The Ring-tum Phi The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University Thu, 21 Nov 2019 05:21:01 -0500 en-US hourly 1 Use professional development to thrive in every capacity Thu, 21 Nov 2019 05:21:01 +0000 I’d like to begin this article by stating that I am a young African-American woman from middle-of-nowhere Florida, so I tend to appraise my ability to find a successful, well-paying and prestigious job after college as being severely inhibited compared to my wealthy white peers.

This pessimism has come about by the very real effects of differential access to resources and lack of connections to people in the professional world—both of which are direct consequences of my low socioeconomic class. Unfortunately, I have had to come to terms with the fact that I am at a disadvantage in most job markets compared to my more affluent peers. This is in part because I cannot afford many of the resources required to optimize my competency and ability to progress within different fields, such as the expense of books needed to study for the LSAT or MCAT, as well as the tests themselves. I also have had to accept that many of my more affluent peers simply know more people within the various fields they have considered pursuing, resulting in them having more opportunities for networking, internships, job shadowing and career help. Needless to say, the racial and socioeconomic disparities between myself and my peers have been much cause for concern and stress for the success of my future.

Quite unexpectedly, at Washington and Lee, this anxiety is beginning to dissipate. On Nov 12, I had the privilege of attending Washington and Lee’s annual Networking Reception and Etiquette Dinner Workshop. I discovered the opportunity via Campus Notices and immediately latched on, excited by the prospect of possibly learning more about the professional world that I oftentimes feel so removed from. I am so thankful that I RSVP’d yes.

The night began with a bunch of unfamiliar student faces huddled together outside Evans Dining Hall. There was some nervous chatter about the agenda for the night and what we all hoped would come of the workshop. Many desired to learn about how to maximize their networking skills and improve their interactions with professionals, while some expressed concern about not knowing how to eat in professional settings.

Andrea Hilton, the university’s associate director for career planning and professional development, directed everyone to walk into Evans Hall, at which point many important Lexington and Washington and Lee community members seemingly materialized out of nowhere. Ms. Hilton allowed us to stand in line for only five minutes before she waltzed to the front of the room and promptly gave us all our first tip: never stand quietly in a long line at a networking reception—instead, use the wait time to your advantage and strike up conversations with surrounding professionals.

As quickly as the line had formed, it disappeared. All of the students took her words to heart and left the line to begin officially meeting the very important people that were around us: the mayor of Lexington, professors, executive directors and the president of the local Cornerstone Bank.

And with that, the Networking Reception and Etiquette Workshop had officially begun. It was very inspiring to interact with all of the different professionals and to hear about their passions, how they ended up in their career and what important pieces of advice they thought we should remember when pursuing different majors and careers.

Throughout the networking, Ms. Hilton consistently interrupted to offer some additional tips about how we should interact at such events. For example, she told us about the importance of using our cup and plate to our advantage when trying to meet people. We should always have our cup filled only halfway and our plate mostly empty so that it will be easier for us to finish our drink and food and therefore excuse ourselves from conversations as needed. She also told us that it was a good idea to spend about five minutes with each professional so that we would be able to meet everyone and cast our nets as far as possible.

By the end of the reception, I felt like a networking pro—well, almost a pro. Halfway through the workshop, everyone was seated so that we could begin with the dinner portion of the evening. At this point, Tamara Futrell, the dean for diversity, inclusion and student engagement, took over the reins and began introducing us to the importance of utilizing proper etiquette when engaging in plated meal meetings with professionals.

Personally, I had thought the whole table manners thing was overrated and that no one would truly pay attention to what I do when I eat dinner with them. However, Dean Futrell recounted an experience in which her sorority was interviewing potential new members and one of the girls had berated a waiter over an accident that hadn’t even affected her. Dean Futrell had immediately dismissed her after that outrageous display.

Some people can forget the importance of being decent human beings to everyone regardless of occupation and class, and this tends to pop up a lot in the way these people interact with workers in the restaurant industry. After establishing why manners are important, Dean Futrell gave a helpful and comprehensible walkthrough of eating in fancy settings. For example, she explained that when eating, one should begin by using the utensils on the outside of the plate or bowl, and then moving inward.

