THE WEEKLY BLAB
Volume 12, Issue 8–February 20, 2018
In the North Country and in New England, there is usually a thaw in the weather at some point in January and February gets cold again. That doesn’t seem to be the case this year, with February so far being pretty much entirely above zero, with us heading into a warm patch this coming week. The predicted high is 45° today, 53° tomorrow, and 58° (some are saying 60°) on Wednesday, dropping into the high 30’s on Thursday and Friday, the low 40’s on the weekend, and staying in the 30’s and 40’s for the rest of the month. What does this portend for the future? I’m guessing either tropical weather or another blizzard for March. Stay tuned.
It’s always nice to hear that friends are doing well, and in looking at today’s issue of Diverse Issues in Higher Education, I read that Kirk Nooks has now been selected to be the president of Gordon State College in Georgia. Back when I was at SPSU, we hosted a branch of Georgia Highlands College (a community college) on our campus. Kirk was the manager for that branch campus, and I got to know him then, as we worked together to make sure that the Georgia Highlands students had access to resources and events on the SPSU campus. Kirk was very pleasant to work with and a real stand-up individual. He eventually left Georgia to take a position (if I’m remembering right) in Alabama, and then as President of Metropolitan Community College’s Longview campus in Lee’s Summit, MO. He’s coming back to Georgia now, and I’m sure the students at Gordon State will enjoy having him as president. Several other people I worked with while I was at SPSU have now become college presidents—Margaret Venable (now president at Dalton State College in Dalton GA) and Al Panu (now chancellor of the University of South Carolina Beaufort). Good people all.
Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of hosting a lunch for our campus folks who are involved in our campus’ Green Dot Program. For those who don’t know, Green Dot is a program that mobilizes students, staff, and faculty to help prevent violence and make the campus a safer place. We’ve all been in a situation where you see things beginning to get out of control. Perhaps you’re there when two people start yelling at each other. Perhaps they start shoving or hitting each other. Perhaps you’re at a party and see someone being taken advantage of who’s under the influence. Perhaps the person taking advantage is under the influence too. What do you do in any of this instances or similar situations?
Green dot means that you’re willing to step up and do something try to keep power-based violence from occurring. Here are some examples:
- If a friend seems to be under unusual stress, ask if there is a way that you can help.
- If you see a situation escalating out of control, step in to stop it if it is safe to do so. Otherwise, call an RA or other Campus Official, or call the College Police (7777).
- If a friend is under the influence, make sure they get home or to another place of safety. Don’t leave them there, since bad outcomes that they can’t control may follow.
- If you hear someone telling a joke that normalizes violence or attacks someone because of their race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, step in and say that you don’t find that type of humor to be acceptable.
We will be offering Green Dot Bystander Training this semester, so please sign up for it when you see the announcement. Our Green Dot faculty, staff, and students are great, and it was very nice having lunch with them and hearing about their accomplishments and plans.
That evening, I attended one of our campus Diverse Discussions, offered by our Center for Diversities and Inclusion. After some pizza and wings, we watched a documentary called “Time—the Kalief Browder Story”. Kalief Browder was a 16-year old Bronx high school student who was accused of stealing a backpack. He had previously pled guilty to joyriding in a stolen bakery truck and was on parole. Since his family was unable to afford his bail (set at $3,000), he was imprisoned for three years (two of them in solitary confinement on Rikers Island) while waiting for his day in court. While Kalief was in jail, the prosecution requested deferment of proceedings nine times between June 23, 2011 and December 14, 2012. Kalief finally appeared before a judge on March 13, 2013 and was offered a plea bargain of immediate release in exchange for an admission of guilt to two misdemeanors. He refused. He was finally released in May 2013 when the prosecutor’s case was found to be lacking in evidence and witnesses.
In November 2013, he filed a lawsuit against the NYPD, Bronx District Attorney, and the Dept. of Corrections. The action against NYC was taken up by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (Southern District of NY) for “unnecessary and excessive force” on adolescents on Rikers Island. In January 2015, the NY City Council voted to end solitary confinement for inmates under the age of 21. Kalief committed suicide on June 6, 2015, with his supporters blaming the mental and physical abuse he suffered while in prison.
It was impossible to watch the documentary without wondering how the legal system could have failed so badly—the long delays before trial, the culture of violence in the prisons, and the excessive use of solitary confinement. There were also allegations of corruption and violence by guards (as well as low pay, understaffing, and abuse of guards by prisoners), and of prosecutors using long delays in order to force plea-bargains. In the discussion afterwards, all the students wanted to know what actions they could take to prevent situations like this from occurring in the future. That’s a good question, but the sad truth is that while everyone says they want safe communities, properly maintained prisons, and speedy trials, it seems that fewer are willing to allocate the necessary funds and attention needed to make this actually happen.
