Page 1




P LITICAL An Independent Voice for Athens

a conversation with



MIDDLE EASTERN student experiences

page 18


CONTENTS 04 10 15

t The New Political, we have always striven to provide timely, thought-provoking reporting about government and politics on campus, in Athens and in the state of Ohio. This summer I watched my team transform our existing legacy into something fresh and inspiring. Digital Managing Editor Connor Perrett reimagined our website, the cornerstone of our identity. It has a strong focus on multimedia content, interactive web design and a satisfying user experience. Next, we interviewed new Ohio University President Duane Nellis at length for our cover story. He reaffirmed his commitment to constructive dialogue and student engagement, and commented on a variety of issues that affect the Athens community. Finally, we produced this magazine. It’s something The New Political has never attempted before, and I’m very proud of the product in your hands. Inside you’ll find Delaney Murray’s coverage of the Athens Elementary “mega school.” Then, Managing Editor Marianne Dodson examines the campus environment for Middle Eastern students. Later, Opinion Editor Zach Gheen gives his take on protest culture. These topics weren’t picked at random. They reflect our mission to expose readers to stories outside of the Ohio U bubble. They also study the political unrest of our college experience and embrace the diversity in our Athens community. At its core, political journalism is about holding leaders accountable. Over the past year, we’ve seen this play out with the national administration, but it’s important here in southeastern Ohio, too. We rely on our audience to stay alert and informed. You’ve never let us down before. And in return, you can count on The New Political to provide you with an independent voice for Athens.

Kat Tenbarge, Editor-in-Chief







21 22 KAT TENBARGE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF MARIANNE DODSON, MANAGING EDITOR CONNOR PERRETT, DIGITAL MANAGING EDITOR Marilyn Icsman Zach Gheen Kayla Wood Adriana Navarro Sarah Higgins Alexander McEvoy Nate Doughty Elizabeth Chidlow Lindsey Curnutte Catherine Hofacker

News Editor Opinion Editor Copy Chief Senior Writer Design Editor Projects Editor Senior Multimedia Producer Public Relations Director Social Media Director Staff Development Director

The New Political is an award-winning, independent publication run entirely by Ohio University students. A digital-first outlet, it is solely dedicated to covering politics and government on campus, in the city of Athens and in the state of Ohio. The New Political seeks to educate and empower the public as an independent voice for Athens. As a nonpartisan news organization, The New Political does not endorse any products, services or organizations — specifically political parties, candidates or organizations. The New Political values our nonpartisan news as the basis of our publication and will maintain a clear separation between news content and advertised content.


29 out of

presidential elections have been predicted by Ohio since 1896.

Ohio U

has over


For every one part-time faculty member at Ohio U, there are 2.3 full-time faculty members.

34.8 74.7

Athens’ AQI is significantly better than the U.S. as a whole.

BYthe numbers

ls l i b 0 4 4

Source: City Data, The New York Times, Info Please, Ohio University


The lower the Air Quality Index percentage, the better the air is.

have been adopted in the Ohio Legislature since the beginning of 2011.

student organizations. Nearly 80 percent of Athens’ residents claim no religious affiliation.

Athens is

1 of


Ohio counties that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections.

Ohio is

1 of 25

states controlled by Republicans in the Governorship, House and Senate. AUGUST 2017 / THE NEW POLITICAL MAGAZINE



RANKINGS ROUND-UP OHIO NORTHERN UNIVERSITY #1 Is It Food? #9 Election? What Election? #12 Most Conservative Students #15 Future Rotarians and Daughters of The American Revolution UNIVERSITY OF DAYTON #1 Everyone Plays Intramural Sports #2 Lots of Beers #4 Their Students Love These Colleges #12 Happiest Students #14 Students Most Engaged in Community Service #18 Best College Dorms #19 Best-Run Colleges #19 Best Campus Food MIAMI UNIVERSITY #9 Little Race/Class Interaction #10 Lots of Greek Life COLLEGE OF WOOSTER #8 Students Study the Most #9 Lots of Race/Class Interaction #10 Most Accessible Professors


he professors at Ohio University get the fourth lowest marks in the country. Or, at least, that’s what The Princeton Review would lead you to believe. In the 2018 edition of the quintessential college rankings guidebook, Ohio U was listed as #4 in “Professors Get Low Marks,” #8 in “Least Accessible Professors” and #11 in “Financial Aid Not So Great.” It did not place on the top 20 party schools list, where Tulane University currently reigns at #1. “I was shocked,” said Joseph McLaughlin, Faculty Senate Chair and English Associate Professor. “The problem that they’re identifying is certainly one that I think a lot of people who are concerned about academic quality are keenly aware of and watching and trying to be vigilant about. But, there’s no way we’re in the top ten in the country in terms of poor performance in that area.” The Princeton Review compiles its top 20 rankings over the course of each calendar year, Editor-in-Chief Robert Franek said. The process starts with an 84-question online survey that gets taken by about 350 students at each of 382 different colleges and universities. Students choose whether they agree or disagree strongly with statements on a five-point scale. For example, responses to the statement “Professors are interesting and bring their material to life” were quantified to determine that Ohio U’s faculty are the fourth worst. “There are going to be students who are at either one end of the spectrum, incredibly happy, or incredibly disgruntled,” Franek said. “It’s that great middle that we focus on, so it’s that mean of students that are saying, ‘I can be happy and I can also be critical of my experience at the same time.’ And likely, that is going to be the typical

