Volume 97, Issue 2
Sept. 20-Oct. 24, 2021
BLACKED OUT University redactions hide information from Title IX records
2 TABLE OF CONTENTS
CITY OF BOWLING GREEN ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR THE FOLLOWING PART-TIME POSITIONS • Fitness Instructor • Recreation Staff Assistant II • School Crossing Guards • Park Attendants • Landscape Helper • Athletic Staff Assistant I - PBCC • Volleyball Supervisor
• • • • • • • • •
Umpires Scorekeepers Laborers Greenskeeper Park Ranger Lacrosse Referee Golf Shop Attendant Sub Fitness Instructor Police Cadet
Sept. 20-Oct. 24, 2021 Redacted sexual misconduct files obsecure nearly a decade of university Title IX actions
Redacted sexual misconduct files obsecure nearly a decade of university Title IX actions
By Lily Burris and Debra Murray
By Lily Burris and Debra Murray
Redacted sexual misconduct files obsecure nearly a decade of university Title IX actions By Lily Burris and Debra Murray
On-campus students experience maintenance issues in several residence halls
Building names called into question, risk of “financial harm” trumped concerns
By Madison Carter
By Michael Crimmins
Academy in Action By Keilen Fraizer
All qualified applicants will recieve consideration for employment without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability. The City of Bowling Green is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Drug-Free Workplace.
WKU fails to deilver promised transparency
By Herald Editorial Board
Interested applicants can apply online at www.bgky.org/hr/jobs or at the Human Resources Department in City Hall, 1001 College St, Bowling Green.
By Allie Hendricks
WKU Athletics soars in first month of fall play
By Drew Teonnies
Rushing the exit doors: Who is leaving C-USA? By Jake Moore
WKU professor breaks down allure of sports betting
WKU students and the joy of fantasy football
By Joseph Thompson III
By Lynda Eernisse
Cover photo illustration by Allie Hendricks
Sept. 20-Oct. 24, 2021
Redacted sexual misconduct files obsecure nearly a decade of university Title IX actions By Lily Burris and Debra Murray
After a four-year legal battle and a Supreme Court decision in a similar case, WKU released nearly a decade’s worth of sexual misconduct records this summer in response to a Herald open records request filed in 2016 and another earlier this year. Files from both responses, a total of 39 investigations, were released but heavily redacted. In 27 cases, covering allegations of sexual misconduct lodged against faculty or other employees from 2011 through 2020, the university concluded that the incidents did not violate WKU’s Title IX policy. Those claims involved both students and WKU employees and ranged from possible homophobic job denial to what the person felt was excessive touching. WKU found, in nine cases, enough evidence that resulted in the resignation or retirement of faculty or staff members, effectively ending the investigation before a formal conclusion. This included a case of a male staff member threatening to place holds on a female student’s TopNet account, blocking her from registering for classes, in exchange for going on dates. In three cases, enough evidence was found to fire or discontinue the employees. Michael Abate, the Herald’s attorney at the Kaplan Johnson Abate & Bird law firm in Louisville, contends that the records WKU released were “seriously over-redacted.” Abate said the Herald is in the process of disputing those redactions and may ask the courts to resolve the dispute. In the original Nov. 1, 2016, open records request, the Herald asked for all investigative records for all Title IX investigations into all sexual misconduct allegations against WKU employ-
ees in the last five years. This request was mirrored in spring 2021 when WKU began to fulfill the original request. WKU initially rejected the 2016 request by citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The Herald appealed the decision to Kentucky’s attorney general, who oversees public access laws. The then Attorney General, now Governor Andy Beshear ruled WKU was in violation of the Kentucky Open Records Act and ordered WKU to turn over the documents. Instead, WKU sued the Herald in Warren County Circuit Court in February 2017 in a case that still has not been resolved 4½ years later. In a similar case where the University of Kentucky refused to turn over sexual misconduct records to the Kentucky Kernel, the university student newspaper, the state Supreme Court in March ruled in favor of the publication. The court opinion said UK could not use FERPA as an “invisibility cloak” to hide all documents involved or associated with students. The federal law does indicate FERPA should be used to protect students’ educational records. Abate said “a requester is entitled to everything in the file not specifically exempt” and WKU cannot use FERPA to redact information about employees. The university is required to provide an index of reasons for their redactions. While WKU did provide an index, Abate disputes whether many of the redactions were permissible under the Open Records Act. After the UK decision, WKU decided to begin turning over the 20112016 records to the Herald, releasing redacted records over the next few months. In turn, the Herald made an identical request for records of such cases from 2016-2021.
With the redactions, Abate said things appear to be missing from the files. The biggest one is the names of faculty and staff accused of wrongdoing, even if the claim is not found to be a violation of university policy. Abate said there is controlling case law that entitles the public to the names and handlings of the accusations. “In many instances, the university also redacted key substantive details of the allegations that make it difficult to know what actually happened,” Abate said. “Several files appear to be missing documentation contained in almost all other files. And in some places the redactions are not clearly explained, so it’s impossible to know exactly what has been withheld.” In a document outlining its reasons for redactions, WKU said it was following the ruling of the Supreme Court, federal privacy regulations and, on cases where no violations were found, a 2020 attorney general’s opinion. For the public to have confidence in the safety of the campus community, Abate said, they must know these allegations are being handled seriously and appropriately. “Public universities simply cannot be permitted to sweep serious allegations under the rug or quietly push policy violators out the door to other institutions where they might offend again,” Abate said. “Unfortunately, the facts that have come to light from the Herald’s reporting show that pattern of behavior is all too common among universities.”
‘In the Dark’
On May 4, 2017, the Herald published “In the Dark,” an in-depth report in which former Herald staffer
Story continues on page 4 Nicole Ares reported on more than 1,200 pages of records obtained through public records requests to all eight public Kentucky universities. Six of the eight universities provided records at the time, with only WKU and Kentucky State University denying the request. Ares’ story detailed violations at Northern Kentucky University, Eastern Kentucky University and Murray State University. At the time Andrea Anderson, who was then Title IX coordinator and now WKU’s general counsel, told Ares that WKU had six investigations that resulted in violations of the university’s misconduct policy.
Title IX policy
Deborah Wilkins, WKU’s Title IX coordinator who at the time of the Herald’s 2016 request was general counsel, said Title IX discrimination includes sexual harassment and assault, domestic violence and stalking. Wilkins said this policy is not a complaint process, but is more of a services process.
What is Title IX? Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” In effect, it protects anyone involved in an education institution that receives federal funding from any kind of discrimination or harassment based on the person’s sex.
