Entering 3rd year, SUSI looks to the future

Entering 3rd year, SUSI looks to the future

by Peter KaspariStaff Writer

As the Simpson Urban Studies Institute approaches its second anniversary, those involved with SUSI are celebrating how far they’ve come since its inception and are looking forward to their plans for the future.

Among the changes that have occurred at SUSI since last year is a new location for the organization.

“The location is at 1200 University, which is a much nicer space,” Fred Jones, professor of sociology and criminal justice and faculty director of SUSI, said. “We just received a rather large grant, and have started giving students grants for research.”

Another new part of SUSI this year is the hiring of Amy Campos as its research director.

“I carry out day-to-day operations looking for grants for research,” Campos said. “I’ve spent a good amount of time on-campus working with faculty about research opportunities.”

SUSI began in 2007 after Jones and President John Byrd met with State Rep. Wayne Ford of Des Moines, the CEO of Urban Dreams. Ford was interested in combining the research powers of an institution like Simpson with the service component of Urban Dreams.

This year, SUSI hopes to expand and do more with other organizations.

“I think though we’re still working with Urban Dreams, we’re expanding,” Jones said.

Currently, SUSI is actively trying to get more students involved in the program.

“We’re trying to be true to SUSI’s mission, which is research,” Jones said. “Every division can participate in SUSI.”

Jones and Campos are both working in order to generate more interest in the program.

“Amy’s been talking with department and division heads about SUSI,” Jones said. “We’ve also sent out e-mails explaining the programs. As of late, I’ve had a flurry of new applications.”

One program sponsored by SUSI last year, which is continuing, is the Mitchellville Prison Initiative.

Senior Kellie Green participated in the program last year.

“It’s a program where we send four students to the prison to teach two different classes,” Green said. “The classes are taught once a week for about an hour and a half. The classes are planned and taught by the students, but have to be approved by the prison.”

Green said that working with SUSI has changed her outlook on humanity.

“It has improved the way I see people,” Green said. “I think that everyone, no matter who they are, deserves to be educated and get an education.”

Green also stressed the importance of SUSI and the fact that it helps so many people.

“It helps give people a lot of different choices that they might not be able to have, such as Urban Dreams helping inner-city kids.”

Junior Brandon Hommer also participated in the Mitchellville Prison Initiative.

“It was definitely very rewarding, specifically in the area of getting to hear from some of the inmates and what they do on a day-to-day basis,” Hommer said.

Hommer said that he would recommend the program to everyone.

“I would especially recommend it to people interested in criminal justice, specifically corrections,” Hommer said. “It gives you experience, and it gives you name recognition.”

Jones said that SUSI hopes to assist students in many different ways.

“Our big goal is to get more student involvement,” Jones said. “Amy’s office is functioning to help students. Our goal is to help students make good decisions based on good information.”