Elon progresses in strategic plan for LGBTQIA community

by Dalton Cox

The lobby of Elon's Gender and LGBTQIA Center
The lobby of Elon’s Gender and LGBTQIA Center Photo by Dalton Cox

On May 10, 2015, Elon University’s LGBTQIA Task Force Implementation and Assessment Team released its first annual progress report in a 3-year strategic plan, aimed at bettering the experiences of Elon’s LGBTQIA students, staff, faculty and alumni.

Rodney Parks is Elon’s registrar and a member of the University’s LGBTQIA Task Force Implementation and Assessment Team.

“It does reaffirm to every student that we value this group of people on campus, and you have a lot of us who are really fighting hard to push for the rights of students, faculty and staff alike to make this a campus of equality,” Parks said. “I think we have a long ways to go but we’ve done a lot of work in a very short period of time.”

Some of the highlight achievements include Elon’s the implementation of LGBTQIA housing with mixed genders, as well as the option for applicants to Elon to identify their sexual orientation or gender identity on their college application.

“One of the biggest things that we’re so proud of is asking the question on the admissions application, ‘do you affiliate with the LGBT community,’ ” Parks said. “I think with the incoming First-Year class, you’re looking at 6 percent that actually answered that question.”

Sara Machi is a current First Year at Elon, who identifies as an ally to the LBGTQIA community. Machi plans to live in LGBTQIA housing next year.

Letter by Barack Obama recognizing Elon's efforts in LGBTQIA inclusivity. Click to enlarge. Photo by Dalton Cox
Letter by Barack Obama recognizing Elon’s efforts in LGBTQIA inclusivity. Click to enlarge.
Photo by Dalton Cox

“You don’t want people to feel uncomfortable in their home on campus,” Machi said. “This offers a way for people to live with people that they feel the most comfortable living with.”

Over the past academic year, Elon’s Campus Pride Index ranking has risen above over 250 colleges and universities.

Kirstin Ringelberg is a professor of art history at Elon. She worries that Elon’s efforts to recruit more LGBTQIA students may create initial disappointments.

“There’s a difference between what we want to achieve and whether or not we’re achieving it,” Ringelberg said. “We are also creating a situation of disappointment. You’re experience is going to be different than the type of campus that we’re advertising, and that’s not unique to Elon. Lots of university admissions offices often advertise a campus that is more diverse than what they actually have.”

Kimberly Fath is an assessment specialist at Elon and a member of the LGBTQIA Task Force Implementation and Assessment Team. Fath spoke about some of the next steps in the initiative. As Parks mentioned, there is still a long way to go.

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Elon’s security upgraded in wake of racial incidents

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Multimedia reporting by Dalton Cox

On May 6, Elon University’s Department of Campus Safety and Police announced its efforts, in partnership with Elon’s Industrial and Campus Technologies, to deploy 64 new security cameras throughout Elon’s campus in an ongoing security upgrade.

Elon currently hosts about 440 security cameras on campus, which have been successfully used in the past to solve crimes. The current upgrade will include the instillation of 50 additional cameras, 14 license plate-reading cameras and new storage servers.

“These cameras will be placed in strategic locations, where security of people and property will be enhance,” said Dennis Franks, director of Campus Safety and Police. “Upon the completion of this project we will have 500 cameras to assist our efforts in achieving our mission of striving to maintain a safe campus environment to work, live, and learn.”

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Several Elon students expressed approval of the new camera instillation, though some were skeptical of the necessity of the upgrade.

“I don’t’ think it’s necessary, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea,” said Carrie Spicher, Class of 2016. “It’s the atmosphere of the bubble. We don’t have that many people around us. So I feel safe.”

Elon senior Nicole Costa approves of the upgrade.

“For the most part I do feel really safe,” Costa said. “I do, however, think the new security cameras are necessary, because of the recent events that have happened over this past year with people reporting slurs yelled on the street. I think it will be beneficial.”

The latest of such an incidents occurred on April 22 when a female African-American student reported that a racial slur was directed at her from passing car on Elon’s North O’Kelly Avenue.

“Using the new video cameras, we were able to identify the vehicle involved in the incident within 48 hours, and subsequently determined that the occupants of the car were Elon students,” said Smith Jackson, Elon’s dean of students. “One of the students is taking responsibility for using the slur, is remorseful, and is being held accountable to the office of student conduct.”

Spicher spoke about Elon’s campus climate and the recent incidents of racial slurs.

“Responsibility requires that we hold ourselves and each other accountable for our actions,” Jackson said.

