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the EAGLE April 2018


A new era

As Sylvia Burwell wraps up her first year as president, she sets priorities for the future, p.6


theEAGLE April 2018


Delivering American University’s news and views since 1925




3 Students frustrated by too few classes on South Asia 4 Three Title IX cases still unresolved 5 Professor, service dog compete in agility competitions 6 Burwell wraps up first year as president, prepares for inauguration



The Eagle, a student-run newspaper at American University, reports news involving the campus community and surrounding areas. The Eagle strives to be impartial in its reporting and believes firmly in its First Amendment rights.


8 Student-run clubs highlight global dance forms 10 Theater groups lack performance space 11 Researchers recover lost African-American narratives; Singers launch a capella group for students of color






12 Women’s basketball team travels to players’ hometowns 13 Senior lacrosse members mentor team dominated by younger players

15 Column: Burwell and female leadership in academia; Column: Printing hurts AU’s environmentally-friendly reputation 16 Column: Thank you for the experience of a lifetime; Staff Ed: Burwell must continue engaging directly with students

Theodora Mattei Sophie Austin Emaan Khan Julia Gagnon Abbie Veitch Matt Holt Fatima Albannai Katya Podkovyroff Lewis PHOTOGRAPHERS Jillian O'Donohoe Owain James Sophie Lampl GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Maggie Bernauer Sydney Rowell COLUMNISTS Samantha McAllister Stephanie Mirah Sonikka Calambakkam Loganathan Mia Gupta


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POLICIES The Eagle has a commitment to accuracy and clarity and will print corrections or clarifications. To report a mistake, email the editor-in-chief at The Eagle receives its funding from the Student Media Board, which distributes money from the Student Activity Fee to media organizations. The Eagle adheres to an ethics policy written by staff members in July 2017. It is available at All submissions become the property of The Eagle. Unsigned letters will not be published. The Eagle reserves the right to edit letters and guest columns for length and clairty. Letters and columns may be published in print or online. Letters and columns are the opinion of the writer and not the editorial board.



Students frustrated by lack of classes on South Asia SIS offers few courses, directs students elsewhere by Emaan Khan Staff Writer

When Fatima Tariq, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of International Service, approached her academic counselor with questions about pursuing a regional focus of South Asia in SIS, she left the office disappointed. Tariq spoke to her counselor in the hopes of expanding the course offerings for the South Asia focus by adding more religion classes, to which she was turned down. “In fall 2016, I decided to pursue South Asia” as her focus in SIS, Tariq said. “In spring 2017, I began to realize it wasn’t happening. I looked into it, emailed professors, I did everything I could.” Tariq is not alone. Several students told The Eagle that they have faced problems completing a South Asia focus within SIS, due to a lack of available classes and roadblocks from administrators. The struggle to complete their planned degree has those students questioning the University’s commitment to offering classes on the Asian region. “If the courses in Asia at AU are kind of diminishing, that's something that we have to really take a look at,” said Jin. Y Park, the director of the Asian Studies program and a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion. “It’s kind of shocking because … the 21st century is the century for Asia, and all other universities, they’re trying to kind of expand Asian courses now.” Course offerings slim to none for South Asia focus The International Studies program at AU requires nine credit hours for a regional focus and 18 for a thematic focus. Students have seven options to choose from when pursuing a regional focus, which are Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and Eurasia, Middle East and North Africa, Western Hemisphere (Latin America and the Caribbean), East Asia and the Pacific, and South and Central Asia,

according to the SIS website. Students must take three courses regarding their selected region, with at least one being a 300-level course. The SIS website of degree requirements lists four potential classes under the South and Central Asia focus: HIST232: The Soviet Union, RELG-473: Hinduism, SISU-387: Contemporary India, and lastly, SISU-360: Topics in Identity, Race, Gender and Culture. This semester, one section each of HIST-232, RELG-473 and SISU-360 is being offered, and no sections for SISU-387 are being offered, according to the course catalog in the AU portal. Rosemary Shinko, the assistant dean for undergraduate education for SIS, did not respond to an email request as well as a phone call for an interview about the course offerings for the South Asia region or student complaints. SIS could also not provide data on the number of students who focus on each region. Marianne Norman, the director of undergraduate advising for SIS, said in an email that “students do not have to declare their regional focus with us, so there is no way for us to pull that data.” SIS does, however, collect data on how many students study abroad in each region, Norman said. Rhea Kapadia, a senior in SIS, faced a similar problem as Tariq. When planning her sophomore classes, she had trouble finding courses that fit her South Asia regional focus. Kapadia tried again in the fall of 2017 and did not see any options. Finally, Kapadia tried looking this semester, and found only one class. “That’s when I switched to Middle East and North Africa, and I took all three of my regional classes, so I could graduate on time,” Kapadia said. After speaking to her counselor, Kapadia said she was directed to Georgetown and George Washington University to take classes. Tariq said she was also referred to those universities. However, GW didn’t offer a wide range and most of the classes were about Central Asia, Kapadia said. “I had an internship and I’m an RA [resident assistant], and I have two other jobs. I don’t have time to go to GW,”


SIS students Rhea Kapadia (left) and Fatima Tariq (right). Kapadia said. Pooja Tilvawala, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and SIS, earned her nine credits in the South Asia region from a eight-credit class abroad in London and a one-credit religion course. “I always knew I wanted to do South Asia. It’s my heritage,” Tilvawala said. “My sophomore year, I prepared a letter for the dean. But since I was abroad, it got pushed back.” Professors, students say AU should commit to studying South Asia Shubha Pathak, an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, currently teaches RELG-473: Hinduism. She is the only professor teaching these classes this semester. Though she teaches every spring, Pathak has noticed that fewer SIS students enroll in her class. She said that a potential reason for this might be AU’s migration to a website compliant with the American Disabilities Act, causing many webpages to become unavailable. “What this meant was that if we cross-listed courses, for example, my courses this semester were cross-listed as both Asian Studies and religion courses,” Pathak said. “And if those courses didn't show up in the schedule, then I think it was hard for people to find them.” Pathak said that another problem is the disconnect between SIS and other schools. Park, the Asian Studies program director in the College of Arts and Sciences, said many courses in the Asian Studies program are relevant to the South Asia regional focus in SIS. However, Park said students have a hard time getting these courses approved for their major. “I think SIS should open up a little more and allow their students to take courses in other schools,” Park said. “I think if you want to serve the country,

outside the United States, you have to know their culture, right? Otherwise, how will you serve your country as a diplomat?” When asked about adding classes about Islam to the South Asia focus, Pathak said that there’s a misconception surrounding South Asia being homogenous and the appearance of South Asia at AU as a whole. “South Asia is not just India,” Pathak said. “I mean, there's so much diversity. I think if we had more representation on our faculty and in our courses of South Asia, I think people would sort of see how much actual stuff that could be taught and that would appeal to a wide audience.” Pathak said Asia is emerging as especially relevant in the 21st century, and that expanding the presence at AU would add more academic diversity to the school. But before the creation of her 200-level general education course, Stories of South Asia, AU did not offer general education courses focusing exclusively on South Asia, Pathak said. “I would advocate hiring more professors who study South Asia. I would advocate offering more courses about South Asia. I mean, one of the reasons I actually created my gen-ed course was in response to SIS,” Pathak said. After looking at the course options and speaking to her counselor multiple times to urge for expansion of the South Asia focus, Tariq ultimately changed her focus to the Middle East and North Africa. “As a world-leading university, it has implications in terms of the leaders you’re producing,” Tariq said. “You’re teaching them a lot about international relations, but if IR itself is partial, then is it really international or is it multinational?”


theEAGLE April 2018

Three Title IX complaints remain unresolved Since first complaint filed in 2015, AU has taken steps to improve Title IX process by Brianna Crummy

