the EAGLE November 2018
American’s dream Are the payoffs from AU’s construction projects worth the costs? p. 6
theEAGLE November 2018
Delivering American Universityâ€™s news and views since 1925
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Index NEWS 3 Students from low enrollment states reflect on experiences 4 At Glen Echo Fire Department, students seek EMT status; University sets up emergency financial aid fund 5 Students of color seek more campus spaces, housing 6 How massive construction projects will transform pipe system, futures of sciences at the University LIFE 8 South Asian students use fashion to connect with culture 10 Museum director reflects on success of arts at AU 11 Sophomores aim to visit all Subways in D.C.; Top filmmaking tips from students and professors
Staff Writers Aneeta Mathur-Ashton Emily Lytle Ayelet Sheffey Sophie Austin Abbie Veitch Nazli Togrul Emily Seymour Willard West Jessily Crispyn Vincenza Belletti Kelsey Carolan Isabella Goodman Suzanne Harrison Miranda Baumann Evan Margiotta Mohamad Hashash Spencer Nusbaum Justin Wise Catherine Green Hayley Levine Amelia Nickell Delilah Harvey Peyton Bigora Ali Almutairi Andrew Klabnik Jacob Robbins Fatima Albannai Kelly McDonnell
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The Eagle, a student-run newspaper at American University, reports news involving the campus community and surrounding areas. The Eagle strives to be impartial in its reporting and believes firmly in its First Amendment rights.
SPORTS 12 Forward makes return to basketball after medical leave 13 Volleyball player adjusts to AU's political culture OPINION 14 Column: Faculty must be upfront about political views; Column: AU's financial woes take toll on students 15 Column: Media should focus on genuine representation; Staff Ed: Construction prompts accessibility concerns 16 Satire: Report finds AU is least sexually active campus; Crossword: Read the issue to find the answers
Graphic Designers Sydney Felder Samad Arouna Photographers Maya Costanzo Isabel Begelman Matt Hurst Alejandro Irizarry Sami Pye Sophie Lampl Videographers Phoebe Jessup Giorgio Citarella Columnists Samantha McAllister Bobbie Armstrong Lauren Patetta Stephanie Mirah Braeden Waddell Steph Black Emma Greenberg Caeden Cloud Joseph Krassner Leonor Fernandez Nicole Klokiw Riya Kohli
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Campus remains dominated by students from East Coast, data shows by Sophie Austin Staff Writer
Ask AU students where they’re from and you might hear some similar answers: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland or New York. But students from states such as Nebraska, Wyoming, Alaska, Alabama or New Mexico might be harder to find — or virtually non-existent. “I feel like a lot of people have a really weird idea of where I come from,” Isabel Hasselbalch, a junior and native Nebraskan, said. “A lot of them think I’m from a farm and rode a tractor to school.” Hasselbalch’s experience is not unique among students from states with low enrollment numbers at AU. The University’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA) collects data on the number of domestic students from each state who applied, were admitted to and made deposits to the University from previous years. From 2000 to 2017, some of the highest enrollment states, based on the number of student deposits after admission, include east coast states like New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Massachusetts. In addition, Californian students make up a significant portion of the student body. Among the lowest enrollment states based on student deposits were Arkansas, the Dakotas and Alaska. The experiences of students at AU vary based on the number of students from their home state that make up the student body, according to several AU students and faculty. Sivan Menache, a sophomore from rural Pennsylvania, said many students from New Jersey come to AU because “it’s not that far.” Menache said that the Pennsylvania students she has met have mainly been from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, as opposed to rural areas, where Menache is from. “I feel like we should try to make it a little bit more diverse and target people maybe from low-enrollment states,” Menache said. Jeremy Lowe, as the associate director of admissions in AU’s enrollment office, manages the University’s recruitment processes. Lowe visits New Mexico and Puerto Rico to recruit high school students. Although Puerto Rican student enrollment has increased in recent years, enrollment in the U.S. territories and New Mexico have typically been low since 2000, according to data from OIRA. Lowe said the distance between these areas and D.C. is a major reason why there is low enrollment. Jorge Aponte Alvarez, originally from Puerto Rico, is a freshman who has lived in various other locations, such as Colorado, Kentucky and Hawaii, due to his father’s status in the military, he said. “Since I’ve been able to move so much, I have a little bit of each place in me,” Alvarez said. “Each place has made me who I am today.” Alvarez is one of several Hawaiian students who are a member of the AU Hawaii Club, which engages students in celebrating the island’s food and culture. AU Texans, which is headed by sophomore Evan Pfeffer, also targets students from a specific state. The OIRA found that 43 students from Texas made deposits for the fall of 2017, when Pfeffer was a freshman, which is about 2.5 percent of the domestic students in his class. “Some AU students might get the impression that AU Texans club is kind of a right-wing organization, which is absolutely not true,” Pfeffer said of the club’s nonpartisanship. Evan Bowman, a freshman from Mississippi, said that he tries to combat stereotypes about the South, a region that boasts low enrollment at AU. Bowman told The Eagle that an advisor notified him that he was the only student in his class from Mississippi, and the data from OIRA confirms it. “One of the things that pulled me to American so much is kind of escaping the stereotypes that Mississippi has — you know, kind of racist, loud-mouthed, far-right conservatives that are very religious — which is ironic because I’m a far-left progressive Democrat who’s atheist,” Bowman said. Senior Elise Moore, an Alaskan, said that she has not had a negative experience being from a low-enrollment state. “I wanted to start over and not know anybody,” Moore said of her decision to attend AU. On the opposite end of the spectrum of AU enrollment is New Jersey, which, along with New York, often has the highest enrollment. Ken Haltenhof, assistant director of admissions, who recruits students from
AU ENROLLMENT BY STATE of the class of 2021
6 - 20
21 - 50
51 - 100
101 - 150
number of students Not Pictured: Army/Air Post Office (5), District of Columbia (14), Guam (0), Puerto Rico (17), US Virgin Islands (1).
state with the most students
19 8 Data Courtesy American University, based on number of reported deposits recieved. GRAPHIC BY JENNIFER CRONEY / THE EAGLE
northern New Jersey, said that the state is in a “sweet spot distance-wise,” which allows students to go home if they wish on weekends, but still allows them to spend time away from their family. New Jersey’s high enrollment and cyclical turnover helped senior and New Jersey native Jay Wolfson feel more a part of AU student life. “Knowing people that came here—it was definitely a big help, in terms of getting involved,” he said. “I’m in the AU Gaming Club and I probably wouldn’t have gone if not for a friend who I knew from home.” But some students say they have no regrets about coming from a low enrollment state. Hasselbach said she takes pride in where she comes from. “I like being from a unique place,” she said. “There are a lot of people that are interested in knowing about where I’m from and I also feel like I have a totally different perspective.” A longer version of this article can be found on The Eagle’s website. email@example.com
theEAGLE November 2018
Withstanding the heat Students work to earn EMT status at Glen Echo Fire Department by Evan Margiotta Staff Writer
AU students are finding a unique outlet to serve the D.C. metropolitan community: working as volunteers for the Glen Echo Fire Department, just over two miles northwest of campus in Maryland. The station is composed of both career and volunteer firefighters and EMS providers, many of whom are students from campuses across the District. Henry Clapp is a junior at AU who began volunteering at Glen Echo during his freshman year. He said that the experience working for GEFD has been incredibly rewarding. “Wherever you are going to go, it’ll teach you critical decision making, communication skills,” Clapp said. Clapp works with the department’s newest volunteers. He said that following an application process and interview, new volunteers are voted into the department as probationary officers. Probationary officers first take an orientation class taught by Clapp and then begin to ride in the ambulance as an observer. From there, probationary officers work to obtain their Charge EMT status, which allows them to serve as the officer in charge of an ambulance. At GEFD, it generally takes a year for probationary officers to complete the requirements for their Charge EMT Status.
