Senior art show featured in gallery

COURTNEY SMITH
STAFF WRITER

Starting March 16th, the senior art show commences in the Flora Kirsch Beck Art Gallery of the Clack Art Center here on campus. This show features the artistic pieces that the senior art majors have worked on diligently throughout the course of several years. It also serves as an opportunity to spotlight the hard work and dedication of these artists before they leave Alma College.

Each senior’s portion of the gallery showcases different themes and explores their individual inspirations and interests through their work. Some seniors chose to address important societal issues through their pieces. “My work generally, as an overview, interrogates consumer choices like mass production and my biggest interest is animal agriculture, mostly factory farming.” said Calum Clow, ‘20.

Many of the senior art majors drew inspiration from their personal experiences and backgrounds while constructing their artwork.

“I am making work based on specific difficult experiences and relationships that had a huge impact on who I am, how I accept myself, and how I love and value those close to me. I specifically take inspiration from night terrors I had as a kid, and combine that sense of fear with these specific experiences, which was kind of therapeutic and healing throughout my process.” said Paige Shaw, ‘20.

Others constructed their art projects with innovative, practical usage in mind — totally repurposing the way we appreciate art as a society.

“The idea that I had throughout working on my show is how we can potentially incorporate sustainable living into our homes through dual-use furniture. My favorite part of my show is the plausible implication of it into functioning homes.” said Ivy VanPoppelin, ‘20.

Working on the senior art show was not just a senior-year project for these artists. Many of the senior art majors have been working on these projects for the past several years, and they have spent even longer planning for it.

“I knew I wanted to do something with animal agriculture from the time I was a freshman, it’s something I’ve always been interested in making my work around. The recycling I’ve been implementing into my work over my four years here. Overall, I would say I actively started working on my senior show over the past two years.” said Clow.

Although constructing the senior art show involved countless hours of hard work from these senior art majors, they certainly enjoyed themselves throughout the process.

“My favorite part of working on this show was making works of art specifically for me. I also loved seeing my art family everyday. I’m going to miss them like hell next year.” said Shaw.

In addition, putting together this major show served as a learning experience for these artists, and they grew a lot as artists through the process.

“I figured out what I like and what makes me tick through working on this show. I know I like working with vibrant, technicolor stuff. I like more expressive mark making. I developed my own artistic vocabulary, and I feel like I learned about myself while working on this show.” said Clow.

Although the senior art show is a pleasure for all attendees, there are greater implications to viewing and appreciating the arts in the present day.

“With a lack of funding for the arts, this is a time more than ever that we need creative thinking. I always encourage people to come out and see the art.” said Clow.

With all of the hard work the seniors have put into this show, students can show their appreciation by visiting the gallery any time between March 16th to April 17th.

“I think all the senior art majors have done an amazing job on pieces and I hope everyone enjoys it!” said VanPoppelin.

Scotlight: Meet Dr. Harwood

CHELSEA FABER
STAFF WRITER

This week I sat down with Dr. Harwood, Environmental Science and Biology professor, to chat about her work with research students and her role fostering retired greyhounds. Here’s the chat:

Chelsea: What was your pre-Alma experience, what lead to what you’re doing now?

Dr. Harwood: I did my bachelors degree in a small liberal arts college in Illinois. I joke that it was also very Alma-like, we were also the ‘Fighting Scots’ so I had pre bagpipe exposure, tons of plaid stuff already, I have some stuff from my old days that I could probably still wear here! But yeah, same principle of a small liberal arts college, then I did my masters and PhD at Southern Illinois University, became a toxicologist and then taught at a small liberal arts college in Springfield, IL. They actually ended their undergrad programs, so I ended up at Alma! This actually worked out much better because it was more of what I wanted for a long-term goal.

C: I know you do a lot of work with students, what is this research that you do, and how are students involved?

H: One of the reasons I want to be at a place like Alma is because I wanted to – my favorite thing to teach, I love classroom stuff, but I love to teach students how to do science. The best place to do that is with their own projects. My research is very student driven. I have a couple of main areas now, those being working at the Superfund site, doing research with predicting bioavailability. The other big one is road salt, I try to do community based, it might not be something we think about in Alma but it’s something we should be thinking about in Michigan.

