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Dariel Vasquez ’17 cofounded Brothers at Bard with Harry Johnson ’17 to provide peer support for men of color on campus. What began in 2014 as a Bard Trustee Leader Scholar project expanded to include a successful mentoring program for high school students in Kingston, New York, and has grown into the larger Brothers@ organization, which supports students across the country. Vasquez talks to NY1 News about his upbringing in Harlem, transition to college life, and his commitment to providing positive role models to other young men of color.
Brian Mateo, associate dean of civic engagement and director of strategic partnerships for the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program, has been elected to the board of directors of BYkids. Started in 2007, BYkids is a global movement that uses storytelling through film to inform, engage, and inspire action. BYkids provides kids around the world with the training and the video cameras to make short documentaries about their lives. Renowned filmmakers mentor these young people in the art of filmmaking.
“I am very excited to join the Board of extraordinary talented individuals and help the BYkids organization strategize their goals for the next ten years and also the next generation of young filmmakers and its viewers,” says Mateo.
Brian Mateo also serves on the board of trustees of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and as a term member on the Council on Foreign Relations, a security fellow for the Truman National Security Project and a climate reality leader trained by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore through the Climate Reality Project.
“We are honored to have Brian’s international and educational expertise and welcome him as we expand our impact of this powerful films as a way to promote cross-cultural conversations,” says Holly Carter, BYkids founder and executive director. “We have done a number of screening and conversation events with his students and Bard colleagues, and it is always a rich experience.”
BYkids is a non-profit organization pairing master filmmakers, including Albert Maysles and Ric Burns, with youth (ages 8-21) from around the world to create short documentaries that educate Americans about globally relevant issues. By giving kids the tools and mentoring to make documentary films about their lives and packaging those films for a wide American audience, BYkids gives voice to youth from diverse cultures, and encourages international understanding and engagement by giving viewers concrete ways to respond.
BYkids films air on PBS with a supporting curriculum for students and teachers and are distributed through PBS LearningMedia, Discovery Education, and PenPal Schools. The organizations holds film screenings and panel discussions at schools, film festivals, Lincoln Center, the United Nations, and SXSW. We engage on social media. Each of our young filmmakers creates empathy touching 248.6 million viewers. Our instructional webinar, hosted by WNET and accessible to all educators, is promoted to more than 170,000 educators worldwide, including middle, junior, and high school librarians, social studies, and world history teachers. To learn more about BYkids, please click here.
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“Expanding prison education opportunities through TAP restoration would have an exponentially beneficial outcome and substantially improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers,” writes Burnett. “My education allows me to remain financially secure at a time many people are struggling. . . . My education has made me an empathetic, diligent and highly efficient professional. Bard Prison Initiative sets high expectations for its students, and when we return to our communities, we bring those lessons home with us.”
First-year instrumentalists Sophia Jackson '25, cello, and Aleksandar Vitanov '25, trumpet, have launched a new program called the Music Mentorship Initiative (MMI). The program offers tutoring and free private lessons to music students who otherwise cannot afford them, while allowing mentors—current Conservatory students who have completed a pedagogical training seminar—to gain teaching experience.
The Musical Mentorship Initiative, created in the fall of 2020 even as COVID-19 affected us all, has successfully grown into a program for local youth pursuing music education. MMI now has 33 Bard student mentors and 10 mentees from Red Hook. The young music students receive free private lessons from members of the Bard Conservatory. The Bard students receive teacher training from professionals, and they are dedicated to offering first-rate instruction. The feedback is very positive! MMI is looking forward to recruiting more mentors and young people who want to learn. Please join us if you are interested in being a music instructor. In addition to offering private instruction, MMI is beginning to collaborate with a number of local organizations including the Red Hook Residential Center for incarcerated youth, Hudson Music Teachers, and Musicians for the World. MMI is now looking forward to expanding the outreach of the organization nationally as well as internationally through organizations such as Musicians for the World. An MMI website is being constructed for the purpose of establishing an efficient communication channel for the members of our organization, as well as making it more convenient for future mentors and mentees to contact us. In 2021 we plan to recruit music schools around the United States and encourage musicians to start their own Musical Mentorship Initiative. We hope to help organize this national music instruction initiative while at the same time continuing with our local outreach.
Become a Mentee Become a Mentor
Buzzfeed features the work of students in HR 321, Advocacy Video, in which Bard undergraduates worked together with students in the clemency clinic at CUNY Law School and the human rights organization WITNESS to create short video self-presentations by applicants for clemency. Buzzfeed reporter Melissa Segura highlights the video narrative of Rodney Chandler, incarcerated at Cayuga Correctional Facility, and also interviews David Sell, with whom the class worked last year on two videos from Wende Correctional Facility. Advocacy Video is an Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences class cotaught by Thomas Keenan, professor of comparative literature and director of the Human Rights Program, and Brent Green, visiting artist in residence. This is a Human Rights course crosslisted with Film and Electronic Arts. The four videos produced by students in fall 2020 are available on the Human Rights Program website.
As part of the College’s 11th Annual MLK Day of Engagement, more than 175 Bard students participated in workshops, action groups, a legal justice panel, and a conversation with civil rights pioneer Fred Gray.Bard College students, staff, and faculty celebrated the life of Martin Luther King Jr. with a weeklong series of campus events and virtual activities with community partners, culminating with the 11th annual MLK Day of Engagement. Beginning Tuesday, January 12, and continuing through Monday, January 18, Bard students participated in service projects, civic engagement workshops, a legal panel on “Pathways to Justice,” and a conversation with civil rights pioneer Fred Gray. Most participants were first-years on campus for Citizen Science; they were joined by 18 Upper College student leaders.
Bard’s MLK Day of Engagement events—organized by the Bard Center for Civic Engagement (Bard CCE), the Office of Sustainability, and the Citizen Science Program, in cooperation with local and national nonprofits—take place as part of the nationwide Day of Service that marks the King holiday. Volunteers around the country respond to Dr. King’s call, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”
“Despite the challenges of COVID, we were able to honor Dr. King’s legacy, which was summed up by MLK Day panelists who asked deep, reflective questions that invited all of us to ask ourselves, ‘Am I who I am meant to be in the world?’ An important question for all of us as we move into the coming year,” said Bard Vice President for Civic Engagement Erin Cannan.
Bard students and staff took part in a conversation on Black-owned businesses with Cynthia Herivaux, owner of Cyn’s Sweet Tooth in Poughkeepsie; wrote letters to students at Ramapo for Children, which serves children and young adults with learning differences and special needs in Rhinebeck; and participated in virtual workshops with local and national organizations, including The Library at the A. J. Williams-Myers African Roots Center in Kingston, which promotes literacy through teaching and learning about the African roots experience, and Braver Angels, a national citizens movement to reduce political polarization in the United States.
“Being able to contribute my ideas and voice to the development of MLK Day of Engagement this year was a very meaningful experience, especially seeing how excited and engaged everyone was with the events leading up to the big day,” said MLK Day of Engagement Fellow Tsitsi Mambo ’21. “I believe that the work done to get this program running and successful will have a big positive butterfly effect on Bard as a whole as students take everything that they learned with them into their own lives and contribute to making positive impacts in their communities.”
This year’s events were kicked off by two discussions: an engagement panel, “Pathways to Justice: The Courts,” on Saturday, January 16, featuring New York State Supreme Court Justice Debra James, Vassar College Professor Taneisha Means, and Honorable Judge Laura Taylor Swain of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and a conversation, on Tuesday, January, 12, between pioneering civil rights lawyer Fred Gray and attorney Douglas Mishkin. The late Congressman John Lewis called Gray, who represented Rosa Parks and Dr. King in the Montgomery Bus protests, one of “the Founding Fathers of modern America.”
As part of Bard’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Accord, MLK Day events included civic engagement workshops and discussions on climate action, recycling, and natural habitats, among other topics. Students participated in a workshop on citizen science data collection—a nationwide effort in which Bard and other colleges and organizations collect data on various projects and engage the American public in addressing societal needs and accelerating science, technology, and innovation.
Bard CCE Special Events Administrator and Outreach Coordinator Sarah deVeer ’17, who was involved with MLK Day of Engagement as an undergraduate, said she’s especially pleased to see how the initiative continues to evolve with the contributions of students and staff. She highlighted Assistant Dean Darnell Pierce introducing an MLK Day Hoodie Fundraiser for the Bard Student Emergency Fund and 2020 student fellows Mikalah Jenifer ’22 and Daniella Mingo ’21 introducing a civil rights trivia night and movie night.
