Upperclassmen, young alumni share stories, advice for freshmen

Upperclassmen and young alumni were asked about their freshmen year through online interviews. This is what they had to say:

What do you wish you had known as an incoming freshman at OWU?

Julia Stone ‘16

That I shouldn’t try to take on too many things. Balancing a social life with homework and still having enough alone time to recharge was a huge challenge for me, and for a lot of my fellow introverted friends. I wish I had known that it’s impossible to do everything, and that I am only human.

Ibrahim Saeed ’15

You have to submit add/drop forms yourself to the registrar; no department will do it for you. Sounds basic, I know, but I ended up needing to petition to change courses after two weeks and was also fined $40.00.

Lauren (Lo) Rump ‘15

I wish I knew how homesick I was going to be, but how important it would be to stick it out. I was incredibly homesick my first semester of OWU; I almost transferred. While I think OWU is filled with inclusive and welcoming communities, I don’t necessarily think these communities will always seek you out as a freshman.

Yasmin Radzi ‘16

I wish I knew about work study jobs during the first week of school.

Anthony Lamoureux ‘14

I wasted so much of my first year fighting with myself and trying to hold onto some idea of who I was in high school and what my family wanted me to major in. It took me three years to figure out that I should have followed my heart in the first place.

Alanna Easley ‘18

The most important thing in the first few weeks is just being friendly and meeting people. Friends drift around for the first couple of months, so it’s nice to make connections early and keep your options open. That being said, you don’t have to be friends with everybody. Some people just don’t click, and that’s okay.

Kyle Simon ‘15

I wish I knew how I could branch out and make friends better.

Ellen Sizer ‘18

I wish I knew that it is okay not to know everything right away. That is the joy of being a freshman—everything is new!


What was the weirdest or craziest thing that happened to you your freshman year?

Caitlin Burton-Dooley ‘17

I rushed and SLUshed, and it was the most amazing thing. There are so many things that I’ve learned from both of those groups.


I developed a taste for black coffee and am now addicted to it. I also got my pocket picked at Clancey’s (Pub), losing my cell phone on Halloween night. I argued with cops outside the bar in a Luigi costume.


I got to go to Italy with my choir. Also, I jumped in the fountain on the JAYWalk while I had bronchitis and my phone was in my pocket. Luckily, my roommate had couscous, and I soaked it in that overnight to get the water out. It started working again, but then I dropped it off of a rollercoaster! Finally, my friend and I made cookie dough in my bathroom in a pot we found in a cupboard of Smith Hall’s kitchen.

Elizabeth Riggio ‘14

The day that me and my two other roommates who went through formal recruitment found out at the same time that we were in the same sorority house. We were nervous to say anything for a minute because we weren’t sure what the others would say, and then it was just a huge amount of excitement when we all said the same house. It may not be the craziest memory, but it was definitely good.


By accident, I skipped my first college final exam because I thought it was on a different day (don’t worry, I still took it). I got eight dreads in my hair, because, you know, college. I was able to balance school, three jobs, and heavy involvement in a club while somehow being genuinely happy about my busy life. The latter is probably the craziest.


I put off a paper way too long and ended up pulling an all-nighter to finish it. I decided to fuel myself with Monster to power through it, so I walked to UDF (United Dairy Farmers gas station) and bought three Mega-Monsters. Not paying attention to how fast I was drinking them as I worked, I drank all three in about an hour and a half. After a bit, I started shaking, overheating, and then hallucinating—I thought people were walking through the room, I saw shadows moving around me, and the Eevee postcard on my roommate’s desk started yelling at me for procrastinating. Morals of the story: don’t procrastinate, and monitor your caffeine intake.


We had a school day that was cancelled! It was crazy! We had a blizzard that caused the entire academic side of campus to be covered in an inch of ice… So we all just went on the JayWalk and played in the freezing rain. There used to be yarn strung around all of these trees near the theatre (OWU’s Chappelear Drama Center), and it was so cool to go under it and feel the yarn frozen into one kind of ice sculpture.

Teona Council ‘17

The relationships I formed with various people on campus. For the most part everyone is super chill, and willing to get to know you or work with you on something. That’s weird because that type of environment isn’t something that happens everywhere.


What about OWU or college life in general surprised you the most?