C: I know you do a lot of work with Greyhounds, lets dive into that:

H: I do! I got into greyhounds a little over two years ago, actually my first greyhound’s gotcha day is March 17th, so two years ago. I was 100% skeptical, because there is a large fraction of them that are 70 pound cats honestly, very aloof, they kind of do their own thing, I was very skeptical. But my husband really likes sighthounds because his sister had a borzoi, but we wanted one we could adopt. That’s my style, all my dogs are pound dogs. The group that I volunteer with, Allyies for Greyhounds, they have these things called meet and greets, where you can go and meet the dogs, the last one I went to there was 15 dogs there. I learned that there is a much bigger range of personality, it is narrower than most dogs, they aren’t all as laid back, but they mostly are very calm, very well mannered. When we did our adoption, they brought three dogs to our house and you ‘bachelor style’ pick one, that one stays at your house and the other two go back with them. I asked them to basically send the three craziest ones because I wanted a very high energy dog. About a year into us having him, they put a call out for people to be foster homes. I thought, well should we try it? And we’ve been fostering for about a year now. Our strategy is that we don’t mind the high energy dogs, where most people want the super chill side of things, we talk to the adoption coordinator, and say ‘who needs to get out of the kennel’, and we go pick them up. We keep them in our house and teach them how to be a house dog until they get adopted! Another thing I do with greyhounds is give information and be an advocate for the breed. For example, one of the most irritating things about this is that people often ask if they’re a rescue, where we don’t say they’re a rescue, we say they’re retired. Once I started meeting trainers and people who have been to the track and been to the kennels and have now met hundreds of dogs, they are not abused. So, we don’t say they’re rescued, they’re retired. When they get injured, which happens to many athletes, they get retired. That is another thing, informing people how they are not this abused dog, they are a professional athlete who is no

longer doing that. Once you get into these groups you realize they are so tightly knit that you will never see a racing greyhound in a pound, because if one gets there, a group will come pick it up and bring it back into a foster home. They have a higher placement than your average golden retriever, they’re so regulated. A lot of people think they’re forced to race but you can’t force a dog to do anything, you certainly can’t force them to run as fast as they can. You’ll never see a retired racehorse run for fun, my ex-racing dogs run for fun every day! They love it, you can’t stop them.

C: What opportunities are within your department, and then at Alma as a whole that you don’t think enough students know about, that more should take advantage of?

H: I think students should take as many research opportunities, and summer research opportunities as they possibly can get away with. And another thing people often don’t realize is that you can do research during the school year. If you have to have a summer job, you can do research during the school year and you can get credits for that. The other thing is to try to get into research early, then if you have a few years of experience, some of your professors will take you to a conference. So, if you start with me as a sophomore you’re almost guaranteed to go to a conference.

C: Following up on that, if a student wanted to start research with you or any other professor, how should they go about that?

H: Knock on their door! Send them an email! That’s usually how most do it but know that they fill up fast!

ALICE training on campus brings controversy

JORDYN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

On March 3, students and faculty alike received a call alerting them that an active shooter was on campus and to execute the procedures that they were informed of. Of course, it was just a drill that everyone was emailed about ahead of time to prepare, but nobody knew when it would happen.

The ALICE training is an active shooter training, and is represented by an acronym that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evade (or Evacuate). Alma College adapted their own version of this and sent a PowerPoint presentation campus-wide that explained the steps of what to do if a situation arises, along with a video. The email also stated the college’s two evacuation points: Alma First Presbyterian Church and Alma First Church of God.

“I think they should have made a more detailed PowerPoint to go with the email or had [professors] take–even just a little–class time to make sure everyone knew what was going on beforehand. The PowerPoint did a good job of explaining what to do, but not a good job of explaining when to do it,” said Katie Bailey (‘22).

She added that during her training as an FYG she was also trained how to go about the ALICE training, and was still confused then.

The drill occurred during the 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. time slot. If students did not have class, many were in bed, or at least in their dorms.

“I was in my room when it happened and I just stayed [there] and locked my door— but should I have left?” said Bailey, who was getting ready for class and wasn’t sure what to do.

