AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE » FALL 2014 » ISSUE 016
THE REAL MEANING OF NUDITY
+ A IS FOR ADDERALL: Turning to study drugs + DEAD MAN WALKING: Exonerations on death row + PROTESTING PEDOPHILIA: One man's crusade against the Vatican
13 THE REAL MEANING OF NUDITY
UNDRESSING INSECURITIES “It's 96 acres of clothing-free family fun, so AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE » FALL 2014 » ISSUE 016
we weren’t just talking about armpits and legs. We were going to bare all in the name of journalism. ”
—Jess Anderson , p. 13
AWOL is a progressive magazine run by American University students in Washington, DC. Founded in the spring of 2008 with support from Generation Progress, we are now an awardwinning publication funded by AU Student Media. We exist to ignite campus discussion of social, cultural and political issues, and serve as an outpost for students to explore solutions to local and global problems. We hope to build bridges between American University and the world around it, ultimately making our campus more inquiring, egalitarian and socially engaged. AWOL is not affiliated with any political party or ideology. Our stories have an angle, which is different from having an agenda; our reporting is impartial and fair, but our analysis is critical and argumentative.
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Eleanor Greene MANAGING EDITOR: Alexa Marie Kelly ART DIRECTOR: Ellyse Stauffer WEB EDITOR: Casey Chiappetta
19 MAKING STRIDES IN CANCER MANAGEMENT
KATE DECICCO-SKINNER “I want students to not just blindly accept science, but to question it.” Interview by Alex Mazzarisi, p. 23
EDITORIAL STAFF EDITORS: Jess Anderson, Allison Butler, Casey Chiappetta, Alex Mazzarisi, Laura Saini, Jessica Wombles CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Natasha Dev, Evie Lacroix WRITERS: Jess Anderson, Mariam Baksh, Casey Chiappetta, Miranda Cleland, Lydia Crouthamel, Maura Fennelly, Eleanor Greene, Alexa Marie Kelly, Alex Mazzarisi, Shelby Ostergaard, Laura Saini, Nathan Strauss
ART PHOTO EDITOR: Paige Salmon
COVER ILLUSTRATION by Ellyse Stauffer BACK COVER PHOTO by Mariam Baksh
DESIGN ASSISTANT: Anagha Srikanth ILLUSTRATION & PHOTOGRAPHY: Mariam Baksh, Rain Freeman, Anna Moneymaker, Mithila Samak
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AFFILIATIONS AWOL is a member of the Associated Collegiate Press, AU Student Media Board and Generation Progress’ Voices Network. The publication has won awards at the National College Media Convention, and our writers have won awards for their articles from the Society for Professional Journalists.
CAMPUS LIFE 03 TURNING TO STUDY DRUGS A IS FOR ADDERALL? by Lydia Crouthamel Popping pills for better performance.
05 AU'S DRUG AND ALCOHOL POLICY PASS THE BOTTLE, BYPASS THE BOWL? by Maura Fennelly Your body is not a container.
07 SEXUAL ASSAULT INFORMATION STICKERS WRITING ON THE WALLS by Alexa Marie Kelly "This event does not define you."
SEEKING JUSTICE 09 EXONERATIONS ON DEATH ROW DEAD MAN WALKING by Laura Saini Fixing lethal mistakes.
11 ONE MAN'S CRUSADE AGAINST THE VATICAN PROTESTING PEDOPHILIA by Shelby Ostergaard Speaking out against sexual abuse.
SHOUTS FROM THE CORNER 16 A SATIRE ON CLOSETED REPUBLICANS THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM by Casey Chiappetta Come out, come out, wherever you are.
EXPLORING CITIES 17 IT'S ALL ABOUT THE GREEN ENVIRONMENTALISM IN DC AND DUBAI by Miranda Cleland More money, more problems.
19 PHOTO ESSAY TAKE ME TO CHURCH by Mariam Baksh A view of Southeast's Allen Chapel.
EXTINCT & EMERGING 23 MAKING STRIDES IN CANCER MANAGEMENT KATE DECICCO-SKINNER by Alex Mazzarissi AU biology professor discusses maternity leave, research and animal testing.
24 FOOD APPS ARE HERE TO STAY FROM PHONE TO FORK by Eleanor Greene Deliver us from hunger.
26 THE PLIGHT OF THE PASSENGER PIGEON BYE BYE BIRDIE by Nathan Strauss An anecdote of extinction.
AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE MAGAZINE
TURNING TO STUDY DRUGS
A IS FOR ADDERALL
By Lydia Crouthamel // Illustration by Ellyse Stauffer
Performance-enhancing drugs aren’t just for athletes anymore. The usage of prescription ADD and ADHD medications as "study drugs" is becoming increasingly popular among college students. A study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revealed that full-time college students are twice as likely as parttime students to have used these drugs, and more than 80 percent of college students believe that taking these drugs is harmless. But study drugs aren't what they seem to be. "It’s not for fun,” said Katie, a freshman who asked that her name be changed. “That’s not the point of it. I take [study drugs] to accomplish what I have to do but don't want to do.” She pays $5 per pill when she wants to sit down and get organized. She claims that it takes about 30 minutes for the drug to kick in for her, and that the effects last for roughly 12 hours.
“[Users] don't necessarily meet the qualifications for addictions, but one issue is that it's not fair for people who don't take the drug.” —Brian Rabinovitz “There is a very long history of these medications being used this way,” said Brian Rabinovitz, American University pyschology professor. He says that ADHD and ADD medications are amphetamines and affect the user by increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter often found in ADHD and ADD medications, is essential for planning and judgment. It helps people differentiate between what they do and don’t want to pay attention to.
Euphoria p Clarity
“You have to want to do your work, but [the pills] will keep you doing it once you start,” Katie said. "It helps a little, I guess, but it's not an answer to your prayers. I sometimes get anxious." Students who are prescribed medication to combat diagnosed conditions don't always have positive things to say about the medications either. "It's a strange sensation to be so aware," said Carly, a student who was prescribed Adderall in high school after being diagnosed with ADD. "I didn't feel like myself."
She says she has experienced physical and mental side-effects such as stomachaches, lethargy and panic attacks. "I was kind of hyper-focused to a point where I couldn't just do something,” she said. “Movements that used to come naturally — I would start to think about them and be more choppy." Carly stopped taking the drug due to her adverse reactions and was told she was likely allergic to it. Rabinovitz emphasized that dosage is incredibly important, and there are various types of medications that work differently for different people. Joe is a sophomore at AU with ADHD and has been taking Ritalin for the past three years with a prescription. "There are some times when I'll wait to take [the pills] if I need to study during the day," he said. "For me, it basically helps get ideas from my head onto paper." Joe has never sold the drug to another student, but he said, "Plenty of people ask me. They're asking how much. They're assuming I'm selling it." Perhaps this is a testament to the drugs' popularity on campus. He says that the drug doesn't make your brain work any harder while studying, which is a common misconception. "You zone ev-
"Plenty of people ask me. They're asking how much. They're assuming I'm selling it." —Joe erything out,” Joe said. “Sometimes you'll get jittery. Sometimes you don't get hungry." He explained instances in which he forgot to eat or had trouble lowering his heart rate after exercise, due to the medicine — side effects that are fairly common. While the problem is not one that many universities have addressed directly, that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. “Nationally there is a reason to be concerned,” Rabinovitz said. “[Users] don’t necessarily meet the qualifications for addictions, but one issue is that it’s not fair for people who don’t take the drug.”
Lydia Crouthamel is a freshman studying business, language and culture.
