Spring 2021 Innovation Grants

To:                   The St. Lawrence Community

From:               Innovation Grants Committee (In-Sil Yoo, Jeremy Freeman, Elaine White, Hana Bushara ’21 and Lisa Cania)

Date:                April 21, 2021

Subject:           Spring 2021 Grant Results

The Innovation Grants program concluded its 10-year work by selecting five proposals from among the 10 submitted for this final competition.  Over the years, with thanks to President Fox’s trust in the ideas of our community, the Innovation Grants program has funded over 70 projects, granting $500,000 to improve the quality of campus life through new and inspired initiatives. The Committee has dearly appreciated how grant proposals reflect both the perpetual and the evolving values of St. Lawrence students, faculty, and staff.  Most projects have had team collaborators, often between students and employees, and we have loved witnessing these projects develop and became real.

A number of Laurentians have served on the committee since 2010;  a special word of thanks to Elaine White, who has been with the committee since the first meeting, and who has contributed her usual wise insight and tireless effort.  Thank you, Elaine!

Many thanks to Anne Chism, who for 10 years has been setting up accounts, helping to track status of accounts, and facilitating work for project managers; and to Carol Smith, who has coordinated relationships with our foundation philanthropists and written wonderful annual reports on our behalf. You both have been invaluable partners.

The final group of projects for funding are:

Campus Disc Golf Course

Bob Durocher, Hagi Bradley, Geoff Falen

Disc golf is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country, with over 6000 established courses in the United States and 50 million rounds played in 2020 alone.  Acknowledging the sport’s collegiate recreational roots, a number of those courses are on higher education campuses. Inquiry and research have indicated significant student support for and interest in campus disc golf. The installation of a permanent in-ground course on St. Lawrence University’s campus would allow all SLU students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to participate and play the game daily/weekly in a more consistent manner with a readily accessible layout. The proposers will work with Facilities Operations to site the course in the safest, most appropriate location.

Pole and Liberation Project

Jennifer Thomas, Jessica Sierk, Sara Monggaard ’23, Diamond McAllister ’22, Fernanda Leon ’22

The “Pole and Liberation Project” is a multifaceted project aimed at bringing an artist to campus (through the arts collaborative grant), creating a physical space that allows for people to physically express themselves in a safe and brave space (using the innovation grant), all while creating a pole dancing club (through working with Thelmo).

The pole dancing studio will be a space that is anti-exclusionary and conducive for creating a space for the liberation of people – particularly, their relationship to their bodies; framing the pole as “a tool for coping with adversity and creating self”. In co-constructing this space with a series of clubs and organizations on campus, we imagine new, interdisciplinary and innovative ways of engaging with the campus community. The project centers around creating a space on campus with poles that transcends pole dancing; a space for other clubs, organizations, departments, courses to embark on activities that heal, liberate, and inspire.

The Radical Self-Care Series

Sharon Rodriguez, Tsewang Lama, Lorraine Njoki (Clarkson partner)

The St. Lawrence University Office for Diversity & Inclusion and the Clarkson University Chief Inclusion Office have collaborated to create a self-care series focused on the needs and healing of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) students at our campuses. The series is open to all students, as well as faculty and staff while centering our BIPOC students. This initiative creates opportunities for BIPOC students to learn practical skills for self-care from guest practitioners who share their identities and backgrounds. Based on student feedback, BIPOC students have expressed that they are experiencing trauma resulting from the combination of the pandemic, recent social injustices, and the political climate, in addition to personal and family circumstances. Students have expressed feeling unequipped to navigate the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual toll these events have put on them. In the Spring of 2021, we launched the pilot of this series with sessions addressing: mental health, spiritual health, sexual health, physical health, and culturally relevant veganism. We plan to grow the series into a full year-long program for the 2021-2022 academic year addressing additional topics, including but not limited to: Self-Care for Social Justice, Coping with Grief, Professional Life & Boundaries, Generational Trauma & Family Relationships, Financial Wellness and more.

The "WE ARE...." Project

Kimberly Flint-Hamilton, Megan Carpenter, CARE Group, Hamidou Sylla '21, BLI

Many describe St. Lawrence as inspiring a strong sense of community. Yet for years, BIPOC students have felt, in the words of a BLI member, more like “a guest in someone else's space.” For SLU BIPOC students, the Laurentian student identity is incomplete. The “WE ARE…” project seeks to empower SLU BIPOC students to build community in their own image(s) and voices(s), and ultimately, to complete the Laurentian student identity/ies as reflecting Black and Brown students as prominently as the white majority has done throughout our history. The project will: 1) Build a robust multi-media resource collection (writing, music, film, etc.) to diversify BIPOC student education; give direct access to scholarship not necessarily taught in our curriculum; and provide representation to Black and Brown scholars across the African diaspora. 2) Address the lack of visual representation of Black and Brown individuals on campus by sponsoring BIPOC student original artwork and purchasing additional pieces. With D&I Office and Chaplain endorsement, BLI proposes to use the Buckley Room to house the resource collection and a new “BIPOC Student Expression wall” to display BIPOC artwork, student/group photos, and other visual affirmations. BLI will launch the wall and then invite other multicultural student groups to contribute their own items. Collectively, BLI/BIPOC students will make a powerful statement: WE ARE…Laurentians…valued in and by this community. Proposed activities will include an open house co-hosted by BLI and partner groups to showcase the project.

Wellness Zones

Laura Lavoie

This project seeks to improve student well-being through the creation of two “Wellness Zones” on the third floor of Sullivan Student Center. The Spiritual Wellness Zone will be located in Student Center 318, and will consist of a meditation/prayer room to include floor cushions for meditation and/or prayer, a white noise/nature sounds machine, and a SAD lamp (used to treat seasonal depression). The Stress Relief Wellness Zone, comprised of two massage chairs, will be located between the Thelmo and Hill News offices. These spaces will provide opportunities for drop-in stress reduction, quiet thought, and spiritual wellness, in a convenient location frequented by students.