Monthly Archives: September 2016

Dude, Where’s my Bike?

Bike Thefts in Gunnison

Mandie Little/Staff Writer

There seems to have been a recent increase in the amount of bike thefts in Gunnison and on campus. People are reporting stolen bikes on social media with the use of the Gunnison Marketplace (on Facebook), as well as the anonymous chat spot known as Yik Yak.

Although it would appear that this type of crime is on the rise, it has been a common occurrence in the valley for quite some time. In fact, between 2002 and 2012, reports of theft averaged close to 300 each year (this includes all theft, not just bikes), but in 2013 and 2014 there was a sharp decline in these numbers with the average being only 145 reported thefts. Although theft is actually on the decline, it is still a serious issue for student and residents of the valley that find themselves in a situation where their property had been unlawfully taken.

For those who have not been a victim of bike theft, it is easier to invalidate the victim because it happens so often that there is almost a sentiment of “you should have known better.”  Often times the theft of a bicycle is referred to as “borrowing,” because it is such a common occurrence.  Many of the post that appear on social media concerning stolen bikes are surprisingly calm. “Someone ‘borrowed’ our shop bike about a week ago and it hasn’t reappeared. Please return it … You can leave it at the bike rack in front of the shop. Thank you!!!”

Many of the locals in Crested Butte and Gunnison have grown used to bikes being taken and later turning up in a random yard or other location. Not everyone is so passive about the thefts though, and some have even called for sting operations using “bait bikes.” One resident went as far as saying, “Bait bikes with poison ivy all over them or something really painful.”

Whenever a bike is taken and the owner posts on social media, blame is quickly pointed back to the owner with comments like “Well, if you had locked your bike it wouldn’t have been stolen.” Then comes the inevitable response that the bike had been locked, and the lock was cut. Suddenly the audience of this post is on the side of the victim, who they previously viewed as being careless and deserving of having their bike taken. So what is one to do if they have taken the proper precautions of locking up, but they are still fearful being victimized? Bike owners in the valley and on Western’s campus are often unaware of an additional step that they should be taking. Registering their bike with the Gunnison Police Department is free and although it cannot prevent the bike from being taken in the first place, it can help by getting that bike back to its owner, when found.

This information can be found at their website, You can come to the police department with your bicycle and obtain a registration free of charge. Calling ahead to see if someone is available may reduce your wait time.

You might be wondering what else can be done to prevent a bike from being taken, so here are a few tips; whenever possible, bring your bike inside with you. This may not be an option during classes, but it is at the dorms or at an apartment. Reducing the amount of time your bike is outside and exposed will reduce the risk of it being taken. If you don’t have a lock, get a lock. Don’t buy just any lock though. Your bike is an investment and the lock that protects it should be as well. There are many locks on the market that cannot be cut. These do cost a little more money, but replacing a bike costs even more. Ultimately the safety of a bike lays in the hands of its owner. Taking proper precautions can save the time, money, and the unwanted hassle that comes when a bike is stolen.

Coming Soon to Western’s Theatre: Assassins, a Musical by Stephen Sondheim

Marisa Cardin / Senior Staff Writer

In the past few decades alone, Western’s Theatre Department has put on hundreds of successful shows. In all that time, the possibility of doing a musical was considered a massive undertaking, due to the fact that not only would the director of said musical have to choose talented actors, but also make sure they were talented and confident singers. In fact, a musical hasn’t been done at Western for over 5 years, the last one being The 21st Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

That is, until this coming October.

Paul Edwards, communications professor at Western, has wanted to direct a musical for years, but never felt as if it were the right time. Now, with his cast and crew in tow, he has begun blocking and rehearsing for the famed Stephen Sondheim musical, Assassins.

In 2004, Broadway star Neil Patrick Harris appeared onstage at the Tony awards to perform “Everybody’s Got The Right,” the beloved finale to the musical. The song speaks of the right that people have to their dreams, even if they are as “insane” as assassinating the President of the United States. The musical includes characters such as John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald, and, as for the other featured songs…well, you’ll have to come down to the studio theatre this October and see for yourself. Look for posters around the school for more information!


Student Instructors Orient New Students to New Adventures

Wilderness Based Orientation had record number of freshmen

Bethany Eveleth / Staff Writer


Summer comes to A close all too quickly for many students, but for Wilderness Pursuits (WP) instructors, the end of summer represents a great opportunity to take a group of incoming freshmen out into the field.