TAAMEEN MOHAMMAD / THE EAGLE
Several AU students have volunteered for the Glen Echo Fire Department in nearby Maryland. While that process can be demanding, Emily Wu, a junior at AU and volunteer at GEFD, looks favorably upon her experience at GEFD. “It changed my life,” Wu said. “The friends that I’ve made are friends that I’ll have for life.” Working in an ambulance is only one of several roles that volunteers at GEFD can take on. Wu is currently part of a fire class and is training to serve as a firefighter at GEFD. “You have access to all the same training that every career firefighter has,” said Clapp, who is on track to become an ambulance driver. “You can be trained to do swift water rescue on the Potomac river or repel down buildings.” According to a report by the National Fire Protection Association, 70 percent of firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers. Out of the close to 40 volunteers that serve at GEFD, more than half are students from the surrounding area.
Many students become involved at the beginning of their college career so that they can finish their training before they graduate, Wu said. “If you are on the fence about it, start thinking about it earlier on, maybe in your freshman or sophomore year,” Clapp said. “If you want to make it one of your priorities, it's going to be an incredibly rewarding experience.” While GEFD requires a two-year commitment, many of the students who became volunteers continue their service after they graduate. Wu plans on pursuing medical school after graduating from AU, but said she will continue to volunteer as long as she can. “Balancing school and fireclass has been difficult, but it's very rewarding,” Wu said. A longer version of this story can be found on The Eagle’s website. firstname.lastname@example.org
AU sets up fund for students who face financial emergencies by Ayelet Sheffey Staff Writer
The struggles faced by former AU student Max Durbin, who could not afford to attend the University after he was cut off from his parents for coming out as transgender, raised a central response from readers: What could the University be doing to help students who run into these types of financial challenges? One answer: giving students grants from the newly created Kerwin Family Emergency Financial Aid Fund. The fund was created to “provide assistance to students whose unmet financial need poses a significant barrier to graduation,” according to a March 2017 issue of American Magazine, the University’s alumni magazine. Students who have been facing financial difficulties were not given access to the fund until a few months ago because the fund was endowed in late 2017, said Mark Story, the University’s director of strategic communications. “Endowed funds sit for a year, collect interest and then universities spend the interest from the fund, usually about five percent,” Story said. Students who had been facing financial difficulties prior to the fund being endowed were not informed of
the fund because “there was no money in the fund and there was not that help even available,” Story said. Durbin, who said he was not told about the fund during his conversations with administrators in the fall of 2017, said in September that he was told almost immediately that he needed to transfer when he explained his situation to the financial aid office. Although the fund is now available for student use, some students who have dealt with financial struggles say they see the need for more options for students in unique circumstances. Zack Pease, a senior in the School of International Service, has been experiencing financial complications since his sophomore year. When he found out that his parents were separating and his dad would no longer help pay for his tuition, he attempted to get loans from the financial aid office. “The problem with getting loans when your parents are just separating is that their taxes are still joined,” Pease said. “My mom’s taxes and my dad’s taxes made it look like my mom had a lot more money than she does.” In order to get the help he needed, Pease had to “climb through the ranks” of the University’s bureaucracy, making the process very lengthy and difficult. Ultimately, a professor helped Pease get the loans that he needed to continue at AU, but he is still in a significant
amount of debt and believes that there should be more options made available to students facing these types of challenges. “It doesn’t seem like there is a lot that AU can do when people have a sudden financial change,” Pease said. While the Kerwin Fund is now available to help students with financial difficulties, the process for how students can obtain grants from the fund is still unclear because the financial aid office has not awarded any money from the fund yet, Story said. There is no application necessary, he added. “The financial aid office reviews all appeals for additional assistance and attempts to leverage all funding at its disposal to meet the needs of students who are appealing for additional assistance,” he said. Both Durbin and Pease said that they recognized the limitations of the University to address financial issues, since most need-based aid comes through the federal government. But they hope to see AU do more for students who face these types of issues. “The AU financial aid counselors were nice, but they can only do so much,” Pease said. “There’s a certain point with certain people when you shouldn’t go by the book.” email@example.com
theEAGLE November 2018
Students of color continue to lead calls for more identity-based spaces on campus Staff Writer
As AU carries out its diversity and inclusion strategy and takes a closer look at improving the University’s campus climate, students and administrators have pushed for the creation of more spaces for students of color. One of the spaces born out of those conversations was the Hub for Organizing Multiculturalism and Equity, or HOME. The space is located on the third floor of the Mary Graydon Center and aims to be a space where students of different identities “can just come and be,” said Fanta Aw, the vice president of campus life and inclusive excellence. But while some students and administrators praise HOME for fostering a sense of community and belonging among students of color, other students say the room falls short of what they think a space for students of color should be. Their complaints range from the small size of the space to how HOME has been marketed to students of all backgrounds rather than to students of color. “HOME doesn’t provide people with a sense of security, with a sense of belonging, when everyone from all types of affinity groups can be there,” said senior Othniel Malcolm Andrew Harris, who has been involved in organizing protests at AU. HOME was created in reaction to racist incidents over the past two years and a reported lack of a sense of belonging on campus, predominantly among students of color. Only 34 percent of African-American students reported that they felt a sense of belonging at AU in a 2017 survey. Prior to the opening of HOME, there was not a space for students of color to build community, said Ayana Wilson, AU’s student activities director. “There were no spaces where students of color felt safe,” Wilson said. Any student can request access to the space by applying on the Student Activities’ website and thus agreeing to the “mission and goal of continuing to foster a sense of community and belonging for our communities of color and allies,” as stated in the application form. “I would say it’s a concept that should expand beyond a single room,” said Michael Elmore, the director of University Center. “When I’m walking around campus, this should be the principle that we’re all living under: basic respect, basic agreement on civility and human rights.” However, some students say that the purpose of the room is lost by making the space open to all students. “I understand why they would’ve opened it to everyone because exclusivity isn’t something that’s really garnered on campus,” sad Sam Liang, a sophomore and finance co-director for the Asian American Student Union. “But it makes it feel like the point of it isn’t there anymore.” Wilson reported that 331 students requested access to HOME last spring, and while data is not yet available for this semester, she said the biggest challenge is making sure students know about the space. “The more students that use it, the more that we can advocate that this is a necessary space,” Wilson said. Several students reported positive experiences at HOME. Danielle Vinales, a senior political science major, said that she often brings underclassmen to the space to “study and chill.” She spends a lot of her free time there, she said. “Communities [have] to learn how to work together and how to hang out together, and HOME was that,” Vinales said. Like Vinales, AU graduate student and former Student Government comptroller Christine Machovec said she often used the space to hang out with friends, do homework or have movie nights while an undergraduate student last year. “Some of my fondest memories of AU were made during my senior year, and many of those memories were made in HOME,” Machovec said in an email. Several students interviewed about HOME said that they were disappointed in the size and location of the space, including Vinales. She would like to see the room expand throughout the third floor of MGC as a multicultural center, like the Multicultural Student Services Center at George Washington University. Elmore said that while the permanent use of space in MGC won’t be finalized until the next strategic plan, the University would push for a larger space if there was demand. “It’s also a matter of convenience,” said Danielle Germain, a junior in the School of Communication. “[The University] stuck us upstairs in the middle of nowhere, and that’s kind of annoying.” The location was chosen for practical and philosophical reasons, Elmore said. The space needed few renovations, was centrally located on campus in a building where most students go for food, was located near other office spaces for multicultural groups
