FOURTH ESTATE Nov. 10, 2014 | Volume 2 Issue 10 George Mason University’s official student news outlet gmufourthestate.com | @IVEstate
A RUN AT REDEMPTION 37-year old turns life of substance abuse, debt and arrests to second chance at Mason | p. 17-19 (AMY ROSE/FOURTH ESTATE)
INSIDE: NEWS / ELECTIONS / 6 • LIFESTYLE / UNDER 21? / 11 • OPINION / INCITEMENT / 15
Photo of the Week
Nov. 4 2014-023008 / Stalking Complainant (GMU) reported ongoing unwanted contacts from a known subject (non-GMU) by electronic means. Subject lives out of state. (39/Leone) Fairfax Campus / Information Only / 11:08 p.m.
Nov. 6 2014-023172 / Drug/ Narcotic Violations Complainant (GMU) reported possible drug violation. Officers responded to subject’s (GMU) dorm room and took possession of illegal drugs and drug equipment. Subject was arrested and transported to Fairfax County ADC. (48/Bennett) Franklin Hall / cleared by arrest / 12:19 a.m.
Nov. 6 2014-023207 / Dating Violence / Simple Assault. Complainant (GMU) reported witnessing a subject (nonGMU) physically assault their significant other (GMU). Victim declined charges. Officer provided victim with information on how to get assistance from university resources regarding dating violence issues. (28/Hensley) Lincoln Hall / Closed / 3:10 a.m.
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Board of Visitors Rector and former congressman Tom Davis discusses the different electorates and breaks them down by affiliation with either the Democrats or Republicans.
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Election Recap: Republicans triumph in midterms A rundown of the 2014 Midterm Elections highlighting the biggest winners and losers, specifically the Republican takeover of Congress.
of campus Panera Bread postponed The opening of Panera Bread, originally scheduled for this month in the Johnson Center, has now been postponed to next semester due to the contractor not meeting the schedule.
Senate candidate offers alternative options for voters
Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate on the Virginia U.S. Senate ballot, visited Mason this past week to discuss his platform and plans if elected.
Letter from the EIC
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Before I actually start rambling, I wanted to give a couple of shout outs regarding this past week. First, you may have noticed from the cover story that I actually do more than scribble thoughts down that make it seem like I’m in charge around here. Thank you to Ray Niederhausen and the Niderhausen family for telling me their perspectives on a crazy life. I’m grateful to them for being so open to my questions. Read that on p. 18-20 of this issue, I’m really proud of that feature. Second, thank you to my staff, the Office of Student Media and anyone who had a part, watched or followed along the election night coverage last Tuesday. I had a great time talking politics and hopefully everyone enjoyed the production that went into it because I know lots of people in student media put a lot of effort into making sure that my goofy mug and mumbly voice was broadcast on various mediums. Now that I’ve given myself a nice transition, I want to talk about the election, its results and where we go from here. I have a passion for politics and government -- I’m a government and international politics major -- I remember my first devoted following of polls was the 2004 and 2006 elections when I was just a little boy, who wanted to be a big boy. I care about both the political decisionmaking aspect of elections, as well as the horse race that are elections because of its similarity to sports. Having said that, I can’t even begin to understand what happened on Tuesday. A disclaimer that I am pretty far left on all matters, so read this how you will. An analysis of the election results deemed this year to be the Republican ‘wave.’ The GOP took control of the U.S. Senate and had a net gain of seats in the House. Where I can’t make sense of this wave of conservatism is by looking at the progressive ballot
initiatives that got passed, such as minimum wage raises. People are seemingly voting against their own selfinterests in the name of party identification. The perception I ascribe to of the modern GOP is that their sales pitch is based on the idea that all Americans can achieve ‘The American Dream.’ That being, if you are willing to put in the hard work, you’ll find yourself in a top-tier of wage earners sooner rather than later. All of this despite the fact that there is so much evidence to the contrary. Ask any of the hundreds of thousands -- even millions -- of workers who are trapped in low-wage earning jobs because that’s how they need to get by to support themselves and their families. A January 2014 Harvard study found that over 50 years, “Contrary to popular perception, economic mobility has not changed significantly over time; however, it is consistently lower in the U.S. than in most developed countries.” The rich are getting richer and they’re convincing the public to vote so that this fact holds true. Workers need social and economic programs that the left advocates for with wage increases, raising taxes on top income earners and larger health and education coverage. It’s not reliance on government, it’s leveling the playing field for those disadvantaged against the system. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite tweets, from @crushingbort, “hmm well I’d say I’m fiscally conservative but socially very liberal, the problems are bad but their causes... their causes are very good”
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Mason professor investigates Pluto’s atmosphere A Mason astrobiology and astronomy professor is part of a NASAfunded mission to learn more about Pluto’s atmosphere. Professor Mike Summers is one of the 24 co-investigators on the New Horizons Pluto–Kuiper Belt Mission and the only person from Mason on the team. “I’ve been involved in this particular mission since about 2003,” Summers said. “We started discussing the possibility of a mission in 1994, so it’s been a good 20 years.” The other scientific investigators include organizations such as Southwest Research Institute and professors from MIT, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Washington University and the University of Colorado. According to Summers, Congress denied funding for the Pluto project in 2001, but then NASA approved funding in 2003. The spacecraft was launched in 2006, and after almost 10 years, it will reach Pluto in July 2015. “When we launched it, it was the fastest spacecraft that has ever left Earth,” Summers said. “A year later it passed through the orbit of Jupiter, which is five times the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Now we’re here at 2014 and we’re still a year away from Pluto.” The spacecraft has six instruments to photograph and study Pluto’s atmosphere. According to Summers, the goal of this mission is to know what makes up the atmosphere and surface of Pluto. “It’s about the size of a small car and it has a large antennae on one side of it, it’s pointed to Earth to communicate with,” Summer said. “On the other side, is the nuclear power package which has nuclear material that actively decays and gives off heat and that’s what power the spacecraft.”
Summers said that the science community has recently discovered that Pluto is one of many dwarf ice planets in our solar system. There could be as many as 100,000, which would make it the most common planet in our solar system. Another known characteristic of Pluto is that it is very far away, cold, small, made out of icy materials and has a large atmosphere.
According to Summers we also know that the planet is built of debris from the formation of the solar system, including comets that hit the Earth. Pluto may even be actively losing some of its atmosphere due to evaporating ice pockets. But in 2006, the International Astronomical Unit demoted Pluto from planet status. The IAU is the largest body of astronomers in the world, however their deci-
because of that Neptune is considered a planet and Pluto isn’t. So it’s a very odd type of way of defining what planets are because it matters where the planet is, not in terms of what it is,” Summers said. “Also we found that perhaps the largest number of planets in our galaxy are free floating planets [planets that have no orbit]. So according to IAU, those are not planets either. So the definition doesn’t
sion has sparked debate about Pluto amongst planetary scientists. Summers still considers Pluto a planet. “They [the IAU] came up with a criteria of what consists a planet. One thing it had to be round, it had to be an orbit around the Sun, but it also had to clear out its orbit out of other material. Well its orbit [Pluto’s] intercepts the orbit of Neptune…and
make much sense.” But Summers thinks that Pluto’s demotion to a dwarf planet has brought more interest about small planet. Planetary scientists are finding a variety of planets, including Pluto, that do not fit into the categories of terrestrial or gaseous planets. Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are terrestrial planets, and Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are the giant gas planets. “The idea of what constitutes a planet was never a question when I grew up,” Summers said. “But now… we weren’t prepared for the kind of planets we’re finding. Planets that are all water, planets that are all metal, and planets that appear to be
(LAURA BAKER/FOURTH ESTATE)
RAQUEL DESOUZA STAFF WRITER
“We know it has an atmosphere and it’s mostly methane and nitrogen and the atmosphere is very extended,” Summers said. “The atmosphere of the Earth is very thin, about 10 kilometers thick. Pluto’s atmosphere extends out about ten times its radius, so the volume of the atmosphere is about a 1,000 times the volume of the planet.”
