Posted on Apr 30, 2007

Students in Union College’s first-year residence halls have launched  “30 Days” of cultural awareness, diversity and tolerance education in the Davidson North lounge.

“This programming series is a byproduct of an increased focus in Student Affairs on diversity and social justice,” said Todd Clark, director of Residential Life. “What’s special in this case is the ownership shown by our student leaders, and how they are bringing the educational mission of the college into the student's homes.”

The program involves the weekly showing of the television program “30 Days” in the freshmen dormitories followed by discussions with Residence Hall Advisors (RAs) and faculty on that week’s subject.

“Diversity and multi-cultural awareness are paramount concerns in college,” said Joe Martel ’08, a mechanical engineering major and head RA of West College. “By using faculty and administrators to facilitate discussion it will be more like an extension of the classroom and hopefully easier for students to join in.”

Created by Morgan Spurlock, the director of “Super Size Me”  the TV show “30 Days” brings people of opposing viewpoints together to take an inside look at socially-significant situations.

 “We didn't want pizza and a movie,” said Michele Goldman ‘07, a neuroscience major and head RA at Davidson House/Webster House. “Facilitation can be difficult when it's peer to peer, but having an administrator or professor present, takes the program one step further; they might be able to reach the students on a different level.”

“Civility is most difficult to encourage during the first year at college,” explained Jon Thatcher ’07, a history major and head RA in Richmond. “Amid all the excitement of transitioning to college, first-year students often forget there are consequences to their actions.”

Six different one-hour episodes will be shown commencing Monday, May 1 at 7 p.m. with the remaining weekly episodes shown according to the schedule that follows:

May 1 –    “Binge Drinking Mom” shown in Davidson North Lounge

A strait-laced mother takes up binge-drinking in a desperate last-ditch attempt to show her teenage daughter how ridiculously dangerous her excessive behavior can be.

May 10 –     “Anti-Aging” shown in Richmond Basement Lounge

A former athlete tries to get back to his ideal body weight, after a decade- and-a-half, by participating in an anti-aging program while dealing with his family and his career.

May 15 – “Minimum Wage” shown in West 2nd Floor South Lounge

Show’s creator, Morgan Spurlock, and his fiancé Alex try to survive 30 days on minimum wage.

May 22 – “Muslims and America” shown in Davidson North Lounge

David Stacy is a West Virginian Christian who lives for 30 days in a large Muslim community.

May 29 – “Off the Grid” shown in Richmond basement lounge

Two young, hip, environmentally-unaware consumers from New York City spend 30 days on an ecological farm to learn about the difference that one person can make in the world.

June 5 –  “Straight Man in a Gay World” shown in West 2nd Floor South Lounge

A 24-year-old straight man moves to San Francisco, home to one of the largest gay communities in the country.

“I’m very proud of our staff for coming up with a unique, creative way to educate our residents about a number of current social issues,” said Clark. “I’m even more encouraged by the support that our faculty and administration has shown volunteering to lead discussions during the series.”

“We can always do more as a campus community to promote tolerance,” Thatcher agreed. “I think there will be a benefit to connecting members of the larger Union community to the students that live in each of the residence halls.”

For information about the program, or to lead a session, contact Joe Martel at