AWOL Issue 31: Fall 2022

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AWOL AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE | FALL 2022 | ISSUE 31 IN THIS ISSUE: REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS V. DOBBS UNDER RECONSTRUCTION: STUDENT MEDIA BOARD AMERICAN’S NEW AESTHETIC

AWOL Magazine aims to continue pushing both ourselves and American University to be more critical of issues that deserve to be understood with nuance; to work subversively when dismantling barriers that suppress certain voices; and to love irrepressibly when it comes to serving our community. We ignite campus discussions on social, cultural and political issues. We want to make our campus more inquiring, egalitarian and socially engaged.

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.

We were independently founded by American University students in 2008. AWOL Magazine is a member of the Associated Collegiate Press and Generation Progress Voices Network. This publication has won awards at the National College Media Convention, and its writers have won awards from the Society for Professional Journalists and the College Media Association.

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Dear Readers,

Thank you for picking up a copy of our latest edition. This is our 31st issue of the magazine. AWOL is proudly in its 14th year of production.

Rebuilding is the theme that our team decided to focus on for this issue. This theme represents the creation of new policies and the tearing down of old practices at American University. Rebuilding can take many forms, from administrative policy revision to physical additions to the university’s appearance.

The AWOL staff highlighted the theme of rebuilding through several stories. The cover story, written by Staff Editor Neal Franklin, discusses the university’s trials with installing gender-neutral restrooms on campus after student outcry. Managing Editor Grace Hagerman reported on the dissolution of the university’s student media board and the steps being taken to rebuild it. Along with several investigative pieces, the magazine includes new details on the upcoming Ripped from the Wall episode, where the podcast team looks into carbon neutrality at AU.

Like the theme of this edition, AWOL is rebuilding. This fall, AWOL started with eight returning members. As I wrap up my first semester on the job, I can proudly say that our team is now comprised of nearly 40 writers, editors, designers, photographers and podcast/multimedia members. We also rekindled our multimedia team this semester and will soon release a new mini-documentary titled, “Drinkable Donations.”

We pride ourselves on honest reporting and have a burning desire to unveil the truth. Despite the challenges we may face, AWOL will never rebuild our mission. As always, we strive to write critical, subversive and irrepressible stories. Stories that represent those whose voices may typically go unheard, and stories that leave you, the reader, thinking.

I want to recognize and thank our staff. The time and dedication put into this magazine cannot be quantified, and I have personally witnessed staff members grow to become better journalists. I also want to thank Casey Bacot and Leehy Gertner for their graphic design and page layout contributions. I could not be prouder of my team’s work this semester. The future of this organization is bright.

I also want to express my gratitude to you, the reader. Thank you for taking the time to read our stories and acknowledge the hard work it took to create this magazine. Until we meet again.

All the best,

AWOL
MISSION EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF FIND US ONLINE WEBSITE ISSUU INSTAGRAM TWITTER www.awolau.org www.issuu.com/awol @awolAU @awolAU STAFF WRITERS PHOTOGRAPHERS CREATIVE DIRECTORS STAFF EDITORS ASSISTANT EDITORS PODCAST DIRECTOR MULTIMEDIA DIRECTOR MANAGING EDITOR Grace Hagerman Mia Kimm, Grace Higgins, Zoe Kallenekos, Aidan Jacketta, Shreya Jyotishi, Katherine Seri Chang, Emma Pierce, Daniel Rosato and Caleb Ogilvie Neal Franklin and Kathryn Gilroy Matheus Kogi Fugita Abrahão and Maegan Seaman
and Leehy Gertner
and Emily
FALL 2022 | ISSUE 31
Casey Bacot
Audrey Hill
Roberts Helena Milburn Jessica Bates
Bonnibelle Bishop

The overturn of Roe v. Wade leaves a lasting impact throughout campus and DC.

Written by Kathryn Gilroy and Zoe Kallenekos

DINING OUT ON EAGLEBUCKS

EagleBucks used by fewer students and fewer vendors.

Written by Caleb Ogilvie

UNDER RECONSTRUCTION

Dissolved Student Media Board now under reconstruction for the future.

Written by Grace Hagerman

Citizens still arrested for decriminalized drug paraphernalia.

Written by Audrey Hill

FALL FESTIVITIES

The Fall Festival and farmer’s market draw students to the quad.

Written by Aidan Jacketta

AMERICAN’S NEW AESTHETIC

National Geographic Society gifts AU with a large rock sculpture.

Written by Daniel Rosato

RESTROOMS RESTRUCTURED

Gender-neutral student restrooms limited after policy change.

Written by Neal Franklin

With period poverty on the rise, access to period products on campus is scarce.

Written by Casey Bacot and Shreya Jyotishi

UNPREPARED FOR PERIODS THE TOP OF THEIR GAME

How does AU ensure the physical and emotional well-being of its athletes? AU After Carbon Neutrality

Written by Mia Kimm

Written by Emma Pierce

The Dav’s Drink of the Month

POLITICS IN THE DISTRICT CAMPUS LIFE PHOTO ESSAY: SEEING RED PHOTO ESSAY: CAMPUS IN BLOOM PAST THE PRINT PAGE 4 PAGE 11 PAGE 20 PAGE 32 PAGE 35 5 9 REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS V. DOBBS 12 14 16 18 26 29 31 POLICY ≠ POLICING
38
PROFESSOR PROFILE: AARUSHI SAHEJPAL
36 RIPPED FROM THE WALL 37 THE
MULTIMEDIA TEAM

POLITICS INTHEDISTRICT

REPRODUCTIVE
POLICY
POLICING
IN THIS SECTION:
RIGHTS V. DOBBS
DOESN’T EQUAL

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS V. DOBBS

On June 24, the Supreme Court overturned the almost 50-year precedent of Roe v. Wade, which protected the constitutional right to an abortion. In the 2022 case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the right to an abortion was declared not constitutionally protected, and the power to regulate abortion access defaulted to the states.

Students at American University, like senior Hope Neyer, and organizations in Washington, D.C., such as Planned Parenthood, were heavily impacted by the decision to overturn Roe. Over half a million abortions were performed in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The majority of Americans say that they want abortion to be legalized: A 2022 survey from the Pew Research Center found that 61% of Americans want abortion to be legal, while only 37% want abortion to be illegal.

Roe prohibited states from banning abortions during the first trimester, the first 13 weeks of a person’s pregnancy. States could only regulate abortions reasonable to a person’s health during the second trimester, 14 to 26 weeks of a person’s pregnancy, according to

the text in the majority opinion of Roe.

Since Roe has been overturned, states now are in control of whether abortion is legal or not. States, such as Texas, who moved to enact abortion bans.

The implications of Roe being overturned reached across America, including college campuses that neighbor the Supreme Court.

AU senior Hope Neyer from Ohio was dyeing her hair and cooking dinner when she heard that the Supreme Court was likely to overturn Roe. Neyer heard the news from a text her mom sent her about Politico leaking a draft opinion of Dobbs on May 2. Neyer said she stopped everything.

“My world exploded,” Neyer said. Neyer said college is a critical time for students like her, whose earlier sexual education was not entirely accurate.

“College represents the first time for a lot of people that they are away from home and away from the environment they grew up in,” Neyer said. “College also represents the first time for a lot of people that they have frequent sex with members of their preferred gender. And for some people, a consequence of that is having an unplanned pregnancy and

potentially unsustainable pregnancy.”

Neyer said she has been invested in the reproductive justice movement for five years, first getting involved back in her hometown. Neyer said she continued her involvement as soon as she got to AU, and currently works at an abortion clinic in the district.

The clinic she works for in the district is seeing an increase in patients from Texas, West Virginia and Kentucky–states where abortion rights are heavily debated, Neyer said.

“Obviously more regularly since these trigger bans have gone into effect after the Dobbs decision came out,” Neyer said.

Ohio has a six-week ban on abortion. However, Neyer said she would have resources and support if she were to return to her hometown state and want an abortion. It’s underprivileged people, Neyer said, who need to be centered in discussions of abortion access.

“We can’t cater our big dreams for the future around the people that are already in a pretty good place,” Neyer said. “We have to imagine a world where we start with the people who are not [in] so good of a place, and work to make futures that are livable

AWOL MAGAZINE POLITICS IN THE DISTRICT
The overturn of Roe v. Wade leaves a lasting impact throughout campus and Washington, D.C.
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and autonomous and healthy for them.”

Dr. Akila-Ka Ma’at is an assistant professor at George Mason specializing in African American Studies. She said that restricting abortion will affect marginalized communities, especially effects on the Black community in particular.

Black people and babies have the highest mortality and morbidity rates among pregnant people of various racial groups,

for Life of America is a nonprofit organization that advocates against abortion. The organization creates high school and college chapters across America.

In September, the university’s Student For Life chapter planned to host an event celebrating the overturning of Roe. However, the group posted a social media statement the day of the event, saying it would be canceled due to planned protests.

our humanity. Angry words or social opposition is not going to rock that fundamental belief instilled in so many of us.”

The Students for Life chapter said they ran into issues with the university to continue existing as a fully active club on campus.

“If it was difficult before to be pro-life on AU’s campus, it is only increasingly more so now,” the representative said. “We plan to resume as a fully-functioning club in spring of 2023. As a club, we care deeply about making sure mothers feel supported enough to choose life and are looking forward to being able to plan opportunities for AU students to serve mothers in need.”

Caroline Wharton, press strategist and staff writer for Students for Life, said the organization wants to help pregnant people.

Ma’at said. Black pregnant people and their infants are more likely to die in childbirth, and those who survive are more likely to develop disabilities, according to Ma’at.

“Black [people] are dying on the delivery tables, and so are their infants,” Ma’atsaid. “They’re gonna be looking for ways to get abortions that could lead to back alley abortions again and more deaths. More Black [people] are going to die on the delivery table as a result of the overturn of Roe.”