“When we launched it, it was the fastest spacecraft that has ever left Earth. A year later it passed through the orbit of Jupiter, which is five times the distance between the Earth and Sun. Now we’re here here at 2014 and we’re still a year away from Pluto.” -Mike Summers, professor in the School of Physics, Astronomy Computational Sciences
made out of something as lightweight as Styrofoam, we find planets that are made out of diamond, we find some planets that circle two stars, some of them [circle] four stars and the diversity is almost unreal. Looking at our solar system we were never prepared for this range of planets.” So does all of this diversity mean there is life somewhere else in our solar system? Not quite. There are many planets and moons that are considered to be habitable, but that isn’t proof of other life forms. There are four places in our solar system where Earth-type microbes can be habitable. “That would be the sub surface of Mars, Europa which is a moon of Jupiter, probably Ganymede and Callisto which are other moons of Jupiter, the sub surface of Titan which is a moon of Saturn and then there are two other moons of Saturn that are small, Mimas and Enceladus, that we know have subsurface oceans,” Summers said. Water is the building block of life and there is actually more water in our solar system then previously expected. Summers said there is enough water to dup about a 100 billion oceans of water on every planet in our universe. Most of this water ends up in planets made completely out of water or dwarf ice planets, like Pluto. “To me if we have life out there that would be amazing, but if we don’t that’s pretty astonishing as well,” Summers said. “If we’re it then that’s pretty sobering, but if there’s life everywhere then that’s pretty interesting as well. So it’s like a win-win situation. Whatever we find will be exciting.” Other professors involved in the project were contacted to comment on the mission, however after two recent accidents involving NASA, they were unavailable. These accidents will not explicitly affect the Pluto mission. “The loss of the two commercial vehicles and the pilot doesn’t directly influence the Pluto mission. But that loss is significant for future plans for NASA to use commercial organizations for future missions. Many of us had detailed plans and even instrumentation under development to fly on the commercial space planes like the Virgin one that crashed,” Summers said.
11.10.2014 5 IV news Climate symposium at Mason addresses global food security GMUFOURTHESTATE.COM @IVESTATE
(LAURA BAKER/FOURTH ESTATE))
RYAN THORNTON STAFF WRITER
Mason hosted more than 170 international experts for a symposium on weather and climate extremes throughout the week of Oct. 20-24. The International symposium on Weather and Climate Extremes, Food Security and Biodiversity, sponsored by Mason, the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, took feedback from experts from around the world in order to “gather information on the best practices to cope with the increasing frequency and magnitude of weather and climate extremes, promote food security and conserve biodiversity.” These experts worked together to discuss and analyze the complex challenges associated around these problems with the intent to develop a coordinated list of recommendations for future implementation on issues surrounding global food security and healthy ecosystems. Mason professor John Qu served as a General Chair of the symposium. Qu works in the Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science and is director of the Global Environment and Natural Resources Institute. “[The symposium] brought together experts
from governments, United Nations agencies, universities and major research organizations in the United States and 15 countries around the world,” Qu said. According to the WMO, “weather and climate extremes have significant impacts on agricultural production in the major breadbaskets of the world. Crop failures lead to increased food prices, with significant implications for national economies.” Throughout the four days, participants took part in breakout sessions to encourage as much conversation as possible around the important issues. Topics covered include areas such as sustainability of natural resources, conservation of ecosystems, challenges and opportunities for sustainable food and the utilization of space technology to monitor weather and climate extremes. Following the symposium, they released a report detailing 25 comprehensive recommendations for future action on weather and climate extremes, food security and biodiversity. The report specified that “the agriculture sector must produce more food for a growing world population, which is expected to increase from 7 billion to about 9 billion by 2050.” “Comprehensive planning to reduce the economic and ecological impacts of extreme
events as well as adoption of technologies for improved land and water management to enhance water efficiency in agriculture is needed,” reads the report. “Potential approaches to success include knowledge sharing and cultivation of critical thinking, the promotion of effective tools and technologies, and proper understanding of user priorities and needs.” Some of the proposals include building better observation networks in developed countries, coordinating action across different regions and continents, devising cost-effective data reporting networks and increased investment in technologies helpful to recording weather and climate data. The report is their way of pushing for internationally coordinated action to prevent against the risks of weather and climate extremes. According to the report, “the increasing frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts, and heat waves pose potentially disastrous consequences for agriculture and food security, especially in the rain-fed areas of developing countries.” “Climate variability and climate change are impacting agriculture and global food security in every part of the world,” the report indicated. “Agriculture should recognize the importance of
biodiversity and ecosystems for its own sustainability and must find ways to protect them. Biodiversity is the source of crops and livestock as well as fish and other wild food sources and provides the diversity of these goods required for a nutritious diet.” Qu conveyed the importance of the symposium, explaining that monitoring food security on an international level needs to be a major concern “Our Earth becomes smaller and smaller with its temperature warmer and warmer. Our Earth family becomes bigger and bigger; and extreme weather and climate events occur more often. Global agriculture and food security remain a major concern,” Qu said. “During Oct. 20-24, experts from UN Agencies, governments, universities and research organizations and from private sector agencies in the United States and 15 countries around the world are getting together to discuss how to feed the world, how to care for our Earth and how to keep our Earth sustainable.”
Midterm roundup: Republicans triumph in elections RYAN THORNTON STAFF WRITER
(WALTER MARTINEZ/FOURTH ESTATE)
As the excitement around the 2014 midterm elections winds down, here’s a brief recap of the major outcomes from important races in Virginia and around the nation and what those results mean for political control. Before Tuesday, the Senate makeup stood at 53 Democratic seats and 45 Republican seats, with 2 Independents. In the election, Republicans were swept into the majority on the back of big wins in states like Colorado, North Carolina, Arkansas, Iowa and West Virginia. Louisiana, another contentious state, was sent into a runoff election because neither major candidate was able to cross the necessary 50% vote threshold. Despite uncertainty in some states, the current results give the GOP its first Senate majority in eight years, and ensure that they control both chambers of Congress for the remainder of President Barack Obama’s time in office. In Virginia, Senate candidates Mark Warner (D) and Ed Gillespie (R) ended up in a much closer race than most pundits expected - Warner was slightly ahead at the end of Election Day, although the gap remained too small to declare an immediate winner. The Associated Press held off on calling the race until Friday, three days after the election, when Gillespie officially conceded. Jennifer Victor, an assistant professor and director of the Government and International Politics degree at Mason, weighed in on the tight nature of this race. “The outcome of the Virginia Senate race was somewhat surprising. The day before Election Day polls had Warner up by 12 points, yet he barely won and the result is narrow enough that it will likely be challenged,” Victor said. “Virginia, and North Carolina, has large populations of conservative voters and it may be the case that Democrats can only win when there is a big Democratic turnout—like with Obama in 2012. Democrat’s lackluster turnout also explains why McAuliffe won by less than predicted last year.” At Mason’s polling location in Merten Hall, 560 total votes were cast, with 368 for Warner, 141 for Gillespie and 50 for Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis. Although the Senate race held many Virginians to the edge of their seats, outcomes in the House
News predicts that number will be 250 once all is said and done), which is the largest GOP House majority since the 1940s, and they came out successful in nearly all of the close gubernatorial races. In reaction to the Republican wave, Dr. Victor noted three important points demonstrating the advantages that the Republican Party enjoyed going into this election. “First,” she explained, “the party of the President nearly always loses seats during midterm elections. This happens because Americans tend to blame the president for any dissatisfaction they perceive in politics, the economy, or their lives, and attempt to correct for this by choosing the other party. “Second, President Obama’s approval ratings are quite low—around 42 percent. As the leader of his party a low approval rating hurts all members of his party. “Third, Democrats had to defend many more Senate seats and Governor’s mansions than Republicans did. These structural advantages gave Republicans a big edge and all analysts predicted good outcomes for the GOP on this basis well before Election night. Looking ahead, watch to see how well the Republican-controlled Congress and President Obama work together to pass significant legislation. There are a number of big issues that will come up in the next two years, and the 2016 elections will likely fall to the party that shows they can govern effectively and work with the other side. However, even with a need for action in important areas like immigration, tax reform and energy initiatives, Dr. Victor believes the next two years will be uneventful, policy-wise. “Despite having a majority in both chambers, the Republicans will have a hard time holding their diverse coalition together, and the probability that they will pass laws that President Obama is willing to sign is low,” Victor said. “Expect President Obama to spend a lot of time not in Washington over the next two years. He’s at his best when he’s in campaign mode, so he’ll be out ‘on the trail,’ in our neighborhoods a lot, and presidents often try to secure their legacies in foreign policy because they have more relative power in that realm.”
races were not nearly as surprising. In Disctrict 11, which includes George Mason University, incumbent Democrat Gerry Connolly escaped a challenge from Suzanne Scholte, a Republican. Mason students voted for Connolly by 343 votes to Scholte’s 168, with the remaining votes going to third party candidates or write-ins. District 10, which includes parts of Fairfax, Prince William and Manassas, as well as Loudoun, Clarke and Frederick counties, elected Republican Barbara Comstock over Democrat John Foust by a 16-point margin.
