The way we love the Earth northwestern on environmentalism p. 40
managing editor-in-chief //david deloso executive editor // maya mojica managing editors // sophia lo, amy ouyang, ryan wagner assistant managing // brennen bariso, eugenia cardinale, zoe grossinger
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section editors news editor // olivia lloyd creative writing editor // gia yetikyel assistant writing editor // julie swanson features editor // cadence quaranta sports editors // shreyas iyer, jacob munoz assistant sports editor //jono zarrilli life & style editor // giovana gelhoren assistant l&s editor // melissa santoyo l&s staff writers // rebecca aizin, jacquelyne germain opinion editor // madison smith opinion staff writer // skye li entertainment editor // joan gwak assistant entertainment // bailey richards entertainment staff writers // justin curto, jayna kurlender, hannah song science & tech editor // yahan chen audio editor // prabhav jain politics editors // grace deng, gabrielle nadler photo editors // alexis lanza, karen reyes assistant photo // ika qiao video editors // lilliana castillo, cynthia zhang graphics editors // alisa gao, kylie lin interactives editor // avriana allen
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CONTRIBUTORS aliyah armstrong claire bugos annie cao jace chen shannon cohen grace deng kahlil ellis maggie galloway sylvia goodman elise hannum eva herscowitz maddie jarrad margaret kates michael korsh connor maduzia jake may jackson miller maya mojica gabrielle nadler teresa nowakowski tessa paul christine potermin gabrielle rabon daniel rosenzweig-Ziff laurisa sastoque rachel schonberger tara wu
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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Dear reader, A few short months ago, when this magazine existed only as a glimmer in our eyes, we called upon the Northwestern student community to pitch the stories it cared about most. Among many serious and absurd ideas, we received over a dozen pitches on stories about environmentalism and sustainability. So we attempted something this magazine has never done before, and created a special section to highlight some of these stories. On Environmentalism touches on the ways the Northwestern community interacts with our Earth, from physical manipulations of our campus landscape to the nostalgic connections we share with nature. One issue could never explore all the important work being done in administrative offices, in classrooms, in protests, or in late-night conversations to address climate change and its effects. With this section, we create a starting point. In these pages, you will also find pieces explaining the rise of the womenâ€™s basketball team and the reasons why Caps is the only drinking game you should play. We consider the experience of watching a friend be hospitalized and the important work of intimacy choreographers in student theater productions. Each quarter, the editorial staff guides writers in the process of transforming a nascent pitch into a fully written, checked and copy-edited story. The creative team makes photographs, illustrations and designs that bring each piece to life. The NBN corporate team works tirelessly to fund the publication of the issue you now hold. We produce this magazine on top of class work, jobs, rehearsals, meetings for other organizations and (often futile) attempts to get a healthy dose of sleep. Student journalism is a labor of love. We hope that our work informs you, entertains you and, above all, inspires you. Happy reading, Claire
08 Top of the shelf 10 RE: Sobriety 12 The real housemoms of Northwestern
Top of the shelf Assigned readings that will make you want to hit the books.
WRITTEN BY ALIYAH ARMSTRONG // DESIGNED AND ILLUSTRATED BY CHLOE COHEN
fter spending hours staring at online articles and the hundreds of pages of assigned reading each quarter, Northwestern classes can sometimes take the joy out of reading. However, mandatory readings don’t have to be boring. Five students shared the most enjoyable books they’ve read for a class. Warning: spoilers ahead. *Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.
THE BLUEST EYE BY TONI MORRISON Brittany Henry, neuroscience major Class: Introduction to Fiction Synopsis: This book deals with racism and colorism. The main character, a girl growing up after the Great Depression, is labeled ugly because of her dark skin and her mannerisms. On an impactful passage: In the ending, Pecola talks about having the blue eyes she wanted, and it is a metaphor for her losing her mind while chasing a version of whiteness that she’ll never be able to obtain.
Her internalized anti-Blackness, self-hatred and issues at home come together to represent her having blue eyes. Why someone should read it: It talks about issues within the Black community that are still important today. Also, you get to read Toni Morrison, who is a literary genius. I really liked the way she captured how Black culture talks about specific traumatic issues in the way she points to an issue without explicitly naming it. Like when someone says, “Oh, I have bad nerves,” it’s skirting around someone saying they have anxiety.
WHY ARE ALL THE BLACK KIDS SITTING TOGETHER IN THE CAFETERIA? AND OTHER CONVERSATIONS ABOUT RACE BY BEVERLY DANIEL TATUM Jordan Brick, human development and psychological services major; psychology minor Class: Developmental Psychology; Human Development: Adulthood and Aging Synopsis: This book deals with how students connect with peers who have the same racial identity and educational experiences as a way of affirming their own identity. On an impactful passage: Most of the book is about Black students, but there was one chapter about
8 | Winter 2020
multiracial students, which I related to because of my identity. It was about how those students find it hard to find just one racial group they can relate to in schools and how often one group says, “Oh, you’re not Black enough. You’re not white enough.” Why someone should read it: Anybody can learn a lot from it, no matter how much you already know about racial identity or teenage development. It’s not just about Black kids. It’s about kids of all different races and different types of schools.
Arudi Masinjila, journalism and legal studies double major; anthropology minor Class: Porous Borders: Geography, Power and Tactics of Movement Synopsis: This book chronicles the life-threatening journey of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. On an impactful passage: In one part, the ethnographer Jason De León took a photo of a dead body in the Sonoran Desert as part of his research. He was able to track down the family of the deceased lady. They’re devastated by the death of their mother, sister, friend and auntie, and because they never got to bury her, they said, “Do you have anything of her? Because you’re the last person who saw her out of all of us.” He had the picture, which had caused him so much agony and grief about what he should do with it. He showed them the picture, and that’s all they had to remember her by. That was pretty powerful. Why someone should read it: It’s the most important book about this issue you’ll read.
REMAKING A LIFE: HOW WOMEN LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS CONFRONT INEQUALITY BY CELESTE WATKINS-HAYES
Emily Pappin, journalism major; environmental policy and culture minor Class: Native American Environmental Issues and the Media Synopsis: This book examines the intersection of Western scientific values and traditional Native ecological knowledge and how the author, a Native woman pursuing a botany degree, has to navigate the two. On an impactful passage: There is one chapter where she discusses the behavioral science of salamanders in the Northeast but actually manages to make it interesting and draw a conclusion that really resonated. Why someone should read it: It’s beautifully written and grounded in Western scientific fact but also weaves in the traditional knowledge and the author’s experience as a Native woman in an engaging and beautiful way. Because each section ends with a lesson, you’ll find something in one of the sections you’re really going to like.
THE LAND OF OPEN GRAVES: LIVING AND DYING ON THE MIGRANT TRAIL BY JASON DE LEÓN
BRAIDING SWEETGRASS: INDIGENOUS WISDOM, SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE AND THE TEACHINGS OF PLANTS BY ROBIN WALL KIMMERER
Top of the shelf | PREGAME
Maya Glenn, gender and sexuality studies major; sociology minor Class: Theorizing Black Genders and Sexualities Synopsis: This book talks about the limitations Black women with HIV experience, and how women who have the diagnosis can make progress in their own lives. On an impactful passage: The book opens with a line from a woman who says, “If it wasn’t for HIV, I’d probably be dead.” The whole book is dedicated to unpacking that sentence. It really stuck with me because it made me wonder why someone would think this, especially when there was even more stigma when this woman was diagnosed than there is with the disease now. Why someone should read it: For people interested in activism or people trying to figure out how to relate to this country that is rife with inequality, it’s very real about the inequality and its impact on people, while also pointing out ways to make progress without having to destroy the world.
Winter 2020 | 9
Northwestern students share their thoughts on being sober. DESIGNED AND ILLUSTRATED BY EMMA ESTBERG
y name is Kahlil, and I am weed-dependent. I have always been one to seek more in life, from grades to money to relationships. I am always itching to achieve the next best thing, my mind racing toward the best idea. My methods of dealing with this inner sprint have never been healthy, and are even toxic at times. It wasn’t until the beginning of my freshman year, when I was introduced to the North Campus social scene, that my coping methods progressed beyond my control. I stand by drugs, given the setting, as a way to expedite your self-exploration. They can give you the push to investigate your surroundings and what makes you tick. It took me until midway through job hunting this past November to figure out how
weed affected me. I suffered an anxiety attack while smoking weed, triggered by the weight of pressure from my upcoming application deadlines and interviews. Since then, I have limited my intake. I have been on an active journey of tending to my health, and while it has been a challenging path, it is one I hope to stick to. As a senior, I’m fortunate to be learning to love and be gentle with myself, to roll with the punches and embrace life for what it is: full of changes and surprises. Sobriety is one of the mechanisms that has led me in this marathon. I find myself spending less time running from my problems and challenges and more time actively tending to them. I’m done sprinting.
WRITTEN BY KAHLIL ELLIS
10 | Winter 2020
RE: Sobriety | PREGAME
randpa’s glasses are sprinkled with whiskey. It used to be his best friend. At the town bar his afternoons he spent, coming home past midnight to a tired wife, to her kids she devoted her life. Now Grandpa’s legs tremble when he climbs upstairs, and his saggy eyes with the dog he shares. When he falls, only Grandma can lift him from the floor, and she says the smell of whiskey brings her back to before. Now he walks the clouds of sobriety, and I walk the tombstones of truth, because I can’t deny the liquid fatality, that smeared the joy of my mother’s youth. The thumps and hums coming out of a door leaking light at midnight remind me of you, but I must stay away to stay true.
t’s not my place to challenge whether they were dealing with obstacles, whether drinking filled a void nothing else could, whether inebriation would produce feeling where there wasn’t any. I’ll never understand my exclusive disinvitation to parties, why I was the one who picked up the broken pieces in their aftermath, why I used those pieces as mirrors for self-reflection, why I chose not to partake while my friends were out drinking their pains away. I can only imagine that I have yet to see the worst of me — being under the influence would bring that out. I’ve seen it already — using alleviation of our own pain as justification for inflicting pain on someone else. We’re all too wrapped up in our own suffering to clearly see that of the people around us. That fact corrupts our perceptions more than the bottom of a brown glass bottle ever will. WRITTEN BY JACE CHEN
Grandpa, are you different without whiskey? I guess I never knew you. Nice to meet you, fellow victim of sobriety. WRITTEN BY LAURISA SASTOQUE
Winter 2020 | 11
The real housemoms | PREGAME
Real Housemoms OF NORTHWESTERN House directors open up about making a sorority house a sorority home. WRITTEN BY TESSA PAUL // DESIGNED BY AGNES LEE
ovies often depict sorority life as a world of gossip sessions and chaotic slumber parties, but one unseen member of the system is crucial to the function of the house. Behind the scenes, house directors keep the show running. Employed by sororities and fraternities, house directors supervise staff, manage the building and communicate with the University. The house director manages the building while being a supportive, friendly face around the house. Jody Springer, Delta Delta Delta
“I told my sons that I was interviewing for a house mom job, and they said, ‘Oh, mom, a house mom. All they do is sit in their room and watch TV and knit,’” Jody Springer, the house director at Delta Delta Delta, says. “And I told them at the time, ‘I can learn to knit!’” To relax, many house directors devote themselves to activities outside of their jobs. “I think the girls are more interested in having a relationship with you if you have more to talk about than the paper towels being full or the toilet paper being ordered,” Springer says. Some house directors applied to the job by chance and were particularly drawn to the free housing and food. Trish Swanson, the house director at Gamma Phi Beta, traveled around the world teaching English for many years. After tiring of teaching, she answered a Craigslist ad to be facilities director of a house of ballet dancers, starting her on her current career path. The position used to be titled “house mom,” but Springer says her sorority is working to officially change the name to “house director” given the evolution in duties of the role. House moms in the past taught girls how to be more “ladylike” and how to socialize. Today’s house director is in charge of supervising the building’s facilities while being a supportive guide through stressful moments. “Around finals and midterms, you can just sense the tension in the air,”
Patricia (Trish) Swanson, Gamma Phi Beta PHOTOGRAPHED BY NIKITA AMIR
Swanson says. “The chef and I put on a holiday dinner for [the girls] and we have their favorite foods and a raffle drawing for prizes.” The house director can hold spontaneous events for the girls to feel more comfortable and relaxed but also plan events that require more organization. These include alumni reunion events, like homecoming weekend and Founders’ Day celebrations. A crucial element of the role is interacting with the sorority members they live with. New girls move into the house each year, challenging the house director to establish unique connections with each new batch. “Every year you have different girls in the house, and so the house has a different personality,” Springer says. “You have to adapt to that new personality.”
DANCE FLOOR 14 16 19 21 24 26 28
Sex and the Searle ARTiST Shape up, SPAC Broadway bound(aries) Around the Block Locked N Joint resolution
S E X AND THE
SEARLE Navigating sexual and reproductive health at NU. WRITTEN BY ELISE HANNUM // DESIGNED BY AGNES LEE
14 | Winter 2020
hen sex for Molly* began to feel painful, she wanted to figure out what was wrong, so she made an appointment with Northwestern Health Service in Searle Hall to get it checked out. They tested her for a yeast infection, and told her they would call with the results. Instead, they called her mom, who didn’t know she was sexually active. Luckily, the call only said her test results were ready, and Molly talked her way out of the situation. She was still “pretty mad,” though, and has not returned to Northwestern Health Service for a sexual health-related issue since. Northwestern Health Service tends to be the most convenient resource students have for sexual health in Evanston; other clinics can feel inaccessible. The nearest Howard Brown Health center is about 5 miles away, (a 40-minute train ride), and the nearest Planned Parenthood is farther still, on the southern end of Rogers Park. Students may also seek out Northwestern Medicine Immediate Care Evanston for one-time help, but not necessarily longterm sexual health care. Yet care at Searle requires an appointment and can be pricey. Sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing for any one disease can run up to $60, depending on insurance and the disease for which a student is tested. Dr. Robert Palinkas, the Executive Director of the Health Service on the Evanston campus, emphasized the importance of offering sexual health resources on campus. Testing for STIs, as well as HIV and pregnancy prevention, are some of the most common reasons students seek out care. “We work hard to be nonjudgmental, empathetic, affirmative and knowledgeable about resources,” Palinkas wrote in an email. Though second-year Nina Kritikos was disappointed that she had to pay $30 for STI testing at Searle, she felt the experience was fine. “The doctor went through almost a half hour describing all the different diseases and all the different symptoms,” Kritikos says. “They were really going through everything and trying to get me to understand it and be comfortable, which was good.”
Sex and the Searle | DANCE FLOOR For students who can’t afford to pay for testing or don’t wish to make an appointment with Searle, Howard Brown Health Center offers free STI and HIV testing at the Evanston Public Library on the second Monday of each month. The Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators (SHAPE), a student volunteer group aimed at encouraging health sexual behavior and relationships, also hosted free testing on campus this quarter through the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “We’re excited about it,” says Sam Berston, the director of SHAPE. “It’s pretty rare that there’s free STI screening on campus. Since I’ve been at Northwestern, I don’t think I’ve heard of any happening.” SHAPE also hosts the “G-Spot” on Fridays in Norris, where two SHAPE members set up a table (or a gazebo, if the weather is nice) to answer questions and give out condoms, lubricant and informational pamphlets. Berston says a lot of people come, take items and occasionally ask questions. All of these events take place informally through SHAPE’s capacity as a student organization, with little collaboration with the University. The only formal event is a True Northwestern Dialogue during Wildcat Welcome. Another student, Brooke*, also stopped seeking out sexual health care through Northwestern Health Service after an uncomfortable experience at a consultation appointment for an intrauterine device (IUD). She was told she didn’t need one because she had a long-distance boyfriend. After getting one over the summer, she returned to Searle for a check-up and felt similarly uneasy. Despite those incidents, she still goes to Searle for more general things, like when she’s feeling sick. “I had a lot of issues last year. I was constantly sick. They were always super understanding whenever I went for that,” Brooke says. “But every time I’ve gone in for sexual health, I’ve had such weird and uncomfortable experiences.” Molly ended up having more success with offcampus sexual health resources. She went to the urgent care in Evanston for a urinary tract infection when Searle was closed and found it to be a good alternative. She also went to Planned Parenthood for contraceptive care, which she used to get through Northwestern Health Service. Molly says she found Planned Parenthood of Illinois on her own, and participated in its Access Birth Control (ABC) initiative. The program provides free birth control to patients with problems with insurance, payment or confidentiality. While sexual health care can be uncomfortable by nature, she says, Planned Parenthood went to the extra lengths to make sure she was okay at every step. She may have had to go a little further to get the care she wanted, but it was worth it when she did. *Names changed to protect students’ privacy.
