YEAR IN REVIEW 2015-2016
YEAR IN REVIEW
ITHACA COLLEGE 2015-2016
Y EA R I N FERNANDO FERRAZ/THE ITHACAN
REVI EW FERNANDO FERRAZ/THE ITHACAN
T H E I T H A C A N 2
ÂŠ 2015â€“2016 The Ithacan
YEAR IN REVIEW Evin R. Billington, Editor Gregory H. LaPierre, Design Editor Jennifer Williams, Photo Editor Ben Gaynor, Proofreader Special Thanks to: Tribune News Service for global news photos. Kira Maddox and Evan Sobkowicz for their leadership and advice. Ben Gaynor for being a proofreading machine. Kira Maddox, Editor in Chief Rachel Wolfgang, Managing Editor Evan Sobkowicz, Managing Editor Natalie Shanklin, Opinion Editor Kayla Dwyer, Opinion Editor Aidan Quigley, News Editor Faith Meckley, News Editor Max Denning, Assistant News Editor RamyaVijayagopal, Assistant News Editor Kyle Arnold, Assistant News Editor Sophia Tulp, Assistant News Editor Mary Ford, Life & Culture Editor Celisa Calacal, Life & Culture Editor Angela Weldon, Assistant Life & Culture Editor Jonathan Beck, Sports Editor Danielle Allentuck, Sports Editor Andrew Sullivan, Sports Editor Vinica Weiss, Assistant Sports Editor Lauren Murray, Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Battistelli, Photo Editor Amanda den Hartog, Photo Editor Yana Mazurkevich, Assistant Photo Editor Sam Fuller, Assistant Photo Editor Rob Henry, Multimedia Editor Luke Harbur, Assistant Multimedia Editor David Dorsey, Assistant Multimedia Editor Melissa Dellacato, Proofreader Ben Gaynor, Proofreader Kris DiNardi, Chief Copy Editor Grace Clauss, Design Editor Alison Teadore, Design Editor Hayley Tarleton, Assistant Design Editor Erica Dischino, Social Media Manager Sara Kim, Social Media Manager Lawrence Hamacher, Sales Manager Max Gillilan, Classifieds Manager Michael Serino, Ithacan Adviser
NEWS 10–25 — WORLD NEWS TIMELINE 26–29 — YEAR IN NUMBERS 30–41 — ROOTS OF CONFLICT 30 - RAs rally for racial justice 34 - Lawrence 37 - Students speak out 40 - Blue Sky fallout 41 - AEPi 42–54 — SEASON OF PROTEST 42 - No confidence 44 - Students seize the stage 45 - Solidarity walkout 47 - Meet the Board of Trustees 48 - Rochon’s tenure at IC 52 - Rochon resigns 53 - A history of race on campus 55–59 — CAMPUS NEWS 55 - Higher than average 57 - Gender-neutral housing 58 - In memoriam
ONLINE To see additional highlights from the year, visit theithacan.org/yir2016
LIFE 62–81 — LOOKING WITHIN 62 - Conservative students 64 - Presidential race 65 - Elephant in the Room 66 - Bikes 68 - First-generation students 71 - Ithaca Generator 74 - Muslim students 78 - Live RÁS 81 - Mind Matters
82–95 — CULTURE 82 - The Rook 84 - Culture clash 86 - Battlefield to South Hill 88 - Diversity in the music school 91 - Drag show 93 - MLK day of service 94 - Into Identity
NEWS ART 98–109 — RAISE YOUR VOICE 98 - Power of Performance 100 - Malaika Apparel 102 - Straight outta Ithaca 104 - Premium Blend 106 - A Chorus Line 108 - ReEntry Theatre 110–119 — YEAR IN REVIEWS
SPORTS 122–127 — CORTACA 128–134 — A DAY IN THE LIFE 128 - Devin Larsen 132 - Sam Bevan 135–139 — JANET DONOVAN
140–141 — CLIMBING HIGHER 142 — BEND IT LIKE BECK
144–147 — OVERCOMING OBSTACLES 144 - Corie Levine 146 - John Prendergast
148 — LOOKING AHEAD
F ROM T H E Evin R. Billington
YEAR IN REVIEW EDITOR
JENNIFER WILLIAMS/THE ITHACAN
A few years ago, I had a professor who liked to go off on the politics of the campus. His problem was not that the college was too liberal — on the contrary, what he took issue with was the lack of political engagement he saw in the student body. At the time, I agreed with him. Sure, the campus seemed filled with lefty liberals who celebrated when Barack Obama won in 2012 and got mad about fracking, but not the type who turned that anger into action. After this past year, though, it’s safe to say that that professor — and I — was proven wrong. As Year in Review editor, I got to spend my senior year reflecting on what were the most politically engaged semesters I have ever seen on campus. I had the job of recording the news and republishing it so future generations of Ithacans — or at least future generations of Ithacan editors — can remember the important stuff. I’m discovering more and more how difficult it is to recall major news events as time passes. Though the media often do their best to oversaturate news coverage, events seem to overshadow each other. When everything is emphasized and reported on ad nauseam, everything becomes huge news, making nothing remarkable or memorable in society’s collective consciousness. That’s why I liked this job. I like to think that maybe by republishing the best stories from this tremendously headline-worthy year, people won’t forget it so easily. Agree or
disagree with the People of Color at Ithaca College movement, one thing is undeniable: It started a campuswide dialogue, one that has not been seen at this college in quite some time. It inspired hundreds of students to walk out of class, it created a debate among students and faculty alike, and it made President Tom Rochon reconsider his time at the college. That is worthy of being remembered and discussed for years to come. I came to Ithaca from the northern suburbs of Chicago. I didn’t know anyone else going to the college, and I struggled to fit in with my mostly Northeastern peers. Freshman-me was almost ready to transfer at the end of my first semester, but I stuck with it. I found friends, I found belonging on The Ithacan’s editorial board, and I started to look at Ithaca as a second home. However, until recently, it was not a home I was particularly proud of. Nothing important ever happened on campus. Students seemed frankly apathetic about most issues. This year made me proud to call myself an Ithacan. I’m excited to graduate and go out into the world with the knowledge that I went to a college that demanded better from its administration and society. Not many people can say that. It’s important to stop and remember our history, even in this microcosm that is this college’s campus. I sincerely hope this publication plays a hand in preserving some of it so Ithacans years from now can be proud of what their peers have accomplished.
E DI T OR S Kira Maddox
EDITOR IN CHIEF
JENNIFER WILLIAMS/THE ITHACAN
When I was 6 years old, the Twin Towers were attacked. At that age, I never thought to question empty phrases like “weapons of mass destruction” or “enemy combatants” that were plastered all over the news. No one I knew did, except one person: my father. My father watched the news religiously and fought against anyone who would say we invaded the Middle East to help people. “You know why we’re there?” he would ask, his mouth curved into his well-known, arrogant, know-it-all smirk. “O-I-L.” As the War on Terror raged on, it eventually became clear to the American public that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But my father never got the chance to revel in his personal victory of being right because he had died June 25, 2006, of non-Hodgkins lymphoma — cancer. My father, in a way, opened my eyes. I had never before suspected that what was on the news or in the paper could be incorrect — I thought, ignorantly, that the news was always right. It isn’t. That’s what made me want to become a journalist. When I became editor in chief of The Ithacan this year, I told myself I wouldn’t let our news outlet be like every other news outlet in mainstream media. I wouldn’t let The Ithacan succumb to empty rhetoric and fall into the pattern of reporting what’s easiest to get out. That wasn’t fair to our community — not to our administration, not to our faculty, not to our staff and not to our students. I, and the rest of our editorial board, had a responsibility to uphold: to report the news. The real news. When big-name outlets like CNN and MSNBC picked up Ithaca College’s story last semester, I was disheartened by
their handling of the situation and their lack of interest in the real story. All they wanted were sound bites. They didn’t really care about the protests led by resident assistants in the beginning of the fall semester; they didn’t really care about Blue Sky or AEPi. They didn’t really care about the college. But I did. And I wanted The Ithacan to, too. In a new way. I set out to create a space for dialogue and open conversation, a space for people to speak their grievances openly and freely, and a space for others to respond. To be able to expand our Opinion section to three — often more — pages because we had so many open letters, guest commentaries and published statements was probably the highpoint of my career. The fact that people were actually coming to our news outlet on a daily basis looking for updates and others’ official comments was a beautiful feeling, but it didn’t come without its struggles. There were long nights. There were hours of deliberation. There were days in a row of literally rolling out of bed to breaking news. Times gathered around the long table in our office structuring and restructuring and restructuring stories to make sure all sides were balanced before publishing. Quick decisions. Constant updates. Having others try to dictate my “journalistic duty” for me. But all that in the end doesn’t really matter. I’d do it all again, and I will do it all again going forward, to put out the kind of news I want to put out, and to be the kind of journalist I want to be: a good one. So, everyone, 2015–16 was a good run. I hope I did right by you.
TOMMY BATTISTELLI/THE ITHACAN
2015: A YEAR IN GLOBAL NEWS
OLIVIER DOULIERY/ABACA PRESS
AUG. 14 BRIAN CAHN/ZUMA PRESS
AUG. 6 The Republican Presidential candidates held their first primetime debate in Cleveland, Ohio. The debate only featured the 10 highest-polling candidates, including Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and John Kasich. Trump spent much of the debate attacking the other candidates, particularly Bush, and stated he was open to the idea of running as a third-party candidate if he did not secure the nomination. 10
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke outside the newly reopened American embassy in Havana during a celebration that marked the end of 54 years of strained relations between the U.S. and Cuba. “We remain convinced the people of Cuba would be best served by genuine democracy, where people are free to choose their leaders, express their ideas, practice their faith,” Kerry said. This came after President Barack Obama’s Dec. 17, 2014, announcement that the U.S. was restoring full relations with the former Cold War foe.
JACK KURTZ/ZUMA PRESS
AUG. 17 A bomb was detonated at a popular tourist site in Bangkok, Thailand, killing 20 and injuring more than 123 people. No one claimed responsibility for the bombing, which is the worst explosion in the country since the military took power in May 2014. On Aug. 18, 2015, a second bomb exploded in the area but injured no one.
WITT-MESSYASZ/ABACA PRESS BRIAN CASSELLA/CHICAGO TRIBUNE
AUG. 20 Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned after increased tension in response to the latest European bailout announcement. On Aug. 27, an interim government was formed. Judge Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou took over as interim prime minister until the Sept. 20 elections — Greece’s second in 2015. Thanou-Christophilou became Greece’s first female prime minister and is also president of the Court of Cassation and the nation’s most senior judge.
AUG. 21 Three Americans and one Briton traveling on a train outside of Paris overpowered a man armed with an AK-47, a handgun and a box cutter, walking down the aisle of the train. The men — Alek Skarlatos, a specialist in the National Guard; Airman First Class Spencer Stone; college student Anthony Sadler; and Briton Chris Norman — were later awarded the Legion of Honour, France’s highest civilian honor, by French President Francois Hollande for their bravery in preventing the attack.
ELLEN CREAGOR/DETROIT FREE PRESS
AUG. 24 Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants destroyed the Temple of Baalshamin and a Roman Catholic monastery in Palmyra, Syria, a U.N. World Heritage Site. The Temple of Baalshamin was one of the most ornate and well-preserved structures in the historic city known for its ancient structures. ISIS militants also killed Khaled al-Asaad, the 83-year-old director of antiques in Palmyra, after reportedly torturing him for information about uncovered artifacts in the city. 11
2015: A YEAR IN GLOBAL NEWS
SE P T E M BE R REBECCA MURRAY/MCCLATCHY
OLIVIER DOULIERY/ABACA PRESS
SEPT. 10 U.S. Senate Democrats blocked a Republican effort to eliminate the nuclear deal with Iran, a victory for President Barack Obama. As part of the deal, Iran agreed to reduce its enriched uranium stockpile by 98 percent, place twothirds of its centrifuges under international supervision and accept a reinstatement of sanctions if it violates any of the deal’s terms. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, said there will be no negotiations with the U.S. beyond the nuclear deal. 12
European Union officials met to coordinate a response to the mounting immigration crisis in Europe, which intensified throughout September. Each day for months, refugees fleeing wars in Afghanistan, Syria and North Africa poured into the Balkans at a rate of about 3,000 people per day. Many migrants hoped to settle in Western Europe; however, many of those countries have only opened their borders to a small number of refugees and asylum seekers. In Hungary, thousands of migrants were stranded at Budapest’s Keleti railway station as they waited for officials to decide their fate. However, the EU could not come to an agreement on the best response to the crisis, and many migrants were left stranded in makeshift camps scattered throughout Europe and the Balkans.
DAVID EULITT/KANSAS CITY STAR
SEPT. 20 After resigning as Prime Minister of Greece in August, Alexis Tsipras won more than 35 percent of the vote in elections — the second held in 2015. During his victory speech, Tsipras said, “The mandate that the Greek people gave us is crystal clear: to get rid of the wickedness and the regime of corruption and intertwined interests that have ruled the country for years. You gave us the second decisive chance to be done with that. We will be judged in the next four years on how efficient we are starting tomorrow morning.”
RON SACHS/ZUMA PRESS
SEPT. 25 Speaker of the House John Boehner announced his resignation, effective Oct. 30, 2015. He said he planned on announcing his leave on Nov. 17, his 66th birthday, but moved the date up due to mounting conflict in Congress. Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan was confirmed as Boehnerâ€™s replacement Oct. 29.
SEPT. 28 The Taliban took control of the northern Afghanistan city of Kunduz. This is the first major city the extremist group has captured in more than a decade. Afghan government forces, assisted by U.S. airstrikes, launched a counterattack to retake the city Sept. 29. The Taliban eventually withdrew from the city after 15 days of fighting.
The Syrian Civil War, which in four years has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced 9 million more, reached a new level when Russia suddenly began conducting airstrikes from its bases in Syria. While Russia claimed this move was made to assist the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, its planes instead targeted Syrian rebel groups that have been fighting Syrian President and longtime Russian ally Bashar al-Assad. Russia did not coordinate with the United States, leading some to fear a confrontation between the two countries. 13
2015: A YEAR IN GLOBAL NEWS
O CT OBE R
AHMAD MASSOUD/ZUMA PRESS
KARL MONDEN/BAY AREA NEWS
CHRIS PIETSCH/ZUMA PRESS
OCT. 1 Nine people were killed and seven wounded in a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. The gunman was Chris Harper Mercer, a 26-year-old former student at the community college. He killed himself after an exchange of gunfire with the police. 14
Nepali Prime Minister Sushil Koirala resigned as per a provision of Nepalâ€™s new democratic constitution, which was announced and instated Sept. 20, 2015. On Oct. 11, Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, chairman of the countryâ€™s communist party, was elected prime minister. Oli came to power during a tense time for Nepal, with protests and deadly riots erupting following the devastating earthquake in April and the ratification of a new constitution.
A U.S. airstrike hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan. Nineteen people were killed, including three children and 12 Doctors Without Borders staff members. Officials at the hospital reported the strike lasted for 30 to 45 minutes, starting a large fire and burning people to death. American authorities said the bombing was in response to the increasing Taliban activity in the area and reported Taliban forces were seeking treatment in the hospital. The United Nations condemned the attack and called for an independent investigation into the incident.
MEL MELCON/LOS ANGELES TIMES
TUMAY BERKIN/ZUMA PRESS
OCT. 10 Two suicide bombs shook Turkey’s capital, Ankara, during a peace rally, killing at least 95 and injuring 246. The attack is the deadliest in the country’s history. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria was named as the main suspect for the bombing; however, the group did not take responsibility. The attack came three weeks before national elections in the country.
RICK LOOMIS/LOS ANGELES TIMES
OCT. 13 The Democratic Presidential candidates held their first debate in Las Vegas, Nevada. The debate included Lincoln Chafee, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders and Jim Webb. A week after the debate, Webb announced that he was dropping out of the race but would consider an independent bid.
China announced it will abolish its infamous one-child policy, allowing married couples to have up to two children. The announcement came amid rising concerns about China’s aging workforce. China had already relaxed the policy slightly in 2013 when it announced that couples could have two children if one of the parents was an only child. Many policy analysts were skeptical about the effects of the new law, rejecting the idea that it would spark either a baby boom or a drastic economic rise in the country. 15
2015: A YEAR IN GLOBAL NEWS
NOV E M BE R
CAROLYN COLE/LOS ANGELES TIMES
OLIVIER DOULIERY/ABACA PRESS
NOV. 7 Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou to discuss improving relations between China and Taiwan. This is the first meeting between a leader of the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan. The countries have been rivals since 1949. While the meeting was cordial, Xi was clear it did not represent any weakening of China’s claim that Taiwan is a part of its territory. 16
JANE TYSKA/OAKLAND TRIBUNE
NOV. 8 Approximately 50 years of military rule ended in Myanmar with Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party’s winning a landslide victory in general elections. This was the country’s first national vote since 2011. The NLD will take the majority of seats in parliament and choose the next president.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria launched three coordinated attacks in Paris that killed at least 130 people and wounded hundreds. The assault began in popular concert hall the Bataclan, where American band Eagles of Death Metal was performing. Eighty-nine people were killed. Dozens more died in attacks at cafes and a soccer stadium where French and German teams were playing a game. French President Francois Hollande called the assault “an act of war,” and retaliated with increased airstrikes on ISIS’ self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa, Syria.
NOV. 20 Terrorists stormed a hotel in Bamako, Mali’s capital city, taking 170 people hostage and killing at least 27. The group responsible for the attack was initially unclear; however, Al-Jazeera reported that a militant group called Al-Mourabitoun, in conjunction with al-Qaida in West Africa, launched the assault. With Mali’s being a former French colony, the French government saw the incident as another aggression against the country.
NANCY STONE/CHICAGO TRIBUNE
NOV. 24 A video was released showing dashboard footage of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot by the Chicago Police Department Officer Jason Van Dyke. People took to the streets in protest, calling for the resignation of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014, was charged with first-degree murder.
STACIE SCOTT/COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE
NOV. 27 Three people, including one police officer, were killed and nine others were wounded during a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. After a standoff, police apprehended the shooter, 57-year-old Robert Dear. On Nov. 30, Dear was charged with first-degree murder. 17
2015: A YEAR IN GLOBAL NEWS
DE CE M BE R
OLIVIER DOULIERY/BAY AREA NEWS
DEC. 3 Impeachment proceedings began for Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff. Rousseff allegedly manipulated government money and bent laws to secure a re-election in October 2014. She maintained her innocence in a televised speech to the country and said, “There is no wrongful act committed by me, nor are there any suspicions that I have misused public money.” Rousseff is the first woman to be elected president in Brazil. 18
PIERRE VILLARD/ABACA PRESS
DEC. 12 The United Nations Climate Change Conference wrapped up with an agreement that holds all countries to reduce carbon emissions. The accord, named the Paris Agreement, includes a stipulation that all countries begin making an effort to limit global warming to a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, a goal which requires no carbon emissions between 2030 and 2050.
CAROLYN COLE/LOS ANGELES TIMES
DEC. 13 Women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to vote and run for office for the first time in the Dec. 13 election. More than a dozen women won seats in local councils. However, they make up fewer than 1 percent of all council members and have less power than their male counterparts.
SERGEI L. LOIKOS/LOS ANGELES TIMES
TOM FOX/DALLAS MORNING NEWS
DEC. 15 The much-anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” premiered in Hollywood. The movie had the biggest opening in box office history, grossing $238 million. The film, directed by J.J. Abrams, was a critical success.
Russian President Vladimir Putin held a national news conference in which he praised U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, calling him “a bright and talented person” and declaring him the certain front-runner in the election. Putin also condemned the Turkish government for a November incident in which Turkish forces shot down a Russian warplane flying on the country’s border.
PATRICK DELECROIS/ZUMA PRESS
DEC. 29 The Committee to Protect Journalists announced that 69 journalists were killed while reporting in 2015. The country with the most casualties was Syria, with a total of 14, followed by France with nine deaths. 19
2016: A YEAR IN GLOBAL NEWS
JA N UA RY
REGINA H. BOONE/DETROIT FREE PRESS
AL SEIB/LOS ANGELES TIMES
JAN. 16 President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint, Michigan, due to a twoyear water crisis that left the cityâ€™s 100,000 residents without clean water to drink. The problem began when the government decided it could get cheaper water from the Flint River than from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. After the switch, residents developed a number of health issues, including rashes and hair loss. Independent studies found high levels of lead in the water and higher lead levels in the cityâ€™s children. 20
CHRIS STOWERS/ZUMA PRESS
JAN. 16 Tsai Ing-wen was elected president of Taiwan. She is the first woman to hold that position in the country and is also the first unmarried president to be elected. She is scheduled to take office May 20.
Director Spike Lee and actor Jada Pinkett Smith were among the artists who called for a boycott of the 2016 Academy Awards ceremony after the academy failed for the second year in a row to nominate any African-Americans in major Oscar acting categories. On Jan. 22, the academy announced it would make changes to its selection and voting requirements to increase diversity, setting a goal to double minority and female membership over the next four years.
BALKIS PRESS/ABACA PRESS
NANCY STONE/CHICAGO TRIBUNE YANG YANG/ZUMA PRESS
JAN. 30 Boko Haram attacked a village in Nigeria, killing at least 65 people, abducting women and burning the entire village. More than 2.5 million people from four different countries have fled their homes due to attacks from the terrorist group.
JAN. 30 German tennis player Angelique Kerber beat Serena Williams, 6–4, 3–6, 6–4, to win her first Australian Open Women’s Singles Championship. She became the first German to win a Grand Slam since Steffi Graf ’s 1999 championship at the French Open.
Two suicide bombings and a car bomb in Sayyidah Zaynab, a satellite city of Damascus, Syria, killed more than 70 people. The attack was centered near Syria’s holiest Shiite shrine. The bombings came just days before Syrian peace talks were scheduled to start in Geneva. The talks, mediated by the U.N., involved members of Syrian President Bashar al-Asaad’s government and leaders of major opposition groups in the country. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which claimed responsibility for the attack, was not invited. 21
2016: A YEAR IN GLOBAL NEWS
F E BRUA RY
RAY CHAVEZ/BAY AREA NEWS
FEB. 13 ROBYN DIXON/LOS ANGELES TIMES
FEB. 11 A suicide bombing in a Nigerian refugee camp killed at least 58 people and wounded 78 others. The suicide bombers were three young women who were invited into the camp. Two detonated the bombs while a third turned herself in to authorities reportedly after seeing members of her family in the camp, which is primarily for people displaced by Boko Haram. 22
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in his sleep of natural causes following an afternoon of quail hunting in Shafter, Texas. The conservative justiceâ€™s death sparked a debate in Congress over whether President Barack Obama should elect a new Supreme Court Justice or leave Scaliaâ€™s seat vacant until the next president is sworn in. Obama vowed to appoint a new justice, while Republicans in the House and Senate said they would do all they could to block anyone the president elects.
FEB. 16 China deployed missiles to a disputed island in the South China Sea, increasing tensions between China, Vietnam and the Philippines, which have all claimed the island as a part of their territory.
NANCY STONE/CHICAGO TRIBUNE
CAROLYN COLE/LOS ANGELES TIMES
FEB. 20 Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush announced that he would drop out of the race following a major loss in South Carolina in which he secured only 7.8 percent of the vote. He came in fourth behind Ted Cruz, who won 22.3 percent; Marco Rubio, who won 22.5 percent; and Donald Trump, who took 32.5 percent of the Republican primary vote in the state.
FEB. 22 The U.S. and Russian governments brokered a partial truce between the Syrian government and opposition groups in an attempt to end fighting. Both sides agreed to a “cessation of hostilities,” calling for government-led forces to end their attacks on rebel-held towns, allowing humanitarian aid to be delivered to those cities. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the Nusra Front, the al-Qaida affiliate in Syria, were not a part of the deal.
MARK BOSTER/LOS ANGELES TIMES
FEB. 28 Leonardo DiCaprio won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in “The Revenant.” DiCaprio had previously been nominated for the award four times. Other big winners included the film “Spotlight,” which took home the Best Picture award, and Brie Larson, who won Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in “Room.” 23
2016: A YEAR IN GLOBAL NEWS
M A RCH
CAROLYN COLE/LOS ANGELES TIMES
MARCH 1 The Super Tuesday primary elections saw Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pulling ahead of their opponents. Thirteen states and one territory participated in voting in the biggest primary day of the election. After disappointing performances in the polls, Republican candidates Marco Rubio and Ben Carson later announced they were pulling out of the race. 24
MARCH 3 The U.N. Security Council imposed another round of sanctions on North Korea after the country had announced it launched a satellite into orbit in February and conducted a nuclear test in January, which sparked a 5.1 magnitude earthquake. The sanctions require inspections of all shipments entering and leaving the country, and bans the import of luxury watches, snowmobiles and Jet Skis — all favorite items of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
MARCH 5 U.S. airstrikes in Somalia reportedly killed more than 150 al-Shabab fighters. AlShabab is al-Qaida’s affiliate in Somalia and Yemen. The airstrikes targeted a military training camp 124 miles north of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital city.
FREDERICO GAMBARINI/ZUMA PRESS
OLIVIER DOULIERY/ABACA PRESS
MARCH 18 Turkey agreed to take in migrants departing for Greece after a deal was struck with the European Union. Turkey also announced it would accept migrants back from Greece who were not eligible for asylum beginning in early April.
MARCH 20 President Barack Obama and his family visited Cuba. The trip marks the first time in 88 years that a sitting president of the United States has gone to the country. During the trip, Obama and Cubaâ€™s president, RaĂşl Castro, exchanged words about human rights and the U.S. economic embargo of the country.
MARCH 22 Bombs were detonated at the Brussels airport and a metro station, killing 35 and wounding more than 300 people. Three suicide bombers were killed. Investigators believe at least three of the terrorists also played a role in the 2015 Paris attacks. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria claimed responsibility for the bombings. 25
ITHACAN INDEX $40,658
Tuition at Ithaca College for the 2015–16 school year:
Total tuition the Class of 2016 has paid over four years:
With room and board: Average monthly rent for a 900-square-foot furnished apartment in New York City:
$2,794 Austin, Texas
Top city for college grads to move to: Ranking Austin holds as “drunkest city in America”:
Estimated percentage of U.S. jobs that could be lost to automated machines in the coming years:
47 percent 2
Rank of restaurant industry for U.S. employers: Median yearly wage for a waiter in the U.S.:
Number of restaurants on The Commons: Number of places to get coffee on campus during class hours: After class hours:
Average hours college students sleep per night:
Percentage of millennials who use phones before bed:
Number of “Damn Daniel” video views on YouTube*:
Percentage of Americans anxious about the idea of “President Donald Trump”:
Number of college presidents who faced no confidence votes in the 2015–16 school year:
*As of April 3, 2016
COMPILED BY EVIN R. BILLINGTON
3,756 Ithaca College students voted in the student no confidence vote. Here are the results of the vote by race, gender and school.
Did not vote
Submitted no answer Confidence No Confidence
3,756 students out of 6,907 who were emailed the poll voted.
Race 100% voted no
AMERICAN INDIAN OR ALASKA NATIVE
100% voted no
NATIVE HAWAIIAN OR OTHER PACIFIC ISLANDER
85% voted no
voted no confidence
ASIAN Total votes:
120 TWO OR MORE RACES Total votes:
93.42% voted no
voted no confidence
BLACK OR AFRICANAMERICAN
HISPANIC OR LATINO
voted no confidence
228 UNKNOWN/ DECLINED TO ANSWER Total votes:
voted no confidence
School of business
2,228 NUMBER that voted no confidence
Confidence or no Confidence?
On Nov. 30, 2015, Ithaca College voted on whether or not it had confidence in President Tom Rochon. Hereâ€™s a breakdown of the results. For more on the no confidence vote, see page 48.
voted no confidence
park school of Communications
voted no confidence
School of Health Sciences & Human Performance
voted no confidence
School of Humanities & Sciences
voted no confidence
School of Music
voted no confidence
DESIGN: ALISON TEADORE
The 2015–16 school year was filled with protests on campus. People of Color at Ithaca College demanded better treatment of racial issues and for President Tom Rochon to step down. The college was not the only campus seized with unrest. Many colleges across the country had similar demands. See how other institutes of higher education compare with Ithaca College. For more protest coverage, see pages 42–54.
ithaca college Remove Tom Rochon
University of Missouri Remove President Tim Wolfe
oberlin college List of faculty the group believes should recieve tenure or be placed
All future presidents selected
Create and enforce comprehen-
through a democratic process by
sive racial awareness and inclusion
students, faculty and staff
curriculum throughout all campus
List of faculty and employees the
departments and units, mandatory
group believes should be fired
Create a fair environment for “mar-
for all students, faculty, staff
ginalized” groups and communi-
4-percent annual increase of black student enrollment for a 40 per-
ties, including the LGBT community, female students of color and more
on a tenure track
By the academic year 2017–18,
cent increase by 2022
increase the percentage of black Immediate tenure of professors who
faculty and staff campuswide to 10
were described as supportive of the
Compose a strategic 10-year plan
Elimination of Western and classi-
Faculty, students and staff who
by May 1, 2016, that will increase
cal course requirement, or in lieu
participated in the movement go
retention rates for marginalized stu-
of eliminating them, also requir-
unpunished for their participation
dents, sustain diversity curriculum
ing equivalent courses in African
and training, and promote a more
Increasing transparency about Ithaca College Board of Trustees membership and make more student trustees
Rochon announced retirement Jan.14 Action Plan to Address Racism and Cultural Bias, released Oct. 27, including creation of chief diversity officer.
Complete divestment from prisons
safe and inclusive campus Increase funding, resources and personnel for the social justice centers on campus for the purpose of hiring additional professionals, particularly those of color
Administrative Response: Hire a diversity officer and create a task force aimed at boosting diversity.
Creation of three exclusive safe spaces for “Africana identifying students”
Administrative Response: “Some of the solutions it proposes are deeply troubling,” ... “I will not respond directly to any document that explicitly rejects the notion of collaboratove engagament.”
ACROSS COLLEGES Princeton University Reconsider President Woodrow Wilson’s legacy at the college, including the removal of a mural Implement cultural competency training and diversity requirment No disciplinary action against students who participated in sit-in “Inclusion at Princeton” website to be updated by the vice provost of diversity and inclusion
Increasing the number of tenured
Hire more staff at Psychological
and tenure-tracked black faculty
Counseling Center, particularly
Require each college to have one
meeting per semester dedicated to cultural competency training Halt the purchase of supplies produced in prisons Bring back Towson University Debate Team — “intellectual fixture in the Towson University Black community where black students have
Administrative Response: President signed off on demands after collaboration with students.
been nationally successful and active contributors to bringing justice to black people at the institution”
those of color, to address long
Increase percentage of faculty and staff of color Hire a chief diversity officer Create a bias reporting system Removal of the clause in student code of conduct making student actions that obstruct or disrupt the environment of the college illegal
Administrative Response: Unknown
President signed off on demands after collaboration with students.
R.A.S RALLY BACK Resident assistants protest alleged racial aggression by Public Safety officers By Max Denning TOMMY BATTISTELLI/THE ITHACAN
Resident assistants at Ithaca College protested what they are calling racial profiling and harassment by Public Safety officers against students of color. On the evening of Sept. 2, 2015, an estimated 30 resident assistants linked arms, formed two lines and silently stood on each side of the entrance to Emerson Suites. Each student held a different white sign emblazoned with a striking phrase protesting the actions of Public Safety officers during RA training sessions in August 2015 and the ongoing treatment of students of color on campus. “I am not a criminal. I’m a student and also an RA.” “When will you speak to us, not at us?” “Do #BlackLivesMatter to Terri Stewart?” Two Public Safety officers, Sergeant Terry O’Pray and Master Patrol Officer Jon Elmore, made comments described by RAs as “racially insensitive,” “aggressive” and “invalidating” during RA-training sessions Aug. 18. The group of RAs had asked Terri Stewart, director of the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, for an opportunity to address the issue directly with the two officers, but the officers did not attend subsequent meetings. The comment from O’Pray that sparked the RA’s anger was a dismissal of an RA’s concerns about racial profiling, saying that it does not happen at the college. During a simultaneous training session, Elmore and other officers began talking about weapons and
showed the RAs a black BB gun. “[Elmore] said, ‘If I saw someone with this, I would shoot them,’” RA Rita Bunatal said. The comments made by the two officers during the sessions forced two RAs of color to walk out in anger and frustration. An Aug. 25 meeting was planned by Stewart and Bonnie Prunty, director of the Office of Residential Life and Judicial Affairs and assistant dean for first-year experiences, between Public Safety and the Residential Life staff in an attempt to help reconcile the relationship between the two — a meeting that a group of RAs was dissatisfied with. The RAs said they believe not having the officers present in that follow-up meeting demonstrates how the college is not addressing the issue of the treatment of students of color on the college campus. Multiple RAs who are also students of color said they are afraid to call Public Safety, even though it’s often part of their job. The protesters also spoke to The Ithacan about experiences dealing with racially insensitive Public Safety officers as well as officers whom they said they believe profile students of color. An estimated 30 RAs at the Sept. 2 meeting staged a silent protest, refusing to have a conversation with Public Safety until that conversation included all Public Safety officers, including O’Pray and Elmore, Bunatal said.
Prunty said this meeting was supposed to be focused on the RAs who want direct-action steps moving forward between Public Safety and RAs, not those who wanted to address O’Pray directly. Junior Taranjit Singh said none of the RAs who are upset about Public Safety’s comments are looking for direct-action steps before they address O’Pray.
Initial Confrontation At the Aug. 18 training, the college’s RAs were in two separate sessions led by Public Safety officers: one training RAs about what to do if there was an active shooter at the college, the other talking about drugs and weapons on campus. During the active shooter training, Singh said, O’Pray mentioned ISIS and the stereotypical appearances of Muslims but didn’t say that most individuals who commit mass casualty shootings are white males. Singh said this omission, along with the fact that O’Pray didn’t mention the violence of campus police officers against students of color, caused him to speak up. “I posed this question ... ‘Most of the campus violence that does occur in America is between the campus police and students, specifically students of color,’” Singh said. “‘With recently the Cincinnati incident where the campus police officer shot the black student ... what does that mean here on campus? What are we doing here on campus to address that in terms of diversity training?’” Singh was referring to the death of Sam DuBose, who was unarmed when he was killed by University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing during a traffic stop. Tensing was charged with the murder of the 43-year-old DuBose on July 29, 2015. The response from the officer was not what Singh had hoped for. “He took it very personally and basically denied that things like this happen on campus,” he said. “He denied that things like racially profiling exist here.” Singh said he thought the officer then alluded to the arrest of Sandra Bland, a woman who was found dead in a Texas jail after she was arrested for allegedly assaulting an officer during a July 10, 2015, traffic stop and not using a turn signal, when he said, “Every time someone doesn’t turn on a turn signal, I pull them over.” Singh said he then brought up to the officer that students of color at the college had video and audio recordings of aggressive Public Safety officers. “‘You saying that things like that don’t occur on this campus are blatant white privilege and ignorance,’” Singh said he told O’Pray. “There’s a disconnect between campus and students of color on campus, and until we address that, we won’t be able to move forward.” Singh said O’Pray responded “very aggressively” and said toward the end he himself got aggressive as well. Singh was then pulled out by Megan Williams, West Tower residence director.
At the same time during the active shooter response session, Bunatal was sitting in the other session about drugs and weapons on campus.
“When I see Public Safety — when I interact with officers — I get apprehensive. I get very nervous. Yes, it’s protocol to call Public Safety, but I have to think twice about it.”
Bunatal said she was initially upset by what she saw as the “cocky” demeanor of Elmore. Bunatal said Elmore’s comments about shooting someone for having a BB gun made her angry. Specifically, she related it to the police’s killing of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was shot while carrying a black BB gun in November 2014. “Even if we don’t want to know what is going on with Black Lives Matter or the movement or just with police killings of black bodies, you still shouldn’t say something like that,” she said. Bunatal said that as the session neared its end, she began speaking to her friend and fellow RA, Yaw Aidoo. Bunatal and Aidoo
TOMMY BATTISTELLI/THE ITHACAN
both said they were emotionally triggered by Elmore’s comments and walked out of the session. Singh filed a formal complaint against O’Pray, which was being investigated by the Office of Human Resources. Singh said the relationship with Public Safety and students of color is often adversarial. “In the most basic sense, that disconnect and distrust is there with racial profiling and things like that,” Singh said. “Certain folks are quickly pulled to the side.” Bunatal said her speaking with Public Safety worries her. “When I see Public Safety — when I interact with officers — I get apprehensive,” Bunatal said. “I get very nervous. Yes, it’s protocol to call Public Safety, but I have to think twice about it.” Part of this apprehension is caused by an experience Bunatal had in February 2015.
February Incident On Feb. 2, 2015, one of Bunatal’s residents informed her of being racially slurred in an elevator. Bunatal said her resident, a black woman, was in the East Tower elevator when three white male students walked in. The male students were using the N-word in their conversation, which made the resident uncomfortable. As she left the elevator, she said, “Stupid white boys.” One of them responded, “Fucking black bitch.” Bunatal called the RA of the floor on which the men lived and said the RA quickly got a confession from one of his residents. The female resident told Bunatal she was uncomfortable with
calling Public Safety herself. Bunatal then enlisted the support of Singh and Aidoo to help with talking to Public Safety about the incident. When Patrol Officer Eric Willman arrived, he told the resident and the three RAs that no action could be taken without implicating the female resident as well. An audio recording of the incident provided by Bunatal includes a man identified as Willman saying that because the men’s use of the N-word wasn’t directed toward her, the resident couldn’t respond without also risking being judicially referred. Aidoo said the officer was equating the comments made by the female resident to the use of racial and sexist slurs made by the male students. “You cannot compare ‘stupid white boy’ to the comments made by them,” Aidoo said. Bunatal said the incident was an example of Public Safety officers’ not being prepared to handle racial incidents, and Singh said the officer’s actions condoned the linguistic violence from the male students.
Public Safety Response Stewart said Public Safety officers receive ongoing diversity training as part of the college’s nondiscrimination policy. “I’ll reference our recent training, which is, we exercise fair and impartial policing, and that’s where we train,” she said. “And that training really gets down to the science of everyone’s having bias — everyone holds bias. Our job is to provide training for our officers to be able to, one, be aware or acknowledge and, two, take action
TOMMY BATTISTELLI/THE ITHACAN
and be motivated to counteract ... explicit and implicit bias.” O’Pray’s and Elmore’s comments caused Stewart to plan the Aug. 25 meeting between Public Safety and RAs. Stewart wasn’t present for the comments made by the officers, so the meeting was in part to hear the details from the RAs. “In short, we were trying to figure out what happened,” Stewart said. “It was very clear to us that there was an exchange or exchanges between public safety trainers and our residential aids that left our students feeling invalidated and unsupported.” Sophomore RA Anissa Ash said the meeting was supposed to address the initial conflicts between Singh and O’Pray, as well as Elmore’s comments, but the meeting did little to that effect. “Not once in that meeting did we discuss race, did we discuss what happened between Taranjit and Officer O’Pray, and Officer O’Pray himself wasn’t present,” Ash said. Stewart said that at the forum, Public Safety officers tried to share information about themselves, including their training, but it did not go well. “I don’t think the students were at a place where they were ready to hear that at the time, but I do think there is a place for education,” she said. “I think there’s an opportunity. Right now we’re working on the situation we have at hand, but it’s really clear to me there’s an opportunity to provide education and awareness around who we are and what we do.” Bunatal said the meeting “skirted around the issue” and called it a “white-washed event.” “I was absolutely furious,” Bunatal said. “My heart started racing. I wasn’t even doing anything, but my heart was racing — I couldn’t even hear.” Toward the end of the forum, Bunatal decided to speak up after stepping outside of the meeting with Singh. “I don’t talk from my ass. I’m talking from actual experiences that I’ve had on this campus,” Bunatal said. “Some of you have the audacity to say you feel comfortable calling Public Safety or that we should put ourselves in the position of Public Safety officers, when I don’t. … Basically, you’re silencing the stories of other people of color who have had other experiences with Public Safety officers.” Stewart said the event was a failure. “It further left our students feeling like they had questions that needed to be addressed,” Stewart said. “I accept responsibility for part of that, for people still leaving. ... It was a failed attempt.” Following that came an apology from Stewart; Rory Rothman, associate provost for student life; and Roger Richardson, associate provost for diversity, inclusion and engagement, at each of the firstyear RA building staff meetings. “The purpose was that to acknowledge and to apologize for the series of events, including that Tuesday-night forum,” Stewart said. “And to really reassure students that we are committed to resolving this and moving forward.” Ash said she felt the apology was canned. “It felt more like another quick fix instead of addressing the issue,” Ash said. The RAs then began to plan their protest for the Sept. 2 meeting. Also in attendance at the meeting was Benjamin Rifkin, provost and vice president for educational affairs, who provided The Ithacan with a statement regarding the RAs Sept. 1. “In the past year there has been increased attention given to
centuries-old patterns of violence against people of color in our country,” he said in the statement. “It is certainly understandable that Ithaca College community members, especially people of color, women and individuals who identify as LGBTQ, have concerns about their own sense of safety in this larger context. Indeed, recent events on our campus focus our concerns on disrespect here at Ithaca College: much to my dismay, at a recent meeting of Resident Assistants, I heard from a number of people of color that they do not feel safe on our campus. I affirm the college’s expectation that all members of our community, especially our Public Safety officers, are to treat others with respect and compassion.”
Sept. 2 Protest As the RAs held their signs in silence, staff members from Residential Life and Public Safety filed into the Emerson Suites. A couple of the staff members slowly walked through the tunnel the RAs formed, reading each sign. Most quickly walked by and into the closed meeting. “They power-walked by,” Singh said. “All the campus police officers, Provost Rifkin, Terri Stewart, especially, power-walked straight through, uncomfortable as fuck.” As the meeting’s scheduled start time approached, the protesters gathered and walked inside the meeting room as a group. The protesters stood on the periphery of the room, surrounding staff members from Residential Life and Public Safety who were sitting at a set of round tables. Among those sitting were Rifkin, Stewart, Prunty and a handful of Public Safety officers. A Residential Life employee then closed the doors to the meeting. No reporters or photographers were allowed inside. Behind the closed doors, Singh said, the protesters stood in silence looking at those who were sitting. Singh said Richardson broke the silence and began addressing the protesters. RA Ava Bryan said Richardson said protesting was outside the “classroom experience” that was planned for the meeting. Singh said he thought Richardson shifted the accountability onto the RAs and away from Public Safety officers. Bryan said the RAs’ needs haven’t been addressed in their meetings with Public Safety. “All we really have done is asked for our experiences to be validated, and that still has not happened,” she said. None of the RAs who surrounded the room in silence with their signs were talked to or addressed by any of the staff members who were sitting. Bryan said the meeting was over for her when Stewart walked past without looking at the protesters. At 7:26 p.m., the protesting RAs walked out of the meeting after Richardson announced that small-group discussions were going to begin. “At that point, I realized this was another bullshit thing that they were doing,” Singh said. “I won’t have time to say the same thing over and over and over again. ... To tell you the same solutions over and over and over again. And for you to do the same thing like it’s a call to progress, but it’s not. How many times do we have to tell you the same exact thing?”
