the EAGLE April 2022
The rise, fall and rise of the abolish Greek life movement
theEAGLE April 2022
Delivering American University’s news and views since 1925
MASTHEAD Editor-in-Chief Clare Mulroy Managing Editor for Online Eliza Schloss Managing Editor for News Nina Heller Managing Editor for Life Tristan Au Managing Editor for Sports Ben Morse Managing Editor for Opinion Kayla Kelly Managing Editor for El Águila Pablo Molina Asensi Managing Editor for Multimedia Carly Johnson Managing Editor for Copy Georgina DiNardo Business Manager Gabriel Papazian Assistant Copy Editors Sophia Rocha Keely Bastow Isabelle Kravis Sarah Clayton Layla Nath Sophie Myers Michael Mitsanas Emily Roberts Gabe Ferris Elena Arango Aline Behar Kado Assistant Online Editor Grace Newton Assistant Operations Editor Izzy Wolff Social Media Editors Rebecca Oss Taraji Ellington
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theEAGLE April 2022
Letter from the Editor: After four years, one final deadline Reflections on community from the editor's desk
IZZY FANTINI / THE EAGLE
We talk a lot about community at this school. Whether it’s the administration’s favorite slogan “community of care” or finding ways to shift and modify campus community, like Founders week celebrations, community sometimes seems like no more than a buzzword. In one of our staff editorials this year, we talked about the need for the University to shift away from the question of “Where can we create community?” to “Where does community already exist?” I’d like to tell you a little about what community has meant to me. The Eagle is home to 115 staffers who act in different capacities to keep this organization up and running. We’re news reporters with a passion for local news reporting and administration accountability, life staffers who channel
their talents into features and coverage of concerts and performances, opinion writers with an argument to share and a voice to do it and sports writers who know college basketball and lacrosse better than anyone else. We’re photographers with an eye for capturing small moments at protests or field hockey games and graphic designers who will create a mind blowingly complicated design and jokingly tell you, yes, graphic design is my passion. We’re social media editors with a talent for grabbing your attention and copy editors with a keen eye for mistakes. We’re also a microcosm of the University itself, which is what makes our jobs as reporters and editors so crucial. We come from different backgrounds, participate in different clubs on campus and pursue different interests in our studies. It makes our job as students who report on students so essential because we all have a different perspective to bring to the table. When we came back on campus this year, we found community in a whole new way. What had existed for years through a Zoom screen now played out center stage on campus. Here at The Eagle, we forged new friendships and bonded over our love for journalism and this University. I know many of you also found it in new and unexpected ways as well — this year proved that having community, above all, is essential on college campuses. I am so proud of the work that we have done this year, so proud of our little community at The Eagle. We’ve covered a lot of heavy material this year — hate
crimes on campus, student protests and coronavirus decision-making by the University. We strived to keep the student body informed when it came to everyday campus operations, including uncovering that the University unknowingly distributed counterfeit KN95 masks on campus. As I reflect on my time at The Eagle and American University, I realize it’s the people, not the stories, that make up this sense of community I’ll miss the most. I have so many “thank you’s” to dole out as I prepare to leave D.C., but there’s a few I want to recognize here: Thank you to Nina Heller and Skye Witley, who were available for work and emotional support at pretty much any time of day. I am so grateful to have had the two of you by my side through the most unpredictable of situations this year. Thank you to Carly Johnson, Izzy Fantini, Stella Lynch, Jacob Fishman and Haley Dymek for hours of work making this print edition come to life. Koz, thanks for keeping me grounded always. Your friendship means so much to me. Georgina DiNardo, Sophie Austin and Kelsey Carolan for being some of the biggest helpers in my transition into this role and throughout the entire year. To Spencer Nusbaum, who has been such a loyal and reliable friend. To Pablo Molina Asensi and Ben Morse for always making me laugh. To Dan Papscun and Isabella Goodman, who were some of the first people I felt close to on The Eagle. To Riya Kohli and Kayla Kelly for bringing your visions to our editorial boards and
the opinion section. Carly, Eliza Schloss, Izzy Wolff and Grace Newton for hanging out in the office with me every other Wednesday to talk multimedia and social media. Your passion for The Eagle’s online presence is impressive and so needed. To my roommates and family, who gave me clarity and support when I needed it the most. Kimberly Cataudella, Heather Mongilio, Zach Cohen, Lydia Calitri and Abbie Veitch; thank you for both your friendship and advice as alumni. Rod Wilson and professors Amy Eisman and John Watson, thank you for being the best mentors a student journalist could have. To the staffers who joined The Eagle during my time as EIC and trusted me as an editor, thank you. I am so proud of you and will be the first in line to read your bylines in the coming years. I feel lucky to have gotten to work with so many talented people over the course of my four years at The Eagle — too many to fit in this letter. I can’t wait to see the vision that Nina Heller brings to this organization next year, and for all of you to follow along. Her passion for The Eagle is palpable and she will no doubt strengthen the community that comes with it. I’m excited to announce my transition to a new role — the #1 fan of The Eagle — and I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next move from a group of reporters who are equally as hungry for what’s to come.
Editor-in-Chief 2021-2022 email@example.com
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LIFE 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.
As University solicits donations from alumni, majority of AU students graduate with debt Students across the political divide reflect on freedom of speech amid tense campus climate The rise, fall and rise of the abolish Greek life movement ‘It just didn’t feel real’: Seniors reflect on fundamental college experiences and opportunities lost to the pandemic Chyna Brodie becomes first Black woman to serve a full term as SG president
EL ÁGUILA 18. 19.
AU professor Chris Halsne revisits a racing controversy in ‘The Hit’ When the future looks grim: Young people experience ‘eco-anxiety’ about impending climate crisis Articulating power and process: LGBTQ+ student community use art to express their identities AU’s fashion society Revolution is taking a stylish wist to fostering social change A cappella groups return to campus with a vision for their vocals
40 years since the biggest victory in American University basketball history Meet Megan Gebbia Analysis: Athletes are humans with superhuman expectations Elijah Stephens: A portrait of resilience
Profesores de la facultad de Comunicación sobre la importancia de la diversidad en la sala de redacción Género no binario en español: Estudiantes comparten sus experiencias con una lengua sin género neutro Opinión: El efecto desproporcionado de la deuda estudiantil en la comunidad latina
OPINION 21: 21: 22. 24.
When you put respect to the test, do the changemakers pass? Satire: Building that time forgot discovered on campus Homelessness crisis in DC examined Staff Editorial: AU must reform donation solicitation tactics
theEAGLE April 2022
As University solicits donations from alumni, majority of AU students graduate with debt The University continues to fundraise through alumni and campaigns. by Abigail Pritchard and Phoebe Damsky News Staff Reporters
Impending student debt is a reality for about 60 percent of American University students. The majority of students who are in debt upon graduation owe between $20 and $25,000, according to the Financial Aid Office. About 80 percent of students receive some form of aid. Almost immediately upon graduation, students begin receiving requests for donations from the University. For many, this can feel like a burden, especially when they are still paying off their student debt. “[When] you're 21 or 22-years-old, you're probably not in a position to immediately give back to the school that you just paid a lot of money to,” said Elijah Wolf, who graduated from the Kogod School of Business in 2021. “And I kind of just thought it was a bad look. What are we really doing asking such young kids to donate?” Student debt and high tuition is a widespread problem in the U.S. A New York Times report released in 2017, based on millions of anonymous tax filings and tuition records, showed that while some colleges are economically segregated, others better prepare their students to have upward mobility in income after graduation. The study also revealed that the median family income of a student from AU was $155,300. The highest median family income for students at highly selective private colleges was $277,500 and the lowest was $63,600. AU ranked number 20 among these schools for median family income. AU recently announced a 5 percent yearly tuition increase for the next two years, which, on top of national economic struggles relating to the coronavirus pandemic, makes the school less financially accessible. In May 2021, the average student loan debt per undergraduate student in the U.S. was $31,100 at graduation, according to the Education Data Initiative. This number is up from $27,850 in 2017 when the study was done. As prices and debt have increased over the years, these statistics remain significant. Thirty-six percent of AU students in the bottom fifth of income levels move to the top fifth after graduation. This number is significantly lower than that of other D.C. schools, such as Georgetown University, where this value is 61 percent, and George Washington University, where it is 42 percent. Both the Georgetown and GW student bodies have higher median family incomes than AU. For students at AU, from 2014 to 2018, the fouryear tuition cost about $179,700, according to the archived University catalog. The University does not actively target recent graduates specifically but makes an effort to reach out to everyone, according to Daniel Luperchio, assistant vice president of the Development Office of Development and Alumni Relations. The University benefits most from unrestricted donations from alumni. Approximately 93 percent of alumni do not donate to the University, Luperchio said. “In [fiscal year 2020], AU’s undergraduate alumni giving rate was 5.0%. In [fiscal year 2021], it was 6.6%, exceeding a goal of 6.5%,” Luperchio wrote in an email to The Eagle. “This year’s goal is 7.2% so that we can continue increasing the percentage and
JACOB FISHMAN / THE EAGLE
ultimately reach 8.7% by the end of the ‘Change Can’t Wait’ campaign in June 2024.” Alumni donations make up at least 18 percent of all gifts and pledges AU has received in the Change Can’t Wait campaign, not including donations made by trustees, many of whom are alumni, according to Luperchio. School of Communication alumna Emily Tillett has a specific reason for why she doesn’t donate. “I'm a very active and proud participant in the alumni community for SOC … I feel like me donating my time to SOC is way more beneficial than me donating a couple hundred dollars. I alone cannot finance a new building,” Tillett said. Tillett said that her parents were first contacted to donate to the University during her sophomore year. “I think the tactic in which they approach asking for money needs to be retooled … a lot of people graduate with crippling debt, and think they need to approach this like they do,” Tillett said. “I just think that they should be utilizing the network of folks that are changemakers, not the children who aspire to become changemakers.” Tillett said although she and her husband, also an AU alumnus, donate annually to a School of Public Affairs program that gave him the financial resources to stay in school, she does not frequently donate to the University. Tillett is still paying off her student loans and will be able to do so soon. Many of the University’s grant programs and services to students are funded by alumni donations, even those that do not exceed $10, according to Luperchio. The average gift the University receives has been increasing annually and was $267 in fiscal year 2021. Aside from direct requests from the University, the AU Phonathon is another method that the University uses to secure donations. The program enlists current students to call alumni, according to the Phonathon webpage. Student callers at Phonathon get paid $15.20 per hour to call and ask for donations from alumni. “There are people like my husband, who was a college student trying to decide if he had to move back home or continue going to AU … he paid off $200,000 worth of student loans all by himself,” Tillett said. “So that there are students like that, that are the ones being asked to ask for money for AU is still just very upsetting today.” Phonathon is a non-federal work-study job, how-
ever, exceptions can be made for some students, according to Qudsia Saeed, a sophomore in the School of Education and a Phonathon employee. Saeed echoed Luperchio when she said that even the smallest donations are meaningful. She also said that though asking for money is awkward and challenging at times, receiving an aggressive text has been the worst reaction she has experienced and she still enjoys getting to talk to alumni over the phone who share their stories. Saeed said she has to explain to new student callers that they might encounter tough situations. “I've explained a lot of this to new callers that you're gonna encounter situations where people don't want to talk to you [because] they didn't get the best career placement,” Saeed said. “People would love to talk to you, but then it's gonna get awkward because they don't have the money.” Natasha LaChac, a junior in SOC and SPA is a supervisor at Phonathon. She said that Phonathon has been overall a positive experience. “So while student debt is a big, big issue, and I definitely do see that frustration, people think that Phonathon does a pretty good job for what we do,” LaChac said. Some student callers, including Saeed, have their full tuition compensated for by the University, while others, like LaChac, are experiencing debt themself as they call alumni to garner donations. Saeed said that though she questions the ethics of what she is doing by calling for money from people who might be in debt, she knows the donations made are often going to better the education of current students. While AU relies only on small gifts from alumni to fund its programs, the fact remains that students who work for Phonathon ask a pool of all alumni for donations regularly. “I get we all have to make money at the end of the day and I understand President Burwell is doing her very best and she gets it as a former policy person,” Tillett said. “But we should approach it from a gifts place of you know, like … the MoMA, who have designated staff of these people who run these gifts departments asking for money, not the poor 18 year olds who just want to get a college education.” firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
theEAGLE April 2022
Students across the political divide reflect on freedom of speech amid tense campus climate Liberal, conservative students on when freedom of speech matters most by Zoë Bell and Abigail Turner News Staff Reporters
Abby Daniels is used to her peers’ scoffs when she expresses an opinion in class; she is well aware that a majority of the student body at American University disagrees with what she has to say. Daniels, a senior in the School of Public Affairs, is the president of the Network of Enlightened Women at AU, an organization intended to empower politically conservative women. Legally, the First Amendment of the Constitution protects freedom of speech on college campuses. SPA professor Lara Schwartz, director of the Project on Civil Discourse, calls this campus free speech “protected speech,” as viewpoints cannot be discriminated against. Schwartz said she is a proponent of free speech regardless of one’s political leanings. The Project on Civil Discourse advocates for the understanding of speech as more than just legal protections and is currently studying free speech culture at AU. The project aims to provide students a space to listen and be heard by offering facilitated discussions on various political topics. “I believe in free speech because I don't think that when you give the power to punish and censor to people it ever works out well for justice,” Schwartz said. While free speech does have these legal protections, there are also informal factors that influence the environment of free speech. Schwartz and members of the Project on Civil Discourse said free speech, especially on college campuses, is also about the responsibilities, values and opportunities that come along with it. “It’s important to understand something about the people that we're in community with and the concerns that they have so that when we're talking to one another and listening to one another, we're seeing where they're coming from,” Schwartz said. Yet, some students say they have not seen the informal side of free speech supported. “Rather than engage in good faith conversations or in positive dialogues, people would rather just shout out the things that they hear that they know to be true, or they think are true,” said Austin Harrison, vice president of AU College Republicans. If students on a campus do not practice the informal side of supporting free speech, Schwartz said it could lead to self-censorship. Some students said they choose not to speak up in class because they expect their views to be discredited. “I don't even bring up my own point of view because the person before me was just bashing it,” said Noah Burke, the president of AUCR. “It becomes tiring to just consistently have to back up your viewpoints. Not just arguing for your point, but, like, arguing for it being valid reasoning.” The fear of speaking out can stifle civil discourse on campus. Daniels said she feels a sense of pressure from the left-leaning majority at AU. “There’s this inclination to keep your mouth shut because as a conservative, that’s the vibe that we get in a lot of these conversations, and it’s unfortunate,” Daniels said. She added that although she feels there
are social pressures that accompany her political views, she has never experienced direct hostility. On the other side of the political spectrum, some left-leaning students at AU say their beliefs have both been supported and challenged in the classroom and with fellow students. “As an individual, I've had experiences on campus and people also being supportive, but just as much as people being dismissive,” said Eduarda Serafim, a senior in School of International Service and president of the Young Democratic Socialists of America at AU. Whitney Powers, a junior in SPA and president of AU College Democrats, said members of the club debated AUCR years ago, but current members are “adamantly against” the idea now. She said she feels that the AU student body upholds the values of free speech in campus discourse. One political controversy occurred in October 2021, when the AUCR hosted U.S. Rep. Chip Roy as the first installment of their Congressional Series of the year. The event drew attention from students because of Roy's use of language on the House floor in 2021 that celebrated lynching. “It’s just some stances, especially with AUCR bringing in Chip Roy last semester,” Powers said. “That was really a big, big point for a lot of our members that we’re not going to work with someone who’s pro-lynching. I think that’s where that line was drawn.” Harsha Mudaliar, a senior in SPA and program coordinator for the Project on Civil Discourse, said if students do not speak up in class because of possible conflict, it can impact the civil discourse on campus as diverse viewpoints will not be discussed. “It’s helpful to have a space where you’re allowed to question that or say that you’re not sure about something, and sit there and listen to others and see what they have to say,” Mudaliar said. Led by Mudaliar, members of the Project on Civil Discourse are researching how and why AU students
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may choose to hold back from participating in class and what specific factors may be inhibiting them. “We want to develop a guide that tells AU what they can do to help students feel more comfortable speaking, and that’ll be based on student perspectives as well as their own perspectives and observations,” Mudaliar said. “Hopefully it’ll be something the University can put into practice.” But with the informal responsibilities that come with the freedom of speech, there are ways students can help support civil discourse on campus. One way to do so is to listen to understand rather than rebut during discussion, Schwartz said. “You're going to listen with the assumption that the person is trying to make themselves clear. Not coming from a bad place,” Schwartz said. Serafirm said she wants to see a speech culture at AU that doesn’t have “black and white beliefs,” where there is always a right and a wrong. “I think it'd be nice to have a culture to be like okay, we have different opinions, like I can disagree with that and I can rephrase my disagreements with it, but not phrasing in a way this is incorrect,” Serafim said. With this, students say they want a better culture around speech on campus that fosters this discourse. “I would like to see a culture where we care about each other, not just what each other thinks, what our opinions are on certain things, because that matters,” Harrison said. “But what matters more is that we just care about each other on a fundamental level, right, that we want to see the best for each other.” firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
theEAGLE April 2022
The rise, fall and rise of the abolish Greek life movement
Underclassmen who arrived after summer 2020 are hoping to flip the script on Greek life by Kate Corliss Campus Life Editor
As Greek organizations resume their in-person operations this semester with familiar traditions like tabling on the quad and organizing fundraisers, the movement to abolish Greek life has also made a comeback. A spring 2022 student government referendum found that 46 percent of voting students do not support the presence of social Greek life on campus — 41 percent do — the conversation about the future of Greek organizations is back in the forefront. It’s a sight that might not be familiar for underclassmen students who were not yet part of American University community when controversy about the institution’s place on campus peaked over the summer of 2020.
