Welcome to our office tour, where we guide you through the highlights of our workspace. Through years of our team working here, our office has become a beacon of creativity and productivity. So, come along with us and witness our collaborative workspace, and discover what makes our little office a dynamic and efficient environment.
The Critique Wall
This is where we have our critiques. We post in-process work to offer suggestions to each other and discover accidental rhinos in the illustrations.
Photo by Bei Lin
The Neon Light
A long-forgotten memory of the office. Recently discovered ancient relic. Who knows what else is hidden in the office? Maybe the Figeon?
Photo by Bei Lin
The Awards and Covers
F just keeps winning. Every year we attend several conferences, and we often get some awards for our work. We keep our past covers on the wall to remind us of our experiences and spark our future. Do you have a favorite F Newsmagazine cover?
Photo by Bei Lin
The Working Space
When we need inspiration, all we have to do is look up. Our walls are covered with helpful handouts, a strange t-shirt, and a reminder that “the F is for blood.”
Photo by Bei Lin
We value sunlight. With how gloomy Chicago can be, we need every inch of sunlight to keep our sanity in check. But who can say we are really sane?
Photo by Bei Lin
Illustration of F Newsmagazine’s Office Map by Ketaki Kulkarni
The Joan Flasch Artistsʼ Book Collection, situated on the 5th floor of the Sharp Building on SAICʼs campus, feels like a hidden gem in a sprawling city landscape. You walk out of the elevator onto the fifth floor and go around the corner to see a cozy little room lined with shelves of books, artifacts, mystery boxes, and sculptures. The feeling of the room is one of both calm and excitement — the artwork is often laid out with the intention of being touched, opened, and perused by any curious art student, such that it would be easy to lose oneself in all the cultural splendor.
Though officially established in 1989, their extensive archive received creative contributions to the library dating back to the 1960s “when the
the library was accidentally collecting Fluxus and conceptual work that were part of exhibitions,” as April Sheridan, Special Collections Manager remarks.
The early collection included work that many artists thought could be an extension or alternative to gallery work; the medium gave artists more autonomy and independence over their creations.
“Misfortunes of the Immortals” by Max Ernst and Paul Eluard (1946). Photo by Amanda Reid
Joan Flasch has over 13,000 pieces in its Artistsʼ Book Collection. Some of the earliest pieces date back to a delicate book called “Misfortunes of the Immortals” by Max Ernst and Paul Eluard, first published in 1922, although the library has a later edition from 1946, while some of its most recent pieces include a 3D printed book titled “a circle of stones” by bex ya yolk published in 2022.
Sheridan stressed the importance of a “partnership between form and content” that runs deep into the selection of works. Works are chosen with an emphasis on design that changes how we view not only books but art.
What stands out about Joan Flaschʼs immense collection of artistsʼ books is the ambiguity of what constitutes a “book.” In response to a question about the reach of the Artistsʼ Book Collections into art books, music records, and sculptures, Sheridan explained: “Itʼs like an octopus,
everything you described is what we want to collect.”
She continues: “These books also choreograph the reader… this book is telling you how to open it, how to see it, how to view it… and weʼre so used to a very traditional way of opening a book, itʼs so built into our lives that things like this are really surprising.” From Sadie Woodsʼ “Service in this Bitch,” which acts as a music box playing a strip of painted parchment, to Julie Chenʼs “Radio Silence,” which folds out like an accordion, tactility and play imbue the experience of using a book.
“Radio Silence” by Julie Chen (1995). Photo by Amanda Reid
“Service in this Bitch” by Sadie Woods from a Limited Series (2015-2018). Photo by Amanda Reid
Sheridan placed emphasis on the tactility of the art experience in viewing the work: “You can go over across the street to the museum, and thatʼs one thing, youʼre walking around, youʼre looking at sculptures, youʼre looking at things hanging on the wall, but here, itʼs actually really hands-on and I think that thatʼs an important thing for artists to encounter as theyʼre learning more about materials.” Books such as Doh Ho Sunʼs “untitled,” emphasizes, for instance, the act of holding a book using a glass mold of two open palms. The act of reading
becomes an art experience itself as the artist animates the activity of reading.
“Untitled” (glass bowl with an imprint of artists’ hands) by Do Ho Suh (2004). Photo by Amanda Reid
After telling our team about a golden box that contained a chocolate anal sphincter, Sheridan exclaimed: “It’s an art school, come on! Be shocked in a while.” Never have words wrung truer: the privilege of this art education and its access to these collections means that the objects you behold will never stop surprising you.
The Joan Flasch Special Collection sources its books from places like Printed Matter (specifically from their organized yearly New
York Art Book Fair) as well as Inga Books and BUDDY from the Chicago Cultural Center. The collection boasts a highly diverse and inter-
the national spectrum of work. “We have a very large international community of students here. We want the collection to be able to
reflect that, so our books [include] over 63 different languages.”