NEWSWIRE MUDDIED WATERS
t may be all down-hill, well down-stream, for the Potomac River. The Potomac Conservancy, an advocacy group for clean drinking water, released its 8th annual “State of the Nation’s River” report. The river is far from directly drinkable, let alone swimmable, because of pollution, according to Hendrick Belin, the conservancy’s president. The George Washington University alum has over 15 years of non-profit experience, including conservation groups like the National Park Foundation. Still, Belin said the river is less polluted than it was 40 years ago, a step in the right direction. He credits this improvement to sewage and pollution control. Despite environmental strides over the last few decades, there is still a long way to go. One threat to the Potomac is population growth, which leads to more garbage in the river. The population of Frederick, Maryland, for example, is expected to increase 40 percent over the coming years.
By the conservancy’s estimates, the region will house 2.3 million new residents by 2040. It’s unclear whether the river can withstand that kind of rapid expansion. How can we clean the river? The Potomac Conservancy suggests more investment in sewage systems. In urban areas, the group urges enforcement of anti- littering laws. More compact cities and suburbs will preserve forests, which is important to the river’s future, since this land naturally filters pollution before it reaches the river. The group also supports DC’s 5-cent disposable bag tax, which reduces plastic waste. The 380-mile river provides over 4.5 million people with drinking water, according to the Potomac Conservancy. The Silver Spring, MD grassroots group started in 1993. You can learn about about its efforts and read the full report at potomac.org. - Alexa Marie Kelly
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AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE MAGAZINE
AU'S DRUG AND ALCOHOL POLICY
PASS THE BOTTLE, BYPASS THE BOWL? By Maura Fennelly // Illustration by Ellyse Stauffer
Some freshmen begin their time at American University without having sipped a drop of alcohol or smoked a puff of weed. For the purposes of this article, "Sarah" is the name used to represent a completely madeup freshman who hasn’t encountered any drug. Sarah wonders what will happen to her classmates if they get caught drinking or smoking. She wonders what happens when people are found breaking the rules. She wonders what the rules even are. She wonders if booze or bud is worse at AU.
FROM OUR BLOG AWOLAU.ORG
The Student Advocacy Center (SAC), a department within AU Student Government, informs and provides guidance to students who run into problems with the code of conduct. Adam Garrett, the director of SAC, explains how the organization guides students who have violated the Student Conduct Code (SCC) in academic or disciplinary issues. Garrett says the SAC sees an average of 40 people per semester. Of these interactions, there are more alcohol violations than any other drug violations. AU’s marijuana policy is “a reflection of federal law,” Garrett explains. Marijuana use and possession is against federal law; that’s one of the reasons why, even though
“She made sure I knew what was wrong about alcohol and how I used it.” marijuana has been decriminalized in the District, it is still against university policy to possess any amount of marijuana on campus. Even those over 21 are not allowed to drink alcohol in the residence halls on campus. Say Sarah becomes interested in exploring the different aspects of college – community service, club sports, volunteer organizations, social scenes, etc. She may even be curious about
the neurological effects of marijuana and alcohol. But she is responsible and values her education, so she reads up on AU’s SCC, which is available on the school website. After finding a handy guide from SAC and having conversations with some approachable resident assistants (RA), Sarah decides that between marijuana and alcohol, the latter is given a lot more leeway.
ALCOHOL VIOLATIONS: Students found in possession of alcohol on campus for the first time will most likely have to, first, write an essay on the choices they made and why underage drinking is bad, second, attend a class on alcohol education and third, have a censure added to their disciplinary file. There is no parent notification or disciplinary probation. For second-time offenders, parents will be notified, and the student will be placed on disciplinary probation. Probation means the student must not get in trouble for violating any policies, even a noise complaint. It lasts for a semester and, if broken, the student will be removed from campus and potentially suspended.
“After my student conduct meeting, I found out I have to attend a Marijuana 101 class and a decision-making class.” Students at AU are given a free pass in terms of alcohol-related transports. One story of a freshman who was transported for alcohol poisoning exemplifies AU’s policy on allowing students to be transported without any punishment or reprimand. “After I got transported I got an email about four or five days later,” the student said. “I met with this woman in the Wellness Center. She made sure that I knew what was wrong about alcohol and how I used it. She gave me a little chat that said how many drinks I can have and what my BAC should be. I also had to pay $1,200. Two weeks later I had to follow up with the woman. Nothing else happened after that.” If Sarah happened to drink a little too much of the jungle juice at the frat on Friday night, started vomiting and ended up getting transported, she would get a parent notification and quite a large hospital bill. Sure, she would have to meet with some staff members to talk about what happened, but she wouldn’t have to worry about probation. This occurs because AU wants to make sure students are reporting situations when someone is in medical danger, and students are more willing to do that if there aren’t as many consequences. Not too bad, right? Now let’s talk marijuana.
MARIJUANA VIOLATIONS: In most situations, individual are dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The university sets a clear distinction between the “presence” and “possession” of marijuana. “Presence” means an individual is simply in the room or area where marijuana is located; nothing handled or inhaled. “Possession” means the marijuana was ingested, in contact with, or purchased. The punishment for students found in the presence of marijuana or any paraphernalia for the first time is, first, a required paper on the effect of the drug and, second, a censure added to the person’s disciplinary record. For first-time offenders of marijuana possession, the penalties include an entire semester of disciplinary probation, a marijuana education class, parental notification, a paper and a meeting with a health educator. If the student is caught in possession of marijuana a second time, they will be removed from campus. The only way parents are not notified in marijuana-related incidents is if the individual at fault is over the age of 21.
Let’s say Sarah was interested to see what marijuana was like, and she goes to hang out with some people that use the drug. Pretend Sarah is in her new friend’s room and marijuana is out on the table. The RA comes in after smelling the drug. Marijuana violations are much more severe than alcohol ones. Another AU student was smoking in his dorm room and was then caught by an RA. “The RA smelled weed in the hallway and knocked on the door,” he said. “After my student conduct meeting I found out I have to attend a Marijuana 101 class and a decision-making class. My parents are going to be notified. The worst part is that I’m on disciplinary probation for about a semester.” But even if Sarah didn’t put a finger on a trace of marijuana, she would be found guilty of being in the presence of marijuana. If Sarah found herself in the same position again, she could be placed on probation and her parents would be notified. Sarah has a strong feeling that she’s going to stick to vodka and beer. Much less risky. Maura Fennelly is a freshmen who is undecided in her major.
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AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE MAGAZINE
“You are important, valued, and loved.” - Anonymous writers, first floor SIS stall discussion, with writers interacting with their audience. Merriam Webster defines social media as “forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content,” but some have a broader definition. “Social media is more than online communication and is centuries older too,” School of Communication Professor Scott Talan wrote in an email. "Martin Luther publicly defied the Church with his theses which was then spread by others by pamphlets, song and readings. This was a lot more aggressive than a Facbook poke or share." According to Talan, even cave paintings fall into the category, as the oldest social media.
SEXUAL ASSAULT INFORMATION STICKERS
WRITING ON THE WALLS
By Alexa Marie Kelly // Photos by Rain Freeman
American University students are reminded of sexual assault every time they pee. Stickers on bathroom stalls outline resources for sexual assault survivors. These university-designed stickers never refer to anyone as a victim. According to the Office of Campus Life’s website, the “Sexual Assault Information Stickers,” as they are officially called, were last updated in fall 2013. In most cases, these stickers are untouched. But sometimes, messages are written on the stickers in women’s bathrooms that attempt to comfort sexual assault survivors. Presumably if a woman reads the stickers closely, she may have been a survivor of a sexual crime. “You are important, valued and loved,” one author wrote in pink, inside the first floor women’s bathroom in AU’s School of International Service. These kind words are also a form of social media. They are a public
Some of the bathroom messages mention Daniel Rappaport, AU’s sexual assault prevention coordinator. “See Daniel Rappaport at the wellness center,” is written in the Ward women’s bathroom on the terrace level. Rappaport says the stickers are effective, particularly in referring students to the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program. Many students learn about this resource from the bathroom stickers. AU sends more students to SANE than any other university in DC, according to Rappaport. “I have a great partnership with [SANE], for a lot of really great reasons but including because we end up sending them a lot of students,” Rappaport said. “I know that it sounds backwards, but it’s a good thing that if it’s happening, we’re actually getting the students resources that they deserve, though we are still working on trying to prevent those resources from being necessary in the first place.” Rappaport supports positive hand-written messages on the stickers he helped to design and post. He appreciates when his name is mentioned, if someone shares a helpful experience on the sticker. “None of us are victims <3” is written in a MGC second floor stall. Perhaps these stickers serve as a social space for survivors and supporters to communicate safely and openly. “I wish that there were additional forums that people could use to communicate that positive information, but if the bathroom is one of them, then these stickers are multi-purposed,” Rappaport said. “They are effective in their own right but also give members of the community—survivors, supporters or allies an opportunity to have a voice.” Interestingly, men’s bathrooms tell a different story. Though CLEG senior Josh Chamberlain has never noticed bathroom graffiti “other than the occasional dirty poem” on the stall wall, senior Jes Grobman once discovered a “toxic” message in the men’s restroom on the Ward terrace.
