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A spirit that is not afraid of change After 127 years, The Plainsman will now be an online publication. By EDITORIAL BOARD Spring 2021

On Nov. 7, 1894, Alabama Polytechnic Institute’s two literary societies, the Websterians and the Wirts, joined together to publish the first edition of The Orange and Blue. “With this issue of The Orange and Blue, we launch forth on the uncertain, and often perilous sea of college journalism,” wrote the paper’s first editor-in-chief Jas. A. Duncan. “Let us all pull together with a will and with a heart, and perhaps the day may not be far distant when a greater success than is hoped for in the wildest flights of our imagination shall crown our efforts put forth in this day.” Originally, the paper was only published twice a month and only had four pages, but the editors set out with a bold vision of what it could be. They envisioned a publication that informed the student body and gave students a place to discuss their ideas and criticize their leaders. The original editors opined about how they hoped that one day they would be able to publish on a weekly basis. “A weekly is best of all, but circumstances are not such, we are sory [sic] to say, as to permit us to attempt anything so ‘big,’ as yet,” Duncan wrote. “Would that we could issue a weekly!” But in the ensuing 127 years, the paper and its editors eventually reached that lofty goal. Naturally, that same span of time was also fraught with changes both undertaken by and thrust upon the paper. In 1922, the paper changed its name to The Plainsman. In the 1950s and 2000s the organization moved offices, and in all of the years in between we have had a revolving door of editors, writers, photographers and designers, all of whom have shepherded this organization through the trials and stresses of college journalism. But throughout these changes, the overall goal of this organization has remained steadfast. Every day we do our best to inform the Auburn community about what’s happening around them, to hold local and University officials accountable and to provide a space for students, faculty, staff and community members to voice their concerns

and express their opinions. In 127 years, we have printed everything from columns arguing against segregation to pictures of vigils held after 9/11. We have interviewed mayors and senators, freshmen and seniors. And this past year — like plenty which have come before it — has been one of change. The COVID-19 pandemic, along with its subsequent economic crisis, has put an immense amount of stress on, among many things, local news organizations. We have not been immune. The lack of foot traffic, the overall cost of printing and the general trend of the journalism industry have consistently challenged us to justify our weekly schedule. Now, we have reached a breaking point. So, in following with this organization’s history of change, The Plainsman is announcing that this week’s paper will be our final weekly edition. Going forward, the vast majority of our time and effort will be focused on producing content for our website, our podcasts, our videos, our newsletter and our social media accounts. For years we have resisted this change in order to retain a sense of tradition or comfort. For years we have held out the hope that print media would have its renaissance like vinyl records, scrunchies or the presidency of Jay Gogue. But that day has not come. It’s important to note here that even though this change is taking place during the pandemic, it has not been caused solely by the pandemic. The Plainsman is a professional news organization, and we recognize that the majority of our readers already access us through our digital formats. Ironically, for most of you reading this, there won’t be a huge amount of change. The Plainsman is also a learning lab, and we recognize that when most — if not all — of our staff members graduate, they will be looking for jobs outside of the traditional realm of print media. By focusing on interactive and digital elements, we intend to give them opportunities to develop the journalistic skills that will benefit them after they’ve walked across the stage. Lastly, The Plainsman has always been more than a


semi-monthly or weekly print product. We have always been worth more than the paper we have been printed on. The Plainsman is the stories that we uncover and tell; we’re the breaking news, the in-depth features and the sports coverage that you love. That part isn’t changing because that part will never change. No matter the format or the time period, we will always be a place for news, discussion, learning and growth. To keep up with all of this, we highly encourage you to visit our website, sign up for our newsletter, subscribe to our podcasts and follow us on social media. QR codes for all of those things are below and on the back page. As we make this change, we would first like to thank all of the former Plainsman staff members who dedicated large swaths of their college experiences and built this organization into what it is today. We would also like to thank all of our current staff members who have continued to put out critical and entertaining work despite a virus, pay cuts, uncertainty and change. Finally, we would like to thank you, our reader, for supporting, critiquing and believing in us. For 127 years, this organization has maintained a spirit that is not afraid. We aren’t afraid to hold administrators or mayors to account. We aren’t afraid to share diverse opinions from diverse individuals, and we aren’t afraid to tell the truth. This year, probably more than any other, we have had a spirit that is unafraid of change. When that first group of editors in 1894 published The Orange and Blue, they were stepping into a new journalistic era. That first editorial spoke of doubt and concern, but it also ended with hopeful salutation. “Godspeed and prosper ‘The Orange and Blue,’” they wrote. Now, we find ourselves at the cusp of another new era. And while the times may be different, the sentiment shouldn’t be. We are once again embarking onto the perilous sea of college journalism. So, godspeed and prosper, The Auburn Plainsman.


Auburn women take safety into own hands By NATALIE BECKERINK Managing Editor


Sunisa Lee is an Olympic hopeful and U.S. national team member. Next year she’s coming to Auburn.

World champ signs with AU By JACK WEST Editor-in-Chief

At its heart, gymnastics is a sport about control. Under the searing eye of a judge and amidst a small haze of chalk dust and sweat, a gymnast has to control her body with an astonishing level of precision because the smallest deviation from a routine — too loose of a grip or a little bit too much rotation — can cause her to fall

not just onto the mat below, but also down the scoreboard. This is the world that Sunisa Lee grew up in. Now a 17-year-old, three-time U.S. champion, one-time world champion and a favorite to be on the United States 2020 Olympic team, Lee started her gymnastics career when she was 6 years old. Actually, she said it started even earlier than that. “When I was younger, I was al-

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ways jumping around and doing flips,” Lee said. “My dad would spy on me and stuff, and neither of us knew what we were doing, but then my mom got in contact with one of the coaches, [...] I had a tryout and then I’ve just been here ever since.” As she got a little bit older, Lee’s coaches in Minnesota began to notice that she was good. Like, really » See GYMNAST, 2


From a young age, many women are taught the many things they have to do and the ways they have to act in order to protect themselves from safety concerns: Never walk alone. Clutch your keys in the parking lot. Lock your doors immediately after getting to the car, among many other things. These lessons are not given without reason. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, there is an elevated risk of sexual violence for women aged 18–24 — the “college years.” Even further, women that are enrolled in college are 20% more likely than non-students to be at risk for sexual violence. Auburn, Alabama — The Loveliest Village on the Plains — is not excluded from these statistics. Women enrolled at the University are taught to be just as aware of their surroundings as they would be anywhere else. “I think in today’s world, girls always have to be on guard and won’t feel safe, but that’s just because of


everything going on, not just Auburn specific,” said Oakley Holmes, sophomore in public relations. To help communicate these dangers, that up until now have only been spread by word of mouth, Holmes created a GroupMe specifically for women to share any threats that they personally experience on or around campus. “There’s been stuff happening around Sky Bar and downtown in those streets where apartments are where people are walking home,” she said. “Not many people knew about it, and it was only being communicated by a chain of people. I wanted to ensure that there was a way for girls to communicate these situations.” As of publication, the group has 1,822 members. Holmes said that girls in the group will offer each other rides, send notifications of suspicious activity and even set up events to hand pepper spray out to one another. “We have a Google document that has a list of people that would » See SAFETY, 2








AU reports 12 new COVID cases, third lowest since August By TIM NAIL Section Editor

Auburn University has reported its lowest number of COVID-19 cases since students returned for the spring semester in January. A total of 12 cases were reported during the week of Feb. 15-21. This is the third-lowest report since campus reopened in August. The University reported 32 cases during the previous week of Feb. 8-14. During the week of Feb. 15-21, Auburn’s sentinel testing program conducted 567 COVID-19 tests with one returning a positive result, or a positivity rate of 0.2%. Sentinel testing positivity rate was the same the week prior with only one positive test, though only 550 tests performed. In a weekly update video, Dr. Fred Kam, director of the Auburn University Medical Clinic, said the “trend is really good” in reference to the most weeks, with COVID cases on campus as the spring semes-

GYMNAST » From 1

good. They started preparing her to compete at elite-level meets which are for athletes who may have the potential to compete internationally. But early on, Lee’s goal was just to get to college. “Being committed to Auburn has been one of my biggest dreams for a long time,” she said. “I knew that if I made it to college, my life would be safe. But then I realized that I could be an Olympic hopeful; then it started getting serious.” When she was 14, Lee verbally committed to a gymnastics scholarship with the Tigers. This decision was made, in part, because of a close familial tie she had with Auburn’s program. Her coach — Jess Graba — and Auburn’s coach — Jeff Graba — are twin brothers. “Suni had offers from pretty much every college so she could have gone anywhere,” Jess said. “I think she felt a comfort zone with Jeff, just because he’s my brother, and I think she feels like it won’t be a big transition for her.” However, even with a college plan

ter passes 51 days. “Our numbers ... [are] all down,” Kam said. “That is not specific to Auburn, that is across the state and very much across the country. We are in a good situation now, but this is not time to stop doing what we need to be doing as far as mitigating the transmission ... of the virus.” Kam said it is unknown when campus may reach herd immunity since there is no true number on how many people have contracted COVID-19, but that the University is likely not close at this time. He said this number would need to be combined with the number of vaccinated people to gauge herd immunity. “Right now the target for herd immunity is going to be up in the 85% range; part of that is because of the variants,” Kam said. “We’re probably well above the 35% [range].” Kam does not expect herd immunity to be reached by late spring as COVID-19 is still very contagious. He said he expects a drop in cases because of

nailed down and a childhood spent perfecting a sport that necessitates control, Lee has had to spend the last year and a half of her life learning how to deal with the big things she can’t control. In September 2019, on the day before she was set to leave for her first senior U.S. World Championships trial, Lee learned that her dad had fallen out of tree while helping a neighbor and was paralyzed from the waist down. Her first reaction — like anybody’s — was to not go to the competition so she could stay and support her dad. “I wasn’t even going to go,” she said. “I told my dad I wasn’t going to go, but he was like, you have to go, you’ve been working for this.” Her dad told her coach that she had to go, so Lee decided that she would compete for her dad. She said nothing else mattered. “It doesn’t matter if I get top two or wherever,” she said. “I’m just going to compete. Obviously, it was really hard on me, and I think I ended up doing pretty good.” Lee did better than pretty good. She placed second in the competi-


Sunisa Lee and Simone Biles are both members of the U.S. national team.

