Category: News

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.

@AdultConfession757 ruffles a few feathers

Aoife Branco
News Editor

“OMG you are so right. That b**** got no life #forrealdoe,” says one post. “ __ is so attractive. I would wife that boy up,” said another. “__attracts the ugliest girls on campus,” said yet another.
Both rueful and raunchy, these and other anonymous tweets have popped up on “Adult Confession 757,” a Twitter page that was unofficially linked to Virginia Wesleyan College. It contained posts that were exclusively about VWC students or organizations.
This page popped up on Twitter a little over a month ago, and within days had more than 300 followers and 75 tweets.
“It’s nice for students to be able to have a means to communicate as a community, and I think it’s great that social media is that outlet,” said Director of Batten Center and Recreational Sports Jason Seward. “When it is used properly, ‘properly’ being the keyword here, it is a really effective way of communicating to bring a community together.”
In the Twitter page bio, there was a link to the website, a social media platform that allows people to anonymously submit questions or statements to various accounts on the site.
The people running the page received the submitted statements from students and then selected which “confessions” made their way onto the Twitter feed.
“At first I thought it was weird,” said junior Jessica Wood. “Now, after it’s been up for a while I still think it’s really hilarious.”
However, not all students thought the page was as simple as it claimed to be.
“It’s pretty scary,” said sophomore Gabe Higgins. “It definitely hurt people and I don’t really think they understood what they were doing. It got past the point of the original idea that it was supposed to be, and morphed into an anonymous cyber-bullying account.”
“I think that ‘VWC Confess’ started as a harmless posting board for students to communicate confessions, that was spiraling out of control,” said Seward. “What has been posted has negatively impacted this campus and affected a number of students, faculty, staff, parents and other community members. The anonymous comments are disgusting, they are tasteless, and they are what I call a virus among our community.”
The page’s name was “VWC Confess” at first, and was changed, according to a tweet sent out by the account, “due to pressure from administration.”
“We were not involved in asking the page to change its name,” said Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Enrollment Services David Buckingham. “However, from what I heard, the Tweets are offensive, vulgar, untrue, and crude. It was an attempt to be funny that didn’t reach its goal.”
Currently, the Twitter page has been shut down. The account sent out tweets that stated it was due to the administration of VWC. However, the school was not aware the page was shut down.
“We were working with Twitter to figure out who was running the account, but we hadn’t heard from them. At this point, that is all the info I have,” said Seward. “I wasn’t even aware that it was removed until this afternoon.”
According to Twitter’s rules section, “You may not engage in targeted abuse or harassment. Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be targeted abuse or harassment are: if you are sending messages to a user from multiple accounts; if the sole purpose of your account is to send abusive messages to others; if the reported behavior is one-sided or includes threats.”
A number of students have sought counseling because of comments made about them on the page.
“I think the best word to describe is ‘hostile.’ I would definitely consider it a form of bullying,” said Associate Director of Student Counseling Marea Hyman. “I think it negates the sense of community that we have here on campus, and perhaps the bigger issue is the lack of communication skills that our society has as a whole. We have become such an electronic society, with little face-to-face contact, which is essential in being able to communicate most effectively. I could go on and on about social media sites encouraging folks to express hostility and rage, rather than working toward a goal or resolving a conflict.”
Students have voiced varying opinions about the page’s being taken down.
“I thought it was interesting how the page claimed to be a ‘confessions’ page, yet instead, the majority of the posts were opinionated comments from people who obviously took advantage of the site’s anonymity to say rude things that they would never say to the faces of the people they posted about,” said junior Amari Agee. “Just a true testament to the realization that enrolling in college doesn’t make everyone a mature adult.”
“I think the page being taken down helps avoid drama and tense situations amongst the student body. The page enabled people to say possibly hurtful things because they had the ability to hide behind the security of it being completely anonymous,” said a sophomore who wished to remain anonymous.
However, not all students are happy the page was shut down.
“Honestly, I found the Twitter confessions page to be interesting and caught myself checking it throughout the day,” said junior Andrew Petrey. “Being a commuter, it gave me insight on things back on campus.”
“I am kind of glad the page was created so the school can see everything that it’s doing wrong, but I’m happy it got taken down because it was getting out of control,” said junior Estelle Goli.
Regardless of the sentiment, the page has left a strong impact on campus.
“Things like this are so fleeting, here today and gone tomorrow,” said Buckingham. “No good can come of this if its is hurting so many people. When something like this persists, we have to stand up and say ‘No, this is not who we are.’”

New century, new military

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

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

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.”