“DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND BELONGING”: A look into the shortcomings of Eastern University’s diversity initiative.

The Diversity and Inclusion Planning Initiative was created in 2016 to respond to an analysis which determined the racial makeup of the EU workforce had been steadily declining from 2010 to 2015. The analysis specifically cited university leadership as lacking in racial, ethnic, and gender diversity.
The initiative, charged by former President Robert Duffett and led by former Executive Vice President, Tom Ridington, was recommended to address the widening gap between the diversity of Eastern’s student body and those who teach and serve our students.

The initiative was followed in 2017 by a report predicting why Eastern has a low number of faculty, staff, and leadership of color, followed by a proposal for how to achieve changes in the area of diversity and inclusion.

An excerpt from the report concludes the low number of people of color at Eastern “is likely symptomatic of deeper causes emanating from policies and practices that fail to reflect the standards of community life found in Eastern University’s institutional commitments,” adding that “Hiring based on personal networks, rather than posted openings, frustrates those outside of existing power relationships from opportunities to advance their career.” The proposal recommended an institutional audit conducted by an external organization and creation of the position of Chief Diversity Officer to respond to this inequity.

In September 2017, after commitments and training to diversify, the University filled six dean’s level and above positions, with all white and mostly male persons. In response, the Concerned Black Staff and Faculty wrote a letter of concern to President Robert Duffett urging him to examine and change the University culture, and tenure and hiring practices. Multiple meetings and letters later, the same practices continue in 2020.

This summer the Anti-Racism Initiative was created by a group of students including a letter and list of expectations for Eastern to make strides toward anti-racism, alongside a petition which gathered the support of over 700 students, parents, alumni, faculty, and staff. In response to this, and to the previous proposals and recommendations, sitting President Ronald Matthews appointed Dr. Randolph Walters as a part-time Special Assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity, and Belonging.

The special assistant was appointed by the President, as opposed to the open process that was recommended in the proposal by the broader study of effective collegiate diversity. The proposal additionally recommended the position of Chief Diversity Officer, a position virtually identical to Dr. Randolph Walter’s new job description. Instead, Special Assistant to the President suggests a consultative role, while upholding the same job description as the full time position of Chief Diversity Officer.

In an attempt to better understand this issue, I consulted Dr. Kathy-Ann Hernandez, a professor at Eastern whose ongoing scholarship and research for a book she co-edited, Diversity Matters, focused specifically on the Black Diaspora in Christian higher education. Hernandez says “My continued work in the area of diversity and inclusion convinces me that ultimately D & I work is about disrupting
‘cultural lock-in’. This term refers to ‘the gradual stiffening of the invisible architecture of the corporation’ that results in ‘the ossification of its decision-making abilities, control systems, and mental models’ (Foster & Kaplan, 2001, p.16).”

Hernandez adds, “Even with the best strategies and policies for going forward, if we do not first do the work that is necessary to first identify the culture that is at work here and then seek to change it, we are treating the symptom rather than the cause.”

This observation directly addresses the procedural failures of Eastern University in appointing the role of Special Assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity, and Belonging. Dr. Hernandez concluded, “I view the processes by which this appointment was made as a serious misstep on the path to creating a truly inclusive and equitable EU campus community. This was an opportunity to disrupt the status quo of how things are ‘done at EU’ and to make room at the table for more voices to be part of the process. Now more than ever given the zeitgeist, institutions that continue to make such decisions from positions of privilege and power, do so at their own detriment.”

Eastern University’s honorable goal of increasing diversity, inclusivity, and belonging for staff, faculty, and students of color by creating this position was well intentioned and certainly needed. However, their aim will ultimately be hindered by upholding the normative procedures and practices which inhibit diversity and inclusion. For Eastern to take effective and sustainable steps toward diversity, equity, and belonging they must reconsider the procedures which ultimately inhibit these ambitions and heed the recommendations given by the Eastern community.

Hard Pill to Swallow: “Regarding” vs. “In Regards To”

I believe using the word “regarding” instead of the phrase “in regards to” is infinitely superior, and it annoys me to no end when the latter is used in writing or speech. Though this preference of mine may seem to be mere semantics, I posit there is in fact a relevance to their difference — for a few reasons. Before I begin I want to be very clear: this is my attempt to convince you to sympathize with my nettles purely by means of my charmingly insufferable prose, and not by anything likely worth attending to. (I am a gadfly and this is my loitering, strictly speaking.)

