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  • Sydney Umstead, Asst. News Editor

Campus Ministry Set To Tackle Mass Incarceration

By Sydney Umstead

During spring break, Campus Ministry will be traveling to Chicago as part of its service learning immersion program. The trip will take place from April 10 to April 15. Priority applications are now open and are set to close on Feb. 21.

In Chicago, students will have the opportunity to witness firsthand the experiences of those who have been affected by mass incarceration. As they progress through the trip, students will have chances to challenge stereotypes and break down those barriers through different group activities and conversations.

“The goal for these experiences is to create an experiential learning space to build community, work with partner agencies from the community, reflect on injustices and their root causes and create action plans to address those injustices,” said Spencer Liechty, director of Campus Ministry.

The agenda for the trip includes reflections on underlying causes of injustice within the criminal justice system and encouraging students to consider their own personal contributions. Students will visit some of the partner agencies and take part in educational sessions designed to educate about various ways they can extend the work and mission of those agencies. There will also be communal meals and a chance to really get to know each other and the people they are collaborating with.

“The experience can sometimes give a student clarity on their major or career direction, or perhaps inspire them to volunteer or serve in their local community when they get back,” said Liechty.

The trips are sponsored and planned by Campus Ministry. There is a participation fee for the immersion trips in order to ensure they remain financially sustainable, but there is an effort to make these fees reasonable for students. The office also provides potential scholarships or fundraising to make it possible for all who are interested to engage with the program.

After the application process is complete, the groups will be chosen and will meet beforehand to establish connections and prepare for the trip. All students are welcome to participate, and people from diverse backgrounds and experiences are encouraged to apply. Liechty touched on how the program works towards the development of the whole person while allowing students to explore themselves and the world surrounding them from new perspectives.

“[Participants] get a chance to live simply, strive toward solidarity, explore root causes of injustice and explore where they see themselves fitting into it all,” he said.

The immersion trips reflect Canisius’s Jesuit values, as they represent the idea of finding good in all people alongside the injustices they experience. In a broader sense, the immersion trips emphasize the value of striving to be for and with others.

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