Snow provides opportunities for work, play among students

From sledding and building snowmen to shoveling to looking out a window in the morning at a world that has been transformed into a white wonderland, snow can bring excitement and beauty, as well as extra work.

Another thought connected to snow in the mind of any student, from elementary school to college, is the cancellation of school or class. For Eastern students, however, the recent snow accumulation only amounted to the cancellation of evening classes for one day.

But students did not let this get them down. They made the best of the situation and braved the elements to sled, throw snowballs and play football. Students used the steep hill behind Kea-Guffin residence hall to sled, using anything that would get them down the hill, from plastic saucers to inflatable tubes to grill lids to trash bags.

“I thought my mattress would work [to sled with], and I tried to take it outside, but my R.A. wouldn’t let me,” said first-year Steve De Hart.

A few students, getting quite serious about sledding, built sledding paths and ramps on the hill to enable sled-riders to “get air,” as sophomore Jared Krupp put it.

The snow was not all fun and games, however. Although plows cleared the various Eastern parking lots, there was still snow directly around parked cars and on top of them. Students had to shovel out their cars to be able to use them. First-year Stephanie Moyer had to shovel 15 inches of snow from around her car, which she parks at the Valley Forge parking lot. “I was frustrated because it was so time-consuming, but I had to do it,” she said.

But shoveling can also have benefits. Instead of playing in the snow, sophomore Jay McClelland opted to go from house to house in the neighborhoods surrounding Eastern to shovel driveways.

“Three friends and I went shoveling and made over $500 between all of us,” McClelland said.

Other winter activities students can do to remain active in the winter months are ice-skating, ice hockey, skiing and snowboarding. There are many skating rinks in the Philadelphia area, most charging around $10 for admission and skate rental.

Skiers and snowboarders can look online to find a plethora of slopes close to Eastern. Costs vary according to the place, time and whether or not equipment needs to be rented.

Help!’ Beatlemania Now invades McInnis auditorium

The snowstorm of January 21 put a stop to many weekend plans for students who instead chose to sit in their rooms sipping hot chocolate. It did not, however, stop faithful fans from reaching the McInnis auditorium to see Beatles cover band Beatlemania Now perform on the night of the 22nd. Almost 190 people showed up.

“That’s a phenomenal turnout on a Sunday night when it’s snowy,” said Shannon Hartsock, director of student activities.

According to Dr. Stephen Gatlin, history professor responsible for inviting the band, there were more tickets bought than actual seats filled.

“Had [everyone] showed, it would have been a full house,” Gatlin said.

Attendance was obviously not the only phenomenon of the night. Students walked away from the concert impressed by how convincing the band was.

Senior Isaac Gillespie, a student of Gatlin’s Beatles Music in Dreams and History capstone course, was taken by the accurate portrayal of each band member.

“Fake George was the real musical edge, but fake Paul was the charmer,” Gillespie said.

Classmate Erin Bond, on the other hand, knew little about the Beatles prior to starting the class. Yet after watching in-class showings of original Ed Sullivan shows featuring the Beatles, even Bond was fascinated with the cover band.

“Their faces and everything were just perfect,” Bond said.

The video showings, Gatlin said, proved great timing, as it gave his students a good visual comparison between the original and cover band.

The concert, he said, also gave his capstone students “a feel for something as basic as what Paul McCartney’s bass sounded like, and a feel for how much sound you can get out of four instruments.”

Though the concert was a requirement for Gatlin’s class of 30, it attracted a large crowd that included non-Eastern students. Michael Price, who was visiting his first-year sister Amari, had seen another Beatles cover band and was able to make a comparison.

“[Beatlemania Now] was actually better,” he said. “They put themselves on the line by playing Yellow Submarine.”

Gatlin agreed, adding that unlike most cover bands, Beatlemania Now went beyond the early Beatles era by performing more complicated music from the Sergeant Pepper tour.

“That’s the kind of material everyone assumes is undoable,” Gatlin said.To add to the accuracy, the band went through multiple costume changes to depict the four major Beatles tours, played era-authentic instruments and hammed it up with humor in between songs.

How musical talent, vocal similarity and physical appearance of a Beatle can all land on one person is a mystery, even to the Beatlemania band members.

“You kind of fall into this line of work in a way because maybe there’s a natural ability there,” said John Perry, who played George Harrison. “I don’t know if it was planned by any of us.”

One by one, the band came together under Beatlemania Now, a company owned by Scot Arch, who plays John Lennon.

