La Unidad Latina Lambda Upsilon Lambda, fraternity inc. (LUL) cosponsored with Men of All Nations United (MANU) to host a program in the Student Union titled “You Choose” on April 6, which focused on the prison systems in the United States and how they are operated.
The focus of this program was on younger boys from a group home and emphasizing the importance of an education and how it can save lives.
At “You Choose,” fraternity members spoke with a room filled with more than 50 students from SUNY New Paltz and a handful of boys from a nearby group home from Kingston about how education can truly turn life in a new direction.
The programs guest speaker, Lawrence Hayes, an ex-Black Panther who was convicted and sentenced to death row, came to speak with the adolescents.
Hayes shared the story of how he was convicted and sentenced to the death penalty but was let out after having served 20 years because the death sentence in New York was outlawed. Hayes spent two and a half years in solitary confinement, with no human contact except for one single hand shake.
In order to demonstrate how part of his experience in prison was, one student attending the program was sent to a separate room for 15 minutes. He came out and said he had wished he could have been out of the room as soon as he was put in it.
One of the topics discussed at the program was about how prison sentences for minorities, specifically African Americans, are 10 percent longer than sentences for people of a different race.
This is a reality minorities face every day when convicted of a crime, said a MANU representative. They reiterated in many ways that it was ultimately up to the individual to determine, at the end of the day, whether or not they want to acquire an education to have a better lifestyle.
Jose Mohr, president of the LUL fraternity, said it is up to the individual to make the choice to be the better person and not succumb to violence .
“They’re not killing us, we are killing each other,” Mohr said. “We get thrown against the wall, but at the end of the day, we make the choice.”