Archive for the ‘Schatz, Wiley’ Category

Filling the Gap

By: Wiley Schatz

The Student Government at The University of Iowa has been putting much of their effort into increasing the student body’s awareness of their activities.  With the 21 ordinance being passed, students feel that student life has been affected more this year than it has in a long time and Student Government has been very vocal about the issue in order to

UISG President John Rigby, Photo from: uisg.uiowa.edu

“We have tried to be a presence during the whole 21 ordinance,” Says University of Iowa Student Government President John Rigby, “letting them know we were here for them.  In past years when the issue came up it seemed like UISG stayed out of it and by putting our name in there we put our organization into a lot of students minds.  Increasing our visibility to the students is something that has been very important for us since we have been in office”

Yet with the efforts of the current UISG administration, many students still feel a disconnect between Student Government and the student body.

“I have never really known anything about Student Government,” says Mac Flack, a junior Environmental Studies major, “They don’t really seem to make an effort to inform students about anything that could affect them.”

“It seems to me that the only time I ever even hear about Student Government is during Student Government Elections,” says Theater Arts major Mike Turczynski, “Its like there is one week where I vote for them and then don’t really ever hear about what it is they actually do.”

Student Government has taken many small actions that they feel previous administrations have failed to do.

“We have tried to keep our website as up to date as possible,” says Rigby, “letting the student know who we are and what we are working on.  Also, we have been working with the Daily Iowan; they wrote an article on us and our stance on the 21 ordinance, which his helpful for outreach.  We have been sending out a lot more mass emails in the past couple moths than in years past, which is in my mind the most effective way to reach people.”

Something else that Student Government aims to do in order to grab students attention is try to make themselves aware to freshmen as soon come as come to the school by being part of the effort to enhance Freshman Orientation.

“Orientation will be changing next year,” says Rigby, “Its called ‘On Iowa’ and it will require students to move in a couple of days early and help them get used the campus and entire college experience, not just registering for classes like it has been.”

“Ideally Student would use that period to get a time where we can come talk to the students,” says Student Government Vice President Erica Hays, “introduce ourselves and let them know that we are there.  That could alleviate some of the gap between Student Government and the student body.”

UISG Vice President Erica Hayes, Photo from uisg.uiowa.edu

Another idea that Student Government has been trying to make happen is making an entire week’s wroth of UISG related activities.

“We’ve been discussing for next semester,” says Hays, “having a Student Government Week to step out there and show the different sides and parts of Student Government.  We are still not sure how appropriate that would be but it is something our Executive branch is working on.”

“We have been fairly conservative with our budget spending,” says Rigby, “so something that you can expect from us next semester is to maybe introduce some kind of fun initiatives to get students’ attention.  One thing we have talked about is doing something like the Pan-Hellenic group does when they give prizes to someone if they are wearing a sorority shirt.  I don’t know how we could incorporate that into Student Government, but it could be something to help get the word out on what we do.”

With only a few more moths left in their term Student Government still has hopes to further assert themselves in the student body’s awareness by flirting with the idea of weekly or monthly newsletters and online forums all in the name of building a bridge between the Student government and those they are serving”

“With the ordinance and everything that has gone on,” says Rigby, “I know some students are looking for a leader to turn to and hopefully they can see that in us.”

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Students Keeping Students Safe

By: Wiley Schatz

Since the current executive branch of the University of Iowa Student Government (UISG) has been in place, they have been extremely busy putting plans in place in order to improve student life. In particular they have made efforts in keeping the IMU open for 24 hours, increasing student awareness of Student Government activities, and improving “Welcome Week” for incoming freshman.  One of the primary issues for UISG has been improving general safety awareness among students.  Among the ways that Student Government is improving student safety is by working with Cambus to create a new bus route that will go to the eastside of downtown.

“With the 21 ordinance here,” says President of University of Iowa Student Government John Rigby, “there are a lot of students on the weekend walking downtown from neighborhood to neighborhood just looking for something to do.  We think that a new route on the eastside could be useful to some of them and keep them safe.”

If the plans for a new route do happen, it wouldn’t be the first time that Cambus provided a route of that kind.

“There was an eastside loop that got started last year,” says Vice President of University of Iowa Student Government Erica Hayes, “the intention of that route was to go to sorority houses and apartment buildings.  I think what will be happening in the near future is an adaptation of that route that will fill the needs of some students.”

The main reason why last year’s route didn’t last, was because the economics just didn’t add up.

“It definitely wasn’t cost effective for us,” says Rigby, “It cost us about $14,000 and through the whole year only about 350 people actually used it.  But with the 21 ordinance maybe it will be more useful to people.”

