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SPECIAL BASKETBALL FEATURE COURTESY OF SRU SPORTS JOURNALISM See inside for more! Friday December 7, 2018 • Volume 102, Issue Number 5 • An Independent, Student-Run Newspaper th li k t

Soaring up the draft board SGA approves SRU running back confident that he can play at the next level

ad hoc committee, reflects on finance requests By Hannah Shumsky Assistant News Editor


Senior running back Wes Hills walks out of the tunnel before The Rock's matchup with Gannon University on Nov. 3. Hill broke the school record for most rushing yards in a single season. The record was previously held by LaMonte Coleman.

By Karl Ludwig Senior Rocket Contributor

In the history of Slippery Rock football, only four players have had the privilege of hearing their names called out during the NFL’s annual entry draft. Senior running back Wes Hills, a transfer from the University of Delaware, appears poised to become the highest selected Rock football player ever.

Hills’ collegiate football career has taken some twists and turns with a four-year stint at Delaware in which, when healthy, Hills excelled on the field. A productive two-year stretch during Hill’s sophomore and junior years saw him rack up 1,680 yards at 6.9 yards a clip. The 6’2” 205-pound half back from Wildwood, New Jersey also found the end zone 13 times.


A global celebration


LeMont Smith, president of the American Sign Language Club, leads a group in signing the song "That's Christmas To Me" during Holidays Around the World. The event, held in the commuter lounge in the Smith Student Center, was sponsored by the Office for Inclusive Excellence.

By Megan Bush Campus Life Editor

The Office for Inclusive Excellence took the commuter lounge in the Smith Student Center around the world Thursday, Dec. 6 to celebrate different holidays celebrated all over the globe. Featuring educational information about different holidays, festive food and performances from the American Sign Language Club, Holidays Around the World brought


Campus Accessibility


students together just in time to have fun before finals begin. "I feel like it's a great way for students to understand that there are more holidays than just Christmas," said Keshia Booker, assistant director of multicultural development in the OIE. "Traditionally in western culture, we really focus a lot on Christmas and this event gives students, especially college students who are looking for chances to have diverse opportunities, a chance to see something outside of their typical culture."


SGA Senators Wanted

The Slippery Rock Student Government Association (SGA) senate discussed the purposes of finance requests for student organizations at their final formal meeting of the semester on Monday night. In old business, the senate voted to approve an ad hoc committee to lead a possible senate restructure led by commuter senator Maggie Calvert, a motion that was tabled at a previous formal meeting. At SGA's formal meeting on Nov. 19, Matthew Lerman, graduate senator, motioned to have the executive board members on the committee serve as ex-officio members. At Monday night's formal, he motioned for only one executive board member— Elizabeth Hernandez, Logan Tupper or Chadwick Burdick—to have a vote in the committee. Lerman described his motion as a "middle ground" based on previous senate discussions. "I feel like that would be a good meet in the middle from where we've had our discussions," Lerman said. Hernandez, vice president of student and academic affairs, said one vote may not truly represent all of the executive board. "That draws another issue because you're assuming that my vote represents all of e-board, and that may not be the case," Hernandez said. Lerman's motion from Monday night failed with seven yeas, 17 nays and two abstentions. Hernandez motioned to amend the original motion to specify that President Dallas Kline and Parliamentarian Eric Lehman will serve as ex-officio members. The amended motion passed with 19 yeas, one nay and one abstention. On the committee, senators Calvert, Lerman, Martha Dunkelberger, Corinne Rockefeller, Corinne Zeni and Joseph Sciuto will join Hernandez, Tupper and Burdick as voting members. In finance requests, the senate approved $8,787.34 in new initiative requests from University Program Board, Sigma Gamma Epsilon, WSRU-TV, Wrestling Club, and Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance. The senate also approved a capital request from Flute Choir for $9,538 for two flutes. This leaves SGA with $24,208.17 in budgetary reserves and $47,312.75 in capital reserves. During the discussion of Flute Choir's request, Sciuto, Watson Hall senator, expressed concern over lack of fundraising from some organizations who submit finance requests. "I feel like we're making a lot of big monetary value motions, and I'm also getting kind of discouraged because no one's ever putting in an effort to help contribute to that," Sciuto said. "I get we're supposed to enable students, but it's kind of discouraging when we're handing out all this money without really thinking about it." Tupper, vice president of finance, said he and the finance committee asks each organization that submits a request if they completed any fundraising.





Division II Sports Festival


Campus Life

A Christmas Carol


December 7, 2018



Disability advocates seek solutions for campus accessibility issues By Hannah Shumsky Assistant News Editor

A student with a disability may rely on accessible design in order to go to class, a dining hall or an oncampus event; however, a person's ability to navigate campus and enter or exit buildings often lies in the hands of community members. When community members possess this responsibility but lack proper knowledge, they can prevent a person's ability to navigate campus by parking in accessible parking or even unnecessarily pressing accessible buttons on doors. Of the 550 students who receive accommodations through the Office of Disability Services (ODS), 120 students have a medical/health issue and 18 students have a physical disability. Although accommodations and laws support these students—who make up 6.23 percent of SRU's undergraduate and graduate population— factors including equipment malfunctions, geography, signage and weather all impact accessibility, an issue that is often complicated at a university commonly referred to as "Snow and Rain University."

Supports for persons with disabilities Accessibility is defined in terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 for any public entity that accepts federal tax money. Mostly recently, the Department of Justice revised the Standards for Accessible Design in 2010 to apply to the "design, construction, additions to, and altercations of sites, facilities [and] buildings." According to Vaughn Bicehouse, a special education professor, ADA standards provide rights to people with disabilities they didn't receive until ADA standards took effect in July 1992. "They were second-class citizens who couldn't get out of their house or get to work," Bicehouse said. The Standards for Accessible Design, however, do not impact existing facilities unless an altercation is already underway, creating a "grandfather effect" that impacts older buildings on campus. "You only have so much money, so that was a definite component," Toni Mild, a special education professor and former public school administrator, said. "If you made major structural changes to your facility, ADA came into play. It was no longer grandfathered in."

"Hopefully, in the future, some more laws can get passed to really push for that accessibility in all buildings, all public spaces and exterior doors." - Michaela Sykes, PCDI Memeber Through ODS, students can receive accommodations to help them navigate campus. The most common accommodation is extended test time, and students can receive accommodations for priority seating and extra time to get to class. According to Natalie Burick, director of ODS, the accommodations a student receives are determined on a case-by-case basis, a norm in higher education. "Most students who need a specific classroom accommodation can work with the faculty on achieving that," Burick said. Kim Coffaro, assistant director of ODS, is also the co-chair of the President's Commission on Disability Issues (PCDI). The 22-member commission features eight student members from various special education or therapy majors and "seeks to create a campus environment and climate that is free of barriers and discrimination and to empower people with disabilities to be full participants in all facets of university life." Burick serves as an ex-officio member of PCDI along with Scott Albert, assistant vice president of facilities, planning and environmental safety, and Holly

McCoy, assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity. "Any time any issue is brought to us concerning accessibility, Scott's on the commission and we discuss that with him," Coffaro said.


Students investigate accessibility


In fall 2018, 630 students declared a major in recreational therapy, early childhood/special education or special education programming. In these majors' required classes, students investigate accessibility on campus through hands-on learning experiences. In Mild and Bicehouse's 100-level special education courses, students operate a wheelchair in either McKay or a specified spot on campus or in the community. In Bicehouse's course, students analyze the accessibility a location on campus using the four priorities under ADA and recommend changes to make structures ADA compliant. In the recreational therapy department, students in Recreational Therapy for Physical Disabilities participated in a 48-hour wheelchair challenge, and students in Inclusive Leisure Services completed an accessibility survey in different areas of campus. Michaela Sykes, a sophomore recreational therapy major and PCDI student member, complied a list of barriers discovered by students in the two courses. Sykes worked with Heather Bright, a recreational therapy professor who teaches the two courses, to create the list. "[Bright] thought it would be a good idea for us to jot down a list of things we noticed," Sykes said. "Our jobs as RTs are going to be to help people rehabilitate and get back into the community. Obviously, not all communities are 100 percent accessible." Sykes presented the list at to PCDI and Scott Albert, assistant vice president of facilities, planning and environmental safety and ex-officio PCDI member, provided updates on each presented issue.

Areas of concern One campus-wide concern mentioned in the accessibility barriers report is accessibility buttons. Because the buttons have a certain lifespan, the button will eventually fail to work after a certain number of uses. "A lot of the comments on here that I noticed from the other students and myself was a lot of those buttons not working," Sykes said. Sykes also said that some buttons operate via a wireless signal which can be disrupted, a problem maintenance can't necessarily control. "They try their best to keep updating those buttons and make sure they all work," Sykes said. Two areas of campus were identified as lacking signage for accessibility. In McKay Education Building, two accessible ramps exist on either side of the building, but the entrance is difficult to find. One of the accessible entrances enters into the auditorium, where many larger lecture classes are held. During the initial survey, students couldn't locate accessible seating in the Mihalik-Thompson Stadium. Albert reported that the seating is on the home side around the 50-yard line. "We were talking about better signage and better awareness that this is an option available to them," Sykes said. Another concern discovered was the entrance to the Art Ceramics Building. According to Sykes, who had a class in that building this semester, the only recommended entrance into the building is through gravel, posing an accessibility barrier. "It's not really accessible for a wheelchair to get over all those rocks," Sykes said. "That's not necessarily safe for the student, and not necessarily good for the wheelchair. It can cause a lot of wear and tear." After a recent PCDI meeting, Albert announced that his department will be looking into the logistics of paving a path to access the Arts Ceramics Building. Weather conditions and geography of campus greatly impact accessibility of sidewalks. Cracked sidewalks poses a particular accessibility concern.