All in all, the reception and workshop felt very informative and useful. Leaving Evans, I felt myself reflecting over the night and already planning how I would reach out to some of the people I had met to continue my conversations with them and take them up on their eagerly given offers of help. It was truly invigorating to have been able to take hold of the reigns and begin cultivating my professional career by working on the skills I will need to progress and find different opportunities.

Because of the meeting, I even felt encouraged enough to go to the Career and Professional Development Office on campus and take more steps toward preparing myself for life after college by discussing with the advisors how I should go about building my resume, what I can do to optimize my breaks and how to find potential internships and events related to my career.

Taking advantage of the career help Washington and Lee has to offer in the form of the Networking Reception and Etiquette Workshop and the Career advisors has only solidified my sense of purpose, and the initiative I took has definitely improved my outlook on my future. I feel like I can do anything with Washington and Lee in my pocket; I encourage all students to make sure they also take Washington and Lee for all its worth, especially in regards to career and professional development opportunities.

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New group recognizing Native Americans on campus organizes month-long celebration for the first time Thu, 21 Nov 2019 04:11:21 +0000 A newly-formed Native American Cohort planned events throughout November for Washington and Lee’s first month-long celebration of Native American Heritage Month.

Deborah Miranda, who is the Thomas Broadus Professor of English and a descendent of the Esselen and Chumash tribes, said she didn’t know there were other professors on campus with indigenous heritage. 

Special Events Coordinator Kelly Fujiwara, of Miwok descent, and Executive Assistant to the Provost Jessica Wager, of Muskogee descent, joined Miranda in founding the cohort. 

This discovery led to the strength in numbers that Miranda had been looking for.

“They said they wanted to bring more indigenous events to campus,” she said. “And I said ‘good luck, I’ve been trying for 17 years.’”

Other members include Director of Institutional History Lynn Rainville, Assistant Director of the Lenfest Center Susan Wagner, Winfrey Term Professor of Economics Joseph Guse, Associate Director of the Shepherd Program Fran Elrod and Professor of Anthropology Harvey Markowitz. 

Miranda said some inspiration to form to cohort came from Joy Harjo, a member of the Muskogee Nation, who spoke on campus last February.

She said the cohort initially planned to host one event per week for Native American Heritage Month but ended up with many more. 

Events included a lecture by Victoria Ferguson, creator of Natural Bridge State Park’s Monacan Indian Living History Exhibit, as well as film screenings, food tastings and poetry readings. 

Alumna Jess Hopper, ‘08, presented and discussed her ABC documentary “Twice Disappeared” on Thursday, Nov. 7 about the lack of public attention surrounding missing and murdered indigenous women.

The title came from the saying that when a native American woman goes missing, she disappears twice — once in life and once in the news.

The documentary followed the story of Ashley Loring Heavy Runner, a 20-year-old woman who went missing from the Blackfeet Nation in Montana in 2017. Her family has been spearheading the search for her because of a delayed response from law enforcement, the documentary said. 

According to the documentary, around 6,000 indigeounous women went missing in 2016, but less than 200 were logged in the missing persons database. 

“If you’re a human and you have a heart, you can’t look away because the numbers are really staggering,” Hopper said. 

Miranda said reporting on these stories is difficult because of obstacles like prosecuting and pressing charges on an Indian reservation. 

“This kind of journalism is extremely important,” she said at the film screening. “It bypasses all of those obstacles and goes straight to the people.”

Hopper and her co-producer Evan Simon visited the Blackfeet Nation and the Loring family several times in the production of the documentary. 

“The ultimate priority was earning the trust of a family to tell their story,” she said. “The goal is to bring humanity to this.”

Loring is still missing and her family is still searching for her two years later. 

A second documentary was screened in Stackhouse on Monday, Nov. 11. “Warrior Women,” which follows the life of Lakota activist Madonna Thunder Hawk and her family, tells the story of indigenous mothers and daughters during the American Indian Movement of the 1970s. 

“There’s nothing in it for me except the commitment I made long ago to fight for our people,” Thunder Hawk said in the documentary.

The documentary is part of a larger project called the Warrior Women Project (WWP) which aims to create a platform for indigenious people to share their stories and inspire future generations. 

