Rocking and Rolling: SAB’s roller-skating event provided a night of fun for everyone.

Eastern’s Student Activities Board (SAB) is currently composed of 11 students and 3 advisors who are responsible for planning and hosting events for the student body to attend on a weekly basis. This past weekend, we decided to go with a classic event— roller-skating. However, sometimes we cannot do events like this alone. So, we enjoy inviting outside vendors onto campus to share their resources with us. Last Friday, October 22, we welcomed Neon Entertainment of New York to help us bring a night of glow-in-the dark roller-skating to life on the tennis courts for our undergraduate students. Neon has partnered with us on multiple occasions, with roller-skating being our usual joint event. We always look forward to working with them to ensure there is a smooth set-up process and the event is fun and safe for everyone.

While setting up and cleaning up any SAB event may seem easy to some non-members, that is not the case. Like our other events, this event required lots of assembly so that it could happen. However, without a large enough team, the setup process for this specific event could have easily taken up to, or over, 4 hours. To make it happen, the tiles had to be laid down and locked into each other to create the rink. After the event was finished, a specific pattern had to be followed to ensure the tiles were properly stored away for future uses. No matter the amount of work put into an event, it easily pays off when we see the students that attend are having fun after a stressful week.

Entering the tennis court last Friday night was just like entering a classic roller-rink, just outside and maybe a bit less smelly. Immediately off to the right were the skates; freshly cleaned and ready to be worn by the excited students. Neighboring the skates was the snack table, decorated with ice-cold water, hot apple cider, chips, and candy— the college student essentials (Well, at least some staples…). Then of course, the main attraction was situated right behind both tables. Bordered with chairs on three sides and a DJ station, the rink came to life with students, black lights, and music. Admittedly, there was a slow start to the event. Only a few students appeared within the first hour. However, once 7:00 PM came, attendance was no longer a concern. 

Soon, the rink became so full that there was hardly any room for new skaters to join! Despite the tight space, students came and enjoyed themselves for an hour or two, or maybe even the entire four hours! Skaters of all skill levels were there: from those finding their balance to those doing three-sixties as if it were breathing. “I think the high energy of the event made it feel as if midterms weren’t even happening. Everyone was just having a great time”, said Alexis Schenberger, executive chair of SAB. If there is one thing that our event attendees bring, it is definitely energy and good vibes. Sure, the music may have helped, but it was the students that truly brought this event to life. And to us on SAB, that is how we know we have done our job well at the end of each night.

Driving Equity Bills Bans Low-Level Traffic Stops in Philadelphia: Philadelphia becomes the first major city to ban police from stopping motorists for minor violations which disproportionately affects people of color.

In a vote of 14-2, Philadelphia city counsel made the majority decision to ban police from making traffic stops for minor violations.

The bill, passed on Oct. 14, was implemented to assist in eliminating racial inequalities among Philadelphia drivers by preventing the chance of bias in these unnecessary stops.

A previous study done in Philadelphia showed that black and latino drivers were 3.4 times more likely to be pulled over for the same infractions as their white counterparts. 

The offenses that are being discussed are ones that normally lead to otherwise unprompted vehicle searches, hence the decision to take action against the stops. Experts say “these “pretextual” stops are used disproportionately against Black and Latino drivers, resulting in excessive fees and distrust in police,” 6 abc shared. 

The type of stops being banned are categorized as secondary violations. This includes stops for bumper issues, driving with a minor obstruction or single headlight, driving with a singular broken tail light, driving without a full visible inspection or registration sticker and driving without vehicle registration within 60 days of the incident, among a few others. 

People found committing the formerly mentioned vehicle violations will still face repercussions despite the new bill. The forms of repercussion are still being discussed, but the idea of using traffic cameras to mail out citations is being considered. 

The purpose of removing the traffic stops is not to allow people to “get away” with  committing the infractions; hence the efforts being made to still provide warnings or citations for the acts. 

This bill is the first municipal legislature of its kind, and the law was put together by Philadelphia mayor, Jim Kenney and Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Danielle Outlaw. 

“This is not stopping police officers from making legitimate public safety stops. If I have a reasonable suspicion or probable cause you’re involved in criminal activity, I can make the stop,” said Francis Healy, special advisor to Commissioner Outlaw.

