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‘Girls Who Game’ event makes connections through cooperative gaming

Posted by on Oct 20, 2017 in Events, Featured Story | 0 comments

‘Girls Who Game’ event makes connections through cooperative gaming

Dr. Piyusha Singh does not profess to be an avid gamer. Columbia College’s chief of staff and vice president for Online Education knows her way around a computer, sure, but has never been one to don the headset and engage in tactical cyber campaigns with virtual teammates from around the world.

Columbia College assistant eSports coach Matt Meininger looks on as participants play the computer game Overwatch in the campus Game Hut at the college’s inaugural “Girls Who Game” event Sept. 30.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

Needless to say, she was a bit outclassed when she put fingers to keyboard and played the game Overwatch with the middle school participants at Columbia College’s inaugural “Girls Who Game” event in the campus Game Hut on September 30.

Going into battle against a group of 11-to-13-year-old competitors, Singh was first “eliminated” within 20 seconds. During the five-minute game, she managed to pull off three eliminations while getting herself eliminated eight times.

Not bad for a beginner.

“I’m not a gamer,” Singh said. “Though I think I would have been if I had this kind of support when I was their age.”

Columbia College welcomed 11 participants in for its daylong Girls Who Game event, including one who came all the way from Minnesota. After going through a game creation seminar in the morning, the participants played Overwatch and other games in the afternoon. Their competitive side was very much present, given the noise in the room.

One of the day’s main goals was to connect the girls with others their age who shared their interests.

“Many of the girls who came to our camp said they did so because they enjoy gaming but and are not finding other girls to play with,” Singh said. “I think it’s just cool for them to see other people their age, like them, with the same interests they have. We also found that they were a really skilled group and we could cover a lot of concepts that we didn’t think we’d get to.”

Online Education instructional designer Andi Rosario helped walk the girls through the game design paces in the morning session, a task for which they all showed impressive aptitude.

The kids were able to pick things up faster than the adults.

“We learned stuff from them,” Singh said. “When they had a problem, another team was solving it for them. They’re a sharp lot.”

In the afternoon, Columbia College eSports head coach Duong Pham, assistant coach Matt Meininger, senior strategic analyst Drake Porter and player Jonathan Song put participants through a crash course in Overwatch, though some of the girls were already extremely well-versed.

Even though Columbia College’s eSports program is open to men and women, Singh said that only two of the 300 applicants the school received in the last recruiting call came from women. It’s a problem that faces coeducational eSports programs all over the country.

“If you look at the research, there are a lot of girls and women playing games, they’re just not playing these kinds of games competitively,” Singh said. “We’re hoping that Columbia College can help grow a gaming culture where women and girls can feel confident. That if we give them the support they need when they are younger, they will take that confidence with them into their lives whether in gaming or elsewhere. No matter what you do (for a career) now, you’re going to come into contact with technology. Who knows where this goes for them? That’s how so many of us found our careers. We did something, it was fun, and we said, ‘Let me learn more about it.’ If we can do that for some girls that would be wonderful.”

Based on the success of this year’s event, Singh said, Columbia College could be open to holding similar opportunities in the future: maybe even a weeklong summer camp.

More opportunities to connect for girls who game. And more chances to Singh to practice her Overwatch.

“We’re not trying to make anybody an expert in one day,” Singh said. “They know how to learn it now and can move forward if they want to. You don’t really need to do much. You just have to spark their interest and create the right environment.”

For a photo gallery from “Girls Who Game” check the thumbnails below:


Middle school girls explore game design and eSports at Girls Who Game event

Posted by on Oct 9, 2017 in Events | 0 comments

Middle school girls explore game design and eSports at Girls Who Game event

September 29-30, 2017 via Columbia Missourian and KOMU TV

As the countdown on the computer screens hit zero, five girls put on headsets, placed their hands on their mice and got ready to play another round of the cooperative video game “Overwatch.” Their opponent? Five girls on the other side of the room. Hannah Bate, 12, yelled into her microphone, “Just go! Run! Hit shift to sprint!” Bate and nine other middle school girls were competing during Girls Who Game, an event put on by a group of Columbia College faculty, staff and eSports coaches Saturday at the campus’ Game Hut. In total, 11 girls attended the daylong event that started with a workshop in video game creation and then shifted to playing “Overwatch” tournaments. But the event was about more than just team-building …


“Middle school girls explore game design and eSports at Girls Who Game event” – Columbia Missourian

“Columbia College to host girls gaming workshop” – KOMU TV

Bright ideas become reality at Columbia College STEAM camp

Posted by on Jul 25, 2017 in Events | 0 comments

Bright ideas become reality at Columbia College STEAM camp

As she was going through seventh grade last year, Asheton Simmons felt a sense of familiarity with a number of the concepts she learned in the classroom.

