Archive for: February 12th, 2013

Sneaking by security

From difficulty registering guests to unwanted persons obtaining access to campus, complaints about the DeFord Gatehouse are prevalent among students at Virginia Wesleyan.
“Security’s doing their job,” said freshman Anthony Wiggins, “But they need to do it better.”
Students’ problems with security begins with difficulties registering friends to be permitted on campus.
“My friend rode his motorcycle here in the fall, so it was cold,” said sophomore Courtney Jones. “I registered him before he came, but they wouldn’t let him on because he was on a motorcycle. I had had trouble before with other friends, so I told him to park at the hotel. We picked him up and I reregistered him before we came back. When we got to the gate, security gave us a hard time and told us they expected us to honk when we dropped him off and wave when we came back so they would know he had left before midnight.”
Other students have had similar problems. Junior Megan Bell-Hill brought a friend on campus who was a former student of Virginia Wesleyan.
“We had gone off campus to get food and Officer Britt asked who she was registered under,” said Bell-Hill. “I said I would register her and he said I would have to call off campus, so I had to drive off of campus to call and register her and then go back through the gate.”
The second main issue students have is how porous security is.
“I think they need improvement,” said Wiggins. “It’s really easy to get on campus.”
This can apply to people who should be allowed on campus, like parents, and to people who should not be permitted.
“My parents will try to get on and security won’t even check them,” said junior Lauren Davis.
Last year a serious problem arose after an elderly man somehow gained access to the campus and harassed a student on campus.
“He called her the N-word and asked what she was doing on campus,” said Bell-Hill who was friends with the former student. “He said he would kill her and that she didn’t deserve to be here. He told her to get off the sidewalk.”
Despite the criticism, security does work hard to try to ensure the safety of students.
“Guests must be registered and should be called in to the front gate prior to arrival,” said Director of Security Jerry Mance, concerning problems with registering guests. “If driving, they should be prepared to show proper identification to obtain entry.” This is supposed to apply to family members, like parents, as well as friends.
There are ways to try to ensure fewer problems registering guests on campus.
“Everybody registers everybody in the afternoon,” said a security officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “The easiest thing to do is register earlier.”
Security’s perspective on outsiders coming onto campus without notifying them is that they’re doing the best they can.
“We make every effort to minimize outsiders from gaining entry to the campus and when they do it’s usually from the ball fields,” said Mance. “Patrols are constant and we have, myself included stopped people from coming across the fields and turned them away. A strong presence of security along with the police we partner with helps greatly with keeping outsiders outside.”
“There’s little we can do other than locking down the campus like a military institute,” said the anonymous security guard. “There’s one gate with a guard there at all times. Short of putting up fences and barbed wire, what are you gonna do?”
These two particular issues, difficulty and ease in gaining access to campus, are starkly different from one another, proving it’s a fine line between providing sufficient security while not infringing upon the personal freedoms of students. For this reason, students are frequently going back and forth between whether they believe security should be increased or decreased, but many have come to a similar conclusion.
“Security is strict enough, but they need to become more reliable,” said Jones. “If they become more reliable we won’t have so many issues with students trying to sneak guests on.”

Director of Residence Life joins sorority

Campus catering

Students and faculty at Virginia Wesleyan all have their opinions about Sodexo, the food company responsible for dining services on campus. However, when it comes to catered events, some students have apprehensions.
Rumors have been flying for years that if any event on campus wants to have food, student-run or otherwise, Sodexo has first choice about whether or not they want to cater the event.
“Yes, that is correct. It is called the right of first refusal. And in fact it is pretty typical with other schools that have food service contracts on campus,” said General Manager for Dining Services and Sodexo Tim Lockett.
Sophomore Chris Kerr is the programing chair for the Inter Fraternity Council (IFC) and last year the council was trying to schedule a Greek Baccalaureate dance. According to Kerr, “We wanted to have fruit, cheese and crackers, water and lemonade at the dance. Sodexo wanted to charge us roughly $1,800 for that. Our budget was only $200-$300 and that included everything we needed for the dance including food. It just seemed outrageous to me that they really wanted to charge us that much.”
When asked about the Greek dance, Lockett said, “I had no knowledge of that event. But that number sounds absolutely ridiculous. That $1,800 cannot be correct – it sounds way out of line. There is a catering menu online, available to everyone. The student menu attempts to make it more affordable for students, so that they don’t have to look for other caterers that would charge them a lot more than we would.”
“Honestly, the cost of the food was a large hiccup in the process and contributed to the downfall of the event,” Vice President of Communications and Vice President of Standards and Risk Management of the Inter Fraternity Council Charles Krauser. “Close to $1,800 was just a lot of money for something that we could have bought somewhere else for a lot cheaper.”
The event did not end up occurring mainly for administrative reasons but according to those involved the alleged price for the catering contributed to the failure.
Greeks are not the only ones who seem to feel the pinch when it comes to catered events. Residence Life has hosted the Seafood in the Dell event for more than 30 years and Sodexo provides the food for this long standing tradition.
“The Seafood in the Dell costs Residence Life $7,000,” said McCarren Caputa, director of residence life and assistant dean of students. “I wish it didn’t cost that much but, let’s face it, seafood is expensive.”
“I really don’t believe our prices are any more expensive than going to somewhere like Sam’s Club and buying bulk for events. Of course, I really cannot compete with Sam’s but that is not what we do” Lockett said. “We provided a service in conjunction with our food. If students wanted to go buy bottles of soda and bags of chips, that’s just what it would look like. We are in the business of food service.”
As previously stated by Tim Lockett, the student catering menu is online and available to students. According to the menu, a fruit tray that serves 20 costs $30.00. A veggie tray that serves 20 also costs $30.00. Cheese and crackers that serve 20 cost $32.00. Bottled water cost $0.80 each and a gallon of lemonade that serves 16 costs $3.29. Depending on the amount of people the Baccalaureate were expecting, their budget of $200-$300 may not have been enough to afford the prices Sodexo had available and the alleged figure may or may not have been that far off.
Tim Lockett was insistent that he wants to help students have successful and enjoyable events, “if you come to us with a budget of $300 we are not going to make you pay us $1,800. We will work with you to see what we can to do help when we can. We actually just hired a new Catering Event Planner, Stacey Fanelli. She is really excited and wants to reconnect with students and student-run organizations.”
Regardless, Kerr and many other students are concerned about future events, “It makes it hard not only for IFC but all the Greeks and even the sports teams. If we want to have an event with food we really can’t because we can’t afford the prices. I just don’t understand it. We pay enough money to come here, we should be able to have food at events that we want and not have to pay outrageous prices for it.”