Concealed weapons on college campuses stirs debate both at Elon and across the nation

by Dalton Cox

photo by Dalton Cox
photo by Dalton Cox

In April 2015, North Carolina legislature removed language from a bill that would allow gun owners with concealed weapons permits to bring a gun onto the property of private schools. In 2013, at least 19 states introduced laws that made allowances for concealed weapons on campuses, and in 2014, at least 14 states introduced similar legislation.

In March 2015, the Texas state Senate passed legislation that would allow concealed weapons to be carried legally on college campuses. The bill, however, must still be approved by the state House.

“Students have expressed concerns to me about their ability to protect themselves,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Brian Birdwell, reported The Associated Press. “It’s time we don’t imperil their safety.”

Several students at Elon University disagree with Birdwell’s logic.

“I would not feel safe about it if a bill of this nature was passed in North Carolina,” said Erin Valentine, Class of 2015. “I wouldn’t feel very safe if students around me could carry concealed weapons. If you’re going to carry a weapon, I should know about it because it’s my right to know.”

Julia Elleman, an Elon First Year, agrees.

“Even though they would have a permit, I don’t’ think anyone should have that control,” Elleman said. “You never know what could happen, especially on a college campus.”

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Arcaro

Thomas Arcaro is a professor of sociology at Elon University.

“This has nothing to do with anybody’s rights,” Arcaro said. “It has everything to do with selling a particular view of the world, selling more guns and ammunition and using the massive lobby influence of the NRA to move in that direction. These types of laws would have an effect on the culture in moving it further along the path of really separating a true democracy from one that is dominated by powerful lobby influence groups like the NRA.”

Are Elon students wealthier than those at other schools?

by Dalton Cox

Elon University is sometimes stereotyped by its students as an educational haven for affluent academics. However, despite the well-manicured lawns, adorned in daffodils, and the well-manicured scholars, adorned in Lilly Pulitzer, Elon does not attract a particularly wealthier group of students than similar schools.

According to Elon Director of Financial Planning Patrick Murphy, approximately one-third of Elon’s students receive need-based aid.

“We see a significant number of students, about 10 percent, that you would call extremely high need, because they are eligible for the Pell Grant,” Murphy said. “That’s not as much as you would find in a state school, but I think that’s a pretty good amount for a school like Elon.”

Murphy also explained that approximately half of Elon students must pay off student loans after graduation.

Moore
Moore

Jamisen “Kat” Moore is an Elon First Year, who was selected to receive one of Elon’s Watson and Odyssey scholarships, which consider applicants on both merit-based and need-based criteria.

“I’m not as privileged as some of the kids here,” Moore said. “Most of my friends at Elon aren’t particularly privileged.”

Moore, however, remarked on what she perceived to me most people’s first impression of Elon.

“I’d probably think that most Elon people were upper-middle class, if I were on a tour,” Moore said.

Moore reflected on falsehood behind this common perception.

Stephanie Burke, Class of 2015, attends Elon without the assistance of finical aid. Burke observed that the stereotype often comes from the initial perceptions of Elon’s gilded student body.

“The rich kid stereotype is common because of the brand names on everything that people wear, or where they travel to, or based on where they’re from,” Burke said. “Also, I think that when people take unpaid internships in expensive cities and abroad, that’s pretty telling too.”

During her four years on campus, Burke came to realize the complexities behind this “rich kid” façade.

“I think that is a gross over estimation to call the majority of Elon kids wealthy or financially privileged,” Burke said. “There are more people than we realize that have student loans or are employed in some capacity, who depend on the paychecks they make.”

This article was written entirely by Dalton Cox. It is a portion of the collaborative article Behind the stereotype: Labels on Elon’s campus.

Elon University goes global to celebrate Elon Day 2015

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Elon to celebrate Elon Day 2015, photo by Dalton Cox

by Dalton Cox

Around the world on March 10, a select group of individuals will be drinking free coffee, but hopefully they will still be pulling out their checkbooks.

This date marks Elon University’s second annual Elon Day, a widespread fundraising campaign that accompanies the observation of Elon’s founder’s day. In 2014, Elon Day replaced Elon’s traditional founder’s day celebration with Elon Day to encourage more alumni involvement. The date of Elon Day varies each year, but is usually scheduled on a Tuesday in early March.

The most significant event of Elon Day 2015 is the observance of College Coffee. The event is a weekly tradition at Elon, which usually incorporates a guest speaker with the incentive of a free jolt of caffeine. However, the College Coffee event of March 10 will be live-streamed on Youtube beginning at 10:00 a.m.

Elon’s Office of Alumni Engagement and the Annual Giving Staff have also worked with Alumni across the nation and across the globe to host 17 other college coffee events, including one in London.