In District 8, which encompasses Arlington, parts of Fairfax, and Falls Church and Alexandria, Democrat Don Beyer won with 63% of the vote over Republican candidate Micah Edmond. Much of the national focus in this election was on control of the Senate, and rightly so – with the seven seats they picked up last night, the GOP now controls both chambers of Congress and has a lot more authority over legislative action than before. However, it’s important to note that the Republicans also increased their hold on the House of Representatives to 242 seats (NBC
7 news Computer science grads have higher earning potentials
(AMY ROSE/FOURTH ESTATE)
JULIANNE WOODSON STAFF WRITER
to teach,” Miller said. “But they add different little things based on their area of expertise.” Miller, who wants to specialize in programming and artificial intelligence, believes that the proximity to such a large base of technology companies is also extremely beneficial. “The closeness with employers does create a very practical learning environment,” Miller said. Claire Cecil, a global affairs major and computer science minor, believes that the hard work of its students is a major factor in Mason’s high ranking. “Mason graduates land such high paying jobs because they seem to generally have the dedication and passion for what they do,” Cecil said. “I’ve also noticed that Mason has tons of resources and events for students to attend in whichever subject they study.” According to Setia, these factors prepare students for the competitive and rewarding computer science industry. “Computer science is a great field because in some ways it’s one of the central fields of the 21st century,” Setia said. “Whether you’re doing biology or geography or the arts and humanities, you’re using computers.
As a computer scientist, you have a lot of options as far as careers are concerned.” Cecil considers computer science to be vital to the development of a better world. “People are dreaming up new technology as I write this, and the world always needs people who can take
that technology, pull it apart, and put it back together,” Cecil said. “I also believe that Mason in general is a special school. The attitude here is different; the people are very passionate about what they do, yet they are not only focused on grabbing grades. That really makes a difference in the kind of people who walk out of here.”
(WALTER MARTINEZ/FOURTH ESTATE)
Computer science majors have something to celebrate this week. According to a recent survey, Mason’s computer science graduates are in the top quarter of graduates nationwide by highest salary earning. The survey, conducted by the salary information website Payscale.com, reported that Mason graduates can expect to earn a $59,700 salary in their early career and $110,300 salary in the middle of their careers. The salary averages are based on computer science graduates with bachelor’s degrees that hold no other or higher degree. Overall, Mason ranked 38 out of 161 schools across the U.S. “Part of the reason why our graduates are doing well is because graduates in this area tend to have higher salaries. The cost of living is higher so salaries are correspondingly higher too,” said Sanjeev Setia, chair of the computer science department at Mason. “But it’s also the fact that our graduates are well qualified to get good jobs.” Setia, who also teaches courses in computer systems, attributes this
job-preparedness to the resources that students can take advantage of in the computer science department. “The fact that we are a large department allows us to offer courses in a wide variety of areas. We have courses in cyber security, robotics,” Setia said. “I think that’s one of the distinctive features of our program. Our course offerings are pretty diverse. A student coming here has the opportunity to take courses that a smaller department might not offer.” Setia notes that a large portion of the computer science faculty are involved in research, a fact that he says is vital to success in the classroom and in the workplace. “The students here have the opportunity to learn from faculty who are on the cutting edge,” Setia said. “It’s important to have faculty who are engaged in research, especially in a field like computer science where the field changes all the time.” John Miller, a junior computer science major, said that this access to current research is one of the draws of the program. “What I really like is that each teacher has their own little spin they put on classes. They still get across the major point of what they’re trying
IV news Mason students work with Syrian refugee children in Turkey
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HAMNA AHMAD STAFF WRITER
The Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution is organizing a weeklong course this spring that will allow students to interact with Syrian refugees. The program, which will take place near the Turkish border, is being offered for its fourth year and will take place Mar. 7-15. Michelle Everson, assistant manager for Research and Operations at CRDC says that the purpose of the trip is for students of all levels to learn about the complexities of the Syrian crisis from the perspective of refugees, civilians and activists who have experienced it firsthand. “One of the things you struggle with is the theory versus practice, and the trip really promotes the practical side of conflict resolution,” said Nousha Kabawat, the Syria Program Officer for the CRDC. “It gives students the experience to know what it is really like working in the field—it is stressful but it is also very rewarding.” The Syrian civil war is now entering its third year and the human rights violations have received much attention after Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s use of chemical weapons 2013 killed anywhere from 300-2,000
people, mainly civilians. However, both government and opposition forces are known to use extreme violence against Syrian civilians, and the practices of torture, execution and kidnapping are not uncommon, forcing many Syrians to flee their homes. According to some aid agencies, this has resulted in one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history. 9 million civilians have been displaced as a result of such widespread violence, resulting in more than 3 million registered refugees, half of whom are children. Almost 900,000 of these refugees have relocated to Turkey, where the CRDC program takes place. However, Everson says the threat of evacuation is not a concern. “If the trip were unsafe Mason would not allow us to have it,” Everson said. “The safety of our students is certainly something that we monitor and something that students are aware of. The staff are there and we have a really good sense of the situation.” Participants will stay in hotels in three major cities of Turkey: Istanbul, Gaziantep and Hatay. Both Gaziantep and Hatay are near the Turkish border with Syria. According to Marc Gopin, director of the CRDC, the CRDC works with non-governmental organizations
Gaziantep, one of the Turkish cities students will be working in. To the right on the Syrian side is Ayn al-Arab, also known as Kobani, a Kurdish city which has been besieged by ISIS.
and representatives from both the American and Syrian government to determine and assess the safety and security of each location that students travel to and is ready to change the itinerary if needed. The program is run in partnership with Project Amal ou Salam, an NGO originally started by Kabawat in July 2013 that engages Syrian refugee children in daylong workshops. In order to help them overcome the difficulties of leaving their homes and relocating to a new country, the children learn about trust and unity through different mediums such as art and games. “Project Amal ou Salam is a grassroots organization that works with Syrian refugee children to help them cope with the trauma they have sustained and give them a chance to have fun and just be kids again,” Everson said. Kabawat decided to start this organization after she participated in the CRDC’s program in March 2013, and since then it has raised around $50,000 for schools in and around Syria. “The idea of the project came after the lack of education that the refugees actually have. Focusing on the children gave me a new perspective on the conflict—eases my mind knowing that the future leaders of Syria have been
touched by this program,” Kabawat said. Aside from engaging with refugees, students will also attend daily lectures about nonviolent protests, activist work, injustice and conflict resolution in Syria taught by Gopin and Hind Kabawat, the senior program officer for Syria at the United States Institute of Peace. Students also have a chance to converse with and hear the stories of many different actors involved in the crisis, such as representatives from the Syrian regime, the opposition parties and even former political prisoners. “You have some of the most devastating conversations with these people,” said Megan O’Dwyer, a Mason senior who participated in the program in August 2014, who also mentioned that the emotional aspect of the trip was not something she was expecting. ”It is the worst thing that you could imagine someone doing to another person and it is happening and it is not even something that people will listen to. People never hear about it, Americans never hear about it, and the international community never hears about it.” Students also benefit from the flexibility of the program, which, according to Everson, can make for some very exciting changes. After a
previously arranged event fell through in the August 2014 trip, students had the unique opportunity to speak with Hadi al-Bahra, President of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. Although the flights, hotel and meals are all guaranteed, but the scheduled plan of events can be fluid. “You learn to be generally responsive to the flexibility and to the different culture,” said Becky Castellucci who participated in the program in March of 2013. Arabic skills are not necessary for participants, but the CRDC does offer a voluntary six-week crash course in Arabic focused on working with refugees before the program. Despite the preparation before the trip, O’Dwyer said that once the program started in Turkey, students were able to fully immerse themselves in the work they did with the refugee children, which was very rewarding. “A lot of these kids are orphans who have burns all over their bodies; they are disfigured and traumatized,” O’Dwyer said. “It is heartbreaking, but you give them a smile and they give back the energy. Kids with burns and scars were having fun and they loved it.”
