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Disrupted, hectic school year ends with Manifest celebration

Student performances, food trucks and exhibitions set the blueprint for the college’s annual arts festival after a chaotic school year for students.

Ric Wilson, the headliner for Manifest this year, wanted to make his set feel like a “dance party.”

“I want people to walk away with a smile,” Wilson said. “That’s the goal.”

Wilson recently ended his European tour and came to Columbia to kick off another U.S. and European tour. He customized his setlist for his performance at the festival.

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Although Wilson never attended Columbia, he said he used to visit Manifest when he was “student age.” Now back and headlining, Wilson hoped to inspire student artists that came to watch.

Michigan and Wabash avenues were packed in the afternoon and into the evening with students, faculty and families. Some held bouquets provided by the dance team’s booth.

“We thought it was a good way to have people enter into the spring and relax a little bit,” said first-year music business major Emma Graveen. “We had a really good turnout, only a few hours in and all of our flowers are gone.” 

Manifest is an annual event held at the college at the end of every spring semester. The all-day event is open to campus members and their families to watch student performances, experience exhibits and an outdoor festival that featured various campus groups.

Unlike last year, when it rained, the festival went on this year under mostly sunny skies, although it was chilly in the shade.

Gus Kelsey, a junior illustration major, was “slightly disappointed” in a downscaled Manifest this year, with smaller stages and no inflatables like last year.

President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim said in late March that future Manifest celebrations, and even commencement, could be scaled back after this year as the college tries to curb the looming $38 million deficit. 

Logan Silvers, a first-year computer programming major manned the booth for Creative Leaders of Columbia, a student organization dedicated to “empower other students in our knowledge of the campus resources.” 

The booth had a Dungeons and Dragons style map and students could create a clay representation of themself. The table is all about bringing students together, said Silvers, who is the CLOC’s programming intern. “Even if you’re going through a tough time, your little inner guy is going to be happily collaborating with all these other little guys on the map.”

In the 1104 S. Wabash building, which houses the Cinema and Television Arts Department, several ensembles from the Music Department performed for students, parents and faculty. 

Senior student Fernando Montoya was watching another ensemble perform while he was waiting to perform with the Latin Ensemble. 

The best part of Manifest for Montoya is “sharing the talent that this school offers, not just in music, and experiencing all the talent that everybody offers.”

William Molina, a first-year film major, attended Manifest with the college’s dance team for the first time and said it was an “incredibly rewarding experience for our dance group.”

“Having the chance to showcase our talent through performances for our peers and families was truly fulfilling,” Molinia said. “Manifest provided us with a fantastic platform to share our passion and creativity, marking a memorable highlight of our school year.”


Additional reporting by Vivian Richey, Patience Hurston, Uriel Reyes, Kate Julianne Larroder and Lizeth Medina


Copy edited by Lily Thomas

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About the Contributors
Allison Shelton
Allison Shelton, Reporter
ashelton@columbiachronicle.com   Allison Shelton is a sophomore journalism major, with a minor in advertising and fashion communications.  She primarily reports on Columbia's Student Government Association but has also written about sustainability, campus events and the college's unions. Shelton joined the Chronicle in August 2023.   Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Kaelah Serrano
Kaelah Serrano, Photojournalist
kserrano@columbiachronicle.com   Kaelah Serrano is a junior photojournalism major. She has covered music festivals, campus art exhibitions and metro parades and protests. Serrano joined the Chronicle in January 2023.   Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Peyton Reich
Peyton Reich, Photojournalist
preich@columbiachronicle.com   Peyton Reich is a junior photojournalism major, minoring in marketing. Reich has covered the Mexican Independence parade, Columbia's Black Student Union and theatre performances. Reich joined the Chronicle in August 2023.   Hometown: Flossmoor, Illinois
Christalyn Barker
Christalyn Barker, Former Photojournalist
cbarker@columbiachronicle.com   Christalyn Barker is a senior photojournalism major, minoring in music business. Barker has covered campus events such as Convocation, Acoustic Kitchen performances, and metro events. She worked for the Chronicle from August 2023 through May 2024.   Hometown: Dearborn, Michigan