northwestern NORTH BY
“What did you stress eat during the election?”
an entire bag of Reese’s holiday trees
PRINT STAFF EDITORIAL
PRINT MANAGING EDITOR Michael Korsh ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR Elise Hannum SENIOR FEATURES EDITORS Sylvia Goodman, Gabby Rabon, Isaac Sultan so many cookies SENIOR SECTION EDITORS Niki Amir, Emily Cerf, Rachel Schonberger ASSISTANT FEATURES EDITORS Maggie Galloway, Jenna Greenzaid chips & guac ASSOCIATE EDITORS Ethan Shanfeld, Annie Cao, Teresa Nowakowski, Nathan Ansell ASSISTANT EDITORS Sarah Meadow, Eva Herscowitz, Emma Chiu, Grace Snelling DIRECTOR OF FACT-CHECKING Jennifer Zhan chocolate MAG-TO-WEB EDITOR David Deloso Pocky sticks
Whole Foods brown butter cookies
hint of lime Tostitos
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Maren Kranking ASSISTANT CREATIVE DIRECTOR Cynthia Zhang ART DIRECTOR Alisa Gao PHOTO DIRECTOR Carly Menker DESIGNERS Emma Estberg, Andrew Kwa, an unfortunate Juntang Qian, Sooim Kang, S. Kelsie Yu amount of Chipotle
WRITERS Rayna Song, Ilana Arougheti, Karen Reyes, Aliyah Armstrong, Olivia Alexander, Anna Margevich, Gabrielle Nadler, Tessa Paul, Allison Arguezo, Lydia Rivers, Allison Rhee, Pallas Gutierrez, Hannah Hall, Onyekaorise Chigbogwu, Olivia Evans, Trent Brown, Christine Potermin, Matt Weiss, Joseph Ramos, Julietta Thron, Frankie Lucco, Lalla-Aicha Adouim, Ellie Eimer FACT-CHECKERS Rayna Song, Sarah Aie, Brendan Le, Paul Kim, Audrey Hettleman, Joseph Ramos, Maddie Kerr, Julietta Thron, Russell Leung NABJ CONSULTING EDITOR Ellisya Lindsey
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David Deloso’s homemade cookies
anything EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Maya Mojica sweet I EXECUTIVE EDITOR Giovana Gelhoren could find in MANAGING EDITORS Eugenia Cardinale, Sophia Lo, the pantry Amy Ouyang ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITORS Olivia Lloyd, Totino’s pizza rolls Madison Smith, Gia Yetikyel, Grace Deng
POLITICS EDITOR Gabrielle Nadler and Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut NEWS EDITOR Shannon Coan butter cups CREATIVE WRITING EDITOR Ilana Arougheti FEATURES EDITORS Cadence Quaranta, Ryan Kim SPORTS EDITORS Coop Daley, Jordan Landsberg LIFE & STYLE EDITORS Melissa Santoyo, like 40 clementines Teresa Nowakowski OPINION EDITORS Shruti Rathnavel, Melanie Lust ENTERTAINMENT EDITORS Bailey Richards, Linda Shi SCIENCE & TECH EDITORS Yahan Chen, Annie Cao way too much AUDIO EDITORS Prabhav Jain, Mia Mamone sparkling water PHOTO & VIDEO EDITORS Lami Zhang, Ika Qiao GRAPHICS EDITOR Kylie Lin INTERACTIVES EDITORS David Deloso, Stephanie Zhu
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER Jordan Hickey GRAPHICS COORDINATOR Kylie Lin TIKTOK MANAGER Madison Smith
a large bag of Funyuns, objectively the world’s most disgusting but delicious chips Nutella
a lot of bread with butter
PUBLISHER Tina Huang DIRECTOR OF AD SALES Hannah Song Jeni’s gooey butter DIRECTOR OF MARKETING Vivian Xia cake ice cream WEBMASTER Beck Dengler IDENTITIES EDITORS Laurisa Sastoque, Ika Qiao WELLNESS CHAIR Jayna Kurlender FUNDRAISING CHAIR A.V. Vo DIRECTOR OF RECRUITMENT & DEVELOPMENT Clarissa Wong an entire bag of Dove chocolate DIRECTOR OF TALENT David Deloso
COVER DESIGN & ILLUSTRATION BY MAREN KRANKING
5 PREGAME 16 DANCEFLOOR 35 FEATURES 35
TALK OF THE TOWN Addressing the ongoing pandemic has further strained relations between Northwestern students and Evanston residents.
SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS Online anonymity has empowered Northwestern students to take on the institutions they’ve seen fail them.
UNPOLICED The complicated network of policing on Northwestern’s campus stalls meaningful change.
A TALE OF TWO NORTHWESTERNS The sudden decision to send half of Northwestern’s student body home created a socioeconomic rift on campus.
52 PHOTO STORY 52
STUFFED WITH LOVE Northwestern students find a sense of comfort in their plush companions.
DEAR READERS: Do you remember the “This is fine” meme? The 2013 webcomic from artist KC Green depicts a fedora-clad dog sitting in a chair, delivering the namesake line as the room is engulfed in flames around him. I’m not sure Green realized how prophetic his comic would be seven years later. But as we endure our ninth month of the COVID-19 pandemic, I find myself thinking constantly about that dog: his repose, his blissful smile, his simple acceptance of impending doom. How does he do it?
Family-friendly comfort food with a tw
A fast, healthy dining experience located just across Life as we it has changed overGym the show! Join usknow before or fundamentally after your next Actors course of this year. A global pandemic. A long-awaited national reckoning on race and identity. A presidential Hoursthat could alter the course of our future. These election flames have Closed especially affected college campuses like Monday: ours, which have become both hot-spots of COVID-19 Sunday, Tuesday - Thursday: 11 AM- 9 PM cases and hotbeds of impactful student activism.
Friday & Saturday: 11 AM - 10 PM
This fall, our dedicated team of writers, editors, designers, fact-checkers and more have committed themselves us forsomething happy hour Tuesday - Friday: 4 -as6 to Join publishing I know will one day serve a powerful account of these historic times. In Pregame and Hangover, they’ve somehow managed to find the 824 Noyes St, Evanston, IL 60201 light amid the darkness — like a chair that united a firstyear class that’s never met one another and a hilarious parallel timeline for 2020. In Dance Floor, they’ve refused to back down from the nuance and complexities facing our campus, including the symbolic defiance of Black joy and the Abolish Greek Life movement’s unforeseen consequences for Evans Scholars. Each of our four Features takes a deep dive into how the flames engulfing our nation, from the police to the pandemic, have reached our school.
Family-friendly comfort food with a twist! A fast, healthy dining experience located just across the street. Join us before or after your next Actors Gym show!
We’ve even pushed the boundaries of what our magazine is, means and does. Our digital exclusive project, Unmasked, is producing incredible watchdog journalism about Northwestern’s response to COVID-19. Our joint diversity report with NBN’s online team is taking a much-needed look into why and how our staff doesn’t always reflect the community we cover. NBN 101, our virtual workshop program for first-year students, has built a community where we thought it was impossible and trained a new generation of magazine staff.
Join us for happy hour Tuesday - Friday: 4 - 6 PM
Some way, somehow, Northwestern students are managing to once again sit in our chairs and say to the world, “This is fine.” Here at North by Northwestern, our staff has gone beyond “fine.” I’m so honored and proud to have served as Print Managing Editor these past two quarters. I know that dog would surely be proud of us, too — had his face not melted off a few panels later.
824 Noyes St, Evanston, IL 60201
Hours Monday: Closed Sunday, Tuesday - Thursday: 11 AM- 9 PM Friday & Saturday: 11 AM - 10 PM
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YOU MIGHT WANT TO SIT DOWN FOR THIS ONE.
CASTAWAYS ON CAMPUS
A PAIR OF PANDEMICS 10 AUDIENCE OF NONE 12 PHOTO BY CARLY MENKER
OR BEST OFFER 14 PREGAME
You might want to sit down for this one. The chair-itable cause that brought the Class of 2024 together.
WRITTEN BY EMMA CHIU // DESIGNED BY S. KELSIE YU
$475 lamp. A $500 Willie the Wildcat bobblehead. And then, the $549.98 “Captains Chair Silk Screen Black With Cherry Arms.” At first, the idea of crowdfunding the dull, overpriced chair from the Northwestern University bookstore was just part of a running joke. Incoming firstyears, bored in quarantine, passed the time by sharing links to expensive merch in the Class of 2024 GroupMe. But things got serious in late May, when Weinberg first-year Collin Porter set up a GoFundMe to actually buy the chair. “Northwestern’s incoming Class of 2024 has united with a common goal: to purchase one of these fabulous bookstore chairs and keep it as not only a communal symbol of the unique class, but also as a tradition to hopefully pass down to freshmen for years to come,” reads the fundraiser’s description. The cause, while unconventional, was wildly successful: Within three
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days, the first-year class met the fundraising goal of $600. Students also worked on side projects, including chair-related Redbubble stickers, a website and a “Chair Constitution” complete with a preamble and four articles. In a new GroupMe called “The Freshman Chair,” more than 100 students discussed how to organize the growing movement. Eventually, they split into various subcommittees including “publicity,” “government” and “chair fitness” (or transportation). Then, in light of the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, members of the group chat changed their minds. Just before the GoFundMe reached $600, they decided to donate the funds to charity. “I actually did not donate money to the chair initially because I felt like it was silly,” says Communication first-year Amy Reyes-Gomez. “But once we changed it to actually giving the money to a charity, I felt more comfortable.”
Still, some felt disappointed that the class would not receive the physical chair. So, ReyesGomez emailed President Morton Schapiro to ask him if he would donate it. In a brief response sent 30 minutes later, Schapiro wrote, “Great idea! Consider the chair donated. Please redirect the money you raised to a worthy cause.” After hearing that the Office of the President would cover the chair’s entire cost, the group chat organized Zoom meetings to decide where to donate the GoFundMe money. According to Porter, the largest meeting had upward of 40 attendees. “A big thing that we wanted to highlight was representing everybody who donated,” Porter says. “We didn’t want anybody to be upset that their donation was going to something that they didn’t want.” Meeting attendees proposed various charities, many of which focused on COVID-19 or the Black Lives Matter movement. By early July, the group had donated a total of $810 to My Block, My Hood, My City’s small business relief fund, which supports small Chicago businesses dealing with the impact of COVID-19 and damages from protests. “We tried to compromise, and I’m very proud of where our money went,” says Weinberg
first-year Carolyne Geng, who attended the meetings and helped decide where the group would donate. “I’m super impressed how Northwestern’s Class of 2024 has turned a chair into something much bigger than itself.” Recently, the group was approved to be an official student organization. They
“It’s one of those things that you could imagine becoming a potentially deeprooted tradition for freshman classes,” Porter says. The chair has already had a large impact on those involved, who describe bonding over their connection to the virtual cause. “I’ve formed so many friendships,” says Medill first-year April Li, who joined multiple chair subcommittees. “The entire Class of “We were all ‘24 has found a lot searching for some of closeness online, because that’s the only purpose, even way that we’ve been something as able to communicate … meaningless as We were all searching for some purpose, raising money for an even something as extremely expensive meaningless as raising money for an extremely chair.” expensive chair.” - April Li, Given the group’s Medill first-year success so far, McCormick first-year Avery Schwartz, who worked on developing hope to continue fundraising the chair’s website, is and hold chair-related events optimistic about their future such as a series of games fundraising efforts as a student dubbed the “Chair Olympics,” organization. “Before, we were though these plans are on hold just having fun, but now we’re due to remote learning. trying to spread the positive Once the chair arrives, impact outward,” Schwartz it will be kept in the Office says. “If we can achieve raising of Institutional Diversity $600 for a chair that, truthfully, and Inclusion or in student none of us needed, then dorms. At the end of the imagine what we could do for school year, it will be passed a much more wholesome or down to Northwestern’s new generous purpose.” incoming class.
STORYTELLING & MESSAGES
Revisiting a former dean’s plan for the future. WRITTEN BY RAYNA SONG DESIGNED BY MAREN KRANKING
single question drove John Lavine, former dean of the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, for his entire professional career: how to help people become better informed with quality information. His answer? A plan called “Medill 2020.” When Lavine became Medill’s dean in 2006, he envisioned a school where stories, media and audience would intersect to create relevant and differentiated storytelling that engages the audience. The “Medill 2020” plan took future changes, including audience fragmentation and digitization, into consideration.
AUDIENCE & CONSUMERS’ UNDERSTANDING & ENGAGEMENT
to tell really strong stories is still really important,” Wolter says. An important MEDIA & CHANNELS component of “Medill OF INTERACTION 2020” was that students would have more knowledge of audience and consumer understanding. By 2020, elements RELEVANT, DIFFERENTIATED of audience understanding STORYTELLING & MESSAGES have been integrated into some THAT ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE journalism courses. Now, Medill fourth-year Benjamin integrated into the first classes Rosenberg says his Philosophy of students take at Medill, he says. Modern Journalism course focused In addition to curricular changes, heavily on audience engagement. “Medill 2020” emphasized different He adds that professor Rachel Davis forms of storytelling. In the past, Mersey helped students understand media mainly operated in separate, vertical sectors, Lavine says. “It was rare for a print journalist to carry a camera and know how to take an engaging photo,” Lavine says. “The reverse was also true. Photographers or moviemakers seldom wrote text stories.” JOHN LAVINE, former dean of the Medill School of Journalism, Media, IMC Lavine considered this division To Lavine, audience insight was the importance of keeping in touch a challenge and an opportunity crucial to establishing trust and with readers. to embrace different forms of engagement with media outlets. “Journalism really doesn’t have storytelling and communication. “The most precious thing to much of a purpose if you are not During his time as dean, some the media … is the time of your paying attention to what [readers] Medill professors participated in audience. If the audience doesn’t are reading and how they are a faculty class, which Wolter says give you a minute of their time, interacting with your content,” featured speakers who focused on whatever you created didn’t Rosenberg says. the future of the media industry. happen,” Lavine says. Medill professor Jack Doppelt, “[Lavine] wanted Medill to Medill professor Patti Wolter, who has been with Medill since come out of the print-centered who has been at Northwestern 1986, says audience research era into the digital-centered era,” since 2002, says Lavine’s plan has become a core part of the Doppelt says. “We were way ahead revolved around the audience. student curriculum. Audience of the game in relation to other “I personally believe that storytelling understanding revolves around journalism schools, and even is the heart of [journalism], and knowing and addressing the newsrooms, about moving to both teaching techniques that allow people audience. The concept is now digital and multimedia.”
The most precious thing to the media
is the time of your audience.
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WRITTEN BY RACHEL SCHONBERGER // DESIGNED BY JUNTANG QIAN
Castaways on campus
people who I’ve worked with specifically, I think of them as so much more than allies.” Season 1 castaway and Season 2 casting director Sami DeVries left her season with a ride-or-die friendship with Boyd. The two second-year theatre majors bonded over their similarities, aligning from the beginning. “I love my friends outside of Survivor, but there's something really special about the bonds that I have with the people that I met on Survivor that I can't really get other places,” DeVries says. In casting the second season, DeVries aimed for a group that represented the diverse interests and identities of Northwestern students. “We wanted lots of different people with lots of different personalities that would mesh well together but not mesh too well together,” says DeVries. “Whenever we would read applications, we would decide what archetype this person could fill.” Since the show is not yet a registered student organization, the team has been fundraising and spending out-of-pocket. As Knoer and other production team members watch Season 2 unfold, they already plan to film Season 3 in the winter and continue growing the organization. “Being a part of the inaugural cast is something that is really special to me because I do see this being present for years to come,” Knoer says. “To be part of that first group is really powerful.”
Eighteen contestants. One sole survivor.
chosen group of Northwestern contestants compete in a game of strategy, strength and wit until one sole survivor remains on Zoom. Although they weren’t cast away on a deserted island like contestants on the CBS reality show Survivor, these students resolved to outlast one another through social, mental and physical competitions. Now, Survivor Northwestern is filming its second season, with former and current castaways hoping it quickly becomes a campus mainstay. Communication second-year Kylie Boyd unsuccessfully applied to the CBS show before joining Survivor Northwestern as a Season 1 castaway and current Season 2 co-host. “Playing on campus absolutely prepared me if I ever end up on the real show,” Boyd says. “The level of gameplay on our season, I will confidently say, was higher than some of the seasons of actual Survivor.” The production consists of students vlogging their strategic conversations and competing in weekly virtual challenges to form powerful alliances and win safety from elimination. Last year, Class of 2020 alumnus Chase Reed was the show's only producer, which delayed the first season release to a potential fall 2021 premiere. To improve the efficiency and quality of production, 11 students and alumni formed an official production team for Season 2. “When you're watching it on TV, there are so many question marks because the editing team is crafting a story where each of the cast fits a narrative,” says Season 2 Executive Producer and Weinberg fourth-year Carson Knoer. “I'm really excited to get the opportunity with Season 2 to be on the other side and craft those stories and craft those narratives for the whole new batch of castaways.” The move to remote classes interrupted Knoer’s experience on Season 1, which began in January. Still, challenges and gameplay continued virtually. “Survivor Northwestern was a godsend,” says Knoer. “It gave me the opportunity to reach out and connect with people consistently online from home in a way that my other student orgs did not.” In March, fellow Season 1 castaway Matthew Albert turned to his Survivor community when the coronavirus hit his hometown of New Rochelle, New York. After the SESP third-year’s father contracted the virus, Albert was confined to his bedroom. “All that I had to brighten up my days was Survivor,” Albert says. “When I reflect on my season, and the
A pair of pandemics WRITTEN BY KAREN REYES //
DESIGNED BY CYNTHIA ZHANG
How Northwestern dealt with health crises, a century apart.
or the second time in Northwestern University’s history, the words “pandemic” and “quarantine” have become part of students’ common vernacular. The last time students were social distancing was over a century ago, during the 1918 flu epidemic that came to the Chicago area near the end of World War I. Initially, they hoped to overcome the flu and return to normal student life within weeks, much like students did in March after Northwestern shut down. Since March 2020, Cook County cases of COVID-19 have risen to 231,462 out of a population of 5.15 million as of November 12, 2020, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University. This 4.5% rate is higher than that of 1918, when approximately 38,000 of the 2.4 million people in Chicago (about 1.6%) were infected with the flu. NBN explores the similarities and differences in Northwestern’s response to these pandemics and the way student life changed in both 1918 and 2020.
