Friday, August 30, 2013

Chancellor Dorsey Loses Contract Extension In Board Session

By Sarah Hayes
The contract that keeps STLCC Chancellor Myrtle Dorsey in her job is set to expire in June 2014 and due to a recent vote by the college's Board of Trustees, her contract will not be extended. During a closed executive session earlier this month, college trustees put Chancellor Dorsey's contract to a vote that, had it passed, would have extended her contract to 2015. Such a motion was ultimately unsuccessful and the vote split between the six trustees in a three-three vote.  
The decision is not a binding one; it is ultimately up to Dorsey if she stays with the college during the last year of her contract, according to board chairman Craig Larson as he spoke to the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.
Issues that factored into the decision to not extend Dorsey's contract included the college's handling of the Meramec incident, in which a student was attacked in the bathroom by another student. The issue was not openly discussed by STLCC authorites until the parents of the victim went to the local press with her story. The Meramec incident ended in the arrest of the assailant and the resignations of several college employees who were directly involved in the response to the attack.
Of the six members of the Board of Trustees who voted during this closed session, the three trustees who voted to extend Dorsey's contract were Doris Graham, Craig Larson and Melissa Hattman. The trustees who voted on the opposite side were Libby Fitzgerald, Joan McGivney and Hattie Jackson.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Current Schedule For Upcoming Archers Games

Fans of the STLCC Archers may want to keep the list to the left handy, as it contains upcoming games and events for the various Archers teams. The original can be accessed at the STLCC athletics page, which is constantly updated with news about the Archers.

Games of particular interest are the women's soccer match on September 3 at the Meramec campus and the volleyball match on September 4 at the Florissant Valley campus, as they are both home games. Other games are scheduled to be played as far away as Florida and South Carolina.

Dates and events are bound to change; keep checking the athletics page at the STLCC website for further updates.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Campus Farmers And Fair Trade Market At FVCC

Upcoming campus event:
Campus farmers and fair trade market
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Cafe nook in Student Center (in front of cafeteria)
11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

This event will feature late summer garden produce from the campus eco-garden (located in the old baseball field) as well as fair trade African Kazuri bead jewelry. The eco-garden is part of Florissant Valley Community College's sustainability initiatives, which have been nationally recognized by the American Colleges & Universities Presidents' Climate Commitment.

For more information, contact Mark Manteuffel at 314-513-4632.

Caution Urged During Late STL Summer Heat Wave

As the temperatures climb higher and higher, the Saint Louis County Department of Health is advising Saint Louis residents to take caution in the summer heat. The forecast for the next several days, which includes the upcoming Labor Day weekend, is expected to rise in the high 90s. A heat advisory has already been issued for Tuesday, August 27 and will extend into Saturday.

As a precaution, the Health Department has recommended people take the following points to keep themselves cool and safe:

  • Drink plenty of chilled, non-alcoholic beverages, and eat foods that are not heavy or overly greasy.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing that does not limit movement or is dark in color.
  • Keep an eye on young children and the elderly, and check up on neighbors and family members who don't have air conditioning and are particularly vulnerable to the heat.
  • If working outside, take regular breaks in a shaded area or in a place that is air conditioned.
  • Look out for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Someone with heat stroke will be dizzy, nauseated, and sweat more than usual; they should be moved to a cooler place immediately. Someone with a heat stroke will be similar to one with exhaustion but will also include flushed skin and no longer any normal sweating; 911 should be called immediately for them.
Not only humans, but pets too are susceptive to the summer heat. Pets should be kept inside or in a shady location, never left inside a vehicle, and provided fresh water on a regular basis. The key point is to enact what are called "common sense precautions" and stay out of the heat whenever possible.

For more information and safety tips, as well as assistance for those without air conditioning, you can visit the Health Department's webpage at

Monday, August 26, 2013

Florissant Valley Kicks Off Fall Semester

Story and photos by James Hess

O­n August 19, 2013, the entire St. Louis Community College system kicked off its fall semester with the first day of fall classes, including the Florissant Valley campus. Many teachers and professors are returning for regular semester classes after a long summer off, while some have spent the summer teaching smaller summer classes. Students though are the biggest factor. The start of fall classes is a time when many students enter STLCC in a variety of ways. Some of the students are returning to school for another semester, like film major Logan Lee.
Students endure a long wait to get financial aid issues sorted out. 

“I get to meet new people [in fall] and work in my field again. I’m doing what I love and it’s really fun, says Lee. “After all, Steve Jobs did say ‘Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world USUALLY do’.”

Many of them, however, are straight out of high school. Among such are music education major Jerry Bone, who recently graduated from Ritenour High School, and Heather Semour, a new student straight from Timberland. “I feel college is easier to follow than in high school” Semour states “You had to follow a certain timed structure, and they handed you everything. In college, things are more simplified. You choose your courses; you make your own schedule.”

Bone feels the same way, though he feels better about those who enroll in college with him. “It’s basically the same as high school: do your work, don’t act stupid, and keep your grades up,” Bone simply puts. “But most high-schoolers are in school because the state forces them so a lot of them aren’t willing to pitch into a good environment. Flo is different from Ritenour because the people who enroll here CHOOSE to be here. People who want to be here pitch in to help build a good learning environment.”
Students look to see if their desired courses are still open in Administration. 

