A few thoughts and a final farewell

I can’t believe I’m writing my final op­-ed piece as editor-­in-­chief. I have been dedicated to The Transcript since my first semester freshman year. It feels as though I’m leaving my family, or someone I really, really like.

I struggled to think about what I should write about. I’ve already written about how this paper has improved my self-­confidence and writing skills. I’ve also written about how thorough the journalism department and The Transcript, I found people that are now integral parts of my life.

So I’ve decided to write something about the recent issues concerning The Transcript and the faculty meeting.

Since I became editor in January 2015, I have always sent a reporter to cover faculty meetings.

Normally, nothing remarkable happens in them. In fact, they’re normally quite boring. But this semester, members of the faculty have taken issue with our presence. They think because we having a sharing agreement with The Delaware Gazette that our reporter is somehow connected to the Gazette. That is completely and utterly false.

Another issue is that some faculty members don’t feel comfortable with our pieces being published in the Gazette. That makes me roll my eyes, because we publish online. People from around the world read us. We are no long an insular publication like in years past. We are not out to get faculty members and start a witch ­hunt. The rationale I have behind covering these meetings is to let students, parents and families, and the shareholders and stakeholders, know what is going on in this institution. I don’t think it’s a lot to ask for a bit of transparency.

As I hurtle toward real­-life, I have no regrets with how I’ve managed this paper. Actually, I’m extremely proud of everything I have done. My fellow editors and reporters have done everything, and more, that I’ve asked of them. I don’t know how I would’ve managed without them, to be quite frank.

This faculty meeting issue will not be solved in an hour­-long meeting or a few weeks. This is obviously something that has touched the nerve of many, and there needs to be some sort of compromise. However, I will not back down in advocating for reporters to be at faculty meetings. I stand by all of my decisions.

I have put blood, sweat and tears into this publication. I don’t regret any of my sleepless nights, my anxiety attacks or mistakes I have made along the way. This paper has made me into who I am; how I identify myself at Ohio Wesleyan. It is probably one of my proudest accomplishments not only at OWU, but also in my life.

It’s a shame that the ending of my tenure as editor is being marred by controversy. But hey, I would rather go out with a bang rather than a whimper.

Obsession to the highest degree

Photo courtesy of theclash.com.
Photo courtesy of theclash.com.

I’m the kind of person who fixates on things. I definitely have an obsessive personality, so once I’m interested in something, I really don’t let go. And the same goes with albums. Rather, sections of albums.

Lately, I can’t stop listening to The Clash’s 1983 album, Sandinista! Actually, I can’t stop listening to the second disc. There are 36 songs on the album, which means I’ve been listening to the same 18 songs over and over again. Not that I mind.

When I try to listen to different music, I can’t get into it. I truly have no explanation as to why I’m so fixated on this section of the album. And Sandinista! isn’t the only culprit in this weird habit I have. For example, within the past few days, I can only listen to the second side of Bruce Springsteen’s The River. The first side? I mean, it’s good. But the second side is what is permanently on my mind.

These albums consume me. Not only is this the only music I can bear to listen to, these songs are permanently stuck in my head. I fall asleep with them circling my brain, and even before I open my eyes in the morning, they start yet again. Instead of doing schoolwork, I do research on the albums. I mean, I ultimately get my work done, but it just delays the process.

Fixation on specific parts of albums is definitely a weird thing, which I completely understand. I wish I had some sort of rationale or reason as to why this happens, but I definitely don’t. I know it will continue, I just want to know what album is next.

Commission seeks to solve difficult problems

In recent weeks, many colleges and universities across the country have struggled with their administrations over racial and cultural inequalities. Many students have protested that their administrators do not listen to their concerns. Ohio Wesleyan’s President’s Commission on Racial and Cultural Diversity (PCORCD) tries to avoid just that complaint.

PCORCD was formed in 2007 and has three main goals: “to report annually to the president on the state of racial and cultural diversity at Ohio Wesleyan; to make recommendations aimed at improving the climate of racial and cultural diversity at Ohio Wesleyan; and to recommend the annual recipient of the President’s Award for Racial and Cultural Diversity,” said Rock Jones, president of OWU.

