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AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE » WINTER 2011 » ISSUE 007

+ AFTER DADT + TROY DAVIS’ AU CONNECTION + PEACE ACTIVISM AFTER DADT + AU AS A CORPORATION

+ TROY DAVIS + AU, INC. WWW.AWOLAU.ORG » WINTER 2011

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AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE » WINTER 2011 » ISSUE 007

MISSION: AWOL is a progressive magazine run by American University students in Washington, DC. Founded in the spring of 2008 with support from Campus Progress, we are now a recognized publication of American University.

“All of them have united hundreds of thousands to be my voice, which has forced Georgia to look at my case and not rush to execute the innocent. It has shown the world how unjust the American justice system is for the poor and people of color.” - Troy Davis, p. 9

We exist to ignite campus discussion of social, cultural and political issues, and serve as an outpost for students to explore solutions to local and global problems. We hope to build bridges between American University and the world around it, ultimately making our campus more inquiring, egalitarian and socially engaged. AWOL is not affiliated with any political party or ideology. Our stories have an angle, which is different from having an agenda; our reporting is impartial and fair, but our analysis is critical and argumentative.

EDITORS: EDITORS-IN-CHIEF: Chris Lewis and Amberley Romo EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Alex Burchfield MANAGING EDITOR: Audrey Van Gilder DESIGN EDITOR: Hannah Karl STAFF EDITORS: John Bly, Lori McCue, Kelcie Pegher, Seth Shamon CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Gustav Cappaert, Robert Cavooris, Zac Deibel, Ashley Dejean, Shay Longtain, Ethan Miller

Illustration by Hannah Karl

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PHOTOGRAPHERS AND ILLUSTRATORS: Felicia Afaun, Samantha Baron, Louise Brask, Max Gibbons, Kurtis Gobencion, Margaret Hayford, Hannah Karl, Kyoko Takenaka, Ellie Yanagisawa

WRITERS Sarah Allen, Gustav Cappaert, Robert Cavooris, Ashley Dejean, Emily

SUPPORT // AFFILIATIONS

CAMPUS PROGRESS

Edwards, Alexandra Gordon, Peter Harrison, Raymond Hear, Nikki Jahanbani, Ashley Joyce, Mike Lally, Erin Lockwood, Shay Longtain, Emily

AWOL is published with support from Campus Progress /Center for Ameri-

Martin, Ethan Miller, Anna Naser, Richard Phillips, Nora Pullen, Cate

can Progress (online at CampusProgress.org) and the support of AU Student

Regan, Emily Reid, Delaney Rohan, Matt Shlonsky, Priyanka Srinivasa

Activities. Campus Progress funds, trains, and mentors students running

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a diverse and growing group of progressive campus media organizations.

Want to join AWOL? Write to us: awolau@gmail.com

Grants and assistance can help you build and maintain a web site, expand print runs, and promote your organization on campus. For more, visit CampusProgress.org/publications.


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SHOUTS FROM THE CORNER

FIELD REPORTS

JABS AND JEST

03 AU INC: AU’S “NON-PROFIT” STATUS

05 THE BOYS CLUB: OUR MALE-DOMINATED STUDENT GOVERNMENT AND WHY IT MATTERS

15 AWOL NEWSWIRE

by Ethan Miller Making Eaglebuck

04 SHUT UP AND HATE: HOW YOU CAN GET SUBPOENAED FOR OPPOSING WAR by Mike Lally If you love terrorists so much, why don’t you marry them?

by Ashley Dejean Being in the AU Student Government: it takes balls

07 PEACE ACTIVISM AND GAY RIGHTS AFTER “DON’T ASK DON’T TELL” by Richard Phillips Gay soldiers’ gain. Anti-war students’ pain?

09 TROY DAVIS: A LESSON IN JUSTICE by Emily Martin AU profs stick up for embattled death row inmate

11 PROFESSOR PROFILE: SABHIYA PRINCE by Chris Lewis Anthro professor riffs on race, gentrification, and Tenleytown history

14 A HIGHER (EDUCATIONAL) CALLING by Zac Deibel College! Friends, homework, parties! Church?

by AWOL staff Editors’ choice news cuts

16 AN IMMIGRANT’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS by Alexandra Gordon Two parts hard work, one part luck, one part empanada

17 AWOL BULLETIN BOARD What AU clubs are up to

18 CONCERNED ABOUT GRADUATING INTO A GOD-FORSAKEN JOB MARKET? DON’T BE! by Gustav Cappaert Tracking the four AU alums who have jobs


SHOUTS FROM THE CORNER

Informed opinion and provocative editorial

The economic inequality within the university community is striking. While executives take home paychecks that push seven figures, AU students graduate with an average debt of over $36,000, according to collegeboard.org. Some AU employees are also low on the economic totem pole. Shuttle bus drivers are currently the only group directly employed by the university — excluding faculty — that is unionized. During a unionization drive in 2007, the university used big business-type intimidation tactics to prevent the unionization of their employees. According to a 2007 article that appeared in The Eagle, fliers appeared in the drivers’ break room, warning that drivers’ benefits would decrease if they voted for a union. Even after the union was established — following an election that was manipulated by the university — AU continued its efforts to break it up, spending thousands of dollars to appeal the National Labor Relations Board’s decision to certify the drivers’ union. In recent years, AU has also taken up a mission that appears to go beyond education: real estate investment. A December article in The Washington Post detailed AU’s involvement with property management, something the article states is very common among universities. David Taylor, President Kerwin’s chief of staff, was quoted in the article as saying that AU “[manages] lots of properties now.” In fiscal year 2010, the university increased its property holdings by about $25 million, bringing it to a total of over $467 million. AU’s style of property management has left some local entrepreneurs bitter. Businesses such as Balducci’s and Morty’s Delicatessen have already abandoned their university-owned locations. Michael Cadeaux, owner of Cadeaux Hair Salon, formerly leased from the university until he moved his business to Maryland. In the Post article Cadeaux said, “It’s a big corporation there. The university just is very greedy.”

AU, INC:

AU’S “NONPROFIT” STATUS By Ethan Miller // Illustration by Margaret Hayford

AU President Cornelius Kerwin has a salary that most non-profit leaders can only dream of. In a sector where many employees are pinching pennies to get by, Kerwin takes home $760,774 a year in salary and other benefits. Other AU executives bring home big bucks as well; Donald Meyers, vice president for finance and AU’s treasurer, makes $608,295 a year. Considering that AU students spend more than $50,000 per year on their education, Kerwin’s salary could cover the expenses of more than 15 students. Doesn’t this seem odd? As a not-for-profit educational institution, AU is exempt from paying taxes, according to section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code. But the way AU manages its money, employees and assets makes its non-profit status almost meaningless. Our university resembles a for-profit corporation more than it does a nonprofit organization.