SEXUAL HEALTH RESOURCES Northwestern Medicine Immediate Care Evanston 1704 Maple Ave Suite 100 - (312) 694-2273 Howard Brown Health Clark 6500 N Clark St - (773) 388-1600 Evanston Public Library - 1703 Orrington Ave - (847) 448-8600 Planned Parenthood - Rogers Park Health Center - 5725 N Broadway - (773) 942-7193
INSPIRED BY IDENTITY, STUDENTS CREATE ART TRUE TO THEIR CORE. WRITTEN BY JACKSON MILLER // DESIGNED BY MAREN KRANKING
16 | Winter 2020
PHOTOGRAPHED BY NIKITA AMIR
ne night in February, Sofía Stutz rapped her song “Canyengue.” The title is a reference to a subgenre of tango popular in Argentina, where she emigrated from at age two. Stutz flaunted her vocal agility as she launched from her track’s relaxed, English opening into a tongue-twisting, rapid-fire Spanish verse. “Canyengue, lo tengo, te quemo Soy chica de hierro Canyengue, lo tengo, te quemo con chispas de mi fuego” Half an hour earlier, Stutz whispered to her twin sister, Carolina, that her nervousness had subsided. She wasn’t lying. The crowd in Willard B72, the location of that night’s open mic, couldn’t contain her fire.
She controlled the space, advancing toward the audience. She discreetly emphasized certain lyrics, revealing a connection to the song that only its writer could have. Her swaying arms and hips demonstrated an affinity for rhythm just as much as her lyrics. Hip movement drives Canyengue, Stutz explained in an introduction to her piece. She likened it to a “female” swagger — credible analysis coming from someone with so much of it. Stutz explained the song sought to defy the view that intelligence and sensuality are mutually exclusive. This reconciliation of seemingly distant concepts isn’t rare in Stutz’s work. Rather than music or theater, she’s studying philosophy, and though
iST and Muzak and re-appropriates it into a way that shows, ‘Hey, this is the bright future we were promised but never got,’” he says. The term itself comes from “vaporware,” a kind of software advertised but not yet released by developers. He connects this theme of failed potential to his music’s increasing focus on mental health.
The song, “Why Am I Still Here,” from his album Exorcism As A Radical Form Of Self Care, features Rhoad asking the titular question. Rhoad also makes music in numerous other genres, both electronic and more traditional, with less of a focus on sampling. In a series of digital drawings depicting a frog in a robotic society, Bill
she’s part of the dance group Dale Duro, she’s largely absent from organizations most associated with student performers. Stutz and other student artists that operate outside of Northwestern’s numerous a cappella groups, school orchestras and art collectives guide their work toward something uniquely personal. As she discusses in her song, “Wordsmith,” language and wordplay fascinate Stutz. Rapping in Spanish also solidifies and legitimizes Stutz’s identity as an Argentinian immigrant, she says. “I think Spanish is built for poetry. Things that sound really corny in English do not sound that corny in Spanish,” she says. Stutz references the line “Me derrito internamente / Tu mente me embelesa” from her song, “Nostalgias.” This translates to “I melt internally / Your mind enchants me.” RTVF third-year Charlie Rhoad also uses music as a reflection of himself, reframing music’s effect through the heavy use of sampling common in vaporwave, an electronic music genre. “[Vaporwave] ironically takes a lot from ’80s TV ads and corporate marketing
ARTiST | DANCE FLOOR
Winter 2020 | 17
DANCE FLOOR | ARTiST
Yen connects to his own immigrant identity. Like Stutz, who came to the U.S. at age two, Yen emigrated from Taiwan around the fourth grade. “Frogs can’t always be in the water but also can’t only stay on land. They have to transition between two very distinct places, and that’s kind of how I felt when I first came to America,” says Yen, a first-year environmental engineering student. Along with learning English, Yen continuously immersed himself in American culture, eager to try sports and foods more popular in America. In a later drawing series, Yen illustrates a frog “just being himself.” He says it represents the end of his transition to America. “Now, I don’t really care if people don’t think I’m necessarily just as American as them. I can just do what I want,” he says. Stutz carries a similar boldness. In “G.A.W. (Grown Ass Woman),” she writes, “The power that I wield / In my hips, in my lips / In my brain, in my wit / You ain’t never gettin’ this / Like Bootylicious / Can you handle this? / Hm, I don’t know if you can.” Her stage name is Audax the Damsel – audax meaning “bold” in Latin. “This is not the only time I’m able to be bold, but I think it’s a vehicle to express that even more and to amplify that and magnify that more,” she says. To support her independence as a rapper, Stutz makes her cover art herself (though she sometimes uses art or photography from others), so she doesn’t have to wait on somebody
18 | Winter 2020
else before releasing a track. Rhoad also prizes independence. He creates each of his track’s instrumentals and records, writes and produces his songs. He also taught himself much of his guitar, bass guitar and audio software skills. This independence is a reaction to his childhood in Ohio. “It totally does reflect a lot about me in that I grew up so claustrophobic in the Cincinnati suburbs where I came from,” he says. Rhoad’s hometown is politically conservative, he explains. This manifests in smaller ways, like Rhoad’s parents’ emphasis on stability over adventure and in the “toxic masculinity” that discouraged him from opening up. As he’s become more vulnerable,
his parents have been supportive, but having conversations about topics such as mental health still feel awkward. Stutz, too, writes about transitioning to college, such as in “Seasons” and “The Kaplan Rap,” referencing the four-course Kaplan Humanities Scholars Program. Yen explains that, in college, his frog motif represents him less as an immigrant, and more as a person navigating various interests and social groups. His outlook on art has changed as well. “I’m starting to realize that drawing isn’t so much about translating what you have here,” he says, pointing to his eye. “It’s more transferring what you have here,” he says, pointing to his heart.
Shape up, SPAC | DANCE FLOOR
Despite pervasive norms, womxn find empowerment through weightlifting. WRITTEN BY GABRIELLE NADLER // DESIGNED BY CHLOE COHEN
*Editor’s Note: The writer chose to use the spelling womxn to be more inclusive of all identities. pon entering the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion (SPAC), the first thing a gym-goer sees is racks of iron and row upon row of massive machinery behind giant glass doors. The weight room contains no cardio machines, no yoga mats, no exercise balls, and few womxn use it. Here, the gym tends to be mostly occupied by male athletes pushing themselves to their limits, according to Weinberg first-year Ciara Rampolla. The competitive energy, she says, is intimidating. “I feel like people are judging you if you’re using smaller weights,” Rampolla says. “I prefer going to the top floor. It’s just less stressful.” In the world of strength training, gender divides are especially evident. At SPAC, Northwestern’s main athletic center, the weight room remains a predominantly male space that relatively few womxn venture into, say first-year Benjamin Bade and secondyear Rhiannon O’Berry, who lift there regularly. According to a 2018 study from the International Journal of Exercise Science, only 20 percent of women surveyed from a large public university participated in strength training two or more times per week. While there are no specific statistics on the demographics in SPAC’s weight room, both O’Berry and Bade estimate that, on an average day, about one-third of the people lifting in SPAC are womxn. Because weight rooms tend to be so male-dominated, womxn who choose to go may be more susceptible to misogyny and mistreatment. O’Berry says she has received “weird looks” from men. Especially when she converses with men about lifting, she says, “there’s a lot of mansplaining that occurs.” Amie Simmons, the assistant director of fitness and wellness at SPAC, says young females in high school gym classes and on sports teams are not encouraged to strength train in the same way young male athletes are. This difference in teaching tends to stay with people when they go on to college.
Feminine beauty standards can also play a role in womxn’s avoidance of the weight room. O’Berry, who started weightlifting in high school, says that upon coming to Northwestern, she had a difficult time convincing friends to try lifting with her. She heard the same reasoning over and over again. “One of the main stereotypes in weightlifting is — for women — it’s going to make them super buff and manly,” O’Berry says. For many womxn she spoke with about lifting, a large deterrent from participating is what men would think of them. They wonder whether men can handle
PHOTOGRAPHED BY CARLY MENKER
it doesn’t really feel like a workout,” Rampolla says. “Doing anything with friends usually makes it better.” It is this group environment that provides Rampolla with the motivation she needs to get to the gym. O’Berry recognizes the power of group motivation, so she started a weightlifting group of 15 womxn who train together regularly in SPAC’s weight room. Almost all of them were entirely new to the sport. “I could see they were all really nervous coming into the gym about it, but I think being in a group made them more confident,” O’Berry says. Over time, the womxn in the class became strong, capable weightlifters, some even going on to teach others what they’d learned about lifting.
CHANGING THE NARRATIVE
the fact that they like to be strong too. An exboyfriend once told O’Berry she was getting “too muscular to be attractive.” She still pushes through the stigma and continues to do what she loves, but understands that many feel discouraged by these misogynistic attitudes. “I feel like women’s athleticism is all too wrapped up in the male gaze,” she says.
MAKING THE MOST OF SPAC The weight room’s sense of physical isolation in SPAC is intentional. Simmons, who was responsible for the strength room’s layout, explains that the building’s unique structure allowed for each space to have its own theme. The weight and bulkiness of the strength equipment restrict it to the first floor because of the difficulty in moving it. Plus, it helps to have weight and cardio machines grouped together to accomodate people who want to do different types of workouts on different days. Despite this design, womxn in the gym forge their own communities to feel welcome in these spaces. For example, Simmons says the group workout classes at SPAC tend to attract more womxn than men. Rampolla finds motivation and enjoyment in these classes, such as WERQ , a cardio dance class, and BODYPUMP, a barbell workout class. “Everyone’s just having fun and laughing, so
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Simmons says the SPAC faculty is conscious of the gender divides that exist within the strength room and workout classes, and wants to take action to reduce them. In terms of strength training, the gym offers free weight room orientation to help those new to lifting get comfortable. Simmons is optimistic that strength training will continue to rise in popularity among womxn. “Sometimes things can be really intimidating,” Simmons says. “But I really just want everybody to know that they’re welcome in this space.” While mixed marketing and weight room orientations are a positive effort, O’Berry sees alternative actions as being the most effective ways to make womxn comfortable and welcome in the world of strength training. In her opinion, there needs to be more representation of female lifters in the media landscape. She is frustrated by the lack of positive stories about strength training in gendered publications like Women’s Health compared to Men’s Health. “Equality isn’t just about those types of publications and people not outwardly talking crap about female lifters anymore,” O’Berry says. “It’s about celebrating them just as much.” If SPAC could more actively encourage womxn to strength train, she says, perhaps female students would be able to realize the benefits they are missing out on and the joy and confidence lifting could bring them. “I think the sport will become more popular as women put more stock in what they want and less in what men want,” O’Berry says. “There’s something empowering investing in your own strength.”
Broadway bound(aries) Northwestern’s intimacy choreographers set the stage for consent in theatre. WRITTEN BY GABRIELLE RABON // DESIGNED BY EMMA ESTBERG
PHOTOGRAPHED BY NIKITA AMIR
Intimacy choreographer Kira Nutter (right) works with Jay Towns (middle) and Riley Mulcahy (left) on a kiss scene in Spamalot.
re you comfortable with your face being touched?” In this scene, Jay Towns and Riley Mulcahy lean in for a kiss. At the last second, they turn away and break into song, kissing only once the verse has ended. Kira Nutter plans out the actors’ every move, leaving no room for ambiguity. Mulcahy tilts her head left instead of right when leaning in, and Nutter gently corrects her. During the next run, the actors decide it’s more natural for both of them to tilt their heads to the left. Nutter notes the change. “Let’s go with nature,” she says. Nutter, a Communication third-year, aspiring intimacy choreographer and certified fight choreographer, is serving as the intimacy choreographer on Monty Python’s Spamalot, produced by student theatre board Lovers & Madmen (L&M). She stages the kiss scene between King Arthur, played by Communication second-year Towns, and the Lady of the Lake, played by Communication second-year Mulcahy. Nutter works step-by-step, making sure both actors are comfortable with each movement.
Theatre companies hire intimacy directors or choreographers to stage vulnerable exchanges, such as kisses, embraces and simulated sex, between actors. They prioritize comfort and safety onstage while maintaining the director’s artistic vision. At Northwestern, students like Nutter have taken interest in the field of intimacy choreography, gaining experience in part by working on Student Theatre Coalition (StuCo) productions including Spamalot, Burlesque and She Loves Me. One of Nutter’s methods to create a safe environment for actors is to have them mentally “check in” and “check out” before and after running an intimate scene, so actors can explore the scene as their characters and later discuss boundaries as actors. “It’s an added level of separation, which I think is lovely,” Nutter says. “We’re defining, ‘Okay, we’re entering worlds as our characters; we’re going to explore this intimate moment. We’re going to check out, and now we can discuss it from this new perspective at a distance.’” During an evening rehearsal in the Wirtz Center for Performing Arts, Towns and Mulcahy
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check in. They place their hands together, look each other in the eyes, inhale, exhale and release. Then they run the scene, which ends in a four-second, closed-mouth kiss. After two seconds, Towns kicks up his leg in a gesture reminiscent of a romantic comedy. Another two seconds pass, and they release. “Bye, Arthur! Goodbye,” Mulcahy ad-libs, smiling and waving. Towns pretends to gallop away and others in the rehearsal room begin to giggle. Nutter looks up from the script on the floor and laughs. Before moving on, Nutter reminds the actors to check out, ensuring that they separate from their characters before discussing the scene. Nutter is certified in fight choreography through the Society of American Fight Directors. The Spamalot team hired her for fight as well as intimacy choreography, for which she is not technically certified. Despite this, Nutter has gained experience by shadowing a certified intimacy choreographer and working on many student theatre productions on campus. Nutter says her goal is to be warm and welcoming, and to create a space where actors feel safe, advocated for and empowered to defend their own comfort and safety. She says she wants to emphasize the idea that actors are human beings, first and foremost. “You can change that character, but there is only one version of every person in this world, so you just have to meet them where they are,” Nutter says. Communication thirdyear Gracie Cashman, who worked with Nutter on She Loves Me, describes her as having warm, inviting energy, but also as being laid-back, saying she “made you feel comfortable with whatever weird thing you were doing.” Communication secondyear Brandon Acosta and Cashman say their high schools never used an intimacy choreographer. “It was like, ‘You’re going to kiss at this part. Go somewhere and get comfortable. Figure out what you’re gonna do,’” Acosta says. Cashman says she had a similar experience when she performed opposite her then-boyfriend. She says it was uncomfortable in part - Sarah Scanlon, because of their offstage intimacy choreographer relationship. Still, their director encouraged them to commit to the intimacy. “It was just odd, and I think that having an
Art should heal. Art should not harm. If I can be a piece of the healing that art is there to do, then that is wonderful.
intimacy choreographer brings a lot of clarity to those moments,” she says, adding that having an intimacy choreographer might have prevented some of the discomfort surrounding that production. Being thrown into a scene without clear direction, Cashman and Acosta agree, can be awkward. Intimacy choreographers plan out each movement, eliminating the ambiguity that causes tension in intimate scenes, they make the action more realistic while minimizing discomfort. “One of the things Kira talked about was … choreographing where your hand goes and how your body reacts to that touch. It looks and feels much more natural,” Acosta says. He says that while he’s always worked with people he trusts, having an intimacy choreographer is extra reassurance that everyone feels comfortable. Intimacy choreography is gaining attention in the film and theatre worlds in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which has drawn public concern to sexual harassment and assault and has advocated for political and social change. Intimacy Directors International (IDI), the main provider for intimacy choreography certification, was founded in 2016, not long before allegations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein spawned the #MeToo movement. Despite the importance of trained intimacy choreographers in campus productions, certification through IDI isn’t easily accessible for students. While The Actors Gymnasium offers students training in fight direction, there isn’t a set location to receive training for intimacy choreography. IDI requires aspiring intimacy choreographers to complete their apprenticeship program, which accepts only 20 applicants each year and costs $120 annually, before certification. According to the IDI website, applicants must spend at least 50 hours training with an IDI Lead Instructor before even applying to the apprenticeship program. The lack of accessibility surrounding certification sometimes leads student intimacy choreographers to feel insecure in their abilities. Communication third-year Maggie Dalzell says she doesn’t work on campus productions because she doesn’t feel qualified to do it herself. “No one’s certified, so we all know that you have to tread lightly and not be too prescriptive,” Dalzell says. Several IDI-certified intimacy choreographers reside in the Chicago area, including Gaby Labotka, who consulted on Lipstick Theatre’s annual Burlesque. Still, Jessica Nekritz, Spamalot’s producer, expresses concern about how difficult the certification process is, especially since college students create theatre around the country, and intimacy can be uncomfortable without proper guidance. “Most [students] are comfortable swinging swords around, but not everyone’s comfortable being touched and kissed and taking their clothes off,” Nekritz says.
