Sociology Film & Speaker Series Features “The Isis Trial- No History of Violence”

Last Wednesday evening, the Maloney Great Room was filled to near capacity as students and faculty came out to attend The Sociology Film & Speaker Series. This segment of the series featured a film screening of the documentary The Isis Trial-No History of Violence by filmmaker Ellie Bernstein. The film followed the journey of a group of young American-Somali boys, all with no history of violence, who were convicted of terrorism in 2016. After the screening, attendees held a lively discussion with expert panelists about their own experiences with preemptive arrest and imprisonment. 

The event was opened up by Tarik Shah playing the base as the audience situated themselves for the evening. Once the film began, the room grew silent as the story of controversial FBI investigations on Somali Americans unfolded. The main focus points of the documentary included the backstories of the individuals that were arrested, how community efforts to decrease ISIS affiliations were flawed, and an analysis of the tactics used by the FBI throughout the case.   

Starting off the discussion was attorney Steve Downs of Project Salaam who has a great deal of experience dealing with such cases. He gave the audience a brief overview of what preemptive arrest and imprisonment looks like from a wider legal context. This idea of being arrested without committing a crime is not new to panelist Abu Horayra Hossain whose father was preemptively arrested when he was just a child. Similarly to the Somali boys presented in the film, Abu expressed that, in his dad’s case, “There was not really any evidence because he never really did anything.” Both Steve Downs and Abu Horaya Hossain provided the crowd a small look into the issue of Muslim Americans being targets for being accused, investigated, and incarcerated without committing any crimes. 

Set up in an FBI sting operation, the next panelist, Tarik Shah, spent 13 years in prison after being convicted of conspiring to provide aid to a terrorist group. He discussed the horrors of living in solitary confinement such as always being under surveillance and enduring freezing cold temperatures in his cell. Expressing that he never had any intent to join a terrorist organization and was a victim of entrapment, Tarik noted that he is not bitter about his wrongful conviction. He wants to see a change in what is occurring and stated that “Change can only happen through a lot of brave people.” 

The director and producer of the film herself, Ellie Bernstein, was also on the panel but made it clear that she wanted the real-life experiences of the other speakers to take priority. She did conclude the night by letting the audience know that how completely daunting the specific case showcased in her documentary still feels to her to this day. 

If you missed out on the Sociology Film & Speaker Series and have an interest in the criminal justice system, human rights, or community development, I highly recommend checking out the film The Isis Trial-No History of Violence. Co-sponsors for this event were the Sociology Department & Criminal Justice minor, the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center, The Fair Trade and Social Justice Committee, the School of Liberal Arts, the Education Department, and the Multicultural Studies Minor.

Developing Your Career Over Winter Break

Students have approximately five weeks away from Siena coming up. Yes, that means it will be a month of having to open doors for ourselves. 

I cherish my time off from coursework. After losing a decent amount of sleep throughout the semester, I make sure to catch up on all of my rest during the first week of winter break. However, after sleeping for a week straight, I am ready to do everything that I don’t have time for while classes are in session.

With little time to do so during the semester, here are a few ways you can develop your career over winter break:

1. Don’t 

I was not joking about sleeping for a week straight. Students spend 15 weeks each semester working diligently to balance courses, jobs, internships, clubs, organizations, sports teams, etc. We NEED to take time to relax on break. Get enough rest, spend time with loved ones, and do whatever else it is that makes you feel at ease. If you want to work on developing your future, you need to first take care of yourself in the present.

2. Volunteer 

Organizations are always looking for new volunteers, especially around the holidays. Volunteering can serve as a way to give back to a community or to help the less fortunate. In the process, volunteering can also help you develop skills that are often sought after by employers. Many volunteer positions include collaborating with a team, managing limited time and resources, and communicating effectively to complete a task. Helping out at a local organization this break can help you support those in need while gaining valuable skills and building up your resume in the process.