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“Mason Recs is vying for a world record number of participants in a basketball knockout on Nov. 13” #GMU @GeorgeMasonNews George Mason News “#GMU construction is my alarm, forever and always.”
“#GMU to host #NativeAmerican #Powwow on #VeternsDay. Free #community event for all ages!”
@FFXFamilyFun Fairfax Family Fun “Want to improve time management or concentration? Come to our workshops with Learning Services, Nov. 11th, 18th & 25th at ODIME at 11:30AM!
Mason’s Quidditch Team will be competing in the World Cup in Spring.
POPULAR LAST WEEK 1 Theaters 2 How in the DC area
There are over 80 theater companies in the DC area, and many of those offer student discounts. You don’t need to go all the way to New York to see amazing theater, and you can also do it at an affordable price.
Mason Farmer’s students Market Is use Rate Brought Back MyProfessors. To Campus com Several Mason students use RateMyProfessors. com for all of their class registration decisions. In fact, they use it so much; Mason has one professor on the website’s list of top rated professors.
The Office of Sustainability has brought back the weekly farmer’s market with the help of a co-op called The Farm Table.
Keep calm and study on
(AMY ROSE/FOURTH ESTATE)
RACHEL SHUBIN STAFF WRITER
Understanding how to study for exams does not come naturally. It is something you learn from years of schooling and hard work. Of course, there are a few people who manage to skate by and end up in college with no idea how to study. That was me. It took me until the second semester of freshman year to learn how to truly study. I failed my first art history exam that I had studied for for only an hour. I thought I knew the buildings, years and terms efficiently – but as the blank test waiting to be filled in with answers stared back at me, I realized how poor quality the studying was that I had just done. It took a lot of hard work between taking notes during class, asking teachers for help and spending hours upon hours studying to go from an F to a B on my second art history exam. And ultimately I ended up with an A on the last exam because by the end of the semester, I figured out the best way to study for exams. I want to share with the ways I have improved my study skills. So here are some tips of what I have learned while studying for exams during my college career so far: For classes that meet a total of two hours and thirty minutes a week, you should spend at least that amount of time studying for the tests given in that class. And then study double the amount of class time, five hours, for midterms or finals. Take study breaks – don’t try to cram in over two hours of solid study time at once. Take short
breaks and try to relax and not stress about what to study next. Watch a music video, scroll through social media, give your mind a break Do not pull all-nighters. I repeat, do not pull all-nighters. You will not feel well when you go to take the test and therefore you might not do well. You will be so tired that you won’t be able to think straight or remember all that you have studied. Study in chunks over a couple of days and get a good night’s sleep. You would think that this tip is common sense, but so many people don’t follow it. If your teacher offers a class review, do not skip it! I cannot tell you how many people take these sessions for granted and they are usually pretty helpful. Sometimes teachers even give you hints during those reviews that will be helpful for the exam. Teachers take notice as to who cares and who does not. Attending these reviews might actually gain you some points in the long run, too! If your teacher offers office hours for review before an exam or to look over an exam, snatch that opportunity up. So many students do not go to these one-on-one sessions and they can be so helpful. Professors are happy to help students who want to help themselves. It is better to have your teacher know your name rather than just be another face in their class. Get on a personal student-professor level with your professor- the more they know get to know you, the more they will want to help you.
Partying without actually partying Bored? Here’s something to do. If your Instagram account has lost inspiration, look no further. Here is a list of some awesome and fun places that I wish I knew about before I turned 21, so I wasn’t just sitting in my dorm room. But of course, these places are great for all college students regardless of age. HANNAH MENCHHOFF ONLINE LIFESTYLE EDITOR
Flight Trampoline Park: 7200 Fullerton Rd. Springfield, Virginia What is it? It is literally a room of trampolines. How much does it cost? It costs $15 for an hour of jumping normally, however Flight is offering students who come with a Mason ID 50 percent off of their ticket. The promotion will run from Nov. 10-Dec. 31, effective Monday through Thursday. Why should I go? First of all, who does not like jumping on trampolines? That is really reason enough. Flight Trampoline is great just to go with your friends or if you have been trying to convince yourself to work out but never made it to the gym. If you have ever seen students parkouring and want to give it a try you can also take their weekly parkour class. They also have Club Flight every Friday and Saturday night if you want to jump to your favorite music and in laser lighting.
Epicure Café: 11104 Lee Hwy. Fairfax, VA What is it? A restaurant and music venue. How much does it cost? Free (however they do require that you make one food or drink purchase)
All photos: (AMY PODRAZA/FOURTH ESTATE)
Why should I go there? With a roof top deck and music open mic nights Mondays and Thursdays at 8 p.m., Epicure gives students the experience of locals trying out new music at another venue outside of the dorm balconies in the Commons. They also host a variety of other events such as a weekly trivia night, a jazz jam session, and comedy and poetry open mics.
Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA 22180 What is it? Coffee shop by day and concert venue by night (that still sells coffee) How much does it cost? Tickets tend to run between $10 to $25 (however some tickets are more so pay attention to that!).
Why should I go? Jammin Java is a relaxed setting to see some talented and lesser-known artists. Depending on the performer’s popularity it can get crowded, but everyone is friendly and enjoyable. Buy a cheap ticket for a random day of the week and you might just like what you hear. If you know the artist, there is frequently the chance to meet and talk to them after the show. If you keep an eye on their website, some fairly well known artists have also passed through here—Nick Jonas, Five for Fighting, Paramore, The Lumineers, and Bon Iver. For a throwback show, Aaron Carter will be performing tonight (Mon. Nov., 10).
Busboys and Poets: 4251 Campbell Ave. Arlington, VA (Also locations on 14th St. and 5th St. in Washington D.C.) What is it? Restaurant How much does it cost? $5 Why should I go? Instead of simply a restaurant, Busboys describes itself on their website as a “community gathering place.” Regardless of title, their food is fantastic. Much of it comes from sustainable sources, and when possible local farmers. Their menu caters to a wide variety of diets: the carnivore, the vegetarian, the vegan, and those who must keep gluten free. Busboys hosts several events throughout the week, but they are most known for their Open Mic Poetry nights. At the Arlington location, the open mic is on Mondays at 8 p.m. Get there early because it will be busy.
Bowl America: 9699 Fairfax Blvd. Fairfax, VA What is it? Bowling alley How much does it cost? Open bowling costs $5.45 per person/per game throughout the week after 6 p.m. But if you come after 9 p.m. Sun. through Thurs., it only costs $6.99 for as many games as you want until close. Shoes always costs $4.55. Why should I go? For some reason, people forget about bowling. It is a fun way to get out of the house and if you are feeling crazy there is always cosmic bowling.
Servpal: Creating a style savvy closet
(COURTSEY OF SERVPAL)
“I would be lying if I said this was a piece of cake and this happens overnight. You really have to be persistent. At the end of the day, you have to make it happen.” -Andy Nevers, Founder and CEO of Servpal
services that they offer, and you can chose from there,” Nevers said.
“I have utilized classmates, professors and StartUp Mason,” Nevers said.
“The transparency I am trying to create versus the other websites that do similar things but [on those other websites] there is not a lot of transparency, you don’t see what you are getting for your money until you actually sign up,” Nevers said.