“This line-up works well,” said Richard Vacca, who plays the left-handed Paul McCartney. “It’s a good strong look-alike, sound-alike.”

Though the shows may appear flawless to the crowd, the members consider themselves eternal students of the original band.Drummer Eric Smith landed the part of Ringo Starr at the age of 20. “I didn’t even know what I was doing,” he said. “And that’s how it happens, really. You learn as you go.”

Though the band averages 100 shows a year to crowds much larger than what Eastern’s auditorium can hold, they are hopeful about returning. They really enjoyed the Eastern crowd, Gatlin said.

Hartsock agreed.

“Of course, everyone is always impressed with Eastern students,” she said.

Cheerleaders organize free clinic for local girls

“Go E U!” shouted 40 pink- shirted girls at the men’s basketball game against Neumann College, January 29.

Spectators may have wondered about the abundance of youngsters grouped together in the stands until half-time, when the cheerleading squad brought the girls out to hype up the crowd with a cheer and a dance.

This performance was part of the cheerleading program’s Kids’ Day. The event began at 11 a.m. with a clinic led by the cheerleaders, where the participants worked through the afternoon on chants, cheers, jumps, and a dance, perfecting their half-time show.

Although some of the girls came to the clinic with previous cheerleading and/or gymnastics experience, others were completely new to the sport. Their performance, however, was received by an enthusiastic crowd.

The Kids’ Day cheerleading community clinic was an outreach to share the team and coaches’ gifts and talents with Eastern’s neighboring community. Part of the event was to raise awareness of the university’s desire to include the neighboring community in its events.

Part of coach Nadelhoffer’s philosophy for the cheerleading program is her “desire to develop my athletes into strong Christian women that exhibit a personal relationship with Christ and a dedication to becoming like the woman of noble character that is depicted in Proverbs 31.”

As ambassadors of Christ, the team wanted the participants to benefit both physically and spiritually in their knowledge of cheerleading skills and the love that Christ has for each of them.

First-year Kristen Bulgrien and senior floor captain Jen Booz also gave their testimonies throughout the day.

While continuously “loving on” the little girls, the cheerleaders also wanted to make it clear that one can be a cheerleader and also be a Christian, living a life dedicated to Christ.

As the highlight of the year, the cheerleaders greatly look forward to hosting another Kids’ Day in the future.

YAY!

Glad to see you guys are up and running. I was getting worried there for a few days.

Good issue, though (of course) I’d love to see a hard copy. 🙂

Peace and love from across the ocean,Boston.

Grade inflation an increasing concern of faculty

American academia is traveling a controversial road: grade inflation has caused average GPAs in public and private undergraduate institutions nationwide to steadily increase since 1980. And Eastern is not immune to the trend, as recent research undertaken at the behest of the faculty development committee has shown.

“In 1990 there were 30 academic departments at Eastern University; only 8 of those 30 departments had a course average above 3.0,” psychology professor Wendy Steinberg wrote in her report to the committee. “In 2003-04 there were 38 academic departments at Eastern University; only 10 of those 38 departments did not have a course average above 3.0.”

Her report found that the education department has the highest average GPA at 3.63, while business administration had the biggest change in GPA with an increase from 2.32 in 1990 to 3.21 in 2003-04.

For the university as a whole, the average GPA jumped from 2.85 to 3.19. There is no doubt that grade inflation is occurring. The questions in debate are just why grades are higher and, if this is a problem, what to do about it.

“The problem with grade inflation is invalidity,” Steinberg said. “Are inflated grades accurately measuring what you are supposedly measuring?”

Grade inflation means students are getting higher grades, yet according to Steinberg, students today aren’t smarter than students 10 years ago; she would argue that on average, students today are more deficient in basic skills than students 10 or 20 years ago.

However, the change in grades may be due partly to forgivable factors. President David Black believes that current grading practices may not be in need of major change.

“We tend to think about a student’s performance long-term, rather than [just] 14 weeks,” Black said. “Teachers are able to look into the future and see the potential of students beyond the term.”

While not concerned with present grade inflation, Black still wants to see the conversation on grade inflation continue.

The faculty development committee focused this year’s faculty development workshops on grade inflation, partly in answer to student concerns. This was the arena for the presentation of Steinberg’s study. Professors Heewon Chang of the education department and Ed Kuhlman of the social work program also presented at the workshops, focusing on grading in their respective majors.

And the conversation will continue, for the faculty workshops brought new data and insights into the minds of full time faculty members, who gave positive responses to the presentations and showed interest in changing the current situation of grade inflation.

