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Nov. ‘20

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Student Newspaper

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Also in this issue:

UA Little Rock’s No. 1 Fan chancellor drale’s state of the university address. page 4 & 5

Breast cancer awareness month. page 9

History of el dia de los muertos. page 14

Learn more about Ms. Joyce on Page 10 covid-19’s impact on swimming & diving team. page 23





News Editor Chloe McGehee


Executive Editor: Jordan Woodson

News Editor:

Chloe McGehee

JORDAN WOODSON @jordanjwoodson
















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The Forum is the official student newspaper at UA Little Rock. It is published monthly from the newspaper office in the Donaghey Student Center Room 116. Any UA Little Rock student is welcome to be a staff member. Opinions expressed in The Forum are those of the staff and contributing writers and do not represent the official views of UA Little Rock. Any inquiries should be directed to the Forum’s executive editor, Jordan Woodson, at The Forum welcomes letters to the editor on any subjects as well as comments on our news coverage and editorial positions. - Letter should include the author’s name, classification, major or position and a contact telephone number for confirmation. - Letters are subject to editing to meet space limitations. Please limit letters to 500 words or less. - The staff will not alter the meaning of a letter, but will correct spelling and punctuation. - The editor reserves the right to reject any letter, especially one that is considered libelous, obscene, or incoherent. Letters should be emailed to

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University of Arkansas at Little Rock 116 Donaghey Student Center 2801 S. University Ave. Little Rock, Ark. 72204




Drale Delievers State of the University Address “As we look back on the last year of great struggle and upheaval, the occasion of this university assembly is a good time to assess the state of the university and to identify our priorities in moving forward. As I was preparing my remarks for today, I thought that a good alternative title to State of the University Address would be “Love in the Time of COVID19”. Much like the characters in the Garcia Marquez novel, we now have the opportunity to reflect on what is truly important—to sort out the transitory from the eternal, and to focus on what is lasting. I would submit to you that the singular lasting value that we must hold dear is the transformational value of education. As an institution, we are called upon to find a path to sustainability so that value is not lost to our community and the students we serve. Corollary values that we must also champion as a responsible member of our community are the values of good citizenship and environmental harmony. We must help promote the strength and health of central Arkansas through our educational, research, and public service programs, and that includes supporting our underserved populations and championing racial equality. We must also strive to create a clean and sustainable urban environment, finding ways to integrate form and function with our natural resources. I believe that UA Little Rock and its constituents are best served when we strengthen our institutional focus and build our infrastructure and planning activities around that focus. So let’s start by taking a look at where we fit in Arkansas’s educational landscape—otherwise known as our role and scope. If you look at our role and scope statements approved by ADHE and our Board of Trustees, they describe, over several paragraphs, what our purpose is among the various higher education institutions. I’ve taken the liberty of writing an abbreviated version in a single paragraph as a means to sharpen our focus as we go forward: UA Little Rock is a comprehensive metropolitan university that serves a diverse student body and assumes a special role in addressing the needs of cen-

tral Arkansas in its academic, research, and public service programs. While maintaining a strong liberal arts core education, UA Little Rock offers undergraduate and graduate degrees that meet the demand for professional and advanced level preparation in areas of critical need for local, state, and regional development. UA Little Rock is committed to a research and public service portfolio that applies its expertise and resources to public concerns and community wellbeing. Partnerships play a key role in enabling the university to extend its reach and increase its effectiveness. [Adapted from the UA Little Rock Role and Scope Statement of the UA Board of Trustees] From this statement of purpose, we can readily identify our most appropriate institutional priorities. I’ve mentioned these priorities in previous statements, but I want to reiterate them here. Based on our fundamental purpose to provide educational opportunity to a wide variety of mostly urban students, priority number one is enhancing access to higher education and enhancing student success. We enhance access through financial assistance, better outreach across different populations, and by creating a more welcoming and inclusive learning environment where our employment profile reflects the diversity of our community. We enhance student success by ensuring the high quality of our instruction, and by building a sustainable student support infrastructure that is timely, responsive, and effective. Based on our obligation to provide educational programs that fulfill our role as a comprehensive institution and that meet the needs of our community and state, priority number two is to develop, maintain, and strengthen the right mix of liberal arts and pre- professional undergraduate and graduate programs that will prepare our students for viable career paths or career enhancements. We do this by maintaining a solid liberal arts core as the basis of our general education and by making sure that our academic programs have demand, both from prospective students and prospective employers. Whether it is a liberal arts program or a pre-professional program, we

must be able to demonstrate the value of the credentials we offer. Based on our role as an urban research 2 institution that is dedicated to addressing public concerns, priority number three is to develop, maintain, and strengthen a research and creative work portfolio appropriate to our Carnegie status and one that applies our talent and expertise to real life issues. We do this by supporting grants and contracts through our sponsored research office, but also by providing opportunities for professional development, incentives for pilot projects, and alternative funding sources for unsponsored research. And finally, based on our public service mission, priority number four is to promote community engagement through our educational programs, our research and public service projects and programs, and through Trojan Athletics. By maintaining focus on this aspect of our role and scope, UA Little Rock ensures that we maintain a strong connection to our community and that the value of having an institution like UA Little Rock in Central Arkansas is readily apparent to all. Now, some of you might be asking yourselves, what about the budget and resources? What about enrollment? Aren’t these important institutional priorities as well? I would argue that these objectives are very important, but they are a means to an end, not the end in itself. Yes, increasing enrollment is a vital institutional objective, but not because a larger enrollment by itself is a social good, but because it represents increased educational opportunity and attainment, and those things are social goods. Larger enrollment also represents an increase in resources. That increase in resources is not the social good, but what it makes possible—student success, stronger programs, professional development, more community partnerships—those things are social goods that are part of our mission and our role and scope. So yes, balancing the budget, increasing enrollment, securing additional resources— all of those are necessary and important because they make it possible for us to fulfill our purpose as an institution of higher education. Our commitment to more eternal values, helps us bring

everything else we do into sharper focus. As we move forward, our assessment, our recruitment, our planning, our budgeting, our fundraising, will all be shaped by our institutional priorities. We will build up our student support infrastructure and we will do it with intentionality, knowing who our students are and what challenges they face. We will strengthen support for faculty and staff so that you have the means to teach well, create well, and engage your community with confidence. We will build up our strong programs and develop less strong programs that are in high need. We will build our capacity and reputation for meaningful research, creative activity, and public service. And we will do all of this with an eye towards sustainability so that future generations can concentrate on their opportunities without having to worry about funding for the bare necessities of fulfilling our mission. Let me now turn to the state of our university as I see it. The external conditions that we were facing a year ago, and indeed for several years now, haven’t changed considerably. We are still looking at a national demographic decline in collegeage students. Fortunately for us, we are not wholly dependent on the traditional market, so we have opportunities to expand non-traditional enrollment in the coming years. We are still looking at flat State funding, at best, for higher education and COVID-19 has lowered that funding level for this year at least. This puts greater emphasis on increasing revenue from other sources, and a continuing emphasis on lowering costs. We are still seeing the effects of a cultural shift on the value of higher education. This year, 51% of our applicants chose to go nowhere for college. While some of that is undoubtedly COVID-related, we were seeing that trend already emerging last year. This highlights the importance of helping students and their families connect the dots between what they will do in college and where that will take them after graduating. We can’t assume they see the same value proposition that we do. Arkansas continues to have one of the highest poverty rates in the nation and we have to understand the full impact of that fact on educational attain-

ment and do what we can to mitigate it. It also means that we have to get involved earlier in the process and help our community lift up those with the most need. The emergence, this year, of a global pandemic, has made life harder for all of us, but in a real sense, in mainly exacerbates conditions we were already dealing with, and will continue to face. Internally, the conditions we faced a year ago, and in the years leading up to that point, have changed in very substantial ways. In the two years leading up to our HLC accreditation review, we developed an institutional understanding of the importance of strategic planning and of tying that planning to institutional priorities. By the time of our visit last February, we had begun building the infrastructure to do this planning, in particular, by creating the Institutional Effectiveness Committee, but we still struggled with our focus and in identifying our institutional priorities. For many years, our institutional priority was largely defined as increasing enrollment. But for reasons that I have already described, this inverted the equation so that it was difficult for us to articulate our true institutional priorities as defined by our role and scope. An institutional priority based on a means to an end, meant that we really didn’t know or agree on those ends and that translated to our inability articulate those ends to others. It also meant that we focused too narrowly on a single means, namely recruitment, to accomplish anything we might have wanted to do. Budget cuts were across the board and indiscriminate. Until last year, we did not consider other means of balancing the budget. We have now applied structural reorganization in both academic and non-academic units to reduce administrative costs, and have used academic planning retrenchment to right-size our academic enterprise. These were much, much more difficult strategies than cutting across the board, but ultimately more strategic and less damaging overall. I submit to you that we are now properly focused on our institutional priorities. We will continue to discuss and debate the best methods and the right

