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By announcing plans to establish diversity and inclusion chairs in each chapter, PHA put discussions of Greek privilege on the table.


Fencing coach Laurie Schiller tells you how to get your head in the game.


The Norris ice rink gets some expert action this winter.

QUAD DISCOVERING DIVINITY — 24 Campus religious groups bring out a sense of self-discovery in students.

A MUCH-NEEDED BREAK — 30 Students manage the logistics and stigmas of taking quarters off.



Greek organizations confront issues of diversity and inclusion.



Check out this Streetbeat duo’s latest sound.

GET DOWN AROUND TOWN — 14 Sex it up all over campus with the help of students who already have.

SPOTLIGHT CALL ME BEEP ME — 18 See what devices NU students use to call home.


Arkansan or Chicagoan? One writer tries to find the perfect balance.


What does your A really mean?

IS IX ENOUGH? — 42 We look at Title IX’s place in combatting sexual assault.


YouTube celebrity Jun Sung Ahn looks toward the future.

HANGOVER MUSICAL MUSES — 51 Campus musicians catalog their favorite tunes.


Students recount their craziest Uber experiences. winter 2015 | 1





Lucy Wang Alex Lordahl photo director Alexis O’Connor art director Michael Nowakowski creative director

executive editor

managing editors

Shannon Lane and Rachel Fobar

senior section editors

assistant managing editors

Jasper Scherer and Carter Sherman

Tyler Daswick, Jeremy Layton and Lucas Matney

associate section editors

news editors

Clayton Gentry and Teresa Balistreri

Erin Bacon and Megan Fu opinion editor Caroline Levy

senior feature editors

Kevin Kryah and Zachary Woznak Abigail Kutlas senior design editors Lucas Matney and Vasiliki Valkanas designers Carolyn Betts, Hanna BolaĂąos and Andrew Simpson assistant photo director Natalie Escobar photographers Ryan Alva, Jack Birdsall, Alex Furuya, Jeremy Gaines, Sean Magner, Thomas Molash, Rae Pennington and Liz Steelman illustrator Vasiliki Valkanas digital product manager Mallory Busch digital producers Aditi Bhandari and Ashley Wu contributing writers Annie Boniface, Andy Brown, Miranda Cawley, Rosalie Chan, Celena Chong, Maddie Coe, Tyler Daswick, Sarah Ehlen, Danielle Elliot, Natalie Escobar, Rachel Fobar, Nick Gabarty, Kelly Gonsalves, Nicholas Hagar, Madeleine Kenyon, Shannon Lane, Caroline Levy, Anne Li, Katherine Mirani, Malloy Moseley, Sofia Rada, Madison Rossi, Elizabeth Santoro, Preetisha Sen, Harrison Simons, Mira Wang, Ben Zimmerman

assistant opinion editor

Heather Budimulia Elizabeth Santoro

assistant editor

NORTH BY NORTHWESTERN, NFP board of directors president Sam Hart executive vice president Preetisha Sen vice president Lucy Wang treasurer Samuel Niiro secretary Hillary Thomas

features editor

assistant features editors

Madison Rossi and Sasha Costello life & style editor Ricki Harris entertainment editor Celena Chong

assistant entertainment editors

Malloy Moseley and Maddie Coe sports editor Jasper Scherer assistant sports editors

Andy Brown and Austin Siegel politics editor Madhuri Sathish writing editor Ali Pelczar assistant writing editor Tia Anae photo editor Rosalie Chan assistant photo editors

Alex Furuya and Zahra Haider video editor Kelly Gonsalves assistant video editors

Nesa Mangal and Natalie Escobar interactive editors

Alex Duner and Morgan Kinney graphics team

Nicholas Hagar and Luis Sanchez creative director Nicole Zhu webmasters


Frank Avino and Alex Duner

Andrew Dain and Andrea Swejk Samuel Niiro director of talent Preetisha Sen director of ad sales Grant Rindner directors of marketing director of operations


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Sam Hart Preetisha Sen


managing editor



LIFE ADVICE FROM A COACH: LAURIE SCHILLER HEAD COACH OF NU FENCING TEAM I NT E RVIE W BY ANDY BROW N PHOT O BY T HOMAS MOLASH “Be the best you can be and don’t be a phony. I think whatever job you’re looking for, employers tend to see through phonies pretty fast, so be yourself. Don’t forget the lessons you learned in sport and competition, because competition is what life’s all about. You keep score. It’s life. Be true to yourself, and if you’re comfortable with who you are and what you’re doing, then that’s what counts. Be who you are. Don’t try to be what somebody else wants you to be, because it ain’t going to work.” Coach Laurie Schiller grew up on Long Island and attended Rutgers University, where he fenced and received his bachelor’s degree in African and Afro-American studies in 1972. He came to Northwestern and received a doctorate in African history in 1982. Schiller aspired to be an African history professor, but while he waited for a job offer in that field, he began coaching the NU fencing team and never left. Now in his 37th season. Schiller is widely considered one of the most successful coaches in college history and is one of only two fencing coaches to ever reach 1,000 wins. winter 2015 | 3




FAKE DIRECTOR AND REAL-LIFE WOODWORKER NICK OFFERMAN TELLS JOKES Nick Offerman, known for his role as Ron Swanson on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, performed a stand-up comedy set for students on Feb. 7 at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.


49% Admitted Early Decision 2015

In mid-December, 1,011 students, or 49 percent of the Class of 2019, were admitted Early Decision. This is the largest number of students accepted early in Northwestern history.



The Chicago-Main Newsstand in Evanston sold six of the first 300 copies of Charlie Hebdo released for sale in the United States. After the Jan. 7 massacre at the magazine’s Paris headquarters, the Jan. 14 issue has been in high demand across the globe.



Recruitment Counselors from all 12 sororities guided hundreds of women through Panhellenic Recruitment, with registration numbers up by about 100. In total, 473 potential new members received bids from a chapter this year, an increase from 445 last year.









Northwestern alumna Roberta Buffett Elliott donated more than $100 million to the University in January to create the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies, which will emphasize a multidisciplinary approach to international issues.

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BLOCK PRESENTS THE T*PL*SS CELLIST The Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art received a $100,000 grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for an exhibition focusing on American cellist and artist Charlotte Moorman. Otherwise known as the “Topless Cellist,” she epitomized avantgarde in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The exhibition is set to open in January 2016.

Students work at the Klein Lab, a Weinberg neurobiology research facility. Many find that their expectations for lab work don’t match up to reality.


Photo by Ryan Alva

Undergraduate lab work can be a mixed bag of menial tasks and enriching opportunities. B Y AN N I E B O N I FACE TRANSPORTING BOXES full of rat brains is not what Weinberg freshman Ashleigh MacLean imagined when she emailed the manager of the Klein Lab, a neurobiology research facility on campus. After seeing a flyer advertising the position, she thought of the valuable experience and connections she could obtain from working in the laboratory. She was right. According to The Mentor, an academic advising journal, “research experience allows undergraduate students to better understand published works, learn to balance collaborative and individual work, determine an area of interest and jumpstart their careers as researchers.” The entry-level positions, however, are often unglamorous. The lab coat-clad students pictured in brochures might measure out colorful chemical solutions and pensively collect data, but the actual job isn’t as picturesque. MacLean gets to clean their test tubes and beakers.

“There are so many dishes that I don’t ever finish,” MacLean says. “They’re just always there.” Although MacLean wears gloves while working, her clothes remain an easy target for the constant spray of water from the faucet. She says one of the hardest parts of the job is staying dry. By listening to music, she pushes through the stacks of glassware while keeping her good humor. In addition to dish duty, MacLean mops the floor every other week and helps organize the refrigerators, which she describes as “negative 80 degrees Celsius.” While the work may sometimes seem unpleasant, MacLean says her experience has been positive. “I like the people in the lab even if I’m not directly working with them,” she says of the lab’s directors and other student workers. “They let me look in the microscope and chat with me.” MacLean justifies her time at the Klein Lab because she believes it will serve as a stepping stone to

more sophisticated and advanced research positions. Kirsten Viola, Klein Lab research lab manager, has worked with MacLean and encourages others to work in lab settings. “The students are essential parts of the lab just like everyone else,” Viola says. “They keep the lab clean so we can do research, but most end up helping with projects or even creating their own.” Despite the mundane jobs working in a lab may entail, the endgame of research may far outweigh any undesirable tasks along the way. “The neatest thing for me and for students is seeing your name in print and knowing something you’ve done is making a difference,” Viola says. “In our case, it is knowing that we are working towards treating Alzheimer’s disease.” The eradication of illnesses and progression of life-saving technology are worth washing dishes for.

RESUME SKILLS FROM WORKING IN A LAB Proficiency in Microsoft Excel Adeptness in preparing chemical solutions Sterile Processing Technique Effective communication skills Hand-eye coordination for pipetting Ability to work independently Ability to maintain and evaluate organized records winter 2015 | 5


LORD OF THE RINK A former competitive figure skater takes his talents to the Norris Center ice rink.

THE NORRIS CENTER ice rink isn’t exactly Olympic-caliber, but it does the trick for School of Professional Studies student Amar Mehta. As a former competitive figure skater, he frequents the rink as often as he can, forgoing rental skates for his own pair. Starting at age 7, Mehta trained and conditioned for about five hours per day, receiving coaching from greats like Scott Hamilton and Michael Weiss. He was on track to compete at the Winter Olympics, but stress fractures in his knee and back ended his competitive career at age 19. A graduate of Northwestern’s Class of 2014, Mehta is now taking biology classes and enjoying the ice rink before warmer temperatures and medical school applications arrive this spring.

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Photos by Jeremy Gaines


winter 2015 | 7



Caring students show their puppy love. BY CE LE NA CHONG

Photo by RAE PENNINGTON WHEN NORTHWESTERN alumna Ali Weinstein found herself with free time the Spring Quarter of her senior year, she decided to foster a dog. Foster owners can provide temporary care for pets that are transitioning between being in shelters and being adopted. Weinstein and her foster dog, Brownie, met in April 2014. She calls the six weeks Brownie spent in her home one of the most wonderful experiences she’s had. “The two things I was used to growing up with were children and dogs,” Weinstein says. “You can’t foster babies [in college] but you can foster dogs.” Weinstein and her roommate found 5-year-old Brownie through Pets Are Worth Saving (PAWS), Chicago’s largest nokill organization for homeless pets. Sometimes foster pets have behavioral issues, but Weinstein says she got lucky with her Chow Chow and German Shepherd mix.

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“I constantly brought her over to my friends’ houses,” Weinstein says. “She is one of the sweetest, most people-loving dogs I’ve ever met in my life.” Alumnus Benison Choi also uses the word “lucky” to describe his experience with an American Shorthair named Cubby. After Choi decided to foster the 5-yearold cat his senior year, he realized it was like “having another person in the house when [his] roommate was gone.” “When [my roommate was] not there, the cat that I could play with and cuddle with was always there,” Choi says. “There are no words for the joy that it brought.” According to Angela Love, head coordinator of dog fostering at the Evanston-based Community Animal Rescue Effort (CARE), cat fostering is popular with students because roommates can share the responsibility while experiencing a pet-and-owner relationship like the ones they have at home.

“There is a lot of stress involved with schools like Northwestern, I would imagine,” Love says. “It would be very therapeutic to come back to your room and have a kitty rubbing against your leg.” PAWS and CARE provide all medical supplies and tools necessary. Yes, fostering is free. “This is why student fostering is popular,” Love says. “It’s for someone who wants a pet but is not ready to make a full commitment and cannot commit financially right now. In turn, we’re asking for you to give some time and care to your animal.” The process of fostering a dog or cat from CARE is simple. Interested owners just fill out an application and wait for an appointment call. Afterwards, CARE volunteers bring them the animal and medical supplies. CARE marketing and publicity volunteer Karey Uhler describes the match-up process as “eHarmony for pets.” The organization tries to match up

owner preferences to an available pet while also considering both parties’ personality traits. “Let’s say that you wanted a fluffy lap cat,” Uhler says. “We would look around in our database until we find an animal that matched the description and give you a call.” At the end of his fostering term, Choi says letting go of Cubby was hard. Because he passed down the cat to current Weinberg seniors Adam Hittle and Robert Smierciak, he keeps in touch with Cubby through frequent Snapchats. Although Weinstein and Brownie’s goodbye was equally sad, it was a little more permanent. She and her roommate were present for Brownie’s official adoption into another loving family a week before their graduation. “I 100 percent recommend [fostering an animal],” Choi says. “I would go and deliver the cat myself to that person’s doorstep.”



Eat your Greens

Two sophomores are making sonic waves in the Chicago music scene. BY MADE LE INE KE NYON YOU’VE PROBABLY HEARD OF Streetbeat. It isn’t just the name of that party you went to. It’s also the electronic music radio show that broadcasts nightly from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. on WNUR, Northwestern’s student-run radio station, reaching about 3 million people in the Chicagoland area.

Photo by Sean Magner and Michael Nowakowski

CONTINUED winter 2015 | 9

Two students in particular have attracted more than a few listeners in the electronic music scene on campus and beyond. Communication sophomores Lorenzo Gonzalez and Cameron Smith perform as a rap duo, respectively assuming the stage names zorenLo and Freddy Mümmix. Their first collaborative project, an album called Melanin Stained Lover, garnered attention on campus after its release last winter. Gonzalez and Smith expect to complete their next album, whose working name is Greens, this spring. The title has multiple meanings, they say, including a reference to the millennial generation’s version of the blues as well as to the sensation of being high. “We definitely found our sound,” Gonzalez says. “Melanin Stained Lover was kind of Cam’s statement as a rapper coming to college and my first experience with producing an album, but now it’s like Cameron and Lorenzo making an album together, 50-50.” “You kind of have your own language of describing how you want a song to sound,” Smith says. “I’ll be talking to Lorenzo like, ‘Man, this bass should sound crunchier,’ or, ‘This

synthesizer should sound airier,’ and most people wouldn’t understand that in the slightest, but it’s really cool that Lorenzo always understood that.” Both describe their sound as experimental, a term consistent with WNUR’s mission to feature underrepresented music. “I definitely prefer the more underground stuff, but I’m not gonna sit here and criticize it and be a hipster because I recognize that it is essential for EDM to be successful,” Gonzalez says, adding that most electronic music fans, including himself, find their love of the genre through mainstream artists. “You have to appeal to people, and you have to show them who you are and show them why they should listen to you. … You’re making [your music] for other people.” In fact, Gonzalez and Smith’s friendship was born through a mutual love of Kanye West. After being introduced to each other during Wildcat Welcome, the two bonded over a conversation about the artist, who both consider to be a musical influence. “It was one of those first classic college nights, where we really hit it off,” Gonzalez says, adding that the two began

their collaboration the same day. “That’s pretty much how we became friends because, hey, we made an album together. How could you not be best friends after that?” Since that night, the duo has performed regularly throughout the Chicago area and often broadcasts their original music on Streetbeat. Communication sophomore Marc Chicoine, who serves on Streetbeat’s executive board for media design, sees the show’s goal of showcasing underrepresented artists like Gonzalez and Smith as an important component of WNUR. “It’s really cool because it gives all these different genres of music and artists [opportunities] to get airtime when they normally wouldn’t as often,” he says. “It’s really cool to have

such an artistically and culturally diverse group of people.” Smith and Gonzalez both hold positions on Streetbeat’s leadership board. Smith is Streetbeat’s apprenticeship director, while Gonzalez serves as media director. Their passion for Streetbeat is evident: “It’s pretty much all I do,” Gonzalez says. Streetbeat has also helped him succeed in the music industry through gigs and mentors in its Chicagoland network. “Streetbeat has done so much for me,” Gonzalez says. “I didn’t really know going into Northwestern that there was this huge ... community, but now looking back on it, it makes me even more happy that I go to this school.”