3. Create or Update your Resume 

If you can before break, make an appointment with the Career Education and Professional Development (CEPD) office on CareerSaint. Whether you are making your first resume or just looking to update your existing one, the CEPD office can help! You can take the notes from your appointment home with you and implement them into your resume during break. If you are unable to make an appointment, use the CEPD’s resume section in the 2019-2020 Career Guide as a template for improving your resume from home.

4. Apply for Spring and Summer Internships

One of the most important aspects of preparing yourself for a career is having internships. Internships are a great way to network, learn how to navigate a specific work environment, and to figure out if the career path you are on is right for you. Login into CareerSaint to see what recent postings there are for upcoming positions that spark your interest. Applying for internships can be a little time consuming, depending on the company. Some employers require your resume, a cover letter, a writing sample, a separate application, and more to apply. Completing internship applications during break is a great way to plan for your future career without having the stress of coursework distracting you. Visit the Internship Programs page to learn more about applying for internships.

5. Search for or Apply to Graduate Schools

If you are considering continuing your education, use winter break as a way to get ahead and to get organized! If you are still on the fence about going on to graduate studies, check LinkedIn to see the education level of individuals currently holding the job you want. If you are sure you want to go to grad school, but not sure which school is best for you, try using Peterson’s or The Princeton Review to compare programs! If you are a senior like myself, this break will serve as a time to finally send out applications if you haven’t already. All grad programs are different and can require different materials for applicants to provide. A spreadsheet can serve as a helpful tool to organize what each application requires. 

After you have recovered from the demands of the semester, be productive this winter break. You will thank yourself in the future for taking the time to put work into your career goals. Above all else, remember to take care of yourself first this break, Saints!

Ms. Magazine Publishes Article by McKenna Donegan ’21

McKenna Donegan, a junior Political Science major and Pre-Law certificate student, recently had an article she wrote featured in Ms. Magazine. Her piece “Ranked Choice Voting Would Help Women Candidates in New York City- and Across the Country” delves into the research-based impacts that a ranked-choice vote election could have for candidates. Through her current participation in American University’s Washington Semester Program as an intern for RepresentWomen, McKenna has been researching the structural reform. 

RepresentWomen is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research hub that works to increase women’s representation in elected office and advocates for systemic reforms to the recruitment process, voting systems, and legislative practices. Since September, McKenna has been in Washington D.C interning and familiarizing herself with past research that the advocacy group has produced. “On Monday, November 4th, I was asked by my supervisor Courtney Lamendola and RepresentWomen Executive Director Cynthia Richie Terrell to write a short article about ranked-choice voting and how it helps women candidates, because the next day, New York City was voting on whether or not to adopt the measure” McKenna explained. 

With only a day before NYC voters would start arriving at the polls, McKenna quickly got to work. After leaving her internship that day, McKenna received an email from her supervisor stating that she thought the article was great and that she wanted to send it in to Ms. Magazine for publication. On November 5th, the same day that 73% of NYC voters said “Yes” to bringing ranked-choice voting to various elections, McKenna’s article was published. 

McKenna shared that what helped her most in composing her piece was a study done by RepresentWomen in 2016 that focused on women and people of color running for office in the California Bay Area after implementing ranked-choice voting. “This study was very helpful when I was writing the article because it showed that after the implementation of RCV, the California Bay Area saw an increase in the number of women and people of color running and winning local elective office.” In her article, McKenna further explains this shift, writing that “…the percentage of candidates of color for local elective office increased by 5 percentage points after the implementation of ranked-choice voting. To put this into perspective, neighboring cities that had not implemented RCV only saw a 0.3 percent increase in the number of candidates of color who ran for local elected office.” 

In reference to the publication of her piece and her research internship, McKenna expressed that “It was a great experience and one that I would have never had if it weren’t for the (American University’s) Washington Semester Program.” McKenna’s full article in Ms. Magazine can be found here. Congratulations on this awesome accomplishment, McKenna! 

