Posts in: Around Campus
Montana Bass ’18
When I walk in to Sacred Grounds, a student-run tea house inside Shove Memorial Chapel, Vanessa Voller ’16 immediately shows me to an assortment of teas, puts on water, and makes sure I’m comfortable. In less than a minute, she has already impressed me with her obvious kindness and the comforting sense of calm she carries with her.
She is a sociology major and an avid hiker from St. Paul, Minnesota. Next block, she will facilitate an inaugural three-day event series during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week to raise awareness about disordered eating and eating disorders on college campuses. Events will include keynote lectures and book signings by Jenni Schaefer and Anita Johnston, two prominent scholars and activists in the field; a documentary screening and discussion about eating disorders in diverse communities; trainings and workshops for Athletics Department and residential life staff; and free assessments and referrals by specialists from the Eating Disorder Center of Colorado Springs.
“I was diagnosed with an eating disorder in 2005, when I was just 11 years old,” says Voller. “I was physically and mentally ill for nearly a decade, losing my early and late adolescence to my mental illness.” We are sitting on colorful, plush cushions when I ask what motivated her to dedicate so much time and effort to this cause. She began her answer very simply.
“I was fortunate enough to have access to help at the Emily Program in St. Paul, one of the best centers for eating disorders in the country. There, I attended intensive out-patient therapy, group therapy, and family therapy sessions.”
Though at a more stable weight, Voller admits that her mental health continued to suffer throughout her first three years at CC. Now during her last semester, she is determined to spread awareness about this deadly mental illness. “The most important thing for me for people to know is that healing and recovery is possible. I think if someone had said that to me when I was 11 or even a first-year at CC it wouldn’t have taken a decade to ultimately be freed from my own mental illness,” she pauses, waiting for me to look up, “make sure you get that down,” she adds taking a long sip of her chamomile tea.
The three-day NEDA week event series, says Voller, is the culmination of her own recovery process. It is also her senior capstone project for the Community Engaged Leadership Certificate program, supervised by David Harker, director of the Collaborative for Community Engagement and an extension of her recent Venture Grant supervised by Associate Professor of Sociology Kathy Giuffre. Voller received a Venture Grant to spend her winter break hiking the Na’Pali coast in Kaua’i and interviewing Hawaiian cultural experts and medical staff at Hawaii’s only residential eating disorder clinic, Ai’Pono.
The Kalalau Trail she hiked is one of the “Top Ten Most Dangerous in the U.S.” according to National Geographic. Despite various setbacks, including a flash flood, Voller ultimately completed the 22-mile trek, during which she said she was reminded of her own recovery journey. “At mile two on the hike, at the Hanakap’ai Stream, I faced incredibly dangerous, chest deep waters. A local park ranger told me that I had to turn around and wait out the flash flood because crossing could be deadly. I immediately thought of my childhood therapist, holding my 11-year-old hand saying, ‘Vanessa, if you continue with this behavior you could die.’”
“I began the hike alone,” she says, “thinking that I didn’t need anyone or any help. But honestly, it was quite bold to think I didn’t need anyone.” She sets her mug down, “After the flash floods I befriended three other hikers and we traversed the rest of the coastline together.” She adds, “You know, almost everyone I met during my travels was healing from something: a failed marriage, an addiction, the loss of a loved one.”
After her hike, Voller traveled to the Ai’Pono clinic in Maui. “I read ‘Eating by the Light of the Moon’ by Anita Johnston when I was in treatment and it profoundly impacted me,” she says. Voller speaks of Johnston with intense admiration. “Anita is a remarkable woman; a true healer. An inspiration. She will do wonders for our community and I am honored that she is taking time to visit us.”
This block, Voller is in an independent study with Giuffre focused on writing an auto-ethnographic memoir chronicling her recovery journey through the lens of her backpacking trip. “I’m not sure what will happen with the manuscript when the block is over,” she says, “but for right now, I’m just focused on exploring my own creative writing process and crafting a new narrative of hope and of healing.”
More information on NEDA week, which will be Tuesday, Feb. 23, to Thursday, Feb. 25, is coming soon.