My first reason in favor of the superiority of “regarding” is one of practicality. It is one word, while “in regards to” is three. Additionally, there are less keyboard strokes and syllables for the former, making your writing and/or speech slightly more efficient and saving you a considerable amount of time. While I would not disdain someone for using “in regards to” to meet a word count for an abnormally-strict professor, in any other case I thoroughly maintain “regarding” is far the better practical option.

Secondly, this is an issue of grammar as well. Perhaps I am being witheringly obtuse, but I find “in regards to” to be categorically and utterly obfuscatory. What does it mean to be “in” a regard, much less plural regards? Who or what, I implore, is in those “regards”? And why do we need to say “regards to” — employing that usage we’ve not defined or understood — when the preposition “regarding” says what we mean far more implicitly and clearly? Granted, the slightly less colloquial phraseological alternative to “in regards to” — “with regard to” —  is far more sensible grammatically. Yet, “regarding” indicates you’re specifying the object with a regard for its delineation. If you absolutely, needlessly must use multiple words, I beg of you to choose “with regard to” instead of “in regards to;” but I will reiterate — “regarding” is the best of them all.

Thirdly, I also think this is a debate of aesthetics, and if I am right and aesthetics have truly anything to do with this, then we have a provocatively philosophical matter on our hands. How we use words is paramount to the human experience, and certain uses of words (in this case, “regarding” and “in regards to”) we then find aesthetically thus philosophically appurtenant. How a word or phrase sounds to your listeners or readers, and to yourself as you speak it and even read it on the page, is indeed a matter of aesthetic. The words we choose indicate, on some level I’ve decided is beyond my scope, our regard for the love of wisdom. Hence, “regarding” ought to be used always in place of “in regards to,” which I find to be phonetically objectionable and melodically tedious. “Regarding,” on the other hand, has no particularly sticky consonants and features a distinctly agreeable cadence. But I have pontificated far too long; I shall abate.

I assure you that my attachment to “regarding” is entirely petty and nonserious. If someone else made this same opinion their hill to die on, they’d be mocked and run out of town, coddled by academics, or (worse) both. I’d rather avoid that demise. Perhaps, another time, I can argue our nonserious opinions actually have some significance to be acknowledged and valued. For now, though, know I genuinely and ultimately care very little, and really only enough to nurse a pet peeve and write a few hundred priggish words. If you press me on this, I shall inevitably rise up to the task of defending my opinion, but only for the sake of my pride. All the same, do remember this salient item: using one word instead of three to say the same thing is nearly always ideal. Ignore my theory if you must, but do me the honor of engaging my praxis.

Hollywood Should not be Idolized: People should stop idolizing and fixating on celebrities.

I know the Will Smith and Chris Rock moment has passed, but this pop culture moment that had all of social media talking reminded me of a very important concept; we should not idolize celebrities.

As social media has grown and fan bases grow, celebrities are gaining an almost cult-like following with the way their fans obsess and fixate on them. While surfing on social media, I find fan pages, meme accounts and fan fiction about X celebrity and what could happen to them with this extremely specific scenario.

Some fan bases become so obsessed and fixated on a particular individual that they start insulting and terrorizing another celebrity. Rachel DeSantis, of People Magazine, explained how Joshua Bassett, the star of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, expressed that he was receiving hate from Olivia Rodrigo, who stars in the show alongside Basset.  The two had a romantic relationship, but it did not work out. Rodrigo’s hit song, Drivers License,  is rumored to have been written about Basset and their breakup.  Since the release of this song, Basset has been receiving serious amounts of hate and threats from Rodrigo’s fan base. 

Thus, we have a group of people, who idolize one person significantly, so they decide to verbally attack another individual. The Basset and Rodrigo scandal is just one of the more recent examples. 

When people become fixated on celebrities, they start to pick up on their lifestyles and agree with everything they speak. They soak up the words of celebrities and become influenced by their daily lives. Instagram and TikTok pages are created in their name, and people begin comparing themselves to these celebrities.  This creates communities that essentially view X celebrity as a god. 