“It’s an honor to be working behind the scenes now on a project that is such a pillar to the overall Bard first-year experience,” said deVeer.
Jenifer, who served as an MLK Day of Engagement fellow for the second time this year, talked about how MLK Day(s) are just a jumping off point for students’ continued engagement on campus and in the community.
“MLK Day of Engagement is a great way to introduce students to not only the many aspects of the Center for Civic Engagement but also all of the organizations that are doing amazing work within a few miles of Bard’s campus,” said Jenifer. “The CCE has opened so many doors for me personally, and I hope that students can find ways to create the change that they want to see on campus and in their community by utilizing CCE’s knowledge, ties with the community, and overall support of its students in the their various endeavors.”
CEU's Summer University is inviting applications for its 2021 online summer courses.The deadline for applications is March 22, 2021.
CEU Summer University (SUN) is a program for advanced undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, junior faculty, as well as professionals, policymakers and civil society activists, who wish to enhance their knowledge in a variety of areas across the social sciences and humanities, gain applied skills, and build interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral global networks. The courses, offered online during June and July, are taught by international teams of scholars and practitioners and rely on CEU’s state-of-the-art academic resources.
The CEU Summer University program offers a platform for debate and collaboration across the sectors of education, policy, practice and activism, and builds stronger and more active linkages at the peer and institutional level.
Faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, research associates, and staff are encouraged to apply.
The Bard Prison Initiative and its students and alumni/ae have helped change the national landscape for incarcerated students. In December, Congress restored Pell Grant access for people in prison. The decision came after nearly three decades of advocacy by students, families, prison reform groups, and educational institutions, including BPI. The stories of BPI students and graduates, recently amplified by the PBS documentary College Behind Bars, have helped sway public opinion and national policy. “Since the ’94 [Crime] Bill, restoration of Pell eligibility in prison has been the North Star for our field,” said BPI executive director Max Kenner ’01 in a letter to supporters. “The new legislation restores the possibility of college-in-prison nationally. It is a victory decades in the making.”
This article from the Chronicle of Higher Education covers the response to the new legislation, which could make nearly half a million people in prison eligible for the need-based education grants. Even as BPI and its partners in the field celebrated the victory, leaders advised caution. Quality will be crucial as new prison education programs roll out to meet demand, said Kenner. “This isn’t a space for colleges to be profiteering in. It is a space where they can engage students and communities they have historically neglected.”
During Fall 2020, the Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences courses also collaborated with network and common courses across the Open Society University Network of which Bard College is a co-founder. One of these moments of collaboration was the OSUN Visual Storytelling workshop led by Adam Stepan and Sean Steinberg.
This workshop connected Bard Annandale students to a network of colleges such as Bard College Berlin and American University of Central Asia in Bishkek to create videos that advocate for human rights, disability awareness, marginalized communities, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Students learned how to use lighting, sound design, cameras, tripods, and editing tools to construct a narrative important to their own work both within and beyond the classroom.
This workshop was co-facilitated by Tom Keenan (Bard Annandale), Kerry Bystrom (Bard College Berlin), Jana Lozanoska (Al-Quds Bard College), and Saniya Toktogazieva (American University of Central Asia).
One of the projects highlighted in this workshop is the series Where is Rahile Dawut? created by students in the Human Rights Advocacy course taught by Tom Kennan at Bard College. This course created numerous campaigns to advocate for the release of Uyghur scholar, Rahile Dawut. Earlier this month, Dawut was named the first OSUN Honorary Professor in the Humanities.
Uyghur Scholar Rahile Dawut Named First OSUN Honorary Professor in the Humanities >>
HR 105 Human Rights Advocacy: spotlight on Uyghur scholar Rahile Dawut >>
This semester, students in the ELAS course Environmental Justice: Art, Science, and Radical Cartography taught by Eli Dueker and Krista Caballero utilized multimedia skills to create maps of regions that are part of where they identify as home. These maps depicted changes to the environment, policies, or natural events that influenced those changes, and/or the presence of environmental racism through historical analysis.
Learn more about Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences courses >>
In collaboration with the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal Historic Preservation Office, students in the ELAS course Ancient Peoples before the Bard Lands: Archaeological Methods and Theory created a videography to demonstrate archaeological field methods and how their findings may help bridge conversations with the Indigenous communities whose homelands Bard now resides.
The ‘Forest Site,” which is located near Bard College's baseball field, contains evidence of fire pits, flint tools, and pottery that indicate a presence of Indigenous ancestry and an opportunity to connect with a group that has since been forcefully removed to Wisconsin.
Last week, this project was featured on Homelands History Talk Series: Forest Site at Bard College. During this webinar, Ancient Peoples before the Bard Lands: Archaeological Methods and Theory professor Christopher Lindner discussed this course as well as the process of making this project.
“That could be me.” Bard alumnus Dariel Vasquez ’17, cofounder and executive director of Brothers@, never felt welcome at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, even though he grew up in nearby Harlem. His first visit to the Met was on a Bard class trip for a Northern Renaissance Art course with Teju Cole. Seeing the confidence and enthusiasm of Professor Cole, a fellow Black man, at the front of the class transformed the discomfort he felt into a sense of belonging. Vasquez was interviewed for the Met’s 150th anniversary “Met Stories” series.
Throughout the semester, the Science and Identity course taught by Kristin Lane has applied psychology research methods to design their own experiments and interpret the results. Students addressed issues such as the presence of biases in the STEM field and its audience, and the emotional response of loneliness during a pandemic and a correlated rise in playing video games.
Learn more about Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences courses >>
As one of the math-specific ELAS courses, Puzzles and Games taught by Lauren Rose approaches mathematical concepts and formulas interactively by analyzing and designing math games. Along the way, students are also teaching math games strategies to their peers and young participants as part of the MAGPIES (Math and girls plus inspiration equals success) group.
Learn more about Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences courses >>
Throughout the semester, students in Print II: Silkscreen/Stencil taught by Beka Goedde have been developing silk-screening techniques to create vibrant designs that advocate for social action.
As part of their final project, students have designed graphics and stencils for Rise Up Kingston to address criminal justice, decoupling police from the idea of safety, and investing in community organizations.
To see the designs for Rise Up Kingston:
Learn more about Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences courses >>
Featured here are students from Cathy Collins' Plant Ecology, an ELAS course where students applied their classroom knowledge to make creative projects that would be shared with kids from Kingston schools, the YMCA, and Bard's own outdoor air club at Montgomery Place. By using a tutorial model geared toward teaching young children, the students from Plant Ecology were able to strengthen their own understanding of a topic in a way that is translatable, fun, and engaging.
Instructional Videos for Teachers:Growing Toward Light
Lavender Hand Scrub
Yam Witch Craft Project
Students from Myra Armstead's The Past in the Present ELAS course created a dramatic analysis of a document most people might consider boring: the U.S. census. "Who Counts?" is a collaborative performance of students from various educational backgrounds and majors working together with information derived from individual research and the input of community members and officials from Dutchess County.
In Student as Citizen taught by Jonathan Becker and Erin Cannan, students researched and engaged with local, state, and national politics by combining active assignments with experiential learning. They were then tasked to coordinate these skills and create a project proposal that addresses an issue with actionable solutions. One of these students, Riley Cerabona ‘23 would go on to present her work to the Red Hook Town Board urging for stronger ADA Compliance in the Village of Red Hook. Read on below...
Bringing all Red Hook businesses into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should be a top priority, a disabled Bard College student tonight told the Town Board. And Town Supervisor Robert McKeon promptly said he would reach out to experts to see how the Town Board can assist Village commercial property owners to make ADA compliance a higher priority.
“We’re really looking good in terms of our municipal assets,” McKeon said, noting improvements to sidewalks, the Town Hall campus, and the Rec Park fields and playground. “But your recommendations are well-timed. We have a long way to go in some of our commercial spaces.”
Read the rest of the article on imby.com >>
The Chamber Foundation Inc. and the Women’s Leadership Alliance of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce have named Cammie Jones, Bard associate dean of experiential learning and civic engagement, a 2020 ATHENA honoree. The ATHENA award honors those who strive toward the highest levels of professional accomplishment by excelling in their chosen profession, devoting time and energy to their community in meaningful ways, and actively guiding or mentoring women to become great leaders.