Student Life In 1918, The Northwestern Weekly, now known as The Daily Northwestern, published a variety of articles that highlighted how Northwestern handled the impacts of influenza on student life. Students resumed in-person classes after only a few weeks but continued without scheduled student trips, events with University President Holgate or “quiet and ladylike gatherings of co-eds.” On the other hand, 2020
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Northwestern has maintained remote learning since April 6. Of course, today, students can take classes from the safety of their homes or dorm rooms via Zoom. The luxury of today’s virtual platforms also allows students to attend dance rehearsals for Refresh, student organization dinners and even baking classes offered through Norris.
University Regulations Northwestern’s safety guidelines in 1918 “consist[ed] of ‘Thou shalt not’s,’ but also of some very definite ‘Thou shalt’s,’” according to The Northwestern Weekly. The Evanston health department at the time ordered that lists of rules be posted in each student’s room, including required reporting of symptoms and the prohibition of those with symptoms from going out in public. Dorms in 1918 were separated by gender, and the women’s dorm procedure demonstrates the required reporting: Female students had to report whether they felt any symptoms by 8 a.m. each day to the “preceptress” (similar to today’s faculty-inresidence) of their house. She would then report the findings to the dean of women. These rules were enforced with the cryptic yet convincing promise that “disobedience of these orders will be punished by measures which will insure [sic] obedience.” This threat is eerily close to the responsibility university officials placed on students this year to curb the spread of COVID-19. An Aug. 30 email from Provost Kathleen Hagerty threatened students
Big Ten Football
Testing availability plays the biggest role in the difference between Northwestern’s response to COVID-19 and the 1918 flu, particularly in terms of bringing back Big Ten football this year. The Big Ten Council initially postponed the season, but officials cited daily antigen testing as the main justification for continuing games. Quick test turnaround times and further confirmatory testing allow programs to identify infected individuals and prevent the spread of COVID-19. This approach is better than it was a century ago: Northwestern’s October 1918 schedule was “knocked out” partially because of the flu, but the season continued after a few weeks. The Department of War had a significant say in the matter, considering World War I was simultaneously going on, and announced that “the government favored the continuation of athletics on an even broader scale.”
Life in Evanston
violating University guidelines with suspension or expulsion and encouraged community members to report concerns about student behavior to the university. As a way of tracking the spread of the illness, students living in Evanston during fall quarter participate in weekly COVID-19 tests at the Jacobs Center. Students also received advice from The Daily about how to stay safe in a dorm and personalize their room with decor and furniture to make it more comfortable during quarantine.
Even with the advent of modern medicine and technology, it seems that today’s Evanston has struggled with the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, many restaurants and public spaces across the U.S. closed in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19, just as they did in Evanston in 1918. However, a week after the flu shutdowns, the city lifted quarantine restrictions, allowing trips to Chicago, theaters and the movies, among other establishments. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Only a month after that, on December 4, “Influenza is Back Again at University” ran on the front page of The Weekly. In May 2020, Evanston and other U.S. cities lifted quarantine restrictions on public establishments too soon, resulting in an almost immediate spike in cases. As a result, the City of Evanston provided tips for how to stay safe, including wearing a mask, not touching the eyes, mouth and nose, and washing your hands often. ILLUSTRATIONS BY CYNTHIA ZHANG PHOTOS FROM THE NORTHWESTERN WEEKLY
Students in performing arts are making the most of their socially distanced spaces. WRITTEN BY OLIVIA ALEXANDER DESIGNED BY ALISA GAO
his fall, as performing arts students moved into apartments, Airbnbs and condos, they set up their studios, pushed furniture aside and hung makeshift backdrops. A “really angsty version of [Taylor Swift’s] ‘Illicit Affairs’” blasts from a Cape Cod house shared by six Northwestern opera students this quarter. “You actually are catching a moment of peacefulness right now; there aren’t many times in the afternoon where there’s not singing in the house,” says Bienen secondyear McKenna Troy (which is, in part, due to their agreed-upon singing hours: from the time classes begin in the morning to 10 p.m.). It’s also not uncommon for these students to take classes together, gathering in the piano room for choir. When they’re not catching a Zoom call, the group makes TikToks, one of which made its way to For You page stardom. Although stereotypical, Troy says “watching Glee together is wonderful.”
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Bienen and Communication second-year Ranna Shahbazi also studies Vocal Performance with Opera, but she shares an Airbnb with three non-voice majors, who frequently imitate her singing rather than joining in. For second-years who don’t have access to practice space on campus this quarter, learning at home means practicing at home. Since Shahbazi says she works best at night, her three roommates say she “start[s] howling at 11:30.” One of Shahbazi’s roommates, Communication second-year Maggie Lezcano, says the opera student “brings a lot of laughs to the house.” According to Lezcano, Shahbazi’s instruction requires stomping, which “literally just sounds like there’s someone doing construction,” and watching full-fledged opera performances while the housemates are trying to eat dinner. Also in Evanston this quarter are SESP second-year Ben Finkelstein and his roommate, Communication
second-year Andy Hartman. Finkelstein says Hartman converted the living room into his ballet studio for the quarter, pushing the couch aside to make room for the barre he ordered. Since they signed their lease last-minute, the kitchen has frequent plumbing issues. Though Finkelstein doesn’t think twice about Hartman’s performing arts classes, he expected the plumber to when he arrived just as Hartman was warming up for ballet class. “It just looked like a scene out of a comedy show,” Finkelstein says. “You have the plumber making a ton of noise with all of his tools and everything in the kitchen, and he’s trying to dance in the living room … Then, in the end, he goes ‘Oh, sorry, were you doing something this whole time?’ It was just a mess.” In nearby Rogers Park, Medill first-year Madison Bruno shares an Airbnb with two theatre students, first-years Adelaide Ray Young and Kate Davis. Young, an aspiring screen actress, often films audition tapes. She moved a couch out of the office to make room for her equipment, saying, “just the theatre things,” when their landlord stopped by to see how the girls were settled in.
When Young prepares audition films, pulls out her backdrop and goes over her lines, everyone in the house takes part in the process. Additionally, Bruno says Young works on talents like gymnastics and skateboarding to boost her résumé. Bruno, a competitive cheerleader of eight years, often teaches Young a thing or two. Though Young keeps up her skills for the screen, Davis is more interested in musical theatre and is enrolled in Basic Acting. “I don’t know what is going on in that class; they just start with clapping every time and then we hear her just repeating like the same word over and over, which I’m assuming is an acting exercise,” Young says after imitating Davis’ applause. Bruno actually has a discussion section during just that class. “Every time I unmute, she’s making weird noises,” Bruno says, admitting that she’s given up speaking altogether. “I always have to be kind of in the loop of when she’ll be doing those classes because we have quizzes or tests, [and] they’re not the time to overlap them,” Young says. “Don’t fight it,” Bruno says about the experience. “Just take it in … and invest in some good headphones.”
PHOTO COURTESY OF MADISON BRUNO
Or best offer Free & For Sale @ Northwestern
Open group within Northwestern University · 18.6K members About
WRITTEN BY IIANA AROUGHETI // DESIGNED BY JUNTANG QIAN
Northwestern’s Free and For Sale Facebook page has become more than a marketplace.
he Northwestern Free and For Sale Facebook group is self-described in its bio as a place to “post shit to buy and sell.” When she joined the page this summer, Weinberg second-year Natalie Simbolon only used it to search for cheap used textbooks. However, months after purchasing an MCAT prep book for her boyfriend, Simbolon still entertains herself daily by scrolling through the page. “I enjoyed the fact that this isn't just like any other Free and For Sale page on Facebook,” says Simbolon. “Facebook is kind of a drag, so I appreciate the fact that because it was Northwestern students. People are funny and interesting.” Mark Schmid, John Albers and Eric Rubenstein founded the Northwestern Free and For Sale group as Northwestern undergraduates in April 2012. For the lucky 18,600 members who managed to get a friend to add them, a virtual flea market of used furniture, resold freebies and, increasingly, apartment sublets now lives rent-free on their social media feed.
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Some members take advantage of the group’s large audience to plug events or strange personal projects. (One recent post even invited female users to burp on camera for a stipend.) However, it’s much more typical to come across a post for an uncommon item: dusty Wii discs, designer clothes, a climbing tower for cats. SESP third-year Glory Aliu used the group to furnish almost her entire apartment and snag a summer sublet. Between the end of Spring Quarter and the beginning of Fall Quarter, Aliu purchased a $100 bed frame with a headboard, a $20 desk chair and a shower curtain, along with a free mattress and some fake plants. She also sold a coffee table. By comparison, the top-rated headboard bed frame on Amazon currently costs $300, and the current top-rated desk chair costs $80. The Free and For Sale Facebook group was not specifically built for real estate, but as students’ housing plans fluctuate during remote learning, lease listings make up a substantial chunk of page traffic. Since so many people are consistently engaged with the group,
it took Medill second-year Hannah Feuer less than a day to secure a fall quarter sublet. She started messaging users with sublet listings, hit it off with a pair of roommates on her second try and now lives comfortably in a four-bedroom off-campus apartment. She says posts from the group are now integrated into her main Facebook page, leading her to check out current listings about three times a week. “I'm not really looking to buy anything on it anymore, but it's kind of fun just to look at stuff people are selling,” says Feuer. At its best, the group creates a free market that lets students support each other’s financial needs. Aliu has seen two kinds of sellers: those whose goal is to just get old things out of their house and those who are trying to turn a legitimate profit. The former usually offer better discounts the faster you can show up to cart away heavy objects, or they might offer priority to first-generation, low-income (FGLI) students. One recent post by Weinberg fourth-year Abby Bridgemohan offered a “Free twin mattress to anyone who really needs it (low income, student loans, pandemic struggles, moving away from home etc).” Bridgemohan also made sure to check her Facebook messages from potential buyers without asking them to comment on the original post first, as is common for the page. She explained that this allows students to reach out for help without having to publicly discuss their socioeconomic status. Among sellers grasping for a profit, however, Aliu found that the summer demand from students moving to Evanston created a more competitive market. “It got really frantic because everybody decided they didn't want to live on campus anymore,” Aliu says. “There were a lot more people in the buying pool.” Most items are open to offers, so the more people interested, the higher bids climb. She suddenly had a hard time finding a desk and a couch and wound up purchasing them elsewhere. Feuer, Aliu and Simbolon all feel as though the group’s main draw is its by-students, for-students culture. To Aliu, this arrangement also creates safer interactions with student sellers. “When it’s student-run, I feel like you can hold people accountable more, and it’s less dangerous,” says Aliu. “We know that we're on the same campus. So if you do something really bad, you're going to gain a reputation on campus.” She and her roommates still check the page daily for cheap decor and houseplants. Simbolon added that even if she does have to get items shipped all the way out to her boyfriend’s Florida address to participate in the Free and For Sale group, she feels drawn to the social networking aspect of the group. The book she bought was $37 about the same price as a new copy, but Simbolon knew the previous owner, a fellow Family Ambassador for Wildcat Welcome. Even without saving money, there’s added value in putting your purchasing power back into a community of peers. “I feel like I put my faith in Northwestern students,” says Simbolon. “They are probably fine. They probably won't scam me.”
Buy and Sell
1999 Porsche Boxster: $11,000 Like · Reply
Child’s bike with training wheels: $50 Like · Reply
Clocks made out of vintage vinyl records: $5 Like · Reply
Harry Potter-themed STEM coding kit for kids: $49 Like · Reply
Stacked washer and dryer, if you can carry it out: $325 Like · Reply
TALK DATA TO ME
A POLL NEW WORLD
UP TO PAR? 26 SMILE, YOUâ€™RE ON CAMERA 28 RE: SILVER LININGS 30 PHOTO COURTESY OF E-D TADESE
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PHYSICALLY SAFE, INTELLECTUALLY DANGEROUS 32
WRITTEN BY TESSA PAUL DESIGNED BY EMMA ESTBERG
For Black Northwestern students, expressing joy is an act of defiance. Since the murder of George Floyd in May, the Black Lives Matter movement experienced a re-energized surge of protests, philanthropy and activism. Given the traumatizing nature of seeing blatant racism and discrimination across various news outlets and social media platforms, many Black students turned to artistic outlets to relieve this stress and create their own joy. Black joy is taking time to care for oneself and to create one’s own happiness in spite of the generational struggles the Black community faces. Joy can be the product of devoting oneself to a project that releases powerful emotions or simply engaging in activities that make one smile and feel happy.
Shira Nash During quarantine, Weinberg second-year Shira Nash decided to start a blog called “Black and Bloom.” The name was inspired by the intersection between Nash’s passions for social justice and the environment, highlighting how Black people can still bloom and grow despite the challenges against them. Her goals for “Black and Bloom” are to have a more consistent posting schedule, set up a way for users to donate to an organization of her choosing and highlight even more unique voices. Nash writes about topics ranging from activism to beauty, selfcare to religious prayers. Her very first post was “6 Black Students Blossoming in their Community,” in which she interviewed Black students from her hometown in Washington, D.C. and the Northwestern community about their unique positions as activists, artists and leaders. Although she started the blog herself, the project is more of a platform for others to share their voices. “I like to highlight other students and other perspectives because I don’t know everything about being Black,” she says. “I know what being Black is to me, but I want to know what it means to other people in their relationship with Blackness.” For example, one post, “Loving Every Kink and Curl,” highlights not only Nash’s curl type, but also many other curl types and the different hair care products used for each. She chose a blog format rather than a YouTube channel so she could showcase people other than herself. “Writing feels more natural to me than talking, and I wanted a connotation of collectivity rather than division and judgement, which sometimes happens on YouTube,” she says. She feels at ease when she writes, using journaling as a coping mechanism to deal with stressful events. She uses writing to transform internal emotions into an external format, which she sees as making those emotions more powerful. It helps her articulate and verbalize her feelings towards Black pain and Black joy. Nash recognizes the difference between joy and happiness by defining happiness as an external and transitive emotion. Conversely, she sees joy as an internal force despite external factors (like being in a Black body) that affect the way you live. “One of the best acts of resistance is just being Black and being joyful despite all the factors that might be against us,” she says. “Despite all the adversities, we can still bloom and grow.” PHOTO COURTESY OF SHIRA NASH
PHOTO COURTESY OF E-D TADESE
Weinberg second-year E-D Tadese has had a passion for music since he was young, starting with playing instruments (like the piano and drums) and eventually moving on to producing songs when he was 12. Now, he uses the software Logic Pro X to compile audio files and to experiment with digital instruments like synthesizers. “It feels pretty freeing to be able to just create,” he says. “Starting with a blank canvas can be really intimidating to people. For me, it’s exciting.” To develop his skills as a songwriter, Tadese writes poetry and song lyrics for at least 30 minutes every day. He enjoys the creative process of writing lyrics and producing tracks, finding inspiration from his daily life to produce hip-hop and R&B music. These are some lines from his upcoming song, “Twitter Fingers”: “The king demands it. I’ma dance before the millions. Forget 100, keep it one in seven billion.” Tadese says he sometimes feels awkward when he expresses his faith to friends and strangers, so these lyrics reflect his commitment to Christianity and forgetting about how other people feel. He wanted to express his faith and remind himself to focus on his own fulfillment in making God proud. He often writes about his Black Christian identity the same way his musical hero, Lecrae (a Black Christian hip-hop artist) writes about his life and societal issues that he sees. “Music is a way for me to work through flaws that I see in real life,” he says. Some of these flaws included experiences coming from a predominantly white high school and having difficult conversations with former friends about Black issues and experiences. While movements such as Black Lives Matter can provide inspiration for some Black artists, Tadese chooses to refrain from producing activism-influenced songs. “I tried, but I wasn’t successful because I was so focused on [it being] the most powerful thing and to write to save lives,” he says.
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Communication third-year Lauren Washington uses a multitude of artistic outlets to express herself, including poetry, screenplay-writing, photography and cinematography. While she is inspired by talented Black creatives such as filmmaker Barry Jenkins and photographer Joshue Kissi, she also finds that societal issues and current events such as redlining impact her creative work. The information she is learning about in her latest sociology class, Cities and Society with professor Mary Pattillo, has helped shape her screenplay, which is influenced by the neighborhoods in Chicago and her hometown of Kansas City. A recent project Washington is proud of features a Black female Chicago artist named Brittney Carter. Washington organized a photoshoot with Carter for the cover art of her upcoming album. The cover art for the single “Cold As Us” shows Carter and the other featured artist on the track, Oliv Blu, posing in front of a pastel purple backdrop. Both artists wear their hair in traditional Black styles, and Washington utilizes lighting to highlight their dark skin. “It was really amazing because I got to creative direct it myself, and capture all the different emotions that she poured out to that album and portray her as a Black woman in a way that I can relate to,” she says. Washington is a detailed planner, forming storyboards for photoshoots and using PowerPoint to piece together the story. She uses images from Pinterest and Instagram to create moodboards, which she places on to the PowerPoint and rearranges to create the visual story she wants to tell. Her creative process takes a much more hands-on approach when it comes to creating characters for her screenplays. “I try to put myself in the shoes of my character. Once I get all the external and internal conflicts and what their character journey is, I like to do a ‘day in the life’ exercise of that character,” she says. She feels empowered when she gets to create new characters and new worlds around them. Her identity as a Black woman appears frequently in her work, and she uses her platform to share stories that are often not shared enough. “I always try to portray Black women in different ways and the multifaceted nature of Blackness,” she says.
Howell tries to create a fun and supportive community on her platform by hosting donationbased yoga sessions. She has enjoyed yoga since she was in high school, and she served as an unofficial yoga teacher for her friends at a summer camp when she was 16. “Ever since I started yoga, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Yoga is so healing. Once you get over the discomfort, you really connect with your body,” Howell says. She officially became a certified instructor after completing a 200-hour program in September. On top of being a yoga instructor, she prides herself on being a journalist and writing about emotions that are often suppressed or deemed “unprofessional” for writers to address. “I have people in my life who tell me, ‘You can’t be an angry journalist. People won’t listen to you,’” she says. “Well, if they’re not listening, they’re not really the ones that I’m writing for. The people who understand what I’m saying will be just as enraged [as I am].”
