Posts in: Around Campus
By Montana Bass ’18
Students go to their friends when they’re dealing with a problem, and knowing how to best support a friend in need is the premise behind START, the Student Title IX Assistance and Resource Team. This program provides a new resource for students seeking Title IX-related support, including sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, or any form of gender-based discrimination. It was founded by McKenna Becker ‘17, Jamie Baum ’18, and Leah Ciffilillo ’18, with support from Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Maria Mendez.
It’s a program started by students, for students, and it depends on students offering to participate on the START team. The application period is open now through April 26. Once selected, the START team will complete 40 hours of training with TESSA, an organization that works to support victims and end sexual and family violence.
The team will learn about sexual assault and domestic violence confidential victim advocacy as well as participate in multiple sessions with Mendez and CC’s Title IX office. The result will be a group of student-experts on both sexual assault response and Title IX proceedings, equipped with all the resources necessary to be effective first responders to students who experience sexual assault and explain the options they have for further resources.
The cofounders are launching the program in an effort to make resources and support more accessible to students. “This started from going to parties or talking to friends and seeing how often, students would like help and support, but they don’t take advantage or are not comfortable accessing them,” says Becker.
“Hopefully this will provide a lower risk entry point for students,” says Mendez. “We know the majority of the time students feel most comfortable reaching out to a peer or friend and so we want to make sure we have a trained group of their peers who can help them access the resources available to them. Often, students see coming to my office as a really big step, and so having a resource comprised of peers may lower any barriers that might prevent students from getting the information they need.”
“Our team will meet students where they want, when they want to meet, and they’ll be able to both sign up for these meetings and ask questions to our team anonymously,” explains Becker.
A main goal of the cofounders is to develop the START team so that it is representative of all students on campus. “It’s really important that the students using this resource identify with it, so they don’t hesitate to use it,” says Baum. Adds Becker, “We really want to make sure that our members understand how sexual assault and intimate partner violence affect different communities differently.”
Based on the acknowledgment that students will talk to friends about their sexual experiences, the START team will attempt to bring preparedness to the role of confidante. “There have been many studies that have shown that the first response is the most impactful on the way that the survivor views their experience and moves forward with recovery and healing,” says Baum. For this reason, well-meaning, uninformed friends can actually do more harm than good. “We find that even the acknowledgement of needing a resource is huge. Even if somebody doesn’t want to go through the process, that’s fine; at least they’re aware of what’s available” she says.
In the eyes of START founders, an arena for open dialogue and support between students will not only fill a need, it will counter the normalization of rape culture and destigmatize talking about the issue. “We aren’t considered advocates,” Becker clarifies. “We aren’t counselors. We aren’t there to give advice or tell people what to do. We are providing options so they can make the most informed decision and regain agency that can feel lost when you’re going through something like this.”
Mendez notes that Title IX related services are available through several offices including, but are not limited to, confidential consultation with access to information about what the Title IX complaint process looks like, who to reach out to should they want to pursue a formal complaint, access to accommodations in class, housing, or referrals to counseling. The Chaplain’s Office and Tre Wentling, gender and identity development specialist in the Butler Center, also offer these confidential resources.
Interested in becoming a member of the START team? Email START@coloradocollege.edu today and submit your application by Wednesday, April 26.
By Montana Bass ’19
Currently on display at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the “Force/Resistance” exhibit speaks to the relationship between power and violence, particularly as demonstrated through tensions between U.S. police use of force and citizen protest. The exhibit features the work of artists Floyd Tunson, Dareece Walker, and Walter and Bunky Echo-Hawk, along with the film, “Force/Resistance: From Standing Rock to Colorado Springs,” produced by CC’s own Arielle Mari ’12, Han Sayles ’15, and Dwanna Robertson, assistant professor of race, ethnicity, and migration studies.
