heroin RISING FROM THE DARKNESS
asexuality PRESERVING IDENTITY
body positivity LIVING COMFORTABLY IN YOUR SKIN
tech-sober 30 DAYS WITHOUT TECHNOLOGY
COVER: JACQUELINE STOFSICK PHOTO BY ERIN MCLAUGHLIN
on the cover
n 1986, The Chestnut Burr evolved from a yearbook to The Burr Magazine. Now in 2016, weâ€™re looking back on the last 30 years of life at Kent State.
contents the current
choosing love 08 your body is a weapon 10 the cost of a couple pounds 11
PHOTO BY ERIN MCLAUGHLIN
the feed tech-sober 14
from the editor
ent State was the only university I applied to.
I toured campus on a rainy October day in 2011 and was lucky enough to visit Franklin Hall, where I was introduced to the various media outlets. The one moment I remember vividly is standing outside The Burr’s office with professor Mark Goodman, who was one of the tour leaders. While the other potential students and families walked into the glassencased newsroom, I stood for a moment longer, whispering to my mom, “I’m going to be the editor of that magazine.” Now, in my final semester at Kent State, I can say I did it. I’ve watched The Burr grow for the past seven semesters— the last two in my role as editor-in-chief. I’ve had the opportunity to work with outstanding and talented people who, without them, none of this would have been possible. In the last year, The Burr completely rebranded with a new logo, website and mission. The magazine is focused with powerful, journalistic stories and theburr. com is updated frequently with podcasts, videos and blogs. It has been an honor to set the groundwork for the new Burr with a staff that has become my second family.
The Burr Magazine
With that said, I’m happy and excited to introduce The “Burrthday” issue, commemorating our 30th anniversary as a magazine. In “Creating Hope,” senior editor Samantha Ickes introduces Sabrina Scott, who overcame personal darkness following the death of her stepfather on page 34. Web Producer Blythe Alspaugh writes of her personal experiences understanding and explaining her asexuality on page 40. Writer Jailyn Menefee and I show both sides to body shaming in “Your Body is a Weapon” and “The Cost of a Couple Pounds” on page 10. The Features wraps up with the “Burrthday” package, in which assistant art director Jacqueline Stofsick and managing editor Neville Hardman honor the first magazine published in 1986 by taking President Beverly Warren through the life of a Kent State student on page 48. Happy birthday to The Burr Magazine. It’s been fun.
Marissa Barnhart Editor-in-Chief
kent after dark 18
cosplay 23 two faces of parkour 26 reach, rescue, redeem 30
creating hope 34 can’t fix what isn’t broken 40
#happyburrthday burr watches kent evolve 44 bev warren’s day off 48 kent whispers 54
equalizer 62 last shot 63 Spring 2016
The Burr Magazine is Kent State’s first student-produced magazine made for Kent State University, the city of Kent, Ohio, and any other person looking for strong, journalistic storytelling. The Burr strives to provide its readers with interesting, humorous and hard-hitting stories that tap into current events, trends and the lives of those who have made a home in Kent.
Marissa Barnhart EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Neville Hardman MANAGING EDITOR
Jacqueline Stofsick Samantha Ickes ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR
Erin McLaughlin PHOTO EDITOR
video & audio
COPY DESK CHIEF
VIDEO & AUDIO EDITOR
ADRIAN LEUTHAUSER JAILYN MENEFEE KELLY POWELL JACOB RUNNELS
ANN SCHIERHORN adviser
KEVIN DILLEY director of student media
SAMANTHA KARAM AMANI WILLIAMS
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KATIE BARNES EVANS media specialist NORMA YOUNG business manager TAMI BONGIORNI advertising manager
Published with support of Kent State and the Kent Community. Also published with support from Generation Progress/Center for American Progress (online at genprogress.org). No part of The Burr Magazine may be reprinted or published without permission. © 2016 The Burr Magazine. 330-672-2572 firstname.lastname@example.org
THE CURRENT KYONGMIN HWANG AND HER BOYFRIEND BRENT FLORES GLANCE AT EACH WHILE HOLDING HANDS NEAR EASTWAY. HWANG IS FROM SOUTH KOREA AND FLORES IS FROM PUERTO RICO.
this time where you’re figuring out for yourself what is acceptable.” South Korea follows strict dating rules, Hwang says. Most Korean parents don’t want their kids to date before age 20. They also follow a conservative style of dating and aren’t as direct. For example, kissing, touching, hugging or expressing how they feel in public is taboo because it lacks privacy. Couples are expected to confess love, talk, then establish their relationship. In Puerto Rico, the first step in dating is to express feelings, then become her jevo, which is a term to describe the talking phase. After that, it’s time to become an official couple. Puerto Ricans are known for their romanticism, Flores says. Despite that reputation, this is his first relationship. Latino culture is considered very sensual, and men always attempt to make their significant others feel like a queen. “We know that we can take a girl on the beach, for example, and make her feel like it’s a date that you’ve only seen in movies,” Flores says. Their difference in culture occasionally leads to difficulties within the relationship, Hwang says. Poor communication mainly affects them. Being from different countries, there is often a language barrier, and words sometimes get misconstrued.
Flores realizes this language barrier and tries not to get upset when words don’t come out like they’re intended to, he says. They always find a quiet place to sit down and have conversations about how they feel.
Two Kent State students reveal the limits of dating international partners. WORDS BY CHRISTIANA FORD PHOTOS BY AMANI WILLIAMS
t started with a late night in the library. A project’s morning deadline fast approaching didn’t deter him from visiting his friends on the next floor. “It can wait,” he mumbled to himself, climbing the stairs. He went around the group, greeting each of his friends until he came across an unfamiliar face. He overheard her talking, and the first thing he said was, “How do you speak English so well?” Their mutual friends led the pair to spend more time together as the semester progresses, and day by day, the two become close. “She was always there,” Brent Flores, a sophomore visual communication design major from Puerto Rico, says. “Everything we did, she was there, and and we became really, really good friends with each day.”
“There was tons of beautiful girls in the campus. Why would he even look at me?” Hwang says. “I never even imagined that I would have any chance to go out with him or talk to him.”
“I don’t know how to tell you this, but I kind of like you,” Flores says. The Burr Magazine
At that moment, he thought it was a no. Later in the day, the pair walks down the steps to print out Flores’ project. Walking side-by-side, Flores pays attention to how close their hands are. When they return to campus, they go into the library, and she finally tells him she feels the same way. Hwang is a freshman business management major from South Korea. Despite how Hwang reacted, she began to like Flores before he even said anything. He was one of the Mr. Flashes on campus and reveled in popularity.
On Dec. 13, the last day of finals’ week, Flores sat in the Eastway lounge with all of his friends. Kyongmin Hwang sat near him, and he worked up the courage to tell her how he feels.
“Can I tell you later?” she responds.
Intercultural relationships are becoming more prevalent, especially in college, says Elizabeth Baker, a psychology graduate appointee. “College is a time where, for the first time in a lot of people’s lives, they’re moving away from home, so they’re having new autonomy in their lives,” Baker says. “It’s
“Out of all the happy moments we have, I try not not be mad about one thing,” Flores says. “I can’t see myself yell at her. I feel like we handle situations in a very mature way.” Success in intercultural relationships all comes down to communication, Baker says. The difficulty with that is relationship communication is not something that is formally taught.
“When I first came here, I was very scared,” Flores says. “No family, no nothing. I had no one here. Reality hits you, and it’s like you’re going to be like this for the rest of your life.” Hwang’s views on relationships and intimacy have changed, she says. Instead of being so closed off, as expected in South Korea, she now shows more affection in public. In her country, for example, people stare at couples who kiss in public, but Hwang feels more comfortable kissing Flores in public in America, as long as it’s not too much. She and Flores are also more intimate in private. Hwang had never even met a Latino before coming to the United States, she says. Now, many of her friends are Latino, and she even picked up some of the language. The couple plans to stay together as long as possible and to stay in the U.S. to begin their careers. Even though it’s Flores’ first relationship, he hopes it will be his last. “I know it’s really early, but I just feel like how I feel everyday, of how much I love her,” Flores says. “I don’t think I could love someone or find someone else that would ever satisfy my love as much as she has.” They complement each other, which is why their relationship works so well, Flores says. For instance, Hwang is smart, andFlores is a good communicator. “She’s going to make me into the man I want to be. How we mold each other, even though we come from different cultures,” Flores says. “I have my strengths, and she has hers.” Hwang wants Flores to be the last person she calls her boyfriend. Having dated two other guys before, she doesn’t want to waste time or energy. “Throughout all of my life, a lot my boyfriends thought I loved them, but as it turns out, I didn’t,” Hwang says. “I never knew what love meant until I met him. Everything I do, everything I feel, I think about him. I just want to make him happy and comfortable.”
BEING IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY CONTRIBUTES TO THEIR ATTITUDES BECAUSE THEY REALIZE THAT RIGHT NOW, ALL THEY HAVE IS EACH OTHER. “Unfortunately, if you think about people who watch Disney princess movies growing up, we assume that love is always easy, and our partners should always know what we’re thinking and feeling,” Baker says. Flores says the easiest thing about their relationship is just loving her. Hwang says it’s feeling comfortable around him. Being in a foreign country contributes to their attitudes because they realize that right now, all they have is each other.
Love, to each of them, means different things, but they can both come to the consensus that being together makes them happy. To Hwang, love means putting someone before yourself. To Flores, love is happiness, and Hwang is that happiness. “When you have true love, it’s a feeling you can’t describe to anyone,” Flores says. “Obviously, by family, you love by blood. But when you love someone else, you love by choice. You can’t just love anyone like this.” Spring 2016
your body is a weapon Editor-in-chief Marissa Barnhart recounts her experiences with fat-shaming while promoting self-love. WORDS BY MARISSA BARNHART Seven I remember the first time I was called to the office. Returning to my desk, I found a pink slip scripted with my name and heard my first-grade teacher saying I should head to the guidance counselor’s office. A large portion of my childhood persona was comprised of quiet reservation. A reader and writer by nature, I often lost myself in daydream-filled notebooks. I enjoyed school and my friends, and I reveled in personal time, preferring to do things on my own terms but never causing trouble. Any reason that would cause me to see the guidance counselor was baffling. Her name is a lost memory, but I remember her dark, curly hair and the sickeningly sweet quirk of her lips as she smiled and had me take a seat. She questioned me about my family and home life, asking me to draw a picture of where I lived. She mentioned something about wanting to be a cheerleader at my age, perhaps to inspire me, and left me with a piece of “advice:” Lose weight or you’ll never have any friends.
I’ve spent more than half my life feeling like I don’t belong in my skin, battling weight fluctuations that were hard to control. A thyroid condition since infancy coupled with pre-pubescent awkwardness left me looking like Violet Beauregarde from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” except there were no Oompa Loompas for comedic effect. I was the grade-A entertainment my peers were
Sixteen Fat-shaming is the act of making a person feel bad because of their body size. Some people, like the counselor who shamed me, think it creates a reverse-psychology effect that will inspire others to lose weight. But a November 2015 article from Authority Nutrition says otherwise: “Fat shaming does not motivate people, but makes them feel terrible about themselves and actually causes them to eat more and gain more weight.” Our society has a misconception that all fat people are unhealthy. Obesity is a growing problem in America, with 78 million adults dealing with the effects. But in a 2014 study by the European Heart Journal, overweight and obese people were found to be at no greater risk of developing cancer or heart disease than someone who meets the standard body weight. What mattered was if the person was metabolically healthy. So why are people so concerned with other people’s bodies? Perhaps they’re afraid of being fat. Or maybe it’s because fat isn’t the social norm. What I’ve learned from my experiences is no one should have a say about someone else’s body, positive or negative. When I was 16, a boy bullied me via text messaging. Even when I stopped responding, the messages kept coming. “If you’re a vegetarian, why are you so fat?” “I mean, how long have you been sucking his dick btw? Just wanted to know why he’s into a nasty like you...” Fast-forward two weeks and I had dropped 20 pounds. (continued on page 12)
Jailyn Menefee discovers if changing herself completely is worth meeting society’s beauty standards. WORDS BY JAILYN MENEFEE Puberty “Do you eat?” This was the norm. Constant reminders of my small stature, concerned looks and seemingly harmless jabs at how I needed to “put meat on my bones” were regularities in my life. As I got older, people’s opinions of me determined how I saw myself. The more people made remarks, the more I let them drill holes into my head. Middle school was when everything changed. A time when kids’ awkward, pubescent bodies were impressionable and desperately seeking approval from peers; it was a rite of passage for many kids. Girls blossomed into their teenage bodies, and boys were cured of cooties. Needing to be socially accepted was at an all-time high, but I was quiet and nervous. I just wanted to go through those three years undetected. I was a late developer and was constantly reminded of it while watching other girls develop breasts overnight. I was patiently waiting for my body to catch up to all the other girls in my grade, but it never did—my chest remained flat. According to NYC.gov, by middle school, 40 to 70 percent of girls are dissatisfied with two or more parts of their body, and body satisfaction hits rock bottom between the ages of 12 and 15. Much of that dissatisfaction comes from comments that made me believe I needed to have certain assets to attract the attention of the boys in my grade. I remember how the boy I liked at the time smirked at me like he was a predator sizing up his prey. His eyes gleamed of lasciviousness that was incredibly hard to ignore. “You’re pretty, but you don’t have anything to look at,” he said. My stomach dropped to my feet, and I had a lump in my throat the size of an orange.