Wilderness Pursuits has created a program known as Wilderness Based Orientation (WBO), which provides many incoming freshman with the opportunity to go out on backcountry and local trips for five days and explore the valley and surrounding areas. So, from Aug. 11-16, 115 total students went out to create community, educate, and explore.

Mitch Stypinski, recent graduate and WP veteran said,“WBO is an amazing opportunity for new students to make new friends, explore the Gunnison valley, and experience what Western and the Gunnison community has to offer.” Students have the opportunity to choose from trips such as mountaineering and backpacking, to whitewater rafting and sea kayaking. There is even a multi-sport option for those that would like a little taste of everything. WBO is a great way for freshmen to meet other like-minded students, to orient themselves to their new home, for instructors to gain field experience and hone their skills as outdoor leaders, and for everyone to find a new community.

“[WBO] was a great way to meet new people,” said Sabrina Hoffman, an incoming freshman from Monument, CO who went on the sea kayaking trip. “It made it a lot easier for me to acclimate to college life!”

WP’s extensive gear library allows for students to try something new that they may not necessarily have the gear for.

The organization’s summer staff spent weeks going through, and doing preliminary gear pulls. Then, Aug. 9 was when the rush began. Instructors prepared for their trips by reviewing participant information, shopping for food, planning routes, and checking and rechecking everything again.

Then, after months of preparation and organization, the morning of Aug. 11 brought 94 freshmen to the front of the University Center, ready to embark on a five day adventure. After safety talks, gear checks, and bathroom breaks, the ten separate trips took off.

“One of the coolest things [about WBO] is that you have all these instructors that have been all over the world for the entire summer, and then we all have the opportunity to come together, and work together on these trips,” said Caroline Doyle, a senior who led one of the backpacking trips. “And, while it is a really great opportunity for the participants, it’s also really great for the instructors to learn from and develop themselves professionally.

On the final day, groups begin arriving back in Gunnison at scheduled intervals to keep things sane at WP. Everyone de-rigs, then the eager freshmen run back to their residence halls to take rewarding, and long awaited showers.

Instructors work as a team to put away gear, sort through leftover food, and clean up most of the tracked in mud, sand, and dirt. After a quick shower, or at least change of clothes, the instructors meet their participants back at the UC for a celebratory meal.

With full bellies and happy faces, all of the groups perform short skits to give everyone a little bit of understanding about what their trips were like. Following the laughter and questions about everyone else’s trips numbers are exchanged and hugs are given as instructors go to take real showers, and freshmen prepare for their first day of new student orientation the following morning.

Ute Hall Jam Sessions

Western students showcase their musical talents.

Stephanie Colton / Staff Writer


Western students have started a semi-weekly tradition of hosting a jam session. This is an informal event where anyone with a musical instrument can show their talent and learn from fellow musicians. The jam sessions are held in the Ute Hall lobby on every Tuesday and Thursday night at 7:30 PM. The sessions typically last an hour, but students are welcome to stay and practice their instruments with each other afterwards.

Those that participate in the jam session bring a unique sound to the group. The sounds of guitars, bass, trumpets, saxophones, drums, and even the cello join together to produce music with genres ranging from blues to swing. Students are encouraged to sing their own improvised lyrics or even beatbox along to the music. The drummers usually start off with a beat, and the other musicians join in one by one to create a unique, new sound. There are no rules to the jam session, so everyone is open to express their creativity.

Participants come from a wide variety of academic disciplines. John Patterson, an arts and marketing student, has played the guitar for seven years. His favorite part about the jam sessions is the fun energy that comes out of it. “People just come for a good time.” Other members, like Noah Ziegenfuss, enjoy the element of improvisation while playing the music. He says that “it’s cool to see people perform music on the spot.” Ziegenfuss, an economics major, brings out his creativity by playing the trumpet. His six years of playing makes for an energetic performance at the jam sessions. Ryan Boucher is an operatic voice major and percussion minor. It was his first time attending a Ute Hall Jam Session on Thursday, Sep 8. He enjoys meeting new people at the sessions. His advice for other “newbies” is not to be afraid of their age or background, or performing in front of others. The point of the jam session is to just have fun.

Newcomers are encouraged to participate just as much as the experienced musicians. Anyone can pick up a drum and join in. The inclusive nature of the jam session brings out the most experimental music, and there’s a lot of support shown by audience members. Luke Skirmants, for instance, attends every week to see his friends and roommates perform. Entire floors of Ute Hall will often attend because the music brings everyone together. Skirmants loves that “it makes the shy people come out.” Audience members enjoy hearing what sounds the wide variety of instruments can produce.  

