Morse Scholarship award winner works to organize Manhattan's renters and influence housing policy
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
MANHATTAN — Thanks to a generous scholarship, one Kansas State University student will spend this summer working to educate and organize Manhattan's renters and tenants.
Nicholas Bouzianis, Tecumseh, has received the 2018 Marjorie J. & Richard L. D. Morse Family and Community Public Policy Scholarship from K-State Libraries. The $3,000 scholarship is awarded to support an undergraduate project that involves community service and has the potential to impact public policy.
Bouzianis, junior in nutritional sciences and pre-medicine, will use the scholarship on the project "Renters Together: A Critical Reflection of an Immersive Community Organizing Experience in Rural, Midwest America."
"I am going to immerse myself in an existing grassroots campaign to impact safe and affordable housing," Bouzianis said. "Then, this fall, we'll produce a written report of best practices in organizing for social change. The data will be useful to other organizers in the community and other communities with similar profiles."
In his application, Bouzianis noted that Manhattan has among the lowest rates of affordable and safe housing in the state, and that unsafe and unaffordable housing disproportionately affects vulnerable populations: low income, elderly, children and the disabled.
"Historically, healthy and equitable housing policies, such as inclusionary zoning, mandatory rental inspections and rent control are achieved when those who are directly affected by the problem organize on their own behalf," he wrote. "Our project — led by the Healthy Communities Lab with a capacity-building grant from the Kansas Health Foundation — aims to transform the local housing system in Manhattan."
"The Morse Scholarship is an extraordinary award because it recognizes an excellent K-State student and connects that individual's energy and interests to a real-world problem," Dean of Libraries Lori Goetsch said. "We look forward to hearing about how Nick leverages his hard work."
Long-term, Bouzianis and program leader Brandon Irwin, assistant professor of kinesiology, hope the project might result in rental reform legislation on the ballot in November.
Bouzianis has worked to strengthen communities through previous volunteer service and internships. In 2016, he was the director of community outreach and research at Kansas State University for the Food Recovery Network, the nation's largest student movement against food waste and hunger. In summer 2017, he was a monitoring and evaluation officer intern for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Zambia.
The Morse Scholarship has been awarded annually since 2001. It was made possible through an endowment established by Marjorie J. and Richard L. D. Morse. Richard Morse was a Kansas State University professor and chair of the family economics department. Marjorie Morse became an expert in child care issues and served in numerous positions in that area throughout her career. In recognition of their financial support of K-State Libraries special collections, the Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections was named in their honor in 1997.