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the EAGLE December 2019



The case for Title IX

A look into AU’s open investigations, reporting process and campus resources, p. 6


theEAGLE December 2019


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Index NEWS 3 School of Education separates from College of Arts and Sciences 4 SIS professor's report covers D.C.'s fight for climate justice; AU Dream Initiative launches at Washington College of Law 5 Student activists gear up for 2020 campaigning efforts 6 Five Title IX cases raise questions about campus resources

LIFE 8 "Feeling Myself:" Expressing culture through fashion 10 Zero Waste Program urges students to trust the sustainability process; AU alum Sid Balman, Jr. publishes "Seventh Flag" 11 A day in the life of ROTC students; Gucci launches the Gucci Changemakers Initiative


12 AU reactions to Nationals World Series win 13 Spotlight on international volleyball players

OPINION 15 Column: Private universities should have FOIA options; Rats take over residence halls 16 Column: SIS classes should acknowledge diversity within Islam; Staff Ed: University's approach to sexual violence education is informative, but flawed

Kelsey Cartelli Asher Weinstein

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Grace Barry Kalia Butler Sydney Diggs August Michael Clarke Leanna Faulk Turner Gray Suzanne Harrison Delilah Harvey Emily Jacobus Petruce Jean-Charles Michael Karlis Hayley Levine Sarah Mattalian Stephanie Mirah Amelia Nickell Dan Papscun Fariha Rahman Margaux Renee Marc Shapiro Amelia Scheetz Eliza Schloss Sophia Solano Anna Tavon

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Olivia Harwood Marie Hayes Matt Hurst Lily Mendelson Jake Raimer Maddy Roth


Maxwell Laro Linus Manchester

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Justin Deeter Georgina DiNardo Carly Fabian Emilee Rae Hibshman Riya Kohli Emma Greenberg Sam Polido Spencer Nusbaum Ashlyn Peter Vanessa Sousa Hoda Shehata



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AU School of Education sees opportunity after separation from College of Arts and Sciences Grants funded to SOE will create new initiatives and improve AU's national ranking by Petruce Jean-Charles and Sophie Austin

Staff Writer, Administration and Local News Editor

The School of Education received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to fund an early literacy intervention training program, just three months after its split from the College of Arts and Sciences. July 1 marked the first day of independence for the school, and Dean Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy said the separation signified a huge accomplishment for faculty and students. She sees it as an opportunity to be more well-positioned to receive grants and achieve high rankings. “We have a long-term vision that we will be connected with different high schools through postgraduation and the workforce,” Holcomb-McCoy said. Jennifer Steele, an associate professor who’s worked at SOE since 2014, said many faculty members supported making the school independent “for quite a long time.” “I could see advantages and disadvantages,” Steele said of the school’s independence. While developing new programs as an independent entity could be challenging, independence can give SOE more autonomy over its academic vision and fundraising efforts, she said. As a result of the Department of Education grant, the School is set to supply tuition for up to 10 doctoral students for its early literacy intervention leads program. The School was also selected to become a member of the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (EdD), an association of over 115 institutions that work to provide doctorate programs in education. Holcomb-McCoy said branching out has launched new opportunities, like an online doctorate program in education policy and leadership. EdD is a practiceorientated doctorate that houses 15 new students who are leaders in education, some running charter networks. “The Ed. D is a huge accomplishment for us because now we have high school students to doctorate students here at the School of Education,” Holcomb-McCoy said. The first cohort of doctorate students will be given full-ride scholarships the following year. Shallum Atkinson, a master’s student in the education policy and leadership program, is considering pursuing a public administration and policy Ph.D. in the future at AU’s School of Public Affairs. Previously, Atkinson was a legislative aide for Democratic Rep. Donald Norcross of New Jersey. Atkinson said while he hasn’t witnessed drastic changes from the early months of the school’s independence, there is more of a “direct line of communication from what’s going on in our program every day to some of the administrators that are a part of our program.” Atkinson, who’s set to speak at his commencement ceremony, will graduate in December. In addition to the Department of Education grant, the school also received a $150,000 grant from the Gates Foundation to fund a year-long collaboration with the Antiracist Research and Policy Center in an educator preparation program. Holcomb-McCoy said


The AU School of Education is located in the Spring Valley Building. it’s important for future educators to know the key concepts related to antiracism for future jobs. “The fact that the Gates Foundation invested in us and in this project around antiracism is really good for us as a school of education,” Holcomb-McCoy said. “We want to be an incubator for big ideas culturally around antiracism for responsive teaching and education.” The school has also seen progress in its dual enrollment program, she said. The program allows 12th grade students in District of Columbia Public Schools to take college courses and join a pipeline to teach in public schools after graduation. Lynn Seumo, a master’s student in the school’s international training and education program, said she applied after her co-worker at the International Baccalaureate Global Centre in Bethesda, Maryland, recommended the program. “It’s very small, it’s very collegial. You really just know each other very well,” Seumo said of the master’s program. Seumo, who graduates in May 2020, hopes the

change brings in more faculty members so students have more elective course options. Holcomb-McCoy is strategizing to make the school stand out in national rankings. “There is one metric which is reputation, so we need to have high visibility and high impact,” HolcombMcCoy said. “I send newsletters to the deans at the top 100 schools of education, so they get information about us all the time.” She also emphasized the importance of faculty advisement and external funding to bring recognition to the school. “Our faculty are still continuing to publish books and journal articles, so as we stepped out and became a stand-alone school, the SOE has created a foundation of excellence for a long time,” Holcomb-McCoy said. pjeancharles@theeagleonline.com, saustin@theeagleonline.com


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SIS professor publishes report on D.C.’s fight for climate justice Research in Ward 7 reveals low-income areas are more vulnerable to climate change by Sophia Solano Staff Writer

A professor in the School of International Service published a report earlier this year about D.C.’s resilience in the fight for climate justice, gaining her national recognition in the media, as well as from other universities. Professor Malini Ranganathan worked with former SIS professor Eve Bratman to “reimagine resilience through an abolitionist framework,” the report said. Their research focused on majority black and low-income areas in D.C. and takes a black radical, feminist and antiracist approach. “The district is taking seriously these climate events, but we were concerned because we knew there were some very troubling historical inequalities in the District,” said Ranganathan. “We were wondering how much the city was taking into account these underlying vulnerabilities.” The report, “From Urban Resilience to Abolitionist Climate Justice in Washington, D.C.,” says that a long history of injustice has led directly to the climate injustices that exist in the city today. Ranganathan found that the poorest sections of D.C. will be most impacted by climate change, and therefore “environmental justice goals should be about freedom and liberation.” “The search for the ‘environment as freedom’ must begin with acknowledging practices that rehumanise marginalised groups,” she wrote in the report. Ranganathan’s work gained her local media attention; she was a guest on WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi

Show and featured in multiple DCist articles. She also presented the report at national conferences and was a guest speaker at the University of Michigan and the University of California, Davis. The bulk of her research was done in 2016 and 2017 after she received a $10,000 grant from the School of Public Affairs Metropolitan Policy Center. Focusing on Ward 7, Ranganathan and her research team conducted focus groups, interviews and household surveys. They also gathered oral histories and historical and archival research on the district’s inequalities from local libraries dating back to the 19th century. “Her work is really about narratives, which resonate more with the public than numbers,” said Nathan Erwin, a graduate student in SIS and Ranganathan’s research assistant. “We always try to convince people with numbers, but no one cares about numbers. They’re impersonal. It’s better to have a personal story like what’s happening around the Anacostia to make people care.” Ranganathan included her students in her research because she wanted them to understand economic inequalities in the District firsthand. “For AU students who spend most of their time in Ward 3, there’s very little understanding about the kind of inequality across the Anacostia River,” she said. “So we wanted to use this as a teaching moment.” Isobel Araujo, who graduated from AU in 2018, was one of Ranganathan’s students who assisted with field research and survey analysis. “It was one of the most valuable experiences I

had at AU,” said Araujo, who was a sophomore at the time. “I got to see how professional researchers do their work. Most of my research experience beforehand was just observation, not interaction. It was great to see how that played out in real life.” Ranganathan said that her work on climate abolitionism is not finished. She hopes to write a book on the subject that is more accessible to everyone, not just her peers in the field. “As academics, we have a responsibility to not just keep our work behind journal paywalls and verified books that have a certain academic prestige but to really get at a public audience,” she said. Ranganathan also hopes to build up the environmental thematic area of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, where she is a faculty affiliate. The Antiracist Research and Policy Center is an SIS research center that is supported by AU faculty and staff, comprised of scholars, policy experts, journalists and advocates that understand and solve issues of racial and inequity and justice, according to the website. “As long as I’m a professor here, I’m committed to doing work in and on the District,” she said. “Especially in SIS, you risk becoming isolated from D.C. because everything is internationally focused, but D.C. is a really good case to look at in terms of environment, equity and health. It’s critical for faculty to expose students to issues here in their own backyard." ssolano@theeagleonline.com

