Page 1

April 11, 2019



Special Edition

Samford bound

Kuhns ends her VSU run

Page 2

The Spectator |

April 11, 2019

NEWS Our point of view...

Make commencment memorable One of the ways this day is made special is by the commencement speech given to graduates. Universities schedule speakers that can deliver words to their outgoing graduates that will congratulate them, commemorate the day and inspire them to pursue the loftiest of goals. Be they intellectual leaders, successful businesspersons or noteworthy alumni, many universities strive to bring in the brightest of minds to speak to their departing class of students. We at the Spectator have often wished – and hoped – that VSU would secure someone we could be proud of for our graduation. It would mean a lot to the student body, and it would reflect well on a university’s administration that works hard to prove its care for its students and alumni. There are many options VSU could pursue, but this year offers a special opportunity: A diaspora of political candidates are already stumping for 2020. Cory Booker, Kristen Gillibrand and others have already stepped up to give commencement speeches for universities in different parts of the country. VSU could reach out to someone of their ilk for a chance at a truly memorable commencement speech. And if they wanted to secure someone with a connection to VSU, we’re sure Stacey Abrams is available. After all, she made it clear that VSU was an important place for her gubernatorial campaign. Someone like this would serve all the purposes of a great commencement speaker, and would bring plenty of prestige to VSU. The speaker doesn’t have to be a politician. There is a wealth of options for our university to pursue. But whoever is chosen ultimately reflects the prestige of the university and the esteem it holds for its alumni. We at the Spectator hope they’ll choose wisely.

This editorial was written by a member of the editorial staff and expresses the general opinion of The Spectator.

Preview: VSU presents student-led film festival Bryce Ethridge

Content Editor VSU will soon welcome another film festival onto its campus, putting the festival’s students at the helm once again. But this festival is a bit different than others. This time, there’s a theme: representing women on the silver screen. Born from the strategic planning class, or MKTG4900, a class with more than 20 students, Shades of Representation is designed to engage students in “experimental learning,” according to Dr. Aubrey Fowler, the class’ professor. “I decided that I wanted my students to do a collaborative project that drew upon all their coursework up to that point,” he said. With that in mind, Fowler gave the project “real-world ramifications” which, in his own words, allows the students to “fuck up with a safety net.” Thus, the film festival was made. It will show four movies, including “Erin Brockovich,” “The Help,” “Wonder Woman” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” on April 12 and 13. “Erin Brockovich” and “The Help” will play Friday, while “Wonder Woman” and “Zero Dark Thirty” will play Saturday. While the decision to showcase women was a no-brainer for the class, Fowler said he came up with the topic after observing his daughter’s reaction to “Wonder Woman” and, furthermore, the

growing diversity in media. “As I examine movies for their generational import, I have been thinking a lot about representation and how it has changed through the decades,” he said. “It grew even more important after watching a little boy’s reaction to ‘Black Panther’ last year and how excited he was to see black men and women be heroes in a way that I’ve never seen before and I’m certain he never had either. For those kids and so many more, representation matters. It matters for adults as well.” The film festival values may be dipped in education, but its supervisors want it to be fun too. Daniel Bataille, a senior and one of the students heading the festival, said that’s pretty much the class’ goal. “They are movies that most people have already seen, but we’re trying to make it a fun thing for students,” he said. “We’re going to have concessions and food available [too].” But while the festival seems ready to move forward, there’s still one big issue: funding. That’s why the class is looking for sponsors. Currently, the project is in need of a cotton candy machine, a popcorn machine, snacks, candy, drinks and tickets, as well as funding to secure the rights to the movies. The proceeds generated will be donated to The Haven of Valdosta. It will begin at 5:15 p.m. and end at 11 p.m. on April 12 and 13.