PHOTO COURTESY OF LAUREN WASHINGTON
Since gaining free time in quarantine, Medill third-year Zaria Howell has created a business called @earthmamaa to share various artistic outlets to help with healing and inspire Black joy. She uses Instagram and a website to publish podcasts, post articles, teach yoga and host talks with other Black influencers. She also creates cute graphic designs to post on Instagram, using earth-toned colors to present information about self healing, social activism and the environment. “I’ve always seen art as being a very strong tool for change,” she says. “With the launching of my business, I’ve tried to channel it more into conversations about mental health, healing and community.” She defines Black joy as “embodied resistance,” or more specifically, focusing on Black self-love and liberation through smiling and engaging with the community. “Black joy to me means fighting against the system but having fun at the same time,” she says.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ZARIA HOWELL
Talk data to me WRITTEN BY NIKI AMIR // DESIGNED BY JUNTANG QIAN
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An inside look at the Northwestern Open Data Initiative’s path to accessible information.
ast winter, Rahul Shukla and seven of his peers came together to create Northwestern’s Open Data Initiative, affectionately known as NODI. While working on a class project to find data on Northwestern, the Weinberg fourth-year grew frustrated as he combed through inaccessible PDFs in the campus data ecosystem. So, he took on the task of creating a centralized portal for all of Northwestern’s data. By creating a portal that is both accessible and user-friendly, Shukla and his team say they hope to create more engagement with data across the Northwestern community. Finding and sorting through data is timeconsuming, Shukla says. Most university data at Northwestern is stored as PDFs rather than Excel sheets, making it harder to conduct analyses. The portal aggregates data sets such as Northwestern’s operating budget for fiscal year 2018, total enrollment by ethnicity, gender and campus for fall 2019 and tuition and fees by program (from 1998 to 2020). Currently, these data sets are available to certain offices within the University. Assistant Vice President for Information and Analytics within Northwestern’s Office of Administration and Planning Amit Prachand calls these the "data stewards." These include administrative offices like Human Resources, Student Affairs and the Office of the Registrar, but NODI would make these public data accessible to students as well. This project was partially inspired by Shukla’s friendship with Nik Marda, a fourth-year at Stanford University. Marda is one of the co-founders of Stanford’s Open Data Project and supports creating a campus culture of data engagement. Marda and his co-founder, Stanford fourthyear Arjun Ramani, realized the need for an open data portal after working for The Stanford Daily. Ramani, who has a keen interest in data journalism, echoed an idea from a Stanford professor that “the plural of anecdote is data.” “The tool of the journalist is oftentimes the interview,” Ramani says. “It would obviously be
enhanced a lot by having many, many different “In an age of misinformation, data is anecdotes all pulled together in the data set.” Ramani realized there were two likely everything. You can ground arguments reasons why such a centralized data portal didn’t already exist: The University may not in data, and data effectively becomes the have invested enough in the idea, or it may have ground truth for intentionally decided not to publicize some data. In either case, Ramanai and Marda set to work. By a lot of essays September 2019, their site was fully functional. The Stanford duo’s open data project was directly or articles inspired by their journalistic endeavors. According or policies." to Shukla, the Northwestern team had similar existing motivations, hoping to provide resources for on- systems and — Rahul Shukla, campus publications’ use. structures.” “In an age of misinformation, data is everything. In that vein, Weinberg fourth-year You can ground arguments in data, and data effectively the open data becomes the ground truth for a lot of essays or articles projects aim to or policies,” Shukla says. “There's another point to engage student activists, consider, which is that data may not often tell the allowing them to organize entirety of the story.” petitions or letters addressed Both groups are advocating for better open to the universities around data data policy on their campuses and nationally, and sets available through the portal. pursuing partnerships with students organizations They would also include a website listing data sets that and other stakeholders. have been requested by community members that the Data governance entails looking at the potential University has failed to provide. for harm, weighing risks versus benefits and verifying “It’s also about making sure that the concerns of the reliability of data. One college-specific problem communities at the greatest risk of harm are considered arises with the use of self-reported data, which is often throughout the entire data life cycle, from when data collected from campus surveys. Since it is harder to is collected to how it’s cleaned to where it’s published verify the reliability of this data, they need to make and then how it’s used afterwards,” says Marda. additional risk assessments, according to Ramani. Dealing with open data can raise ethical concerns, “I do think it's important to have [usable] information especially in a university context. Questions surrounding ... but I also think it's critical that there are questions the integrity of the data, what data is available, who that precede the use of the data,” Prachand says. has access to it and how this can be controlled need “What is it that the data might help answer? My hope to be addressed before any data can be published for is that this [project] may spark additional interest in public use. asking the question and finding out what data can be In an effort to collaborate, some students on available more publicly or in a way or format that is Northwestern and Stanford’s data teams are working more digestible.” on a handbook for other students to start their own Some frameworks for student privacy protection campus data portals, planning to meet once a week already exist. For example, Prachand’s office will not in spring quarter to develop the guide. It will include publish demographic data if fewer than five to seven a data governance section that details how to select students hold a particular identity and the specificity data and the considerations that need to be taken. of the data could put them at risk of identification. While much of the content is borrowed from existing For Marda, the mission of the project goes beyond data governance literature, according to Marda and the data of any one student, reflecting a larger need to Ramani, the principles had to be distilled to be useful safeguard and empower those who are more vulnerable. for creating data portals at universities. “Good data governance isn't just about protecting the Having an institution-wide approach to cleaning up privacy of individuals, which is often how it's framed,” and defining data puts a standard structure in place to Marda says. “It’s not just about harm reduction but also catch and rectify errors, Prachand says. He warns, “if about how we can make sure that open data serves the we each have our own version, there’s no truth.” interests of communities that are often not served by DANCEFLOOR
A poll new world On Election Day, students worked the polls and phone banked to facilitate democracy. WRITTEN BY SARAH MEADOW // DESIGNED BY MAREN KRANKING
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amara Lipman’s alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. on Nov. 3, 2020. Lipman, a Medill third-year, was slated to work at a polling place on Election Day in Palos Park, Illinois, with a few other Northwestern University students. It was still dark out when they finished their hour-long drive to the precinct and began preparing to open it at 7 a.m. According to The New York Times, 58% of poll workers in 2018 were 61 or older. However, given the health risk that public locations pose amid the pandemic, younger members have stepped in to fill their places. Reuters found that over 90% of the 650,000 voters who sought poll volunteering information from the organization Power the Polls were under the age of 65. Lipman worked as a polling place technician, meaning she had the responsibility of taking ballots to be counted for Cook County. “It was really interesting to see all of these people who are just like me, who are just volunteers doing this in their own time, bringing the actual ballot, the actual votes, the things that matter so much in this election, to a place to be counted,” Lipman says. Despite a grueling 16-hour day, she says being a part of Election Day was a very meaningful and impactful experience, and she hopes to volunteer as a poll worker again. “[It felt good to volunteer] because otherwise, the system really does not function,” Lipman says. “The system is built
upon people who put it upon themselves to go vote, to take responsibility for what’s going on in their country, and it felt good to be a part of that group.” Communication third-year Sammi Tapper got involved by assembling a group of Evanston-based Northwestern students who worked at the polls. This summer, Tapper’s grandmother sent her a message encouraging her and those in the Northwestern community to work at the polls on Election Day. From there, Tapper created the Facebook group “Northwestern Poll Volunteering,” which now has upward of 200 members. Tapper began assembling information about working at the polls, including carpooling efforts, for students who wanted to help out Cook County on Nov. 3. She gathered most information about polling places and online voter registration from Vote Save America, the Cook County Website and other similar pages. Tapper, Lipman and Maddie Brown, a Weinberg second-year, are three of many in younger generations who hope to make a difference by being active in election efforts. Even before the pandemic, the Election Administration and Voting Survey found that nearly 70% of jurisdictions did not locate enough poll workers. This could have led to numerous implications for voting, including closing polling places and longer wait times. In past elections, polling locations nationwide have been forced to close due to a shortage of volunteers. In rural areas with limited polling places, this often blocks access to a convenient way for voters to cast their ballot on Election Day.
However, this year, many counties activism-related were overstaffed and had to turn away information. volunteers, including Maricopa County Platforms like in Arizona, which became a deciding Instagram, Twitter and factor in President-elect Joe Biden’s even TikTok have risen as victory in the state. According to National vessels for sharing political Public Radio, the county was hoping to information. staff 1,800 poll workers and received “I think what’s the most over 20,000 requests for poll volunteers. meaningful is just to see everyone Both Brown and Tapper highlighted come together right now our age. the importance of making sure there [It’s] very easy to feel helpless,” Tapper are enough people staffing the polls, says. “I think social media and these noting that if there aren’t, poll closures different means we have for organizing may prevent people from participating and uniting together [give] the slightest in what could have been one of the most bit of hope.” pivotal elections to date. “ You can make a difference if you just get one [person to vote],” Brown says. Brown, who is currently living at home in Washington, D.C., also took up text banking and other get-out-the-vote efforts. She says that she felt it was her generation’s duty to do all they could - Sammi Tapper, Communication third-year as Election Day neared. “People who are highrisk can’t really be in public spaces for As many students (regardless of their prolonged periods of time [like] they location) continue to feel the effects of would be if they had to go work at the the COVID-19 pandemic and the isolation polls,” Brown says. “Now, there’s a whole that goes along with it, they search for movement of young people stepping up activities that give them a sense of hope to work at the polls and take over for and human connection. For Brown, text those people.” banking and sharing voting information In recent months, there has been a has helped her connect with people in a large wave of political activism alongside way that feels meaningful. civil unrest across the United States. “Regardless of where you are, it’s According to the Pew Research Center, just so weird to be living your life over over half of social media users ages 18 a screen,” she says. “Even if you’re just to 29 have turned to social media for texting random voters in Pennsylvania.”
I think what’s the most meaningful is just to see everyone come together right now our age.
Uprooted Following the sudden removal of Northwestern studentsâ€™ memorial tree, students reflected on mental health as they sought a replacement. WRITTEN BY ALLISON ARGUEZO // DESIGNED BY SOOIM KANG
Content warning: This story discusses experiences and topics related to suicide.
n the beginning of fall quarter, Medill third-year Zachary Watson was biking near University Hall when he noticed something was different: The memorial tree that stood next to the Rock was cut down. Its painted trunk was lying in a pile on the ground next to other debris, discarded like an ordinary tree. But for many students, the tree was far from ordinary. It was a memorial to their deceased friends â€” and its cutting down has provoked broader questions
PHOTO BY CARLY MENKER
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about mental health and spaces of grieving at Northwestern. This tree was a unique way for students to grieve friends that passed on campus, according to McCormick third-year Delan Hao, who is working with other students to create a new memorial. The roots of the memorial tree go back to two of its original painters, Sophia Ruark and Kimani Isaac. They painted the tree and the Rock in 2017 in remembrance of their friend, Mohammed Ramzan. The memorial stayed on the Rock for three days until it was painted over again, but the paint on the tree lasted much longer. “When [students] saw the [tree], they felt really emotional,” says Ruark, who graduated from Weinberg in 2020. “A lot of people said that they really liked that it was a memorial place where people could leave flowers and just sit and process and think and just remember all the good things.” Since then, the tree has served as a symbol of remembrance and a space for students to pay their respects to friends who have passed away throughout the years. “Losing the tree, it [feels] like I lost my friend all over again,” Isaac says. “But then there’s this other side to it, where it’s so much more important to the community [that] it’s moved beyond just this one person that I was trying to honor, and it’s now become a symbol for all the people that we lose from the time we walk through that Arch to the time we get marched back out of it.” Northwestern Student Affairs contacted Watson and told him that Northwestern’s landscaping facilities cut down the tree because it was dying, but no notice was given to the community before it was cut down. University staff told Watson that they were unaware of the incident as well. But students had already noticed. “The fact that there hasn’t been some lasting place on campus to
honor [deceased Northwestern students] has been a mistake on the part of the university,” Isaac says. Watson, along with Hao and Medill alumna Allie Goulding, reached out to their peers in the Northwestern community through a Google Form on social media to gather ideas for a new memorial that would serve in place of the tree. In the posts’ comments, current and former students voiced their feelings about how the tree served and expressed their frustration that the University failed to notify students.
Losing the tree, it [feels] like I lost my friend all over again.”” -Kimani Issac
Some thought it indicated that Northwestern didn’t prioritize mental health: After all, four of the six students whose names were written on the tree had died by suicide (the other two passed away from accidents). According to Ruark, multiple suicides occurring on a campus as small as Northwestern’s took a big toll on the mental health of the students. “Every student at Northwestern recognizes that access to mental health helps, and resources are really important for preventing feelings of suicide,” Ruark says. “A lot of [people who personally knew the students who died by suicide] talked about how it was hard to know when someone needed help, and it was hard to know where to direct somebody if they did need help. And I think that, as a community, we all kind of felt a little responsible for each other after those suicides happened.” As a current student, Watson feels that mental health services for Northwestern students are lacking. “I don’t place the blame on
[Counseling and Psychological Services] itself; I place a lot of the reasons that CAPS is lacking for the lack of funds that they get,” Watson says. “They need more counselors that understand the lived experience and the backgrounds of students.” Instead, he sees the work to improve access to mental health resources as being pushed more by the students than the University itself. “There are certain groups of students that really, really try to destigmatize mental health,” Watson says. “But I don’t think they’re getting much help from the administration, and they’re having to do all the legwork by themselves, which is not fair to put on students.” Even so, Ruark recognizes the challenges in providing sufficient resources and support to every student on campus. “Providing mental health resources for an entire college campus to serve the needs of every individual student is a huge undertaking,” Ruark says. “I think that we have made some strides. But there are definitely ways that our counseling services could be more effective in the future.” While there are currently no finalized plans or location for the permanent memorial, Goulding, Hao and Watson are all in communication with Northwestern administrators to establish a permanent memorial, such as a garden or sculpture. According to Watson, the new location will not be at the previous spot near the Rock, but instead a “much quieter, less trafficked space that can be a more contemplative and healing environment.” Hao stressed that no matter what the new memorial looks like, there will be one continuity. “The really big thing that [students and alumni] had wanted to make sure had stayed the same: That whatever it is, make sure that it was something planned by students rather than just by faculty,” Hao says. DANCEFLOOR
In the midst of the Abolish Greek Life movement, the Evans Scholars face an uncertain fate. WRITTEN BY GABRIELLE NADLER DESIGNED BY EMMA ESTBERG
ess than a week before they were supposed to move into their house, Evans Scholars at Northwestern University were scrambling to fill out residential hall applications and scour what options were left for off-campus housing. The Evans Scholars Foundation and the scholars themselves were blindsided by Northwestern’s email stating members of the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic Association (PHA) houses would not be allowed to open for the fall quarter. “When Northwestern dropped that bombshell news on that Friday, we were like, ‘What are we going to do? It’s super late now,’” fourthyear Desmond O’Shaugnessy says. In a state of disarray and confusion, the scholars struggled to figure out whether this news applied to their house. Evans Scholars are students who caddied in high school and receive a scholarship from the Western Golf Association (WGA) covering their full college tuition and housing. In order to have an on-campus residence, Evans Scholars need to be affiliated with some campus housing organization. Since the WGA has specific housing requirements, the Evans Scholars house does not qualify as a residence hall. So although it is not a fraternity, it became part of the IFC when it was first established on campus.
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Due to their ties with the IFC, when Northwestern made the decision to shut down fraternity houses fall quarter, the Evans Scholars house therefore closed as well. This decision failed to account for the unique conditions and issues faced by Evans Scholars that are not apparent to fraternities. This disregard fundamentally disrupted the community the scholarship provides its recipients. “I don’t get the sense that we’re super high priority in any way,” O’Shaugnessy says. “I wish that the University would have made some kind of exception for the Evans Scholars house.” One of the four pillars of the Evans scholarship is group living, which makes being removed from their communal house all the more difficult for scholars. “That is the thing that I value the most about being a scholar,” fourth-year Mac Lim says. “I can’t imagine us existing as an entity on campus without our group living component.” Since Evans Scholars live in their chapter house for all academic terms as undergraduates, the members did not make plans to live off-campus before hearing it would be closed. But besides being stripped of their housing, Evans Scholars also lost their employment and means of acquiring
food. The scholarship itself does not cover a meal plan. There is no kitchen in the Evans Scholars house, and no kitchen appliances are allowed, leaving scholars unable to cook for themselves. Consequently, scholars often work meal jobs in sorority houses — which typically entails serving food and putting it away after meals are over — as a means of getting food and sometimes additional income. Many scholars express gratitude for these positions, but the jobs can be disconcerting. Fourth-year scholar Lydia Spettel notes the job creates “a weird power dynamic, in that it calls a lot of attention to socioeconomic status.” As opposed to some other work-study jobs, meal jobs are very clearly service jobs. Compounding this is the fact that people know
Evans Scholars working these positions are low-income students on a scholarship. They also serve members of sororities, who often have a certain level of wealth that is tied to participation. This economically-polarized environment accompanying meal jobs is “where some of the discomfort comes from, because it’s just so obvious,” Spettel says. Weinberg third-year and Evans Scholars executive board member
an organization that can better represent the particular needs of Evans Scholars. When Evans Scholars were first introduced, grouping them with the IFC seemed the most logical option. The winners of the scholarship were originally all white men, and women were not allowed to live in Northwestern’s Evans Scholars house until 2010; therefore, the organization’s membership was more closely aligned with that of
Many Evans Scholars, including Bedell, support the push to abolish Greek life at Northwestern. Evans Scholars’ entanglement with Greek life, for both meals and housing, makes the Abolish Greek Life movement especially relevant to their scholarship. “The Abolish Greek Life movement has picked up a lot of steam over the past couple of months, and I think in order for us to keep that ball rolling, we need to continue having
Atim Bedell expresses appreciation for the job, despite the discomfort. “It’s not the best experience,” Bedell says. “As a woman of color, it’s certainly degrading in a sense.” “Working the meal job is a solution to not having to pay that crazy meal plan price,” Lim, the chapter’s vice president of new scholars, says. “Something that has kind of annoyed me is when I’ll be working in the kitchen and one of the girls will say, ‘Oh, it’s pretty messed up that they make you work in a sorority.’” For Lim, these kinds of comments show a lack of understanding about Evans Scholars’ needs. “I’m not forced to do this, but I do this because I still have to eat, and I don’t have to pay for a meal plan because I can’t afford it,” Lim says. Although the Evans Scholars’ executive board and Student Enrichment Services (SES) do not have alternatives for meal jobs or housing accommodations at the moment, another option may soon be necessary. If sororities and fraternities are abolished, the existence of Evans Scholars could be threatened. The automatic closure of the Evans Scholars house, due to its membership in the IFC, illustrates the need to find
fraternities. Currently, however, many Evans Scholars feel that their organization does not fit in well with the IFC. With an increasingly diverse organization membership, O’Shaugnessy says Evans Scholars moved away from several house traditions and practices that resembled those of fraternity life and made several scholars uncomfortable. “We have some structural similarities, but other than that, we’re a community that’s very different from all the other IFC members,” O’Shaugnessy says. “A regular fraternity is a bunch of people opting in in pursuit of some heteronormative ideal of what social life should be like in college, whereas we all get the scholarship and have to live in the house, so we have to figure out how to live and work with each other.” These disparities are partially responsible for many Evans Scholars wishing to disaffiliate from the IFC, despite the logistical difficulties. Although it is consistently deemed impossible by Northwestern and the WGA, the Evans Scholars executive board looks into the matter of disaffiliation each year. Bedell believes that as a part of the IFC, Evans Scholars contribute to the institutionalization and maintenance of Greek life of campus.
these conversations about the IFC, what it means to be in the IFC, what it means to be in Greek life and then what our role as Evans Scholars are in the IFC,” Bedell says. Lim also feels it is necessary for the Evans Scholars to be a part of the Abolish Greek Life movement’s dialogues. Lim supports the movement but notes, “It feels like they’re moving forward and having these conversations and saying that they’re including us or saying that they’re thinking about us, but we’re not really involved in those conversations.” In September, the PHA released a statement saying they are taking the Evans Scholars into account in the conversations regarding disbanding. Lim feels that instead of simply keeping Evans Scholars in mind, organizations must actually include scholars in relevant dialogues. “Getting somebody physically there in the room where those conversations are happening is the most important first step,” Lim says. Other scholars also emphasised the importance of active participation. “I do feel like a lot of the conversations that are being had about Greek life kind of exclude Evans Scholars,” Bedell says. “While we’re having conversations like this, I just encourage people to not forget about Evans Scholars. Include us in the conversation.”