The installation comes at a time of national tension surrounding perceived infringements on citizens’ civil rights by government policies and law enforcement. As complementary pieces, the still works focus particularly on highlighting the humanity of protestors in the Black Lives Matter movement, and the documentary tells the story of self-proclaimed “water protectors” who have been opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline for the past year. Curator Jessica Hunter-Larsen says a series of campus conversations coordinated by the Butler Center about police violence, as well as the Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies program’s spring series “Race and Terror” inspired her to put the installation together.
She says she hopes the exhibit provides members of the Colorado Springs community, including CC students, a place to contemplate and discuss challenging issues. “An opportunity to practice radical empathy is necessary to begin to make real change in the world,” says Hunter-Larsen. “The exhibition is at its core about speaking truth to power, through visual images and through the narrative format that the film offers. Ideally, then, the gallery becomes a forum for discussion about the various ways in which power is used, abused, and resisted.”
It was Hunter-Larsen who reached out to the producers of the documentary, Mari, Sayles, and Robertson, about exploring a connection between Standing Rock and Colorado Springs. The result, as Mari explains, is an expansion on the idea of protest. Their documentary not only reports the high stakes of the Standing Rock conflict, but also the incredible community created through the act of resistance. Interviewees speak with deeply moving conviction, often sharing very similar sentiments regarding their experience. “I think it speaks to the unity of the Standing Rock movement that they responded in such similar ways,” says Mari.
The inspirational exhibit offers an effective compilation of powerful artwork that calls viewers to take accountability for their communities. “I think the call to action speaks for itself,” Mari adds. “When Dwanna [who is featured in the film] says, ‘What is the price of doing nothing?’ That has stuck with me since January.”
“Force/Resistance” is on view at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center through September 9. Catch a screening of the 45-minute documentary “From Standing Rock to Colorado Springs” Monday, May 1, 5:30 p.m. in the Cornerstone Screening Room. A panel discussion with documentary subjects will follow the screening.
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
While Spring Break offers time to relax, one group of CC students took the break as an opportunity to travel to New Mexico to work with paleontologist Gary Morgan.
Steve Getty, director of the Quantitative Reasoning Center, led the trip, along with BreakOut leader Toan Luong ’17. The students were able to work with Morgan, the curator of vertebrate paleontology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, on his research and helped with some interesting excavation projects. They found between 40 and 50 types of animal fossils from the Miocene Era, and helped to excavate a 13 million-year-old giant land tortoise discovered near Albuquerque.
Luong came up with the idea for the trip. As an international student, he wanted an option for Spring Break that didn’t involve flying 30 hours home, staying on campus, or spending too much money. Though he did have the option to take a BreakOut trip through the Outdoor Recreation Committee, Luong opted to work with his mentor Getty to plan a trip to Albuquerque. Getty’s previous work for the New Mexico Museum of Natural History made the planning easy, Luong says. The group worked closely with Morgan while at the museum, and Luong explains that he “never took a geology class at CC so helping the paleontology lab of the museum really opened my eyes.”
Luong says he hopes students realize not all CC trips take up an entire break and involve backpacking and hiking. When in New Mexico, the group stayed in air-conditioned cabins and explored restaurants in Albuquerque. The trip was only five days long, which worked perfectly with Saria Sato Bajracharya’s schedule. As a Winter Start freshman, she “wanted to explore the opportunities provided by CC,” while still having a few days on campus. Like Luong, she didn’t have any geology background, but found the “concepts were easy to grasp as we were learning out in the field through hands-on activities.” Both students found the trip educational and fun, and Bajracharya recommends students “go for it” when considering opportunities for travel and exploration at CC.
Heather Fedesco, CC’s first Mellon pedagogy researcher, spent Blocks 1-4 studying the Block Plan. In a position funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Fedesco’s role is to investigate the distinctive pedagogical outcomes of CC’s unique academic program. The college will then use what is learned to refine CC’s Block Plan model, and share it with others in higher education who want to learn from CC’s success in implementing the Block Plan. Now, some of the research findings are providing evidence to explain why the Block Plan works.
With more than 1,600 responses from students, assessing over 300 different courses, Fedesco spent Block 5 poring over survey results. She says one thing is very clear in this preliminary analysis: Field trips are beneficial for students.