Senior Lillian Frame interned at the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund over the summer. Frame said what it was like at her workplace the day Roe was overturned.

“There’s nowhere else I would have rather been on that day than in the Planned Parenthood office for 12 hours, with people who cared so deeply about this issue, as we all just held that space for each other,” Frame said.

Frames’ time as a summer intern was both “the most incredible” and “the most exhausting” experience of her life, she said, because it coincided with the Dobbs decision.

“It’s terrifying, every day, knowing and kind of having to constantly come to terms with the fact that we have lost a right that seems so basic,” Frame said.

Frame said she thinks of her younger cousins and the lengths she would go if they ever needed assistance accessing abortion care.

“As long as I’m alive, they will be able to receive whatever care they need, even if I have to fly them to a different country on my own credit card,” Frame said. “I’m lucky I can say that and know that I’m in a family where that’s a decision that we’ll make together.”

Frame is opposed to AU’s Students for Life of America chapter. Students

“If they are so confident in their position, if they’re so confident that they’ve won, why are they being so scared about any kind of challenge to that,” Frame said. “I love life, and that’s why I want more people to have abortions. I want them to have the fullest access to the life that they want to live as is humanly possible.”

In a statement sent by a representative of the Students for Life chapter at AU, the chapter refers to the overturn of Roe as one of the “greatest victories for human rights in American history.”

“This overturn and its effects have allowed for thousands of unborn lives to be protected and spared,” said the representative, who requested not to have their name included. “We care about honoring human dignity, life and value, and see abortion as an immediate and pervasive threat to

“We want to make sure that [people] feel so supported in their pregnancy journeys that whether they choose to parent, whether they choose to place their child for adoption, or whether they’re going through post-abortive regret, we want to walk alongside them and make sure that they feel supported,” Wharton said.

Students for Life is a diverse group of students, Wharton said. “Not everybody is a Republican, not everybody is a Democrat, not everybody is a Christian or even religious, not everybody is a girl or a boy,” Wharton said.

“The one thing that unites all the students, even though they’re very different, is just that they want to see that pre-born life in the womb protected.”

Shaohannah Faith, the capital area regional coordinator for Students for Life,

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“My world exploded,” Neyer said.

said the district’s political climate is unique.

“It is definitely an interesting environment compared to other areas of the country, but the unique thing is we are right here in the heart of the capital,” Faith said. “We are very uniquely positioned to be on the front lines from a public policy standpoint.”

Organizations around campus have mixed feelings about the overturn. Austin Drake, president of AU College Republicans, said the club welcomes the decision.

“We’re happy when it went through, and they decided to overturn Roe,” Drake said. “We’re strongly pro-life.”

AU Pride Director, Cheyenne Smith, said the club feels collective anger toward the overturning of Roe.

“It was already difficult for everybody, but especially the gender non-conforming community to get abortions in the first place,” Smith said. “It’s just even hard-

not in the permanent relationship that they probably want to start a family with, and they are likely at a time in their life where they’re trying to pursue their education, and it might not be the right time to have a child,” Weitz said.

Weitz says they advocate for education on self-managing abortions when possible.

“A lot of abortions can be done by people using medication abortion safely at home,” Weitz said. “That’s probably the only upside to this horrendous decision.”

American University held a press conference for student media on their role in reproductive rights on Nov. 1. The press conference consisted of different experts from the university.

Ariel White, the associate medical director at the Student Health Center, said the Student Health Center provides resources related to pregnancy. “We provide pregnancy counseling

for all students to talk about what is on their minds without fear of judgment.

“It doesn’t matter what side [you are on]. We’re going to accept you for you,” Darby said. “And so it may seem scary to come on a liberal campus, and you may have different beliefs than other people in your classroom. We want you to be you, whatever that is.”

Outside of the university, the district consists of numerous abortion-rights organizations. The DC Abortion Fund (DCAF) is a non-profit that allows people in the district and out-of-state to request grants to cover the gaps in the costs of abortion that people cannot pay.

Devin Simpson, communications director and board member for DCAF, said abortions can be very expensive, costing anywhere between $200 and thousands of dollars. The expense can limit the accessibility of abortions.

er or more difficult now, and so AU Pride as a whole just mourns the overturning,”

Smith said this is another thing for students to worry about in their lives, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community .

“I mean, if we’re looking particularly at the queer community, a lot of choices already have been taken away,” Smith said. “Abortion is a part of health care in general, but especially a part of Queer health.”

The Dobbs decision impacted AU classrooms as well. Sociology Professor Tracy Weitz is in her first semester at the university, and is currently teaching “Abortion in the United States.” The class features several readings, some published as recently as this year, discussing topics such as abortion access as well as the overturn and its effects.

In the spring, Weitz will teach a class on transnational perspectives on abortion, looking at how abortion exists in other countries and how it might differ from or share similarities with the American experience.

Weitz said all college students should care about abortion, saying pregnant college-aged students face unique circumstances that may lead to them wanting an abortion.

“Many people in college are both

for students who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant or just have questions about pregnancy generally,” White said. “We generally follow a three-option counseling: providing resources on parenting, adoption, and termination depending on what the individual wants.”

The university Student Health Center offers health services to all students. White said they provide an emergency contraceptive called Ella for free with student health insurance and at a small cost for others.

Traci Callandrillo, assistant vice president of campus life, said the university will always support its students and their best interests.

“We’re going to always advocate that our students continue to have access to a full range of reproductive health care options,” Callandrillo said. “One thing that we’re aware of is that while you’re here physically in the District of Columbia, and you can engage in options, many of our students are from parts of the country where that’s not the case.”

Dr. Jackie Darby, the director of well-being programs at the Center for Well-Being Programs and Psychological Services, said therapy is a place

“Someone’s socioeconomic status, their ZIP code, how much money they make should never be what is a barrier to them to getting this procedure they are seeking,” Simpson said.

In 2021, according to the DCAF annual report, there were nearly 6,000 callers. Of those, just under 3,500 received grants. Virginians accounted for half of all callers, with the other half divided between residents of the district, Maryland, and states outside the DMV region.

Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington DC is a resource for those looking for reproductive health care and sexual health care.

The DC Planned Parenthood services residents and those traveling to the district. Public affairs manager Helena Hernandez says there are two types of abortion care Planned Parenthood offers.

“We offer both in-health-center surgical abortions and we also provide medication abortions,” Hernandez said. “Everyone should have the right to make decisions about what they want to do with their bodies, that is their decision between them and their health care provider.”

The overturn of Roe will raise many

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“The overturn of Roe v. Wade does sort of set up a precedent of the ability of states to make these kinds of decisions,” Grace said.

legal questions for the Supreme Court to decide, said Sonia Suter, a law professor at George Washington University.

“There are lots of questions about how far states can go in banning abortion,” Suter said.

Suter said that the ability to travel to another state for an abortion is an ongoing legal question. “States are trying to create laws, potentially, that reach into other jurisdictions,” Suter said.

The district’s current reproductive laws allow unrestricted abortion during pregnancy and allow people to travel to the district for an abortion, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

However, the district is not a state, so Congress can change these laws and restrict abortion. Congress has done this before with the passage of the 2011 Dornan Amendment, which prohibited the use of

locally raised tax dollars to cover abortion for those enrolled in Medicaid in the district.

Suter said that accessing abortions, even in states without bans, will be more challenging now.

“I think you have to think about states that are bordering a lot of these red areas where there is just no access to abortion rights without traveling,” Suter said. “I think you are going to see these states being overwhelmed by the needs that can’t be fulfilled in the states that exist, and so that’s just gonna make it harder for everybody.”

Karen Trister Grace, an assistant professor of nursing at George Mason University in Virginia, said she sees the overturn as a pathway to banning other rights related to bodily autonomy.

“The overturn of Roe v. Wade does sort of set up a precedent of the ability of states to make these kinds of deci-

sions for women or for people who have [the] capacity for pregnancy,” Grace said.

“That has very long-reaching implications beyond abortion, to contraception, [reaching to] transgender care, everything that sort of goes into our ability to make autonomous decisions for ourselves.” Grace said.

Kathryn Gilroy is a junior studying broadcast journalism and legal studies.

Zoe Kallenekos is a junior studying journalism with a minor in American studies.

Grace Higgins is a freshman studying political science.

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abortion is banned States
abortion is banned at 15, 18, or 20 weeks
States where
where
States where abortion is legal
York Times
Data derived from The New

POLICY DOESN’T EQUAL POLICING IN DRUG ARRESTS

Washington, D.C., decriminalized drug paraphernalia in 2020. Metropolitan police continue to arrest people for the offense.

Although the DC Council unanimously voted to decriminalize all drug paraphernalia in 2020, data from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) shows that officers continued to arrest people for the offense into the following year, highlighting what some experts see as a gap between the district’s increasingly progressive drug laws and their enforcement.

Many parts of the country, the district in particular, have begun to shift toward a less punitive approach to addressing the opioid epidemic. The district decriminalized marijuana in 2014, introduced a needle exchange program and made the opioid reversal drug, naloxone, widely available. However, advocates said there is still more to do, as most drugs remain illegal and police officers have continued to arrest people for decriminalized offenses.

“When looking at opioid policy, in general, I think we’ve gotten to a more sympathetic view,” said Madison Fields, a legal fellow at Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law. “But I would say that law enforcement has not caught up to that, in particular.”

In 2021, police arrested eight people for possession of drug paraphernalia, and 42 people were involved in paraphernalia-related stops, searches and seizures. Three of the arrests and half of the stops, searches and seizures occurred after the decriminalization law was officially enacted in March of that year, which experts

said likely means the police acted illegally in at least some of those cases.

While arresting someone solely for possession of drug paraphernalia after the law’s enactment would have been illegal, Nabeel Kibria, a drug lawyer based in the district, said such behavior wouldn’t surprise him.