Columbia College welcomed 35 third- through eighth-graders to campus for the second annual STEAM camp, which ran from July 17-21, 2017.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

She had been introduced to them during summer camp at Columbia College just months earlier.

“It really helped me in the actual school year, because I would learn stuff and be like, ‘Hey, I learned that at STEAM camp!’” said Simmons, who is from Texas. “It was really cool, and I learned a lot.”

So this year, she came back.

Columbia College held its second annual “STEAM” — science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, that is — camp on campus and at nearby Jefferson Middle School from July 17-21, 2017. The camp gave third- through eighth-graders the chance to learn from Columbia College and Jefferson Middle School teachers, such as Columbia College Online Education art instructor Lee Stanton and Jefferson Middle School industrial tech teacher Mike Hall. They also got to learn from Jonathan Sessions, the owner of the Columbia-based “Gravity” Apple services provider and Craig Adams, the coordinator of the Columbia Public Schools’ STEAM bus. The STEAM disciplines help students think critically and embrace creative solutions to real-world problems.

“I want more kids to become excited about these disciplines, and choose to investigate on their own,” said Dr. Ann Schlemper, Columbia College professor of math and the STEAM camp coordinator. “And, when they get to high school, they’ll want to take classes in these areas and eventually choose to go into these disciplines.”

This year, the 35 campers got to learn about the traveling lab on the STEAM bus, as well as meet local scientists during a tour of EAG Laboratories. All week, they put their teaching into practice by constructing and programming digital light sculptures that feature LED illumination.

The campers got to showcase their work for parents, teachers and other interested parties during a July 21 reception at Dorsey Gym, and their pieces will be on display alongside the STEAM bus at the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival at Columbia’s Stephens Lake Park in the fall.

“These kids are adorable. They’re excited and want to be here. They want to learn this stuff,” Schlemper said. “They’re all doing the same thing, but they’re all getting something different from it. I think that’s very powerful.”

Check out a photo gallery from the July 21 reception to cap off this year’s STEAM camp below.

Columbia College celebrates Summer Expeditions program

Posted by on Jul 13, 2017 in Events, Instagram | 0 comments

Columbia College celebrates Summer Expeditions program

Columbia College welcomed around 60 fifth- through seventh-graders from Columbia Public Schools to campus for the final week of their monthlong Summer Expeditions program, culminating in a celebration ceremony in Launer Auditorium on Thursday, June 29.

A group shot at the Summer Expeditions celebration ceremony, held June 29 in Launer Auditorium on the campus of Columbia College.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

This is the eighth straight year Columbia College has hosted a week of Summer Expeditions, which Columbia Public Schools presents through its MAC Scholars program. This year, the fifth-graders took classes on art, music, drama, history and physical education; the sixth-graders focused on forensic science, nursing, math and technology; and the seventh graders partnered with Kyle Holland and Clint Brinkley from the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture for lessons on environmental science, as well as taking a chemistry class on the Columbia College campus each day.

Members of the Columbia College staff tutored the campers, with Bo Bedilion teaching art, Dr. Amy Darnell teaching drama, Nollie Moore teaching music, Dr. Ann Schlemper teaching math, Theresa Veit teaching nursing, Dr. Melinda McPherson teaching forensic science, Dr. Alan James teaching chemistry and Matt Meininger teaching technology.

The fifth-graders treated the parents, teachers and other community members present at Thursday’s celebration ceremony to a song that they had worked on all week with Moore. At a reception after the ceremony, guests snacked on blackberry cobbler made with fruit the seventh graders helped harvest with the CCUA.

