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MENSCH fest ends summer with a bang


Annual festival promotes fairness with music, festivities

Five years ago, a group of students were thinking up projects to promote gender equity for Pacific University's Center for Gender Equity. Surprisingly, they nixed their director's first suggestion — an end-of-summer field trip to Burning Man.

Why decline such a potentially enlightening experience? Well, turns out the Center's students are actually serious about their mission as Pacific's advocacy group for issues surrounding men, women and the LGBT community.

Fearing that a week of wild times in Nevada's Black Rock Desert might come off as slightly debaucherous, inappropriate and certainly not an accurate representation of their work, the CGE students decided to bring Burning Man — minus the drugs and nudity — to campus instead.

In 2008, the MENSCH Festival was spawned. MENSH being the Yiddish word for a person who is fundamentally decent, upright, caring and globally aware, the idea was to bring the university and local community together for a joyous festival of music and art.

Yet, “It's more than just art and music,” said Dr. Martha Rampton, Pacific History professor and director of MENSCH Festival and the Center for Gender Equity. “It's about community and fostering relationships.”

According to organizers, the festival is a positive, artistic expression of personal and communal responsibility and commitment to life on the planet, the MENSCH Festival. It's a way to end summer with a bang, begin the school year anew and welcome incoming students to Pacific University.

This year's theme is 'Equality Now,' intended to promote civic awareness for gender equality.

Music performances include Pacific's Percussion Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Adam Rafalovich from 5 to 6 p.m; indie atmospheric rock by Ill Lucid Onset, headlined by Director of Housing Ryan Aiello, from 6:30 to 7:30; and reggae by Natural Incense from 8 to 10 p.m.

Twenty-five artists will be on hand to show their work, and free ice cream will be served at 8 p.m. This year, there will be cash prizes for contest winners. Audiences will get to vote for artwork that they believe best captures a respect for diversity of gender. 

All year long Pacific's Center for Gender Equity works hard and focuses their energy on programs to ensure the balance of genders.

But all seriousness aside, “This [festival] isn't addressing a problem,” said Rampton. “This is a celebration — a positive affirmation for what the center believes in.”

Where's the mensch?

The University's Center for Gender Equity and the student-led ACE Board welcomes the public to Pacific University's third annual MENSCH Festival of Music and Art (the first two were learning years) on Friday, Sept. 17 from 5 to 10 p.m. in the University Center, 2043 College Way, in Forest Grove.