SAFETY » From 1

volunteer to come help you if you were in a situation, and it’s arranged by where you live,” she said. “Just keeping in touch and making sure that we’re all sticking together.” One of the members in the group is Anna Grace Huston, freshman in English education. Huston said that as someone fairly new to Auburn, the group had made her a lot more knowledgeable about what goes on around her. “So far, I honestly use it like a lot,” Huston said. “As a freshman, it’s honestly really interesting. Because last semester, I totally felt safe at Auburn, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s not that kind of college where bad things happen,’ and stuff like that. And I think that they just don’t publicize a lot of bad things that do happen at Auburn. The GroupMe is really helpful for me, especially being a freshman, like knowing what’s going on around campus and stuff like that.” Becoming a part of the conversation has made being a woman in a college town more real, Huston said.

“Because I think ignorance is bliss, kind of thing,” she said. “But this semester, I definitely have honestly felt a lot more unsafe ... And even I don’t know if that’s because I’m more aware of them [incidents] now. But even in my own personal life, like I know, personally, a lot more girls this semester, who have been drugged in bars and have been in bad situations and stuff like that.” This rise in women’s safety concerns was not simply an idea spurred from female students. According to Susan McCallister, director of Campus Safety and Compliance, the level of reported incidents “ebbs and flows a lot.” “I’ve seen that there are some semesters where there really seems to be an increase in reports and concerns,” McCallister said. “The big thing I think that I’ve noticed though is that as far as crimes that have been able to be prosecuted — I haven’t seen a big increase in those. I have noticed in this semester that there has been an increase in concerns.” McCallister said that one of the best things for women to do when they feel unsafe is to report the suspicious activity, even if they are unsure of the

increased vaccinations, warmer weather and a lack of holidays. He did note there was little seasonality with COVID transmission, however. “Even though I’ve read and seen some opinion pieces on the possibility of herd immunity being achieved by the spring, I don’t buy it,” he said. “We’re going to be wearing masks all through 2021 because this is a respiratory virus.” Looking at vaccines, Kam said there have been issues receiving enough doses in Alabama and Lee County. The University administered all of its initial 7,000 vaccines by Feb. 18, with 3,300 second doses given, according to Kam. “We were very, very fortunate in cooperation with understanding from the Alabama Department of Public Health and working with East Alabama Medical Center to get a few hundred doses that we can use for second doses,” Kam said. “Those people who are eligible for it and would have been eligible last Saturday or before have already been invited and will get immunized on Tuesday.”

tion’s all-around category, and the only woman who beat her was Simone Biles. Yes, that Simone Biles: the one who has won more Olympic medals than any other American gymnast in history. But even after the trials, Lee said her dad’s injury kept popping into her head. She described a time when he had to go into surgery during one of her practices. “The whole time I was just thinking about my dad,” she said. “Practices were kind of stressful because during one of the practices, he was going into surgery, and like, obviously that’s a meta one in the back of my head.” Jess said that he could see the effect on Lee after the trials. “By the end of 2019, she was really struggling with the energy level just because after [World Championships] and everything, then she had to come home and actually deal with it, you know, face it day-to-day,” he said. “That was hard.” But despite the physical rigor of a gymnastic practice, Lee said the gym had always been a place where she felt safe. “Being in the gym was literally like my second home and like the only place that I could get away from, like, reality,” she said. So, even though her dad was always in the back of her head, Jess said he started to see Lee getting back to her old self in the early months of 2020. But then the world shut down. When the COVID-19 pandemic started and uncertainty around the virus was widespread, Jess had to close the gym for safety reasons. Suddenly, the girl who had spent a huge chunk of her life at the gym was stuck in the house. “When things shut down, I think that was a big shock because you couldn’t train for so many weeks,” Jess said. “And I think the gym is kind of her home away from home and her safe spot.” Even after they were able to reopen with new safety guidelines, Lee continued to be surrounded by things she had little to no control over. In the spring, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed — the first time this has ever happened in the Games’ history. In the sum-

risk level. “A lot of times, understandably, people will wait to report things,” she said. “This is normal for people to have something happen and really think about it awhile, kind of second guess themselves and then maybe later decide that something did happen and report it … I really want to encourage people that when they don’t feel like something is right that they should trust those instincts and report something immediately.” McCallister noted that sometimes women will be afraid to go to an official if they don’t have enough information or if there were any other factors involved they feel may land them in trouble, one of the most common of which is underage drinking. But this isn’t something women should worry about. “Don’t be afraid to get in trouble for alcohol,” she said. “Sometimes that delays the reports as well … if there is a safety concern involved, that will be what is focused on.” Auburn Department of Campus Safety and Security also offers many different ways to attempt to help all students feel safer, including a

For those looking to get their second shot, Kam said studies on the Moderna vaccine concluded that a period of 28 days was considered the minimum time between doses. This data measured up to six weeks, he said. “There appears to be no maximum date for the second dose,” he said. “You should get it as soon as you can closest to the 28th day, but there’s not a problem if you get it later than 28 days.” Kam said it takes approximately two weeks after receiving a second shot to have the greatest immune response to COVID-19. He referred to new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and ADPH which say getting exposed within 90 days of receiving the second dose and not having any symptoms means one is likely immune and will not have to quarantine. “More than likely, that 90-day window will get expanded as more scientific information comes out,” Kam said. “If a person gets the COVID virus 90 days out, they tend to not get reinfected.”


In 2020, Lee officially signed her scholarship papers for Auburn.

mer, Lee broke her foot and was again restricted to basic exercises. Around that time, some of the largest protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd took place 20 minutes from her house in Minnesota. Then, in the span of a few months Lee lost both an aunt and an uncle to COVID-19. “It just felt like it was one thing after another,” she said. “I was, like, jeez, how much can I take? It was just so stressful, and I started to get down on myself because there’s just really nothing that I could do about it. And that was the worst thing, because it’s not something that I could have controlled.” But apparently, Lee can take a lot. Because even though this 17-year-old girl has suffered injuries and loss, even though she’s spent the better part of a year locked out of the place she felt safe and focused, you wouldn’t be able to tell. She still smiles, even if it’s over Zoom, and she still laughs even if the audio quality in an office at the gym isn’t great. And now, with a slate of gymnastics competitions on the horizon — distant though they may be — Lee said she’s starting to get that good kind of nervous feeling again. She’s started posting more and more bar routines and practices on her social media accounts again. She’s

night shuttle, monitored security cameras around campus, a self-defense class and blue dispatch lights placed around campus. Huston said that these did help, but she still felt uneasy at times. “I love the resources that they do have,” she said. “I live on campus, so I like the blue light things whenever I’m walking home; those do make me feel better. And I love the security shuttle, because I think that’s a great way to make sure that people are getting home safely and stuff like that. But I really just wish they would keep us more informed about it.” Behind safety concerns and resources used by women to protect themselves is the culture of women in today’s society. Allison Vandenberg, professor of women’s studies, touched on the advice women are commonly given today to protect themselves and how much it actually helps them. “Being told ‘It’s your responsibility to keep track of your drink, you need to make sure that you monitor your behavior, that you don’t wear something that might give someone the wrong impression, that you don’t say something that might be unintentionally lead-

also only a few months away from graduating high school and only a few more away from coming to Auburn. Other than, you know, competing in the Olympics, Lee said one of the things she’s most excited about for her next four years at Auburn is being able to have more of a normal life. “I think I just wanted to have a real college experience and to be able to have fun,” she said. “Not saying I don’t have fun now but being an elite gymnast it’s so limited because you’re always in the gym, and that’s all I focus on. I’m already not, like, a normal teenager; I don’t go to football games and all that stuff. But when I get to college, it feels like it’s going to be so much more fun, I guess, and like, free.” But Lee is a world champion gymnast who has spent more than a decade perfecting the control she has over her body. She’s one of the best in the world at letting go at the exact right moment to execute a seamless bar change or rotating just enough to stick an unshaking landing. So even though she’s excited about a chance at more freedom in college, she’s not even sure what she’ll do with it. “I don’t even know,” she said. “I guess I’ll just have to wait till I get there.”

ing someone on,’” Vandenberg said. “These are the pieces of advice that were being given when I was in college. And unfortunately, it’s the same older, more stale advice that is still being given.” A sentiment echoed by both Vandenberg and Arianne Gaetano, director of Auburn’s women’s studies program, was that the lack of awareness on the subject of women’s safety goes beyond just women — it should be something everyone contributes to. “We have such a lack of consistent sex education in middle school and high school, which is where we really, really need to have that,” Vandenberg said. “What we tend to find is that there is a lot of ignorance on the part of men and boys about what sorts of things women and girls go through in an effort to insulate themselves. So, if we shift these conversations and we really think more about what we can do socially, to address this as something that is not a woman’s problem, but is everybody’s problem …” Gaetano mentioned that Auburn has greatly improved with the programs that it offers, such as Safe Harbor, the Title IX Office and Green Dot — some of

which have been established in the last 10 years. Though these new structures are very helpful, she emphasized that with the internet there is a new need for awareness and continued advocacy. “I do want to emphasize that there’s a lot of new structures in place that weren’t in place, you know, a decade ago, and that’s really good,” Gaetano said. “But we have to use those structures, and we have to communicate about them. … There are now these opportunities, I guess, that’s not the word I want to use, but for objectifying, women in particular. It’s amplified by the Internet and by new technology and the way we use it.” The importance of conversations about women in society, Gaetano said, is also important because safety for women starts by the way they are treated and respected in an everyday environment. “We’re taught that it’s innocuous: ‘Boys will be boys,’” she said. “Yeah, that’s one of those things … Let the boys be boys. It’s seen playful, but it’s actually harmful. And it’s harmful, you know, for all of society. And it has repercussions, you know, that get larger and larger than you know.”







