1370 Connection Transcript, aired 5/1/2007

RIT Student Government President, Liz Sorkin

BOB SMITH (BS)

On WXXI News, prerecorded this hour. This is 1370 Connection. I'm Bob Smith. This hour, we're going to be hearing from another member of a group of people we've been speaking with recently who we're going to be hearing a great deal more from in the years ahead. People who are taking on leadership roles on Rochester area college campuses now in preparation for a leadership role in society and in the economy when they complete their schooling. Ms. Sorkin is president of the RIT student government and a future film and animation industry professional, with a difference; she is also hearing impaired and she's here in the studio today along with her interpreter, Julie Dandar. And thank you very much by the way for being here today; I welcome you to the program. And I'd like to begin with a discussion of the big issues that are on your campus right now. What concerns students at RIT right this minute the most?

Liz Sorkin (LS)

Right now, right now, ok, I guess one of the concerns, I think it's good to know that there are concerns, you know, even though there might be many prefer than just apathy on a campus. There are some concerns such as healthier food on campus or longer hours for the food service or copies of textbooks in the library is something that we're working on. We're trying to add a sidewalk to the back loop of our campus. So a lot of little things are going on and we have many different goals that student government is working on. Some we have completed and accomplished, and some are still in the progress. We've picked some up from last year's student government; because we feel they have merit to continue to be worked on.

BS

I have been told, apropos of textbooks, which you mentioned in the context of the library, that the cost of textbooks have gotten outrageous. How much does a typical semesters' worth of textbooks cost?

LS

Well we did do a pole, and it definitely varies, because we have engineering students and art students and their curriculum needs are different. But roughly, we're on a quarter system, just by the way, at RIT, and it could be $400.

BS

$400 per quarter?

LS

Yeah, yeah, roughly, that's a rough estimate. Yes.

BS

If an academic year is 3/4 which I guess it is,

LS

Correct, yes.

BS

Than does that mean you could end up spending over $1,200 a year on just your books?

LS

Yes, yes it does. Sometimes some books can be $175 or $100 for one book, and if you're lucky you can maybe get it for $80. But yeah it's expensive. One difficulty is that sometimes professors don't really even use the book, it's not something they go really through, they just touch on it, a few points in the book. So students will invest so much of their money into these books that hardly get used. Another side of the argument though is that you benefit by having these books you know in your library when you become a professional so even if you're not using it in the classroom, it's good to have in your collection. So there's some different perspectives on that.

BS

Ah, it's I think to a lot of people going to sound like a pretty tenuous argument. But even leaving that aside for the moment, how do people
deal with those costs; is it a burden that they're able to bear?

LS

They work, a lot of students work. Some will apply for scholarships, and send out for some outside help. Loans are sometimes taken, but that's really a headache have to pay back. For the most part, students work. They hold jobs. So now student government is looking into different ways on how we can plug into those students needs, whether that's having a copy of the textbooks in the library, some of those books are already currently in the library. But where we get that money to invest in a project like this, we're just not sure yet. Some students definitely feel strongly they want to keep their books; they're not interested in using copies from the library because they want them in their collection. But many students might be wiling to take advantage of that program. We obviously can't put 30 copies of a textbook in a library, but could we get 2 and do we get one for all the classes? So there's many different ways to approach this project. Maybe we will only have copies of textbooks that are above $100 and if it's $100 or below the student will be on their own to purchase it. So we're not sure yet, we're still working on it, it's an idea in progress.

BS

I must admit I'm even shocked to hear about a book that might cost $100 for a single book, and trying to imagine what kind of a book that would be, is it printed in gold leaf, is it 5,000 pages long? I'm trying to imagine how you can manage to get $100 for a book?

LS

I know, I know, some book prices are just outrageous, because the printing, the colors, the graphs, the pictures that are found in the book, graphics really affect the cost and books can be very expensive. Sometimes the author of the book charges a certain amount of it's a collaboration book with many different authors. I'm a film student so I don't purchase many books; our focus is generally on projects, not on textbooks, so it varies.

BS

I'd be curious to know, in general, if the cost of a college education, especially at a large research university like you're attending, is getting tougher to handle?