Things you need don’t just magically appear. Like, I have to go and buy stamps if I want to send a letter. My mother isn’t here to give them to me. Or, if I need really anything, it’s up to me, which is surprisingly really nice. I like being dependent on myself more. This doesn’t mean I don’t need help every once in awhile, but it’s nice to feel more independent about my decisions.


I think OWU surprised me in that I wasn’t as ready to take on college as I thought I was.


It is so easy at OWU to find what you are passionate about or where you fit in, and become a leader and important player on campus. I left OWU feeling the same way I left high school: feeling I made a positive impact and that my time there mattered.


The people at OWU are extremely accepting. I never made friends very easily before college, but I fell in with a great group of friends early on and have continued to make new ones almost every day. The community is open to people from all walks of life, which was quite refreshing.


How happy and lovely everyone is.


I think in a way OWU became my family. Living and working with such a small community means you get to know everyone. Some people may not like this, but to me that’s a beautiful thing. I felt very close with my peers, and class in particular. It’s amazing to walk down the street and feel like you are part of more than just a university, but a close community. I loved feeling connected to many different clubs, sports, events, professors, and students. It really is special. Even if there are times now and then when you wish you were more anonymous.


It surprised me how friendly everybody was, and how much people respect you for who you are. I was worried there would be peer pressure and it would be hard to fit in, but it was quite the opposite. Just be yourself and everyone will love you for who you are. I met some of the nicest people I know during college.


What surprised me the most was how much I was going to be so attached to OWU. I turned in my deposit before I even visited the school. When I visited the school, I knew I was going to feel right at home. I am still surprised to this day how much I love OWU. Going to OWU was literally the best decision I have made in my life! The professors, the opportunities, and the people have made my undergraduate experience such a unique and special experience.


What is one piece of advice you have for the incoming freshmen?


Take advantage of all of the extra opportunities that OWU has to offer, whether it be travel-learning courses, TiPiT grants, fraternities, sororities, SLUs, sports. Be a part of something that is bigger than you! All of these opportunities allow you to become closer to both people at OWU and others around the country and world. We can sometimes forget that there are so many big and amazing things outside of the OWU bubble. But, if you allow yourself to take risks and try new things that you would have never expected, amazing things can happen.


Find something you love and you’ll find people you love, and it will always make you happy.


Don’t hold on to high school so tightly, and accept the change that is college and the rest of your life. Don’t get worked up if people you befriend freshmen year don’t turn out to be your soulmates come sophomore year and beyond. Everyone is so eager to pair up and find their “people” those first couple weeks, and that is important, but as the years go on, you will change and evolve and mostly likely many of those freshmen friends will too, and that is part of the process. Finally, [care] about your grades. When it’s senior year/graduation time and you start thinking about grad school, all those B- and C’s from the beginning semesters start to haunt your transcript and GPA. You can recover, but it will take work.


Be ready to change.


Make a friend and keep in touch with someone back home who you can depend on, whether that’s a parent, guardian or a friend, because the first year is overwhelming in some ways. Maybe it’s not academically, but maybe it’s socially, medically, or something else entirely. Having someone there can make a difference in how your year plays out.


Our student body embraces the strange oddball in all of us. If you are you, you’ll meet other people that love you for just that.


Opportunities don’t come looking for you; you have to go seek them out. Go to school and enjoy yourself, and be there for the sake of learning. Don’t be married to grades—just enjoy learning and the grades will turn out great.


Don’t get too consumed by any one thing. Try lots of things. Don’t assume you won’t like something or be interested in it without giving it a shot. You may surprise yourself.

OWU gets $50,000 grant to study waste reduction in eastern Asia

Making interdisciplinary connections and improving waste reduction methods are the goals of the team of faculty recently awarded a $50,000 grant.

The grant is one of five awarded nationwide and comes from the Henry Luce Foundation, a nonprofit with a variety of grant programs.

John Krygier, professor of geology and geography, is one of the grant’s campus coordinators and helped write the proposal.

He said the money will be used for exploratory research in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan that will promote collaboration between professors and students involved with environmental studies and East Asian studies, and possibly other disciplines.

“The idea is to look at some ways that faculty and classes in those two different areas interact,” Krygier said. “It comes down to helping faculty get more Asian content in their environmental courses and get more environmental content in Asian courses.”

He said there is money available for students to get involved, and interested students should contact him.

The exploratory grant encourages faculty to collaborate with colleagues who have different, but complementary perspectives on the world, he said.