The award recognizes an individual or organization “that has done the most to improve the state of racial and cultural diversity” on campus, said Jones.

Chuck Della Lana, the director of media services, serves as a co­-chair of the commission. He said the commission is currently “working with the president’s office and the human resources department to offer a diversity/bias training program to all staff and faculty which we expect to roll out this winter.”

The module, which was created by WeComply, seeks to explain federal, state and local workplace ­diversity laws, and also “emphasize the importance of treating everyone with respect and dignity and…demonstrates how embracing diversity can be a sound business strategy,” according to the company’s website.

Jones said PCORCD is “particularly focused today on the need for bias and sensitivity training, and the need for a clear method available to report incidences reflecting bias, insensitivity, discrimination and other forms of mistreatment.”

A goal of the commission is to expand similar types of workshops to the entire campus. John Sanders, interim director of human resources at OWU, said in an effort to hire more diverse faculty and staff, job postings have been going to HBCU Connect. HBCU Connect is a web service where current and former students of HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) can look for jobs and connect with potential employers.

Currently, PCORCD is working with OWU’s Spectrum Resource Center. Della Lana said they are creating a “Campus Pride Index, which should clearly indicate how we rank with other colleges when it comes to providing service and support to our GLBTQ students.”

Della Lana said once the index is completed, the commission “will receive a report with specific suggestions on how we can work together to provide a safer and more inclusive campus community.”

Two students are on the commission, and as of publication, they have not responded to requests for comment.

Even with these precautionary measures being taken, PCORCD is still trying to find its niche on campus.

“We believe the best way to prevent conflict on campus is for all of us to speak openly and honestly about the issues we face,” Della Lana said. “OWU is not a perfect community. There is much work to be done and we don’t have all the answers.”

Let’s step outside the western state of mind

Beirut, Lebanon. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
Beirut, Lebanon. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

As I woke up from my weekly Friday nap on Nov. 13, I checked my phone. Expecting a few texts or a Snapchat or two, I was instead greeted with alerts about the Paris terrorist attack. That woke me up immediately.

After the deadly terrorist attacks in Beirut the day before, I didn’t know what to expect. When I heard a concert hall was attacked, my heart broke. People going to end their week with some great music were instead greeted with terror and death. The Islamic State (ISIS) has taken credit for both attacks.

It’s an unfortunate reality we live in now. We hear about these atrocities all the time, and this point, some people might not have the visceral reaction they once had. And honestly, who could blame them? When something like attacks on innocent civilians seems to occur almost everyday, we almost become numb.

My social media accounts are littered with posts about standing in solidarity with Paris. What about the attacks in Beirut? I don’t see anything about standing in solidarity with them on my social media accounts. Whenever a country experiences a terrorist attack, or any type of attack, we have to support them, even if they are not a Western country.

Admittedly, it’s hard to think outside such an American-­centric bubble. France is one of our oldest allies, so of course our support extends to them. But we need to be reminded that these brutalities carried out by ISIS happen everyday in Iraq. Other than some articles in various news outlets, how much attention do we really pay to countries like Syria and Iraq, which are going through attacks like these almost everyday?

I don’t want anyone to think I’m downplaying the Paris attacks, because I am not. They are horrific and despicable. But we need to step outside our typical Western mindset. If as much attention was being paid to the attacks in Beirut as in Paris, who knows what the response would be. Granted, the Beirut attacks didn’t kill as many people as the ones in Paris, but they were still devastating.

Maybe I’m thinking like this because I’m an international studies major and I’m currently taking a class that focuses on terrorism. Or maybe I’m thinking about this because I see news reports about ISIS beheading ethnic Afghanis, including children. Or maybe I’m thinking about this because I’m feeling completely hopeless about this world.

If we open our eyes a little bit more, we will see that we aren’t the only ones affected by these atrocious acts of terror. We can grieve with others who have experienced something like we have. Maybe we could even try working with them. If we look outside our typical Western viewpoint, who knows what we’ll find.

