FOURTH ESTATE April 27, 2015 | Volume 2 Issue 23 George Mason University’s official student news outlet gmufourthestate.com | @IVEstate
Come together, right now Faculty working to expand collaborative research | page 6-7 (SONGJUN DENG/FOURTH ESTATE)
INSIDE: NEWS / RENAMING PRINCE WILLIAM / 8 • LIFESTYLE / FEMINISM / 11 • SPORTS / CONCUSSIONS / 18
Fourth Estate 2 04.27.2015 The Name of this Student News Source is Fourth Estate
“Everybody’s getting younger / It’s the end of an era it’s true” Holy hell, you all let me do like 36 of these things? I guess you have to let things reach rock bottom before finally going on the up and up. And boy is it collegiate as hell to bookend my final column with song lyrics. All self-deprecating aside, I think I will wade in some final brain farts on trying to encapsulate what all of *this* meant these past two years and what Mason and its people meant to me for my four years here. Then I will get into some real sentiment like some nightmarish credit sequence where I will give praise to people who deserve it rather than prolonged subjection to my words. The easy way for me to sum up what all of this meant to me would be just a not so subtle Dickensian cribbing, but he nailed it, there were times when my experience at Mason and doing this were indelible moments of my life and there were definitely times where I wanted to just pack it all in and give up. I came to Mason as a hesitant local who did not really want to be here in the first place. I did not have that many close friends and was sure of my intentions to either transfer after a year or just put my head down and get that piece of paper as soon as possible without making a peep. There are days where I still feel like that same apathetic kid but those days are far and few between. That is because of what I got to do here at Fourth Estate. My former colleague wrote his final screed on how Mason lacks some sort of ubiquitous sense of community, and while a lot of those points remain valid, I feel like the major thesis rings hollow. Life to this point should not about fitting into some macro, loose sense of community just because you share a mailing address, it should be about the small groups and communities you build for yourself by joining organizations like this one. The people I have cared about most in my time here have been any name that has appeared alongside mine along the right there. It is fine to be honest with yourself and just resign yourself to the fact that you and the others who stumbled in Pilot House at 2 a.m. only have a cursory and vapid shared experience. Going to a college that has a culture that you can build on might be for some, but nostalgia for the past and traditions sounds horrible to me. There will not be a community gathering for Mason students of my class when we are all in the dirt, but rather it is the people you reach out to because they share common goals and interests as you and it is up to all of you to carve that niche and sense of belonging. That is exactly what I did. I am a perpetually awkward weirdo who stumbled into this thing where people come together to write and talk about things that matter to us and you. The moments of my time here that matter would not have come from some big, communally shared moment by all students at Mason, but rather it might be the moment where I was with the people that mattered most to me at that time in a conference room howling with laughter while one half of my staff tried to act out the clues in vain in the final round of Catchphrase.
Like I said, sure, there were moments when I thought all that entails of this job and working on deadlines -while simultaneously juggling school work and other obligations -- was the most taxing mental toll at that point in my life. I still believe that, since trying to cover a university with such a secretive and arcane structure can wear down even the most patient person, but it’s worth it every week when I get to come into my office every day and see my staff grinding away doing their best and going through their own agonies and ecstasies. The beauty of getting to work here and make this happen also involves getting the right to be wrong and screw up. There are definitely times when I have been dead wrong about a viewpoint on an issue or wasn’t as prudent about something as I should have been. Once you’re out of here, your mistakes become magnified because you don’t get the benefit of being in a place for people to learn. Fourth Estate started out as an experiment. We wanted to tear down institutional barriers to make something that is representative of the ideals of adapting and creating something that fosters value to readers and those who are involved with working here. This would become the place where I make some grand state of the union-esque proclamation about us, but since I lack any sort of self-confidence, I honestly don’t have a good self-reflection of where we stand. I think I put forth a good effort in trying to continue the vision for what we want to do as an organization down the road, but I know I could have put more of an effort to increase our scope of coverage. What I can tell you though is that I am excited for what Fourth Estate will be in the next year. There are some developments in the works, but the most concrete example of improvement that I can share is telling you about the next people who will be atop our masthead, Sara Moniuszko and Alexa Rogers. I have had the pleasure of working with Sara and Alexa since I began as editor-in-chief last spring. Alexa was our news editor and Sara was the first person I unilaterally hired for my specific print vertical. These two will serve as co-editors of Fourth Estate for the next semester, at least. I could not be more excited to entrust these two excellent people to continue improving what we do. Sara instantly impressed me when she came in to interview for her old position because she was the most prepared with ideas and vision for where she wanted to take the lifestyle section. She has not betrayed the first impression she made on me because she has been one of my most reliable editors, and seeing her grow as a writer, editor and thinker has been a joy to be witness to. I know she will be able to continue growing the lifestyle section and the organization as a whole to something that I could have only hoped of reaching. This might only make sense if you know her but Alexa is Alexa. In my time knowing her she has been a great person to work with, but maybe an even better friend. In that same time, we have been at odds on a number of things and purposefully challenging to one another, but that’s what makes her such a great worker because she is always questioning the ‘why.’ But, and this comes from purely a place of trying to embarrass her with
sincerity, she is one of the best people I’ve gotten to know at Mason because of all the above love/hate reasons. She will come after topics and issues here in a way only she can, and that alone will make this organization better than I could have made it. Now, it’s time for the full court press of sap. First, I have to give love to my mom, dad and brother. Mostly because they have to put up with me, but I consider myself extremely fortunate to have such a close relationship with my family. They mean everything to me, and I wouldn’t be doing anything I love without their support. The most important person that helped Fourth Estate even exist has been our faculty adviser, Kathryn Mangus. Kathryn has been a rock of support to myself and Fourth Estate, in addition to all of our student media organizations. Her tireless work and dedication to all things student media have made my life so much easier in my time here. All of the professional staff, communication team and other student media staffers put in such great work and effort on a daily basis with the minimal resources that this university provides us. It is impressive every day the output that comes from this office and I’m excited to see where it all goes in the future. Then, of course, I care most about the people on my staff so I’ll give a quick rundown of shout outs on my great squad. Past people worth mentioning that I’ve certainly given praise to but bears repeating: Frank Muraca for making all of this happen and for being a great friend and unwilling recipient of many zings, Danny Gregory for being maybe the best friend I made here and just being one of the best dudes while still being an enigma, Niki Papadogiannakis for being maybe the hardest damn worker I’ve known here and Suhaib Khan for being one of the most passionate and smartest persons I’ve met. Now for this year, in no real order, I’ll list some of my favorite things about these wonderful people I get to work with.
Hau Chu Editor-In-Chief
Ellen Glickman Print News Editor
Reem Nadeem Print News Editor
Sara Moniuszko Lifestyle Editor
Savannah Norton Print Lifestyle Editor
Amy Rose Photography Editor
Amy Podraza Asst. Photography Editor
Katie Morgan Design Editor
Walter Martinez Visual Editor
Jill Carter Copy Chief
Laura Baker Illustrator
Ryan Adams Distribution Manager
Kathryn Mangus Director
David Carroll Associate Director Fourth Estate is printed each Monday for George Mason University and its surrounding Fairfax community. The editors of Fourth Estate have exclusive authority over the content that is published.
There are no outside parties I’ll cheat to start because I have the same praise for that play a role in the these two, but Ellen and Reem have just scratched at newspaper’s content, and the surface of what they can do with news coverage. should there be a question or They have killer instincts in them, and better than that, complaint regarding this policy, they’re great people who were definitely feeling that the Editor-in-Chief should be first semester agony that our staff goes through to my notified at the email provided. amusement throughout this semester.
Avery is going to be the most successful person to emerge from here. He is dedicated, passionate and I’m lucky to call him a friend. Raquel just gets things done and is just great at being on point with any task, I really appreciate her perspectives on nearly everything we talk about as a staff. Savannah is a person that every staff needs because she is a joy to work with, and her energy and passion for what we do is what keeps me awake sometimes when we’re in here early on Fridays. Hannah was introduced to me by Frank as someone who would be a great friend for me because we were similar and that has proven true because of how -- in the best way possible -- weird she is. She is also just a great, caring person and may or may not have cried at the end of “Furious 7.”
Fourth Estate is a free publication, limit one copy per person. Additional copies are 25 cents payable to the Office of Student Media. Mail Fourth Estate George Mason University Mail stop 2C5 4400 University Drive Fairfax, Va. 22030 Phone 703-993-2950
Amy Rose is one of the nicest, hardest working people I’ve worked with since she has almost literally worked every job that we have to offer, and her dedication is going to take her far. Amy Podraza might be the person I’ve talked to most on staff, and I’m still learning weird, fun stuff about her everyday. She’s sweet, seemingly willing to listen to my dumb thoughts -- and better than that, willing to laugh at me and tell me I’m an idiot when I veer too weird -- and has been a way more important presence in my life than she probably realizes.
Jill, because I’m a nerd who grew up working with a bunch of other weirdos, is maybe the best realization of someone who’s both a treat and frustratingly good to work with and just smarter than most people you’ll meet who will make you a better worker. Katie has been the low-key MVP of Fourth Estate because everything you’re looking at in this issue is due to her. She has handled my elementary knowledge in all things inDesign with grace, and has put her own style and skill to this paper. Laura is another stealth worker here because of how she’s able to crank out these great illustrations with efficiency and above all a sense of humor. Walter is a jack of all trades, his photography is solid and his graphic work is improving every week. Ryan does the yeoman’s work for us, and he’s zipping around every Monday in the red cart making sure our papers get out there. He’s just a nice dude and gets the job done so consistently, if you see him out there, just thank him for what he does for us. And with that, it’s all over. If, for whatever reason, want to keep track of my life, my information is all below in my byline. I’m here on a Sunday surrounded by most of these people who make this all worth it. I am happy with what we’ve accomplished, I am happy to have been able to share all of this with all of our readers and the Mason community and I am so happy to have been able to work with these people to get it done. This was a hell of a thing to undertake, but I couldn’t have done it without the support of these people. I know you see my words and ramblings on a consistent basis, but nothing gets done without them. It was a pleasure to work with them and to work for this community. “And retire to sheets safe and clean / But don’t hate her when she gets up to leave” HAU CHU | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF GMUFOURTHESTATE@GMAIL.COM @HAUCHU
Follow us on Twitter and Instagram : @IVEstate Check out our website for job opportunities at Fourth Estate next semester.