“The data show that trips positively affect student motivation and outcomes,” she says. “CC spends a good amount of time and funding on these trips, so it’s important to show they are making a difference.” It’s a result that speaks specifically to the Block Plan; students at colleges where they’re taking multiple classes at once simply cannot take field trips the way they can at CC. “Here, it’s the norm. It’s a big reason why students come to CC, so we can show that it’s really valuable in terms of their learning experience; we have the data to show that now.”
By using self-determination theory, which is a theory of motivation, Fedesco’s research assesses three basic psychological needs; when each of those is met, it creates intrinsic motivation for students, which leads to improved performance. Those needs are perceived autonomy — students feel like they have choice or a say in how they go about their learning; perceived competence — students feel they can meet the learning objectives of the course; and perceived relatedness — students feel connected with their instructors and their peers.
“I wanted to see how this theory of motivation played out at CC by comparing courses with field trips and those without. My idea was that courses with trips allow students to form greater, deeper relationships with professors and peers, really addressing the relatedness component of the theory,” she says.
Fedesco found that students felt more autonomous in classes where they participated in field trips. “They also felt like they had more competence, and as expected, they formed a deeper connection with instructors and peers.”
Fedesco also found that students were more interested in the course when they went on at least one field trip — that is, they were more intrinsically motivated. Students also perceived that they learn more in classes where they have a field trip. Students even had higher final grades when they took a class with at least one field trip.
“I tested what happens when you include more field trips—the more you include, the deeper the relationships, the stronger the connections,” she says. “Students were also more interested in the course. That’s the variable we truly want to tap: Raising student interest level, because that can lead to greater student outcomes. That’s a really good thing to show.”
Students reported on a variety of on-campus and off-campus field trips, which were included in the analyses. When just focusing on off-campus trips, like the Denver Art Museum or Garden of the Gods, and overnight trips like camping, visits to the Baca Campus, or classes that took place entirely off campus, out of state, or abroad, the same pattern of results, for the most part, emerged.
Interestingly, on-campus trips also make an impact, such as visiting the IDEA Space, the Fine Arts Center, Sacred Grounds, or participating in events, performances, or meals together outside the classroom. These types of trips may also occur at colleges operating on a more traditional course schedule, however the flexibility of the Block Plan seems to allow for these trips to occur more frequently, and we now know that more trips can be even more beneficial to students.
Fedesco says the results also provide some advice. To make field trips even better, students must understand the purpose for the trip or out-of-classroom experience. “The purpose can simply be, ‘I want us to get to know each other better,’” says Fedesco. “It doesn’t necessarily have to do with the subject matter. Maybe it’s just to set the tone for the rest of the course, for example. Professors should be up front with that and should explicitly state why getting to know each other will lead to a better learning environment.”
She also notes that in some cases, students may need a better sense of how they should be spending free time on a trip, which can be addressed with clear expectations in advance. A post-trip debrief also helps students make connections between what they’ve experienced and concepts that apply to their course.
Field trips also provide students time to interact with people in the community, and Fedesco says those interactions were inspiring for the students, giving them a sense of agency that they can make a difference. She says those interactions also serve to provide different points of view on the same issue, allowing students to sift through those different perspectives, promoting critical thinking.
“When students are faced with concepts that might conflict with their previously held beliefs or notions, they pay attention to it more and think about it more, so that is a great way to use field trips,” she says. “Grappling with that is a really beneficial learning experience.”
Fedesco participated in numerous class field trips as part of the research process. She says that regardless of the topic it was evident students and faculty were connected with one another.
“There is a strong sense of community here at CC; you get that in the classroom and on the field trips, and a lot of it comes down to the nature of the students being open and welcoming and interested in facilitating a sense of community. That is really beneficial.”
These are just the preliminary analyses; Fedesco will also be exploring comparisons across academic divisions and will test whether class size is a factor. She will also be coding interview data to analyze and develop themes, to identify results that speak specifically to the learning experience here at CC.