“Are they allowed to arrest you for a crime that’s not even a crime? No,” Kibria said. “But do police arrest people all the time for all kinds of stuff, even if what they initially [charged them with] was not an ar-

“Going up against law enforcement can be scary, and there are lots of reasons why people don’t fight it,” Fields said.

Bennett said that race, financial capacity and arrest circumstances could all play into whether someone might speak up.

The arrests and seizures fell starkly across racial lines, keeping with what advocates, including the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit harm reduction organization, say is a historically racially biased enforcement of opioid laws in the district and nationwide. All those arrested and the vast majority of those whose paraphernalia were seized were Black men around 50 years old — roughly the same demographic dying of opioid overdoses in the district at the highest rates, per district data.

restable offense? Sure, I see it all the time.”

Richard Bennett, a policing expert and professor of justice, law and criminology at American University, agreed such arrests were likely illegal, but said it was unlikely police would face repercussions because the victims of the arrests themselves would have to hold them accountable.

“Police cannot illegally detain you without consequence,” Bennett said, but “the injured party has to complain.”

However, both Bennett and Fields said those who were arrested were likely not in a position to complain.

At a recent Live.Long.DC summit, representatives from the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council presented data showing that police arrested Black residents at more than seven times the rate of their white peers from 2017 to 2022. Despite analysis by the Hamilton Project, an initiative of the Brookings Institution that indicates people of different races use drugs at relatively similar rates, advocates have long pointed to disparities in enforcement.

Beyond the legality of the police actions, harm reduction advocates argue that, more broadly, using law enforcement and imprisonment to treat addiction hasn’t been able to stem the tide of the opioid epidemic, which the CDC estimates has claimed almost 1 million lives since 1999.

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“Policing efforts and law
“Going up against law enforcement can be scary, and there are lots of reasons why people don’t fight it,” Fields said.

enforcement in general hasn’t been effective in decreasing overdose deaths, or distribution,” Fields said. “That’s why the focus of harm reduction is critical –just like encouraging people to use their drugs in safe spaces with safe supplies.”

Tamika Spellman, a Policy and Advocacy Director at HIPS, a harm-reduction nonprofit in the district, said that when she was addicted to crack cocaine, law enforcement involvement was unable to treat her addiction effectively.

“No matter how many times that I got arrested, no matter how many times they made me go and do a urinalysis and they had me on probation, I still got high,” Spellman said. “I figured out how to get around it.”

The period after a user is incarcerated is when they are most likely to die of an overdose, Spellman said.

“They may have not had drugs in their system for a while,” she said, “and people tend to go back to using the same amount that they left off without knowing that their tolerance has changed, which is very problematic right out of jail.”

But Bennett says that the officers’

people commonly use rolled-up dollar bills to use drugs – a practice that safeuse advocates say quickly spreads bacteria. Sharing needles and other supplies puts people at risk of transmitting HIV, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis (TB) and other serious illnesses, Spellman said.

actions may have been well-intentioned.

“The idea of trying to get drugs off the streets, because fentanyl is killing kids and fentanyl is killing adults?”

Bennett said. “Is that a noble cause? Well, it might be to some people.”

Both Spellman and Bennett described the seizure of decriminalized paraphernalia as theft. Spellman also emphasized that safer drug paraphernalia made drug users safer, both by limiting the spread of diseases and reducing the risk of interpersonal conflict.

In the absence of safer materials,

When HIPS began distributing safer snorting and smoking kits, Spellman said they saw a decrease in tuberculosis transmission in the district.

If police arrest users or confiscate their supplies, Spellman said people will still experience the stigmatization and harm that the law intended to address.

MPD did not respond to a request to comment.

Audrey Hill is a junior studying journalism and CLEG.

AWOL MAGAZINE
“No matter how many times that I got arrested, no matter how many times they made me go and do a urinalysis and they had me on probation, I still got high,” Spellman said.
CAMPUS LIFE CAMPUS LIFE IN THIS SECTION: DINING OUT ON EAGLEBUCKS FALL FESTIVITIES UNDER RECONSTRUCTION: STUDENT MEDIA BOARD AMERICAN’S NEW AESTHETIC

DINING OUT ON EAGLEBUCKS

While some businesses still accept EagleBucks, many have cut ties with the program.

Leigh Hanau, a junior at American University, could purchase fresh salads from Panera and stuffed burritos from Chipotle with EagleBucks last semester but now must pay in cash or credit. As of Fall 2022, neither of those restaurants accept EagleBucks, according to the university website.

University meal plans include EagleBucks, which students can use instead of cash at on-campus locations and some off-campus locations.

Last semester, 27 off-campus venues participated in the program, according to Internal Communications Manager Jasmine Pelaez. Eight of them, including Panera Bread, Whole Foods and Wawa, no longer accept EagleBucks.

“You used to be able to spend EagleBucks everywhere, and now you can’t. You can only really spend them on campus,” Hanau said. “Which gets kind of boring.”

At the beginning of the Fall 2022 semester, 11 businesses accepted EagleBucks. In an email on Oct. 11, Assistant Vice President of Campus Auxiliary Services Michael Scher and Senior Director of Dining & Auxiliary Services Ann Marie Powell said eight new restaurants accept EagleBucks. According to the university website, students can now use EagleBucks at 19 off-campus venues.

Hanau said the way these restaurants changed their policy was notable.

“The fact all of these places are starting to use them less makes me think that maybe this is AU,” Hanau said.

According to Pelaez, venues left the program due to circumstances external to the university.

“The merchants leaving the program

nical services to DishOut,” Pelaez said.

Pelaez said the added restaurants went through a four-step process during which the establishments were contacted by DishOut and signed a contract. They then transported and tested the necessary equipment.

This transition process delayed some venues in accepting EagleBucks, Pelaez said, because of the global microchip shortage, a crucial part of the EagleBucks card readers. According to an overview published by the U.S. Department of Commerce in January, microchips became unavailable for many due to COVID-19-related demand and supply shortages.

When microchips did arrive and the transition was complete, Papa John’s, Domino’s, Surfside and five other venues accepted EagleBucks. Last year, restaurants

EagleBucks had a broader use when Hanau applied to the school three years ago.

“They said you could use EagleBucks at all of these different places across Tenleytown,” Hanau said. “I really liked that. I thought that was a cool idea that I wasn’t stuck eating on campus.”

Hanau said she felt the university needed to explain to the student body why it changed the venues that accept EagleBucks and provide an official statement on what restaurants were available.

did so for a variety of reasons, including location closure, going out of business and one with very low sales in the program,” Pelaez said. “Whole Foods exited all campus programs like EagleBucks nationwide.”

Over the summer, the university transitioned the EagleBucks program to DishOut, a payment solutions company, according to Pelaez.

“Campus Cash, which operated EagleBucks throughout last year, notified us in late May that they were outsourcing tech-

like SeoulSpice, Z-Burger and Nando’s accepted EagleBucks, according to the One Card & Dining Services website. However, other restaurants in Tenleytown, such as Popeyes, District Taco and Guapo’s, do not accept EagleBucks this semester.

Two of the off-campus venues that accept EagleBucks are outside Tenleytown. The university added Gregorio’s at Sumner Place and Gregorio’s Concessions on Oct. 11. According to Google Maps, those locations are almost 10 minutes away by car.

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“The merchants leaving the program did so for a variety of reasons, including location closure, going out of business and one with very low sales in the program,” Pelaez said.

Having 19 off-campus dining options means students will have 30% fewer options than in the spring 2022 semester.

Students also lack variety in their food options. For example, six out of the 19 off-campus venues serve pizza, along with three out of 12 on-campus dining locations.

According to the university website, its partnership with Grubhub allows students to sign into the app and use EagleBucks to get food delivered to their dorm. Over 320,000 restaurants nationwide use

nior, shops at Whole Foods even though they don’t accept EagleBucks. She said she buys groceries there and cooks meals at her Nebraska Hall dorm.

Cowles said that even if Whole Foods returned to accepting EagleBucks, she wouldn’t spend them there.

“I would run out of EagleBucks and constantly [have] to reload them,” Cowles said.

Cowles said she doesn’t need more Tenleytown venues to accept EagleBucks. She said she only uses EagleBucks when

For students like Hanau, the problem is having less access to food. In her sophomore year, Hanau lived on campus and used meal swipes and EagleBucks. As a result, EagleBucks became vital to her eating and spending habits, Hanau said. Without EagleBucks, eating would have been more challenging, she said.

“I would have been a little overwhelmed about the money and the financial [aspects of college] now that I have this new financial responsibility,” Hanau

Grubhub, according to Grubhub’s website. Grubhub mitigated the delays caused by microchips during the transition process earlier in the semester, Pelaez said.

Freshman Emily Carroll said she uses EagleBucks for Grubhub regularly.

“That’s what’s so convenient about having [EagleBucks] through Grubhub,” Carroll said. “You can pay for any restaurant. They don’t necessarily have to have a deal with AU because Grubhub does.”

The One Card and Dining Services website has instructions on how to use EagleBucks through GrubHub and also portrays EagleBucks as a convenient tool.

“EagleBucks are a convenient, cash less way to make purchases, using the university-issued One Card, both on campus and at many popular off-cam pus businesses,” according to the One Card and Dining Services’ website.

Freshman Amaris Bianchi shops at Target and Whole Foods, two of the big gest chains in Tenleytown. Both Target and Whole Foods don’t accept EagleBucks.

“I usually just use my own money to buy stuff,” Bianchi said.

Bianchi said she chooses to save her EagleBucks for laundry on campus.

“A lot of kids I know, especially on my floor, have blown through their EagleBucks already and so some of them have had to ask their parents to transfer money into their accounts just to do laundry,” Bianchi said. “I feel like laundry either could’ve been EagleBucks or actual money.”