experience for most students.” He noted that The Princeton Review has an 88 percent approval rating from students who find their school’s portrayal to be “on target” or “right on target.” McLaughlin points to data from the National Survey of Student Engagement to counter that theory, at least in Ohio U’s case. Out of 498 Ohio U seniors that were surveyed in 2014, 74 percent answered that their instructors taught course sessions in an organized way “Quite a bit” or “Very much.” That’s right on par with peer institutions, versus the drastically lower marks that The Princeton Review would insinuate. That being said, Franek stresses that his publication only ranks the top 14 or 15 percent of four-year colleges in the country, and that he holds Ohio U in “high regard.” “If you can have a substantive exchange with your admissions counselor or financial aid counselor or a student when you’re on campus, because of that ranking, that to me is now creating a very savvy college shopper,” Franek said. “But I would never want a student to cross a school off their list of consideration because of one or two ranking lists that they think are poor.” In response to The Princeton Review rankings, Ohio U spokesperson Carly Leatherwood noted that the university’s student to faculty ratio was 18 to 1 during the 2015-16 school year. That’s on par with most fouryear public colleges and universities. “We have many strengths here at Ohio University, but our signature strength is the dedication of our extraordinary, student-centered faculty,” Interim Executive Vice President and Provost David Descutner wrote in an email. “Faculty in every unit on campus care deeply and work diligently to ensure that students have abundant opportunities to realize their scholarly and civic promise.”

SCHOOL SUED FOR DISCRIMINATION ‘There was a history of abuse at Scripps College toward African-American women in leadership roles’ BY MARILYN ICSMAN


former Ohio University administrator filed a lawsuit against the university for employment discrimination in July, alleging that she was targeted for her race and sex. Michelle Ferrier, who is black, was hired by Ohio U as the Scripps College of Communication’s associate dean for innovation, research/creative activity and graduate studies. Across all of Ohio U’s campuses, there are 58 fulltime black administrators out of 1,538 total, with 53 of those at the Athens campus. Ferrier was the only black administrator in the Scripps College and notes her importance as a “role model” in the college as a black woman in the complaint. Ferrier named Scott Titsworth, the dean of Scripps, and Heather Krugman, the Chief Financial Officer and Director of Operations at Scripps, as defendants along with the university. Both are white. The complaint details Ferrier’s mistreatment while in her position, which allegedly began when Krugman “harassed and targeted” Ferrier by subjecting her to levels of scrutiny that white male administrators did not face, withholding information from her and “publicly denigrating” her in front of other faculty and staff. According to the lawsuit, Titsworth joined in on the harassment after Ferrier approached him about Krugman’s behavior, and later removed her deanship, making the majority of her job teaching rather than researching and performing administrative duties. She protested this change because she was hired as a dean and “returning to faculty would undermine her career goals and limit her growth in her desired field,” according to the complaint. Ferrier lodged an official complaint in April 2016


to the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance, which has still not issued a final ruling. Titsworth and Krugman were dismissed as defendants by the judge, and a response from the university argues that the court should rule in the university’s favor because “the complaint fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted,” “Dr. Ferrier’s claims may be barred in whole or in part by the applicable statute of limitations” and “Dr. Ferrier’s discrimination claims rest on nothing more than her own idle speculation.” Ferrier’s complaint claims that she “quickly excelled as an associate dean, earning national prestige for her research initiatives and thousands of dollars in grants for Scripps College. She also routinely received praise for her work, both within the University and from outside institutions.” While the university’s answer to the complaint acknowledges that Ferrier received one $25,000 grant while at Ohio U, it denies that she excelled as a dean

and that she received praise for her work. The response also denies that Ferrier herself faced discrimination during her time as dean, but it admits to Ferrier’s allegation that “‘there was a history of abuse at Scripps College toward African-American women in leadership roles.’” Ohio U spokesperson Carly Leatherwood said she cannot comment on ongoing litigation, but pointed out the university’s “strong commitment” to diversity retention and recruitment efforts. “In the context of diversity and inclusion, creating an environment that is supporting of everyone in the community, we have a number of programs in place, but we are in the process of examining where we’re at with our efforts of diversity and inclusions,” President Duane Nellis told The New Political in July. “We have an opportunity now to kind of reassess our efforts in that area, which I think have been strong, but there are things we could do to continue to enhance our efforts in that area.”