The revived movement to abolish social Greek life on campus In February, a new account called @abolishgreeklifeatau began posting anonymous accounts of discrimination and violence in Greek life. Its leadership is composed entirely of sophomores, including Abby Sharkis of the School of Public Affairs, Isabella Paracca of the College of Arts and Sciences, Parthav Easwar of SPA and CAS and Olivia O’Connor of CAS. Sharkis said she thinks members of the Class of 2024 are in a “unique” position as far as the Greek life debate because their entry into the University coincided with the isolating nature of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd. “You have people who are really adamant about wanting to have this normal college experience — that’s really what people are seeking out here … a lot of people are turning to Greek life for that, and I think what a lot of people don’t realize about that is Greek life is really tied into institutional racism,” Sharkis said. “And a lot of people on this campus claim to care about Black Lives Matter and care about ending racism and AU does pride itself on being a so-called anti-racist community.” According to Sharkis, the coronavirus pandemic also presented barriers to impactful in-person activism surrounding the issue of Greek life, which she feels might have hindered underclassmen’s
ability to even recognize the Abolish movement at all. “From any activism mobilization perspective, like in-person protest, we weren’t on campus at the height of Abolish Greek life, so it really wasn’t able to come to its fullest point had it been two years ago when the conversation started happening and people could have done demonstrations on the quad,” Sharkis said. “It was really just like a lot of people posting on their Instagram stories because that was all there was to do.”
We’re not interested in reform. We’re interested in abolition.
- Abby Sharkis The group advocates for the replacement of Greek organizations with community-based housing programs, similar to ones that already exist at universities like Harvard and Yale, to give students more opportunities to establish friendships within their residence halls. “A lot of the feedback that I’d heard from people was that people tend to turn to Greek life because American University is severely lacking in community building, and people come here and they don’t feel like they found their people and so they turn to Greek life as a r e s u l t ,” Easwar said.
Sharkis said although the group does not want to demonize students who are affiliated with Greek organizations, it is focused on informing the University community on what Sharkis called “a lack of education surrounding Greek life origins and the ways in which Greek life perpetuates racism, among other things.” “We don’t fault individuals seeking [community through Greek life],” Sharkis said. “It’s more the way that AU and Greek life as a national institution capitalizes off people’s need for community and want for a social circle and does some really gross and oppressive things around it.” Sharkis noted 2020 was the first year that no hazing-related deaths were reported in the U.S. since 1959, a statistic attributed to the lack of in-person Greek life presence as a result of the pandemic. Two deaths tied to hazing-related alcohol intoxication were reported in 2021 as more campuses resumed in-person operations in 2021: 19-year-old Adam Oakes of Virginia Commonwealth University and 20-year-old Stone Foltz of Bowling Green University. In 2018, AU’s chapter of sorority Chi Omega was suspended from recruiting for the spring and fall of 2018 and the spring of 2019 after being found responsible for “conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person” and hazing.
The same year, fraternity Beta Theta Pi was found responsible for the same violation and additional alcohol violations and was suspended and prohibited from recruiting for the remainder of 2018. “Maybe we’re not having crazy hazing deaths or, like, people choking on their own vomit and dying, but that’s just like the way we don’t have a traditional Greek life setting here,” O’Connor said. “But it’s still a part of an actual racist institution.” The group of Abolish Greek Life activists specified that they are only seeking to eliminate historically white social fraternities and sororities, not affinity or professional Greek organizations. “All of, like, frats for Latinx people, frats for Black people, those were created in response to how racist Greek life was, so those are removed from the actual institution [of social Greek life],” O’Connor said.
History of Greek life controversy at AU The rise of a social media movement calling for the abolition of non-affinity fraternities and sororities at the University led to mass member disaffiliations and ultimately chapter disbandments in summer 2020. Instagram accounts featuring anonymous submissions about experiences with racism, sexual abuse, hazing and other forms of discrimination and violence in Greek life gained traction, including @blackatamericanuniversity, @exposingauabusers and @exposingaufratsandsrats. The Instagram accounts that prompted the backlash of summer 2020 and subsequent reform efforts ceased activity shortly before the beginning of the fall 2020 semester, when fully remote operations were initially announced. According to the Center for Student Involvement’s spring 2020 academic report, there were a total of 1,519 students enrolled in Fraternity and Sorority Life at the University. This figure dropped by more than 40 percent in fall 2020, following the rise of the Abolish Greek Life movement on social media as well as the University’s announcement of fully remote operations for the semester. In spring 2021, enrollment
theEAGLE April 2022 crept up to 714 and then declined again in fall 2021, when it dipped to 582 students. According to Interfraternity Council President and CAS junior Ryan Brewer, Greek life enrollment “dropped off very heavily” in the wake of this backlash. As a result, IFC has struggled to fill leadership positions, with only two elected members — including Brewer — currently serving on the council at the time of print publication. “I think there were some concerns over publicity,” Brewer said. “Some people wanted to be a part of IFC but did not want to broadcast that they were part of a Greek organization if that makes sense, or really be under the spotlight.” Brewer also said he believes that the pandemic has played a role in declining IFC enrollment as Greek organizations, like the rest of clubs at AU, resorted to engaging members virtually. Nadir McCoy, the University’s FSL coordinator, believes that a number of current events have posed challenges for students involved with Greek life. “In 2020, we experienced the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Abolish Greek Life, Exposing AU Abusers, US Elections and all of this together was taxing,” McCoy wrote in an email to The Eagle. “Chapters and their leaders had more than the average student to navigate because so much had been compounded on them at the same time.” In response to these circumstances, McCoy said that Greek org an i z at i ons have made a conscious effort to reduce the impact of their activities at the University. “Overall, the community has been more reserved in both their pro g r a m m i n g and presence on AU’s campus,” McCoy wrote. In January 2021, IFC released an immediate reform plan “to assist in increasing
accountability and promote safe practices within the IFC.” The plan included new guidelines for handling alleged conduct violations, the creation of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and a new member development position. The immediate reform plan indicated that IFC members were actively working on a long-term reform plan to outline more comprehensive steps for improving its internal operations, which was officially released that April. The long-term reform plan established more specific processes for reform to mitigate discrimination and sexual misconduct violations, including social event risk management programs, mandatory Title IX and bystander intervention trainings and an accountability policy that would refer chapters to a judicial board if they failed to meet the new requirements outlined. At the time of its release, the plan faced criticism from some students, who expressed concern over the logistics of its enforcement and its ability to comprehensively address sensitive issues like sexual assault and discrimination. Brewer said that difficulties with filling leadership roles have contributed to the fact that implementation of the plan “largely has not happened over the past semester.” “That’s something that I think anybody on IFC, including our leadership, will admit — it just has not happened, but that’s not a product of us not wanting to,” Brewer said. “It’s been a product of us just not being able to.” The plan detailed specific responsibilities for each leadership position, with members serving in those roles having designated schedules for meeting with various campus stakeholders like representatives from the Health Promotion and Advocacy Center, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and the Equity and Title IX Office. According to Brewer, IFC’s limited number of members has rendered these plans virtually impossible to implement, as many of these roles are not filled currently. “There’s specific things
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implemented for each role and they are all kind of interlocking so … it’s really, really tough to get working on those,” Brewer said.
Overall, the community has been more reserved in both their programming and presence on AU’s campus. - Nadir McCoy
The future of Greek life Brewer said that, while he participates in Greek life, he does not think that the goals of the Abolish Greek Life movement and reformers within Greek organizations “are necessarily unaligned.” “No one’s trying to sweep these issues under the rug,” Brewer said. “I think they’ve been attacked headon, I think a lot of people are trying to make the right changes, I think a lot of people are pushing for higher amounts of accountability, better programming and just a better all-around approach to Greek life to make it a better part of the AU community and eliminate those dark sides of it.” The group of Abolish Greek Life activists said that they do not believe support for Greek life can coexist with their movement. “We’re not interested in reform,” Sharkis said. “We’re interested in abolition.” Members of Abolish Greek Life worked with the Student Government Undergraduate Senate to put two referendums gauging student opinion on Greek life at the University on the ballot during the spring 2022 SG executive board election. One referendum asked students whether they support the presence of social Greek life on campus, to which 46 percent of voting students
answered “no.” The second referendum asked whether students want alternative means of community-building outside of social Greek life, to which 73 percent of voters answered “yes.” According to previous reporting conducted by The Eagle on the spring 2022 Greek life referendums, members of Abolish Greek Life decided to work with the Undergraduate Senate to put these questions on the ballot as a means of connecting with the student body because they have been unable to gain official club status from the University. In a statement to The Eagle after the referendum results were announced, CSI Director Ayana Wilson wrote that Abolish Greek Life members were told that CSI “would not recognize any club whose goal was to abolish another student involvement opportunity on campus (ex. abolish AUSG, abolish Student Media).” McCoy also suggested that students seeking community who are not interested in participating in Greek life explore other avenues for campus involvement. “There are over 200 clubs and organizations on American’s campus representing all sorts of organizations social and non-social for students to get involved in,” McCoy wrote. “In addition, each semester any student can submit for new clubs/ organizations to be recognized via Engage by following the proper process.” Acknowledging the controversy surrounding Greek life, Brewer said that one of his goals as IFC president is “to push for more open communication with the community.” “I would really advocate for… anyone involved in the community, really, if they had anything they want to talk about, any ideas, anything under that umbrella whether they wanted to lodge a complaint, wanted to tell us where we could do better, where we maybe are doing better, anything like that,” Brewer said. “Reach out to whoever is on the board at that time. That is the only way we can grow as a community.” firstname.lastname@example.org
theEAGLE April 2022
‘It just didn't feel real’: Seniors reflect on fundamental college experiences and opportunities lost to the pandemic You are viewing The Eagle’s screen.