Miranda had the same goal during her talk about Two-Spirit literature on Wednesday, Nov. 13. 

She discussed the work of Mohawk writer Beth Brant, specifically her writing about the Native American trickster figure, Coyote.

Coyote is often associated with creation stories, Miranda said, and because of this is closely intertwined with sexuality. 

She explained the term and concept two-spirit, and responsibilities of two-spirit people in Native American tradition. 

“[The term was] chosen as a way to emphasize the spiritual aspect of what is called same-sex attraction,” Miranda said. “A two-spirit person lives with the energies of two genders, or of life and death.” 

Miranda said two-spirit people often cared for the dead in their communities, among many other difficult tasks. 

She said this term has become international, appearing in aboriginal communities in Australia, and that because it is a new concept, it is still being fleshed out. 

“Two-spirit people are a kind of coyote,” she said. “Like the coyote, we blur lines.”

Miranda said that the Spaniards often called two-spirit people joya, the Spanish word for jewel, because they were considered very valuable. ‘Aqi is an older, Chumash word for two-spirit, she said.  

Miranda was the first professor to bring her same-sex partner to a university event and the only woman of color to hold an endowed position on campus in any department. 

She ended the talk with a comment about Thanksgiving. 

“As you’re thinking about that delicious dinner you’re going to have,” she said, “also think about whose land you’re on.”

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Department of Romance Languages hosts packed poetry night with Laura Cesarsco Eglin Thu, 21 Nov 2019 04:07:39 +0000 Uruguayan poet Laura Cesarsco Eglin read her poetry as the featured speaker at the annual Department of Romance Languages poetry night on Thursday, November 7 in Leyburn Library.

Eglin has written four collections of poetry and two chapter books, and her work has appeared in literary journals worldwide. Additionally, she is a co-founder and publisher of Veliz books, an independent literary press that publishes work in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

The event was complete with cookies and lemonade. The event took place in the Book Nook, which was packed with students eager to both recite and hear poetry. Most of the students in the crowd were from Spanish classes but there were students from the French, Porutguese and Italian programs as well.

Some high school students from the surrounding area also ready poetry and a few members of the Lexington community joined students, faculty and staff in Leyburn.

“Tonight through poetry, we are cohering into a unified community of disparate people, enjoying the interweaving of our lives through literary pleasures,” Seth Michelson, Poetry Night 2019 Organizer and assistant professor of Spanish, wrote in the program.

The night opened with Eglin reading a few poems in Spanish from her collection Reborn in Ink, followed by student presenters reading either their own original work or the work of other poets. The night continued in this fashion, alternating between Eglin reading her work and students reading theirs.

Gracen Wiggins, ‘23, was one of the first presenters of the night. She recited Pablo Neruda’s work entitled A Callarse.

“I [am] thankful for the opportunity to share the message that Pablo Naruda presented in the poem that I chose,” Wiggins said. When asked whether or not she would participate in a future reading, she responded with a resounding “definitely.”

Allie Stankewich, ‘23, was another student presenter. She presented the poem No me llames extranjero, written by Rafael Amor.

“I really enjoyed the poetry night,” Stankewich said. “I think it was a really neat experience to hear so many different perspectives in different languages that brought to life a lot of verbal art and themes that are really important but aren’t talked about a lot.”

Sharon Mendieta Ramirez, ‘23, was highly impressed by the event, and was very glad to have both attended and presented a poem.

“I thought it was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had so far during my time at W&L,” Ramirez said. “It was just so cool being able to see all the different languages and everyone’s reciting poems and the guest speaker, her poetry was very inspiring. I just loved it.”

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A look at the end of the Lenfest fall season Thu, 21 Nov 2019 04:06:28 +0000 As the season winds down, Lenfest hosts the annual Dancers Create show and prepares for a visit from D.C. group The Capitol Steps.

Dancers Create

Washington and Lee students performed original choreography on the Lenfest stage at the annual Dancers Create show on Nov. 14, 15 and 16. The award-winning Washington and Lee Repertory Dance Company displayed their talents at the Lenfest Center for the Arts.

