“Just Be An Activist About It:” Student Projects Exhibited in Coffeehouse

One of the societal issues that were assigned to students for the final in the course was "Women's Rights." They used post-it notes, graphs and photographs for their project, which was displayed in the Campus Center Coffeehouse on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

Galloway, N.J. – Amidst the usual hustle and bustle of the Campus Center Coffeehouse was the culmination of a half-a-year’s work by First-Year Seminar students: an art exhibition and presentations centered around different world issues on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

The general arts and humanities course – Women, Gender and Sexuality, an introductory course to the WGSS interdisciplinary minor – tasked students to create visual presentations using mediums such as photography, illustration, collages and even audio and visual. The students then chose their presentation topics, including LGBTQ+ rights, climate change, women’s rights, sexual assault and cyberbullying.

Rather than having the students present to each other in class, Kristin Jacobson, professor of American Literature, and Sarah Messina, a graduate assistant currently in the Masters of American Studies program and a teaching assistant for the course, decided to have the students present their research and work in the Campus Center as a pop-up exhibition.

“This activism project is a required component for our intro course, and this semester was really fortunate to have Sarah Messina. She really organized all of these projects with her visual arts background in ways that I wouldn't feel as comfortable doing with my background in literature. I really want to say how excited I am to see the student projects and really thank (Sarah) for all her work,” Jacobson said shortly before the presentations began.

This project didn’t just fit in perfectly with Messina’s graduate work that focuses on art and activism – it, along with the introductory course, serves as one of the first learning experiences that undergraduate students in the minor will have in their journey as a student.

Some of the students posing with Sarah Messina (center)

Students during their presentation in the Coffeehouse

Students during their presentation in the Coffeehouse

Students during their presentation in the Coffeehouse

Students during their presentation in the Coffeehouse

A close up on the LGBTQ+ Rights group's presentation "Pride Through Color"

“It's a big, big part of their stepping stone into Stockton, and it really kind of sets the tone for what else they can learn, get into and feel passionate about while they're here. I did my undergrad here as well, and I remember my wonderful first-year seminar, so I think it’s really imperative and important for them as well,” Messina said.

Students said they valued this experience and how it helped them better understand the material that they were covering in class.

“I really enjoyed this project because it helped us connect with not only each other, but with a lot of the problems that we've been talking about within the course. And it helped really visualize it for us, instead of just reading it out of a book or speaking about it in class. We actually did projects on it and could actually connect it to real life,” Isabella Shobe said.

“Before we researched this topic, we didn't realize that climate change was a feminist issue, and once we did, we realized that these countries that we talked about today are not just the only ones affected, but also the ones that should be the front runners for addressing climate change,” Jara Hossain said.

It also taught them valuable lessons about teamwork and the importance of activism along the way.

“We definitely hit a few bumps in the road, and there were definitely struggles getting the material and figuring out what we specifically wanted to do for our project, but I think these challenges that we went through kind of helped us shape and structure a project that was very impactful for sexual violence and very meaningful for a lot of people, even though it can be a sensitive topic,” Jada McKinnon said.

“I really enjoyed doing this project, and I think it went super well. The lesson that I learned was the importance of teamwork and that climate change affects everyone, especially women. Even if you don't see it affecting people around you, it is still affecting people around the world, and you should speak up about it, protest about it and just be an activist about it,” Liz Desimon said.

Lynn Nottage to Students: Replace Judgment with Curiosity

October 28, 2022

Lynn Nottage during the Pappas Visiting Scholar Series
Lynn Nottage during the Pappas Visiting Scholar Series. Photo by Eliza Hunt. 

Galloway, N.J.  On the Performing Arts Center mainstage in front of hundreds of students and faculty, Lynn Nottage captivated and surprised them all with her first story about getting forcefully escorted off of the premises of a mega-church after a heated altercation with the pastor.

“Rather than using his stage to spread love, foster community and make it a sanctuary of healing, he decided to use God as a wedge, hammer and eraser,” Nottage shared. “I felt compelled to let him know that what he was saying was dangerous. I felt compelled to loudly question his hatred.” 

After the exchange, Nottage had a revelation about her complex identity and how that impacts the way she tells stories, which she shared with the audience on Oct. 26 during the annual Pappas Visiting Scholar Series...

This is also the first time the series served as a first-year convocation, something that Leamor Kahanov, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, thought was fitting for the most diverse group of first-year students in the institution’s history. 

“The first-year seminar is integral in our students’ first semesters and their experience,” Kahanov said. “It’s the first intellectual experience shared by the entire incoming class. Each member of the class has read ‘Sweat’ and/or seen it performed and hearing directly from the author today will deepen your knowledge about it.” 

– Story by Loukaia Taylor 

– Story by Loukaia Taylor

– Photos by Lizzie Nealis