and, ultimately, where space was available. “One of the first things we have to recognize is that the University doesn’t have any space for anything at the moment,” said Rafael Cestero, the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Student Government. Black students continue to call for black house, living-learning community Following racist incidents and a hate crime targeting black students at AU in 2017, many students in the black community pressed the University to create a black house or black space on campus. “What we needed was a large community space that the entire black community could get together and support one another,” said Ma’at Sargeant, a senior who has been an organizer of several student protests at AU. After then-Student Government President Taylor Dumpson helped to launch HOME last fall, several students said they viewed HOME as a response to their request for a black house. “I don’t think [HOME is] meant to check the box saying ‘now our black students have a space, we can move on to another thing,’” Wilson said. “I don’t think it’s ever been advertised like that or marketed like that.” But Germain said that was the perception among many black students. “I understand that they weren’t trying to make it a quick fix or a Band-Aid, but that’s what it looked like to everyone,” Germain said. While the idea of what a black house would look like at AU varied among students who spoke to The Eagle, many students and administrators have pointed to Georgetown University’s Black House as a model. Black House, along with Casa Latina, are physical houses and living learning communities where residents participate in an application process and interview to be selected, according to Vanice Antrum, the program coordinator for the Center for
by Emily Lytle
HOME doesn’t provide people with a sense of security, with a sense of belonging, when everyone from all types of affinity groups can be there. -Othniel Malcolm Andrew Harris, senior
Multicultural Equity & Access at Georgetown University. “The houses contribute to the student experience by creating a space dedicated to creating a welcoming environment to students of color on campus,” Antrum said in an email. Aw said that she is continuing to develop the idea of creating a living learning community for black students, and that the next steps include surveying the interest for a space and comparing that with AU’s inventory of housing. “For the students who had made that request two years ago, their chagrin is that ‘it didn’t happen while I was here,’ and that I can understand,” Aw said. In building a black house and living-learning community, Aw said that it’s important to assess whether other affinity groups may be interested, and whether the University can also respond to that interest. “Because we go to AU, if we give space to one minority group, every single other minority group is going to be marching outside of MGC,” Cestero said. The University used to have “a plethora of identity-based offices” before consolidating these offices into the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Elmore said. CDI was established in 2012 as part of the 2008 strategic plan, and Elmore said it reflected a national trend to organize diversity under a single umbrella. But some students said that they seek a space where they can be with people of their same identity. Harris said he’d like to see a black space that puts on events about the history of black students at American University. “It’s very hopeful for people in administration to want for spaces to be inclusive, but I don’t think at this time in American University’s history – I don’t think that’s happening right now,” Harris said. firstname.lastname@example.org
theEAGLE November 2018
Construction touches all facets of campus life Massive projects will transform pipe system, future of sciences at AU by Willard West and Vincenza Belletti Staff Writers Recent construction efforts on campus aim to cut carbon emissions and create more resources for students, administrators say, but the projects have come with some distinct challenges, including a lack of aesthetic appeal to prospective students and issues with accessibility. Last fall, the University began construction on the expanse of grass beside the McKinley building, known as the Beach, where they replaced outdated steam pipes with energy-saving Low Temperature Hot Water (LTHW) piping. This was the beginning of a $25 million heating renovation plan as well as the first steps taken to build the new Hall of Science. Replacing AU’s roughly 50-year-old steam piping system requires the earth covering those pipes to be removed. The scope of the project is massive: every building on campus must be connected to the new system, according to David Dower, assistant vice president for project management for AU. The next stage of pipe replacements is scheduled to begin in mid-April of next year, while the full project is anticipated to be complete by late 2019, Dower said. “You’re going to see that fence line move around the north side of campus during the next year,” Dower said in reference to the fences around the tornup pathways on the quad. “They’re taking it in phasing.” While the LTHW replacement is costly, it will save AU money in the longrun by reducing the cost of heating buildings with a much more efficient system, Dower added. The project will reduce electricity consumption by 27 percent, save 4.3 million gallons of water, and increase the efficiency of the heating systems by 40 percent. This will minimize the University’s carbon footprint by nearly 50 percent and will save the University around $1.5 million per year in energy costs, said Vincent Harkins, assistant vice president of facilities management. The second major project on campus is the Hall of Science, set to house AU’s biology, environmental science, chemistry and neuroscience departments. Anticipated to be completed in 2020, the new building will be a massive upgrade for the science departments in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), whose current facilities, Dower said, are probably worse “than your high school lab’s.” “There has been significant increase in the sciences both in research and in teaching,” Dower said. “This building will consolidate faculty in Hurst, Asbury and Beeghly into one building.” The building, which will cost the Univer-
theEAGLE November 2018
sity $90 million, is not designed around departments, but rather around the core facilities: the labs. Most of these will be wet-labs, where advanced research and teaching in biology and chemistry can be done, Dower said. From now until next April, the campus community should expect to see lots of cement trucks coming through the back of AU to the Hall of Science, Dower said. From there, only interior and furnishings will need to be added. Challenges faced by staff in accessing buildings Thanks to the projects, construction is a constant in the lives of AU’s students and employees and has touched nearly every aspect of university life. “There have been various alerts and accidents, you know, gas leaks,” Sarah Dumont, executive director of AU Abroad, said. “There was a sewage leak, there was a day when there was no water in the building.” AU Abroad’s office is located in the Sports Center Annex adjacent to the Hall of Science construction. Since the start of the fall semester, AU Abroad staff has been forced to work from home twice due to construction-related issues with the building. “We’ve been a building site ever since they started with the SIS building years ago, and then there was the SOC building, then the dorms and now this,” Dumont said. “You sort of feel like this is never ending. I’m used to the little beeps and the sound of trucks. It doesn’t even register in my brain anymore.” Dumont said that Harkins and his team have been very responsive to her requests to address issues with accessing her office. “Regretfully, there literally is no other way to do this,” said Dower, in reference to the LTHW project. “Although I suspect there are many people on campus that don’t feel this way, they’re desperately trying to minimize the impact to you folks on campus.” How AU Ambassadors has adjusted the pitch to prospective students A main attraction of AU to prospective students in the past has been the University’s arboretum-esque campus. With construction taking over the lower half of the quad, one of the more visually appealing parts of campus, AU Ambassadors, the tour guides that take prospective students around the University, have had to adjust their approach in drawing in prospective students. Tyler Sanders, a junior and a tour coordinator for AU Ambassadors, explained the challenges that come with maneuvering construction with prospective students. Sanders said that at the beginning of summer, Facilities Management sent himself and his co-tour leader, Loie Faulkner, a colored map of where all the construction would be and when, allowing them to plan out this year’s route and make it as disability-accessible as possible. Despite this, the prominence of construction on the quad and around freshmen dorms makes it impossible to avoid completely. Sanders uses this opportunity to discuss AU’s efforts towards carbon neutrality. “I really appreciated after the first couple of weeks when AU put up little green sustainability signs which advertise the 40 percent increase in efficiency,” Sanders said. “That’s huge for us as we explain to parents that this is something that is good for the school.”
