Campus Activism through Virtual Reality

The Rowan Hall Takeover at 50

Andy Rice (Assistant Professor, Media, Journalism, and Film) & Eric Hodgson (Smale Center Director, Assistant Professor, AIMS)

On April 15, 1970, Miami University students broke into and occupied Rowan Hall to protest the Vietnam War. After the number of students swelled and postures of conflict escalated, Miami administrators called in the Oxford Police and Butler County Sheriff’s Department to force the students to leave under threat of arrest. Around 176 students were arrested, and the event foreshadowed the tragedy at Kent State on May 4, 1970, which in turn led over 700 colleges and universities across the country, including Miami, to close for portions of the spring semester.

Students in the lab will draw from documentary sources in Miami’s Special Collections to produce an augmented reality project for the fiftieth anniversary of these historic events. Videotaped performance pieces and interviews with key participants will be virtually embedded via smartphone app into the contemporary Armstrong Student Center, formerly the site of Rowan Hall. The finished work will exist as a virtual ‘skin’ layered over artifacts, photographs, and design features of the Armstrong Student Center. At the intersection of historical research and technological presentation, students will consider the limits and possibilities of student activism on major national issues.

Courses (fall 2019)

  • CMS 301: Intermediate Comparative Media Studies
  • IMS 461: Virtual Reality 

Lab (spring 2020)

  • CAS320 TA: The Rowan Hall Takeover at 50, W 2-3:50 Hiestand 200
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