Administration and Local News Editor

This year, the University marked the first month of March in three years without a new Title IX complaint. In March 2015, 2016 and 2017, the University announced that a complaint had been filed against them for their handling of a Title IX investigation. Title IX provides guidance on campus sexual assault. Now, more than three years after the first complaint was publicized, there have been few updates on the state of the investigations from the Department of Education. However, the University has begun to address some of the issues expressed in the complaints. A total of 314 sexual violence investigations are still open with the department’s Office for Civil Rights, including AU’s three complaints, according to the Department of Education’s new online database. A case can take up to seven years to resolve and on average takes about 2.1 years, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. Regina Curran, the University’s Title IX program officer, is unaware of the progress with any of the three cases. Curran’s start date was in May 2017 -after the last of the complaints was filed. “What we do know is that the department is speeding up,” Curran said. “They are issuing more outcomes than there used to be.” The department announced in June 2017 that investigations would no longer require three years of data collection from each school targeted by the complaint. The complaints against AU predate the Trump administration, meaning the department has already collected data from AU. Curran said it is unclear whether they will still use all of that information when investigating the complaints or if they will use the new approach announced under Trump. Faith Ferber, a 2017 graduate of AU, is one of the complainants accusing the University of violating Title IX by having her sign a non-disclosure agreement and not resolving her case in a timely manner, among other complaints, The Eagle reported in April 2016. At the time, the University said they enforced a “confidentiality policy,” which they have since changed to allow students to share their stories of abuse or assault. Ferber filed her complaint in March 2016, leading to the opening of a Title IX investigation that year. As for the status of her case, Ferber is unaware of any developments. “I have no updates and no idea when it will be resolved,” Ferber told The Eagle via email. “I have a feeling I won’t be hearing much from the Office [for] Civil Rights.” A Department of Education spokesperson said the department could not give updates on the preexisting complaints against AU. “As a policy, we don’t discuss the details of our ongoing investigations,” the spokesperson said by email. The Department of Education

previously provided a weekly update on the department’s Title IX investigations upon request. Their list, in addition to including open Title IX cases, also identified resolved cases. The new online format does not offer that information. Instead, a case is removed from their online list when it has been resolved, the spokesperson said. The list is updated on the first Wednesday of every month. “This expanded list is an important tool for increasing public awareness about all open OCR investigations,” the spokesperson said in an email. “The Department emphasizes that an open investigation does not mean that an institution has violated federal antidiscrimination law(s); rather, it means that a complaint was filed with OCR and the agency has opened it for investigation.” In the years since the first complaint was filed, the University’s Title IX office has made significant changes in the way it handles its cases. In the last year, they have hired Fariha Quasem to serve as the investigator in Title IX cases, and their hearing response protocol to Title IX complaints was replaced with an investigative model in August 2017. Curran said previously, when an individual opened an investigation with the Title IX office, the process concluded with a conduct hearing to determine if the individual accused was responsible. Now, when an investigation is started, the investigator will determine whether or not someone is responsible, removing the hearing process. Once the findings are presented on the claim, if the accused is responsible, a panel will be convened to determine sanctions. If not, an appeal can be filed. Katie Porras, AU’s director of student conduct and conflict resolution, told The Eagle in October that her office no longer requires both parties to be present for the hearing at the same time. In the past, students complained about the length of time a Title IX claim could take to be processed. “We are looking at that as mitigating some of the timeliness [issues],” Porras said. “I think we’ll see that when they get into the process, the investigation is going to take less time.” The process has also been streamlined so that individuals filing a case only need to make a decision to investigate their case once at the outset of the process, Porras said. Previously, those individuals would have had to make the decision to begin the investigation process and a second choice to begin the conduct hearing, she said. “Now, the investigation is the process by which they get a finding of responsible or not responsible,” Porras said. “We’re taking out a decision-making point that we don’t need.” Curran said the complaints with the Department of Education were only one factor in moving from a conduct model to an investigator model. “So far, I would view the investigator model as successful,” Curran said. “The process seems less daunting. We have seen an increase in reports. I think we are better able to resource students through

the process.” Now that there are new protocol and staff in place to investigate Title IX claims at AU, Curran is working on expanding her role in the school community. “I represent a portion of the change of the process here at AU,” Curran told The Eagle in October. “Now that we can have someone dedicated to the investigations,

we can have someone who is really focused on the community’s role in preventing these issues.” Jacob Wallace contributed reporting to this story.



theEAGLE April 2018 by Laura Romero Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Chip Gerfen

Professor Chip Gerfen and his mini American Shepherd, Trudi.

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AU professor Chip Gerfen never expected his service dog, Trudi, to take him across the globe, winning awards in national and international agility competitions. But, that’s exactly what happened. Gerfen, chair of the World Languages and Cultures department in the College of Arts and Sciences, adopted the mini American Shepherd after a doctor recommended a service dog to help him with his anxiety and panic attacks. Although Trudi was originally meant to solely be a service dog, her personality led Gerfen to seek an exercise outlet for his puppy. “We were dealing with this crazy, fast, energetic little dog that needed an outlet,” Gerfen said. After a friend recommended agility training, Gerfen and Trudi began attending a training center in 2010. For Gerfen, agility training was difficult because of the techniques and communication skills that needed to be mastered. “There has to be an extraordinary communication between the animal and the person to navigate the obstacle courses,” Gerfen said. Three years later, Gerfen started teaching at AU. He took advantage of the agility training opportunities in D.C. and took private lessons to improve his relationship with Trudi. “She was always spectacular and always really quick to learn everything that I threw at her,” Gerfen said. “I was taking

lessons with people who were able to work on me because she wasn’t the problem.” After many training sessions, Gerfen started entering Trudi in agility competitions. The U.S. has three organizations that each have individual competitions and championships for agility. Trudi has been on Team USA for each organization, traveling to the Netherlands and Spain, among other countries. Gerfen and Trudi will travel to Milan, Italy to compete in the IFCS World Agility Championship on April 25. Because she’s a service dog, Trudi accompanies Gerfen to class every day. Christopher Perl, one of Gerfen’s students, said Trudi has been “very helpful in demonstrating specific linguistic differences in language.” “For example, in our lesson about minimal pairs, Trudi showed that she would only react to ‘sit’ and not anything else, like ‘dit,’ ‘zit,’ or ‘bit,’” Perl said. For senior Tova Seltzer, having Trudi in her class with Gerfen was “always a highlight of the week.” “I always felt my mood immediately brighten when I saw her come in,” Seltzer said. “I don't think there's any class that couldn't be improved by the addition of a tiny agility champion, dog TA." Through his experience with Trudi, Gerfen has learned and passed on an important life lesson to his students. “It’s about the journey,” Gerfen said. “Sometimes, you are so focused on certain obstacles, just going from problem to problem. It’s about learning and taking in emotions, it’s about the path.”


theEAGLE April 2018

New administrators, increased visibility and detailed inclusion strategy mark Burwell’s first year


Next, she’ll craft a five-year vision for the school and a new fundraising campaign by Lydia Calitri Features Editor

Sylvia Burwell is no stranger to change. Soon after leaving the Department of Health and Human Services and the Obama administration in January 2017, American University named her its 15th president, replacing former President Neil Kerwin. A few months later, someone hung bananas from nooses on campus, targeting the school’s first female African-American student body president. As Burwell stepped into her role in June, students, faculty, staff and alumni of color expressed frustration with AU’s campus climate. Now, as Burwell wraps up 10 months in office and prepares for her inauguration


President Kerwin got us in this great position, this jumping off point that I think she is now the perfect leader for. -Vicky Wilkins, SPA Dean

ceremony on April 12, she has the opportunity to reshape the University’s leadership, as several Kerwin-era administrators have already left or are departing. She also offers her own brand of leadership, which includes stepping out of her office and speaking directly with students, faculty and staff. In the coming year, she’ll release her own strategic plan, which will guide the school for the next five years. She’s also molding a new, comprehensive fundraising campaign for the school, the first since the last push ended in 2010, to be finalized after the release of her strategic plan. At the same time, she’s weaving her Plan for Inclusive Excellence, a two-year diversity and inclusion strategy released in January, into each component of her tenure. “This role affords one the opportunity to engage with the people in a way that other roles don’t,” Burwell said. “It’s every day. I get to see, talk to, be with staff, faculty, students, in a way, every day, hearing what they’re doing, hearing their energy, which is a great thing.” Vacancies open for new University leaders As Burwell stepped into her new role, several of the school’s top administrators either shifted positions or stepped down. As of late March, the University has academic openings for a provost and permanent deans for the School of International Service and School of Professional and Extended Studies.