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AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE MAGAZINE

Why does the university exhibit such corporate behavior? One possible explanation requires no more than a quick review of the membership of the Board of Trustees, which includes current and former executives of Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Chase and FedEx. Additional insight into AU’s money-grubbing can be found by examining other universities. Corporations such as Nike and Reebok have huge presences on campuses across the country and subcontractors such as Sodexho and Aramark are allowed to follow their own union-unfriendly policies while providing janitorial and food services. Universities and corporations are entering into relationships that make them indistinguishable. Wages remain low while universities maximize their financial gain. National trends also show tuition rising as executive salaries increase. AU is violating the spirit of its 501(c)(3) status. Though we don’t have shareholders or stocks to sell, the university is a money-maximizer just like any corporation. If the AU administration wants to restore its “commitment to social justice” and take the lead in rehabilitating the true non-profit status of universities, it must get back to basics: take union-neutral positions in organizing drives; hold subcontractors accountable for their own actions; and return its revenues to its students and employees, not to administrators’ paychecks. s

Ethan Miller is a freshman studying economics.


SHUT UP AND HATE:

HOW OPPOSING WAR CAN GET YOU SUBPOENAED By Mike Lally

On June 21, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project that non-violent assistance to terrorist organizations is illegal. This is a landmark ruling that has the potential to drastically change the nature of human rights activism in the US. Citing the law that criminalizes material aid to terrorists, the Supreme Court thus prohibited the provision of medical aid, human rights monitoring and conflict resolution assistance to groups considered to be terrorist. It may sound innocuous, but the Court’s decision could have grave implications. On Sept. 24, and in the months since, the law has been invoked against activists in the US. A total of twenty-three activists from Minnesota and Chicago have been subpoenaed and had their homes raided by the FBI for alleged links to foreign terrorist organizations. Several of the activists were engaged in work related to Colombia, Palestine and labor solidarity. Some were members of a group called the AntiWar Committee. As part of the subpoenas, they were ordered to appear before grand juries to testify about any knowledge they had about the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, both designated as foreign terrorist organizations by the State Department. So far, all have invoked their Fifth Amendment rights, and refused to testify. The fiasco has cast light on what has become an increasingly dangerous environment for voices of dissent in the US. A recent report by the Justice Department described some of the more disturbing realities dissenting advocates face. “The FBI extended the duration of investigations involving advocacy groups or their members without sufficient basis,” according to the Justice Department, and their “names were maintained on watchlists as a result and [their] movements and interactions with law enforcement were tracked.” Perhaps more alarmingly: “in some cases, the FBI classified some investigations relating to nonviolent civil disobedience under its ‘Acts of Terrorism’ classification.” Indeed, on Jan. 13, 2011, Democracy Now! revealed that an FBI informant had infiltrated the Anti-War Committee. The agent, “Karen Sullivan,” didn’t just inform, but even helped organize the group. Grand juries of the type invoked against the Minneapolis and Chicago activists have historically been used against the activist community. “The Nixon Justice Department began using grand juries as a very specific kind of tool: to go after activists,” said Phyllis Bennis, a veteran peace activist. “They would empower a grand jury, and begin investigating very broadly—fishing expeditions,” she said, “and they would subpoena the people they wanted to get rid of, who were problems, who were organizing protests, et cetera.”

Our government says that the terrorists we’re fighting only understand violence. To keep this narrative intact, it’s in their interest to disrupt and silence activists who suggest otherwise. terrorism — as the Supreme Court seems to believe — then a whole host of other problems arises. In These Times reporter Jeremy Gantz recently noted that the African National Congress was listed as a terrorist organization until 2008. He wondered whether that makes terrorists out of former anti-apartheid activists and the Nobel Committee that awarded Mandela the peace prize. Gantz also cites op-eds from Hamas spokespersons that were published in papers like the New York Times and Washington Post. Are these flagship American newspapers guilty of terrorism as well? Our government says that the terrorists we’re fighting only understand violence. To keep this narrative intact, it’s in their interest to disrupt and silence activists who suggest otherwise. It’s worth noting that US Attorney General Eric Holder argued in favor of the Supreme Court ruling, and has been a party to the continuing subpoenas. That suggests this is more than just a court decision, but a tactic actively pursued by the Obama administration. In the Nixon era, those who refused to testify were granted immunity, thus undermining their Fifth Amendment protections and allowing them to be jailed for up to a year for refusing to testify — effectively neutralizing them. Perhaps the goal of today’s campaign is also to silence activists. “It’s about this kind of chilling impact, which is clearly at least part of the strategy,” Bennis said. These groups have already been infiltrated and informed on, which suggests the goal of the subpoenas is intimidation, not information-gathering. The Supreme Court ruling represents an escalation of our nation’s war against terrorism. Not only are we waging war against enemy countries; by harassing peace activists, we are waging war on people who simply want to end war. It’s not just Muslim-Americans who have to face intimidation, detention and surveillance anymore. So where will it stop? It’s in the hands of those willing to speak out. “If they don’t have to pay a political price for this, they’ll keep doing it,” Bennis said. “I think we have to keep doing our work, and not allow ourselves to be intimidated by this kind of attack.” s

Mike Lally is a senior studying international relations.

If any contact with terrorist organizations is considered to be aiding

WWW.AWOLAU.ORG » WINTER 2011

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FIELD REPORTS

In-depth examination of the issues that matter

THE BOYS CLUB:

OUR MALE-DOMINATED STUDENT GOVERNMENT AND WHY IT MATTERS By Ashley Dejean // Photos by Amberley Romo

Also, the Women & Politics Institute has been working toward increasing the representation of women at AU though a program called Campaign College. This program aims to train female students and give them the tools to run for Student Government (males can participate too), and was launched in 2007 to address low female participation. While female representation increased substantially after the launch of the program, this trend hasn’t been sustained.

The beauty of the US political system is that our elected representatives are supposed to, well, represent us. It’s a point of pride for American democracy. When it comes to the representation of women, though, the reality isn’t as pretty as the rhetoric: only 17 of 100 US Senators are women.

Though the Student Government is often belittled for its cliquish nature and presumed irrelevance to campus life, the student Senate has real power, allocating over $600,000 every year to the executive branch. And without a substantial female bloc in the senate, a male majority could run roughshod over women’s interests.

Perhaps by the time our generation reaches political maturity, this gender gap will have closed. But a glance around a classroom in Ward on Sunday afternoon—during the weekly meeting of the AU Undergraduate Senate—might suggest otherwise. Even though the student body is over 60 percent female, only about a third of senate seats are filled by women.

Last year, the Budget Committee of the Undergraduate Senate voted unanimously to cut the Women’s Initiative’s budget from $23,000 to $17,000. The debate that ensued when the budget came up for vote was contentious and lasted several hours. In the end, Women’s Initiative’s funds were cut by only $1,000. This is all despite the fact that the group had actually grown and was putting on more—and better attended— programming than the previous year.

