FOURTH ESTATE Sept. 08, 2014 | Volume 2 Issue 2 George Mason Universityâ€™s official student news outlet gmufourthestate.com | @IVEstate
Lengthy battle over smoking policy has no resolution in sight | page 9 (AMY ROSE/FOURTH ESTATE)
news Letter from the editor-in-chief
Before I start out doling out any of my hot takes at you, I want to take this chance to give my quick appreciation to my staff and all of our readers who liked, followed and shared all of our stories from this past week and a half or so. We reached crazy amounts of social media engagement through our coverage of the registered sex offender seen around Mason and the rise and fall of the new Mason Dining guidelines empire. A special shout out to the weird, crazed feral cat murderer/threatener/drug keeper-awayer who wreaked havoc on our comments sectioning the first week back, that was exciting stuff. What I actually wanted to talk about this week was the beginning of the National Football League’s regular season. Of course, the glut of the games happened yesterday, and boy, wasn’t it crazy when the good guys did the cool thing with the sports ball and the home team won? To any online readers, I sound like an idiot, and to print readers, the status quo is maintained in terms of intelligence expectancy. From the usual thoughts you’ve seen in this space, you probably wouldn’t expect that one of the few ways I make a cursory connection with anybody is through a mutual love of sports, especially football. Sports have always been one of my main passions, and though professional football has taken a backseat recently to the agony of an 82-game hockey season, I am still a devoted NFL fan. In recent years, that last sentence about flies in the face of any logic a rational, sane person of the world should have. To make matters worse, not only am I cursed with the burden of being an NFL fan, I willfully support the Washington football team. And yes, I will fully admit to being someone who only hopped on the “omitting the nickname” bandwagon when the most recent round of editorials and various op-eds.
I have no real, substantive reason for continuing my allegiance to Washington’s franchise beyond the blind faith and devotion any sports fan feels to their respective team. I have the merchandise, I’ve devoted well beyond the annual 16 weeks of 4-hour blocks of brainpower and torment that the NFL requires of its fans, and -- against any better judgment of my 14-year-old self -- the walls of the bedroom in my home oppose each other in coats of burgundy and gold. I tell you this only to embarrassingly profess my addiction to a team that’s owned by an actual garbage man. The team I choose to love -- in my time of willing cognizance -- has been a damn near void of likability. Washington has employed and overpaid countless under-qualified men to try to play and coach a game in which the job description requires some level of competency. When a bonafide young superstar was brought onboard to the team, he was actually played until he physically could not play the game the same way again all in the span of four months. Oh, and that owner who defends his team’s racist nickname? He has sued the team’s fans, the team’s media critics and has legitimately hired a PR brain trust that includes a former Va. senator who holds that specific title for spouting a racial slur and Lanny Davis, whose client list includes a nation’s dictator in addition to an outright war criminal. Yet, my heart goes on. Even in the macro view of the NFL and its ecosystem as a whole, in the past calendar year, we’ve seen a continuation of sweeping under the rug the physical effects and deterioration caused by playing the game. A public barrage of the most sizzling array of hot takes were dispensed when a prospective player publicly disclosed he was gay to the dismay of decent people who just want to move on from hateful bigots who still choose to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. The commissioner of the league not only turned in
a jarringly ignorant decision to the stark reality and unfortunate prevalence of domestic violence in his league, but had the audacity to act as the moral arbiter of right and wrong in his attempt to correct himself when the flame he felt underneath burned too hot. All this shade I’m throwing is not forgotten when I watch, but the ecstasy derived from the artful and operatic performance of the athletes who devote their lives playing a game numbs that inner rage on a weekly basis long enough to make the viewing worthwhile. The sight of a well-lofted pass heaved 60 yards, a swift, stiff extended arm from a ball carrier to a would-be defender and suddenly noticing a man who has achieved unfathomable levels of fitness and size moving at even more improbable speeds darting from off the visible lens of a television camera to deliver the perfect, clean form tackle that is turned into a .gif on my Twitter feed within three minutes. Because really, plutocrats and groups of old, rich white men are so pervasive in enough facets of life that reckoning their influence and stench to enjoy a sport that provides a sense of connection to others and fills the void that any number of more reasonable activities could never sate is a trade-off I will make for yet another season.
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Photo of the Week
The usual midafternoon sprawl at the JC.
Photo by Claire Cecil, Fourth Estate
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Fairfax embraces mass transit, walkable communities
(SUHAIB KHAN/FOURTH ESTATE)
The recently opened McLean stop on the Metro’s Silver Line. New mixed-use development is expected to grow around the four Tysons Corner stations. SUHAIB KHAN PRINT NEWS EDITOR
Over the upcoming decades, Tysons Corner will transform into a bustling metropolis, in part due to the construction of the four new Silver Line Metro stations. The transformation is part of a larger move in Fairfax County to transition from the sprawling strip malls and highways of Northern Virginia towards more walkable, mixed-use communities. According to Stewart Schwartz, the executive director of Coalition for Smarter Growth, Tysons is planned to grow from having 17,000-20,000 people and 110,000 jobs to having 100,000 residents and 200,000 jobs over the next few decades. The growth is to include the development of a true street grid, a bike share, bike lanes and other transit circulators. While there aren’t any other development projects planned on the same scale as Tysons, the county is pushing forward plans to focus future development and high capacity transit stations in walkable, bike-friendly environments that are serve multiple purposes, including residential, office, retail services and parks and recreation. “This takes time and we think extra attention needs to be paid to make this happen,” Schwartz said. “This means we need to spend more money on transit and walking and biking and local streets in Fairfax on state and local money. And we need to accelerate the planning for these places. The market is there, the demand is there, but the imperative of this, I believe, is that Fairfax, if it doesn’t move faster, it will miss out on the growing market for urban living.” According to Schwartz, such development in a region such as Northern Virginia is a challenge.
