Pie a Professor: Students are setting up a “pie a professor” fundraiser to raise money for IJM.

Starting April 4 through April 6, students will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite professor to get pied in the face. A group of students are hosting a fundraiser to raise money for the EU chapter of the International Justice Mission. The fundraiser is being run by Jayme Fisher, Keilah Cook, Melody Sweeney, Will Cunningham and Camryn Mcwilliams.

According to IJM president Gracie McBride, “Eastern’s chapter of IJM works to support International Justice Mission’s global work against human trafficking through prayer, education, and financial support. IJM’s mission is to protect people in poverty from violence by rescuing victims, bringing criminals to justice, restoring survivors to safety and strength and helping local law enforcement build a safe future that lasts.” All the funds raised will go directly to support Eastern’s IJM chapter.  

During the first week of April, specifically April 4, 5 and 6 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., students will be able to vote for a professor they would like to see pied in the face.  The students running the fundraiser have reached out to professors across campus to participate.  Thus, there is a list of candidates (i.e. professors) that students will be able to choose. If the professor’s name is not listed, then students cannot vote for that individual. The top three professors with the most votes will be pied in the face at the end of the week.

There will be a table located in Walton lobby staffed with students, so others can vote. The voting system will be $1 a vote.  Students can vote for a professor any number of times as long as they pay the fee. Thus, if a student wants to vote for a professor five times, then they can donate $5. 

At the end of the three day period, Fisher, Cook, Sweeney, Cunningham and Mcwilliams will tally the votes. On Monday, April 11, the three professors who received the most votes will be pied on the face. 

If students wish to watch their favorite professor get pied in the face, the main pie event will be located at the Walton Patio on April 11 at 3 p.m. 

AWP Conference 2022: Several Eastern students attended one of the largest national conferences for writers.

From March 23rd to the 26th, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) met for their first in-person national conference since 2020. This year, AWP’s national conference met in Philadelphia—the first time it’s done so. 200 events were offered at the conference, along with a book fair with “editors, small presses, publishers, and literary magazines” from all over the country. It took place at the Philadelphia Convention Center. In addition to its in-person conference, there were also more than 100 events available online since they had “a successful virtual conference in 2021with over 6000 attendees.”

This year, a number of writing students from Eastern attended with their Professor Rebecca Gidjunis, who also is Managing Editor of a journal called Saturnalia Books. Saturnalia was present at the book fair all weekend. When  asked to speak about the conference, which Gidjunis has attended multiple times, she said “I love that I can connect with my community of writers and friends from grad school.” This is a large yet tightly-knit community, and many attendees know each other from school, just like Gidjunis,  and they come to the conference every year and recognize faces and names, or interact with well-known writers and publishers on social media. 

A number of the journals represented at the conference this year were from universities with undergraduate and master’s level audiences. Some of these universities were Rutgers, Wilkes, NYU, Columbia, UChicago and the University of Arizona. There were also larger organizations like American Poetry Review, Pen America, The Writer Magazine and Poetry Foundation. Representatives from each journal or publisher came with their most recently released books for sale, along with free merchandise, and set up their booths in enormous rows for attendees to meander through for hours. 

Most of the journals and publishers at the conference focus their material on poetry, essays and short stories, but some housed photographers and nonfiction/fiction authors as well. A few more advertised genre-bending material. On the opening day of the conference, the 23rd, AWP hosted Toi Derricotte— the “celebrated poet”—for their keynote address, and the other events throughout the three days featured talks and panels on a broad variety of subjects like “Ask an Agent Anything,” “Exorcising our Demons: Mental Illness in YA” and “Poets Theater.”

In attendance, one could clearly sense the atmosphere of creativity and community throughout the massive book fair and in the myriad events and panels. Most attendees were young, in their twenties and thirties, as were most of the representatives from journals and publishers. Though some genres found there are not generally regarded as art forms by the general public, like non-fiction or essays, one could be convinced of the artistry in all kinds of writing disciplines just by taking a few steps into the main room of the conference center. It was certainly a gathering of creatives, artists who are on the front of society, pushing it forward and stretching our minds. There was also a discernible spiritedness hovering over the whole three days. “After successfully reimagining the conference as a virtual-only space for 2021, returning to an in-person gathering this year brings a new sense of excitement and anticipation. The AWP staff has worked hard to achieve a safe in-person conference while still providing that wonderful, interactive virtual offering for those who join us online,” said AWP executive director Cynthia Sherman. 

