Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

Gathering Location

Niagara University

This page is about the 2017 Gathering location. Look for more information about the location for 2018 - the University of Toledo, OH - in the fall of 2017.

Niagara University, Niagara Falls, NY

Niagara University is about thirty miles northwest of Buffalo, New York and about twenty-five miles east of St. Catharines, Ontario.

The Niagara Frontier is rich in history. Home to over 1000 years of Seneca Nation history, several centuries of African American History, and to Quakers, who built the very first religious structure in Erie County.  The mighty Niagara Falls are located nearby in America’s oldest state park (1885). From the Niagara University campus, one can take the Discover Niagara free shuttle to over a dozen tourist sites including Niagara Falls, the Underground Railroad Center and Whirlpool State Park. Return to this page in the Spring to see more details and information on other field trips.

Field Trips at the Gathering

Once you are at the Gathering, sign up on site for trips offered Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons.  Costs vary. Learn more about field trips during the upcoming Gathering.

Niagara University Site Visit - Marvin Barnes

Friends,

The 2017 Gathering will be taking place on the campus of Niagara University, located on the banks of the Niagara River, between Lewiston and Niagara Falls New York.  In light of recent concerns by Friends on the selection of Gathering locations, it seemed important to take a look at various aspects of the campus before the arrival of Gathering participants. 

An opportunity to visit campus, by members of the Gathering committee and Friends visiting the Niagara area, provided an independent chance to see Niagara University in session and to review campus layout and the surrounding community, and not be hampered by a prearranged tour.

Located 4 miles from Niagara Falls and easily accessible by air, auto and rail travelers.  As described by the university,

"The Niagara area holds a treasure of wonderful resources to explore and experience. For example, you can visit Niagara Falls, which is just minutes away from the campus, as well  as the many parks that surround the falls and the Niagara River on both the U.S. and Canadians sides of the border. Other well-known attractions include Artpark in Lewiston, historic Old Fort Niagara, Maid of the Mist, the world-famous Aquarium of Niagara Falls, Power Vista, and much more."

Niagara University is an encapsulated community which has been design to provide it's constituents an environment for study and development.  Niagara University provides a number of services to its community, these services are quite evident upon arrival on campus, they includes campus safety and security services with 24-hour foot and vehicle patrols, late night transport/escort service, 24-hour emergency telephones, lighted pathways/sidewalks, controlled dormitory access (key, security card, etc). One noticeable aspect of campus life, is that with the location of campus between two cities; a large percent of students have cars on campus. Upon further inspection it was found that alcohol is permitted for students of legal age at Niagara University.

For Gathering participants, especially those without automobiles, the location of support services such as retail outlets, hospitals and other community entities that are not located on campus will require a little searching to find.  To the north of campus, the town of Lewiston provides the nominal items such as a shopping center, hospital, restaurants and other retail outlets.  To the south of campus, the city of Niagara Falls, also has these nominal items, but due to the structuring of the city to accommodate the millions of visitors to the Falls each year, a Gathering participant will have to do a little exploration to find the desired store or service.  Other than a combination gas station/convenient store, there were no off campus stores or service outlets found within walking distance.  During the campus visit, two public transportation options were found for transport to and from Lewiston and Niagara Falls.  A free scenic visitors trolley and a pay regional transit bus that services both cities.  These options allow participants to explore the surrounding area without having to deal with the heavy traffic created by visitors to the Falls.  During this site visit, no direct public transportation option was found to enable participants to cross the border and visit Niagara Falls Canada; please note, please review the documentation requirements for the border crossing prior to your visit, it was found that the checks made are not perfunctory.  A passport is the most complete and easiest form of documentation to handle crossing the border.  In the case of children who do not have passports, a birth certificate may be required.

During the 2017 Gathering Friends will find the campus quite walkable.  Many of the buildings were built with stairs for access to various floors, however, in most cases access via elevators was found in most major buildings.  The campus is situated to the north of a light industrial and residential areas of the city of Niagara Falls.  If participants choose to take walks in these areas off campus, they will find that most campus adjoining streets do not have side walks in the industrial area. During the visit, there was no reoccurrence of the problems that plagued the 2016 Gathering, campus security seems to be prepared for visitors to campus.  A review the school demographics and observations made during the visit, portray a student body which is growing in it's diversity.

The dining hall for the campus community is currently being expanded.  This expansion and plans to provide for a silent dinning room, and a possible outside dining option will require our indulgence to make sure all Friends are properly accommodated for all meals.  As have been found on campuses during previous Gatherings, a Food Court is located on campus.  This court includes: (Summer hours of operation were not posted during the site visit and what will be open is unclear at this time.)

Subway sandwich shop ,Gally Grill features house-made specialty burgers, Poblano's offers burritos, tacos, salads, nachos and more. Tim Horton's is committed to serving a great cup of coffee.  The Grove C-Store has convenience items available for purchase to suit all needs. From school supplies and toiletries, to frozen dinners and cold beverages, this store is your one stop shop. Pizza Express serves traditional and specialty pizzas and beverages. Bisgrove Coffee Nook serves coffee, specialty drinks and grab and go items.

During the site visit, which was extended to include a visit to the Falls by some of the visiting Friends, Niagara University is situated on a campus that will provide a good environment for the 2017 Gathering.  University staff were quite helpful and cordial when interacting with site visitors.  Friends will find a definite difference between the Niagara University environment and that of some previous Gatherings.  Along with lessons learned at recent Gatherings and heightened sensitivities, these difference should complement the Gathering experience nicely.

Respectively submitted

Marvin Barnes

Birmingham Friends Meeting, Lake Erie Yearly Meeting