RISING VOICES Before there were safety bulletins, there was silence page 27 by Emily Dattilo
Volume V | Fall 2019
Volume V | Fall 2019 Editor in Chief Maya Fenter Art Director Alissa Martin Editorial Staff Chloe Murdock, Sam Cioffi Design Staff Connor Wells, Min Kim, Sadie VanWie, Chloe Whaley, Courtney Dunning Photographers Jugal Jain, Bo Bruek
cover photo by Bo Brueck
Business Manager Beatrice Newberry Head of Student Media Samantha Brunn Faculty Advisor James Tobin Business Advisor Fred Reeder Distributor WDJ Inc. - Bill Dedden
PROSE Maya Fenter
Letter from the Editor
I got a tattoo for class
Not Like the Movies
Behind the Counter
My 20th orbit around the sun
Effort is Everything
Griefâ€™s Many Faces
THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
photo by Jugal Jain
Dear reader, It’s weird being a senior and trying to wrap your head around the fact that four years passed so quickly. It’s even more weird when you apply to graduate, and find that the process ends in just a few clicks. Submitting this magazine to the printer is similar — hours upon hours of work culminate in the sending of just one email. I don’t quite know what I was expecting — not confetti or balloons, but something that felt a bit more significant to mark my final year here at Miami and my final issue as Editor in Chief of this publication. My time here has been defined by some of my best and worst memories. I’ve grown into myself and found my home in this publication, which didn’t even exist when I came here as a first-year. This issue is similarly full of defining moments. In our cover story, you’ll meet Susan Fleming, a Miami alumna who was sexually assaulted during the fall of her senior year. She graduated in 1969, a time before conversations around sexual assault had begun. You’ll read about how Enrico Blasi, Miami’s former hockey coach, created “The Brotherhood,” then had to leave it behind. There are stories about loss and the process of grieving — several times over and from miles away. There’s a story about distance-defying love. And there’s a story about the tumultuous time that is your 20th year of life. You’ll get a look at two of Oxford’s Chineserestaurant owners and how they built their businesses, and a commentary about how media defines our
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perception of female journalists (most of the time, it’s not flattering). And of course, this collection of stories about lifechanging moments wouldn’t be complete without a writer’s account of getting his first tattoo. As always, none of this would be possible without a whole cast of people. Thank you to the writers for sharing pieces of themselves and of others. I think the amount of courage it takes to write about others or yourself often goes unrecognized, so here I am, recognizing it. Our Art Director, Alissa Martin, has put together another beautiful issue with the help of the design team, illustrators and photographers. I’m still so grateful that you joined our team back in the spring. Thank you to The Miami Student Media Editor in Chief Samantha Brunn and Managing Editor Ceili Doyle for being the kick-ass leaders of the newsroom, as well as Faculty Advisor Jim Tobin for his guidance, Business Advisor Fred Reeder for making sure we get paid (among other things, probably) and Business Manager Bea Newberry for dealing with things outside of my skill set (aka business). I’m thankful for Chloe and Sam, my fellow editorial board members, for all of your help — especially with brainstorming titles for all of the stories — and for continuing the magazine’s legacy after I graduate. I’ll still be around for one more semester (you two can’t get rid of me just yet!), but I’m going to take this opportunity to preemptively wish both of you luck with carrying this publication forward. I have the utmost faith that you’ll do great things with it. Also, I need to shout out my predecessor, Megan Zahneis, for helping with the ever-important crossword puzzle. And finally, thank you, reader. Thank you for taking the time to appreciate all of the work and people of this publication. We hope you enjoy number five.
Maya Fenter Editor in Chief
THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
Modern love knows no boundaries
by Abby Bammerlin 7 THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
am’s hands were sweating as the car came to a stop. She caught sight of her girlfriend Jordan’s platinum blonde hair and ripped open the car door. They ran to one another and embraced. “You’re taller than I thought you’d be,” Sam whispered. After calling and texting for about a year and a half and dating long-distance for the past nine months, Miami University first-year Helena “Sam” Flake and Lotte “Jordan” Baardsen were finally able to meet in person when Sam traveled to Jordan’s home in Sauda, Norway in June 2018. “I was just full of nervousness and excitement,” Jordan said. “And then we ran to each other and we just hugged and it was just the best hug ever.” They first met online when Jordan commissioned an art piece from Sam in November 2016. Sam, an artist who creates costumes and drawings, painted famous Norwegion singers and landscapes. As she grew older, Sam started accepting commissions from all around the world. After four years, she continues to sell her custom costumes on platforms like Instagram. A mutual friend, Kira Strøm, who previously commissioned a piece from Sam, connected Sam to Jordan when Jordan was searching for a costume creator. After asking for the address to ship the piece, Sam discovered that her client lived in Norway. “I had never spoken to someone native to Norway,” Sam said. “I was so entranced by it.” Sam has been “obsessed” with Norway almost her entire life. After learning her great-grandmother was born there, she spent a lot of time learning about Norwegian culture. In seventh grade, she committed to learning the language. “You don’t really hear about [Norway] a lot,” Sam said. “A lot of people say, ‘Oh I’m from Germany,’ and ‘I’m from England,’ but you don’t hear about Norway. So I thought it was really cool.” Sam’s parents, Lisa and John Flake, greatly value family tradition and history. Her family has adopted some of the traditions of her grandparents, such as cooking lefse, a Norwegian dessert. Sam immediately started asking Jordan about Norway’s culture. Then they talked about Sam’s art and their music interests, and began to feel a deeper connection. Even after Sam shipped Jordan’s costume, they continued texting everyday and calling often. “In the back of my mind, I was thinking ‘I really want to date this person, but I also really don’t, because she’s so far away,’” Sam said. “So I tried to stay away for quite a while.” photo contributed by Sam Flake
Sam had previously been in a long-distance relationship with a girl in Wisconsin, about a nine-hour drive from Sam’s home in Lebanon, Ohio. After they broke up, Sam decided to take a break from relationships. “I was like, ‘You know what?’” Sam said, “I’m not doing long distance again. This sucks.” Jordan said neither one of them wanted to ask the other out, but they both knew they had feelings for one another. They had been texting and calling almost everyday, sending each other their favorite cat posts on Instagram and Facetiming whenever possible. After about six months of flirting, Sam finally
“You’re taller than I thought you’d be.”
asked Jordan to be her girlfriend. They began dating in October 2017. Sam’s parents were a little nervous about her dating online, but because of Sam’s previous relationship, they were a little familiar with long-distance relationships. However, Sam’s mom, says they still worried about how Jordan and Sam’s in-person relationship would go. That Christmas, Sam’s parents surprised her with the trip to Norway. At the news, Sam began to cry, thanking her parents over and over. Sam and Jordan’s parents met over Skype to discuss the details of the trip. Her parents planned to leave Sam with Jordan for about a month, while they continued their vacation and traveled home separately. In June, Sam and her parents flew to Norway and spent a few days sight-seeing before driving to Jordan’s home. When Sam’s family arrived, Sam and Jordan embraced while Lisa met Jordan’s grandmother, Brit Baardsen. Brit smiled between tears and told Lisa how happy she was. She knew
how much meeting Sam meant to Jordan. “It’s at that moment I think kind of John and I both knew that [Sam] was going to be well taken care of,” Lisa said. “[Jordan’s] family was really supportive and very excited about [Sam] coming over there and being part of their family.” Jordan and her family took Sam to their lakehouse on an island called Ottøy. Sam and Jordan fished, went swimming and took the family boat out. One of Sam’s favorite memories was in the middle of her trip. The two decided to take the boat out to watch the sunset. The air was cool over the still water. Sam packed blankets and coats onto the boat as Jordan called her dog, Doffen, to join them. Surrounded by the Norwegian Sea, they held hands while music played softly. They stayed out until long after the sun went down. They spent a month together at Jordan’s lakehouse. Sam said she felt like she could have spent a year there. But eventually, she had to go home. On the bus ride to the airport, Sam and Jordan
“We trust each other because that’s the only thing we have.”
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clutched hands. As they entered the airport, Sam tried not to cry. They had made plans to see each other in March, but that was eight months away. “As soon as I dropped my bags off, and we went right outside the security, I pretty much broke down,” Sam said. Just over a year after Sam’s trip to Norway, in July 2019, Jordan came to the United States to go on a month-long road trip with Sam. They lived out of Sam’s truck as they travelled west to visit places like Yellowstone National Park and Grand Tetons National Park. Sam and Jordan used the trip to see if they could live together as a couple. While on the road, Sam doodled the head of a cat while Jordan drove. Later Jordan drew the body. When they arrived in Oregon, they had the drawings tattooed onto their arms. Despite the trips they’ve taken together, Jordan said the distance is harder on both of them the longer they are together. “I actually know what it’s like being there with her, by her side,” Jordan said. “At first, it wasn’t like
I missed that feeling, because I didn’t know what that was like.” The couple still texts everyday and call each other at least once a week, trying to close the thousands of miles that separate them. “We trust each other because that’s the only thing we have,” Jordan said. Jordan plans to return to the United States in December 2019 and stay through Christmas. Sam will fly back to Norway with her in January and remain there until the spring semester begins. “The thing about long distance relationships,” Jordan said, “is it’s hard when you’re away, but the feeling when you’re together, you just don’t ever forget that feeling. You never grow tired of the person you’re actually with. The only thing you grow tired of is the distance.”
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I got a tattoo for class. What have you done today? by Ben Deeter illustrations by Chloe Whaley & Connor Wells
’d known for a long time that I wanted a tattoo. What I didn’t know was that I’d wake up one morning thinking, “I’m getting a tattoo today.” Each time someone asked whether I’d get one, I always answered with some variation of “Yeah, probably.” I didn’t, and still don’t, see tattoos as that big of a deal. They’re a form of personal and artistic expression. My stepmother Hayley and stepsister Amanda both have tattoos, which reinforced the idea that tattoos are a positive thing. I figured by 25, I would have one, maybe two tattoos that held a great deal of personal significance. But that wouldn’t happen for at least another few years. “Save your money,” my mom would tell me. “You
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don’t need to be spending money on that while you’re still in college.” Normally, I would have followed my mom’s advice. But not this time. I took a full 15 credit hours of class while in Washington, D.C. this past spring, and we spent two of those hours on an “ethnographic research” project. Our professor told us we would have to find a community in the city, embed ourselves in it for 10 days and then write about it. Due to my prior affinity for tattoos, it was easy for me to pitch tattoo shops as my “community.” The nation’s gilded capital city exudes professionalism, and tattoos still have a stigma. I wanted to see where those two worlds intersected. There was just one problem: None of the shops
I researched would let me come in and talk to anyone, or even watch someone get a tattoo. Fatty, the owner of the shop I was going to, had told me, “We don’t usually do requests like this,” when I asked to come in and watch someone get a tattoo. I had two options: change my research topic or get a damn tattoo myself. How could they turn an interview down if I was the one with a needle in my arm? So there I was. Twenty-one years old, still in college, with a pending withdrawal of $150 on my bank account, walking with a crew of three friends to get ink permanently drilled into my left arm. They said encouraging things, but I tuned most of it out. I was about to get a tattoo on a whim after all. It felt strange knowing all this information at the same time, but none of it held me back. Sure, I had the ever-slight doubt in my mind, “Am I going to regret this?” The answer was apparently no, because I continued putting one foot in front of the other, wading through fresh rain puddles on the way to Fatty’s Tattoos and Piercings. I walked in the door and up six flights of stairs to the shop. To be early is to be on time, so naturally, I took a seat in the lobby at 1:50 p.m. with my friends for my appointment 10 minutes later. Ten minutes turned into 15 and 15 to 20, until finally my artist, Hannah, came out of her office to put the finishing touches on the design she’d come up with. I gave a few quick suggestions for changes, which she accommodated since it’s going on my arm. Forever. After filling out some quick paperwork and paying, Hannah led me to the tattooing room. It had a clinical quality to it, much like an exam room in a doctor’s or dentist’s office. Nothing but blank white walls with an exam chair in the middle. Next to the big chair was a smaller chair for Hannah and a small table with a smorgasbord of items, including two black ink wells, a razor and the needle. Needles plural, actually. There were several of them. She took the razor and began shaving and rubbing my arm with rubbing alcohol to ensure a clean surface for the tattoo. She then took a stencil of the design and placed it on my arm. At this point, I was so out of it that I just nodded along to all the safety information she told me for the procedure. It’s actually happening. The stencil is on my arm. She’s firing up the tattoo machine and dipping it into the dark, plastic ink well before her. No turning back now. The needles entered my skin and for a moment, I forgot I was there to interview my artist as much as I was there to get a tattoo. It felt as though a cat was scratching me in one brutal, continuous tear.