To be picked apart by a guy who only used his eyes was my first taste of the sex drive of a teenage boy. His words stuck with me and only furthered my body insecurities. It wasn’t just my cup size being discussed; my butt size was also the topic of many conversations at the boys’ lunch tables. I was skin and bones, and I loathed it. I remember praying to God to get my period with hopes that my breasts would start to grow. I would have done anything to change how small I looked, exhausting every option I could find on the Internet. I stuffed my bra, wore two bras at once and even washed my jeans three times to make them smaller, so my butt would look bigger. But until high school, all attempts failed me. Binge The next phase in my race to gain weight started when I was in high school. I woke up early one morning, making sure my mom and siblings were fast asleep, and went to the kitchen to make myself breakfast. I took a loaf of bread out of the refrigerator, pulled out six slices and toasted them. I arranged them on a large dinner plate and slathered butter over the steamy, browned surface, forcing myself to eat all six. I felt sick because of the carb-overload, but it felt better than being teased. This was the first time I explored binge eating. Typically part of an eating disorder, binge eating is the act of eating large quantities of food in a short amount of time to the point of stomach pain. I wasn’t hungry after that first slice of toast, but I continued to eat. By the time I finished stuffing the last slice into my mouth, I hated what I had become. Binge eating was an option I tried to avoid at all cost. Having read about it online, the thought of succumbing to an (continued on page 13)
ILLUSTRATION BY GINA LEONE
After a long talk with my mom and a meeting with the school board, that woman was fired. And even though I never saw her again, my 7-year-old brain replayed her words on a loop—happy daydreams turning to self-doubt, worsening with shrill cries of “thunder thighs” and jabs from boys who thought it’d be funny to write fake love letters to the fat girl.
looking for. And that, I know now, is a distorted perception of myself. And it stemmed from years of fat-shaming.
the cost of a couple pounds
THE CURRENT I had developed an eating disorder, and no one noticed anything aside from how “pretty” my face looked. Spoken word artist Blythe Baird wrote a poem called “When the Fat Girl Gets Skinny,” in which she says, “If you develop an eating disorder when you are already thin to begin with, you go to the hospital. If you develop an eating disorder when you are not thin to begin with, you are a success story.” I have never understood this double standard. An eating disorder is an eating disorder, regardless of a person’s weight. Just because I’m fat doesn’t make my situation any less real. People should never feel like they don’t belong in their own body. No one should be made to feel ashamed. But it’s not just what people say or how they act. Fat-shaming is often wrapped in dreamy words intended as a compliment, like “Oh, but you have such a pretty face.” Sometimes it’s left in the wake of someone’s inaction, completely unintentional, snaking around you like a python seducing its prey. Twenty-One In February 2015, I fell in love. We were sitting at a table in Taco Bell, near the door and right behind the trash can. The sunlight coming in from the window illuminated the softness in his smile. It was the first time I didn’t feel anxious to eat in front of someone.
eating disorder killed my self-esteem, but seeing the black needle on my scale move up gave me a jittery feeling—that is until the next comment sent me plummeting back down.
In the last few months, I’ve realized that people don’t have a say in how I should be feeling. If I’m in bad health, my body or doctor will tell me. That’s not to say paying attention to my weight isn’t necessary—rapid weight gain or weight loss come with their own dangers. Listening to the body is a good initial way to know if something is wrong.
“Are you anorexic?” Those three words left me feeling as though someone had just punched me in the stomach. I wasn’t doing any of this for me; I did it so the bullying would stop, so the comments would stop, so I could look in the mirror and not hear the echoes of my peers in my head. I was doing this all for them.
Eating disorders are similar, but what’s different is you also have to take your mental and emotional health into account. An eating disorder is just as much a mental illness as it is a physical one. Every time I felt like the world was crashing down, something in me said, “You can have control of this.” And even though I might have lost weight, I never felt better about myself because I wasn’t really in control; it was just the disorder talking.
Standing in front of the mirror, I’d imagine myself as a petite, 5-foot-2-inch girl, instead of a 5-foot-6-inch twig. I would push my breasts together and imagine what it would be like if they were bigger. I would feel so discouraged looking at myself because there was nothing I could really do about all the things I wished to change. I got sick pleasure in seeing my weight go up on the scale or when my clothes felt a little tighter. The binge eating took over my life, and how my body looked was my only concern.
Ultimately, you have to do what’s best for you, and sometimes that means eliminating toxicities from your life—including people. Remember: your worth isn’t defined by what other people say. True happiness comes from within, and the first steps on that path is love and appreciation for what you have. Your body is more than just a temple; it’s your weapon against the world.
The more I stared at myself, the more things I found that I hated—how my feet were abnormally big, how my nose
As time passed, our relationship changed. We saw each other a couple days a week, which later turned into an hour a week on average. We were no longer intimate, and he spent more time looking at his phone than looking at me. On days when I’d spend the night, I didn’t feel pretty or loved or wanted, waiting for him to leave the room before I’d strip out of my clothes.
I was sitting in my residence hall my freshman year of college, skimming through magazine articles, when I found the term that summed up what I had experience my entire life: skinny shaming. I was reading about Meghan Trainor’s song, “All About That Bass,” and how the lyrics were hurtful to small women. I never knew such a term existed, and that other people could feel that way, but it explained why I felt the need to overindulge in food to gain weight, and how hurt I felt when people pointed out my size. It took so much out of me to constantly let these ideas of what I was supposed to look like control me. To always feel insecure about how I looked, to constantly analyze every detail and dream of the “perfect” me had all become so exhausting. This unsure, unworthy feeling transferred into every aspect of my life. My whole life revolved around the feeling of not being good enough. It was emotionally and physically exhausting to continuously wish I could gain a few pounds, or wish I was shorter and more petite.
I am affected by skinny shaming. The feelings and the effects body shaming of any kind has on individuals is not something to be dismissed. We live in a society where we are constantly analyzed and compared despite the evident differences we possess. I have grown a defense to the comments because I refuse to grant people the right to determine whether or not my body type is healthy. I have learned to accept the pure beauty in my body because regardless of the pressure, I will not conform to be what everyone else wants me to be.
On one night in particular, I started to cry, and he said I was beautiful. When I asked if there was something wrong with me, if he didn’t find me attractive, he said nothing. Though he had never outright shamed me for my body, the insecurity in our relationship coupled with my personal body shame had triggered a loss of self-esteem and self-control. I was 16 again, a foreigner in my own skin.
ILLUSTRATION BY SAMANTHA NOLD
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I had to realize that if I could not love myself, then nobody would ever be able to. If I hated myself, how could I ever expect someone else not to? It took time; I cannot lie and say it came instantaneously. I struggled, but to be able to look in the mirror and not completely loathe the reflection staring back at me was a start. I gradually learned to accept compliments without discrediting them. I took a step back and started to think how it must be to look at myself through the eyes of someone else. If they thought I was beautiful the way I was, then why couldn’t I?
I ordered a cheese quesadilla and Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes, and asked him not to judge me because it was my first meal of the day. He told me it didn’t matter as long I was happy and ordered twice as much food. This day set the groundwork for four months of genuine comfort. The more he called me beautiful, the more I started to believe it.
seemed so large compared to everyone else’s—it was as if I just did not measure up to my own definition of ideal.
Shaming someone for having a small waist and a fast metabolism is the equivalent to shaming someone for being bigger. It all hurts just the same and affects self esteem just as much. Constantly hearing and seeing on social media “real men like curves, not bones,” or “real women have curves,” is something that bothers me because being skinny doesn’t make me less of a woman. Real women come in different sizes. True beauty is not a quantitative measurement, no matter how much or how little a person weighs. It should not be a deciding factor in whether or not an individual is accepted by society. This is my life, my body, and I will not hand over the power to dictate its beauty to society again.
THE FEED Week One. I’m sitting at Scribbles Coffee Co. with a friend, and Vampire Weekend, one of my favorite bands, starts playing on the radio. I bend over the table, place my face in my hands and say, “Ugh, I wish I could listen to Vampire Weekend right now.” My friend looks over at me and says, “Dude, you’re not gonna make it an entire month.” I don’t know whether to feel more embarrassed or disappointed in myself. I find the urge to use tech less when I leave my phone in my room. The only issue is, on days I have several classes in a row, the only choice I have in an emergency is to find somewhere to sit down and use my laptop. It’s not a perfect situation, but I can deal with it. Another phenomenon I’ve noticed is that I’ve been considering every little, insignificant action I do throughout the day, wondering whether I need to use technology to complete that action. This has led me to ask myself some obvious questions: Can I brush my teeth? Can I go grab something to eat? Can I hang out with a friend? Most of the time, the answer is yes, but there are exceptions. If some friends want to watch Netflix or go to the Hub, I have to be careful not to look at any TVs. This constant questioning will tone down over the next few days, but this is the biggest lifestyle change I’ve noticed since starting this challenge.
COLLIN CUNNINGHAM READS BOOKS WHILE HE GOES 30 DAYS WITHOUT TECHNOLOGY.
DROPPING ELECTRONIC DEVICES COLD TURKEY Spending 30 days without technology, Collin Cunningham contemplates life before the tech-crazed world. WORDS BY COLLIN CUNNINGHAM PHOTO BY ERIN MCLAUGHLIN ILLUSTRATIONS BY ALEXIS SCRANTON
have something to admit: I’m bitter. I’m bitter because, when I was presented with a request to withhold the use of technology for 30 days, I said yes. I wouldn’t be allowed to watch Netflix, listen to music, play video games or even use the radio in the car, but I said yes. I could still use my computer for schoolwork and emails, and my phone to talk to my parents, so I said yes. And now it’s the first day of my tech-free month, and
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I’m bitter because I thought I could handle this. I’m sure these are just the petty rumblings of a recently techdeprived teenager, but this is going to be rough. I can’t go a whole month without some kind of fiction, whether it be movies or music, which leaves reading as my only option. I’ve stocked up on books and have already begun brainstorming ways to make this month less of a living hell. Wish me luck.
I still do daily activities—going to class, eating, spending time with people—but things feel different. I’ve noticed it’s harder to make concrete plans with people because I used to rely on my phone to contact friends. I now walk to friends’ rooms and knock on their doors in my residence hall to see if anyone wants to do anything—the same way I would get my friends to hang out when I was younger. It’s freeing to go up to someone and spend time with him or her on a whim without having to make plans beforehand. Plans can be arduous, as group messages can be annoying and hard to keep up with, but speaking to someone face-to-face is always a great way to get direct results. Still, sometimes I feel like I’m invading my friends’ privacy when I knock on their doors. I guess everyone is used to using their phones to make plans, too. Week Two. To prepare for living without technology, I read Jamie Brian’s living experiment story in last semester’s issue, and I thought mine would be so much easier. After all, I’m not depriving my body of a necessary resource. Or am I? I’ve noticed my muscles have been twitching instinctively in ways that pantomime how I used to interact with technology on a daily basis. I’m still able to perfectly mimic the motion of pressing the lock button on my phone, and even though I’ve been typing exponentially less, my memory of QWERTY keyboards is solid. I’ve realized it’s hard to commit to any lifestyle change: sometimes psychologically more than physically. Someone told me about a guy who typed “The Great Gatsby” on a typewriter, so he would know what it felt like to write a great American novel. That man, Hunter S. Thompson, went on to write his own stories, chas-
ing that high he got from pseudo-writing an impactful novel. Maybe spending 30 days without technology will inspire me to shape my entire lifestyle around using as little technology as possible. This month would have been more bearable if I had chosen April or June instead of the middle of January, but the point isn’t to make it easy, although it can get depressing after a while. The end of this week marks the halfway point, and I made a brief list of the technology that I’m most excited to use again. My number one is listening to music. I use Apple Music on my phone and forgot to cancel my subscription this month, so I’m not getting my $9.99 worth out of February. Of course, I still miss watching Netflix. I’m not a TV devotee, but going without “Comedy Bang! Bang!” in my life for two weeks has me, well, brooding—a common feeling for me as I progress through this experiment. Week Three. Although I’ve made more than a few references to a newfound bitterness that has cropped up over the past two weeks, I genuinely believe I’m getting something out of this. For one, I feel more patient. Usually spending several hours without my phone would make me considerably antsy, as I try to answer messages as quickly as possible in order to stay on top of things. But I’ve conditioned myself to not stress out when I’m not able to check my phone, which I hope will become a normal routine for me when this is over. I’ve been noticing the more pervasive aspects of technology lately. Walking down the Esplanade, I spot at least five or six people at any given time who are actively staring at their phone screens. This is kind of outrageous. Texts can wait until you get inside and aren’t walking down a busy sidewalk, and Instagram and Twitter feeds are still going to be there at the end of the day. Why, then, are people putting themselves in danger and walking to class in a way that is clearly irresponsible? I’m not exactly sure myself, but I’m pretty certain instant gratification plays a role in this. I’m annoyed at how often my friends will turn to their phones when they’re clearly bored with the social situation immediately in front of them. It’s rare for me to get through a whole meal with friends on campus without them checking their phones multiple times or blatantly looking at social media when they could be having a live conversation. It makes me feel a bit left out, but it disheartens me more than anything. Surely I was guilty of the same, inappropriate phone-peaking during meals and other social gatherings and just wasn’t aware of it until this deprivation began. Transitioning back to freely using electronic devices won’t be easy. Every time I touch my computer or check my phone before bed, I instinctively feel as though I’m doing something inherently wrong. It’s a strange mindset to be in, but it’s the one I had to place myself in in order to succeed thus far. Week Four. After rereading some of these entries, it’s become apparent that I’ve almost been referring to technology as an addiction I’ve dropped cold turkey. I think about whether I’ll “relapse” in my transition back into the electronic world. Was I really addicted to technology? Am I still? Spring 2016
With all of the uses for phones, computers and game consoles in 2016, it’s hard to deny that technology has an overwhelmingly positive effect on society. More people are communicating, and culture gaps around the world are being closed by social networking and global communication. I have friends in California who I’m glad to have had the chance to meet and stay in touch with over the past few years, and I wouldn’t give them up for anything. At the same time, people are using technology as a crutch. Being able to ostracize yourself from any social situation using your phone might be helpful to avoid awkwardness occasionally but doing it frequently alienates those
WAS I REALLY ADDICTED TO TECHNOLOGY? around you. I’ve come to realize social media is a waste of time and being able to access it from anywhere isn’t good. Tumblr is my social media platform of choice. I’ve had my blog for longer than my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat accounts, and it’s the one that has always drawn me in the most. I haven’t tapped the dark blue icon on my phone screen for nearly a month, but I know as soon as I do, I’ ll be drawn back in. Everyone’s been asking me how I feel about being done in a few days, and the answer has been the same every time: relieved. I’ve recently started keeping track of how many days I have left, something I haven’t done until now. It feels like I’m a child again, counting down the days until Christmas, but I’m almost more excited and nervous. Final Two Days. I’m really happy to be surrounded by people who have made this month easier for me. My friends have been receptive to my temporary lifestyle adjustment, and that just makes me so happy. The amount of patience these people exhibit for me is insane, considering I have my face buried in a book about half the time.
