Students for Justice and Peace (SJP) began in the mid-1980’s. A handful of students formed the “peace and justice group” under the guidance of Campus Ministry staff at the College of St. Thomas. Early days were marked by prayerful protests against U.S. intervention in Central America, calls for university divestment from apartheid South Africa, and local protests with the Honeywell Project (now Alliant Tech Systems).

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the group was called the Student Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) and attracted dozens of students to weekly meetings. It helped institute a campus recycling program, examining U.S. foreign policy, and questioned the motivations behind the Gulf War. Programs on the murder of Jesuit priests in El Salvador, U.S. involvement in Guatemala, and conscientious objection typified the work of the newly named Student Coalition for Social Justice.

The late 1990’s saw the SCSJ evolve into a true coalition of different action groups. Tremendous energy gathered around annual trips to the School of the Americas (SOA) and Washington D.C. to rally for its closing. Economic issues gained prominence through educational efforts focused on sweatshops and fair trade coffee. Community development was enhanced by campus events such as the Peace Fair and a Parents Weekend for the families of SCSJ members.

The millennium saw both victories and struggles for the SCSJ. Following hate crimes against a Muslim student on campus, the SCSJ worked with other campus groups to rally in support of the student and challenge the university community to live up to its mission. Months later budget cuts eliminated the Coordinator for Social Justice position in Campus Ministry. However, within a year the position was redeveloped within the Justice and Peace Studies Program. It was renamed Students for Justice and Peace in recognition of the groups that had grown out of the SCSJ to become organizations in their own right, including the Green Team.

In the time since, Students for Justice and Peace has inspired positive activism across campus, such as having Peace Coffee offered in the dining halls and coffee shops on campus. Peace Coffee is an organic fair trade that is located right in Minneapolis and is supporting coffee farmers around the world. SJP has also hosted many talented and influential speakers and activists, and continues to promote peace and conversation.