FOURTH ESTATE March 21, 2016 | Volume 3 Issue 17 George Mason Universityâ€™s official student news outlet gmufourthestate.com | @IVEstate
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(ALYA NOWILATY/FOURTH ESTATE)
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Theft / False Police Report
Complainant (GMU) reported a stolen vehicle. Loss estimated $5,000. Case referred to Criminal Investigations Division. Officer determined Motor Vehicle Theft did not occur. Complainant was arrested and transported to Fairfax County ADC for giving false reports to law-enforcement officials. Lot A / Unfounded / Cleared by Arrest / 7:58 PM
Mar. 11 2016-008486 / Burglary Complainant (GMU) reported the theft of tools from a locked room. Loss estimated $2,000. Student Apartments / Electrical Room / Closed / 7:50 AM
Mar. 14 2016-008896 / Dating Violence / Trespassing / Disorderly Conduct Complainant (GMU) reported a verbal and possibly physical dispute between two intimate partners (GMU and Non-GMU). Officers determined subject (Non-GMU) was violating a Criminal Trespass Warning. Arrest warrant pending for Trespassing violation. Dominion Hall / Pending/ 11:55 AM
Mar. 14 2016-008912 / Theft from Building
The RAC / Pending / 5:26 PM
Full story on page 3.
Tatyana White-Jenkins Assistant Lifestyle Editor
Courtney Hoffman Sports Editor
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Complainant (GMU) reported the theft of unattended property from an unsecured area. Credit cards were fraudulently used following the theft. Case referred to Criminal Investigations Division.
Mason has updated their smoking policy to include restrictions on vaping, especially indoors. Members of the Mason community that vape must now vape outside at least 25 feet away from buildings, just like smokers.
/ Credit Card Fraud
ON THE COVER
2016-007703 / Motor Vehicle
Child Care Seeking p/t nanny to transport 2 kids, aged 4 years and 18 months bw Alexandria and Arlington, M-F, 3-7p. Call or text to inquire:202.604.0361
Mar. 15 2016-008996 / Counterfeiting/Forgery Complainant (GMU) reported a subject (GMU) in possession of a fraudulent parking pass. Lot K / Closed / 6:17 PM
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Mason’s smoking policy gets an update MADISON ANTUS | STAFF WRITER
Last October, Mason updated its smoking policy to include vaping, which is no longer allowed within university buildings, after concerns from the community that secondhand vapor could cause health problems. Janet Walker, the life/work connections manager for Mason’s Department of Human Resources and Payroll, said the new policy updates changes Mason’s former policy in two ways. First, it applies the same restrictions on vaping as it does on tobacco smoking, and second, Walker stressed that the language used in the policy changed from informing smokers and vapers where smoking was allowed, to telling them to keep specific areas smoke-free. “The switch in focus from where smoking was permitted to where smoking/vaping was not permitted was designed to remind the community to keep the restricted areas free from secondhand smoke/vapor,” Walker said in an email. In addition to no smoking or vaping in buildings, the new policy updates also specify that both smoking and vaping are not allowed within 25 feet of any window, building entrance or air intake. The previous policy, which was titled “SmokeFree Environment,” had been in effect since 2004.
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“Smoking is permitted outdoors on university grounds, plazas, sidewalks, malls and similar open pedestrian ways, provided smokers are 25 feet or more in distance away from an entrance or exit of any facility, including parking garages,” read the old policy.
Walker referred to as “smoking policy and practice.” The survey’s results showed that 76 percent of participants believed that alternative smoking methods (such as vaping or hookah) could pose a risk to the user, while 78 percent believed that alternative smoking methods could pose a risk to bystanders.
The new updates apply the same rules to vamping and e-cigarettes.
“This [survey], combined with limited FDA regulation of e-cigarettes, the need for consistent university-wide policy on the subject and issues that were occurring on campus regarding vaping (e.g. an e-cigarette triggered a fire alarm), led the committee to move in the direction of restricting vaping in the same way as tobacco smoking,” Walker said.
Senior communication major Frank Venzor said that he thinks the ban is a good thing. Venzor used to smoke traditional cigarettes, but tried e-cigarettes for a month. “The idea was cool, but it is not as satisfying as an actual cigarette, so I started smoking them again,” Venzor said. “It [vaping] is also an unnecessary distraction in a learning environment.” Senior Global Affairs major Margaret Hudnutt agrees with the policy change as well. “I’m not certain what the science is behind vaping, but I do agree it should be kept away from enclosed spaces like buildings. Regardless of whether or not it’s harmful, it has a bizarre odor,” Hudnutt said. Walker said that a working group was formed to “review and update” the university’s original policy, Smoke-free Environment. According to Walker, the group included representatives from Student Government; Staff Senate; Faculty Senate; University Life; Admissions; Human Resources & Payroll; Facilities; Risk Management; Student Centers; and Wellness, Alcohol and Violence Education and Services (WAVES). A survey was conducted in the spring of 2015 that assessed what
While e-cigarettes and vaping are often used interchangeably, there are some slight differences between the two. According to a USA Today article, “e-cigarettes are battery operated inhalers that consist of a rechargeable battery, a cartridge called a cartomizer and an LED that lights up at the end when you puff on the device,” and “vaping is defined as the act of inhaling water vapor through a personal vaporizer or electronic cigarette. When users draw on the device, the battery heats the liquid, which is then atomized into an inhalable vapor.” Both e-cigarettes and vaping contain nicotine but not tobacco. E-cigarettes and vaping are still fairly new in the United States, with sales only beginning in 2007, according to USA Today. Because of this, any potential long-term risks are not well known, but a study published in February of this year found that smoking and vaping result in diminished gene activity, decreased immune strength, and
potential behavioral and reproductive problems for children of women who vape while pregnant. The study was performed by a group of toxicologists and was published in Science Magazine. Hudnutt, a non-smoker, agrees with the study. “I dislike the concept of polluting your lungs with toxins, and doing it in public areas in general. I think cigarettes are worse, but vaping hasn’t been around long enough for us to know the long term effects,” Hudnutt said. Although enforcement of the new policy updates are still being discussed by the working group, Walker said that they hope the community will “exercise courtesy and kindness towards each other on this matter.” In addition to the new policy updates, a “Courtesy Bridges the Difference” flyer is now added to the new faculty and staff hiring packets. The flyer addressed both smokers/vapers and non-smokers/ non-vapers and reminds non-smokers to remember that some smokers/vapers do not want to quit, that quitting can be difficult and that it is acceptable to politely ask smokers/vapers to move 25 feet from a building in accordance with university regulations. The flyer asks smokers/vapers to adhere to university restrictions mentioned above; to dispose of waste in the proper receptacles; to be mindful of secondhand smoke; and to remember that while they may choose to smoke, others may not. The flyer ends by urging both parties to “please be considerate.”