Now, I don’t think being a fan of celebrities is necessarily a bad thing.  I think people need to be aware of just how much they grow to appreciate and view a celebrity.   

Celebrities are no better than any regular person walking on the street.  They mess up, they stumble and they certainly are not the golden girl or boy. Throughout the media, we see celebrities who go off on the deep end. Just think of Robert Downey Jr., Justin Beiber, Demi Lovato and Lindsey Lohan. 

These are people who made it in Hollywood, got caught up in bad behaviors and choices, and set their life off track for a couple of years.  Why? Well, I have a guess that the money and power got to their heads.  These specific individuals did eventually get their lives turned around, but they are reminders that we should not follow in celebrities footsteps.

Let’s turn back to the Smith-Rock moment.  Here we have two men, who have fame and power, and one says a lousy joke insulting the other’s wife and the other responds with violence. Two bad choices. 

As “normal” people, I think we should stop putting celebrities on pedestals and viewing them as greater than ourselves. It can cause us to do horrible things to other people, and they are just as sinful as the rest of us.

Instead, we should focus that energy on our loved ones, being respectful and closing the gap with those in our community; not lifting up Harry Styles or Taylor Swift as these magnificent beings. They make great music, but I really don’t care what they do in their personal lives. 

Sources: People

Calling for Transparency and Consistency: Eastern leaves students in the dark for remaining in Phase C.

And so here we are, 232 days since the start of the fall semester, and we are still in Phase C of Eastern University’s COVID-19 phases. I remember distinctly being told, at the beginning of last semester, that hopefully by next semester or earlier, we would be out of Phase C. Well as is now clear, this individual was wrong. We are still very much in Phase C.

I want to make it clear from the beginning of this article that I do have a bias. I am a commuter, so Phase C matters a lot more to me than it does to the average Eastern student. I do not have much to criticize concerning Eastern University’s approach to COVID-19. For the most part, I would say it was handled much better than other schools in the area. But if there is one thing I would complain about, it is that the Phase system is still in place and does not show any sign of leaving.

Before I write anything else, it would probably be best to give a brief explanation of what I call “the Phase system”, especially for those of you who do not even know what the word “Phase” means to Eastern students.

The Phase system was implemented by Eastern University to fight the spread of COVID-19 within the dorms. According to Eastern’s COVID-19 guidance page, the phase system consists of four phases labeled A-D, with A being the strictest and D the least. We are currently in Phase C, which according to the guidelines on Eastern’s website means, “Residential students may visit residential students in other residence halls. Commuters and non-Eastern students are not permitted in residence halls. Student rooms may not exceed one visitor per person assigned to the room at a given time. Roommates should discuss expectations for visitors.”

First of all, I have a sneaky suspicion these guidelines are not being followed. But putting my suspicions aside, these guidelines have become pointless. I am no expert in protecting people from COVID-19, but I do know that this is the only COVID-19 measure that Eastern has kept in place.

Furthermore, all residential students can go wherever they want and hang out with whoever they want. At this point, the only students who must suffer because of this measure are commuters, and of course, residents who want to have friends in their dorm.                                             

One reason I feel safe arguing against the Phase system is because COVID-19 cases have become minimal to non-existent in our area. The seven-day case average (April 18) for Delaware County is 66 cases with 0 deaths resulting from these cases.

I do understand why this is the only Covid restriction Eastern has kept. Quite frankly, it is practical for the university to keep it in place. Not allowing visitors and commuters in dorms prevents certain security issues. Visitors most likely pose a lawsuit risk to the university. I cannot verify these are the reasons that we still have the phase system, but because no clear explanation has been given, I can only begin to take guesses.

As a commuter, I would sincerely appreciate it if Eastern lifted the Phase system. I understand the dilemma they are placed in, but for consistency’s sake and the sake of its students, I call upon the university to get rid of this measure starting next semester. I understand that there may be a reason for these measures which I have overlooked. If this is the case, I would appreciate it if the university was transparent and explained exactly why the Phase system is still being used.

 Sources: eastern.edu, usafacts.org

The Legacy of a Lifelong Friendship: The Chamberlain Interfaith Fellowship Dinner.