‘We’re not building a giant Walmart that would be the school’



he Athens City School Board has been discussing the possibility of shifting the elementary school campuses to a more consolidated model since last year. Many teachers and community members have rallied around the potential shift, but others remain concerned about what impact a change would have on students and the Athens community. No current school building holds the necessary capacity for the amount of students who are expected to attend a consolidated model. Ohio University offered a stretch of land at the Ridges if all schools were packed into one campus, which is supported by option one. This land offer, in addition to other factors, makes the first option particularly attractive to board member Chris Gerig. “I’m personally a believer that we should go with the single campus,” Gerig said. “That seems to be the option that was overwhelming supported by the teacher’s union, and Ohio University is offering the grounds to a single campus to us for free, as well as a partnership in terms of how our planning goes. So for me, that is an attractive option for us to at least consider.” A survey of Athens residents published in August regarding the community’s current perspective on consolidated schools found nearly 50 percent

opposition to each of the four proposed plans. One of the primary reasons for the shift comes from concerns that there is a prevalent socioeconomic division within the current system. Many students of the Plains Elementary School in particular are in need of more free lunch and special education services than students at the other schools, according to school board member Robert Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse also said there are issues with regulating the academic curriculum between four different schools. There are issues across the board with disability services, according to Gerig. Concern has also risen over how money is spent on maintaining current school buildings. Gerig pointed out that many have fallen into disrepair or are underoccupied to the point that costs of keeping the four buildings open may surpass that of building new campuses. The teacher’s union expressed support for the first large campus option in the past year. Other community members, however, have concerns with the idea. Jennifer Klein, who is running for school board, is in support of improving socioeconomic divisions, disability services and budgetary concerns, but is opposed to doing so with an entirely new system. “I am in favor of economic integration,” Kline said. “I don’t think we should have students living in poverty all focused in the same school. But mostly,

LEFT: The street-facing exterior of Chauncey Elementary School, one of the four slated for redesignation by the school board. RIGHT: The fenced-in playground on the far side of Chauncey. It is filled with both a towering flower garden and plastic playground equipment. Photos courtesy of Connor Perrett.

ELEMENTARY OPTIONS OPTION #1 A close-knit campus of three schools, separately housing students K-1, 2-3 and 4-5. OPTION #2 Two schools, one housing K-2, the other housing 3-5. OPTION #3 Two separate schools that each house K-5. OPTION #4 Two separate schools of K-3 followed by an integrated 4-5 school. Each plan involves moving the sixth grade class to the Athens Middle School. Each individual building in all four plans would likely have a population of 400600 students, compared to current populations between 300 and 400.

I’m in favor of all children having a small school so that adults know who they are, and I believe the best environment for children is an environment where people know their name and are looking out for them. I think you can integrate schools so that economic distribution is more equitable without making everyone go to a large school. I don’t think those two are mutually exclusive.” Although the topic has garnered substantial discussion and debate, there is still miscommunication and misunderstanding within the community. The issue of a consolidated school has been coined as the “mega-school debate” throughout Athens, but most of the steering committee’s proposals involve several small schools grouped closely together. “There is a significant misunderstanding of option one, and that has been somewhat propagated by yard signs,” Rittenhouse said. “None of the proposals involve a mega-school; we’re not building a giant Walmart that would be the school. Taking three schools that have the population we have now and putting them close together is not a megaschool.” Klein has also noticed communication issues in the Athens community, and said that some residents are

unaware of the current school proposals. “Among my neighbors, almost everyone is very aware of what’s happening,” Klein said. “But there have been at least a few people I’ve spoken to who didn’t know what I was talking about when I asked about consolidated schools. We need to listen more to people in the community to see what people are in favor of and what they need. I think we need more listening.” Rittenhouse says there are no current plans to close West Elementary school, despite some rumors suggesting otherwise. Like the other elementary school campuses, West’s role will be considered in the construction of a new school campus. In Goldsberry’s new proposed plan, the West campus may eventually be converted to a sports practice facility for the middle school. Some community members are also concerned that a new school system will result in cutting down school staff to better fit the more consolidated model. However, none of the plans currently call for a reduction of teachers. Community input on the issue is allowed at school board meetings, and a community vote may be needed on decisions going forward, particularly if the school system will need additional taxpayer funds for a new campus. Rittenhouse estimates that it will take three to five years before any sort of concrete plan comes to fruition.


Jennifer Klein,

school board candidate

TOP: A yard sign opposing the mega-school. MIDDLE: The street-facing exterior of East Elementary School. BOTTOM: Another popular yard sign declaring support for smaller school sizes. Photos courtesy of Connor Perrett.





Facebook to open $750 million facility in central Ohio

shouldn’t be too great of an environmental impact. That’s because Facebook says the facility will operate using 100 percent renewable energy. Lindsay Amos, spokesperson for Facebook, said ave you ever wondered where the photos or that the company has not made a final decision on videos you post to Facebook are stored? The answer might soon be just about 80 miles northwest of what exact type of renewable energy the Menlo Park, California-based company will use to operate its Ohio Athens. facility. She added that other Facebook data centers Facebook announced in August plans to build a use hydro, wind and soon solar power to operate. $750 million data center in New Albany, a northern The equipment inside the facility will be cooled with suburb of Ohio’s capital. outdoor air and the data center is anticipated to use 50 A data center is a facility where files, like photos percent less data than an average data center, Amos and videos, are stored remotely. So when something said. is stored on the “cloud,” it’s actually being stored at a Amos would not say whether Facebook was facility like the one to be constructed by Facebook. interested in working with a local company to install Rachel Peterson, director of Data Center Strategy whatever renewable energy source they may choose. and Development at Facebook, said the facility that This isn’t Ohio’s first rodeo into data centers. Last will span just under 1 million square feet will be year, Amazon opened three data centers in locations completed in two phases — one to be finished by just outside of 2019, the other the following year. Columbus — Hilliard, Peterson added that the facility will employ about 100 people once operational. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who joined Peterson at the August press conference, has been a proponent of expanding Ohio’s technology sector. “Ohio, as we know, has a heavy reliance on manufacturing, and we’re for that. But we also believe that manufacturing in and of itself doesn’t get the job done,” Kasich, a Republican in his final term as Ohio’s governor, said. And while the cloud is coming to Ohio, there



