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GCC students sweep Garfinkel Essay Contest category

STAFF REPORTS


BATAVIA -- Genesee Community College is pleased to congratulate students Danielle E. Kinney of Java Village, New York, Anna K. Lewis of Avon, New York and Shannon R. Dent of Middleport, New York, whose essays earned first, second and third place, respectively, in the 2017 David A. Garfinkel Essay Contest sponsored by the Historical Society of New York Courts. Kinney, Lewis and Dent were recognized at an awards ceremony in the New York Court of Appeals Courtroom on Law Day, May 1, 2017.

All three students are enrolled in classes taught by Professor Charles Scruggs, who has served as faculty mentor for numerous students who have been recognized in the previous Garfinkel Essay Contests over the last few years. "While we've had students recognized in the past in this contest, it's pretty remarkable to sweep the SUNY category," Professor Scruggs said.

The Garfinkel Essay contest invites community college students from around the state to submit essays on topics of legal relevance. This year they were charged with addressing the question: "YOU, the Voter: How far have we come? Is the journey over?"

Kinney's first-place winning effort covered the entire history of black voting rights in her essay entitled, "Black Suffrage: The Continued Struggle." She writes: "While it is undeniable that progress has been made in terms of black suffrage since the beginning of the reconstruction era... recently it has come to light that there is progress yet to be made if unchallenged, universal suffrage rights are to be achieved." She concludes her essay by stating, "Over a century and a half has passed since the ratification of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, and basic constitutional rights for black Americans are still at risk of being wrongly taken away."

Lewis' prize-winning essay also reviews the history of voting rights, but that of women in the United States. Her essay entitled, "Winning the right to Vote," focuses on the struggle of women's suffrage and the fight for equal opportunity and includes information about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, two pioneers in the fight for women's rights. In her essay she writes, "Women are and always have been on a difficult path to winning the equality that they want. But it is getting better. We just had a woman run for the Oval Office and came very close. ... The time for a woman president will come one day."

Dent also centered on women's rights in her essay, "Womankind's Journey to Universal Suffrage." She notes, "Looking at the strenuous journey of going from pre-suffrage to holding high political positions, women have been hard at work for years. These women have taken up the hardest task of all: to change someone's mind." Shannon also writes: "The right to vote, which was once an honor, has seemingly degraded itself into being nothing more than a common protocol that so many women take for granted. The amendment was seen by many as an award to those who fought for women's equality. To ask for its repeal is to insult the dream of millions."

"It has been a privilege to work with these students and their outstanding essays are a testament to their personal commitment to academic excellence and to the high standard we set for students at the College," Scruggs said. In recognition of his support of the Garfinkel Contest, Scruggs has been awarded complimentary membership in the Historical Society of the New York Courts for the coming academic year.

As the grand prize winner, Kinney receives a $1,500 cash award, Lewis earns $1,000 for second place and Dent takes $500 for third place. The Historical Society provides a link to all award winning essays online at: http://www.nycourts.gov/history/garfinkel.html.

Gloria and Barry Garfinkel initiated the essay contest in 2008 in memory of their son, David. The competition seeks to draw students with a wide range of interests in law, history, social science and general research writing.