In spring 2020, American University students were away vacationing on spring break when they suddenly found out about the shift to online learning. All classes were to be conducted over Zoom indefinitely, and students were expected to immediately vacate campus. As current seniors reflect on their time at AU, they shared the losses and unique experiences of having a majority of their college experiences interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. “There’s a reason that universities are in person in the first place, and there’s a reason that you live on campus and you have all of these resources available,” said Ariel Krysmalski, a senior in the School of International Service. “One of the big things is, it just didn’t feel real. The entire sort of college experience and my classes just didn’t feel real.” While many seniors agreed with the University’s decision in the spring of 2020 to move online, they also felt that their education and wellbeing suffered under virtual learning. Krysmalski struggled with the online format and decided after experiencing the initial shift to virtual learning in the spring 2020 semester to only enroll part-time for the 2020-2021 academic year. Yet even under part-time enrollment, he found his courses to be difficult. “I would say I’m generally a fairly good student. I had made the Dean’s List the semester before all my classes [went online],” Krysmalski said. “Then I failed Chinese class the fall semester of last year and then I failed Philosophy spring semester of last year.” Krysmalski ended up retaking and passing both of these classes when he returned to campus for the fall 2021 semester, but retaking these courses in addition to only enrolling part-time last year delayed his graduation by a semester. For some majors and fields of study, the move to online learning did not translate well for their courses. Sofia Husainy, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in neuroscience, felt that her science classes and labs did not adapt well to an online format. “A lot of the information doesn’t translate well through Zoom and my labs were not labs,” Husainy said. “They were a joke.” For Husainy, her struggle with her online classes took a toll on her mental health, and she lost motivation to even be on Zoom. Being online meant her grades suffered, she said.
by Isabella Brown
News Staff Reporter “I’ve always had clinical depression and a general anxiety disorder, it’s just I never did anything about it and the pandemic and the school situation, it really brought that out,” Husainy said. For some students, like Rae Puterbaugh, a senior in the School of Communication, classes last year did not pose as much of a challenge, but still had long-term consequences. “I think that the quality of education, it was easier last semester, but it was easier because our education was suffering because of it,” Puterbaugh said. “I feel like I didn’t really learn anything during the pandemic. I feel like I was just going through the motions of learning.” Krysmalski, like other students, found motivating himself during virtual learning last year to be particularly difficult. He said he would go to Don Myers Technology and Innovation building to study and stay there overnight when they locked the building, eating food from the vending machines. “But I just had a really hard time motivating myself and I had a hard time learning in general even though I was only part-time,” Krysmalski said. Krysmalski also felt that he missed out on the typical experiences offered to upperclassmen by the University because of the pandemic. As an SIS student, he hoped to study abroad in Central America but didn’t get the chance to. He was also hoping to participate in an internship but struggled with applying for any during his junior year online. “I really didn’t want to get an internship that was also going to be online in addition to all my other stuff that’s online because I thought I’d do badly at that too,” Krysmalski said. “It’d just be another thing that would be hard for me.” Krysmalski did apply to a few online, government-related internships. However, he said that these internships were overloaded with applicants, which made internships increasingly competitive and difficult to attain. “Instead of competing with people from the DMV, which is what would usually happen for that kind of internship, all of a sudden I was competing with anyone who wanted to apply online,” Krysmalski said. Interaction with the AU community is also something that seniors felt they were deprived of during the pandemic. “I feel like I missed out on half of what I
shouldatempor have been experiencing in college, ” Putersequibe eperibus explige ntiatur epudae baugh said. “I feel like my personal on-campus di cusam nam invelen daeratas et et dolorent laut ex like meeting new enihit peopleasped everyquiam day, seeadperience, quosam idus eum doloreh ing all my friends on campus and everything, befaceata quisit magnam quas que num voluptatenem ing a part of the AU community, that was kind of illupis nus. robbed from us. ” Ur rehent ut exeritibus accatem solorrum, te nos Husainy felt similarly. dolorepere, nobis mos apitius nobit, vel explic temos “Being in college, a huge part of is you rere, exeribus dusanimusam nimodia quithat quatur? ally learn about yourself in your interactions Us volorerit voluptaque nobis as acil et odit, santwith people, being in classrooms, being clubs, eliaes dolum, sundellorum dis et in exinent optisbeing imet on campus, ” Husainy said. “And not being able to maximus apelia duciist iorendel intionseque dolori have that, you of really that part. volupicta sint mi,kind asped eos ealose et quist, ates ”eumIn particular, Husainy said that her extracurquos sitatest harupta nobit vent. ricular activities suffered last year. Husainy is a Fugit fugia ad eum rerae quati autem re etur? Quis member of AU in Motion and was the president ducilis magniminciae doluptibus am nusdam do- of American University Rotaract, a community serluptat maiorro rehentu rerit, comnia alibus ape sum vice and professional development organization fugiant atur modis ut ute nam deriam, ipis dolor on campus. While AU in ditasitione Motion was able to pull asperia conseque il magnis nonsequo et off several virtual performances last year, Rotaract quid quat. has not been active. Officiissit, adiasasdolupicime conseca boriae voluptus, “The pandemic really destroyed that club, so voluptatur? onnusa reviving it,” Husainy said.int auAtwe’re officilworking istiis non andanditas velecum Despite the hardships of virtual learning, many tecto tatiassim nobitat eceati aute pro ipiciis reriam, seniors feel that AU has had a good overall offictatur rempori orectot aectia accullupti dolest response to COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. dolectem quis restrum quam qui nulparc hilluptatet Puterbaugh praised the University’s response to vendae estemo blacerum vent dolorib usdaeptae masking and the on-campus testing porenda errunt voluptatium fuga. Nemclinic as seque However, Puterbaugh and Krysmalski didn’t coreici cus autem sequam hillitat. feel that the quality of their education was reflectTotatem. Niste sam iscil in coresto tatatur si sitate edsum accurately the tuition charged,faciur? despite there qui facidig in nitatur minveliquam Uptium being a 10 percent discount on tuition last year, inulparum ra doluptaquo bea qui coruptate dolut lit and that tuition should’ve been further lowered. facepud andam, sum sequam ut perum rem fugitis said she understood that there were etPuterbaugh velibus. University financial losses, college students exUm cus. Untiores ullest utatisbut erfersp erovid quiam perienced losses as well. facessi beris ut fugia ipit etur? Tem repellu ptatemo Husainy said resequid it was hard for upperclassdiaerum coremalso hillabo moluptas consect men to be held to the same academic standards urerum exerio. Et eossi derciusae. Et aut verae omniof in-person learning during virtual learning taturent aut venima aut mo erum el modic te cusand to meet the University’s high expectations of upperclassmen. “With this pandemic and with AU being a very naturally competitive and rigorous school, it put a ton of pressure on upperclassmen,” Husainy said. “So it was just I think very very difficult for us because I feel like a lot of people probably lost sight in wanting to go to school and wanting to further their education for their own personal growth.” email@example.com IZZY FANTINI / THE EAGLE
theEAGLE April 2022
Chyna Brodie becomes first Black woman to serve a full term as SG president by Vera Tsang Student Government Beat Reporter
When Chyna Brodie finishes her term as American University Student Government President, she will be the first Black woman to serve a full term in the role, and the second to be elected. Brodie, a junior in the School of Public Affairs, ran on addressing concerns students had been expressing for years. “I hate things that are performative, and I wanted to make sure I followed along with my promises,” Brodie said. With greater advocacy for international students, bringing back the yearbook, granting students free access to all events and raising $2,000 for AU’s dining staff, Brodie said she feels successful with her presidency overall. “Chyna is the most ambitious person I’ve ever met,” said Jadyn Newman, Brodie’s chief of staff and a junior in the School of Communication and SPA. “My job is mostly to assist Chyna, and it’s nice to make sure that she is not overworked.” Although the pandemic brought about challenges, it also brought about opportunities for Brodie to think outside of the box. For example, when the spring 2022 semester began online, it gave Brodie and her staff a month to figure out what students were demanding and how to meet those needs until the month was over. “It was a unique opportunity to build a group of students online but also support each other online,” Brodie said. “It also gave time to figure out what students needed.” Completing this term means she will be the first Black female SG president to do so. Taylor Dumpson, the first female Black president of SG,
resigned from her position after hate crimes that occurred on her first day in office. “The AU Dumpson was a part of is very different from the AU now,” Brodie said. She referenced that when Dumpson won her presidency, it was also when the country itself was in an unstable position with the recent election of Donald Trump in 2016. “Looking at Dumpson, you recognize that as a Black woman, you’re always being watched. There is always someone looking for something [to criticize].” Identity was a huge concern for Brodie and her staff, Newman said. “I’m also a Black woman, so I know the complex identity at AU,” Newman said. “Will we be taken seriously, will there be the same level of respect? How do we make sure she is taken seriously and treated fairly?” During the course of Brodie’s presidential reelection campaign she faced two SG Judicial Board inquiries for alleged campaign violations, one of which resulted in her suspension from her role as SG president for one week. Brodie won the recent presidential election and will serve a second term during her senior year. Amid the ongoing judicial board investigation, the election was first decertified by the Undergraduate Senate and then certified after the Center for Student Involvement overturned the move. Brodie referenced this in a statement following the recent decertification of the SG presidential elections on March 30. “Existing as a Black woman means I’m not granted the same grace my white peers may receive,” she wrote in a statement to The Eagle. “It means being scrutinized, investigated, and ridiculed.”
PHOTO COURTESY OF CHYNA BRODIE
Still, Brodie said her identity has been far from a setback. Brodie worked to fulfill her promise of uplifting the voices of students of color. For example, Brodie increased advocacy and funding towards BIPOC affinity groups and events, and reframed Founders Week to spotlight multicultural organizations on campus. With the sense of empowerment, however, also comes the sense of liability. Brodie said she hopes that people also learn that you “can still be ‘you’ in any role you’re elected to.” “It’s so powerful,” Brodie said, in describing her experience as a Black woman at a predominantly white institution. “I love being a Black woman, I wouldn’t change it for the world. They don’t say Black girl magic for nothing.” firstname.lastname@example.org
AU professor Chris Halsne revisits a racing controversy in ‘The Hit’ by Tristan Au Managing Editor for Life
Surrounded by applause in a small theater, American University professor Chris Halsne looked triumphant and grateful that so many viewers attended the premiere of his new documentary, “The Hit.” Halsne wrote and directed the film, which premiered at the D.C. Independent Film Forum. The film investigates the fatal collision between Kevin Ward Jr., a young, talented sprint car racer, and the vehicle of veteran motorsport racer Tony Stewart. Halsne, an investigative journalist for over three decades, spent three years reinvestigating a case which initially occurred in 2014. During the sprint car race, Stewart bumped Ward Jr., causing him to spin out. After exiting his car and running onto the track, Ward Jr. gestured to Stewart to show his anger but was then suddenly hit by Stewart’s car, fatally injuring him. Stewart was not charged on any counts of manslaughter or homicide, but Halsne’s investigation questions Stewart’s innocence. With a plethora of multimedia credits that range from podcasts to news broadcasts, Halsne sees all of his projects as malleable in form. “The Hit” wasn’t initially conceptualized as a full-length documentary, but after three years of gathering so much material, he said he felt it was necessary.
