The Eagle October 2020

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the EAGLE October 2020



AU to lose up to $116 million due to COVID-19 What does this mean for the University's future?, p. 6


theEAGLE October 2020


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3 Students with disabilities share the ups and downs of online learning 4 Clubs find ways to make community virtually 5 American University students find passion and purpose through working on campaigns 6 University to lose up to $116 million to coronavirus expenses, raising questions about AU's future 8 Women of color leave Greek life after a series of racism allegations

LIFE 10 Thrift shops in the District faces challenges due to the coronavirus; Art curators and artists respond to online museums and creative disruptions 11 The show must go on: AU student performing arts groups go virtual 12 Scenes That Stick: Love and loss in 'The Last Five Years'


12 When it comes to swimming, Eleanor Felton has a regal presence 13 2013 Eagles shine in team sports, but Sa’eed Nelson’s individual season tops the decade’s best 14 Club Sports’ fall and spring seasons in state of uncertainty

OPINION 15 Column: Normalize making folks with disabilities a priority 16 Column: Now what?; Satire: Five ways to keep yourself awake during Zoom classes 17 Staff Ed: AU's budget losses are concerning for the long-term future

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theEAGLE October 2020



Students with disabilities share the ups and downs of online classes 'I was incapable of performing at the level I usually am,' one student says by Kelsey Carolan and Abbie Veitch Managing Editor for News and Administrative and Local News Editor Uprooted from campus in a matter of days, American University students faced an unprecedented amount of stress when classes transitioned online, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. But for students with disabilities, the switch posed a threat to their usual accomodations and learning habits that have been moulded for an inperson setting. The Academic Support and Access Center, which serves about 6,000 students a year, provides support services for all students and more extensive accommodations for students with disabilities. When the University transitioned online in the spring, they had to adapt to were faced with a challenge — transitioning all of those services meant for an in-person setting to a virtual setting. For students with disabilities, ASAC serves as a resource they can rely on for testing accommodations, assistive technology, like text-to-speech support, and priority registration for courses. Sami Pye, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been using ASAC accommodations since the first semester of her freshman year. When the University announced in March that classes would be moved online,ment was made that classes were to be online indefinitely, she was concerned about what that meant for her accommodations. “Suddenly I went from taking my finals in a really controlled environment, to taking them in my childhood bedroom,” Pye said. “I was incapable of performing at the level I usually am.” While ASAC did quickly transition most of their services online, according to Associate Director of Disability Supportervices Nicole Nowinski, some of their services, such as the testing center, can no longer be physically utilized by students. Nowinski said one of the biggest changes has been that, while they still provide testing accommodations, ASAC no longer manages the logistics of administering the tests. With professors now managing test administration, students have to notify them about using their accommodations at least seven days prior to an assessment. “But with that shift, our staff, we've intentionally provided information to students, to let them know that if they need support with this change, we're available and how to talk with faculty about that change,” Nowinski said, noting that professors are legally required to allow those accommodations to be used if they are notified in advance. Pye is one of many studentsn’t the only student to strugglingstruggle with not being able to learn as effectively in a physical setting. Alida Austin, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Public Affairs, said she is having a hard time paying attention into online classes. In person, Austin, like Pye, had accommodations to take structured, physical breaks during class. Now, she said there is no distinction between breaks and online learning, especially if professors don’t require students to turn their cameras on. “In a physical setting, if I'm sitting on my phone, professors can tell,” Austin said. “[Now] I can get up and go make myself coffee, I can do cooking. I can basically do whatever.” Austin also discussed how asynchronous classes


AU studetns with disabilities adapt to online learning. can be particularly challenging, and she's unsure if she is learning as much as she used to. She said it is easy to skim slides and miss information when the lectures are completed individually. “I worry a little bit about if any of this is actually cemented in my brain,” Austin said. Pye previously went to the ASAC office weekly to organize her notes and set up a schedule for her week that helped her with time management. She said when the officey had to transition all of their services online, she felt like AU ignored the accommodations that students with disabilities already had. “I feel like students with disabilities were definitely thrown under the rug when all of this went down and so many accommodations were made for other people,” Pye said. “I feel like I'm just floating around trying to figure out my academics on my own now in a way that I'm not really used to.” Dean of Undergraduate Education Jessica Waters said ASAC expanded many of their services to the whole AU community, which led them to invest more in assistive technology and software and increase the staff in some academic support offices. However, for senior Victoria Vena, not having to physically attend in-person classes has improved her mental health and her ability to better manage her grades. She said she found many attendance policies for in-person classes to be “super ableist.” “There are definitely days where I wake up and I don’t have the energy to get out of bed or just the thought of having to – and I lived off-campus – get up, bring myself all the way to campus and get there was so overwhelming,” Vena said. “I just wouldn’t go to class and now that’s mitigated by being able to take classes from the comfort of my own bed.” Dealing with depression throughout college, Vena said she stopped requesting ASAC accomodations after her sophomore year because she couldn’t actively see a doctor each semester to receive a note. She said it seemed like a waste of time and energy to restart the process for the accommodations to be renewed just as they began. Nowinski said since the transition to online classes, new registrations for accommodations have decreased. She said this could be due to the fact that some students’ needs are met through the online learning environment,

but that there is no data or evidence to prove that. As a result of this transition, Dean Waters said she and other administrators were challenged to think about new ways to engage students who may have had trouble participating in-person. “Maybe [students] are, verbally speaking, maybe they are engaging in the chat function, maybe it is in breakout rooms,” Waters said. “So, I think it has really forced us to grapple with, how do we create meaningful student engagement versus just attendance and participation.” She said that online classes, while challenging for many, have also presented an opportunity for the University to consider how to expand more inclusive options for all students in the future. “I think it also advances the conversation around inclusive pedagogy as well,” Waters said. “Making sure that the learning in our classes is fully available to them [students] in an inclusive way. I think in some ways those conversations have advanced.” Inclusive pedagogy refers to a student-centered approach to teaching that focuses on varied learning styles and abilities and prioritizes equity in the classroom. The University is already exploring new ways they can adapt to challenges posed to students face. AU made adjustments to the “Freshman Forgiveness” policy, which previously allowed students within their first 30 credits at the University to repeat two classes for a grade replacement. Waters said the University renamed it “Course Repetition and Grade Replacement,” since any undergraduate can now use it at any point during their academic career. Vena said she would like to see some of the current aspects of online school maintained when AU transitions back to in-person classes. “Even if I am having a bad day and for whatever reason I’m not in class, the fact that I can go onto Blackboard and watch a recording of class, making sure that I’m literally not missing a single thing that the professor says is super reassuring,” Vena said. “I would love to see that somehow be continued even when inperson classes are resumed.”


theEAGLE October 2020

Clubs find ways to create community virtually From virtual concerts to lobbying from bedrooms, students stay connected through clubs by Isabella Goodman Life Staff Writer

Though the transition to a completely virtual semester has made it more difficult for American University students to connect with each other, clubs on campus have worked to create community through Zoom. After announcing on July 30 that AU would be operating fully online for the fall 2020 semester, the AU Club Council, the Center for Student Involvement and club leaders began to plan for a virtual semester. “The first feeling was, ‘Wow, it's going to be challenging to create a sense of community,’” CSI Associate Director Calvin Haney said. “The second feeling was, ‘Wow this is an interesting opportunity to practice what we preach, in terms of good use of social media engaging in the digital space.’” To help clubs navigate virtual meetings, CSI and AUCC held virtual training sessions on how to use Zoom and engage with the community. To further mitigate any confusion from club leaders about how AUCC is operating this semester, they created several subcommittees to support clubs: the Get Involved Committee, the Leadership Development Committee and the Community Building Committee. “Last semester we weren't sure how to adapt; everything was changing,” said Katy Selinger, AU College Republicans President. “Over the summer, we definitely took advantage of the online classes going on and all the Zoom trainings ... to figure out what we wanted to do for this semester.” Selinger said that for AUCR, the transition online has made it harder for new members to connect with the organization in a more informal way, making community-building a much more difficult task. One thing that’s just really lacking in a completely online setting is you don't have the chance to stop by and talk to somebody on the way out the door as everyone's leaving an event,” Selinger said. For clubs that are performance-based or typically require some element of in-person meetings, the transition involved a lot of uncertainty. “The adjustment has been difficult because, in a club like Pitches Be Trippin’, the majority of what we do relies on in-person interactions and in-person rehearsals,” said Hannah Gandell, the community chair of a cappella group Pitches Be Trippin’. “Without those, a lot of what makes our group an a cappella group kind of disappears.” The group still meets regularly over Zoom, and to produce content, they’ve learned to get creative with the way they use social media, whether that’s learning ways to film and edit videos remotely or posting TikToks introducing the members. A cappella groups rely heavily on a person-to-person connection for recruitment, Gandell said, which Pitches felt couldn’t be done genuinely over Zoom. As a result, the group suspended recruitment for the semester, but have tried to stay connected with new students through the involvement fair and social media. Other clubs, like AU’s chapter of March For Our Lives, have had an easier time translating their club into a virtual experience, even though it still has its drawbacks. Though in-person lobbying and demonstrations have been integral to how the group has operated in the past, it’s had success lobbying virtually. Still, Co-Director Sam Hamilton says there’s less of a connection. “There’s been like a lot of really great lobby days, but it's definitely not as personal,” Hamilton said. “Part of the fun of lobby days is preparing with your friends and getting dressed up to go to the Hill. Whereas now

American University College Republicans is working to build community, although it is more difficult in an online setting.