The start of classes are not just what make up the first day, but that many of the incoming students are also scurrying to get into them. At any campus, including Florissant Valley, you will notice students rushing to finish registration, get financial aid documents sorted out and turned in, and even crowding the school bookstore to buy their books. Also, it can be mind-boggling to have to sit and wait at least two hours just to turn in a few forms or go to different departments in Administration just to register for classes. This is a common occurrence during the first of school, fall semester in particular. 

Returning student (and graduate-to-be) Paul Van Doren faces the same trouble, as he waited outside the Student Center for his wife who had been waiting nearly an hour and a half to get her financial aid taken care of for the semester.

Other than the registration stress, Mr. Van Doren feels good about coming back because he is about to graduate after this semester. “If I get straight As, my GPA will be up to about 3.8 and I’ll graduate” Van Doren exclaims “I’m going back to UMSL as soon and as I do and I will be done with Flo, so God yes it feels great to be starting back up”. Mr. Van Doren shares the same view with many students about the registration process, but also the same view as Bone and Semour about the semester, which is bound get off to a to great start. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Film Review: "Elysium"

By guest writer Professor Paul Nygard, FVCC

Imagine the world in the year 2154: the lines of nationality, race, gender, and religion have been obliterated by a fierce demarcation placed by the powerful between those who have and those who have-not.  The wealthy (“Citizens”) have retreated to an orbiting space-station utopia called Elysium (a reference to the paradisiacal realm in Hades set aside by the Greek Gods for the worthy one percent of the humanity).  In space, life is good (especially if you like McMansions with swimming pools and robot butlers), with every household equipped with a healing chamber providing cures for any ailment, including old-age (for more info, check out  The rest of humanity (“Illegals”) struggles to survive on the over-crowded, worn-out, polluted anthill that is the Earth. 

This is the premise of the film “Elysium”, starring Matt Damon, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Jodie Foster, and directed by Neill Blomkamp, who stepped with authority into the film world with his groundbreaking 2009 SYFY parable, “District 9”.  To be honest, I had a somewhat emotional response to “Elysium” so, to help collect my thoughts in a rational way, I consulted the reviews of others who saw this film.   To no great surprise on my part, I discovered that the sentiment “openly socialist” appeared in several (my favorite is one found on Twitter: “Greatest film ever made about free health care.”)  To be honest, I thought the "Do unto others..." theme throughout made the film “openly Christian.”   

Other reviews mentioned "slick cinematic violence" and bemoaned the filmmaker’s sell out to testosterone-driven Hollywood summer spectacle.  These views, possibly betraying fatigue from summer movie excesses, seem to casually overlook what I think is an important aspect of the filmmaker’s intent.  I’ve watched (sometimes painfully) several Hollywood CGI-driven tent-poles this summer where indeed the violence is pure spectacle, filling gaps in a tale that really has little to say in the first place – there for the sake of being there. 

The violence in “Elysium” is definitely not that for the mayhem is not driving the story, it is embedded deep in it.  For example, it helps ask this very common-sensical question: Does anyone really think that you can deny "them" a cure for their child's cancer and not expect a violent pushback?  As John Harrison remarked in “Star Trek: Into Darkness”: "Is there anything you wouldn't do for your family?"  Does this film go over the top on the spectacle and fighting?  Of course-but that is the way great storytelling has always operated, going back to Homer's “Iliad” (the Goddess Athena spearing her brother  Ares on a battlefield before Troy is over the top-but it was put there by the poet for a damn good reason). 

Another point raised by some  is the fact that the film is set primarily in Los Angeles, where the hero, Max (Damon), labors for the Armadyne Corporation, the entity that both built Elysium and manufactures the bullying robots that keep the “them” in line (the powerful also use off-the-books Black-Ops operatives when mere bullying is not enough).   Throughout the film the backdrop remains Los Angeles, with the world of Elysium hovering visible in the sky, even in daylight.  

One review wondered:  Is this happening in Russia, China, or is this exclusively an American thing?  The answer clearly is “No” on the “American thing” but the director wants filmgoers to come to that conclusion as the story unfolds.  As suggested earlier, Blomkamp has no trouble imagining all other contentious issues in human society (including nationality) vanishing in the face of just one of the few, with plenty versus the many, in want.   The societal conditions under which LA suffers are without doubt a “global thing.”  Simply, we are in LA because the hero of this story lives in LA. 

About the hero: there is a lot of Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” in the story of Max and his attempt to reconnect two long-divided elements of humanity (the best loved tales in history tend to be about the Hero striving).  Blomkamp uses flashbacks to establish his hero as, perhaps, a child of destiny but initially Max wants only to find a healing chamber to cure his soon-to-be deadly radiation poisoning (no OSHA regulations at the robot factory, apparently).  Still, when circumstances force upon him the ability to challenge the status quo, he embraces it-but for what is clearly a very personal reason. Witnessing yet again the contempt of the powerful for the peons, this time directed at a beloved childhood friend, Max explodes in a rage that, for the first time in his life, is not blind or destructive but now has a path to follow to a constructive end. 

When it is asked “why do people go to war?”, the answer can be as simple as this: they are fighting to protect the ones they love.  For Max, his final sacrifice is about doing right by his friend but, as the larger consequences of that sacrifice become clear, yet another Christian element emerges: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

 Is this film perfect in every aspect?  Perhaps not, but if perfection is one's expectation of anything made in this world, you will live with considerable disappointment.  In my opinion, “Elysium” is a thoughtfully crafted work of art that, above all, offers a powerful tale for our times.