“A Book that is a Bag” by Shelf Shelf (2018). Photo by Amanda Reid
For their upcoming renovations beginning Apr. 1, the Joan Flasch Special Collections will be increasing storage facilities and opening the
reading section up to accommodate a larger capacity of students. The new renovations will act as a way of giving more space to both an increasing archive of work, as well as greater space for reading rooms, and class visits. The renovations are expected to be finished in the upcoming fall semester.
“Steamy Buns” by Misaki Kawai (2020). Photo by Amanda Reid
“a circle of stones” by bex ya yolk (2022). Photo by Amanda Reid
Registering to Vote on Election Day by Teddie Bernard.
For too many, the question that keeps them from voting is “Am I even registered to vote?” Illustration shows a young woman standing outside a school being used as a polling station wondering this question. In Illinois, you can register to vote on voting day. An illustration of the state of Illinois says, “I’m making it as easy as possible! No excuses!”
Here are some forms of ID to bring: Drivers License or State ID, Utility Bill, Government Check, Paycheck, Lease Agreement, or Bank Statement. Student ID and a piece of mail from your current address can also work. Illustration shows a young woman using student ID and mail to register to vote at a polling station.
It’s easy to register to vote day-of in-person with a bit of pre-planning. You can also register to vote online when online registration is open. Happy voting! Illustration shows two occupied voting booths.
Media reactions toward Koons’ broken piece. Internet source.
Jeff Koons’ signature icon “Balloon Dog” got accidentally destroyed by a visitor at Art Wynwood, a contemporary art fair, in Miami on Feb 16, 2023. What rings are not the shattered clamor, but the outburst of coverage on the discussions that followed. Flooding social media and arts news, Koons’ “misfortune” turns out to be a chance for the art market to resurrect this broken kitsch work into a golden opportunity of reselling it at a higher price. This series of overpriced “Balloon Dog” has sparked controversies due to its kitschiness. “Balloon Dog” is a series of Limoges porcelain sculptures crafted in Bernardaud Porcelain — a French family business founded in 1863 in Limoges. The limited edition of 799 shines in various sizes and hues: blue, magenta, yellow, orange, and red. The most expensive one, an orange rendition, sold at Christie’s, an auction house, for $58.4 million. The particular “unique” one broken at Art Wynwood cost $42,000 before it was smashed — fulfilling an Adornoian prophecy on how the cultural industry exists at its worst.
The shocking part of this “Balloon Dog” breaking may not be the incident itself, but the aftermath that collectors might want to make an offer to purchase this “blown up balloon.” Along with all the sudden attention granted to Koons, one wonders if the “offers” are simply performative or if the “accident” could be a staged one — as Stephen Gamson, an art collector on the spot, once thought.
This high-profile incident harkens back to Banksy’s dramatic “Girl With Balloon” auction in 2018 at Sotheby’s, where Banksy’s absurdist device shredded the painting in front of uninformed bidders after it was sold. Banksy’s “torn” work, soon renamed“Love is in the Bin,”went from an offered price of £1,042,000 to a resold price of £18,582,000. This more-than-tenfold increase invites us to rethink how the art market dictates. But as a reminder, Koons’ broken dog was listed at a mere $42,000 prior to breaking.
Banksy’s “Love is in the Bin.” Screengrab via Inside Edition.
Beefing up his “Balloon Dog” series, in 2013, Koons claimed “I’ve always enjoyed balloon animals because they’re like us. We’re balloons. You take a breath and you inhale, it’s an optimism. You exhale, and it’s kind of a symbol of death.” Unlike a real balloon dog that brings joy to children, Koons’ optimism comes with a cost — typically five-digit. Such a delight presents nothing more but a broken promise. After all, this contentless balloon, with its disingenuous shell, contains nothing more than an egoistic breath — as Clement Greenberg asserts, “Kitsch is deceptive.”
Koons, in his 2015 lecture “Jeff Koons Returns to SAIC,” commented on his use of reflective surfaces: “The idea of a reflective surface affirms you…you see your own reflection. It is informing you that the art happens inside you. It is an object, just a transponder. Nothing happens in it. There is no value in art.” Clearly, through reflection, he tells the truth that some “objects” can be intrinsically valueless — this echoes Michael Fried’s discussion on how arts simply fall into a mere object through “objecthood.” When an artwork becomes merely an object, it poses a dilemma to viewers of what arts can be. The kitschiness of the “Balloon Dog,” as an “object,” sparked controversy at the Château de Versailles as it appeared crude and too modern for Louis XIV’s former palace — clearly “pets are not welcomed” in this castle, neither is an overly mundane “object.”
