Monthly Archives: November 2012

Recent legalization of recreational marijuana: to light up or keep out?

Photo credit Mason Sklut.

Marijuana was recently legalized in Washington and Colorado. (Picture is of cigarette smoke, not marijuana smoke). Photo credit Mason Sklut.

By Stephanie Butzer

During the election on Nov. 6, 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington were able to vote for the legalization of recreational marijuana. Now, people 21 and over will be able to buy the drug at local stores in these states. While these states were the first to legalize the drug for recreational use, 17 other states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.

Since the election, thousands of follow-up questions have popped up. A CBS poll showed that exactly 47 percent of Americans support marijuana for recreational use. Ironically, 47 percent say they do not support the drug for recreational use. With the population split, many are asking for answers.

The Elon University community responded in different ways. Most are interested to see what will happen in the future and how authorities will regulate marijuana.

“There’s pros and cons, honestly,” Emily Bishop, junior, said. “Pros because it would get rid of the drug wars in Mexico. Cons because we don’t really know what kind of side effects there will be. I don’t know how they’re going to test that – people being under the influence.”

Robins Riggins, coordinator in the office of admissions, said she is still skeptical about its use. She said she is afraid it will be used for irresponsible activities and could lead to a larger and stronger drug use problem.

Michaelle Graybeal, the owner of the All That JAS store on North Williamson Avenue said she is afraid it will lead to drug addictions that will stir other problems for the nation.

Elon junior Tierney Guido had no comment on recreational use but said she believes medical marijuana can be a positive thing.

“I like that it can be used for medical purposes so maybe it will be easier for those people,” Tierney said.

Laran Gregory, senior, said he believes the legalization of marijuana will have positive outcomes. During his first year at Elon, he wrote a paper for an economics class on how marijuana would impact the economy if it was legalized for recreational use. Based on his research, he discovered the sales of marijuana would bring $14 billion into the nation’s economy if it was taxed the same way as tobacco and alcohol.

“I think it would help our economy and with North Carolina being a big tobacco distributor, I think it’d be easy to just cultivate the fields into growing the cannabis plant,” Gregory said.

Gregory said that even though the drug is legalized in Washington and Colorado, he does not believe every single person will start using it. He said he thinks people will stick to their morals and do what they think is right.


‘Elon Tonight’ prepares to launch new season

By Stephanie Butzer

Resilient. Shenanigans. Family.

Those are three words students from “Elon Tonight” used to describe their organization. The student-run sketch comedy show is written, directed, edited, produced and performed by Elon University students.

On Nov. 30, “Elon Tonight,” with the help of SUB, will present its fall showcase in LaRose Digital Theatre, which will highlight the best clips from “Elon Tonight” during the fall semester.

Although cast and crew members often stagger under the enormous weight of work throughout the semester, “Elon Tonight” is consistently promoted on social media outlets so the community and those beyond it can enjoy the students’ work.

“It is a lot of work, and I mean a lot of work, but at times, ‘Elon Tonight’ can be pure, unbridled joy,” said senior Scott Richardson, executive director of the show.

To create a comedy show, it is important for the people involved to be humorous and creative. A major part of the work is allowing their minds to wander and play, Richardson said. Their best scripts come to mind when they behave like children and think outside the box.

“We’re a comedy show,” Richardson said. “We have to have fun creating. It requires the proper mindset.”

“Elon Tonight” is going strong after it almost caved in two years ago. Photo submitted by Scott Richardson

Richardson said he is more than thrilled that the show has found a way to combine work and play. Even at 4 a.m. in the editing suites — a common occurrence for people involved with the show — the students still find ways to get the work done and have fun at the same time.

“We’re a community, we’re a family,” Richardson said. “One giant, sleep-deprived family with a weird sense of humor.”

For Richardson, there have been many times when he forgot he was doing work, because it felt like he was just hanging out with friends. It is an ease and comfort that has allowed the cast and crew to build strong friendships throughout each semester.

“’Elon Tonight’ is a group of people coming together and doing what they love,” said junior John Molloy, who acts in a number of sketches each episode. “The end product just so happens to be a TV show.“

Students do not receive academic credit or a stipend for their work. They take on all the projects and meet all the deadlines simply because they love the show, Richardson said.

