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The Emerson Blog

Doing What is Needed at Emerson’s Social Justice Center

By Marni Zipper ’19 |

Madison Martino, Marketing Communications ’19, came to Emerson as a freshman with many goals—one of which was to make the Emerson campus a safe, inclusive, and open environment for everyone. Now a junior, she has accomplished many feats that fall in line with that goal, largely as a community organizer in Emerson’s Social Justice Center.

“[We’re] doing what is needed, not just expected,” Martino says of her team’s work at the newly renamed Center.

Working directly with Vice President Sylvia Spears, Martino says she aims to work beyond just her job description—she strives to be an advocate for the Emerson student body. “I was given the opportunity to work for the Social Justice Center because Sylvia acknowledged that I had a voice but needed a platform and support,” Martino says.

Madison Martino, Marketing Communications ’19

The goal of Emerson’s Social Justice Center is to be predictive, as well as proactive, so that the Emerson and Boston community are continually being uplifted. The Center seeks to be not a reactionary organization but rather a constantly evolving community committed to being a resource of respect, inclusivity and change. Its mission is centered around four intersecting practice areas: Advocacy and Support; Community and Movement Building; Knowledge (Re)Creation and Sharing; and Access and Equity.

Martino works on a team that aims to give a voice to survivors and marginalized communities, on and off campus. Just last semester, the team put together a gallery exhibition that featured art created by homeless youth in Boston, and with the team’s guidance, a book featuring writings, art, and photography is now under development. By showcasing the art created by these young people, Martino says, the team can show them that their paths in life don’t have to be negative.

This semester, Martino has also been working to redesign and rethink the atmosphere of the Title IX Office on Emerson’s campus and has been a change leader in creating a “trauma-informed space.” She has pushed for a more cohesive, thoughtful, and calming environment that would help people using the resources at the Title IX Office to feel more at ease when discussing traumatizing and important issues. Martino has also been a proponent for safe spaces on campus that are available for anyone. She feels a safe space goes beyond a private office room; it should be a room with no barriers, an un-intimidating ambiance, welcoming furniture (like tables and chairs with rounded edges), and the experience of speaking to someone who isn’t sitting behind a large desk. Martino presented all these ideas to those working in the Social Justice Center and after months of grueling work, finding furniture that made sense for the trauma-informed space and overcoming budgetary obstacles, Martino’s ideas are being implemented.

As both a full-time student and a Social Justice Center employee, Martino feels proud of her accomplishments and is grateful that she has been given a platform to accomplish goals that ultimately contribute to the greater good of the Emerson and Boston communities. She says that her largest goal is to “foster creative environments for students on campus so that when they graduate they can take the tools from the Social Justice Center with them and out into the world.” And as one of those students, Martino is allowing her experience with the Social Justice Center to empower and prepare her for a career path as she approaches graduation and enters the professional world.

“I want to use what I’ve learned and expand that beyond Emerson,” she says. 

Marni Zipper is a Marketing Communications major in Emerson’s class of 2019. Her professional goal is to combine her marketing skills with her passion for women’s rights advocacy. “I’d like to create marketing content and strategies based around equality and justice for all girls and women,” she says.