StartUp Mason is a learning group for students, alumni, administrators and others in the Mason and D.C. Metro area dedicated to building entrepreneurs in the Mason community. They take on entrepreneurial initiatives while participating in peer-to-peer feedback sessions, mentor meetings and completing an entrepreneurship and innovation curriculum based on various business-related tools.
Nevers’ idea for this website actually started while he was attending Mason. “
SAVANNAH NORTON PRINT LIFESTYLE EDITOR
A recent graduate and eight year Marine Corps veteran has take a class project idea formed while attending Mason and turned it into a reality. In five years, Andy Nevers, founder and CEO of Servpal, hopes to see his fashtech (fashion technology) company as a household name and having a significant amount of revenue coming in. Servpal.com is an online marketplace for image professionals established in 2014. These image professionals include fashion stylists, personal shoppers and branding consultants targeting clients seeking to upgrade their image. “There is nothing currently out there that really captures what Servpal is trying to do,” Nevers said. Servpal creates a marketplace to give direct access to its clients. “You can see the image professional that you are going to be working with ahead of time, versus other services out there where you have to call someone or google around, which is a pain sometimes,” Nevers said. It creates a business tool and marketing engine for interested image professionals and gives customers an easy implement to find them. On the Servpal website, there is a space to type in the local zip code and then it brings up the image consultants nearby. “You see their profile, all of their contact information, the
I actually worked on this [idea] as a class project in one of my entrepreneurship classes,” Nevers said. He was a finance major and was minoring in entrepreneurship. “I did two years of my degree while I was still active duty,” Nevers said. “Then I finished up my last two years at Mason, so I attended George Mason from 2012 to 2014.” “When I left the Marine Corps, I noticed that I went from wearing a uniform all the time to now, ‘hey have this internship and I have to wear business casual all of the time,’” Nevers said. He wished he had someone to help him out and point him in the right direction for his daily business casual attire. This prompted Nevers to do some research. He realized that there was nothing out like what he was envisioning. Nevers is originally from Jamaica.
“David Miller is the director for that now, so I have been getting a lot of feedback from him,” Nevers said. “He was also one of my professors for one of my entrepreneurship classes and is very familiar with this concept and idea.” “I am really proud to see that it [Servpal] is coming together,” Nevers said. “Now that I am out of school and have time, everything seems to be falling into place.” Servpal is currently going through an upgrade, the website is displaying a teaser page at the moment. “It is announcing Servpal to the public saying ‘hey, Servpal is a thing, it’s an entitiy, it’s here and you are welcome to go ahead and start signing up,’” Nevers said. This next phase for Servpal will be ready on Nov. 17.
“I moved to New York as a teenager to live with my Dad and then I joined the Marine Corps there, then lived in various places in America,” Nevers said. He eventually ended up in the Washington D.C. area.
People who are signing up right now are people who are familiar with the concept of a personal stylist. Nevers is hoping to reach out to not just those who are style savvy but also people like him, a student who was curious about business casual at first.
His biggest challenge so far with building his company is timing.
“George Mason’s ‘innovation is tradition’ sets you up to think like an entrepreneur all the time,” Nevers said. “You are always thinking from a business perspective.”
“I was trying to work on it while I was still in school and I am one of those overly ambitious people,” Nevers said. “I took a lot of classes, I was taking six or seven classes a semester and trying to start a business at the same time. So that transition from school, I realized I had a bit more time on my hands and I was able to connect with the right people and put a team together.” At the beginning stages of Serpal, Nevers used some of his Mason friends and professors to get feedback and advice on his business.
Nevers said that writing business plans, reading over case studies and the hands on experience of pitching and creating your own company to his classmates in his various entrepreneur classes has given him valuable tools and has prepared him for his career so far. “I would be lying if I said this was a piece of cake and this happens overnight,” Nevers said. “You really have to be persistent. At the end of the day, you have to make it happen.”
Mason takes on capitol hill
Students are taking advantage of living near Washington D.C. Mason attracts many politically-minded students, and students interested in politics have good reason to attend a school just a metro ride away from Washington, D.C. Whether interning or just visiting, students at Mason have the chance to become very familiar with Capitol Hill. Earlier in the semester, these students were given the chance to take a look inside one of the major functions of government - Congress. Around 70 undergraduate and graduate students from Mason’s School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs were able to take a tour of America’s capital building. The tour, organized by Mason’s Center for Politics and Foreign Relations, allowed students to get an inside look into how Congress works and where they operate. Robert Guttman, the director of the center, said the tour “was a great learning experience” and “an advantage of going to school so near Washington, D.C.”
Representative Jim Moody (D-Wisconsin) led the tour, and gave some of his own insight about working for Congress. “It was a complete honor to have a tour by a former congressman, one who was very honest and genuine with his guests,” said student and public administration major Kendra Waddy. Congress happened to be in recess during the tour, which meant students were able to gain access to the House floor a privilege not granted for most tours. Representative Moody gave a talk to students on the House floor. Waddy says the tour “made things very realistic. Students were in a place where laws are passed and discussed.” The Center for Politics and Foreign Relations plans on continuing these tours on a fairly regular basis. The next tour will tentatively be in the first part of 2015, according to Guttman. Carlos Zavala, a sophomore communications major, gets the chance to see the hill every week. Zavala interns for Congressman Phil Roe, the Republican Representative for Tennessee’s first district. In the two months since Zavala has started working for the
An American success story. Started by a veteran. Continued by me.
(NIKI PAPADOGIANNAKIS/FOURTH ESTATE)
ALLISON LUNDY STAFF WRITER
congressman, he has already learned a lot. One thing that surprised him was how much constituents actually interact with their congressman’s offices. “It is overwhelming how many phone calls we get,” Zavala said. Zavala is concentrating in PR and hopes to one day become a communications director for a politician. This internship is allowing him to “test the waters” and see if this career route is really for him. At the office, Zavala answers phone calls and is in charge of getting signatures, among other tasks. One exciting moment was when he had to get signatures for a letter that was going to end up on President Obama’s desk.
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“I touched a letter that went to the President,” Zavala said. This is just one of the perks of working in a congressman’s office. Along with the opportunity to network and explore the political world, Zavala will gain much more from this internship, which he describes as “truly incredible” and “an adrenaline rush.” If you’re into politics, Mason is definitely the place to be.
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(WALTER MARTINEZ/FOURTH ESTATE)
Thoughts on the R-Word Controversy On the first Sunday in November, the Washington Redskins played an away game against the Minnesota Vikings. Being the visiting team, the Redskins were sure to have their share of opposition as they played a decent, but losing, game against the home team. However, in contrast to most NFL teams finding popular opposition, the ‘Skins had thousands of critics marching against them for a reason greater than them being the other team. Activists and groups from at least ten states held a march at the stadium in protest of the Washington team name. Assorted organizations have long denounced the team name as racist against Native Americans and protest leaders promised more demonstrations for the duration of the season. Given Washington’s current record and likelihood of making the playoffs, this vow might not actually be all that much of a commitment. Controversy over the team name has ebbed and flowed over the years, having also been talked about on our campus. Back in September, Fourth Estate interviewed Kerry Desjardins, the co-president of our Native American and Indigenous Alliance. Desjardins considered the name offensive, though there was also a grudging admonition that other Native Americans disagree. “I would argue that they’re not offended by it because they probably don’t know the history of it or have listened to it their entire lives and become desensitized to it,” Desjardins said. This claim on history can be murky, as this debate has points that are more complex than either side wants to admit. For example, Desjardins said there was a historically negative connotation, which while championed by some scholars of the past, is denounced by others. Indian language scholar Ives Goddard of the Smithsonian Institution in 2005 published a work arguing that the term was “benign” in its origins. “These are white people and Indians talking together, with the white people trying to ingratiate themselves,” noted Goddard, adding that the word “came in the most respectful context and at the highest level.” Then again, as pointed out by Esquire, a fellow Smithsonian scholar named Kevin Gover commented that its origins are irrelevant given how it came to be used. “I know how it was used. And it’s been used in a disparaging way for at least a couple of centuries. Up to and including the time I was growing up in Oklahoma,” said Gover back in June.