News mix, but we know that educational access and student success is our primary goal. We know that serving the needs of our community and state is also a primary goal. And we know that the means to these goals involve responsible resource management and strategic, datainformed decision-making. Another internal condition that has changed includes the complete transformation of our recruitment, admissions, and financial aid operations. Since starting his new job a year ago summer, Vice Chancellor Cody Decker and his team have increased their effectiveness and reduced time to admission and scholarship from several months to just about 24 hours. We had record increases in new student applications, admissions, and scholarship applications. We still have work to do in the onboarding handoff between student and academic affairs, but the state of this operation is considerably improved. Vice Chancellor Decker will share with you more details on enrollment later in this program. We also responded to the IEC top recommendation to develop a comprehensive enrollment management plan, which we did last December and which now guides our recruitment and retention efforts. I was able to use that plan as a basis for acquiring external funding for both recruitment and retention for this year. As you all know, the internal condition that was most pressing when I became Chancellor last September, was the rapidly growing loss in net position. I am pleased to report that we are making good progress on rectifying this problem. At the start of fiscal year 20, we had a net position loss of around $11 million. Half of that was carried over from the previous year and half was generated by a 9% decline in enrollment when we had only budgeted for a 1% decline. Then, with COVID-19 related losses and costs, we added another $6 million to that bringing the total to more like $17 million. Then, in planning for 10.5% FY21 enrollment decline, we added another $6 million to that potential loss. So, if we had done nothing at all and had sustained all of the losses we planned for, we would have been looking at a net position loss of around $23 million for this year. Happily, it didn’t turn out that way. Through 3 rounds of general budget cuts, restructuring, retrenchment, spend-

ing restrictions, a good year in fund-raising, and by beating our SSCH projection by over 5%–when all the dust settles, we should be looking at a potential net position loss of only $6.5 million. Our goal, obviously is to get that to zero, but we’re moving in the right direction. Some of you may have heard that we ended fiscal year 20 with a significant positive balance. That is true, so let me explain. The positive balance is based on our actual expenditures compared to our actual revenue. We did a very good job of spending less than we made and saving the difference in our reserves. A lot of that was due to the fact that we implemented a spending reduction when COVID hit and the State decreased our appropriations and then gave it back to us at the end of the year. We also had quite a few open positions at various times during the year and held off on filling them which gave us a lot of salary savings. However, it is important to understand, that those positions and those expenditures were all still in the budget and had we spent everything that was budgeted last year, we would have not only spent more than we brought in, but would have had to spend down our reserves by at least the $11 million loss we started with. The $6.5 million net position loss I am telling you we have now is based on our budgeted expenditures for this year. If we spend everything that is in our fiscal year 21 budget, and our revenue projections do not change, we will have to draw that $6.5 million out of our reserves to cover the expenses. We virtually never spend more than is budgeted (which keep in mind is not the same as revenue) and usually end the year under budget, so I am confident that we will not need to draw the full amount from reserves especially with COVID depressing travel and event expenditures. For fiscal year 22, our goal will be to make additional reductions to our budget and increases to revenue to eventually get to a net zero change position. We can accomplish this in part by budgeting more closely to our actual expenditures. We currently have over $60 million in unrestricted reserves; so we’re going to be OK even if we have to draw on reserves for a few years. Let me conclude my remarks by highlighting some other changes we have made and outlining our next steps. Raising funds from the

Foundation, we are building up our infrastructure for student success. We have a fully endowed student retention office with an intervention team and various coaches and mentors. We are using additional funds from the Donaghey Foundation to reinvest in the Student Affairs success initiatives, the Multicultural Center and other diversity initiatives, as well as the Chancellor’s Leadership Corps. We are also using Donaghey Funds to initiate a new Career Center starting this January. As you have probably heard, we are launching several diversity initiatives with the intention of improving our learning and working environment. I just announced the members of two new committees: the Racial Barriers Committee and the Chancellor’s Race and Ethnicity Advisory Committee. These committees are designed to uncover unintended barriers to access and inclusion and to help us find ways to improve our environment for all people of color. We have also launched a campus read project for faculty, staff and students to participate in book discussion groups and to keep the conversation about racial equity front and center. This year we are also launching a faculty salary equity study to be followed by a similar study for staff. I’m pleased to report that Chief Carter and our Public Safety Office have enthusiastically embraced my recommendation to start meeting with students informally in a positive setting to talk through any issues they may have and to collaborate on campus-wide initiatives. They have already met with the SGA Executive Council and will next meet with students in an open forum this fall. I will hold my next open forums on race and ethnicity on November 11 and 12, so stay tuned for further details on that. Community outreach has been an important theme over the last year. In addition to the many wonderful communityoriented projects you have initiated, we have partnered with Fifty for the Future, the Chamber of Commerce and the area school districts to support the Ford Next Generation Learning model to help students better prepare for postsecondary success. We are also partnering with Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott to reimagine the Asher Ave. corridor and we hope to launch a P3 project RFP for the Plaza property within the year.

NOVEMBER 2020 EDITION We had an excellent year in fundraising last year raising over $45 million. We have reorganized and recalibrated both the Development Office and the Office of Communication and Marketing to better align with our institutional priorities. I’m putting an emphasis on endowed scholarships, endowed professorships, program support, including research support, and sustainable capital improvements. For the first time this year you are going to see a Holiday Wish List campaign that allows academic departments to identify specific items for donor support. This will bring in a lot of new donors and help departments connect with them in a more intimate way. In marketing you will see more emphasis on supporting specific programs rather than generic institutional branding. We want the community to connect with individuals and their experiences at UA Little Rock, so our strategy there now reflects that. Moving forward it will be important for us to continue turning the ship towards a more intentional planning and budgeting process that is transparent and participatory. I look forward to working with the IEC and the campus community to re-evaluate our historical allocations and move towards a zero-based budget model where alignment to institutional priorities are clear. In the next few weeks, I intend to have a budget process for fiscal year 22 outlined and we will begin that process in November. Moving forward it will also be important to continue to refine and improve our student outreach and support processes. We’ve got a great start on this transformation, but there is more work to do, and we have to carefully analyze our successes and failures and learn from them with a commitment to continuous improvement. Likewise, we must continue the process of rigorous program assessment and accountability to ensure that we are not taking anything for granted or resting on outdated assumptions. We cannot expect students and community members to invest in us if we cannot verify our effectiveness and relevance. We must be vigilant in this. Next year (fiscal year 22), we will rewrite our institutional strategic plan to more clearly delineate means and ends and to more clearly identify measurable gains. The Strategic Planning Committee did a very good job with our current


plan, but they were limited to revising an existing plan and ultimately, the plan did not have the authority of committing resources to goals. We will change that. The ultimate measure of our success will be that we have programs that students want to enroll in, and that we have graduates who contribute to their communities and that employers want to hire. The measure of our success will be a reputation for excellence and vital relevance to the community. I have said before that I am very optimistic on the future of UA Little Rock. We have great talent, great commitment, and a great deal of potential ahead of us. We have already demonstrated our capacity to address our internal challenges and respond creatively to external conditions. We have demonstrated a capacity for hard work, collaboration, and ingenuity and as long as we have that, we can continue to do amazing things together. The state of UA Little Rock in 2020 is good and getting better. We have clear course ahead of us and I look forward to making that journey with you.” - Chancellor Christina Drale


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Theater Arts Faculty Member Designs New Face Mask Line


Don Bollinger with his face masks. Photo by Ben Krain

By Alex Ball Staff Writer In one week, the quiet rumors of COVID-19 circulating the UA Little Rock campus went from absent-minded conversations of all the possible outcomes to a declaration of a fully online semester. As the frigid spring months waned into hazy summer afternoons, the CDC’s new recommendations for facial coverings in public areas ensued. While some have not been receptive to this notion, people like Don Bolinger, a staff member of the Theater Arts and Dance department, decided to embrace face masks and place their own creative spin on it. “The face mask line started when the previous chair of the department [asked], ‘Why don’t you build face masks for our department?’” Bolinger said. “We weren’t producing anything, as I had nothing to build. This launched me into a big search online to see the different styles and how people were approaching it.” Even though he had originally been asked to look into a

face mask line by the previous Theater Arts and Dance department chair, it was Bolinger’s creativity and hard work that made the masks popular. “I tried out probably 25 different face mask patterns. I settled on two or three that I liked that was easy to put together,” Bolinger said. Bolinger had made enough masks for his department and friends but managed to have some leftovers. “Some of the ones I have built I have donated to charity,” Bolinger said. Not only has Bolinger made face masks to encourage more people to wear them, but he has made seasonal masks as well. “I’m still looking at new and different ones, the latest one is a scarf mask,” Bolinger said. “It is attached to something larger so that in the winter, it’s easy to take off and let it hang around your neck.” While Bolinger made the masks to normalize having to wear one, he wanted to add some fun to it as well. “Part of it is to lift our spirits. I chose some fabrics with humor, like lips, sleeping, Halloween,

and Christmas things to brighten people’s day. Another thing is to try and establish a new normal for ourselves.” Even though COVID-19 has placed us in a time struggle and fear, Bolinger has tried to make the situation more bearable.

“[COVID-19] won’t be here forever, but it’s gonna be here long enough, that we might as well keep it from being so gloom and doom all the time. We have to raise our own spirits, and it’s up to us to be positive and look forward to the future.”

Don Bolinger created hundreds of face masks of various prints and patterns for faculty and students. Photo by Ben Krain.




UA Little Rock Remembers Dr. Rolf Wigand

By Azalea Andrade Staff Writer Dr. Rolf Wigand, Professor Emeritus of Information Science, Business Information Systems and Management at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, passed away Sept. 25. “I am very sorry to hear of the passing of Dr. Rolf Wigand,” said Dr. Ibrahim Niscanci, chairman and professor of Systems Engineering who worked closely with Dr. Wigand. “He was a true gentleman always with a very gentle smile ready to help. He was also a very respected scholar who really cared about research.” Although born in Altkirch, Germany, Dr. Wigand grew up in Mayen, Germany where he lived until the end of his high school years. After gaining a few years of experience, he traveled to the U.S. where he earned a BBA in Marketing and Advertising in 1970 and a master’s degree in Mass Communication in 1972 from Texas Tech University. In 1975 he earned his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in

Organizational Communication. Dr. Wigand went on to hold various positions after that. In 2002 he became the MauldenEntergy Chair and Distinguished Professor of Information Science and Management at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock retiring in 2015—completing 40 years as an education practitioner. “I am greatly saddened to learn of his passing,” said Dr. Elizabeth Pierce, chair of the Department of Information Science. “In addition to being a tremendously productive scholar in the field of information science, Dr. Wigand was a great teacher and mentor to his students. He contributed generously to our discipline through his conference, editorial and review work. He was a kind, soft-spoken and considerate colleague that will be missed by all who knew him.” He was also known as an advocate for his students and someone they could always put their trust in. Dr. Wigand was thoughtful and had an intuition of what the people he cared for needed. “I do not know how he discovered my weakness for Ritter

Chocolates,” said Dr. Niscanci. “I would find a Ritter Chocolate in my mailbox every time he would travel overseas. [I] loved him.” Dr. Wigand is remembered as an outstanding scholar, colleague, advocate and leader for his students. His active research agenda yielded 21 books and over 500 articles, chapters and monographs. His research explored the intersection of newer information technologies and their impact on organizations and society. An esteemed colleague, Dr. Nitin Agarwal, director of Collaboratorium for social media and online behavioral studies, had an immense appreciation for Dr. Wigand and his work. “He cherished interdisciplinary research and showed its value through his numerous collaborative research projects,” Agarwal said. “He was one of the foundational members of the social network analysis research community that started in the early 1980s. He was extremely systematic and rigorous in his approach.” He had a wonderful sense of humor and always knew how to lighten up the situation when things got rough. His positivity created a venue for his many accomplishments. When asked about his favorite memory with Dr. Wigand, Dr. Agarwal reminisced on how wise Dr. Wigand was with life and his research. “We worked on over two dozen research studies over a decade,” Dr. Agarwal said. “He would always ask the right questions, and I often wondered how he did that. So I asked. He said, jokingly, ‘asking questions is easy, answering them is the hard part.’ This was one of my most favorite memories and also the most profound because asking the right question is fundamental to do good research - and it is not easy. Rolf made it look easy.” His research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the German National Science Foundation, the Volkswagen Foundation, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Berlin, the European Union, the International Science Council in Paris, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and many other major funding agencies. With wisdom and wit, Dr. Wigand left his mark on the world as a visiting professor in various cities across the globe such as

Mexico City, Munich, Helsinki and Sydney. Professor Wigand was also a founding member of Bled eConference, a community that aims to contribute to the shaping of economic and social growth as well as the well-being of citizens around the world. In a statement released by them, they described Dr. Wigand as “a truly inspiring professor, colleague and above all else, a great man whose words would always encourage everyone around him to give and achieve their best.”