Monica Black ’19
CC students looking to gain meaningful work experience and to deepen their understanding of a certain career field should consider applying for a PIFP fellowship. Colorado College’s Public Interest Fellowship Program (PIFP) matches CC students with non-profits around Colorado for summer and yearlong paid fellowships. PIFP partners with non-profits ranging from the health sector to law, to the environment, and beyond. Some of these organizations include the ACLU of Colorado, ARC of the Pikes Peak Region, Bell Policy Center, Catamount Institute, Palmer Land Trust, TESSA, Colorado Health Institute, and many, many others.
Fellows participate in a full-time summer-long or yearlong fellowship, earning, respectively, stipends of $3,500 and $26,500. They also gain valuable experience, the kind that’s usually unavailable to students and recent graduates. It’s an opportunity that leads many fellows to careers both within and outside of the non-profit sector. “I’ve realized that I want to be part of an organization that is committed to helping people,” says Duy Pham ’15 of his current PIFP experience at Bell Policy Center.
Alex Drew ’15, who is currently carrying out her fellowship at the arts-driven community advocacy group Concrete Couch, describes herself as one of two full-time employees. “I wear many hats,” she says. “Some days I write grants, teach fifth graders, work with at-risk high school students at welding, fundraise, coordinate volunteers, send emails, represent Couch at events, fundraisers, and even on TV.”
Even at the larger, national PIFP partner organizations, fellows experience similar amounts of responsibility. ACLU of Colorado summer fellow Jane Finocharo ’16 revamped the curriculum of the ACLU’s Bill of Rights for an educational program at a Denver elementary school. It also afforded her opportunities to become proximate to issues she had only previously read about, like attending the closing arguments on a case in which a bakery refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple on the basis of their sexual orientation. “I learned that even seemingly small violations of an individual’s civil liberties are significant and should be challenged,” says Finocharo. “I learned how many of our rights only exist because of the tireless work of organizations like the ACLU.”
The success stories are not one-sided. The organizations’ trust in Colorado College students grows, based on numerous positive experiences. The Catamount Institute, an outdoor education organization, has accepted PIFP applicants since 2009, and say they appreciate CC students because they are qualified and tend to stay connected to the organization for years. “Physics majors can become teachers. The experience is career-changing for many students,” says Tracy Jackson, the education director at Catamount.
Applications for the 2016-2017 cycle of fellowships are due Wednesday, Jan. 27. PIFP’s partner organizations look for smart, passionate people who are good communicators and want to make the world a better place. Beyond that, specific qualifications (like an ability to conduct quantitative research) for certain fellowships are listed on the PIFP website. That being said, most organizations are looking for an interest and/or background in related fields, as well as an aptitude for learning quickly. All years are encouraged to apply.
Montana Bass ’17
In order to continue the conversation regarding racial tension on campus sparked by painful, inappropriate YikYak comments and started officially at the all-campus meeting on the first Monday of this block, The Butler Center has held multiple open-dialogue circles. These dialogues were meant to give CC community members a place to reflect, heal, and reimagine an inclusive campus community.
Pearl Leonard-Rock, The Butler Center’s new assistant director, said these dialogues were truly helpful to the campus community, and exhibited the willingness of students to connect over these issues when given the opportunity. “Being new to CC, I really didn’t expect that students would heed the call. I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of faculty, staff, and students who have been present. There have been white-identifying students as well as students of color who have come to share this space with us. Many of the attendees have been unknown to me and they have been very open and vulnerable while in the circle. It has been very affirming to know that all students are seeing our genuine outreach to all community members.”
So that they could fully focus on this clearly pressing topic, The Butler Center cancelled all other Block 4 programming. “The Butler Center staff agreed that suspending regular programming in Block 4 would be a great idea to make time for individual and group support of community members,” said Leonard-Rock. “It became apparent that taking intentional and focused time for reflection, healing, and re-imagining a truly inclusive community could benefit us all greatly.”
The dialogues were unstructured except for a theme — newly created and presented each week — that was meant to drive discussion. Leonard-Rock noted that discussion leaders had to be flexible with themes in order to meet the needs of students.
Students joined together to discuss their own experiences with race, often focusing on their bewilderment about what defined “community,” in general and on campus. “Most students have talked about this time being the first time in their college experience they have felt compelled to have a dialogue about race,” Leonard-Rock said.
