Writing center gets new director
Dr. Strange mystifies audiences
Food and fun in downtown Monroe
Dec. 1, 2016 Vol. 64, Issue 4
McCloskey achieves another curtain call James Quick Agora Staff
MCCC is poised to lose one of its leading lights at the end of this semester. English professor William McCloskey has made it his mission in life to pass on his wealth of knowledge to those who would listen. “I’ve always been a big reader,” he says, leaning back in his chair thoughtfully. “Ever since I was pretty young, about the sixth or seventh grade. “But I had no idea until I got into high school, when I went to (Monroe) Catholic Central, really what I wanted to do. However, I wasn’t sure if I was going to teach English or History. Those are the two I had the most interest in. So I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.” If Science and Math are sister subjects in their intent to figure out how things work, then English and History are sister subjects in that they both deal in storytelling. So it’s fitting that this chapter in McCloskey’s story will be coming to an end. He’s quite sure of what’s going to happen now: he will have his curtain call at the end of the semester into a well-earned retirement. “I’ve accepted it wholeheartedly. I made a conscious decision to do this,” he says. “I’m looking forward to it.” The 66-year-old is a lifelong resident of Monroe, and has been teaching since he received his bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University in 1972. He started out at Jefferson High School, teaching 11th and 12th grades before moving into an assistant principal position. During that time, in
1977, he received his master’s from EMU as well. “And then I decided… I don’t know what the reason was, necessarily, that I wanted t o pursue the doctorate,” he says. “But it was basically just for me.
I wasn’t going to make any more money, I wasn’t going to compete with anybody or anything. It was just something I wanted to do.” McCloskey received his doctorate from the University of Toledo in 1990. “It was a personal goal for me,” he says. “I tell everybody who is interested in doing that that you have to really want to do it. If you’re doing it for other reasons, other than ‘you want to do it’, then it might not be the best thing.” His answer to why he came to MCCC is simple. “I always wanted to teach at a college level,” he says. “And in the 1970s, when I was teaching at Jefferson, I always kind of wanted to do something here. But I couldn’t do anything until I had my master’s degree. “So, in 1977, as soon as I got my degree, I came out here and applied to teach as an adjunct. I
started teaching here – English Composition 1 and 2, a lot of the other courses like literature – like on Saturday, as they offered courses on Saturday. And then, in… 1992? 1992, I think. I interviewed for the job of dean.”
He was hired as dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, beginning in winter semester of 1993. This began what would become a record-breaking 12½year tenure. During that first semester, he
split his time between his new role and his existing duties at Jefferson. “I got to meet a lot of people,” he says. “I also got the chance to see a lot of people teach, which is something I don’t get to do as a classroom teacher – you typically don’t go into somebody else’s classroom. But as a dean, some of my jobs included doing evaluations and observations. I saw some very, very good teaching, and I liked doing that. “But after a while, I just said, ‘Wow, this is just so boring.’ I just didn’t like doing it. I missed teaching.” Now, although he feels he’s through teaching, he’s planned a final hurrah. He’ll be on the 2017 Study Abroad Trip as an adjunct. “It was really only because I promised last year that I’d do it again, because I’d liked the first time,” he says. “And I thought that I was going to work here until the end of the year.” While everyone is understanding of McCloskey’s decision to retire, some are disappointed to lose their colleague and a man who is, by all counts, an enormous amount of fun and a tremendous asset to the college. “I’ve known Bill since we were in high school,” says fellow English professor Cheryl Johnston. “I wouldn’t say we knew each other well at that point in our lives, but we had similar backgrounds, so we knew each other. Then years later, he started teaching at Jefferson, where I was a substitute teacher, so we crossed paths again!” “Then I became an adjunct here, and we were adjunct professors together. Then he became dean of the department and I left SMCC (Saint Mary’s Catholic Central) to teach here full time. So we’ve had this intertwining relationship. We’ve known each other a long, long number of years.” It’s been said by some that they’re so close they might as well be brother and sister; a view Johnston fully supports. “We have a very friendly rapport,” she says. “And so we kid each other. When we went on the (Study Abroad 2015) trip together, it was just like going on vacation with your brother.” Professor of Political Science Joanna Sabo also has known McCloskey for years. “He mentored me when we were both deans,” she says.
See MCCC, Page 2
Traditional math class causes confusion
Leah Thomas Editor
The announcement of two traditional math classes caused some confusion for administration, counselors, and students. The confusion stemmed from unclear qualifications for students. After five years of computer math classes, the college decided to pilot a program with two traditional classes in Winter 2017. Math professor James Vallade said if students wish to enroll, they need permission from him, an Accuplacer score from 50 to 120, and it must be the first attempt at a math class at MCCC. Vallade said students should check with their counselors to make sure they meet the three requirements before seeking permission from him. To get permission, students must meet with Vallade to discuss the content of the course. They can contact him by emailing email@example.com. Vallade said the purpose of the meeting is to discuss the goals of the course and find out how the student learns best. “I will also make sure that they understand that this is a traditional lecture course, not a redesigned, and make sure that it is appropriate for them,” Vallade said. It is not self-paced, so students are expected to stay with the class. The professor will be leading the class primarily by lecture, but students can also expect some group work. In each class, students will bring the workbook provided to class, take notes, and ask questions. “Students who successfully complete this course will be in the same place as a student who successfully completed 092,” Vallade said. Once students have permission, they can enroll on WebPal. The courses are listed as MATH 09014 and MATH 092-15. There is a Monday/Wednesday class from 10 to 11:50 a.m. and a Tuesday/Thursday class from 5 to 6:50 p.m. Vallade will be teaching both classes. In the winter, there may only be enough students for one section. “Apparently, the students that we are looking for, who are the first-time math enrollees, there are a lot more of them in the Fall than there are in the Winter,” Vallade said. If enough students do not enroll, the college will cancel one section.
Millage renovations begin in Spring Leah Thomas Editor
The L Building renovation, which will be the first project financed by the new millage, is scheduled to begin in May 2017. Jack Burns, director of Campus Planning and Facilities, said the renovation is a multi-phased set of projects. “The first phase will be to remove the precast concrete sunshades and brick ribs,” he said. When the building was originally built, improper planning resulted in a design flaw, Burns said. The reinforcing steel and masonry is not sufficiently carrying the resultant loads, so those systems are failing.
Inside: Campus News................2-5 Feature..............................6 Opinion..............................7 A&E....................................8
The college will choose a contractor to install a new system using light-gauge metal framing and panels that will properly screen the sun and reduce cooling loads and also allow in sufficient daylight. “This new system will be much lighter than the old system and therefore much safer,” Burns said. Other phases include renovations that make the building more accessible, safe, and comfortable for students. Other changes include installing restrooms and door hardware and renovating the first and second floor to improve accessibility for students with disabilities. A fire sprinkler system and an emergency lighting
generator will be installed. Contractors also will coat the interior galvanized cold-water piping and add fiber-optic cabling. Finally, they plan to upgrade network electronics and classroom technology and install a permanent student lounge. Burns said the next project financed by the millage, which was approved Nov. 8, would be the East and West Tech buildings. He said no decision has been made on when renovations would begin. The college has to file a request for qualifications, select an architect, do the design and construction document process, and find a general contractor.
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Kojo Quartey watches the news for millage results.