First Generation in College at Siena

As I prepare to enter last semester of undergrad, I still struggle to articulate my experience as a first-generation college student.

Overwhelmed by the memories of the past 3 and a half years as I type this, I am still unable to fully understand most of it. I cannot fathom the idea of standing in front of a filled classroom and speaking on the feelings of isolation, loneliness, and desperation I endured as a first-year student. To explain this commonly shared experience of first-gen students and then to follow it up the reassurance that it all ends up alright still seems like a far-fetched idea.

Somehow, Dr. Stacey Dearing of the English department did just that last Wednesday night.

The annual “First Generation in College at Siena” discussion series invites a faculty member to reflect on what it was like to be a first generation college student. As noted by Dr. Todd Synder, one of the professors who facilitates the event, “The series was established so that students at Siena who are the first in their family to go to college can get a sense that there are a lot of faculty members that come from similar backgrounds.” Dr. Stacey Dearing was selected this year to tell her story of going from being the first person in her family to attend college to earning her PhD in 2018.

Dr. Dearing discussed what life was like growing up in a working-class family in a small city in Michigan. She shared that her mother became chronically ill when she was young and that her father was constantly working trade jobs to support their family. She noted that at a young age, she learned how to do various household chores to take care of herself and family members.

When it came time for Dr. Dearing to attend college, she could not afford her first choice school. Instead, she chose a small-liberal arts college that provided her enough scholarships to attend. Her first year at college was… less than ideal. “It was not fine. It was terrible” as Dr. Dearing described it. During this time, she struggled with homesickness, isolation, and reaching out for help. While her parents were supportive, she felt that because they had not gone to college, there was no way they could understand what she was going through. She still regrets expressing that sentiment to her mother to this day.

“The weird thing about all of this is that while I was crying all the time and super miserable, classes were going fine.” Dr. Dearing explained that, while she was deeply struggling to adjust to college life, she found salvation in her classes. Through her love of English and history courses, she eventually found professors that acted as her mentors. Also through her academic passions, Dr. Dearing was able to find supportive peers who shared similar interests. With the right people by her side, Dr. Dearing was able to make it through not only undergraduate studies, but also a Master’s degree and a PhD program.

Dr. Dearing left the audience with ways to manage the emotional difficulties of being a first-gen student. These included accepting offers of friendship, talking with professors you trust about the hardships, and, asking someone for help. Looking back, I wish my 18-year-old self had utilized any of these tips in coping with the transition into college.

More importantly, I wish a faculty member had told me, as Dr. Dearing told the audience Wednesday night, that “It gets better. It all ends up ok.”

Faculty Research Symposium Highlights Professor Karin Lin-Greenburg

On the afternoon of Monday, October 28th, Siena’s School of Liberal Arts hosted its annual Faculty Research Symposium. The event serves as a celebration of faculty members’ accomplishments post their return from sabbatical. Sharing one of her stories, “Housekeeping”, from a collection of short stories she recently completed, titled “Lost or Damaged”, was Associate Professor of English, Karin Lin-Greenburg

Before sharing her work with the audience, Professor Lin-Greenburg provided background on how her surroundings have influenced her writing. She explained that, in her recent collection, all of the short stories take place in the Capital Region as she has lived here since she began teaching at Siena in 2012. “One of the things that has been great for me with my job at Siena is that is has allowed me to settle down in one place and to use that place as the setting for my stories” she expressed.

Besides geographically, the stories in her collection are connected through “acts of unkindness”, as Professor Lin-Greenburg put it, and focus often on conflicts between women. “In the stories, I try to show the motivations for the characters’ actions” she stated in discussing how she hopes listeners can perceive problematic characters as sometimes sympathetic or rounded. The stories in the collection combine lost or damaged characters (hence the title) with a sense of humor to better understand the heavy topics.