“But that’s why we maintain this focus on these commercial corridors,” Schwartz said. “Where there’s enough land in most cases where you can create a network of streets. The alternative would be more spread out development, not just in Fairfax, but spreading out in rural areas like western Prince William, western Loudoun continuing southward and people having no choice but to drive. And that will make our traffic congestion even worse than it is today.” One of the models for these mixed-use communities is the new Mosaic District in Merrifield, which has now been developed to include a street grid, wider sidewalks, mass-transit access and various dining and entertainment options. According to Schwartz, future development of this sort is planned for certain areas along commercial corridors and commercial centers, such as Route 1, Bailey’s Crossroads, Seven Corners, Annandale and downtown McLean. While such mixed-use communities are aimed at the millennial generation, the rent for housing in such complexes is often high, especially for students or young professionals. The monthly rent at a single bedroom apartment in the Mosaic District in Merrifield is $1,839. According to Schwartz, this is directly due to the effects of supply and demand. “There is so much demand to live in a walkable community with great transit access and so much desire to be able to get out of your car and not have to sit in traffic that it has meant significantly higher prices for these places,” Schwartz said. “So part of the solution is supply – much more supply of transit and transit-stationed communities to meet this demand.” Mason’s Parking and Transportation office is also committed
to sustainable transportation and is working on many programs to decrease how many students, staff and faculty drive to school, according to Marina Budimir, the transportation coordinator at Mason Parking and Transportation. These programs were developed three years ago in Mason’s Master Plan. “The Parking and Transportation’s office’s goal is to decrease the number of commuters who drive alone to campus by 10%, [which] has already been accomplished, but there is still more work to be done to achieve Mason’s sustainability goals,” Budamir said. Alternative transportation methods to get to campus include shuttles that connect to major transit hubs like the Vienna Metro stop and Burke Center VRE, incentives to increase carpooling and a bicycle registration program. “Some modes [of alternative transportation] are more popular than others,” Budamir said. “For example, Mason has put a great deal of effort into building up bike infrastructure and amenities on campus and bicycling to campus has more than doubled in the last three years. Mason has more than 1,200 bike parking spaces, and last year four bike pumps and 100 bike racks were installed mostly next to entrances to buildings for more convenient parking.” Budamir says that Mason is actively promoting the Silver Line, and that she hopes that its opening will cut down on the number of cars traveling to Mason. “A big part of the solution to improve mobility and access in and around Fairfax County and City is a holistic approach to transportation that recognizes that pedestrians, cyclists, bus riders and even drivers have an equal right to feel safe on roads,” Budamir said.
Mason ranked as top workplace, student workers left out of sample SUHAIB KHAN PRINT NEWS EDITOR
The Washington Post recently named Mason as one of the best companies to work for in the Washington D.C. region. Mason ranked 17 out of the 20 recognized, large companies in a study done by the Washington Post and an employee survey firm called Workplace Dynamics. The ranking was calculated by running public advertisements asking employees to nominate companies that employed more than 50 people in the region, according to the Washington Post. If a firm was selected, its employees were surveyed, and rankings were calculated within the categories of small, medium and large companies. According to Linda Harber, Mason’s associate vice president for Human Resources, the school’s ranking was due to its distinctive status as compared to other universities. “Some of our recognition falls into a couple categories,” Harber said. “One of them is work-life flexibility at Mason, which we do because it’s a hard area to live in, so we try to make it as easy for people to combine life and have a full life in the Northern Virginia area.” Harber downplayed the significance of salary in employee satisfaction, saying that a given workplace’s environment was more important. Mason has a well-being initiative for their students, faculty and staff, which Harber says is an important factor in how employees feel about their workplace. “Next year for faculty and staff, we’ll be focused on peoples’ financial well being,” Harber said. “So if they have a lot of loans or if they have a lot of money borrowed, we can help people with their financial literacy, help them with retirement, helping to put somebody through school or
buy a house, so we really focus on things that aren’t totally about the job but about the total person.” According to Harber, Mason’s workforce is divided into both students and non-students. For the Washington Post survey, only the non-student workforce was likely surveyed, as student employees are considered students first and employees second, according to Harber. The non-student workforce is divided into five subcategories, with “classified staff ” being the largest of the five. According to Harber, Mason’s classified staff includes non-teaching employees who support the business of the university. “Classified staff is what I consider to be the state employee group, that are covered by the commonwealth of Virginia,” Harber said. “So it’s a wide gamut of everybody from folks in facilities management, the police, auditors, a lot of my staff and a lot of University Life staff.” Mason’s administration and professional faculty include the positions of president and vice president, as well as counselors and athletic coaches, according to Janet Walker, the life/ work connections manager at Mason’s Human Resources. The teaching faculty is grouped into instructional and research faculty and the adjunct faculty. Instructional faculty comprises the majority of Mason’s teaching faculty and includes full-time benefit recipients who conduct research. Adjunct faculty generally includes non-tenured part-time employees. “The value we have here because we’re in northern Virginia near D.C. is that we get really expert people in their fields who want to each as an adjunct,” Walker said. “Sometimes it’s not their primary job but they want to bring their experience to academia.”
Within the student workforce, employees are divided into student wage and resident assistants, graduate research and teaching assistants and work-study employees. Although students are considered students first and employees second, their training and hours can be extensive. To prepare for their jobs in the fall, Patriot Leaders are required to complete spring training in the form of UNIV 300, a two-week summer training course lasting from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The course prepares them for summer orientation, where Leaders often worked 14-15 hour days. Leaders are provided with free housing for the summer, a $150 meal stipend and a waived early move-in fee. “A lot of student workers almost feel censored, like they feel like we have to say fair and objective things whereas if you say anything negative it might reflect poorly or have repercussions on us as student leaders,” said a Mason Resident Advisor, who asked to remain anonymous. As per university policy, Mason resident advisors are unable to speak with the media as a university employee. They can, however, speak to the media as students. Other students say they have had a more positive experience working for Mason. “I have had a very good experience working for Mason as a student employee,” said junior Nathan Ammons, an employee in the admissions office. “My supervisor has given me an incredible amount of support as I continue to grow both personally and professionally. In addition, I have forged some really good relationships in the office.” Senior Farheen Syed, who has worked at both the JC Star Lab and at the Prince William campus, echoes these thoughts, saying she has also had positive experiences. “People in general are
very welcoming, receptive to students and give them every opportunity to shine, excel, and network,” Syed said. Another student employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said her experience working at the Mason Card Office has been enjoyable. “The directors really want to see me grow in the position, and they are all really interested in getting to know about my career goals and how they could help me develop skills working through college,” she said.