But two years ago, the show was caving in on itself. Leadership was uncertain, and when the organization went through a transitional period because of creative differences, no content was produced. New members lost interest, and 35 active students became just 15.

Thanks to a small band of people, though, Elon Tonight regained its footing.

“Although it was a small group, they were a very dedicated bunch. And they’re what kept the show alive until the following year,” Richardson said. “We’re stronger, funnier and more unified than ever. Bring on the challenge. We can handle it.”

The interest level has also grown. In the spring of 2011, “Elon Tonight” had 12 to 15 interested members. As of fall 2012, it has 50 to 60 members. “Elon Tonight” continues to push forward into Season Four, Richardson said.

“We’ve done nothing but improve since the beginning,” he said. “And we’re still on the rise. I cannot wait for this episode to be released. It’s going to be something special.”

This season, the actors have tried improvising during their sketches and found that it produced some of the best work they have ever done. When difficulties come up, students roll with the punches.

“One time I had to make peasant costumes out of the cover of a beanbag I found on the side of the road,” said first-year Lindsey Lanquist, producer of the show. “Now that’s a shenanigan at its finest.”

Lanquist said she often finds herself in awe of other students at “Elon Tonight.”

“Sometimes it’s the actors improvising something hilariously creative on set, and other times it’s a director conveying his or her vision of a sketch, and I just think to myself, ‘Wow, I could never do that,’” she said.

Molloy said he looked back at sketches from the show’s first season and couldn’t help but notice how much the quality has improved.

“That’s what you get when you have a team of people like this who are dedicated to producing a great show and always improving what they have,” he said.

Richardson, who graduates in May, said he will miss the people of “Elon Tonight” the most when he leaves Elon. In all his life, he said he has never laughed harder than during the time he has spent with people on the show.

“Laughter is contagious,” Richardson said. “And we laugh a lot.”

Studying abroad: a game of risk in adventure, danger

Students, faculty take responsibility for safety measures while abroad

Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

Elon University’s Isabella Cannon International Centre has dozens of books available to students. Click for information. Photos by Stephanie Butzer

Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

There are hundreds of study abroad programs that take students all over the world. The top three are the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy. Click for more information.

By Stephanie Butzer

On a fall evening in London, an American student rode the Tube home with the blood of a stranger seeping from her shoes.

Ashley Barnas participated in a London study abroad program through Elon University in 2008. Little did she know this experience would test the limits of her safety.

As performers sang on stage at the Urban Music Awards, Barnas moved around the room, taking pictures of the artists and talking to her friends. She was an intern for a company called Invincible Media Group, where her main concentration was to help organize the event. It was a fun, light-hearted night and she was happy to see her work coming together.

Suddenly, chaos erupted in the room.

“All of a sudden you see and hear crashing and wine bottles flying everywhere, bottles smashing on the floor,” Barnas said. “Tables are overturning and chairs flipping over. It was literally from the inside out.”

A man had been stabbed. Barnas and her friends were close to the victim and their shirts and shoes were covered in his blood. They frantically shoved their way to an exit and tried to contact people from her internship for assistance.

Barnas realized her internship director had fled the scene, abandoning the students to fend for themselves. She also discovered  the stabbing was the result of a gang-related fight. Faculty from Elon allowed her to terminate the internship early and she finished the semester in London.

Barnas was one of the 260,327 students to study abroad for academic credit in the 2008 – 2009 school year, according to Open Doors, a comprehensive resource for international students and U.S. students looking to study abroad.

Click to enlarge. Information from

While most of these students did not face an experience like Barnas’, there have been scattered instances when students and study abroad program faculty had to face and immediately respond to an emergency, such as the earthquake in Japan in 2011 and the SARS epidemic in Hong Kong in 2003.

Universities nationwide have acknowledged the possibility of danger and responded by adjusting their study abroad programs, including adding safety measures, to help students stay out of harm’s way and avoid instances as nightmarish as Barnas’ experience.

The world can become a classroom when students step into foreign countries. Open eyes, an educated mind and street smarts can help them enjoy the experience and exercise safety measures.

