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  Issue Number 11 • Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021  


Campus Champion

Alfred “Fredo” Robertson is president of Know Your Roots (KYR), a student organization dedicated to connecting Black history with current world issues to empower and educate. He learned about KYR as a freshman, committed to a double major in Africana studies and mass media communications and found his voice. Alfred is an accomplished and inspirational speaker, musician and collaborator. He’s performed at past Afro Essence events and will co-chair this year’s celebration of Black consciousness and unity beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25 via Webex. Despite COVID limitations, the music, art and poetry will honor the achievements and talents of SUNY Cortland’s underrepresented students.   

Nominate a Campus Champion

Tuesday, Feb. 23

Black History Month Event: R & B 'n Paint, presented by the Black Student Union, online via Webex, 5 p.m.

Alumni Speakers Series: English/Professional Writing panel discussion, sponsored by Alumni Engagement and Career Services, register on Red Dragon Network, 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 24

Convergence of the BSUs: Discussing PWI Cultures from the Perspective of Black Students, online via Webex, 6 p.m.

Internship Info Session: Sponsored by Career Services, online via Handshake, 7 to 8 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 25

Sandwich Seminar: Quota System: (In)Justice in America, panel presentation, online via Webex Link, meeting number: 132 254 9039, password: Quota, noon to 1 p.m.

Conversation: Elders in Prison and the Impact of COVID, online via Zoom, meeting ID: 951 620 9351, passcode: 98765, 3 to 4 p.m.

Black History Month Event: Afro-Essence, presented by Know Your Roots and Black Student Union, online via WebEx Link  meeting number: 132 251 0189, password: Weyk7Gc7FP6, 7 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 26

Faculty Workshop: Racial Justice at SUNY Cortland: Our Stories, Our Solutions, RSVP, 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Black History Month Workshop: Afro-Fusion Dance, online via Zoom, meeting ID: 844 2721 0495, passcode: 082674, 5 p.m.

Psychic Fair: Students will sign up online to participate; to have five-minute session with a psychic through Zoom, Link to Register, 6 to 10 p.m.

Tuesday, March 2

Diversity in Sports Management Alumni Panel: Six alumni will share how their employers embrace diversity, online via Webex, meeting number: 132 137 6306, password: TcM7cVC7ym3, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, March 3

Voices of Diversity Panel collaboration with Alumni Engagement: Online via Webex, register, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Spring Career Fair: Online via Handshake, 1 to 4 p.m.

Intro to Handshake and LinkedIn - A Virtual/Online Workshop: Join the Webex meeting on the afternoon of the workshop, 4 to 5 p.m.

Wellness Wednesday: Hazing: The Fallout, presented by Travis Apgar, 7:30 p.m., read more

Friday, March 5

TransAction Conference: Presenting the needs and experiences of transgender and gender queer students in the college environment, online registration, 9:10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with keynote speaker Harrison Browne presenting from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 6

Men of Color Student Leadership Summit: Third annual event on the topic Self-Worth, Self-Value, Self-Care, keynote speaker is Brian Heat, Registration is free, 12:30 to 4:45 p.m. 

SAB Make a Sequin Pillow: Sign up online to participate then visit Corey Union’s Information Desk during your scheduled time to pick up the supplies, 6 to 9 p.m.

Monday, March 8

Paint and Sip Mondays: Join Pride Club and create works of art. Join online event, 7 to 8:30 p.m.

An Evening with Leslie David Baker: Join SAB for a night of questions and answers with “The Office” star. DM @cortlandsab with questions for the Q&A, online, 8 to 9 p.m.

Tuesday, March 9

Wellness Day: Campus-wide and online events scheduled. Stay tuned to Cortland Connect, the campus calendar and Cortland Nites on Instagram for the latest information.

SUNYAC resuming intercollegiate athletics for spring season


SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras and the presidents of the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) have approved the resumption of intercollegiate athletics for the 2021 spring sports season. The league’s 2020-21 fall and winter seasons were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The spring sports sponsored by the SUNYAC include baseball, softball, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field and women’s tennis. SUNY Cortland also plans on competing this spring in women’s golf, although that sport competes in the Northeast Women’s Golf Conference. The SUNYAC consists of 10 institutions — Brockport, Buffalo State, Cortland, Fredonia, Geneseo, New Paltz, Oneonta, Oswego, Plattsburgh and Potsdam. Morrisville State is an affiliate member of the league for field hockey and men’s ice hockey, but no spring sports.

“The pandemic has kept our student athletes off the playing field for too long, but thanks to the great work and effort of SUNYAC Commissioner (Tom) DiCamillo, our campus presidents, the SUNYAC leadership, athletic directors, coaches and our athletes, we’ve developed a workable plan to resume athletic competition at SUNY,” said Malatras. “I look forward to all of the great competition this year, and SUNY, like always, will aggressively handle any situations related to COVID as they emerge. I have confidence in our students—both on and off the field—to stay the course and comply to keep one another and our entire campuses and communities safe.” 

