Activist visits campus, receives honorary degree

Susan Schnall. Photo courtesy of
Susan Schnall. Photo courtesy of

As thunder began to rumble in the distance, a veteran Navy nurse spoke to a packed crowd at Ohio Wesleyan on the lasting impacts of the chemical Agent Orange and implored everyone to get involved to help those suffering.

Susan Schnall is a core member and co-coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign and is involved with Veterans for Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

President Rock Jones began the lecture on Monday night by presenting an honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities to Schnall for her work with these organizations.

Rock said this is the highest honor and needs approval from both the faculty and board of trustees.

True to Schnall’s character, she said she accepted this honor on behalf of Veterans of Peace who do the real work.

Schnall spoke about the use of the chemical Agent Orange in Vietnam during the Vietnam War from 1961-1971. Most importantly, she focused on how this harmful chemical is still affecting the landscape and the people-both the Vietnamese and the U.S. soldiers.

The chemical destroyed the mangrove forests, farmland and other crops.

“We kinda destroyed the ecology in Vietnam,” she said.

More than that, recent studies have shown correlations between exposure to Agent Orange and various health problems.

Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides services and compensation for veterans exposed to Agent Orange for 12 health problems, including Parkinson’s disease, Type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer.

No such compensation is provided for the Vietnamese.

If there is this much damage to people who have only been there for two years, Schnall said, what is the damage to the people who live in the country?

And more than just the initial exposure to the chemical, the children of these men and women are often born with severe birth defects.

VA provides support to the children of female veterans for more than 20 diseases and birth defects, while descendants of male veterans only receive compensation for spina bifida.

But once again, there is little aid provided for these children in Vietnam, besides the care family members can provide.

“I would suggest to you all that we really do have a responsibility to help take care of these children,” Schnall said.

The Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign is currently working on legislation to help take care of children of service men and women in both countries, clean up the land in southern Vietnam and provide services for Vietnamese Americans.

Old newspaper clipping featuring Susan Schnall. Photo courtesy of
Old newspaper clipping featuring Susan Schnall. Photo courtesy of

Chaplain Jon Powers said he had led a spring break mission trip to parts of northern Vietnam several years ago. They even had an Agent Orange Awareness Week on campus with Vietnamese students, though attendance was low.

“My favorite thing she said is to beware of labeling people as the other,” Powers said. “I grew up in the Vietnamese era and that’s what we do. ‘There’s nothing better than a dead Gook,’ that’s just the way the culture was. It was an unthinking era.”

Powers said he had worked indirectly with Schnall before but was excited to officially meet her.

“As a military veteran, she brings both the commitment to service plus an awareness of the dangers and evils of warfare,” he said.


Monsanto, self-defined as a sustainable agriculture company, is often critiqued for its use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and other chemicals in their seeds.

Schnall said that this company is a descendent of Dow Chemical, the company who produced the Agent Orange chemical.

She went on to say that the chemical glyphosate can be found in both Monsanto’s GMOs and in Agent Orange, which studies have shown could produce cancer.

In addition to helping move along legislation for veterans, Schnall encouraged those present to also boycott the products that use crops by Monsanto.

Senior Michelle Smith said she liked the accessibility of Schnall.

“She brought something from the past that was kind of forgotten about into our present lives with the GMOs debate and Monsanto,” Smith said.

This lecture was also a part of Green Week on campus and was sponsored by the university’s Honors Program; Poverty, Equity, and Social Justice Course Connection; Department of Philosophy; Office of the Chaplain; Women’s and Gender Studies Program; and Andy Anderson Symposium Fund.

Reporting error goes unnoticed for years

Ohio Wesleyan faculty and staff were alerted to an error in compensation that caused the university to reevaluate proposed changes to employee healthcare contributions.

As of the spring 2015 semester, Ohio Wesleyan is facing a $4.5 million deficit in budget. The Committee on University Governance suggested one reduction in budget could be to freeze salaries and increase employee healthcare contributions from 18.9 percent to 23.8 percent. However, this strategy was created based on the belief that OWU was above the Great Lakes College Association (GLCA) median in total compensation across ranks.

With the finding of reporting errors, Ohio Wesleyan is now below the GCLA median in compensation, according to Chris Wolverton, professor of botany-microbiology and spokesperson for the Committee of University Governance.

“It has come to my attention within the past week that for nearly a decade, there has been a discrepancy between the value of healthcare insurance benefits received by each OWU employee and the value of benefits as reported on individual benefit sheets provided to faculty and reported in compensation surveys including the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) annual survey,” said President Rock Jones in an email to employees on Monday morning.