“Rolf touched numerous lives and I was fortunate to be among them,” Dr. Agarwal said. “He was an incredible mentor, friend, and colleague.” UA Little Rock was lucky to have such an innovative and intelligent faculty member. Dr. Rolf Wigand’s knowledge broke boundaries and will be profoundly missed as a researcher, colleague, mentor and professor.

Fall 2020 Commencement moves online

By James Johnson Staff Writer

With 2020 reaching it’s closing months, a big topic on everyone’s mind is the upcoming commencement ceremony for the Fall Graduates. 2020 has been a very trying year and students eligible for graduation are preparing for their final exams and final walk on the Trojan campus. Students preparing for commencement and those looking to attend will have to attend virtually to protect students, staff and attendees as COIVD-19 continues upsurge and threatens the health of everyone. Though COVID-19 is present, life still moves on and graduation presses forward, here’s what to expect from this ceremony. The Commencement ceremony will be pre-recorded and will take place on Saturday, Dec. 19 on the UA Little Rock Website. There will be three separate ceremonies held on the UA Little Rock website. There will be a ceremony for each of the UA Little Rock colleges: - College of Business, Health & Human Services - College of Humanities, Art, Social Sciences & Education - Donaghey College of Science, Technology, Engineering & Math Those who are completing their degrees in Fall 2020, students will be contacted in early

November regarding information about virtual commencement information. Those who may have graduated in spring you have the option to graduate in the Spring commencement or the Fall Commencement. For more information, students can contact the Department of Records & Registration with this email: records-graduation@ groups.ualr.ed. Graduating students also have the opportunity to be recognized individually for the hard work and honors they have received. Students can also send in photos of themselves to be displayed along with their name and honors. Faculty who are participating in the ceremony are asked to send in their photos as well. Faculty and students can submit their photos here on the form connected to this link: “We have made the difficult decision to not hold the traditional in-person commencement exercises for the fall 2020 semester,” Dr. Ann Bain, provost and executive vice chancellor, said. “We understand that our students have experienced a trying time. We want to do everything we can to celebrate the dedication and perseverance of our students. This virtual ceremony will commemorate the hard work and accomplishments of our graduating students and give us all a way to celebrate together in a safe way.” Congratulations to all the Fall 2020 Grads!!!




How Students Become Journalists in the Midst of a Pandemic

By Chloe McGhee News Editor We know the media has been sharply influenced by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we also need to take notice of the worlds’ future journalists, who are going through their own unique experience right now. Here at UA Little Rock, the School of Mass Communications has decided to follow all campus guidelines regarding masks and social distancing to make sure the school is safe for students, all while trying to teach them journalistic skills. The department has also faced some challenges in recent months, having to move multiple courses online, including several skills-based courses that had never been offered as an online class before. Course enrollment caps also had to be lessened, affecting students and teachers alike, with the interim department director Timothy Edwards claiming at least 1 class also had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. Edwards has faced some unique challenges as department head under covid, espe-

cially since learning about media is such a hands-on experience. “It certainly has forced us to think outside the box in terms of how to gather news in this environment,” Edwards said. “It probably has helped journalists overcome their fears of technology as well.” The department also has a challenge in renting out equipment and lab time to students, specifically for film classes. This department, led by the Instructional Lab Coordinator Eric Pardoe, had to try something new, starting an online reservation system for equipment and lab time. Students can now pick up equipment at their designated time, which reduces the amount of traffic around the department and ensures social distancing. Although the new system has been successful, Edwards sees the silver lining in some of the issues the department faces. “I would urge students to hone their skills and practice those skills as much as possible through unconventional ways,” Edwards said. “Use your cell-phone and open source software to practice your video production and editing skills.

Practice interviewing by using family members as sources. Watch documentaries and listen to podcasts featuring professionals in the field that interests you. Volunteer to work in your church’s media or communication department/ministry for experience. Remember there are multiple ways of learning and doing. Just think outside the box and be creative.” Film professor Christopher Robinson has played a role in the development of the reservation system, and is teaching his media production classes under the new scope of the pandemic. “This has been a stressful time for students, faculty, and pretty much everyone else in general,” Robinson said. “While we have all been affected by the pandemic, dealing with some of the hands-on, labor intensive production classes that need a lot of in-person meetings has been a particular challenge. At least for Intro to Media Production, we’ve moved the class to a large classroom and capped the class at a size where we can meet. It’s all a work in progress, but I think we’re getting there in terms of offering students a decent experience which, while not as satisfying

as classes with no pandemic, comes pretty close. The current situation is not ideal, but we are doing what we can and trying to maximize the experience under the circumstances. I’m not going to pretend that things are like they were before the pandemic, but I think we’re doing okay as compared to just sitting at home.” Robinson and Edwards both see some improvements in the department due to the pandemic. “I am pleased with the changes we have put in the lab and equipment room this fall,” Robinson said. “While it might have been easier for equipment to let people just drop by and pick up stuff, I think that a reservation system allows people to better plan their shoots in advance, as they should be doing anyway -- now one can be sure that you will actually get the camera when you need it. I think this is a great improvement in the system, and I am told the department has received compliments from students who are happy with the new system. If this continues, I do think we are more prepared for it now, and have made some strides in terms of developing

best practices moving forward in the situation.” Edwards sees more opportunities for advancement of the program. “[The pandemic] has allowed us to explore how we can offer more courses in the online environment to increase the flexibility of our curriculum,” Edwards said. “With these new course offerings online, we may be in a position to grow our brand new online degree. [In the future], we can increase our enrollment through targeted, but aggressive recruiting. We can continue to develop curricularly and offer innovative, one of a kind programs, and we can adapt to changes in the ever evolving media landscape.” Edwards has hope for any despairing students who are worried about missing out on media experience or their future careers. “We all know that the one certainty in life is change occurs,” Edwards said. “Sometimes that change is planned, other times it is very unpredictable. Embrace the changes and learn and grow from it. Having an open-mind will often lead to unexpected, fulfilling outcomes.




One woman’s battle with breast cancer

By Nakiah Willis Staff Writer Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an international annual campaign that aims to increase awareness of breast cancer that is officially celebrated in the month of October. People all across the globe participate in various events to raise awareness of breast cancer. These events include breast cancer awareness walks, dinners for current women going through breast cancer along with survivors, and fundraising or donating money to organizations whose purpose is to aid, support, and educate women on breast cancer. According to the United States Breast Cancer Statistics, 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her life. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in American women, besides skin cancer. Breast cancer is more common in Black women than White women for women under the age of 45. The death rate among Black women with breast cancer is higher than any other race of women. Twquina Merriweather, a 55-year-old black woman native to the state of Arkansas, stated that she was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 43. “When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, the doctors told me it was in stage zero,” Merriweather said. “I found out when I went to my annual

mammogram at the Baptist Health Women’s Center here in Fort Smith.” Along with providing breast cancer services to women, the Baptist Health Women’s Center also provides other comprehensive services such as pregnancy care, birth control, and routine wellness exams. Merriweather says that she was overwhelmed with fear and anxiety when she first received the news. “I was fearful of what was to come over the next few months,” she said. “I feared the unknown. However, once the news sunk in, I went into survival mode.” Merriweather says that she had an 8-year-old daughter to take care of at the time. “I just prayed to God that he would give me the strength to get through these treatments and be able to continue taking care of my baby girl,” she said. “Once I gave the situation to God, the fear diminished.” Merriweather’s mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 43. If a woman has a first degree relative such as mother, daughter, or sister, her chance of breast cancer nearly doubles, according to She says that she did not have to go through invasive treatments such as chemotherapy the first time she was diagnosed. “I had to have a lumpectomy along with seven weeks of radiation,” she said. “I had to go to radiation treatments five days a week. It was like clockwork.”

Merriweather described her radiation treatment as “tolerable.” “My experience with radiation wasn’t bad at all,” she said. “Thankfully, I didn’t have to have large quantities of radiation lasered into my body. I wasn’t in any pain. However, one of the side effects was fatigue.” Merriweather emphasized that the fatigue made it difficult for her to do simple everyday tasks that she did before. She also mentioned that her doctor offered her services that would help her through the treatment process. “My doctor offered massage therapy, but I never did it,” she said. “I think massage therapy was more for stress and tension, not cancer itself.” She says that she didn’t face any tribulations during her time with cancer, except for cancer itself. “Honestly, I was very blessed that my type of cancer didn’t require invasive treatments such as chemotherapy,” she said. “If it did, then my first diagnosis with breast cancer would’ve been a completely different experience.” She says that it’s important for survivors to still maintain awareness of their breast because there’s a possibility for relapse for women who have had breast cancer once. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with breast cancer again at the age of 54 after being breast cancer-free for 11 years. “The cancer was in the left

breast,” she said. “This is the same breast the cancer was in before.” She also mentioned that the cancer was in Stage One, instead of Stage Zero like the previous time she was diagnosed. According to, recurrent breast cancer is cancer that comes back in either the same or opposite breast or chest wall after a period of time when cancer was nondetectable. There are three general areas that breast cancer can come back. The associated terms for these areas are local recurrence, regional recurrence, and metastatic recurrence. In Merriweather’s situation, she experienced a local breast cancer recurrence. For her treatment the second time around, Merriweather says that she and her doctor decided that a mastectomy would be the best option. “Since I had already battled with breast cancer 11 years ago, a double mastectomy was the best option,” she said. “After the mastectomy, I had breast reconstruction surgery. That process was split into three surgeries with a two month healing period between each surgery.” During the healing period, Merriweather stated she was not able to work or do any heavy lifting. “I’m a press operator at Rheem, which means I lift heavy air conditioner parts all day,” she said. “My job wouldn’t allow for proper healing, which is why I was bedridden for a while.” Merriweather says that she

wasn’t shocked the second time she found out about her diagnosis. “Like I did the first time, I turned the situation over to God,” she said. “I wouldn’t be honest if I said I didn’t worry. However, I refused to let the anxiety and fear control me.” Merriweather emphasized the importance of women doing self-exams on their breasts “I think that once a young lady grows breast, that is the time to do a proper self-check,” she said. “Breast cancer doesn’t happen in just older women anymore. Women in their early 20s are being diagnosed with cancer. It is extremely important to have mammograms every year. Mammograms can catch cancer at early stages.” Women can do self-exams by lying on their backs and firmly pressing all over their breast and surrounding areas such as the armpit and collar bone. It’s important that women get annual mammograms once they hit the age of 40. It is not recommended for women under the age of 4o to receive mammograms. However, screenings can begin at 25 for women with genetic mutations that would make them more prone to breast cancer. It’s important that women pay attention to their bodies as early detection is the key to surviving breast cancer. Please visit the Cancer Treatment Centers of America website for more information on breast cancer.





