The Island that One Never ReachesBy Deberah Singer Bernstein
Studying at Pitzer informed the course of my whole life though I did not know that it would at the time I was there in the late 60's. It seems that I was at the perfect college at the perfect moment at least for me.
Even though Pitzer was a little more centrist than say Berkeley, experimentation and change were part of the atmosphere we all breathed.
At Pitzer I learned what was important and what was not. I learned to think outside the box. I learned to become a critical thinker and not accept the story line I was told.
These lessons helped me enormously in my careers as a social worker and then later as a lawyer and a professor of Justice Studies.
My life has been lived pursuing a just society in whatever role I have been cast in; as a lawyer in the courtroom or as a teacher and mentor to my students. Pitzer taught me that justice does not take place in a vacuum but is a complex blending of many elements and systems. Pitzer really taught me that pursuing justice is not a vocation or avocation; it is a way of living. As I have told many clients and students over the years; social justice is the island that is out of our reach; we long for it; we strive for it; we gaze at it but it remains illusive.
What I took out of Pitzer was the concept of living outside oneself and to engaging the greater community. I have tackled many legal issues over the years, women's rights, gay rights, rights of the mentally ill and disabled, child advocacoy, and worker's protections in the workplace. I have never been bored.
When I look back on Pitzer's influence I remember Lucian Marquis teaching "Politics of the Vatican" and reminding me that political systems exist in all organizations and interact with one another. I remember a young Russ Ellis teaching "A Sociology of Ourselves" and learning if you don't understand what you are made of, you can never understand anyone else. This is particularly important when working in legal forums I remember Carl Hertel,years before "sustainabiity" was heard of talking about "Communal Organization of Space". It was a magic time, and I appreciate Pitzer's influence more now than ever.
Colleagues call me an innovator, and I am quite sure where I got the inspiration.