“When reporting the value of employee healthcare benefits for compensation surveys, we have mistakenly been using the higher COBRA rate instead of the lower more realistic expected plan cost estimate. Our COBRA rate is 25 percent higher than the expected plan cost.”

Jones claimed that this error began when the university switched from “purchasing a health insurance policy with set annual expenses to a self-insurance program with expenses dependent upon actual claim costs,” about nine years ago.

However, Bart Martin, professor of geology, corrected Jones at the meeting, saying that this type of self-insurance program has been happening since the mid-1990s.

Concerns were raised as to how this mistake had been going on for so long, but Jones said he did not know why they didn’t catch the mistake but he believed it was not meant to deceive any parties involved.

In light of these findings, the administration asked the Board of Trustees Executive Committee to reduce the increase in employee contribution to 20.9 percent, instead of the proposed 23.8 percent.

“This action shifted $130,000 of expenses from the employees to the institution,” according to the email from Jones.

Other actions:

  • The proposed changes to the academic calendar for 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 were approved by the faculty with a vote of 51-7. Some of the main changes include shortening each semester to 70 days, beginning each semester on Wednesday instead of Monday and moving commencement to the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend.
  • The faculty unanimously approved for graduation those seniors whom the Registrar certified as having met degree requirements.

Faculty discuss changes to faculty handbook

Discussion centered on problems with the budget and changes to personnel policy at the Ohio Wesleyan faculty meeting on March 23.

Provost Chuck Steinmetz expressed concerns about faculty involvement in the budget problems in light of the recent closure of Sweet Briar College in Virginia.

Sweet Briar College, a small, all-women’s liberal arts college near the Blue Ridge Mountains, announced on March 3 that it would be closing in August, citing financial problems, according to The Washington Post.

This announcement came as a shock to both OWU faculty and students.

Steinmetz does not want the same thing to happen at Ohio Wesleyan; he proposed to have a summit in May for him and the faculty to discuss strategies moving forward.

“This has been a difficult year to serve as your provost,” he said. “The faculty needs to take the time to come together as a faculty on the future of OWU.”

Sean Kay, professor of politics and government, and Dan Vogt, professor of chemistry, also brought up concerns that austerity measures the university is taking to fix the budget won’t work. Instead, they could lead to faculty and student dissatisfaction.

President Rock Jones responded by saying that he thinks “austerity does not drive prosperity,” but he still supports the budget.

Other faculty expressed concerns that the Board of Trustees are not doing their jobs and that they are taking hits themselves with no rewards in overall salary. This came after the announcement that there would be a freeze on salary and compensation pools for next year.

Chris Wolverton, professor of botany and microbiology as well as chair of the committee on university governance posed a question to the OWU faculty.

“How can we make OWU one again, instead of fiefdoms, which don’t work,” he said.

Faculty also discussed at length the proposed changes to the personnel policy in the faculty handbook.

After much discussion and many presentations by various professors, the changes were approved with a vote of 65 to 24.

New designs look pleasing to SLU community

Students and representatives from the administration reached a compromise at the forum on design changes to the Small Living Unit (SLU) residences.

Thomas Carlson-Reddig from Little Diversified Architectural Consulting led the forum on March 20, and shared schematics of the new SLU duplexes along Rowland Avenue. He also went through floor plans for the first duplex to be built on the corner of Rowland Avenue and Liberty Street.

The design is to have two SLUs in one building, or a SLUplex. However, each SLU will be self-contained with entrances to each only accessible from the outside.

The first of the SLUplexes is scheduled to begin construction by August, with students moving in fall 2016. However, the budget for these designs has not been finalized with a contractor.

“Right now we don’t know if we are in budget,” Carlson-Reddig said. “The next step is to look at the cost.”

He said the total allocated amount for this first project is $1.5 million, which should cover the cost, but if the budget exceeds this amount, they will protect the core project of the building first.

Based on feedback from the first forum, Carlson-Reddig said the designs were updated to focus on fostering community, having connection to outdoors, accessibility, comfort and sustainability and maintaining individuality and identity.

Junior Reilly Reynolds, the moderator of the Tree House said she was pleased with the new designs even though she had concerns with the original plans.

“I was a little bit concerned about how cookie cutter the houses looked at that time, and at the idea of internal bedrooms,” she said.  “The new designs are much more open, unique and I feel very positive about them in general.”

“As an environmentalist, I am hopeful that the architects will be true to what they are saying about maintaining and improving sustainability in all the houses,” Reynolds said.