“Students, I hope this month of learning, growing, making friends and having fun, capped off by this week of exploring what all a college campus has to offer, motivates you to keep striving to be your best,” Summer Expeditions coordinator Molly Taylor said at the celebration ceremony.

Dr. Jill Dunlap Brown, Columbia Public Schools’ assistant superintendent for elementary education, provided the welcome for the audience at the closing ceremony, and Columbia College professor of political science Dr. Terry Smith helped present the seventh-graders who were “graduating” the program with certificates of completion.

Smith also reminded campers of the $2,500 annual scholarship available to Summer Expeditions alumni who enroll at Columbia College.

“Whatever path you choose to take, we want you to be successful and chase your dreams of going to college,” Smith said. “We also hope that the path brings you back to Columbia College. We’d be honored to count you among our alumni.”

For the fourth straight year, the State Farm Insurance Foundation supported the campers’ week at Columbia College through charitable grant funds. State Farm sales leader Ryan Kenney, Columbia agents Justin Hahn, D.J. Hinds, Greg Hill, Phyllis Nichols and Stephanie Wilmsmeyer and public affairs specialist Kevin Gamble were all on hand to help celebrate the students’ achievements.

Check out the photo gallery below for pictures from the celebration ceremony and the reception that followed!

Presidential Award winners honored for academics, service

Posted by on May 15, 2017 in Events, Featured Story | 0 comments

Presidential Award winners honored for academics, service

A thought occurred to Ryan Frappier as he watched his twin brother, Matt, stride across the stage to receive his Presidential Award during the morning Columbia College commencement ceremony at Southwell Complex on April 29.

Brothers Ryan (left) and Matt Frappier received Presidential Awards during Columbia College’s morning commencement ceremony April 29.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

“I wonder if I’m next.”

Matt and Ryan’s academic careers mirrored each other during their time at Columbia College, with Matt pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Ryan seeking a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Both maintained perfect 4.0 GPAs, and both stayed active in student organizations: Ryan as president of the Computer Science Club and Matt as a standout member and officer of Collegiate DECA.

Sure enough, once Columbia College President Scott Dalrymple was through singing Matt’s praises, it was Ryan’s turn to take the stage as a Presidential Award winner.

“It really means a lot,” Ryan said. “Going here, everything I really liked about this college, I tried to put in a lot. I feel like I’m being recognized, and it feels really great.”

The Frappier brothers made up two of the five Presidential Award recipients honored at Columbia College’s two commencement ceremonies, four in the morning session and one in the afternoon. Presidential Awards are given to students who complete their entire course of study for a bachelor’s degree at Columbia College while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

Abigail O’Brien and Anna Ralls joined the Frappiers as recipients in the morning ceremony, and Kacie Naros took her spot on the stage with Dr. Dalrymple in the afternoon.

O’Brien used her time on campus to become a respected student leader and two-time Student Leadership Award winner while earning a Bachelor of Science, and Ralls earned a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction for a poetry cycle project under the mentorship of Dr. Peter Monacell, chair of the Language and Communication Studies department.

Naros completed her coursework for a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services at Columbia College-Jefferson City, while also working as a process coordinator at the location. She said she first started eyeing the Presidential Award when she received her Associate in Arts from Columbia College at the 2015 commencement festivities and saw that year’s winners honored on stage.

“I was like, ‘What do I have to do to get this award?’” Naros said. “Luckily I was already in a place where I could achieve it. So I went ahead and pursued that, pretty hardcore. It got intense sometimes.”

Naros has worked at Columbia College for three years but decided to pursue her education there before becoming an employee. She wants to become a Licensed Professional Counselor, a career path she may not have chosen if not for her academic advisor at Columbia College.

“There was just this sense of excellence and prestige associated with (Columbia College),” Naros said. “I feel like I have the world at my feet. I’m just ready to go on to the next step in the journey. I’ve always had a passion for helping people and advocating for what is right. Originally I had thought that my passion was in education, but my advisor said, ‘You really have a knack for helping people and making them feel comfortable. So maybe we should go this way.’ It was definitely a fit.”

The Frappier brothers have promising futures lined up as well.