Senioritis? No such thing in college

About four years ago, I was suffering from a case of senioritis. I was a high school senior, already admitted to college and enrolled in said college. School didn’t matter much anymore, and other than maintaining my grades, I became very relaxed about everything. That’s not really the case this time around.

Here I am, a senior again. However, I have a different case of senioritis. I don’t know what I’m doing upon graduation, and that scares me. A lot. I don’t think I have senioritis, I think I have something else. I think I have a case of “Oh my god, I am a college senior and I have no idea what I’m doing when I graduate”­itis.

This time, it’s much different. Last time I was a senior, I had a clear idea of the future. I was set in my choice of college and all I had to worry about was maintaining my grade average, which wasn’t hard. Now, it’s a different ballgame. No, this time it’s a whole other sport. What sport, I cannot tell you. Maybe it’s something very complicated that many don’t understand but it’s very alluring and people want to know about it. Or something like that.

When I was younger, up until last year, I was incredibly excited to graduate and start my life.

After having a taste of “freedom” when I spent my semester in Washington, D.C. made me even more excited. But as soon as I started my last first day of classes, it became real. I won’t be a student forever. I cannot pull a Buster Bluth and be a professional student.

Just thinking about the future makes me anxious. My heart starts pounding, my palms sweaty and my mind swimming. Yeah, I’ve applied for jobs, but as of Nov. 8 at 2:17 p.m., I am still unemployed. Here’s hoping that won’t be for long. But I need to remind myself, it’s still early to find a job. At least I’m not applying to law school or graduate school, like many people I know. I need to take a deep breath and calm down. Easier said than done.

I don’t think senioritis in college exists. Maybe once I become employed I will amend that statement, but the unknown is too scary. I wish I could go back to high school senior me and say, enjoy the relaxation while you can, enjoy having the next four years of your life set, because that’s not going to happen again for a while.

Sigma Chi now closed on campus

The Sigma Chi flag. Photo courtesy of Sigma Chi's website.
The Sigma Chi flag. Photo courtesy of Sigma Chi’s website.

This story updated on 11/12/15

Late Wednesday, Nov. 11, the Ohio Wesleyan University community was alerted that the Sigma Chi fraternity is being closed immediately.

According to the email sent to students and faculty, the international headquarters of the fraternity were the ones to make the decision, due to “declining membership and commitment to the fraternity’s historic mission.”

The press release sent by Sig Chi’s headquarters said, “The Fraternity looks forward to maintaining a positive relationship with administrators at Ohio Wesleyan University and returning to campus after its current members have graduated.”

Dana Behum, the assistant director of student involvement for fraternity and sorority life, said OWU was alerted of the fraternity’s suspension Nov. 5. After a discussion with the fraternity’s international headquarters, they decided to tell the members on Nov. 11. The Executive Director of the fraternity, Michael Church, made the announcement to the members in person.

Directly after the announcement, the administrators had time to discuss staff resources and housing accommodations.

Behum said Residential Life is working with each member to identify his next step in housing. 30 Williams Drive, the Sig Chi house, will likely be closed for the remainder of the 2015-2016 academic year. Currently, there has been no discussion to the future use of the building. The current members are now considered to be Alumni members of the organization.

Kimberlie Goldsberry, the interim vice president for student affairs, said, “I do believe and have observed that in times of challenge, sadness and change there can be great demonstrations of empathy, strength and defining opportunity.”

Behum said, “Our Greek community…are surprised and heartbroken. I believe that the students in the OWU Greek community will continue to include our new Alumni Members of Sigma Chi in their campus interactions, social opportunities and identity group.”

We have attempted to reach out to current members of Sigma Chi. We have either received no response or a decline to comment.

We cannot lose our common sense

As a journalist, and especially as the editor­-in-­chief of this paper, I have dealt with my fair share of ethical issues. There’s always the fine line of wanting to grab people’s attention and being offensive, and that line is easily crossed. I’m extremely supportive of the freedom of press and speech, but common sense is also important.

A close friend recently sent me an image from the front page of another university’s front page.

