Category: Local

Norfolk slated for outlet mall

AOIFE BRANCO
News Editor

Nike, The North Face, Michael Kors. These are just some of the many designer brands that have outlets in Williamsburg. Soon, these brands could call Northampton Boulevard home. In January, Simon Property Group Inc., the country’s largest owner of malls and outlet centers, announced plans to redevelop the Lake Wright Golf Course property and transform it into Simon’s second Premium Outlets mall in Hampton Roads.
As of Feb. 6, Simon had not announced any specific retailers. However, Wesleyan students have their opinions about what should be included.
“Having an outlet mall so close is really exciting!” said freshman Taylor Simon. “I would love to see outdoorsy kind of stores like The North Face or L.L. Bean.”
According to Simon Property Group Inc.’s proposal, the company plans to invest about $75 million into building the 90-store mall. The project would bring 800 permanent jobs and 300 construction jobs to the area.
“I think these outlets will be great for students,” said Director of Tutoring Genai Hill. “I myself am not a big outlet mall shopper, but I think the job opportunities will be wonderful for students who are looking for work close by.”
This project will be the most significant retail development in Norfolk since Macarthur Mall was built in 1999. Construction is slated to begin in August of this year and to be completed in August of 2015.
“We are already in construction mode around here,” said Hill. “We might as well just keep on going for another year!”
However, not all students are excited about having another mall so close to campus.
“I do like the idea, but we have JANAF right around the corner of the school and I think it is counterproductive,” said sophomore Erin Combs. “I mean it all really depends what they put in there. I just feel like everywhere else is already so close.”
Aside from the mall itself, Simon Property Inc. plans on creating up to 65 acres of green space, to include at least two retention ponds, walking trails, a possible amphitheater to host open-air music concerts, picnic areas and boat rentals.
“When I think outlet mall, I tend not to think about green space at all,” said junior Kelly Jacobson. “Setting aside an area for human use is still less beneficial to the environment than letting it be on its own in its natural state, untouched. It could go both ways. From an environmental perspective, nothing good comes from malls. But, it is better than just building a mall and not thinking of the environment at all.”
Regardless of students’ opinions, the outlets are coming. More information about retailers will be printed as it becomes available.

New tolls affect professors, commuters

EMILY GIBSON
Staff Writer

One dollar can buy a bagel, a cup of convenience store coffee, a morning newspaper or, since Feb. 1, your morning commute.
The Downtown and Midtown tunnels are imposing a $1 toll during peak travel hours. The revenue collected from the tunnels’ daily total of 125,000 drivers is going to build a new, two-lane tunnel adjacent to the current Midtown Tunnel, rehabilitate both the Midtown and Downtown tunnels and extend the Martin Luther King Freeway from London Boulevard to Interstate 264.
“Like everyone else, I don’t like [the tolls] very much, but they are good, in a sense,” said sophomore Forrest Teague. “Our roads are terrible. People complain about them but don’t want real taxes on us to help fix them, so these tolls will solve that.”
The tolls will be paid electronically rather than by the conventional tollbooth method.
A driver can pay either with an E-ZPass, or with “Pay By Plate,” a technology that scans the driver’s license plate and then invoices the driver to a registered account, or recognizes an unregistered driver.
Drivers with the E-ZPass pay 75 cents during non-peak travel hours and $1 during peak travel hours, whereas drivers with a registered “Pay By Plate” account will pay $1.50 during non-peak travel hours and $1.75 during peak travel hours because of the 75-cent processing fee for not having an E-ZPass. Unregistered “Pay By Plate” drivers will have to pay $2.25 during non-peak travel hours and $2.50 during peak travel hours. Peak travel hours are from 5:30 a.m to 9 a.m and from 2:30 p.m to 7 p.m. All other hours are non-peak.
The toll will increase by 25 cents in 2015, then by 25 more cents in 2016, the year that the extension of the Midtown Tunnel is set to open. After the opening of the new tunnel, the toll cost will be determined by an agreement between the Virginia Department of Transportation and the company in charge of the project, Elizabeth River Crossings.
“They did the tolls in a smart way because it is electronic and you don’t have to stop and pay,” said Teague. “If they had made you stop to pay, there would have been a huge uproar because the traffic is already bad enough.”
However, many Hampton Roads residents protested the tolls, and are currently boycotting the tunnels and the businesses that are located on the other side of the tunnels from where they live. For those not willing to boycott everything on the opposite side of the river from them but not wishing to pay for crossing it, there are several free options, including the Gilmerton Bridge and the High Rise Bridge on Interstate 64. On the first day of the tolls, the tunnels saw roughly 1,000 fewer cars per hour during peak hours.
“The senseless thing is that people avoid tolls like the black plague,” said senior Samuel Ajibola. “Ease of transport increases commerce, commerce increases tax revenue. This is why cities with freer transportation laws make more money.” Still, though, the tolls are set to remain in place until about 2070, when the cost of the $2.1 billion project will be covered.