- ACCESS TO GOODS AND SERVICES - ACCESS TO PUBLIC TOILET ROOMS - ACCESS TO OTHER ITEMS SUCH AS WATER FOUNTAINS AND PUBLIC TELEPHONES Lauren Sims, a PCDI member and student with a vision impairment, described that she sometimes hits cracks in the sidewalk while using her cane. "I've noticed a lot of sidewalks have cracks in them, so that can be a problem with my cane sometimes," Sims said. She added that the sidewalks near the library and in the quad have a lot of cracks. Environmental barriers, especially hills, impact how sidewalks and ramps are constructed. If an incline is too steep according to ADA standards, a sidewalk must be paved with a lesser incline. "They try their best to make pathways that are going to be convenient, but they look into inclines of hills," Sykes said. According to Sykes's report, the ramp near the Student Health Center is unsafe in winter conditions and needs repaved; a work order has been submitted for this ramp. Students also reported that some door sensors for the residence suites were too high for people in wheelchairs. Upon further investigation, Albert reported that the sensors are in working condition. After creating the list of accessibility barriers, Sykes was surprised that certain barriers were not problematic under ADA standards. For example, the exterior doors of the Smith Student Center exceed the five-pound limit. According to Sykes, that weight limit only applies to interior doors. "Hopefully in the future, some more laws can get passed to really push for that accessibility in all buildings, all public spaces and interior and exterior doors," Sykes said.

Turning education into action PCDI is now taking the information discovered in the barrier reports to educate others. Beyond reporting accessibility barriers, PCDI created "mindful" tips to educate the SRU community on how to assist people with disabilities. The campaign featured eight tips, including not using accessible bathrooms and parking spaces, by hanging signs around campus. "Hopefully, through that and social media, we're able to continue to communicate those messages throughout the year," Coffaro said. Another "mindful tip" was for people to not press accessible buttons unless they need to in order to open a door. "A lot of that has to do with people just not realizing and pushing it when they don't actually need it and running out that lifespan," Sykes said. Coffaro said that anyone who finds an accessibility barrier should report the issue to the information desk at the Smith Student Center. "Be a voice," Coffaro said. "If you see an issue, go to the information desk and report it." Bicehouse emphasized the importance of reporting accessibility barriers, even if the report does not have a disability themselves. "Sadly, the ones that typically need it aren't the ones who complain," Bicehouse said.


December 7, 2018


Areas of concern









The only recommended entrance is through gravel, which poses safety hazards to people who use a wheelchair. The university is looking into the logistics of paving a path to the building over the summer term.

The buttons on exterior doors throughout campus have a limited lifespan, and should only be pressed by someone with an upper-extremity impairment or a physical disability that prevents them from opening the door.

Students have expressed that they have been unable to locate the accessible entrance to this building. University officials are working to better highlight these entranceways for students with disabilities with improved signage.

Automatic door sensors are too high for people who use a wheelchair. The university has since made efforts to correct the issue. Since implementing changes, no further incidents have been reported at the suites. Graphic by Adam Zook

Map courtesy of University Communication and Public Affairs

New engineering programs set precedent at SRU By Adam Zook News Editor

In October, Slippery Rock University gained approval from Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education (PASSHE)Â to begin offering bachelor's degrees in mechanical and civil engineering starting in the Fall of 2019. During his inaugural speech, University President Dr. William Behre talked about finding the right alloy to best serve students and promote the brand of the university as a whole. Along with emphasizing SRU's nationally ranked safety management program, he talked about the importance of revitalizing the engineering program and expanding it for the future "We've just gotten a whole new bunch of engineering programs approved, and we have to invest in that," Behre said. "Part of that dye has already been cast. In the near term we're going to be investing in engineering, simply because we told students that they're going to be able to get a degree in that field here. We have to provide the infrastructure necessary for those students to succeed." The two new programs add to SRU's present engineering degrees offered in petroleum & natural gas and industrial systems engineering. In addition, the university offers a cooperative program in which students complete their final two years at another institution of higher education. Dr. Xinchao "Stanley" Wei is the director of the physics program at Slippery Rock. Wei said that his


Vincent Science Center is the classroom building that holds Slippery Rock's engineering program. The two new degrees in mechanical and civil engineering will also be housed here.

students are excited about the new degree programs and that this should allow SRU to compete with larger institutions in the area. "Pittsburgh has a fantastic industrial base that is conducive for careers in engineering," Wei said. "Both Carnegie Mellon and Pitt have great engineering programs, but are so expensive. Slippery Rock can now be a low-cost alternative that potential students can turn to." Wei also said that he is thankful for the support he has received so far from university administration, particularly president Behre.

"Dr. Behre has been very supportive of our efforts to grow engineering programs at Slippery Rock," Behre said. "He wants us to have a greater presence at the university and contribute to overall student success. This is just another step towards becoming a more well-rounded university." According to Wei, the engineering program has approximately 160 students, equating to around 40 students per class. He hopes to see a similar amount of students enrolled in each new program starting the fall. "We've already received quite a few application requests," Wei said. "Offering this program is a great thing

and I'm really excited to be a part of the team that's moving this new initiative into the future." Students already studying within the engineering program at Slippery Rock are excited about the prospect of having more choice within their discipline, Wei said. That sentiment is shared by engineering student Samantha Woloszyk, who enjoys the intimate experience that she is afforded at SRU. "The new engineering programs SRU is instating in the fall are very exciting," Woloszyk said. "SRU offers a very personal experience. My professors know my name, and I can go to them with any issues I have. Engineering is a demanding field and can be challenging to study. Having smaller classes offers a better opportunity to learn, ask questions, and get one-on-one attention, that is not always offered in a larger engineering college." Woloszyk and her fellow students currently enrolled in the engineering program who aren't graduating this year, along with incoming and transfer students, will have the opportunity to be the first to major in either mechanical or civil engineering. It is this prospect in particular that has Woloszyk and students like her feeling optimistic about the program's future at SRU. "The new programs are a great initiative for the university," Wolosyzk said. "I think it is wonderful that the university is expanding its programs, especially in the growing field of engineering."


A-4 November 29 - Police were called to take a report of an accident involving a state vehicle in the Alumni Commuter Lot. No injuries or major damage was reported. November 29 - Police assisted on a traffic accident on Grove City Road. Police gathered information and passed information to the borough police. November 29 - Police were called to check on a person in Building B. The person was located and taken to the Health Center. November 30 - A nurse called and requested an ambulance to the Health Center for a transport. November 30 - A person called to report an incident of fraud. The person was advised not to cash checks or make any contact with the sender of these emails. November 30 - Borough police called for assistance to break up a party on East Cooper Street. December 1 - Borough police called for assistance for a domestic disturbance on West Cooper Street. One person was charged and taken to Butler County Jail. December 1 - Police requested an ambulance for a person who fell at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.


December 1 - Police received an alarm from Rock Apartments #6. Burnt food was the cause and the panel was reset. December 2 - Police were dispatched along with an ambulance for an intoxicated person in Building E. The person was taken to the hospital. December 2 - A desk attendant in Building E stopped an officer and stated an intoxicated person was trying to gain access to the building without signing in. William Higley, 18, was cited with an alcohol violation and released to a friend. December 3 - Police were called to Spotts World Culture Building for a medical situation. Police dispatched an ambulance, and the person was taken to the hospital. December 3 - A person called to report an accident in the Physical Therapy Building parking lot. The person left information on the other car. This was a nonreportable accident. December 3 - Police were dispatched by Pennsylvania State Police to respond to an apartment for a possible burglary in process at Campus Edge Apartments. Police checked the apartment and no one was around. State police took a report when they arrived.

December 7, 2018 December 4 - Police were called for a medical situation in Vincent Science Center. Police dispatched an ambulance and the person was taken to the hospital. December 4 - Police were called to check on a person in a car in the Rhoads Hall Staff Lot. The person was fine. December 4 - Police responded to a smoke detector activation in Rock Apartments #4. Police checked the room and the cause was burnt food. December 4 - Police responded to a smoke detector activation in Rock Apartments #2. Police checked the room and the cause was burnt food. December 5 - Police were called to Spotts World Culture Building for a medical situation. Police dispatched an ambulance, and the person was taken to the hospital. December 5 - Police responded to a smoke detector activation in Rhoads Hall. Smoke from burnt food caused the building to be evacuated. The alarm would not reset, and safety was notified to fix the panel. COMPILED BY HANNAH SHUMSKY

Finance committee to begin crafting 2019-20 budget CONTINUED FROM PAGE A-1


Senators of the Slippery Rock Student Government Association (SGA) review accomplishments from the past semester as SGA President Dallas Kline gives her report. This semester, SGA allocated $121,211.27 through capital and new initiative requests combined.