LS

I think students that go to RIT, you know, it is expensive, but those who go, already have financial support, to a point. Sometimes after the first or second year, they realize that they just can't handle the expense and they end up taking a leave of absence or transferring to another university that has a lower cost. Or they just leave period. I don't have the statistics on how many are taking those leaves of absences based on finances, that would be interesting, I don't know those numbers. But for the most part, the students that do go to RIT already have some financial support in some way.

BS

Has it happened to some people you know, to friends?

LS

Oh yes, definitely, definitely. Sometimes you know we'll be taking classes together, we'll share the books so owe can cut an expense in that way. But my friends are mostly art students, graphic design, film. Some communication majors, it's hard for them because they have to buy, liberal arts students tend to have to buy lots of textbooks. So they look for ways to get together with friends, maybe they share a book, or when someone is done with a course, they will get the book from them. They're smart about it you know.

BS

Is tuition a killer though for a lot of people? Not to mention room and board.

LS

Definitely, the costs just keep growing, that's for sure. It's like you know inflation just keeps going up and tuition every year raises. When will that stop, I don't know. We now have the new field house at RIT and there are student activity fees involved so it just keeps adding and the price gets more and more expensive, but with the additions of costs comes benefits as well. We have now access to facilities on campus that are state of the art. But at the same time you have to balance that payment, so it's a balance.

BS

How much is it rising each year, has it risen substantially since you've been on campus?

LS

Yeah, it's a huge difference. I came in in 1999, so I've been there awhile. And yes, there is a huge difference when you compare 1999 to now. I would say, room and board, I don't know, maybe $500, $600 difference than when I first arrived. And tuition, it's pretty stable, itís pretty stable I think. There are minor raises on a yearly basis, but there are student fees that add to that. So it's the little things that add up over time.

BS

Sometimes the little things can become big things when they keep happening year after year though, and you've been around on campus for, as you mentioned for 7 or 8 years. And,

LS

Yeah, pretty much.

BS

Have you had to take time off? Or are we talking about undergraduate and then followed by graduate degree?

LS

No, I started with an Associate's degree in Graphic design and then I left for one year. I did a semester at sea program where we studied abroad on a ship, and then I came back for my bachelor's degree. So I will be graduating in May.

LS

Thank You

BS

Well that's certainly good, congratulations. But are you facing a lot of debt when you graduate? Are you going to be walking off stage at commencement and looking at a big bill to pay?

LS

Through all my college years, I've always, I've always been employed and I've always had a job, so I've never experienced a time where I wasn't working, so that would be a foreign concept to me. But I have had financial aid and assistance, FASFA every year is something that I have applied for and filled out all those forms. And they have been a big help. There's also the PELL grant and scholarships and this year there was an $18,000 scholarship, a loan that really helped. So if it weren't for that, oh yes, I would have to resort to taking out all sorts of loans, and I've heard some horror stories where people are very deep in debt. And fortunately I've been able to work to pay off those bills and have benefited from the scholarships that I've applied for. So fortunate, I'm also fortunate for my leadership experiences, that has helped. Because of that I'm able to receive scholarships and get recognition for that. So, it's been very helpful.

BS

But I've got to figure, that it's not easy to balance your academic responsibilities with having to work and handle the financials and everything. Do you sometimes wonder where you're going to get enough time to even sleep in a day?

LS

Yeah, (laughs) I wonder that sometimes myself. You can see the bags under my eyes, that might explain some of that. But you know, there are times right now, you know, I'm right on top of my time management. But the first few years you know, definitely you're in over your head. And you really have to learn how to balance your time, working, how to say no, when to say yes at the appropriate times. And I've learned to realize that when scholarships come to me, they come to me when I'm involved, and when I'm in leadership positions. So I've learned the benefit of being involved outside of the classroom. The academic environment is great, you learn much in that setting, but that kind of setting alone does not prepare you for the real world. So the leadership opportunities, the committees I've been able to be involved in and the events that I've gone, and I've met so many people through that, it helps me become a good candidate for a scholarship and makes my path for my future career more clear. So yeah, it's definitely hard to balance, and, you know, I've had my moments where it's been rough, but I really enjoy what I do, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