Students were concerned about only being alerted by a phone call, especially if they were in their rooms or asleep.

“I got one phone call; I feel like two would have been cool,” said Mackenzie Hetzler (‘22).

Some people did not even receive a phone call and only knew about the training if their friends told them. Additionally, some professors were unaware of the training–despite the emails–or where to evacuate to.

“I heard from some friends who were in SAC at the time say that their [professors] had them evacuating by just going down the stairs. I know [one] step is to always try to escape, but if there was actually a shooter, I don’t know if anyone would actually risk the stairs,” said Bailey.

Students were also concerned about walking to the evacuation centers, as this would force them to walk in open areas unprotected, and lead to them being an available target for any danger if it did ultimately occur. Additionally, the fact that many people did not understand what to do–even after being sent the emails–led to frustration.

“There should have been a debriefing so that we could discuss what happened versus what should have happened or what could be improved in the future,” said Hetzler, who

even suggested campus sending out a survey to see what was understood and what was not.

“I feel like without the debriefing it’s not training; it’s just a thing that happened that the majority of campus didn’t even care about.”

Hetzler even commented that boys were outside her dorm room screaming, rather than taking part in the drill.

Even with the chaos and dissatisfaction of students and faculty at the way it was depicted, people on campus still understand the importance of the drills, just wish for improvements.

“I understand that it’s needed. I like that we do [ALICE training] instead of lockdowns like they used to make us do in high school,” said Bailey.

Regardless of whether it feels legitimate or not, everyone should still take these drills seriously. Although they are only drills, they are implemented to help prepare in case a tragedy does happen. School shootings are unfortunately very common today, and even though nothing can truly prepare you for the worst, practicing these methods and understanding the steps of Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evade could potentially save a life.

“No war with Iran” ignites Twitter fued

EMILY HENDERSON
STAFF WRITER

Earlier this semester a student group on campus hung a red painted banner that read, “No War with Iran.” Shortly after the banner was placed outside the library, it was removed and later found in the trash.

This sparked quite a bit of drama not only around campus, but on one of the many Alma social media pages students use to anonymously vent. Alma Confessions, an anonymously run Twitter, was the page that saw the true heat of this argument.

Students from both the right and left took to Twitter to retweet, argue in the comments or just watch the show.

The banner and its removal lead to quite the political unrest on our small campus.

“The act of tearing down the banner, on its own, is a completely acceptable form of expression. That being said, it’s cowardly and also is the result of ignorance,” said Aristotle Karonias (‘22).

Some felt as though the students who tore down the banner continued their argument by hiding behind a screen. There was much argument over whether or not the removal of this banner was an act of free speech, or students just trying to cause a ruckus.

Not only were people discussing the banner on Twitter, slurs were being hurled from one direction to the next.

There were quite a few tweets posted by the Alma Confessions page in regards to the banner and its whereabouts, and others were in regards to students questioning why some had a problem with its removal, and yet others were discussing the issues with tearing it down.

Alma Confessions posted a tweet sent in by a student that read, “We 100% put that [redacted] banner in the trash. Then took it down again and brought that [redacted] off campus so it’ll never be found. Quit being [redacted] soft liberal pieces of shit. #NukeTfOutOfIran.”

Some of the students who put the banner up were bothered by the tweet being posted on this twitter, and arguments ensued. While some are angry, others tried to look at the situation with optimism and positivity.

“I do love everyone and stand to the fact that these people are still our peers and friends. What they did and believe in may reflect poor ideals, but they still have the right to those and expression, such as tearing down the flag,” said Karonias.

This entire issue brought forth a giant red flag, and not the one that was hung by the library.

Are Twitter pages like Alma Confessions more harmful than beneficial to our campus? Arguments can and have been made for both sides.

Pages like this one allow students a place to vent where they may not have otherwise been able to, which allows a certain kind of freedom that many students may feel they are lacking. On the other hand, this kind of anonymity can allow for the harassment of others with what feels like no backlash or punishment.

Already there have been tweets singling women out on our campus, and more will surely follow.

