Category Archives: Politics

Fertilization front-runner leads lecture



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.”

Marlins rock the vote

Students pose for a photo with Bob the Marlin during the Marlins Rock the Vote event.

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.”

Sequestration nation

Thomas Mills
Photo Editor

Governmental budget cuts threaten the Hampton Roads area, leaving Wesleyan worried about financial aid.

First came the sequestration: a government proposal to cut billions of dollars in spending to help balance the national budget. Then came the shock: spending cuts that affected essential programs, placed thousands of workers on unpaid leave and reduced hours for millions of jobs.
Yet, a very serious question remains: How will the sequestration, with its drastic cuts taking place across the nation, affect the Virginia Wesleyan community?
“From what we can tell and what we’ve been told, it doesn’t look like it’s going to affect Wesleyan,” said Director of Financial Aid Teresa Rhyne. “What they’ve budgeted for us is what they’re going to keep. A lot of schools around us are seeing cuts.”
However, that is not to say that Virginia Wesleyan will be completely immune to the effects of the sequestration.
According to Rhyne, parent loans will see an increase in interest, going from 4 percent to 4.2 percent. Also, new loans that are being processed will have a higher origination fee, being raised to 1.05 percent.
“Hopefully, before fall semester comes around, the sequestration will be over” said Rhyne. “Then the loans will go back down and we won’t have to deal with it.”
For students, a major area of concern is the Work Study program, a program that provides money for students to use on tuition, living and necessities.
Dr. Leslie Caughell, an assistant professor for the Political Science Department, understands the importance of the Work Study program for students.
“For students, Work Study is a great thing,” said Caughell. “It’s one of the ways the government levels the playing field for students that are disadvantaged.”
“Work Study helps me pay for my gas and all my things that I need to do,” said sophomore Morgan Piero, who works for the history department as a Work Study student. “My family could cut out my car, cable and we still could not afford the tuition. Work Study helps.”
For sophomore Jules Whitehurst, who is an employee at the school bookstore on Work Study, any potential cuts to the program would impact not only his livelihood, but also his education.

“Most of my earnings go to buying books for class,” said Whitehurst. “I need books for class. It would definitely reflect on my grades.”

The Work Study program benefits not only the students, but it also helps universities and colleges.
“Universities and colleges like to hire people on Work Study,” said Caughell. “Part of their pay is coming from the federal government, so the universities and colleges are paying them less.”
Ryhne indicates that the Department of Education has yet to release any guidelines on how to deal with potential cuts to the Work Study program.
“We still would have to pay students minimum wage,” said Ryhne. “Maybe we would reduce the amount of student workers we have. Or, we would reduce the amount they earn. So, instead of $1500 for the year, it would be reduced to $1000 on the year.”
However, Ryhne is confident that the sequestration will not affect Work Study or the other financial programs on campus.
“Right now, from what we can tell, our funding is going to stay the same,” said Ryhne. “Everything looks like it will be stable for the 2013-2014 year.”
The good news for some students is that there is more aid coming to them for the upcoming year.
“The Virginia Tuition Assistant Grant, for students that live in the state of Virginia, is going up by $300 next year,” said Ryhne. “The Pell Grant is also going up by $95, which will help out a lot of our students.”
However, students are still apprehensive about the sequestration. Since there is no finalized budget in place, anything can happen.
“You never know with politics,” said Piero. “I don’t know what would be the outcome.”
Thankfully, the financial forecast for VWC doesn’t seem to have grey, cloudy skies anytime soon.
“I don’t see any changes coming,” said Ryhne. “I’m not foreseeing that. Everything is set for the upcoming year.”