Keeping the safety on ALEC MOORE | STAFF WRITER
In mid-February, Director of Safety and Emergency Management Dave Farris sent out an email to the Mason community about safety on campus. According to Farris, the email was meant to remind recipients of the university’s protocols, but also raised the issue of safety on campus, especially with respect to firearms. Farris said the email was not sent in response to any specific event. In fact, he added, the email was menat to come out earlier than February 16, but he and his office decided to push back it’s release due to snow. “There are no current threats at this time. But as many of you know, we’ve seen an increase in acts of violence in the workplace in recent years, and college and university campuses are not immune to such threats,” Farris said in the email. Director of Strategic Communications Michael Sandler said one way students can better protect themselves is by familiarizing themselves with the university’s safety and emergency procedures. He explained that the university upholds safety in three ways: using systems like Mason Alert that send students text messages to keep them informed of dangerous situations; providing a list of emergency responses on the Mason website; and giving students the University Police’s phone number to call in case of an emergency. Farris added that the email might become something that is sent out regularly either at the beginning of every semester or at the beginning of every fall semester. He continued that they may plan on sending out emails about tornado drills and earthquake drills as well. April 16 will mark the ninth anniversary of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, which still stands as the deadliest mass shooting on an American college campus. Incidents of this sort, combined with changes in gun regulations at state levels, have sparked a heated debate about gun control on college campuses. In February of last year, Fourth Estate covered the rejection of gun control legislation proposed by Governor Terry McAuliffe and the mixed reactions of students at that time. More recently, a decision by the Texas State Senate has given handgun owners in Texas the ability to carry their weapons on campus and in classrooms at all state universities starting Aug. 1, 2016. Mason’s rule on weapons, according to University Policy, states, “The possession of any weapon on campus by any member of the faculty, staff or student body, with the exception of law enforcement officials as cited in the policy portion of this procedure is prohibited.” Sandler explained that this policy means that anyone affiliated with Mason is prohibited from having a weapon on their person, regardless of whether or not they have a concealed carry permit. In 2011, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld Mason’s gun restriction policy after it was challenged as a violation of Second Amendment. The precedent established in the 2011 case has made it so all universities in Virginia, because of their status as highly populated work and educational environments, have the right to set their own policies regarding firearms on university property. Though incidents have occurred at other universities in Virginia, such as the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, sophomore Mandaep
(MEGAN ZENDEK/FOURTH ESTATE)
Kaur explained that she feels safe at Mason. “I definitely think this is a safe area, and being involved in the Mason community has made it so I know most of the safety and emergency procedures,” Kaur said. Sophomore Makeda Fekede said she sees the debate over guns on campus as a tricky issue because she can see both sides of the argument. “I wouldn’t want to take the right to have a gun away from someone, but at the same time I personally wouldn’t feel safe,” Fekede said. That being said, there are some restrictions on the rules Mason has set for those unaffiliated with the university. For example, when CNN hosted an event on gun violence with President Obama on Jan. 7 at the Johnson Center, the university warned students, faculty and staff that legally-armed protesters might attend. Interim Chief of Police Thomas Longo sent out a campus-wide email the morning of the event that read, “Please be advised that it is lawful to carry firearms in Virginia, and this includes at public outdoor spaces on our campus.” Luckily there were no armed protesters at the event, according to Sandler, but the fact remains that an individual
unaffiliated with Mason is well within their rights to open carry a firearm on campus as long as they are not in any university buildings and they are obeying the law. This has nothing to do with Mason’s policies, but rather, with Virginia State Law, as any public university respects this policy. Fekede said she sees open discussion as central to finding solutions to the question of safety -- specifically gun safety -- Mason. “This [gun safety] is absolutely an issue we need different perspectives on,” Fekede said. “I would say we should definitely be discussing this more.”
Safety video prepares students for worst-case scenario MACKENZIE EARL | STAFF WRITER
Mason recently released a video created by the Center for Personal Protection and Safety (CPPS) that educates students about safety during an active shooter situation. David Farris, director of Safety and Emergency Management for the Environmental Health and Safety Office, sent an email on Feb. 16 reminding students to prioritize knowledge of campus safety procedures. The video “Shots Fired” was linked in this email. According to former Chief of Police Eric Heath, who is in the video, “Shots Fired” intends to “teach students, faculty and staff the techniques to survive an active shooter situation on campus.” The video can also be found on Blackboard by visiting the “Active Shooter” tab in MasonLinks on the homepage. Below are highlights from “Shots Fired.”
ask the “what if ” questions. Always identify suspicious behavior, escape routes and the easiest way to contact Mason Police or 9-1-1 during an emergency. 3.Rehearsal: Participate in school-wide emergency preparedness drills and initiate peer-to-peer conversations about how you would react in an active shooter event.
Active shooter situations When confronted with an active shooter event, it is important to be aware of your surroundings before deciding on the best course of action. Take responsibility for your own personal safety. “This is a collaborative effort; everyone is responsible for ensuring that we have a safe community here,” Harber said. 1.Follow your gut: “Report suspicions or uncomfortable behavior to the appropriate campus office,” Pascarell said.
Mason staff in the video: •Former Chief of Police Eric Heath •Linda Harber, vice president of Human Resources and Payroll •Rose Pascarell, vice president of University Life The survival mindset Developing a survival mindset is essential to reacting effectively in any active shooter situation. By convincing yourself that you will survive, you are able to commit to your actions. There are three main components of this mindset: 1.Awareness: If an emergency does occur, take the time to assess the best course of action. Mason’s Environmental Health and Safety Office includes emergency procedures and recourses for students on their webpage, ehs.gmu.edu or visit police.gmu.edu. 2.Preparation: Always be aware of your surroundings, and
2.When in doubt, assume it was a gunshot: People who have no real-life experience with gun-shots may perceive them as artificial. It is always better to assume the unidentified noise is a gunshot to ensure no time is wasted in getting to safety. 3.Take time to assess the situation: Assess how close the gunshots sounded. If in a room, check the hallway for activity before exiting. 4.Get out: The first priority is to remove yourself and others from the danger zone. If you are able to, exit the building and contact Mason Police immediately. Never assume that others have already called. When calling for help be prepared to give the location of the incident, a description of the shooter and exactly what has happened. Ensure that other people do not
enter the danger zone. If you are outside when you become aware of an active shooter situation or hear gunshots, stay in motion. Find protection and contact Mason Police immediately. 5.Hide out: If you are unable to exit the building safely, find somewhere to hide. Find a room that locks and barricade the door with furniture. If you are with other people, hide in different locations throughout the room and silence all cell phones. If you feel safe doing so, talk quietly and plan strategize how to react if the shooter enters your room. 6.Take out: If you are confronted by the shooter, commit to your actions. Work to maintain your survival mindset. If you are with a group of people, throw things and gang up on the attacker. Communicate and help each other remain calm as you commit to taking out the shooter together.
When dealing with law enforcement Police officers are trained to incapacitate any possible threats first. If you are found by a Police team, they will collect information from you and move on. Follow these tips to avoid being perceived as a threat: 1.Translate information: Give clear descriptions of how many shooters, what kind of weapons they may be utilizing and descriptions of the shooters. 2.Show your hands: If you are hiding when a police team enters, show your hands, get down on the floor and follow instructions. 3.Officers do not know who is a threat: do not point, yell or run up to the police to avoid being mistaken for a threat.
Tips for staying safe on campus MACKENZIE EARL | STAFF WRITER
An email announcement on behalf of Dave Farris, director of Safety and Emergency Management in the Environmental Health and Safety Office, was sent out Feb. 16 to remind students that Mason is “committed to creating an environment where everyone in our community feels safe and can thrive without fear.” Though this announcement was not in response to a specific incident, Farris discussed that college campuses are as equally susceptible to violent persons as other public spaces. Farris, with the input of other staff members, assembled this email to ensure that students have the “resources they need and know the best practices in the unlikely event that you are faced with a life-threatening situation.” 1.This email included a brief summary of “On Campus Violence Response Procedures” that explained how students should respond in the event of an active shooter situation. The “Shots Fired” video, produced by the Center for Personal Protection and Safety, was purchased by Mason to share with students. This 21-minute video can be found on mymason.gmu. edu in the “Mason Links” sidebar under “Active Shooter.” 2.The “Run Hide Fight Video” created by the city of Houston also outlines similar active shooter response procedures. This six-minute video can be viewed on YouTube by searching “Run Hide Fight.”
3.Mason’s emergency preparedness app, In Case of Crisis (ICOC), which is used by numerous universities as a resource for students in emergency situations, includes the information found in Mason’s Emergency Preparedness Guides. The ICOC app does require satellite reception or internet access to function, so in a regional emergency when connections may be restricted, students can still access vital information. 4.The “On Campus Violence Guide” is a five-page guide produced by the Environmental Health and Safety Office that provides valuable steps used to prevent workplace violence. 5.Farris’s email also reminded students to familiarize themselves with campus safety policies established by the Mason Police Department and encouraged students to look into additional resources offered by University Police. 6.Mason Alert (alert.gmu.edu) is Mason’s official emergency notification system that provides updates on class cancellations, regional emergencies, severe weather alerts and other information that affects campus operations. Mason visitors are strongly encouraged to also register with Mason Alert through their cellular devices to receive text message alerts in potentially hazardous situations. There are specific safety strategies to keep in mind both on and off campus. These tips, provided by Mason’s Wellness, Alcohol and Violence Education and Services Offices (WAVES), can help you
avoid dangerous situations and maintain your personal security. Do: 1.Keep your room and car locked at all times and have keys and ID ready before you go outside. 2.Avoid walking alone, especially if you are tired, upset, distracted or under the influence of any recreational substances. Always use well-lit paths and be aware of your surroundings. 3.Keep your car in suitable working condition, and always have a back-up plan in case of car failure. Always check inside and under your car before entering, especially at night. 4.Familiarize yourself with whom you should contact in an emergency, and have emergency numbers saved on speed dial on your mobile device. Don’t: 1.Loan your key, even if it is to a trusted friend. Always make sure door locks behind you, and never allow someone you don’t know enter your residence hall. 2.Leave identification, wallets, financial information or valuables in open view even in your room. 3.Carry mace. Mace is illegal within the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, do carry a whistle and pepper spray to protect yourself from threatening strangers.
