News and Notes by Date
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What Is Your Why is a podcast series hosted by Erin Cannan, the Vice President for Civic Engagement. This project invites speakers within the Bard global network to share their “why” stories. This week, we are lucky to be joined by Sonita Alizada who is a current Bard student and one of the nominees for the Freedom Prize.
When natural disasters and other emergencies hit, resources become scarce, and, too often, people with disabilities cannot access them. As global warming continues to drive up temperatures and sea levels around the world, discussions of climate resilience and adaptation must do better to include these communities.
Last spring, Bardians studying abroad rushed home to the United States or sheltered in place on campus until travel became possible. By the fall, student mobility had crawled to a near standstill, but creative solutions allowed students far and wide to stay connected. Bard College Berlin hosted a handful of European students who weren’t able to return to campus in the U.S. while Bard partnered with institutions in China and Vietnam to provide in-person campus experiences for students taking Annandale online classes. Network classes and virtual courses offered through the Open Society University Network brought students from Asia, Europe, North America, Africa, and South America into shared classrooms.
Now that vaccines are helping reopen international travel, two students, a political studies major and a sociology major, are the first Bardians to live in residence in Vienna while taking classes at Central European University. Several Annandale juniors are enrolled at Bard College Berlin, and intrepid Bardians are learning about life and culture in Paris, Dublin, Copenhagen, Barcelona, and Tokyo.
Resiliency is one of the “soft” skills students develop while venturing outside of their comfort zones and being strangers in strange lands. And the pandemic has made this a particularly strange time to travel. They will be stronger for the journey.
Back at Bard Annandale, some pleasures have withstood the hardships of quarantining: sunset at Blithewood; snowball fights outside of Kline; intimate chats in the Parliament of Reality. Three exchange students have been able to have these kinds of experiences: a photo major from Kyoto Seika University in Japan, an international studies major from Kyung Hee University in Seoul, Korea, and an arts and aesthetics major from BCB.
Summer 2021 marks the sixth anniversary of the Bard Summer Theater Intensive hosted at Bard College Berlin in June, and the fourth offering of the Berlin Summer Studio program “Transmissions.” German and French language faculty plan to travel with students for four weeks of immersive language training and cultural exploration in Berlin and Tours, respectively.
Student exchange, study abroad, and international opportunities will continue to open up and expand. The Bard Globalization and International Affairs program will be in-person in New York City and plans to welcome students from CEU and other network partners. Applications are now being accepted for the Program in International Education (PIE) for the next academic year, and about two dozen Annandale students are making plans to be abroad next fall. New partners to the Open Society University Network will open more possibilities for study abroad and student exchange. We’re looking forward to welcoming new cohorts of students to Annandale over the next academic year.
Imagine hiking a trail from the Red Hook Village down to the Bard campus, then on to Tivoli. Thanks to a new trailways system recently installed in the Town of Red Hook, it’s not only possible to embark upon this grand adventure, but along the way, you’re soon likely to encounter some unexpected creativity.
A series of special housings for art installations is planned along the network of paths that links villages and the Annandale campus. These structures are being crafted locally and feature rotating works of art, signage, and informational brochures. They are the start of a storytelling tradition that will bind the values of the area with sustainability as part of a plan by community members to certify Red Hook as an Audubon Sustainable Community.
The Audubon International Sustainable Communities Program is an international, science-based, third-party certification program in which communities work to align their sustainability efforts with Audubon’s themes: healthy environment, quality of life, and economic vitality.
The Audubon Committee is a group of volunteers from Red Hook Together, a community group that includes representatives from nonprofits, businesses, educational institutions, and sustainability committees, as well as members of Bard CCE and the Office of Sustainability. The committee works to coordinate outreach activities with the goal of realizing sustainability goals that honor Red Hook’s unique character. For two years, and through the pandemic, the Audubon Committee has listened, interviewed, brainstormed, and surveyed community members to identify community needs, like housing, safety, resources, public health, and more.