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Today was nice; it was warm, I had plenty to do, and it was overall a fitting end to this month that’s been in equal turns bitter and enlightening. I’ve realized that I’ve been spending a decent amount of time in solitude this month, and I wonder if I’m going to miss this. When I have my phone on me, I’m always plugged in to a constantly evolving social situation, even if I don’t really want to be. With my ball and chain tucked safely away, face-down in a drawer in my room, I feel as though I can spend time by myself without being judged. I love to be around people, but I’ve been thinking, and as cliche as it sounds, I’ve come to understand that my own opinions of myself are more valid
than those held by other people, and it’s easy to feel better about myself when I’m in tune with me and only me. Aftermath. This is embarrassing to admit, but the first thing I did after regaining use of technology was watch the “Bee Movie.” Yes, I know. I’m going to be honest: I wouldn’t recommend anyone else going a full 30 days without technology. It’s grueling, even though I did learn a lot. I’d suggest to go for a period of maybe 10 days or two weeks. You’ll learn a lot about yourself, like I did. But I’m not bitter anymore. Maybe it’s because I watched the “Bee Movie,” or maybe it’s because I think this past month has been good for me. I’m glad I did this, overall. It was tough, but I learned the limits of my patience and underwent a significant lifestyle change that not many people can admit to have experienced. Although I won’t be off technology completely, I feel liberated: free from constantly being connected to people, from worrying about counting likes and from the harsh judgments of the tech-using world.
THE INSTITUTE MANAGING EDITOR NEVILLE HARDMAN DISCOVERS UNLOCKED BUILDINGS ON CAMPUS AND TESTS KENT STATE’S SAFETY LIMITS.
kent after dark Many buildings on campus have unlocked entrances after hours and are easy targets for vandalism and mischief. WORDS BY NEVILLE HARDMAN PHOTOS BY ALEX LEDET
inding up a set of spiral metal stairs is not easy in complete darkness. Nothing guided me but the light cast by cell phones as my feet clanked to the top of the catwalks in E. Turner Stump Theatre. My breath felt shorter, and I was dizzy from the tight, continuous right turns that seemed dream-like in the sense that they wouldn’t end. There wasn’t a single peek of light as I reached the end, only narrow platforms suspended in the air, enveloped by shadows. My body stood closer to the auditorium’s high ceiling than the ground floor, overlooking the empty, dark rows of seating ahead. I wasn’t supposed to be there, but neither were my two friends. This routine keeps me coming back. I shouldn’t be able to walk on this metal bridge regularly. I could slip over the edge. It shouldn’t be this easy. People tramp through the hallways during the day, but as they speed away in cars and retreat to their homes, most don’t realize how simple it is to tug on a random door and slip inside. Anybody can roam across campus because it’s a public university, which means they can get into these buildings if they pick the right one. Last November, Rockwell Hall was vandalized with the message “sweatshop slave styles trending,” in spray paint on an outside wall, but worse could have happened to any of the buildings on campus. To prove this, I’ve decided to enter as many buildings as possible in one night. I start on the Esplanade in front of Bowman Hall, carrying a borrowed flashlight I know I’ll need if I plan to return to the catwalks in the Center for the Performing Arts. 10:07 p.m. Art Building The Art Building has a reputation for being open late, and it’s just up ahead from my spot on the Esplanade. Shuffling to the third floor entrance, my hand extends to the cold handle, and the door swings open with little effort. The door has to be manually locked, which seems outdated for a place containing Apple computers and intricate student artwork that could be damaged by someone with an unkind heart. I’m even quieter when I see two students engrossed in projects as I’m wandering around, their eyes fixed on their work instead of me. I slip into another room quickly,
ending up in a wide workroom that embodies the will of the students who spend hours in this building, filled with elaborate paintings and designs. All I can think is how easy it would be for some careless, inconsiderate person to wreck something and not get caught. Assigned to clean this three-story building is just one man, known for his trademark squinty eyes, long beard and tattoo sleeves. I wouldn’t be surprised to find someone sleeping here one night. There’s a waiting area on the second floor and a small nook on the top floor near offices where couches and chairs frame the area against the walls, and the heat is on full blast. On cold nights last winter, dwellers who had no ties to Kent State were found in different campus buildings, says Jeffery Mori, the assistant director of University Facilities Management. In a situation where a non-KSU person is found, the police are called, he says. “We take security very seriously, and sometimes that can mean an inconvenience to someone,” Mori says. “For people who are trying to get in a space [at night], we require authorization.” 10:32 p.m. Merrill Hall I’m coming up on the side of the building, past The Brain, and the first door I pull opens. My hand grasps the handle until the door finally clicks with the frame, so it doesn’t echo a slam. Someone who’s trying to sneak in, either to escape the cold or for other reasons, would take the same measures to not get caught. Several classrooms are open along the first floor, but I figure it’s just from custodial workers making their rounds. Room 112 has a laminated, green sign inside the classroom that lists steps to complete before leaving. Two of the tasks include closing the door and windows, as well as shutting off the lights; however, two windows are open, the door is not shut and the lights remain on despite the empty space. People failed to follow these basic procedures. What else aren’t they doing? 11:39 p.m. White Hall Finding the main doors locked has me skirting down the grassy incline to the parking deck. The large door there opens with no resistance. A faint noise of conversation above blocks me from taking the stairs because I want to avoid being seen. I’m treating this visit like I’m someone with intent. Wanting to proceed to the fourth floor, I call
THE CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS IS OFTEN UNLOCKED LATE AT NIGHT, ALLOWING VISITORS ACCESS TO MUSIC AND STAGE EQUIPMENT.
in the other, entering darkness by myself sends waves of warning signals through my head. I don’t know who else is lurking in the shadows. My heart thuds stupidly, and I hear myself draw a light breath before twisting the door handle, but it’s stiff. I’m actually glad it’s locked. for the elevator, which makes more noise for someone trying to move through the building unnoticed, but it’s the only option to proceed. Upon arrival, I circle the floor and then glide down the stairs to the next level. “Chris!” A woman screams playfully, calling for her friend as I traipse through the third floor, wrapping around each corner carefully. Meandering through these hallways already makes me feel uneasy, mostly because it resembles an abandoned reformatory, and partly from hazy memories of counseling sessions that went poorly, but now I have to worry about dodging a congregation of people. I’ve heard this group stomping through the hallways for at least 10 minutes, although I haven’t seen any faces. Descending the stairs to the second floor lets me avoid running into them, and I pass two open computer labs. The first contains 24 Apple Mac minis. At Best Buy, they run for $499.99 apiece, excluding tax. The second holds 26 Windows computers. Anyone could take these items or destroy them, yet the doors to both labs remain wide open, inviting people to sweep through.
As I drift into the main hallway, my head bobs in response to a custodial worker who greets me while reading a newspaper. I’m going the wrong way, but if I turn around, he’ll know I don’t belong. Instead of double-backing, I continue down the path and reach the end of the hall, passing another worker.
As I decide to move on, my hands push past the main doors on the opposite side from where I first tried entering. At the same time, a police car pulls out from the parking area where I entered and turns left onto Main Street. The driver doesn’t even see me.
“The building closed at 11,” she repeats.
12:20 a.m. Center for the Performing Arts A train whistles as my feet hit the pavement to cross the street on Theatre Drive. It’s eerie, just like entering the building alone will be. I’m usually graced by good company when I come here, which is enough times to count on two hands. Trying every door at the front entrance fails
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because they’re all locked. Typically, I’ll enter through these main doors and walk until I duck into a hallway or stairwell, but there are still other entrances to try. Wrapping around the building, I spot another door with a staircase directly in front of it, offering two ways to go. Pulling on the handle grants access, which worries me because this side of the building faces Main Street, where strangers walk past daily.
“The building closed at 11,” she says sternly as she wipes the floors. “I’m just trying to find the pianos,” I respond nonchalantly, confident that it’s not an insane claim. Students are known to stay until the wee hours of the night to practice. What makes me any different?
I nod, but I’m not leaving yet. Dodging her for the next 20 minutes will feel like a game of “Pac-Man,” but I know this place well enough to decide which hallways to turn down to prevent meeting her again. In this game, the radio she uses warns me which hallways to avoid. Each hallway I sweep through, collecting imaginary pellets, feels closer to winning and leveling up. I head toward the dressing rooms, where one entrance to a stage is located. Admittedly, I’m scared to enter alone. Even though there’s a flashlight in one pocket and a phone
12:59 a.m. Art Building
I try the doors again to see if the building was locked after midnight. It was still early when I first entered. The same door opens, but I don’t step inside. Mori says University
because it doesn’t seem sturdy. I approach the railing carefully and look below, staring at the mess. Wooden boards lean against walls, and ladders clutter the ground. The floors are covered with dust. A bottle of fruit punchflavored Gatorade sitting on a table is a sign of life, telling me this place is clearly a work in progress. Why was I able to breeze through the front door, expecting to be intimidated by the bright lights that shine above the entrance? This area is in early stages of construction, and while workers are “tasked to let the right people in and keep
ANYONE COULD TAKE THESE ITEMS OR DESTROY THEM, YET THE DOORS TO BOTH LABS REMAIN WIDE OPEN, INVITING PEOPLE TO SWEEP THROUGH. Facilities Management received approval to add four new, full-time custodial workers to its staff, and I hope one more person is added to this place, so the lone janitor can finally get some serenity. 1:03 a.m. Van Deusen Hall The inside of the front doors are zip-tied with thin, black plastic, but the way they’re adjusted doesn’t prevent them from opening—a crucial mistake. Moments after I creep further inside, a plastic sheet blows against an adjacent door frame, and I think it’s from the movement of a person. Seconds later, reality settles in, and I decide that I’m jumpy because I’m not sure how late the construction workers stay. I’m expecting the floor to shake as I continue stepping forward, stopping to stare at circle imprints on a dusty table, trying to figure out what was there. I find the stairs and climb to the second story, certain it’s a terrible idea
everyone else out, a difficult challenge,” Mori says, it is a safety hazard for anyone who chooses to enter. Despite a metal sign thrown on the Esplanade warning no trespassing and listing the repercussions for someone who is caught, nothing stopped me from physically entering. The 8’ 11” signs stating “Danger, Do Not Enter,” on the tri-door glass and the cluttered area were only an invitation to challenge this system. Months later, I still haven’t been contacted about accessing these buildings. While I might have been caught on security cameras, I never faced any consequences. It could be because I didn’t cause any harm. Maybe I was written off as another curious college student. Security might have never known I was there. The facts remain the same: Many of these buildings are easy targets for theft and vandalism. Anyone could have caused damage to these buildings. It could’ve been me. Spring 2016
cosplay THE TRUE OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE Jacob Runnels and his friends portray fictional characters and learn more about themselves along the way.