Broadway bound(aries) | DANCE FLOOR Certified intimacy choreographer Sarah Scanlon says she’s faced different challenges when working with college students versus professionals. She’s noticed college students bring their work home with them and says she encourages students to practice “good emotional hygiene” by only rehearsing intimate scenes with a third party present. Cashman has noticed a similar trend. She says that the college theatre world is insular and that offstage life is more likely to impact relationships onstage, which can bring a different energy to the performance. “You’re going to do this show with that person tonight, and then you’re going to be in class with them tomorrow,” she says. Wirtz hired certified intimacy choreographer Britain Willcock to work on shows like last year’s Mary Stuart. Willcock is on leave this quarter, so Scanlon is working as Wirtz’s intimacy choreographer. Northwestern’s theatre program has also incorporated intimacy training into classes related to directing, production and a freshman seminar to introduce students to the field. Many student theatre boards use precautionary measures throughout their processes to ensure safety is a priority. Though she acknowledges her perspective is limited, Nutter says they’re leaders in the field of intimacy choreography. L&M asks what they call a “Romeo and Juliet question” during petitions, StuCo’s version of auditions. It’s a hypothetical question in which an actor expresses discomfort with the kiss scene in a production of Romeo and Juliet, and the director must decide how to proceed. This way, the board can find directors who will prioritize actor safety over their artistic vision. Lipstick Theatre, another theatre board, has also hosted workshops to teach interested students the basic principles behind intimacy choreography. Burlesque hired Labotka this year to host an intimacy choreography workshop with its directors and producers. In addition to working with Nutter, the Spamalot team elected a “non-equity deputy,” who actors can express concerns to if they don’t want to go to the production team directly. If an actor expressed discomfort with scripted intimacy, the team would reblock the scene to show the same level of emotional intimacy while preserving their comfort and safety. “This is student theatre. We’re not creating Broadway-level work. Comfort and learning and working together is the most important thing,” Nekritz says. Though Nutter says she thinks that Northwestern overall is “ahead of the game,” she says Wirtz has struggled to keep up with StuCo in the field of intimacy choreography. “People who have been in it for so long, all of our professionals here, they’re relearning and they’re trying to figure it out,” she says. “Our undergrad students here feel a lot more flexible and a lot more enthusiastic that this is something we need in the room and we need to
Jay Towns and Riley Mulcahy follow staging directions from Kira Nutter.
do it right, which is very exciting.” Scanlon understands these concerns, which she says professionals in the industry share. Still, she says, Northwestern’s recent efforts, including hiring intimacy choreographers and working intimacy into the curriculum, illustrate the school’s desire to hear student concerns. “I do agree that there likely has been a feeling of a lag behind, but I know that there are people, specifically at Northwestern, who are really advocating for this position and really advocating for the students,” she says. Ultimately, Scanlon says her job is to tell the story in the most dynamic way possible, uplifting the team’s vision and ensuring everyone consents enthusiastically. “Art should heal. Art should not harm,” Scanlon says. “If I can be a piece of the healing that art is there to do, then that is wonderful.”
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Around the Block Uncovering pieces in the museum’s permanent collection. WRITTEN BY RACHEL SCHONBERGER // DESIGNED BY CHLOE COHEN
Jeff Donaldson, Study for the Wall of Respect [Miles Davis], 1967, mixed media (including oil) on heavy cream wove paper 24×18, Collection Block Museum of Art, Courtesy of Artist’s Estate.
lass walls make the Mary and Leigh Block Museum feel open, and inside, white cabinets house the museum’s permanent collection of over 6,000 works of art. Each quarter, two exhibitions go on display that feature works from the permanent collection and other museums. Many of the Block’s pieces travel around the world to other themed exhibitions. The Block’s collection is smaller than most, but it’s full of rare photographs, sketches, paintings and more. Corinne Granof, the Block’s academic curator, says it’s a novelty to see these pieces in person.
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“We’re so used to working with reproductions and seeing things digitally,” Granof says. “It’s a completely different experience to actually look at a print in person and see the ink on the paper and understand how it was made.” The Block Museum, which is approaching its 40th year, features pieces that are meant to create dialogues across academic disciplines, according to Assistant Curator of Collections Essi Rönkkö. As Rönkkö explains, how a museum curates its art dictates the values of the institution it’s associated with and vice versa.
The Block traditionally featured mostly Western art, but recently, its curators are making efforts to highlight global artists and showcase issues the Northwestern community deems important. This includes implementing a “global contemporary strategy” that mirrors the University’s efforts to expand its representation of diverse cultures in campus conversations. Last year, the Block hosted “Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa,” an exhibition with over 250 pieces medieval African history.
Around the Block | DANCE FLOOR Since September, the Block has displayed exhibitions on Latin American, Iranian, Turkish, Indian and Arab modernisms and abstractions. It’s currently hosting “Modernisms: Iranian, Turkish, and Indian Highlights from New York University’s Abby Weed Grey Collection” and preparing to open “Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s-1980s” at the end of April. The Block is free to the public and provides group tours. But it’s also an academic resource. This past fall, the museum supervised 20 class visits and set aside pieces for 306 individual student and faculty researchers. While its temporary exhibitions may appeal to specific areas of study, the museum’s permanent, behind-the-scenes collection contains pieces that resonate with Northwestern students in Bienen and McCormick alike. Here is a selection of the museum’s many hidden gems:
“Miles Davis” by Jeff Donaldson This portrait of the 20th-century trumpeter is filled with the kind color and expression that Davis contributed to the music industry. Donaldson influenced the Black Art Movement, and he showcases the “Picasso of Jazz” in this hybrid piece the Block Museum acquired in 2017. The sketch was part of the 1960s Wall of Respect on Chicago’s South Side, which featured Davis among artwork depicting other prominent African American leaders.
“Snow Does” by Carol Wax, 1995, Mezzotint in blue ink, Courtesy of the artist and Block Museum of Art
“Snow Does” by Carol Wax To the average museumgoer, this piece is a mesmerizing snowflake fashioned from winding doe antlers. However, the design engineer or mathematics major may appreciate the intricate mezzotint printmaking process that Wax used or the patterns and symmetry developed in the print. The rare, laborious artform involves making dents in a metal plate at designated depths to control the levels of darkness. The process, which dates back to the 1700s, is seldom used nowadays. Before she fell in love with printmaking, Wax trained as a classical flautist. Her art embodies the magic in seemingly ordinary things like antlers.
“First Pulse, 1854” by Dario Robleto, Courtesy the artist and Inman Gallery, Houston, TX
“Flatline (dying of stomach cancer), 1870” by Dario Robleto, Courtesy the artist and Inman Gallery, Houston, TX
“First Pulse, 1854” and “Flatline (dying of stomach cancer), 1870” by Dario Robleto Three years ago, Dario Robleto led a talk in conjunction with the Block and the McCormick School of Engineering. His photolithographs of the first recorded heartbeat and flatline are significant in the history of sound, biology and technology. Robleto discovered a series of tracings recorded by German and French physiologists from 1854 to 1913. He captured the first remnants of this pulse with candle soot and hair on pieces of paper. Because little was known at the time about cardiobiology, the physiologists also recorded the heart under circumstances that we now know are unrelated to pulse, like “smelling lavender” and “sadness from listening to a sung melody.” Robleto’s series is groundbreaking in understanding the history of human interest in the heart and scientific advancement.
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How assistant coach Kate Popovec has helped women’s basketball rise from unranked to Big Ten champs. WRITTEN BY JAKE MAY // DESIGNED BY MAREN KRANKING
njoy the beauty of becoming,” reads the quote at the top of Coach Kate Popovec’s personal blog. Scroll around, and you’ll encounter reflections on self-improvement, living in the moment, women who inspire her and more. Accompanying those pieces is a selection of quotes from Kobe Bryant and Geno Auriema to Kehlani and India.Arie. “‘A girl should be two things:’” wrote Popovec on International Women’s Day in 2018, quoting Coco Chanel. “‘Who and what she wants.’” For Popovec, so far, so good. She is the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator as an assistant coach for the Northwestern women’s basketball team. The Wildcats are enjoying their best season in years, clinching the Big Ten championship title and in line for a March Madness berth. Much of that success can be attributed to the suffocating defense Popovec oversees. The team ranks 26th in the nation in scoring defense, 12th in turnovers forced per game and 21st in steals. The head coach, Joe McKeown, credits much of the team’s defensive success to Popovec and her knowledge of both the system and the team. “She bleeds purple, and that was a big thing for us,” McKeown says. Despite receiving
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PHOTOGRAPHED BY MAREN KRANKING
Locked N | DANCE FLOOR her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northwestern in 2013, Popovec didn’t don purple until halfway through her collegiate career. She transferred after her sophomore season at the University of Pittsburgh, drawn to Northwestern’s academics and the program’s penchant for producing highlevel, front-court talent. But beyond the court and the classroom, Popovec felt drawn to the Midwest for another reason. “You’re looking for a different thing than you were the first time [you apply], and I was really attracted to the family feel,” Popovec says. “Now they can’t get rid of me.” Though injuries marred her two years as a player for the Wildcats, Popovec’s interest in coaching blossomed.
McKeown and the staff got her
involved behind the scenes, grooming Popovec for her first job as the director of basketball operations at La Salle University. After a brief return to Northwestern in 2014 as director of player development, Popovec spent a year at Colgate University as an assistant coach. She returned to Evanston after the ’16-’17 season, accepting the same role on the Wildcats’ staff before being promoted to her current role. “It was always my dream to come back and be an assistant, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon,” Popovec says. “When you see alumni come back and work for programs, it speaks to the experience they had here.” As defensive coordinator, Popovec is a liaison between McKeown and his players.
On defense, the Wildcats run a system called Blizzard. It typically takes first-years a full season to learn this scheme, which is unique to Northwestern. This makes Popovec integral as the student-turned-teacher with experience on both
sides of the system. “I had played in it, which helped me a lot,” Popovec says. “I am the one who emphasizes what [McKeown]’s looking for and breaks down the specifics, but it’s obviously a team and staff effort.” Fourth-year forward Abi Scheid and fourth-year center Abbie Wolf remember when Blizzard caused more problems than it solved. Wolf says the team even scrapped the whole system during their second year. But when Popovec came in as defensive coordinator the following season and helped reinstate the system, Scheid says the defense began to run more smoothly. “She just developed these relationships [with the players] and I think that helped her in coaching them,” McKeown says. “She knew [Blizzard] from a player standpoint and how to explain it, and that’s half the battle.” Popovec assumes control of practice when it’s time to work on defense. Squatting at midcourt with a whistle in her mouth and a scouting report tucked under her arm, Popovec runs the team through game-scenarios. Her instructions distill hours of scouting and preparation into concise, digestible points for her players. “I put her in charge of a lot of our defensive schemes and how we prepare for each team, how we’re going to stop certain players,” McKeown
says. “I think she’s really evolved into taking it from the five-on-five standpoint but also breaking down the individual matchups within it, which is important.” Coach Popovec’s tough love is appreciated by her players. Scheid says Popovec’s experiences as a student-athlete help her provide valuable perspectives and advice. Wolf, who spent her first three seasons coming off the bench before moving into a starting role as a senior, says Popovec aided her in “staying the course” the last few years. She helped Wolf boil her role down to three key points: rebound, run and defend. “Her veins might be popping out and her face is red ... but it’s all out of love and passion,” Wolf says. “You want a coach that really puts her whole self into it just like we’re expected to do on the floor.” Though the “beauty of becoming” Coach Kate Popovec is relatively new, the title is here to stay. And though more titles surely await, “Pop” is not too concerned with what those might be. Instead, her focus remains on finishing the task at hand. “These girls are so deserving of everything that’s come their way because they’ve worked and they’ve believed,” Popovec says. “It felt like they were winning even when they weren’t [in seasons past], because the kids believed.”
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WRITTEN BY MAYA MOJICA // DESIGNED AND ILLUSTRATED BY CHLOE COHEN
Evanston uses marijuana legalization to address historic inequality.
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n December, local dispensaries were preparing for the January 1 legalization of recreational marijuana. At the First Church of God, meanwhile, a crowd of over 600 Evanston residents gathered for a town hall to discuss reparations. In a historic new resolution, the city will allocate funds from a sales tax on recreational marijuana purchases to the Black community. Evanston activists saw legalization as an opportunity to take a step toward atoning for the decades of disproportionate marijuana arrests and redlining practices that targeted the Black community in the city.
At the meeting, city employees passed around notecards to solicit audience questions and comments about the policy. Some attendants left the cards blank, but not because they didn’t want to see a reparations resolution implemented. Actually, it was the opposite — they were worried that it wouldn’t work. “I think there was a lot of hope in that room,” says Gabriella Johannson, a SESP third-year who staffs Evanston City Council’s reparations subcommittee. “But there’s also a lot of skepticism, because the city is the entity who has been hurting them for years.
Joint resolution | DANCE FLOOR It’s difficult to try to convince people that we’re going to try to do this right.” Still, under the leadership of 5th Ward Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, the subcommittee continued to push forward. Simmons has been advocating for reparations since June, when the council passed a resolution committing to ending structural racism and achieving racial equity. According to Johansson, municipalities pass bills like this “all the time,” but they typically just acknowledge racial injustices without doing anything substantial to correct them. Simmons decided to do something concrete. “This is innovative work,” Simmons says. “There has not been another municipality to look to as a reference or as a best practice.” Illinois officially legalized recreational marijuana for adults over 21. Evanston’s reparations policy— which the council approved in an 8-to-1 vote in November — will implement a 3 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana that will contribute to the fund. The city is not allowed to begin collecting money until June 2020. After that, the fund will be financed over the course of 10 years and capped at $10 million. Distributions from the fund will likely not begin until 2021. At a reparations subcommittee meeting three months after the town hall, Evanstonians sounded far less apprehensive of the resolution. Still, many residents have questions and concerns about how exactly the money will be spent. Bennett Johnson, who once collaborated with Martin Luther King Jr. and attends every subcommittee meeting, hopes the fund will become “self-sustaining.” “You’re not trying to make people happy,” Johnson says. “You’re trying to make people function in society.” This call for independence comes after decades of racial injustices against Black Evanstonians. In the 1850s, 125 African Americans were living in Evanston. By 1960, that number jumped to 9,126. According
to the Founder of Shorefront Legacy Center Morris “Dino” Robinson, government initiatives, along with white, racist realtors, restricted African Americans’ place of living to underfunded areas. There, Black students were relegated to
Evanston will serve as a model for smaller municipalities as well as inspire tangible change at a state level. Although recreational marijuana may be legal here and in several states around the nation, there
“This policy is a first step in addressing racial violence and providing repair, but will not be sufficient in addressing everything.” — Gabriella Johansson desperately underfunded schools. Redlining, the corrupt process of denying services (often financial) to residents of specific neighborhoods, usually based on race, has historically plagued Chicagoland housing. Racist practices in the real estate industry have existed for centuries, and this is an issue of national importance. In prominent cities all over the country, such as Detroit and Atlanta, similar redlining practices created neighborhoods with almost completely homogenous racial makeups. In the 1930s, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation developed what were essentially color-coded maps of the city, leading to institutional discrimination by real estate owners in certain areas. Evanston has spurred national conversations in favor of reparations, but it remains the only city that has taken concrete steps toward addressing these historic inequalities. According to Northwestern political science Professor Reuel Rogers, the Evanston reparations resolution is not necessarily indicative of grand-scale national change. “I think [Evanstonians] are more exposed to arguments that make the case for reparations and why it’s a suitable response to ongoing racial inequality than whites in other parts of the country might be,” Rogers says. But Johannson is hopeful that
are still local and federal laws in place that limit cannabis use. For Northwestern students, on-campus cannabis policies remain the same. Prior to students’ return from winter break, the University sent an email stating that it still prohibits the use and possession of marijuana on campus and at University events. And although students tend to be, at the very least, aware of recreational cannabis legalization in Illinois, Johannson says, they are often far less informed about the Evanston reparations resolution, a groundbreaking initiative in their own backyards. But Evanstonians, especially those who live in Simmons’ district, are excited and moved by the proposition. They find lots of ways to keep conversations surrounding reparations moving forward, including the Facebook group “Evanston Reparations/ Solutions Only,” where community members are encouraged to post anything involving the fight for reparations, whether that be in Evanston or nationwide. “I think that is something we have to work towards, but it is going to be a process that lasts for a long long time, evaluating and changing policy and transforming systems,” Johansson says. “This policy is a first step in addressing racial violence and providing repair, but will not be sufficient in addressing everything.”
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ENVIRO NMENT ALISM
oung people are leading the environmental revolution. Worldwide, pioneers like Greta Thunberg, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and the organizers of the Sunrise Movement are shaping the way we view the climate crisis and hold institutions and corporations accountable. At Northwestern, students dedicate immeasurable time and energy to advancing this cause. Our 17 environmental campus organizations work to reduce waste, create solarpowered vehicles, maintain environments for native species, rethink food systems and much more. In environmental science and engineering classes, we learn how to manage sustainable food, water and energy supplies. In political science and environmental policy classes, we discuss the best policy approaches to protect our resources and communities. In history and humanities courses, we question historical and contemporary issues of land rights and environmental justice. In our art and film work, we use visuals to cope with our eco-anxiety. Increasingly, our intellectual and physical work is filtered through the lens of sustainability and environmentalism. In our daily lives, we make decisions about what our footprint will be. Some make their own beauty products, organize teach-ins on the effects of supporting fossil fuel firms and choose to ditch their car for a bike. Each action is significant. Hereâ€™s a look at how Northwestern and its students grappled with environmentalism in the past, work toward creating solutions in the present and prepare for an uncertain future.
ustainNU, a campus-wide initiative through the Office of Sustainability, takes steps to mitigate Northwestern’s role in climate change and make campus as green as possible. Among the initiative’s several proposals, the Off ice is focusing on plans to decrease the prevalence of single-use plastic bottles and commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In 2017, Northwestern published its first Strategic Sustainability Plan, which outlined the school’s policy goals to reduce its contribution to climate change. The plan focuses on five main areas of change: University
In 2016, Northwestern was awarded Bicycle Friendly University Silver status by the League of American Bicyclists. Since sustainNU efforts began in 2017, Northwestern has received a 95 out of 99 score in The Princeton Review’s “Sustainability Green Rating,” in addition to being named an Energy Star Partner by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. In 2017, Northwestern ranked No. 31 on the Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” list, which measures universities’ sustainability efforts. By 2019, however, Northwestern fell to No. 123 out of W282.