The George Mason Organic Gardening Association hosted a seedling sale at the Johnson Center South Plaza on April 20.
POPULAR LAST WEEK 1
Best places to cry at Mason Fourth Estate’s Online Lifestyle Editor Hannah Menchhoff visited the five best places to cry on campus as preparation for graduation/ finals week.
(CLAIRE CECIL/FOURTH ESTATE)
Mason Police report third arson of the semester Mason Police reported on Wednesday, April 22 the third arson incident of the semester, this time at Sandbridge Hall.
Students can now take a ride on Campus Drive The Campus Drive entrance to the university opened Saturday, April 19 with a ceremony that gave awards to several members of the Mason and Fairfax communities for their participation in the project.
news Quality versus quantity
Professors discuss being graded by students AMY WOOLSEY | STAFF WRITER
The arrival of May heralds a familiar ritual for Mason students. Amid the stress and sleepless nights synonymous with final exams, they are required to fill out teacher evaluations. It takes about 15 minutes to complete the standardized forms, nothing compared to long hours of studying, but their significance should not be underestimated, say faculty and administrators. “Students are one really important voice in how well a faculty member is doing,” said Kim Eby, associate provost for faculty development and director of the Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence. “If I’m teaching my course, I need to know from my students what’s working well… what strategies or assignments I might be assigning they don’t feel are helping their learning.” Of particular interest to teachers are the written comments, which allow students to give more personal, in-depth feedback. “You get a range of comments – some of them are just disgruntled, some of them are ‘I adore you,’” said Tamara Harvey, an associate professor of English. “Those really sort of critical comments that have specific suggestions and talk fully about what worked and what didn’t, those are the best. But it also requires students caring enough to sit back and think this is worth fixing, and this might be one way to make it better.” Faculty recognize that students approach the evaluations differently, investing variable levels of effort and attention and applying their own values, attitudes and perspectives. “I kind of pay a little more attention to the numbers because there are usually very few comments,” said Michael Malouf, director of the English department graduate program. “You want to have something that’s consistent over time, with an awareness that not every student completes the evaluations, and they don’t put as much thought into it as teachers probably do.” Whereas the comments are kept strictly confidential, seen only by individual faculty members unless submitted for review, the numerical data is available to everyone at Mason. Students can access records of evaluations dating back to 1998 through the Office of Institutional Research and Reporting website. An arm of the provost’s office, the Office of IRR is responsible for administering and processing the evaluations. After the forms are turned in, they get scanned into a computer system that generates a list of instructor and department averages from the scores. “It’s a big job every semester to get [the evaluations], scan them and send them out again,” said Robert McDonnell, the office’s course rating specialist. “In the fall, we have to have them done by the time spring semester starts, so we have to get them done fast. In three weeks, we have to scan 4,000 course evaluations.” Not long ago, online evaluations were introduced to supplement the traditional paper forms. Helen Wu, webmaster for the Office of IRR, wrote the program for these and monitors it on a daily basis. Once the analysis is complete, the evaluations are re-packaged and sent to the various department chairs. “I think students sometimes wonder whoever looks at those,” Eby said. “And the answer is, many people look at those. The department head or the department chair will look at those. Oftentimes, the Office of the Provost looks at those. So they are pretty serious evaluations and get taken very seriously.” For the most part, teachers are left to interpret student critiques at their discretion. Particularly low scores, however, will elicit an investigation by the dean and department chair.
“There are lots of reasons someone could get a low score in any given semester, so I don’t automatically assume because someone has a bad evaluation score that there’s a problem,” said Deborah BoehmDavis, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences dean. “Usually I would talk to the chair and I would say, are there extenuating circumstances? Do you know that this is a known problem?” If a faculty member receives poor evaluations over a long period of time, a remediation plan is developed, and he or she will be referred to the Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence, which provides training and support. Chronically unsatisfactory performance can also affect salaries and damage term faculty’s prospects of renewal. The extent to which student evaluations can be trusted is a topic of heated debate.
(JOHANNAH TUBALADO/FOURTH ESTATE)
Recent studies by Northeastern University and North Carolina State University suggest that they are heavily influenced by gender biases. Women not only tend to earn lower ratings than their male counterparts, but are also routinely described in loaded terms, like “bossy.”
one’s position and teaching load. Tenure-track faculty typically teach two courses a semester and are expected to contribute to their field outside the classroom, such as by producing original scholarship. Term and adjunct faculty, meanwhile, are evaluated on solely their teaching.
“I’ve found that students have different expectations for female faculty members than they do with male faculty members and that comes out in the teaching evaluations and classroom interactions,” said Shannon Davis, associate director of the undergraduate program in sociology. “Students expect female faculty members to be nice and motherly, and when we aren’t, we’re penalized. Whereas when men are warm, it’s such a surprise that they’re rewarded for it.”
Mason’s recent shift toward a more research-oriented model puts extra strain on faculty, many of who already struggle to balance time commitments.
Some find the questions themselves inadequate and too vague to be genuinely informative. Kris Smith, associate provost for the Office of IRR, thinks they would be improved by implementing different versions for different types of classes. Lab evaluations, for instance, would be separate from those for lectures.
In general, though, teachers welcome the opportunity to engage with current scholarly knowledge. While Harvey acknowledges that faculty seldom gain raises or promotions based on their teaching alone, she views research as fundamental to her effectiveness in the classroom rather than as a distraction or burden.
The problem, she said, is that “it’s such a labor-intensive process. We would really have to go completely online for my office to handle the kind of changes that I think would be good.”
“One thing that happens is you bring in things you’re thinking about in your own writing to class,” she said. “In my experience, there’s something interesting that goes on when I’m struggling with an article or trying to work through a new idea and I’m talking to students at the same time about their own wrestling with their ideas. There’s a lot of synergy that goes on.”
It is not unheard of for professors to distribute their own evaluations in addition to those mandated by the university. Midterm evaluations are particularly common. “I think those are often more meaningful, in part because the instructor isn’t thinking about the larger institutional context, so she’s asking the questions she really wants answers to,” Harvey said. “Students are invested in it because it’s change that’s happening in that classroom; at the end of the semester, it’s like, you survived, now you’ve got to go somewhere else.” Student evaluations are just one element used to judge faculty performance. All academic units conduct annual peer reviews, the primary basis for determining salary increases, according to the faculty handbook. Although the exact procedure differs between departments, peer reviews normally involve classroom observations as well as surveys of teaching materials, including syllabi and key assignments. The university also looks at faculty research, service and, if applicable, administration. The weight of each component depends on
“We’re all passionate about our scholarship,” Davis said. “But again, given that the university is relying on part-time and adjunct faculty members, many of who would like to have research agendas but don’t have the resources to make that happen, we’re really not doing ourselves any favors.”
In the end, faculty agree that while student evaluations have their uses, they also have plenty of limitations. On occasion, they can inhibit creativity and growth. “It can be intimidating to try new things, particularly if you fail and students say they didn’t really like it and you get penalized,” Eby said. “That can sometimes discourage a very well-intentioned person from trying to do something different because it can be perceived as risky.” Carla Marcantonio, a film and media studies assistant professor, doubts that it is possible to create a definitive measurement of quality teaching because the process is inherently subjective. “Teaching is really about learning your way, figuring out how to have that rapport in the classroom,” she said. “It’s not a mechanical thing. As cheesy as it sounds, I think it’s more of an art form.”
Mason’s favorite coffee spot gets a makeover
The “wall of chill” at the JC Starbucks.
(CLAIRE CECIL/FOURTH ESTATE)
HAMNA AHMAD | STAFF WRITER
comfiest chairs or couches get taken up really fast,” Thomas said.
The Northern Neck Starbucks is scheduled to undergo renovations this summer. Work will begin immediately after the final examination period and will end on July 15. During this period, the Northern Neck location will be closed to the public, but the Starbucks in the Johnson Center will remain open.
Juniors Maleeha Siddiqui and Julianne Hayag were excited to learn about the renovations taking place, noting how nice the JC Starbucks looks in comparison. Their reactions quickly turned cynical, however, when they learned of the price tag.
According to Mark Kraner, executive director of Campus Retail Operations, the Starbucks Corporation requires its stores upgrade every five years to keep up with changes in the company’s products and brand. Northern Neck renovations include adding a “wall of chill,” an open refrigerated section to display sandwiches and other Starbucks food items, a feature that already exists in the newer JC location. In total, the renovations will cost $350,000. Auxiliary Enterprises, a non-academic department at Mason that overlooks business operations, is overseeing the funding for this project. Despite having an outdated aesthetic, the Northern Neck Starbucks is a fixture on Mason’s campus, one that students and faculty alike have grown to rely on for constant caffeine and a convenient meeting place. “I believe that a Starbucks is essential on any college campus,” said Molly Thomson, a freshman computer science major. “The 24/7 Starbucks on GMU’s campus is always there for the students who have to stay up extremely late in the night and finish a last minute project or get ahead in their pile of work.” Though Thomson said she tries to stay away from caffeine, Starbucks is the only place she goes when she needs a fix to help her get through late night study sessions. Layne Rodgers, a freshman global affairs major, is a devoted patron to the Northern Neck location where she usually goes to study and enjoy a drink. Both her and Thomson believe that the location needs to improve both the quantity and quality of their seating options. “I would be really happy to see more sitting space in the Northern Neck Starbucks. The coffee shop is always so crowded, and the
“For $350,000, the inside of the Starbucks better look like the Garden of Eden,” Siddiqui said.