Part 2 of this documentary will be shown today at 4:30 in the Kingston Theatre.
St. Valentine’s Day
It’s always tough to come up with a new idea for a St. Valentine’s Day gift—going out for a nice dinner, flowers and candy are always nice, but everyone does some combination of that.
Well, I was at the Canton Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner on February 8, where I was one of several who was asked to give a brief talk on what I appreciated about the North Country and what was new at SUNY Canton. The talk was well-received, and then it was time for the annual Member of the Year Award, which went to Glow Skincare and Spa, owned by Carmen and Blake Gendebien. Carmen’s thank-you speech was very sweet, and included calling out SUNY Canton (among many others) for the help and support we had given as the business got started and grew. They’ve given back to the community too, including by participating in the Women’s Business Bootcamp held at SUNY Canton and starting the “Jules for Life Foundation”, a local charity that supports families with children diagnosed with pediatric cancer.
Carmen and Blake Gendebien
You can probably guess where I’m going with this—I decided to get Jill a gift certificate for a “day of beauty” at the Glow Skincare and Spa (as well as some flowers) as a Valentine’s Day gift. She loved it, and now the rest of you have another idea for next year that will help out a nice local business.
Also occurring each year on St. Valentine’s Day or thereabouts is SUNY Canton’s “Love Your Library Day” celebration. This year, the Queen of Hearts was played by Marianne DiMarco-Temkin (Retention Specialist at the Advising Center), various student groups manned a table at which you could make special heart-shaped cookies, and you could get your picture taken at an old-time photo booth, among other activities.
Lots of students attended throughout the day, and it’s no surprise that SUNY Canton’s library was rated the best in SUNY in the most recent Student Opinion Survey. I got there at about 2 PM (they had started at 9 AM), and things were still going strong. After enjoying a nice cookie that a volunteer from our Women’s Volleyball Team made for me, I got to pose with the Queen of Hearts for some photos and watch people come by, some of whom had even dressed for the occasion.
Coming Up and Super-Cool
On Thursday, March 1 at the Albany Capital Center, the Eastern College Athletic Conference will be hosting the first ever ECAC eSports Invitational. Four teams will be competing in League of Legends, with the winner being declared the first ECAC Invitational Champion. The first round will be Canisius College (Buffalo, NY) vs. Siena College (Loudenville, NY), and Stevenson University (Owings Mills, MD) vs. (you guessed it!) SUNY Canton. The winners of the two games will play in the championship game. In the press release, Randy Sieminski (Director of Athletics) said: “SUNY Canton is thrilled to be participating in the ECAC’s first major eSports event. This will be a great experience for our students to be involved in a first-class competition at a phenomenal venue surrounded by the added excitement of the NCAA Division I basketball conference playoffs. We can’t wait.” We’re trying to stream it onto campus so that anyone who wants to can see it, and will send out the information about when and where as soon as we have it.
Last Time’s Trivia Contest
Last time’s contest had to do with snarky songs about love. Our fastest responders with all five correct were Robin Gittings and Terri Clemmo, same as last issue. What happened to everyone else? Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.
Here are the correct answers:
- Carly Simon wrote this song about a big-headed ex. Who’s the guy? She hasn’t told. You’re so Vain.
- Kelly Clarkson had a hit with this song about how “We started out friends, It was cool, But it was all pretend.” Since You Been Gone.
- The Corrs had this revenge song, starting “You bored me with your stories, I can’t believe I endured you for as long as I did.” I Never Loved You Anyway.
- Very cool song by Soft Cell with lyric “I love you though you hurt me so, Now I’m going to pack my things and go.” Tainted Love.
- The J. Geils Band summed it up with their anti-homage to Valentine’s Day, with lyric “And so it goes, Till the day you die, This thing they call love, It’s gonna make you cry.” Love Stinks.
This Time’s Trivia Challenge
This issue’s challenge calls on you to complete the play on words. The entries with the most correct answers win a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, as well as the admiration of their peers. 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.
Example: When the dog gave birth to puppies near the road, the police officer gave it a ticket for . The correct answer would be “littering”.
- When the forest ranger Googled “how to start a wildfire”, he got 48,500 .
- When the doctor was asked about the prognosis for the man who was found to have swallowed eight plastic horses that were found in his stomach, she replied: “His condition is .
- Two TV antennas got married last Sunday. The wedding was terrible, but the (the answer has three words).
- When the guy stood up his girlfriend at the gym, the romance was over. Why? It didn’t (The answer has two words).
- For his grand finale, the Spanish magician said “Now, I’m going to make myself disappear, at the count of three. Uno… Dos…” and poof, he disappeared. What happened to him? (The answer has five words).