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Practical joke goes wrong, causes hall evacuation

Unknown white powder found in outgoing mail was cornstarch by Lauren Horsch


A suspicious white powder found in the outgoing mail of Herriott Hall on Tuesday was nothing more than cornstarch. A first-year student came forward during the incident to admit that he

was the one who had put the envelope in the mail. He told officials that he was sending it as a prank to his friend at another college. The student’s name has not been released, but he will have to pay for the deployment of the Des Moines Fire Department’s hazardous materials team. At 9:26 a.m., the front desk receptionist at Herriott called Drake Secu-

rity saying a white powder had fallen out of a piece of outgoing mail. Security Supervisor Mark Risvold and Security Specialist Dustin Runge responded to the call shortly thereafter. “We responded, (and) we did take a quick look at it (the envelope),” Risvold said. “We’re not trained experts, so we didn’t know what the substance JOEY GALE | photo editor

DES MOINES FIRE DEPARTMENT PERSONNEL investigate suspicious mail being sent by a Drake student. The contents were revealed to be harmless household cornstarch.

was, and there was not a return address on the envelope.” He said the powder and the lack of a return address prompted him to call the police department. At that time, he also made the decision to pull the fire alarm to evacuate the building. Risvold said the decision to pull the fire alarm was made because it was the easiest way to evacuate the building. Within five to 10 minutes, Risvold said the fire department was on its way. The hazardous materials unit was deployed to the residence hall at 9:44 a.m. Shortly after 10 a.m., the team went in to determine what the powder was. The desk worker, Mindy Davis, was required to stand away from everyone else just in case there had been a reaction to the white powder. The student’s admission of responsibility saved “hours” of time, Risvold said. “Because it was an envelope that had not been mailed out yet, by law they (police officials) have to get a warrant to get in there and open it,” he said. Because security is not formally trained in hazardous materials besides just quick classes, Risvold said that he believes that his crew handled the situation the best they could. “It’s not our job to take a chance with students,” he said. The case has been handed over to the U.S. Postal Service for investigation. No one has been arrested, and

no charges have been filled. At the time of publication, the investigator for this case could not be reached for comment. Monday night chase ends on Drake’s Campus The incident at Herriott Hall came just one day after a car chase damaged cars on Drake’s campus and turned into a foot chase in Drake Stadium. Des Moines Police began chasing a car that was being operated without permission. Police Officer Brady Carney followed the car into the Drake neighborhood. The Ford Expedition eventually hit a light pole and six parked cars near 27th and Clark Streets near the Bell Center. The driver of the car fled, jumped two chain-link fences and entered Drake stadium. He left behind two female passengers, according to the police report. The police report said that one passenger stated that she did not know the driver, but said his name was “Robert.” Drake Security saw the suspect running in the stadium and made contact with Des Moines Police who were already on scene. The suspect was taken into custody near the press box of the stadium. Police arrested Michael Speech, 18. He faces numerous charges including eluding police and theft. Passenger Kristal Bess, 18, was charged with interference.

Student gallery looks to cross boundaries between schools by Ethan Clevenger

News Editor

As a college student, one probably noticed that a high school curriculum encompassed many subjects every semester, but a college schedule is much more focused. Business students focus on business classes while art students focus on art classes, and for many, this can be drab. Fortunately, Drake offers a liberal degree, encouraging students to branch out during their time here. In an attempt to really start breaking scholastic barriers, several business and art students have come together to bring a gala to Aliber Hall. “(Senior) Quint Hall came to me with the idea of sprucing up the walls of Aliber,” said senior Stephanie Spitz, president of Drake’s Visual Arts Association. “He thought that a collaboration between the business school and department of art & design would encourage more students to get involved with each other.” Pretty soon, a team was assembled to put on the show, including Spitz, Hall, Randall Blum, assistant dean of the College of Business and Public Administration, and Benjamin Gardner, assistant professor of art and design.