Kraner said the Northern Neck Starbucks “has surpassed all expectations of volume and customers.” The university is currently looking at expanding its coffee and tea options, including the possibility of having an Argo Tea Cafe, an international tea chain, in Fenwick Library. Until then, students on campus during the summer will just have to hike over to the JC for their iced skinny vanilla lattes. The Starbucks below Northern Neck that is scheduled for renovations this summer.
A new direction for Mason research ELLEN GLICKMAN | PRINT NEWS EDITOR
Mason faculty are off to find whole new worlds together. A university-wide effort is underway, something that is trying to encompass the 550 programs of study, 1,500 faculty, and over 30,000 students at this school. This effort is to increase multidisciplinary research, and Mason will host its first symposium of that name on April 27 in Research Hall 163. The university is calling this event a “first-of-itskind,” and it is being held to increase research among academic departments, specifically research to address “socially significant challenges,” according to Newsdesk. The topic is health, which is intentionally broad, and the event is open to all faculty, students and staff. “It’s all encompassing,” Peggy Agouris, dean of the College of Science, said. “So you can be a social scientist and have particular interest in health, you can be a biologist you can be an educator so it has the capability of including a lot of people.” The symposium will include a panel of eight Mason faculty who have experience conducting multidisciplinary research. The panel features professor Kathryn Jacobsen with the College of Health and Human Services. “Being involved in multidisciplinary research has equipped me with a much larger ‘toolkit’ of research methods that I can apply to public health issues,” Jacobsen said via email. Agouris is the main person in charge of organizing the symposium. “We want to make an impact on issues which are of societal importance,” Agouris said. “…Multidisciplinary means the capability of combing expertise from a variety of areas to answer questions which are important for health, for security, for climate, for a lot of things which are important for people.” The rest of the panel includes Monique Van Hoek with the College of Science; Lynn Gerber with the CHHS; Naoru Koizumi with the School of Policy, Government and International Affairs; Siddhartha Sikdar with Engineering; Faye Taxman with the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; Mandy O’Neill with the School of Business, and Giorgio Ascoli with the Krasnow Institute of Advanced Study. Prominent funders of Mason research will also be present at the symposium, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, among others. Multidisciplinary research is the direction Mason wants to voyage in. The Strategic Plan includes the goal to create “at least five multidisciplinary institutes.” According to Agouris and other faculty, Provost David Wu has been trying to advance this kind of research since he came to the university in July 2014. Agouris said the encouraged focus on multidisciplinary will likely make Mason research more applicable to real-world issues because there is rarely a problem that can be solved with only one discipline. In an email to students on April 13, Wu described the new Multidisciplinary Research Initiative, which includes seed grants
(SONGJUN DENG/FOURTH ESTATE)
from the Provost’s office to sponsor proposals that will hopefully be advanced by the symposium. “The awarded seed grants will provide catalyst funding to pilot projects that support truly innovative ideas, foster collaboration across colleges and academic units, strengthen work in one (or more) of Mason’s intellectual signatures, and afford opportunities for external funding in the future,” reads the MRI website. But how innovative is multidisciplinary research? Agouris said this is a new trend in research, as faculty start to realize they sometimes cannot make it on their own. Other faculty said research is inherently multidisciplinary. “It’s almost an oxymoron to think of research independently of multidisciplinary, at least from my perspective,” Lynn Gerber, director of the Center for Chronic Illness and Disability, said. Gerber said, as a practitioner of clinical research, reaching out to other disciplines is essential to her work. However, Agouris said multidisciplinary research is not widespread, mainly because teachers do not usually leave their field or expertise or “comfort zone,” as Agouris explained. She hopes the symposium will help change this. “I don’t think Mason has ever done anything of the kind,” Agouris said. “And the results which we’ll see should be to create this atmosphere of interaction, of partnerships, of exchange, of ideas, of thinking of bigger things than our own little comfort zone.” Agouris said the symposium has three main objectives. One is to “raise awareness” among research faculty as to who is researching what, the first step in collaborating on multidisciplinary projects. “The first thing to really bring people together who are interested
in the broader theme of health,” Agouris said. Second is to open the eyes of researchers to multidisciplinary research, meaning that they will hopefully understand how a researcher in a another field can help them. Agouris said some people are not aware of the gaps in their research, and so are not aware that people in other fields might be able to fill them. “Two of us together can make more impact than each one of us individually,” Agouris explained. Third is to “create a mechanism” for multidisciplinary research to expand at Mason. Agouris said she hopes the symposium will be a sort of launch pad and will get a lot of things rolling. “How do we support bigger teams, more diverse teams, and how do we learn this process so that we can build better proposals and teams to go after bigger funds?” Agouris said. “…I think this is an opportunity to expand how we do research into themes that are cross cutting.” The goal to expand this kind of research permeates most if not all of Mason’s departments. According to Debra Shutika, chair of the English Department, she hopes the symposium will make other departments more aware of English’s work. “We have a very robust research agenda in the department,” Shutika said. She said people might not realize this because English research is not as “visible” as that of other colleges. English research might not have as obvious of an applicability as other forms of research, Shutika explained. “My faculty spend time doing research on a variety of different things,” she said.
She said research is active in all of the English department’s disciplines; the B.A. alone has 13 concentrations. All this activity, Shutika said, means that English is at the core “a multidisciplinary department.” One reason Mason is emphasizing multidisciplinary research is to advance its identity and purpose as a research university overall. Agouris said that Mason is indeed dedicated to improving its research capacity and quality. “Our institution is very much interested in enhancing and growing its research portfolio,” Agouris said. She said the way to start the conversation about what it means to be a research university is to ask the question, why do institutions of higher education conduct research in the first place? She said there are two main reasons — “research creates excellence” and institutions of learning have a duty to contribute to, well, learning. “[Research] is good for an institution’s reputation,” Agouris said. “The quality of students that it attracts, the quality of faculty, how much [of] whatever it produces is really attracting, contributing to the academic experience of the students.” Agouris said universities are in a different position than government agencies when it comes to research, a position that allows for more freedom. She said universities can “dream bigger,” so they have a duty to “be at the forefront of scientific thinking.” “If it’s not us who pursue new things, who’s going to do this?” Agouris added.
driven not necessarily professional career driven, you can’t dump all your resources into developing research capability,” Gerber said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
A lot of the rankings favor research-intensive universities, which may seem to support the argument that research universities have a tendency to neglect the quality of the actual teaching.
“We’re not there yet, and we’re not there yet for a variety of reasons,” Gerber said. “…For me to do tier one research, I need a health science campus or a hospital system campus or a medical school. We don’t have that.”
She said the English department works diligently to strike the ideal balance between quality professors and active academics.
Gerber said Mason does not currently have the budget to develop those additional facilities, but her department makes up for that by collaborating with other organizations in the area, like INOVA.
“I really do believe that the research university, with balance, is the ideal learning institution for students,” Shutika said. “…If I didn’t believe that,
“In this day, given our financial restrictions and the fact that we’ve got a very diverse student population, many of whom are job
I wouldn’t be here, and that’s basically what I work to create every day in our department.”
Across the globe, research universities are becoming the standard model for higher education. Many nations are also looking to copy America’s model, because it is incredibly successful, judging by usual placements on various international ranking systems.
Gerber said her research would benefit from more facilities, but understand why that might not be feasible for the school.
Agouris was of the opinion that Mason is doing well for its age.
The Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education classifies all of the eight Ivy League schools as research university with very high research activity. Mason, by comparison, has high research activity; goal 10 of the Strategic Plan includes obtaining the very high research activity classification.
“The conventional criticisms of the research university is that faculty are rewarded by their research productivity and not by their teaching” Shutika acknowledged.
Other faculty said Mason has some way to go before it can be honestly considered as a top-of-the-line research university.
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Rebranding the Prince William campus “[We are] being very strongly supported by the state of Virginia,” Wu said. “And of course, all of these facilities - the capital investment is coming from the Commonwealth of Virginia.” Wu also stressed the idea that each of Mason’s campuses has a different focus. “George Mason has different campuses… Sometimes people confuse these different campuses as sort of a satellite campus of essentially the same academic composition, just that we have a location in Prince William. That’s really not the idea,” Wu said. “The idea is that we use different physical locations and take advantage of the different features of the location to advance our mission as a university.” One example of this is Mason’s Arlington Campus, which is home to programs such as law, policy, government and business because of it’s proximity to Washington, D.C. The change in name of the Prince William Campus reflects this more plainly, but the location of the campus had a part to play as well: the Prince William Campus is its location in Innovation Park, and another reason is the facilities that are located at the campus.
(LAURA BAKER/FOURTH ESTATE)
MADISON ANTUS | STAFF WRITER
Last week, Mason’s Prince William Campus was renamed the Science and Technology Center at George Mason University. Va. Governor Terry McCauliffe came to an official ribbon cutting ceremony last Thursday, when the change was made. “We want the university to be an economic engine, an innovation engine for the region, and this is an area of science and technology is where the community really wants us to develop further in terms of our capacity, and in terms of producing more graduates and having more faculty expertise. In some ways, this is the university’s signal to the broader region that George Mason is making some major investment and focus in this area,” Provost David Wu stated. The Prince William Campus name has been in use since 1997 when the campus first opened at Innovation Park in Prince William County. Wu says that the name change is greatly supported by the community in Prince William County. “That provides an ideal setting for us to further expand our science and technology capacity for the university. To essentially name the campus for what it does helps people to understand functionally what that campus is doing, as opposed to thinking of it as another satellite campus for George Mason,” Wu said. “This is actually what the community told us what they want us to do, to declare our intentions and make it clear what we are trying to do there, because this will allow them to make decisions about what to develop around it and, in other words, we can partner a lot better when they know exactly what the university’s long-term strategy on that campus is.” The residents of Prince William County are not the only ones who are supportive of the name change.