Pages like Alma Confessions must be aware of what they are posting, and can choose whether or not they will tweet or share something that may be harmful to their fellow students on campus.

Even after all of the arguments and posts found on the Alma Confessions page, students still feel as though it is more helpful than harmful on campus.

“Alma Confessions is a vital resource in the means of channeling our first amendment freedom of speech rights, in a way that somewhat can separate identity from message conveyed. For this reason, I think that to eliminate it would be an attack on that aspect of our constitutionally given rights,” said Karonias.

Coronavirus affect spring-terms

BAILEY LANGO
DISTRIBUTION MANAGER

Only two weeks after returning from spring break, the campus was brought to an abrupt halt with the sudden onset of panic over COVID-19. Late Wednesday night, the campus received an email from Jeff Abernathy, president of the college, stating that classes would be moved online starting April 3rd, but reminding everyone that schedules would continue as usual until then. President Abernathy shared that there were two possible cases under investigation, one living off campus and the other under quarantine.

However, early Friday morning brought an even more abrupt halt to things as President Abernathy sent out another update stating that Friday would be the last day of in-person classes with the following Wednesday, March 18th, marking the start of online classes, and that commencement would be postponed until further notice. There was a mix of emotions on campus, including anger, sadness and confusion.

Despite the sudden change in plans, students quickly gathered together to say their goodbyes. Senior Laureano Thomas-Sanchez (‘20) quickly went to Twitter, announcing, “I’ll be playing pipes in mac mall at 11:30 today. Lets [sic] bring in a little music to these rough times and try to find some joy where we can.” A mass of students gathered around to listen as the sound of bagpipes filled the air. Many students cried, deeply saddened by the sudden ending and unsure of the future.

The college continued to send updates to students throughout the day, assuring those that needed spring terms that all would be taken care of. For seniors that need another spring term to graduate this spring, the S-course requirement has been waived. For all other students, spring terms would be figured out, but an S-course is still required in the coming years.

As classes came to an end at 5pm, the Alma College Choir rounded together on the library steps to give one last performance of “Loch Lomond” for the year. With emotions strung high, tears flowed freely, especially from seniors.

In terms of nationwide updates within the past week, the BBC reported that the US had banned travel to and from “26 Schengen countries – 22 European Union members and four non-EU.” Beginning Monday, that list has expanded to include the UK and Ireland. At a press conference on Friday, President Donald Trump said, “I don’t take any responsibility at all,” and continued to blame Obama-era administration for the failure of taking early action to test for coronavirus

Trigger warnings in Gun Play stir campus opinions

COURTNEY SMITH
STAFF WRITER

Two weeks ago, Gunplay debuted on Alma College Campus. This unique theatrical work was produced entirely by the students of Dr. Joanne Gilbert’s Performing Advocacy class the previous semester, and was directed by Dr. GIlbert herself.

Gunplay highlights the byproducts of gun violence in America. The plotline addresses themes of school shootings, police brutality, domestic violence and suicide.

Because the portrayal of topics such as these can be upsetting to audience members, trigger warnings were issued before the production began.

“The posters for the show featured a stylized graphic of an AR-15 and a message in large font that read: WARNING: ADULT CONTENT,” said Dr. Gilbert, Charles A. Dana professor of communication.” “I discussed this with Scott Mackenzie, chair of the theatre and dance department, and we agreed that the posters, programs and pre-show audio should all feature this warning due to the subject matter of the production.”

Issuing trigger warnings for a variety of different content has become standardized over the last decade. Trigger warnings allow audience members a chance to prepare themselves for potentially upsetting content. They also provide the audience members a choice to opt out of viewing the production.

“A trigger warning to me means that the content you are about to see will make you feel uncomfortable. If it’s something that would be offensive to viewers – take certain parts of the play for example – I would mention them on the poster and at the start of the show.” said Sophia Lioli, (’22).

Although trigger warnings were issued prior to each of the four productions of Gunplay, some students felt that certain content required a more specified announcement to allow audience members to prepare themselves.

“The suicide scene was deeply disturbing and was not something I thought was going to happen when watching the play in spite of the trigger warnings,” said Lioli.