Students who have not had the opportunity to join one of these dialogue sessions are encouraged to do so, as they will continue next semester. Additionally, a two-day social justice training event, as well as other learning opportunities will be offered beginning in January.
The Butler Center will host Becky Martinez from the Social Justice Training Institute the weekend before the start of Block 5. Leonard-Rock described these trainings as is a unique and exciting opportunity to engage deeply in social justice education and a chance to dig deeper on topics of race and other salient identities for a full day and a half.
Please save the dates: Thursday, Jan. 14, Friday, Jan. 15, and Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016.
A session for faculty and staff will take place Thursday, Jan. 14, 9 a.m.-noon.
Sessions for students run Thursday, Jan. 14-Saturday, Jan. 16
Please email Pearl Leonard-Rock (email@example.com) to secure your spot in this on-campus experience.
Space is limited. There is a cap on the number of students who can attend and The Butler Center will work to create visible diversity in the session in an effort to enrich the dialogues.
Angie Bardsley, ITS: administrative assistant
The time and effort needed to produce and exhibit a piece of art can be deceptive. Take “American Falls,” for instance. Filmmaker Phil Solomon spent nearly a decade fulfilling his vision of creating an all-encompassing experience in American history. In addition, Jessica Hunter-Larsen, I.D.E.A. Space curator, worked with Solomon for two years arranging the exhibit at CC, and ITS: staff spent six months researching and preparing to assist with the film’s installation.
In the spring of 2015, Sean Roberts, smart spaces and AV manager, was asked to assist with the film’s autumn installation. Roberts prepared by studying triptych film — in which different images are projected on three surfaces simultaneously. He contacted other venues that previously exhibited the film, reached out to LVW Electronics for crucial advice, communicated with Solomon about his preferences, and pre-staged three projectors to do a trial run. In addition, Roberts enlisted the expertise of fellow ITS: team members Joe Hinson, Gerald Mondragon, Tulio Wolford, Joseph Sharman, Matt Gottfried, Linda Petro, and Vish Paradkar. “This was the largest, cross-department project I’ve worked on outside of events. It took all of us,” Roberts said.
When it was time to finally install the “American Falls” exhibit, Roberts worked closely with Briget Heidmous, I.D.E.A. Space’s assistant to the curator. Heidmous and Roberts spent three days adjusting the film’s resolution and manually positioning three projectors so the film had no visible edges. In order to give viewers the most meaningful experience, the film had to be projected with precision. Heidmous explained, “Phil Solomon is an important person in the experimental film world. Having his film in Colorado Springs, displaying it this way, is unique.”
At one point, Heidmous and Roberts contacted Solomon via Skype, so he could see and hear the exhibit. “Having access to technology makes situations like these so much easier. At Colorado College, we really have experts in their fields; we don’t have to look far for someone to help,” Heidmous said. Without know-how from the ITS: team, the project could have cost three to four times more. The equipment purchased for the exhibit will be repurposed for other projects, saving campus resources.
Technology is not only becoming increasingly prevalent in modern art, it also continues to evolve and permeate all areas of the academic world. As these changes occur, the ITS: division looks forward to collaborating with other departments to create a rich learning experience for CC’s students and a stimulating environment for its faculty and staff.
By Linda Petro
What do solar winds, raspberry pie, and network access have in common? A creative ITS: solution uses the first two to determine an online user’s experience with the third, providing crucial data to improve the overall experience. Better online access through pie — who doesn’t like the sound of that?
Here’s how it all comes together: The ITS: Division’s Enterprise Technology Team uses software called SolarWinds to record and report statistics about network access across campus and provide alerts for buildings that are offline. Unfortunately, it does not provide data about a user’s actual experience. Access may be available, but a user could be upset because a website is taking more than a minute to load. This user might express that frustration to friends about their network experience, but ITS: wouldn’t always hear about it to be able to fix it.