Go green or go home How does Northwestern’s sustainability plan measure up? WRITTEN BY MADISON SMITH// DESIGNED BY NIKITA AMIR
infrastructure, transportation, resource conservation, experiential learning and communication and engagement. The plan also serves as a guideline for sustainability efforts in the coming years. The Strategic Sustainability Plan outlines how the school seeks to incorporate sustainability in day-today operations. Regarding clean transportation, the University pledges to increase the community’s use of public transportation by 5 percent by 2021 and eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions from the campus shuttle fleet by 2030. Other initiatives include reducing energy consumption at Northwestern by 20 percent of 2010 levels, diverting 50 percent of total waste to places other than landfills and improving students’ “sustainability literacy.” Rankings and reviews from sustainability critics reflect Northwestern’s recent strides and those yet to be made.
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Despite formalized efforts through sustainNU, pressure from student groups indicates Northwestern still has much work to do to become a completely sustainable and environmentally sound campus. Earlier this month, the Northwestern board of trustees rejected a proposal from student group Fossil Free Northwestern, which demanded that the school divest from all of its financial holdings in the fossil fuel industry. Additionally, despite its anti-plastic bottle initiative, sustainNU has done little to combat the plastic water bottles that are sold in every on-campus store. These lapses, among others, demonstrate that Northwestern’s campus-wide environmental impact extends far beyond the bounds of Sheridan Road and Lincoln Street. *Additional reporting by Samara Lipman.
ZERO Amid a growing low-waste movement, some Northwestern students are making their own sustainable lifestyle changes. WRITTEN BY MAGGIE GALLOWAY // DESIGNED AND ILLUSTRATED BY EMILY CERF
ast July, Sofia Schillace stood in her kitchen, stirring beeswax and coconut oil in a stove-top double boiler. Once it melted and combined, she poured the mixture into a reusable tin and packed some away to bring to school. Schillace, a McCormick second-year, says the lip balm and face lotion she makes goes a long way. Just two tins of lip balm usually last her most, if not all, of the year. She started making her own lip balm years ago because she was allergic to some commercial brands. Now, she does it to limit the production of waste that will eventually end up in the landfill. Schillace is one of a number of students at Northwestern University striving to be zero-waste or low-waste. Besides refusing plastic straws or
plastic bags, these environmentally conscious students are making lifestyle changes ranging from creating their own beauty and cleaning products to buying in bulk or secondhand. Producing exactly zero waste is nearly unachievable, but those who call themselves “zero-waste” aspire to get as close as possible. Those who acknowledge they still create a substantial amount of waste or think the term is misleading often prefer the term “low-waste.” “[Low-waste has] a complicated definition because it means different things to everybody,” Schillace says. For her, trying to live low-waste means anything from eating leftovers to avoid food waste to carrying around her black thermos, reusable utensils
and Tupperware to steer clear of using disposable silverware and containers. “I definitely get made fun of my fair share because I show up with my [reusable] coffee cup and my Tupperware full of stuff, and people laugh at me,” she says. But Schillace isn’t deterred. She also shops at thrift stores and uses public transit or rides her bike whenever she can. Instead of hauling a shower caddy filled with plastic bottles, she uses solid shampoo and conditioner bars, which she finds last much longer. Schillace considers herself lowwaste and started her journey when she realized their actions didn’t match with her environmental values. “I remember thinking … I keep talking about sustainability, but I’m not doing
anything about it,” Schillace says. Schillace was a senior in high school when she came across a social media post for Plastic Free July, a global campaign during the month of July to reduce or completely avoid single-use plastics. She decided to join the movement and convinced her family to participate, too. Usually, her family would produce a full bin of trash every week, but Schillace says they cut that almost in half during Plastic Free July. “Even though that month wasn’t necessarily that successful, it started a broader conversation with my parents and my family about changing our lifestyle a little bit, which has continued to have impact,” Schillace says. At Northwestern, Schillace only empties her trash once or twice a quarter, while her roommate empties hers once a week. Those who follow a lowwaste lifestyle often begin with small, achievable actions and gradually increase from there. Second-year Hannah Julie Yoon started with switching from tampons and pads to a menstrual cup, a small, tulip-shaped device made of medical-grade silicone or latex rubber. Though they are the most widely used option, tampons and pads have substantial monetary and enironmental costs. According to a September National Geographic article, the average menstruator will use anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 pads and tampons in their lifetime — most of which will end up in the landfill. And at $5 to $10 a box, that can add up quickly. Menstrual cups, on the other hand, usually last a couple years (sometimes up to 10) and range anywhere from $10 to $40. Going low-waste can help save money in the long run. Instead of buying a pound of rice packaged in plastic, for example, Schillace buys in bulk, allowing her to buy the exact amount she needs using her own bags.
Yoon says autonomy over purchases makes it easier to follow a low-waste lifestyle in college than living at home. For example, an Albatross stainless steel safety razor costs about $25 — a pricey up-front cost compared to a Gillette Venus 3-pack of razors for $6.99. However, according to Gillete Venus’s website, if you only shaved twice a week, you would need to
can make low-waste living easier. However, Schillace believes she created more food waste at the dining hall than while cooking at home. At the dining halls it’s hard to know by looking at a dish if she’ll like it, and by the time she’s filled up her plate and tasted the food, it’s too late. According to the Real Food at NU (NURF) website, the average Northwestern student discards about one pound of food a day when eating at the dining halls. That’s about 4,300 pounds of food waste a day at dining halls alone. Outside that, busy schedules can make it hard to prepare for unexpected situations that create waste. “If I’m just out for class and I realize, ‘Oh shoot, I need lunch and I haven’t eaten yet,’ and I’m running to grab something between classes, I’m not always as prepared for those situations,” Schillace says. Another aspect of Northwestern that can make being low-waste difficult is the culture surrounding late-night eating. Cheap and quick food vendors like Burger King often generate a lot of waste from disposable packaging. Last spring, NURF started an initiative to install compost bins and make signage clearer in Norris to curb food waste. While they’ve been able to set up manned bins for short periods of time, they are still working on a system to make sure the bins stay free of non-compostable items if installed long-term. Besides being in greater alignment with her values, Schillace has also found a positive change to her mental and physical well-being since beginning her low-waste journey. “When I first started, I thought, ‘This is better for the environment, so I’m going to do this,’” Schillace says. “Then, the more I looked at the things I was replacing, the more I realized that the natural things that I was doing made me feel better.” Instead of bagged chips or
Producing exactly no waste is nearly unachievable, but those who call themselves “zero-waste” come very close.
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replace your razor every four to six weeks. For a whole year of shaving, that means anywhere from nine to 13 Venus razors, which could cost anywhere from $63 to $91. And that’s just one year. If properly taken care of, safety razors can last for multiple years. A year’s worth of Albatross recyclable blades costs only $7.50. Recyclable blades save a considerable amount of money and keep a whole trashcan of plastic razors from ending up in the landfill. “Because you are the one in charge of buying your essentials, it feels good to be able to make the conscious choice,” Yoon says. The ability to compost food and eat vegetarian foods in the dining hall
Getting to zero | ON ENVIRONMENTALISM packaged popcorn, fruit like kiwis — Schillace’s new snack of choice — not only come without packaging, but also tend to be less processed and healthier. Although low-waste lifestyles can save money in the long run, some upfront costs can pose a barrier. It also can take time to prepare for situations with waste, and not everyone has that luxury. “Privilege 100 percent plays into this,” says Simone Siew, a low-waste blogger based in Chicago and recent graduate of Indiana University. “And then it doesn’t even account for the fact that climate change disproportionately affects lowincome communities who often have the least resources to change what’s happening to them.” Despite these barriers, Siew and Yoon both believe that those with the necessary resources should work to lower their impact. “If you are economically privileged, which many people on this campus are, it is so easy to go zero-waste; it is so easy to go even low-waste,” Yoon says. “The solution is right there.” And though reducing waste is one step toward sustainability, Siew believes real change has to happen on a larger scale. “The problem is bigger than one person,” Siew says. “Yes, everyone needs to do their job. But we’re in the sustainability crisis due to institutions, fossil fuel companies, policies … My biggest tip is to vote and to speak up regarding climate change.” While institutional change has a more large-scale impact, students’ individual life changes aren’t inconsequential. Schillace says that, at the end of the day, low-waste is less about the actual reduction in waste and more about a greater shift in attitude. “It’s one start to that momentum that needs to happen for actual significant change,” she says. For now, Schillace will keep filling tins of lip balm and carrying her thermos, no matter what anyone says.
How to survive biking in the winter WRITTEN BY MADDIE JARRARD
Even in the midst of Evanston winter, you’ll see Northwestern’s most dedicated cyclists biking to class. At Chicago’s Winter Bike Rally this January, experts like Brett Dightman from Evanston’s Wheel and Sprocket and Clare McDermott from the Active Transportation Alliance shared tips for surviving the winter bike commute. Layer smart: The most important advice is to layer strategically. This doesn’t mean throwing on all of your layers; one of the biggest dangers in the winter is actually sweating too much and freezing solid at a stoplight. Balance your temperature so you’re not too hot or too cold. You don’t have to buy a $300 jacket; McDermott suggests finding thin wool sweaters from second-hand stores. Protect your extremities: Make sure your hands and feet are shielded from the cold with warm gloves and socks. If your hands are still numb with gloves, Dightman suggests Bar Mitts. These foam compartments on your handlebars will keep your hands toasty in Evanston’s brutal winds. Traction is key: Winter and early spring bring cold temperatures and slick, icy streets. Bike tires with little surface area struggle in these conditions. McDermott recommends something that has more grip to it, like mountain biking or studded tires, the bike equivalent of chains for cars. You can typically find these for $60 to $70. Know when to take the bus: Biking in traffic is already tricky without snow and ice. If the streets and bike lanes aren’t clear and you don’t have tires that keep you upright on ice, the best option is to walk or take public transit. As Ken Ehrman, a Garrett professor who bikes 14 miles to Northwestern every day, puts it, “I’d rather take the bus than die.”
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Green thumbs up
What students want to see from Northwestern’s push for sustainability. WRITTEN BY ANNIE CAO // DESIGNED AND ILLUSTRATED BY EMILY CERF
ate Lee ate a ham sandwich for breakfast one day in high school. Soon after, she learned that producing a kilogram of beef has the equivalent water footprint of a 92-minute shower. By lunchtime, she decided to never eat meat again. Now a first-year at Northwestern, Lee continues to push for environmentally sustainable food systems. Earlier this year, she co-founded the #NoBeef campaign at Northwestern. The group, based on the international #NoBeef movement, educates people about reasons to shift away from today’s beef industry. #NoBeef is part of a larger movement among Northwestern activists that is working to push for the prioritization of sustainability. While the large-scale implementation of sustainability initiatives is primarily up to the University, students are finding ways to push for further action. Associated Student Government’s (ASG) annual campus-wide survey this year included two questions on sustainability. One asked how much students agree with the statement “I commit myself to a sustainable lifestyle in my daily life (recycling, reducing food waste and trash, limiting water usage).” Of the 1,140 respondents, 78 percent said they strongly or somewhat agree. Fossil Free Northwestern is an organization that pushes for divestment from fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy. The club, whose members include students, faculty, 1000 students 898
staff and alumni, advocates for climate justice and sustainable endowments through student protests, petitions and demonstrations. Last spring, a group of Fossil Free members — including three students — submitted a proposal to the Advisory Committee on Investment Responsibility (ACIR). It called for the University to divest from the top 100 coal and oil and gas companies within five years, and to implement new renewable investment plans. The ACIR accepted the proposal and voted in June to recommend it to Northwestern’s board of trustees. On Feb. 20, however, the board’s Investment Committee rejected the proposal, arguing that divestment wouldn’t result in the positive environmental change that Fossil Free is aiming for. The rejection came just a week after a “die-in” and “environmental teachin” organized by Fossil Free for World Divestment Day. On social media, the organization wrote that it is crafting an intentional response to the rejection. Madison Smith, a member of Fossil Free, cares about divestment from fossil fuels for both environmental and social justice reasons. “The people who are allowing all this money to be put into fossil fuels, they’re going to be the ones who are benefitting from all this money,” Smith says. “It’s not going to be us who are affected by fossil fuels, it’s the people who are on the equator, people who
are from third world countries; people who have a low socioeconomic status, because those are the people who don’t have any power against climate change.” Student organizations also tackle sustainability issues beyond clean energy. The ASG Sustainability committee is working with Real Food at NU, a club that advocates for a transition to a local, humanely-sourced University food supply, to increase composting. Lauren Simitz, the Committee’s vice president, says the groups have started a composting pilot program in Norris, the only food service building on campus that still lacks composting. In Our Nature (ION), a digital publication that covers environmental issues and sustainability on campus, addresses another initiative: promoting sustainability culture. Margo Milanowski, co-editor at ION, says many don’t see sustainability as enough of a necessity. “We all need to be living sustainable lives, so writing for a publication like In Our Nature is a step in the right direction.” Bella Wilkes, the other co-editor, agrees. “What sustainability means to me is education,” she says. “If you look at any issue, especially recently, you can connect it back to the environment. What people need is … reading, researching because these are the problems that are affecting us now, but even more so in 20, 30 years from now.”
Data based on a 2019-2020 ASG campus-wide survey with 1,118 respondents to this question. Respondents could select multiple options.
Which of the following areas do you consider to be most important for Northwestern to focus on to improve its commitment to sustainability?
Reducing container waste 556
Composting LEED-certified buildings, ENERGY STAR Providing alternative student transportation options Promoting sustainability culture
A bird’s eye view
How the Clark Street Beach Bird Sanctuary took flight. WRITTEN BY EVA HERSCOWITZ // DESIGNED AND ILLUSTRATED BY EMILY CERF
t the Clark Street Beach Bird Sanctuary, American goldfinches, palm warblers and common yellowthroats fill the sandy patch of land with color and song. Migrating birds perch atop the limbs of black oaks, feeding on the caterpillars that populate the trees. Nearby, Northwestern’s sterile, glass-paneled Segal Visitors Center contrasts with this two-acre bird haven. After the University cut down more than 70 trees in 2012 to build Segal, Evanston bird conservationists sought to reimagine the formerly untamed land Segal’s construction destroyed. A city ordinance required Northwestern to pay for every tree removed, and Evanston North Shore Bird Club program chair Libby Hill requested that the $173,850 be invested in a replacement sanctuary. Although Hill considers the downsizing a loss, the money gained from Segal’s construction allowed conservationists to build the sanctuary. Though species-rich, the current sanctuary barely resembles the habitat Segal was built upon. On this land, tightly-packed cottonwood trees — some almost 20 feet tall — dotted the landscape, and grassy patches carpeted the sandy floor. Bird conservation consultant Judy Pollock says this territory was a fueling point for birds. “It was a patch of land that just grew up wild,” Hill says. “And we don’t have
many patches of land around here that grow up wild.” Paul D’Agostino, Evanston’s Environmental Services Bureau chief, says the sanctuary was built to include flora of various heights, which accommodate various bird species’ needs. The sanctuary delegates work to local volunteers who weed, mulch, gather seeds and sow. Individuals also serve as bird monitors, observing and reporting on bird populations. Some volunteers, like steward Jerry Herst, have helped preserve the sanctuary since it opened in 2015. “After the initial planting, we were charged with helping to keep those plants alive,” Herst says. “We helped tend the plants, added more plantings to help hold back the invasive plants that were coming in.” Although volunteers maintained a biodiverse landscape, Pollock says the sanctuary’s success won’t undo the damage from Segal’s construction. “The biggest impact was dramatically cutting down the size of the habitat. The [sanctuary] will do a little bit to bring that back, but it certainly doesn’t go all the way to restoring what was there,” Pollock says. Northwestern Director of the Office of Sustainability Greg Kozak says Segal’s sustainable features — from the building’s water-conserving, sensor-operated sinks to its proximity to public transportation — reflect the University’s dedication to environmentalism. “There is a deep commitment and collaborative spirit around this particular topic, given the importance of it,” Kozak says. “So it’s certainly something that is on our radar and something that we strive toward from a facilities perspective.” Northwestern designs construction projects to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, which recognizes resource-efficient,cost-effective building designs. During Segal’s construction, 87 percent of waste was diverted from the landfill and 25 percent of its building materials were composed of recycled content — resulting in a silver LEED certification.
The Kellogg Global Hub, which occupies the other side of the Lakefill, earned a platinum certification. But, Herst says, the glass building is a “notorious bird-killer.” Allison Sloan, a member of Bird Friendly Evanston, a group dedicated to protecting Evanston’s birds, says the building’s mirrored exterior makes it a target for bird collisions. When Sloan monitored Kellogg for two and a half weeks in May 2017, she counted 82 bird collisions. Most occurred on the building’s east and north sides, which reflect the lake. Since then, the University has partially retrofitted Kellogg’s glass exterior with dot-patterned film. The building’s main lobby and first-floor balcony remain threats to birds. Sloan remains optimistic about the future of environmental architecture on campus. “Now that [Northwestern’s] aware of the problem, we’ve gotten a verbal commitment that they are really interested in becoming a nationwide leader in bird-friendly architecture on campus,” Sloan says.