“It was me morphing with the material that I gathered and the amount of time I thought it was going to take for an audience to fully understand the story that I wanted to tell,” Halsne said. A turning point in Halsne’s investigation came once he obtained the police report of the incident. “We saw how shallow the police investigation was and it made us review everything again,” Halsne said. “The investigative segment was going to be bigger than we had originally planned.” The film then uses videogrammetry — a measurement technology that uses video footage from different angles — to map out the paths of both Stewart’s vehicle and Ward Jr. The results are damning and lead to lingering questions about Stewart’s intent or lack thereof. During the film’s production, Halsne initially struggled with whether his documentary should take an objective approach or lean into a specific narrative. Halsne said that he could not break his journalist habits and tried to show both sides of the story. “I now have the creative freedom to tell just one side, but I just couldn't do it,” Halsne said. “That's why we worked so hard to go find what Tony Stewart said.” But after not hearing from Stewart and his representatives for comments, Halsne’s film couldn’t reach the balance of fairness he was hoping for. “I want to collect everything to be as fair as I
possibly can,” Halsne said. “But if somebody doesn't talk to you, it's hard to give them equal time when they're not participating.” While this may not Halsne’s last film, he isn’t bound to a certain type of media. “The next project doesn't need to be a film,” Halsne said. “But if it turns into that, I thought this experience was a good one for me to expand my knowledge in an area that I wasn't a specialist in. I enjoyed growing as a professional, and I would like to do it again. That’s the short answer.” “The Hit” premiered on March 3 at the DC Independent Film Forum. email@example.com
JACOB FISHMAN / THE EAGLE
theEAGLE April 2022
When the future looks grim: Young people experience ‘eco-anxiety’ about impending climate crisis Professors, students offer perspective on generational climate change response by Mary Kett and Patricia McGee Environment Editor and Life Staff Reporter
After decades of inaction by governments across the globe and countless warnings by climate scientists, people of all ages are feeling discouraged, overwhelmed and hopeless about the future. This particularly impacts young people: a 2021 study from The Lancet found that young people are experiencing high levels of anxiety about climate change and government response to the climate crisis. Magnolia Mead, an American University sophomore in the School of Public Affairs, is an organizer and communications lead at Sunrise Movement AU. Mead recalled how she felt after hearing about the outcomes of the COP26 summit last fall, which brought some countries to agreement but ultimately fell short of many climate activists’ hopes. “I remember literally crying for hours because I just could not believe it,” Mead said. “Even after seeing this inaction over and over again, every time something like that happens, I just feel the immense fear. It’s just terrifying.” Mead, like many others, became a climate organizer because people in her life are facing the immediate effects of climate change. Her family, who lives in Latin America, are no longer able to grow coffee due to the changing climate. Oftentimes, Mead said that people ask her why Cherry blossoms bloom on the quad in late February. The traditional season for these trees is late March. she stays hopeful and continues to organize despite PATRICIA MCGEE / THE EAGLE it taking up so much of her free time and the lack of government response. Her answer is simple. for people to have those conversations and explore professor Karen Knee, the glacier unit was the most “Usually people want some flowery answer … but how they’re feeling related to climate change.” “worrying,” Neary said. the answer is literally just, ‘I have to.’ There’s no other Finding a community and acting in a comNeary realized that “our future is in the hands option, it's literally about survival,” Mead said. “There munity can help you feel less alone and like you’re of corporations,” but still has hope that there are are a lot of joyful moments in organizing. It’s a great having a greater impact beyond yourself, accord- “small-scale” individual acts that can benefit the community and everything, but it ing to Lambiase. She also planet. is a lot of work and the reason I do tries to follow Jane Goodall’s Knee emphasizes the importance of sharing posiit is because it’s the only option.” message of thinking globally tive stories related to climate change in her classes. I’ve heard a lot of Sal Cottone, a freshman in the but acting locally. She teaches the 100-level class “Nature of Earth,” so School of International Service, “I, as an individual, can’t many of her students are studying climate change in people say that they is one of the operations leads for necessarily influence things detail for the first time. don’t have anyone Sunrise Movement AU. He said he on a global level and if I tried “I try to provide positive stories of people has experienced climate anxiety to do that, I would absolutely that have made a difference and things that have to talk about climate personally. burn out,” Lambiase said. actually worked to dispel the idea that being really anxiety with, or climate “I didn’t want to have to go Instead, she said she fatalistic or depressed is an appropriate response to change in general. to class and know that there’s a fuworks on the change that this,” Knee said. ture that’s going to be burnt down she can make within her job, Knee also suggested that people take responsibiliin front of our eyes,” Cottone said. family or friends. ty for helping the environment without feeling guilty – Tacy Lambiase “We’re seeing a government that Mead echoed the idea for things out of our control. isn’t doing anything about it.” that talking about climate “I don’t think anyone needs to bear the weight The lack of government action has been one of change with others is the best way to cope with of poor decisions that were made by tons of other the main sources behind Cottone’s climate anxiety. climate anxiety and inspire change. people, but we do have the responsibility to fix the Still, when asked about what he does to combat his “It feels taboo. No one wants to bring it up problem that’s before us right now,” Knee said. “Let climate anxiety, Cottone said he “just keeps fighting.” because no one wants to admit that we’re headed for go of guilt that’s not helping you, focus on things that Tacy Lambiase, the sustainability manager at the catastrophe,” Mead said, noting the hesitancy from you can actually do, whether it's lobbying for a cause AU Office of Sustainability, is a volunteer for Climate her peers at AU to bring up climate change in envi- that’s important to you, switching to a plant based Awakening, an online space for people to discuss ronments like the classroom. “But if you start talking diet, reducing your reliance on fossil fuels … all emotions about climate change. Lambiase has seen about it with other people, you realize that a lot of these things are pretty productive, so channel your people of all age groups from across the word express us are in the same boat. And if you continue to talk efforts that way.” that climate change has massively impacted their about it, you’ll inspire other people to take action mental health. with you, and that’s really what gives me hope.” “I’ve heard a lot of people say that they don’t have Shea Neary, a sophomore in the School of Inter- firstname.lastname@example.org anyone to talk about climate anxiety with, or climate national Service, said it was a Habits of Mind course email@example.com change in general,” Lambiase said. “And so I think it’s that brought climate change to light. important that there are more spaces being created In a class with AU Environmental Science
theEAGLE April 2022
Articulating power and process: LGBTQ+ student community uses art to express their identities
Artists at American University discuss how their art and identity intersect by Kylie Bill and Samantha Myers Life Staff Reporters
on campus has fostered previously unappreciated aspects of her identity. CAS freshman Simon Huynh explained how theater helped him embrace being gay. For him, acting allows experimentation with identity because it’s a rare space where one can literally put themselves in another’s shoes. “You can try on many different hats when you're acting and that can be a way in which to discover different parts of yourself,” Huyhn said. While Klokiw and Huyhn point out how theater is a welcoming space for LGBTQ+ students, many agree that there is work to be done. There is still a disconnect between administration and student artists. “I think more visibility in the arts would be amazing,” Venema said. “We really need more recognition from higher up administration. We try to advertise and promote events, but we can’t do it all on our own. We need assistance.” Karl Kippola, the director of the theater and musical theater program at AU, affirmed that diversity is a priority for the theater department and hopes to cultivate inclusivity through increasing student input. “Prior to the last couple of years, most of the seasons were selected by the faculty directing the productions, but for the last two years we’ve had a season selection committee that also includes students,” Kippola said. “This makes sure the student voice is heard.” And while it is important to uplift the work being done to make theater more representative, students also say the lack of diversity on stage must be acknowledged. “There are hardly any female roles that are queer,
For generations, art has translated and preserved experiences. At American University, many LGBTQ+ students find an intersection between community and art, enabling the exploration of identity. With queer autonomy regularly threatened by anti-LGBTQ legislation, many LGBTQ+ students they create their own power through art. Gretchen, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, has found this power through dance. “As someone who struggles with mental illness, I have a lot of issues doubting myself and believing that I’m worthy,” Venema said. “But when I dance I can feel my own power and know that I already have worth. Power is really important because it reminds me I have agency over my own body.” After coming out as nonbinary during their sophomore year, Venema explored their physical connection to their body through choreographing. Venema did this through AU’s Choreolab, a class where dancers choreograph their own piece. “My Choreolab piece was about gender,” Venema said. “It was titled ‘Beyond the Binary,’ and it was just a great way to see how gender manifests itself in other bodies and compare that to my own body.” Similarly, for CAS freshman Mona Garza, the process of understanding your identity doesn’t stop after coming out. “I realized art was an outlet for me to illustrate my emotions. It became a coping mechanism for me,” Garza said. “I think verbally articulating things is hard sometimes so I would sit down and visualize how I feel.” Oftentimes, LGBTQ+ members aren’t accepted from the communities they were raised in, making college a first opportunity to truly process their identity. Art acts as a vehicle to not only reflect on identity in a safe space, but connect with other LGBTQ+ members going through similar experiences. Sophie Lavender, a freshman in CAS, drew inspiration from other artists in the community when exploring their identity. “I have this book called ‘Lunch Poems’ by Frank O’Hara, which I’ve been carrying since I was in the closet my freshman year. He was such an ‘out’ person in such a horrible time — during the 1950s — which I think is very inspiring,” Lavender said. “When I was very young and closeted I would use writing as a way to connect to things that felt like community in a place where I didn’t have any community.” The AU theater department is one community where LGBTQ+ students can bond over shared experiences and support each other in their journey of self expression. For CAS senior Nicole Klokiw, she first discovered her sexuality through the community built in her high school theater training program. “Acting has always been validating because it was the first time I was in a community with other gay people and queer people and it helped me acclimate to the idea that being bi is normal,” Klokiw said. Klokiw shared her lack of confidence in her bisexuality prior to entering college. Now as a senior, she can reflect on how this epiphany was a validat- JACOB FISHMAN / THE EAGLE ing experience. The prevalent LGBTQ+ community
let alone male [queer] roles,” Klokiw said. Such is true not just in LGBTQ+ representation, but also in gender and racial diversity. “I'm Asian American so that's another aspect to it,” Huyhn said. “My high school was predominantly white so it was definitely something I noticed, but I was used to it. That's definitely an issue, especially when you're doing old productions and some of them will have racism embedded in them in some way and heteronormativity.” For some students, LGBTQ+ erasure is still as prominent of a battle on campus as it is in the rest of the country. Still, art has not only been an escape, but an important documentation of the history and journey to self and societal acceptance. “Frank O’Hara is explicitly queer, which is something I look up to, but also the resilience of closeted artists is worthy too,” Lavender said. “In our art there is an expression of independence and liberation.” According to Venema, one way to amplify marginalized voices is to support the art they create. “Queer art is for everyone,” Venema said. “I want it to help cisgender, heterosexual people understand the queer experience and really empathize and get a glimpse into my life as a queer person. Queer art is not something you should be scared of." firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
theEAGLE April 2022
AU’s fashion society Revolution is taking a stylish twist to fostering social change Promoting diversity through fashion events and creating a community is a goal, members say by Hannah Langenfeld Life Staff Reporter
Clothing plays a major role in people’s lives, but behind the rose-tinted sunglasses, there are systemic issues in the fashion industry such as cultural appropriation and minimal presence of people of color in leadership positions. Fashion is a “top-down” industry that allows for companies and designers in higher places of power to have control over who they do not hire, the standard of labor practices and the designs of their clothing. Simultaneously, the monopolization of this space is reserved for those with money and big names, often excluding local minority-owned businesses. Major fashion houses in recent years have been accused of exploiting styles, motifs and materials from marginalized and religious communities in society without giving credit or context to the original designs and meaning behind them. In 2019, Gucci apologized after having white models wear turbans, a move that prompted backlash from the Sikh community. In 2018, Dolce and Gabbana used Chinese stereotypes in their advertisements for a fashion show that was being put on in China. Prada for promoting a design similar to a 19th-century Blackface character. Yet, there are campaigns and movements founded by people in the industry who want to see these issues change. In July 2020, Teen Vogue launched a “Black in Fashion Council” that represents and fights for the advancement of Black designers. Models also have taken inspiration from the Black Lives Matter movement and incorporated symbols to protest. Indigenous designers are reclaiming their culture by putting out fashion lines that reflect their Native tribe. Model Jeannie Jay Park wore only AAPI and POC-owned fashion brands for a week. On American University’s campus, the struggle to make the fashion world more inclusive is a microcosm of societal discussions. AU’s fashion so-
CARLY JOHNNSON / THE EAGLE
PHOTO COURTESY OF REVOLUTION
ciety, Revolution, is trying to inform people about these flaws and make an impact that speaks to the entire AU student body. On their Instagram page, you can find posts about events like a sustainability fashion panel and conversations with professionals. Their blog coverage has included D.C. Fashion Week and an Instagram photo series, “Quad of the Week” which features AU student outfits. “[We had] guest speaker events where people of color come in and speak about what it's like to be a Black woman in fashion and the roles they have and the difficulties they have as well. It was about educating the public by listening to other people’s experiences,” said Julia Smith, a freshman in the School of Public Affairs and blog writer for Revolution. According to Co-President Natalie Senft, a senior in the Kogod School of Business, Revolution tries to promote social change through events. “We try to make sure we are putting on events that are representative and discuss relevant issues,” Senft said. “I think we need to work more on collaborating with as many other organizations as possible and bringing in those diverse voices.” Still, School of Public Affairs freshman Michayla Harris T. said that the club needs to speak and reach out to voices not heard in dominant society, especially because AU is a predominantly white institution. “Even for me as a Black student, it is hard because people of color are either forced to assimilate or hide away in a little group,” Harris said. “The whole point though is to create a conversation and to promote diversity within it and different types of perspectives from different kinds of people.” When it comes to recruiting new members, CoPresident Rachel Lee, a senior in Kogod, said the club is trying to be “intentional about it and not forceful.” “The whole point of diversity is because you want to uplift voices not because you feel you have to,” Lee said. “So it’s not that we aren’t doing things, we would like recognition for what we have done because of course it's not perfect, but we are trying.” Revolution blog writer Nairobi Toombs, a fresh-
man in Kogod, hopes to see more action from Revolution in uplifting designers on campus and that creativity, as well as using social media to showcase how big the D.C., Maryland and Virginia fashion scene is, and how it is a predominantly Black space. Blackowned businesses are a major part of the retail economy in the DMV area. “Through our articles, we try to uplift everyone,” Toombs said. “We host DEI events to make sure that everyone is included and different voices are heard in our media.” Part of the challenge of expanding Revolution’s scope as a club comes from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the role of the AU Club Council. The club has been trying to shift from an eventsbased club to a community-based one but has run into roadblocks. According to both Lee and Senft, because the club was founded in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, it has been difficult to recruit people. “Natalie and I have had very lofty goals for what we want to be able to do,” Lee said. “AUCC is very chaotic, and I understand we have a lot of hoops to go through … Of course, we could always be doing more but that is the bureaucratic side of AUCC not being able to crank out events fast.” AUCC did not respond to request for comment from The Eagle. One of their ideas was to host inclusive biweekly meetings to discuss the current issues in the fashion industry, Lee said. “I think something that Rachel and I really want to push is inclusion and making sure that people feel welcome in our environment,” Senft said. “When Rachel and I came to AU, we really were looking for a space and we didn’t find fashion at AU. We just hope everyone feels welcome and not like they have to change who they are or the fashion they are interested in, in order to be part of our organization.” firstname.lastname@example.org
theEAGLE April 2022
A cappella groups return to campus with a vision for their vocals
On the heels of a growing trend, groups work to become more inclusive by Bailey Hobbs, Kendall Thompson, Grace Harman and Sara Winick Life and News Staff Reporters
A cappella has been a part of American University student life for decades. But over the last few years, there has been a growing movement to make a cappella clubs more inclusive for new members. “It’s for the benefit of our community,” said Lauren Sasson, the president of Treble in Paradise and a current senior in the School of Communication and the College of Arts and Sciences. Treble recently expanded its membership from all female members to female and nonbinary. “Internally, it’s been like this for a very long time, it was just making it clear for everybody else,” Sasson said. Fellow AU a cappella groups have undergone similar changes in recent years. “Our group wanted to expand past that binary, and the idea that we are for females,” said Emmy Goyette, a CAS junior and the manager of Pitches Be Trippin’. “We now refer to ourselves as a group for women, nonbinary folks and femme-aligned folks.” These changes not only reflect an increased awareness of the complexities of identity and gender but the newfound role of a cappella and music as a whole in a world with growing comfortability about fluid and expansive gender identities. “We really want to give people a safe community where they can come in and feel like they can be themselves with a group of people who value and care about them,” Goyette said. For Dime a Dozen, a sense of community among all members reigns as a top priority going forward. Unlike other a cappella groups, Dime has always been gender inclusive and accepts male, female and nonbinary members. Though the group has been this way, Dime still works toward dismantling the idea that singing is a gendered activity and incorporates songs that work well for all voices. Dime President Kruttika Gopal, a junior in CAS, said that they’ve always been known as “AU’s premier gender all-inclusive group.”
