With an higher turnout of around 100 more students, this year’s Rock the Block ramped up the post-Day on the Jay concept begun last spring by bringing in more food trucks and a band from Columbus.
The event was a collaboration of several organizations, including the Campus Programming Board (CPB), Residential Life, the Student Involvement Office and CLEAR (Choosing and Learning Environments with Alcohol Respect).
“We have a new musical group (the Floorwalkers)…this year we’re getting a band from Columbus,” said Residential Life Coordinator Levi Harrel, also an advisor to CPB.
“They were one of the bands we’ve been looking at for a while,” said CPB co-president Elle Benak, a freshman.
The Floorwalkers, who just released their sophomore album, started in Cleveland and were named best band in Columbus by readers of (614) Magazine in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
Their Facebook page lists them as a garage soul band, and an OSU Lantern article said they draw influences from “blues, rock ‘n’ roll, funk and soul.”
Last year, music was provided by students ‒ Wahoo Sam Crawford, a band of mostly class of 2014 graduates, and the Arjune DJs.
The Floorwalkers drew less of a direct crowd to Delaware’s nearby Bicentennial Park, but were still listened to by students eating dinner and taking part in other activities on Rowland Avenue.
Whit’s Frozen Custard brought ice cream cups for students, which were provided free and were a big hit.
“I got free Whit’s, and there’s flower pot painting ‒ it’s good,” freshman Emily Burns said.
Senior Luke Peters said he liked the free Whit’s, but didn’t want to spend a lot of money at a food truck, particularly Kinetic, which charges $8 for its signature wraps and bowls.
For freshman Sarah Kohn, the food truck options were a relatively new experience; she went with Kinetic for dinner.
“OWU doesn’t have avocados and I’m eating avocados,” she said. “I’m really happy.”
Freshman Abigale Lyon also got Kinetic, though she came to the event to see the flower pot painting run by Modern Foreign Language House and its moderator junior Alanna Spalsbury, a fellow member of Delta Gamma.
The food trucks included PhillyBuster, Holy Smoke BBQ and Kinetic, co-managed by Andrew Tuchow (class of 2013).
Most students got Kinetic, but freshman Bailee Bonanno went with Holy Smoke BBQ and liked her meal a lot.
Eric Smith, a post-graduate intern with the Student Involvement Office, led the food truck selection effort and said variety was the main goal.
“We have a really good variety of food for everyone to enjoy,” Smith said.
Last year, OWU brought Kinetic and local favorite Dan’s Deli to Rock the Block but Smith decided against Dan’s this time since students can eat there most Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights.
“We wanted to spice it up (and) see what else we could throw in the mix.”
“I think the event overall went very well,” Harrel said afterward, noting the crowd seemed very energized.
For next year, the organizers plan to expand even further.
“We’re going to have more tables, more games, more events for students to participate in,” Harrel said.
When Ryan Missler hit a home run, it went farther than people were ready for.
At home in a practice game, he knocked a ball into the middle of Route 23, a record, then broke it by hitting the ball past 23. At Wittenberg, the ball went far over the fence and hit an oak tree so hard it ripped the skin off the ball.
After a game at Ohio State, which Ohio Wesleyan won, his two home runs made the news on all three channels; radio broadcaster Dave Maetzold described it by saying “this is Ryan Missler, and he hits a missile out of Bill Davis Stadium.”
Against the College of Wooster his sophomore year, Ryan hit a two-run homer, the only score of the first half of the doubleheader, and then his brother Aaron hit a home run with Ryan on base to win the second half 2-1. They advanced to the tournament because of the Misslers’ work.
Ryan and his brother Aaron, who graduated in 1996, were the first brothers to play baseball together for the Battling Bishops. College was the first time they took the field together since Little League.
Ryan’s father Mike managed to get all but one of the home run balls hit by them; he wrote down the distance and date for each and hung onto them.
Last summer, Mike, Aaron and many of the teammates were gathered around this collection remembering him at his wake; Ryan died in a car accident August 9 at the age of 38.
In his three years at Ohio Wesleyan, Ryan set the record for most home runs in a season and tied the record for career home runs, along with setting additional records.
Behind these high statistics was an intense drive to play the best possible game, no matter what.
On defense, he occasionally got an error for not completing a play that was nearly impossible to begin with – but he always tried.
“He made a play…I didn’t know how he even got to the ball and then he threw it and it was a short hop that I basically had to do the splits to get it,” Aaron said; it was one of their best plays together.
“When he was out here, he was out here for every pitch,” Mike said.
This included a time when Ryan had accidentally been hit in the head during warm ups; former Coach Roger Ingles (now Athletic Director) wanted to bench him for the doubleheader but Ryan insisted on not sitting out since it would have been the first time missing a game.
Ryan took the field, despite having a swollen, bloody left eye – which he needed most as a right-hander – and hit two home runs in one inning. In baseball, even being up to bat twice in an inning is a rare feat.
“There was nobody as intense as him,” said Eric Heise (’98). “That was the thing about Ryan. Whether it was on the field, whether it was in the weight room, whether it was playing a video game, studying…he wanted to be the best at whatever it was.”
“The more he played, the better he got so after he graduated he became twice the player he was in high school, and he was all-Ohio in high school,” said Tim Saunders, Ryan and Aaron’s baseball coach at Dublin Coffman High School.
But while he was a great player, everyone – from his high school and college coaches, teammates and family members – agreed he was a greater person.