Her friend goes to Plattsburgh State University of New York (SUNY Plattsburgh), and her school’s paper, Cardinal Points, published an extremely offensive cartoon on Oct. 23. The article was about minority admissions at schools across the country, and SUNY Plattsburgh’s part in that story. Innocuous enough. However, the editorial board decided to accompany the article with a cartoon of a black student wearing a cap and gown walking through a run­-down neighborhood. The cartoon will not be reprinted in this paper.

When I saw it, several thoughts ran through my head. Who would publish a cartoon on the front page (The Transcript publishes cartoons on the opinion page)? Besides the placement of the cartoon, I had some other questions. Who approved this? Who in their right mind would think this was okay? My friend told me students at SUNY Plattsburgh were upset, and rightly so.

The paper is an independent publication, just like ours. But I would like to think we have more common sense than to publish something that would offend the entire campus. The editorial board at Cardinal Points apologized, but I’m not sure how much difference it will make for their reputation.

As an editor, I would gladly run a contributor’s piece about something I disagree with or even take offense to. But there’s a difference between getting every side of a story and baiting readers with provocative, offensive content. Salacious headlines and front covers from newspapers and magazines grab readers’ attentions worldwide. For example, the day after the WDBJ shooting, in which a reporter and cameraman were killed on­air, The New York Daily News decided to have stills of the shooting on their front page. Would that grab readers’ attention? Probably. But was that the right thing to do? No.

Journalists want to get the important news out to their readers. But in doing so, we have to make sure we don’t cross that impossibly line. It’s a difficult thing to do, but we need to use our common sense during the editorial process.

The acceptance of Mental Health Day

Photo courtesy of freeallpicture.com.
Photo courtesy of freeallpicture.com.

It came to my attention that Oct. 10 was “Mental Health Day,” which was actually sponsored by the World Health Organization. My social media platforms were littered with people saying how their families and friends had supported them, or them sharing their stories. When I saw these posts, I had mixed feelings. My first thought was how happy I was with the amount of people being so open with their stories. My other thought was why did we need another “day?” I feel like we have “days” for everything, and didn’t understand why having a mental health “day” was necessary.

After some thought, I came to the conclusion as to why I felt so skeptical toward these declarations. I just wasn’t used to the complete transparency people felt with whatever they were dealing with. When I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and a few other things, I felt like I was suffering in secret. When I told friends, they either didn’t believe me or they treated me like glass. Then I stopped telling people for quite a while. But my time at Ohio Wesleyan encouraged me to be more open with my struggles, because people had an idea of what it was like. They didn’t go through the exact struggles I did, but they were sympathetic toward me. But they didn’t treat me like any less of a person.

Scrolling through my Facebook feed on Oct. 10 was almost surreal; I didn’t realize how many people were suffering in silence. And I was one of them for a long time. I may have scoffed at first when hearing about a “Mental Health Day,” but now I’m ashamed at that reaction. If that day provided an outlet for someone to seek the help they so desperately needed or allowed them to feel comfortable enough to tell their friends, I am not one to judge.

Since my diagnosis, there have been such massive changes in how mental health issues are perceived. Though unfortunately, there’s still a stigma attached, it’s not as taboo as it once was.

People are more open with their struggles, and in turn, encourage others to either confront their issues or be more willing to talk about them.

However, with the normalization of mental illness, I’m afraid people take the terms so cavalierly. For example, someone who is neat and orderly complains they are “so OCD.” No, you’re not. That’s just making light of someone who actually suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Or when people say they’re going to kill themselves over a bad test grade; to me, that’s almost spitting in the face of someone who tried to commit suicide or to someone whose loved one did.

People need to be more careful with their language in order for more people to feel comfortable coming forward with their struggles.

Though I’m incredibly happy about more people coming out with their stories and struggles with mental illness, I hope this isn’t a fad. I hope people are taking this seriously as I am. I also hope that next Oct. 10, or whenever the next Mental Health Day is, that more people will have the courage to talk about their struggles.

Juvenile escapee apprehended by OWU Public Safety officer

Public Safety Officer Jay McCann. Photo courtesy of the owu website.
Public Safety Officer Jay McCann. Photo courtesy of the owu website.