“For a school that’s two-to-one women to men, we should have, proportionally, 20 women in the Senate out of a 30 person body, and right now, with my inclusion, we have eight,” senior Kathryn Baxter said. Before her nomination as an undergraduate senator last November, there were only five. For many students, AU is part of a direct pipeline into the halls of the national government, and for them, the Student Government campaign trail is a trial run for the real thing. But for a school that is producing the potential leaders of tomorrow, our leadership is not very diverse. While this isn’t a problem unique to AU, the boys’ club that exists on the second floor of MGC provides valuable insight into the system that reproduces the boys’ club downtown. *** “The under-representation of women at the student government level is not particularly surprising because at all levels of political leadership there’s a substantial gender gap,” said Jennifer Lawless, Director of the Women & Politics Institute. “In the United States Congress, 84 percent of

The dearth of female leaders in the Student Government may have an impact greater than the outcome of a vote or anything that happens at the university level. “Based on the research I’ve done with people who are lawyers, business leaders, educators and political activists -- which are the careers that lead to political careers in adulthood or post college -- if you run for student government you’re about 10 percentage points more likely to consider running for office later in life,” Lawless said. “We are at a point right now that if we can’t up the number of women who run for student government, it’s very difficult to close that gender gap in political ambition 20 or 30 years from now.” *** At the executive level, the gap is far from closed. For the past three

the members are men and 44 of the 50 state governors are men. Ninetythree of the mayors in the 100 largest cities are men.”

years, the Student Government President has been a straight, white male teaching assistant from the School of Public Affairs Leadership Program. Another student fitting this description intends to run in the upcoming presidential election.

Women who run for elected office are just as likely as men to win, but men run significantly more often. “I think men are often socialized to think that they’re competent and women are socialized to question their competency,” said Quinn Pregliasco, director of AU Women’s Initiative.

“It’s absolutely a mentorship thing,” said President Nate Bronstein, a junior. “In all honesty, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that each president has mentored the one prior, and that person ended up filling their position. That being said, these mentors also mentor more than one person.”

Research done by Lawless suggests the same thing. “Women and men with the same qualifications don’t assess themselves the same way,” Lawless said. “More than 60 percent of men thought they were qualified for office; fewer than 40 percent of women with the exact same résumés self-assessed that way. Women who don’t think they’re qualified don’t think about running for office. Men who don’t think they’re qualified still give it serious thought.”

Quinn Pregliasco thinks that the mentorship system can lead to a demographic imbalance in leadership. “So the president or director of the club kind of mentors someone and they get most exposed, and they are the next natural one. I think oftentimes people mentor people they see themselves in,” she said. “So if you’re a white male you’re going to mentor a white male, if you’re a Latino female you’re probably going to want to mentor another Latino female just because you see yourself in them.”

*** Some in the AU community are trying to close this gap in representation, at least on campus. Baxter has started a women’s caucus in the Stu-

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dent Government which aims to get more women involved in the senate, increase the participation of current female senators and encourage qualified women to run for seats in upcoming elections.

AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE MAGAZINE

While Bronstein himself may be a white male teaching assistant from the SPA Leadership Program, he boasts of a cabinet that’s more representative of the student body. “More than half of my cabinet is women,”


Bronstein said, though he acknowledges there is a gender gap in terms of elected positions. He’s not the first to note that there just aren’t many female candidates. “I love the initiative Kathryn [Baxter] is putting forth because we need more female candidates,” Bronstein said. “Typically when they run they do pretty well. This year, we’re fortunate enough to have Maia [Tagami], our VP.” *** While women may be the most strikingly under-represented group on campus, they’re not alone. Around 25 percent of Bronstein’s cabinet and 20 percent of the Senate is made up of racial minorities. On the other hand, racial minorities comprise about 40 percent of first year AU students, the only group for which concrete numbers are available. “The way that politics works, it makes it very difficult for any traditionally marginalized group to enter and then make substantial gains,” Lawless said, “because we know again, whether we’re talking about the US Congress or the Student Government, that being part of that network is what gets you the position.” No one is intentionally excluding these groups from the process, but sophomore senator Tim McBride acknowledges he may be unintentionally sending the wrong message alongside other senators. “Taylor, Brett, Eric [Senate members from the class of 2013] and I are hanging out, and if we’re doing a lot in the body, it’s four white males that are doing it and it looks like a good old boys’ club,” McBride said. “I don’t intend that and none of them intend that, [but] you also have to be cognizant that it can unintentionally send off a signal that people who aren’t like us aren’t welcome, and that’s not good.” “You have to be twice as good, twice as knowledgeable, to look as knowledgeable and competent as, say, maybe a white male,” said Dr. Sta-

cie Tate, a professor in the School of Education, Teaching and Health whose research focuses on urban education. *** The shortage of female leaders is not a problem exclusive to Student Government. The executive boards of both College Republicans and College Democrats are comprised entirely of males this semester (though both have at least one vacancy to fill). Within campus media, just short of half of the eight media organizations have female leaders. A number of advocacy groups, however, are headed by women, like Eco-Sense, Colleges Against Cancer and the AU STAND Coalition. McBride believes that the leadership on campus should represent the makeup of the student body and that leaders as well as individuals should step up to help make that happen. “I think too often people think that accepting that it’s our responsibility to change it is the same thing as accepting blame, and I don’t think that’s right,” he said. Of course, AU can’t be faulted for existing in a world dominated by white men. But it would be better if we were the pioneers: changing the system, rather than perpetuating it. The women’s caucus and Campaign College are a good start, but programs like this need to expand to have a lasting impact. “On college campuses we have a unique opportunity because we make the rules,” Lawless said. “We don’t have to necessarily embrace the way the status quo looks and we don’t need to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to change that.” s

Ashley Dejean is a sophomore studying international relations.

WWW.AWOLAU.ORG » WINTER 2011

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FIELD REPORTS

In-depth examination of the issues that matter

PEACE AND GAY RIGHTS ACTIVISM AFTER

DON’T ASK DON’T TELL By Richard Phillips // Illustrations by Max Gibbons

There are countless reasons that peace activists oppose the US military. From the military’s ever-growing budget to the deaths of civilians during war, the peace activist community has made clear its concerns over the damage brought by war. But for years, resistance to the military on college campuses has coalesced around one flagrant issue: the military’s Dont Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, which blatantly violated most university antidiscrimination rules. The military’s discriminatory policy towards homosexuals was thus reason to severely restrict or even ban the military from college campuses. The repeal of DADT may represent a major and hard won achievement for the gay rights movement, but it may also be something of a death knell for the counter-recruitment movement on college campuses. During his 2011 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama even called on colleges to “open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC” in light of the repeal, calling it “time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past.” In a post-DADT world, the military might finally take root at AU. What does that mean for anti-war activism on campus? ***

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AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE MAGAZINE

AU students have been protesting military discrimination for decades. Starting in the early 1990s, students rallied on campus against the Reserve Officers Training Corps and military recruitment, with discrimination as their primary argument against having recruiters on campus. (A cringe-worthy headline from The Eagle in 1991 covering these events read simply “Homosexuals protest ROTC presence,” ignoring that most of the protesters were not homosexual and that they were not just protesting the ROTC presence.) These efforts actually succeeded, with both AU and the Washington College of Law instituting various bans on military recruitment and ROTC programs. But this principled stand was short-lived. Restrictions on the military began to crumble with the passage of the Solomon Amendment in 1996, which allowed the federal government to pull federal funding and grants to any organization refusing access to military recruiters or the ROTC. Even before the passage of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act last December, the campus was beginning to give way to expanding military presence. The AU administration had — as early as November — signaled its willingness to allow for military science classes to be taught and to allow the ROTC program to use athletic facilities.