“My supervisor has given me an incredible amount of support as I continue to grow both personally and professionally” -Nathan Ammons, junior, Mason admissions employee (WALTER MARTINEZ/FOURTH ESTATE)
Former Mason Inn to house international students RAQUEL DESOUZA STAFF WRITER
The Mason Inn is no more, and the Global Center has taken its place. June 17 marked the last day for the financially weak Mason Inn, and construction on the new center began Aug. 11. 251 students currently live in the Global Center, representing countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and South Korea. The international students share the building with Mason students in the Global Crossings Living and Learning Community. The rooms are all doubles with one bathroom each and standard campus dorm furniture. Daniella Beck, a sophomore and Global Affairs major, is one of the two Global Studies LLC resident advisors living at the Global Center. “All my residents get along really well,” Beck said. “They’ve already started talking about community building and cultural things because even the domestic students bring cultural experiences. A lot of them have already studied abroad in high school or have traveled a lot.” Lindsay Kenton, the INTO Mason external marketing and communications coordinator, explained the process of pairing together roommates within the Global Center. “In this case, the roommates are very intentional. We’re trying not to place, for instance, two Chinese students in a room together because then they’re just going to speak Mandarin and they won’t learn English,” Kenton said. “That is why we require undergraduates to live on campus because we want people to practice the language that they’re here to learn.” Some of the international students are part of the Academic English program and are only attending Mason to learn English. Others are in the Pathway undergraduate or graduate program for either one or two semesters. “Pathway programs are for students that have a higher level of English than Academic English, but who need more academic
preparation,” Kenton said. “They just aren’t eligible for direct admission because of the language course. They want a degree, they want to go to Mason, so that’s what this program allows them to do.” By living with international students, Beck has found new ways to effectively communicate with her residents and work around their language barriers. “It’s a lot of rewording things,” Beck said. “Like instead of saying the word ‘laundry,’ you want to say ‘washing clothes’ or ‘cleaning clothes.’ It’s finding new ways to say things, just having patience and realizing that it’s not a difference in smarts, it’s a difference in language.” However, no matter what program the students are involved in, they all have access to the Office of International Program and Services, which is where they can ask questions about their student visas or other immigration concerns. Along with changing the bedrooms, the building also reconstructed the hotel bar and restaurant into a student dining hall called the Globe. The hotel bar has become a coffee shop with a connected outdoor seating space. Remnants of the old bar are apparent with black and white photos of the campus and Washington D.C. hung up along the walls. Students and faculty need a meal plan to purchase items from the coffee shop. Laura Van Slyke, catering manager of Mason Dining, believes that the Globe offers more unique options in comparison to Mason’s other dining halls. “We definitely are making an effort to put an international flair. On our salad bar, there’s always going to be a flavor of hummus, along with chips,” Van Slyke said. “We’ve been doing a lot of Asianinspired as well as Indian-inspired menus, some Mediterranean.” Javier Loayza, the chief manager for the Globe, said that even its staff is international. “It’s a totally different dynamic than other dining facilities here,” Loayza said. “In each unit we have a palette of color and nationality.”
(CLAIRE CECIL/FOURTH ESTATE)
Javier is Peruvian and is planning to bring a taste of his national cuisine to the Globe: a natural drink made from lime juice, sugar and pineapple. “We hope that the Mason Global Center will be that international hub for the campus and that people will come up and get to know students, get to know what these programs will do for the university and be part of this important institutional transition,” Kenton said.
Student-led initiatives aim to increase dining sustainability
Reuse to Choose to be supplemented by program promoting reusable cups
“[GMU Cups Up] is creating an environmentallyfriendly alternative for getting fountain drinks on the go on campus and allowing hundreds of disposable cups to be put out of the waste cycle.” (CLAIRE CECIL/FOURTH ESTATE)
-Emily Novack, GMU Cups Up developer and environmental & sustainabilities major
JULIANNE WOODSON STAFF WRITER
Two student-led programs on Mason’s campus, The Campus Kitchen Project and GMU Cups Up, are answering the call to go green. Both programs are designed to increase sustainability in Mason’s kitchens and dining venues. The Campus Kitchens Project allows university students to turn food donated from campus dining halls into meals for low-income families and individuals in the Fairfax community. The program is an initiative of the D.C. Central Kitchen, a Washington D.C.-based organization that provides meals to homeless individuals and provides culinary job training among other services. It has so far been implemented on 36 college campuses nationwide, with Mason’s branch due to launch in mid-October, coinciding with National Food Bank Week. “This project is really incredible in that it works to promote sustainability on all fronts,” said Clara Everett, the president of the student group coordinating the program at Mason. “By repurposing unused food, we are reducing needless waste and simultaneously helping those who need [food].” The idea to start a Campus Kitchens Project at Mason has been gaining traction over the past few months. Everett’s group recently
received a grant from Auxiliary Enterprises and receives support from multiple Mason departments and offices, including Mason Dining and the Office of Sustainability. The Mason Campus Kitchen Project will be based in Southside, where student volunteers will handle meal preparation. In addition, these volunteers will plan menus, organize cooking and delivery schedules and conduct community education. Everett says the group also plans to compost or recycle much of their waste – increasing the sustainability of the project. “It would be awesome if ultimately we end up using the composted soil to create or expand a garden at Mason,” Everett said. The GMU Cups Up program, slated to debut at the end of the fall semester, will operate similarly to the existing Choose to Reuse program sponsored by Mason Dining. Anyone can participate in the program by buying a reusable cup for sale in the Johnson Center. Every time the cup is used to purchase a drink at a designated Mason Dining facility, a discount will be given on the price of the drink. “[GMU Cups Up] is creating an environmentally-friendly alternative for getting fountain drinks on the go on campus and allowing hundreds of disposable cups to be put out of the waste cycle,” said Emily Novack, an environmental and sustainability studies major who is developing the program.