WORDS BY JACOB RUNNELS PHOTOS BY JANA LIFE ILLUSTRATION BY E. VALLAS
’m sitting on a bed in a hotel room that’s not mine. Behind me are six strangers who are too drunk and rowdy to have a conversation with. On the other hand, Batman—in his formal wear with a Christian Balestyled cowl—is sitting across from me on another bed with his girlfriend next to him. “Nice cufflinks,” I say, admiring his bat symbol accessories and the attention to detail this stranger put into such a ridiculous costume. “Thanks,” he says back, making sure his cufflinks are on correctly while holding his girlfriend’s hand. “I messed up the costume, though. I didn’t have the time to finish the full armor, so I had to go with this instead.” I can still hear him, despite the softness of his voice and the ruckus from fellow cosplayers behind me. They were done putting on their cosplays for the day and decided to get trashed on Kraken Rum and Crabbie’s Ginger Beer. Just like that, Batman was off to the rave downstairs with his girlfriend, along with the six other rowdy drunks ready to grind on the dance floor. They waited for the long line that stretched well over a hundred people to disperse. It was now their time to dance with other sweaty strangers. That’s just the Saturday night after day two of Ohayocon. I roomed with six people I met at Colosalcon 2015. They were friendly enough to share their liquor with me. All of this encompassed what I’ve been doing for three years now: going to conventions, drinking and meeting strangers while cosplaying as my favorite “League of Legends” characters.
What is cosplay? Cosplay, short for “costume play,” is how people can express their ability to create while portraying their favorite characters. Where the character comes from can be anything in pop culture or subcultures, and is commonly expressed with video game and anime characters. The typical communities a cosplayer will interact with range from those involved with the same source material from which the cosplayer’s costume originates to anyone else who thinks someone’s outfit just looks cool. I’ve met plenty of people who have appreciated my costumes while not knowing where my outfit was from, and I’ve caught myself in envy over the amount of care and creativity some cosplayers can put into their appearance. Cosplay can be something as simple as putting on a blazer and sunglasses and calling yourself Agent Scully from “The X-Files.” It can also be as complex as designing a suit of armor, complete with weapons and details that involve a painstaking amount of work and trial-and-error to perfect. What ultimately motivates me to become a character is usually dictated by that character’s “coolness” factor: Does this character have some cool armor or weapons I can make myself? What have I never seen or not seen much in the cosplay community that I could replicate? I usually pick costumes somewhere in the middle of simple and complex. I don’t have expensive materials or the skills of a professional costume designer, but I can cut EVA foam and form it to my body using heat. I can make it look like detailed armor with other materials. My garage is littered Spring 2016
with things like rolls of screen door mesh, refrigerator insulation and sheets of craft foam one can find for a dollar a sheet at any craft store. For cosplayer Macklin Legan, cosplay means putting hard work toward creating beautiful costumes, something she’s loved doing for many years.. “It was so cool to see what kind of materials you could push and use,” Legan says. “There are such a variety of ways to make something.” Legan is one of those cosplay friends who I found out was secretly into cosplay when she posted about her costume ideas on Facebook several years ago. Since then, we’ve been exchanging tips and tricks with each other and starting a Facebook group to (hopefully) get local cosplayers to meet up and share their crafting secrets. She says she got into cosplaying from her artsy parents, who helped her make costumes for Halloween every year rather than buying them from the store. “I know we’re adults, and we’re not supposed to be in pretend-land the entire time, but I’m walking around feeling like ‘man, I feel like this character,’ ” she says. For her, cosplay can be simple or complex, and there shouldn’t be a threshold one should cross to have a “good” cosplay. Since she doesn’t have such a strong sewing background, she pushes herself to learn more about making clothing to complement her confidence in armor making. Her cosplay challenge this year is to make Princess Yue’s dress from “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” and she already has a plan, such as “hand-stamping texture” on her fabric to add, “those small unique things [to] help her costumes be unique.” The “play” in cosplay is for performance After months of preparation, performance is another step I deeply consider. Putting on a self-made helmet comprised of foam and screen door mesh, covered in several different kinds of paints and glues with limited range of sight, has multiple effects on me. I have three constant convention floor fears: claustrophobia from the helmet and my breath gathering on my face in a light sprinkle of condensation; the strain of my muscles as I lug around heavy props made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and foams; and the constant fear I’ll run into someone by accident and fall over. I drop all of my insecurities, ready to greet new people. I met my friend Ryan Ohlin, a junior integrated language arts major, through conversation at Colossalcon 2014. Even with surgical gauze on my face and makeup on his face, we could tell each other apart from the crowd of equally, crazily costumed people. Ohlin likes to sew and usually cosplays as people with clothing, such as Goku from “Dragon Ball” or Beetlejuice. He says he loves to act out the characters; his favorite cosplay creation is Waluigi from “Super Mario Bros.” “I transcended and became Waluigi, and people loved it,”
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COSPLAYING IS ALSO LIKE EXPERIENCING HALLOWEEN AGAIN, EXCEPT IT HAPPENS OVER THE COURSE OF A WEEKEND. Ohlin says with enthusiasm, as he describes how he sets himself apart from the other Waluigi cosplayers he sees. This year, he will challenge himself with Papyrus, as he wants to set himself apart from the sea of other “Undertale” cosplayers. He plans to go as in-depth as possible with the character by acting like Papyrus. He plans to buy boxes of wire puzzles and Rubik’s Cubes for people to solve, all while having a plate of spaghetti under his hat to reward them. “At the end of the day, it makes a lot of other people smile,” he says. “It’s a really nice way to make other people feel good.” The culture is deeper than you think
For some, Cosplay is a display of creative prowess or desire to get in character. These are aspects I put into my cosplays. What inspires me to get out there and portray characters is the sense of community that comes from the experience. I meet people along the way who either show me how to better my craft or want to tag along for future cosplay experiences. However, there is an aspect to the community I believe every other culture experiences, and it involves hecklers. Hecklers are people who intentionally put people down because they didn’t do such a good job on their cosplays or have to point out little problems they see in cosplays in such a derogatory manner that goes beyond constructive criticism. Cosplayers are teased by hecklers for portraying characters of different genders, races and body shapes. Legan thinks there will always be different viewpoints on cosplays so acceptance of certain costumes can be difficult to achieve.
RUNNELS CREATES HIS OWN COSTUMES, SUCH AS HIS SLAYER PANTHEON ENSEMBLE HE WORE AT OHAYOCON.
“Cosplay is for fun; it’s meant to portray a character you really like, and I don’t understand why people are so critical about it,” she says. “Even though there’s a set acceptance, there are still people going to be assholes who make a big deal out of someone not fitting the character physically.”
been given dirty looks and derisive comments by other cosplayers because they were dressed as the same character, but Ohlin and his sister didn’t necessarily have the same skill level as the other cosplayer. “Most of any cosplayer you talk to will tell you they can’t stand [hecklers] like that,” he says. “I think people like that are unavoidable and will always pop up. The best thing you can do is, when you find out they’re a shitty person, don’t give them the attention they crave. Just move on.” Legan and Ohlin agree the community itself isn’t elitist or derisive, but there are some bad members in the community. Despite any negative comments that might come their way, both cosplayers say the people who praise someone for their work should outweigh the comments a heckler can make. It is still important to sell a cosplay well though, even if you’re in familiar territory, like a specific community. You have to be able to both construct a good costume—which means you’re at least recognizable to some people—and capture the personality of the character. But when the convention weekend is over, and we’re all back home in our normal lives, nursing sore limbs and hangovers, the cosplay scene is something we can appreciate as being a great getaway from the responsibilities of life. Sure, I have to go to work the day after the convention weekend, double-check my finances and, eventually, mope about all the money I spent on alcohol and tacos, but the good parts of the convention will stick more than the negative parts. I would rather think about the nearly 100 photos taken of various cosplays and the great people I met along the way. It’s something that makes the convention more nostalgic in a sense and something to definitely look forward to for next year, or perhaps more if you decide to go to other conventions in the meantime.
Ohlin thinks there are just a small amount of people who are set in their ways of being jerks. He and his sister have Spring 2016
“You look at your environment and you plan an idea in your head to do, and then you do it,” Paige says. “It can take anywhere from a second. Boom. An idea pops into your head, to a couple minutes of walking around and testing out jumps to see if you can make them.”
two faces of parkour
Follow Forrest Paige as he flips and tumbles his way through life. WORDS BY ADRIAN LEUTHAUSER PHOTOS BY ESLAH ATTAR & ADRIAN LEUTHAUSER
tanding, calming his nerves, Forrest Paige stares down the jagged bricked wall. Everyone has likely walked by the abandoned lot that sits snug by the train tracks. It was eerily quiet, despite it being a Friday afternoon. Every step Paige takes is carefully thought out. Paige delves into the world of parkour by scaling buildings and swinging from wooden boards. In its simplest of terms, parkour is moving from point A to point B in
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Every time he climbs, he is swift and smooth like a lake sitting calmly before being disturbed. He makes it look effortless, as if a stranger on the street could do it without a second thought.
the most creative and efficient way possible. No other sport can be approached the same way as parkour. Football, soccer, basketball and even hockey are structured sports. They have universal rules, with a universal language that can be transcribed across the entire world. With parkour, there are no boundaries; there is no way to say that someone is doing it completely wrong. Paige allows his body to take control, becoming one with his surroundings while learning to trust his instincts.
Paige started practicing parkour after playing the video game “Assassin’s Creed.” He realized the free running in the game was applicable in real life. He became more involved with the community through his sport.
Every time he stumbled upon unchartered architecture, his eyes filled with wonder. It was as if he was a kid going to the playground for the very first time. New obstacles excited Paige, and he could barely focus on anything other than the opportunity to climb.
Any time Paige had difficulties getting over an obstacle, such as the red brick wall by the train tracks, he paced himself and recentered. He imagined a scenario where he is chased by zombies. He whispered to himself “zombies, got to think about zombies,” and then take off after the wall. It took him about 15 tries before succeeding.
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FEATURES CHRISTINA LAPOINTE-JACKSON EXUDES JOY, HOPE, AND HAPPINESS IN HERSELF AND THE LIFE STYLE CHANGES SHE HAS MADE TO RECOVER FROM THE DARKNESS IN HER PAST.
reach, rescue, redeem How Rahab Ministries extends a hand to broken women.
WORDS BY KELLY POWELL PHOTOS BY JACQUELINE STOFSICK
ow are you?”
study leader, says. “Let the truth of the Lord penetrate your heart and don’t buy into the lies.”
After this statement and a quick admonishment about This exchange, along with tight hugs and talking during the meeting, she commences her lesson. dramatic shouts, is the start to every conversation held in the Rahab house. The “God is the game changer,” Dague bellows. exterior is understated with a coat of pale yellow paint and a wooden, cross-shaped yard sign reading “He Is This five-word sentence more or less summarizes Rahab Risen!” The interior is composed of lime-green walls that Ministries, an Akron-based organization focused on the restoration of women who have experienced sex trafare plastered with handmade artwork, and no door frame ficking or exploitation. Their mission, as put by 10-year is left untouched by a motivational decal. Despite the attendee Christina LaPointe-Jackson, is to be “a lightworship music playing from an iHome that rests on top house in the darkness.” Through Bible studies, a strip club of the bookcase, the volume is mainly due to the various outreach program and street rescue initiatives, Rahab claims comments being made as women enter the living room— responsibility for changing the trajectory of women’s lives. the noise increasing at a steady rate. Beyond the entrance, the kitchen hosts the rest of the visitors, the table display- “This is the area I used to use in,” LaPointe-Jackson says ing sizable bowls of fruit and Hawaiian sweet rolls. The of Akron. “This is the area I used to prostitute in. This is women surrounding the snacks paint each other’s nails the area I lost myself in. I caught tricks. This is a known and drink coffee from mugs that vary in size, catching up place for johns. People who are lost will find other people
I WAS A RECKLESS, HOPELESS DRUG ADDICT WHO HAD BEEN TRAFFICKED AND FELT LIKE SHE WAS NOTHING. with one another, each exchange as expressive as the next. This goes on for several minutes until the many voices in the room reduce to one.
who are lost, but at Rahab, there’s hope, revolution, love and rehabilitation.”
“OK ladies, it’s time to get started,” Angel Dague, a Bible
Tricks and johns can otherwise be classified as clients of prostitutes. These terms are commonly used in the realm Spring 2016
ANGEL DAGUE (RIGHT) DRIVES WOMEN TO THE FRIDAY BIBLE STUDY, WHERE THEY ENJOY FELLOWHIP OVER SNACKS AND NAIL ART. THE WOMEN HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO WEAR DONATED ENSEMBLES TO JOB INTERVIEWS.
ing or not, snacks are abundant, especially on Soup ’n’ Shop days, when anyone who enters is provided with lunch, nail treatments and a small Bible study to cap off the time. The low-ceilinged upper floor of the Rahab house bursts at the seams with attire, racks with blazers, dresses and blouses lining the perimeter of the room, and shoe boxes filling the gaps of the floor space underneath. If permission is granted from the women’s respective facility, they are granted freedom to peruse the walk-in closet. “We live together as a family unit here, unlike the facilities divided by individual rooms and cells,” says Anna Graft, a junior public health major and Rahab volunteer. Graft is one of the safe house moms, a title that entails a matronly responsibility.
bullet point recorded hastily in the car after the fact. After bowing their heads in prayer, the girls enter the strip club, making conversation with the bartender and inquiring about how many women are dancing on that particular night. After a few minutes, they return to the car. Gift bags that had previously taken up residence in the back seat are grabbed in bulk, their contents including gloves, Sweethearts conversation hearts, a protein bar, a nail file and a comb. These gifts, they feel, are the gateway to meaningful exchanges with the dancers.