Voices of protest rise amid administrative silence on Shaoxian Yu dismissal REEM NADEEM | STAFF WRITER
Beloved by students for his commitment to inclusion, former associate director for the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education has been removed from his position, inciting protest from student organizations. In alliance with several organizations, the Asian-Pacific American Coalition (APAC) released a letter and petition demanding Dr. Shaoxian Yu’s reinstatement as associate director of ODIME. Within 30 minutes of being released on Mar. 4, the petition had 1,014 supporters. University Life Vice President, Rose Pascarell and Vice President of Compliance, Diversity and Ethics, Julian Williams, met with members of APAC on Mar. 17. During the meeting, which lasted from 3 to 5 p.m., members of organizations advised by Yu protested on Merten Hall lawn. They were accompanied by other organizations who stood in solidarity with those affected by Yu’s separation. Though Pascarell discussed increasing diversity among faculty during the meeting - one of the demands made by APAC - students who attended the meeting did not feel heard regarding Yu. “As far as getting answers, we didn’t really get much. They just kept going in circles, not really answering our questions. It was very vague,” Junior Elaine Mangulabnan, president of the Filipino Cultural Association, said. Pascarell did not respond to a request for comment. In accordance with Mason’s policy on separation without cause for employees of over 10 years, as listed in the Administrative/ Professional Faculty Handbook, Yu will be removed permanently in nine months. In the meantime, Yu was transferred to Mason INTO and instructed not to have further contact with students he advised in his former position. The handbook states administrative/professional employees can be terminated “without cause” and further explains that separation “implies no fault or cause for the ending of appointment.” Separated employees must be notified within a certain time period dependent on their years of employment at Mason. Yu declined an interview for fear of being removed immediately.
“I love Mason, and I love all Mason students. I don’t want to leave Mason and want to continue serving Mason students,” Yu said in an email. Senior Sherika Callen, president of Kappa Phi Lambda, a multicultural sorority formerly advised by Yu, said her organization would not be where it is without Yu and ODIME. “I think [ODIME staff] definitely want to show support, but they’re in the same position as Dr. Yu. And I think we have to remember that this is their job, this is how they make their livelihood, and they also have to think about themselves as well, as much as they love Dr. Yu,” Callen said. Mangulabnan said some of APAC’s demands were inspired by the ones released by Concerned Mason Students in December 2015, which petitioned the administration on behalf of the black student community. “We’re all going for the same cause — as in more inclusion — so we have looked at their list, and we did base some of our demands off of theirs because it is concerning that they sent their demands in December and nothing really has been done,” Mangulabnan said. “So besides asking for Dr. Yu’s position back, we’re kind of reinforcing that we really want these things to happen for our community.” According to Kappa Phi Lambda Vice President, Christine Nguyen, junior, the similarities between the sets of demands were noted during the meeting. “If our demands are so similar, why aren’t they met yet? Because they [administration] should have already been started on these demands...This is bigger than just the Asian community. This is the whole diverse community of Mason,” Nguyen said. The desire for inclusion, rather than just diversity, is addressed in APAC’s letter to the administration. ”As an institution that views diversity as a treasure, your commitment to inclusion must be upheld,” the letter reads. According to the Office of Institutional Research and Reporting, the Asian student population totaled 5,205 students in the fall of 2015. Although Asian students are the largest minority population on campus, creating an inclusive community takes more work than
just presence, said junior Denise Diokno, vice president of APAC. “They [administration] really are just concerned with the numbers. They can still call us [the Mason community] diverse because we are minorities, but it doesn’t really reflect on diversity,” Diokno said. “We could be here but not doing anything cultural. And I think that’s the only thing they’re concerned about, the statistics and the logistics; ’Oh, we have this amount of minorities.’ It doesn’t matter to them if we are doing cultural things, things that have to do with our heritage.” Members of the organizations that worked closely with Yu attested to his dedication to inclusiveness. “Dr. Yu is definitely one of the few faculty members on this campus that passionately works to create a better community for us. He truly cares about the students. And [it’s] not just Dr. Yu, but everyone in ODIME.” Callen said. “The administration is ignoring the benefits ODIME brings to students and what they truly do, and I think the administration is more talk on how they support students and ODIME puts in the work.” Many students who attended the protest on behalf of Yu were impacted by him in their personal lives. Freshman Alvaro Veizaga said if it hadn’t been for Yu’s guidance with extracurriculars and academics, Veizaga may not be at Mason today. “I just don’t understand why the whole separation without cause is a reason to get rid of somebody who’s so influential and kind and important to Mason, let alone ODIME, and all of us here who are gathered in support for him. He’s touched all of our lives in some way,” Veizaga said. While Veizaga questioned Mason’s decision, sophomore Gabby Evidente, treasurer of the Filipino Cultural Association, went even further. “I think it’s just extremely upsetting because as a sophomore, I’m growing more and more proud of Mason and I got to a point where I was like, ‘Wow, this is such a great place to be in,’ I never realized it,” Evidente said. “But once I learned about this issue, I was questioning that. Is this a great place to be in?”
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The broken branch Supreme Court vacancy spurs political controversy ALEC MOORE | STAFF WRITER
On March 16, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy left on the Supreme Court after the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. The nomination has become a partisan issue as congressional Republicans have argued the next president, not President Obama, should be the one to pick a nominee. Merrick Garland is the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Before serving on the court, Garland gained national attention when he led the prosecution team in the case against Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, in 1995. Garland would replace Antonin Scalia, who was viewed as one of the most influential conservative voices on the court since he was confirmed in 1986. Scalia’s passing has left an ideological imbalance among the members of the court, and many Republicans fear a nominee appointed by Obama could increase that disparity. Texas Republican and Senate Judiciary Committee member John Cornyn explained this perspective to NPR: “The next justice could change the ideological makeup of the Court for a generation, and fundamentally reshape American society in the process.” Cornyn and other Republican leaders have argued this is an issue that needs to be decided by the American people when they vote this November. Until then, Republicans can use their control of Congress to block a vote on a nominee.
also have the power to not process the nominee at all. 3. The Senate debates then votes on whether to confirm or deny the appointment with a 60 vote requirement to confirm. The second and third steps in this process are where Republicans have leverage, as they lead the Judiciary Committee with Senator Charles Grassley, and they hold a majority in the Senate that could unite to prevent any nominee from reaching the required 60 votes. “It is a president’s constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court justice, and it is the Senate’s constitutional right to act as a check on a president and withhold its consent,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told NPR.
Students and faculty comment on the controversy “I really disagree with the way the parties divide themselves. It seems like they are just trying to spite each other.” “I think all of this is dividing the nation, and I think they should just follow the rules while Obama is still in office.” Michelle Wallerstedt, integrative studies, junior
The nomination process has three steps: 1. The President makes a nomination. 2. The Senate Judiciary Committee reviews the record and qualifications of this candidate then makes a recommendation on whether the appointee should be appointed or denied. They
“I think Obama has shot himself in the foot and given Republicans a golden opportunity ... Now they [Republicans] can either confirm Garland if it looks like Hillary [or another Democrat] is going to be President, or wait until a Republican takes over and puts up their own candidate.”
Derrik Marow, government and international politics, senior
“I don’t really think it’s fair to wait. Obama has until the end of January 2017 … to nominate the new justice, so he has absolutely every right to be making the nomination.” Bridget Bukovich, history, senior
“I think it’s weird because it’s not really precedented. I think it’s kind of unnecessary to wait until after he [Obama] is out of office because that’s not the way that it has been done before.” Mackenzie Bailey, communication, senior
“This would be the longest vacancy since the Civil War, assuming the post election nomination takes the average time to pass through the Senate. There was one vacancy longer than a year since the Civil War, but this one would likely last even longer.” “This partisan divide is a symbol of the brokenness of our political system.” Jeremy Mayer, associate professor in the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs
“President Obama has the constitutional right to nominate federal judges, and the Senate has the constitutional right to confirm or not confirm presidential nominations. Historically, Supreme Court nominations have been confirmed in the last year of a president’s term. But both parties have used the confirmation process to frustrate presidents of the opposite party. Democrats will argue that the Senate should at least consider the nomination and vote on it, up or down, but no one can force the Senate to act. So the battle is a political one, with Democrats saying that the Senate should vote, and Republicans saying that they have the right to wait as long as they want before considering a Supreme Court nominee.” James P. Pfiffner, University Professor of Public Policy Editor’s note: Staff Writer Alec Moore and senior Nico Rodrigo interviewed the above Mason students and faculty as part of a class project for COMM 453: Multimedia Journalism. Check out gmufourthestate.com later this week to see their completed video project on this controversy.