By Kelly Connelly Guest Writer Joyce Crossley believes everyone has a purpose. She says one of them is to make people smile. Known affectionately by UA Little Rock students as “Ms. Joyce,” Crossley greets students personably, making sure everyone who visits her on campus knows they are loved. “I pray for the students,” she said. “I just want everyone to succeed because God made everyone to have a purpose.” Crossley has worked many different jobs on campus since joining UA Little Rock’s staff team back in 2001 and has been working at the Library Cafe in the Ottenheimer Library since 2016. UA Little Rock student and employee Tamerik Pace says students visit the library just to see Ms. Joyce. Sometimes they don’t even buy anything. “She is just a caring, loving person,” Pace said. “She has a lot of wisdom. Anytime you need advice, just go to her.” Pace says Crossley has been the mother figure he has needed

since losing his own mother. “She treats me like her son,” he said. “She gives me hugs and tells me she loves me. She is always happy and has an energetic personality. I’ve never seen her mad.” When asked where she gets her upbeat personality, Crossley pointed to her walk with God. She says God has given her a personality that allows her to spread love to everyone she meets. “I can’t help the way I am,” Crossley said. “I think He made me this way so I can spread love to other people and let them know that there is a real and true reality in serving a God who invented this whole big world.” Crossley was born in Jackson City, Louisiana and spent the majority of her childhood in El Dorado, Arkansas. She graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1968 and describes her high school experience as “glorious.” Crossley was a high school cheerleader, exposing her to many different sports. Crossley now refers to herself as a “religious” basketball fan. Since coming to UA Little Rock, Crossley enjoys attending Trojan games whenever she can. She knows

“Ms. Joyce” last semester at the Library Kiosk. Photo by Kelly Connelly the players by name and recent- a final exam last semester. He ly supported the team by attend- believes her positivity helped ing the Trojan Men’s homecom- him pass the final with an A. ing game. “I think that lady is walking “The athletic department positivity to be honest,” Freeman here on campus is a part of me,” said. “I hope when I graduate she said. “I just love it.” and get into my field that I can be like her and make people feel as welcome as she does.” Both Pace and Freeman mentioned several other students touched by Crossley’s kindness. Social media responses have also proved Crossley’s warmth has made a lasting impression. Last October, UA Little Rock’s official Facebook page showcased how new renovations are improving the Library Cafe where one student commented “ain’t no amount of lights going to compare to the amount of joy that Ms. Joyce brings!” Crossley says that one of her hopes is that her love will be remembered long after she is - Ms. Joyce gone. Testimonials given by UA Little Rock students prove Crossley has done more than Student athlete Anthony make students smile, she has Freeman has had many morn- given them encouragement and ing interactions with Crossley. motivation that has enabled Freeman says Crossley gave him them to succeed. words of encouragement before

“I think He made me this way so I can spread love to other people and let them know that there is a real and true reality in serving a God who invented this whole big world.”

Do women lack protection?



Who am I?

By James Johnson Staff Writer

By Rodricka Blanks Staff Writer Women needing to be protected has always been an interesting topic. Some people think that women are strong enough to protect themselves and others. Some people see women as dainty, vulnerable flowers that need a strong man to protect them. I beg to differ. Just a few months ago in July, female rapper, Megan Thee Stallion was assaulted with a weapon by rapper, Tory Lanez. Their incident has raised quite a few eyebrows on whether who’s telling the truth and if the incident was even real. Megan Thee Stallion has shared her side of the story plenty of times on social media including posting pictures of her injured feet. After Lanez dropped his album Daystar in late September, fans became skeptical again. Early in October, Megan Thee Stallion released an opinion piece on the New York Times website entitled “Why I Speak Up for Black Women”, in which she talks about how Black women should be protected, her experience as a victim of assault by a man, her controversial Saturday Night Live performance, high mortality maternal rates for Black women, and Breonna Taylor, as well as successful Black women in history and the entertainment world. Black women are known to be the forgotten race when it comes to receiving justice, equality, and respect. Even though these issues majorly effect Black women, they effect all women of different races including the trans community. Just June of this year, a

transgender woman, Iyanna Dior, was brutally attacked by a mob of men at a store in Minnesota, becoming a viral video on social media. It’s disturbing to see that even though Black women and the LGBTQ community, as well as other races have protested for justice of Black men, Black women are still being disrespected by Black men. Not only do strangers assault women, but even their own partners. A recent Netflix series released in September, “American Murder: The Family Next Door”, has shocked a lot of viewers. Prior to the series, I was already familiar with the case. In 2018, Chris Watts murdered his wife and unborn child, along with their other two children. This was a grisly story and I don’t want to deter anyone from watching the Netflix series but how can women be protected if they are being murdered by their own husbands and fathers. As women we have to want a piece of mind in always knowing how to get out of a bad situation. There are self-defense tools like pepper spray, kitty knuckles, alarms, and personalized self-defense keychains that can help women in harmful situations. In terms of learning self-defense skills, in most local towns here in Arkansas there are plenty of Martial Arts centers that teach self-defense. The take away from this piece is that all women should be on guard because even someone close to you can assault you. Women have to take their safety into their own hands because you can’t always depend on others, including men to protect you but you can always depend on yourself.

Growing up I’ve always heard one of two things: you aren’t black enough or you’re too black . One was told by my family and the other was told by society. Who was I supposed to be? How am I to act? What’s wrong with the way I am? I asked myself these questions many times and never got a clear answer until I grew up, but the most important question I had to ask myself was Who am I? I ’ ve a lways b e e n t h e peculiar black kid on the block though I did the same thing other kids did. I played outside like them. I played sports like them. I was obsessed with v i d e o g a m e s l i ke t h e m . W h at wa s t h e p ro b l e m ? Wa s i t b e c au s e I s p e a k in full sentences? Was it because I didn’t dress like t he m ? A m I n o t n o r m a l like them? No r m a l i t y wa s s o m e t h i n g fo r e i g n to m e . I didn’t know what it was l i ke to b e “ n o r m a l . ” I always thought I was sup posed to be myself, I mean that’s what kids heard all the time. That’s not the case society had my life mapped out for me before I even knew who I wanted to be. I was supposed to work a low paying job and struggle to raise my kids and take care of my wife, yo u k n ow t h e A m e r i c a n Dream for black people.

I refused. I decided not to be another one of their statistics so I introduced myself to many different people and got into a lot of different things. I love romantic dramas not gritty action films. I choose to learn about different cultures, not condemn and shame it. Is it really socie t y o r wh at s o c i e t y h a s brainwashed my people to think?

Photo James Johnson

Hypermasculine and emotionless. That’s what I ’ m su p p o s e d to b e a s a black man or at least t h at ’ s wh at I ’ m to l d . I n the black community, peo ple are not allowed to be different. Being different puts you into the line of fire. Teetering on the cliff of n o r m a l i t y yo u we r e bound to fall into abnormality and that makes you a target, or at least that’s what we were taught. This is the brainwashi n g s o c i e t y h a s su b j e c te d b l a c k p e o p l e to i n America. Stripped of our


c u l t u r e , i g n o r a nt of o u r ro o t s , a n d to l d h ow to behave and not to make wave s . T h i s i s wh at we we r e t au g h t b u t i t ’ s s o wrong. We’re taught to be ashamed of what makes us unique. From our hair, to our clothing, to our dancing, to our speech, they tr y to strip our identity f ro m u s a n d te l l u s to b e h ave . I wo n ’ t b e h ave how we behaved for hund r e d s of ye a r s n ow i t ’ s time to fight this outdated approach. No longer will there be silence. No more will there be conformity. I know who I am. I’m not what America wants me to be. I am who I want to be and no one can take that away from me. No one can take that away from us. We don’t have to be ashamed of our skin color or behaving differently than the norm. I will make my mark on this world for the person I am, not what society wants me to be.






Virtual Art Galleries

The Mass of Mankind (1992) by Luis Jimenez. Publisher: Alliance Graphics. Printer: Joe Sances

Being Seen: Power Through Diversity By Dessi Kelly Staff Writer The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm, which has given organizations like UA of Little Rock a new outlet to entertain. The UA Little Rock Department of Art and Design is hosting a free virtual art exhibition. The free online art exhibition, “Being Seen: Power through Diversity” is available for everyone until Sept. 20, 2020. This art exhibition showcases talented artists from around the world, allowing people to explore art they’ve never seen before. UA Little Rock gallery director, Brad Cushman’s, vision for “Being Seen: Power through Diversity” virtual art exhibition is multicultural and unorthodox. The eight month long virtual event displays artwork from different backgrounds and cultures, such as AfricanAmerican, Latin, European, Asian, LGBT, and much more. “Being Seen: Power through Diversity, promotes learning about and celebrating the barriers that cause us to demonize others,” Cushman said. The “Black America” gallery section showcases artwork from Arkansas, Texas, Georgia and Brazil. Each artwork has a spe-

cial meaning. One of the standouts in the section is “Standing in the Night” by a well-known artist, Delita Martin. The “Latin X” gallery section features artists from Mexico and Texas. The “Carolina” glass sculpture by two unique artists, Einar and Jamex de la Torre, capturrd attention instantly. The only European art piece is “Kids Are Terrible People Too,” which is by artist, Anais Desse. Interestingly, Desse traveled from France and is currently residing in Arkansas.