“Nobody here is an expert on waste, but you get smart faculty and students together and you just pick a topic, like waste, and say ‘How would that be looked at in your field?’” Krygier said.

Taiwan, South Korea and Japan have been innovators in waste reduction, and some of the methods they have developed could be applied in the United States, he said.

The grant money will also be used to examine the waste reduction practices of nearby companies with Asian roots. One such company is Honda, which aims to reduce its waste to zero.

“That is to a reasonable degree inspired by their Japanese headquarters, though it plays out in the United States very differently,” Krygier said. “So, it’s interesting to look at how ideas about waste management have diffused to the United States.”

Much of the research will occur this summer and fall. Next semester, there will be a symposium and workshop in which faculty and students will present their research.

Krygier said if the project goes well, they have the opportunity to be awarded an additional $400,000 to expand on their work.

Junior Reilly Reynolds, moderator of Tree House, said it is great OWU can connect with other countries on sustainability issues because they should be important to everyone.

“The majority of people at OWU are white, privileged, middle to upper class Americans who will never be affected firsthand by climate change by being forced to live in areas where the environment is unsafe,” Reynolds said. “So, in order to find the purpose of caring, we must look outside of ourselves.”

Treating elderly like toddlers needs to stop

Photo courtesy of metro.co.uk.
Photo courtesy of metro.co.uk.

Every time I hear someone call a senior citizen “adorable” or “cute,” I have to try not to cringe. If there is an older couple walking arm in arm down the street or an elderly woman pushing a cart through the grocery store, chances are someone nearby is saying “awww” or “that’s so cute.” The worst offenders are teenagers and young adults.

I’m asking you to just stop it already. Seriously, stop. There is almost no way to say something like that without being downright patronizing.

Would you like people younger than you to routinely call you adorable? How about decades from now? Yeah, didn’t think so.

My grandma is giving and thoughtful and beautiful, but she is not cute. She lived through the Great Depression and World War II. She had four children over the course of two decades, and now has eighteen great-grandchildren. She can make a grown man cry with her scolding, has laugh lines around her eyes almost as deep as her heart and the only German she remembers from her childhood are the swear words. My grandma is 89 years old, and no way in hell is she cute.

Photo courtesy of sharpeonline.com.
Photo courtesy of sharpeonline.com.

My grandpa is hilarious and ridiculous and sweet, but he isn’t cute either. When he was in his eighties, he fell out of a tree while sawing off branches and left a dent in the ground that is still there years later, and then got right back up. He can out-work people a third of his age, can identify nearly any tree just by looking at its leaves and lost half a finger long before any current OWU student was born. My grandpa is 91 years old, and he is anything but adorable.

Calling the elderly “precious” or “cute” or whatever demeaning little adjective you can think of is not a compliment. It’s so common though, most of us don’t even realize we’re doing it. Until a few years ago, I never saw anything wrong with saying a friendly elderly man dressed in his Sunday best, bow tie and all, was adorable or saying two older women laughing together while having brunch at a café were being cute. However, we should never use the same words to describe babies as we use to describe senior citizens. Our grandparents, and their entire generation, don’t deserve to be infantilized. They deserve some respect.

It can be hard to avoid repeating the phrases we hear around us, but we owe it to the remarkable parents, nurses, veterans, teachers and students who came before us to give it our best shot.

Award-winning musical brings satire and singing to OWU

Left to right: senior Grace Thompson as Hope Cladwell, senior Ryan Haddad as Caldwell B. Cladwell, senior Luke Scaros as Officer Barrel and senior Brianna Robinson as Penelope Pennywise. Photo courtesy of Ian Boyle.
Left to right: senior Grace Thompson as Hope Cladwell, senior Ryan Haddad as Caldwell B. Cladwell, senior Luke Scaros as Officer Barrel and senior Brianna Robinson as Penelope Pennywise. Photo courtesy of Ian Boyle.

An evil corporation charges people for peeing in order to control water consumption in the Tony Award-winning Urinetown: the Musical, coming to Ohio Wesleyan on April 17.

Senior Ian Boyle describes the play as a satire of capitalism, social irresponsibility, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement and municipal politics.

The musical was chosen by the show’s director, theatre professor Edward Kahn, who said rehearsals have been going smoothly.

“A musical brings additional people into the collaboration,” he said. “Vocal coach Jennifer Whitehead, choreographer Rashana Perks Smith and music director James Jenkins have all added so much to the production, as have the cast, designers, stage managers and crew.”

