The Sociology Club went on a bus trip to New York City’s Tenement Museum and African Burial Ground National Monument on Saturday, April 13. Forty-two people attended this trip: 27 students, three faculty members, and 12 outside community members.
The trip was covered under the Sociology Club’s annual budget and the Student Government Association (SGA) covered the cost of the bus.
On the way to their first destination, sociology professor Dr. Johanna Foster provided the group with data and an understanding of how the experiences of immigrants are shaped by the conditions of their countries of origin. She also discussed the immigration policies and inequalities of race, class, gender, and sexuality that exist in the country of destination.
In addition to visiting the Tenement Museum and African Burial Ground National Monument, they also took a 90 minute walking tour of the lower east side of Manhattan, exploring places central to immigrant life over the past 100 years.
The idea for this trip originated two years ago when the members of the club at that time decided they wanted to highlight social inequalities by creating an annual trip called “Stratified Streets: A Visual Tour of Sociology.”
“The concept of ‘stratified streets’ highlights the fact that the society we live in is stratified or divided along lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, age, ability, and other social forces,” said Nancy Mezey, sociology club advisor. “Sociology club members wanted to provide an opportunity for the campus community to be able to see this stratification through guided tours of nearby cities and communities.”
The first trip in 2012 took place in Philadelphia where the members learned about a restorative justice project in which inmates painted murals that communities then posted on buildings throughout the city. This year they aimed their focus at voluntary and forced immigration into the United States.
President of the club, Amanda DiVita, commented on this year’s trip. “It was so interesting to learn about immigrants who came to New York decades ago; through the tour we took with the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Seeing all the old, original buildings being used as modern apartment or office buildings was very interesting because we were able to see the years of history that existed within the buildings. Overall, it was a great trip. I think everyone had a lot of fun and learned a lot about social inequalities and immigration in a context as familiar as New York City.”
The Sociology Club was started here at the University in 2005 by students who had hopes of learning, and practicing sociology outside of the classroom. When the club was created, sociology was not available as a major, so all of the members were mixed in their disciplines and backgrounds; this stands true today—DiVita is a psychology major.
According to Mezey, “The purpose of the Sociology Club is to encourage people to educate themselves and others about sociological issues within society and to offer students ways in which to apply their sociological imaginations to benefit others, both on and off campus.” She added, “We welcome all University members into the club. Come join us as we start planning the third annual Stratified Streets trip.”
If students want to get involved, contact Nancy Mezey at email@example.com.
PHOTO COURTESY of Kelly Johnson