Cultural Awareness Presentation on the Refugee Experience

Last Friday, students and faculty gathered for a Cultural Awareness Presentation on “Understanding Refugee and Immigrant Students” on campus. The event featured representatives from “The Center”, a non-profit organization that offers resettlement resources to refugees in Utica, New York (aka my hometown and home of the world’s best pizza). Focal points on the discussion included an overview of how The Center supports refugees in their transition to a new culture, a real-life account of the relocation process, and how we as the American public can support refugees as they become part of our communities. 

Shana Pughe Dean, a translation and training manager from The Center, opened the discussion with the mission of the organization. “Our goal is to lead and build a community with many cultures, or our signature tagline is ‘many cultures one community’” she expressed. Pughe Dean explained that The Center, in its 41 years as a formal establishment, has examined what support systems refugees need outside of the core elements of relocating. “We offer interpreting, translation services, immigration and citizen assistance, we have employment opportunities, and also a traffic safety program.” Half of the staff at The Center are former refugees that came through the programs offered by the organization. Pughe Dead stated that her staff “understand the experience, but have also shown what it means to be willing to open your doors to people from other places.” The discussion emphasized how challenging the refugee experience can be, yet how positively refugees impact their communities and others going through the relocation process.

Following Shana Pughe Dean was Nan Han, a medical interpreter, college student, and former refugee from Burma. As a young child, Nan’s family fled from political persecution and lived in a refugee camp for 4 years. “Refugee camp was no joke, it was terrible. I don’t want anyone to have to stay there for the rest of their lives” she remarked. After years of waiting, Nan’s family was finally approved to start their new life in the city of Utica. As a non-English speaking elementary student from a family unaware of how to navigate the American education system, Nan was subject to bullying early on. She struggled to accumulate the to American culture. However, with aid from The Center and kindness from her some of peers, Nan was able to overcome adversity and helps other refugees today. 

Nan Han discussing her experiences as a refugee

Nan expressed that she and her family never wanted to be refugees and that they were forced into relocating. The hardships that she endured in having to learn a new language, culture, and way of life took years to overcome. She emphasized that when the community embraces refugees, it makes the massive transition much easier. When asked how people can act as advocates for refugees in their daily lives, Nan responded that we need to “just be kind”. 

The Cultural Awareness Presentation on “Understanding Refugee and Immigrant Students” was sponsored by First-Year Seminar, the Education Department, International Programs, the Franciscan Center, the Women’s Center, and the Damietta Center. If you want to learn more about the resources offered by The Center in Utica, be sure to visit their website. As always, follow our social media pages @sienaliberalarts to stay up-to-date on other events happening on campus!

“Oceans or Landfills?” Plastic Pollution Presentation with Expert Judith Enck

“Get active on these issues while you are still a college student” -Judith Enck

On the evening of Wednesday, February 12th, guests overfilled the Norm for “Oceans or Landfills? Moving Beyond Plastics”. The lecture featured Senior Fellow & Visiting Faculty member at Bennington College and Founder of Beyond Plastics at Bennington, Judith Enck. Judith delved into the dirty and devastating realities of the extreme increase of single-use plastic in the U.S over the past two decades. The presentation emphasized the urgency of this matter as the clock is ticking on how long the world still has to fix this issue. As Judith described the crisis, the Earth may be soon facing the irreversible effects of climate change and, at this point, “recycling is not the solution.” 

The event was sponsored by The Fair Trade & Social Justice Committee, CURCA, and The Stack Center and was opened by Dr. Vera Eccarius-Kelly of the political science department. Beyond Plastics at Bennington College in Vermont is an organization dedicated to ending plastic pollution through policy and societal change. During his presidency, Judith was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In this position, she was in charge of overseeing the environmental protection of various regions across the nation. Judith was also Deputy Secretary for the Environment in the NY Governor’s Office. 

Judith Enck with former U.S President Barack Obama

Through her discussion, Judith expressed concerns regarding the continued increase in plastic production. “8.8 million tons of plastic enter our oceans every year” she noted. In explaining this unimaginable amount, Judith helped the audience conceptualize how generating this much pollution has been possible. A timely phenomenon, she stated that half of all plastic that has ever existed has been produced in just the past two decades. Judith indicated that the millions of tons of plastic in the ocean are not going away or even decreasing anytime soon with this rate of increase in plastic production. Furthermore, she noted that plastic in landfills will remain there until they begin to breakdown after roughly 500 years.

