December 15, 2015

Hate Crime Forum a Success

Layla Abdullah-Poulos, president of the college's Minority Students in Action club, with Deputy Inspector Mark Magrone, commander of the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force, left, and Sergeant Kevin Lonergan, right, at the college's recent forum on hate crime.
Layla Abdullah-Poulos, president of the Minority Students in Action club, joins Deputy Inspector Mark Magrone, commander of the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force, left, and Sgt. Kevin Lonergan, right, at the college’s recent forum on hate crime.

Nearly 60 students, faculty, staff and guests participated in the college’s recent forum on hate crime.

Deputy Inspector Mark Magrone, commanding officer of the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force, explained the nature of a hate crime: “You are targeted for who you are, for your identity.”

Magrone was joined on the panel of experts by New York City Public Advocate Leticia James, who also is an adjunct faculty member of the college’s Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies, and Lisa Whiteside, a retired city Department of Correction officer, who also is an instructor at the college.

“Ignorance is a significant problem within our society, and it worsens when you are behind bars,” said Whiteside.

“Unfortunately we are witnesses to greater violence and discrimination in our society against people who are different,” said James, who attributed this type violence and discrimination to factors such as ignorance and manufactured hysteria.

The forum on hate crime, which took place at the college’s Manhattan location on Nov. 16, was sponsored by the college’s Labor Center and the Human Services Collaborative, a student club co-chaired by Tanya Thompson ‘14, an alumna who is working to complete her master’s degree in education, and Diana Ascensio, an undergraduate student studying Community and Human Services. Additional support for the forum was provided by the student club Empire State College Education for All.

“The forum was very informative and validating,” said Layla Abdullah-Poulos ‘10, an alumna, graduate student and president of the club Minority Students in Action. “Deputy Inspector Mark Magrone conveyed the importance of ‘predictability,’ which is the rightful expectation that every person has to be able to ‘walk down the street and feel safe’ and ‘identity predictability,’ which is the right to walk down the street, dressed how you want to, and feel safe.”

Abdullah-Poulos also posted her images and video of the forum to the MSiA website and on YouTube.

The forum is another example of how the college’s students organize and work through their clubs to engage with faculty and staff, as well as community activists, government officials and others from outside the college, to provide a platform for consciousness-raising dialogues throughout the college community and beyond.

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