Policy pushes out Greeks

For almost all of the Greek organizations on campus, there is one place they share in common; a place where they practice their rituals, traditions, and initiations: the chapel.
Yet, starting next semester, there is a possibility that the sororities and fraternities will not have the ability to practice their ceremonies in the chapel.
Chaplain Greg West, along with Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Enrollment Services David Buckingham, proposed that Greek organizations on campus not be allowed to use the chapel for any rituals or inductions that are not transparent.
“There has been a reconsideration of the policy,” said West. “The issue is that I am uncomfortable with the secretive nature of these gatherings. To black out the windows, having the doors locked – it seems to be incongruent with the purposes of that building.”
Earlier this semester, according to West, a fraternity on campus was having an initiation ceremony at the chapel when three students, expecting to use the chapel for midnight prayer, entered. The students were troubled by what they saw and approached West the next day.
“That was kind of the trigger,” said West.
While the policy is still in the working stages, members of the Virginia Wesleyan community seem to have already felt the impact.
“It hits me hard,” said sophomore and Sigma Nu Vice President elect Jonathan Snow. “I feel like it’s come out of nowhere. It’s something new and very shocking.”
“My dad personally got inducted and initiated into Sigma Nu in that chapel when he came to school here,” said Snow. “I was pinned by him in the same place and that meant a lot to me. Knowing that I can’t keep doing it in there is a tradition that has a different meaning to me that no longer is going to be there.”
The decision to propose a new policy regarding the chapel did not include everyone.
Jennifer Mitchell, director of student activities and Greek life, was told of the possible change after the decision was made by West and Buckingham.
“I would assume that being the director of Greek life I would be informed,” said Mitchell. “But, I was not.”
Moreover, the proposed policy was not brought to the attention of the students. According to the Student Government Association and various Greek organizations on campus, they were not made aware of the proposed change to the chapel guidelines. It was not until after the decision was made to pursue the change that the students were informed.
“I believe that students should have a say in any matter that concerns them,” said junior and Vice President of the Student Government Association Steven Bond. “I feel like the policy that was proposed did not have any student input and is unfair to the students.”
“When it comes down to making a decision on this campus when it affects the students, it should be brought to the student body,” said Mitchell. “They do need to talk to the students, and not just the Greek students.”
“This has a huge impact that goes into it because of induction and initiation,” said Vice President of Communications and Vice President of Standards and Risk Management of the Inter Fraternity Council Charles Krauser. “This takes weeks and months of planning. It costs a lot of money. It involves alumni who travel here as well as people from national headquarters.”
Still, much of the student frustration stems from the possibility that they won’t be able to use the chapel, which is vital to many of their ceremonies and inductions.
“Our rituals are heavily immersed with some of the Christian aspects,” said sophomore and Phi Kappa Tau member Xzavier Darden. “A lot of it is something that is really moving and how we see the Christian ideals.”
However, West believes that other locations on campus will be suitable for any Greek and student organization activities.
“Hofheimer Theater has been suggested,” said West. “It doesn’t even have windows and you wouldn’t have to cover windows. There have been initiations done in there.”
Greek organizations remain adamant, however, that the chapel is the best place for them to practice their ceremonies and traditions.
“Nationals says we can do our inductions at a local church of ours, which works perfectly, since the chapel is here,” said Darden. “If we have to move off campus or do it in the Hofheimer Theater, that is not going to work for us.”
Not all students feel the same though. Sophomore Joy Fletcher believes that the use of the chapel should reflect the religious aspects the building was built for.
“I think what Greg West is going for is keeping the availability for people who are practicing a spiritual walk, opposed to people who want to keep a tradition,” said Fletcher. “There’s a huge difference in that.”
The perception that the chapel is a multi-purpose building is one that Fletcher believes is misguided.
“The purpose of the chapel is for God to be on campus,” said Fletcher. “It’s where his house is. I can see how some people could view it as overstepping and making it seem that God isn’t as relevant on campus as fraternity and sorority traditions.”
Students are not sitting idly on this matter though. Many students across campus are already trying to find ways to voice their opinions and fight for what they believe in.
Junior Nathan Johnson has started a petition for students who are opposed to the possible change in policy to sign.
Senior and SGA Athletics Chair Kelly Keys proposed a sit-in at the chapel, so students can protest.
“I’m not a part of Greek life, but I have a lot of Greek friends,” said Keys. “There are a lot of teams that have players that are in Greek life. I know my team would definitely back up Greek life and the students.”
Greek Life members and the SGA will be having a discussion with West and other representatives of the campus concerning the proposed change.
“People believe students should just accept the proposed policy,” said Bond. “But that is not going to be the case.”