Innovation Park is the largest corporate park in Prince William County. “Innovation provides excellent opportunities for collaborative research, data centers, bio-manufacturing, and corporate and governmental campus locations all within the setting of a world-class technology research park,” according to their website, which mentions Mason’s Prince William Campus: “Innovation Park is anchored by George Mason University’s Prince William Campus, home to many programs including life sciences and applied information technology.”
Many of the labs on the Science and Technology campus are for graduate research. Wu said that the campus will continue to cater to both graduate students and undergraduate students, and that in the future more 300 or 400-level science classes will be taught there to use the facilities. The campus has laboratory facilities for biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering, among others. “It is conceivable that some of the more advanced courses, especially those requiring laboratory access, could be conducted out there. But we certainly have no intention to bring some of the freshmen or sophomores, lower classmen out there, because it is still less conducive to that,” Wu said. This is due to the fact that many of the courses offered at this campus are higher-level science courses, and many lowerclassmen have not taken the prerequisite courses, or their general education course options are better at the Fairfax Campus. Despite the technology-heavy focus of the campus, the tourism program and the Hylton Performing Arts Center are still located there, which Wu described as actively engaging the community. “All [of] these are important synergistic activities that certainly doesn’t create any conflict, but really create a synergistic environment for science and technology,” Wu stated. Wu also said that the university plans to expand student housing around the campus, due to the fact that many students either live out in the Prince William area due to the lower cost of housing, and also because many people take advantage of the shuttle that runs between the Prince William and Fairfax Campuses every 30 minutes. “Some people, I know, actually drive to the Prince William campus, park there, and take the shuttle,” Wu said.
Transparency concerning professor removal decision remains murky
(AMY ROSE/FOURTH ESTATE)
REEM NADEEM | PRINT NEWS EDITOR
Rising tensions regarding a lack of transparency within the School of Art following Dr. Thomas Stanley’s removal resulted in a rally organized by the Mason Coalition of Academic Labor. The rally, which took place April 23 in North Plaza, featured several speakers including members of MCAL, several of Stanley’s former and current students and Stanley himself. When asked about the decision to let Stanley go and the staff atmosphere regarding allegations about a lack of transparency in decision making, School of Art Director Peter Winant and Associate Director Sue Wrbican declined to comment. Prior to the rally, MCAL released scripts for call-ins to Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, William Reeder. The optional scripts addressed several of the issues related to Stanley’s dismissal, many of which were also mentioned in a letter written by Stanley’s colleagues to the administration. “There’s obviously been a lack of transparency that’s come out of the College of Visual and Performing Arts and, if we care about faculty, someone who’s been here for 12 years really should not be just let go without any sort of reason whatsoever,” MCAL member and contingent faculty advocate Marisa Allison said. One of the suggested scripts demanded a need for transparency from CVPA administration, reflecting the ongoing debate about the amount of information available to faculty and students. However according to Reeder, the allegations of a lack of information are inaccurate. “Thomas is a really high quality colleague, and I think it’s completely appropriate for his colleagues to reach out, express their support of him. I have responded, not directly to the letter or to the people but we have our regular faculty meetings which are open to the entire faculty,” Reeder said. A faculty meeting took place April 22 in which Reeder said he spoke about this situation, however, accounts of the way the situation is being handled differ. “Yesterday at that meeting I specifically addressed Thomas, the situation, the history. I spent quite a bit of time covering all of the issues, we opened the floor then for discussion. There were a number of questions openly answered, and my door is always open to any faculty member who wants to express an idea or a concern,” Reeder said. Despite the meeting, there is still disagreement about an appropriate response from the administration. “I think [Reeder] needs to respond to the faculty letter for sure. I think that the sort of reasons that he’s giving about budget cuts aren’t as transparent as they should be, and so my hope is that because the line was transferred somewhere else, likely, all of that stuff is happening behind closed doors without the voice of the people who matter. So he needs to respond and say where that position went to and why and ultimately I think he needs to give Thomas his job back,” Allison said. According to Reeder, Stanley’s line of employment being cut was the result of a mandated budget reduction. Stanley is just one of several professors who have been let go within CVPA.
“I can tell you it’s not a decision which you arrive at knowing that it’s not painful. It’s very difficult, but it’s not only transparent, it actually conforms to every standard both legally and per the faculty handbook. You can’t lay people off here without a completely organized institutional process and that was what was practiced here, and we made that completely available to Thomas and to the School of Art so the report of it not being transparent isn’t accurate,” Reeder said. Despite budgetary reasons, many students within the School of Art continue questioning why a professor as influential as Stanley is being let go. Senior Carmen Judy said she never had a class with Stanley, but he still influenced her as well as the art community at Mason. “I think from the students perspective, we’re all wondering why a beloved professor who’s great at his job and engages his students outside of his classroom...how can somebody who’s given so much to the program just be dropped without any reasoning?” Judy said. Despite the ongoing debate, both staff and faculty acknowledge the loss of a minority professor. “The report of the loss is definitely accurate. I think another important dimension to this - and I agree with this - is the loss of a minority faculty member. I think that’s an issue for George Mason, I think it is an important priority for George Mason and whenever we lose someone from a minority community, I think the loss is severe. And I wish that I had a pot of money to allow me to not do that but we don’t. And I can’t take money away from someone else simply because of that,” Reeder said. According to the Facebook event page for the rally, Mason is not standing by their commitment to diversity by letting Stanley go. “...We tout this idea of diversity, yet we don’t actually perform the diversity that we need by losing one more African American faculty member. I think it’s just important that we come together as a public, as a group of people that are part of this university to say that we aren’t going to stand for this anymore. This has happened before, there’s been other faculty members who have been lost out of this department in particular, but I’m sure it’s happening in other places in the university so it’s time we stand up and not be fearful,” Allison said. The loss of Stanley diminishes representation of the student population among faculty, but some students believe that his perspective, sound art expertise and general approach to teaching will also be major losses. “The whole perspective that he had, he’s a really unique professor with a really unique perspective and it’s not that the other faculty aren’t also amazing, because they are, but Dr. Stanley is a really unique teacher because he talked about things that I haven’t had other professors talk about,” senior art and visual technology major Julia Douglas said. “There isn’t another sound art professor. For Black students, they can’t necessarily see themselves reflected in any of the other professors so it’s a lack of representation too but mostly just the issues that he talked about that aren’t represented in classes.”
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Online lifestyle editor Hannah Menchhoff spills the best places to cry at Mason in an article online this past week.
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Unravelling understandings of feminism HANNAH MENCHHOFF | ONLINE LIFESTYLE EDITOR
When asking Mason students about their thoughts on feminism anonymously over the popular app, Yik Yak, responses varied from “it needs to be eradicated,” to “equality,” to “female extremists,” and to “Tumblr.” One person posted, “I feel like the ideals behind feminism are noble and necessary, it’s just being handled so poorly.” Ask a feminist the same question and there will be fairly different answers. In this current movement of feminism, the end goal is more than just equality of the sexes and it is not solely about pursuing women’s interests. “[Feminism is] not just about getting more women in the work place, it’s not just about pay equality, it’s not just about marriage equality, it’s not just about racial equality, it is literally about all of those things in one. And for me feminism is really intersectional,” Kellie White, junior and art history and anthropology major, said. “It’s more than attending to things that are done to me as a white cisgender woman; it’s talking about things that have been done to people of color, people of different socio-economic groups, all different types of things, the LGBTQ population, everything.”
These are now considered norms in the United States. Feminists were also looking for wage equality, however, that has yet to be attained. The reputation of feminism turned radical and bra-burning in the 1960s. In 1968, a group of women demonstrated outside of a Miss America pageant and threw away symbols of oppression like bras and high-heeled shoes. White also characterized secondwave feminism as problematic as it was fraught with racism and trans-phobia. The negative impact is clear when looking at a 2013 HuffPost/ YouGov poll. Even though only 20 percent of Americans label themselves as feminists, 83 percent believe in equality of the sexes. “I think there is a misunderstanding of what it means to be a feminist on the Mason campus. The people in the Women and Gender
White used the following to illustrate a similar point. On the one hand, she feels it is really great that students go to drag shows and support LGBTQ equality. It becomes problematic though, when an attendee turns to their friend and says “that’s so gay.” Being a feminist for Walter and as White, Hattery, and Garfinkel also explained in their own way, is all inclusive. It is thought process that must be rooted into every action. “I integrate this perspective into everything I do. So whether I’m volunteering at the animal shelter, I talk about this stuff whether I’m showing up in solidarity with people, in different actions, I do a lot of classroom trainings. We basically talk about the stuff we don’t want to talk about,” Walter said. “This isn’t ‘okay I’m going to do my thing at work then I’m going to go home and live my life.’ This perspective has to be integrated into every conversation I have.” Feminism is not something that should just be thought about when it is “convenient” like during PRIDE Week or Women’s History Month, White explained. When asked if this is a realistic expectation of people, Walter responded simply, “Is it a realistic expectation to just accept it?”
For senior Jane Garfinkel, sociology major, feminism is a certain perspective on the world.