“Include us in the conversation.”
Atim Bedell, Weinberg third-year
’ SM I LE, YOU RE ON
WRITTEN BY EMILY CERF // DESIGNED BY SOOIM KANG
Northwestern instructors and professors grapple with prioritizing privacy in a digital landscape.
hen Professor Brannon Ingram chose to make his spring Introduction to Islam class completely asynchronous, it was mostly so that he and his Teaching Assistant (TA) could manage the class while caring for children during the pandemic. He soon realized that this teaching style of audio-only, pre-recorded lectures lessened the obligation for students to participate in discussions and show their video. Online learning, made a necessity by the COVID-19 pandemic, raises questions about student privacy. Synchronous online learning often requires students to be visible and always available via Zoom, offering instructors and classmates a direct look into their homes and lives. This quarter, Ingram opted for a hybrid style of asynchronous lectures and synchronous discussions led by TAs for his Introduction to Islam class and a fully synchronous style for his 13-student freshman seminar. Before deciding to make the seminar synchronous, Ingram made sure all 13 students would be able participate at the designated time. For these discussions, he does
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not require students to turn on their video on Zoom. Despite the switch from asynchronous to synchronous discussions this quarter, Ingram and his TAs continue to emphasize different modes of participation like Canvas discussion boards and provide alternatives for students in different time zones. History professor Lina Britto says prioritizing student privacy in a time when it has become normalized to be visible and accessible is a key way for faculty to recognize and support students through systemic inequities that the pandemic has exacerbated. “I’m very aware of the inequalities and differences among our student body, that students are not living under the same circumstances and conditions,” Britto says. According to Britto, the pandemic has forced faculty and administration to address inequalities of class, race and gender within the student body. “One thing we can do on a daily basis is incorporate that knowledge and that concern in our classes and in our pedagogy and let students decide for themselves how they’re going to engage in online teaching and learning,” Britto says.
Ingram placed a similar emphasis on allowing students autonomy as a matter of respect in a challenging time. “I’m trying to respect my students as adults, who each have their own challenges and needs, and who are capable of being able to decide for themselves what they need to make it through this period,” Ingram says. Weinberg third-year Meredith Ellison is taking The Politics of Disaster with Professor Lydia Barnett, who she says designed the class with student privacy, accessibility and equity as main priorities. This means a “blended” style of teaching, with pre-recorded lectures, quizzes and discussion boards twice a week and only one non-recorded synchronous review section on Tuesdays. Ellison says she appreciates the transparency of this course design, which is structured in a way that makes it easy to follow along. Compared to some classes, where video is “encouraged” and the actual expectations are unclear, this class’s requirements are straightforward. While her decision to have video on comes down to what is happening in the background, she feels
student involvement and deals with sensitive topics. “It’s about violence; it’s about dictatorship; it’s about civil war and the historical evidence we have about systems of terror,” Britto says. “I want students to feel comfortable to talk about and voice their opinion without being recorded.” Recorded class sessions also bring up issues around protecting professors’ intellectual property materials, something which has been a major topic of discussion amongst faculty,
I want students to feel comfortable to talk about and voice their opinion without being recorded. - Lina Britto, Weinberg history professor
transparency from professors about expectations is essential. Britto says that students have told her through email and office hour meetings that they don’t want to have their video on during class for a variety of reasons, such as personal, family, socioeconomic or connectivity issues. While most students did not specify their particular reasons, Britto felt that it wasn’t necessary for her to know them. “In terms of the recording, I feel that goes along those lines with privacy and how comfortable you feel that your image, your voice, everything is going to be there online on Canvas,” Britto says. “So I do know that many students — I wouldn’t say the majority, but enough — feel very uneasy and not comfortable enough with being exposed and being in front of a camera, much less in a recording that is going to stay there for the rest of the academic year.” The website of the Office of the Provost offers guidelines for professors on recording synchronous class content, noting that this is appropriate when shared only with students in the class and that professors should communicate to students when recording will occur, both in writing through the course syllabus and orally. They advise professors to give special consideration during student discussions and consider pausing recordings “in order to protect student privacy and eliminate the possibility that recording might stifle discussion, particularly if sensitive content is included in the discussion.” Britto chooses to only record her lecture course on Music and Nation in Latin America because, aside from student questions, it is mostly her talking. In each class, she waits until every student is in the Zoom room before announcing the exact moment she begins recording. She chooses not to record her seminar class on Oral History and the Archives of Terror in Latin America, as it requires much more
according to Britto. They worry that their lectures could appear on YouTube or anywhere else online. “I wish we had more information on how to protect our pedagogical work because we do all kinds of work...but the pedagogy that we develop to teach a subject is also part of the original products that we put out there,” Britto says. Ingram says that since the upheaval this spring, the University has been hosting optional best practices seminars through the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching, though he notes that other groups on campus may have been hosting their own discussions as well. These sessions and other resources are aimed to help faculty make sure students don’t feel pressure to participate on Zoom in ways that make them uncomfortable. Overall, faculty are encouraged to err on the side of flexibility in their policies. Ironically, Ingram has not been able to attend these seminars aimed at helping faculty cope with at-home teaching because he has been at home caring for his 6-year-old, but from what he has seen and heard, he feels that faculty are following the guidance of these resources. For Britto, flexibility means being less strict with attendance policies and coming up with options to make sure students can be successful in her class if they are struggling. She notes that professors are being asked to pay attention and communicate to the individual colleges if students are missing class or falling behind so that advisors can step in and see how the institution can help. “In a way we are also ... doing a little bit of social work, if we’re taking it seriously,” Britto says. “It’s been more work for all of us. It’s another layer to pay attention to. It’s not that we didn’t do it before, but right now it’s more so because right now the challenges are greater, and what’s at stake is also greater.” DANCEFLOOR
Re: Silver linings Students share a bright side of the dark times they’ve experienced during the pandemic — in 250 words or fewer. DESIGNED BY ALISA GAO
hen I was 7, my family suddenly moved from Hong Kong to South Korea, and I was unceremoniously thrust into an unfamiliar culture. Until I memorized all the basic phrases, I feared going anywhere alone: My mom became my translator at taekwondo classes, my spokesperson at family gatherings and my tour guide around Seoul. As I grew older, I still felt like a foreigner in my own country. My parents insisted they accompany me on all errands including passport renewals, bank visits and haircuts, where my mom would tell the hairdresser what I wanted, and they would always get it wrong. These experiences led to a sense of resentment that I didn’t quite know how to place. As I got ready to leave for Northwestern last fall, I knew that my life plans did not include calling Korea home; I made my peace with that. I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until I felt the weight of Seoul lift off my shoulders when I landed in America. With an unexpected 10 months at home, I have the chance to make amends with Seoul. As my 19th birthday approaches, I can now drive to destinations myself. Taxi drivers don’t ask where I’m from, and I tell the hairdresser exactly what style I want. I spent the summer ordering wine in restaurants where I used to sip orange juice and realizing that just because I entered this city feeling helpless, that doesn’t mean I have to leave it that way. - WRITTEN BY ALLISON RHEE
n hour four of my flight on July 16 to reunite with my boyfriend David, I saw two stars outside my window. Through my half-unconscious, sleepy haze, the ghost of journalist Nellie Bly walked a tightrope between the celestial glows, tossing her hand my way to pull me into an adventure. She proved to be fearless in her 72-day record journey around the world, and her spirit settled my nerves. Since the onset of the pandemic in March, David’s home country of Sweden continued to extend its travel ban against U.S. citizens, with only close family members and certain essential workers allowed. A small-yet-growing Facebook group called “Love Is Not Tourism” became my last hope in reuniting with him. A woman named Dominique became the first one to circumvent the ban and travel to Malmö, Sweden. I will never forget her arrival text: “Hey, I made it to Sweden, I feel like I’m dreaming.” I booked my flight. With a successful passage through Copenhagen customs already behind me, the plane dove beneath thick mist in Stockholm, descending from my dreams into a world of forests and marine archipelagos. Disbelief bubbled in my chest upon arrival. I made it. Love Is Not Tourism now has more than 38,000 members trying to reunite with loved ones. After finding my own silver lining four months ago, I still give advice to these online strangers about how to turn their dreams of reuniting into reality, too.
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- WRITTEN BY HANNAH HALL
ost days since March 13 have begun with the same routine; I drizzle olive oil over a pan, crack two eggs in succession and let them drop yolkfirst into the hissing oil. I listen to the firecracker pops of egg-versus-oil combat, feel the peppercorns grind in their mill and plunge my knife into the yellow domes to free the runny yolks. Even on early mornings, this ritual awakens my body. With my senses engaged, I’m reminded of my physical presence in an almost completely digital world. For me, as for most others, the pandemic meant reconfiguring the life I’d known to a remote form, suitable for my laptop’s scratchy speakers and pixelated screen. Initially, I wallowed in melodramatic despair as a high school graduate stuck in my childhood home. My friends wasted no time in quashing my pity party. Movie theater visits became Netflix Party hangouts, dinners at our favorite restaurants became takeout picnics and birthday parties became drive-by celebrations replete with balloons and horn-honking. This way, we salvaged our last summer together. Despite these methods of overcoming distance, my life remains largely limited to the bounds of my home. As I stand in the kitchen, the world outside may cease to exist; beyond my front door, I may find nothing. Simple acts like frying eggs remind me that I’m still human and the world goes on. Even after some semblance of “normal” returns, I’ll remember to be present as my eggs sizzle each morning. - WRITTEN BY BOBBY YALAM
y mom is a Broadway stagehand. Spending time with her always meant helping cook dinner from the minute I got out of school until we ate at 5 p.m. By 6, she’d be on her way to work. I loved entering Broadway theaters through stage doors, but the cost was never having weekend trips or elaborate holiday dinners. Life changed this March when those stage doors shut. With the current closing expected to last until May 2021, my family’s life grew uncertain. The last time my mom had been out of work was a 19-day stagehands’ strike in 2007. The lack of work and income shook my family. We started living more frugally, enjoying what we had and avoiding unnecessary purchases. In that dark, new normal came something bright: time with my mom. She was there when I woke up for work, when I got home in the afternoon, when the evening news aired. The “M*A*S*H” theme song underscored many nights of sitting together, my brother drawing on the floor, my mom and I working on our knitting, never in a rush. After years of making every little moment last, we had as many hours together as we wanted. Obviously, I wish there wasn’t a pandemic; I wish life was normal the way it used to be instead of this new normal. But I am grateful for the six months of evenings with my mom, roasting chilis, knitting hats and enjoying the summer sunlight. - WRITTEN BY PALLAS GUTIERREZ
Physically safe, intellectually dangerous Despite a stigma of coddling, the academic environment remains a haven for genderqueer students and professors to safely explore identity and empower insurgent thought.
WRITTEN BY ANNA MARGEVICH // DESIGNED BY ANDREW KWA
allas Gutierrez is publicly outed every time they take a Northwestern-sponsored COVID-19 test. When the staff member reaches the “Sex at Birth” question, the Communication fourth-year feels horrible. “It’s something I always have to psych myself up for when I go to get tested: ‘They’re going to ask this, and it doesn’t mean anything, but they’re going to ask and you have to be ready,’” Gutierrez says. Gutierrez, who has been living as nonbinary throughout college, recalls countless moments when safety and respect haven’t been a part of their Northwestern experience. Professors have forgotten to use their pronouns, or didn’t even bother asking in the first place. Gender-neutral spaces on campus — like the first floor of Allison Hall and the third floor of 560 Lincoln — were filled with cisgender students eager for an upscale dorm. Even bathrooms where they could feel safe on campus felt few and far between. So, even during a pandemic, students and professors within the transgender, nonbinary and genderqueer communities are continuing on a double-sided journey to find an impactful community and fight back against the structures that continue to harm them.
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Dr. Marquis Bey, an assistant professor of African American Studies and English, knows that outside of academia, the classroom is seen as a place of fragility. But Bey is disdainful of this notion and aims to abolish the structures of institutional academics that harm the queer and trans community. Granting students safety within the classroom, Bey says, can be an act of strength that turns into something much greater. “When you enter my classroom, you are physically safe in that space. Because of that, then we have license to be intellectually dangerous, in the sense that it will rattle and shake a lot of the normative and hegemonic structures that are themselves violent structures,” Bey says. One way Bey creates this type of classroom culture is by deemphasizing the academic routine of assigning work simply for the sake of grades and completion. Instead, Bey focuses on what texts and media they can introduce to students that have the power to change what they see as possible for themselves and the world. Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility is one text that Bey calls on when thinking about what visibility actually means. Those moments of in-class or oncampus solidarity can often be more
impactful than many realize. As a first-year, Gutierrez recalls attending get-togethers thrown by queer upperclassmen. They’d never been surrounded by so much queer joy. “It was really great to be around other people who held similar identities and know that the things that Northwestern does that aren’t great do affect multiple people, and it’s not just me and my roommate being crazy,” Gutierrez says. Gutierrez recognizes that finding support like this can be challenging, but they encourage other trans and queer students to search for others in their community. “You’ll stumble into a class, and there will be someone who has different pronouns than you were expecting or than you’ve heard before, and then suddenly you will have a huge community of trans friends, and it will be wonderful,” Gutierrez says. “You just have to be open to looking for it.” Kelsey Phalen, who graduated this spring, found support in Northwestern’s theatre community; a friend’s senior thesis was a trans and nonbinary adaptation of The Little Mermaid, called The Little Merperson. Being in that production showed Phalen the importance of explicitly creating and inviting spaces for vulnerability. “It’s not embarrassing if you have
those moments and you invite other people into it,” Phalen says. “The whole point is we’re here for each other and here to care about each other, and we’ll help each other through the fear and through the uncertainty.” Even so, for fellow alumnus Zury Cutler, that hyper-visibility felt daunting. Cutler says it took deep introspection for him to realize that his gender identity was valid — partly because he did not feel similar to other gender-queer students who were not questioning their gender identity. “The amount of visibility at Northwestern made me [think], ‘These are the people who are gender-queer on campus, and I’m definitiely not super similar to them, so I’m probably just a man,’” Cutler says. Cutler says that his experience of an accepting and visible Northwestern community does not represent — and in fact is in contrast to — the University’s treatment of trans students and professors. “Because the Northwestern community is pretty open and accepting of trans folx — I want to be clear: not the Northwestern administration, but the Northwestern community — I think that that has allowed a freedom of expression and experimentation that almost intimidated me,” Cutler says. Bey echoes the gravity of seeing oneself in their professors and peers. Though being introduced to new forms of expression and modes of thinking can be overwhelming, Bey says that experience can also be life-changing. “Simply knowing that something is possible by seeing someone else do that, embody that, is deeply, deeply important,” Bey says. “I can never under-emphasize something like that.” But Bey isn’t just interested in fostering acceptance, openness or
inclusion — “all these imperfect words,” they say. Because simply being “out” can be dangerous (in more ways than one), they point out the need to systematically dismantle institutions and structures that promote violence against queer people. “Rather than simply inserting a trans or queer person into this [institution], how can we cultivate radically different conditions that allow for queer and trans modes of relations?” Bey says. “For me, the purpose of my scholarship is not simply to acquire knowledge but to attempt to make people more free. How can I introduce students to things that will allow them to feel freer and to do freedom and liberation in more impactful ways?” Even with visibility, Cutler realized Northwestern’s community wasn’t exempt from calls for change. When Cutler served on the board of directors for MARS — which at the time stood for Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault — he noticed how much of the organization was composed of cisgender fraternity men. While Cutler himself was never a part of Greek life, being a member of MARS often meant thinking deeply about Greek culture, which he says posed a multitude of issues for queer students. “Greek life is supported by generally white, upper-class, cis, heterosexual, Christian people,” Cutler says. “It happens to be one of the most egregious cases of massive, systemic disenfranchisement of queer and trans folx on our campus.” So, the organization changed its name to Masculinity, Allyship, Reflection, and Solidarity. Cutler says the organization would have been open to including including trans and queer people before, but the re-wording made a clear statement that “This should not be a men’s group; this should be a group for people with masculine experience.”
