Zack Peercy: Writer By Day, Comedian By Night

By Shana Tilley, Contributing Writer

Graduating senior Zack Peercy will be missed by the UMF creative writing and arts communities he has been an influential part of  throughout his four years on campus. He’s currently the president of both the Lawn Chair Pirates (LCP) and the UMF Writer’s Guild. Recently, he presented an original piece for the UMF One Acts for his Advanced Directing Class, the only student participating to have a self-written play performed.

Sitting in the Student Center at his own desk, Peercy types at his typewriter to show the UMF community that writing should be considered a profession. He intently types away as students pass by, slumped over the typewriter with a bright red clown nose on and engaged in the words he’s typing. A professor stops by to take his picture, which he dutifully poses for.

Throughout the four years he’s spent at UMF, he feels as if the campus has been able to help shape him into the person he is today. “I feel like UMF has provided me with the opportunities to do a lot of cool artsy things, and I have taken advantage of those.”

Peercy has been a pirate for all four years of his college career and has enjoyed the experiences he has had. “I’ve been a pirate for as long as anyone can be a pirate,” said Peercy. I’ve seen the group change a lot, for better or for worse, and I know they’re going to do a lot of great things together, without the burden of me.”

Through LCP, Peercy has been able to partake in many great experiences. “I’ve been able to go to Second City with them to study improv and comedy stuff. That was fun. Second City is this sketch comedy theater that all of the greats from SNL have gone to.”

UMF’s Writer’s Guild has helped Peercy motivate himself to both write and submit his writing to different literary journals. “I’ve been a four year member of Writer’s Guild, I’ve been able to have 12 pieces published nationally online and in print,” he said. “I’ve been president for two years, and I was secretary sophomore year.” The club has been a big part of his experience at UMF.

Sophomore and fellow Lawn Chair Pirate Steffon Gales says he’s been influenced by his close friendship with Peercy. “He is one of my biggest supports and pushed me to participate in the UMF community,” he said. “Zack is a controversial guy and he prides himself on it. I may not agree with most of his opinions and ideas, but I encourage his willingness to debate social norms and bias.”

 Gales says that Peercy challenges the arts and creative writing circles on campus. “He presents ideas that are focused on bringing about change for students. He also uplifts the creative writing and arts communities,” said Gales, explaining that he believes the senior will be missed. “He has made a great impact on our lives and I’m excited to see what he will do in the future.”

Sophomore Kristine Sarasin commented on her experience working under Peercy’s direction in his one act play. “He was a very invested director,” she said. “He was highly supportive of Hailey and I, and encouraged us to try new things and really think about the characters we were playing.”

Sarasin says that Peercy has helped her as a writer by being a supportive and persistent voice. “He’s always encouraging me and reminding me to keep writing, submitting and always keep improving,” she said. “He’s also pointed me in the direction of some really great writers that I’ve been able to learn from. He’s been a very consistently helpful and supportive person.”

Junior Allie Umstadt, current treasurer of UMF Writer’s Guild, says she couldn’t think of anyone else to be president of Writer’s Guild when Peercy was voted in. “He’s always been a driven person. He’s kept Writer’s Guild on track these past two years as president with the help of the E-Board members,” she said. “Despite being a sarcastic twit, and maybe because of it too, he’s brought a life to Writer’s Guild that keeps people coming back.”

Peercy plans to go to Chicago to pursue comedy and playwriting after graduation.

Geology Major Will Become Degree in Earth and Environmental Science Next Fall

By Shana Tilley, Contributing Writer

As of fall semester 2017, the geology major will become the earth and environmental science major. Despite the change in title, the program will still offer and require all of the same courses as the present geology major. Students currently enrolled in the program will be grandfathered in, so their diplomas will still read “geology.”

The name is being changed in order to bring a larger selection of incoming students. Most high schoolers aren’t looking for geology and more recognize the term earth science, according to Dr. Mariella Passarelli, the head of the Natural Science division at UMF. “Every seven years we have a review of the majors. We compare them, we have internal measures. We have visitors from the outside, an expert.”

Changing the major’s name will hopefully provide a more unified department for the sciences, Passarelli says, “We recognize that we need to interact with each other. We need to unify.”