Those days will soon be history. A small group of ITS: Enterprise Technology teammates, including David Ziemba, Keith Conger, Dan Raney, and Manuel Rendon, got together to brainstorm and find a system to help identify these “slow spots.” One of them suggested they use a computer to monitor the network in each building. As it was cost-prohibitive to place standard machines everywhere, they focused on using the ultra-low cost Raspberry Pi computer, no bigger than a standard computer mouse, instead (pictured center). The idea was to take the tiny computer and program it to access websites as the average user would do when surfing the internet, then attach it to the SolarWinds software to record how long it was taking, making the information viewable and actionable through reports and alerts.
After some trial and error, the team started to receive data from the test Pis and was able to see how the network was performing. When a website took longer than a fraction of a second to load, the team researched why and implemented a fix. The idea was working.
Because the preliminary information was helpful, the idea expanded further. Pis were placed in nearly every campus building, with additional Pis positioned in high-need spots. Each Pi was programmed to access a list of websites every minute and send back data to SolarWinds and the team. When the team cannot monitor the software face-to-face, alerts are sent to their email addresses so they can respond quickly.
“This system is the only one I have seen anywhere that attempts to recreate the user experience, and we are all about a better experience for everyone,” said David Ziemba, senior network engineer. “We still need to come up with a cool name for it,” Ziemba expressed with a smile.
As the network upgrade continues into phase two, ITS: continues to look for ways to make a better network experience for all who live, study, and work here. And a better experience is worth celebrating. Raspberry Pi, anyone?
This week, Paris welcomes 196 states and the European Union for one of the biggest international summits on climate change, COP21. Four CC students are there, too, attending daily workshops and meetings concurrent with the conference, reporting back via a daily blog of events and commentary. COP21 is the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, taking place in Paris from Nov. 30-Dec. 11. It’s is described as a crucial conference, targeting creation of a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. “We have been learning about the UN climate conferences throughout our college careers,” said Lily Biggar ’16, one of the students in attendance. “We feel like being here has given us a real-life application of our academic studies.”
Biggar and the other three bloggers, Gabriella Palko ’16, Elliot Hillar ’17, and Zach Pawa ’17, are a self-described “group of driven Colorado College students optimistic about the opportunity to create positive systematic change in the world,” according to the blog. For two weeks, they will spend time at the Climate Generations portion of the summit, along with thousands of participants from around the globe, to convene and discuss global environmental issues. Every day, students have the opportunity to attend dozens of lectures, workshops, debates, and presentations on all aspects of climate change given by NGOs, scientists, artists, UN leaders, and government officials. Follow the group’s daily updates via the AnthropoScene blog.
Ian Johnson, director of CC’s Office of Sustainability, says it’s an incredibly powerful way for students to be actively involved in the real-time issues that are developing in Paris, engage with other students and organizations, represent CC’s sustainability initiative.
“To have students in Paris during the fervor and excitement of the event is a completely different experience from reading the daily recaps in the media; they’re a part of this history, and so are we as a college community by virtue of their participation,” said Johnson, who worked with Biggar and Palko when they served as interns in the Office of Sustainability.
Lily Biggar ’16, an environmental policy major and global health minor, co-authored the college’s first State of Sustainability Report last year and works as the sustainability intern for Residential Life. Biggar’s blog bio states that she deepened her interest in environmental issues while spending a semester studying in Copenhagen, a city often regarded as the “green capital of Europe.” She is pursuing a career in environmental consulting and corporate sustainability.
Gabriella Palko ’16, also an environmental policy major, served as CC’s greenhouse gas inventory intern and is now the intern manager at the Office of Sustainability. In her blog bio, Palko says she’s passionate about climate change, and is particularly interested in the role of industrial agriculture in the current environmental crisis, hoping to play a major role in bridging the detrimental gap between science and politics.
Elliot Hillar ’17, an environmental policy major, and Zach Pawa ’17, an environmental science major, are also participating in the summit and contributing to the blog.
In addition to keeping a blog, the students have scheduled Skype sessions with both Mark Smith’s Environmental Economics class and Corina McKendry’s Global Environmental Policy class. They will also give a presentation about the experience when they return.
Monica Black ‘19
Many CC students, faculty, and staff know that campus is a great place to be a bike enthusiast, but now CC has finally received formal recognition: Colorado College has been named a “Bicycle Friendly University” by the League of American Bicyclists. Factors such as CC’s 1:1 bike rack to student ratio, a student-run bike co-op, and the bike rental program all played into the decision. The ranking also included a space for testimonials from students on the friendliness of the campus bike culture.