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PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF BEN SILVERMAN
the DAMAGE is DUNE The Lakefill’s environmental impact reaches beyond the shore. WRITTEN BY TARA WU // DESIGNED BY EMILY CERF
he Lakefill: Northwestern’s poster child and the campus’ gateway to Lake Michigan. A well-known and loved part of campus, it constitutes almost half of the campus and is home to Northwestern landmarks like the Kellogg Global Hub and the Ryan Center for the Musical Arts. But the Lakefill offers more than just a photo-opp; it is one of Northwestern’s most remarkable natural areas. Completely man-made, it is a mound of sand surrounded by a limestone wall.
38 | Winter 2020
The construction of such an artificial structure has had both expected and surprising environmental effects on the Evanston campus and beyond its shores. Construction of the Lakefill began in 1962, after the University’s Board of Trustees decided that it needed to build more infrastructure to expand. To avoid displacement of Evanston locals and save money, the University decided to extend into Lake Michigan and add 74 acres of land to its then 83-acre campus. That same year, a fight raged
between the State of Indiana and Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois, a fervent conservationist. Indiana wanted to build a harbor in the Indiana Dunes, while Douglas wanted to preserve parts as a national park, going so far as to say, “The Indiana Dunes are to the Midwest what the Grand Canyon is to Arizona...once lost, their loss would be irrevocable.” Enter Northwestern, which had signed a contract with the Missouri Valley Dredging Company to obtain the
The damage is dune | ON ENVIRONMENTALISM
approximately 2 million cubic yards of sand it needed for the Lakefill. What the University didn’t know is that the sand was slated to be taken from the disputed Indiana Dunes. Douglas, furious at the proposal, accused Northwestern of committing “a brutal, anti-social act.” According to then University president J. Roscoe Miller, Northwestern was unaware that the company it contracted to build the Lakefill partnered with Bethlehem Steel to obtain sand from the dune property. Northwestern appealed to Bethlehem Steel following Douglas’s complaint, but the company did not budge. Technically, Northwestern did not source sand for the Lakefill from what would become the Indiana Dunes National Park, as that portion of the land was allocated to the state’s harbor. According to Rosemary Bush, an assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences, the negative environmental impact was not made by the creation of the Lakefill, but the destruction of the dunes. Bush says the extension into Lake Michigan did not significantly harm the lake’s ecology. “You lost 74 acres of Lake Michigan, sort of muddy lake bottom, but Lake Michigan, frankly, has bigger problems.” Bush says losing 74 acres of the lake was a small change when considering the opportunities the Lakefill grants for people to get outside on campus. Still, she says, the University could work on adding more native plant species to the Lakefill. Despite its rocky beginnings, the Lakefill has benefited the University environmentally. One of its main environmental assets is the lagoon nestled next to Norris, which acts as a cooling pond for the heated waste water released from the Central Utility Plant beside it. The lagoon minimizes the thermal pollution of the plant according to Greg Kozak, Northwestern’s director of sustainability. “In the absence of [the lagoon], you could have very large, concrete cooling towers that consume even more energy to cool that water,” Kozak says. The water used by the plant, which is responsible for heating hundreds of buildings on the Evanston campus, is drawn from Lake Michigan. Kozak believes the waste water discharged
into the lagoon is likely not contaminated with anything besides heat. “We do have a permit with the [Environmental Protection Agency] that allows us to do this, and we have to meet certain thresholds and testing parameters,” he says. “But I wouldn’t say there’s contamination in the water. That’s not something the University would do.” Also in the lagoon is a portion of water that doesn’t freeze over in the winter. This area acts as a popular
stopping point for migratory birds in the winter as it is one of the few places they can access liquid water. “We’re in the middle of a big flyway for migrating birds, being in the middle of the continent, so having that lagoon as a stopping point is actually pretty important for some of them,” Bush says. “They wouldn’t necessarily stop in the middle of Chicago if they didn’t have to. But when they have to, it makes for some really fabulous birding in the middle of the winter.”
Nicole Bassolino, second-year “[Nature is] somewhere that I naturally wind up feeling comfortable now, and feel safe in. As cheesy as it sounds, if I wind up having kids, I want them to have that kind of experience. I would want anyone to be able to experience that, and share that with people.”
A place we used to kn WRITTEN BY NBN CREATIVE TEAM // DESIGNED BY NIKITA AMIR AND EMILY CERF // PHOTOGRAPHED BY NIKITA AMIR
“We could never have loved the Earth so well, if we had no childhood in it.” George Elliot
s we get swept away by our anxieties over the environment and the future, we wanted to pause and reflect on the personal relationships that we’re trying to save. We asked a few Northwestern students how they felt when we read out this quote to them: “We could never have loved the Earth so well, if we never had a childhood in it.” We asked them what childhood memories this quote evoked and how those memories have shaped their attachments to nature. *The following quotes have been edited and condensed to reflect a portion of their stories.
“I grew up doing ballet. That was a very indoor activity, so going outside and messing around was always really fun and special. I appreciate being outside and feeling the sun and living in a world instead of just a room.”
Dana Small, first-year Tessa Paul, first-year
“We would always try to get away from the bustle and be out more in nature. There wasn’t anyone telling you that you couldn’t pick a flower, but you would not want to hurt the plant.”
Angela Evans, third-year “If I didn’t have those memories I wouldn’t have this sense of care and love toward the Earth. It’s not something I think about very often, but when I do take a step back, that was a big part of my childhood, and I want my kids to grow up in nature doing all of that too.”
Jake May, fourth-year
“For me, it was definitely the beach growing up. I grew up in Massachusetts, so there’s plenty of coastline there for me to enjoy. Just like being a little kid at my grandpa’s house on Nantucket, just being on the beach, being in the water.”
1. “I would hold onto the iron railing and lean out, look across at the sunset and feel the wind on my face, and it was warm. It smelled fresh and outdoorsy, but it also kinda smelled like my mom because she was with me at the time. I remember sitting with her. It was just like home. And then I could hear birds chirping — it was very idyllic.” 2. “I grew up in Hong Kong and Seoul a with lot of really tall buildings, like skyscrapers. Not a lot of short buildings like you see here in Evanston, it’s kind of weird for me to be able to see the sky this well.” 3. “Nowadays, with all the hustle and bustle of school, I don’t really spend a ton of time outside. Nature was a big part of my childhood, and, to me, it represents some of that childhood innocence I had.” 4. “My brother and I would always take my dog, and we’d walk in the forest. There was an old abandoned house that was really kinda cute. It was mossy and had a bunch of plants and ivy and a little stream.” 5. “I’d say there are distinct moments where I can really appreciate the world as it is around me, like nature and what it does, and just being able to appreciate the beauty of all of that. At the same time, those moments don’t come often enough. That makes them all the more compelling.” 6. “My grandpa would get us to ‘sing to the daffodils’ to give them carbon dioxide, but also so we would take the time to stop and appreciate the chaotic beauty of his garden.”
1|Shenali Perera, third-year
2|Allison Rhee, first-year
3|Dominic Groom, third-year
5|Bradley Ramos, third-year
6|Sarah Loper, second-year
4|Camryn Lemke, second-year
No place like home When Northwestern upperclassmen move off campus, some face the grim realities of housing insecurity. WRITTEN BY DANIEL ROSENZWEIG-ZIFF // DESIGNED AND ILLUSTRATED BY EMMA ESTBERG
erena Salgado’s full size bed stretches wall-to-wall in her bedroom. In the remaining space, there is a radiator and a small rolling desk, leaving Salgado, a fourth-year, just enough space to walk by. When she needs to get her clothes, she goes into the dining room, where her dresser lives. According to Evanston’s municipal code, among other standards, a one-person bedroom must be at least 70 square feet. It must be “properly maintained” by the landlord, and federal law states it must have two points of exit from the building. Salgado, co-president of Quest+, an organization that helps first-generation and low-income (FGLI) students navigate Northwestern, believes her room fits few of these criteria. In her eight-bedroom house, she thinks five may not qualify as bedrooms. One has no windows and little space to move; she sees it more as “a closet in the attic.” Because of the higher cost of more spacious and better maintained buildings, this house was one of her best options. Many FGLI Northwestern students are struggling with insufficient or insecure housing, whether that means living far from campus or barely affording rent while struggling with utility bills and poorly maintained buildings. For some, it’s hard to justify even moving off campus. While Salgado, who is FGLI, doesn’t see herself as housing insecure, she says many of her friends live in similar conditions. Nationwide, college students increasingly struggle with insecure housing, according to a growing body of research led by Katharine Broton, a University of Iowa professor who researches housing insecurity and homelessness among college students. Broton’s study found that one in 10 U.S. undergraduates are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Nationally, 45 percent of college students experience some form of housing insecurity, whether that be homelessness, living on a friend’s couch or living out of a car.
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Housing markets can also play a role in finding cheap off-campus housing. According to Director of Off-Campus Life Anthony Kirchmeier, some Evanston landlords might assess the market and invest in more luxury apartments than cheaper houses to cater to the socioeconomic makeup of the student body. College-specific data from a 2017 Equality of Opportunity Project report found that the median household income of Northwestern students was $171,200, more than double the rest of the city’s median income (according to information provided to Data USA by the U.S. Census Bureau).
No place like home | FEATURES From Salgado’s experience, cheap off-campus housing options are getting harder to find. Erika Barrios, a first-generation fourth-year, agrees. Since her mom is a real estate agent and knows realtors in the area, she easily found a cheap apartment a fiveminute walk from campus. “I know that I am fortunate to be in the apartment I have given the connections and knowledge, which is not something I ever saw play out in my life in other ways at Northwestern,” Barrios says. Throughout much of her college experience, Barrios, who says she’s from a middle class family, felt disadvantaged seeing students with college-educated parents excel where she struggled. For some FGLI students, a lack of knowledge about housing options when looking for a place to rent compounds that feeling. “Students from low-income families are at a distinct disadvantage in the private marketplace for off-campus rental housing, since landlords often require that college students have parental co-signers,” Anna Reosti, research professor at the American Bar Foundation and former Northwestern postdoc wrote in an email. “Though some may be able to find landlords willing to rent to students without deep-pocketed co-signers, the business interests of private rental housing providers largely run counter to the interests of low-income students in need of decent and affordable housing.” In second-year Nuo Chen’s experience, some landlords in Evanston require that students with only onecosigner have an income of five times the price of the lease. In an apartment of four students paying $3,400 per month, that would mean making $17,000 a month, or $204,000 per year. Because neither of Salgado’s parents went to college, she says they weren’t able to give her the kind of support throughout the housing search that many other students get. “My parents graduated high school and lived with my grandma for a long time. Once they were able to afford it, they got a house,” Salgado says. “They never had the experience of, ‘I need to get a house right now and not wait a long time,’ an experience that many
upperclassmen have had as they search for a place to live.” For Salgado, the most stressful part of living off campus was finding a cheap house. She spent hours each week viewing properties and contacting landlords while most of her housemates were abroad. She had to constantly communicate to keep them in the loop as she navigated the process in-person with one other housemate. But she also had the freedom to decide which houses the group would even consider and could propose options that were affordable for her. This searching, plus the 10 hours per week she works at her job, meant less time for her studies. Reosti says for many low-income renters, the searching process itself can be costly because of the time and financial commitments it takes to find an affordable, livable home. That said, Northwestern offers some support for students. On January 24, Quest+ and Off-Campus Life (OCL) co-sponsored an event called “Living Off-Campus with Quest+” to help students better understand the offcampus housing process. While it was open to the public, the event was primarily intended for recipients of the QuestBridge scholarship, which connects first-generation and lowincome students with elite universities. The event’s attendees fired off questions about off-campus housing to a panel of students that included Salgado and Chen, all of whom lived off campus or were in the process of finding housing. “Where do I find cheap furniture?” “How do I factor financial aid into off-campus living?” “How early should I sign my lease?” “Should I look for a big real estate company or a smaller realtor?” Why even move off campus? The last question can be one of the most difficult to answer, especially when students don’t have the familial or institutional support to navigate the process according to Robert Brown, the director of social justice education at Northwestern. When students stay on campus, all
their bills are paid in one place. They don’t have to worry as much about budgeting food and utilities or finding a liveable home. When students live off campus, where it’s possible to spend less money on housing and food, they’re likely to receive more money from scholarship refunds that they can send home, if needed. Brown believes deciding where to send money can be a difficult dynamic for many students, especially those who were contributing to family costs while living at home. Salgado says OCL and Northwestern do a decent job supporting students after they’ve signed the lease. But finding cheap housing and negotiating rent can require institutional knowledge that many students may not have, and OCL does not offer. At the Quest+ event, Kirchmeier told the story of a group who found a place to live for $400 per month per person. They signed the lease. But because of an enormous heating bill resulting from poor insulation, they paid what they would have for a nicer house. They went to OCL to talk about what to do and realized they were stuck because of the lease. So they turned off the heat. They bought electric blankets and, while they were home, didn’t leave their beds besides to go to the bathroom. “Cheaper does not mean better,” Brown says.
It just feels like a place where I sleep, rather than my bedroom. It’s not somewhere I go to relax. It has no other function than me just laying down in the bed or standing in the inch of space between my bed and my wall.” - Serena Salgado From Chen’s experience, many landlords require tenants to pay the maximum security deposit municipal law allows: 1.5 times the monthly rent. This means students need to have upwards of $1,000 ready if they want to lock down a place to live for the next year. The search process can also come with significant economic
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FEATURES | No place like home
(HUD), this leaves the students “cost burdened,” meaning more than 30 percent of their salaries goes toward rent. “Evidence demonstrates that students who lack sufficient financial aid are more likely to work more hours or forego key resources like textbooks, affecting their ability to succeed in school,” reads a February 2015 HUD report on housing insecurity among college students. “Students without access to sufficient aid might also make decisions that hurt U.S. them in the long run, such taking on higher interest undergrads as private loans or dropping out of school.” are Though there is some onhomeless campus support from Student Enrichment Services, among or are at other departments, students risk of often lack awareness of where homelessness. they can go for help. Brown says the University is making continual efforts to inform students of these resources. “For so many folks navigating costs like application fees, which housing insecurity, there can be shame Resoti says can make paying for about navigating that experience and security deposits or other move-in sharing that story,” he says. He notes expenses more difficult. that there’s a discrepancy between Summer housing, which most having the resources available and scholarships do not cover, can be students in need feeling comfortable another burden for low-income enough to use them. students. Since leases usually run for Growing up in Nevada, Salgado 12 months starting in September, saw how the University of Nevada, there is often a three-month period Las Vegas and the University of when students have no financial aid, Nevada, Reno provide subsidized unless they are taking summer courses apartment-style living to students. or working on a summer grant. At these schools, the rent is paid to Some students expressed the university, and students aren’t uncertainty of how they’d pay for required to be on a meal plan. their off-campus apartment over the Salgado says since it’s more expensive summer. One solution some students to live on-campus, it is Northwestern’s find is Northwestern’s Summer responsibility to help FGLI students Internship Grant Program (SIGP), find stable off-campus housing or which gives students a $3,000 stipend provide apartment-style living. for the summer. But this isn’t always Mark D’Arienzo, the senior associate sufficient. A $700 rent, which is among director for operations and services for the cheaper off-campus options, would Residential Services, agrees. He’s been take up 70 percent of a SIGP student’s advocating for University-owned ongrant, leaving just $300 per month for campus apartments since 1985, but utilities, food and transportation. because of different administrative According to the U.S. Department priorities (including a 10-year dormof Housing and Urban Development
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renovation plan), it hasn’t happened. This system would lesson the landlord difficulties many students experience off campus while providing maintenance support from Northwestern Facilities staff, D’Arienzo says. Plus, the same HUD report on insecure housing and higher education concluded that “students appear to be more likely to graduate if they live on campus, particularly when the on-campus experience encourages student learning and engagement.” The framing of this conversation can also have an effect on FGLI students. Though it can be difficult to manage the pressure and anxiety housing insecurity brings, Brown believes dealing with the difficulties should also be seen as a sign of a student’s resilience. “These students are strong, and these experiences can shape them in a good way,” he says. For Salgado, the most upsetting part of the issue is that she feels there is no definitive solution. Oncampus housing is expensive, so full-scholarship students receive less money in refunds. Off-campus housing is cheaper, but it often means facing difficulties with landlords without the resources to help. For Brown, it’s an issue the University must try to tackle. “We’re never, as a university, going to be able to fix or heal or resolve every family’s financial situation,” Brown says. “I think that probably extends beyond the scope of an individual institution. So students are always going to be navigating those pressures, but how do we alleviate those additional costs? … We do have a responsibility to do that.” When Salgado returns from class at night, she puts her coat and bag down in the living room. She grabs pajamas from her dresser in the dining room. For many, a bedroom is a place to decompress and relax. For Salgado, it’s neither. “It just feels like a place where I sleep, rather than my bedroom. It’s not somewhere I go to relax,” she says. “It has no other function than me just laying down in the bed or standing in the inch of space between my bed and my wall.”
