Literacy program helps local community


Staff Writer

The crisis of adult illiteracy in the greater Salisbury area now faces a new enemy.

The Project READ program, sponsored by the Wicomico County Public Libraries, aims to decrease the proportion of illiterate adults within the local Salisbury and surrounding communities.

Project READ is a free one-on-one literacy program that assists adults in becoming fluent in basic reading, writing, fundamental mathematics, health and finance.

Wynnette Curtis, coordinator of the libraries’ program, spoke regarding the intentions and goals of the Project READ initiative.

literacy program

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“The adult literacy program is an innovation of one-on-one tutoring in areas of basic writing and math to computer-operation skills,” Curtis said. “[It] is more effective and tailored to individual learning styles as opposed to class-like settings.”

The current READ program, launched in September 2016, is the third iteration of several attempts at decreasing the statistic of Salisbury’s illiterate populous.

Past issues pertaining to funding and staffing have made the jumpstarting of READ far from easeful.

This time around, grants have been secured from organizations such as the the United Way, Henson Foundation, Friends of the Library and various Salisbury Rotary Clubs to ensure a permanent, more stable duration of the program’s existence.

“In the long-run, we aim to make READ an incorporated service of the library,” Curtis said.

The program’s qualified and dedicated volunteer literacy coaches provide tutoring sessions twice a week solely for the benefit of serving those less educated.

Coaches range from Wicomico County Health Department employees to local retirees; all of whom sign privacy agreements to secure tutees’ confidentiality.

Two Salisbury University faculty members participate in training the program’s prospective coaches and even take part in mentoring local illiterate.

Leonard Arvi, Ph.D., a professor of economics and finance at SU, explains his involvement with the program.

“The experience is very fulfilling, and I believe that it is a positive change to which I can help contribute,”Arvi said. “I assist in matters of finance; ranging from budgeting, money management, debts and check-cashing locations.”

Arvi joined the initiative after attending a city council meeting regarding the high volume of local employment opportunities in comparison to the low supply of qualified workers.

“The Wicomico County libraries announced the project at the meeting,” Arvi said. “…and with my experience in teaching money-saving and investment lessons in the past at James M. Bennett High, I decided to help train interested volunteer coaches for the program.”

Koomi Kim, Ph.D., a member of SU’s May Literacy Center, is also an integral part of the university’s contribution to the program at large.

As the host of supportive sessions of READ’s numerous tutors often held at the May Center, Kim shared some insight.

“I am very impressed with both the coordination of the program and motivation of the program’s volunteer coaches,” Kim said.

The program encourages one-on-one coaching staff from within the community.

The libraries’ downtown branch will be hosting an employment readiness seminar on Wednesday, April 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.

More information about Project READ is available at or 410-749-3612, ext. 159.

Couple furnishes SU’s third largest donation

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Photos by Sawyer Cornelius


Staff Writer

Salisbury will soon be equipped with an all-new Center for Entrepreneurship with the Rommels’ donation.

Dave and Patsy Rommel are Salisbury locals with deep ties to the University and its goal for student preparedness, especially within the business fields.

Dave Rommel began his professional career working for Rommel Electric Company, which was founded by his father in the late 1970s.

He grew the family business into the current Rommel Construction Group that specializes in electrical, mechanical, traffic and transit work.

The company also operates several Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealerships and Ace Hardware locations throughout the mid-Atlantic.

Dave Rommel’s mother is an SU alumna herself and is committed along with his wife, Patsy, in helping a new generation of entrepreneurs find success.

On Thursday, President Janet Dudley-Eshbach announced an overwhelming $5.5 million gift from the Rommels.

This benefits the establishment of the new Center for Entrepreneurship at the Plaza Gallery Building in downtown Salisbury, in addition to funding future campus and Perdue School activities.

The esteemed announcement was the culmination of SU’s eighth annual Phillip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery program, which provides some $200,000 in annual funding for young entrepreneurs throughout the region with Shark Tank-style competitions and pitches.

The news came as a prelude to Friday’s Entrepreneurship Competitions, also sponsored by SU, that offers close to $100,000 in annual cash awards.

