By Shannon Nia Alomar (Special to the Chronicle) The Center for Civic Engagement held a panel for the Day of Dialogue on Wednesday called Grassroots Democracy in Action: Visions for Uniondale.
The topics discussed included the Uniondale Vision Plan call for youth action and the possibility of remodeling Uniondale to become more of a college town.
Grassroots groups help localized community members come together and make decisions to improve their towns. The Greater Uniondale Area Action Coalition (GUAAC) is an alliance of 25 community organizations committing to bettering the Uniondale area.
Dr. Greg Maney, sociology professor and co-director of the Center for Civic Engagement, was the facilitator of this panel and panelists included, Jeannine Maynard, co-facilitator for GUAAC and GUACC members Margo Cargill and Heidi Sanft, who is a Hofstra alumna.
Sanft mentioned Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz’s recent email regarding the creation of “Downtown Hofstra.” Rabinowitz said in the email, “…my administration has been in serious talks with developers who work with universities to create ‘college towns’ right on or near their campus…we must also investigate if this can be economically feasible but I am very hopeful that we will continue the transformation of our campus.”
The email also mentioned that the placement of this “Downtown Hofstra” would be located on the northwest corner of campus near the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex, and within the next couple of months students could expect to help create the visualization of the new initiative.
Although the panelists did not dismiss President Rabinowitz’s idea for this expansion of Hofstra’s campus, their hope is that Uniondale as a whole is included in the shift to create more of a college town vibe.
Willie Coleman, junior speech communications major, thought the event was insightful, especially when the developments of the campus were mentioned, but as a student he hopes this does not exclude the Hofstra community from the surrounding community.
“I believe that the [Uniondale] community is looking out for Hofstra because a lot of the residents attend here or have children here,” said Coleman. “So I think it is good that the Center for Civic Engagement [in conjunction with GUAAC] is trying to branch us together.”
After the discussion ended, the panelists explained the messages they would like Hofstra students to recognize.
“We are really making these changes for the youth so [they] can have something to fall back on. We want [them] to tell us what [they] want to see and what they need so we can all live in this community happily,” Cargill said.
“In reality we are all different and we want the students of Hofstra to know that,” said Sanft. “We want [them] to think big and collectively!”
Lastly, Maynard said, “If you are well-organized and gain momentum and attract supporters, you can make great change, and only those who are active and informed can take a stand.”
Leah Gomilliom, GUACC member and Uniondale resident, mentioned she was happy the panelist brought up the topic of elders, such as herself, because she believes her generation no longer has the ability or assistance to continue this project.
“We just want young adults to step up and understand what is going on in the communities they reside in,” Gomilliom said.