Members of the working group include Laurie Husted of the Red Hook Conservation Advisory Council, Dawn Jardine of the Red Hook Library, Sara Ugolini of the Red Hook Community Center, Nick Ascienzo of the Ascienzo Family Foundation, Kim McGrath Gomez of the Red Hook Chamber of Commerce, Erin Cannan and Sarah deVeer of the Bard Center for Civic Engagement, Sarah Imboden (volunteer, Tivoli), and Anna Dolen (volunteer, Red Hook High School alumna). The group has met on a weekly basis as it moves through the various phases of the Audubon certification.
“As a student studying the environment, community and international development, and green building and community design,” said Anna Dolen, “working with Audubon International and this inspiring group of volunteers has been an incredible peek into each of these topics within the community that I grew up in... I’ve grown an understanding of how complex and interconnected Red Hook truly is.”
For the final step in the certification process, the Audubon committee focused on two major economic drivers for the town of Red Hook: agriculture and education, set within the values that represent Red Hook’s history, such as the preservation of green space; preservation of historic sites as public spaces; and the close relationship between the Hudson Valley and the arts.
Enter the Art Box Project, which combines reverence for the sanctity of the local environment with an appreciation for the artisanship and creativity of community members, including those from the Bard College community.
“This project has provided a real opportunity for learning about all the ways Red Hook -- including the villages of Red Hook and Tivoli, and Bard, all the parts of the town -- has worked to build a sustainable community,” said Sarah Imboden. “Not just environmental policies and projects, but a variety of community-building work.
“[T]here is still a lot to work on,” Imboden said, “and that's exciting.”
BardEATS is paving the way for more equitable and sustainable food systems on campus. Leading the program are Bard senior Melina Roise and junior Olivia Tencer, with help from fellow students, management from Bard Dining, and support from Bard faculty and staff.
BardEATS promotes food security and accessibility on campus, as well as throughout the greater Dutchess County community, with a particular focus on racial equity. The program recently concluded an Earth Week lecture series titled “A Start to Healing through Land, Food, and Seed,” which brought more than 100 members of the greater Bard community together to learn about local initiatives toward food sovereignty.
The program’s commitment to antiracism and food sovereignty centers on supporting farms owned by people of color. BardEATS has partnered with the Bard Office of Sustainability, Bard TLS, the Center for Civic Engagement, the Red Hook Community Center, and the Kingston Land Trust on a mask fundraiser called “Land In Black Hands.” This initiative aims to raise $3,000 for farms owned by people of color by selling handmade masks. The masks are sold using a sliding scale system, which allows buyers to purchase masks by paying any amount; with a suggested price of $10 to $20. Join the fundraiser here.
BardEATS is also forming a campus working group focused on antiracism and food sovereignty with the goal of learning, unlearning, and relearning in order to better serve the campus and community. Each week, the group will learn from the work of experts and engage with reflection questions. Once a month, we will gather to reflect as a group and discuss how to take what we learned into our work on campus. Learn more and sign-up here. Come for one meeting or join for them all!
By Maya Aga ’21
What does it mean to be civically engaged? At the beginning of the eighth annual Get Engaged: Student Action and Youth Leadership Conference last weekend, Jonathan Becker, director of the Center for Civic Engagement, posed this simple yet powerful question to more than 150 undergraduate students from 16 institutions.
Over two days, student leaders explored this question through workshops, presentations, and activities designed to develop their community leadership skills. Attendees from all over the world, from Annandale to Berlin to Taiwan, participated in the conference, sponsored by CCE and the Open Society University Network (OSUN).
This year’s theme, “Learning Resiliency and Unity Beyond Borders,” was particularly apt, as the conference took place remotely for the second year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite interactions being limited to Zoom sessions, student leaders and innovators still managed to strengthen connections among their colleagues, all of whom work with community partners to develop solutions to local and international challenges.
In the past, Get Engaged has been open to student leaders already immersed in their projects, but this year marked the first time the conference accepted attendees who were still developing ideas for their community- or socially-based engagement projects and who sought to enhance their leadership skills.