The performance featured original work choreographed, designed and performed by students. Jenefer Davies, associate professor of dance and theater, provided artistic direction for the show.

Two guests artists visited campus during the semester, taught master classes and worked with students to choreograph dances for the show. Mauri Connors, multidisciplinary performance artist and choreographer, created a new piece inspired by the movement of tiny fish in ponds, named “Encounter for Routine Examination with a Finding of a Lack of Ambulation.” Gabby Tull, a teacher and professional choreographer, explores pain and anguish through her quartet, “Detached.”

Davies said she was thrilled by the opportunity to combine professional and student work.

“Bringing together professional guest artists, faculty, and current students creates a beautiful synergy,” Davies said. “A palpable force of teaching and learning is created where people unite in a shared experience. Together they take risks, learn, and grow as they collaborate in the artistic process.”

Students worked with Shawn Paul Evans, associate professor of theater and lighting director for W&L Dancers Create, to design the lighting for six of the dances in the show. Students have spent the semester in a course about lighting design and this show serves as a project to showcase their skills. Davies said she believes this provides an important, tangible experience to conclude their course.

“Through actual hands-on experience, the designers used what they are learning about the science and craft of lighting to help provide visual context to the dance,” Davies said.

There are a wide range of dance styles included in the show. Carissa Margraf, ‘21, and Runa King, ‘21, choreographed a collaborative, modern take on “The Four Seasons,” with kaleidoscopic stage patterns and expressive movement in “Summer and Fall,” which they will continue to work on next semester to encompass all four seasons.

Mary Pace Lewis, ’21, pays homage to Bob Fossie’s choreography style with her sleek, long, crisp lines and articulated movement in “Mercurial.”

Ashley Shugart, ’22, uses “Exhale” to show a fast paced, contemporary work with constant transitions, powerful movement and intricate group formations.

Irina Kovena, ’22, and David Galvez, ’22, explored salsa and tango styles to create “Soltera,” a duet rooted in tradition but updated with modern twists and hip-hop technique.

With a variety of works choreographed by students across campus, W&L Dancers Create showcases the diversity and talent found in the Department of Theater, Dance and Film studies, which made the show possible.

The Capitol Steps

The Capitol Steps will visit campus for a performance on Nov. 20. Photo courtesy of the Lenfest Center for the Arts.

Next week, Lenfest is setting the stage to prepare campus for the upcoming Mock Convention.

Tickets to see political satire performance group The Capitol Steps at Lenfest on Nov. 20 sold out rapidly.

The Capitol Steps combines politics, comedy and music to comment on the current political climate. With their slogan “We Put the MOCK in Democracy,” they satirize both sides of the political spectrum and bipartisanship itself with skits, stand-up comedy and parodies of popular songs.

Since their formation in 1981, The Steps has appeared on The Today Show, CBS Evening News and National Public Radio. They have also performed for the last five presidents and have regular shows in Washington D.C. The name for the group came from a rumored scandal involving Congressman John Jenrette and his then-wife Rita, who allegedly had sex on the steps of the Capitol Building during a late-night break in a session of Congress.

Their performance on campus this week will include their 2019 album entitled “The Lyin’ Kings.” According to their website, the album allows listeners to “hear from Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Brett Kavanaugh, Elizabeth Warren and more, as they make comedy great again.” It includes tracks like “The Sound of Sanders,” “It’s Trump’s Party (and He’ll Lie if He Wants To)” and “Trollin’ on the Twitter” to the tune of “Proud Mary.”

Responses to the group from politicians have been largely positive, despite their parodical nature.

“The Capitol Steps make it easier to leave public life,” said former president George H.W. Bush.

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Jazz ensemble features students, professional talent Thu, 21 Nov 2019 04:03:06 +0000 When Terry Vosbein started teaching in Washington and Lee’s music department 24 years ago, he took on a project: reviving the long-defunct jazz program.

“Our students were going to VMI and playing in their jazz band,” Vosbein said. “I wasn’t hired to do jazz at all… but we had some good jazz musicians who were going to VMI because we didn’t have one here.”

The band has been playing ever since, although never in the traditional big band format. The ensemble has always included unique instrumentation, sometimes featuring two pianists, and even a cello. Vosbein, however, views this as a strength.

