Students Contribute to COPLAC Conference at MCLA

Photo courtesy of Emma Anderson

Eleven Ramapo students presented projects at the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, also known as COPLAC, Northeast Regional Conference on Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity this weekend in Massachusetts. The conference took place on Friday and Saturday at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, also known as MCLA, and aimed to celebrate the work and research of undergraduate students as well as the faculty members who supported them through the process.

“My experience with the conference has been extremely positive,” says Dr. Benjamin Daffron, Ramapo Vice Provost who assisted the students on their trip to Massachusetts. “Ramapo College has some outstanding students, and this conference provides them with an opportunity to showcase their research skills and creative talents.”

Ramapo College was one of eight colleges represented at the conference alongside Eastern Connecticut State University, Johnson State College, Keene State College, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, State University of New York at Geneseo and University of Maine at Farmington. Ramapo students Ciana Hamlett, Lindsey Gray, Rich Apramian, Taylor Sullivan, Heidi Pilla, Samantha Sproviero, Matthew Searfoss, Taylor Gilson, Cristian Aroca, Ryan Sabnani and Kamil Nowak represented Ramapo in the fields of art, history, science, literature, business and communications. The students were selected via faculty recommendations to present their projects.

Ramapo has participated in the conference for seven years and hosted last year’s COPLAC conference in October.

Searfoss, senior, presented at both this year’s conference and last year’s. His most recent research project was on the representation of women in Indian film, which was originally part of a Global Indian Culture and Media class taught by Professor Ruma Sen. The conference inspired Searfoss to continue working on his research with the aim of publishing his work in the future.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the crowd that gathered and filled the classroom where my panel was presenting,” said Searfoss. “I thought the quality of work produced at this year's conference was really engaging and it was nice to see what other undergraduates in the Northeast are working on as they pursue similar degrees.”

According to their website, the mission of COPLAC is to “[advance] the aims of its member institutions and [drive] awareness of the value of high-quality, public liberal arts education in a student-centered, residential environment.”

“I got to speak to a lot of cool people and it was really interesting to see the kinds of things that students like me from different colleges were working on and researching,” said Pilla, junior.

COPLAC started in 1987 and currently includes 30 colleges and universities in 28 states as well as one Canadian province, according to their website.

Daffron said that he wants students to come away from COPLAC inspired to continue their work.

“I hope that they experience a small taste of what it’s like to be a professional scholar or artist in their disciplines and that they begin to enter into scholarly and creative conversations as part of a larger community of scholars and artists.”