HALEY DYMEK / THE EAGLE
community on campus. Goals of inclusivity and expansion came with significant setbacks, as the pandemic drastically affected each groups’ operations. TenLi Tunes, like many other student organizations, found it difficult to engage remotely when AU moved online and students were sent home at the Building back community on campus start of the pandemic. “We had a meeting to try and figure out how we Daniel Giles, the president of On A Sensual Note could stay alive because it was still our first year of and a senior in CAS, said OASN has been prioritiz- being a real group,” said Itai Segev, the founder of ing community since returning from the pandemic. TenLi Tunes and a senior in CAS. “We wanted to “Coming out of the pandemic we had a tighter make sure we didn’t lose our name on campus.” knit group of friends with a greater appreciation for Though the pandemic put a halt on recruitment, singing,” Giles said. concerts and in-person rehearsals, Dime and OASN Like its sibling singing groups, OASN is a com- said the pandemic provided a year to grow together munal inclusion group, and accepts both male and and come out stronger on the other side. nonbinary members. “We have definitely come out of the pandemic TenLi Tunes, AU’s newest a cappella group, has stronger," Gopal said. "The fall 2021 semester was aimed to make a similar inclusive space for Jewish the best time for our group as we were much closer students on campus, singing songs in both English to one another." and Hebrew. Giles said that OASN engaged in virtual game “A cappella is always something I’ve been innights, hosted live stream concerts and made sure terested in,” said CAS freshman and TenLi Tunes to check in on everyone’s mental health during their member Robin Kane. “TenLi Tunes also gave me a time apart. Jewish community with people who share a similar “The pandemic made us appreciate what we do culture.” a lot more, we were a new group coming back to For some groups, the coronavirus pandemic campus,” Giles said. “One with a stronger sense of seemed to dash dreams of expanding the a cappella community.”
Following AU’s period of online learning, many a cappella groups rose up with a new sense of purpose after coming back in person. For example, Pitches Be Trippin’ began work on a new EP set to release in May. “We thought, ‘why not?’” Goyette said. “Our first year back in person, why not do something exciting?” For other groups, the focus remains on rebuilding as students return to campus. “We want to see our group grow, whether it is in numbers or community,” said Ash Grinberg, TenLi Tunes’ music director. Dime spoke to hope of this expansion as well: “This year has been a lot of unity on top of the music we make and we hope to finish out a great semester and continue with this energy in the future,” Gopal said. For Treble in Paradise, Sasson said this semester is still a transition. “It has been really amazing for all of us to learn that we will figure it out together,” Sasson said. “I think that’s my main goal; for that energy and that spirit and that passion to keep going.” email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
SPORTS 40 YEARS SINCE THE BIGGEST VICTORY IN American university BASKETBALL HISTORY 14
theEAGLE April 2022
by Andrew Powers Sports Staff Reporter
In 82 years of crosstown play, the American University Eagles have matched up with the Georgetown Hoyas 55 times. Georgetown has won 45 of those matchups. The Hoyas are consistently recognized as one of the nation’s top college basketball programs, producing college and NBA legends like Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutumbo and Allen Iverson. But on Dec. 15, 1982, AU men’s basketball played in a game The Eagle dubbed “The night American University was heard all over America.” December 2022 will mark 40 years since the biggest victory in AU school history. The Eagles upset the nationally ranked and eventually legendary Georgetown team that was headlined by Ewing, one of the greatest centers in basketball history.
Eagles vs. Hoyas: Lopsided rivalry since 1938
the Eagles, Ed Sloane (AU ‘83), AU’s best offensive player, was out of the game with a groin pull. Luckily backup guard Steve Nesmith (AU ‘85) stepped up in Sloane’s absence, scoring 14 points. The Eagles set the pace early. Before the game, Tapscott told his players that “Georgetown is young; they play freshmen and sophomores while we have a more experienced team,” The Eagles relied on that experience to take the fight to the Hoyas, and American was up 39-24 at the half. Mark Nickens (AU ‘85) led the Eagles’ scoring in the half, registering 13 of his total team-high 17 in the first half. Despite this, Georgetown refused to roll over to their little brother on Massachusetts Avenue. By the time the clock reached 3:02 left in the second half, the Hoyas had gone on an 18-2 run to pull the score to 51-50 with American still holding their lead. The game turned from exciting to utterly marvelous when a 5-foot-11-inch Gordon Austin (AU ‘83), who was playing through a thigh injury, yelled “Watch this!” to the AU bench before driving down the lane to make an underhanded scoop over the 7 foot tall Patrick Ewing to put the Eagles up 3. Austin proceeded to get hacked twice, causing both Ewing and fellow Hoya Michael Jackson to foul out of the game with only a few minutes remaining. Georgetown desperately tried to break AU’s tactics by fouling and using a press to poke the ball loose, but the Eagles kept making their free throws. The game was sealed when Juan Jones (AU ‘84) made a free throw with 13 seconds left to put the Eagles up 62-59. Not even a Georgetown jumper to bring it within one was enough, as time expired before anyone even got the chance to inbound the ball. The game finally came to an end, with the Eagles coming out on top, 62-61. Campus took a break from studying for finals to celebrate the victory late on a Wednesday night.
Playing — and losing to — the Hoyas has been a mainstay for AU basketball since the inception of the program. American first took the court against Georgetown in 1938, just 12 years after the Eagles’ basketball program was established. It took AU until 1942 to notch their first win against the crosstown rival. There was a time when American was arguably the better basketball program — in the 1970s there was a five-year stretch where the Eagles went 4-1 against the Hoyas. Soon after, though, Georgetown molded itself into becoming the modern basketball powerhouse it's now known as nationwide. The 1980s were the second-winningest decade in AU basketball history since moving to Division 1 in 1966. This was partly due to Ed Tapscott, a Washington College of Law alumnus who was one of the most successful coaches in the program's history. Campus reaction The 1982-83 season was Tapscott’s first season as head coach of the Eagles. Previously, he had worked The Washington Post reported a campus gone as an assistant under Gary Williams, the Eagles’ “berserk” once news of the game’s result broke. men’s basketball head coach from 1978 through Students flooded Massachusetts Avenue, pound1982 who went on to coach the Maryland Terrapins ing the hoods of passing cars and “screaming and to a national championship in 2002. thrusting index fingers into the night air” to indicate who D.C.’s new #1 college basketball team was. The game “It was the most excitement I’ve seen in my three years here,” then-junior Peter Travis told The WashAmid finals week for both schools, the hoopers ington Post. headed up to the Capital Centre in Landover, MaryFreshly printed box score sheets were tossed land on Dec. 15, 1982 for a Wednesday night match- from windows on campus, sailing down onto passup. Over 9,900 spectators joined them, according to ing students, according to The Washington Post. The The Washington Post. student body was eager to celebrate the school’s bigEagles fans probably expected to lose, as they gest victory, made much sweeter by Georgetown’s had done in the last seven meetings with the Hoyas. national #5 ranking. The 1982-83 Georgetown team had five future NBA “It was sick,” then-junior Ricky Costella told players and went 22-10. To add insult to injury for the Washington Post. “There were fireworks every-
where. Everyone was crowded in front of the gym, going nuts. People were cheering all over campus.”
Legacy The 1982-1983 AU squad was one of the best to grace campus, finishing the season with a 20-10 record that still ranks in the top 10 all-time winning percentages in program history. The team’s roster contained some of the most talented players to ever play for the program, including two of the 11 total players from AU to ever be drafted into the NBA. Mark Nickens went on to be drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks 88th overall in the 1983 NBA draft. He is ninth in all-time points scored and fourth for all-time steals in AU history. Gordon Austin was also drafted in the 1983 NBA draft, going 184th to the Philadelphia 76ers. He was also inducted into the Stafford H. “Pop” Cassell Hall of Fame in 2001 for his achievements on the court as an Eagle. He still holds the school record for most assists in a season and total for a men’s basketball player and #3 for all-time steals. Tapscott was also inducted into the Stafford H. “Pop” Cassell Hall of Fame in 2006 for his achievements as one of AU’s most successful coaches, still holding the third-most wins in AU coaching history. After his time at American, he made the jump to the professional level in 1990. Tapscott played a key role in constructing the 1990s New York Knicks teams, which starred Patrick Ewing, who reached the NBA Finals in 1994 and 1999. He later went on to coach the Washington Wizards in 2007-08 before returning to player development. He now works with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Four years after the upset, following another close game where the Hoyas only edged by on a buzzerbeating 3-pointer, Georgetown coach John Thompson informed AU coach Ed Tapscott they would no longer schedule American for non-conference play, the Post reported. This was Thompson’s final move in a series that would end any sort of local rivalry. Six years prior, in 1979, Thompson shouted things the Associated Press phrased as a “profane tirade” directed toward UMD coach Lefty Driesell. Following this confrontation, Thompson dropped the Terrapins from future schedules. Three years later, he would also stop scheduling games against George Washington. American was the final domino to fall in Georgetown’s refusal to entertain any crosstown rivalries. AU didn’t play Georgetown again until 21 years later in 2007. The Eagles lost. The 2008 matchup turned up the same result, and so has every matchup against the Hoyas since. It has been 40 years since the Eagles last tasted victory against D.C.’s college basketball maestro. email@example.com
theEAGLE April 2022
Meet Megan Gebbia The AU coach is winning games and looking to attract attention across college basketball by Alex Walulik Sports Staff Reporter
You may not know it, but American University’s women’s basketball head coach Megan Gebbia made history twice this season. After breaking the program record for all-time wins as a head coach, Gebbia won the 2021-2022 Patriot League tournament and took the Eagles to the NCAA tournament again. She is the only coach in Eagles history to do so in program history. The Eagles’ season was a byproduct of Gebbia loosening her grip and trusting her team, and her system has created a culture of success. The Eagles have won three of the last seven Patriot League championships and it may have been four of the past seven if the 2020 season hadn’t been shortened. They are 43-17 in conference play over the past four seasons. In an interview with The Eagle, Marist head coach Brian Giorgis was asked about the best X’s and O’s coaches in the game right now. He highlighted former Marist assistant coach Gebbia, whom he had met at a recruiting event in the early 2000s. “She exudes confidence in her ability,” Giorgis said. “And she has a great personality. You just remember she had that look about her.” In 2003, Giorgis said he saw Gebbia at the airport, ran after her and asked her to join his staff at Marist. Gebbia accepted and spent ten years as an assistant coach with the program. Gebbia and Giorgis masterminded nine NCAA Tournament appearances during her time there. “She bought into our system and we had a lot of success with it,” Giorgis said. “We clicked really well. We can basically read each other’s minds.” All this can be seen in the 21-second possession Gebbia manufactured out of a timeout in Bender Arena on Feb. 12 against Boston University. It began with a high-post screen for her point guard, senior Emily Fisher. This drew two defenders out, and her stretch four senior Taylor Brown snuck through toward the basket. This is where the play ends for most teams. Attract multiple defenders on the ball, bounce pass inside, contested layup. But the Eagles are trained to make the extra pass and that is where the artistry kicked in. Ev-
PHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICAN UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS
ery drive, every pass, every rotation was expertly run and the ball eventually wound up back in the hands of Fisher for a mid-range jumper just before the shot clock expired. Plays like these have the college basketball world asking: how does Gebbia get her players to play like this? The answer, Gebbia said, begins with the program’s culture. “Culture is everything for your program,” she said. “You have to have that in order to sustain for the year and your time at the school.” The 49-year-old is in her ninth season at the helm of AU’s women’s basketball team. Gebbia is energetic – she talks the way she coaches – equal parts enthusiastic and collected. And after 25-plus years in college coaching, leads with an effortless amount of enthusiasm and positivity. The 2021-22 team, more than any other in Gebbia’s career, is a manifestation of the coach. “You’re trying to find the niche, the fit and the people like yourself in some ways,” Gebbia said. “I’m a very consistent person in my life and this year’s team is working towards the consistency piece of how they approach games.” Winning-wise, the Eagles have certainly been consistent under Gebbia. They have claimed four Patriot League regular-season titles and three NCAA Tournament appearances since she arrived. She has created a dynasty. AU closed out Boston University late, running in transition and tearing apart the Terriers’ defense, holding onto a 65-52 lead for another hard-fought victory. Gebbia praised her team in the postgame press conference. “I think we have a team full of talented players, and when they’re playing well together we’re a tough team to overcome,” she said. “It’s all about going up to them individually and saying ‘I believe in you’ and
trying to build their confidence. You need to know that the positivity is where they’re gonna find that confidence.” The fact is, if Gebbia and stars Jade Edwards, Brown and Fisher were doing what they’re doing at some acclaimed top-tier program like Duke or the University of Connecticut or Stanford, they’d probably be household names by now. The current AU team will have to show greatness somehow, and the opportunity is there. Since Gebbia was hired, the Eagles have made it to the NCAA Tournament two times, but never advanced to the second round. Could this be the team to finally reach the second round? That would get people’s attention. Gebbia is the latest in a line of women’s basketball coaches to assemble a dynasty in the conference. The 150-win club for Patriot League coaches is a difficult one to get into. It has only a few members among the various head coaches all-time in the conference’s 36-year history. The club also only has two active members in Lehigh’s Sue Troyan and the latest addition — Gebbia. “They are competitive year in and year out and she’s won three times,” said Giorgis, an eight-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. “She’s knowledgeable. She’s enthusiastic. And she has people that believe in what she’s doing.” Maybe it’s time for the college basketball world and beyond to get to know Megan Gebbia. firstname.lastname@example.org
theEAGLE April 2022
Analysis: Athletes are humans with superhuman expectations ‘We have to treat mental health how we treat our physical health’ by Hannah Newlon-Trujillo Sports Staff Columnist
Editor’s Note: This story references substance abuse and suicide. Tyler Skaggs was a talented pitcher with a careerearned run average of 4.41 and a standout in the Los Angeles Angels’ bullpen. Throughout his career, Skaggs was on and off of the injury list. On July 1, 2019, Skaggs died of a drug overdose. An autopsy found drugs and alcohol in his system. Eric Kay, former Los Angeles Angels communications director, was convicted on Feb. 17 in connection with Skaggs’ 2019 overdose. A federal jury found that Kay had supplied Skaggs with the oxycodone, which had been laced with fentanyl. At Kay’s trial, Skaggs’ mother, Debbie Hetman, testified that Skaggs had previously had an issue with opioids before his overdose. Skaggs’ death and struggle with substance abuse, among other athletes, emphasize the need to see athletes as human. Simone Biles was at the center of the sports world’s attention in 2021 when she spoke out about mental health challenges amid the Olympics buzz. Biles, a 32-time Olympic medalist, decided to step back from the women’s gymnastics team final in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Biles decided to prioritize her mental health, an uncommon choice among her fellow athletes. As one of the most influential athletes, Biles’ decision made a remarkable impact on the sports world. “We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day we’re human, too,” Biles told the Associated Press. “So we have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.” Biles’ decision was supported by her teammates and coaches. Sarah Hirshland, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO, offered the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s full support of Biles’ decision. The USA Gymnastics women’s program vice-president also supported Biles’ decision, labeling her “incredibly selfless.” Katie Meyer, a goalkeeper for Stanford University’s Women’s soccer team, died by suicide on March 1. The star goalkeeper’s death once again opened the conversation about student-athlete mental health. Many took to social media to express their support. There are organizations athletes can reach out to in times of need. One of these organizations is Athletes Against Anxiety and Depression. AAAD’s mission statement states: “The Athletes Against Anxiety and Depression Foundation is dedicated to providing resources to anyone that suffers from a mental health battle.” AAAD also strives to provide an inclusive environment where mental health is normalized. “AAAD created a platform where individuals can share stories with no judgment and create a comfortable community where there is no stigma about mental health,” China McCarney, the founder of Athletes Against Anxiety and Depression, said in an interview with The Eagle. “We have to treat mental
