David Wilcox, an award winning singer-songwriter, will take to the GAC Black Box Theatre stage on Wednesday, February 8 at 7:30 pm. This Cleveland-born father was first inspired to play guitar after hearing a fellow college student playing in a stairwell. Now 18 records into a career marked by personal revelation and wildly loyal fans, his lyrical insight is matched by a smooth baritone voice, virtuosic guitar chops, and creative open tunings. A concert not to miss. Tickets on sale now! $25/advanced & members. $30 at the door. Box office tickets at gunnisonartscenter.org, 102 S. Main St. or by calling 970-641-4029.
December incident resulted in a conduct hearing
Roberta Marquette-Strain/Senior Staff Writer
A Western student responsible for vandalizing two stairwells in Colorado Hall has gone through a University conduct hearing after coming forward. Due to privacy rights, the student has been kept anonymous and the result of the hearing is unknown. However, Dean of Students Gary Pierson said that at Western, there is zero tolerance for this type of behavior.
The graffiti was found the morning of Sunday, Dec. 11 by two Colorado Hall Resident Assistants (RA), who notified two Resident Directors (RD) immediately. In an email to the student body sent out Dec. 16, Pierson wrote that the graffiti contained “inappropriate language, hate speech, profanity, and racist comments.”
Escalante Terrace RD Jonathan Stubblefield said that the RAs immediately covered up the comments with paper. Due to the nature of the incident, the Gunnison Police Department was contacted and assisted the Residence Life staff in an investigation. According to Stubblefield, the investigation consisted of asking residents if they had seen anyone hanging around the stairwells prior to the incident, which gave them a few key people. The student responsible admitted to it that Monday and the hearing was later that week.
Pierson explained to the Top, “I think we dealt with it very efficiently and professionally. There was an immediacy to our response.”
After discovering the incident, Stubblefield sent out an email to the residents of Escalante Terrace explaining what had happened and offered support to anyone who might need it, pointing them in the direction of the residence staff and the counseling center, as well hosting an optional meeting for the residents the next evening.
Stubblefield said he had never seen anything like what was written. “I’ve heard about similar incidents on other campuses but it’s definitely hard to see it on your campus, let alone the building you manage.” Despite the intent of the comments, the Colorado residents responded positively and wrote messages of acceptance and inclusion on top of the paper.
One Colorado resident, Shawn Ashmore, said that he was saddened by the hateful language that was written and that it was written at all. “The more we’ve advanced as a culture, the more covert things like racism have become, so it was hard to see it so overtly out there.”
Daizie Tuomala, a freshman who resides in Dolores Hall, had a similar reaction and was “shocked” and “confused.” She said, “I never pegged Western to have something like this happen.”
Pam Gonzales, an RD for Ute and Robidoux, was on call when the graffiti was found. Gonzales also serves on a Social Justice and Diversity committee for the Association of Intermountain Housing Officers, a regional student affairs organization. She said that two days prior to the incident, she was on a conference call with other committee members who discussed the recent increase of acts of discrimination that they had seen on their campuses following the recent presidential election. Gonzales believes that Western has been able to avoid these types of incidents because, “we are a smaller institution and we try to focus on individualized attention and make sure that students feel that they matter.”
The student’s motive is not known. However, Stubblefield has noticed that the incident sparked a discussion on the topics of racism, hate speech, and prejudice, and is planning to create a program for his building to begin tackling these issues.
The Student Government Association is also planning to address these issues campus wide through the “Moving Mountains” initiative. “It’s supposed to empower students as well as educate them on behavior and language, and to make sure people know that this is a diverse and open community,” Pierson explained. The initiative is planned to have a “kick-off” event and inclusion walk February 22.
Western students respond to alleged discrimination
Marisa Cardin / Senior Staff Writer
Earlier this week, The Denver Post published two articles which included allegations of discriminatory remarks made by Western President, Dr. Greg Salsbury. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently filed a lawsuit against Jackson National Life Insurance Company, Dr. Salsbury’s former employer, under probable discrimination against female and black employees. This discrimination occurred under recruitment, promotion, and hiring within the company, which has over 5,000 employees.