Ryan, who interned at Google over the past two summers, starts a full-time job with the company in July. Matt plans to pursue his Master of Business Administration with a marketing analytics concentration at the University of Missouri while also working as marketing manager at Columbia, Missouri-based company EnergyLink.

The two lived in the same suite in Miller Hall for all four years of college and spent their senior year as roommates.

“I can’t help him with computer science. No way,” Matt said, with a laugh. “But what I could be there for was listening to what he was doing and just offering advice, giving any support that I can. We’ve always been together throughout the whole process.”

Both Matt and Ryan were born with visual impairments, so severe that Matt says his vision is 20/400. He hopes he and his brother can serve as inspirations to students facing similar obstacles.

“You may have a physical disability, but that doesn’t mean your mind isn’t sharp,” Matt said. “It’s a way of showing that it can be done.”

Families celebrate achievements at Columbia College commencement

Posted by on May 8, 2017 in Events, Featured Story | 0 comments

Families celebrate achievements at Columbia College commencement

Kena and Samantha Lederle started classes at Columbia College on the same day. Samantha enrolled in the Day Campus right after high school. Kena, her mother and assistant director for Columbia College’s Online Student Services, spent 20 years forging a career before going back to college.

Columbia College President Scott Dalrymple addresses the crowd at the commencement ceremony in Southwell Complex on April 29.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

They supported each other through their studies and even took some of the same courses, although Kena always seemed to earn slightly higher marks.

After entering school together, they earned their degrees on the same day as well: Saturday, April 29, during Columbia College’s morning commencement ceremony at Southwell Complex. Kena received her Bachelor of General Studies, with a minor in business, while Samantha earned her Bachelor of Arts in Human Services. Mike Lederle, who serves as director of Columbia College’s Rolla location, met both his wife and his daughter at the end of the stage, to present them with their diplomas and share a hug.

Samantha walked first. Her mother followed immediately after.

“I’ve always admired my mom. So, to walk across the stage with her, it’s pretty awesome,” Samantha said.

“It has been quite an honor and a privilege to go through it with her and complete it all together,” Kena added.

Out of the more than 500 students who walked at Columbia College’s two April 29 commencement ceremonies, 13 got the added bonus of having a family member who is part of the college’s faculty or staff hand them their diploma on the stage at Southwell Complex.

In addition to the Lederles, other families who took part in this special tradition were:

  • Marketing office manager Kelly Enright and his son, Joseph
  • Rolla student support assistant Terrance Cobb and his wife, Demeeka
  • Los Alamitos location director Carl David and his daughter, Sarah
  • Military services associate Tiffany Hargis and her son, Cleveland
  • TRiO Student Support Services assistant director Amy Rigg and her husband, Jeffrey
  • Rolla adjunct instructor Steve Blakley and his daughter, Shelby
  • Main campus custodian Walt Huntsucker and his daughter, Elaine Nelson
  • Fort Leonard Wood location director Mike Siegel and his daughter, Hannah
  • Senior graduate and international programs associate Kelly Sharp and her niece, Rachel Emde
  • Assistant registrar for special processes Diane Hibbs and her daughter, Michele
  • Senior director of Adult Higher Education programs and partnerships Tery Donelson and his daughter, Samantha Loman

Add to that the fact that mother and daughter Elizabeth Kavanaugh and Allie Saunders each received her Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration within seconds of each other, and the scene at Southwell Complex was truly a family affair.

Mike (from left), Kena and Samantha Lederle celebrate Kena and Samantha’s graduation April 29. The mother-daughter tandem earned their bachelor’s degrees on the same day.
(Photo by Sam Fleury)

“We change lives for the better. As I look out at all the blue-clad smart people in front of me, I can see it. I’ve heard from many of you. I know many of you. I know that this place has changed your life for the better,” Dr. Scott Dalrymple, president of Columbia College, said at the event. “You have just changed generations of (your family’s) lives by doing what you’ve done, by achieving what you’ve achieved here today.”

The husband-wife duo of Joe and Jackie Noble made a four-hour drive from Illinois to main campus to celebrate earning their master’s degrees, with their 9-year-old daughter, Kendra, along for the ride. Joe earned his Master of Business Administration on Saturday, after receiving a Bachelor of General Studies (2012) and Master of Arts in Teaching (2016) through Columbia College. Jackie earned her Master of Arts in Teaching after receiving both her Associate in Science in Human Services and Bachelor of General Studies in 2014.

