Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Southern Circuit tour day three - Karl Staven

Southern Circuit tour day three. Lynchburg, Virginia. Home of Randolf Macon Women’s College and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty College. Luckily I will be presenting at Randolf.

At 11pm in the evening, after my presentation, the snow is falling outside and at least an inch or two continues to settle on the ground. Students have grabbed dining room trays and are heading out to slide down hills around the campus. Despite being a women’s college there seem to be males randomly inserted in the mix – one waiting in the stairwell with a group of ladies holding trays and a mattress ready to head out for downhill excitement, another out front building a snow pyramid with a RMW student.

Soon there will be more males added to the mix. The Trustees voted to make the school coeducational starting in the fall of 2007 and the students aren’t very keen on the idea. Those who came here enrolled in an all women’s college, not a coed school, and remain angry at the trustee’s decision. The new brochures sitting out in the main hall advertising Randolf College for prospective 07 students have the letters MW handwritten on each copy. A direct protest against the upcoming change.

It can be tough to fight against the man.

The day started out tough. I was booked for a 6am flight and so had to wake up at 4:30am to pack and drive to the airport. Don’t know about you, but whenever I have to go to sleep and know that I need to wake up in only 3 or 4 hours sleep is hard to come by. I lay there awaiting the alarm and worrying about missing the upcoming flight and thinking about which films to show at the next presentation and then the alarm sounds and I’m up and moving.

In the rental car I head out. It’s 5am and dark as I start up the engine. Reading the directions trying to get to the airport I dutifully respect the digital printout and drive into an industrial parking lot. Realizing I’m obviously not at an airport and that the plane will leave whether or not I am there I head back on the highway and follow the little airplane signs to the airport. First leg is from Jackson, MS to Charlotte, NC. I lean back in my seat and fade in and out of consciousness as a Muslim and Christian directly behind me talk the whole trip about peace and understanding.

Arriving at Charlotte I discover that they apparently aren’t able to adequately heat their airport (at least the section that shuffles US Airways shuttle flights back and forth). All of the counter attendants and kiosk workers have parkas, gloves, hats and/or other additional clothing on to exist in the space. I’m forced to purchase a hooded sweatshirt saying North Carolina at an airport stand to try and stay warm.

Anyway the plane leaves and I arrive at Lynchburg regional airport, grab a rental vehicle and eventually (insert additional narrative here) arrive at Randolf MW College. Jennifer is a kind and gracious host and the college has provided a comfy guest room for me to take a nap to recover from lost sleep.

4 hours later.

Despite the fact that the sound decides not to play in the projection space and necessitates a move up to an alternate classroom, the women students/faculty in attendance don’t appear bored and we work together to make the evening happen. Eleanor brings several students over from Sweetbriar College and we eat some cookies and drink hot chocolate at a reception afterwards.

Randolf proves to be a kind host. I would talk about the screening itself but it’s midnight and time to hit the sack.