Abdul Walid Azizi from American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan spoke about his project, Camp Afghanistan, which enables students in Ghazni to engage in English language studies and leadership-building courses.
Nguyen Thanh Phuong from Fulbright University Vietnam presented on Mathlish, which promotes youth engagement in Bac Lieu Province, Vietnam, to support the education and mental wellness of more than 100 formerly homeless children now living in orphanages. Phuong discussed the struggles of organizing during COVID-19 and taught students how to advocate for their project’s future.
Ahmad Denno from Bard College Berlin presented her work with “Go Vote: Mobilizing Refugees and New Germans for the German Elections 2021,” which provides an information and activation platform to support broader participation in federal elections.
Dariel Vasquez ’17, a Bard College graduate and conference alum, led a workshop on making projects more sustainable. The cofounder and executive director of [email protected], an organization that seeks to mentor young men of color, Vasquez shared details of developing a successful project, including the importance of keeping records and building long-lasting relationships. He challenged his students by asking “If you were to leave your project tomorrow, would your project succeed without you?”
At the conference’s conclusion, Becker displayed a word cloud made up of the diverse set of participant responses to his initial question. It illustrated the varied definitions of civic engagement that arise in a broad community network. While each student had a different interpretation of what it meant to be civically engaged, the graphic conveyed the fact that all benefited from coming together to learn from one another’s experiences.
In the midst of the 2020 global pandemic, waves of nationwide protests prompted urgent and frank conversations about race and social justice in this country. As COVID-19 exacerbated systemic inequalities, the opportunity gaps faced by young people across the country widened at an alarming rate—and yet, 2020 also gave rise to creative problem solving and nimble decision-making like never before. To explore the unique position of youth development and mentorship in communities of color in a post-COVID world, [email protected] is hosting Closing Opportunity Gaps for Young Men of Color: The State of Mentorship & Youth Development Post-2020, a nationwide virtual event and panel discussion on April 22 from 5:30–6:45 p.m. EST. Panelists will explore, among other issues, how the growing movement in defense of Black lives is affecting inclusion amongst young people trying to successfully navigate and thrive in predominantly white institutions and spaces.
Moderated by Shawn Dove, founder, Corporation for Black Male Achievement, and [email protected] Cofounder and CEO Dariel Vasquez ’17, panelists for the event include Michael Blake, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee; Brandon Micheal Hall, Activist and star of God Friended Me and HBO’s Search Party; Wes Moore, chief executive officer of Robin Hood Foundation; and Angel Obergh ’23, [email protected] mentor and campus leader, Bard College. For more information and to register, please click HERE.
“The opportunity gaps our young people of color face are only widening,” said Vasquez. “This conversation and [email protected]'s work—now happening on a national stage for the first time—are more important than ever.”
“It has been gratifying to see [email protected] flourish at Bard, home to their flagship program,” said Bard College President Leon Botstein. “The group’s achievements over the past six years on the Bard campus and at neighboring Kingston High School, which include mentoring students and helping to increase graduation rates among young men of color, demonstrate an impressive sense dedication and an innovative spirit,” he said. “We look forward to helping this important program expand to campuses across the country.”
Founded in 2014 at Bard College, [email protected] is a dual-beneficiary high school retention and college persistence organization with the mission of improving the outcomes of young men of color (YMOC) in both secondary and post-secondary education. [email protected] improves the outcomes of men of color at Bard College by recruiting, training, and hiring them to be mentors for high schoolers in the local community. [email protected] mentors form a support system, encouraging each other as they navigate life at Bard and pursue their scholarly, extracurricular, and professional goals. The brotherhood forged through meaningful work is used as a vehicle to provide vital social-emotional, academic and financial support for YMOC at Bard. Through comprehensive mentorship and leadership development, [email protected] taps into the unique potential of male collegians of color, promoting their ability to provide support and guidance to each other and their high school peers. Ultimately, [email protected] encourages male collegians of color to “pay it forward,” multiplying the impact of the College’s effort to advance the life outcomes of YMOC throughout the Hudson Valley. Today, [email protected] works with nearly 200 YMOC annually—recruiting, training, and hiring collegiate men of color to become mentors to YMOC in high school. For information, click here.