These changes will only be implemented in the city of Philadelphia and will not be applied or make any changes to Pennsylvania state motor vehicle code. 

In the past year, 94 percent of drivers in cases where vehicles were searched in Philadelphia were people of color.

Supporters of the new bill not only hope that the bills introduction will reduce racial profiling, but supporters also hope the implementation will free police officers to focus on more serious offenses, maximizing police resources. 

The bill was first introduced last October by Philadelphia Counsilmember Isaiah Thomas, who spoke about several instances where he experiences the racial profiling by police officers firsthand.

“I’m confident that this bill will be able to address some of the equality issues that we’ve faced in the city of Philadelphia. I think it will put us in a position where hopefully we’ll see significantly less stops as it relates to these types of traffic violations,” said Thomas. 

Sources: Fox News, NPR, Whyy (PBS), 6 abc

Haiti Pursues Safe Release of 17 Missionaries Kidnapped by Gang: Negotiations are underway to ensure the safe release of the kidnapped missionaries

On Saturday, Oct. 16, sixteen Americans and one Canadian were kidnapped by a Haitian gang.  

Among those who were abducted were five children, including an 8-month-old. The abductees are missionaries that are a part of a Christian aid organization that is based in Ohio.  The kidnapping happened just outside of Haiti’s capital, Port-Au-Prince. 

According to the New York Times, the missionaries were taken by the gang named, “400 Mawozo.”  It is reported that the gang is requesting $17 million for the release of the missionaries. 

The leader of 400 Mawazo released a video where he claimed he would kill each American if his request is not met.  The FBI is assisting in negotiations to try and get the missionaries released. 

Haiti has been in a state of chaos for years, but the kidnapping was an example of how difficult life in Haiti is. Back in July, Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse was assassinated. In addition, the country has faced horrendous natural disasters. Since the state of the country is in utter chaos, gangs like 400 Mawza have seized the opportunity to take control. 

Eric Jean Jacques, a haitian businessman, told the New York Times that the gangs have gained so much power that they do not even try to hide. He said they take their time with negotiations because law enforcement and military force cannot enter their territory.  

400 Mawozo controls the area and have been causing and inciting terror for months. According to the New York Times, they are responsible for 60 percent of the kidnappings from July to September.  They have kidnapped businessmen and police officers. Jacques says that the police are basically powerless and are not much help in situations like this. 

Negotiations for the release of the missionaries are ongoing and the gang is reported to have said that they will take as long as they need as long as they get what they want.

Sources: CBS, New York Times, NPR

Eastern’s Anticipated Football Team & Sexual Assault Concerns: A deeper dive into the selection process of Eastern’s future football coach, Title IX procedures, and student concerns.

According to a 2018 study, the amount of reported sexual assaults with 17- to 24-year-old victims during football games increased by 41 percent on home game days and by 15 percent on away game days. Given that these studies only recorded the number of reported sexual assaults, research indicates that nearly 80 percent of sexual assaults remain unreported. However, the universities used for this study contain a larger population in comparison to Eastern and consist of different regulations and values. 

As Eastern University prepares to welcome its first football team in the upcoming years, such studies and other factors have raised concerns amongst Eastern students regarding the preventative measures and resources available. Dr. Jackie Irving, Vice Provost for Student Development and Title IX Coordinator; Eric McNelley, Athletic Director; and the Student Government Association (SGA) provided insights on Eastern University’s anticipated football team and concerns related to sexual assault. 

Student leaders within the Student Government Association have acknowledged the statistics linking football game days and increased sexual assault cases. “There needs to be a clear institutional stance on sexual assault that holds perpetrators accountable, doesn’t victim blame,” SGA explained. 

Eric McNelley shared how the entire athletic department, including the athletic staff, graduate assistants, and student athletes, complete Title IX training and standard intervention annually. McNelley has a personal understanding of the impacts of sexual violence and is very passionate about this issue. Speaking of the anticipated football team, “My goal is that I do not want anyone to feel fear. We are so driven to get this right for the community,” McNelley shared. 