For anyone interested in learning more about music in an informal setting, the Ute Hall jam sessions provide a positive environment. Everyone there supports creative expression and encourages learning new instruments. It’s also a great opportunity to meet other people with a variety of backgrounds and learn about different cultures and music styles. Anyone is invited to this “bring your own instrument” event.

New Section for Top

School Paper Expanding to Include Political Coverage

Michael Troutman/Staff Writer

Our little paper is beginning a journey. With the goal to ensure our campus stays informed of the political issues that matter to students, Top o’ the World welcomed Michael Troutman on  the staff as our political correspondent. He is a Political Science major here at Western, and is looking forward to the privilege of keeping our campus population informed of the political events and issues that matter to Western students.

Three separate political columns will be appearing in later editions. One will be concerned with national politics; delivering sound reporting on campaign coverage, Supreme Court news and applicable rulings, information on legislation from the Congress and Senate, and also significant events in other states. The second will be concerned with local politics here in Gunnison County, keeping our readers informed about possible pending changes and giving a fresh face to the significance of local politics in our daily lives. The third will be international politics, covering diplomatic relations and conflicts as well as offering commentary on world events with the goal of providing our readers with a context to connect with the world they find themselves in. The second and third columns will leapfrog each other appearing in every other issue of Top. The first will appear in every issue. Every few issues will contain an opinion piece providing our writer’s perspective and offering guidance for how to think through the events we are reporting.

We at Top want to hear from you! What stories do you readers want to know about? There is a lot of grist available to grind in the world of politics. Here are just a few of the ongoing stories currently in the media spotlight: arguably the most controversial Presidential campaign in history is underway, America stands at a crossroads in the House and Senate concerning what political ideology will dictate policy for the next several years; the Sioux tribe protest oil drilling in North Dakota; reformational health legislation is on the table in Colorado presented as House Bill 69; war still rages in the Middle East as the refugee crisis continues to affect Europe; the consequences of Britain’s exit from the European Union are still to be seen; and a myriad more stories. But in the space available some stories will fall through the cracks. We wish to inform our readers of the stories that interest them. Have a tip, or a concern, or an interest? Shoot an email to

Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying, “The only security of all is in free press.” Our hope is to uphold this vision by providing information, commentary, and perspective so that you, our reader, can make calm, informed, political decisions in the service of your best interests.

Music and Art Home

Quigley Hall is ready to inspire students

Grace Flynn/ Staff Writer


The smell of fresh paint and warm lights welcome visitors into the new and improved Quigley hall. Music and Art students are surrounded with new classrooms, new equipment and a place to call their own.

The building makeover addressed the old buildings hazards, allowing students a safe place to learn. The renovations dealt with faulty ventilation and leaks, so art students now have a space with clean air to work.

As the year goes on, more improvements are on the way. The plans for the hall include implementing security measures that will allow the equipment in classrooms to be safe. Upon entering, visitors would soon realize that the building is divided into two sections. The art classrooms are on the west, while the music classrooms are on the east side.

Al Caniff is an art professor who works with 3-D art, sculpting and jewelry design. He has been teaching for 24 years at Western and can remember what the building was like before the reconstruction.

“Art students really needed more space. Some years we had overflowing classrooms, and it was difficult to have room to work and create. The art classrooms have better ventilation so the classrooms don’t fill up with smoke when we use the kilns!” said Caniff.

Students have their own space to practice what they love and are able to keep their supplies safety locked away. The new building is full of practice rooms, and music fills the halls. Art classrooms have new easels, and equipment that will allow students to perfect their work and improve their skills.


Dr. Robert Barrett said, “my favorite thing about the new building is the concert hall. It is named after one of our faculty, John & Georgie Kincaid. It’s going to be a change for everyone on campus! Kincaid hall is what it’s called now compared to the formal Quigley hall.”

Dr. Barrett is a woodwind player who teaches music. “This building offers a comfortable setting for students to learn and grow!” said Barrett.

Visitors are able to explore the halls, sit in on the campus’s band rehearsals and admire the art exhibit on the first floor. The concert hall has optimal seating and gives performers amazing opportunities to show off their stuff. Students at Western are encouraged to explore the hall, and to attend the band concerts and check out their peer’s art work.

The grant that made all of this possible was used well, and students are already making use of the wonderful Quigley hall.

The hall is a great addition to the Western campus and will allow students to explore music and art for many years to come.

