Suspect Arrested in Shooting of Najee Ali Baker

Jakier Shanique Austin, a suspect in the Jan. 20 murder of Winston-Salem State University student Najee Ali Baker, has been arrested in Charlotte, NC. Austin was arrested on April 11, 2018, more than two months after the shooting on Wake Forest’s campus. Austin was on the run for over two months after shooting Baker in January.

Since the shooting in January, the investigation has remained open with the Winston-Salem Police Department in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies. Austin was arrested with the assistance of the Charlotte Office of the U.S. Marshal’s Service and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

“As a Wake Forest student I am proud to see our police department, federal law enforcement, and local law enforcement working together to serve our community and student body of Winston-Salem State University and Wake Forest University,” said Wake Forest Student Government President Spencer Schiller. “I hope that those mourning Mr. Baker’s death can rest a little bit easier tonight in knowing that the Winston-Salem community has every intention to carry out the law and continue our remembrance and reflection on the tragic death of a fellow student.”

In a statement released to all students on April 12, Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch said: “I would like to express my solemn gratitude for the diligent work of the Winston-Salem Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service and other law enforcement agencies for bringing this part of the case to closure. Their tireless efforts, in cooperation with the Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem State University Police Departments, will help our campus communities continue to heal. Our deepest condolences remain with Mr. Baker’s family and friends.”

Austin has been charged with murder, possession of a gun on educational property and carrying a concealed weapon. Austin is being held in Mecklenburg County Jail with no bond allowed while waiting for transfer to Forsyth County.

Currently, the investigation is still open and more details have not yet been released by the Winston-Salem police department.

At this time, the Barn, where the shooting took place, is still closed to events and will remain so for the remainder of the semester.

Tactics of Sixth Circle Prevent Productive Dialogue

Alleged group “Heretics of the Sixth Circle” sent an email with the subject line “you are not safe here” to a seemingly random group of students on Sunday night. The nature of the email stirred conversations about campus safety, while also bringing into conversation concerns with campus culture through a list of demands, making references to Dante’s Inferno, representing the “Sixth Circle” as the group of self-proclaimed outsiders on campus.

While many opinions are circulating as to the methods, goals and general actions of the group, the editorial board of the Old Gold & Black believes that the synthetic scare tactics and anonymity used by the group invalidates their general message of concern for the campus climate. While, admittedly, these scare tactics brought the blog to a large audience, it directs the conversation to surround the blog itself and not its content.

Further, dividing the campus into targeted stereotypes based on extracurricular involvements does nothing to promote productive dialogue surrounding the issues brought up by the blog’s demands.

Although frustration with ongoing problems at Wake Forest should be freely expressed, concrete efforts by the university to implement change should be fairly and accurately represented. Students were involved this past fall in discussions about changes to the Code of Conduct, and the university recently raised the minimum wage for all Aramark workers to $11.10 an hour. Accurate information and facts are essential for effective advocacy, and the fact that they were not aware of ongoing campaigns to solve some of the very issues they identified further discredits their message.

We would like to call on the members of the Sixth Circle to reveal their identities or singular identity. We believe that by doing so they will be able to critically engage with the campus community and fully advocate for positive change. They may not be giving enough credit to students and administrators who would otherwise be willing to listen to their concerns and work with them to instill positive changes, as we are all part of the Wake Forest community and want the best for our own community.

Additionally, it is not unique for students to feel removed from various aspects of the campus community, as it takes some time to find the group of people with whom you really fit, and so it is misguided for the author(s) of the blog to think they are alone in this sentiment of being outsiders.

Although the Heretics of the Sixth Circle accused many groups of not being open to constructive dialogue, they were closed to constructive dialogue themselves by demonizing others. Making deep institutional changes such as the ones that the Heretics of the Sixth Circle proposed would require dedicated work, constructive conversations and compromise with a variety of groups across campus. These conversations are much less likely to happen if directly vilifying language is used.

University Officials Continue to Fail Faculty

In my 36 years at Wake Forest, three items have regularly been on the faculty’s agenda for things the administration could do to improve its lot: bringing salaries up to the level of the universities to which we compare ourselves; developing a regular sabbatical program so that all tenured faculty can have regular leaves; and providing a day-care center for the many people who work on campus.

In the past, it had always been hoped that one of Wake Forest’s capital campaigns would raise funds for one or more of these causes. Even without such an effort, the administration promised the faculty more than a decade ago that it would raise faculty salaries to the level of our peers. This has never happened.

It is telling, I think, that President Hatch’s capital campaign never included any of these items on its agenda. As a matter of fact, the administration has been so indifferent to faculty concerns that few professors even bother to bring up a sabbatical program or a day-care center anymore.

That leaves compensation, but again, there is no indication that there is any effort to raise faculty salaries. As I noted in an earlier editorial, the administration regularly informs us that it has raised $232 million for “faculty support and programming,” but this figure surely is little more than flimflam. From the beginning, President Hatch has touted the great wonders of having raised money for 10 Presidential Chairs, but this does little or nothing for the remaining hundreds of faculty. Somehow it is thought that the presence of these new, major professors will boost all of our spirits, but I’m certain most of us would prefer the pay raises we were promised long ago.

Inasmuch as the administration seems unwilling to demonstrate how much of its $232 million has been devoted to faculty salaries and benefits, one can only assume that it only includes funds for oneoff opportunities like a few Family Fellows and grants for research and travel, the equivalent of the one-time bonuses some corporations gave to their employees after the big tax cut rather than increasing wages, a strategy that keeps salaries and benefits depressed over time.