Gover using the modern setting for his argument also complicates things, given that Washington’s team is not the only entity that uses the name “Redskins.” There are high schools with predominantly Native American enrollees where the football team name is, you guessed it, Redskins. One example, cited by Rick Reilly in an ESPN column last year, is Kingston High School of Oklahoma, which has a 57.7 percent Native American student body. “We have two great tribes here,” commented Kingston assistant school superintendent Ron Whipkey in the column. “Chicasaw and the Choctaw. And not one member of those tribes has ever come to me or our school with a complaint. It is a prideful thing to them.” Of course, going full circle back to the Desjardins quote, maybe they are okay with the team name because they are oblivious to its vile history. It’s complicated. A whole lot of Washingtonians and those who live on the outskirts who support racial equality also support the team name. Indeed, it has been shown in several polls that Native Americans as a general group could care less one way or the other on the mascot appellation. Then again, that might be more because of the more rampant issues facing most indigenous communities in the United States. Maybe if, hopefully when, the economic and social problems befalling many Native American communities are resolved the interest in this debate will increase. Largely in response to the controversy, Redskins owner Dan Snyder established a charity to help tribal communities known as the Original Americans Foundation. If indeed most Native Americans do not care because bigger issues are facing them, and if the OAF is successful in greatly aiding said communities, one wonders if Snyder will not accidentally create a growing sense that the name should be changed. What an ironic end for the controversial team name: done in by an improving Native American population that, with major issues out of the way, can now focus on minor ones like team names and insensitive mascots. However the team name issue turns out, let it be known that the debate over that one racial mascot was one far more complicated than either side has presented. MICHAEL GRYBOSKI COLUMNIST
Free speech or incitement?
In response to one of Bill Maher’s recent anti-Islam tirades, a student group at the University of California at Berkeley petitioned the university to disinvite the talk-show host as their commencement speaker, citing Maher’s “offensive and dangerous rhetoric.” This petition, and Berkeley’s subsequent decision to not rescind Maher’s invitation in spite of the protest, has prompted many self-proclaimed guardians of liberal values to decry this petition as a restriction on free speech. A recent article on The Atlantic linked this student protest to previous student protests of their university’s commencement speakers and award recipients, such as Brandeis University’s rescinding of their honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali due to her anti-Islam rhetoric, or Condoleeza Rice’s cancellation of her speech at Rutgers as a result of student protests of her involvement in the Iraq War. The article, written by David Frum, went on to label these student movements as a “danger,” due to their restricting Maher’s right to free speech and to criticize Islam. I’m not going to bother to refute Maher’s hate speech towards Islam here, because it’s 2014 and if you’re still unable to make a distinction between political violence cloaked in the guise of religion and a 1400-year-old religious, philosophical, and legal tradition, I have nothing to say to you. But I’d like to address Maher’s anti-Islam rhetoric, or Islamophobia, within the broader context of its implications, as well as what this means for his freedom of speech. Islamophobia is not about hurt feelings. Islamophobia has real impact on human lives, and incitement to Islamophobia has become so entrenched in the West that it’s difficult to understand where to begin to describe it to someone not on the receiving end of it. At the individual level, Maher’s brand of incitement to Islamophobia led to the Wisconsin Sikh Temple shooting of 2012. Although Sikhs are not Muslims, of course, they are often perceived as Muslims, as are Arab Christians and Hindus. Also in 2012, a Hindu man was killed after being pushed onto the tracks of the subway in Queens, NY by a woman who later said, “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001...” Also in 2012, mosques were burned to the ground in Missouri and Tennessee due to arson. At the individual level, Islamophobia is a racist ideology that has everything to do with perception and nothing to do with reality, and often leads to Arabs and South Asians of
different faiths feeling unsafe in the United States. At the collective level, Maher’s brand of incitement to Islamophobia has resulted in the Iraq War, extrajudicial drone strikes in western Pakistan, veil bans, the NYPD’s spying on NYC’s Muslim community, and racial profiling at airport security. Similar to the way entrenched anti-black sentiment in the United States justified the murder of Mike Brown, age-old Islamophobic tropes justify the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in American military operations in the Middle East. “...Liberal, western culture is not just different - it’s better,” said Bill Maher, the comparison being made to the “culture” of the Muslimmajority world. This statement, with its racist, ethnocentric underpinnings, forms the basis of Islamophobia - that there is a monolithic, Other culture inherent in all Muslims (or people perceived to be Muslims.) This perceived moral superiority of the West, cloaked in the guise of rational atheism versus tribal religiosity, forms the basis of American militarism in the Middle East. It allows the Western mind to resolve the cognitive dissonance that comes along with condemning the barbaric violence of ISIS while being complicit in a war that has resulted in the barbaric deaths of more Iraqis than even ISIS has been responsible for. It allows the Western mind to justify the bombing of wedding-goers in Yemen because there was a report of a “militant” among them, regardless of the fact that the name or nature of the “militant” was never made public. It allows the Western mind to purport freedom of expression while sitting idly by while a woman wearing a face veil is ejected from the Paris Opera after cast members refused to perform because of her presence. Bill Maher’s incitement to Islamophobia isn’t criticism of Islam. It’s harmful bigotry that has a profound on those perceived to be Muslims both abroad and in the United States. When the Berkeley administration refuses to listen to its students’ voices calling for Maher’s invitation to be rescinded, they are not protecting free speech, but condoning hate speech with wide-reaching implications.
SUHAIB KHAN PRINT NEWS EDITOR
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Graphic Images of Abortion Seek To Misrepresent and Manipulate
One of the many benefits we have as students at a state university is the constitutional protection of the right to free speech on university grounds. North Plaza, the center of the Fairfax campus, has been designated a “free speech zone,” in which anybody with a message can make their message heard without fear of being asked to leave on the basis of their message’s content. Members of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, a privately funded non-profit organization, take full advantage of the free speech zone on campus every so often, using it to expose the Mason community to graphic images pertaining to abortion.