Seven plaintiffs accused Jackson supervisors of making racist and discriminatory remarks. The plaintiffs were all black, and were allegedly denied promotions and bonuses throughout their years at Jackson, and were demeaned and fired when this information was brought forward.
Dr. Greg Salsbury, President of Western State Colorado University, was accused of allegedly making such discriminatory comments. At the time, he was the Executive Vice President of Distribution for Jackson. When two of the seven plaintiffs asked him about the possibility of external wholesaler openings, which would have ultimately led to higher salaries, Dr. Salsbury is alleged to have replied that “it was unheard of for black employees to make over $100,000.” Jackson also closed its office in Atlanta, a closing that was apparently the result of the hiring pool being “too black,” according to an alleged statement made by Dr. Salsbury.
In a recent email statement to Top, Dr. Salsbury stressed the importance of diversity within Western specifically. “I just wanted you to know that the allegations of my remarks are absolutely false and do not reflect the commitment to diversity that I bring to Western every day,” Dr. Salsbury wrote.
Top reached out to students and faculty alike to hear their opinions on the matter. Members of the Multicultural Center were approached, due in part to their dedication to exploring and celebrating different cultures and races. When asked about their initial responses to Dr. Salsbury’s alleged comments, this is what they had to say.
Santiago Sierra, sophomore at Western, said that he was “surprised to hear of the situation, especially considering the president’s extensive resume. The allegations made against him are really shocking, because he’s one of the people trying to promote diversity on campus.” Sierra said that these allegations weren’t helping the president’s cause. “Dr. Salsbury serves Western,” he said. “If it’s true, kids aren’t going to brush this off.”
Another member of the Multicultural Center, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the situation would create more barriers. “Hearing this news will just mean that students of color will have to prove themselves more, even if they’re afraid to stick out. I wasn’t shocked to hear about this, especially after the results of the election,” they continued, revealing that rhetoric like this was nothing new to them. “I’ve experienced discrimination before at Western. I was walking home and some people called out and told me to ‘go back where I came from’. It made me feel unsafe, and it makes me feel uncomfortable sometimes being the only person of color in class, or in my major. [Hearing this news] makes me question if this campus is even taking diversity into account,” said the anonymous student.
Gary Pierson, the Vice President for Student Affairs, responded through an email to Top regarding the alleged incident. “The events of the past week related to the Jackson National lawsuit have been troubling for the campus community,” Pierson wrote. “President Salsbury has emphasized in our discussions that his former employer, Jackson National Life and not Dr. Salsbury himself, is being sued. Nevertheless, these events affect us. I want to affirm that we, as an institution, not only welcome having a diverse and inclusive community, but that this is integral to our purpose and mission,” he continued. “Western has the mission to provide opportunity for all our students to meet their potential in their studies, careers, and lives. And we are better when our educational community includes diverse voices from diverse backgrounds. This is who we are. We need to continue to work toward and be vigilant with respect to these principles,” Pierson wrote
“If what Salsbury said is true, I’d be worried for the safety of people of color here,” Top’s anonymous interviewee said, when asked how this situation could affect future or current students of Western. “Parents are going to question the school’s values and we’d potentially have more students transferring out of Western. There will be angry parents, and angry students. The Multicultural Center is a safe zone,” they explained, “where we can be free and be ourselves. I don’t want people to see Western as a racist community. If what he said is true, it shows that discrimination is still alive and strong. But if it isn’t true, I want the president to be more involved with diversity on campus!”
“If the allegations against Dr. Salsbury are true,” Santiago said, “students are going to think that [discriminatory comments] are okay… because the president has already done it. It’s just going to further encourage racism.”
Takano Salat, a junior at Western who had joined the conversation halfway through the interview, agreed immediately, “we’d be represented by someone with those [discriminatory] thoughts. I don’t want that.”
Sierra agreed. “I hope these allegations aren’t true, I don’t want them to be true. It just makes another reason for students to be discriminatory towards each other. It justifies that behavior.”
In Pierson’s email to Top, he encouraged the Western community to provide positive and welcoming messages to each other, despite the situation. “We want to affirm and ensure that our students, staff, and colleagues understand that we value their importance as a part of what we do, no matter their background,” Pierson wrote. “This is our mission, and integral to who we are.”