The $20,000 Bernstein Achievement Award for Excellence initiated by local entrepreneur Richard Bernstein in 1986 is a cornerstone of the local support and yearning for entrepreneurial accomplishment.

“Patsy and I are thrilled,” Dave Rommel said. “It is an honor to be able to support our hometown University, and very easy to support something as progressive as this.”

The new Center is expected to be operational for student and public use by 2020.

It will feature shared co-op spaces, six offices, construction garages for winners of mentioned competitions, manufacturing space dedicated to robotics and a small assembly with usage of 3-D prototype printing services.

For clothing creations, textile workshops will grant sufficient space for manufactured apparel to be sold through an on-site “spirit store” at the downtown location.

Perdue School Dean Christy Weer underscored the day’s takeaways for those considering SU enrollment and business study interests.

“I think this gives students a greater vision of opportunity that not just any school can provide,” Weer said. “We hope to serve students in greater ways than ever before as a result of these coming improvements.”

The new center is only a portion of a much larger vision that the university and the City of Salisbury view on the horizon.

Their joint efforts aim at designating 30 acres in downtown as a Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise (RISE) Zone by the Maryland Department of Commerce. SU was recently announced as a qualified institution.

If said distinction is attained, the spurring of economic development and job creation with the assistance of property and income tax credits is promised to follow.

President Dudley-Eshbach described the recent years of city-university partnership.

“When I began in 2000, I felt the University was very inward-looking,” Dudley-Eshbach said. “It is extremely important that we have a connection to not only locals, but also residents of the Eastern Shore, entire State and ultimately the nation for assisting students through their entrepreneurial ideas.”

The Rommels’ gift is SU’s third largest financial donation to date and ushers in a new age of student opportunity and community cooperation.


UNESCO director-general presents violent extremism prevention lecture


Staff Writer

un photo

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova presents solutions to violent extremism during her speech on April 6 in the Guerrieri Academic Commons. Photo by Val Petsche

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova presents solutions to violent extremism during her speech on April 6 in Guerrieri Academic Commons.


Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Irina Bokova spoke at Salisbury University on April 6.


Over 400 students and faculty attended the presentation, which was entitled “Preventing Violent Extremism in the 21st century.”


This event was organized by Professor Brian Polkinghorn, SU executive director of the Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution, and Professor Mark Brennen, the UNESCO chair for Rural Community, Leadership and Youth Development at the Pennsylvania State University.


Bokova discussed solutions for building and sustaining peace, as well as ways of preventing violent extremism by cultivating a generation of global citizens.


She ultimately sought to provide the tools to overcome the challenges of a conflict-ridden society.


The speech was a part of the “One Person Can Make a Difference” lecture series hosted by the Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution.


Bokova communicated the dire need for a generation of global citizens that can challenge violent extremists through skills to react to hate speech.


In order to learn such skills, there must be an emphasis on improving literacy, civic engagement and tolerance.


Following an assertion that violent extremists are not born into such positions, but are made, Bokova provided appropriate responses to consider.


“Violent extremists promote fear and division—we must respond with skills, with opportunities for civic engagement, for intercultural dialogue,” Bokova said.


Bokova was also awarded the President’s Medal by Dr. Janet Dudley-Eshbach, President of Salisbury University.


The director-general was commended by Dr. Dudely-Esbach for her “lifelong dedication and service to the global community of [UNESCO], and for her major contribution to ensuring that girls have equal access to education.”


Bokova is the first woman to lead UNESCO, serving the organization since November 15, 2009. She has been recognized with state distinctions from across the world for her efforts to advance quality education, gender equality and sustainable development for all.



Cody Wehlan, SU graduate assistant for conflict resolution, stood among the audience to ask what people can do in their communities, as well as on the global scale, to create a welcoming atmosphere for people of all cultures and religions.


Wehlan formerly addressed the growing issue of a marginalized youth vulnerable to the influence of organizations with deceptive political agendas such as ISIS and Boko Haram.


“Well, I think the internet gives an enormous opportunity for these platforms. It very much goes along the lines of diversity and mutual understanding or respect,” Bokova said.


One such question asked what gives the director-general hope, which prompted the discussion on the tremendous progress education has made as a major component in today’s global political agenda.