In May, she presents at the Crown Faculty Center lunch, where she will look at new findings and additional conclusions. And, during Block 7, she’s observing one more class to take a look at what happens when a course takes place entirely off campus (this one will be at the Newberry Library in Chicago). “It’s really a unique CC thing,” Fedesco says.
Jacob Eichengreen gets excited when a plan comes together. In fact, it’s actually his job to connect dots, strike up conversations, and match resources with ideas. Eichengreen is executive director for the Quad Innovation Partnership, a joint initiative between the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Community College, the United States Air Force Academy, and Colorado College. He’s spent months digging in to the Colorado Springs community and building a set of programs that connects students with opportunities to implement new ideas, with the goal of integrating recent graduates into the Colorado Springs workforce. Now, he says, it’s time for action.
Applications just opened for the Quad’s signature Summer Intensive. The intensive will run the month of June and is open to current students and recent alumni from the four partner institutions, with preference given to rising juniors and seniors. Ten students from each school will be selected for the opportunity to build, test, and validate a commercially viable solution to some of Colorado Springs’ “most gripping problems” as identified by city and industry leaders. Submitted problems range from homelessness and food insecurity to the implementation of new technologies in a business context. Participants choose which problem they find most interesting to work on and will work in cross-campus teams to realize their ideas.
The program will be facilitated by Air Force Academy faculty with support from Eichengreen, but most actual teaching will be done by members of the community. For example, a unit on design thinking will be led by a premier design-thinking consultant from the area. Other units that touch on marketing, feasibility analysis, branding, fundraising, and legal will all be taught by local experts. The end result is an opportunity for students to learn step-by-step what it takes to bring an idea out into the marketplace from some of the region’s most compelling practitioners. Interested students can attend an information session: Thursday, March 30, 4 p.m. at the CC Career Center.
The summer intensive isn’t the only thing that excites Eichengreen or the community about the partnership.
“The most exciting thing about this partnership is the range of opportunities that I’ve come across; the breadth of opportunities that are right here is awesome,” he says. The partnership’s mission focuses on students from the four participating institutions, working to elevate, educate, and create innovators in Colorado Springs. The elevate component focuses on events programming and celebrating the opportunities for innovation in Colorado Springs, and the four institutions. Educate specifically involves developing skills and providing hands-on opportunities for students through workshops and classes, and offering ways for the students to engage with the broader community. The create component encompasses just about everything else, says Eichengreen.
“That could mean opportunities for students to serve as project-based consultants in the community. The Air Force Academy, for example does problem-solving work with the IndyGive campaign, and has offered their framework to the Quad to create a way for students to earn payment for their work. It’s work that can be lower-risk than an internship, because it’s just for one project. It provides students portfolio development and can offer transitional opportunities for newer alumni, lowering the barrier for entry to smaller for-profits and nonprofits.”
But that’s just one example. Eichengreen doesn’t want the partnership to be limited by a strict definition of innovation. “We’re really trying to be responsive to needs and opportunities,” he says of developing programming. “We have a framework, but it’s flexible. If students are passionate about something, we want to build that in — homelessness, robotics, bitcoin, take your pick on the socioeconomic spectrum. Because our community is smaller, opportunities to get involved at a meaningful level are way more abundant here.” He says innovation can be anything that turns ideas into “valuable action.”
Here, in the Pikes Peak Region, Eichengreen says, there are numerous opportunities to practice innovation professionally, and they’re more accessible here than they might be in other parts of the country. He lists several local organizations off the top of his head that are leading the way locally: “Innovations in Aging is located here, for example, translating cutting-edge research in aging from a research group at UCCS into real-world action; there’s the Olympic sports and outdoor infrastructure; the National Cybersecurity Center; food justice – at least two CC grads are making tremendous waves in food equity, translating waste into plenty and disrupting the food distribution system; and the city itself is looking for new ways to deliver better services, be more agile, and be more responsible with limited funds.” With so many opportunities, Eichengreen says, it’s hard to focus the program because there’s so much happening.
