As the grapes begin to be harvested from the vines and apples picked from the orchards in the region, Hobart and William Smith Colleges plan to take a closer look at issues surrounding many of those whose hands will do the harvesting and whose presence directly affects the economy, environment and legislation.
Three events — a roundtable talk, film screening and panel discussion — will take place on Thursday Sept. 27, and Friday the 28th, as part of “Immigration Reconsidered: A Community Forum. The events have been organized between the Office of the President and Intercultural Affairs, in partnership with our neighbors from the Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce, the state Agricultural Experiment Station and the New York State Farm Bureau.
“This is a great opportunity. We look forward to a discussion to bridge the gap with the community, which is immensely important considering we, as a campus, are part of the community, said Assistant Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies Alejandra Molina, director of the Intercultural Affairs Office. “We often forget, thus every so often need to be reminded, that we are a nation of immigrants.
The conference began with the President’s Forum series welcoming filmmaker Angelo Mancuso for a screening and discussion of his film, “American Harvest at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library. Mancuso’s film attempts to shed light on the changing face of the United States, particularly as it relates to agriculture, while pointing out inconsistencies in the current U.S. policy on immigration.
“Mancuso’s film as well as his presence on our campus is timely, said President Mark D. Gearan. “He will be bringing to light problems on the national scale that resonate fully in our own community.
Commenting on the theme of his film and the topics of the conference, Mancuso said American farmers “rely on immigrants to do jobs that Americans won’t do, or feel are simply beneath them. This is causing problems for many people, and most see the problems in the news only from the extreme points of view of the left and the right side of our political system.
The film takes audiences from Florida to New York and then to the Mexican border, revealing the lives and issues of legal and illegal migrants and farmers working toward better lives. Mancuso will be on campus all day, meeting with students, faculty and staff individually and in small groups.
Earlier on Thursday, a faculty and student discussion, “Why immigration? Why now? was held in the Intercultural Affairs Center. Contributors will include Associate Professor of Economics Judith McKinney, Neeta Bhasin of the Writing and Rhetoric Program, and senior Rafeek Mohamed, as well as members of the Latin American student organization.
The conference will conclude with breakfast and a panel discussion from 8:45 to 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 28 in the Geneva Room called “Immigration and the Finger Lakes Economy.” Participants of the conference include Mancuso; Rob Gladden from the Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce; Marc Smith of the Agricultural Experiment Station; Mark James, executive director of the New York Farm Bureau's Finger Lakes Office; Philip Povero, Ontario County Sheriff; Deb Brown of Half Dutch Farm; as well as a representative of the farm working community. This panel, moderated by President Gearan, is designed to bring together students, faculty and community members to talk about issues that affect all socio-economic groups.