“If I move too slowly, when I’m tattooing to you, I could cut you open.”
What a lovely image.
photo contributed by Ben Deeter THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
I carefully reached into my right pocket so as not to move my other arm while a sharp needle was inside it. I unlocked my phone and began recording. I had a list of questions in my head, but that part of my brain was a little preoccupied with pain. My questions started along the lines of how often she has tattoo virgins as clients, whether she has tattooed any politicians or Capitol Hill staffers and whether she thought there was still a stigma around tattoos. Her answers were pretty often, no politicians but a few aides, and yes, but not as much as there used to be. I heard these at the time, but I didn’t fully process them. I was busy digging my middle fingernail into my thumb to try to redirect my focus from
there’s a lot of finesse that goes into it.” After hearing that spiel, I settle in a little bit and thank the Lord above that my artist has that “finesse that goes into it.” The remaining half hour of tattooing was peppered with maybe three more questions. The rest of that time was me trying to distract myself from the pain by any means necessary. I dug my nails into
“If you don’t get a fucking A on this project, I swear I’ll throw something.” the pain in my arm. “How ya doing, sweetie?” she asked at this point. “I mean the pain is … there,” I said, holding back a wince. “I’m not like dying or like ‘Let’s stop,’ but it hurts. It HURTS.” The one story that grabbed my full attention came after I asked, “What is something that the average person doesn’t know about your profession that they probably should?” “It’s not just sticking someone with a needle,” she said. “There’s a lot of science that goes into it. It’s different for everybody, but you’ve got the rate of speed that your machine is running at the rate at which your hand is moving and how deep the needle needs to go into the skin.” At this point, I imagined Hannah and other artists sitting in a lecture hall taking a seminar entitled “Tattooing 101: The Science of Tattoos” and I chuckle in my head. A real chuckle might have some unwanted side effects. “If I move too slowly when I’m tattooing you, I could cut you open,” she continued. What a lovely image. “But if I move too fast, my ink doesn’t necessarily go in,” she said. “If I don’t push too hard, the ink doesn’t necessarily go in. If I don’t push hard enough, that ink won’t go in at all. If I push too hard, I can scar you and I can hit the subcutaneous fat level. So
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my thumb, I talked to my friends who were standing in the doorway, I asked my artist about her personal life. Nearly an hour after I stepped into the shop and 40 minutes after the needle first pierced my skin, Hannah wiped down my arm for the final time to reveal the swollen finished product: the phrase “I try my best” in black paint brush lettering with a fountain pen tip at the end. I have never been, and still am not the best at taking compliments. I’ve always feared them going to my head. Once I got to Miami, “I try my best” became my default response to acknowledge the compliment without accepting it fully. Having this mantra on my body is a reminder both to stay humble and to do just what it says: try my best. The pen tip is easily the most “romantic” part of it, as it signifies that the phrase is “still being written.” It’s a sentiment that’s never finished. After looking at this new part of me, I stood up, holding my arm carefully, and got all the aftercare creams and instructions I needed. And as I walked back into the brisk February air, one of my friends looked me right in the eye. “If you don’t get a fucking A on this project, I swear I’ll throw something.”
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Disconnected Experiencing loss from miles away and generations apart by Chloe Murdock illustrations by Alissa Martin
harles Mullenix noticed he had missed calls just as his phone died. From his dad. From his mom. From his girlfriend, Grace Hiddleston, who was also a Miami senior at the time. He didn’t think much of it. It was just a regular Thursday last fall, and he was on his way to his apartment after class. He put his dead phone away and kept walking. Once he got home, he grabbed a garbage bag full of sparring gear and trekked to a gym several streets away from his apartment. He was the president of the Miami University Martial Arts Club, but he was going to be late to practice. Charging his phone could wait. Probably. Charles lugged the gear through the entrance of the gym. Through the glass window of the door, he could see Grace standing inside. He knew something was wrong. Grace wasn’t in the club, yet there she was. “Where has your phone been?” Grace said. “I haven’t heard anything from you.” “Oh, it’s dead,” Charles said. “We have to go to the hospital,” Grace said. “We
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need to go right now.” He thought of his grandma, Ann Reitz. It’s probably Nan. He dropped the gear. *** As usual, Rachel Martin had a set schedule for the day. As a junior studying marketing and entrepreneurship, she schedules every minute of her life on campus in advance. On what would have been a normal Tuesday last February, Rachel was on an elliptical at Miami’s recreation center. There was finance homework to do and a horse waiting to be mounted at her equestrian class after she finished her workout. She didn’t plan for her dad, Lee, to call her. They usually talked two times each day to check in, but not while she was pumping handles back and forth on an exercise machine. It was about Rachel’s grandpa, Loren Jahn. Her grandpa had an abdominal aortic aneurysm that doctors said would eventually burst, but they didn’t know when it would happen. Lee called to tell Ra-
“Can I call you back? I need a minute.” ...
She cried into her hands.
chel that “when” was now. Her grandpa was in the hospital, and that Tuesday would be his last. A month later, Rachel was alone in her dorm room when Lee called her around 7 p.m.— again, unexpectedly. It was about Rachel’s grandma and Grandpa Loren’s wife, Jane Jahn. She had been bedridden after her husband died. Stopped eating. Stopped responding. On this day, she didn’t open her eyes. “Can I call you back?” Rachel said. “I need a minute.” She cried into her hands. Then she wiped her tears away and picked up the phone. *** There are more grandparents than ever who are living longer than ever, which means they’re likely to die when their grandchildren are already adults. According to Dr. Kimberly Ogle, a Miami gerontology professor who was previously a funeral home director, the aging baby boomer generation will
need a 30 percent increase in caregivers. People in past generations generally followed the same blueprint for life: get a job, live on your own, get married, have kids, retire and die. But millennials, or people who were born between 1981 and 1996, are delaying or even erasing traditional markers of adulthood, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2018, 15 percent of adults between 25 and 37 years old still lived with their parents. This is double the percentage of when baby boomers and the silent generation were the same age, but who are now respectively between 55 to 73 years old and 74 to 91 years old. Millenials are also putting off marriage. In 1960, most people married in their early 20s. Rachel’s grandparents, who were both born in 1925 and grew up together, fit this trend, and so d0 Charles’ grandparents. In 2016, men are marrying closer to the age of 30 while women are marrying at 27. Some are not marrying at all. In 1960, one in 10 U.S. adults over 25 years old had never been married. In 2012, that ratio widened to one in five adults. Neither Rachel or Charles expect to get marTHE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
ried, though Charles and his girlfriend Grace are still in a serious relationship. And fewer women are having children. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that the U.S. birth rate was 16 percent below what it would take to replace the population. Both Rachel and Charles say they may want kids in the future, but they are more focused on their careers right now. The same statistics are still unknown for Generation Z because its members, including Charles and Rachel, are currently between 7 and 22 years old. But Gen Z-ers often share the same social views as millenials and are likely to follow similar trends. The new life plans are that there are no plans. The two generations are tearing up the blueprint, or at the very least putting off traditional milestones of adulthood. But ready or not, no one can delay the death of a loved one. Caring and grieving for grandparents is the single milestone that is propelling people toward adulthood rather than away from it, and supporting newly-orphaned parents is part of this process.
*** The day her grandpa Loren died, Rachel stayed up late waiting on a call from her mother, Martha. Rachel was more worried about her than anyone else in the family. Martha is the ever-strong family matriarch. She helps plan every family function with her siblings
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and their families. In the last year, she cared for her parents while preparing for her own retirement. Martha was the one who had planned doctors appointments for her parents and attended many of them herself. She eventually switched the doctor’s appointment calls to her phone number instead of her parents’ home phone so they wouldn’t miss any. Martha started balancing her parents’ checkbook after her dad donated three times to the same charity because he forgot that he had already given the organization money. She paid the 24/7 caregiver. Towards the end, emergencies like broken hips would happen regularly. The caregiver wouldn’t know what to do, so she started calling Martha 24/7. Martha watched her father die, and not quickly like doctors had promised. Grandpa’s aneurysm was a slow leak. A death that lasted hours. At first, he was still and white from blood loss. His whole face froze, not blinking. A nurse called the time of death and stepped out of the room with Martha’s oldest brother. Martha stayed for a moment to cry privately. The room was silent until her father’s body started gasp-
ing for air. Martha, tears staining her face, pulled the nurse back in. The body continued gasping and seizing for an hour, trying to keep pumping blood and fluids through itself. “The organs don’t know the person has passed,” Martha said. When she called Rachel that night, Martha’s tears made her incoherent.
“It’s difficult to care for the people you loved that no longer are the people that you loved.” On the other end of the phone call, Rachel wiped away her tears and hid the shakiness in her voice. Martha had done enough. It was time for Rachel to step up. *** Rachel doesn’t want to forget what her grandma was like when Rachel was a kid. Her grandma used to slip Halls cough drops into little Rachel’s hands so Rachel could suck on them while she was bored in church. Back then, she had to look up to meet her grandma’s bright blue eyes and admire her glossy white hair while sitting next to her in the pews. Rachel’s grandma was the kind of plump that’s nice to hug and had a kind face that said, “I’ll listen to you forever, and I’ll love you forever,” without words. Rachel doesn’t want to remember the way her grandma looked the last time she saw her in the nursing home. Heart disease swelled her grandma’s limbs. Her legs were bloated like frozen water bottles and capped with blue feet. Her skin crusted and flaked, hiding rashes under rolls of skin. During Rachel’s summer and winter breaks, she would help take care of her grandma with her mother. They helped her bathe, washed her skin and scrubbed her feet with a toothbrush. Without Grandma’s weekly hair appointments, her usually fluffy, bright hair laid flat on her head. While Rachel brushed her grandma’s hair, she realized she could only talk at her grandma rather than have a back-and-forth conversation because of her dementia. It reminded Rachel of how she gushed at and murmured to the horses she worked with in her equestrian class. Ogle says dementia adds another layer of difficulty to caring for family members. “It’s difficult to care for the people you loved that no longer are the people that you loved,” Ogle said. Aging patients with dementia are more likely to need care for other physical and mental health issues, not just memory loss, according to a 2017 report from the National Alliance for Caregiving. This was the case for Nan, Charles’ grandma. Charles first noticed her memory was starting to
go in high school, when she walked into the living room one Christmas and called him by the wrong name. He caught it before she did, and then she brushed it off. Her dementia had scattered her memories for 15 years, but her death still surprised the family. Nan was held in a unit for dementia patients at McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital. Neither hospital staff or Nan’s own family could tell the difference between her mental distress from being in an unfamiliar place and her discomfort from a urinary tract infection that turned into sepsis. Nurses didn’t discover the blood infection until Nan’s vitals tanked. The missed calls. Charles knew for sure when he got in Grace’s car. They arrived at the hospital, but aides still had to verify that Charles was family before they let him in the room to join his dad, sister, grandpa and his mom, Liz. When they finally let Charles in, he saw that Nan was too still, and Liz couldn’t stop crying. The family drove to Charles’ parents’ home in Oxford, Ohio, and sat around the dinner table with some close friends. Liz struggled through a large glass of whiskey — straight just like Nan drank it — to honor her mother in a small way. Every time Liz took a sip, the corners of her lips pulled back in disgust, and Charles and his dad implored her not to finish it. Over the next week, Charles focused on listening to and supporting his parents in little moments like these. “I was grieving for my family more than I was grieving for [Nan],” Charles said. His first memory of her was when she called him a “little shit” for breaking something porcelain in the kitchen. Just as Charles started to value and understand adults as a 17-year-old, it was too late to get to know Nan. “I had some fundamental misunderstandings about how the world works and what’s actually important, and I need to take that more seriously and start to re-evaluate those,” Charles said. He hopes to never make the same mistake again.