Sept. 20-Oct. 24, 2021 Story continued from page 3
When WKU’s Title IX office talks about an investigation, Wilkins said, investigators try to use neutral language. The person who filed the report is referred to as the complainant. The person accused in the report is called the respondent. “When we get a report, the first thing we do, whether it’s an employee or a student, is [ask] what can we do to assist this person?” Wilkins said. “What services can we do to help them get on track? Get comfortable? Respond to their needs?” These services are about bringing back the sense of safety and security the complainant had before, Wilkins said. This might include changing a student’s residence hall, prohibiting someone from entering a residence hall or getting the student from a class. The majority of reports the Title IX office receives come from a student about another student. These reports then involve employees in the Office of Student Conduct such as Michael Crowe, director, or Melanie Evans, coordinator. Other reports to the Title IX office involve employees, like the ones the Herald requested. The cases are handled by the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action/University ADA Services, where Joshua Hayes is director, Title IX deputy/investigator and university ADA coordinator. Hayes declined to be interviewed. After a complainant files a report and immediate services have been administered, Wilkins said, she is obligated under law to ask the person if they want to file a complaint and have their case formally investigated. Wilkins said they treat each report like it’s going to be a complaint, but it’s not their top priority. “My priority is to help them first,” Wilkins said. Once a report is made to the Title IX office against an employee, Wilkins reaches out to the complainant to speak with them about the issue.
Whether or not the complainant responds, Wilkins and Hayes begin an investigation into the complaint if it’s about an employee, a new step as of August 2020. When Wilkins speaks with a complainant, she asks them if there were any witnesses they want the office to reach out to, which they will have the opportunity to add later. The complainant will be asked if they want an adviser to help them through the process. After the complainant has spoken with the Title IX office, Wilkins will offer them a copy of the transcript of their conversation to review and edit before officially adding it to the file. Simultaneously, Wilkins and Hayes then reach out to the director of the area of the university where the respondent worked, assuming the complaint is not against the director, and inform them that a complaint has been filed against one of their employees. They ask the director to make sure the parties are not in close contact or sharing responsibilities. Next, they interview the respondent against whom the report was filed to hear their version of events. They too are offered an adviser and asked for their list of witnesses. The respondent may say the opposite of what the student says and they are also allowed to review their statement. If there are videos, messages or emails that can be provided as evidence to the case, Wilkins said she and Hayes would also review those as a part of this process. Hayes and Wilkins then start talking to witnesses and having them review their statements for the investigation. This can take varying lengths of time, depending on the size of the department, how many witnesses there are and how fast they respond. Once the file is completed, it is shared with the complainant and respondent. They may have nothing to add to it. “Then Josh and I will determine, do we think there’s a likelihood the policy
has been violated?” Wilkins said. “Is there enough here to have a hearing?” Another change since August 2020 is that if there is an employee involved in a complaint, there will be a hearing with an outside officer from the state Council on Postsecondary Education unless the allegation turns out to be entirely without foundation. Wilkins said an example would be if there was an allegation of an incident that happened on campus and the accused employee was proven to be in California at the time. During this process, an employee respondent can decide to resign or retire. If they do, then the investigation stops and that will be noted in the record. Wilkins said this stops with retirement or resignation because the university essentially loses jurisdiction. If the hearing officer decides the respondent has violated Title IX policy, the office issues a notice. Then the respondent’s department head and the vice president of the division where the respondent works have 10 days to decide how they’re going to address it and inform WKU’s Title IX office, another new step as of August 2020. WKU requires any employee who hears of sexual misconduct to report it to the Title IX office, even if it doesn’t involve them or their work, but does not expect the person making such a report to verify that the incident actually occurred. “Basically, what I’m hammering on them is you don’t have to investigate,
Who can file a Title IX report? Anyone, not just the victim, can file a report of a sexual misconduct incident involving students or employees at WKU. Under WKU’s Title IX policy, all employees are “mandatory reporters,” meaning that they are obligated to inform the Title IX office if they hear of anything that could be considered sexual misconduct involving other employees or students.
you don’t have to determine if it’s true,” Wilkins said. “Just call us and we’ll determine if it’s true and you can go on your way.”
Title IX changes
On Aug. 14, 2020, new federal Title IX regulations took effect. “In my mind, the biggest change was the fact that if it involves an employee, there is a hearing,” Wilkins said. This means that with every Title IX report that comes in involving an employee, the office has to do a full investigation. “If there’s evidence to show that it’s more likely than not that a violation occurred, we will have a hearing,” Wilkins said. Reports that only involve students can end or be resolved without a hearing. For each report involving an employee, the hearing officer for the case is a neutral person from the state Council on Postsecondary Education. This hearing officer will hear from the complainant, respondent, any witness and the investigators before deciding if the policy or policies in question were violated. Before August 2020, those matters were handled within the university. After the hearing officer makes a decision, the complainant or the respondent can appeal it and then a new hearing officer will make a new decision. However, no one else can appeal the decision. The respondent’s supervisor is not allowed to disagree and ignore it. Wilkins said WKU has not, as of yet, had an occasion that would need a hearing officer from the CPE. “The other thing that was part of the changes in federal law was that if you’re an employee and you have an investigation pending against you, you can’t resign or retire,” Wilkins
Sept. 20-Oct. 24, 2021 dual from quitting a job, but the new regulations require us to note on that employee’s permanent records, employment records that they resigned or retired under an investigation.” Before, there was no requirement for a former employer to disclose if the person under consideration for a job had left their previous position under a Title IX investigation. Potential new employers only knew of that if they asked. It is now required to disclose if someone left under investigation in a job recommendation. Wilkins said the people hiring the respondent do have to reach out to the university and ask about them, and if they do, their former supervisor must tell them about the investigation. If a student leaves under an investigation, that is also noted on their permanent record. Wilkins said if a student or an employee leaves the university, WKU loses jurisdiction over the process. “We can’t force people who are no longer associated with us to come back and go through the processes,” Wilkins said. From the case files the Herald received through open records requests, several of the cases appear to have ended because the employee left the university. Amid the Title IX policy changes, there is also now a requirement for the supervisors of the employee who is found to violate the policy to report back to the Title IX office in writing their decision on what to do within 10 days. “When you’re forced to look at objective decision making and make your own decision and sign your name to it, it makes it a little harder to excuse bad behavior,” Wilkins said. The decision about consequences for the respondent goes to the supervisor and the vice president of their division because they are responsible for the people who report to them. Wilkins said they should be a part of this process.
Story continued from page 4 “It holds them accountable in two ways — one, accountable to address the bad behavior that’s already happened, and it also makes them aware that they’re also going to be held accountable for future bad behavior,” Wilkins said. She said that in the past, supervisors have asked Title IX what they thought about the situation and asked for advice. At the WKU level, Wilkins said some minor change to the Title IX policy should be going to the president’s cabinet this week. This includes adding prevention of LGBTQ discrimination.