For Phalen, the only campus space where they didn’t come out as nonbinary was in their Panhellenic Association (PHA) sorority. Although the sorority members were accepting, they didn’t always know what to do when someone’s gender identity challenged their structure of cisgender sisterhood. Phalen says that part of their decision to not disclose their gender identity in this space came from witnessing how the sorority reacted when a different member came out about their gender identity. “They were all trying to be positive about it, but it just felt like it became this whole thing. Even though they were accepting, I just didn’t want to go through that,” Phalen says. During PHA sorority recruitment their first year, Gutierrez saw many exclusive policies and actions. Sororities purposely didn’t ask members for their pronouns in order to get around national laws that demand that members strictly identify as women. “It’s crazy how much of our campus housing in the form of Greek life houses is inherently inaccessible to trans people. Maybe we don’t need those Greek houses, and we need more trans housing,” Gutierrez says. Gutierrez realizes a community isn’t enough. As Illinois law still enables discrimination against trans people (such as lacking bathroom laws), a critical eye is turned toward the University. “If you genuinely believe it’s a problem, you will be advocating against those laws. Northwestern has so much money, so much power and so many high-powered alumni,” Gutierrez says. “There’s no reason that if they don’t believe in something they can’t help it get changed. What are you doing to advocate that that law gets changed so that your students can live safely on this campus?” DANCEFLOOR
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Talk of the
Addressing the ongoing pandemic has further strained relations between Northwestern students and Evanston residents. WRITTEN BY EVA HERSCOWITZ // DESIGNED BY ALISA GAO
This story is part of Unmasked, a special NBN project about Northwesternâ€™s response to the ongoing pandemic. To read the complete project, visit northbynorthwestern.com.
rom his seventhfloor suite, Dave Davis directs Northwestern University’s “repository for complaints” — or, as it’s formally known, the Office of Neighborhood and Community Relations. Davis is something of a town-gown middleman, serving as the first point of contact for Evanston residents’ concerns regarding the University and ensuring Northwestern community members, including students, are “good neighbors.” Usually, his job consists of handling resident concerns and fostering partnerships between members of the Northwestern community, Evanston residents and organizations. COVID-19, however, has made Davis’ job much more complicated. When the quarter began, emails from both older students and Evanston residents reporting student misbehavior flooded Davis's inbox. Noncompliance with mask wearing and social distancing, as well as accounts of large gatherings, were among the most common concerns. Since mid-October, complaints have slowed to a trickle, but tensions between Evanston residents and students remain, Davis says. The University and the city have clashed before, from Northwestern’s exemption from property taxes to Welsh-Ryan Arena’s potential hosting of forprofit events. The pandemic has cast further doubt on Northwestern’s role, causing residents to worry about students spreading COVID-19. But it seems for the most part, students are doing their best to act responsibly and safely. With underclassmen permitted to live on campus for winter quarter,
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residents say they’re balancing their concerns with appreciation for proper student behavior. “People in the community are concerned about students coming back, as we should be,” says Carol White, an Evanston resident for 28 years. “But I think the community can be all too ready to blame students for things.”
A complicated history Student behavior during the pandemic isn’t the first controversy regarding the school’s place in Evanston. Property taxes for Illinois residents have risen in recent years, but not for Northwestern; Illinois law exempts land that universities own and use for educational purposes from property taxes. That means the University’s 240 acres on the Evanston lakefront, Ryan Field, Welsh-Ryan Arena and property in Streeterville are all tax exempt — to the detriment of the Evanston community. A 2017 memo suggested that if Northwestern’s property was no longer tax-exempt, it could generate almost $5.9 million a year in additional revenue for the city. In addition, tensions recently came to a boil over the 7,000-seat Welsh-Ryan Arena. In November 2019, Evanston aldermen approved a temporary zoning amendment allowing the school to host professional sporting and for-profit entertainment events at the arena. Although events remain on hold due to COVID-19, nearby neighbors are concerned the zoning amendment and consequent events would cause disruption. In an October 2019 statement,
7th Ward Alderman Eleanor Revelle condemned the school’s proposal for its impact on her constituents. “These residents bought their homes with the understanding that the athletic campus was used for collegiate sports and commencement events,” Revelle wrote. “They did not bargain for an additional set of major events attracting a non-collegiate audience with unknown regard for [Northwestern] and its neighbors.” Still, some residents say Northwestern students, faculty and staff have contributed greatly to the community. The Leadership Development and Community Engagement program, Center for Civic Engagement and #CATSGiveBack initiatives have all sought to embed students into community causes. Evanston resident Bob Hercules says other than the disruptions that began this summer, his experience with off-campus students has always been positive. “Northwestern has been a great boon to our economy and to our culture,” he says. “The students, for the most part, have been fantastic. In 24 years, it’s only been this past year that it’s become more and more of an issue.”
Preparing for fall This fall, as students nationwide prepared to repopulate college towns, a dominant narrative emerged: Students would return to campus, flout safety standards and inevitably transmit COVID-19 to neighbors. At many college campuses nationwide (including fellow Big Ten schools like the University of Iowa), that narrative PREGAME
has certainly seemed to hold true. After students returned to campus, cases from parties spilled into Iowa City, making the mid-size city a pandemic hot-spot. This summer, as University administrators prepared to bring students back to campus, residents worried about the spread of COVID-19. “There’s a huge amount of press about what’s going on on [college] campuses,” White says. “Given that that’s a hot topic in the media, and then you live in a university town, it’s going to be a pretty automatic question or concern.” University administrators hosted a community town hall on Aug. 25 to receive resident feedback about its return-to-campus plan. Three days later, President Morton Schapiro walked back the plans, announcing that first- and secondyear students would no longer be allowed on campus. However, it is unclear to what degree the town hall or resident feedback factored into the decision. David Schoenfeld serves as a community representative on Northwestern University-City Committee: a special committee comprised of two University representatives, two community representatives and 1st Ward Alderman Judy Fiske. Schoenfeld noticed an uptick in off-campus students returning to Evanston in July. During the summer, many residents worried students’ lax behavior could disrupt community efforts to curb COVID-19 cases. “I heard from a lot of people who didn’t feel comfortable going to the shops and groceries,” Schoenfeld says. “You didn’t know how well the students were complying with precautions the community had gotten used to abiding by.”
The return to campus Despite residents’ concerns about student behavior, Northwestern has yet to experience a large-scale COVID-19 outbreak — at least not as to the extent of as many of its peers. As of Nov. 23, the University has reported 525 confirmed COVID-19 cases since March. At the nearby University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, 230 community members tested positive in one day. Hercules’s house is practically embedded in Northwestern’s sprawling campus. Living across the street from the Foster-Walker Complex, he describes students typically housed in Plex as “quiet” and “courteous.” For Hercules, nearby off-campus students hadn’t become disruptive until this summer, but he remains sympathetic to the mindset of young adults. “Students will be students,” he says. Since Schoenfeld says most students he encounters wear masks, he characterizes the situation in Evanston rationally: “It could be worse.” For off-campus students, life feels different — and much quieter — in apartments and sidewalks that were once crowded. Aware they’re “outsiders” in Evanston, some students have a heightened sense of respect for their neighbors in terms of COVID-19 precautions, Medill second-year Grayson Welo says. She remains “extra cautious” within her apartment building, wearing her mask constantly and often waiting to ride the elevator alone despite its two-person limit. “I don’t want to make anyone
else feel uncomfortable,” Welo says. “I tend to err on the side of caution.” Medill second-year Kacee Haslett, who has kept her circle of friends small, says she believes Evanston residents “probably resent us more than we’d like.” Still, her interactions with neighbors have been varied: Multiple adults have thanked her and her friends for wearing masks. At Northwestern, confirmed cases have remained relatively low. In Evanston, daily active cases were hovering around 362 as of Nov. 23, but as cold weather drives people inside, cases are rising. In some ways, this data may obscure the full story, says White, the longtime Evanston resident. While citywide COVID-19 data includes positive cases among Northwestern community members, the public dashboard doesn’t differentiate between cases among Evanston residents and those among University members. White has attempted to convince the city to separate the data; she says this breakdown would provide a clearer roadmap for both Northwestern and Evanston officials to implement virus mitigation strategies. However, city officials including Health & Human Services Department Director Ike Ogbo have confirmed the city is not considering differentiating the data for privacy reasons. “If I saw an Evanston number that said we had 100 new cases, I have concerns that people in the community will say, ‘It’s just because students are back,’” Ogbo says. “But if five of those cases are students and 95 of them are community, this community needs to be woken up.” Recently, though, both Chicago FEATURES
and Evanston have seen a sharp rise in cases. Between Nov. 13 and 19, Northwestern reported 98 new cases — its highest total yet. White is concerned about the thousands of students currently planning to come to campus in January, though she believes administrators might change their plans. “Unless there is a drastic change in the country’s case counts, it is completely irresponsible to bring students back in January,” she says. “Anything that encourages that much travel seems completely out of sync with the messages we are getting from the trusted health sources.”
Dealing with complaints Davis says the office attempts to “get in front” of these issues, and this proactive approach guided its community-wide public health campaign. At the quarter’s start, University officials dotted the campus with signs reminding students to follow health guidelines and visited offcampus students, knocking on doors and reminding students of COVID-19 behavioral guidelines. Davis says administrators concentrated their visits on students living in “problem homes.” “Despite some of these efforts, there are still the bad actors, simply because we can't control all of our students and their behavior,” he says. “If we do receive credible reports of the complaints, we certainly will investigate these claims.” To Schoenfeld, students and residents should shoulder an
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equal responsibility in keeping the community safe. “Students are adults,” he says. “They better behave like adults.” But he says Northwestern administrators still aren’t doing enough to encourage compliance among students to health guidelines, such as monitoring offcampus students. “The University definitely has a responsibility to communicate expectations to students who return,” Schoenfeld says. “They can step up and take responsibility for setting the expectations and enforcing them.” But when it comes to flouting guidelines, students likely aren’t entirely to blame. Welo says she’s noticed some Evanston residents near her apartment not wearing face coverings in public. From Davis’s walks around Fireman’s Park and the University’s neighborhood, he says “nine times out of 10” students are wearing masks. For now, he’s comfortable with the school’s place in Evanston, he says. With winter quarter presenting the return of thousands of students and a potential uptick in cases, Davis says students have to continue to comply. “In this moment, I think we're doing a good job,” he says. “It seems like the strategies we put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID are working. But we have to remain vigilant. We can't become complacent. And we'll continue to do the right thing here at the University and in partnership with the Evanston community.”
“UNLESS THERE IS A DRASTIC CHANGE IN THE COUNTRY’S CASE COUNTS, IT IS COMPLETELY IRRESPONSIBLE TO BRING STUDENTS BACK IN JANUARY.” -CAROL WHITE, EVANSTON RESIDENT OF 28 YEARS
Shall remain nameless
Online anonymity has empowered Northwestern students to take on the institutions they’ve seen fail them. WRITTEN BY ELISE HANNUM DESIGNED BY CYNTHIA ZHANG
Content Warning: This story discusses experience and topics related to sexual assault.
hen Olivia Stent messaged @NuPredators on Twitter, she wasn’t looking for them to share her story. Instead, she wanted to know if they knew anything about the person who assaulted her. The Weinberg third-year had read posts from the account before — enough of them to feel safe reaching out to its anonymous moderator to see if there were any other experiences like hers. “It’s bad; you don’t want it to happen to anyone else. You don’t want that to be an issue for anyone else. But if it did, and you’re not alone, it’s more valid,” Stent says. “I feel like that kind of helps. It’s not comforting but just makes you feel like ‘Wow, you’re not crazy. That wasn’t okay, what happened.’” The account messaged her back: They hadn’t, but they would post her story if she wanted. Stent declined; she thought the odds were too high that people would recognize her, even without her name attached to the tweet. “If that happens, and they follow me on Instagram, and then their
friends follow me and they’re saying, ‘Why would you say that?’ and ‘That’s not what happened.’ I can’t deal with that,” Stent says. Stent, like many other college students, grew up in the age of the internet and, by extension, anonymity. She and her peers up-voted the latest gossip on Yik Yak. They spent sleepovers sitting face-to-face with complete strangers on Omegle. They fielded each other questions they’d dare not ask in the cafeteria on Ask.fm. As this generation moved onto college campuses, that comfort migrated onto Snapchat and Instagram, with accounts devoted to airing out whatever thoughts they wanted to share with the world — from stream-of-consciousness rants to snapshots of college debauchery — without names attached. Now, especially at Northwestern, anonymous social media accounts
have taken a more serious turn: transforming into forums to hear students’ voices as they share experiences with racism, sexual assault and the institutions that have failed them.
Perhaps the most recognizable anonymous social media account of all is the “confessions page,” where users can post their thoughts anonymously. They’re so recognizable, in fact, that they’ve even reached academia. A Northwestern study in 2015 entitled “Is it Weird to Still Be a Virgin?” found that the majority of questions on these Facebook pages solicited opinions — “what do you women think about guys who smoke weed? turn off? turn on? neutral?” — or were rhetorical: “Why can’t I ever feel pretty? The guys always go for my friends.”
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A University representative who might have conflicts of interest and wants to protect the University might not really understand your experience as well and might not be as genuinely empathetic or provide support in that way. - Fiona*
the page’s shift in tone. He thinks Northwestern students are political in the first place, but says this year in particular has been a time where social change is at the forefront of tense conversations. So, he decided to try to lighten things up on the page. “I was like, this Twitter account needs a little respite,” he says. “I’ll just submit one; we’ll see if it gets posted.” After drafting a few submissions, he only remembers one making it onto the page: “Anyone else getting handjobs during Zoom class?” It’s since been deleted, but Kyle* doesn’t have any regrets about his submission. “I’d do it again,” he says. “It was enjoyable. I don’t know why more people don’t post things like that.” But according to Birnholtz, eliminating accountability can open up opportunities for both positive and negative behavior. Someone could post a risqué joke, but they could also send messages too hateful to be uttered in public. “You see a lot of trolling and bullying and very negative behaviors, because people know they can get away with anything because they won’t be held accountable, or at least they’re unlikely to be held accountable,” Birnholtz says. “And then on the other side, you have positive disinhibition, which is that people can experiment or disclose
At least four of these confessionstyle pages exist at Northwestern: one on Facebook, two on Instagram and (most recently) one on Twitter. According to Associate Professor Jeremy Birnholtz, one of the study’s co-authors, there are a few reasons why people often turn to these pages. “Probably the most important [phenomenon] is called disinhibition,” says Birnholtz, who directs the Social Media Lab in Northwestern’s School of Communication. “The idea there is that when you get taken away from your identity in different ways, you can engage in behavior that you wouldn’t otherwise do, because you know you’re not going to be held accountable for that behavior.” As many Northwestern students settled back into their childhood homes in March, the Twitter account @numarchmadness appeared. It hosted a competition between members of “NU Twitter”: that is, Northwestern students the moderators deemed to have a Twitter presence worthy enough to compete. They paired students to “face off ” each week in a poll, with the victors advancing in a bracket-style tournament. Once the competition ended (in a tie), however, the page rebranded as a classic confessions forum. Like similar pages that came before it, though, its posts weren’t limited to pining after a campus crush or reminiscing about college experiences during quarantine. After all, there were no strict guidelines on what people could or couldn’t submit. So, more and more submissions invoked increasingly serious topics: race, socioeconomic class, sexual assault. The person behind the account occasionally made comments on posts — explaining why they posted something that may be controversial, encouraging people to just share their opinions on their personal pages or just making jokes — but otherwise let the submissions speak for themselves. Kyle*, a Medill third-year, noticed
things that they wouldn’t otherwise disclose.” Those concepts aren’t new, either, he notes: In the 1970s and ‘80s, for example, queer and transgender people used the internet to connect with each other and experiment with their identities. Posts on @numarchmadness are also reactive; it’s possible to trace student responses to different waves of news through them. That same month, the page saw a flurry of tweets about Associated Student Government (ASG) elections. And in May, there was a long series of confessions about another anonymous Northwestern account on the rise: @NuPredators.
“DMs are open,” reads the first ever tweet from the @NuPredators account. It’s a message reiterated in the page’s bio, along with a list of potential trigger warnings and the profile picture, a menacing-looking Willie the Wildcat plushie. Each tweet’s content is just as straightforward: screenshots — some short, some multiple pages long — of direct messages to the account sharing information about abusers. Submissions about the same person are compiled into threads, some as many as six stories long. There are updates to previous submissions,
too: A survivor may decide to call out someone by name when they didn’t do so initially. The senders’ names, however, are always cropped out. Moderators don’t add any commentary to @NuPredators submissions, besides the occasional content warning. Their most active engagement was just days after the account’s creation: A message had brought up “tarnish[ing] someone’s reputation without reason,” while another mentioned legal issues that could arise from posting people’s names. The moderators’ response to these arguments, however, was quite clear: “it’s [sic] sentiments like this that make it so hard for survivors to come forward. “We believe all survivors! we [sic] have to keep each other safe!” reads a May 8 post. Another on May 13 asserted that victims “do not have the [sic] re-hash the details of your assault experience. We are not here to ‘fact check’ your story. We believe you.” Affirmations like these, Stent says, were part of the reason she felt comfortable sending her first direct message. “Their statements on it were very much just like, ‘We’re going to believe survivors and women.’ And I was like, ‘This is a safe space for me to ask this person, and I don’t really need to know who it is,’” she says. But sometimes the appearance of safety isn’t enough. It doesn’t solve the problem of not knowing exactly who’s on the other side of the screen, or the potential social ramifications if they know submitters. Survivors need to message the account to share their story, which exposes their identity to moderators (unless they make their own “burner” account). That’s the problem Fiona*, who graduated in 2019, faced when she stumbled upon the page. “Some of the posts that I read there just had things that really resonated with me,” Fiona* says. “I think that that was so validating to hear from somebody else, and so I sort of wanted to be that for somebody else.” After reading through the page, she drafted her own post in her Notes app.