“The ATHENA Award honors individuals in the community who are making an impact in the lives of women both personally and professionally, and I'm beyond humbled and honored to join such a phenomenal global group of women leaders,” said Jones. “I truly thank all of the women who stand by me, especially the numerous BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities who continuously make an impact in my life and the communities in which we live. Congratulations to all of the honorees!”
Written by Elena Thompson ‘23
In January 2020, Bard College President Botstein announced, by an email to the campus community, that Bard College had co-founded the Open Society University Network (OSUN) together with the Central European University (CEU). In his email he explained that this new organization would reflect “key elements of Bard College’s unique educational programs and innovations.” However, there was little information about how this would affect students studying on the Bard Annandale campus. Ten months later, much has changed.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students who would normally attend classes in person on the Annandale campus are now scattered throughout the United States and the world and are taking classes remotely. Bard’s participation in OSUN has allowed the college to adapt quickly and effectively. Bard students have benefitted from the innovative online work of OSUN, from virtual guest lectures and workshops, to opportunities to participate in engaging classes with students across the globe.
But how does Bard fit into the Open Society University Network? OSUN has emerged as a result of more than a decade of discussions between Bard, CEU, and the Open Society Foundations. Bard plays a crucial role, with the OSUN network building upon the foundation of Bard’s international network of partner institutions. President Botstein serves as the Chancellor of OSUN, and the Center for Civic Engagement at Bard is the main hub of OSUN’s secretariat. This means that Bard College, and the CCE specifically, manage many of OSUN’s programs.
Bard students, both in Annandale campus and studying remotely, have many opportunities to participate in OSUN’s programs. For example, the Get Engaged Conference is held annually, and allows student leaders within OSUN institutions to engage with one another and develop community leadership skills. Lecture series, such as the popular Protests in Perspective series, also allow students to dynamically engage with current events and gain new perspectives. Because of OSUN’s international quality, students have had the opportunity to hear from experts in countries where protest movements are currently taking place, such as Belarus and Kyrgyzstan. Bard students also have the opportunity to take part in ‘international classrooms.’ This has been especially beneficial during the COVID pandemic, with students from around the world able to offer differing perspectives on how the pandemic is affecting them and their home country.
There is much more to come with OSUN. New and innovative graduate programs are being developed, such as an M.A. in Human Rights and the Arts. This program will start in Fall 2021, and will be led by Tania El Khoury and Ziad Abu-Rish. El Khoury and Abu-Rish will also teach in the undergraduate program, allowing Bard undergraduate students to participate in this groundbreaking new curriculum. Once it is safe to travel again, there will be more opportunities for international exchange. Bard students will be able to travel to partner institutions, as well as share the Annandale campus with students from new partner institutions.
So, how can Bard students, both on and off campus, get involved? They can register for OSUN-sponsored classes, participate in the multitude of conferences and contests held by OSUN, and much more. However, they can also engage by reaching out to the CCE, and letting them know what is important to them. Jonathan Becker, Bard’s executive vice president and the vice-chancellor of OSUN, believes students play a crucial role in navigating OSUN through the dramatic shift from COVID-19, saying that student’s feedback will allow OSUN to “unpack in the COVID era.” To learn more, visit the OSUN website.
By Nily Rozic and Jonathan Becker
College should be the most transformative years in a student’s life. But now, in addition to mastering remote learning in the midst of a global pandemic, students have had to try to figure out how to make their ballots count this fall.
Evidence has shown that while young voters historically vote at lower rates, their interest in voting has grown overwhelmingly in the last several years. Youth voting grew significantly during the 2018 midterms and in this year’s election, early voting suggests that there appears to be record youth voting, through it will still lag behind other age groups.
However, even without a global pandemic, voting as a college student can be tough. Every November, a significant portion of our state’s population is excluded from voting simply because they live too far away from their polling site. Poll sites are often too inaccessible or too far from campus with limited public transportation to get there. According to a survey by Tufts University’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning, nearly 20 percent of youth with college experience cited a lack of transportation as a reason for not voting in 2016.
Read the full story on TimesUnion.com >>
The coronavirus pandemic and new requirements in Republican-led states created voting obstacles for college students this year. Yet youth participation appears to be on the rise: “At Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., students and the school sued in September to get a polling site on campus; the closest place to vote was at a church located down a dirt road in the nearby town of Red Hook. A New York State Supreme Court judge originally denied their petition, citing a Republican member of the Dutchess County Board of Elections who said it was too close to the election to change polling locations. Yet the very next day, the board moved two other polling sites in Red Hook.
“On Friday, the judge reversed her decision and ordered the polling site to be moved to Bard’s main student center.
“‘For the first time on this campus,’” said Sadia Saba, 21, a senior who was a plaintiff in the case, ‘students feel like their voices are being heard in the political process.’”
The new Bard College voting site will be open to all Town of Red Hook District 5 voters on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, after the Dutchess County Board of Elections withdrew its appeal to the Appellate Court. In addition to confirming the Bard College voting site, a compromise will allow the existing voting site at Church of St. John’s to also operate for the 2020 election.
“Judge Rosa’s order moving the District 5 voting site to Bard is a wonderful victory for student voters and all voters of the district, including those with disabilities,” said Jonathan Becker, executive vice president of Bard. “Our original petition to the Supreme Court asked for a polling site at Bard instead of, or in addition to, the Church, and that is what we have achieved,” he said. “The decision is a blow to student voter suppression, which has taken place in Dutchess County for decades. It is a great lesson for our students about the importance of persistence and the rule of law. Now they will have to learn how to safeguard victories.”
See On-Campus Voting FAQs for Election 2020
“The Election@Bard Team is so proud of the generations of student leaders who have worked to secure this polling place for the Bard community,” said Kathy Gaweda ’21, director of Election@Bard. “We are so excited that on Election Day students and on-campus faculty can vote safely on our very own campus thanks to the efforts off the Andrew Goodman Foundation, the entire Election@Bard Team, the plaintiffs in the case, and our fantastic legal team.”
“The court's decision to move the polling place to Bard College's campus is a move to listen to years of demands from young voters,” said Sadia Saba, a Bard College senior and plaintiff in the lawsuit. “Young voters, especially first-time voters, are historically disadvantaged by the political system, so this polling place is just one step to mitigating voter suppression in this county. Bard students are thrilled to get out the vote, and we are so excited to have our voices heard in this upcoming election!”
The voting site at Bard, in the Bertelsmann Campus Center, will be open to all District 5 voters from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday Nov. 3. New signs are posted at the College’s entrances and along Annandale Rd. welcoming voters and directing them to the Campus Center and parking in North Ravine Rd. parking lot. Voters are expected to follow COVID safety protocols, as they are at all polling sites. Bard Security, campus personnel, and volunteers will be available throughout the day to assist voters and poll workers.
“This court victory and settlement demonstrates that students are a powerful force in our democracy. The opening of a new polling location on the Bard College campus redresses two decades of student voter suppression in Dutchess County. Students and community members can finally rest assured that they have access to a safe, accessible, and ADA-compliant polling location. A healthy democracy requires participation from all citizens, especially younger voters whose future is most impacted in this election,” explained Yael Bromberg, Esq. Chief Counsel for Voting Rights at The Andrew Goodman Foundation. “As we’re witnessing at polling sites all over New York, people are energized to vote and are willing to endure long longs to ensure that their voice is heard this election season. I want to thank our partners at Bard College — President Leon Botstein, Executive Vice President Jonathan Becker, Vice President Erin Cannan, Andrew Goodman Campus Champion Sarah deVeer, and generations of Bard students and Andrew Goodman Student Ambassadors including but not limited to Sadia Saba, Ava Mazzye, Kathy Gaweda, Eva Quinones, and Jonian Rafti—for their commitment to ensuring every voter in District 5 has fair and equal access to the ballot box.”
“Students nationwide are excited and motivated about exercising their right to vote,“ Becker added. “We’re proud that Bard students have set an example for others that persistence in advancing student voting rights through the legal system, even in the face of widespread voter suppression, can succeed in gaining equal access. We thank our colleagues at the Andrew Goodman Foundation, Venable LLP, Bromberg Law LLC, and Caring Majority Rising for their support and congratulate all of the Bard students who have worked tirelessly on behalf of student voting rights.”