STUDENTS TELL THEIR STORIES
LAWRENCE Student shares his altercation with Public Safety By Max Denning
Editor’s Note: What follows is the account from an Ithaca College student of his encounter with two Public Safety officers on the night of May 25, 2014. Terri Stewart, director of the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, said she could not comment on the incident, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The records at Ithaca Town Court and the Tompkins County Sheriff ’s Office have been sealed. Around 11 p.m. May 25, 2014, Lawrence*, then an Ithaca College sophomore, was tackled by an officer from the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management while another forced his hands behind his back because he did not take them out of his pockets. Lawrence was cuffed, read his rights and placed in the back of a Public Safety vehicle. Public Safety transported him to their offices, took his mugshot and fingerprints, and cuffed him to a chair in their holding cell. Three hours later, a Public Safety supervisor apologized to him for the disturbance. He was released and issued an appearance ticket listing his charges — obstructing governmental procedure and resisting arrest. Six months later, all charges against Lawrence were dropped. It’s a late, chillier-than-usual evening in May. Lawrence keeps his hands in the pockets of his shorts to stay warm. Lawrence is tall, 6 feet 2 inches pushing 6 feet 3 inches, and weighs more than 180 pounds. He has a scruffy goatee that hides his otherwise boyish face. He is also black. He was born in Ghana but now lives in the Bronx and is a permanent resident of the U.S. Lawrence is a sophomore at the college, staying in the Circle Apartments
with his friend while he looks for employment in Ithaca for the summer. At about 9 p.m., he orders Chinese food from Apollo Chinese Restaurant. The friend he was living with warns Lawrence that the restaurant’s drivers often attempted to force students to tip drivers. Lawrence, wearing basketball shorts, a tank top and walking barefoot, answers the door to retrieve his food from the delivery man. He opens the door, and the delivery man holds up the receipt for Lawrence to sign, which he quickly does. While Lawrence reaches for his food, the delivery man quickly points to the receipt and says, “Tip, tip, tip.” Lawrence then tells the delivery driver he’s not going to tip him and that tips are optional. The delivery driver insists that Lawrence tip him, holding the food out of Lawrence’s reach. The delivery man continues to argue with Lawrence about the tip, so Lawrence’s friend comes to the door as well. At that point, Lawrence snatches the food from the driver. Lawrence’s friend also starts arguing with the driver, saying that the
“I just want to tell these guys this is actually what’s happening. The reason this guy is here is because I did not tip him. ... I was going to tell them actually what’s happening. Frankly, at the beginning, I thought it was kind of funny.”
restaurant often harasses students for tips. Lawrence leaves his entryway to place the Chinese food on his kitchen table. Lawrence’s friend and the delivery man continue to argue outside. The friend and the driver are near the driver’s car when, Lawrence said, the driver claimed his friend struck the delivery car with his hand multiple times. Paul, the driver, told The Ithacan Lawrence and his friend got aggressive. “I worried that those guys attack me,” Paul said. Paul said he feared for his life. Lawrence denies his friend ever hit the car. The driver then proceeds to call 911. As the delivery man calls 911, Lawrence’s friend tells him he is going inside and that Lawrence should come with him. Lawrence decides to stay outside and wait for the officers. “I just want to tell these guys this is actually what’s happening,” Lawrence said. “The reason why this guy is here right now is not because of my friend. The reason this guy is here is because I did not tip him. … I was going to tell them actually what’s happening.” “Frankly, at the beginning, I thought it was kind of funny.” Two of the college’s Public Safety officers, Steve Rounds and Eric Willman, who has since taken another job, arrive on the scene
shortly after the call is made, which Lawrence estimates was at about 11 p.m. Lawrence is standing on the sidewalk, with his hands in his pockets, a couple of yards to the right of the staircase that leads up to the apartment, Circle 211-01, where he was staying. The delivery man is standing near his car, parked just a few yards away. As they arrive, Rounds begins heading toward the apartment as Willman heads toward the delivery man. Rounds walks past Lawrence, ignoring him, and begins climbing the small set of stairs up to the apartment when Lawrence calls out to him. Lawrence estimates he was about 2.5 yards away from the officer when he first called out to him. “Officer, officer, can I speak to you for a second?” Rounds is past the stairs, a couple of yards from the door, when he turns around and walks purposefully down the hill to the left of the stairs. He makes his way to the sidewalk where Lawrence is standing. He’s about a yard away from Lawrence when he barks an order. “Take your hands out of your pocket.” Lawrence said he was scared, and began to pull them out of his pocket, revealing his thumbs to the officer, but then he questioned the decision. “Why, why should I do that?” Lawrence responds. Rounds, standing still, yells at Lawrence again. “Take your hands out of your pocket.” Lawrence said he was worried about pulling his hands out of his pocket, worried he would end up like other black men who have put their hands up and been shot by police officers who claim they see a gun. His posture becomes timid. Rounds gives Lawrence the order again. “Take your hands out of your pocket.” Lawrence questions the officer again, and Rounds responds with force. Rounds grabs Lawrence’s left hand and pulls it out of his pocket, twisting it behind his back. Rounds reaches for Lawrence’s other pocket and simultaneously turns Lawrence so he is facing the grassy hill leading up toward the Circles apartment. Lawrence calls out in pain. “I was screaming, ‘Ah! Ah! My wrist, my wrist.’” Lawrence is then tackled at full force by Willman, whose shoulder and chest crash into his back, and both officers topple him to the ground. They both shuffle with Lawrence’s arms and put him in handcuffs. He said he was in no way resisting. Lawrence is then sat on the curb by one of the officers as the other goes to speak to the delivery driver. At this point, Lawrence’s friend comes out and begins recording the interaction between Lawrence and the officer. Below is a transcript of their interactions. Lawrence: I should stay down? Rounds: Yes. L: Take, take a video. I haven’t done anything. R: I asked you to take your hands out of your pockets, and you didn’t. L: I asked you why you asked me to take my hands out of
NEWS my pockets. R: Because I don’t know you. L: I don’t know you either. I’m from New York City. Do you know what cops do to me? R: Do you have any weapons on you? L: Do I look like I have weapons on me? R: I’m asking you. L: You guys tackled me to the ground and put my hands on my back and cuffed me. I asked you what you did to me, and you didn’t tell me anything. You told me nothing. You told me nothing. Lawrence sits on the curb for what he estimates is about 10 more minutes. The officers then reads him his Miranda rights and puts him in the back of their vehicle. Lawrence is then taken to the Public Safety office. They take his mugshot and fingerprints. Medical personnel from the college check Lawrence’s wrist that was twisted behind his back by Rounds. They ask him if he wants to go to the clinic. He says no. They then handcuff him to a chair. After an estimated three hours, Lawrence says, a Public Safety supervisor comes in and apologizes. “He said, ‘Sorry for the disruption.’” It’s around 2 a.m., and Lawrence doesn’t want to talk. Lawrence is released soon after and given two sheets of paper detailing his charges: obstruction of governmental administration and resisting arrest. Lawrence goes to court multiple times over the next month with his public defender. He is never written up by the Office of Judicial Affairs and never speaks to anyone on campus about the actions of the officers. He is still allowed to live on campus during the summer while he works at Wegmans. In December 2014, the charges against Lawrence are dropped. Meanwhile, both Rounds and Willman continue their jobs as patrol officers at the college. Lawrence said he thinks the officers’ actions toward him were racially motivated. When asked if he thought this would happen to him if he were a white student, Lawrence said no. “No, maybe if I was drunk or maybe if I was shouting at the cop,” he said. “I’m not even sure if it would have happened if I was [a] smaller, shorter black student.” Lawrence said his identity as a minority student on the college campus led to the incident. “I feel like I’m a certain image that people on this campus aren’t necessarily familiar with,” he said. According to a LinkedIn profile with the name Eric Willman attached, Willman spent two years and three months as a Public Safety officer at the college. In May 2015, Willman’s profile indicates, he started as a deputy sheriff at the Tompkins County Sheriff ’s Office, where he is currently employed. Willman did not respond to a request for a comment left on his voicemail at the Sheriff ’s Office. The Sheriff ’s Office did not respond to a request for
comment either. Terri Stewart, director of Public Safety, said from an estimated 1,300 case reports in the 2014 fiscal year, there were fewer than 10 cases in which Public Safety officers reported they used force, which includes any time officers use their hands to control the subject, not just for arresting the subject. Stewart said the office would not share how many of those cases involved students of color but that conversations will be had at the college regarding what data to release in the future. Public Safety has begun manually tracking the data on the demographics of students who are judicially referred or have an encounter with Public Safety, Stewart said, but its system is not yet set up to comprehensively track this data. Public Safety has not disclosed any of the data it currently has collected, Stewart said. Stewart also said that every time force is used, she reviews it. “Every use of force application requires a form and review on the administrative level,” she said. “So I see every use of force that we have. And the applications range from mental health to ambulance.” In December 2014, Lawrence said, the prosecutor offered an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. The adjournment in contemplation of dismissal stipulated the case would be adjourned for six months if Lawrence stayed out of legal trouble. If six months passed without an incident, the case would be dismissed, and the record of the arrest would be sealed. Six months passed, and the arrest records were sealed. When The Ithacan requested the documents from the Tompkins County Sheriff ’s Office, the Ithaca Town Court and the Office of Public Safety all said there is no record currently on file. Incident reports produced by the Office of Public Safety are not public records, Stewart said. The only public record that exists of that event is in the Public Safety Activity Log. Below is the log of the event. “OBSTRUCTION OF GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION 140614 Location: CIRCLE LOT Summary: Tompkins County 911 Center Advised Ithaca College Public Safety about a reported dispute over a food delivery. One person arrested for obstructing governmental procedure and resisting arrest. Officer issued the person an appearance ticket for the town of Ithaca Court and person was referred judicially. Patrol Officer Steve Rounds.” Lawrence said he believes his main mistake was initiating the conversation with the officer. “I shouldn’t have asked him anything,” he said, and then he plays through the event as it would ideally go. “This shouldn’t happen here,” Lawrence said. “This shouldn’t happen on a college campus.” Lawrence looks away. He’s tearing up. He slowly rotates his wrist as he has throughout the entire conversation about the incident. “It hurts still.” *Names have been changed to protect anonymity.
STUDENTS TELL THEIR STORIES “We all felt each other’s pain.” By Kira Maddox Terri Stewart, director of the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, failed to respond to numerous attempts to contact her for comment. Michael Leary, assistant director of the Office of Judicial Affairs, declined to comment on this incident, saying reports fall under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. Philip Garin, a paralegal in the Division of Human and Legal Resources, declined to confirm, deny or comment on this incident’s being reported under Title IX, citing FERPA.
Seniors Jennifer Spearman, left, and Jasmine Spearman, right, were handcuffed by Public Safety officers Oct. 26, 2013, after a party in their Circles apartment was broken up by Public Safety.
Jennifer Spearman had a group over to their Circle apartment for a party. Music was playing, and people were dancing. Somewhere between 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m., Brooks said, a Public Safety officer entered the apartment uninvited through the back screen door along with two members of the Student Auxiliary Safety Patrol. Brooks said she did not believe entering their home without consent was allowed. According to the Ithaca College Residential Agreement, the college “has the right to enter the apartments and rooms to respond to emergencies, provide repairs or maintenance and/or enforce college policies.” Spearman and Johnston said the officer later claimed he had entered the apartment because he smelled marijuana, but both of them said there was none. The beam of the officer’s flashlight combed the living room as students rushed to leave through the front door of the apartOn Oct. 26, 2013, roommates Monifa ment, Brooks said. About five to 10 students Brooks ’15, Sawu Johnston ’14, and cur- who did not live at the residence did not rent seniors Jasmine Spearman and make it out in time and stayed in the living On Oct. 26, 2013, between 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m., Ithaca College students Jasmine and Jennifer* Spearman got into a physical altercation with two Public Safety officers after the officers entered their Circles apartment to investigate a noise complaint. Jasmine said she was pushed up against a wall in the apartment and handcuffed and said her sister was shoved onto one of the apartment’s couches, where Master Patrol Officer Brad Bates proceeded to kneel on her back and handcuff her. Jennifer’s lip was split open in the altercation. They were written up, and Jennifer was ticketed for disorderly conduct. After bringing the incident to Judicial Affairs, Jasmine said the charges — the noise complaint write-up and the disorderly conduct ticket — were dropped.
PHOTO COURTESY OF JASMINE SPEARMAN
room as Brooks and her roommates — all young, black women — were told to sit on one of the couches. Brooks, Johnston and Spearman said they complied. “I turn on the lights, we’re all sitting down — there’s a couple people in our house who weren’t really a part of it, but they also sat down,” Brooks said. “And we’re waiting for them to take our names and take our ID numbers and tell us what we’re getting written up for.” Then the officer said he was calling in more officers. “Before he could do any of that, he said, ‘I’m outnumbered. I’m calling for backup,’” Brooks said. “Mind you, we’re all maybe — no one’s taller than maybe 5’6” at the most, and we’re all petite girls. Everyone is sitting down. Everybody’s complying to what is asked of us.” Johnston expressed similar feelings, noting the size advantage the officer had on them. “Me and all my roommates, we’re
NEWS probably like 5’3”, 5’2”, and this dude was probably like 6’2”, ” Johnston said. “He looks at all of us and says, ‘I need backup.’ And we’re like ‘...What?’” While Brooks said in total there was an estimate of about 15 people in the living room, the officer was primarily speaking to her and her roommates. Regardless, she said, she did not understand why someone would need backup to write up noise complaint violations. “It made absolutely no sense to us,” Brooks said. Spearman said it only took a few moments for two other officers to arrive. Both Brooks and Spearman said this was when the situation escalated.
“We went to the door and said, ‘We don’t consent to letting these people into our house, so tell us what we’re getting written up for, take our names and leave,’” Brooks said. “Those are the procedures that they do. I’ve been to many parties where they say ‘Everybody leave,’ and then the owners are there, they write them up, do whatever and they leave peacefully.” Johnston said other than feeling that they had a right to withhold consent from the entry, gender also played a part in their apprehension to letting in more officers. “You have to think about the situation,” Johnston said. “We’re all girls, we’re all dressed in skirts and stuff like that, and we didn’t feel comfortable with that many big guys. … We just thought that that was kind of odd that so many men need to be in the house when honestly there were about four of us sitting on the couch waiting to be written up.” Brooks, Spearman and Johnston said two additional officers shoved the door open, and this is when Spearman said the force of the door pushed her into the wall adjacent to the apartment door, and she was immediately handcuffed by an officer. Spearman said they were aggressively interrogated about underage drinking and their music volume. While the official Public Safety log of the event states that one of the officers was pushed on the scene, both Brooks and Johnston said none of the apartment residents touched the officers, though Johnston said there was some resistance. “One of them was talking to Jennifer, and he told her to turn around, and I think the only thing was that they were refusing,” Johnston said. “[The officers] made it seem like what they said was law and that we had to listen to them, and it was just, they thought it was unfair, and that’s when one of the cops pushed down Jennifer into the couch and busted her lip.” Brooks said she was not handcuffed but said she was very afraid of what was happening and what might happen to her. Spearman described Monifa Brooks ’15 on the day of her graduation. it as “chaotic” as the women continPHOTO COURTESY OF MONIFA BROOKS ued to try to argue their rights to
the officers. “I was put in handcuffs, and my sister was shoved headfirst into a couch where the officer busted her lip and then, for some
“It was very emotional and straining on us, and we didn’t feel safe. You kind of don’t want to go to those people who also treated you wrong when something happens to you.”
reason, wanted to charge her a ticket for disorderly conduct,” Spearman said. Brooks said she didn’t remember Spearman’s sister saying anything to the officer to prompt such a response, other than asking him to get off her: “I’m already in handcuffs. I can’t do anything. I can’t move.” The situation de-escalated almost as quickly as it erupted. Spearman said the officers asked them a number of questions, like who they had over and if there had been smoking or drinking. They wrote the women up with two Judicial Affairs referrals for criminal conduct, failure to comply and harassment, and left. Spearman said her sister was taken outside, seated in the back of a patrol car and ticketed for disorderly conduct before being uncuffed. Terri Stewart, director of the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, failed to respond to numerous attempts to contact her for comment. The official entry to the college’s Public Safety log, which shows the officer’s version of events, reads: DISORDERLY CONDUCT 130918 Location: CIRCLE APARTMENTS Summary: WHILE ASSISTING ANOTHER OFFICER ON NOISE COMPLAINT, PERSON PUSHED AND INTERFERED WITH OFFICER. OFFICER ISSUED APPEARANCE TICKET FOR THE TOWN OF ITHACA COURT FOR DISORDERLY CONDUCT AND PERSON JUDICIAL-
LY REFERRED FOR CRIMINAL CONDUCT, FAILURE TO COMPLY AND HARASSMENT. A SECOND PERSON WAS JUDICIALLY REFERRED FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY AND HARASSMENT. (MPO BRAD BATES). Spearman said they talked about it for the rest of the night. “I don’t think it has a lasting effect on them as much as it does us,” Spearman said. “We all felt each other’s pain. … It was very emotional and straining on us, and we didn’t feel safe. You kind of don’t want to go to those people who also treated you wrong when something happens to you. … We were a bunch of small girls against these 6-foot-something men, 100 pounds easy heavier than us, so I kind of think ‘What makes you think you should push this woman into the couch for no reason?’” Brooks said she also felt the officers abused their authority and said they needlessly escalated the situation. “We were the ones that were outnumbered, in a sense,” Brooks said. “You don’t just come at girls forcefully because they’re telling you, ‘We don’t allow you to come into our house. Don’t touch us. You’re not supposed to. Don’t put your hands on me. I didn’t put my hands on you.’” Brooks and Spearman said they brought the issue up to Judicial Affairs and were given an apology and told the college dropped the charges. Michael Leary of the Office of Judicial Affairs declined to comment, saying such matters are considered private and protected under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. Brooks also said they brought it up as a Title IX complaint, but no significant follow-up was made. Philip Garin, a paralegal in the Division of Human and Legal Resources, declined to confirm, deny or comment on this incident’s being reported under Title IX, citing FERPA. The college’s Office of Legal Affairs declined to comment, confirm or deny that it received an incident report, saying all reports under Title IX are private and protected under FERPA. “It doesn’t add up to me whenever I think about it,” Brooks said. “I don’t get it. I won’t ever get it.” *Jennifer Spearman was not able to be reached for comment.
Rochon proposes new Public Safety changes By Aidan Quigley
In response to campuswide discussions regarding alleged racial aggression by Public Safety officers, President Tom Rochon acknowledged the issue in a statement to the campus community Sept. 6, 2015, and announced Ithaca College is planning on creating a new community review board for the campus to report Public Safety concerns and is researching the purchase of body cameras for officers. In a statement, Rochon said it was a “college-wide issue that needs ongoing attention.” According to the announcement, the review board would be an impartial avenue to report concerns. Both officers and students suggested to Rochon that body cameras be purchased, he said. Resident assistants have been protesting alleged racial aggression by Public Safety officers, stemming from experiences of members of the African, Latino, Asian and Native American community on campus and two comments made by officers during the RA training Aug. 18, 2015. According to RAs who attended the meeting, Sargeant Terry O’Pray said racial profiling does not occur at the college, and Officer Jon Elmore showed RAs several weapons, and when he showed a black BB gun, he said he would shoot anyone he saw with one on campus, implying that it was indistinguishable from a real gun. RAs said they believe this
alluded to the November 2014 shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was shot while carrying a black BB gun. A group of RAs requested to directly address O’Pray and Elmore, but neither has been made directly available to them in two subsequent meetings, one held Aug. 25, 2015, and the other held Sept. 2, 2015. RAs protested the Sept. 2 meeting. R o c h o n said the college expects all members of the campus community to treat others with r e s p e c t , compassion and more empathy. “This applies especially to Public Safety officers and all others in positions of authority,” he said. “Ithaca College is an environment for learning — for open and thoughtful interaction with each other. Incidents of bias and racism, while unacceptable in any setting, are especially intolerable on our college campus.” In the announcement, Rochon acknowledged that the college needs to do better. “It is not enough to say that issues of disrespect, insensitivity and racial bias exist everywhere,” he said. “We need, all of us, to do better in adopting an empathetic, humble listening posture on the experiences and perceptions we each bring to our learning community. It is only in this way that Ithaca College will become the community of learning, personal growth and mutual respect that it is intended to be.”
“It is not enough to say that issues of disrespect, insensitivity and racial bias exist everywhere. We need, all of us, to do better in adopting an empathetic ... listening posture.”
FALLOUT CONTINUES FROM BLUE SKY KICKOFF By Ana Borruto
The Ithaca College Faculty Council met Oct. 20, 2015, to talk about the Oct. 8 Blue Sky Reimagining Kick-Off event, which students and faculty members have called racially insensitive and exclusive. The kickoff had some faculty questioning the initiative. The initiative was a ground-up revisioning of the institution’s goals and mission. The kickoff was the first event where the college community tried to answer the question, “If we could design an immersive learning community from scratch, one created specifically to provide the richest possible educational experience to our students, what would that look like?” Rochon announced the Blue Sky initiative in March 2015. The Faculty Council meeting was an executive session, which meant only council members could attend. An open session originally scheduled to follow the executive session was subsequently canceled. The Faculty Council sent a letter Oct. 21 to President Tom Rochon and Benjamin Rifkin, provost and vice president for educational affairs, about the Blue Sky event, Peter Rothbart, chair of the Faculty Council, said. Rothbart refused to discuss the content of the letter. The kickoff was headlined by a panel of alumni, moderated by Bob Kur ’70, a former NBC News correspondent. The members of the panel were J. Christopher Burch ’76, CEO of Burch Creative Capital and co-founder of the Tory Burch women’s fashion label; Tatiana Sy ’09, director of special events at the Downtown Ithaca Alliance; and Will VanDyke ’05, director of digital accounts at Warner Music Group. Near the beginning of the discussion, when describing her undergraduate experience, Sy said she had a “savage hunger” to make her professional career happen. Shortly after Sy’s comment, Burch referred to her as “the
TOMMY BATTISTELLI/THE ITHACAN
savage” in the course of his remarks. Kur also referred to her using the phrase. Near the end of the event, while Burch was talking about empathy in education, he referred to Sy as “the savage” a second time. She interrupted him and said, “All right, I mean,” before nervously laughing, adjusting in her seat and looking down. Burch, noticing she was uncomfortable, quickly responded and said he was complimenting her. “I think you’re an amazing young woman, or I wouldn’t give you that nickname,” Burch said. Kur followed up with “She gave herself that nickname.” “Right, right, right,” Sy said while looking down at her hands. One Oxford English Dictionary definition of the word savage is “A person living in a wild state; a member of a people regarded as primitive and uncivilized.” A footnote to the definition states “Now usu[ally] avoided as offensive, except in historical reference to the language or attitudes of the past.” The dictionary contains no definition of the word as a noun that could be interpreted as positive. After the exchange, audience members began talking among themselves. Sy told The Ithacan she and some audience members were troubled by the repeated use of “the savage” in reference to her. “It was uncomfortable for everybody in the room,” Sy said. “It was awkward because anytime something completely gets pulled out of the context it was meant for, especially with language as sensitive as that — it was awkward for everyone.” Sy said she thought the repeated comments were microaggressions. She also said she wouldn’t assume the comments were racially charged. Of the approximately 200 members of the college community who attended Blue Sky Reimagining, about 30 were students.
On Oct. 9, senior Dominick Recckio, Student Government Association president, sent an open letter to the college’s administration in which he said the event was “antithetical to the college’s mission.” “I for one do not consent to the future of the Ithaca College experience being built on racist and exclusive events like the Blue Sky kickoff,” Recckio wrote in his letter. Recckio said he decided to send the letter because of how exclusive he felt the event was. “It just strikes me that their huge initiative is so exclusive,” he said. “The part that just throws it all off is the racist and sexist nature of the event. Calling Sy a savage was just completely unacceptable.” Senior Imani Hall, who was at the event, said the use of the word made him uncomfortable. “It shows a very limited critical and cultural understanding of history and oppression,” Hall said. Cornell Woodson ’09, associate director for diversity and inclusion at the Cornell University School of Industrial Labor Relations, said the repeated use of the term made him upset. “It really pissed me off that no one on that panel was smart enough to acknowledge how problematic it was that two white men were referring to a woman of color as a savage,” Woodson said. Woodson said he didn’t think Burch or Kur understood that what they were saying was racially insensitive. The Office of J. Christopher Burch at Burch Creative Capital released a statement Oct. 12. “Mr. Burch is extraordinarily disheartened and saddened to learn that his comments at the October 8 panel discussion were
interpreted as derogatory or offensive by some in the campus community,” the statement said. “He sincerely admires Tatiana Sy and her extraordinary achievements and has reached out today to apologize to her directly. In response to Ms. Sy describing her own ‘savage hunger’ to succeed, Mr. Burch applauded her as an example of someone who has a drive that propels her to success. He did not intend to be insensitive and could not be more apologetic if it was perceived as such by Ms. Sy or the community.” Claire Gleitman, professor in the Department of English, who attended the first hour of the event, said she thought someone should have stopped Burch and Kur from referring to Sy in such a way. “Though it seems highly doubtful that they consciously intended this as a racial slur, surely they should have recognized that it came across as one, particularly when Ms. Sy showed evident discomfort,” she said. “When the slur was repeated not once but several times, I think someone should have gotten up and intervened.” Sy also said she wishes someone would have intervened. Rochon and Rifkin released a statement Oct. 12 apologizing for the comments. In the statement, Rochon said he apologized to the “alumna to whom the comments were addressed” immediately following the event. “We regret that what was intended to be a visionary moment for our community was diminished by insensitive comments,” the statement said. “In general, the college cannot prevent the use of hurtful language on campus. Such language, intentional or unintentional, exists in the world and will seep into our community.” Kur declined a request to comment.
Students upset about racially charged party theme By Max Denning Ithaca College students and alumni expressed frustration on social media after an unaffiliated fraternity at the college sent out a Facebook event Oct. 9, 2015, for a party with what they are calling a racially charged theme. The unaffiliated fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi advertised the event as a “Preps & Crooks” party to be held the night of Oct. 10 on South Aurora Street. The Facebook event for the party stated the dress code is a required choice between “Preps” or “Crooks.” According to the event, the “Crooks” “refers to a more ’90’s thuggish style. Come wearing a bandana, baggy sweats and a tshirt, snapback, and any ‘bling’ you can find!” On the other hand, the invitation stated the “Preps” category is “self explanatory; come wearing your favorite Polo shirt, button down, backwards baseball cap, khakis or boat shoes!” The event was subsequently canceled. There have been many fraternity
parties at colleges and universities across the country with racially charged themes that have garnered media attention in the past two years. Most recently, the Los Angeles Times reported students at the University of California, Los Angeles, protested Oct. 8 after the Sigma Epsilon fraternity hosted a “Kanye Western” party, in which many of the attendees dressed in costumes that exaggerated racial stereotypes. Senior Matt Constas, who lives in the house where the party was supposed to take place, said only one AEPi member lives there and that this would have been the first AEPi party hosted at the address. Another resident of the house said none of the residents were informed of the theme of the party before its being posted on Facebook. Sophomore Sophia Conger, who was invited to the event, read the description and thought it was problematic. “I just didn’t like the way they defined what a crook was,” Conger said. “I thought there were a lot of racist, sexist undertones with the event.”
STUDENTS PROTEST RACISM, EXPRESS NO CONFIDENCE IN TOM ROCHON By Max Denning
AMANDA DEN HARTOG/THE ITHACAN
More than 200 Ithaca College students, faculty and staff gathered at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 21, 2015, around Free Speech Rock to protest against racism on campus and to demand action from administration, with a number of members of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees in the audience. Senior Elijah Breton led the crowd in two chants. “Tom Rochon,” he yelled while standing on top of the short brick wall that surrounds Free Speech Rock. “No confidence,” the crowd of students and a handful of faculty and staff members called back. President Tom Rochon stood in the crowd, no more than 5 yards from Breton. “No more dialogue,” Breton yelled. “We want action,” the crowd responded. A number of students spoke at the event, all touching on their experiences as students of color on campus. Each person who spoke to the crowd talked about being sick of talking about these issues and demanded specific action from the administration. Some of the individuals who spoke at the protest circulated a document titled “Concerned Students’ List of Demands,” which called for Rochon to address issues regarding race and discrimination with “tangible action.” Members of the board of trustees, Rochon and every vice president of the college were in attendance. The protest followed two events that angered many members of the college community. At the Blue Sky Reimagining Kick-Off event Oct. 8, racially charged statements were made toward an African-American alumna, causing many people in the room to be uncomfortable and wonder why no one intervened. The next day, many students were invited via Facebook to an off-campus “Preps and Crooks”–themed party hosted by AEPi, an unaffiliated fraternity. However, the list of demands made clear that these events
weren’t the only issues: “We would also like to clarify that the events highlighted above are not to be treated as isolated incidents and should in turn be treated as the results of a bubbling racial issue that has gone unanswered under President Thomas Rochon.” Attached to the demands was a letter from a student who left the AEPi fraternity. The letter stated that although he cannot speak on behalf of the fraternity, he wanted to offer a personal apology and invited members of the community to speak to him. Senior Eddy Tapia, sophomore Ava Bryan, freshman Marissa Booker and Breton helped lead the event. “We are all tired. We are exhausted of waking up every day with the racism, ignorance that is going on on this campus,” Breton said. Bryan and Breton both declined requests to be interviewed. A handful of other students took the stage to also talk about their experiences. Each one was clearly fed up with what was called a lack of action from administration and continued racial bias on campus. Throughout the event, Breton demanded that the board of trustees and administrators take action. “To the administration and the board of trustees, I hope this … brought light to what is going on on this campus. But I hope that it made you feel uncomfortable standing here because if you feel uncomfortable, imagine how uncomfortable we feel living,” Breton said before being interrupted by applause. Multiple trustees declined requests to comment on the event. Near the end of the event, Booker told the crowd that there would be a meeting for students to talk about direct action steps in the near future. Breton ended the event by leading the crowd in the same chants. “Tom Rochon. ” “No Confidence.” “No more dialogue.” “We want action.”
SEIZING THE STAGE RACIAL CLIMATE ON CAMPUS EVENT INTERRUPTED BY STUDENT PROTESTORS
YANA MAZURKEVICH/THE ITHACAN
By Max Denning Approximately 40 students, led by members of the POC at IC group, took the stage Oct. 27, 2015, during Ithaca College’s “Addressing Community Action on Racism and Cultural Bias” event and expressed no confidence in President Tom Rochon. Following rallies about the racial climate on campus and protesters’ demands for “action” rather than “dialogue,” the leadership of the college created the event to lay out its planned actions in response to issues of racism and cultural bias. Susan Bassett, director of the Office of Intercollegiate Athletics, canceled afternoon practices for all fall varsity athletics, excluding men’s and women’s soccer, which had a game the next day, so athletes could attend the event. POC at IC stands for People of Color at Ithaca College, and is a group that emerged a week before the event after controversies about the college’s differing responses to a racially themed off-campus fraternity party and race-related comments made by an alumnus at one of its own panel discussions. These events, coupled with a history of microaggressions and other negative experiences reported by African, Latino, Asian and Native American students at the college, have led to students’ calling for more administrative accountability. The students chanted, “Tom Rochon: No confidence,” as they got up from their seats in the audience and walked to the stage. Two students came down the center aisle leading the chants with two small megaphones in hand. After students jammed themselves onto the stage, sophomore Ava Bryan was the first member of the group to take the megaphone. “We are here today to discuss an issue that we have talked about time and time again,” Bryan said. “We keep having these conversations that have gotten us nowhere. The administration desires a timely sense of urgency to allow the ALANA voices to be heard through events like town hall meetings. We know all too well that these timely efforts have only consisted in the silencing of voices on this campus.” Bryan urged students to vote “no” in the Student Government
Association’s vote of no confidence. She then introduced members of POC at IC, who gave reasons for why they would be voting “no confidence.” Seven students — junior Paola Ayala, junior Tate Johnson, sophomore Gabby Malave, freshman Damiano Malvasio, junior Kimberly Nicolas, sophomore Marlena Candelario Romero and sophomore Denise Terrell — then passed around the microphone, each citing reasons why Rochon was no longer fit to be president of the college. They brought up the college’s responses to the Blue Sky event and the AEPi party description; the lack of response to an alum’s undergraduate research in 2011 into the racial climate at the college and how to fix it; a lack of response and the delay in releasing the results of the campus-climate survey administered in 2012; and a lack of accountability from Rochon surrounding race issues on campus. All students ended their remarks with “because of that, we have no confidence in you.” After concluding its comments, POC at IC said it would be holding its own meetings to discuss its demands. Students then said the meeting was over and invited audience members to walk out with them in solidarity. About half the audience of an estimated 3,000 people left, including faculty members, chanting the ubiquitous “Tom Rochon: No confidence.” After the group was out of the building, Rochon stood behind the microphone again. “We have been given some great, vivid, powerful illustrations of why now is the time to act,” Rochon said. Rochon and five other speakers — Chris Biehn, vice president for institutional advancement and communication; Dominick Recckio, SGA president; Sean Reilley, chair of the Staff Council; Benjamin Rifkin, provost and vice president for educational affairs; and Peter Rothbart, chair of the Faculty Council — then laid out what Rochon called their “ambitious action agenda.” Each speaker talked about the actions for his respective sections of the campus community. Reilley, Rothbart and Recckio all laid out plans for an increase in cross-cultural training for students,
staff, faculty, volunteers and trustees. Rifkin announced the college would be expanding its efforts to recruit and retain diverse faculty, including expanding the School of Humanities and Sciences’ predoctoral Faculty Fellowship Program to all schools. Rochon then took the podium and talked about changes to the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, including announcing the external review of the office in Spring 2016 and that body cameras would be implemented in Fall 2016. Rochon ended his remarks by talking about accountability for the process, promising it would be transparent and saying the relevant vice presidents would conduct an annual review of outcomes for each of the goals. Rochon then took questions from the audience, which lasted more than two hours. Students’ reactions to the event varied. Sophomore Sarah Vengen, who stayed for the Q&A session, said she didn’t think Rochon was acting quickly enough. “I’m glad that Rochon seems to be taking steps,” she said. “I don’t think they’re as immediate as they could be, though.” Senior Eli Gobrecht, who plays men’s lacrosse, said he thought the event alienated the athletic community. “We wanted to hear what they had to say and what the president had to say and what the provost did, too,” Gobrecht said. “When they walked out, they said ‘As far as we’re concerned this meeting is over.’ We couldn’t walk out because we were there with our coaches, and we were told to be there, and we wanted to hear both sides of the issue. They basically left us more confused than we were in the first place when all we went to do there was to get informed.” Rochon said he would have preferred to have the entire room
there for the whole meeting. “I have no control over that, and I’m not going to judge other people’s own judgments and actions,” he said. Junior Michaela Yaw, who stayed for the Q&A session, said she hoped Rochon would apologize. “The one thing I was incredibly disappointed to see was that there was no apology,” Yaw said. “This has been going on for so long, so you would think there would be one.” Freshman Candace Cross said she left the event because she got what she needed from POC at IC. “Honestly, before going, I didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “I went to get the history on the event. POC clarified things for me, so I left.” Sophomore Alison Hartley said she thought the event was a good effort but that there were some things she thought needed to be done differently. “I thought it was a good idea that just things could have been done a little differently,” Hartley said. “I think everyone just needs to listen to each other. Because a conversation is a two-way street, and in order to be heard, you have to listen also. I think this event definitely forced Tom Rochon and students to listen to what was going on on campus.” Rochon said he did not agree with sentiments that he needed to resign. When asked about what steps he would take if students or faculty voted “no confidence,” Rochon refused to speculate. “At this point, I’m just focused on my leadership responsibilities for Ithaca College,” Rochon said. “It’s speculative what the outcome of a vote would be, and I would assess at that time.”
Ithaca College faculty and staff hold up signs expressing their lack of confidence in President Tom Rochon and solidarity with POC at IC during the college’s “Addressing Community Action on Racism and Cultural Bias” event Oct. 27, 2015. YANA MAZURKEVICH/THE ITHACAN
YANA MAZURKEVICH/THE ITHACAN
SOLIDARITY WALKOUT MORE THAN 1,000 PROTEST IN SUPPORT OF POC AT IC By Aidan Quigley and Max Denning Student protesters demanded the resignation of Ithaca College President Tom Rochon and said they refused to work with him on diversity initiatives during a protest Nov. 11, 2015, that drew more than 1,000 members of the campus community to Free Speech Rock. The demonstration featured an approximately 25-minute “diein” on the Academic Quad. The protest was led by POC at IC, which stands for People of Color at Ithaca College, a group that emerged about three weeks before the protest surrounding concerns about the college’s responses to race-related incidents. About 20 members of POC at IC, most wearing black and gold “Fist of Solidarity” shirts designed by senior Rita Bunatal, lined up with their arms linked before members of the group spoke. Three speakers addressed the crowd: sophomore Brittany Gardner, sophomore Tyler Reighn and senior Zaira Gomez. Gardner began the event by leading the crowd in a chant of “Tom Rochon: No confidence.” She then said the walkout was in solidarity with students of color at the University of Missouri, Yale University, Smith College and across the country.
Reighn then said POC at IC had no desire to work within the “broken structure” of the college and that the group refused to work with Rochon. Gomez then took the megaphone and reiterated that the group refused to work with Rochon and wanted him to resign or be removed. She said the group wanted radical, transformative change in governance and structure at the college and to bring a sense of safety and dignity to campus. At the beginning of the die-in, hundreds of participants chanted “Tom Rochon: No confidence.” This was followed by a 15-minute period of silence in solidarity with people of color at other college campuses who face similar struggles. The silence was then ended, and members of POC at IC led chants of “Tom Rochon: No confidence” while walking back to Free Speech Rock. When they were back at Free Speech Rock, members of the group led chants of “Amandla: Awethu,” a South African chant meaning “power to the people.”
The group then ended the rally with the same chant that had been heard at every protest during the previous three weeks. “Tom Rochon: No confidence.” POC at IC released a statement that called Rochon’s removal strategic, saying “it brings the campus community directly into administrative affairs.” Rochon declined a request for comment. Tom Grape, chair of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees, released a statement Nov. 11, 2015, that said it was difficult for him to see the community going through such a difficult time. “I respect that many of our students and faculty are choosing to express their concerns about Ithaca College’s climate and direction through their public discussions and their votes,” he said. “The board members and I remain committed, as always, to making decisions that take into consideration the input we receive from the college’s executive leadership, as well as the voices of faculty, students, staff, parents and alumni.” Grape said he hopes the conversations will continue and that the board of trustees are committed to addressing the issues. “We understand that the issues are serious and significant, and we are listening,” he said. “I am certain that Ithaca College will emerge from this chapter stronger and more resolute in its direction forward, and the board and I are actively partnering with Tom Rochon and other campus leaders to make sure that happens.” Student Government Association President Dominick Recckio called the protest a historic moment at the college. “It was a hallmark of so many people’s work, and I believe it will cause real change on this campus, and that change will happen fast,” he said. A number of students said the protests were necessary.
JENNIFER WILLIAMS/THE ITHACAN
“I’m heartened by student activism on this campus and people really taking a stand for our community that has been marginalized,” junior Taylor Ford said. “I think if you have a massive student-led demonstration like this, it sends a powerful message to the administration, to the board of trustees.” Junior Siena Cid said she attended the protest because she has experienced racism on campus when she was called a “stupid n----girl” by a resident of her dorm during her freshman year. “It was torture to see him every day,” she said. “That’s why I’m here: because no one should have to go through that.” Freshman Alyse Harris cited the events happening across the nation as a reason why the protest needed to happen now. “I think the time is right now. It’s time to act,” Harris said. “It’s not just here at Ithaca. It’s across the country. It’s at the University of Missouri. It’s in California. It’s at Yale. You can’t turn your head anymore. You can’t turn a blind eye because that’s what happens right now. We are done being treated as second-class citizens. It is time for us to take our rightful place as students here at Ithaca College.” Senior Stacey-Ann Ellis said she hopes the protests make an impact on Rochon. “I would hope it actually has an impact on his emotions, his perspective and how he actually approaches the students,” Ellis said. “If it makes no impact on him, then he is steel. It has to make a change in him. I think this rally is one of the most major ones, and it will definitely make its mark in comparison to every other one.” A handful of students in attendance were upset with the protest. During the protest, one student walked through the crowd with a sign that told protesters to stop disrupting his education. After the protest, one student stood on top of a bench holding a sign that said “I Support Tom Rochon.” About 50 students crowded around the bench as they talked about issues on campus. A number of faculty members stood in support. “I am extraordinarily proud of the students, faculty and staff who are here,” said Bruce Henderson, a professor in the Department of Communication Studies. “We often undervalue huge, symbolic gestures, and we need to recognize that this matters. It has an effect on the actual lives of the people at this campus.” Belisa Gonzalez, associate professor and director of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity, said the focus right now is on African, Latino, Asian and Native American students. “I hope that more awareness and more momentum will come out of this event. POC at IC talked about their goals,” she said. “I see faculty and staff everywhere, and this is an issue that is not going away. I hope that the administration sees that and does something about it.” Patricia Zimmermann, a professor of media arts, sciences and studies, said she thought it was a historic moment. “I have never seen an action this large, and I’ve never seen a coalition this big of students, faculty, staff, some administrations and people expressing support from around the country: Smith College, Hamilton, Wells,” she said. “I feel it is a historic moment and a turning point for Ithaca College.” Claire Gleitman, professor in the Department of English and president of the School of Humanities and Sciences Faculty Senate, said it was an impressive protest. “I think this is magnificent. I’ve never seen a display of student activism this powerful and engaged and focused,” she said. “I canceled my class so that students could be here.”
Meet the Board of Trustees The Board of Trustees is the governing body and chartered legal entity for Ithaca College. Its responsibilities include assessing the president’s performance, approving the budget, contributing financially to the fundraising goals of the college and granting all degrees awarded by the institution.
Founder of The Physician Executive’s Coach
Senior Partner at Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP
Founding Partner of KPMG’s Financial Risk Management
Executive Director of multiple nursing homes
CEO of Haas Group International
Environmental Attorney for David Giannotti Professional Corporation
Connection to IC: 1970 alumnus
Connection to IC: 1977 alumnus
Connection to IC: 1981 alumnus
Connection to IC: 1977 alumnus
Connection to IC: 1981 alumnus
Connection to IC: 1969 alumnus
Donor Status: Founder's Circle, President's Circle
Donor Status: President’s Advisor
Donor Status: President’s Fellow
Donor Status: President’s Circle and $250,000 contribution to A&E Center
Donor Status: President’s Circle
Donor Status: Founder’s Circle, President’s Circle
President of the Board of Trustees of the Park Foundation
CEO of Benchmark Senior Living
Chief Revenue Officer of Yellow Pages
CEO of Bright Horizons
Formerly part of the Fortunoff management team
Operating Director of DeltaPoint Capital Management LLC
Connection to IC: Father was Roy H. Park
Connection to IC: 1980 alumnus
Connection to IC: 1983 alumnus
Connection to IC: 1987 alumnus
Connection to IC: 1973 alumnus
Connection to IC: 1974 alumnus
Donor Status: Founder’s Circle, President’s Circle, Park Foundation
Donor Status: Founder’s Circle, President’s Circle
Donor Status: President’s Circle
Donor Status: President’s Circle
Donor Status: President’s Circle
Donor Status: President’s Fellow
Former CEO of Sara Lee Foodservice
Vice President for Student Life at The Catholic University of America
Connection to IC: 1977 alumnus
Connection to IC: Parent of 2002 alum
CEO and Co-Chairman of Klingenstein Fields Wealth Advisors Connection to IC: 1982 alumnus
Donor Status: President’s Circle
Donor Status: President’s Circle
Donor Status: President’s Circle
Senior Vice President at UBS Wealth Management
President of The Schiltkamp International Group of Companies
NYU Seryl Kushner Dean of the College of Arts and Science
Connection to IC: Parent of 2010 alumnus
Connection to IC: 1978 alumnus, 2016 parent
Connection to IC: Unknown
Donor Status: Unknown
Donor Status: President’s Advisor
Donor Status: Unknown
DONOR STATUS KEY
Founder’s Circle donors are those who have Ithaca College as a beneficiary of a bequest or other planned gift.