WCL alum donates funds to assist undocumented students The AU Dream Initiative launches at Washington College of Law by Fariha Rahman and Sarah Mattalian Staff Writers

This past summer, a program was launched in an effort to help undocumented college students in the U.S. to obtain citizenship. The American Dream Initiative Program, in partnership with the Immigration Justice Clinic, aims to help students become citizens while still getting a college education in the D.C. metropolitan area. The funding for the program came from William I. Jacobs, the AU alum who donated the Jacobs Fitness Center. The initiative started after President Trump sought to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last year according to supervising attorney Michelle Assad. Jayesh Rathod, the director of the Immigrant Justice Clinic at the Washington College of Law, says the primary purpose of any clinic is to provide students with the opportunity to develop skills and professional values by working with real clients. “We see it as an important training opportunity for students who are about to embark on careers in immigration law,” she said. While the Clinic largely focuses on all types of cases within immigration law, the AU Dream Initiative focuses on cases with undocumented youth, namely dreamers and DACA recipients, to help them maintain their protective status or find pathways to citizenship. The initiative is connected to AU in both money and education; the goal is to raise funds for undocumented students and DACA recipients,

while also creating a new program for graduate law students. In a small classroom setting, graduate students and professors study cases seminar-style, dedicating many hours after class to the undocumented students they represent. “Our mission is to provide consultations or full legal representation to currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students in the DC metropolitan area who are documented or undocumented, but not yet citizens,” Assad said. The staff of the program also strives to one day represent the immediate family members of undocumented students, as many of them rely on their families for monetary and emotional support. The program, despite being young, has overcome challenges posed by President Trump’s DACA revocation. Instead of limiting them, it further motivated the students and staff. "The program is humanitarian-based, and we’re still doing outreach,” said Assad. In order for undocumented students to use the resources the initiative offers, trust must first be created within communities. Nevertheless, there has been a large presence of international students seeking help in the program, hoping to speed up the process or to overcome difficulties in achieving citizenship. There is a broader mission than simply helping students monetarily and legally. "It’s about students helping other students achieve their dreams,” Assad said. Assad said establishing stability is key for these students, in order for them to be successful and have


Members of the AU Dream Initiative group. a career. “We want them to not only be stable in their status but also get through college,” Assad said. “Getting through college is very difficult especially for undocumented students who might not have the financial aid students with lawful status have. We hope that we can help them find a more stable way to stay in the U.S. and obtain their education.” srahman@theeagleonline.com, smattalian@theeagleonline.com


theEAGLE December 2019

AU’s political groups ramp up their campaigning efforts for 2020 election

AU Democrats, College Republicans, candidate groups strategize for voter turnout by Asher Weinstein, August Clarke, and Eliza Schloss Audio Editor, Staff Writer, and Staff Writer

American University’s student-run organizations have been preparing for the 2020 and off-year elections with get-out-the-vote campaigning. The College Democrats, College Republicans and Democratic presidential candidate student groups are all doing their part to mobilize their peers as part of a larger effort nationwide to increase turnout at the ballot box next November. The AU Democrats have led many efforts to get out the vote for the off-year elections in Virginia, Louisiana and Mississippi, while also organizing multiple phone banks for special elections and gubernatorial elections in North Carolina and Kentucky, said Julia Larkin, the president of the AU Dems. The AU Dems held phone banks for the North Carolina special election in the ninth congressional district, where they sent approximately 40,000 texts to potential voters in D.C. The AU Dems also held phone banks for gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Kentucky. However, Virginia’s state elections



We're very interested in starting conversations on our campus about who students are going to support in this primary, regardless of whether it's our candidate. -Elliot Williams, co-founder of Students for Bernie

were the AU Dems’ main focus. “Virginia is a purple state,” Larkin said. “Republicans have control of both the House of Delegates and the Senate by two votes. This was a state that was decided by 100 votes or a coin flip, so it really matters more on how many doors you knock on when you’re out there on the ground. We’ve knocked on about 6,000 doors.” Despite 2020 on the horizon, the AU Dems have remained largely focused on the off-year elections as they hold a large significance. “Over the summer, Republicans passed abortions bans in multiple states,” Larkin said. “It woke the Democratic Party up – local politics do matter. If were to win back anything, it’s going to be the state legislatures because it’s state legislatures that decide a lot.” After the elections, Larkin said they were pleased to see so many Democrats take over new seats. "We now have a Democratic governor in Kentucky, a state President Trump won by 30 points back in 2016,” she said. “All 140 legislative seats were on the ballot and Democrats took full control of state government for the first time since 1994. The AU Dems helped to flip six seats and keep seven from turning red.” For the AU Dems, future programming for the 2020 Presidential election will include voter registration, education regarding state’s primary rules and how to obtain absentee ballots. Much like the AU Dems, the AU College Republicans have been working on campaigning for

special congressional elections and state elections. Jordan Bell, president of the College Republicans, said members were involved in campaigns and phone banking for Dan Bishop, the winner of the North Carolina special congressional election, and Tim Hugo, candidate for reelection to the Virginia House of Delegates. College Republicans phone banked for Congressman Bishop on campus and had the opportunity to phone bank at the Republican National Committee. The approach to campaigning through phone banking or knocking on doors is dependent on the goal of the campaign students are volunteering for, said Thomas Kenna, College Republicans’ digital director and event logistics coordinator. “It could be get-out-the-vote, encouraging people that were already going to vote for your candidate to show up,” Kenna said. “Or it could be persuasion, people that are independent or lean towards your candidate to vote for your candidate.” Since there have been no Republican debates or considerable challenges to President Donald Trump, the College Republicans do not currently have any campaigning planned around the presidential election. However, Bell explained that as impeachment plays out in Congress, the organization would consider including programming related to potential debates and primaries. “If a serious Republican primary were to play out, I don’t think we would necessarily endorse a candidate, but we would have events pertaining to it, whether that be debate watch parties, forums, or casual events where students can talk about why they support a candidate,” Bell said. Candidate groups on campus, despite their support said members were involved in campaigns and phone banking for Dan Bishop, the winner of the North Carolina special congressional election, and Tim Hugo, candidate for reelection to the Virginia House of Delegates. Elliot Williams, co-founder of the Students for Bernie organization at AU, which supports Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, emphasized the importance of mobilizing as many college students as possible to the ballot box. “We're planning to help each and every person who's not registered to vote,” Williams said. “We’ll get them registered regardless of which candidate they end up supporting


because we believe in expanding access to the ballot.” Besides AU Students for Bernie, students have formed AU for Biden, AU Students for Warren, Pete for American, AU Booker’s Crew and AU Students for Kamala on Campus. Unlike the AU Dems and AU College Republicans, candidate groups are unable to focus on local elections, instead taking a national focus, making their registration campaigns especially difficult. With students from all 50 states, organizers have to take care to distribute information that matches each student’s election dates and registration deadlines. For some of these groups, election organizing goes beyond registration and canvassing — they want it to become part of the campus culture. “We're very interested in starting conversations on our campus about who students are going to support in this primary, regardless of whether it's our candidate,” Williams said. Politically-active students play a significant role on campus as they have the opportunity to embrace the current political climate and possibly change it for the better, according to Bell. “I think we here at AU have a role to play just within ourselves to localize the issues and come together and find new places for common ground,” Bell said. “I think we all kind of have a role to play in toning down the rhetoric and looking to accomplish issues as future leaders of the country.” aweinstein@theeagleonline.com, aclarke@theeagleonline.com, eschloss@theeagleonline.com


theEAGLE December 2019

Five open federal Title IX investigations raise questions about campus resources Students, staff and local reporters weigh in on AU’s efforts to resolve Title IX cases by Kelsey Carolan

Online Managing Editor

During her first year at American University, junior Ismah Khan said she valued the University’s initiatives to educate students on sexual violence prevention and different resources on campus. However, after the first year, she noticed that no one talked about it anymore. “It’s strange because I feel like AU students only want to talk about things that are palatable,” Khan said. “Knowing how many people suffer from sexual assault, I just feel like AU students don’t want to talk about stuff that actually affects them.” This past March, AU became the only university in the country — public or private — with five open federal investigations into potential violations of Title IX, the federal law that protects against sex discrimination in education. AU’s Title IX office handles complaints

regarding campus sexual assault, stalking and discrimination among others, according to the University’s website. However, students can file a complaint with the Department of Education through the Office for Civil Rights if they feel their case has been mishandled. The exact reasons that these cases were brought to the department are unclear; however, the reasons can vary. Chronicle of Higher Education reporter Sarah Brown said some Title IX offices see increasing investigations as an indication that students feel more comfortable reporting. “Sexual assault complaints rising, from the perspective of the Title IX office, is a good thing because they’re saying, ‘Well, more students are coming forward,’” Brown said. Cassie Moore, a School of Public Affairs senior and director of the Center for Advocacy and Student Equity (CASE), said while the number of cases can seem