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December 1, 2016
MCCC will miss prof’s experience, humor Continued from Page 1
She’s speaking of when she was first hired as dean of the Business Division in 1994. Her intended mentors went AWOL – Jim Stanley quit and Sue Wetzel went on maternity leave a week after her hiring. McCloskey stepped up to the plate. “We had a lot of fun, and I think we both would agree that one of the things that was nice about being in administration was that we knew we were caretakers of the institution,” she says. “Both Bill and I cared deeply about the college as administrators. Because he’d been assistant principal [at Jefferson] before he came here, he had more education background than I did. I came from business and industry, so his insights were very helpful. “He’s a really calm thinker, so I really appreciated his help over the years.” Wendy Wysocki, professor of Business and Economics and one of McCloskey’s co-chairs on the Learning Assessment Committee, says much the same. “I really appreciated the opportunity to work with him as a co-chair for the LAC,” she says. “He really proved to be a wonderful mentor. He’s a wonderful person – he runs meetings well, he’s very knowledgeable. “I think I appreciate the fact that he allows people to have input as well. It’s always been a pleasure to work with him. I’m looking forward to going on the Study Abroad trip with him as well, and I hope he has a wonderful retirement!” McCloskey’s knowledge and insight are two of the things that History professor Edmund LaClair will miss most about him. LaClair tells a story of a time recently when faculty were updating some forms and policies. Even staff who had been at the college ten years or more seemed to not know the purpose of it all. “And then,” he says with a grin, “Bill just sends me an e-mail, ‘Oh, here’s why we did it, because 20 years ago we did it
Photos by Dan Shaw
McCloskey enjoys his time abroad, at the Globe Theater in London (above), in Switzerland (upper right), and teaching (right).
for these reasons. Here’s how it could be improved, here’s how it could be fixed, and let me know if you have any questions.’ “That’s the power of Bill McCloskey that people don’t see. In the classroom he’s an excellent teacher, but outside it he knows everything worth knowing about the college.” LaClair emphasizes that McCloskey’s expertise is what the college is losing, and most people won’t even be able to appreciate that as they won’t know. Student Antoinette Kuzich shares how she’s learned much under his tutelage. “Bill makes learning both fun and instructive,” she writes in a letter. “He opened my eyes to Shakespeare… and has portrayed both King Lear and Mac-
“Cornerstone might almost be too light of a term. He’s a foundational stone – he’s been here long enough!” Edmund LaClair, History Professor beth at the college. When he reads various characters aloud to the class, it creates a new level of understanding of the subject matter. His teaching style is unique.” Plenty of others have said much the
Photo by Reggie Allen
McCloskey plays and directs “King Lear” in a Monroe Community Players Production at Meyer Theater.
HVAC project scheduled for completion by Fall 2017 The Agora Editor: Leah Thomas Adviser: Dan Shaw Staff:
Joseph Abrams Leigh Cole Emily Cornett
Miranda Gardner James Quick Vanessa Ray
Editorial Policy The Agora is published by the students of Monroe County Community College, 1555 S. Raisinville Rd., Monroe, MI, 48161. The editorial office is located in Room 202 of the Life Sciences Building, (734) 384-4186, firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions: The Agora encourages submissions by anyone in the college community, including free-lance articles, opinion columns or letters to the editor. All submissions must include a name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. The Agora reserves the right to edit for clarity, accuracy, length, and libel. The Agora is a student-managed newspaper that supports a free student press. It is a member of the Michigan Community College Press Association, the Michigan Press Association, College Media Association, Associated Collegiate Press and the Student Press Law Center. Story suggestions are welcome. Let us know what you would like to see in The Agora - it’s your newspaper. Email submissions to email@example.com.
Leah Thomas Editor
All the buildings in the original HVAC renovations plan will be running on the geothermal system just prior to Fall 2017. Jack Burns, director of Campus Planning and Facilities, said the project is 75% complete. He said additional HVAC projects will be done in the future that are part of the millage. None of the millage funds will be
same, including the current dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Paul Hedeen. “His teaching was always top-notch. Never had any problems,” Hedeen says. “I appreciated everything he did. He was always a great teaching leader. He just did everything at a very high level of professionalism and sense of humor. “To be in one of his classes, especially early in one’s career, with the best experience the division had to offer, was probably one of the great college experiences for a number of people. We’re going to miss him.” When suggested that this, among other reasons, is what makes McCloskey a cornerstone of the college, LaClair’s eyes widen. “Cornerstone might almost be too light of a term,” he says. “He’s a foundational stone – he’s been here long enough!” He’s been here so long that his son has begun working at the college as well. Another professor of English, Scott McCloskey has worked for the college as an adjunct for 19 years, winning Adjunct of the Year in 2014. Occasionally, he puts on plays in the Little Theater in the basement of the C Building. Scott isn’t the only one of McCloskey’s progenies at the college. Brady Spitulski is a writing fellow and McCloskey’s stepson, and describes his stepfather’s tendency to extend his theatricality offstage. “I think, because he’s really into theater, he’ll play roles even in real-life situations,” says Spitulski. “He was telling us – my family, me and my brothers – about when he was assistant principal at Jefferson, and he would be a real tough guy. “He’d get into that role. And that wasn’t him – he knew that, even at that time. He would just do it for fun… I feel like he plays roles a lot. It’s not always him, but a role he’s playing?” This highlights another facet of McCloskey: his theatrical presence. He’s shone
used for HVAC renovations in the original plan, Burns said. The pipelines that are buried all over campus have the ability to connect the Physical Plant, H Building, and the La-Z-Boy Center to the geothermal system in the future. “That means eventually the whole campus will be geothermal,” Burns said. “We even planned on adding a geothermal system down at the Whitman Center as its heating/cooling systems will be requiring replacement in
the next few years as well.” The last major portion of the project to be completed will be the Life Sciences Building. It will go mostly offline immediately following the Winter Semester. Burns said the target date is May 8, 2017. They will replace the air-handling units in that building, add any necessary ductwork, convert all the current pneumatic valves over to electronic, add any necessary electronic dampers, and then connect it to the geothermal
onstage both in his capacity as a member of the Monroe County Community Players and at the La-Z-Boy Center’s Meyer Theater, which McCloskey helped design. “I remember a couple of us sitting down at a table and drawing the outline of what we thought the theater should look like,” he says. “And that was given to the architects, and they took a lot of those ideas and the theater looks like many of the ideas we had. So I was very pleased to have been on the ground floor of the Meyer Theater.” On the stage, he’s performed as the title character in William Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” which he cites as “one of the greatest plays ever written.” Lear, McCloskey contends, is one of the best characters ever written. A prior president of the college, who McCloskey still remains very friendly with and keeps nameless out of respect, was continually frazzled by the plays McCloskey put on. He recalls these with a chuckle and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. “He was always concerned that we were going to cause some kind of scandal at the college,” he says. “We did ‘Equus’, and he called me up and said, ‘Bill, I hear there’s going to be nudity.’ No, no, there was not going to be nudity – they wore body suits. “‘I heard there’s animal cruelty.’ Well, no, but the main character does stab out the eyes of horses, but it was all symbolic. So he was always very concerned.” After a celebrated career, McCloskey has definitely earned his retirement. A quote hanging in his office, of course from “King Lear,” holds special meaning. “For worse I may yet be. The worst is not, so long as we can say ‘This is the worst.’” “I like that line because it reminds me to quit complaining. Because if you complain,” he says, “it might just get worse!”
system, Burns said. Over the winter, people will be working in the boiler rooms so the A building, C building, and the CTC building can be connected to the new system in the spring. “So, we will have the Administration Building, East/West Tech, and the CLRC on the new geothermal system after the heating season is over, and then Life Sciences will come on line most likely just prior to the start of the Fall Semester 2017,” Burns said.
Quartey thankful for millage victory Continued from Page 1
“We worked very hard on this millage and even though help was limited, the “Once we have a general contractor, few who assisted brought this to fruia construction schedule will be devel- tion.” oped,” Burns said. On Nov. 29, the college hosted a millThe college has a limited time span in age victory celebration. which to spend the matching state fundQuartey thanked the townships, electing that they received last year. ed officials, campus family, and the colEast and West Tech will be combined lege legacy builders. into one building through a major addiHe also reviewed the millage strategy: tion. engage, embrace, and educate. “Both buildings will receive extensive He said the door-to-door work, media interior renovations, partly to reconfigmessaging, and community engagement ure spaces, but also to bring some old strategies won the millage. spaces back online from when the ASET The comparison of this millage to the Division moved over to the CTC,” one Quartey attempted two years ago Burns said. showed vast improvement. “The main focus will be to relocate the All the townships, except Ash, had LAL and increase their allotted area.” an increased percentage of votes for the Additional moves include the Writing millage. Center, Math Den, and Veterans Lounge. The townships that lacked signs and “Nov. 9 was one of the happiest days material were the places the millage lost, of my life,” said MCCC President Kojo Quartey said. Quartey. “We need to engage in the townships Voters passed the millage and elected where we lost,” Quartey said. “This is the three MCCC Board of Truestees. time for all of us to come together, now “I had no doubt that it would pass be- that we have this opportunity, as an insticause of my unwavering faith,” Quartey tution and as one move this entire comsaid. “I want to thank God first and fore- munity forward.” most.