The changes by the administration came in tandem with the recommendation made by the Student Government Ad-Hoc Committee for the Review of University Military Policy. Led by its Chairman Brett Atanasio, the committee advocated expanding and improving access for the ROTC program. Some 20 years after students began protesting against discrimination and over 17 years since DADT’s original enactment, a recent headline in The Eagle proclaimed: “After ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal, opposition to SG ROTC bill erodes,” noting that with the repeal of DADT, the opposition based on discrimination had evaporated. “With the repeal of DADT I think you will see AU develop a much warmer and closer relationship to the military over the next few years,” Atanasio said. “I think you’ll see much less resistance from students who were concerned about discrimination.” *** DADT’s departure is undoubtedly a milestone. “It is a major step forward in the fight for full civil equality for LGBT people,” said Tonei Glavinic, executive director of AU’s Queers and Allies. There are some remaining hurdles, though. “Military culture is pretty homophobic and that isn’t going to change overnight,” Glavinic said. Transgender people are also still prohibited from serving and the military doesn’t recognize all the rights of married same-sex couples. The AU military community also seems to welcome the repeal. “Considering DADT in light of my military career I think it is a smart policy change,” said Matthew Halbe, president of Veterans of American University. He believes the bill “will protect openly gay soldiers from personal vendettas of their commanders.”

identity,” he claimed. “Few can compare to the dedication and the sacrifice of those who chose to fulfill this ideal by joining the armed forces.” One AU alum currently serving in the military considers the efforts of anti-war activists misdirected. “Many, if not all of those politicians were helped into office by those very AU students who vilify the military,” he said. “If AU students really cared about the wars we were fighting, then how about working to get someone elected who will send the troops home?” *** Regardless of how students feel, the military’s access to AU and its presence on campus are likely to expand with the repeal of DADT. But that doesn’t necessarily have to deter peace activists. “Just because DADT has been repealed doesn’t mean that we can’t resist an increased military presence,” said Caitlin Rosser, co-director of the Student Peace Alliance. “It just means we must change our dialogue and our tactics.” Any discussion of the US military is likely to be thorny. But if ROTC comes to campus, Rosser hopes it will engender “desperately needed dialogue” over the role of the US military in American culture. Halbe agrees. “We project an image of a non-militarized society, when actually we are armed to the teeth,” he said. “If we push ROTC off campus, we are putting up blinders.” s

Richard Phillips is a graduate student studying public policy.

Although the resistance from LGBT rights advocates may no longer be central, for many AU activists, discrimination was beside the point. “The military is an extremely immoral institution; DADT was just a drop in the bucket,” said Michael Dranove, a member of the AU Community Action and Social Justice Collective. “We all know that the real crimes that the US military commits are done in foreign countries.” Dranove says that if international law were properly enforced, many US leaders over the past 50 years would have faced war crimes charges. In response to an e-mail query, foundational antiwar advocate Noam Chomsky echoed Dranove’s opposition. He called the focus on DADT an “evasion” of the real issue, which is ensuring that universities are “free and independent” and not “subservient to state or private power.” Atanasio, on the other hand, objects to those who criticize the military. “The call to service is a defining characteristic of the AU

WWW.AWOLAU.ORG » WINTER 2011

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FIELD REPORTS

In-depth examination of the issues that matter

TROY DAVIS: A LESSON IN JUSTICE

AU PROFESSORS STICK UP FOR EMBATTLED DEATH ROW INMATE By Emily Martin // Illustration by Margaret Hayford

During the fall 2008 semester, professor Richard Stack offered an extra credit assignment to his Understanding Media class: write a letter to their hometown newspapers urging support for Troy Davis, an inmate at Georgia Diagnostic Prison. He instructed his students that the deadline — “no pun intended” — would be the date of Davis’ scheduled execution. Davis has been on Georgia’s death row for two decades — he’s been convicted for a murder he claims he did not commit. Supporters who argue he deserves a new trial include Amnesty International, the NAACP, Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, among many others. Stack is one of two AU faculty members who have taken a special interest in his story. The Troy Davis case has long been contentious. There’s no physical evidence connecting him to the 1989 killing of off-duty police officer Mark McPhail; seven of the nine eyewitnesses who originally identified him in court have now recanted their statements, many claiming that their original statements came under police coercion. Nine people involved in the case signed a letter suggesting another suspect as the actual murderer. Davis has been granted a rare second habeas corpus hearing by the US Supreme Court. Still, the highly-anticipated evidentiary hearing of June 2010 was yet another defeat for Davis, sending him back to death row. Professor Stack first caught word of Davis’ ordeal during the summer of 2007 when he received a call from the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP). Martina Correia, Davis’ sister and dedicated advocate, had come across Stack’s research on death row exonerations and wanted him to speak at an event to raise awareness for her brother. Stack quickly became involved. He has since acted as a consultant for Correia, using his legal background and communication expertise to help raise awareness for Davis’ case. Another School of Communication professor soon joined the fray. Professor Gemma Puglisi became interested in Davis after reading a news article the night before one of his scheduled executions three years ago, around the same time Stack was growing acquainted with the case. “Literally, I couldn’t sleep the whole night, thinking about this poor man,” Puglisi said. “And then the next day I ran to get my paper, and it said he had gotten a stay. And that’s when the wheels started turning.” Both have leveraged their positions as professors to mobilize support for Davis. “The theme of my teaching philosophy is communication for social change,” Stack said. “So I use this as an example of how students can roll up their sleeves and get involved. I know students have different takes on all sorts of social issues. Maybe they agree

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AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE MAGAZINE

with me on abolishing the death penalty, maybe they don’t, but I give them the opportunity [to get involved].” Puglisi has kept in close contact with Davis and considers him a friend. One semester, she dedicated the curriculum of her graduate Public Relations Writing class to his case. Her students wrote op-eds, letters and press releases that helped draw national attention to Davis. In a similar effort last fall, Puglisi’s undergraduate Public Relations Portfolio students adopted New Hope House as their semester-long client. Located ten minutes from Georgia Diagnostic Prison, the organization provides families of death row inmates a free place to stay while awaiting the execution of their loved ones. The class created campaigns to rebrand the non-profit’s image and help it receive grants. *** Davis has gained so much attention not only for his proclaimed innocence. He has gained a reputation as a man who has touched many lives. Stack noted that Martina Correia seemed to never lose spirit, despite her brother’s many legal defeats. When he once asked her by email how she was able to maintain her positive outlook, Correia replied, “If you ever met my brother, then you’d know the answer.” Davis has an influence that extends far beyond the bars of his prison cell. One of Puglisi’s graduate students wrote to Davis for advice about contacting his father, who was on California’s death row for gang-related crimes. Other people around the world send letters to

“I’ve given kids examples of my life and how they need to be more independent thinkers while staying away from bad situations. They need to realize it only takes a few seconds to get into trouble and a lifetime to get out. They need to think about their actions before they act, because prison life is like a jungle. Even the strong become prey or victim.”