Once more: most of the faculty would be grateful for a clear reckoning of the sums from the capital campaign that have tangibly increased the welfare of the professors on campus, especially salaries and benefits. Short of such evidence, we can only conclude that there has never been any real interest in improving the lot of the faculty in spite of the fact that the #12 ranking in “Best Undergraduate Teaching” in the US News & World Report analysis of US colleges and universities is a major reason why Wake Forest does so well in that survey. That Wake Forest would fail properly to compensate the faculty and staff who do the most to make the university “thrive” in the midst of its otherwise grandiose plans is nothing short of a scandal.

Jim Hans

English Department

Comments Should Promote Productive Dialogue

As it becomes increasingly common for readers to get their news online rather than in print, readers have the ability to provide direct commentary and feedback in the form of online comments, a trend which we’ve seen manifest in our own website’s comment section in recent weeks. However, with this ability comes a certain responsibility.

Per Old Gold & Black policy, our readers should know that we do not censor our comments section online. Just as we practice freedom of speech in our reporting, so should our readers practice it online. The only instance wherein we consider removing a comment from our website is if it incites violence, if it is internet spam, or if it is targeted online bullying directed at an individual. These decisions are made by members of our Editorial Board.

However, the Editorial Board of the Old Gold & Black asks that our online readers treat the ablity to comment online with a certain level of maturity and responsibilty.

For instance, we hope that readers use the comments section to provide productive feedback, such as when an error is noted in an article or when they feel a part of the related dialogue went unreported. This type of comment allows us to improve our reporting as student journalists.

In other scenarios, readers might wish to comment in order to engage in discussion with other readers on a given topic. We hope that our reporting on controversial issues sparks dialogue between different campus communities, a dialogue which may exist within or beyond our comments section, but which nonetheless engages critical thought on different issues and topics.

While we do not censor our comments section, we discourage those comments that do not contribute productively to any dialogue, and which only serve to inflame audiences and promote uneducated opinions. One should not comment on an article based only on buzzwords in a headline without having read the complete piece, as this is not constructive.

As with many online platforms, readers have the ability to use impersonal names and fake email accounts when commenting. However, we hope that readers consider why they may not want their words tied to their name, and thus reconsider whether it is worth posting something if it must come from behind an intraceable pseudonym.

As our website continues to gain traction in keeping with the widespread shift to online media outlets, we hope that our website’s comments section offers readers a productive platform through which to engage with our content. We welcome feedback, and are encouraged when readers voice their thoughts on our website.

We encourage our audience to continue to give commentary on our website, and hope that the conversations that take place in this sphere remain productive and civil.

Best Buddies Friendship Walk Celebrates All Participants

More than 50 Wake Forest students and members of the community joined each other in the Magnolia Room Sunday, March 25 for the fourth annual Best Buddies Friendship Walk, an event hosted by the Best Buddies chapter of Wake Forest University that celebrates inclusion of people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD).

This year’s event featured games and arts and crafts as well as a “color walk” around Hearn Plaza where participants of all abilities were showered by paint powder. Special guests included Reason to Bake — a purpose-based, gluten-free cookies company based out of Transylvania County, NC — who delivered a keynote address and donated cookies for the event. Other special guests included members of the newly-created Best Buddies chapter of nearby High Point University and students from Carter High School in Winston-Salem, NC.

The event’s theme was “Dream in Color,” which inspired the addition of the “color walk” as well as the arts and crafts and games. At one booth, participants of all abilities could journal about their dreams.

Junior Kelly Reynolds, co-director of the Friendship Walk, worked with the organization to pick this year’s theme after hearing the story of Elise Sampson, founder of Reason to Bake, and her daughter Carolyn Sampson. Carolyn lives with an intellectual disability, which often makes finding employment difficult.

“Carolyn has always wanted to be a baker, but was unfortunately unable to find any work because of her disability,” Reynolds said. “She didn’t let this stop her, since she then started her own bakery with her mom and Reason to Bake has now become an international hit.”

Reason to Bake not only hires but also trains people with intellectual disabilities to pursue meaningful work. At the bakery, people of all abilities work together to make all-natural and artisanal cookies from scratch, which they then ship all over the country.

“We chose to ask Reason to Bake to be our keynote speaker because we heard about Carolyn’s story and thought that it would connect and inspire our participants to never give up and to chase their dreams. They are able to do whatever they put their minds to, just like Carolyn did,” Reynolds said. “Because of Carolyn’s story of turning her dream of being a baker into a success, we wanted to have the theme of our event be about dreams. We believe that dreams aren’t black in white, so we decided to have it be ‘Dream in Color.’”

Participants of all abilities found great inspiration in hearing Carolyn share her story in her keynote address. Senior Emma Bowden, vice president of the Best Buddies chapter of Wake Forest, reminded herself of the importance of following her dreams after hearing the address.

“It was inspiring to hear such an incredible story, especially being a senior with plans to follow my dreams of going to Physician Assistant school after graduation,” Bowden said. “Carolyn was a tangible reminder that no matter the dream, working hard and creating opportunities for yourself can lead to success.”

For some, the inspiring speech served as a fitting culmination to four years of service to the organization, years which saw Best Buddies grow from a small student organization into a fully-recognized chapter.

“Best Buddies has offered me the perfect opportunity to escape the bubble of Wake Forest and make an impact in the Winston-Salem community,” Bowden said. “Being a friend to students at Carter High School has been so rewarding, humbling and just plain fun. The buddies constantly reminded me to take life less seriously and to be thankful for the little things, reminders which I so needed throughout my journey at Wake Forest.”