“On one side I see a lot of hope for the future, but we have to think deeply in order to tackle some of these situations because hard power is not enough,” Bokova said.


The insight continued as Bokova accredited the work of those who are actively involved while also encouraging others to do the same.


“I think there are millions of people who understand what is there. Most importantly, they are committed, they are engaged, they are not bystanders just watching what is happening,” Bokova said.


No Haters: SU Celebrates Stop Hatin’ Week


Staff Writer

Salisbury University’s Student Government Association (SGA) hosted Stop Hatin’ Week on April 10 as a way for students to join together.


SGA Vice President Cearrah Sherman explained the initial purpose of this campus event.


“Stop Hatin’ Week was basically started to promote diversity and inclusion by saying stop hatin’ on our differences as far as cultural background to opinions and interests,” Sherman said.


To promote the event, different organizations came out to create a banner for Stop Hatin’ Week on April 6.


Though the banner painting was not in the official week, it helped to prepare for the following events. They are hung up in the middle of The Commons on display.


Each day presented a theme of unity through different events in which students could participate.


The first day’s event consisted of Family Feud in the Wicomico room; just like the game show with Steve Harvey, students were asked questions about Salisbury University. The first 100 people to attend received a free shirt.


April 11 followed with Tie Dy-versity, where students were able to create their own tie-dye shirts and receive a free “Stop Hatin’” shirt as well.


This activity highlighted the process of adding different colors together to make a beautiful shirt and used this action as a metaphor for different people coming together as one.


Wednesday kicked off the Love is Louder event. Shirts said, “Love is louder than __” and student were able to fill in the blank themselves.


Sophomore Ashley Lewis wrote on her shirt that love is louder than hate, saying that “it is better to love one another than to be hateful.”


Students also had the opportunity to post their response on social media platforms. SGA encouraged students to post what they thought onto Instagram with #LoveisLouder and #StopHatin.


Senior Peyton Reynalds shared her thoughts on the event.


“I like the fact it gives people the chance to say love is louder than something,” Reynalds said.


The Thursday event consisted of guest speaker Carlos V. Davis, and the topic of his presentation revolved around the title, “We is Greater than Me.”


“[SGA] noticed that there is a lot of separation between students here, whether it is race, organization, religion—anything like that,” Sherman said. “We just want to be a united force in the University of Maryland system.”


The speaker gave an interactive presentation that focused on teamwork building and Salisbury being a united campus.


Lastly, Friday concluded the week with an African Dancers & Drummers performance in Holloway Hall. The Southeast, Washington D.C. group provided a unique educational experience for Salisbury.


Stop Hatin’ Week gave people a “chance to try to come together and try to understand what other people are going through right now, even if they are not directly going through it,” Sherman said.


The intention of this week was to host events where people could relax before Easter and enjoy the spring weather.


“I felt like [SGA] definitely tried their best to get everyone to [go] to them and talk to them about how they felt,” Lewis said.


Sherman expressed SGA’s vision to help achieve a more unified student body.


“Student Government Association’s goal is really to be the liaison between the students and the faculty and the staff,” Sherman said.

Black Activism: A call to action through history and knowledge

By Syllia Newstead

Staff Writer


Feministiskt Initiativ’s Youtube video shown during lecture

Salisbury University hosted a Black Activism lecture on Tuesday evening in Conway Hall 153.

Assistant Professor Aston Gonzalez had a few insights on that topic. Gonzalez mainly teaches African American History from pre- and post-Civil War with some other history courses.

“It is a subject that more people need to know about, as well as it being a timely topic to help students and faculty members understand a pressing contemporary issue,” Gonzalez said.

The lecture began with the video, “Black Lives Matter Sweden” by Feministiskt Initiativ, which he first watched with his friends in England in 2016.

The video showed different black Swedes talking about black oppression and how it is dehumanizing the black race.

It also talked about how 700 black refugees drowned in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to reach Europe for a better life. The video is meant to persuade the viewers to take action.

“When they die, it’s just another article in the newspaper, sometimes,” Gonzalez said. “The racist violence towards black bodies is enabled through your inaction.”