The idea for GMU Cups Up came from a group project Novack conducted during a New Century College course she took this past spring. She and a group of classmates were tasked with creating a project that would help increase sustainability in the community. They chose to focus on the large amount of disposable cups being thrown out daily in the JC. “Single-serve disposable cups that are used around campus account for a lot of the litter and trash found on campus,” Novack said. “The cups in the Johnson Center can’t even be recycled due to the wax coating on them and the beverage residue that is usually left on them.” According to Novack’s research, about 200 disposable cups were sold in one hour at the JC. After presenting the project to her class, Novack brought the idea to Caitlin Lundquist, Mason Dining’s marketing and sustainability manager, to see if it could be implemented on Mason’s campus. Novack has been developing the project since then, with Lundquist serving as an advisor. To supplement the program, Novack is also trying to create a smartphone app that will track the environmental impact of GMU Cups Up participants and offer additional discounts and coupons.
New technology connects Va. college classrooms
(LAURA BAKER/FOURTH ESTATE)
ANGELA WOOLSEY STAFF WRITER
Mason is one of four universities that can now broadcast courses to other campuses with high-definition TelePresence screens that were installed in classrooms two years ago. 4-VA, a state-funded program that promotes collaboration and partnerships between member universities, started shared courses in 2012, with the intent to use resources more efficiently, to increase the opportunities available to students and to encourage more interaction among participating institutions. Launched in 2010 by university presidents and Cisco Systems, Inc. CEO John Chambers, 4-VA includes Mason, James Madison University, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech. This fall semester, Mason is sharing a Chinese class with Virginia Tech and Korean classes with JMU. Past shared courses have focused on STEM subjects and foreign language classes. Mason has hosted 15 shared classes with a total of 265 students over the past two years, according to 4-VA’s Mason deputy campus coordinator Linda Sheridan. Over 500 students across the four universities have participated in the program overall. “We wanted to provide a way that institutions
could share courses that other institutions would not normally be able to take advantage of,” Sheridan said. After JMU’s Korean professor left last semester, sharing courses with Mason ensures JMU students still have access to a Korean program without the university hiring a new, full-time faculty member. Mason professor Young A. Jung is teaching KORE 101: Introduction to the Korean Language to JMU students in addition to her Mason-only classes. Located on the third floor of Merten Hall, the room where she teaches her 101 class connects to other campuses through a flat screen system. Microphones embedded in the desks can communicate with linked campuses and are also equipped with mute buttons in case conversation needs to be confined to one room. Since the fall of 2013, Jung has taught two courses each semester in this setting. Her classes vary in size from as few as six students to as many as 20, and she has taught televised classes to both JMU-only and combined JMU and Mason students. Teachers undergo an orientation prior to teaching a shared course so that they can adjust to a different teaching style and learn how to handle the technical equipment. 4-VA also provides participating faculty members with
small stipends. Janette Muir, the 4-VA Mason campus coordinator and Mason’s Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, says the program is looking for incentives beyond the stipend to encourage professors to teach televised courses. “The big benefits are, one, it increases goodwill between the institutions,” Muir said. “Secondly, it helps to make things run more efficiently where a department chair can share a course that doesn’t have to be offered at the other school. So, it can reduce the cost, which is certainly an interest of the state.” A number of factors go into determining which courses will be shared during any given semester. Professors who want to offer a shared course must demonstrate that there is interest in the class from more than one institution and that another university is willing to sponsor it. Faculty members who get assigned to a shared class can opt out if they do not want to teach in this different style and room. Scheduling considerations often come into play. Dealing with these logistical demands can be a challenge, according to Muir. “Each school has a different system,” Muir said. “We have a different grading system…and even the academic calendar is a little different, so it takes a lot of coordination.”
The technology can also be equally beneficial for students and teachers. Professors can connect their laptop to the TelePresence screen, allowing them to share files and websites with students and vice versa. A recording function lets teachers post lectures online for students to stream if they miss a class. Printers make it easier to send electronic materials to other institutions. Despite this reliance on technology, Jung emphasizes that televised classes are not the same as online ones. While students can attend online classes from anywhere if they have a computer and Internet access, televised classes resemble traditional classes but are held in an altered setting. “The only difference is you are there, not here, not in a traditional classroom…but the classroom activities, the lesson style and classroom management is pretty much the same as traditional style,” Jung said. Jung said that there are some notable changes from a traditional class format, though students tend to adjust quickly. Telepresence rooms have limited mobility since occupants generally need to remain seated in order to be seen and cannot physically interact with people in rooms that are being televised on the screen. This makes the classrooms ideal for discussion-based seminar courses but less viable for classes that need more student interaction. “If it is low-level language class like Korean 110, 101, 102, we need to do a lot of class activities,” Jung said. “But in case of telepresence-style class, we can not maximize all of our class activities, so [there are] limited class activities.” Sheridan said 4-VA hopes to solve this limitation by expanding shared courses to HD conference rooms, which are like traditional classrooms and have a camera set-up that allows professors and students to move around more. These rooms can already be found around the Mason campus. Other universities have expressed interest in joining 4-VA, meaning shared courses could spread to more campuses, though Muir can not yet announce which institutions might be added. “Down the road, we may be working on greater collaboration around a shared degree of some sort or something like that,” Muir said. “Right now, we’re still sort of in the infancy stage of this whole process.” So far, feedback from both teachers and students has been positive, according to Sheridan. Surveys conducted by her office have shown students like the TelePresence technology and do not feel disconnected from their professors. Because classes rarely exceed 20 students, they offer a more intimate environment than a standard lecture. “Whenever I gave any kind of assignment or class activity, especially a group activity, they showed kind of a competitive atmosphere,” Sheridan said. “That helps a lot with students’ motivation.”
