New Paltz Sociology Student Receives SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence

Deborah Walnicki, a Sociology student with a Concentration in Human Services and a minor in Spanish, had been named a 2014 recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.  Deborah is an alumna of the AmeriCorps City Year program, having served in East Harlem, NY.  She was subsequently named City Year Recruitment Ambassador at SUNY New Paltz in City Year’s first campus recruitment pilot program.  The success of this pilot led to this becoming a model for nationwide recruitment.  Deborah Walnacki

A member of the Honors Program since Fall 2010, Deborah was the recipient of the Cetrino Family Scholarship in 2013.  During 2013 Deborah worked as research assistant to sociology professor Dr. Eve Waltermauer at the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO) developing the Community Health Assessment and the Community Health Improvement Plan, commissioned by the Ulster County Departments of Health and Mental Health.  Deborah has also found time to study abroad in Guayaquil, Ecuador where she interned at a Global Education Project, Fundacion Crecer.   Deborah has taken her talents beyond the campus and has played an active role in the local community.  She is currently working with the Greater New Paltz Community Partnership, offering yoga classes to high school students as part of their “stress busters” initiative.  As part of a human services internship, she is also working with community member, Amy Frisch, launching a “Girls on the Run” program (a girls’ empowerment program) for the first time in New Paltz. 

On campus Deborah is a certified yoga instructor, is president of the Yoga Club, and has been a volunteer at Oasis/Haven.  As a significant contributor to the Concentration in Human Services, Deborah’s other internships include Riverhaven Youth Shelter in Poughkeepsie, Ulster County Department of Social Services Children’s Services Division, and Parsons Child and Family Center in Albany.  She has also worked as a job coach at the Northeastern Association for the Blind in Albany.  This summer she plans to study abroad with the International Social Welfare program to Denmark.

Sociology Professor Discusses Avant-Garde Theater at CUNY Grad Center

Associate Professor Judy Halasz (Sociology Department and Film and Video Studies Minor Program) participated in a panel discussion and video screening at the City University of New York Graduate Center on December 2nd on the legacy of the Obie award-winning avant-garde theatre collective the Squat Theatre, based in Budapest in the 60s-70s and downtown New York City in the 70s-80s. The discussion addressed the unintended consequences of the distinct, yet equally challenging social, cultural, political, and economic conditions in the East and West for the creative world. Both settings fostered Squat’s significant theatrical innovations, including the redefinition of what constitutes performance space, the reformulation of the role of audience, and the merger of multimedia and live performance, enabling the Squat to attract a vibrant, broad-based artistic community.  The Squat’s influence transcended the theater world, inspiring Fluxus artists, Neo-Expressionist painter Jean Michel Basquiat, graffiti artist and hip hop musician Rammellzee, No Wave bands DNA and the Lounge Lizards, big bands Kid Creole and the Coconuts and the Sun Ra Arkestra, indie filmmakers Jim Jarmusch, Vincent Gallo, Jonathan Demme, and Shirley Clarke, and Andy Warhol Superstar Viva, among others.  In 1985, the Squat was evicted from their Chelsea storefront theater.  Emblematic of the socio-cultural and political economic shifts ushered in by the New Economy, their former four-story artistic and domestic home was promptly demolished and replaced with a cinema multiplex designed to show Hollywood blockbusters.  Like many other creative collectives, the group broke up in the ensuing years as bohemian life became increasingly untenable in New York City.  The talk referenced research from Dr. Halasz’ forthcoming book The Bohemian Ethos (Routledge, 2014).  The event was blogged by the New York Times and the audience included avant-garde theatre legend Judith Malina of the Living Theater.