Founder and Chairman of VideoLink
A director of New Mountain Finance Corporation
School Operations & External Relations Officer
Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy
Connection to IC: 1978 alumnus
Connection to IC: 1972 alumnus
Connection to IC: Staff Trustee
Connection to IC: Faculty Trustee
Connection to IC: Current student
Donor Status: President’s Circle
Donor Status: President’s Circle and $100,000 contribution to A&E Center
Donor Status: None
Donor Status: None
Donor Status: None
President’s Circle donors are those who have provided gifts of $10,000 or more within a single fiscal year. President’s Fellows are those who have provided gifts of between $5,000 and $9,999 within a single fiscal year. President’s Advisors are those who have provided gifts of between $1,000 and $4,999 within a single fiscal year.
TOM ROCHON’S COMPLEX T E N U R E AT T H E C O L L E G E By Evan Popp Tom Rochon has been president of Ithaca College since July 2008. His tenure has seen several campus initiatives, but it has also been marked by campus controversies and problems with the college’s racial climate. Last semester, major protests erupted regarding issues of race, diversity and inclusion at the college following several recent racially charged events. The demonstrations were spearheaded by the group POC at IC, which stands for People of Color at Ithaca College. The demonstrations centered around improving the college’s racial climate and the removal of Rochon as a result of his handling of racial issues at the college and a perceived lack of inclusivity into decision-making, among other grievances. The demonstrators used the rallying cry of “Tom Rochon: No confidence,” and student, faculty and staff votes of no confidence in Rochon were initiated. On Nov. 30, 2015, the Student Government Association announced that more than 2,500 Ithaca College students — or 71.75 percent of the vote — had voted “no confidence” in Rochon. Of the 6,907 students at the college who were emailed the poll, 3,756 voted, with 2,695 voting they had no confidence, 1,019 voting they had confidence and 42 submitted the poll without voting. On Jan. 14, Rochon announced his intent to retire at the end of the 2016–17 academic year.
Early Years Conflicts occurred early in Rochon’s tenure. IC View, the alumni magazine, came under fire in February 2009 after Emily McNeill ’08 wrote a piece about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. Some found McNeill’s article offensive because they felt it only told the Palestinian perspective. Rochon responded to the piece, saying IC View failed to engage the topic of the conflict between Israel and Palestine in an unbiased way. The then-editor of IC View, Maura Stephens, said she was forced to apologize for the article. She said the administration threatened to fire her and that her original apology was edited by the administration.
A theme among current and former student leaders and some faculty members regarding Rochon is a perceived dictatorial, topdown leadership approach. Cedrick-Michael Simmons ’14, the Student Government Association president during the 2013–14 academic year, said that from the start of his SGA presidency, Rochon made it clear who had the power. “In our first conversation, he pretty much told me that — I’m
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summarizing what he said … SGA can create a bill with a recommendation, and he, if he wants to, can look at it and throw it right in the trash,” Simmons said. An additional example of Rochon’s leadership style's causing friction was in September 2012, when he implemented a policy requiring student media requesting an interview with college administrators to go through the college’s media relations department. The policy caused an uproar in the campus community, with students’ holding a sit-in protest. Rochon eventually gave in and revoked the policy. An additional criticism of Rochon during his tenure has been a perceived lack of student input and engagement. Tariq Meyers ’14, the student trustee on the Ithaca College Board of Trustees from 2012–14, said he didn’t engage with Rochon as much as he expected to as student trustee. Asma Barlas, professor in the Department of Politics and the former director of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity, said she believes Rochon does not make an effort to form relationships. “He’s remote in terms of cultivating relationships with anyone, and to be perfectly frank, in all of the years that I’ve talked to people around him … I didn’t get the sense that people were actually very comfortable around him,” Barlas said. Raj Subramaniam, a graduate chair and professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education, said he has no confidence in Rochon’s leadership. “He doesn’t seem to be connected to the faculty or the students — he seems to be in his own world, so to speak,” Subramaniam said. Subramaniam said Rochon is looking at the activities of the college through too much of a corporate lens. Meyers said he often felt Rochon didn’t care about or respect students’ perspectives. He said that before he was the student trustee, there was an opportunity for the student trustee to give a presentation to the board of trustees. However, Meyers said this was taken away when he became the trustee. “His leadership failed the student body, and it’s been failing the student body,” he said. John Rosenthal, professor in the Department of Mathematics, said he also thinks Rochon has a top-down approach but that his leadership style is becoming the norm. “I would add that is not just an Ithaca College situation. From what I understand, that
is a national trend,” Rosenthal said. “Many college presidents, I think, have become increasingly top-down in how they act.” However, Rosenthal said he does have some confidence in Rochon’s leadership, although not total confidence. He said while he is not satisfied with everything Rochon has done, he doesn’t expect that he should be. Prior to the vote, Warren Schlesinger, an associate professor of accounting, said he would not be voting “no confidence” in Rochon’s leadership. He said he interpreted the vote of no confidence as a question of whether Rochon should be fired. He added that Rochon had been receptive to faculty and student demands during the fall semester, except for the demand that he resign. “I have yet to hear of a single demand that students or faculty are currently making that he has turned down in this area,” he said.
Racial Issues Protests regarding the issue of race erupted during Spring 2015, but Crystal Kayiza ’15, the SGA president during the 2014–15 academic year, said these issues existed at the college previously. She said anyone who is surprised by the current protests hasn’t been paying attention and that Rochon does share some of the responsibility for the events leading to the demonstrations. A statement from the college was released by David Maley, senior associate director of media relations, regarding the college’s racial climate issues. It states: “There is no question that the college, like the rest of our nation, has a great deal of work to do to make this happen, including the very urgent need to combat systemic and structural racism.” The statement went on to say the college wouldn’t shy away from encouraging tough questions and concluded by saying issues of race and cultural bias were receiving Rochon’s full attention. The acknowledgment of issues of race at the college has been a topic of conversation in the recent past, particularly with the campus-climate survey conducted in Fall 2012, which measured student, faculty and staff comfort levels on campus. Simmons said a large part of his year as SGA president was spent attempting to get the administration to release the results of the
campus-climate survey. The survey, which was the subject of repeated delays in its release, was released in February 2015 and revealed stark perception gaps among different identity groups regarding inclusivity at the college. As an explanation for the delay, Simmons said, he was told the Office of Institutional Research didn’t have the capabilities to analyze the data. However, Simmons said, at the end of the year, he found out Institutional Research had been asking for help in analyzing the data. “It seemed, as if for some reason, the data, or the evidence, was being hidden, and once we looked at the data, it was very apparent that there were wide disparities with respect to race, with respect to status of disability, with respect to gender,” Simmons said. Rochon declined to be interviewed for this story. However, he conducted an interview with The Ithacan on Nov. 12, 2015, during which, among other topics, he addressed the delay in the release of the campus-climate survey. Rochon said he could have handled the survey differently. Rochon said he was so focused on that goal that he allowed the perfect to get in the way of the good. Most of the delay in the release of the survey was due to the college’s trying to figure out how to get that deeper analysis, Rochon said. Senior Dominick Recckio, the current SGA president, said Rochon has contributed to the college’s racial climate issues and that systems at the college have marginalized students of color. He said even though, over Rochon’s tenure, the percentage of African, Latino, Asian and Native American students at the college has increased to about 20 percent of the student body from 10.8 percent in Fall 2008, that is not enough to create a campus climate that is safe and supportive of students of color. “What’s the faculty number that aligns with that?” Recckio said. “It better damn be 20 percent.” As of Fall 2014, ALANA faculty made up about 11 percent of the overall faculty population. Rochon acknowledged the gap between the number of ALANA students and faculty. He said fewer new faculty members come into the college every year than new students, so it is natural that faculty diversity grows at a slower rate. However, he said, he wished the college had initiated an
increase in faculty diversity. “Of course I wish that we had addressed that sooner,” Rochon said. “Though at the same time, I have to tell you that had I taken the initiative to point to that even two years ago, I’m not sure the campus was ready to hear that was an issue and was ready to embrace that as something we need to work on the way they are right now.” Simmons said he predicted there would be demonstrations regarding racial issues at the college when he was SGA president. He said he sent a policy brief to the president and the provost about microaggressions and told them they should pay attention to racial issues before they saw resistance. However, Benjamin Rifkin, current provost and vice president for educational affairs, defended Rochon’s actions during an interview with The Ithacan on Nov. 11, 2015, saying he has confidence in Rochon’s leadership of the college. “President Rochon has a record of extraordinary accomplishments on this campus, and while we have had a very
thought he was capable of addressing the issues with the campus climate. “I think he’s capable of making really good progress on the issue of racism and cultural bias on campus,” he said.
Cost-cutting During his tenure, Rochon began a number of measures in an attempt to limit the increase in tuition and add money to the endowment. Those fundraising initiatives include attempting to increase the number of donors and to increase donations to the annual fund and the college’s endowment. Some of the cost-cutting initiatives the college is taking part in include zero-based budgeting, strategic workforce analysis — which includes the restructuring of a number of departments and cutting staff — and strategic sourcing, an effort led by Gerald Hector, vice president for finance and administration. Chris Biehn, vice president for
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difficult fall semester, he and his leadership team have put forward a plan of action in response to community suggestions, and he and the leadership of the college have continued to express their willingness to be flexible on adapting that plan of action and adding new ideas and projects,” Rifkin said. Schlesinger said while Rochon had his shortcomings as a leader, including not taking student concerns about microaggressions and other racial issues seriously enough until students began to protest, he
institutional advancement and communication, said Rochon works with him when interacting with the college’s top donors. “He and I focus largely on our top donors,” Biehn said. “The top donors include the board of trustees and others who have the philanthropic capacity, but also likely the inclination — so they’re connected to the college already.” Since the beginning of Rochon’s tenure, donations to the endowment have increased. In the 2015 fiscal year, there was
almost $7.5 million donated to the college’s endowment, the highest since 2000. According to records on its website, the Park Foundation made a $5 million donation to the college’s endowment in 2014. During Rochon’s tenure, total yearly donations to the endowment have averaged $2.4 million. In the seven years prior, the average total yearly donation to the endowment was $969,209. The annual fund has also slightly increased, topping $1.8 million in 2015 and averaging $1.1 million during Rochon’s tenure. In the seven fiscal years prior to Rochon’s arriving at the college, the annual fund averaged $1 million. Donations to student financial aid have averaged $3.3 million. In the seven years prior, donations to student financial aid averaged $2.5 million. Biehn said if the college — and Rochon — wasn’t focused on cutting costs and diversifying revenue, then students would be facing the costs. Biehn said Rochon has to be focused on raising funds. “There has to be [that focus] from the president,” Biehn said. “The board hires the president. The board looks to the president for leadership. The president drives philanthropy at the highest level.” Biehn credited Rochon for providing “active leadership” to the fundraising process since Biehn began at the college in April 2012. He brought up how Rochon has been instrumental in securing donations to create a number of multimillion-dollar scholarships. “We’re starting to see those results, but we’re just starting to see those results,” Biehn said. The college’s cost-cutting efforts have led the college to slowing the rate of tuition increases and slowing the rate of increase of the college’s expenses. Tuition for the 2015–16 school year is $40,658, a 2.85 percent increase from the last year, the smallest in 50 years, the college said. In the seven years prior to Rochon, the college averaged an annual increase in tuition of 5.9 percent. Hector said the college “would be in trouble” if Rochon and the college weren’t focused on finances.
Initiatives Rochon’s tenure has seen an influx of campus initiatives, chief among them the
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IC 20/20 and the Blue Sky Reimagining. The IC 20/20 features 10 initiatives, including diversity programming. It also includes the Integrative Core Curriculum, the general education requirements for students at the college. However, the ICC, which was approved in 2012, has received mixed reviews from students and faculty members. Rochon called the ICC his biggest achievement as president but stressed the faculty was essential in the creation of it.
He said it was implemented after Middle States Commission on Higher Education — the organization the college is accredited by — wanted the college to have a stronger general education requirement, and the college was given a two-year time frame to do so in 2008. Rochon said the curriculum enhances the educational experience of students. “It is actually, as far as I can tell, a unique curriculum around the country for helping students make connections between how
you think like a scientist, how you think like a social scientist, how you think like a humanist and how you think like an artist,” Rochon said. “And that’s exciting.” However, not everyone is as thrilled with the curriculum. Barlas said the ICC is a labyrinth and hard to navigate for both students and faculty. She also said the ICC took away the power faculty has to set the curriculum. Rosenthal said he doesn’t think the ICC can be judged yet. “We don’t have a single class that has gone through it yet, so it’s early to judge that and probably very hard to judge because we don’t have base data to compare things to,” he said. Schlesinger said Rochon’s tenure has seen a multitude of accomplishments, including the establishment of the Academic Advising Center, the creation of the Institutional Budget and Effectiveness Committee with three faculty members on it, strong fiscal management of the college and a willingness to admit past mistakes, among other attributes. Another of Rochon’s initiatives is the Blue Sky Reimagining, in which Rochon invited the campus community to rethink what the college could look like in the future. The Blue Sky Reimagining Kick-Off event was widely criticized for being exclusive, as only about 30 students were in attendance. Many faculty members also felt the event devalued classroom learning. However, the biggest controversy came when panelist J. Christopher Burch ’76 and moderator Bob Kur ’70 referred to Tatiana Sy ’09, a woman of color, as “the savage” after she said she had a savage hunger to succeed. Many felt the comments were racially insensitive and criticized the college for taking days to respond to the comments, as opposed to the mere hours it took the administration to respond to an unaffiliated fraternity party with a racially charged theme. The comments at the Blue Sky KickOff event helped spark the protests regarding the college’s racial climate. Rochon has said he regrets not intervening and stopping the racially charged remarks during the Blue Sky kickoff event. Rochon has put new initiatives in IC 20/20, any additional Blue Sky activities and the strategic workforce analysis on hold in an effort to respond to the college’s racial climate issues.
R O C H O N A N N O U N C E S R E S I G N AT I O N By Aidan Quigley
Though he spent much of the Fall 2015 semester denying his intent to resign, on Jan. 14, Rochon announced his early retirement, effective July 2017. Rochon said the timing of his retirement gives the Ithaca College Board of Trustees ample time to select a successor. The board of trustees has implemented a plan for finding his successor without needing an interim president. The search process will begin this summer, and the board will seek input from students, faculty, staff and alumni. According to a statement released by Tom Grape, chair of the board of trustees, and Vice Chair David Lissy, the board will conduct a self-assessment of its practices and will train the existing trustees and future trustees on cultural awareness. To make progress on developing shared governance at the college, the statement also included that Benjamin Rifkin, provost and vice president for educational affairs,
has formed a task group with student, faculty, staff and administrative representatives to “devise new ways to foster more collaboration within our community.” The Faculty Council stated it looked forward to working with all constituencies on campus. “This fall, strong voices raised issues vital to the health of our institution and our society; we as faculty have much work ahead of us,” the statement said. “Faculty Council will work with the entire faculty and benefit from our colleagues’ diverse perspectives to build for the future in collaboration with the broader campus community.” Dominick Recckio, Student Government Association president, said he was surprised by the announcement. “I think it really will allow our Ithaca College peers to look forward,” he said. “We are ready to move forward with solutions and finding a president that better serves Ithaca College.”
President Tom Rochon announced his retirement, effective July 2017, on Jan. 14. YANA MAZURKEVICH/THE ITHACAN
Rochon: ‘I would have done hundreds of things differently’ Editor-in-Chief Kira Maddox spoke with Rochon on Jan. 15 about his thoughts leading up to the announcement of his retirement, what his plans are for his next 18 months in office and what he hopes for the future of the college.
and pain from many students of color about their experience on campus. Where the focus was is not primary to me. Primary to me is the question of how we can make significant changes that will reduce that pain and create a more genuine and inclusive community.
Kira Maddox: I want to hear from your point of view: How did you come to this decision to retire?
KM: What projects do you hope to accomplish before you retire?
Tom Rochon: Well, with the opportunity to reflect over the semester break about the key challenges facing the college, I realized that I arrived as president at a time of very rapid change, when there were brand-new challenges — it was at the time of the collapse of the global economy and significant changes in higher education — but that the current era, while those challenges continue, the current era is bringing about new challenges. So the question became “Is the best thing for Ithaca College to have a new leadership to help lead those new challenges?” I thought about that very carefully and decided that, subject to an orderly transition to the next president, the answer was yes. KM: How do you feel about everything that’s been going on on campus? Over time, it seemed while you were always a key focus of the protesters’ chants, the conversation went from the racial climate overall to you as a president. TR: I feel that, not looking at any individual events, that what happened on campus last fall was a very clear expression of discomfort
TR: Some of them are ongoing. We’ve done a lot around operational efficiencies and making sure that we slowly but steadily reposition Ithaca College as more affordable to students. That absolutely has to be a continuing priority. ... Better understandings and institutional mechanisms for shared governance fall into that category, and we definitely need to make significant progress on the diversity and inclusion initiative that has been laid out. KM: So, just in general, is there anything you think you would have done differently with your presidency? TR: I would have done hundreds of things differently. ... This is part of the reflection that I’ve done. Leadership involves making choices every single day and assessing trade-offs without having full information about what will happen if you make this choice or that choice. So yes, the way you phrased it is very nice: If I had the knowledge that I have today and the opportunity to play things out again, there are some choices I would have made beginning my first and second year — none of which are part of this — that would have been different, and continuing right up until probably today.
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A HISTORY OF RACE Ithaca College’s history is full of racial strife By Evin R. Billington A crowd of 30 students assembles outside of Friends Hall, encircling a life-size scarecrow made of straw and burlap. A sash across its front reads “ADMINISTRATION.” One student steps forward and lights a match. The leg of the straw man is quickly aflame, and in no time, the entire effigy is ignited. This was almost 50 years ago: April 22, 1969. Much like the POC at IC protest movement of today, the students wanted greater diversity and rights on campus. The college is no stranger to political unrest, especially in matters regarding race. In some ways, this year’s POC at IC movement is echoing past upheavals, particularly protests in 1969. Spaces were occupied. Teach-ins were held. Students were assembled. However, Bridget Bower, librarian and college archivist, who has been working at the college for 27 years and conducts research on past protest movements, pointed out one key difference: a lack of a detailed demands list. “Honestly, I’m looking for that page of demands,” Bower said. “I mean, you look at that stuff from 1969, and they had 19 or however many, and then the next semester, they had a bunch more. They met with the administration, and the administration looked at them and said, ‘Huh, these are reasonable. Let’s do it.’ But I’m not hearing anything.” The protesters in 1969 had a clear list of demands aimed at strengthening diversity on campus. Among them were an increase of black students by a certain percentage every year, increased
funds to the Educational Opportunity Program and more black professors. POC at IC had a small list of demands, including to eliminate President Tom Rochon from his position and to have a hand in the selection process for the next president. For the most part, the administration in 1969 — then under President Howard Dillingham — moved to meet those demands. The number of black students went up from 25 to 80 by the next year. Funds for the EOP were increased. A part-time black professor was promoted to full time, and the administration promised it would soon find an additional professor to fill the gap. Julian Euell was hired as a professor of sociology in 1974. At the time, he was the only black professor at the college — he said his nickname in the department became “Dr. Only.” He wasn’t at the college for the movement in 1969, but he remembers it because he was living in Ithaca. It’s true, he said, that the administration moved to meet the demands of the movement, but in his mind, that was just a temporary fix. For years, Euell said, there were racist comments, insinuations that he should stick with teaching “black” classes and slights by fellow professors. Things came to a head in 1979 when a group of students dressed up as Ku Klux Klan members for Halloween and paraded around campus. The students, who later told The Ithacan they didn’t think about the implications of their costumes, were expelled, and the student body demanded further action —
COURTESY OF ITHACA COLLEGE
specifically, a multicultural dorm. Euell supported this. However, he argues it was another temporary fix that ignored the real issue: systemic, ingrained racism. “The people are going to come and get treated the same way, especially the Africans and the Latinos. They’re going to come and be in the same boat because you haven’t dealt with the fundamental problem,” he said. “You can make these demands, but it’s never going to be enough because you have to deal with the educational context that is fundamental in the United States and in the universities.” Indeed, Brandon Easton ’97 remembers his time at the college as extremely racially tense. There were many reports of verbal harassment at the time, including one incident with a friend
of Easton’s who was taunted while showering. “We had a student over in Boothroyd Hall who had been racially insulted in the showers,” he said. “People were making comments while he was taking a shower, like, ‘We didn’t know those people took showers or bathed,’ all kinds of horrible things like that. I think that a lot of us got frustrated because no matter what we said, people just didn’t take it seriously.” The administration, he said, did not have much of a response to these aggressions until nine nooses were hung around the campus. This caused a bit of a panic until Justin Chapman ’94, a black art student Easton knew personally, came forward as the one who did it. “He did that as a way to get people talking about race, and it definitely worked,” Easton said. “Justin basically said that we’ve been complaining about race on campus for a long time, and it’s a shame that it took something that was completely ridiculous to get people to talk about it.” Until recently, the college had been relatively free of major race conflicts since the ’90s, Bower said. For Euell, the lack of a large number of POC at IC demands is not a huge problem. Demands, he said, lead to temporary fixes — Band-Aids. Fixes have already been applied to this campus, but the racist attitudes, he said, have persisted. What has to happen is a systemic shift, not just at the college but throughout the entire nation. The change needs to come from the top down. The best place for it to start, he said, is at the educational level. Specifically, Euell said he would push for a curriculum that includes work from black authors and scholars. “I think it’s a fundamental error, but I don’t expect the kids to know anything about a fundamental error because their professors don’t know,” he said. “They’re a part of the error.” Education shapes the way a society thinks, and a more racially inclusive educational system means more racially aware thinkers. He said he’s hopeful this movement is a step in that direction. “It’s huge. It’s deep, but it doesn’t mean it’s insurmountable,” Euell said. “You have to make a decision not to put bandages on issues. That’s what keeps happening. You have to make a decision and say, ‘You know what, I’m sick and tired of this American dilemma. It keeps getting worse if we don’t make it better, and we have to start re-educating everybody.’”
Students participate in a die-in demonstration Jan. 4, 2014, in the Campus Center, to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. JENNIFER WILLIAMS/THE ITHACAN
HIGHER THAN THE NATIONAL AVERAGE IC students drink and smoke more than average By Maura Aleardi Ithaca College students use marijuana, drink alcohol, feel stressed and have sex more than the national average, according to survey results from the National College Health Assessment survey. The college’s Center for Health Promotion released the 2015 survey results Sept. 13, 2015, and the national reference data from the American College Health Association was released in November 2015, revealing the college places above the national average in a number of categories. The survey was emailed to 3,062 students between February 2015 and March 2015 . Of the students who received the email, 718 completed the survey. Seventy-six percent of students at the college said they consumed alcohol in the past month, while the national average was 64.8 percent. In addition, 34.7 percent of the college’s students said they used marijuana in the past month, while the national average was 16.9 percent. Nancy Reynolds, health promotion center program director, said the trends may be explained by the stress levels revealed in the survey. The stress results indicated that 9.6 percent of students at the college have seriously considered suicide within the last school year, while the national average is 5.7 percent. Only 12.1 percent
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY AMANDA DEN HARTOG
of students nationally reported being treated for anxiety, while 19.5 percent of students at the college did. Fifteen percent of students at the college reported being treated for depression, while nationally only 10.7 percent of students did. In addition, 59.7 percent of the
“We need to be able to find resources that are going to help us address the high demand that we have for our services. ... We should have a credentialed substance-abuse counselor on staff. Currently, if you need that service, you need to go off campus for that.” —Nancy Reynolds students at the college felt overwhelming anxiety within the last school year, while the national average was 56.9 percent. Reynolds said it is common for students to relieve stress by using substances, such as alcohol or marijuana. These results have exceeded the national average since the
NEWS Students have differing opinions about the levels of both substance use and stress on campus. Some, like freshman McKenna Pols, believe substance abuse is not any more of an issue than it would be at the next college. “It’s typical of a college campus,” she said. “I’d say stress levels would be a little bit lower than average. It seems like everyone kind of knows how to handle their stress and have fun, but also learn.” Junior Dylan Radigan also said high stress levels may be caused by outside influences that the college can’t control. He said that while the school is making a strong effort to address the problem, it may just be “the nature of Ithaca.” “I wouldn’t think stress level,” he said. “I could see it because of the weather conditions and the winter depressions people go through. I know some people who use substances as a result of stress. I consider them outliers and not a huge part of the general population.” Reynolds said although the results have been consistently above the national average, alcohol and cigarette use has decreased over the past 10 years by 6 and 8 percent, respectively. Marijuana use, however, has increased by almost 8 percent. The decrease in alcohol and cigarette use, along with the increase in condom use after providing free condoms, proves that the college’s methods are working, Reynolds said. “The substance abuse issue is one that’s kind of risen to the top of our radar because of our NCHA data,” she said. “It’s really allowed us to understand that this is a really significant health concern at IC. We’re certainly not the only ones.”
Center for Health Promotion began conducting the survey in 2003, Reynolds said. While she cannot explain why the results are so high, she said she is trying to reduce them for the future. “Any change toward improved health is really what we’re after,” Reynolds said. “I don’t think anyone’s decided that our students should be entirely substance free — that’s really not the realistic goal — but we’re definitely on board for reducing harm that substances cause in a student’s life.” Reynolds said she is attempting to do this by implementing programs to improve the health of the college’s students. One of the most influential programs in place is the Balancing Alcohol and Substance Use to Improve College Success program, she said. BASICS is a program used by many universities in the U.S. to focus on prevention, identification and early intervention. Reynolds said she and the health promotion team on campus can use these survey results to benefit the students on campus. Reynolds can present the results to the Ithaca College Board of Trustees and other stakeholders in order to receive more resources for the specific health needs of the students. “We need to be able to find resources that are going to help us address the high demand that we have for our services,” Reynolds said. “Knowing that our substance rates are higher, we should have a credentialed substance-abuse counselor on staff. Currently, if you need that service, you need to go off campus to find that.” In addition to above-average substance use, students at the college reported having more sexual partners than the national average. Sixteen percent of the college’s students reported having more than four partners, compared to 7 percent nationally.
Sex, drugs and Stress
Ithaca College students report having more sex, drinking more alcohol and having more anxiety than the national average
15% treated for depression 59.7% say they are
overwhelmed with anxiety within the last school year
10.7% treated for depression 20.8% said they were 56
overwhelmed with anxiety within the past school year
DESIGN: ALISON TEADORE
Mental Health Concerns ITHACA COLLEGE
Four or more partners
Use in the past month 65%
HOW MANY PARTNERS HAVE YOU HAD SEX with?
percenTAGE of RESPONDENTS THAT PERCEIVED THAT THE TYPICAL IC STUDENT USES
A LCO H O L MARIJUANA CIGARETTES
at least once
at least once
at least once
per month: per month: per month:
OPEN HOUSING College allows students of different sexes to become roommates By Elena Piech In February, Ithaca College announced its new open-housing policy — a housing option that enables students to select roommates regardless of their sex or gender. Bonnie Prunty, director of the Office of Residential Life and Judicial Affairs and assistant dean for first-year experiences, and Linda Koenig, Residential Life representative and assistant director for housing services and communications, wrote the proposal and first put it forward in Spring 2015. On Feb. 15, Prunty met with the President’s Council to discuss the proposal, and Koenig said she heard about the approval Feb. 16. “I believe this policy will allow our students the flexibility to live in the kind of roommate or apartment arrangement that makes them most comfortable,” Prunty said. The Office of Residential Life then sent an email about the openhousing option to students Feb. 18. Freshmen Anna Gardner and Joe Simpson plan on utilizing the open-housing policy in the fall. “I get along really well with my friend Joe,” Gardner said. “So once I saw that email, it was kind of a no-brainer.” Campus Pride, an organization that promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender–friendly campuses, reports that over 200 colleges and universities have similar policies. Although Gardner said deciding to live with Simpson was a quick decision, Residential Life spent the past three semesters working on this housing option. When first proposed in Spring 2015, Koenig and Prunty were told by President Tom Rochon that the proposal mentioned mainly the benefits, but it lacked information on possible drawbacks. Koenig said one of the concerns of allowing students of different sexes or genders to live together is that couples would choose to be roommates.
YANA MAZURKEVICH/THE ITHACAN
“I don’t share that fear. I also think it’s a super heteronormative way to look at it because LGBT students could live with a romantic partner now,” Koenig said. Benjamin Rifkin, provost and vice president for educational affairs, said students should have the ability to act like adults. “We don’t have to ask anything other than the fact that you and your proposed roommate both would like to do this,” Rifkin said. “And it grows out of respect for our students as adults that can make adult choices.” Previously, if a student identified as transgender or gendernonconforming, they had the option to meet with Luca Maurer, program director for the Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services, to discuss a new living arrangement. Maurer would then work with Koenig to accommodate the student’s request. With the open-housing policy, Koenig said, transgender students no longer need to have this conversation with Maurer. Students who wish to participate in the new housing process will have the option of living in the Garden Apartments, Circle Apartments, Emerson Hall or Terraces coed-by-door rooms. Open housing will begin in Fall 2016 for rising sophomores, juniors or seniors. Rifkin said it will not yet be available to freshmen unless they identify as transgender. “There’s so much involved with the transition to college,” Rifkin said. “We want to try to reduce the variables.” Freshman Kayla Hurowitz, a student who identifies as female, said the policy will be beneficial for transgender students. “I do feel that having policies such as this makes it a lot easier for me and other students in similar situations,” Hurowitz said. “I also think students should be trusted to decide who they live with, regardless of gender.”
HAPPINESS DEFINED STUDENT’S LIFE
COURTESY OF MELISSA ROSENBERG
By Evin R. Billington Ask any of Shannon Sakosits’ friends to describe her, and they’ll say she was smiley, gentle and so, so funny. Many of those closest to her sum her up in one way: Shannon
was a sunflower. It was fitting, then, that sunflowers sat behind the podium during her candlelight vigil Nov. 12, 2015, in Ithaca College’s Muller Chapel, and also dotted the service at her funeral Nov. 17 in Park Ridge, New Jersey. The junior integrated
marketing communications major died Nov. 11 after a brief illness. Junior Melissa Rosenberg had been one of Sakosits’ best friends since sophomore year. “We were always joking around,” she said. “It was very fun but also serious when it needed to be. She just had a good outlook on everything. She knew when to have fun, but she also knew when to be serious and buckle down.” Rosenberg said Sakosits had this way of making everyone around her feel important, and even strangers from the concert they attended in Colorado have been reaching out to her with condolences. This was echoed by junior Matt Bruch, who met her their freshman year, and their friendship grew over time. Looking back on it, he said he would consider her a sister. Bruch said happiness was what truly defined Sakosits. She always strove to be happy, and he said if she were still here, she would have reminded her friends to be happy. “I think she would say, and this was just how she lived, just don’t stress about the little things,” he said. “Live happy. Love those around you. That’s just what she was about. She just wanted to be happy.”
CAMPUS REMEMBERS OUTSPOKEN PROFESSOR
COURTESY OF LANE HARRIS
By Evan Popp Donald Lifton was never afraid to share his opinion and was known as a vocal and active member of the Ithaca College community. Warren Schlesinger, associate professor in the
Department of Accounting, said when votes were held among faculty, it was not uncommon for Lifton to walk up and down hallways and lobby faculty to vote a certain way. This attitude was exemplified further when Lifton took the microphone and told President Tom Rochon to resign at the Oct. 27, 2015, event “Addressing Community Action on Racism and Cultural Bias,” so the college could move on. Lifton, an associate professor in the Department of Management, died suddenly Dec. 5, 2015. He was 69 years old. Colleagues and students alike remembered Lifton, who was a professor at the college for 29 years, as an energetic man who cared deeply about his students. Sophomore Thomas Grogan, who took Lifton’s World of Business course, said Lifton effectively engaged students in class material. Grogan said Lifton taught him that ethics are an integral part of business. One
example of this was when Lifton had the class analyze the economics of the dispersal of resources and identify an ethical dilemma in how those resources are dispersed. “As far as business goes, ethics is one of the most important things. That’s what he taught us,” Grogan said. Sophomore Quadri Olanlege, who also took Lifton’s World of Business class as a freshman, said Lifton brought a vibrant energy to the class. Olanlege said Lifton was able to connect to students on a personal level. “He really just made me get excited about business,” Grogan said. “I looked forward to going to his class every day. He knew how to get his students’ attention, and he knew how to keep it, which is something that not a lot of professors can really do. … He was one of the best instructors I’ve ever had. He made me realize that business can be fun sometimes.”
COMMUNITY REMEMBERS MARKETING PROFESSOR “He’d get the students who may not know very much about that generation to experience it through his eyes and through his dad’s eyes.” Kevin Turnbull ’15 said LaTour constantly pushed him to find his passion not just in his career, but in his life. “I know that sounds really cliche, but he wanted us to find passion in the most boring of things or the most remedial of tasks because in life, you have to do that,” Turnbull said. Benjamin Daumas ’15 COURTESY OF KATHRYN LATOUR took a class with LaTour through the IC-CU Exchange By Kristen Gowdy Program at Cornell University. He echoed There was never a dull moment in Turnbull’s sentiment. “It was my first class at Cornell, so I marketing and law professor Michael was a bit stressed about it, but he made it LaTour’s lectures. “He was a very animated and engag- a wonderful experience,” Daumas said. “I ing person,” his wife, Kathryn LaTour, found my passion there.” For many students, LaTour was much said. “He’d maybe prepare a couple of slides, but ... it would just kind of become more than just a professor. Turnbull said its own experience. It was a very fun, he saw him as a mentor. This semester, LaTour was on leave free-flowing kind of class.” On Nov. 8, 2015, LaTour, 61, died for medical reasons. Kathryn said his “peacefully at his home,” according to death was somewhat unexpected, as he an announcement by Ithaca College. He had recently been making significant imleaves behind three daughters: Zoe, 12; provements with his illness. She said her husband was even talkKatherine, 19; and Madeleine, 21. LaTour began teaching at the college ing about returning to teaching for the in Spring 2015. Colleagues and former spring semester before he died. “We thought, honestly, until a couple students describe LaTour as a dedicated, personable and fatherly figure both in of weeks ago, we thought he had a shot,” she said. “It just went down very quickly. and out of the classroom. To increase his students’ love for mar- We knew he was sick; we just thought we keting, LaTour often utilized personal had more time. We really thought he’d be anecdotes. For example, when he lectured in phase two of his treatment during the on intergenerational differences, he’d spring and be able to teach.” That was an indication, she said, of bring in an Associated Press photograph of his father fighting in the Normandy how much he loved the college. “He didn’t have the opportunity invasion during World War II. Kathryn said he would use the photograph to illus- to be here very long, but he was very trate the differences between the “Greatest proud to be there,” she said. “He really found a lot of camaraderie around camGeneration” and today’s millennials. “He would story-tell and bring up the pus, and he said it was the best place he photo and get really animated,” she said. ever worked.”
COURTESY OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY
CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT DIES AT 52 By Faith Meckley Cornell University’s first female president died of colon cancer March 6 after less than a year in office. Cornell announced the death of Elizabeth Garrett, 52, March 7. Garrett was inaugurated as Cornell’s 13th president Sept. 18, 2015. Garrett released a statement Feb. 8 announcing that she was entering an “aggressive treatment program” for her diagnosis of colon cancer. Robert Harrison, Cornell University Board of Trustees chairman, said in his announcement to the community regarding Garrett’s death that she was the “quintessential Cornellian.” “Beth was simply a remarkable human being — a vibrant and passionate leader who devoted her life to the pursuit of knowledge and public service and had a profound, positive impact on the many lives that she touched,” the announcement stated. “From the moment I met her during the presidential search, it was clear to me that she had the intellect, energy and vision not only to lead Cornell, but to be one of the greatest presidents in our 150-year history.” Provost Michael Kotlikoff was named as the acting president Feb. 19, according to a Cornell announcement.
ANNIKA KUSHNER/THE ITHACAN
ILLUSTRATION BY ADRIANA DEL GROSSO
ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM Conservative students band together on IC’s perceived liberal campus
By Evan Popp
When Ithacan columnist Kyle Stewart was in second grade, his school held a mock election during the 2004 presidential race, pitting former Republican President George W. Bush against Democratic challenger John Kerry. Stewart, in a nod to his future political leanings, campaigned for Bush, albeit for different reasons from those he would have today. “I was like, ‘John Kerry likes the Red Sox. I like George Bush,’” Stewart said. “And then I campaigned for George Bush. I was 8 years old, and I made posters that I put up all across the school, and then we voted, and George Bush won the election.” Now a sophomore journalism major at Ithaca College and the president of IC Republicans, Stewart’s political ideology has matured since his second-grade poster-making campaign, as he said he often reads policy papers on weekends to inform his positions on different political issues. Stewart is a conservative on a campus
that he perceives as predominantly liberal. In a ranking of the most liberal college campuses in the country, Niche.com listed Ithaca College 106th out of 880 campuses surveyed. Additionally, a ranking of the 10 most liberal campuses by FSU Politics News in 2013 put the college sixth in the country. However, conservative students on campus do have a few clubs they can join where they can express their political ideology. One such organization is IC Republicans, which Stewart said focuses primarily on networking and campaigning for specific Republican candidates. Stewart said IC Republicans is officially affiliated with the Republican Party. For students more outside the two-party structure and with a more libertarian bent, there is IC Young Americans for Liberty, which is more of a grassroots activist organization. Freshman Alexander Shedd, who transferred from the college in the Spring 2016 semester, is a member of ICYAL and said he feels there is a general
misunderstanding of libertarianism. “There’s definitely a stigma around libertarianism,” Shedd said. “I think in terms of what the youth movement of libertarianism is in modern times, it really just means economically conservative and socially liberal.” Stewart said there is a general lack of understanding of conservatism and a resistance to the idea that Republicans are not all the same. “We’re not just one checklist of ideas,” Stewart said. “There’s an old saying: If you take three Republicans and put them into a room, you’ll come out with four different ideologies because we all have our own concept of what being a Republican means.” Stewart said one example of this is his support for same-sex marriage, which many conservatives oppose. Sophomore Jordan Lipset, a politics major who identifies as socially liberal and economically conservative, agreed with
“We’re not just one checklist of ideas. There’s an old saying: If you take three Republicans and put them into a room, you’ll come out with four different ideologies because we all have our own concept of what being a republican means.” —Kyle Stewart
Stewart. She said there is a definite stereotype around being conservative. “Once someone finds out you’re a conservative, they automatically think you’re a racist and against women’s rights and all that stuff, when in reality, that’s not really true,” Lipset said. Junior Zachary Lisien, a member of ICYAL, said he’s observed this stigma in action, as he believes there are many “closet conservatives” who don’t feel comfortable speaking up in class. Lisien said he’s never had a problem expressing his ideas in the classroom but that he sees how it could be
an issue, especially for new students. Lisien, a culture and communication major, said he takes a multitude of politics courses. He said that at this point, he assumes that in his classes, the vast majority of students are liberal, as well as the professor. “I can tell from the students — the way they’re talking — [and] from the professors,” Lisien said. “I’ve had a few professors where I’ll continue taking their classes even though I know we disagree because it’s still good dialogue. It’s still a good conversation. It’s really just mostly through the dialogue that you can tell it’s mostly liberal.” Stewart said that while being the political minority on campus is not always ideal, there are advantages to it. “For the most part, I enjoy having debates with people and discussions, and people usually come to me and ask me for my opinion on things, so I enjoy that,” Stewart said. However, he said there are times when his conservatism has stuck out in the classroom. Stewart said he recalls an instance in a politics course he took when the professor posed the question of how the class would advise Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in her campaign. Stewart said he used the exercise as a way to critique Clinton. “I was like, ‘First, I would tell her stop charging $200,000 per appearance. I would tell her to turn over her server,’ stuff like that. And the class kind of chuckled, and [the professor] was kind of taken aback by my stance on things,” Stewart said. There have been movements in the past at the college to create more conservative dialogue on campus. In January 2004, Roger Custer ’04, a former chairman of IC Republicans, advocated for the college to take measures to promote intellectual diversity and expose students to conservative ideas on a predominantly liberal campus. In a report titled “The Case for Intellectual Diversity at Ithaca College,” published in 2004, he argued it is the college’s responsibility to present students with diverse viewpoints. The report cited the intellectual climate of the college as being overwhelmingly liberal, referencing a study the IC Republicans released in April 2003, which surveyed 125 professors in 14 departments about their political ideology. A vast majority of the professors surveyed — 93.6 percent
— were registered with either the Democratic or Green Party. Just 6.4 percent of the professors surveyed were registered as Republicans or Conservatives. The report proposed a few ways the college could have promoted intellectual diversity, including adding a commitment to intellectual diversity as part of the college’s institutional plan, adding coursework in conservatism and “diverse comparative ideologies,” bringing in speakers with an array of ideologies and establishing a “Center for the Study of Intellectual Diversity.” Custer said the response from Peggy Williams, then-president of the college, was mixed. He said a course was added in conservatism and a few conservative guest speakers were brought in, but he said the Williams administration never got on board with a Center for the Study of Intellectual Diversity. And Custer said he hasn’t seen any commitment from President Tom Rochon regarding initiatives promoting political diversity and alternative viewpoints at the college. But Shedd said he believes being in the political minority is a healthy experience. He said people who are politically knowledgeable enjoy hearing dissenting opinions and discussing ideas. “I’ve even had some debates with certain faculty members over some opinions, and it’s all been very civil, very healthy,” Shedd said. However, Stewart said it does bother him when there isn’t an honest debate of ideas and people refuse to listen to his perspective simply because it is conservative. Shedd agreed it’s important for people to keep an open mind about conservatism and libertarianism. He said those words are just labels and it’s imperative people decide what to identify with for themselves. Stewart said something that is also essential is pushing back against the stereotype of conservatives and Republicans as heartless, greedy and obsessed with money. He said Republicans care about everyday people — they just have a different method of solving problems than liberals. “Republicans have hearts,” Stewart said. “We care. Every decision that I make, every policy I support — I don’t just view it through a lense of pragmatic or an economic analysis. I do it, and I make my decisions also based off of how it’s going to affect people, how people can be better off.”
BY PARITA DESAI
The 2016 presidential candidates weigh in on the student debt crisis and how to solve it
of undergraduate students receive some form of federal aid, including grants, loans and work-study funds.
are the most common form of increasing debt among 18- to 24-year-olds. The average student loan debt for a 2014 graduate is
is how much college tuition and fees have surged since records began in 1978. SOURCE: BLOOMBERG NEWS, DOSOMETHING.ORG, DEBT.ORG AND USA TODAY
Hillary Clinton Democrat Former Secretary
S tat e
Hillary Clinton introduced her college affordability plan in August 2015. College tuition costs would be calculated and paid based on family income and individual earnings. The calculation would ensure students would never have to take out loans to pay for tuition and fees. Interest rates on student loans would be decreased, and the current repayment options would be simplified. States would be given $175 billion in grants to lower the cost of education and would be incentivized to control tuition. The plan entails a $350 billion price tag that will be paid for by tax adjustments for the wealthy.
Ted Cruz Republican S e n at o r FROM Texas
Ted Cruz’s plan to ensure college affordability, both public and private, remains unclear. In 2014, he voted to block a bill that would help students refinance their student loans at a lower rate. Cruz’s campaign website said, as president, he will get rid of the Department of Education entirely and completely block grant education funding to states.
Bernie Sanders Democrat S e n at o r FROM Vermont
Bernie Sanders said college tuition should be free for any student who wants to attend a public college or university. He does not state anything specifically about private colleges. His plan would require the federal government to provide states with two-thirds of the cost of public tuition and fees. States would have to pay for the remaining onethird of costs. States would be provided $47 billion per year go toward eliminating tuition and fees at public universities. Sanders’ plan would allow for current debt holders to refinance their loans and require banks to lower their borrowing rates.
Donald Trump has criticized the government for the student debt crisis and what he has said is the government’s profiting off loans. “I think it’s terrible that one of the only profit centers we have is student loans,” Trump said in an interview with The Hill. However, he has not released any details on how he plans to reform students’ loan programs at public or private institutions.