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NOT LIKE THE MOVIES Female journalists are more than their pop culture portrayals by Kirby Davis illustrations by Min Kim
en minutes into 2008’s “Iron Man,” a movie that has no business dealing with journalism, the titular superhero is leaving a Las Vegas casino. A young woman approaches Tony Stark as he climbs into his car, and says she’s a writer for Vanity Fair. She wants to ask him a few questions. In the next scene, she’s crawling out of his bed in the morning, greeted by his assistant (Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts). Potts ushers the Vanity Fair reporter out because, she says, part of her job is “taking out the trash.” On a surface level, these scenes make up a tired plot device to establish Stark as a relentless playboy (while also hinting that he’ll end up with his uptight, unimpressed assistant, because obviously). But this film, along with many others released in the last 20-or-so years that feature female journalists, paints an insulting and inaccurate portrait of the profession. If everything you knew about female journalists came from recently released films and TV shows, you’d probably think: After being a bakery owner, photographer and coldhearted executive with unprecedented capacity for change, “journalist” is the job most likely to guarantee women a meet-cute and subsequent marriage with a super hot guy, whether he’s their 19 THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
source or their boss. As a woman, the best way to get a source to talk is to sleep with them. And even if they weren’t initially planning to, women should always write about people they sleep with. Those stories will either score them a promotion, a Pulitzer or a boyfriend. Maybe all three! Seriously, there are only two ways to get stories. Women journalists can sleep with people, or they can lie their way into them (i.e. claiming they’ve been sent to tutor an eastern European princess in math and not write about her older brother for a tabloid; I’ll get to that later). If a woman journalist wants to write a story without the help of some guy they’re sleeping with or lying to, they should work with a man, or even better, a team of men. Just to be safe. Female journalists in film weren’t always portrayed as unethical, irresponsible and incompetent. Both 1942’s “Woman of the Year” and 1940’s “His Girl Friday” present powerful female reporters (played by Katharine Hepburn and Rosalind Russell, respectively) who intimidate their husbands and are worshiped by their male coworkers. Russell’s character, Hildy Johnson, is probably the best-known and most iconic on-screen female journalist. At the film opens, she’s planning on
leaving her successful career as a reporter behind to marry and settle down, but after getting roped into covering a wild news story and realizing she loves the job too much, she stays. However, many of today’s female journalists in TV and film aren’t just irritating. They’re insulting, and potentially discouraging for young women hoping to break into the profession. I don’t think anyone is dropping out of journalism school today because they’re afraid they’ll have to sleep with all their sources and spend the rest of their lives looking like disheveled, wannabe J. Crew models. Media representation isn’t everything. But it does matter. As Nora Ephron, my favorite writer (who happened to work as a reporter for the New York Post and a columnist for Esquire before turning to screenwriting in the 1980s), once said, “For many of us, a great deal about what we feel about love has been completely shaped by movies.” They don’t just shape how we feel about love, though. Movies help shape how we feel about a lot of things. Life. Death. Friendship. Careers. Family. How we see and think about the world is, unquestionably, influenced by the media we consume. “The New Romantic” is the most recently released film that’s blatantly rude to female journalists (that I know of). Blake Conway (Jessy Barden), the 2018 Netflix movie’s college student protagonist and wannabe columnist, has the audacity to introduce herself by monologuing about Nora Ephron movies. Blake writes a pretentious column griping that romance is dead, because some of her fellow millennials have never seen “When Harry Met Sally.” Her editor rejects the column, and Blake, who believes she is the Ephron of her time, is indignant. “If they said your column was boring, just make it less boring,” Blake’s friend tells her later. But Blake insists she’s a natural-born columnist. She continues writing uppity diary entries about how millennials slaughtered the art of romance, and continues to be rejected, so she turns to the only other thing women journalists in film can write about now besides love and relationships: sex. It’s great that Blake stands up for herself when her (male) editor doubts her, and I firmly believe
young women should do whatever they want, but we didn’t need another female journalist character who can only write about who she sleeps with. Do you know how little time women reporters in real life spend writing about people they sleep with, and how much time they spend covering conflict in the Middle East, free speech, sexual harassment, fashion and everything else? Where, with the exceptions of 2015’s “Spotlight” and 2003’s “Veronica Guerin,” are the female journalists in media covering real issues and not sleeping with their sources and/or bosses to do so? “The New Romantic” is the most recent example of film treating the female journalist character poorly, but Netflix’s “A Christmas Prince” is perhaps the most egregious perpetrator. The film gained so much notoriety from being so-bad-it’sgood that Netflix released a sequel last year and is planning to churn out a third this winter. “A Christmas Prince’s” terrible female journalist is Amber Moore (Rose McIver). She’s an editor for a magazine called Beat Now (or Now Beat; it’s never clarified). Amber longs to become a writer (even though in reality, editing is considered a promotion from writing) and gets her chance when she’s sent to cover a playboy prince’s coronation in Europe. Amber arrives in the fictional country Aldovia and is whisked away to a palace press conference, where Prince Richard (Ben Lamb) is supposed to speak. He doesn’t show, and the reporters are shepherded off the grounds. But because Amber is a female journalist in a modern-day film, she is determined to chase her story by any means necessary, however risky or unethical, and sneaks back into the palace. Conveniently, Prince Richard’s little sister’s American tu-
“Journalist” is the job most likely to guarantee women a meet-cute and subsequent marriage with a super hot guy, whether he’s their source or their boss. THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
tor is set to arrive around the same time, and when she’s caught, Amber assumes the woman’s identity. She spends a few days gathering research on and falling in love with Prince Richard, until he (surprise!) becomes aware of her super ethical and journalistically-sound plan. Amber returns to New York, quits Beat Now (Now Beat?) and starts her own blog. She proves what a talented, innovative journalist she is by calling it “Amber’s Blog.” Her story is (surprise again!) a shocking tellall about how Prince Richard isn’t such an asshole playboy after all. It’s a hit, and Richard flies back to the States to propose on New Year’s Eve, all of Amber’s scheming suddenly forgiven. “A Christmas Prince” has been hailed as “hilariously bad” and “simultaneously the best and
How we see and think about the world is, unquestionably, influenced by the media we consume.
worst thing Netflix has ever produced.” As much as I agree, and enjoy introducing other people to the trainwreck of a production, it’s also troubling to me. “A Christmas Prince” exemplifies everything wrong with modern-day media depictions of female journalists. There are, of course, films in which female reporter characters simply do their jobs and don’t need to sleep with editors or sources to get ahead. See: 2015’s “Spotlight” and 2003’s “Veronica Guerin,” both based on true stories. But there are so many more like “A Christmas Prince,” in which female journalists end up sleeping with their sources or bosses to advance professionally. There’s 2015’s “Trainwreck,” in which Amy Schumer’s magazine writer character sleeps, and later falls in love with, her main source for a feature; there’s 1981’s “Absence of Malice,” in which Sally Field’s reporter character falls for a murder subject in a story she’s working on; there’s 2009’s “Crazy Heart,” in which Maggie Gyllenhaal’s reporter character falls for her source, Jeff Bridges; and many, many more. Even the female journalist in “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” the 2009 film based on the children’s book about food raining on a sad, former tourist trap of an island, dates her primary source (the inventor of the machine which causes clouds to rain food). And, with the exception of “Sabrina, The Teenage Witch,” TV shows treat female journalists even worse than films do. “Gilmore Girls’” Rory and “House of Cards’” Zoe are probably the most well-known fictional female journalists of my generation, but they’re also offensive representatives of the profession. Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) is an enterprising young metro beat reporter at the start of “House of Cards,” itching to be taken seriously at the fictional Washington Herald newspaper. She starts sleeping with congressman Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), the House Majority Whip, to obtain D.C. insider information, and uses it to work her way up in the Herald newsroom and ultimately jump ship for the website Slugline (also fictional). Zoe breaks off the affair, and at Slugline, she and her colleagues launch an investigation against Frank, who discreetly murderers another congressman in season one. Frank does not appreciate this, and shoves Zoe in front of an oncoming subway train. Any real reporting Zoe gets to do on the show is undermined by the fact that she had to sleep her way up through the Herald’s ranks, and had she not had an affair with Frank, she wouldn’t have succeeded as a writer. To be fair, her mentor is Janine Skorsky (Constance Zimmer), who tells her, “I used to suck, screw and jerk anything that moved just to get a story,” when she suspects Zoe is sleeping with a politician early in season one.