The First Generation Student Union is a new AU club that officially started this fall and is trying to get its start virtually.

it's sitting in your bed and putting on a suit coat over your T-shirt, which is convenient but it definitely doesn't have the same feel as it used to.” Because of the election year, political clubs have used the fact that AU students are spread across the country to their advantage. “Of course we're not advocating everybody go knocking door to door because of the restrictions and whatnot, but now people can really get more connected with campaigns in their own communities,” said Jeremy Ward, executive director of AU College Democrats. One thing that all clubs have in common? Constant attempts to minimize Zoom burnout. “People get Zoomed out, being on Zoom for classes and everything else,” Ward said. “They may not want to be on a Zoom even though they’re dedicated to a club or organization.” To limit this, AU College Democrats have tried to incorporate more interactive and social events, like trivia nights and virtual scavenger hunts. The First-Generation Student Union, a club that officially started this fall, has had to navigate not only the pressure of trying to alleviate Zoom fatigue, but also to establish a (virtual) presence on campus. President Veronica Pacheco said that the club is using

social media to promote themselves, but she doesn’t expect the club to meet over Zoom as often as more established clubs would. “If we were on campus, there might’ve been more pressure to do a whole bunch of events, but I think it's good to kind of take this time to really plan out everything in terms of getting our name out there, establishing more members, getting a more solid e-board,” Pacheco said. Ultimately, the clubs on campus are taking things one month at a time, trying to adapt to a new experience as best they can. Haney said that students continue to make connections virtually. As the community chair of Pitches Be Trippin’, one of Gandell’s priorities is the health and wellbeing of the group, which she says other club leaders should keep in mind. “To any club members, club leaders, club e-boards, always check in on your group because, for a lot of people, clubs are their safe space and their way to get away from a lot of other stressors,” Gandell said. “If there's an absence of that community, it can really take a toll on people who treat this as their main source of joy on campus.”


theEAGLE October 2020

American University students find passion and purpose through working on campaigns Working for candidates while still being a student has been a fulfilling experience by Sarah Mattalian

Student Government Beat Reporter


AU students are helping politicians with campaigns all over the East Coast. like there was too much at stake for me to not get involved,” Ludden said. “There’s too many people who aren’t able to do what I’m able to do. I know that I’m doing everything I can to make sure that our country goes in the direction that I think it needs to.” Andrew Laureti, who is graduating with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SPA in December, shares a similar sense of urgency when it comes to being politically-active. He works as a digital organizing associate on Joe Biden’s campaign. It’s a job that entails a lot of responsibilities, which Laureti willingly takes on.


People familiar with American University know that it’s common to see AU students on Capitol Hill or interning with a political advocacy group or a lobbying firm. But during the election c ycle, people can also find them working on campaigns, for local and national races. Even amid the coronavirus pandemic, students continue to knock on doors, call voters and take other actions to campaign virtually for candidates across the country. Many students said they’ve found campaign work fulfilling and worthwhile during this time. Katia Portela, a junior in the School of Public Affairs, chose to only take two classes from home in New York City this semester, while working on Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign as a field lead organizer for the Corona neighborhood in Queens. Her job includes bringing food and supplies to hardhit families, among many other responsibilities. “When the pandemic hit, I wanted to work on a New York City campaign because I’m really passionate about electoral and community organizing, and bringing that together in New York,” Portela said. Thus, the work Portela does goes beyond phone banking, census work and field strategy. Working for Ocasio-Cortez has allowed her to help her city in ways that she otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do. This involves COVID-19 relief, checking in on families and feeling like she’s truly making a difference in communities. “I love the work itself, and the people that I organize with, the community theaters I’ve connected with in Corona, as well as the rest of my team, they’re some of the most inspiring people in the world,” Portela said. Rolando Cantú, a senior taking a semester off from AU, volunteered for Ocasio-Cortez in 2018. In the fall of 2019, he worked for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), then a presidential candidate, as a communications intern during the New Hampshire primary. Cantú spoke highly of his experience working for Sanders, during which he got to travel throughout New England. “It was a really interesting experience ... seeing the behind the scenes coordination, seeing how they prep all the rallies and speeches,” Cantú said. He also mentioned how vulnerable people he met while campaigning were willing to be. Cantú said a man confided in him about his past drug addiction, questioning if, by voting for Sanders, he would be electing someone who would work to end the opioid crisis. Josh Ludden, a senior in SPA, works as a fulltime field organizer for Democrat John Kane of Pennsylvania, who is running for state senate. Only taking one class at AU this semester so he can work, he said he relocated from Syracuse, New York, to West Chester, Pennsylvania, for the campaign and is living in an Airbnb until the end of the campaign. “The reason I did it this cycle was because I felt

during this time. “When you’re going to a community [to donate supplies] that you have ties to, and you see eight blocks of people not socially distanced waiting in line to get a bag of food … [it] is really tough,” Portela said. Ludden said that he sometimes gets frustrated feeling like he’s doing the same thing every day. Similarly, Cantú said that campaigning through social media and digital information, instead of meeting with people face to face, felt far less impactful. Laureti, however, appreciates being able to do work from different locations.


The reason I did it this cycle was because I felt like there was too much at stake for me to not get involved. There's too many people who aren't able to do what I'm able to do. I know that I'm doing everything I can to make sure our country goes in the direction that I think it needs to. -Josh Ludden, senior

“Working for a candidate, naturally you're submitting yourself to, you know, being under pressure a lot of the time,” Laureti said. “There's just so much. There's never enough time. So, it's a little bit stressful, but I love it; it's incredibly rewarding.” The pandemic challenges campaign workers’ ability to do their jobs as effectively as they could during a normal election cycle. Portela said there is an emotional toll when campaigning

Despite current circumstances, all four said that campaigning fulfills them, and makes them feel like they’re making a positive difference in politics. "The things that I’m doing are going to affect the outcome of millions of people,” Cantú said. “It’s a job where you can see your perceived opinion of what ‘good’ is.”


theEAGLE October 2020

University to lose up to $116 million to coronavirus expenses, raising questions about AU’s future Weeklong furloughs, paused retirement plan contributions spark faculty concerns by Nina Heller and Sophia Solano News Staff Writers

The price of 2,325 students’ tuition and fees for a 2019-20 year at American University. The salaries of 672 fulltime professors in 2018. The price of living in a double-occupancy dorm in Anderson Hall — if the building needed to fit 11,490 students during the 2019-20 academic year. These are equivalent to what the University projects it will lose from the impacts of the coronavirus. In May, President Sylvia Burwell announced in an email to the AU community that “using a more conservative approach,” the University could lose $100 million in revenue and increased costs for the 2021 fiscal year. Since then, that number has increased, due to the financial strain of an entirely virtual semester. Over the summer, the University

announced a hybrid plan for the fall, including a mixture of in-person and online classes. Freshmen and some sophomores would spend money to live on campus. After an increase in coronavirus cases and the implementation of a new D.C. quarantine rule, AU reversed its original decision. The University moved all classes online, canceled almost all oncampus housing and discounted tuition by 10 percent. In September, the University announced an estimated loss between $104 and $116 million. This loss equals about 9 percent of the University's net assets, according to AU’s 2018 tax forms. The impacts of these losses on the University will last until fiscal year 2022, according to Fanta Aw, vice president of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence. AU Chief Financial Officer Doug Kudravetz said that the finalized amount depends on the enrollment and circumstances of the spring semester.


An inside look at what makes up the American University budget for fall 2020-2021.

“The 116 [million] really assumes that we're going to be online in the spring again,” Kudravetz said. “The president always tells me don’t say the worst case, but we’re planning for the worst case.” In an email to The Eagle after the spring plan was released, expanding some in-person operations, University spokesperson Stacie Burgess said that the estimates from September will not change for the spring semester, and that any additional revenue from housing will be more than offset by additional costs for testing requirements and other measures. Burwell also announced that to cope with financial losses, AU would pause new construction, cut salaries for her and her cabinet, implement a hiring freeze, require an employee furlough and stop merit increases for faculty and staff making more than $40,000 annually. Additionally, the University will not match employee contributions

to retirement funds for a year. According to Kudravetz, the University’s losses come from issuing housing and dining refunds to students in March, increased investment in technology to help support employees and students for the online semester, the 10 percent tuition discount for the summer and fall and funding benefits for contract workers. The 10 percent tuition discount caused the University to lose around $27 million, and the lack of housing and dining revenue this semester meant the loss of another $20 million, according to Kudravetz. “We've been tuition dependent for so long and we've always talked about additional sources of revenue, but quite frankly, we haven't done a good job of seeking other sources of revenue,” he said. In fiscal year 2018, AU’s endowment was about $695 million, according to the University’s most recent budget


theEAGLE October 2020 report. However, the University is using about $38 million in endowment income to help offset the losses, according to Kudravetz. This is the maximum amount of unrestricted income that the University is able to use. The University was also given $6.3 million from the federal government as part of the CARES Act, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Kudravetz said that half went to student aid, which is the minimum required by the government. The University used the other half to offset costs, such as housing and dining refunds from Spring 2020, Kudravetz said. Impacts on faculty and staff

Athletics While athletics are not as prominent a part of life at AU as at other universities, the department is facing some of the most extreme financial strain because of the pandemic, compared to other departments.


