Category: News

New century, new military

JESSICA MACKEY
News Editor

Everyone remembers the Uncle Sam campaign posters of World War I and II; however, the United States is moving away from ideals such as this in favor of a smaller and more advanced military.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has announced plans to significantly cut the size and spending of the United States military and the Department of Defense. The policies are not in effect yet because Congress has not voted on the matter; however, they have created much controversy over the effectiveness of our country’s defense.
Under the plan, the Army would shrink the number of active-duty troops to a just more than 440,000. The current number is at 520,000. This would bring the size of the Army down to pre-World-War-II numbers.
The proposed plan makes way for more advanced technology to be used. In addition, the number of Special Operation Forces would increase by almost 3,000 troops, going from 66,000 troops today to 69,700.
Some students on campus find this approach to fighting wars to be more effective than conventional warfare practices.
“With the downsizing of the military to levels before World War II, I believe has its pros and cons.” said senior Kyle Wimbrough, a current Air Force reservist. “I do agree with the downsizing on the plans of downsizing to reallocate funds to technology and Special Warfare commands, which I believe is a great idea.”
“Our world is changing and so must our military,” said junior Owen James. “As a vet (one tour in Iraq as a military police officer) I have seen the armed services go through some transformations while fighting an elusive enemy and that change is continuing. Technology is giving us an edge on the battlefield and an enormous standing army is no longer necessary. ”
Students hope that the plans for downsizing the military will lead to more lives being saved.

“I think it’s a great thing that the military might be downsizing, but it’s also a little scary,” said freshman Trey DelPo. “It’s great because I have had to watch too many of my friends’ family members go off to battle and not return home. With the downsizing, hopefully fewer soldiers will be lost in battle, and we will send out troops much less often.”

The plan does affect other branches of the military as well.
At the moment, the Navy will retain its 11 aircraft carriers; however, this could change as more extreme budget cuts are made in the future. Additionally, the Navy would be allowed to purchase two destroyers and two attack submarines every year.
The Air Force will continue to prioritize futuristic fighter planes, including the F-35 fighter jets, which remain extremely expensive to build and operate. However, the Air Force would eliminate an entire fleet of U-2 spy planes and the A-10 attack jet, in an effort to increase the use of Global Hawk drone airplanes.
Despite the proposed budget cuts to the military, the United States defense budget will remain the largest in the world with roughly $600.4 billion spent annually.
Virginia Wesleyan students are unsure whether shrinking the budget is in the best interest of the United States.
“Our nation spends more than the next 12 nations combined on national defense. Some of that money can be used to improve our infrastructure, schools, and to pay off our national debt,” said James.
The proposed plan also affects military personnel at a personal level. Hagel calls for slowing the growth of the tax-free housing allowances for military personnel. In addition, Hagel is proposing to reduce the $1.4 billion subsidy provided to military commissaries. This would cause more expensive prices for soldiers and their families.
The proposed plan also suggests increasing health insurance deductibles and some co-pays for some military retirees.
Hagel has repeatedly stated that the proposed plans do not include any changes to retirement benefits for those currently serving.
Some students are worried about the effects the plan could have on Hampton Roads.
“Downsizing the military hurts our ability to remain a defensive force in the regions that we are currently involved in. It, furthermore, risks the jobs and local economies that thrive around military communities,” said senior Brian Drake.
Despite the controversies over whether the downsizing of the military is a good or bad decision of the United States government, the students of Virginia Wesleyan College overwhelmingly understand the rationale behind it, even if they do not personally agree with it.
“As a member of the military, I personally understand the reasoning for downsize because this is a natural process the military goes through after fighting a war, such as the one we have been fighting for over a decade,” said junior Clay Jones.
“However, I don’t approve of the downsize, but I understand that it is needed, as I hope that our military will finally see a nation at peace, as we are overdue for a peaceful operating nation.”