“His statistics speak for themselves, but what they don’t say is what a great young man he was and how much he contributed to the baseball program,” said Pat Huber (‘62), a leader in the W Association of Athletics alumni.
In 2008, when Ryan was inducted into the OWU Athletics Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, he made a list of teammates he thought deserved the same recognition.
“If there was a Hall of Fame for being a man, he would have been in it,” Mike said. “He cared about everybody…we were lucky to have him for 38 years.”
In one game, the shortstop was being heckled by the other team’s fans and it was getting to him; Ryan just went over to him from third base, put his arm around him and then gave the fans “a shit-eating grin” as Mike put it.
The fans heckled Ryan instead after that, but he could take it easily and dish it back – not too long after that he hit one of his many home runs.
This dedication to his teammates didn’t end after graduation – Ryan was one of seven seniors on the baseball team in 1998 and they were a very close group.
“You could go six months and not talk to him, you call him and tell him you need him and he’d drop everything and leave,” said Thad Reinhard (’98).
“Ryan was my strength, my encouragement, my best friend,” said Heather Missler, Ryan’s widow.
“We shared a love that some go their whole life in search of.”
After graduating, Ryan spent time in the minor leagues with affiliates of the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds; he got a tryout with the Reds as a pitcher but pushed himself too hard and blew his arm out.
After that he worked alongside Aaron at their father’s irrigation company, which has provided services to many of OWU’s athletic fields. He married his wife Heather and they started a family. Heise and Reinhard agreed his competitive intensity – while always positive – mellowed a lot because of them.
“Every day he was anxious to get home to be with his family,” Mike said.
“One of my greatest memories was watching the love our boys, Trent and Caden, had for their dad,” Heather said.
“Ryan would walk through the door and the boys would light up with joy by just being in his presence. Ryan was a loving father and husband and he’s missed beyond comprehension.”
Ryan still didn’t back from a challenge at times, though – Mike said he helped out on a job at Ohio University on Aug. 5 that was as tough as any they’d ever done, without any complaint.
The day he died, Ryan was playing a round of golf with Aaron, Mike and some friends. He started out badly, but he didn’t care a bit.
Eight months later, many of Ryan’s friends and family were gathered at Littick Field once again, as the baseball team held a special ceremony to the man they’d dedicated their season to.
Coach Tyler Mott organized the event, held April 18, which included remarks from Mike – who thanked the university, saying Ryan had said he was very lucky to attend OWU, and that this was the highest honor a college could receive – and a cookout led by Mike.
The team also officially dedicated the sign that had been in left field all season, retiring the first number in OWU baseball history.
The team then swept Denison University in the doubleheader honoring Ryan, with scores of 6-4 and 11-6.
But while Ryan’s number was retired before those games, it was not his last game at OWU. His last OWU game wasn’t in 1998 either.
David Eastman, the announcer and an assistant professor of religion, said Ryan is now forever a part of the Bishops’ team since no one else will ever wear number seven.
So as long as the Bishops are taking the field, he’ll be considered with them in spirit.
While professional baseball just started their season last week, the Ohio Wesleyan baseball team has been playing for more than a month – and playing very well.
They have a 16-7 record, including a streak of 11 consecutive wins that began March 13 and ended April 6.
Last year the team finished 13-26, second to last in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) West with a 6-13 conference record.
Right now they’re at the top of the West at 6-2.
“Most of the team is back, and a lot of the same guys we tried out there last year we’re trying out there this year,” said head coach Tyler Mott. “They’re a year older, a year bigger, stronger, faster, more experienced and all of that helps.”
“I think our mindset is a little different…especially new things that coach has taught us that have really paid off,” said junior catcher/third baseman Aaron Caputo.
“Our senior leadership has really stepped up, juniors have even stepped up and even the returning sophomores,” said junior outfielder C.J. Tosino. “The freshmen that have come in have really seen that and fueled off of that and I feel like as a group we really just came together and decided that we want to do big things this year.”
The team started out shaky, going 4-4 in their spring break games in Florida, but they have been dominant ever since with a 23-3 win over Wabash College and a 22-7 game against Heidelberg University.
Now they are about halfway through their full season and a quarter of the way through conference play, which so far has been four sets of doubleheaders against Wabash and DePauw University.
The Bishops swept Wabash in four games on March 29 and 30, and finished 2-2 against DePauw April 11 and 12.
“I think as long as we keep our game plan and just play the game that we’ve been playing this whole year…there’s no way that we can’t have a good chance at winning the championship this year,” Tosino said.
Making a run for the championship was a goal of coach Mott’s, according to OWU athletics’ preview article, but now he’s focused on winning one game at a time.
“(Our NCAC West position) means nothing right now, you really got to just take it one week at a time,” he said.
The team has had to deal with several games postponed due to bad weather, including snow during their scheduled March 24 home game against Wilmington.
Caputo, an Ohio native, hasn’t been bothered much by this though.
“Every time that we don’t have a game, we usually end up having a practice,” he said.
“…We take practices just as seriously as games, we try to get as much done as we can and you got to practice like you play.”
The team has three more weeks of regular season play, with upcoming games against Muskingum and Wilmington this week and two doubleheaders against Denison on Saturday and Sunday.
During their April 18 rivalry game, they’ll honor OWU Athletics Hall of Famer Ryan Missler (‘98), who died in a car accident last summer.