Dublin and New Albany. Amazon is planning to have those servers powered by a wind farm by the end of the year, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Facebook will receive about $37 million in tax incentives to build the New Albany facility, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.


A letter to the Class of 2021 from

State Representative

Jay Edwards

Each of Ohio’s 99 districts elect a state representative every two years to legislate on their behalf in the Ohio House of Representatives. During the November 2016 elections, citizens of Athens, Meigs, Washington and Vinton counties voted 27-year-old Republican Jay Edwards into the House. Previously, Democrat Debbie Phillips served her term limit of eight years. Edwards was born and grew up in Nelsonville, Ohio and received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Ohio University. In office, he has introduced House Bill 167, which would limit the dosage of prescription opiods for acute pain that physicians can prescribe. Starting this May, the House began hearings on the opioid legislation, dubbed “Daniel’s Law” in honor of a Montgomery County resident who died of a drug overdose in 2015.

elcome to Ohio University. As you begin your journey at OU, let me be among the first to say hello and wish you all the best in Athens. They say Ohio University is the place where you can be yourself and become your best self. I couldn’t agree more. At Ohio University, you’re more than a student, you’re part of Bobcat Nation – a community that reaches not only across campus and around town but throughout Ohio, across America and around the world. It seems like only yesterday that I set foot on campus for the very first time, arriving on West Green to begin my freshman year. The education I received at OU was everything I imagined it could be. And the friendships and memories are ones that will last a lifetime. Your Ohio University experience is one I hope you will treasure throughout your life as well. Today, I have the honor of representing Athens and part of Southeastern Ohio in the Ohio House of Representatives. Ohio University has a long tradition of student involvement in politics and political issues. It’s no surprise there are so many Bobcats involved in public service at all levels of government across our state and beyond. Regardless of your passions or beliefs, I’d love to hear from you. I’m frequently on or around campus enjoying a cup of coffee at many of the great local cafes. I hope you’ll take a moment to say hello, as well as follow me on social media @JayEdwardsOhio. I look forward to meeting many of you.




HOW ARE YOU? 1. What do you call the person who takes your order at a restaurant? a

Your server.


Their name, if anything.


Waiter or waitress.

4. How do you feel about safe spaces? a

2. Should the campus graffiti wall have content regulations? a

Yes, there should be rules for what counts as offensive language.


No, unless someone writes something threatening.


Absolutely not.

Being inclusive toward marginalized people.



’ s


That they’re well-liked by all sides.



Not sugarcoating the issues.

You are an expert on being politically correct and you love nothing more than that sweet, sweet inclusivity.


I can’t imagine ever needing one.



It’s a sign that people are becoming too sensitive.

I recongize that some of my experiences and attributes carry privilege.

I haven’t really thought about it very much.



I don’t believe in privilege.

6. What is a good synonym for “politically correct?” a

Social Justice Warrior

People don’t understand them. They can be really useful.

5. Do you consider yourself privileged?

3. Which of the following traits is most important to you in a political candidate? a

by Kat Tenbarge & Marilyn Icsman


’ s


Just A Little You don’t know too much about political correctness, but you don’t mind it.





’ s




PC culture is NOT for you. You prefer to say what you say, when you please, thank you very much.


DR. DUANE NELLIS by Kat Tenbarge

“If students feel like their

voice isn’t being heard, hopefully they’ll try to see me or see someone in my leadership team who might help them with whatever concerns they might have.”

Fast Facts Grew up in Montana and attended Montana State University Has a Ph.D. in geography Was previously President of Texas Tech University and the University of Idaho




& Q AP

resident Duane Nellis has one overarching goal on his agenda: listen. From the time he assumed office a little over two months ago, Nellis has been touring Ohio University’s six campuses, Athens County and the state of Ohio. He wants to hear other people’s perspectives in order to help shape his vision and shape his administration’s values around a joint set of priorities. He proudly believes in shared governance and a strong community-university relationship. We sat down with him to discuss how his principles will affect his policy. Over the past year, in light of the national administration’s policies, a lot of students at OU staged high-intensity protests. As president, how would you diffuse that tension while still respecting freedom of speech?