Judith explaining plastic pollution in oceans

At this point, the audience was left to wonder, what can we do to stop plastic pollution? Judith’s answer- produce less plastic. 

While she drove-home the point that this issue requires significant systemic and policy changes, there are ways that individual consumers can help. Judith urged the crowd to partake in eliminating what she referred to as the “Plastic Trifecta”, or single-use plastic straws, bags, and polystyrene, in their everyday lives. While it may seem like a small effort, Judith emphasized that change in plastic pollution can occur when a lot of people get on-board. Substantial progress can occur if the masses begin to reduce their daily plastic consumption.


Judith Enck closed out this event optimistically in saying she is “hopeful for the future because people are paying attention.” If you missed “Oceans or Landfills? Moving Beyond Plastic” be sure to check out the Beyond Plastics website for more information on the organization and how you can make a difference in ending plastic pollution. As always, be sure to stay up-to-date with what’s happening on campus by following Siena’s SOLA InstagramTwitter, and Facebook pages! Hope to see you at the next event, Saints!

Spring 2020 Career Fair: Let’s Prep!

We are only three weeks out from Siena’s Spring 2020 Career, Internship, and Graduate School Fair. Whether you are a first-year student exploring career options, a sophomore or junior hoping to land an internship, or a senior applying to jobs and grad school, get excited for all of the opportunities the fair has to offer! If you are at all nervous about attending, check out these pre-career fair events. These events are designed to help diminish any nerves and to get you career fair ready.

Before you do anything else, let’s register! Don’t worry, it only takes a minute. Log into Career Saint, click on the “Events” tab located on the left-hand side of the screen and select “Spring Career Fair”. Proceed by clicking on “ 17th Annual Spring Career, Internship & Graduate School Fair 2020” and then hit “RSVP”. Now you are good to go! If you forget to register by the deadline, Wednesday, Feb. 19th, don’t worry! You can still partake as a walk-in. Ok, now onto the pre-fair prep events. 

Resume Critique 

Have your resume critiqued by professionals before handing it out to potential employers! On Feb. 19th from 12-2 pm, the Foy Hall Lobby is the spot to gain outside perspective on your current resume. The Resume Critique Hour also gives students the opportunity to make a good first impression with employers before the career fair even begins. If you can’t make it to the Resume Critique Hour, be sure to check out the CEPD’s office’s weekly drop-in schedule so that you can get your resume reviewed in time for the fair!

Dress for Success

As an underclassman, I did not own a single article of clothing that would pass as business professional attire. I didn’t even know what a business professional outfit really looked like. If you can at all relate, attend the Dress for Success Fashion Show on Feb. 19th at 9 pm in the SSU conference room. At the show, watch students and faculty model business-appropriate attire and get inspiration for your own career fair look. Can’t attend the fashion show? Check out this Siena Her Campus article where Emily Roehl ‘15 provides some helpful tips on how to dress to impress employers. 

Stand Out!

Stand out from your peers by brushing up on your career search knowledge on Feb. 24th in the Standish Library, room L26. During free period, employers will be present to provide resume, job search, and general professional advice that has helped them in their own careers. Not only will you improve your own professional abilities, but this event also serves as a great way to become more comfortable speaking with business professionals.

In addition to attending these events, don’t forget to check out the official Spring 2020 Career, Internship, and Graduate School Fair list of attending organizations prior to the fair. The career fair is on Wednesday, February 26th from 12 pm-4 pm in the MAC and after polishing up on your professional skills at the prep-events, you will be ready to meet your future employer. We hope to see you there, Saints! 

The Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY Brings “The Niceties” to Campus

Welcome back, Saints! As the Spring semester starts to unfold, the Creative Arts Department is already bringing new theatrical experiences to campus. 