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Ph oto by S e an Magn er and Mi ch ael N owakow ski



Home-brewed beer makes chemistry class actually relevant.

P h o t o by S e a n M a g n e r a n d M ich a el Now a kow sk i


BY MI R A N D A C AW LEY WATCH OUT, SOLO cups: Glass bottles may be on the rise at Northwestern. Communication alumnus Ted Schwaba’s hobbies include DJing, narrating podcasts and keeping family traditions alive as one of Northwestern’s few home brewers. Using the equipment and brewing guide passed down from his father and uncle, Schwaba and his roommates, Weinberg senior Jeff Bilik and McCormick senior Harry Poppick, recently bottled their first batch of beer—a Belgian stout called “Michael Jorda’s Wine,” a name that allegedly took “a lot of workshopping.” Schwaba and Bilik freely admit the science of brewing beer is not their expertise. “My only understanding of the situation was that the yeast eats the sugar and poops out alcohol,” Schwaba says. That’s basically true. Beer is made when a barley solution is boiled with hops, the female flowers of a hops plant, to create a wort, then fed to yeast, which produces CO2 and alcohol. The

barley seeds are germinated and roasted. The hops add bitterness and flavor and sterilize the mixture so that other bacteria besides the yeast do not feed off of them. This mixture consists of broken down carbohydrates, or

sugar, creating carbonation after the beer bottle is sealed. Shelby Hatch, director of chemistry labs at Northwestern, says there are limited variations home brewers can infuse into their beer.

“MY ONLY UNDERSTANDING OF THE SITUATION WAS THAT THE YEAST EATS THE SUGAR AND POOPS OUT ALCOHOL.” sugars, which are perfect food for the tiny yeast microorganisms. As a byproduct of metabolizing the sugar in a low-oxygen environment, the yeast produces ethanol and carbon dioxide. This is why fermentation always happens in a closed container over the course of two weeks. Once the beer is fully fermented, extra sugar is added before bottling. The remaining yeast eats this

“Most of the different colors and flavors come from roasting the barley,” she says, adding that brewers don’t often grow their own barley. Even professional brew companies buy different roasts to change flavor and color. However, home brewers can mix hops, barley and water to create diverse types of beer. McCormick senior PJ Santos says making different varieties of beer at home isn’t too hard after some

practice. Santos started brewing at the beginning of his junior year and has made everything from stouts to pumpkin beer. “You have a whole lot of different variables to play with,” he says. “The end result is really enjoyable.” Though Santos says he doesn’t know any other brewers on campus, he’s “not surprised that other people have decided that it’s a fun thing to do.” And with good reason: Brewing beer is comparable price-wise to buying it yourself, and with home brew equipment shop Brew Camp Evanston, students can easily get started. While Santos’s favorite part of the beer brewing process is the experimentation, Schwaba and his roommates relish the opportunity to share the beer with their friends. Schwaba says Michael Jorda’s Wine passed his friends’ taste tests and his father’s as well. “My dad said that it’s better than all but two of the beers that they made in the ‘90s,” he says. “And a 55-year-old dad is an authority on beer.” winter 2015 | 11


Passing the Porch The cross country and swimming teams hand their houses down—along with their stories.

IF WALLS COULD talk, 2147 Sherman Ave. would recount splits and swim races. For the past eight years, members of the varsity men’s swimming team have lived in this house. Although it is passed on to the next generation of swimmers each year, the house maintains its original flair. A giant TYR flag hangs in the kitchen above piles of unwashed dishes. A 2004-05 team meet schedule covers the cabinets on the second floor, as well as a poster of King John signing the Magna Carta that team members have passed down since the early ‘90s. One of the first tenants was Alec Hayden, now the assistant coach of women’s swimming at the University of Illinois. In 2007, boys occupied the top two floors while girls lived on the first floor. “I liked having our closest friends together and it was nice being able to hang out with them all the time,” Hayden says. Current landlord Ed Mar, who’s managed the house since the first year the team lived there, has noticed a change in the cleanliness of the house in recent years. Mar also leases two other properties to NU students, but he says the swimmers are the most responsible in managing their own affairs. “Neighbors are often cautious of having students live next to them, but the boys don’t have a lot of late-night parties and keep the noise down,” Mar says. Today, only males live in the house: eight swimmers, one nonathlete and Woodhouse the cat. Woodhouse joined the family last year when Weinberg junior Jordan Wilimovsky thought it would be fun to have a pet after seeing an ad for a free cat on Craigslist. The cat is now an active Facebook user under the name Woodhouse Meows.

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Northwestern swimmers past and present have the house ingrained into their memories, but the tradition is starting to slip away. This year the women’s swimming team lost its house lease after two years because not enough team members wanted to stay there. Men’s team captain Van Donkersgoed, a SESP junior, fears the same thing will happen to the boys’ house. “I’m worried the upperclassmen, including myself, haven’t instilled the value of the house as a recruiting tool or community place to the freshmen,”

he says. “The team is so different than it was three years ago, there are different personalities living here and I worry we won’t hang on to this place much longer.” Several streets down at 1023 Garnett Place, the women’s cross country team lives in a threestory house. The team moved there three years ago and it has remained part of the team’s ever since. Medill sophomore Ellen Schmitz lives on the first floor. Her bedroom walls are lined with race bibs from her years of running. But there is more to the house than cross country memorabilia.

Now part of team tradition, a strip of wallpaper covered with images of butlers wraps around the kitchen. The girls also hope to find a house-wide television show to watch together. “It’s nice to live with teammates because you know they’ll never let you miss a practice or a team event,” Schmitz says. “You’ll never sleep through your alarm.”

Full disclosure: Danielle Elliot is on the women’s swimming team. Ellen Schmitz is an NBN contributor.

Illustration by Vasiliki Valkanas


Where Are You Living? B Y LU C AS M ATN EY AN D M ALLOY MOSE LE Y AS AN UPPERCLASSMAN at Northwestern, you are entitled to some inalienable rights—freedom from shower shoes, twin XL beds and catching colds from all the germs floating around the dorm hallways. But like all great freedoms, the battle for them is not easy. Should you decide to live off campus after your freshman year, be prepared to fight for your right to party without interference from RAs, and don’t forget to bring some armor for those particularly contentious roomie squabbles. At least this handy guide can solve one of your problems.

You dream of hosting an epic Dillo Day darty

I’d rather drink UV Blue alone in the shower

Pong for days, brah!

You regularly take running selfies at the Bahai temple

Time is a flat circle

Punctuality defines my life

#Guilty #Sporty

I drive there to take those pics, tbh

Five minutes early is on time Cleanliness is next to... Godliness

Goddamn, the toilet’s backed up Does your ID scan?

Consulting is...

A way of life


Hell yeah, D&Ds!

Going to Chicken Shack is always a regret

Jumbo buffalo wings, plz

Fuck EV1

7-Eleven pizza is the only acceptable meal

Coffee Lab or Starbucks No regrets Half-caf skinny macchiato I have no self-control Diablo Dark





winter 2015 | 13


GAME OF MOANS Tired of hooking up in your dorm bunk bed? Your fellow students have generously reviewed their favorite Northwestern “hot spots.” Winter came. You can, too.


Ease: Sexiness: You have: 20 minutes Best position: Kneeling

“It’s almost secluded while still in a public place. We would have been able to hear someone coming. The benches are in an ‘L,’ so at one point, we were over the two of them. Logistically, it’s probably better sitting up rather than trying to use both benches.” – Sydney

Ease: Sexiness: You have: 30 minutes Best position: On a piano

“We went on over to some rocks on the side. Some have some flat surfaces that are ... conducive. If there’s sand, it’s far below all these massive boulders. I think we had walked past some people who hadn’t thought of the rock idea. Being outside is totally different – you have to remain more clothed, but it’s worth it.” – Liam

Ease: Sexiness: You have: 20 minutes Best position: Doggie style

“It’s not super comfortable, but it’s really cool to hook up while both of you are just looking at the skyline.” – Tyler

Illu s tr ation by Vas ili ki Valk an as

“It’s a little dusty, but it was comfortable because there’s a piano and a piano bench. And there was no one there after midnight except for another person practicing music.” – Caroline

Ease: Sexiness: You have: 10 minutes Best position: Missionary

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12:47 a.m. Everyone is so hot. Me to everyone: “Rub your beard on my face.” 12:56 a.m. Me: “Hey do you like this song???” *Beyonce playing* Hot guy: “What??” Me: “Me too! Are you going to her concert?” Hot guy: “???” Me: “See you there!” If you’re not too turnt to function, you’re doing it wrong.

B Y H A R R I S O N SI M ON S THE FIRST TIME I went to a bar, the first time I went to the Deuce and—most importantly—the first time I went to Boystown all happened in one night. Here are some memories that survived the night.

7:00 p.m. It’s my friend’s birthday and she wants to go out. I’ve never been to a bar. 10:00 p.m. Beer and wine are nasty. Skol it is. 10:01 p.m. One shot down.Vodka is so gross. Time for shots two through five.

Illu s tr ation by Vas ili ki Valk an as

12:00 a.m. Arrive at the Deuce. It’s kind of far away. How do people afford getting here every week? It’s dirty and small. 12:05 a.m. Remember that boy from Wildcat Welcome that you were really into but then you realized you were just lonely and trying to fill a void so you moved on and you don’t miss him but he’s still really hot and you shouldn’t kiss him again because why try again but you kiss him anyways? He spends his Thursdays at the Deuce. 12:07 a.m. “Text me later.” Yeah, right, Wildcat Welcome Boy. 12:09 a.m. My friend: “It’s gross here. Let’s go to Boystown.” Me: “I am literally fucked up and I am literally wearing pajama bottoms.” 12:45 a.m. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine such a place. There’s fog. There are lights. They’re playing like, only REALLY GOOD MUSIC.

1:00 a.m. Fuck it up, Harrison.You’re thriving.You’re living. Everyone here LOVES YOU. 1:01 a.m. Me: *sees large, handsome, sex god* Me: “How old are you?” Him: “Thirty.” Me: *runs in circles around the bar because I am honestly too turnt* 1:11 a.m. I just spent my last $10 on shots I definitely don’t need. 1:35 a.m. Me to Wildcat Welcome Boy over text: “What’s up? Wanna hang out when I’m back on campus?” 1:40 a.m. I love dancing so much. My body is so free right now. Wearing pajama pants was an amazing idea. God bless men. God bless Fireball. God bless flashing lights. Amen.


1:45 a.m. I am so glad straight boys are scared of gay bars because this place is heaven on Earth and I don’t ever want to question whether the men I’m flirting with are imagining me naked or not. 2:23 a.m. How did I get in this Uber? Oh, good, my friends are taking me back to campus. 2:43 a.m. What do you mean I’m hyperventilating? 2:53 a.m. *vomits* 9 a.m. Remember Wildcat Welcome Boy? His bed isn’t as comfy as I remember it. winter 2015 | 15


MINDFULNESS OVER MATTER Students seek Zen calm amid Northwestern stress.

out once,” Rivero says. “But having done it, I think I’m gonna go do it again and actually try to do it right.” Zen is a unique sect of Mahayana Buddhism that does not focus on scriptures or rituals. Rather than using rationality to understand life, practitioners try to separate themselves from logical thought and focus on material detachment and meditation. Although there are two sectors of Zen Buddhism, Soto and Rinzai, the CZC uses a combined version of the two that simplifies Zen down to its basic principles. “I didn’t want what I had in the past, which was essentially someone to hand the truth to me in a box,” Graham says. “Nobody tells me what to believe. There’s no set of doctrines that I’m obliged to accept, just support and tools.” Buddhists espouse other spiritual paths, and many in the West see it as a philosophy that can be practiced in conjunction with other religions. However, Graham says there is no hesitation to see Buddhism as a religion in the East. “I don’t ever know exactly what people mean by religion when they ask whether [Buddhism] is a

religion,” Graham says. “We don’t really have much in the way of a body of doctrine .... What does that mean outside of the context of religion?” CZC Priest Shodin Geiman was raised Roman Catholic before he became interested in Zen Buddhism. He considered becoming a Catholic monk earlier in life but says he felt detached from actual religious practice when attending church. “You go to a church and it’s a meeting in a pew with hundreds of people and somebody up front. But that’s not actually doing the work yourself—that’s like going to the movies,” Geiman says, adding that he chose Zen because there is “no bullshit .... We really cut to the chase here.” Although affiliated with Zen, the CZC is more of a resource than a church for its practitioners. It has ceremonial events like temple nights, but most of its services are group meditation sittings where people can explore life on an individual basis. Graham says they’re not necessarily trying to convert students to Buddhism, but rather trying to give them the opportunity

to explore Zen. The people who come to CZC are looking for support and clarity. Weinberg junior Jonny Schild is the president of NU Zen Society. He considers himself a Zen Buddhist and a former follower of Vipassana, a type of insight-based meditation. Schild has attended Zen Society meetings since the middle of his freshman year when an older friend suggested it to him. “I was experiencing a lot of struggle,” Schild says. “I felt a struggle to feel at home in the world .... I guess [it was] just a yearning to feel connected in the world and connected with myself.” Regardless of how beliefs and practices differ regionally, Graham believes Western mindfulness is a great trend. Geiman describes meditation as similar to athletic training, something individuals need to work on at their own pace, even if it’s not something they initially enjoy or succeed at. “Come up and start meditating. There’s no replacement,” Geiman says. “It’s like learning how to ride a bike. You’ve just got to hop on the seat and pedal.”

Photo by Alex Furuya

THE LIGHTS DIM as 23 students sit in a circle on small cushions atop an orange and tan rug while two gongs stand nearby. They wear comfortable attire—flannels, sweaters and jeans—and sit with their legs folded against the floor, focusing on the tension in their backs. This position is the Burmese pose, one of five positions typically practiced at the Northwestern Zen Society meetings. Founded in 2003, the Zen Society meets every Thursday evening in the Parkes Hall Oratory to practice Zen meditation. It is hosted by the Chicago Zen Center (CZC), with guidance from CZC Director Yusan Graham. The goal of Zen practitioners is to reach enlightenment by meditating and searching within themselves. The students who come to the meeting are not all practicing Zen Buddhists. Many meditate to try out Zen, relieve stress or achieve other internal goals. Medill freshman Nicolas Rivero recently attended a Zen Society meeting for the first time. Learning more about how his thoughts work intrigued him. “I just kind of did it as a novelty, just for the experience of trying it


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winter 2015 | 17


The Device \\\\\ Divide

From dumb phones to smartphones, we dial in on cellular preferences. BY M ALLOY MOSE LE Y Your best friend, your confidant, your right hand man, your lover if you’re a character in a Spike Jonze movie: your cell phone. For better or worse, mobile phones are an integral part of modern life. The recent generation of iPhones may be popular, but there are still some holdouts on campus who communicate the old-fashioned way with the 2015 equivalent of a string tied to a tin can.