In addition to this, McNelley discussed the selection process for aspiring Eastern football coaches. First, McNelley initially evaluates the applicants from a football coaching perspective. In other words, the applicants are assessed on whether they have the skills and knowledge to be a successful football coach. 

 Second, the applicants that pass this evaluation participate in a second round of interviews with panelists such as Dr. Jackie Irving, Ashlee Williams, two student representatives, and several others. “We had 13 people represented on the panel – none of which have any idea of what it takes to coach a sport,” McNelley explained. In having so many diverse voices on the decision-making panel, McNelley shared his aim, as well as the entire committee’s aim, to find an aspiring football coach that will enhance the entire Eastern community. 

“All of [the applicants] talked about character and the care for the community, so I can’t wait until students get to talk to whoever they choose because I think they’ve done a really good job of vetting the coaches,” Dr. Irving emphasized. 

As student enrollment is predicted to increase, Dr. Irving explained that Eastern will be hiring a Title IX deputy, as well as other services for students. “When you increase enrollment, you have to increase services,” Dr. Irving stated. The “It’s On Us” campaign will also continue to promote educational resources and opportunities to nurture an environment of consent. 

Dr. Jackie Irving, Eric McNelley, and Student Government Association are available to address any concerns or questions that students may contain. “Anyone that would like to come speak to me, my door is always open,” McNelley explained. Students who would prefer to talk to a female athletic director regarding their concerns are always welcome to reach out to Heidi Birtwistle. “The goal is to make sure that we are doing what we need to do to support students academically, socially, emotionally, developmentally, and spiritually,” Dr. Irving stated. 

Sources: American Economic Journal, Brennan Center for Justice

Don’t Forget to Registration: Class registration begins early November.

It’s that time of the year again, when the semester still feels like it’s in full swing, and yet, we have to start thinking about next semester. The schedules and class lists for Spring 2022 have been published; to find them, log into your MyEastern page, click on the Academic Plan-Registration tab, and click on Student Planning. This will take you to your current semester’s schedule, and from there, you can click on the tab for your progress or the tab for planning and scheduling.

Getting the classes you need for your major is important to stay on track for graduation. I’ve found my progress page to be super helpful for that! I can see my GPA, my credits earned, and a breakdown of my required classes in various categories highlighted in red, yellow, and green. If you’re having trouble organizing your classes or figuring out the right sequence to take classes in, that’s what your academic advisor is for! Most of them will make time to talk you through your course load if you reach out by email, and everyone has to have their courses approved by their advisor before they can register.

However, if you have some extra time in your schedule, you might want to check out some classes that will nourish a different part of your brain! If you’re a STEM major, try out a theatre or a dance class; if you’re a humanities major, see if there’s an entry-level class in a subject out of your ballpark that has openings, like an astronomy class or a psychology class. There are a handful of one credit elective classes as well, which are only an hour each week. I always try to balance my course load so I’m not doing too much of the same thing. It’s easy to overload our brains and burn out in college, and scheduling carefully is one way to avoid exhausting ourselves.

Registration is staggered depending on the quantity of credits you have. If you have more than 73 credits, you can register Nov. 2. If you’re between 32 and 72.99, you’re on the third, and any amount below 30 means you register on Nov. 4. Make sure to set a timer and have your classes organized by then to make sure you get the schedule you want; good luck!

Favorite Fall Drinks: Which fall beverage will rule them all?

Only a select few members of our society truly enjoy cold weather. Most of us enjoy the fall season for its activities, colors and fashion, but not for its colder embrace.

For those of us who seek some kind of enjoyment in spite of the cold, we often turn towards warm and seasonal drinks. Some folks love to dive head first into the seasonal flavors of fall and choose drinks like a pumpkin spice latte, while others prefer to stick with classic drinks like hot chocolate.

To write this story, I had a pumpkin spice latte, chai tea, hot chocolate, and warm apple cider. I am not a pumpkin spice enthusiast, although I fully support those select people who are able to enjoy the seasonal latte. If you are a fan or fanatic of pumpkin spice, by all means, enjoy it.

But if you, like me, are hesitant to try it or are simply ambivalent about it… I suggest staying that way. Chai is fantastic as tea or as a latte, but only if you enjoy spices (not “spicy”, “spices”). The rich aroma and flavor of a chai mixture will warm you right up.