Strategic plan maps out college funding

Jessica Hauser
Staff Writer

Virginia Wesleyan College’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee (SPSC) expects to implement its new strategic plan addressing concerns about the condition of campus facilities in the fall of 2014.
Laynee Timlin, director of Strategic Planning, said the 3-year interim plan, now in its third year, was developed by a 27-member committee. The plan emphasizes six priorities for strategic planning, which include facilities and infrastructure, as well as financial stability of the college.
“These are areas we have to think strategically about—how to make the best use of the funds we have,” said Timlin. “The purpose of the committee is to identify goals, so we can make good decisions for the future.”
The new action plan consisted of several phases, one of which was to reach out to stakeholders and learn which variables affecting VWC’s academic and financial success needed further research and which ones should take priority.
During this phase, students were included in focus groups, a community forum, individual meetings and were invited to take a survey to evaluate the college’s strengths and weaknesses. Timlin said that the quality of the facilities was a major concern for many students.
Vice President of Finance Cary Sawyer said students are encouraged to voice any concerns to their department heads and student representatives. Those comments and concerns will be considered during budget planning.
“SGA is not shy about coming to us with ideas,” said Sawyer. “Get ideas on the table. If we can’t fund them now, maybe we can in the future.”
Sawyer also noted that SGA is currently working to get new supplies in the residential townhouses and to find local restaurants that will accept students’ VWC meal card as payment.
But this raises questions about what issues are given priority when it comes to the money that is available.
“I lived in the dorms for three years,” said senior theatre major Gabbie Mokol. “There was mold everywhere, there was no ventilation and none of the fans worked.” She said she was relieved when she got the opportunity to move off campus. Other student concerns included broken and missing materials from organizations such as RecX, non-working appliances in the dorms and rising prices of food available in the Grille.
“Sometimes, there just aren’t enough budget dollars to fund all departments. We try to be upfront and provide the best service that we can. It’s a thoughtful process as we try to fit the need and do the right thing for the most people,” said Sawyer.
He said that although the college recently extended its contract with Sodexo during the renovation of the dining hall in the summer of 2011, the increase in the price of food is a result of inflation in food cost rather than the extended contract.
Timlin said that the new strategic plan addresses the future goals for creating additional revenue for the college facilities.
According to the Virginia Wesleyan College Strategic Planning Concept Paper completed by the SPSC in September 2013, there are four sources from which revenue is generated: enrollment, annual draw from endowment, gifts, grants and pledges and other miscellaneous income.
Although enrollment has increased by approximately 200 students over the last two years and tuition costs have increased by a net of 1.5 %, the college has only experienced modest increases in net surplus income because the amount of financial aid awarded has increased in order to achieve desired enrollment.
Sawyer said that this surplus is used for future needs of the college and invested for campus facilities such as the renovation of the dining hall.
The paper reads that salary, benefits and wages make up 63% of the college’s expenditures while supplies and equipment make up a total of 5%. Wage increases for faculty and staff resumed in 2012 after a three-year halt, the cost of employee benefits and healthcare increased, and “there have been very few additional funds available to meeting additional operating needs or to fund deferred maintenance.”
Sawyer said that 70% of the annual spending draw of the college’s endowment, which has recovered in recent years from $38 million to $52 million, is used to fund scholarships while the remainder of the endowment goes to operating needs.
Although recent economic unrest has caused donations to thin, the college completed The Key to the Future Campaign in 2009, raising a total of $53 million in gifts and pledges to be paid throughout a number of years.
Fundraising is currently underway to continue to improve facilities and infrastructure, according to the concept paper. Generous donations have been made as challenge grants for the building of a new fine arts building and improvements to the social science lab.
“These projects depend on donors and gifts, and we have to borrow from the bank, resulting in debt service cost,” said Sawyer. “They depend on the source of the funds whereas operating funds are funded annually.” Debt service cost currently accounts for 6.9% of the college’s annual expenditures.
Another priority for future funding is to upgrade athletic facilities.
“Our athletic program drives school spirit,” said Sawyer, and the SPSC’s research showed that 45% of top academic students are student athletes.
Although the college depends on fundraising in order to address these needs, it is becoming more challenging because organizations are more selective about donations.
According to the SPSC’s concept paper, “one factor that will be required of all future fundraising and grant application efforts is diligence by the college in meeting our funders’ goals and providing greater accountability to our donors/grantors for how funds are expended. No longer will it be sufficient to say we are ‘doing good work.’”
The new strategic plan is on track for submission to the board and greater community in January 2014 and implementation in June 2014. It is a comprehensive five-year plan intended to extend to 2020.