The Quad Partnership is putting the finishing touches on its own dedicated space, a 2,000-square-foot facility right downstairs from Loyal Coffee on the south side of downtown Colorado Springs. “One component is an open workspace, accessible to students, faculty, and staff from our participating institutions to use in a way that’s beneficial,” says Eichengreen. “We have the capability to host art installations, or performance showcases, anything that doesn’t have a home on campus or would benefit by immersion in community. This becomes a neutral, third-party space where the partner campuses and broader community can interact and build relationships. Celebrate the grand opening Wednesday, April 19, 5-7 p.m. at 408 S. Nevada.
He says local and alumni-founded companies can use it as a test marketplace or a space to conduct student, alumni, or faculty-based research. “One week, we could have a demonstration of the national winner of the search-and-rescue robot competition that PPCC did last year; over the holidays, we can host a pop-up retail shop; and if there’s sufficient demand,” he says of the possibilities. There are so many areas in which innovation can be applied and practiced. I hope our space will be compelling, cool, fun to be around, and contribute broadly to applying new thinking and turning ideas into valuable action in our community.”
By Alana Aamodt ’18
New this academic year, the Community Engaged Scholars Program offers students a comprehensive, structured plan for sustained, informed, and deliberate community engagement. Beyond just requiring a certain number of hours of community engagement, the program helps students find personal meaning and interconnectedness in their activities. Community engagement includes any pursuit that works with a community or campus partner to address a social or environmental need, or indirectly contributes to the mission of those partners through raising awareness around social or environmental issues.
“I am thrilled at the number of students — more than 120 — who joined the Community Engaged Scholars Program in its inaugural year,” says Jordan Travis Radke, director of the Collaborative for Community Engagement. “To me, it demonstrates the passion and drive our students have for living lives dedicated to positive social change. I am excited to see what the future holds, given that this program seems to deeply resonate with our students.”
The program’s goal is to encourage students to consider and articulate how what they’re doing constitutes engaged citizenship and addresses social and environmental needs, rather than just setting generic bounds to what community engagement means. To do this, the program requires on average 10 hours of community engagement each block, as well as participation in skills trainings, and co-curricular learning events, such as lectures on related topics. The program culminates in a senior reflection retreat and the creation of an engagement portfolio that serves as a record of their work, and as a reflective articulation of their progress.
“I have enjoyed community service work since I was in high school,” says Emma Kepes, ’17, a community engaged scholar, “so being a part of clubs to continue that work in college was the natural choice. Through these clubs, I have also found that I enjoy working with kids the most, so I have stuck with AMA and Cool Science since freshman year for that reason.” AMA, Aprender Mediante Amistad, which is Spanish for “learning through friends,” provides mentorship and tutoring for local students between the ages of 5 and 18 whose first language is Spanish, and Cool Science brings local kids to campus for fun and easy science experiments. Kepes is the co-leader of AMA. “I hope to do more important work like this after I graduate,” Kepes adds.
CCE also offers a Community Engaged Leadership Certificate, whose mission is to “develop civic leaders by cultivating students’ ability to integrate and apply learning toward solving complex social challenges.” The resulting structure, initially implemented in 2010, is a three-phase program starting a student’s sophomore year with exploring unmet community-driven needs and committing time to address those needs; then focusing skills and commitment towards one social issue during junior year; and implementing what they’ve learned through a capstone project of the student’s own design senior year.
“The main [difference] is that the leadership program has a capstone project,” shares Montana Bass ’18. “The project involves a partnership with a local community and can be related to your thesis, so it’s an awesome way to tie your studies into community work that might not be there otherwise.” The CEL program is also a smaller, more selective cohort than CES. While both programs require 75 hours of service per year, the CEL program asks for those hours to be at a higher responsibility during the student’s junior year, such as taking the lead on a project, group, or organization, and then devoting hours in the student’s senior year to an integrative capstone project.
“My favorite part so far has been getting to know the other people in the leadership certificate program. It’s a really small group so conversations are really intimate and everyone can get involved,” Bass adds, referring to the cohort model of the program.