“We are certainly excited and pleased to hear this officially,” said Cortland Director of Athletics Mike Urtz ’94, M ‘00. “We have been waiting with bated breath for some time. There was always that hope that we could play this spring, but to hear it officially is a real sense of relief. I’m just really happy for the student-athletes and the coaches. This is the right thing to do. It’s the right decision. We are excited to really get to work as we look to return to competitive action for the first time since last March.”

“Athletics is an important aspect of student life at SUNY Cortland and I am grateful to the dozens of individuals who worked to create a plan that will allow SUNYAC teams to safely resume competition,” said Erik Bitterbaum, president of SUNY Cortland and chair of SUNYAC’s presidents council. “I am immensely proud of our student athletes and I know they will make the most of this opportunity.”  

Competition may begin on Saturday, March 20. Additional details are available at

The approval is based upon a detailed collaborative plan developed by more than 50 individual athletic administrators, coaches, assignors of officials, certified athletic trainers and sports information directors who pooled their vast experience to create a safe environment to conduct athletic competition.

Spectators will not be permitted to attend contests at this time. Any future decision on spectator attendance will follow New York state, SUNY, local departments of health and institutional guidelines. 

The SUNYAC will employ a divisional model for its conference schedule in most sports to reduce travel. These schedules, as well as any possible non-conference games, will be announced in the near future.

The approval is contingent upon the continued positive trajectory of the pandemic and the state of the COVID-19 virus on member campuses. The plan meets the guidance provided by the NCAA, New York state and local departments of health and the SUNY System. The SUNYAC presidents have shared the conference plan with their local departments of health.

Student-athletes, coaching staff members, officials, media members and game day administrative personnel are expected to be masked at all times. Student-athletes, however, are not mandated to wear masks once they enter the contest in their respective sports. The Uniform Sanctioning in Response to COVID-19 Student Violations policy has not changed and will be enforced.

The decision on whether to postpone a SUNYAC conference contest or championship when COVID-19 positivity rates rise will be tied directly to that institution’s approved plan with its local department of health. The institution will make the decision on what activities will continue or be postponed as well as any additional safety measures that will be implemented. 

Stay up-to-date with SUNY Cortland athletics at

State change in COVID-19 guidelines raises Cortland threshold for “pause”


The New York State Department of Health has revised its guidance on determining when university campuses must go completely online due to COVID-19 infections. This new guidance means SUNY Cortland will not automatically go on pause if it records 100 positive tests within a two-week period.

The new policy, announced last week, does not require institutions like SUNY Cortland to pause unless 5% of its campus population tests positive for the virus during a rolling, 14-day period. Based on the estimated 4,185 students, faculty and staff who come to campus for any reason this semester, SUNY Cortland’s threshold number is now 209.

Over the last 14 days, SUNY Cortland reported 110 positive tests towards that 209-case trigger. Because the metric is always based on the previous 14 days, the number of positive tests will rise or fall daily instead of constantly growing larger during a specific two-week period.

“We are excited that the state has made this change, which is endorsed by our own health officials and experts,” SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum said. “It will provide a more accurate picture of the university’s infection rate and our progress in containing the virus.”

SUNY’s COVID-19 Tracker will eventually be reconfigured to reflect the new state guidance. Until then, members of the public can determine how close Cortland is to a forced pause to in-campus activity by calling up Cortland’s report and looking beneath the first chart under the heading “Campus Administered Testing: Details.” A sub-heading, “SUNY Rolling 14 Days,” includes a data category titled “Positives.” That number tells you how many cases SUNY Cortland has towards its 209-case threshold.

The new protocol was favored by epidemiologists and medical professionals as a better measure of COVID-19 infection on college campuses. The previous policy set a threshold of the lesser of 100 cases or 5% of population during a static, date-defined 14-day period.

The 5% policy applies only to higher education institutions that are testing more than 25% of their populations weekly. SUNY Cortland has been testing 100% of its population every week since the start of the semester. Colleges and universities that are not testing at least 25% of their population are still subject to the 100-case pause threshold, measured over a rolling, 14-day period.

Capture the Moment


President Bitterbaum and members of the university administration handed out cookies, snacks and prizes to students exiting COVID-19 testing at the Student Life Center on Friday, Feb. 19. They thanked students for committing to regular testing and doing the right thing and also encouraged them to make smart choices and avoid large off-campus gatherings over the weekend.

In Other News

University plans ‘Afro-Essence’ event

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“Afro-Essence,” a talent show and open mic event that represents the music, Latinx culture, poetry and art appreciation of people of color, will be held on Thursday, Feb. 25, at SUNY Cortland.

Because this lively annual event is not possible in person due to the pandemic, organizers plan a Webex meeting instead from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Select the Webex link to attend the event and use the Meeting Number 132 251 0189 and Password Weyk7Gc7FP6.

Cortland’s Black Student Union and Know Your Roots - Africana Studies Association (KYR-ASA) will cosponsor this year’s event.

Shaneya Simmelkjaer and Alfred Robertson, presidents of BSU and KYR-ASA, respectively, will address “Afro-Essence.”

During the first virtual “Afro-Essence” event, Black creators of all types will come to together and perform and share their talents at the event. Participants will address black issues and uplift one another. “Afro-Essence” events are held nationally, as can be found on the following Facebook page.