“They come from a life where relationships are taken from them or cut off,” Graft says. “Our job is not only to build friendships but to tell them we are not leaving or forsaking them. We’re at the point where we can ask them how a “I spend time loving them, correcting them, talking about job search is going or what they made for dinner because life with them and making food with them,” Graft says. we know they love cooking.” “I do things that a typical mom would do whenever they need me, but they treat me like a daughter in some realms.” Near the end of a Friday afternoon Bible study, the women are asked to list material items they idolize. Initially, they Although Graft came into this role with initial hesitation, must be called on to answer, but eventually, the room is feeling unqualified to step in, she now reveres it as her filled with verbal recognition of items they feel obstruct their dream job. Safe house mom responsibilities are comple- relationship with Jesus Christ. mented by leading a team in strip club outreach, an ongoing process that volunteers describe as one of the hardest “My vapor pen!” “Starbucks!” “Cussing!” “Cigs!” “Drugs!” things they’ve ever done. “McDonald’s!”
of trafficking and in the governmental system to describe everyday routine at a community based correctional facilthose that take advantage of victims. LaPointe-Jackson ity she once attended. describes Rahab Ministries as a contrast to the trafficking activity taking place in Akron and surrounding areas. “The facility trusts these people so much,” Smith says. “It’s nice to know that someone does care. Once, they took us After 47 arrests, four prison stints, a bullet to the face and out to a Christmas dinner, and it was so elegant. They’ll a risky facial reconstruction surgery, LaPointe-Jackson bring us to salons—we get hair, nails and boosts of confihad no intention of pursuing a change in lifestyle. She dence, and it’s all in the name of God.” first heard about Rahab through Becky Moreland, the organization’s founder, who reached out to her in the Although Smith has been released from the facility, she middle of what LaPointe-Jackson calls self-caused chaos, feels that losing contact with Rahab has restructured her support system. and she changed her mind. “I was a reckless, hopeless drug addict who had been traf- “If you need to see strong women, this is the place to go,” she says. “It’s an everyday place to go—normal, comfortficked and felt like she was nothing,” LaPointe-Jackson ing, not like the church where sometimes they’ll bombard says. “I had an inferiority complex my whole life. I had an you. It’s home as soon as you pull up.” ‘AHA’ moment, though. Now when I sit in this house, I’ll see a girl walking down the street, and I realize that used More than once, “home” is uttered within the confines of to be me. I want to come out of my body and help her.” the safe house. Most of the individuals who line the walls hail from correctional facilities. Attending events in the The women’s desires to reciprocate the treatment they Rahab house is an intermission from a life of routine. It have received is tangible. Four-month attendee Renee is described by regulars as a hub where women “don’t Smith felt sought out by the organization when she just go for coffee and snacks.” No matter if they’re searchwas chosen to attend a Rahab brunch, a break from her
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“The myth that dancers in strip clubs are making money for college or taking care of something temporarily is completely false,” Graft says. “The only time I’ve ever heard someone say they want to be there is on her first night. Strip clubs are not just a place where a girl goes and dances; almost all of the places we visit have rooms where sex is offered, which categorizes itself as prostitution.”
At their previous Bible study session, women completed a exercise similar to this one—unashamedly vocalizing what they believe are Jesus Christ’s attributes and using adjectives that they see as greater than their addictions or strongholds. “Pursuing!” “Universal!” “Phenomenal!” “Dedicated!” “Selfless!”
OK LADIES, IT’S TIME TO GET STARTED. LET THE TRUTH OF THE LORD PENETRATE YOUR HEART AND DON’T BUY INTO THE LIES.” Internationally, there are a total of 36 million men, women “I was shot, fought and got arrested,” LaPointe-Jackson and children trapped in some form of human trafficking. says. “What I thought was strength was strength in my Whereas this statistic may seem far from home, Ohio was weakness… We were guided by the wrong strength. As cited as having more than 1,000 reported cases of sex much dirt as I’ve done, I don’t deserve the grace God trafficking per year. The most common ages for individu- gives me. I’m not a piece of meat, and I don’t deserve to als to be trafficked for the first time are between 12 and be talked to like I have no soul or no heart.” 14 years old. The volunteers pile into one car, knowing the directions to their first venue, Lusty Adventures, by heart. Once the vehicle is parked a couple of blocks away, a college-aged volunteer pulls out her cell phone, finding a picture she had taken several weeks before of a full notebook page. The page holds details about all of the individuals they met during their last visit to Lusty Adventures, every Spring 2016
creating hope Kent State student Sabrina Scott falls into a downward spiral after losing her stepfather to heroin and learns to rise from the darkness. WORDS BY SAMANTHA ICKES PHOTOS BY ESLAH ATTAR
nowflakes drift through the air, landing gently on the windowsill outside of her room. She shivers, even though she’s warm inside her home. The gray, bitter-cold day reminds her of the numbness she feels, and thoughts of her stepfather leave an ache deep in her chest. She stands up and heads for the fridge, hoping the extra bottles of Redd’s Apple Ale will ease the feeling.
When Scott wakes, the sound of her father’s voice still echoes in her head. She feels as though this was her stepfather’s way of communicating with her—she knows even though he can’t be there physically, he is still trying to protect her spiritually. February 2013
Sabrina Scott grabs the drink and retreats back to her room, sitting on the floor of her tiny bedroom in her house in Kent. She lies on her green floral floor pillow, watching the snowfall outside her window.
Things changed with a single phone call late on a cold, snowy night in February. Scott could hear her mom sobbing on the other end, telling her Phil was using again. As her mother told Scott what happened, she could picture Phil lying on the ground outside of McDonald’s. She could picture the needle stuck in his arm, filling him with poison.
Unsatisfied with the alcohol, she sits up to reach for the antidepressants she keeps in a storage bin below her vanity. She shakes out a pale yellow pill and watches it roll back and forth in her cupped palm before swallowing.
Tears filled her eyes, blurring her vision, but anger wouldn’t let them fall. Her stomach dropped in fear that Phil would not be OK, but she felt angry he would even turn back to heroin.
Scott knows she isn’t drunk or high, but she can feel the warmth of a buzz as she lies down on her bedroom floor and falls asleep. The room is dark and quiet, save for the ringing of a telephone. Though Scott can’t even see her hands in front of her face, she reaches out into the darkness, gripping onto a telephone. She slowly picks it up and presses it against her ear. “Hello?” she answers. Scott can hear her stepfather’s voice on the other end. “Hi, honey! It’s me, Phil!” Scott looks wildly around the dark room as though her stepfather might appear before her eyes. Scott’s mother suddenly appears a few feet in front of her. Nothing but blackness surrounding them. Scott tries to hand the phone to her mother, excited to hear from her stepfather after the months apart, but her mother only shakes her head sadly.
The anger she felt deep in her chest faltered when she saw how frail and small her stepfather looked in the hospital bed, but she couldn’t let it go. She felt her stepfather betrayed her family, choosing drugs over everything else. “What the hell is wrong with you?” Scott yells at her stepfather. “I don’t want you to die.” She hits him with her fists repeatedly, crying out of anger. Her stepfather tries to hold her back, weak from the poison he injected into his body hours before. His face looks sunken, and dark circles hide his eyes. When Phil returns home, Scott allows herself to feel a new sense of hope he will overcome his addiction. After all, he’s beat heroin before and had been clean for more than seven years. As time passed, Scott began to notice Phil’s behavioral
FEATURES that Scott only sees a blurred reflection of herself. She breathes in deeply as she takes in the scene before leaving her childhood home forever. SCOTT REFLECTS ON THE REALIZATION THAT THE HOUSE SHE SPENT SO MANY YEARS IN IS NO LONGER HERS.
“We knew it was coming,” Scott says. “It didn’t even feel real because I was so angry. Heroin had already claimed him, and there was no going back.” Scott didn’t cry when her stepfather died. She felt angry and hurt at the broken promise her stepfather made her. You’re not going to lose me, he said, and now she plans his funeral arrangements in between finding time to study for her finals. Scott and O’Connor decided to have Phil cremated, and she cries for the first time since he died as she visits his body before the cremation. The image of his face, sunken in and dark, is still ingrained in her memory today. “I just lost it,” she says. “It just hit me. This is it. He’s gone.” October 2015
changes the deeper he gets into his heroin addiction. Scott notices small things missing or changing around the house, like the beautiful copper gutters along their house that disappeared one day. Though she didn’t want to assume the worst, deep down she knew Phil had taken them and sold them for drug money. Scott talks of college applications and the upcoming prom at dinner. She notices her stepfather has fallen asleep from exhaustion. She pushes her food to one side of the plate. It’s obvious the drugs are taking a toll on his body, making him look years older than 55.
O’Connor says. Though Scott’s life changed quickly in a matter of two months, O’Connor says it was the best decision for her and her daughter to move. The deeper Phil burrowed himself into his addiction, the more O’Connor thought to herself: I can’t go down with him. The toughest change for Scott was learning to cope without the close relationship she once had with her stepfather. Scott’s biological father was in federal prison for taking cocaine across state borders, but Phil was present in her life through all the big moments: homecoming, prom, softball games and boyfriends. For every dance he was there for pictures and for every game he was there on the sidelines cheering her on.
Scott’s mother, Heather O’Connor, tries to comfort Scott by telling her Phil just had a long day at work. She continues to make excuses for Phil, knowing in her heart they’re lies. She didn’t want to leave Phil on his own, knowing if he died “We just started connecting, and overtime, I just started alone in their house, she would blame herself. realizing that he actually was like my dad,” Scott says. “I O’Connor drew the line when she found prescription pills felt really grateful that he was my dad.” in her bedroom drawer. She had looked past his addiction November 2014 with hope he would recover again, but at some point, she knew she had to let go. She would tell herself Phil’s behav- Scott remembers the date vividly: Nov. 18, 2014. She can ior was just because of work or because he was tired, but still picture her mother standing in the doorway of the as she pulls the pills for her dresser drawer, she feels it is bathroom of their home in North Ridgeville—the room time to take action. where her stepfather died. “When you love somebody and you care about somebody, you’ll try to make up any excuse possible,” O’Connor says. O’Connor was a recovering addict, sober for 15 years. The longer she stayed in the house, the more she put herself in danger of using again. “It was getting harder and harder for me to flush those pills down the toilet, and I knew that I was getting close to using again myself because I was so down and depressed,”
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when her life feels as though it’s taken a 180-degree turn for the worst. McCarthy drives in silence, listening to Scott as she speaks about the nightmare she’s been living since her stepfather passed. Unsure of what to do, he asks if she would mind visiting the emergency room. He feared Scott might try to end her life. “I was in shock,” McCarthy says. “I’ve known Sabrina since I was a freshman in high school. I always saw her as bubbly and happy. She would always have this mindset of ‘this sucks, but I’ll find a way through it.’ ” The nurse put an IV in Scott’s arm, asking McCarthy questions as she worked. Is she still feeling self harm? Is she under the influence of any drugs or alcohol? After the nurse finished questioning Scott and McCarthy, Scott was referred to a psych ward in Akron, where she spent the next five days. The walls were beige and blank, and the room smelled of household cleansers and disinfectant.
Even a year after his death, Scott continues to feel the effects of the loss. Scott says she hit an all time low around Homecoming weekend. She began making awful decisions: skipping classes, drinking to numb the aching feeling in her chest, even dropping a class because she was failing.
As Scott sits in her room at the psych ward, a million thoughts run through her head: What the hell ever happened to me? The world would be better off without me. Where do I go from here? And the one question that is in the back of her mind every second of the day: How did I get here?
She knew it was a mechanism for coping with the pain of her stepfather being gone, but that didn’t stop her from
She looks out the barred window at the autumn trees—the beautiful collage of yellows, oranges and browns. October is
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? I DON’T WANT YOU TO DIE.” cracking open a Redd’s or asking an older student to buy her liquor to feel something other than pain and guilt. Scott feels her need to drink increase the more she thinks about how much time was lost with her stepfather before his death. She can’t sleep. She can’t feel. As she stands in front of her mirror in her Kent house, she searches her face as if looking for an answer, asking herself who she is as a person. The only response she got was a question: Is this how my stepfather felt before he died?
near an end, and she feels it is autumn’s last breath before winter takes over.
Scott blinks away tears of anger and turns away from the mirror. She hates feeling this way. She hates that Phil chose heroin over her and her mother. She hates who she’s become, and so she pours herself another drink. Scotts feels the familiar ache of depression that has consumed her life. She pulls her sleeping pills out of her purse and looks over the label, wondering how many it would take to put her to sleep forever.
She turns her attention back to the beautiful scenery outside her window. A yellow leaf falls from a tree and lands softly on the ground.
She remembers Phil’s love for ties, and the hundreds of ties he had collected from birthday gifts and Christmas presents over the years, but his tie rack is empty. A tie is knotted up on the floor, which Phil had used to compress his arm. Syringes are scattered here and there. A bloodied T-shirt is crumpled in the corner.
That’s when Scott’s friend, Nathaniel McCarthy, knew it was time to intervene. McCarthy remembers the warm, fall night when Scott got into his car, already drunk from the drinks she had before he arrived.
The once white walls are now tinted yellow from cigarette smoke. The mirror is coated so thickly with dust and dirt
She lifts up her sleeves to expose her bare forearms, scarred and cut from self-abuse. She cries and tells him she doesn’t feel alive anymore. She doesn’t see the point in moving on
Scott’s mind wanders to her feelings of last night. In those moments, she truly wanted to die. Her life is now a cycle of finding what makes her feel the most numb. Drinking in excess makes her feel alive and almost invincible at times. Cutting herself makes her forget the pain caused by depression, and when none of that works, sleeping takes away her thoughts as she slips into unconscious darkness.