The video ended with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., stating, “we must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.”

The question of what can be changed was prompted, followed with the emphasis that there’s a need for visibility on the topic and a change in laws.

He explains that to change the legislation and the police officers themselves, it is necessary to raise funds and have public protests like town halls and campaigns.

There have been multiple people in history who wanted to make the world conscious of what the lives of black people have been like.

Gonzalez talked about nine black activists, including Fredrick Douglas, Henry “Box” Brown, Ellen and William Craft and Martin Luther King Jr.

Gonzalez elaborated on each individual, explaining how they became famous in their community and the places they traveled to influence others to help support them.

Henry “Box” Brown mailed himself to freedom and went overseas to reenact him mailing himself. Brown then saved his money so he could buy his family members who were still enslaved.

Another activist, Marcus Garvey, established the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which became an enormous movement in African American history.

Many of the famous black activists traveled to Europe and gave their money to the cause to help fight against black oppression.

Gonzalez wanted people to learn from other people’s activism. He wanted people to listen to black leaders and to be acquaintances to people of all demographics.

“I wanted the audience to take from my lecture the broad range of strategies that African Americans had used over the past two centuries to fight for racial equality and justice,” Gonzalez said.

Overall, the goal was to provide insight to make activism personal by encouraging others to speak their minds to the public.

“We are the voice of the movement,” Gonzalez said. “Your story is personal and it can change people’s minds.”

East Campus improves athletic experience

By Sawyer Cornelius

Staff Writer

The spectacle of bulldozers, cranes and dirt mounds is anything but novel for current students of Salisbury University.

Several milestone improvements such as the expansion of student housing, on-campus parking and academic facility space are changes to happen within the decade.

Ongoing alterations to the East Campus athletic fields and facilities have since begun the construction process, with some already open for student and public use.

Matt Groves, a project manager for all SU architectural and engineering capital projects, spoke regarding the current scenes of construction near the tennis stadium and former soccer and intramural fields.

“The old soccer field will become the new soccer field,” Groves said. “Currently, storm water drainage corrections and upgrades to spectator seating is what can be seen at this moment in the construction progress.”

In addition to these improvements, updates to more modern LED lighting, scoreboard equipment and synthetic turf will become the new standard of athletic facilities at Salisbury.

As a former project architect of the Ewing Cole firm of Philadelphia, Groves believes that this year’s construction will make for a greater student-athlete and spectator experience.

“Increased amenities such as overhauled grandstand seating, ticket booths and all indoor restroom facilities as opposed to current Porta-Potty usage,” Groves said, “will surely add to the presentation and higher standard that SU has been working towards for years.”

The recent opening of the new softball stadium attests to the luxury and greater performance which SU yearns to achieve.

Construction activity at the corner of Avery and South Division Street can be seen, as preparations and advances on the relocation of the campus’ intramural (IM) field are underway.

The IM field will also be equipped with curb-to-curb synthetic turf, LED lighting with glare guard and key linkages of sidewalk and street lighting along Avery and South Division.

The turf will be lined and color-coded for multi-use purposes ranging from rugby and lacrosse to smaller activities such as flag football.

“In thelong-run, turf is more cost effective, requires less maintenance and is better looking than traditional seeded grass,” Groves said. “Each of these project improvements from the sidewalks to lighting advancements feature more safe designs and greater aesthetic appeal than their soon-to-be obsolete predecessors.”

The SU Architectural and Engineering department has their eyes set on the next construction project, which calls for the relocation of the Sea Gull baseball stadium to the grounds of the former IM field.

The work is said to be finished by the start of the 2018 spring season, with construction bidding beginning this June.

Along with the operational softball stadium, the baseball complex will also feature an elevated press box, grandstand seating, dugouts, bull pins, batting cages and efficient lighting and scoreboard technology.

The mentioned athletic improvements are budgeted around $19 million and are certainly set to positively impact both student-athlete and spectator experiences at SU.

Additional information on the East Campus improvements, future construction activities or any other developmental happenings around campus can be addressed by Salisbury Architectural and Engineering Services and Capital Projects department through

Ride Along: Inside look of Salisbury police department

By Stephanie Chisley

Staff Writer


While I was nervously sitting in the Salisbury Police Department waiting for an officer to approach, there were numerous thoughts going through my mind.