Like Bianchi, Ava Cowles, a ju

going to The Davenport Coffee Lounge, The Bridge and the Starbucks on campus.

“I think they’re definitely worth it for Starbucks, The Dav and The Bridge because they don’t take the meal plan,” Cowles said. “I think if you have a meal plan and you’re living on campus, you should use that one as much as you can, and then limit how much you’re using Starbucks and The Dav.”

Cowles said she cooks her food to avoid the hygiene issues in the Terrace Dining Room, the dining hall on campus. A September inspection found Terrace Dining Room

said. “It may seem like a small deal, but if you’re struggling or if you’re going through a rough spot, that can be really difficult and you literally need it to live.”

Caleb Ogilvie is a freshman studying journalism.

Katherine Seri Chang is a sophomore studying film & media arts

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“It may seem like a small deal, but if you’re struggling or if you’re going through a rough spot, it can be really difficult and you literally need it to live,” Hanau said.

The Fall Festival and Farmer’s Market draw students to the

quad.

The Fall Festival overtook the quad with featured live music and various booths on the afternoon of Oct. 5. The festival was an addition to American University’s weekly farmer’s market.

Students like freshman Cara Leonar-

intent to buy a specific product but were delighted to find such a diverse selection.

Being able to get fresh ingredients right on campus allows students to try something new and cook something themselves, said freshman Mia

At the festival, there were pumpkins for people to paint, free festive drinks and several products, such as honey, crystals and seasonal produce.

Also on the quad that day was AU’s farmer’s market. The university’s farmer’s market is back this fall after a 2-year long hiatus due to the pandemic, according to the AU farmer’s market website.

RavenHook Bakehouse, Mesisam the Ethiopian Eatery and Airlie Farm were some organizations routinely at the farmer’s market. They sold freshly baked bread, pastries and produce.

The university’s farmer’s market features produce, pastries and products for students and university employees to purchase.

This year, the farmer’s market was held on the quad every Wednesday from Sept. 21 to Nov. 2, according to the AU Farmer’s Market website.

Lauren Lightcap, a freshman, said fewer products were available at the weekly farmer’s market than at the Fall Festival.

“I think it could be [better] if it was larger and they actually had fresh produce,” Lightcap said. “So more traditional stands, that don’t necessarily have to be meat, but [could be] more like fruit and vegetable related because I think people would eat those things, but they’re just not available to us in this current farmer’s market form.”

While many people appreciated the selection of baked goods and other prepared foods, there was a lack of produce, said freshman Megan Williams.

“I wish there was more variety with fruits and vegetables,” Williams said.

Additionally, the Fall Festival featured gluten-free options, but Williams said this was not always the case with the farmer’s market.

di said they go to the market every week.

“I think it’s always nice to have some fresh produce for people,” Leonardi said.

Leonardi attended the festival and bought an acorn squash, an apple crisp cobbler, Ethiopian food, lavender honey and a crystal. They said they had no

Faingold, who also attended the festival.

“It gives us a chance to eat outside of the on-campus restaurants like TDR,” Faingold said. “You can get ingredients along with the kitchens that you have at the dorms and things like that. So you can actually cook meals.”

“I know other weeks, they didn’t have gluten-free options,” Williams said.

While the Fall Festival brought more options for people, it was a one-time event.

Outside of the university, farmer’s markets in Washington, D.C., were still available to students when the university

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“I feel like it gives people the opportunity to purchase healthy food on campus,” Rowe said. “They don’t have to go to Giant or Whole Foods. It’s convenient.” 14

was online, said Andie Rowe, director of Employee Wellness and Work-Life at AU.

“Our faculty, staff and students as a community could go onto our AhealthyU website, which is our program, and then they could put in orders,” Rowe said. “Then they would make arrangements to either pick it up at the farmer’s market or have it delivered.”

wonderful to see because people were enjoying themselves and connecting with each other,” Rowe said. “In our hybrid work environment right now I think people are really craving that social interaction.”

Students could pay using a card or cash at the Fall Festival. Additionally, multiple venues accepted EagleBucks. EagleBucks are included in

over,” Williams said. “There’s already a line and it seems inconvenient. So I ended up just paying with my credit card.”

While students have the option to pay in a currency other than EagleBucks, there is a larger demand for EagleBucks.

Freshman Allie Burt said her experience with paying and gluten-free options at the Fall Festival was simple.

Rowe said the weekly farmer’s market is essential to the university community.

“I feel like it gives people the opportunity to purchase healthy food on campus,” Rowe said. “They don’t have to go to Giant or Whole Foods. It’s convenient.”

Rowe said the university also wants to expand the farmer’s market beyond sales.

“The AU dietitian reached out to us and said they want to do a cooking demo at the farmer’s market. So they ended up taking their beef and doing beef stew,” Rowe said. “We’re thinking about using that platform to do more kinds of cooking and showing students how to prepare things.”

Rowe said the farmer’s market achieved its goal of boosting overall campus wellness and engagement.

“It really brought the community together, which from my point of view, was

many of the university’s meal plans and are used at on-campus stores, restaurants and specific off-campus locations.

Students like Williams said paying with EagleBucks made navigating the festival harder.

“So you go to stand, you say that you want to use your EagleBucks and then they pull out an old pad of paper, like they’re a waitress, and they write down the price of the product,” Williams said. “Then you have to go to the main table where they’re giving out the apple cider and they just swipe your card and give you a receipt. Then you go back and you get to take the thing you paid for.”

Williams said long wait times could turn away future customers.

“At another stand they said it was gonna take like a minute and a half to walk

“I did not find the process to pay with EagleBucks complicated because I simply asked for the gluten-free brownie and was given a receipt for it,” Burt said. “And then I was able to walk over to the table where there was no line and hand over my receipt and my ID and they used my EagleBucks.”

Burt said that the farmer’s market offered a place for students to gather and buy fresh food for the fall semester.

“I think that it serves as a great way to bring the community out to the quad together and to get local businesses involved on the campus,” Burt said.

Aidan Jacketta is a freshman studying journalism and economics

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“I think that it serves as a great way to bring the community out to the quad together and to get local businesses involved on the campus,” Burt said.

UNDER RECONSTRUCTION: STUDENT MEDIA BOARD

exercise their creativity. Each organization has its own purpose and goals, meaning they contribute differently to the university’s community.

In the past, the Student Media Board created budgets for their organizations and collaborated with each other on various matters like workshops and recruitment. Since 2019, board members also earned a $730 to $1,500 stipend for their work each semester, according to Assistant Vice President for Community and Internal Communication Elizabeth Deal.

held meetings to discuss what the Student Media Board’s role on campus would be in the future. This fall, the group met several times per month to continue the discussion.

Deal said the working group’s goal is to make recommendations to CSI about a new structure and operation plan for the board. According to Deal, what the board comes up with should support “student engagement and thriving while also ensuring that organizations act as good stewards of student activity fee funds.”

“This student involvement assessment is a year-long process, and CSI looks forward to continued collaboration with all working groups,” Deal said.

According to Simpson, the board has recently decided on the recommendations below.

“Each media organization will have at least one representative on the board and they will all coordinate when planning events and trainings for staff and leadership within their respective organizations,” Simpson said. “My hope is that these new changes will encourage more collaboration between clubs and make student media more cohesive as a whole.”

American University’s Student Media Board is undergoing a reconstruction after the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) conducted a mass review of all student groups, causing the board to dissolve last spring. After discussion last summer and this fall, members working to reform the board have decided on new baselines for the group’s constitution to send to CSI.

Jamey Simpson, the director of Photo Collective, participates in the Student Media Board work group.

“As our semester comes to a close, we’ve begun to wrap up the student media work group. We all decided to create a constitution of sorts that holds each media organization accountable to standards we stipulated in a document that will be released soon,” Simpson said.

The Student Media Board was a group of media leaders from 10 different student media organizations on campus. The organizations are groups that create radio, broadcast, film, music and print content.

According to American University’s Student Media website, campus media organizations are an outlet for students to

As the Fall 2022 semester began, the academic year started without an official Student Media Board. However, the board is being reconstructed. Deal addressed the reconstruction of the board in a statement sent to AWOL.

“Last spring, as part of a larger student involvement assessment, the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) initiated a review of all student groups, including the Student Media Board,” Deal said.

At past meetings, members have discussed how to define student media. They also determined the overall responsibilities of the board, according to Simpson.

“It was just another bureaucratic arm that didn’t really do a lot,” Simpson said. “And the things that matter, like budgeting decisions, for example, they always happen above that Student Media Board anyway.”

Former Editor-in-Chief of the university’s HerCampus from 2021 to 2022, Peyton Bigora, said she didn’t

“As a direct result, student media, AU Student Government, and programming working groups were created.”

Nine media organizations from the dissolved Student Media Board are participating in this work group: American Television Network, AmLit, AWOL, The Blackprint, The Eagle, HerCampus, Photo Collective, Second District Records and WVAU. This past summer, the work group

see the board as very impactful.

“I mean, it was always good to have a home base to talk about financial situations and so on,” Bigora said. “But I can’t say I ever left one of those meetings like ‘oh, thank God we really needed to hammer out that issue.’”

Former member of the Student Media Board in Fall 2021 and former general manager of American Television Net-

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Student media leaders work to reform the Student Media Board after it dissolved last spring.
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“My hope is that these new changes will encourage more collaboration between clubs and make student media more cohesive as a whole,” Simpson said.

work, Gabe Ferris, said that the board’s purpose was not very clear to its members.

“We always seemed to get different ideas of what Student Media Board was and why its purpose existed,” Ferris said. “Our primary function through and through was to approve spending.”

Ferris said it was “not surprising” to him that the board disbanded.

“I think the Student Media Board’s experience or relationship with the Center of Student of Involvement was a bit challenging at times,” Ferris said.

