An Interview On
Syracuse University

Background

Interview Date:July 2018

Gender Identity: Non-Binary
Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian
Sexual Orientation: Queer
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: I’m from Tacoma, WA. I went to a private Catholic high school with a graduating class of about 250 students.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Stage Management and Theatrical Directing
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: I’m involved in the LGBT Resource Center on campus and I’m involved in political activism on campus.

Is political activism through a specific group or is that something you do on your own?
There was a large negative event on campus and I was involved in the talks with the administration when that happened. I do get involved where I can. There are a lot of organizations on campus that make that available when you are busy.

What is the time commitment for your rehearsal schedule?
Anywhere between 5-7 hours a day when you’re in a show. That’s pretty typical, it’s not exorbitant.

Academic Experience

Other than your rehearsals, what is your weekly coursework for your major?
I’m in the BFA program so 90% of my classes are theater oriented. One thing that is very specific about Syracuse and what I’ve noticed is that each major is very different within the College of Visual and Performing Arts. My largest class last semester was like 20 people. I actually don’t spend much time on campus, last semester I spent less than three hours a week actually on campus. I was down about a block off the main campus at Syracuse Stage, where most of my classes are.

What are you graded on in your theater classes?
We do turn in paperwork, but because your classes are really small, professors monitor your actual performance as far as participation. You also turn in your own evaluation of yourself where you say where you feel you can be improving. In terms of how we perform in our productions, we’re graded on how we apply what we have learned in class to our productions, which I think is really cool.

Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
We have a connection with the professional theater company, Syracuse Stage, which means you can work professional hours towards your Union membership, which is totally unheard of and awesome. Obviously, there are things they can improve. We have issues with representation just like any college theater department. But, I feel that we are making strides towards becoming a more inclusive space and all in all it’s a great community.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s super collaborative. But, in a way, it’s also competitive because we’re all focused towards a very specific industry. By the nature of competing for the exact same jobs, it’s very competitive. Actors are auditioning for the same part and stage managers are interviewing for the same roles. So, it’s competitive, but there is no sense of animosity.

What has been your favorite class in your major so far?
Intro to Theater. It’s a class that is basically just play reading and play analysis, but what’s fun about it is it’s been taken by everyone who went through the drama department in the past like 40 years, like Aaron Sorkin and Taye Diggs. It’s really cool to go to a stage door at Broadway when you go see a show and be like, “You remember Geri’s class?” and for them to grown but also be like, “That class changed my life.” That class was a lot of work, but definitely memorable and informative.

What was your least favorite class last year?
Every freshman has to take a writing credit. It wasn’t particularly informative but I understand they need to do it to make sure everyone’s on the same level writing-wise.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Split double in Boland Hall. The split double room was on my top five reasons to go to Syracuse. Most of the rooms are split doubles, which means they have a wall in the middle. I have strange hours, I leave early for class and I come home late after rehearsal, and to be able to come home and not disturb my roommate was awesome.

Sophomore: Apartment in South Campus

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
Yeah, it’s super safe. Public Safety is always roaming. They have shuttles and buses to get us from place to place when we go off campus. Those are free, so you always feel like you have a way to get somewhere without walking.

How was transitioning from Tacoma, WA to Syracuse, NY?
Challenging, but there were also so many resources available from the Office of Admissions and Office of First Year Students that we were able to use a lot of the services they had to ship my things and to get moved in. I have never regretted being this far away because the opportunity to go to Syracuse is too good to pass up.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
There’s a Chinese food place my friends and I always go to, Number One Kitchen, and then Calio’s Calzones is another go-to.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Downtown Syracuse. It’s a bus ride away and is really pretty and has lots of cool shops and places to go.

Pros and cons of being in Syracuse, NY?
Pros: (1) It’s less than 5 hours from New York City and there’s a new bus that goes straight to New York from Syracuse.
(2) Freshman and sophomore year the housing is fantastic. Freshman year you’re in a dorm and then sophomore year you can live in in the dorms or in South Campus like I’m doing.

Cons: (1) It’s super cold. It’s freezing, except when you get there in August.
(2) Off-campus housing I see being an issue in the future. More apartments are being built, but those are pretty expensive so finding housing can be a little bit of a stressor as far as finding an off-campus apartment.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you participate in at Syracuse?
What major and school you’re in actually affects what nightlife you gravitate towards, especially with the theater department. I also know the film department has a large party scene. It’s a culture I wasn’t expecting. What I’ve experienced are large drama department parties. I usually go out Thursdays and Saturdays.