alarming for the University, it may be because students are more aware of their rights and have a wide array of resources to help them with the process. “As a student body, everybody is much more politically active and engaged so I think people are more inclined to do things on their own and seek help, reach out and file cases,” Moore said. Reporting Process If a student experiences sexual violence on or off campus, they can file a complaint with the University’s Title IX office. Title IX Program Officer Regina Curran said after a complaint is filed, the office starts a formal investigation with all parties involved. In 2017, the process for handling complaints changed from a hearing model to an investigation model, as reported by The Eagle. Previously, the hearing model

concluded with a conduct hearing in order to determine if the respondent was found responsible. However, the investigation model removes the hearing process, and an investigator determines whether or not the respondent is responsible. Curran said the University decided to change from a hearing model to an investigation model due to the significance of the stress it was causing for students involved. She said the Title IX office did not want to amplify what was already a stressful situation. After the investigation is over, the respondent, or the student accused of misconduct, will either be found responsible or not responsible. If they are found responsible, a panel made up of a trained student, faculty member and staff member will decide what sanctions to impose. At the end of the process, both respondents and complainants have the option to appeal the decision. Curran said



theEAGLE December 2019

Resources on Campus The University provides both confidential and non-confidential resources on campus, including the Health Promotion and Advocacy Center and the Counseling Center, but some students believe these resources don’t do enough. HPAC Director Mickey Irizarry said while the center is a confidential resource and is not directly associated with the Title IX office, it provides resources that support students and make them “more knowledgeable about the process.” “We’re promoting awareness around the issues of sexual interpersonal violence just so students understand that is an issue to begin with, like how common it is or what consent means,” Irizarry said. The Office of Advocacy Services for Interpersonal Services is a subsect of HPAC and provides free and confidential victim advocacy for students who are affected by sexual violence. Khan said when she went through a Title IX investigation, she felt extremely comfortable expressing herself there and looked to it for emotional support. However, Khan said since OASIS does not provide long-term care, students often need to find another resource to help them after the process is over. She said the Counseling Center fails to deliver that immediate support. Sophomore Janvi Sai said her enthusiasm for HPAC’s services fell flat after she visited the center and waited a month for an appointment at the Counseling Center during a time when she wanted to revisit problems that involved sexual harassment. “A lot can happen in a month and a lot did,” Sai said. “Now looking back at it, I should have booked an appointment offcampus with another therapist during that time.” Freshman Jewel Walden said she would feel comfortable using any of these resources. She said in AUx, a mandated first-year transition course, students are encouraged to take full advantage of them. “Being a woman, [sexual assault] is a fear,” Walden said. “You want to know that there is a place to go with people who will listen to you and will fight for you and will help you with cases.”

Percent of students familiar with strategies of intervention Before course

15% After course

67% Source: Empower AU Empower AU Students said one of the most impactful University-led initiatives they encountered was Empower AU, a 90-minute in-person mandated program led by students during orientation or Welcome Week. Irizarry said it is a consent education program but students also learn about topics ranging from coercion to trauma response. According to AU’s website, the program is “homegrown” and “nationally recognized.” Jane Palmer, a professor and director of the Community-Based Research Scholars program, conducted what is known as the Palmer Survey — a campus survey on sexual assault, dating violence


if they don’t like the outcome of the appeal, then they can file a report with the Office for Civil Rights. “The Department of Education opening an investigation depends on complaints being filed and whether the Department decides they want to start an investigation and whether they decide they have jurisdiction,” Brown said. Some of these cases may take longer to resolve because of the hundreds of cases the Obama administration opened, Brown said. She said many of these cases took at least five years until a resolution agreement was announced. However, Brown said the Trump administration has generally been quicker with investigations but there are still many open. Trump’s Department of Education implemented a “rapid resolution process” to support complainants and institutions quicker as well as a policy that does not require investigators to look for evidence of broader discrimination.

emphasis on how to reach out, where the office was, and if you need help to go there in any of those situations,” Walden said. “We [incoming freshmen] all took it very seriously.” Khan said while she thought the program was extremely thorough, students stop talking about these issues after their first year. As a result, she said some of her friends who experienced sexual assault were not aware of different opportunities and resources. Student-Led Initiatives Within student government, CASE was established to provide free consultation to students who have


Being a woman, [sexual assault] is a fear. You want to know that there is a place to go with people who will listen to you and will fight for you and will help you with cases. - Jewel Walden, freshman

and bystander intervention. Her research showed that there was a reduction in sexual victimization experiences — unwanted or forced sexual activity — from 2015 to 2017. In 2015, Empower AU did not exist, but by 2017, freshmen and sophomores participated in the program. Data collected from 2,003 students’ pre- and post-tests showed that students’ knowledge about consent, intervention and resources on campus grew. Only 15 percent of students said they were familiar with strategies of intervention in the pretest, but it rose to 67 percent after students completed the course. “I thought the course was informative and important and they put a lot of

allegedly violated University policy, including Title IX. Both complainants and respondents can turn to CASE, but Moore said it is more often complainants that seek support. “We walk them through everything before it’s done and let them know how to best approach a conference or hearing,” she said. Moore said other universities, like Georgetown, that don’t currently have a student-led advocacy program like CASE are looking to start one, similar to the way CASE functions at AU. Other student organizations that promote sexual violence prevention are Students Against Sexual

Violence (not active this semester) and AUSG’s Women Initiative. These organizations partner with HPAC throughout the year for events such as Dating Violence Awareness Month. Local and National Title IX Initiatives On a national scale, the data from surveys shows that a majority of students don’t trust their university’s Title IX processes. In addition, some students believe that their school would not conduct a fair investigation. “[The Title IX office’s] job is not to protect the university,” Brown said. “I think, in my reporting, I found that a lot of Title IX offices have found themselves in a position where they face pressure to do things that protect the University and the University’s reputation.” The Association of American Universities recently published findings from their survey conducted from 33 schools nationwide with 181,752 students participating. AU was not included in this survey. According to the findings, only 31 percent of students said they were “very” knowledgable about how to report sexual assault. 45 percent of students said if they reported non-consensual sexual conduct, the university would not take the case seriously. Khan said she believes if American was included in the survey, students would have reported similar feelings. “I think at its heart, AU students really care and are very passionate about these issues and will bring changes because they are really driven,” Sai said. kcarolan@theeagleonline.com

Feeling Myself: Expressing culture through fashion A collaboration with The Eagle and Her Campus

Seven American University students shared their stories on why wearing cultural attire isn’t just a matter of dressing up; rather, it’s a way to express their cultural identity unapologetically, connect with their families and pay homage to aspects of historical traditions. This article is an extension of our online multimedia project with Her Campus, which can be found at theeagleonline.com. PHOTOS BY LYDIA CALITRI / THE EAGLE GRAPHICS BY CARLY JOHNSON / THE EAGLE

Hariella Lawson-Hogban by Jackie Lamb / HER CAMPUS

Hariella Lawson-Hogban, a junior in the School of International Service, is proud of her Togolese heritage. The country of Togo has a rich history, and the cultural attire is often vibrant and colorful, Lawson-Hogban said. Traditional attire for Togolese men usually includes long pants and tailored tops embroidered with African prints, while Togolese women may wear handmade flared miniskirts and a gele headdress, Lawson-Hogban said. But even though her family would tell her how good she looked in her cultural attire, comments from others at special events back home in New Jersey would cause Lawson-Hogban’s confidence to waver. “Growing up in America, it was interesting to see how [people weren’t] really appreciative of the different colors,” she said. “A lot of times people would ask me, ‘Are you wearing a Halloween costume?’” At first, comments like that made Lawson-Hogban second guess whether she should wear the clothes her mother had sewn for her. Now, it’s inspired her to encourage dialogue and help others understand that there’s more than one way to appreciate someone’s culture, she said. “If you feel like you’re having a question mark about what you’re doing, talk to someone who might have the answers so you can dismiss that question mark,” Lawson-Hogban said. As the president of American University’s African Student Organization, Lawson-Hogban aims to showcase African languages, food and clothing through the club’s events, so that Africans and non-Africans can have a better understanding of the culture. She was growing up, getting her measurements taken for something only she could wear.

Samantha Chai

by Sydney Diggs / THE EAGLE

It took Samantha Chai, a freshman in the School of International Service, a while to fully embrace certain aspects of her Chinese and Malaysian roots. Chai and her family were some of the only people of color living in her small Idaho town. Every Lunar New Year, her mom would dress her and her sisters up in traditional clothing. She hated it because it felt like she was wearing pajamas compared to what other kids were wearing, Chai said. Her internalized racism grew as she got older and she became afraid of being “too different,” she said. “I remember my freshman year of high school, a girl came up to me and said … ‘No offense, but for an Asian, you’re really pretty,’ and I took that as a compliment,” Chai said. “I didn’t understand what that really meant.” Chai would lay awake at night thinking of that moment, sometimes, she said. Over the years, she educated herself, traveling to Malaysia and China with her family and learning to love the culture she was a part of. At her senior prom, Chai arrived wearing an elegant “baju kebaya,” a traditional blouse-dress combination made of a thin silky material and often embroidered with floral patterns, that her aunt had sent from Malaysia. It was a huge moment of empowerment for her, she said. “That was … a liberating experience,” Chai said. “Wearing it to prom [let] people know that it was a part of my identity and that I was proud of it.”