Hannah Reich Weinberg freshman iPhone 5C

Jesse Itskowitz Communcation senior LG Cosmos 3 “Eventually I’ll have to upgrade for the necessity of having the Internet on my phone when I’m away from school where there’s WiFi everywhere. [Right now] I have an iPod Touch with Internet.” Photos by JEREMY GAINES and SEAN MAGNER Art by LUCAS MATNEY 18 |

Manon Blackman Medill freshman LG Octane


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winter 2015 | 19


Illustration by VASILIKI VALKANAS 20 |

PLOT-LINES One writer reconciles his Arkansan

childhood with college life in Chicago. BY CLAYT ON GE N T R Y

My home is full of stories, stories of late-night-turned-earlymorning cruises in my good buddy Cameron Matson’s 4Runner to towns we’d never heard of; stories of my catfish-farming greatgrandfather marching poachers up to the farmhouse with a shotgun in their backs while my greatgrandmother chewed through a whole jar of peppermints because it made her so nervous; stories of losing myself in the woods behind my grandparents’ home, following a creek fed by the Saline County sewer system and believing termite tracks in the oak bark were an ancient script left by marauders thousands of years prior. It’s a straight, flat road from central Arkansas, from all those stories, to Chicago—more than 600 miles. Dad likes to say you can roll a nickel down the highway and it’ll get there just fine. He would know. In the early ‘90s, he and my mother, both native Arkansans, lived in an apartment on North Fremont Street only a couple blocks from Wrigley Field. Dad worked at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and biked past the stadium every night, checking the white flag flying over the scoreboard to see whether the Cubs won or lost that day. And after they moved back home to settle down and raise two kids, we’d make Chicago trips in the summertime, checking in on family friends and occasionally the Cubs, too. When I started looking at colleges, I liked Northwestern for a

lot of reasons. But I really liked the thought of Chicago, where it snows in the winters, where people take public transportation more than they drive and where my parents had lived when they weren’t a whole lot older than I am now. For as long as I can remember, Dad has kept a red cloth bandana in his back pocket. A lifelong glasseswearer, he’s used it to wipe down his lenses for more years than I’ve been alive. But it wasn’t until after I arrived in Evanston that I started keeping my own. There wasn’t any one reason I did that—more like a bunch of little reasons. It was part of a new style that went hand-inhand with my hobby of setting up a hammock between willow branches on the Lakefill. I came to think of it as a good luck charm. I used it to clean my glasses. It made a great napkin, ice pack and faceshade whenever I found myself sleeping in the sunshine. But most importantly it was a little red reminder of all those stories that, collectively, I called home. Northwestern’s an experience in making connections, not only those within oneself—between home and campus, in my case between the South and the city— but also among one another. A big part of college is finding fellowship with people as they undergo that same process of self-reconciliation, discovering who they are today in the context of their varied pasts. When we look close enough, we see the signs of that growth even without having grown up together.

Somebody saw that happening in me not two weeks after I settled into Evanston. Walking through the sorority quad, she noticed my bandana sticking out of my pocket and said, “Southern boy,” with a smile. I wasn’t embarrassed. In fact, it was even a little validating that the spirit of home, the Arkansas self, was still visible so far from it. For a lot of people, Northwestern represents a chance to renovate their personas, to restyle whoever they were for 18 years in favor of somebody new and improved—who else would know the difference? But for me and, I imagine, for many others, the greater challenge has come in blending those selves, enfolding stories of catfish farms and termite tracks with stories of skyscrapers and snow. People often ask me if I’d like to go back to Arkansas after Northwestern. I usually say no because I’m not sure it’d be the same. Many of the people I grew up with find themselves living that same process of self-reconciliation in places like Virginia and Tennessee and California. These days, Cameron’s 4Runner is parked somewhere in Texas. And here I am, in a suburb of Chicago, losing myself not among oak trees and sewer creeks but bus routes and train stations. I’m a long way from home, and I’m not sure when I’m going back, but I carry the stories with me in a little red bandana.

winter 2015 | 21


NU Phone Home See how often these campus terrestrials call the mothership.



all me, beep me if ya wanna reach me. When ya wanna page me, it’s okay,” goes the Kim

Possible theme song. If your parents are stuck in the early 2000s, they may agree. Chances are, though, you keep in contact with your parents through other means. In fact, 40 percent of


“I usually talk about what’s happening at home, what’s happening here with classes, friends, internships for the summer, future, what they’re planning on doing, if they’re planning on visiting me and whatever they have going on at home.”

JACK BLACKSTONE MEDILL FRESHMAN “I call my mom and we talk about anything. My parents aren’t strict, so I can be straight-up with them on all levels except probably girls.”

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college students report using some form of technology to contact their parents at least once a day, according to a study published in the book Generation on a Tightrope. Though


“In the first few years, or rather, in the first year, I think I was trying to create distance between my parents and m e . ... When you get older, you have bigger life events to talk about, [like] career stuff, finding an apartment. Normally when I call them I’ll share an update about that, but the rest is just catching up with them.”

the phone call home is still the go-to for longer conversations, many students also talk to their parents through texts, emails and WhatsApp. Maybe Kim should update her song.


“I text home to my parents every day. It’s not a formal thing, but my parents and I are always going back and forth, sending funny videos, or talking about work and school. It’s a constant conversation. “My mom and dad are always more concerned about my well being than they need to be. I’ll tell them something—I’m not feeling well, or I’m feeling nauseous—and they think I’m dying. But I’m not—they’re just a plane ride away from me. They manage me from far away, and they’re overcautious about stuff. My mom will say, ‘Are you sure you’re fine?’— ‘Yeah, I’m fine, Mom.’”


SEEKING FAITH Religion helps students discover community and themselves. BY ROSALIE CHAN WEINBERG JUNIOR OONA Ahn recalls trying out at least four churches in two quarters. Raised agnostic, Ahn says she was looking for faith. Prior to exploring Christianity, Ahn looked into Buddhism. Communication junior Naomi Kunstler also started exploring


religion more at college. Religion was never pushed on her when she was growing up. When she came to Northwestern, however, some of her friends were active in Hillel. First, she started casually going to Shabbat. Eventually, she became more involved.


Laila Hayani, who identifies as Muslim, tries to set time aside everyday to read from her English-translated Qur’an. winter 2015 | 23


For Oona Ahn, praying with a rosary allows her to “become more aware of the presence of God.” Many students stop practicing religion once they start college. But for others, like Ahn and Kunstler, they explore religion and become more invested in it. “I think that it’s definitely increased my sense of community at Northwestern,” Kunstler says. “I met so many people and formed a lot of relationships at Hillel.” According to the 2013 CIRP Freshman Survey at Northwestern, the largest religion represented on campus was Christianity, with 43 percent of students surveyed identifying as Christian. In addition, 12.9 percent identified as Jewish, 3.1 percent as Hindu, 1.4 percent as Buddhist, 1.2 percent as Muslim and 2.9 percent with some other religion. At 35.5 percent, the second largest group did not identify with any religion. “I feel a vibe on Northwestern’s campus that’s very preprofessional,” Hillel Rabbi Aaron Potek says. “A lot of people approach college thinking, ‘How can I get a job?’ It does not induce exploration of religion. But students

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might ask, ‘Is there something outside of making a living?’” As a religious studies major, Weinberg junior Laila Hayani believes it is important to explore different religions. Hayani, who is Muslim, continues to develop her religious beliefs in college through praying and attending the Muslim Cultural Students Association’s Friday prayer services. Hayani also branches out by learning about other religions and participating in interfaith dialogue through the Northwestern University Interfaith Initiative. “I always learn something new,” Hayani says. “When you talk to people in different religions, you can get a deeper understanding of the things they believe.” SESP junior Alexandria Bobbitt also continues to develop her relationship with God both in her personal life and through a student religious group. Bobbitt is involved in House on the Rock, the AfricanAmerican chapter of InterVarsity. Bobbitt identifies as Christian, but not with a certain


denomination. However, she loves the House on the Rock community and says her faith is the governing factor in her life. “We’re able to come together and ignite each other, challenge each other and pray for each other,” Bobbitt says. “That spiritual component of it is so important and unites us so much more just because of our common hope.” Hillel has become home for Weinberg junior Ariella HoffmanPeterson. She was raised Jewish and is involved in Hillel. She also attends services and leads ZOOZ, a Jewish service-learning group. “I love coming to services to connect with myself and connect with my friends,” HoffmanPeterson says. “I really appreciate conversations about faith, how they struggle with that, how they embrace it. Sometimes it’s a hard conversation to have, but I use it as an avenue for deeper conversations.” Some students may not have been raised in a religious environment but convert when they find a religious group on

campus they connect with. Ahn now attends the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults at the Sheil Catholic Center, which is part of the process for people to learn about Catholicism and convert. “It was a long journey of church shopping,” Ahn says. “It was here at Sheil I felt a sense of peace, although I could feel a sense of God working in all the churches.” Like Ahn, Weinberg and Bienen sophomore Alex Ge was not religious before college. “I have a different impression of Christianity than before,” Ge says. “I saw religion sometimes caused a lot of debates on Facebook. You just see people arguing all the time, some hypocrisy and stuff like that. I didn’t reject the possibility of God, but it was never a thing I thought about.” But after his friends invited him to Access, a series of sermons at the Harvest Mission Community Church in Evanston, he became more involved. “Religion made me happy,” Ge says. “It gave me a sense of purpose. Different people have

different things they want to fulfill in life. Christianity is a way I can do that.” According to the Northwestern Religious Life website, Northwestern has 37 recognized religious groups, including five affiliated campus religious centers. However, some students do not have a group on campus for their religion. Weinberg freshman Asha Sawhney is Sikh. Although she practices her religion privately and often reads and reflects from the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, there is currently no space or group for Sikhism on campus. Sawhney was disappointed that the Wildcat Welcome Mosaic ENU did not mention Sikhism. “I want people at Northwestern to know every college campus has Sikhs,” Sawhney says. “To not even be mentioned in the diversity ENU was hurtful to me because of the discrimination Sikhs have faced.” Sawhney would like to possibly start a Sikh group, or at least see one form. According to University Chaplain Timothy Stevens, Northwestern offers various outlets to explore religion, and students have also formed groups when one for their religion did not exist.

“RELIGIOUS PRACTICE IS ENCOURAGED. HOPEFULLY ... WE CAN COME TOGETHER AND SHARE FAITH ... WITH THE PURPOSE OF UNDERSTANDING EACH OTHER.” “We have created an atmosphere where religious questions are allowed and taken up,” Stevens says. “Religious practice is encouraged. Hopefully it’s a place where we can come together and share faith, not with the purpose of converting each other, but with the purpose of understanding each other.” According to Kevin Feeney, chaplain and director of the Sheil Catholic Center, students become

Even though religion was not a big part of her childhood, Kunstler says she has become more invested in Judaism because of the Hillel Center. “In the past year it has evolved to be a crucial part of my sense of community,” she says.

involved in religious groups on campus in search of a community to help them understand their faith more. “Religion has the potential to be a deepening initiative,” Feeney says. “It kind of broadens out their experience at Northwestern, that there’s something more that they want to develop .... It’s the sense of going to God together.” Potek says that while religion may not be necessary to connect

to God or find meaning in life, exploring religion can provide a sense of purpose. “Northwestern isn’t that great at community,” Potek says. “People look for community because they want to belong. Religion is the best model for community .... If you’re looking for an excuse not to explore religion, you have plenty of excuses. What if we look for an excuse to explore? You’ll find a way in.” After Kunstler had coffee with Potek, she started reading more about Judaism and going to Shabbat more. She also started having conversations with her Jewish father about their religion. As for Ahn, she is scheduled to be baptized this Easter Vigil if she chooses to continue with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. “I started to see ways where God is working and interconnecting in everyone’s lives,” Ahn says. “Little coincidences make you see this is not just my journey .... It’s connected to a larger whole I’m part of. I’m trying to figure out where this is going.”

Sawhney wears a necklace with the “khanda” symbol, which incorporates two spiritual concepts: “deg tech fateh,” the duty of Sikhs to provide food and protection for the less fortunate and oppressed, and “miri-piri,” the belief that worldly and spiritual power are equal.

Photos by ALEXIS O’CONNOR winter 2015 | 25


IN FOR THE LONG HAUL The logistics of commuting to NU can be tricky. BY SH A N N O N LANE

LIVING AT HOME her first year at college was not Weinberg freshman Stephanie Murillo’s first choice. Murillo commutes at least an hour both ways from her home in Chicago’s Galewood neighborhood, about 15 minutes away from O’Hare International Airport. That’s 10 hours in the car every week, assuming traffic is light and weather accommodating. “When I think about how that time could be dedicated to finishing a book for my seminar or even getting more sleep, I regret commuting at those moments,” she says.

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While commuting eliminates the expense of room and board—$14,389 as of the 201415 school year—it adds to the stress of travel and time management onto already busy students. Northwestern estimates commuters spend $984 on transportation each academic year. A dollar sign, however, doesn’t capture the mental and physical stress of hours of driving on very little sleep. Weinberg freshman Kathryn Fajardo drives from Schaumburg, Ill., roughly an hour away from campus. She says she had no idea

of the toll commuting would take on her health when she decided to live at home. “I get anxiety because of it,” she says. “I didn’t expect it to be that strenuous on me.” Parking on campus has proven to be an obstacle for Fajardo. Commuters can purchase parking permits for $446.40 for the entire academic year. These are specifically designated for students who live outside the walking zone surrounding Northwestern, but most of the parking lots are not close to academic buildings. “It’s a pain in the butt,

honestly,” Fajardo says. In between classes, most Northwestern students can go back to their dorm rooms or catch up with friends at a dining hall courtesy of a university meal plan. But commuters don’t really have a place to call their own. Murillo says she can squat in friends’ dorm rooms or sit in Norris trying to do homework. In 2006, alumni donated money to build a lounge specifically for commuters on the ground floor of Norris, but i’s not monitored by any staff and is open to any Northwestern student who wants a little peace and quiet.

But even knowing enough people on campus to call in favors can be challenging. Fajardo was the only student from her high school graduating class to attend Northwestern, which means she had to start fresh at college without living there. “I lack that dorm community,” Fajardo says. “As a freshman, I think that’s really necessary.” Despite the frustrations of staying late for club meetings and other events, Murillo and Fajardo have found ways to join communities outside of dorm life. Murillo joined a dance group

and a pre-med mentorship program, providing her with support from upperclassmen who can give her advice about Northwestern life. Fajardo chose Greek life. She says her new chapter understands her situation and offers to let her crash in an empty room whenever she needs. “Thankfully I have sorority life and I have people there for me and ... the house to go to if I have no classes,” she says. “They’ve been really supportive.” Encouragement from home has helped Fajardo “push through” the beginning of her freshman year,

she says. Her parents want her to have as much of a typical college experience as possible, rearranging her room at home to look like a dorm room, complete with a lofted bed and reading corner. She calls it a “mock college life,” one that requires her to carry an extra bag of clothes and toiletries in her car in case she decides to sleep over. On the flip side of living at home, life can start to seem remarkably similar to high school: going to class and then coming home to do homework and sleep. House chores and family responsibilities can pile up, a factor

most college students can forget when they leave home. “When I’m at home, I still have to be on top of my things, especially because my parents are still around and they still act as if I’m in high school,” Murillo says. ”They still ask, ‘Why haven’t you started on your homework?’” But Northwestern keeps commuters coming back. “I decided to sacrifice the whole going off and living the typical college life for the quality of Northwestern’s education,” she says. “And I would do it again.”

Photo by MICHAEL NOWAKOWSKI winter 2015 | 27


PUTT-ING UP WITH THE COLD JUST TO THE SIDE of the main Patten Gymnasium entrance stands an inconspicuous door with a keypad lock, marked only by a small “Wildcats Golf” sticker. Inside is a hidden treasure in the world of Northwestern athletics: the Gleacher Golf Center. It gives the teams a rare recruiting advantage over warm weather schools, helping attract top recruits and allowing players to practice regardless of windchill. “People want to come to Northwestern because it’s such a great school and we’ve got a great history developing players,” says Pat Goss, the former head coach of the men’s team for 18 seasons who was promoted last summer to director of golf and player development. “But the first question is always, ‘What about the winter?’” With the Gleacher Center, the team has an answer to that question. It’s a place where student-athletes can chip, putt and relax during brutal winter months, according to Goss. The

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facility includes a 2,400-squarefoot green to practice both putting and chipping, a sand trap to practice bunker shots, a video room outfitted with specialized lighting, a locker area and a players’ lounge. These features have helped the program attract top golfers to Northwestern, including multiple All-Americans, players who have gone on to the PGA or European tours after graduating and even 2013 U.S. Amateur champion Matt Fitzpatrick, who left after a quarter to focus on his professional career. “Even from the very beginning it’s been a huge tool in recruiting,” says head coach David Inglis. “It attracts kids to stay in the Midwest and allows them to practice and improve their golf year-round.” The team’s most well-known alum, former world No. 1 Luke Donald, won the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship months after the Gleacher Center opened in January 1999. “That was not coincidental,” Goss says.