“Being Seen: Power through Diversity, promotes learning about and celebrating the barriers that cause us to demonize others.” - Brad Cushman

The “Southwestern and South East Asia” art gallery section showcases artwork from Iraq, Pakistan, China, and Vietnamese. Artist Phan Thanh Minh, oil canvas “Crown of People” is bold and has char-

acter even though it’s an art piece. The “Gender and LGBT Identity” art gallery section showcases artwork that celebrates and encourages people in the LGBT community. The “Functional Objects” gallery section displays creative antiques that can be used as decor in college dorms, homes, and in the office. Molly Murphy’s “Tulip Reticule” artwork led me to her website. If you’re looking for decor or clothing, you can visit Murphy’s website, which is Brad Cushman’s virtual art exhibition is a moment for UA of Little Rock students and faculty to escape reality during the global pandemic. Moreover, “Being Seen: Power through Diversity” virtual art exhibit is a safe outlet for anyone seeking indoor entertainment. Also, if you’re an aspiring artist or curator, the UA Little Rock Department of Art and Design is the best place to display your content for the world to see. The process is easy, you can just simply submit your art exhibit proposals through email or by phone. Contact Cushman at or 501916-5103.

“O’Keefe’s Mountain” by Howard Stern. Gift of Nathan & Ellen Stern


By James Johnson Staff Writer Nature is one of the most beautiful things to come across. It’s evanescent aesthetic forever changing as the winds and seasons change. Ricky Sikes’ Internal Landscapes provides an eerie and interesting look into nature’s beauty. Sikes is the Representational Painter in Residence at UALR. He has a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art for Louisiana Tech University and a Bachelor’s in Fine Art in illustration He earned from Rocky Mountain College Of Art and Design. Sikes delves into many different genres in his

paintings, touching portraiture to sci-fi. This times Sikes decided to explore nature and the energy residing in it. Ricky Sikes explored the forests of his Louisiana home and became immersed into the reality of the nature surrounding him. According to Sikes he spent countless hours in the woods getting lost in his imagination. Growing up over the years he ventured into the woods viewing it as an escape and a way to connect with nature and let himself and his art. His exhibition can be seen at this link: from October 12th @10a through November 15th @4pm.

“Washington Street” by Howard S. Stern. Gift of Nathan K. Stern & Ellen C. Stern

“Your Reflection Into Mine” by Marianela del La Hoz

“Woods and Cardinal Flowers” by Howard S. Stern

“Apache Warrior Skateboard” by Douglas Miles

Scan the QR

code to access all virtual exhibits:

“Offering for the Abundance of the Earth” by Joan Hill

“Warhol Factory, Madison Entrance” by Tim Hursley




The History of Dia De Los Muertos

By Rodricka Blanks Staff Writer Dia De Los Muertos, also known as the Day of the Dead, All Souls’ Day, and All Saints Day is a Mexican holiday observed over the course of two days to celebrate life and death. The holiday honors the death of friends and family who have died, with prayer and authentic food. The holiday is well-known for their vibrant art. People dress up in bright dresses, wear sombreros, flowers around their hair, and paint their faces as Calveras. Calveras, also known as Sugar Skulls represent the human skull. They are usually painted with bright colors and are made from either sugar or clay. Ofrendas, which means offerings in English, are the vital part of the celebration. Altars are made with several tiers

for the dead usually decorated with flowers, such as marigolds, Calveras, and different offerings including different photos and personal items of the deceased, as well as their favorite Mexican cuisine dedicated to them in their honor. Marigolds represent the holiday because they are said to lead the non-living spirits to their Ofrendas. In celebration, this year on October 15th, Nike released a shoe collection to pay homage to the holiday. The collection includes four shoes: the Nike Air Max 90, Nike DBreak Type, Nike Blazer Mid and Air Jordan 1. The shoes designs were inspired by the traditional Ofrendas with vivid colors. Typically, there are many activities to celebrate the holiday in the Little Rock area and other local cities, but this year due to the pandemic there isn’t many to find if any at all. There

UA Little Rock’s 2018 Dia De Los Muertos alter. Phot by Jordan Woodson is one way to celebrate on campus. According to the Graduate Assistant for the Multicultural Center, Lauren Wilson, The Multicultural Center, in conjunction with LULAC and the Department of World Languages, they will be displaying a physical Day of the Dead altar in the Ottenheimer Library front lobby from Wednesday, October 28th through Tuesday, November 3rd. In addition to the display, they will also be hosting a virtual altar-making event on Monday, November 2nd, from 5 - 6 pm. Dr. Edma Delgado, Assistant Professor of Spanish, will give the history and significance of the Day of the Dead, and those in attendance will be given guidance on creating their own personal altars. They will also be Nike’s Day of the Dead shoes. showcasing the physical altar that will be in the library.




Local Artist Spotlight Madison Watkins

By Dessi Kelly Staff Writer Arkansas has numerous talented music artists that are emerging throughout the state, many of which have become more than locally known and are expanding outside of AR. One such artist, Fayetteville native Madison Watkins, is one of the new up-and-coming artists becoming known in the music industry. At age 25, Watkins has developed a promising pop career in the mainstream music industry. Inspired by the 1980s, Watkins’ persona and musical style separate her from the typical pop crowd. Watkins moved to Los Angeles, California in 2016 to pursue her music career. While living in LA, Watkins gained a new support system and better opportunities. When Watkins

isn’t recording or performing, she’s a humanitarian. Watkins “Glow Movement” is a non-profit organization that encourages people to excel in life and become their best selves. Having a positive platform is one of the reasons why Watkins has gained a large support system throughout the years. The path she took could inspire other Arkansas musicians who want to expand their horizons. Madison Watkins can’t be labeled as just a singer, she can also play the piano, guitar, reach high notes and dance. To get her name out, Watkins released song covers on YouTube to hits like “Light up the Sky” by Christina Aguilera and “Hold On, We’re Going Home” by Drake. After a couple of years, Watkins signed with Mad Wat Productions, surpassing all expectations placed upon her.

In March 2016, Watkins released her first EP “Glow,” which reached the top 20 album chart on iTunes. In July, Watkins made her first appearance on season 11 of “America’s Got Talent.” Watkins received a standing ovation after her “Let It Go” performance by James Bay. Although she didn’t make it to the quarter-finals, Watkins did not give up on her music career. In April 2017, Watkins performed the national anthem at the LA Clippers playoffs. In 2018 and 2019, Watkins released music videos to her notable singles “Movin,” “Crazy,” and “Curls,” gaining over 10,000 views per video. Madison Watkins released her most recent EP “Rooted,” Sept. 25, 2020. On Oct. 4, Watkins released the music video to her new single “Worthy,” which has accumulated over 2,000 views despite COVID-19. Watkins has made

many achievements throughout her career. Notably, during the pandemic, Watkins has been working on new music and new content for social

media platforms like TikTok and YouTube. To stay updated, follow Watkins on Instagram at Madison Watkins.

Scan the QR code to access Watkins’ YouTube channel:



Movie Reviews NOVEMBER 2020 EDITION

Executive Editor: Jordan Woodson ‘Hubie Halloween’ is definitely an Adam Sandler movie

ised that if he didn’t get an Oscar nomination for his role in “Uncut Gems” (a role I also agree he deserved a nomination for) that he would make the worst movie ever made. Well he didn’t get nominated, so is this that movie then in my opinion? Not quite. While the movie is a mess in a lot of places and very repetitive and predictable in the sense of how Sandler movies usually play out, there are still some funny moments. Yes, the unfunny moments outweigh the funny ones, but I can’t deny that there were multiple jokes and gags that made me literally laughed out loud (most of them not from Sandler however). The movie also just does a really good job at getting you in the Halloween spirit. It’s not good, but not every movie has to be. Like I said, the writing and plot are all a whole mess. It goes

in way too many directions and there are a lot of subplots that are completely useless and some just go nowhere. There are also far too many characters in this film. It feels like Adam told his friends that he was making a Halloween movie for Netflix and he just made a character for everyone that said they wanted to be in it, no matter how pointless that character was. It definitely feels like a first draft. In the end, it doesn’t really matter what the quality of the movie is. If you like traditional Adam Sandler movies, you are probably going to at least enjoy this even beyond the problems it has. It’s not the worst Adam Sandler movie ever, but it’s definitely nowhere near the best. Would I watch this again next Halloween? With a group of friends, maybe.

Aaron Sorkin hits it out of Wrigley Field with ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’

Photo: Netflix “Hubie Halloween” is directed by Steven Brill (director of “Movie 43” and “Mr. Deeds”) and written by both Adam Sandler and Tim Herlihy (“Happy Gilmore,” “Pixels,” “Bedtime Stories,” and a bunch more Adam Sandler film). The movie stars Sandler as Hubie Dubois who, despite his devotion to his hometown of Salem, Mass., is a figure of mockery for kids and adults alike. But when a psycho escapes a nearby ward, a werewolf comes to town, and his hometown bullies start going missing, it’s up to Hubie to save Halloween. This movie has all the ingredients you’d expect in an Adam Sandler movie. You got Sandler playing a socially awkward and unaware loner with a strange voice that’s almost but not quite walking the line of mocking

mentally disabled people who gets picked on by his entire town but ends up doing something either brave or heroic in order to improve his reputation all while trying to get a girl that’s cartoonishly out of his league. Throw in some SNL cast members and young up-and-coming former Disney Channels stars and you got everything you need for a classic Sandler flick. If Adam Sandler is anything, he’s consistent. Is Sandler’s performance good? No. Is the movie well made? Not really. Does it even matter in the long run? Not in the slightest. This is an Adam Sandler movie at its finest and you’re going to know before you even press play if you’re going to like it or not. Earlier this year Sadler prom-

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” is written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (writer and director of “Molly’s Game” and writer of “The Social Network,” “Moneyball” and “Steve Jobs”) based on the real-life trial of the Chicago Seven, seven defen-

Photo: Netflix dants that were charged by the U.S. government with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges related to an anti-Vietnam War protests that took place in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The film stars

Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne (“Les Misérables” and “Fantastic Beasts”), Sacha Baron Cohen (“Les Misérables” and “Borat”), Jeremy Strong (“The Big Short”), John Carroll Lynch (“Zodiac”), Danny Flaherty, Noah Robbins and Alex Sharp as the Chicago Seven as they go through their nearly five month long trial. Aaron Sorkin is probably my favorite screenwriter out there. Between Molly’s Game and The Social Network, his writing is always so sharp, clever, and extremely entertaining and nothing is more evident of that fact than right here with “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” Every line of dialogue is so thought out as most Sorkin films are. It’s obvious that Sorkin did a lot of research for this film. Looking more into the actual trial, he got so many facts rights. Obviously there were some creative liberties here and there because, well, it’s a movie and not a documentary after all, but even some of the more unbelievable moments actually happened. While Sorkin does clearly take the side of the Chicago Seven, he still presents them as flawed humans and not all fully heroes. He’s presenting the facts of the case. Sorkin perfectly mixes in comedy with the real-life seriousness of the trial, particularly between Cohen’s and Strong’s characters. Despite this being a serious situation and there being a lot of emotional and powerful moments, Sorkin knows just the right moments to let us relax a bit and have a laugh. I laughed out loud multiple times. The entire cast is incredible and naming each and every amazing performance would take way too long to do. Redmayne and Cohen are probably the most front-and-center of the Seven and both delivery Oscar-worthy performances. Emmy winner Yahya AbdulMateen II (Watchmen) is only in the first half of the film, but makes the absolute most of his short role. Also, Frank Langella (“Frost/Nixon”) plays the judge and does such a great job with the role that I seriously wanted to reach through the screen and rip his head off. Honestly, if all More on next page

Entertainment five Best Supporting Actor slots at the Oscars were just from this film, I wouldn’t be upset. The editing here is also incredible. Academy Award nominated editor Alan Baumgarten (“American Hustle” and “Molly’s Game”) really does a fantastic job weaving this story together. Sorkin’s writing would be nothing without Baumgarten’s beautiful editing. The timing of this movie’s release also boosts the enjoyment of the film. Sorkin has had this script since 2007 with Steven Spielberg originally set to direct and Will Smith originally cast to

play Abdul-Mateen II’s character (although Cohen was cast to play Abby from the beginning). While this movie would’ve definitely still been good no matter at what point it came out, I don’t think it would’ve had the same impact it had if it came out in 2007 or even 2019 for that matter. 2020 was the perfect year for its release. Overall, while Sorkin’s directing isn’t the best (it’s still great, but could be better) his writing plus the absolutely amazing cast and crew he’s assembled really make “Trial of the Chicago 7” one of the best films of the year.

‘Dear White People’ creator tackles Black hair with the horror genre in ‘Bad Hair’

Photo: Hulu “Bad Hair” is a horror-comedy written and directed by Justin Simien (writer and director of “Dear White People” and creator of the Dear White People series) and stars Elle Lorraine (Insecure) as Anna, an ambitious young woman in 1989 Los Angeles who gets a weave in order to succeed in the image-obsessed world of music television. However, her flourishing career may come at a great cost when she realizes that her new hair may have a mind of its own. I haven’t seen the movie “Dear White People,” but I’ve always loved Simien’s vision with the

Netflix spinoff of it. That’s a lot of the same here with “Bad Hair” as Simien’s vision is easily one of the best parts of this film. The concept of the movie and the social commentary on Black women’s hair while using the horror genre is very cool. This film is no where near as good as his works, but this reminds me a lot of something Jordan Peele would do. I think the social commentary on beauty standards especially for Black women is very well handled. Anna is seen as unattractive and “nappy” when she has her natural hair, but once

she puts in the weave, she’s seen as beauty and everyone wants her, but it all comes at a (deadly) cost. Obviously no one’s weave is actually going to come to life and start murdering people (I would hope), but the film has a lot to say about the importance of Black women just being themselves. I kind of had low expectations going into it, but to my surprise this film is actually pretty entertaining. It takes a bit to get going, but once Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black) puts in Anna’s deadly weave, the film really picks up. It’s a very fun and enjoyable watch that fits in perfectly with other B-level horror films. I do wish Simien did more with the horror and especially the comedy elements. This movie could’ve been sort of the Black social commentary version of “Scary Movie” and it just didn’t reach those levels unfortunately. The horror was good, but I wanted more, and while the film definitely got some laughs out of me and was insanely ridiculously at times (in a good way), I wish it was funnier. I also had a major problem with the cinematography. I can’t find anywhere that says it was filmed on an iPhone or something similar, but it really felt like it. Certain camera angles felt oddly framed in certain scenes. This got better in the second half of the film, but the first half was really distracting with the framing. The acting is good, nothing special but good. Lorraine carries the film pretty well and really sells her fear at what’s happening around her. Lena Waithe (Master of None) is a standout in the comedy department and produced the majority of the laughs for me. Her role is small but she makes herself memorable with it. Vanessa Williams is actually surprisingly bad in this film and doesn’t really sell her character at all. Despite being called “Bad Hair,” the hairstyling as well as the costumes in this film are really amazing. The film is based in the late 80s and costume designer Ceci (Living Single and Sister, Sister) and hairstylist Shian S. Banks (“Dolemite is My Name”) really capture this time period perfectly. The music choices are also very 1989 which all together really transports you to the time period. Overall, “Bad Hair” is an enjoyable horror-comedy. As a White man, it wasn’t necessarily made for me so I think Black people, and Black women in particular, may find even more enjoyment in this film.



The rat CGI in ‘The Witches (2020)’ is almost as bad as ‘Cats’

“The Witches” is written and directed by Robert Zemeckis (“The Polar Express” and “Back to the Future” Trilogy) and written by Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Shape of Water”) and Kenya Barris (“Girls Trip”) based on the book of the same name by Roald Dahl. The film takes place in 1960s Alabama where an orphaned young boy (Jahzir Bruno) staying with his grandmother (Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, “The Help”) at a hotel, stumbles across a conference of witches and gets transformed into a mouse by the Grand High Witch (Academy Award winner Anne Hathaway, “Interstellar”). I have not seen the 1990 version of this film nor read the source material so this is my first introduction to the story. The plot is interesting, but it does feel like something that would be the plot of a Disney Channel Original Movie instead of something Warner Brothers would make. It does introduce darker elements that warrant this, but the story still feels… off. The CGI is by far the worst part about the film. I say in my headline that it’s almost as bad as last year’s “Cats,” and while it’s not as offensive, the effects here are still very bad. The rats

Photo: HBO Max are almost the level of the guinea pigs in “G-Force,” and that was back in 2009. CGI has come a long way from there in the past decade so there’s no real excuse for this. The screenplay isn’t terrible, but I expect more from it when you have someone like del Toro apart of the writing team. While the film is not in the least bit boring really at any point of the film, some dialogues were just so bad and sloppy. You have some amazing actresses delivering these dialogues with full confidence (more on that next), but they still were laughably bad at parts. That being said, Spencer and Hathaway are easily the best parts of the film Both Oscarwinning actresses give it their all from beginning to end and fully sell their characters. They’re clearly having so much fun and it’s kind of infectious. The kid actors on the other hand, particularly Bruno, are not that great. I hate hating on kids for their performances, but the three here are not that great. Overall, “The Witches” isn’t really a remake we ever needed to see. Spencer and Hathaway are both great and the film is never once boring, but the CGI and overall screenplay severely weighs on the film.




Festival Reviews

Executive Editor: Jordan Woodson

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, many film festivals across the country went virual which gave me the plivlege of attending some and watch some films that are not yet released yet.. Here are a few of the many great films I had the honor of seeing in advance.

HIFF28: ‘Nine Days’ is an absolute 10/10

Photo: Sony Picture Classics “Nine Days” is the featurelength writing and directoral debut of Edson Oda and stars a big cast of Winston Duke (“Black Panther” and “Us), Zazie Beetz (“Joker” and “Deadpool 2”), Bill Skarsgård (“It”), Benedict Wong (“Doctor Strange”), Tony Hale (“Toy Story 4”), David Rysdahl, and Arianna Ortiz. “Nine Days” is a science-fiction drama that follows Duke as Will, a reclusive man who conducts a series of interviews with human souls for a chance for one of them to be born. It’s going to be really hard for any movie this year to top this for me because this is absolutely perfect on every level and perfectly suited for my tastes. It’s so deep, thought-provoking, and the world building is so well real-

ized. This is almost on the level of Sidney Lumet’s “12 Angry Men” as far as directoral debuts go, and that’s high praise coming from me as “12 Angry Men” is in my top five favorite films of all time. I’m someone that loves reality competition shows like Survivor, Big Brother, etc. and this movie plays very much like that, but much more intimate and definitely more deep and emotional. You’re presented with these souls early on and quickly get to know their personalities so I sat there finding myself rooting for certain souls and when one was “eliminated,” it kind of affected me in an emotional way. The way Oda creates these eliminations also helps with how emotional each and every one gets.

The film is one of the most fascinating character studies I’ve ever seen. Each soul is fully develop no matter how long they stay in the “competition” and Duke’s character presents them with so many social dilemmas that I started to ask myself also how I’d react to each scenario he presents. Would I let my child die to save 40 other people? How would I react to being bullied over and over? Why should I be allowed to live over another person? All of this is crafted perfectly in hands-down the best screenplay so far this year. Oda’s writing is so carefully and masterfully thought out from beginning to end. After the screening of the film, there was a Q&A with Oda where he said that he came up with the film based on questions that he asked himself after his uncle committed suicide. Oda’s direction is also topnotch which is helped by some incredible cinematography by Wyatt Garfield, beautiful yet simple production design by Dan Hermansen (“Child’s Play [2019]), and a downright amazing score by Antonio Pinto (“City of God). Every single person in this cast gives it their all. Duke shines in his best role yet playing so quiet and reserve for the vast majority of the film that when his character lets loose, it really has an impact. He deserves a Best Actor Oscar nomination (or maybe win depending on how the rest of the year goes), but sadly with how small this film is, I’m not sure if he or any part of this film will be in the conversation sadly. Beetz also gives her best performance yet in a character that’s incredibly likable while both Hale and Wong are perfect comedic relief. Overall, I don’t have a single thing negative to say about “Nine Days” and I can’t wait to see it again at some point in the future. The film is currently scheduled by Sony Pictures Classics to be released on Jan. 22, 2021 and I highly recommend everyone check it out.

