Several years ago, during yet another state budget crunch, there was a proposal to trim academic departments in some barbaric way at my college. My colleagues raised a hue and cry, fuss and muss, and gloomily predicted the downfall of civilization should the humanities be cut, STEM, or STEAM, or STREAM be damned. At the time I remembered something Kurt Vonnegut wrote about someone questioning why people take a moral stand. Vonnegut wrote that person said we might as well write strongly worded letters to the editor condemning icebergs for all the good our concerns do in changing the minds of movers, shakers and general powers-that-be.
The following was submitted as a press release on March 21 and represents a formal, official communication from the University Faculty Senate Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee of the State University of New York’s University Faculty Senate strongly condemns the targeted violence of March 16. We call for solidarity with Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities in Atlanta and across the nation. We must work to create a world that is safe and just for everyone.
That the murder of eight people, including six Asian American women, is not universally acknowledged as a hate crime demonstrates the need for continuing education about the diverse histories of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and Diasporas in the United States.
It should go without saying that racism, xenophobia, and misogyny have no place in our educational institutions. We continue to advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism, and social justice in formal and informal settings, in hiring and in retention, in curricula and pedagogies.
Working together, our SUNY communities can become the change we want to see and help bend the arc of justice. SUNY and UFS will be judged by our actions and results.
Gwen Kay, President, SUNY University Faculty Senate
Sometimes someone else’s dream becomes your dream. For me, that dream was a national organization for shared governance, parallel to what we do for the public institutions in New York State. And as much as I cringe to admit this, history does repeat itself.
In the fall of 2018, campus governance leaders (CGLs) across SUNY, and across the country, received an unsolicited email asking if they would like to go to Texas and maybe create a new organization to represent shared governance nationally. The emails were random groupings of campuses, with 30-40 recipients per email. I know this because many CGLs forwarded their email to me to make sure I knew about this and to see if it was legitimate. I wanted to go! With the endorsement of both the Executive Committee and the knowledge of the Senate, I headed to Austin, Texas, for Halloween.
Cephas Archie, Chief Equity Officer, City of Rochester, NY
Timothy W. Gerken, Associate Professor of Humanities, SUNY Morrisville
Sinikka Grant, Associate Professor of English, SUNY Cobleskill
Walter E. Little, Professor of Anthropology, University at Albany, SUNY
Systemic racism and poverty are endemic in the United States. This is playing out in high relief across the country in protests against police brutality. George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was just the latest in a constant stream of police overreach and abuses that resulted in injuries and deaths. The repeated documentation of such unjustifiable behaviors has become commonplace in recent years, and as a nation we must recommit to actions that drive systemic change.Higher education is one of many institutions involved with responding to and offering suggestions for those affected by this violence. All institutions are structurally limited, so we need diverse approaches. We believe university and college Criminal Justice programs can play a significant role in developing safer and healthier policing practices.
Fatal police shootings are increasing annually, and Blacks are killed at disproportionately higher rates than Whites. Black men are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than White men. Most concerning is that “for young men of color, police use of force is among the leading causes of death.” However, it is important to remember that all minoritized citizens have a greater chance of being injured or killed by police use of force than White citizens.
By Jennifer Laursen
For nearly two decades, Joe Hildreth has curated exhibitions of artwork created by students across the system, including the annual SUNY Student Art Exhibition and Best of SUNY competition at SUNY Plaza.
Over the years, Joe has sought to expand the list of shows into public spaces in an effort to increase exposure for SUNY’s high quality art programs. At times, SUNY Student Art shows have been hosted by the Governor’s office in Washington D.C., the New York State Museum, and the Albany International Airport. A year ago, Joe curated a remarkable six, simultaneous exhibitions. He installs every piece at every location, a physically grueling task that can take up to three days.
In August Joe is curating a Virtual Abstract Art Exhibition on the SUNY System Art web page. The page currently hosts a Virtual Pride Exhibition he curated. For Joe, these exhibitions are a labor of love, providing visual evidence of the wealth of talent in the SUNY System.
“Each work is a clear snapshot of what’s on a student’s mind, their concerns, fears, and hopes, and as a single person’s voice, is worthy of attention,” he said.
Joe urges viewers to give all student artworks the attention they deserve. “There is something the student wants to say, and if you give it time, you will be able to hear it,” he said.
A longtime professor of art at SUNY Potsdam, Joe became interested in faculty governance, eventually serving as president of the SUNY Faculty Senate, a position he held from 2001 to 2005.
Today, as professor emeritus, he has lifetime access to the art facilities at SUNY Potsdam, where he continues to create works in his preferred media: intaglio printing and stone lithography, both complex processes that demand strong analytic skills. The making of art, particularly drawing, was one of his favorite childhood activities.
He was equally interested in the natural world. He started college as a pre-med major, but graduated with an MFA in printmaking and a minor in painting. Not surprisingly, Joe draws his artistic inspiration from the natural world, biological objects and the surrounding landscapes.
Reprinted with permission from the SUNY System Newsletter.
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