Going online is a difficult decision, but it’s the right one By JOHN CARVALHO Auburn Professor

To be a human being is to live with change. To fight against necessary change not only delays the inevitable, but also handicaps an organization’s prospects for surviving change. No industry recognizes this more than the mass media, particularly the news. When I entered the full-time workforce at an afternoon newspaper in Jacksonville, Florida, it was much simpler. The news sources were two dailies and three TV stations. Now, everyone with a smartphone is both a potential news source and a news information consumer. Some things endure: citizens’ need for accurate news information, for one. Even as opportunists have recognized how to subvert that hunger, for personal gain and corporate profit, a need remains for sources that will fight the good fight. The Auburn Plainsman has established itself as a reliable, committed news operation for decades. That has remained steadfast, even as the ground beneath it has shifted. The decline of print and the emergence of online have forced change in how it delivers its news. Now, to continue to fulfill its mission, the newspaper faces a difficult decision: ending a print version that reflects a centuries-old tradition of news transmission. It is a decision founded not in what the Plainsman staff wants to do, but what it must do. On-campus print distribution had declined, even before COVID-19 emptied the campus. Will it return, along with the students? Past


Professor John Carvalho supports decision to move completely online.

trends tell us that it would return at a lower level than earlier. Such data informs difficult decisions. I will confess. I subscribe to several newspapers, but I read all of them online, not in print, whether it’s the New York Times or the Opelika-Auburn News. I would pick up a Plainsman copy on my way to the office on Thursdays, but if it is no longer there, I will become

an online reader there, too. And I will still support The Plainsman. I have decided that my pre-retirement giving will help to fund an endowment to ensure the paper’s survival. Until that endowment is finalized, we can all give to The Plainsman at their website. The project will be called The Plainsman Editors Endowment, honoring the commit-

ment of individuals who have led their staffs to produce an excellent, aggressive and yet fair news source. Jack West is the latest in that line, and I stand with him in making this difficult decision. It’s the right one. John Carvalho is a 1978 graduate, a current Auburn professor, and was the Plainsman Editor in Chief from 1977-1978.


How dedicated is Auburn to Black students? By BRUCE GLADDEN, MICHAEL BROWN AND AUSTIN ROBINSON Auburn Professors

As we celebrate Black History Month, we were disturbed by a recent article about Auburn University’s failure to increase the number of Black students in its enrollment. Alabama’s Black population proportion is about 26%. In comparison, AU’s undergraduate enrollment is about 5% Black. Remarkably, an AU Task Force recommended in 2016 that AU

“[redefine] inclusion and diversity as core institutional values” and “develop, adjust, and refine institutional recruitment strategies designed to attract and build a more diverse student body.” After four years, the result is essentially no change. In fact, Auburn has been losing Black students since 2007. Despite Dr. Gogue’s recent report of positive developments by the Presidential Task Force for Opportunity and Equity, we remain concerned. The persistently low Black en-

rollment is simply unacceptable. While it is true that creating a more welcoming and supportive environment, free of prejudice, microaggressions, etc. is important, the major components of improving Black enrollment (or any enrollment for that matter) are simple and straightforward; specifically, commitment, recruitment and money. To illustrate, consider the percentage of Blacks on AU’s football and basketball teams — it’s in the order of 75%. How did this happen? Commitment, recruitment


Auburn’s Black enrollment numbers are consistently low despite thousands of dollars dedicated to athletics.

and money (full scholarships). How dedicated is AU to its athletics programs? On Feb. 5, the AU Board of Trustees approved $91,900,000 for a football training complex. Also, Coach Gus Malzahn and his assistant coaches were recently fired with a buyout amounting to approximately $27,000,000. Full costs of attending AU amounts to about $33,000 per year for tuition, fees, books and room and board for an in-state student; this translates to about $132,000 for graduation in four years, a feasible expectation for a student on a full ride. How many full rides would the Malzahn et al. buyout fund? About 205, which by itself would raise our Black enrollment by almost 1% of the total student population. Obviously, AU can’t direct scholarships only to Black applicants; however, many universities have been successful in increasing diversity by employing need-based, affirmative action scholarships. While willing donors cannot be compelled to direct their funds to specific programs, clearly AU should emphasize and encourage gifts toward improving diversity, particularly enrolling more Black students. Additionally, a recent National Bureau of Economic Research paper raises a strong case that the prevailing business model of Power Five conference athletics rests on taking the money generated by sports played predominant-

ly by Black athletes who are from low-income neighborhoods and using that income to subsidize sports played by athletes who are more likely to be white and from higher-income neighborhoods, in addition to building state-of-theart facilities and paying exorbitant salaries to coaches. Does this sound familiar? This raises the specter of a plantation-like operation. Perhaps it’s time to require an indirect cost payment from Athletics revenues to fund disadvantaged, minority students in the broader student population. If that’s not a workable plan, expediently decide on one that will work! If anyone doubts the repression suffered by Black individuals in Alabama and in the USA at large, they need look no further than the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, both located in Montgomery. Perhaps a visit to the museum and the memorial should be an annual requirement for all AU administrators, faculty, staff and students. We have already waited too long to do something. Come on Auburn, we can do better! Bruce Gladden and Michael Brown are Auburn professors at the School of Kinesiology. Austin Robinson is an assistant professor at the School of Kinesiology.

Correction: In previous stories online, The Plainsman has misspelled Jediael Fraser’s name. We apologize for this mistake, and have corrected the errors in the stories.


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Past editors look back on printing The Plainsman By TIM NAIL Section Editor

Auburn’s student-run newspaper went by the name The Orange and Blue for 29 years after its 1893 founding, but nearly a century ago became The Auburn Plainsman. Now The Plainsman is undergoing another evolution by retiring its printed product this semester to go along with the new age of the journalism industry. The Plainsman contacted past editors-in-chief to give word of the transition and allow them the opportunity to remember their time in the newsroom designing weekly broadsheet issues. Chris Roush, a 1987 Auburn graduate in journalism, was elected editor of The Plainsman from 1986-1987. Today Roush is the dean of the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, but he said the paper remains near and dear to him. Roush’s son, Tyler, wrote for The Plainsman as a sports reporter in 2018 and assistant sports editor from 2018-2019. “I have my bound volume in the office and I have issues of The Plainsman with my son’s byline on the front page in my office,” he said. During Roush’s year as editor, Harold Melton was elected Auburn’s first Black SGA president,

which Roush said was the paper’s most prominent moment that year. Roush spoke with Melton for a Q&A story following the win — one of his most notable articles while at The Plainsman. “We actually sent that [article] to a Blackowned newspaper in Atlanta, and they ran a full [story],” Roush said. Roush said the announcement was disappointing to receive, but inevitable as other college newspapers around the country look to make similar changes in operations. Though he thinks there will always be an audience preferable to printed news, Roush said this group will likely continue to shrink as time passes. “Some of my fondest memories were working with the staff on Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday evening to get the paper out and published for Thursday morning,” Roush said. “The fact that I’m not going to have those memories of a printed Plainsman anymore... it hurts.” The Plainsman has seen other changes in its history as newswriting and technology have mixed. Since 2001, pages have been sent over the internet to be printed, but before then staff cut and pasted pages by hand on Wednesday each week. Napo Monasterio, a 2002 Auburn graduate in journalism and the 2001-2002 editor, recalled the switch to this method during under his leadership.


“At 4 [p.m.] someone from the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer would come and actually pick up the newspaper,” Monasterio said. “It wasn’t like ‘Hey, you have to send your pages at 4,’ but like ‘Hey, there’s someone here at the door.’” Monasterio named many key news events that happened throughout his year as editor, from a series of “back-and-forths” with the Auburn University Board of Trustees to an alumni board controversy to incidents of blackface. Most impactful, however, occurred on the third week of classes, when Auburn witnessed the 9/11 attacks along with the rest of the nation. The Plainsman’s front page that week focused on local reactions. “I helped create that [front] page with Drew Reese who went on to work for the Boston Globe,” Monasterio said. “Toward the end of the school year we had one about how many [administrative]-level positions there were at Auburn at the time. We put a ‘now hiring’ sign in front of Samford Hall so that was kind of fun.” Monasterio went on to pursue a design-focused career, largely motivated by the storytelling through design he said he experienced as an editor at The Plainsman. Front page design was also important to Corey Williams, a 2017 Auburn graduate in journalism, who served as 2016-2017 editor of The Plains-

man. She said she anticipated a move to exclusive online publishing but finds it difficult to process. “There was always that one front page story you worked toward,” she said. “It’s a clear record of time at Auburn, those front pages. How our history is being recorded now is different.” Williams said her biggest front page story was a piece she wrote on mental health her junior year. Stories like this, she said, can have more of an effect in print though she was accustomed to online publishing by the time she was Plainsman editor. “It’s just different seeing them in print than online and I think it’s just things that are online ... can be edited,” Williams said. “When I was writing I was picturing the words in print than on a screen.” Even over four years, Williams said journalism can adjust significantly. Instagram has become more of an emphasis for news publications on social media than when Williams was the editor, she said. Now Williams is a search engine optimization writer for AllRecipes, a cooking recipe website. While she said she will miss The Plainsman’s print editions, she admitted online publishing can be more efficient for journalists. “[Print] has been around for so, so long and it’s such an institution,” she said. “However, things are much more streamlined now [online].”


Project uses LIDAR to map out Bloody Sunday By JILLIAN MINOR Writer


The Special Collections and Archives Department is seeking to preserve tapes from the 1970s to 1990s.

‘Time is of the essence’ for AU Archives in saving videotapes By EMMA KIRKEMIER Reporter

Hundreds of videos held on tapes in the Auburn University Special Collections and Archives Department are degrading. If their contents are not digitized in time, they could be lost, but the department is working to restore and preserve them. The department asked for $10,000 in donations for Tiger Giving Day on Wednesday, Feb. 24, for the preservation project. This project was listed on the Tiger Giving Day website under the tagline, “Save Historic Auburn Videos.” Greg Schmidt, head of special collections and archives, explained that this initiative is a renewed funding push in an ongoing project. The archive already has hundreds of preserved audio files which were digitized with the help of funding from Tiger Giving Day 2019, he said. While the archive has its own digitization equipment for audio “reel-to-reel tapes,” Schmidt said that it has no means of digitizing the scores of videotapes on the shelves. “Time is of the essence for old videotapes,” Schmidt said. Schmidt explained that the

videotapes are mostly “U-Matic” tapes, commonly used in video production from the 1970s to the 1990s. The machines that play these tapes, however, are “difficult to maintain, clunky and old,” he said. Instead of purchasing a U-Matic machine, the archival staff uses donated funds to send the tapes to Preserve South, a preservation firm in Atlanta which has several of these machines. The tapes are prepared, played in U-Matic machines and converted to digital files. “The biggest component is also that it would be available for anyone to watch online,” said Development Officer Margherita Ligorio. The first video recordings to be digitized, Schmidt said, were old Auburn University Marching Band halftime performances because he knew that those would be “beloved by the Auburn Family.” Every performance from 1979 to around 1990 is digitized and preserved online, Schmidt said. “We’re at risk of losing them, and those are important historical moments, memories for the Auburn Family,” Ligorio said. “We absolutely don’t

want to lose them.” Schmidt, who graduated from Auburn, told a story of one preserved recording, a promotional video for Auburn, where he recognized a friend of his on the video. “I sent the link to him and said, ‘Look at minute 14; is that you?’” Schmidt said. “And he was like, ‘Oh my God, that is me!’ He got back with me and said, ‘OK, I know this person and this person and this person in the video, and I’ve emailed them the link.’ So within a day, 50 people had looked at this video and started reminiscing.” Tapes like these, Ligorio said, have a lot of sentimental value for the Auburn Family. Ligorio said their goal is to salvage about 300 tapes. Those 300 tapes, Schmidt said, would be a major chunk out of the largest videotape collection, though not nearly the entirety of the files. Ligorio said that student workers are involved in the preservation of audio tapes already, and she called the project another way that the library can link the past to the future. Ligorio said the preservation of these videotapes “preserve[s] Auburn history, memories and tradition.”