A new country is a more than a new home

Every country is a new environment. There are different diseases, food, health risks, laws, customs and accepted norms. These differences provide a fresh challenge for students to submerse themselves in a foreign place and grasp new and inviting information.

“You’re in a new place,” said James Buschman, senior director of the office of global programs at New York University. “You’re a stranger in a strange land. As a result, things that are very basic – things that in your own culture you don’t think twice about – suddenly you really have to relearn.”

While students try to grasp new customs, languages, currency or mannerisms, the world and its people continue daily life. With their eyes on maps or up at street signs, natives can label students as foreign tourists, said Woody Pelton, dean of global studies at Elon University.

“I don’t know how they do it,” Pelton said. “It’s like we have a big U.S.A. on our forehead. That distinguishes you.”

Pelton said some citizens approach American students with genuine curiosity. Others ignore them. But some people make a living out of taking advantage of outsiders who appear lost and unaware, Pelton said.

“It’s typically pickpocketing,” said Kevin Morrison, assistant dean of global studies at Elon. “It’s not a violent kind of mugging. It’s usually just you go to reach for your wallet to pay for something and it’s not there.”

Trial and error can help students avoid these issues and understand cultures, Buschman said. NYU tells students it is an important part of the learning experience to do something wrong every day.

“Part of studying abroad is being in unpleasant situations every day, feeling frustrated every day,” Buschman said.

Study abroad experiences can open students’ eyes to places that are stereotyped as violent, poor and unattractive. Because they can immerse themselves in the culture, students have the potential to gain knowledge they may not have fully understood had they stayed at their designated school.

Cassandra McClellan is a junior currently studying in Jordan. Photo submitted.

Cassandra McClellan, a junior at Elon, studied in Amman, Jordan for the 2012 Fall semester. Through pre-departure information set up by her school and hands-on experience in the country, McClellan learned how to blend into the culture. Jordan has remained one of the few countries in the Middle East without significant societal or political problems even through the Arab Spring and its aftermath.

“I am so grateful to be in the Middle East and see firsthand that it is not the scary place so many people make it out to be,” McClellan said. “Jordan is a wonderful, safe place with friendly and hospitable people.”

McClellan said she feels surrounded by global citizens every day because she studies at the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy. Eye-opening experiences like visits to Syrian refugee camps and speaking in Arabic to natives have created a semester she said she won’t forget.

“I think most people understand what a study abroad experience will do for one’s global awareness,” McClellan said. “The opportunity to travel abroad for four months is an amazing and truly a once in a lifetime experience.”

Preparation, organization before departing

Elon pre-departure courses have existed for just four short years. For the past two years, all study abroad programs were required to have a course prior to departure. Before these sessions were mandatory, students still met to discuss the program, but the meetings did not go into as much detail as the current courses. No credit was awarded and the meetings could be as formal or informal as the faculty members deemed necessary.

“Historically, orientation has always involved logistical issues: visas, what to pack, when we’re going to leave, how to prepare for it if you need immunizations,” Pelton said. “Now, that course is much more than that.”

The pre-departure courses have been very successful so far, possibly even more so than people originally anticipated, Pelton said. Students can walk confidently into a foreign country with months of preparation behind them.

“Knowing those things in advance lets students properly prepare themselves for those potential problems,” Morrison said. “The more informed you are, the more prepared you are to handle whatever might come your way, the positive and potentially negative.”

Morrison emphasizes to students that risks should be avoided at all costs.

“You don’t walk down a dark street by yourself here at Elon, why would you walk down a dark street in Barcelona?” Morrison said. “If you wouldn’t go out to bar alone here in the U.S., why would you do it in Madrid?”

Throughout Elon’s pre-departure courses, faculty try to sound like advisors, not parents, Morrison said. It is important for students to recognize themselves as adults and pursue their fields of study, all while exploring the world based off their own choices. Morrison hopes they do so without letting their guard down.

“There’s only so much we can do,” Buschman said. “We can give them a lot of advice. We can organize everything for them. But we can’t force students to always make the best decisions.”

