Grant Sheft (11) brings back Justice Night after 10 years


Erica Jiang , Staff Writer

Last Friday, Grant Sheft (11) hosted Justice Night, an event for students, parents, and faculty featuring “The Defamation Experience.” The experience is created by Canamac Productions and explores how the legal system interacts with issues of race, class, religion, and gender, involving the audience as the jury.

Sheft put on the event as part of his independent study (IS) on the philosophy of hope, in relation to social justice and ethics. 

The night began with a film introduced to the audience by Gina Taliaferro, the Associate Producer and Director of Facilitation at Canamac Productions. The film was about a Black woman accused of stealing a family heirloom by a wealthy white man, who sues him for defamation.

After the screening, the audience moved to the Cohen Dining Commons to act as jurors. During dinner, a judge zoomed in to facilitate deliberation on the case in the film. Each audience member scanned a QR code to participate in a live voting simulation. 

One driving question surrounds how institutions set up expectations for how people should act, Sheft said. “It allows us to realize in what ways we are acting, and more importantly, why we are acting that way.”

Morgan Kim (12) is a student in the Ethics in School & Society class who watched the film and attended a portion of the subsequent conversation. “Through this experience, you get to see the interaction between the objective facts of a case and how that conflicts with your personal views. You have to find a balance between the two,” Kim said. 

The event was attended by 30 faculty, parents, and students who contributed different perspectives to the conversation. Kim was glad to hear from people from different backgrounds throughout the event, she said. “It’s interesting to see the intersection between the younger and older generations and it’s a valuable opportunity for us to exchange ideas from multiple generations and diverse backgrounds.”

Students from the Ethics in School & Society class and the Ethics Bowl team helped facilitate discussions at the event. Daniel Pustilnik (11), the Vice President of the Ethics Bowl team, said it is beneficial to see real-world examples of ethical dilemmas and for students of all grades to consider them. “We read cases for the Ethics Bowl, but it’s easier to conceptualize the stakes when it’s more visual,” he said. “It’s important that it’s school wide because our ethics class is really only available for seniors, so as a student body I don’t think we have that many opportunities to talk about ethics.”

Through hosting Justice Night, Sheft hopes that participants will look beyond their own lived experiences, and find hope through others’ stories and perspectives, he said. “When my father had cancer, I lost my sense of hope because I had hoped he would survive the treatments, but he didn’t. I want to not only learn about different opinions on hope, but also to hopefully rediscover a sense of hope that I’ve lost.”