BS

We're talking on 1370 Connection on WXXI with Liz Sorkin who is president of the RIT student government, future film and animation industry professional. And her interpreter, Julie Dandar, because she is hearing impaired and speaking to us in sign language. We are hearing Julie's voice; we're hearing Liz's thoughts on this hour of 1370 Connection from WXXI. I'm Bob Smith. When you look at what's in your future, and you look at what, first of all what you're going to have to pay back, because you did mention some loans. Is that going to limit your career choices and force you to take a job that pays well, rather than something that you'd like to do? At least for the first few years of your working life. You're going to have to make compromises.

LS

I definitely will take some consideration, the factors of what jobs are available. I mean, what jobs are available is the first thing to face. And when those offers come in front of me, I will have to factor in things like the loans that I have to pay back and the bills that I will be needing to pay, so you know, everyday things, anyone has to think those thoughts when they look at their offers. I'm going to have to think about relocation, you know, if there's a particular offer that I really enjoy but the money's not so great or an offer where they have an amazing offer when it comes to the finances but I'm not sure it I'll enjoy that job. So I'm just going to have to put all the offers in front of me and then who knows what will happen. I've been applying to several different things, so when the mail comes in, I'm not sure, I'm not sure what path I'll go.

BS

You're studying film and animation if I'm not mistaken right?

LS

Correct, yes

BS

And when you go into that field, competitive field, what do you hope you'll be able to do?

LS

I have a huge interest in student affairs and um, with my involvement with student government, the campus community, that is where that has begun to grow, and also with the deaf community, it's a huge enjoyment for me to be a part of all that. But also when you study film, people say what's the connection? You know there's no connection between film and animation and student affairs. But with my film background, I hope to get a job in higher education environment and work with the students on making films. Whether those are educational videos, maybe not, but maybe more of a, real films that students themselves started from scratch, they wrote the script, they make the setting, they do the filming, and I'm there to help and support them. You know, what are student norms maybe, what are students struggling with, what are students' needs and desires from a particular community, because RIT has a good film program, it's great, it's excellent, but there's not a good student, you know, student run channel that is student focused and student run. So, USC is really top, a top film school. They actually have a student run production TV channel that is just excellent. So I see more of a need, whether that's RIT or just any higher educational environment, I would love to be part of doing that.

BS

So you would like to teach filmmakers then, if you get a chance?

LS

Teach maybe is not the right word, work with.

BS

Be sort of their guide, or mentor?

LS

Yeah, pretty much, that's it, yeah, you hit on it.

BS

Which, I guess, would that basically keep you in the academic realm, one way or another?

LS

Yes. Yes. I would like to work with deaf kids, perhaps at a deaf school, maybe Galaldalt University, maybe RIT, or really any you know, just random mainstream environment would be wonderful, I'd love to work with youths. And also I'd like to help them in with their creativity, brainstorming, I'd love to be a part of that, and developing their ideas and making it a visible, tangible visual thing. So fortunately I have this great background from film, from RIT, I'd like to apply it with the deaf community and see how they come together.

BS

That's the ideal. What is the best job that you end up getting offered, is lead animator on South Park or the Simpsons?

LS

(Laughter)

Ah, I'm not into animation. My drawing is really not what it needs to be. I'd like to focus more on production. A dream job for me? Maybe National Geographic. I would love to travel, I love to travel. My passport is full. So that would be great. So National Geographic, that would give me the opportunity to travel, plus build a bridge between the rest of, you know, the world and informing the people of what the world looks like, and showing them how they can see things, and how we could educate people through that and what they're missing out on, I'd love to be apart of that world and packaging that and bringing that to them.

BS

Would you be envisioning say filming documentaries for PBS or Discovery Channel or National Geographic channel?

LS

Oh yes, I love documentaries. That's my strength actually. PBS recently, on Wednesday night showed "A history through deaf eyes", it was a document that was on, and I watched that, and that's something that I would love to do, documentaries. There's not a lot of people who know, know those kinds of things, and really need exposure. You know, to the history of whether it's war or animals or just a variety of people and cultures and countries. But PBS, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, oh, yeah, that I wouldn't have a certain preference, of all those, those would be great. Anything that relays one, one source of information to another community through the format of video would be a great fit for me.

