You Voted. Election@Bard Was There To Help.

The weather was dreary, but Election@Bard was out in force to help Bard students make their voices heard. Center for Civic Engagement Director Jonathan Becker was a poll watcher at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Barrytown, Bard College’s local polling station. Below are the unofficial results from the Barrytown site.

For a wider view of election results in the Hudson Valley, click here.

 

Governor

Cuomo (D)       608

Molinaro R       80

Hawkins (G)      28

 

Comptroller

Di Napoli (D)    648

Trichter     R          50

Dunlea (G)        14

 

Attorney General

James (D)          647

Wofford R       51

Sussman (G)      13

 

Senator

Gillibrand (D)   663

Farley R               53

 

Congress

Delgado (D)      661

Faso R              55

Greenfeld (G)   4

 

State Senate

Smyth (D)         656

Serino R           61

 

 

Family Court

Martin (D)         636

Hagstrom R       73

 

Surrogate Court

Mansfield (D)    642

Hayes R              69

Get Engaged: 2019 Student Action & Youth Leadership Conference

Student leaders from the Bard International Network who are actively engaged in community based work are eligible to apply for the five-day conference at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary from March 15 to 22, 2019.

All expenses are covered!

Learn more and check out last year’s conference here.

Students can also send their questions to getengagedleadership@bard.edu!

APPLICATION DEADLINE IS NOVEMBER 30, 2018

Apply now!

 

Community Action Award Recipients 2018

CCE Community Action Award recipients receive financial support to engage with communities in unpaid or underpaid internships in communities at home and across the globe. Read about three award recipients and their experiences this summer.

My name is Chase Williams and I’m a rising senior at Bard. I’ve always imagined experiencing the life of a lawyer or judge. I enjoy the way in which the law looks at a new case and works to instill consistent protocols in all circumstances.  This summer I was an intern at the Oklahoma City Federal Western District Court under the Honorable Magistrate Judge Suzanne Mitchell. As part of the internship, I spent hours attending public trials, reading through appellate briefings, and coordinating legal functions and gatherings. I also attended a banquet about the Royal v. Murphy trial, where questions of jurisdiction and land ownership submerged Oklahomans and Native Americans in a legal feud. My internship culminated with attendance at a naturalization ceremony where members of many nationalities came together to become legally recognized citizens of the United States of America.

My name is Nadia Russell and I am a rising junior studying biology and global public health. I interned at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, where I served as a field coordinator for a project called MapsCorps that maps underserved neighborhoods. The value of mapping community assets is to connect them to community health. I must say it has been an amazing, yet very challenging, experience. My expectations were really high, which was probably a dangerous position from which to begin. Non-profits, after all, often are overworked and understaffed and I had to adapt my expectations and goals in order to be at peace with my work. Working with the high schoolers I mentored was truly amazing. I had a team of four, and they were all 16 and going into their junior year of high school. Our dynamic was awesome and I was really lucky to be partnered with the students.

I was especially proud of the mini “research project” that our mappers did. We focused on knowledge of HIV prevention and care among black and Latinx women in the South Bronx. We dedicated one work day to surveying South Bronx residents about their knowledge of PrEP (a pill that can be taken to stay HIV negative even despite potential exposures) and PEP (a pill that can be taken up to 36 hours after an exposure to drastically reduce the chances of contracting HIV). As college students, we were well aware that our results were not likely to be statistically significant, but as my public health professor at Bard, Helen Epstein taught me, obsession with statistical significance when you can see a phenomenon right in front of your eyes is a big obstacle to getting things done in the public health field.

By and large, this internship taught me patience, and that progress is incremental. Having big goals is important, getting frustrated is normal, and progress isn’t always linear or easily visible. In some ways the work I did feels like a tiny drop in the bucket. In other ways, I feel as though I positively impacted the lives of teenagers, exposed many teenagers to the concepts of public health and how community assets impact the health of its residents, did a small but important bit of advocacy, and met a lot of fantastic people. This internship also exposed me to many of the challenges that the public health field faces. Ultimately I have been made a better, more informed person for participating in this project, and I look forward to exploring more ways in which I can incorporate public health into my career.

Dylan Ahunhodjaev ‘20, spent the summer as an intern at the Bard High School Early College Manhattan Summerbridge Program.

Is there anything more stressful than being thirteen years old? Sure, adulthood is hard: emails need to be answered, bills need to be paid, pointless-seeming boxes need to be checked on endlessly regenerative to-do lists. The mundanity of it all tends to accumulate and harden into a near-constant state of stress. It sucks, but by 21, you sort of get the drill. Sort of.