“Our goal is to empower those who don’t know how to express themselves as the person they are,” Robertson said. “No matter the age, creed, color or gender of an individual, we should all have the opportunity to express our emotions openly and freely.”

“Students can expect to see a wonderful display of what the culture feels, looks and sounds like at Cortland,” Robertson said. “From a dance performance by the Drama Club to a spoken word performance done by yours truly! All of the performances by extremely gifted people who inspired me throughout my college career. I hope it’s the same outcome for you all.

“In contrast to previous years when we all had the opportunity to meet in person with the performances, dim lights, and artificial candles, we will follow social distancing and COVID-19 regulations,” he said. “Other than that, the event will be the same: a time to remember.”

Students display artwork that expresses African and Latinx culture during a past "Afro-Essence" event on campus.

The event continues the university’s Black History Month event series, which gives students of all races the opportunity to learn about a past, present and hopeful future of which they may be unaware.

The month celebrates the achievements of people of African descent and their contributions to U.S. society and history. The first nationally recognized Black History Month was announced in 1976 by President Gerald Ford and has been celebrated internationally.

The series is sponsored by the Africana Studies Department and organized by Seth N. Asumah, a SUNY ­­Distinguished Teaching Professor, professor of political science and chair of the Africana Studies Department.

For more information about “Afro-Essence,” contact event coordinator Simmelkjaer. For more information about Black History Month, contact Asumah at 607-753-2064.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Jenna Donofrio

Student awarded for EOP success

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As a high school student in Brentwood, N.Y., Edith Hernandez wasn’t sure if college was for her.

And after a first semester at SUNY Cortland that ended in academic suspension, Hernandez thought her hunch was probably right.

Yet with encouragement from her counselors and fellow students in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Hernandez reapplied and refocused her energies on her classes. She leaned on her counselors and asked faculty members for help.

In the semesters since, Hernandez, a senior double major in sociology and Spanish, started seeing results. She’s made the Dean’s List three times, the President’s List once and is planning to attend the University at Albany to pursue a master’s degree in social work from the university’s School of Social Welfare.

Her ultimate goal is to become a government relations officer to help families in need.

For her efforts in the classroom and beyond, Hernandez recently was among 45 recipients from across the SUNY system to be recognized with the Norman R. McConney Jr. Award for Educational Opportunity Program Student Excellence.

“When Lewis (Rosengarten, director of SUNY Cortland’s EOP) told me I received this award, I was in shock,” Hernandez said. “I felt all of these emotions. I felt accomplished. It was one of the accomplishments in my life that made me so proud. I just got an award that has to do with my education.”

edith hernandez portrait

SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Program is a comprehensive support system that opens doors for academically disadvantaged students from low-income families in New York state. At Cortland, in addition to financial aid, students receive academic assistance, counseling and access to a community of other students who complete an annual Summer Institute orientation together.

Hernandez’s introduction to EOP was first-hand. Rommel Archaga, a guidance counselor at Brentwood High School, had encouraged Hernandez’s older sister, Evelin Hernandez, to apply to Binghamton University. Not only did Edith Hernandez follow in those footsteps, so too did their younger sister, Chermin Hernandez, who currently studies at SUNY Geneseo.

While Edith Hernandez was excited for her college career to begin, she found herself intimidated by coursework during her first semester. As her grades slipped, her confidence dipped.

After meeting with EOP counselors and getting encouraging messages from fellow EOP students, Hernandez decided to make an effort to connect with faculty members and ask questions that allowed her to better understand the material.

One of her first exams following her academic suspension was in a communications class. Hernandez got a 90. That not only let her know she was on the right track, it pushed her to keep working even harder. 

“When you put your mind to something and you go for it, it can happen,” she said. “I was letting fear get in the way of what I could accomplish. I didn’t want to bother anybody. But then I realized people were here to help me. That’s their job. Once I stopped letting fear get in the way, I excelled in my classes. I was raising my hand and I was asking questions.”

SUNY recognized EOP student excellence with a virtual award ceremony in December. The award is named after the late Norman R. McConney, a University at Albany graduate who was the longtime chief of staff to State Assemblyperson Arthur O. Eve from Buffalo. McConney helped draft legislation that established the EOP and he went on to help create the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.

The award recognizes students who exhibit academic success, perseverance and leadership qualities.

“It made me realize I have to continue living my life as I have been since I came back because it was a whole shift in my life and I was able to do that and push through,” Hernandez continued.

“I kept myself motivated but I also let others in. I wasn’t afraid to speak to other people if I needed help. That’s what I learned. I was so appreciative of being able to have come to college and have EOP. If it wasn’t for EOP, I wouldn’t have been able to go to college.”

Once she graduates in May, Hernandez hopes to dedicate her life to helping others through social work. After all, she knows first-hand the power of opportunity and the value of programs like EOP.

“As I’ve learned more about the outside world and how many kids and families struggle, it’s made me want to make the change for people,” she said. “I’ve started seeing how it affects a lot of people and the work being done to help them and I want to do that. I want to help families as well as people who are homeless. I want to help get people back on their feet.