“We accomplished this together as a family, which made it that much more momentous for us,” Joe and Jackie said. “Our goal was to celebrate this occasion with our daughter because she was a huge part of the process, not to mention a beacon in our lives. She is truly our inspiration.”

Joe and Jackie Noble brought their 9-year-old daughter, Kendra, to join in on their accomplishments as they earned master’s degrees April 29.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

The Nobles coordinated with Sharp so that they could not only walk one after the other even though they were in separate schools, but so Kendra could walk across the stage with them.

She did so holding her mother’s hand, adorned in a matching navy blue cap and gown provided by Herff Jones, a company that provides regalia for commencements around the country

“I felt like a princess in my cap and gown!” said Kendra. “I was so proud of my mom and dad.”

Joe and Jackie are both first-generation college graduates. Kendra wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up, so she doubts this is the last time she’ll don the graduation regalia.

“It was so important to share this culminating experience from start to finish with our daughter. And trust us, she was right there with us through many deadlines and study sessions!” Joe and Jackie said. “We just want Kendra to know that anything is possible and that each generation should ‘aspire to inspire’ the next.”

Midwest Campus Clash draws large, excited crowd to Southwell Complex

Posted by on Apr 14, 2017 in Events, Featured Story | 0 comments

Midwest Campus Clash draws large, excited crowd to Southwell Complex

Lights flashed, music blared, and Columbia College eSports coach Duong Pham paced excitedly on the Southwell Complex court as his players made final preparations for their semifinal League of Legends match against Robert Morris at the Midwest Campus Clash and Gaming Expo on Saturday, April 8.

“I’m so hyped for this,” Pham said.

He wasn’t alone.

Earlier in the day, when the host Cougars took down Ohio State to reach the semifinals, the atmosphere was transcendent. The hometown crowd cheered for every kill or assist registered by a Columbia College gamer, every “rampage,” every turret and inhibitor destroyed and, finally, when the Cougars took down Ohio State’s nexus to end the game.

Spectators take in the League of Legends tournament at Columbia College’s inaugural Midwest Campus Clash and Gaming Expo on Saturday, April 8.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

The players plied their trade behind computer monitors on a raised stage underneath an enormous video screen, with “Shoutcasters” broadcasting the action to the room. The spectators gathered on the court below, transfixed.

“There was a lot of energy, and I thought it was a pretty knowledgeable crowd. They knew what they were cheering for,” said Dr. Scott Dalrymple, president of Columbia College. “I know it must’ve been a really big moment for the team. It shows Columbia College is a serious place for serious gamers.”

The inaugural Midwest Campus Clash and Gaming Expo drew more than 1,000 people to Southwell Complex for the one-day event. The League of Legends tournament, involving seven of the top eSports teams in the region battling for a trophy and a pool of $25,000 in scholarship prize money, was the main attraction, but it was far from the only thing to draw attendees’ attention.

Exhibits around Southwell Complex included a classic gaming lounge with Nintendo and Super Nintendo systems, a virtual reality station, a fastest lap competition on the Forza racing game and a gigantic screen on which people could play the classic video game Pong.

At the opposite end from the League of Legends action, the Collegiate Starleague held the North American finals for the Madden 17 football game on both PlayStation4 and Xbox, complete with bleachers, a fake turf playing surface and Shoutcasters of its own.

Dalrymple, who famously challenged Columbia College students to a Madden tournament when he became president in 2014, was an interested observer. If not exactly an eager participant.

“My lack of prowess is well-documented,” Dalrymple said. “I’ll play Pong against anybody who wants to, but that’s about it.”

Even though the Midwest Campus Clash was only in its first year of existence, everything had the look and feel of a more established event. Dalrymple heard from people throughout the day who said that Columbia College’s gaming bonanza went toe-to-toe with other events they’ve attended around the country.

“I’ve been really happy with the support that the Columbia College community and the Columbia community has given this event,” Columbia College eSports director Bryan Curtis said. “I think everybody was blown away. The facility has been completely transformed, so it’s not like it is when they’re used to coming in here for a basketball game or a volleyball game. Everybody has just absolutely loved it.”