Perhaps not, but the feminist movement online seems reminiscent of several slacktivism movements, like Kony 2012, when activism means sharing on Facebook. When celebrities come out as feminists, like Emma Watson’s popular “He for She” campaign, does it impact thought and perspectives? Feminism coming into mainstream media, like slacktivism, goes both ways.
“I think when people want to defend feminism they say it’s the equality of gender. I think that’s an important part of it. But I have always thought of it as something a lot bigger. You have to include class and racial inequality and then sexuality and gender identity,” she said. “So I think it’s sort of a lens to look at something more or less. If you look at something through the feminist lens you are just making sure you account for inequality and awareness and you want to change that.” Feminism is also a state of skepticism of the world around you. White, who is also president of the Feminist Student Organization, describes a process of constant interrogation of aspects of her lifestyle, conversations and popular media, in order to get a better idea of other’s suffering. “To me being a feminist means working actively, each and every day, in all of the work that I do and in my personal life, to reduce and ultimately eliminate structural inequality of all kinds, gender, race, sexuality, class, ability, age, religion, region of the country, region of the world, etc.,” Angela Hattery, professor and Director of Women and Gender Studies, said in an email. “My freedom is intimately bound up in the oppression of others. So, to work for my own freedom means to work for the freedom of all. No one is truly free until none of us is oppressed.” Rebecca Walter, who is currently the associate director of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Multicultural Education, emphasized feminism as a “systemic analysis.” “It isn’t just about me getting my little right to enter a corporation, acting out in the same dominating ways against other people,” she said. “It’s about challenging those systems that really affect people in negative and harmful ways.” The problem is, according to White and what so many have said before her, feminism has a “branding” problem. The public relations drama leads to a general misunderstanding of what is considered modern day feminism. The view of feminists as careerist women goes back to the late 19 and early 20th centuries, when women needed a movement to simply have the right to vote and be included in the workforce.
(LAURA BAKER/FOURTH ESTATE)
Studies office are wonderful and awesome people, so I think a lot of faculty and students are surprised when you meet them, they’re so down to earth,” Mason grad student, Mike Moratto, said. “Because I think that concept of the radical feminist is so popularized in the media you don’t see it for what it really is. Upon meeting the people in the center it just changes people’s perspective immediately.” As Abigail Rine writes for The Atlantic, most of her time in conversation with those who do not consider themselves feminists is spent “redeeming” the very word. Her time is spent in defense of feminism. Because of this “barrier” there is rarely the chance to have a deeper and more meaningful conversation. Walter feels the feminist label is only useful to an extent and constantly explaining “what is a feminist” is slightly exhausting. “So when I was in Women and Gender studies, every year folks would do a program ‘are you a feminist?’ It doesn’t matter because I could claim that label but still oppress women or people of different statuses all the time,” she said. “I’m not so concerned as the label as people’s actions. So you could be totally acting out of feminist principals, but maybe not claiming that label.”
“The critique of that is that these people are coming from such positions of power, that they have very strong influence over people, which is good on the one hand because people are interested. I especially think that young women growing up seeing Emma Watson talk about this probably has a huge effect on them,” Garfinkel said. “But if they say something that you don’t agree with, like her speech had some weird language in it that I wasn’t that in to, people who are educated about it, just might not have a full grasp of what it is. I think that could be a problem.”
“That’s why Emma Watson’s speech is important because we do need to invite people into the conversation,” White said. “That is important to invite men into the conversation, but it is not the be all end all of feminism because people are still going to be working towards justice without the aid of white, cisgender, heterosexual, men either way.” Ultimately, even if Emma Watson’s speech is not as “game-changing” as Vanity Fair declared, it still opens discussion and perhaps starts to bring down the obstacles that Rine discusses. “I was talking to one of my friends the other day who is using quotations, an anti-feminist, because [he] said it’s all about women being superior to men and we talked for like two hours. A lot of the time, I feel like when you are having conversation you disagree with, you don’t stop to take the time to listen. So some of the points he made were very legitimate, a lot of the time men do get attacked. But the feminist movement is more about including them and finding out that the people who are the problem are just assholes,” Moratto said. “There’s nothing wrong with men statistically and women statistically, or trans folks, it’s just a problem of assholes. I thought that was a very enlightened point of view to take. I think that’s a big part of it is being open-minded. Just being a better person and opening our conversation about feminism.”
Growth through collaboration
Mason student hip-hop artist inspires local talent snowballed from us just getting out there and working. We could play a show for ten people every night, and we wouldn’t care. We’d just rock as hard as we could. Next thing you know we’re playing for hundreds, even thousands, of people.” The growing amount of support from fans and artists along the east coast and beyond has opened the door for Selestay and his close-knit team of collaborators. Such levels of success and the potential for even greater accomplishments have not neglect the music scene at home. In fact, the drive to succeed inspires him to help make the community better. “I think that this region has an unbelievable amount of talent,” said Selestay. “For people to say that music, especially hip-hop, is on the decline around here? They couldn’t be more wrong. Hip-hop, and I’m sure other genres, is at the best it’s been in a very, very long time. The scene just needs to come together.” In a collection of talented artists, each vying for their own personal success, so often the sense of community is abandoned. Selestay believes this should never be the case. “People have got to put their egos in check,” Selestay said. “Everybody wants to be considered the top dog in this area. But people need to stop concerning themselves with titles and start working as a team. There’s strength in numbers.” The issue is so frequently recognized, but people in the scene rarely conjure any conceivable solution to the lack of interconnectivity and collaboration among artists. Selestay proposes where changes can be made:
Bo Jankens performing for a crowd of fans. JESSE HARMAN | MUSIC COLUMNIST
Succeeding as an artist in any music scene requires a perfect storm of talent, connections, hard work and a little bit of luck. The local pool of artists swells with a surplus of gifted minds, but most of the small musicians and acts find it difficult to break into any greater circle. The discrepancy between the local scene and greater music industry causes many small acts to fizzle and disband before catching any lucky break. However, some folks find a way to make their own luck. One such individual is Mason student and hip-hop arist Brett Selestay, who operates under the moniker “Bo Jankans.” Selestay a Herndon native, has stood with his feet firmly rooted in the underground hip-hop scene of D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland for many years. Countless venues across the area have played host to a Bo Jankans show. Alongside his longtime co-conspirator and frequent collaborator DJ Ragz (Brian Ragonese), Selestia spearheads a brimming league of talented local artists. A noteworthy amount of success has already graced Selestay’s still-growing résumé. “I’ve always loved music,” said Selestay. “As a young kid, I was introduced to doo-wop and soul from the sixties, and that music was, and still is, really important to me.” Motown-era classics grounded the young Selestia’s breadth of musical knowledge. The expansive world of hip-hop, however, was right around the corner.
(COURTESY OF BO JANKANS)
“I knew a lot of the big, popular hip-hop artists at the time,” Selestay said. “But when I was around 13 or so, I got introduced to [revered underground hip-hop artist] Atmosphere and his crew from Minnesota. Once I got into a few more other underground artists, it was like a whole other world of hip-hop. That was when I really started to write and practice as an MC.” That particular brand of hip-hop’s near-limitless levels of lyrical ability and high-energy beats inspired Selestay to his core. “These artists made me feel that I could be a part of that scene,” said Selestay. “These were the people that made me feel like ‘you can do that.’ They really changed my life.” After honing his craft, Selestay teamed up with DJ Ragz and busted out live shows across the entire D.C. metropolitan area. Bo Jankans generated a lot of buzz around the scene, eventually breaking out to dabble in other regions along the east coast. “It wasn’t until we started getting out of the area that people back home started trying to get something working with us,” Selestay said. “We got invited to play the Herndon Festival, which is actually the largest outdoor music festival in Northern Virginia, and we’ve played the past four years there. We even got invited onto the USS Harry S. Truman to play for six thousand sailors in the Navy.” Those hefty local opportunities garnered attention from larger groups with even greater spheres of influence. “After getting some of those shows in we actually got the opportunity to open up for [Wu-Tang Clan members] Raekwon and Ghostface Killah and a few other big hitters,” said Selestay. “It all
“To compare to Atmosphere, that guy selflessly put a bunch of people onto his label and made friends with them instead of competing. We need to eliminate that feeling of necessary competition around here. There should be intermixing genres at shows. We should be able to see five different genres at one show. It should be a showcase of talent. You’ve got fans, I’ve got fans. Why can’t they be everybody’s fans?” For the future, Bo Jankans and DJ Ragz have gone back to the drawing board to bring new material to a polished live atmosphere. After performing nearly 40 shows last year, Selestay expresses an interesting new approach to performing. “[DJ Ragz and I] are working with the producer named Unown,” said Selestay. “We’re trying to bring back street performance as a legitimate way to get your music known. We’ll be travelling around the east coast, trying to deliver a refined, reheard, a polished set to any street corner. We’re thinking something guerilla roots, physically presenting the product to people’s faces. We’re calling it something like the ‘Battery Pack Crew.’” At any Bo Jankans show, the crowd is as diverse as the performers. The positivity in motion courses through every person’s soul. It takes revolutionary thinking and confident action to ensure any sense of longevity and change in a community. Selestay and his camp possess all the necessary features and more to be a progressive force in the music scene. The future of hip-hop music, and by extension the entire music scene, in northern Virginia looks bright and primed for an influx of influence. The potential for this region is not lost of Selestay, and the message is simple. “Treat everyone better,” said Selestay. “Be more civil. This area could be a huge breeding ground for talent – it already is. Capitalize on that.”
lifestyle Local music wrap-up
scene tends to lean on the side of self-righteousness, and it leaves musicians feeling jaded about the scene altogether. Cinema Hearts and Bo Jankans in particular noted this unhealthy atmosphere and proposed some changes.