These programs both work to strengthen CC’s commitment to community engagement and engaged learning. Read more and apply for the CES program, and learn more about the requirements and timeline for the Community Engaged Leadership Certificate.
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
This year, the Colorado College Nordic ski team grew immensely, and qualified the most skiers ever in school history for the Collegiate National Championships in Bend, Oregon in this month. Team captain Ines Siepmann ’18, along with Alice Oline ’18, Kelsi Anderson ’18, and Oliver Jones ’20, qualified for the National Championships by accruing points throughout the season and competing in a specific number of races.
Siepmann says the many new members of the team aided in making a great group dynamic across the team. Last year, the team had 6-10 skiers at each race, while this year a range of 13-21 CC athletes competed. Many had never skied before, meaning a lot of the team’s success was measured by progress and time spent on the snow. The most recent competition for the team was the Cowboy Chase and Laramie Loppet in Laramie, WY over the Block 5 block break. The team competed in four other races over the course of Block 5, performing well and racing hard. While it’s an exciting marker to qualify for the national competition, none of CC’s skiers will be able to attend the meet, which is taking place March 5-11. Siepmann says it is just too much school to miss on the Block Plan.
Sieppman says balancing schoolwork and skiing is generally manageable. The team trains mostly on dry land, since the closest Nordic area is in Monument and hasn’t received enough snow this year for good skiing. The next closest Nordic area is at Breckenridge, which is a two-hour drive from campus, so a lot of training happens at or near campus. According to Siepmann, the team places a lot of importance on inclusivity by providing all the necessary equipment, so “different athletes participate with the team in different ways.” Not every skier comes to all practices and meets, so students are able to tailor their participation to their school work load.
Looking ahead to next year, Siepmann says the team will get together to decide goals for the upcoming season. They have already decided to continue practicing throughout this spring, and have had a pancake breakfast for the team. Siepmann says she’s excited for the continued team bonding activities, and is also looking forward to discussing next year’s intentions and leadership.
Photo of Ines Siepmann ’18 (right) and Alice Oline ’18 by CJ Monson ’20.
By Montana Bass ’18
In a creative and fun-spirited performance, the docents of Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center tell the history of the FAC, contextualizing this important cultural monument and reemphasizing its continuing contemporary cultural impact. The play comes at a particularly important moment in FAC history, as soon the museum will merge with CC and begin a new era of partnership. This relationship will allow for sharing of resources between the college and the museum and revamped programming of presentations, classes, and workshops for both the college’s and Colorado Springs’ community members.
The play was adapted from a skit that was part of the FAC’s “Off the Wall” program, which was designed to familiarize children with the museum and bring its art to life. FAC staff were looking for a presentation on the museum’s founding for the popular “First Saturdays” members tour, FAC docents took on the challenge of writing and staging a 45-minute “founding women” play.
Docent Specialty Co-Chair Cindi Zenkert-Strange, a former writer and editor, scripted the play and Wendy Gray, professor of theatre at Pikes Peak Community College, directed. The new, full-length performance describes the founding of the FAC by three incredible women, Julie Penrose, Alice Bemis Taylor, and Elizabeth Sage Hare.
“We spent a lot of time researching,” said docent Kathy Olson, who plays Julie Penrose, “We wanted to add a lot of tidbits about their personal lives, really develop their personalities. These were really incredible, interesting women.” Much of the plot centers around how the three founders incorporated their three very different backgrounds and visions into one cohesive museum. All three were part of Colorado Springs’ elite, although their interests and personalities varied widely.
Julie Penrose and husband Spencer Penrose, the multimillionaire entrepreneur who developed the Broadmoor Hotel, donated their home on Dale Street to be used by the prestigious Broadmoor Art Academy. This, in turn, became the site for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, which incorporated a museum, art school, theatre, and music performance space under one roof. Julie Penrose’s vision for the FAC was based on her love of beauty and classical art. In contrast, Alice Bemis Taylor had an impressive Native American Southwest and Spanish Colonial art collection, so she held that as her primary interest. “She realized she couldn’t continue to house the collection in her own home,” explained Zenkert-Strange. Bemis Hall was named after Judson Moss Bemis, Alice’s father. Alice herself made significant contributions to Colorado College in the form of student scholarships and building funds. “Also, the Bemises really wanted to give back to the community, so her interest was really in making her collection more widely accessible.” Lastly, Elizabeth Sage Hare’s involvement in the New York City modern arts scene added a third vision for the museum. “She wanted everything to be modern, cutting-edge,” said Zenkert-Strange.