JAN. 26, 2017

Sylvia Burwell named next AU president. Photo by Elise Moore

MAY 1, 2017 Bananas hung from nooses, targeting student body president, spark protests. Photo by Elisabeth Holmes

Burwell has also added Kerwin-era veterans to her administration, including Fanta Aw, now vice president of campus life. In the last two years, new deans have been appointed to lead the School of Public Affairs, Kogod School of Business and School of Education. The vacancies and new faces in top administrative roles allow Burwell to reshape the school’s leadership. She’s looking for people who embrace “working in partnership,” she said, while maintaining a sense of humor. They’re also expected to take a role in the Plan for Inclusive Excellence, she said. “We want people who are committed to American University, and excited about being a part of the team here, and excited about our work that we’re going to do as we go into the future,” Burwell said. The search for a new provost kicked off in early March, when current Provost Scott Bass announced he would step down in June. Bass is the school’s top academic official and oversees the University’s eight colleges and schools. Last time the University needed a new provost, it was because Kerwin had vacated the position himself to replace former President Benjamin Ladner. Jack Cassell, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said Burwell would like to have a new provost in place before the next school year. She is looking for candidates that share her analytical and forward thinking style, he said. The University is also looking for a permanent dean for SIS. Christine BN Chin, the school’s interim dean, stepped in for James Goldgeier in August 2017. SIS is one of AU’s crown jewels, ranked ninth in Foreign Policy Magazine’s list of best international relations schools in the world. The next dean will be selected by a search committee that includes staff members, graduate and undergraduate students, and faculty within SIS. Ken Conca, the committee’s chair, said the group has already completed a listening tour, during which they spoke with faculty, staff and students to gather input about what they would like to see in a new dean. They are currently in the process of interviewing candidates for the position. “I think for higher education today, we’re not going to be able to achieve all that we can unless we are thinking about several things,” Burwell said. “One is the future and what our students, our faculty and the world that they’re going into are going to be demanding in the future. We also have to think about partnerships and working across the institution.” Burwell also included AU veterans in her cabinet by promoting people who held various roles during the Kerwin administration. For example, Aw, vice president of campus life, was Burwell’s first appointment as president, Burwell said. Aw oversees a network of departments that work directly with students, ranging from Housing and Residence Life to the Counseling Center. In this role, she is one of the school’s most visible administrators. As Burwell transitioned into her new job, Aw gave Burwell a sense of the community she’s called home for more than two decades, Aw said. “One of the things that I often talk about is that when I think about this work, for me it’s professional and personal, one because I’m a graduate of American University and I know what my experience has been at American University, and my strong aspiration for creating the kind of community that I think we can be and we need to strive toward,” Aw said. Vicky Wilkins, previously interim dean of the School of Public Affairs, was appointed to lead SPA permanently in January 2018. Wilkins joined SPA as senior associate dean in 2014, Bass wrote in an April 2017 memo. Wilkins described Burwell

JUNE 1, 2017

Burwell takes over as the University’s 15th president. Photo by Anthony Holten

SEPT. 26, 2017 Burwell holds town hall to address Confederate flags found on campus. Photo by Jillian O’Donohoe


as refreshing, given her non-academic background. Since becoming SPA’s permanent leader, Wilkins has focused on helping students get to know the school, increasing its visibility in the D.C.-area and diversifying the faculty, she said. “President Kerwin got us in this great position, this jumping off point that I think she is now the perfect leader for,” Wilkins said. John Delaney, the Kogod dean, and Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, the School of Education’s dean, started in their roles in July 2016, the summer before Kerwin’s final year as president. As dean, Delaney is focused on connecting students with employers to set them up for post-graduation jobs, he said. He wants to bridge the gaps between the school’s programs, pushing students to interact with each other and build their personal networks. “We have to build a more inclusive and cohesive community because that’s going to give everybody the opportunity to build the networks that will help them be successful,” Delaney said. ‘Further faster’: Next strategic plan, fundraising campaign in the works, Burwell said Burwell’s next challenge is creating a five-year plan, called a strategic plan, to guide the University as a whole. As she works on this, she’s also crafting a new fundraising campaign and implementing her Plan for Inclusive Excellence, the school’s two-year diversity and inclusion strategy announced in January. She hopes all of the strategizing will help the University move “further faster,” she said. Her strategic plan will replace a 10-year strategy that guided Kerwin’s administration and will end this academic year. The plan, authored in 2008, described goals for the school, which included advancing AU’s graduate programs, valuing diversity and deepening partnerships with D.C.-based and global organizations. Burwell’s five-year strategic plan will be released this fall and focus on upholding AU’s strengths and improving its weaknesses, Burwell said. It will be written with the University Strategic Planning Committee, which includes representation of students, alumni, staff, faculty and administrators, Burwell said. Direct listening is helping the committee shape the plan, Burwell said. Since starting as president, Burwell said she has spoken directly with nearly 1,000 people connected to AU, ranging from students, faculty, staff, alumni and more. In addition to listening, Burwell also examined the most recent campus climate survey, conducted in spring 2017, and brought in external help from former Spelman College President Johnnetta Cole and consultant Makeba Clay. Now, the team is examining the school’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, a process referred to as SWOT analysis. Burwell anticipates offering more specific components of the strategic plan before the end of the spring 2018 semester and a full launch in fall 2018. Holcomb-McCoy and Burwell work together on the University Strategic Planning Committee, Holcomb-McCoy said. They’re focused on creating partnerships between the Center for Postsecondary Readiness and Success, launched in January, and organizations outside of the University. The Center’s goal is to support high school students on their journey to college, Holcomb-McCoy said. “We’re really excited that the Center has really garnered a lot of support from local and national foundations,” Holcomb-McCoy said. “President Burwell, with her background in the Gates Foundation and her work with issues around education and issues around community engagement, [has] been really helpful to us and is a huge supporter in our work around college access.” At the same time, Burwell is also implementing the Plan for Inclusive Excellence, which she released in January. In March, Burwell tacked on another responsibility to Aw’s portfolio: vice president of inclusive excellence. With her new title, Aw will be the “conductor” of the Plan for Inclusive Excellence, Burwell said. Since the launch of the Plan for Inclusive Excellence in January, the Board of Trustees has also held sessions with students to help them understand how the school can be improved, Burwell said. For example, they hosted Lauren Lumpkin and Shyheim Snead, both undergraduates, to speak about their own experiences as students, Cassell wrote in a February memo following the group’s winter meeting. “It makes a difference when they hear directly from students in terms of what’s your lived experience,” Burwell said. Burwell is also in the process of planning for a major fundraising campaign, she said. Courtney Surls, vice president for Development and Alumni Relations, said that the University’s last fundraising campaign ended in 2010 and raised $211 million. Surls said that now is the perfect time to plan a new campaign, especially since the University is rounding out Kerwin’s strategic plan and has a new leader. “We need to make sure the development and the fundraising is about opportunity,”

JAN. 30, 2018 Burwell launches two-year diversity and inclusion strategy. Photo by Jillian O’Donohoe

FEB. 8, 2018

Burwell leads panel on diversity and inclusion strategy. Photo courtesy of Jeff Watts



theEAGLE April 2018


She’s definitely a lot more visible on campus. -Valentina Fernández, Student Trustee


Burwell said. “It’s something I spend time on every day, and it is a place where we need to put in place the building blocks to stand on to start getting the impact and results.” This would be a comprehensive campaign to raise money for a specific set of goals, Surls said, with a determined start and end date. It would be the third of its kind in the University’s history. AU is waiting until Burwell’s strategic plan is finished to launch a fundraising push, Surls said. “Before you get to that point, you want to make sure you know exactly what you’re going to raise money for and you have a good idea about how you’re going to get there,” Surls said. Cassell said funds raised by the campaign will go toward scholarships, endowments and the building of a new science center to replace Beeghly Hall. He also hopes to raise money for an athletic annex building, which would offer students a place to study and socialize. Burwell’s leadership style marked by increased visibility From holiday study breaks on the quad to cheering on the women’s basketball team in the NCAA tournament, Burwell has made her visibility to students, faculty and staff central to her leadership style. For example, Burwell said students will often approach her when she rides her bicycle to work. “They’ll stop and often have something to say or want to express themselves, tell me about what they’re doing, or something that’s happening in their classrooms,” Burwell said. Burwell has also spent time collaborating with faculty both inside and outside of the classroom. She said that a number of professors have invited her to be a part of their classes, such as Jane Hall in the School of Communication. She also convened a conference of faculty in the D.C.- area to talk about Latino youth health, a topic she worked on while serving in the Obama administration. Student trustee Valentina Fernández has received positive feedback from her peers about Burwell’s increased visibility as compared to her predecessor, she said. Students see Burwell as a strong leader that understands that the best way to create effective change is to be present in the community, Fernández said. “She’s definitely a lot more visible on campus,” Fernández said. “I think the listening tour really set a foundation of [how] her presidency was going to kick off and how it was going to continue.” Burwell’s non-academic background has also set her leadership apart from previous AU presidents, those who work with her directly said. Delaney said he admires how her experience as president of the Global Development Program for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation allows her to look at critical issues and work efficiently, much like a CEO. Holcomb-McCoy, who worked with both Kerwin and Burwell, finds Burwell’s experience outside of higher education gives a sense of “freshness and newness” in the role. “Her commitment [is] to community engagement and to ensuring that every child has access to an excellent education from birth to college,” Holcomb-McCoy said. “Her commitment to that and her work within that space through the nonprofit world, it really helps us to have a president who understands the work we are trying to do.” Courtney Rozen contributed reporting for this article.