Diversity in Dinning
The many languages of Mason Dining’s staff ingredients, equipment, eating utensils and cooking techniques. This allow employees to communicate effectively in a kitchen environment without having to speak fluent English.
his staff. Seguin is originally from Peru and speaks both Spanish and English. Every day, Southside staff participates in ‘the Huddle’ to communicate information regarding food training, kitchen policies, payroll updates and other essential information. Seguin translates the content verbally into Spanish, but employees that speak other languages rely on each other to interpret.
Management ensures that the employees placed at high-interaction stations are well suited for the job. Staff is educated in how to prepare, handle and serve special dietary-specific items.
Chinese workers who speak primarily Mandarin help each other and employees who are comfortable in both Mandarin and English help their co-workers to understand.
Some Mason Dining staff, such as Southside Purchasing Director Jamie Feindt, work with mostly English-speaking staff, but still understand the need for language accommodations. “I’ve been in the business for years and years, and it is far more accommodating than in years past,” Feindt said, commenting also on the increase in resources available to staff who are not comfortable in English.
(MEGAN ZENDEK/ FOURTH ESTATE)
MACKENZIE EARL | STAFF WRITER
The staff at Mason Dining is just as organically diverse as the students that they feed. Ethnic diversity is reflected in the more than 10 languages spoken by the dining staff every day as food is produced and consumed. Staff members are originally from the United States, Spain, Guana, the Dominican Republic, China, Vietnam and other countries all over the world. According to Michel Wetli, Mason’s Dining general manager, among Mason’s 125 student and 450 non-student employees, 60 percent of staff do not identify English as their native language. This can result in communication difficulties between staff and management. Mason Dining strategically places managers in areas where their language experience is most valuable. Wetli actively works to ensure effective communication throughout Mason Dining. “I witness enriching conversations between employees on a daily basis, where you hear them speaking in English and in their native language,” Wetli said. One of the things that makes eliminating language barriers easier is employees’ knowledge of what is commonly referred to as “kitchen English,” which includes the English names for
At Southside alone, half a dozen languages, primarily Spanish and Mandarin, are spoken among staff members. Mason Dining sees this diversity as an advantage, although it can pose some problems.
Valencia Hunt, Southside’s supervisor, is originally from Louisiana. Hunt grew up speaking French and Creole, though neither has helped her communicate with staff at Mason Dining. Hunt supervises a large number of employees who prefer to speak Spanish. She admits that this can cause complications, but she is always able to find a way to communicate. Hunt said she has noticed a lot of positive reactions from students who appreciate the diversity among Mason Dining’s staff. Hispanic students in particular often approach staff and speak to them in Spanish. This diversity is not only limited to Southside, however. She also witnessed this when she worked at the Bistro. “Every place I’ve been to has been very diverse,” Hunt said. “It’s a challenge that I think we do a great job at meeting.” Hunt says she values the relationships she is able to form with her staff that would not have been possible 40 years ago. The food industry has changed significantly since she entered the industry in the ‘70s, and at Mason Dining, Hunt has been able to learn to cook foods from other regions and share in her employees’ experiences. Special care is taken at food stations that require additional expertise. In the areas that serve Halal or gluten-free foods, extra time is taken with staff to ensure that there is no cross contamination. Juan Seguin, manager at Southside, often serves as a translator for
“[Employees] get the information they need to so there won’t be any miscommunications,” Seguin said. Seguin also takes the time to learn phrases in other languages so that he can better connect with all of his employees. He feels he is “blessed to communicate in both languages,” but he puts forth effort to learn even more. He frequently says “Good morning” and “Thank you” to employees in Mandarin. “It’s important to let them know I’m trying,” Seguin said. Seguin also sees language differences as an opportunity for employees to bond. In an environment with so many languages, employees sometime have difficulties communicating with each other. In everyday communication, “[Employees] always get a laugh because you understand each other’s struggles,” Seguin said. Seguin feels that the iconic “melting pot” of the United States is reflected in Mason Dining’s staff and is excited to have met employees from all over the world. Seguin specifically spoke regarding this past year’s Holiday Party between the employees at Southside where he was able to watch his employees talk, laugh and be friends even without sharing a common language. “[I see people] coming together as one, and that is pretty neat to witness,” Seguin said. Amy Pel, sous chef at Southside, is fluent in five languages. However, her extensive knowledge of Laos, Cambodian, Thai, Vietnamese and English only covers half of the languages spoken at Southside. Pel is often called on to translate for two employees or to clarify communication between an employee and management. “I try very hard to understand other people’s languages,” Pel said. The cooks she supervises all come from different backgrounds and many of them identify Spanish as their native language. Pel said most employees understand varied amounts of English, even if they cannot speak it fluently. Pel mentioned several times that she does language differences hardly comes up as an issue in the kitchen. In her year and a half with Mason Dining, Pel has worked at both Ike’s and Southside. She said she has experienced huge positivity in regards to diversity inclusion. “[Mason Dining] really cares about their employees, very much,” Pel said.
New Mason group provides support for binge eaters
(CLAIRE CECIL / FOURTH ESTATE)
TIFFANY LIN | STAFF WRITER
Mason’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is holding a therapy group this March to address binge eating in adults. Lauren Breithaupt, a third-year clinical psychology doctoral student, will be one of the two group leaders of the therapy sessions, properly known as the Adult Binge Eating Group. CAPS will need to enroll five participants in order to proceed with the program this month. The Adult Binge Eating Group will focus on treating individuals who engage in binge eating, which, according to Breithaupt, is constituted by consuming a large amount of food within a short period of time, usually with “a sense of loss of control.” Breithaupt explained that when an individual with the disorder “starts to eat, they feel that they cannot stop.” Binge eating disorder has multiple causes, Breithaupt said. These can include behavioral, genetic or neurological factors and sometimes the disorder is seen in individuals with a history of past dieting attempts. According to The Mayo Clinic, if an individual’s parents or siblings have an eating disorder, then he or she may have inherited the genes that can increase the likelihood of developing such a disorder. Binge eating disorder, or BED, as it is sometimes called, is equally common in both males and females. “Around 3.5 percent [of] women, 2 percent of men [and] 1.6 percent of adolescents [are diagnosed with BED]. So it is the most common eating disorder,” Breithaupt said. A recent Healthline article confirmed this statistic, stating, “binge eating disorder affects three times the number of people diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia combined,” including about 2.8 million Americans. The Mayo Clinic states that binge eaters exhibit the following symptoms: eating even when the individual is either full or not
hungry; eating until the individual is excruciatingly full; feeling depressed, ashamed or upset about their eating; and feeling a lack of control over eating habits. Aside from the psychological symptoms, binge eaters can have physiological risks as well. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) reports that the person can develop digestive problems, joint or muscle pain, menstrual problems or obesity. Breithaupt notes that the previous Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders, DSM-IV, did not list binge eating as a disorder, but the current manual, DSM-5 does, which has encouraged further research on the disease. Any individual hoping to join Mason’s BED group therapy program will first have to go through an initial assessment to determine his or her relationship with food. Once invited to join the group, individuals will work with group leaders during each group therapy session to develop strategies to improve binge eating habits and body image. Group therapy for binge eating disorder has been shown to be an effective treatment for reducing or eliminating binge eating. The sessions will last anywhere from 12-90 minutes every Tuesday. Breithaupt explained that the program has been delayed over the years because there was a lack of availability of doctoral students willing to conduct the group. Now, CAPS can proceed with the Adult Binge Eating Group because of increased research interest among doctoral students, who conduct the therapy sessions are part of their doctoral training. Group leaders will implement cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat individuals with binge eating disorder. Psychology Today defines CBT as “a form of psychotherapy that treats problems and boosts happiness by modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts.” The use of CBT will encourage patients to challenge the disorder head-on, and therapists will focus on finding a solution through group sessions.