#About Bard College
Founded in 1860, Bard College is a four-year residential college of the liberal arts and sciences located 90 miles north of New York City. With the addition of the Montgomery Place estate, Bard’s campus consists of nearly 1,000 parklike acres in the Hudson River Valley. It offers bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of music degrees, with majors in nearly 40 academic programs; graduate degrees in 11 programs; eight early colleges; and numerous dual-degree programs nationally and internationally. Building on its 160-year history as a competitive and innovative undergraduate institution, Bard College has expanded its mission as a private institution acting in the public interest across the country and around the world to meet broader student needs and increase access to liberal arts education. The undergraduate program at our main campus in upstate New York has a reputation for scholarly excellence, a focus on the arts, and civic engagement. Bard is committed to enriching culture, public life, and democratic discourse by training tomorrow’s thought leaders. For more information about Bard College, visit bard.edu.
About The Andrew Goodman Foundation
The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s mission is to make young voices and votes a powerful force in democracy by training the next generation of leaders, engaging young voters, and challenging restrictive voter suppression laws. The Foundation’s Vote Everywhere program partners with America’s colleges and universities to provide resources, visibility, and mentoring to a national network of student leaders who involve their peers in participatory democracy through long-term voter engagement, public policy, and social justice initiatives. The organization is named after Andrew Goodman, a 20-year old Freedom Summer volunteer, and champion of equality and voting rights who was murdered by the KKK in 1964 while registering Black Americans to vote in Mississippi. For more information visit www.andrewgoodman.org.
Judge Maria Rosa on Friday ordered the Town of Red Hook’s District 5 polling site moved from the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist to Bard College’s Bertelsmann Campus Center, in response to concerns voters would not be able to adequately social distance at the church.
Learn more about the fight for a polling place
Press Conference (October 22)
Appeal of Judge's Decision (October 15)
WAMC Interview: Judge Rules Against Moving Polling Site to Bard College (October 15)
Judge's Decision (October 13)
Election@Bard, Andrew Goodman Foundation, and Bard College President File Voter Suppression Lawsuit (September 5)
Red Hook Town Board Votes for On-Campus Polling Place (August 26)
Campus Voting Site Will Be Open to All District 5 Voters on Election DayRuling Comes after More Than Two Decades of Bard Students Fighting for the Right to Vote and to Do So in a Fair and Equitable Manner
On Friday, October 23, Dutchess County Supreme Court Judge Maria Rosa ordered the Town of Red Hook’s District 5 polling site moved from St. John the Evangelist Church to the Bard College campus. The ruling came in response to a motion for reconsideration following a court filing by student and staff plaintiffs at Bard and the Andrew Goodman Foundation.
“This is a great victory for youth voters on the 50th anniversary of the 26th amendment, which reset the voting age to 18. It’s also a victory for all voters and poll workers in the district, who will be able to vote and work safely on November 3,” said Jonathan Becker, executive vice president of Bard.
The petition turned on the safety and accessibility of the existing polling site, which was small, did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, could not be adapted for COVID-19 safety, and was largely inaccessible to the 70% of District 5 voters who reside on or near Bard College.
The College’s focus on safety during the pandemic offers an advantage for voters in District 5. The campus will be accessible to all voters in the district on Election Day, and the campus will apply its safety protocols as it has throughout the year. “It is important to underline that the Bard campus is and has remained open for essential civic activities, including voting,” said Becker. “Our Campus Center is a discrete facility and voters will use a designated entrance, adjacent to handicap parking, that will be for voters only. We will only have essential activities take place in the Campus Center on election day and Bard Security and volunteers from the Center for Civic Engagement will be on site to ensure that voters are guided to the correct location and are able to remain separate from the other activities on campus.”
“The Dutchess County Board of Elections has a twenty-year history of intentionally discriminating against student voters. So much so, that the Board is willing to put voters’ and poll workers’ lives at risk by forcing District 5 to vote in a location that itself acknowledges that it is unsafe due to the pandemic,” remarked Yael Bromberg, Chief Counsel for Voting Rights with The Andrew Goodman Foundation and co-counsel on the brief. “On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment, which outlaws age discrimination in access to the ballot, and on the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the BOE’s actions necessarily remind us that we must vigilantly protect the fundamental right to vote. I commend the generations of Bard College students who paved the way for this win. We stand alongside them in protecting the future that they will inherit.”
The ruling comes after more than two decades of Bard students fighting for the right to vote and to do so in a fair and equitable manner. “We hope this is the last chapter in the history of efforts to suppress student voters at Bard. We are also reminded of the travails that voters across the country face as officials and political parties attempt to impede citizens from exercising the most central of their rights,” Becker said. “We thank our colleagues at the Andrew Goodman Foundation, Venable LLP, and Bromberg Law LLC for their support and congratulate all of the Bard students who have worked tirelessly on behalf of student voting rights.”
To the Bard Community,
As one of the plaintiffs in the College’s recent lawsuit seeking to move the District 5 voting site to a location safer and more accessible to all voters—to the Bard campus—I write today to inform the community that our case was not successful. The judge ruled against us, not on the merits of our core argument, but on the contention made by the Board of Elections that there is not enough time to alert voters properly before the November 3 election. Within 24 hours of the ruling, however, the BOE contradicted its own claim, on which their legal challenge to us was based, by moving two other polling sites in Red Hook.
Our contention is that the current voting site is antiquated, inaccessible, and too small, particularly during the time of COVID-19. We are grateful to St. John’s for the many years it provided the site for voting and agree with church leaders that it is unsafe for the upcoming elections. But the community has outgrown the facility. Furthermore, the BOE has consistently violated the voting rights of Bard students. Although we have lost this round, we have appealed and will fight the decision. If we are not successful this year, we will continue to challenge the decision until we are successful.
I believe the court’s ruling and the BOE actions are based on partisan politics. Their public posture has nothing to do with providing equitable access to voting. It is truly disheartening to see those who control the local voting process disparage the motivation of first-time and young voters. They seek to discourage the next generation of citizens from participating in the essential democratic process of voting. Instead, the BOE, the courts, and all of us should engage and encourage all members of our community by making it safe and convenient for every registered voter, including the young and the elderly, to cast a ballot.
I will update the community further when our appeal is heard and the case moves forward.
Bard has appealed to the Supreme Court to reconsider the decision rejecting the proposed move of the District 5 polling site to the Bard campus. The primary basis is that, after claiming that moving a polling site would harm voters, an argument Judge Maria Rosa ultimately endorsed, Election Commissioner Haight approved the moving of two polling sites in Red Hook, less than 24 hours after the judge’s decision.
Jonathan Becker, Executive Vice President of Bard College, spoke with WAMC Northeast Public Radio about Bard's appeal, and why the refusal to move the polling site to Bard College is a form of voter suppression, targeting youth voters.
Read the Interview
Appeal of Judge's decision Oct. 15 >>
Judge's Decision Oct 13 >>
WAMC Interviedw: Judge Rules Against Moving Polling Site To Bard College >>
Election@Bard, Andrew Goodman Foundation, and Bard College President File Voter Suppression Lawsuit. >>
Red Hook Town Board Votes for On-Campus Polling Place. >>
The Open Society University Network (OSUN)—led by Bard College and Central European University with support from the Open Society Foundations—has been elected as cochair of the Taskforce on Third Country Education Pathways, launched by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR).
OSUN will cochair the taskforce with The World University Service of Canada, leading representatives from the Japan ICU Foundation, the Government of Portugal, Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, the Government of Canada, Unione delle Università del Mediterraneo, and the Institute of International Education, among others.
The task force is charged with developing best practices for higher education pathways that respond to the needs of refugees, internally displaced individuals, and others displaced by crises, as well as leading the development of advocacy strategies to ensure access and the establishment of minimum standards for institutions seeking to host students.
Dr. Rebecca Granato, associate vice president for global initiatives at Bard College, will represent OSUN. “I look forward to this work as part of our wider mission to develop the OSUN Microcolleges for Connected Learning Initiatives for displaced and host-community learners.”
Learn more about the work of the taskforce in the UNHCR Doubling Our Impact Report.
Center for Civic Engagement Director Jonathan Becker and Election@Bard Team Leader Kathy Gaweda ’21 Discuss the College's Lawsuit Against the Dutchess County Board of Elections“Our essential claim is that the space on campus, which is 2,200 square feet, is far safer than the current polling site, which is approximately 700 square feet,” said Becker. “Now, we don’t only think this. The Town Board of Red Hook has asked the Board of Elections to move the polling site, and even the church, which hosts the polling site, has said that they do not believe that their site is safe.”
Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United StatesMariel Fiori ’05 and Emily Schmall ’05 cofounded La Voz magazine in 2004 as a Trustee Leader Scholar (TLS) project when they were both students. “We started this very tiny thing,” says Fiori, the longstanding managing editor, “that we wanted a newsletter in Spanish for the Spanish speaking community, and there wasn’t much around—actually, there was nothing in Spanish at that point.” Today, the magazine is distributed to 150,000 readers in eight counties in the Hudson Valley, offering important news to Spanish speakers and giving a voice to the region’s Latinx community. Laura Perez, a Bard student writer for La Voz who is originally from Venezuela, says the magazine gave her a sense of belonging. "When I arrived to Bard, I didn’t know anyone," said Perez. "The first thing I saw that reminded me of my country was the magazine La Voz in the campus center.”
LEAD GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT FELLOW
Al-Quds Bard College—Palestine
Junior in International Law and Human Rights
As a the Lead Global Fellow, I strive to attract students to contribute productively and meaningfully to their community by assisting them in incorporating their skills, visions and experiences figuratively and literally to lead civic engagement projects, which will contribute to the excessive growth of their community in concrete-based results.
The Emmy-nominated PBS series College Behind Bars, which follows Bard Prison Initiative students and alumni/ae, has upended misconceptions about people in prison, who they are and what they can achieve. Director Lynn Novick and Jule Hall ’11—a BPI alumnus and Ford Foundation program associate who is featured in the film—discuss how politics and the pandemic are affecting students in prison.
by Jessie Floyd '21
Last fall, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Quito, Ecuador through the Pitzer Ecuador program. A key component of the program was learning from a community service project. At Bard, I am a Spanish Major with a Concentration in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Because of what I’m studying at Bard and my desire to learn about gender activism and transfeminism in a context other than the American one, I chose to volunteer for Proyecto Transgénero.
I learned that Proyecto Transgénero is a transfeminist organization that works with many different projects, each with the mission of dismantling systems of gender oppression and gender violence. The principal projects I worked with were “la Vitrina No binaria” (The Non-binary showcase), “el Sindicato de Trabajadores Sexuales” (The Sexworkers Union), “la Marcha de las Putas” (the SlutWalk Ecuador), and “la Fraternidad Transmasculina” (The Transmasculine Fraternity). More specifically, I began the process of conducting and translating interviews with non-binary people so they could share their stories about and thoughts on gender. I also helped plan la Marcha de las Putas and organized, attended, and then ran Putalleres (slut workshops). The workshops were transfeminist conversations with people who had all different types of life experiences but shared a common frustration with oppressive gender systems in Ecuador and beyond.
As part of the Pitzer Ecuador program, we were required to do an independent study and I decided to look into the question: “What does gender mean in Ecuador?”. My work involved eight lengthy interviews of people I had met through Proyecto Transgénero and in my daily life. I was very aware that I was just scratching the surface. Gender systems and gender identity are personally and socially complex. However, what I did learn definitely changed the way that I think through gender and the way that I wanted to go about studying it. Personally, I am a queer woman who has had traumatic experiences with sexual assault and sexual harassment. Until working with Proyecto Transgénero, specifically the founders Eli and Ana and activist Fabian, I had not been a part of an honest, empowering, intersectional, and authentic gender-based group. I left Ecuador with a deeper understanding of gender norms and gender bias’s connection to colonial history and colonial legacy as well as a passion for listening to others and sharing my own story.
I decided to do my Senior Project for Bard as a continuation of the project I had done on gender last fall. I also grew excited about the possibility of interning with Proyecto Transgénero this summer to learn more for my SPROJ and to help the organization with fundraising and international outreach. Given the organization’s flexibility and reliance on frequent communication via WhatsApp, I felt confident that my work could be done remotely if need be. I have not been disappointed. My weekly schedule since early July has included weekly Zoom meetings with Maria Laura, my supervisor, with her in Ecuador and me in New York, and frequent updates in our WhatsApp group chat. Recently, I’ve been working on translating the language of a GoFundMe that will raise money to help Proyecto Transgénero deliver groceries to transwomen from the Sindicato de Trabajadores Sexuales since they cannot work safely during the COVID-19 crisis. I’ve also been working on editing the video clips of the interviews I have from last fall that I wasn’t able to complete before returning to the United States. This editing has taken a significant amount of time as I learn how to use new software and transcribe quotes in my second language. In future weeks, I will be working with Maria Laura to create a proposal for virtual transfeminist workshops that might be able to stand in place of this year’s Marcha de las Putas.
I have been honored and excited to work with Proyecto Transgénero this summer. It has been wonderful to be doing something that I feel so passionately about, especially given the challenges of feeling hopeful in 2020. If you would like to support Puente Solidario (Bridge of Solidarity), an initiative run by Proyecto Transgénero to donate food and supplies to the trans community in Quito, see below.
The Andrew Goodman Foundation (AGF) along with the President and students from Bard College filed a lawsuit against the Dutchess County Board of Elections for violating the voting rights of students. The lawsuit, filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Dutchess County, follows yearslong efforts by Bard students to establish an on-campus polling location.
The Bard College community comprises the overwhelming majority of the district’s eligible voting population at nearly 70 percent. Moreover, the current polling site is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and related New York State Law. It is inaccessible by public transportation in clear violation of New York State Election Law, which requires that polling places are situated on public transit routes. Additionally, the current polling location is a 3-mile round trip from the Bard campus on an unsafe route that lacks sidewalks and adequate street lighting. The route creates a significant hardship for voters with disabilities and the majority of students who don’t have cars. The lawsuit challenges the ongoing failure of the Dutchess County Board of Elections to comply with the New York Constitution and state laws by refusing to open a polling location on the Bard College campus.
“I am grateful to our friends at St. Johns for hosting a polling station in the church, but we now face unprecedented times that demand sustainable solutions,” said Bard College President Leon Botstein. “Not only does the Bard community constitute a large percentage of District 5 residents of voting age, but we can accommodate the social distancing demands of COVID-19, indoors and out of inclement weather, and provide a safer and more accessible alternative for everyone at the polling place.”
“The narrative that we keep hearing is that students don’t vote and are not civically engaged, but this notion does not hold up when you consider that nearly 85 percent of Bard students are registered to vote. The reality is that students continue to face intentional barriers to voting. Even in what is considered a ‘blue state,’ students must contend with ongoing voter suppression, which demonstrates how widespread this problem is,” remarked Alexandria Harris, Executive Director of The Andrew Goodman Foundation. “Across the country student voting rights are under assault. As student voter participation increases, so do efforts to restrict their access to the ballot box. This is why The Andrew Goodman Foundation will continue to stand with students and vigorously defend their constitutional right to vote.”
“The longstanding efforts by the Dutchess County Board of Elections to suppress student voting, which continues today with their refusal to move the polling site, has been wrong from the start. Now in the COVID era it is also dangerous,” said Jonathan Becker, Bard’s Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “The current site’s lack of sidewalks, inaccessibility by public transport, failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and, most importantly, its inadequate space for social distancing, makes it both unsuitable as a voting site and a danger to voters and poll workers. It is unfortunate that the Board of Elections continues its efforts to suppress student voting and in doing so, endangers the safety of the voters of District 5.”
“Fifty years ago, this nation came together across partisan lines to support the expansion of the ballot free of age discrimination through the ratification of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment,” said Yael Bromberg, Chief Counsel for Voting Rights at The Andrew Goodman Foundation. “The principles that drove the foundation of that Amendment continue to be true today: young people are critical to the practice of democracy. We must remove obstacles to the ballot—and that includes bringing polling places on campus. The Dutchess County Board of Elections has made its intentions clear: it simply does not want Bard College students to vote—counter to the values of our democracy, which are beyond partisanship.”
This is the fourth instance since 2000 where Bard students have resorted to litigation or the threat thereof over schemes aimed at limiting their voting rights. The courts ruled in favor of the students in all preceding legal actions. The current lawsuit follows years of advocacy by Bard College Andrew Goodman Student Ambassadors and their peers for an on-campus polling site. Despite support from the Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner, the Republican Commissioner has denied two timely requests to relocate the polling place, thereby prompting the current lawsuit.
The lawsuit is brought on behalf of Andrew Goodman Student Ambassador Sadia Saba; Bard College President Leon Botstein; Bard College Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Civic Engagement Erin Cannan; Election@Bard; and The Andrew Goodman Foundation.