Deacon Profile: Spencer Schiller

Since the beginning of this school year, senior Spencer Schiller has led Wake Forest’s Student Government as president.

In his administration, Schiller has initiated several changes to the Wake Forest community. Some of these initiatives include the Deacon Disaster Relief Fund and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Now that a new executive board has been elected, Schiller reflects on his time as Student Government president. 

What are the greatest lessons you learned as president?

As Student Government president, I have learned that adaptability and asking for help are both essential to being a successful leader.

In leadership positions within the university system, this is especially true and crucial in efficiently navigating bureaucratic systems. Asking for help from administrators, those with more experience than you and fellow members of Student Government can make all the difference in following through with initiatives and legislation.

I have also learned that not taking yourself too seriously is always valuable in improving relationships with fellow students.

What do you hope that your legacy will be?

I hope my legacy will include the continuation of Mental Health Week. If I can come back to Wake Forest in 30 years and if the school is still focused on the betterment of students’ mental health, I would be proud to have played a role in its creation.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

This year, my greatest accomplishment and proudest moment in office has either been successfully pulling off the Deacon Disaster Relief Fund to benefit hurricane relief or amending the Student Government Constitution to include a new committee focused on diversity and inclusion for all Wake Forest students.

In my four years in Senate, my greatest accomplishment is definitely creating Wake Forest’s first ever Mental Health Week, which has become an annual tradition since my sophomore year.

Do you have any regrets from your year in office?

The only regret I have during my administration’s term is not being able to provide football players on full scholarship with on-campus parking passes. It has been an incredibly frustrating process and hopefully the school will continue to work with next year’s executive branch to improve financial assistance for students benefitting from scholarships.

How has being president changed you personally?

Being president definitely pushed my limits from a time-management, leadership and legislative perspective, and has forced me to become better at prioritizing. I have also learned that reflection is one of the most powerful tools to use when planning events or getting to the root of issues.

Personally, I have gained amazing friendships and will always hold Wake Forest close to my heart because of the opportunities it has given me to serve.

What do you hope the next president and administration can achieve?

I hope the next president and administration can break down the Wake Forest bubble more than we have seen in the past. This year, Student Government has focused on engaging not just our students, but also the Winston-Salem community by benefitting Cooke Elementary School. I hope the trend continues. Winston-Salem is such a vibrant, up-and-coming city and I would love to see Student Government play a role in its further development.

Islam Awareness Week Celebrates the Muslim Community

The Muslim Students Association at Wake Forest, founded in 2008, is hosting its fifth-annual Islam Awareness Week. The week was started by the current Muslim Life Director, Naijla Faizi, who was the MSA President at the time, in an effort to help educate the Wake Forest community about Islam.

Most people assume that the Muslim community is mostly Arab or South Asian, but in actuality the Muslim American community is the most ethnically diverse faith community in America. Part of Islam Awareness Week is to highlight this diversity within the Muslim community.

One of the events that shows this element of the Muslim community was the Gallery Walk in Benson, which had posters of notable Muslim people. Each event throughout the week is intended to provide a different educational opportunity for students to engage with aspects of Islam and lived Muslim experiences.

The purpose of the event on March 19, Demystifying Islamic Head-Coverings, was to create an environment of empathy for Muslims who wear head coverings. MSA invited non-Muslims to wear hijabs and kufis, which are worn by Muslim women and men, respectively. These participants were invited to return and reflect on their experiences. Junior Alec Jessar commented on his experience.

“I felt that I could learn a lot from this event and wanted to take full advantage,” Jessar said. “I felt proud wearing it, even though it was not my religion, to be a part of that for a day,”

Another student commented that although she was physically more covered, wearing the hijab actually made her feel more open. By the end of the day she even developed a sense of attachment with the headscarf.

The event on March 20, Shorty’s Trivia, provided a fun and competitive way for Wake Forest students to both learn about and test their knowledge of Islam.

Students from various academic disciplines were able to apply their coursework related to Islam across four trivia themes: “General Questions about Islam,” “History,” “Prophet Muhammad” and the “Qur’an.” The March 21 event, in honor of Women’s History Month, was an effort to show complex representations of Muslim women.

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, who founded, spoke about her activism as a Muslim feminist who uses media to create spaces for the experiences and perspectives of other Muslim women who have often lacked a platform. Amani said that using the label “Muslim feminist” is in fact redundant, as Islam inherently supports women’s rights and equity. However, Amani argued that such labels are still valuable because they allow Muslims to communicate their values and religious interpretations in the language of our current generation.

It is a common belief that it is inappropriate or insensitive to ask Muslims questions about their faith. This is why on March 22, the Wake Forest MSA is hosting #AskAMuslim to engage questions people have about Islam and being Muslim. To close the week, there will be two events on March 23.

The first is an opportunity for the Wake Forest community to show solidarity with Muslims on campus and to observe Muslims pray, which will be located in the Green Room of Reynolda Hall at 2 p.m. The second event is to create a welcoming and supportive space for the refugees that have moved to, and now reside in and around, Winston-Salem, which will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in Wingate.

It is also an opportunity for Wake Forest students to learn about refugees personally, instead of solely hearing about them on the news.

Alumnus Richard Burr Donates his Congressional Papers to WFU

On Monday, March 12, U.S. Senator Richard Burr (‘78) announced that he will be donating a collection of memorabilia associated with his career to the Special Collections room of Z. Smith Reynolds Library.