An introspective look back at how AU has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The athletic department receives revenue from sporting events each season, most notably from soccer in the fall and basketball in the winter, according to Josephine Harrington, deputy director of athletics. Since the Patriot League announced its cancellation of all fall sports seasons, there has been no competition this fall. While many other Division I programs have been eliminated as part of budget cuts, due to COVID-19, Harrington said that she does not foresee the department cutting any sports, as AU is already at the National Collegiate Athletic Association


As part of the effort to cope with financial losses, the University is requiring all employees making over $40,000 to take five furlough days, or a temporary unpaid leave of absence, between November and April. According to a budget report released by the University in March 2019, AU was slated to spend $258 million on salaries for full-time faculty and staff, adjunct faculty and part-time staff in fiscal year 2021. “Nobody’s happy about it, but there’s really nothing else they can do,” said John Heywood, chair of the Faculty Senate. In an email sent to the AU community in April, Burwell announced that she would receive a 15 percent pay cut, while the executive team – the provost and vice presidents – would take pay cuts of 8 percent. In another email sent at the end of September, Burwell announced that deans, former deans who have returned to the faculty, former provosts and the former president will all be taking salary cuts. However, the aggregate savings of pay cuts are small compared to the losses accumulated due to the pandemic. “It more functions as a show of good faith. It's not going to affect whether people were going to be laid off,” said Dan Bauman, a data reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education. “But it might be easier if the president can feel better about him or herself and it might be easier, politically on campus, to ask for those tough decisions to be made if people believe that you’re also suffering alongside them.” Faculty and staff are also concerned by AU’s paused retirement plan contributions. While employees can put away as much as they please into their retirement fund, the University will not double match their contribution this year, as they have in previous years. In fiscal year 2018, the University spent $3.3 million on pension plan accruals and contributions, according to tax forms. “For the folks getting ready to retire, it’s concerning,” Heywood said. “It’s a really good deal, it’s a wonderful thing. The worry is that they won’t return. They said they will return, but it’s always in the back of your head. People’s retirement is important.”

Harrington would not comment on any cuts to athletic scholarships, saying that they fell under the purview of the financial aid office. Looking ahead After using all the unrestricted funds from the endowment and other reserves for fiscal year 2021, the University finds itself at a crossroads. According to Kudravetz, reserves had been built up over 20 years, and

Nobody's happy about it, but there's really nothing else they can do. - John Heywood, Faculty Senate

Division I minimum. Because all new construction projects have been stopped, the future of The Center for Athletic Performance is uncertain. The University announced the project in September 2019, following a $3 million donation from prominent donors Denise and Jack Cassell. Harrington said that before the pandemic hit, the University had just begun a planning stage for The Center for Athletic Performance, but is now awaiting further direction from the University.


using them has come at a risk. “It also limits our flexibility and limits our future investment opportunities. So we have to continue, we have to be disciplined and begin to build that back as soon as we can, to build back those reserves because they're important for the University to have,” Kudravetz said. The University said, for fiscal year 2021, it isn’t considering largescale layoffs or cuts to financial aid and scholarships, health and wellness services, Title IX, equity and support

services, academic support services and student employment wages. However, the University is considering a series of actions to help mitigate the effects in the future. This may include another furlough week and salary reductions, among other options. While the University had initially discussed the possibility of another furlough week or salary reductions, Burwell announced on October 12 that there will be no further University-wide personnel actions taken for now, including additional furloughs or salary cuts. Kudravetz said that the reserves have allowed the university to avoid large-scale layoffs, but without the reserves, future investment opportunities are limited. Overall, the University has identified $104 million in savings to date for fiscal year 2021, but some, including Student Trustee Ben Holtzman, worry that AU has a long way to go until it is in the clear. “What [are] the sustainable solutions to acquiring the savings necessary to make sure that the institution can get through another rainy day like we're doing right now?” Holtzman said.

For more coronavirus-related news by The Eagle, visit the eaglecoronavirus For the latest updates on AU's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus/.


theEAGLE October 2020

Women of color leave Greek life after a series of racism allegations Five women of color tell their stories by Fariha Rahman

Community Engagement Editor


Muskan Kaur left Alpha Xi Delta in fall 2019. Reed added that the chapter offers grants and scholarships, which can support members with financial need. Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council (IFC) organizations require members to pay dues each semester. While some offer scholarships, financial aid for college expenses cannot cover dues. Additionally, there is a non-refundable $45 recruitment fee associated with rush, even if you do not receive a bid to a Greek organization. Affordability and representation issues also caused senior Muskan Kaur to leave Alpha Xi Delta, a women’s fraternity, in fall 2019. Kaur, who is a founding member and director of the Abolish Panhellenic + IFC group at AU, rushed during the spring of her freshman year. After rushing, Kaur later felt a growing sense of disbelonging. “I saw a lot of colorism,” Kaur said. “My big [sorority sister] was a darker shade of brown than me and was treated so differently.” After reflecting on what she saw and experienced in her own organization, she said that sororities did not represent Black women or women with darker skin. Realizing that she and others were complicit, she co-founded the Abolish Panhellenic + IFC chapter at AU. The chapter’s mission to abolish social Greek life at AU began with a petition that garnered thousands of signatures overnight. Students across the country also started chapters at their own universities. The group says that reform is not enough to rid social Greek organizations of incidents of racism, homophobia, transphobia, elitism and sexual violence. “People have reached out to me and said that I was a woman of color empowered by her sorority but I just got lucky while others were not given that opportunity,” Kaur said. “No one should have to get lucky to feel empowered.” Kennedy Political Union Director Amrutha


After allegations of racism, colorism and sexual assault in the social Greek life community at American University surfaced this summer, many students disaffiliated from sororities and fraternities on campus, with women of color speaking out about the issues they faced while involved in the majoritywhite organizations. Beginning in the summer, social media posts exposing racism and sexual assault allegations on multiple Instagram pages circulated throughout the student body. Many posts said social Greek life was responsible for perpetuating rape culture and racism on campus, with students sharing their allegations anonymously. Students on social media pressured people within social Greek life to take action, which resulted in the disaffiliation of all members of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity chapter at AU and the resignations of all executive board members of the Alpha Xi Delta AU fraternity chapter. Students on social media pressured people within social Greek life to take action, which resulted in the disaffiliation of all members of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity chapter at AU and the resignations of all executive board members of the Alpha Xi Delta AU fraternity chapter. Social Greek life has historically been majority white at AU and at other predominantly white institutions. Some students of color find community within the organizations represented in the Intercultural Greek Collective (IGC). Cultural clubs and organizations are also available for students to find community. The police and citizen killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many other Black Americans led to an eruption of protests throughout the summer. They also led to a reckoning with racism for institutions across the country, including for historically white social Greek organizations. Many women of color, who were once a part of these organizations, said being in an environment where they did not feel welcome was toxic. The following stories from women of color are not a full representation of AU community members who say they have been harmed by social Greek life, but are rather a sample of voices who have chosen to speak out. Multiple members have claimed to face homophobia, transphobia and anti-Black racism as well. In fall 2019, now-junior Ruby Avila chose to disaffiliate from Alpha Chi Omega, a women’s fraternity, due to a lack of diversity and financial aid within social Greek life. Avila said she joined the organization her freshman year to make new friends, but soon felt there was not a place for her.“No one looked like me, no one had the financial status like me, and the people who did, I became friends with them, but they quickly dropped as well,” Avila said. Alpha Chi Omega chapter President Alexandra Reed wrote in an email to The Eagle that the chapter has created leadership positions focused on DEI efforts. “Our hope is that all members feel welcomed and valued as a part of their experience and we work to maintain inclusion and equity in all that we do,” Reed wrote. “These positions are responsible for promoting an inclusive environment through educational events, presentations, and workshops for both members and prospective members."

Chatty, a senior who disaffiliated from Phi Sigma Sigma this past summer, said that she entered her sorority leadership ready to make reforms from the top-down; however, she had her own

People have reache that I was a woman by her sorority but others were not giv No one should hav empo

- Muskan K experiences with being misnamed. Chatty, who is South Asian, said that with a handful of other South Asian members in the sorority, there were multiple instances when she was called the wrong name and mixed up with another South Asian member, even after being a member for multiple years and rising to the role of an executive board member. The chapter did not respond for comment at the time of publication. “In general, the entire system of Greek life is built to marginalize people and keep people of color out,” Chatty said. Simrnjit Seerha, a senior, also disaffiliated from Phi Sigma Sigma over the summer after hearing multiple stories regarding the culture of social Greek life on social media coupled with her own experiences.



Simrnjit Seerha disaffiliated from Phi Sigma Sigma during the summer of 2020.

Prachi Jhawar disaffilliated from Sigma Kappa after one semester of membership.

ed out to me and said n of color empowered I just got lucky while ven that opportunity. ve to get lucky to feel owered.

Kaur, senior


“I felt like I was constantly bringing up this conversation about racism and others would acknowledge it but not really move forward with it,” Jhawar said of her interactions with nationals. Sigma Kappa nationals did not respond to The Eagle’s request for comments by time of publication. Kaur said since beginning the Abolish Panhellenic + IFC chapter, the coalition has gained national attention from students, former Greek alumni and parents. She said various nonprofits have contacted the group to offer resources and assistance. The coalition is currently running social media campaigns to raise awareness about the harms caused by Greek life. They recently held a week of action in which they encouraged students to email administrators and post to social media in support of the movement.