Fertilization front-runner leads lecture

KAITLYN DOZIER
Editor-in-Chief

Dr. Howard W. Jones, Jr., professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology at the Eastern Virginia Medical School, spoke on campus last Thursday on the debate over personhood and reproductive technology. The event marked the inaugural presentation of the Justine L. Nusbaum Lectureship in VWC’s Center for the Study of Religious Freedom (CSRF).
“How often do you get to sit in the same room as someone as brilliant as Dr. Jones? Especially at the age of 102, it’s really incredible,” said senior biology major Brittany Popp. “I enjoyed listening to the personal story of his journey and learned a bit more about the struggles he had in practicing in vitro fertilization. The lecture made me even more excited to start my career.”
More than 60 students, faculty and visitors gathered in the Pearce Hospitality Suite on Sept. 26, leaving standing room only by the noon start time. CSRF Director Paul Rasor, J.D., Ph.D. introduced Jones and his lecture, “When Did You Become a Person?”
“We invited Dr. Jones at the suggestion of Bob Nusbaum, who was chair of the board of directors of the Jones Institute for Reproductive Technology for many years,” said Rasor in an interview. “Bob and his brother established the Justine L. Nusbaum Lecture series, and his close relationship with the Jones Institute made Dr. Jones the ideal speaker for the inaugural lecture.”
Sitting behind a table in a motorized wheelchair, the 102-year-old Jones interacted with the crowd in a conversational manner.
“I attended the lecture because I thought it would be an opportunity that I would not be presented with again,” said senior Nicolletta Cuthbert. “Knowing what he had accomplished in his life, I knew I would be in the presence of a brilliant man and felt that it was a great learning experience.”
Jones’ arrival at VWC came almost three decades after his late wife, Dr. Georgeanna Jones, gave the keynote speech at the 1984 Spring Convocation. The couple was the driving force behind establishing the EVMS program that produced the nation’s first in vitro fertilization (IVF) birth in 1981.
“All of the things we’re talking about today are of biological interest,” Jones said as he outlined the secular timelines of personhood, from fertilization to birth. “The point I’m trying to make is that this issue is alive and well.”
Jones supports the notion that life begins when survival is possible outside of the womb, after the development of a heartbeat and fetal brain waves. Anti-abortion legislation seeking to define personhood at conception and provide legal rights to embryos could directly hinder the progress of fertilization treatments.
The contentious issue has been an integral part of Jones’ work ever since he received his M.D. from the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University in 1935. Both Jones and his wife served at Johns Hopkins before coming to Norfolk in 1978.
Jones and his wife were drawn to this area to be with their good friend, physician Mason Andrews. The goal was to stay for three years to establish a vision for what is now called reproductive medicine. On the drive down, the couple learned that a caesarean section performed in England had resulted in the birth of the world’s first IVF baby.
Upon arriving to their new home in Norfolk, Jones was approached by a reporter from The Ledger Star who was sent at Andrews’ prompting. In between unpacking boxes, Jones and his wife yielded questions for a news story on the groundbreaking birth.
“At the end of the story, she [journalist Julia Wallace] wrote that doctors say this could be done in Norfolk if we had some money,” Jones said.
“We got a call the next day asking how much we needed.”
The donation sparked the planning for the nation’s first IVF clinic, just three days after the Jones’ arrival in Norfolk.
Three years later on Dec. 28, 1981, the United States’ first in vitro baby was born. And three years after that success, Jones and his wife received a letter from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, inviting them to the Vatican to advise Pope John Paul II on whether IVF should be an option available to the Catholic community.