Goss began thinking about the construction of an indoor facility in the mid-1990s, but he couldn’t find a place to build something from the ground up. With the help of facility workers, he found the old pool area in Patten Gym, which was then being used for storage. With a go-ahead from university administration and a generous donation from golf team alum Eric Gleacher, the facility, which cost roughly $1 million, was built. NU was the first school in the country to build a significant indoor golf facility, but after the Gleacher Center’s completion, many colleges have followed suit and built similar facilities. About 50 schools have toured the space before building their own practice centers, Goss says. “The formula we came up with here continues to work,” he says. Multiple players on the current roster hail from warmweather states, choosing to come to Northwestern to help fine-tune skills during winter training.

“It’s a good break to get away from just competition all the time and try to focus on what you need to work on and improve for down the road,” says Communication senior Matthew Negri. Inglis shares a similar view on the benefits of training indoors, focusing daily on fundamental skills instead of playing 18 holes during the off-season. “We’re really focused on helping our guys develop the skills necessary to go play professional golf,” he says. “And this facility is a huge part of that because it means that we’re in a controlled environment and we can really isolate the skills that these guys need to work on.” Beyond advantages in recruiting warm-weather golfers and taking a step back from scoring to focus on improvement, the Gleacher Center also gives the golf teams an intangible benefit. “This gave the kids a home,” Goss says.

Photo by Michael Nowakowski

The Gleacher Center gives Wildcat golfers an advantage and a home. B Y BE N Z I M M E R MAN


A group of engineering students uses recycled materials to build a solar-powered charging station.

Photo by Alex Furuya

B Y PR E E T I S H A S EN MORE THAN 30 percent of all electric capacity installed in the U.S. in 2014 came from the sun. The Solar Energy Industries Association predicts 2015 will be the year of the millionth solar installation in the U.S. With the completion of a three-year project called SmartTree, that milestone could happen here in Evanston. Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) takes on many projects that contribute to a healthier environment. Managed by McCormick junior Hassan Ali and McCormick sophomore Francis Chen, SmartTree will feature USB and AC outlets for students to use outside of Norris. The tree, designed to be a 15-foottall aluminum structure with benches for people to sit on, will use eight 4-foot-long solar panels. But SmartTree is not as simple as it sounds. Due to the sheer size of the project, Ali and Chen have to make sure everything about the SmartTree design is safe and usable through virtual load analyses before the project is actually built. While ESW works on multiple

projects each year, none have been as focused as SmartTree. The projects usually tackle broader goals like learning more about wind power or water efficiency, but the SmartTree team was given one assignment: Build it. The project began when the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center donated solar panels to ESW in 2012. After a few brainstorming sessions, SmartTree was born. For Ali and Chen, the project is about more than just assembling a team and getting the work done. There are many managerial tasks, from meeting potential investors to working with the Office of Sustainability on questions of location and safety. “I’ve done a lot of projects on my own,” says Chen.“But actually being a project manager, I feel like I improve on so much, like communication with people and how you manage a project, apply for grants, everything like that.” Because of the project’s size, Ali and Chen must run tests using software that assumes the device can withstand certain amounts of

natural pressures, such as snow in the winter. The tests ensure the device will meet NU’s safety standards before installation. These load analyses are typically done by civil engineers, which, unfortunately for Ali and Chen, is not a very popular major at Northwestern. The school has never awarded more than 30 degrees in civil engineering per year, according to the Northwestern University Institutional Research Office. Ali have tried to run the analyses themselves, but they say it’s not easy. “This was definitely the hardest part, trying to work with software,” says Ali. “It’s very tough to understand the data it gives back to you. We keep running into this wall of [thinking], ‘We need more people with expertise to help us.’” Still, Ali and Chen were able to run enough tests to determine that the original 18-foot-tall model was not sustainable. Instead, the structure was reduced by 3 feet to ensure stability, with changes to make the tree trunk more durable. The team has made substantial

progress over the past few months. After finding a hardy and inexpensive design for the mounting brackets that sit between the solar panels and branches, Chen’s electrical team ran several tests on the battery pack and charging systems to ensure the design will be ready for manufacturing. Once the students finish outlining the project and it gets approved by Northwestern, it will be passed on to an outside vendor, since the University doesn’t have the production capacity. Ali and Chen say once they reach that stage, they will still oversee SmartTree’s building process as well as construct the benches and electrical system. Right now, the key is to perfect the load analysis and ensure durability of the SmartTree, but Ali looks forward to getting past challenges like this. “I personally like problem solving,” Ali says. “So any time we encounter some kind of road block, for me it’s just like another opportunity to research and find new solutions.”

winter 2015 | 29



WHEN COMMUNICATION junior Priyanka Thakrar packed her bags to study abroad in Paris, she expected a quarter filled with adventure, culture, good eats and new friends. She did not, however, anticipate the injury that cut her European trip short, sending her home and forcing her to take time off from school to heal. For many Northwestern students, life’s ups and downs put a roadblock in the college timeline, luring them away from campus and leading them to take time off. While taking time away from school can seem daunting, mysterious or even stigmatized, many Wildcats have found that time off has been necessary for their well-being. Thakrar had to make the decision to take a break from her studies in France due to spinal pain from an old injury. “I immediately had to fly to London because I have family

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there, and doctors told me I needed to have surgery right away,” Thakrar says. “I really had no option at that point but to take a medical leave.” Fortunately for Thakrar, the administration at both Northwestern and her university in Paris made the process of taking time off and returning to school extremely smooth. Her academic advisers were accommodating and did most of the work for her, she says, with only a few forms and surveys on her end. Weinberg says on its webpage that students “may generally take time off from their studies and return to Northwestern whenever they choose to do so. No special permission for a leave of absence is required.” By filling out just a few forms, students who feel the need to withdraw from their studies, especially for work or financial reasons, can return to the school when they feel ready. A Former


Returning Student Application must be completed through the Office of the Registrar, and according to the Weinberg Undergraduate Handbook, Weinberg advisers “can help [students] with the return process, the transition back to Northwestern, and planning [their] next steps.” When it comes to taking time off for mental health reasons, however, policies and procedures become a little stickier. In an effort to promote students’ health and success in the NU community, the University takes situations involving mental illness on a caseby-case basis. The process for requesting a medical leave of absence consists of three steps: completing a Request for Voluntary Medical Leave form, contacting CAPS or Health Services and making an appointment with the Dean of Students Office. A medical leave of

absence typically requires students to take at least two quarters off. “Their reasoning is that you need time to heal,” says Communication junior Sarah Mowaswes, who returned to NU at the beginning of this past quarter after taking a leave in the fall. Over the course of the past quarter, Mowaswes not only learned about the logistics of taking time off at Northwestern, but she also encountered evidence of a certain stigma that surrounds taking a quarter or two off. Students here often equate leaving with failure and admitting defeat, she says. “If you ask people on campus if they have thought about taking time off, the numbers are certainly much, much higher than you would assume,” Mowaswes says. “Recovery is not easy and it takes time and work and support, and anyone who looks down upon that has none of my respect.”

Photo by Jack Birdsall

Taking a quarter (or two) off from school has its benefits.


Photo by Thomas Molash. Illustration by Vasiliki Valkanas

The University plans to shake up on-campus housing. BY CAROLINE LE VY

IN CASE you haven’t seen the construction at 560 Lincoln St., oncampus housing is getting a makeover. Buildings are not all that’s changing. As part of the University’s Housing Master Plan, all sophomores will be required to live on campus, though Greek housing will count toward the living requirement. The new plan could be implemented as soon as 2017, says Paul Riel, executive director of Residential Services. The Housing Master Plan anticipates that by 2025, nine residence halls will be renovated, four demolished and five built. The plan was completed in the spring of 2014 and will be released to campus before Spring Break this year, Riel says. ASG Student Life Vice President Chris Harlow says he thinks the living requirement “will cause a lot of stir the first two years.” Harlow, along with other students from ASG, the Residence Hall Association and the Residential College Board, gave Residential Services input throughout the process of devising the housing plan.

“[Sophomores] are an important population to continue to support academically, socially and culturally in a residential environment,” Riel says. “The possibility exists that students will continue to do better at Northwestern if they’re living on campus their second year.” The requirement aims to increase engagement with other students and the University more so than retention, since the latter is not a major concern at Northwestern. Riel explains that national data suggests the first two years at college are often the most important—and sometimes the most difficult—in relation to academic success. He also noted that this type of living requirement is fairly common, particularly at elite institutions. Some schools require students to live on campus for four years, but Northwestern doesn’t have enough real estate to accommodate that policy, according to Residential Services. All new buildings will be suitestyle and will include more public indoor spaces, like lounge areas for

students to spend time together, Riel says. Several existing buildings, such as Foster-Walker Complex, will be renovated to also have more lounge space. Still, many students move off campus because the cost of living is cheaper. Between the required meal plan for on-campus residents and the increasing cost of on-campus housing, Evanston housing will likely continue to have a cheaper price tag. “I don’t think structural changes alone will keep people on campus,” Harlow says. Weinberg senior Gina Krupp moved off campus as a sophomore. She describes the general trajectory of student living as going from on campus to off campus—and staying off. “It never would’ve crossed my mind to go back on campus, because I think in a sense I just graduated from being in a dorm and having an RA,” Krupp says. “There’s just a sense of autonomy that I wouldn’t want to give up since gaining it.” Harlow says that in addition to the

new facilities, the University should develop more programming like that of residential colleges. In the last few years, Residential Services has developed neighborhood concepts, or groups of residence halls in an area on campus. In fall 2013, they created neighborhood desks, which cover multiple residence halls and are staffed 24/7 by RAs or community service officers. The social community within neighborhoods will largely be up to students to create and maintain. “We’re trying to really allow the populations that live there to define how they establish community,” Riel says. “We really want those populations to manage that.” As construction continues, Riel says students will be invited to the buildings and encouraged to provide feedback on the layouts. “Students’ input is important because they will be using and living in the buildings,” Riel says. “They’ll be engaged all the way through the process.”

winter 2015 | 31


Some of today’s most prolific companies started in garages. The Garage hopes to foster a similar entrepreneurial spirit.

Revving Up the Garage

Entrepreneurs will soon have a place to build, fail and learn. BY NICHOLAS HAGAR

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with the resources to develop their ideas. “It’s a place that will have no school boundaries, so it’s open to every student from every corner of the university,” Löffler says. “This is very important because what we want, what we believe in, is that the best ideas, the best innovations come from that intersection of many disciplines. That’s where the real magic happens.” Linda Darragh, executive director of the Kellogg Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, reinforces the hope that students from all areas of study will take advantage of the Garage. She says the best teams are those with students who come from a variety of disciplines. “The Garage serves ... as a place where students from across campus can gather, learn from each other and build

to support their startup, they [sometimes] don’t know where to go for that,” Han says. “They have ideas, they just don’t know how to pursue them.” According to Han, finding mentorship and recruiting likeminded students are common startup challenges. The hope is that a company will come out of this space, but Löffler also stresses the importance of giving students a place where they can fail. “When you take classes, you are not allowed to experiment and fail. But somehow in life you learn the most out of your failures,” she says. “And if you’re an entrepreneur, the more failures you have, the better you become.” Currently, entrepreneurial students work in the Design Studio inside the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design


P h o t o by S e a n M ag ne r

AMAZON, APPLE, DISNEY, Google, Hewlett-Packard, and Nike all began in garages. Starting this summer, Northwestern students will have a new space to develop ideas and work on building businesses. A nod to America’s entrepreneurial greats, this space will be called the Garage. “This is a space for students to collaborate, to come with great ideas, to build ideas and to fail many times and learn how to do that ... and in the process hopefully to create something incredibly good that will change the world,” says Alicia Löffler, executive director of

Northwestern’s Innovations and New Ventures Office. The Garage, which is currently under construction, will be a collaborative workspace located in the parking garage structure on the north side of campus. The idea initially came from the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Committee of NU’s Board of Trustees and is funded entirely through donations, including $4 million from NU trustees Michael Ferro Jr. and Pat Ryan Jr. Slated to officially open June 16, the space is designed to bring together students from different disciplines and provide them

relationships,” she says. About a third of the space will serve as an open workshop where students can work on projects and discuss their ideas. It will also host entrepreneurial classes, clubs, workshops and other programming. The rest of the space will be reserved for students involved in the Garage’s venture residency program, which will give student teams special mentoring and networking opportunities in addition to 24/7 access. “Those students will be coached,” Löffler says. “They will go through a boot camp of how to think about [their] ideas.” The Garage will provide a space where students can learn the mechanics of running a startup. As of yet, the Garage has not chosen a director. Once one is chosen, he or she will begin to shape more specific programming for the space. Suzee Han, a Weinberg senior and co-presidentoof Northwestern’s entrepreneurial student group EPIC, says she hopes the Garage will help student entrepreneurs overcome common startup challenges. “When students need money

Center, which Han and her fellow students call the “hub.” She says it does have its limitations. The space is a public room, which means it is not always available or large enough for some events. Han hopes the Garage will be able to address these problems but is also concerned the new space may still be too small. Michael Marasco, who oversees the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and serves as the executive director on the Garage’s search committee, advises students not to rely too much on the space. “One of the things that you have to keep in mind in terms of an incubator [is that] the business doesn’t survive or thrive in the incubator,” Marasco says. “Hanging out in the Garage isn’t going to make your business successful.” Darragh sees it as a venture that will develop over time. “I think people can think it’s going to be a miracle, and people will just be coming out the door hand-in-hand with new businesses every day,” Darragh says. “It’s a vision that will manifest itself over many years.” winter 2015 | 33

New Member Educator

Philanthropy Chair



Changing 2014 Jail n’ Bail forced Northwestern’s Greek life to confront diversity and inclusion. What’s happened since then?


he backlash to Kappa Kappa Gamma and Zeta Beta Tau’s Jail N’ Bail philanthropy event was swift on social media and then in print. Scathing Facebook and Twitter responses appeared almost immediately. A “student collective” signed a letter to The Daily Northwestern calling out the event for showing the white privilege endemic in Northwestern’s Greek community. 34 |

Vice President

Recruitment Chair

Events Chair

Diversity & Inclusion Chair

Composition 2015 by Katherine Mirani Photos by Natalie Escobar, Jeremy Gaines and Michael Nowakowski Art by Alex Lordahl and Vasiliki Valkanas

“Though the intentions of these Greek organizations may have been playful, the symbolism and context of their actions deserve scrutiny,� the students wrote. The group included students from MIXED, Students for Justice in Palestine, Coalition of Colors, Pulse Magazine, Sustained Dialogue, MEChA de Northwestern, FMO, APAC and Northwestern University College Feminists. winter 2015 | 35

Eighteen girls had posed on Northwestern’s campus wearing orange jumpsuits. They made Kappa Kappa Gamma hand signs, their hands pointed in opposite directions with thumbs touching and the index and middle fingers of each hand pointed out. “Come to the rock [sic] on Halloween and donate any amount to bail your favorite people out of jail!” read the event description, explaining that Jail N’ Bail would benefit Reading is Fundamental, a literacy nonprofit for underserved children. Many in the NU community found Jail N’ Bail offensive because members of a mostly white group of women pretended to be prisoners, imitating a system from which they are far removed. In the U.S., more than 2 million people are currently incarcerated, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color. According to the NAACP, 58 percent of prisoners in 2008 were black or Hispanic. The Kappa fundraiser seemed to be trivializing the plight of those affected by mass incarceration. According to its website, Reading is Fundamental’s “highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8.” The student collective wrote in The Daily that the “decision to raise money for disadvantaged children by parodying the very system that oppresses these parents and families demonstrates the harm that can result from communities failing to take into account their own privilege,” pointing out that Department of Justice statistics show that black and Hispanic children are much more likely than white children to have an incarcerated parent. To many people, the event came off as tone-deaf and painfully ignorant of the real issues Jail N’ Bail mocked. The “fact that a group of wealthy Northwestern students are ‘playacting’ at being prisoners (most of whom are poor) is a blatant belittling of the realities of mass incarceration and the prisonindustrial complex,” wrote Ajay Nadig in a letter to the editor in The Daily. Kappa and ZBT both released short statements apologizing for the event. “Kappa Kappa Gamma regrets organizing the Jail N’ Bail event due to its offensive nature,” the sorority said. “We expect our members to promote integrity, respect and regard for others at all times and we apologize to the NU community.”