“My initial uncomfortability stemmed from being a first-generation American college student and also a person of color, having a different religion, a different culture, even a different first language," Seerha said. “I was putting so much effort into connecting with people, more so than white members.” Seerha said that after joining the sorority, she was determined to make a change from within by joining the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion council and e-board. “I really wanted to change the structure, but it was beyond my capacity,” Seerha said. “While a lot of people genuinely wanted to make change, it was more performative than not.” Seerha and Chatty said their decision to leave Phi Sigma Sigma was made clear after they saw an anonymous post alleging that one of the organization’s members, former Panhellenic Council President Bella Dixon Smith, used a racist slur at a fraternity party. After apologizing on social media, but refusing to step down, she ultimately resigned the next day. Dixon Smith said she could not be interviewed by The Eagle due to National Panhellenic Conference guidelines. The conference did not respond for comment at the time of publication. “The fact that the Panhellenic president can do that and face no consequences goes to show what a deep rooted issue that we have,” Seerha said. In an email to The Eagle, Acting Panhellenic President Anna Waldman said none of the seven Panhellenic organizations at AU are participating in recruitment for the fall 2020 semester. Formal spring recruitment will be held entirely online. Senior Prachi Jhawar said she disaffiliated from sorority Sigma Kappa after one semester. She felt that Greek life was contributing to a culture of harm on campus and that leaving was the only option.


However, for sorority or fraternity chapters to disband their charter, official documentation that recognizes a university chapter, must be revoked by the University or nationals must decide to abolish it. If all members of a sorority or fraternity leave the chapter it can still be revived by Nationals at any moment. Despite these barriers, some students continue to push for drastic measures to address the harm faced by women of color within social Greek life organizations. “At a school like AU which prides itself on having spaces that are inclusive for everyone, social Greek life should not exist,” Jhawar said. “It’s not about the chapter itself or the people itself, it’s about the power and privilege and this system for upholding social and economic power for some people and suppressing it for others."

At a school like AU which prides itself on having spaces that are inclusive for everyone, social Greek life should not exist. It's not about the chapter itself or the people itself, it's about the power and privilege and this system, for upholding social and economic power for some people and suppressing it for others. - Prachi Jhawar, senior



theEAGLE October 2020

Thrift shops in the District face challenges due to the coronavirus

While some thrift shops have closed their doors, others are struggling to survive by Lizzy Tarallo Style Editor

The future is uncertain for Washington’s thrift shops. Ana Everhart, the owner of Frugalista, a thrift store in Mount Pleasant, said that she worries another shutdown intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus would permanently close her business. Frugalista already shut down for three months, due to the pandemic, which wreaked financial havoc on the business. “We are trying to survive right now,” Everhart said. Everhart said that the financial impact of the pandemic cut Frugalista’s monthly income by half. The shop received funding through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which helped cover part of Frugalista’s rent. Although Frugalista’s landlord allowed Everhart to pay half the amount of rent, Everhart said that she still had to lay off three people. Now, Everhart has to also find a way to pay back the other half of rent. Due to the coronavirus, Frugalista is currently not accepting clothing, which means that everything in stock at the store is from before the pandemic. Luckily, Frugalista has enough clothing to get through the fall and winter months. Everhart said that Frugalista is known for selling professional clothing, which was helpful for young professionals in the area with internships. Now, COVID-19 has changed the landscape of what clothing customers buy. “Now we’re not going to offices to do work anymore. The young professionals are not doing their internships,”

Everhart said. Many customers have been buying more casual clothing such as sweatshirts and sweatpants instead of business clothing such as blouses and dress pants, she said. She said that Frugalista’s 10 percent student discount is still GRACE GEORGE / THE EAGLE in place during the St. Alban's is among the thrift pandemic. shops impacted by COVID-19. Other stores have not been able to remain open like Frugalista. Recently, Arizona-based thrift shop chain company, Buffalo Exchange, which was located on 14th Street, permanently closed. The Opportunity Shop at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church has also shut down until further notice. Due to its close proximity to American University, it is a favorite among students. Cassidy Nelson, an AU senior in the D.C. area this semester, said that she does not go thrift shopping as often since some of her favorite stores are closed. Nelson said that she misses St. Alban’s because she was always able to find what she needed there. “If you were trying to get clothes for professional stuff, or if you were just trying to find a funky T-shirt, they really

had everything there,” Nelson said. Nelson said that when she has gone thrift shopping, there have been fewer people in the store. She also said that some stores have less clothing available, since they are not accepting donations. “There aren’t as many things, which in a way also brings up a problem for people who rely on thrifting as their main source of clothing because there won’t be as many accessible things that they need for the winter,” Nelson said. Nelson said that she began thrift shopping in 2016 in order to live a more sustainable lifestyle. “Shopping fast fashion is accessible to a lot of people,” Nelson said. “Going vintage and thrift shopping isn’tt always accessible, but since I can, I try to limit my waste as much as possible.” Nelson said that she enjoys thrift shopping because she is able to find unique items that she couldn’t find at a chain retailer. She said that she believes thrift shopping may start to shift even more toward websites and apps such as Depop or Poshmark. However, she said that people who may need thrifted clothing won’t be able to access these online platforms. As Frugalista holds on for survival, Everhart emphasized the importance of regular customers helping her persevere. “I am happy and excited because our regulars are coming,” Everhart said. “And some of them are saying, ‘You know what, I don’t need this, but I know you need to survive. You need to keep going.’”

Art curators and artists adjust to online museums and creative disruptions Museums have moved their exhibitions online, but the hard by Stephanie Mirah and Isabella Goodman

Arts and Entertainment Editor, Life Staff Writer

Before the coronavirus pandemic dominated our lives, people commonly spent a weekend afternoon roaming around an art exhibit. There is much to see and experience for general audiences at an art exhibit, from paintings to installations, sculptures to photographs. Museums don’t create themselves, however. The projects are carefully calculated by professionals known as art curators. Since the AU Museum at Katzen Arts Center opened in 2005, Jack Rasmussen, the museum’s director and curator, has played an important role in how the museum works with the AU community. He said that Katzen was built as a focal point for AU’s campus. “Our programs were really more directed towards Washington, D.C., and over the past several years, we've been trying to get more and more corporated into the life of the campus, the academic life,” Rasmussen said. As a very politically-active university, Rasmussen curates shows that reflect on ideas of identity, social justice and politics. Rasmussen says other museums might be hesitant to show exhibits like this because they court controversy, but the AU community is very receptive and supportive of these debatable shows. Though Rasmussen is the only official curator at AU’s museum, he often brings in guest curators to highlight different art experiences. The goal of curators and museums, Rasmussen said, should be to recontextualize history, preserve artwork and change culture. Jordan Amirkhani, a modern and contemporary art history professorial lecturer, said that art galleries do a good job of “hiding the labor that goes into the

work of curators who create them has not stopped

construction and organization of an exhibition.” “It's supposed to look effortless, and that's because curators are responsible for communicating a very clear visual experience for a viewer, for an audience member, for a museum-goer,” Amirkhani said. Amirkhani also works as an independent art curator, focusing on living artists, especially female artists of color and female artists in general. She is curating an exhibit for the Atlanta Biennial at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, which will debut in February 2021. “The word curator comes from the Latin ‘to care,’ and that is something that I think about a lot in my own work, that you are, in a way, a kind of caretaker or steward of artwork and art objects in an art institution,” Amirkhani said. Amirkhani and the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center thought they might have to cancel the Altana Biennial. Once they decided not to cancel it, she said it was still difficult to curate the exhibit. Armirkhani used Zoom and FaceTime to see the artists’ pieces that would be in her collection. “So much of being a curator is being in artists’ studios and seeing work in-person, in real-time,” Amirkhani said. “And, that opportunity was taken [away] from me, and it was really difficult to put together a show with the absence of being able to be in Atlanta.” Rasmussen also adapted by moving his most recent exhibits online, including the series entitled “Contested Space.” Every presidential election cycle, Rasmussen presents exhibits that address some of the most prominent issues leading up to the election.