Stickers inside restroom stalls at AU outline resources available to students who have suffered sexual assault. Messages are often written on these sticker, some positive (such as the ones in the above picture), but some negative messages have been found as well.
“You are so strong. This event does not define you. Trust me, it will get better.” -Anonymous writers, Ward terrace stall. Underneath the sticker section that says “Sexual violence is never the survivor’s fault!”, someone scrawled “unless you a bitch”. This sticker was later removed, but Grobman found its message extremely problematic. “When you vandalize a sticker meant to help sexual assault victims, who by the way could just as easily be male, with a suggestion that your personality makes you at fault for the assault that you suffered, I consider that an act of verbal violence against people,” Grobman said.
They said the sticker fits into the tradition of Ward’s “shit wall”, a bathroom wall of misogynistic, racist and homophobic messages. The university has recently painted over the white wall in blue to prevent this vandalism, according to Grobman. In contrast, women’s restroom messages often show solidarity for sexual assault survivors. “You will get through this,” is written on the second floor MGC bathroom. “We believe you. … We care,” others expressed in the library basement bathroom. Some of the messages may have been written by sexual assault survivors. One person drew an arrow to the DC SANE resource listed on the sticker and wrote, “Saved my life,” in the library basement restroom. SANE offers medical help to sexual assault survivors. Strength is an important theme in women’s restrooms, though their male counterparts apparently remain silent. Whether or not these words are “social media,” the personal support may make life easier for sexual assault survivors.
Alexa Marie Kelly is a senior studying public communication.
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AMERICAN WAY LIFE MAGAZINE AMERICAN WAY OFOF LIFE MAGAZINE
EXONERATIONS ON DEATH ROW
Instead, they are sentenced to prison for life, and too often, are forgotten.
DEAD MAN WALKING
“Eyewitnesses, false confessions, investigations driven by tunnel visions and sometimes political pressure are the main causes of faulty convictions,” said Robert Johnson, a professor at American University and an expert in the death penalty. “In a way, it’s surprising there aren’t more errors.”
By Laura Saini // Infographic by Ellyse Stauffer
According to Johnson, many prosecutors and police officers feel pressure to solve a case, especially those eligible for capital punishment. This can cause tunnel vision, meaning that investigators can become so convinced that a suspect committed a crime that they don’t see the information that points to the actual perpetrator. This is dangerous because such a narrow perspective often leads to error. The added pressure to win a capital case can sometimes drive prosecutors to withhold evidence proving the suspect’s innocence.
"And it dawned on me that what I had lost is gone. I'll never be 21, 22, up to 29 years old...You know they took this from me and I'm never going to get it back." —Alan Gell Alan Gell spent six years on death row. At the age of 21, he was convicted of robbery and first-degree murder of a 56-year-old retired trucker, Allen Jenkins. Gell’s girlfriend at the time and her friend gave false testimony at his trial, claiming they saw Gell shoot Jenkins. There was no physical evidence linking him to the murder, only the two testimonies and a faulty date of Jenkin’s death. Gell appealed his conviction because he believed the prosecution did not give adequate evidence of his innocence. A common belief is that the defense has to provide evidence to prove their client’s innocence, but the prosecution is also obligated to prove the suspect’s innocence. This serves as a protection from the state prosecutor and keeps people from being wrongfully convicted. According to the Innocence Project, a non-profit organization aiming to exonerate wrongfully convicted individuals, death sentences represent less than one percent of prison sentences in the United States, but they account for 12 percent of all exonerations from 1989 through early 2012. Most convicts who appeal their death sentences are simply re-sentenced to life in prison. According to a recent study from the National Academy of Sciences, “Rate of False Conviction of Criminal Defendants Who Are Sentenced to Death,” the majority of innocent defendants convicted of capital murder in the United States are never executed nor exonerated.
New advances, such as DNA analysis, offer more concrete evidence to convict people other than confessions and eyewitness accounts. But DNA tests typically only exonerate death row convicts if an appeal shows something went wrong during the trial. A controversial death penalty case in Louisiana was retried because during the trial, two prosecutors wore neckties with imagery of nooses and grim reapers. A member from the jury was also found to be biased in his initial interview, saying all murderers deserve lethal injection. The death penalty is meant to serve as a deterrent, working to
Murder Rates in Death Penalty and Non-Penalty States Murder Rate in Penalty States
Murder Rate in Non-Penalty States Percent Difference
*The murder rate for the region is the total number of murders in the region divided by the total population
NEWSWIRE "Eyewitnesses, false confessions, investigations driven by tunnel visions and sometimes political pressure. In a way, it's suprising there aren't more errors." —Robert Johnson prevent people from committing murder for fear of severe punishments. But criminologists have found the opposite. “States that don’t have the death penalty have lower murder rates than states that do,” said Anne Holsinger, an information and resource specialist at the Death Penalty Information Center. “It is the opposite of what we would expect if the death penalty were to be a deterrent.” Holsinger says that open file policies, or policies that would make it easier for defense attorneys to see all the evidence in a case, can help prevent prosecutors from withholding evidence. In Gell's case, prosecutors withheld evidence of six people claiming they saw Jenkins, the victim, days after the reported day of his death. In two recent exoneration cases, suspects were pressured into false confessions. Policies that allow lawyers to play the tape recording of the interrogation along with the confession can show when investigators become too coercive. The process of getting a confession can be grueling. Suspects are locked in a room for hours, sometimes without food or water, and are told over and over that they are guilty. Some people can’t take the pressure. They start believing that they actually committed the crime and give a false confession. By hearing the full recording of the interrogation, the jury can decide when investigators cross the line between gaining a true confession and forcing a false confession out of suspects. Although these policy suggestions cannot re-
IT'S A BIRD, PLANE... WOMAN?
iding on the unstoppable wave of their own momentum come superhero movies galore, lined up all the way to a Green Lantern reboot and a Cyborg movie in 2020. To put that into perspective, freshmen who are 18 years old right now will be 24 at that point – two years out of college. Of the 30 movies on the full lineup of releases from Sony, Fox, WB, and Marvel, three of them feature female superheroes: Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and a Spider-Man spinoff featuring an ensemble of female superheroes. If you’ve done your math correctly, that means, yes, 10 percent of the upcoming superhero movies for the next six years will be about women. Since the failure of other female superhero movies like "Catwoman" and "Elektra," producers have been frustratingly reluctant to take a chance on a female lead again, according to an article from Forbes. But with the rise and success of youngadult movies starring empowering heroines like "The Hunger Games'"Katniss and "Divergent"'s Tris, it seems they’re finally ready to break out of the white male superhero formula and try again. -Andrea Lin
solve all the issues leading to wrongful convictions, they can help make the sharing of evidence more transparent. Gell’s case was re-examined because prosecutors withheld key evidence. Several sightings of Jenkins after the alleged day he died were not brought forward during the trial. New forensic evidence showed that Jenkins’ date of death was actually between April 8 and April 10, not April 3, the prviously estimated date. This proved Gell was innocent because he was out of town on April 8 and April 10. Gell is one of many exonerates who has spent a good portion of his life on death row. He was exonerated February 18, 2006. “It dawned on me that what I had lost is gone,” Gell was quoted as saying in “Life After Death Row," a book by Saundra Westervelt and Laura Saini is a sophomore studying journalism, law and society.