“Basically, it’s about giving people a second chance in life, another opportunity in life. To know that people are here for you. People shouldn’t be looked down at. You’ve got this. That’s one of my main goals.”

SUNY Cortland celebrates Black History Month

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It’s been stated that Black History Month does not offer enough time for people to consider the contributions of Black people to America. And that may be especially true now, after a year when acts of police violence against persons of color pushed the Black Lives Matter movement into mainstream public discussion.

But that did not dissuade SUNY Cortland’s Africana Studies Department from putting together a full calendar of Black History Month events this February, which explore many of the controversial topics that dominated conversations last year.

“In these times of divisiveness in our country, the global response to the knee-lynching of George Floyd, cancel cultures, questions pertaining to moral reckoning, and the COVID-19 global pandemic, we bring the Cortland community together for critical but hope-affirming and uplifting presentations to celebrate the culture, achievements, resistance, and resiliency of the Black community,” said the series organizer, Seth Asumah.

Afro Essence is a series of talent show/open mic events sponsored by the club Know Your Roots. Based on the Harlem Renaissance era, the events bring a cultural influence representing music, Latinx, poetry and art appreciation from all people of color.

Asumah, a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor who chairs the Africana Studies Department, noted SUNY Cortland has celebrated Black History Month with critical scholarship, performances and art for more than a quarter of a century.

“Black history is America’s history, for it chronicles our struggles and records of human achievements in humanizing the world and the global human condition,” he said.

All Black History Month events are free to attend and open to the public. Due to safety concerns in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, all events will be conducted virtually. Visit the Black History Month website — — for a quick reference on upcoming events.

Campus community members have an added opportunity to immerse themselves in Black history and culture throughout the month by participating in the interactive “21-Day Challenge” throughout the rest of February. Every day of the challenge has a theme and lists several options for reading, listening or watching. Individuals may choose at least one activity per day and are welcome to explore more.

The multimedia subcommittee of SUNY Cortland’s Anti-Racism Taskforce created the webpage, where a link called gives students, faculty and staff a chance to track their participation, reflect on their daily activities and engage in discussion with others.

“The Challenge was created as a way to understand issues of power, privilege, oppression, equity and social justice,” said committee member Paul van der Veur, professor and chair of Communication and Media Studies. “The goal is for participants to explore a daily activity and over the course of the 21 days to learn and, ultimately, be empowered to recognize and actively take a stand against racism.”

Black History Month events continue, including:

SUNY Cortland’s Africana Studies Department has put together a full calendar of Black History Month events.

Tuesday, Feb. 23: The Black Student Union (BSU) will host “Understanding and Advocating for Racial Justice for Everyone,” a WebEx event from 3 to 5 p.m. Participants can learn how to better understand racial injustice and how to be better allies and advocates to people of color. Register and then the Webex link will be sent to you. The learning objectives are for members of the campus community to spend time examining their own racialized identities and experiences, to be able to identify their triggers and challenges around issues of race and racism, to accumulate tools that better prepare everyone to engage others in conversations about race and racism, and to be more willing and able to identify, interrupt, and dialogue on issues of racism and racialized bias. Contact

Wednesday, Feb. 24: Black student union representatives from Cortland, Oneonta and Binghamton will discuss “Convergence of the BSUs: Discussing PWI Cultures from the Perspective of Black Students” at 6 p.m. via Webex using the Webex number 132 172 8452 using the password uYx6eAWYs84. Contact Shaneya Simmelkjaer, Black Student Union president.

Thursday, Feb. 25: Representatives of Cortland’s Black Student Union and Know Your Roots - Africana Studies Association (KYR-ASA) will address “Afro-Essence” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. via Webex. The presidents of both groups, Shaneya Simmelkjaer and Alfred Robertson respectively, will speak. A Webex link to attend the event will be provided soon. Contact Shaneya Simmelkjaer.

Friday, Feb. 26: Two faculty members and a student will offer an “Afro-Fusion Dance Workshop” at 5 p.m. via Zoom. The presenters will be Nikolay Karkov, an associate professor of philosophy, Avanti Mukherjee, an assistant professor of economics, and Maria Klara Vantura, student. At the time of the demonstration, first join the Zoom meeting and then enter the meeting I.D. number, 844 2721 0495 and the passcode, 082674. Contact Shaneya Simmelkjaer, Black Student Union president.

Black History Month sponsors include the university President’s Office, Institutional Equity and Inclusion Office, Political Science Department, School of Arts and Sciences, Africana Studies Department, Performing Arts, SUNY Cortland Alumni Association, Multicultural Life and Diversity Office, Disability Resources, Campus Artists and Lecture Series, Student Government Association, Know Your Roots-Africana Studies Association, SUNY Cortland Campus Activities, Career Services, Black Student Union, Cortland NAACP and Pan African Student Association.

For more information, contact Asumah at 607-753-2064.


Travis Apgar to discuss hazing on March 3

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Travis Apgar, who as a college student experienced the trauma of hazing first-hand, will offer a fresh look at the banned practice from the perspective of a survivor, on Wednesday, March 3, at SUNY Cortland.