To be 13 and entering high school for the first time is to have no notion of the drill, or of yourself, or how you will respond when these two things inevitably collide. To be 13 is to have a fluid, rapidly changing identity as the challenges and expectations of life grow more severe and less avoidable. To be 13 is to stand, Janus-faced, between the sunny world of childhood and the steely glint–sometimes menacing, sometimes inviting–of the mysterious realm of teens and being teenaged. Plus, there’s a ton more homework and stuff. It’s an existence I, personally,  would not visit on my worst enemy.

Which is why I give all available props to BHSEC Manhattan for their Summerbridge program, which guides matriculating students from statistically underperforming middle schools through a typical day at their new school. They get to meet some of their teachers, participate in some fun (or at least fun-adjacent) activities, andeat some pizza. I spent the day guiding one group of these kids from classroom to classroom, and we finished up by playing in a drum circle. I learned so much about proper djembe technique in that short session, it made me want to go back to high school and join the percussion club I used to make such merciless fun of back in the day. Being a teenager suddenly didn’t seem all that bad, knowing you could always whack a drum really hard.

Of course, the responsibilities of a good school extend beyond showing its students a good time, and making things easy on them as they fumble and grope through their formative years. Nothing about BHSEC, even in its off-season, made me think it was an easy ride, but opportunities for self-exploration and cultivation seemed to be well within reach for its students. I think that these opportunities are invaluable, and I hope that in my time at BHSEC Manhattan I was able to facilitate, in some small way, somebody’s flourishing in the coming school year.

These are a few of the 50 CCE Community Action Award recipients this year. Stay tuned for more blog posts. 

Brian Mateo Awarded Robert J. Myers Fund Fellowship

Brian Mateo, Assistant Dean of Civic Engagement and Special Assistant for Admission and Early College Outreach, has received a Robert J. Myers Fund fellowship in collaboration with Asha Castleberry, Professor of Political Studies at Fordham University and Defense Council Associate at the Truman National Security Project.

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The Dream Team Part I: BAB Beginnings

Dariel Vasquez ’17 and Harry Johnson ’17

“You both must feel like your living a dream?

Harry: Well it may sound crazy, but I think the biggest lesson I learned from the last year is that I’ve been living my dream for some time now.

Dariel: *Chuckles* I think I’d say the same…

Armed with resources and drive, and dubbed the “Dream Team,”  Harry Johnson ‘17 and Dariel Vasquez ‘17 see no bounds to the potential of Brothers at Bard (BAB), their student led passion project that has gracefully been transformed into a comprehensive mentorship program providing  access to positive male role models of color in spaces where they are limited and often non-existent. Using their respective backgrounds and experiences to build off of each other, Vasquez and Johnson are back together; nurturing and growing BAB into a thriving program that is a blend of creativity and strategy and embodies an ingenuitive approach to inequity and inequality. Although they set out on vastly different adventures over the last year, not many have had a first year post-grad like Johnson and Vasquez.

Harry Johnson spent the last year traveling as a fellow for the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Foundation; exploring the in’s and out’s of grassroots social enterprises that use sports as a means to further international development efforts. Dariel Vasquez stayed at Annandale to build Brothers at Bard in partnership with the grant funded  ‘My Brothers Keeper’ initiative at Kingston High School and gauging BAB’s potential to evolve into a fully functioning community initiative. While both have much to share about the last year of their life, it’s what they’ve decided to do with year two post-grad that speaks volumes. Vasquez and Johnson aren’t just back on the same side of the world, they are back on the same team and primed for another journey.

Their dream and vision: to redefine what it means to provide guidance and support to young men of color through strategic partnership alignment of college, community and corporate thought leaders as a means to tap into the unique potential and positionality that collegiate men of color from underserved communities have to serve as mentors and role models for their younger peers.

You would think the two grew up together the way they seem to finish each other’s sentences or laugh at jokes that weren’t said out loud, but the two actually come from very different backgrounds. Vasquez grew up in Harlem, New York  and Johnson spent his early years in Jamaica, Queens before moving to the small town of Smyrna, Delaware at the age of 14. “ You want me to compare Delaware to NYC?” asks Johnson. “There is really no comparison. On the first day of school kids were telling the teachers they wanted to be farmers when they grew up.” It wasn’t until they received HEOP and BOP scholarships through what is now the Office of Access and Equity, that their worlds collided.

Despite their different upbringing, the transition to life at Bard brought them closer than they ever could have imagined. The two describe experiencing a unique blend of academic, cultural, social, and financial shock that placed them in a peculiar position at the age of 18. “A lot of people try to understand and describe the experience of coming to a place like Bard as a young man of color as ‘world shattering,’ but that doesn’t get to the root of the experience,” says Johnson, “ it may even sell it short.” Both men found that being in a liberal arts environment exposed them to new ways of seeing and interpreting their positionality as young men of color, all the while struggling to learn how to live between two drastically different worlds.

