanty, and Dr. Lawrence Hundersmark. The common reading incorporated Sandel’s book, as well as work from other sources and the Pace Faculty, and a list of questions developed from Dr. Pastore’s course on corporate ethics. The reading, along with the questions, caused students to ponder topics such as human rights, morality, religion, ethics, right and wrong, and equality, as well as scenarios placing students in very difficult situations involving life changing and difficult decisions.

Students were also asked to watch some of Sandel’s videos, recorded during his class at Harvard, discussing some of the issues in the common reading in a class forum. Sandel posed some of the scenarios and questions from his videos to the Pace students at the Sept. 4 convocation.

University 101, a class designed to connect students to the opportunities Pace provides them, will also be discussing this theme throughout the semester. Pastore, who teaches a University 101 class, incorporates the theme in his discussion of “What’s Going on in the World”, covering current issues in the world relating to justice.

“It’s a good theme for the election year,” said freshman psychology major Christina Miller.

As part of the University 101’s Pace Passport, a program that requires students to attend social, justice, and academic events, students have to attend at least one justice event this semester. Various student groups and University organizations will sponsor these justice events, including lectures on justice in our lives, events involving making a difference, presentations regarding to the upcoming election season, and a series of New York Times Skype Presentations. Some upcoming events include: the Oct. 9 Meet the Candidates Night, an Oct. 10 Skype Presentation, Voting 101 on Oct. 12, and Paint a School and Make a Difference Day on Oct. 13.

So don’t be surprised if you’re walking around campus and hear students discussing “what is the just thing to do?” as the justice theme is all over Pace.