Apgar, currently the assistant vice president for student life and dean of students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, located in Troy, N.Y., will begin his talk titled “Hazing: The Fallout” at 7:30 p.m.

Presented as part of SUNY Cortland’s Wellness Wednesday series, the discussion is free and open to the public. The presentation will take place via Webex for the sake of campus safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants must register on the web in order to attend.The meeting ID is 815 2769 6882 and the password is SUNY.

Considered an authority on hazing prevention, Apgar is a member of the board of directors for HazingPrevention.Org. He has contributed to the National Hazing Prevention Week Resource Guide, assisted with the development of the NCAA Hazing Prevention Handbook, appeared in “Haze,” a documentary made available by the Gordie Center, and served as a guest on PBS NewsHour and HuffPost Live.

Apgar, who holds advanced degrees in psychology and education administration and has worked in higher education for almost two decades, will discuss hazing from the perspective of a survivor with a background that contributed to the severity of the impact.

His emotional and powerful story aims to give students a wake-up call about the hidden dangers of hazing. Drawing from his personal and professional experience, he seeks to help students recognize that human lives and well-being come first and that the actions of hazing are not only illegal and wrong, but they go against everything upon which extracurricular groups were founded.

“Most students have some idea of what hazing may be, but many do not fully understand what constitutes hazing,” said Apgar, whose positions in higher education have encompassed residence life, student activities, first-year student programs, Greek life and judicial affairs.

“By not knowing, they may agree to be involved in a hazing activity that they may not have if they better understood the definition and policies. I also strongly believe people should be aware of all policies, rules and expectations, so they are free to make educated decisions about their behaviors.”

As a first-generation college student, student-athlete and prospective fraternity member, Apgar did not know what to expect when he walked on campus. He anticipated being challenged to work at fitting in and to struggle in some ways. He certainly never looked for the intense hazing he endured during his first year on campus to challenge his physical and mental well-being. His tormentors had no idea of the “hidden harm” they were worsening with their seemingly harmless fun.

Whether it is a fraternity, student band, religious organization, rugby club or intercollegiate sport team, these groups were created out of a desire to enhance an individual’s life, not to hurt or destroy it, Apgar asserts.

“I believe I have a responsibility to get involved in the fight against hazing, and it is my goal to help provide resources to professionals and students that can help get the job done,” he said.

Apgar has received national recognition as an outstanding student affairs professional. An educator, writer and consultant, he has been a featured speaker on college campuses and at conferences across the country, working with thousands of students, faculty, administrators and coaches with the goal of ending hazing.

“Travis was last here in 2011, his presentation was very powerful and you could hear a pin drop,” said organizer Sandra Wohlleber, associate director for campus activities and Greek Affairs. “I have always wanted to ‘bring him back’ and now is the time.”   

The talk replaces the “REEL Big Bullies” event with Brian Johnson.

The event is supported by the Campus Artists and Lecture Series and is being co-sponsored by Athletics, the President’s Office, Recreational Sports, Student Conduct, the Title IX Office, and University Police.

For more information, contact Sandra Wohlleber at 607-753-5769.

Coffee shop opens in Moffett Center

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SUNY Cortland has opened a new café in Moffett Center, Sawubona, which serves premium African coffee from Coffee Mania.

Located in the first-floor lobby, the café is open 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Guests can pay with credit/debit card, cash, Connections/Privileges accounts, and Dining Dollars. They can use GrubHub to pick up their orders.

Signature blends include Tumaini (“hope” in Swahili) and Pamoja (“together” in Swahili). Teas, specialty sandwiches, and other light fare are available. A full menu is online.

“A lot of the professors were very excited to hear that we would be having a new café,” said Jeff Scott, director of dining services for Cortland Auxiliary. “I took the opportunity to reach out to department chairs and let them know about what we were thinking. They appreciated that and gave us some direction.”

“Sawubona” is a Zulu greeting that translates to “we see you.” The café management aims to make Sawubona part of a community hub in the Moffett Center lobby for students and faculty alike. 

The coffee beans are hand-picked at high elevations in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya. These beans are sustainably grown and sourced from farms that support local growers by paying well above market value. Coffee Mania, located in Cortland, freshly roasts the beans to ensure that they have the best flavor.

“We boiled it down to global inspiration, locally connected,” Scott said. “We want to really try to be aware of and engage with flavors of the world and trends of the world. It's a fun time to be involved in college dining.”

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Chelsea Grate

Racial justice workshop for SUNY Cortland faculty

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Cortland’s Urban Recruitment of Educators (C.U.R.E.) program is sponsoring a faculty workshop with the Civic Ensemble, “Racial Justice at SUNY Cortland: Our Stories, Our Solutions,” on Friday, Feb. 26.

The performance by Civic Ensemble, a theater group from Ithaca, N.Y. from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The event is directed toward SUNY Cortland faculty and 40 spots are available. Register online via Zoom.