The 1970s Cincinnati Reds were one of baseball’s great lineups, and versatile star Pete Rose was one of their leaders. Near the end of Rose’s 26 year career in the Majors – when he was a manager not a player – it was revealed that he’d bet money that his team would win; gambling on your own games is the greatest sin of baseball, ever since the Chicago White Sox threw the World Series in 1919.
In 1989, Rose was given a lifetime ban – barring him from entering the Hall of Fame – which remains today; many such bans are commuted but his has not been. Rose’s supporters and opponents alike believe the league’s punishment has been more severe because he denied the allegations for more than a decade, finally coming clean in his 2004 memoir.
He remains under the ban, but on March 16 Rob Manfred, the new commissioner of baseball, gave the strongest sign that it may be lifted, saying he’d consider Rose’s repeated request for reinstatement on its merits rather than rejecting it immediately.
To invert the famous question from the 1919 Black Sox scandal: Why’d you say it wasn’t so, Pete? Why’d you say it wasn’t so?
You had it all; there’s no doubt you were bound for the Hall for your performance as a player. Two World Series rings with the Reds, more than a dozen league records, a spot on the All-Century Team.
When I was playing as a kid, I took on part of your batting style – not as aggressive running the bases, obviously, but my hitting was similar. I went for finesse, rather than power – I could do just as much, if not more, off a well-placed bunt or line drive as anyone could with a hard hit ball to the outfied.
Heck, sometimes when I knew the catcher couldn’t hold on to the ball I’d let them strike me out, just so I could make a run for it and beat the throw to first. You probably did that at one time or another – probably not intentionally of course.
My main idols were more contemporary Reds with that style, such as Ryan Freel, but before that, when my dad was the age I was then, you were winning pennants for the Reds the same way and that’s what I heard about.
I want to write this column about why you should be allowed in the Hall, why I think it’s hypocritical for the league to keep you out and not give a similar ban for steroid use, why steroid use is actually worse.
But it’s just not that simple. There’s no way to spin this as the league going after you and my Reds completely without justification, even after 26 years.
No matter what else has happened since then, you messed up, and then you denied it, and no amount of bravado or tearful apologies will change that. This isn’t a David and Goliath, Reds versus establishment, fight. It’s about what you did – to your legacy, to yourself and to our team.
I can’t just rally around you blindly as if you didn’t let us all down too. You let the fans down, you let the organization down, you let your teammates down.
You realize that, at least by now – just look at your roast five years ago, when you broke down and admitted what you’d done to everyone else, to the game. But holding it in a casino? Really? How was that a good idea? How have a lot of the things you’ve done since then been a good idea?
This may not be completely fair; you showed a lot of signs of gambling addiction back then. But if you had to put down money on the games, you could have retired and then done it the next day. You knew the rules, you knew what you were doing. Why’d you do it, Pete?
How’d you get to that point? How’d the game get here, now?
My brother was a big fan of Sammy Sosa; loved to see him play for the Cubs. Well, Sammy Sosa put cork in his bat and used it against the Devil Rays. Sure, he said he only used the one in a game by accident; that it was meant for batting practice. Sure, all his other bats were clean. But still, corking a bat was just as clearly against the rules. Why’d you do it, Sammy?
And then there were the steroids. Why, oh, why did that happen, everyone?
In 2005, Jose Canseco said on 60 Minutes that around 80 percent of the players were using performance-enhancing drugs. Scores of stars – including Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire – all got caught using them. None of them have been banned; if they are the Hall of Fame may have a missing gap when no one, or very very few, from my childhood was deemed worthy.
I can rant at you, Pete Rose, all I want, but it’s not just about you; you’re just a stand-in. This is about one of my favorite sports, the ball games I grew up watching.
Baseball was the national game for so long; we reflected the spirit of America. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, symbols of resistance in the Great Depression. Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson and so many others, ushering in civil rights.
But somewhere between those glory days and now, we lost all that. ESPN said on March 19 that baseball’s not dead; it’s struggling but has a lot left to hang onto. But all they talked about was the money.
What about the public’s trust? What about the public’s interest?
We were the national pastime, and that used to mean something. Somewhere, somehow, we lost all that, and it’s a lot more complex than just one man’s gambling or a whole bunch of men and their steroids.
I still want to see Pete Rose in Cooperstown; I still will watch the games come Opening Day this April, when I can.
But the more I write this the more I realize things just aren’t the way they were anymore, when the game I grew up with was so simple and idealistic.
Maybe it never will be again.
Maybe it never was.
It still made for some great memories, though.
Whatever happens to the fate of the sport, or Pete Rose and the Hall, at least we’ll all still have that.
At the start of each spring semester, OWU’s Small Living Units seek new members ‒ but they’re running into increased competition with fraternities, most often for male candidates.
“I think that the fraternity system here at OWU, the fact that it’s residential, is why the gender ratios are so skewed in the SLUs,” said Citizens of the World (COW) House moderator Kerrigan Boyd, a senior.
“…In some ways it’s kind of cool that the SLU community is primarily driven by women, just because I feel like there are so…few things in society that are, but I feel like we strive for a community that’s inclusive of a variety of diverse backgrounds, including gender diversity.”
In terms of gender, OWU’s student body as a whole is 54 percent female and 46 percent male, according to the OWU website; data on non-binary students was not available and is not recorded by the University.