Coach Duong Pham and the Columbia College eSports team prepare for their quarterfinal match against Ohio State.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

On the main stage, Ian Alexander was officially on a rampage. Columbia College’s sophomore top-laner had piloted his character, Fizz — an amphibious-looking being with a trident who, the Shoutcasters said, was an unconventional choice for top lane — to three straight kills and was sporting nine kills and assists against zero deaths in the first game against Robert Morris.

Sophomore mid-laner Jonathan Song was inflicting damage and setting up kills for freshmen RJ Bohnak and Gabe Eckenroth, while junior Dean Wood lent support.

“Columbia College, you guys are so scrappy,” the Shoutcasters called. “What the heck?”

In the end, though, Robert Morris proved to be too much for the Cougars. The Eagles, who became the first college team in the nation to offer eSports scholarships in 2014, took two straight games to knock Columbia College out of the tournament, just as they did in the North Regional semifinals of the uLOL Campus Series Tournament three weeks earlier to end the Cougars’ inaugural season ranked in the top 16 of the more than 200 teams that competed in the tournament. Robert Morris went on to win the $15,000 grand prize at the Midwest Campus Clash, Maryville took second and $5,000, and Columbia College and Grand Valley State shared third and each took home $2,500.

“We played very well this time. We gave them a run for their money,” Pham said. “Each time we play them, we learn a little more. We’re not there yet, where we’re taking games off them or anything, but we’re getting there.”

Who’s up for a rematch next year? Columbia College will host.

“It’s always been my vision that gamers throughout the Midwest will ask each other, ‘Are you going to Columbia this year?’ Our name will become synonymous with innovation and excellence,” Dalrymple said. “Next year will be even better.”

Check out the photo gallery below for images from the Midwest Campus Clash!

Lindy West discusses unique challenges women face in society

Posted by on Mar 31, 2017 in Events, Featured Story | 0 comments

Lindy West discusses unique challenges women face in society

Before Lindy West’s readers knew what she looked like, the negative comments her work received centered on the impersonal: the content of her pieces for the Seattle weekly publication The Stranger, her ideas, her style of writing.

Author and activist Lindy West signs copies of her book after her Women’s History Month lecture at Columbia College.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

She remembers the first personal one, the first one that referenced her appearance. It hit the internet on June 9, 2009, at 11:54 p.m. They haven’t stopped for the past eight years.

“While the tenor of my commenters was often snide and disdainful, they stuck to hating the message, not the messenger,” West told a room of around 100 attendees in Columbia College’s Bixby Lecture Hall on March 20. “Those years were liberating in a way I can barely imagine now.”

West, a columnist for The Guardian newspaper whose 2016 memoir Shrill was a New York Times best-seller, served as the keynote speaker for Columbia College Women’s History Month programming, which all centered around the theme of “Building Women’s Futures: Women and Work in the 21st Century.”

For West, a feminist and body image activist who uses her writing as a megaphone for these issues, internet “trolls” — commenters who post abusive messages about other people online — are a way of life in her workplace.

Her experience is not unique among female writers.

“Not only are we expected to grow thicker skin and get used to it, but (we’re told) it’s a part of the job, that it’s normal,” West said. “It’s not normal.”

Earlier in the day, during a session with Columbia College associate professor of history Dr. Tonia Compton’s Women’s History class, West worried the stream of abuse reserved for women has a chilling effect on younger writers seeking a platform to express themselves.

She heard from students about confronting trolls, from arguing with them to taking down Tumblr microblogging pages so they wouldn’t be able to access personal information.

“When you feel invisible forces like this holding you back, believe yourself,” West said. “It is not part of your job, no matter how effectively the idea that it is has been coded into our society. You are not imagining it. Sexism is real. It has been documented over and over and over again. You are already experiencing it. You have experienced it your entire life, and you will experience it your entire life. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can start fighting for yourself and the people around you.”

Compton, who chairs the Columbia College Women’s History Month Committee, felt West’s voice was an important one to include because of the prominence she has earned with her work and the abuse she’s endured from being an outspoken woman along the way.