JACOB FISHMAN / THE EAGLE
health how we treat our physical health.” Both professional and collegiate athletes are held to unattainable standards. Professional athletes’ livelihood is based on their physical performance. Injuries can have a detrimental impact on an athlete’s mental health, according to the NCAA’s Sport Science Institute. Injuries can also leave athletes feeling alone. Olympic Gold-medalist Picabo Street injured her leg and knee in March 1998. While recovering from her injury Street said she dealt with depression. “I went all the way to rock bottom. I never thought I would ever experience anything like that in my life. It was a combination of the atrophying of my legs, the new scars, and feeling like a caged animal,” Steet told The New York Times. In the age of social media, athletes are finally being able to demonstrate to their fans that they are not superhumans. “It’s been pretty awesome,” McCarney said about the transparency on social media. “A night and day difference and there are more public resources now.” NBA players have started to feel more comfortable speaking about mental health and taking mental
health breaks. Rui Hachimura, a power forward for the Washington Wizards, recently took a five-month break from basketball. The Minnesota Timberwolves’ center, KarlAnthony Towns, lost eight relatives to COVID-19. Towns opened up about how the loss of his family members, one being his mother, impacted his mental health on the Facebook Watch show “Peace of Mind with Taraji.” After losing his mother, Towns said he dealt with survivor’s guilt. Towns admitted that after the death of his mother he did not seek therapy. “And I didn’t want to go to therapy and not be ready to talk. Because then I’m just sitting there, I could bullsh-- my way through anything,” Towns said. “I could give you a sense of feelings, but no feelings.” Towns’ vulnerability about the difficulties of seeking help destigmatized therapy among athletes. While trailblazers like Biles and Hachimura speak up about mental health, progress still has to be made in balancing both the physical and mental health of athletes. email@example.com
theEAGLE April 2022
Elijah Stephens: A portrait of resilience
From Waco to Washington, AU’s freshman phenom is turning heads by Marco Gacina Sports Staff Reporter
Some people are born with the natural height needed to play basketball and others are born with an intrinsic feel for the game that elevates them beyond the competition. On the other hand, some are born with a onein-a-million determination to succeed and can attain greatness despite the obstacles placed in front of them seeming insurmountable. Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues carved out a strong 14year NBA career for himself, during which he was best known for his 10-year stint with the Charlotte Hornets, a team he leads in steals to this day. Why is Bogues’ stealing prowess so noteworthy? Standing at just 5-foot-3-inches, Bogues is the shortest player to ever have played in the NBA. Bogues did not need size, natural skill or athleticism to stake his place in the world of basketball; instead, he worked until he carved out the niche that allowed him the massive success he experienced during his career. “No one knows how big your potential is … when you start,” Bogues once said. Like Bogues, Elijah Stephens was born without the natural size to succeed at the game of basketball. He had to earn his seat at the table every step of the way, from the Waco high school basketball scene to the Adidas AAU circuit to the college recruitment process. “[My coaches] could always go out and find a tall guard that can … do the same thing,” Stephens said with a confident self-awareness. Since he began playing the sport in his backyard with his brother in the second grade, the freshman guard has faced obstacles in his basketball career. Standing at just 5-foot-9-inches, Stephens may be the exact average height of an adult male, but he is the shortest player on the AU basketball team by nearly half a foot and is 10 pounds lighter than the next-lightest player. The average NCAA basketball player stands just below 6-foot-5-inch, meaning Stephens faces an eight-inch vertical limitation when he takes the court. Stephens’ home of Waco, Texas, is also not a basketball recruiting hotspot — only 15 Wacoans play basketball at the collegiate or professional level around the world, Stephens among them. The only active NBA player from Waco is Kenrich Williams, an undrafted fourth-year forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder. But Stephens’ toughest test came while he was in middle school and his mother passed away in a car accident. “That just drove me to want to achieve something with basketball even more,” Stephens said. “It just gave me a spark.” Stephens said he is perfectly aware that his basketball path runs entirely uphill. “I had to put in [twice as much] work, and I had to show that I could do something that nobody else could, whether that be passing, vision, scoring or knowing the game,” he said. “I had to specialize in something that somebody else couldn’t do.” Scoring over 2,000 points in high school and playing for Southern Assault, one of the best AAU programs in the country, Stephens would have been PHOTO COURTESY OF PHILLIP HOFFMAN
on a collision course with one of the top basketball programs in the country had he been taller. Luckily, Stephens’ stature was no deterring factor in AU assistant coach Eddie Jackson’s holistic scouting process: “[Being shorter] is not a knock for me. They’ve been short their whole life,” Jackson said. The way Jackson sees it, height is not important as long as a player is comfortable in his body. When it came time to decide on college, Stephens said it was an easy choice. “American showed the most love,” Stephens said. “We’re more like a family here … they just wanted me for me.” Admiration shines through when Jackson speaks, as the coach doesn't lack compliments for the young guard. “He’s very humble, he’s very easy to get along with,” Jackson said. “He’s a coach’s dream. He’s a very smart player, he picks up things very fast. You tell him once, and he’s trying to implement it right away.” Jackson, who said he watched two dozen of Stephens’ high school games, played a huge role in bringing the guard to AU. “We have a good relationship where we can talk about life, obviously we talk about basketball, we talk about school, dreams and goals and that sort of thing,” Jackson said. When Stephens is on the court for the Eagles, he makes sure his presence is felt. Averaging 6.4 points per game, locking down whoever dares try to score on him and passing with the vision of an NBA veteran, Stephens is already an explosive player with a near-limitless ceiling. “Elijah is a young man who’s developing,” Jackson said. “He’s away from home, and he’s learning on the fly as a freshman playing a whole lot of minutes.” Stephens’ passion is about more than just what’s in front of him. “He’s very goal-oriened, and he’s just an all-around outstanding young man,” said Jackson. Stephens’ ultimate goal in the AU basketball program is an ambitious one: take home a Patriot League championship and appear in the NCAA tournament, a feat AU has not accomplished since 2014. Given his grit and his drive, Eagles fans would be remiss to count out a March Madness appearance before Stephens graduates. “He’s small in stature, but his game is so much bigger than his size,” Jackson said. “We’re comfortable wherever Eli is on the floor.” As his AU basketball career pro-
gresses, only time will tell if Stephens’ jersey will hang in the rafters of Bender Arena or if his natural disadvantages get the best of him for the first time in his life. Given Stephens’ unrelenting work ethic and unparalleled ability to overcome adversity, the former is a far safer bet. firstname.lastname@example.org
theEAGLE April 2022
Profesores de la facultad de Comunicación sobre la importancia de la diversidad en la sala de redacción Profesores latinos discuten los desafíos a los que se enfrentan los periodistas de minorías en una industria en flujo constante
NPR ha implementado nuevas medidas para medir de manera más precisa estos cambios en las diversas etnias que trabajan en este medio. En el año 2020, el El Águila Copy Editor movimiento Black Lives Matter animó a la publicación a promover no solo más diversidad racial en el medio, sino también continuar los esfuerzos para cerrar la brecha de En una época en la que el mundo se ha enfrentado a desigualdad de género en cuanto al acceso a posiciones una pandemia global que ha afectado profundamente a la de liderazgo y por un salario equitativo. industria periodística, la importancia de los periodistas Estos esfuerzos por promover la diversidad vienen culturalmente diversos es más obvia que nunca, explican también del público que se conecta y consume estos profesores de la escuela de comunicación de American medios a diario. Pues muchos han expresado que no se University. sienten del todo representados con los corresponsales o Ante el aumento de la confusión y desinformación el tipo de historias que salen al aire. Entre los oyentes sobre la pandemia, diversos movimientos sociales y o consumidores de los medios se han promovido temas internacionales, los periodistas se han convertido viralmente campañas como #NewsRoomDiversity y en una fuente de información indispensable para el #MoreLatinosInTheNewsroom, en donde millones de público general. Sin embargo, la industria también se ha usuarios de plataformas como Twitter han promovido visto afectada significativamente, ya que se ha triplicado estos hashtags para llegar a más medios y crear el tiempo necesario para producir y publicar una conciencia del problema, demostrando el rol crucial de noticia. La crisis económica, producto de la pandemia, las redes sociales. también ha afectado a los periodistas, con el empleo La presión para diversificar las redacciones y ofrecer en las redacciones de Estados Unidos cayendo en un más oportunidades a periodistas pertenecientes a 26 por ciento, según datos publicados en 2021 por Pew minorías también ha surgido de grupos de afinidad Research. Ante esta escasez de trabajadores dispuestos como la National Association of Hispanic Journalists y a seguir a pesar de la incertidumbre, los periodistas de la National Association of Black Journalists, grupos en orígenes diversos representan una oportunidad para donde se busca promover y celebrar la diversidad de los la industria. Sin embargo, muchos medios limitan las individuos que forman parte de los medios. Estos grupos oportunidades de los periodistas que pertenecen a son importantes para el desarrollo de la conciencia IZZY FANTINI / THE EAGLE minorías. acerca de la diversidad, pues se conversa sobre este Por este motivo, profesores de la facultad de comunicación en American University han compartido presenta una cuestión a considerar cuando la historia y otros temas que son cruciales para el desarrollo de su aproximación a esta cuestión. William Gentile, que el periodista busca cubrir está relacionada con su distintos grupos que con frecuencia no son visibles en periodista residente en SOC, expresa su preocupación nacionalidad, cultura o sistema de creencias, pues se la industria, además de animar a los periodistas a seguir por el hecho de que, en ocasiones las historias teme que la historia entonces pueda parecer subjetiva. haciendo su labor. Patricia Guadalupe, periodista bilingüe y docente relacionadas a la comunidad latinx son asignadas a periodistas que no tienen ningún tipo de vínculo con en el área de periodismo, se opone a la idea de que una email@example.com la comunidad, ya sea por la diferencia en idioma o en persona latina no puede escribir de manera objetiva e general. “Para mi es irresponsable que un medio de imparcial sobre temas que competen a la comunidad comunicación, va a cubrir ese sector de la población sin latina, preguntando“¿Por qué me preguntas a mi representantes de esa población en la sala de redacción cómo una latina si sería objetiva cubriendo noticias en México, pero no preguntas en el medio,” dijo Gentile. lo mismo de otros reporteros Gentile, un periodista bilingüe en otros países?.” Esta falta de y de raíces latinoamericanas que Para mi es irresponsable comprensión del principio de ha cubierto temas relacionados que un medio de la objetividad lleva a muchos con Latinoamérica y el Caribe, reconoce la importancia de que la comunicación, va a cubrir ese corresponsales a verse obligados persona asignada a historias acerca sector de la población sin a rechazar historias sobre la comunidad latina, debido a su de ciertos grupo étnicos sea una representantes de esa cercanía cultural a las personas persona que conozca el idioma, la entrevistadas. cultura y a las personas conectadas población en la sala de En la actualidad, este esfuerzo a la historia. Según Gentile, así es redacción en el medio por promover la diversidad ha como se atiende a una audiencia servido para que los medios de diversa que busca conectar con las – William Gentile comunicación masiva en los historias presentadas, ya que los lectores confiarán en la capacidad de los corresponsales Estados Unidos reflexionen sobre su funcionamiento. latinos, “se debe vivir en carne propia, para poder Entre ellos destacan los esfuerzos de NPR, que desde hace unos años ha estado midiendo con cifras abiertas cubrirlos”, dice Gentile. La objetividad es una cuestión crucial en el al público la diversidad entre sus empleados. En el periodismo. Esto implica que la persona que cubra la año 2019, un 70.9 por ciento de sus empleados eran noticia debe mantenerse objetivo, pues su manera de gente blanca, mientras que un 0.24 por ciento eran pensar o sentir no debe influir en la información que nativos americanos, un 7.7 por ciento eran hispanos o se presenta. Se dan opiniones o se ven los sucesos desde latinos, un 8.7 eran asiáticos y un 9.6 por ciento eran un punto de vista general, para mantener la credibilidad afroamericanos. Si bien es cierto que estos números son bajos, IZZY FANTINI / THE EAGLE del medio y la persona que presenta los datos. Esto by Elena Arango
theEAGLE April 2022
Género no binario en español: Estudiantes comparten sus experiencias con una lengua sin género neutro Estudiantes de español de AU que no se identifican con ninguno de los dos géneros explican cómo se sienten en la aula individualmente si están incómodos con la manera en que me dirijo a ellos,” dijo Isaac. Nael French, une estudiante de la clase de 2023 en la escuela de comunicación, que está liste para su viaje a España este semestre, explica como fue su exEl español es un idioma que utiliza el género periencia en las clases de español de American Uniconstantemente. Esto causa dificultades en ciertos versity. entornos, como en las clases de español en American University, donde tanto estudiantes como profesores deben navegar la necesidad de respetar el género de cada persona en un idioma sin pronombres neutros. “Es muy difícil, porque no quiero asignarle un género incorrecto a mis amigos o a mí misme,” dice Mei Matute, une estudiante de la generación 2025 en la escuela de comunicación que tiene raíces ecuatorianas. “Parece que estamos utilizando un género incorrecto a propósito, porque ya existe un pronombre para la neutralidad de género.” Los estudiantes entrevistados expresaron su preferencia por el pronombre “elle,” cuyo uso ha aumentado recientemente. El uso de la letra “e” en lugar de “o” o “a” en palabras en español es una manera en que la gente que no se identifica como hombre ni como mujer puede referirse a sí mismo. Por ejemplo, “latine” puede sustituir a “latino/a.” Existe un consenso entre los estudiantes no binarios en que “latine” es preferible a “latinx,” un término más común en Estados Unidos, porque suena y funciona mejor en español. Sin embargo, Matute explicó que resulta algo extraño usar “elle” cuando está hablando en español, ya que este pronombre no es ampliamente conocido o utilizado aún. Sin embargo, Matute también aceptó que el uso de palabras como “latine” no es decisión suya. Juliana Martínez, profesora de raíces colombianas que da clases como “Género y Sexualidad en América Latina” en la escuela de artes y ciencias, compartió las estrategias que utiliza para respetar los pronombres neutros en su aula. Explicó que al principio del semestre, les envía a sus estudiantes una encuesta en la que les pide que incluyan sus pronombres. “Mis estudiantes comprenden desde el principio que esta clase es muy inclusiva,” dice Martínez, que también trata de usar palabras sin género, como “bienvenides,” al hablar con sus estudiantes. Martínez cree que el uso de ‘e’ ocurre de manera natural en latinoamérica, y es la opción que mas se acerca a un pronombre sin género en español. “Es como un ‘grammatical loophole','' explicó Martínez, añadiendo que “la cosa más básica que tenemos que expresar es a nosotros mismos. Si alguien le dice a uno que la manera en que se expresa es gramaticalmente incorrecta, no está hablando sobre la gramática. Está diciendo que su manera de ser es incorrecta. Y ese es el problema.” Julia Isaac, profesora de traducción de español en la escuela de artes y ciencias, por otro lado, opina que no es tan sencillo como simplemente utilizar sustitutos a la “a” y la “o” como “x,” “@,” o “e” y genera confusión. Isaac dijo que estas nuevas terminaciones están impuestas desde fuera, y que el cambio de la lengua debe tener lugar naturalmente. “Espero que mis estudiantes me informen
by Sophie Cazares El Águila Reporter
"Trato de situarme en una posición respetuosa,” dice French. “En la clase, la gente se refiere a mí como a una mujer. Simplemente lo acepto, pero en realidad me refiero a mí mismo con el pronombre ‘elle.’” French dice que se sentiría más cómode si los nuevos pronombres estuvieran más normalizados, lo que crearía un espacio para elle en el mundo hispanohablante. Tobi Bluestein, que está en su primer año en la escuela de asuntos públicos, está en una clase de español avanzada. Explica que la situación en la clase “a veces es difícil,” pero también descubrió que puede usar “e” en algunas palabras para hablar de sí misme. Bluestein aún piensa que “todos deben sentirse más cómodos y acostumbrarse al uso de los pronombres no binarios,” y que “probablemente deban ser enseñados en clases de español.” “El cambio ha de ser en la sociedad, no en la lengua,” dice Mei. “Tenemos que hacer el esfuerzo para cambiar.”