Counsel on the lawsuit are Yael Bromberg, Chief Counsel for Voting Rights for The Andrew Goodman Foundation and Principal of Bromberg Law LLC, and Michael Volpe, Joshua Rothman, Hilary Atzrott, Megan Hynes, and John Walsh of Venable LLP.
Learn more about Election@Bard
Read Lawsuit (PDF)
About The Andrew Goodman Foundation
The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s mission is to make young voices and votes a powerful force in democracy by training the next generation of leaders, engaging young voters, and challenging restrictive voter suppression laws. The Foundation's Vote Everywhere program partners with America's colleges and universities to provide resources, visibility, and mentoring to a national network of student leaders who involve their peers in participatory democracy through long-term voter engagement, public policy, and social justice initiatives. The organization is named after Andrew Goodman, a 20-year old Freedom Summer volunteer, and champion of equality and voting rights who was murdered by the KKK in 1964 while registering African Americans to vote in Mississippi. For more information about The Andrew Goodman Foundation visit andrewgoodman.org.
About Bard College
Founded in 1860, Bard College is a 4-year residential college of the liberal arts and sciences located 90 miles north of New York City. Bard’s campus consists of nearly 1000 park-like acres in the Hudson River Valley. It offers bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of music degrees, with majors in nearly 40 academic programs; graduate degrees in 11 programs; nine early colleges; and numerous dual-degree programs nationally and internationally. Building on its 160-year history as a competitive and innovative undergraduate institution, Bard College has expanded its mission as a private institution acting in the public interest across the country and around the world to meet broader student needs and increase access to liberal education. Bard is known for its academic excellence and emphasis on the arts and civic engagement, and is committed to enriching culture, public life, and democratic discourse by training tomorrow’s thought leaders. For more information about Bard College, visit bard.edu.
The article highlights Bard as one of only nine colleges to achieve a voter registration rate topping 85 percent, acknowledging Bard’s longstanding commitment to civic engagement and the work of Election@Bard, an initiative that facilitates voter registration for students, provides information about candidates, hosts candidates forums, and protects the rights of students to vote and have their votes counted.
Bard at Brooklyn Public Library microcollege student and artist Russell Craig ’22 has installed a mural honoring the Black Lives Matter movement at the entrance of the Philadelphia Municipal Services building. The mural, called Crown, is just steps from where the statue of controversial former Mayor Frank Rizzo once stood, and the site of large protests in late spring demanding the city remove the statue, which it did in June.
“Although Kingston's air quality is, for the most part, doing well, we know that increased traffic, train activity, wood burning, and household heating systems can contribute to short-term air quality issues and long-term health issues if not appropriately managed,” said Eli Dueker, director of the Center for the Study of Land, Air, & Water, which partnered with the City of Kingston’s Conservation Advisory Council’s Air Quality Sub-Committee to form the Kingston Air Quality Initiative. “This research addresses what Kingston needs to be able to meet its sustainability goals long-term.”
The Engaged Citizenship course with Kseniya Shtalenkova and Chrys Margaritidis covered a variety of engagement opportunities, including arts engagement during Covid-19.
Ksenyia Shtalenkova states:
"The field of arts and civic engagement is not yet a scholarly trend although its social impact and academic potential highlight a very productive heuristic perspective both for interdisciplinary research and social participation. Engaging art forms like political poster design, urban art festivals and documentary theatre are possible ways to engage society in various aspects such as supporting vulnerable groups, raising political awareness, creating inclusive platforms, recovering historical memory and increasing cultural relations and exchange. Within the Engaged Citizenship Summer Class, we've been discussing with the students among other topics relevant cases of arts and civic engagement in global and local contexts, especially referring to the cases of arts and political participation and the Covid-19 challenges for engaging art activities, 'A Dinner on Zoom' by Richard Nelson among them. In their own final presentations, the students in turn reflected on the political impact of visual art in Afghanistan and political performance in Hungary and Russia."
To see a snippet of Shtalenkova's presentation on arts engagement during Covid-19, head to @BardCCE on Instagram! And find the presentation resources included below:
During Bard College's one hundred sixtieth commencement, the John Dewey Award for Distinguished Public Service was awarded to Nicholas Ascienzo, longtime friend and supporter of CCE, and founder of the Ascienzo Family Foundation.
Nick Ascienzo has dedicated his life to serving the Red Hook, New York, schools; the Hudson Valley; and people across the United States. He is the definitive example of community minded and engaged.
Ascienzo grew up in nearby Kingston and began teaching in the Red Hook Central School District after graduating from the State University of New York at Albany, where he majored in mathematics and was named a SUNY Albany Hall of Fame athlete in baseball. For the next forty-two years, he taught mathematics—seven years at the Linden Avenue Middle School, then more than three decades at Red Hook High School, where he ran the AP Calculus and IB Mathematics programs, and coached baseball and softball teams. He also worked at Dairy Queen, co-owning several franchises from 1979 to 2000.
At the high school, Ascienzo, or “Mr. A” as he is widely known to students, became one of the most admired members of the faculty, and also was a leader of the Red Hook Faculty Association.
Ascienzo further solidified his commitment to the community when he created the Ascienzo Family Foundation (AFF). Approaching retirement, he began pondering how to use the assets from his Dairy Queen franchises, and realized that his biggest assets were his students. He asked a handful of Red Hook High School students to help him create a foundation with a shared purpose and vision. These students became the AFF Board of Directors. The foundation was incorporated in 2015, the year before Ascienzo retired.
The Ascienzo Family Foundation focuses on poverty alleviation, educational opportunities for the underserved, and services for senior citizens. The programs it supports have ranged from the Red Hook Harvest Backpack Program, addressing food insecurity, to CultureConnect, providing after-school activities for English-language learners attending Red Hook schools. In response to COVID-19, the foundation played a central role in the development of Red Hook Responds, a community volunteer initiative that offers meals, assistance to senior citizens, and resources for local families during the pandemic.
The foundation has also supported programs in which Bard students are active, including MLK Day of Engagement activities and the annual Middle- and High School Debate Tournament at Bard. AFF was an early sponsor of Brothers at Bard, which runs a mentorship program for young men of color at Kingston High School, Ascienzo’s alma mater.
Ever the educator, Ascienzo has incorporated more than forty of his former high school students into the foundation as AFF Ambassadors, who play a central role in decision-making. “We learn as much from our students as they learn from us,” says Ascienzo. Through Ambassador Grants, AFF has expanded its reach, assisting such endeavors as the Sunflower Bakery in Maryland, which provides employment opportunities to adults with learning differences, and Crossroads Family Center, a homeless shelter in East Boston.
Teacher, coach, volunteer, and AFF founder, Ascienzo is a model for young people on how a committed citizen can make a difference. As one colleague stated, he “will go out of his way to see a need and fulfill it.”
The John Dewey Award for Distinguished Public Service was established in 1990 to recognize extraordinary contributions by Bard alumni/ae and others to the public sector or in the public interest. It continues Bard’s tradition of honoring public service embodied in the Episcopal Layman Award, which was given until 1983. The Dewey Award honors the eminent American philosopher and educator John Dewey, the father of progressive education and an outspoken advocate of a system of universal learning to support and advance this country’s democratic traditions.
Over the summer term, the Human Rights Advocacy: Scholars at Risk course collaborated with Scholars at Risk, an NGO based in New York City. Through this collaboration, the class worked as "the case-responsible entity for a scholar who is being persecuted for his/her ideas."
Specifically focused on the Uyghur scholars currently imprisoned in China, students created visual campaigns drawing attention to this issue. The featured image is these students’ call for transnational student solidarity on behalf of the Uyghur people being persecuted in Western China.
Human Rights Advocacy: Scholars at Risk was taught by Adam Braver of Roger Williams University and Esther Gallo of the University of Trento.
Created as part of Professor Peter Klein’s Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences course Hudson Valley Cities / Environmental (In)Justice, Galloway and Avery’s project distributes resource kits to high-volume homeless shelters in Kingston, as well as the community organization Beyond the 4 Walls Outreach Program. Not limited to masks, wipes, and PPE equipment, Thrive On! Kingston kits include other essentials such as soap, shaving kits, body wash, shampoo, reusable bags, water bottles, notebooks, pens, and blankets, among other items.