This past weekend, the Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY presented The Niceties, a play by Eleanor Burgess, directed by Jean-Remy Monnay, and assistant directed by Steph Saint Germain, in Foy Hall’s Beaudoin Theater. The troupe is dedicated to promoting artists of color through the performance of theatrical pieces. Through their work, the Black Theatre Troupe aims to generate a greater understanding, appreciation, and participation in the performing arts within communities of color. 

As Siena enters our 3rd Annual MLK Week, the performance served as an emotional and thought-provoking kick-off to the week’s scheduled events. Dealing with race, American history, issues of social injustices, and politics all within the walls of a professor’s office, The Niceties captures the drastic differences in perception between a White Ivy League professor and her highly-motivated Black student. Comprised of both Siena students and faculty as well as local community members, the audience could not turn away from the mesmerizing performances of the show’s stars; Monet Thompson & Christina Reeves. 

The Niceties takes place solely in a casual office hours meeting of a history professor (Christina Reeves) and her student, Zoe (Monet Thompson). After reading over Zoe’s paper on the American Revolution, her professor provides Zoe some simple grammatical feedback. However, the tension between the two builds as the professor proceeds to question Zoe’s sources, thesis, and eventually, her mentality regarding race and American history. Zoe stands by her thesis, arguing with the claims that her professor makes. The audience was on the edge of their seats, watching closely as the intensified situation turned into chaos. I will refrain from spoiling anything, but I will say that both the professor’s and Zoe’s lives were forever changed in the end.

Although showings of The Niceties are over on campus, the Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY does have other productions, such as The Meeting, Camp Logan, and The Mountaintop, coming up soon. Anyone interested in seeing what other performances the group has to offer can find upcoming events on their website.

If you missed out on The Niceties, keep up to date with all of the other Creative Arts Department’s Spring semester events as they are sure to be just as entertaining! Make sure the check out our School of Liberal Arts’ Facebook page to stay updated on the MLK Week events as they occur from January 29th through February 5th! 

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.

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.”

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.”

Siena Holds 6th Annual Hip-Hop Week

From Monday March 18th to Friday March 22nd, 2019, Siena celebrated its sixth annual Hip-Hop Week, a week-long celebration of the social and cultural impacts of the music genre. The week is coordinated by the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center and Dr. Todd Snyder, associate professor of English, as well as the professor of a popular, upper-level writing class, “Rhetoric(s) of Hip-Hop.”

Hip-Hop Week kicked off on Monday with a visit from hip-hop pioneer, Biz Markie. Born Marcel Theo Hall but better known by his stage name, Markie has been working in the music industry for over thirty years and is well-known for his unique musical style, beatboxing skills, and DJ performances, as well as a brief dabbling in an acting career. When he took the stage in the Sarazen Student Union on Monday, he performed his hit single from 1989, “Just a Friend” and the audience sang loudly along to the familiar song. 

In Dr. Snyder’s introduction, he proudly shared that Siena is “the only college in the United States of America that has an annual Hip-Hop Week.” The event has become a staple not only in the Siena community but in the larger Capital Region, as Markie’s visit drew an impressive crowd of students, faculty, and community members. Dr. Snyder then lead a Q&A with Markie, asking about his initial interests in the hip-hop genre, as well as some of his personal influences with music. Markie was an engaging speaker, and his entertainer personality shown through in his responses; he would beatbox throughout his answers and crack jokes with the audience.

The events of the week also featured Hip-Hop Karaoke on Wednesday night, where students could win prizes by performing and dressing as their favorite artists, as well as a Hip-Hop Trivia Night on Thursday. This Friday March 22nd, Hip-Hop Week will conclude with “Expozé: Evolution of Hip-Hop” at 7:30pm, presented by Siena College’s Black & Latino Student Union. The event is a talent showcase that will feature a number of performances by Siena’s dance clubs. Tickets cost $3 for Siena students & faculty and $5 for outside guests, and all proceeds will be donated to the Coalition for Homeless Youth. 

Hip-Hop Week is sponsored by the Black & Latino Student Union, the Diversity Action Committee, Damietta-Cross Cultural Center, the English Department, Greyfriar Living Literature Series, Community Living, and Student Activities & Leadership Development.

If you’re interested in reading more about Markie’s visit, I covered his performance and keynote lecture in the 3/29 issue of The Promethean, which can be read here.