Category: News

Men’s tennis advances in ODACs

Staff Writer

The men’s tennis team started their journey to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championships on Saturday with a win in the quarterfinals against Roanoke College. With this victory, the team has sealed a place in the semifinals on April 26 against Guilford College, and are looking to bring the championship title home for the first time in program history.
“I think this win gives us a lot of confidence,” said sophomore Spenser Bullock. “The teams that we did lose to during the regular season were really tough opponents.”
The only loss Wesleyan faced in the ODAC was to nationally-ranked Washington and Lee University.
“I think that match isn’t totally relevant anymore,” said sophomore Drew Tomajczyk. “We were all kind of ‘off’ for that match, probably due to lack of preparation.”
The other three losses came from Christopher Newport University, Illinois-based Knox College and Ohio-based Otterbein University.
“I think it’s good that the only matches we’ve lost so far are to nationally-ranked teams,” said sophomore Graham Wilson.
The Marlins are more than ready to fight in this tournament and look to put it all on the line to try to gain their first conference title in VWC history.
“That’s what everyone on our team is shooting for and I think we’ll get there,” said Bullock.
“We’ve come a long way through the whole season,” said Tomajczyk, “I expect to make it to the finals and to draw blood from Washington and Lee.”
After last season, there was a coaching change and new freshmen were brought in. This has given this men’s team a spark that doesn’t seem to be about to go away.
a lot more confident in their abilities, which translated into better on-court play,” said Bullock.
Head Coach Darryl Cummings has brought life to this once-struggling program, and has been very instrumental in the success of the team.
“I was aware of the talent level within the program, and believed there was significant opportunity to develop the program,” said Cummings.
He not only has whipped his old players into shape, but also has brought in key freshmen to rise to the occasion. These freshmen cracked the top six line-up, and the older teammates have appreciated their much-needed talent.
“Our incoming freshmen have helped tremendously,” said Wilson.
Kenneth Downing and Brendan Kelleher are two freshmen who have really shown talent on the court. The pair is consistently part of the line-up both in doubles and singles. The players all have high expectations of every person on the roster as post-season play begins.
“I am sure they will have a lot of energy and will represent Virginia Wesleyan College well,” said Cummings.
“We’ll definitely have to be on our A-games,” said Tomajczyk “We can’t take our opponents for granted.”

“I think we all have to come out there and play our best tennis,” said Wilson.

The new freshmen, the new coach and the consistent play of everyone on the team have given the team a second seed going into the ODAC tournament. With expectations and confidence high, they are on track to succeed.

Blue Marlin Scholarship increases applicant pool

Aoife Branco
News Editor

Once solely available to freshman students, The Blue Marlin Scholarship is going to be available to all students who meet the requirements, starting in the fall of 2014.
“It would be beneficial if it came out in the fall and seniors could apply and it could be implemented in their spring tuition,” said senior Jasmine Rivera.
In the past, Virginia Wesleyan College awarded this scholarship to deserving freshmen each spring semester. The increased application pool widens the potential benefits the scholarship provides for students.
“I will take advantage of the scholarship because as students it is hard to get financial aid that we need to continue enrollment in college,” said junior Karim Kerr.
However, not all members of the student body are appreciative of the scholarship’s being offered to all students at VWC.
“It was hard enough to fight for the scholarship as a freshman versus other freshmen, and now we have to fight with the whole school,” said sophomore Dani Profitt. “It’s not fair. We need more scholarships.”
The scholarships awarded range anywhere from $500-$2,000 based on academic performance, financial need and extracurricular involvement.
In order to be eligible for the scholarship, students must be full-time, degree-seeking, day students having completed 12 credit hours, have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher, and have demonstrated a financial need.
Now that the scholarship is available to all students, the competition for being awarded the scholarship will increase tenfold.