MARCH 2, 2018 Provost Scott Bass announces upcoming retirement. Photo by Elisabeth Holmes

MARCH 20, 2018 Ahead of her inauguration, Burwell discusses AU’s next strategic plan. Photo by Alyssa Rotunno


Student clubs highlight dance forms from around the world Campus groups bring students together through movement

by Anna Donohue Managing Editor for Life


On a Sunday morning in the Cassell Fitness Center studio, the American Bhangra Crew rehearses their routine for their upcoming performances this semester. The dancers follow the lead of co-choreographer Satinder Parmar, a freshman in the Kogod School of Business, as they studiously practice parts of the routine over and over. The American Bhangra Crew, or ABC as they sometimes call themselves, has 12 members this semester and works hard to perfect their dance for various gigs. While AU has a comprehensive dance program with both a dance major and minor offered, student-run dance groups allow students to engage with their peers as well as various cultures and traditions through dance. However, being on a predominantly white campus can pose a bit of a challenge for groups that practice non-Western dance forms, such as Bhangra. “I think a challenge might be getting people open to trying new things, especially with a different dance style on a campus where minorities aren’t as

-Brianna Bytner, sophomore K-pop dancer

present. It’s kind of like being able to get people to step out of their comfort zone,” said Mckim Jean-Pierre, a senior and the president of ABC. Jean-Pierre learned about Bhangra by visiting the South Asian Student Association table at the annual involvement fair. Bhangra is a dance form from Punjabi culture, which originates from the Punjab region in India and Pakistan. Bhangra is a very emotional dance form traditionally performed at weddings. Emotion is at the center of it, Parmar said, and sometimes the movements stem directly from song’s lyrics. “It’s a fun way to connect community members,” Parmar said. “While Bhangra is very much a Punjabi thing, it’s very much so a South Asian thing, so people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, everywhere, they really love it and it really unifies South Asia in a way that takes out politics and religion.” While ABC does not compete, they perform at multiple shows throughout the year, such as the SIS International Dinner and the No Lost Generation Gala. The group held auditions earlier in the semester. All potential members had to learn and film a routine, which then helped the four members of the Bhangra Crew executive board -- Parmar, Jean-Pierre, treasurer Sakshi Das and co-choreographer Kiran Ahluwalia -- select the members. Parmar said there is a mix of current dancers who have Bhangra experience with those who do not. “A big part that I really like about most Bhangra teams at college campuses is that they’re diverse,” Parmar said. “We have a lot of people who maybe just heard of Bhangra and were like ‘that’s super cool, I saw it on YouTube, I’ll go to auditions.’” Newer dance groups on campus share the same excitement to perform and build camaraderie, such as AU’s K-pop dance cover team. K-pop is short for Korean pop music, which is a specific music genre but also representative of a larger culture based around Korean pop music. “It’s such a big culture, it’s not just about the music, even though the music is great, but it has this really unique style,” sophomore Brianna Bytner said. “It’s just so much fun to get in to, and the Korean language is beautiful, so all of that combined makes K-pop, and I feel like international fans get into it because it’s such a big phenomenon.” Bytner established the dance team at the beginning of the spring 2018 semester. She wanted to develop a specific dance group out of a K-pop general interest club. The team currently has 10 members and is focusing on learning different K-pop covers to film. “My hopes for the future are that once we have a mix of songs put together, we’re going to film it, and then I also want to reach out to other clubs on campus and hopefully put on an exhibition or some kind of show where we can show people Korean culture and we can also perform that, and see if we can also perform at other events as well,” Bytner said of her plans for the future of the team. Similar to the American Bhangra Crew, it’s tricky for the K-pop dance cover team to attract new members because many students on AU’s campus are unfamiliar with the dance form. “It was hard to find other people who enjoyed K-pop,” Bytner said. “And so I wanted to make a club, but I also wanted to have a dance cover team where we could perform K-pop covers because I also have a big passion for dancing.” Elizabeth Anderson, a freshman in SIS on the team, said that before she joined she had never danced before. When she watched the popular K-pop group, BTS, perform at the 2017 American Music Awards in November, she thought it was interesting and decided to teach herself the dance they performed.

“I thought to myself, ‘I’m gonna figure it out and learn how to do it, that’s my goal,’ and I figured it out, and then it spiraled, and here I am,” Anderson said. Almost every member of the team has K-pop experience, although Bytner said the few people without experience who came to auditions were hooked. She said she hopes more students will hear about K-pop and want to try it out. “I learned so much through that and I feel like that’s what people can also take from this group eventually, is they’ll know more about K-pop and then hopefully every group on campus will just get more involved and well-known,” Bytner said. Britta Peterson, the head of the AU Dance Program, echoed the desire for more dance groups on campus, as they contribute to a stronger dance presence at AU. Peterson is in her second year in the position and has overseen recent change in the dance program, such as the addition of a dance major. With 13 declared majors currently in the program, “there’s clearly an interest in dance on campus,” Peterson said. “Eagles want to dance.”



It’s such a big culture, it’s not just about the music.

Eagles want to dance.


-Britta Peterson, head of the AU Dance Program

“Something that dance clubs help with is that people don’t usually know that the dance program exists,” Peterson said. “People don’t know that we’re here, and that’s a big problem that I’m still trying to solve.” Peterson said that an understanding of world dance forms and art forms from other cultures are crucial to developing an understanding of different countries and regions of the world, and when the arts at AU are physically separated from the rest of the main campus in the Katzen Arts Center, this can hurt the visibility and value of art. “I am really committed to an inclusionary, non-Western dance culture, but if the students do not come, it cannot work,” she said. “You think that you’re going to be a good diplomat without understanding the different artistic and cultural experiences of these places that you want to be engaging with? … When you’re engaging with these dance forms you are literally embodying the cultural knowledge that comes with that dance form, which is so powerful.”




Student theater groups grapple with lack of performance space by Dilpreet Raju Arts and Entertainment Editor

If you walk through the hallways of the Katzen Arts Center, you may hear familiar lines of Shakespeare’s works. It’s the AU Rude Mechanicals rehearsing for an upcoming play. While they would love to rehearse their plays in a more private setting, that is often not an option for the theater troupe, Elizabeth Morton, the group’s executive director, said. This forces actors to practice in the hallways of AU’s designated performance facility. “Sometimes, we are able to reserve a space,” Morton said. “But if we don’t, we really rehearse wherever, like in the random hallways of Katzen.” Katzen currently offers only a handful of locations for performances and rehearsals, including the Abramson Family Recital Hall, the black box studio theater and larger classrooms. And with more than a dozen officially recognized performance groups and counting on campus, the demand far outweighs the number of spaces available. Morton has been a part of AU Rude Mechanicals for more than three years, she said, and has routinely struggled to book rehearsal space. Each full play requires four to six weeks of rehearsal. That’s followed by tech rehearsals, when the lighting, sound and stage designer coordinate the technical elements of the play. Finally, dress rehearsals happen the week of the show. “Ideally, for most theatrical productions, you want to have those rehearsals in the [same] performance space,” Morton said. “Oftentimes, we find ourselves not having rehearsals in a performance space and having to re-setup everything in a different location. We’ve learned to be very flexible, but it can be difficult sometimes.” Laura Cottrell, president of Treble in Paradise, an a cappella group, said she understands the struggles Morton faces. Treble in Paradise performs at nearly 20 events each semester, both on and off campus, so planning ahead is as vital to the group’s success as anything else. They typically hold concerts in Kay Spiritual Life Center, Cottrell said. “I can't remember the last time we didn't have some sort of issue booking a concert,” Cottrell said. Cottrell is fond of Kay Spiritual Life Center and values it as a home for their concerts. However, she would love to have at least one more option. “The acoustics are really beautiful and it's a really fun space, but it would be nice to have another option, I think,” Cottrell said. The all-female a capella group helps run Acapalooza, an annual performance featuring all on-campus acapella groups. Other external groups from the D.C. metro area are invited to perform, too. However, this year, the planning for Acapalooza hit a snag early in the planning process, Cottrell said. Kay Spiritual Life Center is booked until 8:30 p.m. on the night of the event, Cottrell said. They reserved a room in Kerwin Hall as a staging area. Once Kay Spiritual Life Center is free, they will transfer the performers there. “There was nothing else available, which is pretty frustrating seeing as it’s a cool, big event for the whole campus,” Cottrell said. AU uses an online system, 25Live, to schedule on-campus events. Club leaders can