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AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE MAGAZINE
As a teenager Wojnowski was molested by a Catholic priest. He repressed the memory for 39 years. In 2004, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned a report to investigate claims of abuse and cover up. The John Jay Report used voluntary and anonymous surveys of the Roman Catholic diocese to find that in the United States, 10,667 allegations of sexual abuse of a minor had been made against 4,392 priests over a 52 year period. Of these priests, over half had one allegation against them already. About a third had two to three and nearly 14 percent had four to nine. Three percent percent had 10 or more allegations against them. The John Jay Report also found that cases like Wojnowski’s were incredibly common. One in four child sex abuse allegations were made within 10 years of the incident. Half were made 10 to 30 years after the incident. The remaining 25 percent were reported over 30 years after the incident. Wojnowski’s 39 years are unfortunately typical. The reason, Wojnowski said, is “the shame, you can’t imagine. It is all consuming.” And, as Wojnowski put it, it ruined his life. “My wife, she suffered the most. My wife and my children,” he said. “I used to think that some people were happy and some people were sad and that I was a sad person.”
ONE MAN'S CRUSADE AGAINST THE VATICAN
By Shelby Ostergaard // Photos by Anna Moneymaker
John Wojnowski is the man who can’t be moved. He’s the man on the corner, the one holding his sign in front of the Apostolic Nunciature, unofficially referred to as the Vatican Embassy. He’s been standing on the corner of Massachusetts Ave and 34th St. NW every evening for nearly 16 years, staging his own silent crusade. “My life was ruined by a Catholic priest,” Wojnowski explains, shrugging his surprisingly thin shoulders. You would never guess from looking at him that Wojnowski holds a banner that is wider than he is tall every day. Or that he has been holding it every day for nearly 5,000 days. He’s a small and thin man. He puckers his lips and gets a faraway look in his eyes when he talks. “I’m the shortest person in my family,” he explains in his Polish accent. He continues, “Everyone else, my brother, my father, they are 6 feet tall.” He believes that the shame and the secret physically stunted him. He used to carry around before and after photos. Before, when he was ashamed of himself. After, when he became a modern crusader, full of pride and purpose. Look, he would tell people, shame can destroy people, it can diminish them.
For 39 years, he was simply sad, sad, quiet, and, most of all, ashamed. He didn’t know why he felt this sadness and shame, so he assumed that he just couldn’t feel anything else. His wife left him, and his children grew. He felt alone. He was alone. Then, one day, he was listening to a radio story about a priest in Texas who had been accused of sexually molesting children. And something clicked. He started to remember—he still doesn’t know exactly what happened all those years ago, but he knows he was molested. It made sense; he had been molested and that was why he felt so alone, so sad, why he was unable to open up, to trust. Wojnowski didn’t know what to do. So he wrote a letter to the parish he had grown up in. He gave his name, described where his family had gone to church and everything he remembered. He said he felt so ashamed when he wrote the letter. He remembers trembling when he signed his name. He received no reply.
"I used to think that some people were happy and some people were sad and that I was a sad person. " —John Wojnowski He wrote again. And once more. Then he went to speak to the man he had been writing to in person. Finally, he was told something. He was told that the priest in question had died. There was nothing to be done. A few days later, he went to the corner, standing there with his sign: MY LIFE WAS RUINED BY A CATHOLIC PRIEST. He still felt like he was choking on shame, but he didn’t think there was anything
John Wojnowski has been standing outside the Vatican Consulate everyday, with a sign, for seventeen years. “I’m not a very good writer, so this is how I share my message,” he says.
else to do. Every time that someone honked or gave him a thumbs up or a peace sign he would burst into tears. For the most part, the men at the Nunciature ignored him at the beginning. But one day, a man came out to speak with him. He walked up to Wojnowski and told him four reasons why Wojnowski should stop: The Italian statute of limitations was up, it was his fault he’d gotten molested, if he continued, he’d be crushed by ridicule, and U.S. laws are far too harsh on child molesters. The man told Wojnowski that there was nothing to be done and that nothing should be done. Then he spit in Wojnowski’s face. Wojnowski wanted to cry, but not with happiness the way he did when someone honked. He wanted to curl up in a ball. He wanted to leave and never come back. But he kept standing there, holding his sign. Sixteen years later, he still stands there every day. The message has been updated. Now one side of his sign declares CATHOLICS ARE COWARDS. The other delares VATICAN HIDES PEDOPHILES. The updates haven’t changed the core idea—that Wojnowski will not put down his sign. “I’m a poor, ignorant peasant fighting this global institution,” he said. “If a person has a drop of honor, he cannot give up.” David Clohessy, the director of SNAP (Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests) told The Washingtonian that because of this resolve, Wojnowski occupies a singular place in the survivor’s movement. Clohessy believes Wojnowski is making a difference. Clohessy said, “I suspect that every single day, given the magnitude of this crisis, someone in that office is making some decision relative to abuse and cover-up, deciding whether and how to
"I'm a poor ignorant peasant fighting this global institution. If a person has a drop of honor, he cannot give up."—John Wojnowski respond to the bishop who asks for their guidance on whether this perp should be moved or demoted or defrocked. Within hours or sometimes probably minutes of making that decision, they’ve seen John. That can only, only help.” Child molestation cases are unfortunately pervasive. They’re often covered up and forgotten, left to fester in secrecy. We’ve forgotten that there are people behind the statistics. We’ve forgotten the horror, the emotions, the terrible shame involved in these cases. Wojnowski is here to remind us. There are many survivors who are still suffering today, who are still asking the Church for recognition, for recompense, for simple investigation. Whatever it takes to put back together a life diminished by shame. Wojnowski stands and fights a battle worth fighting. No matter what happened over the 39 years he lived in shame, no matter what happened to him as a child, today he's a man. He is a man of honor, one who fights every day to take his life back. And he has no shame.
Shelby Ostergaard is a junior studying journalism.
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THE REAL MEANING OF NUDITY
UNDRESSING INSECURITIES By Jess Anderson // Illustration by Ellyse Stauffer
“Are you going to shave?” “Yeah, probably. Are you?” “Eh, that’s a lot of work. Maybe I’ll just prune.” This was the gist of my conversation with Casey, my fellow AWOL editor, the night before we visited Pine Tree Nudist Resort in Crownsville, Maryland. It’s 96 acres of clothing-free family fun, so we weren’t just talking about armpits and legs. We were going to bare all in the name of journalism.
INSIDE PINE TREE After entering through the tall gates, we pulled into the resort: Casey, two of my roommates, and me. Seconds later, several people strolled in front of the car, wearing nothing but towels slung over their shoulders. Thirty minutes later, we too were naked. My roommate, Matt Meyers, a junior at American University, summed up the experience the best:
“When we were getting undressed, there was in my mind a drumroll, and then I pulled my pants down and the music stopped and nothing happened,” he said. “No neon sign pointing at me, there’s no camera—if anything, it made me less out of the ordinary.”
After we stripped, Valerie, a cheerful middle-aged woman, who has been frequenting the resort since 1996, led us on a quick tour. Because of the taboo surrounding nudism, it’s common for people to refer to themselves by first names only, to avoid being associated with the stigma.
Valerie gave us a brief overview—Pine Tree is one of the oldest nudist clubs in the United States, featuring several pools, a hot tub, tennis courts, recreational facilities, nature trails and 285 plots to pitch a tent or trailer. Then she set us loose to enjoy the day. With our towels in tow, that's what we set out to do. “It felt like a day at the country club, to be completely honest,” Meyers said. “I hung out by the pool; I read “Game of Thrones;” I sat in the hot tub; I ate a cheeseburger and potato salad and watched the Ravens game. I think that in itself is really neat—that it didn’t impact me. I didn’t get what the fuss was about.”