Others felt that the trigger warnings issued sufficed in preparing the audience for any potentially shocking content, and that the presence of certain content in the play could be inferred prior to the performance.

“The warning for Gunplay was intended to alert potential audiences that the show featured disturbing content. We did not want to be stipulative and describe the entire plot, and believed that the combination of the topic, the title, the warning and the promotion of the show was sufficient to convey to potential audiences that this play was about gun violence.” said Gilbert.

Certain audience members felt that Gunplay could have been produced without some of the more disturbing and graphic content and that the omission of such content would not distort the overall message of the show.

“It would have been better without the suicide scene. I am sure they could have given their message to the audience in a more comfortable way — a way that would not resort to a person committing suicide in the second to final scene,” said Lioli.

However, the producers of Gunplay included vivid, uninhibited content, although it made some feel uncomfortable, in order to make a strong impact on the audience.

“Early on, I told our set designer, Sam Moretti, that I never wanted the audience to feel comfortable because comfort leads to complacency–the opposite of action–and I wanted audiences to leave with the desire to act,” said Gilbert.

In spite of controversy surrounding trigger warnings, Gunplay was the product of dedication of many hardworking individuals and sent a strong message to viewers, which was the desired goal.

“I am incredibly proud of and grateful for the work my students did to create dramatic scenes and represent actual community voices through their interviews, statistical research, writing and performing,” said Gilbert

Students concerned about pipes bursting

JORDAN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

Students are worried about their belongings being compromised due to floods happening on campus.

Two different instances have occurred to warrant these concerns: a pipe connection failure in Brazell Hall and a lavatory valve failure in Bonbright Hall. Students are still worried that they will be the next affected.

“When the pipe burst, the room started flooding with hot iron-colored water. It started coming out from the sides and under the door of the bathroom,” said Brooklynn Jonassen (‘20), who had valve failure in her bathroom on the first floor of Bonbright.

This was the first instance this semester. An alarm went off in Bonbright and Carey, evacuating everyone from the buildings.

“We were told to grab anything we would need for at least 48 hours,” said Jonassen.

She and her roommate were then moved into Newberry. Facilities told them to grab things for at least 48 hours, but they were notified they could move back in later in the week.

“We went and looked [at the room], and it was not cleaned at all,” said Jonassen, who decided to stay in Newberry instead.

The second instance this semester was on the second floor of Brazell Hall, where there was a failure in the pipe connection. This was due to the overnight winter temperatures.

“As the water within the pipe froze, it expanded and pushed apart the solder joint (what holds two pipes together).

There are hundreds of miles of piping on this campus and hundreds upon thousands of connecting joints [and] valves everywhere on this campus for heating and domestic water. It only takes one perfect scenario for a piece of infrastructure to fail,” said Ryan Stoudt, associate director of facilities.

With this being an interior issue based on outside temperatures, students cannot do anything to keep this from happening.

“When a situation happens, it is unfortunately inevitable for the people in the immediate area [to be affected],” said Stoudt.

The majority of the floor was flooded, along with some of the first floor, as well.

“There were 21 students affected during the Brazell incident,” said Stoudt.

“I was in my room just chilling when I heard a girl yelling in the hall, so I got out of bed and walked to my door, only to step into water,” said Katie Wilder (‘20).

She opened her door to see water flowing from the room across the hall.

“It took security [around 10] minutes to show up, and then they called facilities. At this point, the water was moving pretty fast, so I put some towels down in an attempt to delay the flow. Overall, it took an hour and 20 minutes for facilities to show up and turn

the water off. [Campus officials] will now be training security on where the water mains are and how to shut them off in all the buildings on campus, since they apparently didn’t know how to do that before.”

Students who had damage to their rooms were put into temporary housing while their rooms were cleaned and were let back in throughout that week, most being back within 24 hours.

Stoudt stressed that though this may seem like a large amount of people being affected by these instances, this was only two incidents campus-wide; they just happened to both be on south campus.

“This is a really low number in comparison to the amount of piping we have through the campus. Any and all areas on campus are subject to [failure]; this does not just pertain to south campus,” said Stoudt.

