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'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

2023 Wake Forest news in review

A look back at what happened on campus in 2023
Evan Harris
“The Old Gold & Black covered speaker and campus events as well as localized national stories.”

While news happens every day, there are a few stories that stood out at Wake Forest in 2023. The Old Gold & Black covered speaker and campus events as well as localized national stories. Here are a few key moments that impacted Wake Forest’s campus and its community. 

National Pan-Hellenic Council expansion 

In January, Wake Forest’s National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) began accepting applications from organizations in the national NPHC that did not have a chapter on Wake Forest’s campus. The expansion stemmed from an attempt to expand diversity and help give marginalized students a place of belonging. 

Since this announcement, Wake Forest has welcomed Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. and Chi Epsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority Inc. During the 2024-2025 academic year, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. and Lambda Theta Phi National Latin Fraternity Inc. will join the university’s NPHC.

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Omaar Hena 

In early-February, the anonymous social media app Fizz flooded with posts regarding associate English professor Dr. Omaar Hena. The posts were in regards to “photos and videos Hena posted of himself on Instagram and Reddit, which ranged from sexually suggestive to pornographic.

In mid-February, an email to his students announced that Hena had been placed on a leave of absence, offering no further explanation. An anonymous source in the English department told the Old Gold & Black that a Title IX complaint was filed against Hena. Hena’s active courses were taken on by his colleagues. Since then, student reactions have ranged from discomfort to support. 

In September, the Old Gold & Black learned from a course planning document from the English department that Hena was scheduled to return to the classroom. This semester, he will be teaching three sections of the First Year Seminar, “Globalization and Culture.”

The 29th annual “Speak Out series”

In mid-April, The Safe Office provided a space for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories as part of the 29th annual “Speak Out series.” According to a Campus Climate Survey taken during the Spring of 2022, 55.4% of respondents reported experiencing sexual misconduct at Wake Forest, reflecting the pervasiveness of a long-standing issue on campus. Students gathered in Wait Chapel to honor those impacted by sexual violence.  

Student Government elections

Wake Forest Student Government announced its new officers in April. Jackson Buttler (‘24) was elected to serve as Student Body President while the Speaker of the House, Treasurer and Secretary positions were filled by Michael Walsh (‘24), Tim Erday (‘24) and Marta Zach (‘24) respectively. Since the election, the Student Government has made changes including a bill that permits academic buildings to be open 24 hours a day during finals week and implementing a diversity and inclusion requirement for senators.

Non-Binding Early Action

This fall, the university launched a new non-binding, early action option for first-generation students applying to Wake Forest. These prospective students had the option to apply to Wake Forest by Nov. 15 and receive a decision by Jan. 15, all by retaining the ability to consider other institutions. 

US News & World Report 

In September, the US News and World Report released their annual ranking of the best national universities. Students reacted to Wake Forest falling out of the top 30 universities and reflected on the new units of measurement used to compile the list. 

With the restructuring, US News no longer considers factors such as small class sizes and the percentage of instructors with a terminal degree, areas that many argue are defining factors of Wake Forest. Instead, the new system added seven indicators that contributed to Wake Forest’s sudden drop. Indicators include faculty research, first-generation graduation rates and graduate income.  

This breaking news caused a significant amount of outcry from Wake Forest faculty and alumni, as well. President Susan Wente released an address on the university’s standing, reiterating the idea that Wake Forest University does not plan on changing its mission based on acquiring a higher US News and World Reports ranking. 

Campus responds to Israel-Hamas war

On Oct. 7, the Palestinian militant group Hamas carried out a surprise attack on Israeli towns bordering the Gaza Strip — a Palestinian territory that Israel and Egypt have blockaded for the past 16 years. (Editor’s Note: The Old Gold & Black follows AP Style guidance, which is to refer to Hamas as a militant group.) The attacks resulted in the death of 1,200 people. In response, Israel carried out air strikes and sent troops into Gaza. According to the Gaza health ministry, more than 25,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war. 

Thousands of miles away at Wake Forest, students organized events — including vigils hosted by Jewish students and the Muslim Students Association as well as a friendship dinner hosted by Wake Forest College Democrats. 

Administrators and faculty members also responded to the conflict. Four history and politics professors hosted a teach-in to discuss and learn the context surrounding the war. The university also held a series of “Holding Space” events to give Wake Forest community members a place to process and reflect on the war. Additionally, Wake Forest held bystander intervention training focused on combating Islamophobia and antisemitism. 

Laura Mullen

Faculty were also impacted by the war. Professor Laura Mullen resigned after receiving backlash and death threats from a social media post. This evoked an emotional response from the student body with the majority of students believing that her post was a justification of the death in Israel as a result of Hamas’ attacks. The impact of the war on students and faculty alike emphasized the importance of fostering understanding during this time of global crises and uncertainty. 

2023 was a transformative year for Wake Forest, marked by impactful events and global conflicts that changed the cultural landscape on campus. As 2024 begins, The Old Gold & Black is committed to providing accurate and thorough coverage in service to our readers.


Correction: A previous version of this article did not contain up-to-date edits. The article has been updated to reflect edits made by the deputy editor and the editor-in-chief of the Old Gold & Black.

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