IUPUI student creates “Shake It Off” video for fun and a cause

Screenshot from YouTube

Screenshot from YouTube

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis students are dancing in a music video to Taylor Swift’s song “Shake It Off.” But they are doing more than dancing to the catchy beat. They are raising awareness about a social issue and challenging other college students to do the same.

The video was created by an IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI freshman student Jacob Harris, who was inspired by videos of others dancing to Swift’s song. Harris is pursuing a Media Arts and Science degree.

“I saw the videos and kind of brainstormed a little bit,” Harris said. “I thought it would be really cool to do and to do it for a great cause.”

He settled on raising awareness about suicide prevention. In a message posted with the video, Harris provides the Web address for a suicide prevention website and a telephone number. He wrote, “If you are having thoughts of suicide, there is always help…You are loved and you are important no matter what. And if you still don’t think you are, you’re wrong. There are so many great things about life still ahead for you.”

Harris also challenged students at Indiana University Bloomington, Purdue University and Wabash College to produce their own “Shake It Off” video. He urged them to choose their own cause about which they could raise awareness.

Using University Library at IUPUI as a backdrop, Harris set up a video camera on a tripod. With the help of a roommate and two signs, Harris asked students as they passed the camera if they would dance for a few seconds in the video.

He had a box with an assortment of props, including wigs of various colors, a clown nose, a magic wand, a lime-green traffic vest, sunglasses and a pirate hat that dancers could wear, if they wished.

The fledging filmmaker learned that it is harder than one might think to get people to be in a video.

“About 80 percent of the students walking by wanted nothing to do with the video,” he said. “We had to beg some to do it. Some people wouldn’t dance alone on camera, so my roommate and I danced with them,” he said.

Two and a-half hours later, after a second shoot at the Campus Center and a little editing, the video was done.

“It was fun to do and it would be so cool if it could help save a life,” Harris said.

Jennifer Thorington Springer appointed director of IUPUI RISE Program

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAINDIANAPOLIS — Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Kathy E. Johnson has announced the appointment of Jennifer Thorington Springer as director of the IUPUI RISE Program effective June 1.

The RISE Program builds on IUPUI’s rich history of experiential learning and challenges all IUPUI undergraduates to complete at least two of four types of credit-bearing learning experiences as components of their baccalaureate degree:

  • Research: Knowledge learned in the classroom is applied to research-based projects that can serve the student’s area of study and creative activities, as well as the campus and the greater community.
  • International experience: Studying abroad enhances learning and understanding of complex global issues, helps develop a conceptual framework that informs the way a student looks at the world, and offers meaningful interactions with diverse populations and cultures.
  • Service learning: Service learning combines classroom instruction with meaningful community service that enhances the student’s growth and commitment to civic engagement.
  • Experiential learning: Experiential learning is a process through which a student develops skills, knowledge and values from direct experiences such as internships and field work.

Engaging undergraduate students in the RISE Program and other high-impact practices, particularly first-generation, low-income and minority students, emerged as an essential campus priority in the 2013-14 IUPUI strategic planning process.

As RISE director, Thorington Springer will be charged with strategic campus-level leadership, communication and assessment for the RISE Program, and will coordinate closely with IUPUI’s Center for Research and Learning, Office of International Affairs, Center for Service and Learning and Office of External Affairs to expand opportunities for undergraduate students to actively engage in the educational process. Additionally, she will cultivate faculty engagement in high-impact practices and will collaborate with faculty and department leaders to develop challenging, innovative and creative curricula that benefit the RISE Program.

Thorington Springer is an associate professor and associate chair of English, adjunct faculty in women’s and Africana studies and an affiliate with the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at IU Bloomington. She was selected for the position after an internal search chaired by Rick Ward, executive director of the Center for Research and Learning and a Chancellor’s Professor.

“Dr. Thorington Springer is a skilled and effective leader who has a strong track record of excellence on the IUPUI campus as well as within her discipline,” Johnson said. “She is a gifted communicator and will bring a tremendous amount of energy to helping make RISE a signature strength of the IUPUI undergraduate experience.”

Thorington Springer’s contributions to the IUPUI campus community have been recognized with the Chancellor’s Award For Excellence in Multicultural Teaching; the Joseph T. Taylor Diversity Award for Excellence in Diversity (individual and group); the IUPUI Student Council Outstanding Mentor/Motivator Award; the IUPUI Outstanding Woman Leader Award; and the Trustees Teaching Award four times. She is also a member of the Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching.

“I am excited about leading the RISE Program because it would afford me an opportunity to help IUPUI create a blueprint for other college campuses on how to successfully integrate research, international experiences, service and experiential learning at the undergraduate level,” Thorington Springer said.

Thorington Springer received her Bachelor of Arts from Westfield State University and her Master of Arts and Ph.D. in English from Miami University, with a cognate in women’s studies. She was hired at IUPUI in 2001 to teach courses in Caribbean literature and studies as well as African American and Diaspora literature and studies. Her research primarily examines literary constructions of black diasporic identities, and how race, class, gender, sexuality and nationality influence those identities.