The McWhorter School of Building Science is creating a digital history of Bloody Sunday using Light Detection and Ranging Scanners and historical information to create models of the historical site. “Bringing History to Life: ‘Bloody Sunday’ at Selma” will feature a 3D rendering of the events that unfolded in the civil rights standoff that occurred on March 7, 1965. John Lewis led over 600 marchers through Selma, Alabama and across the Edmund Pettus Bridge before they were attacked by state troopers, remembered widely as “Bloody Sunday.” Richard Burt, head of the McWhorter School of Building Science, said the project dates back to 2016 and is intended to be a detailed recreation of the events of Bloody Sunday. “What we are trying to do is put together a sort of map of what the site looked like in

1965 because … that provides a starting point to do a lot of stuff based around historic preservation and learning about the events that went on there,” Burt said. After marking close to over 4,000 individual points and using software to render them together, the team now has a drawing of what the site looked like in 1965 including the surroundings and positions of the marchers. Now the goal is to identify the names of the people who marched on Bloody Sunday and put names to their faces, which is what the Tiger Giving Day funds will help contribute to, Burt said. “I thought it was really bad to give a number to these people that were extremely brave, many of them high school kids,” Burt said. “We thought there is bound to be a list somewhere, but there is not.” Burt said if the school can reach its $5,000 goal for Tiger Giving Day, those funds can be used to obtain historical photos from the Briscoe Archives

at the University of Texas and the National Archives in Washington, D.C. that will aid in understanding the key players and as many marchers as possible that were involved in the conflict. “We know that they marched in twos and pretty much stayed in the same formation from about two miles away,” Burt said. “The conflict occurs for about five to 10 minutes, so we want to be able to show where some of the important people, how they moved around the site.” Burt said the site of Bloody Sunday is “probably one of the most significant historic sites in the U.S. that came about in the 20th century.” “The level of support that is given to ... other battlefield sites compared to how much the national government has provided to [the site of Bloody Sunday] does not bear comparison... so we are trying to tell the story of the place where this conflict occurred,” Burt said.


The school is hoping to identify the names of those who marched on Bloody Sunday.

The Auburn Plainsman




‘We intend to put in the work that’s necessary’ Three years after receiving a failing grade for race equity, Auburn struggles to make change By COLLINS KEITH Assistant Section Editor

Fifty-seven years have passed since Harold Franklin walked across Auburn’s campus as its first Black student. On that day, surrounded by a personal detail of federal and University guards, Franklin was escorted to Magnolia Hall, where an entire wing had been emptied out for him to live in. He then made his way to the library, where he registered as an Auburn student and received his books. Over the subsequent years, Auburn began to admit an increasing number of students of color, aiming to make the changes necessary to desegregate not only in definition but in culture. 2007 marked the year with the highest percentage of Black students at Auburn since 2000, with 2,096 students making up 8.7% of the student population, according to the Office of Institutional Research. Since 2007, the number of Black students and the percentage of the population that they make up has steadily fallen. In 2020, the most recent data on record, 1,624 Black students made up 5.28% of the student population. For comparison, in 2020, there were 4,145 Black students currently enrolled at the University of Alabama, making up 10.95% of its student population. In the same year, there were 3,321 Black students currently enrolled at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, making up 23.9% of its undergraduate population. In 2018, the Race and Equity Center at the University of Southern California published a report ranking Auburn University in the bottom 20 percent of colleges for racial equity. Retention rates for Black students at Auburn also differ significantly from their white and Asian counterparts. The average change in the percentage of enrollment from second semester of freshman year to first semester of junior year for Black students from 2010-2018 was 18.10%. Essentially, this number represents the percentage of Black students who left Auburn’s campus in that time period. This number was 11.42% and 12.31% for white and Asian students, respectively. While the numbers can be confusing, the fact remains that Black students are not only admitted at an increasingly lower rate than other ethnicities, but Auburn also retains them at a much lower rate. “Numbers don’t really lie,” said Tyler Ward, junior in political science. “I think that it is very ignorant to think that everyone has the same opportunity, [to think] that even if you give everyone the same opportunities, they will be able to do the same things.” At Auburn, these numbers can be looked at to quantify just how diverse and inclusive the campus is, but by definition, the metrics one uses span far past numbers, according to Dr. Taffye Clayton, associate provost and vice president of Auburn’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity. “Diversity, simply put, is all the ways human beings are different,” Clayton said. “By nature, its definition is very broad and encompassing. Inclusion is


Since 2009, Black students have made up less than 8% of the student population at Auburn.

involvement and empowerment that recognizes the inherent worth and dignity of all people. An inclusive university promotes and sustains a sense of belonging and values and respects the identities, talents, beliefs, backgrounds and ways of living of organization members.” Clayton and her team at the OID aim to enrich the experiences of all members of Auburn’s campus through the lens of diversity, equity and inclusion. While the specific title is one that she has taken at Auburn in recent years, Clayton credits her experiences as a young child in Fayetteville, North Carolina, for fundamentally shaping the way that she works. She said this prepared her for the issues she now faces at Auburn on a daily basis. “I was very active in theater as a young child,” Clayton said. “Ultimately, this put me in contexts that were very diverse and heterogeneous. I was also a military kid. While we worshipped at a church that was predominantly Black in our neighborhood, we would also make visits to the main post chapel that was very international and diverse in its nature.” Before coming to Auburn, Clayton served at East Carolina University as associate provost and chief diversity officer. After that, she took on the position of associate vice chancellor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her alma mater, where Clayton’s role mirrored her experiences there as an undergrad. “In college — at UNC — I was a resident advisor,” Clayton said. “I had an opportunity to have responsibility for students, and at a predominantly white institution, that meant a lot of diversity around me. All told, my life has been enriched by these [diverse] experiences.” OID’s role is to inform the strategies that lead to improvements in diversity, equity and inclusion performance and progress indicators, Clayton said. These goals are not just for her office, but for the University in its entirety. Being a data-driven unit, her team uses different metrics and multiple assessment modalities to provide evidence and support

for their work. The work Clayton’s team does shows up in many different ways across Auburn’s campus, she said. Her education team hosts training sessions on microaggressions, implicit bias and psychological safety for staff and departments on campus and leads efforts to examine the experiences of historically underrepresented and marginalized communities. “We have a goal of launching a University-wide diversity statement that can be used across colleges, schools and academic units,” Clayton said. “This semester, following faculty recruitment and retention recommendations from the Presidential Task Force for Opportunity and Equity, we are launching an Auburn Faculty Initiative designed to strengthen the recruitment and retention of historically underrepresented faculty at our institution.” In order to integrate these policies into the Auburn community, OID relies on its student ambassadors to inform underrepresented students about resources to help them succeed and excel, as well as to implement the best practices for recruiting and retaining students from diverse backgrounds. Ward, from Demopolis, Alabama, spoke about his experiences as a high school student regarding these topics. “I think that a lot of the time, the root of these issues [does] go back to high schools,” Ward said. “‘Cause I’m from Demopolis, which is the same kind of area as Greensboro, and I didn’t even realize how bad those school systems were until I got to Auburn. I thought that everyone only took the ACT once, that everyone only [took] [Advanced Placement] classes but never really passed them, that everyone really came from that background. Then I got here, and I realized that that wasn’t the case.” For Ward, a tangible example that highlights this discrepancy in education and equitability is the number of students who attend the University from both Auburn and Opelika’s high schools. In 2019, 192 students from Auburn High enrolled in Auburn, while only 18 students from Opelika High enrolled in Auburn. Auburn High’s total student

population for 2019 was 1,843 with Black students making up 21.43% of the population and Opelika High’s was 1,201 and 57.62% respectively. “Just letting higher government officials and those who are chosen to represent us … know that high school education [does] have to be more fair,” Ward said. “Whether that’s us going to those high schools to see what they need, maybe that’s us providing that ACT prep or tutoring; seeing how we can get those students here. I think that also falls on Auburn administrators to advocate on our behalf and the high school student’s behalf.” Each of these individual pieces falls together to make up the environment and climate of Auburn’s campus. According to Clayton, understanding how Auburn’s students, faculty and employees are experiencing the environment is critical to effectively advancing diversity, equity and inclusion work. “The puzzle pieces are coming together,” Clayton said. “[This] work does not take flight without collaboration. It takes commitment, institutional will, strategy, resources and action to advance diversity, equity and inclusion to become among the leading universities in this area.” The collaboration from students must come from a place of humility and grace, Ward said. When talking with someone who does not share the same beliefs, for Ward, meeting them halfway is the best thing that one could do. “My job, and the job of OID and the job of Black students is never to convince people that systemic racism is real — it’s only to give them the information and to let them decide for themselves,” Ward said. “I think the more that we try to tailor our message to people who have decided to oppose what the facts are, the more we are doing a disservice to ourselves and just wasting our time … trying to educate the people who refuse to be educated.” Clayton’s office seeks continuous improvement. Each year, she said, her institution should expect and deliver increased progress on diversity, equity and inclusion indicators. “It will not always be easy, but taking the time to learn, grow and act together as a community is the best way forward,” Clayton said. “There’s clearly more work to be done, and we intend to put in the work that’s necessary to make progress.” Having honest conversations is something that Ward believes in strongly. “I think that comes from humility and grace, and just really understanding that a lot of people are ignorant and they come from situations where they haven’t been exposed to those different kinds of things,” Ward said. “Honesty and truthfulness are embedded into the [Auburn] Creed for a reason — I think that if we only choose to ignore that when it becomes uncomfortable, then it becomes unnecessary, wrong and isn’t really who Auburn is, what we do, or who we are.” This is the first in a series of stories exploring issues of racial equity and diversity on Auburn’s campus. This article provides a background on these issues as well as the role of OID. Future stories will be published on our website.