Out of order | FEATURES
How Northwestern fails to support students with eating disorders. WRITTEN BY MARGARET KATES // DESIGNED BY AGNES LEE // PHOTOGRAPHED BY NIKITA AMIR
*CONTENT WARNING: This story discusses the experiences of students dealing with eating disorders.
isel* was out of options. Early winter quarter of 2017, Gisel was completing a partial hospitalization program in Chicago for an eating disorder when she received an email from Northwestern Residential Services. Because she was not a full-time student while going through treatment, she needed to vacate her dorm. Terrified, Gisel went to Residential Services and asked them to let her stay. Moving home wasn’t an option for her. But the person she needed to speak to wasn’t in the office, so she had 48 hours to figure it out on her own. “That was probably the worst experience I’ve had in Northwestern, thinking I was going to lose my housing,” Gisel says. “I was 18. I didn’t know anyone. I had no friends.” Finally, one of Gisel’s psychiatrists filed an emergency exception for her to stay in student housing. The University accepted. Northwestern students with eating disorders often need to navigate a complex web of resources and regulations, with little help from the University. In general, college students are susceptible to eating
disorders. About 13 percent of female college students and about 4 percent of male students struggle with eating disorders, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But advocates say that on-campus resources for students with eating disorders are sparse. Northwestern isn’t unique in sometimes providing insufficient resources: According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), only 22 percent of college students said there were year-round screening resources on campus. But Northwestern’s productivity culture and intense academics can worsen symptoms of an eating disorder.
The pressure to perform Supporting students with eating disorders can be particularly challenging at a place like Northwestern, according to Amanda Mueller, senior assistant director of Residential Life. “I think sometimes the pace of Northwestern, met with
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some of those pressures of achieving academically, the social pressures that exist in various spaces, that the university can allow [eating disorders] sometimes to go unseen because they look like signs of stress, of someone not eating or struggling with illness or food poisoning,” Mueller says, though she argues this trend can be seen at universities across the country. Third-year Isabella Noe, who is in recovery from an eating disorder, adds that Northwestern’s intense academics can exacerbate symptoms of eating disorders, which are often about trying to maintain control. “It’s [that] feeling of not being enough and also feeling really out of control sometimes because you have all of these assignments; you have all of these classes; you have all these extracurriculars that you’ve dedicated your time to,” she says. “And it can be really hard to find enough control in your life because that’s what eating disorders are about.” Throughout her time at Northwestern, Gisel has generally only taken two or three classes a quarter, because she struggled to manage her anxiety and eating disorder. When she was in treatment, she only took one class each quarter. “I [wasn’t] used to regulating all these emotions because they’ve been starved out for so long that I couldn’t manage more than two classes. Three was a stretch,” she says. Because of how few classes she had taken, the school put Gisel on academic probation. While she thought she could take three classes the next quarter (the minimum required to remain a full-time student), Gisel had to take four classes to get taken off probation, as mandated by the University. Unwilling to explain her circumstances to Northwestern, Gisel took four classes for one quarter, but struggled to keep up and was barely able to come off probation. Though she hasn’t been on academic probation since, she will have to stay for an extra year to complete her degree.
“I [wasn’t] used to regulating all these emotions because they’ve been starved out for so long.”
Getting help Trying to find help on campus for disordered eating can be challenging. Those struggling with eating
disorders usually have to find outside treatment options, as Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has notoriously struggled to fully meet students’ needs. Noe says she had struggled with an unhealthy relationship with food her whole life, but the stress of applying to college senior year exacerbated a cycle of binge eating and purging. However, it wasn’t until the end of her first year of college that she began seeing a therapist. Noe says she would not have been able to receive any treatment if she weren’t a sexual assault survivor, since she found her therapist through Porchlight Counseling Services, which offers free counseling to survivors of sexual assault. Porchlight limits their services to 20 free sessions, and since Noe hit that limit, she can no longer afford counseling, she says. Dr. Renee Rienecke, an adjunct associate professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine and director of research at the Eating Recovery Center, a treatment center in Chicago, stresses the importance of having a support system in place for students in treatment for eating disorders. “[Universities] should know warning signs and symptoms and things like that,” Rienecke says.
“I think universities can play an important role in identifying and getting someone into treatment.” CAPS operates the Eating Concerns Assessment and Treatment Team, a group of psychiatrists and dieticians that work together to treat students with eating disorders. According to their website, the team provides assessment services to determine if a student has an eating disorder, and consultation services to Northwestern community members worried about a student. For long-term treatment, students need to look outside the University. In Gisel’s first year, she joined the rowing team. When she mentioned an earlier diagnosis of an eating disorder on the health information form most club and varsity athletes are required to fill out, Northwestern’s Health Service referred her to CAPS. At the first appointment, a psychiatrist told her that they couldn’t handle her needs. She met with them twice more before they referred her to outside therapy. In January of that year, she began commuting daily to a hospital downtown for inpatient care, taking one class in the morning before she left campus. She remained in inpatient treatment for eight months. During this time, CAPS stopped communicating with her entirely. Afraid to tell her parents, she was left on her own. No one explained to Gisel how medical leave worked.
Out of order | FEATURES It wasn’t until this year, at the suggestion of her therapist, that she received accommodations from AccessibleNU for anxiety stemming from anorexia nervosa. “I completely don’t trust any of the Northwestern resources, and that’s largely because I had such a bad experience,” she says. “I think it made things worse my freshman year just because I felt so isolated and like a ghost walking around on campus, like no one knew what was happening.” CAPS declined a request to comment for this story.
Making accommodations Even for students who do receive treatment, Northwestern’s bureaucracy is often difficult to navigate. As a result, students sometimes don’t receive accommodations that would help them recover. During her first year, Noe asked to be exempted from the meal plan. As someone struggling with bingeeating, the buffet-style dining halls, with a variety of food available but not enough healthy options, were overwhelming and stressful. Part of coping with an eating disorder, she says, is finding healthy ways of controlling food, from always eating at the same time or knowing all of their ingredients in meals. The dining halls aren’t always conducive to those coping mechanisms. When she asked for the exemption, Northwestern wanted her to provide a diagnosis from a doctor and documentation. Noe wasn’t comfortable sharing that information. “That [felt] really invalidating and something that, as a freshman in college starting in a new place, I did not want to disclose,” Noe says. “Where I am now, I would probably fight that harder. But that’s also so far into recovery.” AccessibleNU will work with students who have learning difficulties stemming from an eating disorder. In addition, because students registered with AccessibleNU receive priority registration, students in recovery from an eating disorder can arrange their schedules to allow for consistent meal
times every day. Though many students have had largely positive experiences with AccessibleNU, not everyone can use their resources. The office usually requires documentation before they create an accommodation plan with students, though students can still ask for exceptions to this rule, according to their website. “I get it; they want to make sure that people aren’t abusing that resource,” Noe says. “But at the same time, that’s a really elitist thing to expect from a country that does not have universal healthcare or anything close.” Gisel says that, at first, she struggled to overcome the shame of having an eating disorder and feeling like she “deserved” accommodations. But balancing her recovery while taking classes has been much easier once she received them. “I told [a staff member at AccessibleNU] at the end of our meeting, ‘It’s weird to be treated like a human by Northwestern, to be treated as a person with feelings,’” she says.
Before a crisis Many organizations and campus offices create programming to prevent eating disorders or guide students into treatment before disordered eating becomes dangerous, but there’s a disconnect between the needs of struggling students and available resources. Resident Assistants (RAs), for example, receive training to learn how to look for signs of eating disorders in their residents, according to Mueller. They also learn how to report and intervene in a crisis situation, using active listening and open-ended questions. RAs are encouraged to report any concerning behavior they see to residential directors, professional staff members with more extensive training who live in some dorms. “When we do training with RAs inhouse around intentional interactions or something, we call the expectation of RAs to have conversations and get to know every member of their community, whether it’s a floor or a building,” Mueller says. But she also says RAs usually have
35 residents, while some have up to 50. It can be difficult for them to establish relationships with all of their residents. Gisel says she didn’t know her RA’s name freshman year, and they never spoke while she was in treatment. Spotting an eating disorder can be difficult, according to NEDA. Those struggling with an eating disorder have varied symptoms, including a preoccupation with food or weight, withdrawal from friends and usual activities and mood swings, among others. These signs may go unnoticed in many college students, according to Rienecke. Northwestern provides few educational opportunities to help students recognize the signs of eating
“It’s [that] feeling of not being enough and also feeling really out of control sometimes because you have all of these assignments.” - Isabella Noe
Gisel and Noe both participate in Northwestern’s Burlesque show, for example, which produces sex-positive and body-positive performances. They say Burlesque has helped them feel more comfortable in their bodies. But mental health advocates argue that the University resources need to be adjusted
“It’s weird to be treated like a human by Northwestern, to be treated disorders in their peers. There is as a person no programming during Wildcat Welcome specifically devoted to with feelings.” disordered eating. And while RAs can create a bulletin board or hold a meeting to explain the resources for students with eating disorders, they are not required to, Mueller says. This year’s Body Acceptance Week, a CAPS-run program that ran from February 23 - 28 to promote healthy body image, included seminars from University dieticians on food positivity and mindful eating, in addition to stations around campus for students to pick up pamphlets about body image. This can be difficult for students who are struggling because it requires openness about eating issues. “There is a certain level of confidentiality that you want when you’re dealing with something like that. You don’t want to just show up to the eating disorder club,” Noe says. “Having such big public events that are supposed to support body positivity or body acceptance probably isn’t the most effective way to [help students with eating disorders].”
Possible solutions Some students in recovery from eating disorders found healing outside of Northwestern’s programming.
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to support students struggling with their mental health, that students should be able to find support directly through the University. Part of that task is to reach a wide range of students, says Tejas Sekhar, co-director of ResilientNU, a student group that teaches mental wellness workshops but does not provide group therapy. He says they can only reach so many students that want to learn about mental wellness. In order to do this, he argues that Northwestern should assign all students a health and wellness advisor, whose job is to help students navigate mental health resources on campus. “You set foot on campus, and there’s your designated person to be able to talk about this kind of stuff,” Sekhar says. “It’s not necessarily therapy, but they could be like a real person, physical guide to guide you to other resources.” Rienecke also notes that involving parents and other family members is crucial to treating eating disorders. Treatment is often most effective when family is involved, she says, because those who struggle with
eating disorders are often ambivalent about getting treatment because those illnesses are “ego-syntonic,” meaning those who suffer from them may not recognize their severity. “Eating disorders are really dangerous,” she says. “And so I think to leave someone alone in going through therapy on their own is not particularly helpful. Getting parents involved, no matter where [they] live, is really important in ...getting a college student into treatment.”
A path toward healing While the recovery process is ongoing for Noe and Gisel, both have found ways to cope with their eating disorder on campus. Gisel stayed on the rowing team and says her teammates have supported her throughout her time in treatment. Noe has been able to cope with her eating disorder partially through theatre. Her freshman year, while she was struggling with her eating disorder, she participated in a show called Defining Beauty. “That was sort of the first time that I had ever really opened up about having an eating disorder, feeling sort of trapped in that and out of control,” Noe says. “I think that doing that show was in its own way a very healing process.” Now that she lives off-campus, Noe cooks her own food, which she says has been instrumental to her recovery. She loves going to the grocery store and picking out ingredients for her meals, which she couldn’t do while she was on the meal plan for her first two years at Northwestern. For Gisel, she’s more willing to accept help and work with her therapists to manage her eating disorder, which has been helpful in her ongoing recovery. “It sucks to continue to struggle, but I think I’m a little more gracious with myself about it now than I would have been this time my freshman year,” she says. *Name changed to protect students’ privacy.
finding stability *CONTENT WARNING: This story discusses in detail the experiences of students who have been hospitalized due to severe mental illness and suicidal thoughts.
Students reflect on their path to recovery and normalcy after mental health crises. WRITTEN BY SYLVIA GOODMAN // DESIGNED BY MAREN KRANKING
Keep me updated I wanna be in the loop A few minutes went by. I stared at the screen, waiting for a text back.
haha they’re sending me to the hospital now I’m gonna sob Oh Mia. Can I go with you? I don’t want you to be there alone please come please come
econds later, I threw on my coat, grabbed my phone and raced to Searle. I ran with my coat half-zipped and shoes untied. Across Sheridan Road. Down Emerson Street. Up the concrete steps. Into the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) lobby. I was ushered into the tiny office where my friend Mia Hodges
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The inpatient psychiatric ward at Northshore features what amounts to a “revolving door” of Northwestern students. was directed by Northwestern to see a CAPS therapist. It was small, with just enough room for me, Mia and the therapist. She had clearly been crying, but she hid it behind a smile. Mia has been one of my closest friends since I came to Northwestern, and I knew her well enough to see how fearful she was. I smiled back, pulled up another old paisley-patterned chair, and we waited. We talked as if nothing was wrong, because that’s what you do when you can’t think of anything else to say. I had no idea how to address the weeks of deep depression and suicidal thoughts that had landed Mia in that CAPS office in the first place. We had lapsed into silence by the time two Northwestern University Police Department (NUPD) officers came to take us to the hospital. Neither of us had been in the back of a police car before, sitting on those cold, black plastic seats. Despite their amiable smiles and apologies for the car seats and harness-like seatbelts, the police officers were there to make sure my friend couldn’t escape. How many students had they ferried to the hospital like this? I waited with Mia at the hospital for the next six hours. We watched this horrible reality TV show, Chrisley Knows Best, as a steady stream of doctors and crisis counselors asked Mia to retell her story and recount her sadness over and over again. A hospital security advisor came in
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and packed all of Mia’s belongings in sterile plastic bags, logging each item including her phone and laptop, essentially making me her only lifeline to the rest of the world: family, friends, coworkers. I called her parents and cried with them. I called my mom, who cried with me, too. I had class in the morning, and we were still waiting in emergency triage at 11 p.m. But academics paled in comparison to this. I was constantly harassing the hospital staff: How long will she have to wait here? Can you please get her dinner? Where are you keeping all of her possessions? Finally, around midnight, the immense hospital cogs finished turning. The barrage of hospital staff decided that Mia, who still kept her smile plastered on tight, needed to be on 24-hour suicide watch and stay in the psychiatric ward until further notice. I promised her that I would stay the night and sleep next to her, so she wouldn’t wake up alone. But when a nursing assistant helped her into a wheelchair and began to push her away, another nurse came over and thrust herself between us. She told us visitors’ hours the next day were from 6 to 7:30 p.m. No more than two people at a time. With that, the electronic doors swung shut and locked with a loud click. I watched through the little glass window as they rolled Mia down the hall, totally alone, and cried.
Roughly half of all lifetime mental disorders begin by the mid-teens, and three-fourths by the mid-20s, according to a widely cited 2007 Current Opinion in Psychiatry study. Without effective preventative mental healthcare, these disorders can remain untreated, and the most serious illnesses can potentially reach their most alarming symptoms: suicidal thoughts and actions. Many sufferers find the first step in getting care the hardest, according to Dr. Susan McClanahan, the chief clinical development officer and founder of Insight Behavioral Health Centers. Because of this hesitancy, mental illness can reach dangerous levels before care is sought, and at that point, inpatient psychiatric care is required. The number of people who need inhospital care consistently surpasses hospitals’ capacity to care for them. The Treatment Advocacy Center recommends 40 to 60 psychiatric beds for every 100,000 people. The U.S. averages at just under 12. The waiting period that ensues has already hurt my family, and it has undoubtedly hurt others. Being on suicide watch also creates a financial burden. Northwestern Health Insurance (NU-SHIP) funds 80 percent of inpatient medical treatment. While this covers a sizable amount, it simply doesn’t cut it for some low-
Finding stability | FEATURES
income students. Others would prefer or need to keep their mental health issues private from their parents and must cover the cost alone. According to a 2012 study from the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, a stay of between four and 11 days in the hospital for inpatient psychiatric treatment can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $9,000. And some people are encouraged to stay in intensive treatment for a full month at offsite locations with similar prices. The costs vary widely based on the medications required, condition upon entering the hospital and length of stay, among other factors. When students seek help from or are reported by faculty, staff or other students, CAPS sends them to Evanston Northshore Hospital for emergency services if they are deemed a severe danger to themselves. The inpatient psychiatric ward at Northshore features what amounts to a “revolving door” of Northwestern students. Mia told me the staff quip that when one goes out, there’s always another to take their place. McClanahan says that at Insight’s Chicago facilities, “There’s probably never a time when we don’t have some Northwestern students.” Every quarter, CAPS sends 15 to 20 Northwestern students to the hospital directly, according to CAPS Executive Director Dr. John Dunkle. This figure does not include students who get to the emergency room themselves, or who are referred by their off-campus mental healthcare provider. The presence of Northwestern students in both the inpatient psychiatric ward at Northshore Hospital and the residency program at Insight is constant. “By virtue of working at Northwestern, where we have more traditional age college students ... they’re going to be at a higher risk for the first onset of major depression or bipolar,” Dunkle says. McClanahan notes that while Northwestern students are common at Insight’s Chicago facilities, mental illness often manifests itself in early adulthood first, so college students in
general constitute a large percentage of intensive psychiatric cases. McClanahan says the prevalence of mental illness, too, has increased significantly in the past decade. “There’s no question if you look at the data on depression and anxiety,” McClanahan says. “This is a generation that is suffering more than any has in the past … I think we are seeing partially the effects of the impact of social media and technology on young people, and people are really struggling.”