Scott sits at her laptop in her apartment mulling over an idea she’s been toying with. She takes a deep breath and types out a message to her stepsister about wanting to advocate for heroin awareness. Though it’s only been an idea for a little over a month, being in the psych ward reinforced Scott’s desire to stand up and tell others her story about how heroin affected her life, even though she never touched the drug. “I believe that my higher power brought me these obstacles in my life for a reason,” Scott says. “So why not share my knowledge and experiences of being affected by this drug to others so they may understand and see this addiction Spring 2016
THE RAINY DAY SET THE MOOD FOR SCOTT’S REUNION WITH HER OLD HOME. SHE LOOKS ON WITH A HINT OF SADDNESS AS SHE RECONCILES HER PAST.
with a different perspective.”
school teachers to help with her first motivational speech.
Scott is one of many individuals affected by the drug. “Unfortunately with the D.A.R.E. program, all they ever Heroin use has no boundaries. It affects the poor and the taught you was to say no,” Scott says. “They never actually rich, men and women, old and young. advocate the reality of drugs—what actually happens to the addict and to the people they love and care about.” Scott wishes to educate others, starting with students at her alma mater, Elyria Catholic High School, about how Scott plans to start with outreach in Lorain and Cuyahoga drugs not only affect the user but the family as well, and counties by speaking in local high schools. Once she estabhow to prepare for the hardships that may come with it. lishes a foundation, Scott wants to raise money for halfway houses where men and women go to recover from addictions. “It affects the entire family,” says Carri Hall, an alcohol and other drug prevention specialist from Townhall II in down- The effects of heroin branch out from the user and marks town Kent. “Addiction is considered a chronic brain illness, everyone surrounding them. Heroin not only claimed and so it impacts the people’s behavior, which would then the life of Scott’s stepfather long before his death, it also impact the people around them.” tested her mother’s sobriety and sent Scott down a dark path toward self-harm. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin use has quadrupled since 2002. “[The user’s] thoughts and behaviors become more focused on the next time they’re going to use and getting the A record number of Ohioans died from drug-related deaths euphoric feeling of the drug,” Hall says. “That has a greater in 2014, according to the Ohio Department of Health. impact of the family.” Nearly half of these deaths involved heroin, resulting in 1,177 overdoses—including Scott’s stepfather. Scott feels as though she could have handled the situation differently if she had known about the effects of heroin use “Never in a million years would I think the life I once had and how it changes the user. would be gone in a split second, and that’s what heroin does to you,” Scott says. “It’s scary how fast it happens.” She treated her stepfather like a disease because of the anger and hurt she felt. Though she feels in her heart Phil Though her plans are still in the dream phase, she hopes to has forgiven her, she doesn’t want other individuals to go through the same situation. get her advocacy program underway as soon as she returns from studying abroad in Geneva, Switzerland. Scott began by contacting an ABC News Drug Enforcement Administration task officer in St. Louis to begin her own outreach program. She also reached out to some former high
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“I came a long way from that, and it blows my mind,” Scott says. “I would like to inform high school students about how alcoholism and drug addiction has affected my life negatively but has made me a stronger person because of it.
FEATURES BLYTHE ALSPAUGH COMES TO TERMS WITH A SECRET SHE’S BEEN HOLDING IN WHILE EMBRACING HER SEXUALITY.
ual attraction. Of the two short-lived relationships I had in high school, I shied away from anything physical—even kissing. At the time, I chalked it up to my fear and inexperience, but in the back of my head, I knew there was another reason why my stomach knotted up with nausea and unease. For a while, I thought I might be more attracted to girls than boys, but my research opened a new door for me. The further I stepped into that room, the more I identified as asexual. I hadn’t become truly vocal about it until I was in college, partially because it was a new environment where I could reinvent myself and partially because Kent State was more welcoming to the LGBTQ community than my hometown. People knew what I was talking about when I said I was asexual. It didn’t stop some people from wearing the police hat, though. For every positive reaction I’d receive, I’d be met with two responses of “you just haven’t met the right person yet,” or the ever-popular and creepy, “I can change that.” But I let it go, figuring I could just ignore anyone who didn’t respect me enough to accept that I knew who I was, and I wasn’t ashamed of it. My mentality, however, changed on that warm September day. Dan had invited me to his room to watch a movie, and as someone who takes things literally, I didn’t pick up on any subtext.
can’t fix what isn’t broken
Asexuality is not abnormal, and those who identify can’t and shouldn’t be changed. WORDS BY BLYTHE ALSPAUGH PHOTOS BY JANA LIFE *Editor’s note: Due to the nature of this story, some names have been changed.
t was a warm September day in 2012 when I lost my virginity.
I can still remember the crunch of the Honey Nut Cheerios I ate for breakfast, the heaviness of my eyelids in Seven Ideas that Shook the Universe, and the idea of enjoying the weekend’s clear skies and sunny weather with my friends. Most vividly, I remember Dan* murmuring that I “might be asexual after all” while he pulled on a pair of shorts, so he could go to the bathroom.
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I first heard about asexuality seven months prior, during the gap year I took between high school and college. Unfamiliar with the term, I did a quick Google search, and the first result was a Wikipedia definition: “Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to anyone, or low or absent interest in sexual activity. It may be considered the lack of a sexual orientation, or one of the variations thereof, alongside heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality.” It sounded a lot like how I felt about my sexuality and sex-
As soon as the door shut, he started kissing me, and I froze up because I hadn’t been expecting it. I blocked out a lot of what happened. I don’t remember how he got me on the bed, or how he managed to undress us both and keep me down at the same time. I was in such a state of shock that I couldn’t think of how to get him to stop.
I remember trying to speak and being unable to make a sound because his forearm was pressed against my throat. I had to concentrate on breathing while I waited for it all to be over. What was maybe 10 or 15 minutes felt like hours, and when it finally ended, I couldn’t cover myself fast enough. He asked me how I enjoyed it—I shrugged my shoulders, and that’s when he told me that I “might be asexual after all,” and left the room.
ing across my boundaries, and I ended up freezing up. By the time it was all over, she walked out of the room because I was being really quiet and unresponsive, and she thought that was rude.” It boiled down to Smith’s girlfriend thinking everything had been fine because Smith had been silent the whole time. Smith remained in the relationship for another three months, ending it when he fully grasped the weight of what had happened and how it was unacceptable. For Smith, part of the problem had been a lack of understanding what asexuality is and what it means to date an asexual person. “Most people didn’t take it seriously, especially if I was dating them,” Smith says. “They took it as being more chaste or playing ‘hard to get’ [instead of] actually being asexual.” There is a stigma that asexuality isn’t a real sexuality but rather a fixable mentality. Inappropriate phrases, like “I can change that,” devalue a person’s sexual identification and reinforce the concept of corrective rape. Smith attributes these comments to people trying to be funny by making jokes. He’s often heard these crude remarks, especially during his freshman year of college and when he would date people who weren’t asexual. “I think that feeds a lot into rape culture overall,” Smith says. “The implication of [those jokes] is that they’re going to continue, and you’re not going to be into it. It’s also an implication that your lack of orientation is a void to be filled… or that you are a blank space waiting for somebody else to fill in who you are and figure out who you are for you.” In a society that glorifies sex as the end-all, be-all human experience, asexuality goes against the grain. For laughs, I had posted on Yik Yak that, as an asexual person, I don’t need sex because macaroni and cheese exists. Within an hour, I was met with anonymous users saying I was missing out on an essential, biological human need or that I wasn’t natural because I identified as asexual. I’ve had potential partners on dating apps tell me sex would be a positive, healthy experience for me, despite me hap-
MY “CHILDREN” ARE GOING TO BE BEST-SELLING BOOKS SOMEDAY. I dressed quickly and left before it could get any worse. I am not alone in my experience with asexuality and corrective rape. Reilly Smith, who identifies as transmasculine, asexual and panromantic, was sexually assaulted a few months into his relationship with a girlfriend, during Valentine’s Day weekend of 2012. Before that point, he had been upfront about his sexuality and had known his girlfriend for two years prior to the start of their relationship. “Eventually, [she] decided that [she] was going to show me how all that stuff works,” Smith says. “She started go-
pily and comfortably identifying as asexual. I’ve used the cheesecake example many times in explaining my sexuality: Many people love cheesecake, but I’ve never had a taste for it, and despite how much others think I will enjoy it, I don’t want to try it. While I’ve spent hours defending my sexuality to some people, I am fortunate enough to have a strong support system of family and friends. My parents have always been accepting people, asserting that they just want me to be happy and live the best life I can. When I first told my parents, I never outright Spring 2016
ALSPAUGH CAME OUT TO HER PARENTS AS ASEXUAL EARLIER THIS YEAR WITH THE HELP OF HER SISTER. HER FAMILY WAS VERY UNDERSTANDING AND SUPPORTIVE.
#happy burrthday Looking back 30 years on The Burr. Providing award-winning journslism since 1986. said the phrase, “I’m asexual,” instead telling them that I had no interest in getting married or having children. Understandably so, it was a hard pill for my mom to swallow—she had been envisioning my wedding day and how smart my future children would be for as long as I can remember. Still, in the past few years, she has warmed up to it and now brags to anyone and everyone that my “children” are going to be best-selling books someday. My dad sees me the same as he always has, and he is happy that I’m happy. I now worry less about what anyone else thinks about my sexual orientation—or lack of one—because I have the acceptance and support of my parents, and that makes it a little easier. Telling my family I had been raped four weeks into my freshman year was immensely more difficult, given I was more than 200 miles away with no chance of going home to see them. I broke the news to my sister first because I knew she could provide some insight on how to tell our parents what had happened to me. Her advice had been simple: There would never be a right time to tell them and saying it in person would be best, but what it boiled down to was what I was most comfortable with. I ended up telling my parents that night. They reacted how I expected them to: My mom cried, and my dad was somber and quiet. Explaining why I had waited three years and five months to tell them was just as difficult as telling them about the assault in the first place. At the time it had happened, I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want to relive the incident over and over. I didn’t
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report it because, when the thought to do so occurred to me, I knew it would be Dan’s* word against my own, and I feared that it would make things worse for me. I had feared ridicule, above all things else, from my mom. What I got was her assertion that I could tell her anything, and that this didn’t change her opinion of me whatsoever. In that moment, I felt so much weight, which I hadn’t realized I had been carrying, lift off of me. My best friend has also been a constant light in the darkness as I come to terms with my assault and how it ties in with my sexuality. He was one of the first people I confided in about my assault, and he never once blamed me or shamed me for it, like I feared others might. In a world where one in five women are sexually assaulted in college before they graduate, victims of rape are told that they are “asking for it” based on the length of their skirts or their alcohol consumption. Multiply the fear of hearing that “they were just trying to help you,” or “the only reason you think you’re asexual is because you were raped,” and it all equals up to me not wanting to open up that can of worms. Through the support of my best friend and many of my other friends, I’m more open to talking about it. My name is Blythe Alspaugh. I am a senior at Kent State University studying journalism. I am asexual. I was raped with the intent to “fix” my sexuality. I am not the sum of my assault, and I am not at fault for it. I am not abnormal or unnatural. I am happy.
the burr watches kent evolve After 30 years of being a magazine on campus, The Burr Magazine looks back on how much Kent State has changed. WORDS BY MEG AYSCUE ILLUSTRATION BY THOMAS HAASE PHOTOS BY SAMANTHA KARAM
he Burr took a huge leap, changing from the Chestnut Burr Yearbook to The Burr Magazine in 1986. During those 30 years, a lot has changed between Kent State’s campus and the city of Kent itself.