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“[This scene] has a sense of entitlement and with it comes apathy,” ,” said Caroline Weinroth, Cinema Hearts’ frontwoman. “We’re trying to invoke a different feeling, a sense of community,” said the band’s drummer, James Adelsberger. Brett Selestay, also known as hip-hop artist Bo Jankans, echoed these exact sentiments in his own opinion. “The scene just needs to come together,” Selestay said of the area’s combative nature. “People have got to put their egos in check … [We’ve got to] start working as a team. There’s strength in numbers.” In a slightly less extensive, but wholly present, manner, Castle of Genre’s co-frontman Joey Fall agreed. (JESSE HARMAN/FOURTH ESTATE)
JESSE HARMAN | MUSIC COLUMNIST
World-renowned musician Frank Zappa once said, “Without deviation, progress is not possible.” We – as a people, as a community – cannot move forward and grow without setting new precedents and finding new formulas. A great microcosm to observe this on a smaller scale is in a local music community. The music scene around Mason, Fairfax and the rest of Northern Virginia into D.C., nearly bursts with a surplus of untapped talent and potential greatness. And yet, a common assertion even by those within the community is that this local music scene is dead or dying. How could this be? Dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of small spheres of influence form around a few good groups and musicians. But these bubbles rarely burst or merge into others. Little or no connectivity exists among these musical sub-communities. Three Mason-based artists with whom we’ve grown acquainted – Castle of Genre, Cinema Hearts and Bo Jankans – are all aware of this egregious discrepancy in the music scene. Despite the area’s definitive lack of a joint community, all three groups offer optimistic outlooks on our fledgling music scene. They all proclaim that this area is not dead; it just needs a little help to get back on its feet. Fairfax, and the rest of the Northern Virginia, sits in a peculiar paradox. The population certainly contains a wealth of talent. Dozens of venues offer local bands a stage outside of D.C. including Jammin’ Java, Epicure Café, Galaxy Hut and CD Cellar, to name a few. One would assume that a series of suburbs outside the nation’s capital would overflow with culture and opportunities to see local performers. Unfortunately, the region lacks the necessary permanence for a music scene to thrive. As a commuter town, Fairfax and other Northern Virginia communities are in constant motion. People travel into D.C. for work, and the city offers its own lucrative taste of night-life. This suburban community simply doesn’t offer the same amenities. Still, with a decent number of live venues, members of the music community have a little taste of what a solid music scene could be. There just simply is not an established web of interaction among artists performing at these venues, or even among the venues themselves; additionally, few artists have the confidence to construct the web. The semi-isolated nature of the music scene also breeds a sense of entitlement and exclusivity among its members. Many musicians are inherently competitive, and friendly competition could be healthy for a growing community. The type of competition in this
“I mean sure the scene’s a little lacking. But we don’t really have anyone to blame for that but ourselves. It has the potential to be a great scene, and I think we can make it better,” Fall said. Here we have three separate groups of musicians, groups that have never collaborated or worked within the same miniature bubblescene, all in agreement. This is the common thread in this community: the scene can be great, but the people must change first. It is important to remain positive about a community, but that optimism must be coupled with realism. This music scene is not dead, and it probably is not dying, either. However, there are at least two key issues with the scene: first, the area itself offers very little opportunity for growth outside of the limited venues, prompting many acts to search for fame abroad; second, the people within the community tend to compete and battle each other into the ground. So what can be done? All three groups offered up their own possible courses of action, but the theme stayed consistent, it all starts with us. “I don’t think really any of us plan on staying in Virginia our whole lives, but while we’re here, we want to make the most of it and have an impact,” Castle of Genre’s other frontman, Brandon Iqbal said. Selestay followed along this train of thought, indicating that we need to be responsible for the change we need. “We need to eliminate that feeling of necessary competition around here, treat everyone better. Be more civil,” he said. Weinroth stated a necessary reminder that progress starts and ends with us, and if a person can “inspire others,” then perhaps the inspired could keep the passion alive and continue paying forward. Fairfax and the greater Northern Virginia music community is filled with capable talent, and it has the ability to grow. After covering three unique and influential music groups in the area, one prevailing idea becomes clear: the power to change rests in every member of the scene. Everyone, whether they just picked up a guitar today or play in well-established act, has a voice and a chance to make a positive change. This community is disjointed and combative, but the talent pervades. Music inherently brings people together, and if the scene can rediscover this truth, it will all come together. The isolated bubbles will blend; the microcosm will grow. Maybe that bigger bubble will burst. Who knows? All it takes is that first step, a step that everyone must take.
CONNOR SMITH | COLUMNIST
There are wines for every season. No one wants a big hearty, earthy red when its 90 degrees out. Normally during the blazing summer heat and humidity people tend to drink lighter reds like Pinot Noir, or crisp refreshing whites like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling and the occasional Chardonnay. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with these wines, but at the risk of getting bored drinking the same wine at concerts, baseball games, picnics and all of the wonderful activities that help us abdicate responsibility in the summer. Here are five summer wines you’ve probably never heard of and should try: 1.Torrontes: This white grape is the signature white of Argentina. There are several conflicting theories on what grape it evolved from, but the truly wild anecdote you can use at dinner parties is that it grows ten thousand feet above sea level. It is one of the few grapes that grows in the Andes. When it comes down to almighty taste, Torrontes is light, fresh and refuses to offend your palate. It boasts citrus notes, particularly mandarin orange and Meyer lemon. Pair it with lighter seafood, shellfish and curries. 2.Pinotage: So you’re a red drinker, and you think Cab is too heavy and Pinot is going to be too light. Pinotage is an up and coming grape from South Africa. It is a genetic hybrid of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. They tend to have similar fruit characteristics as Pinot Noir, with notes of fresh raspberry and cherry. Pinotage delivers a one-two punch in the earth, smoke and peppery finish. This is the perfect departure for the summer red wine drinker. 3. Gamay: It tends to get lost in the crowd due to the popularity of its Burgundian brother and sister, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Gamay grape produces light and refreshing reds, with notes of strawberry and fresh cherries. You may have had Beaujolais before, the most popular region/name that Gamay bears. 4. Vhino Verde: This means green wine, or young wine in its native Portuguese. These semi-sparkling wines are normally a blend of the Trajadura, Arinto and Loureiro grapes. It hails from the Minho region in the far north. The finished product is simply remarkable, the notes of key lime, pineapple and blood orange are only made more effervescent by its mild carbonation.
(WALTER MARTINEZ/FOURTH ESTATE)
Agora’s contribution to sexual violence task force Since Sabrina Erdely from the Rolling Stone wrote “A Rape on Campus” in November 2014, the prevalence of sexual violence on college campuses has taken center stage. The article has since been redacted due to poor journalistic practice, but the importance of the issue has not faded. In September 2014, President Cabrera created a task force to investigate sexual assault and interpersonal violence at Mason and provide recommendations for changes in university policy. The task force—composed of students, administrators, and faculty—publicly released a report of its findings on Feb. 28, 2015. Mason Students were invited via email to give their feedback on the issue and the report’s recommendations to the office of the president for consideration. Agora, an undergraduate student group on campus that promotes discussion and action on issues related to conflict, took this ‘call for feedback’ seriously. The organization held two open discussions on the issue of sexual violence throughout the 2014-15 school year: one in Fall 2014, in which many students shared very personal and emotional experiences; and one in Spring 2015, which focused more specifically on university policy and the recommendations outlined in the task force report. Roughly 20-25 students showed up for each event, and Agora believes the discussions provided insight into how important it is to students that Mason take further steps to address sexual violence within the community. Students gave specific suggestions for policy changes they would like to see, themes and values they believe should underscore how the university addresses the issue, and a couple of creative ideas for how to promote awareness and healthy habits. Below are just a few of the pieces of feedback students provided in these discussions: Law enforcement / Reporting Students largely feel that they would not be comfortable reporting incidents of sexual assault to the Mason police. Students believe it is important for victims to be able to report a crime without pressing charges, without disclosing personal information, and while retaining control of the legal process once it has begun. Students agree that police on this campus need to be retrained on how to address circumstances that involve trauma, and sexual assaults typically fall under this category. Students would like more transparency regarding
Don’t believe everything you want to hear
punishments awarded to those convicted of sexual assault. Educational sanctions should fit the crime committed, and there should be consistency in their application.
As graduation nears, a look towards the future is justified. As someone set to receive a master’s in history, my understanding of the future is colored by the past.
Lest one believe this kneejerk anti-intellectualism is exclusively a leftwing virtue, a few years earlier the right had its own rush of wild allegations against the Affordable Care Act.
Education / Prevention services
My plea for the future is one for all stripes of ideological thought, for all religions and political parties, for all thinking people in our public discourse. The plea is a modification of a common cliché.
Of the many claims, one repeated excessively in rightwing circles was that Obamacare would create “death panels” for the elderly.