Like Elon, NYU requires students to attend a pre-departure session, but it lasts just one day. After this intensive orientation, students are encouraged to examine NYU’s website for additional information relevant to their program.

Buschman said the students have full access to the page and are encouraged, and in some cases required, to look at specific material. The department can monitor who visits the site, but it cannot ensure that the material has been read. That power lies with the student.

The information is available to the program participants throughout the semester and it is updated as the departure date nears and more questions come up.

“One of the things that we’ve learned is that students, and parents too, frankly, are ready for certain information at certain times,” Buschman said. “Our staff understands that orientation never ends. Students may well need some orientation a week before they’re going home. That’s just the nature of study abroad.”

These curiosities usually start as general questions and narrow down to specifics as they explore the country and what it has to offer, Buschman said. A growing curiosity, paired with information from the Web pages, can provide tools for students to explore an unfamiliar area confidently and responsibly.

Global communication connects countries into a safety net

Countries differ in customs, mannerisms and culture.
Click to enlarge.

New updates and proposals help university faculty around the nation understand more efficient and foolproof ways to keep students safe, healthy and happy while abroad.

Many schools subscribe to receive email blasts from the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) or Travel Warnings from the United States Department of State.

If the U.S. Department of State issues a Travel Warning, entire study abroad programs can be canceled or reevaluated. Travel Warnings are only announced when conditions make a country unstable or hazardous for outside travelers.

The OSAC allows schools to stay up to date with the status of each country. As helpful as this is, Pelton said, it is faster and more accurate to communicate with host partners.

“It’s one thing to get a newsfeed from CNN, but it’s another thing to be right there and look out of the window and say, ‘Well, it doesn’t look as bad to me as it does on CNN,’” Pelton said. “You have to remember that the news medium is a business.”

NYU was ranked No. 1 for quantity of students studying abroad in the 2009 – 2010 academic year, with 4,156 students studying overseas. The university sends its students almost entirely to its own international facilities, which allows the school to control the buildings the students reside in. It also lets them make necessary measures for student safety.

“Typically, what we will do in a place where we don’t own the buildings, is we take out very long leases, like 20-year leases, and build into those leases some incentives for us to remodel the property within whatever the regulations are,” Buschman said.

Under these leases, NYU has altered buildings in ways they believe will keep students safer. For example, a balcony on the fifth floor of a historic building in Berlin, Germany was closed off to ensure no students would accidentally fall.

Buschman was part of a group of faculty that helped each of NYU’s overseas sites to install computer-coordinated key entry to the buildings. The key tracks when and where students are moving and faculty can limit access to certain places at specific times.

Faculty members who stay on the international campuses are required to talk to police officers about the level of crime activity in the area before NYU commits to send students to a specific neighborhood

“That’s helped us because no place is completely crime-free,” Buschman said. “That gave us a good way to build into our orientation some guidance to students on how to stay safe. We could specifically warn them of dangers that were there in the neighborhood and how they should watch out for them.”

Sexual assault prevention has become more prevalent because females make up 64.4 percent of the students who studied abroad in 2011. Schools are recognizing this and responding accordingly. For example, the University of Oklahoma’s Women’s Outreach Center Peer Educators created a video explaining how students can avoid sexual assault.

Some colleges also give students instruction manuals containing step-by-step guidance in case of an emergency. To prepare students for earthquakes in Japan, Earlham College offers handbooks to review during the first days of on-site orientation. Their program in Tokyo takes a field trip during the second week of orientation to visit an earthquake simulation and fire safety center in the city.

Goucher College requires all of its students to study abroad at least once. Their study abroad rate is between 117 percent and 120 percent, meaning it is not unusual for a student to go abroad a second or even third time.

With such a high number of students off the main campus, Goucher takes extra care when prepping students to travel.

After they are accepted into a study abroad program, Goucher students are required to submit a comprehensive health form, which contains both physical and mental health issues. Then, the office of international studies works closely with the student and faculty program leaders to ensure the issues can be accommodated.

“It’s much more work on the front end, but it eliminates the challenges that students and faculty face when undisclosed challenges have to be dealt with overseas with little or no preparation,” said Daniel Norton, associate dean of the office of international studies at Goucher College.