Changes to Village II

EMMA SOROHAN
Staff Writer

Say goodbye to an outdated room with few uses and say hello to a newly modified, multi-purpose configuration. As 2014 commencement ceremonies take place, the college’s Social Science Lab and Women’s Resource Center will undergo construction. Currently, the room is a classroom and computer lab in addition to the Women’s Center, but soon the interior will be completely transformed.
Renovating the Social Science Lab and Women’s Resource Center is one of the biggest projects at VWC, so large that it has been in the works since 2012. However, the development office was notified in February 2013 that the Social Science room would receive a grant that would cover the approximately $750,000 project. Without the grant, this project would have wwbeen difficult to achieve.
“This is a fairly large project that has been in discussion since 2012, but we have really been working at it in the last 6 months or so,” said Vice President of Operations Bruce Vaughan.“We are shooting for mid-August for it to all be done, but there’s a lot of background work that goes on.”
As of now, the room properly serves the purpose of a classroom, but one of the main reasons that sparked discussion of revamping the place is because of the current configuration. If a class is going on in the Women’s Center, the computer lab cannot be accessed.
“The room is being renovated because it is not functional as it is currently configured; that is, only one function can be held at a time,” said director of the Women’s Resource Center Sharon L. Payne. “If a class is being held, the computer lab can’t be accessed without walking through the class. At the present time the lab can’t be used by the Women’s Center during any class times, which severely limits our access.”
The updates will allow faculty members and students to have a more accessible and functional space. There will be two new computer labs with separate entrances dividing the classroom and labs, allowing students to use computers regardless of a class being held. At one end there will be a 16-seat computer lab, and at the other end there will be a smaller research lab that will also have computers while the majority of the space will be occupied by a multi-purpose room that will be mostly used as a classroom.
Despite a few scheduling problems that may occur due to the renovations, the overall thought of the room being filled with two computer labs, a lounge area, a large classroom, a new air conditioning unit and a new heater is exciting to VWC students.
“I didn’t know about the renovations until this interview, but it is exciting to that it is going on because I live in Village II, so now it will be a nice area to study or do research when the library is crowded,” said freshmen Raven Dillard.
As with most projects, the blueprints might be slightly altered between now and mid-August, but a more modern room filled with all new appliances and electronics definitely has students excited for the coming changes.
“I love the idea of them renovating that room! It’s so big and there can be a lot to be done to it, so I’m actually pretty excited to see how VWC transforms the room,” said freshman John Byrd.

Virginity takes on a new meaning

MOLLY FANNEY
Staff Writer

Four women arrested in the early months of 2014 for participating in anti-military protests in Egypt have come forward saying they were subjected to “virginity tests.” This practice was outlawed two years after Amnesty International made a report about 17 female protesters. They were arrested by the Egyptian government, handcuffed and beaten, strip-searched and photographed by male soldiers, and then restrained by female soldiers while a male doctor checked to see if they were still virgins.
According to CNN, in 2011 a senior general of the Egyptian military confirmed that these tests did in fact happen. The reasoning behind these “virginity tests” is to prevent the protesters from claiming that soldiers had raped them. Using these tests as an intimidation factor is not new,but the resumption of this practice has sparked fears of police brutality.
This is not the only example of a regression to policies that threaten the rights of women and their sexuality. Virginity is being used as a tool of degradation, sexual objectivity and control all over the world, including in the U.S. Even today, women are not given the same rights and protection as their male counterparts, especially when it comes to their own bodies.
In Africa and the Middle-East, a procedure known as female genital mutilation is generally used to both ensure a girl’s virginity before marriage and control her sexual experience. The procedure is surgical and can involve partial or total removal of female genitalia, specifically for non-medical reasons. They are subjected to extreme health risks.
Biologically, there is no actual definition of virginity. What is generally associated with virginity is an in-tact hymen (the thin membrane that partially or fully covers the vaginal canal) and most women are aware that this is not a fair indicator of sexual experience. Ultimately, there is no concrete way to examine a woman’s reproductive organs and determine if she has had sex.
“(These practices) are intended to perpetuate this myth of the desirability of virginity, which we call the ‘virgin myth’ in Women and Gender Studies,” said political science professor Dr. Aubrey Westfall. “In the specific case of virginity testing in Egypt, the intention was humiliating women. These practices are clearly different ways of sexualizing women by stating that value is in the woman’s virginity, they somehow lose their human rights.”
The myth of “purity” is not only dangerous in international cultures, but our own. The idea that being pure or a virgin makes a woman better than one that is sexually experienced exists in every corner of our culture, but especially in high school and college-age women.
“Female genital mutilation, virginity testing, honor killings; they’re all about women and sex,” said Westfall. “It’s using sexuality to control women and keep them in a subordinate position.”
“In American culture, as in other cultures, virginity is upheld as an aspiration mostly for girls,” said Professor of Women and Gender Studies Dr. Taryn Myers. “In America this idea has become commercialized with the existence of purity balls, where girls in white dresses dance with their fathers and pledge to remain virgins until marriage, sometimes at very young ages.”
Anti-abortion legislation has also been on the rise in the U.S. Such legislation makes it extremely difficult for women to have abortions performed legally.
“I think this is also an example of a patriarchal society trying to control women’s bodies,” said Westfall.
Whether it is being criticized for wearing clothing that shows a little leg or being bullied for having sex with several partners, women are constantly shamed for existing as sexual beings. “Slut-shaming,” another facet of the virginity myth, is a cultural practice that insinuates that when women are sexual they should feel guilty or inferior. This is not about being called a slut or whore, but shaming women when they aren’t conforming to patriarchal society’s standards for them.
“There is definite pressure for woman to remain pure and protect their virginity until marriage,” said Myers.”