Trato de situarme en una posición respetuosa. En la clase, la gente se refiere a mí como a una mujer. Simplemente lo acepto, pero en realidad me refiero a mí mismo con el pronombre ‘elle.’ – Nael French
JACOB FISHMAN / THE EAGLE
theEAGLE April 2022
Opinión: El efecto desproporcionado de la deuda estudiantil en la comunidad latina El sistema crea un ciclo de deuda perpetua que limita el progreso económico de los estudiantes latinos
Las familias latinas con dos adultos con títulos universitarios ganan el 70 por ciento de lo que ganan las familias blancas con el mismo nivel de educación, lo quedemuestra que la respuesta no es tan simple como estudiar más o trabajar más duro.
IZZY FANTINI/THE EAGLE
Nick Blanco El Águila Staff Columnist
La deuda estudiantil es la nube oscura sobre la mayoría de los estudiantes universitarios al decidir a qué institución asistir. La carga financiera es un tema de conversación común dado el efecto negativo que tiene sobre los estudiantes y su futuro. Sin embargo, los nuevos datos de la Agencia de Protección de Préstamos Estudiantiles muestran que la deuda estudiantil afecta desproporcionadamente a la comunidad latina e impulsa la desigualdad económica en todo el país. Un informe publicado por la agencia en 2020 titulado “Deudas Dispares” concluye que la crisis de la deuda estudiantil tiene un costo significativo en las comunidades de color y perpetúa las disparidades raciales. Para empezar, la mediana de riqueza de hogares de raza blanca es diez veces mayor que la de un hogar latino. Esto significa que los estudiantes latinos no pueden responder con el mismo nivel de ingreso familiar para financiar sus estudios. Profundizando en los detalles, el 72 por ciento de los estudiantes latinos obtienen un préstamo para asistir a la universidad, en comparación con el 66 por ciento de los estudiantes blancos. Si bien la diferencia es solo de un seis por ciento, los datos también muestran que 12 años después
de asistir a la universidad, los prestatarios latinos todavía deben el 83 por ciento de sus préstamos en comparación con el 65 por ciento de los prestatarios blancos. Ahí radica la desafortunada dualidad de la situación. Los hogares latinos tienen que pedir prestado más y tienen menos ingresos para pagarlo, creando un ciclo de deuda interminable que mantiene a la comunidad rezagada económicamente. Se podría argumentar que los hogares blancos, en promedio, logran más grados de educación, por lo que tienen más ingresos para pagar los préstamos. La lógica sería que un mayor logro educativo es la solución para las disparidades en la comunidad latina. Sin embargo, los datos muestran que este no es el caso. Las familias latinas con dos adultos con títulos universitarios ganan el 70 por ciento de lo que ganan las familias blancas con el mismo nivel de educación, lo que demuestra que la respuesta no es tan simple como estudiar más o trabajar más duro. Las implicaciones del ciclo de deuda estudiantil al que se enfrenta la comunidad latina determinan dónde van a la universidad, la probabilidad de finalizar sus estudios y su seguridad financiera en el futuro. Una encuesta de estudiantes que no completaron sus títulos universitarios llevada a cabo por UnidosUS
encontró que la comunidad latina es más reacia a las deudas. La investigación concluye que los latinos son más propensos a negarse a acumular deudas, pues temen que endeudarse sea el presagio de la ruina financiera para sus familias. La aversión a la deuda es una de las principales razones por las que se niegan a asistir a la universidad en primer lugar, junto con los costos de transporte y el costo general de la universidad. Esto demuestra aún más el sentimiento de que la comunidad latina se enfrenta a más barreras financieras para ingresar en la universidad que las basadas en el mérito. Pueden inscribirse y terminar sus estudios, pero las disparidades económicas los están frenando. Los préstamos estudiantiles deberían darles la libertad financiera para asistir a la universidad, pero eso los pone de nuevo en un ciclo de deuda aparentemente ineludible. El propósito de esto no es victimizar a la comunidad latina ni demonizar a los hogares no latinos, sino resaltar las desventajas estructurales creadas por el actual sistema de préstamos estudiantiles. En febrero, AU anunció un aumento en el costo de la matrícula en un 5 por ciento en dos años que financiará un aumento del 9 por ciento en la ayuda financiera. Sin embargo, según PrepScolar, el 80 por ciento de los estudiantes en AU reciben asistencia financiera en comparación con el 92 por ciento de la institución privada sin ánimo de lucro promedio. Es decir, una brecha de un 12 por ciento que AU puede y debe priorizar para llegar al mismo nivel de otras universidades. Analizando más a fondo las cifras, AU ofrece dinero de subvención de apoyos externos — dinero que un
estudiante no tiene que devolver — al 72 por ciento de sus estudiantes, 17 por ciento menos que la universidad privada promedio. Sin embargo, los beneficiados por este apoyo reciben $22,609, lo cual es $6,121 más que lo que reciben estudiantes de otras instituciones. La situación de la ayuda financiada por la universidad misma no es muy diferente: un 71 por ciento recibe apoyo en comparación con el 82 por ciento en otras instituciones. Pero, una vez más, los beneficiarios reciben más dólares que el promedio. La idea de darles a menos estudiantes más dinero es un error fundamental en un plan de ayuda financiera, porque se priva a muchos alumnos de recursos para el beneficio de unos pocos. Si bien no estoy diciendo que se dé a todos la misma cantidad de ayuda financiera, creo que el hecho de que AU ofrezca becas a una cantidad significativamente menor de estudiantes que otras instituciones debería analizarse. Si American University se enorgullece de la importancia que le da a la inclusión, entonces debería abrir su programa de ayuda federal para ayudar a más estudiantes, especialmente porque las subvenciones no solo beneficiarán a más solicitantes que forman parte de minorías, sino a toda la comunidad estudiantil. Con el número de solicitantes latinos alcanzando niveles récord, una reestructuración del plan de ayuda financiera actual beneficiará a más estudiantes que necesitan desesperadamente esta ayuda. La ayuda financiera es sólo una solución temporal para el problema de la deuda estudiantil, pero es un paso en la dirección correcta para ayudar a las comunidades que más lo necesitan. firstname.lastname@example.org
theEAGLE April 2022
Opinion: When you put respect to the test, do the changemakers pass? by Anna Gephart Opinion Staff Columnist
American University has dubbed its students as “changemakers.” These students will be leaders in scholarship, learning and community and are driven by values such as integrity and inclusive excellence. But who supports these students, allowing them to achieve these values and goals? And, more importantly, do these changemakers respect those that assist them in making change? AU prides itself on producing students of excellence, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was chancellor of the University in 1934, noted in his speech: “Among the universities of the land American University is yet young; but you have a great future — a great opportunity for initiative, for constructive thinking, for practical idealism and for national service,” Roosevelt said. Many of these students will major in international relations, business and political science — studies that will all train students to be leaders. AU is community and service-oriented and works to train students through academic and career opportunities to be excellent public servants, but the first step to true excellence is respect for everyone, especially those that make it possible for students to achieve these high standards. The staff at AU are vital to the continuation of life here. They are in charge of feeding students, cleaning common areas and classrooms, repairing technical and physical problems, working on the landscape and operating the shuttle buses. University staff make it possible for students to live and learn in a clean and safe environment. Despite the hard work of the staff, they are constantly disrespected by a student body who prides themselves on wanting to change the world. Staff columnist Emily Brignand wrote an opinion article in fall 2021 detailing her experience with students disrespecting staff and lacking in manners. She noted that “after months of getting to know more
on campus by Owen Boice Satire Editor
The following piece is satire and should not be misconstrued for actual reporting. Any resemblance to a student, staff or faculty member is coincidental. Students discovered something on campus more shocking than American University leaders’ salaries: a building time forgot. The Sports Center Annex, which had never been seen by student eyes, houses the AU Abroad office, faculty senate room and professors’ offices who drew the short straw. “I’d never seen that color of teal before in real life,” said sophomore Jasmine Smith, one of three students to discover the building Friday. “When I
people at AU and noticing a pattern of poor manners, it has become nothing but an embarrassment and a disappointment to witness these behaviors being glossed over or tolerated by our community.” This is deeply upsetting to hear and see, considering our student body is praised for their progressiveness and our focus on leadership. Emily is not alone in this, as I have noticed this occurring during my time at AU as well. I have seen students leave their trash on tables when the trash can was next to the door. I have watched students’ eyes roll at the pick up area for food after their name has been called out multiple times. I have heard the groans and murmurs of students complaining about wait times as the staff worked as fast as they could, even though the students know that wait times are not the staff ’s fault. What I have not heard is students thanking those that have worked with the long lines and the upset students. I have felt the sting of students talking back to staff and tasted the bitterness of the air they left behind. All the while, the staff continued to serve, ensuring our safety and attending to our needs. I believe our student body to be capable of more patience and understanding, especially seeing as everyone has had to have more understanding in recent years compared to others, but so far I have not been impressed by this student body. It is also not to say that our student body has no respect for others — professors and leaders in the AU community are often shown respect and even admiration — but it is quite interesting to see how this respect has not translated to respect for the staff that the students interact with every day. Yes, this community does have the privilege of bringing in talent and leaders all across the world so that students can learn from them, but I believe that true learning and true test of character is how students interact with the community they are already a part of and the community they wish to lead. I also know students that have been respectful to the staff. I have seen kindness and manners, and so I do believe that there is hope for our student body to understand the importance of respect for everyone. I
LIA CHIEN / THE EAGLE
know that the students here care for others, or else they would not have chosen this path in life, but I fear for the result of their paths if they continue to act disrespectful towards those that are helping them along their way. This is a community of students who have reached a high academic caliber and chose majors that devote them to public service, yet they treat the people they vow to represent as if they are too beneath them to deserve respect. It is upsetting to see this demographic of students act in such a way and then declare that they are advocates for the people. How can someone lead people with dignity when they don’t view those people as deserving of respect? We are given an incredible opportunity at AU to learn and become leaders in this world and this is our chance to do so. Learning to be respectful is just as important as learning academics in the classroom. We are seen as changemakers and this is our chance to make great change. If we’re going to be public servants or leaders in our industries, we should listen to and be respectful of the public we interact with. email@example.com
Building that time forgot discovered saw the Sports Center Annex’s interior decoration, I immediately knew that no AU student had laid eyes on it since the ‘80s.” The students who discovered the building said they stumbled on it when they tried to visit their American Studies professor’s office. Sophomore Colby Reeves explained he had trouble locating the building at first. “When Professor Martin said her office was in the Sports Center Annex, I didn’t even know what an annex was,” Reeves said. “It took me an hour to find the building on a campus map. At least now I know why students don’t go there: time passed it by years ago.” The building, which is directly behind Bender Arena, is too shabby to be named after the rich alums who had given millions of dollars to the
University, according to AU officials familiar with the situation. “Imagine if the East Quad Building had a child with Gray Hall. That’s the best way to picture the Annex,” said junior Iris Underwood, one of the students who discovered the building, while describing the Sports Center Annex to a friend who had not visited it. “For how old the building is, I’m honestly surprised AU lets professors born in the last half-century work there. It totally throws off the retro vibe.” According to University spokesperson Oliver Richards, departments running low on space in the main academic buildings have reassigned faculty to the Sports Center Annex on an as-needed basis. Common methods for determining which professors to reassign include drawing straws, voting on which colleague is unruliest and arm-wrestling
matches. “We’re so excited for our student scholars who have discovered this historic building on AU’s campus,” Richards said. “In fact, we’re already using this discovery to promote our capital campaign.” At press time, some professors with offices in the Sports Center Annex expressed frustration that students are just finding out about their plight. One professor of writing studies, Eileen Larson, said she longs for the days her office was in Battelle-Tompkins. “Students are just now discovering the Annex exists?” Larson said. “I guess this explains why I haven’t had a single student come to my office hours since spring of ‘06 when I got moved over here.” firstname.lastname@example.org
theEAGLE April 2022
Opinion: Homelessness crisis in DC examined
From marginalization to displacement, the district needs more unity in action by Kayla Kelly, Emily Brignand and PJ Cunningham Managing Editor for Opinion and Opinion Columnists
For the students, politicians and over 20 million tourists that travel, study and conduct business in D.C. each year, the issues of housing and homelessness likely rarely cross their minds. The city’s reputation conjures up images of federal buildings, beautiful museums and important people, largely in line with the city’s history as a seat of policy, economic and academic powers. However, when you look past the rose-colored facades worn by the Beltway’s power brokers, a truer D.C. is revealed. A district where systemic marginalization intersects class and race lines is as integral to the city as tourist hotspots, like the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian museums. D.C. has about 7.2 unhoused individuals per 1,000 persons, a 21 percent increase from the previous year and twice the national average, according to the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness. From the benches outside the Tenleytown Wawa to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, D.C.’s unhoused are overlooked by citizens and American University students alike. The issue of homelessness in D.C. is exacerbated by Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration’s policy regarding homeless encampments, titled “Homeward D.C. 2.0.” These outdoor unhoused communities, often composed of tents and sleeping bags, fall victim to rapid clearings by the administration. This controversial policy practice is more than a threat to the physical safety of the unhoused, as exemplified by a recent incident in which an unhoused man was hospitalized after being injured by a bulldozer picking up the tent he was sleeping in. It dehumanizes the unhoused, as it treats them as an unwanted burden rather than rightful citizens deserving of care and attention. Therefore, the humanity of the district's routinely dehumanized population must be shared to educate, inspire and remind both D.C. civilians and AU students of unhoused humanity.