an AU professor and director of the Disability Rights Law Clinic at the Washington College of Law. The main problems faced by the both the University and its students and faculty during long periods of heavy construction are those caused to people with mobility-related disabilities, Dinerstein said. “Normally you have to provide either equal access through the same mechanism, so through the same doorways and those kind of things, or if that’s not feasible and it’s not new construction, some reasonable alternative,” Dinerstein said. “So that in the end, the result is that people have as equal access as they can under the circumstances.” Rachel Abraham, a sophomore majoring in CLEG, has pulmonary hypertension, a condition where the blood vessels in her lungs are too small. The condition makes physical activity more difficult because it takes longer to oxygenate her body. Abraham said that because of how much construction is occurring at the same time, it takes her double the amount of time it usually takes her to get to class because she has to accommodate for different and sometimes more strenuous routes, making her late to class. Rebekah Ginsburg, a senior in the School of International Service, has a condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis, a type of arthritis that affects the spine and major joints and causes mobility problems and chronic pain. She said that someone who needs to use a handicap-accessible ramp to the bus stop outside the south campus dorms would have to walk all the way in front of the library and back towards the health center because construction has blocked off the ramp on the curb that would take you straight to the bus. “Awareness with trucks parked over cross walks and ramps is key,” Ginsburg said. “That’s something that’s super easy to fix and would be easy to not have a problem in the first place. It’s so easy to move your truck five feet forward or backward and not park over the only accessible crossing.” Dower recognizes the current situation is not ideal, and said that administration still plans to retrofit Hurst and EQB with a Mary Graydon Center-style ramp on the front after the Hall of Science is completed. Additionally, ramps and elevators will be improved in older buildings like Asbury and Beeghly. Putting elevators in these older buildings requires a reprogramming of the whole building, Dower said. While there are plans to do this, it was not feasible during the hot water project, he said. “The hot water project was coming through and you couldn’t get the cart before the horse,” Dower said. A longer version of this article can be found on The Eagle’s website. email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Limited accessibility on campus The University has also made adjustments to campus buildings and pathways to make them more accessible for people with physical disabilities. Dower said administrators spent this past summer working to add accessible features around campus. “We completed an accessibility assessment on all the buildings about three years ago, so we know where all the issues are and we’ve been systematically going about trying to take them off the list,” Dower said. While making certain minor accessibility improvements over the summer, such as adding two locations for people to park wheelchairs near the amphitheater, AU also started the LTHW project, which has affected access around campus dramatically. If construction causes an unreasonable inconvenience to or stigmatization of people with disabilities, the temporary fixes and re-routes implemented may be deemed unacceptable under the law, according to Robert Dinerstein,
GRAPHICS BY SYDNEY FELDER / THE EAGLE
The fabric of South Asia: How students use fashion to connect with their culture South Asian Student Association hosted Jalwa fashion show to celebrate cultural ties through clothing by Emaan Khan Style Editor
Students clad in vibrant lehengas, saris and kurtas alike filled the Tavern on Oct. 19 for “The Royal Jalwa,” an event hosted by AU’s South Asian Student Association. Students who walked the runway of the event’s fashion show wore colorful garments, jewelry pieces and sequined shawls that represented distinct elements of their culture. Lehenga Janvi Sai, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, chose to wear a lehenga decorated with orange, yellow and pink. Sai said a lehenga is an embroidered twopiece outfit, a skirt and a blouse, often complimented by a dupatta, a long scarf. “The dupatta for the lehenga was silk. Banarasi silk, I think,” she said. “I was wearing golden ruby jewelry as well. The outfit and the jewelry were both from Hyderabad; it made me nostalgic.” Sai said she grew up with these clothes. Her mother often designed costumes for her Bharatanatyam performances, an Indian classical dance form based on a Hindi concept called “Natya Shastra.” Dancers would typically wear long, pleated costumes embellished with embroidery. For these performances, Sai said she would wear her embroidered costume, paint on her hands, bells on her ankles and jasmine flowers in her hair. Sai’s mother would design intricate costumes through needlework and chose accessories to match. “When it comes to haute couture, South Asian clothing may not come to people’s minds,” Sai said. “My mother’s designs changed the game and fueled my fascination for South Asian clothing.” Sari Syeda Siddiqi, a junior in the School of International Service, wore a sari to Jalwa. A sari is considered traditional Indian dress, made up of long pieces of cloth and fabric. Wanting to make her outfit a bit sultry, she chose a red and black garment and gold jewelry pieces to match. She said that these events and these clothes are some of the ways she maintains connection with her culture. The sari can be traced back to Tamil poetry, which described women in elegant
gowns and wraps. It eventually made its way to North and South Indian fashion. There are many legends about the creation of the sari. One suggests that a weaver daydreamed about a beautiful woman while using his loom. Due to his absent minded daydreams, he kept using his loom until he realized that the garment had become yards long. Kurtas A kurta is a long garment worn usually by men, while women typically wear kurtis. Kurtas and kurtis are worn throughout South Asia, in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Nepal, just to name a few. The main discrepancy between the two is based on the length of the garment. Kurtas and kurtis can vary in length, typically near the knees. They can be dressed up or down worn with a churidar, salwar or a more modern pair of jeans. A churidar is a trouser that is more tight, similar to leggings. The salwar, on the other hand, is looser and a bit baggy. Tikkas Sai wore a tikka to the event, a headpiece made of gemstones such as ruby or gold. Maang tikkas are used as accessories for brides as well. Hindu mythology writes that this spot on the forehead is a “third eye” resting on the sixth chakra, which holds power of concentration and emotion. However, tikkas are now becoming an accessory that is worn at many events to evoke fashionability or elegance. Sai said that South Asian fashion represents the diversity that exists in the wide region. With the many subcultures, peoples and languages in South Asia, Sai said, comes various styles and forms of clothing. She said that the lehenga she wore to perform with her dance group could be considered more North Indian. “I also wore a lehenga because I’m fascinated by South Asian history and how lehengas date back to the Mughal era,” Sai said. “I find South Asian clothing to be a reflection of our history and heritage.” Nostalgia often occurs for Sai during these events. The clothing frequently reminds her of her memories in India and the city of Hyderabad. Sai said she then grew up in a primarily-white town that did not offer many opportunities for this
kind of expression. “I’m appreciative of the experiences that I’ve had with South Asian culture at AU because I didn’t really have that back home. I had to make it for myself. I was really among the only people of color or even South Asians in my high school in my town,” Sai said. “I was always constantly being told by peers and teachers, that they wanted me to assimilate, and it was kind of this problem that they had with me. But no, I'm going to embrace what's different about me and my culture.” Students say that AU is not exempt from this type of South Asian erasure. In October, a group entitled Viva Kultura visited Kay Spiritual Life Center for a show about “Hinduism and Indian culture.” Many students were upset by Viva Kultura’s inclusion of several non-South Asian dancers in their performance. Maya Krishnan, the president of the South Asian Student Association, published an opinion piece in The Eagle shortly after the event criticizing the group and the University for allowing them on campus. “AU does not have a large South Asian population, and there is minimal representation of South Asian culture in academia and coursework, even within curriculum of courses hosted in the School of International Service,” Krishnan wrote. “With such little representation, whatever exposure there is needs to be accurate.” Siddiqi said that events such as Jalwa are integral for herself and other students at AU, as there are not many opportunities to celebrate South Asian culture through fashion, music and dance. “It’s important that we refuse South Asian invisibility on campus,” she said. “It reminds us that our culture is important.” email@example.com
GRAPHIC BY JENNIFER CRONEY / THE EAGLE PHOTOGRAPHY BY TAAMEEN MOHAMMAD
ALEJANDRO IRIZARRY / THE EAGLE
Jack Rasmussen, the director and curator of the AU Museum at the Kazten Arts Center, has made it his mission to bring socially and politically engaged artists to AU.