BS

Now speaking of that particular documentary, I happen to have a chat last week with Harry Lang, one of the faculty members on your campus about that. I know he was a consultant to that film. I'd be curious to know, first of all, if it accurately captured the history of the deaf and hearing impaired community in the United States over the course of the 20th century? What you thought of it?

LS

Well first when I saw it, I was just thrilled, because it was being shown all over the US and I was just very excited to see that kind of exposure. But as I watched it, I felt there could have been more about NTID, National Technical Institute for the Deaf. There could have been more about SEESUN. I felt that there was too much information about Clark's school for the deaf and I didn't see the relevance of why there was that emphasis. I felt it was somewhat repetitive. It was nice at first but then it just kept coming back. But overall, my feelings were that the different people who were involved and who were interviewed were people like Harry Lang or Marlee Matlin, different people who were involved with the production, they touched on a lot, on a large scope of the community, and I really appreciated it.

BS

One thing that I, I happened to see the program myself, as well as talking to Harry. One thing that got my curiosity was the divide I guess between people who attempt to adapt to the hearing world, and those who communicate using the signed language, American Sign Language. And I guess the considerable debate that's going on right now over which is the most desirable way to go, desirable way to live. I have to admit, being in the hearing world myself; it's not something I completely understand because I've never had experience with it. And I hope you can help me out a little bit about that debate, and how it's affecting people within the deaf world.

LS

(sighs)

It's not something that can be simply explained and just touched on. It's something that you'll probably never completely understand. But this topic has been causing you know controversy since the 1800's, this is nothing new. There was Milan conference in the 1800s. And the point of that conference was when people that were involved in the education of deaf people, determined that oralism was the best method. Meaning, there would be no sign language permitted in the schools. So deaf teachers were out of a job. So from 1880 on, there were no jobs for teachers and the opportunities went to nothing and everything in the system became oralism and speaking. And many felt before that, before that point in 1880 was the golden era for deaf people. People, you know, deaf people were seen as intelligent, they gave presentations, they were a very actively involved, and then when oralism hit, it had a huge impact on the rest of the deaf community for quite some period of time. And it's a struggle right now for the two philosophies and methods that we have. We have oralism or we have manualism, which would mean signing. And you know, which is the better one? And many people have, had very adamant views about a specific way, and there's just as many on the other side of the camp. So it's really rough. And a tough debate. There's a new concept of bilingual, bicultural, which is in many deaf schools, and it's been proven, it's very effective, but it's only been going for a few years now and some deaf people hope that this bi - bi program will really spread throughout the US and be, and hopefully globally as well. And really deaf people, it affects a lot of deaf kids, because really deaf kids are the key for the future. So if their first language is strong, or you know, on the opposite, if it's not strong and they don't have anything underneath them, then that has an impact on their learning in general. So if they're struggling with communication at home, and they can't communicate with Mom and Dad, you know Mom and Dad are talking to them, but they're not getting it, that has a huge impact on their academics and how they perform in the academic environment. So for many deaf kids, they have no first language established. So the goal is to get a language. And for me and my case, my first language is American Sign Language, because my parents are deaf. So I grew up with that being my first language and I had a strong base. And from there, it's easier to pick up you know your second language and youíre learning in the school environment. But they're so many factors within that, both with oralism and with manualism. People have talked about this topic you know, since the 1800s. Many people feel that one way is more successful than the other, but it truly has caused a split. But we all do come from the same community, and we do have oral people in our community, we have people with cochlear implants, we have people that used cued speech, or signed English, American Sign Language. We are a diverse community. But we all carry the label of being deaf, and we all have that common bond.

BS

I'd be curious to know, if, what happened in Milan, all those years ago, over 120 years ago, if that actually held people within the deaf and hearing impaired community back, if it costs us several generations of talent within that community. Us of course being the full American society. Did it hurt? Does it hurt even now?