Of the three largest racial demographics at Auburn, Black students consistently have the lowest retention rate for any given time period. The year listed represents the year each class enrolled at Auburn.


Students weigh in on recent stock market volatility By NICOLE LEE Writer

In the new digital age, the world of financial markets can be accessed easily with the help of mobile apps and digital brokerage companies. Robinhood, one of these investment apps, pioneered pathways for the average person’s venture into stock trading and investment opportunities, according to Business Insider. Until recently, there was minimal discourse between brokerage companies and the average person, but this all changed last month. The online forum and self-proclaimed “front page of the internet,” Reddit, gained international recognition after members of the subreddit WallStreetBets rallied behind dying companies, specifically GameStop, Nokia and AMC Entertainment, to

counter a practice called shorting. In response to this, Robinhood limited users from purchasing GameStop, Nokia and AMC shares altogether. “I think the way Robinhood acted is downright criminal,” said Riley Gray, junior in pre-pharmacy. “I don’t want to posit any of my own theories, but it is absolutely suspicious that GameStop would be targeted by this, and it was effectively what killed all momentum for the surge.” This surge was made possible because several large investment funds shorted GameStop’s stock. To short a stock, investors borrow shares at a low cost and sell them at the current market price, anticipating a price decline. Then, once the stock price goes down, they rebuy the stocks at the new lower price and return them to the broker, profiting off the price decline. Small-dollar retail investors were

able to foil this method by buying large amounts of shares of these shorted companies, causing the stock price of GameStop to go from $37 a share on Jan. 21 to $483 on Jan. 28. Although he lacks an educational tie with economics, Gray disagreed with Robinhood’s decision to limit the trading of certain stocks. “I don’t have a background in economics, but the importance of investing was always instilled into me by those around me,” Gray said. Gray recalled his initial introduction to the world of investing long before the GameStop mania. “The first thing I truly invested in was some eBay call options, but I held onto them too long instead of taking my profit and ended up losing money,” Gray said. “It taught me that you should always take some profit even if you think you 100% will get a return on

investment because you can’t ever control all the factors surrounding your investments.” After learning this lesson the hard way, Gray said he erred on the side of caution when exploring new investment ventures. “I first heard about the GameStop situation about a week or two before it hit major media outlets,” Gray said. After learning specific details explaining what was about to happen, Gray decided to join the cause and purchase shares of GameStop himself. Kenneth Talyor, junior in business analytics, suggested using a different broker than Robinhood in light of the company’s recent decisions. “Robinhood isn’t the worst platform, but I’d suggest looking online and finding brokers that are more transparent in their business dealings,” Talyor said.

Some believe Robinhood’s actions reflect a skewed and unfair manipulation of the market. “This response did mitigate [the] risk of the hedge funds but underscored the hopeful idea of the stock market being used by everyday Americans,” Talyor said. “When the big corporations begin to lose at their own game then strings are pulled to bail them out. I lost over a hundred bucks after Robinhood froze Nokia as a result.” Investing can be daunting to those who are not familiar with the industry, and Talyor said he understands that some may have reservations. “Not everyone is Warren Buffet, so you will have both ups and downs, but experience has to start somewhere,” Talyor said. “Investing forums are your friends, but doing your own research to back up any recommendations is key to risk management.”

community THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2021




Dessert cafe opens doors on Opelika Road By ELISE SAPPINGTON Reporter

William and Gio Paulk opened another restaurant off of Opelika Road, Cheetos, a Korean fusion dessert cafe dreamt up by Gio. It joins the couple’s other ventures: ChickChickPorkPork, a Korean fusion restaurant and Mook Chi Bar. William explained that the hard-working mastermind behind the concept of Cheetos is his wife Gio. The name was created from their main dish, “cheese toast,” which is served in a cup as a Cup Toast. “What we have over here [at Cheetos], my wife researches,” William said. “When she gets off of work at 9 p.m., [she] puts my boys to sleep then she’s on the computer researching ‘What can I do now? What is popular nowadays?’” From the computer, Gio then takes the time to gather ingredients and experiment with them. “So, she tries them, ‘Maybe I can do this, maybe I can do this,’” William said. “That is how she has come up with all of the drinks over here and we try them, we make them, we let the employees taste them. Then she kind of changes it and once they say, ‘Oh this is good!’ that is how we go with all of our drinks.” Gio wished to open a place where the younger generations in Auburn could come in and have a space to spend their free time. “Junior high school students [and] high school students don’t really have a place to hang out,” William said. “Here, they can come in have a drink, study or watch K-pop music videos. That was her concept, for the younger generation.” Cheetos is not the couple’s first or only venture. Originally from South Korea, they moved to Auburn in 2011. Before entering into the restaurant industry full time, Gio had been working as a nail technician and William worked at a supply company. They created their first restaurant, ChickChickPorkPork, in order to give working men and women a nearby lunch option off of Exit 66, but, in time, they had to give up their lease. Although their entrepreneurial journey

was marred with leasing issues and failed attempts, they still have their loyal customers. Regardless of the hardships, when a new property on Opelika Road became available, Gio urged her husband to try again. “My wife said, ‘This is another chance, let’s take it,’” William said. “So, we got the place and we opened [a new location for] ChickChickPorkPork.” He expressed that trying again was not easy on him and his wife. “I mean, we were really scared, because we didn’t have any savings besides the money that we had to buy the building,” William said. “So, once we bought it, I thought ‘what if business doesn’t prosper, what should we do?’ We really worried a lot.” William had worked in the restaurant industry before, and his wife knew Korean cuisine, so together they built ChickChickPorkPork from the ground up. “When you start from the bottom, it’s kind of difficult,” William said. “I was working at the plant, and when I would finish work, I would come over here and help my wife [run the restaurant] and that’s how we started.” The same customers who supported ChickChickPorkPork at lunch on Exit 66 now come for dinner and spread awareness of the restaurant throughout the community. Within six months, William was working full-time managing the restaurant and soon his wife would join him as the chef. “My wife, she is in the kitchen cooking,” William said. “All of the dishes, she cooks them. As you know, a lot of restaurants, the owner does not stay in the kitchen. That is the kind of thing that helps us. People know, ‘Oh ChickChickPorkPork? The owner is in the kitchen cooking.’” The Paulks want their customers to know and trust that their food will taste the same every time. As William was forced to adjust ChickChickPorkPork’s services during the COVID-19 pandemic, he looked to another local business for help. Auburn graduate Harrison Evola is the founder and CEO of FetchMe, the sole delivery service provider for ChickChickPorkPork. Evola started the company FetchMe his


Cheeto’s menu began with its ‘Cup Toasts,’ which consist of cheese toast in a cup.


William and Gio Paulk work with Harrison Evola to deliver their food around the Auburn-Opelika area.

junior year at Auburn and has helped many business owners navigate the hardships of the pandemic. “You can tell the amount of time and effort that went into making everything in the restaurant,” Evola said. “That’s what I was drawn to. You can tell it’s such a unique concept. All you have to do is take one look at the restaurant and you can tell how creative it is.” The Paulks and Evola have been working together for nearly two years now helping each other grow their businesses. “[William] said to me that he wanted to partner with [FetchMe] for delivery services because he wants to help us grow while we help him grow,” Evola said. “It’s kind of like two small businesses working together who benefit from working together also.” The hard work and dedication that William had to creating ChickChickPorkPork inspired Evola on his own journey as an entrepreneur. In the wake of the unanticipated spike in online-ordering and delivery services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FetchMe sought to help smaller businesses with their delivery needs through building

their websites. “All of a sudden, everybody just had to close down, and so many restaurants didn’t have a website, so they had to scramble to do curbside pick-up and some even tried to do their own deliveries,” Evola said. “I just knew that wasn’t going to work because I know how hard it is to scale something like that. So, we just started building websites and then that’s where [William and I] just further developed our relationship and partnership.” Evola has now created 12 websites for local businesses and created blogs in order to help those businesses promote their services. He wants to support the hard work of other small businesses like his own. “Just seeing all the hard work that was put into these restaurants, I feel like people have got to know that and they should see that,” Evola said. The pandemic was detrimental for many businesses but with the help of the City of Opelika and the support of other small businesses, ChickChickPorkPork prevailed. “With this pandemic, we still got through,” William said. “It was difficult, but we are here now.”


What to know for upcoming short-term rentals vote By CHARLIE RAMO Section Editor

The Auburn City Council will be voting on short-term rental regulations at its next meeting, changing what zones are allowed to have homestays and short-term non-primary rentals. What is a homestay? Homestays are rental properties that are also the homeowner’s primary residence. Under the proposed ordinance, the homeowner must live at the homestay for at least 180 consecutive days each year. The homestay cannot be rented out for more than 90 consecutive days without the owner present. What is a short-term non-primary rental? Short-term non-primary rentals are investment properties that are not the owner’s primary residence. Under the proposed ordinance, rentals must be less than 30 days at a time and the property cannot be rented out for more than 240 days per calendar year. What will change if the new ordinance passes? The ordinance being considered will allow homestays in all residential zones. Shortterm non-primary rentals will be allowed in all zones that allow five unrelated occupants per household and in the Rural zone. It also restricts the use of rental properties to only

lodging and eating, banning events such as weddings and parties. What is the difference between the original and the amended ordinances? The ordinance was amended to allow homestays in the Limited Development District, Neighborhood Conservation District, Development District Housing and Large Lot Residential District at the Council’s previous meeting. The amendment also reduced the number of complaints required to revoke a home occupation license from three to two. What happens if a homeowner loses their home occupation license? Any homeowner who receives two complaints or does not comply with regulations will lose their home occupation license. This will keep the house from being rented for the remainder of the year and the next year. Why are rentals being discussed now? Short-term rental regulations have not been updated since December 1999. In 2018, Mayor Ron Anders formed a Task Force to update short-term rental regulations and gather feedback from residents. When is the vote and how can I voice my opinion? The Council will vote on the amended ordinance during their March 16 meeting, which will also have a public hearing over Zoom. Registration to join the Zoom meeting and speak to the Council is available on the City’s website.


Proposed regulations will allow for permanent residences to be rented out up to 90 days a year.