Just over a year ago, during fall quarter of his sophomore year, Saul Osorio walked into his Weinberg advising appointment to talk about dropping down from three classes to two. His adviser suspected something was wrong and walked Saul to CAPS for an emergency meeting. “Bless her heart. She is amazing,” Saul says, remembering how his adviser was one of the few people who knew what was going on with him at the time. After waiting for 30 minutes in the CAPS lobby, Saul finally met with a therapist, who told him he could either pay for an Uber to the emergency room, or NUPD could drive him there. Not wanting to pay for the trip to the hospital, he opted for the police escort. Over the quarter, Saul had isolated himself from his friends, and he took the police ride to Northshore Hospital alone. Four or five hours, a doctor, nurse and crisis counselor later, Saul was given another set of alternatives: he could check into the hospital’s inpatient psychiatric unit immediately, as Mia did, or set up a meeting with Insight at one of its multiple Evanston and Chicago locations. He chose the latter. After setting a time for the call, the hospital staff let Saul go, and a police officer brought him back to campus. From there, he had to go about applying for medical leave, packing up his dorm room and figuring out insurance.
The Treatment Advocacy Center recommends
psychiatric beds for every
The U.S. averages at just under
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The process of applying for medical leave is an arduous one, especially when you already suffer from a crippling mental illness that requires intensive psychiatric treatment in a residential facility. “They did not have a bed open right away, so I had to wait another week till I could move in,” Saul says. “But that was actually a good thing, because I had to go through the whole leave of absence application process anyways.” While he was busy applying for leave, he got a call from Insight. They had a room available, and he either could accept it immediately or they would give it away to someone else. At that point, Saul didn’t even know where he was going to store the contents of his dorm room. He hadn’t yet finished his paperwork, talked to a Student Assistance and Support Services (SASS) dean or met with his adviser. He had to turn down the room and pray that another one would open up when he was ready. Throughout this process, Saul says he felt alone. “Nobody knew. Nobody but [my adviser, SASS dean and a CAPS counselor] knew I was going to go on this leave,” Saul says. “I wasn’t on suicide watch even though they felt that I was bad enough that I should be in residency. They didn’t take the initiative to think this kid might do something crazy in the week that he’s not in residency.” Saul, however, was lucky. Another room did open up, and he was able to receive care from Insight before he could do anything dangerous. However, as hospitals become more swamped and the number of inpatient psychiatric beds decline, many hospitals resort to turning patients away, according to a 2018 NBC News report, and not all patients are able to follow through with additional care.
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Northwestern relies on a system of students, staff and faculty reporters to get students the help they need, according to Northwestern Dean of Students Todd Adams. “There’s not just one office, and I think that’s on purpose. However someone comes in, you want to meet them at that point.” Adams says. “It could be that they show up at Health Services or CAPS. It could be that it’s through a referral to the Dean of Students Office; it could be an academic advisor, or Student Enrichment Services or a chaplain.” Legally, the terms “mandated reporters” or “mandatory reporters” commonly refer to people who work with minors, dependent adults or the elderly (those characterized as “vulnerable”) and are required to report any instances of abuse they suspect or are told about. Federal law obligates Northwestern faculty, staff, child care volunteers and some student employees to serve as mandatory reporters. When referring to their responsibility to report students at risk of self-harm, Resident Assistants and other student employees often misstate their status as mandatory reporters. In fact, mandatory reporters are only required to report the abuse of minors at Northwestern; they are not legally obligated to report students over 18 years old for mental health concerns. In place of a legal obligation, Adams explains that getting help for struggling community members is part of a “community expectation” of all Northwestern students and faculty. “I would expect you to help another student get access to care or a referral to figure out what the next step might be,” Adams says. “If we’re a community of care, we take care of each other, and that includes helping get people
connected … if that’s making a referral, or actually walking with them, or helping them make the call or getting online to schedule an appointment.” Both Mia and Saul were referred to treatment, neither of them taking that first step to get help by themselves. McClanahan recognizes that taking the first step in getting help is often “incredibly hard,” and following up for care is just as difficult. “I think there has to be a bit of trust and a leap of faith that there’s hope out there,” McClanahan says. “We try to hold that hope for [people] even when they don’t have hope themselves. That’s a big part of our job.”
After a quarter and a half of medical leave, Saul wanted to come back to school and pick up where he’d left off for spring quarter. He approached the CAPS psychiatrist who initially refused his request to come back to school and managed to convince her to sign off on his return from medical leave. “Thinking back on it, I was ready to come back because I didn’t want to be home anymore,” Saul says. “I was not ready for the academics. I was not ready.” What happened next was essentially a repeat of fall quarter. Saul dropped down from three to two classes and was nearly kicked out of student housing because he became a part-time student, which technically violates the student housing contract. He stopped taking his medication and failed both of his classes for the quarter. “I’d fallen back into those old habits,” he says. Adams says when a student returns from hospitalization or medical leave, they are provided with a SASS dean who meets with
Finding stability | FEATURES
them and ensures continuity of care once back at Northwestern. But there is always the danger that a student will regress in their treatment and, essentially, relapse. “Somehow with the mood and anxiety we’re still in, what I consider, an old-fashioned paradigm of crisis stabilization,” McClanahan says. McClanahan says that a more long-term residential program, on average 30 days, allows patients to “marinate” in the changes that they must make to their lives and attitudes in order to stay on course with treatment. Saul could only afford to stay in the residency for one and a half weeks for insurance reasons. The ultimate goal is to get patients back to their regular lives as quickly as possible, McClanahan says, but investing more time earlier on may result in more lasting changes, similar to prevailing philosophies surrounding substance abuse treatment or eating disorder rehabilitation.
The doors clicked shut, and I watched Mia roll down the hallway
and out of my view. After twisting through numerous corridors, going up one floor in a side elevator and wheeling through two sets of electronically locking doors, the attendant led Mia into a small, isolated room. There, a nurse strip searched her body for cuts or marks — any wound Mia could itch or reopen. They gave her new clothes and slippers; she could only wear stretch-band pants, t-shirts and laceless shoes. After her confiscated belongings were searched, any items deemed safe were placed back in her room. It was small, around the size of a dorm single. The walls were white plaster with no protrusions, and the room had little furniture. There was a small window in the door with a piece of paper taped over it that a nurse could flip up when making rounds. Mia was exhausted, but she took a shower anyway in a little alcove that didn’t have a door so the nurse could still see her. Finally, the weight of the past several months, and indeed many years, caught up to Mia, and she fell asleep. Looking back on the seven days she spent in the intensive psychiatric ward, Mia says for the
most part, she liked it there. There was no academic pressure or family stress to worry about. She even made friends with other young adults in the ward. She had a strict schedule, and she followed it. But there were other harder times, like when friends came to visit during the one-and-a-half hour visiting period, or when they called on one of the psychiatric ward’s two phone lines. “After friends would come, I would burst into tears. After and during calls,” Mia says. “That was when I realized I was in a friendly prison … I couldn’t really see them or be with them.” But Mia, like Saul, felt that getting help was the best choice she could have made. It was what she needed to do. “When I came out a week later, I was so much better,” Mia says. “I didn’t realize how bad it was until I was actually better.” If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or a mental health crisis, please call the Northshore Hospital crisis number at 847-570-2500 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
“This is a generation that is suffering more than any has in the past.”
- DR. SUSAN McCLANAHAN, chief clinical development officer and founder of Insight Behavioral Health Centers
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at ll a costs
Unclear financial aid policies at Northwestern often leave students with unanticipated costs. WRITTEN BY MICHAEL KORSH // DESIGNED BY EMILY CERF
58 | Winter 2020
hird-year Isaac Gage thought he understood his financial situation when he applied early decision to Northwestern. The first in his family to attend college, Gage needed to take out loans to cover what his college fund and parents’ income wouldn’t. After his acceptance, he received a National Merit Scholarship for $2,000 per year and a scholarship from the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation for $10,000 per year. But Gage didn’t realize that the Northwestern Undergraduate Financial Aid Office’s initial estimates didn’t factor in a policy that would change Northwestern’s affordability: scholarship displacement. Under the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965, all colleges that receive federal funding are required to include external scholarships in calculating financial need. As a result, Gage’s $12,000 in scholarships were deducted from the financial aid package Northwestern offered him. “I’m sure if the people that made that scholarship knew exactly how the money is being used, they would find that they would give it to someone else who would actually be able to use it, because it did nothing for me,” Gage says.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF COMPLEXITY The consequences of complexity In almost all of its promotional materials, the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid repeats one tagline: “Northwestern meets 100 percent of demonstrated financial need.” The math seems simple enough. Each year, Northwestern establishes its cost of attendance, while the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and CSS Profile calculate a student’s expected family contribution (EFC). To determine demonstrated financial need, Northwestern subtracts the EFC from the cost of attendance. And that need is, in theory, covered by the University. Yet the wide array of policies and requirements in determining financial need shows that the financial aid system is immensely more complex than this, according to the University’s Director of Financial Aid Phil Asbury. External scholarships are discounted through scholarship displacement. The University deducts the cost of housing from students who serve as Resident Assistants (RAs) instead of paying them a wage or stipend for the
At all costs | FEATURES
position. Students taking two or fewer classes fall under the category of parttime enrollment and will have their aid (as well as cost of attendance) reduced for the quarter. Asbury sees the University as responsible for communicating financial aid plans in clear terms. “Finances and income, cost of tuition. Those are complex in and of themselves. So any time you’re talking about the cost of college, and you’re talking about how you fund that cost, there are opportunities for lots of confusion,” Asbury says. “So if we can communicate those things in simple ways, then yes, I think that makes a big difference.” When fourth-year Dylaan Cornish asked the Financial Aid Office how much his aid would be reduced if he dropped to part-time status, they told him his aid would remain proportional to the reduced tuition. Northwestern would give him a refund of the difference in cost. But when he started classes, he found his aid to be thousands of dollars less than he’d expected. One of his grants, the Monetary Award Program (MAP) for Illinois residents, was also proportional to the number of credits he took — a fact that Cornish wasn’t aware of. The Office’s initial estimates didn’t clearly communicate that the grant was proportional. Cornish quickly added his research job as a class credit to revert himself to full-time status. “Rather than working as I want for research, I have to do a full class’s worth of [research] every week and also don’t get paid for it,” Cornish says. “And that’s the only way I could get enough of a refund to cover my rent and groceries.” When he talks to other students about financial aid, Gage notices how students who only have to deal with a single source of funding, whether that be a full scholarship or money from their parents, typically have an easier time navigating money in college. For students with multiple sources of aid, where not all need is met by federal aid or university grants, the complexity of the financial aid system takes its toll. Miscommunications within the Office, which Cornish says is usually quite helpful, led to his actual aid being much less than expected. “It’s just, again, not necessarily that they’re terrible at their job. But if something were to go wrong with that,
I don’t know if I’d be able to go to school anymore,” he says. For low-income students like Cornish, affordability was a key factor in deciding which school to attend. He always had back-up plans in case the Office was unable to follow through. “Ever since I got my first financial aid package at Northwestern, I was always very careful about how I navigate [my financial situation], just because that’s one of the deciding factors of me being able to go to school,” Cornish says.
A CONFOUNDING MODEL
A confounding model
Mark Kantrowitz is the vice president of research and publisher of savingforcollege.com. He says that financial aid systems like Northwestern’s fall under a “high cost, high aid” model — one that omits a fundamental difference in price. Northwestern’s cost of attendance for the 2019-2020 academic year is $78,654. Yet the net price, the cost a student actually pays to attend, is much lower. The average net price in the 2017-2018 school year was $27,540. This means that by factoring in financial aid, families on average paid less than half of the advertised cost to attend Northwestern. “That is misleading to the families in a way, because they look and see, ‘Oh, this college is giving us so much grant money. They must really like us.’ Well, no: they’re simply giving back the money that you otherwise would be paying, and their actual cost is the net price, which is much more reasonable,” Kantrowitz says. According to Kantrowitz, elite private institutions like Northwestern often adopt this model to maintain what’s known as the “Chivas Regal effect.” The name is taken from what was Chivas Regal whiskey. When it was first introduced, the company inflated the price to associate it with luxury, understanding that consumers too often associate price with quality. In the case of colleges, a high cost of attendance often implies
Winter 2020 | 59
“Colleges usually blame the federal government when it’s really, in most cases, the college’s own policies that cause the scholarship displacement.” Mark Kantrowitz
prestige, according to Kantrowitz. As Gage was deciding between Northwestern and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, that sense of prestige was significant. “It was more like ‘Do I want to go to a better school if I pay a little bit more?’ And I just thought, ‘Where’s the threshold of how much I should pay that’s worth it?’ I thought it was worth it for what I was going to be paying at first,” Gage says. Parents often have trouble navigating the cost of college once their child receives an acceptance letter, according to Kantrowitz. “[They] are often not willing to say ‘no’ to their children. So they often say, ‘You get in, we’ll figure out a way to pay for it.’ But once a child gets into their dream school, which might be the most expensive college in their field of study, the parents suddenly realize that they have no idea how they’re going to pay for it,” Kantrowitz says.
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Northwestern isn’t alone in this regard. While the average cost of attendance for the U.S. News and World Report’s top 25 schools was just over $74,000, students’ average net price for these schools was about $24,000. As more and more private institutions adopt the “high cost, high aid” model, Kantrowitz says the Chivas Regal effect fails to hold. “It only works if the colleges that charge these high sticker prices are few and far between. When they’re no longer rare, it doesn’t distinguish you in any way. And so you don’t really have any differentiation among the most selective colleges according to the sticker price,” Kantrowitz says. Determining a student’s financial aid involves dozens of federal, state and university policies and complex accounting formulas. Because of this, understanding the financial aid system is somewhat of a black box, where its internal workings are relatively unknown. But this is something that Asbury doesn’t necessarily see as an issue. “The need analysis is what it is, and
it’s nationally normed,” Asbury says. “Most people probably don’t want to know what their asset protection allowance is. Nor do they ever need to know that.” This lack of understanding extends beyond Northwestern. The National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) is a survey of more than 100,000 students that’s conducted every four years. The most recent survey in 2019 gave students a sixquestion test to assess how well they understand the financial aid system. Only 13 percent of undergraduates answered all six questions correctly. Kantrowitz believes that students and families should be more cognizant about colleges’ affordability. Because many students are going into debt to attend prestigious universities, he says, people should start evaluating whether an education at an elite institution is really worth the added cost. “Families will spend a lot of time looking at cars, looking at homes. They need to spend a good amount of time looking at colleges and saving for college, to make sure that they’re saving the right amount of money,” Kantrowitz says.
At all costs | FEATURES
Who’s in charge?
WHO’S IN CHARGE?
Asbury explained federal lawmakers’ rationale for scholarship displacement policies. “They believe … that federal aid will be enough to pay for your attendance,” Asbury says. “So you first bring everything that you have. Then they’ll give you federal help if you need it. If you don’t need it, if you have all these scholarships already paying for your education, then taxpayers aren’t going to fund you.” Gage says he knew of the policy’s existence, but was unaware of how dramatically it would affect his situation. “Especially when [Northwestern] says their policy about outside scholarships on their website, they said, ‘This may affect.’ And from my experience, it’s an absolute. Like, ‘We will. We’re just going to take it, and it will decrease your need-based aid,’” Gage says. According to Kantrowitz, scholarship displacement can create a disincentive for students to apply for other scholarships. “You have no net financial gain … You didn’t get the full financial benefit of your scholarship, and that’s challenging,” Kantrowitz says. Asbury says that Northwestern’s policies regarding scholarship displacement are set up to only benefit students, giving them the option to first forgo work-study or loans in place of their scholarship. In situations where external scholarships are small, Asbury says Northwestern attempts to reduce loans and work-study aid before needbased grants. But when a scholarship exceeds those, Asbury notes that there’s not much the office can do. But Kantrowitz says hiding behind the guise of merely following federal law allows for schools to save their own money. “The colleges usually blame the federal government when it’s really, in most cases, the college’s own policies that cause the scholarship displacement,” Kantrowitz says. According to him, adherence to these policies benefits colleges above all. “In most cases, what the schools are doing is using campus-based aid to fill in holes in the financial aid package because they have discretionary control over it,” Kantrowitz says. “So if a student’s over-awarded, rather than reducing the campus-based aid money — which is not the college’s money, but the government’s money — they’re
going to reduce their own grants and scholarships. Because that’s the college’s money.” Policies like these, however, have also led some low-income students to question if Northwestern administrators truly understand their experiences. That’s why, even when the evidence says otherwise, Cornish always feels like he needs a back-up plan. “It’s just something that was always in the back of my mind. This school has $11 billion to its name,” Cornish says. “All the administrators are very well off, I’m sure. Do the people who run this institution actually know what it’s like to depend on financial aid scholarships to go to school? I don’t really know.”