Students submitted proposals to be judged by the team. The team sifted through the submissions and decided on 12 pieces from seven students to be displayed in what Spitz describes as “a great opportunity for art students to show their work while exposing business students and faculty to fresh artwork.” Stereotypically, it would be easy to say that the business school would be less likely to embrace the arts, but Spitz said she believes there’s something for everyone. “I challenge everyone to take a second to really experience the pieces in person,” she said. “They aren’t just making the walls a little less boring. They have something to say, and I believe that Drake is a great audience.” She also said that she believes the show will “enable non-art students to learn from and experience art.” This was also a goal of senior Megan Pierce-Cramer, one of the artists whose work was selected. “I wanted to show (my work) in this particular space because I think having a gallery space in a building that isn’t (the Harmon Fine Arts Center) is extremely important in terms of unifying our campus,” she said. Pierce-Cramer also said that she hopes to dispel some of the stereo-

types about art that would typically drive someone outside the field. “I think most non-art majors feel art is large abstract paintings or traditional nude figure drawings,” she said, “but there is a wide variety of mediums and an external source of images and styles. And I hope people maybe walk away with a new and improved understanding or appreciation of art.” Attendees will also get a chance to mingle with the artists, just in case they aren’t quite catching the piece’s drift. Another artist is senior Nora Kreml, who has three pieces on display at the show. “I have a strong attraction to the ideas of mapping, history and international perceptions throughout time, and (I) attempt to bring these ideas into my work,” Kreml said. Kreml entered her work in part because of the free publicity, citing expensive entry fees for shows in the real world. But she does have another, more enlightening goal. “What I hope people can get out of my work is different perspectives of known preconceptions,” she said. “All of my work references something


MEGAN PIERCE-CRAMER’S WORK “UNTITLED” will be featured at the Aliber Student Gallery event Feb. 24.


Drake welcomes society for bilingual students by Kathryn Kriss

Staff Writer

A new chapter of Alpha Mu Gamma, the foreign language honors society, was recently established at Drake University. Thanks to the special interest of a group of students and an advisor, the vote to create the new honors society has passed with flying colors. The purpose of the recently founded group is to provide interested students with an opportunity to interact in their chosen language. It doesn’t matter what language the student is taking or whether he or she is a native English speaker or international student. The group exists solely as a place for students to get recognized for their foreign language achievements. The creation of Alpha Mu Gamma was more of a grass roots campaign than anything. Christen Bain,

Drake’s administrative assistant of world languages and cultures, said that Drake needed a society of some sort where students of all languages could come together to “interact, learn more about other languages and be engaged with the community.” She conducted a brief survey and discovered that students here were interested in being a part of that sort of organization, as well as the leadership positions it offered. In fact, it was because of the leadership of these ambitious students that the club exists at all. Following the survey, the group of interested students found an advisor and then worked with the Student Life Committee of Student Senate to go about founding their new society. “As I understand, the process involved filling out the online application with the name and purpose of the group, the list of student leaders and advisor, and submitting a constitution,” Bain said. “After meeting with a Student Senate committee


and making a few suggested changes to the constitution, the group was brought up for a vote before Student Senate as a whole and was approved.” Now that Alpha Mu Gamma has been officially approved, some students are curious what the group will do next. The list of things the students would like to accomplish with their society includes everything from language fairs to service learning in the community to bringing in speakers to talk about how they use language in the workplace. Bain said that she is proud of how the students focused on practicing their languages and on using them in the community. The students also hope to be advocates for study abroad experiences, strongly believing in the benefits of a global education. “They’re looking forward to hosting internationally focused events and collaborating with other groups,” Bain said. So why does Drake need a foreign language honors society when

it already has numerous multicultural groups like La Fuerza Latina and the South Asia Student Association? While the current multicultural groups on campus are about celebrating different languages and cultures, there had really been no group that celebrates achievement and practice of different languages. Because Alpha Mu Gamma is not limited to one language or cultural background, it is able to emphasize diversity and academics at the same time. Students interested in joining need to have a strong academic background — the society requires an ‘A’ in two foreign language classes or two English classes for non-native speakers and a ‘B’ average in all other coursework. It’s rigorous, prestigious and only for students who take his or her language seriously and want to commit to practicing it in everyday life. Contact Taylor Harris, the president of Alpha Mu Gamma, if you’re interested in applying.








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