39 Files - the breakdown
Out of 39 cases the Herald received, five files had male complainants, 31 files had female complainants, two files had complainants from two genders and one case file’s complainant gender could not be determined. There were 36 case files with male respondents and 3 case files with female respondents. The records show that the university found violations of the Title IX policy in 12 of the 39 cases WKU investigated. WKU did not redact the names of faculty or staff members who were found to have violated the policy in those instances. The files varied in size ranging from 15 pages to 293, totaling to 5,884 pages, varying based on the number of witnesses interviewed, evidence and who handled the case. “The only difference, and this is very innocent, is [that] you got two different people in charge,” Wilkins said. “Joshua Hayes is very detail oriented and he documents everything and keeps everything so that’s why you’ll see a whole lot more in his files.” Before June 30, 2015, the Director of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and the Title IX coordinator
was Huda Melky, who retired. The variance in the case files extends to how much is redacted. One example is in Case Q from the 2016 open records request, where words from WKU’s own Discrimination and Harassment Policy from April 1, 2013, were redacted from the file the university turned over to the Herald. “This policy does not supersede or replace any grievance or complaint procedures contained in the [redacted] Handbook,” the case file stated. There is another one word redaction in the “Members of the University Committee” subsection and several one word redactions in the “Consensual Relationship” subsection. “It is impossible to understand why the university would redact part of a university policy that is otherwise publicly available,” Abate said. “There is no good-faith basis for doing so.”
Cases to note
Within the records the Herald received, most of the names of those faculty and staff investigated were redacted. However, 12 records where WKU found violations occurred or likely occurred did include the employee names. One of the 39 cases, Case S from the Herald’s 2021 open records request, is a student employee vs. student employee Title VII and Title IX report and investigation. The events on this file revolve around two former student employees at the Herald during the 2019-20 year. The files consist of emails and handwritten notes and do not have any formal memos stating whether or not the respondent violated any policies. Investigators recommended that the person accused complete two training sessions, and that person was not hired back at the Herald. The Herald is disclosing this infor-
mation about this case to hold itself to the same standard as WKU.
Cases with violations
Kenneth Johnson Case A Kenneth Johnson, former assistant director of student activities, was investigated for violating the sexual misconduct policy in 2014 after a student filed a complaint of sexual harassment. In the complaint, the student said on several occasions that Johnson threatened to place a hold on her TopNet account to prevent her from registering for classes if she did not stop by his office to visit him and have dinner with him. The student said she initially thought Johnson had the authority to place a hold on her account, but later found out that he could not do that. Before learning that, she agreed to have dinner with him. “I had knots in my stomach. It bothered me how he used his position as a form of manipulation,” the student stated in the report. The student said she had seen other students experience similar occurrences with Johnson. In the investigation, WKU interviewed 24 witnesses. Some denied experiencing or witnessing any form of harassment. Other witnesses mentioned trying to avoid Johnson, hearing rumors about him dating or having “flings” with female students, saying Johnson was “close” with female students. One witness said, “It was a running joke that if you wanted to get ahead, you would sleep with Kenneth.” Another witness said Johnson would take her to lunch and dinner, one-onone, approximately three times per week. He would pick her up at her home, and would play “romantic” music. Johnson had purchased alcohol for both of them at dinners. Based on the findings of the investigation, Johnson violated WKU’s Standards of Conduct policy and
6 NEWS Discrimination and Harrasment policy in addition to Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972. The file does not indicate if Johnson retired or resigned, but he is no longer employed at WKU. Other violations found Case B, from the 2016 request, involved Colleen Donovan, an academic readiness instructor, who WKU found had violated the university’s discrimination and harrassment policy, according to the investigation in May 2014. A female student in her class filed a complaint because she notified Donovan that she would need to miss a few classes due to medical reasons. Donovan told her that she does not accept medical excuses, that no one could help her, and that according to her syllabus if a student is absent from three classes the student’s grade drops to the next lower grade. Donovan was no longer employed at the university after May 2014. Case C, from the 2016 open records request, involved Timothy Mullin, former director of the Kentucky Museum and Library, who was investigated for violating the sexual misconduct policy and gender based discrimination after he made sexual comments towards others. The records include complaints that surfaced of him sexually harassing male students and belittling and berating the female employees he supervised. Mullin died in 2020. Case D, from the 2016 request, involved Steve Briggs, assistant director of Housing and Residence Life, who WKU found had violated the university’s sexual misconduct policy after an informal complaint filed by a female student on Nov. 12, 2014. A university employee complained that Briggs rubbed her arm and poked her arm in the hallway, then approached her from behind and rested his hands on her hips. When she moved away, Briggs said, “It’s just me.” On Sep. 9, 2015, Briggs submitted a letter of resignation.
Sept. 20-Oct. 24, 2021 Story continued from page 5 Case E, from the 2021 open records request, involved Jim Hills, an events associate for WKU, who WKU terminated on June 4, 2019, after the Title IX investigation regarding him concluded. WKU found that Hills would discuss inappropriate sexual matters with student workers. According to the document, Hills would compliment body parts, talk about women and stare in an uncomfortable way while setting up events with student workers, based on witness statements. Case F, from the 2021 request, involved Keith Clark, a senior academic advisor, who WKU found had violated the sexual misconduct policy in 2018 after a complaint was filed on March 18. Clark had been sending Facebook messages to a University of Louisville employee from March 13-17. He sent the employee a video of him “spanking/paddling” himself. He also sent her a photo of him bent over a stool, wearing an apron, spanking his bare bottom with a paddle. Clark resigned from the university. Case F, from the 2016 request, follows an investigation against Michael Kallstrom, a professor in the music department. On Sept. 3, 2015, WKU began looking into a report from another faculty member who expressed concern about Kallstrom’s interactions with a student. The student said she went with a friend to see Kallstrom, and while the friend turned to answer a phone call, Kallstrom put his hand on her thigh. The university found that Kallstrom violated the university policy. He retired shortly after. Case G, from the 2021 records request, investigated a complaint that was received on Jan. 31, 2018, about Bryan Carson, coordinator of research instruction, grants and assessment. The complaint was in response to recurring incidents after a complaint against Carson in 2011. Based on the record, Carson made female employees and students feel unsafe around him. On Feb. 28, 2018, Carson resigned and was listed
as ineligible for rehire at WKU. He then went to work at Missouri Valley College. Case A, from the 2021 request, investigated Ron Mitchell, an associate professor at WKU. On Oct. 3, 2017, Lisa Schneider, assistant to Athletics Director Todd Stewart, called Joshua Hayes to tell him about an issue with Mitchell and a female student. According to the documents WKU provided, Mitchell invited the student to his house for lunch. He picked her up from Diddle Arena, took her to a “big house,” went to a restaurant and then went to a different house. At the second house, Mitchell massaged her legs, back and feet, and continuously told her to release. During the massage, he told her that her clothes were dirty and that she needed to change into clothes he had for her. She said no. The student said no to the massage when he reached her upper thigh. She said Mitchell unfastened her bra, according to the documents, even though she said no. In an in-person conversation with Schneider and the student, Hayes asked how the student remained calm, she typed the answer on her phone: “I felt sick. But I was scared so I could not say no.” Mitchell resigned from the
university on Oct. 18, 2017. Case C, from the 2021 request, investigated a complaint filed by an anonymous employee against Tim Boyer, access control locksmith, to the Title IX office in November 2020. On Nov. 17 at 10:10 am, there was an incident that was recorded by surveillance mentioned in the emails. “While [redacted] was searching the key file storage, Tim rolled across the workshop floor in his office chair and positioned himself behind her while she was seated on the roller stool. The shop video shows Tim straddled within inches of her back and torso leaning over her shoulder. [Redacted] said she could feel his upper body/chest touching her back. The encounter lasted approximately one minute.” In an email from Deborah Wilkins, she said there were three issues she thought were important to the case: there is video evidence regarding the complaint, Boyer is an “at will” employee so he can be terminated at any point, and Boyer had no meaningful excuse for his behavior in the video. WKU found that Boyer violated the WKU sex and gender-based harassment, discrimination and retaliation policy. He was immediately terminated.