Standing out from the pack How Jack Rasmussen has taken the AU Museum at Katzen to new heights by Dilpreet Raju
Arts and Entertainment Editor
Jack Rasmussen is the University’s central figure in the D.C. arts scene, due in large part to his role as the director and curator of the AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center. But Rasmussen’s contributions to the University and Washington communities don’t stop there. From earning two master’s degrees in arts management and anthropology at AU to orchestrating the inner workings of the museum since its foundation almost 15 years ago, Rasmussen has devoted much of his life to AU and its arts scene. Since he started in the position, he has worked to set up the museum to thrive, incorporating art from a variety of genres and countries while making sure to stay relevant amongst its peers in the crowded D.C. museum scene. Rasmussen said he believes being in D.C. is often a pivotal aspect of his approach to art curation. He said he makes the most of his political setting. “I'm kind of a political junkie, so I like it,” Rasmussen said. “I think the main thing about Washington is that it's a great city of museums so we have to somehow distinguish ourselves amongst this incredible neighborhood of museums, and doing socially and politically engaged artists is a way of doing that.” Another way Rasmussen has taken to diversifying the showcases has been through the recent acquisition of over 9,000 works from the Corcoran Gallery of Art. “The Corcoran museum closed and then we get the lion's share of their collection which is a huge, huge responsibility and opportunity,” he said. With AU’s standing as the most politically active campus in the country, according to the Princeton Review, there is room for the arts to get involved and do their part, Rasmussen said. He said the museum is pull-
ing its weight to help AU earn such a title. “I was very happy to see that the University has regained its number one ranking as the most politically involved campus,” Rasmussen said. “I think that's something that we do our part with and it's the fact that we have the freedom to do it.” Kristi-Anne Shaer, associate director of the AU Museum, knew Rasmussen before she began working at the museum as an AU student taking courses on art curation. For the past five years, Shaer said she has worked closely with Rasmussen to curate the museum and offer up a new perspective. “As a manager, he really lets you find your way,” Shaer said. “He fosters an environment where we all feel like our opinion matters and we can present new ideas.” Outside of work, Rasmussen also plays another role: the frontman of “The Artifacts,” a cover band that includes some other familiar faces from the University, including College of Arts and Sciences dean Peter Starr, the AU athletic director Billy Walker and Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations Courtney Surls. Starr has known Rasmussen since Starr’s arrival at AU in 2009. He believes Rasmussen’s efforts are a vital part of AU’s campus and its arts scene. “He is, really, a catalyzing force for the museum and he is beloved across this city,” Starr said. “The depth of admiration and respect that people in the Washington art scene have for him is just extraordinary.” Rasmussen’s attention to detail and care for the museum is the reason he has become such a prominent name in the DMV arts scene, according to Shaer. “I think that has really made a name for himself in a city full of museums by having such a rigorous exhibition schedule so the exhibitions rotate constantly,” Shaer said. “There's always a reason to come back in here and see something new, but you're going to see something different - you're going to see a lot of D.C. artists which many other institutions aren't catering to.”
Rasmussen said his focus for Katzen is in three different areas: political art, local art and international art. He has a great deal planned out for the museum, including potentially adding a print room on the second floor and introducing more of the historic pieces the museum has recently obtain. Starr believes Rasmussen is the right man for the job, leading the museum and D.C.’s art scene altogether. “We're really just beginning the next stage of development. Jack is really the right person to lead us into that next stage,” Starr said. Rasmussen sees the AU Museum as not only valuable to the art scene but all students. “I would hope they would see this as a great resource,” Rasmussen said. “A lot of what we do, I think it's pretty relevant to their lives. They can get something out of it. I think it's innovative and challenging and I would hope that they would get excited by it.” As for students who aren’t interested in art or have an aversion to it, he believes that the answer is simply exposure. By being open to new experiences, students can get a better grasp of what they do and do not like. “The main thing with art is you need to be open to what you're experiencing,” Rasmussen said. “I mean it's not as bad as, you know, trying to understand physics. It takes exposure and a certain kind of openness.” He understands the difficult concepts surrounding modern art but he believes students ought to lean into that notion. “By definition, contemporary art is going to be something you haven't seen before,” Rasmussen said. ”It's going to not be what you were expecting, so you have to really roll with that. I would hope students will be able to do that.” firstname.lastname@example.org
theEAGLE November 2018
Meet the sophomores behind the Instagram-account-turned-business ‘A Subway Series of Pics’ by Kelly McDonnell Staff Writer
“You’ve been hungry past 9 p.m. And what do you do?” sophomore Frank Piscani asked. His business partner, sophomore Will Goldman, was quick to jump in: “You go down to that gleaming yellow and green light … It’s being that father-figure and feeding all of us. That’s what Subway is on this campus.” Piscani and Goldman run the Instagram account-turned-business “A Subway Series of Pics,” or ASSOP. The two friends started the account last year as a joke, but it has now turned into a serious venture for the two AU students. “We thought it was ironic that there was a Subway on campus and then one in Tenleytown,” Piscani said. “We came up with this idea to go to every Subway in the D.C. area.” There are 76 Subways in the District, and, as of Nov. 8, the pair has gone to 41 of them, traveling across the District’s wards on adventures they call “Sub-runs.” The first post on their Instagram is from Oct. 1, 2017, featuring AU’s Subway location. Since then, the page has gained over 400 followers. Goldman said that the page’s
69th follower was Subway’s official account. “That was our initial goal, to get Subway to follow us,” Goldman said, “but that happened pretty quickly.” The two students have become walking brand representatives for Subway. During their interview with The Eagle, they wore matching uniforms: a black Subway visor and a forest green polo with “Subway” stitched on the left-side over their hearts. The pair sells their own Subway merchandise, consisting of Redbubble stickers with clever phrases such as “Subwonk.” Goldman and Piscani both wanted to get more involved in the D.C. community. The University puts an emphasis on “D.C. immersion,” Goldman said, “seeing the city and interacting with different types of people, places,” and that’s what their Instagram account has allowed them to do. ASSOP has also started an initiative called “ASSOP Spotlight.” Goldman and Piscani want to partner with other oncampus organizations, students or other members of the D.C. community to promote their activities and efforts. “We want to support our community,” Piscani said. “There are a lot of impressive people doing a lot of impressive things,
MAYA COSTANZO / THE EAGLE
Frank Piscani, left, and Will Goldman, right, are on a journey to visit and document all 73 Subway locations in Washington D.C. and we should highlight that.” dent’s familiar sensation of late-night For Goldman and Piscani, the idea of hunger -- a feeling that can only be reempowering and spotlighting others is solved with Subway. summed up by the word “SubLove.” The “‘SubLove’ is what makes ... our comterm was originally used by Subway, but munity active,” Goldman said. “We can ASSOP has adopted it as their “mantra,” ignore our differences.” Piscani said. “SubLove” is about creating a com- A longer version of this story can be found munity regardless of differences between on The Eagle’s website. people, Piscani said. To the two organizers, it all comes down to every AU stu- email@example.com
Want to be a filmmaker? Put in the work outside of class, students and professors say The best advice from AU’s film students and professors by Ali Almutairi Staff Writer
Within the School of Communication, aspiring filmmakers can find an extensive amount of resources, including events with acclaimed filmmakers and mentorship from professors. But film majors and professors stress that while the school offers a great amount of opportunities, filmmakers have to put in work outside of class to make the most out of their AU experience. Laura Snyder, a senior majoring in film and media arts, said that her best advice for her classmates and other upcoming filmmakers is to take what they learn in the classroom and explore it in their own personal projects. “American University does a wonderful job at giving students the tools they need to succeed, but it’s up to you to make
your passions blossom,” Snyder said. One way to accomplish this goal is attending or submitting to local film festivals in D.C. One of the festivals students can enter is FilmFest DC, which is set for April 25 to May 5. The festival screens films from all around the world and encourages new voices, allowing students and young filmmakers to engage with different film techniques and showcase their own work. Michael English, the managing director of content at Maryland Public Access and a SOC professor, thinks that those who want to go into the film business need to master basic skills first. “One of them is learning what makes a good story interesting, relevant and timely,” English said. “Another is knowing how to tell the story in a way that is honest and accurate. That is an important obligation we have to the public.” English went on to suggest that stu-
