Ronia Cabansag: On this week’s episode, we’ll discuss the continuing of COVID-19 testing here on campus, as well as the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra’s donation to a local school. We will also be taking a look at Geoff Larcom and his lifelong career in journalism, as well as his iconic time at Eastern Michigan University. I’m Ronia Cabansag and this is the Eastern Echo podcast.
EMU will continue to provide free COVID-19 testing to students and faculty throughout the summer semester.
The announcement was released on April 29 through a campus update email from the Office of the President, where President James Smith encouraged students and staff to take advantage of the opportunity.
The test to be provided will be the current Abbott BinaxNow non-invasive and self-administered shallow nostril swab test, allowing students to receive results within only a couple of hours.
It is recommended for those who have already received a Covid-19 vaccine to continue to receive regular testing. This is because those vaccinated may still contract Covid-19. Plus, even though vaccinations may help limit symptoms, people still may be carriers, allowing them to spread Covid-19 to family members and friends.
Students at EMU feel that this free testing is beneficial for everyone and makes getting tested much less of a hassle.
For Kathleen Inman, a current sophomore at Eastern, having to take weekly COVID-19 tests during her first year attending EMU while living on campus was a great experience. She felt that being able to regularly test for COVID-19 on campus made her feel more comfortable and safe, and she highly supports EMU continuing to provide testing through the summer semester as well.
“I thought it was good. To be honest, it made me feel comfortable, that I know I was testing negative and people had weekly and bi-weekly testing to make sure that we were all staying safe as well as the campus,” Inman said.
Another positive reflection of our community shines through in this week’s episode, as the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra has just recently donated music supplies to Ypsilanti Community High school. This was done as part of a commitment made to support local education and community initiatives.
Jeffrey Mckelvey, Vice President of Education and Engagement with A2SO, stood by the partnership with full support and enthusiasm stating, “If you give a student the tools to show you how they feel, they can use this to communicate in brand new ways, opening up paths of connection and enrichment that extend to everything that comes into their lives.”
He even met with the school’s band director Scott Hawkins to present the equipment himself. Hawkins expressed his thankfulness and discussed the struggles the pandemic created for music education.
“There is a long road ahead to piece music programs back together after a global pandemic, and I am hoping we can build a partnership into the future that ensures an equitable band experience for our students in Ypsilanti,” Hawkins said.
The Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra is one of the primary regional orchestras and has continued to showcase live, orchestral music for listeners during the pandemic. Community engagement for A2SO extends beyond just their concerts though, as they also continue curating educational programs, radio programming, recordings, community concerts, and online streaming events. They continue to influence the community for people of all ages.
In other university news, after 12 years of working at EMU, Executive Director of Media Relations Geoff Larcom, known by many as “the email dude,” or “Sir Spamalot,” is now retiring. Larcom has been the university’s primary representative for a number of years, handling many internal communications, answering questions from reporters, writing news releases, and even creating the mass emails sent out to all university members at times.
“He [Larcom] is very prideful of the work that takes place at this institution and likes to showcase it, likes to highlight it, and likes to get it out there for other people to see. I've always admired and appreciated that just so much,” said Walter Kraft, Vice President of Communications.
Larcom’s ties to journalism and EMU run deep, with both his parents being journalists, and his mother even being a journalism professor here in the 1970s. It was no surprise that Geoff went on to join the student paper when he attended U of M, leading him to a nearly 30-year-long career in the field.
At EMU, the ability to create connections among administration, faculty, and students, is something very important to Larcom.
Some ways Larcom has interacted in student life include participating in fantasy NCAA bracket contests, as well as marching with students to ensure their safety in 2016 when students held a demonstration against racist graffiti at the university.
Desmine Robinson, an EMU student pursuing his master's degree in higher education and student affairs, became great friends with Larcom after his new student orientation assistant described him as a “legend" and someone who “would be awesome to meet.” So, Robinson made it a priority to do just that. Now, they even have nicknames and make it a point to take a selfie every time they see each other.
“I call him The ‘Larcman’ and he calls me the ‘Desminenator!’“ Robinson said in a statement. "He refers to my skills, talents, and love for building community as ‘Super Desmine Magic.’ My favorite memory of him is when he escorted myself and the homecoming queen, Tyneisha Solomon, to our spots during the homecoming ceremony. He was like my personal bodyguard. I asked him: ‘You got my back, Mr. Larcom.’ He said: ‘I got your back and your front covered.”
Due to the bonds Larcom has made throughout his time at the university, he will be greatly missed by the people whose lives he has touched here. On the bright side, Larcom plans to continue being actively involved within the EMU community after retiring.
Reported: Austin Elliot, Daniel Magrisso, Emma Henri, Anastasia Moutzalias
Scripted: Layla McMurtrie
Producer & Host: Ronia Cabansag