Photo illustration by Allie Hendricks
Sept. 20-Oct. 24, 2021 Case D, from the 2021 request, dealt with Muhammad Sajjad, visiting assistant professor in physics and astronomy, who was “discontinued” and ineligible for rehire because a violation of policy was found. According to the records, the student told Hayes that she was standing by Sajjad’s desk in the classroom behind the computer, and Sajjad was standing beside her, and his genitals were hitting her outer thigh. She clarified that Sajjad rubbed his genitals against her thigh in a side to side movement. Hayes asked how long Sajjad rubbed himself against her. She said Sajjad rubbed himself against her the entire time she was alphabetizing the exams, which took about five minutes. Case E, from the 2016 request, investigated a complaint that was filed against Brent Fisk, visual and performing arts library senior circulation assistant. According to the complaint, Fisk left his Pinterest account open showing naked — “specifically topless” — women on March 25, 2014. The incident was considered inappropriate use of WKU technology. Co-workers said they felt uncomfortable around him since they were the same age and “type” of women in the images Fisk had been looking at. From the documents provided, it is not clear whether Fisk resigned or was terminated from the university, but he did not continue to work at WKU after 2015.
Story continued from page 6
Cases with no violations
The majority of the cases the Herald received were reports where no violation against university policies were determined. Cases K and T from the 2021 open records request had enough detail to be described thoroughly. Case K On May 2, 2018, a student reached out to Peggy Crowe, director of the Counseling Center, about an email he had received from his Interdisciplinary Studies instructor that caused concern. The lead up to this email had been a conversation about planning a trip with the instructor and other students that the complainant would no longer be able to attend. Upon discovering the student could no longer attend the trip, the respondent sent an emotional response telling the complainant not to show up to the next class meeting he was supposed to attend as a peer mentor. “I have a few days to deal with my loss and I definitely do not want to fall apart in front of the class,” the response from the employee in the file stated. From this interaction, the report and ensuing investigation revealed a long-time mentor-mentee relationship between the complainant
and respondent. Instances involving heavily emotional conversations on the part of the respondent, multiple trips to conferences, a specific conversation involving bowties and Chippendale dancers and appearing in the complainant’s personal life were discussed in the investigation. As the final email included in the file, the documents state that on Aug. 7, 2018, Hayes spoke to the respondent where he shared his findings and reminded him of three previously discussed points — encouraging the respondent to receive counseling, “discouraging him from personal travel with students” and having a separate room when traveling with students for work. WKU did not find a violation. Case T On Sept. 17, 2018, a student reported a theater professor teaching Acting for the Camera whose name was redacted. The professor told the student, while she was undressed for a scene, that she could receive an “easy A.” Other students urged her to report what happened due to a similar incident that occurred prior. In an interview with Hayes, the professor denied ever making the comment. The student was cast in a script written in a screenwriting class that one witness described as “borderline pornographic.” The student emailed the professor stating she was uncomfortable, to which the professor responded that they needed to talk
NEWS 7 further and that his “hands were tied.” The student told a dance instructor who encouraged her to report the incident and said it was “unacceptable.” During the investigation, 15 witnesses were interviewed. One witness said that removing clothing for the “fake porn” scene was optional. Several witnesses mentioned not having any concerns about the professor, one referred to him as a “father figure.” Other witnesses mentioned not feeling comfortable around him. A result of the investigation was a two-week period for students to decide if they are comfortable with their assigned script being added to the course syllabus. The professor was told to refrain from joking with students unless they have a “mutual cohesive relationship.” No violation of Title IX was found during this investigation. The investigation ended on Dec. 13, 2018. Herald staffers Michael J. Collins, Anna Leachman, Megan Fisher, Jacob Latimer, Shane Stryker, Jake Moore and Leo Bertucci contributed to this story. Digital News Editor Debra Murray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy Editor-in-Chief Lily Burris can be reached at lily.burris203@topper. wku.edu. Follow her on Twitter @ lily_burris.
Sept. 20-Oct. 24, 2021
On-campus students experience maintenance issues in several residence halls By Madison Carter As the semester begins, students on campus face a multitude of issues with their dorm rooms. Ethan Spurlin, a resident of Southwest Hall, said flooding became a major issue for students living on the first and second floors. “A lot of the first floor had some minor [flooding],” Spurlin said. “A lot of people had major flooding issues such as their bathrooms being filled up with water.” Spurlin said his roommate reached out to their resident assistant for maintenance help. Spurlin said maintenance did a room inspection and then drained water that was bulging from the bathroom ceiling. “I heard a lot of people had damage to electronics like cables and power outlets,” Spurlin said. “I heard someone's sandals floated off into the hallway.” Spurlin said he felt some of the issues at Southwest Hall have been ignored, such as rusting and mold. Ben Taylor, a fellow Southwest resident, said a pipe burst in the south wing preventing access to water for nearly a week. Taylor said he has a friend whose toilet began
overflowing in the middle of the night, requiring an emergency maintenance request. “The dorms in Southwest are fairly nice,” Taylor said. “I would say the maintenance is not as responsive as it was last year.” Taylor said he doesn't blame the maintenance since there are many issues happening at once, but he does think there are some communication issues. He added that mold on campus is not being properly addressed. “I definitely think there needs to be some sort of fashion to solve the overall problem instead of just spot-treating it,” Taylor said. Abby Blum, a resident of Pearce Ford Tower, said she has also noticed issues with mold. “We have lots of trouble with people’s air conditioners molding,” Blum said. “I just cleaned mold off mine.” Blum said she knows people have put in maintenance requests for similar issues, but have yet to hear back from maintenance. Cate Weaver, a resident of Pearce Ford Tower, said the covering on her light is broken and maintenance has yet to respond. Jace Lux, director of media re-
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lations at WKU, said response time for maintenance on campus has been approximately the same. “Because Regents and Normal are both new halls, they are under warranty, which means the university sometimes has to involve a third party to resolve the issue,” Lux said. “But in general, response times are no longer than they typically are at this time of the year.” Lux said the primary issue on campus so far has been related to HVAC units, which is normal for this time of the year. Lux said that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented “personnel challenges” for maintenence staffs nationwide. He added that maintenance priorities are determined on a case-by-case basis and longer wait times may be a result of less immediate issues. “Work orders are prioritized based on the severity of each individual situation,” Lux said. “In the event of emergencies, students should report the issue to their front desk or university police.” News reporter Madison Carter can be reached at email@example.com.