For those who don’t really want to bother with spices or too much flavor: why mess with the classics? Hot chocolate not only warms you up, but it leaves a sweet aftertaste in your mouth. If you can obtain a rich and creamy hot chocolate, your night is complete.

All of this being said, if you want to indulge in the fall season but not worry about spices or flavors you’re not used to, look no further than apple cider. A mug/cup of hot apple cider will warm you up as you enjoy the familiar taste of apples without the drink being overly sweet.

When it comes to fall drinks, it really comes down to preference. If you are willing or curious enough, go for the spiced drinks. But there is never any shame when enjoying a warm cup of chocolate or apple cider. Stay warm out there.

ACE Week 2021: An introduction to asexuality awareness and activism.

This year, Ace Week is October 24th to 30th! According to the website of aceweek.org, “Ace Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness, build community, and create change around the world.” But raise awareness for what?

Despite asexuality becoming more visible each year, there are still many people who don’t know what the A in LGBTQIA stands for. It stands for asexual (ace), aromantic (aro), and agender, and just because someone identifies as one of those doesn’t mean they necessarily identify as all three. During Ace Week, the focus is on the first of those three—asexuality.

Asexuality is defined as experiencing little or no sexual attraction. Sexual attraction is when someone feels an attraction that is sexual in nature towards a specific person. Just because someone is asexual doesn’t mean that they’ll never want to have sex; it just means that they don’t experience sexual attraction directed towards anyone, regardless of whether or not they experience romantic feelings for that person. People who identify as asexual can identify with any form of romantic attraction (just change the -sexual to -romantic, like saying biromantic, homoromantic, heteroromantic, or panromantic) or no form of romantic attraction at all (aromantic).

Our society places an enormous value on sex and romance. People who don’t experience sexual attraction can often feel isolated from or confused by those who do (generally referred to as allosexuals). Asexuality has historically been seen as something that is wrong with a person and should be fixed, and asexuals can experience marginalization in relationships, in the media, under the law, and in the medical field. Asexuals have also been seen as or portrayed as people who don’t have emotions or who lack the ability to love others. This simply isn’t true. As AVEN, the Asexual Visibility and Awareness Network, says, “Unlike celibacy, which is a choice to abstain from sexual activity, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who we are, just like other sexual orientations. Asexual people have the same emotional needs as everybody else and are just as capable of forming intimate relationships.”

If you’re interested in finding out more about asexuality, there’s a growing pool of resources for you! The book Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and The Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen is a great resource to jump into. There are also online advocates like Yasmin Benoit, a Black model, writer, and activist from Britain who often speaks on the intersection of being Black and ace, or the channel called Ace Dad Advice on Tiktok, Twitter, and Youtube, where Cody Daigle-Orians gives advice as an older mentor figure within the asexual community. There are also many wonderful fiction books that center ace characters, such as Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger, Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann, and Not Your Backup by C.B. Lee.

Refuge is also a great on-campus community for queer people and allies at Eastern! If you have questions, they can help you find the answers or come beside you as you search for those answers.

This week, take some time to check out one of these resources. The ace flag has four stripes of black, grey, white and purple; keep an eye out for it. If you know someone who identifies as ace, ask how you can support them! 

Swing Dance – It’s a Protest: The story of swing dance and its radical beginnings.

Swing dance: think Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, 20’s Charleston, 40’s big band, 50’s rockabilly. Maybe you’ve never heard of it, maybe you’ve done a bit of it, maybe you’ve seen it in a movie, maybe you’ve gone to one or two ETHELS meetings (Eastern’s Toe-tappin Heel-stompin East Coast Lindy Hoppin Swing Club). Many people today think it’s this old kind of dancing that’s from an oppressive era that no one under the age of 60 does anymore. 