BODY IMAGE In 2008, the Ypartnership/Yankelovich National Leisure Travel Monitor released a survey stating that one in 10 Americans would consider staying at a nude or clothing-optional resort very or extremely desirable. The nude recreation industry itself had grown to nearly $4.5 million by 2010, according to the American Association for Nude Recreation. Still, many adults in the United States are dissatisfied with how they look. A 2006 study of 52,677 adults reported that 41 percent of men and 61 percent of women thought that they were too fat, and 11 percent of men and 16 percent of women felt unattractive, some to the point where they wouldn’t even wear a bathing suit in public. However, according to Katherine Frank, a scholar in residence in AU’s Department of Sociology, self-consciousness is not new. “People have always altered their bodies and been concerned about how they look,” she said, citing competition for resources and mates as the main reasons why people often want to appear attractive. At Pine Tree, appearance is not a priority. “When I’m here it’s more about meeting the characters here, the personalities,” said Chris, who recently joined the club as a lifeguard. And there certainly are plenty of characters—Valerie says that members come from all walks of life, from government workers to priests, teachers to military personnel.
"I think what surprised me most was how they made me act. It was just like, this is what everyone looks like." —Jordan Halsey “There’s nothing that really unites us except nudism,” Valerie said. Yet, that is often enough for friendships to blossom. Nudism creates an atmosphere that she says can teach children, to be more comfortable with themselves and less judgmental. "I think we raise extraordinarily relaxed people here," she said. And, just maybe, a little of that easygoing attitude rubs off on visitors. “I think what surprised me most was how they made me act,” remarked Jordan Halsey, the fourth member of our group. “I can be a little judgmental and I found that I wasn’t doing that there. I wasn’t judging anyone. It really was just like, ‘This is what everybody looks like.’”
DYING TO BE THIN Unfortunately, most of America is not quite as open-minded, as mainstream media and big businesses promote a distinctly thin, Westernized body ideal. Celebrities often fall victim to this ideal, male and female alike. Meyers points to Hollywood actor Chris Pratt as just one example.
“I guess in my mind, naked is always associated with sex. [...] It's almost like you're taught to be embarrassed." —Paige Rammelkamp “When [Pratt] was about to do “Guardians of the Galaxy” he had to drop a ton of weight and gain muscle,” he said. “When he was playing the bumbling oaf on Parks and Rec[reation] he was allowed to be chubby, but when he got the leading role he had to be fit.” This fixation on looking good can have detrimental impacts. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, nearly 24 million people in the U.S. suffer from an eating disorder. Among mental illnesses, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate: four percent of of people with anorexia will die from the disorder, 3.9 percent for bulimia and 5.2 percent for other disorders. In a world where we are increasingly being force fed obesity statistics and suggestions for better eating and exercising strategies, the National Eating Disorder Association has even identified a new threat—“orthorexia nervosa,” or “a fixation on righteous eating.” People suffering from orthorexia often become obsessed with the quantity and quality of food intake, punishing slip-ups with fasting, excessive exercise or stricter eating. Many fad diets have accompanied the rise of orthorexia, from the classic cutting of carbohydrates to the more extreme “paleo” diet where people try to follow a “prehistoric” diet full of meat and fat. But even the diets that seem healthy on the surface are often doomed to fail. “I always like to say if you go on a diet, that means that at some point you’ll probably go off a diet,” said Jolynn Gardner, director of the Public Health Program at AU. “There are lots of problems with these fad diets. Some of them are nutritionally deficient. Most of them require behaviors and purchasing of special foods that can’t be sustained over a long period of time, and they are harmful and not grounded in good science.”
NUDITY ≠ SEXUALITY Even those comfortable enough with their bodies to join a nudist organization can’t quite escape the social stigma. “I don’t tell anyone,” said Steph, who has been coming to Pine Tree her whole life. “To me, it’s always been my secret. I didn’t want people to take it the wrong way.” She says she hasn’t even told her boyfriend, who she has been dating for over a year. Steph isn’t alone. Many nudists chose not to reveal their pastime to others because of people's tendency to “take it the wrong way.” “I guess in my mind, ‘naked’ was always associated with ‘sex’,” said Paige Rammelkamp, a junior at AU. “My mom always made my dad wear a shirt, even when he was mowing the lawn and it was a hundred degrees out. It’s almost like you’re taught to be embarrassed.”
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"We have learned to be ashamed about our bodies. What's precious about you is what's inside of you, not what's hanging on the outside. " —Valerie “People’s erotics can be based on what is being revealed, or what they think is being revealed, more than what is actually there,” she said. To conduct her anthropological research, Frank worked in a strip club, talking to patrons afterward in an effort to understand male desire. “One of the things that I learned about was how imperfections became sort of erotic in the club because everybody could be nude, so it wasn’t just nudity that could really touch someone’s interest,” she said. “It would be a little stumble if she was new, or if she resembled the girl next door—these are things that the customers would tell me interested them."
THE FUTURE Though rapid social change may not be just around the corner, that doesn’t mean the future isn’t bright. Gardner, for example, sees hope in the same arena where body dissatisfaction had previously won battle after battle: pop culture. “I’ve been encouraged, really encouraged, by a lot of the songs that you hear that are popular,” she said. “In many cases they talk about young women being happy with who they are and acknowledging that they aren’t perfect.” “People think that just because you’re naked, you’re sexual, and that’s not true,” said Valerie, on the patio outside her mobile home. “We meet people in our lives all the time that you think are handsome or pretty or sexy, but you don’t act on it—it’s the same when you are naked.”
"People think that just because you're naked, you're sexual, and that's not true. " —Valerie
Rammelkamp say she is also slowly beginning to see progress on television. Though she admits that she gets frustrated with shows that may not be as progressive as they could be, she concedes that sometimes, small steps are important, like sexual liberation in "Sex and the City," diversity in "Modern Family." “We’re moving past the general acceptance of race, and sexuality, and then maybe body image will come after that,” Rammelkamp said. Of course, nothing fosters acceptance like a visit to your friendly neighborhood nudist resort. Pine Tree even offers an $8 visitation deal for students who want a relaxing getaway from the stress of college. And why not go skinny-dipping in a socially acceptable setting, among people who reflect humanity’s diversity? Why not let the girls bask in the sun for the first time, or let the boys hang free? Why not let go of thr stigmas that constantly surround?
Later, Chris, the lifeguard, put it more bluntly. “Nudity is not as sexy as women wearing a thong or a lacy bra,” he said. “That’s the only time that I would be excited.” True to his word, he and Steph, both in their early twenties, looked perfectly at ease lounging sideby-side on the edge of the hot tub.
“We have learned to be ashamed about our bodies,” Valerie told us at the start of the day, when we still took care to avoid looking at each other. “What’s precious about you is what’s inside of you, not what’s hanging on the outside.”
For many people, what he says rings true. And, according to Frank, back at AU, there’s a scientific reason for this—erotics, or literally “what turns you on.”
Jess Anderson is a junior studying journalism and CLEG.
SHOUTS FROM THE CORNER A SATIRE ON CLOSETED REPUBLICANS
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
"You always have to hide part of yourself. Liberals claim to accept all identities, but they're vicious when they hear you're conservative. "
By Casey Chiappetta // Photo by Ellyse Stauffer themselves at odds not only with other students, but with the college culture in general. It’s 2014—it’s time for a frank conversation about coming out. Fearing backlash from family members and friends, and ostracism from social circles shouldn’t determine when people acknowledge a very large part of who they are and how they think. Republicans, it’s time to come out. Coming out as a conservative is often an arduous and somewhat socially perilous process. Life outside the closet is often harsh. A Republican at American University, who wished to remain anonymous due to potential repercussions, described this condition as one of reluctance with a side of fear. Wearing a low-cut floral tank top with her bra straps showing, jeans and black flats, trying to look like the rest of us, the AU senior said, “You always have to hide part of yourself. Liberals claim to accept all identities, but they're vicious when they hear you’re conservative. Please don’t use my name in this article.” She skulked away.