Vosbein motioned to cabinets along a wall in his office in Wilson Hall.

“We’re surrounded by these file cabinets full of arrangements for big bands,” he said. “I have to write or rewrite every note of every tune we play. The upside is that I can really focus on and feature specific players.”

Those players, like alto saxophonist Truman Chancy, ’22, appreciate the unique qualities of the ensemble.

“It allows us to feature different students,” Chancy said. “That really allows those musicians to shine through.”

The ensemble is currently preparing for their fall concert, which also features The Vosbein Magee Big Band, a professional big band in residence at Washington and Lee. Vosbein, who serves as the band’s music director, welcomes the opportunity for the two bands to intersect. Although the two bands don’t play a set together, Vosbein paved a way for them to share the stage.

“The tradition is that the seniors from the student band get to solo with the professional band,” Vosbein said.

Leslie Sparling, ‘22, who plays trumpet in the ensemble, views playing back to back with a professional band as an educational opportunity.

“Last year I was the only trumpet [in the jazz ensemble],” Sparling said. “It’s really cool that we get to watch the Vosbein Magee Big Band because they have these awesome trumpet players.”

Vosbein also sees the value of bringing in a professional band to a town that isn’t necessarily known for its jazz scene.

“The students love it because they get to hear a band of that level,” he said. “They get to interact with and solo with that band, as well as being on the same stage as them.”

The University Jazz Ensemble and The Vosbein Magee Big Band are playing their fall concert on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. in the Lenfest Center’s Wilson Concert Hall. Tickets are not required.

Vosbein, Chancy and Sparling encouraged students to attend.

“It’s really an exciting environment,” Sparling said. “It’s not as formal as some other concerts might be, so you should come prepared to have fun: tapping your feet, clapping, and maybe a little dancing.”

Vosbein cites the comparative value of the concert, which is free to attend.

“We bring in, both externally and home-grown, a lot of talented people here, that, if you were living in New York City you’d pay 50 to 500 bucks a seat to see,” Vosbein said.

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New student group WLUnite forms to support people with disabilities Thu, 21 Nov 2019 03:59:42 +0000 A new student organization designed to support students with disabilities is forming.

Alexandra Miyamoto, ’23, held an interest meeting for what’s now known as WLUnite on Wednesday, Nov. 6. About 20 people attended the meeting, including Lauren Kozak, Title XI coordinator and director of disability services, and Tamara Futrell, the dean for diversity, inclusion and student engagement.

Miyamoto defined disability “in the broadest sense of the word,” spanning physical, mental, visible and invisible disabilities. She shared that her motivation to start the organization was personal.

“I have Crohn’s Disease, which is an autoimmune disease, and it falls under invisible disabilities. Coming here, I was really excited… to see if there was a community I could be a part of,” Miyamoto said. “I realized there wasn’t that space that I was kind of expecting. There are clubs for all other types of identifiers, but there wasn’t really one for disabilities.”

She decided to start an organization that would provide the support she hoped to see on campus. Initially, she turned to Futrell with the university’s Office of Inclusion and Engagement to help get her footing.

“Disability is definitely part of equity and inclusion and diversity – it’s just how different people are different,” Miyamoto said. “It’s another type of identity, and I think that… OIE wants to help people with those identities flourish within the community.”

At the interest meeting, Miyamoto outlined three main goals for the organization: to create a support network for people on campus with disabilities, to educate other students on campus about disabilities and to inform people about how to be better allies to people with disabilities.

Miyamoto hopes that the organization can work with both students and community members to build inclusivity for people who are disabled and dispel the stigma.

“Identifying as disabled, there’s a lot of stigma with it, more so than other identifiers,” she said. “I would like people to proudly say that they’re disabled and be able to generate more conversations and more community outreach.”

Many students at the meeting shared personal stories about experiences that made them want to get involved with the organization.

The Ring-tum Phi reached out to some of those students for further comment.

Clare Essex, ’21, said she started thinking more about higher education and its accessibility for students after her cousin, Charlie, who has Down syndrome, started looking at colleges.

“There are several colleges now that have full-blown programs for students with cognitive impairments,” Essex said. “[Washington and Lee] would never even be a school he would look at.”