The Auburn Plainsman



Aniah’s Law passes House, moves to Senate By EVAN MEALINS Managing Editor

A bill named in honor of Aniah Blanchard, the 19-year old Southern Union student who was kidnapped and murdered in 2019, passed the Alabama House of Representatives on Monday, Feb. 23. The bill now moves to the Alabama Senate. The bill, called “Aniah’s Law,” will allow judges to hold those accused of certain violent crimes in pre-trial detention without release on bail. Among the 13 crimes which the bill lists are murder, kidnapping, rape and burglary. Currently, the Alabama Constitution only allows bail to be denied to defendants if they are charged with a capital offense, and the “proof of guilt is evident or the presumption of guilt is great.” The House unanimously passed the legislation, consisting of two bills, House Bill 130

and House Bill 131. HB 131 contains the actual amendment to the Alabama Constitution that is required to enact the law, while HB 130 enumerates the offenses for which bail may be denied under the legislation. Rep. Joe Lovvorn, R-Auburn, is one of 27 sponsors of HB 131. Rep. Jeremy Gray, D-Opelika, signed on as one of over 80 cosponsors of the legislation. If Aniah’s Law passes the Senate, it will need to be approved by the people of Alabama in a general election. Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, said that he plans to vote in favor of Aniah’s Law when it is put to a vote in the Alabama Senate, like he did last year when Aniah’s Law passed the Senate but failed to pass the House of Representatives before the legislative session ended. “It’s a good bill; looking forward to supporting it and protecting the people of Lee County and the state of Alabama,” Whatley said.


The State House of Representatives approved Aniah’s Law on Feb. 23.


Bama Tracker compiles COVID-19 data for Alabama By CHRIS DIVELBISS Writer

As Alabama continues to fight against the spread of COVID-19, people are more reliant than ever on public health data to track daily cases and vaccines. One Alabama man has created Bama Tracker, a website dedicated to compiling this data all on one page. David Marconnet, a Huntsville native, has been keeping track of Alabama’s COVID-19 cases and data since March 2020, starting with the first few initial reports from the Alabama Department of Public Health. These initial charts were first posted on his personal website but were then expanded upon as time went on. “After a month of that, I had enough data and charts built that there was a whole website there,” Marconnet said. As people began to reach out expressing how helpful the website was, he was motivated to continue to expand and improve Bama Tracker into the site it is today. Now, Bama Tracker has appeared in multiple Alabama news outlets and has over 10,000 followers on Twitter. The project continues to be a solo

project for Marconnet, though he credits others for their guidance and feedback to help improve the site. “I can’t take 100% credit as to the way the site has matured, but I haven’t really needed any other help externally either,” he said. The website runs on scripts written by Marconnet that organize data from the ADPH into the charts and tables available on his website.

“The data coming from the state health department has been very reliable as far as them updating daily,” Marconnet said. While there have been some difficulties in getting more detailed data, Marconnet said it is important to “be patient” and let “the official source catch up to the desires that everyone has.” Some of the data must go through other organizations before being made

available to the public, he said. “There have been so many unknowns about how COVID-19 spreads, about how people get it,” Marconnet said. “And so, I think that [Alabama has] probably done the best they can do with so many unknowns. I have found their data has been very valuable and a lot of insights have been taken out of it. I am extremely thankful for the [ADPH] and their work.”


Photo illustration: Bama Tracker gets its data from the ADPH.

After the pandemic ends, Marconnet said he may transition to track other Alabama-related data. “The site is still very useful doing what it’s doing right now … I think the rest of the spring and summer will still be COVID related stuff,” Marconnet said. “The site could try to track data that might be valuable in other ways. I’ve toyed with the idea of doing weather or politics, but I really don’t know.” Alternatively, he may leave the site up as a remnant of the past in case anyone needs to look at past COVID-19 data. “A lot of people have found it to be helpful for their county… I’d like to believe it’s been a valuable useful thing during the pandemic,” Marconnet said. Based on the feedback that the site has gotten, it seems to have helped many across the state track COVID-19 on a community level, Marconnet said. “The goal was always to make it helpful and useful to people, and that hasn’t changed since the beginning,” Marconnet said. While the future of COVID-19 may be uncertain, Bama Tracker will continue to provide valuable information to the people of Alabama.

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sports THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2021



A blast from the past in Plainsman history


The Auburn Plainsman


Thank You...

to the editors By CHRISTIAN CLEMENTE

to the readers By JAKE WEESE Sports Editor

Assistant Sports Editor

As The Plainsman prepares to move to online-only, I want to thank the dedication, time and passion that previous editors have poured into The Plainsman. Without them, The Plainsman would not be what it is today. The Plainsman will no longer be printing a weekly edition, but that will not change the coverage we provide of Auburn and the content we continue to bring on a daily-basis at ThePlainsman.com. We’re able to put out that content because of the former editors. They laid the groundwork for us today and gave us the ability to succeed. The amount of work that editors put in behind the scenes can easily go unnoticed. From long days designing the paper to talking with writers about stories, being an editor isn’t easy. Specifically, I’d like to thank the previous sports editorial staff: Nathan King and Sumner Martin. Obviously all the editors make a huge impact on The Plainsman, and have from the very beginning, but these two had the biggest impact on me. When I joined The Plainsman I didn’t know what to expect. I wrote sports in high school, but I wasn’t sure what The Plainsman would be like. Nathan and Sumner helped get me in the swing of things and made it a point to help me and every writer on staff out. While they obviously had work of their own to do, they always made themselves available for the many questions I had and helped me become the writer I am today. I’ve got Nathan and Sumner to thank for the position I’m in today covering Auburn athletics. But along with them, I’ve got every past editor to thank, too. They created the foundation for The Plainsman today.

to the writers By KRISTEN CARR Writer

I have only been writing for the Plainsman for a month or two, but I cannot begin to describe how thankful I feel to have this opportunity to learn and grow in my field. The people who made this organization, who ran it, wrote for it, and sacrificed for it- those are the people who made The Auburn Plainsman what it is today. There might be one editor and one assistant editor in each section, but there are many writers. The writers are the backbone of this organization and it takes many hands and minds to put out the amazing work that The Plainsman has published over the years. So, to the former writers: your contribution and dedication to this place will always be remembered. All the hours that you put in and sacrificed are valued and we are so grateful to you for giving that to us. Your work to preserve both infamous moments and small victories have left a legacy that we are honored to continue. Even though we are no longer printing, the legacy that you started on the page is now growing and building to reach even more of our dedicated readers online. Your tireless work and vision has allowed us to build on your foundation. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

to the fans By MATTISON ALLEN Writer

Thank you to the Auburn fans. The definition of a fan is “a person who has a strong interest in or admiration for a particular person or thing.” Auburn fans take that to the next level. It’s more than admiration, it’s passion. The Auburn Plainsman is proud to fuel that passion because sports mean so much less without the fans. Auburn fans are much more than fans, they’re a family. The term Auburn family is more than a slogan. It’s a culture that has been created and that culture surrounds Auburn sports. That culture was rocked during the 2020, and now 2021, season. It truly showed the importance of Auburn fans. Stadiums, arenas and fields aren’t the same with limited attendance. The Auburn fans help bring the magic of sports to every game they attend. However, even with limited ability, Auburn fans did not let up. Whether it was the eagle flight on the Jordan-Hare video board or the lessened cheers of Boutta Getta in Auburn Arena, the fans remained passionate. Auburn fans remained heard even in the most unprecedented circumstances. We’re proud to cover sports that have so much passion behind them. Through every practice, press conference and game the fans are the driving force behind it all. Sports are all about the environment it’s played in and for Auburn, that environment is brought forth by the fans. As sportswriters for the Auburn Plainsman, we are thankful that even with moving online our job remains the same because we still get to cover and produce content for Auburn sports that are being fuled by passionate fans. Thank you for producing a great sports environment and for being a powerful force motivating us as writers to continue generating the best content we can for the sports you love.

to the players By CALEB JONES Sports Reporter

I’ve been at The Plainsman for three years and during that time, we have covered a Final Four, SEC Tournament champion and a 2019 Iron Bowl win. I have only covered one of those events, but every time I have seen someone ask for an old issue to hang up or keep for the memories, I take great pride in that. I still remember seeing the big pile of envelopes and stacks of issues after the SEC Tournament that were shipped out and delivered to our readers. While I have always taken pride in people wanting a piece of Auburn history from The Plainsman, it took on a deeper meaning when I became the sports editor. In September, Kristin Fucito, an Auburn alum, posted a photo on Twitter of some of the most memorable Plainsman covers in recent history all hung up on her wall. All of these covers can be seen on page 8. We just had started putting out the paper during that time, and none of Auburn’s teams had played a game that fall. Kristin’s photo was a good reminder for Christian and I that our pages each week had an impact. The other reminder came this month, the day after we learned that we would no longer be printing. Daniel Dupoux, an Auburn alum, reached out and was hoping to pick up the Final Four and SEC Tournament Championship issues. We had some extra copies in the office, and he came by to pick them up. While I was still disappointed about the news from the day before, it reminded us that even if we aren’t printing, The Plainsman’s legacy continues. So thank you to our readers for going above and beyond with your support. You don’t just read our section; you also help make it what it is. This will be a new era at The Plainsman, and while it will be an adjustment, we will strive to continue to provide the same content that you have come to expect from us.

to the coaches By DYLAN FOX Writer

Thank you to the Auburn coaches. Thank you for allowing us incredible access to your team. You have dedicated your careers to making your team better, both on the field and off. Through challenges, tough losses, and heartbreak, you will always be there to give an incredible insight, inspiring us as student writers. When I first joined The Plainsman, I was asked to cover a game for the women’s basketball team. I had never watched the sport, knew nothing of the team, and wandered around Auburn Arena because I wasn’t exactly sure where to go. Despite a tough loss to Florida, I was amazed at Coach Flo’s defense, using an incredibly harsh defensive press all the way up the court. I had never seen anything like it. After the game, I asked Flo “Will you continue using the defense as the season goes on?” Despite mocking her team’s identity after a bad loss, she didn’t chide me, laugh, or even smile at Unique next to her. She simply told me “That’s what this team is.” Looking back on that moment, I knew that she very easily could have scolded me for asking such a dumb question, but she didn’t. She knew that I was there trying my hardest to cover my team. And despite the troubles they’ve had, there’s no other team I’d rather cover. Ever since then, I’ve had nothing but positive interactions with the coaches that I’ve spoken with. Thank you to Flo, Bruce, Gus, Mickey, Butch, Bryan, and all the coaches and assistants I’ve had the pleasure speaking to. Thank you for respecting us, helping us learn, and helping us follow our passion.

to the photographers By HENRY ZIMMER Writer

Over my four years at the Plainsman, I have met and encountered so many people wonderful people. I could thank dozens of athletes, coaches and Plainsman staff members along the journey. I really want to thank the unsung heroes of the Plainsman: the photographers. The photography section does amazing work at the newspaper, grabbing the pictures that make my stories worth clicking on. Guys like Josh Fisher do thankless work day in and day out, grabbing moments in time that we can look back on and remember forever. Working at the Plainsman is a collaborative effort, between those putting actions to words and those capturing the actions in a still frame forever. It is one thing to talk about Seth Williams mossing a defensive back in the endzone. I could put to words as best I could to describe him ripping the ball away from someone or jumping, what seems like, 10-feet in the air. To have that accompanying picture however, is priceless. Sometimes, the photos provided by the photographers are the whole story. And for that, I thank them. I could never do your job. I can hardly use my own iPhone camera properly. My Plainsman journey has been enhanced by you guys. Thank you.