In one sentence, what can students expect from your presidency? I want to be visible and engaged. You’ve talked about your overarching goals in terms of reaching a higher level of national excellence. What are your short-term goals to get us there? Part of these rankings relate to perception. There are a lot of things we do well already, but I’m not sure how well the public knows about that. So in our market positioning and branding, I want to be a leader in getting the word out about what a great place this is. Not that there’s a negative perception about Ohio University, but I think we can make a difference in how people perceive us nationally. Certainly, we want to look carefully at what we’re doing and what we can do better. How will OU adapt, especially in terms of resources and housing, to a growing number of students? I want to hear input on that. I’m not necessarily saying we need to grow, although I do think we need to have strategic growth in critical areas when we have the ability to accommodate those students. So we need to think carefully about that, and that’s really where I wanted to get input on campus, and in the Athens community as well. So I need to understand that more fully.

So, first let me answer the second part of that, which is that I’m strongly committed to first amendment rights and freedom of speech. I want to be very respectful of that. For me, part of it is this whole area of accessibility and engagement and visibility. When students have concerns, I hope they’ll feel open to express those to me in a constructive way where we can have dialogue and try to work through them. I really hope to be able to engage students effectively, where they feel like they have a person who cares about their feelings, while recognizing that there are a lot of different perspectives on any issue. We can’t accommodate every concern in a way that’s satisfying to those individuals. One thing you’ve already made clear is your support of the Paris Climate Agreement. What is the administration doing to improve sustainability on campus? We have some amazing products. As an example, we have the nation’s largest composting facility at a university here in Athens. We want to continue to support those efforts and grow those efforts. But it’s also just looking at, overall, the way we use energy. The fact that we have new windows in this building after many, many years. Those are long-term needs that make the building more energy efficient, so they’re more sustainable. We continue to look at ways to use solar energy in creative ways. It’s across the spectrum in our curriculum. We can be an example for a university in our community, as well as in the state.

FUN FACTS After a long day of being president of Ohio University, what do you like to do to unwind? Well, I like being with my wife. She’s my best friend. We often kind of debrief through the day about our different experiences. But also we both enjoy reading, I love reading history. I like swimming and running and things like that. What’s your favorite movie that you’ve seen in theaters? The Pianist. It’s not necessarily a new movie, but it’s about this Jewish piano player during the Nazi occupation of Germany and he was able to survive in hiding. He was right in the heart of Warsaw, and he was barely able to survive all of that. He was an amazing pianist. Even though it’s an older movie, it was just powerful to see his talent and then the fact that he was able to survive.

Photo courtesy of Ohio University

When students have concerns, I hope they’ll feel open to express those to me in a constructive way where we can have dialogue and try to work through them. I really hope to be able to engage students effectively, where they feel like they have a person who cares about their feelings...

on DUANE NELLIS If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would you pick? I really like what I do, I feel very fortunate and blessed to have this type of opportunity. So it’s kind of hard for me to say I’d rather be ‘x’ or ‘y.’ To be a university president at a great university is really special. But certainly if there was a way that I could be in a position to help people, more broadly, for a day, at a global perspective. Anything that would help people in general, not only in our nation but across the world. Off the top of your head, what are some of your favorite books? I do enjoy reading a lot about Thomas Jefferson and there have been a variety of books about him, including “The Art of Power.” Just how he worked with people and his leadership style and ideas have been kind of inspirational.

The upcoming Sook Academic Center construction has raised questions about the balance of academic and athletic spending. How do you respond to these concerns? I think the Sook Center is a tremendous resource for the university. It serves the student athletes, many of them first-generation students who come here and are transformed by the university experience. We want to be supportive of them because we want them to be academically successful. There are very few student athletes who end up with the opportunity to go on and have a professional career in athletics. It doesn’t matter if you’re at a major Power 5 conference school or at Ohio University. So, the degree program is a crucial part and we want to make sure they have the resources and support to be successful. I think that’s a home run as far as opportunities for us. I know it has been controversial, but we raised all of that as private money. These are people who wanted to give in that way and these are also people who give to other academic programs. So, it’s not like they’re taking their money away from the academic part. I think it’s an important part of our overall academic community. Reports of rape and sexual assault on campus last year spurred a movement opposing campus rape culture. How will the administration work to further protect students and empower survivors? I think we want to continue to build our programs. Freshmen right now are required to go through training about sexual assault and response. But also from an administrative perspective, this summer and over the next few weeks my whole leadership team is going to be going through training, and we want to extend that across the university community. We just need to keep it at the forefront of doing everything we

can to create awareness and prevention as it relates to these incidents. This is not unique, though, to Ohio University. It’s truly a national issue and challenge, but we should try to be leaders in addressing this issue in a constructive way. We do have a very safe environment. We want it to be even safer for all students. You’ve talked a lot about visibility and wanting to be accessible to students on campus. What is the best way for students to get in contact with you and hear from you? Well, certainly through my office. I also get, already, emails from students and I try to be responsive and follow up on that. I think certainly there will be opportunities through public forums. I am already planning on having regular meetings with student leadership and going to Student Senate and Graduate Senate. Those are also representatives, they’re elected representatives, and they carry that voice forward to me. And certainly, if students feel like their voice isn’t being heard, hopefully they’ll try to see me or see someone in my leadership team who might help them with whatever concerns they might have. We have a great team that’s really student-centered. We all want to be available in different ways. There are different pathways, but certainly calling my office if it’s something that’s urgent. We want to hear from you. Disclaimer: Our questions and President Nellis’ answers have been edited for length and clarity.



