The past year was a year of growth and progress for SPEAR. We hosted a diverse group of events to educate the Princeton community. One of them was Project Pride, a panel where currently incarcerated people spoke to students and community members about their experiences. We also had the privilege of hearing noted activist Five Omar Mualimm-ak speak about the cruel and unusual practice of solitary confinement, receiving important lessons on our nation's history from radical academic Jeff Perry, and getting the benefit of many other extraordinary individuals' experiences.
One of our major projects first semester was the 7x9 project, a piece of performance art that raised awareness on campus about solitary confinement.
This spring, SPEAR held its inaugural conference, Building a New Criminal Justice: Mobilizing Students for Reform. The opening address was given by Marc Mauer, director of the Sentencing Project, and the closing address by former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey. In between were panels on a variety of different issues related to American criminal justice policy and advocacy for reform. The speakers were a diverse group that included journalists, filmmakers, CEOs, academics, activists and lawyers. Many of us students found the conference left us better informed and more motivated to enact change.
At the year's end, SPEAR's members were honored to see their work acknowledged by Princeton's with the Santos-Dumont Award for Innovation, which recognizes "co-curricular, ground breaking initiatives" by students. The Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students commended the group's "dedication to sponsoring such impactful programs that both broaden and deepen discourse of social justice amongst their peers" and pointed out that the campus is seeing "increasing activity around social justice."