When it comes to references to daily objects in arts, artists can still infuse artistic value through subtlety. For instance, Marcel Duchamp’s readymade “Fountain” (1917), also controversial, is more valued as it challenges the art scene and audiences. Both the “Balloon Dog” and “Fountain” represent “objects” and have multiple iterations. But my admiration for Duchamp credits to his criticism of the corrupted art scene. Duchamp’s “objects” stand the test of time as conceptualism speaks for itself. Most importantly, Duchamp pokes fun at the hypocrisy in the art market. The “Balloons” are, however, merely pokable objects that burst into their egoistic fallacy. Duchamp’s broken glass — “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even” (1915–23) — certainly makes a case (well, it literally does), for it justifies its cause to embrace absurdity genuinely; Koons’ broken porcelain, by no means, invited the media and market to make a scene.
The art market, like a black box, often controls what is accessible to the mass public. Such obfuscation hinders the showing of arts that present critical commentaries in response to political, social-economical, gender issues, and beyond. This is especially true in the realm of Pop Art, where the market largely dictates the scene. Crowned as one of the “Fathers of Pop Art,” Andy Warhol’s screen prints of Campbell, Elvis Parsley, Marilyn Monroe, and Chairman Mao predominate the narrative of his endeavor in the public eye. His experimental works, however, remain largely disregarded. Warhol, a prolific filmmaker, produced over six hundred films that even most “admirers” are unaware of. To name a few of his outrageous productions, “Blow Job” (1964), a 35-minute film showing DeVeren Bookwalter receiving fellatio from a group of, potentially, “five beautiful boys;” “Empire” (1965), an over eight hours slow motion footage of the Empire Building; and “Eating Too Fast” (1966), another fellatio-related 67-minute film. With collectors and the general audience’s over-fixation on Warhol’s more approachable posterized print works, his films are only known and accessible to true enthusiasts.
Still of Andy Warhol’s “Blowjob.” Screen capture by Gordon Fung
The art market’s taste declines, but Koons’ recognition is certainly boosted. As much as collectors crave to lick the spilled milk from the shattered balloon, I personally love Warhol’s “Blow Job” more — this daring work remains one of my favorites of all time. My major concern is that kitsch will continue to make its way to further the art market’s dominance through the cultural industry, consumerism, and capitalism. “Pop Art masters” and “kitsch makers” will continue to confound the art market with their eye-candies, but the avant-garde camp will surely safeguard and carry on the Greenbergian mission, where avant-garde serves “to find a path along which it would be possible to keep culture moving in the midst of ideological confusion and violence.” So, bring it on.
Gordon Fung (MFA FVNMA 2024) is a transdisciplinary artist working with experimental video art, multi-/ new media, installation, sound art, audiovisual performance, and conceptual arts; also a runaway composer, writer-in-closet, and metalhead.
The SAIC community reacts to the 2023 Oscars by sharing their thoughts on the winners, movies, fashion, and Hollywood. In this video, several issues are broached: whether the Oscars are still relevant, how race plays a role in modern-day Hollywood, and how this year’s Oscars was ultimately historic. Watch and find out about how SAIC reacts to one of the biggest nights in Hollywood!
According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), 1696 students voted YES, whereas only 155 students voted NO. Photo Courtesy: GSU’s Instagram
For almost 15 years, graduate students at the University of Chicago (UChicago) have been organizing to form a union.
Although once seen as a far-fetched reality, the students are finally closer to their dreams as on Mar. 16, 92 percent of the graduate students voted to form their union, UChicago Graduate Students United (GSU) with United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), making it a historical win for the students who have been fighting for better treatment in the workplaces on campus.
“This victory belongs to the thousands of workers on this campus who turned out to vote. It was made especially possible by hundreds of organizers who built a campaign led by graduate workers from every division,” the union wrote on its Instagram account after the results of the elections were announced. “This victory belongs to our relationships that we sustain and grow by doing walkthroughs, lab visits, and town halls; by having one-on-one conversations, phone calls, socials, and committee meetings; and by sending texts, emails, and newsletters,” they add.
The election for union recognition was held by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Jan. 30, and Feb.1. According to the NLRB, 1696 students voted YES, whereas only 155 students voted NO.
Neomi Rao, the co-president of GSU believes that this overwhelming support shows the faith the student workers have in the union.
“The overwhelming support is a testament to many generations of dedicated organizing of student workers at UChicago that has culminated in the landslide victory. It also shows the resonance of the issues we have been talking to our co-workers, who know that a union is the way to secure living wages, and affordable healthcare, and making grad school accessible and equitable for parents, international students, and marginalized students” Rao, a third-year Ph.D. student in political science told F Newsmagazine.
With this win, UChicago GSU joins the huge unionization wave that is happening around the campuses as graduate students organize for better wages and fair treatment. This includes institutions like Northwestern University which recently voted to unionize with UE, as well as several other universities including Yale and Harvard.
