Communities in Unity enlightens students about surrounding communities

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Written by Michael Berg, Griffin Reporter

Photos by Tessa Pszonak, Staff Photographer

On Tuesday March 6, the Philosophy Department collaborated with the Immersion East Side program to bring an event entitled “Communities in Unity to Canisius.” The event took place in Science Hall, and it received generally favorable reviews from all who attended.

The event was well-attended by Canisius students as well as residents of the Hamlin Park area and the East Side of Buffalo. Five panelists were featured from a variety of backgrounds, some of which were Canisius College alumni. Each of them discussed topics related to recurring themes that have not only plagued the East Side of Buffalo, but the rest of the city as well – problems that have plagued Buffalo for at least a decade. Topics ranged from “food deserts,” redlining, to declining graduation rates in Buffalo Public Schools.

Audience members were noticeably captivated by the passion and commitment of each panelist to speak upon these issues direct from the heart, and have definitely succeeded in striking an interest in Canisius Communities in Unity was coordinated by Melissa Mosko and Devaugha Havis, two professors in Canisius’ Philosophy Department and fellow student Malik Stubbs, who is the student organizer for the Immersion East Side program. Leadership roles are a recurring theme in Stubbs’ academic career since he was the recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. award offered by the college this year.

Stubbs said that one of the main goals of an event like this was to inform Canisius students of the cultural, historical, political, and economic aspects of the East Side as well as clearing up many misconceptions associated with it, claiming that there is more to the East Side than it being a poverty-stricken area. He also says that he hopes the event will encourage Canisius students to act against such issues, whether you are a Buffalo citizen or not.

The Immersion East Side program has had a rather interesting history for those who do not know much about it. It first started out as a seminar in the religious studies and theology department, that satisfied the justice attribute in the college’s core curriculum, but it was expanded into what it is today. According to Mosko and Havis, it was meant to “fully immerse one in the reality of the East Side of Buffalo.” For 12 weeks over the summer, a student is sent to explore the East Side of Buffalo, inside and out, then the student has to come up with a creative, yet informative project, summarizing what knowledge they had gained from the experience. Stubbs, as well as other participants in the Immersion East Side Program decided to work together and come up with a way to inform Canisius about problems happening in their own community.

Havis and Mosko both have big ambitions for the Immersion East Side program. In fact, they express a desire to see the program expand and evolve into a collaborative effort with Cornell University. They mainly seek to open up the possibility of the Cornell Fellows Highroad Internship to past participants of the Immersion East Side Program; the first group of Canisius students for this internship are making their debut this semester. They also hope that events like this one serve as a gateway for more opportunities for Canisius students to work with the outside community to deal with its “structural issues” in the community, specifically those from an educational and political standpoint.

The Philosophy Department and the student body at Canisius College is proud of Stubbs and his fellow classmates for the hard work, dedication, passion, and commitment that went into his event, and students are also encouraged to reach out to him for questions and suggestions.


This article originally ran in the 3/9 issue of The Griffin under the headline “Communities in Unity”


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