Davis, asking for his guidance and thanking him for being an inspiration. “I’ve mentored a few pen pals by giving them ways to identify when their kids are pulling more toward their friends’ ways of thinking, away from how they were raised,” Davis wrote in a letter to AWOL. “I’ve also given kids examples of my life and how they need to be more independent thinkers while staying away from bad situations. They need to realize it only takes a few seconds to get into trouble and a lifetime to get out. They need to think about their actions before they act, because prison life is like a jungle. Even the strong become prey or victim.”

“When we started as a university it was our mission that we help the community. And that’s what changes laws. It’s people who are passionate about changing wrongs to rights, and making the world a better place for everyone.” s

Emily Martin is a junior studying public communication and Spanish.

Having met Davis, Stack has an acute sense of exactly what’s at stake. “I don’t know what he was like 20 years ago,” Stack said. “I have a glimpse of what he’s like now. If he was some sort of ‘bad boy’ as a teenager, he’s certainly been rehabilitated, and if that’s part of what our penitentiary system’s all about, I think he’s a success story.” Davis’ lawyers are now working on additional appeals. The state of Georgia has not yet set a new execution date. Davis expressed gratitude for his sister and for supporters like professors Puglisi and Stack. “All of them have united hundreds of thousands to be my voice, which has forced Georgia to look at my case and not rush to execute the innocent,” he wrote. “It has shown the world how unjust the American justice system is for the poor and people of color. Because of my faith in God and all these supporters, I’m still alive today fighting to prove my innocence.” Stack maintains that the death penalty is rash, regardless of whether Davis is innocent or guilty. “At a minimum, if the state of Georgia still thinks he deserves punishment because they’re not convinced he’s innocent, then he stays in prison and he continues contributing to society behind prison bars,” he said. “But he can’t make a contribution if his life is snuffed out.” Students can learn more about Troy Davis and how to get involved by visiting the websites of Amnesty USA and the NCADP. The NAACP also has a campaign, “I Am Troy,” with updates, a petition and appeals for action. In the meantime, Davis’ life remains in precarious balance. The efforts of advocates ranging from Amnesty and NCADP to Stack and Puglisi’s students may well determine his fate. “Our school is known for kids who really care,” Puglisi said.

WWW.AWOLAU.ORG » WINTER 2011

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FIELD REPORTS

In-depth examination of the issues that matter

PROFESSOR PROFILE

SABHIYA PRINCE By Chris Lewis // Photo by Amberley Romo Open a newspaper or turn on the TV today, and the topic of racism is as prominent as it has ever been, despite the fact that open expressions of hatred have become relatively uncommon. Professor Sabiyha Prince works to make meaning of this paradox: In her classes, she teaches about how power relations and historical legacies shape the contours of racism today. And in her research, she explores how DC’s African-American population approaches the demographic shift that is pushing black residents out of the city. AWOL’s Chris Lewis spoke with Prince about her career, gentrification, DC history and what it all means for AU students.

A lot of your work focuses on gentrification, particularly in DC. Could you give a run-through of the storyline, for people who aren’t familiar? There’s a history in this city of fluctuating demographics: AfricanAmericans were a majority in the 1970s, when they reached highest numbers and then the population began to decline. That has been attributed to the desire of those who could to purchase homes in the suburbs but today people are leaving under less favorable circumstances. What we see now is that the cost of housing has gone up and unemployment has gone up. There has been this increase in inequality at the same time that we are seeing these demographic shifts and this alleged revitalization, and so I thought these were issues to start researching and talking to people about.

What are the findings that have surprised you during your research? Some of the more surprising things are the history of DC because I’m a native born person, I’m from here but didn’t learn much about the history growing up. What’s surprising is the history of the DC communities when they were first developed. Researching this, I found out about parts of the city I had never heard of. There’s black Reno City that was located near Tenleytown and I didn’t know about any of that, because the information is not readily available. I also learned a little bit about my own family history for my manuscript, my research and my book I’m writing. I interviewed my mother and I found out about my grandfather lived in Georgetown after he migrated here from South Carolina where he worked as a sharecropper. He was 17 and eventually returned to the south to marry my grandmother and bring her up to DC to raise their family.

Do you know what happened to Reno City? Is it like what is happening now in other parts of the city? This area was demolished. The community went back to the 19th century but the way I understand it is that as Tenleytown became more affluent and populous, the white community put pressure on leaders to have black Reno City destroyed. I read one account that described it as a flourishing community with churches and voluntary

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AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE MAGAZINE

associations. I think it reached its zenith between the 1930s and the 1950s. This outcome is similar to the cases of the black communities of Georgetown and Foggy Bottom, and that’s what happens sometimes with gentrification and dislocation of African-Americans — it’s through the auspices of development and improvement. Like in Georgetown, there were key periods of legislation during the 1930s and 50s which determined the need to get rid of these areas, alleys or properties that were condemned.

Sort of like slum removal? Yes, and lower-income people don’t have the resources or access to services to pump money into improving their properties — and we are frequently talking about people who are working multiple low-wage jobs. Another important thing to remember is that politicians are not always honest about the processes. They may have one intention but frame it in another way because the alternative is more acceptable and palatable. So a desire could be, ‘We want these people to be gone. But we’ll do it using the argument that we want to make things better, we want to improve things and we want to improve their lives as well.’

Are there any recent cases that strike you as similar? Hope 6 was a federal housing program designed to improve public housing conditions by demolishing the public housing and replacing it with other forms of housing to bring in people from various socio-


economic backgrounds. One explanation for this would be to avoid a concentration of poverty. That’s framing things in a way that says we are concerned, but the answer — rather than actually addressing poverty — is to remove or destroy the housing, replace it with something that’s much better and much nicer. Then residents are told they would be able to come back into these communities, too. And so you will be able to benefit from the great changes that will happen—all this improvement, all this urban redevelopment.

Do the previous residents usually end up coming back after redevelopment? The answer really depends on whether or not your children have broken the law. If there’s some sort of violation then families are not going to be allowed to come back. It can also rest upon the results of credit checks and it also depends on how much patience and wherewithal you have to go through a process that is so strenuous in terms of dealing with paperwork and constant meetings. This may not work for people who have jobs that don’t afford them the freedom to deal with all this bureaucracy. These are the kinds of things I’m interested in documenting and getting at — people’s feelings and experiences — things a survey wouldn’t necessarily capture. Through in-depth interaction with people you realize that this public housing is a community and people have an affinity for it — and they had an affinity for each other. Of course everybody in this environment, most people, are not involved in crime or involved in drugs. It takes a minority of people to do that and to destroy the safety and the integrity or reputation of the place. There’s a devaluation of poor people’s history and attachment to place.

Do you think AU students have a responsibility to know about this type of displacement that is happening in the city? I think it’s valuable for all college students to know the history of the place where they are being educated. Students have a lot to juggle, and they are coming to a place that’s new and they’re not familiar with, so you would hope they have the curiosity to leave their campuses and go out and observe. But I think there needs to be something structural in place to facilitate their understanding of the place they’re in. Universities should have curricula that educate students about local history. It’s more important for us to help to create those opportunities, to challenge assumptions that students have, and really try to push their thinking forward, instead of clinging to antiquated ways or ideas that may be rooted in prejudice or stereotypes. So it’s a collective process; the onus isn’t totally on the student.