The Chamberlain Interfaith Fellowship (CIF) is rooted in a story of lifelong friendship between two young boys living in Newton, Mass. David Feldman and Dr. Ted J. Chamberlain were raised four houses away from each other and spent thousands of hours together in childhood. “Our friendship continued throughout adulthood; our wives are friendly, our children are friendly, their spouses are friendly, our grandchildren are friendly,” Feldman said. 

Their friendship stretched beyond time as well as religious differences, for both Feldman and Chamberlain maintained differing faith backgrounds throughout their friendship. Feldman was raised in a Reformed Jewish tradition; meanwhile, Chamberlain was raised in the Baptist sect of Protestantism. 

Despite these differences, both men maintained a wide worldview and held a deep respect for other religious traditions in the midst of adhering to their own. In addition to this, Chamberlain served 28 years as Eastern University’s Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Development. During this time at Eastern, Chamberlain was well-known for his deep faith and how he used his faith to forge meaningful relationships with people from all walks of life. After Chamberlain’s untimely passing in 2010, many of the people who knew Chamberlain commemorated the legacy he left behind. 

In 2014, as a result of the wisdom of David and Sydney Feldman, faith and academic leaders from Eastern University and Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, Mass. were brought together to contemplate the prospect of establishing a fellowship inspired by Chamberlain’s legacy. Thus, this eventually resulted in the formal establishment of the Chamberlain Interfaith Fellowship.

Annually, four Eastern students and four students from Temple Beth Shalom formulate a cohort that receives the opportunity to “learn about each other’s faith tradition; reflect upon commonalities and differences in the spirit of emerging friendship; grow spiritually, emotionally and intellectually; and engage in a social justice project for the common good of society and the world,” Chamberlain Award & Interfaith Fellowship says. 

On April 8, the CIF reception transpired in Eastern’s Baird Library. Members of Eastern University and members of Temple Beth Shalom gathered together as a unified community. Dr. Modica opened the reception with opening remarks and warm welcomes to all. President Ron Matthews provided a thoughtful reflection that correlated the importance of interfaith dialogue, relating this to current events across the globe. Before attendees received their Sodexo-catered meal, Rachel Happel, Temple Beth Shalom’s Senior Director of Learning and Engagement, and Jaclyn Favaroso, CIF Alumni Association member, provided both a Jewish and Christian prayer. 

Unbeknownst to many attendees, David Feldman would be receiving an award upon being named a Northwestern Mutual Insurance Community Service Award recipient. The provider of this award, Northwestern Mutual, is a financial service company that awards $310,000 in grants to nonprofits nationally through its Community Service Awards. As the visionary of CIF, Feldman’s commitment to “loving thy neighbor” has garnered well-deserved appreciation. Luisa Wilsman, Vice President of Advancement, and Eastern University President Ron Matthews presented Feldman with a $15,000 grant which will help fund the continuation and progression of CIF. 

Feldman accepted this award with gracious words of commemoration towards his friendship with Dr. Chamberlain and celebration towards the future dialogues and relationships that will be established thanks to CIF. 

In addition to this award, the reception held a special presentation in order to celebrate the seventh year of CIF. A miniature version of Timothy Schmaltz’s “Christ Washing Peter’s Feet” sculpture was presented to Liria Chamberlain, Dr. Ted Chamberlain’s wife. Dr. Bettie Ann Brigham, friend and colleague of the Chamberlain family, and Dr. Modica presented Liria Chamberlain with a miniature sculpture with a plaque that stated: “Deep Friendships, Shared Learning, ‘Holy Envy.’” 

As the CIF reception came to a close, new CIF cohort members meshed with former cohort members. The Chamberlain Interfaith Fellowship’s origins are centered on the lifelong friendship between two people, and this friendship will continue onwards through the lives of current and future CIF cohorts.

SAB: We’re Looking for New Members!

If you’ve ever attended a bingo night, coffeehouse, festival or any weekend event on campus, you’ve very likely been exposed to the workings of the Student Activities Board. Commonly known as SAB (pronounced S-A-B, not sab), this club is actually a staff and student-led organization that plans weekly events for the student body at Eastern.