The floor plans provide open dining and gathering spaces on the ground floor, as well as some bedrooms for accessibility. However, concerns were brought up about accessibility to the second level.

It was suggested to include a lift in the stairwell, but Carlson-Reddig said there are currently no plans to include it. One could be added later if needed.

Senior Alicia Brown, a member of the SAGE House, said she was concerned that not having the lift in the first place could discourage students with handicaps from even applying to live in the house.

Senior Meredith Harrison, also a member of SAGE, added that she wouldn’t want to live in a house where one could never go upstairs.

“I can’t imagine not being able to ever get upstairs,” she said. “You’re missing half the house.”

At the end of the meeting, Carlson-Reddig asked how everyone liked the new designs and the students responded with snaps and nods.

Junior Margot Reed, a member of Peace and Justice House, expressed her thanks for the architects being receptive to the needs and suggestions of the students.

Faculty discuss branding and class changes at meeting

Discussion centered on the issue of how Ohio Wesleyan portrays its message to prospective students at the Monday faculty meeting.

President Rock Jones announced that MindPower Consulting, based in Atlanta, will visit campus next week to meet with faculty and tour the university.

“MindPower is a sharp, clean, forward-thinking firm,” said Susan Dileno, vice president for enrollment.

The goal in bringing in the consulting company is to better present the message of Ohio Wesleyan to prospective students, especially the OWU Connection. Such programs include Theory-to-Practice grants, Travel-Learning courses, Course Connections and student individualized projects.

Jones said this campaign should focus on developing a comprehensive message of what we [the university] are promising students. He said they need to find a way to better present the opportunities in the OWU Connection, especially the student individualized projects (SIPs) because they are more compelling.

Amidst concerns from faculty members about the effectiveness of hiring an outside firm to better tell the message of OWU, Jones said this company will provide expertise and creative thinking and it is not unusual for universities to pursue this route.

He added it has been 10 years since such a comprehensive look from a consulting firm has happened at OWU.

Professor of English David Caplan brought up the concern of cost for hiring MindPower.

Jones said outside of the normally printed publications and yearbooks, the range would be around $200,000.

“I appreciate the candor and depth of thought,” Jones said at the end of his report.

Changes to classes

The Humanities-Classics department split into the comparative literature department and classics program at the end of the spring semester last year, but the course designations stayed the same.

The Academic Policy Committee approved the transitions of formally addressed HMCL classes to the new designation of CMLT and CLAS at the faculty meeting.

Anne Sokolsky, associate professor of comparative literature and head of the department, added that the previously labeled HMCL 124 Love and Sexuality classes will now be four separate course numbers, which allows students to receive credit for taking the class with different professors.

She said each class is completely different from the other and focuses on different locations and literature.

Previously cross-listed courses between botany/microbiology and zoology, such as ZOOL/BOMI 120, will now be addressed as biology courses, BIOL 120. These classes will still count as both botany/microbiology and zoology classes in terms of distribution, according to Paula White, professor of education and chairperson of the Academic Policy Committee.

The faculty also approved the addition of four new permanent additions to the curriculum.


Three deceased members of the OWU community were remembered through memorial resolutions.

Verne Edwards died in November 2014. He taught journalism at Ohio Wesleyan for 34 years and was the advisor for The Transcript and had an impressive resume of journalism work in the field.

Chaplain Jon Powers honored Reverend James Leslie who died in October 2014. Leslie was the first full-time chaplain and director of religious life at OWU for 28 years and helped support numerous clubs and organizations at OWU, such as founding the Student Union on Black Awareness (SUBA).

Catherine Schlichting was an honorary alumna who died in July 2014. She worked her way up from a reference librarian at Slocum Library to being the curator for the Ohio Historical Collection. Catherine Cardwell, who read her memorial, commented that she was a source of knowledge for anything about OWU, and the phrase “ask Cay” was often used.

Student flees, arrested for distribution

An Ohio Wesleyan student was arrested on Jan. 30 for possession of marijuana after running from Delaware Police Department (DPD) officers.

Senior Asa Diskin, who lives in the Bigelow-Reed House on Williams Drive, was charged with distributing and selling marijuana in addition to possession, according to the police report.

Public Safety officer Chris Mickens said he was searching Diskin’s room when he ran out carrying bags of marijuana. DPD was on-site when Diskin left the building.

DPD spokesman Capt. Adam Moore said Diskin was fleeing the scene when the police arrived, but when ordered to stop by an officer, he voluntarily laid down on the ground and was put in handcuffs.