"They always say yes," Tupper said. The finance committee checks each finance request to ensure the request falls within

policy and the requesting organization cuts down on costs before advancing the request to the senate.

"We're setting up clubs to be responsible with what they're asking for," Tupper said. "That's the whole point of them being sent to committee and senate having a conversation about it. Wendy Leitera, SGA advisor and business manager, explained that the student activity fee is collected by the university each semester and distributed to SGA. From there, SGA allocates budgets for recognized organizations and new initiatives. This year's student activity fee was $202.55 for full-time undergraduate students or $243.81 for fulltime graduate students. "It's constantly a moving target," Leitera said. "We have to do a lot of projections based on enrollment, based on if there will be tuition increases, and then we as an organization have the responsibility to allocate this fees back out to the students." For the 2018-19 academic year, SGA approved a budget of $2,214,425.81 in April 2018. SGA began the fall 2018 semester with $100,000 in capital reserves and $92,732.19 in budgetary reserves. At the beginning of next semester, the finance committee may recommend an

amount of money to transfer from the reserves to the budgetary and/or capital reserves. Tupper anticipates that his committee will recommend adding at least $50,000 to budgetary reserves in order to fund more new initiatives. "That's something we'll talk about in finance committee: how much we want to take from the reserves to put back into the budgetary reserves for clubs to take out new initiatives," Tupper said. Next semester, SGA will approve a budget for the 2019-20 academic year. Tupper added that more information for student organizations to request a budget will be announced at the beginning of next semester. In other new business, Actuarial Science Club became a recognized organization. President Kline also issued a proclamation commending the football on ending their season in the third round of the NCAA Division II playoffs and an overall record of 11-3. SGA's first formal meeting of the spring 2019 semester will be on Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the Smith Student Center Theater.


December 7, 2018



Our View

All students must be represented Senate vacancies result of student apathy, lack of advertisement


Volume 102, Issue Number 5

220 Eisenberg Classroom Building Slippery Rock University Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania 16057 Phone: Fax: E-mail:

(724) 738-4438 (724) 738-4896



Adam Zook

News Editor

Stephen Cukovich Megan Bush

Sports Editor Campus Life Editor

Heather Donat

Copy/ Web Editor

Paris Malone

Photo Editor

Thomas Fabian

Multimedia Editor

Hannah Shumsky

Assistant News Editor

Oscar Matous

Assistant Sports Editor

Hope Hoehler

Assistant Campus Life Editor

Sarah Allen

Assistant Copy/Web Editor

Jack Hopey

Assistant Photo Editor

Dr. Brittany Fleming

Faculty Adviser


Advertising Manager

ABOUT US The Rocket is published by the students of Slippery Rock University every Friday during the academic semester with the exception of holidays, exam periods and vacations. Total weekly circulation is 3,000. No material appearing in The Rocket may be reprinted without the written consent of the Editor-in-Chief. The Rocket receives approximately 5 percent of its funding from the SGA Student Activity fee paid each semester by students. All other income is provided through the sale of advertising. Advertising inquiries may be made by calling (724) 738-2643 or by emailing

CORRECTIONS If we make a substantial error, we want to correct it. If you believe an error has been made, call The Rocket newsroom at (724) 738-4438. If a correction is warranted it will be printed in the opinion section.


The Slippery Rock Student Government Association is the most influential student-run groups on campus and provides the most direct avenue for students to have their voices heard by administration. Despite this, SGA ends the semester with nine vacant positions, nearly one-third of all senator posts. Student government has been a force for positive change on this campus, but a current crisis of apathy has left our government without a mandate from the people it serves. As it is clear that the student body has shown no interest in contributing to our campus' success, it must be up to SGA to understand how to reconnect with their constituents. Students usually pay very little attention to their elected representatives as SGA meetings have historically had low attendance. Usually the only students at formal meetings are the voting members of the senate and members of clubs or organizations asking for money or reporting back on how money they already received had been spent. Very rarely do students without planned business come to meetings to simply to learn about what student government is doing. Every undergraduate student pays approximately $200 as a fee every

semester which funds SGA but very few students take an interest in seeing how it is spent. Last semester OneSRU ran and won unopposed further illustrating the lack of participation in student government. Even now nine open senate positions remain unfilled, six of which have been open since the beginning of the semester. Students aren't interested in SGA, but SGA also isn't making it a priority to get more students involved with them. Open senator positions have not been advertised on any official SGA social media accounts since before classes began for the semester. The only mention of available positions since then was a post on CORE on September 6. When meetings are sparsely attended and interest in student government is low, additional time should be allocated to help bridge the divide between students and senate. No students were waiting in the wings to take over positions. If the senate wanted to fill positions then it was on them to drum up interest and make sure students from all corners of campus were represented and additional measures should have been taken to attract qualified candidates. Currently, 19 of 21 senators come from the Colleges of Liberal arts and Health and Environmental Sciences.

In the Quad

Both the College of Business and the College of Education only have one representative each. OneSRU campaigned on a platform that included creating sustainable long-term change, but without representation from across all parts of campus, any change made now wouldn't accurately reflect the needs of the whole campus and likely would need to be revisited in the near future. In the upcoming evaluation of a possible senate reconstruction that was approved during Monday night's meeting, student voices are expected to come first. SGA did a great job reaching out to the student body in regards to the presidential search with #MySRUPresident and finding out what students wanted in their new administrator. Now it time to make sure that the SGA knows what students want to see in their senate. Students don't currently engage with the senate and if the only students involved in the process are those who are already a part of the small group it is unlikely that any change that comes will help bring new students into the fold if their concerns and reservations are not addressed. If SGA is goint to make lasting, sustainable change all voices need to be heard.

Question: What is your favorite thing about winter break?

By: Tom Fabian

In the Quad is a segment in which random students, faculty and staff are asked for their opinions on a specific topic.

SUBSCRIPTIONS Subscriptions to The Rocket are available. Subscriptions are $20 per academic semester and $35 for the full academic year. Inquiries should be directed to the Editor-in-Chief at the address listed here.

EDITORIAL POLICY The Rocket strives to present a diverse range of opinions that are both fair and accurate in its editorials and columns appearing on the Opinion pages. “Our View” is the opinion of the Editorial Board and is written by Rocket editorial board members. It reflects the majority opinion of The Rocket Editorial Board. “Our View” does not necessarily reflect the views of Slippery Rock University, its employees or its student body. Columns and cartoons are drafted by various individuals and only reflect the opinions of the columnists.

LETTERS POLICY The Rocket welcomes letters to the editor and guest columns, but does not guarantee their publication. The Rocket retains the right to edit or reject any material submitted. Submitted material becomes the property of The Rocket and cannot be returned. Anonymous submissions will not be published. Those who submit letters must identify themselves by name, year in school, major and/or group affiliation, if any. Please limit letters to a maximum of 400 words. Submit all material by noon Wednesday to: The Rocket, 220 ECB, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, Pa. 16057. Or send it via e-mail to:

Dominic Civitella Senior English Major Easton, Pa.

Adam Weissert Senior Info. Technology Major Elysburg, Pa.

Khalil Harper Senior Computer Science Major Pittsburgh, Pa.

“My favorite part of Christmas Break is being with family and seeing my three dogs because I live 6 hours away and don’t see them often. They bring me warmth and joy during the Christmas season.”

“What I like most about Winter Break is being able to relax and eat a lot.”

“I would say that my favorite thing about winter break would be being able to reconnect with old friends from high school, getting a break from the turbulent life of school and just having time to sit back and relax and not have to worry about if I have a paper due or if I have grades I need to submit.”



December 7, 2018

One last giddy up After that interview, Cody truly never left my side. I have never met a person more passionate for journalism than Cody. When he became Editor-InChief, he was always there for us trying to help us become better at our jobs, and I trusted him because he had all the experience and knowledge to back up the advice he gave us all.  I truly am blessed we had Cody in charge. Steve Cukovich After covering volleyball for a few weeks, I was finally able to become very confident in my abilities to talk Sports Editor with coaches and players.  I felt coach Lokash became Steve is the Sports Editor at The familiar with me and she never gave me any trouble, Rocket wrapping up his third despite what I had heard from other Rocket members.  semester on staff. I'll be completely honest here, this sucks.  It truly In the spring that year, I was able to choose softball pains me that I have to write this because I hate saying as my sport for the semester, and I couldn't have been goodbye.  There have been so many good times working more happy with that decision.  Softball and baseball with The Rocket over the past two and a half years that are the sports I understand the most and I was finally it will be hard to talk about them all.  The only proper able to get creative and have even more fun because I knew confidently how I wanted to cover the sport. way to do this is by starting at the beginning. Becoming assistant sports editor last fall, I really was It all started the fall of my junior year when I started able to dive-in more with The Rocket and develop the contributing for the sports section.  I honestly had skills I still lacked such as design and leadership.  I no clue what I was getting myself into because I had next to no experience.  I was assigned volleyball as my had zero experience with design because I had never first sport to cover, and it honestly scared me to death used PhotoShop or InDesign before in my life.  I was because I knew nothing about it.  I didn't know the fortunate to be alongside Justin Kraus because he took rules or even how the scoring worked.  I had conducted me under his wing and was able to show me how we interviews before for my news writing classes with Dr. laid out our pages for print and how to organize our budget for each week. Harry, but I had never done one regarding sports. I am glad I got to be assistant sports editor before Cody Nespor, who was the sports editor at the time, becoming sports editor this semester because it gave came with me to my first interview with volleyball me time to grow and learn.  As sports editor now, I head coach Laurie Lokash.  Beforehand he helped me feel I have gone somewhat from student to teacher in design a few questions and gave me pointers on things to look for and ask questions about.  Him being by my a way.  Although I can always still learn more, at this side during that interview really gave me much more point I am teaching more than I am learning which is a confidence because he was able to step in and ask a few humbling feeling.  I am very proud of my contributors questions on some things he thought I had missed.  and my assistant sports editor Oscar Matous.