Photo courtesy of Jeff Watts

Students perform “Othello” in Katzen Studio Theater in March.

reserve rooms using the system. Booking space for performances and rehearsals can be difficult using 25Live, Morton said. “You can put in a reservation and have it there for weeks, then have it knocked off for another event, and there’s not a lot of priority that’s given to student use,” Morton said. “If there’s an event or anything involving money from the University, they will immediately kick you out.” Cottrell said they will commonly get their 25Live reservation booted in favor of another group or event. The removal becomes more troubling because performance groups compete for space with each other. Shyheim Snead, who serves as director of the Kennedy Political Union, the organization responsible for hosting speakers like U.S. Congressman John Lewis and activist Malala Yousafzai, said that 25Live, although at times problematic, is the best system in place. “I [know] the people who run 25Live and coordinate,” Snead said. “I play one game of Tetris, but they're playing it with hundreds of student groups. For right now, I think that having conversations like this, we can do more to get student groups and student leaders in conversation with folks who help schedule space.” Michael Elmore, senior director of University Center and Student Activities, said that out of all the facilities on campus, not a single one currently prioritizes student use. While classes obviously come first, just one space prioritized for student organizations could do wonders, he said. “There's not a single space for programs where a student organization gets first priority and that's something that, from where I sit, we ought to be able to change,” Elmore said. The system software of 25Live is not the problem, Elmore said. It’s the lack of studentfirst space. “The issue isn't the scheduling software, the issue is the space crunch and the conflicting priorities that everyone seems to have. So, carving out something that can be students-first would be a great step forward,” Elmore said. Although there are a variety of areas, such as classrooms, on campus for groups to hold events, they are not favorable for performance groups because their shows require specific characteristics that a limited number of spaces offer. Turning these common areas into performance spaces is something groups face often, Elmore said. “If you look at other spaces around campus, you're really talking about taking spaces that are meant for general assembly and turning them into more theatrical spaces,” Elmore said. However, even Katzen needs to renovate some of their spaces for performance use, said Lisa Ager, Katzen’s facilities and operations manager. “Our black box studio, we've rigged it to be for small performances, but it was originally intended to be just a classroom for theater,” Ager said. “So, we've literally installed more lighting, more piping and now some curtains are going to go in this summer to make it a performance space.” The Greenberg Theater in Tenleytown was originally designated to be the school’s main theater and the Abramson Family Recital Hall in Katzen Arts Center was intended to be a smaller recital space. While some performance groups can use Greenberg, it is often booked and tougher to reserve because it costs more to use than Katzen, Ager said. “At Katzen, we try to keep it as minimal as possible, it's really just recouping cost of a staff member being there and maintenance on the equipment. Greenberg might have to charge a little bit more because their facilities are more complex and they have much smaller staff than us,” Ager said. “So, they often rely on full-time staff to work overtime to make events possible.” The University is considering renovating the third floor of the Mary Graydon Center. However, nothing is final, including what space might be able to for campus groups to use. President Sylvia Burwell is working on the University’s next strategic plan, which will guide the school’s growth over the next five years. She would like to release it in fall 2018, she told The Eagle in March. Members of AU’s performing arts department hope performance space will be addressed in the plan. However, Ager said she has not yet been approached by University leaders about it. Elmore said a big hurdle for the University in approving another performance space is the question of it being fully used. “They would, but there are competing priorities and does that mean if we built another theater, that it would get used fully? And there's maybe some skepticism as to whether you would have full use of a second theater space,” Elmore said. “So, we have to prove that somehow, if you build it, will they come?” As for what students can do, Elmore said relaying all these needs to student representatives and administrators is the most effective way to go about bringing change. “We've been encouraging them to get their voices out there and advocate for themselves in the planning process a lot more,” Elmore said. With big changes expected in Burwell’s upcoming strategic plan, Morton understands that performance groups are low on the list, but hopes something is done. “I understand why our very specific need of a performance space is low on the list, but it kind of sucks that it keeps not happening,” Morton said.


theEAGLE April 2018

Photo courtesy of Daniel Sayers

Researchers recover narratives lost in the ‘Great Dismal Swamp’

Professor Sayers talks to fellow field researchers on site at the Great Dismal Swamp. by Grace George Contributing Writer

Beginning in 2002, a professor and Ph.D. student scrutinized documents, sifted through mounds of dirt and employed modern dating methods. They ultimately demonstrated how a vast wetland stretching from Virginia to North Carolina housed thousands of runaway slaves and Native Americans in the 1800s. Professor Daniel Sayers’ and Ph.D. student Becca Peixotto’s research is the focus of “The Great Dismal Swamp,” a documentary that aired on the Smithsonian Channel on Feb. 19. “When we look at our land use and our maps of our space around us today … lots of people have this idea that it’s always been like that,” Peixotto said. “I think we lose something if we don’t investigate.” Scholars have tried to prove that runaway slaves lived in the Great

Dismal Swamp for decades, according to the Smithsonian Channel. Primary documents lack significant information and there are often people with family ties to the Swamp’s inhabitants who are unfamiliar with the story, Sayers said. Sometimes, descendants are even reluctant to share the information that they do know. “A lot of this history of the Swamp is going to be guarded,” Sayers said. “This is the kind of history where if your family has a connection to the Swamp, there might be reasons not to go around telling everyone about it.” Sayer’s interest in the area peaked during his doctoral dissertation project. He conducted his hands-on work primarily in the North Carolina region of the Swamp, looking at remnants of Native American and runaway slave sites on small islands. “At that beginning early stage, I think it was just an absolute fascination with the

folks who I was coming to understand may have lived out in the Swamp,” Sayers said. Peixotto first went to the Swamp as a master’s student. She returned when she began her own doctoral research. Before arriving at the site, Peixotto would use Lidar, an aerial laser scanner, to see through the trees and examine elevations in the Swamp. “I was really taken with the environment and the challenges of working as an archaeologist in that environment,” Peixotto said. “But also … the people who were living there in the past and the challenges of living in that environment.” The work by Peixotto and Sayers is not only important to American history, but it is also inspires their students. Senior Emily Duncan was present for the filming of the documentary. “They’re some of the smartest people I’ve ever met,” Duncan said. “They are

both so enthusiastic and they recognize the importance of archaeology and they pass that on to their students.” Most findings at the site were small, as large artifacts do not tend to survive the humid and extreme environment. These small artifacts, however, can offer vast insight into the life of the Swamp. “It’s all that micro tiny stuff, little bits of stuff,” Sayers said. “Then you come across an arrowhead or a lead shot or a white clay tobacco pipe fragment and you kind of just blow your top.” Jordan Riccio was part of Professor Sayers’ first student field research team in 2009 while working on his master’s degree. Riccio rejoined Sayers in 2016 during the filming of the documentary. “You have a group of people who went to great lengths to find [their] freedom,” Riccio said. “I think that’s very inspiring and should not be forgotten.”

Racial diversity scarce in a cappella groups Students lay groundwork for new singing troupe for students of color by Cordilia James and Elisabeth Holmes Style Editor and Assistant Style Editor

Sophomores and friends Indira Mohabeer and Chelsea Fosu have been singing for as long as they can remember. Whether it’s chorus or the church choir, both said music is an integral part of their lives. But when it came to joining a cappella groups in college, Mohabeer and Fosu noticed an alarming lack of people of color in campus ensemble groups. Mohabeer left the co-ed a cappella group Dime a Dozen in search of a singing group that sang more soulful songs with a modern twist. “I just didn’t necessarily feel like it was exercising my talents to the ability that I thought they could be utilized for,” Mohabeer said. “Especially the song choices. I felt like we could be doing more.” Mohabeer and Fosu aren’t alone, and so they founded the Acabellas, an a cappella club for people of color, to fill this void. Racial diversity across a cappella groups Erica Worrell, a member of Treble in Paradise, said she was the only woman of color who auditioned for her group. Worrell hopes that more well-known a cappella groups will support smaller groups to help their performances reach a

broader audience. “The a cappella groups can maybe try to get involved in more events that have to do with different cultural activities,” Worrell said. “I think that would be a cool way to get more involved.” Maya Krishnan, the music director of Pitches Be Trippin’, said the lack of diversity stems from a cappella being a predominantly white activity, making it harder for students to leave their comfort zone. “It takes a certain kind of exposure to music in the past to … go out of your comfort zone and audition for a group,” Krishnan said. “It’s weird to go join a very musical group and say, ‘I don’t have this kind of background,’ or … ‘a cappella is very new to me.’” Sarah al Maghlouth, the manager for Pitches Be Trippin’, said that because AU is predominantly white, most of the girls who audition for their group are also white. As an Arab woman in the group, she said she likes to keep an eye out for women of color who audition. “I always try to look for girls who are looking for some sort of community that they can’t really find in the rest of AU,” al Maghlouth said. Their goal is to create a space where anyone can feel like they belong. However, it’s mostly about the individual’s voice, al Maghlouth said. “Even if I really like you as a person, if your voice isn’t what you’re looking for this semester, then it’s not what we’re looking for, you know?” al Maghlouth said.