Food trucks are rolling in

Aoife Branco
News Editor

It’s 11 p.m. on a Sunday night. You’ve been awake all day, cooped up in the library and your friend who has a car has already gone to get food. The Caf has been closed for hours and the Grille won’t be open again until tomorrow.The dull growl coming from your stomach is only getting worse and you still have two papers to write. For many students, this grim reality is a direct consequence of the school’s contract with Sodexo, which provides limited hours of service.
However, within the next few weeks, the plight of the hungry Wesleyan student will finally be diminsihed Student Government Association (SGA) has been working with various restaurants in the area to begin providing food trucks on campus during the weekends.
“We are working with a few places to get some options,” said junior and SGA Vice President Thomas Mills. “Right now we are trying to get the trucks here before graduation and see how it goes.”
The drive behind this movement stems directly from student opinions, mostly collected by SGA in their student comment boxes outside the cafeteria.a
“We just listened to student feedback about the lack of food options and we just moved forward from there,” said senior SGA President Steven Bond.
Students like the idea, but there are still a lot of questions.
“I like the idea a lot,” said junior Amari Agee. “But I would like to know what the prices are and what hours they would be available.”
Currently, there are three vendors interested in coming on campus.
“We are looking at a breakfast truck that will sell, obviously, breakfast food, a wrap place, and a taco place that specializes in fish tacos,” said Mills.

lege’s conglomerate vendor, Sodexo.

“Sodexo is fine with the trucks because they will be serving after Sodexo closes,” said Mills. “They would theoretically start serving after 7pm so it would be after everything Sodexo runs closes.”

Students seem to agree that the addition of food trucks would be a benefit for the school. The presence of another food source on campus might also help attract freshman and provide current students with another reason to stay.

“I think that the addition of food trucks on campus will enormously benefit students who may not be able to make it to normal meal times or Grille hours like students who work or have a lot of night classes,” said sophomore Maria Marinelli. “It will encourage students who tend to party on the weekends to not drive under the influence just to get some late night snacks.”

“I think its a great idea to give students and later faculty a variety of good choices,” said junior Owen James.

The praise continues about the food trucks because of the diversity of food options that they would bring to campus. The low stock of choices currently available has been begrudging many students who live on campus.

“Food Trucks will bring more diversity to a growing, diverse campus,” said senior Kyle Wimbrough. “As for sporting events, it’ll allow not just the VWC community to enjoy but others. Traditions start on weekends so let’s start a new one for future Marlins to enjoy.”

The location of the trucks when they come on campus is still up for debate.

“We are trying to figure that out,” said Mills. “Right now we are trying to decide between village III or village IV parking lots and the middle of campus by the library and the giant adirondack chair. I think it will depend on how the first couple of nights go.”

Regardless of the sentiment, the trucks are definitely coming to campus soon.
“We are starting this out as a trial basis to see how it works,” said Mills. “We are going to start with the next few weeks and see how it works and hopefully carry it into the fall semester.”

The United States of Cuba?

Staff Writer

The U.S. government has orchestrated a covert operation to overthrow communist Cuba: a Cuban Twitter. Beginning in 2010, a Washington-based firm was contracted by the U.S. government to create a Twitter-like network called ZunZuneo.
ZunZuneo, now shut down, was very primitive. The name for this site was even a play on Twitter ZunZuneo is a slang term for an island hummingbird. It was a cell-phone-based program with which Cuban users could communicate outside of the country’s strict Internet restrictions. The program never attained critical mass, but before being shut down it had more than 40,000 users. Starting with non-controversial content such as soccer, popular music and weather updates, creators of the site intended to build a strong user base of hundreds of thousands of subscribers before introducing more political content. The Associated Press interviewed people directly involved in the project and obtained documents concerning it.
The documents show that the Obama administration had several controversial plans for the microblogging site. Similar protests have been happening organically in countries such as Moldova and the Philippines. This content would be used to incite “smart mobs,” or gatherings organized abruptly through the use of social media and smart devices, that could lead to an uprising against the Cuban government.
The U.S. government officials behind the project were surprisingly not from the CIA, but from the U.S. Agency for International Development (the USAID), an agency usually in charge of overseeing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid. Hidden bank accounts were set up in the Cayman Islands, and executives were hired who were not aware of Creative Associates International’s ties with the American government. Dr. Leslie Caughell is an assistant professor of Political Science at Virginia Wesleyan and had her own views on the program.
“My overall impression of this situation is that discussion about it will fade quickly, despite the fact that this discussion may be slightly embarrassing to the Obama administration,” said Caughell. “Still, what interests me most about this situation is the possible use of social media as a covert tool. Given the centrality of social media during the Arab Spring and its growing global penetration, social media may very well be an important tool used by governments to advance their interests, overtly or covertly. How much has changed since a poisoned cigar seemed like the most sophisticated tool in the U.S. arsenal!”
On Apr. 10, the Senate committee for foreign relations demanded that the USAID hand over all records pertaining to the Obama administration’s program. This action is part of a broad review of the agency’s humanitarian efforts globally. Subscribers to the social networking site were never aware that the U.S. government transmitted messages to subscribers or that they intended to undermine the communist state. Cuban users were also unaware that having subscribed to this programgram meant that the U.S. government was collecting all of their personal information.
The USAID claims that it had humanitarian motives. In Cuba, the Internet is heavily controlled and regulated by a communist regime and citizens don’t have authority over what they can access on the Internet. Released statements conveyed that ZunZuneo was providing a way for Cubans to communicate outside the Internet barriers currently in place, promoting democracy. The U.S. government also claimed that the program was not exactly covert, but rather “discreet,” because it was placed under congressional oversight in 2008. Many critics of this program believe this is merely a front, that the U.S. was just trying to gain a political foothold in yet another unstable nation, and that the U.S. government is reverting to practices of the Cold War. The U.S. government originally released statements saying that its political position was always neutral, but The Associated Press has since found that draft messages produced for the program were overtly political and slanted.

