Unifying the University one step at a time

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Deep in the corners of the Gallagher Center, are an array of offices that offer amazing opportunities for students, faculty, and staff. This is exceptionally true for one office. This office –  the Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs (OMA) –  and the woman in charge – Averl Harbin –  are making enormous changes throughout Niagara University. Harbin, also known as “Boss Lady,” is the catalyst behind some of the biggest events and activities on campus.

As the Director of Multi-Cultural Affairs, Harbin is responsible for the daily operations of the office that include — but are not limited to — the creation, facilitation, and assessment of educational and co-curricular activities which promote a multicultural learning community. To Harbin, multiculturalism is the interdisciplinary company and support of different ethnicities and cultures in society.

“We want to allow students the opportunity to learn about cultures unlike their own,” Harbin says. “With respect to their own cultures, it should be something that students, faculty and administration are willing to participate in.”

Before she worked at NU, Harbin participated on several committees at SUNY Fredonia including the Affirmative Action Committee, the Student Diversity Committee, and the Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Committee, in addition to many more.

“My work ethic has not changed that much,” she says enthusiastically. “It was a bigger school, but here, I’m able to challenge myself and students who may be interested in discovering different backgrounds.”

Harbin has taken a leadership role in many campus-wide events, including MLK week, Hispanic and Black heritage celebrations, organizing an NU fashion show, as well as bringing the great Dr. Bernice King to speak on campus. She mentions that these events and activities are designed to advance campus engagement around diversity to ensure that the voice of students from diverse backgrounds are heard.

Harbin actively encourages students to get involved on campus with the office by participating and planning events. She encourages students to reach outside of their comfort zone by performing and sharing their talents. She also hopes to educate students, faculty and staff about different cultures and ethnicities throughout the Niagara University campus. Harbin is dedicated to creating an inclusive atmosphere at this university, and will continue to do so in the coming years.

In the span of 2 short years, Harbin has changed the cultural atmosphere of Niagara for the better. At a time when the country continues to face hardships and divisiveness, Harbin is determined to bring awareness to people of all different backgrounds and cultures.

“We have a lot more planned for this year,” Harbin says. “There’s also a lot in store for the next year that I not only hope educates people, but will also bring people together at this university.”

Article and photo by Gabi Jackson – PRSSN

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Dr. Hope Russell: Addressing the importance of women’s studies at Niagara University

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – Dr. Hope Russell knows a thing or two about the history of women. So much, in fact, that she teaches courses all about it at Niagara University.

Dr. Russell is an adjunct professor of women’s studies at Niagara, and has spent over 12 years educating students on past and present issues regarding women in society. Her courses range from introductory feminist studies to women’s representation in media and literature — each constructed with the goal of exposing young adults to the realities of sexism and inequality in the modern world.

As an undergraduate, Dr. Russell found her calling after taking a women’s studies course at the University at Buffalo. From there, she began to notice a lack of representation in other fields.

“I did my masters in Education and English, and noticed that women were absent, race was absent,” Dr. Russell explains. “It just wasn’t doing the same feminist work I had done as an undergraduate.”

She went on to earn her PhD in Gender Studies, and began teaching at Niagara University in 2004, joining the Women’s Studies department. Now, as she educates an upcoming generation of activists, Dr. Russell works to ensure that every student has the opportunity to learn more about the history of women, as well as a brighter future ahead.

“It is so sorely needed,” Dr. Russell says of teaching women’s studies to young adult students. “The way that it opens people’s eyes to important social problems and issues, and the way that it gives names to those things; it provides means in which to advocate and make social change.”

Dr. Russell also plays an important role in Women’s History Month on the Niagara University campus.

“As someone who is on the Women’s History Month planning committee, we work really hard throughout the year to have a number of events for it, especially across disciplines,” she explains.

Last year, Niagara hosted its first ever “Take Back the Night” event, which promotes awareness about sexual assault and dating violence on college campuses. Held at the end of March, this event serves as a powerful conclusion to Women’s History Month, and the committee anticipates great success for this year’s gathering.

“Several hundred NU students attended, in addition to faculty, staff, and community members,” Dr. Russell says describing last year’s event. “The interest level and supportive energy surrounding the event, as well as the programming, dedication and hard work of our faculty, staff, and student clubs, combined to make it an incredible event. I cannot wait to see what this year brings.”

Dr. Russell is one of many who support the celebration and promotion of Women’s History Month at Niagara University. And, as a women’s studies professor, she knows that broadcasting women’s issues doesn’t stop at the end of March.

“Women’s History Month is incredibly important as it allows the campus community to recognize women’s accomplishments throughout history, and makes important bridges to the present and future,” Dr. Russell says. “I always ask my students what mark they plan to leave on history or what mark they are making, or planning to make, on our college campus.”

Dr. Russell has certainly made her mark on Niagara University, and continues to do so through the courses she teaches and the students she inspires.