Aisha Jallow by Jela Lewter / HER CAMPUS One of the best parts of Gambian fashion is the way people often mix and match contemporary and traditional styles to create their own unique look, said Aisha Jallow, a first-year Gambian American student in the School of International Service. “My favorite thing about the clothing is having the freedom of it being traditional, but you adding your own style to it,” Jallow said. “It lets you have fun with your clothes.” Jallow was raised by her single mother and “very Gambian” grandmother, and her culture has always been a major part of her identity, she said. In Gambia, Jallow loved to make contemporary outfits out of traditional materials, starting with a cultural fabric and making it her own. She often created mini skirts and crop tops, though it’s also common to see pieces of traditional African clothing paired with casual shorts or skirts, she said. She made the yellow and red wax print skirt herself, using a fabric dyeing technique popular in West Africa. While the patterns of the fabric may vary, the process is usually the same: dip the fabric in dye, and wax what you don’t want to dye anymore, moving from the lightest to darkest color, Jallow said. The best part about the fashion experience is the personalized aspect of it, Jallow said. She remembers visiting tailors while she was growing up, getting her measurements taken for something only she could wear. “Knowing that something is made only for you makes it a little bit more important,” Jallow said. “You feel different, like I’m the only one that can ever be wearing this and no one else can ever take my style.”

Sayukta Agarwal by Grace Barry / THE EAGLE There’s a story behind every piece of clothing you buy, said Sayukta Agarwal, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs. “I go out with family when I’m back home and we go to specific shops where we know the owners and they’ll do a little display of everything,” Agarwal said. “The fact that there’s an entire story that you personally were experiencing – that’s really important to me.” She remembered the day she bought one of her favorite saris: It was one of the hottest days of the summer in North India, and she and her mom, sister and grandmother braved the heat for a shopping trip to a family friend's store. There, Agarwal found a peacock blue sari with a magenta blouse. It was the kind of material that appeared to change colors in the sunlight, she said, changing from blue to green depending on what angle you were looking at it. Memories of shopping trips like that one immediately tie back to Agarwal’s family back home, she said. Since her family is very religious and traditional, the personal shopping trips she has with them and the clothing itself allows her to appreciate her family and her culture as a whole, she said. Other outfits evoke different kinds of memories for Agarwal, like a dance costume she wore while she performed Bharatanatyam, a traditional South Indian dance that she has practiced ever since she was four. She was one of the only members in her North Indian family who knew how to do the dance, making it a really unique experience for her, Agarwal said. “Putting on the outfit brings a whole different set of memories, and you feel a different set of disciplines,” Agarwal said. “When you have so much passion and drive behind it, the outfit itself carries a lot of weight and honor.”

Mei Tomko by Jela Lewter / HER CAMPUS Mei Tomko, a Chinese American student in the School of International Service, remembered the time she found the perfect qipao. She was scouring the shops of Shanghai in July. She’d tried on so many already; some were too big, some had patterns that weren’t quite right and others just didn’t fit her personality, Tomko said. Then, she found it: It was a qipao that had a more modern design to it. It was form-fitting with a leg slit on the side. Tomko loved the way the piece incorporated red — a lucky color in Chinese culture — in its flower details. It wasn’t exactly the most popular purchase, though. “A lot of women now in mainland China don’t really wear this, as it can kind of be seen as dated or old,” Tomko said. “A lot of them prefer to wear more Western-style dresses and things.” Shop vendors told her that a lot of Westerners would buy the outfit as a souvenir, but Tomko said that as a Chinese American, it meant more to her than that. It was a chance to embrace her whole cultural identity, despite societal norms telling her to repress parts of it in the name of homogeneity, or being “purely American.” “Each time I wear my qipao, I feel proud, graceful and beautiful,” Tomko said. “I hope many others feel similarly when wearing their cultural wear as well.”

Tae Jin Suh by Sydney Diggs / THE EAGLE Tae Jin Suh wore a traditional Korean hanbok to an event at AU. He hadn’t worn the outfit since he was 14, when his mother had him wear it for photographs with his grandparents. “We had an event for my Korean class, so I decided to get one [a hanbok]...no one was outright discriminatory or mean to me about it, but I could definitely feel the stares," he said. Someone had actually donated hanboks to the Asian Studies Department, so several people had the opportunity to wear the traditional outfit. “In olden times [the hanbok] was worn almost daily and it symbolized your class status," he said. "The colors meant something as well. Within the past century probably it’s typically only worn at weddings, funerals, a child’s first birthday, and different ceremonies.” Tae said that his time at AU has made him feel closer to his culture than ever before thanks to the student programs and resources on campus. Seeing diversity and representation in his school and social life has made him feel connected to the culture that he had always grown up with, but never really got to know.

Claudia Roman by Cordilia James / THE EAGLE

Claudia Roman, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs, loves the way music influences various aspects of Puerto Rican culture, including the fashion. “We have a very diverse music styles on the island and that leads us to having different dresses, different attires,” Roman said. Folk music genres from the island include bomba, which has African origins, seis, which has Hispanic origins and plena, which has both. The outfits that accompany each genre generally consist of loose fitting dresses with long, flowy skirts for dancing. Roman’s family hails from the mountainous region of Puerto Rico, where the music style of seis chorreao is most common. Dancers to this style typically wear red or white strapless gowns with flowy skirts lined with lace, Roman said. As a child, Roman thought the outfit was “weird” at first, questioning its big, puffy sleeves, she said. Whenever she found herself rejecting her culture, her mom was there to remind her that that part of her identity was special. “Getting older, I realized that this is a beautiful dress and that it’s traditionally worn for special events and that this is something that I should be proud of, and I am,” Roman said.



Zero Waste program urges students to trust sustainability process Survey conducted by management shows students distrust composting, recycling system by Kelly McDonnell

Managing Editor for Life

American University’s zero waste policy is designed to reduce campus waste and get students involved in sustainability. The Zero Waste Project team, established in 2016, has worked daily to sort recycling and compost on campus alongside the Compost Crew, a student group that sorts waste into compostable and noncompostable items weekly. Both of these groups make sure that on-campus waste is sorted by recyclable and compostable material to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills. Ben Scheiner, a Compost Crew member and Zero Waste Office student intern in Kogod, organized the survey to see what students understand about campus sustainability and whether or not they are invested in it. Over 530 students, faculty and staff completed the survey, and only 47 percent of respondents said they trust the Zero Waste process. Manager of the Zero Waste program Tyler Orton said he was surprised at how high the level of distrust is in the University’s processes. “Students want to know where their recycling goes, where the composting goes,� Orton said. “Their lack of trust is reasonable.� Orton said this is especially reasonable after incidents when compostable items were just being thrown away to end up in a landfill and not composted at all. “AU students are pretty motivated about zero waste,� Scheiner said. “Our survey showed that students are pretty knowledgeable about composting and recycling.

So now we want to focus our program on trust.â€? According to the survey, a majority of respondents said that they do take the time to sort their waste, but they have trouble sorting particular items like packaging, coffee cups and utensils. Survey respondents suggested improved signage throughout campus or scannable QR codes that describe which items should be tossed in which bin to help students more easily sort their waste. Orton agreed that students are motivated at AU, saying that he doesn’t know of any other campus that has a Zero Waste Club that gets 40 people at their meetings. But “AU has a general ‌ skepticism with students and faculty,â€? Orton said. “We are transparent, but we’re not good at advertising it,â€? Orton said. The Zero Waste team plans on creating videos that show the process of composting and recycling  so that students can begin to trust  the system, Scheiner said.   “Our process is unique," Orton said. "We manage waste internally, and that makes it trustworthy." CARLY JOHNSON / He explained in an email that THE EAGLE waste from trash, recycling and compost bins is collected by the University’s own recycling or housekeeping staff and then transferred to the right processing facilities by AU’s own truck. When students and staff understand the program and the process better, the campus will be more sustainable,

Scheiner said. “If they’re aware of what they’re throwing away [and] what it can do to the environment, their support and trust will help us,� Scheiner said. The survey also said that nearly 90 percent of students carry around reusable water bottles. Orton optimistically sees this as an “entry point� for sustainability. When students understand the basics of composting and adopt sustainable habits, the Zero Waste program can focus more on communicating with them and gaining their trust, Orton said. Campus sustainability dynamics have also been changing over the past few months with the introduction of the new dining vendor, Chartwells. Composting is better now than it was with Aramark, Scheiner said. With Chartwells, AU is composting 800 pounds a day, but with Aramark, the campus composted only 1,000 pounds in a week, Scheiner said. In survey responses, students suggested more trash bins outside to help with controlling campus waste and voiced the desire for more compostable food containers to be used at dining locations. Luckily, these suggestions are feasible, and AU is willing to work on adopting them, Orton said. Some of them are already being implemented and researched, like more readable signs that are now placed in MGC above waste bins. “Students know [the Zero Waste program] can influence decisions,� Scheiner said. “Their voice goes a really long way.� kmcdonnell@theeagleonline.com