Dr. Salsbury, similarly, concluded his statement with a note of his pride at Western’s diversity. “Upon my arrival, I spearheaded our new strategic plan which specifically established improved diversity as one of the key initiatives – and I am very pleased that we have made increases in diversity of the student population each year since. My sincere hope is that this will not distract us from our progress.”
For follow up information, visit http://top-o-the-world.com/ between now and Top’s next print issue, released on Feb. 17.
Animated adventure looks fun, but doesn’t break new ground for animation
Sam Thornley / Staff Writer
The Secret Life of Pets offers up the entertaining premise of what pets do when their human owners aren’t around. Unfortunately, while there is some fun to be had, the film never fully delivers on the potential it offers to the audience. Starring a voice cast that includes Louis C.K, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, and Jenny Slate, the animated film by Illumination Entertainment was released on July 8, 2016 and is due to hit home media platforms on December 6.
The film centers on a Jack Russel Terrier named Max, whose comfortable life is flipped on its head when his owner buys a mongrel named Duke. When the rivalry between the two causes them to get lost in New York City, they must work together alongside other pets from their neighborhood to return home while avoiding the deranged Snowball, a rabbit who leads an army of stray animals.
If there is one thing that stands above all else in this film, the animation is extremely well done. The fur on the animals pops out and the skyline of New York is very detailed and looks accurate. Additionally, there is a certain energy to the animation that is highlighted during the animals’ interactions with their environment and each other.
The voice cast of the film manages to do fine with the material they are given. Louis C.K. and Stonestreet manage to play off each other very well and are likeable in their performances as Max and Duke, which helps benefit the developing friendship between the dogs. Kevin Hart and Jenny Slate shine as the hyper actively psychotic Snowball and the fiercely determined Gidget, who stops at nothing to find Max and express her feelings for him.
The humor is hit or miss, ranging from being clever to other times juvenile and crude. This is best demonstrated in the animal personalities playing off stereotyped behaviors such as the dogs finding sausage hallucinogenic, or even defying them in the case of Snowball and his violent antics. The mix and match of different behaviors manages to make the animals enjoyable in their shenanigans as they exhibit more common animal behaviors while having the added of humor of talking as they do so.
On the other side of the coin, the biggest pitfall of the film lies with its over reliance on crude humor and slapstick. Several instances of the film revolve around the animals attacking each other or being hyperactive, which causes an excess of energy and eventually gets irritating. Additionally, there are more jokes revolving around animals and their bodily functions than adult would be comfortable with, which ends up making the humor fall flat and seem rather childish.
The Secret Life of Pets also suffers from the pitfall of not doing much to expand on the theme of talking animals that other films have not done in a meaningful manner. While the animals do act like animals, this largely serves the purpose of just being the set up for jokes and the ability to speak is just an added gimmick. Additionally, not much is done to expand on the possibility of humans and animals interacting, as the animals are largely on their own for most of the film.
Finally, the plot of the film is rather basic and is nothing that will surprise the viewer, as the idea of two rivals becoming friends through a journey has been done by many animated and live-action films alike. Therefore, it just comes across as a repeat of what other films have done and feels rather stale with nothing new to offer besides some animal jokes. Not helping matters is that the film brings up a subplot revolving around abandoned pets seeking revenge on humans for neglecting them, but instead treats it as a side joke rather than turning it into a conflict that could flesh out the characters.
Most glaring of all, the film lacks character development for its animal stars with the exception of Max and Duke. The animals don’t get any real challenges to their character and remain pretty similar in personality throughout, lacking any sort of growth or change. Even Duke and Max’s developing friendship is fairly superficial, as it isn’t any more complicated than a typical enemies become friends type of development.
Overall, The Secret Life of Pets has some occasionally good jokes along with good voice actors and animation, but not much substance. Considering animated films have shown they are capable of much more than just being distractions for kids, it feels all the more disappointing. The film will kill some time for an hour and a half, but ultimately there are much better films to spend time watching instead.