The door swings open and Officer Kelly Oppel walks in, standing at about 5 feet 3 inches tall and wearing a gray and navy blue pant uniform with a low ponytail.

A single mother of two, Officer Oppel has been working for the Salisbury Police Department for three years and is the only female officer that is a part of the B-squad shift.

Officer Oppel stated that being a female within the police department is a good thing because there are not a lot of them. One piece of advice that she shared for women who are interested in the police department was to make sure that it is something that one can handle.

“You have to have tough skin,” she said. “You have to be able to handle a situation as it’s presented to you and make quick decisions.”


After taking off from an injury during a fight, Officer Oppel is back on the streets, patrolling within her beat in south Salisbury. Within the first 15 minutes driving down Camden Ave., she received her first dispatch call of the day to Prince St., stating that there is a subject down.

Officer Oppel stated that they contacted a man who was laying in the middle of the road and that he could not tell them what year it was or his date of birth.

“He needed help we were able to provide it for him,” Oppel said. “If not, he could’ve been ran over because he was laying in the middle of the road.”

As five teenage boys were riding their bikes along the sidewalk, Officer Oppel drove alongside them, speaking her thoughts aloud.

“Aren’t they supposed to be in school?” Oppel said while staring them down trying to see if she recognizes any of them. “Who we got?”

Officer Oppel slowed the car down as she tried to make out who the boys are.

“Naw, that’s not what’s-his-face,” she said as she sped the car up.

On the Job

Before joining the Salisbury Police Department, Officer Oppel was a veterinary technician for 11 years. Determined to try something new, she decided to become an animal control officer.

After being on field training for three months, she was offered a position to become a cop a week later. With a family history of aunts and uncles being cops, she had no intentions of becoming one.

“I had to go through the academy,” Officer Oppel said. “I did not know if I wanted to do all that, but I ended up doing it and I am glad I did it.”

Within the media, cops are portrayed as the “bad guys” when handling situations, especially when it comes to race. Due to the numerous amounts of deaths, cops are looked at as villains.

Officer Oppel shared that it does not matter what it is that you are doing—someone has a bad opinion about someone no matter what job they have.

“It’s like they let one bad cop or a few bad cops destroy how they let people think about them,” she said, “because I know I’m not bad, but people do not get to see that side.”

As the topic developed, confusion and shock showed on Officer Oppel’s face as she shared that when showing up to a scene to help, people are not saying, “I’m so glad you’re here.” Instead it is, “Why are you here?”

“When I get out on a scene everybody’s like, ‘Oh they sent you?’” she said in a mocking tone. “I’m like ‘okay, I may be short, but I can get something done.’”

Though Officer Oppel has a passion for working on the force, there is one thing that she finds distasteful.

Growing up, she said that she always saw cops as good people and would always want to go speak to them.

“Nowadays, you just don’t have it,” she said. “The respect and the things that I grew up knowing and doing; it’s not the same anymore.”


The Other Side

Although Officer Oppel may be a cop, she still has another job when getting off duty: returning home as a mother.

On the days that she is off, Officer Oppel spends time with her two boys at the trampoline park. She even visits her mother, father, two brothers and two sisters.

“Your only time off is to spend time with family,” she said. “All of my other time is spent here at the department.”

Final Thoughts

Just like other civilians, Officer Oppel has goals that she would love to accomplish.

She sat in the driver’s seat, reminiscing as the excitement showed on her face.

“In all reality, what my goal is is to become a detective,” she said.

Officer Oppel shared a short story about being assigned to a case at the La Quinta Inn where a room was charged for $16,000 and the guests skipped out on the bill.

Oppel said that she figured out who they were and got them charged.

“It’s just the feeling of actually getting someone who think they are going to get away with something and they don’t,” Oppel said.

With all the chaotic crime and backlash from the media, Officer Oppel still reports for duty when scheduled.

“I love my job,” Oppel said. “I love knowing that I am going to help someone today and someone is going to remember me.”

