French Club Celebrates Mardi Gras and Tries to Save the French Minor

By Karen Chaparro

When curious guests looked into the Language Lab, they were greeted by heartfelt laughter, merrymaking, and bead necklaces as the French club invited them to join in on the Mardi Gras festivities.  

“Mardi Gras, from how I see, celebrates it in a secular way, Francophone culture as well as our own American culture,” said the president of the French club Veronica Johnson.

Mardi Gras is a holiday, prominently celebrated in New Orleans which has a large Francophone community, known for its lavish costumes, fatty food, and carnival festivities.

In English, Mardi Gras translates to Fat Tuesday because it takes place the day before Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent where many Christians abstain from consuming certain foods.

In the spirit of Mardi Gras, an assortment of foods heavily associated with the celebration such as pączki and king’s cake were provided for everyone to enjoy.

However, despite the joyous occasion, there was great uncertainty behind the scenes.

At the time of Mardi Gras, the French minor had not been suspended. But, there had been concerns about finding a full-time French professor, after the previous professor retired, before the start of next fall semester.

As of March, the university canceled its search for a French professor after already having started the hiring process. The reasons for this decision are still unclear, but the French minor was suspended soon after. 

Although the university is willing to help a select few French minors who are further along in their degree fulfill their remaining credits, many French minors are being told to change their minors.

The French club has recently released a statement condemning the university’s decision to suspend the minor.

“This action set by Purdue University Fort Wayne sets a precedent for further reduction of foreign language programs throughout all levels of education,” according to their statement posted on Instagram.

The French club is a relatively new club at the university, having formed in March of 2023, but the French department has a longer and richer history at the university. 

 A large motivation for the formation of the French club has been to create an organized sense of community by providing opportunities for students to create strong bonds through participation in francophone culture.

This sentiment was also expressed by the French tutor Alisa Schrock about the role the French club and learning French has had in her life.

“It keeps me in on our French learning community,” Shrock said. “It’s important because not only do students share homework, but become friends through the time we spend together studying and learning new things.”

One exciting visitor at the event was the retired French professor Dr. Nancy Virtue. Even whilst retired, she maintains strong connections with the French club and former students who have created a close-knit community.

“The current group of students have been amazing at creating a sense of community,” Virtue said. “They’re really engaged, so that makes me so happy and easier for me to retire knowing that I was leaving the French program at such a vital moment.”

Although Virtue’s retirement has been a catalyst for great change; the French department has seen a renewed sense of dedication towards foreign language learning, which is being ignored by the university. 

One theme that kept coming up during the event was that of community. Culture brings people together. Simple acts such as eating together or living alongside each other gives us greater insight into each other’s lives.

The Mardi Gras event gave everyone there an opportunity to participate in a piece of culture and expand their worldview into different people’s learned experiences, which creates empathy for the people around us.

The French club encourages people to contact them at for more information about the ongoing situation and to spread the news to friends, family, and the university. Students can also sign the online petition to keep the French minor as an option for PFW undergraduates.

Oscar winner Michelle Mizner visits Cinema Center

By Noah Proffitt

The Cinema Center held a free screening of 20 Days in Mariupol and featured a Q&A with producer Michelle Mizner last month.

The film won best documentary this year at the 96th Academy Awards – the first time Ukraine has won an Oscar. The production covers the events witnessed by a team of Associated Press reporters trapped in the city of Mariupol during the first twenty days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Video journalist Mstyslav Chernov, photographer Evgeniy Maloletka, and producer Vasilisa Stepanenkothey captured the graphic damage the invasion caused and the lives that were lost during it. The film does not hold back from showing the violence and terror happening in the region, leaving audience members shocked and moved by the scenes displayed.

In the film, news broadcasts from around the world use the footage that reporters filmed while in Mariupol. News reports from Russia showed how they accuse the footage of being fake news or that the people trying to survive in Mariupol are paid actors.

After the screening of the film, Cinema Center held a Q&A with Mizner, the editor and producer of the award-winning documentary, and Ann Livschiz, professor in the department of history at PFW. Audience members were able to ask questions about the film, and news on Ukraine now.

Mizner works for Frontline, a television series produced by PBS covering a vast number of topics. There, she edits hour-long documentaries for the show. With 20 Days in Mariupol, it was her first time working on and editing a feature length film.

Mizner worked closely with Chernov, who was one of the cameramen capturing the footage and is the director of the project.

Mizner mentioned that she was working with Chernov directly via satellite phones during the twenty days. He would send the footage over whenever they had access to satellite connection.

At the same time, Chernov and his team were also trying to avoid the Russians, risking their safety to inform the world of what was really going on in Mariupol.

She describes the work process with Chernov as “making an album.” She says she was the “producer” of an album and Chernov was the artist “who brings vision or something integral to them.”

Mizner mentioned how much the film means to Chernov and the rest of the reporters who captured the footage. The camera crew are all from Ukraine and were deeply affected by what they witnessed and went through.

Mizner mentioned her own connection and passion for helping create the documentary.

“There are many things that I hope,” Mizner said. “One of those things I hope is journalism. We think about journalism, and what it takes to make good Journalism, and the risk they take to gather that information.” 

When Chernov came to the United States, both were able to finish the film with the footage they had. They were able to put out the message and facts in the film from the footage they gathered, to let people know what was really happening in Mariupol.