If you’re interested in submitting to any of the above-mentioned journals or publishers, please find them online, as their timelines for submissions update regularly and often. Visit the AWP website for more information about the annual conference.

Sources: AWP 2022 (press release), Rebecca Gidjunis

ETHELS: The club’s spring party!

On Thursday, I had the privilege of attending ETHELS’s swing dance party. Because I was attending that night as a reporter and not just a dancer, I will attempt to be as impartial as possible—although I think ETHELS is one of the best clubs on campus (sorry, I had to slip that in).

  As all reporters should, I got to the event a half hour late, and the party was already in full swing (no pun intended). It was a Greek mythology themed party, and so the walls were hung with greenery and handmade symbols of various Greek gods, and many toga clad individuals were waltzing around the room. Honestly, some of the costumes were quite good, and some were very authentic. I am thinking of the bare chested toga wearer in particular. 

  As a reporter should, I immediately went to the snack table to sample all the food. I want it to be noted that they had some of the best grapes I have ever tasted. I don’t know if they were Greek, I don’t even know if they were organic, but they sure tasted good. While I was gorging myself with grapes, the dancers continued to whirl around the room to very Greek songs like Rockin’ Robin. The party was very dimly lit. The only light came from the little lights strung from the ceiling, and so it was difficult to see anything. Actually, the first time I danced, I crashed my partner into someone else. All reporters should try to fully understand what they are reporting on, and I took this motto to heart by trying to dance with as many people as possible. Sadly, as I said, I arrived late, and because it was dark, it was hard to remember who I had and hadn’t danced with, and so I cannot say I danced with everyone, but I did try my hardest. I tried for almost half an hour to dance with the Waltonian photographer, but he is the most stubborn anti-dancer I have ever met. I would have sworn he was a Baptist, except for the fact that I know he is Orthodox.  

At one point in the evening, I got to dance with an actual dance major. When I apologized for my bad dancing, or more accurately, the non-existence of my dancing, she said, “As long as you’re moving, you are dancing.” I am not sure if this quote is a profound insight on the nature of dance, or if it was just a half hearted attempt to make me feel better about myself. 

All in all, it was quite a wonderful party, even if I failed at getting drunk on the non-alcoholic grape juice. Near the end of the evening we danced a chaotic Greek wedding dance, and by the time I left, I was feeling quite Greek. If you missed it, too bad for you; events like this are not things you run across on a weekly basis. 

 

March 15 Becomes International Day to Combat Islamophobia: The United Nations General Assembly has approved resolution aimed at combatting religious discrimination.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has approved a resolution that sets March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has welcomed this approval. 

The resolution has been adopted by the consensus of the 193-member world body and co-sponsored by 55 prominently Muslim countries. As it emphasizes the right to freedom of religion and belief, it has recalled a 1981 resolution that called for “the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religious or belief,” Aljazeera stated. 

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) played a major role in introducing the resolution. OIC wanted to specifically honor March 15. March 15 marks the date on which an armed individual entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, resulting in 51 deaths and 40 injuries. Hence, the International Day to Combat Islamophobia also honors the lives of those taken by the mosque shooting in addition to raising awareness towards religion-based discrimination. 

The resolution shows concern towards the increase of discrimination, tolerance, and violence directed at members of religious communities, including cases inspired by Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and Christianophobia. All countries, UN bodies, international and regional organizations, civil society, the private sector, and faith-based organizations are asked “to organize and support various high-visibility events aimed at effectively increasing awareness of all levels about curbing Islamophobia, and to observe the new International Day to Combat Islamophobia,” Aljazeera shared.

Prime Minister Khan has regularly advocated against the rising Islamophobia in his addresses at a multitude of forums and through letters to predominantly Muslim countries. “Today, the UN has finally recognized the grave challenge confronting the world: of Islamophobia, respect for religious symbols, and practices and of curtailing systematic hate speech and discrimination against Muslims,” Prime Minister Khan tweeted. 

“Next challenge is to ensure implementation of this landmark resolution,” Prime Minister Khan further stated. 

Sources: Aljazeera

United States House Passes the CROWN Act: After many years of pushing for policy change, the CROWN Act bans race-based hair discrimination.