It's amazing to honestly sit back and watch Oscar and our new assistant sports editor Karl Ludwig begin to figure stuff out and do things on their own without my supervision. I think I've left at least a small impact on their careers through showing them what I do so they can make the sports section better than when we found it, even though it was already doing just fine. I am extremely lucky to have been surrounded by such amazing, helpful people on staff.  I've had many group projects for classes over my college career and often there were a few people in the group that weren't pulling their weight.  It never felt like that at The Rocket.  Everyone has always been at the top of their game and everyone has always been able to step in and help me when I didn't know what I was doing. Working for The Rocket also provided me with some of the greatest friends I have made in my college career.  There has never been a dull moment in The Rocket office and I always felt comfortable with the people around me.  I'll also never forget the triple atomic challenge video we did just the other week where Oscar, Paris Malone, and myself tried to eat six of the hottest chicken wings known to man.  We struggled greatly in the video and our pain was very visable, but I am glad we did it because it was by far the funniest things I have done for The Rocket. It is very hard to put everything I want to say into a certain amount of words.  I know I am leaving so much and so many people out of this and I do apologize.  In the end I am extremly thankful for everything I have learned from my time at The Rocket.  I couldn't think of a better use of my time to better forward my career.  I'd like to thank everyone who I have encountered over my college career and I wish everyone the best of luck in their careers.  I love you all and giddy up.

When facts obstruct agenda are analyzed in order to ensure American citizens are given proper information in order for them to make an informed decision when participating in the democratic process. “Death of a Nation” is a film directed by Dinesh D’Souza, often referring to himself as the “Michael Moore of the right.” D’Souza has directed two other documentaries including “Obama’s America” and “America: Imagine the World Without Her.” “Obama’s

Caitlyn Kilmer President Pi Sigma Alpha Caitlyn is a Senior Political Science and Philosophy Major In our current political climate with Republicancontrolled Legislative and Executive branches despite the most recent election ending with a popular vote that favored the Democratic candidate by over 2.8 million, it can be agreed upon the country is divided. Both unsubstantiated claims of false media and actual false media contribute to this heavily rooted partisan division. President Trump quite frequently speaks out about the false media claiming it “fake news”. At this point in American politics, it is important to recognize and distinguish between true and false information. A popular film among the conservative community is the new documentary “Death of a Nation”. This film explores the history of fascism, white supremacy, and racism and how the Democratic Party allegedly is to blame. All personal political beliefs set aside, the lack of acknowledgment of historical context in "Death of a Nation" should be to members of any political party. In a political climate like ours, it's important all sources

"It is our duty as educated Americans to distinguish between facts and lies and help others do the same." America” outlined D’Souza’s conspiracy theory that Obama was a brainwashed anti-colonialist controlled by his Kenyan father to destroy America. His film “America: Imagine the World Without Her” presented the premise that slavery was blown out of proportion. D’Souza has several other documentaries and books that attempt to debunk racism and blame the left for 9/11. “Death of a Nation” was recently released and pertains to the current President. D’Souza compares President Trump to Abraham Lincoln, blames the Democratic Party for slavery, and implies the political parties never

made their ideological switch following the Civil War. Prior to the civil war, the Republican Party was heavily represented in the North while the Democrats controlled the South. The Republican Party was adamant on the expansion of federal power and protecting the rights of minority groups including African-Americans, while the Democrats opposed both. The parties switched their ideological stances gradually from 1836-1920 and can be linked back to a Democrat named William Jennings Bryan. Bryan blurred party lines by emphasizing the government's role in ensuring social justice through expansions of federal power which historically, a Republican stance. The Republican Party didn't immediately adopt the opposite position of favoring limited government. "Instead, for a couple of decades, both parties are promising an augmented federal government devoted in various ways to the cause of social justice,"although there isn’t one specific event that can be pointed to as the one cause of the shift, one can easily compare the ideals of the Republican and Democratic party now those prior to the civil war and see the pronounced differences. The Republican Party of the past advocated for big government, social justice, and an emphasis on fighting the disenfranchisement of minorities. In contrast, the Democratic Party advocated for limited government and is conservative on issues concerning minorities and social justice. There is significant historical evidence that refutes the plot of D’Souza’s, "Death of a Nation". American citizens should be concerned about being fed false media and facts but there should be a realization of which political party is actually feeding it to them. It is our duty as educated Americans to distinguish between facts and lies and help others do the same.

To the American democratic socialists:

Brian McLaughlin President of the College Republicans Brian is the a senior Political Science Pre-Law major

The Soviet Union was created after the Bolshevik Revolution 1918-20. The Bolsheviks, Russian Social Democratic Worker's Party (RSDWP)(key words 'Social Democratic') wanted to use democratic centralism (big government) to create a proletariat (working class) dictatorship. The party was led by Vladimir Lenin, who famously stated, "The goal of socialism is communism," and along with the economist Ludwig von Mises, referred to western communist/Marxist sympathizers as "useful idiots" helping achieve communism. When I see so many people, especially in American universities, rallying around the hatred of capitalism, promoting traditional and cultural Marxism (grouping of individuals into classes by wealth, status, race, sexual orientation, etc), and supporting extremist, tax raising, and divisive politicians and policies that have become the "new face" and platform of the democratic party, like Alexandria Occasio-Cortez and Bernard Sanders

(who honeymooned in the Soviet Union, praised Cuba and Venezuela, and lives off of the wealth gained through his supporters), I cannot help but see similarities between American Democratic Socialists and the Bolsheviks. (invariable economic collapses, 100 million dead, over 1 billion enslaved, etc.). This knowledge should be applied, and these policies and individuals should be completely and utterly politically opposed by every American politician, Republican or Democrat. The Bolsheviks were democratic socialists, as were other countries now in shambles. These policies sound great, as does the Communist Manifesto in many aspects, but both are the antithesis of America's founding principles, true democracy, and capitalism. I care about our country and its citizens, including the people I have just referred to, so I say this with sincerity: Stop being useful idiots.


December 7, 2018


INSIDE SPORTS Rock football eliminated in playoffs

Rock freshman has European Roots

The SRU football team was defeated in the NCAA Division II quarterfinals.

Nik Cazacu joins a list of Rock basketball players not born in the United States.

See Page C-2

See Page C-3

Vernick has sights set on next season Leading tackler wins November Athlete of the Month By Karl Ludwig Senior Rocket Contributor

Anyone who grows up with an older sibling knows how difficult stepping out of their shadow can prove to be. When your older brother ranks in the upper echelon of linebackers hailing from Slippery Rock, the task can appear rather daunting. Watching his brother rack up tackles at MihalikThompson stadium for four seasons, redshirt sophomore linebacker Tim Vernick built an early connection with the university where he would one day roam the same field as his older brother. Coming out of nearby Butler High School, only Slippery Rock offered Vernick a scholarship to continue playing football at the next level and the talented linebacker has rewarded their faith by leading The Rock in tackles during the 2018 season and, in the process, won The Rocket’s November Athlete of the Month poll. “Mainly because it was my only scholarship offer out of high school, but I wanted to go somewhere closer to home and my brother played here,” commented Vernick. “I would come up for the games and I fell in love with the campus.” During Bob Vernick’s career with The Rock, his individual stat lines were some of the most wellrounded totals ever recorded. His career best tackles total in a single season was 90. Tim reached 92 this season. Ranking in the top four of many defensive categories this season–tackles, tackles for loss, sacks– Vernick finally received the full attention that has been lacking throughout his playing career when he defeated teammate Wes Hills in a closely contested Athlete of the Month poll. “It feels good. It’s a product of all the hard work that I’ve put in throughout the week and throughout the years and it’s nice to just finally get some recognition,” Vernick admitted. With a slow start to the season in which the computer science major only racked up 34 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and no sacks through the first seven games of the season, Vernick said that his effort levels through the season never wavered but the results just did not meet his expectations. "I didn’t really do anything different. Just kind of kept focusing and kept working at it,” Vernick said. “I had some struggles in the beginning of the year, so I wasn’t really producing as much as I’d hoped, and I guess something just clicked and I was able to put it all together on the field and I was able to produce.” Over the final seven games of the season, things fell into place for the hard-working Butler county native. With 58 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and two sacks, Vernick began producing against tough PSAC West opponents and nationally ranked playoff opposition. Leading the Green and White in tackles, Slippery Rock head coach Shawn Lutz attributed Vernick’s emergence as a sophomore to his indominable work effort. “He never settles for anything,” Lutz said. “Tim battled through a little bit last year with starts and not starts. He doesn’t take anything for granted. He’s the type of guy that he might be lifting right off the bat once the season is over.” The November slate of games featured ranked match-ups with West Chester University, LIU


Linebacker Tim Vernick goes for a tackle during a game against Gannon University on Nov. 3. Vernick led The Rock in tackles this season with 92.