AU graduate debuts his first novel, “Seventh Flag� Sid Balman, Jr.’s historical fiction novel examines the radicalization of the United States by Stephanie Mirah Life Staff Writer

One morning, Sid Balman, Jr., an AU alumnus, walked into a coffee shop in Dupont Circle, holding a novel. A woman in the shop looked at the novel and said, “That looks like an interesting book, what’s it about?â€? Balman explained the plot to her. As he walked away from her, he stopped, turned back and said, “I wrote this book.â€? “It was such a strange feeling, really,â€? Balman said, reflecting back. “I really did write this book. It’s a weird thing. Not weird, but, you know, gratifying.â€? The author, businessman and Pulitzer Prizenominated journalist combined his areas of expertise to craft his first historical fiction novel, “Seventh Flag,â€? which debuted on Oct. 9. According to Balman, it is “a modern parable about the radicalization of the United States ‌ told through four generations of two families in the small west Texas town of Dell City. One is a prosperous farmer family, the other is a family of Syrian immigrants that helps them build an empire on the high desert.â€? A fourth-generation Texan, Balman grew up in a rural town outside of Dallas. He studied literature and business at Vanderbilt University, where he realized he wanted to write. He took a course in New Journalism, where journalists interpret and bring artistic liberties to the news. The most impactful New Journalist Balman said he studied was Jack Kerouac. “The book that really, really hit me was Jack Kerouac’s book, ‘On the Road,’ that looked at a time not dissimilar from the one that we’re in now,â€? Balman said. “That book, just the way it was written, the story it told, the characters, really appealed to me. That’s when I started writing.â€?

Becoming a novelist was a distant dream of Balman’s, but it felt too risky for his writing abilities, he said. “A writer is someone who makes a living writing,� Balman said. “A 24-year-old novelist? I certainly wasn’t at that level. So, I figured journalism would be a way for me to make a living as a writer.� After graduating, Balman traveled the world for about a year and a half until he started attending American University, where he got his master’s degree in journalism and public affairs. He interned for the Dallas-Times Herald, which landed him a job at the paper covering police officers and crime in Dallas. At the age of 28, Balman began his last major job in journalism as the diplomatic and national security correspondent for the United Press International. In this position, Balman covered all the wars of the ‘90s, including Iraq, Somalia and Kosovo, and traveled overseas with presidents and secretaries of state, such as George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright. “I was always gathering yarn like every journalist,� Balman said. “I felt like I had a novel in my back pocket, but I needed to find just that way to stitch through it.� His time abroad was only one of the “pieces of yarn� Balman needed to help him tie together his ideas for “Seventh Flag.� Balman said that people often ask him how long he spent researching for his novel. He usually responds, “I have been researching it my entire life.� After his time abroad, Balman became a division director at an international development firm, the D.C.based Creative Associates International. He and his division took a public health approach to counter violent extremism in behavior-change communications. With his research in violent radicalism, Balman said he felt like he was a step closer to understanding how all his ideas could

be stitched together into one novel. Two more experiences would solidify his plot. The first came from the small west Texan town of Dell City, with a population of 300 people. This would become the setting for his novel. “A buddy of mine, about 15 years ago, bought a piece of land in west Texas, [which is] one of my favorite spots in the world,â€? Balman said. “They were completely off the grid ‌ I got to know the community there. Those families became the quilt for a couple of the families in the book.â€? The final influence came from a YouTube documentary about a football team in Dearborn, Michigan, that was primarily comprised of Muslim students. It depicted the stigmatization of Muslim people in post-9/11 America and the hardships students went through with multiple practices per day during Ramadan, when Muslim students fast from dawn to dusk. “At that point, it really just clicked for me,â€? Balman said. "Through iconic themes in our society, I would tell this fun, rollicking and global story that showed how our nation has become radicalized since World War II but emphasized the commonality between all these different kinds of people.â€? Balman views the U.S. as a radicalized country. In a highly polarized nation, how could he make a change? “When you think about what you can do to make a difference in the world, I know some people run for office [and] journalism is one way to do it,â€? he said. “It may sound a little bit corny ‌ but I felt that this book could contribute to making an impact, to making a change. And in the end, the places where our country can be held together are in family and community." smirah@theeagleonline.com



theEAGLE December 2019

Faced with daunting schedules, ROTC students make it work ROTC students push themselves to the limit outside of class time by Suzanne Harrison Life Staff Writer

The buzzing beside sophomore Quinn O’Hagan’s head continuously sounds as his eyes slowly open. It’s Monday, and O'Hagan’s heart is already pounding as he rustles around his pitch-black dorm room to get ready for the day. The sun just begins to rise once Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) members make it to the first formation, an hour-long workout. O'Hagan’s mornings look like this three days a week. No matter what assignments he’s stayed up late completing or what kind of week he has ahead of him, he knows that for three days every week, he has to be up by 5 a.m. and at training by 6:15 a.m. For most college students, waking up to sit in an 8 a.m. class is painful enough. However, members of the ROTC are not like most college students. O’Hagan said he had to rework his entire sleep schedule in order to maintain energy throughout the rest of his day. "I think I'm more of an anomaly because sleep is extremely important to me," O'Hagan said. "I try to avoid naps. Last year I was still trying to figure things out, and I would sleep erratically."

Following an early morning training session, instead of heading right back to bed, most ROTC members carry out the long-running tradition of grabbing breakfast together. Sophomore Louis Popkin recognizes the importance of connecting with his team outside of training. "After the workout, a lot of us go to TDR together,” Popkin said. “It's a morale bonding thing. We sit together at the same tables every time." O’Hagan said this tradition is his favorite because it allows him to build friendships with fellow ROTC members. “I think a big part of the appeal for me, at least, is being able to sit down with them, relax a little and get to know everyone better,” O’Hagan said. While two out of three training days look like this, one day a week, all ROTC members take part in "Train Up." A classroom-based lesson that helps members prepare for Advanced Camp, "Train Up" is a summerbased intensive that builds up ROTC members’ physical and mental strength. Popkin recognizes the importance of both the physical and mental lessons he partakes in every week. "We really push on those things [during "Train Up"] so that all of us go in already knowing everything and so

that we all excel," Popkin said. For junior Sophie Nowak, the key to excelling within ROTC is juggling time commitments outside of training. "The time management is hard,” said Nowak. “It's hard weighing your priorities. I am a student first, but figuring out the balance is sometimes really difficult." While finding a balance between school and ROTC brings its own set of challenges, O’Hagan, Popkin and Nowak agree that ROTC has helped them not only set goals and structure to their schedules, but has allowed them to find their closest friends. "Having that built-in friend group is incredible and feeling part of a team is the best part of being in ROTC," O'Hagan said. While the schedule can be daunting, students said it is worthwhile for the relationships ROTC students forge with others in the program. For Nowak, the friendships she made during her freshman year within ROTC have yet to fade. "I love the people so much,” said Nowak. “One of my best friends in college is also in the program, and we literally do everything together. It's a great atmosphere and community." sharrison@theeagleonline.com

Gucci set to dedicate millions to new diversity-centered scholarship Gucci Changemakers Initiative will allot $6.5 million to nonprofits and students invested in social change in the fashion industry [that were] more diverse, not only by Grace George

Food and Fitness Editor

You may know Gucci as a company devoted to high-class fashion for the wealthy, but this year they are reaching out to a different crowd. Gucci sent out a press release on Oct. 7 announcing the Gucci Changemakers Initiative, a program set to invest $6.5 million in total dedicated to community service and diversity in the fashion industry. In collaboration with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Gucci Changemakers will allot $5 million to nonprofits centered on social change and $1.5 million to scholarships for students interested in a fashion career. The scholarship will be distributed over four years between the Gucci Changemakers Scholars and Gucci Changemakers X CFDA Scholars by Design scholarships. Financial awards will be awarded for the 2020-2021 academic year, and each student will receive at most $20,000. “Change does not happen in theory, it happens in community,” said Changemakers Council Co-Chair Cleo Wade in the short film in which the scholarship was announced. “We are bringing the Gucci Changemakers Initiative to life by bringing not only funds, but also time, energy and care to communities that have been historically and systemically under-resourced and overlooked for too long.” These changes in the fashion industry have become a central focus for sophomores Rachel Lee and Natalie Senft, co-presidents of AU’s new fashion club, Revolution AU Fashion Society. Better wages and ethical clothing production are paramount to the fashion industry, they said. “[Gucci is] like a role model in the fashion industry,” Lee said. “And, with any role model, they have to be acting appropriately in according to what is most just and ethical.” Revolution AU had a large turnout at their interest meeting, and almost 100 people have joined their email list. While Senft and Lee know these numbers do not