Western students get involved in local environmental projects
By Jeremy Wallace
A cool breeze from the West picks up the dry smell of sawdust from dozens of teepee poles being sanded and prepared for raising. College students and other volunteers work tirelessly on their small projects, conversing about upcoming assignments and wondering, just how does one raise a teepee, anyway? It’s a busy day at the Coldharbour Ranch, 332 acres of property East of Gunnison owned by the Coldharbour Institute. The ranch is a center for educating people about sustainable practices and the future site of Coldharbour Institute headquarters. The teepee that is about to be raised will serve as a unique gathering spot for outdoor environmental classes.
“I wanted to raise more awareness about the institute,” said Michela Shultz, an environmental studies major in-part responsible for organizing a group of Western State Colorado University students to volunteer for the project. Shultz and many other students in Western’s Environment and Sustainability program are learning how to organize service projects, and collaborate with institutions such as Coldharbour helping to bring sustainable living practices to the public eye. “I’ve been passionate about the environment and lessening human impact since I was in fourth grade,” said Shultz. “I’ve learned a lot of skills [at Western], from big research projects to environmental policy.”
Service projects such as Shultz’s are a step in the right direction for Coldharbour Institute, a small sustainability-minded organization in the early startup phase.
“There is always more work to do,” says Briant Wiles, Director of Land Management for Coldharbour. “During service days we get a chance to expose more people to the property, and the potential for future engagement while talking about what it means to promote sustainable living practices.” While Coldharbour is still currently in a developmental stage- gaining financial stability and creating a strategic plan for the future- it hopes to soon expand educational programming and form partnerships with organizations in the valley that will foster sustainable living movements and ideas.
As the three initial teepee poles are hoisted up and set in place, the crowd of volunteers look on with the satisfaction of seeing a project completed. Without numerous people helping with small tasks, this process could’ve taken the small staff at Coldharbour multiple days- but many hands made light work, whether raising a teepee or creating sustainable living practices for people in the Gunnison Valley.
Film provides action and characters, but is lacking polish needed for long-term appeal.
Sam Thornley / Staff Writer
The Magnificent Seven proposes an amazing adventure with unforgettable characters, but is ironically nothing special. A reimagination of the classic 1960 Western of the same name, the film stars an ensemble cast that includes Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Haley Bennett. The film is directed by Antoine Fuqua and was released on September 23, 2016.
Set in 1879 during the Wild West, a California mining town is terrorized by corrupt industrialist Bartholomew Bogue and his gang of hitmen. Angered after a raid claims her husband, townswoman Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) recruits a band of seven outlaws from varying backgrounds to train the town’s civilians and drive out the bandits.
Among its strengths, The Magnificent Seven manages to provide some decent characterization to its titular seven heroes and makes them all distinct in appearance in and personality. From Denzel Washington’s stone cold bounty hunter to Chris Pratt’s charming trickster Josh, all of the seven are a unique and colorful bunch that are fun to watch together. While this characterization is nothing more than surface level archetypical behavior, the viewer is never confused as to which character is which during the run time.
In addition, while nothing spectacular, the actors do a commendable job in their roles. Denzel Washington comes across as convincing in his role as hardened bounty hunter Sam, while Chris Pratt is simultaneously charming and funny. In addition, Vincent D’Onofrio plays an over the top, but endearing role as wild man Jack Horne, and Byung-hun Lee steals the show through the fighting prowess of Billy. In fact, the actors and their talent assembled together is good enough that one might be convinced they are too good for this sort of film.
If there is one thing the film does right, it’s the action scenes the Magnificent Seven get into. Gunshots rebound and spread all over the place as the characters fight to survive, along with a healthy dose of dirty fighting that allows the fights to switch from gun duels to brawling at will. The added creativity, combined with the steady and focused camera work, make for some entertaining sequences that will catch the audience’s attention.
While these sequences and characters provide a great foundation to build on, The Magnificent Seven does not do much with its interesting characters. Notably, Haley Bennett’s Emma has the potential to have an engaging character arc rivaling the presence of the band of heroes, but largely stays out of focus once they arrive. Considering the Seven are assembled based on her desire for revenge, it seems like the movie forgets why she was even there until the climax requires her to battle the bandits alongside the band of heroes.
