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Southern Virginia University
  1. Powder War!

    January 30, 2015

    On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of watching and photographing the annual Powder War. This was my first time attending this particular event, and I was very glad that I did. There’s something just plain happy about seeing a group of people hurling colorful powder in the air and at each other amid bursts of laughter. It’s basically the grown-up version of finger painting.

    By the time the last of the powder faded from the air, the students had turned their clothes, hair, limbs and faces into original masterpieces. I wish that it was socially acceptable for a group of adults to look like this more frequently, as it would add a lot of vibrance and happiness to the world (especially in winter). But as it is, everyone should do this at least once a year (for the stress-relief, of course).

    (Post and photos by Hannah King ’13.)

  2. Photos: SVU Idol 2015

    January 30, 2015

    Last Friday, I sacrificed my usual Friday night ritual of staying at home and reading (which, believe it or not, I do by choice) and joined the throng of students funneling into the Stoddard Activities Center for Southern Virginia’s edition of the cult classic, “American Idol” – very cleverly dubbed “SVU Idol.”

    The annual talent competition was hosted by a pair of charming MC’s, Ryan Logan and Christian Tarin, both of whom were fantastically charismatic that they occasionally stole the show. They were particularly good at involving the audience, whether by setting up two random people on a date or asking for awkward first date stories, the combination of which seems comically coincidental, in hindsight.

    Eleven contestants (some in pairs) performed on Friday, including my delightfully spunky housemate, Deseret Brown, alongside her partner, Daphne Riddle, so naturally they were my favorite. Nonetheless, I was generally impressed by the performances and did not at all envy the judges the task of choosing six contestants to eliminate.

    Difficult task aside, the judges were one of the greatest elements of both nights. Partially because of Dr. Scott Dransfield’s introduction (“I used to be a rock star. Now, I’m an English professor.”) and partially because of their absolute inability to say anything that wasn’t entirely funny and in character. One of the charms of Southern Virginia is the opportunity to get to know your professors quite closely, and that familiarity made their comments all the more enjoyable. Also, who knew Professor Reynolds is the queen of jokes? “What did the green grape say to the purple grape?” Come on, that’s a classic.

    It was the second night, however, that proved the most intensely entertaining. It began with a group number, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” sung by every competitor, including those who had been eliminated the night before. It was a great way to get audience member, judge, and singer alike back into the groove of things.  The audience was allowed, for the first time, to vote an eliminated act back on, adding Deseret and Daphne to the five acts we were able to enjoy. From Sara Bareilles’s “Love Song” to a number from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, the night was full of diverse numbers.

    In the end, Brennan Alford, Wyatt Karnes, and the “Sparkly Girls,” a.k.a. Clairanne Moncur and Abby Akins, were chosen as the top three competitors, and “The Sparkly Girls” ended up going home with first place.

    I  and loads of others, considering almost every seat was filled each night  found SVU Idol quite  entertaining. What, with a stunning rendition of “What Does the Fox Say?” while the judges conspired, over a dozen performances by talented students, charming MC’s, and always hilarious judges, there was really no way to leave this event without having had a great time.

    (Post by Madeleine Rex ’16. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’16.)

  3. ’80s Dance

    January 30, 2015

    I’ve always been fascinated by the ’80s. Maybe it’s because I just missed them. Everything about that time is just so cool, from Rubik’s cubes to the ridiculous haircuts in my parents’ wedding photos. But the best thing about the ’80s has to be the music. That’s why I was crazy excited when I was told that we were having an ’80s dance.

    I tried to grow a mullet before going, but it was taking too long so I gave up. As I arrived, a song by Dead or Alive was pumping and everyone was going crazy. Stevo and Don kept awesome music going the whole time. There was even a giant cutout of a Rubik’s cube on the wall. It was so much fun! Dances are already the best, so an ’80s dance is just the best of the best. Can’t wait to hit up the Honor Ball tonight!

    (Post by Alec Johnson ’14. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’16.)

  4. First Freedom Center Trip, Essay Competition

    January 28, 2015

    Thomas Jefferson had three accomplishments published on his tombstone:  “Author of the Declaration of American Independence [and] of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom [and] Father of the University of Virginia.”

    The First Freedom Center was founded to celebrate Virginia’s Statute for Religious Freedom and to encourage religious freedom around the world.  To understand better what the statute is, check out the First Freedom Center’s website.

    As Chairman Glade Knight of the Southern Virginia University Board of Trustees announced at last Friday’s forum, he will sponsor eight students to travel to Richmond to see the First Freedom Center’s new exhibit and spend the night as his guests at his company’s new Marriott Courtyard and Residence Inn.  Both Chairman Knight and Provost Sowell have served as members of the Board of Trustees of the First Freedom Center.

    The plan is to travel to Richmond on a Friday afternoon in late February or March, tour the First Freedom Center’s exhibit, have dinner, spend the night, and travel on Saturday morning to the Knights’ Slate River Ranch for lunch on the way back to Buena Vista.

    To qualify (i.e., win a spot among the lucky eight students), you will need to submit a one-page single-spaced essay on the topic:  “What the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom Means to Me.”

    Essays must be printed, signed, and turned in to room 103 in Main Hall by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 6.  You will also need to indicate your availability for the following dates: Feb. 20-21, Feb. 27-28, March 6-7, March 20-21, March 27-28.  A married student who wins will be allowed to bring his or her spouse.

    Here is the heart of the Virginia Statute for Religious freedom: “… no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities …”

    If you have any questions, please address them to Craig Lawhorne (, assistant to the provost.

  5. Lunch in the Library: Discussion on Cuba

    January 26, 2015


    Today, the Von Canon Library hosted the first in a series of lunchtime discussions this semester. The subject of the brown bag lunch was Cuba: People and Policy and began with Dr. Ariel Rodriguez, associate professor of family and child development, speaking about life as a Cuban American. Dr. Rodriguez, who happens to be my dad, is the son of two Cuban refugees, Enrique and Gloria Maria Rodriguez. In his remarks, he spoke of the conditions under which his parents left Cuba and started a new life in America, as well as his own experiences growing up in Southern California. His portion of the discussion ended with a brief question-and-answer session.

    After that, Dr. Jeremiah John, associate professor of politics, spoke about the history of Cuba from a political perspective, as well as what the current diplomatic arrangements between the U.S. and Cuba could mean for both countries. Students, librarians and the two professors asked questions, made comments, and had a lively discussion of the key issues, such as whether lifting the embargo will benefit the Cuban people, how increased tourism may affect Cuba’s economy, and what all of this will mean for Cuban Americans.

    At the conclusion of the discussion, Dr. Christopher Richardson, director of library services, described several new books on Cuba that the library recently added to its collection. I really appreciated this gesture by the library and checked out two of the recommended books. It was a great experience to be able to discuss a current event with knowledgable professors and others, and then to be able to follow up the discussion by learning more through the library’s updated collection of relevant books. Dr. Richardson also announced that the library will hold more of these lunchtime discussions throughout the coming semester. He said that the library plans to host discussions on a variety of topics and not just political issues. I look forward to the next time I can have such an elevated, informative discussion with the campus community.

    (Post by Hannah King ’13. Photo by Jordan Wunderlich ’16.)