Although CC received praise for its current biking culture, unique challenges remain for those who get around on two wheels. Most of the throughways around campus are city streets, so CC’s ability to make an impact on crossings and bike lanes is minimal. Additionally, the campus is isolated from many of the business centers in sprawling Colorado Springs because many busy municipal roads lack bike lanes.
But, Ian Johnson, director of the Office of Sustainability, who submitted CC for bike-friendly campus recognition, said he’s looking eagerly toward the future. “As CC is a major part of the downtown biking culture, we’ve embarked on a feasibility study with [the city of Colorado Springs] and other key stakeholders to develop a bike share program that suits both the city and our campus, to help tie us more closely to the community,” said Johnson. This program aims to help connect the college to Old Colorado City, Manitou Springs, and University Village, and encourages the culture of biking among a student body, which sometimes claims “you need a car in the Springs.”
Students, staff, and faculty will play the biggest role in further adopting bike culture into campus life. “The biggest thing that people can do is to bike to work and class regularly, and let us know what sorts of challenges they’re facing,” said Johnson. “It’s not for the sake of a designation, but for the benefit of the real users on our campus.”
Message on behalf of CC’s first Tiger Pen team:
Wondering what major speakers are coming to campus next semester? Looking for more information about a presentation you saw last year? Searching for ideas while planning for a major speaker?
We are proud to present “Speakers, Scholars, and Events,” a new web resource that aims to meet those needs. With the Block Plan’s rapid pace, sometimes you don’t hear about an outstanding speaker until she’s already gone. The new web resource aims to keep the campus community better informed, and features a selection of the many amazing visitors who interact with the campus community each block.
“Speakers, Scholars, and Events” is the result of CC’s first Tiger Pen, which convened this summer to solve a problem selected by campus community vote: With so many events happening and the pace of the Block Plan, we often miss some of our amazing visitors entirely, or aren’t able to connect with them as much as we’d like.
The web resource aims to solve this problem by providing a new lens through which to view CC speakers. The web resource:
- Enables the CC community to better anticipate upcoming academic events and prevents scheduling conflicts
- Presents information well in advance of speakers’ visits
- Keeps a record of past events including additional information after the event is complete
- Enhances the new CC Events Management system by providing more depth and breadth of information and highlighting major events appearing on the campus calendar
- Showcases how endowed funds are used
The Tiger Pen is a focused way to solve problems and/or implement new ideas directly related to CC’s academic mission and the format means a different team of experts is selected for each project.
The Tiger Pen concept was 1 of 10 innovative pilot projects funded by the Center for Immersive Learning and Engaged Teaching Action team.
First Tiger Pen Team Members:
Monica Black ’19
Poet Amal Kassir, 19, is not one to skirt around issues. Upon entering CC’s Slocum Hall Oct. 26, wearing a black hijab, the University of Colorado-Boulder student stated the obvious with a small smile: “I’m the only scarved girl here.” Her audience, seated around her at tables, laughed nervously. “I get this question all the time: ‘Who cuts your hair?’” And with that prompt, she launched into one of her award-winning spoken word poems. Her poems fiercely defend the dignity of her Syrian-American identity and the importance of family and connection to place.
With constant fearlessness, she attacked and confronted issues of her identity. Born of a Syrian father and an American mother, Kassir grew up in Aurora, Colorado, but spent much of her childhood in Syria. “America,” she recited, “taught me spangling my scarves with stars.” She described a road trip through Colorado, Austin, the Grand Canyon, and San Diego that left her with impressions that her spine was like the American Aspen, that her Iowan mother had drunk the same water as every American to nurture her in the womb, that she was constructed of the very land that now marginalized immigrant families like hers. Elements of the poem were accusatory as well: “My immigrant father is your dream!” she recited. It was a triumphant reclaiming of her identity, the hope that those contradictions not be so offensive or problematic after all.
The Race, Ethnicity and Migration Studies Department invited Kassir, who works with refugees and is an education advocate for marginalized and displaced American youth, to lend perspective to the traditional narrative of the Syrian civil war. The discussion was the first of a series of “roundtable discussions” that REMS plans to put on this year. Claire Garcia, professor and chair of the REMS department, stated the group’s intention for this roundtable discussion was to promote comprehension of the global response to the crisis caused by the Syrian civil war.