Women are capable of writing stories and obtaining journalistic jobs without sleeping their way into them. Rory Gilmore’s (Alexis Bledel) character takes a decidedly more ethical path to becoming a reporter. Until the series’ Netflix-produced sequel, “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” Rory doesn’t sleep with any sources or editors to further her career. But she does score her first and only internship on the show in season five by dating Logan Huntzberger (Matt Czuchry), the son of a prominent media conglomerate owner. After Logan’s extended family insults Rory at a dinner party, his father offers Rory a reporting internship at the fictional Stamford Eagle Gazette newspaper as a peacemaking gesture. It would be silly of Rory not to accept the internship, which she does, but the situation just perpetuates the stereotype in film and TV that female journalists can’t succeed without men’s help. Besides the fact that Rory couldn’t seem to succeed without the Huntzbergers’ help, and the fact that she became acquainted with Logan while interviewing him for a story, Rory’s just a bad journalist. She becomes indignant at any bit of criticism toward her and she’s entitled. When Logan’s father criticizes her performance at the Stamford Eagle Gazette in season five, and when she’s not chosen for a New York Times fellowship in season seven, she’s shocked. Zoe Barnes and Rory Gilmore aren’t the only small-screen offenders. “Parks and Recreation” introduces the show’s resident reporter, Shauna Malwae-Tweep, in its third episode. She immediately sleeps with a source for a story she’s working on, and shows up to an interview 15 minutes late the next morning without a pen, because she left hers at his house. There are two TV shows that manage to defy these stereotypes and present realistic, inoffensive female journalists: “The Bold Type,” which premiered on Freeform in 2017 and just wrapped up its third season, and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” which aired from 1996 to 2003 and is not to be confused with Netflix’s spooky “Sabrina” remake. “The Bold Type” follows three millennials working for the fictional women’s lifestyle magazine Scarlet (loosely based on Cosmopolitan). One of them, Jane Sloan (Katie Stevens), is a reporter, and she’s guided by her fiercely feminist editor Jacqueline. Jane isn’t perfect, but she’s also allowed to write about things besides who she’s sleeping with, like breast cancer, politics and motherhood. She also doesn’t need to sleep with any editors or sources to advance her career. Bizarrely, the best representation of a female
journalist we have is Sabrina Spellman (Melissa Joan Hart), teenage witch. “Sabrina” is a fun, campy sitcom with gloriously cheap 1990s special effects about a high-schooler being raised by her two aunts. In the pilot, they tell Sabrina she’s a witch, and so are they. The most intriguing thing about Sabrina Spellman is, given the fact that she is a witch and also at the top of both her high school and college classes, she can do anything she wants with her life. This is impressed upon us often throughout the show’s seven seasons, usually from her encouraging aunts, but also Sabrina’s own self-confidence. Sabrina could be anything on Earth or in the magical “Realm” where much of her family resides, and she chooses to be a journalist. “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” doesn’t just do the bare minimum of showcasing a female journalist. The show treats journalism like a real profession, not just a quirky hobby reserved for quirky rom-com women. The first five seasons of the show are pretty silly, focused on Sabrina’s magical high-school-based hijinks, and the sixth season is still pretty campy. But in the seventh season, Sabrina gets a real job working for a magazine before becoming a freelancer, and she does it well. As early as episode three in season one, Sabrina writes an editorial for her school paper about how the administration gives all its attention to football and has little regard for academics. She stands by her column and meets the inevitable backlash with conviction for her beliefs. It’s not the most serious example, but it sets the tone for the rest of the show. Obviously, female journalists are allowed to have romantic relationships and casual hookups. But they’re also professionals, just like male journalists, and there’s no reason why this can’t be depicted in film or on TV. Women are capable of writing stories and obtaining journalistic jobs without sleeping their way into them. I’m not a professional writer. But I’ve been a journalism student for four years and worked at three editorial internships. I’ve never seen any female writers (or male ones, for that matter) act like Zoe Barneses or Amber Moores. I’ve only seen Sabrina Spellmans and Hildy Johnsons.
THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
Behind the Counter
Chinese-restaurant owners compete for Oxford’s taste buds by Rachel Berry illustrations by Min Kim
ei Deng woke up each morning last spring to go to his 8:30 a.m. class. He sat among other Miami University students learning about international politics. After the course ended at about 10 a.m., he was done with classes, but his day was only just beginning. Deng drove over to his job at Millions of Milk Tea, a bubble tea restaurant on Locust Street, near Dunkin. Deng didn’t just work there, though. He owned the store. As a senior in college, Deng owned two businesses in Oxford. The first, a hair salon called Huaqi, which he bought with help from his parents. They didn’t support his goals of owning his own company, seeing it as trivial, but they eventually gave in and loaned him the money. “It is so boring in Oxford,” Deng said as his rea23 THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
son for why he wanted to open businesses. The hair salon became successful, and Deng made enough money to open his second business — a franchise of a bubble tea chain called Millions of Milk Tea — without any parental help. Bubble tea was developed in Taiwan and later became popular in China as well. Each city in China has its own flavors and traditions regarding bubble tea. Deng loved the taste of the drink and wanted to introduce it to Americans, so he chose Millions of Milk Tea as his second business endeavor. The store was originally developed in New York and has two other locations in Cincinnati. Deng’s Oxford location opened on April 2, 2019, and has already surpassed Deng’s goals, selling about 400 cups a day. Deng employed other Chinese international stu-
“[Buying the restaurant] was scary. I wasn’t sure if we would make it, if people will like it.”
dents to help run the store. His partner in the bubble tea business, Ziheng Wang, is a sophomore student at Miami. Wang did not respond to requests for comment. Wang took over the business once Deng graduated last spring. *** Across town from Millions of Milk Tea sits a Chinese restaurant, Phan Shin. Upon entering, visitors are greeted by Chinese imagery like dragons that dance across the side of the counter. The woman behind the counter warmly welcomes all who enter. Although her dark hair makes her appear Chinese, once she opens her mouth to speak, it’s clear she’s been in America for a long time. Yvonne Lin and her husband, John, have owned Phan Shin since 2008, when they bought it from a previous owner. Her husband didn’t finish high school. All he knew how to do was cook, so they decided to open a restaurant. They heard about Phan Shin being sold in Oxford soon after they married. They saw it as the perfect opportunity and a great place to raise a family. Yvonne runs the front of the restaurant, answering phones, coordinating waiters and seating customers. John handles the cooking and manages the back.
“[Buying the restaurant] was scary,” Yvonne said. “I wasn’t sure if we would make it, if people will like it.” Yvonne and John work seven days a week for 13 hours each day. Whenever the restaurant is open, they are there, managing the employees in a handson way. “It’s a family restaurant,” Yvonne said. “I like to be there for a personal touch.” They closed for a year and a half for renovations and just recently reopened in November 2018. When they closed, 11 other Chinese restaurants served Oxford. Now there are 16. *** At the last census in 2010, Oxford, Ohio had a population of 21,371. Six point eight percent of the city was Asian. According to Miami’s Office of Institutional Research, the university’s Chinese population has increased by 2000 students in the last 10 years. This has led to a surge in Chinese restaurants as well. Chinese restaurants make up almost 20 percent of the total dining options in Oxford, which includes the Uptown area, where students mainly eat, and the surrounding areas inside the town lines. Currently, Oxford has 16 Chinese dining options, with two more scheduled to open in the coming months. Oxford’s economic development director, Alan THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
Kyger, said people don’t have to approve their business with the city before opening. As long as they follow restrictions and can afford the rent, the city has no control over who leases open storefronts. He also said a lot of the Chinese businesses lease new buildings and “finish them out” by installing kitchens and bathrooms. This helps the city because even if a restaurant doesn’t last long, the next person who leases that building doesn’t have to pay as much since the inside is already finished. Many of these restaurants, like Millions of Milk Tea, are opened by students during college or after they graduate. Because of this, they have a high turnover rate, many staying open for only a few years before changing owners or closing altogether. Of the 16 Chinese restaurants currently in Oxford, only two of them have been open for more than a decade. “The turnover is more rapid than I can track,” Kyger said. “My list is obsolete as soon as I type it.” Kyger couldn’t cite exact data but has noticed a trend with Chinese restaurants closing down or changing owners more frequently than other dining facilities. Two of the businesses, Dim Sum and Rice House, opened in July and September of 2018 respectively and are both already on their second owner. Kyger said Tea Cha House, another Chinese restaurant, is on its fifth owner in six years. “My speculation is because often some [of the restaurant owners] are associated with Miami, so they’re here a short period of time,” Kyger said. “Oftentimes since they’re international, they may be here for a shorter period of time [before going back to China].” *** At Phan Shin, Yvonne sits on her phone talking to a customer who is placing a to-go order but isn’t sure what she wants. The customer had a dish she liked the last time she came to the restaurant, but she can’t remember what it’s called. “Was it spicy?” Yvonne asks, then listens into the phone. “Well, you can put that sauce on anything. That doesn’t help. What kind of meat did you have?” The woman doesn’t remember, but after five minutes of going back and forth, they settle on a dish that may have been the one she tried last time. Among the increasing number of Chinese restaurants in town, Yvonne cites her customer service as something that sets Phan Shin apart. “I try to make them happy,” she said. When Yvonne bought Phan Shin in 2008, Wild 25 THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
“I just had to have faith it will work. It’s hard to maintain and work [your] way up, but I knew we would be fine.” Bistro was the only other Chinese restaurant in Oxford, which opened that same year. Before that, Phan Shin was the only place selling Asian food. “Some [of the owners] want something new, and that’s great,” Yvonne said about the other restaurants. “I don’t think they take consideration of supply and demand. There’s room but not for that many.” Yvonne says the increasing number of competitors hasn’t hurt her business. She sells what she calls “Chinese fusion,” which includes Americanized Chinese food alongside more traditional dishes. She previously only sold the Americanized menu, but added the other options for international students who may want a taste of home. “It doesn’t have to be the best tasting,” Yvonne said. “It’s what you like or are comfortable with — taste good to you, not by standards.” The emphasis on the customer that urged her to sit and help someone decide what to order is what made Yvonne interested in this business in the first place. “I’m social. I love people,” she said. “I love to talk and meet different people.” *** At Millions of Milk Tea, Julia Snodgrass and Kellyn Vince, two Miami students, sit at a table drinking their bubble tea. This was Vince’s second time to the shop, and he brought his friend to try it. Both of them said that a lot of their friends didn’t originally know about the restaurant, but that more and more people are coming because of Millions of Milk Tea’s active Instagram page and location next to the new Dunkin’. “It’s good. It’s really good,” Snodgrass said. “Hell yeah, I would come back.” Deng put a great amount of effort into starting his business and personally supervised decisions about tile design, table set-up and other in-store choices. He seems nonchalant about the whole process, seeing it as just another way to make money. “It is not easy, not hard. It [takes] time and money,” Deng said. “It is very busy each day, more and
more Americans.” Deng doesn’t seem phased by the number of other restaurants and cafes. They all sell lunch and dinner, while he serves solely bubble tea, so he doesn’t really see them as competitors. Even if they did sell bubble tea, though, Deng is confident his business would prevail. “I know business,” Deng said. “I work hard, study hard.” Both Yvonne and Deng have found a way to stand out among the competition. Yvonne saw the changing market when she reopened Phan Shin after closing for over a year for renovations. “I just had to have faith it will work,” she said. “It’s hard to maintain and work [your] way up, but I knew we would be fine.”
Before there were safety bulletins, there was silence
Content Warning: This article contains information about a sexual assault that may be upsetting to some readers.
by Emily Dattilo
photos by Bo Brueck and contributed by Susan Fleming Morgans
The people pictured are Miami University students who volunteered to be models for this photoshoot, and read the article before participating. The use of anonymous models is meant to reflect the reality that anyone can be a victim of sexual assault and interpersonal violence.
The following is a timeline depicting some of the key milestones in the rise in conversations surrounding sexual assault and the Me Too Movement.
1972 President Nixon signs Title IX
1975 “Against Our Will,” a best selling book by Susan Brownmiller, modernizes discussion of rape
1994 The term “sexual harrassment” was coined at Cornell University
Clinton signs the Violence Against Women Act
2006 Activist Tarana Burke coins “Me Too” phrase
2017 Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood film producer, is fired after being accused of sexual harassment
Actress Alyssa Milano encourages people to write “Me Too” on Twitter to share their experiences
â€œYou never forget!â€? Susan Fleming Morgans, Miami Class of 1969, was sexually assaulted during her senior year. This is her story.
The house on 122 N. Main St. where Susan lived her senior year. This is where she was heading when she was assaulted.