Is there any advice you would give to the student who is thinking about getting involved? Informally, you can read the paper and find out what activities are occurring and what events are going on. You can go to the bookstore or the library and be aggressive about reading whatever history is available. You can get involved in a structured fashion through service learning. And you can do internships that target national organizations or grassroots organizations. There are a lot of things people can do to mitigate the separation between this campus environment and the broader local environment.

Lastly, what do you hope to see for the future of the city? And what do you have in mind for your future studies?

PERCENTAGE OF POPULATION

SHIFTING DEMOGRAPHICS IN DC 60

50

BLACK

40

WHITE

30

20

HISPANIC

10 1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2014

(PROJECTED)

YEAR WWW.AWOLAU.ORG » WINTER 2011

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FIELD REPORTS

In-depth examination of the issues that matter

WASHINGTON DC HOME PRICES, 1995–2009 Compiled by Chris Lewis // Graphic by Hannah Karl

WARD 4

1995 $257,613 2000 $244,188 2004 $431,573 2009 $435,000

WARD 3

WARD 1

1995 $225,236 2000 $244,188 2004 $483,815 2009 $500,000

1995 $625,029 2000 $706,402 2004 $999,431 2009 $870,000

WARD 5

1995 $194,266 2000 $193,108 2004 $341,851 2009 $312,000

CITYWIDE

1995 $309,699 2000 $305,193 2004 $519,022 2009 $501,000

WARD 2

1995 $613,737 2000 $691,452 2004 $957,410 2009 $930,000

WARD 6 Note: All figures are adjusted for inflation. Prices in $2009 dollars. Source: www.neighborhoodinfodc.org

1995 $222,420 2000 $260,385 2004 $534,923 2009 $506,000

If I had my druthers, if I had power — which would be fabulous — then I would like to see the emergence of leadership that cares about everyone, leadership that doesn’t privilege people who have more access to wealth over others. There’s class inequality in this city, so to have somebody really care about that and grapple with the issues that are perpetuating that — that’s something I’d like to see. I think that poor people do have the power on some level to come together and negotiate for a better life, whether it is through social movements, unions or collective action. There’s power there, and people are utilizing it. I think in the country as a whole we’re seeing

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AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE MAGAZINE

WARD 7

1995 $168,927 2000 $147,011 2004 $206,700 2009 $240,000

WARD 8

1995 $166,111 2000 $149,503 2004 $197,615 2009 $215,000

a wider gap between people who have and people who don’t. I think that’s the trajectory we’re on and I’m not hopeful that will change because I don’t see a lot of people in mainstream politics or mainstream media advocating for the vulnerable populations. And in terms of my research, I feel very grateful. I feel like it’s a privilege to have access to people and share their stories with others. I just want to continue to have that opportunity, to juggle my myriad responsibilities and to be a full, well-rounded individual as well. s

Chris Lewis is a senior studying economics.


A HIGHER (EDUCATIONAL) CALLING by Zac Deibel // Photo by Felicia Afuan

College life tends to turn students’ worlds upside down. Sleep schedules, living habits and study patterns — they all experience changes as social and academic demands grow more intense throughout the semester. Another, more unlikely, change: religious habits. After arriving at AU, students’ spiritual lives often become more focused on exploration and tolerance than on continuation of prior practice. With a fast-paced college lifestyle, religious observance “just hasn’t been much of a priority” for Catholic freshman Emily Luft. At home she used to attend mass every Sunday, but hasn’t been going since arriving to AU. “I put it on the back-burner,” she said. Sophomore Angela Smith, also Catholic, has also prioritized college life over religious life. “I don’t go to church unless it’s for a special reason,” she said. “I’ll go to support friends who are involved, or just to go socially, or for special holidays. If I have spare time I usually try to catch up on sleep or work.” But other new college students have found continuity in religious practice, providing a foundation for the transition to a university setting. Freshman Ethan Miller still observes regularly, both at home and at school. “Most of my Jewish faith is tradition and rooted in history,” he said. “My strong connection is familial, historical and cultural, and is a constant reminder of the morals and standards with which I was raised.” The same can be said for freshman Emily Fuller, also Jewish. Fuller’s observance at college is “pretty much the same,” except that she doesn’t have her family alongside her. “It’s weird to attend services without my family, but when I don’t go, I feel a little guilty,” she said. The value of faith is even more apparent to sophomore Duaa Malik. Between 16 credits and two jobs, her Islamic faith has given her a sense of balance. “I felt that religious practices added a sense of peacefulness to my crazy everyday life,” she said. “It gives me something to hold on to and hope for.” For college students — especially those who have to juggle school, work and other responsibilities — religion can be a powerful mediating force. “Celebrating in worship provides a person with a sense of community that is committed to a transcendent value,” according to Mark Schaefer, United Methodist Chaplain at AU. Schaefer said he has seen an across-the-board spike in religious attendance at school. “We [United Methodists] have doubled attendance over the last several years,” he said. Moreover, a study published in the Winter 2010 edition of Sociology of Religion found that college students who attend religious services regularly report both higher academic achievement and overall life satisfaction. Regardless of their observance patterns prior to college, some stu-

dents find that university life offers a new opportunity for spiritual exploration and instills a sense of religious tolerance and acceptance. “People should explore religions, learn about different faiths and then incorporate it into their life as long as they can be informed,” Emily Luft said. University Chaplain Joseph Eldridge emphasizes the role that faith can play in both personal growth and community building. “Kay [Spiritual Life Center] is here to help students give expression to the deeper spiritual yearnings of the heart as they open themselves up to trying to figure out what role spirituality and religion are going to play in their lives,” Eldridge said. And while all religious communities at AU have dedicated participants, Schaefer acknowledges that religious practice is not for everyone. “I am not sure that participation in religious ceremonies is, by itself, something people should be doing,” Schaefer said. “But I do believe that it would be good for people to be involved in communities that help them to wrestle with deep questions and discern meaning.” College is often described as adulthood with training wheels. With a host of new obligations facing college students, it is during this time that students establish the values and practices that they will carry with them beyond graduation. It makes sense, then, that college students would benefit from exploring their faith. Religious communities can aid in the process of self-discovery and help solidify the foundation that students need for the rest of their adult lives — when they will be riding with only two wheels. s

Zac Deibel is a freshman studying history. WWW.AWOLAU.ORG » WINTER 2011

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JABS AND JEST

FEBRUARY 2011

Innovation, wit and cogent wisdom

AWOL NEWSWIRE

SCORE ONE FOR FOOD SAFETY

Y

ou may remember the salmonella outbreak from alfalfa sprouts in December— or you may not. The bacterial infection struck 94 people in 16 different states. In response, the FDA Food and Safety Modernization Act, a bill two years in the making, finally passed in December. The bi-partisan bill will improve the prevention of food contamination, allow the FDA to issue food recalls when a company fails to do so, require grocery stores to state if they have sold food that was recalled and improve disease surveillance to find outbreaks faster. This is the first piece of US food safety legislation to be passed in 70 years, and it’s much needed. Last year, 76 million Americans suffered from preventable food-borne illnesses. According to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, “Preventing food-borne illness is a core public health principle that is especially critical in an increasingly complex and globalized world.” -Kelcie Pegher

VACCINE RUMORS PERSIST

E

ighteen percent of Americans believe that a childhood vaccine may cause autism, according to a recent poll by Harris Interactive/ HealthDay. Another 30 percent of Americans are uncertain, despite a dearth of scientific evidence to support the claim. In 1998 a study published in The Lancet, a respected British medical journal, made a casual assertion that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine might cause autism. A public health scare ensued.