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Anderson

“The big goal for Elon Day is participation,” said Dan Anderson, vice president of university communications. “The idea is not so much the dollars raised, but it’s how we get more alumni to make a gift to the university. Lots of college rankings rely on the percentage of alumni who make gifts to the university, so it’s really important for everybody to make a gift no matter what size.”

Other Elon day events are primarily aimed at current Elon students and a full schedule of events may be found on the Elon Day webpage.

Elon Day extensively incorporates social media in to its fundraising efforts through the use of #ElonDay

Video by Dalton Cox

‘Tomboy’ shown in Elon’s Global Neighborhood Film Series

by Reporting Staff

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The 2011 French film “Tomboy” will be shown at 7 p.m. today in Elon University’s Global Commons. The showing will include a discussion led by Elon human service studies professor Aleks Babic.

The film is being shown as part of Elon’s Global Neighborhood Film Series. Elon’s Global Neighborhood opened as a student residential complex in 2013, aimed at promoting global education and living-learning communities. The series’ films selected for the current academic year are focused on examining gender and sexuality across cultures.

Directed by Céline Sciamma, “Tomboy” tells the story of Lauren, a 10-year-old French girl with short hair and stereotypically boyish interests. When the child’s family relocates to a new neighborhood, Lauren is mistaken as simply being one of the boys, and assumes the identity of “Mikael” among her new friends. In a non-superficial manner, the film explores childhood relationships and gender confusion

Elon political science professor Safia Swimelar chose the film as part of the series.

“I selected Tomboy because it is a superbly written and shot film that captures the complexities and nuances of a childhood, that does not fit prescribed gender norms,” Swimelar said. “There are not many films that look at gender in childhood, and especially not ones that are so well done and not overly exaggerated or clichéd.”

‘The Vagina Monologues’ Make Their Traditional V-Day Visit

by Dalton Cox

Allison Pichowicz (right) performs in
Allison Pichowicz (right) performs in “The Vagina Monologues,” photo by Dalton Cox

For over a decade, Feb. 14 has marked Elon University’s observance of V-Day. On campus, however, this inconspicuous V is more than just the initial of a saint. It stands for vagina, and brings with it Elon’s annual performance of “The Vagina Monologues.” The two 2015 performances, sponsored by Elon’s Feminists, were held back-to-back on Saturday evening in Whitley Auditorium

“The Vagina Monologues” is a performance piece by playwright Eve Ensler, based an extensive series of interviews that Ensler conducted with women regarding their relationships, experiences with sexual violence, and exclusively female anatomy. These talks became the basis for Ensler’s collection of monologues, a feminist compilation that wavers among humor, discovery, tragedy and redemption. To remain relevant, Ensler frequently publishes revisions of the play.

In 1998 Ensler co-launched the V-Day campaign, which raises money for groups aimed at ending violence against women. It has since become a multinational tradition for colleges and universities to perform the monologues as a V-Day fundraiser. The proceeds from Elon’s latest production of “The Vagina Monologues” were donated to Alamance County’s CrossRoads Sexual Response and Resource Center.

The 2015 performance was co-directed by Rebecca Nipper, Class of 2015, and Ciara Corcoran, Class of 2017. According to Ciara, the show remains fresh to the Elon community because it is directed and performed by a new group of women each year, and utilizes the most recent revisions made by Ensler.

“It’s a topic women have been told not to talk about,” Corcoran said. “But this is a show literally about vaginas, so you have to sit there and listen to a show about this part of anatomy that is so important to women. I don’t want to say it defines them, but it is an important part of who they are.”

Elon first year Katie Shannon performed in “The Vagina Monologues” as one of a group of transgendered women.

“They make some points in this series of monologues that I had never thought about before,” Shannon said. “Like tampons. Tampons are really awful things . . . When I was learning about these women and their stories, maybe about something really embarrassing that might’ve happened to them, I thought, oh, I can relate to that – even something as simple as just ranting about tampons. And, I needed that.”

One of the most tragic of the monologues relates the experiences of a woman who was held captive in a prison camp during the Bosnian War. As a war tactic, many women imprisoned in these camps were repeatedly raped or sexually abused. Most recently, the role of this woman was portrayed by Elon first year Meredith Piatt. Piatt explained that although the show is a feminist piece, it remains relevant to the lives of everyone, regardless of gender.

“People talk about penises all the time,” Piatt said. “It’s not like that for women. I don’t think it’s just important for women but I also think it’s important for men to come see the show, so they can relate with these girls. I find girls I relate to in these monologues all the time . . . It was really difficult for me to put myself in my character’s place, but once I did, I really connected with her.”

As the United States has recently acknowledged an epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses, students finding such an ability to empathize with the opposite sex may be more important than ever.