Non-binary, as described by sophomore Women’s House (WoHo) resident Rowan Hannan, refers to a gender identity that is different from the one assigned at birth; this includes a wide variety of genders beyond assigned and self-identified male or female.
A survey of SLU gender demographics finds that there are more than four times more women in SLUs than men and at least three non-binary students, including Hannan, who live in WoHo.
These statistics were provided by SLU moderators and some residents; there may be additional non-binary SLU residents whose identities aren’t fully known or realized, and were not counted accurately as a result.
Senior Meredith Harrison, WoHo moderator, said the SLU community tends to be fairly homogenous as a whole.
“We have a lot of cisgender, heterosexual white people; it’s predominantly female,” she said.
Low male participation – and a new exception
“There are absolutely less men who go through that (SLUsh) process, but I think at the end of the day that is a choice that our male students have to make (between fraternities or SLUs),” said Levi Harrel, residential life coordinator for the SLU community.
The Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) between Ohio Wesleyan and the seven residential fraternities currently on campus require all fraternity members to live in their houses, unless they work for Residential Life or the houses are above capacity.
“I can understand why the university wants to fill all the (fraternity) houses, because it’s more efficient that way,” said senior Brian Cook, president of the Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC).
“At the same time, I think I can understand why SLUs might be frustrated with that process.”
The MoUs make it rare for active fraternity members to live in SLUs, although there are some ways they can do both at the same time.
The most likely way for active fraternity members to live in a SLU would be if their organization is non-residential ‒ such as Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) or one of the National Pan-Hellenic Council groups, nine traditionally African-American Greek organizations. Currently, no one is using this option, however there will be a member of FIJI in the House of Spiritual Athletes next year.
While FIJI will be a residential fraternity again starting next semester, the chapter will be above occupancy due to increased recruiting in the past. It’s not known yet whether HSA will have a house or if it’s members will be living in other housing, though.
With ten members, HSA’s residents will make up half the male population of next year’s SLU community, but they plan to recruit women in the future.
“We had interest from some women, but there were a lot more guys interested and we didn’t want to have an awkward guy to girl ratio,” said freshman Conner Brown, one of two candidates to be HSA moderator.
“We do plan to offer and integrate women into the SLU in the future but we knew we may not even have a house this next year.”
The second most likely exception is if they are the moderator ‒ equivalent to a resident assistant for dormitory life, thus exempting them from the Greek residency requirement.
There is one actively Greek male moderator, senior Noah Manskar, who’s also the only male moderator this year. To do this, he had to join his SLU, become moderator and then go Greek ‒ then be selected as moderator again to remain in the house.
The structure of this year’s fraternity rush and SLU rush (SLUsh) processes also required potential new fraternity members to make a decision on their bids before receiving SLU interview results, leading several male students to opt out of SLUsh entirely.
Challenges with fraternity recruitment
“I’ve heard of a lot of men who drop out – they do start slushing and then they drop out because they get bids,” said senior Meredith Harrison, moderator of the Women’s House.
The House of Peace and Justice (P&J) was hit particularly hard by this ‒ originally four men signed up for interviews, but three received fraternity bids and withdrew from the SLUsh process to accept them.
“We had one (man), out of 21 people (who applied),” said Manskar, P&J’s moderator.
“I think we have definitely noticed a decrease in the amount of men who have applied to houses this year,” said junior Reilly Reynolds. “I think all the members of the SLUs have.”
Reynolds is moderator of Tree House, which had 17 students apply during this SLUsh season. None of them were men.
“I really don’t think it’s fair to the guys, because they have to make a decision on Greek life before they make a decision about SLU life,” she said.
Sophomore Cindy Hastings, also a Tree House resident, added that the low gender ratios can also deter some non-Greek men from the SLUsh process, as they may not be as comfortable applying and interviewing at an all or mostly-female house.
The Women’s House encounters this in more than most; Harrison said the current name may discourage some men from applying. This year they had two men apply, which she said is “really good for us.”
While it’s rare for men to be involved in SLU and fraternity life simultaneously, students can do both over their four years at Ohio Wesleyan, and several have. In most cases, though, they leave their SLU to go Greek, rather than the other way around.
Senior Kyle Simon is one of those who’ve done both ‒ he lived in the Women’s House (WoHo) his sophomore year before moving into Chi Phi last year.
“It was really, really wonderful,” Simon said about his time in WoHo.
While he enjoyed the experience, he found Greek life offered a different type of community that appealed more; close personal friendships with future fellow members also led him to Chi Phi.
Simon remains active in some SLU programs, and credits his dual experience of SLU and Greek perspectives as being really helpful.
“I think they’re really good options for people, but they’re completely different types of structures,” he said.
“Every SLU and every Greek organization’s so different that it’s not really the same decision (to join one or the other.)”
Harrison said Simon’s done a lot to connect her house and his fraternity after leaving, though the two organizations already had a strong connection.
During Take Back the Night, an annual Women’s House event, members of Chi Phi will guard WoHo in its residents’ absence. This safety measure is due to a 1984 incident where two male students threw a smoke bomb into the house and nearly burned it down.
“I feel like, as far as fraternities go, we’ve always had a really good relationship with Chi Phi,” Harrison said.
Benefits of Greek and SLU overlap
Alpha Sigma Phi also has a former SLU resident, junior Scott Woodward, and current SLU resident Noah Manskar.