She omitted or generalized some facts of the incident — the perpetrator’s name, dorm names, the year it happened — to make sure no one could tell it was her. But she was still concerned about being identified. “[The moderators may have been] in my social circles, or knew enough to piece together who the person I was talking about was,” Fiona* says. “It’s hard. I wasn’t sure if I could accurately represent what I wanted to say in such a short post. Once it’s out there, people may interpret it differently.” Everyone involved had graduated, she thought, so her story wouldn’t be as helpful to current students. It stayed in her Notes app instead. When Stent considered posting, she was also worried about social capital on campus. If a perpetrator was popular (hers was in a fraternity), the social aftershocks for an identified victim could be severe. Still, Birnholtz says, the act of writing out a post, even if it doesn’t end up getting submitted, may be beneficial; the reflection, for example, could help with processing a traumatic experience. “Your generation has been admonished from when you were three to be careful about what you share online. And so I think there’s an awareness of the fact that often things online aren’t truly anonymous,” he says. “People do take calculated risks when they make any sort of disclosure usually, that’s talking about things with your real name. But you could still make an argument that there is a sort of privacy calculus going on, where people are making a decision of, ‘Do I want to disclose this thing that’s fundamental to me? But at the same time, I may not be ready to deal with the world knowing about it.’” While neither Stent nor Fiona* posted their experiences, they also both avoided another action: reporting to the University. It took Stent time for her to register her experience as an assault. She knew she didn’t like the perpetrator and that she didn’t want
to see him again, but it wasn’t until she discussed with a friend that she realized that it “counted.” “I would just be like, ‘Is this even a big enough thing to even say something about?’” Stent says. “I don’t trust police. And then the fact that if you were to bring that forward, that person gets confronted, and then they can say whatever the frick they want about you. That’s terrifying.” Fiona* also thinks submitters may be finding solidarity with the account’s main audience: fellow students. “A University representative who might have conflicts of interest and wants to protect the University might not really understand your experience as well and might not be as genuinely empathetic or provide support in that way,” she says. Although Stent wants to believe there’s something the University could do to make survivors more comfortable coming forward, neither she nor Fiona* can decide exactly what that would be. Stent thinks the issue goes beyond Northwestern, too; administrators can’t control the social and societal effects of coming forward. It’s possible, though, for an account to serve as a sounding board to leverage Northwestern to make changes to its campus. In fact, in late July, a group of students decided to challenge one of its oldest and most embedded institutions: Greek life.
In the wake of national civil rights movements sparked by the murder of George Floyd in May, organizers focused their attention on a range of institutions used to hold up racism, sexism, homophobia and more. On many college campuses, students increasingly centered on one culprit: the Greek system. So, a wave of Instagram accounts appeared, incorporating aesthetic graphics into their calls to abolish Greek life at schools across the country. The
movement reached Northwestern in late July, when @abolishnugreeklife made its first post, demanding that the University dismantle the Greek system on campus. The team that runs the account now says they aren’t the same group that started it in the summer. But to them, that doesn’t matter — the account isn’t about them; it’s about the stories they are sharing. “[We’re] giving people a platform to talk about why Greek life needs to be abolished, and talk about their experiences and not have it be so highrisk or have to deal with paperwork, or other logistics,” a member says. “We don’t go in and fact-check things or investigate further. We just post things that people submit, unless things are super heinous or seem untrue. But other than that, we view it more as a whiteboard for people’s thoughts.” Although @abolishnugreeklife does not post anyone’s names and is very open about making corrections when needed, the page has faced its own share of backlash. On Northwestern’s GreekRank page, where students (often presumably Greek-affiliated) discuss different sorority and fraternity chapters on campus, one poster asserted that rush would still happen, “regardless of these soft SJW geeds, squids and anti american, anti capitalist people.” Another brought up the concern that people were submitting fake posts and promoting a competing Instagram account: @reformgreeklifenu. That page didn’t gain very much traction by comparison, with 60 followers to the abolition-focused page’s more than 3,000. The Abolish NU Greek Life account was briefly blocked from posting, too. The moderators behind the account still don’t know why that happened; they think it’s possible Instagram froze the account because of the frequency of the posts or following people en masse, (potential signs of a spam account). Another speculation is that people also were reporting the account.
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“That’s the downside of doing it the way we are. You run the risk of people taking advantage of that empathy,” a moderator says. “At the end of the day, we have hundreds of stories that are true, and that are really speaking to other people about how terrible the system is and how much we need to abolish it. It’s completely worth the risk, in our opinion, that we possibly have one or two people who are taking advantage of it. But they aren’t saying things that have never happened in Greek life before.” Weinberg third-year Allison* describes herself as someone who was somewhat anti-Greek life for a while, and she wanted to add to the voices speaking out against the system. She didn’t have a discriminatory experience within her sorority, but she had one with a member of a fraternity. “I wanted to show people that Northwestern is not an exception to issues that you see in frats around the country,” Allison* says. “I think a lot of people have this idea that Northwestern, because it’s a good school, like a very prestigious school, and maybe smaller, that it’s exempt from all the problems that you see elsewhere, which is just not the case.” She watched and waited for a while before sending in her submission, however, to see the reaction to people’s posts and consider how to make sure she wasn’t recognized. Eventually, she wrote up her own submission. Allison* was also more comfortable with sharing her story because she’d found a little bit of closure in terms of her assault. She’d told some of her friends that were in the same fraternity as the perpetrator, and they were in the process of dealing with the issue internally. She emphasizes, though, that although the particular incident she posted about was the worst, she’s been harrassed in fraternity spaces in other ways more than once. “Even though this got dealt with, there’s so many other things that have been unresolved and things that have been excused,” she says.
It can also be difficult to come forward with issues in Greek organizations while still at Northwestern, especially when there is very little faith in the official administrative channels. For Danielle*, a member of the class of 2020, the Abolish Greek Life movement started just as she was on her way out, and she figured she had nothing to lose. Her focus wasn’t solely on her assault, either, but also on her sorority’s reaction to it. Even after she told her sorority sisters — people who were meant to care about her and love her — and they believed her, they still stayed friends with the perpetrator. What’s more, she had some regrets about her own experience in Greek life while in school. “Even before this happened, I was really upset with the way that I was tokenized and how it just wasn’t inclusive, financially and otherwise. And I felt really, really guilty for staying in my sorority my last year at Northwestern,” Danielle* says. “I did it because I wanted to prove to them how strong I was and not let them win. But I felt immensely guilty for remaining in this inequitable system. And so I think that was another reason why I submitted: because I just wanted to do something right for once.” While she had a good experience seeking out support from Center for Awareness, Response and Education (CARE), she didn’t report the incident to Title IX or another university office. Beyond hearing horror stories from other students, she also knew from taking sociology and gender studies classes that the research showed that the likelihood of getting the justice they sought was low. The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL), which oversees the Greek system at Northwestern, is aware of the account and the posts. Travis Martin, the office’s director, encourages students to reach out to them, and they will, in turn, point them to the appropriate offices to help them with their problems. But
I did it because I wanted to prove to them how strong I was and not let them win. But I felt immensely guilty for remaining in this inequitable system. - Danielle*
the posts themselves may also hold weight without corroborating reports. “We are going to be doing and pulling together a climate study task force group to really dive into some data around what is the actual experience. And certainly I think some of the posts that are being made anonymously on social media is a source of data too,” Martin says. “We also have other university data that is around different themes and different topics like leadership or sexual assault. From a more holistic standpoint, I think some of the data that the University owns is a more representative sample.” Martin also points to changes that organizations have made on their own with the support of FSL. The Panhellenic Association cancelled formal sorority recruitment for this year. Multiple sororities, such as Gamma Phi Beta and Delta Delta Delta, have held votes to disband, but with minimal success due to losing the vote or limitations placed by their national organizations. Fraternities, too, like Sigma Nu, have seen mass deactivation. Beyond that, though, the Greek system has largely remained intact. Martin speculates that students may feel more comfortable submitting to accounts like Abolish NU Greek Life because they believe they have more agency and control over what happens with the
information. He thinks they may not be aware of the resources the University offers, or they may not be used to reaching out to them. That’s where FSL is meant to come in: to help build those relationships between students and the University. “We get to know the chapter presidents. And given the capacity of our office, we don’t necessarily always get to know the individual general member,” he says. “So I think there have to be more thoughtful ways around how we engage with our chapters.” As helpful as it may be for individuals, one of the goals behind the Abolish NU Greek Life page is to completely dismantle the Greek system on Northwestern’s campus, and that can be difficult to accomplish while maintaining the moderators’ anonymity. Pushing the movement forward involves talks with the University, moving their platform off Instagram and creating more concrete change in the real world. “What we also really want is for the University to understand where we’re coming from because this movement has lived mainly on Instagram,” the moderator says. “Social media doesn’t necessarily speak to the Board of Trustees or to the actual institution and the people who have power to make larger changes. So getting help from the larger institution is really important
in not only allowing other chapters to disband but also keeping this movement going forward.” Although Danielle* thinks the page is powerful — it shows that abolition is becoming more important to Northwestern students — she says it can’t be the end of change at the school. “[People reposting] aren’t necessarily doing the work that is required for a more equitable Northwestern,” she says. “How are you going to repost Abolish NU Greek Life but then still remain friends with my rapist, you know? This doesn’t make sense.” While the moderators say a team focused on activism may gradually emerge as more of the face of the movement, they are still planning on keeping the Instagram account going — and maintaining anonymity on that front. “I think that’s just being respectful to the people who are telling us their stories,” the moderator says. “And trusting us to protect them and keep their stories as private as they want.” As of publication, Officials from Northwestern Media Relations did not respond to a request for comment. *Names have been changed to preserve the student’s anonymity.
The complicated network of policing on Northwestern’s campus stalls meaningful change. WRITTEN BY GIA YETIKYEL // DESIGNED BY EMMA ESTBERG
t first, the protest felt like any other to Denise.* She chanted along like usual — “You can’t stop the revolution. Abolition is the solution” — a call that echoed across the nearly 150 students gathered outside the John Evans Alumni Center and marching to the front of the Evanston Public Library on Oct. 31. But it wasn’t the same as all of the other protests Northwestern University Community Not Cops (NUCNC) had held. She felt the atmosphere change as rows of police officers armed with riot gear, pepper ball launchers and chemical weapon canisters arranged themselves around the protestors. For over a month, NUCNC hosted daily protests and programs in efforts to abolish the Northwestern Police Department (NUPD). The abolitionist organization created by Northwestern University students has been pushing the University administration to release its police budget and, ultimately, abolish the campus police. Defunding the police is a step in the direction of abolition. Abolition calls for the deconstruction of all militarized forces and prison systems, and by largely reducing funds from police departments and other organizations financed by local municipalities, this money can support systems that would better benefit the community (like social services). Denise* vividly remembers officers launching canisters of chemical ammunition into the crowd of students, not realizing what had happened until she and her friends started to cough. They were able to get out before police started to surround and contain the crowd, although they were cut off when they tried to rejoin the group. An officer approached them when they began recording and told them to rejoin the crowd or leave. They had no choice but to leave. “That makes it clear to me that, no, police are not here to protect anything but property,” she says.
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WHO’S ON CAMPUS? NUPD is a private police department that has jurisdiction over the University community and its surrounding area. It claims to focus on crime prevention through a “proactive approach,” according to its website. NUPD’s jurisdiction only covers campus and nearby city streets, but it provides services 24 hours a day, year-round. NUPD says it works closely with students, faculty and staff among the Evanston and Chicago campuses. In addition, it promotes a Community Policing Program, which attempts to develop a positive relationship between the Northwestern community and NUPD to mutually identify and solve problems. Community policing supports having more police integration in communities and giving officers individual identities (opposed to categorizing them all as “police officers”) so that relationships between officers and civilians are more personalized. But community policing also encourages greater surveillance and normalizes a heavier police presence. Despite being a private organization, under state law NUPD has the same power and responsibilities as municipal police. NUPD has close working relationships with the Evanston and Chicago Police Departments including joint investigations for large incidents. They also continue to work with the Illinois State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In addition to in-person monitoring, University Police Chief Bruce Lewis noted that, as of summer 2020, the University has 1,500 cameras across campus. Police officers (but not community service officers) must graduate from a 560-hour Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board approved police academy and pass a 70-day comprehensive field-training program that prepares trainees to work on both of the University’s campuses. As of November 2020, 23 police officers and 20 community service officers serve on the NUPD force. After students demanded the NUPD financial budget over 150 days ago, administrators released a partial budget report on Nov. 16. The report showed a steady increase in funds from 2011 to 2019, rising from $8.2 million to $11.5 million. While the budget shared some critical details, NUPD’s status as a private institution means that other information can be withheld from the public.
POLICE MORE THAN A VISIT The University maintains professional ties with Evanston Police Department (EPD) and the Chicago Police Department (CPD), with Northwestern maintaining an “Agreement for Mutual Cooperation” with the EPD. Northwestern works with these respective departments and their communities to further communication and improve responses to reported concerns. This business contract clarifies jurisdiction for the individual departments regarding investigations, ticketing and other responsibilities. In cases of sexual assault, on-campus deaths and child abuse, for example, the EPD has primary jurisdiction for investigation. The EPD follows the “industry standard” for overall conduct, according to Evanston Police Chief Demitrous Cook. But the industry standard may not be so easy to decode; according to the United States Department of Justice, “There is no universal standard for the structure, size, or governance of police departments in the United States.” The EPD is required to submit a “use of force report” if physical force or allegations of force — like strikes or pushing to the ground — occur during an encounter on duty. But non-impact baton techniques, holding, gripping, pressure points and joint manipulation aren’t considered use of force and don’t require a report unless injury or death result from the incident. In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled in Graham v. Connor that “The ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene.” There is a list of factors officers should keep in mind — like the severity of the threat or effects of drugs or alcohol — but during an arrest, they can use force if they deem it necessary. EPD can also call upon the services of the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System (NIPAS), as they did for the Oct. 31 protest. NIPAS is a public institution composed of multiple suburban police departments in the Chicago metropolitan area, which includes more than 100 villages, cities and towns in five counties, according to its website. EPD, which is a member of the institution, can utilize NIPAS for additional support if the department feels like they need more resources to handle a situation. NUPD, as a private institution, isn’t a part of NIPAS and can’t ask for their services.
In a recently released document, obtained by Medill fourth-year Adam Mahoney via the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, Deputy Chief David Clark of the Oakbrook Terrace Police Department emailed EPD Deputy Chief Melissa Sacluti on Oct. 31 that support would only be given on that day’s protest if they were allowed to “intervene” and “if necessary, make arrests for property damage.” “Deploying our team and forcing us to standby [sic] and watch criminal acts take place in front of us goes against organizational goals and standards,” Clark wrote. The email also noted the importance of NIPAS’s reputation; to Clark, not being able to intervene “tarnishes [the] team’s reputation.” Denise* remembers the police officers in riot gear aiming chemical ammunition at the protestors that night, which is considered a use of force. Denise* says she saw who the police protect, and it wasn’t her. “There’s nothing scarier than coughing and realizing what’s just happened to you,” she says. “I don’t feel safe, on the most basic level, just because a lot of [the police] don’t wear masks. And now, one of them has proven to get very close and personal. I never feel safe because they show up in riot gear, even when it’s completely peaceful.”
The NUPD budget has been rising since 2011 and has settled above 10 million dollars per ﬁscal year. 11.5M 11.5M 11.2M 8.2M
8.6M 8.6M 8.9M 9.0M
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Data found in Northwestern University Department of Safety and Security Overview
UNDERSTANDING REFORM VS ABOLITION
BRUSHES WITH REFORM
What is police reform — and why do organizations like NUCNC call for abolition instead? Reform pushes for change within the institution and its system to improve accountability and policing tactics. Abolition is rooted in the notion that policing cannot be fixed because it is systemically racist and fundamentally broken. It aims to change what policing is and does by taking it apart and creating a new system outside of policing. In an email sent on Oct. 19, President Morton Schapiro wrote that reform is the only option he is considering for the University, writing that while Northwestern intends to improve NUPD, the University will not abolish it. He also expressed how “disgusted” he felt toward the protesters “who chose to disgrace this University in such a fashion.” The University has engaged with reform in the past through the formation of a Police Advisory Board (PAB). Made up of representatives from organizations of both faculty, staff and students, its objective is to provide an inclusive environment focused on awareness, communications, monitoring and reporting. But many say the PAB has had little to no interaction among its members or the community. LaCharles Ward, a former Northwestern doctoral student, tweeted on Oct. 20 about his experience on the PAB: “While at @ NorthwesternU, I ‘sat’ on the Police Accountability Board for 3 years. In those years we met ZERO times. Yes, 0.” A recent email from Schapiro highlighted more acts of reform, including a new community safety advisory board, campus dialogues and anti-racism training. SESP third-year Daniel Rodriguez, the Executive Officer of Justice and Inclusion in Associated Student Government (ASG), has worked closely with Schapiro on how to support student protesters and facilitate campus dialogues to give students and activists a space to speak. Rodriguez says that the PAB has been mostly inactive, and many students within the listed organizations who are part of the PAB weren’t even aware of the board. While the University attempts to reform, he says it’s necessary to “[listen] to the valid concerns of students about abolition and ideas that they’ve been presenting for so long.”