LS
Yeah, yeah, there are a lot of people, some people you know are still bitter about it. There are some people who feel that the Milan conference was a huge mistake, because of what was lost in that time. There are records and documents about this golden era, and I can't even imagine what it looks like, I've heard stories but it's a different world since that point. And oralism for me, I, I really disagree with that philosophy. It wasn't effective for me in the academic environment, it just wasn't. And I realized, as I came to RIT, and this mainstream environment with NTID, I realized how much I was behind and I was able to pick up on the way. It's hard to explain, because academically, I'm right on target, my GPA is high, I'm over average. And I was never around deaf people, peers when I was young, only at home with my parents did I have that equal communication access. So when I come into a classroom, when I went to class as a student, and I had a hearing teacher and hearing classmates, I would just do my thing and go home. Because that Milan conference has a huge impact on the deaf schools of our country, you know budgets were cut, teachers who signed, not very well, were brought into those schools, and all these different philosophies on how the deaf school should run, came into being. So the numbers really dwindled in the US, I would say probably 3 to 4 deaf schools, I would say there's 3 to 4 really good deaf schools, but the rest are sub par so..

BS

Watching you speak American Sign Language appears to be a very expressive complex language. Doesn't look like it would be a very easy one to learn. Would I be right in saying that?

LS

Well no, I wouldn't say that, I would say it's easy. If you were to really surround yourself with deaf people, you would have no choice but to pick it up, it's an immersion aspect, so I may speak lightly, because it's not easy, it is a complex language, but it's do-able, maybe that's a better word. I've seen it, I've seen it at RIT, students come, and they get very excited as they see sign language and in 1 month they can have basic conversations, 1 month, so, I mean that's not long at all. Whereas I've seen parents, who have, you know, a 20 year old deaf daughter, and they can't communicate with their daughter at all, you know, they will be yelling and over articulating to her and she's struggling to get anything from them. So I think that, I think it's sad. I've seen it and, so when I see people who are capable of picking up sign language in a month, I know it's possible, it's proven, and I feel that the others are wrong. The other people who say, I don't have the time, or it's too hard for me to learn and I think that's silly.

BS

Should everybody know it?

LS

You know its fun to learn a language. So, ABC's wouldn't hurt.

BS

I guess not. They say, of the spoken languages, English is the very most difficult to learn because it's so complex. And you have about a 400,000 words in it; it's about twice a big a vocabulary as anybody else on earth, so I guess we don't have much of a right to complain about the complexity of anybody else's language. But I would wonder at this stage, do you find that in a sense, communicating most of the time in a language that most people don't know, or aren't familiar with is a source a difficulty to you in your daily life?

LS

Could you give me, elaborate on that, where are you going with that?

BS

Well, let's put it this way, since American Sign Language, like French, or German or Chinese, is a language that most people hear, are not necessary familiar with, and is there a language barrier, in communication?

LS

Ok, that's hard for me, because I mean, obviously, I've been living in a hearing world all my life. I get by a lot with gestures or writing, pen and paper. I can get a lot from body language and facial expression, so I get a lot of my concepts across and I can easily get by. I don't always have an interpreter with me, to follow me around, that's not life. And, you know, my parents went through it, and now it's my turn, I'm getting through it. I've traveled all over the world, I mean I've been to China, I've been to Africa, I've been to so many countries. I get by, I don't know their language. But I put an effort into learning what I can from their language from reading. I go and I learn Swahili and I see what's important about that and the important things that you need to know in that language and so I learn the important words and I get by and I can show them my interest in their culture and their language because if I'm not, then it's because I'm selfish. But here on an everyday basis and in my everyday life, I'm used to it. It's not impossible, and it's not a huge stress for me, it's just my life. But I'm a very independent person, and I don't feel the need that I have to depend on other people to get by, it's just who I am.

BS

We're going to be taking a very short break but we'll be back in just a moment with our conversation with Liz Sorkin, who is president of the RIT student government. I'm Bob Smith and you are listening to 1370 Connection, pre-recorded this hour on WXXI AM 1370.