Woodward lived in the House of Thought (HoT) last year and moved into Alpha Sig this year after accepting a bid.
“Deciding to slush and live at (HoT) was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in college,” Woodward said.
He decided to rush to learn more about the Greek community, something he hadn’t considered joining before coming to college.
“Leaving House of Thought for Alpha Sig was the definition of bittersweet,” he said, but the commitments of both would have been too much to handle on top of academics and clubs.
Brian Cook, president of the Inter-Fraternity Council, is also a member of Alpha Sig and he described the benefits the chapter has received from having SLU members.
“The people that tend to join SLUs, at least in our example, (have) a different way of thinking about things than people who may be prone to join a fraternity so it’s good to have that kind of diversity of thought flowing around,” Cook said.
In particular, he discussed how Manskar has integrated one of his Peace and Justice house projects into Alpha Sig’s OWU chapter community.
Two years ago, Manskar hosted a V-Men workshop for the campus, but had a small turnout of 15 participants.
V-Men is a program created by the V-Day organization, which also created the Vagina Monologues, to bring men together around the issue of violence against women and girls.
After joining Alpha Sig last spring, partly to integrate SLU ideals into the fraternity community, Manskar held the workshop within his new chapter.
“All of our guys loved it and we really appreciate him doing that,” Cook said; the chapter is now making it part of their new member education process.
“At least in our example those guys (Manskar and Woodward) were willing to take the charge on that, because of their experience with holding those kinds of programs in their own SLUs,” he added.
While Meredith Harrison said she hopes for more fraternity-SLU outreach, she sees a lot of positives in the relationship between SLUs and OWU’s sororities.
“For Women’s Week, a lot of sororities support it and I think that is because we have so much Greek representation in our house,” she said.
This year, the Women’s House has had one member from Kappa Alpha Theta, one from Kappa Kappa Gamma and two from Delta Zeta, though one of them withdrew from the university after the fall semester.
“(SLU membership) does impact (the sorority community), but in a natural way because they’re living with different people, so they get to share those things that they’re learning with different people,” said sophomore Jocelyne Muñoz.
“They get to get other perspectives, so (it’s) definitely a positive.”
Muñoz is community development director of OWU’s Panhellenic Council, the sorority equivalent of IFC, and a member of Delta Gamma.
Strong bonds between SLUs and sororities
Unlike fraternity members, sorority members cannot live in their houses at Ohio Wesleyan, and so a sizeable percentage of the female SLU community are also sorority members.
Of the six female SLU moderators this year, for example, four are in sororities.
“(SLU life) encourages more active members in the OWU community,” said junior Natalie Geer, president of OWU’s Panhellenic Council.
Muñoz added that living in the same SLU “absolutely” connects members of different sororities, and that the presence of sorority members in SLUs “definitely” brings their non-SLU members to events.
“There is (an) impact from having your sisters in (SLUs) so more of those sisters will attend those events because they’re involved,” she said. “But I don’t think it should stop others from attending those events, just because they’re getting that (sorority) support anyways.”
At the Citizens of the World (COW) House around half the female residents are in sororities but this doesn’t have a significant impact on the House culture, according to moderator Kerrigan Boyd.
“I think that people who are involved in SLUs and Greek life a lot of times are leaders and people that really strive to be deeply involved in the OWU community,” said Boyd, also a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma.
“…I think that having people who are leaders in multiple settings, not just SLUs, doesn’t isolate us; I think that that’s been a strength.”
“I think my experience with all the Greek women I’ve lived with is they are fully part of both,” said Noah Manskar, Peace & Justice House moderator.
“They hold officer positions in the sororities and they put on great house projects here. I think it’s good that the SLUs are kind of integrated with the sororities…(they) seem to mesh very well.”
In P&J there’s an even split this year: six affiliated women, six unaffiliated women, and five men. Among the sorority women of P&J, there is one Kappa, two Tri-Deltas and three Kappa Alpha Thetas.
Kappa Alpha Theta has the highest number of sorority SLU residents, with eleven.
A safe space for other gender minorities
Each year, SLUs must go through a renewal process; this year the Women’s House requested to change their name to the Sexual and Gender Equality (SAGE) House after lengthy discussion among current and potential new members.
The change was part of a deliberate strategy by moderator Meredith Harrison to make the house more queer-inclusive. Queer, used as a positive term by Harrison, refers to non-heterosexual sexual and romantic orientations and non-binary gender identities.
“This year, we started having conversations about the house name and how it could be really alienating to our non-binary housemates or trans men on this campus,” she said. “…I’m really proud of my community for wanting to become more inclusive.”
Hannan, who joined the house at the start of this year, said they’ve been able to better understand their gender identity because of their time in the house and the supportive environment it’s residents provide.
“Because we continually work to create a safe space, it has allowed me to explore my gender as well as the way I perceive others,” Hannan said.
“I often forget that when leaving the SLU bubble that people will not ask for my pronouns, will assume my gender based on the way I present, and will often not acknowledge the existence of non-binary genders.”
While they could only speak from their own experience, Hannan said they thought the SLU community can be more comfortable than Greek life for non-binary students.
“Fraternities and sororities literally represent the gender binary,” they said. “…However there are trans and non-binary people who are happy in fraternities, and I think it isn’t something to necessarily be generalized.”
The number of non-binary SLU residents for next year will increase from at least three to at least five, and not all of them will live in the SAGE House.