SAVFF: ‘Minari’ is an incredible true story of a Korean family moving to Arkansas

“Minari” written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung and is a semiautobiographical story of his life growing up in Lincoln, Arkansas. The film stars newcomer Alan Kim as David, a seven-year-old Korean-American boy who is faced with new surroundings and a different way of life when his father, Jacob (The Walking Dead‘s Steven Yeun), moves the family to rural Arkansas. His mother, Monica (Han Ye-ri), is aghast that they live in a mobile home in the middle of nowhere, and naughty little David and his sister, Anne (newcomer Noel Kate Cho), are bored and aimless. When David’s equally mischievous grandmother (South Korean legend Youn Yuh-jung) arrives from Korea to live with them, her unfamiliar ways arouse David’s curiosity. Meanwhile, Jacob, hell-bent on creating a farm on untapped soil, throws their finances, his marriage and the stability of the family into jeopardy. Spending the majority of my life in Arkansas (obviously not

Photo: A24 during the 80s) it’s interesting to watch this film and see Chung’s view of Arkansas from his eyes. You’d expect a film about Korean immigrants moving to Arkansas to be riddled with racist white characters and while there is some of that sprinkled throughout, Chung instead paints these racist moments as the characters’ ignorance and less about them being pure racists. Chung shows a lot of respect for the people he grew up with while living in Arkansas which is something new from these type of films. You can feel how personal this film is to Chung and every character and every moment is handled with a lot of care. Listening to a Q&A with him afterwards, the majority of things that happened in this story actually happened in real life which shows just how incredible it is that he and his family made it through all of that. Chung’s directing and writing More on next page

Entertainment are incredible. There are multiple moments that just left me in tears, especially the ending. It’s an emotional rollercoaster in this film as Chung perfectly handles the sad, heartwarming, sweet, and funny moments. I left the screening in tears and I’m sure anyone that watches will too. The cast is incredible across the board. Yeun proves his range as an actor after his appearance on The Walking Dead while Yuhjung proves to American audiences just why she is such a legend in South Korean. Both of these actors deceiver Oscar nominations for their performances

and I really hope they get some. Both child actors are also great especially when you take into account that their is both of their first acting roles. Kim is especially impressive as he is the center piece of the film and is able to carry the movie from beginning to end. “Minari” is a must see, emotional experience from a story that doesn’t get told very often. There is so much to love about this film. It currently does not have an official release date, but should come out sometime in early 2021.



MFF: ‘Wolfwalkers’ proves why we need hand-drawn animation to make a return infectious and I’m really excited for her to get more work in the future. The villain, Lord Cromwell (voiced by Simon McBurney, “The Conjuring 2”), is very generic. He feels like Governor Ratcliffe from “Pocahontas” and probably a bunch of other Disney-like villains. He’s not very well fleshed out at all and I wish we could get more time with him so certain plot elements could’ve been heightened more. Overall, “Wolfwalkers” is a fantastic animated film and one that should definitely be watched. The film comes out on Apple TV+ on Dec. 11.

HIFF28: Regina King’s ‘One Night in Miami…’ humanizes four Black icons


Nov. 15 on Amazon Prime “I Carry You With Me” RePhoto: AppleTV+

“One Night in Miami…” is the feature-length directoral debut of Academy Award and Emmy winning actress Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk” and Watchmen) and written by Kemp Powers based on his own award winning play. The film follows the fictional account of a real life encounter between four Black icons, civil rights leader Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir, The OA), boxer Cassius Clay aka Mohammad Ali (Eli Goree, The 100), NFL star Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge, “Straight Outta Compton”) and singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr., “Hamilton”), in the aftermath of Cassius Clay’s defeat of Sonny Liston in 1964. Regina King is obviously most known and applauded for her in front of the camera work, but she has directed some television in the past, most notably some episodes of Shameless, Scandal, This is Us, and The Good Doctor. With her first time directing a feature-length film, King really nails this as yet another actress/ actor-turned-director. While her directing is no doubt great, my one major problem (and really my one major problem with the film in general) is that it still feels like a stage play in most parts. Similar to 2016’s film adaptation of “Fences”, it seems like it can be hard to stray away from that aspect of bring-

Photo: Amazon Prime ing a stage play to the big screen. This creates some pacing issues in the first two acts, but the third act fixes most of this and really brings it home. King is great in the directing chair, but the real star is Kemp’s screenplay. Each and everyone of these four icons are well realized (which is helped by the acting but I’ll get to that in a minute). His dialogue is so well thoughtout and thought-provoking as the men debate over complex issues like religion, class status, racism and what’s the best way to go about the civil rights movement. All four men give great performances. Kingsley fully embodies Malcolm X, giving Denzel Washington, who perfected the role in Spike Lee’s 1992 biopic, a run for his money. Odom Jr continues to show off not only his amazing singing voice but his acting chops outside of “Hamilton” as well. While Hodge is still good, I did feel like he kind of faded to the background amongst the other three men. Overall, while there are some low points here and there, Regina King’s directoral debut “One Night in Miami…” is a must watch especially for Kemp’s screenplay and the four performances on screen. The film is currently scheduled to come out Christmas day on Amazon Prime

“Wolfwalkers” is written and directed by Tomm Moore (writer and director of “Song of the Sea”) and Ross Stewart(directoral debut) and is set in 1650 Ireland when Ireland was under British rule. The film follows Robyn Goodfellowe (voiced by Honor Kneafsey), a young English apprentice hunter who moves to Ireland with her father (voiced by Sean Bean, “Lord of the Rings” and Game of Thrones) to wipe out the last pack of wolves in the region, but when she saves a wild native girl named Mebh (voiced by Eva Whittaker), their friendship leads her to discover the world of the Wolfwalkers, humans that can spiritually take the form of a wolf while their human forms are asleep, and transform her into the very thing her father is tasked to destroy. Thanks to Pixar, 2D animation has largely gone extinct in the West (at least from mainstream audiences anyway), but recently between Moore’s other animated films along with last year’s Netflix Christmas film “Klaus” (among others), 2D, hand-drawn animation might be slowly making its comeback. “Wolfwalkers” is just another example of why this art form can’t go extinct. Watching this movie is literally like watching a Celtic storybook in motion. You can see with every frame the blood, sweat and tears that was put into drawing each and every moment and

how much painstaking work was put into it. The animation here gives a homey feeling and a type of wonder and enchantment that only 2D animation can provide. The writing is really great from beginning to end. There are moments that had me at the edge of my seat rooting for our protagonists. All the moments helped lead to a really exhilarating and completely emotional final act. It left me in utter tears. I love how unapologetically Irish this movie is. Moore’s previous animated works have all been inspired by Celtic mythology and its no different here. The story of Wolfwalkers, very different from werewolves as you’ll see in the movie, are fully developed in this film and help had to the beautiful animation on display here. Also as a fan of history, I liked how Moore and Stewart incorporated some Irish history into this film by showing the treatment of the British towards the Irish during this time period. It’s not something you learn a lot about at American schools. The voice cast is great. Kneafsey has a really great innocence about her that really matches the character well. Whittaker is the standout tho especially considering that this is only her second acting role ever, her first being a small role in an animated short last year. The energy in her voice was

lease date: Jan. 8 in theater “My Little Sister” Release date: N/A “I’m Your Woman” Release date: Dec. 4 on Amazon Prime “Night of Kings” Release date: N/A “Another Round” Release Date: N/A

Read more of Jordan’s Reviews on his official website:




*As of Ocotber 30




Trojans break Arkansas State winning streak in double overtime tie

Trojans Trojans tie against Louisiana fall flat for Cajuns in double overtime revenge forward took a long shot on goal By Azalea Andrade against UCA that hit the top crossbar, the Little Staff Writer Rock defense scrambled to get Bears Home the ball out of the box, but Julia

Sophomore ALLISON MORRISON (11) steals the ball from rival school. Photo by Maggie Risley

By Azalea Andrade Staff Writer MONROE, La. – The Trojans came in hot with determination after a devastating past game and persevered against ULM as they took their well-deserved 2-0 shutout home–Abril Lucio making her season debut goal. Lucio, a junior midfielder, started pressuring within the first few minutes. At minute three, she made an attempt that hit off the right crossbar but laid the groundwork for what the rest of the game would bring. The pressured continued as Garner, freshman forward, took her first career shot for the bottom right but was saved by the ULM goalie Hailey Hillock. At minute 16, Lucio was once again in the spotlight, scoring the first goal of the game for the Trojans. With a carefully crafted touch, she chipped it just over the ULM goalkeeper and netted the ball into the top left corner, assisted by senior defender

Bergros Asgeirsdottir. Multiple attempts were made by the Little Rock offense with shots on target that were blocked and ended the first half in good standing. With high energy coming off the first half, the second half started off great with midfielder Fanney Einarsdottir launching a shot on goal at the bottom left from a corner kick that was saved by the ULM goalie. The second half was going well but lacked action. That came around minute 70 when the referee marked a foul against ULM which allowed for a Trojan freekick. Redshirt senior forward, Doro Greulich, set up around 30 yards out and secured the ball between the posts and past the goalkeeper’s hands. With a 2-0 lead for the Trojans, they kept pushing through the rest of the game to try for a third goal but ultimately secured their much anticipated and welldeserved win.

LAFAYETTE, La. – The Little Rock soccer team put an end to the six-game win streak for the Lousiana Cajuns as they ended up with a 0-0 draw in two overtimes and collected another point in the conference—proud moment for the Trojans. Because of lightning and rain in the area, the game was delayed by an hour and a half— starting until 8:30 p.m. This did not stop the Trojans from giving their all on both sides, offense and defense. The first half was uneventful with a few shots on goal by both teams and good defense by their goalkeepers. At minute six, senior defender, Bergros Asgeirsdottir attempted the first shot on goal of the match but was stopped by the Cajuns’ goalkeeper. At minute 20, freshman midfielder, Mariella Stephens tried for a goal but was a bit out left of the goal. In the second half, a Cajun

Edholm, sophomore defender, had a great performance delegating the defense. The Trojans had two good opportunities that ultimately did not pan out but were great attempts—both by outstanding player senior forward, Doro Greulich. The first attempt came off a free kick from freshman forward, Skylar Geren, Greulich flicked up the ball but flew too high over the crossbar. Her second chance came minutes later when she effortlessly kicked the ball toward the bottom left of the goal, making the Lousiana goalkeeper dangerously dive to stop the ball. The two overtimes played out monotonously but not without Little Rock leaving their hearts on the field. With so much determination and poise, they proved to be a strong team within the Sunbelt conference.

By Coyunna Jones Staff Writer The Little Rock women’s soccer team took on a rival UCA Bears Sunday. This was the second time this season the two teams met again for revenge. The teams face each other a month ago in Conway Sept. 10 on Thursday. The bears came into Sunday’s game with a two-matching winning streak. Little Rock (LR) women’s soccer team 1-3, 1-1 Sun Belt) was searching to get back Central Arkansas (5-1-1). Although the trojans had many opportunities to defeat the bears the trojans could not stop the bears from scoring which lead them to a 2-0 league victory. The trojans finished the nonconference 2020 season.