  As you can imagine, lots of work goes into being an SAB member, but the team dynamics and small benefits of joining are well worth the time and effort put into being a member of the team. A typical week for an SAB member includes balancing three major commitments: attending a weekly board meeting with the staff advisor and lead chair, a committee meeting and the weekly event. 

The most straightforward of these commitments to anyone outside of SAB is the weekly event. What you might see is the set-up and tear-down of each event (not to mention the event itself), but what you don’t see are the inner-workings of the board. These are the moments where we create what you see around campus every weekend.

The weekly meeting typically occurs on Monday nights at 10:00 PM for one hour to accommodate everyone’s other commitments and class or work schedules. In the meetings, the most recent event is discussed and critiqued in consideration of hosting it in future semesters. Subsequently, future events are discussed to notify all members of the event’s vision, plan, set-up and tear-down procedures. 

Committee meetings typically vary in length and frequency. In these meetings, specific events are fleshed out in greater detail among a group of 2–3 students. For example, our Dances & Entertainment committee met on a weekly basis to discuss the intricate details of the Spring Banquet such as what hors d’oeuvres would be served, what caricature artists to hire and other small details. The committee members are responsible for contacting third-party vendors or obtaining the necessary supplies for each event. The plans for their specific events are then presented at the weekly board meeting to the rest of the staff. 

As a student who has been on SAB for just under four years, I can certainly tell you that being a member is tiring and, at times, frustrating. However, being on SAB has allowed me to develop stronger leadership, time-management and planning skills all while serving the student body and fostering a stronger sense of community on campus. 

If you feel called to serve your community by planning and hosting weekly events on campus, I strongly encourage you to apply for SAB. Many of us on SAB are graduating or are unable to remain on the team next year, leaving a number of positions unfilled. While being a member gives you the chance to develop amazing skills to prepare you for the workforce, it also comes with great perks, such as free event admittance, a small scholarship and others. If you are interested in applying, please contact Sabrina Severe at stugage@eastern.edu. S-A-B on three!

“We think differently and that’s not a bad thing”: Autism Acceptance Month 2022.

Since 2011, April is annually recognized as Autism Acceptance Month (previously Autism Awareness Month). According to the 2021 10th anniversary Autistic Self-Advocacy Network’s statement, “Autism Acceptance Month was created by and for the autistic community to change the conversation around autism, shifting it away from stigmatizing ‘autism awareness’ language that presents autism as a threat to be countered with vigilance.” Autism acceptance is about equitable belonging, not apathetic tolerance or self-righteous saviorism.

What is autism? It’s a developmental disability (known in the DSM as Autism Spectrum Disorder – ASD) that some people are born with and live with for their whole lives. It’s heritable, not caused by vaccines (a popular misconception in some circles); it can’t be cured, reversed, or fixed (what Applied Behavioral Analysis—ABA—attempts to do), and while it can be masked to varying degrees, it is a permanent neurotype that affects everything about a person, from the senses to social interactions to emotions. The World Health Organization said in March 2022 that “about 1 in 100 children has autism” but that while “characteristics may be detected in early childhood, … autism is often not diagnosed until much later.” 

Autism is relatively common, and it’s very likely you have known many autistic people, diagnosed or not, over the course of your life; as such, it’s very important to understand this disability. Julianne Anemone, an autistic student here at Eastern, said that while mental health awareness for more common things like anxiety and depression is improving, “with autism [there’s a] spectrum of symptoms … it’s complicated[;…] no two [autistic] people are going to be similar.” Dr.  Thompson, the director of the College Success Program here at Eastern that exists to assist autistic students, said “because autism affects many aspects of how a person interacts with the world, it looks very different from one person to another.” Justin Rittwage, another autistic student at Eastern, said that the most important thing non-autistic people need to know is that “[autistic people] think differently and that’s not a bad thing.” Dr. Thompson also noted that it’s further important to know that the commoly-used “high-functioning [and] low-functioning [spectrum] is a simplistic and inaccurate way of looking at [autism]…some people are able to adapt well to their environment, but other people don’t see the effort that goes into that;” i.e. there’s huge amounts of effort to live and function to any degree for all autistic people.