Racism play debuts at annual MLK Convocation

After the turmoil surrounding last year’s racial incident, this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation held added significance for the Eastern community.

Along with an address from President David Black and a viewing of part of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the new documentary theater production Within the Walls, Between the Lines was given its first full public audience. “Racism?” asked one of the play’s characters. “Here on campus? Huh-uh! We’re all Christians. We don’t hate anyone!”

The students involved with the play, under the direction of alumna Joanna Sweeny, interview Eastern students to get their perspectives on how racism affects their lives and that of the campus community.

Then they act out the interviews, in similar fashion to plays like The Laramie Project. This allows the actors to portray a wide variety of stories and attitudes.

“She had no proof it was because she was black,” another character said after describing an awkward social situation. “But you have to wonder.”

About the production, sophmore Stacy Meldazis said, “I thought it was real, I definitely thought people’s voices were heard.”

Combined with the play, King’s speech had a renewed impact on the students present, like sophomore Shovaughn Chism.

“Ever since [the speech], a lot of walls have been broken down in society, but there’s more work to be done,” Chism said.

Issues of race have received new attention among the campus community last spring after two white students, as a “prank,” posted a photo of a KKK cross burning on their black suitemates’ door and were subsequently expelled.

The play, which was shown previously to faculty members and again last night in the Gough Great Room, will continue to be revised and performed over the coming months.

“We really want this project to start a dialogue,” Sweeny said. “not be something people watch and think, ‘That’s nice.'”

“We want to make sure all of Eastern can see what Eastern thinks,” she said.

Cyber community Facebook connects all college students

Like to find out if that boy in literature class is single? Does that friend at the University of Illinois still like the movie Top Gun? How many people does the girl down the hall know at Eastern?

These urgent questions and many others can be answered thanks to the addictive online phenomenon, new to Eastern, called Facebook. Senior Dan Demers’ interest was sparked by friends at other colleges who discussed the site www.thefacebook.com.

Demers found that a college qualified to join Facebook if enough emails were sent to the Facebook board.

Apparently other students were also eager to access this album and informational resource, because after Demers sent in his email, he received a confirmation email from the makers of the site. He then sent the makers the number of students at Eastern, a list of departments, majors, minors, residences and the format of Eastern’s email system. Demers says he was interested in bringing Facebook to Eastern because “it puts you in contact with people you don’t normally talk to, and you can learn to recognize their faces.”

Eastern’s own Facebook website was set up over winter break as an addition to Eastern’s website and is only accessible to Eastern students, according to Demers.

Eastern’s membership to thefacebook.com is independent of the school’s administration and website, according to Demers.

As a result of this rapidly growing website, college students from across the nation can now constantly check not only away messages, but also entire profiles of personal information.

Facebook can help users to identify their classmates and those who share their major. And with hundreds of other colleges in the network, it can help users keep in touch with other students far away.

Sophomore Allison Stackhouse is a frequent user of the site.

“Not only can you talk to people from Eastern, but you can look for friends from other schools and also people from high school,” she said.

However, because this website is very accessible, users may want to be careful with the information they post.

“If you don’t want everyone to know you, then you should not be on this website,” Demers said.

Listing favorite books, movies and music is just one facet of the Facebook profiles. Users can also create or become members or groupies of clubs such as Education Majors, Eastern Film Society or the Really-Really-Ridiculously Good-Looking-People, according to the Facebook website. Real Eastern clubs and individuals can make their own Facebook groups. Friends from any school can leave messages on a personal message board and also browse a person’s interests, jobs and classes, according to Stackhouse.

It is important for students to know this is also a potential addiction.”People just become obsessed with how many friends they have, even if they aren’t really friends,” said first-year Lauren Baylis.

Still, the website is popular among students.

“It makes me happy,” Stackhouse said.

Upcoming activities present chances to aid the tsunami relief

Several upcoming events at and around campus will benefit the victims of the recent tsunami and earthquake.

The Feb. 9 Justin McRoberts concert will take donations.

There will be a spaghetti dinner at the First Baptist Church in Conshohocken on Feb. 12 from 4 to 7 p.m.

All proceeds from the faculty talent show March 19 will go toward tsunami relief.

Further opportunities to donate or lend a helping hand are posted on campus.

Hollywood filth: the dirt on sex, lust and American Pie

I did something over Christmas break that I had vowed never to do. I watched the movie American Pie. I do not think there is any other movie that made me feel so guilty after watching it, except maybe for Mulholland Drive.