If students are wondering what precautionary actions they should take in case a situation like this happens to them as well, Stoudt recommends students read the Housing Agreement Terms and Conditions under article 19 to become better informed. To be brief, this states that Alma College is not responsible for damage to or loss of property for any reason, which includes flooding. Many parents’ homeowner insurance policies may also cover a certain amount of damages, but students would need to look more into that themselves.

The Housing Agreement also strongly recommends that residents on campus look into and secure renter’s insurance to protect themselves against something like this happening, because it can happen at any time without warning.

“Make sure cords, backpacks [and anything else] are off the ground because you never know when something might happen and if you’ll be here to react to it,” said Wilder.

Trans students want to see Alma’s actions speak

CHAPIN KARTSOUNES
WEB EDITOR

The lack of restrooms that are available for any student, no matter what gender they prefer, on Alma’s campus is something to question.

You may not have noticed this issue because it doesn’t particularly affect you, but for the students that it does, it is more than an inconvenience.

There are very few all gender bathrooms in common areas of campus, and this problem needs to be solved. There are students on our own campus who have nowhere to do something that everyone does, and no one can help.

It’s time we start growing with society and creating spaces that allow people to use the bathroom if they need to, just like everyone else can.

There is a solution to this issue — we need single use bathrooms that are accessible and plenty around campus. These can be used by anyone, no matter what gender they identify as.

In the end, no one would be inconvenienced. A lot of people would be helped, and a positive change would be made!

I think the first step of this process should be addressing the few all gender bathrooms that already exist on our campus.

The most well-known all gender bathrooms are the ones on the first floor of Dow. These are routinely disgusting. The smell carries past the door, and the toilets are always very dirty.

The point is there, but Trans students deserve the basic decency of having a restroom that is useable.

Another gender inclusive bathroom used to exist across from Tyler Van Dusen but has since been removed and painted over. There are only male and female bathrooms in Saga, as well as the rec center.

There are no public all gender bathrooms in SAC, but students are allowed to use the one in the teacher’s lounge on the first floor if needed.

It is absolutely not okay that a student may have to walk up and/or down three flights of stairs just to use the restroom during class.

This issue has surpassed being just an inconvenience to students who need single use bathrooms. It can interfere with their health and disrupt their education because they would need to walk up and down flights of stairs which would cause them to miss more class time than those who could just use the restroom down the hall.

Because of the fact that I am cisgender, I have spoken to many individuals with whom the lack of all gender bathrooms effects. I then decided to use my voice as a staff member of The Almanian to broadcast their worries.

“If I’m somewhere like the rec or SAC, I’ll have to walk across campus just to use the bathroom,” said Oliver Labuda (’22). Labuda also stated that they sometimes leave SAC during class to use the single use restroom in the Eddy Music Hall.

Other students opened up to me about their struggles with not having a bathroom that is accessible to them.

“I have taken to social media to speak out about the issue,” said David Parnell III (’21) who has spoken with members of administration about the lack of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.

“Your Trans students just need your actions to speak,” Parnell stated in a tweet that got several likes and retweets from other Alma students.

The school has taken a step by making bathrooms of dorm buildings single person use because anyone can use and access them at any point.

If we had more areas like this around campus, it would be a step towards making Trans students on campus feel a little more comfortable.

When you have a marginalized group speaking out and asking, “hey, we need this thing to make us feel more humane on your campus,” and the issue only seems to get worse, there needs to be a call to action.

The college should take responsibility for this mistake and allocate more bathrooms around campus to being single use, all gendered and easily accessible. This is a small step that could help many students at Alma who deserve comfortability.

Next time you’re walking around common areas of campus buildings, check the bathrooms. If you see an all gender bathroom, check the conditions. If none are satisfactory, or there isn’t one in sight, realize that.

Alma College, we want to see change. As long as everyone pees, they all deserve a place to be able to do so.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Collamati

CHELSEA FABER
STAFF WRITER

Welcome back. This week, I sat down with Dr. Anthony Collamati, Chair of Communication and New Media Studies. We met in the DMC conference room on Friday afternoon.

Chelsea: First, I always like to talk about your background. What was your Pre-Alma experience, and how did you get here?