“If you’ve spent any time online in the last year or so, you’ve seen arguments about equal pay and harassment in the workplace,” Compton said. “We felt like this was a conversation that needed to happen on campus. What are the ways in which gender and work intersect? What are the challenges that we’re facing now and going forward? And how do we prepare our students and communities to make things better?”

During West’s talk in Bixby, which preceded a question-and-answer session and a reception at which West signed copies of her book, she outlined several recent examples of sexism highlighted in popular media, including an experiment undertaken by two co-workers — one male, one female — in which they switched names on their email signatures for a week to see what happened.

The man suddenly found his clients rude, condescending and unwilling to take his advice. The woman had a much easier time than she was used to experiencing.

“You have to be invested in not paying attention to believe that this isn’t real,” West said. “One of the most insidious features of sexism is the endless demand that its victims prove its existence.”

West has a national following with her writing, two more books in the works and is in the midst of developing a TV show based on Shrill.

She feels the privilege of being able to lend voice to the voiceless. She urges more people to take that step.

“The more we are afraid to tell our own stories, the more that void is filled by opportunists and people who want to tell a different story,” West said. “Support people who are speaking out about their experiences. Because they really need backup.”

‘Night of Unity’ highlights diversity of Columbia College campus

Posted by on Mar 10, 2017 in Events, Featured Story | 0 comments

‘Night of Unity’ highlights diversity of Columbia College campus

Bixby Lecture Hall was filled to capacity for Columbia College’s inaugural “A Night of Unity” talent showcase Feb. 22.

Columbia College student Sarah Richardson performs a spoken-word presentation at the “A Night of Unity” talent showcase.
(Photo by Camille Mahs)

Director of New Student Programs Kim Coke took the packed auditorium as an encouraging sign of the importance supporting diversity holds for a sizable segment of the Columbia College community.

“I’ve been at Columbia College 17 years. Tonight is the pinnacle of my career,” Coke said. “It is incredible to see the amount of support we have on our campus. It fills me with pride that I can say that I’m part of the Columbia College community.”

“A Night of Unity” served as a way to celebrate the uniqueness and accepting nature that permeates Columbia College. The Student Affairs office’s Diversity Action Team put out a call all over main campus for performers to highlight the kindness and care that exist within the college community.

In the end, 16 acts including more than 60 Columbia College students signed up to be heard, sharing their talent in everything from song and dance, to spoken word presentations, to performance art, to animation.

“How do we meet the students where they are and still be able to infuse an educational, intentional experience for students?” Coke said. “There’s a lot of creativity on campus. Arts are a great way to convey the message.”

Throughout the event, which was co-sponsored by the college’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, videos reinforced the themes of acceptance and love, culminating in a video produced by the Diversity Action Team and the video production team from the Marketing department in which Columbia College students and staff shared their appreciation of the diversity on campus.

The Jane Froman Singers started out the night with a rendition of “Let My Love Be Heard,” and a cappella versions of The Black Eyed Peas’ “Where is the Love?” and The Turtles’ “Happy Together” followed later in the program.

Bixby also served as a place where students could give voice to some of the racial tensions that still haunt society. Ivana Easley read an original poem called “What Are You?” about her experience growing up as a mixed-race woman, and Sarah Richardson performed a piece, originally by Tolu Obiwole and Ashia Ajani, called “Black College,” about being an African-American student going to school at a mostly white institution.

“There are questions that I’m always asking as a result,” Richardson said during the performance. “Am I the space left over? Your diversity quota? A box checked ‘yes’ for ‘ethnic?’ Did you accept me, hire me, kiss me for my skin or for who I am? Am I enough? Am I what you expected? Am I qualified? Or just black?”

Coke shared her own story about trying to help African-American friends avoid the anger and hate speech flowing from protestors when racial discord broke out at her high school during the desegregation movement in St. Louis during the 1980s.

“All across campus, we’ve heard the conversations that are unfolding: in living rooms, residence halls, classrooms, and in small spaces that feel safe enough to house those kinds of conversations,” Coke said. “This is an opportunity to give voice to these more intimate moments as we question our humanity.”

At a reception following the event, attendees were encouraged to sign their name to a pledge that they would “demonstrate empathy when listening to others,” “look inward in order to examine our actions and reactions” and “see both the diversity and unity in humanity.”

