FROM THE POUCH
Volume 3, Issue 5–October 14, 2016
Recent Activities on Diversity at SUNY Canton
SUNY Canton is a diverse college, and our credo is ‘Everyone is Welcome Here’. It’s critically important that we respond to the needs and aspirations of our diverse community in a variety of ways. We’ve already had several events on campus this semester, starting with the three vigils that took place the first week and including a student open forum, all sponsored by our Student Government and our Co-Chief Diversity Officers, Lashawanda Ingram and Bill Jones. Many more events and discussions are planned during the rest of the year.
There were several interesting events on diversity that took place yesterday. The first was a workshop titled Diversity Affairs: Building our Capacity for Greater Inclusion, which was offered to SUNY Canton faculty and staff. The workshop was led by the Reverend Dr. Jamie Washington, one of the top national experts on this subject. Dr. Washington, president of the Washington Consulting Group located in Baltimore, has worked with more than 300 organizations over his 30-year career. The workshop was well attended, with about 50 people participating including me.
Dr. Washington talked about how to have productive conversations about diversity and how to recognize that we’re all complex combinations of different attributes—race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ability, etc. Whenever we enter any room or conversation, our attributes come into the room with us and become part of the context of what happens next. What’s important is that we also enter the room with an open mind, welcome all different perspectives (though welcoming does not necessarily mean we need to agree with those perspectives or change our own), provide a space where people feel free to share their thoughts without fear of retribution or being attacked, and even allow ourselves to have fun and laugh at ourselves. He made the point that depending on what attribute we’re focusing on, we may be in the privileged group, or we may be in the non-privileged group. The goal is to take steps to bring the two groups closer together in action and in understanding. The workshop was very well received by the audience, and everyone enjoyed participating in several activities to raise awareness of various aspects of diversity.
Dr. Washington also presented a talk focusing on similar themes (‘Building Capacity for Leadership’) for students and the general public last evening. The audience was moderate in size but quite enthusiastic. I’m glad I attended both events, and learned a lot.
Also taking place yesterday was a four hour symposium titled Enough is Enough: Understanding the New College Anti-Sexual Assault Law and Building Partnerships, sponsored by Renewal House and the SUNY Canton University Police. Renewal House is an organization in town that offers support to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in St. Lawrence County.
There were three sessions at the symposium:
- Understanding the Requirement in Education Law 129B “Enough is Enough
- Developing Community Collaborations, and
- Understanding the Needs of LGBTQ+ Students and Students of Color.
The first and last sessions were led by Michelle Carroll, the Campus Coordinator for the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA), and the second session by our own Amanda Rowley and Renewal House’s Campus Advocate, Angelica Soto.
The symposium was well attended by a mix of students, faculty and staff, all of our SUNY Canton University Police, and police from the Village of Canton and from SUNY Potsdam.
I’ve mentioned that we will be opening our Center for Diversities and Inclusion on campus soon. At this point, we’re waiting for the furniture to arrive (it should be any time now), and then as soon as we can arrange it, we’ll have a grand opening.
Art at SUNY Canton
We’re starting up an Art Exhibit series at SUNY Canton, hopefully to begin with about two exhibits a semester. Our first exhibit will feature watercolor paintings by Jay Waronker on the subject of Synagogues in Sub-Saharan Africa. These synagogues are located in many countries, including Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Waronker, a Professor of Architecture at my previous campus of Southern Polytechnic State University, noted “Most people are inclined to look at Africa as this homogenous place, but there is tremendous diversity from country to country, synagogue to synagogue.” You can read more about his work here.
The exhibit and artist’s talk will begin at 6:00 PM on October 17 in the Southworth Library. Refreshments will be served.
A similar exhibit and talk on Synagogues in India will be presented at Congregation Beth El in Potsdam on October 16 at 2:00 PM.
Back on Friday September 30, I drove over to Clarkson University, where I participated in a symposium on sustainability. Clarkson’s president Tony Collins provided a very tasty lunch at his house for Dr. Peter Bardaglio (the symposium’s keynote speaker), the sustainability officers from the four colleges (SUNY Canton, SUNY Potsdam, Clarkson, and St. Lawrence University) in the St. Lawrence Valley, and me. After eating and a nice conversation, we walked over to the student center.
