Professor recruits to rebrand Chico

John Roussell, professor of Communications Design. Courtesy of Chico State.

A communications design professor will be starting a YouTube channel in June with the intention of changing Chico State’s party image.

The channel will be one of the final stages of a year-long project, which included the efforts of more than 300 students.

Professor John Roussell began student involvement in the project during the spring 2013 semester and concluded it in the fall.

He used students in three different communications courses to gather information on what Chico State’s image was and should be. Video presentations will display their findings.

The information his students gathered reflected that the image of Chico State was still that of a drinking and partying school, Roussell said.

A big inspiration for the project was the death of Mason Sumnicht, a Chico State student who died of alcohol poisoning in fall 2012, he said.

Sumnicht was a student in one of his classes, and Roussell resented how casually outsiders turned the death of one of his students into part of an easy narrative about Chico State’s reputation, Roussell said.

Years before the death of Sumnicht, Chico State was made infamous when it was named the top party school in the nation by Playboy magazine.

“Chico State was a Playboy party school before any of these people
were even born,” Roussell said. “There’s no open bar in my classroom.”

Sumnicht was the catalyst that Chico and the university used to respond to the negative image it had, he said.

As a graduate of Chico State’s master’s program, a member of the community and Sumnicht’s instructor, Roussell felt a personal connection to this image.

“It means something to me,” he said. “It’s not something that I take lightly.”

Enrique Raymundo can be reached at [email protected] or @ERaymundo_CV on Twitter.