Understanding the style of the show has been the biggest challenge for junior Hannah Simpson, who is portraying Josephine Strong.

“Since it is a satire, it is important to differentiate between which lines were written to be delivered straight and which lines are more…involved,” said Simpson.

She said she thinks students will enjoy the witty and thought-provoking script.

“If nothing else, people should come see the show to watch their friends dance around onstage for two hours,” she said. “You can’t beat that.”

Freshman TJ Galamba plays Josephine’s son, Bobby Strong, who leads the resistance against the water conservation company.

He said balancing rehearsal with class and work has been challenging but rewarding.

Musicals can be difficult because actors must bring their characters to life while also singing and dancing, Galamba said.

“People should see it if they just want to have a good time, but at the same time the show makes you think about the human condition of consuming resources, so if you want food for thought it’s definitely a show to come see,” he said.

Urinetown: the Musical will play in the Chappelear Drama Center at 8 p.m. on April 17, 18, 24 and 25 and at 2 p.m. on April 26. Tickets are $5 for faculty and staff and free for OWU students.

Competing interests overshadow India’s global potential

R. Blake Michael. Photo courtesy of owu.edu.
R. Blake Michael. Photo courtesy of owu.edu.

For India to take a lead role on the world stage it must overcome an assortment of competing sectarian influences that keep it from becoming a unified nation.

It’s a tall order, said Ohio Wesleyan University professor Blake Michael in the final event in the Great Decisions lecture series Friday, focused on the politics of India since it gained independence in 1947.

Michael took the podium in a last minute call to replace speaker Irfan Nooruddin, a professor at Georgetown University and an Ohio Wesleyan alumnus, who had to cancel his talk titled “India Changes Course.”

Michael also led last week’s Great Decisions lecture about sectarianism in the Middle East.

He began by describing the impact sectarianism has had in India.

“How do you build a nation that identifies itself as Indian when you have all these competing components — religious, linguistic, regional — that are pulling people to identify with smaller and smaller groups?” Michael said.

Convincing Hindus and Muslims to both identify as Indian has not been easy, he said. And the growing prominence in the last few years of the Bharatiya Janata Party has also impaired progress. That party wants India to become a Hindu nation.

India is similar in physical size and population as Europe and has “great potential for productivity on the world stage,” Michael said.

After winning its independence, India tried to become more united and it “swallowed up” some of its neighboring nations, he said.

India and Nepal. Photo courtesy of biggsity.com.
India and Nepal. Photo courtesy of biggsity.com.

One country that has remained mostly independent is Nepal.

“Being Nepal is like being a puppy dog sleeping next to an elephant,” Michael said. “India is monstrous and some of the nations around it are fairly small and have to be very careful which way they roll over.”

Delaware resident Connie Lybarger said she has been coming to the Great Decisions lectures with her husband since the series began. She said she liked that Michael emphasized India’s immense size and included information about Pakistan, where she and her husband were missionaries.

Richard Fischer, also of Delaware, said the lecture provided a perspective not found in the mainstream media.

“You’re hearing someone, who knows something well, tell you about a topic without an agenda,” he said.

One choice. 7000 lives.

These chickens lived their entire, brief lives in this room. Photo courtesy of advocacy.britannica.com.
These chickens lived their entire, brief lives in this room. Photo courtesy of advocacy.britannica.com.

Nearly every American over the age of 18 is at least vaguely aware that the meat they consume doesn’t come from happy cows, pigs and chickens leading long, natural lives on a picturesque farm. However, most people try not to think about what these animals actually go through during their brief, hellish lives, and this willful ignorance needs to stop. Now.

The majority of birds and mammals that end up on platters in this country are born in factory farms. They’re called that because the animals are treated like manufactured products – mere objects with only monetary value. And the average American will eat about 7,000 of these “products” in his or her lifetime.

I’m not trying to preach. I’m not dead set on changing your mind and making you become a vegetarian or vegan. But eating animals is thrown in my face on a daily basis and I’m going to throw it right back.

The weight and size of the average hen in America over time. Photo courtesy of huffingtonpost.com.
The weight and size of the average hen in America over time. Photo courtesy of huffingtonpost.com.

Because nine out of ten non-marine animals killed for food in the United States are chickens, I’ll focus on them.