Passarelli thinks that the present geology majors have to realize a few things. “One, we cannot sacrifice the future for holding on to the past. I know that they are geologists, but we have to keep moving forward with what people are interested in,” said Passarelli. “Also, they need to see that we are in constant movement. We evaluate ourselves every seven years, if we did something wrong, we change it.”

Another reason for the change is to make the major more environmentally friendly. Being a chemist, Passarelli says she understands how some people look down on geologists for harming the earth saying, “I’m a chemist and you know what they say about those nasty chemicals.” Though when the geology students at UMF complained that geology was an important major to offer, Passarelli was confused by their objections, “I don’t know why they’re so sensitive to the topic.”

Sophomore geology major Sean Brock felt betrayed by the department for not involving the students in the decision to change the major. “If she really wanted us to be thought of as more environmentally friendly, then change the department name, not the major. If the major name changes yet the courses don’t, then that will create discrepancies with future employment.”

Brock feels that future employers will be confused when they see that a geology major takes the exact same courses as an earth and environmental science major. He emphasized, “I think that the graduates with this degree title will find that their potential employers will demand and/or expect more environmental courses. I think they’ll see the courses taken and they’ll know that they’re the same as a geology major and want to know the difference.”

Junior geology major, Brianna Leonard, thinks that geology is an important physical science that can open doors for people who may like hands on science but aren’t the right fit for the environmental science major. Leonard said, “Everyone with the geology major knows each other, it’s a sense of belonging. If you have a general broad earth science major, you lose that camaraderie.”

By this time next year, the earth and environmental science major will be offered to incoming freshmen and prospective students.

UMF Hosts Upcoming One Acts Festival In April

By Shana Tilley, Contributing Writer 

UMF will be presenting the One Acts Festival on April 21-23. There will be four performances each night by UMF students that are part of the Advanced Directing Course, led by Professor Jayne Decker. The festival acts as a final project for the course, unlike last year’s performances which were led by APO.

Steffon Gales, Jonas Maines, Konner Wilson, and Zack Peercy are the four students who will be presenting their One Act directorial. According to sophomore Steffon Gales, “this is a more structured festival than last year’s One Acts that were run by APO, the theater fraternity, because this year’s festival is for the Advanced Directing Course, so it will be different.”

Out of the three acts one of them is a student written piece, while the other three are published works. Gales explains, “I am doing ‘Impromptu’ by Tad Mosel. Zack Peercy is doing ‘Greetings From the Moon.’ The next one is ‘Boundary’ by Tom Stoppard and Clive Exton, which Konner is doing. Finally, the last one is ‘Home Free!’ by Lanford Wilson, which Jonas is doing.”

The One Act Festival will be held in Alumni Theater and prices are still to be announced. Senior Zack Peercy explains though that tickets will be, “low and affordable.”

Gales believes people should go for the experience. “It’s going to be a great display of UMF’s performance talents and the plays explore the different genres of theater,” he says.

Recent auditions were well attended and a fair number of UMF’s students came to participate and show their acting skills. Each director got to pick who they wanted for their piece, but it wasn’t easy to choose. Gales assures, “we had a great number of talented actors and they made it difficult to cast our shows.”

Peercy thinks everyone who can should go and experience the One Act festival. “Theater, not just being involved, but also attending, is the most important thing you can do with your free time. It’s an opportunity to sit in a room full of strangers and collectively feel something. We need a lot more of that.”

Gales is looking forward to working with the actors that he chose for his piece and getting to bring the piece to life. “I enjoy getting to know them and figuring out how to make the playwright’s piece of fiction a reality,” Gales says.

Senior Konner Wilson will also be directing a One Act performance for the festival. She’s looking forward to having people witness the different types of plays that will be performed.

“The great thing about something like this is that it’s a ‘One Act Festival.’ It’s not just about the performance of our shows individually, but the mixture of comedy, drama, and a touch of absurdity that brings about a completely different type of theater experience.”

The One Act Festival will start April 21st and go until the 23rd. The performances will be held in the Alumni Theater and everyone who is interested in attending is welcome. Prices will be announced prior to the festival.