Greg Stewart, a former Bedford Township supervisor, thanked Quartey for engaging Bedford in the millage and Monroe county. “Coming from South County, I think that one of the things that inspired me is that I now learned that if we are going to be included, we need to be involved,” Stewart said. Aaron Mason was elected to a fouryear term on the college Board of Trustees; he ran for unopposed. William Bruck and Steven Hill were named to the board for six-year terms. “Everyone has something to contribute and I look forward to working with them to move this institution and community forward,” Quartey said. “I have met and interacted with both of them in the community and look forward to getting to know them better,” he said. “I want to work with individuals who put the students, college, and community above themselves.” Quartey said he was surprised Edward Feldman was not reelected tothe board. Feldman and Mason were appointed to the board last December. While Mason ran unopposed for a four-year term, Feldman was in a three-person field for two
Photo by Leah Thomas
Greg Stewart of Bedford Township calls Kojo Quartey an inspiration.
six-year positions. Feldman was tireless in his work to pass the millage, Quartey said. “He and I went door-to-door in Milan, and he went door-to-door all over the city of Monroe,” Quartey said.
December 1, 2016
mcccagora.com • The Agora
Veteran’s Day draws out veterans, citizens
Miranda Gardner Agora Staff
A full audience attended MCCC’s Veteran’s Day program, as veterans and civilians alike shared memories. Air Force veteran Wayne Blank began the procession, as the room stood proud before the flag. “We recognize our duty to our country with a feeling of profound gratitude of the noblest of causes,” he said, “in our continuing quest of an honorable world peace.” Blank served his nation from 19671971, and he reminded the audience of the costs. “We believe every veteran has given a part of their life to our country,” he said. “Every one of these troops deserves respect from our community.” Everyone bowed their heads in silence as Navy veteran John Shinkle led the crowd in prayer. “Yee with us, who stand here today with the task of remembering those who have gone before in service to their country and still serve her for freedom’s sake,” he said. “Make us all the more faithful for leading us as a nation, and indeed grateful for the veterans in our own community.” Penny Dorcey, administrative assistant to the college president, sang the national anthem, accompanied by the Monroe High School band. MCCC English professor William McCloskey and adjunct professor Scott McCloskey stood center stage for dramatic readings in honor of veterans. “When Scott and I were approached to do something for this event, we immediately thought of these two speeches,” Bill McCloskey said. “I had a number of things I could have chosen to read, and I decided to pick a speech by a famous general by the name of George Patton,” he said. “It was Patton’s speech given on the 31st of May 1944 while addressing the U.S. 6th Ar-
Photo by Leigh Cole
Wayne Blank salutes the American Flag during the MCCC’s Veteran’s Day program. Blank served in the military from 1967-1971 and was the keynote speaker.
mored Division.” McCloskey warned the audience of Patton’s colorful language. “The hardest thing was cleaning up the language – if you thought my rendering was ‘salty,’ read the original,” he said. “I really did clean it up!” “I think both speeches are pretty easy to get into as performers,” McCloskey said. He read the speech with grit and power, embodying the emotion of war. “American’s love to fight. All real American’s love the sting and clash of
battle,” he read. “When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big-league ball players, and the toughest boxers. Americans love a war and will not tolerate a loser,” McCloskey read. “Americans play to win all the time, and that’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose.” When he finished reading the address, the crowds’ applause echoed through the La-Z-Boy Atrium.
Scott McCloskey read the St Crispen’s Day speech from Shakespeare’s play, Henry V. Bill McCloskey said both of the speeches had a strong patriotic and inspirational tone. “Both speeches ended with the same sentiments – soldiers in battle really are a band of brothers,” he said. “The most noticed person here is you, the patriot,” MCCC alumnus and Army veteran William Bruck said. “American veterans are unlike any other force in the world,” he said, “always conquering and never occupying.” Bruck said American veterans only make up 5 percent of the population.
“It was assumed they would always be around, but now that they make up a dwindling part of our society—we need to honor our veterans,” he said. People judge each other based on appearances, and appearances alone are not enough to tell who a person is, Bruck said. “The proof of our freedom isn’t found in the teacher, mail carrier, or the firefighter, but in the citizen soldier,” he said. “We own a land of peace as long as we have veterans willing to stand and defend it.” “I would hate for us to walk unobservant of the greatest among us, the ones among us who are greatly dwindling,” Bruck said.
Photos by Leigh Cole
Left, English professor Bill McCloskey recites a speech from Gen. George Patton at the Veteran’s Day program, and an audience of veterans and citizens alike watch his theatrical performance.
MCCC alumni prove to be more successful this year Leah Thomas Editor
MCCC’s 2014-2015 graduates were more successful than the previous year’s alumni, MCCC’s Board of Trustees were told at their Nov. 28 meeting. Jamie DeLeeuw, coordinator of Institutional Research, Evaluation & Assess-
ment, presented the 2014-2015 Graduate Follow-Up Survey to the board members. It was the second survey that followed a cohort of MCCC graduates and compiled data on their success rates. Out of the 502 graduates, 96 responded to the survey. Ninety-one percent of the graduates are
currently working in their field of study or continuing their education, DeLeeuw said. “Employers are much happier with the alumni this time around,” she said. Ninety-five percent said they reached their goal at MCCC. “Students seem quite satisfied,”
DeLeeuw said. The board also recognized five retirements. English professor William McCloskey received a standing ovation for his service, with several well wishes from board members. Retiring English professor Tim Dillon
did not attend the meeting to be recognized. The retirements of administrators Julie Billmaier and Penny Bodell were also recognized by the board, and staff member Joan Mead is retiring on Jan. 17, 2017. The next board meeting will be held o Jan. 23, 2017, at 6 p.m. in the Z building.
MCCC writing center receiving new director Vanessa Ray Agora Staff
With the retirement of Tim Dillon, the fate of the Writing Center has been in the air. MCCC’s Writing Center is free and open to all students. It provides support at every stage of the writing process, with the goal of creating better writers, not just better papers. Dillon built MCCC’s Writing Center from the ground up; its absence would hit the college hard. Luckily, for the many students who visit and depend on the Writing Center, Dillon’s legacy will live on. English professor Lori Jo Couch will be taking the reins at the beginning of the Winter 2017 semester. “I’m looking forward to working with both the writing fellows and students,” Couch said. She wants to assure students that she plans on running the Writing Center in a similar manner as Dillon. “The Writing Center has run well for many years,” Couch said. “We’re really very grateful to Tim Dillon.” Writing fellows are looking forward to working with Couch. “I’ve worked with her for the fellowed classes, and she’s really great,” Emma
Photo by Vanessa Ray
Couch is the new writing center director
Muth, a junior writing fellow, said. “Tim would only choose someone who was competent,” Muth said. “I’m excited to see what she’s going to do.” Senior writing fellow Emily Cornell agrees. “I believe Tim wouldn’t allow the program to be handed down to her if he didn’t trust her capability,” Cornell said. As of now, Couch is not sure what the future holds for her and the writing center. “The administration and I will make a decision as to whether or not I will continue in the fall,” Couch said.
Photo by Vanessa Ray
Kellyann Navarre and Ansely Mills have a writing tutoring session in the writing center.
However, she is not worrying about that right now.
“It’s truly a joy to work with the writing fellows and a pleasure to help students,”
Couch said. “I hope that both the students and faculty will continue to support me.”
