THE WEEKLY BLAB
Volume 11, Issue 6–October 20, 20216
That Was the Week That Was
It’s been a busy past two weeks filled with lots of interesting activities. I’ll try to hit some of the highlights here.
First up was going to temple for the Jewish High Holidays, namely Rosh HaShana (the New Year) on October 2-4 and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) on October 11-12. There’s only one temple in St. Lawrence County, in Potsdam, and services there are always very nice. Unlike most secular holidays, Jewish holidays always begin and end at sundown, so Yom Kippur began at sunset on the 11th and ended at sunset on the 12th. On both, the services are extra-long, and include the blowing of the shofar (a ram’s horn) and on Yom Kippur, a full-day total fast, special prayers of repentance, and asking to be absolved of one’s sins. If you’ve never heard a ram’s horn being blown, it’s quite a treat—there are various varieties of horn blasts, the last one being the tekiya g’dola (literally, “big blast”) where the person holds the note for as long as they possibly can without fainting. There are several less known holidays after Yom Kippur too, so the complete High Holiday period lasts more than a month.
On Wednesday the 5th, SUNY Canton hosted our first Excellence in Leadership presentation of the year, featuring our own congresswoman, Elise Stefanik. Congresswoman Stefanik has the distinction of being the youngest woman ever to be elected to congress, so she is certainly well qualified to speak about “Next Generation Leadership”—the importance of attracting younger people to government service. The talk was quite uplifting, and audience had lots of questions and was quite appreciative.
The next Excellence in Leadership presentation was the very next day, and featured alumnus Rick Patri (’91), who spoke on his experiences as an entrepreneur. Rick is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever talked to—he is full of ideas and is a very clear, out-of-the-box thinker. He has a deep understanding of social media, and uses it extensively in his various businesses, the latest of which is Lucky Tackle Box—a subscription service for fishermen that sends you a box full of lures and baits every month. His website has all kinds of how-to videos, a blog, and various support services. Rick also talked to a business class earlier in the day. There were a lot of interested students eager to follow his example of how to grow a business.
October 7th-9th was Family Weekend, featuring a range of very cool activities including a mind-reader, an a cappella choir, and a chance to stuff your own Pokemon. The weather was pretty lousy with intermittent rain. I was supposed to have driven down to the Flaming Leaves Festival in Lake Placid for an alumni event, but the weather kept the attendance down to only a hardy few, who were well served by our excellent Advancement staff.
On Monday, October 10th, we had a very well-attended Open House program down at the CARC Field House. I got there a little before 9:00 AM and at first, I thought I had gotten the location wrong since I was almost the only person there. The place quickly filled up and the Open House actually started at 9:30, with lots of tables set up for prospective students and their families to explore our various degree programs, student organizations, financial aid, athletics, and just about everything else at the College. Our little band consisted of Dan Gagliardi (Mathematics, on bass and vocals), Rosemary Phillips (Legal Studies, on guitar and vocals) and me (on rhythm guitar and fortunately for the crowd, not on vocals). We played our usual repertoire of songs and had a lot of fun doing it. The program began at 10 with our mascot Roody pulling various people out of the audience to teach them some dance steps (ending with him dragging me in to do that too). This was followed by Melissa Evans (Director of admissions) performing a crowd fashion adjustment, consisting of giveaways of SUNY Canton T-shirts and hats to people wearing other colleges’ logos (we can’t have that at an Open House, can we?), and a giveaway of a bag of goodies to the family who had come the shortest and the longest distance. After that, I gave the welcome to everyone, and the program ended with the audience being dismissed by major to learn more about our programs.
Synagogue in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Finally, on Monday October 17, we hosted a very nice watercolor art exhibit by Prof. Jay Waronker from Kennesaw State University on Synagogues of Sub-Saharan Africa. The talk he gave was very informative, talking about the architecture of these buildings, as well as what they were used for in the past during the colonial period or in the 1960’s, and what they are used for now. The paintings are still up in the library for the next few days, so there’s still time to see them.
Each of the campus events takes an army of people to help set them up, advertise them, and work with the folks who come. My deepest thanks to everyone who helped out—you’re all terrific.
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 last week on October 13. 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 that evening. The audience was moderate in size but quite enthusiastic. I’m glad I attended both events, and learned a lot.
Also taking place on October 13 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.
Last Time’s Trivia Contest
Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “N”. Our fastest five responders with all five correct were DianeMarie Collins, Patrick Massaro, Douglas Scheidt, Patricia Todd, and Christina Lesyk.Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository. Also getting all five were Carmela Young, Drorit Szafran, Kevin Elliott, Melinda Miller, Kelly Carter and Alan Gabrielli. Here are the correct answers:
- The Empire State. New York.
- Organization that holds most of the major car races. NASCAR.
- Kind of energy or power produced from uranium. Nuclear.
- Country in which the highest peaks of the Himalayas are found. Nepal.
- Streaming service that provides movies and some television shows online. Netflix.
This Time’s Trivia Challenge
Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “O”, several of the questions for which were contributed by Alan Gabrielli, who thinks my last two quizzes were too easy. The first five with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a prize. 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.
- President of the United States.
- TV show where the host gave everyone a car.
- Newspaper listing about someone who died.
- Japanese art of paper-folding.
- Ancient Greek epic poem attributed to Homer—it’s the sequel to the Iliad.