(AMY ROSE/FOURTH ESTATE)
Enforcement of smoking policy still under review AVERY POWELL ONLINE NEWS EDITOR
Mason has revised its “Smoke Free Environment” policy to make sure it is in accordance with Virginia law. University Policy 2214 gives regulations for smoking in and around campus buildings, including a rule that smokers must maintain a 25-foot distance away from the entrance or exit of a building, in accordance with Virginia Executive Order 41. The policy was established in 2004 to maintain compliance with the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act and Virginia Executive Order 41, which was passed in 2006 and banned smoking in state office buildings, vehicles and other enclosed areas. Revisions have been made throughout the years with the most recent being in Feb. 2014. In accordance with Virginia law, Executive Order 41 calls on the university to create guidelines about smoking on outdoor property. Several offices, departments and students have been involved in the committee to give recommendations on the smoking policy, including Facilities, Environmental Health and Safety, Human Resources and Payroll, University Life, Faculty Senate and Mason Student Government. The “Smoke Free-Environment” policy also includes smoking regulations set forth by Housing and Residence Life that prohibit smoking within 25 feet of their buildings. OHRL also bans hookahs (lit or unlit) within their buildings but not outside. Electronic cigarettes are not banned under either Policy 2214 or by OHRL. According to Todd Rose, the associate dean of University Life, these guidelines have been part of an ongoing process at Mason for years. “All of this started really four years ago, with Student Government making some recommendations about smoking on campus,” Rose said. “So they held a series of forums and put a Facebook up to try to get a sense of student interest in this as an issue and then student preference as far as what would like to see.” As a result, Student Government proposed increased signage, enforcement and even smoking cabana areas, which never came
to fruition. Since then, signs have been placed on several buildings throughout campus. Other guidelines within the policy state that smoking locations cannot impede traffic flow and that smokers must use ash trays to dispose of their cigarettes. The trays, however, can be moved and the 25-foot rule is sometimes ignored by the Mason community. “Violations of the 25-foot rule can be seen on a daily basis while walking throughout campus,” said Dilan Wickrema, the student body vice president. “The enforcement part has definitely been the major issue as University Policy 2214 places the compliance on the general population to help enforce the regulation.” Wendi Carroll, the life work connections specialist in Human Resources and Payroll, also says that part of the enforcement is up to everyone, and a lot of it has to do with compassion and respect. When new employees come to Mason, they are given a handout about courtesy toward smokers and non-smokers. It details different ways each side can be courteous to one another, specifically about the smoking policy. “[HR and Payroll] have been working on trying to get both sides more empathetic toward one another,” Carroll said. “We don’t want folks that are having a hard time quitting feeling like they’re being shunned [...] and at the same time understanding that some people don’t want to be around all the smoke.” The policy mentions that a safe and healthy environment is a shared responsibility for everyone. Janet Walker, life work manager in HR and Payroll, hopes that people will do the right thing given the structure to do so. However, the student body still thinks that more enforcement is necessary before they should take action. “The feedback from the students that [Student Government has] been getting is that there does need to be more regulation and enforcement of University Policy 2214,” Wickrema said. “Currently the committee is working through how to effectively implement the 25-foot rule and inform the George Mason community on the regulation and the reasoning behind it.” Melissa Mooney, a graduate student at Mason, received her
undergraduate degree at Towson University, a smoke-free campus. As an autistic person, she says that the smoke can trigger neurological problems because she is very sensitive. Mooney says she would like Mason to be smoke-free, or at least have designated smoking areas. “[The smoke is] very overwhelming and makes me feel sick,” Mooney said. “When I started at [Towson] it was still a smoking campus with all the same problems as GMU has right now. After going smoke-free, I didn’t have to worry about walking in someone’s cloud on my way to class, and I didn’t have to deal with the neurological effects.” According to Rose, the university has drafted surveys regarding smoking on campus that they are still in the process of finalizing. However, the university can only change the policy so much because part of it is state law. According to Mooney, Towson’s enforcement involved a heavier presence of security officers on campus. However, Walker, Carroll and Rose say they do not want Mason’s policy to be disciplinary but, rather, more education and community centered. The smoking policy was also established as a health and safety concern, according to Julie Zobel, the assistant vice-president for Environmental Health and Safety. “The requirement that individuals stay 25 feet away from buildings when smoking is based on regulations within the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code,” Zobel said. “However, because it is well understood that secondhand smoke is a health hazard, this requirement is also beneficial for limiting the amount of smoke that becomes entrained in indoor environments.” Rose said they were hoping to get the policy settled last year, but they still do not know where the enforcement aspect will go. “Ultimately, what we would like is, and this is true with everything, that we’re a community where we all have a role and responsibility of feeling some level of reasonable enforcement,” Rose said.
Alumnus takes company from dorm to NYC
(Photo courtesy of Felix Addison)
Above: Mason alumnus Felix Addison (far right) at the Whose Your Landlord LLC Launch Party on Aug. 28. The event celebrated the release of their new app and Million Rating Challenge. Left: Mason alumnus Felix Addison speaks at the Whose Your Landlord LLC Launch Party on Aug. 28 in Soho, New York. Addison is the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Whose Your Landlord LLC. SAVANNAH NORTON PRINT LIFESTYLE EDITOR
Felix Addison, a 2012 Mason graduate, is currently living in Brooklyn, New York where he and his best friend are working on their company, WhoseYourLandlord LLC. Addison, the CEO/ Vice President of the company, started the site as an undergrad at Mason, eventually moving to Brooklyn in August 2013 to focus full-time on the site. The free website allows users to search for landlords by state. Users can also describe and rate their housing units, as well as experiences renting from landlords. The ratings that users can leave are full of detailed information including the lease length, the average rent, and a six-category scale of ratings on responsiveness, privacy, information, conditions, pests and safety. “This site is an open area for you to tell us about the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to dealing with your past landlords,” reads the WhoseYourLandlord “About Us” page. For now, the site focuses on college-age renters. “The idea was designed in February of 2012 and by October 2012 the website was launched,” Addison said. David Rose, from the Rose Tech Ventures real estate tech accelerator, invested in WhoseYourLandlord this past June. Rose helped
Addison and the rest of his team get an office in Soho, New York.
operating because of us, that really made me feel good.”