Another issue is that aside from the battle with the bandits, the Seven do not face any real hardships or developments that force them to change in character. Rather, they get along rather well with everyone and have no dark secrets or traits that could make them distrust each other or make them consider not helping the mining town. Considering the diverse heroes include an African American bounty hunter, an exiled Comanche warrior, a Mexican bandit and an ex-Confederate soldier to name a few, the film could have gotten more mileage by having the heroes be in conflict with each other over their differing backgrounds.
Finally, the film plays rather too close to traditional Western and action conventions to be its own thing. The plot is little more than the same basic steps followed by the original Magnificent Seven, to the point that some dialogue matches up. On top of it, the film contains the old familiar ride off into the sunset and a rather one-dimensional evil villain too common among formulaic action films.
Overall, The Magnificent Seven isn’t quite as magnificent as its title suggests. It’s too formulaic and suffers narrative problems while simultaneously offering some fun action moments. It’s not terrible, but not outstanding either. It is the type of film that will be good for a single viewing, but not strong enough to engage viewers on repeat viewings.
I don’t go to your school. I haven’t been in college since 1971. I’m a registered Independent who’s so worried about this election that I’m contacting college newspapers in swing states. I hope you will indulge me.
I was a fervent Bernie supporter. Since he lost, I looked into my options and here is what I discovered: Of the candidates: Trump is completely unacceptable. I decided against Stein because she isn’t on the ballot on all fifty states. I discovered that Johnson’s platform has great social policies, but plans to eliminate Social Security, Income Taxes, financial and environmental regulations, and privatize education.
I have always had doubts about Clinton, because she has been part of the political machine for so long. Still, she is competent and has done much for women, families, and children. And, Bernie got most of his issues into her platform.
I recognize change will be incremental with her, but that seems so much better to me than the sweeping terrible change Trump would bring. To international security, the environment, choice, gay rights, police-community relations, immigration, and everybody but the 1% – to name a few.
I’m all for a principled vote and have concluded that the principled vote for me is to keep Trump out of the White House. It is too crucial an election for me to not vote or to help Trump by giving my vote to a third party.
I’m voting for Clinton. Please consider voting for her, too.
The Gunnison Valley Wellness & Health Guide launches online on Oct. 27, offering a comprehensive listing of services to the people of the Gunnison Valley.
The online directory ( www.gvwellnessguide.org) is housed on the Gunnison County Public Libraries’ website. Because the idea of “health” is so broad, and so personal, the team working on the guide realized that it needed to include multiple categories. These categories include physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual well-being, as well as basic needs such as where to find food, exercise/recreation, education, and companionship. “The last category was especially challenging,” said Maryo Gard Ewell, project coordinator. Ewell is director of programs at the Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley (CFGV). “We knew that an important predictor of health is whether people feel they belong in a place.” As a result, the “Get Connected” category identifies support groups and clubs, as well as suggestions on how to locate other places to connect that might not be listed.
The team also recognized the diversity of approaches within each category. There are almost 600 listings in the Guide, the result of months of research and verification. The Guide had its roots in two initially unrelated projects. The first was the “Health Equity” committee of CFGV in which a group of volunteers studied ways in which equitable access to health care could be achieved. The second was the One Valley Prosperity Project (OVPP), where people identified “Community Health & Equity” as an action area – with a resource guide as an objective. The two committees merged, and the Guide is the result.
Pam Montgomery, Executive Director of CFGV, noted that some volunteers, like Emergency Medical Technician Arden Anderson, contributed as many as 200 hours gathering, validating and organizing information. “It was a total team effort,” she said. “Healthcare providers, Western students, representatives of the League of Women Voters, nonprofits, government representatives, ministers, County Public Health staff, and so many more helped. It will be updated quarterly.”
Cash and in-kind support for the Guide has been provided by El Pomar, the Gunnison Country Times, the Gunnison Country Shopper, the Gunnison Public Libraries, and The Colorado Trust.
Western Welcomes the First Circle
Staff Writer/ Grace Flynn
On Oct. 20, fifteen students at Western were inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa’s first circle of the year (OΔK). OΔK has more than 285 active circles at colleges and universities across the United States. OΔK remains committed to developing campus leaders who will become tomorrow’s community leaders.
These students at Western not only had high academic achievement, but also participated in campus leadership in one or more of the five phases of campus life: Scholarship, Athletics, Campus or Community Service, Social or Religious Activities, Student Government, Journalism, Speech and the Mass Media, Creative and Performing Arts.