“I have only experienced one slush with the house so I can’t speak to a trend, but there were several non-binary applicants this year, and I know there have been in the past,” Hannan said.
“I wouldn’t say there is more, but I feel that PRIDE and SAGE have both done very well this year in creating an atmosphere of acceptance and safety, and allowed people to explore and come out in their identities.”
Harrison added that the house’s name change reflects a growing trend in the feminist movements that SAGE reflects.
“Women are not the only gender minorities – the trans community, non binary people, you can’t ignore that and you can’t ignore that in feminism, you can’t ignore that in the queer movement,” she said. “So I think changing the name and the mission statement is absolutely necessary for how gender politics are going.”
Hannan said they want to create more safe spaces for non-binary students, but also “brave spaces” where students can “challenge what people say and try to educate others and create a genuine dialogue.”
“The best way to be an ally to people of other identities is to listen, and to use your privileges to challenge ignorance, and empower others,” they said.
Ohio Wesleyan public services librarian Jillian Maruskin first began planning “Live at the Library” at the start of last semester, and it was finally held Feb. 19 in the Bayley Room.
She received assistance from library social media intern Kyle Hendershot, a senior, and fellow librarian Ben Daigle; performing groups included the JayWalkers, Babbling Bishops and Pitch Black.
“We really wanted to figure out a way to use the library’s spaces that they have, so we figured this (the Bayley Room) was kind of an under-utilized space,” Hendershot said.
They set the event up between the Grammys and Oscars, and it too had a red carpet atmosphere, with Hendershot serving mocktails and senior Caleb Dorfman taking photos.
“We really want attendees to dress up and feel kind of fancy and special,” Maruskin said before the event. “The red carpet and paparazzi will hopefully make attendees and performers feel like movie stars, at least for a little while.”
By the start of performances, the seats were all filled, with more attendees standing in the back.
“I think the attendance surpassed what we thought it would be, we had a lot of fun,” Maruskin said. “I think on this campus, performing groups support other performing groups and that helps a lot. I was really happy with the (Babbling) Bishops; that was so fun – I’ve never seen them before.”
The Babbling Bishops, a campus improv group, brought out a few new routines they had developed. One, “Story Story Die,” had direct audience participation for the first time.
In the skit, participants have to take turns telling a story; anyone who can’t keep up has to act out a death scene of the audience’s choosing.
Junior Spencer Dick was selected to take part with the Babblers, and together they told a story of Taylor Swift’s fight against unicyclists, Martians and ex-boyfriends.
“I thought it would be fun, I love doing skits and stuff,” Dick said; he has similar experience as a summer camp leader.
Junior Dane Poppe, who led the “Story Story Die” skit, said they’d been planning to get audience members involved in short-form games like that.
“It gets more people to come back,” he said.
“I’d heard about the Babbling Bishops before, I didn’t really know what they did but I knew they were kind of an improv group,” said sophomore Jenna Chambers, an audience member.
“It was fun seeing their different games, and everyone got really into it.”
Chambers and several other members of Delta Zeta came to watch some of their fellow members in the Babbling Bishops and Pitch Black. Senior Rhiannon Herbert was one of them, seated next to Chambers, but they didn’t know in advance about the formal, red carpet aspect.
“If I knew we would have (the red carpet), I would have dressed up,” Herbert said.
The improv act was bookended by a cappella performances, with the JayWalkers leading off the event with seven songs and Pitch Black finishing with a rendition of their recent competition set.
The JayWalkers performed a series of songs – some, like All-American Rejects’ “Gives You Hell” and Fergie’s “Clumsy,” for the first time.
“Of the stuff we knew, we tried to get an even mix of fun, fast (and) slow songs,” said their president Gabe Incarnato, a senior.
While Pitch Black performed the same songs from ICCA, they added snapping to their second song “Run To You” and cut out the choreography, due to the smaller performance space.
“We had a week off after ICCA so we haven’t much rehearsals yet, obviously that’s fresh in our minds,” said senior president Grace Thompson. “We like supporting the library and Jillian’s one of our biggest fans, so of course we were willing to do it.”
It was a matchup that had been played twice before, and this time wasn’t very different from the others.
But this round was worth more – after their third win against Oberlin College, the Ohio Wesleyan men’s basketball team will advance to the North Coast Athletic Conference’s tournament semifinals against DePauw University.
The women’s basketball team was also playing at Oberlin during this game, and won 75 to 58 with a career-high 24 points from junior Emily Julius.
Like the men’s team, they’ll face DePauw next, but the OWU women’s team lost against them 74-69 in their previous matchup.
The men’s game will be this week on Feb. 27 at 8:30 in Branch Rickey Arena.
In the regular season, DePauw took on the OWU men’s team twice, and lost both times – first on January 17, 76-64, and again on February 21, 86-77.
“We know we’re playing a really good team, we’re going to enjoy this one tonight and start getting ready for DePauw tomorrow,” said men’s team head coach Mike DeWitt.
“…Being the regular season champions is, you know, obviously a good thing. We’re on to our next goal now, which is to try to win the conference tournament.”
The men’s team has three consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament as well, and DeWitt said he hopes for a fourth, which they’ll automatically get if they win the conference tournament.
If they don’t win, they find out if they get an at-large spot March 2.
DeWitt said the team relies greatly from having a wide range of talent; in the regular season four of their five starters averaged more than 12 points a game. Junior post Claude Gray led with 19.8 per game; in this game he had 31 points.