Acabellas promote racial diversity in a cappella After talking to Mohabeer about her experience, Fosu said they both noticed other students of color on campus who had talent voice-wise, but weren’t using it in a cappella. “There’s so many people of color in our school who are so talented and can sing, but they were either intimidated, felt like it was a lost cause or just didn’t know about these groups,” Mohabeer said. “They didn’t want to join them because they didn’t feel comfortable, so we were just like, something needs to be done.” One of the key differences that will set this new group apart from others on campus is their musical style, Fosu said. “We want to bring that soulful, eccentric [sound] back from Michael Jackson to today,” Fosu said. “SZA, Lauryn Hill, anything in between, and really create those cool mixes.” However, Mohabeer said the main goal of the group is to promote diversity, showcase the talents of students of color and provide them a “family-like” safe space where their voices can be heard. “We definitely want our performances to be very artistic and involve a dramatic element to it,” Mohabeer said. “We can incorporate many different things … but we definitely don’t want it to just be us standing still, singing a song.” The Acabellas hope to collaborate with some of the existing groups in the future, Fosu said. On a Sensual Note, an all-male

a cappella group, had already expressed interest in working with them, Fosu said. Jared Buto, a member of On a Sensual Note, said the fact that students of color don’t feel accepted in the existing groups says a lot about the racial climate at AU. Hopefully, the Acabellas will cause other groups to be more conscious about diversity, he said. “We should always be trying to create inclusivity in areas that we already have, rather than trying to create separate areas, because then that … creates its own inherent divide,” Buto said. Mohabeer said auditions for the group may be held sometime in April, but there’s still more work to be done. To have an official group, they will need to find a staff supervisor, create a group contract and constitution and have at least eight students interested. Fortunately, about 13 students have already expressed serious interest in joining, and the group hopes to launch by August of next semester. In the meantime, Mohabeer and Fosu are continuing to reach out to students from all different ethnicities and backgrounds. “I really want us to be conscious about the fact that we’re making it open to [all] people of color that have talent and want to be a part of an ensemble group,” Mohabeer said. and



Photo courtesy of Amy Kinneston

The women’s basketball team at Thanksgiving dinner at Emily Kinneston’s home in Shelburne, Vermont.

Defining ‘family’: Women’s basketball travels to players’ hometowns Head coach helps teammates connect with each other through trips home by Kimberly Cataudella Assistant Sports Editor

In her nearly four years at AU, women’s basketball senior guard Emily Kinneston has only had one Thanksgiving dinner at home. It included industrial-size serving trays, dozens of folding chairs and enough mashed potatoes to feed an entire Division I basketball team, coaching staff, medical personnel, sports information directors and bus driver. She brought her team home for Thanksgiving. Amy Kinneston, Emily’s mother, knew a month in advance that she would have 43 mouths to feed on Thanksgiving day in her home in Shelburne, Vermont. “Well, 44 including the bus driver,” Amy Kinneston said. “He also came to the game with us. I think he’s now a fan of American University women’s basketball.” Head coach Megan Gebbia makes it a point to schedule an away game in each of her player’s hometowns during their time as college athletes. She hopes that this will help her players connect to their teammates on a deeper level. It’s worked. As the team wrapped up its record breaking season, capped by a Patriot League championship and trip to the NCAA tournament, eight athletes on the team used the same word to describe their teammates: family. “My philosophy always with Thanksgiving is that whoever you’re with on that day is your family, and we figured that these girls are now Emily’s family, so by extension, they’re our family too,” Amy Kinneston said. AU is a member of the Patriot League, which includes Army, Navy, Lehigh, Loyola Maryland, Lafayette, Boston University, Colgate, Bucknell and Holy Cross. This mainly mid-Atlantic geographic region requires some air travel for games. However, trips typically consist of semi-long bus rides and crossing one or two state lines. Because of Gebbia’s goal to visit her players’ hometowns, AU women’s basketball has the opportunity to travel beyond Patriot League’s bounds. Junior forward Cecily Carl said that the Patriot League can feel geographically restrictive, so women’s basketball players graduate knowing that they played additional teams around the country. Some AU athletes, however, live near Patriot League schools, so the non-conference games are close to home anyway. Carl, who is from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, spent time with teammates in her childhood bedroom when the team traveled to Bucknell at the end of December. “It’s so nice to have their own fans in the stands,” Gebbia said. “I think that’s the biggest thing.” Beside the fact that she got to eat turkey and stuffing at her own dining room table, Emily Kinneston’s homecoming story was made all the more special when she hit the game-winning shot against University of Vermont, where her mom said she developed

her love of basketball as a child. Emily Kinneston’s family, childhood friends and girls she coached in basketball summer camp filled her hometown bleachers for the game. “It was just like a Disney movie, Mrs. Kinneston!” Amy Kinneston remembers senior guard Kate Bond telling her after the game. Tom, a close family friend and next-door neighbor to the Kinnestons, passed away from kidney cancer last spring. He was “like a second dad” to Emily Kinneston, her mom said. His wife and four children were in the stands to watch her play and score the game-winning basket. While he was in the hospital, he watched the team play online. “I don’t know if it was luck or fate,” Amy Kinneston said. “Tom’s wife, Barb, said to me afterward, ‘I can’t help but think that Tom had something to do with that.’” Most hometown games don’t end as explosively as Emily’s 64-62 win over UVA. Women’s basketball opened up its season on the road at the University of Tulsa – and won 72-67 – in early November. The team slept over at Kate Bond’s estate in Oklahoma, where they ate breakfast with Bond’s family in the morning, played childhood games (like kickball and tug-of-war) on their property and attended a University of Oklahoma football game. Bond was most excited about teaching her teammates OU’s “Boomer Sooner” cheers, hoping they would embrace the spirit of Oklahoma. “That was the most unique trip we’ve ever taken,” Gebbia said. “Kate’s family was so kind, and we went the OU football game with one of the largest crowds ever.” Last December, the team traveled to senior guard Maria Liddane’s house in Grosse Pointe, Michigan to play the University of Michigan. AU lost 82-33. “To be honest, it was not a good game at all,” Liddane said, laughing. “But the trip wasn’t about the game’s loss, it was about the fact that we were leading up to the holiday and the team got to be with my own family and friends.” When the Kinnestons hosted the team for Thanksgiving, Amy Kinneston moved furniture, rented tables and reached out to a friend in the restaurant industry to snag some commercial food warmers and serving trays. She wanted to soak in the fact that her daughter was spending the holiday with her for the first time in four years, but she realized too that her teammates were going another Thanksgiving without their own siblings and family traditions. She tried to make the girls as comfortable as possible, playing football on the TV and cooking traditional favorites, like stuffing and sweet potato casserole. Amy Kinneston even sent senior forward Michael Harris, one of Emily’s roommates, home with a Vermont maple oatmeal pie. “I don’t know if I thanked them all enough,” Amy said. “It’s cool when this big bus parks in front of the house and tall girls are filling up every corner of where you live. It was our pleasure more than any burden, and it was all so much fun.”


theEAGLE April 2018

Lacrosse seniors mentor majority underclassmen team by Fatima Albannai Staff Writer