I won’t give any spoilers, but once Professor Lin-Greenburg began reading “Housekeeping”, it was clear to see that the main character was a perfect example of the noted “problematic-yet-sympathetic” character. The story focuses on two sisters living in upstate New York whose modest lives get turned upside down after the suicide of a celebrity in their small town. The younger sister is extremely bright but tends to also be pessimistic and critical of her legal guardian/ older sister. The older sister continuously sacrifices her own wants and needs to meet those of her little sister.

Professor Lin-Greenburg decided to share “Housekeeping” to read not only because it was the first story she wrote while on sabbatical, but also because it was recently accepted by The Southern Review. The literary journal has been a favorite of Professor Lin-Greenburg’s for over a decade and after hearing many “no”’s from them in the past, she was excited to finally hear a “yes”.

Once Professor Lin-Greenburg had finished reading “Housekeeping”, she was met with the applause of the audience. After attendees had their apple cider and cider donuts (perfect for the story’s upstate NY setting) on their way out, the Faculty Research Symposium came to an end. If you are interested in other upcoming SOLA events, be sure to check out this week’s Greyfriar Living Literature Series featuring fiction author Jaimee Wriston Colbert. Visit our Facebook page, @sienalibarts, for more info!

“Echoes of my Mind” Opening Reception

Siena’s various departments consistently invite engaging and entertaining guests to campus. Between performances, discussions, workshops, etc., special visitors are always appreciated in sharing new experiences and knowledge with the campus community. However, when an event is solely based on the creative accomplishments of someone from our campus, there is a communal sense of pride that comes along with the entertainment. This past Wednesday, Sergio Sericolo of Siena’s Marketing and Communications Office, showcased his artistic abilities and was met with the amazement of faculty and students alike.

The “Echoes of My Mind” art exhibition’s opening ceremony encouraged guests to enjoy mixed media artworks and to meet the artist, Sergio Sericolo, himself. Outside of being an art director for Siena’s Marketing and Communications Office and an adjunct drawing and painting instructor on campus, Sericolo is also an experienced exhibiting artist. With all of his Siena involvement in mind, it only seems fitting for his work to be shared right here on campus. In Yates Gallery, located on the second floor of the Standish Library, attendees were invited to refreshments as they enjoyed the afternoon. Sericolo was present during the event and freely engaged with guests as they moved from throughout the exhibition. 

“In my work, I incorporate pictures taken from anatomy, biology, and other natural history texts and books” Sericolo included in his displayed artist statement. He focused on layering his work to give more texture and depth to the pieces. He went on to explain that he “begin(s) each work with no plan, no preconceived notion of how the final product might look.” With themes in mind but no set plan for how his art might turn out, Sericolo was able to create pieces that could both stand on their own and complement one another in a collective display. 

Sericolo’s pieces embodied so much detailing that the longer I viewed them, the more complex the stories they told became. I had to make a few rounds of all of the displayed pieces to fully take in the unique the elements in each one. A few notable themes throughout the exhibition were human anatomy and nature, which seemed to be used to create completely new narratives. In many of his pieces, Sericolo utilized contrasting black and white patterns with bold colors to act as either the centerpiece or border of the piece. His use of pictures from textbooks humanized the work while still leaving it very abstract. Sericolo best expressed his work in the final line of his artist statement as a “natural abstraction.”

If you missed out on the opening reception of the “Echoes of my Mind” art exhibition, don’t worry! Sericolo’s artwork will be on display now through the end of the semester in the Yates Galley in the Standish Library. And while the previously mentioned “communal sense of pride in a campus member’s accomplishments” won’t be in the air, Serigio Sericolo’s pieces are still breathtaking, nonetheless.

Recovering from Schedule-Overload

To say that I was overly ambitious entering senior year is an understatement. I’m no stranger to a jam-packed schedule, so I figured the final stretch of undergrad would be fairly manageable. I was excited to be taking on leadership roles in a few clubs, working nearly full-time hours, and having a 15 credit course load. It felt good reciting my schedule to friends and family, completely proud of myself for taking so much on.