“We’re very focused on it being ‘faculty first’ because it's about developing strategies for faculty to intervene in difficult situations,” said Anne Burns Thomas, professor in the Foundations and Social Advocacy Department and coordinator of C.U.R.E.

Civic Ensemble has worked with SUNY Cortland students and faculty in the past by holding story circles related to race and identity and developing a play, “black/brown/other,” from their testimonies.

The title “black/brown/other” stems from a student quote about how one is asked to identify their race on campus. The student addressed how there could be people that do not fit into the racial categories that are listed because they are biracial or multiracial, so they must choose “other.”

The workshop will include a screening of the play. Then, Civic Ensemble actors will assign roles and act out racial situations with faculty.

“I think the faculty at SUNY Cortland want to do better than they have done in the past,” said Burns Thomas. “I know for sure in the School of Education, which is my school, most of our work is around how can we learn how to do better and this is one of the things that people have always asked for.”

The workshop will help increase the faculty’s comfort with providing a safe space to students having difficult dialogues about race. C.U.R.E. works to grow the number of teachers of color in K-12 schools and its mission is reflected in this workshop.

“I ask myself all the time, ‘Why aren’t there more teachers of color?’” Burns Thomas said. “What are the obstacles to this profession of teaching? Why isn’t it more diverse? It’s so dominated by white women. One of the main reasons is the experience that people of color have in classes. They don’t see themselves as teachers because the experience they have is not affirming. So, we want to do something to change that experience so that people can see themselves as teachers.”

This workshop is part of a series and attendees are asked to create an action plan to put the skills they’ve learned to use.

“I do think there’s a lot of richness in stories instead of just statistics and learning,” said Burns Thomas. “This has been really powerful.”

For more information about the workshop, email Burns Thomas or call 607-753-4337.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Chelsea Grate

President announces incentive program for pool testing

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Dear students,

Thank you for your extraordinary efforts in reporting for additional pool testing this week and last. Regular testing of all students remains our most valuable tool in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

I am happy to announce an added incentive for your commitment — monthly raffles and a grand prize for students who participate in pool testing each week.

Here are some highlights of the new program:

  • Monthly prizes: Students who participate in all weekly pool tests each month will be entered into a drawing for Cortland prizes. Two drawings will take place at the end of each month — one for campus residents and one for off-campus students. Winners will be selected for February, March and April.

  • Grand prize: Consistent monthly pool testing participation also will earn an entry into an end-of-semester prize drawing for a semester’s worth of free textbooks, sponsored by the Campus Store. Graduating students will be eligible for similar items if they win. One grand prize winner will be selected.

  • Eligibility: Students can learn more online about eligibility, including participation options for students in quarantine or those who test positive for COVID-19 during the spring semester. Prize winners will be notified through their SUNY Cortland email.

Please remember that you must test twice this week. You can schedule an appointment through the COVID tab in myRedDragon. If the campus is able to slow the rise in COVID-19 cases, SUNY Cortland will return to weekly testing in March. You will be notified through email about any changes in testing procedures.

I want to thank the university’s Engagement Committee for organizing this new initiative. I also want thank you, our students, for testing regularly to protect the health and safety of our community. 

All the best, 

Erik J. Bitterbaum 


Third annual TransAction conference to be held March 5

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SUNY Cortland’s third annual TransAction conference about the needs and experiences of transgender and gender queer students in the college environment will be held virtually on Friday, March 5.

Registration is free to all participants and may be done online.

“We are excited to be holding our third TransAction conference virtually this year,” said conference organizer Erin Morris, assistant professor in the Sport Management Department. “We hope that will allow more people to attend and learn from the event. We hope that many members of our campus community will attend and learn how we can all better support our transgender and gender queer students, whether in student teaching, field work, physical activity, or general everyday campus life.”

The focus of this year’s conference is how to support trans students, particularly in higher education.

The schedule:

  • 9:10 to 10 a.m.: “Best Practices in Higher Education Right Now for Trans Students”
  • 10:20 to 11:10 a.m.: “Trans Students in Fieldwork and Student Teaching”
  • 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Keynote speaker Harrison Browne, “Discussing Access to Athletics and Recreation of Trans Students”
  • 12:40 to 1:30 p.m.: Student panel
Harrison Browne
Harrison Browne

Keynote speaker Harrison Browne, an actor, LGBTQ+ advocate and retired athlete, was the first transgender athlete in professional hockey. He led both the Metropolitan Riveters and the Buffalo Beauts to National Women’s Hockey League championships.

Browne has since been appointed Inclusion Leader to the NWHL’s advisory board and serves as special ambassador to the National Hockey League’s Hockey is for Everyone Initiative. His acting credits include an appearance on the upcoming FX television show “Y: The Last Man.”

Participants may attend the entire conference or individual sessions.

Previous keynote speakers at TransAction include SUNY Cortland graduate Court Pineiro ’18, a model, artist and writer, and Maybe Burke, a New York-based writer, actor and human rights advocate.

The event is presented by the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression Committee (SOGIE) and receives additional support from the Multicultural Life and Diversity Office, the Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusion, the Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies and a grant from Cortland Auxiliary.

