A long-standing relationship between St. John’s University and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) was further strengthened recently when the University’s Staten Island, NY, campus hosted a human trafficking community forum and panel discussion on February 27.
St. John’s students, faculty, and administrators learned about the laws governing human trafficking care and reporting, and planned educational outreach within their organization and communities. Attendees also included representatives from the office of New York State Senator Andrew J. Lanza, the Mayor’s Family Justice Center Task Force on Human Trafficking, Staten Island District Attorney’s office, the New York City Police Department, and Staten Island community-based organizations.
The forum was moderated by Robert Fanuzzi, Ph.D., Associate Provost and Director of Civic Engagement on St. John’s Staten Island campus, and featured a panel discussion by Lima James, Education and Development Manager, LifeWay Network, and Dana Michelle Kaplan, M.D., Director for Child Abuse and Neglect for the Department of Pediatrics at Staten Island University Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.
St. John’s, Staten Island University Hospital/Northwell Health, and LifeWay Network organized the program to share and extend efforts on Staten Island to help victims of human trafficking. St. John’s students had been deeply moved and motivated by an earlier presentation by Ms. James on the Staten Island campus and desired a deeper connection with the issue, according to Dr. Fanuzzi. “The original St. John’s CRS presentation on human trafficking left a lasting impact on our students and our campus,” he said. “This follow-up community forum helped students participate in the social change needed to eradicate this terrible crime.”
The Staten Island campus community forum was a welcomed next step for St. John’s partnership with CRS, which has brought together the University’s Campus Ministry; a faculty committee headed by Meghan J. Clark, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Theology and Religious Studies; and social justice advocates for lectures and programs on both the Queens and Staten Island campuses. On December 1, 2016, Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President of St. John’s University, signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing the University as a Global Campus of Catholic Relief Services. St. John’s is only the 10th CRS Global campus in the United States.
Future events, in coordination with the Mayor’s Family Justice Center and the Staten Island District Attorney’s office, are being planned. For more information, contact Dr. Fanuzzi at 718-390-4266; [email protected].