The event was held at the Cinema Center, a not-for-profit theater that shows a wide range of independent films and hosts unique events. Every year, they host their own film festival “Hobnobben,” showing local independent films and others from around the country.

The Center has held multiple events like this in the past, showing a movie, then holding a Q&A afterwards, with people who are educated on the topic. The goal is to allow citizens and audience members to engage with the material and ask their own questions, creating a space to hold important conversations.

After the event, audience members formed a lengthy line to thank Mizner for her work and for coming to the Cinema Center.

Mizner mentioned that all Frontline films are available for free on YouTube.

“They are long formed and deeply reported documentaries,” she said. She strongly encourages others to check them out at Frontline’s website, as they are a terrific way to learn about America and the world.

PFW Gives Faculty the Opportunity to Express Themselves Through Art

By Bayley McDonald

Purdue Fort Wayne displayed artwork created by faculty members and put them up for sale, with all the proceeds going to the Department of Art and Design scholarships.

The “Creatives” art exhibition had an opening ceremony on Feb. 1 with 44 creative works by 22 members of the PFW community.

This was an exhibition specifically for faculty and staff who maintain some kind of creative practice outside of their work on campus. This exhibition includes drawings, paintings, fiber arts, photography, glass art, and wood art.

The exhibition was coordinated by Derek Decker, the director of the Visual Arts Gallery and a professor at PFW. Decker has taught at PFW since 2012 and is currently teaching two classes this semester on top of running gallery events.

“To show the community, as well as our students on campus, some of the ways that art can influence your life,” said Decker when discussing the importance of this event.

He also discussed how many of the staff members use art to de-stress and connect to their creative side, apart from their role or department on campus.

Decker believes that art can always impact your life in a beneficial way, even if you are not a professional, and that should be celebrated.

“Instead of just seeing them as your engineering professor…no, that engineering professor also likes to wood turn,” Decker stated. “He also has, like we all do, likes and hobbies outside of what we do.”

Decker also discussed how this exhibition is an important way to humanize PFW faculty, and for the students to see another side of them.

One of the artists, Bruce Kingsbury, discussed the importance of this event, and displayed his piece Modest Femme.

Kingsbury is currently a professor in the biology department, and previously served in other roles such as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and chair of biology.

However, he spends his free time creating unique artwork, like the one pictured here.

“It is a form of validation, that people appreciate what I do,” Kingsbury said. “I think they did a very good job and gave my piece some life.”

Kingsbury described this event as a great way to get to discuss his art with others as well as a great opportunity to bring people together and create interactions that benefit students and staff.

This event also benefits Kingsbury in another way. He said he experiences feelings of believing he should not share his art due to “imposter syndrome”. However, this event gives him an opportunity to experience people enjoying his artwork.

He also believes it has great impacts for students.

“I think it’s great for students to pursue their dreams, and this is a way that the college can help do that, and a way that I can help do that,” Kingsbury said after discussing how the proceeds from this event go to scholarships for PFW students.

These scholarships help current, or future, students pursue their passion for art. Just in the 2020-21 academic year, $91,213 were awarded from the Department of Arts and Design scholarships. 

Lauryn Wulliman, a communications student at PFW, was also in attendance at the opening of the exhibition.

“They get to put their artwork out there and to show the world, especially students…something that they have put their heart and soul into,” she said.

Wulliman believes that it is essential for students to see and experience art in a way they may not usually do. She thinks this is beneficial in general, but specifically to non-art majors.

Wulliman also said that this event was very enjoyable, and she plans on attending next year. She also hopes that more students will take the time to come look at the artwork and meet the artists next year.

The exhibition was open from Feb. 1 to Feb. 25. Since the exhibit is now over, the artwork is no longer up for sale and the remaining artwork has been returned to their artists.

 However, Decker reported that 16 pieces were sold from the “Creatives” exhibition. This totaled out to $1,199.04 put toward the Art & Design Student scholarship fund.

Some Foam Fun in the Sun!

Lindsay Burke

Fall 2023

Fort Wayne, Ind – Purdue University Fort Wayne student housing held their annual welcome back events this week, starting with the notorious “Foam at the Disco” party on Wednesday evening. 

The student housing organization has been impactful in welcoming the university’s students, near and far. This social gathering has provided students and staff with the opportunity to socialize and create yearlong relationships. 

Journalism student, Emily Coverstone spoke highly of the event. “It’s a great way for students of any academic level to get to know one another and create friendships,” she said. “Classes can be tough sometimes, so it’s a great way to take a break from classes and just have fun.”

Marc Wanzer, another attendee of this year’s party, said that it was a fun opportunity to participate in events he hasn’t attended before in his three years as a PFW student. 

“I loved just walking around and seeing everything that was going on and being offered,” Wanzer said. “The same goes for the other events. It could be a mini horse in front of Helmke or free subs and shirts out in the Science Mall.” 

Developing a positive experience for students, especially those incoming, is vital to their success. According to Megan Lester, events such as this are an opportunity to learn just how involved the PFW faculty wants to be with the students. 

“They offer so many events and activities throughout the year to keep us from becoming too stressed,” Lester said. “And they also want to make sure that not only is college a fantastic learning experience but also a fun experience.”