LOOKING TOWARD CHANGE Looking toward change
At the time of its passage, the HEA was an unprecedented, sweeping educational reform and a cornerstone of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society initiative. Yet Asbury believes the state of higher education has evolved in the 54 years since its passage. “Not to demean the federal programs — they’re very important because we have about $200 million or so in federal loans for our graduates and professional students … but the need-based grant portion of that has gotten to be really small. Ninety percent of funding for undergraduates that’s in the form of grants comes from the University,” Asbury says. “So the bulk of the money now comes from the University, not from the federal government, not from the state government. The world has changed dramatically.” The HEA is supposed to be reauthorized every four to five years, updating to remain consistent with the modern financial aid system. The law hasn’t been reauthorized since 2008. Congress has extended the authorization period since it was due in 2013, continually delaying an update.
“Do the people who run this institution actually know what it’s like to depend on financial aid? I don’t really know. Dylaan Cornish
Asbury is hopeful that the next authorization of the HEA will better reflect the modern financial aid paradigm, including tying financial aid to income instead of financial need. “That makes all the sense in the world to me, to just say, ‘If you’re a family and you make below the poverty line or below 200 percent of the poverty line, then you qualify for this federal grant. And here’s the amount, now take it wherever you want and go with it.’ That would be a perfect model in my mind,” Asbury says. Ten years ago, Asbury served on a committee that ran through the College Board to consider this exact model, and was hopeful that future policies would adopt the change. He says that the Trump administration has been less cognizant about the details of these policies than the former administration. “They don’t dive into the details like the former administration did. The former administration was really aware and knowledgeable about a lot of those things,” Asbury says With a stalemate at the national level, some states and individual universities are taking their own course of action. In 2017, Maryland enacted a law that banned scholarship displacement at public universities. For Maryland’s private institutions and the rest of the nation, though, the practice remains commonplace. On February 20, the University of Southern California announced that it would be shifting its financial aid policies toward a more income-based model. The policy’s main changes are
that families with an income below $80,000 will not pay any tuition and home ownership won’t be a factor in determining financial need. Asbury says the value of a policy such as USC’s primarily lies in its simplicity. “I think when you say, ‘We meet full financial need,’ people don’t necessarily know what financial need means. And so it does make it a little more mysterious. Whereas if you just speak in terms of family income, people know what family income means,” Asbury says. But simplicity doesn’t always mean maximizing financial support. Asbury says the complex calculations in determining financial need have enabled Northwestern to develop a policy that grants more aid than a policy like USC’s. Over the past three years, Northwestern has seen its cost of attendance rise 2 to 5 percent every year, frequently outpacing the national rate of inflation. Meanwhile, the University’s average net price has decreased by around $2,000, reifying the “high cost, high aid” model. Even when the Office makes mistakes, Cornish remains thankful for Northwestern’s financial aid system. When he was deciding which college to attend, Northwestern was the only place he could afford. “A lot of students have to pay full price, but I literally get $70,000 in financial aid each year, roughly. It’s pretty incredible. This miscommunication makes life a
little harder, but I’m pretty grateful that it’s even an option,” Cornish says. Over his first two years at Northwestern, Gage’s EFC kept increasing. That’s because his father became a partial owner of the memorabilia company he’s worked at since he was 18 — a fact that wasn’t initially reflected in his FAFSA. “If I would have known that it was going to go up every year, then I probably would not have come here,” Gage says. “But I had no way of knowing that at the time.” Having already spent two years on campus, Gage had to act quickly. Instead of accruing more student debt, he decided to graduate a year early. As he spends his last year in Evanston, Gage wonders if attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison would’ve been a better choice. With Northwestern’s prestige and name recognition, he says, it may only seem worthwhile to him years after he leaves. “I look at how much money I’ve accrued in debt and how much it’ll probably end up costing me by the time I’ve paid it all off, and it’s hard to justify where I am right now,” Gage says. “Even if I went somewhere else for four years instead of three, it would have been way less.”
“I look at how much money I’ve accrued in debt and how much it’ll probably end up costing me by the time I’ve paid it all off, and it’s hard to justify where I am right now.”
Isaac Gage, third-year
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H A N G O V E R 64 66 67 68
Predicting 2020 candidates A NU spin on romance Speeding through the sleet Pour one out for mother nature
Let’s predict which Democratic candidate you support... in the most unscientific way possible (but still better than Iowa). WRITTEN BY SHANNON COAN AND GRACE DENG // DESIGNED BY MAREN KRANKING
ANDREW YANG Gamer
What social media platform do each candidate’s supporters like the most? FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM
64 | Winter 2020
6% 3% 3%
12% 4% 4% 4%
Predicting 2020 candidates | HANGOVER
hile the 2020 presidential primary drags on, NBN is here to provide some light stereotyping of 2020 Democratic candidate supporters based on an entirely unscientific poll of Northwestern students. The results are taken from February 2020, and since then several candidates have withdrawn from the race. Not surprisingly, half of respondents who identify most with the subculture “gamer” were #YangGang. Yang also failed to gather much support with women both in our poll (he’s at 6 percent) and nationally. On the other side of the gender spectrum, Warren got only 13 percent of male respondents’ votes compared to 43 percent
of women — we’re sure it’s not because there’s “just something about her.” Like the languages Buttigieg claims he “speaks fluently,” his supporters are all over the place and would most likely have deserted their candidate at the polls. (Maybe that’s why he had to drop out.) Bernie’s supporters identified most with the subculture “hipster,” which suggests that his Brooklyn roots contribute to his “cool kid persona,” despite the fact that he started balding before most of his supporters were born. Ultimately, the predictions rang true. Northwestern is just as left-leaning as our respondents thought it would be: 71 percent went for Bernie or Warren.
We polled 91 students about their preferred candidates. These are the subcultures respondents identify with and the TV shows they like. PETE BUTTIGIEG
Tik Tok Influencer
“How I Met Your Mother”
“Game of Thrones”
Vegan VSCO Girl
“The Amazing Race”
“The West Wing” “Gilmore Girls”
What stereotypes do you associate with Northwestern students and political candidates? *taken from students’ write-in responses
“Either Econ/PoliSci Neocons or lovely cool people who unfortunately don’t know Mike Bloomberg from Mike Pompeo” “medill students be like
“woke kids liking bernie and fratstars being closeted trump supporters” IMAGES COURTESY OF CREATIVE COMMONS
“I keep seeing this one guy on tinder whose bio is “#bidenalltheway Biden 2020” “I remember in one of my poli sci classes this one guy sitting behind me muttered ‘the only students who support Bernie are non poli sci majors’ and tbh accurate” Winter 2020 | 65
A NU spin on romance NU Match aims to make college sweetheart fantasies come true. WRITTEN BY NBN STAFF // ILLUSTRATED AND DESIGNED BY CHLOE COHEN
f you knew you could find love by sending a $3 payment and completed Google form to three undergrads from the Garage, would you do it? Would you risk it all? Third-years Alex Halimi and Selin Yazici and fourth-year Arno Murciai wanted to help build romantic connections, but mostly, they wanted Northwestern students to stop being so fucking lonely and lame. The assignment in their entrepreneurship class was to make as much money as possible in two hours with only $5. The result: a pop-up matchmaking service that instantly brought the Venmo payments rolling in. “We were like, ‘Okay, we love being able to bring people together and being able to connect intimately across campus with someone that you don’t know, and how cool would that
66 | Winter 2020
be if it was spontaneous?’” Yazici says. The students created a solution for people who are tired of the endless Tinder stream of poli sci bros from Friday discussion, girls who are Virgos but swear they’re chill, everyone in SESP and bored couples who only have sex with their eyes closed, in the dark, and still think you’d want to join. On Valentine’s Day this year, interested students filled out a survey with questions like, “What’s your ideal date: Netflix and chill or going to the zoo?” But the matchmakers keep the specifics of their decisionmaking process largely a secret. “If you have somebody that envisions themselves in 10 years in a house in Evanston with three kids and a golden retriever, we’re not going to match them with a person that wants to be in Brazil, on a bike, barefoot,” Halimi says. Results of the most recent survey show that the largest demographic was femaleidentifying second-years, who probably aren’t yet jaded by how ugly all the straight men on this campus are.
Rather than just swiping left or right on dozens of different profiles, all NU Match users receive is a phone number, leaving some users with yet another source of crippling anxiety: deciding who will be the first to send the text. “All my friends were asking me, ‘What’s the first message I send?’” Halimi says. “‘Do you send a heyy, with two y’s?’” Third-year Kumail Syedain sees NU Match as more of a game than a dating app. “That’s why I didn’t really have too much hesitation in texting the person. There’s nothing to lose from NU Match,” Syedain says. Though it may seem lowstakes, the payoff for winning is incredibly high. It’s the ultimate game of roulette. If you hit the right numbers, you could meet the partner who will wait at the end of the aisle for you, and if not, you’re only out $3. “We have a ‘Last Words’ section [on the survey],” Halimi says. “For example, ‘NU Match brought me to a crazy breakup. Let’s go again.’” *Additional reporting by Sammi Boas.
Speed through the
WRITTEN BY TERESA NOWAKOWSKI AND CHRISTINE POTERMIN DESIGNED BY EMMA ESTBERG
The best routes for getting around in the cold. In order to avoid grouchy geese and the bitter cold, we do not recommend the Lakefill path.
here’s nothing like a Chicago winter to make you want to stay curled up in bed until April. However, for those too busy to hibernate, there’s no other option than to face the elements. Luckily, we at NBN have created a guide of warm routes through the bitter cold. Here you’ll find some paths, transportation and tips to get you where you need to go with (most of) your fingers and toes intact. Rock to Tech
Arch to SPAC
Walking through campus is usually your best bet to stay warm. The brutalist concrete buildings may be ugly, but they make a great wind block.
Arch to Target
Go through University Hall for a warm start, then try your chances with getting lost in Old Kellogg. Bonus points if you stop in Garrett Seminary and confess your sins.
If you can navigate the bowels of Tech, entering through a side door and exiting the front of Mudd can save you from a couple hundred yards of the elements.
The “quick and dirty” route when it comes to beating the cold. Giving into the wind tunnel that is Sheridan Road is a white-flag surrender to Mother Nature. A NOTE ON BIKES Chicago Road and Sheridan Road are your best bet because they have bike lanes (though they aren’t always salted). Don’t forget a helmet! Not only will it protect you from the harsh concrete sidewalk, it will also shield you from the throngs of pedestrians who refuse to look before crossing. Pro tip: wear boots for when you inevitably tire of “pedestrian slalom” and have to walk your bike.
Cutting through Deering Meadow is not the toastiest, but it’s technically the shortest route. So if you like freezing (or you’re running late) this route is for you.
This route takes you past the creepy Music Administration Building, so you can imagine you’re being chased by a ghost. Hopefully this will motivate you to move quickly because there are no warm buildings to get from campus to downtown. (If you wanted to be warm, you should have stayed in your dorm.)
OTHER OPTIONS For those who like to travel in a heated atmosphere, you can hop on the 201 or Campus Loop buses. But don’t forget to memorize the entire schedule — if you put your faith in the Rider app, you’ll be left to freeze. Get where you need to go without any of the fickle human interaction by taking the steam tunnels. Though technically illegal, the steam tunnel route can be very exciting. The downside: jump into the wrong underground system, and you could end up among the rats in the sewer. If you prefer to remain in the realm of legality, try huddling together with a tour group: Nothing warms the soul like the ignorant bliss of prospective students.
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POUR ONE OUT FOR MOTHER NATURE Tl;dr: play more Caps. WRITTEN BY CONNOR MADUZIA // DESIGNED BY EMILY CERF
n the dumpster outside of every fraternity is a mass grave of discarded red plastic cups and shotgunned Natty Lights, marinating in the sticky residue of watermelon Four Loko and Skol vodka. The likely culprit: drinking games. As the putrid smell suckerpunches your nostrils, an infomercialesque thought emerges. “There must be a better way.” But since Evanston has not developed adequate Red Solo cup recycling technology, these archaeological remnants of Beta Apple Pi will continue to rot in the landfill until our dying days (which, based on this winter, may be sooner than we think). A night of drinking games can go through hundreds of cups and wreak irreparable havoc on the planet. It’s time to start living in the 21st century
and be eco-conscious about your alcohol consumption. Plus, caring about the environment is all the rage. #careforclout. To help you help the planet, NBN compiled a list of some of the best and worst drinking games to play, so you can cut down on plastic consumption while upping your alcohol consumption. [After all, green Solo cups do the job just as well as red.]
Lots of Cups
These are the worst games. Avoid them at all costs.
Beer Pong, the most ubiquitous of these ball-in-cup drinking games, is
overplayed and unsustainable. One game of Beer Pong uses five cups per person and each person only drinks one beer. For the amount of plastic you’re putting into the ocean, you should at least be putting more alcohol in your body. A game can take five to 15 minutes, depending on how good everyone is. Pro tip: don’t play with that random girl who says she’s “basically a brother” even though no one knows her name. Besides, throwing balls into cups gets old.
21-Cup is an even more wasteful take on Beer Pong, played with six people instead of four. Both teams set up their beers in a triangular formation, like in beer pong, but instead of two beers and 10 cups per side, teams play with three beers and 21 cups per side. Hence
Pour one out | HANGOVER that got hit can get the ball and touch it to the table. Unlike most other drinking games, you win when you finish your beers, so you don’t have to choose between winning and getting drunk.
Cheers to the Governor:
per person this game uses, but we’ve seen seven people play with a whopping 50 to 60 cups.
If you want to be eco-friendly, but don’t want to be ostracized by your Bloomberg-supporting friends for being too granola.
Based on the namesake sport, Baseball is played by lining up four cups in a row at each end of the table and three cups spread out on each side of the table. The game follows the painfully slow motions of baseball. Teams take turns “hitting” by trying to throw the ball into one of the cups lined up on the other end of the table. This game uses 14 cups and is played by a minimum of eight people. That comes out to 1.75 cups per person, a vast improvement over any of the more fast-paced games.
the super creative name. That comes in at an astounding seven cups per person, so you’re using more cups and drinking the same tiny amount of stale beer. In summary, if the name of your drinking game is basically bragging about how many cups it uses, it’ll probably cause an environmental tragedy.
Stack Cup/Slap Cup/ Rage Cage:
Just because it has many names does not make this game more advanced. In this case, more names actually means more cups and more dead turtles, probably. These games all revolve around putting a mountain of cups in the middle of the table with an insufficient amount of beer in each, and getting rid of one each time you drink. There is no good way to accurately say how many cups
Popular in warmer climates and usually played outdoors, Beer Die uses only one full cup of beer per person. Teams take turns trying to throw dice in the air, letting them bounce off the opposing team’s side of the table, and hit the ground without the opposing team catching it. If you are scored on, you drink a little of your beer. First team to 10 wins.
Saving the planet, one blackout at a time.
If you’re afraid of change, Beer Ball lets you cling to the tradition of throwing ping pong balls while eliminating plastic consumption in a revolutionary way. Instead of cups, each player has a can of beer in front of them. The opposing team tries to hit the beer can with the ball. If they succeed, the thrower then starts drinking their beer until the team
All you need to play this game is a beer or drink of your choice. Everyone goes in a circle, counting out loud. Once someone in the group makes it to 21 everyone says, “Cheers to the governor” and a new rule is added. If you break a rule or mess up, everyone drinks and you start over at one. The game always starts with the rule that 7 and 14 are switched. The additional rules can be whatever you want. Now, if state politicians took environmental policy more seriously, that’d be the real Cheers to the Governor.
Like “Cheers to the Governor,” all you need to play this game is one beer or drink of your choice. One person starts by saying the name Harmon Killebrew (famous baseball player from the 1960s whose last name is pronounced kill-abrew). The person next to them must name a famous person whose first name starts with the letter “K.” The following player then has to name a famous person whose name starts with the first letter of the former person’s last name. Continue around the circle until someone can’t name a person. In that case, they drink. If you want to be extra hip, see how many times you can say Greta Thunberg in a round.
A game so closely connected to Northwestern that the school has its own section on the Wikipedia page, Caps might be the ultimate sustainable drinking game. For whoever has so far managed to escape this game, it is played with two glass steins full of beer set up on opposite sides of the room. Teams of two take turns attempting to throw old bottle caps into the steins. This game hits all three R’s. Reduce: Caps uses no cups, and if you can get your hands on a keg, it can potentially be can-free, too. Reuse: Caps gives a great use to old bottle caps, which are usually discarded and forgotten about. Recycle: If you do happen to use cans to fill up your steins, those can be easily recycled after the game. And if your belligerent fraternity brother breaks a stein, you can use the pieces to create a stunning mosaic. In conclusion, stop playing Beer Pong, start playing Caps.
Winter 2020 | 69
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The winter 2020 issue of North by Northwestern Magazine, published by Print Managing Editor Claire Bugos and Creative Director Nikita Amir.
Published on Mar 19, 2020
The winter 2020 issue of North by Northwestern Magazine, published by Print Managing Editor Claire Bugos and Creative Director Nikita Amir.