4| mcccagora.com •
December 1, 2016
MCCC student lands internship at Disney Joseph Abrams Agora Staff
When Chase Sieler was just a child, he had a drawing book. In this book were step-by-step instructions to drawing, but Chase instead took tracing paper and just copied the pictures from the book directly. “I would trace all these drawings and bring them into school the next day and tell everybody ‘hey look what I drew; look at this look at that.’ And they all thought it was the best thing ever. Of course, I did too because it was traced right out of the book,” he said. “Well, one day I vividly remember we have an indoor recess because it was raining outside, and some kid asks me, ‘draw for us while you’re in indoor recess,’ and I didn’t have my book, and I couldn’t trace in front of him, so I had to whip up something.” Ever since, Chase has been drawing, and his passion for art, along with a similar passion for all things Disney, led him to getting to work at the company. Chase, an MCCC student, is participating in the Disney College internship program, where he’ll be working in the quick service food and beverage next year. Though it may not be the Disney job he wants, he said that it’s a stepping stone in his dreams of being an animator at Disney. “It’s kind of a way to get your foot in the door,” he said. “I wanna do art and design and character design at Disney. Doing that’s like an easier way than just showing up at their doorstep and saying ‘hey I wanna draw something for you’,” he said. The paid internship in Florida involved going through a three-tier interviewing process where Disney decides whether you should be accepted, and what you should do. First is an application, then a questionnaire, and finally a phone-interview. Many different jobs are available, such as working at restaurants, driving boats or monorails, working as one of the characters or princesses, being a professional face painter, and even being a lifeguard. People from all over the world apply, and Chase has made himself a group of friends online who are planning to join this trip. Chase, a lifelong fan of Disney, said he’s excited for this opportunity. He’s been visiting the parks ever since he was a child with his family. “We used to go every year with my grandparents, and one year, this was before cellphones or anything, my grandma and grandpa took me and my grandpa and I got lost on the train and we were stuck for five hours, because you can’t find anyone in Disney World, there’s hundreds of thousands of people there,” Chase said.
Photo by Vanessa Ray and artwork by Chase Sieler
Chase designs characters and draws pictures with a style that resembles the art of Disney. This picture is a caricature of his grandmothers as a pair of witches.
Others have noticed his Disney enthusiasm as well. Miyuki Zerke has known Chase since middle school. “He wears Mickey hats and shoes that match,” she said. Disney has strongly influenced his art, and he draws both characters directly from Disney and ones inspired by the artstyle. He said that Mark Davis is one of his inspirations as an artist. “There’s a lot of times I’ll look over and he’ll be drawing Ursula or some other Disney character,” said Ally Jacobs, who sits next to him in class. “I’ve never seen someone draw like him; he’s really detailed.” Chase’s art is reminiscent of Davis’ work, along with caricatures of people in his life like his grandmothers. His grandma was another person who inspired Chase. “Of course my grandma, she’s not an
artist, but she’s always one of those people that if you’re gonna do something you got to put your whole self into it and go and do it. She’s not one of those people who sit back and keep her mouth shut, she’s a little rowdy thing,” he said. Putting your whole self into something is advice Chase is taking to heart as he plans for the future. He is currently enrolled at MCCC and taking general prerequisite classes because he’s not quite sure what he wants to do. On the one hand, he’s planning to go into nursing, while on the other he has dreams of becoming a character designer at Disney. This internship at Disney is a turning point, and what he chooses here may affect what he does for the rest of his life. “This is going to be a deciding factor if I wanna stay in Florida and try to
work for Disney parks, or do I not like it as much as I thought I would and do I wanna come home and do the nursing program here,” he said. Right now, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the air, and Chase said he isn’t sure which path is the right one to take. While his dream is character design, it’s a difficult and expensive dream to achieve. Meanwhile, nursing is safer and cheaper. “Hopefully, I’ll decide if I wanna go for nursing, or I wanna take out my life in student loans and go for art,” he said. If he could achieve his dream, he said he’d be fine with spending the money, it’s just the uncertainty that makes him hesitant. “I’d much rather spend $100,000 or $200,000 on school getting a job in something I love than being debt free and doing something I hate,” Chase said. However, he is not without people who
believe that he can succeed. Tom Hines, an adjunct professor of speech, said Chase absolutely should follow his dreams, and that it’s important that he’s giving his dreams a shot. Hines said Chase knows what he wants to do, and that’s not a common thing to find. He also has a drive that propels him. Though the future is never assured, Hines said that he believes that Chase will succeed. Though it may be difficult, Chase has something that sets him apart. “Chase has an advantage, you can see his passion,” he said. Melissa Houck, a friend of Chase’s, is confident that Chase will not only succeed but become famous one day. “I am excited to say I knew him when, because he is going to go on to great things.”
Faculty, administration come to contract agreement Leah Thomas Editor
The Monroe County Community College Board of Trustees and the Faculty Association approved a faculty contract after about nine months of negotiating. The board unanimously approved the Master Agreement between the Community College District of Monroe County and the Faculty Association at their special meeting on Oct. 31 The Faculty Association ratified the Master Agreement on Nov. 2. The contract covers the 62 full-time faculty positions at the college. It runs through August 26, 2019. Faculty will get a one percent increase on the salary schedule in the first year of the three-year contract and a 1.5 percent increase in the second and third years.
“Once that is done, we move forward. We get along splendidly when we are not negotiating.” Kojo Quartey President of MCCC Faculty will also receive an upgraded vision insurance plan coverage and a reopening of the agreement in spring 2017 regarding medical insurance benefits.
Boxes are conveniently located in various places on campus, but donations can also be dropped off at Z-245 with Tom Ryder by Dec 3.
Free rummage sale set Grant given to college MCCC’s International Studies Club is holding a Free Rummage Sale Thursday, Dec. 1. The sale will be in the A Building Dining Room from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Anyone can take any item they want and choose to keep it for free or make a donation. The club also has a fund-raiser at Monroe’s Buffalo Wild Wings on Wednesday, Dec. 7. Twenty percent of your dining bill will be donated to the club.
MCCC will be sharing a $6 million America’s Promise Grant with 10 community colleges in Southeast Michigan. The money will be used to train students in computer-controlled machine cutting and robotics. MCCC’s Applice Science and Engineering Technology Division was one of ten colleges awarded through a collaboration with the Southeast Michigan Community Alliance and the Workforce Intelligence Network.
Food donation drive
MCCC is now certified to provide programming, setup, and operation training for milling/turning machines with a FANUC-America Certified Education CNC (computer numerical control) training facility. The training offers students industryrecognized credentials towards manufacturing technology programs. Graduating students will be qualified
Support Oaks of Righteousness this holiday season by donating non-perishable food items. MCCC Student Government and the Community Service Club are hosting this canned food drive. Please bring foods like dried boxed foods, ramen, canned goods, etc.
FANUC training begins
MCCC President Kojo Quartey said he believes the contract is fair. Quartey said he is relieved the contract is settled.
to work in manufacturing with FANUC CNC equipment. “As a result of being a FANUC Certified Education CNC school, MCCC offering a CNC program answers the demand from the manufacturing industry for skilled FANUC CNC operators and programmers,” said Bob Leonard, assistant professor of product and process technology at MCCC. Initially, students will be taught CNC programming using FANUC’s NCGuide simulation software on PC or FANUC’s CNC education simulators for extensive hands-on experience. Students will then be exposed to machines incorporating FANUC CNC controls to experience the complete programming, setup, and operational workflow.
Sock-Tober results in
MCCC Student Government gives many thanks to all the generous contributors that donated to the “Sock-Tober” sock drive. Donations collected exceeded 250 pairs of men’s, women’s, and children’s socks that will be donated to the homeless and needy.
“No one likes tension and the tension did not help our millage efforts,” Quartey said. He says tension between the faculty and administration is necessary during negotiations because it results in compromise and settlement. “Once that is done, we move forward,” Quartey said. “We get along splendidly when we are not negotiating.” He said the ratified agreement recognizes the administration and faculty’s work to responsibly deal with challenging economic times. “We are all working together for the benefit of our students,” Quartey said. Since the contract is settled, students can enjoy a more peaceful atmosphere at the college. Students are also relieved that the nego-
tiations are finally over. “I’m happy the teachers got more benefits and the contract passed, because they’re a major part of my positive college experience, and they deserve the best,” Kellyann Navarre said. Students may not have known exactly what was going on, but they noticed that something was amiss. “I noticed a lot of teachers wearing tshirts and protesting outside, but they never pushed it or mentioned anything during classes,” Alex Potratz said.. Though after hearing the results of the faculty negotiations, some students expressed relief at the way the contracts ended up. “I supported them, they deserve the contract, and they’re great teachers,” Emily Cornell said.
December 1, 2016
mcccagora.com • The Agora
Jared Stemeye wins Poetry Night contest Jared Stemeye’s “A Billion Eyes” is the winning poem from Poetry Night, which was held Oct. 27 in the Little Theater. Poetry Night, which is sponsored by the Writing Fellows, encourages students to read their original poetry or poems by others. The contest is only for original poetry.