There are also many misconceptions about autism. Dr. Thompson said that some of those misconceptions are that “autism looks a certain way, or that once you know one [autistic] person’s strengths and weaknesses [you can] apply [that] to others… One that bothers me the most is that autistic people aren’t capable of empathy…[there’s a] range of levels of empathy within the autistic community just as there is a range of empathy among allistics.” Rittwage recounted that “the biggest misconception is that we’re not intelligent. That’s how I felt my guidance counselors treated me in high school, and I wasn’t able to excel or reach my full potential until college… I didn’t think I was going to be able to perform as well as I did and I’m blown away by that.” Anemone said that “when most people think about autism they think about …[dramatized]examples like Shaun from The Good Doctor, [and] they think [other autistic people] aren’t really capable of doing much, but that is only really [the case] for the severe[ly disabled].”

Regarding support, Dr. Thompson noted carefully that “lots of neurotypical people are trying to do good and doing it from their own perspective rather than from the perspective of autistic individuals.” And it’s important to remember that many autistic people, especially those assigned female at birth and people of color, are un- or late-diagnosed—“signifiers of autism aren’t nearly as clear” due to different socializations than the DSM accounts for, which is “geared towards” white autistics assigned male at birth, Dr. Thompson continued. Anemone agreed, saying that “it’s important for autistic women to speak out about their symptoms, because autism is diagnosed a lot more in men compared to women.” And being undiagnosed “is problematic because it affects self-understanding and how [many] support systems and accommodations [you have access to],” said Dr Thompson. Anemone said “[it’s] important that people with … autistic symptoms … get help early enough they could also potentially have success in life.” Both Anemone and Rittwage said that CSP and other accommodation services at Eastern was the reason they chose this university. “Eastern has a pretty good autism program and that’s why I chose [it]…When I was choosing colleges I was only looking at autism programs…I also know that CCAS is a really good resource as well…[it’s a] robust system and it definitely has helped me out a lot, both academically and socially,” remembered Anemone; Rittwage agreed and said “[the] CSP program is there, that’s why I came here and transferred in; I needed a little bit more support…at my other college, they didn’t have that.” 

Autism is an enormous spectrum of different symptoms, comorbidities, disabling factors and experiences; no two autistic people are the same. It’s deeply personal, and while there is an autistic community—since the world is set up around neurotypicals, you can find the people whose brains work similarly—it can be hugely important to an autistic person’s sense of self. Anemone remembered, “when I was younger I was more severely autistic, [and] luckily because my mom noticed…I was able to get the services I needed to be able to get to where I am now. I want to be an inspiration for other people…I hope to be an advocate, and say that autistic people can do anything that other people can do.” And Rittwage said, “I’ve heard people say that they want to cure autism, and I would not want to give it away in a million years, never. You have struggles and hurdles, but it’s a specific life experience. If I was neurotypical, I wouldn’t have to jump as many hurdles and I wouldn’t be who I am today.”

Where Did the Trees Go? Answers to Student’s Questions about the Environmental Changes on Campus.

If you’ve been strolling around Eastern’s campus lately, you might have noticed that trees have been cut down in several places on campus, most notably in front of Sparrowk residence hall. You may also have noticed that the sign declaring Eastern a nature preserve next to the Sparrowk bridge is missing. Many people have expressed frustration and confusion at this development. Eastern is often lauded for its beautiful campus, but is that changing?

Grounds Manager Marcus Von Hertsenberg met with me in an interview to discuss the changes happening around campus. “Rest assured, all the changes that are happening are all positive,” he said, prefacing our interview as he handed me a labeled manilla envelope full of detailed print-outs to supplement the information provided below.

Bradford pears were recently added to the noxious invasive plant list; while they are a colorful flowering species that looks appealing, they’re often deeply damaging to native species and environments. On Feb. 9, 2022, the ban on sale and cultivation took effect. According to Von Hertsenberg, Eastern is “phasing in process with other native plants” and replanting with native species, all “going in line with regulation and code.”

When asked about the replanting process, Von Hertsenberg said, “As of this year already, we have four trees that have already been put in.” One was a donation provided by Susan Weber, an alumna from the class of 1968, which was planted by the water wheel. There have also been two sycamores and a cypress planted. The Grounds Department has also received approval for funding devoted to the replanting efforts; the tree company that the university works with, Shreiner Tree Care, has also donated redbuds, which are a native species. The replanting will take place throughout the spring, now that the cold has broken.