What have been some of your favorite times this past year?
By nature of being in the drama department, we do love dressing up in costumes. That means usually all weekends are themed, but Halloween is kind of crazy. That was very memorable.

What is an alternative to going to a party that you like to do?
There are clubs and hangout spots. I don’t have a lot of free time which is unfortunate, but I don’t regret spending a lot of time academically. There is Marshall street that has basically everything that you would need. The campus is surrounded by anything you need, like drug stores and restaurants. My friends and I spend a lot of time in each other’s dorms and next year we’re going to spend a lot of time in each other’s apartments. There’s also a bus to Destiny USA, which is [one of the biggest malls in the world]. A lot of people go there to catch a movie or get dinner with friends.

How happy are you with the nightlife at Syracuse? Is there anything you would change if you could?
It’s been way more fun than excepted, and I’m kind of a serious person. Being a Queer person, I always worry about my safety, and I very rarely felt unsafe. I feel extremely safe whenever I’m with the people that I know. Because there’s so much nightlife available, being able to have choice has really allowed me to focus on my safety.

Campus Culture

In what ways has identifying as Queer influenced the places that you go?
I spent a lot of time at the [LGBT] resource center. As far as nightlife goes, Syracuse is large enough that you will find people that you connect with wherever you go.

How helpful has the LGBT resource center been? What kind of things have they done for you?
They’ve been amazing. I had issues with getting a gender marker changed on my identification at the beginning of the year, and they were really helpful with that and the paperwork [involved]. They lead lectures and discussions every week and it’s been great to focus on that part of my identity as I’m going through the college experience. It’s nice that one has the ability to express that and discuss it with other people, and verbally process it in a way.

As a Theater department person, we don’t get a lot of outside interaction because we are so secluded down at the stage, but to be able to go up on campus and meet other people with similar interests is awesome.

How did you meet your closest friends?
They were all in my major and then some from the LGBT resource center. I didn’t know anybody when I came, so my biggest advice is to get involved in things you’re actually interested in and the people who are meant to be your friends will also be doing the things that you’re interested in. At a place as big as Syracuse it’s not going to be that hard to find people who share your interests.

How would you describe the overall social scene?
It’s very diverse. It’s not hard to find people who have a different opinion on something than you. I also think it’s so easy to find people that are like you which is awesome. I think everyone can find the people they’re meant to hang out with if you get involved in things. It’s a campus where it’s very easy to get involved.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think people of different races definitely mix. It’s not a super diverse campus in that way, and I wouldn’t say that people don’t feel separated by race and sexual orientation. Again, there is a safety factor where I don’t think people feel unsafe. I don’t think that’s an issue, I just think it is human nature.

Financial Aid

Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating has the office been to your needs?
They’re super accommodating. The bursar’s office is really good about reminding you when you have a payment coming up. I do receive financial aid, and they’ve been really good at helping me get the paperwork in, especially because my documents are coming from across the country. They’ve been really helpful with faxing documents and making sure things are sent to the right offices.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Syracuse before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew how integral being a university is to the Syracuse identity. Like, how it’s such a different experience for visual and performing arts majors than it is for any other students on campus, and I think you could say that about any major. I wish I would have sought out more people from my major so I could have a better idea of what the experience would be like. I haven’t been disappointed about my experience, but it would have prepared me better if I would have talked to people within my major instead of general Syracuse students.

What is something a prospective LGBT student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
Definitely go to the LGBT Resource Center. It’s an amazing place with amazing people. They really know what LGBT students need and are willing to help you connect with other people. It took me half a semester to find my way to the Resource Center, and I really wish I would have gone earlier.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Both libraries. They’re amazing and beautiful and really informative. When you need something at 7PM on a Friday, you’re going to be glad that we have the libraries. There is one totally quiet library, which is awesome. It’s really nice to have a quiet space to study 24/7, especially when you’re living in the dorms.

Reasons to attend Syracuse:
1) School spirit.
2) Quality programs in every field of study.
3) We have the coolest alumni. We love Joe Biden.
4) The connection with New York City. In the whole drama department, every senior goes to New York City their last semester, which is invaluable as far as careers go.
5) Study abroad programs are amazing. We have a great study abroad office.

Reasons to not attend Syracuse:
1) It’s cold all the time. That’s actually a deal breaker for a lot of people who come from LA.
2) If you’re not into the large university thing, or if you want a small school, definitely don’t come here.
3) It’s one of the most expensive universities. If you can’t get financial aid it’s pretty hard to attend for most people.

Notice: Syracuse University is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Syracuse University.

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