Students believe the university should play a larger role in education and prevention regarding sexual assault than it does now. Providing resources to victims of sexual assault and educating students about what resources are available are laudable, but campus policy must focus on educating potential offenders rather than victims. Students understand that Mason’s budget is stretched at the moment, but firmly believe it would not be acceptable to cut the budget of WAVES if the university is to take seriously the issues of sexual assault and interpersonal violence within the student and faculty populations. Students would like to see a highly publicized event similar to “Sexual Chocolate” that deals with the issue of sexual violence. In addition to promoting healthy relationships and consensual sex, this program could dispel falsehoods such as the belief that most sexual assaults are carried out by strangers. Alternatively, some of this material could be added to “Sexual Chocolate.” Students would like Mason to make more of an effort to publicize students’ Title IX rights. Overall, students that participated in the discussion believe that Mason does a satisfactory job of handling sexual assault and interpersonal violence within the community, but there is ample room for improvement—especially in how Mason PD handles sexual assault cases, transparency concerning punishments for convicted offenders, and in campus educational programs regarding sexual and interpersonal violence. The full list of student feedback can be viewed here. It has been submitted to the office of the president for consideration, as well as publicized via social media. Agora hopes that, through the process of creating a forum for student discussion and compiling student feedback on this vital issue, it has contributed to the conversation on this important problem. Students hope that President Cabrera will continue to take seriously sexual assault and interpersonal violence within the Mason community, and would like to thank him—as well as the members of the task force—for their dedication to the issue. BRIAN GARRETT-GLASER / ANALYSIS AND RESOLUTION
It has always been said, don’t believe everything you hear. Rather it should be don’t believe everything you WANT to hear. That may seem obvious, but for so many it is an ignored precaution. Take the power of satirical news to create widespread misperception. Last December Louis Jacobson of Politifact observed how “the growth of fake news sites” was a “particularly worrisome trend for 2014.” “Unlike The Onion, which publishes articles that are clearly satire, such sites as the Daily Currant, the National Report, Empire News and others publish plausible-sounding -- but entirely fabricated -- news articles,” wrote Jacobson. “What we’ve seen happen is that the posts go viral, free of any ‘satire’ label, reaping Web traffic and advertising revenue for the site when people unwittingly share them on social media.” The tricks of satirical news sites are resolved if mere minutes of google-based research on source material is conducted. Said research will happen if people did not believe everything they wanted to hear. It is not simply satire sites that take advantage of this widespread ideological gullibility. Celebrity activists and media personalities easily advance partisan rancor, which gets mindlessly trumpeted by otherwise intelligent human beings. Consider the recent hubbub over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Celebrities tweeted comments denouncing the bill as homophobic, businesses threatened to leave the state if it was passed, and liberal activists held large rallies offline to decry the antigay legislation. Problem is Indiana’s RFRA said nothing about sexual orientation one way or the other. Indeed, one would be hard pressed to find any celebrity or rabble-rouser quoting any part of the law. No one bothered to examine the history of RFRA laws federal and state, which have been used by a diverse array of religions and have yet to secure the right of a business to deny services to anyone.
Problem is no such statement exists in the entirety of the ACA. Indeed, the “death panel” allegation received Politifact’s “Lie of the Year” award for 2009. Before any conservative dismiss Politifact as a petty liberally biased site, remember that this same enterprise gave President Barack Obama the 2013 “Lie of the Year” for his “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” statement. This is not just a matter of avoiding online headaches or unnecessary street-blocking traffic-inducing protests. To not believe everything one wants to hear is essential for the very survival of our democratic system. Our longest serving president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, put it very well when it came to democracy needing an educated population: “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” If people simply believe what they want to hear and pursue no further critical thinking or weighing of the evidence, then education and its pluses have been abandoned and replaced with factionalism, something James Madison labeled as one of the “diseases most incident to republican government.” In order to complete a master’s in history, one has to learn new ways to critically analyze source material. It is a lesson taught in other fields. It is a lesson that should be practiced not only professionally but throughout one’s life. To those who graduate with me, never forget to be critical even of those sources and claims that one agrees with. Please be able to see the perspective of others. Please be wary of hoaxes and simple-minded regurgitated fear tactics made not only by the enemy but by allies. If you do these things, then there will be hope for our system to continue into another generation, if not longer. And all the money you threw into that education will at the least have a strong intangible value. MICHAEL GRYBOSKI / COLUMNIST
IV opinion The hypocrisy of the U.S.’ support of Saudi Arabia GMUFOURTHESTATE.COM @IVESTATE
On February 18, the White House held a three day summit on “countering violent extremism,” and although they never explicitly specified they would only talk about violence committed in the name of Islam (or by Muslims), the summit focused only on such violence (ignoring the national gun violence epidemic, state-sponsored violence abroad, sexual violence on college campuses, and police officers who gun down civilians with impunity). The choice of never exactly specifying that Muslim violence would be the focus of the summit was an interesting one, albeit a little foolish, considering the agenda. But it’s understandable that White House officials may not want to offend either their Muslim American citizens or else their Muslim foreign allies upon whom they depend on for economic/political reasons. Still, never exactly specifying what the violent groups and individuals discussed at the conference have in common is dodgy at best, and at worst, it seeks to distract from important information. Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Shabab, and some violent individuals acting independently of these groups all have something in common, and it’s not Orthodox Islam. (Were it Islam, of course, approximately 1/5th of the world would lend itself to such nihilistic violence, and all it takes is two eyes and a brain to see that is not the case.) The barbaric punishments and laws ISIS levies on the people it occupies in Iraq and Syria are widely known. Beheadings, lashings, amputations, mandatory full covering for women, the expulsion of indigenous Christian and Yezidi communities, et al. Such barbarism understandably warrants a visceral reaction in anyone with a conscience, and it’s understandable to want to end such crimes against humanity directed at a people that have already suffered European colonialism, brutal military dictatorship, war, crippling sanctions, American occupation, insurgency, and now another primitive gang hell-bent on delivering another blow to an already injured people. But what is incomprehensible is the hypocrisy that comes along with not criticizing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one of the United States’ strongest allies in the region, and also one of the greatest state-sponsors of the ideology these violent extremists espouse. So-called “Islamic extremists” do have something in common (that is not Orthodox Islam), they do have a unifying thread linking them to one another, and they absolutely do have a patron to which they owe their seeming-success to: the royal family of Ibn Saud, whose twisted, backward state has been occupying the two holiest sites for Muslims since the beginning of the 20th century. And one of Saudi Arabia’s greatest military partners? The good ol’ US of A. In 2010, the United States made the greatest arms sale in its history - to Saudi Arabia. The United States and Saudi Arabia have been allied throughout both states’ violent military operations
in the region, including in the U.S.’s backing of the mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union (some of whom would later become the Taliban), during the first Gulf War, during the second Gulf War, and during Saudi Arabia’s current war on the Yemeni people, during which hundreds of people have been killed. This is not to distract from the United States’s equally destructive current military operations in the region, including the airstrikes in Iraq/Syria which have killed hundreds and President Obama’s drone program. For all the media sensationalism over the barbaric immolation of the Jordanian pilot by ISIS, the barbaric bombing of civilians fails to get the same degree of attention. And it needs to be said that being burned alive and being bombed are virtually the same in both their mechanics and in the barbarity of those committing the act. Year after year, Saudi Arabia carries out beheadings, amputations, and lashings, including the most recently publicized lashing of Raif Badawi, a political dissident sentenced to 1,000 lashings that could not all be delivered in a single instance, or he would have died. So America’s military partner in the Arabian peninsula decided to split the punishment over a period of weeks. Migrant workers from South Asia in the Kingdom face exploitation, abuse, and deportation. Women in Saudi Arabia are subject to restrictive dress codes and cannot legally drive, an absurd law that has no precedent in any traditional interpretation of Islamic law. But this is the postmodern, puritanical ideology that links Saudi Arabia with its non-state, equally violent protégés: Wahhabism. A twisted form of an ultra-conservative understanding of Islam called Salafism, Wahhabism adds to the ultra-conservative ideology by maintaining that Muslims who do not conform to its construed, puritanical understanding of Islam are outside the scope of the religion altogether. This means a total disregard for 1400 years of traditional Islamic hermeneutics, the justification of violence against both Muslims and non-Muslims, and an entirely inflexible practice of the religion that was then exported to many parts of the world during the Saudi oil wealth boom of the 1980’s. Saudi Arabia’s funding of violent groups is not a secret. While secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was revealed to acknowledge the Kingdom’s enormous role in the direct funding of various violent groups, yet the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia remained as strong as ever during her tenure. In addition to this direct aid to violent groups, Saudi Arabia has poured billions of dollars into schools, mosques, and books that propagate the Wahhabi ideology. Just to be clear, this is not to say that all Wahhabists are violent, nor am I referring to the Saudi people. However, if we continue to discuss ways to “combat ISIS,” and if pundits continue to lament the regressive nature of Islam day after day on national television, and most crucially, if we are to take steps to end the tragic human
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suffering that Iraqis, Syrians, Libyans, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Palestinians, and people from outside the region are suffering at the hands of this rogue group, we need to reject the normalization of the United States government’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. It makes no logical sense to claim concern for the victims of ISIS’s barbarity while simultaneously expressing no concern for the role of a key US ally in committing the exact same acts. There is something terribly hypocritical about the White House holding a three-day summit focusing entirely on (Islamic) extremism only weeks after President Obama (and other world leaders) returned from mourning Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah, who was hailed by the BBC as a “reformer and a vocal advocate for peace in the Middle East.” It is inconsistent to claim concern for Christian victims of ISIS and then turn a blind eye to the US’s support for a state with virtually no freedom of religion. To be consistent in our rejection of violent extremism, we need to condemn not only ISIS, but also the morally reprehensible geostrategic alliances that the United States government has with violent states such as Saudi Arabia, as well as with all the authoritarian regimes it continues to prop up across the region. Living in a democracy means that we are accountable for the actions of our elected government officials, and when said democracy is locked in a relationship with a state that propagates everything that we espouse to abhor, it’s speaks only to the failures of our principals. When the so-called “leader of the free world” travels across the world to mourn the death of a brutal tyrant and the only discussion in the national media involved Michelle Obama’s dress while visiting the Kingdom, it speaks volumes about how committed we actually are to unequivocably rejecting injustices and violence. Putting aside ISIS’s media spectacle (gleefully facilitated by the American corporate media), the suffering endured by human beings across the region at the hands of violent criminals is catastrophic. As the United States backs its trusted ally in yet another war in the Middle East, during which those suffering are primarily impoverished civilians, it is important to remember that whether the suffering is a result of ISIS, Saudi Arabia, or the United States (whether directly or indirectly) the consequences of such endless violence are never heard in the statistics: broken families, homelessness, hunger, disability, and lifelong psychological trauma. Although the death toll may flash across our newsfeeds from time to time, such dispassionate reporting only glosses over the fact that wars have their ends in families. As long as Americans quietly acquiesce to their tax dollars being sent to violent authoritarian states, they are quietly acquiescing to barbaric violence, to a loss of dignity, and to broken families. SUHAIB KHAN / SENIOR, GOVERNMENT AND INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, FORMER PRINT NEWS EDITOR
BDS is BS when it comes to peace in the Middle East The opposite of war is not peace. The opposite of war is simply the absence of war, and the absence of war cannot be equated to peace. Peace, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.” In his article entitled “BDS is the only peace process for Israel and Palestine,” Mohammad Abou-Ghazala made the claim that the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is the only legitimate process to successfully obtain peace in the region. He then stated that “everyday more and more people realize that if respecting human rights and international law is a threat to Israel’s existence, then perhaps Israel’s existence is the problem.” This statement shows that the BDS movement does not work to promote peace. Calling for the total destruction of a state is not a peaceful solution to a conflict. The BDS movement, according to its website, aims to secure the rights of the Palestinian people by boycotting Israeli products and companies, divesting “means targeted corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian rights,” and placing sanctions on Israel. These actions are taken in an attempt to hold Israel accountable for its actions until it “recognizes the full rights of the Palestinian people as recognized by international law.” In essence, BDS is a movement which aims to isolate, alienate, and oppress an entire state and its people in order to gain recognition of Palestinian rights. Claiming that this movement promotes peace is fundamentally incorrect, since the definition of peace calls for freedom from oppressive thoughts. In any conflict, the methods through which a solution is procured are just as important as the eventual solution. A solution that results in peace cannot be achieved by bullying the opposition into submission, whether through violent or passive means. Peace is achieved through dialogue, mutual respect, and understanding by all sides of a conflict. On Mason’s campus, there is a distinct lack of dialogue, respect, and understanding between those who aim to represent the needs of the Palestinian people, and those who aim to represent the needs of the Israeli people. I find it frustrating that Students Against Israeli Apartheid’s (SAIA) hatred of the state of Israel has permeated beyond the borders of Israel and Palestine, and has settled into the broader context of Muslim and Jewish discrimination. I have tried many times to reach out to Muslim groups on campus to participate in interfaith programs to no avail. Instead, these groups, often at the persuasion of SAIA, are unwilling to even talk with those who stand on the opposite side of the issue.
