CMU hosts first annual MUG Communication Conference

On Friday, Feb. 20, Central Michigan University hosted the first annual Michigan Undergraduate and Graduate Communication Conference.

The MUG Communication Conference was put on by the communication area in the Department of Communication and Dramatic Arts and was organized by Kirsten Weber, director of graduate studies and assistant professor of communication.

Weber organized the conference because she saw a need in the region for a conference where undergraduate and graduate students could showcase their work. Graduate assistants Emily Gesell and Krista Voss helped organize the event.

“I think this conference is important because there aren’t a lot of opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to get their foot in the door, at least in this region,” Gesell said.

At this event, undergraduate and graduate students from across the region presented their communication-related papers.

The conference began with a roundtable discussion about furthering education beyond an undergraduate degree. 

Communication professor Michael Papa gave a keynote address on environmental communication.

During each panel session, undergraduate and graduate students presented their papers. The panels were divided into the categories of interpersonal communication, leadership and political communication, health communication and the rhetoric of our world.

The panels featured a wide-variety of topics including sibling relationships, ideographs, Title IX on college campuses, masculinity in sports and vampires’ influence on women.

Alma senior Emily Jerome said there is much to explore in the communication field. She presented on honesty in relationships during the interpersonal panel and thought the conference provided a great opportunity to see what other students are doing in the field.

“You cannot not communicate; everybody does it on a daily basis, whether it’s a super academic setting or an informal get-together and to me, it just makes sense to make the most of what you’re saying and what you’re doing at all times,” Jerome said. “And it’s just so much fun.”

The fifth panel was the top paper panel. During the review process, reviewers ranked the submissions and selected the top papers. William Dailey, the chair of the Department of Communication and Dramatic Arts, presented these four students with awards after they presented their work at the conference. 

Weber said the students presenting and the students in the audience were really enthusiastic. She thinks events outside the classroom allow students to think in new ways.

“I think anytime students expose themselves to a conference like this or go to one of the other many events the university hosts, it gives them the opportunity to expand who they are,” Weber said.

According to Gesell, they received much positive feedback about the event.

“I think as the years go on, it will just continue to grow,” Gesell said.