Goodbyes can be bitter, and for AU lacrosse players Lexi Perez, Jennifer DeSimone, Leah Brennan and Samantha Breeze, the spring semester will be their last representing the Eagles on the athletic field. For their first three years with the AU lacrosse program, wins have been hard to come by for Perez, DeSimone, Brennan and Breeze. The team has finished below 0.500 and won five games or fewer each year since 2013. However, the team is home to 15 freshmen and sophomores this season. Before they graduate, Perez, DeSimone, Brennan and Breeze are trying to change the culture for the lacrosse team by mentoring younger players. “In games, when it’s back and forth, it’s crucial to have experience and know when to slow down the game, and communicate with the younger players,” head coach Emma Wallace said. “They’ve been here for four years, so they know what they’re talking about.” Seniors leave mark on team Through their four years on the team, they’ve built relationships and made connections both on the field and in the locker room. They’ve had sleepovers, dinners, TV nights and endless hours spent studying at the Bender library. As seniors, there is a collective pressure to perform during their last competitive season, Brennan said. The pressure to succeed, the seniors said, is a good kind of pressure, one that pushes them to challenge themselves to meet the team’s expectations and drives them towards their ultimate goal of winning. “The best part about playing lacrosse for American is the irreplaceable teammates and friendships that I’ve developed through this team, and knowing that these friendships will last me beyond graduation,” Perez, one of the 2018 team captains, said. Perez, DeSimone and Brennan came to AU as freshmen together four years ago. Breeze, a junior, is graduating early this May, wrapping up three years on the team. She was injured last semester and will play her final season for AU this year. Perez, a defender and midfielder, has seen her role with the team increase incrementally, playing in more games and recording more points each successive season. In 2018, Perez has taken a greater offensive role on the team, scoring 16 goals and earning two overall assists. “We’ve been grateful to have senior leaders as freshmen, that showed us the ropes in terms of how to make time, structure our days, and team accountability in general to help us stay on track,” Perez said. Brennan did not see the field during both her sophomore and junior years. She returned to the lineup her senior season, scoring 15 goals as of 2018 and starting every game. DeSimone led the team in scoring

and tallied seven hat tricks as a junior. However, DeSimone has not played a single minute in 2018 after suffering a season-ending injury before the spring. Breeze, too, played in every game as a freshman and sophomore before being sidelined for her final season of competition by a knee injury. Wallace, who is in her sixth year at AU, witnessed Perez, DeSimone, Brennan and Breeze’s tentative early moments as freshmen and is overseeing their final collegiate season of competition. Wallace said she has loved coaching the group of seniors and will continue to stay active in their development off the field once they move on from AU. “Just talking about the [seniors] brings a smile to my face,” Wallace said. “I love them to death. I’ve seen them grow into amazing young women, off the field and on the field, working on their skill sets. One of the best things was watching these women grow up.” Seniors mentor younger players The lacrosse team seniors have all had to adopt leadership roles this semester with their underclassmen. The 15 freshmen and sophomores present a challenge to assimilate everyone into the team. However, nothing has changed, Perez said. She has seen her development with the team as gradual, with mentoring the younger players inherent to her role as team captain. “This year something that is unique is the presence of freshman class, a lot of younger girls starting, we’re getting used to having different girls on the team, and building relationships to get that going,” Perez said. “All the girls did a great job owning up to it, and working under pressure, and coming together as a team.” Leadership can take the form of building team values and leading by example, as it does for Perez, or bringing a light-hearted attitude and friendly demeanor to the younger players, as it does for Brennan. Brennan said she tries to make as many meaningful relationships as she can with the younger players because she believes that taking extra steps toward building camaraderie off the field is important. DeSimone has adopted a maternal role with her teammates, said Fiona Geier, a junior goalkeeper for the team. “Jen is the mom because she has so much knowledge about lacrosse, school and everything in general,” Geier said. “She has a really positive presence, so she’s really able to give advice that people really take in.” DeSimone, who will attend nursing school in North Carolina after graduation, said she stresses to the younger players that everyone on the field is equal. As an injured senior, her role is off the field, where she builds meaningful relationships with the younger girls and brings everyone together, she said. DeSimone is an influence off the field by supporting her team members and keeping everyone’s heads held up and high, Wallace said. For Wallace, each senior offers a


Lacrosse players Leah Brennan, Jennifer DeSimone, Lexi Perez and Samantha Breeze (Left to right) different element to the team. “Lexi has the loudest voice, Jen keeps things positive but she also has the wisdom and the knowledge, Leah sets the tone on a daily basis and Sam has a calming presence,” Wallace said. Perez, DeSimone, Brennan and Breeze attribute their comfort as leaders to the upperclassmen who helped them acclimate to college when they were freshmen and sophomores. The four said they hope to instill the lessons they learned, in terms of time management and team accountability, in the future leaders of the lacrosse team. The influence of Perez, DeSimone, Brennan and Breeze has helped many players, including Geier, take on

more leadership and mentorship of the freshmen and sophomores. Geier views herself as the “quarterback of the defense” and cherishes the camaraderie of the lacrosse team, facilitated by many the upperclassmen on the team. As their playing careers at AU wind down — the team will play its last regular season game on April 28 — Perez, DeSimone, Brennan and Breeze said they will focus on enjoying every moment on the field with their teammates, working hard and staying focused. “We are just trying to enjoy every moment and working hard both on and off the field,” Perez said.

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To print or not to print

University can achieve sustainability goals, but only if everyone helps

by Stephanie Mirah Staff Columnist

American University prides itself on being environmentally friendly. The campus is an arboretum and the classrooms use motion-sensored lights. East Campus, the University’s most recent architectural addition, is on its way to becoming LEED certified, according to the University’s 2016-2017 Annual Report. From Mary Graydon Center to the Anderson-Letts residence halls, trash, mixed recycling and compost bins are labeled to encourage people to properly dispose their waste. When University President Sylvia Burwell

replaced former President Neil Kerwin, his plan to completely eliminate our carbon footprint became part of her mission, too. Yet, this semester, I started to become skeptical of the University’s “go green” narrative. “I want it submitted to Blackboard and I want a hard copy brought to class,” one of my professors announced regarding written assignments. “I will be posting the readings to Blackboard, but then you must print it out, annotate it and bring it to class,” another instructor said. American University has a paper problem and it’s hurting its environmentally friendly reputation. During the 2016-2017 academic year, the University employed 889 full-time faculty, according to that year’s Academic Data Reference Book, the school’s annual comprehensive record. As of March, more than 500 are considered Green Teachers by the Center for Teaching, Research and Learning. To become a certified Green teacher, a professor must answer questions about making their learning environment more sustainable,

particularly reducing their paper usage. All professors should apply to become Green teachers and use Blackboard more frequently to help advance AU’s sustainability goals. By doing that, both professors and students would not have to print as frequently. Beginning this semester, spring 2018, the University installed a new printing system, Paper Cut MF, to advance their goal of carbon neutrality, according to an email from the Office of Information Technology. Paper Cut’s system tells you about your personal printing impact on the environment. When you log on to your Paper Cut MF account, the system translates your printing into an infographic about how many trees you have harmed, the amount of CO2 your printing has produced and the amount of energy that has gone into creating your paper based on a 60W light bulb. Personally, since Jan. 12, I have harmed 1.6 percent of a tree, I have produced 1.7 kg of carbon dioxide and 103.4 hours of energy from a 60W light bulb to print 235 pages of paper and counting. While those numbers appear small, I am only one of approximately 7,000 undergraduates

on campus. We can combat this paper problem by ensuring that all faculty enroll in the Green Teachers program. To maintain our reputation of being eco-friendly, we must actively create change. Most changes have to be a topdown process, beginning with professors and then moving to students. I believe everyone should create or rekindle their own environmental conscience and apply it to their everyday lives, especially in the classroom setting. I am confident that the University can achieve their sustainable goals. But, they will not magically be accomplished on their own. Both professors and students must always be aware of their own personal impacts on the environment and how those impacts can affect the greater population. The more we do together, the more carbon neutrality by 2020 sounds like an achievable goal. Stephanie Mirah is a freshman in the School of Communication and a columnist for The Eagle.

