Whitstock Brings Together Students, Faculty, Staff


Carson Jones

The 205 featuring Sami Braman, Mary Noyes, Claire Mchale and Claire Maurer play at Whitstock

Michelle Foster, A&E Editor

Featuring a diverse spread of music, Whitstock is Whitman’s own yearly music festival and an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to enjoy an evening together. The third annual Whitstock took place on Friday, March 9 in the Young Ballroom and brought together people from all walks of campus to listen to music ranging from bluegrass to rock, folk-jazz to acapella.

The three-hour festival included finger food, an assortment of beverages, standing tables and a dance floor. At the front of it all were the eight musical acts that provided the evening with high-quality live music, taking the stage one after another in true music festival-style inspired by Woodstock.

The festival has grown throughout he three years it has been put on, and one of its purposes is to build community and promote interaction between Whitman students, faculty and staff, as well as their families. In previous years, Whitstock took place at the end of Spring Break; this year, it was moved to the Friday before Spring Break in an effort to bring in more attendees before students and faculty left campus for the break.

Director of Human Resources Dennis Hopwood, who, along with the Personnel Advisory Committee (PAC), organized Whitstock, spoke of the idea behind the one-night music festival.

“We were inspired by Kathy Murray’s notion of building community at Whitman,” Hopwood said. “In the spirit of building community, we came up with this concept of: the one thing that is sort of the unifying thing for all people is music, and it’s just an incredibly uplifting experience that’s positive, and there’s nothing controversial about it, and it brings people together, and why not have an annual event sort of at the end of winter that would bring people together, bring their families together, and just have an evening where they could enjoy music and being together and interact.”

The music groups that performed included student groups such as the acapella group Schwa and the trio The 205, faculty musicians such as sociology professor Keith Farrington and his band Still Standing, and staff members including singer-songwriter and Whitman Events Coordinator Tasha Waterman. In addition to Whitman staff members, student groups were also on the lineup.

Student band Crossing Isaacs performed songs with a fusion of funk, pop and jazz styles. Band member and senior Eve Goldman  enjoyed not only performing the music, but also the chance to talk to staff and faculty outside of an academic setting.

“I think it’s a really cool way to have more interactions with different members of the school in different ways that aren’t just in a classroom setting, because I think we tend to, a lot of the time, just see professors as our professors,” Goldman said. “But it’s cool to see and interact with them in different settings, because there are a lot of really talented professors in music and it’s a cool way to kind of bridge that gap between school and just regular life.”

Senior Adjunct of Music Instructor Michael Simon, who did the sound for the festival and played bass in the band The Phil Lynch Trio, has been involved with Whitstock since the first year it was held. He spoke about the importance of involving the whole campus in music.

“The Whitman community has so many different elements to it,” Simon said. “It’ll be nice for that to intermingle in a nice way, but also just to see what kind of talent there is on campus. I mean, from staff members to faculty to student groups, there’s a lot of musical talent on stage and a lot of creative people, and it’s great to see them because they aren’t always the people that you would anticipate.”

While Whitstock builds community, Hopwood also hopes this annual music festival will just provide a night of fun through interacting with one another and listening to the live music.

“[I hope this event will promote] an increased sense of community,” Hopwood said. “I think we all have our heads down, doing our jobs—students too—and this is a chance to sort of step away from that, and take a breath, and really just purely enjoy the evening. And I hope it’s something that continues every year.”