Did swing dance get its start in an oppressive era? Yes, in fact, but it was a bug, not a feature, of that oppression. Let me explain. Swing dance was created and developed by Black Americans during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, building on many aspects of African-American dance, alongside their development of jazz and blues music. The 1920s, of course, were during the Jim Crow era–during segregation. Hence swing dance’s start in an oppressive era. However, the Harlem Renaissance in all of its facets and glory was progressive–it birthed Black American art so popular that even mainstream art today has appropriated its styles, it saw significant economic and class mobility among many Black Americans–and all of this progress occurred in spite of the racial segregation and disenfranchisement of the era. Swing dance, and its music, was a part of that progress. Live jazz music or big band music with a wooden floor in front of the stage for dancing was cheap, accessible leisure, even moving into the Great Depression of the 30’s and wartime of the 40’s. Furthermore, spaces for swing dance were some of the few places where Black and white people of opposite genders could (relatively) freely and openly interact and touch. This is an incredibly important note, because the era of segregation harbored nasty, politicized hatred of multiracial relationships. Historically, swing dance has roots in the progressivism of its day, artistically, economically, and racially. 

Today, if you find yourself in front of live jazz or rockabilly music with a dance floor, the majority of swing dancers will probably be white. This is partially due to white Americans’ appropriation of successful and popular Black art, and partially due to the fact that the progressive Black music and dancing of our day is in other genres: rap, hip hop, etc. However, if you look closely at today’s swing dance, you’ll also see something relatively new: gender progressivism. Swing dance’s boom was just after the 19th amendment was passed (giving white women the right to vote), its heyday was decades before Black women were enfranchised, and the country was deep in the throes of heterosexist patriarchy, in Black communities and in white. But now, if you go to a swing dance venue or maybe an ETHELS meeting, you can see two men dancing together, two women dancing together, and even women leading men. During lessons, you’ll hear less of “Ladies, over here, gents, over here,” and more “If you’re learning to lead, over here, if you want to learn how to follow, come here.” 

Swing dance (with its many forms, including Lindy Hop and jitterbug) is still alive and well today. A not-insignificant number of young people enjoy swing dance, and there’s even international competitions and conferences for swing dance that are mostly attended by millennials and older Gen Z’ers. Its inextricable connection with Black American progressivism from the Jim Crow era cannot be forgotten by white dancers, and it is a home for expressions of gender progressivism today.

Sources: Sinead McGrath for Medium; Nicole M Baran for Bitter Southerner, Saint Savoy Ballroom, Camp Hollywood

Cheers! To A Tour: Piano-rock band Jukebox the Ghost headlined the last show of their fall tour in Philadelphia and didn’t disappoint.

Jukebox the Ghost is a piano-rock band from Washington, D.C. who doesn’t have a huge following, but attracts niche audiences. The band consists of three members, Ben Thornewill (piano & vocals), Tommy Seigel (guitar & vocals) and Jesse Kristin (drums & select vocals). The three guys combine to produce incredibly rich vocal and instrumental tracks that you can absolutely rock out to. On Oct. 9 at Union Transfer in Philadelphia, I had the wonderful experience of attending Jukebox the Ghost’s final date of their Fall 2021 tour.

The night started not with Jukebox but with their opening act, Canadian funky rock band, Fleece. I hadn’t listened to any of their music prior to the concert, so I was a tad skeptical. However, when they appeared on stage and told us, “We’re Fleece, and we’re going to rock your socks off,” I was more than excited.

And Fleece did not disappoint. They did, indeed, rock our socks off with funky guitar riffs, Bee Gee-esque vocal tracks and surprise jam sessions and tempo shifts in the middle of some songs. During one slower song, they asked us to put our cell phone flashlights on. The stage lights dimmed, and the band was completely illuminated by our cell phones.

I still am listening to Fleece on repeat today. They were outstanding.

Jukebox then took the stage. With anecdotes, clever banter, audience interaction, songs from their 2008 album and new, unreleased music, Jukebox the Ghost put on a show and made me remember how good concert life could be. Faithful fans and first-time fans (with masked faces) danced and sang without care, finally getting the chance to overcome the COVID concert hiatus.

There were a couple of standout moments for me as a six-year fan of the band and a two-time attendee of Union Transfer’s venue.