The docents will give their next performance on March 8 to members of the Cheyenne Mountain Newcomers Club and will perform at four other venues through May. They look forward to continuing to share this story with FAC visitors and members of the CC and Colorado Springs community. “I think we want to express what a gem we have in the building and in the collection,” adds Zenkert-Strange. “When you understand history, you can better appreciate the present, and plan for an exciting future.”
Check out events and exhibits at the FAC and look out for a CC-focused showing of the docent’s performance next block!
By Montana Bass ’18
Whether you’re a seasoned dancer, elite rock-climber, campus leader, or simply looking for a new way to practice mindfulness, contact improvisation offers a way to explore the limits of one’s own physical boundaries.
Dance instructor Sue Lauther teaches the course, which will be available again in Block 7, and says it’s not just about dance or movement, but about learning to communicate with one another through touch. By doing so, “students will become more aware of the physics of their own bodies and learn how to better handle unexpected surprises or find their way through unplanned situations,” she says. Additionally, by creating physical awareness, dancers can also check in with themselves emotionally.
As Lauther explains, “Contact improv for me is another language. It’s learning to stand up for yourself. To reach out to others. To negotiate, communicate desires, joys, and disappointments. It’s good for any soul.”
It’s not just for any soul; contact is also beneficial to any body. Monica Black ’19 adds, “I’m not by any means a dancer, and it takes the onus off of figuring out something cool to do. Instead you can just focus on the energies that you and your partner are giving each other. It’s also a really vulnerable form of dance with lots of lifts and obviously very close contact, so you have to trust the other person to support your body.” This intimacy is important when our day-to-day lives often lack platonic physical touch, Lauther says. In contact improvisation, dancers learn to advocate for themselves as well as address group needs nonverbally.
As a dance major, Trevon Newmann ’18 finds benefits as well. “Contact improv has been about experimenting and adjusting. I’ve really learned how to work with a variety of people and how to give and earn trust. It’s good for getting out of your comfort zone.”
This experimentation leads dancers to a self-awareness pivotal in various aspects of their lives, and Lauther loves helping them find it. “It just delights me when somebody is amazed by the changes within themselves, doing things they didn’t think they could do,” she says.
Students, if you’d like to experience contact improvisation, you can enroll for the Block 7 course, running Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3-4:30 p.m. Or, show up in the Cossitt South Studio on the first day of Block 7. Contact Sue Lauther with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
Recently, refugees entering the United States have been in the spotlight; national dialogue on the issue inspired the CC Refugee Alliance to collaborate with the CC Democrats to host a week of social action.
This week, Feb. 27 to March 3, students set up a phone bank in Worner Campus Center to make it easy for members of the campus community to contact elected officials to express opinions about refugees and immigration policy. The station will provide participants with all they need to call members of Congress, including phone numbers, scripts, and information for individuals who have never called a politician before.
Nicole Tan ’17, co-leader of the CC Refugee Alliance, says the group’s goal is to “act as a hub for ongoing CC engagement with refugee advocacy, creating a collaborative space for students, faculty, and staff.” Similarly, Sachin Mathur ’17 of the CC Democrats says the group is restructuring itself to be a “start-up for citizenship for CC students,” which is why they’re collaborating with CCRA to promote student involvement.
Tan says she hopes that the table in Worner will “inform participants of current policy and provide them with tools for civic engagement.” She also thinks that the experience will help students learn to become involved on any topic they’re passionate about. Tan says policies on refugees are important, and that “there are no easy answers for how to respond to the current administration’s policies,” but also that staying informed on all issues is essential.