However, for the student workers at UChicago, getting union recognition wasn’t an easy victory.
Although GSU was formed in 2007, it was only after a decade of organizing that their efforts saw some progress as NLRB finally held elections for them to unionize with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
During this election in 2017, the graduate students voted to unionize with a 2-1 majority. Still, the student workers weren’t able to unionize, primarily because of two major reasons. Firstly because the university administration appealed the certification of the election results. Secondly, they themselves withdrew from the NLRB process as they feared that the appointment of conservatives to the NLRB board during the Trump administration would backfire and rule against their right to unionize.
Yet regardless of all the roadblocks, the student workers continued to mobilize their resources and brought a couple of changes including a yearly increase in stipend for doctoral students, elimination of Advance Residency tuition, and many more. Furthermore, citing the reasons for wanting to form an independent union, the students eventually decided to disaffiliate from AFT and chose UE as their parent union, last year.
Now, with the recent victory, the union members said they are grateful for the support shown by the students and are hopeful that they can work together with the administration.
“I hope the administration should follow the law and bargain with us in good faith,” Valay Agarwal, GSU’s communications secretary told F Newsmagazine.
While in the past, the university administration slowed down the unionizing of the students, this time things look a little different.
In an email sent to the University community, Provost Ka Yee C. Lee assured that the administration will work with students and “bargain in good faith”.
“I am thankful to everyone who engaged in this process, especially the students who voted, whether they voted for or against unionization,” she wrote. “I congratulate GSU-UE on their successful advocacy in this process. The University will bargain in good faith with GSU-UE with the goal of supporting the continued academic success of all graduate students.”
Union members say the next step is to form a bargaining committee that will work to build a fair contract.
According to GSU, an election is scheduled from Mar. 20 to 23, to select the representatives who will represent the 3,000 grad student workers of the union.
“We are in the process of electing our bargaining committee and looking forward to meeting the administration at the table. The graduate workers will collectively bargain for better pay, better health insurance, equitable policies that include robust grievance procedures, international student support and so much more,” Agarwal said.
At the 95th Academy Awards, “Nattu Nattu,” from the Telugu movie “RRR,” made history. It became the first Indian movie song to win the Oscars for Best Original Song.
Composed by M.M. Keeravaani and written by Chandrabose, this electrifying song, which plays during a significant scene in “RRR,” has become a global sensation. The Western audience, in particular, has been blown away by its energetic choreography along with the peppy beat, which can automatically make most people shake their legs and hit the dance floor.
But after its win an important question has been circulating among Indian movie fans; is it the best movie song India has ever produced?
A simple and plain answer is: No.
While “Nattu Nattu” did highlight the rich Indian musical heritage to a global audience, there are Indian movie songs that are way better than this, which should have won Oscars before, or at least which are worthy of your attention.
Here are some movie songs I would suggest you watch and listen to if you liked “Nattu Nattu,” and are craving more and/or better Indian movie songs.
1. “Chaiyya Chaiyya” (1998)
In 2002 when the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) did a poll on the top-ten most popular songs of all time, “Chaiyya Chaiyya” secured the ninth position.
Composed by A. R. Rahman, and sung by Sukhwinder Singh and Sapna Awasthi, “Chaiyya Chaiyya” is popularly known as the “train song” among Indian movie lovers. The song is from the movie, “Dil Se,” which features the most celebrated Hindi movie actor of all time — Shah Rukh Khan.
What makes this song beautiful is its poetic lyrics written by Gulzar as well as its outstanding but nerve-wracking choreography, as the whole song takes place on top of a moving train.
Trust me, there’s a reason why this song is so popular among Bollywood buffs. I wouldn’t be surprised if you start playing this song on your phone the next time you catch a train.
2. “Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya” (1960)
When K. Asif, the director of the epic “Mughal-e-Azam,” shot this song, its budget was believed to be more than the entire movie. I mean how couldn’t it be? Just look at the video of the song. The elaborate set designs, the mirror works, the extravagant costumes—everything screams of royalty and heritage.
However, that’s not the only thing that makes this song iconic. Over the years, the song has regained cult status for being the song of lovers, as in the movie, it is performed during a crucial scene, when a courtesan, Anarkali declares her love for Prince Salim — a union that is destined to be doomed.
“Pyar kiya koi chori nahi ki. Chup chup aahein bharna kya. Jab pyar kiya toh darna kya. Pyaar Kiya toh darna kya.” (You’re in love, it’s not a crime. Why should you hide and sigh. Why fear if you’re in love.)
This is sheer poetry.