Even though CPD has been attempting reform for over half a century, it is still the subject of numerous investigations and claims of excessive force, including the killing of a Black Northwestern University student and athlete, Bobby Russ. Russ would have graduated in 1999, but CPD Officer Van Watts IV shot and killed him on the Dan Ryan Expressway weeks before graduation. While the City of Chicago paid $9.6 million after losing a wrongful death civil lawsuit from Russ’ family, the officer faced no criminal charges. Officer Van Watts IV remains a CPD officer to this day. The lawsuit claimed Officer Van Watts IV was “out of control” and had broken departmental rules when he killed Russ, but he only received a 15-day suspension in 1999 due to “procedural violations.” In 2018, Watts earned $129,935 as an active police officer for the CPD, which is higher than 82.85% of CPD officers. Medill fourth-year Duncan Agnew** remembers reading an article about Russ’ life on the 21st anniversary of his death. What particularly stuck out to him was that Russ lived across the street from where Agnew lives now. Agnew created a petition five months ago demanding justice for Russ, calling on Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPD Superintendent David Brown to remove Watts from the CPD and open a new, independent investigation into Russ’ murder. “I was also just kind of angry and disgusted that Northwestern had its own student not just brutalized, but killed at the hands of a police officer, and no one talks about it,” Agnew says. “We can all be students here 20 years later, in the same national climate where Black people are getting killed by police every day, and Northwestern can continue to not acknowledge the literal death of a student that was caused by police brutality.” While the petition has reached 3,448 signatures since its conception, neither CPD nor Mayor Lightfoot has responded or taken any action to remove Watts from his position. In an effort to reform, the Northwestern Neighborhood & Network Initiative (N3) — a research lab that studies issues like gun violence and police misconduct — has
CPD officer complaints from January to October increased once the training effects wore off. training begins training ends
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effects of training end
Data from the Civilian Office of Police Accountability
conducted research on ways to improve relationships between police and Chicago communities. The lab, currently directed by Weinberg sociology professor Andrew Papachristos, has recently used maps and network science to decrease gun violence and evaluated police-community engagement efforts. The study showed a 10% decrease in filed complaints against police and a 6% decrease in use of force by police officers during the two years after their training. The training takes about one day and follows the “procedural justice” model, which focuses on transparency, community concerns and building healthier and more respectful relationships between the police and the community. While this study shows that the staggered training from January 2012 to March 2016 among the 8,000 police officers decreased complaints against CPD, the success was only temporary: complaints rose again two years after the study, with June 2020 seeing 823 complaints (the highest in eight years). Papachristos says the lab doesn’t have an official stance on reform versus abolition and that research is a necessary throughline in both philosophies. “I want to be clear that I believe there is a space for social science in all of these debates,” Papachristos says. “But these debates are not about social science at the moment; they’re about justice. They’re about morality.” Following the murder of George Floyd, N3 worked with EPD to conduct a review of the department’s current policies at the request of Chief Cook. N3 recommended EPD focus on proportionality, sanctity of life, accountability and oversight — meaning police must prioritize de-escalation, promoting and following a transparent force policy and protecting officer and civilian life equally. This past June, Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty announced the city would join the 90-Day Use of Force Pledge that evaluated use of force policies in police departments throughout the U.S. The pledge committed the city to review police force policies, engage with the community for input and review, report findings, ask for feedback within 90 days of signing the pledge and reform the use of force based on said feedback. On Oct. 15, former president Barack Obama referenced N3’s review on Twitter in a thread about communities working with their police departments, praising Northwestern faculty and students’ coordination with the police department to improve training and accountability. But students — who have remained on the frontlines of daily protests — saw it differently. One reply included a picture of NUCNC’s daily protest information and a caption: “Day 4/? To get northwestern [sic] police abolished and get northwestern to invest in black lives.”
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE STUDENTS — AND THEIR VOICES? The new community safety advisory board will consist of faculty, staff and student representatives, and it will meet monthly to focus on relationships between the Northwestern community and NUPD. Feinberg School of Medicine Professor Clyde Yancy will serve as the board’s chair. In the University’s most recent Community Dialogue event on Nov. 18, administrators said the board would be different from previous incarnations — but as of now, it’s unclear what that will specifically look like. On Oct. 27, NUCNC tweeted their reaction to the new board, which they saw as inhibiting their ultimate goal: “NO MORE ADVISORY BOARDS NO MORE TASKS FORCES!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU WILL NOT STALL US UNTIL GRADUATION.” Despite being unwilling to commit to divestment from NUPD, Provost Kathleen Hagerty said that administration will re-evaluate NUPD’s role on campus. While Denise* understands the school’s efforts, she believes that defunding — then abolishing — NUPD would be a more effective solution. Eventually, she hopes to see campus police phased out altogether and replaced with social workers and medical and mental health professionals. Rodriguez was also not impressed with the announcement of the new board and questions how well it will work. He believes there isn’t a next step for reform, especially given the PAB’s negligible campus presence and impact. “I want the board to obviously work out but I don’t want it to be like, let’s reform so NUPD can continue to do the harm that they are doing.” Rodriguez says. “How can we eventually lead to a point where our community would not need them in this space?” *Names have been changed to preserve the student’s anonymity. **Agnew is a former contributor to North by Northwestern. NBN reached out to NUPD Chief of Police Bruce Lewis multiple times regarding comments about NUPD and the PAB but received no response. Deputy Chief of Police Eric Chin forwarded our email to Assistant Vice President of Communications Jon Yates, who offered to get in contact with Feinberg Professor Clyde Yancy, the chair to the new advisory board, and receive questions via email. As of publication, NBN has yet to receive a response. FEATURES
The sudden decision to send half of Northwesternâ€™s student body home created a socioeconomic rift on campus.
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WRITTEN BY OLIVIA EVANS // DESIGNED BY SOOIM KANG
n Aug. 28, Weinberg firstyear Allison Brook was eating out with her parents for the first time in months at her favorite, newly reopened New York restaurant, Nippon Cha. It was a celebratory send-off meal days before she planned to move into her Allison Hall dorm room. As her family waited for the bill, Brook checked her phone to see a new text from her roommate-to-be, Weinberg first-year Anna Westfall: “It’s not happening. We’re not going.” Brook’s heart sank. Her shaky hands quickly opened her phone’s email app to reveal the upsetting news: Northwestern University would not allow first-year or secondyear students to reside on campus in the fall, with very limited exceptions. After a disappointing end to her senior year of high school and a quarantined summer, Brook felt her last hope of normalcy disappear. “It felt very apocalyptic,” Brook says. “Everything this year has just been very disheartening.” Following the last-minute announcement, first- and secondyear students scrambled to make new plans for fall quarter. Although Northwestern’s email urged students to stay home unless they qualified for a housing exemption to live on campus (based on hardship, safety concerns or specific academic needs), many students ignored this request, desperate to make a return to Evanston.
The Suite Life The Hilton Garden Inn, where Westfall is currently living, now hosts 30 other students on her floor. The Hilton Orrington has also converted itself into a quasidorm for Northwestern students. Both hotels pandered to students’ desperate need for secure housing, offering more amenities and fewer restrictions than residence halls for around $50 per night (paid upfront each month). At the Orrington, students brought their own linens and cleaning supplies to upkeep their already furnished rooms. Garden Inn residents, on the other hand, live more similarly to hotel guests: They can even request for hotel staff to clean their room on a weekly basis. The Garden Inn also converted a conference room into a designated study space, exclusively for Northwestern students. Students at the Orrington can sign up for a laundry service through LazyBones at a discounted rate offered through the hotel. The hotel also offers an optional “grab & go” food plan through a catering service — with extravagant meals like lemongrass and basil stir fry potstickers and cucumber and cilantro salad. The full plan, including 168 meals for the quarter, is $1680 before tax, slightly less than Northwestern’s usual allaccess meal plan. While the Orrington required students to sign a waiver affirming
that they would conduct daily selfchecks for COVID-19 symptoms, they do not have to get tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis (unlike those in dorms). Residents of the Garden Inn are required to be tested weekly (either at the Jacobs Center or external facilities), which students keep track of through a group chat, allowing them to interact with less worry of infection. Through living in the hotel, Westfall has been able to make connections without relying on online interactions. During her first few weeks in Evanston, she was able to meet in-person with people in her PA group, go for runs around campus with other students and even receive a campus tour from a professor. With the assurance weekly testing provides, she has been able to interact with other students living in the hotel through late-night study sessions or spending time together in each other’s rooms.
“It’s hard seeing that other people were able to leave their homes and move on, and I feel like I’m still slightly held back from that.” -Michelle Hong, Medill first-year FEATURES
“I am very privileged and grateful to be able to have this experience in the first place,” Westfall says. Hotel stays are not the only luxurious option for students in Evanston right now. Medill secondyear Ben Chasen says looking for a place off-campus was a “mad dash” after the sudden announcement. Chasen’s options were scarce and expensive because most offcampus apartments were claimed by the time he began looking. Desperate to make a return to the college lifestyle, he and his friends even considered getting an Airbnb in Chicago or elsewhere. After a few days of weighing his options and searching for places, Chasen worried he would have to spend another quarter at his home in Los Angeles. Then, a friend offered him a spot in a two-bedroom apartment in Albion, a luxury apartment complex on Sherman Avenue that finished construction in February. Though it wasn’t his first choice, Chasen accepted the offer almost immediately and began filing the paperwork to move in. “It’s outrageous. I never imagined living anywhere like [Albion] until well into a professional career at the very least,” Chasen says. While he and his roommates have agreed to follow COVID-19
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guidelines at Albion, they’ve been able to host small groups at their apartment and meet up with people around Evanston. However, this freedom comes at a cost. Chasen is planning to become a part-time student at some point this year in order to afford the rent he and his family are paying at Albion. Still, he feels fortunate to be able to be in Evanston at all. “There are a lot of people that should have been back in Evanston, and that should have been an opportunity for everyone that was not reliant on income,” Chasen says.
Stuck at Home Brook’s major (Voice and Opera Performance) and consequent need for a piano at her disposal was one
“ I wish we could just
go and see each other and have it be a five-minute walk instead of a commute or a Zoom call.”
-Allison Brook, Weinberg first-year
of the sole reasons she didn’t seek off-campus housing. She decided it would be best for her to stay at her home in New York. With a dual degree in economics, she is currently balancing 5 1/2 credits with a part-time job in hopes of saving money for when she can eventually move onto campus. Sometimes she receives noise complaints from neighbors when she practices for the Northwestern Opera, causing her to limit her practicing hours. Although she’s tried to make connections with other Northwestern students via Instagram, a membership in Hillel and a meet-up in Central Park over the summer, she still feels isolated. “I wish we could just go and see each other and have it be a fiveminute walk instead of a commute or a Zoom call,” Brook says. Weinberg first-year Ruba Memon, a Chicago native, had just convinced her skeptical parents to let her live on campus for the fall when the updated plans for Fall Quarter were announced. Because of the financial burden of finding a place to live off campus, Memon chose to spend Fall Quarter at home. With her rigorous course load, she says she barely has time to interact with her own family. She hasn’t been able to make any friends in-person, and she considers virtual Wildcat Welcome programming, online study groups and Instagram her only means of forming friendships. She made her closest Northwestern friend, Medill first-year Michelle Hong (who’s spending fall quarter at home in Indiana), through an Instagram direct message. “It’s like shooting your friend shot,” Memon says. While creating and maintaining friendships from a distance is difficult due to the awkwardness of digital interaction, the girls have
“ It’s been quite
surreal frankly. I was expecting to embark on this wonderful journey — the best four years of my life — and I never ended up leaving my house.”
-Ethan Voskoff, Weinberg first-year
been able to bond over weekly movie nights and are making their way through the “Harry Potter” series. “I know there’s not a lot of freshmen on campus right now, but you still see it on social media, and it kind of pinches you in the wrong ways,” Hong says. “It’s hard seeing that other people were able to leave their homes and move on, and I feel like I’m still slightly held back from that.” Weinberg first-year Ethan Voskoff is currently living in his home just outside of New Rochelle, New York — the first epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. A Type 1 diabetic, Voskoff doesn’t plan to come to campus until a vaccine for the virus is widely available. “It’s been quite surreal frankly. I was expecting to embark on this wonderful journey — the best four years of my life — and I never ended up leaving my house,” Voskoff says. He’s made friends through his classes, with the help of the private message feature on Zoom. He is also thankful for the network he has been able to build by finding other Northwestern first-years via Instagram; whenever he’s on,
almost anyone with “NU ‘24” in their bio gets a follow. “If I were there, I would definitely have more of a social life,” Voskoff says.
Looking Ahead While the university allotted housing exemptions for firstand second-year students in dire circumstances, many students chose not to live in dorms because of the social constrictions residence hall life has this year. Students in dorms aren’t permitted to have guests over from outside the building or allow anyone other than themselves into their rooms. Mike Masters, an assistant director for Student Enrichment Services, worked on the committee to approve students’ requests to return to campus. He says some students withdrew their requests after hearing what life back on campus was going to look like. Medill second-year Jude Cramer, the vice president of the Communications Residential College, chose not to apply for a housing exemption, instead spending most of Fall Quarter at his home in Wisconsin before moving in with a friend in Evanston at the beginning of November. “My home life is pretty okay. I’m close to my family, so I didn’t want to go through the hassle [of applying for a housing exemption] only to end up living in a dorm without any of my friends,” Cramer says. Cramer attempted to find an offcampus apartment with friends at the beginning of the quarter, but the available options were simply too expensive for his family to afford. He considers himself luckier than most staying at home during this time, due to his tight-knit family and solid friend circle, who communicate via group chats and the occasional Zoom call. Although
he was forced to leave campus just two quarters into his first year, he had already created a solid group of friends and never felt too lonely — but he still faces struggles socially. “When you’re living next to each other it’s so much more natural to just start a conversation and an impromptu hang out. Over Zoom it’s a whole production. You have to find a time that fits into everyone’s schedules, and Zoom fatigue makes it less appealing,” Cramer says. Cramer plans to find an affordable off-campus apartment with friends for winter quarter. However, as a low-income student, his budget is tight: Even with his refund from the University, he’ll most likely have to dip into his personal savings or take out loans. “I think it’s worth it to reclaim what little experience of college that I can,” Cramer says. As winter quarter approaches and COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Illinois, students like Hong and Voskoff, who worry about their personal safety, will most likely have to remain at home. The University recently announced that it will allow students to return to living on campus in the winter, but some students like Chasen have already signed year-long leases in their expensive apartments. Although Brook plans to return to campus in the winter, she doesn’t let herself get too excited about the prospect of life on campus. “I just don’t have any more expectations for the winter. I’m just preparing for the worst but hoping for the best,” Brook says.
d stuff e with
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Northwestern students find a sense of comfort in their plush companions. WRITTEN & PHOTOGRAPHED BY CARLY MENKER // DESIGNED BY MAREN KRANKING
arl Morison, a Weinberg third-year, didn’t bring his teddy bear, Teddy, with him to Northwestern when he lived in a fraternity house. Despite the fact that Teddy gave him immense comfort when he was stressed out or missing home, Teddy found his place on a shelf or in the closet. “I didn’t bring Teddy out much because I didn’t want to have to explain the story to many people, and because it might have been thought of as odd for a maleidentifying person to have a stuffed animal on his bed,” Morison says. As Morison got older, having a stuffed animal came with a negative stigma — so he began to subconsciously look to other methods of coping. He started running or doing various activities outside to help with
the general stress of college, as well as stress-eating snacks and watching lots of Netflix. “For homesickness, instead of using my Teddy to feel like home, I would just call my parents or family instead, as this also gave a feeling of home. I feel like I learned to use these things as coping mechanisms to help me relax, when I probably could have gotten the same effect or better from sleeping with my teddy bear,” Morison says. Having a stuffed animal can ameliorate the feeling of loneliness or even simply just be something to hug. According to a 2018 study from OnePoll and real estate company Life Storage, 43% of American adults engage with stuffed animals. Despite this commonality, a taboo still exists
Weinberg third-year Caroline Forbess’s stuffed bears, Clean Bear and Scratchy Bear, and stuffed basset hound Amy.
— especially as we grow older. But for Northwestern students, it can provide a sense of comfort that’s unlike anything else.
When she was born, Weinberg third-year Caroline Forbess was given two blanket bears and slept with them every night. Even though her parents thought they were identical bears, she knew the difference between them because of their eyes, leading Forbess to name one “Clean Bear” and the other “Scratchy Bear.” Then, when she was 10, her dad gave her a basset hound stuffed dog, which she named Amy: the same name of her dad’s basset hound when he was growing up. Forbess calls her stuffed animals her “lovies,” and they’ve come to be some of her most important possessions, essential to her feeling safe. “When I was dropped off at sleepaway camp for my first time, I remember standing outside my cabin watching my mom drive away. I was crying so much, and I was so homesick, but I had Beary with me to hug and calm me,” Forbess says. Her lovies helped her cope with the change and stress of being away from home, something that has continued throughout her time at Northwestern. She says they remind her of home and family, and they’ve provided tremendous support. Forbess has a lot of test anxiety, so the night before exams, she usually has trouble sleeping. Reaching for her lovies provides her with the comfort and peace of mind she needs to PHOTO STORY
calm her nerves. Her lovies have helped her navigate the stress of Northwestern, and without their comfort, she’s not sure if she would be able to handle the quarter system as well as she does. “I have a special way I rub them against my face, and it’s so soothing. Even though lovies are seen as a childhood thing, I believe if having your lovies is what helps you sleep at night, then you should have them with you no matter your age,” Forbess says.
Sven, a plush shark, came into Medill and Bienen third-year Nadine Manske’s life when she was shopping at Ikea the summer before college. Manske knew she wanted something comforting to take with her, and when she saw the bucket full of plush sharks, she knew she was going to take one home. “I remember that it wasn’t my intention to pick him up. I think I was there to look at other furniture for my dorm, or running errands with my family, and I saw the bin of sharks and I knew I had to take
Weinberg third-year Nathalie Fuhrman’s stuffed cow, Muchi.
one home with me. It wasn’t even a question; I just knew I had to have him,” Manske says. Because she got him right before going away to school, Sven has symbolically been helping her throughout the transition to being away from home and everything
since then. Sven has been an easy, low-maintenance source of comfort for Manske — especially with her mental health. “There are some times when your brain is too full of everything and you just want to sit there with your Ikea shark,” Manske says. When she’s stressed, she hugs Sven. To her, having a way to ground yourself with a physical source of constant support and comfort is really important.
Stuffed animals have always been a part of Medill third-year Sophia Lo’s life; since she was a little girl, she’s had a collection of them that continues to grow. Lo found Alfie, a life-size plush bear, on Northwestern’s “Free & For Sale” Facebook group. She then knew she had to bring her giant plush hamster, Sesame, who she won at Six Flags, back with her to Northwestern so Alfie the bear could have a friend.
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Medill and Bienen third-year Nadine Manske’s stuffed shark, Sven.
Lo drove from New Jersey to Evanston with two friends and an extra seat in the car for Sesame, but the car was packed so tightly that Sesame stayed in Lo’s lap the entire time. Lo created a Twitter feed to document the trip, where Sesame ate egg and cheese bagels and took naps with Lo in the car. “It was a lot of fun coming up with tweets and taking pictures along the way. My favorite picture is the one where Sesame is pumping his gas for the first time because he is from New Jersey,” Lo says. Growing up, stuffed animals have always been comforting for Lo, and at school she has a bunch, including three Squishmallows. They help her with stress, as they can be something fun to touch or play with. Many of her stuffed animals were actually given to her rather than purchased herself.