While countless buildings around campus were renovated to keep up with the times, or due to residence hall fires that seemed to pop up every few years, there are a few structures that came about or changed drastically. In the area of athletics, the biggest structures to mention are the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center (M.A.C.) and Dix Stadium. While it was built in 1952, the M.A.C. Center was renovated in 1992. It received interior renovations, according to kentstatesports.com, such as team rooms, galleries, trophy rooms and the Blue and Gold Club Lodge. In 2006, further renovations brought “a new parquet floor and a pair of video sideboards for replays and graphics.” A new lighting system was installed in 2014, and more updates will be installed in the near future, such as new seating and practice areas. On the far side of campus, Dix Stadium underwent major changes, starting in 1992. An elevator was added to reach the press box and permanent lighting was installed, because even though night games had been played since 1990, the lighting was only temporary. In 1997-98, a scoreboard and artificial turf were added. The stadium was renovated again, with construction beginning in 2007 and completed in 2008. These Phase II renovations included concessions, a new scoreboard, a videoboard, a sound system, additional parking, better entrance/entryways and general aesthetic improvements. There are also several different buildings that were created in the past 30 years in the areas of science. The Science and Research Building was built in 1986, followed by the Mathematical Sciences Building in 1992 and finally, the Liquid Crystals Materials Science Building in 1996. These were all important buildings, especially after Kent State received a Research University II designation in 1994, which is now called a Doctoral/ResearchUniversity-Extensive. Later, some buildings were rebuilt and others were repurposed. While Stopher-Johnson Hall was originally created in 1949, it was demolished in 2004 and reopened in 2006. This project cost $25 million. While the new residence hall was being built, the history
of May 4th was kept in mind. The new buildings were constructed, according to Kent State’s official site, “in the footprints of the original buildings.” Plans for the May 4 Visitors Center were announced in 2008 and the center was opened on the 43rd anniversary of the shootings in 2013. According to thenation.com, “all sixteen deans from every campus pitched in a total of $667,000 of the one million dollar cost of the new Center.” It’s hard to find a building that hasn’t been renovated over the past 30 years, but there are a few that have had more done than others, namely Bowman, Franklin and Rockwell halls. “Some of most of the important changes are the methodical improvements to some of our older buildings to bring them up to modern standards, rather than investing in brand new buildings and letting the old buildings fall apart,” says Thomas Euclide, associate vice president of Facilities, Planning and Operations at Kent State. Bowman was renovated in 1992 for $300,000, and the changes included two computer labs, one large meeting room, 24 faculty offices, two secretarial offices and three administrative offices. In 2015, Bowman’s fire alarm system was replaced; the building also received new windows and roofing. Franklin had a two-year renovation and expansion completed in 2007, which moved the journalism and mass communication majors together into one building. As part of the updates, $2.5 million in equipment was brought in for students. In 1987, the School of Journalism and the Division of Telecommunication in the School of Speech merged to become the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. In 2002, the College of Communication and Information was formed. After the renovations were completed and the JMC school moved, the journalism educators master’s degree program began, the Center for Scholastic Journalism was formed, and in 2013, JMC students and student media had a record-breaking year in “national collegiate award programs,” according to Kent State’s website. Rockwell Hall renovations were completed in 1986 and 1990. While Rockwell used to house the library at Kent State, it is now the Fashion Museum and the School of Fashion building. According to a “Daily Kent Stater” article from 1989, “contractors stripped the building’s interior to its bare structure, including the mechanical, plumbing and electrical fixtures as part of the $4 million project.” “It’s a far more modern campus now than it was then,” says Leonne Hudson, an associate professor of history who has been affiliated with Kent State for the last 30 years. Spring 2016
“We have a lot more new buildings [and] the architecture is a lot different than it was 30 years ago.”
women and minority groups that have been hired, our first female president... all of that was progress at Kent State University.”
The changes to the campus didn’t just affect the landscape, however.
Beyond the campus, the city of Kent has experienced renovations of its own.
“We’ve given the students, through the changes of the campus, more opportunities to make it their home rather than just a place to go to school,” Euclide says.
“That’s one of our shining stars, our downtown,” Hudson says, “because I can remember what it was like 30 years ago... now, and it’s totally different.”
In the past 30 years, Kent State has been progressive: Its LGBTQ Center has been a part of Kent State’s campus since 1971, and Carol Cartwright was appointed the president of the university in March 1991, making her the first female to hold this position at any state university in Ohio.
Before the actual renovation of downtown, several buildings were already undergoing restoration and redevelopment, including the Home Savings Bank and Plaza, Ray’s Place, Water Street Tavern and the Pufferbelly Ltd.
“I think the university itself is more diverse, not only with the student population, but also with the faculty and the administrators as well,” Hudson says. “I can see where we’ve changed in terms of our diversity, in terms of the number of
ROCKWELL HALL IN 1929 (LEFT) AND PRESENT DAY (RIGHT).
“It’s more than just the buildings,” Euclide says, “it’s the entire community.” Seven “clusters” were changed downtown, according to a 2007 Request for Qualifications from Downtown Kent
ALL OF THE NEW BUILDINGS AND RENOVATIONS MADE THE AREA MORE INVITING AND INTERESTING.” Redevelopment Project. First was incremental growth with the Main Street corridor, where the architectural appeal and historical relevance didn’t need to be changed, so only small adjustments were made. Second was parking, which was expanded; third was redevelopment in areas with few buildings; and fourth was the new hotel and conference center. The fifth cluster created a new fire station, city hall, council chambers and police station. The sixth expanded downtown housing; and the seventh anchored and created more flow between the west gate, where Chipotle and Starbucks are, and the downtown area. “We’re now connected by the Esplanade, and what was far off many years ago, is only a few steps away,” Hudson says. The Esplanade was created to connect Kent State students to the downtown area. All of the new buildings and renovations made the area more inviting and interesting. In 2013, all updates and installations were completed. Kent State is still transforming, though. New buildings are being built and other buildings are changing. This includes Dunbar Hall, Korb Hall, Lake and Olson Halls, Tri-Towers and the science buildings.
TOP: THE ESPLANADE BETWEEN THE KIVA AND THE STUDENT CENTER DURING ITS CONSTRUCTION IN THE 1970S (LEFT) AND PRESENT DAY (RIGHT). BOTTOM: BOWMAN HALL IN THE EARLY 1960S (LEFT) AND WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE TODAY (RIGHT).
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*THE OLDER PICTURES ARE FROM THE UNIVERSITY’S DIGITAL ARCHIVE OF PHOTOGRAPHS.
As far as Dunbar, according to the Kent State website, “this project will upgrade the shower and toilet rooms on the second and third floors” to provide “private shower/toilet rooms similar to the facilities installed in both Prentice and Verder Halls.” The project will cost $987,120. Korb Hall, which is also becoming the LGBTQ LivingLearning Community, will have repairs to piping, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems . Room improvements
for Korb include carpeting and the removal of the built-in wardrobe units. The project will amount to $7 million. For both Lake and Olson, several improvements will take place during the summer of 2017. These include carpeting and paint, a new roofing system, and a new, four-pipe system and fan coil units, costing $3.5 million for each hall Tri-Towers’ rotunda is also being upgraded. There will be some remodeling and more space, and should be complete by fall 2017. The building will be occupied during construction, and the project will cost $2.36 million. More work will also be done with the Science Mall, including the construction of a new Integrated Sciences Building (ISB) and the renovations of Cunningham, Smith and Williams halls, “to provide a cohesive approach to science instruction and research space in these areas.” These projects will add up to $80 million. Euclide says another building that is going to be constructed is an international-themed residence hall. “The international population on campus has probably seen the most dramatic change over the years that I’ve worked here,” Euclide says. He goes further, saying that it is important that “international students that are here can also feel like this is a place they can call home.” They hope to break ground on this residence hall over the summer. “The world is much smaller now than it was 30 years ago,” Hudson says. “Kent State understands that we are do not operate in a vacuum—we are part of the whole—and I think it’s very significant that we keep that mindset as we go forward.” Spring 2016
n the first issue of The Burr Magazine, photographers took a cardboard cutout of “a rather curious gentleman wearing a tuxedo” around the city of Kent in a photo essay called “Meet the Pres.” This man was Michael Schwartz, the ninth president of Kent State University. To pay homage to the first issue, The Burr recreated this story with Kent State’s current president, Beverly Warren. President Warren was taken through the day of a typical Kent State student. From wind gusts gliding over her strangely stiff hair as she crossed the K to frappuccino runs at Starbucks, Warren experienced it all—undeniably.
WORDS BY NEVILLE HARDMAN PHOTOS BY JACQUELINE STOFSICK
Warren finds her way to Starbucks. After waiting in a long line and receiving her order, she finds a seat upstairs to enjoy her java chip frappuccino between classes.
Sitting in College Writing II, she listens to instructions about an upcoming paper. Raising her hand, she asks her professor if she can write about running.
Beverly Warren waits for PARTA as the new bus route following the Summit Street construction takes effect. As she climbs aboard, she sits next to a theatre student and discusses the past production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” She’s late to class due to traffic, but her professor doesn’t mind.
With her last class completed, President Warren sits on a bench on the Esplanade. She contemplates going on a run downtown since the weather is sunny. Her back feels pretty stiff after all.
Beverly Warren rides the elevator at the University Library. She exits to the eighth floor to find a book she needs for her research paper.
Beverly Warren orders a slice from Guyâ€™s Pizza and talks to employee Doug Gent while she waits. She blushes when he asks for her phone number, saying they should grab a Hulk at The Loft some time.
kent whispers The Burr proves and debunks myths and rumors about Kent State.
paid summer classes for athletes? WORDS BY JACOB RUNNELS ILLUSTRATION BY THOMAS HAASE MYTH: Student athletes get their summer classes paid for by the athletic department. THIS WHISPER: Kind of True
Student athletes can have their summer courses paid for by the athletic department, but only if they apply for and win scholarships offered by the department.
arizona campus? Kent Designed for Arizona
Associate Athletic Director Greg Glaus says the funds go through both the athletic department and various team coaches. He says it’s at the “coaches’ discretion to figure out what they want to do with their athletic scholarship” funds, and who receives the scholarship.
WORDS BY KELLY POWELL ILLUSTRATION BY THOMAS HAASE MYTH: Kent State University’s Kent campus was designed for a university in Arizona.
“The athletic department and, as a part in athletic scholarships, we do provide them during the academic year and the summer,” he says. “[However], not every student athlete has won a scholarship during the academic year or received a scholarship over the summer.”
THIS WHISPER: False
If you’ve ever watched someone walk into class with a disheveled head of hair or felt the after-effects of an intense beating by some top-speed breezes, chances are you and that student have made it through what is affectionately known as the Kent State wind tunnel at one point or another. This drafty section of campus is located near the campus library and gets particularly gusty on Risman Plaza, continuing into the areas around Eastway Center and the Science Mall. It has remained a mystery why this spot produces Kent’s trademark winds, and one theory proposes that the campus was originally designed for a university in Arizona. Michael Bruder, executive director for Facilities, Planning and Design, says, however, that the campus was never intended for the southwestern state. “There is nothing in our records that indicate anything about it being designed for Arizona,” he says. Instead, the wind can best be explained by simple architectural decisions. “The best explanation of the windy effect is that the library is so tall, accentuating the wind’s effect,” he says. “Taller wind
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affects the building more than gravity or earthquakes.” Bruder says a solution to the speedy currents would be to add a one-story addition to the library, so that the turbulence would happen above the building rather than toward students just trying to make the commute to a lecture hall. “I was a student at Kent in the late ’80s, and the rumor was going around then,” Bruder says. So, rest assured, Ohio citizens; despite what people say, Kent State’s campus was intended only for us.
year and then load up during the summer to become eligible for competitions.” Glaus also said the summer scholarships could cover “up to three to six credit hours,” as well as room and board for those who need it. This myth is partially true because a student athlete can have their summer classes paid for to help them graduate on time or early; however, they have to apply for the funds through the athletic department and must see if their coach can allocate funds from the coaches’ budget before giving a scholarship to the student.
Glaus says one of the athletic department goals is to get student athletes to graduate on time or early, so the department gives priority to students who need summer classes to graduate. A student will “definitely be looked at in a different light,” over another athlete who will take a class “just to take a class.” He also says there’s a fund set up in case students can’t get the financial aid they need. “There’s an extra fund… called the Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund [SAOF], which the NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association] does give to universities each year to athletic departments,” Glaus says. “That’s generally used for student athletes who have exhausted eligibility, and they still need a class or two to graduate.” Glaus says the NCAA did put prerequisites for receiving the SAOF, which require a student athlete to pass a set number of classes, “so that you don’t have a student athlete fail a bunch of classes during the regular academic Spring 2016
12.0 GPA: 4.0
free tuition and 4.0? WORDS BY SAMANTHA ICKES PHOTO COURTESY OF GINA LEONE MYTH: If your roommate dies, you get free tuition or a 4.0. THIS WHISPER: False
No one knows where the legend of free tuition or a 4.0 GPA if your roommate dies comes from, but many colleges across the United States have similar rumors. Jill Church, executive director for Residence Services, says she heard a similar myth during her first year at the University of Dayton. The myth may have originated from the 1998 film “Dead Man on Campus.” In the movie, the grades of two college roommates take a nosedive after they reject their studies to party on the weekends. When they learn of the myth, the duo decides to find someone who is suicidal to room with in hopes of getting a 4.0 GPA to save their failing grades. “I’ve heard about the free tuition thing, but just from other students,” says Madison Doyle, a senior interior design major. Doyle and her friends joke about the myth, not believing it to be true. “I would tell my roommate, if studio kills me, hopefully I’ll die in the room, so she can get free tuition,” she says. Kristoff Haynes, a junior digital sciences major, says he has never heard of the 4.0 GPA myth but has heard of the free tuition rumor. “Most people just talk about it jokingly, though,” he says. “Same thing with getting hit by a campus vehicle and getting free tuition.” Though many students are familiar with this urban legend, Church can confirm it is just that: a legend. Though she says the university will express their condolences, free tuition and a 4.0 GPA are not included.