The hope is that Columbia College students, in the words of a spoken-word performance that student Kate McHughs set to animation, are part of the “generation screaming and fighting for unity and peace, and we will win. Because love always wins.”

Check out a photo gallery of the event below, from student photographer Camille Mahs.

Author and activist Lindy West headlines Women’s History Month events

Posted by on Feb 27, 2017 in Events, Featured Story | 0 comments

Author and activist Lindy West headlines Women’s History Month events

On March 20, students in Tonia Compton’s Women’s History class will get the chance to share some one-on-one time with a woman who’s in the process of making some history of her own.

Lindy West, a New York Times best-selling author, will speak at Bixby Lecture Hall on March 20 as part of Columbia College’s Women’s History Month celebration.

Lindy West, the New York Times best-selling author and women’s rights and body image activist, will serve as the main event for Columbia College’s Women’s History Month programming this year, a monthlong celebration that culminates in a talk by West at 7 p.m. on March 20 in Bixby Lecture Hall.

Earlier that day, West will be a special guest in Compton’s class.

“To give them the opportunity to be exposed to a national speaker of that caliber is such an incredible opportunity,” said Compton, an associate professor of History at Columbia College. “That’s the sort of opportunity very few people get, to be able to interact with her and have a chance to talk with her. When we do Women’s History Month, the Schiffman Lecture and other events like that, we’re really proud to be able to bring in these national speakers and give our students these opportunities.”

This year, the Women’s History Month theme at Columbia College is “Building Women’s Futures: Women and Work in the 21st Century.” That conforms nicely to the theme set forth by the National Women’s History Project: “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.”

Compton says that is a happy accident. The college’s planning committee came up with this year’s theme before the national organization announced the nationwide one.

“The workplace now is not so clearly defined,” Compton said. “There used to be a clear set of women’s work that women did outside the home. We’ve worked really hard at eradicating those stereotypes, but they’re still with us.

“(The national theme) just kind of reinforced that there is a national conversation happening about this issue: women in the workplace, what that means and the various issues tied to that.”

West has written and spoken extensively on the subject of subverting gender norms in her work as a columnist for The Guardian newspaper, a contributor on the radio show This American Life and in her best-selling 2016 memoir Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman. In December, the entertainment publication Variety reported that actress Elizabeth Banks’ production company has optioned the rights to Shrill for a half-hour show.

West will be available to sign copies of Shrill for students, faculty, staff and members of the Columbia community in attendance at a reception after her talk in Bixby on March 20.

“She’s being incredibly generous with her time. It demonstrates how important women’s issues are to her,” Compton said. “Shrill is just such a phenomenal book. To get a chance to hear more about that from her and ask her more questions about that, especially in light of the current political climate, I think that’ll be really interesting, to see her take on how we’ve seen a rise in women’s activism and where that’s going.”

Columbia College’s Women’s History Month events start off with a brown bag lunch discussion of gender, vocation and occupation at 11:15 a.m. on March 2 in the Lee Room of Dulany Hall. A screening of the film North Country — starring Charlize Theron and depicting the first successful major sexual harassment case in the United States — will follow at 6 p.m. on March 9 in the Lee Room.

A “Meet Your Future” panel will take place from 3-5 p.m. on March 15 in Dorsey Gym, in which community members who work in non-traditional professions for their gender will lead a discussion of work and gender stereotypes. The panel will include: former Boone County Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller; Columbia Police Department Deputy Chief Jill Schlude; Sarah Kovaleski, director of engineering design at Ameren Missouri; Columbia College alum Anne Churchill, owner and event and wedding planner at AnnaBelle Events and owner of Jubilee Planning Studio; and others.

“We always want our students to come out of these experiences thinking about how this impacts their life. Whether that’s the decision to pursue something they wanted to, or for a girl to say, ‘You know? You’re right. I can be a’ fill in the blank,” Compton says. “Maybe they already made that decision and need to hear from somebody else that, yeah, it’s OK for women to do that kind of work, or it’s OK for men to do that kind of work. Society doesn’t have to tell you that that’s not normal for a boy or a girl. Just to see that and get that reinforcement, or to be inspired to try something new or different that they maybe didn’t think was possible.”