STAFF PICKS The staff of The New Political picked some of its favorite places in Athens to eat, drink, hang out and, of course, talk about politics.

N Court St


W Union St

Kennedy Museum of Art 100 Ridges Cir, 740-593-1304 This academic art gallery has a focus on community service and often showcases work by students, faculty and local artists. Admission is always free.


S Shafer St

Athena Cinema 20 S. Court St, 740-594-7382 Along with low-cost film screenings and educational discussions, the independent movie theater offers documentary series and is a quick walk from campus.


Donkey Coffee 17 W. Washington St, 740-594-7353 Both a cozy eatery and a tiny concert venue, the shop’s Designated Space open mic nights (every Tuesday) provide an exchange of ideas in the form of poetry and prose.

04 WG








The Ridges



S Green Dr

Rich land


Casa Nueva 6 W. State St, 740-592-2016 Almost everyone in Athens loves the Mexican-inspired food at this bustling co-op, but the cantina also hosts local artists and LGBT-friendly dance nights.






Peden Stadium



Athens Farmers Market 1000 E. State St, 740-593-6763 On Saturday mornings, head out to the parking lot by Texas Roadhouse for all the produce and treats the area’s farmers, bakers, horticulturalists and more have to offer.

STUDENT SENATE Here are the big names in your representative body.

The Ohio University Student Senate roster for the next school year is expansive, with 107 positions besides President, Vice President and Treasurer. It’s hard enough to keep track of the various resolutions passed by this branch of the university governance structure. Fortunately, we’ve got insight on the key players you should know about.

Nicole Schneider Vice-President Year: Senior Major: Journalism: News & Info, Political Science Pre-Law Hometown: Amherst, OH “A large part of my role is ensuring internal cohesion in our body. My goal is for senators to feel comfortable speaking their minds in a positive and productive way, as opposing views are essential for proper representation.”

Landen Lama President

Year: Senior Major: Political Science Hometown: Lancaster, OH “My overarching goal is to be visible and supportive. Visible to all students, undergraduate, and graduate because I’m here to serve as their voice and in order to do that, I must be reachable.”

Zachary Woods Treasurer

Year: Senior Major: Biological Sciences, Pre-Medicine and Sociology Hometown: Springfield, OH “I think my goal this year is to encourage as much follow-through as I can. I want the students, faculty, and administration to know they can depend on us.”



CAMPUS ORGANIZATIONS Politics and Government Environment and Food Social Justice International 13.8 % Cultural


here are nearly 600 student organizations at Ohio University, from sororities and fraternities to club sports and media outlets like The New Political. But under that umbrella, there are 87 groups that pertain to our coverage of politics and public affairs on campus. Those include the obvious, such as Ohio University College Democrats and College Republicans. But politics include more than just political parties and student government. Our reporters cover issues relating to ideologies and identities, which include everything from race, gender and sexuality to environmental causes and social justice. Thus, we cover Student Senate but we also send reporters to events held by NextGen Climate and write articles about the Feminist Equality Movement. The pie chart to the right of this paragraph breaks down those 87 groups into five categories, and the rest of this page highlights some notable campus organizations you should know about.


Rural Action’s mission is to foster social, economic, and environmental justice in Appalachian Ohio. Rural Action builds model sustainable development projects and encourages a broad civic conversation around Appalachian Ohio’s assets in order to create sustainable development



The purpose of Open Doors is to provide educational, personal, political and social support for “LGBTQQIAAAAP+” students and allies by providing a safer space for engaging sexual and gender diversities on and off campus.


years in Athens

LGBT dance night Queer prom

outside Athens



33.3% 16.1%

Read our full profile of the Black Student Union at


Our mission is really to educate and inform the student body on issues concerning the black student population. We look at issues that are local, state and nationwide, so it can be anything from health to political issues. We do a lot of work with the administration to ensure students’ needs and voices are being heard.

Jasmyn Pearl, President

13.8 %

STUDENTS for LIBERTY Umbrella group of over 20 cultural student organizations

100 represented countries

This year, it’s ISU’s 30th anniversary, and the organization will celebrate all that ISU and international students have contributed to Ohio University over the past three decades.


We look forward to continuing to seek dialogue and inspire support... especially as it relates to resisting the new administration’s authoritarian policies, which discriminate against and target immigrants and other vulnerable or marginalized groups such as Muslim students and transgender students.

Sam Raptis, Co-president

the state of


Athens AthenCampus CampusStaff Staff Full-Time Faculty Total

Full-Time Administration Total











Other 0.3% Asian American 1.5% Hispanic 3.1% African American 5.5%

Ohio University

International 6.0% Caucasian 78.7%

Other 0.1% Asian 7.1% Hispanic 3.2% African American 4.5%

Athens County

Caucasian 82.3% 8.5 percent of Athens residents are foreign-born (3.8 percent hail from Asia)

Caucasian 82.5% African American 11.5% Hispanic 1.9%

State of Ohio

Asian 1.2% Other 0.8%

Business Owners of Ohio





Minority Business Owners 15%


Source: City Data, The New York Times, Info Please, Ohio University





hOUme away from HOME

Ohio U acts as support system for Middle Eastern students in an uncertain era



t’s not the best time to be a Muslim in America. Nor is it a great time to be coming to the United States from a country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. And it’s especially difficult if you hail from a country included in President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13769, dubbed by many as a “Muslim ban.”