Dustin Fife: Meet the Newest Library Director

Roberta Marquette-Strain / Senior Staff Writer


For students, a trip to the library is simple. They show up, peruse through book selections, study with friends, or finish that essay that is due in 10 minutes.

It’s a different story for those who work behind the scenes, or shelves, of the library.

Dustin Fife, Leslie J. Savage’s new library director said, “It’s all about connecting with individuals and helping them where they want to go. Intellectually, in their careers, and in their personal life.” In his new position as Director of Library Services at Western, Fife hopes to make the library as integral as possible to its many patrons.

“I hope to help students get where they want to go with their lives. To create the knowledge that is important to them, to get the experience that is important to them so that they can grow,” Fife said. “I hope to help the faculty to help them move further in their careers. At its very core, a library is a service. An idea that no one really accomplishes anything on their own. That it takes resources, it takes other people.”

This is why Fife is committed to collaborate with anyone who may walk through his door. If he is faced with a question or a request, Fife will work his hardest to answer it.

“I would love for anyone to walk into my office to talk to me about the things they need,” said Fife. “Libraries are about collaboration. Libraries are about engaging with members of the community. That’s what I want to do.”

To accomplish that, Fife has taken the time to get to know Western and its many communities within. That means starting with his own community within the library.

“I want to listen to the staff on what they need now and in the future,” Fife commented.

Renee Barney, the information literacy librarian, mentioned that he has taken a lot of time to get to know the library staff

“He sat down with each of us individually to see what we’re like and what we want to see happen,” Barney said, adding that Fife’s energy and fresh ideas are sure to move the library further.

By taking the time to get to know his staff and the university, he is now a part of the campus community. In addition to this campus community, he loves being a Gunnisonite.

“The community is beautiful and the university itself is beautiful,” Fife commented. “I’ve been to a lot of universities and Western has this incredibly healthy environment for its staff and students.”

Fife mentioned that he has no immediate plans to make any big changes to the library. But his commitment to collaboration, and his ability to help others through library services, is bound to make a significant change.

“My goal is to make the library as integral as possible,” said Fife. “I hope to help students get where they want to go with their lives, to help that faculty move further in their careers and to create the knowledge that is important to them.”

Fife is excited to meet students and help them in the library in the coming years.

Happy Birthday in the age of Facebook:

Mandie Little/Staff Writer

You have 8 notifications! “Joe Schmo has a birthday today. Help them have a great day!” And what if you don’t help them? Will this send a different kind of message, one that says you could care less? Could you care less? Gone are the days of having to remember a handful of important birthdays: mom, dad, sis, grandma, certainly not the guy you had high school chemistry with. You know, the guy whose name you only remember because he friended you one day when he needed some help with Avagadro’s number. In an age of seemingly never ending new forms of social media, people are demanding to be recognized.

Or are they? Does Facebook promote a culture of “look at me, tell me I am special, recognize that we should all be acknowledging the date of my birth!”  How obligated do you feel to send birthday wishes when Facebook has prompted you to “Send them some good thoughts?” Students and staff alike were asked questions about their Facebook use and sense of obligation when it came to these notifications. Here is what some of them had to say:

Megan Bastian, a recent graduate, indicated that she did use Facebook and when asked if she felt obligated to tell people happy birthday she replied, “Sometimes. If I know they said happy birthday to me then I would feel obligated to say it back. There are some people that I’m barely friends with. Then I don’t say it.” It seems that, at least in this case, the prompt from Facebook, combined with the fact that a person had said happy birthday to the respondent in the past could compel a person to send birthday wishes when they otherwise would not have.

Other respondents indicate the same sentiment, concerned about how the person whose birthday it was would feel if they did not wish them well on their special day. Another respondent who uses Facebook claimed that “It depends on who it is. Like if I haven’t seen them in years, Okay. Whatever. Happy birthday. But if it’s one of my best friends I go HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!” said Kira Patillo.

There was a theme amongst the people who answered these questions. Most indicated that it did indeed depended on who it was. There was priority given to family and the closest friends, but not every Facebook friend was deemed worthy of the birthday greeting. Cindy Whitney, a Sociology professor and the face of the Criminal Justice Program at Western admitted that “weirdly, I do feel obligated to wish someone a happy birthday.” No one mentioned “hiding” their own birthday on their account, which is an option.

There is certainly a convenience in the birthday alert feature of the social media site. It is a little less convenient for the greeting card industry, however. They rely on people sending a more personal birthday wish in the form of one of their cards. The greeting card business has suffered greatly with the advent of social media, where you no longer have to go to a store and stare at the options under the appropriate birthday category: Birthday Grandson, Birthday Wife, Birthday Friend. Even clever cards playing a tune are no match for the convenience of receiving daily notifications.