“I believe that this another classic case of the U.S. playing the ‘my horse is bigger than yours’ game, and frankly, it is pathetic. The volition to preserve human rights may be a component, but I honestly think it was a secondary,” sophomore Isis Percell, an international relations major stated. “I don’t think a specific sovereign state should have the right to make choices like creating a covert program on their own, like the U.S. did in this case. There’s a reason why the UN exists. If the problems in Cuba were really that large, I would have rather the U.S. brought this up at an international summit.”

This situation only reinforces the poor reputation earned by privacy-infringing tactics after the National Security Agency scandal last year and recent cyberattacks on a Chinese telecommunications firm. Critics distrustfully eye the USAID as the CIA’s “junior partner” in covert programs. U.S. taxpayers, let alone all the foreign banks and servers unknowingly involved, are not happy with AP’s allegations against the U.S. government.
“I can’t say where the line should be drawn, or when the U.S. is going too far in attempting to achieve its foreign policy goals with such programs, either public or covert,” said Caughell. “I truly believe this is for the American public and their representatives in Congress to decide. However, it is worth thinking how American citizens would respond if they found out that an organization paid by the Russians or Iranians engaged in an equivalent program aimed at engaged American citizens. It’s tough to balance national strategic interests and moral values, but Americans should be having conversations about balancing these interests.”

Colorado legalizes marijuana, implements tax

Molly Fanney
Staff Writer

When cannabis, also known as marijuana, pot, or weed, was legalized in the state of Colorado last November, new tax legislation had to be created to regulate the recreational cannabis industry. When the law was finally put to work on Jan. 1, 2014, and people began to buy and sell the product, the state raked in more than $2 million from taxes on non-medical marijuana, adding up to a total of $3.5 million when including medical marijuana. Economists disagree over whether this new situation spells financial splendor for the state, or if the complex variables involved in legalizing a controlled substance will prevent the herb from making serious profit for Colorado.
Since only 37 dispensaries were open in the entire state during the first week of the new year, the rest of the country was stunned that Colorado managed to sell $5 million worth of marijuana in only seven days. Colorado’s Director of Finance Barbara Brohl said, “The first month of sales for recreational marijuana fell in line with expectations,” according to the Huffington Post, a news website. That expected amount of revenue came out to $14 million.
In November 2013, two tax levies were approved by voters: a 10 percent special sales tax and a 15 percent excise tax. There are also application and license fees for those over 21 years old who want to legally purchase marijuana. This initial surge in sales has tapered off, but economists project that Colorado’s sales will stay at a level of consistent growth, since there are now more than 150 recreational dispensaries in business. Recreational marijuana was also legalized in Washington state, but is not predicted to be sold until summer.
Those with a long-standing belief in the legalization of pot agree that regulated sale of the plant would drive down production costs and retail prices. According to Bloomberg, a financial news website, it is projected that the availability of “cheaper, legal cannabis would generate precious tax revenue and refocus drug enforcement efforts on more socially harmful narcotics such as cocaine, heroin, and crystal meth.”