Grace Stricklin, ’23, recognized the physical challenges that campus presents to people with disabilities.

“My brother has cerebral palsy, so I’ve grown up really close to physical disability,” Stricklin said. “One of the first things I noticed [on campus] was that you can’t get around here really well in a wheelchair.”

Both Essex and Stricklin said they hope to stay involved with the organization.

Futrell said she was excited that people attended the meeting and seemed eager to build a community of both students who are disabled and their allies.

“Because of concern about being stigmatized or the sentiment of being bothered, a lot of students have been a little hesitant to form an organization or to rally,” Futrell said. “I think this is wonderful because I think there is power in numbers.”

Futrell mentioned that she and Kozak have discussed how to help the campus see disabilities as an aspect of diversity. As the director of disability services, Kozak works with students who have disabilities to identify appropriate accommodations during their time on campus.

She spoke openly in the meeting about her hopes for more comprehensive reforms.

“Accommodations are the bare minimum. They’re not inclusive. They are reactive,” Kozak said. “I feel like the more accessible we are, there’s less need for accommodations because people just get to show up and it’s ready for them.”

The organization held a second meeting on Thursday, Nov. 14 and decided its official name: WLUnite. Miyamoto is working on forming a leadership team and submitting the application to be recognized as a student organization.

Interested students can contact Alexandra Miyamoto at to learn more about WLUnite.

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Student groups partner to bring sexy back Thu, 21 Nov 2019 03:57:41 +0000 After a conspicuous absence in 2018, Sex Week returned with a bang this year.

The week was a collaborative effort of campus groups, including primary sponsor Sexual Health Awareness Group (SHAG), led by president Katie Evans, ‘22, the Student Affairs office, the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program and Amnesty International.

Left to right: SHAG members Mourad Berrached, ’20, Katie Evans, ’22, and Joey Dickinson, ’22. Photo by Virginia Laurie.

SHAG secretary Joey Dickinson, ‘22, explained the organization’s goal for sponsoring Sex Week.

“We want to promote a safer and more satisfying sexual culture on campus,” Dickinson said. “The ‘I Love Female Orgasm’ event was especially important because it shifted the focus to women’s pleasure in a place where the sexual culture often de-emphasizes the desires and overall pleasure and sexual health of women.”

Between Monday, Nov. 4 and Friday, Nov. 8, students experienced what the Spectator once referred to as “the Sex Week abomination.” Participants sent cookie grams to friends and significant others in the shape of a peach, an eggplant, a heart, a condom, a penis or a vulva and could pick up free condoms and dental dams in the Elrod Commons lobby.

SHAG introduced something new to the typical annual lineup: a literary magazine.

SHAG member Isabel Ryan, ‘22,  edited the “SHAG-a-zine,” which featured student poems and artwork and was distributed for free.

“Though the word traditionally implies a passionate act, we believe this world of sex also embodies a sense of intimacy, respect, dignity, communication between all people,” Ryan said. “The purpose of this zine is to celebrate the things in life that make us feel sexy, think sexy, and be sexy. It is also meant to open a dialogue about all things related to sex, sexual health, and relationships of all forms.”

Other events included an LGBTQ+-inclusive sex education workshop and a “Birds, Bees, and Everything in Between” Q&A panel led by Janet Boller of the Counseling Center, French and Africana Studies professor Mohamed Kamara, WGSS program head and history professor Sarah Horowitz and philosophy and WGSS professor Melinda Bell.

An exhibition of Nolan Zunk’s, ‘22, “Human Form” photo series was displayed on the main floor of Leyburn Library during the week.

Friday Night Underground themed its Friday night event “Sexy FUDG” to mark the end of Sex Week.

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New “Freedom Ride” trip introduced to Leading Edge pre-orientation experience Tue, 19 Nov 2019 23:47:22 +0000 Two deans, a professor and 10 first-year students traveled on a bus for a week through Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, touring historical sites significant to the civil rights movement before matriculating for their first semester at Washington and Lee.

The Freedom Ride trip is the newest addition to the Leading Edge program that sponsors pre-orientation trips for first-year students.