dents read others’ published writing, watch as many documentary films as they can and take a basic journalism course in order to tell stories in a responsible and ethical way. Researching different films and techniques are essential, but it’s equally important for student filmmakers to take their time, students say. Dhara Brown, who studies foreign language and communication media, said that based on her own experience, the most important thing she’s learned while at AU is that it is important not to rush into production. “The amount of time and effort you put into research, writing, and planning will pay off in production and allow you to spend that time on cinematography rather than troubleshooting,” Brown said. One of the ways to see how production works practically is American Television, or ATV. Meredith Bartley, co-manager of ATV and a senior majoring in film and
media arts, said that the student-run television station provides hands-on experience that majors usually do not get until later in their program. “ATV really has been the best thing I could’ve gotten involved in, because it gives you access to equipment, space and mentors right off the bat,” Bartley said. Bartley said that ATV also provides experience for students who are not film majors but are interested in production. She and other students stressed that filmmaking is a collaborative experience that allows people to work together on a central goal. “My favorite thing is that at almost any time of the day, you can be editing or filming a project and there will be somebody there to answer any questions you might have or help you get unstuck,” Bartley said. firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming full circle
Forward Yilret Yiljep makes his return to men's basketball after medical leave by Mohamad Hashash Staff Writer
His journey began in Kaduna, Nigeria. Yilret Yiljep – known by his teammates and friends as “YY” – played for the Nigerian U-16 national basketball team. He then moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania to play in high school and was recruited by AU during his senior year. The 6-foot-7 forward took the court for 13 games his freshman year, averaging 2.5 points per game, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists in the 2013-2014 season. But that all came to a grinding halt during his 13th game as a freshman. Yiljep began to notice that something was not right. Thirteen minutes into the game against Holy Cross, Yiljep said he found it harder and harder to breathe. He had recorded four points, three rebounds and two assists before coming out. “The symptoms were shortness of breath and instant fatigue,” Yiljep said. “I was getting tired after a couple of seconds.” The diagnosis came shortly after: cardiomyopathy. Yiljep’s season and undergraduate career were cut short due to the heart condition, which makes it difficult for the heart to deliver blood to the rest of the body. “It was really tough to take in because basketball means a lot to me,” Yiljep said. “But I had great teammates and a very supportive coaching staff as well. Applying myself in a different role and trying to help the team as much as I could and being as involved as possible really helped me ease the pain.” Mike Brennan, the head coach of AU men’s basketball, said Yiljep took on the role of a student coach and mentor. “He was helping young guys through practice and working with them on things that he had been working on, and he continued to be a strong voice in the locker room,” Brennan said. Yiljep said his time as a student coach allowed him to see the game from a different perspective. “I was telling the guys what I saw from the bench and what they needed to work on,” Yiljep said. They valued my opinion.” Yiljep’s life moved on outside of basketball. He graduated in 2017 with a degree in business administration and found a job in nearby Chevy Chase. But his ability to work out and play the game he loved was still limited. “I was told to dial everything down,” Yiljep said. “I could shoot jumpshots, but I couldn’t do anything to the point of exhaustion. Everything I did was monitored. I had to keep my heart rate under a certain level.” But last fall, Yiljep found out some surprising news: doctors told him his heart was in good shape. He no longer had to work out with restrictions and, best of all, he could
play basketball again. “I was overwhelmed, I was so happy,” Yiljep said. “Since I found out about the diagnosis, I had been living with caution every day. Every day when I was going up the stairs and my heart rate goes up, I got scared that maybe my heart was going to fail. Every day I had to take heart meds, and it was a constant reminder that there was something wrong with my heart.” On Oct. 1, Yiljep was medically cleared to resume all athletic activities and compete for the Eagles in the 2018-19 season as a graduate student. The NCAA and the Patriot League approved a waiver request from AU that granted Yiljep an additional season of eligibility given his special circumstances. Yiljep said that no longer having to take daily medication and knowing that he can participate in physical activity without restrictions has been liberating. Playing basketball, he added, is “just another huge bonus.” Brennan, who has known Yiljep for over five years, said he was happy to see the forward get his playing opportunity back. “It’s a big blow to a young kid when your whole life is basketball and then it’s taken away,” Brennan said. “The maturity level back when this happened, for a kid that young to handle this adversity as well as he did, and to continue to be such a positive influence speaks to who he is.” Since he has been away from the hardwood for over three years, Yiljep is primarily concerned with his physicality entering his final season. He said that getting back in shape for the season was “a race against time.” What’s most important to Brennan is that Yiljep goes out and has a good time in his final season at AU. “I want him to go out there, have fun, play hard and do the best he can,” Brennan said “I think if he does that, he’ll have a big impact on our team.” In AU’s season opener at George Mason University on Nov. 9, Yiljep showed signs that he could play consistent minutes for the Eagles this year. He not only started the game against the Patriots, but was on the court for 21 minutes, notching a steal and a block for the Eagles in their 78-75 overtime win. Yiljep said that not being ostracized by the team after he was forced to sit out season after season and surrounding himself with understanding people has driven him throughout his journey back to the court. “This all just reminded me of how much I love the game of basketball,” Yiljep said. “Having it taken away from me was a challenge that I never quite got over, and getting the opportunity to play again makes me realize that dream.” “A part of me felt like it was missing when I wasn’t playing, and now being able to play again, I feel more complete.” email@example.com
Photos courtesy of Yilret Yiljep
Yilret Yiljep, pictured in high school and graduating from AU in 2017, is playing out his NCAA career as a graduate student after being sidelined by a heart condition.
theEAGLE November 2018
JACK GETMAN / THE EAGLE
Senior Kennedy Etheridge, #12 in above photo, said she has had to adjust to the University's political culture after moving to Washington from conservative Kansas.
On the outside looking in How volleyball setter Kennedy Etheridge has navigated AU’s political environment by Hayley Levine Staff Writer
When senior volleyball setter Kennedy Etheridge arrived at AU in 2015, she encountered typical challenges that any incoming freshman athlete faces, including adjusting to the team atmosphere and a busy schedule. In addition, Etheridge was far from home. Growing up in Overland Park, Kansas, Etheridge originally wanted her college to be close to her parents so they could come to her games. Members of her family attend University of Missouri, the University of Kansas and Kansas State, and she hoped to join them. “AU is against everything I initially wanted in a school,” Etheridge said. “I wanted a big-name school, big conference like SEC, Big 12, Pac-12.” Once she came to AU, Etheridge faced another challenge: adjusting to AU’s liberal political culture. Etheridge’s upbringing has shaped her political views and she is conservative with views similar to those of President Donald Trump, she said. “That’s probably been one of the hardest things to adjust to here,” Etheridge said “I stand behind my views to the nines.” Etheridge said her home life influenced her views, and both her parents and grandparents are conservative and pro-Trump. She knew that coming to AU meant that her views were going to criticized because they were unpopular, and it has shaped her academic experience substantially. “Going here has certainly been difficult when it comes to school and classes because everyone is liberal, everyone shares that view, and then there’s me who’s just alienated,” Etheridge said. Etheridge said she isn’t opposed to changing her mind and said she has been willing to listen to other opinions. She has, for example, changed her views on gay marriage since arriving at the University. “Before I came here, I was [anti] gay marriage and then I got here and matured in general over time,” Etheridge said. “Being here has made me less strict on my beliefs, I’m willing to listen to people more.” As Etheridge’s own teammates learned more about her, they didn’t shy away from her different opinions. Instead, they embraced them and wanted to understand her views more. Their discussions didn’t create animosity in the locker room,
and they allowed everyone’s opinions to be respected, Etheridge said. She did say she has debated with some girls on the team. Their discussions touch on topics outside of politics that spark even more intense debate. “One time on a bus trip, we had a two-hour debate about whether cheerleading should be considered a sport. It’s heated because our team is super competitive, but it’s healthy,” Etheridge said. While her teammates are more accepting of her views, her classmates haven’t been as accepting, Etheridge said. “When Trump was elected … there were riots on campus, someone burned someone with a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat,” Etheridge said. “I was scared, I actually got my life threatened in one of my classes last year. The past two years have been rough.” She’s felt similarly about professors, too, describing one incident in which a professor gave her a negative look when she shared that she watched the presidential debates to support Trump. “There have been a few classes where I’ve had to email professors because we spent three hours hating on Trump and I’m not here to do that, even if it was hating on Hillary Clinton, that’s a waste of a class period for me,” Etheridge said. She strongly feels that protesting events happening in the country shouldn’t affect actions taken during the playing of the national anthem at sporting events. Her vocal support of America’s military and armed forces influences this view wholeheartedly, she said. “People who disrespect the president, disrespect the country. If the president wants to commend you for winning a championship, that’s nothing about politics, that’s the president awarding you for your service,” Etheridge said. Still, Etheridge has seen the potential for civil discourse through discussions with her teammates about political issues. “It’s healthy, we all respect each other, we are all closer,” Etheridge said. “It’s easier to respect each other’s opinions when we’ve known each other and know where the person is coming from.” firstname.lastname@example.org
Faculty should be upfront about their personal political views Classroom dialogue can benefit from increased transparency of professors’ political views
by Riya Kohli
Politics are omnipresent at AU. The University’s location, the active student body, The Princeton Review’s ranking and a variety of other factors support the conclusion that separating politics from an AU education is impossible. This unique experience of learning in Washington is only enhanced by our affinity for politics. I believe that this is overwhelmingly positive. If the age group with the lowest voter turnout is college students, then it is essential that we preserve this value and do our part in positively affecting
voter participation. I am a freshman in the School of Public Affairs. SPA is AU’s hub for domestic politics, seamlessly tying its courses to political discussions. Students are encouraged to hold an opinion and defend it with rhetorical skills taught throughout their educational experiences. Issues arise, however, when professors are not transparent about their own views. In high school, teachers are encouraged or mandated to keep their opinions to themselves, but the same rule does not apply to college professors. I believe that professors should use this academic freedom to enhance their classes by being upfront with their political ideologies. It’s no secret that AU and a multitude of college campuses across the nation are largely liberal, and that this dynamic can create a potentially hostile environment in the classroom. When students and professors alike make both subtle and overt jabs at the purported invalidity of conservative ideals, it alienates a conservative minority. If you are a student with
pro-life views sitting in a class with 40 other students laughing along to a joke the professor made about being pro-life, it can become an isolating and uncomfortable experience. The environment that exists in SPA classrooms today is negative due to this oversight. It is counterintuitive to have a group of students feeling scared to offer their opinion in class for fear of being attacked by their peers and professors. The only way to combat this is to have everyone be as upfront and tolerant as possible. Professors, with their authoritative positions in the classroom, should lead by example by being clear about their own political views and promote an environment of tolerance in their courses. Professors should support the students with unpopular opinions who have sufficient arguments to back their statements up. If professors make it clear what their own views are, it eliminates room for politics to influence their classroom in a negative way. Instead of making jokes about the Trump administration, they could offer it as an example and explain why they believe it might have failed in some respects. Ultimately, this transparency concerning
political views provides a comfortable way to engage in debate. To be clear, I don’t think students should be coddled. Debate should be rigorous and challenging across all classes. Still, it is important for students to know that their ideas are valid and respected. No one should have to feel ashamed of their opinions — unless they’re Nazi sympathizers — and the only way to ensure that does not happen is to be transparent. Political debates at their core are about what’s best for our nation, so even if you can’t agree with what someone believes, you have to agree with this fundamental value. It is essential that we all do our part to ensure that every voice on this campus be heard. Riya Kohli is a freshman in the School of Public Affairs and a staff columnist for The Eagle. email@example.com
Stop taking (more of) our money Despite consistent and justified complaints about AU’s price tag, the University is barely breaking even
by Braeden Waddell Staff Columnist
After the introduction of the Student Government referendum to raise the student activity fee from $88.50 to $100 per semester for each student, one question immediately came to mind: Why the hell does this University need more of our money just to adequately fund the programs they offer on campus? AU’s estimated $65,000 in fees, tuition, housing and meal plans for incoming students is already $15,000 more than the average private university in the U.S., according to a survey by the College Board in the 2017-2018 academic year. The idea that the University would try to solve the historic lack of funding
reported by several clubs on campus by charging students even more is ridiculous. How can it be that the extra $11.50 per semester couldn’t be repurposed from somewhere else in the tens of thousands of dollars that each student pays every year? Here’s the answer: as absurd as it sounds, AU is pretty much broke. According to the “Budget from the President” outlining expected expenditures and revenue for AU’s 2018-2019 fiscal years, the University just barely breaks even on the cost of maintaining the school and the money the school brings in. Despite consistent criticism of AU’s high tuition and housing fees, they appear to be the only thing keeping the University afloat. In the budget report, the 2018 fiscal year’s revenue and expenses both were projected to equal $683.6 million. According to information collected by College Data, AU’s endowment is significantly less than that of George Washington University or Georgetown University. At around $620 million, AU has about a third of the invested funds of the other two universities. The only reason that AU’s budget
is expected to increase for the 2019 fiscal year is by raising the costs of meal plans, housing and tuition for incoming students. In the last three years, the total cost of the academic school year for incoming freshmen has increased by over $5,000 and is expected to increase by another $2,000 in 2019. AU’s total budget is almost entirely sustained by tuition and student fees, with more than three-quarters of the University’s revenue coming from students. As for expenditures, the University puts nearly half of its money into its staff, and divides the rest into supplies, financial aid and various campus services. At a high-power university striving to compete with other privates colleges in D.C., our administration has a responsibility to devote the same time and resources to programs that currently exist on campus as it does to the big projects and plans for its future. It appears that AU may be overextending itself to be competitive, at the cost of the satisfaction and accessibility for new and current students. AU fails to address the needs of incoming and currently enrolled students that have repeatedly demanded that the University work harder to make the school affordable. How will students benefit from
the University’s plans if no one can afford to come here? The 2018-2019 budget includes a recognition of the impact that rising tuition has had on students, immediately followed by a note that tuition will increase by 3.3 percent each of the two fiscal years. Acknowledging an issue means nothing if the University isn’t willing to do something about it. The AU Board of Trustees met in mid-November to discuss the next twoyear operating budget. As the trustees decide how to fund the University’s various institutions, students will have to hope that the worries and problems they have expressed with continuing increases in tuition will be heard and respected under the new administration. Given the current circumstances, it seems likely that student concerns will fall on deaf ears. Braeden Waddell is a sophomore in the School of Communications and a staff columnist for The Eagle. firstname.lastname@example.org
theEAGLE November 2018
The media needs to focus on genuine representation Just placing people of diversity in roles isn’t enough to claim diversity
by Leonor Fernandez Staff Columnist
On Oct. 26, the long awaited remake of a decades old TV show, “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” was released on Netflix. In trailers and teasers, it promised to be dark and compelling, a subversion from the original “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” I watched the whole series in an embarrassingly short time span and enjoyed it, but there was something nagging that pulled at me. The show had an immensely diverse cast, one that goes beyond a lot of modern shows today, but failed to deliver on the genuine heart of representation. Without spoiling the show, in several moments in early episodes, Sabrina took the problems of her friends into her own hands. I am not arguing against the fact that Sabrina did what any good person would do and stand up for her
friends, but what frustrated me was that her diverse friends were helpless and could do nothing to correct their own issues. Granted, not every diverse character within the show suffers from vulnerability, but the ones that struggle with acceptance because of their identity are virtually powerless without the protagonist. Thankfully, “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” progressively gets better about this issue. However, the show’s treatment of the issue opens a conversation on how media introduces characters of diverse backgrounds without actually properly representing them. This structure of reliance is common, where supporting characters need the help of the main character in order to achieve their goal. Problems of representation only arise when those supporting character’s perspectives are muted, especially when the storyline focuses on diversity. It’s the combination of putting diverse characters in defenseless positions because of the fact that they are diverse, and having the solution to these problems be the guiding hand of the archetypal character of privilege. It’s not about diverse characters failing to solve problems without the major help of an ally, but diverse characters failing to solve diversity-related problems without the major help of an ally.