“It has a ping pong table, a bean bag chair, a hammock, monitor screens and Mac screens everywhere,” Addison said. “It looks really cool.”
Not only did Addison and his co-workers have to adjust to the city life, but they had to shed their relaxing college life for the daily business grind.
WhoseYourLandlord created a way for users to get involved by starting the Million Rating Challenge. When a user leaves a rating on the website, WhoseYourLandlord will donate 10 cents for college scholarships to the Just Heart Help non-profit organization. If their users refer their friends to the website, they will increase their chances of winning gift cards to places like Starbucks and Ikea.
“I used to live in Potomac. It was so easy, everything I needed was pretty much right there,” Addison said. “Now I’m living in the real world, everything is up to you.”
“Every single week we are going to have a giveaway,” Addison said. “Every person who leaves a rating or takes one of our surveys, they are automatically entered into the raffle.” According to Addison, one of his biggest accomplishments so far is realizing that the website was making an impact on the Internet and in people’s lives. “Once we found out that one of the property managers was actually fired because of how he was rated, I mean it didn’t make me feel good that he was fired, but it made us feel good because our website is actually having an impact” Addison said. “To have someone make a difference and change the way that they were
When he attended Mason, he was a sports management major. “Sports management taught me how to be an entrepreneur,” Addison said. “One of the most important classes I took was marketing because I use that all the time now.” Addison and his team have had a long journey up to this successful point in their lives that was full of networking, hard work and patience. “You have to be willing to take risks, because a lot of people just stay in their comfort zone,” Addison said. “If you really want to make it to that next level, you have to challenge yourself a little bit more.”
(WALTER MARTINEZ/FOURTH ESTATE)
Annual showcase entertains through cultural performances MEGHANN PATTERSON STAFF WRITER
where and when their organization was founded and their history.
Last Friday, students flocked to Dewberry Hall to attend the annual Step Expo where members of the Mason community performed a historic and culturally-rich art form known as “stepping.”
“Being part of this organization goes along with the principles that our founders positioned: brotherhood, scholarship and service,” Johnson said. “I do my best to uphold each principle by representing our organization in that manner, that means a strong brotherhood among our own and those around us. Striving for excellence through academics and performance and doing our part in the community.”
Currently, Mason is home to eight of the nine black fraternities and sororities that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council, also referred to as “The Divine Nine.” A majority of these organizations present on campus took part in the Step Expo. “It is important to have these events on campus because it shows students an outlet of positive energy within a strong brotherhood or sisterhood,” said senior A’Darien Johnson, a communication major and president of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Many traditional aspects of stepping, including chanting, were present at the Expo. The event kicked off with a roll call, giving each organization an opportunity to excite the audience with a brief taste of what was soon to come. The goals of these organizations, however, are not just to entertain the student body. Each of the fraternities and sororities has its own history and values. At the beginning of each performance, one member would take the opportunity to chant about
Traditionally black Greek organizations celebrated their history at Step Expo
Members of the Pan-Hellenic Council, graduate students and faculty also came out to enjoy the show. The DJ played 90’s R&B, Hip Hop, Pop and African tunes during transition periods. “These events allow our organizations to showcase ourselves and provide students an opportunity to see and learn a little about each org,” Johnson said. “They are essential to each organization because they help with recruitment and potential members.” The next Step Expo will be at the Center for the Arts in spring 2015.
(AMY ROSE/FOURTH ESTATE)
Members of black fraternity Omega Psi Phi perform at the Step Expo for Welcome Week in Dewberry Hall.
Graduate student authors book on life of Cuban politician ALLISON LUNDY STAFF WRITER
Mason graduate student Daniel Pedreira met with President Ángel Cabrera last May to discuss his new book. “El Ultimo Constituyente: El desarrollo politico de Emilio “Millo” Ochoa,” a biography, presents the life of Cuban Senator Emilio Ochoa and traces it in the context of Cuban history. Pedreira was born and raised in Miami, a major hub of Cuban culture, and met Ochoa on several occasions. His interest in politics and history led him to study International Studies and Political Science at the University of Miami, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. After Ochoa’s death in 2007, Pedreira decided he wanted to know more about this influential figure who Pedreira believes, “could’ve become president of Cuba.”
(Photo courtesy of Daniel Pedreira)
Graduate student Daniel Pedreira (left) meets with President Ángel Cabrera (right) to discuss Pedreira’s new book.
In Cuba, Ochoa founded two political parties, was both a Senator and House member and was the last surviving delegate to the 1940 Cuban Constitution. In the 1960s, when Fidel Castro
start leading others.
came to power, Ochoa left Cuba and came to the United States after being persecuted for his political beliefs. “It is a period in history that is rarely covered,” Pedreira said. The lack of scholarship was one of Pedreira’s motivations for writing a book on this topic. He believes it is important to know what happened in the past in order to understand what is going on now and that learning about past injustices will help prevent the impeding of democratic progress in the future. “Castro totally turned the system upside down,” Pedreira said on the Cuban leader’s rise to power. After coming to Mason to complete his master’s degree in Peace Operations, Pedreira was able to publish the book. Pedreira said his meeting with Cabrera was brief, but they talked about the book itself, Pedreira’s background and Ochoa’s role in the Miami community. “[Cabrera was] very happy to see a student write a book,” Pedreira said.