Factory workers sort newborn chicks by sex. Females used for meat often live for only a few months, and during that time they are pumped full of growth hormones. As a result, the hens grow so fast their legs break beneath them because they can no longer support their own weight.

But the chickens aren’t the only ones growing and aging at an unnatural rate. These growth hormones are still present in the chickens’ meat when people buy it at the grocery store, which is the main reason Americans go through puberty about a year earlier than they did a century ago.

That’s not all. The ends of the hens’ beaks are sliced off with a hot blade without the use of anesthesia because the cramped quarters the hens live in make them go insane and peck at each other violently. The hens are commonly killed for their meat at such a young age that they still make the peeping sounds commonly associated with chicks.

Hens used for eggs become prisoners in their own bodies because of genetic engineering, which causes them to produce 250 eggs each year. This is nearly triple what the average hen produced a century ago. They live their entire lives in cages, never seeing sunlight or breathing fresh air.

Factory farm workers dump male chicks into oil to drown them. Photo courtesy of animals-rights-action.com.
Factory farm workers dump male chicks into oil to drown them. Photo courtesy of animals-rights-action.com.

Because male chicks cannot lay eggs and are less valued for their meat than females, they are killed immediately. A common murder method is to dump them into a “macerator,” a grinding machine that shreds them alive. This happens to 260 million male chicks every year in America.

Of course, meat tastes good to many people, and it can be difficult to give up. Your food options become more limited. You have to deal with people asking you lots of rude, ignorant questions. For me, those questions even came from my family and best friends.

But you know what? It’s worth it. I now lead a healthier and more ethical life, will save thousands of animals in my lifetime and make a positive difference in the environment. So the next time someone asks me, “Why are you a vegetarian?” I’m not going to list the million and one reasons I make the choice every day to abstain from eating meat. I’m just going to say, “Why are you not?”

Part-time faculty losing jobs due to low enrollment

Part-time faculty positions are being cut across many disciplines, but some departments are facing greater challenges than others.

Provost Chuck Stinemetz said departments request part-time faculty each year, and 88 percent of requests for next year were granted. Reductions were made in 12 of the 26 programs and departments that applied for part-time staff.

Stinemetz said the decisions regarding what and how much to cut were based off enrollment in courses and overall institutional enrollments in different areas. Maintaining existing majors was a priority.

“There was no effort to try to make them (the cuts) equal between the divisions,” Stinemetz said.

He said the cuts will save about $200,000 next year, but there had not been a target amount of money to be saved.

In the past, classes have been cut because not enough students registered. To avoid this, Stinemetz said he and his colleagues tried to be “conservative” in deciding how much to cut.

He said if there is a large freshman class next year, sections of classes may be re-added.

Stinemetz said part-time positions are based on need and the professors in the positions being cut do not have to accept the reduced units they are being offered.

There are many parts of OWU’s budget that need to be considered when making cuts, he said.

“For instance, we could reduce financial aid, but then we got a different issue,” Stinemetz said. “…We’d all love to have more money and not have to go through this exercise, but that’s not the situation we’re in right now.”

Some of the departments losing the most in these cuts are the languages, classics, religion and black world studies departments.

Lee Fratantuono, director of classics and the only full-time classics professor, said the classics major is “okay for another year” because of Stinemetz.

Greek was almost reduced to being offered every other year, but that possibility was decided against.

“It was the first time in my ten years it was called into question,” Fratantuono said. “The price is that we will not be able to offer two electives that we would normally offer, unless there’s a larger incoming class.”

Fratantuono said enrollment in classics has gone up “appreciably” in the past ten years, and Greek and Latin are subjects of the oldest department at OWU.

He said one effect of the part-time faculty positions changing so much is a lack of continuity for students.

“We have students now who have literally had a different professor every year because we’ve had three people cycle through,” Fratantuono said.

David Eastman, assistant professor of religion, said the religion department requested three part-time teaching positions, but all were denied.

Because of the cuts, the department will no longer be able to offer courses in Judaism or the Hebrew bible, even though the latter is an introductory course OWU was founded on, said Eastman.

Fewer introductory courses hurts enrollment in upper division courses, he said.

“I’ve been told that one student would like to major in religion, but because of this person’s schedule, can’t get enough upper division classes,” Eastman said. “So that’s our loss.”

Randolph Quaye, the only full-time professor in the BWS department, said about 60 percent of the department’s courses are taught by part-time faculty.

