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NMSU committee makes 12th annual social justice symposium a success

Date: 04/06/2016

Group photo of 11 individuals (six standing and five seated)

By Dana Beasley

Each year, a committee of New Mexico State University faculty, graduate students and community members brings to light issues faced by the most vulnerable groups in this region.

This year?s J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium ? ?Social justice for LGBTQ identities in the Borderlands? ? attracted large numbers of people from around New Mexico, including more than 100 virtual attendees who viewed the symposium?s live stream.

?Each person?s hard work made the symposium a success,? said Catherine Jonet, symposium co-chair and assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies in the College of Arts and Sciences? Women?s Studies Program. ?We are especially touched by the work of allies on the committee, such as Anne Hubbell, Neil Harvey and Camilo Perez Bustillo, and the work of current and former students.?

Sixteen individuals comprised the 2016 committee, including Hubbell, interim associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences; Harvey, head of the government department; and Perez Bustillo, an NMSU visiting professor and coordinator of the Border Human Rights Documentation Project.

Several human rights advocates also offered the committee valuable perspectives and expertise, including representatives from Equality New Mexico, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico?s Regional Center for Border Rights, and Ngage New Mexico.

Jonet and Laura Anh Williams, planning committee co-chair and director of NMSU?s Women?s Studies Program, proposed this year?s focus in response to the case of Nicoll Hernández-Polanco. Hernandez-Polanco, a transgender woman originally from Guatemala, was detained in an all-male detention center in Arizona for six months in 2015 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

?Her experience, and that of many other trans and queer people, exemplify that issues affecting LGBTQ people are much larger than the right to legally marry,? Jonet said.

These issues involve experiences of trans-women, in both the context of U.S. communities, as well as in relationship to immigration laws and detainment, Williams explained. Other concerns include legislation addressing immigration and the AIDS pandemic; the long history and legacy of Latino/a LGBT activism in the United States; and the importance of art and poetry in describing life, existence and joy for LGBT subjects.

Learn more about the 2016 J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium at http://artsci.nmsu.edu/en/artsci.nmsu.edu/en/12th-annual-j-paul-taylor-2016. For a detailed list of 2016 planning committee members, visit http://artsci.nmsu.edu/en/12th-annual-j-paul-taylor-2016/planning-committee-2016.

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