“We have a lot of different weapons, we have a lot of different guys that can do a lot of different things,” DeWitt said. “That’s our biggest strength as a team.”
“I think the best way to describe this group is they are really a true team,” said athletic director Roger Ingles. “You had four different kids this year that were player of the week in the conference – you can’t just shut down one guy.”
What they don’t have a lot of, though, are seniors – there’s one on the whole roster, senior starter Nick Felhaber.
“It’s been interesting, really we’ve got a lot of guys who play like seniors so it doesn’t feel like I’m the only senior,” Felhaber said.
“He’s a great senior, he’s a great leader and we’re going to miss him once he graduates,” DeWitt said about Felhaber.
At the start of the year, Felhaber said, OWU was predicted to finish fourth, so finishing first has been a great experience.
On the other end is starting guard Nate Axelrod, a freshman, but he said the team’s welcomed him into the ranks.
“To be honest, it was a little nerve-wracking…coming into college, new teammates, new players I’m playing against.”
Looking toward the Friday night game, Axelrod said it’d be a “great feeling” to be at home with fellow students behind him and the team.
Ingles added he hopes “a lot of folks from the university” support them, including students. The current Weather Channel forecast puts the Friday night temperature at -7℉, with a 10 percent chance of snow.
I’ve been afraid this would happen ever since the Charlie Hebdo attack. But I, and the nation, should have been fearing it since Sept. 11, 2001.
Three Muslim students living near the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill were murdered Tuesday night.
Their names were Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammed Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha. They were the same ages as many of us: 23, 21 and 19.
Deah Shaddy Barakat and his wife Yusor, who graduated from nearby North Carolina State, were planning to become dentists; he’d been raising money to support Syrian refugees.
According to VICE News, their neighbor Craig Hicks turned himself in and has been charged with their murders.
VICE reports that Hicks is believed to have posted anti-religious messages on Facebook; CNN reports he is an atheist.
Facebook was how I heard about this; I saw news posts with a headline like “Three killed in shooting at UNC.”
Another school shooting, I thought. It was sad, of course, but I was hardly surprised – and what does that say about the nation we live in?
Then the details emerged.
Police have said Hicks had a dispute with his three victims over parking in the area; Dr. Mohammed Abu-Salha, Yusor and Razan’s father, says this is a hate crime and that Hicks had animosity toward his daughters and son-in-law because of their religion and culture.
It’s not certain that this was a hate crime, even in spite of the Facebook posts and Dr. Abu-Salha’s comments. And I don’t know what was in Hicks’ mind, if he is the killer.
I do know that if three devout Christians were murdered, and a Muslim man had been charged after posting anti-Christian messages on Facebook, well, there would be a media field day over that, particularly from conservative-leaning news sites.
I know that every time I checked CNN Wednesday morning, they were devoting their airtime to ISIS and their actions in the Middle East, not these murders of Americans on US soil, in their own home. They do have an online story, but that gets a lot less attention than what’s presented on screen.
After learning about these murders, my first class met with a former media coordinator with the Columbus office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
She spoke about the need for balanced and humanizing depictions of Muslims in the media; her visit had been planned well in advance, but the previous night’s killing made it incredibly powerful.
As a Unitarian Universalist (UU), I am reminded of the 2008 murder of two UU members in their Knoxville Church, by a terrorist claiming to act in the name of Christianity and right-wing conservatism.
But that doesn’t compare to this; I was not a UU at the time, and it was an isolated incident; we don’t have to fear daily aggression in the same way many Muslim or Arab-appearing people do in the United States.
I am reminded of the terrorist attack against Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, which left six dead in 2012; this attack was also carried out by a white supremacist.
I am reminded that as the news media focuses on self-proclaimed Islamic groups like ISIS and their murders of Western hostages, the overwhelming majority of their victims are Syrians and Iraqis, many of them Muslims.
I am also reminded, as Al Jazeera America has pointed out, that Mexican drug cartels have also used Christianity as a tool in the same way that ISIS uses Islam, and that they are carrying out televised, gruesome executions and general mass murder with far less media scrutiny in the United States.
On Wednesday, the Chaplain’s Office devoted their mid-week prayer service to remembering these three lives, and informed us that the community service learning office is working with Tauheed to raise funds for their charity. It’s called Project Refugee Smile, and it’ll help Syrian refugees in Turkey receive proper dental care.
And that reminds me of one last thing. Two years ago, I wrote a story about OWU students standing in solidarity with fellow students at UNC-Chapel Hill.
That time it was about sexual assault, but it’s time we stand in solidarity with UNC students again – with UNC’s Muslim community, their friends and the entire nation’s Muslim community.
BOWLING GREEN — Though they didn’t make the ICCA quarterfinal top three this year, OWU’s all-female a cappella group Pitch Black came very close on Jan. 31.
They finished fourth, behind Bowling Green’s Ten40, Michigan State’s State of Fifths and Kent State’s the Kent Clarks. In total, 10 groups competed; Pitch Black was the only all-female group.
Despite not placing in the top three, Pitch Black leaders were in high spirits. Had they placed in first or second, they would have had to compete during OWU’s spring break. Several of their members are on mission trip teams and would be unable to participate.
“It doesn’t feel lower, not in terms of the numbers,” said president Grace Thompson, a senior. “…We keep getting better every year, just like we thought we would.”