Game On: Dungeons and Dragons tutorial to be held in Odum Library Patrick Barry

Staff Writer


lazers and Beholders Deep in the heart of the Odum Library, a band of adventurers assembles. They come from different backgrounds, different worlds and different civilizations, but all heed the call of the same email. “Bring open minds and endless imagination!” it says. “That’s a tall order,” I thought. Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D, is a tabletop role-playing game designed by Gary Gygax (tabletop players are an alliterative bunch) and Dave Arneson. Originated in 1974, the game has since enjoyed an almost obscene number of spinoff franchises, specialized guidebooks and countless new editions. These all provide a significantly more in-depth experience, while also making it more difficult for new players to get acquainted with the game. Luckily, the email also stated that no experience was necessary to come and join in on “D&D 1101: Character Creation,” hosted by Odum Library Tabletop, a librarian group developing tabletop games at VSU. Danielle Costello, a library technical assistant and long-time tabletop gamer, got the idea for the seminar after Odum Library received “Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook,” “Dungeon Master’s Guide” and “Starter Kit” into its collection. “We are all very aware that D&D can be an intimidating game and that the books might be difficult to navigate for new players,” Costello said. “So, we developed the 1100 series to introduce students to these resources and make them more accessible.” Of the eight people who attended D&D 1101, half of them were a close group of friends who had been playing together for a year. So, I had a lot of experience at my disposal, which was great for someone like me, who fit squarely into the “little to no experience category.” But D&D 1101 is only a third of the D&D events planned for this month. “D&D 1102: Mechanics and Roleplay,” which will examine some of the deeper aspects of the game to make characters come alive, will take place in Room 1604 on April 16, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. All this studying culminates on April 27 with Table Top Day, where players can finally put the characters they have been forging to the test by playing “The Lost Mine of Phandelver,” a D&D campaign. The general mechanics of D&D are that the players create their characters and adventure. They don’t mindlessly wander, however. The dungeon master, or DM, is another player who essentially plans out the party’s entire mission and handles player’s interac-

Photo courtesy of Wizards of the Coast The Dungeons & Dragons tutorial is coming to Valdosta on April 27.

tions with characters they might encounter on their journeys. Kyle Cook, a freshman, and member of the group, has been a dungeon master and revealed what drew him to the role. “I enjoy the feeling of creation and giving my friends something to enjoy,” Cook said. “That is where the joy in D&D comes from, for me. Giving something for people to experience.” The game undeniably brings people together. To my right is my character creation lifeline and fellow reporter, Payton Fletcher. I consulted his “Player’s Handbook” more times than I could count, sifting through the fantastical lineup of vivid characters. I stared at the blank character creation sheet. It looked like the control panel to a nuclear missile. Everyone else around me flashed experienced hands across the paper, filling out boxes and character stats I had thought were a printing error, or hadn’t even noticed. I clutched my gold dice in my hand, their Arabic numerals the only familiarity in this unknown fantasy world. I’d like to say it got easier. It didn’t. Maybe it was just that I got used to it, the sheer vastness of it all. What intimidated me wasn’t so much the mechanics of the game, but the open-endedness of it. The amount of times I heard that it was “up to me” was frightening. I had never been given this much free reign over a hypothetical person’s life before. Some characters are, admittedly, stripped from the works of J.R.R. Tolkein, but they have at least had the common decency (or legal wherewithal) to modify some of the less ubiquitous names (hobbit = halfling, ent = treant, balrog = balor). In truth, the majority of D&D is drawn from various contemporary fantasy and pulp-fiction sources. Even the work of Lewis Carroll and H.P. Lovecraft make an appearance. This doesn’t take anything away from the game. If anything, it makes it better. It draws on hundreds of years of fiction and myth-building and brings it all right to the players fingertips like one great big nerve-ending. The player is literally at the command of some of the most formidable mythological forces of all time. At first, I settled on a mute bird person as my character.

He came from the streets and could only speak in mimicry. He made a living impersonating tourists, and maybe did a little fraud on the side. Who knows? He wasn’t very strong, but he had a way with words. Or at least until I realized that I shouldn’t waste points for charisma, which determine your character’s use of speech, on a character who could only, due to an ancient curse, repeat what other people said. So, after much thought, I switched my race to an anthropomorphic cat. He’s a wanderer and loves shiny objects. The depiction of the race in the book showed a tall, slender, spotted yellow cat grasping dramatically onto a tree branch and surveying a distant land from afar. The breadth and depth of fanmade art is absolutely astounding. D&D has spawned everything from print art to weapon replicas to novels, sometimes based on player’s own experiences. That was when I realized that what I was doing had nothing to do with fancy swords and bags of gold and everything to do with storytelling. I was building a narrative and creating a character arc while establishing motivation, origin story and how those factors would affect the characters’ reactions with other characters and events throughout the (hypothetical) campaign. And it was fun! This insight is not lost on any avid D&D players. Many enjoy benefits from the game’s engaging style. “It’s an engaging form of communal storytelling combining adventure, imagination and problem solving that we think folks would really enjoy,” Costello said. This level of in-depth character creation leads to interesting interactions between characters and players. “You can tell stories, you can have fun, you can just mess with each other, even,” said Kade Hubner, a freshman who, along with Cook, has formed many strong relationships through the game. “It’s such a unique, amazing game.” D&D is less of a game and more of a loose set of guidelines. It’s essentially a commercial reason to set your mind completely free. Well, maybe not completely. It’s like a blank canvas with a border, but even that border is only a suggestion.

