Archive for: October 28th, 2013

The haunted halls of Wesleyan

Emily Gibson
Staff Writer

We are a generation raised to be afraid of the dark. From the first time we play “Bloody Mary” to the times we convinced ourselves that the door opened by itself, we are terrified of the things that go bump in the night. For the students here at Virginia Wesleyan, those fears might not be completely unwarranted considering both East and Rose Hall are rumored to be haunted.
“When you go to East Hall, it feels like you’re being watched, it’s unusually cold and it doesn’t feel comfortable,” said freshman Sorenda Bickerstaff.
She is not alone. Many students have reported strange sightings or feelings while roaming around the campus. And according to an article called ‘Haunted Norfolk’, a ghost awaits anyone who arrives late to their dorm and subsequently find themselves all alone late at night. From the lack of population to the ominous fog that lingers in the fields at night, Virginia Wesleyan seems the perfect home for paranormal beings.
Victoria Macoul, junior and former resident of East Hall, recalled her interactions with these strange entities.
“I lived in East 321 when I was a freshman and when we first settled in it was fine and everything was cool but about halfway through the first semester it started to get kind of freaky” said Macoul. “One night I woke up and it was about four in the morning, and I had this really weird feeling. My roommates closet always used to creep open on its own. Late at night I didn’t feel safe, and it got to the point where I would wake my roommate up and tell her we had to get out of the room because it was that overpowering.”
The Virginia Wesleyan hauntings go beyond poltergeist. For Victoria Macoul and her roommate, their stay in East Hall was more like a brief exposure to something darker and more malicious.
“One night we did a Ouijia board in Rose Hall and it basically told the whole group that it was our room that was haunted and that the ghost was a small child and he was friendly,” said Macoul. “But when we asked it if he wanted to take us somewhere, it said ‘Hell’.”
At this point, it only made sense that Macoul and her friends were wary of their room and East in general. However, the more they delved into this paranormal mystery, the more fascinated they became with it, so much in fact, that it became more of an obsession.
The current residents of East Hall 321 have not experienced any strange happenings, though their suite mates do report some interaction with the paranormal. Lauren Aktug, freshman resident of East Hall 322, was confronted with the unbelievable.
“My roommate and I were doing homework and decided to take a break, so we took a small walk around Village 2,” said Aktug. “We were in the parking lot talking and all the sudden my roommate said ‘do you see that figure?’ and pointed to the practice field. I saw a tall, glowing figure with no recognizable face. I realized it looked like it was getting closer then we got freaked out and ran back inside.”
Residents of East Hall are not the only ones who need to worry as Rose Hall may be haunted as well. According to Macoul, Rose Hall was where the Ouija Board craze began two years ago, since the Rose Hall residents wanted to discover more about the ghost haunting their halls.
“Apparently two years ago they did a Ouija Board in my room,” said freshman and Rose Hall resident Rachel Lambert. “And after they were banned, all of the lights went out on campus at the exact time they planned on using the board again. I don’t know, some weird stuff happens. It gets freaky.”
Whether or not there is truth behind all of the stories circulating these paranormal hot spots on campus, the fact remains that there have been unexplained and very creepy instances over the years.
Some people report the paranormal in East while others adamantly claim there is more to be said of Rose. There are even some people who claim to have seen shadows in the library while studying into the wee hours of the morning in the 24-hour room.
Unexplained bumps in the night abound at nearly every college in the nation. Due to its rich history and involvment during the Civil War, Virginia seems ripe with ghost stories. Who is to say Wesleyan is an exception to a random, war-related historical tragedy?
Halloween is known as the day that dead souls get to roam the earth in human form again. When the clock strikes midnight on Oct. 31, be on the lookout for any new faces, as they might belong to the anonymous and ghoulish entities that make themselves at home among the students here at Virginia Wesleyan.

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.

