Part of the inauguration festivities for the installation of Dianne Lynch as the 24th president of Stephens College, the school hosted an Academic Symposium. Seniors gathered Friday afternoon in the Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall to display some of their senior capstone projects, including projects involving legal studies, fashion and design and Internet bullying.
In the hall’s upper mezzanine level was a room showcasing an exhibit titled Good Form: Dress and Decorum for the Woman of Fashion, 1873-1911. George and Karla Hessenbruch donated the clothing pieces on display to the college. The Hessenbruchs are just one of the families that have donated to the costume collection, which contains over 12,000 pieces. There were a plethora of period-perfect shirts and dresses on display. One of the shirts was adorned with beautiful, thin, cylindrical, black beads that made the shirt shimmer. Another dress was made almost entirely of luxurious violet velvet. The floor-length gown was stunning in shape and texture. An accessories cabinet near the entrance of the museum featured gloves, fans and wallets from the Victorian period.
Gunter also explained some interesting facts about the female figure and its transformation in fashion from 1893 to 1904. According to one of the displays, “The female body changed from an hour glass shape to a ‘pouter-pigeon’ silhouette with a full monobosom and s-shape.”
The purpose of the collection is to educate people through such exhibitions and use the pieces for costume history classes, providing students first-hand looks at garments through time, said Karolyn Gunter, a senior majoring in fashion design. Gunter also added that students can look at the clothing pieces and use specific details for garments they are making.
The symposium was informational; students did a lot of research for their projects.
One senior capstone project addressed the issue of cyber-bullying at the national and state levels. Currently, there are no federal laws regarding bullying online; only in the last year has a law passed in the state of Missouri that made it a felony for adults to bully children online.
The senior project, Legal Remedies of Cyber-Bullying detailed a case that occurred in Missouri in 2006, involving a 13-year-old girl named Megan Meier. The mother, Lori Drew, of another girl in her class posed on MySpace as a 16-year-old named “Josh Evans.” Evans pretended to be romantically interested in Meier. After Meier had fallen for Evans, Drew, posing as the boy, said mean things to Megan, suggesting, “the world would be a better place” without her. Meier replied with a message that said, “You’re the type of boy a girl could kill herself over.” Meier was found in her closet on Oct. 16, 2006. She had hanged herself.
Meier’s is one example of many instances of cyber-bullying that have occurred in the last few years, said Kelly-Bender. It is an issue that deals with children now and it is a gap in our legal system, she added. Cyber-bullying is an issue that has become more prevalent in recent years. The Internet has no regulation like television and the radio, said Kelly-Binder, and that is the problem.
Missourian reporters Corey Motley and Alycia Yount contributed to this article. Look for more from them on the Academic Symposia at Stephens College in the coming days.