A Billion Eyes
In the wave of an endless sea of illusion I dream, and I dream So that I can see An ever so common fusion Of Particles to make mass intact and stable. It forms this reality A scene within a dream From the motion of my lips As they dip and swing For these sounds that I make Flutter into space And bring a constant of the new understanding. To rationalize the infinite Put sand in a cup Stir it up Pick a grain Hold a plane of existence For what remains is the same thing. A possibility of cohesion A construction of no reason
E-Transcript College switches to digital transcripts Emily Cornett Agora Staff
Architecture and Design | Arts and Sciences | Engineering | Management
MCCC’s transcript requests have taken a different form. Over the past semester, MCCC has updated the transcript request system. Rather than requesting an official transcript in person, students are now asked to request official transcripts online via Parchment. Parchment is a website that collects students credentials throughout their academic careers. Accessing the new system is straightforward. The transcript request link can be found on WebPAL under “Academic Profile” and then clicking “Transcript Request”. The request link can also be found on the bottom of MCCC’s home page under “Transcripts.” On that page there is a link in a red box reading “Transcript Request Order an official transcript.” Mara Shaw, an MCCC student, found the online system convenient and simpler. “I don’t have to make time to stop by the office and submit a request,” she said. The one thing Shaw did not like about the update is the lack of communication aboaut the change.
Yet it is the reason Colisions that ensue For the use of this tool is how I have soul’s proof. All is one and none is all Now what we need to do Is close our eyes and realize There is no you or me. Just a never ending life with a billion eyes And it’s watching while we try. Now while you try to feed a lie By striving to define objects In your mind’s eye
Accuplacer replaces Compass test Joseph Abrams Agora Staff
Starting Nov. 30, MCCC no longer uses the Compass placement test and instead uses the Accuplacer test. Students who need to take a placement test to be assigned to classes will now take the new test, which is based on the SAT exam, as opposed to the old one, which was based on the ACT. Mark Hall, director of admissions, said that while there are many reasons to change tests, the biggest one was that they simply had no choice. “Placement testing for the area we’re using it for is very limited, the options are limited,” he said. “Basically, there have been two players for years, Compass and Accuplacer, and as of Nov. 30th of this year Compass will no longer exist. So we didn’t really have a lot of choice.” While college will be using the Accuplacer test, Hall said MCCC will continue to accept any combination of scores across any placement tests. “We will continue to accept here ACT scores, SAT scores, Compass scores, and Accuplacer scores,” he said. “Or any combination thereof that meets our stan-
“Placement testing for the area we’re using it for is very limited, the options are limited. Basically, there have been two players for years Compass and Accuplacer, and as of November 30th of this year Compass will no longer exist, so we didn’t really have a lot of choice.” Mark Hall MCCC Director of Admissions dards.” Some colleges use Compass and some have used Accuplacer for a while now, Hall said, but now most of the colleges have switched to using just the Accuplacer. The biggest difference between the two tests is the number of questions, Hall said. “Accuplacer has a definite number of
questions for each section,” Hall said. “Compass, if you missed a couple, would move you to a different test or terminate the test.” Cora Talkington, a student who has taken both Accuplacer and the Compass tests, said that the Compass test was more in-depth and gave more examples while asking questions, but the Accuplacer test was much quicker. She said there were not as many questions, and that the test went by much quicker. However, she scored better in math on the Accuplacer. “I like the Accuplacer because it was easier,” Talkington said. She is not alone in this development, as it seems that math scores are the ones that have changed the most between tests. Robert Krueger, principle of the middle college, said he has given the test to students and noticed a difference in some of the scores. “We noticed the math scores have been higher on the Accuplacer,” he said. As for how the college will determine what scores will get students into certain classes, Hall said the deans of each department will decide based on data collected by other colleges that use this test.
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Possible is everything.
I sit back and let. the world flex Contort and consume Every inch of it. Yet there is still so much room for Interpretation and you thought there was none No instigation on my part But there are many sons and stars. Reaching out beyond Any earthly plane Including verse lines from man’s mind Any page. There’s so many ways We could make some progress. Though everyday it seems that we forget We’re just a fragment Of a whole. I may sound bold But I know that I’m not alone, no. See people like me Don’t seek perplexities Try to link, or sync our minds. We just live and breathe Because we know subconsciously We need to let it be A never ending life With a billion eyes and it’s watching while we try. - Jared Stemeye
registered for graduate school at commencement
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“They used reference points from other community colleges, and we will go back and analyze, after we’ve done it for a while, to see how our scores are comparing to performance in classes, and they might go up or down.” Though the test being used by MCCC is not the most current edition, Hall said the college is waiting until other colleges use the new version of the test before using it themselves. That way they can use the information the other colleges have gathered to improve MCCC’s tests. “Accuplacer is coming out with a new version of the Accuplacer,” he said. “We’re gonna stick with the old one for a while until we get some baseline data. “The new test is supposed to be more in line to giving it to millennials.” Hall said if students want to prepare for the test, there is a study app available. While the Accuplacer test may be uncharted territory for MCCC, the test is not new, and there is national research backing it. “We’re cautiously optimistic,” Hall said. “We’ll continue to evaluate it as we go along.”
6| mcccagora.com •
December 1, 2016
Food, fun to be found in downtown Monroe Miranda Gardner
“What a joy it is to eat something out of your backyard, and this community college is in my backyard.”
Jacqueline Corser said this is the prime of her life. MCCC Alumnus of the Year, adjunct professor for restaurant management, and co-owner of the Public House, are among the many hats Corser wears. “That’s such an honor and this all happened in a year — this is the best time of my life — one of the best years of my life,” she said. Corser was surprised at the MCCC graduation last spring with the Alumnus of the Year title. Although unaware of having to speak, she said the words to inspire the crowd came easy. “When I was chosen, it was such an honor and I didn’t realize I had to speak at graduation, and to speak in front of 600 people; you’re in the moment,” Corser said. “I wanted to encourage other people to come here; it’s in your backyard, “she said. “Why would you choose to go anywhere else?” Corser was an adult learner at MCCC who pushed herself through the four-year program with Sienna Heights to graduate in 2014 with a Bachelor’s in Applied Science. She now teaches in the Culinary program at MCCC. “I motivated, inspired, and pushed myself in the culinary program to getting my bachelor’s, and master’s, to make myself more prepared,” Corser said. “As an adult learner, you can’t stop learning.” Corser was encouraged by her mentors and peers who provided the stepping
“You have to realize your potential, whether it be a community ed course, the culinary program, nursing, or mechanics,” Jacqueline Corser Owner of Public House and MCCC alumnus. stones of her education that strengthened her love and support for MCCC. “The counselors are so informative and open to helping you find a direction,” she said. “You have a president of this college who talks to everyone, and you can make an appointment with him and talk to him.” Corser said that both the president of MCCC, Kojo Quartey, and the college it-
Jacqueline Corser Owner of Public House
Photo by Miranda Gardner
Jacqueline Corser, MCCC graduate and alumnus of the year, stands at the front of her restaurant, Public House, in Monroe. Miranda Gardner Agora Staff
Living out of county, traveling further than 45 minutes to school, leaves me with the question, “What’s there to do in Monroe?” I asked that question to residents attending MCCC. Student Brady Spitulski and Administrative Assistant Denise Howe said eat at the Public House. The Public House was started by MCCC alumnus and Restaurant Management adjunct, Jacqueline Corser, along with her husband and another gentleman, Howe said. “She was a culinary student here, then got her bachelors at Sienna Heights through their business program,” she said. The Public House is like eating at an upscale restaurant with gourmet menu items, but the feeling of a Mom & Pop, Howe said. “Kind of like not your everyday food,” she said. “Different items like chicken n’ waffles, grilled chicken sandwich with avocado, omelets with cherries or pulled self, are down to earth. “They want you to be successful and the more you become involved the more you get,” Corser said. “The possibilities are endless.”
pork hash omelets, steel-cut oatmeal with walnuts and cranberries; just things you don’t see at other places.” “The food is really good there,” Spitulski said. “They use a lot of local ingredients.” Sodt Elementary teacher Tricia McCloskey is Spitulski’s mother. He said his mom did a fourth-grade school project on environmentally safe food containers, and worked with the Public House. “So now they use these biodegradable to-go containers,” Spitulski said. “They do seasonal menu items, every week there’s different desserts, and they’re pretty accommodating.” The Public House is located at 138 North Monroe Street, and offers rewards like a free dessert on Public House’s anniversary for members enrolled in the e-club French adjunct professor Brenda Kraus and student Amanda Roelant both agree that Independent Dairy is the place to go for ice cream. “They make their own ice cream and
Ryleigh works there too,” Roelant said. Ryleigh Byrne said the shop does seasonal flavors and is currently featuring pumpkin for fall. “We have 48 flavors, I counted, and the store has been here over 180 years,” she said. “Everyone usually gets superman or butter pecan.” Kraus likes Independent Dairy for the portions, sizing with her hands the definition of a “small.” “Oh my gosh, a small cone is like this big,” Kraus said motioning what looked like a large. “I like to go there because I can’t finish the small.” Roelant said to visit downtown to walk along the Riverwalk to Agua Dulce café with Susie’s Sweets & Eats down the street for popcorn and vintage soda pops sold in tall glass bottles. Every single month there is an event called First Fridays Downtown, where a collection of businesses take part and bring the community together. “They have events with live music and vendor discounts with entertainment like Zombiefest,” Byrne said. “Facebook it for upcoming events.”