The exterior of Pearce Ford Tower on Sunday morning, Sept. 19, 2021.
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Sept. 20-Oct. 24, 2021
Building names called into question, risk of “financial harm” trumped concerns By Michael Crimmins The Naming and Symbols Task Force recommended Northeast Hall be renamed to honor the first black female student to attend WKU. They also recommended the names Ogden, Potter and Van Meter, each with historical ties to slave ownership, be removed from all WKU branding. President Timothy Caboni announced on Aug. 11 that only Northeast would be renamed. Abigail Turner, a sophomore psychology major from Campbellsville, said the university’s decisions are contradictory in values. “If [Caboni] will change Northeast to honor an African American, why will he not change names associated with slavery?” Turner said. “I understand that slavery was a normal thing, but people change. Not that we should get rid of the history, but just because it was the norm doesn’t make it right.” Caboni said in his announcement that he could not recommend name changes other than Northeast to the Board of Regents for fear of “financial harm” to the university. The Ogden Hall lease obtained by the Herald stipulates it will maintain its name unless demolished. No mention of this was made in Caboni’s justification. Northeast was changed to Munday Hall to honor Margaret Munday, who graduated from WKU in 1960 and proceeded to teach all throughout Logan County. “I am really excited that we’ve honored Ms. Munday. Her contribution to this campus was remarkable,” Caboni said in the announcement. “She was a trailblazer.” Jace Lux, director of media relations, said Northeast is a central building on campus that will serve as a prominent reminder of Munday’s
achievements. He did not elaborate on where “financial harm” might come from with other recommendations. Jared Conner, a sophomore early childhood development major from Glasgow, was not satisfied with Caboni’s explanation and believed the committee’s recommendations should’ve been fully implemented. “[All recommended buildings] should be changed,” Conner said.
recommendations for the president based on their research, as stated in its findings report. The task force was composed of nine faculty members, one Board of Regents member and one WKU student. Members signed non-disclosure agreements which largely prevent members from repeating discussions from within meetings, the Bowling Green Daily News reported in July.
The exterior of Ogden College Hall on Sunday morning, Sept. 19, 2021.
“They are no longer our identities. They are a part of history, but as far as names go, they should reflect our identity, and that isn’t it. We should acknowledge their contributions though, just maybe not in that way.” Jalynn Brown, a sophomore studying Chinese Language from Erlanger, struggled to understand why Caboni changed Northeast’s name, but not other buildings. “It sounds like Caboni cares more about finances than the students that are upset at the names,” Brown said. The Naming and Symbols Task Force was formed in the fall of 2020 to collect community input and provide
Saundra Ardrey, an associate professor and co-chair of the former Naming and Symbols Task Force, declined to comment about the discrepancy between the group’s recommendations and Caboni’s final decisions. “We made recommendations based on that research and on community input,” Ardrey said in an email. “The Task Force fully supports the president’s efforts to provide a diverse and inclusive environment for all constituents of the university.” Ardrey said the work done by the committee was “long and arduous” and the input received from the community was largely unsupportive.
“The media and community were mostly hostile, especially in emails to me, verbal assaults and personal confrontations,” Ardrey said. “The Task Force has made its recommendations to the president. The president has made his decision. There is nothing else I want to add to the narrative.” Of the nine community comments provided to the Herald, seven were against changing any names on campus and two provided questions for the task force to consider. One submission from an anonymous alumni called the initiative a “gross misuse of time and resources.” Another said “while you’re at it still… Grow Up!” The only submission showing support for renaming buildings came from an unnamed professor concentrating in 20th century U.S. history. The submission cited the university’s responsibility to openness and racial equality given that one-third of Warren County's population were enslaved during the Civil War. “The long shadow of slavery and slave ownership in Bowling Green leading up to segregation, racial housing covenants, and all the way to current relations with communities of color in Bowling Green must be explicitly discussed and repudiated by the University at every turn,” the professor said. “Certainly a powerful opportunity to do this is to publicly and openly expose the degree to which its history and naming has been intertwined with this brutal history.” Michael J. Collins contributed reporting. News reporter Michael Crimmins can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @michael_crimm.
ACTION Words and photos by Keilen Frazier
Young scholars of the Jonesville Academy arrived on WKU’s campus Saturday, Sept. 11 for the program’s inaugural class session. “The goal of Jonesville Academy is to build a community around these kids that want to see them move forward in all phases of life,” Tyreon Clark, academy co-founder, said. “It’s a different experience from your regular school day.” Jonesville serves minority students in third to eighth grade from
across the Bowling Green and Warren County region, providing each child a weekly session to learn history, leadership, language, culture and STEM. Ethan Montel, a first year student at Jonesville Academy that attends Dish- man McGinnis Elementary School is excited about the experience thus far. “We learn to be kind, respectful and get to have a lot of fun,” Montel said. The first day’s lesson plans included studying the
messages behind music, playing a Chinese hacky-sack style game called jianzi and learning about aerodynamics using paper airplanes. “I think it was pretty cool that the students got to go over to Downing Student Union and eat at Fresh, all of that’s important,” Clark said. “Everybody is like, ‘who’s these kids?’ These are kids from Jonesville Academy! This is gonna be a new normal for everybody.”
Top Left: Matthew Rivas, a first year student with Jonesville Academy, gives a thumbs-up to the workers at Fresh Food Company showing approval of his meal choice on September 11, 2021. Bottom Left: (Left to right) Matthew Rivas, Jordon Whitlow-Clark, Kamarious Day, Kavvyun Lockhart, Camdyn Bibb, and Kewan Williams are told to give each other space outside of Gary Ransdell Hall to take a group picture before heading to lunch in Downing Student Union. Top Right: Jonesville Academy students play hacky sack with Ms. Ben in their culture class. Center Right: Aiden Tidwell raises his hand during Ms. Kanicia Mays’ class at Jonesville Academy. Bottom Right: Ms. Kanicia Mays calls on students after asking them a question about tornadoes in her 5th and 6th grade STEM class.
Sept. 20-Oct. 24, 2021
Print edition published monthly by WKU Student Publications at Western Kentucky University. First copy: free | Additional copies: $1
EDITORIAL BOARD Lily Burris Editor-in-chief Michael J. Collins Content manager Gabi Broekema Multimedia manager Jacob Latimer Projects editor Debra Murray Digital news editor
Anna Leachman Photo editor Robin Robinson Social media manager Megan Fisher Design editor Jake Moore Sports editor Shane Stryker Commentary editor
OTHER LEADERS AND ADVISERS Ashlyn Crawford Cherry Creative director Carrie Pratt Herald adviser
Chuck Clark Student Publications director Will Hoagland Advertising adviser
Opinions expressed in the College Heights Herald are those of student editors and journalists and do not necessarily represent the views of WKU. Student editors determine all news and editorial content, and reserve the right to edit or reject submissions.