By Najwa Jamal ‘21
Welcome back returning students, and to our incoming first-year class, the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) would like to say hello! This summer edition of the Annandale Advocate, CCE’s student newsletter, is meant to shed light on the resilience and strength of the Bard community in the face of racial disparities and an expanding pandemic. As we enter the fall semester, let this edition be a reminder that we can handle the changing tides with the same passion and student drive we’ve always approached life at Bard.
What exactly does community mean during uncertain and divided times? As we write, faculty and staff are preparing to begin a new and wildly different L&T and fall semester. The Center for Civic Engagement is committed to building and maintaining community. We’re in this together as we all work to reinvigorate outlets for engagement amidst a pandemic, racial injustice, and a presidential election.
CCE Statement on Racism and Inequality
Read CCE’s statement on racial, social, and economic disparities across the nation, at Bard and in the communities where Bard and the Bard network operate. Read here.
Election@Bard is amongst one of our collaborators, with team leaders Kathy Gaweda’21 and Sadia Saba ‘21 working tirelessly on ways to keep the Bard voting community active and engaged. They are ‘transitioning in-person preparation into remote advocacy,’ says Gaweda. Saba shared plans in progress for this unique election year, including: online office hours for student questions, continued efforts to create an on campus polling site, and voter registration forms and FAQ slips in first year welcome packages. Learn more about Election@Bard here.
Center for Civic Engagement: Language & Thinking Events
The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) embodies the fundamental belief that education and civil society are inextricably linked. Join us for our L&T events and discover how to “Get Engaged.” For list of events and descriptions, see here. Note: these events are only for incoming first year Bard students.
By Anna Schupack ‘22
In the Engaged Citizenship course taught by Jonathan Becker, Erin Cannan and Brian Mateo, students from all over the world explored issues related to political participation, civil society, and social justice on both a local scale and a global scale. Through dialogue, reflections, and guest speakers; they heard from people from around the world about what it means to be a good citizen, what responsibility we have to our community, and how students can get involved and lead community organizing. Each student selected an area of focus and developed a "Civic Issue Research Paper" that framed a key policy or civic issue that impacts their local community. Topics included desegregating the NYC Public School System, addressing sexual violence in the school curriculum of Bangladesh and sustainable transportation in Maryland.
The 17 students in this course were from across the globe. This course included students from Ashesi University in Ghana; BRAC University in Bangladesh; Smolny College in St. Petersburg; American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan; the Bard early colleges at Simon’s Rock, New Orleans, and New York City; and Bard Annandale. The diversity of views and experiences that the online platform allowed them to have fostered rich dialogue and reflection.
A student commented, “the online connection that was made from students across the globe taught me more about the activities around the world more than any class would. I cannot encourage students to engage in these classes enough, as they are so helpful in understanding the topics through multiple lenses.”
By Emily Costello ‘23
When COVID-19 hit close to home, many individuals, organizations, and communities shifted their focus to surviving through the pandemic. Two creative and forward thinking Bard students, Keyvious Avery ‘21 and Aidan Galloway ‘21 knew they wanted to do more than just help people survive, they wanted them to thrive, and thus Thrive On! Kingston was born.
Thrive On! Kingston stands out for its success, initiative, and inclusiveness. This project has united community members in the effort to provide resources to one of the most marginalized communities in Kingston and the Greater Hudson Valley area: those experiencing homelessness.
Their work began in the Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences (ELAS) course “Hudson Valley Cities/Environmental (In)Justice” taught by Peter Klein. Klein describes the course's intent as “[to] link theoretical and conceptual ideas of environmental justice, urban change, [and] urban development.” For this course, another link was the bridge leading to Kingston, New York where students were tasked with developing or getting involved with engagement projects in partnership with Kingston community organizations. Throughout the semester, students developed community partnerships centered on local challenges such as housing, food security, and food justice.
Keyvious and Aidan took the course to gain experience examining the reality of urban development. As an economics major, Keyvious saw it as an opportunity to pursue the study of urban economy in a more tangible way. For Aidan, the class allowed him to pursue questions of development economics and explore what that looks like in an urban context. As Aidan describes:
“Reading the course description of Peter’s class… [it] really spoke to the part of me that wants to figure out how to be an architect or urban planner or some kind of designer...or go into that space while also keeping in mind the social issues that are so prevalent and are made visible by cities. I got really interested in the question ‘what does development look like in the context of a city?’”
Both students share an interest in the logistics of urban development, as well as prevalent social issues, and this intersection allowed them to focus their attention on the homeless population in Kingston and the effect of COVID-19.
For Thrive On! Kingston, this means that COVID-19 resources are not limited to masks, wipes, and PPE equipment, but also include other essentials such as soap, shaving kits, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner. And to thrive, additional items are needed such as reusable bags, water bottles, notebooks, pens, and blankets, among other items. Upon compiling this list of items, Keyvious and Aidan created the Thrive On! Kingston kit.
During our interview Keyvious showcased the packages he had just received for the Thrive On! Kingston kits. Some of these packages included socks, shaving kits, laundry detergent, sporks, pens, and soap. He emphasized the team’s focus on taking the time to ensure quality, citing the organic aloe vera in the shaving kits. Once assembled, the kits are scheduled to be delivered to high-volume homeless shelters in Kingston, as well as the community organization Beyond 4 Walls Outreach Program. What Keyvious sees from the people in Kingston is that:
“[they] have this common idea and this common image of where they want to see Kingston. You can see this amazing momentum and amazing effort with everyone actively aiming to achieve that; where they want to see exceptional progress from Kingston. To me that’s the thriving spirit. When everyone’s there together, when everyone realizes that there’s a vision beyond what any one person can make. So everyone comes in to put that together.”
This mindset is what grounds this project’s mission to thrive. Featured on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo, Thrive On! Kingston has raised $4,142 to produce their kits, exceeding its original goal of $3,800. While they have achieved great success, their focus is still concentrated on addressing the needs of the community they are serving. They intend on continuing the campaign and have begun talks about expanding as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. As the project continues, there have been conversations about incorporating more Bard students into their effort. However, both Keyvious and Aidan acknowledge that future plans are dynamic and will adjust to the present needs of this community they are serving. While Thrive On! Kingston began as a reaction to the pandemic and homeless crisis in Kingston, the momentum surrounding this project showcases the gravity of its purpose. Through continued work and partnerships, we are certain this project will not only survive but will thrive.
As the final guest speakers featured in the Women & Covid-19 course, the spotlight is on the founders of Black Talks 2020: Bernadette Benjamin, Sage Swaby, and Talaya Robinson-Dancy.
Bernadette Benjamin recently graduated Bard College with a bachelor's degree in sociology. As a student, her academic focus was on Black and Asian studies. Her senior project examined how Black women conceptualize the effects of their identity on their ability to participate in a community in Japan. In addition, Bernadette is interested in how to mediate inequities within systems of education within America. She is aspiring to be an education lawyer, particularly focusing on the treatment of Black students in public schools, and an author. She aims to continue to mentor young people to give them the skills they need to be a better version of themselves.
Sage Swaby is a rising junior at Bard College studying Written Arts and American Studies. On campus, she is a co-Trustee Leadership Scholar of the Black Body Experience, co-head of the Womxn of Color United club, and co-head of the Caribbean Student Association. Her dream profession is to be a journalist. She is passionate about community support and protection for all black womxn and femmes as well as learning more about police and prison abolition.
Talaya Robinson-Dancy was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. She is a rising senior at Bard College and will be graduating in 2021 with a degree in Historical Studies with a minor in Africana Studies. Talaya has created and executed many projects including Black Talks 2020, The Black Body Experience Conference, and Sincerely Black. She aims to give back to her community through providing safe and fun spaces to share resources and facilitate conversations that lead to change in various communities.
To hear clips from their discussion with the Women & Covid-19 summer course, head to @BardCCE on Instagram! Check out the sources below to connect with Sage, Bernadette, and Talaya and their work.
Further learning: Hoodrat to Headwrap: A Decolonized Podcast
This week we have a special #FollowWednesday featuring Maggie Hazen and Lauren Enright! In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Maggie and Lauren 3D printed and assembled PPE face shields in upstate New York.