“They’ll give you all the foundations, they’ll encourage you, but the motivation comes from yourself,” she said. “It’s always been my dream to go to culinary school,” Corser said. “I want to
educate, I want to be an educator, and that was always my whole goal of going to culinary school because I loved food so much that I wanted to teach culinary.” Corser started her master’s in 2015 and
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expects to be done by 2017, and is already considering possibilities for the future. “Career and tech education at Wayne State University, then possibly a Ph.D. in education,” she said. “There’s no time to waste, once you stop it’s almost as if your brain tells you when you’re in that education mode you can continue, but once you have a break, it’s hard to continue and go through again,” Corser said. “You can never stop learning and as an adult learner — when you end that — it’s a disservice to yourself,” she said. During her time at MCCC, the Public House was a visionary dream that started the building blocks that house Corser’s hometown support and love for the community. “While I was at the program, it was a Big Boy, and after our contract was up we decided to extend our dream,” she said. “I’m very interested in farming and agriculture; that’s where it’s at and that’s my passion,” Corser said. “Locally sourced foods, that’s a perfect response to the community.” “What a joy it is to eat something out of your backyard, and this community college is in my backyard,” she said. Corser operates the Public House with three other business partners — “My husband, myself, George Darany, and his wife, Maria,” she said. “We try to service everyone, family, singles, senior citizens. We want everyone to come and feel comfortable,” she said. “It’s not a club, not a bar, it’s our home.” As an adult learner, Corser wants to encourage others to share in the educational experience she had at MCCC. “We want to reach out to the high schools and get more kids to the middle college, but we need to reach out to the adults who live in our community and say, ‘It’s ok if you come to school, no one’s going to care if you’re 40, or 50, or 60, or 80,’” she said. “You have to realize your potential, whether it be a community ed course, the culinary program, nursing, or mechanics,” Corser said.
December 1, 2016
mcccagora.com • The Agora
Tips, tricks for winter driving Leigh W Cole Agora Staff
Does this sound blunt? It should be, the following advice is from a former over-the-road truck driver who may just keep you alive this winter. By following the simple rule — speed and distance — you could save someone’s life, maybe even your own. There is no such thing as an accident, it’s called a crash because someone is at fault. Speed and distance. Say it again, speed and distance. Slow down, drive according to conditions, and keep at least one car length in front of you for every 10 miles-per-hour increment, and at least one car length or more in icy conditions. The violation of this simple rule is probably the biggest reason for car crashes. Slow down, giving yourself time to stop and avoid the cars in front of you, in case they stop suddenly. Vehicle pre-checks before driving also are important to get you where you are going safely. These should be done every time you are about to travel. During the winter, you will have to get out and clean your windshield often, so while you are at it, give the entire vehicle a good visual inspection. Clean the snow off the lights and make sure all the lights are functioning, check your tires, preferably four snow tires, and visually inspect the car for overall damage. Always have at least a half tank of fuel and keep an emergency kit inside. Things like an extra coat, a blanket, ice scraper, snow shovel, and salt are helpful items to have in case of an emergency. To prevent fish-tailing in pickup trucks, add bags of salt or sand over the rear axle to weigh the bed down. Always drive with your headlights on in winter conditions (snowing, sleeting, hailing, or raining), especially if you have the wiper blades going, because it’s Michigan law. Avoid cruise control in freezing or inclement weather because you are not fully in control of your vehicle, and the abrupt stops could cause sliding or worse. Understand that bridges and overpasses freeze before the rest of the roads. Drive with caution and be aware of black ice. Know how to brake on slippery surfac-
Art by Leigh Cole
es. Most vehicles have Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS), if the model was built after the 1980s. It is important to understand how to use the braking system your vehicle has, but don’t be fooled; you cannot stop any faster on ice with or without ABS. Four-wheel drive does not make you invincible and will not stop you from skidding. Driving on icy roads, you should always obey rule number one — speed and distance. Don’t try to pass snow and salt trucks — the drivers have limited visibility and
the road in front of them may be worse than what is behind them. Be especially careful around semitrucks. Do not drive too close behind them because those semis can go over road debris, and being too close behind one impairs your vision of the oncoming road. A semi can clear a large chunk of ice or a blown tire, but your car cannot, and this may damage your vehicle or cause you to crash. Semi-trucks in dry weather take at least three football fields to stop completely at
55 mph. In inclement weather conditions, it takes even longer for that semi to stop. Semi-trucks can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while most cars weigh less than 3,000 lbs. In the case of a collision, your car will not fare well against a semi. This emphasizes the importance to be courteous to semi-truck drivers and their brake time by not cutting them off at exits or braking suddenly in front of them. If the weather is really bad and you feel unsafe — don’t drive. Wait for the snow trucks to come out and for the weather to
clear up. Do not drive beyond your comfort zone. Buckle up, it is the law, and could save your life in the case of a crash. Finally, stay off the phone. Seriously, you need to concentrate on driving and not on communicating. Whatever it is, it can wait until you are safely at your destination, and if it is that important—pull over. By following these simple rules, the life you save may be your own. Speed and distance.
World needs more love, understanding Joseph Abrams Agora Staff
This year has revealed a whole lot of ugly left in the world. With the divisive election, terrorist attacks across Europe, and shootings and crime here in America, anger and hatred run rampant in the world. This year has brought to light many things people simply close their eyes to and pretend do not exist. I was one of those people. I liked to believe that this world was finished with these things that divide us, and that we finally were making progress toward being a place where no one felt threatened, or hurt, or scared by the people around them.
It’s an ideal that has been proven false over the year, as people now seem angrier than ever. Democrats attacking Republicans over the new president, and Republicans mocking Democrats over losing. People attacking not only each other’s ideas, but the people who have them as well. People are divided and spitting hatred at each other, and hatred never solves anything. All hatred does is gouge the land, digging into the chasm between people and making it even deeper. Hate begets hate. A person is attacked for their beliefs by the other side, which makes them grow to hate that side, which leads them to attack others as well. The hatred spreads and grows like a virus, infecting everyone around it.
So now, more than ever, I think a little bit of love and optimism is needed in the world. It is easy to give into hate, and honestly it feels pretty good. That mentality that what a person believes is right, and that everyone else who disagrees is wrong, ignorant, or just stupid is such an easy trap to fall into. That feeling of “us against them” is intoxicating, and it makes it easy for people to shut their eyes and close their ears to the world around them, and to simply pay attention to the narrow view of the world that has been built around them. It is now easier than ever, because of the internet, for people to live in their own worlds as though it is the only world, and that what they see is what is happening in
the world. It is so easy to live inside an echo chamber that only reinforces what a person believes, and shuts out anything that may conflict with that world view. One needs to look no further than the aftermath of this election to see this in action. Both sides believe totally different sides of the same story, both saw the same events through their own worldviews, and both are at each other throats over what they believe are the important issues. There is a fundamental disconnect in the world between people, and it is one that leads to anger and hate. That is why love and understanding are so vital in this world these days, as the
deeper these divides grow, the more damaging they become. We are all people, members of the same human race. We are not what we believe; what we believe is only a part of who we are. Causes should be supported with peaceful protests, and not violence or riots. I am not saying to tolerate hate or bigotry, but fighting hate with hate only brings out more hate. As Ghandi said, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” As we go home for December this year to do what we do before the next semester, we should take some time to reflect on this year. I hope we can all look forward to a better, kinder 2017.