Regarding Eastern’s status as a nature preserve, Von Hertsenberg stated that “We’re still very much a nature preserve.” Unfortunately, the signs were vandalized and stolen, but that hasn’t stopped the conservation efforts that the Grounds Department has been working on. In 2002, the Growing Greener Grant was established and backed by John Monroe to confront the issues on campus related to ponds and invasive species. However, the preserve area was treated as a boundary line, and from 2002 to 2018, “weeds and invasives took over and led to extreme deforestation,” Von Hertsenberg said. Since October 2021, his department has been working on water control on the paths as well as dealing with watershed issues. 

“There’s been a lot of extreme efforts from my staff and my department in, as we call it, reopening Eastern and a lot of good has come from that,” Von Hertsenberg said. They’ve been focusing on sustainable conservation efforts. “Every single thing has been safety-minded and these naturalization efforts have been outstanding. Everything that has gone into the ground in the last two years has been native-based.” For example, many of the wood chips around campus, such as the chips by the painted rock, are recycled from storm damage.

Von Hertsenberg also highlighted an exciting project that the Grounds Department is tossing around: Operation Walton Restoration. The Grounds Department wants to bring the area around Walton pond to its original aesthetic appeal before invasives took over. His team, which includes Peter Bogdon, Tim Vorwald and Sara Petrondi as well as support from Plant Ops members Jeff Gromis and Tony Patricco, have been working tirelessly to make our campus not only beautiful but also sustainable and ethical. Next time you stop and notice how lovely the place we live and learn is, consider sending a thank you note to the Grounds Department for their deep-rooted attention to both beauty and environmental justice.

Study Guides Prepare and Reduce Anxiety for Final Exams: Why professors should be required to distribute study guides for exams.

As the semester comes to an end, many students are preparing for finals week. This is one of the most stressful weeks in a college student’s life because of the multiple exams they have to take in a week. Most exams at Eastern are cumulative and require students to remember a lot of information that could be hard to recall or even prepare beforehand. Professors should provide students with study guides to reduce stress and uncertainty about these exams.

College is already a difficult time for student’s mental health. Between the constant assignments, balancing a social life and working, it can seem overwhelming when a student needs to prepare for exams that have no direction to it. Study guides are a great way to show students what professors expect of them and help them better prepare for an exam that impacts their grade heavily.

Providing a study guide will help students better understand the material as well. When you are stressed out about something, it is easy to focus more on the stress rather than what you need to learn. Many students focus on just memorizing the material and then disregard it later in life because they know it can make or break their final grade in a class. Study guides will give them a sense of direction and will help them feel less stressed.

Many students are thankful and relieved when professors create a study guide for any type of test, especially finals or midterms. When you are told you are expected to know everything but have nothing to go off of besides notes and handouts, it can be overwhelming and having that done in multiple classes makes it worse. While stress is a part of a college student’s life, I think study guides should be created to help students better understand the material and reduce anxiety. 

When you know what to expect and what types of questions or problems will be on an exam, stress levels can decrease and performance can go up. I know that many students feel that they are more organized when they have study guides. Tamalei Sharp, a sophomore at Eastern University, believes that professors who provide a study guide help their students’ mental health because they know what is covered and it helps students stress less. 

Hannah Wilson, a freshman at Eastern, thinks that it would be beneficial to students to have study guides provided to reduce the stress of trying to study everything. Many other students agree that they feel a lot more comfortable when study guides are provided before exams. 

Many people suffer from test anxiety, which means they can perform badly on a test even if they studied for hours. Providing study guides can help boost performance on exams because students know what to expect and will learn more about the subject. I believe that professors should provide students with study guides so that they can understand the material better and feel less overwhelmed during a very stressful time in their lives.

Eastern Alumni, Brisa De Angulo, Goes to Inter-American Court of Human Rights: The IACtHR hears the case of Brisa De Angulo Losada v. Bolivia, to further jurisprudence surrounding sexual violence against children and adolescents.

Trigger warning: This article mentions sexual abuse and sexual violence.

