Did you know that some of your favorite librarians and professors were suspected of grand larceny this summer? It’s true! An exclusive art auction of valued Works Progress Administration (WPA) paintings took place in mid-July, four of the coveted objects went “missing,” and further hijinks ensued across campus. Welcome to the Rochester Young Scholars’ Academy of Geneseo (RYSAG)!
Now in its seventh year, SUNY Geneseo invited over 60 Rochester City School District (RCSD) students, from middle and high school levels, to become “college kids,” if only for two warm summertime weeks. Milne Library (along with Fraser Study Center) served as Command Central where many classes and crime scenes occurred. As in past summers, Milne Library offered up space, technology, camp infrastructure, teaching staff and the most suspicious of characters. Two such individuals — among a few others outside of the library — were brought to “trial” on the final day of the academic camp, where they faced their peers and listened to the charges brought against them. The culminating “grand jury hearing” was the highlight of two intense weeks of study and play. RCSD students investigated crime scenes surrounding various art thefts through such coursework and activities as forensic mapping, tagging and bagging of crime scene artifacts; lab work that analyzed chromatography, hair samples, and fingerprints; information gathering through biographical background research of suspects and witnesses and through critical analysis of suspect interviews; and persuasive communication delivery through public speaking, complemented by visual imagery created through technology training.
This was the second time that the RYSAG camp based its theme on Crime Scene Investigation (CSI); the first time was the inaugural camp experience in 2007. Other themes and challenges RCSD students have been faced with include progress vs. preservation through the results of a campus-based archaeological dig; cost vs. environmental sustainability as drafts of an eco-athletic stadium were proposed; and proactive conflict management as a formidable population was due to engulf the Geneseo’s village community.