northeastern university

Doing the Northeastern Shuffle

By Catherine Titcomb
Photography courtesy of Unsplash.com

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Every college campus experiences some degree of fluidity as students come and go, whether to transfer in or out, graduate, or study abroad. This is emphasized at Northeastern largely because of the co-op program, and the phenomenon has earned its own name, the “Northeastern Shuffle.”

N.U.i.n Fall and Spring, out-of-state and country co-ops, co-op cycles and studying abroad affects friendships, relationships and rooming situations. As soon as a student settles, half of their friends leave. However, many Northeastern students believe the fluid campus is what makes the university so unique, and should be seen as an asset.

Lucy Hoffman, a second year student, argued that Northeastern “helps to create an atmosphere where there is always someone new to talk to with an amazing experience and insight to share.” People leave to experience wildly different things, and come back to share their knowledge with their peers, contributing to an socially aware and worldly student body.

Rachel Sigel, another second year, said that the changes often “make it difficult to maintain close relationships with students and faculty.” Friends, research partners and network connections are some of the most valuable takeaways from college, and Northeastern’s constant state of change can make it difficult to establish and maintain relationships.

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At the risk of sounding like a commercial for experiential learning, most students cite the co-op program as a reason for their attendance at Northeastern. However, because of co-op students have at most two years and at least a year and a half of classes before being thrown into the workforce, forcing them to adopt a new routine. The shift from classes to work forces students to learn flexibility, be uncomfortable, learn quickly and build a new network of peers.

I applied to Northeastern because I wanted to have a typical college experience in Boston as well as gain career experience. My acceptance letter told me I would have to spend my first semester abroad, which was the last thing I wanted. I wanted the freshmen floor friends, dining halls and sports games that my friends would be experiencing. I decided to sacrifice this idealistic tableau of my first semester at college for the next four and a half years at my dream school. Now, I cannot imagine freshman year without the friends I made in Greece through the traveling and the memories. My perfect college plan was interrupted from the start because of Northeastern, but the way it worked out prepared me for future location changes on co-op and taught me that allowing change pays off. This flexible mental state is necessary to survive at Northeastern, and is also essential for success and happiness in life.

Accepting flux at Northeastern is a step towards accepting flux in the world. Nothing is more inevitable than change, yet people never expect it. Relying on stagnation and permanence for our happiness leads to hurt.

In his novel Looking for Alaska, John Green references the Buddhist teaching that desire causes suffering and interprets it as, “When you stopped wishing things wouldn’t fall apart, you’d stop suffering when they did.” Both small and drastic changes happen throughout life, and being open to this flux frees one to accept every aspect of life, even if it turns out to be different than what was dreamed or planned for. The Northeastern shuffle causes students to expect change and learn to be flexible, which proves valuable even out of the context of campus.

It is this flux that continues throughout our lives that make life interesting. Despite the pain and confusion it can sometimes cause, change adds variety and combats boredom. This makes it a vital aspect of fashion. For many, picking out a different outfit everyday is one of the best parts of the day. In the fashion industry, designers must embrace flux because the industry relies on newness in collections, techniques, and trends. Rapid change in the fashion industry makes it an example of the beauty of flux and an argument for embracing change. Flux makes fashion interesting, it makes Northeastern interesting and it makes life interesting.

When Your Niche Is Nowhere

By Kaela Anderson
Photographed by Jacqueline DeVore

This article has been adapted for the web from our Outsider Issue.

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When I applied to various colleges and universities across the United States my senior year of high school, I had three goals for my college experience. I wanted to be in a city, I wanted to travel, and I wanted to be in a diverse environment. Receiving my invitation to N.U.in and the eventual stay on Boston’s campus, my first two wishes were quickly granted.

Unfortunately, my final wish has not been granted. Since being here, the harsh realities of the lack of African American representation in higher education have set in. Instead of admiring the beauty Northeastern possesses, I constantly find myself scrutinizing the student body. In my classrooms, at the gym, around campus, I find myself searching for any kind of evidence that proves my third wish will eventually come true.

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Despite Northeastern’s size and prestige, its admissions website says only six percent of African American students enrolled in their undergraduate program. This means that, in my lecture of 150 students, I can count on two hands the number of African American students in the room each class. As for my smaller classes, I am usually the only African American student in the room.

I suppose I could be proud of this, and see these statistics as some sort of triumph, but I don’t. And I never will. Considering that the census lists 13.3% of the population as African-American, Northeastern’s measly 6% reveals the apparent systematic faults of higher education in the United States. The lack of diversity at even a world-renowned institution like Northeastern suggests that it is not an isolated case. I am grateful to attend such an esteemed university, and the modern job market makes it imperative for my success that I receive an education. But being a part of a successful academic community that doesn’t make up for the lack of diversity in the classroom.

