Mercer to welcome a new Sociology and Criminal Justice club with a social justice focus


Image: Jayla Moody

Professors Elaina Behounek and Laura Simon are in the process of starting a Sociology and Criminal Justice club on campus. The club is designed to have a focus in social justice.

Jayla Moody, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Having conversations on campus about social justice may become a little easier for students who are interested.

The Sociology and Criminal Justice departments are in the process of starting a new student club, according to Assistant Professor of Sociology Laura Simon.

“We really wanted to have a social justice focus in terms of getting students thinking about criminal justice and sociology in an applied sense,” Simon said.

Simon thinks the department is in a good position to approach these conversations.

“We study these things in a systematic way,” Simon said. “Our training as social-scientists has taught us to say ‘This is how we systematically study these systems and this is what we know through research.’”

She said she wants to bring the scholarly approach and also create an inclusive and comfortable environment where students feel respected and heard.

“This really becomes an opportunity for students who are interested in understanding the social world to really focus their energy if they choose that as their interest,” she said.

Simon, who is also working with sociology professor Elaina Behounek , said they wanted the club to be student driven. She is hoping that students will suggest forums, questionnaire topics and speakers.

“My hope for the club is that it becomes a safe space for students to get together to discuss sociological and topics related to criminal justice,” Behounek said. “The club is new, so students can have a great impact on the trajectory and vision.”

One of the ideas she had in mind was getting students interested in engaged learning opportunities, such as exploring other cultures and having conversations about them.

Behounek and Simon also want to connect underclassmen with upperclassmen and give opportunities for mentorship.

Simon is a first-year faculty member here and one of the first things she was interested in when she came to Mercer was an undergraduate student group. Now that the department is growing, establishing the club is being made possible.

Over 70 students have shown interest in the organization, and Simon and Behounek are in the process of making everything official.

They don’t have a name for the club yet, but Simon is accepting suggestions. If you are interested, feel free to contact her at [email protected].