Kassir, who still has connections to her father’s homeland, offered both a human perspective as a Syrian-American affected by the conflict, and an informed position on the global response. But her personal connection to the region did not prevent her from seeing it in terms of foreign policy; in fact, it lends to that analysis. During the discussion led by student and faculty panel members, Kassir offered her opinions on the response of the U.S., calling for a no-fly zone above the region to stem the outflow of refugees to neighboring countries, the outflow which has in recent months provoked a crisis, most notably in the European Union.
However, Kassir did not want attendees to discount the relevance of personal experience in the understanding of current issues; her poem “My Grandmother’s Farm” was a deeply moving tribute to the way that civilians, in particular farmers, view the regime of dictator Bashar Al-Assad.
They cut down the plum trees in my grandmother’s farm,
Ripped the pomegranate bushes from the earth,
The lemons don’t grow anymore.
And we wonder
If the tyrant even remembers who fed him.
Even thousands of miles away, Kassir feels the impact of the civil war and feels her ties to the land, just like she feels ties to America. “Syria redefined happy for us,” she told the group, “and redefined sadness. I have learned a lot better to love since the civil war.”
Monica Black ’19
The beloved Sacred Grounds space on the lower level of Shove Memorial Chapel recently received a dramatic makeover. Gone are the narrow side stairs, metal railings and black-box feel of the old Sacred Grounds, replaced with almost unrecognizable but equally warm and welcoming architecture. The new space — replete with light, warm colors — features multiple levels, a small meeting area, a shiny new kitchen, and various benches and sitting spaces scattered throughout. A new audio-visual system is also in place for late-night screenings, music performances, and other events. Student manager Vanessa Voller ’16 added, “in light of the larger ‘Sense of Place’ initiative on campus we are very excited to revamp the fair-trade focus of Sacred Grounds this year: sourcing direct trade and locally grown (when possible) teas and coffee.”
Sacred Grounds is an integral part of spiritual life at CC: programs over meals, such as Shove Council and Spiritual Journeys, are held there; Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and GROW meet in the space; and it serves as a quiet study area when no groups are in session.
Sacred Grounds is perhaps best known among the student body, however, for the Sacred Grounds Tea House. The Tea House is a student-run, late-night (9 p.m. – 1 a.m.) coffee and teahouse, sometimes hosting open mics, screenings, and other events (like Stitch ‘n’ Bitch, the crafting-and-complaining club). Sacred Grounds was conceived with the idea that students should be in charge of a space on campus, and in fact, the managers of the space are students, like Voller and Jesús Loayza ’16. “We’re looking forward to collaborating with student groups in the space,” said Loayza. “Many don’t know that they can use Sacred Grounds for late-night events. That’s going to be one of our marketing department’s priorities here on out.”
Chaplain Bruce Coriell and Jera Wooden, Chaplains’ Office manager, wanted to respect the student-led nature of the space and encouraged student input during the planning process. “There aren’t many places on campus where students can direct the space without much restriction,” said Coriell. They received all kinds of responses and worked in close harmony with several students, including Ben Kimura ’16 and Jacey Stewart ’17, during the planning sessions of the renovation. Students expressed the desire for a “homier, less institutionalized” space, according to Wooden. “Conceptually, the idea for the space was to emulate a river, the eddies and the flows,” commented Coriell. This idea of “flow” was inserted into the plans for the stairs and levels; it does in fact mimic a river tumbling down a hill. “If you’re tuned in, you can feel it,” said Coriell.
Upon completion of the renovation, reception has been overwhelmingly positive. “Walking through here in the morning,” said Coriell, whose office is nestled in the back of Sacred Grounds, “the space feels twice as big. I’m thrilled.” Loayza was excited about some of the architectural features. “The levels are also more conducive to hosting events. I think the high-top bars will be a hit amongst students as well.”
The bulk of the renovation was completed over the summer and Sacred Grounds celebrated with a re-dedication ceremony Wednesday, Nov. 4. Check out the teahouse, now open every night from 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.