Like many other students, I identify with being an overachiever and take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. Unfortunately, also like many of my peers, I was quickly introduced to my limits as the semester unfolded. I ended up feeling trapped in my schedule and was buried in the workload I was so proud to be taking on just a few weeks prior.

Digging your way out of the rubble that comes after an overloaded-schedule-meltdown is no easy task. You have to challenge yourself and most likely have to step outside of your comfort zone. Even though the recovery might be painful, the reward of less stress and more time to reflect is worth it. Here are steps to bouncing back after taking on too much in the beginning of the school year. 

Step 1: Sort out what matters the most 

Go through your schedule and determine what matters the most to you. Ranking the importance of each commitment might be helpful in this process. Question your motives along the way. Do you still find being part of that club rewarding? Has picking up extra shifts at work really been worth losing sleep? Did you give yourself any time during the week to attend office hours or visit the Writing Center for academic support? Before you can start cutting commitments off, it is crucial to think through why you are doing what you’re doing. Determine what actually is or isn’t worth a slot in your schedule. 

Step 2: Cut off what is least important

After prioritizing, it is time to let go of what no longer holds high enough importance in your schedule. For myself, this was easily the most challenging part of the process. The thought of letting down, friends, co-workers, or advisors terrified me. What’s important to remember here is that stretching yourself too thin hurts both yourself and the people counting on you. By cutting ties with a few commitments, you will be better able to manage the ones you deemed as most important. So type that email, explain that this is what is best for you right now, hit send, and take a breath. The worst part of schedule clean-up is over. 

Step 3: Stay committed to less commitments

Having free time is a necessary aspect of academic success and overall well-being for college students. With this in mind, that doesn’t mean I am any less of a serial schedule-filler than I was before. I needed to declutter my days, but every now and then I am tempted to fill my open time slots with new opportunities as they present themselves. For myself and anyone else in this position, the key is to stay focused on the priorities back in step one. Stay committed to your new core schedule. Instead of only giving a little bit of your energy to many commitments, give your all to your most valued few. 

As college students, it will always be tempting to load up our schedules to maximum capacity. How could we not want to? There are so many awesome opportunities everywhere we turn on campus. As we settle into midterm season, there is no better time to do some schedule decluttering.

In addition to these steps, utilizing on-campus resources can also beneficial in sorting out your commitments. Be sure to check in with the Career Center, Counseling Center, or School of Liberal Arts Office for additional advice in sorting out your workload. And most importantly, always remember to schedule time to take care of yourself first, Saints!

Fidel Castro’s Daughter Visits Campus

Alina Fernandez is one of the most well known Cuban anti-communist activists and a major critic of the Cuban government. She is also the daughter of the Cuban communist revolution leader and former ruler of the state, Fidel Castro. She is the niece of the current leader of Cuba, Raúl Castro, who took over political control of the nation after his brother’s death in April 2011. Since fleeing Cuba in 1993, Alina has been residing in the United States. On the evening of Monday, October 7th, she visited Siena to discuss her journey.

Sponsored by the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center, the Latinx Student Association, the multi-cultural studies minor, and the Diversity Action Committee, Alina was invited to campus as the Latinx Heritage Month Keynote Lecturer. President of the Latinx Student Association, Laura Rodriguez, had the honor of welcoming her to the stage. After taking the mic, Alina began telling the crowd the story of her life, growing up in the Cuban revolution. 

Alina spoke of her mother, Natalia Revuelta Clew,’s relationship with Castro as well as her marriage with her father, Dr. Orlando Fernandez. Well, step-father, as she would later explain. Natalia and Dr. Fernandez initially had a strong marriage and had a daughter together, Alina’s older sister. Alina’s mother became involved with the communist movement and held key roles in the initial rebel attacks in 1953. As leader of the rebels, Castro was incarcerated as a result of these attacks. He and Natalia wrote letters to one another for the entirety of his imprisonment. “How powerful a letter can be” Alina expressed as she believes that it was these letters that made her parents fall in love.  