Post, New Haven and Notre Dame College. In the contests with four nationally-ranked programs, Vernick recorded the best month of his season. With 44 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, one sack and a pass breakup, Lutz said that Vernick is the kind of player to play better and better as the season wears on and the intensity heightens. “There’s no stage that’s too big for him. He just plays and competes, and I think the bigger the game, he gets a little bit more excited. You just get that feel for it and big players step up in big games and he’s a big player type of guy,” Lutz said. Although the result against no. 1 seed Notre Dame College did not favor the Green and White, Vernick put together one of the greatest games of the season–10 tackles and 3 tackles for loss–and the experience gained from the high-stakes, road match will only spawn better performances and stronger leadership. “I think I can learn in ways that help my team more like when guys are shifting their focus to other things that aren’t the game, I can help them

get back on track,” expressed Vernick. “I can take that experience and put that into every other game that I play now on where I know if I align another way or position somewhere else, I’ll be able to make the play.” With the best November of Vernick’s playing career now in the books, the Green and White will lean on the punishing linebacker’s experience and talent as next season’s squad will carry a lot of hype. Losing experienced defensive lineman Tim Soave and cornerback Kyle Hall will force Vernick into a leadership role and he is ready for it. “My only expectation is that we’re going to win the PSAC Championship. We’re going to win the regional championship and see how far we’ll be able to go.” With 120 tackles through the first two seasons of his Rock career, Vernick sits 123 tackles behind Bob’s career total. With a couple of more months like this, Tim will be there in no time.


SPORTS Rock football defied the odds all season


December 7, 2018

By Oscar Matous Assistant Sports Editor

Going into the 2018 season, the Slippery Rock University football team was ranked third in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), expected to finish behind California (Pa.) University and Indiana (Pa.) University. “We don’t care where or how we are ranked,” Rock head coach Shawn Lutz said throughout the season. “If anything it motivates the team to prove people wrong.” Two weeks into the season, The Rock seemed destined to finish below their third-place ranking. Just a week after escaping a narrow 38-31 victory over Kentucky State University, The Rock suffered an ugly 25-21 defeat at the hands of Shippensburg University in week two, during which the team lost starting quarterback Andrew Koester for the entire season to a knee injury. To make matters worse for SRU, their highly anticipated regarded running back Wes Hills suffered a shoulder injury just two plays into the game. Hills, who transferred from the University of Delaware, was expected to miss at least six weeks. Backup quarterback Taylor King was expected to take over control of The Rock offense for week three. That all changed when he was ruled out due to a minor foot injury that he suffered against Shippensburg. The Rock then looked to third-string quarterback Roland Rivers III to help them get back on track and never looked back. Rivers took the PSAC by storm, quickly becoming one of the top quarterbacks in the PSAC. Rivers finished the season third in passing yards and completions with 2,721 and 198, respectively, while finishing second in touchdown passes with 28. “If you look at every successful team in college football, and even in the NFL, they only go as far as their quarterback takes them,” Lutz said. “Roland had some bumps in the road, but for the most part he did a tremendous job for us this season.” Hills would defy his doctors’ prognosis for his injury and return after missing just two games. He would quickly become one of the top running backs, not just in the PSAC, but in all of Division II football. His 1,714 rushing yards are third best in the country. Hills said he does not know how he healed so quickly from his injury. “I really couldn’t do anything to help my recovery,” said Hills, earlier in the season. “I was blessed, man, I really was.” Leading up to week six’s matchup with school rival Indiana (Pa.), Lutz said he still wasn’t sure where he felt his team stacked up against a legit contender. The Rock, against all odds, came out victorious over the Crimson Hawks during their homecoming game and won 30-27. “When we won that game, I knew our team was something special,” Lutz said. “Beating IUP on their home turf was a real turning point for our season because we started to become very confident and knew we could make a deep playoff run if we continued what we were doing.” The Green and White continued dominating conference opponents for the rest of the season to set them up against no. 9 West Chester University in the PSAC Championship, a rematch of the 2015 title game in which The Rock beat the Golden Rams 61-12. It didn’t work out for The Rock, as the West Chester defense was able to contain both Rivers and Hills, and steal SRU’s quest for their third PSAC Championship since 2014. Despite the loss, The Rock’s season was not over, as they were given the seventh seed in the Super Region One as part of the NCAA Division II playoffs. The selection was their first since 2015, and fourth since 2013, according to Rock Athletics. The Rock traveled to LIU Post for the first round of the national playoffs and took down the Pioneers 2014. The Rock then headed to Connecticut to take on the University of New Haven. The Green and White dominated throughout the game, so much so that Lutz put his second-string into the game to preserve the starters, and took down the Chargers 59-20. Lutz said that although he is always confident in his team, he never expected them to beat New Haven by 39 points. “For us to come out and play a game the way we did is just unbelievable,” Lutz said. The win advanced Slippery Rock to the quarterfinals to take on no. 11 Notre Dame College. Despite battling all game long, and not allowing the Falcons to score once in the second half, The Rock’s season ultimately came to a close with a 21-17 defeat. The Rock football program has never once made it past the NCAA quarterfinals. Lutz, who won the 2018 PSAC West Coach of the Year, said that although winning the national championship is always the program goal, he is still proud of what his team accomplished this year. “We defied the odds,” Lutz said. “All around, I am very happy with the run our team was able to make this year.” Lutz highlighted the many positives that came from his team this season.


Wide receiver Mike Merhaut runs the ball during week one's 38-31 win against Kentucky State University. Merhaut caught 24 passes for 466 yards and four tochdowns this past season.

“If you look at our return game and our kicker from this past season, I would give us an ‘A’ on special teams,” he said. “Defensively, I would give us an ‘A-’, simply because we didn’t win the national championship. Offensively, I would go with a ‘B+’, due to us not scoring enough points in games where it was crucial to do so.” Lutz said that before the season started there were a lot of questions among the coaching staff about how

“If you look at every successful team in college football, and even in the NFL, they only go as far as their quarterback takes them” -Shawn Lutz the offense was going to work, especially having to do without star receivers Marcus Johnson and Milly Raye. The Rock’s primary receiving group during the season consisted of seniors Dakota Clanagan, Austin Scott, and Carnel Harley, redshirt junior Mike Merhaut, and redshirt sophomores Henry Litwin and Jermaine Wynn Jr. These six men accounted for 27 of The Rock’s 33 touchdown passes and 82% of the receiving yards recorded throughout the season. Perhaps the biggest loss for the Green and White following this season will be the departure of Hills. Throughout the season, Lutz said he has never seen a running back in Division II football as talented as Hills. “He is one of the best football players I have ever seen and a great team leader,” Lutz said. “He was only here for a few short weeks during camp before the rest of the team voted him as a captain for the season. That shows you what kind of person and football player that he is.” Hills, who had one semester of eligibility left coming into the season, accepted an invitation to the National Football League Players Association Collegiate Bowl at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California. The event, which will be held on Jan. 19, 2019, is one of the top postseason showcase events for potential NFL players, according to Rock Athletics. Hills said that prior to the start of the season, he heard rumors that he could be selected in the sixth or seventh round of the upcoming NFL draft. Following the season, Hill said he is now hearing that he thinks he could go as early as the fourth round. Besides Hills, The Rock is losing several key players that have been integral to the team’s success over the

past several years. They are losing three key receivers in Clanagan, Scott, and Harley as well as two key offensive linemen in Colten Raabe and Steve Gaviglia who were crucial in creating opportunities for the offense to score, Lutz said. Lutz attributed much of the success of the offensive line to The Rock’s Associate Head Coach and Offensive Line coach Chris Conrad. Conrad, a former lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers, helped mold an offensive line that was considered by Lutz at the beginning of the season as the team’s Achilles heel, to be one of the top lines in the PSAC. “Tremendous job by Coach Conrad this season,” Lutz said. “Since we are losing Colten (Raabe) and Steve (Gaviglia) to graduation, we are going to need guys to step up next season on the line and I fully expect that process to begin with Chris Larsen.” Larsen, a six-foot-four, 325 pounds, redshirt junior is now The Rock’s most veteran offensive linemen and is expected to help maintain the success the line has had, Lutz said. Junior Jake Chapla has continued to solidify his reputation as being one of the top kickers in Division II football. Chapla finished the season with the most field goals made among all PSAC kickers with 17. He currently has the most points made by a kicker in SRU history with 275 points, which also places him third in all-time in scoring for The Rock. Defensively, The Rock is returning most of their starters with the exception of defensive back Kyle Hall. Junior Brad Zaffram, redshirt sophomores Tim Vernick, Chad Kuhn, and Dalton Holt, and sophomore Trysten McDonald are among the many starters on The Rock defense who will be back next season. Lutz said “We had two bad defensive games this season, and really they were just halves,” Lutz explained. “We were bad against Kentucky State in the first half and against West Chester in the first half. Besides that, I thought the defense was one of the best in the country on all levels.” Lutz said with the addition of another strong running back, he fully expects his team to be a formidable force in the PSAC West next season. “We don’t get too excited about how good we know we are,” Lutz said. “We just got to keep working hard while trusting in the process. I expect us to have a great offseason so that our guys get healthier and stronger.” Lutz said he doesn’t expect just one person to step up next season and spoke highly of the members of the freshman class who redshirted this past season. “It’s going to be a team effort next season to help some of these young guys fill in the veterans’ shoes,” Lutz said. “At this point, I really don’t know about who I am expecting big things out of next season. I am going to have to wait until our guys get a good lift in this offseason and see what we got come Spring practice.”


