Bengals Dare to Care 2020, a reformatted version of the annual Bengals Dare to Care Day, will provide a monthlong opportunity for students, faculty, and staff members to listen, learn, and participate in a number of social justice initiatives.
Instead of heading out into the community to tackle various projects in person as in years past, students, faculty, and staff this year can participate in a series of weekly events starting the week of October 26. Themes are centered on showing Buffalo State College’s commitment to social responsibility, community building, and social justice.
“It’s about building community within the people on our campus, and it’s also about the way that Buffalo State builds and extends our community to our partners in Western New York and Buffalo,” said Aurora Schunk, assistant director of the Civic and Community Engagement Office (CCE).
Traditionally a day when the Buffalo State community mobilizes to assist community partners, Bengals Dare to Care 2020 is Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner's signature event and is supported by the CCE. The event this year was altered because of the coronavirus pandemic, in order to keep participants safe. In a normal, non-pandemic year, hundreds of students, faculty, and staff members work on a number of volunteer projects in the community on one specific day. The annual event is in its sixth year.
Along with weekly speakers and workshops, this year’s event will also feature resources on various racial and social justice topics for reading, listening, and watching, as well as ways to immediately get involved with multiple organizations and social justice initiatives.
“We wanted to make it very clear that this is what Buffalo State is committed to when we talk about our community work,” Schunk said. “It’s the work of justice, and we have strengths to offer the community and the community has strengths to offer us. So how can we work together to make a better Buffalo that really impacts everybody, especially those represented in marginalized communities?”
Elmwood Village street scene near Buffalo State College
Conway-Turner said the event is a way for Buffalo State to show its commitment to social justice, equity, and inclusion.
“Bengal Dare to Care 2020 is a virtual opportunity for the entire Buffalo State College community to show our commitment to social justice in the City of Buffalo,” she said. “While this year will be different, we’ll still have numerous opportunities for our campus community to listen, learn, and get involved in racial and social justice projects that are important to our community, and integral to the mission of the college. I encourage everyone to take some time over the next month to become engaged and participate.”
Bengals Dare to Care 2020 will feature local activists from Buffalo State’s community partners, including Open Buffalo, Say Yes Buffalo, the MOCHA Center, Kirby’s Korner, FeedMore WNY, and Habitat for Humanity Buffalo. Theme weeks run from October 26 to November 22. The following themes will be featured:
- October 26–November 1: Voting, Civil Rights, and Racial Justice - This event will feature Franchelle C. H. Parker, executive director of Open Buffalo, and Max Anderson, deputy director of Open Buffalo, speaking about voting rights and increasing voter registration among people of color. The program begins at 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 27.
- November 2–8: Education and Racial Equity - Daniel Robertson, manager of the Boys and Men of Color Initiative, Say Yes Buffalo, will discuss reforms in the local education system. Robertson will speak at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, November 4.
- November 9–15: Diverse Perspectives within Racial Justice: LGBTQ+ and Differently Abled - Kirby Briggs, from Kirby’s Corner, and Alex Burgos, from the MOCHA Center, will talk about diverse perspectives in terms of racial justice. Their presentation will be held at 12:30 p.m. Monday, November 9.
- November 16–22: Food Security, Housing, and Racial Justice - Ada Garcia-Poll, ’18, Hannah Kalmeyer, ’21, Elyse Burgher, MPH nutrition services director at FeedMore WNY, and Stephanie Lawson, development and communications manager at Habitat for Humanity Buffalo, will discuss food security, housing, and racial justice. The conversation starts at 12:15 p.m. Thursday, November 19.
Schunk said it was important to continue Bengals Dare to Care 2020 in spite of everything that’s happening in the world.
“We can’t control everything,” she said. “We can’t plan for everything. But we can pause and reflect and deeply engage in issues that are really important in our community, our country, in our world, and really important to our friends, our neighbors, and our classmates.”