Susan Fleming Morgans came to Miami University from Mt. Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh. She loved living on South Quad. She loved walking around campus past the sundial. She remembers Uptown as quaint and bustling. She remembers how boys would wear jackets and ties and walk to pick up their dates to football games because hardly anyone had a car. She remembers how during her freshman year, women wore pleated skirts, flat shoes and sweaters, and men wore button-down collared shirts and khakis. By her senior year, students were wearing bell-bottoms and long stringy hair. She remembers how her parents sent her to college in Oxford because they believed it was safe. And for her first three years, she did too. *** Susan lived in Dodds, Richards and Hamilton Hall during her first three years at Miami. Her final year was the first that senior women could live off campus, so she moved to a house on 122 N. Main Street with five other women. Susan always knew she wanted to be a journalist and began working at The Miami Student (TMS) as a freshman. She was best known for her opinion columns and says the bravest thing she ever did during her time on staff was run a copy of a Vietnam draft notice on the editorial page because someone dared her to. During her senior year, on a cold October night, she covered a student government meeting for the newspaper. The Dean of Men and Dean of Women (there were separate deans for men and women at the time) were present. Susan thinks the meeting was in Laws Hall, but she can’t be certain. Around 9:30 or 10 p.m., Susan left the meeting and began to walk home. “I never felt, for a second, afraid at all, about
anything,” she said. “Miami, I thought, was safe.” She walked down Main Street, past the bars, and turned the corner. Her house was in sight when she saw three men approaching her. After walking past her, the men grabbed her from behind and dragged her into the backyard next to her house. One of the men struck her diaphragm so she couldn’t scream. She saw another holding something shiny, which she believes was a knife. One of the three men held her down, while at least two of them raped her. “Once they were gone,” Susan said, “I remember saying to the guy that was holding me down, ‘Why did you do this to me? I never did anything to you.’” *** Before he ran away, the man who held her down ordered her to stay where she was for 15 minutes or they’d come back and kill her. Susan stayed in that spot for about five minutes before running to her house. She banged on the door until one of her roommates opened it. Susan fell to the ground, sobbing and screaming. Her roommate called the Oxford Police Department and took her to McCullough-Hyde, but they wouldn’t see her, saying she had to go to the campus medical center. At the Student Health Services, doctors confirmed there was damage and gave her the morning-after pill. In the 60s, there were no rape kits or DNA tests — only the victim’s recount of what happened. Doctors asked Susan if she’d call her parents, but she refused, too ashamed to tell them. So the doctors called them instead. The next day, her parents picked her up and took her home to Pittsburgh for a few days, asking if she’d see a therapist or a pastor. She said no to both, and her parents said they wouldn’t be telling anyone in the family about what had happened.
“I never felt, for a second, afraid at all, about anything.
Miami, I thought, was safe.” THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
“Oh Susie, when I saw you coming into that meeting that night in your cute little short skirt and boots … ”
Susan and her roommate, Kathy Keel Landsittel, on graduation day in 1969. Landsittel is the one who stayed with Susan overnight in the health center the night she was raped. The two are still friends today.
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“I think that honestly that was the era where people thought like, ‘Maybe men will think she’s damaged goods,’” Susan said. Her parents’ decision to stay silent only made her feel worse. At some point after the incident, the Dean of Women visited her and said, “Oh Susie, when I saw you coming into that meeting that night in your cute little short skirt and boots…” and stopped. *** When she returned to campus, Susan got the best grades she’d ever received, but she resigned from the newspaper. Being an editor meant regularly having to walk home late at night. There was no email at the time, let alone safety bulletins sent to the entire campus, but The Oxford Press reported on the rape, citing her age, school address and home state. They didn’t disclose her name, but they didn’t have to. “It was interesting walking around campus,” she said, “because I knew everybody knew, but no one — very few people — would say anything or acknowledge it.” Howie, an officer of student senate, was one of the very few people who did say something. “I heard what happened to you,” he said, “and I’m so very sorry.” Susan has never forgotten that conversation. ***
After Susan’s experience, another girl came forward and reported a rape, setting off a panic that Oxford housed a serial rapist. After thorough investigation, it turned out that the girl had had sex with her boyfriend and reported it as a rape out of fear of pregnancy. Susan worried the false report would cast a suspicious light upon her own story and that people wouldn’t believe her. In an attempt to find her attackers, the Oxford Police Department had Susan look through Talawanda High School yearbooks to identify the rapists, but she knew she’d never be able to pick them out. “I finally said to my dad, ‘Just tell them to drop it, I’m not going to press charges,’” she said. “And that’s how we left it.” Susan graduated from Miami with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1969. *** Things have changed at Miami since then. Title IX wasn’t even passed until 1972, three years after Susan graduated. In 1975, a ground-breaking book titled “Against Our Will” by Susan Brownmiller was published. The book changed the dialogue around rape culture and sexual assault, moving the narrative away from a male perspective to a female one. “Women had never dared to talk openly about a crime against their physical integrity that often was met with disbelief and which carried a heavy load of shame,” she wrote in a preface published in 2013. “Rape was something that women were afraid
THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
Most importantly, they will aim to make it clear that it’s never the victim’s fault.
to mention.” The Jeanne Clery Act, passed in 1990, legally requires universities to distribute crime reports, so sexual assault reports are emailed to faculty, staff and students soon after they are filed. Today, 50 years after Susan graduated, the entire Miami community receives an email when a sexual assault report comes in. Since the start of the fall semester, 32 reports have been filed (as of Nov. 4, 2019), and the victims are a lot more anonymous than Susan ever was. The act also requires a list of safety tips, which typically reside at the bottom of the report, and include “if you see something, say something” and “please practice legal low-risk drinking” because “alcohol and other drugs lower inhibitions.” “We want the safety tips to be helpful while trying to avoid victims feeling like they made mistakes,” John McCandless, Miami University Police Department (MUPD) Chief, said. However, sophomore Lauren Doepke, an environmental earth science and sustainability major and Associated Student Government (ASG) senator, says the current tips aren’t very helpful because they’re too vague, don’t provide useful ways to intervene in difficult situations and also “couple consent with alcohol.” “Saying that alcohol increases perpetration completely neglects to think about the fact that many perpetrators are perpetrators before they drink,” Doepke said. She’s spoken with several individuals including
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McCandless, Jane Goettsch in the Women’s Center and Dean Kimberly Moore, among others, about these initiatives to work to make the safety tips more purposeful. MUPD doesn’t have an issue with changing the tips as long as they comply with Clery and are approved by the university. The new safety tips are currently being drafted and have not been approved yet, but they will focus on a range of topics including “decoupling alcohol and consent,” defining sexual misconduct and rethinking conversations that normalize assault. Most importantly, they will aim to make it clear that it’s never the victim’s fault. *** Those who have experienced sexual assault or interpersonal violence have the option to meet with Miami Title IX coordinator Gabby Dralle, who offers a wide variety of resources from healthcare options to counseling. “The meeting with me is not to go over the incident itself,” Dralle said. “They don’t have to share details about what’s happened. If they want to provide me with more information, they can, but it is not standard that they need to do that in order to receive access to resources or support.” Dralle also goes through the formal options for reporting to the university or the police. A student is also given the opportunity to request a Protection Order through the court, or a No Contact Directive,
Susan and her dad outside of Dodds Hall on Parents Weekend in 1965.
which goes through the university. After receiving a three-year $300,000 grant from the Office on Violence Against Women, Miami formed a comprehensive community response team (CCRT), which includes 2o members, including Dralle, Rebecca Baudry Young, the director of the Office of Student Wellness, John Ward, the director of Student Counseling Services, and Dave King from OPD. ***
Susan with her husband, Hal, last March.
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After graduation and a course in publishing at Radcliffe College, Susan moved to Washington D.C. She worked as a news aide for the Washington Post, sitting at a desk across from Carl Bernstein, one of the reporters who would later break Watergate. After recognizing how the chain of command in journalism worked and realizing she wouldn’t be covering the Supreme Court anytime soon, she moved back to Pittsburgh and got a Master of Arts in teaching and taught high school for four years. “I thought I was fine,” she said. But after having a baby and quitting her job, Susan stayed home while her husband was a busy lawyer. “This was the first time (this is 1975; the rape was in 1968) that I had had time to myself to think about what had happened—to let it filter through my brain,” she said. Susan dealt with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder and spent lots of time dismissing the severity of the rape, trying to convince herself that it hadn’t really hurt her. She didn’t receive any medication, but got some counseling and wrote for hours, just trying to come to terms with all of it. “I kept those dozens and dozens and dozens of pieces of paper for probably 30 years,” Susan said. “And my husband and I burnt them in the fireplace probably ten years ago because we finally thought like, ‘Well it’s so long ago, and it’s over and our life is good.’” It took her years to work through the situation, and even now, she acknowledges that life isn’t pretty. She hopes the men and women affected by sexual assault at Miami today seek out help and support. “Everybody has terrible things happen to them,” she said, “and everybody needs someone to acknowledge it and to say to them, ‘I’m sorry that happened to you, I’d like to hear about it.’”
Afterword: Susan worked as a Public Informations Officer editor in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania for 22 years, and is married with one daughter, three step-children and seven grandchildren. In October, she saw TMS’s Facebook post linking to the article about this year’s Clothesline Project, a display with shirts that give a voice to members of the Miami community affected by sexual assault and interpersonal violence. She left a comment asking for someone on TMS staff to make a shirt for her and briefly shared what happened to her in the fall of 1968. “I am fine today — a mom, grandma and recently retired magazine editor — ” she wrote, “but you never forget!”
Susan last year in Naples, Florida
Susan and her family a couple of years ago.
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My 20th orbit around the sun by Ben Finfrock
illustration by Andrew Rogers
wenty years old is seen as such a pointless age. But at 20 years old, I was old enough to love. At 20 years old, I was allowed to live in a major city on my own and dream about the endless possibilities before me. I could live alone in my own apartment. I was able to accomplish things that I never thought possible, and discover my passions and values. But at 20 years old, I had my heart broken, stomped on, undervalued and unwanted. I was allowed to be sad. Like really sad. Like detrimentally sad. I was allowed to sit at the funeral of a close friend in a small town, just a few hours from our school. I was allowed to be backstabbed and humil39 THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
iated by the people I considered friends, and had my work ethic and name trashed. I was allowed to watch my family change dramatically and see those I love the most grow old before me, and in the case of my uncle, die unexpectedly overnight. In many ways, my 20th year was the apocalypse. A crash collision of death and betrayal, where real friendships seemed to dwindle and the army of fake people not only grew, but weaponized. Life became more precious, and my mind seemed to eat at me from the inside. That’s the funny thing about being 20 in 2019. The world still sees you as a child because you can’t legally go for a drink. You’re forced into the underage line at the bar. You’re not seen as smart or wise
enough because you don’t have a Ph.D and you’ve only lived on this planet for two decades. Your opinions are unwelcome at the table because they are “not yet developed.” Your parents send you off to a small college town where everyone knows each other, and it feels like every relationship has an expiration date. But a 20-year-old can see more death and despair, and deal with more mental and physical hardships than most imagine. That was 20 years old — a cold apocalyptic winter followed by a hot cruel summer. But at 20 years old, I learned my worth and stopped taking each day of my life for granted. I stopped caring about what others said and thought of me. I came out, which was a big deal for me. I learned what I was passionate about and what I want to do with my life. I learned more about the world and dedicated myself to making it a better place. I learned that everyone comes into your life for a
reason, and although they can leave you with pain and anguish, the most important thing is that you take a lesson away from each relationship. I learned that you need to hold on to those who have your best interest in mind — those people who cut out time in their day to call you or text you or send you funny tweets to make you laugh. I learned that happiness and fulfilment come from within, and you must love the person you see in the mirror (or the selfie) above all else. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll miss my 20th year. I guess it all depends on what my 21st year brings. But I learned a lot during this orbit around the sun, and it’s enough to keep me orbiting around again.
