The Situation:

The Radio/Television/Film department at Northwestern University has banned student organizations from awarding grants and seized control over which projects get produced on campus.
Here’s a quick overview of what happened →



Timeline of Events:

The 2017 Save RTVF campaign lasted from December 5, 2016 to March 27, 2017.

  • November 28, 2016: Kathy Del Beccaro (RTVF 2016), a NUWFA grant recipient, publishes an opinion piece in North By Northwestern claiming that “RTVF’s restructuring of how student film projects are funded and produced is unfair.” The piece is a clarion call for RTVF alumni, most of whom had never heard of the MAG funding structure.

  • November 29, 2016: Sarah Hayden (RTVF 2008) forms a secret Facebook group for alumni and current students to discuss the MAGs, and strategies for a possible alumni response. It grows to 300+ members and is filled with “high-emotion, high-intensity anger.”

  • December 1, 2016: A timeline is discussed in the secret group, designating winter quarter 2017 as a period of “escalating action.”

  • December 2, 2016: Mike Cavalier (RTVF 2006) proposes an initial vision for what would become the 2017 Save RTVF campaign.

  • December 5, 2016: The campaign officially launches, with Cavalier as its director. He publishes an open letter on Medium and emails Dave Tolchinsky, chair of the department to let him know that the alumni plan to make a coordinated response. The Facebook Page goes live and grows to 170 followers.

  • December 31, 2016: Under pressure from the campaign, someone in the RTVF department publishes an explanation and defense of the MAGs, which happens to be the first time the faculty has ever mentioned them on their website. Continually throughout the quarter, the page gets revised and iterated, often in response to arguments made by Save RTVF, eventually expanding into a 29-point FAQ.

  • January 1, 2017: The campaign publishes MAGMA 95, a deep-dive compilation of all the information, arguments, and ideas that were generated in the secret Facebook group.

  • January 6, 2017: The Dean and all members of the RTVF department receive a “faculty briefing” about the Save RTVF campaign.

  • January 9, 2017: The Daily runs a front page story about Save RTVF.

  • January 13, 2017: The official campaign petition reaches 92 signatures, with alumni from every graduating class dating back to 1998.

  • January 18, 2017: URSA holds a Town Hall event at Norris, where the attendees “criticized the policies of the new grant-giving system and asked for more transparency and accountability from the department.”

  • March 7, 2017: URSA meets with Associate Chair Zayd Dohrn, who agrees to the concession that scripts need to be included in the MAG process, although without any firm commitment or concrete details on how that would work.

  • March 27, 2017: Spring quarter begins, and the campaign winds down as planned.

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