April 11, 2019

The Spectator |


Page 3

Solange Knowles’ Newest Album Welcomes You Home Jacorey Moon

Special Projects Editor Solange Knowles is known for creating music that not only speaks to your soul and mind but your emotions. Her latest debut, “When I Get Home,” continued to follow the path of its predecessor. “When I Get Home” is an album that gives the audience the same feeling of getting home after a long day: relaxed, soothed, comfortable and vulnerable. Now that this album has been out for a decent amount of time and I’ve been able to sit with the material, I feel that I can give the album the proper review it deserves. Without further ado, here’s my analysis of my favorite tracks from “When I Get Home.”

“It is the perfect opener for the album because the lyrics are so simple, yet they catch the listener and entice the listener to listen,” “I saw things… I imagined. I saw things, I imagined. I SAW. THINGS. I IMAGINED” were the first words that pierced through the stratosphere on this album. The first track, “Things I Imagined,” is a testament to just that: she saw things she imagined. “Down With the Clique” is one of my favorite tracks because it exemplifies Solange’s ability to be able to merge several genres across one medium—a song—and have the genres blend effortlessly. It’s a jazz track that packs a punch. I love the lyrics and the passion of the song. She sings the lyrics with an airy yet full tone

Photo Courtesy of Solange Knowles’ Instagram Solange Knowles posing for the cover of her newest album, “When I Get Home”.

that provides the perfect balance of ethereal vocals and grounded grooves. “Caaalllll meeee, when you’re on your way to the shoooow. Way to the shoooow, candy paint down to the flooooo.” Those are some of the lyrics to one of my favorite tracks from the album, entitled, “Way to the Show.” This song exhibits the coolness and funkiness of the Houston music scene. But the song is presented as a jazz song. The visual for the song is one of my favorites as well because she brought to life the Houston flavor of the song by incorporating black cowboys, saddles and rodeos. It was impeccably done, and it really showcases Solange’s ability as an artist. The track, “Almeida,” is based on a street in Texas that Solange frequented during her Houstonbased childhood. This song is a jettison approach of rap and R&B. Solange featured Playboy Carti, one of the new age rappers of the time, on this track, and he plays a part in helping Solange relay her message for the album: being black and how important it is to stand in it. The visual for this song is spectacular. It featured DeLoreans, auntie hairdos, lots of leather and glitz and glimmer. This visual follows the status quo of what people expect for music visuals to be from Houston-bred artists. In fact, she raised the bar. “My Skin My Logo” features Gucci Mane, a rap icon, and he adds a little Atlanta twang to her

Houston rodeo. Solange brings this abstract and otherworldly sounding R&B to fruition. “Binz” is where Solange makes a means to “freestyle” on a beat that is as contagious as it is soothing. Solange speaks of many things on the track and how she flosses her Houston lifestyle. It is a short track but one of the most honest and carefree on

“I think that Solange has stepped into a new real as it pertains to her craft.” the album. Amongst the masses, some of her fans LOVED the album while others were not impressed. Either way, Solange provided the masses with an album that can stand the test of time. Her visuals were great as always, and I think that this time, she raised the bar on what should be expected from her next album release. She is in an era where she’s making music that portrays and emphasizes how she feels. And that is what art should be: expressing how you feel, not what’ll make you sell.

Photo Courtesy of Solange Knowles’ Instagram Solange displays her talents for creating visuals with this teaser shot, showcasing her ability to push the envelope .

