Mountain Justice Becomes MJ To Celebrate King of Pop

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

KFC is no longer the acronym for Kentucky Fried Chicken, National Public Radio became NPR – many organizations, due to problematic implications, copyright issues or internal structural reform are changing their official names to their abbreviations. Swarthmore student groups are following suit: War News Radio recently changed its name to WNR, and Mountain Justice decided yesterday that from now on they wanted to be called MJ, and only MJ.

But while KFC is still selling buckets of wings and chicken sandwiches, and NPR and WNR are still radio networks, MJ has decided to change its mission. “While mountaintop removal was a great cause to fight against, what we’ve been talking about for a while is the message in Michael Jackson’s music,” said Lill Warence ‘13, one of the group’s leaders. “I mean ‘heal the world, make it a better place’ is such a universal message, I think it really reflects our values,” added Dyane Risken ‘12.

When asked what changed their minds, the group’s leaders agreed that it was the the ‘Michael’ episode of Glee, the famed Fox show about ahigh school show choir. Late Karonoff ‘14 was inspired by the episode’s motto -“WWMJD”- or “What Would Michael Jackson Do.” “When you think about it, it’s a great motto to go by. I mean – you ask yourself- WWMJD?- and you have an answer to anything and everything,” she said. Some members of the group are even thinking of doing “stick’n’pokes,” otherwise known as “prison tatts” with the abbreviation. “Michael is just such an inspiration,” said Schonah Jwartz ‘15.

The group, previously engaged in a campaign for the college to divest from for instance, Exxon Mobil or Chevron, will now try to get the college to divest from Sony Music Entertainment and Epic Records, who released the posthumous album “Michael,” which sold millions of copies. “They are exploiting his memory,” said Risken.

The group just had a meeting with President Chebecca Ropp to discuss their divestment campaign. Their presentation consisted of a dance performance of a Glee-style mash-up of “Bad” and “Smooth Criminal.” Ropp said she was impressed by the performance. “I really started tapping my foot,” she said. “I think they conveyed their message in a very effective way,” she added.

For next spring break, the group is planning to go to Neverland. “We just want to celebrate his memory,” said Laronoff, “I think it will be a thrill,” added Wawrence.

According to the group’s members, the most important thing about Michael’s message is that we “have to look at the man in the mirror.” “We have to remember that we at Swarthmore are a very privileged group of people. We have to ask ourselves: WWMJD in our situation?” said Jwartz. MJ would have only one answer: “we are the world, we are the children, we are the ones to have a brighter day, so let’s start giving,”

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