translate into full club participation, they reveal how many students care about fashion and are looking for an outlet to pursue it. Revolution AU became an official club on Nov. 8, and the support from faculty and students has been “overwhelmingly positive,” Senft said. Senft and Lee are working alongside professors in the Kogod School of Business to create a fashion class and, in the future, possibly a fashion major, Lee said. These changes will affect students like Camilla Salemme, a junior in Kogod with a minor in studio art. She said she is applying for the scholarship and looking to pursue a career in advertising in the fashion industry. “I think [Gucci has] the voice to make a change, and the fact that they’re doing it is important,” she said. One of Salemme’s passions is seeking environmentally sustainable fashion. She thrifts or finds clothes on Depop and Poshmark instead of buying new," she said. Gucci Changemakers’ work is vital in order to evolve the fashion industry in such ways towards better sustainability and diversity, Salemme said. “[Gucci has] the power and the voice to influence a lot of people and influence a lot of celebrities,” Salemme said. “Everyone that wears Gucci then represents their image.” Salemme grew up in Milan, Italy, and was taken by the allure of the fashion industry. The excitement and spectacle that surrounds fashion week in Milan would draw anyone into this line of work, she said. Growing up this close to the center of the fashion industry, Salemme also saw the uglier side of it. “If I had seen, around Milan, models of different sizes

blonde and white models, I would have felt better about myself,” she said. “Instead, at the time, it was very like, ‘No, this is how beauty is defined, and this is what you have to be to be beautiful,’ and I didn’t feel accepted.” It is experiences like Salemme’s that make her believe in the mission of the Gucci Changemakers scholarship, she said. With better diversity in the industry, fewer people will feel as insecure as she did,

she said. “The models on runways are getting so much more diverse – which is incredible – from shapes to sizes to different types of people and ethnicities and backgrounds, which is awesome, but there's always more that can be done,” Senft said. “You don’t realize how little representation there was until there is representation,” Lee said. While Gucci’s new initiative is centered on diversity, the company has been in trouble in the past for racist apparel. Earlier in 2019, they were forced to stop selling a turtleneck sweater in response to an uproar over the item’s striking resemblance to blackface. At the beginning of this year, however, Gucci President and CEO Marco Bizzarri began a company-wide initiative focused on diversity. The initiative involved creating Gucci Changemakers and hiring Renée Tirado as the company’s first global head of diversity, equity and inclusion. “We have always believed in the importance of creating a more inclusive and diverse industry, so we must invest in and empower the next generation of creatives, designers and leaders,” Bizzarri said in the scholarship press release. To apply, students must either plan to pursue or be currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in North America at a four-year college or university. D.C. students will be granted special consideration since they study in one of 12 Gucci Changemakers cities, according to the press release. All applications for this scholarship are due online at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31. ggeorge@theeagleonline.com



AU reacts t0 the Nationals' once-in-a-lifetime win

The Nationals’ World Series win brings a sports-loving wave to Washington, D.C.

As students gathered on the Letts Anderson quad, Joe Buck’s excitement moved them to celebrate. “There it is! The Washington Nationals are world champions for the first time in franchise history!” he said. For the first time in 95 years, the World Series trophy was brought back to Washington, D.C. The District has had an influx of championships in the past two years, as the NHL’s Capitals, the WNBA’s Mystics and now the MLB’s Nationals all captured their first respective titles. This is all in sharp contrast to the rest of the millennium. It had been almost three decades since a major D.C. team had won a championship, as the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI in 1992. The Nationals provided a way for the AU community to connect to something unrelated to policy changes and protests. Instead, AU students, faculty and alumni were universally quick to connect the Nationals to childhood or community memories. “I went to a Nats game during Welcome Week, and it [was] one of the first times I hung out with most of my college friend groups,” said Zoey Salsbury, who graduated from the School of Communication in 2017. Salsbury now keeps up with the team – and her college friends – from across the country. “To have moved back to Seattle after college and still be able to be connected to friends in D.C. through our joy about the Nats is super cool,” she said. Several students were also drawn


by Spencer Nusbaum Sports Staff Writer

to the redemption arc of the Nationals. The MLB playoffs can be a toss-up, but it always seemed especially so for the Nationals, the perennial on-paper champions. This team felt different. “Hands down, the 2019 Washington Nationals are the most significant Nationals team ever in its history,” said sophomore Max O’Neill. “After losing [2015 MVP Bryce] Harper in the offseason and starting 19-31, I felt like it was the end for us for a long time.”

way to the stands, the Nationals got into a rhythm from which the Astros never came back. “When Daniel Hudson finally struck out [Michael] Brantley, we all started yelling and shouting and hugging each other,” O’Neill said. “It was an unforgettable moment, watching the team that I’ve been following for so long win one of the greatest prizes in all of sports. Of course, I called my dad afterward. Pure goosebumps.”


It was an unforgettable moment, watching the team that I’ve been following for so long win one of the greatest prizes in all of sports. -Max O'Neill, sophomore

The Nationals are a large part of O’Neill’s identity. He has been following the team since 2012, when his dad started taking him to games. This championship pulled at his heartstrings. After every postseason game, O’Neill and his dad spoke on the phone. O’Neill’s dad even snagged two tickets for Game 3 of the NLCS – which the Nationals won 8-1 over the St. Louis Cardinals – so he and his son could attend history being made. When Game 7 rolled around, tension was at an all-time high. The Nationals trailed 2-0 rolling into the seventh inning, but there was still hope after a cerebral performance from starter Max Scherzer, who, just days before, was in such pain he couldn’t even dress himself. But after two seventh-inning homers found their

Junior and DMV native Vincenza Belletti’s family grew up rooting for the Orioles, but they made the switch once the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals in 2005. “My dad grew up in northern Virginia so he always rooted for D.C. teams, and then I was born and raised in northern Virginia, so D.C. sports have always been a big part of my family's life,” Belletti said. “I've been going to Nationals games since they played in RFK Stadium [in 2007].” Like O’Neill and many other Nats fans, she was pleasantly surprised when the team rebounded from its tough start. This past off-season, the Nationals lost Harper to the division-rival Philadelphia Phillies. Harper, proclaimed to be a

baseball prodigy who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 16, was one of the decade’s biggest superstars, and he has been in the District's conscience since he started here in 2012. “My dad and I went to opening day this season,” Belletti said. "We were really impressed with the moves the management made to rebound from missing the playoffs the previous season and fill in Harper's role. But then, of course, they lost the game, so we mentally prepared ourselves for another disappointing season.” Preparing for disappointment is a D.C. staple as strong as any other. Only in this instance, Belletti and other Nationals fans had nothing to worry about, given the season’s end result. It’s not just the students that have deep ties to the Nationals. Some faculty members' love for the team stretch back decades, such as Bram Weinstein, an adjunct professor in the School of Communication and a former host of ESPN’s SportsCenter. “I’m from Silver Spring and grew up with the Orioles as the home baseball team, and I’ll always have a special place for them,” Weinstein said. “But I’m a homer by nature, so when the Nats came, it didn’t take any convincing to just accept them as our and my team.” Outsiders see D.C. as a secondclass sports city, in which sports take a backseat to politics. Having a championship-caliber team didn’t create a new wave of fans, but it reinvigorated the city’s passion for a national audience after years of coming up short. “It was never my experience growing up here that this wasn't a really good sports town,” Weinstein said. “The people who say that about us are the people who


theEAGLE December 2019

also didn’t grow up here but don’t have the background of growing up on these teams. With the Caps winning two years ago, and now this weird bromance thing with the Nationals, it has really shown we are a much bigger sports town than anyone gave us credit for.” The World Series was not politicsfree, however, President Donald Trump was booed when he was shown on the jumbotron at Game 5, and Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki received backlash after donning a “Make America Great Again” hat during the team’s White House visit. The District has always been a politics-first city, but in Weinstein’s opinion, it doesn’t have to be. “This town is the political center of the universe, so of course that’s going to be the A1 topic constantly,” Weinstein said. “I always find that as a plus. I think people are educated and diverse, and what I loved [about] growing up here and why I wanted to bring my kids back here was so they would be in a place where there’s an acceptance of other ideas.” Few would consider AU an exception to this rule. Politics come first, second and third on campus, and that type of saturation is why so many decide to come to D.C. As a result, the energy reserved for athletics is much smaller than that of a typical college campus. The average attendance of a men's basketball game – the highest attended sport at AU by a wide margin – is under 700 people, placing it right between St. Peter's University, which has an enrollment of 2,600, and Long Island University-Brooklyn, which has an enrollment of 3,400, according to the NCAA’s review of attendance at Division I events. The number doesn’t even hit 500 for the women's basketball team. AU doesn’t have the feel of other Division I sports programs, but the Nationals’ emergence of has given a spark in sports-related interests. AU attracts students from all corners


of the country, but their focus is often separate from collegiate sports. Rallying around the hometown team is always easiest, but the support for the Nationals was never hard to find on campus. A politically-obsessive school may just be learning to love sports again. snusbaum@theeagleonline.com


Pictured: Top: Anibal Sanchez Left: Gerardo Parra

Sights and scenes from the Nationals victory parade on Constitution Ave. on Saturday, Nov. 2.