For more information, contact Morris or visit

Spring Wellness Wednesday series continues through April

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Wellness Wednesday events will continue this semester with topics including hazing, sexual health, healthy eating, yoga, cannabis and the importance of sleep. The presentations will be held virtually, on Webex or podcast episodes on Sound Cloud and Twitter, for the sake of campus safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A poster listing all the spring events can be found at Wellness Wednesday Series - Spring 2021 and on the Campus Life page of myRedDragon.

The podcast to be introduced on Feb. 24 is titled “COVID-19 Vaccine Information.” The Health Promotion Office posts its podcast episodes “Take 10 for You” on  Sound Cloud and Twitter.

Travis Apgar, who has dedicated his career to hazing prevention, will present “Hazing: The Fallout” at 7:30 p.m. on March 3. Read more: Travis Apgar to discuss hazing on March 3.

On March 10, Sexual Health Jeopardy offers students an entertaining way to learn and play along at home. From 5 to 5:30 p.m. student contestants will answer questions Jeopardy style with questions about sexual health for a chance to win a prize.

SUNY Cortland Auxiliary Services Nutritionist Andrea Hart will present “Eat Right, Bite by Bite” on the March 17 “Take 10 for You” podcast.

Stress Relieving Yoga will go online from 5 to 5:30 p.m. on March 23 for everyone to participate. Mia Teal is trained for  YogaFit Levels 1 and 2 and no prior experience is needed to do this class. Please wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move, and a yoga mat or towel will help if you will be on a hard surface.

The March 31 podcast is titled Loss of Normalcy, presented by Senior Counselor Kathryn Gallup and available on Sound Cloud and Twitter.

Join student contestants on a game show with questions related to sexual violence prevention and education at 7 p.m. on April 7. In “The Match Game,” contestants will try to match their answers with a panel of “celebrities.” The contestant that matches their answer with the most amount of people, wins.

“How to Juggle School, Life, Work and Sanity” will post on Sound Cloud and Twitter on April 14, presented by Cheryl Smith, coordinator of Student Outreach and Non-traditional Student Support

To Tell the Truth: Cannabis Edition” is a virtual game show planned for 5 p.m. on April 21. True and false statements about cannabis will be presented over this Kahoot style game show and your job is to determine which statement is true. Students can play individually or as a team, and prizes will be awarded. Education Associate Marissa Whitaker, Substance Abuse Prevention will lead the event.

Wellness Wednesday events conclude with a podcast on April 28 titled “The Importance of Rest, Recovery, Sleep and Balance.” Recorded by Senior Counselors Ester Edelman and Robyn Forster, the 10-minute discussion will post on Sound Cloud and Twitter.

Student video on COVID-19 safety

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A video created by a group of communications students last week warns classmates about the serious consequences of violating SUNY COVID-19 guidelines and urges them to make safe decisions. In just four days it was viewed more than 7,400 times on Instagram.

Following a large off-campus party on Feb. 12 that put many students and members of the community at risk from potential spread of the virus, the students wanted to make sure their peers are aware of the penalties involved with hosting or attending large gatherings. Suspension and denial of campus access are part of SUNY’s uniform sanction response.

The group, which is working with Professor Caroline Kaltefleiter, the Communications Office and the President’s Office, plans to do a variety of other COVID-related messaging throughout the semester.

Wellness day happening on Tuesday, March 9

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The first of two wellness days during the Spring 2021 semester is scheduled for Tuesday, March 9.

Since there will be no spring break this semester because of the pandemic, SUNY Cortland’s wellness days are meant to help students recharge and relax. No classes will be scheduled that day and no assignments will be due.

Please remember to be mindful of COVID-19 safety, especially on March 9. Do not attend large gatherings. Do not travel and put yourself at risk of contracting the virus and potentially it spreading in Cortland when you return to campus.

Several campus organizations and residence halls are planning events to coincide with the first wellness day.

Events include:

Monday, March 8

  • “An Evening with Leslie David Baker,” The actor who played Stanley Hudson on “The Office,” 8 p.m. Register online through Cortland Connect.

Tuesday, March 9

  • Recreational Sports will host a “triathlon” in the Student Life Center
  • Free access to the golf simulator in the Student Life Center
  • “Assess and Address Your Stress” with members of the Counseling Center staff
  • Bowling (more details will be provided at a later date)

Many more events will be announced soon. Stay tuned to Cortland Connect, the campus calendar and Cortland Nites on Instagram for the latest information.

Be well and be safe. Enjoy your wellness day. You earned it.

2021 Orientation, Advisement and Registration dates set

The Orientation Committee has set the new student advisement and registration dates for summer 2021. To ensure a safe environment while welcoming our newest red dragons, advising days will once again be virtual and occur from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In order to best meet the needs of our incoming students and allow for individual advising meetings with each new student, we have added additional first-year advising dates. Specific dates are listed below.

Advisement and Transition will reach out to department chairs in late March to collect curriculum information and solicit faculty to advise over the summer.