-Bridget Cauley, PRSSN

Beer and community cheer: Pints for progress

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – Imagine an event with people from every aspect of a community coming together with the sole purpose of progressing their town into a better tomorrow. This image came true for over 100 people last Thursday night at the 20th Pints for Progress event hosted at the Hard Rock Café in Niagara Falls.

Pints for Progress is a community event intended to help improve Niagara Falls. For $10 ($5 for first-time attendees), locals can enjoy a free pint of beer while listening to attendees pitch ideas that will positively impact the Niagara Falls community. At the end of the pitches, the audience votes on their favorite project and the proceeds from the event go towards funding the winning project. About 16 projects have been funded through this event and more than $9,500 has been awarded to the winners over the past three years.

On Thursday night, three people presented their ideas. The first presenter was Willie Price, who pitched the idea to revive the Niagara Track & Field Club. Next, Brook D’Angelo took the stage to request an illustrator for the traditional “Niagara Falls Firefly” storybook distributed at the annual Firefly Festival. Last was Joseph Kissel, a writer for the Niagara News Source, who wanted more reporters to cover stories but needed a little help financially.

“The presentations were great,” said Isaac De Los Santos, an attendee of the event. “But the one thing I enjoyed was the fact that people are coming together to help, not themselves, but other people.”

In the end, Willie Price, the coach and sponsor of the Niagara Track & Field Club, was awarded the money to support the foundation of his club. Price wants to give students a summer activity but also wants to allow all residents an opportunity to train and compete in state and national events.

Price felt extremely blessed and overwhelmed by the support that the community has given him which will allow others to pursue their passion for running.

“Now this money will go towards a project that will eventually reach our goal in improving Niagara Falls,” said Phil Mohr, the emcee of the night and one of the event directors. “He [Price] is creating a project that is going to lure people in on a positive note. I would say it’s a huge success.”

Jade King, PRSSN

Niagara University Holds Panel Discussion On ‘Diversity In Action’

On Feb. 16, students and faculty gathered to discuss the relationship between diversity and campus relations in “Diversity in Action: A Discussion of Student Activism at Niagara University.”

“When I arrived here (Niagara) in 1969, I saw that there was work that needed to be done,” said Bill Bradberry, ‘70, the founder of the university’s original Black Student Union. Looking around the audience now and seeing the students around me, I see the fulfillment of a dream.”picture-2

Among the topics discussed in the event were social changes, the issues students are working around today and some of the challenges going forward with diversity. Bradberry, who was a significant contributor on the panel, said that in living in Niagara Falls, he sees the local community as acting like a spark plug to the rest of the world.

“I am very hopeful that Niagara Falls, and specifically Niagara University, can help lead the rest of the world to the right way, because we have in a way figured it out,” said Bradberry. “The challenge for you as students is to get along with each other. When students have come together to work together and fight for something, it has made a tremendous change in the picture-1university; it is huge.”

The panelists included Bradberry along with student representatives from the Black Student Union, Feminism Today, NU Alliance, Muslim Student Alliance and Saudi Student Association. In closing remarks, Bradberry had some insight to the students both on the panel and in attendance.

“When someone asks you when you come out of college what you are doing, don’t tell them what you want to be,” said Bradberry. “Rather, tell them what you want to do and accomplish in our life. Do not worry about the minds you cannot change, but instead focus on those that you can change and help to show and influence those minds.Now I challenge you to go out into the real world, take your views and thoughts of the world and work together, and show the value of that..”

-Article by Greg Jubert, PRSSN and photos by Gabby McIntyre

Dr. Bernice King Gives Talk at NU to Open Black History Month Celebrations

Dr. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, spoke to a full crowd in the Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University on Tuesday.  She is the current chief executive officer of the King Center, and took the time to reflect on her father’s legacy, address current political events, and educate those in attendance on how they can make a difference.

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Image: Public Relations Office, Niagara University

After a standing ovation by an audience so large even standing room was scarce, King had those in attendance -students, community members, and even local leaders such as Mayor Paul Dyster- turn to each other and share one thing they thought we should do to progress the world.

 

Citing the universal quest for easy answers, King said the path ahead isn’t going to be easy and that it will require everyone to do some hard work.

“In spite of who’s in the White House, each and every one of us has ideas of how we as a nation can move forward,” said King.  “And we can’t rest and believe that the answers and solutions are only with one person or one group of people because the responsibility is for all of us.”

Talking about her father’s last book, “Where Do We Go from Here”, King said her father posed a choice of chaos or community.  King talked about how her father’s legacy speaks of a pathway for creating community, something that takes hard work and critical thinking.

“This is the time where we cannot afford to build walls,” said King.  “We have to be in the business of building bridges.”

King also stressed the value in building real in-depth relationships, even with people who think, act, and are different.

“It’s going to be necessary that you arm yourselves with the ability and the commitment and the courage to build bridges across lines of different beliefs and ideologies, because at the end of the day as my father said, ‘We must learn to live together as brothers of sisters or together we will perish as fools.’”