SOURCE: PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN WEBSITES
E L E PH A N T I N T H E RO OM By Kyle Stewart
JENNIFER WILLIAMS/THE ITHACAN
In second grade, I campaigned for President George Bush in my elementary school’s mock election. In high school, I wore a “Mitt Romney: Believe in America” T-shirt at least once a week. Now in college, I’m the president of the Ithaca College chapter of the College Republican National Committee, and I write a conservative column. Politically, I’ve always been the elephant in the room, but now more than ever, I am embracing it. In the past, I have been mocked for my political views. Having conservative beliefs as a young person is not always accepted. Having conservative beliefs in a liberal city like Ithaca is not always accepted. And having conservative beliefs on a college campus where 93.6 percent of faculty members are registered in the Democrat and Green parties makes it very difficult to find people to agree with. But I’ve never wanted to feel safe and insulated in my political views. In high school, I had students, and even a teacher, try to humiliate me for my political views in an attempt to make themselves feel better about any insecurities they had with their own beliefs. This taught me one very important lesson: It is dangerous to be surrounded only by those who agree with you. Those who tried to mock me had been insulated from other views and did not know how to react when I possessed these dissenting opinions. I seek to challenge myself and to critically evaluate why I hold the views I do. And that is why I love having a dissenting view on our predominantly liberal college campus. This year, I recognized the importance of voicing my opinion more than ever before. We need a culture of debate and discussion on issues facing our school, state, nation and world. And so when I was asked to write this column, I was excited to have an
opportunity to spark those debates. My hope is that my column can serve two purposes: to be a discussion starter and to be a resource for anyone looking to understand a young conservative’s reasoning. I believe conservatives have superior ideas to liberals on how to solve the major problems facing our country. The issue is liberals are currently better messengers. Conservatives allow themselves to be pushed into corners, staying on the defensive. This needs to change. We need to be on the offensive, presenting solutions to issues and talking about how our solutions will benefit people. Instead of saying no to raising the minimum wage, conservatives need to present the Earned Income Tax Credit and discuss how it is a better option. Instead of just saying no to more spending on welfare programs, we need to say no and explain why we are the party that wants to maximize liberty. Conservatives have to talk about issues and solutions in a way that conveys our compassion. Republicans and conservatives have innovative solutions to our nation’s problems. We need to show we care. My column is my opinion, supported by research I have done and experiences I have had. It is not meant to be the opinion of all conservatives. I will not apologize for or defend conservatives whom I disagree with. And there are many popular conservatives with whom I have differing opinions. I believe in a conservative ideology that values compassion above all else. I believe in a conservative ideology that recognizes America’s greatest successes and learns from its flaws. I believe in a conservative ideology that protects liberty and freedom for all. I believe in a conservative ideology that is accessible to every American, and this column is my way of conveying that message. My political views make me the elephant in the room, and that is a title I’m very proud to embrace.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Student cyclists take sustainable travel to campus and beyond By Steven Pirani There are a handful of points like these in the school day: the moments when hundreds of students pour into — or emerge from — their classes. It’s when a once-quiet Academic Quad teems with students in transit, darting into doorways, into dining halls, into their cars. In this crowd, coasting with ease among the many bodies, one may spot the cyclists. Sometimes sitting, sometimes perched above their seats, they coast down the churning hills of Ithaca College’s campus, a blur among walkers, some speeding toward The Commons, some off to class. While cyclists may ride by quickly, it’s not hard to spot the college’s bike community on any given day. There’s the lone, white road bike, latched to the light post outside the Roy H. Park School of Communications; the single-speed, with custom beige wheels, resting in front of the Fitness Center; and the tangle of different bikes huddled under the covered bike rack by Williams Hall. Bikes are all over campus, allowing students quick and easy travel, no matter where they may be going. Senior Brendan Davis, president of Bomber Bikes, an oncampus, student-run cycling organization, said this cycling presence at the college isn’t so surprising. For getting to and from class, bikes are just plain fast, he said. “[Riding a bike] is definitely faster than a car on campus,” Davis said. “There’s been some times when I’ve been up in Terraces … or even in Circles, and some friends would get in their car and drive to Park School, get out of the car and go to class, and I’d already be there.” Davis’ story rings true with other student cyclists, like sophomore Wilson Vivas. Vivas, who grew up in Queens, New York, said he found a love for cycling after cutting what was once at least an hourlong commute on the bus to school practically in half. Coming to Ithaca, Vivas found himself beating the clock once more: When a nap went too long, he found himself late for a date downtown. With the Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit bus nowhere to be seen, Vivas borrowed a bike from a friend and sped down the hill. “I was able to make great time, given when I was supposed to be there,” he said. “I managed to make my date, and it was great — I mean, she never found out. … I think that bike saved me.” Thankfully, those struggling to find a bike won’t have to borrow one like Vivas did. Bomber Bikes, in its efforts to develop and improve bike infrastructure on campus, officially began an on-campus bike-sharing system in May 2015. Now, with just a campus ID, any student can hop on a bike and cruise around as much as their heart desires, be it on campus or downtown. It’s entirely free, something Davis said he hopes gets people riding. “This almost sounds crazy, but biking, you feel free, in a way, when you’re doing it,” Davis said. “It’s so special that
TOMMY BATTISTELLI/THE ITHACAN
people should be able to enjoy that, and, hopefully, it will get people offer a solution to the burgeoning issue of congestion in the Ithaca out doing it. That’s the main goal, really: to get people out on the area and hopes they can help change the mentality of transportabikes. So if making it free is going to get people to do that, it’s got to tion among citizens. be that.” “The road system we have is the road system we’re going to For junior triathlon participant and cyclist Tal Aizen, the idea have,” Aragón said. “We need to take care of it. In order to protect of a bike share on campus is exciting. Aizen, who recently visited the functionality of our roads, we need to mitigate the congestion. Washington, D.C., — a city with a well-established bike-sharing We’re trying to get more people to start thinking about ways of system itself — said having something comparable on campus moving around rather than just driving.” would be positive. The ITCTC provides consultation, funding and planning for “I’m excited for the bike share,” Aizen said. “I was just in D.C. Tompkins County–wide transportation, Ithaca included. The orlast week looking at their bike-share ganization has, since its establishment in program. And jeez, if we could rep1992, facilitated programs including the licate that at Ithaca, that would “The city has been very Bike Boulevard Program — which aims to be unbelievable.” bike-priority roads throughout proactive right now, and I establish The same school of thought can be Ithaca — and helped monitor the quality found all around Ithaca, providing an think they are in a good place of residential roads for pedestrian traffic. even wider network of biking opporOzolins’ sentiments, Aragón said as far as their policy and Echoing tunities to students. In the city’s cycling Ithaca is improving for cyclists with the population, it’s easy to spot efforts to their philosophy and what likes of new bike lanes and scenic trails but get people riding. Laurence Clarkberg that it is still not a bike haven for they’re trying to do to bring maintains works with Friends Bike Clinic, a voleach and every rider. unteer organization that helps cyclists more bicyclists to the city. ... “The city has been very proactive right fix — not repair, which Clarkberg is now, and I think they are in a good place We’re moving in the right as far as their policy and their philosophy quick to point out — their bikes. He said having Ithaca cyclists get their direction.” and what they’re trying to do to bring more own, hands-on time with their bikes is —Fernando de Aragón bicyclists to the city,” he said. “So when you his duty as a shop owner. ask me, ‘Is [the city] bike-friendly for the “I put it that way — I don’t say we less-confident biker?’ Maybe not, but we’re will repair your bike — because then people misunderstand,” he moving in the right direction.” said. “We help you fix your bike. … As part of that, I feel like it’s my Getting away from the bustle of downtown and taking those own personal mission to give everyone in Ithaca new brake shoes.” bikes off-road, however, is a cinch. With surrounding nature trails, In addition to fixing up ailing bikes, Clarkberg’s shop, Boxy like the newly completed Cayuga Waterfront Trail — which had its Bikes, on Green Street, is offering a whole other option for two- grand opening Aug. 30, 2015 — local cyclists have all the more reawheeled transport. In an effort to combat Ithaca’s hills, Boxy Bikes son to get on their bikes. Just as Bomber Bikes is doing on campus, both sells and rents out electric bikes. Far from a motorcycle, but the Ithaca Youth Bureau offers its own bike rental service, Ithaca still offering considerable speed, these bikes are something that Bike Rental, which was established in June 2015. Marty Schreiber, Clarkberg said he hopes can ease congestion in Ithaca’s streets. a program coordinator and creator of the rental program, said the “My goal is to have people replace their cars with bicycles,” he said. majority of his customers are getting on the trail to enjoy Ithaca’s Merging the world of automobiles and bicycles — perhaps the more scenic aspects. endgame of any city’s bike culture — is a concept that Andrejs “Almost all of my clients come in to ride the trails,” Schreiber Ozolins, founder of Bike Ithaca, holds dear. Bike Ithaca, which de- said. “And to take in the natural beauty that is Ithaca and the scribes itself as “an informal group of people interested in getting surrounding areas.” around by non-motorized means and committed to making Ithaca It’s an incentive that Davis understands. In a nature-minded more hospitable to that kind of travel,” was founded in 2007, acting city like Ithaca, he said, cycling is a natural fit. as a voice for cyclists and pedestrians alike. He said Ithaca’s over“I think nature and environmentalism kind of go hand-inall “bike-friendliness” has been increasing, and while there is still hand, and bikes kind of fit in perfectly in between the two,” Davis work to be done, the changes make a significant statement. said. “People in Ithaca really are nature-minded. Like with the nat“We have the beginnings of some bike lanes up East Hill. That’s ural lands, people want to get out there and explore it in new ways.” frustratingly inadequate, but it’s there. It’s been achieved,” he said. Ultimately, regardless of where the bikes are taking riders — be “Those are very, very direct messages to the driving public that it from class or into the Natural Lands — Ozolins said one thing is bikes are on the road.” hard to deny: Ithaca’s cyclists have a city to pedal through for some These signs of a bike-friendlier future for Ithaca are all around: time to come. Bike racks are placed throughout the recently unveiled Ithaca “I think what is behind the question is if bike culture is Commons, while lines for a bike lane are painted on a renovated catching on, is it thriving?” Ozolins said. “And I think it, without Cayuga Street. question, is. Just watching my street and people coming down Fernando de Aragón, director of the Ithaca-Tompkins West Hill, there’s three or four times as many people. It used to be County Transportation Council, said these developments no one.”
From left, senior Marlowe Padilla and freshmen Alexa Ubeda and Cindy Prado hold family photos. They are all first-generation college students. TOMMY BATTISTELLI/THE ITHACAN
FIRST-GENERATION STUDENTS DRIVEN TO SUCCEED By Celisa Calacal
When Marlowe Padilla was only 5 years old, his parents gave him the important task of ordering food at restaurants for his family of eight. Despite the intimidating task for a child, Padilla’s father would remind him that he is capable of doing it. This sense of independence, Padilla said, was ingrained in him at a young age and has influenced his mentality growing up and going through school. Now an Ithaca College senior, Padilla is on the path to becoming the first in his family to graduate from college as a first-generation student. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, firstgeneration students comprise 50 percent of students at higher education institutions. Results from the study said first-generation students are often influenced by their family and background characteristics, such as being more likely to come from low-income families than students who are not first-generation. At first, freshman Damian Maravola, who also goes by Damiano Malvasio, did not want to attend college due to the promise of high debt. However, he said knowing he is a first-generation college student ultimately motivated him to attend college as a representative of his family name. “When you’re the first ones, you’re carrying the torch almost. It’s like you’re the one who has to represent all these people,” he said. “You have to take every amount of history that is in your family and in your blood, and you have to make something of it.” Malvasio remembers what his mother told him: to always focus on school. He said he believes in the idea that his schooling comes first, especially because of the cost. “Because we’re spending so much time and money on this, to fail would be stupid, and it’s kind of like a disrespect to the family,” he
said. “There’s no other option. Success is the option. Failure’s not.” Since his parents and older siblings were unfamiliar with the U.S. education system, Padilla said, it was often difficult to relate to his parents and ask them for help because of the stark contrast of their educational experiences. “It was hard for me,” he said. “When I had a problem with school ... that’s where the independence comes from. ... I had to figure that out on my own, essentially, because they didn’t even know what I was going through.” Because Padilla is the first in his family to attend college, he said, while there is a lot of pressure to set an example for his family and future generations to come, he has always kept his family in mind throughout his educational career. “I’m going to prove to my parents, I’m going to show my parents ‘Your money’s not being wasted, and you raised a really good son, hopefully, and I’m using everything that you taught me to better myself and the people around me,’” he said. First-generation students often feel both external and internal pressure, primarily from their families, to achieve success. Often, the circumstance of their parents motivates them to further their position by receiving an education, an opportunity their parents were unable to reap the benefits of. Freshman Julissa Martinez is a first-generation student whose mother grew up in a poor family in the Dominican Republic and was ultimately unable to finish elementary school. Martinez said the hardships her mother experienced and the opportunities she did not have influenced her outlook on education. “She always tells me it’s important to go to school,” she said. “I think it’s because she never was able to go. She wants me to have the
mentality of going and becoming successful because she was never students. The college’s Knowledge Without Borders Study Abroad able to [do] that.” Scholarship, however, is preferenced toward first-generation stuDue to the lack of the parents’ college education, many first- dents who are participating in a study abroad program. generation college students also come from low-income families. It The four main departments offering programs to ensure can be difficult for first-generation students to access the resources academic success are the Academic Advising Center, Tutoring necessary to guide them through their educational career because Services, the Office of State Grants, and Student Accessibility Serof financial burdens, such as the inability to afford a tutor. Accord- vices. Padilla said he credits the Office of Student Engagement and ing to the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Multicultural Affairs and the Ithaca Achievement Program for Education, 46.8 percent of low-income, first-generation college helping him succeed throughout his years at the college. students are dropouts, compared to the 23.3 percent dropout rate “They help plan success for [African, Latino, Asian and Native of students who are neither low-income nor first-generation. American] students, and I think first-generation college students While many nonprofits exist to assist and meet the needs of kind of encompass that as well,” he said. “So it’s all about goal setfirst-generation students, most students face the daunting task of ting, where to find certain resources and stuff. So because of that taking charge of their education themselves, as was the case for program, really, I’ve learned to kind of figure out things on my own freshman Cindy Prado, raised in Flushing, New York, by a single but also where to go to find the information that I need.” mother from El Salvador. At one point during college, Padilla said, he was almost unable Prado said her mother does not speak English fluently, so Prado to return due to financial issues. After being awarded the position had to be responsible for the college application process. of a resident assistant and help from OSEMA and IAP, he was able “I had to do all the financial aid calls to certain colleges, I had to return and said the high cost of receiving a college degree is in to deal with FAFSA myself, I had to do the CSS profile myself,” she and of itself a source of motivation. said. “She didn’t know how to do it, and “I think there’s just this expectation I couldn’t blame her for it. I had to basion me that, you know, college is not cally do all the taxes, so I was in charge. “It’s really sad that you’re cheap,” he said. “You know, my family has I was kind of being my own parent at younger, much younger, than raised me with really good morals and that point.” stuff, and it’s all about what I’m doing in Retention and graduation rates of them, but your education is school with the things that they’ve taught first-generation college students tend to much higher than theirs, so me, essentially.” be lower than those who are not the first Despite these hardships, many firstin their family to attend college. Prado there’s no one really around generation students harbor the driving said one factor contributing to this sta- you to help you.” motivation to work hard and succeed. tistic could be the inability of parents to said his loyalty to his family —Cindy Prado Malvasio offer help to their children in terms of drives him to work hard and be a strong their education. role model for his family, and by greater “It’s really sad that you’re younger, much younger, than them, extension, his community. but your education is much higher than theirs, so there’s no one “Family is loyal to each other, especially in the Hispanic comreally around you to help you,” she said. “And you have to look for a munity. We are extremely loyal to our people,” he said. “So even if tutor, but tutors cost money, so then you don’t have money, so you I’m not representing just my family, I’m representing Hispanic peodon’t have a tutor. ... There’s no person to fall back on for support ple, and I’m representing all the [people of color], so if one makes that’s not emotional or mental support.” it, we all make it.” Accompanied with the pressures of achieving academic sucEver since his freshman year, Padilla said, he has remained very cess are the financial strains first-generations must shoulder, as is involved with OSEMA and the student community at the college. the experience of freshman Alexa Ubeda. Because she is here on This year, he is the senior class president and has also served as a scholarship, she said, it already places pressure on her to main- an orientation leader, an RA and the president of several student tain her grades to keep her scholarship and continue attending organizations. He has also worked for OSEMA and studied abroad the college. in Sydney, Australia, during the Spring 2015 semester. For all these “I need to keep up my grades. I need to make sure to have my experiences, Padilla gives credit to being a first-generation student priorities straight so that I don’t lose my scholarship because my and the mentality ingrained in him from his parents. He said evparents don’t have a degree and, therefore, their jobs are not as erything he does ties back to his family roots and the motivation to good, and so they don’t have the money to pay for my education,” succeed and make them proud. she said. “And also, I feel like I have that pressure of my financial “My parents came here, like, with the American dream in mind, needs and some people don’t have that pressure — I feel like that’s so I think I kind of like to think of myself as a child born in that a privilege.” kind of mentality,” he said. “I think my parents, especially, wanted to Sally Neal, director of the Center for Academic Advancement raise a child here in the U.S., kind of reap the benefits they weren’t at the college, said via email at the time that the college did not able to achieve in the Philippines, essentially. So I think I’m, like, offer any specific programs for first-generation students so as to what they wanted in life, essentially, so I take every single opportunot single out this specific group. Instead, she said, the college of- nity, and I don’t hesitate. I put a lot on my plate every year that I’ve fers several services to provide academic support for any and all been here, but I think at the end of the day, it’s all worth it.”
first to finish
first-generation college students overcome obstacles to achieve success
WhO is a first-generation student?
A student whose parents did not graduate from college with a baccalaureate degree.
at higher institutions are first-generation
Completion Rates by first-generation
} } } }
10.9% Attained Bachelor’s degree
16.1% STILL ENROLLED
24.9% Attained Bachelor’s degree
15.5% STILL ENROLLED
} } } }
SOURCE: NATIONAL CENTER FOR EDUCATION STATISTICS
26.1% Attained Associate’s degree or other
They earned comparable salaries
and were employed in similar occupations
as their non–first generation peers SOURCE: NATIONAL CENTER FOR EDUCATION STATISTICS
PERCENT WHOSE PARENTS RECeIVED A HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION OR LESS
46.8% DROPPED OUT
LATINO AND HISPANIC STUDENTS
21.8% Attained Associate’s degree or other
NATIVE AMERICAN STUDENTS
37.9% DROPPED OUT
CAUCASIAN sTUDENTS 45%
BLACK OR AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDENTS
SOURCE: PELL INSTITUTE
SOURCE: NATIONAL CENTER FOR EDUCATION STATISTICS
First- generation students differ in how they finance their education...
IF first-generation students
attained a degree
PARENTS OF CURRENT COLLEGE ATTENDEES’ EDUCATION LEVEL
51% receive financial aid 42% receive grants 22% receive Loans ... from their non–first generation counterparts. SOURCE: NATIONAL CENTER FOR EDUCATION STATISTICS
SAM FULLER/THE ITHACAN
By Evin R. Billington
Senior Michael Schwartz is one of several Ithaca College students who works at the Ithaca Generator, a makerspace that encourages creativity and ingenuity. The students participate in hands-on learning. SAM FULLER/THE ITHACAN
BRIGHT IDEA Ithaca Generator fosters students’ creativity
Tucked away down Press Bay Alley in downtown Ithaca, at the bottom of some stairs, behind two sets of heavy doors, a group of students is gathered. The room is decorated in a dad’s-garage-meets-mad-scientist’slab sort of aesthetic — a flashing grid of Ping-Pong–ball lights dance in one corner opposite a bright arcade game. The walls are covered in tools. Nearly every horizontal surface is cluttered with wood or metal. The sharp scent of sawdust stings the air. The only external betrayal that this is an organized space, and not simply an eccentric’s workshop, is a bright yellow sign over the first set of doors. There’s no writing on it, simply the print of a smiling cartoon robot face. This is the first indication that the building houses the Ithaca Generator, a makerspace and collective that offers makers of all backgrounds the space, tools and community to create. At its core, a makerspace is a place for making things. Nearly every major city has one or multiple makerspaces now. Creators come in to make anything from phone applications to furniture to robots. If you can do it yourself, you can make it in a makerspace. The Ithaca Generator’s makerspace offers members an opportunity to use tools like 3-D printers and laser cutters and saws, and also brings together a community of people that can collaborate. Anyone can come to makerspace open hours, held periodically every month, but in order to fully
LIFE utilize IG resources, makers have to become members and pay dues. There’s a tiered payment system depending on the type of materials the member would like to use, and student discounts are offered. Every day brings forth a new cluster of projects. On this particular day, Feb. 10, Ithaca College students in Xanthe Matychak’s Make Better Stuff Studio class are making laser-cut boxes. They trace each wall with the laser cutter, which reads a drawing from the computer and then burns jigsaw-edges into the thin wood. “If anything starts to catch fire … take it out and stomp it,” Matychak cautions her students. The wood pieces are transferred from the laser cutter to a worktable, where students use thick Titebond II glue to fit the five pieces together. It sounds simple, but the sides don’t stay up very well on their own, and a few students struggle to keep the pieces from toppling as they dry. In the end, though, the boxes are assembled without much incident, and class is dismissed. This class is a pilot course in environmental science. Matychak, a lecturer in the Department of Environmental Studies and Science, said the first weeks of classes were focused on sustainable design principles: making stuff that is both sustainable and utilitarian. Now the students are moving on to their first project: light boxes that were presented at Ed Tech Day on March 24. In addition to the laser cutter, the students use Arduinos, small computers that control physical movements, to program the lights. She pulls an Arduino out of one of the many drawers lining the walls. It’s tiny, about the size of the palm of a hand, dotted with an organized and awfully technicallooking grid of electronics. “I don’t have a background in electronics. I’m not an Arduino master, but I can make lights do things, and I can make motors do simple things,” Matychak said. “I pretty much cut and paste, and that’s what I’m going to teach them how to do. In the simplest way, it makes stuff do stuff. Matychak said it’s very common for members of makerspaces to share materials among one another. She gestures to a laser-cut wood Millennium Falcon hanging from the ceiling. It, along with a few lasercut TIE fighters, were created from a shared template posted online.
“Part of this culture is that people share stuff, so they make computer code for different things and post them online for free,” she said. “You can grab it and use it straight up and manipulate it, or whatever you want.” Creating sustainable objects is of particular interest to Matychak, whose background is in industrial and product design with a focus on sustainability. She said she wants her class to introduce students to desktop manufacturing, using software like 3-D printers to create objects, a new tool she says IG is at the cutting edge of. “So just like desktop publishing in the
’80s, where people could all of a sudden layout their own newspapers and books and print them, we can now do that with physical products,” Matychak said. “What happened is the cost of that technology has dropped to the floor, and the ease of use is coming up.” The first imaginings of IG were actually in the ’90s at the cusp of another technological revolution: the Internet. Matychak said founding president Mark Zifchock and his friends used to get together and mess around on the Internet, which was becoming more available to the average tech geek. “They would just play with it and were like, ‘This is going to be huge one day. I can feel that this is going to be really important,’ and so they just got together every week and messed around with it,” Matychak said. Zifchock said these meetings were also the seed of one of IG’s founding principles: that people can and should make Many of those who produce work at the Ithaca Generator focus on their own things. sustainability and on creating environmentally friendly products. In the early ’90s, he SAM FULLER/THE ITHACAN
Students in Ithaca College lecturer Xanthe Matychak’s Make Stuff Better Studio class work in the Generator. SAM FULLER/THE ITHACAN
said, he and his friends were deeply into the punk rock scene of the late ’80s and ’90s. It was a community where doing it yourself was emphasized, both out of necessity — it’s hard to find pants with zippers and safety pins all over them in Ithaca — and interest in taking products and transforming them. “You had to sew your own punk-rock clothes and make your own stuff, and we created our own notion of it — our own culture of it,” Zifchock said. “It’s really empowering to say that I’m making my own stuff, it’s my stuff, I made it, nobody commercially created this for me. It had all of the wonderful sort of sensibilities and imperfections of things that are handmade.” This ethic of transforming commercialized objects, he said, informed one of the guiding principles of IG, which he; his wife, Claire; and a few friends established in 2012. “It was really important to us that we reveal to people that they can create stuff themselves, and the thing they create has a value intrinsically because you created it and you got it there,” he said. This idea spoke to Aaron Zufall, a sophomore at the college who joined IG his freshman year. Now Zufall is on the board, and he said he usually uses the space to
create small objects to make his life easier. “I like woodworking. I’m not great at it, but sometimes I’ll come down here,” Zufall said. “When I showed up at my dorm this year, the wardrobe I had only had half a coatrack, and so I just came down here on the first day of school and built another coat rack for the other side of the dorm because I couldn’t fit everything.” However, he said, myriad large projects are simultaneously being created at IG. One member is working on building a boat. Another is building a solar-powered bike rack. There are members who specialize in areas such as electronics, programming, and woodworking, and different members will often collaborate to produce one project. Zifchock echoed this idea. He said one of his favorite projects was a go-kart created by Claire and a few other IG members. The go-kart, which was built using a child’s Power Wheels car and shaped like a green dragon, was raced at a Maker Faire in New York City and won some awards. “It was cool. It was great,” he said. “My wife had never welded before, and she was gleeful to have sparks flying. It was pretty exciting. They raced around, and they were repairing it in the pit and everything. We had a lot of kids who were helping out with it. … They were there, cheering us on. I think it was a really successful project in a lot of ways.” Zufall said he is the only IG member who is a student at the college. As a board member, he’s working on changing that and attempting to add to the diversity of the Generator. There are currently about 48 members, but only 30 percent of the members are women. This is perhaps a high number when compared to other makerspaces, but both Matychak and Zufall want to increase that number to closer to 50 percent. Matychak said she thinks the first step is adding more women to the board, which currently has a female president. “Diversified leadership leads to diversified membership. … You can’t be what you can’t see,” she said. One strategy Zifchock is working on to increase general membership takes the form of a little robot. The idea is that he will build a robot that can be controlled using a phone application. The robot will roll around town and interact with people, drumming up more attention for the Generator and, in doing so, add members. So
far, the robot is still in the first stages of development. The robot’s body is a potbellied Honeywell air filter with two wheels. Zifchock opens it to reveal a nest of wires and Arduinos. He’s not sure when it will
“It was a question we had to ask ourselves again and again. ... It’s something that I’d like to continue to talk about as a makerspace: How is technology serving people, human beings, in an egalitarian way?” —Mark Zifchock
be done — he has a few other projects that are more in demand of his attention — but he’s got big ideas for it. He wants to add googley eyes and a tongue around the handle to make it more anthropomorphic and engaging. “The idea with the robot was that there would be a companion also, so we have a big robot and a little robot. … The operator can imbue it with a sort of individuality and spirit that people really like,” he said. “I think that if we had two robots — a little one and a big one — I think people would go nuts. You could do all sorts of hilarious and fun things with it. I think it’s a great way to show people what we’re about.” Zifchock said it’s important to him to make sure technology is used in a way that benefits humans, like the robot. Beyond being cute, this robot has a purpose: to benefit the makerspace and the people within. Technology is powerful, he said, and the Generator tries to use it to human advantage. “It was a question we had to ask ourselves again and again. … It’s something that I’d like to continue to talk about as a makerspace: How is technology serving people, human beings, in an egalitarian way?” Zifchock said. “Because to ignore that, we can pursue efficiencies that don’t serve humans, or serve them unequally. We can create a world that doesn’t look like anything we’d like to imagine.”
LIFE STRENGTH OF FAITH
Despite prejudice, Muslim students remain grounded in faith By Celisa Calacal Inside the sanctuary of Muller Chapel, senior Anikah Shaokat sits alone by the glass windows, her eyes closed and her hands held close to her face. She has just finished praying, and the space around her is completely, utterly quiet. Her mouth is closed, and her face remains peaceful. But within the silence, she is talking to Allah. Shaokat is a practicing Muslim student at Ithaca College — one of 1.57 billion Muslims in the world, according to the Pew Research Center in 2011. A monotheistic faith, Islam is currently the world’s fastest-growing religion, with Muslims predicted to make up 29.7 percent of the world population by the year 2050. The word “Islam,” which is derived from the Arabic word “salam,” means “submission,” primarily to the will of God, referred to as Allah. The words peace and safety can also be derived from the word “salam.” Some of the basic tenets and central beliefs of Islam include the belief in one God, Allah, and the practicing of the Five Pillars of Islam: shahada, salat, zakat, sawm and hajj. Shahada translates to the
confession of faith that becomes the two fundamental beliefs: Allah is the only God, and Muhammad is God’s messenger. Salat is the Islamic ritual prayer, in which Muslims are called to pray five times a day: roughly at dawn, midday, afternoon, sunset and evening. Zakat calls Muslims to be charitable and give aid to others. Sawm refers to fasting during the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. This fasting is seen as a form of selfpurification. Hajj refers to the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the holiest city in the Islamic faith. If they have the means, Muslims are expected to fulfill this duty at least once in their lifetime. An international student born in Bangladesh, Shaokat grew up in a Muslim household. Shaokat was introduced to different principles in regard to practicing her faith and said Islam has had a strong influence in shaping her personality. “I believe in equality, I believe in love, I believe in kindness, and
From left, seniors Anikah Shaokat and Jihan Mou identify as Muslim students. One of the most central Islamic teachings is the belief in one God, Allah. MICKEY DANN/THE ITHACAN
I believe in empathy,” she said. “And I think that is what religion and Chapel’s interfaith community, and every Friday at 1 p.m. the chathat is what Islam is all about, especially for me.” pel hosts Jumu’ah, the congregational prayer held by Muslims As evidence of her strong ties to her faith, Shaokat tries her best every Friday. The service begins with an open discussion about the to follow the Quran, the Islamic holy book. The Quran and the Ha- religion and is followed by prayer. Jumu’ah is led by retired Dana dith are the two main sacred texts of Islam, teaching the beliefs, professor Raquib Zaman. practices and values central to the religion. The books also serve as Junior Arham Muneer, a Muslim student who attends the Frihistorical documents, retelling the origins of the Islamic faith. The day prayer, said the leader of the service can be anyone who is Quran is considered the most sacred, as it is believed to be the word well-versed in Islam. In other Muslim communities, the prayer of God revealed to Muhammad. The Hadith records the sayings leaders in the mosques are individuals who are respected and and practices of Muhammad. Together, the Quran and the Hadith knowledgeable about the Islamic faith. serve as the foundation for Islamic practice and Sharia, Islamic law. Like other religions, an aspect of Islamic law forbids certain In fulfilling “salat,” Shaokat actively tries to pray five times a day foods from being consumed, such as pork and alcohol. The term despite the busyness of college life. “halal” is used to refer to these dishes and specify what foods can “I try to say my prayers five times a day, which is very hard,” she be eaten as well as the preparation of those foods. Pork is the only said. “When you’re saying your prayers, there’s a matter of cleanli- meat forbidden to eat, and in terms of other foods, the source, cause ness. There’s a matter of dressing a certain way. There’s a matter of of the animal’s death and how it was processed are also taken into covering yourself appropriately, which I try to do my best when consideration. Muneer said that while other Muslims he knows do I’m praying.” not necessarily follow halal, he makes the personal choice to make Shaokat chooses to practice Isdietary decisions adhering to it. However, lam in her own way and said she he said since many people at the college do strongly identifies with her faith. “I do the things that the not know exactly what halal means, he usu“I do the things that the Quran ally resorts to saying he is a vegetarian when mentions to do: I pray, I read my Quran mentions to do: I pray, asked if he has any dietary restrictions. Quran, and I just practice being I read my Quran, and I just Junior Zamar Malik is also an internaa good person at heart,” she said. tional student from Pakistan and said he “And that’s the sole meaning of practice being a good person has learned of more resources available for Islam, is like you have to practice at heart. And that’s the sole practicing Muslims throughout the Ithaca being a good person throughout community, especially at Cornell University. meaning of Islam, is like you your entire life.” “I actually spent Ramadan here in Shaokat said she came to the have to practice being a good Ithaca, and I don’t think it would’ve been United States three years ago. possible had I not been going to Cornell evShe said her arrival to the States person your entire life.” ery day,” he said. “They were giving us free brought about an increased aware—Anikah Shaokat meals every day.” ness of the ways in which her As the number of Muslim students religion is misconstrued by othcontinues to grow, Malik said, he ers. She said it made her realize she would constantly be battling wants the administration to become more inclusive of the those stereotypes. Muslim community. “I had to answer a lot of questions. I had to get into some very “I’ve always felt that we’ve never really been included in anyawkward conversations, so I mean, it has definitely affected my ex- thing,” he said. “There’s no inclusivity, and trust me when I say this: perience here,” she said. “And to this day, I think that’s something There’s a huge amount of Muslim population on this campus. I’ve that really, really saddens me: the fact that the world can’t get over met them, and I know them.” the fact that Islam really isn’t what extremists portray it to be.” Students themselves have taken action to bring more awareness When she first arrived at the college, Shaokat said, many people to the Islamic faith. One example is the college’s first Eid Banquet, were surprised that she was Muslim because she did not fit the hosted by the South Asian Students Society on Nov. 1, 2015, in stereotypical, perceived appearance of a Muslim woman. She does Emerson Suites. not cover her head, and she said even wearing jeans and a T-shirt The Eid Banquet is named after the Muslim religious holiday would shock others. Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of “People in the United States and people here in Ithaca College fasting. Eid is a Muslim festival of family, friends and communiwere used to the image of a Muslim woman being shy and being ty. Muneer, who is also a co-president of SASS, said the executive under the covers and kind of a little more conservative than I was,” board wanted to turn the event into more of a learning, educational she said. “I’ve been just as influenced by Westernized cultures as I celebration rather than a full religious event. have by traditional aspects of my culture. Being a Muslim student “The idea of having it on our campus — we’re not trying to on this campus is sometimes a little taxing because you have to go make it a religious event. It’s more of like a celebration,” he said. “So out of your way to explain to people what it’s like to be Muslim and we’re trying to get people to know more [about] what Eid is but still what’s it like to be a Muslim woman.” celebrate it.” At the college, Islam is not its own separate religious entity like Sophomore Joseph Fenning is in the process of starting a Hillel and the Catholic Community. Instead, Islam is part of Muller Muslim community organization, called Alif-Iqra, to educate
LIFE community of African, Latino, Asian and Native American students, she has never told another student who is not part of the ALANA community. “The reason why I’ve never told a person that’s non-ALANA is because, from my experience, they haven’t really cared to ask me where I’m from or, like, what my religion is, so that’s why,” she said. “As in the ALANA community, they actually care about where I’m from, how I practice, am I religious — they actually give you the time of day to get to know you.” Despite the lack of awareness of Islam, Shaokat said she feels the college community is generally accepting of her faith. While she personally has not faced any blatantly ignorant interactions with students about Islam, she said most of the students she has personally spoken with have expressed an interest in wanting to learn more about the religion. “They’ve always wanted to know what Islam is actually like instead of relying on the stereotypes the world’s created,” she said. “In general, everybody here is very accepting. There’s always that want to learn here, which is very, very refreshing.” Perhaps one of the most widely accepted and most damaging stereotypes about Islam is its suggested promotion of violence, falsely supported by the events of 9/11 and ongoing turmoil across the Middle East. In addition, public reaction to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, that killed 129 people have relied on this stereotype of violence for justification, along with exacerbating feelings of Islamophobia, the dislike or prejudice against Islam or Muslims. Following the tragedy, Shaokat said these reactions only further destroy Islam’s already-damaged reputation. With Islam’s being a peaceful religion, she said she hopes people take it upon themselves to educate themselves instead of relying on misconceptions. “Just know that terrorism doesn’t have a religion,” she said. “Growing up in a Muslim household and as a practicing Muslim, like, I couldn’t kill a spider because it was a sin. So you can’t tell me that killing people is the definition of Islam because that’s not what it is.” Shaokat also said the issue of terrorism cannot be correlated with religion. “This really isn’t a religious problem. ... It’s a terrorist problem,” she said. “People all over the world need to understand that you cannot relate these two things. And that’s one of the most detrimental things you can do for the human race, is to mislead the perception of millions and billions of people by constantly forcing them to correlate religion and terrorism.” Malik said he feels both a sense of pride and shame in his religious identity. “I feel proud being a Muslim, but at the same time, it comes out to be shameful because the From left, junior Lima Hossain, sophomore Anushka Rajbhandari and freshman Aarti Patel attend way you are portrayed in the media, because of the South Asian Students Society’s Eid Banquet on Nov. 1, 2015. SAM FULLER/THE ITHACAN the way others judge you, others look at you,” he
students about Islam as both a religion and a culture. He said he has approached several professors about his idea and has also collaborated with other students about it. He said he wants the organization to be integrated into the community and to include both Muslims and non-Muslims who would educate the campus community on the religion by dispelling stereotypes and correcting misconceptions. Despite the pocket of security and community within the chapel and clubs like SASS, some Muslim students feel the need to safeguard their faith. Muneer identifies as a Muslim student as well as an international student from Pakistan and said he is wary of sometimes being used as a spokesman for his identity. “More often than not, I have to be aware because I feel — and sometimes it’s proven to be true in my interactions with other people on this campus — that I’m sometimes in a position where I’m taken as the representative of my entire country’s population or a representative of Muslims around the world,” he said. Senior Jihan Mou also identifies as a Muslim student and said that while she has disclosed her religious background with the
said. “And you are always afraid of being labeled as a terrorist for nothing.” During the Fall 2013 semester, Malik said, he was called a terrorist by a professor. Malik said the interaction reflects poorly on the college. While he chose not to report the incident to the college, he said, he believes experiences like this provide a real-life approach. If the college had been a safe and inclusive community, he said, he doesn’t know how his experiences would have turned out. “I think that Ithaca is doing a wonderful job at providing a real-life approach by having racist professors or stuff like that,” he said. “And I think that now I’m very much prepared for the harsh world because Ithaca has been harsh on me that I’m mentally ready for it.” With so many rampant misconceptions about Muslims and Islam, Malik said he believes placing all Muslims within the same boat ignores the fact that all Muslims will interpret the religion in their own way. “Religion is a very personal thing with each and every Muslim,” he said. “You will see Muslims who drink; you will see Muslims who don’t drink. There are conservative Muslims; there are liberal Muslims. … And that’s one of the things that I want people to know, is that you cannot judge a Muslim according to Islam.” But despite the misinformation and miseducation of Islam, both Muneer and Shaokat said they do not personally feel the need to defend themselves or their religion any longer. “It’s almost patronizing to have to defend my religion because why should I? My religion is my right,” Shaokat said. “I can be who I want. I can believe what I want. It says more about the person being judgmental about a religion than the person being judged or the religion being judged.” Shaokat said she believes there is significant room for misconceptions to be destroyed and stereotypes to be deconstructed surrounding Islam. And with interactions like what he experienced at the college, Malik said he’s learned to simply shrug them off and instead prove the stereotypes untrue. “You don’t stop living just because some people hate you,” he said. “Instead, you make it a point to prove those people wrong by being the person they never expected you to be. They expect you to be a terrorist. Instead of falling into their expectations, be what they could never expect you to be. Be the successful one.”
Political tension is a source for Islamophobia By Jason Freitag
Feb. 17, 2016
When I teach my courses on the history of Islam, by the end of each class at least one person asks “Why is there such Islamophobia here?” This question is not an easy one to answer. Global events have brought aggressively political actions carried out in the name of Islam to parts of the world that had heretofore been untouched by them (for instance, the United States) and therefore to the fore of international attention. Terrorist acts, military uprisings and cruel public spectacles of death — political acts all — have come to be associated with Islam itself, as if the religion necessitates these behaviors in some way. To elide the difference between political acts and personal identity, however, sits at the root of the problematic representation of Muslims. Personal anxieties about identity are being written into purportedly inevitable, intimate truths about the nature of Islam. Most basically, the “War on Terror” shapes the underlying calculus about Islam in the U.S. Extremist groups and their extreme actions form the threat against which our government enacts a security policy that makes all Muslims suspect and enlists all U.S. citizens in a politics of fear. From police surveillance in local communities to airport scrutiny and no-fly lists, Muslims face a regime of governmental othering, unrelated to actual risk, that lays the groundwork for the perception of Muslims in all areas of life. Some dangerous Muslims make all Muslims dangerous in our minds. The security state configures the grounds for this othering, but personal anxieties extend the dynamic in disparate ways. The first is in confrontation with the changing demographics of the United States. An African-American president with a Muslim sounding name presides over a nation wracked by increasing bouts of racism and religious bigotry. Obama’s identity is a metaphorical key to the vitriol with which both African-Americans and Muslims are now treated in this country. A conservative white identity is in crisis. Historically accustomed to looking towards precincts of power and seeing itself, it now shudders at the sight of different races and creeds present where it feels it has the sole right to be. The personal angst and fear that comes from direct encounter with otherness in familiar spaces runs unchecked through Islamophobic discourse, and parallels the vigorous racism that also marks this backlash. Another element of anxiety operates on the global political level. We must be clear that the contempt for Islam in political discourse is just that, political. Both political Islam and the fact of American political Islamophobia are a recognition of political and not religious realities. Visions of a dangerous enemy among “us” beholden to radical ideas, and therefore radical actions, do indeed relate to real tensions in the world. These tensions, though, come from a contest for political supremacy. The proper focus in the phrase “Islamic State,” for example, should be on “state” and not “Islamic.” Political actors are making claims for representation and legitimacy, and contesting those claims in public, secular space. The ground of this contest is not religious, and to make it appear as such obscures the fact that the demonization of political Islam in this case is a result of the recognition of sameness, not one of difference. “We” and “they” occupy, and make claims on, the same space. Islamophobia in its current forms is an outgrowth of a nervous system of personal and political identities interacting in common spaces. Whether it is the racialized apprehension of difference in shared intimate spaces, or the violent contestation in public political space, Islam is a, but certainly not the sole, source of tension.
LIVE R´ A ´ S Senior transforms Irish Gaelic word into way of life
PHOTO COURTESY OF BRENDAN DAVIS
By Kristen Gowdy
From left, senior Brendan Davis and junior Sean Phillips run on Folly Beach, South Carolina. Davis lives by a philosophy he calls Rás Life, which comes from an Irish Gaelic word meaning fast-paced. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRENDAN DAVIS
Senior Brendan Davis has two paces in his life. The first is that at which he runs. It’s a steady pace, the constant pounding of cross-country sneakers against worn dirt trails. Davis is familiar with the rhythm, his acclimated muscles flexing melodiously in tune with the pack of teammates that surrounds him. The second is that at which Davis strives to live. This pace is more complex than the easy strides of running. It is very difficult to describe, but that doesn’t mean Davis doesn’t try. He usually uses just one word: rás. While “rás,” an Irish Gaelic word, literally translates to “race,” Davis interprets the word to mean “fast-paced.” And while rás could easily be associated with running, in Davis’ mind, the two are relatively different. Davis works to be fast on the cross-country course, but to him, rás doesn’t mean “fast” in a literal sense. It’s not about quickness. To Davis, it’s conceptual. It means adventure. It means travel. It means telling stories and inspiring others. Once rás had planted itself in the back of Davis’ mind, he wanted it to be something more. His mother is from Ireland, and Davis is an Irish citizen; thus, he feels a strong bond with Irish culture. For the moment, rás was just an idea. But he wanted to live it.