 Transfer Session 1: Monday, June 21

Transfer Session 2: Friday, June 25

First-Year Session 1: Tuesday, June 29

Transfer Session 3: Wednesday, June 30

First-Year Session 2: Thursday, July 1

First-Year Session 3: Tuesday, July 6

Transfer Session 4: Wednesday, July 7

First-Year Session 4: Thursday, July 8

First-Year Session 5: Friday, July 9

First-Year Session 6: Monday, July 12

First-Year Session 7: Tuesday, July 13

Transfer Session 5: Wednesday, July 14

First-Year Session 8: Thursday, July 15

 Additional programming and activities for new students and families will be provided in collaboration with various offices and departments. Advisement and Transition will begin coordinating these efforts March. It is due to everyone working together that these events are successful in aiding our new students in their transition to SUNY Cortland.

For program information, refer to the orientation website at Direct questions about the Orientation program to Marinda Souva in Advisement and Transition.

Second round of funding offered by Campus Artist and Lecture Series

The Campus Artist and Lecture Series (CALS) has announced a second opportunity to submit an application for spring semester funding.

Applications from student clubs, academic departments and programs must be received electronically by Wednesday, March 3, and the committee will make its decisions on Monday, March 8. The maximum amount awarded will remain $350 and CALS should not be the sole financial support for a speaker. Parameters of the grant program, a blank lecture grant application and instructions for submission are linked on the Campus Artist and Lectures Series website

These applications are for virtual speakers that would present March 10 or later in the spring semester. These funds cannot be used for any performance-based event. All other CALS lecture grant parameters remain in effect. 

Fewer applications were submitted by the February deadline than expected, so there is almost $3,000 remaining and available for use, according to Sandra Wohlleber, associate director, Campus Activities and Greek Affairs.

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Faculty/Staff Activities

Tyler Bradway

Tyler Bradway, English Department, gave an invited lecture (remotely) to the "Future Theory" seminar at Durham University, UK. The title of his lecture was "Queer Narrative Theory and the Relationality of Form."

Jack Carr

Jack Carr, Communication and Media Studies Department, recently directed a short film, “Quota System,” for The Players of Utica, concerning an example of the (in)justice of the U. S. legal system along lines of race and gender. His play “Maintenance,” written with Matthew B. Steele, has won First Prize for Drama at the Community Arts Challenge sponsored by Cortland Arts Council and the Center for the Arts of Homer.  

Kevin Dames

Kevin Dames, Kinesiology Department, and alumna Megan Wagner ’18, had an article published in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation. Wagner and her faculty mentor, Dames, completed this project with support from an Undergraduate Research Council Summer Research Fellowship. Wagner is currently pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy at D’Youville College in Buffalo, N.Y.

Christopher D. Gascón

Christopher D. Gascón, Modern Languages Department, had his article, “Nomadic Subjectivity in Leyma López’s 2018 staging of Ana Caro’s Valor, agravio y mujer,” published in Living the Comedia: Essays Celebrating Amy Williamsen, edited by Esther Fernández and Yuri Porras, University Press of the South, 2020.

Jim Hokanson

Jim Hokanson, Kinesiology Department, was invited to give a Zoom departmental seminar about recent research on metabolic rate and body temperature in a lower body positive pressure treadmill (Alter G) on Feb. 10 to the Department of Physical Therapy and Nursing, University of Salamanca, Spain.

Angela Pagano

Angela Pagano, Biological Sciences Department, was awarded the 2020 Excellence in Teaching Award from the Science Teachers Association of New York. This award is given to those whose careers exemplify STANYS’s mission receive the STANYS Excellence in Science Teaching Award at the Annual Conference. Their work showcases excellence in teaching, leading, and providing opportunities for all students to participate in and learn science. 

Jeffrey Radloff, Angela Pagano and Dominick Fantacone

Jeffrey Radloff, Childhood/Early Childhood Education Department, Angela Pagano, Biological Sciences Department, and Dominick Fantacone, School of Education and regional director for the New York State Master Teacher Program, presented a paper titled, “Secondary Master STEM Teachers’ Tensions with Transitioning to Remote Instruction” on Jan. 15 at the International Conference of the Association of Science Teacher Education.

Katie Silvestri

Katie Silvestri, Literacy Department, co-authored an article about engineering and communicative literacies with K-12 students recently published in the Journal for Pre-College Engineering Education Research (J-PEER). Co-authors are Michelle Jordan of the University of Arizona, Patricia Paugh at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Mary McVee at the University at Buffalo SUNY, and Diane Schallert at the University of Texas - Austin.

The article is a state-of-the-art literature review focused on findings of 33 research articles informed by qualitative and quantitative data to foreground communicative literacies within engineering design teams at the pre-college level. The selected studies clustered under five overarching themes pertaining to: (a) engineering disciplinary communicative literacies in practice; (b) matters of access with populations underrepresented in engineering; (c) learning STEM content through engineering design; (d) affective responses to uncertainty and risk in engineering design; and (e) evaluating the quality of collaboration. With respect to the themes, the authors discuss possibilities of using literacy frameworks to deepen theoretical and methodological insights into the study of phenomena related to within-group communicative literacies in K-12 engineering spaces.

Submit your faculty/staff activity

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