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deliver promised transparency
By Herald Editorial Board “WKU is a transparent, accountable university.” This quote comes directly from a wku.edu webpage, titled “WKU Transparency and Accountability,” and it is nothing short of irony. A Herald staffer filed for an open records request to WKU on Nov. 1, 2016, requesting access or the release of all Title IX investigations concerning “sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and/ or stalking levied against Western Kentucky University employees in the last five years.” It has been almost five years since that request was made. In that span of time, WKU has filed a lawsuit against the Herald, thousands of dollars have been spent on legal fees and every Herald staffer that has dealt with this case has almost lost their sanity. This editorial is not aimed to be a summary of the past five years of events, as a simple Google search can give you all the background information you need to understand the nuanced details of the lawsuit. However, we want to make something clear: Our self-labeled transparent and accountable university has done almost nothing to be transparent or accountable in the handling of this case. WKU’s administration showed us its intentions from the start. It blatantly refused to release records in which they were legally required to.
All that they had to do in accordance with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act was to redact content from the files that would expose the identities of the complainants. Instead, the university decided to stall the inevitable release of the records in a lengthy lawsuit, which is still active to this day. It is appalling that WKU would make the decision to sue one of the few amplifiers of student voices we have on campus, a move that will cost the Herald financially by the case’s conclusion. If it weren’t for the grants and donations that we have received from alumni and press defense funds to pay legal fees, the current financial blow we are already experiencing would be even heavier. If you think that’s bad, it gets much worse. WKU finally released the requested records to us this past summer, but they are so heavily redacted that even portions of university policy are blacked out. What’s so ‘transparent’ about hundreds of pages of black boxes? We get it, the identities of those who filed the complaints will be and should be hidden, but the level of redaction in some of these files is ridiculous. Key pieces are blacked out of different parts of the files, making it difficult to determine timelines and actions within the cases. In some instances, witness testimonies are entirely redacted.
We’re frustrated, disappointed and tired. We’ve been staring at black boxes for far too long, and our positive perceptions of WKU have been thoroughly damaged. As an editorial board, we are incredibly disappointed in the actions of our university. It is clear that the university does not want to comply with us without an attorney, nor does it want to be held accountable for its actions. We have a right to know these accusations, their respective investigations and their end results. We deserve to know how WKU handled these very serious cases as students as well as patrons. We have the cases in our hands, but we are still left in the dark. After all of this, WKU doesn’t feel like the student-centered environment it should be. In refusing to release investigations on accusations against their own employees, as well as filing a lawsuit against us, the university chose itself over its students. It can be easy for us to view our university through rose-colored glasses. Tours, orientations and events are put in place in order to maintain our romanticized, beautifully tinted outlook on the school we chose. It would be unfair to say that this situation has left a crack in our glasses, because that's not what it has done. It’s shattered them. Gray, gloomy light is leaking in and it’s incredibly difficult to see. Nothing seems to be transparent.
Sept. 20-Oct. 24, 2021
Photo illustration by Allie Hendricks
WKU Herald 9/13/21 Crossword
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WKU Herald 9/13/21 Sudoku Note to readers: The College Heights Herald screens ads for misleading or false claims
C P L I L E T O F T A T D
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P A R O L E
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46 Listening device 47 Sound of frustration 49 Wail 51 Actress Fletcher 53 Lascivious looks 54 Military clique 55 Adage 56 At no time 58 Swarm 60 Indian dress 62 Mix up 63 Painting types 64 Memo 66 Paternity identifier 68 Maiden name
Stunned Burger topper Hot chocolate Kill a fly Rips Literary collection Spinnaker, e.g. Old Peruvian Relative of 14 Down Regretting Bar seat Subcompact Ache Kitty starter Beau E D S H P A L G E D N A E N
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A N E P A M T W I T S A T A D R E V A I L O P O F R T E S S D F I E E L A L L O L A O I N N
1 Bygone 2 Dubai dignitary 3 Former Yugoslav leader 4 Scrap 5 Swindle 6 “___ Lang Syne” 7 Polished 8 Goober 9 Saturn’s wife 10 Uniform shade 11 Send, as payment
Job Types: Full-time, Part-time Pay: $12-$20 per hour
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74 Great Lakes city 75 Gaelic
G A T E E L I A N T E R O O A G E D E T A T H Y A H A T K E N O I R E N N T S P C A T E O P A L D E B T
Previous crossword solution:
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Darlings Struggle for air Gumbo vegetable Acid in proteins Christmas season “That was close!” 60’s protest Entreaty Identical Miller’s ___ of Capricorn Shelters Young goat Impoverished Persian Gulf seaport Gun muffler Sunburn Dill seed Heavy load Florida city Bar stock Mine passages Writer Fleming Tahoe and George, e.g. Winter forecast Military group Be indisposed Football aim Lingo Stead Prom rental Tones Ozzie or Ricky Novelist Bagnold ___ the Terrible Proportion Collar type Parched Pink-legged bird Doll’s cry
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but cannot guarantee any ad or claim. Please use caution when answering ads, especially when asked to send money or provide credit card information. The College Heights Herald is not responsible for the content or validity of these paid classified ads.
To solve the Sudoku puzzle, each row, column and box must contain the numbers 1 to 9. To solve the Sudoku puzzle, each row, column, and box must contain the numbers 1 to 9.
5 9 4 8 9 8 5 4
7 1 3 3 7 4 6 4
3 1 6
Copyright ©2021 PuzzleJunction.com
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FREE WEBINAR Sept 30
4:00 pm Communicating about COVID:
Understanding how folklore affects medical decision making and what to do about it
Dr. Andrea Kitta
Folklorist & WKU Folk Studies Alum
Register at wku.edu/go/kitta
Sept. 20-Oct. 24, 2021
WKU Athletics soars in first month of fall play By Drew Toennies
A month of Hilltopper sports is in the books, and what a month it was. WKU Athletics as a unit jumped out to a perfect 13-0 start to the season before coming back down to earth. WKU Soccer got off to its best-ever start and WKU Volleyball reached its highest-ever AVCA ranking. Haven’t had a chance to follow along? Read on to catch up on all sports action on the Hill:
WKU Football kicked off its season at Houchens-Smith Stadium on Sept. 2 with a commanding 59-21 blowout victory over the UT Martin Skyhawks, snapping a three-game losing streak for season-opening games for the Hilltoppers that stretched back to the 2017 season. Despite throwing an interception on his first drive, graduate transfer quarterback Bailey Zappe began his Hilltopper career with a historic
performance. The former Houston Baptist star completed 28-of-35 of his passes and tossed seven touchdowns, the most-ever at Houchens-Smith Stadium. The Hilltoppers’ season rolled on, and the team flew up to West Point, New York to play the Army Black Knights on the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11. WKU put up a fight, but lost 38-35 in a heartbreaker. Wide receiver Jerreth Sterns already has four touchdown receptions to his name, tied for second-best in the nation. Sterns, a fellow HBU transfer, has turned 16 receptions into 278 yards.