After an opening and welcome from the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, I was part of the President’s Panel, which was moderated by North Country Public Radio’s David Summerstein. I’ve met David before on several occasions, and very much enjoy his radio show (The Beat Authority, Fridays from 3-5 pm) which focuses on very cool worldwide dance music. David asked us a number of questions about how we defined sustainability, how we were implementing it on our campuses, and what the challenges were in trying to change the culture so that there would be a greater awareness of issues related to sustainability. The panel went very well, and I enjoyed participating. Among the 100 or so people in the audience were several from SUNY Canton, as well several friends of mine from the community.
Right after the Sustainability Day panel, I had to run back to the car to drive to Fairport NY (not far from Rochester, about 4 hours away), where I was attending the annual SUNY Association of Council Members and College Trustees meeting. I got there about 6:30, just in time to check in and get to the opening dinner at 7:00.
The conference was held at the Woodcliff Hotel and Spa, which is a very nice place. It has beautiful grounds including a very large swimming pool, a beautiful interior, and my room was large and attractive. The food at the dinner was very good, and I got the chance to renew acquaintance with several college council members and trustees who I’d met the year before.
There were several updates, talks, and tool-box sessions on Saturday, but the highlight was the ACT Scholarship Luncheon. SUNY Canton student Francesco Palumbo was one of four statewide winners of the ACT Scholarship, and the four were an impressive bunch, all having excellent scholastic achievements and having plans to go on to do great things.
Francesco is on the right.
I sat at the same table as Francesco’s family, and there’s no question where he gets his friendly personality from—they are among the nicest people I’ve ever met.
That evening, I took advantage of the area and went out to my favorite type of restaurant—an Indian restaurant about 4 miles away. The Deluxe Dinner for One (as they called it) was magnificent—a mixed grill of tandoori chicken and shrimp, chicken tikka, and vegetables; a side dish of chicken curry; basmati rice; and naan. A mango laasi drink was included, as was some kheer (rice pudding) for dessert. I did my best, but couldn’t finish it all!
The conference concluded on Sunday morning with a session on the Educational Opportunity Program and a business session. I drove home, stopping in Syracuse for lunch. What kind of restaurant? Another Indian restaurant, of course, just off of Electronics Parkway that had a nice buffet. I was still well stuffed when I got back to Canton.
What Is “FROM THE POUCH”?
FROM THE POUCH is a blog I write for SUNY Canton students. During the fall and spring semesters, it comes out every week more or less, depending on how busy I am. It consists of news, answers to student questions, and random thoughts that cross my mind. There’s even a trivia contest in each issue—if you’re the first to get every question right, you win a $10 gift card, good anywhere on campus. Even if you’re not the first, you get your name published in the blog, and that’s priceless! I hope you enjoy it, and I’d love to hear your comments.
Dr. Zvi Szafran
President, SUNY Canton
Last Time’s Trivia Contest
Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “M”. We had a ton of entrants, and our fastest responder with all five correct was Breanna Ziser. Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prize, Breanna—a $10 gift card, good anywhere on campus.
Others getting all four right (so better luck next time!) included Concetta Smythe, Rieanna Dupree, Cassandra Jones, Randi Conway, Lee Meggison, Siani Smith, Allison Farnung, Charles Hanby, Serina Six, Ashley Paez, and Bryant Yates.
Here are the correct answers:
- The “King of Pop”. Michael Jackson.
- She played Hannah Montana, and taught the world how to twerk. Miley Cyrus.
- Comic book company that publishes Spider-Man, the Avengers, and the X-Men. Marvel Comics.
- Movie about a zebra, lion, hippo, giraffe and a bunch of penguins that escape from the Central Park Zoo. Madagascar.
This Time’s Trivia Challenge
Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “N”. The first with all five correct wins a $10 Gift Card, good anywhere on campus. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO firstname.lastname@example.org since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.
- Place with five boroughs, and the Bronx is up and The Battery is down.
- Service that streams movies and some TV shows.
- Gaming company that is behind Super Mario Brothers and sells the 3DS and Wii platforms.
- Stage name for rapper Christopher George Latore Wallace, who was killed in 1997. His album Life After Death was released 16 days later, and rose to #1 on the charts.