Beyonce & Netflix, Nipsey Hussle, and more... Jacorey Moon

Special Projects Editor Hello to all my pop addicts of VSU. It has been a while since I’ve seen you last. HOW Y’ALL DOING? I’ve got a nice cup of peppermint tea brewing, so let’s get into it. Beyoncé Giselle KnowlesCarter. The Queen. The Doll. The Diva. The One and Only. That Girl. She has announced that she is partnering with Netlfix to release a behind-the-scenes documentary of her LEGENDARY BeyChella (Coachella) performance. Yes, the one that broke the Internet for a good four days is getting a behind-thescenes look into how she created the concept, performance, visuals, etc. As for me, I am an AVID Beyoncé fan, and when I found out about this, I was sent into a FRENZY. Beyoncé doesn’t give the BeyHive, her fanbase name, anything regarding how things are created anymore. She pretty much just drops and releases things as she sees fit. This is a throwback to her eras before 2013. So, I’m excited, the Hive is excited and celebrities are excited. WE’RE READY. The title of the documentary is “Homecoming” and will be available to stream on April 17 at 3 a.m. EST on Netlifx. SIMPLY LEGENDARY. Speaking of Coachella and Beyoncé, her sister Solange apparently dropped out of the lineup this year due to “major production delays.” She said that she plans on making it up to Coachella and its fans next year. This was a shock to me, but honestly, if artists say that they’re not ready, then it’s best for them to be able to take the time and prepare the show to their standards. Looking forward to it, Solange. With the passing of Nipsey Hustle, a rapper turned activist, being as sudden and gutwrenching as it was, it is not a shock that the black community is in shambles. Now, with that being said, I am appalled at how little decorum, well, lack thereof, the black community has for this man’s family. He was murdered in cold blood, and the same people that he set out to help are the same ones acting reprehensible in his passing. While making his funeral plans, his family has been more than lenient with opening up his funeral to the

Photo Courtesy of Nipsey Hussle’s Instagram Rapper turned activist, Nipsey Hussle died at age 33.

public and distributing tickets. In turn, people are taking the tickets and selling them on resale sites, like StubHub and Seat Geek, for a profit. “Tasteless,” “tactless,” “TACKY,” “uncouth,” “disgusting” and “just ugly” are some of the things that I can think of to describe this heinous action. Like, why on Earth would you do that? Did your mother not raise you right? Apparently not. I want to apologize for this situation and say I’m sorry that people are taking advantage of your generosity. May he rest in peace. Kim Kardashian is on the cover of Vogue for May. *SHOCKER* (Asterisks are for dramatic sarcastic effect.) I’m tired of seeing the same people on magazine covers, but that’s a topic for another day. Anyway, in the issue, she speaks on several things, allegedly, like her social stance, being a mother and, surprisingly, her pursuit to being a lawyer… interesting. I’ll let that speak for itself. Céline Dion just announced that she’s going on tour. WE STAN A LEGEND IN THIS HOUSE. Go see the Canadian Queen while you can. Another word: Can we please restrict or limit people on sites like StubHub and Seat Geek? There is no reason why I should have to pay 3x the face value of a ticket, just because you beat everybody in the Ticketmaster line and bought seven of them and are trying to make a profit. That’s real lackluster behavior. I can’t stand it. I really can’t see some of my favorite artists sometimes because a ticket that originally cost $180 will be published on resale sites at prices like $490 or $620. Like, that should be illegal. Whatever. That’s all the tea that I have for this week. Remember to check back next week to get your teacup filled with more piping hot tea!

Page 4

The Spectator |

April 11, 2019

SPORTS Column: Blazers’ head coach gaining offers Prince Robinson Jr.

Sports Editor Bent down, usually at the end of the Blazers’ bench, is an observant. Observing the screens, cuts and movements of his team, Head Coach Mike Helfer is a student of the game. For 14 years, Helfer has coached the Blazers, averaging 20 wins a season. Since 2017, the Blazers have made an appearance in the NCAA tournament.

In the Gulf South Conference, Helfer is the leading head coach, depeding on who you ask. Year in and year out, Helfer and the Blazers are top-5 in the conference. In year 15, Helfer has to put the Blazers over the top. It may be his hardest year, yet. Losing seven players to graduation has depleted the roster. The likes of sharpshooters Beau Justice and Winston Morgan will be hard to replace in recruiting. Greg Zuppas, Keshawn Ingram, Desmond Deramus and others will not take the court either under