A former Demon Deacon himself, Burr is currently serving his third term as U.S. Senator for North Carolina, before which he served in the House of Representatives for 10 years. Throughout his 24 years as a public servant, Burr has gathered an extensive collection of documents, manuscripts and other primary source material, which he hopes Wake Forest students will be able to learn from in the future.

“I hope that once I retire and all my papers are collected here, this will present an opportunity for all students and others who are interested in public policy and government service to learn more about the issues faced during my tenure,” Burr said.

The donation will be the 6th congressional collection housed in the library, following those of Donna Edwards, Charles Orville Whitley and Horace Robinson Kornegay, among others. Burr is one of seven Wake  Forest alumni to have been a U.S. Senator and one of 11 to have been in Congress.

“Senator Burr has offered, and Wake Forest has accepted, a collection that includes photographs, sound and video recordings, manuscripts, letters, speeches, notes and handwritten documents of these more than two remarkable decades in the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate,” Provost Rogan Kersh said at the event.

The collection is currently housed in storage at the Smithsonian, and the timeline is indefinite as to when it will be available at ZSR Library.

In front of the audience, President Nathan Hatch and Burr signed the official agreement between the university and the Senator with specially-crafted pens made of the wood from old shelves of the ZSR Library.

“From these documents, students will read about situations that demanded leadership, collaboration, patience and wisdom,” Hatch said. “They will learn from circumstances they have not yet seen or anticipated. They will see first hand the kind of work that engages high level law making in our land.”

The ceremony was attended by many notable figures, including Congressman Mark Walker, Hatch, Kersh and Board of Trustees Chair Donna Boswell, as well as the chancellors of both Winston-Salem State University and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

“This gift is a mark of leadership by one of our own community, for our community,” Edwards said. “Contributions such as this expose our students to a part of our democracy they might not otherwise get to see.”

The ceremony also included an announcement that the university will establish a Richard Burr Center in partnership with the library. The center will make a strong effort to bring nationally-recognized speakers to campus in the future. Specifics have yet to be disclosed.

“It is our shared hope that we can focus our energies on building a better understanding of the legislative process, how it works and how our young people can use that for our own leadership capacity,” Hatch said. “I look forward to using our collective efforts to establish a world class resource for our students that also honors our distinguished alumnus and public servants.”

Burr, a Winston-Salem native, went to Richard J. Reynolds High School and graduated from Wake Forest University with a B.A. in Communications. He lettered for the Demon Deacon’s football team his freshman and sophomore years, and was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. He currently chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee and has stated that he does not plan to run for a fourth term in the Senate.

“My responsibility to my home of Wake Forest University is not to influence the direction a student goes, but to provide a clear pathway from which to learn how to make their mark on life,” Burr said. “We’re not in the business of influencing, we’re in the business of inspiring … The donations of my paper will only be the beginning of my partnership with Wake Forest in this regard.”

Editorial Board Endorses Candidates for Student Government

The editorial board of the Old Gold & Black met with each of the candidates running for executive positions for Student Government for the 2018-2019 academic year. Each candidate gave a three-minute pitch for the student body to watch before having a Q&A session with our board. The Editorial Board has decided to make the following endorsements based on their platforms and interviews:

In the race for Student Government president, all four of the candidates presented thoughtful platforms on their plans to improve student government and the campus as a whole. The candidates running for president are: David Ajamy, Matthew David, William Morgan and Danny Reeves. Most platforms emphasized topics of diversity and inclusion, unity on campus, safety and encouraging student leadership. With this in mind, our endorsement is split among the candidates that went above and beyond.

After hearing David Ajamy’s platform, we were intrigued by his attempt to bring humor and lightheartedness into the race. Video-chatting in from his semester in Washington, D.C., Ajamy shared his desire to use his previous experiences to change how Student Government is perceived on campus. Ajamy also noted the need to introduce something different to the race as a non-Greek, white male. In addition to his platform, we appreciated Ajamy’s refreshing, comedic take to the race, introducing himself at the beginning of the interview as “Welcome to Moes” or “Dumpster Trash.”

Sophomore Matthew David brought many unique, thoughtful ideas to his interview. David’s platform was inspired by his tenure serving as co-chair of the Academic Committee and a member of the Alcohol Policy Committee in Student Government. Among other ideas, David mentioned creating an inaugural president’s committee, in which the presidents of all organizations on campus would come together for collaboration and mentoring. David also explained his position on Greek life, emphasizing that productive Greek life on campus is beneficial for all students, and that he can more effectively represent the Greek community as a non-Greek student. We believe David is an influential member of Student Government and has a promising future in the organization.

Running for president for the second time, William Morgan’s platform echoes last year’s but has been updated with more specifics and new ideas. His  platform is based on the acronym RATIO: Representation, Accountability, Trust, Inspiration and Openness. Morgan is an experienced member of Student Government, having served on various committees and showing tangible successes.

We appreciated Morgan’s professional approach to the position, as he came prepared and knew his platform extraordinarily well.

The Editorial Board similarly found Danny Reeve’s ambition and accomplishments to be admirable as a candidate for president. Reeves is a tenured member of Student Government, as he served as secretary his sophomore year. This experience taught him what it takes to achieve tangible success. During his time as secretary, Reeves enacted justifiable change in the way the organization is run, such as changing meetings from every other week to weekly and implementing an orientation event for senators. We understand and respect Reeve’s capability as a candidate for president, as he has proven his capacity to lead.

Ultimately, our vote fell to extremely close margins. In a staff vote of all four presidential candidates, we were unable to determine a majority endorsement. Danny Reeves initially won a plurality of the votes, and after a runoff vote seeking a majority, Reeves and Morgan split the votes equally among the staff.

