How does social justice work adjust to a global pandemic? In a time where in-person community work can cause more harm than good, LMU service organizations have had to get creative. Griffin Devine, a junior psychology and economics double major — as well as the president of Magis Service Organization — shared Magis' thoughts on engaging meaningfully with others during COVID-19.
Jordan Boaz (J.B.): How has Magis adjusted to the pandemic?
G.D.: Like many other organizations, we have found ways to foster community through Zoom. We have replaced the weekly General Meeting with small groups that call once a week. This meeting is focused on catching up and checking in with each other. We also gather once a month as a whole organization. These meetings focus on discussions based around social justice and spiritual reflection, as well as news pertaining to our focuses of homelessness and education. It's a very strange time, and although meeting with each other over zoom is not ideal, staying connected especially during the pandemic is extremely important. Magis wants all its members to always have a space where they feel safe and cared for.
J.B.: What are Magis’ priorities for this semester?
G.D.: Our main priority currently is to take care of our members. Amidst the ongoing pandemic, the challenges of online school, and many other daily worries, we don't want our members to think of Magis as another Zoom call they have to sit through. We strive for meetings that instead allow our members to relax and take a break from the new normal. Another major priority for Magis is maintaining dialogues about social justice topics, especially in today's political climate.
J.B.: What have been the greatest challenges in running a service organization under these circumstances?
G.D.: The greatest challenge has been doing right by our members. Our main job is to serve the community around us. So, as regulations and health risks keep us dispersed and quarantined, it is difficult to find ways to serve the L.A. community or even the communities that each member calls home. Our VP of Service and Social Justice, Michael Liu, recently held a fundraiser to help donate hygiene kits to one of our placements, the Blessed Sacrament Church food pantry. Magis' E-Board is continuously working on figuring out new ways to serve even in the pandemic and making sure that each member can still do what they signed up to do: help those in need.
J.B.: What is the upcoming recruiting plan?
G.D.: Service organizations are on deferred recruitment, meaning we only recruit in the spring and thus will not be taking new members during the fall semester. However, we still plan to hold recruitment in the spring of 2021, no matter what conditions are. If we are in person, then the recruitment process will be the same as in previous years, and we will move with caution. If it is online, then we will host virtual events such as info nights so that interested students can learn more about SOC.
J.B.: How does Magis’ focus on homelessness and education tie into the pandemic and / or doing online school?
G.D.: Magis’ focuses are highlighted by the pandemic. Those who are currently experiencing homelessness are the most at risk for COVID-19, as they have less access to information and resources. Everything, including social interaction and income, is limited, and this impacts those experiencing homelessness the most, because these necessities were already scarce. Education is also affected, as every student across America knows. We have all transitioned to a new system online that asks us to do the same work we were expected to do in person, but now from an isolated place. It is in these moments that service is needed the most. Although COVID-19 has taken a toll on all of us in different ways and prevents us from convening and serving in person, there are still opportunities to make meaningful contributions to our communities through simple actions.