The recent statement from Deal addresses the progressions that the Student Media Board has gone through over time.

“Obviously, running a student media organization is a lot of work and at that point, they were getting stipends which makes sense because it is like a fulltime job, full-time position,” Long said.

Student media organizations play an important part in campus life, Long said.

“[Student media] also benefits AU as an organization and also benefits students, and it’s a great way to get information out there and everything like that,” Long said. “So the stipend was just acknowledging that and helping people out who felt like drowning in work sometimes.”

Current work group members discussed whether stipends should be

sponsibilities that the board must uphold: The board is responsible for promoting collaboration within the university community, establishing expectations for publications, facilitating the development of new media organizations, maintaining funding, resolving any grievances between media organizations and advocating for the student media body.

Carlson sees the function of the board as aligning with the 2021 constitution, however he said that the previous board did not reflect the constitution.

“It didn’t really end up working out like that,” Carlson said. “I don’t want to call it a lack of effort, because I guarantee you that every single person on Student Media Board in the past years has wanted to make something happen. But I think the goals that were set out just weren’t meaningful enough to the organizations.”

Long said that the lack of action from the board was due to large workloads.

Deal said the Student Media Board began in 2010 and has adapted to the changing needs of the board since. The board structure in 2014 included an advisor from the former University Center Student Activities team. In 2017, the board included two members from each media organization. This changed to include just one representative per organization in the spring of 2020.

“During this time, CSI began addressing excess reserves and the need to ensure the funds are spent appropriately,” Deal said. “Funds allocated each year are expected to be used during the academic year they are allocated.”

Deal said that student media did not use all the money allocated to them from previous years, and those funds were stored.

“The student activity fee funding is not intended to serve as a savings account,” Deal said. “$100,000 from Student Media reserves were used to fund Student Media this year versus allocating new funding from academic year 22-23 student activity fees.”

Because the board is not running this semester, members are not receiving stipends as they have in the past.

In students’ eyes, the stipends have served as compensation for the hard work they have put into their own organizations and for sitting on the board, according to Megan Long, former general manager of American Television Network and member of the board from 2020 to 2022.

given to board members and who should determine the total amount of these stipends, according to Simpson.

Simpson said this was complicated for the university, and stipends wouldn’t personally make him “a better director of Photo Collective.”

Co-President of Second District Records, Sean Carlson, explained that while some people on the Student Media Board think the board advisors should determine the stipend amounts, he said he believes the board shouldn’t rely on the university.

“The point of Student Media Board is to control our own destiny and get rid of the sort of AU bureaucracy that we’re often subjected to,” Carlson said. “And we feel that if we put it in the hands of professors or CSI advisors, it would be mishandled.”

The prior Student Media Board con stitution that details the composition and operations of the board was updat ed in August 2021 on the student engagement website, Engage.

In Section iii of the consti tution, which lays out the guide lines for new organizations entering the board, it says, “leaders are entitled to a sti pend at a level determined by the Media Board.”

The constitution also had a list of re

“I feel like when I was on the board, it was a lot of talking and planning and not a lot of doing much, and that wasn’t because of the members of the board,” Long said. “It was just kind of like we were all overworked with our own organizations.”

The student leaders in the work group all have their own opinions on how the board should be restructured. Still, they have a common goal of improving the board for future leaders.

“The discussions can get a little bit tricky at times. And often, we don’t get very far. And it’s more so just a discussion,” Carlson said.

Carlson said many board members will not return next year because they are seniors.

“We would hate for the people in our organizations who are juniors, sophomores, freshmen to have to deal with this again,” Carlson said. “So we’re hoping soon, whether by the end of the semester or end of the year, that we have a plan for the Student Media Board.”

CAMPUS LIFE
Grace Hagerman is a sophomore studying journalism and political science.
Emma Pierce is a freshman studying CLEG.
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“We would hate for the people in our organizations who are juniors, sophomores, freshmen to have to deal with this again,” Carlson said.

AMERICAN’S NEW AESTHETIC: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’S GIFT TO CAMPUS

Construction underway for artist Elyn Zimmerman’s newly renamed sculpture.

American University community members will soon see a large rock sculpture along their daily campus walk. Sudama, formerly known as Marabar, will sit in front of the Kogod School of Business, across from Katzen Arts Center. Sudama has been reformed into a crescent shape to fit the new location, and according to a Sept. 14 university memo, is expected to be unveiled around the end of December. “Marabar will be a unique feature on our campus and contribute to our scholarship in the arts”, the memo said.

“I think that what students will get out of having the sculpture on campus is ... an appreciation for ... artwork,” said American Artist Elyn Zimmerman, who began working on the sculpture in 1981.

Zimmerman taught university art classes in New York and California between 1974 and 1986 and has been a visiting professor of architecture at several different colleges, including the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Construction has been underway at American University since mid-September for the relocation of Sudama, which stood

in front of the National Geographic Headquarters in the district from 1984 to 2021.

“It’s recognized as a masterpiece in the genre,” said Dr. Jack Rasmussen, director and curator of the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center.

The relocation process, is fully paid for by National Geographic, according to Steve Callcott, who is the deputy preservation officer at the Office of Planning. The process began when the district Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) unanimously voted in Aug. 2019 to approve a renovation plan for National Geographics campus, which did not include Marabar according to the New York Times. The future of the sculpture was undetermined.

“The primary responsibility [of HPRB] is to designate properties as either landmarks or historic districts properties that have been determined to meet criteria that represents important aspects of the city’s history or architecture,” said Callcott..

For a property or piece of art to be designated by the Historic Preservation Review Board, an estimated 50 years must have passed since

the building or piece’s construction.

“The issue was more about the fact that Marabar was not a historic resource. It may be a valuable artistic resource, but it was not one that fell within the context of the Historic Preservation Review Board’s role in evaluating alterations to historic properties,” Callcott said

Initially, Zimmerman said she did not want to fight City Hall alone.

In January 2020, associates of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, a nonprofit in the district that works to preserve architecture, sculptures and landscapes, reached out to Zimmerman to preserve the sculpture.

A campaign of artists, museum curators and others soon gathered to fight for Marabar’s survival.

“It was really a result of letters that were generated from The Cultural Landscape Foundation,” Callcott said.

The Cultural Landscape Foundation said in a March 2021 letter that National Geographic’s proposal “had not adequately illustrated the installation nor appraised the HPRB of the artwork’s importance.” As the movement to save Marabar expanded, more letters were posted on the Cultural Landscape Foundation website. “To erase a major work of art such as this, would be a crime, in my opinion,” said New York artist

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Martin Kline in a letter written in 2020.

Within months, the Historic Preservation Review Board soon received dozens of similar letters fighting for the Marabar’s survival and eventually revisited the issue. AU was later chosen as the new site and installation began on Sept. 19.

The original inspiration for Marabar came from the E.M. Forster novel, “A Passage to India”, which talks about rock-cut temples carved out of solid rock. These caves exist all over India with naturally rough outsides and polished insides.

“When the National Geographic and their architects at the time came to talk to me about doing something with rock and

water, I immediately thought of this, the description of the caves,” Zimmerman said.

“I think that it’s really important for people to see the history of different perspectives that we don’t see here in D.C., so if something is being donated to our campus and people can learn about that then that’s really helpful,” said AU sophomore Abbey Boyce.

The relocation of Marabar to American University was scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2022 but was delayed due to the discovery of a communications cable running underneath Massachusetts Avenue. The construction could not begin until mid-September due to the cable.

With Marabar’s unveiling just weeks away, there are already plans for an exhibition of Zimmerman’s work next summer at the Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, as well as to commission a piece of work from the music department to be played on the site this spring.

“So we’re gonna use it a lot, I think, and everybody over here is very excited about it,” Rasmussen said.

Daniel Rosato is a freshman studying journalism with a minor in spanish.

CAMPUS LIFE
“To erase a major work of art such as this, would be a crime, in my opinion,” Kline said.

SEEING RED

A PHOTO ESSAY

Content Warning: This photo essay includes descriptions of sexual assault.

After a recent incident of sexual assault in Leonard Hall, American University students walked out of class on Nov. 10 to protest sexual violence and the administration’s response, according to an Instagram post by the walkout organizers. Students attending the walkout wore red, carried signs and gathered on the quad to show their support.

Event organizers Lillian Frame and Emily Minster addressed attendees and listed their demands. Multiple guest speakers, ranging from current students to alums, spoke about their personal experiences and concerns about sexual violence on campus.

At the end of the rally, the organizers thanked the student body for their support. Many students stayed to participate in chants and connect with other students at the walkout.

Photos
CAMPUS LIFE
Maegan Seaman is a junior studying broadcast journalism with a minor in political science
RESTROOMS RESTRUCTURED
STORY) UNPREPARED FOR PERIODS THE TOP OF THEIR GAME
IN THIS SECTION:
(COVER

RESTROOMS RESTRUCTURED

New policy changes present challenges for gender-nonconforming students.

Sophomore Cameron Eller, the trans and nonbinary coordinator for the LGBTQ+ student advocacy and programming group, AU Pride, toured the university as a prospective student before the 2021-2022 academic year.

Eller said he saw various resources available to LGBTQ+ students in the Mary Graydon Center.

“I went into MGC on the second floor and they had two all-gender restrooms that were multi-stall,” Eller said. “There was a huge sign in the middle that was talking about the importance of all-gender restrooms.”

Eller, a transmasculine person said he feels uncomfortable using gendered restrooms. The number of restrooms accommodating students like Eller, who don’t always feel comfortable in gendered spaces, decreased this semester.

The university announced its decision to eliminate 14 multi-stall gender-neutral restrooms in an email on Aug. 15. It attributed the change to D.C. Building Code requirements, which mandate a certain amount of gendered restrooms, and privacy concerns.