Chiefly, hearing new music before it’s even released is always a treat, especially when fans know that artists have been working diligently on projects during COVID. Not being on tour calls for more family time, yes, but also for more writing, recording and editing. When Jukebox the Ghost performed “Million Dollar Bills,” one of their not-yet-released COVID-project songs, fans didn’t sing; they didn’t know the words, of course, because the song was brand new. This was a phenomenon that was interesting to hear at a concert attended by fans of a band. The band wasn’t being accompanied by a sea of voices singing along. Fans got to hear the band purely for their instrumentals and vocals, as if they were listening to the song on Spotify.

This concert marked the second time I attended Union Transfer for a concert. Both were Jukebox the Ghost concerts. Union Transfer is a personal, intimate venue that has dynamic acoustics and ideal house lighting. The main room is small enough that fans can pack in and still get good sound, but large enough so that the same sound doesn’t drown out everything around you.

Concerts post-COVID can seem like a scary thing. Over a year ago we were being told to stay in our homes because going to the grocery store is even too dangerous. Luckily for music fans, advancements in health and policy have made society feel a bit better about bringing live music back. Union Transfer required proof of vaccination and use of masks for all in attendance of the show. I didn’t see one person violating the rules, so I felt particularly safe to be in a crowd of 600 people.

I would recommend Jukebox the Ghost to anyone who appreciates a bit of existential dread in songwriting, incredible piano playing and fun, energetic guitar riffs. I would recommend Union Transfer to anyone wanting to see a more niche band in concert. I’d say Jukebox the Ghost and Union Transfer harmonize well, but not better than Ben and Tommy’s voices in “Jumpstarted.”

Movie Spotlight: “Sunset Boulevard”: A look at a Hollywood classic.

Two weeks ago, I went to watch the 1950’s film, “Sunset Blvd.” at a local theater. Honestly, I didn’t have high hopes. From the trailer, it seemed like the usual depressing, dialogue-ridden, black and white noir film. To both my suprise and delight, it was something different.

I must make the assumption in writing this that most of you haven’t watched “Sunset Blvd.” Though it is a Hollywood “classic”, I have yet to run into someone who has seen it. The film is about the movie industry, hence the caption, “A Hollywood Story”. William Holden plays a struggling screenwriter, who has given up on producing art because of his struggle to make money. When the creditors from the bank come to take his car, he becomes desperate and becomes entangled with aging film star Norma Desmond. This leads him down a rabbit hole of sometimes strange, and often tragic story twists.   

 All of the acting in the film is quite superb, but Gloria Swanson’s performance as Norma Desmond overshadows everyone. She plays a film star from the silent area, who was swept to the side when “talkies”, movies with sound, became mainstream. I found the similarities between her character and Charles Dickens’s Miss Havisham quite striking. My suspicions were confirmed when William Holden’s character made a reference to their similarities. 

In essence, Norma Desmond is a modern Miss. Havisham. She lives in the past, she still believes herself to still be a great start, and she is very bitter. She watches her own movies over and over, and her house is covered in photos of herself. 

Actress, Gloria Swanson, does a simply remarkable job of portraying this fading star, who is yearning for love and praise. Her ability to act as a silent star, in a movie that involves sound, is more than impressive. Gloria Swanson had been a silent actress herself, and Sunset Blvd. was a return to the screen for her, so in a way, her acting was reflecting a slice of reality. 

But Gloria Swanson is not the only reason to watch this movie, Billy Wilder directing is also praiseworthy. His camera work is crisp and smooth. His shadowy atmospheres contribute immensely to the movie’s darker themes, of greed and pride.

Another fascinating aspect of the movie is its narration. I hate films with narrators. So often they are used as a shortcut to make up for visual deficiencies. In a film, the director is supposed to show the audience an image. He is not supposed to tell them what to think about the image. The image should speak for itself. Somehow, William Holden’s narration is quite convincing, and actually adds another layer of complexity. 

Greed seems to be the central theme of the film. Each character is interested in themselves and their careers. Every action taken by a character is motivated by greed. William Holden’s character is willing to sacrifice too much for his dreams of wealth. It is also a warning against living outside of reality. Like a classic noir film, the ending is not pleasant. But the closing scene, (which I will not spoil), is one of the most fascinating and dramatic endings to a film I have ever watched. Not to mention one of the most iconic moments in cinematic history.