Dean for First-Year Experience Dean Rodocker said the trip is part of Washington and Lee University’s strategic plan, which included a commitment to renewed focus on diversity and inclusion in the community. Trip participants explored racial injustice and resistance during the Jim Crow Era.

The program was created by Dean Tamara Futrell, Dean Tammi Simpson and Africana Studies professor Michael Hill to introduce students to the social institutions that formed the Civil Rights Movement. The idea for the trip came from a spring term class taught by Professor Ted DeLaney, Hill said.

A group of 10 incoming first-year students traveled through Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia for the Freedom Ride pre-orientation trip. Photo courtesy of Tammy Futrell.

Hill said that he wanted to guide students through well-known and more obscure historical episodes of the movement. 

“Instead of offering the familiar litany of actions, I wanted them to see how celebrity activists like Martin Luther King Jr. fit into a continuum with figures like Barbara Johns and Monroe Morton,” Hill said. “I endeavored to cast the civil rights movement as a primer for 21st century community building.” 

The Freedom Ride bus ride took students through three main stops: Farmville, Va., Greensboro, N.C. and three cities in Georgia. At each location, students visited museums and historical sites of the movement, including The Moore’s Ford Lynching Site and The International Civil Rights Museum.

Naveed Javid, a first-year trip participant, said he enjoyed immersing himself in the sites and experiences that activists once faced. 

“I think it helped provide contextual evidence on the multitude of racial atrocities faced by African Americans during the Jim Crow era and even before,” he said. “It helped me understand the underlying factors behind much of the racism that could be associated with the school and ways in which to respectfully engage with it.”

Hill said the trip expands on the common images that students may associate with the civil rights movement.

“While civil rights activities are often associated with buses, schools, and lunch counters, a cursory glimpse at the movement shows that barbershops, churches, and private residences also occupied key positions,” Hill said. 

Hill added that Washington and Lee has a complex past and Freedom Ride helps introduce students on campus to its history.

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Recovery program to benefit from Virginia governor’s grant Tue, 19 Nov 2019 04:20:00 +0000 Washington and Lee University is one of several schools that will benefit from a grant from Governor Ralph Northam designed to develop recovery programs to fight substance abuse on college campuses. 

The $675,000 grant was given to Virginia Commonwealth University in late October. VCU already has a program called Rams in Recovery in place. The university will use its program to guide eight schools across Virginia in developing their own recovery communities, including: Longwood University, Radford University, University of Mary Washington, University of Richmond, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Union University, and Washington and Lee. 

“Young people who are often living away from home for the first time can be particularly vulnerable, and college campuses can be difficult places if you’re trying to avoid drinking or using substances,” Northam said in a press release. 

“Collegiate recovery programs provide critical resources to help students in recovery have a successful college experience and give them the tools they need to be healthy and thriving, well beyond graduation.”

Kirk Luder, a staff supervisor for Washington and Lee’s collegiate recovery program, the Washingtonian Society, said he was stunned but excited and grateful when he heard they received the grant. 

“This money gives us the flexibility to make enhancements we couldn’t manage otherwise,” Luder said.

Luder joined the University Counseling Center as a staff psychiatrist and full-time clinician in 2004 after serving as the university’s consulting psychiatrist for five years.

The grant was funded by federal State Opioid Response (SOR) efforts, a larger national program developed to fight the opioid epidemic and other substance abuse across the nation.

In Virginia, 1,500 people died last year of drug overdoses. Northam said addiction, and drug overdoses specifically, has become one of the state’s biggest challenges.

“Our college campuses and universities are no exception to this,” he said in a speech when presenting the grant. “This is a challenge that doesn’t discriminate.”

The Rams in Recovery program will serve as the model for other universities covered under the grant.

Rams in Recovery Program Coordinator Tom Bannard said the VCU collegiate recovery program started with just a couple of students. 

“We saw the impact almost immediately, as the university and individual donors invested more in the program,” Bannard said. “Students thrive once you start supporting them in recovery. Their success attracts other struggling students into the program and they motivate other people in recovery to come back to school.” 

At Washington and Lee, the Washingtonian Society started seven years ago as a small group of students who got together to talk about substance abuse. During the first three years, the group was small, with only four to eight students participating, and they met once a week.

