For the beginning of the school year, the Arts and Humanities department at Whatcom Community College created shirts for all of their faculty that proudly proclaimed, “We’re all in this together.” Inspired by recent events and the desire for unity, a few key staff members got together to organize the project.

Rhonda Daniels took care of making sure the shirts were approved by the campus. Photo credit: Serena Keenan.

“We liked this because we felt that it gave a sense of community,” said Rhonda Daniels, division chair for the Arts and Humanities. “It doesn’t matter what community we’re even talking about, whether you’re just talking about the campus community, the political climate, diversity, anything. All of those are big issues. It’s open enough that you could really apply it to anything, use it as a lens.”

The idea for the campaign sprung out of the want for a division-wide t-shirt that also celebrated the Arts and Humanities.

“On campus, there’s a big emphasis on STEM, so our vice president for instruction asked me how can we get the spotlight on arts and humanities the way it is for STEM,” said Daniels. “There was some talk about a t-shirt for the 50th anniversary, but nothing set in stone. Then Rob Beishline in the art department showed up out of the blue with this t-shirt design, and it was like it was meant to be. We just went with it.”

However, they wanted their shirt to have a defining feature that really showed their passion for artistic disciplines. As such all of the shirts were handmade by the staff and faculty of the arts department, and the design on the shirt was drawn by Beishline.

Rob Beishline wore his division shirt on the first Friday of November, along with the other Arts and Humanities faculty members. Photo credit: Serena Keenan.

“I just sat down one day and did a bunch of drawings,” he said. “I probably did ten or fifteen quick drawings of a couple ideas and that one came about. I thought of the idea of hands, just kind of holding or embracing, and it was a design thing where it frames the text.”

After he finished the final drawn design, he brought the sketch to Karrie Keenan, the division coordinator for the Arts and Humanities, who scanned the design and worked with it on the computer to clean up the lines and put in the more formal text (like the community college logo). Once this was finished, Beishline was also in charge of creating the actual screens to work with.

They decided that if anyone wanted a shirt, all they had to do was bring one in. Daniels sent out an email to the division letting everyone know when they were planning on having their first printing session with a reminder that everyone would need their own shirt.

“When you buy a t-shirt, they’re running sometimes $20-$25 with the logo on it and even when you buy them in bulk they’re expensive,” said Daniels. “What we were trying to do was get the word out quickly, so all we actually had to pay for were the screens and the paint. We have the art space here so it was quick and it was easy.”

The screen-printing process was a team effort. Photo courtesy: Whatcom Community College Arts and Humanities Instagram.

The response from the other faculty members was immensely positive. There ended up being such a demand for the shirts that they needed three or four printing sessions when they had originally planned on one or two.

The production process of the shirts also echoed the sentiment of their chosen phrase. Many staff and faculty members took part in the printing, with everyone fulfilling a specific job or task.

“The first time there were actually half a dozen people from the division, from different departments,” said Beishline. “That was really fun and that’s when we had the most shirts to print.” He organized the process so that he and one other member of the art department squeegeed the ink and did the physical printing, but then they had other faculty members with clean hands set the shirts out to dry and bring in new shirts, which he believes made the process go much faster.

“It was like a big party in the art room,” said Daniels. “People–faculty– that you don’t always get to speak to because I’m English and that’s the French teacher. We’re all in there together, having a good time and talking, and they were excited about the energy. That was the other piece – rejuvenating, giving us a nice fresh start.”

They all agree that the printing was a really good experience for all involved. Daniels believes that the entire process was important for this upcoming year for both faculty and students.

The Arts and Humanities staff and faculty pose for a photo in their newly made shirts. Photo courtesy: Whatcom Community College.

“We wear our shirts every first Friday [of the month], the same time as artwalk, of course,” she said. “So every first Friday, we try to wear this and to remind students that we’re here. I think that, especially midterms, people start bottoming out. There’s a lot of stress. So it’s for students just to let them know that we’re here – we’re all here to support you – and for our own division – arts and humanities – for our faculty and the staff, to also give that sense of community.”

Sometimes, it is hard to remember that there are people looking out for you or people who are willing to help you. This step by the Arts and Humanities division is incredibly important in establishing a sense of community between their faculty, staff and students.

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