Not So Fast?

According to officials at  Cambus though, a new eastside route may not be likely in the near future.

“It just doesn’t seem necessary for anyone involved at this point,” says Cambus Manager McClatchey, ”There isn’t much demand from students, if we had significant use of our old late-night eastside route, we might be more open to what Student Government has been proposing.”

The ethics of having a bus running downtown on weekend nights is also something Cambus finds questionable.

Iowa Cambus

Iowa Cambus, Photo from: uiowa.edu

“The route originally served more than just the neighborhoods,” says McClatchey, “it wasn’t just a ‘drunk bus’, which is what this route would essentially be.  It was for safety for students going from to and from campus; I am not sure it’s appropriate for Cambus to get involved in that”

Maybe the biggest reason of all that that there are no plans for a new eastern neighborhoods route is that it just doesn’t fit with why they would need a new route.

“Considering we use to have a similar route to what they want now and nobody has asked us about it since we canceled it, we don’t feel there is a strong need for a new route,” Says McClatchey, “a bus just doesn’t make a lot of sense for that situation where people are more scattered and aren’t necessarily in large groups.  We’ve told Student Government that a new cab service might make more sense for people that just want to go travel in small packs and go downtown.”

While Cambus might not be jumping at the idea of a new downtown route on weekends, that doesn’t mean they aren’t working on new ways to help students and keep them safe.  Recently all Iowa City bus services launched a new service called “Bus on the Go” or “BONGO.”

“Essentially what it is is a real time passenger information system,” says McClatchey, “The I.T. department had a poll about what students would like them to work on and the number one answer was that people want bus information.”

With BONGO, students can use their smart phone and locate where all the busses currently are and how long it will take them to get to whichever stop they want.  This way students no longer have to wait at a given stop and hope that the bus will be on time and in turn plan their day much more easily.

“We have been working on BONGO for the last six moths,” says McClatchey, “its something that not only helps the riders, but also help us here in the office.  Before when our dispatchers needed to know where a bust was in order keep things on track they would have to radio in and visualize in their head the positions of all the busses in relation to each other, now they can just see exactly where they are.  It also gives us information that can help us adjust routes in the future.”

Outside of BONGO Cambus is also giving all busses Wi-Fi, replacing older busses, and extending the time they go to Coralville.

Other Plans in the Works

Though east side apartments may not be getting any visits from Cambus anytime soon, Student Government is still working on other ways to keep students safe“Something else that could contribute to greater student safety.

“One of the things were are working on is something called a ‘community walk’,” says Rigby, “it would involved everyone in Student Government and maybe a few volunteer students to walk around the east side on a Thursday or Friday night and look for potential hazards such as a street lamp being out.  Things that the city council might not give much attention.  We could point these things out to them and hopefully get them fixed faster.”

Student safety is a priority to the Student Government at The University of Iowa, after all they are students themselves.  Students will know next semester weather their plans have gone into place.

University of Iowa Looks to Restore Landmark IMU With Help from FEMA

By: Wiley Schatz

The Iowa Memorial Union at the University of Iowa used to be described as the “center of student life.”  Since the Iowa Flood of 2008 however, that has not been the case.  After a devastating flood, the Iowa Memorial Union has had to have many of its features removed, resulting in a large drop in its appeal to students.

The University of Iowa Student Government though along with other university groups, hopes to change that by restoring the Iowa Memorial Union to what it once was and more.

“My freshman year was the year before the flood, and the IMU was the heart of student life,” says President of University of Iowa Student Government John Rigby.  “Students used it to study, eat, even to take naps… we’re really trying to get people to know that it is available and what a good recourse it can be for students.”

We Can Rebuild It

In order to attract more students to the IMU, University of Iowa Student Government has a few ideas they are working on.

“The most important thing for us trying to revamp the IMU and bring it back to the pre-flood level would be the 24 hour availability of it to all students,” says University of Iowa Student Government President John Rigby.  “I think for a long time this campus this campus has lacked that 24 hour building that is accessible to anyone.”

Outside The Iowa Memorial Union, Photo from: flicker.com/iowanews

In fact, the University of Iowa is one of the few Big-10 schools that currently do not have a building on campus open 24 hours every day to all students.  “There will always be a set of doors open along with not all of the building open but most of it, there is an ITC that’s available and plenty of open study space, great for both group and individual studiers.”

Round the clock availability is only part of the plan that to revitalize the IMU.  Making the bottom floor accessible for students again is essential to the buildings restoration.

“That area was kind of the ‘main street’ for the building,” says Associate Vice President and Dean of Students David Grady who has been visiting other Big-10 campuses in order to look at what other student unions offer, “we had about 12,000 people through the building every day before the flood and that was the buisiest area.”