Burwell is example of female leadership in higher education

Staff Columnist

As a senior in high school, the announcement that Sylvia Burwell would be the president of American University during my time at AU was incredibly exciting. A former Cabinet member during the Obama administration's second term, Burwell seemed to be the strong woman leader I aspire to be. So soon after the election of Donald Trump, it was heartening to see AU choose a woman for its highest administrative position. Representation matters, and the experience women have on college campuses is unique. Knowing that there is someone at the very top who can understand #MeToo or the struggle to be recognized professionally means something. Burwell represents women succeeding, sitting at the table and being heard. There are few people who can say that about their university president, and I was, and still am, proud to say that about mine. Then, I realized that AU has been an institution for 125 years. President Burwell


by Samantha McAllister

is the first woman to hold the title of AU Education’s executive compensation president ever. Nationally, only 30 percent package. Their report orders presidents of universities had a female president in by total pay -- including bonuses -- and 2016, according to the American College not just base pay. President Study 2017. However, the Women in power, inside and majority of college students in 2015 were outside academia, are continually the female, according to the National Center recipients of scorn and criticism, in many for Education Statistics. They cannot look circumstances unearned. For evidence, to their leadership one only has as representative to look to the of themselves. questions women AU deserves are asked about congratulations for their personal AU deserves hiring Burwell, but lives. congratulations for this congratulations comes with a grain • Are you hiring Burwell, of salt, as it is for planning on but this congratulations finally hiring a having children? woman after 124 • W i l l comes with a grain of years. menstruation Even with affect your work? salt, as it is for finally women at top • Are you in a hiring a woman positions at our relationship? universities, gender after 124 years. disparities are These are all pervasive in higher questions women -Samantha McAllister, staff columnist education and AU. In have heard in 2015, AU’s full-time their climb to female professors top positions that -- at the professor, associate professor, men had never, and won’t ever, encounter. assistant professor and instructor rank Even today, men who are strangers to -- made less than their male counterparts women will ask them if they have kids or on average, according to the Chronicle not, and then offer an unsolicited opinion. of Higher Education’s faculty salary data The culture surrounding working tool. This tool uses data provided by the women is especially toxic. The idea that Department of Education’s Integrated a woman with ambition shouldn’t have Postsecondary Education Data System. children is still pervasive. Being a woman Of the ten highest-paid private college still means having to choose only one presidents in 2015, only two are women, thing; we cannot have both. according to The Chronicle of Higher Academia has also seen its own


version of the Me Too movement with the hashtag, #MeTooPhD. The hashtag has brought up issues of harassment, lack of punishment for harassers and general discrimination against women in higher education. Other issues women face in the academy include lack of women in senior academic positions, manipulation of female graduate students by male thesis advisers and the need for men in general to constantly prove themselves and their ideas are pervasive. Ideas are what accelerate those in academia; women in academia can find themselves stuck in a cycle of defense, just for job security. At our own University, six female professors denied tenure have accused Scott Bass, the outgoing provost, of discrimination, The Eagle reported. What else do women need to do to gain equal footing? The 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, was ratified 98 years ago this August. Title IX is only 46-years-old. American University hired a woman for its top administrative position in 2017, 124 years after the university opened its doors. How many more hoops can there be to jump through? Women are questioned every step of the way, making the roadblocks to positions like Burwell’s all the more insurmountable. Samantha McAllister is a freshman in the School of International Service and a columnist for The Eagle.


theEAGLE April 2018

Letter from the editor: Thank you for the opportunity of a lifetime

by Courtney Rozen Editor-in-Chief

Be discreet when meeting Sylvia Burwell for the first time-- you don’t want to accidentally leak her name before her announcement as president. When covering a devastating campus event, like a hate crime, don’t forget to sleep and limit your caffeine intake. Someone will always criticize you or the paper -- don’t let them rattle you. Most importantly, order pizza for the staff as often as possible. They will be more likely to help when news breaks on a Friday afternoon. These are all lessons learned at The Eagle that I’ll never forget. Three years ago, I walked through the door of Mary Graydon Center 252 for the first time. After stints as a reporter, student life editor and managing editor for news, I took on the role of editor-in-

chief a year ago. It was the best decision I made in college. This year, our staff published several in-depth stories, including one about an underground fraternity and another about six female professors accusing the provost of discrimination. We owned our breaking news coverage – reporting AU’s fast-moving stories accurately, quickly and with insight. Our sports team covered the women’s basketball team’s rise to the NCAA Tournament expertly. Our Life team deepened its reporting and multimedia skills, launching our first online-only special project on Valentine’s Day that combined text, video and web design. We improved our online presence tremendously. In addition to refining our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, we relaunched our email newsletter and started sending email news alerts. We dedicated more resources to video and graphic design, which helped us publish a few onlineonly special projects that will serve as a model for future enterprise stories. We challenged ourselves constantly to become a more inclusive student organization and newspaper. We started by creating a diversity and inclusion committee and inviting speakers to teach us about representation in journalism. We redesigned our recruiting efforts to attract more students of color. Our

opinion team launched Identities, a biweekly column for students from underrepresented backgrounds to write authentically about their experiences. We critiqued our own coverage and identified actions we could take to better cover communities of color, such as building stronger connections with identity-based clubs. While The Eagle is far from perfect with diversity and inclusion, I’m confident that we’re now in a better place. Not only did a year as editor-in-chief cement my passion for journalism, it gave me an opportunity to give back to my home in college. It also brought me to an incredible group of people. To Haley, Nick, Vince, Emily, Anna, Taameen, Alyssa, Anthony and Jack, thank you for being our fearless managing editor team. You each pushed yourselves – and your sections – to grow and improve. Thank you for your dedication, commitment and energy. I hope we get to work together again one day. Chris Young, thank you for always having The Eagle’s back. I don’t know what we’d do without you. Thank you for being our advocate always – even when others disagree – and for inspiring me to love journalism. Amy Eisman and John Watson, thank you for all of your advice and support. The Eagle is lucky to have you and the entire community of professors in the

School of Communication. To Kate, Shannon, Arielle, Ellie and Haley, thank you for being my circle of empowering women. Whether you’re near or far – and at this point, many of you are too far – I know I can always count on you. To Amanda, thank you for being my unwaveringly supportive friend and The Eagle’s cheerleader. Thank you to my parents for believing in me always. And finally, to Haley: we joke that your life is a series of post-10 p.m. phone calls. Let’s be real: they’re mostly from me. Thank you for being my reporting buddy, sounding board and friend. I don’t know what I would do without you. The Eagle is incredibly lucky to have you as its next leader. In three years at The Eagle, I’ve lost track of the intricate details of my days here. However, I’ll always remember how this newsroom shaped me as a reporter and lead to lasting friendships. To this year's staff, your tenacity and enthusiasm for the paper inspires me daily. I firmly believe that many of you will be leaders in professional newsrooms one day. As I wrap up an incredible year, thank you to our staff for the opportunity of a lifetime. I can’t wait to cheer you on forever.

Staff Editorial

With Burwell’s honeymoon stage over, administrators stand at a fork in the road


Burwell must continue engaging directly with students beyond her first year A little more than a year ago, our editorial board considered what we’d like to see from Sylvia Burwell as our next University president. Chiefly among our hopes, we requested that Burwell maintain an open line of communication with the student body. We also emphasized the importance of listening broadly and including the voices of underrepresented communities. We hoped she’d shape her own vision for the school based on conversations with members of the AU community itself. As Burwell nears the end of her first year leading the University, she has largely met this expectation. Burwell’s jovial outlook on the future of the community signify an overwhelmingly welcome change to the trajectory of the University. Burwell has managed a relatively public profile in the campus community. Examples include expressing support for our record-setting women’s basketball team, attending a campus-wide cultural fair, communicating via Twitter and more. Students have expressed gratitude at the

increased facetime and outcome-focused with their undergraduate experience. Burwell has made an effort to close the approach that Burwell has provided. However, perspectives continue to gap with her Plan for Inclusive Excellence, the school’s twodivide along year diversity and lines of identity. inclusion strategy. If you’re one The Eagle urges of the students President Burwell specifically to continue being affected by lapses The Eagle urges Presipresent on campus in University dent Burwell to continue and not slide back support or into the opaque, targeted by being present on camelusive practices racism, then pus and not slide back of the previous your perspective administ rat ion. is admittedly into the opaque, elusive This would be different and practices of the previous an injustice to personal. These the faculty and pockets of administration. generations of communities, students who specifically advocated and A f r i c a n fought to get our A m e r i c a n -The Eagle's Editorial Board community to the s t u d e nt s , point of Burwell’s overwhelmingly openness. report lacking In the coming years, Burwell also has a sense of belonging to the campus community and overall dissatisfaction opportunities to shape the University’s


leaders to fit her own vision. As of late March, the school has openings for a new provost and deans for the School of International Service and School of Professional and Extended Studies. Even though Burwell does not have the final say on all hiring decisions, we urge the University to follow Burwell’s example and hire leaders who will be transparent and willing to engage directly with students. We can no longer accept administrators accused of discrimination and racism. The campus community deserves administrators that represent and perpetuate our community’s values. This includes hiring more faculty and administrators of color, a request students have made for decades. With Burwell as our leader, the University should continue with outcome-focused approaches to the issues facing our campus community. She should continue engaging directly with students beyond her first year.

The Eagle April 2018  

The Eagle's April 2018 edition, released for President Sylvia Burwell's inauguration.

The Eagle April 2018  

The Eagle's April 2018 edition, released for President Sylvia Burwell's inauguration.