Goucher also requires its faculty program leaders to attend a risk management workshop so they are prepared to handle a situation with a distressed student.

In Elon’s “Costa Rica: Jungle Service” study abroad program, students take part in several service projects and work in villages in Sierrepe, Costa Rica.

For some of the group’s time there, they do not have cell service. The program leaders carry a satellite phone in case they encounter an emergency out of the cell phone service range and require communication. In addition, Jeff Carpenter, the program leader, completed the Wilderness First Aid course so he would be able to respond quickly and efficiently to an emergency in the jungle.

“We don’t have students in a situation that I would consider overall more unsafe than what one normally experiences in life,” Carpenter said. “Yes, for some of the course we are more isolated off in the jungle than the norm. But we also don’t face any of the risks of, for example, driving in a car, or petty crime that people face when they are in the ‘civilized’ world.”

Ensuring exit strategies are ready

Incidents are bad enough when they occur at home. When something happens abroad, it’s important for students to understand how to handle the issue or know somebody who can guide them to safety.

Barnas said even though her boss abandoned her at the Urban Music Awards, she knows it could have happened anywhere in the world, so she does not hold a grudge against her experience. London still remains her favorite city in the world.

Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

Woody Pelton (right) and Kevin Morrison (left) work in the office of global studies at Elon University.

“Some places overseas may be safer, in fact, than Raleigh and Charlotte for example, certainly Detroit and Chicago,” Pelton said. “But somehow it becomes a story when it happens overseas.”

Emergencies vary, but the University of Oklahoma defines an emergency as an assault, injury, natural or political disaster, arrest, detention or any other serious risk to a student’s well-being.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, like several other schools, subscribes to email blasts from the State Department containing information about the conditions of countries around the world. The study abroad office also monitors the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for updates on diseases that may affect students.

If a student should fall ill, NYU is prepared to take action and bring him or her to an English-speaking medical facility. In case of an evacuation emergency, Buschman said they have always ensured there is a place for students to go outside of the city or area where they resided.

The faculty at NYU know train schedules and bus companies that would be available to transport students out of the affected region in an evacuation.

Although most schools will not run programs in an area under a Travel Warning, students can still go abroad if they sign a waiver that releases the university from liabilities. Through this process Duke University, for example, has allowed students to study in places such as Kenya, Lebanon and Israel.

Worldwide emergencies call for worldwide communication

Natural disasters hit a different chord because they are unstoppable and not always predictable. Many schools around the country had students studying in Japan in May 2011 when the earthquake and tsunami hit.

“Who would have thought Japan would have been a dangerous place to be eighteen months ago?” Pelton said. “But all of a sudden – earthquake, tsunami, nuclear reactor. It was suddenly an issue.”

Elon was able to keep contact with the three students they had abroad at Kansai Gaidai University. For some time, it seemed like the best option would be to pull them out of Japan, Pelton said. But, the area the students were studying in was unaffected and, after discussions with the school, Elon allowed the students to stay to complete the semester.

Photo credit August Armbrister

August Armbrister, a student at UNC, was studying in Japan at the time of the earthquake and tsunami. Photo credit August Armbrister

Others were not as lucky. August Armbrister, a student at the UNC Chapel Hill, was studying as an exchange student at the Waseda University in Tokyo when he experienced the earthquake firsthand. He was babysitting at his host family’s home when the initial quake and aftershocks hit.

“The house was shaking severely, cabinets were opening, dishes were falling down, shelves were moving back and forth,” Armbrister said. “The house felt like it was supported by Jello.”

UNC was in touch with Armbrister right away and asked about his access to food and any health concerns, Armbrister said. Between the intense radiation and lack of water and other necessities, UNC decided to terminate the program and bring him and the other students back to North Carolina. But when Armbrister arrived in the United States, he faced another surprise.

“Because we were withdrawn from our exchange program, and we did not complete the term, we had to re-enroll as students,” Armbrister said. “For a few weeks, I and those who participated in UNC exchange programs in Japan were technically not students at UNC.”

Armbrister was told he needed to re-enroll and pay the fee for the school’s application. He said he was frustrated his school made him leave Japan only to punish him with a rule he felt should not have applied to him.

