Geneseo faculty, students and staff have a tradition of activism.

By Kris Dreessen

Kathy Trainor joined Geneseo in 1970 as director of the MacVittie College Union and student activities. Right away, she noticed that the college community had a “code.” She can’t define it, she says, but it was visible in how faculty, students and staff stand up for and treat one another — with kindness, respect, an open mind and a desire to make a difference.

“There was this way people cared for each other,” says Trainor, who retired in 2011. “People see value in behaving a certain way and they embrace it. That is a pretty powerful thing.”

Trainor saw the Geneseo community speak out on issues, including the 1970 Kent State shooting of Vietnam War protestors. President Robert W. MacVittie, faculty, staff and students gathered to discuss what they could do about it, she says. The union was open 24/7, with a designated meeting room for student activists.

That “code” and impulse to speak up has always been strong at Geneseo. Students have led or taken part in community dialogues, rallies and events on varied issues such as domestic violence and climate change. Last spring, students organized a community walk to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

“It’s all about small impact and a call to action,” says Kelsey Dux ’22, who is active in many campus advocacy projects, including sustainability. She is the chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee in the Student Senate and a member of the campus Diversity and Inclusion Community Educator (DICE) program, whose volunteers host workshop discussions around campus. “Using your voice empowers you and others.”

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