Members of the HWS community gathered in the Geneva Room earlier this week for the first HWS Justice and Leadership Symposium, the culminating event for the Centennial Center for Leadership’s (CCL) campus-wide video competition.
Facing strong competition from three other laudable teams of finalists, Andrew Mason ’14 and John Connor Widenmeyer ’14 were selected as the overall winners of the symposium for their video, “Paws & Reflect.” Their project documents domestic animal abuse and negligence, specifically focusing on the pressure put on animal shelters to take care of these animals.
Launched by the CCL this fall, the video competition centered on cultivating campus dialogue about justice issues through video projects, builds upon the CCL’s 2013-2014 theme, “Justice Matters: Intersections of Leadership.” After an initial screening process, a panel of judges selected the finalists who presented their videos during the Justice and Leadership Symposium.
Other participating finalists were Kaleigh Marcotte ’16 and Kaiya Dipippo ’16 with the project “White Privilege at HWS;” Aly McKnight ’15 with the project “Repaying the Universe for Being Alive;” and Subin Nepal ’15, Anna Philibert ’16 and Amy Schenk ’14 for their video “Mexican Immigrants in the United States.”
“The symposium provided the finalists with the space to engage others on matters of justice and an opportunity to lend their voices to a worthy cause,” says CCL Global and Community Leadership Fellow Solomé Rose, who coordinated the program. “There was such diversity in the issues addressed: from white privilege, to animal cruelty, to immigration to occupation. While the four finalists arrived at their issues differently, what united them was their commitment to justice.”
At the symposium, the finalists presented their respective video projects and the audience was able to consider the associated messages while engaging in a discussion around the issues at hand. As part of the competition, the audience also voted on the projects.
For Mason and Widenmeyer, joining the competition was an opportunity to use video to help shed light on issues of overcrowding and euthanasia, while highlighting the significance of adoption.
“Film is such a powerful medium with its combination of images and sound,” Widenmeyer says. “In my opinion, there is nothing more powerful than the combination of powerful images with spoken word and music. This symposium encourages students to produce a powerful visual message with a goal to inspire thought and change. That is huge. Film can reach people on a global level.”
Mason considers his participation an important opportunity to engage with fellow members of the HWS community around critical justice issues.
“It was a privilege to partake in the first inaugural Justice and Leadership Symposium hosted by the Centennial Center of Leadership,” Mason says. “The Hobart and William Smith community made it possible for Connor and myself to have an opportunity to discuss with our fellow peers and faculty members the importance of bringing light to and preventing the injustice of animal abuse.”
The justice and leadership video competition, which was open to the HWS community, called for submissions that focused on relevant justice issues, considered related ethical implications, provided solutions and offered a direct inroad to leadership. Applicants were asked to cite a particular justice issue and provide an actionable solution.
Contest participants had the option of pursuing submissions in one of two categories. Inspired by the popular TEDTalk series, the first category, REAL Talk, required applicants to use oratory expression to discuss an injustice. The second type, REAL Short, is a more artistic, documentary-style video that focused on themes of justice and leadership in an artistic fashion.
“For some, the video contest reinforced the notion that art can serve as a vehicle for meaningful change,” Rose says.
The winning video, “Paws & Reflect,” can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDeAZ-ZVQ88
The photo above features Andrew Mason ’14 (left) and John Connor Widenmeyer ’14