WKU Volleyball began the season ranked as the 16th-best team in the nation and tipped off its season on the road in South Bend, Indiana at the Golden Dome Invitational. The Hilltoppers began the Golden Dome Invitational with a 3-0 sweep of Oakland and a 3-0 sweep of No. 25
Notre Dame before defeating Loyola Chicago 3-1. The Hilltoppers season-opening performance moved them up to No. 15 in the AVCA rankings, the best ranking in program history. WKU continued its season in Nashville at the LUV Invitational, defeating Lipscomb 3-1 to start and sweeping Kansas and Wake Forest to finish, the first time WKU has swept a pair of Power Five programs in the same day. The Hilltoppers then returned home for the Holiday Inn-University Plaza Invitational, WKU’s first home matches of the season. WKU swept Samford before losing to Ole Miss 3-1 in uncharacteristic fashion, the program’s first regular-season loss since Sept. 6, 2019. WKU bounced back to close the invitational with a sweep of UT Martin. The Hilltoppers dropped down to No. 23 in the AVCA rankings, but swept Ohio, Austin Peay and St. John’s University to wrap up the WKU
Volleyball invitational, the program’s final set of matches before conference play.
Soccer (6-1-0, 1-0 C-USA)
The Lady Toppers jumped off to a 5-0-0 start, the best opening run in program history. Their win streak included 2-0 and 3-0 shutouts of Austin Peay and Union University respectively, followed by an upset of the Vanderbilt Commodores 3-2 in an overtime thriller. WKU then hit the road, shutting out both Louisville and Belmont by scores of 1-0 before returning to Bowling Green. The Lady Toppers’ undefeated streak came to an end on Sept. 12, losing to Ole Miss 1-0 at home. WKU bounced back with a 2-1 overtime defeat of Marshall in the program’s first game of conference play.
Sports reporter Drew Toennies can be reached at drew.toennies900@ topper.wku.edu. Follow him on Twitter @drew_toennies.
ARTHUR TRICKETT-WILE WKU Hilltoppers break before their volleyball game against the Ole Miss Rebels on the evening of Sept. 10, 2021 at Diddle Arena. WKU lost 3-1.
BRITTANY FISHER BRITTANY FISHER WKU Lady Toppers celebrate after junior Sydney Ernst (9) scores the winning goal on a penalty kick against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Thursday Aug. 26, 2021. The WKU Lady Topper defeated Vanderbilt 3-2.
WKU wide receiver Jerreth Sterns (8) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the Hilltoppers’ season-opening 59-21 win over UT Martin on Sept. 2, 2021.
Sept. 20-Oct. 24, 2021
Rushing the exit doors: Who is leaving C-USA? By Jake Moore
and every athletic department in the conference should be hitting the phones The Big 12 Conference officially to find a new home. Realistically, which extended invitations to American Athletic C-USA programs have a shot of moving Conference members UCF, Houston and up? Let’s examine all 14 C-USA members Cincinnati as well as independent BYU on to see who deserves a promotion. Friday, Sept. 10. The four programs are joining a Rice conference that has already been fully The Owls are immediately off the list. ransacked - the Big 12 put up its ‘we’re The little Houston private school has a hiring’ sign after Texas and Oklahoma student enrollment of less than 8,000 and unceremoniously announced their the university has few athletic highlights planned departures to the SEC back in to its name. The Owls do have a solid July. baseball program but little success to The loss of Cincinnati, UCF and speak of in revenue-generating sports. Houston leaves three sizable vacancies in the heart of the AAC. What does this have Old Dominion to do with WKU? I’m glad you asked. Old Dominion has neither the name The Hilltoppers currently reside in recognition nor athletic success to a hodge-podge pile of programs left warrant a move up the ladder. Norfolk, over from the last wave of realignment. Virginia doesn’t have the right culture Officially known as Conference USA, for the Sun Belt, and the program’s only it’s a spunky little family that may not be major successes have come from its field around much longer once realignment hockey team. The Monarchs are stuck in kicks into overdrive. This is the island C-USA for the foreseeable future. of misfit toys in the world of NCAA DI college sports. Middle Tennessee Take a look at a map of C-USA’s Middle Tennessee has little chance of member schools. You’ll notice very upward movement. The program has no quickly that these teams share zero real name recognition, the school hasn’t geographical ties. Four schools from racked up enough major wins in revenueTexas, UTEP, UTSA, Rice and North generating sports and the most you can Texas, are thrown in the same group as a say about the Blue Raiders is that ‘they team from Virginia, Old Dominion and exist’ . a pair of Florida programs, FAU and FIU. The distance between the two furthest WKU conference members, ODU and UTEP, is It hurts to say it, but WKU is destined over 1,700 miles. to stay in C-USA just like their rival This conference has no identity. MTSU. The Hilltoppers have fielded some Take a look at some other conferences. solid-to-great football and basketball The Sun Belt is composed of scrappy, programs over the last decade and the smaller schools in the American south volleyball program has racked up more that proved they had what it took to play accolades than you can count, but WKU in the upper level of the NCAA. It’s not lacks the pull needed to jump up the nicknamed the ‘Fun Belt’ for nothing. conference ranks. The Mid-American Conference, while Perhaps a return to the Sun Belt not known for its successes, has still can be arranged, but that’s about all the carved out its own niche of consistent, Hilltoppers can do. gritty play that earned the conference its ‘MACtion’ nickname. C-USA has nothing going for it,
Illustration by Alex Cox.
Good money. Little time. Great cause.
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Sept. 20- Oct. 24, 2021
Continued from page 17 is a sleeper pick to break away to the Mountain West conference. Much like Marshall is in the same boat as their divisional rival UTSA, the Miners MTSU and WKU, save for more name are located in a major Texan city and play recognition and history. The Herd their football games in a massive stadium have won a pair of FCS championships - the Sun Bowl, which seats 51,500. and feature famous alumni such as The school also won an NCAA Men’s NFL hall-of-famer Randy Moss, but Basketball championship back in 1966, besides winning the 2020 NCAA soccer becoming the first team to start five championship, the program has little to African-American players in a title game. entice larger conferences. The little program laying out in the El Paso sun holds more history than the Southern Mississippi average fan might think, and the Miners The only way Southern Miss leaves could turn some heads during conference C-USA is if the Golden Eagles can wrench realignment. their way into the Sun Belt. The program has remained in the conference since North Texas 1997 and strung together a stretch of The North Texas Mean Green don’t great football teams in the mid 2000’s, have too many athletic highlights, save for but the little program from Hattiesburg, recent success in men’s basketball. North Mississippi has no real leverage to move Texas’s saving grace is its location - the up. Mean Green are located in Denton, Texas, just outside of Dallas. North Texas also Florida Atlantic boasts the second-highest enrollment in The other program in the conference the conference at nearly 40,000 students. that uses an owl as its mascot, FAU is The Mean Green could slot into the AAC located in Boca Raton, Florida and has due to these factors. been able to attract big-name talent to its program over the years in football head UTSA coaches Howard Schnellenberger and The University of Texas-San Antonio Lane Kiffin. is often overlooked. Yet, the Roadrunners Unfortunately for FAU, FIU would are located in the second-largest city in most likely be picked to move up over the Texas. The Roadrunners also play their Owls. FAU consistently trots out a solid football games in the Alamodome, a baseball program year after year, but the facility that seats 72,000 people and ranks school doesn’t have enough going for it to as the largest stadium in C-USA. UTSA warrant a move to a bigger conference. is primed for a surprise jump to the Mountain West conference.
programs, and a promotion may be in order.