As both of the races for speaker of the house and treasurer are uncontested this year, we have decided to endorse junior Will Hargrove and junior Sydney Packard, respectively, for the positions. Hargrove has been a part of Student Government since his freshman year, serving on the Public Relations Committee, as the co-chair for Campus Life and currently as a member of the Cabinet. Packard is currently serving as Student Government treasurer, and hopes to continue the work she has done this year into the next term, as she has many goals currently in the works.

In the race for secretary, we unanimously chose to endorse junior Thomas Kellogg. We were impressed with Kellogg’s drive for execution and ambition for the implementation of ideas for both the Senate and for Student Government as a whole. We believe that Kellogg has a strong understanding of the structure of Student Government and has achievable ideas on how to improve communication and action within the organization.

Sophomore Maia Kennedy is also running for secretary, and her platform includes pillars such as diversity and inclusion. Other main points in her platform were working on campus safety and creating open spaces for dogs on campus. We recognize that Kennedy is a strong member of Student Government, and hope she will continue her success within the organization.

We are grateful for the opportunity we had to meet with each of the candidates, and recognize that they have all been strong members of the campus community in their various capacities. Those who are to be elected will continue to serve the student body in a positive aspect.

Wake Forest Should Hold on to Rolling the Quad Tradition

Some things about a college experience, no matter what school you attend, are going to be the same: studying late into the night, throwing a frisbee out on the quad and eating cheap take out. What sets schools apart from each other is an institution’s traditions. Wake Forest has the most unique and lovable traditions (which we gladly admit is a biased opinion).

Communications professors Randall Rogan and John Llewellyn submitted a Letter to the Editor pointing out the disparities between the tradition of rolling the quad and the university’s moral values, as well as offering new alternatives. While they raised some worthwhile points, the Editorial Staff of the Old Gold & Black believes that rolling the quad should remain a beloved — and untouched — Wake Forest tradition.

In citing environmental and humane concerns, professors Rogan and Llewellyn clearly failed to do research, something they surely make their students do. The Office of Sustainability addresses environmental concerns behind the tradition on their website’s FAQ page.

As for the humane concern, the professors believe that it is “elitist” to have the landscaping staff remove the toilet paper from the trees. If professors Rogan and Llewellyn have ever enjoyed a beautiful walk on the quad in the days following a major sports win, they would notice a majority of the toilet paper already on the ground. The toilet paper almost immediately disintegrates; landscaping staff only blow the toilet paper on the ground as they do leaves.

Rolling the quad is, of course, a wasteful practice. There are plenty of people who need toilet paper but can’t afford it. Toilet paper is commonly listed as one of the top requested items at shelters. The Editorial Staff proposes that the university, for every time a sports team wins and the quad is rolled, donates an amount of toilet paper comparable to what’s on the quad to local shelters and charities.    

Rogan and Llewellyn also posit that this falsely purported removal of the toilet paper can cause unintended damage to a tree, making it vulnerable to disease.

The Office of Sustainability noted that the White Ash trees on the quad have fallen ill and have been replaced in recent year. However, the Landscaping Services staff and University Arborist have confirmed that this was not due to the rolling of the quad.

According to the Office of Sustainability, the toilet paper that students use has a high recycled content and is quickly biodegradable.

Furthermore, the alternative proposed by professors Rogan and Llewellyn, rolling the quad in large bubble balls, is ridiculous and impractical. The university would have to find a way to provide sufficient bubble balls, house and care for the balls and regulate their use. 

Traditions are meant to remain the same. For students, collegiate traditions can make these four years truly memorable. Demon Deacons will always remember the first time they rolled the quad during freshman orientation. It makes us feel connected to the history, to the future and to the community of Wake Forest. Rolling the quad promotes our institution’s most espoused value: bringing students together.

Wake Forest Named in Top 25 Peace Corps Schools

Wake Forest has been ranked 16 out of 25 in the Top 25 Peace Corps Producing Colleges and Universities in the small colleges and universities category. Wake Forest has placed in the top 25 for four years. Currently, there are 11 Wake Forest alumni serving in the Peace Corps, in addition to 226 alumni who have in the past. Continue reading “Wake Forest Named in Top 25 Peace Corps Schools”

Florida Students Push for Political Change Regarding Gun Laws

On Feb. 14, three adults and 14 children were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School (MSD) in Parkland, FL. In the wake of tragedy, the school’s students have channeled their pain, sorrow and anger into a powerful push for gun control legislation from both the state of Florida and the U.S. Congress.  Continue reading “Florida Students Push for Political Change Regarding Gun Laws”

Negin Farsad Illuminates Social Issues Through her Commentary

Self-deprecating, bubbly, raunchy—these qualities often characterize comedians, but these traits may not typically be attributed to Muslim Americans. Social justice comedian Negin Farsad, however, challenges stereotypes like those for a living.
Continue reading “Negin Farsad Illuminates Social Issues Through her Commentary”

Volume of RA Applicants is Gradually Declining

Everyone recalls when they moved into their first college dorm, officially known as Residence Halls, at Wake Forest.

A bundle of excited nerves knot in your stomach while waiting in the line of cars inching towards south campus. As you finally arrive and step into the North Carolina humidity, a flurry of thoughts rush by; you hope your roommate is clean, your hall mates are interesting and that Bostwick is not as bad as the Facebook group claims.

As you walk in the door, you’re greeted by the smiling face of someone who’s name has already popped up in your email inbox. This person has made everyone on your hall a personalized nameplate for their door, moved in weeks earlier than you did, and has been extensively trained to do their job.