Even though Lo agrees they can be for little kids, they’re always going to be a part of her life.
Muchi the stuffed cow came into Weinberg third-year Nathalie Fuhrman’s life when she was 5 years old. Since then, Muchi has slept with her every night. “He went through all of high school and college so far with me,” Fuhrman says. “He’s now molded so he fits perfectly in the shape that I put my arms in when I sleep.” If sad or upset, Fuhrman would hug Muchi, who has been in her life for so long that his comfort is natural to her. When on a family vacation in Portugal, she forgot Muchi on the hotel bed in the rush to the airport. Frantic, Fuhrman begged her parents to get him back; the
hotel ended up shipping Muchi back to the United States for her, but she had to pay the international shipping fee. “I paid probably more than he’s worth to get him shipped back home. I don’t know how to explain it, Muchi just feels like a part of me; I couldn’t lose him,” Fuhrman says. When leaving for college, Fuhrman was sure to pack Muchi along with her. She reaches for him whenever she is homesick at Northwestern and especially when the challenges of school become more demanding. Muchi has been something constant for her throughout her whole life, and without him, Fuhrman’s not sure what she’d do. “Leaving home to a place where you don’t know anyone is scary. That was a way for me to have a comfort of home with me,” Fuhrman says.
Medill third-year Sophia Lo’s plush hamster, Sesame; stuffed bear, Alfie; and friends.
THERE’S NU PLACE LIKE HOME
BREAKOUT ROOM BREAKDOWN
IMAGINING A BETTER YESTERDAY 60 DIGITAL DRIP 62 PHOTO BY CARLY MENKER
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“SORRY, WE’RE CLOSED.” 63
There’s NU place like home The comforts (and catastrophes) of campus.
WRITTEN BY TRENT BROWN DESIGNED BY S. KELSIE YU
he newfound independence of dorm life, the rushing process, the subpar Allison food, the tradition of cheering on the ‘Cats during Wildcat Welcome: for better or worse, we all experience these moments during our first year at Northwestern — save the Class of 2024. If you’re a first-year looking to recreate the freshman experience, these tips are for you!
I get it, first-years. You’re missing out on dorm living thus far. It sucks. To recreate the dorm experience, just move into a broom closet with your younger sibling. If you wanted to live in a single, pull a Harry Potter and move in under the stairs. Buy cannabis-scented incense and burn several sticks by your bathroom on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. If you want to recreate living in Bobb, plant an indeterminate fungus spore in your shower. Then, have your new RA (a parent) facilitate a fun fact-sharing session where you and your sibling/roommate take turns sharing the number of siblings you each have. Woah, it’s the same number? What a coincidence!
Allison Hall Dinner Recipe, to be recreated at home: Ingredients: 1 bag of brown rice, 1 rotisserie chicken, 0 spices Instructions: After purchasing ingredients, leave chicken out several hours to cool. Cook brown rice in a rice cooker; remove rice two minutes before it’s done. Season to taste with soy-free soy sauce from Plex East. Enjoy!
There are many time-honored traditions Northwestern first-years can’t take part in this quarter. If you’re a big sports fan, start cheering for literally any middle school flag football team — they’re probably better than the ‘Cats, anyway! If you get lonely watching the games, you can adopt a stray cat and name it Willie, then dress it up in a mini jersey. If a living pet is too much of a commitment, adopt a pet rock and paint it every so often, rotating through sorority fundraisers, WNUR advertisements and whatever drivel you want to promote that week. Make sure to stay up all night and guard it! Don’t try to paint anything political, or Northwestern will show up at your house with pressure washers.
While rushing Greek life totally isn’t necessary to find a consistent group of friends outside of your PA group (definitely not necessary), maybe you want to do it anyway. The movement to abolish Greek life means you might not ever get the chance to rush, but you can still recreate the experience at home. Have an older sibling or cousin buy you cheap vodka, the kind that burns for hours after. Use homemade mixers — dish soap, almond milk, shampoo. Anything goes!
There you have it, you fresh-faced freshmen! If you follow these tips, it’ll be just like you’re on campus living it up independently, except you’re also in your childhood bedroom with your mom doing your laundry. HANGOVER
A survival guide for Zoom’s most awkward feature. WRITTEN AND DESIGNED BY ANDREW KWA
oom University gets a lot of flak, but it isn’t completely awful: Any student could probably name at least one thing they like about remote classes. For some, it’s the fact that they don’t have to walk 20 minutes to get to class anymore. For others, it might be an appreciation for the flexibility of asynchronous lectures. And for that one guy in my psychology class, it’s probably the fact that he can hit a fat vape from the comfort of his home while learning about the functions of the amygdala. However, I’d wager that nobody likes Zoom breakout sessions. Breakout sessions are a lot like Russian roulette: You never quite know what you’re going to get. Sometimes, you’ll catch a break: a breakout session with your one (1) friend in the class. Other times, you’re not so lucky: a group of strangers who probably wouldn’t talk to you even if your life depended on it. But fear not! With this guide, you will learn to navigate even the most unbearable of Zoom breakout sessions.
The breakout room is quiet. You’re supposed to discuss last night’s reading for 10 minutes. Two people have their mic muted. Two others don’t even have their cameras on. You’re pretty sure one guy is on the toilet. What do you do?
DOs: BE THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB: You know Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame? Or that one guy with the cross from way back when? Yeah, you’re the Zoom equivalent of those guys. Be the first to discuss whatever prompt you’ve been given in the hopes that someone takes pity on your poor soul and engages with you. MAKE SMALL TALK: As a wise man once said, “You gotta butter up your biscuits before you put them in the oven” (Source: Dude, trust me). Similarly, sometimes it takes a little small talk to warm people up to discussing the meaty topics of academia. Talk about the weather. What you had for dinner. The crushing weight of the responsibility to change the world for the better. You know, the small stuff.
DON’Ts: STAY SILENT: Think about it this way. You are a god amongst men. Your classmates are sheep waiting for a command from your divine lips. If you don’t speak, what hope can you have that your classmates will? STAY SILENT, BUT LEAVE YOUR MIC UNMUTED: What’s worse than the deafening silence of nobody wanting to talk to each other? The deafening silence of nobody wanting to talk to each other, with the uncomfortable background sounds of your breathing, sniffing, etc. Unless you’re an aspiring ASMR creator (and if you are, I wish you nothing but the best), please leave your mic muted if you’re not going to say anything.
Technical difficulties! Someone in your breakout room has an awful connection, but they don’t know it. Their video feed consists of no more than eight pixels at any given time. A flipbook animation would put their frame rate to shame. Their audio sounds like someone recorded Morse code with a taser and then set that recording on fire. But they keep trying to communicate with the rest of the breakout room. What do you do?
DO: USE YOUR DAMN KEYBOARD: Believe it or not, there are uses for the Zoom chat other than privately complaining about the lecture to your friend or desperately trying to signal to the professor that they’re not sharing the PowerPoint (for the fifth time). In fact, the Zoom chat is great for signaling to your fellow Zoommates that their Internet connection has rendered them an incomprehensible robot.
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ATTEMPT TO SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE: Maybe, for whatever reason, you think that your communication skills are exceptional enough to communicate with the guy who’s trying to tune into the Zoom call from his toaster. Let me assure you that no amount of patience or repeated “Huh? What’d you say?”s will allow you to understand the robotic, static-filled cries of a person with shitty WiFi.
A wild professor has appeared! You’ve finished discussing the necessary topics with your Zoommates. Naturally, you now start discussing some of the more pressing, important topics of life with your peers: life, love, optimal Among Us gameplay strategies, etc. Suddenly, your professor quietly slinks into the breakout room while you are all clearly off task! What do you do?
DOs: ALERT! ALERT!: Just as Paul Revere alerted the American colonies of the British’s impending arrival, so too must you alert your peers of your professor’s arrival. The key is subtlety: “Why, PROFESSOR [insert professor name here], how nice of you to join us in this delightful Zoom breakout session!” HIT THAT HARD PIVOT: If you’ve ever watched a presidential debate, you know the power of the conversational pivot. With a simple utterance of, “Yeah! But as I was saying…” you can steer whatever wayward conversation you were having with your peers back into the professor-approved discourse you were actually meant to be having.
DON’T: BE A BYSTANDER: You know that scene in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi where Palpatine is shocking the bejesus out of Luke for like a solid minute and Vader is just kind of … standing there doing nothing? If you do nothing and watch as your classmates goof off in front of the professor, you’re basically Darth Vader. And he was a pretty bad guy.
Wait, what class is this again? Sometimes, there are more pressing issues than a Zoom lecture — like constantly staring at yourself in the Zoom panel to make sure that you’re striking that perfect balance between looking pretty but also looking like you’re actually paying attention to class. Regardless, now you’re in a breakout room with three strangers, and you have no idea what they’re talking about. What do you do?
DO: CONFESS YOUR SINS: Generally speaking, you will be amongst peers in a Zoom breakout session — fellow brothers and sisters in the struggle against Big Academia. Here, there is no shame in admitting that you have no idea what’s going on. In fact, doing so usually puts everyone at ease, and everybody likes to feel smart by explaining something to a dumbass.
DON’T: FAKE IT UNTIL YOU MAKE IT: Chances are, even if you haven’t been paying attention to the lecture at all, your classmates don’t have that much of a better grasp on the subject matter than you do. Trying to fake your way through a discussion by spewing nonsense is more likely to confuse the others than convince them that you know what you’re talking about. It’s usually better (and easier) to just be carried through a discussion by those who actually did the reading. HANGOVER
IMAGINING A BETTER
YESTERDAY What if 2020 wasn’t a living nightmare?
MEDILL SCRAPS PERSON ON THE STREET
Evanston residents and students alike breathe a sigh of relief. Local businesses turn their greatest profits ever, since residents are no longer afraid to walk the streets.
MAY THERE’S A GREAT LINE-UP AND PERFECT WEATHER FOR DILLO
The right mix of well-liked and up-andcoming musicians pleases music snobs and casual listeners alike, and the emergency room sees only light traffic.
THE DAILY NORTHWESTERN GETS RID OF ITS OPINION PAGE
A much-needed exorcism of devil’s advocate.
CHICAGOLAND ANIMAL SHELTERS CLEARED IN MASS ADOPTIONS BY RESIDENTIAL COLLEGES
Seeing a paw print inside the dorm no longer means fears of rogue skunks that have somehow obtained Wildcards.
WILDCAT WELCOME PLAYS A VARIETY OF MUSIC, PROTECTING FIRST-YEARS FROM HAVING AN ENTIRE ARTIST’S CATALOG RUINED FOR THEM Pour one out for anyone who still can’t listen to Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts.”
FIVE McCORMICK STUDENTS CURE CANCER OVER SUMMER BREAK The group says they were “bored” and needed “something to put on the résumé for grad school.”
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OCT DANCE MARATHON AMBASSADORS GIVE UP AFTER POLITELY ASKING ONE STUDENT TO JOIN
Students are seen walking around campus just for fun, basking in their newfound freedom from jump-scare interactions with registration hawks.
WRITTEN BY TERESA NOWAKOWSKI DESIGNED BY MAREN KRANKING
e’ve all joked that 2020 seems like the apocalypse, but what happened in the parallel universe where instead of sliding toward a dystopia straight out of a teen novel, society became a utopia? Take a trip through the 2020 that isn’t The Darkest Timeline.
MARCH EVERYONE IN ORGANIC CHEMISTRY GETS AN A
The event will later be dramatized by an RTVF student in a feature-length film, entitled “Mayday to A-Day: The Story of One Class and Their Mission to Understand Organic Chemistry (Based on a True Story).”
JAN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA IS FREE OF PUB PUSHES FOR A WHOLE WEEK
For the first time since Wildcat Welcome, you see the faces of fellow students as you scroll, instead of gaudy graphics with too many exclamation points.
FEB BOBB-McCULLOCH FINALLY TORN DOWN
All residents are temporarily housed at local bars or abandoned warehouses, which they describe as “too clean” and “too quiet.”
ALLISON SERVES FOOD THAT ISN’T RICE
Students arrive at Allison Dining Hall during dinner hours to find a wide array of flavorful entrées, none of which involve any sort of rice or squash. “The food … it tasted like something,” says a shocked second-year, bewildered but satisfied.
CAESAR FINALLY GETS A USABLE CLASS REGISTRATION INTERFACE
Who knew planning your quarter didn’t have to be an intricate web of stress, spreadsheet skills and data science? Certainly not the Registrar’s office.
‘CATS WIN THE B1G 10 CHAMPIONSHIP Suck it, Ohio State.
‘CATS WIN THE ROSE BOWL
Hey, if we can have world peace, the ‘Cats can have the Rose Bowl.
EVERLASTING WORLD PEACE NEGOTIATED BY A SESP CAPSTONE CLASS
JAN 2021 HANGOVER
How to flex on everyone through the screen
WRITTEN BY MATT WEISS // DESIGNED BY ANDREW KWA
oom poses an existential threat to any student who cares about fashion. Without the ability to flex those new Jordans or tout your Canada Goose, all Northwestern students could use a little help spicing up their Zoom outfits (even though you all keep your cameras off and mics muted anyway). For those who want to stunt, this is for you.
Mullet Magic Mullets pose an age-old question: Is business in the front, party in the back truly attainable? Mullets represent the duality of human life: beauty and disgust, clean-cut yet ever so flowy, business but simultaneously party. With classes online, making risqué choices is the name of the game. Invite your favorite barber into your garage, gossip about how cute Peyton Ramsey is and wait until class to show off the beast on your head. Pro tip: wear a hat for the first hour of class, then take it off dramatically (or inconspicuously). Drama x mullet = incalculable popularity.
WWE (Wild Wildcat Entrance) Did WWE Legend Stone Cold Steve Austin just enter the Zoom? No, that was just Jimmy from COMP_SCI 111. If you want to make a statement, you need to turn that Zoom meeting into a full-blown WWE entrance. You need to go to Walmart and buy a WWE belt. You need your mom doing a manual strobe light with the flashlight from downstairs. You need an entrance song. (Mine? Definitely “Crazy in Love.” No shame.) Pro tip: For added suspense, play the intro of your song while the camera is still off, whip out the belt and get ready to maybe (probably) get kicked out of your Zoom.
Ice on Ice on Silly Bandz Take a walk down Sheridan, and you’ll see lots of Gucci belts, Louis V purses and the occasional Gap graphic tee. But, oh no honey, that’s not drip. Ice comes in packs of 20 from your local Walmart. Flood your wrist with Silly Bandz and flex on all your classmates every time you raise your hand to engage in meaningful discussion (because you are a Good Northwestern Student™). I guarantee your teacher will put some respect on your name when they see that misshapen elephant and lime green penguin on your forearm. Pro tip: Silly Bandz look best when you also throw on a shade of neon Kanye glasses.
Riley Lees Looking like the hometown football star has never been so easy. In just two easy steps, YOU can become fourth-year wide receiver Riley Lees. First, order a fake mustache. The mustache must be just bushy enough to justify its existence but not cool enough for someone to be like “Damn, that boy has a nice mustache.” Second, do not groom yourself for a month. This requires dedication, but all art does. Now, all you have to do is show up for class and change your boring-ass name to “RILEY LEES” on Zoom. For the rest of the quarter, your teacher will think you’re on a date with Coach Fitz. Pro tip: If you have a class with Riley Lees, I would highly recommend pulling this one on him. It would be timeless and a great laugh for everyone else.
62 FALL 2020
WRITTEN BY CHRISTINE POTERMIN DESIGNED BY CYNTHIA ZHANG
“Sorry, we’re closed.”
What recently shuttered Evanston restaurant are you?
he pandemic has taken away many of the hallmarks of college life. Some, for better or worse, will eventually return. Others are gone for good. One of these lasting changes is the loss of some of our favorite Evanston haunts: Never again will you be able to stop by Andy’s on a weeknight after a particularly bad midterm or make a Saturday morning run to Unicorn Cafe for a chai latte. So, one last time, take a trip with us and find out what recently closed Evanston restaurant you are. The basement of Deering — those flickering lights and scary archives get me every time.
How’ve you been doing this quarter? There are dumpster fires more successful than me.
I’m probably the only person thriving, and I’m a little scared to admit it.
What’s the most haunted place on campus?
The steam tunnels — legend has it a first-year wandered down there and was never seen again.
University Hall — there’s definitely a ghost in that attic. Allison (Do you … do you have taste buds?)
Eh, I’m doing decently mediocre – Zoom fatigue is real.
How are you trying to recreate the oncampus experience? Harassing everyone you know to register for NUDM
Which student org do you most frequently mock?
Lesser of dining hall evils?
Plex (Are you alright?)
Sargent (Who hurt you?)
Your Zoom background? “This is fine.” meme
Oversleeping and then rolling over in bed to log in late to your 9:40 a.m.
Drinking shitty beer in your basement with the thermostat too high to get that frat party feeling The Daily — NBN is life bb
Greek life — the parties Theatre boards — are obnoxious, and don’t how do they manage even get me started on the to do pub pushes in a inherent discrimination. pandemic?
You love the chase of becoming as quirky as possible. In quarantine, you probably perfected your baking skills, made roller skating TikToks and started a side hustle. You have far too sophisticated taste to ever touch 99-cent instant ramen.
You are #NotThriving. Life sucks, Zoom sucks, the world sucks and you spend most of the day in bed. You live for bread bowls and giant cookies to numb the pain with a carb-induced insulin rush. Netflix is the only thing you chill with as deadlines fly by because time has no meaning and life is pointless anyway.
Just my bedroom wall
Your Norbucks order of pre-COVID times?
Three straight shots of espresso
The Arch or other NU landmark
Dragonfruit refresher Iced caramel macchiato
ANDY’S You’re like those giant sundaes: beautiful, but overhyped. You’re an extrovert with wild memories from North Campus dorms, and there’s a good chance you put the wasted in Northwasted.
UNICORN CAFE Caffeine addiction is your main personality trait. Your notes are probably color-coded and hyper-organized to hide your paralyzing fear of failure beneath pastel highlighter. You’re a coffee snob and have quite possibly been considered a snob in general. HANGOVER
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