A juvenile escapee labeled as dangerous was apprehended Tuesday, Oct. 6, by an Ohio Wesleyan Public Safety officer.

Michael Wilson Jr., an inmate at the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center, escaped Monday, Oct. 5 around 7 p.m. He was captured around 10:45 a.m. at the Delaware County fairgrounds.

Officer Jay McCann wasn’t supposed to be working Tuesday; he was off-duty when he saw the email from his office. He called Public Safety Director Bob Wood and with fellow officer Sgt. Christopher Mickens began patrolling around the university. McCann said they weren’t actively involved in the search; they were “monitoring the situation in case the event came closer to campus.”

After half an hour of patrolling, Wood called McCann and Mickens, telling one of them to go the command post near the Delaware Sheriff’s department. McCann was heading north to the command post when he saw the suspect standing on the side of the road.

He tried to find a place to turn around and asked himself, “Did I see what I just saw?”

Photo from PDF message sent out by Cole Hatcher.
Michael Wilson Jr. Photo from PDF message sent out by Cole Hatcher.

The Delaware County EMS, which had a vehicle in the area, confirmed McCann’s sighting. McCann intended to monitor the situation and wait for a Delaware police officer or other law enforcement to apprehend Wilson. However, Wilson continued into the fairgrounds out of McCann’s sight. McCann and a Delaware County deputy sheriff drove toward Wilson, who started running.

Attempts to reach the Delaware Sheriff’s Department went unanswered at press time.

“He acts abruptly,” McCann said. “He takes off his shirt, makes an obscene gesture toward us and turns around and takes off running.”

The deputy yelled at Wilson to stop and then deployed his Taser. McCann was unarmed except for a can of pepper spray. He assisted the deputy in cuffing Wilson, and that’s when backup arrived.

“I just happened to be at the right place at the right time,” McCann said.

Despite his key role, McCann doesn’t want to be called a hero.

“I personally don’t like to take credit for stuff. I do my job because I love what I do. If it had been anyone else, they would have done the same thing to help out a deputy.”

Taylor Swift, feminism and me

Taylor Swift at the 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards. Photo courtesy of US Magazine's website.
Taylor Swift at the 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards. Photo courtesy of US Magazine’s website.

Suddenly, it seems like being a feminist is the hottest thing you can be right now. Since Beyoncé’s proclamation at the 2014 Video Music Awards, other celebrities and musicians have been clamoring for that title. One self­proclaimed feminist is none other than Taylor Swift.

Look, I’m open about my extreme dislike for Taylor Swift. I find her to be a disingenuous, corporate machine. But I think her worse offense is her brand of feminism. In promotion for her latest album “1989,” she has gathered up a “girl squad,” for a lack of a better term. It consists of beautiful, successful and mostly white women. She practices the old adage “hoes before bros,” which is totally ok. But my problem is with how superficial her feminism is.

“Why is her feminism superficial?” one may ask. Why, let me tell you. Based on her actions as a so­-called feminist, her basic understanding of feminism is that women stand for other women.

That’s great! But she doesn’t go deeper than that. But she does seem to contradict herself.

For example, her hit “Bad Blood” seems to tell the story of a former friend who betrays her; she’s out to get revenge. Rumors are that that song is about Katy Perry. But a song spouting revenge on a woman is not very feminist, Taylor.

Or take more recently, when rapper Nicki Minaj (full disclosure: I’m a huge fan) tweeted about how her hit “Anaconda” wasn’t nominated for Video of the Year at the 2015 VMAs. Long story short, Minaj tweeted that she felt that other artists get recognized more for the same work she does. Swift then took offense to that tweet, even though Minaj didn’t call her out. The two women kissed and made­up, but the issue still stands. Swift thought Minaj attacked her, and Swift attacked back.

Look, if tomorrow Taylor Swift announces she’s now focusing on deeper feminist issues, such as the inequality women of color face or issues transgender women face every day, I’ll be on her team. But the fact her feminism just skims the top bothers me. For such a role model, Swift has a lot to learn.