MUSIC

BS

1370 Connection continuing. Pre-recorded this hour on WXXI AM 1370, I'm Bob Smith. We are continuing our series of conversations with people who are taking on leadership roles in Rochester area college campuses in preparation for leadership roles in society and the economy when they complete their schooling. Liz Sorkin is president of the RIT student government, a future film industry professional, with a difference, she is also hearing impaired. And the voice you'll be hearing is that of her interpreter, Julie Dandar. The thoughts you will be hearing are those of Liz Sorkin, as we continue our conversation. On campus right now, I'm curious to know the issues in the outside world, that concerns students the most.

LS

Well, related with that, we're actually working on a collegent readership program on campus. In the past we had it, but then it was let go, and so we are trying to bring that back and that will definitely help the students be more in touch with what is going on in the rest of the world, because often students don't read the newspaper on their own, they don't go out of their way to buy a newspaper and to look over the events of what's going on. Maybe if it's an assignment or if it's something they see in front of their face, but what issues right now are concerning them? The most common one of course would be the War. I think everyone is concerned about that. Bush, Iraq and you know, sending troops. That of course is there, but, there was concern in the fall about the Gallaudet protests, with the deaf community there, that was a very hot issue, this past fall.

BS

Help me to understand that a little bit, because I have to admit, the reporting it, in the regular media, was sketchy. What was that controversy about?

LS

Keep in mind that I'm not a Gallaudet student. But there was some concern that the person selected for their next president was not able to lead Gallaudet University the direction that the students wanted to go. The direction that the faculty and staff wanted to go as well. I think about 84% of the faculty and staff voted no confidence in the selected president. And 80% of the student body voted no confidence in her as well. So I mean there's definitely a majority of the people who felt that it was not the right fit and her resume was wonderful, she had excellent credentials. But she had been the Provost at Gallaudet University prior and it was not recommended, you know, that's not recommended, when you're Provost at one University, that you become the President at that same University. It's advised against. But she, her name was Jane Fernandes went ahead and went for it and it caused a lot of controversial thoughts and a lot of upset people because some were not happy with her performance as Provost and they felt that she had made no difference in her role, and based on her actions up to that point, the students and faculty and staff that were against her thought what makes her think that she'll be good as a president, so there were a lot of thoughts and feelings about that and so many perspectives, it became a very emotional issue. It became a deaf issue, a community issue; it became very personal, even though it's not supposed to be. It's definitely you know, a University, it's an educational institution but it became more that, and it means a lot more that to deaf people. So it became a "are you with us or against us", and there was no room for any gray. So that was very hard for some people, including myself. So, yeah.

BS

I take it, it was this particular individual's personal qualities or past performance that was the issue, rather than any cultural issue?

LS


It could be, there could have been. There were so many reasons. You know, some, you know, some that I throw out could be conflicting with you know, what's out there in the media, but some felt that she...she worked at the University; she has a deaf family, a husband I believe that was deaf. But many felt that her attitude was not one of having deaf pride. You know there are people out there that, that are proud of their deafness and would have been able to make Gallaudet the hub and home of the deaf world, so, and it already has part of that in its image, so when they selected her as the president, I think they felt that it wasn't a good fit with the ideals that the culture has and the direction that it was going, the attitude that they saw in her was conflicting, with her pride connected to the deaf community, and her deaf hood if you will, is different.

BS

I understand now. RIT is changing leadership. You'll be in the last graduating class where Dr. Simone will be presiding at the commencement.

LS

Right, yeah

BS

What are your thoughts about that, he's been a very successful leader for a long time, and what's your thought about the new guy who's taking his place?