The group will approach the disorder by discovering the triggers behind the behavior. “A lot of time, it might be recognizing what is triggering the binge. So [it is] what is someone thoughts,” Breithaupt said. These individuals have a variety of triggers. There are several factors that trigger the binge, including feelings of shame, anger or anxiety, Breithaupt said. After recognizing the triggers behind the binges, the leaders will help the individuals develop proper coping skills, such as emotional regulation to control the individual’s thoughts, and thus prevent further binging. “[This method] will helpful decrease the number of binges as well as the frequency of binging,” Breithaupt said. There are challenges in treating people with BED, however. Breithaupt stated that one of the biggest challenges is letting struggling individuals know about the availability of treatment and convincing them to start treatment. Other challenges include negotiating the negative emotions people with the disorder attach to themselves and the fact that they often cope with the disorder alone. “[T]here is a lot of stigma and shame associated with the disorder,” Breithaupt said. “People with binge eating disorder might struggle in secrecy.” She added that people who are diagnosed with this disorder often eat in isolation. Breithaupt said that throughout her professional experience and research, she has found that shame is a common feeling among binge eaters. Feelings of shame can keep individuals from participating in activities previously engaged in or enjoyed. “So if an individual used to enjoy going to dinner with friends, that sort of social community setting is no longer enjoyable for them,” Breithaupt said. Breithaupt said that treatment for binge eating disorder is typically “ongoing” and “continuous.” She expects individuals in the new group therapy program gain skills from the sessions that they can build over time.
Outlier sheds light on diversity in the LGBTQ community
SAVANNAH NORTON | LIFESTYLE EDITOR
The Office of Student Media’s newest publication, Outlier Magazine, is taking a look into the uncensored minds of millennials and shedding a spotlight on diversity within the LGBTQ community. The magazine will share various art, prose and writing submissions, identifying with all LGTBQ backgrounds. Outlier’s spring issue is set to print Friday, April 8. Outlier was inspired by Outloud Magazine, Outlier’s sister publication, which was published by Student Media in 2011. “What’s different from Outloud, here, is that it was mainly to educate allies on what being gay is,” senior and Editor in Chief of Outlier, Tom Shaw, said. “This [Outlier] is more of a celebration of being different within the community.” The Outlier staff wanted to honor the Outloud’s legacy, but also talk about real issues facing diverse members of the LGBTQ community. The magazine will explore topics including global human rights, domestic advocacy and culture. Shaw is the lightbulb behind the idea of Outlier, wanting to share with the community these experiences common among millennials. Shaw began working the Office of Student Media over the summer and is currently the marketing and outreach manager for Student Media. He shared how the idea for the Outlier came about while he was working at the office. “I was going through the archives, and it just so happen to be Pride Week, and [I thought,] ‘what better way to have a Flashback Friday than to show Outloud magazine?’” Shaw said. “It [Outloud] was a huge hit in 2011 and no one currently knows about it.” Flashback Friday is when social media does a throw back and posts an old article or photo. Shaw’s post about Outloud was one of the most shared and viewed Flashback Friday posts in the student media website history. From there, Shaw had some conversations with Kathryn Mangus, the director of the Office of Student Media, about how to get a magazine in the works that would continue what Outloud started. Mangus was supportive of Shaw’s idea. “I never anticipated to start something like this up again,” Shaw said. “But the amount of support we have received in Student Media has really motivated us to push forward with this project.” A decade ago, people often learned about the LGBTQ community through what they saw on TV shows and movies, which was not always accurate. “Because LGBTQ people really weren’t out, all they knew was on television,” Shaw said. “A lot of that was like ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,’ ‘Will and Grace’ -- a lot of conceptions of gay white men as very flamboyant.” Shaw explained Outloud was a response to that. “I feel like a lot of the articles entries were geared toward educating the main demographic of a large majority of straight people, whether they are allies [of the LGBTQ community] or not,” Shaw said. “And that was really good for 2011. That was what we needed.” Flash forward to 2016 and the LGBTQ community has a huge representation. “The media almost fetishizes being lesbian, gay or transgender,” Shaw said. “What we [Outlier staff] are doing is clearing up some of that representation or that lack of attention to very serious issues in the community.”
(SAVANNAH NORTON/ FOURTH ESTATE)
“Where Outloud was coming out, Outlier is about being different,” Shaw said. “We want to challenge the reader to think a little beyond what they think they know.” Outlier will focus on the underrepresented and misrepresented voices in the LGBTQ community. Shaw wants interested readers to know that more than anything, it is a magazine about diversity.
“Our vision is that we incite a lot of what drives us into these different universities,” Shaw said. “We want them [the community] to not just look at gay white people as the poster people of this entire movement, and [to realize] that we need to talk about very ugly truths in a very honest way. But also really beautiful truths in a really great way.”
“Outlier looks at different levels of ability and disability, different socioeconomic classes, race, ethnicity, culture, political ideology and religion,” Shaw said. “We want to know the story of what it is like to be a gay Republican with an immigrant status.” The staff wants to share stories from demographics that are underrepresented by popular media.
The magazine will challenge readers with op-ed pieces and imagery. “We will be doing a lot of raw, at the real images representing our articles and writers,” Shaw said. “You will see what our writers look like and see what the face of the queer millennial demographic appears to be. No one is the same, and that is the really cool part.”
Shaw pointed out that his staff has not heard of any other college-level LGBTQ magazines and are taking a big step in publishing stories for the voices not being heard, specifically in the D.C. area. “We are focusing on what is it like to be queer and a millennial in this region,” Shaw said.
Shaw related the current struggles in the LGBTQ community to the Black Lives Matter movement. “I respect the Black Lives Matter movement so much because it is unapologetically proud,” he said. “They are activating and respecting themselves and honoring themselves without any mind to the rest of the general public. That is what we look for here [at Outlier] too.”
He explained that Washington, D.C., is special because we are at a huge turning point in American history. “Human rights are becoming a top priority for queer people,” Shaw said. “If a politician or business CEO doesn’t support human rights for queer people, then that could tank their company or reputation. There is a lot of weight in being a queer person today.” Shaw said this is new for the LGBTQ community. “This community has so many millennials on the brink of making something happen,” Shaw said. “[They are] experiencing things that no one else has ever experienced in our community.” The magazine will not only be shared with Mason, but also circulate throughout nine universities between Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Southern Maryland. It will be distributed to student resource offices at Northern Virginia Community College, Howard University, Gallaudet University, University of Maryland, Georgetown University, George Washington University, American University, Marymount University and D.C. Public University. Outlier’s staff will also be sending the magazine out to top news organizations like the Washington Post.
Outlier wants to be an way for students to share their uncensored stories. “This isn’t a diary, by any means. These are narratives, but we really want to articulate that if you have a story, our editors want to help you write it.” The magazine staff will be holding a launch party open to the public Friday, May 6. More information on this celebration will be shared on Outlier’s official website. “We will have speakers, entertainment and tons of copies of the magazine,” Shaw said.
Student Guide to the 2016 Cherry Blossom Festival
( SAVANNAH NORTON / FOURTH ESTATE)
CYNTHIA JESSUP | STAFF WRITER
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Prepare yourself for massive crowds and beautiful trees at this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival, a time-honored tradition held in Washington, D.C., and a must-see for locals. The trees will be in bloom from March 20 - April 17, with peak blooms predicted for March 17-28. The festival features seven different hybrids of cherry blossom trees, which will line the streets and neighborhoods around the area of the festival.
Location: Japan Information and Culture Center, 1150 18th St. NW, Ste. 100, Washington, D.C. 20036
From Mason’s Fairfax campus, you can ride the Mason Shuttle to the Vienna Metro and take the Orange Line right to the heart of the festival at the Smithsonian stop. Check the event’s website for Metro fare listings and a map that includes local dining areas and museums.
Closest Metro Stop: Farragut North
Many events will be held in celebration of Japanese culture and the United States’ friendship with the country. Here are some events to keep in mind as you plan your trip. And, be sure to share pics with us at @gmufourthestate, using the hashtag #masonblossom.
Time: 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Sat., March 26 Opening Ceremony Time: 5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Location: Warner Theatre, 513 13th Street, NW Start off your trip on the right foot by attending the opening ceremony and witness world-renowned performers at Warner Theater as we begin to celebrate. Closest Metro Stop: Metro Center
GAMARJOBAT, the world-renowned, mohawk-sporting pantomime duo from Japan, is known for fascinating audiences with thoroughly-plotted acts and explosive energy -- without saying a word. Seating is limited and free registration is required. All ages are welcome.