Senior Alex Lothstein, who also lives in Bigelow-Reed, saw him running down the back staircase and go behind Delta Tau Delta fraternity house when the police arrived.

Lothstein also commented that while he has never seen this happen before, the odor of marijuana can often be smelled from behind the house.

Diskin’s charges are still pending in court. He could not be reached for comment.

Public Safety director Bob Wood said it is uncommon for a student to flee from a drug search. He said Diskin probably panicked and ran because of the amount of marijuana that he had.

“It’s the same thing when you’re driving and you do something bad and see the blue lights and sirens behind you and you hit the gas,” Wood added. “It’s like what are you thinking, they’re gonna catch you and you’re in so much more trouble that if you had just pulled over. It’s just panic mode where you’re not thinking.”

Wood said there are around 20 cases a year when PS responds to calls and finds drugs. As part of policy, PS is required to call DPD when they find drugs because they cannot confiscate the drugs themselves.

“For me to possess drugs is just like for you to possess drugs because I’m not an actual law enforcement officer,” Mickens said.

Wood added that about 90 percent of the time the police will file a criminal charge, depending on the amount and level of emergency.

Wood said OWU often gets criticized for the amount of drug charges it processes each year, but that other institutions “process them through just the judicial and not the arrest system.”

“One year, we had 23 drug charges or arrests and another school just about our size had none,” said Wood. “But that other school had 150 judicial cases that were the exact thing but they just process them through their conduct system and don’t call the police. For drugs on campus, we almost always do both.”

Mickens and Wood said the procedures and complaints can change depending on the location and proximity to campus. Because this case happened on campus, it involved both campus security and DPD.

Cases around Sandusky Street and Clancey’s would also involve PS, but beyond that the police would normally respond.

International enrollment, class times taken into account with faculty

owu 2

A new initiative to focus on international student enrollment was introduced at Monday’s faculty meeting.

President Rock Jones and Susan Dileno, vice president for enrollment, informed faculty about a partnership with EC English Language Centres, which would house international students on Ohio Wesleyan University’s campus while they completed an English as a second language program.

“Partnerships are powerful ways to increase enrollment,” Dileno said.

The program is meant to attract international students who were initially denied admission to the university based on their English skills. Through this program, students would be conditionally accepted to OWU and then fully enrolled once a predetermined ability level is met.

Students in the program would pay tuition to EC, but would pay room and board to OWU. In addition, EC would pay the university for the use of teaching space on campus.

Essentially, the students would be integrated into campus life at OWU, but not enrolled in university classes until their individual goals are reached in the program.

There is no guarantee that these students will attend OWU after completing the program, but the partnership will provide revenue for the university.

EC offers their own centers, independent of colleges and universities, across the world. There are only two other universities that have centers on their campuses: The State University of New York at Oswego and at State University of New York at Fredonia.

Class Changes

Faculty also approved a motion presented by the Academic Policy Committee to change class schedule times, allowing a second class time to be offered Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

Currently, the only time slot available these afternoons is from 1:10-3:00 p.m. With the new policy, classes will be offered from 1:10-2:30 p.m. and 2:40-4:00 p.m.

Further discussion will take into account labs, studio courses and seminars that might have originally used the original time block.

The motion also added a time slot Monday and Wednesday afternoons from 2:10-4:00 p.m. Furthermore, evening classes will begin at 6:30 p.m. everyday instead of 7 p.m.

OWU’s composting program does a disappearing act

Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, the temporary home of Ohio Wesleyan's weight room. Photo:

Students had the opportunity last year to compost their food and paper waste in The Marketplace. However, this year that program has gone away due to location and inefficiency.

Student interns, juniors Ellen Hughes and Reilly Reynolds, and other volunteers sorted through the trash twice a week to make sure materials that were not compostable were removed.

The university would have been fined if there was non-compostable materials sent to the composting company, Eartha Limited, Hughes said. Most of the common items they had to remove were chip bags, plastic bottles and even metal forks and spoons.

The head of Eartha Limited said it was not efficient to have a lot of paper waste according to Gene Castelli, the resident district manager of Chartwells at Ohio Wesleyan. They wanted more organic food waste.

“It was great that we had a composting program at all, but it really wasn’t working that well by the end,” Hughes said.

The students used the garage in the lower level of Ham-Will as a home base to sort through the trash, but lost that space when the weight room moved there.

“They needed to put the weight room somewhere so we had no place to do it,” said Castelli. “Another side is the university didn’t like students picking through garbage.”

Even though this initiative ended, Dining Services still works to compost and eliminate waste behind the scenes in both The Marketplace and Smith Dining Hall.

