Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


A Modern Adaptation of Classic Communication

Tents dotted the Free Speech Lawn on April 20 to celebrate the birth of FAU’s School of Communication and Multimedia Studies. Chautauqua, inspired by the annual creative assembly held on Lake Chautauqua in the late 19th century, was organized entirely by students and showcased the various programs available through the newly established school.

“Our whole point was to have people learn about the School of Communication,” student Sheree Anderson said. “Even if they just came for the free food, they still saw all that the school has to offer.”

Chautauqua attendees were invited to try their hands at casting an action movie, given only a list of lead and supporting characters. The participants were then asked how their choice of actors and actresses represents American culture to audiences abroad. This activity was preceded by a performance of Lysistrata, an anti-war comedy set during the Peloponnesian War.

Another sight unique to Chautauqua was the costumed student actors roaming between the tents. Faculty and students were encouraged to interact with the actors, each of whom portrayed a famous communications figure, such as Aspasia, Michel Foucault or Michael Moore. A conversation starter was conveniently located on each actor’s nametag. For instance, Julia Butterfly Hill, played by Bridget Tyler, wore a sticker that read, “Ask me about Luna,” the tree Hill lived in for over two years.

“I was dying in the heat,” said student Gary Goldberg who dressed as Karl Marx. Goldberg had the privilege of roaming the event in a suit and wig during the hottest part of the day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

One complaint about Chautauqua was that the tents were too spread out, making it difficult to hear the winning raffle numbers while waiting in line at the food tent. The raffle prizes included Lucky Brand T-shirts, dinner for four at local restaurants and a hockey stick signed by a Florida Panther.

“I wish women’s studies would do something like this,” grad student Stacy Grossman said.

Students in the Public Communication, Democracy and Civic Engagement class spent the entire spring semester organizing every detail of the event, from the food to the entertainment.

“We started from scratch,” Anderson said. “All the vendors, planning, signs-we all did that.”

FAU’s Chautauqua concluded with the arrival of a catered meal and a performance by local band Red Sky South. While Susan Reilly, the Director of the School of Communication, and Becky Mulvaney, a Communication Associate Professor, agreed that the event was a success, Goldberg was not as convinced.

“I would’ve been happier if more students showed up,” Goldberg said. “But the students who cared about the event made it here.”

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