On Friday, March 18, The House passed the CROWN Act, with a vote of  235-189. It was largely on party lines with 14 Republicans joining the Democrats. 

The act was introduced by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman. CROWN is the acronym for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair. It specifically bans  “discrimination based on an individual’s texture or hairstyle if that style or texture is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin,” NPR stated. The bill specifically bans discrimination at work, federal programs, and public accommodations. 

“Here we are today, standing on behalf of those individuals, whether my colleagues on the other side recognize it or not, are discriminated against as children in school, as adults in who are trying to get jobs, individuals who simply want access to public accommodations and to be beneficiaries of federally-funded programs,” Watson Coleman said in remarks on the House floor Friday morning.

Congressional action is being taken after many years of advocates pushing for policy change of race-based hair discrimination at the national level. Multiple states have carried out their own versions of the CROWN Act, including Calif. (the first state to enact a ban), N.J. and N.Y.  On March 17, Mass. became the most recent state to pass a local ban on hair discrimination. 

“Hair discrimination is rooted in systemic racism, and its purpose is to preserve white spaces,” the NAACP says. “Policies that prohibit natural hairstyles, like afros, braids, bantu knots, and locs, have been used to justify the removal of Black children from classrooms, and Black adults from their employment.”

This bill will now continue to the Senate for deliberation. The democratic majority in the Senate may not be enough to pass the CROWN act legislation, although the Biden administration has stated it “strongly supports” the bill. 

Sources: NPR, NBC News

Kea-Guffin and Gough Halls to Transition to First-Year Housing Only: A look into Eastern’s housing changes for the 2022-2023 academic year.

In an email sent to students on Feb. 28, Student Development announced to the student body, for the first time, its plan to transition the Kea-Guffin (KG) and Gough residence halls into fully-first year student buildings for the 2022-2023 academic year. This means that any upperclassmen currently residing in KG or Gough will not have the option of renewing their room, and other upperclassmen cannot choose to live in these buildings. 

In the email, Student Development refers to these halls as first year “learning communities”. Residence Life will assign students to “custom groups” that will offer students specific programming to meet certain needs. In the past, first-year students have been integrated into residence halls with upperclassmen, with the exception of Eagle and Sparrowk halls, which have been reserved exclusively for second-year students and above. 

Many students have expressed strong feelings about this decision. On March 8, the Student Government Association (SGA) published a letter to leadership on Instagram, expressing their disagreement with the decision and disappointment that more student voices were not consulted in the process. “I personally believe the culture will change at Eastern; we have already seen a culture change with KG and the maturity level of the students who presently live here and I believe that the culture will continue to change in ways that I don’t think anybody was necessarily expecting,” said SGA Executive president, Xeyah Martin, when asked about the effects he thought all-freshman housing will have on the student body. 

Other students expressed concerns about the housing changes as well. Derek Hamer is a senior and a Resident Assistant (RA) in Kea, and is concerned about the current state of Kea becoming the norm in upcoming years. “There’s a lot of young people running around, and often their choices have no repercussions because there’s no older students setting a standard for how to behave,” said Hamer. Issues like stolen exit signs plagued the mostly first-year housing of KG this year, and residents and RAs alike ponder over what will happen to KG and Gough next year if this behavior continues. 

Junior RA Emily Beck also offered insightful feedback about the housing change. Beck expressed concerns about the well-being of the RAs who are assigned to all-freshmen halls. “My first concern is that I basically lived it this year; I felt so lonely as a junior,” said Beck. When Beck asked residence life if there were plans in place to support older RAs in freshmen halls next year, she was told there are not. Beck also commented that when she was a freshmen, she lived in a hall with other freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, and enjoyed it. If she had an issue she didn’t feel comfortable going to an RA with, she could ask one of the older girls for guidance. Beck is worried about the lack of interaction with upperclassmen freshmen will receive next year. 

Not all students gave entirely negative feedback about the new housing policies. Some students like the ideas behind the change; forming more community within residence halls and giving freshmen more resources to face first-year challenges. “I think if it’s done well, it could be a really good way to introduce freshmen to a form of college living. However, I’m not sure we have the resources to do it well,” one RA shared.

Regardless of student response, Student Development and Housing seem clear in their intention to fully transition KG and Gough into first-year “learning communities” by the 2023-2024 academic year. The effects of this decision on students, residence life staff, and facilities will have impacts, good or bad, on the Eastern University community for years to come.