Photographer Edward Burtynsky’s “Water,” a series that took five years to complete, features in the exhibit. It captures humans’ relationship with water, including in Canada, Iceland and India. According to AU’s website, “Water” was previously “curated by Russell Lord, Freeman Family Curator of Photographs, for the New Orleans Museum of Art in 2013.” “You can get drawn down into just the minute level, and it just holds together all the way down to the almost microscopic. It’s an incredible experience to see these in person,” Rasmussen said about Burtynsky’s series. Burtynsky echoed Rasmussen’s thoughts about his work, saying the online format is not ideal for viewing his photographs. “It's not the experience that you want. You want to stand in front of these prints,” Burtynsky said. “You can go in and put your face six inches away from the picture, and it doesn't fall apart. Everything that is still there, it's readable as information.” Both Rasmussen and Amirkhani are adjusting to these different times while engaging with topics on identity and contested issues leading up to the election. “It has to be relevant to what's going on in the world,” Rasmussen said. “Sometimes, that's the job of the curator for the museum is to provide the context in which you can understand what you're seeing in terms of today.”


theEAGLE October 2020

The show must go on: AU student performing arts groups go virtual Students in the performing arts adapt to the coronavirus pandemic by Clare Mulroy

Food and Fitness Editor

For American University’s performing arts scene, October and November typically signify show dates and a wave of pre-holiday concerts. During this fall semester, there were no posters hung in the Mary Graydon Center and no tabling on the quad. Performing arts groups are facing the challenge of continuing creativity online. Senior Hunter Rich knows this adjustment all too well. As a student in D.C., he walks in streets filled with socially distanced pedestrians. In Baltimore, he works singing gigs in crowded bars with few maskwearing patrons. It’s not the safest situation for Rich, but it’s a necessary risk to pay for school and groceries, and to keep up his music career. Performing arts groups are grappling with the question, “How?” While some are rehearsing and maintaining community via Zoom, others made the difficult decision to postpone operations until the spring semester. Even when bars shut down in Baltimore in the spring, Rich kept performing virtually. He hosted weekly Facebook livestreams and encouraged donations via Venmo and PayPal. Rich donated half of the revenue to Feeding America and homeless shelters in Baltimore, and soon other organizations asked him to partner. Over the summer, Rich raised $3,000 for Healing Opportunity Free From Addiction. Now performing at bars, Rich is careful not to put his immunocompromised family members, who live in Baltimore, at risk. He has set different boundaries for his performance workspace and for the regulars who have watched him perform at these bars for years. “I used to sit down, have a drink with them, ask them how they’re doing, just kind of catch up,” he said. “I can’t do that now. Even if they want to or even if it’s normal for them, that’s where I draw the line.” A cappella groups struggle for a space to sing For AU’s a cappella groups, singing in-person is not an option. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, singing in close quarters allows for an easy transmission of the coronavirus. That leaves video calling as the only viable option for rehearsals. For AU’s all-male a cappella group On a Sensual Note, Zoom rehearsals have been challenging. “It’s almost impossible,” the club’s president, Spencer Coben, said. “Our group is pretty musically inclined, but ... a lot of our members can’t read music, and a lot of our members rely on being in person and repeating the stuff that they hear from our music directors.” The group has been inconsistently meeting to keep up with repertoire. Meanwhile, co-ed a cappella group Dime a Dozen has chosen to take a break from rehearsing this semester. Music Director Kruttika Gopal said that calling off rehearsals was the most “COVID-conscious” decision as one of the larger a cappella groups at AU. “With a cappella, it’s very difficult to coordinate rehearsals over Zoom because a big part of it is timing and balance and those essential, in-person aspects of the music,” Gopal said. “When we are back together, we will hopefully have a good, diverse, strong array of music that was arranged by our own members that we can perform.” All-female group Pitches Be Trippin’ is also not rehearsing this semester. Between members taking leaves of absences and the lack of physical space to sing, Assistant Music Director Emmy Goyette said that rehearsals were too difficult to coordinate.


AU Rude Mechanicals' virtual production of "The Variety Show Hour: To Be Or Not To Be." Despite the hiatus, the group has maintained a consistent social media presence, such as releasing old performance videos that were recorded last semester in partnership with American University TV. The other a cappella groups are also relying on social media to stay active in the AU community. AU’s newest a cappella group, TenLi Tunes, has been posting member shout-outs and posted a new song to its Instagram. President Elliott Gold said that his priority is maintaining the group’s connection through monthly check-ins and virtual games. “I’m just looking forward to getting the opportunity to meet in person again,” Gold said. “Until we get to that point, we’re going to keep being resilient and doing what we’ve been doing.” All-female group Treble in Paradise recently created a TikTok account to document Zoom rehearsals. In August, the group featured nine days of covers from individual members on its Instagram. Despite the cancellation of on-campus classes and housing, Treble in Paradise has been rehearsing oncea-week. President Lauren Sasson said that she’s anxious to get back into the “real, physical space of Treble.” To remain close, the group has hosted Jeopardy nights for members and has been planning several activities to involve the AU community, including Zoom sing-along events. Treble in Paradise, TenLi Tunes, Pitches Be Trippin’ and Dime a Dozen contributed to a Facebook showcase event on Oct. 14. Each a cappella group debuted new and old recorded music. “Everyone’s in the same boat, we’re figuring it out together,” Sasson said. “If there’s something that works really well, we’ll share it with the groups … making sure that everyone has a similar opportunity to do well this semester.” Dancers create movement online Student-run dance club AU in Motion has shifted operations fully online. After auditioning for the fall showcase, students were divided into dances of different styles and difficulty levels. Members will spend the semester meeting over Zoom in preparation for the prerecorded showcase, which will be livestreamed at the end

of the semester. Mara Greenberg, a senior and AU in Motion’s outreach and communication chair, said that choreographing dances over Zoom comes with certain difficulties. “I think the challenges are going to be seeing people’s technique and making sure that they’re doing the moves correctly over Zoom,” Greenberg said. “It’s very hard to watch all these different little squares dancing around and trying to focus in on each person, making sure each person knows what’s going on.” Aside from rehearsals, the club is communicating through virtual events, such as happy hours and game nights. Greenberg said that she’s enjoyed bonding and getting to know new members. According to Greenberg, the group is also planning on selling AU in Motion merchandise later this semester. Theater performances go virtual Student-run performance group Rude Mechanicals opened its virtual variety show, “To Be or Not To Be,” on Oct. 2. The show streamed on YouTube Live and featured sonnets and monologues that the actors chose themselves. Though rehearsals are certainly different this semester, the challenge of directing a show over Zoom also garners new skills for virtual production, said Hayley Budnick, the troupe’s executive director and the show’s producer. “It’s so different. We don’t have to worry about lights and all of the logistics that you’d think you’d have to worry about with tech,” Budnick said. “It’s now camera angles and Zoom backgrounds.” Beyond shows, Budnick said that the club’s priority is maintaining a sense of community. “I would say there’s been even more communication than there’s ever been,” she said. “This semester we’ve been constantly posting in the Facebook group, constantly wanting to have meetings with people and really keep our community together.” Kelly McDonnell, the Life managing editor, is the president of Pitches Be Trippin’. She did not contribute to the reporting of this piece.



theEAGLE October 2020

Scenes That Stick: Love and loss in “The Last Five Years” Where love and reality meet and where relationships begin to end by Sara Winick Life Staff Writer The ending sequence of a film is always accompanied by an array of emotions: sadness, surprise, happiness, fear or some other unique feeling — there’s nothing quite like the mindset one is in after watching a story come to life on screen. Yet, perhaps no film has an ending quite as bittersweet as that of “The Last Five Years,” the movie musical adaptation of a show by the same name. “The Last Five Years” showcases the five-year romantic relationship of the main characters, Jamie (Jeremy Jordan) and Cathy (Anna Kendrick), as well as the eventual end of it. Though this sounds like a typical musical, what truly makes this film unique is the way in which Jamie and Cathy’s story unfolds. Instead of a linear timeline, the film inverts the journey by introducing Cathy, who is experiencing the end of her and Jamie’s relationship, and then showing Jamie in the next scene, where the audience sees the two at the beginning of their relationship. The film showcases their falling in and, eventually, out of

love from beginning to end and end to beginning. Viewers see each partner’s perspective, and their point of view only meets in the same timeframe once throughout the movie. While this format makes for plenty of opportunities for humorous and heartwrenching moments, no scene is more memorable than the ending (or beginning, depending on how one looks at it). In this nearly 10 minute sequence, Cathy is back at the very start of her and Jamie’s relationship, serenading Jamie about how she cannot wait until tomorrow, bidding him a wistful and heart-warming goodbye, but evidently struggling to watch him leave. After this, Jamie’s perspective shows the end of the relationship, inside of his and Cathy’s apartment, writing her a goodbye letter and explaining in a somber song how he is leaving her for good. As Jamie steps out of their home and onto the front porch, Cathy, in her separate timeline, is singing her goodbye. Jamie stares “at” her, representing him reminiscing on the early days of their relationship and remembering how he saw her when he still loved her. The juxtaposition of Jamie’s forlorn


The Silver Screen section has launched a new series analyzing moments in movies that stick out to our staff. the door close behind her, knowing that stare with Cathy’s loving singing of Jamie’s goodbye letter lies behind it. It’s “Goodbye Until Tomorrow” is a strikingly moments like these that are able to tap bittersweet moment of tremendous loss into the viewer's deepest fears — being for the viewer, one in which Jamie and left behind like a half-hearted mistake, Cathy’s relationship feels like their own. or leaving one’s other half behind in the It’s a moment of dramatic irony in first place. It’s a melancholy notion and a the most heart-wrenching sense. Viewers terrible idea to conceive, but for many it’s know that Cathy’s dreams of happiness all too inescapable and familiar. with Jamie are futile in the end, and The film is skilled in its production then they actually see Jamie walk out and storytelling. It entertains with its and leave her behind. It’s brutal in a way vibrant and unique musical stylings; it only a camera can capture. But what truly breaks hearts in its beginning and its seals this moment is the very end. As the end; it’s relatable in the most painful music starts to fade, as Jamie walks away, a of ways. And, at the end of the day, it’s younger Cathy disappears from view, and scenes like this one that make a film the present day Cathy comes on screen. touching, heartbreaking, captivating, As she walks up the steps to her and memorable and, most of all, real. Jamie’s home, there is a heavy sense of dread and heartbreak as viewers watch