3. “Chalte Chalte” (1972)
Another classic, “Chale Chalte” from “Pakeezah” (1972) is poetry in motion. The beautiful Urdu lyrics of the song which Kaifi Azmi wrote are a short story in itself. Featuring the lead character Nargis (played by Meena Kumari), the song is a Mujra performance, a traditional dance form of the Mughal era. In this song, Kumari, a tawaif (an entertainer), is expressing her longing for an aristocrat through this song.
And what a beautiful expression it is. Not only does she use her body to express her emotions, but her eyes also do a lot of talking as they show the pain she is suffering from.
Just to witness the magic that acting, music, and dance can bring on the celluloid, I would suggest you watch this masterpiece.
4. “Piya Tose Naina Lage Re” (1965)
No doubt the choreography of “Nattu Nattu,” was rousing, but was it as graceful as Waheeda Rehman’s performance in “Piya Tose Naina Laga Re” (1965)? Perhaps not. Because in this song Rehman epitomizes beauty and elegance. Her beautiful aura and stunning dance performance light the whole screen, making viewers instantly fall for her.
And yes, there are beautiful intricate costumes, hundreds of background dancers doing the same steps, and extravagant sets in this song, making it a classic Indian song.
5. “Naadan Parinde” (2011)
This is a personal favorite song of mine. I find this piece of art by A. R. Rahman so powerful that my whole life journey appears in front of my eyes when I listen to it.
To give context to our readers, this song was a part of “Rockstar” (2011), a love story based on the life of a troubled musician with an inflated ego. As the story unfolds, he reaches a self-destructive stage of his life: he loses his lover, and his life goes haywire.
This song is so impactful because reflects his self-realization — he understands that there’s no going back from this shithole called life. Trust me, again. And go and download this song on Spotify!
6. “Ami Chini Go Chini” (1964)
Satyajit Ray was one of India’s finest filmmakers whose body of work has traveled all over the world. One of my favorite movies from his rich filmography is “Charulata” (1964), a story of a homemaker who falls in love with her brother-in-law.
There are so many beautiful scenes throughout the movie that capture the chaos happening inside the lead character’s heart. However, a particular scene that stood out for me is when the brother-in-law plays the piano and sings “Ami Chini Go Chini” for our lead character who has fallen for him but has to control her feelings. Such a poignant way of expressing emotions through a song.
7. “Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe” (2001)
In Bollywood in 2001, a first-time director, Farhan Akhtar, made a classic called “Dil Chahta Hai,” which still rules people’s hearts. An urban edgy drama that explores the roller coaster of emotions brought by love and friendship, this movie features one of the best soundtracks produced in the Hindi film fraternity.
However, “Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe” is my favorite. It’s a youthful song, filled with a vibrant energy that every time I listen to it, I want to hit the dance floor and be happy about the life I have got (even if I spend the whole next day crying over it).
8. “Uyire Uyire”(1995)
Are you the kind of person who plays a song when they miss someone in their life and act as if they are the main character of a movie? Then, my friend, this song’s for you. Especially on days when you are low and are missing someone in your life, you should play this classic, which A. R. Rahman composed for the movie, “Bombay.”
Besides giving you goosebumps, I am certain that this song will make every inch of you sad. It is that powerful. So, next time if you are near the lake, on your phone, and want to play a sad song, this is an option for you.
9. “Urvasi Urvasi” (1994)
The actors of “Nattu Nattu,” are great dancers, but they can never compete with the OG of Dance in the Indian movie industry—Prabhu Deva. A famous movie choreographer, Deva made many special appearances in Indian movie songs where he flexed his dancing skills.
The way Deva can move his body, makes me think he doesn’t have bones — his body is made of elastic. Nevertheless, the song is engaging, and joyful and captures the youthfulness of its time.
10. “Dola re Dola” (2002)
Honestly, if you were impressed with “Nattu Nattu’s,”‘ grandeur, then you will be blown away by the opulence of “Dola re Dola.”
Featuring two of the most popular Hindi actresses of all time — Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan—this song is loud, colorful, and feminine in all the ways it can be. Also, the amazing dance performance deserves special applause as the hip movements, the hand gestures, and the popular hook-step, all are done with ease and grace, making it one of the most memorable songs in Indian film history.
Hi, friends. I am Ankit Khadgi, a Bollywood buff and also the Managing Editor of F Newsmagazine. I am starting a new column called Bollywood 101. Through this column, I want to share my love of Bollywood with our readers, offer movie suggestions, and bust the myths people have about the Hindi film industry. I hope you will enjoy reading my work.
Thank you for your continued diligence in following SAIC’s COVID-19 protocols. Though it’s been nearly three years since the pandemic began, navigating these mitigation efforts can still be a challenge, and we’re grateful for the care you’ve shown for one another and the entire School community.
This paragraph is not objectionable in and of itself, but the use of the word “challenge” here sets up later issues in wording.