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Effort is Everything How the former Miami hockey coach defines himself and his career by Emily Simanskis photos by Angelo Gelfuso, illustrations by Connor Wells
reserved parking spot sits empty at the Goggin Ice Center and so does the Steve “Coach” Cady Arena, as both await the arrival of Miami University’s head hockey coach Enrico Blasi. Blasi pulls in just before 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 9 for the Miami RedHawks’ last home hockey game of the season and what would be Blasi’s last home game at the helm of Miami ice hockey. But the emotion of the 2018-19 regular season finale doesn’t cloud Blasi’s judgment or alter his routine, and Blasi feels no sense of dread for the future. He’s concerned with the immediate future, thinking of Game Two against the Western Michigan University Broncos and his team’s response to the 5-1 loss from the night before. Blasi pulls into his reserved spot and makes the short walk from his car to the service entrance of the arena to his office, passing the weight room, locker room and the meeting room titled “The Champions Room.” He passes a wall of “Miami Moments” — every one of them he had been a part of except one dated 1981. He continues past photos of Miami teams who had postseason success — every one of them he had been a part of dating back to Miami’s first conference championship when he was a junior skater. He turns his back to the photos and opens the door to the coaches’ room, ignoring the commemorative wall of “Coach of the Year” plaques to his left, though six of the 10 bear his name. When fans enter the arena in several hours, they will not be reminded of the program’s past success as Blasi is, but they will walk through the lobby of the Goggin Ice Center and walk under the National Hockey League jerseys hanging on the walls above their heads. The jerseys bear the names of former Miami hockey players who now play in the NHL. Blasi has coached almost every Miami player whose name has been stitched onto the back of a professional jersey. Blasi doesn’t like to think about past successes or failures unless it influences the future. The past success of the RedHawks hasn’t been replicated for the past four seasons, and Blasi concerns himself with the game at hand. The RedHawks’ co-captains arrive minutes after Blasi and the equipment manager delivers a medium, Starbucks, dark roast coffee as he has been for the past 20 years of Blasi’s tenure. Blasi didn’t sleep much the night before. Though he has no problem falling asleep, he wakes up almost every hour replaying last night’s game in his head.
Sitting at his desk in the coaches’ room, Blasi sips the coffee and goes over his game plan, printing notes on the line-up card he’ll hold with him during the game. He re-watches video from the game before, refreshing his memory and trying to look for anything he had missed. The basement of the Goggin Ice Center becomes busier as it gets closer to the 7:05 p.m. puck drop. Associate head coach Peter Mannino and assistant coach Joel Beal arrive around 4:30 p.m., and players trickle into the locker room soon after. Players tape sticks, kick a soccer ball, stretch and practice stick handling in the weight room before filling the locker room at 5:30 p.m. – exactly an hour and a half until puck drop. Blasi leaves his laptop at his desk in the coaches’ room, notes in hand to deliver the pregame speech. Mannino and Beal follow. After the 5-1 showing the night before, Blasi strides to the front of the locker room and adjusts the RedHawks’ offense and defense. His 5-foot-7 frame commands the attention of the 28 players seated in front of him, and the seriousness of the situation sets in. Of the 28 players looking up at Blasi, six will skate in their last game at the Steve “Coach” Cady Arena for Senior Night. The RedHawks have lost four in a row, and the postseason looms. “We have to respond,” Blasi says. “A lot is on the line tonight. We have to respond.” Blasi takes a total of six minutes of the players’ time and leaves them to continue their pregame rituals. Though Blasi remembers his routine as a player, as a coach, he isn’t committed to one. Tonight, he leaves the Goggin Ice Center and walks next door to Phillips Hall to talk to the Red & White Club booster members. His mind largely preoccupied with the game ahead, he’s brought back to last night and the decision he made to pull the RedHawks’ goalie with eight minutes left in the third period, down three goals. In Friday’s post-game press conference, Blasi acknowledged the failed plan that led to another Western Michigan goal, saying: “[It’s] 4-1 and I try to pull the goalie and try to get some offense, and it’s probably a dumb move on my part.” Now, a Red & White club member asks if pulling the goalie was a good idea. “Let’s do this, how about I ask you, you be the coach,” Blasi says. “You’re not generating any shots on net, any offense, you’re down by three and you’ve got eight minutes left. Would you pull the goalie?” “Not a chance,” the member says. Even after four seasons with under .500 records,
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Blasi stands at the front of the room as the winningest hockey coach in Miami history. He has the experience to know pulling the goalie early can pay off, and it can backfire. Sitting down, the fan can’t handle the gamble. Blasi doesn’t miss a beat. “That’s why you’re sitting down and I’m standing up.” *** “Rico” Blasi didn’t used to arrive so early to the hockey rink on game days. When he played youth hockey in Toronto, Ontario, his father left his cabinet-making job early and braved rush hour traffic to get Rico to his games 10 minutes before puck drop. After his first year with the now-defunct Wexford Raiders and the harried routine to get Rico on the ice, his dad sat Rico down and said, “Hey, listen, if you want to play, you have to be closer to home.” Home for Rico’s father and mother had been southern Italy before immigrating to Canada in the late 1950s. They knew nothing about hockey and still don’t speak the best English. But everyone in Canada plays hockey at some level, and the Blasis were no different. When Rico was four, he skated on an outdoor pond with his older cousins. When he was seven, he began to play for the Raiders. His dad, still unfamiliar with the sport but a new Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens fan, drove Rico through rush hour in support of his love for the game. Rico, the oldest of three and a family man before he was old enough to be a man, agreed to play closer to home for a season before returning to the topranked Wexford Raiders. His team won provincial championships and big tournaments every year Rico played for them. The team’s success led to heightened NCAA Division I college hockey interest, and the then-Miami hockey head coach George Gwozdecky noticed the hard-working, small, Italian centerman. “He wasn’t the highest scoring player,” Gwozdecky said. “He wasn’t the fastest player. Obviously, he wasn’t the biggest player, but he played with a tremendous deal of intelligence and played with a lot of heart and grit.” *** Blasi returns to Goggin 20 minutes later, soaked from an evening storm. He strides back to the coaches’ room to take off his raincoat, before meeting radio play-by-play announcer Greg Waddell for a pregame interview in the Champions Room. Waddell has known Blasi for 13 years, and
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they’ve developed a good working relationship. Yesterday, Blasi and Waddell talked about Bon Jovi, Blasi’s favorite musician, and Blasi swore off taking his daughter to another G-Eazy “rap” concert. Tonight, Blasi is tighter lipped and in a greater hurry to get back to his notes and more film. At 6:45 p.m., Blasi and the players’ preparation is interrupted for the pregame Senior Night ceremony. Nine minutes and six ceremonial final laps later, Blasi heads back to the coaches’ room and the players head back to the locker room to pull jerseys over their heads. The song “Mo Bamba” by Sheck Wes floods the basement, and players holler the lyrics before heading back to the bench. Seven minutes before puck drop, Blasi walks out
amidst losing streaks, but students still holler Blasi’s name. Not one to listen to the crowd unless his team is winning later in the game, Blasi takes time to cringe before dialing in. Standing behind the bench, hands behind his back, Blasi doesn’t say anything before the referee drops the puck. He wants his team to focus on the game, instead of anything he says. But a WMU goal 57 seconds into the game finds Blasi’s voice. “Where’s our forecheck!?” And he thinks, Let’s get it back. Off the ensuing faceoff, WMU camps out in Miami’s zone, and Blasi yells, “Where’s our D!?” Not five seconds later, a save by goaltender Ryan Larkin on a shot the D should have prevented forc-
The cheer has lost some of its gusto over the past four years, as attendance has thinned amidst losing streaks,
but students still holler Blasi’s name. the tunnel to stand behind the bench, line-up card in hand, careful, all-capital printed notes lining the page. Mannino stands near the defensive end, on Blasi’s left, and Beal stands near the offensive zone, to Blasi’s right. The Steve “Coach” Cady Arena crowd turns their attention to the national anthem and public address announcer Scott Shriver reads off the starting lineups first for Western Michigan, then for Miami. “Director of hockey operations for Miami is Dean Stork,” Shriver says, voice booming. “Assistant coaches are Peter Mannino and Joel Beal and, in his 20th season coaching at the helm of Miami ice hockey, is head coach Enrico Blasi.” The student section wastes no time and answers Shriver’s announcement with the routine screaming of “RICO.” The cheer has lost some of its gusto over the past four years, as attendance has thinned
es Blasi to look skyward in early exasperation. His eyes don’t leave the game for long, and he turns back to watch the RedHawks attempt to survive WMU’s early onslaught. When the RedHawks rush up to the offensive zone, players stand and Blasi steps up to stand on the bench. Early excitement and anticipation from his perch turns to frustration a minute later. An opportunity to even the score comes for Miami on the power play, but Blasi watches an offensive-zone turnover, rolls his head and kicks the boards behind him. The bench doesn’t flinch. When the power play ends, Blasi leans back against the glass behind him and crosses his ankles on the bench in front of him. He leans on his right elbow resting on the lip where the boards meet the glass. He faces the offensive zone, though his eyes track the puck all over the ice.
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Tonight he hopes his anger shows his players he refuses to quit. Blasi steps up and down off the bench as the teams play on and occasionally yells for a specific line to take the ice. With 6:06 left to play in the period, WMU jumps to a 2-0 lead. “Don’t back in!” Blasi yells to the bench, his lips pulling back so that his ears twitch. “Why did we back in? Fuck. Jesus fuck, why are we backing up for? Stay in his face. If you back off, he’s going to pass through you, if you stay in his face…” Blasi trails off. Again, he thinks, Let’s get it back. The period ticks along and Blasi tries to energize his team with a quick, shouted, “Let’s go!” after an effective penalty kill. He’s shouted the phrase throughout the years in practice and during games en route to victory and defeat. Sometimes it works. Recently, it hasn’t. When the horn sounds, the coaches file off the bench and the players file into the locker room down 2-0. One player re-tapes his stick, another re-chalks his and one talks with the equipment manager about the successful penalty kill. With eight minutes left before the start of the second, Blasi walks back into the room and relays further adjustments he wants the RedHawks to make. “Let’s go. Let’s fucking go. Play with some passion. Fucking do something. Let’s go.” *** Though Blasi’s 2018-19 Miami team struggled for wins, when Blasi was a freshman skater, his 1990-91 team finished with only five, a record he still remembers. “Yeah, we sucked really bad,” Blasi said, then laughed, though he didn’t find it funny. “Like, we weren’t even close. We were terrible – losing games 11-1, 9-4, 8-1 that kind of thing.” On the Monday after Blasi’s freshman year team lost their last weekend of the season, Coach Gwoz45 THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
decky got a call from the team’s strength and conditioning coach. “Hey,” the coach said. “I just want to let you know that we had three of your hockey players in the weight room today asking me to train them so they could get bigger and stronger and faster because they never want to have the kind of season they just had.” Blasi was one of those players because, for him, effort is everything. “That’s how I was brought up,” Blasi said about that Monday almost 30 years ago. “That’s how I played. That’s what I believe in. My parents are right off the boat, they had to claw and scratch for everything we had. Not only that, but being a smaller player, I had to fight for everything. To me, it’s unacceptable when someone doesn’t work hard.” So Blasi worked hard, and took a hockey class with his teammates just so they could be on the ice for more minutes during the day. Professors came to know him as a responsible student, while Gwozdecky learned Blasi found more joy in helping others than scoring himself. “He’d go flying into the corners to get the puck, come out with it and pass it to someone who was
standing wide open and they’d shoot,” Gwozdecky said. Blasi’s play with and without the puck, on both the power play and the penalty kill units, and in the corners helped Miami to 18 wins and an over .500 record his sophomore season. When Blasi was a junior, the RedHawks wrote “Respect everyone. Fear no one.” on the wall and someone penciled in “The Brotherhood” next to the mantra. The team won their first Central Collegiate Hockey Association Championship in 1992-93. Gwozdecky remembers the championship, and he remembers how Blasi wasn’t the super star, nor the fastest, nor the biggest player, but he had the highest hockey IQ and the biggest heart. “When you see me frustrated, for me, it’s always about working a little bit harder and that’s something that you can control,” Blasi said. “When guys are not doing what they’re supposed to out of effort, to me, that’s not acceptable.” *** Miami starts the second period with a carry-over power play from the first, and Blasi stands behind
the bench, resting his left foot on it, his elbow on his knee and his chin in his hand. He stays that way for a minute before shaking his head at the unsuccessful power play. Blasi’s hands shift to his pockets after five minutes and, after WMU scores again, Blasi leans back and purses his lips, eyebrows pulling together only slightly. And, he thinks, Let’s get it back. Blasi’s quiet again until the Broncos take too long to complete a line change for a faceoff in front of the Miami bench. “Hey,” Blasi calls to the ref, “Is that a warning?” Though Blasi’s frustrated with the play, he hopes his chirping at the ref gets the guys going. Most of the time, he’s angry with the officials and lets them know it, but tonight he hopes his anger shows his players he refuses to quit. Other times, Blasi’s silence is more powerful. Larkin comes up with a big save with just over 13 minutes to go and Blasi says nothing, rubs his face and steps off the bench. Two more WMU goals silence Blasi and seat the RedHawks, leaving only four players to stand watching the play with five minutes left in the peTHE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
“I was definitely not the No. 1 choice, and I knew that.”