Wed., March 30 Tsugaru Shamisen Dois “HAZUKI” Location: Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20566 Join the JICC at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage for the return of Ko Takahashi and Misao Habu as Tsugaru Shamisen Dois HAZUKI. Each playing shamisen – a traditional Japanese instrument from the late Meiji period – the duo has created a new fusion of percussive tsugaru-style shamisen music with the addition of a synthesizer, cello and drums. Cherishing old traditions while creating new music, this duo combines traditional Japanese folk songs with fresh new sounds for a truly original performance. The performance is open to all ages. Closest Metro Stop: Foggy Bottom
Sat., April 9
Mon., March 28
Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
GAMARJOBAT: A Shut Up (Silent) Comedy from Japan
Time: 1 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Location: Southwest Waterfront 600 Water Street, SW to the Waterfront Park and Titanic Memorial All ages are welcome to enjoy live music and entertainment right along the Potomac River. The fireworks display begins at 8:30 p.m. Keep an out for cherry blossom fireworks! Closest Metro Stop: Waterfront
Sat., April 16 National Cherry Blossom Parade Enjoy this long-standing Washington tradition featuring extravagant floats, huge helium balloons, marching bands and family entertainment.
Sat., April 16 Cherry Blast Time: 6 p.m. – 2 a.m. Location: Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square, 801 K St. NW, Washington D.C. 20001 Every spring, this vibrant gathering proves a popular combination of Japanese sights, sounds and tastes, and now an infusion of pop culture. From Manga and gaming, to electric drifting competitions, visitors can enjoy an array of activities. Participate in cosplay contests and learn about the latest Japanese fashion trends. Visitors can also sample Tokyo street food and sake, and participate in sushi-making workshops. Saving the best for last, discover D.C.’s largest Japanese-inspired dance party at the end of the night, which showcases Asia’s alluring club and techno scenes. Closest Metro Stops: Mount Vernon Square and Gallery Place-Chinatown.
#GMU Me: ‘nah I heard Satan doesn’t like it there’
TO DO THIS WEEK: MONDAY 3/21
Stress Managment/ Nutrition Info Session
“Asian lady in JC: ‘do you go to church’
30th Annual Virginia Wine and Craft Festival
Johnson Center 333 - Meeting Room D
106 Chester St. Front Royal
1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
She didn’t really like that”
@KelseySine Kelsey Sine
TUESDAY 3/22 Off campus:
On campus: “Things I don’t have time for: taking a nap. Things I’m doing anyway: taking a nap.”
Pilates Barre Fusion
National Treasue Tour at Mount Vernon
Johnson Center G34 - Dance Studio
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway 9:30 a.m.- 3 p.m.
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
WEDNESDAY 3/23 On campus:
Off-Campus Appreciation Breakfast
Smart Farmers Market
The Hub Ballroom
“I’ve consumed 9 shots of espresso within the past 13 minutes so this either means that I’m going to kill both of my exams tomorrow or die.”
@CourtneyFaythe Courtney Brown
Unity of Fairfax Church
8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
THURSDAY 3/24 Off campus:
Mason Science Slam RSO
Research Hall 163
“Damn Mason Wifi back at it again with the bullshit and it’s barely been a day.”
@Captain_Pooter Peter Abbey
FRIDAY 3/25 On campus: NPHC Step Show Center for the Arts- Concert Hall 7 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Off campus: Tiesto Echostage 9 p.m.
Two weeks ago began spring training for baseball teams and fans across the country. Many headed down to sunny Florida to see how the Washington Nationals were shaping up. Originally, we expected our skeptic writer, Ben Criswell, to come back to Fairfax with low hopes for the Nationals season. However, both Criswell, and assistant sports editor, Ben Cowlishaw, came back from spring training in agreement- the nationals have a bright season ahead of them. While they agree on the Nationals impressive future, they came home with different views about what stood out on the diamond. They also have vastly different picks for the potential winners of each league. See why both Ben’s think this is the Nats year and who they expect to take home the win in each league.
Hey nationals fans, this is your year BEN CRISWELL| STAFF WRITER
2016, this is the year. Sound familiar? On paper, the Washington Nationals rotation is as good if not better than any other rotation in baseball. On paper, Nationals lineup is as formidable as their competitors. On paper, the Washington Nationals are the best team in baseball. On paper. If only reality was so kind. The 2015 World Series featured a George Brett go-ahead home run nullified by the excessive use of pine tar and Doc Gooden pitching a no-hitter high on cocaine. Oh wait…that was 30 years ago. Instead, the Nationals were left watching Daniel Murphy and the current New York Mets, face-off against the Kansas City Royals. The Royals, after a 4-1 World Series win, got to actually party like it was 30 years ago. At the Nationals spring training this past week, you wouldn’t have been able to tell the Nationals finished seven games back of those New York Mets, while walking around Space Coast Stadium. Sunburned patrons donning their breezer hats filled the stadium almost to capacity taking every opportunity to chat up Bryce Harper in right field, or ask Papelbon how many times he’s planning on throwing down with the leagues reigning MVP. Yes, the MVP lives in D.C. but aside from that, 2015 was a year Nationals fans would like to forget. So here were are- 2016. This is the year for the Nationals. Or is it? Gone are a host of familiar faces such as Ian Desmond, Denard Span, and Jordan Zimmermann. Out is 2014 Manager of the Year Matt Williams and in comes Daniel Murphy, Ben Revere, and Dusty Baker. For the first time in the Bryce Harper era the Washington Nationals are not, on paper, the favorites to win the World Series. Instead the Chicago Cubs sit at two to one odds to win it all. Seriously, what year is it? The Nationals lineup will essentially look the same as last year. Ben Revere (Denard Span 2.0) will replace Span in center and lead off. Danny Espinosa will likely start the season at shortstop
and Murphy will take over second base. Harper, Werth, Rendon, Zimmerman, and Ramos will fill out the rest of the lineup barring any injuries. Cross your fingers, Nats fans. A player to keep your eye on will be Trea Turner, the 22-year old shortstop ranked fifth on MLB.com’s list of top shortstop prospects. Turner could start the season in Minor Leagues, but will surely be called up sooner rather than later as he is projected to be the shortstop of th-e future for the Nats. Not hat I’m putting any stock in projections for a DC sports team. It seems the Nationals are poised for another run at the World Series effectively putting them in year three of their window of opportunity. The third year in a row since their first playoff appearance in 2013. For those of you who may not know, a window in baseball usually lasts between three and eight years. What follows the window could range anywhere from a two to a 100 year wasteful abyss, depending on if you play in New York or have gone 108 years since the Cubbies last won it all.
paper, should be good. How good? We don’t know. We do know Dusty Baker is in his first year and might take some time figuring out all the right buttons to push. We haven’t seen an offense coupled with a pitching staff all come together with this level of talent in years. The fact that we haven’t seen it all come together, however, should be a sign of optimism. I mean come on, there’s no way the Nationals play less than 10 games with their starting lineup again, right? It’s 2016. After a year of hope falling flat, we get another chance. This is the year.
For the Nationals, time is ticking. It seems odd considering they’re a young team, but Werth and Zimmerman have age on them. On top of that, there is a potential 500 million dollar contract for the rule-hating MVP Bryce Harper from the New York Yankees. The team is good, really good, but they won’t be good for long. So where are we? Well, we know the Nationals, on
(BEN COWLISHAW/FOURTH ESTATE)
Spring training brings high hopes for Nats fans BEN COWLISHAW | ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR
Beat the drum and hold the phone, the sun came out today. There’s no better symbol for a change of seasons like Spring Training baseball. Everyone’s team is in first place, everyone believes this is “our year.” It’s a chance to see the game’s biggest stars play alongside the aces and sluggers of tomorrow. A stiff wind blew straight out to right field at Space Coast Stadium in warm and friendly Florida. The sun shined brightly through a clear sky as it set behind the park as the Nationals took on the Astros in a Grapefruit League game. The game moved quickly as the starters, McHugh for the Astros and Arroyo for the Nats, each threw three scoreless frames before being replaced. For both of these teams, the stakes at spring training couldn’t be higher. A spring win-loss record doesn’t matter, but what these teams learn from their preseason play is invaluable. The Astros came out on top and happily brought home the W. Last year the young and stacked Astros, behind Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, shocked the sports world and broke into their first postseason since losing over 100 games just two years prior. After beating the Yankees in the Wild Card game, the Astros lost an AL Division Series matchup to the eventual World Series winning Kansas City Royals. The Astros are an incredibly young and incredibly deep team, with an impressive concentration of some of the game’s best fresh talent — and after being the most laughable losers for much of the last decade, the Astros set to be a perennial
The Nationals couldn’t be in a more different place. Bryce Harper has established himself as one of the most feared hitters in baseball and the team built around him has been the expected best-team-inbaseball for close to five years running. What do they have to show for it? A pair of division titles and a postseason win-loss record of 3-6. In true Washingtonian style, the Nats have consistently disappointed fans and failed to meet the expectations of the baseball world. What do the Nats have going for them? They will play 2016 in one of the worst divisions in baseball. The Phillies and Braves could collectively lose over 180 games and their only threat will be last year’s NL Champion Mets, with a catch — last year’s National League Championship Series MVP, second baseman Daniel Murphy, left Queens for Washington, potentially giving the Nats a new edge over New York. It showed, with the Nationals crushing the Mets 9-5 the day after their Astros loss.