Illustration by Ceilidh (kale) Birkhahn
Throughout the pandemic, we have continuously monitored COVID-19 data and reviewed our campus policies in consultation with public health expert Dr. Terri Rebmann. Recently, Dr. Rebmann noted that while Saint Louis University did not require masks this past fall, only a small percentage of their community cases were traced to classroom transmission. The vast majority of infections occurred off campus. This evidence, which correlates with what we’ve seen in areas of SAIC’s campus where masks have not been required, informed our decision to update our Make Together protocols.
The email here posits that the “vast majority” of cases at Saint Louis University occurred off-campus; reading this paragraph and watching the video, it becomes clearer that the cases were not traced to on-campus causes. This does not necessarily mean that they did not originate on campus, only that they could not be traced there.
For the winter term, we will continue to require masks in our instructional spaces. However, at the start of the spring term—on January 26—individuals may continue to wear masks, though they will no longer be required in any on-campus space except at the Wellness Center. At this point in the pandemic, we’ve all adopted mitigation strategies that work best for us individually, so if you feel more comfortable wearing your mask on campus, you are fully encouraged to continue this practice. If you choose to wear a mask, a tight-fitting surgical mask, N95, or KN95 will offer the best protection. Such masks provide good protection even when those around you are unmasked. Please note that masks will not be available at security desks beginning in the spring term.
The consistent use of community — SAIC community, School community— clashes here with the sudden shift of responsibility onto the individual. Not included anywhere in the email is this addendum, which can only be found by navigating to a hidden page using the small sidebar on the Make Together site:
“As we continue to take care of one another, please remember that there are members of our community who are vulnerable to a severe infection or who live with or are caring for a vulnerable loved one. Please consider showing care for the well-being of others by wearing a face mask when you are interacting with someone who is wearing a mask.”
Simply placing the above into the campus-wide message would have tempered some of the upset responses seen in the aftermath of the mask mandate removal. It is unlikely that most busy students, faculty, and staff would take the time to trawl SAIC’s website for long enough to notice this page.
Likewise, it would go a long way toward seeing support and acknowledgment offered to immunocompromised or otherwise at-risk community members. As it stands, the email neglects to mention them altogether.
Illustration by Ceilidh (kale) Birkhahn
As a reminder, one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and others from illness is to stay up-to-date on your vaccinations for both COVID-19 and the flu. COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be required for all students, staff, and faculty.
While vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect oneself from illness, it works best in tandem with other strategies; masking, distancing and isolating when actively sick. The vaccine protects the individual, but reduces transmission; while the infected or asymptomatic person may not be a super-spreader, they can still pass COVID-19 on to their close contacts.
For more information on this policy and the data that informed it, please watch the following webinar from Dr. Rebmann.
[Video of Dr. Rebmann]
Below are some quotes pulled from the informational video:
“[P]reliminary data on BQ 1 and BQ 1.1 indicates that both of these new subvariants [of COVID-17 Omicron] are able to evade…natural immunity […] if you have previous infection and vaccine-induced immunity including the new bivalent booster.”
The message here appears to be that COVID will be mild for young, perfectly healthy people, but they will still be able to contract and carry it. In other words, being vaccinated still does not stop you from being ill or contagious; it reduces the severity of symptoms and prevents hospitalization.
“[T]his is the worst flu outbreak that we’ve seen in the past decade. It started early, it’s particularly harsh this year, and it’s causing some health care surges across the United States. So between COVID-19 and flu hitting at the same time […], there are individuals that are co-infected.”
This is a strange data point to include in this announcement, which seems to have the overarching message that health protocols have moved past masking. Perhaps particularly as influenza is another virus that causes painful symptoms in the lungs and throat, and is a highly contagious respiratory illness—characteristics that make it less likely to be transmitted between masked individuals.
“[A]t this point in the pandemic, […] I don’t know of a single university that continues to have a mass mandate in place at this time…”
“[T]he vast majority of universities have moved towards individuals taking personal responsibility for protecting themselves against severe illness. So that means staying up to date on vaccination and then choosing to wear a mask or a respirator when you’re in public places with others.”
Illustration by Ceilidh (kale) Birkhahn
The information here seems to be saying that any individual who wants to protect themselves against “severe illness” will be fully vaccinated and wear some form of face covering. Odd to include here—ironically for an announcement removing the mask policy, its presented facts seem to support continued masking.
We will continue to consult with Dr. Rebmann and monitor local trends, making adjustments as warranted, including by reinstating required masking if the need arises. As always, the most up-to-date information on our COVID-19 policies can be found at saic.edu/maketogether.
Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs
Vice President for Campus Operations
Executive Director of Campus Security
The use of the phrase “if the need arises” casts this decision into confusion. Wasn’t the mandate supposedly removed for lowered caseload? As a matter of fact, that does not appear to be a deciding factor, or at least not one shown here. The only cited reason is lowered transmission on campus, not lower caseload; while the numbers may have dropped, it is never mentioned outright.
