USA and SPB’s Justin Brown addressing student involvement
By.Will Vega, Managing Editor
PC: Kyra Laurie
If you’ve ever been involved with student organizing on campus, chances are you’ve run into third-year senior Justin Brown.
Brown introduced himself to The Griffin as the vice president of marketing and PR for the Underground Student Association (USA), but he holds many positions and responsibilities around Canisius’s campus. He’s the Student Programming Board’s (SPB) online marketing coordinator, vice-president of C-Block, secretary of DiGamma, lead OL in this year’s orientation and a tour guide for admissions.
Brown’s contributions began his first year at Canisius when he was elected a freshman senator into USA and began working with the SPB.
“Student clubs and organizations were the way for me to get involved, make some great friends,” he said. “From there, I’ve kept my involvement focused so as not to overwhelm myself.”
Brown’s drive for having commitments in as many student organizations as he does comes in part from his view of those entities as key to getting the whole campus community involved. Brown said: “I’m a firm believer that half the college experience is academics, and the other half is social.” The principle of facilitating a socially engaged campus was greatly challenged during earlier semesters of the coronavirus pandemic.
USA and SPB were both faced with the obstacles of restricted in-person events as well as a scattered and stressed student body. During this time, Brown began to lean into his role in marketing and PR by taking the programming and outreach he had been involved with and transitioning to a more virtual setting. SPB’s arrangement of Grocery Bingo, a long-beloved Canisius tradition, was moved online with appropriately accessible rewards and the ability to participate from anywhere.
Facilitating student involvement now that classes and events are back in person is a major goal of student organizations, and of Brown in particular. Amidst the pandemic’s heights, along with limits to in-person attendance, information spread and student motivation that accompanied the year, Brown came to understand a key factor in managing events and coordination.
“Student awareness is the first step towards student engagement. If students don’t know what’s happening, whether it’s social, or COVID regulations, ... they’re less likely to get involved and engage with things,” he said. “My role has a big impact on making sure students are aware of what’s happening.”
To keep the student body engaged this year, Brown’s focus lies largely in increasing USA and SPB’s social media presences by boosting follower and viewer counts, promoting interaction and encouraging reposts.
One way all Canisius students can participate in contributing and shaping their community is through the USA Senate meetings. There, clubs, programming and administrative issues are addressed. Senate meetings hold space for student concerns; “Anyone can attend and voice concerns about campus community issues,” Brown said. Senate meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Regis Room in the Student Center.
As an example of a project orchestrated through Senate that would improve the Canisius community, during February 2020 Brown drafted and passed the Heart Saver resolution, a proposition that would use USA’s resources to increase the number of AEDs accessible on campus. Despite the proposal haltering with the crash of student activity during the beginning of the pandemic, Brown hopes to give it legs this year and move forward with it.
Additionally, the position of junior class senator is currently vacant. Applications will open on Oct. 1 and may be inquired after through usacanisius.com.