It is already pretty clear where this editorial is going, but before I come off as trying to sound holier-than-thou, I would like to point out that one has only to read my “Best Movies of 2004” article in this very issue to realize that I have a fairly high tolerance for Hollywood’s evils. I have been pretty well desensitized to violence, and foul language hardly phases me anymore.

But one theatrical evil Hollywood loves that still bothers me is sexual content, especially nudity. I will excuse light sexual content or even some heavier stuff if it is needed for the plot or for characterization, though I would argue that nudity is pointless in probably 99 out of 100 movies that it is in. The director usually could have shot the scene in such a way that the camera would avoid showing anything and still keep any plot devices or artistic value the scene may have had.

I am sure some directors and movie critics would beg to differ, citing some higher purpose for including sex and nudity. But I honestly wonder if Paul Weitz, director of American Pie, would have that argument with me in the case of American Pie, because the only purpose I can think of for American Pie is to fulfill the lustful appetites of teenage males. The movie surely reached that goal, but that goal is hardly a noble one. Pornography serves the same purpose.

For those of you who are not familiar with American Pie, it is about four guys who make a pact with each other to lose their virginity before they graduate.

Before prom night, the guys’ last chance to lose their virginity, the viewer gets to witness one of the guys receiving and giving oral sex; another guy prematurely ejaculating twice, thus ruining his chance to have sex with the girl who had just stripped down to her panties in his room; three scenes of masturbation; a number of orgasms and more. There was also a scene where a guy drank some beer with semen in it, but that was just related to sex; it was not sexual in and of itself.

Our heroes learn a valuable lesson in the end, which I suppose is meant to serve as the movie’s moral: sex is not that important and being a virgin is not all that shameful. They figured that out right before all of them fulfilled the promise they had made at the beginning of the movie.That valuable lesson was obviously not the point of the movie and the scene could have been cut from the movie. Compared to the other scenes, it was not memorable.

The point of the movie was to make some immature teenagers laugh, to gross them out and maybe give them something to gawk at. American Pie served no significant purpose. It was basically pornography.

There are movies where heavy sexual content is important for furthering the plot or for characterization (Thirteen, to name one), but these movies are few and far between.

Students, and everyone else, need to set their own individual standards keeping in mind their own strengths and weaknesses and the guidelines the Bible has already set.

Movie watchers also need to consider not only what Hollywood is subjecting them to but why Hollywood is subjecting them to it. A good movie will have a good reason for portraying the questionable content.

Napoleon Dynamite explodes in popularity

For previous generations of college students, the name Napoleon stirred up images of a short, French emperor obsessed with world domination and putting his hand up his shirt.

Recently, however, the name is being associated with images of snow boots, big sleeves, one percent milk and “ligers” in correlation with the newest “it” film: Napoleon Dynamite.

“When I first saw it I thought to myself, ‘Is this seriously happening?'” said first-year Christy Emerson.

But Emerson’s early confusion eventually turned into love for the campy film. In fact, Emerson took her fervor for Napoleon and created a fan club on the chic new college website, thefacebook.com.

Within a week, the group, called Napoleon Dynamite Alliance, had over 60 members at Eastern.

“The movie’s so easy to quote, and all the lines are funny,” Emerson said. Furthermore, she explained the film’s nostalgic value to college students is due to its use of token ’80s and ’90s memorabilia (i.e. side ponytails and music by Jamiroquai).

Not everyone, however, holds Napoleon on such a high pedestal.

“The movie didn’t have a plot,” said sophomore Jackie Ranck. “It was really stupid, which is probably why it’s funny.”

Ranck believes Napoleon’s phenomenal success is grounded in fans’ ability to connect with the day-to-day vibe of the film.

“The movie shows a lot of brainless activity, and Napoleon doesn’t care about anything. People can relate with the characters and monotony,” Ranck said.

Napoleon Dynamite was directed by Jared Hess, who also wrote the film with his wife Jerusha. Napoleon was based on Jared Hess’s award-winning Peluca, a short film he made in film school.

Regardless of whether students have embraced Napoleon with open arms or given it a roundhouse kick to the face, the film’s success is undeniable. With the film’s official website boasting a 150,000 member fan club, Napoleon has become a staple in pop culture.

But whether or not Napoleon’s popularity will last is still debatable.”Napoleon’s a definite fad”, said sophomore Matt Gordon, “because people quote the movie all the time and will eventually tire of it. I don’t think it has stay-power, but I could be wrong.”

Only time will tell if Napoleon is nothing more than a fad or here to stay, always and forever.