So: what would constitute a “need arising”? Would it be caseload in the SAIC Community, or only if the city of Chicago reinstates its mask mandate?
The Make Together: Update On Mask Policy email is ineffective at providing a clear message, encouraging continued masking where necessary, and even simply supporting its own main points. It includes only partial information and links to contradicting or outdated information. The choice to be vague and make generalized statements such as “the vast majority of infections” and “the vast majority of universities” suggests an element of guesswork reminiscent of a student’s under-researched essay — compounded by the fact that other statements (“I don’t know of a single university…”) show a distinct lack of even cursory searching. All together, it paints a picture of apathy, rather than the carefully-considered decision community health deserves.
SAIC’s online Make Together webpage no longer contradicts itself in terms of mask mandate, as it did up until the first week of February. The Contact Tracing webpage still claims that students identified as “close contacts” can ask for a surgical mask at campus security desks —something discontinued at the very start of the semester.
The linked SAIC COVID-19 dashboard received its last update on March 8th; 17 total positive cases, 12 students and 5 employees, all within the previous two weeks. Only 2 out of that total— one student and one employee — are in isolation.
The COVID-19 dashboard illustrates its data as seen above, including for its semester summaries, which does not help visualize the totals or overall data trends.
Below, I’ve graphed the student cases, staff-slash-employee cases, and the average caseload per month (of the semester).
Illustration by Ceilidh (kale) Birkhahn
The graph above uses exclusively data from the Make Together dashboard, which is an issue for several reasons:
At the top of the Make Together page, it reads: “[t]hese figures include only cases that have been reported to SAIC among community members who are working or living on campus.” This means that all data was collected by voluntary reporting, which contributes to a commonly known sampling bias.
Visitor cases are not included, since the numbers were so low.
There is no data publicly available about how many people were on campus at these times.
This data cannot reflect the numbers of infectious but asymptomatic cases; by definition, people need to notice before they can self-report.
As Dr. Rebmann suggested, it’s possible that many of these cases came from off-campus activity. However, with COVID-19 having unpredictable onset, effects, and symptoms that differ between individuals, no real conclusions can be drawn.
Zine Not Dead is a comic reading series that is hosted quarterly. The most recent Zine Not Dead was hosted on Feb. 26th at the Archer Ballroom. There were performances from Audrey Gallacher (BFA 2023), Kelly Wang (BFA 2022), Gabriel Mason Howell (BFA 2018), Lenny Jooce, Caroline Cash (BFA 2019), Alex and Hannah Larson Hall, and Tommy Parrish.
This was Tessa Gould’s (BFA 2023) first Zine Not Dead. Gould shared, “I wasn’t sure what to expect from Zine Not Dead. I was most excited to see how the artists were going to be presenting their comics, and I was not disappointed!”
It was Kelly Wang’s reading at Zine Not Dead. “Being able to share my work with a group of people I admire and love so much and hearing them scream and cackle at it is part of why I love this community so much.”
Lenny Jooce performed a piece about the praxis of their practice. “What am I if not a man standing on a dinner plate?”
Caroline Cash read a new comic, “Tax Season.” Pictured here is the opening panel, and on the floor is Zine Not Dead’s mascot, a snake named Zine.
Matt Davis and Brad Rohloff (BFA 2014), organizers of Zine Not Dead, perform a skit before introducing the next reader. Here they are showing off their super strength and lifting the snake Zine.
Kabbalists say that there is a phrase that says: “mishenichnas adar marbim b’simcha” which means, “when the month of Pisces enters, joy multiplies.” Pisces is the month of joy, but paradoxically we do not see this in reality. Pisceans are known to be more gloomy, more melancholic, so why do Kabbalists attribute joy to this month?
It is important to understand that , despite appearances, Pisces is not a sad month, but being happy during this period requires effort. And the one who makes the effort — both Pisces for life and all of us during the Pisces cycle — can achieve great joy. It is not a coincidence that the Kabbalistic feast of joy, called Purim, takes place in Pisces. It is not by chance either, Carnaval and St. Patrick’s day also always falls around this time. The energies of celebration and joy are present here, and attract these happy events.
As it happens, Saturn entered Pisces on Purim, ending its Aquarius-Capricorn cycle of the past five years. And we want to see the positive side of that. Saturn is very favored when it is in Capricorn and Aquarius, as it is the ruling planet of these two signs. But, like it or not, Saturnian energy is more difficult, tense, and cold in these positions because hardness is an intrinsic characteristic of this planet. When Saturn entered Pisces on the 7th of March, it gave us the opportunity to enter a warmer, artistic, psychic, sensitive, spiritual, and empathetic mode. With Saturn’s ingress in Pisces, there is a lesson to be learned. Just as Saturn in Capricorn taught us great lessons during the pandemic about the economy, work, career, and home office, and Saturn in Aquarius taught us the strong connections we have with all of humanity, Saturn in Aquarius came to teach us that we are all one. If something happens anywhere in the world, the whole world is affected. Saturn in Pisces comes to teach us the lesson of empathy. This year, therefore, the Pisces cycle is special because it inaugurates two and a half years of learning empathy, warmth, affection, intuition, and love.