For new Pitch Black member Emily Phillips, a sophomore who watched last year’s ICCA from the audience, participating in ICCA this year showed her how much work goes into a performance.
“I feel so incredibly blessed for this opportunity, and to have the opportunity to meet new people, and see what they’re about, and this talent that I’m developing, it’s amazing,” she said.
“We worked really hard on all of this…places don’t really matter,” added music director Brianna Robinson, a senior.
“The group that won, Ten40, was incredible.”
One of Ten40’s leaders, Will Baughman, praised Pitch Black for its performance this year and at last year’s ICCA, where they placed third.
“Their second song (Run To You), best singing of the night – hands down,” Baughman said.
“I couldn’t find one person who disagrees with that…I was convinced that they won at that point.”
Former Ten40 member and current Delaware resident Clay Thomson also praised Pitch Black’s cover of “Run To You.”
“The vocals, especially, I thought were very strong,” he said. “The middle number, the ballad, was very moving. Very good balance, great blend, very well done.”
Following the competition, the a cappella groups and their fans mingled together in the lobby. A large number of OWU students were in attendance, many of them wearing Pitch Black’s “I heart PB” t-shirts.
More photos from the performance can be viewed here.
With three rehearsals to go, group leader Brianna Robinson reminded the women of Pitch Black what they represent and what’s at stakes.
“We’re damn good and we all know that,” she said. “… It’s our responsibility to hold the name.”
When she spoke, she had the gravity of a football coach at the goal line, and like a coach she demands 110 percent. Everyone listened.
“I feel like the campus knows who we are,” she explained afterward. “… They know that we go to ICCA every year and I think there is a responsibility in that.”
Pitch Black is entering the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) for the fourth consecutive year, but over half their members are newcomers. Their intensity isn’t driven by arrogance, Robinson made a point of saying, but by a love of singing.
Even on non-rehearsal days, Robinson tells the singers they need to practice. The competition is days away, and everyone can feel it.
“I’m so excited,” Audrey Bell told the group.
“Who, in their life, gets to do this, right here? Not many.”
Bell is a new member, but also a senior, so her first ICCA will be her last, she added sadly.
Last year, Pitch Black placed third in the quarterfinal, their best finish so far, and this has inspired them to aim even higher.
Because of this, junior Emma Sparks said, “we can continue to (perform)…and continue placing, or not, and that’s fine, we still have a great time.”
This year’s competition is in Bowling Green, and that brings family connections: freshman Zoe Sares has an uncle who owns a restaurant there, and Abi Horvat’s sister will be in attendance.
She’s only 10, Horvat said, but she already plans to go to OWU and wants to join Pitch Black.
“If you don’t mind, I might introduce her,” Horvat said; everyone was enthusiastic.
While the women of Pitch Black take their work seriously, it’s humorous moments like these that keep them close. When it’s time to sing, they sing, but when there are breaks anything goes.
During an interview with the group, for instance, jokes, snapping, unexpected singing and even horseplay were frequent; at one point Sares hit fellow freshman Dagny Tracy with a wristband.
When ICCA’s aren’t looming overhead, it’s common for them to spontaneously start singing, sophomore Emily Phillips said. Sometimes, like before the interview, they’ll sing a rhythm while only saying “meow.”
“Brianna and Grace (Thompson) do a great job of keeping us on task, because that’s not always easy,” Phillips said.
One of the reasons Robinson is so insistent that they focus is because Pitch Black is all women; she says this requires a higher bar than their all-male counterparts.
All-male groups tend to have lower expectations than women’s groups; she’s seen videos where male groups get higher ratings for a goofy performance than all-women groups that did the same thing.
“I really wanted to do the boy band mashup because we’re just having fun the whole time,” Robinson said. “We’re doing boy band motions, we’re bringing back old songs that people are going to know and I think that gives us power and makes us feel we can do whatever we want to, just like anybody else can.”
“There’s no reason that we should be lower on a judge’s scale just because we’re women and we’re doing these ‘silly moves’ and whatever like that…we always try and have music that makes us feel strong and empowered.”
Coming with that identity of empowerment, Spalsbury and Sparks said they take after women such as Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, lawyer Michelle Obama and pop singer Whitney Houston.
Many of the newer members, though, find their a cappella inspiration in Pitch Black’s veterans, including Spalsbury and Sparks.
Phillips decided to join because Spalsbury was trying to recruit a beatboxer; now Phillips, a percussion major, will be anchoring the beat at ICCA.
She’ll have some big shoes to fill. Last year, junior Maeve Nash won Best Vocal Percussionist at the ICCA quarterfinal but she’s studying in Ireland this semester.
For Sares, interest in Pitch Black was one of the primary things that led her from sunny Colorado to not-so-sunny Delaware.
“(At a college fair) that lady that was there, all she could talk about was (OWU’s) a cappella groups, especially the all-women’s a cappella group, so I was like, ‘sign me up!’” Sares said.
“Zoe, you were one of the most excited people to come up to the table (at club fair), like low-key excited,” Spalsbury told her in response.
Like Sares, junior Hannah Simpson came to college wanting to join a cappella, along with leading tours, and as the rest of the group quickly pointed out, she mentioned this while wearing an official OWU Tour Guide shirt.
For her, both goals have been accomplished.
Whether Pitch Black will accomplish their ICCA goals will be decided Jan. 31st, on the stage of Bowling Green High School.