But ask around on Ohio University’s campus, and said. you’ll find that many international students who fit this “They aren’t saying it in a negative way, just more description are doing just fine. so out of curiosity. Others ask in a very negative and Ohio U is home to over 24,000 students, and nearly arrogant way … but I’ve never felt like someone has 1,500 of them are international. Over 300 members of taken my culture as something against me.” the international population come from Middle Eastern Iranian graduate student Mohammad Gholami nations, and 82 students are native to countries that feels similarly, stating that since he first came to were listed on EO 13769. campus three years ago, he felt like most people Despite living in a political climate that often breeds were friendly. Gholami noted that his decision to come distrust and distaste for Arab countries and people to Ohio U was influenced by then-President Barack coming from them, students at Ohio U have felt Obama, whose administration “seemed to be more like national tensions haven’t trickled down to their welcoming.” experience in small-town Athens. The Office of Global Affairs and International Studies “For the most part at (OGAIS) recognizes THEY AREN’T SAYING IT IN A OU, there’s nothing that the importance of NEGATIVE WAY, JUST MORE SO OUT says ‘We don’t want talking about the OF CURIOSITY. OTHERS ASK IN A international students,’” political climate and VERY NEGATIVE AND ARROGANT junior studying political any potential issues WAY … BUT I’VE NEVER FELT LIKE science and sociologyit may bring students, SOMEONE HAS TAKEN MY CULTURE criminology Amal Afyouni but it also doesn’t AS SOMETHING AGAINST ME. said. want to instill fear “If anything, it’s one in students whose of the most welcoming minds are elsewhere. junior political science and environments I’ve been “One of the things sociology-crimonology student that we want to in, both international and domestic.” do is to try and be Afyouni hails from the respectful of where United Arab Emirates, where she grew up living in everyone is coming from,” OGAIS Interim Director Dubai. She was born in Texas before moving to the Diane Cahill said. Middle East, and thus holds American citizenship as “It may be that a student coming here isn’t thinking well as Jordanian citizenship. Her decision to study about that today. So bringing that up may not be the in the U.S. was easy, if not obvious, and she said best way to start out your welcome to the university.” studying in the UAE was never really on her radar. Last winter, OGAIS brought immigration attorneys Afyouni has found her experience at Ohio U from Columbus to Ohio U in the wake of Trump’s overwhelmingly positive, but she acknowledges travel ban. The attorneys held a Q&A with students, that some cultural ignorance has affected her, like faculty and staff regarding issues of immigration questions about whether she keeps herself covered or reform, and OGAIS is planning on bringing the drinks alcohol. attorneys back in the fall. “I have to teach myself to realize that some people Cahill wants to continue to provide practical help to literally don’t know anything about the culture,” Afyouni the students, but she believes it’s equally important for

Amal Afyouni,

Photo and graphic by Connor Perrett.


*As of fall 2016

the office to be a support system for students. “No matter what we do, we may still need to be there to just listen if someone is scared or nervous,” Cahill said. “No matter what you tell someone, you still have to be there in case your words aren’t enough.” OGAIS isn’t the only entity on campus that’s trying to facilitate students affected by the ban. Ohio U said it would offer free housing and dining accommodations to students who come from one of the six countries included in the ban. The financial support came from Ohio U’s Parents and Family Endowment fund, which was made specifically for students who need help in the wake of disasters. To offset tax costs that students who accepted the offer would have to pay, the local group “Baker 70” stated that they would help pay students’ taxes. The group — comprised of both students and community activists — used money that they previously raised for

their own legal costs. Some members of the Athens community feel like it’s their duty to help international students where they can, like the Athens Friends for International Students. After several years of remaining mostly dormant, the group was revitalized in the wake of recent political tensions and has sponsored events for the Athens community to reach out to international students. Gholami has experienced support due to being from a country on the travel ban and has felt sympathy coming from members of the Ohio U community. “After the executive order, our graduate chair was so sad,” Gholami said. “When I wanted him to sign my I-20 to be extended, he was just saying ‘sorry for that.’” Since the EO was announced in February, Gholami has not returned home to Iran. He hasn’t seen his family in three years, and he doesn’t envision going home before he finishes work on his thesis.

Gholami’s experience with the EO has made him wary of a permanent future in the U.S., and he doesn’t plan on staying after he graduates. He has Iranian friends who have had issues maintaining their legal status in the U.S., even after working for larger companies like Apple and Google. “I do not want to be in such an unfair situation, which does not give me and my work any credit,” Gholami said. Afyouni feels confident that she’ll stay in the U.S. post-graduation, but she doesn’t face the same hurdles as Gholami due to her dual citizenship. She’s almost certain she’ll remain in the states for law school, but for now, she’s trying not to think too much about leaving Ohio U. “I literally could not imagine myself anywhere else,” Afyouni said. “Athens is my home, literally my second home. Sometimes I consider it my first because I love it so much.”