LS

Well first, I know that I am fortunate to be in that last class and to get some time with Dr. Simone, because he's been tremendous. I've worked with him for many years now, and he definitely has proven himself. He's reliable; he is trustworthy, and very loyal to the RIT institute as a whole. He really has a desire to push RIT to beyond the category of One and he started that project and has really pushed it, and he's just wonderful, RIT will miss him. I know a lot of alumni, and current students, faculty and staff are proud that Simone has worked with RIT, and the fact that he is retiring from RIT. RIT is his last position, you know, he's not transferring to another University, he's not taking a different position, he's completing his years and marking himself with RIT, and we're honored to be that. Now, Dr. Bill Dessler, who is replacing him, is also wonderful, I've met him several times and have been in contact with him. He's got wonderful warm energy that he brings, that just comes into the room with him. He's got a great personality, and it's very charismatic, and you don't feel stand off-ish or awkward or it's not uncomfortable to interact with him, he's just so warm and charismatic so, during his visits, during the week of the presidential candidate interviews, and the forums that were held and the various meetings, he was very humorous, and that helps. He's not you know, too funny where he's not taken seriously, but he's really able to connect with an audience and show that he's human as well and interact with them on a very personal basis, so it was really nice, and I think they really connect
with him, and he's got a lot of innovated ideas. He really wants to connect the art students with the engineering students and how you do that, you know, like why didn't we think of that before, what a brilliant concept, so his ideas are definitely welcomed and innovated. I'm excited to see where RIT is going to go with his leadership.

BS

Will you miss the place, do you wish in a way you were still going to be around a little bit longer?

LS

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I've told him, you know, maybe I should fail a course so I can stay an extra quarter just so to see his work, but I don't think I'll go that route. I think it's great that Simone is leaving and he is coming in. It's going to be a good transition. They are both wonderful men who have been able to contribute a lot. And yeah, I wish I could have seen, I feel like I've missed an opportunity there. But as an loyal alumni, I will be very in touch with RIT, I'll be getting their mailings, I'll be in touch with what's going online and with their emailing lists, and so I won't be out of the loop.

BS

That's certainly important. Does a college president need to be approachable, empathetic, in order to be successful. Do students, do your fellow students expect that and want that?

LS

Oh yeah, definitely, definitely. President Simone has had many students come over to his home, Liberty hill, for banquets. There was a fall gathering, there'll be a spring celebration. I've been to his home several times and it's always fun and very enjoyable, and definitely on campus, he comes up to students and students come up to him, he's very approachable and he's not the kind of person who, you know, is too busy and says you know, I have an appointment, I've got to go. He'll arrive to the meeting late because talking with a student is important to him and first on his priority list, so I'm very, I have been very impressed with that and there are other administrators who have the same philosophy as that so, I see Dr. Dessler doing the same thing and having that same philosophy and I look forward to Dessler's spreading and influencing that attitude to the faculty and staff, and the student community.

BS

What would you like to see happen on your campus on academic terms, in the future?

Ls

Obviously RIT is research based. And you know, they have thoughts and dreams of more Masters and PhD degree programs and initiatives. But the concern that I have and the hope that I have is that they would not forget the undergraduate. And they, you know they say that Dr. Dessler has said over and over we value our undergraduates, and that is where they're going to focus, but as they add more and more programs, it's does become more academically heavy and there may not be room for out of the classroom experiences. So that's my concern, because half of my life at RIT has been the outside involvement in the community, as well as the other half that has been academic. So it's a good thing that we're adding programs and our reputation is growing because of the PhD, Masters programs that we have, but I would like RIT's name to be esteemed because of the balance that we have with outside classroom experiences and academic environment that we offer.

BS

Which gets me to a question of whether for example, you feel you learn more within the academic program or on campus, among your friends, among your peers, among the people you interact with outside the classroom. What's the most important aspect of your education?

LS

I've learned most outside the classroom myself. That's not to minimize the education that I have gotten, it's been a great foundation. I, you know, raw, long, boring lectures are necessary, that's part of the foundation that you have to have. But its classes, you know, classes are supposed to be boring, that's the nature of them. But the projects that you are involved in, and outside of the classroom, being able to work with other students, not having to just do it yourself, the leadership opportunities, that really help your abilities to be apart of a team, instead of just working alone. Am I a good negotiator, am I a good listener, what are my strengths, what are my expertiseís? And as I pick up those in the classroom, and I develop in that sense, I prepare for the future for my real career and my job, I'm able to incorporate everything I've learned from my RIT education and apply it out there, and use it out in the field.

BS

It's interesting to note, as you described that experience, that kind of interaction, and the kind of give and take of the leadership position. A lot of your counterparts at other campuses talked about that and said that what it made them want to do was get into public service in some way, into public life, whether they're talking about political office or government service, or in some respect the legal profession or something like that, that's what they're headed into, partly as a result of it. Have those thoughts of getting into that kind of work ever crossed your mind or would you see yourself going in a completely other direction. Is work behind the camera or maybe in front of the camera going to be your future for sure?