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 161-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.
# # #(4/09/21)
The Bard College Center for Civic Engagement wishes to express its grief and anger at the murder of eight people in Georgia last week, six of whom were Asian women, and to unambiguously condemn the racism, xenophobia, scapegoating, and misogyny that are at the root of these murders. We mourn the losses and stand in solidarity with the Asian and Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) communities at Bard, their families, and with those who are working towards a just and equitable country—especially students, staff, faculty, and alumni/ae of the Bard community and network.
We recognize that what has occurred is consistent with the history of racial and anti-immigrant violence that has stained the United States and that, as the country continues to experience a long-overdue racial reckoning, we need to ensure that the lives and concerns of Asian and AAPI communities find their rightful place in this conversation. We also affirm that we should be centering the voices and experiences of migrants, particularly migrant women, in our work and study.
We wish to express our deepest condolences to the victims and their loved ones as we say their names:
We recognize our privileged position within the communities in which we operate and are committed to collaborating with and mobilizing students, faculty, and staff across the Bard network to work with citizens, community organizations, and leaders to develop meaningful approaches to mitigating racism, xenophobia, and inequality within society. We welcome partners in these efforts. The Center for Civic Engagement will continue to help realize Bard’s mission as a private institution acting in the public interest by enhancing efforts to meet the needs of this important time.
Lastly, we wanted to offer a few resources you can use to take action:
This grant award will allow Reed and her team to spend the summer traveling across New York State on a “racial justice fundraising tour through the sale of used clothing.” Their pop-up fundraising thrift sales will raise money “to support racial justice initiatives, facilitate community engagement with antiracism activism and education provide an opportunity for environmentally and socially sustainable shopping.” Thrift 2 Fight’s mission is to fuel social change and racial justice work with the profits of a dynamic thrifting movement.
Despite the challenges of the coronavirus outbreak, artist-in-residence Beka Goedde, ‘04 and ‘12, adapted her Print II: Silkscreening course to remote learning and used experiential learning to show students how they could use art to engage with the community while staying safe at the same time.
To prepare for the first full semester in the pandemic, Beka created videos of herself modelling silkscreening techniques and pivoted toward remote teaching via Zoom. But as all things ELAS, the focus wasn’t just on the practice of silkscreening, but how students could apply their coursework to community action.
The Print II students collaborated with the Bard Cares team to create vibrant signs about social distancing and mask wearing. They also worked with Lisa Sanditz’s Painting II: Social Change course to design eye-catching signs urging Bardians to vote at the new on-campus polling place for the 2020 national election.
"We passed those signs back and forth several times over a couple of months—painting and printing on them, cutting them, putting stakes on them, and repainting them,” said Beka.
Beyond the techniques of silkscreening, the students also learned how to advocate for their own projects and build relationships with the community. Beka showed them how to navigate the paperwork for public installations and invited their help in making decisions with local partners.
"As [their] instructor I [am their] guide and help do some of the work to put things in place—I hope I have shown them what the path is."
At the end of the semester silkscreening students gave digital images and stencils to local grassroots organization Rise Up Kingston to use in its community outreach. What this represented, said Beka, was the students giving away their creativity and their art. “To work as an artist who is an activist in a mode is generous and gifting.”
By Kathy Gaweda ‘21
In the four years that I’ve been a team member of [email protected], the topic of an on-campus polling place has been met with a knowing giggle and a sigh. Previous generations of [email protected] leaders had fought so hard to make sure that Bard voters had their right to vote protected. They battled against voter suppression that came in the form of student residency questionnaires and argued for the right of Bard students to use the 30 Campus Road address. Yet, an on-campus polling place remained out of reach.
When I joined the team, we continued this good work by writing Op-Eds to build public support, sending letters of support to the Board of Elections, and meeting with previous Election Commissioners. But time and again we were either ignored or told we had no chance.