They have two programs that aim to eliminate waste pre-production and post-production: Trim Trax and Operation Clean Plate.

Trim Trax occurs in the kitchens as they are preparing food, such as cutting up tomatoes. Instead of throwing away parts that cannot be used, they put them in certain Trim Trax containers that will then be compostable.

Operation Clean Plate occurs in Smith, in which they compost excess food from students’ plates when they return them to the kitchen.

However, this would not work in The Marketplace because they do not use durable plates and the students are responsible for throwing away their trash.

The majority of the waste in the food court is paper products, not food and so wouldn’t make too much of a difference said Castelli.

Some students are still contributing to the effort, however, especially at some of the Small Living Units (SLU). Reynolds, also the moderator of Treehouse, said her house has a composting pile in their backyard. It contains mostly fruit and vegetable peels and will turn into dirt overtime.

Reynolds advice was for students to be aware of what they are throwing away each week and to buy less packaged things.

Dancers, professors look forward to new dance studio

Construction continues on the Simpson-Querry Fitness Center, which will house the new dance studio. Photo:
Construction continues on the Simpson-Querry Fitness Center, which will house the new dance studio. Photo:

Ohio Wesleyan’s dance studio is finally moving back on campus after being located in downtown Delaware for the last five years.

A new dance studio will be one of the features of the Simpson-Querrey Fitness Center opening in fall 2015.

The current studio at 38 S. Sandusky St. is a narrow space that sits in between Clancy’s Pub and the Delaware County Tourism Bureau. The only thing identifying it has the dance studio is a small white sign placed in the window, making it easy to pass by.

Rashana Smith, assistant professor of theatre and dance, said the move will bring more visibility to the dance department and to OWU’s various outlets of dance.

“I’m really looking forward to being on campus and to be more connected to campus and students,” freshman dance major Alexia Minton said.

Minton said the expansion of the dance department with the new studio put OWU above other schools when she was looking at colleges and helped her make the decision to come to Delaware.

“It’s really saying a lot about OWU and how they care about all departments,” Smith said. “It raises the standard to what the department expects and the students deserve.”

The space is expected to be about 42 feet by 67 feet. While the exact size of the current studio was not known, it is considerably smaller, Smith said.

“Choreographers can never see their piece as it would be performed,” she said. “The new studio gives distance and width.”

Both Smith and Minton agreed that one of the things they are looking forward to is having a floor specifically made for dance.

They had to add in another level to the floor in the current space this year to be able to have a sprung floor, which provides more give for jumps and other movements.

The move also provides more interaction with the health and human kinetics department, which Smith said is going back to the roots of dance.

Merrick Hall construction delays may have implications for commencement

The construction surrounding the renovation of Merrick Hall has a large portion of academic campus sectioned off, which may affect the location of spring commencement. Photo by Ben Miller
The construction surrounding the renovation of Merrick Hall has a large portion of academic campus sectioned off, which may affect the location of spring commencement. Photo by Ben Miller

Commencement this spring may take place on the Merrick Hall terrace, as long as construction stays on schedule.

“Merrick Hall as one of our oldest and most historic buildings is a natural backdrop for commencement, the most important event of the year,” President Rock Jones said.

Peter Schantz, the director of the physical plant, said the intention has always been to have Merrick as the site for commencement. The question is whether it will be ready in time for the upcoming ceremony in spring 2015.

In the past, commencement has been held on Phillips Glen and the patio of Phillips Hall was used for the stage. While not positive about how long commencement has taken place there, the Provost Chuck Stinemetz said he graduated there in 1983.

“The decision to move commencement to Merrick Hall was driven by both the physical challenges of holding graduation in the existing site and the advantages afforded by the Merrick site,” Stinemetz said.

There were many difficulties with the site at Phillips, such as faculty seating, line of sight for families and photography Stinemetz said. By moving commencement to a more central location in the quad area they hope to eliminate most of these problems.

“We are currently planning for graduation to take place in front of Merrick,” Stinemetz said. “However, we do have back up plans including the possibility of it returning to the Phillips patio or taking place on the lawn in front of University Hall.”

Construction at Merrick is on schedule at this time, but there have been some unforeseen challenges, which are to be expected in a nearly 150-year-old building Schantz said.

For example, constructions crews had to replace the water service to the building, which they were not anticipating.

While the terrace is in place, there are other aspects that need to be completed before the area is ready for commencement. They plan to install a new door on the south façade of the building in the center of the terrace. Also, a new driveway will hopefully be going in this fall in front of the site.