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Students Work Toward Reform, Human Rights Commission


Three Hamilton students — Anokhi Manchanda ’22, Cole Kuczek ’23, and Henry Schwob ’22 — are working on projects concerning police and court reforms and a potential human rights commission in the Utica area. Their work, done in collaboration with the College-Community Partnership for Racial Justice, Professor of Government Frank Anechiarico, and Utica City Court Judge Ralph Eannace, is intended to both illuminate and address important social issues while fostering a closer relationship between Hamilton and its surrounding communities. Manchanda  and Kuczek’ s work is supported by the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center; Schwob’s work is independent.

About Anokhi Manchanda ’22

Major: Government

Hometown: Highland Park, Illinois

High school: Deerfield High School

Manchanda is working with the College-Community Partnership to evaluate reforms enacted by local police departments in accordance with Governor Cuomo’s recent mandate. To this end, she is designing a rubric against which criteria such as use of force, internal accountability, and staffing and budget accreditation can be measured. “We’ll grade each criteria category from zero to three, and then performance score is based on that," Manchanda said.

Although how and where to distribute performance scores have yet to be determined, the ultimate goal is to make the findings as useful and productive as possible. As of now, the plan is to grade all the departments in Oneida County — but hopefully, Manchanda said, the rubric can be used to evaluate the reform measures of every police department in the state, around 500 in total.

About Cole Kuczek ‘23

Major: Public policy

Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.

High school: Brighton High School

Kuczek is conducting research alongside Anechiarico to lay the groundwork for a Human Rights Commission in the Mohawk Valley area.  Such a commission existed in Utica during the 1990s, he said, but it was disbanded after only a few years. Of late, there have been increasingly calls to reinstate it. 

A human rights commission, Kuczek explained, would “handle complaints of discrimination, do outreach and education in the area about human rights and civil rights, and really just help the general welfare of the area.” To determine what this would look like, Kuczek will be examining existing human rights commissions across New York state and, from there, developing a model tailored to Utica that also draws on what has been successful elsewhere.

Schwob is looking into racial bias and discrimination in the local court system with Judge Eannace. Right now, he said, this entails “doing interviews with judges from all over New York state as well as some independent commissions who specialize in this kind of stuff … talking to them about really the best way to incorporate specific reforms smoothly.” 

About Henry Schwob ’22

Major: History

Hometown: Cumming, Iowa

High school: Valley High School

A big part of this, Schwob added, is addressing the often-uncomfortable topic of race within every level of the justice system. “It’s not just about what judges do,” he explained. “Court officers themselves can be a big source of racial tension. So, it’s tough.” Ultimately, Schwob said he and Eannace hope to translate their research into a “blueprint” that can be used to reform how court systems operate.

About the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center
Recognizing its long tradition of preparing graduates for public service and active citizenship, Hamilton established the Levitt Center in 1980. It is named for Arthur Levitt, Sr., a longtime New York State public servant with an outstanding reputation for efficiency and probity. The center encourages students to combine academic knowledge with practical skills as they engage in public affairs through research, field studies, community-based learning, lectures, discussion, and practice. Levitt Center programming is open to students and faculty across all disciplines and departments and is organized around programs that encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and discussion, innovative research and pedagogy, and positive social change.

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