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SAIA brags about its success in persuading Muslim and Arab groups on campus to boycott any partnership with the Jewish and Israeli groups. In an article published in The Electric Intifada, former student and founding member of SAIA Tareq Radi wrote that he worked for two years to establish with the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Arab Student Association (ASA) that “any event with a Zionist organization is political regardless of its “apolitical” claims or purported causes.” By encouraging these groups not to interact with groups such as Mason Hillel and Israel Student Association (ISA), SAIA is implementing the essence of BDS on campus. It is attempting to isolate the Jewish and Israeli students in order to shut down dialogue and encourage a change in a conflict that exists halfway across the world. This tactic has not worked to promote peace between Israeli and Palestinian students on campus. In fact, it has successfully created a huge rift between students involved in Arab/Muslim group and Israeli/Jewish groups. The students at George Mason University need to take the narrative of this conflict out of the hands of the extremists representing both Palestine and Israel. Though those representing extreme views have the loudest voices on the issue, they do not represent the beliefs of the broader student population. We need to recognize this distortion and change the way we approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on campus. Instead of the tense, two-sided rift that has been created in the student body, we need to create a conversation in which students can become educated about the conflict, and where everybody’s voice is both heard and respected. This type of ‘safe’ environment is one of the only ways in which true progress can be achieved. Mohammed and I both agree that we would like to see peace be achieved between the Israeli and Palestinian people. However, the BDS movement is not the way to work toward peace. The best way to achieve peace is to know and understand the opposition, listen to its voice, and create a dialogue to work out a solution where all voices are both valued and respected. DANIELLE AGRESS / SENIOR, GOVERNMENT AND INTERNATIONAL POLITICS
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Concussions: a national epidemic IAN CRIMAN / STAFF WRITER
It’s 4 a.m., and a test is looming. There are five more pages to read, so sleep is an afterthought. After reading a paragraph, the time starts to catch up and nothing gets retained. Eventually sleep becomes a more viable option and concern about a test grade flies out the window. This is a common problem that students face, and those who suffer from concussions feel these problems magnified. They cannot sleep it off and study harder for the next test, this tired feeling exists all the time and affects every activity.
“We used to have a protocol where if you had two concussions in a season, you wouldn’t be able to play anymore that year and we would diagnose specific concussions as grade one, grade two, grade three, really depending on the symptoms that a student was showing,” said Robinson Secondary School athletic trainer Jeff Perry. “It’s a little uncomfortable that that’s not there anymore, but if there’s no medical reason that you can’t play this season some people still go by the old doctrine that you have to play through everything.”
athlete exhibits symptoms of the injury. “You try to look at everything individually because it really depends on what symptoms you’re going to get,” Perry said. “You may not get any physical symptoms. Two or three days later, the individual might feel disoriented or they may have trouble remembering information and they would be referred to us then.” This access has made things a lot easier for people who are experiencing symptoms to test and find out the next steps to figure out what they’re dealing with.
“I would try and do homework, but it would only make my headache worse,” said Kevin Balibay, a senior neuroscience major. “I suffered a concussion playing flag football and my symptoms affected everything I did. It happened in the beginning of the semester and I might as well have taken the first two weeks off, because I barely remember anything from that.”
“I’ve had six concussions in my life,” said senior anthropology major Danny Wegerbauer. “When I first got a concussion in 2000, my doctors didn’t diagnose it as a concussion, they just told me to sleep for three days.” Another benefit of focused research is that there are concussion specialists that only deal with the one injury. They know every possible symptom a patient might have that might lead to a traumatic brain injury, and can diagnose the injury far quicker now.
Chris Borland, a rookie linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, who retired from the NFL in March cited longterm concerns that head trauma has on the body. This was unprecedented and reignited the national debate on the significance of traumatic brain injuries and their long-term effects. Each individual case is different, but doctors and concussion specialists are more aware of all of the symptoms that could indicate the presence of injury. In the majority of cases, most individuals don’t know they’ve had a concussion until a day or two later, when something feels off.
“The difference in care in treating my last concussion was insane,” Wegerbauer said. “My doctors did a far better job with not sending me back to school until I was ready, until I was completely symptom-free. When I had my second concussion in 2004, I sat out of school for a week and then they put me right back in. I wasn’t able to read like I normally could for a month.” Wegerbauer self-diagnosed his last concussion. When he was in a lecture, he raised his hand to ask his professor a question. This is when Wegerbauer realized he may have an injury, everything was moving more slowly than normal.
“I didn’t know I had a concussion until two days after it happened,” Balibay said. “It was the worst headache I ever had. When it comes down to doing any kind of activity, it just makes the problem worse. The best way to describe it is that cloudy feeling in your head, you find yourself re-reading a paragraph over and over again and you can’t retain any of the information you’re trying to process.” According to the North Carolina Medical Journal, the working definition of a sports-related concussion is: “[occurring] from an external force or blow to the head or body that causes an alteration in neurologic functioning, with impairment in concentration, working memory and executive functioning. Additional problems that can occur include headaches, insomnia, emotional liability, dizziness and fatigue.” Public awareness of the injury has also grown exponentially in the 2000s. In 2013, PBS’ Frontline published the documentary “League of Denial” that chronicled NFL officials’ refusal to believe that contact sports had a direct correlation with the symptoms that many retired players faced on a day-to-day basis. The NFL fought against the science of the day for years on this, and the documentary compared the fight to big tobacco’s fight against the correlation between tobacco and lung cancer. People are becoming increasingly aware of the injury, and this has led to increased measures to take care of individuals who experience a concussion.
“I would do stuff for an hour and would just hit a wall,” Wegerbauer said. “Looking at a computer screen, talking with friends, background noise, just living life makes the headache worse. It feels like the world is moving twice as fast as you are able to. This makes schoolwork really challenging, it is hard to connect ideas.” (WALTER MARTINEZ / FOURTH ESTATE)
One of the positive consequences of this research is that high schools and colleges are more effective in dealing with the injury now, as the symptoms can affect day-to-day life. Five years ago, there were two specialized concussion clinics in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. One was located in Washington, D.C. and the other was in Rockville, Maryland. There are three in Fairfax County alone now. Head coaches are required to know the symptoms of one so they can test a student-athlete who may have experienced a traumatic brain injury. Policies are now in place that limits an athlete’s participation following a suspected concussion -- athletes can only return to playing if they are deemed completely symptom-free. While head coaches aren’t expected to diagnose the injury, it takes far more specialization and training, they are expected to know the policies on concussions and take a player out if the
It would be easy for trainers to tell the athlete that they could not play anymore for the rest of the year if they experience multiple traumatic brain injuries. The conflict arises when the competitive nature of the athlete comes in play; they may not want to be as careful about reporting the injury in that instance. “You still get people who don’t educate themselves, who are stuck in 1985,” Perry said. “Unfortunately, it’s taken some tragic events to increase awareness on the injury. If you don’t know anything about concussions nowadays, you don’t follow sports that much; it’s always on the news.”
SCOREBOARD SPORT BASEBALL
4-5 (L) 4-3 (W)
5-6 (L) 3-2 (W) 2-10 (L)
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HOW TO WATCH
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