The university also formed a working group of students, staff and faculty to be a resource while 10 new single-stall gender-neutral restrooms are planned and built across campus. The university plans to complete construction in July 2023.

Gendered restrooms replaced gender-neutral ones at the beginning of the fall semester. The university also re-

ous LGBTQ+-based community events.

The university’s LGBTQ College Checklist asks prospective students to compare the university’s gender identity acceptance policies with other colleges. Most boxes under the university’s column are pre-checked and discuss topics similar to those included in the Trans Resource Guide.

“I know that one of the things that

moved the sign in MGC explaining the importance of gender-neutral restrooms.

“I could still see the screw holes from where that first sign used to be,” Eller said. “And that was gut-wrenching.”

BestColleges.com ranks American University as the district’s top school for LGBTQ+ students. The website made this determination because of the Trans Resource Guide – which includes guides to housing, health and student organizations considering LGBTQ+-specific issues – and the vari-

was really important to me when I was choosing a school was how inclusive they were towards trans students,” Eller said.

Accessibility to gender-neutral restrooms is one of the considerations for the BestColleges.com ranking. While there are still gender-neutral restrooms, there are fewer due to the change.

The university cited privacy concerns as one of the main reasons for changing the genders of the restrooms.

“Our review concluded that our restrooms do not currently pro

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COVER STORY
“I could still see the screw holes from where that first sign used to be,” Eller said. “And that was gut-wrenching.”

vide a consistent level of privacy,” the university said in its initial email.

Eller said he asked university representatives for details on the review.

“The response I got was, obviously, a single-stall restroom is more private than a multi-stall restroom,” Eller said. “And I was like, that doesn’t make any sense.”

The university said it plans for any new and current gender-neutral restrooms to be single-stall.

The university also said that following DC Building Code is a priority. According to the 2017 version, educational facilities must have one restroom per 50 male students and one for every 50 female students. There is no requirement for multi-stall gender-neutral restrooms.

During a town hall on Nov. 3, arranged by AU Pride and attended by CFO Bronté Burleigh-Jones, philosophy professor Perry Zurn gave a presentation on

old child and searching the internet.

“The next morning, she told me the D.C. plumbing code is built on the international plumbing code,” Zurn said after the meeting.

The 2021 International Building Code includes exceptions to the gendered requirements.

“Where multiple-user facilities are designed to serve all genders, the minimum fixture count shall be calculated 100 percent, based on total occupant load,” according to the code.

Officials in the district are likely to include a similar amendment in an updated building code which is published every two to four years, Zurn said.

“It takes a long time to put new plumbing codes through all the hoops in order to get them to essentially be published,” Zurn said. “DC is fine and happy to amend plans to have this. That’s great, but I got more like a six months to two years

gender-neutral restrooms in the district. Zurn is writing a book on transgender inclusion in universities and was recently made co-lead of the university’s working group on gender-neutral restrooms after having asked to join the working group earlier this year, with Burleigh-Jones.

Professor Zurn’s presentation included a revelation he said his wife had while taking care of their 18-month-

[time frame] for when it actually hits.”

Institutions can also apply for a code modification that would allow the university to follow the international code instead of the DC Code, Zurn later said in an email to AWOL. The university would have been able to do this in the summer.

According to Elizabeth Deal, the assistant vice president for Community and Internal Communications, this

HEALTH
“This is an issue that affects everyone,” AU Pride said. “Our trans, gendernonconforming, and disabled peers most of all.”

all public and privately owned single-stall restrooms to be gender-neutral.

Single-stall accessible restrooms on campus, following the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, are already gender-neutral as required by the initiative.

Isha Devarasetty, the diversity and accessibility coordinator for AU Pride, said that only having ADA-accessible restrooms available to gender-nonconforming students may create issues.

der, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming student members of the community during this period of time and to serve as a resource during the planning and design phase of the new restrooms,” Deal said.

A gender-neutral restroom can be used by anyone of any gender identity. However, it is often gender-nonconforming students that feel uncomfortable in public restrooms.

About 60% of transgender and nonbinary people reported avoiding public

on each floor, according to the university’s list of gender-neutral restrooms.

Kai Tomlin, a program associate on Bluestein’s floor last year, said he raised the issue of changing the gendered restrooms to gender-neutral at floor meetings.

“I wanted to make sure that everyone felt comfortable in their home,” Tomlin said. “The bathrooms in our houses are gender-neutral, you don’t need to identify in a binary to go to the bathroom there.”

“This decision forces gender-nonconforming students and disabled students to compete for the limited amount of bathrooms that they can use,” Devarasetty said.

The 10 new single-stall restrooms the university plans to add will be gender-neutral and ADA-accessible.

On campus, there are currently 125 single-stall, all-gender restrooms, according to Deal in an email. Of those restrooms, 66 are “All Gender Accessible Restrooms,” while the rest are “All Gender Restrooms.”

The all-gender accessible restrooms are located in places like the Don Myers Technology and Innovation Building, the lower floors of residence halls, the Mary Graydon Center, the School of International Service and the McKinley Building.

All-gender restrooms are located in places like Bender Library, the Butler Pavilion, the East Quad Building and Kerwin Hall.

In an Instagram post published on Sept. 13, AU Pride said they were in conversation with university administration and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) about the new policy. The working group on gender-neutral restrooms includes representatives from AU Pride, CDI, university administration and staff members.

“[The] goal is to support our transgen-

restrooms, according to the U.S. Transgender Survey in 2015 conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality. A new survey for 2022 opened on Oct. 19.

It is vital for transgender and nonbinary people to have access to a gender-neutral restroom option, AU Pride said in their post.

“This is an issue that affects everyone,” AU Pride said. “Our trans, gender-nonconforming, and disabled peers most of all.”

AU Pride said they plan to continue working with the university through working groups and communicating with students.

The current single-stall restrooms have had mechanical issues. The restroom door lock on the second floor of Kerwin Hall has been broken since Oct. 15. Many other functional restrooms also require swipe access.

Sophomore Skylar Bluestein requested swipe access to a gender-neutral restroom last year in Anderson Hall. After making multiple requests, they received access in March, Bluestein said.

“I went with Constitution for living this year because I’m not dealing with this bathroom nonsense again,” Bluestein said.

Last year, Bluestein lived in a traditional freshman dorm on the fourth floor of Anderson Hall. The dorms don’t have gender-neutral restrooms

The conversation ended without a resolution, Tomlin said.

“The topic didn’t get the conversation it deserved,” Bluestein said. “It just felt like it was cut off.”

The university’s plan includes gender-neutral restrooms for the first floor of every residence hall.

Only having single-stall gender-neutral restrooms is a “cop out,” Tomlin said.

“When we can approach a gender-neutral restroom that has six stalls in the same way we would approach a gender-neutral restroom that has one stall in it, then we’ve actually created a gender-neutral space,” Tomlin said.

Tomlin said they plan to continue having conversations with other students and advocating for gender-neutral restrooms.

Eller said he believes the university is unlikely to revert to having the multi-stall gender-neutral restrooms, like the ones on the second floor of MGC when he toured AU, anytime soon.

“I think that if there’s going to be a change, it’s because the students make there be a change,” Eller said.

Neal Franklin is a sophomore studying foreign language and communication media.

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“When we can approach a gender-neutral restroom that has six stalls in the same way we would approach a gender-neutral restroom that has one stall in it, then we’ve actually created a gender-neutral space,” Tomlin said.

UNPREPARED FOR PERIODS

With a spike in period poverty around the country, AU students

question whether the university cares about their menstrual needs.

American University provides menstrual products in three out of 44 buildings on campus as of November 2022. Therefore, menstruating students have limited access to free menstrual products on AU’s campus.

American University provides free products in Kerwin Hall, Kogod School of Business and Bender Library. However, with a student body of over 14,000 to accommodate, the university lacks equal access to menstrual products, leaving students with concerns about health and safety, according to the President of Day for Girls Emily Fafard. Day for Girls club that advocates for menstrual equity and the de-stigmatization of menstruation on campus.

“This is a public health crisis,” Fafard said. “If you’re not getting the products that you need and if you’re not taking care of yourself on your period, it’s a serious health problem.”

Accessible menstrual products are currently limited to three buildings. Students may also purchase products from campus convenience stores like The Pod or Eagle’s Nest, although pads and tampons are not consistently stocked.

Due to supply chain issues related to the coronavirus, store shelves are missing certain menstrual products and increasing their prices, according to a National Public Radio article from June 2022.

Students and campus organizations,

my cycle early, so I went to the campus store to look for some pads, but I couldn’t find a single box or product, which was really shocking,” Senior Rachana Pokkuluri said. “A lot of students treat campus as their home, so you’d expect the university to be prepared, even if it’s just one size or one product.”

The lack of product access can pose a financial barrier to menstruating students. A September 2021 research study commissioned by INTIMINA, a menstrual product company in Sweden, examined 2,000 women’s experiences with period poverty. According to the study, the average menstruating person spends $13.25 a month on period products. The absence of products in campus bathrooms requires students to invest hundreds per year in their own supplies.

“Period poverty within college campuses is both an economic and hygienic problem,” Fafard said.

“Period poverty affects about 14% of university students and about one in 10 cis -women on college campuses,” Fafard said.

Days for Girls plans to advocate for free menstrual products in campus bathrooms during this school year, according to Fafard. In addition, within her

body about period poverty on our campus specifically, with a goal of presenting that information either to AUSG or the school administration,” Fafard said. “We’ll say, here’s this critical need on this campus, and as an institution, we believe that

such as Days for Girls, have discussed the effects of the university’s lack of menstrual products in campus bathrooms. Without products being provided in public spaces, menstruating students must supply their own.

“I remember once, I randomly got

role as president, Fafard says she aims to form a year-long project of collecting and analyzing data to advance the goal of product accessibility in restrooms.