riod. A big hit pulls everyone to their feet and Blasi back on top of the bench three minutes later, but the 5-0 score forces players back to their seats and Blasi back to leaning against the boards. The five goals against quiets the locker room during the intermission, and Blasi’s speech about the Xs and Os is short. No music plays, but players fill the air with words of encouragement for each other: “Win this period.” “Lots of time.” “Don’t fucking quit boys, let’s win this period.” *** Blasi and his teammates consider themselves the class that turned Miami hockey around, but the minor professional leagues didn’t care, especially during the 1994 NHL lockout. Players fell from the NHL to the minor leagues taking spots that might have belonged to Blasi, hindering his opportunity to play professionally. Blasi called Gwozdecky, his youth coach and his parents and decided to return to Toronto to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. A nine-to-five job inputting series into Excel for his uncle, Blasi quickly learned, wasn’t it. 47 THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
“I thought, ‘This is awful, I can’t do this the rest of my life,’” Blasi said. “‘This thing sucks – it’s boring, you can only drink so much coffee a day, you’re looking at the clock waiting for an hour to go by so you can get home and do something you like.’” He liked coaching the Wexford Raiders in the evening, and Gwozdecky, then the head coach at the University of Denver, continued to recruit from the team. When he was in town, he got lunch with Blasi and propositioned him: “Have you ever thought about going to grad school?” “I don’t know if I’m smart enough to go to grad school,” Blasi said, only half serious. “Why don’t you come to Denver?” Gwozdecky asked. “We’ll get you into grad school and you can be our volunteer. We’ll take care of the schooling, and we’ll give you a stipend and you can be the graduate assistant.” “OK,” Blasi didn’t hesitate. Blasi broke the news to his incredulous parents – “Are you crazy? You’ve got no money. What are you going to do?” – packed his bags, and set off for Denver. The new job wasn’t a nine-to-five, but Blasi no longer found himself staring at the clock, wishing the hours to tick faster. Blasi still knew Gwozdecky as “Coach,” and
“Coach” assigned him to work with goalies for his first year. “I had no idea what I was doing,” Blasi said. “I just tried to call everybody I knew who was a goalie and tried to learn as much as I could.” Though Blasi was largely inexperienced, his player attributes and communication skills translated to his early coaching style and made him a top assistant coach candidate after one of Gwozdecky’s assistant coaches left. Blasi became Gwozdecky’s new assistant coach, quit his master’s program and started recruiting. “I did all that work that first year for nothing,” Blasi said and smiled wryly, “but I got a job out of it and three years later [Miami’s] job opened up.” Two years later, when Miami started looking for a new head coach before the 1999-2000 season, Blasi was far from a top candidate. Only 27 years old with three years of assistant-coaching under his belt, two coaches turned down the job and three others were interviewed before Miami seriously considered Blasi. “I was definitely not the No. 1 choice, and I knew that,” Blasi said. Getting the job was only half the battle. Getting coaches and players to work for the youngest coach in NCAA Division I hockey history was more arduous. “[I was] scared to death,” Blasi said. “I did a lot of things in those early years out of fear because I didn’t want to fail and didn’t want to let anybody down who took a chance on me.” Amidst negative recruiting, Blasi was conscious of how he talked, walked, skated and carried himself – wanting to model the culture he was trying to create. A culture the introvert wanted to keep solely Miami hockey’s. “If [staff] went to Kroger and someone asked how the team was, it was a generic answer,” Blasi said. “If they’re Uptown and somebody asked about someone, it was a generic answer. I didn’t want anybody to know what was going on in our program except our program.” The first year, Blasi’s inherited players struggled to listen to the 27 year old’s gameplan, and the team finished 13-20-3 and eighth in the 12-team conference standings. The second year: “We finished second [in the conference], and we probably shouldn’t have finished second, but we did,” Blasi said, then laughed. “So everyone’s thinking, ‘Oh geez, Rico’s really good now, right?’” Expectations hesitantly rose, but “The third year, we shit the bed,” Blasi said, then laughed again. “Right back in the tank.” During Blasi’s fourth year, he wrote “The Brotherhood” on the wall. His first recruiting class was juniors, and guys were starting to buy into what Blasi was selling. “We wanted to be different and how do we be different?” Blasi said. “To me, you create your own
brand. ‘The Brotherhood’ was creating our own brand.” But he didn’t define “The Brotherhood” quite yet. He waited three more seasons, until after the 2005-06 year, to define Miami hockey. *** Blasi gives the net to senior goaltender Jordan Uhelski for the third period, and 200 feet away and three minutes into the final period of the final home game of the season, sophomore forward Ben Lown scores. The bench jumps to their feet, and fans sing Miami’s fight song, though the players’ lackluster celebration on the ice matches the mood about the 5-1 score. Blasi’s forehead unfurrows minimally, and now he thinks, Let’s get another one. But the RedHawks wouldn’t and WMU would, commanding a 6-1 lead for the last game of the 2018-19 regular season. Fans lose interest and head for the exits, and Blasi only rocks onto his toes to see Miami’s occasional offensive-zone play. With one minute left to play, he calls for the seniors to stay on the ice for the remainder of the game, and the players breathe hard as the remaining fans cheer: “Thank you seniors.” Blasi listens, silent and thinking of what to say and how to get better. *** Before Blasi heard the cheers in the Steve “Coach” Cady Arena, he heard them in the old Goggin Arena where the RedHawks played their last season in “the old barn” in 2005-06. “You couldn’t write it any better,” Blasi said. “We were No. 1 in the country, won the league, the place was packed every night.” After his team played in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years, Blasi was ready to define “The Brotherhood.” The team was already calling themselves “The Brotherhood,” the players were bought into the mission, the vision and the processes of playing the game the right way. A leadership consultant visited Oxford and helped Blasi define the phrase: team dynamics, daily behaviors and accountability. The consultant recommended the phrase be trademarked and copyrighted, and so it was. “The Brotherhood,” which defined Blasi’s turnaround team of the early 1990s, came to define his culture as a head coach. The culture helped the team to another NCAA Tournament appearance, and the program’s first tournament win in 2006-07. So Blasi finally took a vacation. “Most people dream about beaches and vacation,” Blasi said. “I dream about what drill we’re THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
“I went from genius status to idiot status in about four years.” going to do tomorrow. It’s sad. It sucks,” Blasi said, but smiled. “It’s hard, but it’s also rewarding and fun. I don’t think I would be doing anything different, other than maybe being a barista at Starbucks. I don’t know how to do anything else.” Blasi met his wife, Susan, in Denver and they were engaged the summer after Rico took the job at Miami. They were married within the year and Susan was pregnant with their first daughter soon after. They didn’t take a family vacation for the first eight years in Oxford. “Athletics doesn’t stop,” Susan said. “They don’t recognize holidays. They don’t recognize evenings. He’s just always working. His boss would be over in the evenings, talking to him at eight o’clock at night and knocking on the door and showing up. It’s a crazy life.” Blasi’s two daughters, now 15 and 17 years old, help quell the craziness because, to them, he’s always been “Dad.” As they’ve gotten older, they’ve come to understand why “Dad” gets stopped uptown to chat about hockey, and they pick out his suits before game days. Except Blasi’s ties because, if a tie loses, Blasi refuses to wear it again that season. If the loss is bad enough, he won’t wear it ever again. As the years have gone on with many ties resigned to the back of the closet, Blasi has learned how to leave work at the rink. He goes to church at least twice a week. He recharges at home by walking Romeo, the family’s Havanese Poodle, or by attending his daughters’ cheerleading or soccer activities. And, he’ll sing Bon Jovi lyrics wrong. “In general, people don’t know that he’s really goofy,” Susan said. “The kids get a kick out of it, but I don’t think he shows that side to many other people. He’s singing around the house and always have the wrong lyrics to the song, but will always belt it out anyways. “Most people, when they think of him, they think he’s very serious and intense and they don’t get to see that side.” *** Post-game, Blasi sounds as exhausted as his players look, his voice dropping to deliver his com-
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ments. “How did we lose this one?” Blasi says quietly. “Think about that on Monday [at practice]. Do things we’re supposed to do. You’re gonna look back and it’ll bite you in the ass. The opportunity is now, we have a second season. You embarrassed us, our fans, on senior night.” *** After the Blasis’ vacation, the team went on an eight-year run marked by two conference championships, two conference tournament championships, seven NCAA Tournament appearances, two Frozen Four appearances and one National Championship appearance. “It was great up until 2015,” Blasi said. The 2014-15 season was the last time Miami hockey played in a national tournament and, for the first time in Blasi’s career, there were four consecutive seasons with more losses than wins. “When we lose, I suck,” Blasi said. Losing 20 years ago when he first led the program sucks just as much as it does now, and Blasi is still the same coach he was 20, 10 and five years ago – voice raised at practice, calling out a lackluster effort. “He’s more intense,” 2018-19 co-captain and senior forward Josh Melnick said. “He holds guys accountable a lot more than any other coach I’ve had. Sometimes that’s like getting on them and yelling.” Fellow co-captain, senior Grant Hutton chimed in to say, “People don’t realize it’s a care-level thing, it’s not just like he’s yelling to yell or just getting mad to get mad.” “He’s yelling because he cares,” Melnick said. “It’s easy to overlook that, like, ‘Oh, here’s this guy yelling at his guys,’” Hutton said. Blasi is aware. “I think I’m sometimes hard to play for,” Blasi said. “I always tell our recruits when I meet with them: ‘I’m a hard guy to play for, but I’m also an easy guy to play for. I’m a hard guy to play for if you don’t do the things you’re supposed to be doing because that really irritates me. That’s my pet peeve: when you don’t do something that’s expected of you because of lack of effort, not necessarily lack of execution, but because of lack of effort and focus.