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Then-president of NU’s Panhellenic Association, Frances Fu, went further. The SESP senior wrote a personal statement about the event, apologizing while also asking for forgiveness. While Jail N’ Bail seemed to prove she hadn’t accomplished everything she’d wanted to when she began her term, writing an open letter was an opportunity to unite her activist experience with her PHA position. “We didn’t want to issue a bullshit statement,” she says. “I felt like, I don’t know, as someone who has been on the activist side, on the side of marginalized communities before, that’s like the last thing that people want to hear.” Fu’s letter was two pages long, released as a public Google Doc. “Our Greek community used someone else’s narrative to raise money for our philanthropy, and

campus, this incident threw it into sharp relief. CHANGEMAKERS After the Jail N’ Bail outcry, the PHA began talking about how to prevent something similar from ever happening again. Fu met with Kappa, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Lesley-Ann Brown-Henderson, the executive director of the Department of Campus Inclusion and Community at Northwestern. Out of these conversations came the idea of the diversity and inclusion chair, though PHA is not allowed to force chapters to create new positions, meaning sororities do not have to adopt this new chair. “I think it was a good suggestion. I’m not sure how effective it’s going to be,” said Michelle Lega, a member of Chi

IΓ I DΣΓΣΠD THΣ GRΣΣK CΩMMUΠITY, THΣN THΔT’S LIKΣ BΣTRΔYING A PΔRT ΩΓ MYSΣLΓ although we did not act out of malice, we should be ashamed of our ignorance,” she wrote. “Our goal is not simply to move on—to check things off on our ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ checklist to prove that we ‘get it’ now. Our goal is to change the culture of Greek life, the culture of Northwestern, the culture of the world.” In the letter, Fu told readers about a new diversity and inclusion chair that would be implemented in each sorority. Nadig read this letter. He says he hopes the sororities see the positions through and don’t decide that just announcing the new position is enough to enact change. “I think the worst thing you can do is do the first round of backpatting after that,” he says. Jail N’ Bail pushed Northwestern’s sororities into a tough conversation about diversity and inclusion. While the privilege of the Greek system has always been a topic of conversation on

Omega and former recruitment chair. “For example, in my chapter we haven’t really heard much about that.” Chi O chose a diversity and inclusion chair at the end of February, President Mattie Biggs wrote in an email. Incoming PHA President Katherine Doyle says even if chapters do not create a new position dedicated to diversity and inclusion, she thinks that each chapter will have a “point person” who will work on these issues. Some sororities must clear the creation of a new chair with their national organizations. Others may decide the duties of a diversity and inclusion chair would work better when folded into the duties of another position. PHA also plans to slightly adjust the way philanthropy events are approved. At the time of Jail N’ Bail, PHA asked chapters to submit the dates of philanthropy events and a description of the events

themselves through a Microsoft Word form attached to an email. Chapters were not required to submit public relations ideas or thoughts on how the event related to the charity it would benefit. This, Fu says, is how Kappa’s event fell through the cracks. While the sorority had been hosting Jail N’ Bail for years along with Kappa chapters around the nation, the Facebook photo, coupled with the disconnect from Reading is Fundamental’s mission to help underserved children, made the event especially offensive to many students. PHA never got a chance to see these potential pitfalls. “A lot of times philanthropy is so separated from the original cause,” Fu says. Doyle hopes to add a question on the philanthropy form asking, “How do you think this event will be perceived by the greater community?” A question like this, she says, will help each chapter pause and reflect on their event for a moment longer than usual, hopefully catching potentially offensive ideas. “We don’t think that our chapters have any sort of negative intention,” she says. “I see my job as helping them clarify their good intentions and helping them prevent any unintended consequences.” Doyle was the vice president of public relations for PHA before being elected president this past November. She performed her role in public relations through this winter’s recruitment, and was formally installed as president on Feb. 5. As the VP of PR during and after Jail N’ Bail, she says she constantly questioned what she could have done differently to stop what happened. “I couldn’t help but wish that I had somehow anticipated a problem and helped them through that,” Doyle says. “Had I seen the Facebook PR beforehand? No. But could I have led better workshops, could I have had better conversations proactively about PR to avoid that ever happening? Maybe.” When asked about the event now, Fu still tears up. “It’s actually shocking right now that I’m still getting upset thinking about it and talking about it,” she says. As a self-proclaimed member of the “more activist side of Northwestern,” working with Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Sexual Health and Assault Peer Education before becoming

president of the PHA, Fu had hoped to use her experiences and expertise to make changes within the Greek system. “If I defend the Greek community, then that’s like betraying a part of myself,” she says, speaking of the process of writing her open letter. “But at the same time, as someone who’s trying to elevate the community and working with people who want to elevate the community, I couldn’t just be like, ‘Yeah this was wrong,’ and just kind of like ditch people who are trying to make things better. So that was really a struggle for me.” Because rules for creating new positions differ for each sorority, the diversity and inclusion chair hasn’t taken off right away. Some chapters have already created and appointed members to the position, while others have yet to do so. PHA began discussing the position last quarter, but new sorority presidents began their terms this winter. Some, like Pi Beta Phi President Anya Ring, were therefore not present when PHA started these ideas. “There’s definitely a learning curve,” says Ring of the transition process. Since taking office this quarter, Ring has engaged in talks about how to implement the position. Delta Delta Delta, on the other hand, already has a diversity and inclusion chair. Tri-delt President Grace Lindner says Willow Pastard, the new chair, was perfect for the role and asked to take it on. “She kind of has had this role in an unofficial sense in our chapter by making everyone aware of cool events on campus that maybe we wouldn’t attend, because we wouldn’t know that they’re happening,” Lindner says. “I think she just wanted to make it into more of an official position so that we could do more with it.” Lindner says the position will be about making the chapter aware of diversity on campus and in Chicago by bringing in speakers, setting up events and more. For their first event, the sorority went to see Selma, the film about voting rights marches led by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965. Tri-delt created the new position after getting it approved by their executive office, which Lindner says was an easy process. “I think in terms of positions, it’s not that hard to get anything approved because it’s obviously all for the good of the chapter,” she

says. “Why would they ever say no to a diversity chair?” As for Kappa, President Caroline Hatch wrote in an email that she is “unable to speak at this time but Kappa Kappa Gamma is fully onboard with the Greek and larger Northwestern community’s plans regarding Diversity and Inclusion!” Elizabeth Bailey, fraternity vice president for Kappa’s national organization, wrote in an email that “Kappa Kappa Gamma’s Upsilon Chapter has taken the suggestion by the Northwestern Panhellenic Association very seriously.” She wrote that Kappa members “have taken part in an Intent/Impact dialogue hosted by Northwestern University’s Assistant Director for Campus Inclusion and Community,” Michelle Enos. GENERAL MEMBERS

sorority. It opened me to so many new experiences,” she says. “I think I would have been a lot more enclosed or ignorant if I hadn’t, because so many people in my sorority are involved in so many things on campus. My friends before joining a sorority, we were kind of a homogenous group. We were all from the same income level. We were all white, so joining a sorority, interestingly, made my friend group more diverse.” Still, she knows there’s work to be done. On one promising note, she hopes sexuality is not a reason people decline to join Greek life. Lega identifies as queer. Weinberg freshman Tiffany Anderson is one of Lega’s newest Chi O sisters. She says that she was looking at the diversity of each chapter as she went through recruitment.

I THIΠK I’M JΔDΣD BY GRΣΣK LIΓΣ, BUT I HΔVΣ BΣCΩMΣ MΩRΣ PΔSSIΩΠATΣ ΔBΩUT WΩMΣΠ, ΔND WΩMΣΠ’S ΣMPΩWΣRMΣΠT While she discussed the issue with her Chi O sorority sisters, Lega says talking with fellow members of College Feminists convinced her to sign the letter to The Daily responding to Jail N’ Bail. She wanted to show that there are members of Greek life “who are trying to be more aware of these issues and trying to help others in Greek life be more aware as well.” “I agreed with the criticism,” Lega says. “It was poorly thought out. I don’t want to necessarily demonize the whole chapter. I don’t want to demonize the women who put this event on, but at the same time, it required more forethought.” Lega is passionate about the issue of diversity in Greek life and believes that she has developed a more diverse group of friends and has gotten more involved in social justice issues at Northwestern due to her membership in a sorority. “I definitely am glad I joined a

“I was looking at how diverse are they, do they have a lot of different types of people in them,” says Anderson, who identifies as black. “That was a big factor for me. Because you don’t want to be the token minority in a sorority.” According to a 2014 survey by the Division of Student Affairs, PHA and IFC at Northwestern are less than 2 percent black. Students who identify as Asian or Pacific Islander make up 10 percent of PHA and IFC, while 9 percent identify as Hispanic and 5 percent as two or more races. Lega says she’s noticed that the national Chi O Facebook page often posts pictures of all white groups of women. “It’s certainly our problem and our fault more than it is the people choosing to go through recruitment, choosing to join these chapters,” Lega says. “But it’s sort of like, I don’t know, displaying these pictures of all white chapters is just going to do more to dissuade

women of color from going through the process. “ Anderson says she is happy with Chi O and thinks it is a diverse group of people. “Everyone’s really nice,” she says. “I could see myself being best friends with these girls for four years, or even past that.” The friendships in Greek life are what drove Weinberg sophomore Car Jansen to join Chi O as well. But that doesn’t stop Jansen, who identifies as queer, from wondering what Greek life could do to become less heteronormative. “I think that it’d be a good thing to have options for people who don’t fall inside the gender binary,” she says. “I don’t really know what the solution would be, but I do think it’s restrictive to only be like sororities for women, fraternities for males, that leave out people who maybe don’t identify as either of those.” This issue occurred to Nadig as well, who says he doesn’t think Greek life can change while remaining Greek life as he conceives it. “If they were to solve the problem, then they wouldn’t like be what I think to be Greek life anymore,” he says. “It would be a very different institution, which is not a bad thing.” The institution of Greek life has changed to become more inclusive several times over the years, mostly in terms of race. While Northwestern’s first black fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, was founded in 1917, it was not recognized by IFC and the National Pan-Hellenic Council until 1941, according to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. Black women didn’t pledge sororities until 1967. The first Latina- and Latino-based chapters came to Northwestern in 2000 and 2001, respectively, and the first Asian-interest sorority, Kappa Phi Lambda, was founded in 2003. “I think it’s also important to realize you know, contextually at Northwestern, I think maybe three to five years ago, we weren’t even having conversations about diversity,” says Ben Wiebers, assistant director at the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. “It was something we knew existed, but we weren’t necessarily talking about it, and within the last couple of years, students have really taken a hold through social media and forums and talking about, ‘Hey, this is an issue that really matters.’” Nadig, too, thinks issues of diversity have boiled to the surface

winter 2015 | 37

in recent years more strongly than before. “I think it was super easy to go about your day without talking about race issues like before Trayvon Martin,” he says. “Of course all these things were super present. They’re all like these awful things that happened. But I think as a wealthy college student you could very much go about your day and not think about it. But I think that really changed after the Trayvon Martin shooting. I think it really became, this is something you confront, wherever you go, all the time.”

and sometimes it ends up being a choice of, ‘Do I stay in the chapter? Because I can’t really pay for this,’” she says. Tri-delt offers installment plans for paying dues, as well as national scholarships. IFC President Mark Nelson summed up the difficulty of making changes to finance. “It’s so tough. The financial stuff, it just sucks so bad,” he says. “There’s got to be a more eloquent way to say it, but to find a way to fix that is so hard, because that’s just an inherent thing about being in a fraternity, you have to support it financially.”

fraternity chapter at NU has a national organization that oversees it. PHA reports to the National Panhellenic Conference. Then there’s IFC, the Multicultural Greek Council, NPHC and, of course, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. That’s a lot of councils, acronyms and administrations, a lot of people who may or may not be working toward the same goals. And when diversity and inclusion becomes a big issue, getting things done can be tough. Fu speaks of the “weird balance” among PHA, each Northwestern chapter and their national organizations.

FINANCIAL INCLUSION A discussion about diversity in Greek life isn’t complete without talking about financial inclusion. Chapter members must pay dues in order to support the organization, hold events and maintain a house on campus. Those dues can end up running too high, forcing people to choose between staying in a social group they love or going broke. PHA Vice President of Administration Kathy Hong is working on making sororities more financially inclusive. She made a financial matrix for this year’s recruitment that was handed out to potential new members, laying out the financial obligations for each chapter. “I thought that way, if they had this information, they would kind of know which chapters are a more possible option,” Hong says. “Which, in one way, it does really suck that they may not be able to choose the chapter that they really want to choose because of finances, but at the same time I think there’s something great about each chapter.” Even with Hong’s matrix in hand, however, potential new members are still the ones who must bring up financial issues with the women they talk to at each chapter, something some people may not feel comfortable doing. Hong agrees that there could be more transparency in the process, but says one of her main goals right now is to analyze PHA’s finances to see if more money could be given out in scholarships. Lindner, who served as Tri-delt’s vice president of finance before becoming president, says their diversity and inclusion chair is interested in financial inclusion as well. “That has been a conversation that we’ve opened up a little bit more this year because it is hard for some people to obviously pay,

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TRANSPARENCY AND RELATIONSHIPS PHA is working to improve awareness of diversity and inclusion at Northwestern, starting with the new chair positions. There are many women dedicated to working on it, such as Lega and her sisters. But the fact remains that Greek life is a hard institution to change. There are many organizations, each with their own rules and regulations, all working to please their own constituents who may not be in tandem with one another. Each sorority and


There’s also the issue of working with the Interfraternity Council, an organization with very different rules and regulations from PHA. Another set of difficulties exists in making connections with the multicultural fraternities and sororities when there is an imbalance in resources and membership between PHA and IFC and the multicultural groups. “We are all Greek, but like, we’re really different in a lot of ways, and a lot of people don’t understand the underlying systems that create conflict between people who are different,” Fu says. Outgoing Multicultural Greek

Council President Cindy Chen says that for her, IFC and PHA chapters reaching out to MGC chapters feels welcoming, though there’s no getting around the huge size difference among the councils. MGC, which includes groups of both genders, has about 100 members in total, Chen says. PHA and IFC together gave bids to 841 students in 2015. “There’s nothing we can do to change the size, because the small, intimate community is part of who we are as MGC,” she says. “So what we can do is just to build those personal relationships.” Chen says while relationships between council presidents start off strong at the beginning of presidents’ terms Winter Quarter, they tend to die as the year goes on. She blames this on the busy Northwestern schedule. Nelson is full of optimism. He says he wants to meet with the other council presidents every two weeks to figure out how they can work together, though he’s not sure how those meetings will work. There are difficulties in trying to navigate the differences between individual and national chapters and among the several Greek councils at NU, Doyle says. “We tell people to join Greek life because we’re not all the same person. So there’s no point in pretending to all have the same narrative.” Doyle says it hurts her to hear sorority women say, “It’s different at Northwestern,” because she wants to see women at NU work with their national organizations to create change there. She wants Northwestern sororities to make more of an effort to make national Greek life progressive. “First and foremost, you want to focus on making your individual chapter fabulous,” Doyle says. “But then, let’s push for more. Let’s start national conversations. Let’s be trendsetters.” Fu also believes in the power of the women at Northwestern to make changes. She’s less sure about Greek life. “I think I’m leaving my position not necessarily more passionate about Greek life. I think I’m jaded by Greek life, but I have become more passionate about women, and women’s empowerment,” she says. “PHA here has been pretty progressive in a lot of different ways that the National Panhellenic Conference doesn’t necessarily even understand yet. That’s where I’m leaving my position.”