“I think these cuts are a crisis that we have to deal with and I hope and I pray that whatever the final decision is, it will take into account the academic programs and the staffing positions,” Quaye said.

Gender-inclusive housing in 2016?

Ohio Wesleyan’s lack of gender-inclusive housing may prevent some students from living with who they are comfortable with, and Residential Life (ResLife) has plans to change this.

Gender-inclusive housing means students of all gender identities can live together in the same room or suite.

According to a document written by interns at the Spectrum Resource Center, “gender-inclusive housing provides students maximal choice in determining and taking responsibility for their own living arrangements.”

One of the students impacted by OWU’s non-inclusive housing is freshman Ryan Bishop, a student from Bulgaria who identifies as transgender.

Bishop said he was initially assigned female roommates because he is documented as a female, but was then offered a single room.

“Basically I was told that they (ResLife) can’t put me with male students because gender-inclusive housing is not a thing here,” Bishop said. “But a single room is what they can offer me.”

He said he thought the administration would approve his desired placement if he changed his gender on his documentation, but it would be “problematic” if his parents found out.

Bishop recently accepted a bid to the Chi Phi fraternity, but is not allowed to live in the Chi Phi house because it is all-male housing.

Senior Kyle Simon, a member of Chi Phi and an intern in the Spectrum Resource Center, said for Chi Phi to be able to extend Bishop a bid, the fraternity brothers had to call their national headquarters. Then, he said they talked to Dana Behum, assistant director of student involvement for fraternity and sorority life, who was “extremely supportive.”

Bishop said living at Chi Phi would be great, though he is a private person and would prefer having a single.

He said he had not intended to join a fraternity at first, but chose to accept his bid to Chi Phi because he knew the brothers would provide the kind of support he never had.

Simon said even with the current plan for gender-inclusive housing, Bishop may not be allowed to live at the Chi Phi house because the plan focuses on internal bathrooms where men and women are already housed.

“If we at Ohio Wesleyan are talking about how diverse we are and how great of a supportive community we are, and our policies don’t support transgender students, then how supportive are we really?” Simon said. “And currently, our Residential Life staff does very, very little to accommodate transgender students.”

Chad Johns is an associate chaplain and adviser to Chi Phi, and said he has heard OWU loses prospective students because of the lack of gender-inclusive housing.

“I think gender is one of the things we get overly concerned about a lot of times in religion,” Johns said. “I think this is a campus where people stay with their friends in different contexts, and letting that be an official living situation isn’t anything to worry about as long as everyone who’s involved wants to be in that living situation.”

Meredith Dixon, assistant director of residential life, said the Spectrum Resource Center, Women’s Resource Center and SAGE House are working together on a proposal for gender-inclusive housing that the ResLife office will consider.

She said her office has been working on bringing gender-inclusive housing to OWU for over a year and hopes to implement it by the fall of 2016.

“We’re not quite on the cutting edge, but we’re also not far behind,” Dixon said.

Converting residential facilities to be gender inclusive would not be expensive or involve many changes, she said.

“We’re actually pretty lucky because most of our facilities have suite-style rooms and bathrooms, so we don’t have to do a lot,” Dixon said.

She said Bashford and Thomson Halls would likely remain single gender by floor. The other residence halls would have gender inclusive suites, and students could choose to opt in or not.

Dixon said educating people about gender-inclusive housing would be an important task and she was curious to see how the change is received, especially by alumni, parents and older members of the community.

“Gender-inclusive housing is something that really only pertains to a small number of students, but I think for that small number of students it’s really important to their daily life and their level of comfort here,” Dixon said.

Lecture series hosts speaker on digital privacy

Kirk Herath. Photo courtesy of LinkedIn.
Kirk Herath. Photo courtesy of LinkedIn.

The latest Great Decisions Community Discussion Series drew a crowd of 60 Delaware residents to the basement of the William Street United Methodist Church Friday, Feb. 13. There, Nationwide Insurance vice president, assistant general counsel and chief privacy officer Kirk Herath spoke about data privacy and security.

Herath opened “Privacy in the Digital Age” by saying, “In my talk today I really may be somewhat of an alarmist at times, but I’m trying to be informative.”

He said more security techniques are continuously being developed “to combat the bad guys” and a lack of privacy can result in a variety of issues, including unfair discrimination.