Difficulty of COVID19 in college sports By Laura Jansen Guest Writer

Photo by Maggie Risley

Trojan Volleyball takes on Bob Cats By Coyunna Jones Staff Writer The Little Rock women’s volleyball team took on San Marcos, Texas this past weekend October 23rd-24th. Laura Jansen who put down 10 kills behind with Alyssa Nayar who had 13 blocks. The two teams were tied 7-7 in the opening set

before the Texas State Bobcats went on for a 7-0 league. The trojans had extra point but this was not enough to stop Texas State. The second set the lady trojans had extra point with four aces in this set. Two of those sets were by Halee Pedro. This set has led the Trojans and Texas state tied 24-24. The host Texas State

(Bobcats) won this set. Little Rock (LR) women’s Volleyball team stats had more aces and blocks than Texas state (12-1, 7-0) but the bobcats took over with the league 268 to the Little Rock Trojans 117. This match will go down in history for the first time since 2016 the Little Rock Trojans faced a ranking team.

XC shows improvement at Little Rock Open By Chloe McGhee News Editor The UA Little Rock Cross Country team had their final meet before the SunBelt Championship Oct. 17. The meet was UA Little Rock’s home meet, and was held at the old War Memorial golf course. Nine teams participated in the 5k women’s race, with the UA Little Rock team placing third overall, beating rivals Arkansas

State, ULM, and Louisiana Lafayette. Only six teams participated in the men’s 8k, with UA Little Rock placing second overall, also beating prominent SunBelt competitors. UA Little Rock had four top-ten finishers on the men’s team and three top 15 finishers for the women. The course is a notoriously slow course, composed of around 75% hills for runners to tackle throughout the 5 and 8k meets. UA Little Rock run-

ners had an advantage going in, with lots of practice on the rough course unlike the other teams participating, which paid off for the team’s placement. Overall, the team showed impressive improvement since last year’s Little Rock Open and previous meets throughout the year. This meet was the last before the SunBelt Championships, and the team definitely proved they are ready to compete.

Everyone knows how badly COVID-19 has impacted the world. Almost every single country at some point went into lockdown, where people could only go to the store to get groceries. The virus’s economic impact caused a lot of people to lose their jobs. By early fall, the virus’s death toll had gone past 200,000 in the United States and more than 1 million worldwide and, of course, the virus had a big impact on universities, which quickly went online for the remainder of the spring and summer semesters. A lot of universities opened up in the fall, still with a lot of classes only online. This meant that athletes could come back to campus and start practicing again! However, this isn’t and wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Let’s take UA Little Rock as an example. School started Aug. 24, and soon several athletes tested positive for COVID-19. Two whole teams had to quarantine for two weeks, which means they could not practice for those two weeks. Still, fall sports at our university are underway. The season doesn’t look the same as it would without COVID-19, but our teams are still playing several conference games. Looking at how many athletes had to quarantine for two weeks, it makes you realize what a challenge it must be for the athletes to even play. You also have to consider some of the things the athletes are facing. The teams have to travel, the teams have to stay in hotels, the teams practice and play in the same gym and locker rooms, and the teams have to

eat in different restaurants. This makes the chances of them getting exposed to the virus much larger. UA Little Rock Athletic Trainer Jacob Hoy believes it is still safe for our student-athletes to participate in the fall sports with the proper procedures and precautions. “Practicing social distancing and following the guidelines set forth by the state health department and Centers for Disease Control [CDC] are crucial pieces to creating a safe environment for our student athletes and employees,” he said. Hoy believes we will experience setbacks in fall sports the longer the season goes on. “As we have recently seen, I expect events to be canceled because teams encounter an increased number of COVID-19 positive individuals,” he said. As the season progresses, there will probably be new recommendations and guidelines set forth. It would most likely be a challenge for everyone to adjust and adapt to these new policies. Experts expect COVID-19 to still be here in the spring. Hoy believes this fall semester is setting the foundation on how the spring semester will unfold. It’s a difficult time to live in, because we all need to be selfless and keep each other safe. “Biggest tip I can offer to our student athletes is to trust in what others are saying,” Hoy said. “Policies and procedures are put into place to protect. As we progress through this semester there will be many questions. Trusting the answers of the experts and following the protocols will be the key to our success.”



Swimming and Diving faced with an upstream battle during COVID-19

During the off season, the UA Little Rock Swimming and Diving team got together for a socially distant canoe ride down the Caddo River in southwest Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Lily Kerr.

By Jordan Woodson Executive Editor While the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled numerous sports games in the past seven months, pool closures left swimming and diving teams across the nation with very little options for practices and meets. The pool closures for the spring and most of the summer forced Amy Burgess, the UA Little Rock Head Swimming & Diving coach, to come up with new ways for the team to stay in shape during the off season. “Though some sports were able to continue training on their own during the spring and summer, pools remained closed for most of the spring and early summer so our training was done out of the water, which as you can imagine is not quite the same,” she said. Burgess made the team workout outside of the water with weights and running, aka “dryland,” and although they are allowed in the water now, there are still some restrictions the team has in place. “We are keeping roommates together during most practices, wearing masks in the weight room and alternating which side of the pool each lane trains in to keep distance between everyone,” Burgess said. With most of the team back home after UA Little Rock closed

its campus on March 12, the team had to do their workouts all on their own, including senior Lily Kerr who had to go back to her home in South Carolina. “I didn’t have access to a pool because the majority of facilities were mandated to close,” Kerr said. “As a result of this during the spring I did a lot of dryland workouts and did interval-based running to maintain my endurance as I am a distance swimmer.” The time out of the water was difficult for Kerr since swimming helps her cope during stressful times, especially in the middle of a global pandemic. “Swimming has always been something I can turn to take my mind off of other aspects of my daily life and it is an activity I truly enjoy doing,” she said. “It was very hard mentally to not be able to participate in the sport that I love. I think the biggest challenge for myself and the team as a whole during the pandemic is not having access to a pool.” However, luckily enough for Kerr, the pools in South Carolina opened back up in May, allowing her to practice with her former club team after two months out of the water. “Being able to get in the water was something I was very fortunate to participate in as many of my teammates were not able to practice whatsoever,” she said.

“It was very difficult to be out of the water for two months because that is the longest I have ever gone without swimming before.” Not all of Kerr’s teammates were as lucky as her, including sophomore Sylvia Shaw, who had a difficult time finding an open pool in her home state of Oklahoma. “I’m from a non-swim state, so there aren’t very many options for club teams or pools,” she said. “My state went into a two-month lockdown and I wasn’t able to swim at all for that time. Even when the lockdown was lifted, the pool still remained closed for maintenance purposes. That meant I had to find other ways to get cardio in so I wouldn’t lose everything.” While Shaw was able to do her dryland workouts, it wasn’t the same as being able to practice in the water. “As a swimmer, running is a lot harder and doesn’t have the same muscle focus so it’s nowhere near as beneficial as getting actual pool time,” she said. According to both Shaw and Kerr, any significant time out of water can have a huge impact on a swimmer’s performance. “Swimming is different from any other sport for the reasoning that if you take any amount of time off you can start to lose the feel of the water very quickly,”

Kerr said. “I was told as a club swimmer that for every day out of the pool it takes two days to get back to where you were as a swimmer. As a result of this, I think it was really difficult for the team to start to get back to the mental and physical standpoint that we were in before the pandemic occurred.” The amount of time Shaw spent out of the water, she says, definitely had a huge impact on her both psychically and emotionally. “It was discouraging hearing about other teammates who got to practice on a regular schedule or at least three times a week because I felt really behind,” Shaw said. “I didn’t get in a pool until the end of June and I felt super rusty. Even when I did get in the pool I only could swim one to two times a week or biweekly.” Even with the school year beginning, Shaw’s luck still seems to keep going south. “The UA Little Rock pool had maintenance issues when we first got back to school so we still haven’t had a normal practice schedule,” she said. “For the past month we’ve been going to other pools or doing dryland to try and keep in shape. I’m nowhere near the shape I was this time last year but I should bounce back pretty fast.” The pandemic has also had an impact on the meet schedule for the team. The team’s season usually begins in late September or early October, but due to the pandemic, it got shifted to January 2021 with their conference championship moving to April instead of February. “We are still working on final details for a schedule,” Burgess said. “We will not compete in as many dual meets as we normally do. Moving our season allows us more time to train as a team and get everyone back in competitive shape.” Kerr says that the season change not only allowed for the girls to focus more on their technique and strength work training during the offseason, which helped the girls become psychically stronger in and out of the pool, but also helped their bonds become stronger as well. “The change in when our season occurs has allowed the team to have more time to get to know each other as we have been able to take part in events outside of


the pool to better understand our teammates,” she said. One of the more memorable events put on by the team was a socially distant canoe trip down the Caddo River in southwest Arkansas. “The beginning of the year is always a time we focus on growing and developing as a team so incorporating the new with the returners and COVID-19 put a new challenge on getting together,” Burgess said. “We brainstormed as a staff to see what we could do and landed on a canoe trip down the Caddo River.” All the swimmers, including Burgess, say that the canoe trip was a huge success. “It was a great way to keep our distance but also work together as we navigated the chilly waters,” Burgess said. “It was many people’s first time and great to see them work together and improve as they made their way down.” The bonding was especially important as the team saw 12 new freshmen girls get added to the 2020-2021 roster, which presented another hurdle for Burgess as a coach during the pandemic. “Having a few more on the team creates a few more challenges during this time,” she said. “However, we are so fortunate that our aquatic facility allows us to easily space out. The weight room is where things get tight and we have had to create more groups than normal. It is sort of like putting a giant puzzle together, but everyone including the freshmen have been very fluid though everything. We were all so excited to be back together and start training as a team that it makes it all worthwhile.” Kerr says that the freshmen are more than welcomed editions to the Trojan Swimming & Diving team. “This new group of girls have already made a significant impact on our team and I am so excited to see how their contributions can help us to grow as a team this season,” Kerr said. “The team is working hard both in and out of the classroom and we are very excited and eager for in-season practices and meets to begin in January.”

Staff Writer Azalea Andrade

News Editor Chloe McGehee and Staff Writer Alex Ball

Executive Editor Jordan Woodson

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