As Johnson and Vasquez grew closer through their shared experience, their connection to the college waned until it reached a breaking point where Johnson was ready to leave Bard and retreat to a college that felt more comfortable. The two remember this period vividly, recalling a conversation they had one night during January of their first year. Johnson says, “I told him I was leaving… I had no idea that he would convince me to stay.”  By this point, Vasquez had already laid the groundwork for a new project that would create a space for Black men to share their feelings’ while acclimating to Bard. Brothers at Bard began that night.

Vasquez and Johnson have created a strong brotherhood circle on campus, building upon Vasquez’s own experience as a mentee in brotherhood groups in NYC. They saw the need. Felt the need. Responded to the need.  Personal agency is the base principle behind all BAB efforts. ‘There can be inclusion through an ownership of problems, and local ownership in the hands of students forms agency, an agency that create and reverberates through a community,’ Vasquez and Johnson elaborated. ‘It’s the dream to be able to solve or fix your own problems,’ Dariel noted. There is a unique strength in being an engaged student — manifesting the dream of control and agency over the most personal and strenuous issues.

Follow the dream of Brothers at Bard – Part II in the November newsletter…because from pressure comes diamonds.

by Najwa Jamal ’21 and Harry Johnson ’17

Why Vote?

Real News. Fake News. Political News. Since the 2016 election campaign we’ve been inundated with news about politics and politicians. As students we can choose to either thrust ourselves head first into the news cycle or to disregard it and pay attention to all the other things on our plate. For some it can be easy to ignore, especially when living in the Annandale bubble, but Bard students have never shied away from a challenge.

As college students we need to grapple with the fact that people between the ages of 18-29 are less likely to vote than any other age bracket. The hardest news to swallow is that only 20% of eligible 18 to 29-year-olds actually cast ballots in the 2014 midterms, and recent polls show that only 30% of young voters are certain they’ll vote in the upcoming November midterms. The members of Election@Bard, a nonpartisan voting initiative sponsored by the Center for Civic Engagement and the Andrew Goodman Foundation, are trying to change that reality at Bard College.

The midterm election on November 6 will be one of the most contested in recent history, making it more important than ever that we each find our voice and go vote. Whether it’s a congressional, local, student government, or presidential election, voting is the most important  way to civically engage . By casting your ballot you are improving your community, exercising your rights, and helping create the kind of government you want and deserve.

New York has one of the lowest voting rates in the United States. It is the only state in the nation that conducts two primaries a year: one for statewide office, the other for federal office. This results in confusion about when the elections are taking place, and who will appear on the ballot. Unfortunately, New York has not implemented automatic voter registration, early voting, or open primaries; all of which are being enacted in many other states across the country.

With the help of the CCE, Election@Bard has institutionalized voter registration at the college. All first-year students are now given the opportunity to register to vote on move-in day, and throughout Language & Thinking. During the semester, Election@Bard holds daily drop-in hours and reaches out to the campus community to register students on and off campus and to help with absentee voting. Election@Bard also hosts candidate forums on campus and transports students to local forums.  On November 6, you’ll find Election@Bard volunteers stationed at the Kline Bus Stop, shuttling students to the polling place, and making sure students have candidate information, sample ballots, and know their voting rights. After the polls close, the hard work culminates in a watch party that showcases the result of exercising your voice and your vote.

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, this November’s election may be one of the most important midterms in recent history. There is so much opportunity to channel your energy into our political process. Devote a Saturday to canvass or phonebank for a candidate you are passionate about. Remember to check your registration and have your friends check their registrations. Then go forth and VOTE!

by the Election@Bard team: Ava Mazzye ‘20, Director; Adrian Costa ‘21, Campus Engagement Coordinator; Sadia Saba ‘21, Community Engagement Coordinator; Kathy Gaweda ‘21

Get Out and Vote

Veronika Rišnovská leads a civic engagement project at Bard College Berlin descriptively entitled “Clowning!”. She holds weekly workshops where she trains students to interact with kids from difficult social backgrounds through improvisation and play. Once trained, the clowns, complete with red noses, visit refugee camps, hospitals, and special needs classrooms.

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Veronika Rišnovská: Clowning Around for Good

Veronika Rišnovská leads a civic engagement project at Bard College Berlin descriptively entitled “Clowning!”. She holds weekly workshops where she trains students to interact with kids from difficult social backgrounds through improvisation and play. Once trained, the clowns, complete with red noses, visit refugee camps, hospitals, and special needs classrooms.

Read more