“It’s frustrating and agitating at times but, at this point, since I’ve done it, I wouldn’t want to do any other job.”

Students react to new tailgate rules

By Lexi Malinowski

Staff Writer

The lot outside the stadium had a cheerful beat to it, with people laughing and an occasional ‘clink’ from a game of horseshoes.

When the whistle blew, the stadium murmured with little to no fans in sight.

Salisbury University students at the tailgate on Feb. 18 celebrated, but, come game time, the tailgate had moved to a different street rather than the stands.

SU followed up the incident by cancelling the following tailgate, changing the rules to limit alcohol consumption and regulate parking, possibly impacting turnout for tailgates to come.

Sophomore McKinsey Middleton shared her reaction to the changes.

“I thought the rule changes were a little drastic for the kind of event it is,” Middleton said. “Canceling it was unnecessary; nothing serious happened, no one got hurt, so I didn’t see a need to cancel it.”

Junior Kaylie Dunbar worked as an EMT at tailgates in the fall semester.

“I don’t think anything happened that they shouldn’t have expected to happen. Tailgating was fine the way it was.” Dunbar said.

Alcohol was limited to beer and wine, but students could bring as much as they wanted. Now, students are limited to six alcoholic beverages per person, still allowing only beer and wine.

Tailgates now have drop-off zones where people can unload their grills, coolers and games versus parking their cars there.

Interim Director of Athletics, Dr. Gerard DiBartolo, said these changes were made to avoid drunk driving and a mass consumption of alcohol without the intent of going to the game.

DiBartolo said the cancellation was due to many concerns that had been brought to the committee’s attention.

“There were concerns for student safety, concerns from community members because of an incident in a residential area,” DiBartolo said. “Concerns of people not attending the game after and concerns to the whole purpose and reason for tailgating.”

DiBartolo is a part of a committee, with Vice President of Student Affairs

Dr. Dane Foust and Chief of University Police Edwin Lashley. They are in charge of tailgating rules, expectations and planning the tailgates.

DiBartolo estimated that at the first football tailgate and the homecoming football game, around 500 people attended each tailgate and the mass majority went to the game.

The outcome of the tailgate before the women’s lacrosse game in February contrasted to the previous tailgates in the fall.

The tailgate following the women’s lacrosse game had no turn out. DiBartolo said a few factors were involved in the reason why no one went.

“You have to keep in mind, it was very cold and early on a Sunday morning, people couldn’t drive in and park, and there were the rule changes,” DiBartolo said.

Middleton said she plans on going to future tailgates despite the rule changes.

“I think the reason no one went was to protest the new rules and because of how early it was, but they’ll get over it and start going,” Middleton said.

Gabbi Nieves, a senior on SU’s women’s lacrosse team, said the team did not really know that there was a tailgate for their game and they were not expecting to see many people there.

“We love having fans; we play a lot better when we have an audience,” Nieves said, “It’s cool that our school has tailgates, but I think the new rules will make people not want to go.”

DiBartolo said he is hopeful for the future of tailgating and wants to see it continue.

“We would love for tailgating to be an experiment that works. It becomes an opportunity to build school spirit and [an] opportunity for students and community members to come together and support the athletic teams,” DiBartolo said.

“It will continue and continue to build. We want people to come, we want it to be packed, and we’re hopeful that this will help us build that student pride in the university.”

Gullfest 2017 brings new changes and questions for the future

This is the corrected version of an article that appeared in the April 4, 2017 edition of The Flyer.

After an unexpected withdrawal from artist Logic, SU’s Student Orgnaization for Activity Planning (SOAP) pushes ahead with Gullfest featuring rapper D.R.A.M. as the concert headliner.

According to the SOAP’s post on Instagram on March 25, two more revealed artists, Niykee Heaton and pop/funk band Ripe, will serve as supporting acts.

Logic pulled out from the show as his representatives explained he needed to work on his upcoming album, Everybody, which is set to be released on May 5, 2017, two days before the Gull Fest event, May 7, 2017. A middle agency, Concert Ideas, works between SOAP and the artists in order to negotiate details.