“This Spring hopefully we can get the ball rolling on some of the plans that IMU services has,” says Rigby, “the lower level is going to be complexly redone with a bowling ally and just a bunch of stuff.”

A bowling ally would not be something completely new to the Iowa Memorial Union.  There actually was a bowling alley there in the 1980s, which was later taken out. After a student poll, putting a new bowling alley in the IMU was determined to be a good non-alcoholic alternative for students.

Amongst the “bunch of stuff” planned for the lower level of the IMU outside of the bowling alley, would be mainstream restaurants for students.  Jamba Juice is one the services that is being considered along with other café style food for students.

“Probably the first thing you’ll see on the ground floor is the bookstore,” says Grady, “we hope to have that back by the spring of 2012… the main thing we want to do is get educational materials in the hands of students, that’s our primary function.”

Expanded study areas are also very important, as the “Hawkeye Room” will be re-opened for students to lounge in during the day.

That’ll Cost a Pretty Penny

A project like this does not happen for free, and The University of Iowa is relying on FEMA for coming up for the majority of the funding for the Iowa Memorial Union’s restoration.  In the way of funding the Iowa Memorial Union though is funding for other buildings on campus such as Hancher Auditorium, the Voxman Music Building, and the Art museum.  Also, the university needs to prove that it wont let what happened in 2008 happen again.

The Iowa Memorial Union durring the flood of 2008, Poto from: flicker.com/iowanews

“FEMA requires you to have a plan to keep the disaster from happening again,” says Grady, “so we’ve got a mitigation plan that includes surrounding the building with a flood wall at varying heights.  Another thing we’re going to do is build a terrace outside the River Room so that people could walk outside to eat or study.  It will be a nice view that overlooks the river.”

Now that we are over two years removed from the flood, the majority of undergraduates at The University of Iowa have not experienced the Iowa Memorial Union as the central hub of student activity it once was.

“That’s one of the reasons were really pushing to get the IMU back up and functioning because it’s a critical part of students’ career,” says Grady, “ a college union is really a laboratory where you can apply what you’ve learned inside the classroom to a real life situation.”

Another reason why restoring the Iowa Memorial Union is seen as so important is because it serves to bring together students that otherwise would remain separate.

“The Union helps develop a community; if you’re in Adler or other campus buildings you’re surrounded by just people within those majors,” says Grady, “here its people from all different sides of campus… being that center of op    portunity is one of the things that’s missing.”

This will not be the first time that the Iowa Memorial Union has gone through major renovations.  In fact, this will be the sixth major renovation it has seen in its history.  Considering how many students have not experienced what the Iowa Memorial Union is all about, this might be the most important renovation of all.

Surely the IMU’s traffic will pick back up after the renovations are planned to be finished in the spring of 2013.

Working in Reality

By: Wiley Schatz

“Working in non-fiction allows for me to experience things I couldn’t otherwise,” says Sasha Waters Fryer, Independent Filmmaker and Associate Professor of Cinema and Comparative Literature at the University of Iowa, “I enjoy being out in the world and meeting people with my camera.”

Waters Freyer describes her own work as “a mix of documentary and experimental non-fiction.” For over ten years Waters Freyer has produced four feature length films as well as five shorts.

“All her work seems to have a close personal connection to her,” says long time colleague and Chair of the Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature Russell Valentino “it seems to come out of her in some organic way.”

Making any feature length film is always a huge undertaking, but Sasha Waters Freyer’s latest film, “Chekhov for Children,” has been ambitious enough to take a total of four years to finish.

Rediscovering the Past


Sasha Waters Freyer

Born and raised in New York City, Sasha Waters Freyer studied her undergraduate at the University of Michigan and the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and later earned her Master of Fine Arts degree at Temple University.  She eventually came to teach at the University of Iowa in 2000 where she has remained ever since.

“She’s a very enthusiastic teacher,” says Valentino, exemplifying the positive reputation Waters Freyer has built over the years, “She is also a very conscience colleague; if you need something done she wont let you down, that’s not true of everyone.”

In November of 2005 Phillip Lopate, Waters Freyer’s teacher from when she was ten years old, came to Iowa City as the Keynote Speaker for the “Non-Fiction Now” conference.  Back in June 1979, when Lopate was Waters Freyer’s teacher, she along with a dozen or so other ten to twelve year-old put together a full production of Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya.”

“When he came down here, I rediscovered all the video from that play,” recalls Waters Freyer, “Phillip Lopate had written an essay called ‘Chekhov for Children’ and I wanted to make a film about that production.”