PHOTO COURTESY OF BRENDAN DAVIS
It began in a marketing class during Davis’ junior year of high school in Cornwall, New York. The assignment was to create a theoretical business and develop its marketing strategies. Davis saw the opportunity to invent something that he had been pondering. “I didn’t really want to do products or anything,” he said. “I chose to make an outdoor company.” He called it Rás Life. While Davis’ marketing class ended, Rás Life did not. Combining filmography with his passion for the outdoors and being active, Davis began making videos that told other people’s stories and uploading them to YouTube. “It started out just me and my friends basically just riding our bikes around,” Davis said. “Then we started skateboarding and making skateboarding videos. It just developed.” When he and his friends began applying to colleges, Davis had frequent conversations with two of his closest friends: Matt McDonald and Kurt Karlson. The way that some of their classmates were picking their majors bothered them. “I talked to other people about what they wanted to study, and they would always say, ‘This and that because it would make me a lot of money’ or ‘Because it was the safe thing,’” Davis said. “There’s no life in that.” Where McDonald found his passion in painting and Karlson in music, Davis, an integrated marketing communications major, knew he wanted to make movies. But more than that, he wanted to inspire people to live the Rás Life. So he expanded beyond skateboarding videos and found a different way to embody rás.
As Davis grew up, so did his videos. He filmed on Wall Street. He profiled a local food truck. He made a two-part movie about a trip he took to the Dominican Republic. And through these movies, he began to learn what it meant to fully live the Rás Life. When he got to Ithaca College, the project only spread. While Davis competes with both the cross-country and track and field teams, he also finds time to film. He nearly always has access to a pocket camera, which he uses to record his day-to-day life and that of the people around him. And during the summers, he travels. In 2013, he joined McDonald — who was studying art in Florence, Italy — and the two journeyed across Italy before traveling to Morocco. Davis had his camera on the entire time. “I had a camera, too, and he made me film everything,” McDonald said. “We had hundreds of hours of footage, and he condensed it into about 10 minutes.” That trip — the result of which was a 14-minute movie titled “Lucid Travels” — spurred Davis’ love for traveling so much that he spent last summer in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Davis’ travels aren’t luxurious experiences. He said he works to find the least expensive flights possible, then finds cheap ways to travel around each country, such as staying with friends and occasionally catching a ride with a stranger — something that happened in Morocco. Still, he did need some money for airfare and other small expenses. He said he funded most of his Costa Rica trip with $20 bills
LIFE he had been saving up in a drawer since his freshman year of high continued existence. Along with being featured in Davis’ “Teacher school, and part of his Europe trip was paid for in coins he had Lectures” video, Flannery used to hand out Rás Life stickers to stubeen saving for years in a jar. dents he felt understood the concept. Through these nontraditional methods, Davis is able In addition to the stickers, Davis also handmade Rás Life Tto immerse himself in the culture of each place he vis- shirts and sold them. As a result, he receives semiregular contact its. It was in Costa Rica last summer that Davis felt most at from those who have been inspired. home. He worked for a nonprofit company and spent his free “That’s probably one of the coolest things, is people telling me, time filming. ‘Oh, I’m going to Ghana for 10 weeks. I can only bring three shirts, Davis said he wants to return to Costa Rica upon graduating and Rás Life is one,’” Davis said. “There’s even people who have a because there, he found a different calling for Rás Life. Rás Life tattoo.” “It started out as filming all these great moments, these unreal No one knows — Davis himself isn’t even sure — what Rás Life moments,” Davis said. “I’m kind of trying to get away from that. will turn into. Flannery thinks Davis could make a living out of it. I hate using the word ‘unreal’ because Karlson, who makes the music for the the moments I want to capture are the videos, isn’t confident about exactly how real moments. Those are the ones that “I talked to other people it’ll change, just that it will. McDonald inspire people. It’s not necessarily gosaid he feels the same. what they wanted ing skydiving, but it could be sitting about “I think the idea will still be the same,” on a porch in Costa Rica with a friend to study, and they would he said. “I think Brendan has changed in drinking coffee.” that he’s really taken it upon himself to That’s one of the biggest ways that always say, ‘This and that pursue his passion. He’ll follow it wherRás Life has changed throughout the because it would make me a ever it takes him.” years. It’s turned into interviewing resiAs for Davis, he just wants to continue dents at an elderly home, to speaking lot of money’ or ‘Because it was to travel and to live the brand that has dewith teachers at his old high school. the safe thing.’ There’s no life veloped into a lifestyle. And through this, he has affected “Something that I’ve really learned those around him. Michael Flannery, in that.” through the lens of Rás Life is just evDavis’ high school statistics teacher, —Brendan Davis erywhere you go, people have the same said Rás Life has left a lasting impact. end goal of being happy,” he said. “Some “He’s got a good influpeople have different needs to be happy. ence on some of the kids who are still in high school,” Flan- People are people wherever you go.” nery said. “Brendan’s encompassing that lifestyle. It’s just in him.” Davis’ videos can be seen online at https://www.youtube.com/ Davis said Flannery has been an inspiration for the project’s user/BrendanDaviz.
PHOTO COURTESY OF BRENDAN DAVIS
M I N D M AT T E R S By Amelia Erikson
JENNIFER WILLIAMS/THE ITHACAN
When I tell people I’m a psychology major, the most common response I get, other than some flippant comment about becoming a shrink, is a question about how I got interested in the field. “Oh, did you go to a therapist as a kid?” “Do you know someone who is, you know, sick? Are you?” While I’ve grown accustomed to the ability of complete strangers to delve into such personal details of my life so quickly, I have never accepted that people never ask if I am actually just captivated by the field. Why do you have to know someone with a mental illness, or have one yourself, to think studying people and their behaviors is intriguing? Beats me. The same goes for my column, Mind Matters. I began writing the column because I find psychology and neuroscience fascinating. There is so much to learn about people, the brain and the biological relationship between neurons and our behaviors. There are endless and ever-growing topics to be covered, and I was particularly interested in addressing misconceptions about mental health on college campuses. But when people mention my writing, they most often ask about the details of mental illness in my private life. So let’s start this piece addressing that misconception. Brains are cool. People are interesting. That’s why I’m writing. It seems wrong to boil it down to those two simple sentences, but when I began writing, there was no greater mission than the fact that I saw a lack of articles about the universe-like system in our heads, and I wanted to fix that. Honestly, I was friends with the editor, and when she asked me to write a piece, the brain was the only thing I could think to write about. My brain is selfish that way, only thinking about itself. As I continued to write, though, I realized I could make a point
and that I could present people with new perspectives. Mental health and illness are touchy subjects. People like to beat around the bush when talking about it, so I tried to be straightforward. If one in four college students is diagnosed with a mental illness, why tiptoe? I went right for the tough stuff: stigmas, questionable diagnoses, medication abuse and more. I took the knowledge I was gaining from class and the information I was collecting from research and compiled articles that I hoped would make people change the way they more typically thought about psychology and mental health. With each article, though, I came back to my first point: Brains are cool. There are only so many opinions that I can have about issues in the world of psychology, but in the end, my main opinion was just that neuroscience continues to be astounding. I was finding it difficult to come up with sides for issues and, more than that, decide which side I was standing on. So I decided that the column was going to be more about presenting information with my own personal twist, rather than a clear-cut opinion piece each week. Mind Matters, with the goal of simply presenting information about the brain, could continue for decades. Just last week, I read about a study that demonstrated inheritable “memories” that can be passed down through generations. And yesterday, I found out that there might be a neurobiological basis for kindness. We are always exploring and learning. Without realizing it, I seemed to end many of my articles with tips for readers. My tip for you this time? Think twice before asking a psychology major if they got started in the field because of their medical history. We’re more than that.
Latest Ithaca restaurant serves up casual, quality eats By Steven Pirani There’s a chatter filling The Rook: clinking glasses and sliding plates; rattling shakers and enthusiastic, laughing diners; bubbling duck fat and fresh beer. It’s a Thursday night, and every inch of the space is occupied by eaters and drinkers. The restaurant is bustling despite the cold trying to sneak in the door. Somewhere, amid the fray, a voice cuts through: “This place is hopping!” It’s a sign of good health for The Rook, located at 404 W. State St., once the location of the now-closed Fine Line Bistro. The restaurant, which offers casual, modernAmerican dining, is the newest addition to Ithaca’s food scene. Only a few months before, this space was under construction, and with the restaurant’s grand opening — Jan. 19 — not quite yet a distant memory, co-owner Autumn Greenberg ’04 said the reception is already showing signs of good things to come. “It’s been really fantastic,” Greenberg said. “People have been really happy about the food and drink — really great, kind words. People are leaving happy and saying they are going to tell their friends. It’s been really positive.” Greenberg is joined by co-owners Gentry Morris and Lila Donaruma, together boasting an impressive portfolio of restaurant and bar experience. Morris, The Rook’s executive chef and the leading mind behind
its menu, has many years of experience feeding Ithaca’s foodies, previously having acted as sous chef at Le Café Cent Dix and Mercato Bar & Kitchen. Meanwhile, Greenberg and Donaruma have both helmed the bar at local cocktail spot the Argos Inn. The trio’s vision for The Rook is simple: to offer Ithaca laid-back, quality eats, regardless of whether a patron is looking to sit down for a formal meal or snack on some appetizers with a cocktail. Donaruma said this versatility is integral to the vision she and the rest of the team had. “I think people are coming later, for cocktails and snacks, and that was really the idea,” she said. “You don’t have to come and eat a traditional three-course meal. You can come and have a bunch of snacks and have some cocktails.” What results is a menu that offers everything from snacks and finger foods — try the duck nuggets or the dirty fries — to larger plates, including an unapologetically delicious pork steak. Morris said he wanted the menu to reflect the restaurant: With its concrete floors and lone brick wall, The Rook could have been a chic, industrial space. Add the large mirror, which backs the bar, and the art hanging on the walls, and the space mellows out. While certainly not the largest in Ithaca, there’s plenty to explore on The Rook’s menu, with trout, spaetzle and gnocchi
TUCKER MITCHELL/THE ITHACAN
decorating tables throughout the evening. Rick Bayo, who visited the restaurant Thursday night, praised The Rook’s small menu and said it hits all the right notes. “They touch all of the bases,” Bayo said. “They have red meat. They’ve got chicken. They have fish. They have veggies. That’s important. … Do one thing, and do it well. Have one steak, and do it well. Have one chicken, and do it well.” While the kitchen dishes out entrees and appetizers, the bar, too, toils away. Cocktails are in high demand at The Rook, with seven house cocktails available to order. Notable among the bunch is the Old Man Winter, a warm-you-up punch of rye and Chartreuse. Negroni are served, perhaps for the first time in Ithaca, on tap, while another six draft lines ensure that there’s some quality craft beer in the mix as well. Greenberg said there was a bit of an expectation for them to meet from Ithaca’s drinkers. “Ithaca loves cocktails, and I think there was an expectation, with enough faces from Argos, that we’re going to put out a good quality product,” she said. “People have loved what they’ve had so far.” The Rook seems prepared to keep churning out happy customers. For Bayo, their work certainly isn’t in vain. “Personally, what I’ve found is that everything they do, you taste the love,” Bayo said. “In everything they do.”
The Rookâ€™s unapologetically delicious pork steak is one of the larger dishes the restaurant offers. Most menu items are smaller plates and finger foods. TOMMY BATTISTELLI/THE ITHACAN
Patrons sit at the bar at The Rook, which was opened Jan. 19. TUCKER MITCHELL/THE ITHACAN
Melody Farraday, bartender at The Rook, crafts a cocktail. TUCKER MITCHELL/THE ITHACAN
A bartender pours beer from the tap. The Rook also offers Negroni on tap. TUCKER MITCHELL/THE ITHACAN
The Rook offers seven house cocktails, including the Old Man Winter. TUCKER MITCHELL/THE ITHACAN
Students struggle with perceptions of diversity at IC AMANDA DEN HARTOG/THE ITHACAN
By Justin Henry During one of Ithaca College’s Fall 2015 Open House events for prospective students, student protesters handed out editions of The Ithacan with the headlines “Students protest racial climate, express no confidence in Rochon” and “Racial remark clouds Blue Sky event” circled in an effort to bring the true racial turmoil on campus to light. “Do you like it here?” one guest asked a protester. The protester responded by saying the African, Latino, Asian and Native American groups on campus were close but that they believed the college’s president didn’t have true regard for them as a community. “It’s no disrespect to him,” the protester said. “It’s just, you’re not going to come in here and try to say to thousands of students, ‘Oh, we care about everybody. We’re a big family.’ It’s just not the case.” Social justice advocacy from groups that seek to amplify the voices of marginalized students has forced the campus community to reconsider itself as a diverse and welcoming place. Much of the resistance to the protest’s efforts marks a perception gap in the college’s climate. For some students, the college is a microcosm of intellectual and cultural diversity, while others see it as uniform and feel alienated by what they see as elitism and exclusiveness.
According to the Fall 2012 campus-climate survey, 57 percent of white student respondents said they thought the college places a high priority on diversity and inclusion compared to 26 percent of African, Latino, Asian and Native American student respondents. This gap is congruent with the survey’s result, which reveals 56 percent of ALANA students agree with the statement “people at the college do not receive equal treatment,” compared to 39 percent of white students. Sociology assistant professor Sergio Cabrera said the college exists in a legacy of many small, elite institutions in the 20th century in rural settings competing for the patronage of wealthy families looking to keep their students away from the vices and minority and poor groups of people in the city. “It may still be a thing, but it’s not as prevalent today,” he said. “The city itself, because of the college, has a reputation for being a welcoming, liberal and diverse place. At least, that’s the reputation.” From the Bronx in New York, sophomore Denny Pena said he felt pressured to alter how he dresses and how he speaks from being surrounded by a predominantly white student body. “I can’t just be like, ‘Yo, what’s up, bro’ and act all hood even though that’s how I really am,” Pena said.
In this act of speaking and behaving differently from how he have had more benefit for the white students than for stuwould in his hometown, he said, he sacrifices a part of his culture dents of color. Although the administration has increased as someone from the Bronx and as a Latin American. diversity in the student body to 20 percent ALANA students, he “You really do lose a piece of yourself — a part of my Western said, it didn’t provide adequate support in the form of ALANA culture from the Bronx and a piece of my real culture from where faculty retention, no provisions for a safe space and no diversity I am,” Pena said. education, leaving many students of color to have to educate against Pena said to reclaim his Latin roots, he goes salsa dancing microaggressions and institutionalized racism. and spends time with his other Latin “Diversity shouldn’t exist here just American friends. to enhance my experience as a white From Bay Shore, Long Island, ” Recckio said. “We should “Diversity shouldn’t exist student, a senior who requested to remain have a diverse community where evanonymous said there were no illu- here just to enhance my ex- eryone is included and celebrated for sions about one’s privilege in their themselves.” perience as a white student. being hometown because the wealthier subAn anonymous sophomore said alurbs were only a minute away from We should have a diverse though most of the people they have impoverished neighborhoods. since they moved into college have community where everyone met “I didn’t realize how not run-of-thebeen friendly, they often find themmill white my life was until I got here,” is included and celebrated selves suggesting to others not to use they said. “It was as if nothing challenged a racist or sexist comment to refer to a for being themselves.” the way these people had thought, and it certain group of people. This is some—Dominick Recckio thing they said they never have to do allowed them to exist in a very shallow version of the world with simple morals with their friends in their hometown of and with less character, less at stake, less Portland, Oregon. on the line.” They described the collective mentality at the college as The source said transitioning into the college posed a great cul- “living-in-denial-together.” ture clash to them. “I think it comes from being judgmental without even realizing “I definitely learned eventually how to translate my experiences it, which I think is common in affluent white communities,” the to a perspective that was easy on the ears of someone of a mid- source said. “I think we like to section ourselves off a lot and not dle-class, white life,” they said. “When I got here, I couldn’t make admit to ourselves the fact we live a certain way means that someanyone relate to me. I would try and tell them, but it would only one else — whether it means the neighborhood across from you alienate me more, and I felt like no one could know me unless they or the next state over or across the Pacific Ocean — that they don’t knew my past first because I realize how prominent it was in who get to experience the quality of life and a lot of the luxuries that we it shaped me to be.” get to have on a daily basis.” Sophomore Theophilus Alexander said upon entering his freshman year as a student of color from Mamaroneck, New York, in Westchester County, he is used to being seen differently. “Look around the library. You don’t see too many people that resemble my color, right? I might be the only black person in this library,” Alexander said. “I’m a tall black guy. Height is already intimidating to people. And then I’m black. When you put those two things together, it creates fear. We all wish we could change it, but that’s just how it is,” he said. Freshman Julia Ladd, from the small town of Bow, New Hampshire, said the college is much more diverse than her predominantly white and wealthy suburban hometown, where she graduated from a school with a minority population of 7 percent. “Coming here, I’ve learned so much about different cultures and even different areas of the United States,” she said. While her high school’s social sphere didn’t let students be themselves, she said she believes the culture at the college allows for students to be whoever they needed to be. Senior Dominick Recckio, president of the StuStudents walk to an admissions open house event to distribute copies of The Ithacan to prospective students. Many students have been vocal about their dent Government Association, said any efforts by unhappiness with how the administration treats students of color. the administration to diversify the student body AMANDA DEN HARTOG/THE ITHACAN
BATTLEFIELD TO SOUTH HILL
YANA MAZURKEVICH/THE ITHACAN
Veterans return to school after military service By Elena Piech
YANA MAZURKEVICH/THE ITHACAN
At age 23, sophomore Bryan Garner is slightly older than the typical underclassman. When talking to his peers, Garner said, he tries not to bring up his experience in the military. “It’s just, you get looked at differently,” he said. “Especially in, like, a college environment, some people don’t really support the military. So unless
someone asks, or it’s needed to be said, then I just kind of blend in with everyone else.” Nov. 11, 2015, was Veterans Day, a national holiday honoring those who have served in the armed forces. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, in 2013, there were 1 million veterans in higher education, and this number
continues to rise. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, this number makes up just 4 percent of the entire higher education student body. The NCSL further reports that 85 percent of student veterans are 24 years old or older. Former registrar Brian Scholten said Ithaca College currently has 17 enrolled students who have disclosed that they are veterans to receive benefits. Before he came to the college, Garner served in the military for four years. After graduating in 2011 from Braden River High School in Bradenton, Florida, Garner spent a year training to become a soldier. Then he was stationed as a geospatial engineer in Anchorage, Alaska. Garner said he joined the military as a way to receive free college tuition and also to give him time to plan his future. “I wanted to go to college, but I didn’t really know what for,” he said. “Being in the military, it gave me that time to think on what I actually really want to do.” When looking for colleges, Garner said he picked the college because the emerging media major enables students to learn animation. Senior Kahi Hylton said he decided to attend the college for its size and learning environment. Hylton, 29, has already served in the Navy for four years, the Reserves for three years and attended a previous university. Hylton transferred to the college after attending Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, last year. Hylton was able to transfer his credits due to the college’s Service members Opportunity Colleges membership. SOC membership allows veterans to easily transfer military or previous college credit to their current institution. The college is one of approximately 1,900 schools that participate in this program. Scholten said the college joined SOC in 2009 and that it continues to participate because it supports veterans. “President Rochon is a strong advocate for and supporter of those who have served the country through the military,” he said. “The college would benefit from the enrollment of mature, highly motivated adult students.” Scholten said the college is able to attract these veterans by working with the programs offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Each program qualifies individuals for different benefits or funding. Hylton said he worked with Holley Westbrook in the Office of the Registrar to determine his financial standing. According to the NCSL, the Post-9/11 GI Bill enables veterans to receive higher education at a cheaper cost by having the government pay for part of their tuition and also providing a monthly stipend. Even though this bill gives veterans a better chance to pay for college, the NCSL reports that veterans can still struggle adjusting to a college atmosphere. Garner said the college lacks programs that assist veterans with their general college experience. Even though Garner tries to avoid talking about his previous military experiences with other students, he said the college should have a program that brings together the veterans. Currently, Garner said, he only knows one out of 16 other veterans enrolled at the college. “I think it would be really beneficial if they were to network us,” he said. “I want to meet them just because we have something in common.” Senior Cody Stahl, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for
four years, said he has spoken to other veterans at other colleges and has heard the benefits of a networking program. “When I first got here, I found it hard to relate to some of the students,” he said. “I was older, and I had a lot of different experiences than some of my classmates. Having a network for veterans can help other students interested in the armed services as well as give other veterans a means to talk and ask questions and seek guidance from those who have been on campus longer.” Hylton said his previous college did have this type of program. “At [Old Dominion University], they had a student organization called Student Veteran Association that worked with students and staff,” he said. “I have been thinking about starting an SVA at IC but have not made the time to finish the application process with the Student Government and OrgSync.” Stahl said that last year, Ryan DeLany, manager of the Academic Advising Center, reached out about trying to form a veteran community at the college. DeLany said an organization like this could be hard to form since students do not have to disclose information regarding veteran status. “If a student does not self-disclose certain information — in this case, that they are a veteran or military-affiliated student — we may not be able to assist as needed,” DeLany said. DeLany said the college plans to work on forming more ways to accommodate veterans. “Due to the recent increase in enrollment of veteran and military-affiliated students in higher education institutions across the nation, it is important to address the specific needs of this student population as best as possible,” DeLany said. Even if the college lacks the ability to network veterans, Garner, Stahl and Hylton all report that the school does give them assistance when they need it.
The West African Drumming and Dance Ensemble performs during the group’s showcase Feb. 26. The class has been taught by associate professor Baruch Whitehead since 2004 and aims to bring a more diverse music selection to the Ithaca College School of Music. FERNANDO FERRAZ/THE ITHACAN
A DIFFERENT RHYTHM
SCHOOL OF MUSIC WORKS EMPHASIZE DIVERSE CURRICULUM By Silas White The tradition of most music conservatories is to teach music that came out of Europe during the classical era. But that’s not all there is to offer — music exists in many forms all across the world. Besides traditional ensemble classes for music majors, the music school also offers numerous classes for music and non–music majors, abbreviated MUNM, or music for nonmajors. John White, associate professor of music theory, history and composition, teaches the class Music in Society, which falls under that umbrella. Music in Society explores the many ways music is used in several cultures around the world, including contemporary America. One of the traditions of music that came from America is jazz, White said. Jazz came out of the African-American community and was not typically taught at music conservatories. The college offers numerous jazz courses under the jazz studies major as well as a jazz performance ensemble, but jazz is not part of the typical
tradition, White said. “Primarily, the conservatories of music were built on American soil to continue the European music tradition, hence white — Bach and Mozart,” he said. “Jazz, as taught at a music conservatory at a music school, is a fairly recent tradition, say the last 30 years.” According to an article written by Bill Zuckerman published on the website Music School Central, American music is not generally on the audition list for music conservatories. Instead, many schools rely on the old European tradition and composers like Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn and Bach. Besides jazz, White also discussed Japanese, African, Indian, Native American, folk and religious styles of music. But even within those, there is great diversity, White said. Tanzanian music is different from Mozambican music, which is different from music from other African countries, and so forth.
Baruch Whitehead, associate professor of conservatories is the inclusion of popular and music education, teaches West African contemporary music. Drumming and Dance Ensemble, “I’ve been realizing more and among other courses. Whitemore how much we’re missing othhead presents workshops on er cultures’ music because this diversity in music educayear, I had founded a chaption for state, national and ter of the Association for international conferPopular Music Education, ences, and was chosen and we’ve been advocatto write a chapter on ing for the inclusion of “Music in the Civil popular music educaRights Movement” tion in conservatories for a book titled and colleges,” she said. “Music and Conflict “And that’s not to say Resolution.” it’s just pop music you “Particularly hear on the radio, but with the rise of POC popular music of any at IC, I think everytype — say a Latino body is looking for band or funk group.” ways to open up the Whitehead said it’s tent,” Whitehead said. the little things that help, When Whitehead belike including music and gan teaching West African photos on the wall outside Drumming and Dance in of the white European tra2004, only 16 students signed dition. Whitehead is the only up, and Whitehead said they had tenured black faculty member in fun but that the experience made the School of Music, he said, but with FERNANDO FERRAZ/THE ITHACAN him wonder why there wasn’t a West the campus’s increasing awareness of these African Drumming Ensemble. He talked to issues, people will stand up and say, “We must then-dean Arthur Ostrander, and now, 12 years later, change.” Other black faculty members of the School of West African Drumming exists as a secondary ensemble. Music, including assistant professors Derrick Fox and John Holi“It attracts a very diverse group of students from across campus, day, do not yet have tenure. and we have access to all of the venues here, in terms of perforEven music written by American composers is underrepremance venues,” Whitehead said. “The School of Music has invested sented in music conservatories. Louise Mygatt is a lecturer in a lot of money in buying drums and the upkeep of the drums and the School of Music and teaches music history courses including those sorts of things, so I feel like it has been very well-supported.” Women in Music and African American Popular Music. Some of Whitehead said it’s important in a changing world to increase the music she covers includes gospel music and jazz. the repertoire of the students graduating from the college. Since “Most pop music in this country has roots in black music — the world of professional musicians is a hard and competitive field, blues and gospel,” she said. the more knowledge they are equipped with, the better chance they Mygatt said people around the School of Music have been talkstand to succeed. ing about ethnomusicology, or music history of people from dif“I don’t want diversity to be a footnote,” he said. “I want us to ferent ethnicities, for years. She said many people feel that music embrace it wholeheartedly, to give it support and to look at the students graduating from any sort of music school need every trick curriculum to see what else we can bring in. I think, as a campus, in the bag, so diversifying is in everyone’s best interest. people are looking at things that have traditionally been institu“When you get out in the professional world, you might think tional racism and how you dismantle that.” you’re going to direct high school band, but then they’ll say, ‘Oh, Seniors Sun Hwa Reiner and Madeline Swartz both spoke can you also direct the chorus?’ Suddenly, you’re a choral director. about music diversity. Reiner is a piano music education major, and Negro spirituals are such an important part of choral music in this Swartz is a Bachelor of Music with an outside field of education country and the world, and you need to know about that music,” studies. One of the problems they mentioned is the curriculum is Mygatt said. already full, but Swartz said there is room for change. Besides the benefit students may receive from increased “The amount of detail we go into is unnecessary,” Swartz said. job opportunities, Mygatt said, music is an expression of cul“It could be replaced with details on other forms of music. When I ture, and learning about the music of other cultures is beneficial was doing my senior student teaching, not all of my students were for everyone. white, and most of them didn’t have that much of an interest in “The more we understand and are interested in one anclassical music.” other’s cultures, the better off we are. It helps people get along,” Reiner said something she would like to see in she said.
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ANNIKA KUSHNER/THE ITHACAN
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QUEEN OF QUEENS Kings and queens perform in annual drag show By Kira Maddox “It’s going to be hilarious, fierce and a little bit scary,” said Em Fazeema, the light reflecting heavily off her hot pink wig. “But I promise, you’re going to love it.” The fifth annual Drag Show on March 26 began with a robotic voice counting backward from 10, and then the kings and queens took to the runway, appearing through a black curtain, strutting, sashaying and swaggering as they walked. The crowd clapped to the beat of the music as the performers each had their own, brief spotlight moment, some showing off their makeup-enhanced abs and others grinding their hips to the beat, tossing their hair over their shoulders. The show was hosted by PRISM, a student organization that focuses on discussing and educating about issues facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and hosted by Ithaca College drag queens Em, a senior whose birth name is Daniel Fogarty, and Vanilla, a senior whose birth name is Aaron Thornton. The more than two-hour event featured about 15 performers, each doing some combination of runway walk or lip-sync routine, clad in a medley of colored wigs, high-heeled shoes and fishnet bodysuits for the queens, and faux facial hair, classy vests and skyhigh mohawks for the kings, each costume reflecting the creativity, personality and textile skill of the performer. The vision for this year’s Drag Show was merely to outdo its past
iterations, Em said. “We’re always trying to top ourselves,” Em said. “Last year was the biggest yet, but we wanted something a little bit bigger. We wanted to just keep the tradition going.” The 450 chairs in Emerson Suites were filled within the first 10 minutes of the doors’ opening, and more students continued to file in, taking seats on the floor or standing along the back wall to watch. Some were there to support friends who were regulars to the show, while others said they had never been to a drag performance before. Vanilla said the show was very small when he participated during his freshman year, with only a few people standing in the audience. Since then, he said, the show has seen steady growth each year, climbing to 100, 250 and finally close to 500 attendees. The number of performers has gone up as well. “We were never this big,” Vanilla said. “When I first started off freshman year, we had maybe six people performing, and sophomore year, we were like a little traveling theater group. … The show’s just gotten bigger and bigger.” Although the event was free, each year, the performers ask for donations that go to a charity of their choice. This year’s organization was The Trevor Project, which aims to provide crisis intervention and resources for suicide prevention for LGBT youth.
LIFE However, Luca Maurer, program director for the Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services and current adviser for PRISM, said the show itself is also in some ways an outlet and a way to connect. “Some of our students have built very deep, personal, significant relationships with each other and with people in the community through their interest in drag,” Maurer said. “From where I sit, one of the biggest challenges to LGBTQ people of all ages, but especially young adults, is social isolation. So we’re describing an event that, by its very nature, counters social isolation.” The songs featured a number of pop pieces along with Broadway works, like “Satisfied” from the musical “Hamilton” and “He Touched Me” from “Drat! The Cat!” There were also original musical performances by special guest Big Dipper, a
“You can be a part of this no matter how you identify: gender, sexuality, race, anything — it doesn’t matter. We come together and have a great time, and it’s really fun.”
—Dragon Phoenix Brooklyn-based gay rapper and 2007 Ithaca College alumnus, who gradually stripped down to a gold body chain and hot pink speedo for his first act, and black and green briefs for his second performance. The audience didn’t seem to mind and applauded just the same for Big Dipper as it did for drag queen Alisha Day’s twerking in a split and as it did for drag king Ben A. Drill in his wolfy beard and ripped jeans. Dragon Phoenix, a sophomore whose birth name is Erin Kohler, said this idea of acceptance is deeply rooted in the college’s drag culture. “You can be a part of this no matter how you identify: gender, sexuality, race, anything — it doesn’t matter,” they said. “We come together and have a great time, and it’s really fun.” Junior Saul Almanzar echoed Phoenix and Em. While he has never performed in drag, he said he was close friends with a number of people in the show and has seen it improve over the years. “It sucks that this can only be one day a year, but it really gives us a place where we feel like we belong,” Almanzar said. Senior Mark Farnum also came to the show to support friends who were performing and said he enjoyed the event for both the theatrics and the message. “I am amazed and so happy,” Farnum said. “I love watching someone enjoying who they are. ... They were dancing; I was screaming. It was a good time.”
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MLK DAY OF SERVICE By Maura Aleardi
From left, sophomores Madeline Jones and Clara O’Connor and junior Sarah Logsdon sand tables Jan. 30 at the New Roots Charter School as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. day of service. SAM FULLER/THE ITHACAN
The sounds of power tools and laughter echoed in the halls of the New Roots Charter School on Jan. 30 as Ithaca College students worked together sanding tables. At the same time, another group of students was among the bookcases and computers at the Tompkins County Public Library wiping down the equipment. They had one goal in mind: helping others. For the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, 80 students participated in volunteer activities at Family Reading Partnership, Finger Lakes ReUse Center, Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library, Tompkins County Public Library, Kitchen Theatre Company and New Roots Charter School, said Don Austin, assistant director for community service and leadership development in the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs. Projects included cleaning computers at the Tompkins County Public Library and sanding tables for students at the New Roots Charter School. Some students, like sophomore Maureen Wietecha, found a personal connection in the volunteer projects. Wietecha, whose mother is a librarian, volunteered at the Tompkins County Public Library. Another volunteer at the library, junior Sabina Leybold, said she chose the project because of the importance of libraries.
“I think it’s especially important to work at libraries because they provide free resources for everyone,” she said. “So if you are able to give back, you should.” Leybold said that along with helping out her own community, she appreciated honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s principles. “His big thing was nonviolence, peace, working with people,” Leybold said. “What we’re doing obviously is nonviolent, is giving back to the community and kind of supporting the things that give us equity.” Austin said that each year, he sees students return multiple times to the organization they volunteered for on the MLK Day of Service. After a day of service, the students gathered in Emerson Suites for a reflection on their experiences. The discussion was led by alumnus Todd Bernstein ’79, founder of the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service and MLK365, a program that encourages citizens to volunteer throughout the year. Austin completed the day by presenting the MLK NOW Award to 10 students who were nominated for their excellent effort during the day. The winners included freshman Victoria Jackson; sophomores Anissa Ash, Efosa Erhunmwunse, Maya Howard and Tyler Reighn; juniors Maya Drummond, Taehoon Kim and Kristen Miller; and seniors
Minerva Dickson and Caitlin Wormsley. Bernstein said he created the MLK Day of Service in Philadelphia in 1996. He said he was proud to be at his alma mater 20 years later, witnessing the students participating in a movement he started. He said he was especially pleased that the day is coming amid a time of change on the college’s campus. “I think there’s a correlation between the efforts of Dr. King to rally broad coalitions, to seek change, and the tireless struggle of POC at IC,” Bernstein said. “From the conversations that I’ve had, it’s only a step in a marathon.” After months of protests and discussions on the college’s campus about equality and justice, many said they feel this year’s MLK Day of Service has a stronger power than past years’. Junior Sarah Logsdon said although she was abroad during the fall semester, she was still able to keep up with the events and appreciate the impact they have on this day of service. Others, like Wietecha, said there isn’t a direct connection but that both causes are working toward a similar goal. “It’s not an act of defiance or anything like a lot of the stuff last semester, but it is kind of, in solidarity, another action to contribute to the whole movement,” she said. Bernstein said this one day of service is just a small part of continuing Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. “Dr. King was a champion of action, not apathy, not one day, but 365 days of the year,” Bernstein said. “It’s important that we use a day of volunteering and turn it into a lifetime of serving others. That’s how you create change.” Logsdon said she enjoys having a day, among a year of volunteering opportunities, to come together with other students and focus on organizations in the community that need help. “There’s other volunteer projects at Ithaca College, but this is the main day people come together in groups that they don’t know each other,” Logsdon said. “They get up at 8 a.m., and they really take a day to not care about themselves as much and just take a day to help the community. … That’s just the most important part of MLK’s message.”
I N T O I DE N T I T Y By Frances Johnson
JENNIFER WILLIAMS/THE ITHACAN
As a young, Asian-American woman, I grew up hearing that Asians were exempt from racism. We were the “model minority”: Every minority group should look up to us because we’re successful, intelligent and wealthy. If one minority group could achieve the “American dream,” then so could every minority group in the U.S. This false notion frustrated me. Like every racial and ethnic minority group in the U.S., Asians and Asian-Americans face their own set of struggles that blacks and African-Americans or Hispanics and Latinos may not face. I was tired of hearing that Asians could never experience racism or that the problems we faced were not as bad as what other minority groups faced. I wanted to shatter that illusion and educate the public as much as possible. A common mistake many people make is using the term “Asian” only to refer to those of East and Southeast Asian descent. South Asians — which include those of Indian, Pakistani, Bengali or Sri Lankan descent — are often excluded. Those who identify as Asian make up 5.6 percent of the U.S. population, according to the 2010 census, which translates to approximately 14.7 million people. Just because someone is of Asian descent doesn’t mean they’re at an advantage or are your “typical” minority success story. As I mentioned in my first column, 12.6 percent of the Asian population in the U.S. lives below the poverty line while the national average of people living below the poverty line is 12.4 percent. In terms of education, 40 percent of Hmong, 38 percent of Laotian and 35 percent of Cambodian populations do not complete high school. And in the workforce, Asians and Asian-Americans are the least likely racial or ethnic minority group to hold managerial positions based on stereotypes of lack of social skills and potentially having an accent. The combination of a small population in the U.S. and the “model minority” myth allow for the average person to believe
that Asians and Asian-Americans don’t experience discrimination. By providing this information, I hope someone was able to erase the “model minority” myth from their mind. One of the main reasons I wanted to write about Asian and Asian-American experiences was because I wanted to share the story behind my personal struggle to figure out my own identity. I was raised by a Taiwanese mother and a white stepfather, whom I refer to as my father. I had trouble fitting into a society that was used to being homogenous: people’s marrying into their own racial and ethnic groups rather than intermarrying. I wasn’t “Asian enough” for many of my Asian or Asian-American peers because I had a white parent, and I was never seen as white for obvious reasons. I spent years answering ignorant and outlandish questions about my parents’ marriage — whether it was a “green card marriage” or if my mother was a mail-order bride — and having to reassure people that the white man picking me up from a school function is my father, not a kidnapper. It wasn’t until I reached my late teens and into my early 20s that I became comfortable with my identity. I’m an Asian-American woman who was raised by loving parents of two different races, even though I’m not biracial, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. My column was a mix of factual information and personal anecdotes. I wanted my entries to be informative and relatable because I know there are people like me — who have been adopted, are biracial or have parents of different races — who share similar stories and feelings. The Asian population may be small in the U.S., but just like anyone else who lives in the U.S., we call this country home, and you should know a little bit about us instead of making assumptions based on stereotypes.
I N T O I DE N T I T Y By Nuria Hunter
JENNIFER WILLIAMS/THE ITHACAN
Writing an opinion column is a terrifying idea, dripping with narcissistic undertones. If I’m writing an opinion column, that indicates I believe my opinion is important and far reaching. It’s a stressful notion to contemplate ideas that have been swimming around in your mind and constantly ask yourself, why would anyone care about this? I’m not under the impression that many people care about my opinion or even agree with it. My aim once I began writing for the “Into Identity” column was twofold: share a perspective and narrative that I knew I had yet to see in The Ithacan so some could relate to it and some could learn from it. I also wanted to use the platform to work through my own frustrations and challenges and hopefully help others do the same. Writing in the media can be a discouraging battle when you’re attempting to find things to connect to. I’ve lived through that struggle and continue to deal with it. When I first applied and then accepted this position as an “Into Identity” columnist, I had absolutely no idea what specific stories I wanted to cover. And then I realized that if I simply opened my eyes to the daily notions of ignorance and privilege — that I both had and denied — the possibilities would be endless. “The personal is political.” As topics began to form every week in my head, that’s the phrase I wrestled with the most. It’s born from feminist movements. Its aim was to declare the connections between personal experience and larger social and political
structures. While we so often get away with thinking that our everyday interactions involve only us, the reality is that in most daily interactions and connections we are taking political stances large and small in the way that we treat one another and in the tone that we interact with the world around us. Here’s how I find my inspiration for columns, in the realization that everything is important. My only regret is that I don’t have more time as a part of the Identity team and the opportunity to write more pieces and have more conversations. It’s disheartening that so often the conversation through articles is one-sided. We lose the essence of dialogue and passion when we are simply looking at the paper and ink. Nonetheless, that’s where the job is placed in the hands of the reader, to go out and have those conversations, to engage with the world around them and derive their own narrative. That’s why I started writing for The Ithacan. I realized that no one who looked like me or had my perspective was writing these columns, so now, hopefully, someone like me will be reading. One of the worst feelings I’ve felt is the sensation that I’m alone, that my experiences don’t matter to anyone, and if I attempted to share them, no one would care. My ultimate goal as a columnist this semester was to prove that is never true, even if only to a small faction of the audience who will in turn reach out and share their own experiences and stories.
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ART POWER OF PERFORMANCE IC Sister 2 Sister reclaimed blackness during Black History Month celebration By Justin Henry Standing center stage with gold papers in hand, sophomore Isabella Gervasoni steps up to the mic, an aura of quiet determination about her. She begins to recite her poem, “Sing A Colored Woman’s Song” to address the objectification of women of color. “Help her away from all that filth, breathing over her shoulder, sucking at her neck, pushing on her so aggressive because no one ever told her that she could do better, no one ever told her there was such a thing as being colored and beautiful all at once,” Gervasoni said. Dressed in all black and proudly wearing the gold black power fist of Malaika Apparel Co. on her chest, Gervasoni was one of several performers who garnered applause from a captivated audience. Led by IC Sister 2 Sister, members of the Ithaca College campus community of color celebrated African-American heritage while displaying through harrowing honesty the everyday alienation and struggle of living as a minority group in a systematically oppressive society. “Reclaiming Blackness: Showcase” yielded an audience of over 100 students, most of whom were students of color, and featured performances in slam poetry, rap, break dancing, music, beatboxing and stepping, most of which came from students of color. The showcase explored and worked to reclaim the social identity of blackness in the 21st century. “This show offers an expression of a feeling of liberation that we can’t get in class because of all the ‘isms’ we face,” said Brittany Gardner, sophomore and co-president of IC Sister 2 Sister. IC Sister 2 Sister is an on-campus group committed to empowering women at the the college through education, discussion and sisterly bonding. In coalition with the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs, IC Sister 2 Sister led a series of performance workshops Feb. 28 in preparation for the showcase that night in Emerson Suites. Centered in the middle of the audience on an elevated stage, the showcase featured current members of the student body, alumni, local artists and a poetry group from Albany, New York. The event was emceed by Gardner JADE CARIDCHON/THE ITHACAN
JADE CARIDCHON/THE ITHACAN JADE CARIDCHON/THE ITHACAN
and sophomore Denise Terrell, community service chair of Sister 2 Sister. Senior Namarah McCall began the event by singing over a live-recorded loop of her beatboxing. She said the showcase offered the campus community a raw, emotional reflection of what people of color really feel. “We, in our community, are told that the things that are the true markers of our identity are the things that we should be ashamed of,” she said. “We’re using them in a way where we’re not appropriating them because it is ours.” Several of the performances featured original rap songs by students, including freshmen Damiano Malvasio, who also goes by Damian Maravola, and Isaiah Horton, while performances from the college’s dance groups like Island Fusion and D.O.P.E Steppers were also scattered throughout the show. Ground Up Crew, the college’s break dancing group, retold the emergence and evolution of hip-hop and underground break dancing culture in the 1970s and addressed the culture’s ensuing oppression from authorities through a dance routine. “Hip-hop started in the 1970s in the Bronx by black and Latino youth,” Ground Up Crew member Garrett Chin said, narrating the performance. “These marginalized people were expressing themselves in a way the world had never seen.” After the performance by Ground Up Crew, member Daein Won quieted the audience and asked the audience members to raise their hands if they opposed the oppression of people and if they knew black lives mattered. “Emancipation Proclamation. 1863. The year is now 2016. Why are we still in chains?” Won said. “All the victims, whose voice we don’t hear, may their souls rest in peace.” He called for a moment of silence for victims of the nation’s police brutalities. Ground Up Crew member and senior Imani Hall said that in his time at the college, he didn’t know of any event exclusively celebrating black culture that had been organized. “For me, reclaiming blackness means getting in touch with my roots and really celebrate all aspects of black culture within the African diaspora,” Hall said. “But realizing and recognizing that
black history isn’t just oppression, that it needs to be celebrated in a positive light.” The showcase also featured a group of poets called The New Poets, consisting of three teachers from a community charter school in Albany, New York. Through their poetry, which they supplemented with the sounds of congas in the background and audience participation, they celebrated African heritage, questioned traditional academia and paid honor to women. “We perform in reverence to a spoken-word form that came out of the ’60s and ’70s during the Civil Rights Movement and the black liberation movement known as The Last Poets,” one of the members said. Sophomore resident assistant Brian Colon said his favorite act was Island Fusion’s performance to Beyonce’s “Formation,” which was a part of a montage of other songs. He said the group was able to convey a powerful message through song and dance. “The message I got was, ‘We’re here, and we’re taking a stand,’” Colon said. “I think they’re taking a stand for their futures here at the college.” Freshman and audience member Nigel Jackson-Avila said the performance that spoke to him more than any other was the one by The New Poets. He said he admired their irreverence of traditionally whitewashed culture. For Jackson, the idea of “reclaiming blackness” is about having pride in his culture. “A lot of times, you’re told to hide your blackness, and it’s just about being able to accept it, acknowledge it and being proud about being black,” Jackson said. Freshman Trina McGhee said that often, there is a negative connotation of being black, but this performance’s message was “this is who I am.” In the midst of racial problems on campus, she said, the showcase offered African-American students a sense community in a time when many feel isolated during everyday life. “There may be only like a couple black kids in your class, and when we get together like this, you see that we’re going to be all right,” McGhee said. “It feels really empowering.”