Stop calling all news organizations “the media” Dan Shaw
There has been a lot of talk in journalism circles recently about “the media.” Paul Farhi, a Washington Post reporter, wrote a letter to readers asking that people quit referring to all journalists as “the media.” We’re not a monolithic entity. No single reporter or news outlet, not the New York Times or Fox News, the Monroe News or Channel 7, speaks for all of journalism. “Instead,” Farhi says, “we are tens of thousands of people making millions of individual decisions about how we perceive the world and how to characterize it. We all don’t agree on how to frame a candidate, an issue or last night’s ballgame.” It’s not just that there are dozens of TV networks, thousands of newspapers and millions of bloggers. It’s that even within each news outlet, there are many voices, often arguing over how the news should be presented. During my newspaper editor days, I had a friend who would send emails denigrating “the media,” calling it cruel and harsh names. She didn’t seem to realize that I was part of the media. I don’t think she would have been so rude as to call me those names to my face. But that’s how I perceived it. I can’t help but think of The Agora, the college newspaper I advise, when I hear these singular characterizations of “the media.” Is The Agora part of “the media?” It
Creative Commons image by Daniel Iverson
“The media” in America today includes a dizzying variety of news sources, many not connected with traditional news outlets.
publishes a newspaper and maintains a news website. But which part of the media? Should I lump it in with Fox News or The New York Times, with the Drudge Report or the Huffington Post. One of the best points Farhi makes is that most of the work done by journalists in America probably goes under the radar of people who criticize “the media,” ranking it just above Vladimir Putin for trustworthiness. When people read a story about a fam-
ily rescued from a flood, or a woman reunited with her twin sister, I imagine they’re not thinking about “the media” and questioning the accuracy. When a TV reporter tells them to take cover because a tornado is coming, or a food columnist offers a good recipe, they’re probably safe from being labeled. Don’t think of this as a plea to quit criticizing journalism. Holding your local, regional, state and national newspapers, magazines, broadcast stations and web-
sites accountable for accurate, fair and balanced news coverage is an essential part of our democratic society. During my years as a newspaper editor, I never turned down a letter to the editor, unless it was libelous or full of profanities. I welcomed criticism – it’s how we get better. Go ahead and criticize, but don’t lump all news organizations into one huge, boiling pot of stew — “the media.” Please say what you mean.
“I don’t think that Washington Post writer was fair in the way she characterized Donald Trump’s foundation.” Or, “that Detroit TV reporter didn’t give both sides in his report on the Flint water crisis.” That kind of criticism is useful. Individual media outlets deserve close scrutiny for their coverage of the presidential campaign. That will be debated for years — as it should be. But “the media” didn’t elect Donald Trump or defeat Hillary Clinton. An irony in all of this is that the Associated Press Stylebook, the guide for word usage in most newsrooms, just this year changed its entry for “media,” allowing the singular use. Previously, media was considered a plural noun, a collective term describing all the various media. “The media are covering the campaign vigorously.” Because the singular use of “the media” to refer to all news outlets as a single group has come into common usage, the AP Stylebook approved its use when referring to “the media” as a monolithic group. Okay, I get it. It’s convenient to lump all journalists together in some contexts, using “the media” to refer to the group. As in, “After graduating, she wants to find a job in the media.” But when leveling criticism, I join Farhi in his plea. Please be specific. “The media” isn’t a giant amoeba, with one brain controlling 10 million cells.
8| mcccagora.com •
Arts & Entertainment
December 1, 2016
Doctor Strange mystifies audiences By Sawyer Jackson For The Agora
“It isn’t about you,” is a line The Ancient One imparts onto Stephen Strange at a critical point in the film, “Doctor Strange.” Most superhero origins are built on this guideline. An ordinary individual with not much stake in the grand scheme of things is granted special abilities, most of the time by accident. It’s only after obtaining this great power does this person finally see the world beyond themselves and dedicates their life to fighting injustice and safeguarding innocents above all else. “Doctor Strange” recognizes this principle and seeks to find the spiritual and metaphysical layers embedded within. The result is a surprisingly thematically deep film about accepting failure, death, time, and the lack of control in an uncontrollable universe. Plus, it showcases the most inventive set-pieces and visual eye-candy ever conceived in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a brilliant but deeply arrogant neurosurgeon. After a car accident destroys the use of his hands, he spends his entire fortune desperately trying to heal his hands and reclaim his career. When Western medicine fails him, he ends up at the Kamar-Taj in Nepal where he is introduced to the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), a Sorcerer Supreme who teaches Strange how to master the mystic arts, which includes travelling to alternate realities, drawing energy from parallel dimensions, and casting incantations. As Strange trains under the Ancient One’s tutelage, he also learns of the purpose of sorcerers’, the powerful Eye of Agamotto, and a man named Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a former student who has been tempted by the power from the Dark Dimension and seeks to help its ruler (whose identity I won’t spoil) absorb our reality. Strange must decide whether to return to his life of fortune and glory or use his newfound abilities to defend the universe. I have read many reviews that called Stephen Strange a Tony Stark-archetype. If you were to look only at the superficial similarities between the two, then that would be the case. They are both egotistical, highly successful white men with goatees who are swiftly knocked down a peg and learn humility and how to use their gifts for the greater good. However, the near-death experiences that push both these men into seeing the error of their ways is where the two start to diverge. Tony Stark’s superpower is his mind. The Iron Man armor is simply an extension of that power. As seen in “Iron Man 3,” even when stripped of his allies and gadgets, Tony uses his ingenuity and intelligence to solve his problems. However, his survivor’s guilt often pushes him into creating a problem while
trying to solve another. He is a character caught in an endless shame spiral because of his desire to always try to make things right, even if it’s at the expense of others. Stephen Strange, on the other hand, is completely lost and alone after his car accident. Even Tony still had his fortune, gadgets, and celebrity status at the end of every “Iron Man” and “Avengers” film. Whereas Tony builds upon himself, Stephen has to open up his mind and forget everything he thought he knew. Even in doing that, he still retains his intelligence. This is where Cumberbatch especially shines in the role. He understands this is a man who takes knowledge seriously and once his mind his opened up to the multiverse, his desire to learn only intensifies. Doctor Strange is a rare superhero in an ever-expanding landscape of superheroes on the big-screen, in that he would rather use his powers in an intelligent manner to resolve a situation than resort to violence. Strange’s character arc is one of the best
in the entire MCU. As a neurosurgeon, he exerts control not just over his colleagues, but over the fates of his patients. His skills may have saved the lives of many people, but he doesn’t perform these feats altruistically. He prides himself on controlling fate and stopping death itself. His greatest fear is failure, which is why he is unable to cope with the destruction of his hands. He initially sees this physical world as all that will ever be. Early in the film, he laments humanity’s existence as a “tiny, momentary speck within an indifferent universe.” He feels almost atheistic in his worldview. This is not to say the film condemns those who don’t follow a religion. Strange is always a man of reason, but slowly understands there are forces in and beyond the universe that can’t be controlled or explained. Co-writer/director Scott Derrickson is an openly religious person, and that view-
point has serviced several of his previous films (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister, and Deliver Us From Evil”), so it’s no surprise that he injects a dose of spirituality into a film whose source material leaned heavily into the supernatural. On analyzing Doctor Strange, I find that Derrickson was the best choice to helm this film. Not just because of his visual eye (the ways in which he has his actors block in certain scenes conveys good visual storytelling), but because his personal views on time, death, and the metaphysical. The Dark Dimension is a place that exists outside of time and space. It’s a universe where death is non-existent. Kaecilius is a man who lost his entire family before becoming a sorcerer, and he sees death and time as insults, which is why he seeks to have the Dark Dimension absorb this reality. While I can’t go to further in depth without getting into spoilers, I do find it interesting that there are several characters who know that there is a plane of existence beyond ours where the astral form goes after the physical form dies, yet are still afraid of death. Part of Strange’s journey is realizing that no matter how many outcomes are prevented, death remains as the one inevitablility. The line, “It isn’t about you,” isn’t just a jab at Strange’s ego. It allows him to see how important everyone and everything is in the world. The universe wastes nothing, and recognizing time as an ally as opposed to an enemy ultimately helps Strange realize how everything is sacred. Again, without giving too much away, not only does the film subvert Marvel’s third act climax trope like “Captain America: Civil War” before it, the third act is a culmination of Strange’s arc; showing just how far he’s willing to go to protect his world without resorting to violence. None of this depth means the film is without fault. As much as Kaecilius is thematically important to Strange’s acceptance of death and failure, he’s not as interesting as a character as he is an idea. Right after it seemed Marvel finally overcame its villain problem in Zemo from “Civil War,” it is right back at one-dimensional bad guys who want to destroy the world. Rachael McAdams’ character seems to only function as a tie to Strange’s previous life and only appears when it is convenient for the plot. It’s a thankless role and McAdams does her best. The only hope now is that Derrickson and co-writer C. Robert Cargil acknowledge this misgiving going forward and seek to rectify it in the future. Also, several characters Strange creates bonds with, Wong (Benedict Wong) and especially Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), don’t quite work on the emotional level the filmmakers intended. Wong’s role is updated for the 21st century. Instead of being Doctor Strange’s