Destiny Barnes is a sophomore and a business major. She wants to be an accountant after she graduates. “When it comes to commodities, it is historically cheaper to produce them when you are able to grow them outdoors. Legalization could cause a serious plummet in production costs.”
A huge road block for high tax revenue will be the fact that Colorado is currently the only state selling recreational pot, and is one of less than half of the states that have legalized medical weed. Other factors such as state tax policies and the shifting behavior of buyers and sellers could also cause revenue to be lower than expected. At $400, the price for an ounce of commercial-grade pot is more than double the price for medical-grade.
“This market is fairly new; there are only so many shops that have opened since January. Also, people who believe in legalized marijuana have been waiting for a very long time to buy it legally. The inflated prices are likely to change,” said Barnes.
People are also more likely to pay more for a higher-quality product. At dispensaries, smokers are able to choose from hundreds of variations of marijuana that have different levels of medical qualities and cause different kinds of highs.
An anonymous source said, “That’s how it is here, buying off the black market. I would pay way more any day for a better-quality bud because it seriously makes a difference in your experience. I personally use it for anxiety and stress and sometimes just for fun with my friends, so I would be willing to throw in a little more cash if I could buy a strand that specifically helped with anxiety.”
Today, 20 states in the U.S. have legalized medical cannabis. Florida is voting to legalize it in November, and New York and Georgia are currently considering its legalization. At the beginning of March, the District of Columbia officially decriminalized the possession of small amounts of weed. Oregon and Alaska, on the other hand, are expected to follow the trend of Colorado and Washington, and will have cannabis legalization on the ballot in 2014. This increase of loosening legislation on pot has also influenced the overall public view of legalization.
More than 70 percent of the American population supports legal medical cannabis, including the more conservative South. In the short time span that recreational cannabis has been legal in the U.S., public opinion has swung sharply in favor of loosening cannabis legislation. A CNN/ORC international survey stated that 55 percent of those surveyed supported legalization and 44 percent opposed it. National polls shifted positively 10 percent; that shift is projected to continue to climb.

New director of student activities

Aoife Branco
News Editor

After the abrupt departure of Jenn Mitchell from the college, more than 62 faculty, staff and students interviewed the potential candidates for the vacant position of director of student activities, and finally selected Kate Polivka to fill the position.
“Kate is a nice fit for Virginia Wesleyan College,” said Director of Community Service Diane Hotaling. “She is student-focused, with an emphasis on leadership development. She has the education and training to do the job well. Her experiences in Student Activities are similar enough to how we do things that she’ll fit right in, but different enough to grow the office in new and exciting ways.”
After Mitchell separated from the college, the school set out on a national search that led to a total of 98 applicants. Ten individuals from this pool of applicants were selected for phone interviews, and from there, four people were invited to campus for interviews. Polivka was one of those candidates.
“Kate was my favorite of the four candidates that came to campus,” said junior Heather Killian. “I think she is very qualified for the position. She seems to relate well with the students; she was also very professional when interacting with us throughout our meeting with her. She was very personable and fun.”
Polivka comes to VWC from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. A native of southeastern Virginia, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Geology and her Master of Science in Higher Education from Old Dominion University.
“What really stood out to me the most was the depth of her ownership and understanding of the role of a Student Affairs professional,” said Hotaling.
Polivka has been involved in the field of higher education for 10 years in the areas of orientation, career counseling and residence life, at Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Christopher Newport University.
“Polivka was the overwhelming choice of the committee and she has outstanding qualifications,” said Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Enrollment Services David Buckingham. “Equally as important is Kate’s personality. She has excellent communication skills and a very positive disposition which were quite apparent to all of us who met and spoke to her approximately one week ago.”
At Trinity University, Polivka was the assistant director of campus and community involvement. In that position, she coordinated orientation and leadership development.
“Another thing that stood out was that it seemed like she would give students the freedom to do the events that they want to do, which is good because it is the STUDENT activities office, and the Wesleyan activities council is a board of students,” said Killian.
Polivka will begin her new responsibilities on June 1, 2014.