Employed by the Office of Residence Life and Housing (RLH), resident advisers (RAs), are key figures within the Wake Forest community present to support students of all ages throughout their time on campus.

Due to a reduced number of applications, RLH extended the deadline for next year’s RA applications at the end of January. Interviews were conducted this past weekend and decisions will be made at the end of next week. For some, the reduced number of applications reflects a deeper sentiment on-campus about RLH and the position of an RA.

Many have speculated that potential applicants may have been deterred due to how RLH treats employees, as all RAs are paid the same despite wide discrepancies between number of residents, hours worked and job expectations. In addition, students who have been RAs for a year get no guarantee for employment in following years.

“There is a degree of uncertainty because you have to reapply,” former RA and junior Kari Burgess said. “I didn’t go through the process because I was only an RA for a year. Current RAs are given priority, but depending on the applicant pool and your own record, it’s entirely possible to lose the job.”

A commonly-cited reason for wanting to be an RA is a stipend and reduced housing rates. However, in comparison to other schools, being an RA at Wake Forest does not necessarily pay off.

According to the RLH website, RAs receive an annual stipend of $5,000, before taxes. They also receive a discounted housing rate, meaning they do not pay the full $5,367 per semester that a standard single room costs.

At Duke University, all RAs receive a unspecified stipend, free on-campus housing and a meal allotment. With a typical, air-conditioned single costing $5,610 per semester, the job of an RA at Duke already has a larger payout benefit than Wake Forest.

At University of Notre Dame, all RAs are granted a waiver for the fees of room and board, as well as a waiver for a meal plan and laundry service. This renumeration is valued at roughly $16,000 per year.

With Wake Forest’s RAs being compensated less than RAs at other comparable universities, the appeal of applying for the RA position decreases. Another deterrent was the length and intensity of the application.

Students applying for the RA position complete an application before participating in an individual interview and a group interview. If chosen for the position, all RAs attend two weeks of comprehensive training prior to move-in in the fall and in addition, new RAs must participate in a three-credit-hour, semester-long class.

Desirae Starnes, a former RA and current Office Assistant in RLH, had a great experience working with residents and loves being in the central office of RLH with the caring staff. However, she expressed unhappiness with the class.

“I just felt like it was unnecessary,” Starnes said. “You already go through training and put in a lot of time as an RA, so I’m not sure it benefited me personally.”

This appears to be a generally shared opinion. Junior RA Peter Schlachte thinks the class should focus on developing strategies tailored to resident’s interests that help foster community.

Schlachte has been an RA for two years. He loves the opportunity to connect with the community and work with an amazing staff, but struggles with his relationship with RLH administration.

“While [RLH’s] intentions are good, I think they focus a lot more on doing things for appearance sake than for the benefit of residents,” Schlachte said. “It becomes so much more about numbers than completing meaningful activities.”

When he recently voiced his concerns to RLH, the staff was incredibly receptive. Both RAs and RLH staff want to determine where the disconnect is between RAs’ conception of the job and what the central office thinks.

For example, RAs must plan 14 programs per semester with the purpose of fostering community and engaging residents.

“I know I’ve been guilty of planning a program solely to get [it] done because I know I have to hit that requirement,” Schlachte said.

Much of the work that RLH puts into tailoring students’ experiences may go unnoticed as, ideally, students would not encounter any significant problems during their time on campus.

“I think there’s a vocal minority of people [residents or RAs] unhappy with RLH,” said sophomore RA Ryan Carter. “A majority of RAs are really good people and really good RAs.”

In the past year, several RAs have either quit or been fired, which may have discouraged students interested in applying for the job. Students have also expressed that the demands of the job, general procrastination and the many unknowns present when you apply have discouraged them.

Not knowing your living situation or how many residents you will be responsible for, combined with the inability to live with friends, is a major deterrent.

Junior Easton Howard, who recently applied for a second year as an RA, believes more people would apply for the job if upperclassmen RAs could pull people into their suite. Some RAs are uncomfortable with where they live, making the job harder.

“You could be a better RA for your whole community and hall if you [could pull people in],” Howard said.

Another unknown is the number of residents. In freshmen dorms, a 1 to 25 RA to student ratio is typical. Upperclassmen dorms can range from the extreme of 1 to 8, a special case in Palmer last semester, or 1 to 60, as it is in Polo.

Many students also fear being assigned to work with freshmen. As new students to campus, freshmen rely more upon their RAs. However, upperclassmen RAs must put in more effort to make an impact in their community when residents are more autonomous.

The initial reaction for many RAs is to prefer upperclassmen due to a perceived lighter work load. Others believe that the jobs can require the same commitment if an RA is dedicated to fostering an engaged community.

“As upperclassmen, people already have an emotional support system,” junior Rebecca Merill said. “But upperclassmen RAs still need to identify where someone might have a problem and be active community members.”

Junior Miller Ligon says he has only seen his RA once or twice, and although he enjoys his RA’s relaxed manner, it causes him to see his RA as not putting forth a lot of effort.

It is this dichotomy that RLH struggles with. They strive to foster engaging and inclusive communities, but students are often resistant. The challenge is creating that community in a way that students are receptive and participatory.

“Many groups don’t like RAs because they’re seen as policy enforcers,” Ryan Carter said. “But we genuinely care about you and want to make sure you’re making the best decisions.”

RLH is taking steps to reinvent how students view the administration’s work and the position of an RA. However, they recognize that staff cannot fulfill everyone’s needs.