“I felt like UNC should have taken care of that as soon as they told us to leave Japan,” he said.

When campus and national media interviewed him about how UNC handled the situation, Armbrister expressed his disappointment. Once that news began to spread, he received an email saying he no longer needed to re-enroll as a student.

Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

Student study abroad programs have hundreds of destinations worldwide.

In other situations, reluctant students ignored safety precautions and evacuation plans.

Students from Syracuse University still wandered in the night when the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic hit Hong Kong in 2003. This highly contagious disease spread quickly in the big city so Syracuse faculty began canceling classes and assembling the students in special residencies. They also started to make plans to get out of the country.

But the students did not take the epidemic seriously.

“On the ground, to a student, it didn’t look all that serious,” said Buschman, who was a former Syracuse professor. “We had various people even petitioning the president of the university to be allowed to stay.”

By the end of the week, SARS became a large enough issue that a flight was arranged to fly the students back to the United States. At this time, student opinion had drastically changed.

“We no longer had students and parents protesting that they had to go,” Buschman said. “We had them protesting that they couldn’t get out on an earlier flight.”

The students missed the last portion of the study abroad, but they were lucky enough to receive most of their credits. An emergency evacuation or program termination in the beginning or end of a semester is easier to navigate because most of the students’ academic credit is safeguarded and the school can usually offer for them to return to their home campus.

Evacuations in the middle of a semester present a bigger challenge.

“That’s very, very hard because the investment has already been made,” Buschman said. “The funds from the student tuition have already been used to cover the cost of instructors, flying students out, or whatever it is. There’s not much of a refund that can be given at that point.”

Duke had to address this issue during the fall semester in 2003. But, the students were lucky to not lose their credit.

“One of the Bolivia evacuations was in the middle of the semester,” said Margaret Riley, assistant vice provost for undergraduate global education at Duke. “We reinserted the students into Bolivia when the situation had stabilized, so they were able to complete the semester.”

When emergency strikes, students, faculty answer

More students are studying abroad now than ever before. In the 2010 – 2011 academic year, almost 274,000 students traveled to another country to study. With so many students abroad, accidents are prone to happen simply because there are so many students off campus, Pelton said

No program can guarantee safety, health, academic credit or financial investment, Buschman said. But with correct preparation, students can carefully examine and respond to issues as they present themselves. Armed with common sense and pre-departure information, students are more prepared to make educated choices.

In the previous years, with advanced communication, schools around the nation have altered their programs to ensure the greatest safety for their students. The times have changed, but many schools are keeping the pace.

“What’s happened is that we’ve become better prepared at how to deal with it,” Pelton said. “What happens when something bad happens? Well, we’re better at that than we used to be, as a field and profession. We take safety very seriously.”

Elon Dance Company pushes further with fall dance

By Stephanie Butzer

“Passion, Commitment and Artistry.”

Elon Dance Program’s new motto propelled them from August to November’s opening night for the Dancing in the Black Box performance. Four faculty members and four dance majors choreographed the eight individual works in Elon Dance Program’s main stage fall dance.

Each work’s music, costume, lighting and choreography emitted a different emotion for the audience to pick up on and interpret as their own. Some were emotional and dramatic while others were witty or comical.

Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

Jen Guy and few of the Elon student dancers after a show. Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

“It evokes something from the audience and it could be different feelings from every person,” Jen Guy, the artistic director of the show, said. “Every choreographer started off with an idea or a story and they leave their interpretation up to the audience.”

The performance opened and closed with large group performances, with scattered solos, duets and groups in between. The varying work sizes kept the audience on their toes as the lights dimmed before every piece.

What they saw when the lights lit up the stage was visual emotion. In small sets, 33 dancers jumped, slid, crawled, rolled and fought across the stage.  Some of the pieces evoked sympathy for a specific dancer as she moved slowly and thoughtfully through the routine. Others were moving so wildly it looked like they would trip or stumble, but there were close to no errors throughout the entire performance.

One emotion that was examined in almost all of the pieces was an abstract aggression. In several pieces the dancers threw punches, kicks or elbows while others delicately avoided the blows.