As an example, Herath said if he were to purchase Jack Daniel’s every day with a credit card and insurance companies were able to access that information, they might deny him insurance. He would be “toast.”

Herath said using technology is a trade-off between protecting our information and accessing data and services.

The cover of the Great Decisions 2015 booklet. Photo courtesy of Connect2OWU.
The cover of the Great Decisions 2015 booklet. Photo courtesy of Connect2OWU.

“We’re currently building the largest data center in the world in Utah that the National Security Agency is going to use to collect all this data they apparently don’t have,” Herath said, causing the audience to chuckle.

“I’m serious,” he said. “It’s like an 18 football field-sized data server farm out there and it’s guarded like Fort Knox.”

Herath also said many companies use encryption to protect privacy, but it is complex.

“Encrypted data is perfectly secure,” Herath said. “It’s also garbage if you can’t un-encrypt it, and that’s the fundamental problem we’re all facing. To encrypt Nationwide [Insurance data] universally, it would cost three-quarters of a billion dollars because it would require us to update dozens and dozens of systems. We’d basically have to start all over again.”

To better protect privacy and data, Herath suggested using complex passwords, not oversharing on social media, enabling anti-virus software updates on all technology and avoiding public wireless networks for sensitive digital transactions.

Alice Frazier, a Delaware resident, said she attended the event because she was interested in the topic and always tries to come to the Great Decisions lectures.

“It was a good talk, but I guess it was a little more technical than I was expecting,” said Frazier. “There’s a lot about it I don’t understand, but I thought he did a good job.”

Cory Barringer, another Delaware resident, said the topic was relevant and something she pays attention to.

It’s pretty clear that you’re not going to be able to totally protect yourself,” Barringer said. “That’s probably my biggest takeaway. The next step is to learn how to deal with it and really pay attention to passwords and make them strong.”

The next Great Decisions Community Discussion lecture is titled “Brazil’s Metamorphosis” and will be given by the chair of Ohio Wesleyan University’s politics and government department, James Franklin. It is scheduled for Feb. 20 at 12 p.m.

Survey on sexual assault sent to students

OWU logo courtesy of owu.edu.
OWU logo courtesy of owu.edu.

On Jan. 19, President Rock Jones emailed Ohio Wesleyan students asking them to complete a survey on sexual assault, which included questions about how safe students feel on campus and their confidence in school officials.

According to the email, the survey is anonymous and takes about 15 minutes to complete.

The results will be used to inform and improve campus policies, practices and support services.

It also stated the reason for the survey was to gather information about “students’ perceptions of OWU’s climate on unwanted sexual contact and sexual assault, students’ perceptions of how OWU addresses and responds to sexual assault, and whether and how often students have experienced unwanted sexual contact or sexual assault.”

Jones said the administration is “deeply committed” to providing a safe campus for everyone and has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct.

“We believe this information will help us understand where there may be need for better education and processes and procedures used in response to sexual misconduct,” Jones said.

Dean of Students Kimberlie Goldsberry said a team met over the summer to discuss the many federal guidelines and agencies that share information about sexual assault. A “key initiative” from that team was a campus climate survey, which a subgroup then began to work on.

In the fall, the team discovered that the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium was working on a similar survey designed for small, residential, liberal arts colleges, so the team shared their information and a final survey was created.

“OWU was a given a window of time to offer the survey,” Goldsberry said. “We chose to do it now hoping that it being earlier in the semester might yield greater responsiveness from the community.”

She said everyone on campus has a role in addressing sexual violence issues. Some of the faculty and staff’s responsibilities include being familiar with OWU’s policies and what it means to report issues of sexual violence.

Goldsberry said students also need to do their part with education, intervention and accountability.

Senior Lauren Rump, an intern in the Women’s Resource Center, said when she received the email about the survey on sexual assault she was “surprised and impressed” that it came from Rock Jones.

When administrators don’t take these issues into their own hands, the responsibility for educational programming “falls on the shoulders of students,” Rump said.

She gave an example from last semester. The Women’s Resource Center was compelled to host a panel discussion about Title IX and its impact on campus because they had so many unanswered questions and thought other students would too.

“I definitely hope more education and stronger campaigns for consent will come out of this,” Rump said.

Rump added that the survey “shows initiative” and she hopes everyone takes it.

“It’s important that they hear from all types of people, but especially those who have had to go through that (sexual assault).”

The email will be sent to students two more times before the March 2 deadline.