In 2016, the Washingtonian House was created.

With the help of Sidney Evans, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, and Dave Leonard, dean of student life, the recovery residence was set up as formal gathering space for the Washingtonian Society and for students in recovery to live and grow together.

Since then, students involved in the group have committed time and energy to outreach and support, and the group has grown over the years.

Last year, the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program awarded the Washingtonian Society the “Best Student Organization” award. 

“Being part of Washingtonian has redirected my life to be one of healing and growth,” said Katie Evans, ‘22, the social event chair for the group. “It’s given me the support system I needed to grow and thrive on campus, and a healthier environment to be in when I’m having a hard time or want to be social but not drink or use.”

Over the next two years, each of the eight schools will receive support in the manner of site visits, daylong retreats and monthly collaboration calls to help develop the programs. This includes expanding outreach strategies, leadership training, and coordinating on-campus services.

Luder said he hopes to expand the program beyond a peer support group for alcohol or substance abuse to a thriving social hub on campus.

He also hopes to reach out to diverse students, especially students of color, international students, and LGBTQ+ students, who may already feel marginalized on campus — a problem that can be made worse if they choose not to drink or use. 

“My overall goal is to have it be just as easy, inexpensive, and fun for students in Washingtonian to have enjoyable social connections as students who choose to drink or use,” Luder said. “What I mean by this is that if you’re a drinking W&L student, all you have to do is find out which frat is hosting a party and show up to be able to have fun and hang out with your friends. I want it to be just as easy for this student group.”

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Students adapt to dump site closures across the county Tue, 19 Nov 2019 04:15:34 +0000 Students who live off campus in the county might have to change how they dispose of their trash as the county closes four unstaffed collection centers.

The unstaffed Buffalo Creek collection center on U.S. Route 11 closed Wednesday, and the Rural Valley Road and Bunker Hill Mill Road locations are set to close this week. The Timber Ridge Collection Center will close Dec. 3.

Rockbridge County, with nearly 600 square miles, does not offer curbside pick-up for trash service as the City of Lexington does. County residents have to dispose of their trash themselves. Off-campus students who live in the county said this is a big change. 

“Basically the removal of the unmanned trash dumps directly affects us financially,” Jim Barton, ‘20, said. “With their removal, we will be forced to rely on our landlord’s trash service, which costs $200 a month. This is an outrage.”

Some businesses and landlords will pick up trash for an added fee. A lot of students opt into this service.

“My landlord gathers our trash from an on-site location, and then disposes of the trash,” McKinley Hamilton, ‘20, said.

Klean Earth, a business in the area that picks up trash from people’s homes, said this could mean new business.

“We’re hoping [that] over time, people see how inconvenient it is and they come to us,” said Kathy Jennings in a phone interview. She said the business has around 200 customers in the Rockbridge area. 

The four locations closing now leaves residents with 17 unstaffed collection centers around the county which are open 24/7, according to the county website. Many are far away from Washington and Lee’s campus.

But the county now has seven staffed collection centers, including a new Fancy Hill center on Route 11 South, near Natural Bridge.

The collection centers that are staffed are now open every day but Tuesday, including Wednesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The county has wanted to close unstaffed dump sites for years because they are roadside eyesores and can attract wild animals, said County Administrator Spencer Suter. Another concern is that some residents dispose of items that are not permitted, such as tires, dead animals and furniture.  Some businesses use them, as well, which is not permitted. Suter said 12 citations for illegal dumping have been issued this year.

A previous attempt in March 2017 to close the unstaffed collection centers was abandoned after citizen backlash.

The new Fancy Hill recycling and trash collection center opened Wednesday for county residents but some are afraid the closings could lead to more trash on the side of the roads.

“People are lazy, and people will not take the extra time,” said county resident John Crutchfield as he was throwing away trash earlier this week at the Bunker Hill Mill Road Collection Center. “It’s not a huge deal for me, but I’m worried about dumping. Hopefully that doesn’t happen.”

The board and the solid waste and recycling manager hope that the additional hours on Tuesday will provide more access to residents and cut back on illegal dumping.

Editor’s note: A version of this story originally ran on the Rockbridge Report website. 

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