the division into it’s strongest position in years. Last year’s division winning Rangers greatly exceeded expectations and overcame a terrible start to re-establish themselves as the best in the West. The Angels, however — with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols — continue to lurk, evermore hungry for a taste of October success that has inexplicable evaded them for years. There’s a lot to like about both teams. Unless they collectively fall in a sophomore slump, there’s no reason to think the Astros can’t improve on their exceptional season as the team gains more and more major league experience. The Nats have retooled, appear healthy, and play in a division ripe to deliver wins. The Nationals and Astros won’t face each other in the regular season last year, but a ticket to October is theirs to lose. An Astros-Nationals World Series isn’t out of the ballpark.
Meanwhile, the Astros will play in one of the toughest divisions. The American League West has oscillated year after year from one of the worst divisions to one of the deadliest and this season the pendulum has swung
(BEN COWLISHAW/FOURTH ESTATE)
Nationals could take home World Series BEN CRISWELL| STAFF WRITER
AL West: Houston Astros The Astros made the playoffs for the first time in 10 years in 2015 and looked poised to overtake the Rangers for the AL West crown. A full year with Cargo in center field coupled with emerging superstar Carlos Correa should be enough to win 90+ games. AL Central: Chicago White Sox The White Sox? Really? It is really hard to repeat in baseball, more difficult than any other sport. Look for the Royals to return to their mid-market earth and the White Sox win the division comfortably. The addition of Todd Frazier gives the White Sox some pop in the middle of the lineup, and adding old man Jimmy Rollins sures them up shortstop. Look for Chris Sale to be a legitimate Cy Young candidate in a 90+ win season for Obama’s team.
Champions 2010, 2012, and 2014) and 2016 is an even year. Look for Bruce Bochy and the boys to have a resurgent year on the backs of great pitching and a balanced lineup.
Bryce Harper does his best Daniel Murphy impersonation (even though it shouldn’t been Harper, not Murphy, last year) after his second straight MVP.
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals
AL Wild Card: Kansas City Royals vs. Toronto Blue Jays
This might be mostly out of spite towards everyone (and I mean everyone) picking the Cubs to win the World Series. The division winner will most likely have to reach 100 wins. I like the Cardinals chances more so than a young Cubs team.
Both the Royals and Blue Jays will be significantly worse in 2016 – the Royals losing Johnny Cueto and The Blue Jays losing David Price. Both will be good and both will make the playoffs (partly due to a weaker American League) but neither will be good enough to make it back to the ALCS.
NL East: Washington Nationals ALCS: Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox Health was a major issue for the Nationals in 2015. With a healthy lineup, Washington should win over 90 games. Look for Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon to do most of the work at the plate coupled with an already stellar pitching staff.
This series will come down to pitching and defense, with a little help from some valuable post season experience on the Boston side. In the end it just could be a year too early for the Astros as the Sox go on to win in five games.
NL Wild Card: Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers AL East: Boston Red Sox One word: David Price. Price will look to duplicate his performance from last year and carry the Sox to the playoffs. Pablo Sandoval and rising star Mookie Betts will do much of the heavy lifting for the Boston offense
World Series: Washington Nationals vs. Boston Red Sox The Cubs will be good this upcoming season, but not good enough to do any serious damage in the playoffs. Chicago’s young talent will be enough to get them into the playoffs and maybe even a series win in the first round, but that’s where it ends. NLCS: Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants
NL West: San Francisco Giants It seems the Giants like playing in even years (World Series
In a rematch of the 2014 NLDS, Drew Storen redeems himself with a game seven save sending the Nationals to the World Series.
Winner: Washington Nationals Maybe a year later than expected, the Nationals put it all together in one the most dominant post-season performances in history closing out the World Series in five games. Steven Strasburg caps off his first Cy Yong award with a World Series ring and Bryce Harper is awarded World Series MVP.
Cubs may steal Series from Nationals BEN COWLISHAW| STAFF WRITER
AL West - Texas Rangers Rangers vs. Astros has suddenly become one of the most exciting and important rivalries in baseball. Texas made an unlikely run to win the division in 2015 with staff ace Yu Darvish out all season and without a left fielder (Mike Napoli saw 11 starts in left last year) - a role Ian Desmond will now fill. A rotation led by Cole Hamels and Derek Holland will be reinforced by Darvish in the first half of the season, and the Rangers have superb infield depth while DeShields, Choo and Desmond will be the strongest outfield the Rangers have had since Cruz and Hamilton. This team couldn’t look more different than the team that repeated as American League Champions earlier this decade, but this is the best the Rangers have looked in the Globe Life era. AL Central - Chicago White Sox You used to be able to count on seeing a win every time an AL Central team came to town, save for Detroit. Now all five teams will be looking for an October berth. It would be tough for Kansas City to three-peat as American League Champions, and the White Sox have a daunting 1-2 punch in Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. The Tigers and Indians are built to win games too — three teams from this division making the playoffs would be impressive, but not a surprise. AL East - Toronto Blue Jays More than half of Toronto’s lineup is on the wrong side of 30, and the Red Sox look poised for a resurgence. Having said that, I’m not convinced Clay Buchholz, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval
are all bound to have the bounce-back seasons they need in order for the Red Sox to be a convincing sure-thing in the East, and with age comes experience for Toronto’s big bats. Sorry, Baltimore fans. Last year made it clear that the O’s window has come and gone.
It’s full steam ahead at Wrigley for the lovable losers. Hey Chicago, what d’you say, the Cubs are going to win a hell of a lot of games this season. Baseball’s most reliable October contender - the Cardinals - will be right behind them the whole way. Just be glad if your team doesn’t play in the NL Central.
AL Wild Cards - Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox NL East - Washington Nationals The AL Wild Card race will be contested to game 162, with the AL Central looking to break open as the league’s deepest division. There’s a good chance that works against them, with the Rangers and Astros getting to play against a pair of likely 90-loss teams within their division a few dozen times to pad their wins. AL Champion - Houston Astros Yes, I picked their division rival Rangers to win the Silver Boot, and with it the division. I’m not dumb enough to pick my own team to win a championship though, so I’ll give it to the next best team. I’ve got the I-45 rival Astros taking the American League via a Wild Card berth, and facing the biggest loser in American professional sports in the World Series. It should be a good one. NL West - San Francisco Giants Well, there’s not much more to be said than “it’s an even year,” though I don’t have the Giants seeing another Fall Classic. The Dodgers might look flashier on paper, but the Giants are one of the most well-rounded clubs in baseball, and that matters in a 162 game season.
Bryce Harper has cemented himself as one of the most feared hitters in the game, and maturity isn’t a requirement to win games. The Nats look as complete as they have in recent years, and may have a better shot at having a full lineup than they did last season. Daniel Murphy has been shipped in from Queens, so look for the Nats to try to fulfill their destiny (just a few years later than planned). NL Wild Cards - St Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers Either of these teams are capable of winning their division, but losing Greinke to the Diamondbacks won’t help L.A. I’d still take L.A. in this matchup — Kershaw will win any playoff game he pitches. NL Champion - Chicago Cubs They only way the Cubs could have more depth is if they were allowed to have a pair of active 25-man rosters. I see Chicago pushing the 100 win mark and all the way to the World Series. Go ahead, party like it’s 1908.