Helfer. That leaves Clay Guillozet and Bryce Smith as the 1-2 punch next season, assuming Helfer and staff fail acquire other marquee talent. Each night, the Blazers were easily the best shooting team on the floor. That could be all over. For two straight seasons, the Blazers ranked No. 1 in points per game, over 90 a game. Soon, another team could have that luxury. According to Andrew Doughty, writer for Hero Sports, Helfer is a strong target for the head coach-

ing gig at Mercer University. Mercer fired head coach Bob Hoffman on March 11. Kennesaw State is another school looking for a head coach, firing Al Skinner after three seasons. There has been no details on whether Helfer has engaged in the talks, but his winning ways will always garner attention. At VSU, Helfer holds a 251131 record. He has twelve winning seasons on his resume with the Blazers and has continued to put the Blazers in the national

spotlight. Kerwin Bell (University of South Florida) and Carley Kuhns (Samford) are two notable names that have recently left VSU. Bell left after leaving the Blazers football team to the 2018 national championship win. Kuhns led the Lady Blazers to a 19-10 record before losing in the GSC title game against Lee. Helfer is revered in the basketball world, so his services will be vital somewhere.

Coach Kuhns takes her leave, VSU begins its search Prince Robinson Jr.

Sports Editor VSU Athletic Director Herb Reinhard announced on April 10, Kuhns will not return as the VSU Lady Blazers basketball head coach. Kuhns has accepted the head coaching position at Samford University. The Lady Bulldogs had a 10-20 last season, ranking No. 7 in the conference. Former Head Coach Mike Morris retired after 17 seasons. Kuhns leaves VSU with a 66-29 overall record and 44-18 in Gulf South Conference play in three seasons. In 2017, the Lady Blazers won 22 games, marking the first 20plus win season since 2011. Kuhns leaves behind assitant coach Chandler Merkerson and graduate assistant Jayda Worthy. According to VSU Athletics, a national search for a new head coach will go into effect immediately.

Photo Courtesy of VSU Athletics During the 2019 NFL offseason, many players’ stock can either rise or fall. Stephen Denmark, former cornerback for the VSU Blazers, has, reportedly, shined in a few private workouts.

ON NOTICE Former Blazer rising on NFL Draft boards Prince Robinson Jr.

Sports Editor

Photo Courtesy of VSU Athletics Kuhns was inducted into the Blazer Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015, for her efforts as a Lady Blazers’ student athlete. She recorded 1,133 career points under Kiley Hill.

It has been six years since the VSU namesake was called at the NFL Draft, thanks to Edmund Kugbila. Kugbila, former offensive guard for the Blazers, is the highestdrafted player to ever play for VSU. The Carolina Panthers took a chance on the Ghana native in the fourth round. This offseason, Stephen Denmark has made a lot of noise in his workouts. According to Aaron Wilson, writer for the Houston Chronicle, Denmark has had private visits with the Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints last week.

Wilson also reported that Denmark has a scheduled visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers. A date for the visit has not been announced. Denmark finished the 2018 season with 55 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, a forced fumble, three interceptions and nine pass deflections. Dane Brugler, NFL Draft Analyst for The Athletic, says that the Florida native quickly “developed a defensive mentality, displaying the outstanding speed and aggressive nature that drew the attention of NFL scouts.” In today’s NFL, Denmark has the intangibles and measurables of an NFL cornerback. At six foot one inches and 21lbs, Denmark has supreme size at the position.

At his pro day, Denmark ran a 4.46 40-yard dash, a 44-inch vertical jump and 19 bench-press reps of 225 lbs. How good it that? Well, he ran faster than Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White, jumped higher that Dallas Cowboys’ Byron Jones and benched better than Jamal Adams of the New York Jets. These are elite players in the NFL and Denmark stacks up. Will his game stack up in the NFL? Only time will tell, but he makes a strong case for a team to draft him. The three teams that are, reportedly, high on him are in dire need of cornerback depth. In 2018, the Saints allowed a 100.3 opponent passer rating last

season, which ranked No. 27 in the NFL. Through the air, the Saints had struggles to stop opposing quarterbacks. The Browns batted with inconsistency at the position last season. Injuries plagued the Browns, but Denzel Ward, TJ Carrie, Phillip Gaines and others are set to be on the roster in 2019. The Steelers have Artie Burns, an aging Joe Haden and few rotational pieces in their cornerback group. For years, the Steel City has been looking to solidify the position. Denmark is pegged as a pick between the fourth and seventh rounds in the 2019 NFL draft. The NFL draft will take place in Nashville, Tennessee on April 25-27.

Profile for The Spectator

The Spectator - 4/11/2019  

The Spectator - 4/11/2019