They were the only American gynecologists present at the three-day meeting that established the Roman Catholic Church’s current doctrine deeming IVF to be illicit, a decision not supported by Jones and his wife.
“Dr. Jones was a great speaker as he was captivating and his subject matter was interesting,” said Cuthbert. “I learned a lot about the ethical dilemmas and debates that occurred because of Dr. Jones’ plans to attempt in vitro fertilization. It was very interesting to see the challenges that he encountered because he was attempting something that would be against many religious beliefs.”
With his 103rd birthday approaching in three months, Jones maintains his enthusiastic passion for curbing personhood bills and educating others on reproductive issues. He has written 11 books, is in the process of finishing his twelfth, and still spends time working at the Howard and Georgeanna Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine at EVMS.
“I believe IVF is not a mature topic and there are still things to do,” said Jones. “IVF is a developing subject and personhood is an issue of current interest because of efforts made to legalize it.”
“The presentation was wonderful,” said Rasor. “Dr. Jones was informative and entertaining, and the audience was very responsive. We were especially pleased by the size of the audience and by the mix of students, faculty and staff and community people. We expected it to be excellent, and it was even better than we expected.”

Title IX: Addressing sexual misconduct

Members of the men’s soccer team listen to the Title IX presentation.

JESSICA MACKEY
Staff Writer

Recent changes to Title IX mean important new information about sexual misconduct for students and faculty alike. It’s not just for sports anymore.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) prohibits discrimination based on sex in any educational program or activity that receives financial support from the Federal government.
Under Title IX, discrimination based on sex includes sexual harassment, sexual violence, and sexual assault. The new changes also prohibit retaliation against individuals who complain about or participate in an investigation regarding an alleged Title IX violation.
Additionally, under Title IX schools are required to have a Deputy Title IX Coordinator. Virginia Wesleyan has two: McCarren Caputa, associate dean of students for residence life and deputy Title IX coordinator, and Jason Seward, dean of freshmen, director of Jane P. Batten Student Center and deputy Title IX coordinator.
“The role of a Deputy Title IX Coordinator is to educate and train the VWC community about responses and [to] investigate all claims that come forward,” said Seward.
In compliance with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights’ mandate that all college and universities in the United States provide information and resources available to students regarding the changes in Title IX, VWC has made improvements upon previous systems already in place to combat sexual misconduct cases.
“The college has always been taking sexual misconduct cases very seriously,” said Caputa.
“However, [the college] has made defining terms and actions clearer, made reporting easier, and hearing cases has been improved by removing students from the panel,” said Seward. “[Such changes] increase overall privacy for both parties involved,” said Seward.
“The College will support you in a sexual assault, if you find yourself in that situation,” said David Buckingham, vice president of student affairs and dean of Enrollment Services.
In fact, Seward and Caputa think that the new policy changes impact on the campus community will be bigger impact than we will ever know. However, predicts that there will be a spike in the number of cases in the first years of the program, but overtime numbers will decline because it’s not happening on campus.
“The impact of Title IX on VWC will be that we will have a campus that is aware, not only of the law and not only of VWC policy,” said Seward.