NL Central - Chicago Cubs World Series - Chicago Cubs
Meet Sydney Fisher: Mason swimming’s secret weapon DARIAN BANKS| MANAGING EDITOR
Freestyle swimmer and Mason junior, Sydney Fisher, had a successful meet at the Atlantic 10 Swimming and Diving Championships last month, where she defended her title in the 50-yard freestyle; broke her A-10 record; and lowered her team and meet record. As a junior and NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship hopeful, Fisher still has a year at Mason to continue breaking records and exceeding goals. Fourth Estate sat down with Fisher so we could learn more about her life both in and out of the pool. FE: You had a lot of awesome success at the Atlantic 10 Championships. How does that feel getting out of the pool and knowing you reached your goals? SF: It’s really nice. I feel like I had a breakout last year at our invite meet, and I set a few meet records there. I wasn’t far off from some team records, so going into A-10s, I was one of the top qualifiers, and I’ve never been there before. I was kind of nervous ... this year going into A-10s. I won the 50-meter freestyle last year, so I was definitely more confident, because I knew I needed to defend my title. I was the only girl under 23, so I knew I could do this again and be able to succeed. For the 100-meter butterfly, I really just
had a breakout swim there. I didn’t see that coming and I was definitely very nervous for that, because that was an event I wasn’t guaranteed to win. FE: When did you get involved in swimming? SF: When I was 12 I started swimming competitively and from there, I started to pick up the skills and found that I enjoyed it and started doing it year round. Fisher has been surrounded by professional swimmers her whole life. Her mother also swam competitively in college, and Fisher’s head coach, Peter Ward, competed in the Olympics after swimming for the Canadian National Swimming Team from 1979-88. Hired in 1998, Ward founded Mason’s swim program. FE: What made you want to swim competitively in college? SF: My senior year, my coach was asking me where I was looking at [for college], because he swam in college. And, my mom swam in college, so I was just very interested. FE: How did you choose Mason?
SF: I started getting a lot of offers from D2 and D3 schools. Mason and University of South Carolina were the only two schools that were D1 that I was looking at. South Carolina’s roster was full and they were telling me I could come in a year, and I was like, ‘Well, I’m not going to take off a year.’ So I actually contacted them [Mason], and they didn’t know who I was. I came on a recruiting trip and enjoyed it. I didn’t end up committing until the very last minute, but I’m happy I came here. I don’t think I could see myself anywhere else, honestly. FE: And you’ve done well here. SF: Yes, I have. I never thought I would be at this level. Coming here, I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll do this and this,’ but I never thought that I’d be an actual competitor to provide to the team because I was just an average swimmer. But I’ve gotten a lot better since being here. I dropped a second and a half from my 53 meter, and four and a half to five seconds from my 100-meter butterfly. It may not seem like a lot, but even a second is a lot to drop. FE: What are your swim goals for next year? SF: My goal for next year is just to podium and get under 50 seconds. Overall, we did really well! I know my best time this year,
but it’s still not where I want to be. My number one goal is to make NCAA’s [list of] top 40 competitors in the country for each event. There are Olympians and girls who have been swimming for years. NCAA is actually quicker than the Olympic qualifying times tend to be and you still get to be there with top tier swimmers.
sports down, you back them up and make sure they’re okay.
don’t really stray away.
Fisher shared about a recent experience when she nearly “broke down” at an event because she was “caught up in her own head.” The pressure to do well can be overwhelming, but Fisher said she realized that winning isn’t everything if you do your best.
FE: What’s your favorite Mason swim memory so far?
FE: What does a normal day look like for you in season? SF: Monday, Wednesday and Friday we have practice, so I wake up at 5:45 a.m., and we have practice at 6:15 a.m. We usually lift for an hour, and then we’ll have practice for an hour. Weight room is always something different, but for swimming, it’s usually a routine. FE: How do you think competing and practicing year round has taken a toll on you? SF: In high school, I swam maybe five times a week for an hour and half or two hours. Here, it’s nine practices a week, two hours a week. And I think it’s only benefitted me. I’ve started lifting weights, which I’ve never done before, so I think that has just made me grow more. It also makes you have to manage your time better. You swim, you have school, you want to be able to balance all of this these, and you’re tired. You’re more tired than you used to be, so you have to figure out when you’re going to get your homework done and when you’re going to hang out with your friends. You have to get A and B done before you can do C. Fisher plans to stay in the area this summer to continue training for the Olypmic trials this summer. Only the top two finalists from each event advance. Because of this, Fisher’s training has had to change to help her prepare. SF: It’s an Olympic year, so I’m going to trials in July in Omaha. I’ve never trained in the summer, so it’s gong to be different. But I will be here in the summer, so they’ll have their fun with me. That meet is essentially how you qualify for the Olympics -- if you’re not at that meet, then you’re not going. FE: Is going to the Olympics the ultimate goal? SF: That’s everyone’s dream, but I do not see myself placing second and going just because I am not even in the top 10 with time. But just being at that meet will be cool because I’ll get to see people like Michael Phelps and get to hang out with them. You get to watch them live rather than just watching them on TV. I just qualified three weeks ago at an event at the Naval Academy.
SF: Your parents always tell you that they don’t care whether you win or lose. [They say,] ‘As long as you’re having fun, we’re having fun.’ So essentially, that’s just what I told myself. At the end of the day, this is a very mental sport and if you can’t grasp it mentally, then you’re not going to succeed. You put pressure on yourself, because you set goals for yourself, but it’s very hard [not to get in your own head]. FE: If there was one thing you could tell other people about swimming as a sport, what would it be?
SF: One of my favorite memories was my freshman year at conferences. I was really nervous. I didn’t qualify for finals in the 100-meter freestyle, but they were debating who to put on relay. There was this junior who had been on it [relay] previously, and she talked to me and told me to tell the coaches whether or not I wanted to be on it. And I was a freshman, but they put me on it, and we ended up getting on the podium and getting second place. That was really cool, because it was my first time really getting to be with them [the upperclassmen]. I had decent swims before, but nothing to stand out. That meet was my first time really swimming with the big dogs. FE: When you’re not in the pool where can we find you?
SF: I don’t think other people understand our practice regimen. I do truly think it’s a lot more difficult than other sports here [at Mason]. I think a lot of sports here have one practice a day, mid-afternoon, earliest they have is 10 o’clock [a.m.]. Whereas we’re up at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning, and we’re done working out before a majority of this campus is awake, so it’s very, very hard. You have to stay focused and stay on top of things in order to succeed. A lot of people don’t see it, and they ask if you want to do things, but you’re like, ‘Oh, I have practice,’ and you have to work everything around around it. Practice comes first.
SF: Home! I am usually just hanging out. We [the swimmers and I] don’t really do too much ... We chill with the team.
With a strict practice schedule and schoolwork, Fisher also manages to babysit part time. However, swimming comes first in her life. She explained how this mindset is often only understood by other swimmers, which makes them a closer as a team.
SF: I’m a kinesiology major with a coaching minor. Once I graduate, immediately I am probably looking at coaching of some sort. My goal is to not have to move home! As fun as it is to coach little kids, once you get to higher levels it’s fun to see how they develop. I’ll probably look into doing more collegiate- and high school-level strength and conditioning.
SF: We all understand what we’re dealing with everyday so it’s a lot easier to live with that. Whereas if you live with someone that doesn’t understand or isn’t an athlete, they might not understand. It’s a very different lifestyle that a lot of people don’t realize and if they ask, it can be explained, and they realize that it’s a lot. We do a lot to just succeed and to try and keep ourselves going. We push each other, and if we do hang out, we hang out with other athletes or each other. I think, honestly, just the team aspect is what people don’t understand. When we do stuff, we do it together, and we
FE: What’s a fun fact about you? SF: I have five siblings: one stepsister, two step brothers, a half sister and a full sister, but it’s kind of nice having that [a step family] because I get double holidays! FE: What is your major?
This summer, Fisher will be coaching a team of 75 swimmers in Fairfax while juggling summer classes and training for the Olympic trials, which take place in July.
While training and goals seem individualized, Fisher expressed positivity about the team. She has seen the dynamics change since her freshman year and says it’s hard to make sure the entire team is united, but members of the team have stepped up to mentor younger members. SF: I care a lot about this team and making sure that we are one united and not separated. You see so many teams that are separated and my freshman year, the seniors just unified everybody. That kind of left [when the seniors graduated] and it’s been a little bit difficult, but there have been a few people that have stepped up in places. I like to think that I’ve helped in some ways, because I’m able to show them you don’t [always] have [to have] a good meet, but in the end you have to keep striving. We go through a lot of hard practices, and pushing through it is difficult at times. But when you have that team bond and you see one of your teammates get
PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS