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the EAGLE March 2019



The cost of tradition

Tracing Founders Day’s path from small celebration to massive university event


theEAGLE March 2019


Delivering American University’s news and views since 1925

MASTHEAD Editor-in-Chief Haley Samsel Managing Editor for Online Lydia Calitri Managing Editor for News Maria Carrasco Managing Editor for Life Cordilia James Managing Editor for Sports Kimberly Cataudella Managing Editor for Multimedia Sasha Jones Managing Editor for Opinion Nickolaus Mack Copy Editor Daniella Ignacio Business Manager Colin Wesselkamper Assistant Print Designer Lara Alley Assistant Online Editor Willard West Assistant Opinion Editors Chris Whitbeck Samantha McAllister Assistant Copy Editors Kris Schneider

Devon Wiensch Photo Editor Taameen Mohammad Graphic Design Editor Jennifer Croney Social Media Editors Elizabeth Jahn Grace Newton Susanna Compare Newsletter Editor Katya Kolluri Student Life Editor Abbie Veitch Administration and Local News Editor Julia Gagnon Features Editor Sophie Austin Arts and Entertainment Editor Dilpreet Raju Music Editor Miranda Baumann Silver Screen Blog Editor Brandon Ermer Food and Fitness Editor Grace George Style Editor

Index NEWS 3 Alumna is first woman to lead CBS News; Honors program to transform next semester 4 New provost talks priorities for faculty research, diversity 5 Experts weigh in on how Amazon will change the District 6 Founders Day Ball is footing the bill for expanded student expectations, leaders say

LIFE 8 How students have embraced WONK campaign through merch and memes 10 New theater group hopes to spark tough conversation; Composting Crew ensures trash is properly sorted 11 Film program addresses student complaints about program’s course selection, documentary focus

SPORTS 12 Former wrestler transitions from student-athlete to coach 13 Senior guard traces journey from training in Senegal to playing Division I basketball

OPINION 14 Column: University must rethink food insecurity strategy; Column: Despite issues, KPU serves crucial campus role 15 Column: Students need to be educated on D.C. history; Staff Ed: Founders Day Ball deserves more scrutiny 16 Satire: Program addresses staff's "lack of resiliency"; Crossword: Read the issue to find the answers

Fatima Albannai Student Goverment Beat Reporters Dan Papscun Asher Weinstein Staff Writers Ayelet Sheffey Nazli Togrul Emily Seymour Jessily Crispyn Vincenza Belletti Kelsey Carolan Suzanne Harrison Evan Margiotta Ben Foster Mohamad Hashash Justin Wise Jon Kolodny Hayley Levine Amelia Nickell Clare Mulroy Simin Ma Isabella Goodman Delilah Harvey Peyton Bigora Ali Almutairi Kelly McDonnell Aneeta Mathur-Ashton

Mia Ramdayal Graphic Designers Samad Arouna Faith Whitmore Crossword Designer Isaac Pokryska Photographers Matt Hurst Cameron Hickman Sami Pye Sophie Lampl Videographers Phoebe Jessup Giorgio Citarella Columnists Bobbie Armstrong Lauren Patetta Stephanie Mirah Steph Black Emma Greenberg Caeden Cloud Carly Fabian Nicole Klokiw Riya Kohli Spencer Nusbaum



EDITOR-IN-CHIEF editor@theeagleonline.com NEWS news@theeagleonline.com LIFE life@theeagleonline.com SPORTS sports@theeagleonline.com EDITORIAL + OPINION edpage@theeagleonline.com MULTIMEDIA multimedia@theeagleonline.com BUSINESS

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After 47-year career, alumna named first female president of CBS News Photo courtesy of John Zollinger

The School of Communication honored Susan Zirinsky with the American University SOC Dean's Award in October, 2018. by Kelsey Carolan Staff Writer

As an AU student in the midst of the Watergate scandal, Susan Zirinsky rode her moped along Massachusetts Avenue to and from the CBS Washington bureau. Knowing that history was unfolding right before her very eyes, she found her passion for journalism. Now an Emmy and Peabody award-winning journalist with a 47-year career at CBS, Zirinsky recently took over as president of CBS News, becoming the first woman to hold the position. “AU was like ground zero for me. I was still living in the dorms and working at CBS and it was like an incredible production,” Zirinsky said in an interview with The Eagle. “Would I rather go to Mary Graydon or would I rather hang out at the news desk when the Saturday Night Massacre happens and the President of the United States is firing the Attorney General?” Jeff Rutenbeck, the dean of the School of Communication, said Zirinsky’s experience mirrors what

Award-winning journalist Susan Zirinsky discusses achievements, future of news

the University is concentrated on. “She’s always been attracted to issues and stories that matter and to trends, developments and personalities that make a difference in the world,” Rutenbeck said. “I think that is what attracts people to come to AU.” Zirinsky later went on to cover the White House, including the Carter and Reagan administrations. That is where she met Sharon Metcalf, an AU alumna and staff member, who worked as a press liaison for Carter. “I was just really impressed at how she engaged people and there is a lot of pressure and stress in that environment, but she got people rallied and on board,” Metcalf said. After a decade of covering multiple presidencies, she became the executive producer of 48 Hours. Her most ambitious role, however, came this past January when CBS News announced she would become its next president, replacing David Rhodes. Over the past two years, CBS has dealt with the fallout of misconduct allegations against its former chairman and CEO Les Moonves, who stepped down in September. The news division in particular faced revelations of sexual

misconduct by former CBS This Morning anchor Charlie Rose and former 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager, both of whom were fired. “I think at a time when behaviors of different executives are under scrutiny for a really good reason, to have someone who knows just how to run things, and who happens to be a woman, is great,” Amy Eisman, the director of AU’s journalism program, said. Zirinsky, though excited for the challenge, said she was surprised by the decision. In her new role, she wants to restore the era when CBS was seen as a leader in terms of original content and breaking news. She emphasized that journalists should not feel discouraged in today’s political climate. Rather, they should be more vigilant. “If you feel that you want the courage to hold people accountable and you know democracy will wither without a free press, then you gotta put your big girl or big boy panties on and march on,” she said. kcarolan@theeagleonline.com

University to combine Honors and Scholars programs next fall by Evan Margiotta Staff Writer

Two major academic programs, AU Honors and AU Scholars, will undergo significant changes next semester. AU Honors will expand the number of students in the program and alter how merit scholarships are distributed. The AU Scholars program will end and essentially combine with AU Honors in the new program. Currently, the AU Honors program is made up of a first-year living-learning community, four semesters of required courses, and a research component for upperclassmen. In comparison, AU Scholars has a similar first-year living-learning community but only two required classes, a Scholars specific section of a “complex problems” course in the fall of the first year and a research course in the following spring. “We’re taking the best of AU Scholars and the best of Honors and trying to make a stellar honors program,” said Jessica Waters, the dean of undergraduate education and vice provost for academic student services who is overseeing changes to the program. The new iteration of the program will change how much merit aid honors students receive. All current AU Honors students receive a $30,000 scholarship. While all

new honors students will receive some merit money, the amount will vary by student, according to Waters. “I’m really worried about the financial aid component,” said Nathalie Peek, a sophomore in the honors program. Peek explained that for many honors students, the $30,000 scholarship was the only reason they were able to afford AU and that removing the guaranteed merit aid would make it difficult to attract a diverse group of applicants. For Claire Mills, a freshman in the honors cohort, a variable scholarship would better serve the different financial needs of students. “It’s a way for AU to give a scholarship to students who need the money or another incentive to come here,” Mills said. One of the most visible changes to the program will be the size of future cohorts. The current AU Honors freshman class has only 23 students. Next year, Waters predicts the program will look to matriculate around 60 new first-years. Unlike current AU Honors students, who take a designated honors class for their first four semesters, those new students will be able to choose one of four sections of complex problems courses designated only for the honors program.

These changes come after a year-long review process. Last spring, the University brought in a team of outside experts to review the current iteration of the honors program. Those experts held a series of focus groups to solicit student feedback. Jess Bach, a sophomore in the honors program, attended one of the focus groups. Bach said they were asked questions about their classes, team teaching and possible changes they could make to the program. The experts presented a report of recommendations to the honors administration. Some of that feedback included confusion over the differences between the scholars and honors groups. “A lot of different academic advisors didn't really understand the honors program, which was frustrating as a freshman,” Bach said. By condensing the two programs, Waters hopes that the new honors program alleviate these concerns and produce a better overall student experience. “Running multiple honors and scholars programs can get muddled,” Waters said. “If we are able to all of our efforts and resources and time into one program, I’m pretty convinced we can have a blockbuster honors program.” emargiotta@theeagleonline.com


theEAGLE March 2019

After monthslong search, University welcomes new provost Daniel Myers says he is dedicated to improving faculty diversity and research Staff Writer

After several years as the provost at Marquette University, Daniel Myers has made the transition from a Golden Eagle to an AU Eagle. And he’s already noticing the differences between campuses, especially when it comes to the University’s snow day policies. “I lived a lot of my growing up years in upstate, way upstate New York, where you get a couple hundred inches of snow every year,” Myers said. “So the first day where I think we closed down early or something, I was like ‘What? I better get out of here.’” In an interview with The Eagle in February, Myers spoke about his goals and ambitions for the University under his leadership as AU’s new provost. Myers stepped into his new position on Jan. 15, replacing previous provost Scott Bass, who stepped down last summer. Mary Clark, the dean of academic affairs and senior vice provost, served as interim provost in the months between Bass’ departure and Myers’ start date. “The things that this university is strong in are things that I’m really interested in,” he said. “I’m a social scientist. I’m a sociologist by training, political science undergrad, so some of those things, they’re really a big part of what happens here, so that was great.” While he is excited about his new role at the University, Myers said that many students may be unaware of his duties and responsibilities. During move-in day at Marquette University, Myers said he went around the residence halls with a microphone and a camera and asked students simple questions. The responses

he got from them were “crickets.” “You know, blank stares, deer in the headlights, and it was hilarious,” he said. Myers said that his role as provost is to be the person “in charge of everything academic at the University,” including getting reports from school deans, the registrar, financial aid office, admissions and other university offices. In previous years, students and faculty have voiced concerns about lack of diversity among faculty members.


by Ben Foster


University Provost Daniel J. Myers discusses his plans for the future during an interview on Feb. 8, 2019. distress damages, according to a press release by the law firm representing her, Bernabei & Kabat, PLLC. Myers, who said he had no knowledge of the discrimination lawsuits, said he plans to address faculty diversity, an issue that he said is both important to him and has always been a part of his work at different universities. At Marquette, he oversaw the creation of a new LGBT resource center and a Race and Ethnic Studies program, The Eagle previously

[Increasing faculty diversity] is a slow process, but that just means you have to attend to it all the more because if you take a year off or something, you really can slow yourself down. -Daniel Myers, provost

As provost, Myers is the final university official to determine if a professor is granted tenure. Under Bass, several female professors accused the provost of discriminating against them during the tenure process, The Eagle previously reported. Former School of International Service professor Loubna Skalli-Hanna won an age discrimination lawsuit against the University late last year and was awarded $1,151,000 in economic damages and $175,000 in emotional


reported. “I didn’t know anything about the second part, so we’ll have to skip that one,” Myers said during his interview with The Eagle, referring to discrimination complaints against the University. “I assume I’ll find out about it at some point.” Diversifying faculty is no easy task, Myers said, especially when compared to increasing diversity within the student body. “If you think about it, you can diversify

the student body a lot faster because you replace the whole student body every four years,” he said. “It takes 30 years to replace the whole faculty and so it’s a slow process, but that just means you have to attend to it all the more because if you take a year off or something, you really can slow yourself down.” Over the past two years, AU has hired more faculty of color than in previous years, according to data provided by the University. Myers said there is still more work to be done. “It’s something that we as a university always have to be attending to in a very careful and deliberate way about what we’re doing,” Myers said. “I know that’s happened here and there’s been some good progress in the last couple hiring cycles, but we’ll continue to work on that. It’ll be an important priority for us.” Myers added that he is excited to work under President Sylvia Burwell and be part of the implementation of her strategic plan. Burwell recently released her five-year strategic plan, laying out the University’s efforts to improve faculty research and increasing revenue. Despite having a long career in academia — Myers was a faculty member and provost at the University of Notre Dame before leaving for Marquette in 2015 — he said that no other position was more influential and helpful, experiencewise, than his time as a resident advisor during his undergraduate years at Ohio State University. “I brought [my experience] with me all through my career as a real focus on not just what you do in the classroom, but all the other parts of student life that make for what the college experience really is,” Myers said. bfoster@theeagleonline.com


theEAGLE March 2019

The HQ2 divide How will Amazon’s arrival affect AU and change the D.C. region? by Sophie Austin Features Editor

Just months after Amazon’s November announcement to divide its second headquarters (HQ2) between New York City and Arlington, Virginia, the tech company chose to scrap plans for its Queens location in February, after backlash ensued over the impact the company could have on the area. Despite 57 percent of registered New York voters approving of the HQ2 site in a Quinnipiac University poll, some residents and politicians raised questions about whether the company should receive tax breaks, if subway overcrowding could worsen once the company arrived and how housing costs would be affected. Amazon’s decision to pull out of the New York deal resonated here in the Washington metropolitan area in the ongoing discussion on what HQ2’s impact could be for neighborhoods and universities within the capital region. Erran Carmel, an AU information technology professor who directs Business in the Capital, a center in Kogod which focuses on regional business issues, is pleased that Amazon is coming to the region. “Slowly and consistently, [Washington] has grown as a big business and technology services metropolitan area,” he said. “Ultimately, a city becomes healthy when it is a big, vibrant and growing and dynamic city.” Carmel, who served as the interim Kogod dean from 2014 to 2016, said that discussions within the faculty leadership of the school have involved strategies for partnering with Amazon for student internships and other programs. However, Carmel said that Amazon’s entrance might lead to the displacement of small businesses and worse traffic for commuters. Amazon has committed to hiring 25,000 employees in about ten years for “full-

Washington, D.C., before the announcement of Amazon, was already one of the most gentrified spaces in the country. -Derek Hyra, SPA professor



time high-paying jobs” for its second headquarters in Crystal City, near the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, according to the company’s corporate blog. When Amazon announced its HQ2 plans in November of last year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explained the company’s decision in selecting the two sites in a statement on the blog. “These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come,” he wrote. The prospect of universities partnering with Amazon to bring talent to the company and opportunities to students is not new. In Seattle, where Amazon’s main headquarters is located, the company partners with the University of Washington for a mentorship program for students in the College of Arts and Sciences. Kevin Mihata, the associate dean for Educational Programs at UW’s CAS, is the director of the Center for 21st Century Liberal Learning, which hosts the mentorship program. Mihata said the program, which allows students to meet with Amazon employees a few times throughout the semester, prepares them for what professional life will be like after they graduate. “Students really just didn’t have a sense of what the professional world was like,” he said. “So, we didn’t choose to do Amazon because we thought they were going to work at Amazon or even work in technology or even work in corporate. This is a program just to introduce students to the professional world more generally.” In 2016, while UW was raising $110 million to construct a second building for their Computer Science & Engineering Program, Amazon donated $10 million for the project. Ed Lazowska, who holds the Bill & Melinda Gates chair in the Paul G. Allen School


of Computer Science & Engineering at UW, said the donation demonstrated that Amazon is invested in the education of the next generation of computer science professionals. “Our program needs to grow and that requires space,” Lazowska said. Lazowska, who described the donation as “extremely generous” and “philanthropic,” said the building will allow them to double their number of computer science and engineering graduates. Professor Nathalie Japkowicz, the chair of AU’s computer science department, told The Eagle in an email that she hopes Amazon’s expansion in the Washington area will allow students to make professional ties with researchers at the company. “It is an exciting development, for sure, and I assume that it will have a positive impact on our program and its students,” she wrote. “How exactly that impact will be felt, I have a hard time predicting though.” Although some see Amazon’s planned arrival in Arlington as a potential opportunity for universities in Washington, Derek Hyra, an AU associate professor in the School of Public Affairs, has concerns about how Amazon employees who move to the area might contribute to displacement and increased housing costs in low-income neighborhoods. Hyra, who researches gentrification and urban renewal and wrote “Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City,” a book about gentrification in Washington’s Shaw neighborhood, said that HQ2 might exacerbate problems in the DMV. “Washington, D.C., before the announcement of Amazon, was already one of the most gentrified spaces in the country,” he said. “Amazon is adding on another factor that I think will stimulate the redevelopment that has happened here.” While Arlington County is one of the nation’s wealthiest counties based on median household income, according to Forbes, Hyra said low and moderate-income neighborhoods in the county could be at risk of being changed by developers buying property to sell with Amazon employees in mind. That could lead to the displacement of residents. Neighborhoods in the District could also be impacted by this, Hyra said. However, he added that with certain public policies in place, the Washington area could continue to develop while minimizing harm to low-income residents. “The more we understand how to do equitable development that benefits everybody in a region like this, I think could really have lessons for the world,” Hyra said. John Delaney, the current Kogod dean, agrees that Amazon could have negative consequences within Washington, but he also believes HQ2 will be an avenue for students to get “real world experience” through internships. “We’re going to have another more key firm that we can work with to create opportunities,” Delaney said. “These opportunities give students a great story to tell in a job interview, and that can be the difference in getting a position relative to someone from another school.” saustin@theeagleonline.com


theEAGLE March 2019

Value of university ‘tradition’ questioned as Founders Day Ball budget grows “Viewed as more of a bank than a partner”

by Asher Weinstein and Dan Papscun Student Government Beat Reporters

$50,000 from Student Government. $20,000 from the Residence Hall Association. $2,500 from the Office of Campus Life. Along with later contributions from outside organizations, including Student Media Board, the total came to approximately $90,000. What do you get with that money? The 2012 Founders Day Ball. The cost has grown since then, coming in at approximately $141,000 for the 2019 ball at the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The Founders Week team and SG said that the budgeting process, too, has changed to handle the ball’s growth. Funds are now taken “off the top” of the Student Activities budget at the beginning of the budget process. This new process is meant to alleviate historical tensions between SG and the Founders team on one side, and the Residence Hall Association and other student organizations on the other. In the past, RHA felt they were “taken advantage of ” and “viewed as more of a bank than a partner,” according to RHA documents obtained by The Eagle and an interview with Sam Rogers, a former RHA president. The Founders team, SG and senior university administrators said that the event’s role as an important AU tradition necessitated higher spending, as it serves as a rare way to build school spirit. This status makes the Founders Day Ball, which celebrates the University’s anniversary each year, a high priority of the student activity fee revenue allocation and ensures its full funding. “[Student Government’s Founders allocation] was never enough to fund the whole event,” said Bobby Zitzmann, chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “So what would happen is that afterward, Student Government would have to get more of its own money, and then also go to the Student Media Board and Club Council.” Zitzmann said that in spring 2018, the student-run Budget Advisory Committee, which chooses how money is allocated between SG, the Student Media Board and the AU Club Council, decided on a new process for determining the Founders budget. Before distributing the $950,000 budget, the committee decided to allocate $130,000 to Founders Week instead of expecting Student Government to draw from its own budget and the budgets of other organizations. This “off the top” method was an attempt to avoid the issues that plagued the Founders budgeting process in recent years, which previously resulted in members of RHA and other organizations feeling exploited. RHA and SG also agreed to dedicate a new liaison from RHA within the Founders team. RHA donated $9,750 to this year’s ball, as their funds are not derived from the student activity fee and are therefore not affected by the new “off the top” process. “This year, Founders Board has been very transparent and very clear with us about what they want,” said Jared Bedell, the current RHA president. “Delegates this year felt much more comfortable with giving the funds, and there wasn’t as much of a debate, because of the constant communication [with the] liaison position.”

In RHA documents obtained by The Eagle, Yazmin Padilla, the outgoing 20162017 RHA vice president of programming, warned her successor about the pressures often exerted by SG. “When SG comes to you they will present the need for RHA to financially contribute as absolutely imperative in order for Founders to happen,” she wrote. “DON’T FALL FOR IT! One way or another Founders will happen.” Rogers, a senior who served as RHA president from 2016 to 2018, concurred. He said that in his first term as president, the Founders team reached out over the summer to coordinate with RHA. The process at first went smoothly but devolved over time until Rogers felt that RHA was not being included in the decision-making process, and began to question the amount of money they were spending on the event. “I think the biggest problem is that the RHA contribution to Founders Day is always taken for granted… [they said] if you don't give money, Founders Day might not be able to happen at all,” Rogers said. RHA contributions are rarely insignificant. In 2018, RHA contributed $9,240. In 2017, it was $20,000. In 2016, $15,000. And in 2015, 2014, possibly 2013, and 2012, RHA gave $20,000 each year. For 2012, RHA spent more on Founders than on all of their own programming for that year. In 2012, SG allocated $50,000 for the event, expecting RHA to handle an additional 40 percent of the cost of the event. “During one meeting, we were told by Founders staff that if we didn't give them money, they would just get it somewhere else,” Rogers said of the negotiations for the 2018 ball. “They were saying that they needed us on one hand, but on the other, they didn't really care about us or our partnership.” As Zitzmann and other SG members point out, the amount that SG allocated for the event every year was never enough. The Founders team would regularly need to approach RHA and SMB for additional funds or would pull money out of the SG restricted fund, which is intended to be used as an emergency reserve. SG records only reflect the budget allocated for the ball by SG and are therefore partially incomplete, Zitzmann said, leading to a massive underreporting of costs. Ayana Wilson, the director of Student Activities, said the full spending records are difficult to obtain because they aren’t stored online and involve direct transactions between SG and confidential vendors, along with organizations such as SMB. This lack of recordkeeping implies a level of spending increase that isn’t entirely accurate, but there has been a significant spike in spending over time. For example, in 2009, the SG allocation for the event was $28,500. This was when SG still charged for tickets, although records do not indicate how much they were. How Founders Day became a central AU "tradition" Michael Elmore, the director of University Center and the former longtime director of Student Activities, said the conception of Founders Day Ball as a tradition began











880 600
























Data Courtesy of Student Government and the Eagle Archive







Data Courtesy of Student Government and the Eagle Archive


Data illustrates initial, but incomplete Student Government budget allocation for Founders Day. For example, in 2018, SG allocation was only $75,000, but the total spent exceeded $125,000. There is no budget information available for 2013. *Projected budget for 2012


theEAGLE March 2019

Photos courtesy of The Talon

Students celebrate Founders Day and Homecoming between 1996 and 1998. with the 2008 ball, which combined a formerly small, exclusive, and student-run night of festivities — typically at a local ballroom — with the inauguration party of previous University President Neil Kerwin. It also incorporated the previously soccer-oriented fall homecoming celebration, Elmore said. “The question to ask would be, ‘How much of a tradition is this?’ and ‘to what degree is it [a tradition]?” Elmore said. “‘Should it be a tradition? Or should it be something else?’” University funding of the inauguration empowered organizers to expand the scope and venue, ultimately deciding on the more expensive Union Station over previous, smaller locations. However, in recent years, AU stopped providing funds to the ball, leaving SG to foot the bill for larger and expanded student expectations. Because of this growth, the event became a more of a tradition at AU, said Fanta Aw, the University’s vice president of campus life and inclusive excellence. Back in 2008, when the event was just gaining popularity, tickets cost anywhere between $10 to $20. This continued until 2012, when Founders moved from being a ticketed event to being a free event when concerns about accessibility for lower-income students were raised. Additionally, the conversation shifted into trying to making more room for students to attend. Regarding the ever-increasing size of Founders, Rogers didn’t believe student demands were the sole reason for the budgeting changes. Whether a new university president’s inauguration or another university landmark, he said, “every year, it's a different excuse.” Emma Galasso, the Founders Week director for 2019, said that one of her main criteria for selecting a location for Founders was the size of the venue. “It mainly is, you know, how many students can we get into the space and the 2,500 number [of students] is our biggest number yet,” she said. The future for the ball The meaning of Founders Day Ball and its growing budget have been challenged by several students in recent years, including a controversy surrounding founder John Fletcher Hurst’s historical ties to slavery. Hurst’s ownership of at least one slave was publicized by Nickolaus Mack, The Eagle’s opinion editor, in spring 2018, leading to the creation of a university group to research AU’s historical ties to slavery. A failed referendum to raise the student activity fee in October also allowed many students to air their concerns about how SG spends student money, including Founders Day. At a Senate meeting in January, sophomore Joyce DeCerce likened the failed referendum to an SG approval rating. “Seventy-four percent of students don’t trust AUSG,” DeCerce said. “How do we

know that? Because 74 percent of students voted against giving AUSG more money … in the fall referendum.” In the wake of the criticism, top SG representatives have called for an evaluation of the organization’s budget. “I don’t think tradition is something we should spend this money for,” SG President Valentina Fernandéz said at her “State of Student Government” speech in January, referring to Founders Week. She questioned general SG budget allocations and said that it might be important to reexamine financial priorities in a later interview with The Eagle. Despite the continued growth of Founders spending, SG members are not without reservations. Multiple representatives, including Galasso and Fernandéz, along with administration officials like Aw and Wilson, have said they encourage a re-evaluation of Founders expenses. “There needs to be a cost-benefit analysis,” Aw said. “Students are at different stages of what they think is most valuable at different time periods. I think, you know, that's a question and that's a discussion that I think needs to be had among students, including the Student Senate, AUSG, and all the key stakeholders.” Galasso said this discussion is something she highly values, too. Her team distributed a post-Founders survey to attendees to gauge student satisfaction and to discern whether the ball should be reconfigured in future years. “We've been talking about just long term, you know, whether this one-night celebration is something we're going to do in years to come because of…the vocal unrest that has been expressed,” Galasso said. Aw said that she believes AU students crave “tradition,” and that in the absence of Founders, they would look for new ways to exercise school spirit. This emphasis on the importance of tradition was echoed by many, including Galasso, Elmore and Wilson. The necessity for such a school-wide tradition was their primary cause for reticence in ending or reforming the event. If the Founders Day Ball were to end or be drastically changed, Aw and Wilson said, there would need to be a heavy emphasis on rebuilding community engagement and school spirit in ways that Founders has done in recent years. “[There’s a need for] a common shared experience, what would that be at American University?” Aw said. “The point is, what do students want? What really captures their imagination and gives them a sense of school spirit, you know? That would be a conversation that I would be interested in.” Note: Kris Schneider is The Eagle’s assistant copy editor and the assistant director for Founders Week. He was not involved in the writing, reporting or editing of this article. aweinstein@theeagleonline.com and dpapscun@theeagleonline.com

The evolution of WONK

How AU’s marketing campaign defines student life, and where It's Headed Next

by Lizzy Tarallo Contributing Writer

Wonk Cat. Wonk Bus. Wonk of the Year. The term “wonk” is more than just a branding campaign for American University students these days—it’s a lifestyle. Students can often be seen walking around campus wearing navy blue crew necks with “WONK” emblazoned across the front. They were designed by Zach Avis and Amelia Crabtree, two AU seniors who thought it’d be funny to create sweatshirts that resembled the similar Yale University typography. What started out as a joke quickly morphed into a business opportunity that has acted as a way for students to creatively express themselves through WONK merchandise. When reflecting on his time at the University, Avis said that WONK became synonymous with AU since the beginning. “We really liked the WONK campaign that we had when we were applying to the University,” he said. “When you’re thinking of AU, you’re thinking of WONK.” A wonky history It wasn’t always this way, though. When the WONK campaign first launched back in 2010, it was known as the KNOW/WONK campaign and emphasized the fact that university members (or “wonks”) knew their fields forward and backwards, the same way “wonk” spelled backwards is “know.” The concept was largely developed by Teresa Flannery, vice president for communications at AU, and her colleagues in 2009. Flannery said that back then, she and the communications team surveyed 12 research groups consisting of students, faculty and higher education peers to better understand people’s perceptions of AU. Flannery said the team created a brand strategy based on those responses that made it easier for the

University to set goals and outline what the campaign needed to achieve. They settled on five major goals, which consisted of raising awareness of AU’s location and character, helping the University stand out from its competitors in the D.C. area, improving perceptions of the University’s academic quality and reputation, informing and engaging alumni and raising awareness and influencing the perceptions of AU’s higher education peers. To meet these goals, the WONK campaign is made up of three brand pillars: portraying active citizenship, learning from leaders and using Washington as a powerful tool for learning. These brand pillars continue to provide a foundation for the WONK campaign today, offering what it means to be a “wonk” at its core, even after the campaign’s strategy was re-evaluated in 2013 and 2018. After the KNOW/WONK phase, the campaign shifted to a “Stories of Impact” phase in 2014, in order to attract more graduate students. “It was important for the schools to tell prospective graduate students sort of what they would gain by coming to school here,” said Julia Zito, assistant vice principal for marketing at AU. The new version highlighted stories of faculty and alumni in the AU community who were “wonks” doing great things in their respective fields. “It got to the point where people really wanted us to tell more individual stories about people who represent this kind of character,” Flannery said. Not everyone is a fan of the WONK campaign, however. Kyle Dargan, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ literature department, said that he finds the WONK campaign to be a narrow view of what students can achieve by coming to AU. Dargan said that AU doesn’t just produce wonks but also more of the “cultural workers” that Washington needs. He said D.C. is not just a “wonky” city, but a creative one.

While wonks are needed in government agencies, there also needs to be people out in the field that get information from them, Dargan added. “We’re trying to teach people how to take information, and, more importantly, do interesting things with it,” he said. While not everyone is satisfied by the WONK campaign, the communications department suggests that WONK does work.the branding does work. According to branding strategy data from the university communications team, in the 2009-2010 benchmark year of WONK, only 44.7 percent of students said AU was their first choice institution. In 2016, it went up to a peak of 61.2 percent of students saying AU was their first choice. That measurement went down to 55.3 percent in 2017, but went back up to 58.3 percent a year later. Getting creative When it comes to creatively reinventing the WONK campaign, students can’t get enough of it. “Wonk”-themed memes are regularly posted on the student-run meme group, formerly titled “AU Memes for Wonky Teens” and currently called “AU Memes for Red Line Disenfranchised Teens.” The page’s cover photo insinuates a debate over who would win in a fight: Wonk Cat, AU’s unofficial mascot that lives in a makeshift house near SOC, or Wonk Rat, the rat that was spotted in Megabytes and resulted in the cafe’s closing. One student created a “wonk” bingo card that feature aspects of AU campus culture that only AU students would understand, with spaces filled with phrases like: “has eaten lemongrass chicken three times a week,” “has never been to a single sporting event” and “ran out of EagleBucks within the first month.” “It’s become more of a community thing as opposed to something that the University is behind,” Crabtree said, crediting the meme group for increasing awareness of the campaign. Similar to Avis and Crabtree, other students have found ways to profit from the brand, including sophomores Will Goldman and Frank Piscani, who co-run their Instagram account “A Subway Series of Pics” and create “SubWonk” stickers that can be found around campus. The students said they created the account to combine what they considered to be the “two most important pillars of AU”: the WONK campaign and Subway. They sell stickers on the site RedBubble and in person by having students send them money through Venmo, a mobile payment service. The two students plan to use the profits on an event surrounding “A Subway Series of Pics” to give back to the AU community. Piscani said that WONK has helped shape campus community since it’s “so easily identifiable.” “To tie ourselves to [the campaign] I think was…a way we felt we could become integrated in the community and draw close ties to the students who we try to represent and bring together as a community,” Piscani said. Daniel Ward, a freshman in the School of Public Affairs, owns one of the “wonk” sweatshirts created by Crabtree and Avis. Ward said he found an instant connection to

the campus through the WONK campaign since it provides everyone with a “shared sense of humor.” He doesn’t think the term “wonk” is taken seriously among the student body, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “I wouldn’t talk about myself being an ‘AU Eagle,’ like, ever,” Ward said. “But I would definitely talk about ‘wonk’ because I think it’s funny.” The uncertain future of WONK Although WONK has made an impact on the AU campus community, there are no definitive plans as to where it will go in the future. “We don’t know yet,” Flannery, who is stepping down from her position in June, said. “I think it’s fair to say that we expect that there will be some [more] evolution of the campaign.” There is a need to “refresh the expression of the university’s brand,” based off of 2018 survey responses, but they are not exactly sure what the new elements of the campaign will be, Flannery said. While the WONK campaign is not necessarily going away, Zito said that the communications team may move away from it slightly to explore other opportunities. “I think WONK will always be a part of us,” Zito said. “There’s so much good about WONK that we don’t have to lose the essence of what that means to the students, but we don’t necessarily have to use the word.” Flannery echoed these sentiments, stating that the marketing team found a unique way to describe the AU community. “I think we put our finger on an idea that absolutely reflected who the people are at this university: the faculty, staff and students,” Flannery said. “It was authentically us.” Some students expressed that the WONK campaign has become an integral part of the AU community that they don’t want to let go of. Piscani said that he would be “devastated” if WONK was removed from the University's branding. “I think it really is a significant part of AU and its culture,” Piscani said. “I think all the students can identify with it in some way, whether it is seriously believing in what it means to be a policy wonk, or just loving the irony of it.” life@theeagleonline.com




Senior creates new theater group to put on “12 Angry Jurors” Open Dialogue Theatre hopes to promote conversation through its performances by Miranda Baumann Music Editor

When AU Players canceled their spring 2019 production of Reginald Rose’s “12 Angry Jurors,” last year, Julia Harris, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, ventured to put on the play independently. Harris said her commitment to making her artistic vision come to life inspired the creation of Open Dialogue Theatre, a new performing arts organization dedicated to open discussion and communication through its productions. “Why not? What’s the worst that could happen?” Harris asked herself throughout the process. taking artistic liberties with staging and set design. “12 Angry Jurors,” the group’s first production, was performed from Feb. 28 to March 2. The play spotlights a jury’s deliberation of a 1954 homicide trial, featuring varying levels of racial discrimination. Harris said she had been drawn to the play since middle school for its commentary on prejudice and contemporary society. Having reread it during the 2016 presidential campaign, she was “caught by how much of this language, [more than] 50 years later, is exactly the same.” “I looked first to the AU Players for assistance, but I was planning from the beginning that if they weren’t going to help me, I was going to start my own organization in order to do this show,” Harris said. During the initial interview process, Harris and the AU Players executive board discussed how to treat race in the play, considering the racial breakdown of casting and ways to recruit a diverse cast. Open Dialogue Theatre technician Sullivan Haine said Harris told AU Players that she could not guarantee that certain characters would be played by students of color because she ultimately couldn’t determine who would audition for the production in January.


Members of Open Dialogue rehearse for "12 Angry Jurors" in February.

Then, on Aug. 23, AU Players released a statement announcing their decision to cancel the show, citing its reconsideration of its values as an organization. “Due to the themes of [the play], the intersection of race and the criminal justice system, we need to be more intentional and specific in our presentation of these conversations and ideas,” they wrote. “AU Players is dedicated to creating a community where the voices of artists of color are welcomed and valued in every capacity.” “12 Angry Jurors,” as originally staged in 1958, featured only older, white men onstage. Harris made several changes, including setting the play in modern D.C. and making specific casting choices. “Luckily, we were able to have a pretty diverse cast, both in terms of race and in terms of gender,” Harris said. Olivia Smith-Elnaggar, who plays Juror #12, said the original script had one or two characters who are unmistakably German, which causes conflict with other jurors in the story. “We’ve made conscious efforts to think about other demographics who would be in similar positions as that character, so we were thinking about casting a Middle Eastern or Latinx person in that role instead to bring light to conversations about immigration and xenophobia and things like that,” Smith-Elnaggar said. Heather Adams, who plays Juror #8, said that Open Dialogue Theatre is unique in its mission to create dialogue, which has been shown from as early as the first rehearsal, which included a full cast discussion of the play’s themes. The organization also created “It’s scary how relevant all of the issues still are, but it obviously creates amazing discussion,” Adams said. “[Open Dialogue Theatre] is an awesome theater experience, and on top of that, you know that you’re probably gonna learn something from it to… probably about yourself.” mbaumann@theeagleonline.com

With Composting Crew, students take the lead in sustainability by Delilah Harvey Staff Writer

When it comes to recycling efforts at AU, the Composting Crew has it covered. The group of seven freshmen is successfully leading composting efforts after a series of hurdles over the past few years. “Things started great, and then we had issues with a lot of cross-contamination,” said Steven Birchfield, site operations supervisor for Prince George’s County Organic Composting. AU’s contract with the Prince George’s facility nearly ended in February 2015 because of all the contaminated organic waste AU sent to the facility. The composting center ultimately renewed the contract on one condition: that AU’s waste would be sorted properly the next time they sent it. AU Zero Waste launched a new program in 2017 that offered students personal composting bins as well as added larger composting bins around campus. This effort was later met with a larger new initiative put into motion by Tyler Orton, AU’s zero waste manager. Orton hired graduate student Anya Pforzheimer in August to better AU’s food waste collection processes. Pforzheimer then kickstarted the “Composting Crew,” an entity separate from the Zero Waste club, which comprises of a team of seven freshman interns: Tanvi Chopra, Jesse Cross, Delfina Forlenza, Benjamin Scheiner, Miesha Burnam, Zoe Parsons and Erin Aymerich. “My interns are the only ones that really touch compost anymore,” Pforzheimer said. ”[They] are in charge of sorting it and making sure it’s not contaminated.” During the first week the Composting Crew ran the program back in October,

they collected 265 pounds of food waste. Now, the crew picks up nearly 13 times that amount, collecting 3,350 pounds of waste the week of Feb. 18 alone. “The biggest thing that’d be nice is if students understand that there are other kids going through their stuff,” Pforzheimer said. “If students were like ‘I’ll just throw this away, it doesn’t matter,’ there’s seven kids out there in the rain being like, ‘I really wish someone hadn’t thrown this trash bag in here.’” It takes spending a day the interns to see the extent of what they do. Their shifts are twice a day between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Cross starts the engine in the white pickup truck they use to cart and collect composting bins, far better than the golf carts they used to use at the beginning of the year, he said. In the kitchen of the Terrace Dining Room, Forlenza lifted one of the lids off the composting bins, uncovering cantaloupe and honeydew melon scraps. Using a handheld digital weight, Cross raised the bucket while Forlenza read the weight: about 65 pounds each. The two interns carried the bins from the back of TDR and loaded them on to the truck before setting off for their next stop. After all the bins are collected, the interns drove to the compactor located next to the entrance of lower level Anderson. Using gloves, the interns sort through the waste for any contamination before placing the final compost in the compactor. “I guess the only thing I dislike is seeing an alcohol bottle or something end up in one of the compost bags,” Cross said. “But I really do love most of what we do.” Birchfield said that he would like to see AU step up to match colleges like the University of Maryland, which sends the facility 28 tons of organic waste per week. “Now the things coming in are looking great,” Birchfield said. “I would love to see AU take it to the next level.” dharvey@theeagleonline.com


theEAGLE March 2019

Students want change from AU’s film program, and faculty say it is on the way Limited course selection, lack of narrative filmmaking opportunities are among the complaints by Isabella Goodman Staff Writer

While the film and media arts program in the School of Communication has only been around for about 40 years, the young program has managed to produce award-winning alumni, including SOC alumnus Charlie Wachtel. Wachtel earned his first Academy Award on Feb. 24 for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman.” However, some students in SOC say they have trouble envisioning their futures as narrative storytellers for several reasons. One of the biggest complaints among dissatisfied students is the lack of specificity and the program’s limited course selection, which often focuses on documentary filmmaking. But faculty members, such as film and media arts program director Brigid Maher, say they are already addressing student feedback with changes to the structure of the program. “We’ve established a strong reputation in the documentary work that we do, and we need to continue to communicate the significant contributions that our students and faculty make in fiction,” Maher said. Newer changes to the program Noelle McGlinn, a sophomore film major, said that she considered transferring from AU after experiencing dissatisfaction with the lack of focus the film program offers. “At other schools, you can really concentrate. If you’re interested in editing, you can do a solely editing track. Here, you can take maybe one class at editing,” McGlinn said. “It’d be nice to say yeah, I’m majoring in film, but I’m concentrating in cinematography or something like that.” Maher said the program takes student feedback seriously and that the program will soon allow students to concentrate in a certain area while having a comprehensive foundation in different areas of filmmaking. “Incoming students who are first years now, by the time they’re seniors, can develop a capstone in their area of concentration,” Maher said. The film and media arts division has been working to revise the undergraduate curriculum so that students would have access to more advanced production, film and video classes earlier, Maher said. With the new changes implemented for the 20182019 school year, students can now take discipline tracks, taking three credits of film and media studies, six credits in production skills and three writing credits. Other changes include the elimination of the Writing for Communication component, which mainly focuses on writing for print, broadcast and public service, as a requirement for most SOC students.

The basis of the emphasis on documentary-style film stems from the course offerings that students are allowed to choose from, several students said. With many students sharing an interest in fiction filmmaking, most courses geared toward the subject are upper-level classes that are in high demand, making it difficult for some students to register for them. Even though more students are interested in fictional storytelling, Maher said that it’s important for them to learn a variety of storytelling formats in the film and media industry so that they can be thoughtful in choosing which genre will best exemplify the stories they want to tell. “We train students to be prepared for a lifetime in the profession,” Maher said. “Their interests may change, and you might start out in a specific area of film and you may find that your interests evolve over time. We would be doing students a disservice if we just trained them in a specific area.” Still, the underlying issue of limited availability of higher level classes remains. This includes professor Claudia Myers’ Advanced Screenwriting course, where Wachtel got some of his early experiences writing screenplays. “With the few upper-level classes that I’ve taken, we do have the freedom to do fiction style pieces, which is nice,” sophomore Christian Eberhard said. “I haven’t felt like I’ve been pushed towards documentary, but I do feel like there are more classes open on the documentary side.” Most of the introductory courses students have blended fiction, documentary and communication together. While there are classes like Directing Actors for Camera and Writing for the Feature Film, the documentary-based classes focus on specific topic areas, including Producing Environmental and Wildlife Films and Community Doc-

umentary: Stories of Transformation. “Part of it has to do with the resources around here,” McGlinn said. “There aren’t many ways to get involved in narrative work, it’s not like New York.” While the majority of professors within the film program are professionals in their field, several students expressed a desire for more professors that have stronger ties to Hollywood, including Eberhard and McGlinn. “Most of my professors have been environmental filmmakers, but they haven’t done anything in Hollywood,” McGlinn said. Within the film and media arts department, faculty have won numerous awards including several Oscars, Emmys, Peabodys, as well as many other awards. “The professors are still very active filmmakers and they’re devoted to incorporating experiential learning into their artistic and professional endeavors,” Maher said. “This means our students have unique opportunities to participate in significant roles in production with faculty, whether they’re undergraduates or graduates.” Whether students are leaning towards narratives, documentaries or something in between, one of the main goals of faculty is to encourage students to make stories that matter regardless of genre. “There’s an explicit emphasis on telling meaningful stories, on being responsible storytellers, on trying to do something that has a measure of impact,” Myers, a professor in the program, said. “Inclusivity is essential to powerful storytelling and I can speak for all of our faculty when I say that we want to train and empower students to transform the industry…through thoughtful, provocative and authentic storytelling that reflects their own experiences.” mgoodman@theeagleonline.com

The pressure of documentary Despite these attempts, one of the most common complaints that remain among those dissatisfied with the film program is the emphasis on documentary work.

Photo courtesy of Allie Ngo

(From left to right) Jess McGowan, Nicole Narvaez, Danielle De Vito, Casey Wexler, Emily Hawkes and Allie Duke pose at the Oscars party held by cinematic arts fraternity Delta Kappa Alpha in Februrary.



Left: Coaches stand and applaud Josh Terao as he walks on the mat on Feb. 22.


Right: The team cheers on as a teammate attempts to pin his opponent on Feb. 22.

Finding success on the sidelines How former wrestler Jeric Kasunic made the transition from student-athlete to coach Staff Writer

Before graduating from AU last May, Jeric Kasunic had an idea of what his future was going to be like. He was going to use his undergraduate business degree and find a job in finance. That is, until he got an offer from his former wrestling head coach, Teague Moore, to be his assistant. Kasunic wasn’t afraid of the change, and quickly transitioned from being an athlete under Moore’s guidance to working alongside him. Moore wasn’t anxious, either. He knew that Kasunic would make a great coach based on the characteristics he saw in him during his career at AU. “He understands what the philosophy of the program is,” Moore said. “He understands the responsibilities and the academics of the guys on the team. He understands the goals that we are trying to accomplish.” While Moore knew that Kasunic would be a great teacher of the sport, he also knew there would be a transition for him to move over to the administrative side. “The paperwork, the responsibilities, you have to make sure get done before stepping on the mat to start teaching the sport,” Moore said. “I figured there would be a changeover for him, but nothing I was too concerned about.” There were obviously some aspects that took Kasunic time to get used to since his period between being a part of the team as a wrestler to be a part of the team as a coach was only a few months.

“The most difficult part of it was being a part of the team a couple months ago to being in a role of coach now,” Kasunic said. Since he had pre-existing relationships with the wrestlers on the team, his ability to separate the relationships from being a good coach was crucial. Kasunic has been able to maintain the existing relationships with his former teammates while transitioning into a coaching role, he said.


by Hayley Levine

it himself. “The most frustrating part about coaching would be just sitting back watching as opposed to being on the mat doing it myself,” Kasunic said. Despite some of the struggles of being a coach instead of an athlete, Kasunic loves being a wrestling coach and wouldn’t want that to change, he said. Over their six-year relationship, both Moore and Kasunic have been able to learn from one another both as wrestlers

When the time came to fill a coaching position, we felt that he was perfect for what we needed. -Teague Moore, head wrestling coach

Despite his long tenure at AU, Moore said he continues to learn from all his coaches, including Kasunic, who’s serving as a corner coach in his first year. He is listening to how Kasunic interacts with the athletes and giving him the necessary advice to help him become a better coach. Kasunic feels the same way, continuing to learn from his former coach, and has taken the information to become a better coach, he said. Even though he is still involved in wrestling as a coach, Kasunic struggles with having to tell the wrestlers what to do instead of him being on the mat doing


and as people. Kasunic was able to develop from an average wrestler in college to a highly-ranked college wrestler, defeating top opponents and qualifying twice for the NCAA tournament as a junior and senior. He finished his wrestling career tied for sixth all-time in victories (102) and second all-time in pins (40) at AU. Beyond success on the mat, Moore has been able to instill the belief into his wrestlers that academics are just as important as wrestling. The team consistently produces one of the highest average GPAs in Division I wrestling, The Eagle previously reported. “You’ve got to understand what the

institution is about, and then go out and seek the right guy,” Moore said in a 2015 interview about the team’s academic achievements. “I look for recruits that are going to hold their academic standards at the same level as their wrestling. We want guys who are going to be national champions and All-Americans, we also want to have the highest GPA in college wrestling.” That idea was something that motivated Kasunic to do better in school and focus on more than just wrestling and all the training that went with it. By his senior season, Kasunic was able to become an Academic All-American by putting forth time and effort both on and off the mat. “When I got into college, I struggled academically,” Kasunic said. “Just coming through the program, it really shaped who I am today and paved the way for what I’m going to do with my future.” Moore believed that all of the characteristics that Kasunic has learned from working with him allowed him to be a perfect fit in the coaching staff. He has been able to help AU wrestling in many ways, greatly because of his unique relationship with Moore and his existing knowledge of the program and of wrestling. “Some of the experiences that he had while at AU really helped grow him as a person, and to see that change over four years was fun,” Moore said. “When the time came to fill a coaching position, we felt that he was perfect for what we needed.” hlevine@theeagleonline.com


theEAGLE March 2019

From Senegal to the States How Eagles guard C.B. Diallo realized his dreams with the help of SEED Academy by Jon Kolodny Staff Writer

In Senegal, a soccer-obsessed country on Africa’s west coast, not many children even dream of playing NCAA Division I basketball in the United States. For Cheikh Bamba Diallo, known to his friends and teammates as C.B., this remote possibility became a reality. The 6-foot-1-inch guard is living out his wildest fantasies by playing at AU. Diallo’s story begins in Thies, Senegal’s third-largest city. He grew up in a large family of modest means, he said. Diallo’s father was an avid soccer player who encouraged Diallo and his brothers to play soccer. At a certain point, he and his brothers stumbled upon the game of basketball. For Diallo, basketball was not love at first sight. The sport was something he grew to love. “At first I didn’t really like [basketball], but when I started growing up and going to camps, I decided that basketball is something I really like that could help me a lot,” Diallo said. Growing up down the street from SEED Academy in Thies, Diallo was familiar with its basketball program and the people within it. SEED, which stands for Sports for Education and Economic Development, is a nonprofit tuition-free boarding school that currently serves 40 boys and girls ranging from sixth to 12th grade. The Academy, which was founded in 1998, has an environment comparable to that of a preparatory school in the United States. Students attend school during the day while playing competitive basketball, receiving elite training, traveling to recruiting showcases and participating in study sessions on a nightly basis. Over the years, SEED has produced dozens of Division I basketball players, including Lamine Diane, a Cal State Northridge freshman who is averaging 24.3 points per game, giving him the country’s eighth highest average. “I used to go over there and hang out with the guys,” Diallo said. As time progressed, Diallo saw what the program was doing for the children involved and decided it was something he wanted to join. Eventually, Diallo started trying out for acceptance to SEED Academy. After a few years of trying out, Diallo’s wishes came true. He was accepted at the age of 16 years old. With that acceptance, Diallo’s life changed forever. Aside from producing highly talented basketball players, SEED produces good, mature people, Diallo said. “They challenge you every day so you can grow up as a man,” he said. “I really grew up there.” Thanks to SEED, Diallo was able to display his basketball skills to the world. “In the summer of 2013, I was with SEED and they took me to a camp called BWB in South Africa, and I ended being MVP of the all star game,” he said. Due to his standout performance, Diallo earned a scholarship to attend Cape Fear Christian Academy in North Carolina while playing basketball for its team. Going to play basketball halfway around the world was a scary proposition for Diallo, but with the

assistance of others, his transition from life in Senegal to the U.S. was a smooth one. “It was kind of hard, but I got a host family that took me in as their own and they helped me a lot,” Diallo said. “They helped me learn about the United States, what to do and what not to do.” Diallo prospered on the hardwood, earning a scholarship to attend Kilgore College, a two-year junior college in rural Texas. For Diallo, this was quite the accomplishment, as Kilgore is known for developing talented players, such as former Ole Miss star Stefan Moody. Not skipping a beat, Diallo averaged 9.6 points per game during his two seasons at Kilgore, while shooting 38.6 percent on three point attempts. After his sophomore season at Kilgore, Diallo was looking for a new home. At the last minute, an opportunity popped up for the Senegalese combo guard. “My assistant coach at Kilgore [Matt Wilson], used to play at American, so when he heard American needed a guard late, he talked with Mike Brennan, and that’s how I got here,” Diallo said. Diallo, eager to prove himself at the Division I level, arrived at American in the fall of 2017. The Eagles were prepared for a rough season due to inexperience and youth, but this didn’t stop Diallo from playing his game and contributing. During the Eagles 6-24 campaign last season, Diallo became a productive sharpshooter, averaging 5.3 points per game while connecting on 33 three-pointers. Although Diallo was frustrated with the struggles of his team, he was proud of his personal performance throughout his first season. “Deep down in me, I know that everywhere I go, I can produce, get in the game and do what I do to help the team get a win,” he said. Coming into this season, Diallo knew his squad would be much improved. This year’s Eagles lineup has

an abundance of talent and depth, and despite a few minor injuries, the squad has stayed relatively healthy throughout the first 24 games. “Last year we had a lot of young players who were learning at the time, and right now they know what’s going on and what it takes to win games,” Diallo said. Thus far, the Eagles are one of the most improved teams in the country and remain at the middle of the pack in the Patriot League. Diallo’s playing time has been limited, though he has seen the court more of late. From Nov. 24 through Jan. 26, Diallo played a combined 23 minutes over the 16-game stretch. This lack of playing time has been challenging for Diallo to handle, but he has remained positive, and his attitude has paid off. Surely enough, Diallo’s opportunity to contribute presented itself. With the recent injuries to starters Marvin Bragg and Sam Iorio, Diallo found himself playing over 22 minutes per game over a three game period from Jan. 30 through Feb. 6. “I just kept on playing because I knew the opportunity would present itself,” Diallo said. “It’s a long season…I worked hard every day in practice and I never let myself down.” Diallo’s optimistic outlook and reportedly playful attitude about life is something that has contributed to the chemistry of this Eagles team. In an interview regarding Diallo’s story with the Patriot League Network, head coach Mike Brennan praised the player. “C.B.’s been a great kid, full of energy, and that’s the way he practices every day, and you know, he’s a great personality to have on the team and in the locker room,” Brennan said. Spencer Nusbaum contributed to the reporting of this story. jkolodny@theeagleonline.com

Photo courtesy of Roman Habibzai

Cheikh Bamba Diallo, known as C.B. to his teammates, examines the court during a Feb. 2 game against Holy Cross.



AU must rethink how it approaches food insecurity

by Stephanie Mirah Staff Columnist

In the course of a few years, the issue of food insecurity on college campuses has earned an increasing amount of attention from media outlets and administrators alike. At AU, the conversation has morphed into questions about the affordability of meal plans as well as the use of the University’s food pantry. Recently, I participated in the National Press Call for Campus Journalists on Growing Crisis of Hunger on College Campuses. This was a phone conference co-hosted by MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger and the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice on Feb. 7. From information shared during this event, it became clear that too many students, who are working hard to earn degrees, are forced to compromise their

food security. Like Dr. Sara GoldrickRab, the founder of the Hope Center, I fear the normalization of “being hungry” and food insecure in college. It is important to note that there is a difference between being hungry and being food insecure. The UDSA defines food insecurity in two ways. There is “low food security,” which does not involve hunger. Then there is “very low food security,” which does involve hunger and is defined as “reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.” While AU has identified food insecurity as a problem on campus and tried to address it by opening a food pantry called The Market in September 2017, I worry about the statements made regarding the pantry. According to an article about the pantry, Fanta Aw, the University’s vice president of campus life and inclusive excellence, “believes that The Market is a more systematic way to help students and hopes that this will give students much easier access.” Labeling the food pantry as systemic change may unintentionally slow or stop more necessary changes, such as the need for AU’s financial aid office to guide eligible students through the difficult application process for SNAP,

or food stamp, benefits. Food pantries are a first step. Samuel Chu, the National Organizer for MAZON, said that the “first step” universities make does not have to be revolutionary in order to make a change. Yet, he added that administrators should not stop after the first step, either. The government is not responsible for helping prospective beneficiaries apply for SNAP benefits, despite the difficult process the application entails. It must fall to financial aid offices to integrate and streamline the process for students, informing them of how to apply for benefits in the case that their financial aid package is insufficient to meet their needs. Combating food insecurity also requires more than institutional changes; it requires student activism. Student Government should consider holding public forums on the topic of food insecurity to identify and mobilize students who have either a personal and passionate stake in the issue. By opening a more transparent dialogue, the stigma surrounding asking for help, as cited by Chu, can be dismantled. When students visibly and openly care about an issue, it can result in an administrative response. For example, student activism heavily influenced the decision to not increase the minimum prices for meal plans next year. AU Dining and Auxiliary Services must

also address the issue of food insecurity within the proposed 2019-20 academic year meal plan proposals. Administrators should be wondering: who will a price increase really benefit if many students cannot even afford the high prices now? How can increased revenue be leveraged to support vulnerable students? According to Dr. Goldrick-Rab, little is known about food insecurity at private universities nationwide. The largest national collegiate survey is the National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey, which costs multiple millions of dollars to run every four years and universities get to decide to participate or not. AU, as an institution, must participate in surveys regarding food insecurity so that more information can be gathered about the extent of this problem. Students should never have to make a choice between food and textbooks, especially if there is an evident third option: for universities to step up and take responsibility for their students in their journey towards thriving both physically and academically. Stephanie Mirah is a sophomore in the School of Communication and a columnist for The Eagle. smirah@theeagleonline.com

Despite difficulties, Kennedy Political Union provides valuable student engagement The speaker bureau process has flaws, but impressively accomplishes its goals

by Samantha McAllister Staff Columnist

For some students, the Kennedy Political Union can seem obscure. An email only a few days before an event means that there are many undergraduates who would love to attend but can’t because they have plans, homework or work. When KPU brought Sen. Elizabeth Warren to the Washington College of Law on Nov. 29 to discuss foreign policy, an email was sent to students three days before the event. Earlier last fall, KPU announced the Parkland Students eight days before the event took place as guests

of the Larissa Gerstel Critical Literacy and Social Justice Symposium. The symposium lacked any detailed explanation. Intrigued, I sought to find out the why and how KPU comes to its decisions about speakers and events by speaking with Yazan Hanouneh, the director of KPU. It turns out that the organization is often slowed down by the University’s procedural difficulties. For Hanouneh, the process of bringing speakers to campus is varied but always keeps students in mind. He explained that potential speakers are evaluated based on the event, but, overall, KPU looks into relevancy, insight, representation, inspiration, fun, audience, controversy and feasibility. These factors vary in importance, especially as the people within KPU are students themselves. “If I could bring President Obama I would, but unfortunately for my dreams, feasibility plays a big factor in who we bring,” he explained.

After these factors are taken into consideration, the process starts with an idea that is then discussed and voted on. KPU then extends an invitation to the speaker. If accepted, the event goes into the process of legal contracts and planning. Between speaker schedules, speaker marketing approval and AU’s legal department, it can be difficult to effectively market events. Hanouneh pointed to the Loretta Lynch event last October for All-American Weekend as an example of how long the planning process took. KPU began planning the event in May. However, this still did not address the often lack of information provided to students on events and content. The speakers this school year have been wellknown names and come from a variety of backgrounds. But the last-minute announcements make it difficult for someone to fit the events into a tight schedule. I found that this is not KPU’s fault. Namely, if the Warren event last semester seemed last minute, that’s because it was. “Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office

reached out to us to host that event ten days before it was scheduled to happen,” Hanouneh said. In cases like these, KPU has to do its best to provide an engaging student experience. Given the explained circumstances and the events that I have experienced so far as an undergraduate, I would say that KPU has done a solid job of doing just that. I am convinced that the University can and should do more to support the student organization with its current funding. KPU is one of the student organizations that the University speaks most highly of, yet can make the events themselves difficult with bureaucratic process. If there were ways to better streamline the process, this might help mitigate the issues facing KPU and affecting students. Samantha McAllister is a sophomore in the School of International Service and a columnist at The Eagle. smcallister@theeagleonline.com


theEAGLE March 2019

We can’t be changemakers in D.C. if we don’t know D.C. The lack of education around the culture and history of the nation’s capital is a disservice to students

by Emma Greenberg Staff Columnist

Whenever AU students are asked why they go to the University, one of the most common answers is the location. While the school is a bit removed from downtown Washington, the location is a sweet spot because it offers relatively quick access to the core of the city with a typical small campus feel. In addition, some of the greatest culture and history in the country is right at AU’s doorstep. However, the campus community does not do an adequate job of acclimating students to the city in which they want them to be changemakers. Too many students can spend their four years at AU without leaving

Northwest bubble. Most students come to school wanting to make a difference in the country and/or the world and they pick AU because Washington is the city where policy gets made. But what I think students fail to recognize is that is if we want to be changemakers, we need to know the District more holistically. There is an incredible amount of history and culture in D.C. that is inextricably linked to the University. For example, U Street is a huge tourist destination known for its restaurants and fun nightlife-- all frequented by students. But it’s historically been known as one of the country’s largest celebrations of black culture. Many famous people of color performed in their early days or got their start at venues on U Street. Ella Fitzgerald won an amateur singing contest there in the 1930s. Louis Armstrong would perform from time to time, and Miles Davis played the trumpet with the Billy Eckstine Band in 1944. While just a few miles away politicians are debating immigration policies, much of the city’s historic architecture and urban planning was done by immigrants and enslaved people. Pierre L'Enfant was a military engineer who is known today as the man responsible for designing the basic plan of the city. He was also an

immigrant. Buildings like the White House and Capitol Building were largely constructed by slave labor. That means those enviable “Hillternships” also have their foundation linked to the institution of slavery. How meaningful are our conversations about racial and immigration policy in structures and a city made by immigrants and the enslaved without a deep-rooted recognition of the debts owed to them? Many AU students don’t know that one of the biggest backbones of takeout food as we know it started here. Although mumbo sauce was originally created in Chicago, it was popularized in the District as a take-out sauce. It can be found in all different types of takeout ranging from Korean food to fried chicken. Chances are, if you’ve eaten out in Washington, you have eaten mumbo sauce. While it is not productive to suggest that students walk around with immovable guilt about the history of the city, it is true that failing to recognize this history positions AU as a mill of uninformed, unacclimated students. It is a disservice to the Washington community and students themselves for the University to produce students who do not have historical knowledge that

would guide the change-making work they are expected to accomplish. AU needs to do a better job of acclimating and enriching students to the city that we have chosen to live in for four years. One key step in accomplishing that is teaching students about the culture and history of D.C. This can be achieved through the AUx course as well as integrating some of this cultural and political history into Eagle Summit and Welcome Week activities. And more students should take advantage of opportunities to engage with the local community through the Center for Community Engagement and Service, which helps students find volunteer opportunities in the District. The University and the student body need to recognize the gift that has been given to us by being in this city, not just as a way of providing fun facts but as an impetus for creating a culture of empowered students, scholars and community activists. Emma Greenberg is a freshman in the School of Communication and a columnist for The Eagle. egreenberg@theeagleonline.com

