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September 2017


What's the big IDEA: Introducing our new social justice program
Cynthia Eaton


NYSUT's social justice campaign
The FA's new social justice program, IDEA, works from the framework established by NYSUT's Why in Five social justice campaign. The FA's nascent team will work on issues that most directly impact our students and communities on Long Island.

It’s not a new idea. It’s an idea that’s been around for millennia, an idea perhaps as old as civilization itself.

It’s certainly an idea that many tie directly to the founding democratic ideals of our nation.

It’s the idea that there should be equity and fairness in the distribution of wealth, opportunities and privileges within a society.

It’s the idea that everybody should have a fair shot. It’s the core idea of social justice.

Here’s the big IDEA

Many of us within the FA leadership have been working for social justice in various ways for decades, but recently our members have indicated that they want their union to devote itself even more fully and directly to the basic principles of social justice that they believe in.

And so we present IDEA, which stands for


As a general starting point, we will work from the framework established by the Why in Five social justice initiative of our state parent union, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), which focuses on five topics:

  • wage equity
  • women’s rights
  • hunger and poverty
  • racial equality
  • fair trade.

NYSUT offers information on each of these areas of concern on their website, where you can learn more about each topic, why it matters and how you can help: NYSUT Why in Five Campaign for Social Justice.

Our approach

The goals for our social justice team are quite open at this point, as we want our members to shape the direction of IDEA. The FA has long participated in a variety of events that address these issues—e.g., our annual Thanksgiving donations to each campus food pantry, annual participation in Making Strides, Fair Trade events during the holiday season and our long-standing work for wage equity. However, as we explore new directions, a few general guidelines must shape our work:

  1. Issues should be connected to Suffolk County or Long Island whereever and whenever possible. Of course we welcome advocacy that addresses nation-al and international issues, but keeping things local whenever feasible will be one criterion when choosing our activities.
  2. Students should be included in as many activities and initiatives as practicable. In our roles as academic unionists, we feel this should be a basic criterion for IDEA as well.
  3. Our ability to properly advertise, mobilize, and fully support any new initiatives will be a third criterion.

Contact me ( or Dante Morelli ( to join our IDEA team today!