Manhattanville College Hosts Human Rights Awareness Day

November 17, 2021
Human Rights Awareness Day

Students raising a glass in Berman Student Center.PURCHASE, NY, November 17, 2021 – Manhattanville College hosted Human Rights Awareness Day, an annual student-run event, dedicated to discussion and education around prison reform in the United States. Under the advisement of Manhattanville Professor John Proctor, MFA, students Genesis Pepe, Maria Salamone, and Kristina Casubolo organized an event that invited the community to listen, learn, and reflect on this pressing issue.


“Professor Proctor suggested the theme because of work he is doing on prison reform,” said Casubolo, when asked what made her want to be one of the event organizers. “We all agreed this theme made sense in terms of what he was doing and his knowledge of it. I wanted to do this because it was for human rights awareness, and I’ve been wanting to pursue social action and be an activist, and am always open to learning more.”  

The event included an hour-long panel focused on restorative versus retributive justice with Kendra Clark from the Exodus Transitional Community, which helps formerly incarcerated individuals adjust to life outside of prison, and Jamie Maleszka of the Fortune Society, which offers transitional housing for ex-inmates. Manhattanville students Holly Meredith and Angelina Cavallo Nunez served as moderators. After the panel came a creative contest and reading with the first place winner getting published in “Graffiti,” the college’s literary magazine. The event also featured two visiting writers, both formerly incarcerated, who took questions from students and staff about their experiences.

“As most of my friends and colleagues know by now, after 15 years at Manhattanville I moved from academia to legislative advocacy in September, accepting the position of Communications and Digital Organizing Manager at Freedom Agenda, an initiative of the Urban Justice Center,” said Proctor. “In that position, I'm now working directly with media, elected officials, and our most affected communities in fighting to close Rikers Island as soon as possible to put a halt to the ongoing humanitarian crisis there and work toward a more just and humane post-Rikers New York City. Before leaving Manhattanville entirely though, I agreed to continue my role as faculty advisor for Manhattanville's Human Rights Awareness Day. This year's event is a bittersweet experience for me, marking the end of my stay at an institution where I've spent more than half of my professional life, building my own aptitude as an educator and communicator through the many classes I've taught, people I've learned from, alliances I've made, challenges I've faced, and ideas I've had to modify and develop. I feel I'll always have a home at Manhattanville and carry all of these things into my next professional challenges.”

The panel, which was the main event, touched on issues pertaining to everything from domestic violence to the fear many parolees have regarding bouncing a check. The panel captured the attention of students as they listened to the heartbreaks and struggles of those emerging from prison.

Student Organizer Genesis Pepe said she felt the panel, “came together well. We were able to hear some of the stories and get everyone hopefully moving into action and moving that conversation forward, and just bring about that awareness. I personally have been really interested in it as we talk about it in class, and I think it helped to bring out that passion in people since they don’t really see that side of incarceration. They just hear about it and don’t see the adverse effects of it.”

About Manhattanville College: Manhattanville College is a small, private liberal arts institution dedicated to academic excellence, purposeful education, and social justice. Located 30 miles from New York City on a 100-acre suburban campus in the heart of bustling Westchester County, Manhattanville enables easy access to robust entertainment offerings, educational resources, and business opportunities for its primarily residential and diverse student body. The College serves more than 1,500 undergraduate students and nearly 1,000 graduate students from more than 44 countries and 33 states. Founded in 1841, the College offers more than 75 undergraduate and graduate areas of study in the arts and sciences, education, business, and creative writing, as well as continuing and executive education programs. Graduate students can choose from over 70 graduate and certificate programs. Extracurricular offerings include more than 45 clubs and 20 NCAA Division III teams. To learn more, visit


Contact: Cara Cea,, 914-323-1278 or 914-906-9680.


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