CommUNITY Night on the Pond Bring Campus, Community Together | SUNY Plattsburgh
Students and community members came together at Hawkins Pond for a new event to start a new academic year in the spirit of unity.
The CommUNITY Night on the Pond was conceptualized by Julia Devine, the new coordinator for the Center for Public Service.
“It's necessary to create that sense of unity and spirit at the start of the year so you can carry it with you because we are all connected to each other,” Devine said, explaining why she decided to start a new Plattsburgh tradition. “It gives and identity as to why we’re here.”
Devine modeled the event off of Downtown Rising, a popular weekly event that included vendors from the Plattsburgh Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market that started at the beginning of summer 2016.
CommUNITY Night aimed to foster the development of a positive student-community relationship. Students, faculty, campus officials, local residents and city leaders came together to share in the night’s activities.
A candle-lighting ceremony, which Devine said captured the theme of unity the event embodied, capped off an evening of musical performances from current students, speakers and free ice cream.
Junior Chelsea Strong, a communication disorders and sciences major, said she enjoyed the sense of belonging she felt while placing her candle in the pond.
“I didn’t feel as though we were separated as students and community members,” Strong said. “In that moment, those categories disappeared and everyone gathered together to share in something bigger than ourselves.”
“I have never experienced an event like this, even when I was a student,” said Title IX Coordinator Butterfly Blaise, who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at SUNY Plattsburgh.
Devine is looking to build off of this year’s event to make next year’s CommUNITY Night on the Pond more elaborate. This will keep the spirit of the event going, she said.
Plattsburgh Town Supervisor and SUNY Plattsburgh alumnus Michael Cashman said while Plattsburgh has changed over the years, the willingness of the community and students to come together hasn’t.
“What remains strong and true about our community is when locals and student citizens get to know one another; there are some wonderful and powerful relationships built. That is the sense of the Plattsburgh Spirit.”
Like many others, he left campus having created new relationships while rekindling old ones.
“I walked away talking to new folks and reconnecting with others.”