King said those committed to a true sense of community or peaceful end must be committed to following a peaceful path in that process, and that even though it can be very emotional we must manage our emotions.

“We can’t let anger overtake us, we can’t let fear control us, we can’t let hate take roots in our hearts,” said King.  “The people of light and the people of goodwill must always take the higher ground.  And that’s what Dr. King was teaching those who followed him in that movement.  It’s a personal commitment, because if you’re not prepared when you get out to resist you can work against the very effort you were trying to make.”

King also discussed the importance of having a strategy to balance resistance and referenced one of the strategies she said her father taught us- to talk and negotiate, even with the ones who oppose us and hate us.

“To those in this generation, we have seen some bad times in America,” said King.  “It’s actually been worse than this.  There was a time when some of us did not have the power of protest … There was a time when people lived under constant terrorism.  And we got through it.  We’ll get through this. We have to hold people accountable and we have to always be in a position to raise someone who can represent all of America.”

-Samantha Martineau, PRSSN

Area Athletic Directors Participate In Roundtable Discussion At Niagara University

Niagara University’s College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, in conjunction with its Sport Management Association, hosted an Athletic Director Roundtable Nov. 10. The special event allowed students of all majors to listen in on some of the area’s highest-profile leaders in collegiate athletics as they discussed their duties and roles in the industry.

“I really applaud the university for putting this event together,” said Simon Gray, Niagara University’s director of athletics. “I know there are professors who deserve a lot of credit for getting this together, but I also know there were students who worked very hard to get this done. I think it was fabulous and I think a lot of credit also goes to the athletic directors that traveled to campus to be here today.”

Participating athletic directors included Gray, Allen Greene (University at Buffalo), Bridget Niland (Daemen College), Peter Bothner (Nazareth College), and Robert McKeown (Niagara County Community College).

“The athletic directors were very insightful and had great information to share with everyone, even if you weren’t looking to work in collegiate sports,” said Josh Dumbleton, an NU junior majoring in sport management.

Moderator Michael Gentile, J.D., is pictured with Athletic Director Roundtable participants, from left, Allen Greene (University at Buffalo), Simon Gray (Niagara University), Peter Bothner (Nazareth College), Bridget Niland (Daemen College), and Robert McKeown (Niagara County Community College

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Pictured (L to R): Michael Gentile (Moderator), Allen Greene (University at Buffalo), Simon Gray (Niagara University), Peter Bothner (Nazareth College), Bridget Niland (Daemen College), Robert McKeown (NCCC)

 

Among the topics discussed throughout the evening were the present state of collegiate athletics, facility management, hiring practices and the challenges that come with structuring life between work and time outside the office.

“I was really interested about their thoughts on being a great teammate and having motivation to succeed,” said Dumbleton. “You have to find your way to get your foot in the door and know the right people so that you can move up and, eventually, find yourself in your dream job.”

As for Gray, he hoped students understood the importance of working hard and doing all that you can to help yourself succeed in the field.

“It’s important to understand that you have to impress everyone you meet in this industry and, when asked to do something, do it right away and do it to the absolute best of your abilities,” said Gray. “I think that’s very important as you think about getting into the industry.”

For more information on Niagara University’s College of College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, please call 716.286.8279 or visit www.niagara.edu/hospitality.

Greg Jubert, PRSSN

PRSSN Supports Our Veterans

Members of the Public Relations Student Society of Niagara (PRSSN) raised awareness of the Women in the Military event that took place on Thursday, Nov. 10 by honoring veterans in the Gallagher Center on Niagara University’s campus. The event involved a presentation on the history of women in the military which was followed by a panel discussion with four female veterans. It was sponsored by The Women’s Committee and the Office of Veteran Services.

PRSSN handed out free pastries and desserts for any student, faculty or staff member that wrote down on a card why they were thankful for veterans. Over 100 cards were filled out with responses varying from being thankful for their sacrifice to appreciating them fighting for America’s freedom. The plan is for the cards to be put into multiple “thank you books” that will be distributed to veteran organizations around the Niagara Falls community.

“It is a small way to show veterans we appreciate them on a daily basis and not just Veteran’s day,” Jamie Magone, former PRSSN Vice President, said. “It is important to PRSSN to get involved in the community and help make someone’s day better. A veteran came up and thanked us for doing this, but really more of N.U. should be thanking him.”

Magone went on to explain that he has been involved in the club since it started last Fall semester. He enjoys the work that members get involved with and thinks it is great hands on public relations experience. His favorite event is the “Meet the Professionals Night” that takes place in the Spring with over 10 professionals who come and speak to students about their experience in the field.

PRSSN is a club on campus focused on promoting organizations or events for on and off campus clients. They have promoted events like the Black Student Union Conference, Take Back the Night and Walk for Niagara, as well as making promotional material for not-for-profits like Heart, Love and Soul and the Lions Club. Right now, they are working with the Communication Studies department on recruiting incoming freshman as well as promoting the Polar Plunge for Olcott Lions Club.

Jen Gallo, PRSSN President