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Northeastern prides itself on its “diverse” community, even highlighting its level of diversity for prospective students on its admissions website. The school alludes that it’s filled with a student body from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds - but housing students from across the globe does not make it an ethnically inclusive environment. During the winter club fair this past January, I scanned the event hall for clubs that I would be able to identify with. The only one I found was the Mixed Student Union, but even then, I have been reluctant to attend one of their meetings. Although I want to meet people who understand my experience as a woman of color in the Northeastern Community, I want it to be throughout the entire school, not just in one room. I don’t want to have just a place where I can go once a week to fill my void of diversity - it would just remind me of the one wish that hasn’t been ‘granted’ by this university.

Unfortunately, my wish for diversity within Northeastern is not unique. Students of color at colleges and universities across the nation are in the same shoes as me, with no one that understands their experiences to turn to in times of need. Six percent of African American undergraduate students is not enough. Students should never have to feel like an outcast in their community, and we desperately need this to change.

Sources:
northeastern.edu 
census.gov  

Must See: The Middle School Throwback in NEU's Theatre Department's Latest Musical

By: Non Kuramoto

Remember those awkward middle school days, when you felt lonely, but didn't know how to express it? You felt misunderstood by your friends and family, and had no real way to measure your success? Have you hoped to have grown out of all of that since, but still notice that it's never really left you? Sometimes, you catch a glimpse of that person as you look into the mirror. How do you feel?

The Northeastern University Theatre Department presents the laugh-out-loud musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, filled with quirky characters and catchy tunes that will have you jamming out.

Directed by Scott Edmiston, Chair of the Theatre Department, the musical achieves a balance between being incredibly funny and leaving pits in our stomachs from nostalgia of how difficult pre-pubescent life was for all of us.

The costuming is a key element that brings the characters to life, both on stage and within the audience members’ childhood memories. The costume designer for this play is Beckie Price CAMD’17, a fourth year theatre major on the production track with a concentration in costume design.

I interviewed Beckie about the process of designing costumes for a theatrical production, and to get her take on the play from a designer’s perspective.

N: How did you become the designer of the show?

B: I assisted Frances [Frances McSherry—also the advisor of Fashion and Retail Society!] when she designed costumes for The House of Bernarda Alba last semester. Scott was looking for a designer for his show, and she recommended me to him.

N: What has the process been like?

B: The process has been really great. It was very collaborative from the start. The design team (Director, costumes, set, light, sound, etc) met about the concept before winter break so we had time to hash it out, then we met again after winter break to finalize it. The entire design team came up with the concept together, so we were confident going in that our final products would work well together. I also met individually with Scott a couple of times to get his opinions on specific costuming ideas.

N: So what was the concept?

B: We started off by discussing a lot of different ideas—like do we want to be literal, or do we want to make everything abstract? In the end, we ended up choosing the very literal path; the theatre looks like a middle school gym and the audience seating is classroom chairs. We really wanted the audience to experience the “return to middle school” nostalgia, and to draw them in to feel sympathy for the kids. Also, since a lot of the songs are inside the characters’ heads and have fantastical elements to it, having the visual aspects be literal kept everything grounded.

N: What was the process of designing and finding costume pieces?

B: I did a ton of online research at the beginning. Several characters have very specific clothes, like a Catholic girls’ school uniform or a grammar school uniform. One character is a Boy Scout, and I had to figure out how many badges would make sense for his age. To get the pieces themselves, I did a lot of shopping. I searched through shops ranging from Old Navy to The Garment District, and found some stuff online.

N: What were some of the challenges you faced?

B: The hardest part was making everybody look like kids. I mean, I’m dressing college students to look like middle schoolers! I focused a lot on hiding curves in girls, and making them look as shapeless as possible. For the guys, I gave them tighter pants. [laughs] 

N: Which is your favorite costume?

Leaf Coneybear. I love his costume. His cape is traditionally red, but Scott and I decided that he lived on a farm with his huge family and hippy parents… so we tie-dyed his cape. Olive usually wears overalls, but I put them on Leaf. In the play, Rona mentions that Leaf makes his own clothes, so I’m putting a bunch of patches on the overalls to give it the hand-made look. He also wears a helmet that looks like a bear because he falls a lot, and wears cowboy boots. It’s all just so adorable.

N: What do you want people to look forward to in the play?

B: The show is just super fun, and the actors portray their characters perfectly—obviously the costumes help! I’ve seen the play a couple times already, and it makes me laugh every time. The show calls for audience volunteers and has a lot of ad-lib, so the play changes every night and you never know what you’re going to see!

N: What do you have in store for you?

B: Well, this coming fall, I will be on Co-op at the Drury Lane Costume Shop in Chicago. They make costumes for a lot of plays that move to Broadway, so I’m very excited. After I graduate, I plan to continue pursuing costuming, both designing and in the costume shop. I hope to stay in theatre because the TV and film industry can be more political while theatre will give me the freedom to be creative. Also, I just love the live aspect of theatre!  

 

Photo by Non Kuramoto

Photo by Non Kuramoto


The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee opens on Tuesday, March 22 and runs until Sunday April 3. Tickets are $5-$8 for students and $12 for adults and available on MyNEU

Images: Northeastern University Theatre Department, Becky Price