“We will have a campus that watches out for each other and becomes part of the community.”

“We will get more reports, for VWC is no exception,” said Caputa. “Title IX and sexual misconduct are not talked about enough and the campus needs to be educated about procedures, and maybe then VWC can become the exception.”
There have been reports that only members of Greek life and sports team will have to sit through additional meetings, or discussions, about Title IX. This is not necessarily the case.
“A variety of student groups and staff groups have [sat] through Title IX educational meetings, including security, library staff, faculty and divisions of student affairs,” said Seward.
According to national statistics, fraternities and male sports teams are the student groups most likely to act as the perpetrators of sexual misconduct cases; however, such trends do not necessarily indicate that VWC is in line with the national standards.
“Since this is the case, smaller sessions in intimate settings, in a group tank [it] allows for character assessments and possibly allows the male organizations on campus to come up with campaigns to change the norm,” said Seward.

Marlins rock the vote

STEVEN BOND
Staff Writer

Freshmen did not just gather together in front of Village 1 on Aug. 21, 2013 for food and drinks, carnival rides and a live band. They also had the opportunity to start exercising their civic duty by registering to vote. At the Freshmen Festival there was a Marlins Rock the Vote table that gave students, mainly freshmen, the opportunity to register.
The voter registration initiative was organized through the Election Engagement Committee, made up of faculty, staff and students. However, the idea first came about a year ago through VWC’s newest sorority.
“Zeta Phi Beta had an interest in doing a voter registration drive,” said Diane Hotaling, director of the Community Service Office.“Zeta Phi Beta partnered with AAUW [American Association of University Women] to run the drive that was overwhelmingly successful.”
Because of the drives last year, the Community Service Office gained great resource in alumnus Meaghan Groah.
“[The Campus Election Engagement Committee] wound up with a political science intern, Meg Groah, who came on board to help us ensure that this was embedded in life [at] Virginia Wesleyan,” said Hotaling.
Groah’s job as intern was to organize and manage the Rock the Vote event. According to junior Mindy Bertram, a member of the Election Engagement Committee and volunteer at the Rock the Vote event, “none of it would have happened without Meg.”
The event was considered a success according to the freshman that participated.
“I think it went well because I heard a lot of people signed up to vote,” said freshman Nikki Nedwick. “Why not sign up? It was a quick and easy process.”
The event staff also thought it went well.
“It went so good,” said Bertram. “I think we engaged the freshman class right when they got on campus.”
Overall, 83 students were registered in a roughly two hour time span, and it is possible that number will grow as the semester goes on.
This is not the only event the Election Engagement Committee is planning this semester.
“There is an event on September 19,” said Bertram. “[The event is] intertwined with the FYE classes.”
This event focuses on voter education. Students will be able to practice using voting machines and other methods to get students comfortable with voting by Election Day.
“We are also doing a faculty panel [later in the semester,]” said Bertram. “They are going to have a debate on the issues in the Governors election.”
The Virginia gubernatorial election will be held on Tuesday Nov. 5. The faculty panel is an informative session with the purpose of fully informing students before they cast their vote.
Some students think Rock the Vote should be done every year.
“I definitely think it should, because before coming into college I wasn’t as aware of this and I didn’t think to sign up to vote. So, I think it is good thing that they had that service available.”
The Election Engagement Committee has already made students more aware of the election process and continues to improve student participation in elections. Although the Rock the Vote event was only the first step of a strategic plan to fully inform student voters, it was a significant start to getting students in the habit of voting and making them able to say,

“I am a Marlin, and I vote.”