“We would never do anything purposefully detrimental to the student experience,” said Director of Residence Life Stephanie Carter. “But when you deal with close to 4,000 residential students it’s hard to keep everyone happy.”

To connect with their staff, the central office of RLH has been opening channels of communication by reaching out to RAs, entering buildings and welcoming feedback. However, the disconnect between the desires of community members, residence hall staff and RLH administrators cannot be solved overnight.

Merill believes that the culture comes down to how administrators choose to shape their program for the long term.

“RAs tend to be good examples of leaders in the Wake Forest community, being mentors to people without being public about it,” Merill said. “But when RLH tries to make an open community they [can close that community off] by being too pushy.”

Robert Lipsyte to Continue Visits to Wake Forest

There was no reason for journalist Robert Lipsyte to be at the first sporting event he covered.

In 1964, little-known fighter Cassius Clay, now known as Muhammad Ali, was facing off against heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. It was assumed that Clay would be knocked out in the first round. Clay was an underdog, and so was Lipsyte, as a young reporter in his 20’s. Continue reading “Robert Lipsyte to Continue Visits to Wake Forest”

WFU Press Relocates to Reynolda Road

Wake Forest University Press, Wake Forest’s faculty-run publisher of Irish literature and poetry, has moved to a new location on Reynolda Road over the past summer.

Professor Jefferson Holdridge of the Department of English is the current head of WFU Press. Under his leadership, the Press has seen significant growth. For most of its time at Wake Forest, WFU Press has had to store their books in a warehouse off campus, while operating mainly on campus. Their new location eliminates much of the old arrangement’s difficulties.

“We were in Carswell for a while, and up until last year we were in the basement of Tribble,” Holdridge said. “It was a very small place, and within my first five years we had outgrown our warehouse where we housed our books.”

The WFU Press publishes the works of budding Irish poets and writers that are not normally seen in the U.S. With an American publisher, work that would otherwise never leave Ireland is able to reach new audiences with a different style of work. The new location has even helped reach local Winston-Salem audiences.

“I’ve already heard from so many folks who’ve seen our sign on the road,” said Amanda Keith, a Wake Forest professor who works with Holdridge at the Press. “Having that visibility in the community is new and exciting. People have even walked in off the road just to see what we’re all about.”

The new space not only allows for storage space and for the publishing operation to take place under one roof, but also provides a space for WFU Press to host poetry events, as well as visiting poets and scholars.

“We’ve always said that WFU Press helps expand the Wake Forest mission internationally, and now we have a welcoming place to which we can invite people,” Keith said.

Alongside Keith and Holdridge are a team of interns who help with the regular operations of the Press. Students who intern typically do so for a year and can earn credit hours in the English department for doing so.

“A good publishing intern has an appreciation for good writing, meticulous attention to detail and an ability to work efficiently,” said Katie Huggins, a Wake Forest graduate student and WFU Press intern. “In the past year and a half, I’ve really enjoyed learning about production and design skills.”

While interns are often English majors, intern positions are offered to students of any major. The smaller size of WFU Press allows interns to have a more hands-on experience with editing and publishing than at other publishers. Huggins is a fan of the new space on Reynolda Road as well.

“Our new space offers a much more tranquil aesthetic as a workplace,” Huggins said.

In particular, she said having more space and natural light made proofreading manuscripts more enjoyable. The change for WFU Press comes at a time where the traditional content of Irish poetry and literature is being challenged. Changes in the Irish population, due to the migration of Irish nationals abroad and the immigration of other European nationals Emerald Isle, have brought new faces to a culture that has widely gone unchanged for decades.

“Our poets are certainly invested in ongoing changes in Ireland,” Huggins said. “Last year, the Press published a collection of critical essays titled ‘Post-Ireland?’ which explores poetry that engages with more contemporary cultural shifts in Ireland.”

In addition to immigration, the role of faith is changing in Ireland as well. Poets published in the WFU Press have already begun to engage with the changing role of Catholicism in Ireland and how a diversifying population is addressing religion. According to Holdridge, it is an exciting time to be following  Irish writers.

“It’s difficult to say how all this will change Ireland,” Holdridge said. “Will it just change how Ireland looks, or will the society become something other than what it was? Some of our younger poets are reflecting on this new reality.”

Hatch’s Fund Allocation Creates Dubiousness Among Faculty

We all know that press releases from Wake Forest are the equivalent of Trumpian “Fake News,” which is to say they are full of sleights of hand that grossly distort the basic truths underlying the manner in which campus life is organized these days. Nevertheless, as someone who has taught here for 36 years, I confess to being ever-more distressed by the ethos that is regularly revealed by the current administration. Continue reading “Hatch’s Fund Allocation Creates Dubiousness Among Faculty”

Seniors Bid Farewell to Wake Forest in Colloquium

Dating back to the reopening of Wake Forest’s doors in 1868 following the end of the Civil War, the Senior Colloquium is a tried-and-true tradition. It is a celebration of student oratory excellence and scholastic competition, in which 35 of Wake Forest’s seniors are nominated to write an essay on a critique of culture or insight gained in their undergraduate years. From these 35 submitted essays, a panel of faculty judges selects 10 to be read at the Colloquium.

This year’s Colloquium was held on Wednesday Feb. 7 in Pugh Auditorium. Three of the essays will be selected to be read at the Founder’s Day Convocation on Feb. 15. Out of these three orations, a final speaker and essay will be selected to speak at the Honors and Awards Ceremony for graduating seniors, their families and friends. 