This type of abstraction is common in the Elon department as well as other dance programs, Guy said.

Comedy, on the other hand, is not seen too often in dance. The two are rarely meshed into a single performance, but Dancing in the Black Box included two works that successfully, and purposefully, produced laughter. They were light-hearted and simple to watch especially after intense performances where dancers spun around each other like dualing tornados.

Students had the chance to choreograph or perform for the show. The dancer positions were open to all students and majors. Guy said the show had dancers from first-years to seniors and their majors were not always dance.

No matter what their background, this experience will help them further develop their skills, Guy said.

“It’s good for them because it’s a professional level performance and we’re training them to be professionals out in the dance field,” she said.

Dancing in the BlackboxThe students were able to showcase their work to the Elon community and Guy is proud of the work they have done. The high level of dancing and choreography seems to have surpassed expectations.

“I think its going to be better than they could imagine,” Guy said about the audience. “The people who have seen it come and they sit there and go, ‘ wow. This is so much better than I’ve seen in a lot of college dance programs. It’s like a real dance company.’”

New York Times writer visits Elon, uncovers America’s leaders’ “daddy issues”

Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

Maureen Dowd talks to Elon University about America’s leaders’ fathers. Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

By Stephanie Butzer

Billions around the world watched the news on Tuesday as America chose the next president. America saw two great leaders, but did not see a very important factor ablaze on the backburner: their relationships with their fathers.

Maureen Dowd, a New York Times columnist, came to Elon University to speak as the Pulitzer Prize winner for Elon’s 12th Bard Pulitzer Prize Lecture Series. She explained major political figures’ “daddy issues.”

“I admit it, I have ‘daddy issues,’” Dowd began. “Not my own, he was fine. But every four years someone else’s daddy looms over our national consciousness.”

Dowd described the elections’ paternal theme: Americans were looking for a good father that could protect the home from any and all invaders, whether they be Nazis, Al Qaeda or a devastating hurricane.

In the seven presidential campaigns Dowd has covered, she is surprised by how much time she has spent writing about fathers, whether they were powerful or poor, alcoholics or workaholics, and abandoning or hovering. She closely examined Obama and Romney’s fathers and their role in their son’s lives.

Dowd introduced Romney’s father, George Romney, as a four-term governor of Michigan and a failed candidate of the presidency against Richard Nixon in 1968.

Dowd painted a simple image for the audience: Romney placing a piece of paper with the word “dad” on the podium before every presidential debate.

“Ann Romney said her husband did that as a way of saying, ‘Dad, I love and respect who you are, what you taught me, what kind of a person you are and I’m going to honor that,’” Dowd said.

Romney loved to get his father’s advice when it came to unseating Ted Kennedy in the 1994 Massachusetts Senate race. Romney senior was blunt and tough, while his son was more malleable and tentative, Dowd said. One was driven by passion and the latter hid his passions.

While running for governor in 1966, George Romney climbed a chain-link fence to get into a United Auto Workers picnic. His son’s advisors said they wished Mitt Romney had more “climb-the-fence” moments.

Lastly, Dowd said Obama did not attack Romney’s moderate father’s opinion of his positions.

“Obama mentioned it last night in his acceptance speech last night, mentioning for a moment about George Romney, which was gracious but I wonder if Mitt felt a twinge,” Dowd said.

She said it is hard to believe how unsettled Obama’s childhood was compared to his accomplishment as the first president of African American descendent.

Obama’s father went to Kenya when he was toddler and Obama only met him once after that. His mother raised him for some time before she handed him over to his grandparents in Hawaii.

“As Obama biographer David Maraiss said, ‘Every step along the way there was some aspect, key aspect of him, where he was alone,’” Dowd said. “’His early life is an constant stream of people leaving him or being left. His mother, his father, his grandparents – constantly moving. His whole life is a really a classic search for home.’”

Bruce Springsteen, a longtime supporter of Obama, said that Obama’s presidency is one way to show his father – who had no interest of knowing him – “I told you so.”

