Sep. 18—PLATTSBURGH — Building good relationships in the neighborhood is the mission of SUNY Plattsburgh's Community Night at the Pond.
"The Community Night was something that we did at the college in previous years," Brittany Varin, project coordinator for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, said.
"With COVID it took a backseat unfortunately, so now we are finally having another Community Night just to bring together the campus, city and town communities because it's important to build those relationships. That's the core mission of this evening to just build relationships. Have conversations, connect over good food and good people of this community."
Attendees received welcome bags from the Adirondack Coast, and then they could sink into a child's pose as yoga kicked off the 2021 fall festival.
Speakers included President Alexander Enyedi; Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dr. Michelle Cromwell; Student Association President Ahmed Metwaly, and Plattsburgh State alums City of Plattsburgh Mayor Chris Rosenquest and Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Michael Cashman.
MOMENT OF SILENCE
"We have much to celebrate, but I also want to acknowledge the tragic loss of an important member of our community, Lt. Robert Mesec," Enyedi said.
"Lt. Mesec served our Plattsburgh community for 21 years, both as an officer and as a Lt. And those of you who knew him, his gentle disposition was appreciated by all who worked with him, particularly the students that worked with Lt. Mesec in the evening hours. I'm talking about the late evening hours. As Michelle has done, we appreciate the acknowledgment and the moment of silence to honor the work and the dedication of Lt. Mesec."
Mesec, 44, died Thursday in a motorcycle crash on Interstate 81, according to Pennsylvania State Police.
Metwaly, a junior majoring in management information systems and accounting, also offered up a moment of silence for the late Mesec as well as recapping a very long and challenging year.
"It's been a challenging time with COVID," he said.
"We lost a lot of people, good people. It's good to be back. We're doing our best. I think if anything, it's showing how strong our spirit is. All of us, either in the Plattsburgh community or beyond. The strongest people I've seen to go through what we've gone through."
The in-person outdoor event offered children's activities, Mingle Bingo, and dance performances by student groups, including Jedi, Phi Beta Sigma, Club Caribbean and Spicy IslandTings.
Attendees could get their eat on at food trucks from Lomelli's, The Dog Father, and The Frosty Cow.
Local vendors and organizations included the City of Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh House of Prayer, Gem Goddess Emporium, and the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association.
"Because this event is put on by our division, the division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion we luckily have worked with a lot of different departments and volunteers within the campus community and external community," Varin said.
"We have about 27 student club tables, so organizations offering information and showing the community what they are about and we then we have external vendors as well," Varin said.
Tabling the Literature Club was Nina Serafini, a junior majoring English language arts, English writing arts and English Literature, and Caroline Miner, a senior, majoring in English writing arts, English literature and professional writing certificate.
"We just like to have a good time of reading outside of academic reading," Serafini said.
"We pick a book that all of us seem to have an interest in and we read a chapter or two at each of our meetings and we just talk about it. We get through the book if we have enough time. It's just a good time to have our passion for reading but not be graded for it."
Shelby Disla, vice president of Fuerza, joined other club members who wore red T-shirts in solidarity.
"We are the Black and Latinx Student Union Club, but it's all inclusive to anyone," said the junior majoring in communication studies with a double minor in gender & women studies and social justice.
"To join the club, you don't have to Black or Latinx because if you're not Black or Latinx you are still as important to any type of conversation within the Black and Latinx community. We keep it fun, but we also keep it educational."
Nearby, Charles Spence, a grad student pursing studies in education and history, mingled with his frat brothers also decked in blue and white.
Spence is the treasurer of the Gamma Sigma Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma at Plattsburgh State.
"We're here just to show more awareness to who we are as individuals," Spence said.
"We call ourselves groundbreaking because we are a new organization on campus, particularly of the Divine Nine new organizations. We're coming in just to bring a whole new light to brotherhood, mentorship, scholarship and service."
The evening concluded by a lantern lit Community Building Ceremony.
"It's going to be acknowledging the hardships of COVID-19, what we've all experienced, but also putting forth hope for the new semester and the new year," Varin said.
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