Grade Escape There’s more to getting a 4.0 than just good study habits. by Anne Li Photos by Jeremy Gaines and Michael Nowakowki


our accordion files rest on a cart in the back of Deering Library’s University Archives. Each file contains detailed records on the respective year’s distribution of grades to Northwestern undergraduate students, by letter grade and by school. Maintained from 1969 to 2002, typewritten letters and numbers document a measurement of success for the students who receive them. And the grades are important for their givers as well. Successful students, to some extent, indicate successful instructors. The data contained in the accordion files tells a story about how these two players work with grades to tell the stories they want told. It shows what happens when students and professors manipulate the grading system, when students engage in GPA padding by seeking out easier classes and professors even if they consequently learn less, when universities inflate grades to maintain a reputation. No wonder critics argue that the American grading system is in crisis mode and that the versatility of the letters themselves renders them more and more meaningless each year.

winter 2015 | 39


ccording to Chris Healy, a computer science professor at Furman University, grade inflation is “awarding a higher grade than is deserved” or “awarding a higher grade than what would’ve been awarded in the past.” Healy and former Duke University professor Stuart Rojstaczer worked together to create, a project that documents and illustrates their research on grade inflation at universities nationwide. Rojstaczer is currently working on updating the data beyond 2010. The numerous charts on the site show, among other phenomena, that a student at a private university fares better GPA-wise than a student who earned a similar SAT score in high school but attends a public university. The data charts how the number of A’s assigned is increasing while the number of B’s and C’s is decreasing, leading Healy to believe that the U.S. is moving towards a pass-fail system that was in place in the 19th century. One of the schools included in the data is Northwestern University, which between 1990 and 2006 inflated less than 0.2 points, a rate slower than Brown’s and Duke’s but quicker than Harvard’s, which is frequently criticized for its grade inflation. The numbers tell a controversial story. When asked for data on grade inflation, the Office of the Provost, the Registrar and even the Data Book all say something along the lines of, “We don’t keep data on grades,” or

“Northwestern does not publicize GPA data.” Healy doesn’t buy it. “I can’t imagine how the administration would not want to know,” he says. “They might be embarrassed by it. It might be because many of Northwestern’s peer institutions don’t publish [data on grades].” Whatever the reason, the data curated in the Archives confirms Healy’s findings: At least between 1969 and 2002, after which the Data Book stopped recording overall undergraduate grades distributed, NU has been inflating undergraduate grades. Out of all the grades Northwestern distributed in 1969, 26.4 percent were A’s. By 1992, the last year the Data Book recorded the University’s overall grades, A’s made up 41.1 percent of grades. But what’s more stunning is the different rates of inflation between undergraduate schools. McCormick, whose faculty is known for projecting bell curves after every exam to their students, had the lowest amount of inflation between 1969 and 2002, just 8 percent. Meanwhile, Bienen’s distribution of A’s skyrocketed from 53 percent in 1969 to 89 percent in 2002. SESP’s distribution of A’s held most steady, hovering around the upper ‘50s and lower ‘60s throughout the years. Bienen Dean Toni-Marie Montgomery did not respond to requests for comment. “It’s student evaluations, it’s shopping around for colleges,” Healy says regarding why grades nationwide have been rising. “The customer is always right, and the consumerist model is that


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college is a business in which the students are the customers and they are always right. They have to be happy.”


hile the Civil Rights Era was coming to a close and the Vietnam War was just beginning, Healy believes that educators held a national discussion on the effects of the American grading system on college students. The term “grade inflation” made its first appearance in The Daily Northwestern in 1974. In 1975, it was brought up again in an article on students allegedly manipulating their grades after the “P/N” option was instituted. The data justifies the hype. The percentage of A’s distributed spiked between 1972 and 1973 in most Northwestern undergraduate schools. 1973 was the last year of conscription. Before then, according to a 1976 article in the Chicago Daily News, professors nationwide gave men higher grades to help them avoid being drafted to the war in Vietnam. The New York Times published a piece in 1974 on grade inflation and its effects on students. It described a grade panic taking over campus, when freshmen saw grades not as an indicator of their future aspirations but of their own self-worth. As a result, incidents of cheating apparently increased, including at Northwestern, the then-Weinberg assistant dean was quoted as saying. Blame began to circulate. “The humanities majors blame the pre-professional students. The pre-med and pre-law students blame their professors and graduate schools for placing too much emphasis on grades in admissions decisions,” the article states. “Some faculty members blame the colleges themselves for failing to foster closer contact between students and instructors, to convince students that there is more to college than good grades.” Four decades later, undergraduate science and overall GPAs still play an important role in the Feinberg School of Medicine admissions process. Because Feinberg tries to holistically review applications, GPAs are considered alongside other

criteria, including the applicant’s MCAT scores, knowledge of the medical field and leadership experience. But when applications arrive at Feinberg, they’re sorted into two piles. One pile contains the applications of those who meet the baseline GPA and MCAT score. They’re automatically sent to be reviewed by the admissions committee. Feinberg’s entering median GPA for the class of 2018 was a 3.87. The median science GPA was a 3.86. The other pile goes to Warren Henry Wallace, associate dean of admissions for Feinberg, who looks to see if these applicants are competitive in other aspects. “It is difficult being an undergraduate in a competitive environment, where your performance is going to affect your future prospects regarding medical school,” says Warren, who believes that coping with stress—even if it’s from grades— is good practice for work in the medical field. “But in a situation where we have data that suggests performance as an undergraduate is a predictor, and that there are twice as many seats as there are applications, it’s gonna be a long time before the GPA is not a part of the evaluation of potential medical school candidates.” Although GPAs can determine which pile your Feinberg application falls into, schools like Northwestern don’t make maintaining near-4.0s easy. Mark Morel graduated from Northwestern in 2014 and now attends Emory School of Medicine. He believes that the rigorous course load at Northwestern prepared him for the MCAT, but he remembers students on the pre-med padding their GPAs by taking classes at Harvard over the summer instead of at Northwestern, because transfer credits are not calculated into the Northwestern GPA. “One of my pre-med advisors said that there were almost 800 premed kids in the freshman class,” Morel says. “It whittles down to 200 by the time they’re seniors.” Morel majored in art history because he enjoyed the subject, though he says the boost it gave his GPA may have influenced his decision “subconsciously.” Morel graduated with a 3.8.

But what do grades mean for undergraduate students? Their meanings are perhaps impossible to pinpoint without defining the meaning of success. Nicky Hackett, a second-year Feinberg student, knew during his undergraduate years at Vanderbilt that he wanted to attend a prestigious medical school. But the pressure to maintain his GPA did not come without consequences. Hackett switched majors midfreshman year from engineering—a subject he was genuinely interested in—to religious studies, and then again his sophomore year to a major in medicine, health and society. “I’m taking [a class] because this is my life, not just an educational opportunity to learn something,” Hackett says. “Grades have a direct effect on how I get to live my life.” He hated the effect it had on his classmates and that he couldn’t “explore opportunities that were interesting, in the spirit of college.” Once, a friend who was on the pre-med track and later “dropped pre-med and became a different human being” broke down during a study session. “[She] couldn’t figure out a math problem and that brought her to tears in a public place,” Hackett recalls. Hackett graduated with a “3.9 or something.” “If there was no such thing as GPA and I could’ve stuck in engineering and done the same thing, I would’ve done that,” he says. “It was disappointing, for sure. I’m kind of disappointed in myself, because I didn’t take a risk.”


tephen Carr, undergraduate dean of the McCormick School of Engineering, does not believe

that grades are an indicator of engineering aptitude. But he does say grades can play an indirect role in a professor’s ability to gain positive reviews when they are up for tenure or contract renewal. Much of this data is gathered through CTECs. Of course, some considerations must be made when reading CTECs. Carr says that student comments are more important than scores and that freshmen are more honest than older students in their reviews. Some professors grade hard but score high on their CTECs. Manipulating one’s CTEC scores is difficult, Carr says. “If a professor had wanted to inflate their CTEC scores by using higher grades, it fails in effect to gain higher CTEC scores. ‘The professor’s a patsy, gives really high grades,’” Carr conjectures. Yet McCormick undergraduate GPAs have been steadily creeping upward in the past few years, though Carr says not as quickly as incoming freshmen standardized test scores have been rising. “One [reason for grade inflation] is, we have better students. And that is an understatement. So when professors assign grades to the work done by their students, it’s likely that they’re going to be quite satisfied by the quality of their work,” Carr says. A second reason is that professors are less confident that giving poor grades—C’s and D’s for example—makes sense. “That is sort of a spontaneous creep from the culture,” Carr says. The percentage of A’s distributed in McCormick increased 25.7 percent between 1978 and 2002. Overall SAT scores of the entering freshman class

increased 16.4 percent in that same time frame. SAT math scores increased 11.2 percent. McCormick has no standardized rules for grade assignment. The faculty handbook states that McCormick faculty has the option of distributing grades on a scale where a 4.0-A reflects “excellent” work, a 3.0-B reflects “good” work and so on. However, there are a few school-wide rules: Grades must fit a bell curve so that the top students in the class receive A’s and professors must inform students on the first day of class how grades will be assigned.


egarding grade inflation, Carr admits it exists. But “So what?” For all his confidence in McCormick’s grading system, Carr doesn’t think that grades should hold that much importance. “Once you get into college, it’s becoming more and more important how you develop yourself as a person, especially how effective you can be,” he says. “It means that you have ideas that other people respect, and probably you have the ability to communicate the value of your good ideas.” And perhaps that’s the biggest irony in the American grading system. The accordion files in the Archives tell a story of inflation and manipulation. They tell the story of students and professors who rely on grades for their success and emotional well-being. In reality, the rules behind grade assignments are so versatile that the age-old standardized measurement of success may actually mean nothing at all.

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Title IX was once thought of as the final word on women in college sports. Now, it’s shorthand for sexual assault protection. But at Northwestern, is that enough? BY RACHE L FOBAR PHO TOS B Y MICHAE L NOWAKOW SKI ART BY VASILIKI VALKANAS

Dillo Day was on May 25 in 2002. Béla Fleck and the Flecktones performed and Julie* was just three weeks shy of finishing up her freshman year at Northwestern. Thoughts of finals were far from everyone’s mind, but instead of celebrating the end of the school year at the concerts with her friends, Julie was trapped in a living nightmare. Julie, who published her story in a now defunct student publication two quarters after the incident, says that as the day progressed, she ended up at a fraternity house with a group of people. One of those people was a student with whom she had previously been in a physical relationship. “After I’d had enough of watching him stumble around with his Bacardi, I made it my job to get him up into his bed before *names have been changed.

he passed out,” she writes. “Plan: Direct him up onto his loft and go home.” Things didn’t work out as she had planned, however. As she turned to leave his room, he blocked her path. “My stomach dropped at the heavy ‘thunk’ of the deadbolt,” she writes. She says he picked her up and threw her on his bed, where he raped her three times. In the last three weeks of the school year, Julie says she struggled through finals. Meanwhile, she says he claimed he was too drunk to remember the incident. She spent the summer grappling with anorexia, insomnia, suicidal thoughts and drug use. Julie says she didn’t want to report the incident to the police, whom she feared would be insensitive and skeptical of her

story, especially since she had willingly slept with him before the alleged rape. “To prosecute would mean that I could be called a liar, that I would not only have to relive the event but prove I wasn’t lying,” she writes. Back in the early 2000s, there were fewer resources for sexual assault victims, and Julie says she didn’t know where to go. She did, however, want to protect other girls from the alleged rapist, who had been hired as an RA for the 2002-03 school year. When Julie reported the incident to the Office of Residential Life, she says they refused to take action since she “had not filed a complaint after the incident.” When reached for comment, the Office of Residential Life reiterated this point. He retained his position as an RA. Thirteen years ago, this incident

likely wouldn’t have been viewed as a Title IX issue. Since then, college campuses have been held more accountable for sexual assaults because of increased media attention, the White House has spoken out and Northwestern has updated its sexual assault policies and trial procedures. But does this mean Northwestern students are better protected than they were before? TITLE IX’S BEGINNINGS For many years, there was a misconception that Title IX primarily protected athletes. In reality, the inspiration for Title IX had nothing to do with sports. It all began in 1969 with a recommendation from Bernice Sandler, who was denied a position at the University of Maryland after receiving her doctorate there

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in Counseling and Personnel Services. When she asked why she was not considered for any of the seven openings in the department, a male faculty member told her, “Let’s face it. You come on too strong for a woman.” Often called the “Godmother of Title IX,” Sandler recommended that Congress hold a hearing on sex discrimination in education. In 1970, they did. Sandler testified before the congressional committee about discrimination against women in higher education, and this hearing led to the creation of Title IX. Signed into law by Richard Nixon in June 1972, Title IX ensures, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” The law addresses 10 areas: access to higher education, career education, education for pregnant and parenting students, employment, athletics, learning environment, math and science, standardized testing, technology and sexual harassment. In the early days of Title IX at Northwestern, the law was viewed as assurance that women would receive equal treatment in sports. University President Robert Strotz appointed an Ad Hoc Committee on Intercollegiate Sports in 1974 to study the status of women’s sports on campus and to assess whether Northwestern complied with Title IX. Varsity status became open to women in 1975, and by September 1976 the Women’s Athletic Department offered its first scholarships to student-athletes. Despite these advances, hostility toward women athletes persisted. An unnamed female basketball player complained of “little things” in a January 1976 article in The Daily Northwestern. “Every day before practice we’re issued a roll of pants, a shirt, socks, a towel and a jock strap,” she says. “We tried using them (the jockstraps) as headbands, but they fell off.” In the last few years, the law has attracted attention in a sexual assault context. Title IX gives sexual assault victims an extra layer of protection—while it might be easy for a university to dismiss a college student filing a complaint, it’s almost impossible to ignore a Title IX lawsuit. “It adds real legal responsibility for schools to do something,” says says Communication senior

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Olivia Seligman, Sexual Health and Assault Peer Education (SHAPE) communications director. “So it’s not just like, ‘Do the right thing.’ It’s sort of like, ‘You have to do this.’” Sexual harassment was not even considered sex discrimination until Alexander v. Yale in 1980, when five Yale College students and alumni used Title IX for charges of sexual harassment against the university. Though the women lost the case on technical grounds, the lawsuit accomplished its goals. Yale instituted a complaint procedure for victims of sexual harassment, and the court determined that sexual harassment counted as sex discrimination. Flash forward 35 years, and Title IX is almost synonymous with legal

the University under Title IX in February 2014, alleging that former philosophy professor Peter Ludlow sexually assaulted her in 2012. WHAT HAS NORTHWESTERN DONE? A group of students, wearing tape on their mouths and carrying signs with phrases like “Protect us, not our reputation” and “We will not be silenced,” protested Ludlow’s philosophy class by hosting a sit-in last Spring Quarter. After the protesters left the class, they marched to the Rock and eventually to the Weinberg Dean’s Office. So what does a university do when it has an alleged sexual assailant on