Membership is open to faculty, staff, alumni and graduate students. So not only were Western students inducted, but also was Gary Pierson, Greg Salsbury, Sara Philips, and Annie Westbury. This makes OΔK unique because it gives students a chance to have a diverse cross-section of the campus community. It strengthens each circle and allows students to learn from people in different stages of life.
Western is just one of the five universities in Colorado to be part of an OΔK circle, and one of the 302 colleges and universities across the United States.
The event took place in the University Center Theater. Students and faculty being inducted were sat in the first two rows. Together they took a pledge to the circle and Western to keep being the great leaders they are. As Salsbury said “To be a leader takes courage.” These students were nominated by Western staff who note their dedication to the university and to their education.
The students inducted into the circle were Alejandro Alejandra, Hannah Braden, Sara Coblentz, Scott Doyle, Isabel Engeman, Bryan Gray, Alma Johnson, Courtney Kauffman, Kelly Limberg, Chelsea Meininger, Chevy Mohr, Hannah Montoya, Peter Noon, Emma Sellen, and Brenda Suarez.
During the ceremony these students accepted a certificate explaining their involvement, and signed a plaque that will hang up on campus. OΔK provides a chance to network with other campus leaders engage in leadership development training and resources, career resources including access to a jobs board, internship opportunities, and mentoring platform, as well as opportunities to explore career options through strategic alliances and partnerships, and an honor that speaks for itself—via the stole students wear at graduation or the three prestigious letters that appear on a resume.
Western students are now able to be recognized for their achievements and have support to further themselves on campus, and in the work field. Western plans on continuing the growth of the circle for years to come.
Western students prepare themselves for the professional world.
Stephanie Colton / Staff Writer
Over the course of the last two weeks, Western’s Career Success program coordinated multiple events to expose students to new employment opportunities. On Thursday, Sept 29, a group of business students attended the Colorado Business School Career Fair at the Mile High Stadium in Denver. Approximately 30 students traveled with the School of Business to seek out potential employers, chaperoned by Business Career Success director Chelsea Dalporto-McDowell and Career Services coordinator Mariah Green.
The Mile High Stadium hosted over 175 companies seeking both graduate and undergraduate students for internships and full-time positions. The employers came from various industries including finance, real estate, hospitality, and technology. Xcel Energy, Charles Schwab, and Scottrade were among the many well recognized and reputable companies that attended the career fair. Students had the opportunity to learn more about these businesses and network with their potential future employers. Many students were interviewed on the spot by employers for internship or full-time positions, and some were even offered positions after their interviews.
This opportunity allowed students to get into contact with companies that they may not have access to regularly. Many employers expressed that they would choose those who attended the Career Fair for consideration first out of other job applicants, because they showed initiative and a motivation for being in a professional work environment. The event gave students a head start on their job searches, as the end of the year is typically when employers seek new hires.
Career Awareness Week kicked off with mock interviews to prepare for Resort Recruitment Day on Tuesday, Oct 4. Students that were interested in job opportunities in Crested Butte met employers in the Borick Business Building to interview for a variety of positions. A study abroad fair was also held in the University Center. Career Services also hosted a workshop in Taylor Hall about fixed mindsets versus growth mindsets, and how they can affect goals and decision making. On Wednesday, a workshop for finding jobs and internships was held in the University Center. An information session about Target Corporation’s internship program was held in Borick, hosted by a previous intern, Alex Peot. On Thursday, students could learn about opportunities to further their education at the Graduate School Fair, followed by an information session about the Boettcher Teacher Residency. The week-long event closed with an open house hosted by Career Services, where students could learn about the resources available to them.
Western’s Career Services offers many helpful opportunities for business students as well as any other students looking to get their foot in the door of the professional work environment. Students can fine-tune their resumes, cover letters, and interview skills. Other events hosted by the Office Career Services to look forward to this year are the “Networking How To’s” Workshop on Oct 27, the Gunnison Chamber of Commerce Networking Event on Nov 3, and the Professional Photos Workshop on Dec 1. Career Success events and workshops are typically held in the Borick Business Building. For more information about upcoming events, email firstname.lastname@example.org.