Founder of A Breeze of Hope foundation and 2007 graduate of Eastern University, Brisa De Angulo’s has rooted her career in activism and justice for survivors of sexual violence. De Angulo is the CEO and founder of A Breeze of Hope, a nonprofit organization that provides legal, social, and emotional support to people who have experienced sexual violence in Bolivia. A Breeze of Hope aims to “Restore the lives of those who’ve suffered childhood sexual violence by providing them free, holistic support; prevent sexual violence through transdisciplinary prevention strategies​ and promote healthy, comprehensive childhood development​,” A Breeze of Hope stated. 

As a child, De Angulo was involved with her community and flourished in extracurriculars and academics. However, this changed after De Angulo experienced sexual violence within her own family. When De Angulo was 15 years old, her 27 year old cousin sexually abused her repeatedly for eight months. He threatened De Angulo in order to maintain her silence. De Angulo grew detached from her loved ones and her extracurriculars and academics began to flounder rapidly. She developed an eating disorder, dropped out of school and made several attempts on her life. 

After enduring eight months of sexual violence, De Angulo confided in her parents. Together, they sought aid from the police and took the case to court. However, they struggled to find a lawyer willing to defend her case and community members fought to quiet her. Her family’s home was set on fire, threats were made on her life and people tried to run her over with their cars. De Angulo endured three trials in Bolivia, but her cousin has never had to face any repercussions. 

On Mar. 29 and Mar. 30, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) heard the case Brisa De Angulo Losada v. Bolivia. “This is the first time that the IACtHR will hear a case pertaining to the human rights violations of an adolescent victim of incest,” Equality Now stated. 

De Angulo and her legal team are demanding that the government responds more effectively to sexual violence through law and procedure reform, operationalization of justice, development of up-to-date and high quality professionals and services and prevention strategies. Amongst many other goals, the team is focusing on eliminating the statue of limitations on cases pertaining to sexually based offenses. Currently, De Angulo is awaiting the results; however, she continues to raise awareness and further monetary support towards A Breeze of Hope. 

You can learn more about Brisa De Angulo Losada v. Bolivia at www.abreezeofhope.org/

“Despite the threats on my life, I will not hide my name, I will not hide my face, I will not carry the shame that belongs to my aggressor,” De Anglo stated during the trial. 

Source: CNN, A Breeze of Hope, Equality Now

Biden Administration Strives to End Title 42 Restrictions: Title 42 restrictions allowed for increased expulsion of immigrants at the southern border.

The Biden administration has taken action to end the Title 42 restrictions which allowed migrants to be quickly expelled at the southern border. The restrictions had been put in place by the Trump administration in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Biden administration is now intending to return to the original policy which requires migrants to be released into the country. The Biden administration has decided it is safe to return to this policy because of the decrease in Covid cases, the number of vaccinated Americans and new protocols that allow migrants to be vaccinated onsite at the border.

Individuals on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns over the waves of migrants that will be entering the U.S. come May 23. Some Republican and Moderate Democrat lawmakers claim that there is not a sufficient plan in place to correctly manage these migrant waves.

The Biden administration, on the other hand, believes that this policy’s removal is long overdue, and has questioned the actual effectiveness it has on stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Many migrant advocates believe that this policy was implemented with political motivations at its core instead of the true focus being health and safety. Reasons for this theory come from former president Trump’s goal to enforce stricter border security. Any border legislation, restrictions or protocols have stirred up controversy ever since former president Trump began campaigning for presidency.

“Between 30,000 to 60,000 people are estimated to be in northern Mexico, waiting to cross the southern US border, according to a federal law enforcement official,” CNN said. Many of them are not from Mexico but have journeyed hundreds of miles from countries in Central America. It is possible that a maximum of 18,000 migrants could cross the border daily when Title 42 is replaced.

Overturning Trump-era policy has been a chief objective of President Biden who ran on the campaign slogan, “Build Back Better.” Some see this latest move as a purely political move to make a political statement, while others see it as an important step to overturn a policy that was doing more harm than good. A large surge of migrants could cause yet another crisis for President Biden to deal with as the midterm elections approach. At the same time, if the administration handles this transition well, it could give the Democrats a boost at the midterms.

Sources: CBS, CNN, Fox News