“It adds real legal responsibility for schools to do something .... So it’s not just like, ‘Do the right thing.’ It’s sort of like, ‘You have to do this.’”

protection from sexual assault on college campuses. In 2011, the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter to university employees, explaining that Title IX covers sexual violence. Vox called 2014 the year “college sexual assault became impossible to ignore.” Universities like Harvard and Princeton were found in violation of Title IX, the White House formed a task force to protect college students from sexual assault and Emma Sulkowicz carried her mattress around Columbia University to protest her alleged rapist’s continued presence at the school. And at Northwestern, a Medill senior sued

staff and a group of angry students protesting his class? Ludlow’s class was cancelled for the remainder of the quarter, and the Title IX lawsuit was eventually dismissed. In the fall, Dean of Students Todd Adams announced “a new student conduct process, which applies in cases alleging sexual misconduct by students,” according to an October email from University President Morton Schapiro. He also said Northwestern was going to receive another three-year grant of $300,000 from the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women. According to the email, the grant funds education programs and efforts to engage diverse groups

in sexual violence prevention. At a mid-January meeting, ASG announced that the University will be implementing new Title IX-related updates. The University will hire a Title IX investigator, who will conduct sexual harassment and sexual violence investigations and report to Title IX Coordinator Joan Slavin. For cases that involve faculty respondents, Slavin has been working with the Office of the Provost to design a new faculty discipline process. The University is also developing a new online training process for all faculty, staff and graduate students concerning Title IX, the Violence Against Women Act and sexual harassment. ASG President Julia Watson says ASG has been lobbying for changes like these. She specifically mentioned training for the Faculty Committee on Cause, which reviews and mediates disputes between members of the Northwestern faculty and administration. “If you’re deciding the outcomes of somebody who’s been found to be in violation of Title IX, you want to make sure that people who are also listening to those cases actually know Title IX policy, Northwestern policy, federal and state policy,” Watson says. Weinberg senior Jazz Stephens, an activist involved in the Title IX at NU movement, says we’ll have to wait to see how effective the training is. She says a “five-minute online module” for professors to complete wouldn’t help anyone, for example. Slavin is working to update the Title IX website with frequently asked questions. Northwestern also plans to send out a student campus climate survey in April. The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault is considering making these climate surveys a requirement for all colleges and universities for next year. Northwestern is ahead of the game in that respect, Watson says. “Some colleges and universities are reporting that they have zero Title IX allegations,” Watson says. “That’s obviously just not the case. It’s completely improbable to say that some of these colleges and universities just aren’t having issues of sexual harassment, sexual assault. I think these survey results will actually start to shed light on the real numbers of what’s going on.” As far as what’s already been accomplished, Slavin and a deputy coordinator provided in-person Title IX and Violence Against Women Act training for incoming graduate and professional students.

This training covers an overview of consent and Northwestern policies, bystander intervention and how to report complaints. Despite these updates, Director of Legal Studies Laura Beth Nielsen says there are still problems with Title IX hearings, which are conducted by university officials. “You have a lot of processes at the university level that look something like a criminal process. The idea is that the person who’s being accused has certain rights and that the person who’s doing the accusing has certain protections, but the adjudicator ends up being someone at the university, and they are not necessarily neutral,” she says. “In addition to this particular case, they have all of these university concerns that are in their minds, whether they say they are or not .... The university also has a lot at stake, so putting an employee of the university in that position, while it’s what every university does, may not be the ideal system that you want to set up.” In other words, no matter what policies or procedures NU enacts, the system is still inherently flawed. Stephens says this problematic system can make survivors hesitant about coming forward. “Structures at Northwestern enable there to be a lot of sexism, a lot of silencing, a lot of shaming,” she says. She also says that without enforcement, Title IX is useless. “I actually think [Title IX is] more a slap in the face to know in theory you have these protections. It’s just not being enforced by the school,” she says. “Yeah, we have [protections] in theory, on paper somewhere. Maybe even on the Internet somewhere. Are we doing anything about it? No.” Overall, she says Northwestern can do better. “I think [the University is] not doing as well as it could be, and considering the resources we have, that is unacceptable,” Stephens says. “If we can afford to fill in a part of the Lakefill to avoid land taxes, we should be able to better support survivors.” Some students have taken action into their own hands to supplement the University’s actions. The Northwestern University College Feminists annually hosts Take Back the Night, which aims to end sexual violence by creating safe communities and respectful relationships through awareness events and initiatives. Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault (MARS)

gives presentations on sexual assault, often working with the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life. Members of SHAPE seek to educate and generate dialogue about health and sexual assault. “One of the things Title IX says is that the school is supposed to take preventative measures, but I’ve seen less action in that respect,” Seligman says. “It’s a lot harder to say, ‘This is how we handle sexual assault,’ instead of ‘This is how we create a culture that prevents that.’” Members of the College Feminists say Title IX protections don’t go far enough, arguing that sexual assault’s illegality won’t prevent it from happening. “Rape is very illegal beyond

groups work together so it’s not the school versus the students. “I think the conversations have to be more ongoing,” Seligman says. Communication sophomore Will Altabef, the public relations chair for MARS, agrees that continuing these conversations after freshman year is important. He says that while Northwestern has updated its consent policies and provided resources like CARE and the Women’s Center, upperclassmen need to be made aware of policy changes and new resources. “The policies they’re trying to put out there are good,” Altabef says. “Unfortunately it’s how do you get 6,000 older students to read those policies every year? Because

“If we can afford to fill in a part of the Lakefill to avoid land taxes, we should be able to better support survivors.”

Title IX, and I’m going to go ahead and say that most victims of sexual assault don’t find it comforting that rape’s illegal,” says College Feminists President Elizabeth Böhl. “I don’t think that having Title IX is going to make survivors feel like, ‘I’m going to be believed now.’ I think it’s useful, and I think its something we should utilize, but I don’t think it’s an end-all, be-all.” “It’s not going to end rape culture,” Weinberg sophomore Arielle Zimmerman says. Seligman believes the disconnect between students and administration could be one cause of the problem. She says part of the solution could be having the two

obviously they’re going to talk to the freshmen about it every year, but there’s going to be so many older students who might not know what’s changed.” As far as sexual assault prevention, the Student Handbook is progressive in its definitions of sexual misconduct. The policy on Sexual Misconduct, Stalking, and Dating and Domestic Violence, which was implemented last January, identifies consent as “the cornerstone of respectful and healthy intimate relationships.” Northwestern’s definition states emphasizing affirmative consent, stating that that “consent is present when clearly understandable

words or actions manifest a knowing and voluntary agreement to engage in specific sexual or intimate conduct.” The handbook also touches on the incapacitation standard, stating consent cannot be given when a person is drunk, unconscious, asleep or “otherwise unaware that the sexual activity is occurring.” Northwestern’s sexual misconduct policy also says anyone who engages in sexual activity must be aware of the other person’s level of intoxication. In other words, saying, “I didn’t realize how drunk she was” isn’t an excuse. But what about ordinary students who aren’t involved in sexual assault awareness groups? Stephens says Northwestern students are reactionary. She describes the campus atmosphere as possessing an “allencompassing inertia.” “Incidents happen, students rise up and protest, there’s kind of some small gesture toward making the school a better place or safer place for some group of students, and then very little is actually done at the end of say, five, 10 years,” she says. She says this type of activism creates a demand for narratives— students who get involved need to hear a compelling story first. “We demand to hear these kind of empathy-evoking, sympathyevoking stories that are supposed to kind of fuel us to be outraged,” she says. “That’s almost how we’re taught to care .... You want to hear that some person walked into some frat and had this horrible experience, and how it affected her and how it impacted her time at Northwestern, and preferably there would be some sort of a gesture toward a happy ending…. But it can’t be like, ‘I don’t think that was my fault at all, and I’m fine.’ We don’t want to hear that. We want to hear the struggle, the sadness, the impact.” Stephens says we need to start moving forward and having conversations—conversations in which the University needs to be present and vocal. “I wish we were talking about more radical conversations. I’m so tired of having the same [conversation], ‘Yes, let’s combat sexual violence,’” she says. “Can that just be a given already? Can we move onto the next step?” Until then, Stephens says, “We’re not going anywhere new .... There needs to be a will to change.”

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by Tyler Daswick

Photos by Michael Nowakowski

‘m bad with people.” What was that? Jun Sung Ahn, the Communication senior with the mad violin skills and 540,000 YouTube subscribers hadn’t said that, had he? I’m not sure what to say. I try to play it off. Ahn releases a nervous laugh. “Not to be rude, but honestly, right now, this situation for me is kind of awkward.” Yeesh. This isn’t how I expected the interview to go, but then again, Jun Sung Ahn is anything but what you might expect.

“PLAY LOUDER I CAN’T HEAR ENOUGH OF THE BEAUTIFUL INSTRUMENT THAT IS JUN CURRY’s VIOLIN PLAY SO LOUD MY FEELS EXPLODE FROM THE MEANINGFUL EMOTION FILLED MUSIC PLAY SOMETHING IM GIVING UP ON YOU” - J Vancil “Most people on YouTube, they don’t really know that much,” he says. “If they see me play violin they’ll be like, ‘Oh my God, he’s the best violinist in the world,’ because they don’t know anyone else.” This man is more than just the violin. Even when he came to Northwestern as a budding Internet star, Ahn’s focus was never solely on YouTube. In fact, his RTVF major was his first priority. “I have more passion for film,” he says. “In high school I would practice the violin like five hours every single day. It was a really big deal for me, but I decided to do film .... My dream, freshman year [at Northwestern], was to be a film director. That was it.” Yet, even with YouTube securely on the secondhand shelf, Ahn saw how his filmmaking passions could be put on display via his violin playing. Today, his channel functions almost as a resume. “Everything I do, every project I make, contributes to my film career,” he says. “Gaining more subscribers through my videos is like gaining more audience. If I didn’t have a YouTube channel, it would be hard to get a hundred people to watch it, but [now] it would be super easy for me to get

You probably think you know Jun Sung Ahn, or JuNCurryAhn, as he is referred to online. This story has been told before—you might say you’ve heard this song and dance—and at this point you might be thinking there isn’t much else to know about Northwestern’s resident YouTube star. Well, if you ask him, it’s not that simple. He’s not that simple. “Most people on YouTube, they think I’m just this nice, quiet, nerdy Asian kid who plays violin. That’s their image,” Ahn says. “I don’t think I fit that image anymore.” The misconceptions begin, perhaps, with Ahn’s level of talent. Indeed, he is a fine artist and a terrific musician, but comments like this one from his cover of A Great Big World’s “Say Something” tend to bother him, and they aren’t uncommon:

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a hundred people to watch it right away, so that’s a big advantage.” Even with a thousandsstrong audience ready to jump on everything he posts, however, Ahn is committed to making each upload unique and original. “I want to build my YouTube channel as a portfolio,” he says. “Instead of pumping out videos every week, like setting up a tripod in my room and doing a really simple cover, I take every single video that I upload as a big project of mine, with a new style and stuff like that. Every video that I do has a cinematic quality to it.” There’s evidence of that across his channel. His cover of Seoulbased boy band EXO’s “Growl” cuts together to look like one continuous shot. His “Shake It Off” cover brings in a multitude of Northwestern student groups. His rendition of PSY’s “Gangnam Style” is a clever split-screen onetake. Ahn indeed expands his repertoire with every upload, but the variety comes with a ton of work. He usually has to cram the entire process into one weekend. “Most of my videos are kind of spontaneous,” he says. He describes how he often picks a song, practices and records it that same day, and then conceives of and records the video production the following day. “I never really plan that much. It just kind of comes, right?” Communication senior Kevin Kim, who does videography for many of Ahn’s videos, says the whole process is very autonomous. “I’m there to help him create, but

he’s doing most of it on his own,” he says. “It’s kind of cool. It’s almost a one-man process for him. It’s a lot to do. I respect him for that.” This intense care seems to have paid off for the Internet star. Ahn’s channel is growing at a steady rate. He broke the 500,000-subscriber mark just a few weeks into this past Fall Quarter, and during his senior year he’s added more than 50,000 subscribers and racked up more than 7 million individual views. His most popular video, a cover of “Let It Go,” has more than 3.8 million views, and his videos garner an average of about 587,000 hits apiece. He’s crushing it. But this success comes with a plan. It’s all preparation for the future. “After I graduate, I think I’m going to full-time work on YouTube,” he says. “Right now, because of school, I haven’t been able to really achieve what I’ve wanted to do on YouTube, videowise. I just didn’t have the time and resources. But once I graduate I’m definitely going to have more time.” He goes on. “Short-term goals: I just want to continue my YouTube. Build it up a little more, build my audience more, and then start incorporating my own film work into the channel, because there’s already viewers. I think I’m going to cross over at some point.” With this crossover, however, might come a cold reality: Jun Sung Ahn might have to leave YouTube. The website’s landscape is changing. Copyright restrictions are more stringent than ever, and the covers that have been Ahn’s

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of ‘semi-fame’ status is meeting people that know me before [they meet me], and they have preconceived notions of me,” he says. “My junior year, the people that I met, most of them already knew me when I first got to meet them. A lot of them came up to me and told me, ‘Wow, you’re a lot different than what I thought you’d be.’ A lot of people thought I was super cocky, and they thought YouTube was my entire life. That’s something I struggled with a lot in college.” This echoes the idea of Ahn carrying this image with him, one of the nice, quiet, nerdy Asian kid. The image conjures comments like Vesko Varbanov’s on his “I Dreamed A Dream” cover: “OMG I have a total crush on Jun Sung... he’s so sweeeet and so talented. AWESOME!!!” - Vesko Varbanov Or this one from Meaghanne Mack on his rendition of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball”:

HOT ‘AHN’D COLD Ahn recounts the frigid shoot of the most popular video on his YouTube channel. Ask Jun Sung Ahn what word would define his Northwestern experience, and he’d say, “Frozen.” Makes sense. It’s the most-viewed video on his YouTube channel, with over 3.8 million hits, but Ahn cites the filmmaking process as being particularly memorable. “We wanted to film at the Lakefill for the entire video. That was the second-coldest day that winter. Kevin Kim—he filmed for me—he pretty much died. My violin cracked because it was too cold, and I actually got frostbite on my hand. We stopped halfway through, took refuge in Norris, and then took it in the ice rink afterwards. [Kim] was shaking so much with the camera, which is why there’s bits of Frozen cut into it. No one knows that! People think it was intentional.” Kim calls the shoot a “pretty wack experience.” “We couldn’t wear gloves. Our hands were freezing,” Kim says. “It was bitter cold. It was not a fun experience, I have to say.”