December 7, 2018


From Piraeus, Greece to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania Freshman guard travels thousands of miles to fulfill dream of playing college basketball By Oscar Matous Assistant Sports Editor


Freshman Nik Cazacu goes up for a shot during The Rock's 64-59 loss to the University of the District of Columbia on Nov. 17. Cazacu currently has 30 points on the season.

For the eighth consecutive season, the Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team will have a player on their team that was not born in the United States. Freshman Nik Cazacu was born in Piraeus, Greece, located within the urban area of Athens, and lived a majority of his life there before moving to the United States when he was 16-years-old. “My goal was to play college basketball,” Cazacu said. “I was given the opportunity to attend the Knox School, a prep school, in Long Island, New York, to achieve this goal.” Introduced to basketball at a young age, Cazacu said he fell in love with the game. He played on a number of club basketball teams while growing up and was a member of the “All-Greece Champion in 16-andUnder,” as well was a member of the 15-and-under Greece National Team. “Basketball in the United States is much more physical,” he said. “Players are more athletic here but you might see players with a bit more skill while playing overseas.” Cazacu said basketball is highly popular in Greece in comparison to other European Countries. “We have two of the best teams in all of Europe that compete in the Euro League, which is a very prestigious league,” Cazacu said. After moving to the United States, Cazacu took part in a tournament in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where Ian Grady, the then-assistant coach for The Rock, got in contact with him to try and persuade him to come to SRU. “I did my own research about the school,” Cazacu said. “I looked at the academics and obviously the athletics. I heard some pretty good stuff about Slippery Rock so I decided to come.” Grady, now serving as The Rock’s acting head coach, said he attended the tournament and saw Cazacu play

and felt that Slippery Rock would be a perfect fit for the six-foot-four guard. “I saw him out on the court and knew that if we got him to come to Slippery Rock now, we would be able to groom him into a collegiate basketball star,” Grady said. “He helps us compete in every game.” Cazacu said he wasn’t approached by any other schools within the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), but was heavily recruited by schools farther Northeast, particularly in New York. Cazacu said he believes he brings “much to the court,” for the Green and White this year. “I think I bring a lot of defensive skills to the team this year,” said Cazacu, confidently. “I also ‘crash the board’ really well and collect a lot of rebounds. I play tough and I go hard every game.” While The Rock returns just one player who was on the roster last season in redshirt junior Micah Till, Cazacu said the team has developed a solid relationship with each other over the course of the past several months. He said that he looks to Till and redshirt senior Vinny Lasley, who missed all of last year with a torn meniscus but played for The Rock during 2016-2017 season, as positive influences on the team. “Micah and Vinny [Lasley] do a really great job leading the team on the court and in the huddles,” Cazacu said. “Even during the pregame and in the locker room they speak to us and help motivate us while making sure the entire team is on the same page.” On the season, Cazacu has 30 points, averaging 4.3 per game, and is shooting 13 for 34 (38 percent) from the field. He is sixth on the team in the rebounds with 18 (2.6 per game). With an overall record of 2-5 and -01 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), The Rock will look to come away victorious on Saturday as they take on West Chester University. The game will be the Green and White's first home conference game of the season. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Historic season leads to draft buzz CONTINUED FROM PAGE A-1

In a trend that continued on at The Rock, Hills was a two-year captain at Delaware. Slippery Rock head coach Shawn Lutz said he did not know Hills well before coming onto campus but his impact with teammates was immediate. “As good a player that he is, he’s a better person,” commented Lutz. “He was a captain at Delaware for his last two years and he got picked to be a captain here after only being here for camp. That’s how well his teammates liked him.” Following a historic season in which Hills broke a 24-year-old Rock rushing record —previously held by former Rock running back LaMonte Coleman —with 1,714 yards and added 17 touchdowns, Hills earned an invite to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Pasadena, California. Now the second Rock player to earn an invite in the last two years following defensive end Marcus Martin’s invite last season, Hills wants to show that he is a complete running back capable of competing with the best the NCAA has to offer. “The biggest desire that I have is to showcase what I can do,” stated Hills. “The biggest thing for me is to go there and put all comparisons, all red flags that I have or whether I can play against bigger competition to bed.” While Hills originally looked at leaving Delaware as a potential pitfall, the talented senior used the hardship as a chance to grow as a person and a player. “I thought I had a legit shot when I was playing at my old school. I had a lot of talk and a lot buzz around my name that I could do it. I hit a bump in the road, but I grew from it and I chose to come here and help this team as best as I could,” Hills said. Coming to Slippery Rock allowed Hills to play against competition from one of the toughest football conferences in all of Division II and despite missing two full games and all but two snaps of a third, Hills led the PSAC in rushing yards and yards per attempt. Spearheading the Green and White’s offense down the stretch with 180 yards per game over the final three regular season games and four playoff games, Hills rushed for over 100 yards in all but one of those games. Now that his season is over, and his collegiate eligibility has come to an end, Hills said that everything he wanted to accomplish during his brief time at The Rock ended up being reached.

“The goal was to come here, showcase what I can do, answer a lot of questions about sitting out a year,” Hills said. “I wanted to come here, be part of a team, be part of something great and work hard with the team in the summer. We all worked hard to leave our mark. Come in and try to do something great. Which we did. We were really close to accomplishing our goal.” Well-loved among teammates and coaches, supremely talented and accomplished on the football field and now given the opportunity to showcase his talent to over 200 general managers, head coaches and scouts from all NFL teams, Hills has not regretted choosing Slippery Rock over bigger programs he originally considered. “Slippery Rock put me in a position to do this and I couldn’t ask to be a part of a better family,” Hills said. With four former Division II running backs on NFL rosters to begin the 2018-2019 season, Hills hopes he can join their ranks and welcomes the chance to prove himself in every way that he knows how. “Whether it’s running the ball, playing special teams or just being that presence in the locker room,” said Hills. “I’m a great character guy, everyone loves being around me and I feel like I bring that energy.” An all—expenses paid trip to Los Angeles, California at the end of January awaits Hills who will have the opportunity to work under either former Indianapolis Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano or former Minnesota Vikings’ head coach Mike Tice. The week-long camp will afford Hills the chance to gain valuable information from current NFL coaches and showcase his ability on and off the field. A game at the famous Rose Bowl Stadium at the end of the week will pit Hills against the best Division I and II players from around the country. A strong showing would go a long way in elevating the sixth or seventh round draft grade Hills received from scouts before the season. Hills, who will be 24 at the start of NFL training camps next summer, feels blessed to be in the situation he finds himself in now and looks forward to making not just himself proud but all of Slippery Rock. “I’m just happy that I can go out there and play against top competition and be part of that experience,” said Hills. “It means a lot for this school and it means a lot for myself.”



December 7, 2018

Former student-athletes return as student coaches for women's basketball By Stephen Cukovich Sports Editor

To enter the 2018-19 season, Slippery Rock women's basketball will have five coaches working alongside the 16 student-athletes, which includes two student assistant coaches in Krista Pietropola and Alexis Deyarmin. "First off, they're great people," SRU women's basketball head coach Bobby McGraw said. "They're great students, great people, fun to be around, that all trumps any knowledge about the game of basketball, but they also have a good feel for the game and they've already played for us, that's the best part about having players who've been here done that be on the staff." In Deyarmin's freshman year in 2016-17, she appeared in 11 games as a true freshman, averaging .3 points per game and .5 rebounds, while making Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Scholar-Athlete. Despite then only being a sophomore entering the 2017-18 season, Deyarmin decided to make the early move to student-assistant coach. "When I came to SRU I wanted a place where I didn't regret anything," Deyarmin said. "I wanted to have that college experience and everything. I love basketball, but I knew it was time to kinda hang up my shoes and try something a little different and that's when I decided to switch over to studentassistant and I love it. It was probably one of the best decisions I've ever made." In high school at Grove City High School, Deyarmin earned all-region honors twice and was named MVP of her senior all-star game. During practice, Deyarmin and Pietropola help with many operations to help things run smoothly such as running the clock and making sure things are set up for the evening. On game day, Deyarmin is in charge of keeping track of the fouls and timeouts in the game because those end up being very important at the end of games. "(Deyarmin) takes on more of an administrative role day to day," McGraw said. "Come game day, Lex has a very important job in the game of college basketball. Lex keeps track of all the fouls for our team and the other team and all the timeouts. If people don't think that's a big deal then they didn't watch our game last Saturday against Wayne State when we were down eight with 2:55 and the way we foul at the end of the game, the timeouts we have left, that's crucial. It's not a job you can mess up come game day."


