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CAST 50×50: CJA, Criminal Justice Sciences

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The College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST) at Illinois State University is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. This series, CAST 50×50, is designed to highlight 50 faculty, staff, students, alumni, and organizations within CAST that make the college special. These notable people will tell you that every day in CAST is a great day to be a Redbird.

As the semester winds down, #CAST50 chats with Criminal Justice Association (CJA) President Ryan Kennedy. The Criminal Justice Association is working hard to build a sense of community between law enforcement and its constituents.

What is CJA and its mission, vision, and values?

CJA is ISU’s largest Criminal Justice Sciences RSO. We focus primarily on bringing in speakers from various components of the criminal justice system. This can range from local law enforcement officers to federal agents, employees of correctional institutions and then also some emphasis on the court system as well. Our hope as an executive board is to bring in valuable members of the criminal justice system to share with our members some stories from their time in the field, and also advice for students heading into their particular field.

Our members have a wide range of aspirations. Many plan on entering law enforcement, so we try to bring in a variety of different agencies ranging from small local departments to federal agencies such as ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Bureau). We take great pride in our passion for criminal justice and these feelings are shared among all of our members.

“CJA works to bring the community together in an effort to create discussion among students and police officers from around the local area.” —CJA President Ryan Kennedy

A new student is looking to join CJA. What to do they need to know?

We meet twice a month on varying days. This way if some of our members have night class on a Monday, they may be able to attend the next meeting that is held on a Thursday. Our dues are a simple one-time fee of $15 and can be paid by cash or check at any of our general meetings. We also have a membership form which can be found on the CJA page of the Criminal Justice Sciences Department website. Outside of general meetings we also try to plan additional events. An example of one of these events would be the “Cookout with the Cops” event we hosted this past fall. This event hosted multiple police agencies from around the area and was a great event for bringing officers together with students to enjoy some conversation and a meal. The only duties of our general members is that they attend meetings as often as they can!

Does CJA participate in service or any community activities?

CJA hosted the large “Cookout with the Cops” event in the fall semester to bring the community together in an effort to create discussion among students and police officers from around the local area.  The event was coordinated with the help of Student Government Association and we look forward to planning similar events in the future. We are also holding a donation drive for the Neville House domestic violence shelter for the remainder of the spring semester in an effort to help out the community during this difficult time due to budgetary issues.

What types of leadership positions are in CJA?

The executive board consists of six positions: president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, social media chair, and diversity chair. The current executive board consists of myself, Patrick Scott, Chauntay Parrish, Cruz Tafolla, Tameka Newman, and Irving Rivera. We come together twice a month to plan our general meetings throughout the semester and organize speakers for each event. We also work together to coordinate fundraising opportunities for the club as well as apparel sales for our general members!

Does CJA have any additional committees or leadership positions?

CJA does not have any official committees or leadership positions outside of the executive board. However, we do have incredible support from our advisers and the Criminal Justice Sciences faculty as a whole. Without their help we would not see the success that we do! We do work together with faculty members and other organizations such as SGA occasionally to co-sponsor events on campus.

What about CJA sets your RSO apart?

The wide variety of speakers that we have really sets us apart from other RSOs on campus. We have so many different possibilities for speakers that we are always learning something new. We have had federal agencies come in and speak, members from multiple SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams throughout Illinois, members of gang units from around the state, corrections officers, and many more!

“Any interest in a career within criminal justice? Come check out CJA!” —CJA President, Ryan Kennedy

What is a recent event CJA has hosted?

We hosted on campus testing with a large out-of-state police department in the fall for the convenience of our students. With the support and help of CJS, members of the police department in Madison, Wisconsin, were able to travel to ISU and set up a testing day for students. Members of CJA were able to take the MPD written test and learn additional information about the city and their application process. Multiple students made it far into their hiring process so we were happy with the success of this event and hope to host others in the future!

What else should we know about CJA?

If you have any interest in a career working in the criminal justice system, feel free to come out and see what CJA is about! There is an abundance of opportunities for our members to learn more about different fields and to network with potential sites for internships as well as employment post-graduation!