We were ignored or outright rejected despite the fact that the vast majority of voters in the district live on campus and that a space in the Campus Center, the Multi-Purpose Room, is more appropriately sized than the current polling place.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, social distancing guidance made it impossible for the issue to be ignored any longer. In trying to imagine the line of voters out the door maintaining six feet of distance, or the multiple shuttles we would have to organize to ensure that no more than four people would be transported at a time. This was not only a major logistical challenge but a threat to the campus community’s health and safety.
Supported by the Center for Civic Engagement, the Bard Administration, and the Andrew Goodman Foundation, we advanced litigation arguing that the MPR was the only option to ensure a safe Election Day.
I was so excited to see the support from the campus community as well as from outside sources. It’s not every day that you get to be on the radio or that your team member is quoted in the New York Times. But despite the case and all of the excitement surrounding it, we couldn’t let it get in the way of our day-to-day responsibilities. We had to continue making sure that students were registered, requesting absentee ballots, and voting early if possible. Finally, after months of legal back and forth, we won!
Election Day 2020 began and finished with a consistent flow of students entering the Campus Center intent on making their voices heard. After generations of organizing and an election season like no other, Bard students were able to vote safely and easily on their own campus at last.
Thinking back to that day, it seemed so calm. We had grown accustomed to the hustle and bustle of anticipating student schedules and arranging their shuttles to the old, off-campus polling site. But this time our efforts were paying off right in front of us.
However, our work is not done yet. Thanks to the inner workings of county politics, our campus polling place is not guaranteed for future elections. So [email protected] is going to continue the fight. We look forward to continuing our work to ensure that on-campus voting at Bard College is protected and ensured for generations to come.
While the COVID-19 pandemic ground many academic debate programs to a halt, the Bard Debate Union took it as an opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to debate outreach and service to the community.
When we lost the ability to gather socially and engage in extra curricular activities with local high school students, the Bard Debate Union created a Zoom-based “Community Debate Practice.” Weekly, we’d gather with local high school debate clubs, staging and judging full practice debates. The Union also offered lectures and workshops to help the high schoolers develop their debating skills.
On Saturday, March 6, the Debate Union hosted a virtual version of the 10th Annual High School Debate Tournament at Bard, with students from 6 local school districts – Red Hook, Rhinebeck, Poughkeepsie, Arlington, Haldane, and Dover. The students competed in three full debates on topics of minimum wage, environmental justice, and popular art. The event culminated in an awards ceremony at which the top-placing teams and speakers were recognized with all the pomp and circumstance possible in our present situation.
At the Bard Debate Union, we are proud of our ten-year effort to work with local high school students to instill a love for vigorous, open, public debate. And despite a yearlong pandemic, which has challenged us in ways we never imagined, we are thrilled to see that debate remains a way to connect people and enliven our community.
At the top of a small hill at the end of a dark, winding, and unlit path in Red Hook, N.Y., sits the only voting location for all of Bard College. For decades, the 750-square-foot building, called St. John’s Episcopal Church, has been the only place for those living on and around Bard’s campus to cast their vote in local, state, and national elections.
There are no sidewalks on the road to the church. You can’t get to it by public transportation. For years, it lacked an adequate ramp, handicap restroom, and designated parking for disabled voters. The incline leading up to the church makes it impossible to access if you are elderly, disabled, or walking with a stroller.
Read Najwa's Article at The Nation
“Advocates, like Jule Hall, argue that educating students with life sentences doesn’t just benefit them but their entire prison populations because lifers serve as a unique support system for other students,” writes Sara Weissman in Diverse Issues in Higher Education. “Hall was sentenced to life in prison and served 22 years before his parole and release in 2015. Now he’s a program officer of post-secondary education in prison at Ascendium Education Group.”
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 [email protected] 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.
# # #(2/15/21)
“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 [email protected], 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] “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 [email protected] 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)
[email protected], 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 >>
[email protected], 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 Elec[email protected] 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.”
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; [email protected]; 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 [email protected]
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 [email protected], 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.
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