Maggie Hazen is a New York based interdisciplinary artist from Los Angeles and is also the Co-founder and Director of the Juvenile Justice Digital Arts Project (JJ-DAP). Her work explores themes of resistance in a cinematically real world of violence through a combination of moving image, sculpture and performance. Her forthcoming exhibitions will be at The Bronx Museum in New York and Vox Populi in Philadelphia. She has exhibited, screened and performed works at Pulse Miami Beach as part of Pulse Play; The Museum of Tolerance, Los Angeles, CA; Microscope Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Light Year on the Manhattan Bridge; The Granoff Center, Brown University; Performance Works Northwest, Portland, OR; CICA Museum, South Korea; Holland Projects, Reno NV; Icebox Projects, Philadelphia, PA; and The Boston Young Contemporaries, Boston, MA, among others. She is a current resident at Pioneer Works, NY and has had residencies and fellowships at The Bronx Museum; The Shanghai Institute of Visual Art; The Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art, European Graduate School, Switzerland; I:O at the Helikon Art Center in Turkey; Vermont Studio Center; and The Pasadena Side Street Projects, CA. She holds a BFA in sculpture from Biola University and an MFA in sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design and has taught at New York University, The Stevens Institute of Technology, The Shanghai Institute of Visual Art and is currently a professor at Bard College in Studio Arts.
Lauren Enright is the Founder and CEO of Axiom Climate, a water risks company focused on data mapping, risk analysis and ESG factors in water risks for Fortune 500 companies, non-governmental organizations and small governments. Her water research has led her to working on water / nuclear / security projects for the Center for Climate & Security and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Lauren spent the last 8 years working for Control Risks, an international risk analyst firm as a Security Consultant based in Los Angeles. Her main responsibilities included managing protective global tasks for US and international clients, security and threat assessments. Lauren's projects have led her to support clients across the United States, United Arab Emirates, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, and England. She has experience in running Hostile Environmental and First Aid Training (HEFAT) courses for clients which is where she gained her close protection agent certification. Lauren holds a BA in political studies and art history from Gordon College in Massachusetts and a MA in International Relations and Maritime Security from Regents’ University in London.
To hear a clip from Maggie and Lauren's discussion with the Women & Covid-19 summer course, head to @BardCCE on Instagram! And check out the sources below to connect with them and their work!
Further Learning: Bard Connects: Faculty and Staff Get Creative to Provide Protective Gear to Regional Health Workers and the original GoFundMe fundraiser.
To the Bard College community,
America faces an unprecedented opportunity to confront the fundamental and tragic rift between the ideals invoked in the nation’s founding enshrined in its Declaration of Independence, and the reality, from the foundation of white settler domination of this continent to the treatment of indigenous and Black populations, who to this day remain subjected to sustained suffering, oppression, and discrimination. The widespread protest and outrage at recent killings of Black Americans have placed the nation’s systemic discrimination against people of color into the forefront. By acting to redress this long history of racism, we can unite the nation in a manner consistent with the belief that we are all “created equal”, with the same right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
Every institution in American civil society, particularly colleges and universities, must play a part in creating fundamental change. To that end, each institution should assess its past, analyze its present practices, and produce a plan for the future.
Therefore, I have created the President’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice at Bard College.
It is made up of 30 members drawn from the college’s faculty, students, and staff. It will be chaired by Kahan Sablo with Dinaw Mengestu and Myra Armstead serving as Vice Chairs. It is charged with conducting an audit of Bard’s past, reporting on the present state of affairs, and recommending a plan of action for the future. The Commission is being asked to complete its work by January 1, 2021.
I want to thank the Commission members for agreeing to serve. The members of the Commission are:
For the third week, the spotlight is on the Women & Covid-19 course’s professors; Cammie Jones and Elmira Bayrasli! To hear a clip from this course’s Q&A with their professors, head to @BardCCE on Instagram! And check out the sources below to connect with Cammie and Elmira and their work.
Cammie Jones serves as the Associate Dean for Experiential Learning and Civic Engagement, oversees several domestic and international network experiential learning initiatives, and teaches “Women and Leadership” and “Women and COVID 19: Activism, Leadership, and Global Engagement” courses at Bard College. Before her role at Bard, Cammie developed and launched Dutchess Community College’s Service Learning Department, which served over 50 nonprofit agencies within the county and accounted for over 11,000 annual hours of service. Furthermore, Cammie served as Assistant Director of Student-Athlete Enhancement at Marist College, which led to the founding of a female leadership program, Ladies Empowering Athletics, and created an expansive life-skills program for student athletes. Cammie also launched several prevention empowerment-based programs through her work as Prevention Coordinator at Grace Smith House, Inc., a non-profit domestic-violence agency serving residents of Dutchess County, New York. Cammie leads a life of service and leadership within the Dutchess County community through serving on several board and committees for local organizations for women empowerment, and has received several awards for her work in higher education and community engagement, which include the Dutchess County Regional Chamber Of Commerce’s 2012 Forty Under 40 Class, N4A 2014 Professional Promise Award for Region 1, and the AWCC 2017 Forty Under 40 Class, and the 2017 Arc of Dutchess Peggy Martinko Community Trailblazer Award. Cammie holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from the University of Texas at Austin and a M.A. in Higher Education Administration from Louisiana State University A&M.
Cammie was also recently selected to join the inaugural women’s leadership cohort of Majority Leaders with the Supermajority Education Fund! Read more here.
Further Learning: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Becoming (Streaming on Netflix) and What A Day and Unlocking Us with Brene Brown.
Elmira Bayrasli is the Director of the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program (BGIA). She is also the co-founder of Foreign Policy Interrupted. In 2015, Public Affairs published her first book, From the Other Side of the World: Extraordinary Entrepreneurs, Unlikely Places, a book that looks at the rise of entrepreneurship globally. From 2002 to 2006, Elmira lived in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina where she was the Chief Spokesperson for the OSCE Mission. From 1994-2000 she was presidential appointee at the U.S. State Department, working for Madeleine Albright and Richard Holbrooke, respectively. Elmira is a regular contributor on global entrepreneurship for Techcrunch. She also provides analysis on foreign policy, particularly on Turkey. Her work has appeared in Reuters, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Washington Post, Quartz, Fortune, Forbes, The New Republic, CNN, NPR, BBC, Al Jazeera, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. Elmira sits on several boards, including Invest2Innovate, Turkish Women's International Network, and Our Secure Future. She is a Mets fan and a simit eater.
Visit her website!
Bard College has joined an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to block the new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) guidelines for international students announced last week. The guidelines seek to strip international students of their visas if their course of study is entirely online. Bard signed on to the brief filed by the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, of which it is a founding member.
In a letter to the community last week, Bard College President Leon Botstein wrote, “We consider these guidelines to be senseless, ill-conceived, and completely at odds with Bard’s mission and its role as an international partner in higher education.”
The College will continue to support international students currently enrolled, or considering enrollment at Bard, and will continue working with its representatives in Congress to strike down these guidelines and to push for action to speed visa approvals for international students.
Every Friday for the month of July, we will be highlighting guest speakers from the summer course; Women & COVID-19. This course examines the Covid-19 crisis effect on women and the historical, cultural, and social reasons why women, despite their majority in many other sectors of life, are greatly affected by such disparities. It is taught by Cammie Jones, Associate Dean for Experiential Learning and Civic Engagement at Bard College, and Elmira Bayrasli, Director of the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program.
Our second spotlight is on Grace Choi from the New York City’s Mayor Office!
Grace Choi is the Director of Policy to the First Lady of NYC. Recently, she served as the Constituency Director for Asian American & Pacific Islander Outreach for the Stacey Abrams for Governor Campaign. Previously, she was the Associate Director for Global Gender Policy and Advocacy at Save the Children. She served in President Obama’s Administration as Policy Advisor in the Secretary of State’s Office on Global Women’s Issues and as Staff Assistant in the White House Liaison’s Office at the U.S. Department of State. Prior to her political appointment at the Department of State, Grace worked for the Council of Korean Americans (CKA), the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) in Congresswoman Judy Chu’s office, the Presidential Inauguration Committee, President Obama’s 2012 Presidential Campaign, the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Refugee Affairs Division.
She is a Council on Foreign Relations Term Member, is a Council of Korean Americans Member, was a Member of the White House National Security Leadership Workshop, and served on the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership Board of Directors as Vice Chair for Programs. She holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a Bachelor of Arts from Boston College.
To hear a clip from this course’s discussion with Grace, head to @BardCCE on Instagram!! And check out the sources below to connect with Grace and her work.
Social media accounts:
Further Learning: I Am Not Your Negro (Streaming on Netlfix), Just Mercy (Streaming on Hoopla) amd 13th (Streaming on Netflix).
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