A tale of two teams: volleying on two sides of the world How volleyball’s seven international athletes make AU the strongest team in the Patriot League by Dilpreet Raju

Assistant Sports Editor

While her teammates were at the D.C. Challenge Tournament at George Washington University bonding and gaining their footing, Olivia Wassner was playing overseas for the Switzerland National Volleyball Team in the European Championship. The Swiss junior setter has established herself to be a key piece of the Eagles’ equation this season, despite missing the first weekend of play of the season because she was overseas. She propelled the entire offensive attack throughout the season, averaging nearly 10 assists per set and leading the team in serving aces. Her outstanding play notched her Patriot League Setter of the Year. This is one of the challenges that comes with being an international athlete on AU’s volleyball team. Aside from general language barriers, international athletes have to learn the American version of their sport. AU’s 2019 roster has 17 spots, seven of which are held by international students from six different European countries. Only one other team in the Patriot League, the Bucknell Bison, rosters an international student. The remaining seven teams don’t roster any. It didn’t take long for head coach Barry Goldberg to figure out that volleyball recruiting is not solely a domestic endeavor. In fact, he was quick to find out that international recruiting could be, and would be, an important part of building a


#18 Olivia Lassner.

legacy at AU. Athletes like Wassner prove this to be true. Wassner was not the only one playing internationally this past summer. Patriot League Rookie of the Year freshman outside hitter Zeynep Uzen represented Turkey, her home country, in Mexico at the Women’s U20 World Championship this past July. Aside from missing valuable early-season practice time with her teammates, Uzen struggled to adjust to the new systems of volleyball and life in the U.S. “It was hard for me because I came from another country to a new system, new culture,” Uzen said. “Even in volleyball, something is different.” Her international teammates understand what she means. “Volleyball, everything was so different,” Wassner said. “The coaching styles, the pregame warm-ups, the serve and pass, traveling, it was all completely different. There were a lot of new expressions I had to get used to.” Similarly, senior outside hitter Aleksandra Sochacka had to change a lot of her playing style and positioning in order to adapt when she came to American from Poland. “The defense was different for me, specifically,” Sochacka said. “I would have to be in a completely different spot than I would have normally been on the court if I played in Poland.” The pace of play also changes heavily, with American volleyball emphasizing quicker scores and faster time of play. Sochacka was not used to the speed when she came to the U.S. “I was playing at the juniors team in Poland, and it was just a slower paced game,” she said. Despite all these challenges, the freshmen adapted quickly with the help of Goldberg’s coaching staff and veteran teammates. “It was hard,” Uzen said. “But now I’m good.” And yet, Uzen has performed better than just her own self-assured “good.” She has won Patriot League Rookie of the Week two weeks in a row. She also remains squarely as a centerpiece of the team’s offense with 3.45 kills per set in conference play, highest of the team. While challenges existed transitioning to an American volleyball court, there were some hurdles in the classroom to jump as well. International students often face an extra layer of difficulty at American colleges, particularly language difficulties and using English constantly.

“I knew that overseas was going to help us,” Goldberg said. The Eagles’ 2019 season is no exception. The team finished atop the Patriot League standings, following a dominant 15-game winning streak to close out the season. However, these busy schedules and time together has bonded this talented group. Goldberg emphasized that younger players should worry about feeling good on the team, not so much their play. “Before I came here, it was a little bit scary,” Uzen explained. “I’m cool right now. Freshman libero Rachael Bennett agreed with that sense of coolness, both attributed this to the team’s strong chemistry. “Even just being here for three months so far, the atmosphere is so great," she said. A key aspect of the team’s buying in to Goldberg’s philosophies comes from LILY MENDELSON / THE EAGLE the fact that the team does not have any #1 Zeynep Uzen. designated captains. “It’s challenging because I’m learning “On other teams when there’s a in a different language,” Uzen said. leadership role they think it’s their job “Sometimes I have the answer in my mind [only], but for us, we all chip in,” senior but there’s a language barrier.” middle blocker Jeanne Westney said. Wassner had similar difficulties, but Wassner said that while this team now that she’s in her third year of college, dynamic does come with challenges, it said she has put most of those issues has also allowed her to become a better behind her. teammate. “It was harder for me in school just “It’s kind of a new role for me, to be to pay attention to a foreign language, the very first setter and have so much it’s more exhausting,” Wassner said. “It responsibility leading a team, but I'm takes me longer to do the homework, like really enjoying the challenge,” Wassner readings [and] writing papers. I still think said. it takes me longer than a native speaker but with enough effort, it wasn’t a problem.” Since joining the school in 1989, Goldberg has gone on to amass a 262-18 (.935) Patriot League record. Since AU joined the Patriot League in 2001, Goldberg’s team has been more than just a dominating force, having won the Patriot League Championship for 15 out of 18 seasons. “When I first got the job at American, I had to start thinking about [recruiting],” Goldberg told The Eagle. “Who is it that would come to American University and could be involved in sport?” Goldberg said it became about selling the school and the city, which D.C. does by itself. “The school has certain things that it does very well; it’s a high-end academic school," he said. "There's a lot of international flavor, even when I first came here." Goldberg said he travels internationally about once a LILY MENDELSON / THE EAGLE year to scout and recruit players at European tournaments. #10 Aleksandra Sochacka.



Student journalists deserve a way to hold their universities accountable Private college campuses should be subject to freedom of information regulations

by Lauren Patetta

Assistant Opinion Editor

It is very hard to be a student journalist. It’s even harder to be a student journalist with little to no access to information about the institutions you’re attempting to cover. American University is a private university, which means it is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As a result, student journalists (and other information-seeking students or citizens) cannot file FOIA requests to gain access to records that the school holds, many of which would provide information to students about the operation of the university that they attend. In the three years that I have written for The Eagle, I’ve noticed how much of a hassle making these requests can be. The University is rarely forthcoming with accurate information, and there’s little we can do about it, besides continuing to ask the administration to give us even the

tiniest amount of details. Student journalists at public schools, which are subject to FOIA, have accomplished a number of amazing things, thanks to their ability to legally request and access information. Students at the University of Kansas used public records to uncover secret settlements to a faculty member in their design school. Students at the University of Manchester used their version of a FOIA request to find out how much money the university invested in fossil fuels. Students at Utah State University uncovered ways in which their tuition money was being spent by filing public records requests. A Princeton University student used New Jersey open record laws to write a piece about campus tax evasion. These students uncovered stories and wrote groundbreaking pieces in an attempt to check the power of their universities. The ability to access University information is a vital way in which student journalists can do their jobs and hold their institutions accountable for their actions – which is why students at private universities should be able to FOIA information from their own institutions or at least have an easier way to access information. Schools like American University, with robust journalism programs, often act as a training ground for young aspiring reporters. For many of us, it’s our first contact with the realm of reporting. Students should be able to learn what the job of a full-time reporter entails on

campus, so restricting the amount of information available to them can be a hindrance to that learning. Of course, the lack of protection from FOIA hasn’t stopped the student journalists I know from doing incredible work. But it does mean that it’s much harder to perform the role of a school newspaper and disseminate information to other students on campus. Granted, we all agreed to the rules of a private university when we sent in our first tuition payments, but we did so hoping that the University would still be transparent and inform us of what’s going on. That hasn’t always been the case, and for a college campus where many of us live and work and eat and sleep, we deserve to know some of what goes on behind the curtain. Private universities simply do not operate like other private institutions such as companies or large businesses, because it is a place where people go about their daily lives. People don’t live and sleep at their jobs, but we do live and sleep at universities. Because of this, shouldn’t students have more of a right to know what’s going on behind closed doors? If we're living on this campus and we're here for 24 hours a day all semester, don’t we have a right to know what happens on it? There is some hope for one day allowing students to file FOIA requests because private school power is not absolute. Schools are not allowed to have total control over their students, and

Residence hall rats bring community to AU

there is certain information that has been deemed necessary to release to the public. The Clery Act requires both public and private universities to publish campus crime data each year. In California, the Leonard Law restricts school censorship of newspapers. Since these laws have already restricted some private university power, there is always the possibility that FOIA could be opened up to student journalists at private universities. Unfortunately, I don’t believe it’s likely, but I do believe that it should be allowed at least in some scenarios. I understand that certain information needs to be protected. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which safeguards student education records, must always be protected. The University does have a legal right to restrict certain information — it’s a private school and the administration has privileges granted to them by the government that public schools do not have. But if the University is not going to be open about anything, which so often seems to be the case, then we should at least have some tools at our disposal to report on that, and FOIA is often one of the best tools a journalist has. Lauren Patetta is a junior in the School of Communication and an assistant editor for the opinion section. lpatetta@theeagleonline.com