When it comes to swimming, Eleanor Felton has a regal presence

AU swimmer looks back on her record breaking times, and forward on the season that may come by Ben Morse Sports Staff Writer “King Tut.” That is the name her teammates chant before the start of the race. It comes from a chance encounter during her freshman year, when two teammates spotted her with her arms crossed and her curly hair up like a pharaoh’s headdress. However, unlike the late pharoah, Eleanor Felton is known for being a swimming machine. Felton, an American University junior, has her name all across the record books. In the span of one week this past February, Felton logged five top-16 times in five different individual events. Felton also participated in three top-16 relay race speeds in three different events. Speed was the theme of her sophomore season. After Felton broke AU’s 100 meter butterfly record by 0.09 seconds, her coaches knew that the season would be special. Assistant Coach Garland Bartlett said that even though the signs were there when the season first started, Felton only became more dominant as the year progressed. “Really second semester is when she

started to shine,” Bartlett said.“She just blew it out of the water at finals.” Felton described herself as a sprinter. Originally from small-town Duanesburg, New York, she did everything from gymnastics, to dance to running. In sixth grade, a chance encounter at her local YMCA altered her athletic career forever. “They were having an open house, and the swim coach asked my friend if she wanted to swim. My friend asked if I wanted to come try out,” Felton said. As it turned out, swimming was a natural fit. During her freshman year, Felton won the AU women’s swimming Rookie of the Year award and qualified for the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll. Felton was also named the 2019-2020 women’s swim and dive MVP by The Eagle’s sports staff. Felton’s peers say she is mercilicess when it comes to competition, unlike her personality outside of the pool. “She’s like the quietest, easiest going person, but she swims like she’s a ruthless killer,” teammate Luke Bennett said. However, this description is rather misleading. When you meet Felton, the so-called “ruthless killer” is nowhere to be found. Felton isn’t a killer. She’s a planner. She


Eleanor Felton is a record-breaking AU swimmer. makes sure that her feet are set just right integrating the freshmen. This is especially in the starting block and that she gets the important in the age of the coronavirus right force for her breakout. Felton doesn’t pandemic, where Zoom calls are the only have time to think about the record books way to stay in touch with the entire team. Felton is in D.C. this semester, living before a race. It only slows her down. Despite her accomplishments, Felton in the team’s house and trying to stay in is modest and one of the nicest people you competition condition. She hasn’t been able to get in the pool for months, and will ever meet, according to Bartlett. “I love to talk about Eleanor,” Bartlett doesn’t know what the upcoming season said. “Eleanor is such an incredible will hold, if it happens. “I don’t have any goals,” Felton said. athlete, competitor and trainer, but she is the nicest human. Always looking after “I’m just going to swim, do my best and her teammates, always working hard and see how it goes.” she is very selfless.” Bartlett said Felton is a natural leader who played a pivot role in recruiting and

theEAGLE October 2020



2013 Eagles shine in team sports, but Sa’eed Nelson’s individual season tops the decade’s best No one carried the athletic department on their back quite like Nelson by Spencer Nusbaum and Zeke Cohen Sports Managing Editor and Sports Staff Writer

Number 2: Field hockey, men’s basketball, and AU team sports notch 112 wins in the decade’s top season

The best of the rest It almost feels unfair to group AU’s best volleyball team of the decade in this bunch, but we wrote about them back at No. 8 on the list, so they’ve paid their dues. Soccer players Lindsay Muri and Michaela Cowgill each made the All-Tournament Team in ‘13, the only two Eagles selected all decade. Women’s basketball tied for second in the conference. Lacrosse finished with its second-best conference record of the decade. The American University cross country teams earned four All-Patriot League selections and freshman Brendan Johnson became American's first Male Rookie of the Year since 2005.

The success of the 2013-14 Eagles truly cannot be understated. In the 1314 season, all seven American University team sports went at least .500 in Patriot League play, the only such instance this decade. In Athletic Director Billy Walker’s first full year, Eagles’ squads -Spencer Nusbaum finished 112-62-7 with a 61-18-3 record in Patriot League play, which marked Number 1: Sa’eed Nelson an unprecedented 42- and 21-win jump wins Patriot League Player from the previous year. of the year, Lou Henson All Men’s Basketball Expectations were low for first-year Head Coach Mike Brennan’s squad, as the Eagles were picked to finish ninth in the conference that preseason. Then, they started winning. AU rode a stifling defense through the conference tournament, holding off a red-hot Boston University squad 55-36 in the Patriot League championship game. With that win under their belt, AU men’s basketball made the NCAA Division I Tournament for the third time in school history and the only time in the past decade. The second-seeded Wisconsin squad, which featured three future NBA rotation players, overpowered AU in the first round 75-35. But AU will always have their PL win. Tournament MVP Darius Gardner, sophomore guard Jesse Reed and senior center Tony Wroblicky led the way for the Eagles, but perhaps no one summed up (and broke character) quite like Brennan, who cornily but endearingly quoted Drake: “Started from the bottom, now we here!” Field Hockey AU’s field hockey team had an electric 2013 season capped off by a win over Quinnipiac in the NCAA Tournament play-in game. It was one of the program’s three NCAA Tournament appearances this decade, and one of three undefeated conference-seasons in team history. Patriot League Tournament MVP and Second-Team All-American Shelly Montgomery led the Eagles with an assist in their overtime semifinal win over Lafayette and a pair of goals in their 3-0 championship victory against Boston University. The two-year gap between 2010 and 2013 is tied for the longest titledrought for a Steve Jennings’-coached squad since they captured their first PL title in 2003.

American team, and breaks AU scoring record in the same season

When the idea of an athlete’s “perfect season” is brought up in any type of sport, it’s hard to identify what type of qualifiers to use. But at American University, no individual season has eclipsed the excellence of men’s basketball senior Sa’eed Nelson’s 2019-2020 season. Going into last year, Nelson had already cemented his place in the history books. Throughout his first three years as an Eagle, Nelson made the Patriot League All-Rookie Team of the Year, started and played in every game of the year since beginning his career at American University, was a First Team All-Patriot League selection and made the

Second-Team All-Patriot League team. The Eagles went 16-14 last year with a 12-6 conference record, enough to snag the second seed in the conference. Nelson’s consistently great play, looking back now, was a major reason the Eagles found so much success last season. Nelson averaged 18.5 points per game, 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists, all while shooting an efficient 48.8 percent from the field with a Patriot League-high 2.8 steals per game. His 2.8 steals were the third-best in the entire nation last year. The Eagles with Nelson in his senior year hoped to capture the elusive Patriot League title. It’s part of what made him and the Eagles such a threat going into the Patriot League Tournament this year. After a first-round bye, the Eagle’s first taste of the Patriot League Tournament competition was against the No. 7 seed Bucknell University Bisons. Unfortunately, the fairytale ending for Nelson and the Eagles never materialized the Bisons, upsetting the Eagles on their home floor of Bender Arena to a score of 64-59. Nelson finished his season as the first player in AU's history to be named to the Lou Henson All-American Team, a select team that honors the best mid-major

players in NCAA D-1 basketball. He also won the Patriot League Player of the Year, the first to do so since Derrick Mercer in 2009. On top of this, he was the first AU player since Vlad Moldoveanu in 2011 to be named to his second Patriot League All-First Team. He broke the points record at AU as well as finishing third on the Patriot League All-Time scoring list during his senior season. With 2,116 overall points, he broke the longtime AU career scoring school record that was held for nearly four decades by AU great Russell “Boo” Bowers. It feels weird to end this list with an early-round exit. But no player carried an entire athletic program on his back quite like Nelson. Through teammate transfers, stumbling offenses and inconsistent defenses, Nelson’s effort and magnificence brought AU national attention and a consistently fun watch. In his senior year, Nelson cemented himself as one of the best to ever lace them up at AU.

- Zeke Cohen

The Sports section finishes up its Top 10 countdown of AU's best moments in sports from the past decade. CARLY JOHNSON / THE EAGLE

Sa'eed Nelson (#0) during a game against Holy Cross on Jan. 18, 2020. MADDY ROTH / THE EAGLE


theEAGLE October 2020

Club Sports’ fall and spring seasons in state of uncertainty Leadership adapts to keep everyone prepared and energized for when they can return Assistant Sports Editor

When it comes to the effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on college athletics, the primary focus has been placed on NCAA Division I programs who have had their seasons canceled or delayed. However, they are not the only athletes stuck in “wait and see” mode. The Club Sports program at American University is home to 28 teams, offering everything from baseball to ultimate frisbee for students interested in starting up a new sport or continuing with one they’ve played before. But in March, the school cut the spring season short and sent the student body home. Seven months, no plan and no fall season later, students are still uncertain about the immediate future of club sports. For Lucy Elliott, a senior and captain for the women’s ultimate frisbee team, the cancellation of the team’s spring season stung the team’s seniors the most. Spring is usually their most competitive season, and it was an upsetting missed opportunity to compete in sectionals, regionals and potentially nationals, if they advanced far enough. “AU pretty consistently makes it to regionals, but not nationals,” Elliott said. “So that was very upsetting for our seniors to not be able to compete and see how well we could have done through spring last season.” The ultimate frisbee team was only able to compete in one of their three regular season tournaments, a home


The team photo of the women's ultimate frisbee team. also only able to compete once before the University went fully online, playing one game against Catholic University that they won 39-5. Senior and team President Gillian Chestnut remembers when AU first made classes online for just three weeks and members still had hopes of coming back to campus and competing in April. “First, it was a lot of planning, because that would cut out a chunk of


The Women's Rugby Team on the National Mall. tournament that was hosted on the National Mall. “That was a great tournament,” Elliott said. “We got second place at it, and we were definitely looking forward to an upward trajectory.” AU’s club women’s rugby team was

our season and we would still have stuff when we came back,” Chestnut said. “So it was very much ‘will it be safe by then? Will we still want to have a season?’ It was very stressful, with a lot of planning and not having any details because club sports didn’t have anything to give us.”