Later in a phone interview because she was afraid of being recognized, the student continued, “Even my closest friends don’t know who I really am. I hide my Mitt Romney T-shirts in a secret bottom drawer and hug them close when I feel especially alone. I even write for AWOL.” CollegeProwler, a forum for current college students to post reviews ranging from academics to drug safety, gave AU an “A” for diversity. Yet, as one college senior's review said, the “majority of people are liberal, Democratic, or both. At AU, if you don’t agree with every political opinion another student does [sic], it often becomes hostile and unpleasant.” So when are we going to stop acting like there are closets brimming with unborn fetuses and Christ figurines and start acting like there are closets brimming with silenced students who, whether we like it or not, have a right to come out and feel safe?
Casey Chiappetta is a sophomore studying international relations and Arabic.
A Randolph Foundation study from 2005 found that 72 percent of college faculty self-identified as liberal, compared to 18 percent as conservative. This was even more pronounced in elite colleges—87 percent of faculty considered themselves to be liberal and 13 percent conservative. Juxtapose this with the 38 percent of Americans who self-identified as conservative, 23 percent who self-identified as liberal (an all-time high) and 34 percent who identified as moderate, as a 2013 study by Gallup found. College simply isn’t reflective of national political leanings. As a result, Republicans often find themselves in the closet. And for them, college is a place where it doesn’t get better. Keep in mind, AU, has a student population rated as the fourth most politically active by the Princeton Review in 2014. Those who identify as conservative often find
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ENVIRONMENTALISM IN DC AND DUBAI
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE GREEN By Miranda Cleland // Infographic by Ellyse Stauffer
Visions of Dubai include enormous malls, vending machines that dispense gold and a police force that drives around in Lamborghinis. Rarely does environmental sustainability come to mind when thinking of this oasis in the Arabian Peninsula, where residents do not even turn off their cars as they get gas pumped. As the world urbanizes, environmentalists concern themselves with limiting the carbon footprint of powerful, global cities, such as Dubai and Washington, DC. On the other side of the world, DC tells a different story. Many Washingtonians strive for environmental sustainability, religiously recycling and using public transportation to reduce carbon emissions According to the Dubai Statistics Center and the U.S. Census Bureau, both Dubai and DC have comparably high GDPs per capita, at about $45,000 per person. Though environmentalism is often considered an upper-class issue, the cities’ respective residents approach the issue very differently.
"Essentially, people do not feel committed, integrated and responsible enough to want to make a change." —Khizer Baig The Kuznets Curve seeks to explain the relationship between wealth and ecology. The x-axis represents income, and the y-axis represents the level of environmental degradation, or the deterioration of natural resources such as land, air and water. An interesting bell curve forms. Areas with very low and very high income levels have the highest levels of environmental degradation. In his book "Environment and Society," Paul Robbins, environmental politics expert, explains the Kuznets Curve further. “This theory predicts that environmental impacts rise during development, only to fall after an economy matures,” Robbins said. While the Kuznets Curve is helpful as a guide, it does not always ring true in reality, according to Malini Ranganathan, a global environmental politics assistant professor at American University. “The relationship between wealth and ecology is not clear cut,” Ranganathan said.
As Dubai modernizes its economy, the level of environmental degradation should level off and begin to decline, according to the Kuznets Curve, but that is yet to happen. Ranganathan also stressed the importance of per capita consumption. “America has a very high per capita carbon footprint,” Ranganathan said, noting that Dubai is also “an extreme case.” The income gap in Dubai also causes political issues, according to Ranganathan. Poor workers built Dubai’s extravagancies, enjoyed by billionaire sheikhs and rich tourists from around the globe. As long as Dubai’s disenfranchised populations remain marginalized, environmental sustainability will remain on the backburner. In DC, Ranganathan points to the District’s 5-cent bag tax as an environmental success. She said she was surprised at how well it took hold, especially because of how minimal the tax is. According to Ranganathan, the visibility of the reusable shopping bag campaign made it successful and even trendy, as reusable bags have become available in every color and pattern imaginable. Lennee Lazala, a resident of Dubai for more than 20 years, says she has watched the area suffer from a host of environmental problems since she moved there. “I’m sure [the government doesn’t] want to admit it,” she said. In older areas of the city, in neighborhoods such as Karama and Satwa, sewage problems arise when Dubai receives its annual rainfall. Lazala’s husband, Ronnie, added that Dubai has problems with “a lack of natural freshwater, desertification and pollution.” Khizer Baig is a sophomore at Boston University who lived in Dubai for almost four years. He also voiced concerns about Dubai’s environmental policies “Dubai’s primary environmental struggle is with water,” he said. “Water is very expensive for non-drinking purposes and desalination is still a very expensive process.” Desalination is the process by which water is taken from the ocean and the salt is filtered out, making water fit for agricultural and human consumption. The process, however, causes huge amounts of salt to be dumped into the sea, negatively impacting marine organisms. In an interview with Water & Wastewater International, an online news source dedicated to water and technology, Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, CEO of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, said that the DEWA desalinates about 470 million gallons of water daily. Much of Dubai’s oil money is dedicated to desalination, causing the oceans to be filled with an excess of chloride, heavy metals and salts. This, along with the lack of recycling, leads to major environmental problems in Dubai.
Environmental Degredation In theory Pre-Industrial Economy
Economic Growth Baig’s family rarely recycles in Dubai. “We didn’t recycle our usual trash, but when we had a lot of recyclables from a shipment we would be sure to recycle them,” he said. Baig also pointed out that the insufferable hot and humid weather in Dubai makes walking and biking around the city impossible. He also never used public transit because it didn’t reach close enough to his home. “They do not serve tap water in Dubai, so I would only drink bottled water when not at home,” he said. However, Baig’s family, like many in Dubai, relied on large plastic water jugs delivered by Nestlé for water use at home. While Baig and other Dubai residents may not consider these jugs traditional “bottled water,” they are still processed in factories and contribute to waste problems caused by water bottle usage worldwide. According to the Dubai Statistics Centre, about 80 percent of Dubai’s population consists of expatriates, people who temporarily reside in a country other than their home country. Many live in Dubai for just a few years at a time. The population has little motivation to invest in their community.
DC’s largest environmental problem is pollution. The DC Environmental Network’s agenda includes cleaning up rivers, planting more trees, combatting climate change and encouraging schools to serve local organic food. Nearby the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, pollution has been rampant, but it has improved in recent years due to government and community action. The 5-cent bag tax was enacted partially to reduce plastic bag waste that ended up in these rivers. Like many DC residents, American University sophomore Kaitlyn Kessler consciously recycles and takes reusable shopping bags with her when she shops. “I don’t buy water bottles, ever,” Kessler added. Instead, she fills her reusable water bottle. Kessler, along with many environmentally-conscious AU students, often rides public transportation, a greener way to commute.
“Essentially, people do not feel committed, integrated and responsible enough to want to make a change,” Baig said.
As Washington has already realized, Dubai is quickly learning that it cannot sustain its growing population on its limited resources. Dubai’s Electricity and Water Authority has enacted conservation campaigns to encourage residents to use less water. These initiatives involve cleaning beaches and constructing green buildings, but there is still much to be done.
The Royal Geographic Society, a UK based think tank, found Dubai residents use twice as many resources as the average British person.
Miranda Cleland is a sophomore studying international studies.