Yes, social media users have been freed from that burdensome trip to the store, and a last minute realization that it is someone’s birthday is no longer an issue. Social media keeps us all in the know, even when we don’t care to know.

24 Hours of Blood, Sweat, and Talent

The 24-Hour Play Festival was a true demonstration of mastery in theater.

Marisa Cardin and Kennedy Sievers/Senior Staff Writers

Western holds a lot of talent in many areas, and recently that talent was displayed in every facet of the theater world during the 24-Hour Play Festival. Top o’ the World interviewed three members of the Communications Department about their journey through the festival. Which premiered the second weekend of school, it was a long, grueling, and incredibly rewarding process.

Bella Lewis, playwright, explained the 24-Hour Play Festival as this, “You get some theater kids together and assign the roles of either writer, actor, director, or tech. Then the writers stay overnight to write a 10-minute play using photos of cast members they received randomly, the directors draw one of those scripts randomly and prepare to direct it, and then the actors use the remaining hours to memorize their scripts and prepare for performance.”

Graeme Duke had a bit of a different role to play: “As a member of the PEAK Productions board, my first responsibility as to help run the overall proceedings of the play fest. I also volunteered to direct one of the scripts, “Love to Spare”, written by Ben Pressnall.”

“As a first time director, I was very nervous every going into it,” Duke explained. “Quickly I began to fall I love with it though! The ability to adapt someone’s script to the stage, and do character work with my two amazing actresses was an amazing experience.

When asked what his favorite part of the festival was, Duke said: “My favorite part had to be seeing my actresses Morgan Milmore and Marisa Cardin take the stage after all of their preparation and see them put on some amazing performances! I love those girls and they deserve all the praise in the world.”

When asked what her experience with writing was, Lewis explained: “I spent 8-11 pm eating snacks from the machine while staring at a blank screen hating myself for not being able to decide what to write about, then 11-3am high on black coffee typing out words like my hands were possessed by that mermaid on the Starbucks cup, who I believe to be the goddess of coffee. However, this is the normal way of writing for most, so do not fret for my health.”

The outcome of her play, entitled “One More Lie”, was a very rewarding experience for Lewis. “I believe, with or without time constraints, that my play couldn’t have gone better. It was exactly how I imagined it, and honestly, seeing my play produced so perfectly, having my characters literally come to life before me, and seeing the way the audience was affected by it was an experience that I will always hold as one of the best in my life.”

Lewis continued by saying, “It probably seems like an overreaction to say that, but I believe every person has a moment that forces them to decide what they’re going to do with their life after a period of floating through the universe with no set directive. I believe that this moment, for me, was the 24-Hour Play Festival.”

Marisa Cardin, Junior, acted in a play called “Love to Spare”, written by Benjamin Pressnall. It was a two-person play about coworkers at a bowling alley who discovered their feelings for each other in the throes of a stressful day at work.

Cardin has acted before, but has never attempted anything like this. “I loved the challenge of having to block and memorize an entire script in less than a day. I’ve never been more nervous before a show then I was for this one; partially because I knew that the writer, also a good friend of mine, was in the audience, and I wanted his show to be as perfect as I could make it.”

The time limit was not an issue for her despite the stress. “I feel like we worked really well with the time we had with the script. As much as I wish we had more time, the 24 hour time limit was what made the whole thing so rewarding.”

Cardin’s favorite part of the experience was interacting with her teammates on their script. “My favorite part was getting to work so closely with my director, Graeme Duke, and co-actor, Morgan Millmore. I feel like we really understood what everyone wanted out of the show we were working on, and it was really cool to feel that come to life on stage.”

It seems as if every member interviewed was interested in coming back the following year for more. Cardin is very interested in the opportunity to participate next year. “I would love to do it again, and I want to experience 24 hour as a writer or a director, because I think they’re all equally challenging and rewarding.”

Duke and Lewis had similar sentiments.

Lewis said, “It’s an incredible experience in infinite ways. You get to bond with incredibly interesting, talented people, and you get to see your hard work put on and appreciated. I pity anyone who’s been in the Communications and English departments that either couldn’t make it to the initial meeting or chose not to.”

“I definitely have the directing bug now!” said Duke. “This whole experience from taking scripts in their early stages to the final performances in only a day was very stressful, but so fulfilling! I hope people who saw the performances feel inspired to participate next year!”