While the validity of these images is difficult to determine, as no independent medical party has vocally confirmed or denied their accuracy, the use of these images nonetheless distorts the reality of abortion and of the pro-choice movement. For starters, the graphic images often bear the word “CHOICE” at the top, insinuating that the ultimate goal of the pro-choice movement is to pressure pregnant people to have abortions. This insinuation goes directly against what it means to be pro-choice. A
pro-choice individual believes that pregnant people should have the right to decide for themselves whether to keep or terminate their pregnancies. If a pregnant person chooses freely and without pressure to parent or chooses adoption, then we support that choice, as well as the choice to have an abortion. All three options are equally valid and deserve to be preceded by factual, medically-sound information. Unfortunately, the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform does not accurately depict the reality of abortion. The premise of their organization is to compare abortion to genocide, often juxtaposing the medical procedure with images of the Holocaust, Jim Crow lynchings in the United States and the atrocities in Rwanda. Such a comparison is an insult to the victims of actual genocide. Abortion is a personal, individual medical decision, while genocide is a systemic mass killing of a national, racial, ethnic or religious group. Apart from the representative discrepancies in the Center’s images, the bottom line is that their use is nothing more than a scare tactic designed to emotionally manipulate the viewer. Images
of fetuses that are not intact, surrounded by blood and accompanied by phrases suggesting violence and genocide lead viewers to believe that legal abortion causes pain and suffering. Elective abortions are not performed on sentient fetuses (fetuses capable of feeling pain), and while a person may experience a range of emotions following an abortion, the most common of those is relief. The real pain and suffering occurs when an autonomous human being is deprived of their bodily autonomy and stripped of their ability to make an educated decision because politicians play into the scare tactics of the pro-life movement. The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform will probably continue to visit Mason with their graphic images, as is their constitutional right, but their scare tactics will have no power if we as a community denounce these tactics and refuse to engage with their harmful message ELVIRA RAZZANO COLUMNIST
A Second Chance at Life After six arrests, an upward of six figures in debt, two failed stints managing restaurants, too many family members lost, eleven years of substance abuse and then a subsequent eight ongoing years of sobriety, certain numbers could define a life. Now, at 37 years old, standing at six-foot-four and tipping the scales at a stout 240 pounds, the number that matters most to Mason junior Ray Niederhausen is two: a second chance. HAU CHU
(AMY ROSE/FOURTH ESTATE)
Originally born in New York then transplanted to Peachtree City, Ga. in the third grade, Niederhausen faced trouble adjusting to his new environment. A diagnosis of attention deficit disorder and Tourette’s syndrome in the fourth grade only exacerbated this problem. Niederhausen has always been a natural athlete. Starting out as a runner -- claiming to run a five-and-a-half minute mile at age 10 -- it was not until a friend’s push in the eighth grade that he began to play football. It was on the football field where he found relief from the stress of his life. “What I found was that it helped me to focus on something else,” Niederhausen said. “[With Tourette’s syndrome] there was always this tinge of anger, and the outlet of football kind of relieved my tension and really allowed me to go about my day. That’s when it became more of a therapy than a sport.” With a newfound focus on football, Niederhausen worked to improve at the sport and earned a scholarship to play at Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. Preordained with the build and skill set of an athlete, the piece that never fit was Niederhausen’s focus on school. By
his own account, Niederhausen “slept through high school with a 3.0 GPA,” and his lack of focus in school continued into college. This lack of focus and a preoccupation with the typical distractions college students face, Niederhausen dropped out of college after a year. But the outside distractions got too out of hand for Niederhausen and led him into a downward spiral. “Alcohol and drugs took over,” Niederhausen said. “From the time I was 18 until the time I was about 29, I was heavy into alcohol and drugs.” Finding himself back in Georgia, Niederhausen’s addiction was fueled by working two jobs, simultaneously delivering pizzas at one restaurant and making pizzas at another. For about three years, it seemed to him to be the standard protocol of heavy social drinking for someone his age. “At this time, it’s not so much hardcore alcoholism. I’m waking up, taking care of my day and drinking all night. Kind of your standard 21, 22-year old life, you know?” Niederhausen said. “Hanging out at bars, banging lots of chicks, smoking weed and shit.” In 2000, at the age of 23, the owner of the restaurant where Niederhausen was making pizzas came to him with an offer. “He said, ‘Ray, I don’t have the
money anymore and I’m going to lock the doors, but if you want to buy the restaurant, you can. I’ll sign it over to you,” Niederhausen said. “I needed a job, and I didn’t want to look for a job, so I got an attorney to look over the contracts and bought a restaurant when I was 23.” With no prior experience of business or managerial experience, Niederhausen put all his assets and effort into operating a restaurant. It was with this restaurant that gave Niederhausen a steady supply of money. He saw a lot of people come and go in his life, whom he considered friends at the time, but in actuality only enabled his ongoing substance abuse. According to Niederhausen, it was at this time that his heaviest abuse of substances occurred. Because of his substance abuse and free-wheeling attitude toward money, Niederhausen lost the restaurant in the span of two-and-a-half years. “At this point, I’m not even worried about the debt I incurred -- which put me well into six-figure debt -- or the business bridges I was burning, or the personal friendships I was burning,” Niederhausen said. While losing the restaurant and facing a growing mountain of debt, Niederhausen found himself in trouble with the law. “The legal system decided they wanted a piece of me as well, and I went ahead and got myself arrested six times. Drinking while driving, drug charges, and you know, I could’ve fought a lot of them but I never fought them. I was guilty. I did it,” Niederhausen said. “So I took my punishment, and I spent quite a bit of time in county lockup -- over a three year period, I was in there about a quarter of the time.” While Niederhausen was facing legal issues, he was dating a girl. In a half-hearted attempt to offset the influence of substances, they decided to have children. “We thought it would be a good idea, and thought it would sober me up, if we had some kids. So, I have twin boys, now nine years old and that didn’t work,” Niederhausen said. “I thought, ‘Oh yeah, this will definitely be the thing that cleans me up,’ after a couple of ill-fated stabs at rehab.” Following the birth of his twins, Niederhausen again checked into rehab. His relationship with the mother of his twins fell apart, and Niederhausen left rehab for another time, leaving behind his twin boys in Georgia. After another relapse of his substance addiction, at 26 years of age, his parents intervened and tried to light a fire under him by kicking him out of their house and subsequently out of Georgia. Niederhausen then found himself in Pensacola, Fla. for three months, living with some of the few friends he had left, John and Tabitha, and it was under their care and interest that he began an earnest attempt to put his life back together. “I credit them with keeping me alive long enough to realize that I could be some sort of contributing member to society,” Niederhausen said.
It was then that Niederhausen made a call for a lifeline to his older brother, Michael, who moved to Fairfax County to remove himself from getting caught up in Ray’s spiraling youth life. “He called me at a low point in Florida and asked me for help. I could hear in his voice that he wanted it, so I agreed to let him come up with me,” Michael Niederhausen said in an email
that he was committed to getting better. He couldn’t hide behind his intelligence and smarts and had to actually accept that he was there to get help. He embraced it for the first time,” Michael Niederhausen said. “In previous attempts, he used to toy with the psychologists and therapists. The stories are quite hilarious when he did it, but also quite sad because he wasn’t using it to get
Working in a kitchen had always been a constant in his life, and Niederhausen found himself enrolled at Stratford University in Tysons Corner, Va. in 2008. During his time at culinary school and upon his graduation, Niederhausen bounced around at various restaurants in Washington, D.C. It was one restaurant in particular that was Niederhausen’s favorite place to work, but not for the actual job. It was because he found the woman who would become his wife, Jennifer. In 2009, he began dating Jennifer while he was a sous chef and she was working at a wine store connected to his restaurant. “[Niederhausen] was the only chef that was remotely polite to me during the events and he took the time to explain some professional kitchen etiquette so that I could move around in the kitchen during the event without getting underfoot,” Jennifer Niederhausen said in an email interview. “That kindness set him apart and our professional relationship developed from there.” Following his rehab, Ray wanted to be honest and upfront about his background and history to those around him, and with Jennifer it was no different. “It was while we were still only co-workers and not yet dating that he mentioned the kids and his history. At this point we were both interested in each other, but neither knew the other one was thinking about potential romantic terms. I suspect he purposefully gave me all that information up front so that he didn’t drop it on me after we started dating,” Jennifer Niederhausen said. “My first reaction was, ‘this guy has way too much baggage, dating him would be a disaster.’ It wasn’t so much the history itself that was overwhelming -- he is not the first addict or person with kids I’ve ever met, of course, but it was a lot to consider when evaluating a person to potentially date. However, our personalities kept drawing us together. We have just the right balance of similar and opposite personality traits that together work well.” Ray’s attraction to Jennifer was instant. “When I met my wife, I knew I was going to marry her,” Ray Niederhausen said. “I never was able to be friends with a woman [prior to his marriage], and she made me realize what it was to have a best friend, a true best friend, and why they say that your partner needs to be your best friend in order for your relationship to work.” The two were wed and ready to start their life together, when again, life brought another turn from the path that Niederhausen set out. In 2011, just three months newlywed, Niederhausen received a phone call from Georgia. It was the mother of his twins. “Boom, I got a phone call that said, ‘Ray, I need you to take the kids,’” Niederhausen said. “There were some things going on in Georgia, so I amicably received custody of the twin boys, who I really hadn’t seen that much of in five
“From the time I was 18 until the time I was about 29, I was heavy into alcohol and drugs.” -Ray Niederhausen, junior undergraduate history major interview. “As for his troubles, I knew what was going on and kept tabs, but also knew I had to stay in Virginia and take care of myself.” When Ray arrived in Fairfax, Michael made sure that he was entering a place of understanding and love. “I always want to make sure he was taken care of. I’d [taken care of Ray] before and it nearly killed me, so I when I moved to Virginia, I was doing it in part to get away,” Michael Niederhausen said. “When he moved to Virginia, he knew that part of our agreement was him getting help. It was tough love, but done in love. I wanted him to be better.” Ray then sought the help of Fairfax County Alcohol and Drug Services and went through a detoxication and 90-day program to address his substance abuse. Michael saw the improved disposition that Ray faced with this particular stint in rehabilitation, opposed to Ray’s previous attempts at rehab. “Once he started his rehab stint, I could tell
better. In Fairfax, he dove in and made it happen. They treated him not as an alcoholic, but a person with problems. And they helped him treat his problems, not just his substance abuse issues.” And Ray himself found more motivation to see this rehab program through. “[Through the program] I realized I didn’t know how to live anymore and it taught me how to live again,” Ray Niederhausen said. “I got out when I was 29 years old and was kind of like, ‘Oh shit, I can start over again.’” Ray Niederhausen has been sober for eight years -- and counting -- as a result of his commitment to the rehab program. With another chance at life in a new setting, Ray set out to get back into the working world and restart in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Although his background of legal issues prevented him from earning any meaningful work, it was one day that Niederhausen’s life again took a sharp turn, but this time, for the better. He enrolled in culinary school.