Explosion in rat population labeled as “welcome sight” by administration

by Justin Poulin 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. The sounds of scampering feet echoed throughout the empty, dead-end alleyway that leads to the McDowell-Cassell construction site. It was midnight on Nov. 3, the day the clocks went back for daylight savings time. During the extra hour of

darkness, the nightly plague of AU’s tens of thousands of rats ravaged through the alcoholic seltzer-filled trash cans. “They’re here again,” sophomore Zeke Newton said, shivering in his Fur Vault coat as he watched a rat choke on plastic clearly misplaced in the trash can. “This is prime hunting time for them.” In this explosion of mass vermin, some students looked back to a time when there were fewer rats and other disease-ridden animals on campus. “It used to only be in the dorms,” junior Freddy Nietzsche said. “I can remember hearing the squeaking through the thin walls of my room in Letts. Wait, actually, that might not have been a rat.” Between the heroic dashes into the University’s sewer system and confrontations with rabbits, the rats have provided much intrigue for students. “It’s absolutely fascinating,” says junior Roberta Jenkins, a “Wonk Rat” watcher and Rodentology major. “I just love the way they disappear into the shrubbery

around here. You never know where they’re gonna pop up once they’re gone!” The rat population is so large that some may be beginning to think that famous rodent celebrities have now joined campus life. “I’m telling you, I saw Stuart Little driving away from a construction worker the other day,” senior Indigo Maroon said. “I’m not kidding. There was a camera crew and everything.” While some students have been shocked and haunted by the thought of rats, most have grown used to the sight of them. “I don’t even get startled anymore when I see one zip across the sidewalk,” sophomore Uma Sheffield said. “There’s like 20 generations of rats now, so this place would practically become a cultural heritage site if we got rid of them.” Others have questioned the administration’s decision to let the rats run freely. “They’re living rent-free while I’m

paying thousands,” says freshman Jeffrey Kox. “It’s not the problem of how gross the thought of that is; it’s an issue of ethics. Where is my free room and board?” The administration responded to the electrifying rat population in its monthly newsletter. “We need a heightened sense of community,” President Sylvia Burwell wrote. “With no frat parties or tailgates to get black-out drunk at, this new community of rats will remind students that getting C’s isn’t the only thing they should be worried about.” The newly welcomed neighbors are accordingly transitioning to life as Eagles, and surely soon, the thought of rats will be met not with snickers, but with the resounding squeals of “Rattus Rattus.” Justin Poulin is a sophomore in the School of International Service, and is a satire columnist at the Eagle. jpoulin@theeagleonline.com


theEAGLE December 2019

University classes ignore the breadth of diversity within Islam

By only considering Islam as Middle Eastern/North African, there is missed opportunity

by Samantha McAllister

Managing Editor for Opinion

In 2010, there were approximately 1.6 billion Muslims spread across the world, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s a lot of people across the world, living in wildly different geographic and cultural contexts. It means that in every global region, there are Muslims living within those borders, going about their daily lives that look entirely different in Indonesia than they do in Nigeria. More Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region than in the Middle East and North Africa. This year alone has seen the occupation of Kashmir by the Indian government amid increased tensions between India and Pakistan and the mostly Muslim Uighur population in China be put into concentration camps. But you wouldn’t know that based on University course offerings. The

University and particularly the School of International Service continue to act as if Muslims are only living in the Middle East and North Africa. Most of the population in the Middle East-North Africa region is Muslim, while in the Asia-Pacific region, it is not quite 25 percent. So it is understandable why much of the focus has been on how to understand Islam in that specific context. But the fact is, Muslims are a diverse religious group. With Islam so clearly playing a role in the geopolitics of India-Pakistan tensions, especially with the current Prime Minister’s appeals to Hindu-Indian nationalism, it seems that an understanding of the role Islam has had in that region might be helpful for those who want to work in it. For SIS students, it would seem almost mandatory for any student focused on the South Asia region. And still, there is no course offered examining Islam in this context. The religion class on Islam does not count as a regional credit towards the South Asia or any other region, as the class focuses on the Middle East. As it is a religion class, not a politics one, it makes sense that it focuses on the Middle East, since the emergence and history of Islam is tied to that region. But students interested in this region should feel encouraged to take this class as more than what would end up being an elective. As there are only three courses at the University that can

be taken to complete a South and Central Asia regional focus, it would seem that those students are being told they cannot complete this area without classes abroad, often forcing students to compromise their studies or their wallets. As smaller conflicts throughout sub-Saharan Africa fade in and out of mainstream Western news, the role Islam plays in ethnicity and other cultural practices is relevant to better understand these countries. But again, there are no consistently offered classes that address the unique ways Islam has influenced the culture and politics in nations like Mali, Nigeria, Sudan and South Sudan. Instead, students may have to work to find classes that would educate them on this issue. In learning more about the culture and politics of Central or East Asia, the history Islam has had in these countries is again pushed aside. For SIS students to have a complete understanding of this region this means taking a class outside of the major, but in order to receive credit for the course, they must get approval from the Dean’s Office. This approval depends on the appropriate amount of course content from the region itself. But the availability of classes that combine Islam and regions beside Middle East-North Africa are few and far between at AU at large. There are scholars and academic scholarship focusing on Islam and these regions, so offering multiple classes on

The University's approach to sexual violence education is informative, but flawed

Islam and different global areas should not be a challenge. In a global system where countries seem to be on the retreat, learning about the variety of intersections that Islam has throughout world regions is a necessity. Not every Muslim is Middle Eastern; not every practice of Islam is the same; and not everyone can be represented by a single religion. Hinduism is important to understanding Indian culture and politics, but so is Islam, Sikhism and other religions. Christianity has had widespread influence throughout Europe and Eurasia, but Islam has influenced this region as well. The narrative that the only Muslims are Arab Muslims is inaccurate yet still dominant in the United States, particularly in a post-9/11 context, where the words "Arab" and "Muslim" have essentially become synonymous in discourse. The role Islam plays in the Middle East-North Africa region is vital to understanding this complexity, and it makes sense that there are plenty of courses to discuss that. However, Islam plays a role on the global stage, outside of that region. Not acknowledging the diversity present in Islam, as in most religions, is a disservice to students. Samantha McAllister is the Opinion Managing Editor for The Eagle and a junior in the School of International Service. smcallister@theeagleonline.com

Staff Editorial

Record number of open Title IX investigations makes it unclear how well University is handling process of filing sexual violence reports by The Eagle Editorial Board As of March 2019, the University has five open federal investigations from the Office of Civil Rights, a part of the Department of Education, into the Title IX office. This is a record number of complaints for the mediumsized university that AU is categorized as. There are some schools with four complaints, but one of those universities has a population of 40,000 students, a radically different percentage and likelihood of this number of open investigations. Each of the University’s investigations has been opened in the last four years, and notably, we do not know who filed these investigations or why they filed them. As members of the student body, these investigations still being open after years, in some cases, is troubling. The fact that students know that they can open these investigations would seem to be a positive, but the fact that so many have opened is concerning. It is likely not AU's fault that some of these cases have been open for so long. As political administrations change, so do their priorities. However, there

should be better communication from the University about these cases existing and what AU may be doing to improve their Title IX process. Anyone who spends some time on campus is aware of the political and social activism of the student body. That may mean that this number of cases is reflective of a school doing its part to educate students on their rights when it comes to Title IX and sexual violence. The Empower AU program is wellimplemented, educating students about the issues of sexual violence and intervention skills for the first time in an academic setting. With leaders who treat the subject matter seriously and encourage questions, first-year students at AU are getting exposed to the resources and processes they need to know about early in their college careers. AU’s Palmer Survey has shown that students know more about Title IX after the Empower AU course, as other universities use Empower AU as a model for their own schools. Empower AU and the inclusion of Title IX education in AUx courses is a rare case of the University acting proactively on an issue. At other universities, open

discussion about these issues is more rare, which makes attitudes on those campuses entirely different. Education programs lead to an increase in reports filed because students are more aware of their rights. What is an issue is how that education continues past orientation. For older students who did not take AUx, Empower AU is now a distant memory. Different clubs require more training on Title IX issues, which can have a positive impact on the culture within that club. But that isn’t a consistent requirement for any student organizations, and arguably should be, as different organizations continue to be removed from campus for hazing or sexual violence. Title IX education for freshmen has also varied over the years. Many students go into AUx with a negative attitude, unwilling to engage in such an important discussion or the instructor may not make the lesson particularly engaging for students. Visits from members of the Title IX office could make a difference in the interest level. The University has to do more to continue students’ education

and awareness, aside from campus events that students may have difficulty attending. Perhaps the most important thing to consider about the culture at AU surrounding Title IX is the need for it to be addressed by students. Preventing sexual violence is nearly impossible to measure, but students must continue to empower each other to make whatever decision is best for a survivor. Allyship only works if students put in the work to make sure that survivors feel supported, and students’ lack of awareness of these complaints is an issue. Without activism by the University student body, it is difficult to see any improvements being made in the Title IX process. These five open federal investigations indicate that at least on some level, there are issues with parts of the Title IX process. AU is doing better work than many other universities in handling a structural problem, but there are still flaws that need readdressing so that any student that needs Title IX’s help knows that they are getting the support they need. opinion@theeagleonline.com


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