Student’s clothing line empowers identities By Angela Weldon On a black background, a raised fist appears in a glimmering, metallic screen printing. Wearers of this design proudly show off this symbol of solidarity and support for Black Power. This print is the first item for sale by Malaika Apparel, a Pan-African clothing brand started by Ithaca College senior Rita Bunatal. Bunatal developed Malaika Apparel to deliver a message of empowerment for people of color and bridge the gap between Africans and those in the diaspora. Akwaaba, Malaika Apparel’s first line, was launched online Nov. 4, 2015. Bunatal’s company functions as both an apparel brand and a form of social justice. This first line of Malaika Apparel seeks to welcome customers across a spectrum of identities into the clothing and Malaika’s message. The brand promotes a sense of intersectionality, the study of the overlap of different social identities in relation to systems of oppression.
Senior Rita Bunatal developed her clothing line, Malaika Apparel, to deliver an empowering message to people of color. Her designs have been worn by the POC at IC group during protests. YANA MAZURKEVICH/THE ITHACAN
“I want it to be a brand focusing on the upliftment of color, of plus-sized people of color, of intersectionalities, gender,” Bunatal said. Junior Taranjit Singh, a friend of Bunatal’s who helps with the logistics of Malaika Apparel, said the first design is a symbolic representation of the racial protests happening on campus and around the world. “This is a way we can express our ideologies without really speaking to it, and in a larger sense, that means a collective identity of empowerment while speaking to the racialization of this campus and abroad,” Singh said. In Swahili, the language of Bunatal’s father, “malaika” means “angel.” In her mother’s language, Twi, a dialect of Akan, “akwaaba” means “welcome.” After Bunatal tried countless names and brand designs, she ultimately came upon these two words, which she said embodied her and her message. Bunatal said this clothing line is a testament to her parents, who have encouraged her to achieve and experience more than they were able to. Bunatal is a first-generation college student for her family. Her Ghanaian mother and Kenyan father raised her in Dallas, Texas. Bunatal moved to Ghana in 2008. After experiencing both American and African culture, Bunatal said she noticed the inconsistencies in the portrayal of people of color. “Having parents from Ghana and Kenya and coming here, I saw a lot of misrepresentations of Africa in the media,” Bunatal said. “I realized that what I saw on TV was not the reality. It’s only giving one side of the story, and that irritated me.” Malaika Apparel was created last spring when Bunatal, who has also been interested in graphic design, began to re-evaluate what career she would like to pursue after graduation. “I like designing, and I like reading about race,” Bunatal said. “So how do I make that come together?” Her designs began to focus on black power and solidarity. After creating designs in Photoshop, Bunatal did extensive research while starting up her company, weighing costs and sorting out logistics. She reached out to several black business owners for guidance. “I look at a lot of black-owned businesses, and they are breaking barriers,” she said. “As a young black woman, I wanted to see that when I was 10, 13. I hope that when I’m old, some 13-year-old will look up to me and say, ‘I want to do that.’” Bunatal designed her way out of the anger, fear and sadness stemming from cases and events involving the Black Lives Matter movement and used those reactions to drive solidarity. “In a way, the designs were my reaction. When those things happen, I’m usually quiet. I have a lot of things to say, but I don’t
know how to say it. I think the easiest way for me was to design it,” she said. Bunatal said she is challenging norms with this company. For her brand, Bunatal uses solely models of color as well as plus-sized models. As she seeks to change the representation of people of color in the media, Singh said Bunatal is breaking racial, gender and heteronormative barriers. Bunatal said she hopes to provide affirmative examples of body positivity and to change misrepresentations of natural black hair and other issues affecting people of color in the media. “She’s breaking that racial boundary as well as that gender boundary, which is not largely discussed or seen,” Singh said. “For her to speak out about body positivity and plus sizes is a more powerful part of this.” While Malaika Apparel is meant to empower people of color, Bunatal said her clothing is meant to be shared and enjoyed by all: men, women, white people and all people of color. Bunatal presented her work at the college’s Park Tank event in October 2015 and now works with an Ithaca screen-printing company to manufacture her products. Bunatal said she’s received nothing but good feedback about her brand. Bunatal cited the many friends, family and professors who helped make her business a reality. Sophomore Brittany Gardner was one of Malaika Apparel’s first customers. Gardner said she admires Bunatal’s dedication and is happy to support black-owned businesses. Gardner said she purchased the shirt with the Black Power fist because it ties the movement together. She said she believes Bunatal’s company will be successful from what she has seen so far. “The amount of people who want shirts — including faculty and students — it shows they’re very proud of the design and of Rita and also how it connects people, in a sense,” Gardner said. Moving forward from her successful launch, Bunatal said she is looking to create sustainable partnerships with continental, Ghanaian and Kenyan organizations. She said she would also like to team with local grassroots organizations and that she hopes her clothing brand will affect people throughout the world and someday grow into more than just apparel. “I think being genuine is one of the more beautiful things about a brand,” Bunatal said. “It’s real people who are affected by real problems in the world.” Bunatal is currently working on releasing more designs for the future. She also recently released a line designed for the empowerment of women of color. Singh said Bunatal’s intersectional approach highlights the power of her company’s message. “With Rita’s voice, it’s an empowerment not just for the racialization aspect, but for women as well,” Singh said. “This fabric represents the intersectionality of oppression.”
“Having parents from Ghana and Kenya and coming here, I saw a lot of misrepresentations of Africa in the media. I realized that what I saw on TV was not the reality. It’s only giving one side of the story, and that irritated me.”
STRAIGHT OUTTA ITHACA Students use hip-hop music, dance and art to promote social change By Kalia Kornegay Every Friday at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Ithaca College Library, a small group of students convenes. The students stand in a loose circle, set a beat with nodding heads and tapping feet, then start to rap: “Now I’m ’bout to go underground with this shovel so dis-shoveled like levels going bounce bounce bounce, someone get high on ’em like he’s just smoked an ounce ounce ounce.” These students are just a few of many at the college who contribute to the campus’s hip-hop culture. Hip-hop has long existed as a form of political protest against racial injustice, expressed through rap music, dance, fashion and street art. Over the years, hip-hop has worked its way up from the street. It’s been criminalized, marginalized, worshipped and appropriated. Now, the genre has come full circle, once again expressing the discontent of a generation. Recent police brutality issues and social activist movements such as #BlackLivesMatter have caused certain hip-hop artists to show support through their work. For example, hip-hop artist Talib Kweli, who performed in Ithaca on Sept. 3, 2015, writes and speaks about social activism and social justice through his music. On campus, some students use hip-hop to bring attention to relevant issues in addition to giving themselves a voice. Freshman Damian Maravola, who prefers to go by Damiano Malvasio, has been writing his own raps since he was 12 years old. "I like handling deep subjects,” Malvasio said. “I like covering topics where people can actually feel things because why make music that people won’t feel? I don’t get that. You want something that connects people. If you make something that people can connect to, it’s easier for them to listen to and for them to love it." Freshman Ben Kaplan has been a fan of rap since he was first introduced to Eminem’s music at a young age, which then led to artists like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. He said the political messages artists have been incorporating into their work has had a definite impact on these social movements. “2014 and 2015 have been two really big years for hip-hop,”
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Kaplan said. “In terms of the amount of great albums being released as well as the social scene and the political scene going on in the world, it’s being heavily reflected in their music.” Junior Dillon Randolph saw Kweli when he performed in Ithaca and said the performance inspired him to produce his most recent song, “Liberation.” Randolph uploads his work to SoundCloud, a website where musicians can share their songs with an online community.
From left, junior Dillon Randolph, freshman Isaiah Horton, sophomores Eric Satterlee and Lensdarly Dieujuste, and freshman Damiano Malvasio freestyle rap. They use hip-hop and rap to promote social justice. RYE BENNETT/THE ITHACAN
“I’ve met so many people through SoundCloud, through YouTube, through Facebook,” Randolph said. “Also there’s a lot of great music on SoundCloud in general. I can listen to beats for hours, not even writing but just zoning out.” Randolph said both the hip-hop and general musician communities on campus are strong and that he’s currently working on bringing these artists together. He started a club this year called AClass Company in order to set up a creative space. Malvasio described it as a place where artists can share ideas and collaborate on songs together. “We’re really building a community,” Randolph said. “I hope by the time I leave, and even by the time the young cats that I know now are getting up in the ranks, I want to create a bigger and better hip-hop and artist community. That’s one of my big goals for this year.” As for what makes a great rap, Randolph said, there are many components but that first and foremost, he listens to the beat followed by the lyrics. However, he said the quality of the song depends on many different factors, and the experience is unique for each listener. When it comes to his own songs, Randolph said, he puts the most attention into the beat. “I focus on the beat first,” Randolph said. “If I really put my heart and mind to it, I could probably write to any beat, but I don’t write to any beat. It’s just not in me to make a turn-up song. That’s not what I aspire to do. I listen to a beat, and if it really hits me, depending on what I’m inspired by at the moment, I’ll focus on the lyrics.” For sophomore Dennis Smith, beatboxing is how he shows his passion for hip-hop. He joined the club IC Beatbox last year when it was first created and is still an active member. When it comes to rapping, he said he occasionally writes lyrics and is starting to put more meaningful content into his songs. “I really enjoy beatboxing,” Smith said. “The boots and the cats I learned pretty young, like 11 or 12, and I started enhancing my skills when I joined IC Beatbox last semester. There are these
different snare drum sounds that you can make, cymbal sounds, and also I like imitating sounds from movies I watch. Whatever I can imagine, I’ll beatbox it.” Junior Casey Lederman, co-president of IC Beatbox, said she got into beatboxing after seeing Blake Lewis perform on American Idol in 2007. Immediately after the episode, she researched beatboxing on YouTube for hours and developed her skills on her own. Now, she leads other student beatboxers to hone their craft. “We spend the last five minutes with what we call a beatbox circle,” she said. “One person starts, and then we all go in and build on this beat. By the end of it, we’re all making noises, and it sounds really cool.” In addition to IC Beatbox, Pulse, the college’s hip-hop dance team, brings even more hip-hop to campus. Hip-hop dance is characterized by a wide range of dancing techniques, including popping, breaking or b-boying, and locking. Other dance teams on campus, such as Ground Up Crew, IC Unbound and Step Team also use these dance techniques in their routines. Senior Stephanie McCulloch had never danced hip-hop before coming to college, but after deciding to audition for Pulse on a whim, she made it in and has been dancing with the team ever since. “[Hip-hop] is the only style that I know where you can let loose,” McCulloch said. “The music is upbeat, so you’re not restricted on how exactly you move your body. … You don’t have to stick to a rigid style; you can just let loose the moment you hear that music. You can give it your all because it’s so easy to do.” With a wealth of student organizations, including many informal gatherings like those on Fridays at the library, hip-hop culture is vibrant and growing on campus. “It’s good to see that we’re thinking again because I feel, like, for a long time, people weren’t thinking in hip-hop,” Malvasio said. “It was very stagnant for a while, and now that we have all this new blood in it, I feel like it’s very good. Hip-hop is a powerful thing.”
Sophomore Amanda Emmer rehearses with Pulse, one of the college’s hip-hop dance groups. IC Unbound and Ground Up Crew also use hip-hop in their dances. YANA MAZURKEVICH/THE ITHACAN
PREMIUM BLEND PLACES FIRST AT ICCA QUARTERFINAL By Justin Henry The nights before the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella Quarterfinals, Feb. 4 and 5, Ithaca College’s three premier a cappella groups — IC Voicestream, Ithacappella and Premium Blend — could all be found in the James J. Whalen Center for Music, room 3304, performing their set lists for one another. After each performance, the other two groups gave reverent praise and constructive criticism in preparation for the following night’s competition. “Thank you for letting us be enraptured by your vulnerability,” said Ithacappella president and senior Dan Purcell, speaking to the three Premium Blend soloists. Senior Allison Dethmers, president of Premium Blend, said among the college’s groups, it isn’t as much about competition as it is about representing the college. “We’re excited, as all three a cappella groups are, to show what Ithaca College is made of,” Dethmers said. “We’ve all come together this week in the heat of everything, being like, ‘Oh my God, let’s watch each other. Let’s support each other.’” On Feb. 6, Premium Blend, the college’s first and only female a cappella group, won first place in the ICCA Central Quarterfinals, advancing the group to the regional semifinal April 2 at the Mainstage Theatre at the University at Buffalo, where it took third place. In addition, the group brought home two more awards. Before the night of the quarterfinals, Dethmers said, this competition offered a chance for Premium Blend to make its mark as an a cappella group. She said that after more than four years of not being on the ICCA stage, it was time to make a comeback. “We’re very focused on ourselves right now,” Dethmers said. “We’re really excited to burst out of the background. We’re just excited to show everyone what we’re made of.” Senior Namarah McCall, host of the competition, said the evening was at once a competition and a celebration of song. “There’s automatically going to be that competitive element,” McCall said. “It’s really just celebrating and enjoying our time together with people who all enjoy the same thing, which is a cappella music.” The quarterfinal competition was held at Ithaca High School and featured six a cappella groups in addition to the three Ithaca College groups: The Water Boys, The AcaBellas and The
COURTESY OF EMMA MORRIS-DOWNEY
Unaccompanied Minors from the University of Waterloo; the Midnight Ramblers from the University of Rochester; The Rhythm Method from SUNY Binghamton; and the Otto Tunes from Syracuse University. IC Voicestream, Ithaca College’s premier coed a cappella group, began the night with “Why iii Love the Moon” by Phony Ppl, “Arrival in Nara” by alt-J and “No Lie” by Wet. Fresh off its winter tour, Ithacappella, the college’s premier allmale a cappella group, followed with a mashup of “Murder” by Justin Timberlake, “Left Hand Free” by alt-J, “The Blower’s Daughter” by Damien Rice, “Electric Love” by Børns and “You’re Nobody ’Til Somebody Loves You” by James Arthur. Purcell said the format of Ithacappella’s performance was inspired by the Broadway musical “Hamilton” and mixes in lines from its song “History Has Its Eyes on You.” Concluding the evening, Premium Blend performed its song set, which included the introduction to “Past Lives” by Børns, “Sinner Like You” by Parson James, “Half a Man” by Robby Crane and “In Your Atmosphere” by John Mayer. Dethmers said there is a story of love and loss to be told in its song set and that each song represents a cycle in a relationship. At the end of the night, Premium Blend claimed three of the seven awards: outstanding choreography, outstanding soloist for junior Sara del Aguila and first place in the competition overall. “That’s the best I’ve ever heard them sing,” said senior Ethan Fletcher, president of IC Voicestream of Premium Blend. “Their set was designed to go at the end of something.” Purcell said that since his freshman year, it has been a dream of his to see a cappella groups on the same playing field. “If there’s any legacy the seniors can leave behind, it’s that we can all be great,” Purcell said. Dethmers said the moment ICCA director David Rabizadeh called her group’s name, it felt like a Disney Channel movie. “It’s the fact of how confident we were in our set that made me feel so confident in our winning,” Dethmers said. “I think it’s about the group having that one idea together and as a group. I think we did such a good job of all being on the same page and being so supportive of each other.”
At the ICCA Semifinal competition April 2 at the University of Buffalo, Premium Blend won third place. While the first-place winner goes to Finals automatically, the second- and third-place finishers may enter a video of their sets into a â€œWild card submissionâ€? to be considered to go to finals. Premium Blend will be submitting a video to try to be selected to go to finals in New York City on April 30.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF SUNCE FRANICEVIC
ART ONE SINGULAR SENSATION Main Stage Theater presents ‘A Chorus Line’
ABOVE: Senior Kyra Leeds plays Val in the musical. LEFT: Sophomore Maureen Edwards plays Cassie. PHOTOS COURTESY OF IC THEATRE ARTS
By Serena Weiss “Step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch — Again!” More than a dozen anxious men and women in colorful leotards dance in front of a stage-length mirror, following a choreographer’s instructions. Though it may seem like a scene out of any musical rehearsal, this sequence is the iconic opening of the play “A Chorus Line,” the quintessential show about the audition process for a musical that took the Ithaca College Main Stage. The college’s Department of Theatre Arts lined up its second Main Stage show of the season, “A Chorus Line,” originally directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett. The stories the characters tell within the production are based on the lives and careers of real Broadway dancers whom Bennett interviewed. “A Chorus Line” is a musical that examines a day in the lives of a group of dancers who compete and audition for a spot in a Broadway musical. Full of funny and heartbreaking moments, the show follows the personal challenges of the dancers and their love for dance. For director and co-choreographer Mary Corsaro, “A Chorus Line” was her last show at the college after 31 years as an associate professor in the Department of Theatre Arts. Over the years, Corsaro has directed and choreographed over 60 musicals in academic and professional venues. Corsaro has been the coordinator of the
Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater since 1985 and has worked with many students who have gone on and been very successful on Broadway, one of them being Aaron Tveit, who visited the college Sept. 18, 2015, to host a musical theater workshop with the senior musical theater students. Corsaro chose this musical to be her swan song show because it is near and dear to her heart. She moved from Indiana to New York City in 1975, the same year “A Chorus Line” opened on Broadway. She saw the show on Broadway 13 times with the original cast and said she fell in love with it, especially because she is a dancer. Corsaro also did “A Chorus Line” in 1991 at the college. She said she isn’t approaching this production very differently from the first time and that she believes it would be difficult to reimagine it because the musical was done so perfectly on Broadway. “For me, it’s an iconic show. It’s a show about real people,” Corsaro said. “It is true stories from people’s lives that are up there on that stage, and I think people can feel that, and I think that’s why they relate to it.” Roy Lightner, instructor of dance, was the associate director and co-choreographer of the musical and said working with Corsaro was a dream. “I’ve never met someone more knowledgeable of the history of musical theater,” Lightner said. “She is like a walking encyclopedia of knowledge of this art form,
which is very rare to find — someone of her caliber.” Not only was collaborating with Corsaro a great experience for Lightner, but he said he also thoroughly enjoyed working with the students. Lightner said “A Chorus Line” is a demanding show that requires the actors and actresses to be a true triple threat in terms of acting, singing and dancing. He said working with the students and watching them learn, struggle and succeed throughout the rehearsal process was a gratifying experience for him. “They are hungry, and they are constantly trying and are always pushing to be better,” Lightner said. “I hold them to the same standards that I hold professionals because I believe them to be professionals.” Corsaro agreed that this is a difficult show for the students to do. She said it was exciting to watch them improve so much over the rehearsal period. Many of the actors and actresses going into this project weren’t all dancers, and she said she now sees how her students have realized their full potential at this point. “I think a lot of the students are being pushed to dance better than they have ever danced in their lives,” Corsaro said. Alexa Cepeda, a senior musical theater major, said the show was demanding and challenging, but rewarding. The show took plenty of stamina and endurance, and this was one of the biggest challenges that she
The cast of “A Chorus Line,” the college’s fall Main Stage musical, rehearses for its debut performance Nov. 5, 2015. PHOTOS COURTESY OF IC THEATRE ARTS
and her cast members faced. “It’s physically very exhausting because we have to sing and dance at the same time and regulate our breathing,” Cepeda said. “It takes a lot of strength.” Senior acting major Emily Loewus said she experienced similar challenges with endurance but faced another obstacle as well. As an acting major and dance minor, she said, she feels far more confident with those skills than she does with her singing. Though her character never had a solo in the show, she sang during the ensemble numbers, so she had to work on her voice during the rehearsal process. Loewus took a class with Corsaro in Spring 2015 called Dance for the Musical Stage and said it was a blessing for her to be able to develop a relationship with Corsaro. Loewus said she appreciates that Corsaro tells her what she can improve and work on to get better. “As an acting major, to be in a musical is not always a guarantee, so the fact that I actually got to exercise this muscle of taking all three aspects of stage performance and doing them in one thing is really exciting,” Loewus said. “[Mary’s] been so patient with me and so generous about allowing me to play and find this character.” Joel Gelpe, music director and vocal coach in the Department of Theatre Arts, taught the music to the cast members and rehearsed and conducted the orchestra for
the show. He worked with the cast from the beginning of the rehearsal period but did not practice with the orchestra until a week and a half before the show opened. “I remember when I first started here, they would have orchestra rehearsals earlier but less frequently, maybe like once a week,” Gelpe said. “They decided that it was better to just have them every night for one week and do it in a concentrated way. I think it’s working out pretty well that way.” Gelpe is very familiar with the music from the show because he was a keyboardist for a national tour of “A Chorus Line” in the mid-1980s. “I played it almost every night for about eight months, so I knew it way back then,” Gelpe said. “It’s kind of cool to be revisiting it — this time as conductor — with a much bigger orchestra.” Gelpe said there are many unusual aspects of “A Chorus Line,” one of them being that the show doesn’t have an intermission. The show — an hour and 45 minutes — only contains one act. Additionally, there is always music playing throughout the show with hardly any breaks. “There’s practically always music underneath scenes. It’s a really demanding show to conduct, even though it’s just one act,” Gelpe said. “It’s constant music so as soon as you finish one piece you turn the page, and you start all over again on the next piece.”
Loewus said one of the show’s other strengths is the richness of its characters. She said she and her cast members have thoughtfully studied their characters and have created a personal connection with them. Cepeda agreed that the show is more character-driven than plot-driven, which is different from most shows she has performed in. Understanding the personalities of the characters, seeing them struggle and what their dreams are, is the most important part of “A Chorus Line,” Cepeda said. “I think the characters and their stories and their point of view is what drives it forward,” Cepeda said. Loewus said she believed this was a Broadway-quality show they were putting on. The finale of the show featured not only the show’s original choreography but also some rented costumes of performers from the 2006 Broadway revival. She wore a costume that was also worn by Krysta Rodriguez, who has been on the television show “Smash” and in Broadway productions such as “In The Heights,” “The Addams Family,” “First Date the Musical” and is currently in “Spring Awakening.” Loewus has seen many impressive shows here at the college but said she is most impressed with this one. “The level of Broadway that we are bringing to the Hoerner is pretty astounding,” she said before the show debuted.
Center, participant Louis Gershon and Civic Ensemble’s Sarah Chalmers rehearse for the company’s production as part of the Civic Ensemble’s ReEntry Theatre Program. Gershon wrote one of the plays “Bahrain Blues” for the show. SAM FULLER/THE ITHACAN
FORMER INMATES CREATE PLAYS WITH THE CIVIC ENSEMBLE By Celisa Calacal Five men and one woman stand in the middle of a room, their eyes looking forward and a multi-page script in their hands. They begin to talk about who they are: a knowledgeable man, a survivor of the Drug War, a strong woman. Next, they share their nightmares: returning to the back alleys and shooting galleries of the past, the absence of family, not succeeding in life. And finally, with an air of hope, they discuss their dreams: to turn their life around in honor of the fallen, to make their families proud, to be all they can be for their families. This scene is the introduction to the Civic Ensemble production “Dreams and Nightmares: Do What You Always Did, Get What You Always Got.” Before having the opportunity to act in a play, the six performers onstage found themselves in a starkly different environment — behind bars. These six performers — Louis Gershon, Christopher Glenn Hartman, Briana Milton-Forest, Anthony Sidle, Abdullah Khalil Bey and Terrell Dickson — were once incarcerated, and after being released, they became involved in the Civic Ensemble’s ReEntry Theatre Program, which provides opportunities to recently released individuals to write and produce theater over an eight-week process. Through workshopping with Civic Ensemble, Gershon, Hartman, Milton-Forest, Bey and Sidle wrote original short plays based on their life experiences. These weeks of rehearsals culminated in a two-night performance March 25 and 26 at the Hangar Theatre. The six primary participants worked alongside professional actors and Civic Ensemble members to transform and adapt their personal experiences into a theatrical setting. This marks the second run of the ReEntry Theatre Program since
its inception last year. This year, the Civic Ensemble, Ithaca’s community-based nonprofit theater company, has partnered with the Ultimate ReEntry Opportunity, a project of Ithaca’s Multicultural Resource Center that helps those who are re-entering the community after incarceration to develop networks to aid in this process. No prior theater experience is necessary to join the re-entry program. To choose the participants in the program, those who are interested go through an application and interview process. The people who were chosen this year are Gershon, Hartman, Milton and Sidle, while Bey and Dickson are returning participants from last year. Interspersed between the short plays are scenes that were also penned by the performers. Civic Ensemble artistic associate Lucy Walker ’13 is the dramaturg for this production. She said the participants were given the freedom to write their plays about any topic. None of the plays are directly about prison, as the writers chose to focus on topics like addiction and minimum wage — factors that may push people into the criminal justice system. “It’s very in the back of their head because the plays are all about the kind of things that mess people up and get them in prison or hurt people when they get out of prison,” Walker said. Mass incarceration is one of the most pressing issues in the United States today, with over 2.3 million people incarcerated in prisons and jails around the country, making the U.S. the country with the highest amount of its population behind bars, according to The Sentencing Project and the NAACP. With the U.S. holding only 5 percent of the world population, it has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Even when people are released back into society, a felony conviction makes it difficult to return to a normal life. For
instance, in 48 states, felony disenfranchisement has stripped voting rights away from 5.85 million Americans who were formerly incarcerated. This is Dickson’s second year participating in the Civic Ensemble’s ReEntry Theatre Program. However, this year, he did not write
“Everybody needs to vent. I have a lot of anger in me because of a lot of things. This right here, it at least allows me a small voice. Everyone deserves a chance to be happy, and Civic Ensemble gives me happiness.”
a play for the production. Because of the time he spent incarcerated, Dickson said he cannot do many of the things he would like to do. “I look at myself, and I say, ‘Wow, I’m 53 years old, a black man — I should’ve been in jail a long time ago,’” he said. “Here I am, 53 — I can’t get or do any of the things that I would like to do. I could, but it’s so much harder because of that conviction.” One of the plays, written by Milton, is titled “God Grant Me the Serenity” and focuses on the difficulties of surviving on the minimum wage alone, specifically as a woman and a mother. Set in a grocery store, the play involves three women discussing their financial struggles in depending solely on the minimum wage. “It’s a struggle to survive in this city or country or whatever just
on minimum wage with everything so expensive as a single parent, or even as a family, just to survive,” Milton said. Although Milton participated in plays when she was younger, she said she still feels nervous about performing. She said working with the Civic Ensemble has given her a good support system. Similarly, Dickson said the re-entry program also helped in providing a cathartic outlet that allows him to express himself. “Everybody needs to vent. I have a lot of anger in me because of a lot of things. This right here, it at least allows me a small voice,” he said. “Everyone deserves a chance to be happy, and Civic Ensemble gives me happiness.” Looking at the system of mass incarceration and the school-toprison pipeline — the policies and practices that push U.S. children into the juvenile and criminal justice systems — Dickson sees it as more willing to incarcerate than educate. But this is something he would like to change, as he believes there is more worth in educating a person rather than sending them into the prison system. “If you send someone to jail for four years, when they get out, what you have done is you have made a criminal,” he said. “When you send someone to school for four years, when they get out, what you have is a scholar.” At the end of the production, the same six participants dominate the stage. This time, they are getting rid of their nightmares: greed, job discrimination, ignorance, isolation. With less than a week until opening night, there is a mixture of nervous excitement reverberating around the room. From the various plays throughout the show, Dickson said, he hopes the audience takes away the message that everybody needs help. “The way the underling or underdog goes, that’s the way everyone goes — work together, help each other, get over addictions or incarceration or lack of employment, then the world is going to be better,” he said. “We got to start planting good seeds and not bad seeds, stop being greedy and stepping on the little people.”
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COURTESY OF 20TH CENTURY FOX
By Byron Bixler There are few works in recent memory that are more profoundly chilling than “The Revenant.” After watching the film, it’s hard not to be left shivering, haunted by a frigid, hostile wilderness and the hot blood that paints it. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, an experienced fur trapper in America’s untamed West in the 1820s. He travels with his half-Pawnee son (Forrest Goodluck) and a small group of frontiersmen, gloomily floating downriver after a sudden attack from local natives wipes out most of the original hunting party. Hugh clashes with the brutally pragmatic John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), but harsh words soon prove to be the least of his problems when he is subsequently mutilated by a grizzly bear. What follows is a betrayal, a journey fuelled by vengeance and a survival story for the ages. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu's film is simultaneously gorgeous and grotesque, balancing solemn contemplation with wrenching savagery. “The Revenant” repeatedly overwhelms the senses with imagery that alternates between the primal and the ethereal. The film projects an incredibly elemental sense of place. For a story pitting man against nature, it’s only appropriate that the environment play a crucial role. Every scene is infused with the imposing
energy of some natural entity. Be it a bison herd materializing at daybreak, a punishing blizzard at dusk or an angry stream carrying a struggling body to its executioner, each element firmly plants the viewer within this unforgiving landscape. This technique furthers the audience’s identification with Hugh’s plight. Members of the audience can almost feel the blisters forming on their fingers and the frostbite gnawing at their toes. At the same time, “The Revenant” expresses an ambiguous yet unmistakably earthy spirituality that hovers above the drama's grit. Fragments of haunted memories and dreamy visions flash by in brief interludes, but even the more grounded sequences are imbued with a degree of eeriness by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki's seemingly omnipotent camera. The presence of God is evoked, and an overarching natural order quietly makes itself known in surprising ways as good deeds are rewarded and injustices are paid back. The film isn’t especially deep, but as a straightforward narrative of basic elements — man, nature, God, revenge and redemption — it is almost perfectly pitched. There is so much detail and intelligence in its construction. Amid this tale of personal tragedy and reinvention, there is the metaphoric image of a young nation wrestling with
the naive condescension and resulting slaughter that would come to taint its future successes. Most compelling of all is the complete expression of a character's journey. “The Revenant” demonstrates the distinction between a regular story that one seamlessly drops in and out of and an immersive trip that can be felt in one’s bones. It takes its time, and almost every bit of the deliberate tempo feels appropriate, conveying the cumulative journey and a character's mental and spiritual growth. In this leading role, DiCaprio has further solidified his status as one of Hollywood's greatest treasures. With “The Revenant,” DiCaprio puts his physicality to new use, fully conveying the anguish of a broken man. Even in his quieter, more reflective scenes, he powerfully demonstrates the torment of a battered soul. Never before has he emitted such a sense of vulnerability in his acting. It's a harrowing performance and one that is immediately career defining. For most viewers, the experience of watching the film will hinge on their capacity to withstand not only brutal violence, but also uncompromising misery. “The Revenant” is an endurance test of sorts, and it lets the audience know what it’s getting into by the end of the opening scene. But if one manages to make it past the ugliness and find resonance in the picture's subtle rhythms, the discomfort is worth it. Meticulously built and rawly performed and felt, “The Revenant” is an acquired taste — and a bitter one. However, it is also one with ample rewards for those who connect with it on a visceral level. “The Revenant” was written by Mark L. Smith and Alejandro González Iñárritu and directed by Iñárritu.
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“The Revenant” was nominated for 12 Academy Awards. The film took home three, including Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio.
COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
By Matthew Radulski “Star Wars,” originally released in 1977, may be the single most iconic film of all time. Character names like Han Solo, Princess Leia and R2-D2 have entered the popular lexicon. Expectations for a sequel to the 1983 “Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” have proven to be astronomical. Prequel films, in the meantime, have failed to satisfy fans. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” faces the unenviable task of living up to its original namesake, and it must bring something new to the table. With deep characters and a nostalgic plot, “The Force Awakens” pays respect to the past “Star Wars” films but plays it safe. The plot of “The Force Awakens” may seem similar to fans of the original 1977 film. The First Order controls the galaxy, but a map inside a BB-8 droid holds a key to stopping its rule. It’s up to an ex-Stormtrooper, Finn (John Boyega), and a scavenger from the planet Jakku, Rey (Daisy Ridley), to deliver the droids’ message to the rebel alliance. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), an official in the first order, struggles with his family history. The plot is a retread of “A New Hope,” and this is its biggest flaw. It’s difficult to shake the feeling that this story has been told before, only with different characters. One scene exemplifies this exactly. The rebels devise a plan to beat the First Order, and the movie highlights methods for victory similar to those in the
original “Star Wars.” This gives a feeling that “The Force Awakens” is just a fresh coat of paint over a simple story. This paint is great, though, and “The Force Awakens” has some exhilarating scenes that are visually stunning. The thick layer of nostalgia works well with the new characters, especially Finn. He looks to have loads of potential, with “The Force Awakens” only scratching the surface of his life as a Stormtrooper with a soul. The best moment in “The Force Awakens” occurs about 15 seconds into the film, when LucasArts’ logo appears, followed by text: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” Then, in all its golden splendor, the words “Star Wars” flash on screen, accompanied by the blaring horns that signal the beginning of the main “Star Wars” theme. The opening crawl begins, as do the goosebumps. There’s an intrinsic joy in hearing a lightsaber or seeing a classic character. “The Force Awakens” may not be as good as the original “Star Wars,” and at times, it can feel like it’s striving to be just that. “The Force Awakens” manages to breathe new life into the franchise with fresh characters and nostalgic moments. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was written by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt, and directed by J.J. Abrams.
THE HATEFUL EIGHT
COURTESY OF THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY
By Justin Henry Quentin Tarantino has made a career of finding profundity in film genres that use cheap shocks to thrill viewers. Films like Westerns and exploitation films provide ideal fodder for Tarantino to reimagine. However, nothing can prepare the viewer for the depraved shocks of his newest film, “The Hateful Eight.” The film’s provocative questions meekly justify the violence on screen. The film traps the audience in Minnie’s Haberdashery, a stagecoach lodge, with eight quintessential Western archetypes. Former Union Cavalry leader Maj. Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) boards the carriage of John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell), which also holds infamous murderess Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who is to be hanged in Red Rock. While in the carriage, the trio picks up the desperate Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), who claims to be the sheriff of Red Rock. They take refuge in the Haberdashery with Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Bob the Mexican (Demian Bichir), former Confederate Gen. Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) and Joe Gage (Michael Madsen). Completely character- and dialogue-driven, the film is structured like an elongated scene from one of Tarantino’s other films. The director places these recognizable classic character archetypes in the same room and lets the events and relationships unfold. Using the classic background of the post–Civil War Western
scene, the film has the same nihilism of Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” Instead of Act III of Shakespeare’s tragedy, when Lear, his Fool and Poor Tom confront the most depraved fall of man while sheltered in the hovel from a great tempest, the eight Western archetypes take cover from a blizzard in a haberdashery and are then left with only themselves and their circumstances. The film has a sense of mystery to it, not so much in the search for a single human culprit, but rather in the larger sense of what is the truth of the world that is created. The film partially develops several themes about power structures, race and gender. With each theme, the film denies any sense of closure. This is not the typical eighth film of an Oscar-winning film writer. This is the film of a young, energetic director, who is still in the experimental stage of his career. Gone are the days when Tarantino’s violence was deliberate and he didn’t decadently flex his filmmaking muscles. However, Tarantino doubtlessly has refined muscles. There is a genius to his humor, his writing and his love of the cinema that is all his own. “The Hateful Eight” is an undeniable testament to an auteur’s command of his art, though it is only enjoyable for the most ardent of his fans. “Hateful Eight” was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino.
KENDRICK LAMAR untitled unmastered By Cecilia Morales
The successful album “To Pimp A Butterfly” received widespread critical acclaim for rapper Kendrick Lamar’s ability to combine spoken word, experimental jazz and deep-rooted social criticism, revealing a darker, deeper and tragically beautiful part of Lamar that listeners had only received a glimpse of from the 2012 release of “good kid, m.A.A.d city.” Now, almost exactly a year since the release of “To Pimp A Butterfly,” Lamar’s streak of creative success keeps its momentum with the surprise release of “untitled unmastered.” Released at midnight March 4, “untitled unmastered” serves as a compilation album, showcasing eight unreleased songs originally intended for “To Pimp A Butterfly.” As the album title suggests, the songs are untitled and unmastered, only receiving a number and a date for a track title. According to Lamar’s Twitter account, the tracks featured are “In GENARO MOLINA/LOS ANGELES TIMES Raw Form. Unfinished. Untitled. Unmastered.” However, the overall attention to detail mixed with Lamar’s poetic representation of ideas through his lyrics overshadows this fact, and all comes together to create a tight, concise album. While it may seem as if the album serves as an extension for “To Pimp A Butterfly,” there is an undeniable change of mood in the album’s overall sound. This time around, Lamar’s focus is on the smooth experimental jazz sounds that flow throughout the album. Tracks like “untitled 03 | 05.28.2013” include a lively backdrop of flutes, drums and synths overlapping with Lamar’s powerful comment on the realities of living in the United States as a young African-American man working in the music industry. His lyrics highlight themes of consumerism, race and Lamar’s inner conflicts ever so subtly, creating a humble yet immensely creative piece of conceptual art. In just one year, Lamar has been able to compact years of depression, materialism, consumerism, racism and personal struggles into two powerful albums. Despite the brevity of “untitled unmastered,” the album stands on its own as Lamar’s deeply intuitive critique of not only society, but of himself. In a time of social justice and reform, Lamar is one of the few artists in the music industry who truly captures the raw emotions and difficulties of living in a system of oppression. The future is bright for Lamar, and the audience can only guess what he will come up with next.
KANYE WEST The Life of Pablo By Matthew Radulski
After numerous delays and name changes, the divisive Kanye West has at last released his seventh studio album, “The Life of Pablo.” It is rich in finesse and emotion, though it feels like a collection of singles and not a formal album. “The Life of Pablo” is an excellent record, but it cannot be called West’s best because its guest work is spotty, and much of the sound is messy. Nearly every song is exciting, chock-full of energy and impressive when considered on its own. The standout of the record is the opener, “Ultralight Beam.” West actually fades to the background here, and featured artist Chance the Rapper takes over. Chance delivers a verse that is laced with arrogance and biblical imagery, preaching, “You can feel the lyrics, the spirit coming in braille.” It is impressive, but the rest of the record never quite reaches this height again. Another standout, “No More Parties in LA,” is the best pure rap track on the album and features a decent verse from Grammy Award–winner Kendrick Lamar, where he pleads to a girl, “Make me believe in miracles, Buddhist monks and Cap’n Crunch cereal.” In “Wolves,” the darkest track on the album, West speaks of depression and the dangers of fame. Contributing to the chaos of the album is the abundance of guests. The list of guest verses and producers is full of notable artists, but it’s quite long. Just to name a few, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Young Thug, André 3000, Kid Cudi, Frank Ocean and The Weeknd join West on “The Life of Pablo.” This is nothing new for West. He collaborated excessively on his 2010 opus “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” as well, but most guest verses are swiftly forgotten here. Some manage to overshadow West, as is the case with Chance the Rapper, or are forgotten as soon as they end, like Young Thug, but seldom do the guests completely gel with West as most have in the past. The guests are inconsistent in their collaborations with West and clash with the tones of the music, which is reminiscent of the whole record, where there are drastic tone shifts and mixed messages on monogamy. “The Life of Pablo” is West’s least polished record to date. The plethora of samples and guests don’t always work together. When they do, magic that only West can create is born, but elsewhere, it just is too much. “Highlights” is a behemoth of noise with brash verses about his success, but he doesn’t quite express his message clearly for the listener, which is a rare ability that West has shown in the past. None of this is to say that “The Life of Pablo” is a waste of time or poor in any sense. Tracks like “Ultralight Beam” and “Real Friends” are superb, and the album’s themes of depression, marriage and fame are examined from various angles. Verses are memorable and have the power to both disgust and inspire. It’s just a shame that the record is not more consistent. JANE TYSKA/BAY AREA NEWS
I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware Of It By Hayley Tarleton
Three years since its first album, The 1975 released its second LP, “I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It,” on Feb. 26. While its debut album marked the start of an alternative electronic era, “I Like It When You Sleep” strips away all definitions of a musical genre and allows the music to be naked, raw and totally itself. One of the album’s first tracks, “Love Me” is a David Bowie–esque single about the delusion of being famous. The band released the song in October 2015 after formally announcing the upcoming release of a second album. The song opens with a riff that seems to be taken straight from the ’80s. It lets fans know this isn’t the same alternative group that broke onto the scene in 2013. More pop this time around, the album is self-mocking and at times sounds like a direct jab at the artists of today who seem to create art simply for the notoriety. Frontman Matty Healy sings lyrics like “You’ve been reading ’bout yourself/ On a plane, fame for a change/ Caught up in fashion/ Karcrashian panache,” which are so pretentious that they work for the high-energy tune about people’s being fake just to be heard. Another standout song on the album is “If I Believe You,” an electro-gospel tune preaching Healy’s concerns about his beliefs. If in prior songs the lyrics seem egotistical, these are raw and downright human by contrast. Backed by a full gospel chorus and band member George Daniel, Healy sings through the crisis atheists find themselves in when they want to believe in a higher power but just can’t. While The 1975 undeniably nails the in-your-face pop songs featured on this record, “If I Believe You” is a necessary breath of fresh air allowing listeners to hear Healy’s own sore emotion through lyric and voice. While each song is a door leading the listener deeper and deeper into Healy’s convoluted mind, some tracks fall flat in comparison to the better singles on this record. Some of the synthesized instrumentals on the album, such as “Please Be Naked” and title track “I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It,” provide necessary transitions between songs when the album is played in order but are nothing listeners need to return to by themselves. By the end of the album, however, listeners will be hitting the replay button for another ride on this rollercoaster of a record. From start to finish, “I Like It When You Sleep” is strikingly different from the debut album, but The 1975 lets longtime fans know it’s still the same group from before through pretentious lyrics and beautiful compositions. While its first album gave The 1975 a place among alternative fans, “I Like It When You Sleep” places the band at the top of the pop charts, attracting new listeners into the mix.
Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven By Matthew Radulski
“Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven” is not a hip-hop record, and that is a very good thing for artist Kid Cudi. This major departure from his usual style is a fusion of rock, grunge, punk and more. The shift in genre has inspired Cudi to create an intelligent and different record, but it unfortunately struggles with clarity. Cudi does a great job of twisting genre, and it keeps the album from becoming repetitive. No two tracks sound alike. Some are abrasive, while others are softer and more introspective. The title track, “Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven,” closes with acoustic guitar, while the rest of the record uses blaring electric guitar. Unfortunately, the seething electric guitar tends to drown out Cudi’s verses, and it makes him a bit hard to understand. This may be done intentionally to show how Cudi is struggling to get his message across, but it is still jarring to listen to. What feels especially out of place is Mike Judge’s guest work as Beavis and Butt-Head. His comedy bits are radically different from what Cudi is doing and are very distracting. While they may cause a chuckle, Judge’s segments break the pace and take away from the album’s theme of depression. Cudi largely confronts challenges and stigmas related to mental illness with this record. The vocals center on suicide, depression and identity. “I got my daddy’s gun,” he says while closing out “Fuchsia Butterflies.” “I really don’t want to leave” is repeated in the closing track, “Embers.” Cudi designed the album as an ode to those struggling with mental illness, and the struggle comes through with each track. The harrowing lyrics and constantly changing production make “Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven” an album worth listening to. The album lacks some consistency, but it’s refreshing to hear an artist create what he wants to create.