A look at the history of the housing crisis Homelessness in D.C. has been an evolving matter with destructive practices and policies contributing to racial inequality. Housing, or lack thereof, became the center of attention due to the economic catastrophe that was the Great Depression. To combat the intensifying hardships and struggles, the U.S. Federal Housing Administration was created to make housing more affordable. But it was not a universal application, as the construction of subdivisions for white families was subsidized while African-American neighborhoods were intentionally excluded, a practice known as “redlining.” The post-World War II “white flight” sharpened the difference in the quality of life among different neighborhood communities. It was not until the ‘60s, during the Kennedy Administration, that new programs and affordable housing units were introduced and expanded nationwide. After decade-long increase in homelessness, the Kennedy Administration made the misstep of trying to improve the
welfare of people with mental illness by moving individuals out of institutions and into society. Nevertheless, the lack of proper supervision led to many former patients ending up homeless or imprisoned. The issue was exacerbated when Vietnam War veterans returned and suffered from drug addiction, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. History witnessed the first court involvement when the Supreme Court struck down many state measures that criminalized vagrancy with absurd requirements for welfare. Mitch Snyder, then a prominent figure in the Community for Creative Non-Violence, brought the plight of unhoused people to the public’s attention. In 1973, Snyder began working for CCNV; he organized political demonstrations and occupied abandoned buildings to gain more public attention and make homelessness a national issue. The Reagan Administration relinquished much of its responsibilty regarding affordable housing following the economic recession, creeping gentrification and the increase in illegal drug transactions and usage. This left local governments to deal with the issue however they saw fit. During this period, the public realized the government's crucial responsibility to fund social welfare programs. A decrease in government spending for the poor correlates to a decline in the number of affordable housing units available, which leads to an increase in homelessness. Federal support for subsidized housing dropped from $32 billion in 1981 to $7.5 billion in 1988. A turning point for the CCNV was the year 1984, when its members started occupying and operating abandoned federal buildings as shelters. This move gained media attention that pressured President Reagan to provide funds for essential shelter renovations. Efforts by Snyder and other activits’ in the early 90s showed that the housing crisis required more than basic housing needs for people to climb back up. This prompted the Clinton Administration to treat homelessness as a priority. The federal government doubled the budget for homelessness within D.C., pledging $20 million over five years to turn the district's homeless service system into the “Continuum of Care.” This relationship-building program proved that the housing crisis is more than not having a place to live. It focused on long-term care like job training, mental health services and domestic violence counseling. This priority continued during the Bush Administration with the establishment of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which encouraged religious groups to apply federal funding to public service programs. In 2004, D.C. joined a group of cities in launching a 10-year plan to end homelessness: “Homeless No More.” D.C. remains in a struggle as underlying factors — the profuse gentrification and legacy of racial inequality — still impact the current housing crisis and the unhoused population.
Present-day implications The history of homelessness in D.C. brings us to the present-day, where it intertwines with recent developments: the coronavirus pandemic, anti-homeless infrastructure and the clearing of homeless en-
campment communities. When understood in the context of the city’s long and oft-painful history regarding homelessness, these recent intensifiers put D.C.’s unhoused civilians in a precarious, if not downright deadly, position. The average life expectancy of an American unhoused person is nearly 18 years lower than the national average, according to a 2017 study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. This low quality of life for unhoused populations is further exacerbated when extraneous factors are introduced, such as the ongoing pandemic. The pandemic hit D.C.’s unhoused community hard, as it spread quickly through shelters, infecting a community that is disproportionately medically insecure and immunocompromised. Another current obstacle facing D.C.’s unhoused community is the rise of anti-homeless infrastructure called “defensive architecture.” This infrastructure consists of urban infrastructure and spaces that are made deliberately obstructive and uncomfortable for unhoused people who may otherwise sleep or set up on or by it. As highlighted in an October 2021 story by Georgetown University’s newspaper The Hoya, pieces of anti-homeless infrastructure, such as benches with ridges in between to prevent anyone from sleeping on them, were marketed by manufacturers as “anti-vagrant benches,” in case there was any doubt surrounding the purpose of this structure. We sat down with three members of D.C.’s unhoused population in Dupont Circle to get to know them as human beings and explore how policy changes and circumstances had brought them to where they are now.
KAYLA KELLY/THE EAGLE
theEAGLE April 2022 What were your hopes, dreams and ambitions as a kid? Where did you go to school?
MOVING FORWARD AS A UNITED COMMUNITY
Flyth: I went to Cardozo High School. I’ve been trying to find a goal for so long. It’s hard in a world that works against you. It’s hard.
Bruce: Boston College. I wanted to be a sports-
caster and go to Syracuse, but it was too cold. Then, I wanted to be an advertising creative director, but had massive imposter syndrome. But then, I just wanted to be a person that matters in the world. Somehow with me living in D.C., I like to think I’m doing that.
Daniel: I went to school in Pennsylvania. It
was partly a psychiatric ward, a very good one. I didn’t have any dreams as far as I can remember, just wanted to stop getting abused.
Tell me about your experience being homeless.
KAYLA KELLY/THE EAGLE
Flyth: I’ve been homeless for years. People be-
come homeless because people got nowhere to go or to stay at. Our “homes” are all messed up. Some of us just stay up all night.
Have you lived in any encampments or formed any sense of community? If so, what was your experience like and has policing affected your living standards?
Bruce: I lectured and spoke my mind on vari-
Flyth: Yes, It’s hard. You can't go to nobody else,
ous topics, such as destroying capitalism, which started to attract the attention of international organizations. I became locked up for a while because I had this plan to dismantle the system and felt as if capitalism was disempowering to me as a human being. I lost everything after that.
Daniel: I have friends that are homeless for
many different reasons. Some ran away from their family when they were young, some waited until they were 18 and some were founders of a company or a philanthropist and got into financial trouble.
Homelessness is not only a housing issue or an inherent part of our society when there are feasible measures to take and practical ways to be in solidarity with marginalized communities. The homeless crisis will not decrease or disappear simply because it is not visibly in sight of us. While there needs to be more community engagement and federal and local aid to help unhoused people in D.C., it is just as important to support our community directly through smaller individual steps. This action can start with enacting the values of a solidarity economy framework within the community that requires us to mend interpersonal relationships and build new economic practices, such as mutual aid networks. It’s time to become the changemakers that we pride ourselves in.
nobody is trying to help. Because nobody is trying to help you. The police don’t really try to help you. They don't want to help you. I lived my whole life out here. All I understand is how it is out here. Nobody will care. You’re just out there in the world by yourself.
Bruce: Yeah, mainly older, retired veterans that
I speak to on a regular basis. There’s this guy Mike, 74-years-old, who did service in Vietnam and has all these stories that have me in awe. I’m always impressed by him because he sits out here in this maroon North Face coat whether it’s 10 or 50 degrees and I’m in 18 layers of clothing shivering. Community-wise, it feels like a union.
What do you think the government can do to reduce homelessness? Daniel: There’s a lot of huge complexes in D.C.
that are lined up together without people living in them. I think they should start filling them up. Psychological problems in the homeless should be looked after as well and constantly have doctors and nurses check up on you. Instead of owning meaningless buildings, you can have housing where people are looked after and visited.
KAYLA KELLY/THE EAGLE
Kayla Kelly is a junior in the School of Public Affairs and the opinion managing editor for The Eagle. Emily Brignand is a sophomore in the School of International Service and a columnist for The Eagle. PJ Cunningham is a freshman in the School of Public Affairs and a columnist for The Eagle.
Flyth: Give us a place to live in and get us on our feet. Try to get us a job and help us because we’re all outside. Every morning that comes with us still out here, it gets worse.
KAYLA KELLY/THE EAGLE
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theEAGLE April 2022
AU must reform donation solicitation tactics Donation solicitations are essential to any University framework, but AU needs to rethink asking recent grads by The Eagle Editoral Board
All American University students are familiar with its ad campaigns. Whether it’s “Change Can’t Wait” plastered in the East Campus courtyard, or mailers in our parent’s mailboxes, the ads are unavoidable even while attending AU. After graduating, it won’t stop, either. Although a whopping 93 percent of alumni do not donate to the University after graduating, AU sometimes begins asking alumni for donations mere weeks after receiving their diplomas. With 60 percent of students graduating with debt, this practice is uncomfortable and audacious. On March 1, AU announced a 5 percent increase — $3,100 — in undergraduate tuition in 2023 and once again in 2024. They explain that the increase “directly supports our ability to expand institutional financial aid.” However, the average financial aid available per person is only increasing by $1,400 in 2023. For students who need financial aid, and the 60 percent that graduate with debt, these tuition increases are only harmful. Despite the financial burden of college, AU asks students for donations almost immediately following graduation.
It’s also worth noting that President Burwell’s salary increased by $72,580 in 2019, more than 9 percent. For many, college is simply a service. Some students spend over $200,000 on tuition alone. There should be no expectation for students to provide the University with even more money. Especially for students graduating with lingering student loan payments in a national student debt crisis, immediate money solicitations are unwanted. In an interview with The Eagle, the Development Office of Development and Alumni Relations said that they do not target alumni for donations based on income or graduation year. If the University wants to increase its donations and establish a better rapport with its alumni — especially those graduating with debt — maybe it should do just that. Most students graduating from college are not wealthy enough to immediately donate to their alma mater. AU must implement a buffer between when they start asking for donations and when students graduate. Older alumni, who are more likely to have a steady job and income, are much better candidates for potential donations. AU should move away from only asking for monetary donations and instead utilize the “changemakers” it has educated. School of Com-
munication alum Emily Tillett told The Eagle that she dedicates her time, rather than money to AU. Alumni do not have much interaction with undergraduate students at AU. The Eagle Editorial Board believes this is a missed opportunity. The University can retain connections with alumni without pandering to alumni who are still paying off their debt. This could be achieved through more mentorship programs like SOC and the School of International Service’s programs, especially in less popular schools. Alumni could also speak in classes and share their real-world applications of the material at hand. AU should utilize its alumni beyond simple cash donations. Of course, all universities ask for donations and all universities increase tuition. This is not to completely advocate otherwise. Instead, AU should reasses who they are targeting and what they are asking for when reaching out to alumni. It’s saddening to see that AU hasn’t made more of an impact on alumni to warrant a donation. AU must give students a reason to want to donate when they graduate. Perhaps bridging the gap between students and alumni is the first step. firstname.lastname@example.org
CROSSWORD CREATED BY CLARE MULROY / THE EAGLE
SOLUTIONS 13. slap
7. Play by Play 6. mask
DOWN AU's former basketball rival University-made breadwinners Organizers of several on-campus protests Percentage of alum that donated to AU in 2020 Subject of "this change can wait" protest Listen in for an Eagle sports recap New release from former One Direction bandmate
10. as it was
1. 2. 3. 5. 6. 7. 10.
4. 8. 9.
ACROSS Currency with a sense of urgency AU women's basketball NCAA foe Masks accidentally distributed under strict mandate Gen-Z climate panic A new platform for the hosts of The Eagle's film podcast Recent awards show headlines One of the halls getting a facelift in 2023