When does a political protest go too far? “I do think there are times where we take it too far, in terms of dividing the community. If we start to villainize folks even within a movement, and it leads to divisiveness, schisms and hurt feelings… When we rally and when we protest, words do matter and words do impact people. It’s not about censoring anyone, but we need to be mindful about how we speak about things because we can marginalize even folks within the community that we’re seeking to be in solidarity with.”

delfin bautista,

LGBT Center Director

“A political protest goes too far when it violates the law or university policy.”

Jason Pina,

Vice President for Student Affairs, Interim Chief Diversity Officer

“I think there are occasions when protests can go too far. Do people have the right to protest and to voice their concerns? Yes. But they also have the responsibility to be civil about it and to be respectful about it, while they are making a statement and standing up for things that they believe in. Especially in light of [Charlottesville], being respectful of everyone’s safety.”

Christine Knisely,

Athens City Council President


Anil Srivisdha,

filmmaking graduate student


Laurel Peace,

English graduate student



hio University has a long history of student protests that seek to challenge a variety of issues both local and national. But while the protests are consistent, reactions from the university have been anything but. Earlier this year, students staged a sit-in at Baker University Center to urge the administration to declare sanctuary status for undocumented individuals. A political body declaring sanctuary status typically means local officials will not cooperate with the federal government to enforce federal immigration law. This particular protest was especially critical of university administration. On Jan. 19, then-Ohio U President Roderick McDavis released a statement supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, one that defers deportation of undocumented individuals who arrived in the United States as a child. People who utilize DACA are given a work permit so they may work until their DACA application needs to be renewed. McDavis expressed support for this program, but he did not express that same support for Ohio U to achieve sanctuary status.

‘The inconsistency of it all should shock you, no matter what your politics are’

While the administration attempted to find compromise in declaring support for DACA, it did little to calm a significant part of the student body who had real fears about the fate of undocumented people in the Athens community. The real step toward combating President Donald Trump’s plan is through

Photo courtesy of Heather Dale Willard

a refusal to aid federal officials in carrying out federal immigration law. Since Trump has voiced his desire to repeal DACA, simply sharing support for it does not do much to assuage fears. Compare the university’s approach to this most recent sit-in to one that occurred in 2014 in response to the decision not to indict the officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The inconsistencies are palpable. The protests occurred

in the same spaces and with similar amounts of people, but were met with wildly different reactions. In 2014, Baker was kept open and constructive conversations were had between protesters and university personnel. Later, in this same space, 70 individuals were arrested. The inconsistency of it all should shock you, no matter what your politics are. Student fears have to be taken seriously. Lukewarm, shouldershrugging responses will not cut it. Fears must be allayed through alterations and additional protections provided by the university bureaucracy. A consistent precedent has to be set by the university administration. How can students freely express their right of assembly if there are arbitrary decisions as to what protest is acceptable and which is not? Concessions must be made by somebody. Only time will tell who will give in first: the university or the protestors. Whatever side makes the decision to relent will color the political atmosphere of the university for the foreseeable future.



PEOPLE The New Political was co-founded in early 2011 by then-Ohio University students Andrew Zucker and David Bly. We chatted with them to get a better picture of The New Political’s history — here’s what we found out.

Disclaimer: Answers were edited for length and clarity. What was your vision for The New Political when you first started it? Andrew: Our vision was to create an online publication that would be an independent and reliable voice for Ohio University students. But one that would focus more on politics than anyone else. David and I had a feeling that students whose expertise was politics could perhaps create something special and fill a void. David: Andrew and I met each other and what we felt like was that we had a class together and there were all these great conversations about politics that were happening in these classes that all over campus, but what was lacking was having those conversations and those voices actually getting out there, so that’s what we wanted to do.

Where are they now? Here are some of the places where The New Political alumni have landed.

Andrew Zucker Co-founder

How did your experience at TNP help you in your professional career? D: After college I joined Teach for America, and so I taught for three years in Phoenix. Now I’m working at a law firm. I also had positions with the government and worked in the Senate. In every interview that I’ve had I’ve talked about it and it sort of gave me an opportunity for leadership and writing experience that got me into Teach for America in the first place. A: I would say I probably got my first job out of college in part because of our experience. Looking back six years later I’m struck by what a close-knit team we were when we first started it. To some extent that was a taste of the real world, for me given my own career choice after college as a political communicator. There’s not much better experience than having had to sit on the other side.

The New York Times NBC News Mother Jones McClatchyDC The Cincinnati Enquirer

David Bly Co-founder How does the political climate now compare to when you were in college? A: I would say that it’s worse now than anytime I could remember. Unfortunately in this frankly toxic political climate, journalists have become a punching bag just for doing their jobs. D: I think that the political climate right now is the most toxic that I’ve ever experienced. But at the same time the issues that are apart of the political climate today were issues back then too. Journalism is now more important than ever, and there were things that we covered then that we still see now.

Bloomberg News CBS News The Columbus Dispatch WCPO Cincinnati The Sun Sentinel & more




The New Political Magazine: August 2017  
The New Political Magazine: August 2017