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AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE MAGAZINE

Andrew Wakefield, the British gastroenterologist who conducted the study, denies allegations that he intentionally manipulated the data to reflect these findings. But after numerous studies failed to confirm the findings, The Lancet fully retracted the study in February 2010, and Wakefield lost his medical license. In the meantime, a decade of media coverage and celebrity endorsement lending weight to the claims (looking at you, Oprah and Jenny McCarthy) have perpetuated public belief in the myth, resulting in a decline in vaccination rates and, unsurprisingly, new cases of mumps and measles, diseases that had been all but eradicated. -Amberley Romo

ISSUE 007

colonies. These may be disrupting the normal functioning of colonies. Since bees are responsible for pollinating billions of dollars worth of crops in the US alone, beekeepers and researchers are looking to the EPA to seriously regulate the production and use of pesticides in order to keep ourselves, our bees and our economy healthy. -John Bly

TRAINING TERRORISTS BEE AWARE

A

n inexplicable phenomenon called colony collapse disorder began affecting bee colonies in the US in 2006, causing whole colonies to leave their hives and disappear. Scientists and beekeepers alike had no idea what was causing the rapid decline in bee populations around the country. Last October, The New York Times cited a recent study that claimed to have solved the mystery; apparently, a fungus and virus were infesting hives in tandem, causing a variety of strange behaviors in the bees, and likely their death. Yet the article failed to mention that the lead researcher received a large grant from the agrochemical company Bayer, which has been accused of producing insecticides harmful to beneficial pollinators like bees. Independent studies have found large varieties of synthetic agrochemicals — much like those produced by Bayer — in the abandoned hives of collapsed

U

S diplomatic cables disclosed by whistleblower organization Wikileaks revealed that the US and United Kingdom support the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in Bangladesh, an agency condemned by human rights organizations as “a government death squad.” The human rights record of the group restricted the US and UK from aiding or providing training to the RAB in 2008. The cables, however, detail the UK breaking these restrictions nine months later without any investigation into past violations or recent improvements. The US Ambassador to Bangladesh describes RAB — which is alleged to have carried out at least 1,000 extrajudicial killings — as “the country’s premier counter-terrorism force...the enforcement organization best positioned to one day become a Bangladeshi version of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.” The RAB, however, seems more like a force of state terrorism than anything else, instilling fear into the Bangleshi people who come across them. -Ashley Dejean


AN IMMIGRANT’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

JULIA’S EMPANADAS

By Alexandra Gordon // Photo by Amberley Romo

Julia Hohman sits in her ornate Adams Morgan apartment. Pictures of her family hang from the walls. Sounds of playing toddlers echo from the back of the unit and a patio table sits on the front porch. While there may not be a white picket fence, Hohman has achieved her American dream, the prosperity sought by legions of immigrants to the US. Julia’s Empanadas, Hohman’s popular restaurant chain, has supported her and her family since its opening 17 years ago. On any given Saturday night, the small shop in Dupont Circle is packed with hungry and eager customers. Hohman, who emigrated from Chile in 1971, has worked hard to achieve the comfortable life she has today. “I am what you call here, a workaholic,” Hohman said. She has put in years of 80-hour work weeks. “I think if you’re a hard worker no matter what, you’re going to make it. Some people don’t want to make it.” Unfortunately, Hohman’s remarkable story belies the tales of millions of other Latin American immigrants. With the worst US economy in decades, The New York Times has reported several anecdotal stories of reverse migration—immigrants returning to their home countries. While Hohman’s life has meandered through plenty of hard times and struggles, her love for cooking has always been a constant and the key to her success. “I always liked to cook,” Hohman said. “Even when I was 10 or 11 years old, my mother was sick and I used to cook for her.” Hohman’s parents both died when she was young, leaving her to care for her younger sister and brother. In 1971, she decided to travel to the US for a few months to look for work. Those few months turned into a lifetime when Hohman’s sister called from Chile, advising her not to return because of political uncertainty. President Salvador Allende had become the first elected Marxist head of state in the western hemisphere, creating a chaotic atmosphere and, according to Hohman, a lack of opportunities back home. Feeling a greater sense of urgency, Hohman was able to learn English quickly by always carrying around a dictionary. This — along with English classes from Chilean grade school — made adapting much easier. Hohman was soon able to find a job in a hotel restaurant in Silver Spring, where she lived for six years. “The chef was teaching me preparation for a buffet, and banquet preparation,” she said. “That’s how I started learning.” While working in Silver Spring, Hohman was introduced to the man who would become her husband and Julia’s Empanadas co-owner, William Hohman. “It was like a blind date,” said Hohman. “My friend asked me if I had a boyfriend, and I said ‘boyfriend?’ I didn’t even remember what that was. I was working 80 hours a week, so I seldom had a chance to meet anyone. And my friends, I lost them. I never went anywhere, only work.”

Years later, Hohman and her husband opened Julia’s Empanadas, which eventually grew into a chain of four restaurants. Hohman was working at another hotel when the restaurant started up and traveled to Julia’s Empanadas late at night to chop up onions and other ingredients for the empanadas. Now the restaurant has electric machines, a bigger staff and produces over 5,000 empanadas a day. Hohman’s success story has even reached two of Chile’s major newspapers, El Mercurio and La Tercera. Hohman’s success distinguishes her from the many immigrants in the US who struggle to make ends meet. For immigrants lucky enough to have migrated through legal channels, there’s some structural support that may help. Bryan Griffith, spokesman for the Center for Immigration Studies, explains that documented immigrants now have the support of a social safety net, unlike the great wave of immigrants who came from Europe in the early 1900s. “The answer for immigrants back then was: be successful, or go home,” Griffith said. But the success of immigrants in the US is now highly dependent on education level, according to Amy Oliver, a philosophy professor at AU who specializes in Latin American thought. “For skilled and educated immigrants, I think success is as attainable or more so than it was 30 years ago,” Oliver said. “Unskilled immigrants have always had a more difficult experience, perhaps more so now because of the economic recession.” Hohman maintains that her success did not happen by chance. Rather, it resulted from her sheer determination. “A lot of people say I’m lucky,” she said. “But I worked hard. I continue to work hard. I haven’t taken a vacation in 20 years.” s

Alexandra Gordon is a senior studying print journalism and Spanish/ Latin American studies. WWW.AWOLAU.ORG » WINTER 2011

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JABS AND JEST

Innovation, wit and cogent wisdom

THE AWOL BULLETIN BOARD Have something to say? Say it in AWOL. The Bulletin Board is designed to give a voice to AU clubs and organizations, but it’s open to everyone. We accept submissions of 250 words or less: send articles, press releases, or diatribes (but not advertisements) to awolau@gmail.com.

