The Urban Scholars Union will be hosting a panel entitled, “Pathway through Higher Education.” Formerly incarcerated students will tell personal narratives, with an emphasis on how higher education impacts recidivism rates, which refer to a person’s likelihood to relapse into criminal behavior. The Urban Scholars are planning for over 80 students, professors, and community leaders to attend the event. It will be held in MS-162 at 11:10 am on Wednesday, March 8.
Founded by students at City College, the Urban Scholars Union is an organization that works on- and off-campus to support those who have been through the criminal justice system. They hold weekly meetings, Wednesdays at 4 pm. At these meetings, they discuss activism and outreach, such as an art exhibition they attended that was put on by Project Paint, a program at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego that provides inmates with visual art workshops.
President and Co-founder of the Urban Scholars, Maria Elena Morales, said the organization is looking to get involved with more parolees. “We are currently working to get some of them out to our campus for a tour to let them know that education is also another route they can take,” she said.
The Urban Scholars are involved with other community colleges in the area like Southwestern, Mesa, and Grossmont. They have also worked with the Nosotros Men’s Recovery home, promoting school as a way to combat recidivism. According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 61 percent of inmates will be re-incarcerated within the first three years of being released.
Urban Scholars Vice President, Ryan Flaco Rising, believes that sharing personal stories with the public is very therapeutic. “We walk out of the prison system with so many stigmas,” he said. “These panel discussions are a way for us to heal, and a way for us to gain the community’s support.”
“Pathway through Higher Education” is free and open to the public.