Former Marlin Chronicle editor, ’97, revered after fatal accident

KAITLYN DOZIER
Editor in Chief

Supermom. Committed. Magnificent as a person, parent and student.

With so much admiration, Jennifer Bush Lawson, class of 1997, truly was the epitome of the type of graduate Virginia Wesleyan aspires to develop.

On Feb. 24, Lawson died in Arlington from injuries sustained in a traffic accident. The legacy she left on this college and her community will continue to positively influence the lives of so many people.

“She was a beautiful person, very humble and never judgmental,” said alumni Kristen Winkler Cayton, also class of 1997. “She was genuinely kind to every person she met.”

Lawson, fondly known on campus as Jenn Bush, excelled as Editor in Chief of the Marlin Chronicle in the mid-1990s.

“We bonded while spending many hours in the old Marlin Chronicle office that was in Village I,” said Cayton, who also worked for the student-run newspaper. “We worked really hard to make the paper the very best it could be at that time, and we had fun doing it.”

A journalism major, Lawson graduated in 1997 with Summa Cum Laude honors. She began her career as a media relations specialist at the Association of American Medical Colleges. Lawson then worked for Edelman Public Relations before becoming a senior associate at Schmidt Public Affairs in Alexandria.

“Jenn was beyond an outstanding student,” said former Marlin Chronicle advisor and Professor of Journalism, Dr. William Ruehlmann. “She was an outstanding individual. She had a giving heart and a laughing spirit.”

Lawson, 39, is survived by her husband, Neal Lawson, and their three young children.

“Her examples of moral courage, unswerving citizenship, faithfulness to family and instinctive support of the underdog remain encouragements to all who knew her, and we will never, never forget her,” said Ruehlmann.

“She was a wonderful friend, more like a sister to me, and she was an incredible mom,” said Cayton. “I will cherish the time we had together, and it all started at Virginia Wesleyan.”