The project required gathering as much archival footage from the class as possible, as well as contacting as many people involved with the production that she could.  “Contacting people wasn’t super hard because of the internet,” Waters Freyer says, “some people stayed in touch so once I got hold a few, the others weren’t hard to get.”

Waters Freyer said that one aspect of making the film that was quite hard was working with older formats; “The hardest part of the project working with dead technologies, things like Betamax that just aren’t used anymore were hard to get footage from.”

Interviews were a weeks work editing took significantly longer

According to Waters Freyer, working on the film was not one continuous process.  “The first interviews were shot in the summer of 2006 but because I was teaching, I had a baby, and have been raising a family I would work on it for a while leave it and come back now and again.”

Hitting the Big Time

Once the film was in a presentable state, Waters Freyer submitted it to the board for the Telluride Film Festival.  “Chekhov for Children” was selected to be part of the back lot of the festival.  “I expected it to get recommended for the smaller festivals,” explained Waters Freyer, “I didn’t think it would actually get programmed.”

Sasha's 1979 Class Photo

Once it was selected to be screened at the festival it was easier for Waters Freyer to finish the film having a deadline.  The biggest obstacle in in finishing the film was obtaining a release signature from one of Sasha’s dear friends and subjects of the film whom suffered from mental illness.  Once she screened it for him and got the signature Waters Freyer was ready to premier the “Chekhov for Children” at Telluride.

“Telluride is great because it’s fairly small relative to how prestigious it is,” just one of the many great things Waters Freyer had to say about the festival, “It has a very non competitive feel, there are no corporate sponsors, and it’s all about the films.”

Since its world premiere at Telluride, “Chekhov for Children” is scheduled to screen at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York City, along with screenings in Huston, Texas, St. Louis, Missouri, and Walla Walla, Washington.

As far as future projects go, nothing seems to be decided yet, “I’ve started reading about refugees in Sweden which could make for an interesting subject… there are some small things in the fire but nothing is planned for right now.”

In the meantime Sasha continues live and teach in Iowa City while raising her two daughters Georgia and Ruby with her husband John.  And other than the few months her family plans to live in Stockholm next year, she doesn’t seem to plan on going anywhere; “I prefer to work outside and in counter to the mainstream.”  Lets just say she has no plans on chasing a big film studio job anytime soon.

Pastor Holds “Burn the Koran Day”

On the upcoming anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Florida Pastor Terry Jones will hold the first “Burn the Koran Day” meeting.

If I were to get an Iowa City perspective, I would want to contact someone at the Mosque in Iowa City.  There are not vary many muslims in Iowa City and would like to see their perspective on the situations and know how they fill the event impacts Iowa City at all. No specific people are listen on their website, but I would call the phone number the have listed if I were wanting to contact them.

I would also want to get an opinion of a person from the Christian perspective on the situation.  The Lead Pastor at the Iowa City Church of Christ is Tom Steele who seems to be esteemed enough to be a good authority on the situation.  Steele obviously deals with many Christians so he would have a very good perspective on what the local christian community thinks of the event.  I found Tom Steel by looking for a pastor in Iowa City through Ask.com.

Sasha Waters Freyer

Sasha Waters Freyer is an Associate Professor of Cinema and Comparative Literature at the University of Iowa.

Waters Freyer recently premiered her most recent film “Chekhov for Children” at the Telluride Film Festival where it was an “Official Selection” of the festival.

The Telluride Film Festival has been held annually in Telluride, Colorado since 1974.  It has hosted screenings and in some cases even premiers of many award winning movies such as “Brokeback Mountain,” “Juno,” and “Slumdog Millionaire”

In many cases, there are surprise premiers at Telluride that are not officially announced along with all of the other films at the festival.  This years festival saw the premiers of Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours”, and Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan.”

Why I chose these Links:

The first link was chosen mostly because it is what Sasha liked to on he own website and for her film.  It also just makes sense that the best way to get information about a film festival would be to go right to their website.  There you can find out all about what they show there, who was there, what the festival is about, how to get there, and so on.

I chose the blog I linked because it seems fairly credible.  One of the main things i noticed about it was that there was a very large number of people commenting on the post, indicating that an even larger number of people actually read it.  Also the language used by the blogger indicates that they are a person who knows a lot about the film festival world.

The Forum I linked to was interesting to me because it seemed like a place reserved for vary enthusiastic people.  Not many forums on the internet right now would be talking about the performance of an actress in a movie that wont get a wide release for another couple of months.  When you listen to people that are that passionate, you may find a lot more insight than if you looked elsewhere.

On top of what I already said all the links are extremely up to date and feel authentic.