With the spring season cut short, the waiting game to see how the fall season would play out began. It took until July 30 for AU to announce it would go fully online for the fall semester, two weeks after AU and the Patriot League decided to cancel the fall sports season. For both rugby and ultimate frisbee, planning for the fall semester without knowing what was coming took a lot of preparation. A seasonless semester has led to innovation from each team’s leadership as they look to keep up team camaraderie and stay fit in case the sport does eventually come back. This includes Zoom practices, strategy sessions and track workouts with nearby teammates. Kaitlyn Hepburn, a senior and one of the captains of the rugby team, has prioritized keeping rookies engaged with the team. For a lot of them, this was their first time playing this new, high-contact sport. And after learning the ins and outs of the game in the fall, the spring season would be their time to show what they’ve got. “For a lot of the fall season, they were learning as much as they could, but the real time to shine for most rookies comes in the spring because you’ve been practicing so long and you’re ready finally,” Hepburn said. “It hurt because I remember being a rookie, and you try so hard to learn a new sport, and that’s like your time to shine. They didn’t get as much of that.” While keeping the current team together throughout uncertainty has been a huge priority, recruiting, and gauging interest has also been important, even with no clear guarantee of when the next game or tournament

will take place. But even with attempts at keeping team chemistry up through virtual events and practices, players still feel that the old community aspect of the team is missing. If there is a chance of restarting in the spring, it may not be the same for all sports. For a sport like ultimate frisbee that is considered low or no contact, they could have a chance to restart their season earlier than others. Adding the Oct. 26 announcement, which detailed the new spring 2021 class plan, the possibility of sports returning in the spring has heightened. A physical sport like rugby, however, would likely be much harder to pull off than others if a restart were to happen next semester. But there is still cautious optimism and enthusiasm to get back on the field and compete with high levels of intensity. “USA Rugby, which is our overarching rulemaker, has put out rules and guidelines on social distancing and what practices should look like,” Hepburn said. “We are going to be excited if we go back, but we have to keep in mind what our reality is and


by Alec Branch

It hurt because I remember being a rookie, and you try so hard to learn a new sport, and that's like your time to shine. They didn't get as much of that. - Kaitlyn Hepburn, senior


how we have to function in that contact.” No matter what the immediate future holds for AU’s Club Sports programs, the impact they have had on the players who have been a part of their community is clear. “I haven’t even thought about it as club sports,” Hepburn said. “Since the beginning of my time at AU, 90 percent of my friends are in rugby. It’s that close of a community. Those are the people that I found. No matter what situation we’ve been in, we’ve always been so supportive and interconnected. It’s honestly the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”


theEAGLE October 2020


Normalize making folks with disabilities a priority Stop making learning platforms a one-size-fits-all model, whether online or not

American University announced its adjusted AU Forward plan two weeks before the move-in period for the fall semester and stated that it would offer fully online undergraduate and graduate courses with no residential experience. This caused an uproar from the student body, ranging from upperclassmen figuring out their off-campus housing arrangements to international students scrambling to cancel their expensive flights. The breaking news left us all in a period of uncertainty and cynicism for what this upcoming semester was going to be like in an online format, especially for those who express a need for accommodations. What seems to be a trend for many universities is providing the bare minimum for students to add onto their diversity quota and avoid seeming negligent, rather than providing efficient accommodation and access. In order to receive top-notch service from AU, it seems as though students must have thousands of dollars laying around in their bank accounts and personal savings. One of the programs that Academic Support and Access Center (ASAC) provides for students is called the Learning Services Program that’s offered to first-year students with learning disabilities who seek assistance in developing their reading and writing skills. The program offers weekly individualized advising for students, mentorship and has a history of preparing individuals to be successful in their studies. While that all sounds perfect, the biggest hurdle that students face is the astounding $4,850 fee for the program and the specific academic credentials needed. No one should be financially burdened for their disability or be turned


by Kayla Kelly Staff Columnist

away from this service for being unable to fit into the academic mold of that program. For something that claims to help students with learning challenges, it’s incredibly ableist. AU’s ASAC standards for accommodations, which require

their disability standards process that may be unnecessary for students with unwavering and unchanging disabilities. Greenstein recently posted an article for the leftist student-run publication, The Rose, that explains that the Americans with Disabilities Act isn’t enough for people with disabilities, as it creates loopholes in the law and contributes greatly to microaggressions that they face. Greenstein listed a ten-point demand for AUSG candidates to enforce if elected into office, which includes breaking down the ASAC paywall, creating spaces to converse with students with disabilities to destigmatize disability and being aware of their ableist actions and words that had become normalized in our society. “I think people just need to include us, as a baseline, in discussions, especially when claiming some sort of intersectional perspective, but the truth is that we’re often left out of the discussion,” Greenstein said. What I’ve personally experienced from the online learning space is that many professors are reluctant to provide copies of their lectures on Blackboard or Canvas with the fear that students will become “lazy,” be unlikely to attend class

notes in this fast-paced environment. It’s unethical to object to providing alternative learning opportunities and assignments for students, as it contributes to the institutionalized ableism that is embedded in many of our campus resources and student organizations. I call for AU administration and its faculty to provide the following to better care and equip its students with disabilities for a better future: Allow all syllabi to be made available several weeks prior to the first day of classes to allow students to acquire alternative materials in time for classes. All materials should be double-spaced and on high contrast colors. Enable closed captioning on all Zoom lectures and provide an MP4 of the lecture on the learning platform used immediately after class is finished. Media shown should have captioning as well. Encourage AU to adopt a new system that has requirements based on classifications of needing temporary accommodations (short-term disabilities) and permanent ones. Demand for all classrooms on campus and extracurricular activities to be ADA

It's imperative that we include access and accommodation in the spaces that we create in order to foster a healthy sense of community and to properly elevate the voices of people with disabilities to combat ableism in our community and general society.


- Kayla Kelly, freshman

documentation and proof of disability, pose a financial inconvenience for students as well, especially for those with chronic illness, temporary disabilities and “invisible” disabilities. It’s unjust for the University to require this kind of process because many insurance companies won’t cover testing that isn’t deemed to be necessary. “I had to show recent diagnosis and proof of my disability, which was fine because we were already planning to test me again before I turned 18 as part of my transition to adult hospitals,” said Katherine Greenstein, a first-year student. “However, that can be super expensive for folks who can’t get it covered or who don’t need it.” It is clear that ASAC needs to revise

and will unlawfully use their intellectual property. While these are valid concerns, what they fail to acknowledge is that due to the expensive measures to receive ASAC accommodations, some students are unable to provide a medical note that allows them to receive this alternative way of learning. There are many disabilityrelated reasons why an individual may not be able to attend a lecture, which can range from having a chronic illness that flares up unpredictably to those with mental health issues that feel extremely isolated due to this online learning model. For those who do attend lectures, they may struggle to take in the entire lecture, be distracted by family members at home or aren't able to take adequate

accessible. It’s imperative that we include access and accommodation in the spaces that we create in order to foster a healthy sense of community and to properly elevate the voices of people with disabilities to combat ableism in our community and general society. Kayla Kelly is a freshman in the School of Public Affairs and a staff columnist for The Eagle.


theEAGLE October 2020

Now what?: After months of pandemic, students grapple with different losses College students struggle to acknowledge turning points amid the pandemic

by Riya Kohli

Assistant Opinion Editor (Identities)

The experience of these past months as a college student can be easily represented by the colloquial five states of grief and loss. We started with denial there’s no way we’re home next semester right? Quickly, we shifted to intense anger directed at multiple sources, culminating in a rage that had no clear path to resolution. Then bargaining started with on-campus plans, finding and renting apartments, only for that to fail and push us all into the stage of depression that had been simmering the whole time. The question we’re all left with is, when will we reach acceptance? How do we get there?