Former Rock women's basketball players, Alexis Deyarmin (left) and Krista Pietropola (right) , rejoin the team, this time as student coaches.

For Pietropola on game day, she is in charge of the play cards. Coach McGraw explained they have two coaches holding cards and one of them is a 'dummy card' and the other is a 'hot card' and the hot card is the play they are actually running.  They are always changing who has the hot card and McGraw says that teams have yet to figure out who has that card and when. Over Pietropola's career with The Rock, she played in a total of 84 games from seasons 2015-18.  She ended her career ranked 12th in program history in defensive rebounds with 291, 13th in three-pointers made with 84, and 16th in blocks with 37. Transitioning from player to coach does allow one to see things that they normally wouldn't see as a player. When you are running around on the court, there isn't time to stop and make sure everyone else is doing their job, but that changes when you are looking at things from the sidelines as a coach. "When you are a player you just see your position more or less," Deyarmin said. "Once you transition out of the player role and more into coaching it's you having to look at what's best for everybody and you really have to see the whole floor instead of moment

by moment and you have to view ahead." Coaching is something Deyarmin is looking to get into following her college career no matter what the age bracket she said, because basketball is a sport that she loves and would like to continue for the rest of her life. The road to going from player to coach can be a rocky one for some more than others, coach McGraw explained, because one moment you are a student of the game, then all of a sudden you are a teacher. "It's something I can't speak of from personal experience because I went from player, to marine, to police officer, to coach," McGraw said. "I know it's not an easy transition because you wake up one day and you're a pier, you're a teammate, you're a player, and then you wake up the next day and all a sudden you're at staff meetings and getting text messages as a staff member. So it's not an easy transition and it's not for everybody because there is a lot of tedious stuff to coaching that is not glamorous such as carrying Gatorade to busses and all that good stuff and I do that because I wouldn't ask anybody to do something I wouldn't do, but that's all part of coaching."

Lueken, volunteers help to make National Championship Festival a success Six Division II schools in the Pittsburgh hosted championships last week By Brendan Howe Senior Rocket Contributor

Last week, Slippery Rock University served alongside Clarion University as a host institution for the NCAA Division II National Championship Festival in Pittsburgh. Adding to the approximately 1,500 volunteers who have helped to make the event a success in the past, director of athletics Paul Lueken worked with over 40 student volunteers, many of whom are either involved with the athletic department or study as sport management majors. It was almost two years ago that officials from SportsPITTSBURGH, a branch of Pittsburgh’s tourism promotion agency, contacted Lueken and explained their need of a sponsor university to submit a bid to the NCAA with. After talking to his staff, Lueken resolved it would be a great opportunity to get his school extra exposure. Earlier this year, in mid-April, Pittsburgh was named as the host of the 11th festival and the national championship events for each of the six fall sports that came along with it. Student volunteers helped with anything from setting up and tearing down tents, banners, and temporary fencing to preparing nearly $50,000 in championship merchandise and apparel ready for sale. The school’s athletic training covered the sporting venues. Heads of the SRU's athletic communication, Jon Holtz and Tyler McIntosh both served as media service coordinators for the event and, along with Ben Matos, did statistical and press box work. Modeled after the Olympics, the event commenced on Tuesday night with an opening ceremony. There, Lueken and others helped present individual and team academic awards. Following days of team practices on Wednesday and Friday, head field hockey coach Julie Swiney, also a member of the NCAA’s games committee, and her staff and players manned the Arthur J. Rooney

Athletic Field on Thursday, staging both the field hockey semifinals and championship game. On Saturday morning, cross country and track and field head coach John Papa and his team worked as course marshals for over 250 runners in Schenley Park. Lueken described the task of altering the Bob O’Connor Golf Course into a cross-country path as the most laborintensive of the week. In addition to the festival, SRU and SportsPITTSBURGH were chosen to host next year’s D-II men’s and women’s soccer national championships, which will be held at Station Square’s Highmark Stadium. The 2019 cross country regionals will take place at SRU’s new home course, the Lawrence County Fairgrounds. Slippery Rock hosted the UCA Allegheny cheerleading regional this past Sunday along with multiple high school football playoff games earlier in the fall. Lueken looks forward to the accommodation of several other high school events, such as basketball games, playoff softball and baseball, and the WPIAL and District 10 track and field championships this winter and spring. “Those are all great things to get people to come to see Slippery Rock and how nice it is," Lueken said. "Obviously, all the things we do and host, we do it for a lot of reasons. [It helps to] increase scholarship money for student-athletes and to bring student-athletes onto campus that we want to recruit. We bring lots of people to campus that might want to go to school here, not just student-athletes.” All told, the festival was a success thanks in large part to Lueken and his crew of volunteers. He was thanked by Roberta Page, who oversees Division II championships, and Rich Fitzgerald, the chief executive of Allegheny County. He also received emails from people around the country telling him how great of an experience the week was. “It was a team effort, without a doubt,” Lueken said. “I think it was really rewarding to see it all come together and to show that Slippery Rock can run a national event. We can be on the big stage with anyone else.”


SRU Athletic Director Paul Lueken speaks at the NCAA Division II National Championship Festival on Nov. 28



INSIDE CAMPUS LIFE Red Ribbon Monologues promote HIV/AIDS awareness

Music Therapy Club hosts benefit concert to raise money

SUMA hosted a speaker during National AIDS Awareness Month at their annual event to tell his story of living HIV positive.

The Fall 2018 Benefit Concert featured two acts of performances by music and non-music majors alike to fundraise for a conference.

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Theatre department brings Charles Dickens' classic to life


Jacob Marley, played by senior theatre and communication dual major Zach Malinak, visits Ebenezer Scrooge, played by sophomore history major Erik Warmbein, during the theatre department's biennial production of "A Christmas Carol". This year's show was directed by associate professor of theatre Deanna Brookens.

By Hope Hoehler Asst. Campus Life Editor

Slippery Rock University's theatre department performed Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" in the multi-purpose room in the University Union Nov. 30 through Dec. 6. The production is a 70-minute adaptation written by SRU professor of theatre David Skeele and had no intermission.   The cast consisted of 29 students, one SRU alum of the theatre department, and a handful of children from Slippery Rock Elementary School.   The theatre department has performed "A Christmas Carol" twice before this production. Deanna Brookens, assistant professor in the department, directed this year's show.   Brookens, as a  first-time  director of "A Christmas Carol," said she wanted to do something different with the 2018 production by including children. Brookens said she loves working with community children and does creative drama programming in the area.   "I love watching everyone share their creativity and collaboration," Brookens said. "Seeing people of different ages, experience levels, and the mentorship that arises out of that is really special." Erik  Warmbein, a  sophomore history major and theatre minor, portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge in this year's production.  Warmbein  has performed in two previous productions before "A Christmas Carol" — the department's production of "Heathers: the Musical" in March 2018 and a student production of "This is Our Youth" two months later.  Warmbein  said that the preparation for this production was very different from  preparation he's done for other shows in a sense that he's never played an

evil or angry character onstage before. Warmbein said that it was different because there was a lot of channeling Scrooge's personality into his facial expressions.   "[The most difficult part] for me in this production is staying focused the whole time," Warmbein  said. "I'm there for every minute of it because the audience is always looking at me and there is not time for me to go offstage and recollect myself." Warmbein  said that although the preparation is tricky to play a mean character, it's also fun because he gets to go onstage and shake his cane angrily at anyone who looks at him wrong.  "It's kind of fun to play an  angry  character on stage, especially because that's not me in real life," Warmbein said.  Kristina  Streno, senior and theatre acting major, played the Ghost of Christmas Present in this year's production.  Streno  has been in the department for four years and was Mrs. Cratchit two years ago in a previous performance of "A Christmas Carol." Streno said that for her character preparation there were a lot of body movements that she had to learn to fit her character's posture and personality.   "I have a big hoop that I have to walk in and learning how to walk properly and not fall on my face [was the most difficult part]," Streno said.   Streno said that being onstage takes a lot of trusting each other,  making sure she  knows  her lines and trusting that the other cast members know theirs.   "I love going out on the stage. Opening night is my favorite night," Streno said. "Theatre is a really great thing and it's really sad that some people don't see it the same way that they used to."  To learn more about the theatre department, follow them on Instagram @srutheatre or on Twitter @sru_ theatre. 


Erik Warmbein, a sophomore history major, performs as Ebenezer Scrooge in the theatre department's production of "A Christmas Carol". This is Warmbein's third show with the department. His first show, "Heathers: The Musical," directed by associate professor of theatre David Skeele, featured him in the role of Beleaguered Geek. Warmbein was also cast in "This Is Our Youth," a student production. "It's kind of fun to play an angry  character on stage, especially because that's not me in real life," Warmbein  said of playing such a grumpy, negative character.



December 7, 2018

Red Ribbon Monologues SUMA event educates the community during National AIDS Awareness Month


Senior political science, philosophy, and gender and diversity studies major Maggie Calvert speaks during SUMA's annual Red Ribbon Monologues. The event, featuring a dance performance, a number of poems and speaker Bart Rauluk, was held in the Smith Student Center ballroom. Rauluk, of Pittsburgh, has lived HIV positive for 30 years.