Obama’s scattered upbringing allowed him to be self-sufficient in the present day. Dowd described, with a touch of sympathy, how Obama is criticized for not thanking donors or those who work for him because he fiercely believes he made it on his own.

Both candidates for the 2012 Presidential Elections struggled to make it to the top. Once they hit the podiums, their dads may have been a distant, heavy thought or on a small note of paper. Whatever it may be, fathers helped these men become who they are today.

Elon students, faculty believe elected president’s “first 100 days” should focus on economy above all

By Stephanie Butzer

The “first 100 days” concept may have started more than 70 years ago with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s presidency, but it is still used today as a measuring device for the success of a president’s first few days in office.

“The idea is that when you first become president you have some sort of a mandate in some sense,” Steven Bednar, an assistant professor of economics at Elon University, said. “People say, ‘okay, you’re elected. Let’s see what you can get done.’ 100 days is kind of a measuring stake.”

The president is generally more popular early in the term and, with the addition of an electoral victory, they are usually at their strongest. The first 100 days is seen as their time to show what they can do.

Thomas Carsey, a professor in the department of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the “first 100 days” concept serves as a metaphor that has more power when a majority of citizens feel like the country is facing difficult times. It prompts the newly elected president to get off to a fast start and start making positive changes, he said.

Both Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama have ideas they plan to implement. However, whoever wins the election will have to get through Congress to have any of these plans passed. The president does not have the power to do everything they say they will because there are dozens of other factors to address first, Bednar said.

“Whoever the candidate is, they’re going to have ideas,” Bednar said. “They’re going to have programs they want to implement but the party opposing them is probably going to have opposite views so we’ll see what can actually happen.”

Bednar believes that the biggest issue the elected president will have to face is the domestic economy and unemployment rate.

“The main things are we need to start focusing on the economy even more and we need to make sure that our position in the geopolitical landscape is kind of firm,” Bednar said.

Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

Laura Williams and Carolyn Macaulay discuss the “first 100 days” concept and the most important issues to address. Photo credit Stephanie Butzer

Laura Williams, director of the Curriculum Resource Center, agrees. She said while unemployment has been on everyone’s minds for a while now, it has been itching forward.

“We have been making progress, but I think people want to see some more dramatic improvements,” Williams said.

Although she is a proud supporter of one candidate, she said she believes the other would also focus on the unemployment rate.

As a senior gradating in the near future, Carolyn Macaulay is concerned with this issue.

“Jobs are probably the number one hot ticket item but I would also say that getting the economy back on the right track, I know that adds into it, but just trying to get us back to where we were with jobs and taxes and etcetera,” Macaulay said.

Bednar described what each candidate should accomplish during these first 100 days to help the public understand what their goals are: Romney would need to firmly establish his positions while Obama would need to be clear on what he is going to continue to do to avoid any further foreign conflicts.

“Presidents generally seek to focus on those problems that are most pressing as well as problems that they believe they can impact,” Carsey said. “It is generally quite closely connected to what they stressed during their election campaigns.”

Other conflicts include the country’s deficit and debt, but Bednar said getting the economy going is probably more important than trying to pay down the debt and lower the deficit, at least for the short-term.

Bednar said that the elected president should also focus on finding somebody to explain this issue to the public in plain English.

“It’s a very complicated issue, but the idea is that if we get the economy going, we get new people with new jobs, they pay taxes and so the revenue is increased by the growth of the economy and we can use that to pay down the debt,” Bednar said.

Elon junior, Kurt Lestan, believes that while the economy should be something that is tackled early on, America’s education should be addressed first. He has faith that the economy is starting to regain its health.

“I think the economy, as it is, is on the way up,” Lestan said. “So, I think no matter who is the president, things are only going to get better. Its not going to get worse, as far as the economy goes. The first thing I would look to to address would be education.”

Cherelle Hunter, senior, hopes the next elected president will focus on something that directly hits home for millions of people: the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

“Being from up north, my parents are up there right now and a lot of devastation has gone on up there,” Hunter said. “They still need to get to work and all this public transportation is messed up.”

The elections will be held tomorrow, Nov. 6, 2012. The president will have more than 50 days to ensure he, and the public, understand what he aims to accomplish in the first 100 days in the White House.