years.” Niederhausen had only seen his twin boys, Tyler and Nathan, 9, from time to time on visits and the occasional vacation, his only constant connection to them was through his line of child support. The Niederhausens welcomed the boys into their home without hesitation. “[This] was an opportunity to bring the family together, and my wife and I opened our arms to the kids. And it was tough because on one hand, I really wanted my kids to be with me, but on the other hand, I had no fucking experience with how to raise kids,” Niederhausen said. “I’d always been good around kids, and then I got my kids, I was like, ‘uh, oh god.’” “Neither of us were ready to be full time parents - we still aren’t - but it was without question the right thing to do for the boys. It is hard every single day. Just when things start to get easier the kids throw another curve ball our way and we sift through the latest puzzle piece by piece,” Jennifer Niederhausen said. “But if we had to do it all over again I know we’d both choose to fight for custody every time. Now that I am experiencing being both a mother and a stepmother I can say that being a stepmother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” While going through arranging custody of his kids, Niederhausen was laid off from his job as
(Family photos courtesy of the Niederhausen family)
the executive chef of a restaurant in Rockville, Md. Both Ray and Jennifer realized that the life of a chef -- five to six nights a week in a kitchen -was not conducive to the family life they wanted, so Ray refocused on becoming a full-time student at age 33. Throughout his time working in kitchens, Niederhausen was taking online classes at Northern Virginia Community College and continued his education there following his decision to become a student full-time. In early 2013, things had reached a sense of normalcy for the Niederhausens, the twins were settling into their new home in Virginia and the family was expecting another addition to the family, Ian, now one-and-a-half. But in January 2013, life threw another obstacle in Ray’s path. “I was going to school in my final semester at
“I’ve [always] needed to feed my brain constantly, with something, and now the healthy substitution is football, school and family. It’s that there always needs to be some sort of organized chaos in my life, but now football is just fun,” Niederhausen said. “I’ve got the heart of a 21-year old and body of a 37-year old.” Niederhausen is an undergraduate history major imposing figure on the field and on-campus, and he still NOVA, and I just started the semester, you know, struggles to express his emotions as a family man doing great in school. And a week into the semes- because of how much he had to shield himself in ter, I get a phone call that my brother had killed years prior, but his wife sees the care he has for himself,” Niederhausen said. “Which dashed just his family. about everything that had happened up until that “Ray is a tough nut to crack. He told me point in my life. I could tell you the exact spot on once, early on in our relationship, that he was the sidewalk, in front of what guard rail, in front so complicated that I could spend a lifetime with of what bolt I was in front of when my father him and never really understand him. Always up called to tell me that.” for a challenge, I didn’t believe him for a second Andrew Niederhausen was Ray’s young- and figured I’d have him all figured out in a short est brother, and a volunteer firefighter back in amount of time. Five years later I’m still baffled,” Peachtree City, Ga. when he took his own life at Jennifer Niederhausen said. “He’s not easy to the age of 27. figure out and, honestly, not the best communiWhen life presented this challenge in Ray’s life, cator. So it’s sometimes hard for both myself and with the battles he fought to get to that point and the kids to understand his feelings and his affecthe support of his family, he was better prepared tion. But when he does let it shine through, it is to handle the adversity. clear that he is full of love for our family. He can’t “It just crippled me, man. For weeks. I’d go to bed at night unless he has checked on all sporadically go to class and I just three boys to make sure they are ok in their sleep. couldn’t do anything, and it was He acts with a gruff exterior but then relishes a a hard contemplation for me. morning cuddle session with all three boys in the And I had contemplated giving bed.” up and going to the dean’s office His brother, Michael, who was an impetus for and telling him I couldn’t go to Ray’s road to recovery, is proud of the maturaschool because it was too much tion of his brother. for me,” Niederhausen said. “I am extremely proud of the man he has “Something clicked, something become. He is a good father, a good husband, in my mind said, ‘You know, with and has an amazing heart. He still has his issues the amount of adversity you’ve -- don’t we all, but he knows how to deal with been through in your life, I think them and knows when to ask for help,” Michael you’re equipped to deal with this Niederhausen said. “Watching him grow up and -- and it’s not going to be easy -- become the person he is today is something any but it’s time you put in the work, oldest brother hopes he can watch. And for me, it’s time you stopped kind of just watching him and his life, I couldn’t be prouder.” skating along and put the work The battle against addiction is one that is never in and do it and get it done, and over, and Ray Niederhausen considers himself you’ll be able to hold your head an example of what someone can still accomplish high in six months.’ And I did it.” while fighting that battle every day. Niederhausen kept his inter“Never feel like it’s over. Nothing is over nal promise and earned a 3.9 until it’s over, until you take that last breathe,” GPA that spring, and transferred Niederhausen said. “For many years, I lived my to Mason in fall 2013, which life to die at 26. When I woke up at 26, I had had been his goal since starting no idea how to live my life, so I just did what I his life as a full-time student. did to maintain and survive. What would I say to Niederhausen is currently a someone who’s [fighting addiction]? Never give junior majoring in history. up. I wake up one day at a time, I don’t wake up A big part of Niederhausen’s thinking about a week from now, I can’t.” life now is playing on Mason’s club football team as a defensive tackle. Where before, football was a therapeutic release, now he sees it as just a fun aspect in a more complete life.
“Something clicked, something in my mind said, ‘You know, with the amount of adversity you’ve been through in your life, I think you’re equipped to deal with this -- and it’s not going to be easy -- but it’s time you put in the work, it’s time you stopped kind of just skating along and put the work in and do it and get it done, and you’ll be able to hold your head high in six months.’ And I did it.” -Ray Niederhausen, junior
SCOREBOARD SCORE/ RECORD
CLUB ICE HOCKEY
CLUB ICE HOCKEY
0-3 (L) [6-19]
1-0 (W) [11-3-3]
1-3 (L) [6-18]
(AMY ROSE/FOURTH ESTATE)
7-2 (W) [6-4-0-2] 3-1 (W)
Mason junior Ray Niederhausen is a defensive tackle on the Mason club football team. This is from a photo shoot for the feature on p. 17-19
THE WEEK AHEAD THE WEEK AHEAD 1 The 2 Men’s HOW TO WATCH
NCAA SE REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
NOV. 14 5 P.M.
NOV. 14 7:30 P.M.
NOV. 16 1 P.M.
NOV. 16 3:30 P.M.
final fall conference tournaments
The men’s soccer team competes in the A-10 Tournament this Thursday in Richmond, Va. The team has gone 4-2-2 in A-10 regular season play this season. Last year, the team won the A-10 tournament and the team hopes to defend their crown.
The season kicks off this Friday, Nov. 14 against Cornell at the Patriot Center. With another game on Sunday, Nov. 16 against Princeton. The Patriots play these two games before travelling to Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament to be broadcast on ESPN. The team will return home on Nov. 29 to take on Manhattan.
The first team to start their regular season at the Patriot Center will be the women’s squad when they take on Virginia Tech on Friday, Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. before the men’s team takes the court. They will then be on the backend of a Sunday matinee doubleheader when they take on Morehead State.