“‘Those are things you can’t take for granted. That’s on you. You manage your own thoughts. I can’t be in your head. If you can’t bring those two to the table, then you’re going to have a tough time with me, I don’t have the time of day for you and I’m going to be upset. But if you do those things, you and I are going to get along great.’ I think that’s why I’m an easy coach to play for.” Last year, after three consecutive losing seasons and a last place finish in the conference, Blasi reevaluated. He hired new assistant coaches, needing them to recruit players that matched his passion, his intensity. He named Melnick and Hutton co-captains. He started playing “Orange-Lemon” again – a shootout game where the winner eats an orange and the loser sucks on a lemon. His practices, still punctuated with a raised voice and accountability, included silly calls of “bend your knees,” “looping’s for losers” and “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” But, Blasi still likes to win and doesn’t take losing “Orange-Lemon” lightly. “He was pissed,” Hutton said. “I think he didn’t want to talk to anybody. He was legitimately mad. It was supposed to be fun and games, but he was not happy.” ***
Post-game, players don’t have cool downs. They leave their “Earn the ‘B’” workout shirts in their locker room stalls, leaving the “Coach” Cady Arena in suits, seeking solace with their family members. Why, after 20 years, is the program back to “earning the ‘B’”? “I feel like our program’s at a point where we’ve forgotten what this is all about,” Blasi said on March 11, two days after the Senior Night loss. “So that’s my effort to start to implement the new culture of ‘why are you here?’ of earning ‘The Brotherhood,’ earning to be a part of this.” Blasi, seated in “The Champions Room” purposefully glanced around. “It’s a special thing. You’ve got to earn it. It’s not a god-given right. It’s not like you were born into it. You have to work for it. We’re getting better at it. We’re not there yet.” Blasi pauses. “It didn’t work, huh?” Blasi said and smiled wryly. “Nothing worked this year. I went from genius status to idiot status in about four years.” *** Ten days later Miami hockey announced they fired Blasi after 20 years with the program. Saturday March 9 was Blasi’s last day coaching “The Brotherhood” on gameday in Oxford, Ohio.
THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
Grief ’s Many Faces
how tragedy can shape your true self by Tim Carlin illustrations by Alissa Martin
This story is dedicated to four of the strongest women I’ve ever known.
he crisp February breeze ran up my back. The thin bare branches of the trees hanging overhead swayed freely. Under normal circumstances, the cold air would have made me shiver and shrug deeper into my coat. But that day, I didn’t move, like a stone statue standing unaffected by its surroundings. I didn’t wear a coat either. I left it in my car. Partly by mistake, but also in part because I hoped the cool air would make me feel something other than the numbness that had overtaken my body during the past week. As I stood in the stark cemetery on that cold Sunday morning, watching a machine lower my friend’s casket deeper and deeper into the ground, my emotions were so jumbled that I felt almost nothing. This was the second of three funerals I attended over the course of my junior year of high school. They say death comes in threes, and God do I wish They would shut the fuck up sometimes. First, I lost my grandma in August, right before the start of the school year. Cancer. The entire summer, I had to watch her deteriorate into a shell of the strong Jewish woman who I once knew. My mom, who stayed by her own mother’s side until the very end, told me to stay away when things got really bad. She said I should remember my grandma the way she used to be. I wish I’d listened to her. While I do remember the good things, like the way she’d apply fresh lipstick and then quickly press her lips into a tissue, wiping away most of the stain, I also remember the horrible details of the 51 THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
bitter end. How my grandma couldn’t walk. Then she couldn’t talk. Then she couldn’t move at all. I didn’t cry during my grandma’s funeral. I hated crying. I thought it made me weak. I saved my tears for those lonely nights when there was nothing left to do but cry. As summer turned into fall, I compartmentalized my feelings and focused on the school year ahead. I knew junior year was crucial to get into college, and I needed to be on top of my game. And for the most part, I was. My grades were great, I was an active member of student government, National Honor Society and the yearbook staff. Most importantly, I was happy. I thought I had moved on from my grandma’s death, and I was ready to take the second half of my high school experience by storm. Then, in the late evening hours of Valentine’s Day, Alec died. We weren’t best friends by any stretch, but we had been in classes together since elementary school. We first met while playing on the same little league baseball team. I was, and still am, not an athlete. Sports just aren’t my thing. But no matter how many times I messed up, Alec always encouraged me to keep trying. I don’t have any memories of him without a smile plastered on his face. That smile lit up a room. As I slept, the news started creeping its way around Snapchat, through private iMessages and over the soundwaves of late night phone calls until it ended up in my inbox.
I saw my emotions falling away, and a cold, empty look taking their place.
“Tonight made me realize that life is too short for me not to tell you that I love you,” read the text message on my phone. “I love you too bitch!” I responded, not knowing the context of the message. “So I guess you haven’t heard…” “Heard what?” “About Alec? He died last night.” A pit formed in my stomach, and it felt like the air had been sucked from my lungs. “That’s not funny. Don’t joke like that,” was all I could write back. My mind wouldn’t let me believe that someone so young, only seven months older than myself, could die so suddenly.
But it happened. Kids cried in the hallways. Counselors and other administrators watched us, trying their best to console students during such a traumatic time. As the weekend and numerous memorial activities approached, emotions ran high. As I pulled into my driveway after school on the Friday after Alec died, I heard my mom’s voice from my backyard. I walked around the side of our house and found her playing fetch with my dog. I entered through the back gate to greet her, but as soon as our eyes connected, I knew something was wrong. “What is it?” I asked her flatly. I was so on edge
THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
I was grieving for ever yone and ever ything I’d lost in the last eight months...
from the week’s events that I felt the same pit forming in my stomach before she had time to respond. “Aunt Mugs died last night. She had a heart attack,” my mom said, choking back tears. I saw the rest of that moment play out in front of me like a scene from a movie. I saw my mom crying. I saw my dog looking at her with a wagging tail. But most importantly, I saw my own face. I saw my emotions falling away, and a cold, empty look taking their place. In that moment, I felt nothing. “Ok,” I responded. “I’ve had a really long week. I’m gonna go take a nap.” I saw my mom’s confusion to the starkness of my reaction. She never questioned it, but I saw fear in her eyes. Fear that I’d never feel anything again. And honestly, I was afraid too. I cried sporadically throughout the weekend leading up to Alec’s funeral, but the numbness that took over my body on Friday remained. At the end of Alec’s funeral, after most of the adults had left for their cars and returned to their lives, a lot of my classmates stood at the gravesite sharing embraces, memories, laughs and tears. After what somehow felt like both an eternity and a single moment, we all decided it was time to go. We began giving hugs and saying our goodbyes. The last person I hugged before leaving was my friend Amy. We weren’t that close, but she was a year older, extremely involved at school and someone who I looked up to. She walked up to me, looked me in the eyes and
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asked me such a simple question. “How are you doing?” I broke down into tears. I pulled Amy into a deep hug and sobbed in her arms. “It’s just not fair,” I repeated over and over through my sobs. It wasn’t fair that my grandma died so painfully. It wasn’t fair that such a bright boy had his life taken before he could even reach his prime. It wasn’t fair that my aunt spent her last moments alone. It wasn’t fair that at 16 years old, I lost two family members, a friend and my youth. But in that moment of total despair, I realized that I was feeling again. I was feeling anger, sadness and pain. I was grieving. I was grieving for everyone and everything I’d lost in the last eight months right there in the middle of that cemetery. But after my moment with Amy, my grief didn’t go away. I was still sad, and I was still in pain. But I was also acknowledging those feelings. My friends and I started having honest conversations about our emotions. On one of the many late nights we spent sharing memories of Alec, I opened up about the pain of losing my grandma and aunt at the same time. I didn’t cry when talking about my losses that night. I actually felt a sense of relief that those closest to me knew about my struggles. I’ve always been a talkative person. At every parent-teacher conference, and next to the letter
...right there in the middle of that cemeter y. grades on all my report cards, my teachers commented about my ‘chattiness’. While grieving, my chattiness was still unwavering. I used my words to understand what I was feeling. I would talk through the happy times, as well as the sad ones. I needed to do something to make sense of what it meant to truly grieve. At first, it was hard for me to make sense of all the emotions attached to my grief, but Alec’s mom unknowingly served as my guide. She’s very active on Facebook. She wrote that grief is not something that goes away. It will always be a part of you, and over time, you’ll learn to grow around the pain. This sentiment changed my entire outlook on grief. At the start, I looked at it as a single emotion that needed to be felt and then put away. But that’s not what grief is. Grief is an experience — and a transformative one at that. It shapes you in more ways than you can count. It changes the way you feel things. It changes the way you love others and yourself. Grief is not mentioning the names of those I lost because it hurt too much. Grief is the bravery of finally opening up about my feelings to my friends. Grief is enjoying the holidays with family while silently knowing there will always be two empty seats at our table. Grief is the painful pricks that become less frequent with time but still make me bleed when they hit. After the initial grief, my life entered into a time
of firsts. My first math class without Alec sitting one row over. My first family gathering without my grandma and aunt present. My first birthday without cheesy cards filled with my grandma’s lengthy notes or my aunt’s perfect cursive. With each new first, I would feel another prick. Each one reminding me of the journey I was forced to take, and how it would be one that lasts a lifetime. As the years progressed, firsts became seconds and thirds, and the pricks of each pivotal moment without the ones I lost became less painful. I still see Alec’s smile; I still hear my aunt’s bolstering laugh; I still feel my grandma’s warm embrace. But when these memories wash over me like soft waves, the sharp pricks are accompanied by another emotion: gratitude to have known them at all.
THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
7 S 8 9
10 11 12
University by this many points when they played each other in football. 16. Name of the dog who was the victim of animal abuse charges. 17. Malfunctions of this outdoor equipment on campus sparked the creation sparked the creation of a Twitter account. 20. According to a police report in October, someone found his car covered in this substance. 21. Oxford has a program that donates this animal’s meat to the Community Meal Center. 22. Hueston Woods festival that celebrated its 55th year this fall.
9. Miami students marched in the Global ____ Strike in September. 12. Name of Phyllis Callahan’s successor in Roudebush Hall. 14. Former “Saturday Night Live” writer who drew crowds
DOWN 1. Miami alumna Caroline Grace Williams was coronated with this title in June. 2. Recently-opened Uptown spot for gamers. 3. Holiday marking the beginning of the Hindu New Year. 5. This October-style pasta, created by a former TMS editor-in-chief, is a nostalgic entree for our managing editor. 6. Last name of the Miami alum who was on the winning World Series team. 7. Name of the alum who took over Miami’s hockey program after Blasi’s 20-year run.
55 THE MIAMI STUDENT MAGAZINE, FALL 2019
at Millett Hall on Family Weekend. 18. ____ Marching Arts, a nonprofit created by a Miami firstyear, lets students with special needs play an instrument and perform in a marching band.
19. “Korean Thanksgiving,” typically celebrated in September. Think you’ve solved it? Go to miamistudent.net/ mag-crossword to check your answers.
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ACROSS 4. Miami’s chapter of the Miami’s chapter of the fraternity Delta Tau Delta was suspended for this many years after the university conducted a hazing investigation. 6. Joining newcomer Bracken and local-politics veteran Snavely, this Oxford City Council incumbent was re-elected to the office. 8. Four men on Miami’s golf team share this first name. 10. Due to bankruptcy of other franchises, Scotty’s Brewhouse changed its name to ____ Brewhouse. 11. Last name of the New York Times bestselling author of “Between Shades of Grey” who visited Oxford in October. 13. ASG is advocating for this “drink” at bars Uptown to help those in uncomfortable situations. 14. Theresa Martinez, owner of a food truck that’s a favorite in the Oxford community, is better known by this moniker. 15. Miami lost to Ohio State
Have you been keeping up with this semester’s news? We’ve crammed facts from 22 of the school year’s top stories into this crossword.
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