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Stills from his video “Disney’s Frozen ‘Let It Go’”

bread and butter for the past four years are no longer bringing in money. “YouTube’s not so free anymore,” he says. “It’s not for everyone anymore. The bar just keeps getting higher and higher. Five years ago, it was cell phone videos, but now it’s heavy production stuff.” That means, of course, that the man who started with one camera and one take needs to go bigger. Ahn describes a video idea he has where he squares off in a violin duel against another musician. The two play back and forth, but instead of just a song emerging from their instruments, they’re able to fire lasers at each other. Graphics, visual effects—these are what Ahn wants to do now. “If that’s done well, it’s going to go viral,” he says. “So I kind of want to start doing that, but at the same time I kind of want to stay at my roots. I’m in a dilemma right now. You caught me at a struggle-time.” Hold on a second. A struggletime? Is that a thing when you’re an Internet star? It seems to be so, but it also seems to go beyond the crossroads between YouTube and film. This struggle-time has extended into Ahn’s personal life, affecting his relationships at NU. “One thing that I don’t really like about YouTube and this kind

“Anyone else get the feels when he looks straight at the camera? Like he is sharing his emotions with us through the screen??” - Meaghanne Mack This is the image that Jun Sung Ahn carries with him. This is the image that he’s trying to replace. “I’m 10 times weirder than [people on YouTube] think I am,” he says. “There’s an expression in Korean, ‘You’re craziness.’ I’m just craziness.” Ahn lists his fandoms as evidence of his craziness. “I’m a huge [Lord of the Rings] fan. That’s the number-one movie in my life,” Ahn says. “I love Pillow Pets—have a crap ton of them at my house. I don’t know, I’m just weird.” But that’s not all that troubles Jun Sung Ahn. Beyond his selfprescribed weirdness, the YouTube star claims that, well, he’s sort of awkward. “Actually, though,” he says. “An awkward, sometimes nerdy, Korean Asian kid who can play the violin pretty well.” He recalls an instance from one of his classes just a week earlier. “In my econ class last week, someone came up to me and asked me for a signature, and asked me for a picture, but that was pretty awkward,” he says. “That was in front of all my friends, and they were just laughing.”

Ahn’s world is one of constant recognition and catching up. Most encounters he has with peers put him at a disadvantage: He doesn’t know much about them, but they know a ton about him. He has to gain ground, reach that same level of familiarity and pull himself up to that social plane. The Northwestern RTVF community posed itself as a particularly challenging environment. “Now, I look back. I look at my senior class. I know everyone—kind of—but I’m definitely not in the ‘in group’ with the film majors, when I wish I was,” Ahn says. “I’m either doing school, dancing or YouTube, and film didn’t have a place in there. It’s just so time-consuming. You decide to do one set and it’s two weekends out of your quarter.” He hesitates. “I know if I had spent more time with them I would’ve definitely learned a lot.” Perhaps the situation was almost unfair to Ahn. When he came to Northwestern from New Jersey, his environment was one of extreme novelty. He wasn’t used to being independent. He wasn’t used to doing things alone. “Coming here, I was just thrown,” he says. “At home, I think I depended on my family quite a lot. I think it’s just my personality.

I didn’t know what to do. I had to struggle through everything on my own. Even film, I didn’t have time to build that community, so even going through my major it was kind of a struggle. I went to classes, I kind of knew people there, but I couldn’t really feel comfortable in that home, so I just had to crawl through everything.” At this point, it seems natural to recall how he stopped this interview, how he confessed that he’s struggling, how he says he’s bad with people. This comment hangs briefly. But then something in Ahn’s face seems to shift. He reconsiders. He speaks again. “But, freshman year, if this happened, I probably would’ve said about one-fourth of what I said today .... I think even though I wasn’t at the status I am right now, I think it got to my head a little more back then. I wasn’t being openly arrogant about something, but I would definitely watch what I say. I would be more careful— not myself—which is why I think it made it a little harder for me to really open up and have people get to know me.” The truth is, Ahn feels like most of his encounters at Northwestern involved himself having to reach

through a screen. That was challenging for him, but it also indicates a lack of effort from the other side. Most of his audience just holds him at arm’s length, but reaching who this man is requires delving past the glossy, silverscreened surface. For those who do, a different person emerges. “When I first started working with him, he wasn’t too big, as he is now,” said Kim. “I feel like I’ve worked with him for so long that I don’t have the conceptions that most people have of him.” Even Ahn notices when people treat him differently, when people treat him, well, normally. “My friends back home, they love making fun of my YouTube channel,” he says. “On some of my videos, if you look closely, there’s usually a stream of comments at one point where it’s all my high school friends just saying crap about me.” He laughs. Now, as a senior, the man who says he had to “crawl through everything” can look back and take it all in, from the very first video the summer before his freshman year, all the way to filming his “Shake It Off” cover with a range of NU student groups. Ahn sees that shy, uncomfortable person he was, and he considers his arc. He

recalls something his parents told him when he was just a kid. “You have to leave an impact, right? My parents always stressed this, that once I graduate, I can’t just be another person who graduated. They said that to me when I was pretty young,” he says. “That really hit me. That was my biggest stress and paranoia when I came to college was, ‘How am I going to leave my impact here?’ I just always want to know: Did I do a good job? Did I leave an impact? Did I leave a footprint at Northwestern? I don’t know. That’s just a theoretical question.” There’s silence for a while. “Do you know how you would answer it?” I ask. “No. That’s the thing. That’s a question I just want to throw out there. I always ask myself that, and I don’t know if I did or not.” Another stretch of silence. Ahn looks down and away. “What would be your ideal answer?” Jun Sung Ahn looks up again. This time, his gaze holds firm. This time, he speaks with confidence. “I did enough. That would be my best answer, the answer I want to give.”

AHN’S BIGGEST FAN After opening a surprise gift, Ahn finds a treasure trove of personalized items. “Well, surprisingly I haven’t gotten super weird, like creepy stuff. But, the best gift I’ve gotten was on my birthday. “I got this giant box from Singapore, and I was like ‘What is this?’ but then I read the name, and I know that name because she posts on every single thing on my Facebook, right? Likes everything. Everything I tweet is retweeted in ten seconds. I could safely say she was my number one fan, right? And she sent me this box. “First of all, there were two giant

stuffed animals, really nice. A Pillow Pet because I like Pillow Pets. A couple t-shirts—custom-designed t-shirts— and there was an Armani watch. “And then this photo book, that showed the life span of my YouTube, beginning to end. And it was so wellmade. The beginning was a play button, right? Like, ‘click play to begin,’ and flip over and it was the first video, and she just commented what she thought on that day. Almost every single video—all in that book. That was shocking.”

Find all of Jun Sung Ahn’s work at or

winter 2015 | 49

50 |




STUDENT MUSICIANS PLAY all kinds of music, but their artistic styles don’t always align with their listening preferences. The playlists of these musical Wildcats vary as much as their skillsets. continued


winter 2015 | 51


Alyssa Giannetti

Michael Martinez

Jon Kemp

Voice major, aspiring opera singer and music teacher, member of the a capella group THUNK

DJ at Streetbeat and founder of Don’t Only Just Observe (DOJO), an organization that looks to foster the hip-hop community at Northwestern and abroad

Drummer for the Northwestern marching band and member of Purple Band

Favorite songs: 1.

“Suit and Tie” Justin Timberlake


“Colder Weather” Zac Brown Band


“Drunk in Love” Beyoncé

“When people don’t like Beyoncé, we can’t be friends. It’s not even possible. Beyoncé always.”

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McCormick sophomore Michael Martinez loves the song “One More Time” by Daft Punk. It was the song playing on radio z100 when he was a kid in a car driving through Times Square. Whenever he hears the song, the memory of those city lights and signs comes back to him.

Favorite songs: 1.

“Achilles Last Stand” The Killers


“Adorn” Miguel


“Family Business” Kanye West

“I have a deep love for all things hip-hop and R&B. These music styles were very prominent in the New York City metro area, which is around where I grew up.”

SESP sophomore Jon Kemp still remembers how the crowd erupted behind him when he was conducting his high school marching band and it reached the climax of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. Music has always been “freeing” for Kemp. And if he’s listening to it, it’s more likely to be indie, alternative rock or hip-hop.

Favorite songs: 1.

“All These Things That I’ve Done” The Killers


“Montezuma” Fleet Foxes


“Isaac” Bear’s Den

“I really like “All These Things That I’ve Done” because the lyrics are intentionally vague enough that they can be easily applicable to a lot of people and situations, but it also speaks about the difficulty and struggle of trying to make your own way in life.”

Photos by Jeremy Gaines and Sean Magner

For Bienen junior Alyssa Gianetti, getting the lead role in The Phantom of the Opera her senior year of high school changed her plan of becoming a college swimmer. Nowadays, she’s prepping for her role as Rose in the upcoming production of Ruddigore. She mostly leaves opera in the classroom and on stage, though, listening to anything from country to R&B on her own time.

Masterpieces in the Margins Art Theory and Practice Professor Allison Wade critiques fine doodles as fine art. BY N I C K G A R B AT Y

Whether it’s a few spirals alongside notes on Waterloo, a school of goldfish swimming toward your supply and demand graph or a snake digesting an elephant in a free energy diagram, doodles can spice up any page of lecture notes. But what if those stick-people were more than just college-ruled scribbles?



Professor’s take: “They’re happening within the text themselves. So the images are starting to pop up sort of in the middles of the page. I kinda like that one with the snake eating the elephant. I have no idea what’s happening above or below it but there’s something kinda compelling about that.”



Professor’s take: “It’s interesting since they’re drawn from various points of view. You’ve got the bird’s eye view of the pizza you’ve got the more straight-on view of some of the other elements. The looseness with which these are drawn is compelling.”



Professor’s take: “A lot of them are really figurative, instead of being more shapes or patterns. Obviously she’s interested in people and faces and expressions. I think some people tend to shy away from drawing faces while other people are really drawn to that. They’re so familiar with what a face should look like.”



Professor’s take: “That balloon is responding to the hole in the paper or somehow referring to that volume. That margin is acting as a starting point of a frame for the doodles that are happening. Usually if people are considered doodling while some other activity is taking place, a lot of times it seems like they are inspired by something that is going on physically on the page.” winter 2015 | 53


BAGOLOGY 101 We dissect the anatomy of student bags. BY N O R T H B Y N ORTH WESTERN PH O T O S TA FF

KIRRA SILVER Communication junior Theater Major

KITTIE COOPER Bienen sophomore Classical Guitar Performance Major General Music Education Major English Minor

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PAUL SALAMANCA Weinberg freshman Mathematics Major

winter 2015 | 55


ENCYCLO-TEA-DIA TAPIOCA Tapioca-filled Taiwanese drinks not your area of exper-teas? No problem. BY LUCY We’ve compiled a glossary of bubble tea-related drinks and toppings. WANG

SMOOTHIES/SLUSHES/FREEZES — Ice-blended drinks that are sweeter than teas and come in fruity or chocolatey flavors. TEA — Watery, milky and sweet, with options ranging from classics like black and green to more sophisticated options like golden oolong, a traditional Chinese tea, matcha, a sweet, powdered green tea and white gourd, a Southeast Asian fruit tea. Teas can be served both hot and cold. TAPIOCA/BOBA/BUBBLES/PEARLS —

Chewy spheres with a faint, sugary aftertaste. They’re lumpy but smooth, springy but soft, gooey but sleek. Nevermind. There are no words that do tapioca justice.

POPPING BOBA — Juice-filled spheres that burst when chewed. Think Fruit Gushers, but colder and not as valuable to trade and barter at recess. MINI PEARLS —

Same as tapioca, but smaller and with a beadier texture.


Sweet, gelatinous cubes with the texture of Jell-O and the consistency of something artificially yet delectably chewy. Flavors include herbal, lychee and mango. P h oto s by Mic hae l Now akow sk i Ar t by Ale xis O ’Con no r

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Uber Tales, Uber Fails Wildcats dish on their wild rides. B Y ELI Z A B E T H S AN TORO


rom late nights at the Deuce to just getting across town, Uber has been a lifeline for Northwestern students. Unsurprisingly, a few oddball stories get thrown in the batch of Uber requests.

The following transcripts have been edited for length and clarity.


As told by William Xiao, McCormick sophomore

I’M COMING BACK to campus after break. The thing is, Uber can’t technically pick up at the airport, so I set the pin a little ways off and call the driver to come. He says, “Oh yeah, I’ll be right there,” but he keeps trying to go to the address on the pin, and I keep trying to explain to him that I’m at the airport and he can pick me up at Terminal 2. Finally, 45 minutes after I first call the ride, he shows up at O’Hare Terminal 2. I get in the car and he’s apologizing profusely: “I’m so sorry. I’ve only been in Chicago three days.” O’Hare has these rumble strips. Every time he goes over them, he brakes. I try to explain to him that it’s not your car, just these strips on the ground. I think he understands me, but then we go over another one and he does the same thing. On the highway, he gets a phone call and says, “Oh, let me take this.” We are in an exit-only lane, and he mistakenly takes the exit. Once he realizes that, he decides we need to get back on the expressway. Then he just goes for it. He just crosses [the road over the white cross-hatch marks] and we’re back on the highway, but it’s still an exit-only lane and he’s still on the phone. He takes the next exit also and does the same maneuver. Eventually we get off the highway and I’m feeling a little better. We finally get back on campus, but I live all the way up north. Instead of having him drive more, I tell him to drop me in the Allison parking lot. In the end, I sort of feel bad for the guy and end up giving him four stars. Maybe he’ll get better.


As told by Gina Lupica, Communication sophomore

It’s very early, and I need to get home from north campus. I only need to go a couple blocks, but because I’m not dressed properly, I call an Uber. My boyfriend and I go outside to the Sargent parking lot. I see an unmarked car, and he’s just waiting there. It looks like he’s waiting for someone, so I open the back door. I say, “Hi, are you the Uber?” He just mumbles, “Yes,” so I get in, my boyfriend gets in, and then we shut the door and drive two minutes. We get out and I say, “Thank

you so much.” He sits there for a minute, but I just close the door and go inside the house. Then as soon as I go inside, I get a phone call from an unknown number. I pick it up and it’s the real Uber driver saying, “Okay, I’m here. Where are you?” I say, “Oh my god, I already got in a car. I thought it was you.” He freaks out at me and starts yelling, “I drove all the way up here. Why did you get into another car? I’m here. I’m going to drive around and charge you money

because you wasted my time. You wasted gas.” I say, “Well, I’m sorry there was a car there and you weren’t there and he was. I’m sorry. It was a mistake, but fine, go ahead and charge me if you want to do that.” So I hang up and I get a receipt five minutes later. He circles the parking lot twice. It’s a $2 charge for this Uber drive I never got. Then I realize that the other guy who took me home had no way of charging me, so that ride was technically free. I don’t know who the mysterious Uber driver was.

Il lu str atio n by Vasil iki Val ka nas

2 DRIVERS + 1 ACCIDENT = HOME As told by Francisco Castro, McCormick sophomore

Heading to Northwestern, we exit out of Midway but then all of a sudden, he runs over a median or something. I’m in the back seat on my phone just chilling and then all you hear is “blihhhhh, boom,” like something has hit our car. The right bumper of our car is dented in and skidding against the road.

We’re on the South Side of Chicago. He pulls off to a little neighborhood, and I just don’t feel safe at all. He spends 20 minutes fixing the car and I don’t even know what he’s doing. I look outside. There’s nothing he can do to fix it. He’s just touching it, trying to make the bumper go up.

Even though the car is still broken, we get back on the highway. Everything’s going fine, but all of a sudden you hear that sound again, the “blihhhhh.” This time we pull over to the right shoulder of the highway and then he tries to fix the bumper. I say, “Hey, I’m just gonna get a new taxi.” He says,

“Alright, fine, fine. I’ll get you a new taxi.” After calling the new taxi, we have to wait there for like 15 minutes on the right shoulder of the highway. Once the other taxi comes up, I get in. The new taxi driver drives me away at a decent speed and doesn’t try to charge me extra. It’s perfect. winter 2015 | 57

Winter 2015  

The winter 2014 issue of North by Northwestern magazine.

Winter 2015  

The winter 2014 issue of North by Northwestern magazine.