Registering guests online

EMMA SOROHAN
Staff Writer

Beep, beep, beep is the noise some students report hearing when calling the security gate to register guests. Students consistently report waiting in long lines to get on campus because of improperly registered guests. Student Government Association (SGA) is working to change the process of registering a guest on campus to avoid these delays.
The process currently requires students to call the security office, provide their name and dorm room number, and spell the name of the person they are calling in.
“Students will be allowed to use Web Advisor to put in the visitor’s information, such as their name and the student’s dorm number. This will then be seen at the gate by the officers shortly after completion,” said Director of Security Jerry Mance.
The idea to transform the registration format from phone calls to computer came from SGA junior senator Mindy Bertram. Bertram’s job is to ask students what improvements need to be made on the VWC campus. Enough students mentioned the inefficiency of the guest check-in process so that SGA conveyed the concern to Mance. Mance met with Computer Services last month to help develop an appropriate program. Together they decided to put the registration on WebAdvisor.
Other than knowing that the registration will be located on WebAdvisor, there is currently not a lot of information regarding the change in policy because it is still in the works. However, there are two things that are certain; first, the program should be ready after spring break, and second, there is a training program in place for all the officers.
“February 21st is when the training program begins and this will help make sure that all staff members are comfortable with the new program,” said SGA president Steven Bond.
The idea that change is coming seems to be exciting most of the student body, but there still are a few who are a bit skeptical about the program.
“I feel like the change is good except for the people who don’t have a smartphone, said freshman Valerie Wilburn. “It will be more difficult making a last-minute decision since you’ll need a computer or smartphone to register guests, so I wonder if they will still expect phone calls.”
“I use the phone system about twice a week and it works great for me,” said freshman Sarah Antozzi. “There’s an old saying: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ And why weren’t all students told about this change when they started working on it, instead of just now?”
According to Mance, the focus of the new program is trying to get away from the phone calls, so unless it is an emergency check-in, students should not call the security gate to confirm a guest’s registration.
“We are trying to get away from the calling. Web Advisor will specifically be made to be updated on real time to avoid any waiting at the gate,” said Mance.
Overall, the change will make it easier and more convenient for students, but at the same time, there still may be a wait at the gate because someone did not know a person’s license plate or incorrectly typed the guest’s name. Regardless of all the small mishaps that may happen, the point of the change is to streamline the process, making it more efficient for both security officers and students. Most importantly, of course, it will still maintain the safety of the student body.

Boy Scouts open to all

Steven bond
Staff Writer

Changing history, openly gay Boy Scouts of America are now allowed within the organization. There have been a number of advancements in regards to gay rights in the past couple of years. And with the start of 2014, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) continued this advancement.
In May 2013, the BSA National Council voted and passed the policy change allowing openly gay members, which took effect January 1, 2014.With policy changes aside, BSA is a youth development organization which provides programs that build character, and trains in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness.
“At first, I became a boy scout because I had a friend that had convinced me, but the more time I spent with the troop, the more I loved it. I stayed in the Scouts because I love working with my hands, camping, hiking, I enjoyed the responsibilities given to me, it gave me a sense of unconditional belonging and brotherhood,” said Steven Sims, sophomore Elizabeth Sims’ brother.
Sims hasn’t been in the Boy Scouts for two years, but he was a gay member of the Boy Scouts while it was not openly accepted.
Many gay members of the BSA considered their removal from the organization to be the worst case scenario. However for some cases there were troops that allowed openly gay members before the BSA National Council changed the policy.
“I knew I would have never been kept out or booted for my preference [sexual orientation], and maybe that was just my troop, but I knew many boys that were openly gay in the Scouts long before this decision,” said Sims.
However, since the policy change took effect, members of the Boy Scouts are allowed to publicly classify themselves as gay without fearing removal from the program.
This change makes it easier for boys to feel comfortable joining an organization where some members identify as gay.
Previous Boy Scout sophomore Glenn Rose said, “I don’t know anyone who was gay and wanted to be in Scouts but I do know plenty of gay people who were mad about being excluded, so I’m sure this will change the attitude of people towards the organization.”
Even though this decision will hopefully draw more people to joining Boy Scouts, the decision has also pushed people away.
Ever since the decision, the Boy Scouts has lost close to 6% of its members. Though it is not explicitly stated that the loss of membership is because of the policy change, the loss of members came at the same time of the change.
While members of the BSA are still grasping the new policy change, Girl Scouts of the USA already deny discrimination and don’t allow personal matters, like sexual orientation, to determine membership.
Girl Scout Rayven Davis said, “All types of people are accepted by the Girl Scouts regardless of their religious background, race or, to my knowledge, sexual orientation.”
The Girl Scouts seem to be in a better place when it comes to the acceptance of members compared to the BSA, because, even though the BSA policy change is considered a victory for gay rights, there are still some negatives.
“The Scouts still don’t allow gay scoutmasters because they’re worried about them being attracted to children. So the attitude toward the gay community hasn’t changed enough for me to be too happy about this but we’re getting there,” said Rose.
The policy change does not fix everything, but it is considered a good start for the BSA. Rose is appreciative of what the Boy Scouts did for him and hopes others can have great experiences as well. Rose said, “I’m glad to see the organization that gave me so much is opening its doors.”