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TAKE ME TO CHURCH Words and photos by Mariam Baksh In June of 2010, President Obama was attending Easter service at Allen Chapel in Southeast DC after a violent shooting in the neighborhood. In that area that kind of crime is not uncommon. The ministries and the church are supported with a budget from the tithes and offerings members and visitors make at service or online through the church’s website. “It’s a decision you make based on your relationship with God,” says Michael Bell Jr., Allen Chapel’s executive minister and son of the church’s pastor. “The more we have, the more we can do.” The church’s budget is not publicly available, but Bell estimates that there are close to 4,000 members and said their budget is usually about $2 million per year. He says while they haven’t been growing financially, they have seen an increase in membership and that the latter is more important.
“We don’t have much, but we help each other,” Jackie Lexington, said. She's been a member of Allen Chapel for a year and started a ministry that helps feed the homeless. Once a month they bring homemade meals to about 200 people using the church van. “It’s about connecting with them and letting them know they’re not forgotten,” Lexington said. “We’re all just one paycheck away from where they are.”
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The Rev. Dr. Glenda F. Hodges, who delivered the sermon on Allen Chapel’s annual missionary day, agrees. She says it’s important to be relatable and tells her own story. “They [the congregation] don’t ever think that someone with five degrees could lose their job,” she said. “It’s not about where you come from, but about using your abilities and seeing where they can take you.” Hodges grew up with the church. Her father was a pastor.She’s passed through three different denominations, before settling on this one, which is African Methodist Episcopal. Hodges says she was born into the Pentecostal church but that she left because of the many rules barring women from activities like wearing makeup or pants. She says she also spent time in the Baptist church but left because they don’t ordain women.
Hodges says the black church is the central focus for a lot of African Americans because it has played such a pivotal role in their lives historically. The church was where many newly freed slaves got educated, was often a hospital and served an important social function. Now though, Hodges says church attendance in the black community is waning. “Fifty years ago there wasn’t a light on in the streets at 7 o’clock because everyone was in church,” she said. “Nowadays a lot of people don’t see the church as essential to their lives.”
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MAKING STRIDES IN CANCER MANAGEMENT
Interview by Alex Mazzarisi // Photo by Rain Freeman
Your research involves studying inflammatory pathways in cells and how, if the pathways malfunctions, it can lead to cancer. Can you talk a little bit about how that is carried out? We look at the cells that surround the cancer and examine how it “feeds” the cancer so to speak. Some of the cells that feed the cancer are inflammatory cells, which can result from chronic inflammatory conditions such as Hepatitis or Crohn’s disease. About 15 to 20 percent of cancer is due to chronic inflammation in the body. The inflammatory cells cause cancer to grow rapidly and become invasive, so we try to see if we can starve the cancer by breaking off the communication.
Dr. Katie DeCicco-Skinner does groundbreaking cancer research at American University in addition to being a professor, a parent and an avid outdoor adventurer. She explains the importance of women in the field of science and where she believes the treatment of cancer is going.
How did you first become interested in studying cancer biology? I’ve been interested in science pretty much my entire life. I went to a science and tech high school, and I always knew I wanted to do something related to the human body—its cells and how it fights off diseases. My father got diagnosed with cancer my senior year of high school, just two months before I went into college, and I think that pushed me a little more towards working in cancer biology.
There is obviously a very strong need to find a cure for cancer, as one in two men and one in three women will develop it at some point in their lives. What makes finding a cure so complicated? People who get cancer don’t just have one gene mutation in the body; they typically have five to seven. If 50 different people have lung cancer, every one of them can have a set of different mutations. So finding a drug to treat all of them is difficult to find. Each drug will target only one specific gene mutation, and there are thousands.
How does researching cancer affect your overall well-being? Does it make you feel excited? Sad? Frustrated? I’m extremely passionate about cancer research and you can’t go into a field like that if you are someone who gets frustrated easily. There’s a saying that says, “science has good days and bad years.”
EXTINCT & EMERGING There are experiments that just don’t work and sometimes there are days where you just have to take a breath and say, “Okay it didn’t work so great today but we’ll try again tomorrow.” Overall I’m very optimistic, and I think that cancer research in general is progressing in a very positive direction.
Where do you see the future of cancer research going? Do you feel that we are getting closer to a cure or are we stuck in a rut? Cancer research is progressing far beyond historical norms. Technology has advanced so much in the past 20 years and allows us to analyze how genes respond to drugs that we have designed and allows us to get incredibly large amounts of data in a short period. There will never be “one cure” because there are over 200 forms of cancer that affect the body and each one comes from a different mutation. The goal is to try to make cancer a more manageable disease, like diabetes, and gradually increase the lifespan of people who have been diagnosed.
You use animals in your research. What would you say to people who do not support animal testing? I’m an animal lover, and I completely understand any objections people have to animal research. However, at this point we don’t have any other mechanism that will move us as far as we need to be moving in cancer research, as animals. Computer programs can only get us so far and over 95 percent of the mouse genome is similar to humans, so mice give us a pretty good idea of how certain treatments will affect us. That being
FOOD APPS ARE HERE TO STAY
FROM PHONE TO FORK By Eleanor Greene // Illustration by Mithila Samak
said, we take every precaution to limit the number of animals that we need to use in research.
What do you want students to take away from your class? I want students to not just blindly accept science, but to question it. I like them to be able to look at research, see if it seems valid and to design the next steps.
What advice do you have for young women interested in science? I think that 30 years ago it was extremely difficult to be a female in science, but times are changing. Females still inherently face more challenges than males do because they usually take on the role of being the primary caretaker of children if they choose to have a family and doing that while having a career that takes a lot of time and studying can be difficult. In the United States, there’s also only six weeks of paid ma-
Jack Vogtle sits in a metal chair in front of the Davenport Coffee Lounge at American University. Even though he leaves his backpack on when he sits down, he seems instantly comfortable. Over the summer, Vogtle was a bike courier for Postmates, a food delivery application for mobile devices, while he waited for security clearance for an internship at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Vogtle can’t stop smiling under his knock-off Ray Bans as he talks about the six weeks that he worked there. His voice cracks every time he gets excited, which is often. “Ever seen ‘Premium Rush’?” Vogtle, 20, asked, referencing the 2012 movie starring Joseph Gordon Levitt riding his bike all over New York City’s busy streets. Vogtle leaned forward in his chair. “It’s like, sometimes you’ll get into this mode where you’re like ‘I’m so badass right now! I’m delivering this McDonald’s and it’s so important.’”
you’re dedicated to your cause, you can achieve anything.
Those McNuggets and fries aren’t just important to Vogtle, either. All over Washington and across the country people are using delivery apps like Postmates to order and receive any type of food at all hours.
Alex Mazzarisi is a junior studying public communication and anthropology.