She went on to explain that after being released from prison, Castro and Natalia would secretly meet with one another, as she was still married to Dr. Fernandez. Eventually, these meet-ups would lead to the conception of Alina. It would not be until Alina was ten years old that her mother would confess to her that Castro, and not Dr. Fernandez, was her real father. As Alina’s life was just beginning, as was the complete overthrow of the Cuban government. After Castro took control, the nation was torn.

“One morning, my sister wasn’t in her bed. And I was told they were traitors, worms. That’s what they called the Cubans that left the island.” As the revolution quickly progressed, Alina recalled how Dr. Fernandez and her sister fled Cuba after his private clinic was taken over by the rebels. She went on to explain that after Castro took control, private businesses, properties, hotels, and anything else considered to be capitalistic was invaded and destroyed. “Even Christmas was a capitalistic celebration, and like everything else, vanished.” Cuba fell apart as Alina grew up. She watched her favorite cartoons disappear and stared in confusion as Castro, the man who was always on her T.V screen, also regularly appeared in her mother’s home late at night. 

It wouldn’t be until Alina was well passed childhood that she could make her escape from Cuba. With the help of some friends in America and disguised as a Spanish traveler, Alina was able to flee from her homeland in December of 1993. She noted that just five years ago, she returned to Cuba for the first time since her escape and saw that there were small, yet positive, changes occurring. Just eight years ago, Cubans were not allowed to buy and sell homes and cars and could not use cell phones. Alina concluded by telling the crowd that today, the Cuban government now allows for all of this to take place and that she was pleased to see such progress.

Annual Clare Center Lecture Focuses on Relational Love in the Mayo Clinic

The 26th installment of the Clare Center Lecture Series brought Dr. Amy Koehlinger to campus on the evening of Wednesday, October 2nd. Each year, the lecture series aims to engage the Siena community in learning about a contemporary or historical aspect of the Franciscan tradition. This year’s lecture highlighted the Franciscan value of relational love in the developing of and revolutionary medical practices in the Mayo Clinic.

“I’m coming from Oregon so it may seem raining to you guys, but for me this is just an average Wednesday” Dr. Koehlinger joked about the dreary night as she began her presentation.  Dr. Koehlinger, an assistant professor of history and religious studies at Oregon State University, focuses her research on the culture of American Catholicism, the intersections of social reform and religion, and gender roles within American religious traditions. For her visit to Siena, it was only fitting that she discussed the historical connections between the  Franciscans and the Mayo clinic since the college announced it’s new dual-nursing program with Maria College last month.

As Dr. Koehlinger explained in her lecture, the Mayo Clinic is a premier medical center located in Rochester, Minnesota. While today it is currently ranked as the number 1 overall best hospital in the United States by the U.S News and World Report and is home to one of the top medical schools in the nation, the clinic had very humble beginnings. After a tornado struck the small town of Rochester, many individuals were left in need of immediate medical care. As they both realized their community was in desperate need of aid, a partnership between a physician William Mayo and Catholic nun Mother Mary Moes was born.

Dr. Mayo and Mother Mary Moes  would go on to lay the foundation for  “one of the most unexpected and enduring institutional partnerships in the American medical profession” as Dr. Koehlinger referred to it. The duo recruited local physicians and the sisters from Mother Moes convent and got to work healing their community members. Years later, Mother Moes and Dr. Mayo would go on to open up St. Mary’s Hospital, a Catholic facility fully staffed with Catholic sisters, but open to people from all religious backgrounds. 