When Pisces energy enters, we connect with unity and mercy. But it is always necessary to balance these forces. The condition for helping someone is that the other person wants to be helped. If you’re just being merciful to a person who always hurts you, and you look at the situation with pink glasses and think “Okay, you can keep hurting me because I want unity with you,” then something is wrong. The idea is that we can only help people if they are helping themselves. Pisces don’t wait for the others to help themselves; Pisces wants to save the world. Saturn in Pisces for the next three years creates the energy of spiritual people who want to save the world. This will not happen. We are not going to save the world. We need to first sense whether the other person wants help before jumping in to save them. If you are not comfortable confronting someone because you want to be too spiritual, then what can happen is that the situation will come back at you. Nobody is asking you to save anybody, you are not a martyr. We cannot fight or die in the name of God. We need to connect with a higher level of spirituality. Having a greater desire, but a detachment on the same level. If someone comes to ask you for help, then you can help. A person needs to have the merit to change: if she didn’t deserve it, it won’t happen, it’s not in your hands. We also need to have the merit of being saved. The solution will come to you when you have the merit.
The great question is that we don’t know how much we need to do and how much is in the hands of the universe. The higher your level of consciousness is, the less you have to do, and the more the universe can do.
Sun and Moon are close to Saturn on this previous New Moon, and they mark a new beginning for this lunation. Saturn, the God of time, is making the final push. It’s time to know if what we are doing in life is actually working, what structures are good for us, what we want to keep, and what’s not working. Pisces is two-sided, at the most advanced level, if we are asking questions, we will receive answers and divine inspiration. By asking for help, we are already doing our part. We are creating a desire for the solution to come. How much am I willing to let go of what isn’t working for me? Let’s make small changes, and show the universe that we want to change. If we want to see the truth, the truth will show itself. The question is, do I really want to see the truth, even if it’s painful? If yes, then divine inspiration will come, and we will receive divine messages from the subconscious. They will reveal themselves, and they will present themselves. We have to have the merit to see the truth.
According to Kabbalah, the planet that governs Pisces is Jupiter, even though in modern astrology it is associated with Neptune. This means that we will have the opportunity in the month of Pisces to connect with the planet Jupiter, after three months since Sagittarius. Now we emphasize the energies of Jupiter, and we want to meditate so that we can balance the harder energy of Saturn with the expansive energy of Jupiter.
In addition to being a visual artist, Diana Motta is also a Kabbalistic astrologer. She spent fourteen years immersed in kabbalah studies and graduated at the renowned Academy of Kabbalistic Astrology. She works as a professional astrologer with personalized chart reading services and as a columnist for Harper’s Bazaar Brazil. You can follow her Instagram profile for more astrology tips at @dika_astra_eng.
Panel 1. Starr Ramone is standing outside a voting station with Jolene Lyne-Vicious, who is smoking. Starr has an ” I Voted” sticker. Jolene asks, “Why even vote? Politicians are just arms of a fascist system, it doesn’t make a difference who wins.” Panel 2. Starr speaks, disapprovingly, saying “I’d expect that level of nihilism from a chainsmoking 16-year-old.” In the background behind her, Karl Ritchie, Dave Lyne, and Bebe Davenport approach. The three are talking jovially. Panel 3. Karl grabs Starr’s arms, shaking her excitedly. Starr is startled. Jolene watches, judgmentally, taking a drag. Karl asks, “Hey Starr! Who’d you vote for? ” Panel 4. Jolene smirks, holding her cigarette. She says, “Democracy is in great hands.”
Panel 1. Starr Ramone is standing outside a voting station with Jolene Lyne-Vicious, who is smoking. Starr has an ” I Voted” sticker. Jolene asks, “Why even vote? Politicians are just arms of a fascist system, it doesn’t make a difference who wins.”
Panel 2. Starr speaks, disapprovingly, saying “I’d expect that level of nihilism from a chainsmoking 16-year-old.” In the background behind her, Karl Ritchie, Dave Lyne, and Bebe Davenport approach. The three are talking jovially.
Panel 3. Karl grabs Starr’s arms, shaking her excitedly. Starr is startled. Jolene watches, judgmentally, taking a drag. Karl asks, “Hey Starr! Who’d you vote for? “
Panel 4. Jolene smirks, holding her cigarette. She says, “Democracy is in great hands.”