YSU to host OCCJE conference

By Natalie Lasky

Youngstown State University Criminal Justice Club is preparing for the Ohio Council of Criminal Justice Education research conference on April 28.

The conference’s purpose is to provide students, faculty, practitioners and the public the opportunity to present research for knowledge and policy-building.

John Hazy, professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Consumer Sciences and the host and coordinator for the OCCJE, said there will be multiple types of presentations throughout Kilcawley Center, offering individuals a variety of styles of presentations.

“OCCJE will take place throughout Kilcawley. Registration and lunch with the keynote speaker and awards will be in the Chestnut Room. Presentations will be in various rooms throughout Kilcawley like it is for YSU’s Quest. We’ll have poster presentations and “normal” slide presentations too,” Hazy said.

Monica Merrill, assistant professor and Criminal Justice Club advisor, said there are opportunities offered through events such as the OCCJE.

“As far as the club specifically, students who want to participate can expect to find a whole bunch of opportunities to engage in research if they want,” Merrill said. “YSU has a strong tradition of leadership in the crime and justice education field.”

Merrill said it has been ten years since the conference was last held at YSU. Since the pandemic, this year will be the first that club members can participate in the OCCJE.

“It’s pretty exciting because YSU will be hosting it here for the first time in about 10 years, and it brings together students, [and] faculty and kind of gives everybody an opportunity to showcase their research,” Merrill said.

Irene Denney is a graduate student at YSU focusing on criminal justice with a homeland security tract. Denney’s currently a graduate research assistant in the Department of Criminal Justice and Consumer Sciences. 

Denney is also a student representative for the OCCJE board of trustees and said there is significance in internships for criminal justice majors. 

“[Internships are] a crucial component in a successful transition from graduation to achieving that full-time career,” Denney said.

Nino Shubitidze, an international graduate assistant for the YSU criminal justice department, said the club is not just about research but also about policing the community through volunteering and working within the district and networking.

“One of the most important aspects in criminal justice is networking, and for that purpose, our club plans to invite some guest speakers,” Shubitidze said. “We plan to bring in guest speakers from the FBI and [big agencies] like that.”

Merrill also said the OCCJE is only one of the various events that the Criminal Justice Club has done in the past and that the club tailors trips and events to the interests of the club members.

“We’ve gone and visited local prisons, we’ve taken a trip to Quantico, things like that. And it’s really driven by student interests. So whatever this group of students kind of expresses the most interest in if it’s research, if it’s going places, if it’s bringing in speakers about specific things,” Merrill said.

For more information, visit the OCCJE website, and for more information regarding the Criminal Justice Club, contact Monica Merrill at mmmerrill@ysu.edu.