By Hope Hoehler Asst. Campus Life Editor

The Student Union for Multicultural  Affairs (SUMA)  presented their Annual Red Ribbon Monologues Monday night in the ballroom. The monologues are held to educate the community of SRU for National AIDS Awareness Month.  The evening consisted of a dance, music, poems, and a guest speaker. The beginning of the event was kicked off with a dance performance called “D-man in the waters”. This performance was produced in 1989 and played homage to a member of the Arnie Zane Dance Company, Demian Acquavella who was affected by HIV/AIDS.   Throughout the evening there were also poems that were recited all centered around the theme of HIV/AIDS. Some of the chosen  poems  consisted of “Coffee Break”, written by Kwame Dawes, “Dandelions”, written by Mary Bowman, and many more.   The night ended with a guest speaker,

Bart Rauluk, a Pittsburgh native who is living with HIV.  Rauluk  currently works as controller and director of  clients  services for the PR firm Veritas Communications Advisors. Alongside his job, Rauluk spends a large amount of time volunteering with non-profit organizations and has served seven years as President, Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and is currently President of the Board of the AIDS Leadership  for Prevention and Health Awareness (ALPHA) Pittsburgh.   Rauluk was first diagnosed with HIV in 1988 and has lived HIV positive for up to 30 years since then. “I spent 20 years of my life trying to figure out what to do next,” Rauluk said.  Rauluk  said that he has had three dentists turn him away as a patient, after finding out that he was HIV positive.  “[To approach someone with HIV] have some respect, be clear about your position on AIDS/HIV, and be compassionate,” Rauluk said.  Josiah Cole, senior biology major with minors in

public health and chemistry is President of SUMA. As President, Cole helped pick the poems read at the events, greet people, contact professors, and much more. Last year, Cole was Vice President and told the history of HIV at the 2017 event.   Cole said that in the previous years, SUMA reached out to the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force to get in touch with a speaker for the event.   “[The story of living with HIV] is really important for people to hear because there is this thing where people think that 'this will never happen to me',” Cole said. “If you got the disease 30 years ago you were going to die. Today we have lots of treatment and we know so much more about [HIV/AIDS]  so there’s so many things we can do to support people that get HIV.”  “You have to become a friend with your disease,” Rauluk said. “HIV is a journey, expect to have struggles.”  To keep updated with SUMA and their events follow them on Instagram @srusuma and on Twitter @SRUSuma.   

Musical Theatre Society presents Comedy Cabaret



FROM LEFT: Senior digital media production major Chris Luffy, junior hospitality management major Jocelyn Gentile and senior professional writing and public relations dual major Patrick Freed perform "Candy Store" from "Heathers: The Musical" during Musical Theatre Society's Comedy Cabaret. The show took place Dec. 4 and 5 in the Advanced Technology and Science Hall auditorium.

FROM LEFT: Sophomore history education major Devin Underwood, junior communication major LeMont Smith, junior health and physical education major Mihailo Dragovich and freshman music education major Shaun Klein perform "What the Heck I Gotta Do" from "21 Chump Street" during Musical Theatre Society's Comedy Cabaret.

December 7, 2018



Student organizations celebrate Holidays Around the World


Kemoni Farmer, junior developmental psychology and president of NAACP, presents Hanukkah to SRU community members attending the Office of Inclusive Excellence's event Holidays Around the World. Each organization involved researched and presented a different holiday.


Preparation for Holidays Around the World, according to Booker, involved inviting student organizations to participate, figuring out which group would do which holiday, collaborating with AVI to provide food and just letting the organizations learn about their holidays. "We ask student organizations to take on a holiday that would be different than their own or not associated with the culture behind their organization, and they prepare trifolds," Booker said. "The OIE believes that the best way to get students involved is for students to see other students being

involved, so that's why we ask our student organizations and prominent leaders on campus to sort of help support us in this process." Booker said one of her favorite parts of this annual event is watching the student organizations choose and research their holidays; for example, the SRU chapter of NAACP, which is not typically viewed as a Jewish organization, chose Hanukkah and chooses Hanukkah every year. "It's exciting to see the students be excited about the holidays that they choose and watching them find new ways to express their holidays," Booker said. In addition to NAACP, other

organizations involved with this year's event were the Student Government Association (SGA), the Black Action Society, the Student Organization of Latinos/Hispanics and Allies, and the International Club. President of the SRU chapter of NAACP and junior developmental psychology major Kemoni Farmer, said the organization was interested in learning about and presenting Hanukkah because the executive board wanted to show solidarity with the Jewish community, especially this semester. The group also enjoyed learning about the holiday, and Farmer said the executive board even played dreidel together and will exchange gifts next week, in honor of the holiday. "Our organization, in general, is founded off of education and unifying groups, and I feel like this event as a whole just brings everyone together, especially cultures that we ourselves don't even celebrate," Farmer said of Holidays Around the World. "We're learning about cultures and we're able to teach others about them, and that's the best part about this event." SGA also had a good time learning about their holiday Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Julia Tremel, junior exercise science major and commuter senator for SGA said that, as a senate, SGA was most interested in Diwali. "I thought it was cool that, every year, [those who celebrate Diwali] buy new clothes specifically for the holiday, and it's kind of like how my Christmas tradition is getting new pajamas every Christmas Eve," Tremel said. "That kind of goes hand in hand."

While Holidays Around the World is about educating students about new cultures, it's also about having fun, so the American Sign Language Club was invited to perform for those attending. LeMont Smith, junior communication major and President of the ASL Club, said he's always excited to perform at events like this one not only for the exposure but also because it's fun. A group of ASL Club members signed "That's Christmas To Me" for the audience. "[Preparing for this event] was a lot of work but a lot of fun, because only half the people we had were already a part of the club and the other half weren't part of the club at all," Smith said. "You could really see how much people enjoyed it once they got the hang of it and once we started doing it, and it was just really fun and a really good time." Smith said the song choice is something of a tradition for the club because, ever since he joined his freshman year, the club has always signed "That's Christmas To Me" and once he was elected as President, he made the decision to continue the tradition. "It's really family-oriented, and it's really fun and it's a happy song," Smith said. "You can't really go wrong with it, I feel. It puts a smile on my face, and I figure it'll put a smile on others' faces." Booker also mentioned that AVI is always a big part of making this event come to life, especially this year because the OIE asked for food they don't traditionally ask for. "AVI was very supportive, very accommodating and just very helpful in bringing this event to life," Booker said.

SRU Music Therapy Club entertains, raises money during benefit concert



Junior music education major Austin Cornelius (left) and junior music therapy major Nikki Shields (right) perform a ukelele mashup of Train's "Hey, Soul Sister" and Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" during the Music Therapy Club's benefit concert Dec. 1.

Senior music therapy and music education dual major Chase Upchurch performs Frank Sinatra's "My Way" as part of a karaoke raffle during the Music Therapy Club's benefit concert.

By Jack Hopey Assistant Photo Editor

According to the American Music Therapy Association, "music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program." Essentially, music therapy is the use of music to improve health, especially mental health. Slippery Rock University's Music Therapy Club is an organization of students in the music therapy major who are taking advantage of as many opportunities to help people as possible. The club does this through community events like collaborative drum circles, keynote speakers about the therapeutic uses of rap and hip-hop, as well as various conferences where music therapy students from all over the country can collaborate and learn from each other. "The Music Therapy Club works together all year long helping out in the community and within Swope," said senior music therapy major Alex Brandt. "We also do a lot of fundraising to help send students to conferences."

Brandt is the senior chapter representative for the Music Therapy Club. The Fall 2018 Benefit Concert, which took place in Swope Music Hall on Saturday, Dec. 1, was a fundraiser for music therapy majors to attend the MidAtlantic Region American Music Therapy Association Conference in Reston, Virginia. "The Mid-Atlantic Conference, which is always held in the spring, is when and where all the music therapists, all the schools in the mid-Atlantic region get together," Brandt said. "At the conference, [the American Music Therapy Association] provides continuing education for people who already have their degrees, and there's a lot of research that's presented. It's just a great opportunity for students to go and meet new people, network and really put themselves out there." The concert opened at 7:30 p.m. with a flute quartet arrangement of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and featured performances of Ricky Nelson's "Hello, Mary Lou" by the Impromptu Barbershop Quartet, a mashup of Train's "Hey, Soul Sister" and Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours," and a saxophone-flute rendition of Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years."

Among the many music majors who performed during the benefit concert, a number of non-music majors also put acts together including the SRU Winter Guard and Illusions Dance team. The evening concluded with a karaoke raffle; earlier in the night, audience members and performers were encouraged to submit names to be pulled to perform one last song for karaoke. Chase Upchurch, a senior music therapy and music education dual major, had his name pulled, so he performed Frank Sinatra's "My Way" to the delight of the flashlightwaving crowd. Brandt said the preparation for the concert was a great way for music therapy majors to get together and have fun. "Our vice president [Rachael Kovaly] put together the program and we held auditions for the acts, just to make sure that it's clean and it's appropriate," Brandt laughed. "We sell baked goods and our t-shirts that we make at the beginning of the year, everyone just comes together, we decorate and have a good time." At the end of the night, the Music Therapy Club raised over $980 for the conference.


December 7, 2018

12/7/2018 Digital Edition  

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12/7/2018 Digital Edition  

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