Staff Editorial

Costs and expectations of Founders Day Ball have snowballed tremendously in past decade This year’s Founders Day Ball celebration was held in late February at the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center located in Chantilly, Virginia. The total cost of the event came to approximately $141,000 — a price on par with the growing cost of the ball each year. The expansion of the event has led some students, including some within Student Government, to question if the event is an efficient use of student money. The Eagle believes that the inordinate growth of Founders Day Ball, without much input from students outside of Student Government on the direction of the event, has led to a slippery slope of unrealistic and unsustainable expectations. Within the past 10 years, Founders Day Ball has expanded to grandiose venues across D.C. like the Newseum, National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of African-American History and Culture. It has done so all in the name of tradition and creating unity among students. Hints of elitism surrounding the

event stem from the social pressures and expectations for a night of extravagance and a certain quality of dress, which comes at an inaccessible price for many students. In the past, the ball was a ticketed event with tickets costing between $10 and $20. However, with concern for low-income students, the event was made free for all students. As well intentioned as this change was, it failed to account for the massive budgetary inconsistency created by removing the revenue stream. While SG has implemented Clawed’s Wardrobe, a program offering free formal wear to students, as a means of being more inclusive, the initiative does not address the fundamental crux of the problem. What is the purpose that Founders Day Ball is intended to serve? Who is Founders Day Ball intended to serve? The most common answers to these questions revolve around tradition. But, then the question remains: why is SG in charge of facilitating “tradition” at AU? Currently, SG takes $130,000 “off the top” of the total budget from the student activity fee to avoid having to ask or strong-arm Student Media Board and

RHA for funds for the event as they had in the past. With a total budget of about $950,000, Founders Day accounts for nearly 14 percent of the entire budget set aside for student activities. One of the primary allures of AU for prospective and current students is the politically active nature of the campus community. It is the capacity for impact and community-building that small student organizations have which has historically been the foundation of fond memories and tradition, not a college prom with a bloated budget. With the current budget structure of the event, students may not initially notice the impact that the cost of the event has upon their experience at AU. Even the new “off the top” method of funding Founders Day means that less money is allocated for the AU Club Council or Student Media Board, which serve more students in a multitude of ways that SG and Founders Day cannot. In addition, many of the former and current student staff across SG and RHA do not believe that the Founders Day Ball, in its current and projected state,

is an efficient use of student money. SG’s expenditure of at least $130,000 of student money on the event demonstrates the sincere lack of responsible stewardship that SG has been criticized for in the past. The Eagle urges both SG leaders and university administrators to rethink the mechanisms that are used to pay for the ball, and the unearned meaning that is often attached to it. Students themselves must care about the impact the event is having upon their own ability to run their organizations effectively, realizing that the idea of Founders Day Ball as historical tradition is without merit. This doesn’t mean that the ball should be eliminated as an annual event, but it does mean that we should reconsider why so much of our “tradition” seems so tied up in a single, incredibly expensive night that is often defined by how many likes students’ Instagram posts earn. By rethinking what Founders Day means to us as a community, we might also find some answers about what our university experience does, and should, mean to us. edpage@theeagleonline.com



Administration Stress: the mental health crisis on campus Jack Child Hall to offer naptime and sippy cup sessions for developing university administrators

by Nickolaus Mack

Managing Editor for Opinion

The following piece is satire and should not be misconstrued for actual reporting. Any resemblance to a student, staff or faculty member is coincidental. Moved by the apparent deteriorating state of mental health of administrators, an anonymous staff member within the Counseling Center is scheduled to publish a piece in The Eagle titled “Administration Stress.” The article aims to highlight how administrators, typically of the baby boomer generation, have less resiliency and a lower appetite for publicly admitting mistakes.

The piece advocates that universities, specifically American, can no longer consider university staffer mental health to be outside of their purview. When administrators have tantrums because students disagree with them, it is clear that the administration has not done enough to prepare them for a job that includes success and failure. Within the past few academic years, AU’s human resources department has received an influx of complaints regarding senior-level university administrators. These complaints include reports of public tantrums as well as destroyed university property. In response, Jack Child Hall, which is typically reserved for child care, will offer nap time and sippy cups sessions for senior-level administrators who are still learning to not take things personally. This mandatory program, which lasts through an administrator’s first year at AU, helps staffers adjust to their first year at AU. The program teaches participants how to navigate their academic, social, cultural and psychological adjustment

to university life. One lesson focuses specifically on the fact that no one cares how many degrees an administrator was able to afford. Another helps administrators focus on their optics, instructing them to avoid organizing themselves like a misshapen boy-band when addressing student protests. Just last week, AU police had to respond to an incident in which a university computer was thrown from an Mary Graydon Center window, nearly striking a passerby. The computer belonged to a staff member within Auxiliary Services who reportedly yelled in response to reading a Facebook post about a planned student protest. “You can’t win with these students! You can’t! You can’t win. One misstep, and they’re all crowding the MGC steps with bullhorns!” the administrator reportedly said, according to an anonymous AUPD source. The Seagle reached the student, Jennifer Higgins, who was nearly struck by the computer. Higgins expressed sincere concern for the administrator stating, “I hope they know the Counseling

Center has drop-in hours from 2 to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.” It is HR’s hope that providing nap times for administrators will give them time to decompress and realize that student grievances aren’t personal. The binkies, also known as pacifiers, will serve the sole purpose of ensuring that some administrators just stop talking altogether. Some junior administrators within various departments housed in MGC are delighted about the changes. While they requested anonymity, they issued the following joint statement: “We welcome the changes recommended and implemented by HR to deal with these ‘big babies.’ While we’d never be absent-minded enough to physically write our fellow community members off as “Old” or senile, it’s human nature to recognize the common denominator.” Nickolaus Mack is a senior in the School of International Service and The Eagle’s managing opinion editor. nmack@theeagleonline.com

Eagle crossword Across 1. Fashionable 5. Gorge 10. Vegas attraction 14. ___ erectus 15. It comes from the heart 16. Essence 17. Dutch cheese 18. Having three sides 20. Hobbles 22. More, in Madrid 23. Discombobulate 24. African enclave 26. "That's an interesting idea" 28. Hot spot 30. Billion dollar company coming to the DMV 35. Swimming like a salmon 38. Term often used interchangably with "Hispanic" 39. Non-profit group searching for alien life 40. Wool source from 36 down 42. Singer Redding 43. "When Doves Cry" musician 45. "_________ NOW!" -Frank Costanza 47. Major military reinforcement efforts 48. Subway entrance 49. Pack animal 51. Mathematician reknown for his work in telecomunications 55. Places of gestation 59. Pitching stat. 61. Passover feast 62. Stuffing one's self 65. Pew area

66. Roman Emperor who fiddled in myth 67. Gomorrah counterpart 68. Biblical pronoun 69. Was aware of 70. Prepared to propose 71. Nature Down 1. Silent protagonist of the Portal video game series 2. "Today" in Latin 3. Mosque priests 4. ______ Crew collects trash at AU 5. Mouse catcher 6. Moody, as pubescent teen 7. Soprano's song, maybe 8. Secret supply 9. Word before and after "oh" 10. Gulf war missile 11. Reserve 12. Like some history 13. "___ #1!" 19. Beta's follower 21. Antares, for one 25. Completely lacking color 27. Sub-Saharan scourge 29. Gather up 31. Reparations 32. Tubes on the table 33. "I'm working ___!" 34. Prying 35. Mail deliverery service 36. Lima's locale 37. Commotion 41. Wood alcohol 44. Halt


46. Stately trees 50. ___ Hall University 52. The Gem State 53. "When pigs fly!" 54. Roll out the red carpet for 55. Successful AU marketing campaign 56. Pizzeria fixture 57. ___ mortals

58. Forehead 60. Carnival attraction 63. Query 64. Clock standard: Abbr. To find the answers go to theeagleonline.com

Profile for The Eagle

The Eagle March 2019  

The Eagle's first spring 2019 edition, released on March 18.

The Eagle March 2019  

The Eagle's first spring 2019 edition, released on March 18.

Profile for theeagle