“We’re gonna start with a menstrual needs survey, surveying the student

you should be providing for this need.”

A period product accessibility poll created by AWOL allowed students to provide their opinions on the state of menstrual equity on campus. Of the 20 students surveyed, 75% said they felt that AU does not

HEALTH 29
is a public health crisis,” Fafard said. “If you’re not getting the products that you need and if you’re not taking care of yourself on your period, it’s a serious health problem.”
“This

have adequate no-cost menstrual product accessibility. In addition, every respondent said that the university should provide menstrual products in all bathrooms on campus.

worry about disrupting attendance or class and educational outcomes are all important.”

Gupta says that a campus as progressive as AU may still struggle to provide period products. due to “silent biases”.

in order to “serve the needs of students at all times throughout the calendar year.”

“We are developing an action plan to help us review a range of approaches to the Period Products Act of 2022 by Dec. 2, which is well in advance of the late January implementation deadline,” the university said.

Because people who menstruate include non-binary individuals, transgender men and other non-female-identifying individuals, D.C. Councilmember Brooke Pinto has pushed for free menstrual products to be available in all bathrooms. Pinto helped write the Expanding Student Access to Period Products Act of 2022.

A 2021 study on college campuses revealed a direct correlation between cis-gendered women experiencing period poverty and depression.

Dr. Jhumka Gupta, an associate professor in the Department of Global and Community Health at George Mason University, describes the impacts of not having menstrual products available for students.

“Mental health impacts are a very tough concern among college campuses now,” Gupta said. “I think addressing period poverty is one way to address mental health among [the] student population. Having to

“I think there’s a stigma against menstruation and mental health,” Gupta said. “I think it’s really important to cut through that, especially in a public health space.”

According to a statement by AU, the university is creating a working group with both undergraduate and graduate students as well as staff to discuss their plan to follow the Expanding Student Access to Period Products Act of 2022 passed on Jan. 24. The law requires the district’s schools and universities to install period product dispensers with tampons and pads within women’s and gender-neutral restrooms

In a press release on Jan. 4, Pinto said “The lack of accessible period products adversely impacts women, girls and transgender men’s ability to receive an education, care for their reproductive health and participate more broadly in society.”

Casey Bacot is a junior studying political science and journalism.

Shreya Jyotishi is a freshman studying CLEG.

AWOL MAGAZINE
“I think addressing period poverty is one way to address mental health among [the] student population,” Gupta said.

THE TOP OF THEIR GAME

Junior Player Lizzie De Guzman wakes up at 8 a.m. for American University’s varsity lacrosse practice. At 10 a.m., she practices for two and a half hours before going to her first class at 12:55 p.m. Immediately after, De Guzman has two more back-to-back classes until 6:45 p.m. Then, the next day, she does it all over again.

“It is very overwhelming having to focus on the commitment to a team and [the] commitment to academics and to yourself,” De Guzman said.

De Guzman is one of 305 student-athletes at American University with an extensive schedule.

Home to multiple NCAA Division I level athletic teams, AU celebrates achievements, with multiple athletes consistently placing in the top 15 in championship tournaments, as stated in the 2021-2022 AU Sports Annual Report.

In the U.S., approximately 33% of all students experience symptoms of depression and anxiety, and 30% of this group seek help, according to Athletes for Hope. Meanwhile, as much as 35% of U.S. student-athletes suffer from mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and body dysmorphic disorders, with only 10% seeking help.

According to Athletes for Hope, athletes deal with pressure to perform athletically, academically and socially. Due to the highly competitive culture that college athletics promotes, it is challenging for student-athletes to acknowledge mental illnesses. Athletes are often put

tive to start their chapter of the Hidden Opponent, a nonprofit group created by a former Division I athlete. The club aims to advocate for student-athlete mental health and improve sports culture. Senior Ana Keene and Sophomore Jordan Mahony are the campus captains of the Hidden Opponent at AU, participating in varsity track and field and soccer, respectively.

The AU athletics department and the counseling center have collaborated to cre-

Stanford University, his teams placed in the top 16 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) team GPA rankings. At American University, Borelli’s track record continued, with AU wrestlers taking 15th place in the 2022 NWCA rankings.

“I always try to uphold the idea that you can be excellent in a few different ways,” Borrelli said. “It’s important to be someone that [the student-athletes] can trust [and] feel safe around.”

Sophia Hemingway, a freshman on the varsity swim team, has been competing since she was 10 years old. She said there is a robust team environment among the swimmers, which is very different from her pre-college athletic experience.

According to Hemingway, the new head coach of the Swim and Dive team,

said.

ate a safe and comfortable space for students.

“We plan to hire someone who specializes in working with student athletes,” said Jeffrey Volkmann, the executive director of the Counseling Center.

Volkmann and the counseling center said that barriers hinder treatment for student-athletes. Barriers include the need for counseling resources on the road and the unpredictability of student-athlete schedules. To respond to these issues, Volkmann said he worked to establish a text-in support line and a crisis intervention line through which students can speak with a licensed clinician at any time.

“[AU is] working to increase the connection between the well-being center and the athletics department,” Volkman said.

According to Katie Benoit, the associate athletic director of student-athlete well-being, the coaches at AU are also eager to participate in training to best support their athletes.

In 2021, Jason Borrelli joined the AU athletics staff as the head coach of the Men’s Wrestling Team after 13 seasons as the head coach of the wrestling team at Stanford University. “My role is about relationships, [and] it’s about more than winning,” Borelli said.

During Borelli’s years at

“We all have really good relationships with our coaches and we feel comfortable talking to them about [mental health],” Hemingway said.

Student-athletes also give their opinions on mental health in the athletic world. For example, Phoebe Merr, a freshman on the varsity soccer team, said that mental health is not something you can really hide from.

“When you’re not having a good day, you have to lean on your teammates and tell them that you need them to help you out,” Merr said.

Both Hemingway and Merr said their teams have had open conversations about mental health facilitated by the coaches or the team captains.

“I think finding our community within our team is something that’s really helpful for everyone’s mental health because we all know we’re going through the same things and we can lean on each other, which is really nice,” Hemingway said.

Mia Kimm is a freshman studying journalism.

HEALTH 31
How does AU ensure the wellbeing of its athletes on and off the field?
“It is very overwhelming having to focus on the commitment to a team and [the] commitment to academics and to yourself,” De Guzman
Garland Bartlett, intends to introduce more modernized coaching methods, where strong relationships and mental health are just as meaningful as competing.

CAMPUS IN BLOOM

AU’S HIDDEN BEAUTY: A PHOTO ESSAY

Photos by Matheus Kogi Fugita Abrahão

Despite their small size, flowers are big subjects of study when it comes to photography. They present a variety of shapes, colors, textures and forms, but at the same time they are always overlooked for being common. This photo essay is an alternative way to see campus.

It is easy to stop and stare at the huge concrete buildings that cannot pass by unnoticed in the landscape, while a colorful flower smaller than the palm of a hand goes unappreciated.

Matheus Kogi Fugita Abrahão is a sophomore studying journalism

PAST THE PRINT

IN THIS SECTION: RIPPED FROM THE WALL: AU AFTER CARBON NEUTRALITY THE MULTIMEDIA TEAM: DRINKABLE DONATIONS

This semester the Ripped from the Wall team looked into American University’s environmental sustainability. We explored how the university markets itself, the sustainable policies it has, and talked to student groups about their thoughts on AU sustainability.

Not all of the money AU spends on sustainability goes toward making the campus more environmentally friendly. AU, and many other institutions, purchase carbon offsets. Institutions can buy carbon offsets to fund projects that reduce carbon emissions elsewhere. Offsets are part of why AU became the first carbon-neutral university in the U.S. in 2018.

“Offsets definitely play an important role in our carbon neutrality right now. But that said, we know they’re not a perfect solution,” American University Director of Sustainability Megan Litke said.

Climate-focused student groups on campus have mixed thoughts on AU’s sustainability policies.

Alyssa Basch is the co-president of Climate Reality AU, a group that is focused on climate change advocacy both on and off campus.

On campus, Climate Reality AU worked with AU administrators and AUx professors to create a climate module for AUx classes. Though the module is not a requirement, AUx professors can choose to use it in their classes.

“It’s still a very beautiful campus, it’s very committed to showcasing measures to prevent climate change,” Basch said. “Because even those small things can make a substantial difference, having the lights in the dorms that automatically go

AU AFTER CARBON NEUTRALITY

Ripped from the Wall explores AU’s sustainability policies and

climate-focused campus groups view them.

Produced by Helena Milburn, Caleb Ogilvie, Grace Manson, Zoe Kallenekos, Katherine Marisa Alvarez, Kate d’Arcy, Katherine Seri Chang and Matheus Kogi Fugita Abrahão.

off after 15 minutes is also a huge thing.”

Looking forward, Basch thinks the university has the potential to improve more.

“I do see the potential for a really promising future as long as the administration is actually able to listen and work with the students,” Basch said.

Students can grow edible produce at the American University community garden for any student to take and cook with. Students who work in the garden also throw events focused on education, food justice and personal reflection.

However, the garden’s future was suddenly uncertain when university administrators informed its members they would need to move the garden’s location to make room for a new sports complex. The complex is being built on the site of the current garden and outdoor basketball and tennis courts.

“I don’t think it’s, you know, too far to use the word grief,” said Kat Raino, the garden’s education director. “Because that is a space that you know, all of us really love and that we’ve really worked hard to create in a community that we really built up around it. And so to know that that physical space wouldn’t exist anymore was a real gut punch.”

The new sports complex, to be named the Alan and Amy Meltzer Center for Athmance (CAP), funded a total of

15 million dollars in donations from AU alum and Board of Trustees member Alan Meltzer and his wife Amy Meltzer, according to an American University memo.

There was confusion among community garden staff about when exactly construction on the CAP would begin.