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The unsatisfactory male response to sexual assault Hi everyone. I’m sure you missed your monthly reminder about sexual assault becoming a bigger conversation on college campuses and that women are being objectified by men on a weekly basis. Don’t worry; your friendly, feminist editor is back to remind you that rape is still bad. But instead of giving you my normal speech on how women are being treated like shit and that men are exploiting college-drinking habits, I’ve decided to look at how men have been responding to all of these sexual assault stories. In an online piece for Business Insider late last month, a fraternity brother from Sigma Chi at Harvard University, whose undergraduate college and law school are currently being investigated by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for violations under Title IX, said that he won’t be offering any women drinks at parties in an effort to not look like a “predator.” “‘I don’t want to look like a predator’,” the brother said in the article. “‘It’s a little bit of a blurred line.’” Last time I checked, “Hey, do you want one beer?” does not equal, “Hey, wanna have a one night stand?” His reaction is way too extreme and kind of naïve. Are his communication skills so horrible that he can’t distinguish the difference? While I would much rather hear that men are being overly cautious in how they approach women in social drinking situations, why can’t we find common ground here? Why is communicating in a way that indicates one’s interest in another while trying to decide if they’re reciprocating so difficult? We’ve seen the possible answers to these questions discussed multiple times; fraternity men have a skewed view of consent because of the hazing they’ve been put through, or that they thought a woman was reciprocating or that heavy drinking impairs judgment. We can discuss all of the possible reasons, but at the end of the day, they don’t really matter. Sure, being incredibly intoxicated impairs judgment, but there’s never an excuse for violating another human being. Or is there, the article asks. The article also examined men that are still on the other end of the spectrum, featuring another male student, a senior from Stanford University, comparing women needing to protect themselves
when they’re drunk to someone leaving their bike unlocked in the middle of the quad. Because, apparently, getting your bike stolen and violating a woman’s self-respect are the same thing. Also, wouldn’t he be mad if his bike got stolen, even if he did leave it unlocked? But, I think he makes one valid point that needs to be addressed. Women do need to protect themselves and each other in these types of social situations. No one is asking to be sexually assaulted, ever, period. However, I do still feel that it’s important that women try to pay attention to their surroundings and notice any weird behavior that the men they’re talking to are showing. One other positive thing is happening here: men are speaking up. They’re finally talking after being the center (and sometimes the victims, I’ll admit) of really bad press over this. I’m glad that I’m finally seeing the other side’s perspective on these situations and how some men are choosing to respond to the increased sexual assault statistics. However, that doesn’t mean I’m very impressed. I actually find the fact that men are stuck on two sides of the spectrum really disturbing. Maybe it’s a problem with how we’re informing people about sexual assault, whether it’s through our universities or social organizations or the media. We’re emphasizing the statistics and scaring people rather than spending more time informing them about prevention tactics. Even though I constantly repeat that rape is bad, that doesn’t mean it’s going to end. But ignoring the problem by either refusing to communicate or carrying on as per usual aren’t ways to fix it. But honestly, I’m not sure what will. Which is why I’m back to have this talk with everyone; we need to start having conversations about sexual assault. Communicating about it, whether in an effort to bring awareness or ways to reduce these statistics, is the only way men are going to stop comparing a woman’s consent to an unlocked bike.
ALEXA ROGERS NEWS EDITOR
Nitpicking the knit-bricking Supreme Court decisions have a strange effect on people. Sometimes they prompt large-scale demonstrations, other times angry blog entries. And on at least one occasion, they have prompted a nationwide knitting campaign. Recently the Secular Coalition for America has taken issue with a Supreme Court decision handed down this summer. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Court ruled 5-4 that “closely held” businesses could be exempted from having to provide insurance coverage for birth control methods they find morally objectionable. The decision fell on the two contentious issues of church and state separation as well as reproductive rights. As far as the SCA was concerned, the Hobby Lobby decision was a blow to our nation’s precious separation of church and state. In late August, they had a “#knitabrick” event for volunteers to come and, well, knit a brick from yarn. This was meant to symbolize adding bricks to fix damage done to that wall. Later this week, the SCA will hold a march on the Supreme Court building, which will include the estimated 1,500 bricks knitted during the summer. An ad for this late August event, held on Women’s Equality Day, was posted on the Facebook page for Mason’s Secular Student Alliance chapter. SSA is a founding organization of the SCA, meaning they share sentiments on the issue. They are also sentiments that are based on some dubious historical underpinnings. First, consider the decision. The Court drew upon the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law passed with bipartisan support. One of the original cosponsors recently said it was meant to protect corporations as well as individuals, verifying the Court’s reasoning. The Court’s majority opinion also specifically stated that their decision only applied to the birth control mandate from Health and Human Services and to the closely held businesses seeking an exemption from said mandate. This was undoubtedly done to curb fears of slippery slope. So what do the SCA, SSA, and their peers draw upon as a counter-authority? A letter. Not a law, not a Supreme Court decision, but a piece of correspondence written by Thomas Jefferson. Not only a mere letter, but a mere letter by a man who was not even in attendance for the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Furthermore, Jefferson’s commitment to secularism would never be seen as anything less than
theocratic when compared to modern American church-state watchdog groups. As a case in point, consider Jefferson’s “Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom,” which disestablished Virginia’s Anglican Church. Secularists of today would be horrified to read the opening statement by Jefferson, in which he declared that “Almighty God hath created the mind free.” From the onset, Jefferson’s efforts assumed the existence of a deity that created the human mind. Further down, God is described as “the Holy author of our religion” and “Lord both of body and mind.” Here are examples of what might in the modern day be called “ceremonial deism,” though more sectarian ideas might be dwelling below these phrases. Calling God the “author of our religion” may allude to Hebrews 12:2, where Paul of Tarsus wrote that Jesus Christ was “the author and finisher of our faith.” While the religious views of Jefferson were, by Christian standards, unorthodox, his views on religious expression in government legislation would be considered heretical by the likes of SSA. As SSA and their ideological allies ready themselves for that march on the Supreme Court, as they carry their knitted bricks and get ready to quote Jefferson, they invoke a historical figure who would have likely opposed their efforts. For even as Jefferson did the occasional act modern secularists find admirable, these were acts meant to protect religious groups from government power, especially federal government power. So for those who say they honor reason above all else, permit an appeal to said devotion to reason.
MICHAEL GRYBOSKI COLUMNIST
One-on-one with Brad Edwards on the future of Mason athletics DANIEL GREGORY ONLINE MANAGING EDITOR
In roughly 60 days since starting as athletic director, Brad Edwards has been on the run. Bouncing from meeting to meeting, the new athletic director has met almost everyone, from Mason administrators to sports boosters. Despite a full schedule, Edwards, a former Redskin and Super Bowl champion, found time to sit down with Fourth Estate to discuss the direction of the Athletic Department.