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black squirrel experiments? Kent Designed for Arizona WORDS BY JAILYN MENEFEE
ILLUSTRATION BY ALEXIS SCRANTON MYTH: Black squirrels were brought to Kent State as a science experiment. THIS WHISPER: False
If you live anywhere in the Kent area, then you know about the small black creatures that run the campus, known as black squirrels. On any given day, you can catch them rummaging through trash, trying to sneak in the windows of the Eastway Center or leaping from tree to tree near front campus. Even though they can be cute and sometimes vicious, many ask where the black squirrels came from. According to kentohio.net, 55 years ago, Larry Woodell, who was the “superintendent of grounds at Kent State University at the time, and M. W. Staples, a retired executive of the Davey Tree Expert Co.,” decided to import some black squirrels. Staples had seen black squirrels on a trip in Ontario, Canada, and the two men decided to try to bring them to Kent. After six months of negotiating with the Canadian government, the two were allowed to bring the squirrels to Kent. The Record-Courier reported that by 1964, up to 150 squirrels lived in the area. There were boxes for food and nesting set up to help the squirrels adjust. For the most part, black squirrels reside in the Kent area, but there have been reported sightings of them throughout Northeast Ohio in places such as in Akron, Warren, Barberton, Cleveland and Canton. If you’re ever wondering how they made their way onto campus, you can thank Woodell and Staples.
WORDS BY JACOB RUNNELS PHOTO BY AMANI WILLIAMS MYTH: The top floor of Taylor Hall is known as the “Lighthouse.” THIS WHISPER: True
Taylor Hall is formally known as the architecture building, but to late-night architecture students and passers-by, it’s also known as the “Lighthouse.” Taylor Hall is called the Lighthouse by students because of its many windows wrapping around the fourth floor, illuminated by lights that guide both people walking by the building and the architecture and interior design students working late into the night on their projects. But the origin of Taylor Hall’s nickname goes all the way back to 1967. Taylor Hall is part of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design but—according to the book “Taylor Hall Dedication”—back in the ’60s, it was a part of the College of Fine and Professional Arts. It was the home to not only architecture students, but journalism students as well. As it is today, the fourth floor served as a drafting room for architecture students. According to “Taylor Hall Dedication,” architecture was relegated to the “upper floors” of the building, with journalism in its “first-floor quarters.” The confirmation, however, lies in the last paragraph of
the penultimate page: “Windows around the entire fourth floor permit the drafting student to view the countryside for miles, and when the lights are on at night, enable the building to serve as a beacon in the center of the campus.” There’s even a published, modern-day reference to Taylor Hall being considered as the Lighthouse. In her thank-you letter to Kent State, published on the Her Campus website on Nov. 23, 2015, senior fashion merchandising major Anhelica Rodriguez advised hypothetical students would, “realize the architecture students never leave their lighthouse (Taylor Hall).” Rodriguez says she originally heard of the Lighthouse during her freshman year, “either through a tour or maybe my RAs.” “I referred to Taylor Hall as the Lighthouse because if you’ve ever walked through campus at night, you can always see the top of Taylor Hall brightly lit,” she says. “Architecture students are constantly working on projects all night long, and since their studio wraps all the way around the top of the building, the term ‘lighthouse’ just came about. Taylor Hall is the Lighthouse of Kent State, though still only confirmed in old Kent State texts as a “beacon” more than a lighthouse. Close enough. Spring 2016
allyn hall ghost?
free late pass?
Kent Designed for Arizona
WORDS BY TYLER HAUGHN
WORDS BY LUKAS KAZMIRSKI
PHOTO BY MARIA CARDILLO
ILLUSTRATION BY ALEXIS SCRANTON
MYTH: There is a ghost in Allyn Hall.
MYTH: If your professor is 15 minutes late, students can leave class without penalty.
THIS WHISPER: True
THIS WHISPER: False
Kent State is known for many different things, most notably the large amount of supernatural events that occur throughout the campus. Most universities have some element of the supernatural, but Kent State appears to have multiple hauntings located throughout the campus. One of these supposed hauntings originates in Allyn Hall. There’s a myth that a little girl named Sarah roams through the residence halls looming corridors, tugging on bedsheets and asking people to play with her. Samantha Gruning, who lives in Allyn Hall, has had a firsthand experience of this very phenomenon. Gruning and her roommate, Sara Connelly, have experienced everything from hearing a ghostly message said with a little girl’s voice, footsteps outside of their door, heavy breathing in the hallway and misplaced items in their room. Gruning says they started noticing these strange things early last semester. “We were both just getting ready to go to bed, and I turned off the light, and I heard this whisper, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. I thought it was my roommate, but she said it wasn’t her,” Gruning says.
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Kent Designed for Arizona
They also heard footsteps outside their door, but when they opened it, there was no one there. The two roommates kept hearing whispers coming from their room, but the worst was yet to come. “One night, I heard someone say, ‘Help me,’ in a little girl’s voice. That really freaked me out, and I didn’t sleep for three days,” Gruning says. She does not know why a little girl’s ghost would be haunting a college residence hall, but she heard that this same little girl may have died when Eastway was being built. This theory seems to be the most popular as to why a little girl’s ghost would be roaming a college. Either way you look at it, there must be some validity. USA Today mentioned the haunting in one their articles about haunted locations in Portage County. “Many of the residence halls at Kent State University are attached to ghostly tales. In Allyn Hall and Clark Hall, which are connected to one another, a little girl can be heard saying ‘Goodnight,’ to people or asking them to play,” the USA Today article says.
For years now, there’s been a rumor going around campus about how students can leave class without a penalty if their instructor is over 15 minutes late. Though nobody is really sure when this rumor began, it doesn’t seem to have too strong of a case.
Other instructors, such as JMC professor Tiffany Alexander, wouldn’t be surprised to find their students missing from class. “If I was late, and I walked in to find at least some of my students gone, I would assume they’d just left, and that would be my fault for not notifying them,” Alexander says.
From the legal and by-the-book standpoint based on university policy Chapter 3 – 01.2, “Administrative Policy Regarding Class Attendance and Class Absence,” there is no official, written policy stating that students will not receive a penalty if they leave class because their instructor is late.
In some instances, professors might decide to skip taking attendance and leave catching up on the lecture to their students; but officially, this rumor is false.
When asked about this issue via email, the Student Affairs office replied, “There is no policy regarding this rule, but it is the responsibility and choice of the instructors to take attendance in their classes.” Though there is no legitimate rule, there may be certain instructors who show leniency.
While sitting in class watching the clock tick for 15 minutes might seem hopeful, it’s not worth it. Though an instructor may be late, if they choose to still give a lecture that day, anyone who left risks receiving both an absence and missing important information.
Communication studies graduate appointee Samyak Moktan says if the rumor has any truth at all, “it would depend on a number of factors,” including how long the class is to begin with, if the instructor sent an email or warning ahead of time, the size of the class and whether or not the instructor takes attendance daily. Spring 2016
13th floor? Kent Designed for Arizona
WORDS BY NEVILLE HARDMAN PHOTO BY SAMANTHA KARAM MYTH: The library has a 13th floor. THIS WHISPER: False
Towering above other buildings, the University Library is one place anyone can look for to know exactly where to go if they’re lost on campus. While buttons on the elevator only give the option to go up 12 levels, some propose an idea of a 13th floor. Upon going onto the top floor, the Special Collections and Archives department, visitors can expect to see items cased in glass in the hallway. This floor contains rare books and unique materials that can’t leave the floor, such as sound recordings and newspaper clippings in the May 4 Collections and papers from former Kent State president Carol Cartwright, for students and people in the Kent community to use. There is a storage unit next to a locked door with a staircase behind it. The staircase actually goes to the roof, says Donna Cravers, a maintenance repair worker. “It’s always locked, and you’re always on camera,” Craver says, gesturing to a black orb in the corner of an opposing wall. Kate Medicus, a special collections cataloger who works on the top floor, says she’s never heard the rumor. The only myth she’s heard students say is there’s a ghost lurking
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because it’s the top floor of the library and an old building, built in the late ’60s. Medicus has never been on the roof before, although she’s caught the view of a bright blue sky when workers shuffled up and down the stairs to fix radio antennas and wanted to go up. Craver says there are also exhaust fans and intakes for fresh air on the roof. “The parapet along the outer edge of the building is not very high,” Medicus says. “If you were up there and it was windy, it’d be pretty scary.” Students, you can gather your friends and go on a hunt for the 13th floor if you wish, but unfortunately, you will only be greeted by a windy rooftop.
the religious misconception Raising awareness about Islamophobia WORDS BY JAILYN MENEFEE
ren’t you scared they’re going to blow up the school?”
That is the question I was asked when I told people in my hometown I would be moving to North Olmsted, a city known for its high Muslim population. Islamophobia is the dislike or prejudice against the religion of Islam and its followers, especially as a political force. This feeling is usually rooted in fear or anger toward Muslims due to stereotypes formed because of situations happening around the world. Islamophobia was on the rise in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has since become an increasingly popular term in media coverage of ISIS attacks globally today, such as the 2015 Paris terror attacks that left 130 individuals dead, according to an online CNN article.
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“I remember getting quite bothered by it—not in the fact that he said it about me, but in the fact that this is someone who is teaching fear, anger, distance, hate to a child,” Lamadanie says. All 50 states and 122 countries are represented at Kent State’s eight campuses. Diversity and acceptance are key components of the university’s brand statement: “We are undeniably Kent State, where open minds lead to broken barriers.” To stay true to that mission, students, faculty, staff and the community should support Muslim students and Muslims living in the community, including their culture.
Fear of ISIS and Muslim culture spread across the United States like wildfire as citizens stood up for Paris. Millions of Facebook users, including me, changed their profile pictures to the Paris national flag and hundreds of articles telling the tale of this tragedy appeared overnight.
Acknowledging that Muslims are wrongfully associated with the extremists who commit these terrorists attacks can be the first step to correcting this “phobia” that has resulted in extreme racism.
According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, out of the 355 mass shooting incidents in the United States
Under the Constitution, Americans are granted freedom of religion, and that includes American Muslims who wish to practice Islam. Muslims should not have to worry about
HATRED AND PREJUDICE ARE NOT INNATE BEHAVIORS—THEY ARE LEARNED. during 2015, Muslims committed only three. Despite this, persecution continues within our borders, like the shooting of three American Muslim students at the University of North Carolina in February 2015. So what are we as a nation doing to combat Islamophobia? Hatred and prejudice are not innate behaviors—they are learned. They are taught through fear and anger, and stories of destruction that stereotype a given race, religion or culture negatively. Amanda Lamadanie, president of the Muslim Student
Association, experienced this firsthand at her workplace. Lamadanie was working at a flea market in Hartville when she overheard a man telling a young child that Muslims are terrorists and are considered bad people. Though she doesn’t remember the exact words the man said, the moment stuck in her mind.
facing prejudice or persecution at work, school or walking down the street. Being Muslim doesn’t make someone a terrorist. I love Indie culture, but that doesn’t mean I am a hippie. I like reading, but that doesn’t mean I’m a nerd. I buy certain brand names, but that doesn’t make me stuckup. I am a Christian, but I can still be friends with an atheist. If you wouldn’t want to be judged by the clothes you wear, your hobbies, the religion you practice, your heritage or the actions of others associated with you, why would you, in turn, stereotype a whole culture of people?
the last shot
WORDS AND PHOTO BY SAMANTHA KARAM
ooking at this picture without any context, you might think Denzel Washington is like any other millennial glued to his phone. But beyond the dimensions of this moment, students are putting in eight-hour nights, weeks of editing and months of dedication to turn their dreams into realities. Washington is an aspiring actor and musician. He plays one of the lead roles in a short film called “Paramnesia,” which was written, directed, produced, filmed and recreated entirely by Kent State students. In just a few moments after I took this photo, the director called “Action,” and Washington transformed from a college student on his cellphone to a wealthy businessman demanding authority.
Unlike digital photography, film isn’t instant. Before you even sit down to edit hours of footage and combine clips into your final product, you have to make the individual parts. Every shot, multiple in each scene, takes at least 30 minutes to set up. Each night of filming “Paramnesia” was 90 percent preparation and 10 percent cameras rolling. While the crew worked to create the perfect setting, Washington and the rest of the cast waited. As the behind-the-scenes photographer, it was my job to capture natural moments like this in a place where people pretend to be someone else.
SENIOR EDITOR SAMANTHA ICKES CONTRIBUTED TO THIS STORY.
NATIONAL AWARDS 2014 ASSOCIATION FOR EDUCATION IN JOURNALISM AND MASS COMMUNICATION STUDENT MAGAZINE CONTEST SECOND PLACE First-Person Consumer Magazine Article Nick Shook, “Head Games” (May 2014) ASSOCIATED COLLEGIATE PRESS 2014 DESIGN OF THE YEAR AWARD SECOND PLACE Yearbook/Magazine Page Spread Rachel Mullenax, “Kent’s Flashiest Cocktails” (April 2014) AEJMC STUDENT MAGAZINE CONTENT 2015 THIRD PLACE Chrissy Suttles, “Two Seconds in Cudell” (April 2015) HONORABLE MENTION Chrissy Suttles, “Nightfall” (November 2014) 2015 NATIONAL COLLEGE MEDIA CONVENTION SIXTH PLACE Best of Show for a Feature Magazine
REGIONAL AWARDS SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS REGION 4 MARK OF EXCELLENCE AWARDS FINALIST Feature Photography Leah Klafcynski, “Unbreakable Bond” (May 2014) FINALIST Nonfiction Magazine Article Carley Hull, “Don’t Sweat the Small Things” (May 2014) FINALIST Nonfiction Magazine Article Chrissy Suttles “Nightfall” (November 2014) Chrissy Suttles, “Two Seconds in Cudell” (April 2015) FINALIST General News Photography Jacob Byk FINALIST Feature Writing Top 20 Matthew Merchant, “Shelter Realities” (February 2015)
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