Editorial: What have we done?: A lookback

“You Can.” This paper has watched as this marketing campaign launched, promulgating its message in a variety of fashions, from admissions to alumni engagement and beyond. The idea, as we noted in an October 2 article, was to focus on what market research suggested that prospective students wanted: specifics that were tangible. The campaign was released in September, and it has become widely seen in the college’s media. The yellow background has taken the forefront of our colors, though we still proudly don both blue and gold for athletic and school-spirit related events. It’s certainly a bright identifier, but we have to be careful not to get too jaundiced in our presentation. “You Can” has such great potential, one that is has been fulfilling, but it is important still, to be careful of what exactly we’re marketing to students. “Exceeding Your Expectations” is attached to the campaign as a slogan, but it’s not clear exactly where that has played in, as it is less prevalent as the bold tagline. Its lack of prevalence begs an important question: is that a promise we can keep?

This paper loves Canisius. There should be no doubting that. Ever since The Griffin’s establishment in 1937, we have striven to be the best we could be for the College. We have hoped to hold it in check, as all newspaper humans work to do. We believe in this institution’s ability to exceed expectations. In many ways, it has certainly done this for many on the staff alone. Many alumni would likely say the same. We believe in the message of “You Can,” and we think that its specificity is a great representation of the opportunities that Canisius offers for our students. This campaign has really tried to integrate individual messages and stories into the campaign, from its wider banner approaches showing students in and out of the classroom. Working with social media, there has also been better integration of students into the campaign with what there is to do on campus when students aren’t in class. Instagram has included photos from the Kairos Retreat from this past March (the one, we may add, directed by Opinion Editor Darby Ratliff), the ESPN sports broadcasting center (in which Editor-in-Chief CJ Gates can often be found), the Institute of the Global Studies of Religion’s (IGSOR) trip to Tanzania last spring, a shot from the Super Bowl from Master of Sports Administration student James Donovan, and  many others. We’re seeing more from individuals. It has, of course, to be carefully curated, but it could very well be one of the most important tools. “You Can,” after all, seeks to show what individual students are doing so that potential Canisians know what they could be doing if they matriculate here.

This year has been fraught with accomplishments from current students, but these are not necessarily efforts that are seen beyond our greater community. Undergraduate Student Association President Rich Kubiak will leave Canisius with a bronze Griffin statue and an endowed scholarship for student leaders in his wake (which is due to be delivered before graduation, we may add). The USA Sustainability Committee just had an allocation passed to bring a bikeshare to campus beginning in July, and they’re also working on integrating a more sustainable approach to New Student Orientation as well. The Donate Life Club encouraged students, faculty, and staff to beat Niagara in donations for the first time in a number of years. The Residence Hall Association welcomed its first woman into contention for the Mr. Canisius crown, and the pageant will be entirely gender-inclusive for years to come. Our sports swept Niagara, bringing home the Canal Cup once again. Further, we’ll have named two new deans by the end of the year, in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Wehle School of Business. Philosophy Professor Stephen Chanderbhan and Associate Campus Minister Sarah Signorino are the Director and Assistant Director respectively of the Be the Light Youth Theology Institute, a program funded by a grant from the Lilly Foundation, which will welcome high school students to Canisius as part of the week-long immersion for the first time this summer. Good things are happening. Our students are reaching here for great things that enliven other students and enhance the community. These are things that we should proudly display to prospective students. We should be showing them the execution of our Jesuit mission, going deeper than just a job placement rate. We want students who have the drive to do the same as their predecessors. One of the criticisms of “You Can” was that it did not incorporate more of our Jesuit mission into its message, and that’s certainly be something that we proudly display, especially as our students push the boundaries to bring our institution in conversations about contemporary social justice for all.

Obviously, pushing boundaries can be very complicated from an administrative side as well. The USA Diversity Committee and Unity received a high degree of pushback from administration regarding the first ever Canisius PRIDE event to be held at Canisius, welcoming concern about what such a program could mean at a Catholic institution. However, this paper believes that, in cases like this, the “Jesuit” aspect of Catholic should be our guiding light. The event, though sponsored by Unity in its role as a gender and sexuality alliance, welcomed all clubs to show pride for their involvement in our community, bringing educational materials about resources for students around Western New York. The College is in a challenging position, as the Catholic perspective on an issue may be different than the view of the average student, and when these students come together, they form a force for change on campus, one that is representative of important issues in contemporary social justice. We made important steps forward this year with the stand in solidarity for refugees, immigrants, and victims of terrorism in the fall, and we should continue to bravely strive forward. What does it mean if we can when others cannot?

“You Can” rang in the year, subtly infiltrating the Griffin Welcome Rally during New Student Orientation. It is on billboards near and far from the campus, and with the strategic plan aiming to expand our target areas farther beyond Western New York, the message will spread even more. “You Can” is the face of Canisius, and as Giving Day on Wednesday wrapped up its day-long push for funds, #WeDidIt suggested the bookend to the campaign. It is the current student complement to what we’re suggesting our successors will be able to accomplish as well. This paper hopes that it is even more than what this 2015-2016 school year did.

What’s next?

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