Behind the Scenes at SIP Symposiums

By Viola Brown

The SIP (Senior Individualized Project) often terrifies most students at Kalamazoo College; some even start brainstorming possible topics during their first year. Even though this is a major component of the K Plan, many people don’t know much about the SIP Symposiums, an oral presentation of the written SIP, and the amount of planning that goes into it.

“All of the ANSO and HDSR majors have been meeting once a week since the beginning of spring quarter to plan for the symposium…we break into different committees like food and publicity and each committee has two chairs,” said Brittany Morton, a senior Anthropology and Sociology Major who is a part of the group of 30-40 students who are planning the Hightower Symposium.

The English department has a similar planning process. Two professors, Dr. Babli Sinha and Dr. Shana Salinas, are chairs for the Hilberry Symposium along with four student panelists, two seniors and two juniors.

“I was contacted by Professor Sinha over spring break to help plan the symposium…we [student panelists] help organize food and make sure that everything has a good flow, so that the professors don’t have to do everything themselves,” said Hunter Parsons, a junior English Major and one of the student panelist.

Most SIP Symposiums are a mix of Powerpoint and poster presentations, and students can choose what feels comfortable to them. Powerpoint presentations are 30-40 minutes and then people walk around as students stand by their posters and give presentations. The Hightower Symposium has three poster sessions and the Hilberry Symposium has three students in each panel, a total of nine panelists.

“This has really prepared me for grad school and I feel confident (for) when I have to write my master thesis,” said Morton, who wrote her 75-page SIP on prisons in the United States and public policy in the 1960s.

Helping to plan a SIP Symposium is even beneficial to non-seniors.

“I don’t know what I’m going to write my SIP on yet since with English there so many options, but this is helping to guide me in certain directions,” Parsons said.

The Hightower Symposium, “The End of Learning is Gracious Living”: Social Science as Social Action, is on Saturday, May 3 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with Keynote Speaker, Shae Howell, a Detroit activist.  The Hilberry Symposium is on Friday, May 2 at 7:00 p.m. in the Olmsted Room and Keynote Speaker playwright Joe Tracz ‘04, will be speaking. The student panel portion is on Saturday May 3rd from 1 pm to 5:45 p.m. in Dewing.

Other upcoming SIP symposiums are the Social Justice SIP Symposium, which is on May 7 at 4:00 p.m. in the Light Fine Arts Building, and the Physical Education SIP Symposium, which is on May 5 at 7:00 p.m. in the Fieldhouse Hornet Suite.

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