The opening remarks of the Colloquium were headed by Provost Rogan Kersh, who reflected on the rich tradition of the Colloquium in Wake Forest’s history. He shared a brief anecdote from his time in the shoes of the orators seated in the first row, speaking about how he read his oration, “Building Community at Wake Forest University,” in the Theta Chi lounge in 1986, with Pugh Auditorium being in his words, “quite the step up.”

Clay Hamilton read first. His oration, “Sing Thee Our Humble Lays” spoke about his excitement and love for Wake Forest as a freshman, which later slid into “sophomoric dissatisfaction.” Hamilton discussed disappointment and high expectations for what Wake Forest was supposed to mean to him and others but instead ended with the understanding that one’s path here is not a gift, but a journey in which the prize is community and satisfaction.

Hannah Hulshult spoke next. Her oration, “Finding Yourself Through Service” began with a quote from Mother Teresa about how “we belong to each other.” She reflected on the idea and meaning of ‘Pro Humanitate.’ Why does service matter? How does service affect our time in the classroom? Hulshult overwhelmingly responded, “in so many ways.” She spoke of how her time at Campus Kitchen and in the sociology department helped break down the figurative walls around our Reynolda Campus and find herself in others.

Betsy Mann next read her piece, “The Best Four,” a classic critique of freshman perceptions of college and of the hope that ‘next semester will be better.’ She spoke of the adversity and pain that comes about from the college transition and the ways in which the ‘Pro Humanitate’ spirit of the students, faculty and staff guided her to success and excellence.

Suzanne Mullins next rose to read her oration, “Beyond [Clock] Face Values.” She spoke of one of Wake Forest’s most treasured traditions. As one of an elite circle of carilloners that man the notorious bells held in the steeple of Wait Chapel, Mullins spoke of her pride in causing the 5 p.m. bells to peal across campus. Every student has heard the Harry Potter theme or the Imperial March from Star Wars echo from Wait Chapel’s piercing spire — but do we know who hides behind the clock face? Do we know who strikes the bells and releases music across the campus? Mullins is proud to claim the position as well as to speak about how, just as she has been hidden behind the clock face of Wait Chapel, she warns against hiding one’s nature from the community that Wake Forest can provide.

Rose O’Brien read her oration, “The Value of Self-Awareness,” and spoke of the inherent and rampant bias towards ourselves that she has observed at Wake Forest and in communities like it across the world. She discussed the ways in which leaders throughout campus speak of nothing but their own locus of experience and are rare to place themselves in someone else’s shoes. She taught the audience that the world’s inherent thoughts of refugees, those born into poverty somewhere a world away, are no less intelligent, less successful or less deserving of a chance at a place like Wake than any of us sitting in the audience. Rose showed that ‘Pro Humanitate’ is not necessarily a doctrine, but a mission to set out on daily.

Anna Pugh spoke her essay, “Paint Humanitate” and shared some poignant remarks about the similarities between painting and how one should live their life. She spoke of the use of color and how layering two brilliant hues of blue only serve to mute them both, but a blue with a green makes them both shine more. She also talked about how blank spaces on canvases are just as artistic and intentional as the spots holding paint. These lessons immediately apply to Wake Forest, the ways in which one paints their picture is as unique as the blades of grass on the quad or the bricks that built Wake Forest. On the surface she may have taught us how to paint a picture, but the implications are much deeper.

Erin Stephens read her oration, “Looking Up in A World That’s Looking Down” and softly critiqued part of Wake Forest’s success-oriented culture. She laments that she may have spent too many days looking down, blinders up, focused on a task that in the grand scheme may not affect her soul or wellbeing. It seems this is a story many Wake Forest students share. Any student can relate to the lamentations in the ZSR Library about “Work Forest.” Sadly it seems we are more able to bond over our unhappiness with our workload than the amazing things that happen around us daily.  “Look up!” she said, or your time here will pass you by, and you’ll spend your time wishing you knew what was right above you the whole time.

Kyle Tatich doted on opportunity in his oration, “Learning the ‘Essence of Wake Forest.’” He talked about how he thought he understood what the essence of Wake Forest was as an aspiring freshman and how this understanding has drastically changed as an outgoing senior. He spoke of the joy it was to learn what Wake Forest really means and the embarrassment he now holds, looking back and realizing how far off he originally was.

Allison Thompson, who managed to be here tonight, taking a break from studies in D.C., bombastically read her essay, “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me.” She began her oration by explaining her love and comfort found in libraries. She continued with how her love of libraries, the ZSR Library specifically, led her to encounter differing views of Wake Forest, discovering what the ‘Wake Forest Experience’ means to her, and later, how to develop a sense of place at Wake Forest.

Ben Wojnar spoke last, his oration “Exit Hack, Enter Scholar” discussed the idea of academics as a ‘means to an end’ and how students shouldn’t confuse their efficiency, their hard work, and the pay-off of these trials as being a ‘hack.’ Instead, Wojnar recounted how he found himself in many classes simply needed for a requirement and how these empty labors filled him with spite and frustration, as he felt it limited his efficiency and path to the future. However, as he stayed in these courses and paths, he stated, “What began as a laborious trial ended with genuine intrigue.” He may have started as a hack, interested only in high marks, but he leaves through the doors of Wait Chapel as a true scholar.

In the end, the colloquium was an example of what can be taught at Wake Forest outside the bounds of textbooks and classrooms. As O’Brien said, “The purpose of the Colloquium is to express the less tangible lessons that Wake Forest teaches us. I’m just proud to represent a 150-year-old tradition at Wake Forest.”