LS

Well definitely something with a camera. I would prefer to be behind it, I don't need the limelight. But really, I have a variety of interests and I can't really predict where I will be, I'm flexible in nature and so I like anything and everything and sometimes that doesn't help, because you don't have that much direction. I don't have a specific discipline that I'm set on. And growing up, you know I'd tell my friends like I'd have friends say I want to be a lawyer, I want to be a teacher, and I didn't know what to tell them because I enjoyed everything. So when I finally found my major in film, I was able to stay there and really enjoy it. It was something that I could do because I knew film could apply to anything. Film could be used in a government agency, in the educational environment, it could be used in student affairs, it can really plug in, in all those realms and many more. So, other jobs maybe are more limiting. Any department, any area of your work needs some kind of PR department or media, and that's where I come in, it's nice, because I can fit into any of those, and with my background with leadership, my background with knowing, understanding by-laws, how bills are passed, with those experiences that I've picked up, I wouldn't mind being involved in some kind of government profession, maybe with the ADA rights or National Association for the Deaf, those would be great things to be involved with, but I don't know where life will take me, and what will come my way.

BS

Would it be fair to say that your hopes for the future included credits produced by or directed by with your name?

LS

hm, it's a nice dream, yeah. I wouldn't mind the produced by line, yeah.

BS

Especially the produced by?

LS

Yeah, yeah. I grew up wanting, you know, my lifelong dream and goal is to have my name in the credits, sure, some day. So hopefully that will happen soon.

BS

Would feature film entice you?

LS

Sure, sure. Sure if I had the opportunity to work on some kind of feature, feature film, that would be great. The challenge with communication would definitely be there, but that's something you know, an interpreter can't always shadow you, that's something very intense that I would have to do myself and learn to deal with the communication issues but I have experience with class projects before and it's intense but maybe with, you know maybe in 10, 15 years experience I will get to a point where I know what I am doing hopefully I'll know what I'm doing and be able to lead my own feature film or maybe fund, donate money for someone to make a feature film. Advice perhaps, I would love to have that opportunity, I would love that yeah.

BS

Let's fast forward 10 or 15 years from your graduation date, what do you imagine yourself doing at that time?

LS

I'll be 40, hopefully with a family and house and a dog and of course the white picket fence. So, I don't know. I would like to work maybe with a production company, or a media production company that would, maybe that accepts scripts, submitted scripts and then works on those, would hire crews. I'd love to work with that, I'd like to work with a variety of scripts, that would be ideal. Walden media I have an interest in their philosophy and the movies that they have made, I really like that. They make stories based on real live events that have taken place, fiction, but inspired by true stories, so that would be great.

BS

Are we talking about something that is commonly referred to in the trade as "docudrama"?

LS

Yeah it could be that. Yes, yeah.

BS

Would this be television, would this be feature film, could it be any of the above?

LS

Yes, film. I don't mind anything, I don't mind any of those options, it'd be great to be involved in a movie, not TV as much, but a project involved with a movie, and once that movie is released, you know I'd get the money from that and I'd rest and play for awhile and then I'd get another project that would come my way, work on that and then do some more playing, so that would be a nice life, maybe play with kids, travel. That's a dream, that would be a dream to have a few movies every year and then on my off time get to play.

BS

Maybe collect an Oscar or an Emmy along the way?

LS

That'd be great wouldn't it? Imagine; just imagine myself thanking everyone on stage, that would be really cool. I don't see that happening but I would like to go to the event, the actual awards ceremony, that would be fascinating. Instead of having to watch it on TV.

BS

Well, we hope you get your opportunity to collect your hardware in the not too distant future and best of luck and thanks for sharing your experiences as well. We've been talking this hour with Liz Sorkin, who is president of RIT student government. And we have been hearing her words, as spoken by her interpreter, Julie Dandar on this hour of 1370 Connection, pre-recorded. I'm Bob Smith, thanking you for joining us on WXXI AM Rochester.