The Panthers boast the largest enrollment in the conference and play at the largest university in the state of Florida. FIU would also provide a Florida-based rival for the South Florida Bulls once UCF officially moves out of the AAC. Athletic success is secondary for FIU in this case; it’s hard to turn down a school located in the greater-Miami area.
deserving of a promotion. The school shuttered its football program back in 2014, but the Blazers returned to the gridiron just two years later and won a C-USA championship in 2018. The Blazers have had to fight for every inch, but it’s about time they receive some recognition for their efforts.
Sports Editor Jake Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. edu. Follow him on Twitter @Charles_ JMoore.
The University of AlabamaBirmingham is the C-USA program most
Charlotte was a member of the old C-USA before major conference reshuffling in the early 2000’s placed the 49ers in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The school has no major athletic achievements and only just restarted its football program in 2013. On the other hand, the program is located in a major metro area and boasts an enrollment of close to 30,000 students, so a jump to another home is possible.
The University of Texas-El Paso
The LA Tech Bulldogs are constantly fighting LSU, ULM-Monroe and Louisiana University for talent, but the little program from Ruston, Louisiana has still managed to field strong athletic programs across its history. The football program won all of its bowls from 2014-19 and has won three C-USA West Division championships since joining the league in 2013. The Bulldogs have proven they have what it takes to compete with larger
Illustration by Alex Cox.
WKU professor breaks down allure of sports betting By Joseph Thompson You most likely can’t watch a single sporting event these days without coming across ads for services like FanDuel and DraftKings, apps that look to grab the casual sports fan and entice them to try their luck at gambling. The Supreme Court struck down federal restrictions on sports betting in 2018, allowing states to legalize the activity. In the following three years, 22 states have done so, and a bumper crop of sports gambling apps have hit the market. Kameron Jackson, a 2020 WKU graduate who now lives in Chicago, uses FanDuel to earn money from sports wagering. “I feel sports betting is good because it is a way for people to make money while watching the sport they love,” Jackson said. “It also can bring depression and mood swings because of losing, and fans struggle with their team losing and losing money.” Rick Grieve, a psychology professor at WKU, has an active interest in studying the behaviors of sports fans. Grieve shared his thoughts on sports gambling, an activity that has seen massive growth after being pushed into the mainstream. The very act of betting on an event may be enough to completely re-energize someone’s interest in sport. “For the small percentage of people
who do wager on sporting events, it increases the excitement they have associated with the games,” Grieve said. Grieve appreciates both the good and bad of the hobby, noting that the sports betting market has many ways to suck fans in. “Daily fantasy games go on all year around, every sport has a daily fantasy game that you can interact with,” Grieve said. “You may not do that every day if you are just a casual fan, so I do think it increases your enjoyment if you seriously love sports.” The hobby still has its own destructive properties. The allure of making big money while sports betting can lead to addiction, corruption and
misplaced priorities. “On the other hand, it does increase the likelihood people are going to have problems... gambling everyday, cheating and professional athletes shaving points,” Grieve said. “There are people who exhibit problematic behaviors with sports wagering. They gamble away their money, so they would rather pay off their bookie than make house payments.” Grieve also shared why he thinks it took so long for sports betting to become a legalized activity. When athletes are raking in massive amounts of cash from their salaries, they become less incentivized to cheat to appease gamblers. “You know when you are making
$15 million dollars and I offer you $100,000 to shave points, you are going to laugh,” Grieve said. For many, sport betting can be a fun, lighthearted way to spice up their sports fandom - as long as the negative effects are avoided. Jackson is one of many who are able to enjoy the activity to the fullest. “Sports betting has impacted my life by giving me a hobby and an extra source of income,” Jackson said.
Women’s basketball reporter Joseph Thompson can be reached at Joseph.Thompson798@topper.wku. edu
Photo illustration by Anna Leachman.
Sept. 20-Oct. 24, 2021
WKU students and the joy of fantasy football By Lynda Eernisse Each and every year, thousands of college students gather around their computers to form their own fantasy football teams. According to the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Industry, an estimated 45.9 million adults in the United States played fantasy sports in 2019, and of that number 78% were playing fantasy football. Whether it’s for fun or money, most everyone who participates shares the same love and enthusiasm for
the game. Here at Western Kentucky University, the story is no different. Will Stewart, a business major and freshman at WKU, has played fantasy football for almost six years and started at a very young age. “I knew a lot about sports when I was really young, so as more of my friends kind of figured out sports, I started to play more with them and that has expanded the amount of fantasy football I play,” Stewart said. Stewart is currently in five different leagues and has participated in close to 30 of them since he first got involved with the
hobby, playing with strangers, friends and family members. “I’m a big gambler, and I’ve always been pretty smart with sports...it’s partially about beating my friends and taking their money, but it’s also because I feel like I have a really good chance at doing it,” Stewart said. “Plus, it gives me something to do when the Bears aren’t on.” Stewart has found big success in his fantasy career, raking in money in amounts that may surprise casual players. “There was one year that I came in first place in three out of four of my leagues, and I won my dad’s league one time, and it was about $5,000,” Stewart said. Connor Wosik, a business management major and freshman at WKU, has been participating in leagues since his middle school years. His love for football serves as his main motivation, but he admits he enjoys the risks that go along with playing. “Of course money’s in my head, but it’s still a fun experience - with fantasy football I get to watch anything and enjoy it,” Wosik said. Wosik has been in at least 20 different leagues with his friends, family or just anyone that invites him to play over the years. “In most of the leagues [I play in] there is money at stake, there’s always these leagues I do just for fun
but I usually don’t like it unless there’s something on the line because people don’t take it as [seriously],” Wosik said. Another thing Wosik enjoys about the fantasy football experience is his friends’ draft-night traditions. “On draft night we get together, have some food, watch some college football, just to try and make it fun for all of us and be with each other while we’re drafting,” Wosik said. On the other hand, some students participate in leagues just to have fun and connect with friends, rather than to gamble or make money. This is how Sean Dillon, a data analytics major and senior at WKU, approaches the game. “I’m not really into the whole playing and gambling thing, I just play to have fun and enjoy myself,” Dillon said. He is currently in a league with his brothers in the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. “When I first started it was just people in my church, but then when I got to college I started joining teams with friends,” Dillon said. “This year I am doing it with my fraternity brothers in Fiji.” Regardless of who he’s playing with, Dillon has started his own drafting tradition in order to stay loyal to his favorite team. “My mom is from Wisconsin, so I will try to pick one Packers player every year, and that is usually Aaron Rodgers because he is pretty consistent,” Dillon said.
Sports reporter Lynda Eernisse can be reached at lynda.eernisse984@ topper.wku.edu.