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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Just-formed CMA department will not check out production equipment for the Fall 2020 semester

Students must use personally owned devices to satisfy coursework requirements for the Cinema and Media Arts major and will lose access to Adobe Creative Cloud this coming semester.
Hunter Long
Nicholas S. Zeppos residential college was inspired by gothic-architecture, evident in the use of columns and arches. (Hustler Multimedia/Hunter Long)

Vanderbilt’s Cinema & Media Arts (CMA) department will not allow anyone to check out production equipment for the Fall 2020 semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic, per an Aug. 4 email from Assistant Department Chair Jonathan Waters.

“[W]e will ask students to use whatever they already have at home (phones, tablets, camcorders, etc.) to create their works without the use of our production equipment room,” the email continued.

Waters said that the department decided that it would be very difficult to keep the equipment clean due to constant circulation.

Rising sophomore Abigail Forsythe, who is planning to double major in CMA and psychology, said that she understands the changes made by the department.

“I can respect that Vanderbilt is trying to keep their students and staff safe by keeping all of the equipment locked up for this semester. I understand that this virus is really dangerous for some people and that it’s just easier if these things just stay locked up,” Forsythe said. “It doesn’t really influence my decision to major in CMA because what I want to do eventually with the career is on the creative writing side, screenwriting, rather than camera work.”

Waters said that he hasn’t gotten any major reactions from students about the semester changes. However, he said that a few students requested to replace an intermediate production class requirement, which originally used the department’s production equipment. Waters also said that some students elected to take a semester off, but he doesn’t know if the fall semester changes are the reason for it.

The CMA department, established on July 1, has also made the decision to convert all production classes to remote status, making 9 of the 11 CMA classes remote. Waters stated that approximately 40-50 CMA majors and minors within each year will be affected by this.

“[The faculty] works with the department chair to see who can go on campus, who really doesn’t feel comfortable on campus.” Waters said. “If the university goes back online like they did in the spring, our classes are the most difficult to change from in-person to online.”

Forsythe, who is taking an introductory CMA class this semester, said that she will likely not be able to watch a movie with her class in person.

“That’s going to lose the atmosphere of being able to experience these films with each together and being able to discuss them in a real-time, face-to-face interaction,” Forsythe said. “As far as the rest of the class being online, I’m okay with that. I am going to be one of those people that tries to limit my exposure to the virus as much as I can.” 

Furthermore, CMA students will be impacted by the end of the university’s three-year contract with Adobe for free access to Adobe Creative Suite per Waters. 

“[E]ach student will have to purchase their own Adobe license or use our computer lab on campus, which will be open, albeit with fewer, socially-distanced computer stations,” the Aug. 4 email from Waters said. “We figure that paying 3-4 months at the going rate of $20/per month for course materials is less than many textbooks for other classes/majors.”

Waters added that the CMA department will try to avoid requiring textbooks for their classes because of the extra cost of subscribing to the Adobe Creative Suite.

Waters said that there would be a financial barrier created by these changes.

“The inequality in what equipment some people have and some people don’t is going to be an issue that we’re going to face,” Waters said. “We’re going to focus on the substance rather than the process.”

Degree requirements within the department will be flexible because of the pandemic and will be handled on a case by case basis per Waters.

“At some point soon, probably before the end of this academic year, we’re going to be reevaluating our major structure,” Waters said. “We’re a department now, let’s see what we can do that’s a little bit different, a little bit more flexible to students.”

Waters also said that he hopes the changes for this coming semester are temporary and the department is currently determining how to address the Spring 2021 semester.

“We’re handling the pandemic as well as we can,” Waters said. “I think just like the university, they’re doing what they feel is right, and I think our department is trying to do the same.”

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About the Contributors
Immanual John Milton
Immanual John Milton, Former Editor in Chief
Immanual John Milton ('22) is from Minneapolis, MN. He studies computer science, economics and business. Before being Editor in Chief, Immanual was a deputy news editor. He can be reached at [email protected].    
Hunter Long
Hunter Long, Former Multimedia Director
Hunter Long (’21) is from Austin, TX and double majored in molecular biology and medicine, health and society. He is an avid lover of film photography, good music and all things coffee. He can be reached at [email protected].    
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