Mason Men’s Basketball Coming off a disappointing season where Mason finished second to last in the conference, many fans of the Patriots were frustrated with head coach Paul Hewitt. Some even called for Hewitt to be fired after the team finished the season 11-20 overall. Despite the unrest among the fanbase, Hewitt is not in danger of losing his job. “[Paul Hewitt] is an excellent coach, and he is our coach,” Edwards said. “We are fully behind coach Hewitt.” Over 3 seasons at Mason, Hewitt has compiled a record of 56-43, with last season appearing to be an aberration. Before last year’s losing season, the team won 24 and 21 games under Hewitt in his first two seasons. Edwards sees the increased difficulty of competition as a major reason why the team had a down year last season. “The move to the Atlantic 10, while in some sports could be better for [some teams], certainly in the sport of basketball, it’s apples and oranges compared to where we were before,” Edwards said. “ It was not surprising that there was a transition there and a little bit of a learning curve for moving in [the A-10].” The A-10 could be considered one of the best basketball conferences in the country, having earned six bids to the NCAA tournament last year and five the year before. The Patriots struggled, only winning four games in the conference. While they played well against several good teams, they struggled to put teams away. Mason basketball will need to improve, especially as the program is the main vehicle to promote the Mason Athletic Department, garner national attention and ultimately secure more funding.
No Football Anytime Soon While basketball has a devoted following, Mason football has long been a topic of conversation among students and alumni that never seems to go away. It might be time to put that conversation to rest as far as the near future is concerned. “Right now [football] is not in our immediate future. Our vision right now is spent on what we have currently and principally, basketball, and how do we put ourselves in the position to compete at the highest level in the country year in and year out,” Edwards said. While football programs are an excellent way to bring money into an institution, the cost of installing a football program is enormous. President Ángel Cabrera has cited in the past that, with the rising costs of college education, the institution does not see football as a viable option, especially if it puts college affordability at risk.
Mason men’s basketball coach Paul Hewitt has come under ﬁre from fans for perceived underperformance, but new athletic director Brad Edwards stands ﬁrmly behind the coach.
“[Paul Hewitt] is an excellent coach, and he is our coach. We are fully behind coach Hewitt.” - Brad Edwards Mason Athletic Director
The Future of the Athletic Department Mason’s strategic plan aims to have the institution work toward becoming a top-tier research institution within the next two decades. For Edwards, he is tasked with directing the Athletic Department in a manner that coordinates with that plan. While the Athletic Department is in the early stages of developing its goals, the focus still remains primarily on the student-athlete. “The student-athlete experience has to be addressed, the academic has to be addressed and met,” Edwards said. “ That’s what we’re here for at the end of the day which is to educate and graduate 100% of our student-athletes.” Moving forward, the Athletic Department will have to work to find how it will function and operate within the umbrella of Mason’s expectations and goals moving forward.
Fundraising Efforts Along with being an ex-Redskin who helped the team win a Super Bowl, Edwards has a history of excelling at fundraising at the institutions he worked for before coming to Mason. When it comes to fundraising, Edwards acknowledges there are several inherent difficulties that come with trying to raise money for the athletic department. Chief among them is the age of the institution. “We are a young institution in many ways compared to some of the land grant institutions that have been around for hundreds of years that have begun to realize the benefits of estate giving and planned giving. While we are very fortunate on one hand we are young, it does impact you some on the fundraising side,” Edwards said. “I think [we can benefit from] developing some, what I call program changing types of gifts, that can come from someone’s estate or something like that.” As it relates to the Redskins, there have been multiple sightings of Edwards going to the team facility as well as bringing former teammates to Fairfax to check out Mason. There might be more of a burgundy and gold presence around campus with Edwards at the helm. “I’ve been reconnecting and stayed in contact with a lot of guys throughout the years. We all shared a terrific experience and a succesful one as part of [the Redskins] organization,” Edwards said. “I fully expect to see a few of them gracing our courtside [at the Patriot Center].”
sports 16 09.08.2014 Volleyball looks to veteran leadership to mentor young team
DANIEL GREGORY ONLINE MANAGING EDITOR
There are a lot of new faces on the sidelines when Mason women’s volleyball has a game. With a recruiting class that features seven new players plus a new assistant coach, there’s been significant turnover for Coach Pat Kendrick’s team. “Right now everyone is learning,” Kendrick said. “Even the older players are learning with the new ones just because we have such a big new group [of players].” The changes might explain why Mason has struggled out of the gate this year. With eight games under their belt, this team is still trying to find its footing. While the start is not what the Patriots had hoped for, there’s a strong leadership base that could pull the team through this rough patch. Coach Kendrick has been a significant source of that leadership, having led previous teams to eight CAA titles and six NCAA tournament appearances over her 29 seasons as head coach of the program. Kendrick is the second longest tenured coach at Mason behind Bill Brown, the baseball coach, and her experiences can help teach this team what it takes to win. “In order to win in this conference you got to have a certain level of confidence in what you’re doing in terms of you have a system in place, and everyone’s on board in that system,” Kendrick
said. “It’ll be us versus them. I don’t think you can go at (opponents) with a superstar. It’s going to take a group effort for us to win this year.” Kendrick relies on returning veterans Stephi Matsushima, Morghan Martin and Lolade Owokoniran to implement this game plan and provide leadership. “I’d say those three, especially personality-wise, have shown that they have it in them to
corral the kittens,” Kendrick said. Kendrick expects big things from Owokoniran after last year, when she proved a talented middle blocker in non-conference and A-10 play. “Lola, who has really come around and I really think is going to be one of the best middles in the conference, is also taking on some good leadership as well,” Kendrick said. Although it’s been a slow start to the season,
much of the non-conference is intended to prepare for a tough A-10 schedule. The goal is still the same. “Our goal is to make it to the A-10 tournament. I think if you make it to the tournament, anything can happen so that’s really where our focus is right now,” Kendrick said. “All this stuff that we’re doing before our A-10 schedule is preparing us to do that.”