There’s a lot to mourn in the midst of the pandemic that changed our lives. For us, it’s the big moments. College is often described as the most transformative period in a person’s life, the period where they truly transition from child to adult. This transformation is marked by many milestones: celebrating the end of freshman year, finding your place on campus, studying abroad, turning 21, and finally, graduating. As individual as these milestones are, there’s a community factor to all of them that make the moments special. We do all of these things with our friends and our family. Some of these "big moments" we’re missing are especially unique to AU. Studying abroad is an integral part of the educational experience at AU, with some majors, here at AU, virtually requiring it in order to complete the degree. We’ve spent our first years here listening to upperclassmen recount their amazing semester in France, Australia, or India, waiting for the moment that the same experience would become a reality for us. At a school where we’re taught to think globally, regardless of our major, studying abroad helps contextualize our education with other parts of the world. Studying abroad can expand career

opportunities, and it introduces us to new people and places in a way that we might not otherwise have gotten. At AU, where so many students decide to attend based on the vast and exciting opportunities to spend time abroad, the coronavirus pandemic has delayed and possibly ruined so many plans for an abroad experience. We’ve been told for so long that studying abroad will change us, it’ll shape our worldview and help everything fall into place. For a lot of upperclassmen, that chance will likely not be available anymore. This semester looks different in many small ways that are masked by the big ones. Yes, classes are online, but also 21st birthdays are being celebrated over FaceTime. Campus is mostly closed, but also the traditions we’ve made throughout our time in D.C. are being missed. A hero to so many students, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, died and students were spread across the nation rather than gathered together in large numbers at the Supreme Court or Capitol Hill. This time in quarantine has been so focused on the loss of milestone ceremonies, but the small things that make college life what it is aren’t going unnoticed. For most, college is the first time people are away from home, living

Five ways to keep yourself awake during Zoom classes What to do when your eyeballs are about to fall out

by Owen Boice

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. College classes over Zoom are no one's favorite. Not a class goes by that at least one student hilariously fails to cover their yawning from everyone else in the class. So when your eyelidsballs are in danger of shutting downfalling out, consider these tricks to keep yourself awake.

Memorize members of Congress Get to know each member’s state, district, party affiliation and caucus memberships. You can start with wellknown members like “The Squad.” Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can start with members nobody has ever heard of. For example, see if you can correctly identify which one of these three members of Congress does not exist: Ralph Abraham (LA-05), Pat Green (OH-06) or, Ken Calvert (CA-42). Didn’t think you could. And don’t forget: House districts will change after the 2020 census, so you’ll have to start all over next semesteryear! Calculate the cost of a 75 minute class One semester’s worth of tuition at AU costs $22,744. There are 15 weeks of classes in a semester, meaning that you pay about $1,516.27 per week. Assuming you take 15 credits, that means you’re in class for 12.5 hours (or 750 minutes) each week, resulting in a cost of about $121.30 per hour, or $2.02 per minute. Thus, a 75 minute class costs approximately $151.63

in tuition. This isn’t even counting room and board or those pesky activity and sports center fees! You can find those additional costs on the AU website and crunch the numbers during your next class. Balance a globe on your head The ideal choice for the School of International Service students who want to demonstrate their forehead dexterity and international affairs acumen simultaneously. Students in other schools may substitute an item representing their field of study. For instance, School of Public Affairs students are encouraged to use a pile of campaign posters, buttons, and other paraphernalia. Envision places on campus you’d rather be The empty, winding halls of the Asbury Building. The East Quad building’s eerie basement. The subterrace of Kerwin Hall (yes, it’s a real thing). Any of these phenomenal campus attractions would be better than

without the safety net of parents. Living with friends in your first apartment is where you figure out who you are. It’s how we come into our own as adults. Continuing a heated debate with a classmate as you walk to your next class, reading about an inspiring professor and finally going to visit them in their office hours, these are all things that are out of reach for us now. It’s impossible to fit college life and all its embellishments onto the screen of your computer. The University could try some things to make up for this time: special summer study abroad sessions, or some concerted effort to send the students who had their time cut short back to the countries they were just getting to know. A makeup graduation ceremony months after you’ve started your life as a real adult seems confusing and just as dissatisfying as never having one in the first place. There’s really nothing that can make up for these moments. As the uncertainty of this life during a pandemic persists, so will the drastic comparisons to what we thought this time would be. Riya Kohli is a junior in the School of Public Affairs and a columnist at The Eagle.

Satire staring at a computer screen filled with little boxes. Actually pay attention to the lecture Some students read, take notes and prepare the assigned material in advance of each class session. This littleknown practice makes it much easier to concentrate on the words coming out of the professor’s mouth. Consider attending office hours (you know those things you saw on the syllabus on the first day of class) to figure out what the heck the professor actually wants you to be able to do by the end of the semester. Warning: Paying attention and going to office hours may increase your risk of being called on. The Seagle retains no liability in the event of this happening. The next time you have a sleepinducing class, use these strategies to keep yourself alert. Feel free to share these tips with friends, classmates, and professors. Especially professors — some of them may benefit the most! Owen Boice is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs and a satire columnist at The Eagle.


theEAGLE October 2020

Staff Editorial

AU's budget losses are concerning for the With a tuition-dependent budget and the depletion long-term future of available endowment funds, what comes next? in March 2021, it remains to be seen how that will put students once again in the position of paying too much for too little. This reliance on students especially feels unsustainable when considering the salaries of some of the highest paid staff on campus. While the President Sylvia Burwell, her cabinet, former deans and provosts, and the former president are all taking salary cuts is a nice gesture, it rings hollow. In a time of such economic loss and strain, the act seems performative when it is such a low percentage of their salary. Burwell’s salary cut is only a few thousand dollars more than the total University cost per year for students. These members of our campus are not, in fact, suffering financially alongside the rest of us. Larger salary cuts or some measurement of how this is actually making some difference in the budget would make such a gesture less performative. Another concern for the future is the loss of AU’s “rainy day” funds. Much of the University endowment is restricted for various legal reasons, leaving $38 million in unrestricted income funds. The University is using all of that $38 million to offset the budget losses. It is clear that replacing those funds needs to happen immediately. Unfortunately, with the climate emergency increasing the likelihood of large-scale disasters, the University has to be better prepared for the future. COVID-19 has made it clear that no university had contingency preparations for a situation like this. But rainy days will come again sooner than anyone thinks, and the

endowment may not be there to save the budget. Action steps for these future emergencies remain unclear to students, leaving many wondering: What about next time? There are positive decisions the University has made. Students and employees who are in lower salary brackets have been prioritized, as things like financial aid, student support services and layoffs have all been avoided for cutting expenses. The University also has no plans to make any sport team cuts so that we maintain Division I status. Other schools have not been able to avoid these measures, as peer institutions, like George Washington University, have laid off staff and cut some teams from their athletics program. AU’s situation, however, is still unsustainable. We are the ones who support this budget, and yet our voices are ignored. We aren’t provided with real-time updates. Meanwhile, our hopes are strung along for a return to normal that won’t be coming anytime soon. Students need to grieve what is happening to us starting now, and AU’s total false sense of hope and positivity prevents that. The cynic in us might assume that this false hope is to keep students paying so the budget sees smaller losses. The future is unclear for us all, but the loss of endowment funds and continued tuition dependence are the reality. The University can either plan for the future or wait for the next disaster to put us in this situation again.


Down: 1. This word comes from the Latin “to care,” according to Professor Amirkhani. 3. President of AU’s women’s rugby team 4. An AU center one Eagle columnist says isn’t doing enough for students. 7. This AU swimmer’s nickname harkens back to ancient Egypt. Across: 2. AU’s all-male a cappella group 3. Where you can find many AU students 5. Racist incidents prompted women of color to leave this community. 6. The word of the year 7. A thrift store in Mount Pleasant 8. These people are concerned about AU’s paused retirement plan contributions.

Answer key: Down: 1. Curator 3. Chestnut 4. ASAC 7. Felton

As announced in September, the University could lose between $104 and $116 million for fiscal year 2021. The impact of these losses will be felt until fiscal year 2022, according to reporting by The Eagle. The University is cutting president and cabinet salaries, instituting a five-day faculty furlough for those making over $40,000, no longer contributing to faculty retirement funds for the year and taking other measures to attempt to make up for this loss. We are reminded every day that “unprecedented” is the word of the year. The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed our society, and nowhere is that more obvious than in higher education. Schools have had varying responses, from fully in-person to online classes, from staff layoffs to continued football games. The differences in response make clear that there is no perfect response to any aspect of university life. However, huge budget losses raise serious concerns about the future. The University is tuition-dependent. This has been a fact of AU’s budget for a long time, and focus has often been on growing the endowment. The tuition cut, no charges for housing and dining, and the March housing and dining refunds are all serious revenue losses when the budget is dependent on students. This pandemic proves that such a budget structure is detrimental not only in the long-term, but in short-term emergencies as well. There

is now an expectation among students that the next time an emergency happens, there will be some level of reimbursement or cost cuts. This continued reliance on students is absurd. We are responsible for funding our own professor’s paychecks, our own finals season “de-stress” events. AU has been increasing enrollment to increase tuition revenues, but with a fully-online semester, deferrals from students are expected. That loss to the budget is detrimental. The tuition reduction and other refunds keep students in school, but they are also hard hits to the budget. The University has not been successful in diversifying revenue streams, and the pandemic makes that even more concerning. With the pandemic causing long-term financial hardship on individual and organization levels with no clear end, it is hard to believe that there will be increased donations. Even as the alumni association may work to develop these networks, AU does not produce the kind of students who go on to make the kind of money that allows for large donations to the endowment. Frankly, as students look at these budget loss announcements and mitigation efforts, another largely online semester, although the University plans to expand some in-person operations, will exacerbate the financial challenges AU has already faced this academic year. We know more clearly than ever how our payments and presence at the University affect funds overall. With the Board of Trustees expected to vote on tuition prices

Across: 2. On a Sensual Note 3. Capitol Hill 5. Greek Life 6. Unprecedented 7. Frugalista 8. Faculty

by The Eagle Editorial Board

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