Documentory Film Director Josh Fox Addresses Crowd of 500

Academy Award nominated documentary film maker, Josh Fox, addressed a capacity crowd in Lecture Center 100 on October 29.  Fox’s films include Gasland and its sequel, Gasland 2, both of which address the controversial issue of hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking.  This is a process used to extract natural gas from deposits trapped underground in shale rock.  While this technique has not been permitted thus far in New York State, Fox discussed the experiences that citizens are having in other parts of the country where fracking occurs.  He described environmental problems and health issues

among people living in the vfox1vicinity of fracking operations.  Fox encouraged audience members to contact their elected officials and encourage them to oppose fracking in New York State.   

Gasland Director Josh Fox to Speak on Campus

Award winning documentary filmmaker Josh Fox, the director of the highly acclaimed Gasland, will be speaking and showing clips to the Gasland sequel at SUNY New Paltz on Tuesday, October 29 at 7:00.  Gasland, the winner of several major film festival awards and a finalist for the Academy Award for Best Documentary, brought the issue of natural gas hydrofracking into the national spotlight.  The film documents the potential ecological and health hazards associated with the largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history and the controversial gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing. 


Dorector Josh Fox

The long-awaited sequel, Gasland 2, debuted at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. This film picks up where Gasland left off, with Fox’s continued investigation into fracking, its side effects, and the industry’s responses to the anti-fracking movement.  Fox will be showing clips of his new film, discussing the fracking issue and describing his experiences since the release of his original groundbreaking  expose.

The event is sponsored by the SUNY New Paltz Environmental Task Force, an organization composed of SUNY students, faculty and community members.  Co sponsors include the Departments of Sociology, Communication and Media, Political Science and Geography.  The event is free and open to the public.  It is to be held in Lecture Center room 100 on the SUNY campus.

Brown University Sociologist Addresses Immigration Issues

Brown University sociologist, Jose Itzigsohn, offered a lecture on his new book to sociology students and others on October 21st.   Dr. Itzigsohn’s talk, “Class, Race and Mobility between Immigrant Generations,” addressed the issue of how well Latino immigrants to the United States are faring economically.  His research demonstrates that Latin American immigrants experience upward mobility, but only for one generation, after which their socioeconomic status stagnates.  Itzigsohn finds that racial inequality is central to understanding the class structure in the United States.”  Unequal educational opportunities play a role in perpetuating class inequality, but given that career advancement is often dependent upon social networks, Itzigsohn concludes that addressing educational issues alone is not likely to solve this problem. 


Dr. Jose Itzigsohn

 A crowd of over sixty attended Dr. Itzigsohn’s lecture in the Coykendall Science Building.  His talk is the second in a series of lectures on the issue of immigration sponsored by the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program and the Department of Sociology.  Dr. Alejandro Portes of Princeton University spoke in September.  Colgate University sociologist, Dr. Jacqueline Villarrubia-Mendoza, is offering a talk titled “Social Networks and Internal Hiring Practices of Hispanic Immigrants in the Hudson Valley” on November 21st at 5:00 in the Coykendall Science Building Auditorium.  

Prison Program Graduate Addresses New Paltz Students

Mika’il Deveaux addressed a crowd of 70 students at a talk sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Students Against Mass Incarceration on October 11.  Deveaux, a doctoral candidate at the CUNY Graduate School, is also a graduate of SUNY New Paltz’s prison education program.  The Department of Sociology ran a master’s degree program for prisoners at the Eastern Correctional Facility from 1984 until 1994 when many federally supported prison education programs around the country were defunded and closed down.  In addition to his doctoral studies, Deveaux runs a non-profit organization that helps formerly incarcerated individuals return to life outside of prison. Deveaux spoke about the punitive nature of current corrections policies and the need for true rehabilitation through empowerment.  


Mika’il Deveaux

Deveaux was joined by Susan and William Philliber, former sociology faculty members who initiated and taught in the sociology prison program.  They spoke about the founding of the program and its success at providing prisoners with opportunities for advancement upon release.  The Phillibers now run Philliber Research Associates, a research firm in Accord, NY, where they employ some of their former students doing evaluation and analysis for organizations such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Planned Parenthood.