By Jackie Borwick
After much anticipation and following a threeyear hiatus, Rihanna has returned to impress with the release of her eighth studio album, “Anti,” on Jan 28. Though she took an extended break, it’s as though she never left because this album features her signature style that has been clearly reflected in her latest songs. Like those in Rihanna’s previous work, the lyrics in “Anti” are honest, raw and upfront. But there is something new with her latest album. In the past, Rihanna has mainly crafted albums in the pop and hip-hop genres, but this project takes a somewhat different direction, featuring sounds that are evocative of the rhythm and blues genre. She also taps into a softer side, a more-than welcome shift from her generally bold approach to music making. On tracks like “Love on the Brain,” listeners find honest lyrics, soft inflections and a melancholy feeling. The single and a handful of others feature this different tone that seems like a departure from what fans have seen her produce before. This same approach is seen in “Never Ending,” a track with sweet and soft notes that seem to emulate an entirely different style from what her fans MATT CROSSICK/ABACA PRESS have seen in the past. While it won’t necessarily be perceived as a standout among the other singles featured in the album, it definitely sets itself apart from the rest by being less energetic and more flexible. “Work,” featuring Drake, is the first single that was released off the album in advance. This isn’t the first time these two artists have collaborated, and it definitely seems like it won’t be the last time since their voices sync very well together, which is especially the case here. This single has influences of reggae-pop and seems like a return to Rihanna’s musical roots that her fans have become accustomed to. Rihanna had much say about the direction of the album because she had a role as an executive producer. Since she has been in the music industry for so long, Rihanna has both grown as an artist and influenced the industry itself in part. Fans will enjoy listening to this album because it features a familiar vibe that they have come to enjoy and appreciate. Yet they will also discover a softer, rawer side of Rihanna that will inject something new and fresh into the mix.
WIZ KHALIFA Khalifa
By Alyssa Knoles
After great anticipation, Wiz Khalifa released his newest album, “Khalifa,” on Feb. 5, following his single “Bake Sale,” featuring Houston artist Travis Scott, released Jan. 21. With a booming sound similar to that of the southern crunk scene, “Bake Sale” left listeners with very high hopes for “Khalifa” and eager to hear more of the artist’s cutting-edge style of music. Instead, listeners hear more of Khalifa’s singing voice on songs like “Call Waiting” and more of a rhythmic sound rather than booming. Unsurprisingly, Khalifa is still the same nature-loving artist he was in 2010 when his first hit single, “Black and Yellow,” peaked on the charts. On his latest album, in songs like “iSay,” featuring Juicy J, Khalifa promotes his personal line of Khalifa Kush, which also started an entertaining Twitter feud between him and Kanye West on Jan. 27. In his efforts to end cannabis prohibition, the rapper recently partnered with the Colorado-based company RiverRock Cannabis to create his own line of marijuana. Though the rest of “Khalifa” might not have lived up to the buildup that “Bake Sale” established, it is worth the listen. Khalifa collaborates with artists he has worked with in the past, such as Rico Love and Juicy J, but there is something distinctive about “Khalifa” compared to albums the artist has previously released. On his song “Zoney,” listeners see a different side of the rapper when he brings his son, Sebastian, on the track. Sebastian expresses how much he loves his father and even shows some appreciation for the city of Pittsburgh. Listeners see a different side of Khalifa on this album through songs like “Elevated” and “City View” with a smooth sound and rhythmic instrumentals. This new sound establishes a developed atmosphere for the album that might attract an audience that his music in the past has not. Unlike his past albums with reflective lyrics, “Khalifa” finds the rapper singing about the grind and struggle that brought him to his success as a well-known artist. The 28-year-old rapper has continued to impress fans with hit singles such as “We Dem Boyz,” “See You Again” and “Bake Sale.” There is no doubt that Khalifa is a man full of talent, and with all the success he has had, he will be able to buy an unlimited amount of “cool pants” similar to the ones Kanye West recently criticized on Twitter. Fans will appreciate this album, which takes the listener on the journey that brought Khalifa to the top. They will also enjoy the raw feel of this album and the original sound that is a TIGER/ABACA PRESS must-hear.
YANA MAZURKEVICH/THE ITHACAN
By Mary Ford
WIN OR LOSE, WE BOOZE Cortaca and IC’s libatious traditions By Mary Ford The screaming began at exactly 8:11 a.m. “Let’s go BOMBS!” “Fuck Cortlaaaaand!!!” They weren’t screams so much as they were greetings. In a way, that made them more frightening. Shouted from balconies and out of doorways to those who carried clanging-bottle bags in from their cars through held-open doors, the salutations rang: “Let’s go Bombers!” “Fuck yeah, Cortacaaaaaaaa!” It was the start of that year’s quintessential rivalry gameday, in which the Ithaca College Bombers squared off against the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons. As with most college rivalries, it had little to do with football: Though Cortaca itself has gained fame as the Biggest Little Game in the nation, Cortaca meant something different. Some thought of this day as more important than graduation: At an hour that’s difficult to make it to class, waking up for Cortaca was easy. Almost any task is made easier when you wake up with a beer already in hand. They readied themselves by taking several shots of Fireball and flavored Smirnoff ’s for breakfast, steadied themselves by taking a longer-than-usual time to dress, donning the women’s Cortaca uniform: flannel shirt, leggings and winter vest, baseball cap, long socks and face paint — all, of course, preferable if colored Bomber Blue and Gold. They, too, called themselves Bombers, and they had pride without knowing why: They knew they’d lost last year,
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and the year before that and the year before that and the year before … really, they knew they’d lost a lot but couldn’t put a finger on how many times. (The Bombers had been defeated for the past five years, in fact. A sixth would make it their longest losing streak in Cortaca history, which based on the teams’ season records, was almost inevitable.) After an hour, they transferred mixed drinks to takeout containers or Vitamin Water bottles, rendering them conspicuous with oddly tinted contents. From every corner of campus they paraded, sashaying out of dorms and apartments, laughing loudly and making their way — albeit crookedly — to the stadium on the far west end of the hill. Soon, on Ithaca College’s main quad was the largest gathering of students since … well, since the previous Wednesday, when a thousand or so of the fans had turned out to block the very pathways they were walking down now, part of a protest against President Tom Rochon and the racial climate of the place. Led by people of color on campus, a group known as POC at IC, they received national media attention that day. Now, with flashy cameras gone, the excitement of protesting had faded. There were rumors there would be more disturbances today, rumors that had been quelled by threats of violence posted on YikYak: “If you try anything on Saturday you’ll be jumped”; “POC you have been warned.” Although appalled, these Bombers chose to carry on. But who could blame them? The college only had one day to go crazy: At any DI school, there’d be a Cortaca-caliber celebration every weekend. It was no one’s right to revoke their fun, even if it had been revoked from the people of color leaving campus for their own safety.
There would be plenty of other days for outrage. But not today. By 9:30 a.m., all parking lots nearest the game were filling quickly with cars and with crowds — although, according to the girl manning the neon-striped traffic gates, visitors had been waiting for her at the beginning of SAM FULLER/THE ITHACAN her 7 a.m. shift, kegs at the ready. She volunteered for the work, she said. “It was either this or sleep. At least this way I get paid. I mean … I just don’t understand people! How can you do this?” She gestured toward the lot where the students crowded around a gray pickup truck, its flatbed full of ice. The goal was simple: to drink enough to keep a buzz throughout the game without bringing alcohol into the stadium. This could be done in myriad ways, but the most popular was to pregame at the tailgate. And pregame they did: Upperclassmen brought beer and bottles of cheap Champagne and passed them out to passersby, no ID required. It was mad, it was wild, it was the mayhem of human waste. When the people moved, they barely picked up their feet for fear of tipping in their tipsiness, shuffling across discarded Jell-O shots and shredded beer boxes and abandoned Solo cups. In the middle of it all was — bizarrely — a Catholic chaplain in his collar, congenially clasping arms and taking selfies with the revelers. He turned down several beers, smiling. “Not for me, thank you. I don’t start drinking till at least noon,” he joked. It was an hour until kickoff, and already the ground glistened with beer that had been spilled by hugs and lazy elbows and, perhaps, regurgitated back up from stomachs. It made for a rancid smell, coupled with a strong reek of weed, petroleum grills and hot-dog water. Bros played basketball with crushed cans and a toy hoop, adding the scent of overworked deodorant to the mix. As they dunked and cheered and swigged and swaggered, the crowd swelled to double, triple, quadruple its starting size. In no time, there were hundreds of people — or, at least, enough to keep the boys bouncing around the crowd like wobbly pinballs. More filtered down from the Terraces, Towers and Circles above, trudged up from the Gardens and Quads below, spilled out of cars and TCATs that had rerouted around the constant-motion mass of messy students. Some women in Ithaca-yellow vests picked their way carefully through, maintaining a “positive presence” in the throng; a trio of police officers watched from the corner of the lot, waiting for real
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trouble as the crowd shouted and sprayed one another with beer. The pace of the party was rapidly accelerating: soon, the few remaining sure-footed students resigned to following their sloppier friends around, holding the backs of their shirts like mothers might do to their toddlers to keep them from falling. Every so often, the man standing on the flatbed started the cheer: “When I say ‘Fuck,’ you say ‘Cortland’! Fuck —” “— Cortland!” “Fuck —” “— Cortland!” The screaming, which had begun at 8:11 a.m., was to last another 13 hours. Not a single voice could say why. At 11:30 a.m., in an unspoken but communitywide shift, students flocked toward Butterfield Stadium, taking a long last sip from hidden flasks and bottles before dropping and kicking them, usually toward the Cortland side. “Hopefully, they’ll roll their ankles,” someone shouted, and the crowd around him roared with laughter. Some braver Bombers would try to smuggle them in, unintimidated by the mild security pat-downs, determined to stay entertained in spite of the game. The live radio announcer blasted the ticket lines: “The Bombers have absolutely nothing to lose!” And it’s true: The Bombers didn’t have much in the first place. They had Butterfield Stadium, a big divot in the side of South Hill, its crumbling slag slowly sliding past another era’s metal bleachers. They had a fistful of prior losses, including last year’s rather devastating miscue in the final minutes, a
SPORTS moment watched with drunken disappointment on many an Ithacan computer screen. They had their name, but that was it: not a flying squirrel, phoenix or lake beast in sight. The president had recently called the lack of mascot one of his greatest failures. Really. Truly. The Bombers had little at stake today. Most of the crowd had never been here before; they found the view of Cayuga Lake particularly mesmerizing. In their stupor and their boredom, it almost seemed as though they could reach out and touch the calm, blue water, could escape the noise and the sweaty press of bodies balancing on the chain-link ledges. It was standing room only, or else an uncomfortable squeeze onto the bleachers, where blurry, bleary enthusiasm caused more than one back to be accidentally bruised by a wayward kick. For every Butterfield first-timer, there were virgins of another kind: Cortaca, for some, was a first time getting drunk. For example, the three freshman girls in pink felt hats who stumbled up the path asking each and every person they passed, “Where are we? Who are you? Who am I?” They were giggling, swept up in the hysteria of 10,000 plastered people all talking at once, punctured here and there only by a distant shrill whistle or low bass beat. Neither sound could hold its own against the chatter. There may have been constant talking, but few knew what they were talking about. In fact, the general mood of the crowd was one of contented confusion. When, five minutes in, the stadium began to boo, two girls with gold and blue glitter on their cheeks debated what was happening: “I think the other team got a kick point.” “What’s that?” “It’s cheating, that’s what it is. It’s bullshit.” “Yeah, what’s a kick point, anyway? They’re not even real!”
The drunker of the two blinked, touched her fingertips to her glitter streaks and asked, “What are we doing? Why are we even here?” At that, her friend could only laugh. Meanwhile, in the stands, a dark-haired young woman none too carefully threw back a shot of pineapple vodka, crushing the knees of the people behind her, then shouted, “Passionfruit is fantastic!” In a rare moment of clarity, the crowd assembled once more into one voice. After all, someone must have been in the lead, scrounging the happy masses into a coordinated cheer or boo. Something must have been putting these words in their mouths other than the muddled inner workings of their minds. But what was it? Or who? Someone in the sea of faces must have had a concrete idea. It wasn’t the girl manning the parking lot, it wasn’t the Ithaca-yellow vests, not the police, not the radio announcer, not Rochon, not the players. It wasn’t the game itself. Who, what was holding Cortaca’s reigns? Who decided this? Who chose this way for the Bombers to behave? No one did, and yet somehow, all of them did. From somewhere in the upper stands, a man with a hoarse voice was smart enough to amend the chant so they wouldn’t be thrown out: “Let’s go Bombers!” Stomp, clap, clap-clap-clap. With each repetition, the stadium fell more in rhythm. Tiny pieces of shale started to slide down the slope. “Let’s go Bombers!” Stomp, clap, clap-clap-clap. “LET’S GO BOMBERS!” Stomp, clap, clap-clap-clap. And, in the moments before the coordination dissolved into indistinct yelling, the sun came out. Glitter Girl squealed and jumped up and down. “It’s a sign!” she shouted. “It’s a sign!”
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By halftime, the pregame excitement had waned. The wind — or “I mean, it’s no one’s right to be on the field during the game,” some other unseen force — had dealt the Bombers several signifi- the soberer girl reasoned. “It’s not like they’re taking it away from cant game-time blows, though of course, for most of the spectators, anyone, and there’s no need for you to ever take it.” these went unnoticed. Soon, the swell of people was pushing out of “If we win or lose, we don’t storm the field, so why should they Butterfield rather than in, coming down off its buzz as it progressed do that? You know what we do? WIN OR LOSE, WE BOOZE!” sluggishly down the hill. Gray Sweatshirt said. “This is such a waste of time. I don’t know why we even go to The trio laughed, and Black Scarf stumbled a bit on the rocks as this part.” the line moved up. “I’ve literally been waiting this whole game just to leave.” “I think they really take that to heart,” Gray Sweatshirt contin“Who’s winning?” “Who cares?” The score was 9–0 Cortland. ued. “No one plays shitty on it. Everyone plays their hearts out be“Should’ve come more prepared. Some people brought stuff.” cause —” She paused, seeming to lose track of whether she was “Maybe I can find my flask on the way out of here.” talking about the fans, the football players or the protestors. “— beOn the way down from the stands, Passionfruit-Pineapple Girl cause we don’t get to act like this on a typical Saturday game. No shouted, “I’m going to go harass that guy because I’m drunk, so I one even goes!” Ah. The fans. can do that!” before promptly falling over two rows of bleachers By 2:30 p.m., Butterfield Stadium was running on empty. The into the arms of a cop. Bomber footballers had already missed two of their “kick points.” Those who stayed behind remained just as confused as be- Though they’d rallied in the last quarter, in the final minutes the fore, perhaps using smuggled goods to carry on their intoxication: score stood still: 8–11 Dragons. Finally, the weary watchers funA group of boys with bloodshot eyes wandered near the fences, neled out of the stadium, most of them back, actually, to their cheering, “Let’s go, boys! C’mon Bombers!” for the duration of the funnels. That men had smashed helmets together in hopes of sehip-hop dance team’s halftime performances — the only 15-minute curing some victory didn’t change the scene, didn’t sway or stop the time frame during which females were on the field. screams from carrying on, although somewhat more tiredly: Three girls spent the third quarter waiting in line “Let’s go Bombers!” Stomp, clap, clap-clap-clap. for the bathroom, passing time till the game “When I say ‘Fuck,’ you say ‘Cortland.’ could be over. Fuck —” “Those Cortland girls better lose those Only 10 hours to go. ugly-ass pom-poms,” the one wearing a Those who drove vacated the place gray Ithaca College sweatshirt shouted pretty quickly, cars filled past capacity to no one in particular. due to a dearth of designated drivers, “I could be watching the game making illegal K-turns to avoid the right now, but I can’t really see,” her mass of students flooding the street. black-scarfed friend said giddily. Stomachs grumbling, the walkers Gray Sweatshirt waxed philodialed Sammy’s or D.P. Dough for sophical: “I feel like this is all more pizzas, searched for Wings Over of a production than it actually is on their iPhones or, begrudgingly, worth. It’s all about the pregame. crept toward the dining halls, preIt’s all about the postgame. But none paring to post the sparse selections of it is about the actual game. Like, in on Instagram. reality, no one gives a shit cuz WIN OR With a last longing whoop, the LOSE, WE BOOZE!” She thrust her fist in campus collapsed into its annual Cortthe air. “Oh crap.” She hastily took it down aca nap. A few rallied against the looming YANA MAZURKEVICH/THE ITHACAN again. “Don’t wanna do that.” hangover, preferring to roam the campus in “Yeah, don’t do that!” Black Scarf snorted back her disheveled bands, mildly harassing anyone they passed laughter. “That’s POC at IC shit.” Unbeknownst to most, a few Itha- wearing red. Back down the pathways they went, Bombers breaking ca College players had flashed a Black Power symbol proudly when through the heart of campus again. They didn’t understand or care their names were announced before the game. too much why they had lost; at least it didn’t change their postgame “It’s insensitive, but at the same time, I don’t know. I wonder plans. They were grateful for a lack of significant disturbance, gratewhen they’re going to be here. Like, that’s scary. I feel bad about all ful to know where they were supposed to be going, eager to chalk that YikYak stuff but…” Their third companion seemed less drunk their losses up to simple bad luck. But maybe it was more than that. and less sure than the other two. Maybe it had something to do with the ground they walked upon, Gray Sweatshirt helped her out. “This isn’t a serious school mat- something to do with how they’d disturbed a native burial ground ter. It’s our one fun day of the year. I mean, c’mon!” by building Butterfield, something to do with their lack of grappling Her friends nodded, and she continued. “I think one of the with this fraught history. After all, the Bombers who now compete things is like they’re trying so hard to prove a point that they for the Cortaca Jug used to be called Cayugans, named after the are willing to squash every other opinion or every other oppo- tribe the college’s land had been taken from; perhaps the stronger sition that comes up on them, and by doing that, they’re actually loss sprung from the bones dug up again and again by a ruckus of invalidating themselves.” unconscious Bombers, an explosive influence felt far more deeply
SPORTS than they could see from their high-above planes. Rumor had it that while the campus slept, at least one girl jumped into the fountain. Tradition stated that jumping in the fountain early ruined the jumper’s chances at graduating. Oh well. At least she had Cortaca. Most of the fallen Bombers slept dreamless sleeps. Those who didn’t dreamt in strange half-truths, unable to dislodge the feeling of shifting earth from their feet or the white-noise roar of the crowd from their ears. They tangled their sheets in restless wrestling, some fighting the urge to vomit, others choking down unwanted memories. Limbs heavy with drink and fatigue, they kicked away weakly the memory of their loss, the memory of losing before they even began, the memory of the dream they’d been having that morning when they’d been woken up by — “Let’s go BOMBS!” “Fuck Cortlaaaaand!” In its 11th hour, Cortaca was dragged back to life, and not one dreamer dreamt of what it had been dragged by. For some reason, the mania of the morning surged anew with the purple sunset. Once more, drinks were called for, but even the most enthusiastic felt the strangeness of a hair-of-the-dog tactic at this time of day. Bedraggled, they threw shots back like medicine and tried to revive their initial excitement. And, on the surface, it worked. They cranked up “Hotline Bling” and prepared for after-parties, still cheering out their windows. Any other time, they would have dressed to the nines. But not now. This was more a celebration of survival than a celebration of life. Most of them had that dirty-jersey-crinkled-jeans-crumpledshirts-smudgy-makeup look, traipsing down the hill toward town while taking lazy swallows from paper bags. They slouched into lines in front of houses on Kendall and Penn and Hudson, saying things like, “Can’t believe we made it” and “Damn, was this walk
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even worth it?” “Of course it was! It’s Cortaca!” The real question might have been this: Why did they even get out of bed? Perhaps it was that weird wellspring of pride again. Bombers had one day to do this, and they were determined to do it right. Perhaps they were just too tired and dehydrated to resist. But then, what pressed them on? Who dictated the terms? It was easy to follow the patterns but not to dissect the design. They were past the point they normally would have enjoyed but carried on anyway. There were signs: Unlike most weekend nights, the house parties’ music wasn’t loud enough to hear from the street. Once they got in, some people didn’t even bother to take off their coats, trying instead to sweat out their last six shots. Kids with dark-circled eyes walked the fine line between exhaustion and
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ecstasy, calculating how much they could take in before they gave out, how much they needed to be happy enough to stay awake. More than once, the hosts had to run out and get more beer. More than once, when they went, the stores were out. Downtown in the bars, upperclassmen — and underclassmen who could afford it — were picking walls and sticking to them, sipping overpriced drinks in the semidarkness. Then, a shift. The second wave of booze was hitting them hard over the head, twisting their limbs into a semblance of consent as they thrashed halfheartedly on the dance floor. In the basements of house parties, black lights brought the partiers’ whites to life as the music churned the masses back into a feverish stupor once more. At the bars in the blue, red and green beams of light they danced, too, heads lolling carelessly, arms by their sides — at least, until the DJ shouted, “You want some Bieber? Who wants some Bieber?” And, remembering the call-and-response from earlier, the Cortaca crowd roared, throwing its hands in the air. It was as simple as that: As soon as they were gone enough to have forgotten the day’s earlier jaunts, it was easy. Here they writhed in Cortaca’s prime. A moment aside from the everyday, a moment away from the lameness and listlessness of real life. A puddle in the dry, dry desert of shamefulness. An odd, unexplained excuse to drop reality and savor, instead, what those DI colleges taste all the time. They forgot what they were there for; they forgot how they even got there. By midnight, some were attempting the trek back to campus, following curbs to at least a street they recognized the name of. No one was in a rush. Sleeping now would only bring tomorrow’s troubles faster, would only lead to more of those mild nightmares. And yet, if they’d done Cortaca right, there was hope. Hopefully, the next day they’d wake with only fond, fuzzy memories of things that might never have happened. They’d have a headache, granted, but otherwise, most would survive the night unscathed. They’d have no memory of the second orders of food they’d placed before they passed out, the crew of confused delivery men waiting by residence halls like grumpy guardians. They’d piece it together with phone records and recycling-bin piles and other people’s photos. The day would exist, a pearly, nebulous period apart from their responsibilities, apart from the mundane multitude of perfectly ordinary days. Who could blame them for wanting to escape? At 1:29 a.m. the last drunk bus wended its way up South Hill, its interior lit with a soft blue that glowed well beyond the windows. It was packed and sweaty and tired, but despite it all, the cheers began to rise: “Let’s go Bombers!” Stomp, clap, clap-clap-clap. The momentum tripped on itself then gained again as the bus continued its climb. “Let’s go Bombers!” Stomp, clap, clap-clap-clap. “LET’S GO BOMBERS!” Stomp, clap, clap-clap-clap And, just as suddenly as it came, the last surge of the day faded into a conversational hum. It lingered, though, in the battled ears of the Bombers, where the hours and hours and decades and decades of decibel overload rang: “Let’s go BOMBS!” “Fuck Cortlaaaaand!” They were unable to hear the music the rest of the way home.
Bombers squander sixth straight Cortaca By Dustin Albino The Ithaca College football team’s comeback fell short in the last six minutes, and for the sixth straight year, the Bombers fell to rival SUNY Cortland in the 57th annual Cortaca Jug game by a final score of 11–8 Nov. 14, 2015, at Butterfield Stadium. After plenty of missed opportunities, the Blue and Gold failed to score four times in Cortland’s territory and missed two field goal attempts. The Red Dragons won an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament and their first Empire 8 Conference title in their inaugural season. One of the keys to the game was Red Dragons quarterback Steven Ferreira. He came into the game second in passing yards and the best in quarterback efficiency in the Empire 8. In the first half, he went 8–11 for 102 yards. He was clutch on third downs, picking up three through the air. The Bombers were able to move the ball down the field for a total of 141 yards, something the team had struggled with in the previous four games. The Bombers had the best chance to score when they failed to convert on a 22-yard field goal from senior kicker Max Rottenecker. The missed field goal was just Rottenecker’s 10th missed field goal of the season. On the assuming possession, the Red Dragons connected on a 29-yard field goal from junior Shane Cronin to put Cortland up 3–0. The only other score of the first half was with one minute to go, when Ferreira hit sophomore wideout Jake Smith for a 14-yard touchdown pass. The Dragons led the Bombers 9–0 heading into halftime. With 49 seconds remaining in the third quarter, senior punter Brandon Steff came on to punt, but the ball sailed over his head into the end zone for a safety, putting the Dragons ahead 11–0. Once the fourth quarter began, the Blue and Gold’s offense woke up, starting with a 30-yard catch and run to junior wideout Myles LaFrance. The Bombers were able to get in field goal range, but Rottenecker ultimately missed a 41-yarder, keeping the Blue and Gold off the board. Head coach Mike Welch said it was the same mistakes that led to the Bombers’ loss. “Things that have been happening the last few weeks showed up again today,” Welch said. “We didn’t take care of the opportunities that we had.” Although the Bombers started the season with a 3–0 record, they went on to win only one more game for the 2015 season. The Bombers compiled a 4–6 record on the season, with their final loss to rivals SUNY Cortland in the 57th annual Cortaca Jug. In the Empire 8 Conference, they won two out of eight conference games and were tied for last with Hartwick College.
IN I T F O R THE LONG RUN Senior Devin Larsen uses running to overcome challenges By Kristen Gowdy In the pitch black of predawn, senior Devin Larsen looks up at the stars and inhales deeply. The crisp, southern–New England night air fills his lungs and heightens his senses as he stares at the twinkling lights. They’re the only source of natural light in the wooded area around him. He exhales. He can see his breath escaping his lips in small clouds of moisture. The temperature in Westwood, Massachusetts, is in the high 30s. Cold for 4 a.m. on a mid-October morning, but not excessively so. Larsen stretches his already limber muscles. His anticipation — as it has been for weeks now — growing by the second. He feels ready. Guided only by the linear glow of his headlamp, Larsen takes in the scene surrounding him. Dozens of runners, crowded around the starting line, jogging, keeping themselves warm, well aware of the four 25-mile loops that lie between them and finishing the Trail Animals Running Club’s 100-mile ultramarathon. Larsen doesn’t see those miles as a burden, but as a challenge. This is what he has been training for for months — for years, really. To run 100 miles. “Everything just physically felt amazing,” he said. “Mentally, I was completely clear, and my body felt completely lucid and ready to go.” He won’t fail. He can’t fail. Not after what he’s been through. Because, after all, Larsen isn’t just running to finish the race. As he always has, he’s running to escape.
Senior Devin Larsen uses running to manage challenges, especially his depression. He began running his sophomore year of high school. TUCKER MITCHELL/THE ITHACAN
To Larsen, the severe depression that he struggled with in high school — and continues to deal with today — is a winding trail, much like the one he is about to run. There are high points and low points, rocks he can trip over and potholes that threaten to hobble him. Larsen has never sought professional help for his depression, nor has he ever been clinically diagnosed. Preferring to keep his struggle internal, Larsen found that literally running through, or around, or over these mental obstacles helps him cope with the depression that sometimes feels like it has engulfed his entire body. Senior Jon Yoskin, one of Larsen’s roommates, agrees long-distance running is Larsen’s release. “Running helps him sort things out and organize his life,” Yoskin said. “You’ll see him just go off at a full-on sprint, and that’s how you know that Devin might be dealing with something.” It is in these runs that Larsen finds an inner peace. It is not an easy subject for him to talk about, and he can’t really explain the enlightenment he finds when running. All he knows is that it helps alleviate the stress and desolation that accompany his depression. “After some inclining depression … I found spending those hours by yourself out in the woods really kind of taught you a lot about yourself,” he said. “It gives you the sense you might get out of yoga. You’re completely focused on yourself and trying to find your
sense of inner balance.” When he’s in Ithaca, Larsen spends hours every day running. He’ll usually complete anywhere from 10–15 miles on weekdays, then do one “heavy” day on the weekends that consists of about 30–40 miles, and on the other weekend day, he averages about 20 miles for a total of approximately 120 miles a week. Mileage-wise, though, his longest outing was a five-day adventure he did “for the hell of it” into New Hampshire’s White Mountains near his hometown of Merrimac, Massachusetts. In the five days, he ran up each of the 48 4,000-foot mountains in the White Mountains region. With an end goal between 16–18 hours, the grueling 100-mile ultra will be the longest run Larsen has attempted. “There are going to be some downturns and minor breaking points where I’m going to be questioning myself,” he said. “It’s just kind of looking ahead and seeing that challenge, however nervous it makes me feel, and say, ‘I’m ready to take it on. I’ve trained hard enough. I’m willing to see where it goes and willing to fight it.’” The first few miles of the race, Larsen is flying. His feet barely touch the ground as his tall, lanky frame lopes through the wooded course. Almost immediately, he and another runner pull out to the front of the pack. Larsen wants to keep it that way. This isn’t the first time winning the race has crossed his mind. It would be validation for him, as it’s only his second ultramarathon, his first being a 50K in August 2015. He’s a newcomer to this sport, which usually appeals to an older demographic. The sun is still below the horizon, and Larsen is relying only on his headlamp to navigate the twists and turns of the packed dirt. It poured the night before, and the woods are still damp with rainwater. But Larsen barely notices any of this. He begins to sweat, the beads resting in his sun-bleached swoop of dirty-blond hair. His eyes are focused directly ahead. Perhaps it is this pure concentration that is Larsen’s downfall. Around the third mile, he comes across a footbridge but can’t see the wet film that has layered itself onto the soggy wood. One wrong plant of his foot, and Larsen feels his feet go out from under him, his knee slamming hard into the ground, and one of his water bottles digging into his chest and bruising his ribs. Instead of turning to help, the runner Larsen has been chasing bolts, leaving Larsen to get up and continue the pursuit. “Rather than taking whatever had just happened into evaluation, I just got up and went after him,” Larsen said. “The next miles were just us kind of going off back and forth.” Over the course of the next 3 miles, Larsen is able to distance himself from the runner enough to slow down and evaluate his knee. He looks down. His leg looks like a twisted sort of rainbow. A brilliant purple bruise is already coloring its way along his knee, and blood spatters the rest of his calf and thigh. Larsen refuses to believe this setback will end his race. Besides, the adrenaline coursing through his body is preventing him from feeling any pain. It’s the natural high that comes with running. The same feeling that has pulled him out of depression time and again is now keeping him from experiencing any agony that his knee may be causing. He pushes on.
Senior Devin Larsen runs through a wooded trail Oct. 25, 2015, at Buttermilk Falls. Larsen trained for months to complete an ultramarathon. TUCKER MITCHELL/THE ITHACAN
It was, ironically, through an injury that Larsen started running. During his sophomore year of high school, after years of football, baseball and wrestling, Larsen was done. He was tired of the injuries that came with these sports — in particular, a hit during football that broke his tibia and patella and tore his MCL. After nearly a year of surgery, crutches and rehabilitation, Larsen said he knew he needed a different sport. “I just decided to take up a more nonphysical sport that wasn’t going to break my bones or give me terrible concussions,” he said. “That was running. I kind of fell in love with it right away.” Larsen ran track and field and cross-country in high school but chose to focus on academics when he came to Ithaca College, though his approximately four-minute mile time could compete with the fastest mile times in the Empire 8 Conference.
SPORTS Running, however, was something Larsen never wanted to give up, even if he wasn’t competing for a team. It was during Fall 2014 that he read about ultrarunning for the first time. At the time, Larsen had already committed himself to vegetarianism, and longer distances intrigued him. “It reinvigorated this love of running for me, and I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll start putting on longer distances and see how it feels,’” he said. “In the winter here, when it was cold as hell and I was here by myself, I started putting on heavier and heavier miles.” And over the course of the past year, Larsen has found his athletic calling. In addition to his 120-mile-per-week training regimen, he finds time to lift and cross-train in biking and swimming. He also made the full transition to veganism, and his well-being is part of the reason he has never taken medication for his depression. Senior Allie Johnson, one of his other roommates, said Larsen is constantly striving toward his fitness goals. “He’s definitely passionate and driven by what he wants to achieve,” she said. “He doesn’t tell us a lot about his running because it is just so personal for him. He’s not looking for us to be impressed by him or anything.” Despite Larsen’s outward modesty, those closest to him are aware of his dedication. Yoskin said he once went into the kitchen to find Larsen making a banana, avocado and kale smoothie. “I was just like, ‘Hey man, if that works,’” Yoskin laughed. “It’s all calculated. He keeps a very close eye on what is going into his body and what he’s doing physically to prepare.” Larsen’s body is so attuned to his diet that, during his 50K race, he accidentally grabbed a small cup of Pepsi from one of the aid stations thinking it was Gatorade and drank it before continuing his race. The processed sugars in the Pepsi that Larsen’s body wasn’t used to affected him so badly that he vomited. He hasn’t touched soda — or most other junk foods — in the nearly three months since.
Though he is just 12 miles into the race, Larsen is feeling that wear, and it’s only getting worse. He stops every couple of miles to quickly stretch his knee before continuing the run, but by mile 20, the pain is unbearable. He only has five miles to go before completing the first loop, and he decides to at least finish the first circuit before re-evaluating. Larsen pulls his pace back. He was previously averaging his goal of 9–10 minutes per mile, but it is a speed he can no longer maintain. Frustration sets in, along with a new pain in his right leg from overcompensating for his injured left. Just as he has been so many times before, Larsen is trapped in his own head. “It really sucked because everything else felt fantastic,” he said. “There was no pain anywhere else. Even in that moment, I started to question myself, like ‘Could I seriously, in an actual, truthful moment, do another 75 miles on this right now?’” In the few hours each day Larsen isn’t focused on his physical fitness, he finds time for his other passion. He was never planning on pursuing physics — he came to the college as a biochemistry major with a pre-med concentration track. “I found it wasn’t really interesting me as much as it should have,” he said. “It wasn’t capturing my attention.” Before his freshman year, Larsen’s love for physics was reinvigorated when he reread many of Carl Sagan’s works, and he decided to switch to physics almost immediately upon his arrival. Nearly three years later, Larsen serves as the head physics tutor — a massive responsibility that involves organizing evening tutoring sessions and helping intro-level physics students — and is currently working closely with one of his professors, Michael “Bodhi” Rogers, on a project that they completed and sent to the American Journal of Physics during the Spring 2016 semester. The paper examines the writing styles of Albert Einstein and Henri Poincaré in the context of their arguments on special relativity. “He’s an excellent student, and I’m really excited about the research project we’re working on because he’s a fantastic writer,” Rogers said. “He’s really good at getting his brain around physics. Coupled with his interest in literature and history and writing, he comes with very distinct perspectives.” Though Larsen tends to keep running and physics mostly separate, they intersect at the core of his ever-calculated personality. “Both require an extreme work ethic and devotion,” he said. “Whether it’s based within a massive homework set, research or hitting the trails ... it requires devotion. And it’s all whether or not you are willing to give the time and effort required to see those gains and successes.”
“It’s just kind of looking ahead and seeing that challenge, however nervous it makes me feel, and say, ‘I’m ready to take it on. I’ve trained hard enough. I’m willing to see where it goes and willing to fight it.”
The miles are getting harder for Larsen as he continues the race, and he begins to feel the ligaments in his injured knee tightening. Initially, he pushes through the discomfort, but the trail is wearing on him, his body and his mindset. It is this, the unexpectedly grueling nature of the course, that race director Josh Katzman cites as one of the biggest reasons that runners end up dropping out. “The course, it grinds people down,” Katzman said. “There are places where you can get into a good rhythm, but that’s broken up by the short, little up-and-down kind of things that aren’t severe, but they just gradually wear your body down.”
In pain and struggling to even jog, Larsen limped back to the start/finish line, where Katzman and a team of other race officials
and doctors were waiting. While a doctor stretched his knee, Larsen was deliberating hard internally. Ideas ricocheted back and forth in his mind. He desperately wanted to finish the race. If he didn’t, all of the time, the runs, the pain, the effort he put into training would be wasted. But at the same time, finishing the race meant doing so in agonizing pain and potentially further injuring his knee. It could mean an extended period of time without running. Larsen consulted Katzman, who has organized many races and has seen similar cases. “I could see with Devin, he definitely did not want to stop,” Katzman said. “I think we both understood at that time that he wasn’t going to get the win ... but there’s still a sense of pride, a sense of wanting to finish what he set out to start.” Finally, after a couple of hours of hoping his knee would feel better, Larsen chose to pull out of the race. His initial reaction was an intense sense of disappointment and frustration toward a situation that he couldn’t control. But then he realized that it was just that. “I, at least, know that if my knee was perfectly fine, I think I would’ve been totally fine,” he said. “But nothing could’ve prepared me for that to happen, for me to crash 3 miles into a 100-mile race.” It is for this reason that, since the race, Larsen has been able to look at the situation with a clearer mindset. While still frustrated by the fall, he is encouraged by the fact that he knows he could have finished the 100 miles — and likely won. “What’s almost more remarkable than Devin himself is he’s incredibly humble and modest and energetic,” Katzman said. “Here’s a guy who had a chance at winning this whole thing. I’m guessing
Larsen stretches before a run. He has a very strict diet for his training and tries to eat mostly vegan. TUCKER MITCHELL/THE ITHACAN
when he fell, he knew his race was over in the sense that the result that he was seeking was over. But he still guts it out.” This is the reason that, just four days after the injury, Larsen was already out for another run. His mindset has so drastically changed in the past year that he is able to move on from the race. He says ultrarunning is what pulled him out of that depressive state, and though he still loses himself on occasion, that’s when he hits the trails. “When you do take that time to run … it’s just you stripping away everything else and saying, ‘Let’s just focus on me physically and mentally,’” he said. “Really, the fact that I didn’t wallow in any sense of self-deprecation or depression following the race kind of goes to show the amount of strength and how much my mindset has changed over the past year to the point that, for me now, it’s not beating myself up over it.” Instead, Larsen is turning to the future. After he graduates, Larsen wants to pursue running as a career, to see whether it’s a feasible option to earn a living. His backup plan involves moving west to work with underprivileged children in an outdoor program. Or there’s always physics. “He has a lot of pathways he can go down,” Rogers said. “I think after he finishes up seeing what he can do with running, it’ll be fun to see where he goes.” But no matter where Larsen ends up, he said, the future can only hold more ultramarathons. He registered for a 50K, which took place Nov. 7, 2015, and is planning on signing up for another 100-mile race as soon as his knee is fully healed. “All I really look forward to is getting back on the trail and enjoying putting one foot in front of the other and just taking on whatever I want to do that day,” he said. “You’re going to fall, especially on trail races, but it’s just how you go from there.”
Larsen trained roughly 120 miles per week to prepare for the 100-mile ultramarathon. TUCKER MITCHELL/THE ITHACAN
A DAY IN THE LIFE A look into the game-day preparation of senior captain and guard Sam Bevan By Reed Keller
Early in the first half of their game against Hartwick College on Feb. 20, the Bombers find themselves trailing 8–4. Hartwick’s players are bigger than Ithaca College’s, and the Blue and Gold are having a tough time stopping the Hawks in the paint. Then, their leader takes control. Freshman guard Peter Ezema finds senior captain Sam Bevan at the top of the 3-point line. A simple flick of the wrist sends the ball swishing through the hoop, narrowing the deficit to one and electrifying the crowd at the Hill Center. Just a few hours earlier, however, Bevan was enjoying a quiet Saturday morning.
Bevan wakes up at 8:45 a.m. on an unseasonably warm late-February Saturday to prepare for another men’s basketball game, something he has done countless times over his four years on South Hill. The only difference is that this game would be his last. Bevan, the only senior on the men’s basketball squad, is to be honored before the Bombers’ regular-season finale against Hartwick on Senior Day in Ben Light Gymnasium. Before heading up to campus from his house on South Aurora Street, Bevan dresses simply in a T-shirt, khaki pants and boat shoes with no socks, and heads out the door. On the way to campus, he makes a quick pit stop at Rogan’s Corner for a protein bar, Gatorade and pretzels. “Sometimes I’ll make myself breakfast,” Bevan says. “But if there’s nothing in the house, I’ll stop here for something.” Bevan arrives at the locker room deep in the heart of the Hill Center and prepares to hit the court for a morning shoot-around. The 6-foot-2-inch guard moves with purpose, changing from street clothes to a warm-up outfit in the blink of an eye. The process is slowed, however, when it comes to his choice of sneakers. “Honestly, this is the hardest part of my day,” Bevan says. “I can never decide what shoes to wear.” Once the small crisis of footwear is solved with the selection of a worn pair of Nikes, one of three visible in his stall, Bevan takes to the court, joined only by freshman guard Aaron Fite, who is working on his perimeter shooting. The pregame routine is fairly simple: Take as many shots as possible and stay loose. Bevan picks up one of the basketballs lying on the court and begins to work on his ball handling, with a sudden realization. “This is the last ball-handling drill I’ll ever do in my life,” Bevan says. “Unless I get drafted by an NBA team, then I might have to do some more.”
Ithaca College senior guard Sam Bevan ties his shoes during his morning shootaround. Bevan said picking out his shoes is one of the hardest parts of his day. SAM FULLER/THE ITHACAN
The rest of the team members have now made their way onto the court. After a few minutes of shooting around — and joking about Fite’s claiming the closet containing the rest of the basketballs is locked, when it is, in fact, open — head coach Jim Mullins calls the team to order. After a tough loss to Utica College the night before, the Bombers have only one chance to make the playoffs: the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament. The ECAC is a tournament that allows teams that do not have access to a conference tournament the opportunity to participate in postseason play. The Bombers cannot make the Empire 8 tournament, so Mullins explains to the team that he submitted the tournament application after the Utica loss Feb. 19 before turning to the afternoon’s contest. “This game is about three things,” Mullins says. “Legacy, which is mainly for Sam, how he wants to be remembered. It’s about the future, for all of you who will be back next season, and it’s about liking yourselves. Can you look in the mirror tomorrow, regardless of what happens, and say that you like what you see?” With that, the morning walk-through begins as assistant coach Sean Burton runs the Bombers through what defenses they will use against the Hartwick Hawks.
Bevan huddles with his team before the game on Feb. 20, Bevan’s last. SAM FULLER/THE ITHACAN
With the walk-through and brief film session finished, the team is turned loose for some free time before the game. In the locker room, the talk centers around food. Sophomore guard Carroll Rich announces his plans almost immediately. “I don’t know about you guys,” Rich says. “But I’m going right back to my kitchen to chef.” Bevan decides to have his “cheffing” done for him and jumps in his car with sophomore guard and fellow captain Marc Chasin to head to Wegmans. Once there, the pair decides on identical meals of salmon, green beans and mashed potatoes.
Bevan returns to the gym with Chasin to work on more shooting drills. The shots taken are more game-realistic. Bevan works on catch-and-shoot shots from beyond the 3-point line and layups from both sides of the net. Even though the game is fast approaching, the two captains keep the mood light with behind-the-back passes and flashy rebounding preceding almost every shot attempt. Once the shoot-around ends, Bevan detours to the athletic training room, picks up a foam roll and heads to the locker room to suit up.
Joined by the rest of the team, Bevan and the Bombers go through their pregame warmups. Shots fly at the hoop from every direction, and no player is standing in one spot for too long. Ben Light Gymnasium is beginning to look increasingly game ready, as a few fans have now filed in and DJ Washburn is setting up his turntables to perform during the game.
Bevan practices layups and free-throws before his last game on Feb. 20. SAM FULLER/THE ITHACAN
ABOVE: Bevan practices dribbling during warmups before the Feb. 20 game. TOP RIGHT: Bevan stands with his coach, mother and father before the game. BOTTOM RIGHT: Bevan runs down the court during his last Ithaca College basketball game. SAM FULLER/THE ITHACAN
The team heads to the locker room to discuss final points of strategy before taking the court. Burton calls out individual players and asks them what they know about Hartwick’s best players. Mullins then takes the helm and reiterates his points of the game’s being about legacy, the future and liking yourself. Finally, Bevan brings the team together in the center of the room and breaks the huddle with the message: “Guys, this could be our last game of the season,” Bevan says. “Let’s end it on a high note.” Before tipoff, Bevan is honored at center court with a framed jersey bearing his number — five — and a yellow rose to present to his mother, Nancy. As the PA announcer reads off his impressive list of stats, Bevan is all smiles as he poses for pictures with his parents.
Game time arrives, and the Bombers come out firing. Bevan only has six points in the first half but has six assists, most of those contributing to Chasin’s 18 first-half points. The first half concludes with an 8–0 run by the Bombers, giving them a 47–38 lead at the break. Back in the locker room, Bevan talks to the team from his corner locker, keeping the message simple and concise. “Guys, we’re up by nine on a playoff team,” Bevan says.