“(The Franciscan  sisters) worked back-to -back shifts and slept on the floor when the hospital was filled to capacity, as it almost always was” Dr. Koehlinger stated. In her discussion, she explained that the sacrifices the sisters made were what made the hospital so revolutionary at the time. Patients were never turned away, measures to insure conditions were sanitary were being implemented like never before, and most importantly, the staff treated the entire being of a patient, not just the part of their body that most obviously needed care. Throughout the years, the Mayo Clinic never lost its core Franciscan values, as Dr. Koehlinger expressed in her closing. While eventually the nursing staff would no longer only be made up of  Franciscan sisters and the  Franciscans would let go of legal and financial control of the hospital all together, the core values that started it all still live on in the organization to this day.

Today, the Mayo Clinic has a sponsorship board dedicated to making sure that  Franciscan values are still embedded into every department. Dr. Koehlinger ended the 2019 Clare Lecture Lecture Series by telling the audience that the original  Franciscan values are still alive in the clinic as every new employee to asked to follow in the original sister’s footsteps by “treat(ing) every patient and every colleague with respect and dignity.” It was the Franciscan value of relational love that made the original medical partnership, the care patients received, and Mayo Clinic, so exceptional.

LGBTQ Discrimination and Sex Rights Discussed by Constitution Day Lecturer

On Monday, September 23rd, the Siena community came out to attend “Constitution Day 2019: Sex Rights and the Liquor of Bureaucracy” featuring guest lecturer, Dr. Anthony Michael Kreis. A national holiday, Constitution Day exists to commemorate the signing of the Constitution in September, 1787. Here on campus, Constitution Day serves as an annual opportunity to discuss a relevant concern regarding constitutional law. This year’s Constitution Day took on a question that has been recently creating turmoil in American legislation: who really is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? 

The discussion was opened by Professor of Political Science, Dr. Leonard Cutler. Dr. Cutler elaborated on the relevance of this year’s theme, “A few weeks ago, the Trump administration took it’s staunchest position to date in legalizing anti-gay discrimination..” he continued  “..when it asked the supreme court of the United States to declare that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act permits private companies to fire workers based on their sexual orientation.” 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. As explained by Dr. Cutler, the current presidential administration has taken on the stance that members of the LGBTQ community are not protected under Title VII in regards to private employers discriminatory practices. Following Dr. Cutler was Professor of Political Science, Dr. Jack Collens. Dr. Kreis and Dr. Collens attended graduate school together at the University of Georgia and after sharing his accolades with the crowd, it was time for Dr. Collens to invite Dr. Kreis to the stage. 

Dr. Anthony Michael Kreis currently teaches legal writing at Chicago-Kent College of Law. He authored the Illinois state law banning gay and transgender panic defenses in murder trials in 2017, which is the second of its kind in the U.S. Dr. Kreis opened by discussing how the accidental discovery of gay and lesbian bars during the Prohibition era sparked an ongoing dispute of the LGBTQ, immigrant, and working class communities versus American law-makers and private groups that wanted to maintain the social norms of pre-Industrial Revolution times. 

“If you had too many feminine men in your bar, they deemed it a place of disorderly conduct. And they put pressure on wholesalers to deny those establishments of liquor” Kreis stated. “In the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s the state said ‘If we see too many feminine men in a bar, we’re assuming it’s a gay bar and we’re shutting it down” he said about the determination if establishments could remain open post-prohibition. Basically, the battle between the LGBTQ community and American law-makers has been occurring for over a century.

At this point in the lecture, the question still remained, what does all of this mean for today’s concerns surrounding a new interpretation of Title VII? “The idea here is that you cannot discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation without also discriminating against them because of their sex.” He elaborated that the stereotypes surrounding gender roles used by employers to justify discriminatory practices against LGTBQ employees directly plays into sex discrimination. 

Dr. Kreis closed out his discussion by stating “Title VII is ultimately supposed to reflect our constitutional values and the law has been shaped by an understanding that sex stereotypes are dangerous..” Following the lecture, Dr. Kreis opened the floor for Q&A and soon after, Constitution Day 2019 came to an end. After all was said and done, attendees walked away from the event with a greater understanding on a topic that Dr. Kreis referred to as, currently, “the greatest civil rights case of our time.”