As this final edition of The Auburn Plainsman hits the printing press and is delivered on Thursday morning, by people like me, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you to all the Auburn athletes who we’ve interviewed over the years for sharing the moments we all remember, through your own eyes. Things have changed a lot in the last year. We’re not conducting interviews from places like the press room in Auburn Arena, that Samir Doughty once said “Smells like fish,” (I agree, it did). We’re not in the room under the student section in Jordan Hare Stadium after the Iron Bowl, talking to Anders Carlson about his “Whistle kick.” Rather we’re on Zoom, where Annie Hughes can draw notes on a whiteboard off-screen to distract Coach Flo from her postgame interviews. Even through a global pandemic that has forced everyone to adapt their everyday lives, one thing has remained constant since I became a sportswriter: the athletes have always been kind and honest to the media. So thank you, Auburn athletes, current and former, for sharing your perspective, your kindness and for making my job never boring. It’s been a surreal experience seeing my work printed in this newspaper and while I may not hold another fresh, physical copy of The Auburn Plainsman after this week, I’ll certainly hold onto the memories.

to the SIDs By JONATHAN HART Writer

As this final print edition of The Auburn Plainsman comes together and makes its way to the presses, it gives us a good opportunity to look back on all the work that got us here, not only by editors and writers, but by the people behind the scenes in the athletics department that helped us have the opportunity to write these stories. Writing for the sports section of The Auburn Plainsman has been a privilege in every way. It has not only given all of us a chance to write about the sports, teams, players, coaches, games and moments we love, but has also given us the chance to meet amazing people who, much like us, are Auburn men and women who love Auburn with all their heart. These SIDs have always helped to make our jobs possible, and the constant communication and support in every sport allowed us to capture moments both personal and public, big and small, exciting and touching. The love they have for their jobs, the teams and this University shows in everything they do, and they exemplify the meaning of the Auburn Creed. When the pandemic made entire seasons an uncertainty, they helped to provide ways for our staff to attend events and cover stories so that we might maintain the excellent standard we strive for here at The Plainsman. To all of the SIDs here at Auburn, without you, these past months would not have been possible. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and you will always have a special place in the heart of everyone here at The Plainsman.

for the moments By LARRY ROBINSON Writer

Thank you Auburn for the countless memories. Sports fans across the world will forever remember Auburn when they think of the most memorable plays and games in the sports’ history. From the infamous Kick Six to upsetting No. 1 ranked Alabama and Georgia in back to back games, Auburn stays relevant year in and year out in the conversation for some of the most memorable sports moments in history. In 2013, an unranked Auburn team was down by one point at home to Georgia late in the 4th quarter. On what looked to be an end-of-the-game hail mary on fourth-down, two Georgia defenders tipped the pass directly into Ricardo Louis’ hands for the game winning touchdown. More recently, the Auburn men’s basketball team’s historic Final Four run was cut short after an uncalled double-dribble led to an ensuing 3 made free throws to beat the Tigers. Not to take away from the daunting task of beating Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky back-to-back-toback to reach that point. In 2019, Jordan-Hare stadium erupted into screams of joy and amazement after No. 5 ranked Alabama’s late game-tying field goal doinked off of the upright. Jordan-Hare was once again stormed that night in celebration. As The Plainsman closes out its print section with the last print paper on Thursday, we wanted to give these memories their due respect and recognition because, quite frankly, they have shaped Auburn into what it is today and given us as a paper things to write about. Without Cam Newton’s season-long record setting performance, does Auburn win its first national championship in 53 years? Without the miracle in Jordan-Hare, does Auburn reach its second SEC championship game in 3 years? Without the Final Four run and winning the SEC tournament, does Sharife Cooper see Auburn as a possible future home? Without half of these memories, would you still be in Auburn right now? So, thank you Auburn, and thank you for the many memories yet to come.







Businesses keep community during COVID By BECCA BENNER Writer

Local Auburn businesses are working to keep a sense of community with their customers despite the ongoing pandemic. Cat Coffee and Whistle Stop Bottle and Brew both have found COVID-safe ways to promote customer engagement. Abigail Horn, general manager at Coffee Cat, said baristas spend time with their customers. They also have the “Bookshop Pop Up” hosted by local author and storyteller, Pascha Adamo, she said. “The ‘Bookshop Pop Up’ will provide the community an opportunity to expand their personal library with more diverse options …” Adamo said. Horn said the “Bookshop Pop Up” was to raise awareness about the bookstore, raise book sales and build community. Adamo recently started an online bookstore, REPINSITY, in October 2020 to offer more representation, inclusion and diversi-

ty in children’s literature. She also reads several selections for Coffee Cat’s Storytime. “Each book in the REPINSITY Bookstore is carefully chosen to help readers of all ages discover and learn about people, cultures, experiences, places and events different than their own,” Adamo said. Madeleine Corbeau, owner of Coffee Cat, said having Adamo’s Storytime has been well received by the community “Adamo is able to easily capture, hold and entertain the attention of a group of children,” she said. “Even parents have commented on how much they enjoy listening to her read.” The “Pop Up Bookshop” was held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. outside of the Coffee Cat with Storytime at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6. “We are excited to be able to offer this fun and safe event for the community,” Adamo said. Corbeau said Coffee Cat is slowly but

surely making its way back to hosting events. “Our hope in hosting this specific event [was] to help an active member of our community spread wisdom and a love of learning to children,” she said. Coffee Cat has looked to other avenues to engage with customers as well, Corbeau said. “We are making better use of our social media platforms to virtually introduce and praise our staff, loyal customers and vendors,” she said. The Whistle Stop Bottle and Brew in Opelika recently started a puzzle and book exchange. Scott Brown, owner of Whistle Stop Bottle and Brew, said the exchange was his wife’s idea and they are still working on making it what they want it to be. For now, the puzzles and books remain in the store and they are making sure to keep the business as clean as possible, he said. “Feel free to come down anytime to look around,” Brown said.


Coffee Cat hosted “Pop Up Bookshop” with an emphasis on providing children’s literature that reflects diversity.


Be Well Hut promotes Love Your Body Week By EMERY LAY Writer


COVID has increased concerns about eating disorders.

In recent years, there has been a spark in conversation over body positivity. More social media influencers, models, actors and the like have all come out to share their experience with their individual journeys. Just as our bodies evolve with age, so has the conversation on body positivity. To join in the conversation, Auburn’s Be Well Hut virtually celebrates Love Your Body Week from Feb. 22-26. Be Well Hut held a Zoom event on Tuesday and are posting to their socia media throughout the week. This event happens annually on the last week in February. Designated by the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), it brings attention to eating disorders through a

plethora of activities scattered throughout the week. The goal is to celebrate recovery, while simultaneously shedding light on ongoing disorders. “Eating disorders have one of the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric disorder, so we want to bring as much awareness as we can,” said Abbigail Hickey, coordinator of Nutrition Services, a registered dietitian and supervisor for Love Your Body Week. This year, she said the pandemic has made this week more vital due to the extra stress and the impact of quarantine. “COVID-19 has been hard on all of us, but we are seeing a rise in eating disorders and poor body image as a result of COVID, just like we are seeing a rise in other mental illnesses,” Hickey said. She said isolation only increases the severity of the problem. As students experienced

quarantine, the issues with eating disorders only seemed to rise. “A lot of times, eating disorders are a way to cope with really tough things,” Hickey said. “So, we are definitely seeing the impacts as students work through the events of the past year.” In an effort to abide by COVID guidelines, most events will remain virtual. One of the main events, Auburn Body Positive, occurred on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 3:30 p.m. For this event, a presentation was hosted over Zoom that focused on having a more positive body image through the lens of nutrition and mental health. Hickey said they hope students walk away from the week with three practical takeaways—first and foremost, to seek help. “We have a treatment team at Auburn dedicated to helping

students heal from their eating disorder, disordered eating or poor body image,” Hickey said. She encourages students to contact Student Counseling & Psychological Services for any help. Second, for those on the outside looking in, Hickey encourages students to lovingly support those who may be suffering from an eating disorder. “Supporting friends and loved ones that are struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating is vital for their recovery,” she said. “Ask how they are feeling and how you can support them.” Finally, recovery is possible. “Eating disorders can feel very heavy, but having a full and normal life after an eating disorder is 100% possible,” Hickey said. Love Your Body Week is here to help with just that, she said.