“Just keep pounding, and we’ll be fine.” Unfortunately, the Bombers are outscored 63–40 in the second half and fall to Hartwick College 101–87. Bevan is taken out of the game with a minute left. The look on his face is one of disappointment, knowing they let a golden opportunity slip away, but the high-fives and hugs from his teammates draw a smile out of him. “I’m not looking for special treatment,” Bevan said earlier in the day. “I just want this to be a normal game.” Despite those wishes, Bevan takes a seat on the bench and stares out at the standing ovation he is receiving from the crowd at the Hill Center.
In a subdued locker room, Mullins waits to address the team while Bevan is upstairs giving interviews. The captain walks in and sits down heavily, tearing up as Mullins begins his talk. “I’ll tell you what,” Mullins says. “It doesn’t matter what happens with the ECAC. I’m proud of you all, and I am very pleased with how this team came together.” After going over the practice schedule for the upcoming week, Mullins leaves it to Bevan to end the night. “One last time,” Bevan says as he approaches the center of the huddle. “Together on three. One, two, three…” “TOGETHER!”
PLAYING FAVORITES Athletes voice discontent toward head volleyball coach Janet Donovan
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY AMANDA DEN HARTOG
By Jonathan Beck The large turnover of student athletes staying and leaving each year is not uncommon for most college athletic programs. However, for the Ithaca College volleyball team, with head coach Janet Donovan at the helm, more players have gone than remained, due in part to criticisms of her coaching style and what team members described as her disrespect for her players. “I can tell you that every single girl I’ve played with, I’ve seen cry because of Janet. Every single one, and most of them on more than one occasion.” These words were spoken by a 2012 alumna and former student-athlete of the college. Having been a four-year member of the volleyball team, she did not want to be named for the purposes of this article. Since the team’s preseason in August
2015, seven of last year’s 13 returning players were either cut from the team or made the decision to quit. Rather than being on the court, four of the eight former players — juniors Molly Brown, Myan Idziur, Maggie Mutschler and Siobhan Sorensen — chose to sit out. Former volleyball players dating back to 2005 have expressed similar feelings about Donovan. At first, many players were reluctant to speak out against their head coach. However, in recent years, student-athletes have brought a number of concerns to the athletics department. Over the course of two months, The Ithacan investigated and uncovered the nature and extent of Donovan’s behavior. Interviews with 25 people involved with the volleyball team and the college, including five current and 11 former
students, coaches, administrators and family members, found a pattern stretching over a decade of damage to the volleyball program that has led to the mental deterioration of several student-athletes. Donovan declined to comment on any of the content in this article. The current team is now underclassman-heavy, composed of five freshmen, five sophomores, one junior and one senior. However, this young configuration is nothing new to the program. Over the past six seasons, the college’s volleyball program has seen 55 underclassmen and 25 upperclassmen, a difference of 30, with an average of nine underclassmen and four upperclassmen per squad. Comparatively, from 2010–15, the
other eight Empire 8 schools saw an average of about 17 more underclassmen than upperclassmen per squad. Although the program has near similar player loss rates to other Division III schools, many believe there is a reason why a significant number of players have left the program, despite the record number of wins under Donovan. Many of the players who are no longer on the team said they left preseason muddled about how Donovan made her decision on who would make the team and felt like they were not given adequate reasoning behind the decision of being cut. Brown said that after six practices and three days of tryouts, the players were given an envelope in the locker room that said whether they had made the squad. Idziur said that when she went to Donovan for clarification after she found out she was cut from the team, Donovan would not discuss her decision, which Idziur said she found immature. “She just said, ‘It’s in the letter,’” Idziur said. “And [I said], ‘What do you mean it’s in the letter?’ And she repeated herself … two more times, saying, ‘It’s in the letter.’ And I [said], ‘I don’t understand, can you tell me? I deserve that at this point. I deserve to know what is going through your head.’ … And she didn’t give me anything. At one point, she didn’t even respond to me and just stared at me.” Assistant coach Derryk Williams said he
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and Donovan made it clear to players how tryouts were going to be run and how they would determine who made the team. They used a program called Gold Medal Squared to evaluate the players, which involves a process for coaches to teach certain skills based on statistics and psychology. He said Gold Medal Squared is what the national team and Division I programs use to figure out who statistically does the best. “We went through the tryout process, and then afterwards, they received their statistics of where they stood in their position, and we were looking for very multidimensional players, so we kept players in a position that we thought would make us the best team, as well who performed the best during tryouts,” Williams said. Sophomore Kayla Gromen, one of three captains on the current team, said that after tryouts, her teammates had to move on from the decisions made by Donovan and tried to stay focused. “It was a very surprising 12-hour period, but we knew the first day we walked into the gym coming back from the summer,” Gromen said. “We knew throughout the summer that it was going to be a competitive preseason, and obviously, we didn’t know the results until we got all of our envelopes.” Nonetheless, Mutschler said her perception of Donovan before and after the recruiting process was very different.
The parents of all members of the 2014 roster received an email from Donovan regarding the upcoming season. In the email The Ithacan obtained, Donovan laid out specific commitments she needed from parents for the upcoming season. Donovan, when referring to how their daughters would be treated, said, “we will not physically or mentally abuse her.” At one point, Donovan suggested the players might “organize a plot to get me fired.” She even told the parents to tell their daughter “to get back to the tough business of growing up and becoming accountable for the challenges she is lucky enough to have before her.” Donovan also suggested that “if you cannot make this commitment then you need to look at other schools.” Susan Bassett, director of the Office of Intercollegiate Athletics, said she was aware of the letter and had a conversation with Donovan regarding the matter but was not allowed to talk about the details of that conversation due to the privacy surrounding personnel issues. “I will not and cannot speak about anything that relates to what I do or don’t say to anyone of the staff that I supervise,” Bassett said. A parent of one of the former players said she was surprised when she received the email from Donovan and was taken aback by the fact that Donovan suggested leaving for another school.
JILLIAN FLINT/THE ITHACAN
“The thing that stood out in my mind … from well over a year ago now, because of the numerous suggestions in the email to considering transferring to another school. … As a parent, just sending your child off as a freshman to a school with a $50,000 price tag, and they’re not even there a week yet, and to have a coach to suggest that this might not be the right school for your child … I found that really offensive.” Less than a week later, Bassett said, Donovan issued an apology after complaints from other parents. Despite these and other concerns, Donovan does have supporters among the players. Senior captain Dylan Gawinski-Stern, who has played on the team since she was a freshman, said Donovan is always trying to get better as a coach from year to year. “For me, being here for four years, there obviously have been things that have not been what we want from previous years,” she said. “But I have seen a lot of change and a lot of progression of our coach, and this one seems to be the best one we have had so far, and I think that has a lot to do with how every person grows each year.” Gromen and sophomore captain Joelle Goldstein agreed with the sentiments Gawinski-Stern mentioned about their current coach. Goldstein said she’s been lucky and fortunate to have a good relationship with Donovan. “I personally have never encountered any problems with her,” Goldstein said. “I mean, she’s the reason I found out about Ithaca, and a large reason of why I came to Ithaca. She’s very supportive in the fact that she never wants to push us to the length of where we’re going to be injured.” Many of the other current players on the volleyball team declined to comment for the purpose of this article. Mutschler quit the team Sept. 4, 2015. Goldstein said it was tough for the players to adjust after Mutschler quit, and with a match against SUNY Brockport on Sept. 5, they needed to turn the negative energy into positive energy. “I played for [Mutschler] because she wasn’t there,” Goldstein said. “There are so many other girls who would kill to be in our spots right now, so if you keep that mentality throughout the season — you just play your hardest and know that — then we’ll be fine.”
The volleyball team finished its best regular season since 2007 with a 30–4 record. The team won the Empire 8 Conference Championship for the first time since 2010 before falling to Clarkson University on Nov. 14, 2015, in the second round of the Division III National Championship Tournament. Brown said Donovan was too protective of her authoritative role and that if a player ever questioned her coaching style, Donovan would consider her a negative force on the squad, which
“She is a very manipulative person. She’s very inconsistent in her coaching style, which makes it really hard for a team to grow. … She likes to make examples out of people.
would quickly escalate to a lack of mutual respect on Donovan’s part. Brown said she had an incident with Donovan her sophomore year and said it came out of thin air, beginning Sept. 20, 2014, in a match against Hartwick College. Brown said Donovan let every person on the team play that day except her because Brown challenged Donovan’s authority due to the constant criticism she received every day. “When she stopped playing me, she didn’t say a word to me for a week,” Brown said. “She didn’t acknowledge what she did was wrong.” Mutschler said there was one practice in 2014 that was supposed to be a lighter practice for the team. However, she said that within the first 30 minutes, one of her teammates was on the verge of crying. Mutschler said she went to comfort her teammate, and at the end of practice, Donovan came up to Mutschler in the locker room to speak to her. “She looked at me and said, ‘Haven’t I given you everything you wanted,’ meaning playing time, because I did play a
lot,” Mutschler said. “I can’t say that I didn’t get playing time, and I said yes. She said, ‘Just remember that, finishing up the season, remember I gave you everything you wanted.’ And that was it. I brought that to the athletic department, and I told them about that because it made me extremely uncomfortable, and I felt like I was pitted against my teammates for something that wasn’t fair to them.” Syline Kim ’14, who was a two-year captain and an office assistant for Donovan for three years, said she and her teammates faced similar problems and met with the administration to try to rectify the problem. Kim said while she did not personally have many altercations with Donovan, at times she did feel like her playing ability wasn’t taken seriously. “I saw other people take it harder than I did, definitely,” Kim said. “I felt like if you messed up, like me, personally, — if I made one mistake — I feel like I would be taken out after one specific thing, while other people got a lot of chances. I did see if someone shanked a pass, they’d be taken out immediately and not be given a chance to redeem themselves.” Abbie Hutchinson ’15 said she remembered one instance where the team was playing its last game — a playoff — and by the end of the contest, there were only underclassmen on the court. “[The seniors] had worked their butts off all season, and they competed in practices and earned their spot on the floor to start that game, but by midway through to close to the end, their last game, we’re down by quite a bit, so we can’t really come back, and they weren’t given the respect to be able to play, and that was frustrating to see and experience as a junior,” Hutchinson said. Many former players shared these same experiences across the years. Casey Buss ’08 played on the volleyball team for her first two years. In 2006, during her junior year, she was cut from the squad during the preseason. She said she had a feeling she would be cut the first day she showed up for tryouts based on the attitude Donovan displayed toward her during tryouts. “I had an inkling,” Buss said. “Knowing how the first two years — primarily how my sophomore year went and the relationship I had with Janet — I had a feeling I was going to be on the chopping block. And I could tell during tryouts that she did not want me on the team. It was
SPORTS very clear.” Buss said the way she and other members of the team were treated by Donovan was not professional and that by speaking up, it could have cost her a spot on the team. “I believe it was less to do with my athletic ability and had more to do with my stance on her coaching and how I had respectfully challenged her in the past, and she did not feel that was appropriate,” she said. The problems she and her teammates have encountered with Donovan often made them uncomfortable, Buss said. “If we had an off weekend from a tournament or we didn’t play as well as we should have, instead of going to practice and reviewing tapes, we would have something called a circle talk, which were, in my mind, incredibly and emotionally damaging for many of the women on the team,” she said. Buss said that before the team would begin practice, they would sit in a circle on the gym floor of the Hill Center and be forced to share personal reasons, such as family problems and eating disorders, for their bad performances. “I remember I stood up and said at one point, ‘This is not right; we should be studying the other teams ... not sitting in a circle and crying. That’s not what we should be doing,’” Buss said. “And Janet didn’t like that. When she would look at me or another woman and say, ‘If you’re not crying, you’re doing something wrong,’ I think that’s incredibly inappropriate.” Buss also said she recalled an instance where the team was split into two separate groups: the starters and the role players. The starters were sent to the counseling center to discuss how they could do better as a team, and the role players were forced to practice how to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. “It was very damaging. It made the girls that had to participate in that Pledge of Allegiance activity feel awful,” Buss said. “It was not something any athlete should be forced to do and feel like you weren’t good enough.” Six other alumnae also spoke of the circle talks. A member of the team who graduated in 2012 shared similar experiences and said the experiences under Donovan were undesirable.
“She is a very manipulative person. She’s very inconsistent in her coach-
FERNANDO FERRAZ/THE ITHACAN
ing style, which makes it really hard for a team to grow. … She likes to make examples out of people. It was never knowing what was going to happen [with Donovan].” Ryan Baker ’03, a former student assistant coach under Donovan, said working under Donovan was one of the best experiences in his career and cites her as a mentor to him. Baker is now the volleyball head coach at Colgate University. He also said he witnessed no problems during his time and never had a player speak to Donovan with fear. “It sounds like you have some unhappy players, former players, who to me are on a little bit of a witch hunt,” Baker said. “I think you see that at all levels and all institutions where people are unhappy, they’re finding a place to air their unhappiness and grievances. It’s too bad, but that comes with the territory working in athletics.” Mutschler and other teammates began to bring their complaints about Donovan to the athletics department in 2014 after instances like this had started to make many of the players feel uncomfortable, she said.
Sorensen said Michelle Manning, associate director of the Office of Intercollegiate Athletics, was at the majority of the team’s practices to observe the team because of issues that were brought to her during the 2013 season. Bassett and Manning also had individual meetings with some of the players, and Sorensen said the players went into the meetings with a list of examples of uncomfortable encounters they had with Donovan. “They had a meeting with us at the start of second semester to tell us that they had decided that Janet would remain as the head coach,” Sorensen said. “As soon as I heard those words, I broke down. And I think that should have been a big sign that I do not feel comfortable with Janet Donovan as my head coach.” Following the decision in 2014, rules were put in place prohibiting Donovan from having one-on-one meetings with players. However, Mutschler said the rule was not enforced. “My first day being on the team, I had a meeting alone with Janet. My first day,” Mutschler said. “We were promised that she would be held accountable. I can say from my week or two being on the team, no one was holding her accountable.” Since she was hired in 2013, Bassett said, the athletics office holds all coaches accountable through the establishment of annual goals and action plans. She said she reviews the progress of these plans throughout the year and during each coach’s annual performance evaluation. The performance evaluations include feedback from the coaches, evaluations completed by student-athletes and observations of practices and competitions by her and other athletic administrators. She mentioned the college is in its second year of this phase. “From all of that information, a variety of things happen,” Bassett said. “A variety of conversations happen about strengths and opportunities to improve, and those are things that I and some of my administra-
tive staff all have responsibility to embark upon. I take my role and my responsibility to safeguard student experience and support the mission of Ithaca College as an academic institution very seriously. There are a variety of things that we’re working on, and there is a lot of progress that has been made, and there are in the whole enterprise, I’m sure, areas for where we can get better. And that’s what we’re focused on doing.” Mike Lindberg, the director of athletics and physical education at Wells College, also declined to comment. Lindberg was the associate director of intercollegiate athletics from 1998–2014, during most of Donovan’s tenure. Hutchinson, who quit the team her junior year, said Manning randomly selected players from each class based on an online questionnaire to discuss their experiences with Donovan as a head coach. Hutchinson also said she recalls during her freshman year seniors asked for written responses from the group of players to show the administration the number of problems that took place. None of the freshmen whom Hutchinson came in with remained on the team all four years. “They presented to them our general feeling about the coaching situation and how it affected everyone and how we were sort of uncomfortable with it, and I think that was around the time at which the AD was switching, so there was some change going on anyway, but it was formally presented at multiple points in fact,” Hutchinson said. Despite the fact that Kim played all four years, she said she did have thoughts of leaving the team, but ultimately, her passion for the sport outweighed the problems that occurred. “I think freshman, sophomore year you play for the sport and the hope to get on that court to please the coach because being
that young, she gives you more attention and more praise when you do make mistakes, but by junior, senior year, once you do make that mistake, you’re criticized, and as a player, that’s the hardest thing is to be always criticized by the coach, and maybe she would bring you up a little bit, but then she would push you right back down,” Kim said. Another member of the team, who also graduated in 2012, said it is inexcusable for the athletics department to have a repeated history by ignoring the problem. “To me, for an athletic office to read those evaluations and do nothing about it is pretty astounding.” Buss agreed with sentiments of past and present players and said she hoped for a change. “At the end of the day, this is about a student-athlete’s experience on a collegiate volleyball team and what they’re subjected to because of the mismanagement of a coaching staff,” Buss said. Brown said it is unfortunate to see the number of players who have lost their passion for the game due to Donovan’s disrespect. “I think a lot of it is we’ve all played this sport since we were in sixth, fifth grade, some later, some earlier. It’s part of our lives,” Brown said. “A lot of people are not willing to give that up just because someone in their life is hurting them emotionally. It’s a lot to give up. It’s a lot of passion. It’s not taken lightly. … It’s just a shame to see that passion taken away.” Mutschler said she eventually decided to leave the team because she could not handle going to practices knowing how her former teammates were treated. “I had to stay true to my conscience because at the end of the day, that’s what it was,” Mutschler said. “I couldn’t deal with knowing everything that’s happened. … I’m so proud of all the girls that are still there.”
Volleyball head coach Janet Donovan resigns By Andrew Sullivan Janet Donovan, Ithaca College volleyball head coach, resigned from her head coaching position Jan. 15. In the announcement, Donovan said she was stepping down from her position to spend more time with her family and take care of her personal health. Donovan said she “left the program better than when [she] found it” and she was “blessed that [she] ended [her] time at Ithaca coaching extraordinary student-athletes, mentoring young, talented assistant coaches, and being supported by their wonderful families.” Donovan’s resignation came in light of athletes’ raising concerns about her and the volleyball program. Susan Bassett ’79, director of the Office of Intercollegiate Athletics, said Donovan’s resignation had nothing to do with the allegations against her. “I’m sure many things went into her consideration,” Bassett said. “I think that there were plenty of people who supported her. I’m sure she was focused on that, but at this point really wanted to make a change and do something else. Twenty-four years is a long time to do one thing. I’m just taking it at face value that she wants to, as she said, spend more time with her family and focus on her health and well-being.” Freshman outside hitter Hailey Adler said she will miss having Donovan as her coach. “I was surprised,” Adler said. “However, I do respect her decision to focus on her health and her family, as she dedicated a lot of time to be with the team each day. … She knew how to push the team to achieve our personal bests, which made us a better team as a whole.” Bassett said Donovan’s lasting memory at the college will be her successful work with the volleyball program this past season, as well as over her 24-year career. “She had a very good win-loss record over time,” Bassett said. “And certainly this past year got the program back to the national stage, winning the Empire 8. I think that would be a big part of it.” Donovan finished her 24th season at the program this past year, coaching the squad to a 31–5 record and an Empire 8 Conference championship after bowing out in the second round of the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament with a loss to Clarkson University on Nov. 14, 2015. Donovan wrapped up her career with the Bombers with a 674–295 record and is the college’s winningest volleyball coach. Bassett announced Feb. 22 that Johan Dulfer was hired as the new volleyball head coach. Dulfer began his responsibilities as head coach March 7. Danielle Allentuck contributed reporting to this article.
CL IMB TO THE TOP
Students embrace rock climbing By Vinica Weiss YANA MAZURKEVICH/THE ITHACAN
Against the massive boulder towering above her, senior rock climber Lauren Denecke is small. She’s just a tiny piece of a much bigger puzzle. As she starts climbing, Denecke is relaxed. She has to be. One wrong move, and she’ll fall. And while she may be attached to a rope, the possibility of injuring herself is still likely. While making her way up the rock — steep and unyielding — her movements are precise against the bone-dry sandstone, every move just as methodical and calculated as the last. The rock is cold, but this creates just the perfect amount of friction for her hands, white with chalk, to grasp onto the rough surface. She continues to climb, her body exposed as the feeling of nothingness envelops her. But soon enough, whatever mental and physical exhaustion Denecke is feeling will be
well worth it when she reaches the top of the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, her favorite climbing spot. Cue a sigh of relief. “You’re feeling that whole connection of you to the rock through your arms and trying to get your muscles to do the things that you want to do, and there’s that physical strain and then the sense of accomplishment when you can do it, and it is just so awesome,” Denecke said. At Ithaca College, Denecke is one of about 15 rock climbers. In recent years, the rock climbing community at the college has grown, with experienced and inexperienced climbers’ venturing up the climbing wall. Denecke said about 10 to 20 students come to the rock wall at the Fitness Center to climb every night. On the national scale, according to the Climbing Business Journal, the number of commercial climbing facilities in 2014 was 353, up from 310 in 2013 and
282 in 2012. Denecke began rock climbing at 10 years old, when her mother picked up rock climbing herself. In between fourth and fifth grade, Denecke’s mother put her in summer camp, where she spent weeks learning to climb. Her weeks of climbing proved to pay off, and in her first year of climbing, she qualified for the American Bouldering Series Nationals in Boulder, Colorado. Before her rock climbing career, the Pennsylvania native had been a competitive gymnast since the age of 6. Denecke said her extensive gymnastics experience played a big role in her success as a rock climber because she had already built up a large amount of strength and flexibility. Denecke said there is a misconception that climbers only use their arms. She said good climbers know how to work their arms, legs and core to ensure a successful climb. “Coming from a gymnastics background, I had a ridiculous amount of strength in all of those categories, and I had zero fear of heights,” Denecke said. “I had no problem. I had fallen off of so many high bars. I had fallen off of so many beams, and I’d flipped myself through the air. So I was like, ‘Oh, OK. There’s a rope holding me, like, fine. That’s great. If I fall, I will swing. That’s fun.’” Ultimately, Denecke said, training for climbing depends on one’s body type. Senior Dylan Herman-Dunphy, who has much strength but is not flexible, said he is better at shorter, harder climbs. Because Herman-Dunphy is bigger, he said, he has to have that much more muscular endurance to compensate for his mass. However, Denecke said she tends to be weak in her shoulders, so doing pullups and pushups is essential to her training. She said it is also important to have both good wrist and grip strength. In this way, Denecke is much better at harder, more technical climbs. “Climbing is very stylistic,” Denecke said. “Watching somebody do it can be helpful or cannot be helpful at all. And so there are people who climb like you, and
there are people who climb nothing like you, and everybody kind of has to figure it out.” Junior rock climber Sean Phillips, who is also on the cross-country and track teams, said one important aspect of training is a person’s strength-toweight ratio. Phillips said running helps his strength-to-weight ratio because he manages to stay very lean while also having much core and upper body strength. Phillips said he started to rock climb when he was 12 years old but did not get completely into it until he came to the college. He said when second semester of freshman year hit, he started going to the climbing wall every day. Phillips got into rock climbing so much that he even built his own rock climbing wall in the upstairs of his barn at home by taking big sheets of plywood and nailing them into the slope of the roof. As a college student, he said, he did not have enough money to buy holds — the grips climbers use to grab or step on — so he ended up emailing rock climbing hold companies and telling them he was starting a small gym in Aurora, New York. “Probably 10 or 12 companies sent me different assortments of climbing holds for free to test them out,” Phillips said. “So I got probably 80 or 90 holds for free, and they’re really expensive, so I was pretty pumped about that.” Phillips said being able to consistently train during the summer brought his climbing skills to a higher level. In recent years, Phillips has spent the summer months rock climbing outside, and he was a rock climbing instructor in Maine this past summer. While Phillips said he enjoys training inside, he said nothing matches climbing outside, where it comes down to the climber versus nature. Phillips said what he enjoys the most about climbing outside is being able to take in the beauty of the nature around him and working with the intricacies of different shapes of rock that can’t be recreated indoors. Ultimately, junior rock climber Peter Zibinski said, outdoor climbing cannot be replicated, but he said indoor climbing does help prepare climbers physically.
Herman-Dunphy, who is a senior wall attendant and route setter at the climbing wall in the Fitness Center, said he doesn’t believe either is superior to the other. As a route setter, he is responsible for developing the paths to the top of the wall, which vary by difficulty based on specific moves or aesthetic appeal of the climb. He can change the difficulty by using more complex holds and placing holds in certain areas to make a move harder, and different routes are marked by different colored tape. He said while he can try to create a similar climbing experience inside, it cannot ever be the same as outside. “Indoor climbing is becoming very much a sport, and routes indoor are less and less like a route outdoor in that you get a lot of geometric shapes in indoor and weird movements that would be impossible for nature to create,” Herman-Dunphy said. Aside from the physical component of rock climbing, there is also a large mental component, especially when it comes to fear, and Phillips said far too many people discount the mental aspect of climbing. Along with analyzing angles and figuring out the best way to get up the rock, Denecke said, rock climbers have to be careful and methodical and said fear does ultimately play into the climb. She said admitting and embracing the component of fear is important but that it is also essential for climbers to have confidence in their abilities and control over their emotions while in the face of danger. “It all comes down to you’re either going to get kind of hurt, you’re going to get really hurt, or you’re going to die or you’re going to be fine,” Denecke said. “You sit there for a minute like, ‘That’s f---ing terrifying,’ and then you go, ‘Well,
ALEXIS LIBERATORE/THE ITHACAN
all right, I’m going to do it because I don’t have an option.’ At that point, you have no option, so you have to put the fear away. You have to trust yourself, and you have to take a breath.” Zibinski said fear plays a big role because when climbers get scared, they tend to grip the rock too tightly, which makes the climber move less fluidly and less efficiently. He said people are under the wrong impression when they think climbers are not scared of heights. “Fear is something that is kind of ever present, and you just have to find a way to compartmentalize that and move past it,” Zibinski said. “The challenge is not letting it affect your performance. So it’s this whole interplay between fear and when to push the boundaries and when it is time to call it and be safe.” Despite the physical and mental barriers that come with rock climbing, Phillips said, climbing comes down to being able to admire the beauty of nature and acknowledging the craft of the process itself. “Being able to really push yourself to get up just a sheer face of rock, and then you get to the top, and you look out and get to appreciate what you’ve just done. The whole process is just like an art form, a way of appreciating the environment you’re in,” Phillips said. “It’s totally an exhilarating and beautiful process.”
SPORTS BE N D I T L I K E BE C K By Jonathan Beck
JENNIFER WILLIAMS/THE ITHACAN
The name rings a bell, and yes, it’s a pun. Sure, I’m not David Beckham, a two-time runner-up for FIFA World Player of the Year over the span of 20 years, but I’d like to think I could be. Isn’t that what life is all about, anyway? Dreaming big and never giving up until you’ve reached your ultimate goal and then some. That’s what I’d like to think sports embody, too. Ever since I was young, I have always enjoyed sports. West Philadelphia, I was born and raised … actually just West Chester, Pennsylvania, will do. But I grew up watching every kind of sport and rooting for all Philadelphia sports teams. Philly is in my blood, and the city’s passion and fanaticism is a part of who I am. When I would watch the games with my dad or either of my grandfathers, whom I credit and blame for my love of sports, there was just something that felt right. However, I was realistic and realized I wasn’t the most athletic child, so I knew if I wanted to pursue a career in sports, it would have to be from the sidelines. Before I knew it, I received the acceptance letter to Ithaca College and began my career at The Ithacan. Almost three years at the college are over, and I realized my zeal for sports has only grown stronger. When I began this column, I took pride in it, just like almost everything I do. I wanted to focus more of my attention on athletics here at the college. After all, The Ithacan is a student newspaper. Despite that, I wanted to somehow find a connection between the national landscape of sport and how that can be applied to this
small, private college in central New York. I wanted to cover everything from race relations to gender issues, from LGBT awareness to the politics of sport and the good, bad and ugly sides of teams. The list goes on and on. Beyond challenging the stereotypes of sports and showing that they can be for everyone, not just straight, white, athletically built dudes, I also want to challenge the culture of our society and apply it to sports. Just like if you’re down 4–2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, you’ve got runners on second and third, and your hitter who’s gone 0-for-4 that night is up to the plate: The odds may be stacked against you, but at least there’s a chance. We all have the ability to overcome the obstacles in our lives, especially sports. Sports should be a vehicle for freedom and having fun, not cause more heartache and pain. There are many life lessons when it comes to sports. I can only hope that there are more lessons for me to learn as the years come. I want others to realize how much sports can mean for society. Sports have the opportunity to impact so many people and change so many lives. Hopefully, the rest of my life is consumed by sports, for better or for worse. Although the Bend It Like Beck–era has come to a close for the year, I hope I have the opportunity to prove my worth and keep it around for a little bit longer.
Weighing the odds THE COMBINED WEIGHT OF THE UPPERCLASSMEN ON THE IS 2,935 POUNDS,
SHOT 41.7 PERCENT FROM THE FIELD, JUST SHY OF THE PERCENTAGE OF
AS A 2013
WHO HAVE ACCESS
THE SAME WEIGHT
PEOPLE IN THE WORLD
TO THE INTERNET
THE HEIGHT OF THE
STADIUM-RECORD THROW OF
53 METERS EQUALS THE HEIGHT OF THE DOMINION PUBLIC BUILDING IN HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA
EQUALS 99.5 FEET, THE APPROXIMATE HEIGHT OF THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL
4M6I.L4ES TIMES IN THE 1,000-YARD
FREESTYLE LAST YEAR EQUALS ONE HOUR AND FOUR MINUTES,
OR THE AMOUNT OF TIME IT TAKES TO DRIVE FROM ITHACA TO BINGHAMTON 143
T R E A D IN G CAREF ULLY Swimmer battles anxiety and eating disorder By Lauren Murray
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SAM FULLER
As the glare of the morning sun shines through the windows of the Athletics and Events Center’s Aquatics Pavilion, sophomore Corie Levine is in the midst of a grueling, two-hour swim practice, the first of two for the day. Her 5-foot-one, muscle-packed body glides through the water with ease and determination, each stroke bringing her closer to the wall and her goals. After practice, she heads over to one of the dining halls on campus and shares a meal with her teammates before going to her dorm room for a quick nap. Three hours later, she’ll head back over to the pool and begin the whole process over again. After a two-year battle with anxiety, depression and an eating disorder, Levine said her life is finally back to normal. Two years ago, attending swim practice for only five minutes was impossible, and being around food triggered hours of throwing up. Family problems, stress and body issues are just some of the things Levine said could set off her anxiety.
In September 2013, Levine was in the beginning of her senior year of high school, a time that is supposed to be filled with fun and best friends before splitting off for college. Instead, Levine’s year veered down an entirely different path when she stopped breathing one night while in a synagogue and was rushed to the emergency room, where it was determined that she had suffered an anxiety attack. Before leaving for synagogue, she said, she had gotten into a huge fight with her older sister, something Levine said was a common occurrence, that left her shaken up. “My sister is very judgmental sometimes. I remember I was wearing this dress, and my sister came into my room and flipped out, telling me that my dress wasn’t conservative and that I looked like a slut,” Levine said. “At times, she can seem jealous because I’m smaller and more athletic than her, so whatever I do or wear used to make her angry.”
Three weeks later, Levine was hanging out with her friends when the worst anxiety attack occurred, setting off eight months of doctor appointments, therapy sessions and psychiatric evaluations. The night of this attack began with Levine’s going out to dinner with her friends. However, just a few hours later, she was on the floor in her friend’s bathroom, with the weight of her friend’s father holding her down to control her shaking. When she wasn’t on the floor shaking uncontrollably, she said, she was alternating between throwing up and crying hysterically. “[My friends] had never seen anything like it,” Levine said. “It was horrifying, I never want to go through that again.” Before her first anxiety attack in synagogue, Levine said, she would have described herself as a normal, happy teenager.
“I learned to do what makes you happy. I always thought that if you’re skinnier, you’re faster, and more people will like you, but that’s not necessarily the case. You need to do what is best for the well-being of your body because no one else matters.” —Corie Levine
“I never used to have anxiety,” Levine said. “I was always a happy, peppy and jumpy person. People would know right away when I wasn’t OK.” Levine was an active child and participated in multiple sports growing up. Her mother put her into the pool when she was 3 years old and discovered that her daughter was a natural. In addition to swimming, she also took karate classes. Despite her love for both of these sports, she was unable to practice for three months after her initial anxiety attacks. Levine had to constantly remind herself that this was just a feeling, it would pass and that she needed to move on with her life. However, this was easier said than done. Levine also had insecurities about her body image and developed an eating disorder. “I had anxiety 24/7, and I would make myself throw up five to 10 times a day,” Levine said. “There were a lot of times when I thought to myself, ‘What am I doing? I have no purpose.’” During this time, Levine’s mother couldn’t get her to eat anything. Levine said she would force herself to throw up if she felt like she had eaten too much or if she didn’t feel good about the way she looked. “My mother would ask me what looked appetizing, and I would say, ‘Nothing,’” Levine said. “I knew I was just going to make myself throw up later, so I thought, ‘What was the point?’” Levine attended therapy sessions and was on medication until June 2014, eight months after the initial attack. However, in December 2013 things began improving for her. One night while hanging out with her older brother, they walked into an indoor arcade. While playing a game, she won a pack of green, glow-in-the-
dark stars and decided to make a game out of it: Every time she ate something and kept it down, she put a star up in her room. Levine said this was very difficult for her, but she was able to put up seven stars over the course of three months. “Keeping the food down was so hard — the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in my life,” Levine said. “But I got to put up those stars that are still in my room and are a good reminder of how far I have come.” After that night at the arcade with her brother, Levine said, she forced herself to return to karate and swimming to regain a sense of normalcy. “My sensei told me that he did not care. I was coming, and I was training with him,” Levine said. “He was able to pinpoint exactly what I needed and acted as a coach to help me get through this time.” Getting back into the pool was a little bit more difficult, but she took it day by day. The first day, she said she drove to the pool. Then the next day, she got into the water for 10 minutes, slowly increasing the amount of time until she was able to return to a full practice schedule. “I told myself if I just drove to practice, that’s a start. I told myself that if I can stay for 30 minutes, I can make it to 45. But if I’ve already done 45, I should be able to do an hour,” Levine said. “It became a game I would play with myself.” For some students, coming to college can increase their anxiety. For Levine, however, her home is one of her trigger points, filled with bad memories and reminders of the difficulties she faced, so she said coming to college was easier than she thought it would be, especially because her roommate, sophomore Alyssa Sbarro, was there to help her with the transition and keep her on track. “My roommate here was a great helper,” Levine said. “She used to follow me into the bathroom and yell and scream at me to stop if I was throwing up.” Sbarro has also had a history of anxiety and is currently on medication to control it, so she said she knows what to watch out for and how to help Levine. “We help each other with anxiety because I know what it’s like,” Sbarro said. “The main thing that helped her was the fact that she could be herself with me.” Now, 2 1/2 years after her first anxiety attack, Levine is almost completely over the disorder that plagued her senior year of high school. Levine is now not only a member of the swim team, but also of Pulse, one of the college’s hip-hop teams. “Swimming is my escape from the world,” she said. “But dance is my escape from swimming when it becomes too stressful.” Her teammate sophomore Makenzie Karr admires Levine and her dedication to swimming. “Corie works extremely hard during practice,” Karr said. “She is one of the most caring people I know, and it’s obvious that she cares tremendously for both swimming and our team.” Levine said she knows this is something she will struggle with for the rest of her life but feels she has the tools now to help her deal with it. “I learned to do what makes you happy,” Levine said. “I always thought that if you’re skinnier, you’re faster, and more people will like you, but that’s not necessarily the case. You need to do what is best for the well-being of your body because no one else matters.”
Senior battles back from Tommy John surgery By Lauren Murray
FILE PHOTO/THE ITHACAN
One of the most highly regarded and notable Major League Baseball pitchers in the 1960s up until 1974 was Tommy John. Although he pitched until he retired after the 1989 season, John is most recognized and remembered now for something he shares in common with Bombers fifth-year starting pitcher John Prendergast. John and Prendergast both received what is now known as Tommy John surgery. John missed the entire 1975 season due to ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery. He was the first to undergo this procedure, and many pitchers at all levels of competition have also received the same treatment. Prendergast required the surgery on his right elbow, which is his pitching arm, after the first game he pitched for the Bombers in the 2015 season, his senior year. He underwent Tommy John surgery April 9, 2015, approximately one month after the injury occurred. Tommy John surgery has negatively impacted careers and is feared among most pitchers in the game. The surgery requires a long recovery time, taking most pitchers about a year to return to
full strength. However, without the surgery, Prendergast would not have been able to continue pitching and would have had limited arm mobility. In the MLB alone, a record 36 pitchers in 2012 underwent the procedure. Prendergast said he questioned whether or not he would return to the pitcher’s mound since it was his fourth year as an undergraduate. Luckily for Prendergast, he remained enrolled at Ithaca College for a fifth year to pursue his master’s in business administration. He said he was not about to let his athletic career end due to a blown elbow. “I was just thinking about my future and if I could figure out a way to play for Ithaca,” Prendergast said. “I knew they had an MBA program, but I didn’t know much about it. After I got hurt, I weighed all my options, and that was the first thing I looked into.” Since he only pitched one inning in the 2015 season, he was able to use his final year of NCAA eligibility in the following season. In his freshman season, he led the Bombers in both innings pitched and strikeouts. His performance that year earned him the Empire 8 and Eastern College Athletic Conference Upstate New York Rookie of the Year honors. Prendergast said his career highlight was during his sophomore season when the Bombers went to the Division III World Series. The Blue and Gold had a record-setting season, going 41–8, and lost in the semifinals in 13 innings 5–4. Prendergast was the starting pitcher that game. He worked eight innings and gave up three runs, of which only two were earned. As a junior, he was named Empire 8 and ECAC Upstate Pitcher of the Year. Prendergast was able to land on the D3Baseball.com Preseason All-America Second Team, D3Baseball. com All-America Third Team, D3Baseball.com First Team All– New York Region and American Baseball Coaches Association/ Rawlings First Team All–New York Region. This season, Prendergast has pitched two innings in only one game against Claremont Mckenna College, Harvey Mudd College and Scripps College, which together form the Stags and Athens baseball team, March 15. Although Prendergast is still not a part of the starting rotation, head coach George Valesente said he hopes to add him to that rotation by midseason. Immediately after surgery, Prendergast was put in a cast, followed by a brace that restricted movement. As recovery time went on, he said, his doctors and trainers gave him more and more leeway with the brace until he reached full extension. During Tommy John surgery, part of the procedure is performed by using a tendon graft to replace the UCL. Doctors normally take the palmaris tendon, located in the forearm, from the patient. Prendergast is one of the few people who does not have a palmaris tendon, so his tendon was taken from an alternate option: his knee. For the first stage of recovery, Prendergast said, he spent the majority of his time lying down to rest both body parts operated on.
“The first two weeks are rough,” Prendergast said. “You can’t walk, and you can’t use your right arm.” The pain from the minor procedure done on his knee went away after roughly two weeks. As for his elbow, he said, as physical therapy progressed, his arm felt better. Prendergast said he is almost back at full strength and that the recovery process could overall take up to a year. “It takes a while because the first five months are just like doing actual rehab with your arm,” Prendergast said. “And then probably in October, I started throwing a baseball again, and you just kind of slowly add more pitches incrementally and kind of do a throwing program.” Despite the loss of Prendergast, the Bombers were still able to win the Empire 8 Conference and end the season with a 20–14 record. However, Valesente said it was devastating to lose their No. 1 pitcher for that season. “It really set us back considerably,” Valesente said. “We did recover, but not as well as we would have liked.” Senior pitcher Brandon Diorio said it was hard to see a dominant pitcher get seriously injured beginning his initial final season. “After watching him dominate for the previous two years, it was tough to watch him go down with his injury in the first game,” Diorio said. Valesente said Prendergast stands a chance to be the wins leader in pitching for Bombers baseball. “He’s won 27 games in three years, which averages to nine wins a year, which is outstanding,” Valesente said. “He’s been a mainstay ever since he came in as a freshman and has continued to be a tremendous pitcher at our level.” When recruiting Prendergast, Valesente said, his competitiveness and mental toughness strongly stood out. “He was very competitive, and he’s a bulldog on the mound,” Valesente said. “He had a presence about him that carried him very well. He had the ability to know how to pitch. He wasn’t just
FILE PHOTO/THE ITHACAN
someone who winds up and throws the ball and hopes that it goes in a certain area. He has a specific idea and a plan when he was pitching and approached it that way, so that was very impressive.” Although the team lost one of its starting pitchers, Diorio said, it allowed for other pitchers to step up into a larger role. “It’s almost impossible to replace somebody who had nearly 30 wins in his first three seasons, but we had guys like Andrew Sanders who stepped up into the ace position and threw great all year,” Diorio said. “We’re all excited to see John back in action this season.” Until Prendergast is fully recovered from battling Tommy John surgery, Valesente said, he will put him in a few games for an inning or two and move from there. “It’s just a matter of how he feels,” Valesente said. “It’s sort of a day-by-day kind of thing. Actually, I rely mostly on what he says and how he says it and what he believes is good for him.”
ILLUSTRATION BY ADRIANA DEL GROSSO
LOOKING AHEAD TOM ROCHON PLANS FOR FINAL MONTHS AT THE COLLEGE By Sophia Tulp
YANA MAZURKEVICH/THE ITHACAN
The Ithaca College leadership narrowed its areas of focus for the last months of President Tom Rochon’s tenure. The college will focus on enhancing academics, strengthening engagement and growing the financial health of the college, while also continuing work on shared governance and diversity and inclusion. “There are overarching goals that have been very consistent from year to year … so the discussion in a given year is really about what specific things are we going to do in those overarching, big-picture frameworks,” Rochon said. Specific initiatives that will be worked on in those three areas include a co-curricular transcript to detail students’ involvement outside of the classroom at the college; raising the donor-base of alumni at the college; continuing with the strategic sourcing initiatives, which means finding price-efficient sources for goods and services; and developing programs that could generate sources of revenue outside of tuition. The goals were developed through collaboration with the vice presidents, deans and the Ithaca College Board of Trustees. To plan for Rochon’s final year, the groups used the same process but expedited it to reflect the given timeline. However, Rochon said not all initiatives have hard deadlines yet. Rochon said a main point of discussion was which goals should be set aside to give the new president an opportunity to re-evaluate them and maybe move forward with a fresh perspective. The initiatives that will no longer be looked at by current leadership are the China Center and the workforce analysis program. The China Center was a proposed Ithaca College center in Shanghai, China, which Rochon said in 2013 would include classes and internships. The workforce analysis program was an initiative to cut staff positions, beginning in August 2013. Fifty-nine staff positions have been cut in 28 departments since it began. At the Jan. 21 All-College Meeting, Nancy Pringle, senior vice president and general counsel for the Division of Human and Legal Resources, announced the remaining position lines would no longer include positions that are currently filled. Pringle could not be reached for
further clarification on the numbers. To continue work on the student academic experience at the college, the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs has been working on a co-curricular transcript, which is expected to be deployed in May 2016, said Michele Lenhart, director of student leadership and involvement for OSEMA. She said the transcript will be a resource for students to keep track of volunteer experience, student employment and groups they are members of. Rochon said increasing the level of engagement in alumni, both financially and in participation with students, is important. Similarly, Chris Biehn, vice president for Institutional Advancement and Communication, said the main area the college hopes to increase engagement in is the alumni donor base due to a decline in alumni donations in the past few years. Gerald Hector, vice president for finance and administration, said he is working on a number of initiatives to help minimize the effects of the decreasing “net tuition” gain — the revenue from tuition leftover for spending. According to the 2016–17 budget, the rate of growth of the college’s expenses is outpacing tuition, the largest source of revenue. Additionally, the college is looking into other ways to generate revenue. Hector said the college is looking into creating an urban campus, possibly situated in New York City, to see if there is enough interest to generate revenue. In Fall 2015, the college set a timeline for addressing diversity and campus climate. Roger Richardson, associate provost for diversity, inclusion and engagement and interim chief diversity officer, said it is not realistic for all deadlines to be met. Regarding how these goals will be evaluated by the next president at the end of Rochon’s tenure, Rochon said different priorities could be set by new leadership. “Given that I now have a timeline of 17 months, we need to be respectful of the next president and the conversations that person will have with the board,” Rochon said. “The timing is different, but in a way, the process was the same and the big picture message.”
KEVIN TOAL/THE ITHACAN
YEAR IN REVIEW 2015-2016