Asian man-servant, he’s now a librarian of mystical books and an ally to Strange. While I salute the film for abandoning an offensive stereotype from the 60’s (the Ancient One’s whitewashing deserves its own article), there isn’t enough of him in the film. As for Mordo, though his rigid belief system is an interesting counterpart to Strange’s more flexible one, the comradery between the two feels like it is only scratching the surface. The film also has Mordo undergoing a crisis of faith in the latter half, but it just ends up being an interesting concept that is never given the full attention it deserves. Though we certainly haven’t seen the last of him, it’s a shame we have to count on future installments to flesh out Mordo properly. However, whatever faults lie in the story or characters, one element of the film that absolutely works is the visuals. You may have already seen the trailers that feature buildings twisting and folding into each other, a la “Inception.” Those are just the tip of the iceberg. I never thought Doctor Strange creator Steve Ditko’s psychedelic artwork would translate well into film, but the filmmakers pulled it off spectacularly. There is one sequence in the first act where Strange is sent on a trip through the multiverse that begs to be seen in 3D. In fact, this is the first Marvel production I would recommend viewing in that format. It enhances all the mind-bending, trippy, kaleidoscopic visuals the film has to offer. Lastly, Marvel Studios has garnered much-deserved criticism for safe, generic, and unmemorable musical scores. (For example, “Guardians of the Galaxy” may have a great soundtrack, but its score is forgettable). Fortunately, they found a great composer in Michael Giacchino, who delivers a solid score that sounds like progressive rock in the vein of Pink Floyd with a dash of Eastern influence. It’s definitely the most inventive musical composition in a Marvel film to date, and I can’t wait to hear what Giacchino has cooked up for “Spider-Man: Homecoming” in July. It may have taken Marvel Studios a decade to get “Doctor Strange” in theaters, but it could not have come at a better time. With the superhero genre at its peak in popularity, there is more desire to have each film stand out from the crowd. While it doesn’t upend the genre or completely reinvent it going forward, “Doctor Strange” stands on its own and weaves a spiritual tale about finding strength within suffering, understanding death makes life meaningful, and giving oneself over to a high purpose in the world. Life may be temporary, but its fragility and preciousness makes it all the more magical. Final Rating: 7 out of 10
Arrival speaks of the dangers of fear By Sawyer Jackson For the Agora
Walking out of “Arrival,” one of the many thoughts running through my head was that it felt like a spiritual successor to Robert Wise’s 1951 film, “The Day The Earth Stood Still.” The films are similar in that they are both stories of first contact and focus squarely on the dramatic angle of science fiction rather than an action one (A mistake that the 2008 remake made, but I digress). Those willing to get on board with “Arrival,” a methodically paced sci-fi drama, will be rewarded with a timely, intelligent story on empathy, xenophobia, the fear of the unknown, and most importantly, communication and how through understanding each other can we truly enrich our lives and make the world a better place. When a dozen extraterrestrial spacecrafts landed at different locations around the world, the U.S. military recruits a renowned linguist, Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and a theoretical physicist, Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), to find a way to communicate with the aliens, dubbed Heptapods, and discover their ultimate purpose for landing on Earth. That is the bare bones plot synopsis. For this film, it’s best to not know much going in because many of the film’s surprises are more rewarding for it. There is one revelation that happens in the third act that I wish I could talk about, but for now, all I will say is that this is a film where the ending completely re-contextualizes everything you saw before. With that aside, I’ve noticed that “Arrival” is part of a recent resurgence of thinking science fiction in film. Films like “Gravity,” “Interstellar,” and “The Martian” are all stories where characters have to use their intelligence and ingenuity in order to solve their problems. Where “Arrival” separates itself from those films is the heart of its story: Communication. While nations and armies around the world ready themselves for violent conflict, the main characters work tirelessly with other professionals in their fields to decipher the aliens’ language.
Fear and hatred are worthless causes that ultimately result in catastrophe. It’s only through the drive to understand and the ability to empathize can a conflict be resolved peacefully. Just a few weeks ago, America elected a fascist, fear-mongering, xenophobic, cowardly demagogue as its next president. While the release time for “Arrival” was coincidental, its thematic underpinnings resonate now more than ever. Even removed from this moment in time, the film remains relevant because of humanity’s unfortunately ever-present anxiety, which is the fear of the unknown. It’s so easy to fear what we don’t understand. It can be difficult to forge trust with whom we perceive as “the other.” Trumpism has become powerful because it stoked unevolved instincts. It is designed to trap people in a state of being uninformed. When people are without knowledge, they fear, when they fear, they hate, and when they hate, they act on those dark, twisted, negative impulses. In this state, compassion, empathy, and knowledge are seen as delusions and weaknesses. But they aren’t and never will be. Without giving too much away, it’s only through taking the time to talk does progress get made. “Arrival’s” message runs deep, but it never comes across as preachy or condescends to its audience. It encourages the idea that we can better ourselves and those around us if we reach out to each other. Some would say that politics have no business in film and movies are only supposed to be a means of escapist entertainment. I reject that. While fun, mindless entertainment has its place, film and all other media have always been a vessel to express our thoughts and ideas. As citizens of this world, it is our obligation to be aware of our surroundings. When you disconnect yourself, you risk falling prey to false, dangerous information. When you open your ears, listen, and act, the benefits can be fulfilling for all. Luckily, the film still works even if all that sociopolitical commentary is re-
moved. This is a great story and it has a great main character to follow along with. This is quite possibly Amy Adams’ best
performance in her career. She imbues her character with intelligence, empathy, and a steadfast nature without the risk of com-
ing across as unrelatable. In an age where female representation is slowly but surely getting better in media, this character is yet another welcome addition to the growing list of strong, smart female characters. The only downside to Louise Banks being the heart of the story is that Ian Donnelly isn’t quite as fleshed out as the filmmakers intended. While Jeremy Renner is great in the role, I didn’t quite believe his character would make the decision he makes at the end. Speaking of the ending, there is one moment in the third act where Banks makes a phone call to somebody and makes an emotional appeal to him rather than a logical one. While it does come across as a bit of a cheat, I can understand the reason behind it. Banks is a character who understands the power of words. Words can be used to heal or be used to hurt. As Donnelly quotes at the beginning, “Language is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.” Even stubborn individuals can be persuaded if someone takes the time to empathize with them. The moment we stop trying to understand each other, that is the moment where our fate will be sealed. While I can’t say this is his best film (“Enemy” would be my favorite of his filmography), this is amongst director Denis Villeneuve’s best work. Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score is an absolute delight; ranging from unearthly to somber. I’m happy “Arrival” abides by its own guidelines. There is no climax where things get blown up or where a character makes a grand speech about how we need to be better toward each other. Without spoiling it, in the end, it all comes down to Banks as she makes a decision that will change her life forever. When I got to the closing minutes, I went from sitting comfortably in my chair to being on the edge of my seat in shock. Even after seeing it almost two weeks ago, I’m still not sure I’ve fully deciphered every one of “Arrival’s” meanings. But it makes me want to understand. Final Rating: 9 out of 10