Understandably, in the real world, these things do happen and allies sometimes play a key role in how the conversation of diversity even begins. Not every person is steadfast and strong, therefore not every character, diverse or otherwise, need be as well. So while diverse characters don’t have to be the champions of their own destinies in every situation, they still need a voice to express their feelings. The very nature of diversity is manifested in diverse opinions. When you have a character speaking for all people, it removes the entire point of the plotline in the first place. Representation isn’t just doing what’s right, but understanding why. Without those voices, the true importance of diversity can never be understood. “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” isn’t an example of how terrible media representation is, but rather how mediocre it can be in some regards. The show felt empty at times when it came to these representation plotlines. Sabrina was the stand-in for all the supporting characters. This only changed when the audience finally began to see the perspectives of the other characters in later episodes. While I am not arguing for supporting characters having their own intricate and independent storylines, I do believe that, when there is a storyline that involves
them, they shouldn’t be relegated to a yes man for the main character. Most importantly, if the storyline is about representation, it is hypocritical to not include their struggles or views in lieu of those of the (white) main character. While some representation is better than no representation, it’s important to continue to demand that media does better. Writing in characters of diverse backgrounds does not equate to diversity. Having those characters constantly relying on privileged majorities undermines the entire purpose of a diverse character. Varied perspectives is important in every process of telling a story, from those writing it to the characters within it. Having one stagnant view of only the protagonist’s feelings is defeating when writers are trying to keep representation in mind. Marginalized groups should accept ally support, but not be told that ally leadership is the only way to get their demands met. Stories of diversity need to do better, be more inclusive and intersectional, and ultimately give a voice to everyone. Leonor Fernandez is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and a columnist for The Eagle. email@example.com
Unanswered questions remain about construction’s impact on campus life Last fall, construction began to replace outdated steam pipes with energy-saving Low Temperature Hot Water (LTHW) piping system. Each campus building will need to be connected to the new system, a move that will AU’s carbon emissions. The scope of the project was described as “massive” by David Dower, AU’s assistant vice president for project management. The project will minimize the University’s carbon footprint by nearly 50 percent and will save AU around $1.5 million per year in energy costs. With all of these benefits, there have also been multiple downsides to the extensive construction project. Beyond being just a general inconvenience, the construction has posed an unnecessary strain upon community members with accessibility issues due to lack of communication from the University. Mobility-impaired people are left to largely fend for themselves as the landscape of the campus grounds continue to shift, blocking off routes and
paved roads. Further, in the case of an emergency, The Eagle is interested in what, if any, alternate plans exist for those buildings with obstructed routes to safety. Already, the University has faced an evacuation due to a fire near Hughes Hall. If there are alternate plans for how to evacuate campus, students deserve to know about them. According to administrators, LTHW construction on the south side of the campus is set to be finished by April. It will then gradually shift toward the north side of campus. However, AU has a track record of failing to meet timetables and deadlines. For example, East Campus construction was delayed for several months before students could move into their dorms. For those graduating in May, what will this mean for the “massive” influx of proud family members reasonably expecting to be able to get to commencement ceremonies? Will the construction be
done in time? There are also open questions about in what impact the construction may have upon tours and applications to the University, especially given the University budget is tuition-based. We recognize that the construction, whether that be LTHW or the new Hall of Science, are extremely beneficial for our university and its future students, particularly those studying sciences. At the same time, we must confront that one of the primary allures of our campus is its natural beauty. Critters like rats are being disturbed by the construction, making appearances in living space as well as eating space. Additionally, the University is plagued by lack of parking space, and construction has exacerbated the issue. In the end, the issue also comes down to communication from the University. Putting our heads down and enduring the minor inconveniences might work for the short term, but the long-term
prospects of this project necessitate the University communicate in an effective and timely manner. The University should address what recourse exists for members of our community with accessibility needs. It should communicate what the alternate plans for emergency evacuation of buildings affected by construction. It should be upfront about backup plans for unavoidable delays like the quickly incoming winter season as well as the consequences the disturbance has had upon the arboretum’s ecological health. It is imperative that the University communicates this urgently and openly to address the sincere concerns of community members with accessibility needs, but also to sell the importance of the undertaking to large portions of students who might otherwise see it as a ‘“massive” inconvenience. firstname.lastname@example.org
Why hook up when you can listen to Pod Save America?: Report finds AU students most politically active, least sexually active
by Bobbie Armstrong Satire Columnist
The following piece is satire and should not be misconstrued for actual reporting. Any resemblance to a student, staff or faculty member is coincidental. A recent report conducted by the Office of Campus Life at American University found that while students here may be some of the most politically active in the nation, they certainly aren’t getting it. The report surveyed over 1,200 AU students across all grades, schools and majors, from political science to fine arts. Lisa Moore, a spokesperson for the Office of Campus Life, said she and her team
were not surprised by their findings. “If I’m being honest with you, no one was shocked to find that students who spend their weekends canvassing for Congressional candidates who don’t stand a chance of winning aren’t getting much action,” she said. Sophomore and CLEG major Justin Henley said that he’s been too busy the last few years to even think about dating, but plans to look into it when he’s done with law school. “Right now, the only thing that gets me going is Marbury v. Madison,” he said. Health Center nurse practitioner Mary Kennedy says that although sexual activity rates on campus remain low yearround, the rates of STD and STI cases skyrockets after election season and tend to be even higher when Congressional seats turn blue. “Our students obviously have no idea what they’re doing,” Kennedy said. For the last three years, the school reported to have the lowest rates of sexual activity was the School of International Service (SIS), where students report they just don’t understand the appeal.
“I would much rather spend my Friday nights reading a 100-page policy memo on U.S. involvement in Nicaragua during the Cold War than swipe on Tinder,” said junior and International Studies major Sabrina Mayer. Mayer said that dating would only interfere with her career prospects. “How is making out with that random guy from my Transatlantic Security class going to help me get an internship at the State Department?” she asked. Other SIS students fail to grasp what “sexually active” means as defined by the Office of Campus Life report. “I don’t think we’ve covered that in AUx yet,” freshman Jordan Riley said. In the current political climate, and taking into account AU’s location, Moore said she does not expect these statistics to improve anytime soon. “Until our students find solutions for political polarization, war, poverty and hunger, we don’t expect things to get hot and heavy,” Moore said. To combat the lack of action happening around campus, Moore and her team devised a campaign that educates students
on topics of sexuality. “Overwhelmingly, when we surveyed students on whether or not they were active, their response was ‘politically,’” Moore said. “It was very sad if you ask me.” Still, admissions counselor Jackie Gallant says the University wants to retain its reputation as an institution where students spend more time studying and attending class than hooking up in laundry rooms. “We don’t want our students to become too thirsty,” Gallant said. “We aren’t trying to be like Rutgers or Temple or anything like that.” Junior Jackie Shaw reports that she almost made it happen last semester, but it quickly fell apart. “I was so close,” Shaw said. “He was really cute, but he wasn’t registered to vote.” Bobbie Armstrong is a sophomore in the School of Communication and a satire columnist at The Eagle. email@example.com
Eagle crossword Down: 1. A pair of AU sophomores has visited 41 of these 72 chain restaurants in Washington. 2. The people at AU that an Eagle columnist think need to be upfront about their political views. 3. An embroidered two-piece outfit, a skirt and a blouse, often complimented by a dupatta, a long scarf. 4. First name of a featured student-athlete with conservative political views. 5. Name of fire department at which students are learning to become EMTs.
Across: 6. Last name of the featured graduate student who was cleared to play basketball after his heart condition kept him away for four seasons. 7. The state that the largest amount of AU students are from.
KIMBERLY CATAUDELLA / THE EAGLE
Across 6. Yilijep 7. New Jersey 8. Sexually 9. South Asia
9. An AU student association hosted a fashion show to celebrate culture from this part of the world.
Down 1. Subway 2. Faculty 3. Legenga 4. Kennedy 5. Glen Echo
8. This satire writer found that AU students are the most politically active, but least ____ active.
The Eagle's second fall 2018 edition, released on November 30.