“We were informed, in kind of an untimely manner, and also not in a proper manner, that the garden would be removed,” community garden Co-President Ashley Hocking said. “And so we kind of fought our way into meetings with admin about like, hey, like, what’s actually happening.”

“To be able to work here and grow food, which is such a giving experience, and I think, to have that threatened, kind of made AU appear like it just didn’t care about sustainability and the environmental opportunities that the school has to offer, which are limited because we’re a city school,” Hocking said.

Basch also feels the university can do more. “Carbon neutral is definitely not enough anymore,” Basch said.

Litke agrees that the university cannot stop here.

“We’ve achieved some really major milestones, but that’s what they are, they’re milestones, we still have a long way to go.” Litke said. “And that there’s always areas where we can improve, you know, we’ve achieved carbon neutrality, but that’s certainly not a finish line, there’s a lot more work to do.”

Look out for the new Ripped from the Wall episode on podcast platforms like Spotify for the entire story.

36
AWOL MAGAZINE
how

The Multimedia Team Presents:

DRINKABLE DONATIONS

The Davenport Coffee Lounge’s drinkof-the-month program, which allows student organizations to partner with the Dav to fundraise, has become a top seller for the coffee shop and student organizations.

Though the Dav opened its doors in 1980, the drink-of-the-month program didn’t begin until the coffee shop was relocated from the East Quad Building to the School of International Service in 2009, according to Julia Ford, the manager of the Dav.

“When it started out, it was just this sort of club where there would be a pot of change and a pot of coffee and you would donate change and grab a cup. It was self-serve,” Ford said.

Since then, the Dav has developed into a nonprofit coffee shop that features a program that fundraises for student organizations with new monthly drinks. Whether it’s a peppermint mocha, hazelnut dirty chai or cinnamon hazelnut latte, the organization hosting the fundraiser each month will earn $1 per every drink sold.

Even if a customer customizes a drink or orders an entirely different one, they can elect to donate the dollar to the fundraiser.

“So, I could order a matcha and tell them I still want to donate to the fundraiser,” said Qudsia Saeed, creative team member and former president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA).

MSA hosted the October drinkof-the-month in collaboration with Students for Justice in Palestine. The hazelnut dirty chai raised $521 for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, which supports children regardless of their faith.

According to Ford, student organiza tions can donate their money to a cause or save it for events or other expenses. AU’s subcommittee of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) decided to do this.

LULAC is planning to host a gala at the end of the year and opted to put the mon ey raised from the Latinx Her itage Month drink - the cin namon hazelnut latte - toward those fees and other expenses that might arise, said Samantha Rodriquez, the community director for LULAC.

Outside the gala, LULAC will use the money for “printing flyers and little things here and there that sometimes the officers have to take out of their own pockets to help out with, which has been a problem in the past,” Rodriquez said.

The funds from the November drinkof-the-month, the peppermint mocha sponsored by EagleTHON, will be donated to Children’s National Hospital.

“It’s a hospital that’s at capacity because of RSV, COVID and the flu and they don’t have enough money right now to even stock their coffee stations with K-cups. And these are nurses that are working 12 hour shifts on their feet every single day,” said Elisabeth Kelly, the external director of EagleTHON.

Not only is the Dav a space for community organizations to fundraise, it’s also a community space for the current 43 federal work-study students.

“I didn’t really find a spot on campus that I felt like I fit until I found the Dav. We’re all federal work-study students, which means that you were getting that aid based off of need,” said Ford, who was a student employee of the Dav until her graduation in 2021. “I think

that you have a really special community with a lot of common experiences.”

These students are constantly making drink-of-the-month beverages, especially as the program increases in popularity, said student worker Heather Roselle.

The December drink-of-themonth will support My Sister’s Place, a domestic violence shelter in D.C.

“It’s fun to do specials like that,” Ford said. “And to have them really mean something and have us be able to contribute to our community, I think it’s a really special feeling and it’s something I’m really grateful for.”

For the entire story, check out AWOL’s Youtube channel.

PAST THE PRINT 37
The Davenport Coffee Lounge’s drink of the month program partners with student organizations for coffee fundraisers
Produced by Jessica Bates, Matheus Kogi Fugita Abrahão, Katherine Seri Chang, Lauren Gersten, Kathryn Gilroy, Grace Higgins, Maegan Seaman and Arpitha Sistla
Watch the full video on AWOL’s YouTube channel: @awolau

PROFESSOR PROFILE: AARUSHI SAHEJPAL

FROM TAKING EXAMS TO GRADING THEM

At 22 years old, Aarushi Sahejpal is one of the youngest professor at American University. Sahejpal is teaching Quantitative Methods for Journalists this semester. He recently graduated from AU in the Spring of 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Data Science and International Studies and is pursuing a master’s degree in Data Science. He worked at The Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project and now serves in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

AWOL MAGAZINE
Photo courtesy of Jamey Simpson

became one of the AU’s first BS in Data Science. All I did was ask. But then, my junior year rolled around, and then we got sent home because of COVID.

A: My parents are engineers, and I vowed to never be like that. I hated math. And I hated numbers. And I was awful at it. I went to a math enrichment camp too, and like, failed out of it completely. I really loved the world. Like, I was fascinated that there was more out there. I’m a first generation American. My grandma doesn’t speak any English. My parents immigrated here. They got married when they were 22. I basically lived in Little India, like, in a community in San Jose, that was just Indian people. So for me, this concept of being American was just like this interdisciplinary multi world thing. I was fascinated that there was more out there. So I applied to the top 10 International Studies schools. Like literally, there was no qualifier. And then I got to AU and I was like, this makes sense.

Q: Can you describe your work at The Atlantic and how it began?

portant to have someone who is reactive to the industry. I am a journalist in real life, but I’m also a civic data scientist. I have experience that could be useful, but also, I know what it’s like to be a student and want to learn, and I thought I could teach a class well, so I threw my hat in the ring.

A: I stumbled into numbers. I’m not like a traditional data scientist or mathematician. I tell my students this all the time. I taught myself how to code before I learned it in the classroom. It started when I interned at a small publication during the second semester of my freshman year. While I was there, I created a spreadsheet about testing what colors our readers liked more in one newsletter, and my boss told me I created a dataset. It’s a really, really small thing, but it was super interesting. So then, pivot to my sophomore year, when I was an RA, I would work 27 hours a week at these overnight desk shifts in Anderson Hall. So I was like, “What should I do with my time?” And that’s why I taught myself how to code. I went to data camp, which was free at the time, for an entire year. I literally just taught myself how to code on a computer. Then, slowly I realized it was hard, but the reason it was hard was because I was learning something. So then, that second semester of my sophomore year, I went to AU and asked if there was an undergraduate program for Data Science. There was one in SPA, but it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. No one in the history of AU had double majored in Data Science and International Studies. So I

A: I was sent home for the pandemic. I was completely clueless. I had literally no idea what I was doing with my life. Then, on Twitter, I saw someone post that they were looking for volunteers for something, so I sent in my resume and said I knew how to do basic Excel. I told them I was a Data Science double major. Little did I know, these two people worked at The Atlantic magazine and were creating a spreadsheet to track COVID-19 across the states because the government wasn’t doing it. It was called the COVID Tracking Project. I was one of the first 15 workers. I clocked 16 hours that first day as a volunteer, and they brought me on the day after. I spent a year and a half working on that project. I took time off of school and worked on it full-time for almost two years of my life. I was the deputy lead for long-term care. I managed teams of hundreds of volunteers trying to track the spread of COVID-19 among communities. We were the backbone of The Times, of Johns Hopkins tracker, and multiple states and federal government agencies used our information to determine how to move forward in the pandemic. And I was like, this is pretty cool. I’m helping my country.

Q: How did you become a professor so young?

A: I get asked this question all the time, and I have literally no clue how to answer it. I’m a three-time intern in the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University. It’s a nonprofit newsroom that’s editorially independent of AU, but we’re on the first floor of the School of Communication. We have interns that come and learn how to be long-form investigative reporters. I love this place. My mentor, Professor Perri, is here. This place made me believe that I could be a journalist, and I’ve never taken a journalism class in my life. Then, there was this opening, and they thought I would be a good fit to teach quantitative methods. I was thinking about it, and I was like, I spent my entire life thinking there’s this rigid expectation of what academics look like. But in journalism, it could be really, really im-

Q: What are some of your goals for your future work?

A: I think that if having a linear career path is important to you, it’s important to you. For me, I can’t do one thing. I haven’t done one thing. Right now, I’m serving in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. I work for the Cabinet member, and I literally work in the highest office in the land. It’s actually freaking absurd sometimes because a kid like me could have never existed in those halls before. I swear to God, I literally walk in those halls, and there’s not a single soul that looks like me. But I know for a fact that my existence in and of itself, in that place, is profound. And that’s why I’m a professor. A kid like me was never meant to be unapologetically myself in front of a classroom. And I think the most gratifying feeling for me is that I am the professor I never had. I often feel I’m very, very obvious on this campus, but I’m unapologetic about my existence. That is the root of me as a human being. I’m not going to not talk about being trans in my class; that’s just who I am. I hope to just forever have a job where I’m true to myself, but I love teaching. I think I will probably teach for a while, but be myself in whatever that means. I’m also young, I’m 22. I don’t know yet.

Q: What’s some advice you have for students at AU going into your field?

A: Have faith in yourself. A lot of journalists these days have imposter syndrome. I think that if you don’t have imposter syndrome, you’re not approaching life right. I walk into my classroom every day, and I’m like, “Am I qualified for this?” But it doesn’t matter because the only person that you need to believe in is yourself.

Emma Pierce is a freshman studying CLEG.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

39
Q: Why did you choose to go to school at AU?
Q: How did you become interested in Data Science?
PROFESSOR PROFILE
GET INVOLVED: AWOLAU@GMAIL.COM
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