Dr. Collamati: My Pre-Alma experience was in the corn fields of Indiana –no, well, kind of. I was born there in the Midwest, but I grew up around Boston, and went to a small liberal arts school in New Hampshire. You see it often during times like this when people are debating, usually the democratic or republican debates will travel through my alma mater which is Saint Anselm College. That not only steered me into, I was an English major initially, I worked with some great faculty, and I really fell in love with the liberal arts experience. I don’t think I would be here today if it wasn’t for that kind of college. Then, I was in Chicago. I went to grad school thinking that maybe I wanted to teach or write, and I ended up getting into film. I worked on film a little bit in Boston, and it was always one thing or the other, and I had the good and bad fortune of writing a script and getting people interested in giving me money to make it and direct it. Seems like good fortune, but the bad fortune was that the script wasn’t too good. So, it wasn’t a really great film, but I learned a heck of a lot because I got the chance to work with some very talented people. Actors, cinematographers, production designers, it was another education. And then Clemson after that, as a way to marry the film work I was doing in Chicago with the teaching that I had always loved to do. They had a program that was interdisciplinary, kind of like new media studies now.

C: So then from there, you said you wanted to be a teacher, so after that program did you intend to become a professor, or were you still looking to be a filmmaker?

A: When I was in Chicago, when I left, this was way back in the day, the internet was just getting dusted off! I didn’t want to have a career in academia at that point, but I always loved to teach. I didn’t necessarily want to study things, I wanted to make things. But then, given a little time, these programs started to change and started to involve making along with teaching. That’s where I found a place.

C: I try to do some background research before we sit down to have a good concept of the work you do, and I saw that you worked on a film with Alma students recently. Can you talk about this experience, and why including students to create these things is important?

A: Absolutely, in Chicago I worked on a few projects of mine, and worked with a few crews. When I started teaching classes here at Alma, as part of the new media studies program, there is that experience of working on a set with professionals. We do it a little bit with students in the spring, but getting on a set on location with a full crew is a totally different experience that I can’t replicate in a classroom. At the same time, I really wanted to keep making things. I teamed up with a great partner who cowrites with me and produces a lot of our films, actually all of our films. We suddenly had this project that was starting to gather some momentum; it was called ‘Break my Bones.’ Part of our pitch was that we wanted to take people who were really good in the industry, at the time. This was right after the tax credits folded in Michigan, so there were all these cool people who were still here, that had just worked on films like ‘Batman vs Superman,’ ‘Transformers.’ They had all this really great experience. We wanted to give students the opportunity to work alongside them and learn from them, and that’s what happened with ‘Break my Bones,’ and a couple years later we did it again with another film called ‘Base Camp.’

C: Really interesting; I’ve been really interested in film. In high school, I got really into stop motion movies with LEGOs in painted box sets.

A: Yeah!

C: I have a whole new respect for that, so much work goes into a single minute of content.

A: As we speak, my eldest has a big cardboard box full of LEGOs with a painted background on the foot of his bed that I have to remind myself not to trip over when I wake him up. Yeah, that’s how he’s getting into it too.

C: It definitely is fun. To get back on track, what programs that your department is involved with do you think more students should know about or utilize?

A: So, there is a student production company here called “Bitworks” that is run by students. They work with clients and do jobs from creating videos, doing photoshoots, redesigning graphics or retooling websites. They get paid better than any other position on campus, and they get this really important experience that is client based. It’s not the way some people want to work; It might not be as magical as stop motion, or the narrative stuff, but it can be really rewarding in different ways, and your work can impact a community, or give them experience that will last long after graduation.

C: That seems like a really good opportunity. Do you have any closing thoughts about your Alma experience or words of advice for students who want to pursue something like that?

A: Yeah, I think the real strength of Alma College is that, and I say this quite a bit — Our greatest weakness is also our greatest strength: we’re small, we’re isolate. It can be seen as a weakness. But I think a great strength that we have is that we’re small, we’re rural, we’re located in the middle of the state. Why is that a strength? Because we have the opportunity to get to know each other and work across divisions that other people are more confined by, to be a little more adaptable and move quickly in adapting. We don’t always do it, but when we do, really cool things can happen.

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