DC residents have a bevy of apps literally at their fingertips, including Postmates, Seamless, Instacart, EAT24, GrubHub, Drizly and
ternity leave, and women do get paid less than men in general. But I think the women [who] I teach are incredibly strong and if
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AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE MAGAZINE
Klink. The Apple App Store yields 915 results in a search for “food delivery,” each offering the fastest, cheapest, or otherwise best experience than the app one swipe to the right. EAT24 is perhaps the most succinct at putting its service into words, using the tagline, “Like a food truck in your pants.” In a 2013 survey by Viggle and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), 69 percent of respondents placed an order for food using a mobile app, according to Kristina Sruoginis, research director at IAB. This trend is showing no signs of slowing down, rather, it’s booming in cities across the country. No one knows this better than Nikki Rappaport. For her, delivery services mean good money. Rappaport, 27, is the brand strategist at Cava Mezze Grill, a fast food Mediterranean restaurant that opened its doors in 2006. Now it is a chain restaurant and brand known throughout the region with five locations and three more stores in the works. Over a half-eaten lamb and rice bowl, Rappaport explained how delivery apps offer companies nothing but a profit. Postmates in particular allows more customers to eat at Cava than are physically able to visit, and it asks nothing in return from the restaurant. Rappaport compared the lesser-known app’s burgeoning success to that of Uber, the hugely popular taxi app. “You don’t have to pick up a phone and call somebody, or go outside and raise your hand to hail a cab, so there’s that part that makes it
"Have you not heard of this wondrous world where I can deliver you whatever you want?" —Jack Vogtle easy,” Rappaport said, gesticulating and showing off her tangerine manicure. “The power is back on you to be able to do what you want with your time.” With that, Rappaport recalled a time before. A time before phones were also computing devices, a time before it was possible to have restaurant food in your home within the hour without having to take a step outside or even make a phone call. As a millennial, Rappaport herself may be too young to clearly remember such a time, but it wasn’t so long ago. Six years ago, the first apps were launched by Apple concurrently with the first iPhone. There were a mere 500 apps in the first app store, including the staples that still come with iPhones and have been adapted in the rise of android phones. In 2009, the BBC published an article by Maggie Shiels about the rise of the then-new mobile application. The headline forecasted “Apps ‘to be as big as internet.’” The article projected that in just 10 years, applications would become as or more popular than Internet websites. In the same year, Vic Gundotra, a vice president at Google, said that he believed apps were a passing fad. “Many, many applications can be delivered through the browser
and what that does for our costs is stunning,” Gundotra stated in a Financial Times report. “We believe the web has won and over the next several years, the browser, for economic reasons almost, will become the platform that matters.” Marlene Morris Towns, a professor of marketing at Georgetown University, tends to disagree with Gundotra’s 2009 assessment. From her sunny office overlooking a small but pristine courtyard next to the McDonough School of Business, Towns, 45, confidently postulates that the app is here to stay. “I think that the whole app space is going to keep growing,” Towns said beneath a canvas print of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly that hangs beside her door. “The requirements might amp up, people might expect more—in order for you to stick around and be on my main screen, you’ve got to really add some value.” If anyone would know, it might be Towns. She has a PhD in marketing from Duke University, and wrote her 1999 dissertation on web marketing, making her among the earliest researchers in the field. Now she focuses on social media marketing in most of her courses. App culture may have been described as a fad years ago, or even today, but Towns explained that there are many aspects of goods and services that may at first appear to be trends, but then prove their worth and remain a part of consumer culture. One product that fits this trend is hybrid cars, like the Toyota Prius, which Towns remembers as exploding in popularity after Larry David from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” started driving one on the show in 2003. Already market research from the IAB and Viggle see people using mobile apps to buy their food and become increasingly likely to order with them as desired services become available. For example, 47 percent of people surveyed said they would be more likely to order if they got delivery alerts, 36 percent if the app could remember past orders and 23 percent if their apps could remember credit card numbers, according to Sruoginis. These features are already becoming available and even widespread among delivery apps, and so the trend of using apps to buy dinner from cars, couches or the gym is still growing rapidly. Apps have already proven not to be a fad, but a burgeoning business model with staying power. Jack Vogtle had to stop working for Postmates when his bike was stolen from a rack outside the Tenleytown Metro station on his first day interning at the TSA. He never bought a new bike, but he looks back on his time at Postmates fondly and without regret. He sees a bright future for delivery apps as they build momentum in Washington. “Whenever I told someone I was bike courier-ing, they were like ‘What do you mean?’” Vogtle said, as he grinned widely, leaning back and crossing his arms over his blue Team Italia soccer jersey. “And I was like, ‘Have you not heard of this wondrous world where I can deliver you whatever you want?’
Eleanor Greene is a senior studying journalism.
EXTINCT & EMERGING
THE PLIGHT OF THE PASSENGER PIGEON
BYE BYE BIRDIE
By Nathan Strauss // Illustration by Mithila Samak
At their peak, a passing flock could darken the sky for hours. The downbeat of their wings would cause a chilling draft. By some estimates, a single discharge from a gun could bring down 30 birds or more. The last passenger pigeon, a female named Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914, the last of a population that once numbered six billion birds. “Most of what we would imagine to be common backyard birds barely break population estimates of 180 million,” said John Fitzpatrick, the director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a branch of zoology that studies birds. There is no bird alive today that even begins to approach the passenger pigeon’s once overwhelming population size.
"We don't really know that it would be possible for the species to come back." —Carl Zimmer It is difficult to imagine that a bird so populous would become extinct in the span of a few decades. For people at the turn of the 20th century, the passenger pigeon seemed an endless resource for food and sport. Hundreds of millions were killed and shipped to cities on the East Coast, where they were sold for pennies on the dollar. At the time, passenger pigeons were the cheapest and most abundant form of protein available. Today, a century after their extinction, passenger pigeons stand as a warning of the so-called thoughtlessness of man. But it appears that society has failed to heed this warning. In the time since the passenger pigeon’s passing, countless other species have been driven to extinction, in part, by the actions of man. Ornithologists and conservationists alike are now hoping to use this morbid centenary as an opportunity to raise the call for action to further protect threatened species. Similarly, the death of a species has brought about much discussion on the issue of “de-extinction”—the process of using modern technology to attempt to revive lost species, including the passenger pigeon. It’s a complicated process with a relatively low success rate. For this reason, some scientists, Fitzpatrick included, are of the mindset that de-extinction is impractical and a distraction from more effective conservation efforts. Carl Zimmer, a science author and Yale University lecturer, feels that the feasibility of de-extinction really depends on the species in question. In April 2014, Zimmer wrote a feature article for National Geographic exploring the possibilities and problems presented by de-extinction. Zimmer explained in a phone interview that he hasn’t seen any noticeable evidence of de-extinction having a harmful effect on conservation efforts. “[De-extinction] would be relatively easy to do for small species where
good biological samples have been preserved,” Zimmer said. His writing has brought him in touch with scientists on the cutting edge of this movement, and he has become well versed in the practicalities of the technique. As far as reviving the passenger pigeon goes, Zimmer believes that the solution is unclear. We don’t really know that it would be impossible for the species to come back,” Zimmer said. “A lot of forest has been regrown on the East Coast.” Zimmer’s comment refers to oak forests, which were the historic food source and nesting habitat of the passenger pigeon. Though the passenger pigeons’ numbers were heavily reduced by hunting and trapping, they were also impacted by habitat fragmentation, which began to occur as old-growth forest was cleared for agricultural use. By the end of the passenger pigeon’s existence, much of the oldgrowth forest that it relied on had been decimated as well. In the century since, large tracts of forest have been brought back, though they will never exist at the same size they did during the passenger pigeon’s time. If they were to be revived, passenger pigeons may fulfill an ecological role they left behind. The only thing that would prevent the hypothetical return of the passenger pigeon, according to Zimmer, is climate change. “We’re creating a fundamentally different environment with climate change,” Zimmer said. “In 100 years [the environment] is not going to be the same.” Zimmer’s fear is one shared by many, including American University Professor Chris Tudge. Tudge holds a doctorate in zoology and has taught courses on birds. “A lot of our bird species fly to the tropics for the winter and don’t breed down there, but feed down there and then come back up to breed,” Tudge said. “If you shift climactic bands, then there might be cases when [the birds] don’t actually have to leave North America to reach the same sort of climactic band where they were living in the tropics.” Tudge recognizes that with changing climates, there is a possibility migration patterns would be disrupted. If a natural cycle begins earlier than it has historically, the birds may arrive after it has already ended. Without the fuel to continue their migration, birds die and populations collapse. It’s difficult to say whether our current climate would support the migration patterns of an extinct species such as the passenger pigeon, but Tudge believes their successful reintroduction would be unlikely. Though we may have lost the passenger pigeon, there is hope for species that were similarly abundant but are now rare. Fish species, such as Atlantic cod and blue-fin tuna, which have been exploited as food source, are now receiving attention from conservation groups working to avoid a catastrophe on the same scale as the passenger pigeon extinction. If we play our cards right, these species may continue to persist for centuries to come.
Nathan Strauss is a senior studying journalism and environmental studies.
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