Prior to Logic’s pull, SOAP had teased the rapper’s reveal over their Instagram account using hints such as a picture in relation to the artist’s last name, the Maryland flag, and his birth year 1990.

SOAP’s goal was to improve concert from the issues it faced last year, as The Flyer previously reported on in 2016.

Concert Chair Liana Ramos-Izquierdo expressed her interests in turning over a new leaf.

“After everything that happened last year, we’re trying to rebuild our brand, regain students’ trust,” Ramos- Izquierdo said.

The concert chair also notes they were trying to add new features to Gullfest to make it “more like a festival experience,” Ramos-Izquierdo said. The show may also feature food trucks and other activities, which the organization hopes will make it a better overall experience.

This is not the first year SOAP and the university administration has had to balance student preferences for artists and cost.

Past Gullfest attendance has been low compared to the overall population of the school. According to the director of the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership (CSIL), formerly Student Activities, Tricia Garvey Smith, the 2016 show featuring Jason Derulo attracted around 600 students.  The previous year sold approximately 1700 tickets, but ended up drawing about 1200 attendees.

The concert uses a portion of student activities money. Attendance, however, does not determine the budgeting for the next Gullfest, Smith explained.

SU’s CSIL has always set aside funds for a concert every year. Past concerts have had current stars like Taylor Swift, prior to their breakout releases.

Established stars price themselves beyond the means of colleges, opting for larger stadium performances that out-earn campus shows.

Students often do not want an up-and-coming artist until they are more established, from the point of view of the CSIL.

Smith questioned the future of the program, citing lower attendance numbers and amount of money the show uses in student activity fees.

“I do think there’s going to be a time to decide, is this really how we want to spend 200,000 dollars?” Smith said.

Other than entertainment, Gullfest continues to provide opportunity for students to learn how to plan and coordinate a show. This includes the process of set stage and concert area set up.

As many ideas are still in progress for future events to come Gullfest will be held on May 7 this year. More information about the event will be released as the date further approaches.

Artist talk: Onajide Shabaka presents recent project

By Lexi Malinowski

Staff Writer

A hum of conversation filled the gallery while spotlights hung over the rows of people anticipating the artist’s presentation during the nature/nurture series at the downtown SU gallery Thursday night.

Onajide Shabaka, an artist and cultural practitioner, presented one of his more recent projects, entitled “Antillean Lacunae: A Litany of Botanical.” He educated his audience about the history of how the African slave trade brought people the rice and food they still enjoy today.

He showed maps of the areas from which the rice plants came and described how they traveled to other countries. Shabaka provided his paintings and photos that were based off the history he was presenting.

Shabaka explained the incorporation of how walking contributes to his creative process. Normally he takes pictures with his phone, and practices being mentally aware of his surrounding.

“I just got tired of going to church, there’s too many games, it’s too political, and I felt most spiritual in the woods. That’s how walking started for me,” Shabaka said.

Walter Zimmerman, a visitor at the presentation, said he recognized the basis of Shabaka’s talk about how transatlantic pollination formed capitalism as we know it.

“It’s a fascinating topic, I have been exposed to the same material and it was grueling to read. I had no idea what that enterprise was like,” Zimmerman said.

Tara Gladden, Salisbury University’s gallery manager, said Shabaka is one of generally 12 speakers a year. He is amongst faculty and guest curators that are asked to visit the SU gallery.

“I thought it was interesting to think about the history of plants and how the plants were provided by the slave trade,” Gladden said.

Senior Ashley Broadie attended the talk for a class and was excited to see Shabaka and his pieces. She said he is artistically intelligent in the fact that his pieces were very simple but conveyed something that is complicated politically.

“I’m half Jamaican and have Caribbean roots and it’s cool to be able to relate to these stories and pieces,” Broadie said.

Shabaka’s interactive work allows an opportunity for the public to experience the connectivity of his work.

Some pieces included a photograph of bananas dripping with nectar, followed by a simple photo of two pans of banana bread.

His perception of everyday things can be shared and expanded into reaching mankind through kindness and simplicity.

“I picked the bananas in the photograph, and made six pans of banana bread that I shared with all of my friends,” Shabaka said. “That’s the beautiful thing about food, you can share it with other people.”