College students are often very self-sufficient. Each day many of us wake up, brush our own teeth and take a shower without assistance. We get dressed on our own and proceed to make or buy our own breakfast. After eating, we make our way to class. Some of us take mass transportation to campus while others simply walk out of our dorms. No matter where we live, we get to school on our own, no help. We take our independence for granted. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost 50 million Americans have disabilities. These individuals, of all ages, are often deprived of the opportunity to eat on their own, travel without help, and receive a world-class education. They long for things we take advantage of. This is where Best Buddies International steps in. Founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Best Buddies helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities find jobs, live on their own, and become inspirational leaders, all as a byproduct of friendship. The non-profit organization puts people of all ages (from middle school to retirement home) in one-on-one friendships with individuals with disabilities. AU’s chapter of Best Buddies has created over 25 friendships between AU students and individuals with special needs. Students write to their “Buddies” each week, letting them know that they matter. In January, Best Buddies attended an AU women’s basketball game, an event that all the Buddies enjoyed. The organization is making a difference in the lives of these individuals and getting so much in return. Not only are the members learning from their buddies but they have been rewarded with a greater appreciation for their independence, while getting to watch their Buddies become more self-sufficient each day. AU Best Buddies

AU Solidarity is the campus organization that advocates for the rights of workers at our university. We believe that we have power as tuition-paying students and that the university our concerns about the university funding workers rights abuses should be heard. This semester, we are fighting for the university to increase bookstore orders from the only union, living wage collegiate apparel brand, Alta Gracia, and for the university to re-establish the corporate responsibility board with student representation. As always, we will respond to labor rights abuses on campus as they are brought to our attention. We are an affiliate of the national student labor solidarity movement United Students Against Sweatshops. Our meetings are usually held on Tuesday nights at 8 in the CASJ office in the basement of Kay spiritual life center. AU Solidarity

To many AU students, the word “Christian” brings to mind images of Westboro Baptist protesters, judgmental pastors and Quran-burning days. The United Methodist-Protestant Community wants to change this impression. You may have seen us at the Rally to Reaffirm Sanity, the recent effort by the AU community to counter the hateful message promoted by the Westboro Baptist Church. As students gathered to support love and acceptance, the United Methodist Student Association passed out 500 cups of hot chocolate to chilly attendees. We wanted to give students more than just warm hands; we wanted to show the community that our idea of Christianity accepts them exactly as they are. The Reconciling Ministries Network began in 1982 as a movement within the Methodist church to make participation in the church open to all people. Elise Alexander, formal co-chair of the UMSA Social Justice Committee, explained that its mission statement “takes the step of making explicit the community’s welcoming status...it’s one thing to assume people know you’re welcoming, but another and very important [thing] to say it out loud and directly.” Recently, the UMSA decided that it was time to review the Reconciling Statement. The goal was to create a new statement more reflective of current members’ ideas. Alexander considered the discussion a successful one, observing that “people in the community learned more about RMN and the reconciling process and were empowered to claim the community and statement as their own.” The proposed changes can be found on the UMSA website along with a place for community members to comment on the suggestions. Alexander affirmed that AU’s UMSA “aim[s] to maintain and grow our status as the religious community on campus which is welcoming of all people and to continue showing God’s encompassing love to the campus.” Caroline Marsh, United Methodist Student Association

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AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE MAGAZINE


CONCERNED ABOUT GRADUATING INTO A GOD-FORSAKEN JOB MARKET? DON’T BE! by Gustav Cappaert

A hostile economic environment has a lot of Eagles worried about finding jobs after graduation. To reassure you, AWOL sat down with four intrepid AU grads from the last decade. Take a look at these savvy professionals and get inspired. James Manley

Robert Singleton

Aide to the Main Aide to Congressman Sean P. Duffy

Business, Man

Graduated: 2010

Salary: $85,000/year

Salary: $25,000/year

Benefits: Full everything

Benefits: Dental

Checks e-mail: From da’ jet

Checks e-mail: 18 times/day Where does power lie in the US House of Representatives? Just ask Mr. Manley: “I think of myself as the power behind the power behind the throne,” he said. AWOL sat down with the ambitious young staffer over coffee in a Capitol Hill Starbucks. Mr. Manley graduated with Political Science honors and was snapped up by former sports commentator and Real World contestant Sean P. Duffy, a 10-year House veteran. “I do all kinds of things,” said Mr. Manley, “mostly social networking and regular networking.” Manley, a lifelong Democrat, said he signed on with the Republican Duffy out of a spirit of non-partisanship. “I’m proud to be crashing traditional barriers.” The highlight of his go-go DC lifestyle? “I live in Columbia Heights, and sometimes the staff goes out to drink at a kind of funky little bar.” Manley says he hopes to ascend to Main Aide within the next few years.

Graduated: 2008

Robert Singleton (call him “Bobby”) has been on a rocket ride to the top ever since he left the Kogod School of Business with a degree in Business Administration. His company, an up-and-coming consulting and manufacturing firm in the heart of Kansas City, recently closed a deal with organic baby food giant Yummy Spoonfuls. By day, he saves the company money by seamlessly coordinating accounts and managing corporate downsizing. By night, he drinks and picks up chicks in KC’s hottest hangouts. “I’m going to do this until I retire, and then I’m going to die,” he said.

Madison Wheeler

Plant Geneticist Graduated: 2003 Salary: $65,000/year

Debbie Shenkar

Environment Blogger

Benefits: Blue Cross, Blue Shield Checks e-mail: 1 time/day

Graduated: 2006 Salary: Commission Benefits: Wireless Internet Checks e-mail: 61 times/day Debbie Shenkar knew she wanted to do something to help the planet. “It’s a little radical, but I think corporations are killing the environment,” she explained. Shenkar is paid up to $20 per entry to a network of green blogs called ProgressiveGreenBlogs.com. “After my study abroad in Canada, I knew I wanted to work somewhere where I could make a difference.” Shenkar’s last post? “10 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint by Changing What You Wear!”

Recession? Nobody told Madison Wheeler. Steady hours, great benefits, free child care and a beautiful house in California’s Napa Valley are just a few of the perks of Wheeler’s position with agribusiness giant Monsanto. AWOL spoke with Mrs. Wheeler on her sun-dappled wrap-around porch. “The best part is my wonderful husband, my beautiful children and the wine tours of the valley,” she said. Wheeler graduated in 2003 with a degree in Agricultural Biology. “I loved American,” she said. “It was a little irksome to have to do the same degree over again at a school with an actual science program, but the Tavern fries were worth it!”

Gustav Cappaert is a junior studying political science.

WWW.AWOLAU.ORG » WINTER 2011

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AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE MAGAZINE

AWOL - Issue 07  

Winter 2011