Wildlife student documents biodiversity with art By ABIGAIL WOODS Writer

Kayleigh Chalkowski is a fourthyear doctoral student studying wildlife science in the School of Forestry and Wildlife. She does research on how invasive species movements drive infectious disease dynamics. However, Chalkowski also runs a small business called Ecology Illustrated. “In my art, I illustrate ecological interactions and the beauty of biodiversity, especially endemic island fauna,” she said. Chalkowski’s passion for ecology and wildlife has taken her to many different places including Borneo, Hawaii and Madagascar. “I have a thing for biodiverse tropical islands,” she said. Growing up in a small, rural town in the Helderberg Mountains, New York, on a 30-acre plot of woods, she spent much of her childhood looking for snakes under rocks, identifying mushroom species and helping her mom propagate native plants. Coming from a largely working-class family, Chalkowski was not aware that pursuing a career was accessible to her at first. She began her college education at a local community college where she was “pursuing a career option that seemed more practical.” After taking an ornithology class there, Chalkowski realized that this was where her interests lay. “I worked hard and transferred to Cornell University a year later, and the rest is history,” she said. In regards to her business, Ecology Illustrated, Chalkowski said the name reminds her of what she aims to do in her artwork. She strives to tell stories in her art about animals and the envi-

ronment they live in. “I’m not above just illustrating a beautiful animal for the sake of communicating that beauty, but I really enjoy portraying species interacting with each other: predation, symbioses, invasions, competitive interactions,” she said. Chalkowski has always had a passion for drawing and can remember loving it as early as elementary school. Similar to the research that she conducts, drawing is one of the ways she expresses her fascination with the natural world. As she does enjoy drawing plants too. Chalkowski said she is biased towards drawing animals. The detail involved in fur and feathers is something that she likes to replicate. “I tend towards focused, up-close portraits as well, perhaps for the opportunity to really zero in on the subject’s expression and finer textures and features,” she said. Chalkowski used to work with oil paint, but for convenience, she has switched to ink and paper. Recently, she has started doing digital illustrations with Adobe Illustrator, Procreate and Adobe Fresco. Although Chalkowski has done many drawings, she has a few favorites. Her favorite drawing, “Mōlī Days,” from 2016, is a portrait of one of the Laysan albatross chicks that she visited weekly on regular nest checks. “Somehow they embody this contradictory aura of goofy, meditative, cranky, endearing, dumbfounded, and wise beyond their years all in a single glance,” she said. A second favorite drawing titled “Ring-tailed Vontsira,” from 2021, is an illustration of a ring-tailed vontsira getting ready to capture an invasive Rattus norvegicus. Chalkowski said she believes it embodies what she tries


Chalkowki draws the animals she comes across during her research as a wildlife science student.

to do in her work by “communicating ecological interactions while also highlighting the beauty of species that people may be less familiar with.” For the third and final favorite, Chalkowski created “Pure Sass” in 2016. This illustration is of a Hawaiian Moorhen jumping out of the water and leaping at a Hawaiian Coot. “I used to see this all the time while surveying taro fields at Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge,” she said. Chalkowski said she is most inspired when she is outside in nature. “I was actually supposed to start field research in Madagascar under a Fulbright fellowship this past October, but it’s been pushed back to November 2021,” Chalkowski said. Danya Weber, conservation biologist in Oahu, Hawaii, met Chalkowski while working with endangered species on Kauai. “Kayleigh’s artwork captures the personalities of wildlife that most people will never get the chance to see in-person,” Weber said. Through her artwork, people be-

come more familiar with endangered species and learn about their lifestyle and behavior. “Kayleigh is a mega-smart lady who has a passion for showcasing the natural world,” Weber said. “Her passions for art and science blend together beautifully in her paintings.” Llana Nimz, ecologist at Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge from Honolulu, Hawaii, met Chalkowski in 2014 while working for conservation organizations in Kauai. The organizations focused on recovering endangered bord populations. Chalkowski was working for the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project and Nimz was with the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project. Chalkowski later joined the seabird team where they connected through art and science. “I’ve assisted with a couple of her art projects in Honolulu, including helping with installing her solo art show Field Notes and with painting street art in Chinatown which brings awareness to native waterbirds,”

Nimz said. Nimz’s favorite project they did together was create an ocean-themed coffee table with all of their friends on Kauai. Nimz describes Chalkowski’s art style as instantly recognizable. The art is both bold and organic and reflects her work in conservation, Nimz said. “I am constantly impressed with Kayleigh, as both a scientist and artist,” she said. “She has a knack for communicating science in an engaging way through her artwork.” Chalkowski said although people may be surprised by her having an interest in both art and science, she feels they are more similar than most think. “Rather, I see illustration and scientific research as different mediums in pursuit of a deeper understanding of the natural world, she said. “They actually require many of the same skills: observation, patience, critical thinking and creativity, among others.” To look at the work Chalkowski has done, she can be found on Instagram.

The Auburn Plainsman





Bluiett’s piece “La Femme” won first place in the artwork contest hosted by AUBGPA.


Bell’s piece “Prayer Is Freedom and Joy” won second place in the artwork contest hosted by AUBGPA.

Student-artists paint in the name of BLM By ABIGAIL MURPHY Section Editor

As Black Lives Matter saw an increase in media coverage over the past year, Black creators have taken to art to celebrate their race and speak out against racial oppression. In honor of Black History Month and Black Lives Matter, Auburn University Black Graduate and Professional Association held an artwork contest on Feb. 5. The topic of the contest was Black Liberation, Joy and Resiliency. Nylah Bluiett, first place winner and freshman in apparel design, said she is glad her artwork is apart of this conversation on confronting racial issues. “I think that [Black Lives Matter] is just amplifying the voices of those who have been silenced for a long time,” she said. Bluiett’s piece “La Femme” was focused on celebrating West African culture and the beauty of

Black women. “I really just was inspired to do something that showed off African culture and that’s what I was trying to exemplify with the headscarf and just all the beautiful patterns and colors,” she said. The woman in her work is one of her best friends who wears a lot of African garbs. Bluiett said she was inspired by both her friend’s fashion style and the clothing of African culture. She started “La Femme” as an advanced placement art project with her concentration in fashion illustration through different cultures. Bluiett said she looked at different patterns as inspiration for her piece and kept certain motifs that mimicked West African culture, but ultimately, she created her own pattern. For the contest, she finished and refined the piece before submitting it. She said with the portrait being done in pen she chose to do the fabrics in watercolor to create a more vibrant artwork. With the wide range of issues being discussed

with BLM, she said she made the title “The Woman” to keep the subject’s identity vague in order to signify Black women as a whole rather than single in on an individual’s experience or expression. “I just wanted to show the beauty and simplicity of a Black woman,” Bluiett said. Sharisma Bell, second place winner and master’s student in higher education, said she feels BLM is allowing for the visibility and recognition of historic and modern racism. “For so long we felt like we didn’t matter or were overlooked or were put down or segregated or hanged and everything just because of the color of our skin,” she said. “How can someone be upset because we were born Black? That blows my mind every day.” Bell said most of her works highlight Black women. “I am a Black woman,” Bell said. “I love painting Black women. I love putting Black women in


all types of facets of life, and usually each Black woman I draw there’s just something unique about her, whether that’s hair or lips or something she is doing.” In her artwork, Bell said she likes to write words or messages on the painting. For this piece, four letters were written on the left-hand side: p-r-a-y. “I love to pray,” she said. “I pray every day: morning, noon, night, walking, watching TV. Whenever I want to talk to God I just pray.” Bell said she believes prayer can be a vital part of working through the Black struggle, specifically among those enslaved throughout history. Her piece was titled “Prayer Is Freedom and Joy.” Bell said much of that is because prayer allows her to release anxiety, to re-center herself and find joy in knowing her prayers give her freedom. “Just continue to pray, and when you open your eyes everything will be OK,” she said.


Poke bowls come to Auburn By SOPHIE GOODWIN Writer


On Random Acts of Kindness Day, Cater Hall had a booth out front to write letters and make notes of encouragement.

Honors College celebrates Random Acts of Kindness Day By ABBY WINSKOWICZ Writer

During the rush of midterms, giving a helping hand or a smile can go a long way. On Feb. 17 the Honors College celebrated National Random Acts of Kindness Day. Taylor Mitchell, coordinator of campus and community events for the Honors College, said the event was a collaboration between the Honors College and Honors Serves. It was hosted outside of Cater Hall. Mitchell said the inspiration for the event came from recognizing the difficulty of the past year. The Honors College felt that students needed a pick-me-up to brighten their days and spread the love with their fellow students. Mitchell said the event had two main projects. First, was a letter-writing station where students wrote a note to a friend, roommate or professor. “Some students even wrote notes to leave on the table for their peers to find later,” she said The second event was a “wall of encouragement.” She said for this event, students would leave a pos-

itive message on the wall and then take a message that resonated with them in a positive way. “This station was my favorite as it was so sweet to see students leaving notes for one another,” Mitchell said. “We also passed out goody bags full of snacks.” You never know what someone else is going through, she said. It is important for us to become more intentional about connecting with others. Mitchell said this event gave students an opportunity to serve with one another and encourage each other. “There is always room to be kind,” Mitchell said. Mitchell said she hopes students left the event inspired to go put a smile on someone’s face. Sara Matthews, president of Honors Serves, said random acts of kindness are a way to show people we care. “I think random acts of kindness are important because it can potentially make someone’s day better,” she said. “We never know what could be going on in someone else’s life, so doing something as simple as leaving an encouraging note can leave a big im-

pact.” Matthews said the event was important for this year because of the barriers the pandemic has caused to create connections. “This past school year has been very different from previous ones, so we wanted to give students the chance to continue connecting with each other while still being safe,” she said. Matthews said spreading kindness does not always have to be a huge gesture. You can simply compliment a stranger or help a friend with homework. “If students want to continue spreading kindness and getting involved in the Auburn community, community service is a great way to do this,” Matthews said. “Any honors students interested in finding a volunteer project can join Honors Serves on AUInvolve.” Other ideas to participate in random acts of kindness, in general, are to pay for the person in front of you in line, give an unexpected compliment to someone, pick up litter on campus, pick up flowers for your friends, leave an encouraging note on a desk or car, donate to a local fundraiser and to be kind to yourself.

A month before the pandemic hit the U.S., Eric Choi and his brother, Inseok Jang, decided to open up a restaurant that they saw a market for in the Auburn-Opelika area. Since then, their decision to open a quick serving poke and ramen restaurant called Pokémen, they have continued their restaurant despite the barriers the pandemic may have brought. Although poké is a Hawaiian dish, Eric Choi, the manager of Pokémen, said he has noticed that many Japanese restaurants around serve poké. He also observed a gap in the market for a quick-eats stop for poké and ramen bowls, he said. “Our restaurant is not [a] fine dining restaurant,” Choi said. “We tried to make it simple for the trend because even if there was no pandemic our restaurant is 50% to-go orders.” Although they offer other Japanese foods such as dumplings and ramen, poké bowls are their most popular dishes, Choi said. Pokemon serves five different types of ramen bowls, in-

cluding udon, and customizable poke bowls. Since poke bowls are made up of fresh fish and vegetables, Choi said the restaurant is preparing food up to four times a day. “The customers see, our station is open,” Choi said. If seeing the fresh fish and vegetables being prepared wasn’t enough, Choi said that he eats from the restaurant almost every day. “I still have a poké bowl and a ramen bowl every day,” Choi said. He said that there are so many options when creating a poké bowl that it can be different every day. Choi said he has some daily or regular customers that choose to eat most of their lunches or meals from Pokémen as well. Choi mentioned wanting to put new dishes on the menu when possible. “My brother and I are trying to make another recipe,” Choi said. He hopes to bring stir-fry noodles or Japanese chicken katsu to the menu in the future if possible. Pokémen is located on Frederick Road near Opelika and offers curbside pick up and delivery.


Pokémen is a quick-serve option for poké bowls and ramen bowls.

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