Horror movie classics reborn for new scares

Andrew Mullen
Arts & Entertainment Editor

There is a commonly held belief that sequels ruin good movies. There have been sequels that have ruined some franchises or have gone completely unknown. The horror genre is no different, what with the “Scream” franchise being numbering four movies, and “Friday the 13th” pushing close to nine different spin offs that nobody seems to care about.
Critics love to hate sequels, as do fans. However, in recent years the horror movie has been reimagined in more than a few ways. Movies like “Paranoral Activity,” “Insidious,” “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and “The Conjuring” have all brought some new aspect of horror to the table that audiences and critics seem to be drawn to. The recipe for a good scare has changed, and along with it so have the movies.
In lieu of these shifts in trends, old classics have been revamped and re-released under their old monikers but with a 21st century facelift.
One of the more notable remakes is “Scream 4” which popped up in 2011. The movie received underwhelming reviews, but was the start to something bigger. The “Scream” franchise started in 1996 and suffered through many sequels until going dark for a while. The movie series was picked back up and given a modern twist, and started a trend for other classics.
The movie “Maniac” took the classic story of a psychotic murder obsessed with scalping his female victims and revamped it with updated visuals and big-budget names like Elijah Wood. Originally released in 1998, the remake graced the silver screen in 2012 and received decent reviews for its creepy atmosphere and powerful lead role.
Casting Elijah Wood as the maniac came as a surprise to some people, but who better to play a mass murderer than an unassuming, oftentimes meek-tempered man?
In 2008, director Tomas Alfredson released his Swedish cult-masterpiece “Let the Right One In,” featuring a young girl as a secretive and somewhat kind hearted vampire that befriends a coy, bullied young neighborhood boy. The atmosphere of the original movie was unmatched and led it to receive high praise in America as well as Sweden. Being a cult classic, many fans were disheartened to hear of the plans to remake it in 2010 as an Americanized version of this Swedish tale, starring the young Chloë Grace Moretz. However, many audiences were happily surprised with how close to the original the story the movie stuck and how well Moretz was able to portray her role as a blood-thirsty yet simultaneously misunderstood and lonely vampire child.
Perhaps one of the most prolific remakes to date is the 1981 film “Evil Dead.” Hailed as a horror classic, this movie was left untouched for years in order to preserve its position in the franchises unspoken hierarchy. However, in 2013 director Fede Alvarez reanimated the story and cultivated the plot into something fresh and new. By adding a metric ton of fake blood and keeping the classic and most iconic scenes from the original, Alvarez was able to capture the essence of the film while adding something new and twisted to the tone and story.
Most recently, Chloë Grace Moretz has resurfaced in the horror scene by claiming the eponymous role of Carrie in “Carrie.” Originally released in 1976, the story is based on a Stephen King novel of the same name and has one of the most iconic scenes in any horror movie ever filmed. The remake, which just recently hit theatres on Oct. 18, has revamped the story and kept all of the old favorites features intact. There is also a theatrical version of this terrifying tale currently touring the nation.
As movies age and styles come and go, there will always undoubtedly be the sequels that fans wish had never been released, such as “The Blair Witch Project 2.” However, with the emergence of new remakes of old favorites, the horror movie business shows no signs of stopping the remakes. The reimagining and reawakening of cult classics and forgotten films breathe new life into old scares. It seems that every Halloween there is a slew of new titles put into theatres to stir old fears and scare audiences once again.

Introducing intramurals

Staff Writer

Intramurals are an exciting way to get fit and have some fun on campus. RecX provides students opportunities to become athletically involved without the commitment of joining a team.
RecX is providing many opportunities this fall for Marlins to create camaraderie, participate in sports and become active in the Wesleyan community. Some of RecX’s most popular intramural opportunities include flag football, basketball, wiffle ball and billiards.
RecX has a simple process to get involved. To become a part of intramurals, stop by the RecX office and ask for a sign-up sheet for the sports that intrigue you. If you are not part of a team, ask for a free-agent sign-up sheet and you will be assigned to a team.
Flag football season is well underway. Regular season games are held outside of Village II’s parking lot and the championship game is always held under the big lights of our Trinder field. The co-ed flag football season is very competitive and provides equal opportunity for females interested in football. To ensure equality, one of the rules states that the plays must alternate gender each play so that the game is not dominated by one gender. Even though Wesleyan does not have a football team, RecX provides the student body with an intense intramural football opportunity.
“I definitely have to be a part of flag football this year. I wanted to play last year, but I had a schedule conflict with a science class,” said Senior Eric Walker. “This year I will definitely be out there. It looks like so much fun, I can’t wait to enjoy the friendly competition.”
Eric is majoring in Biology, recently took the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). His participation is a prime example of RecX’s primary goal of providing athletic options for those who have tough schedules and just want to compete, create friendships and find relief from a strenuous class schedule.

“Last year, flag football was a lot of fun,” said Senior Dustin Holland. “It was something I looked forward to during the evenings because of the competition, and it was a great workout that helped me further develop my exercise plans.”

The 3 V 3 basketball intramurals begin soon, and sign-ups are available in the Rec X office. The games promise to be action packed, and are the perfect way for budding basketball stars to show off their skills without having to try out for the highly competitive collegiate programs here at VWC. The 5 V 5 basketball intramurals occur in the spring semester. The basketball tournament is always intense and exciting to both watch and compete in.
Intramural wiffle ball is also underway. Wiffle ball is one of the most popular intramural sports nationwide, but it is a sport that tends to be forgotten in comparison with major sports such as football and basketball.
Wiffle ball is a variation of baseball, but it has its own identity because of the difference of equipment and rules. The games are held outside of Village I, next to the sand volleyball courts.
RecX also offers a billiards league that students can participate in. The league is set up in a tournament style and promises to be highly competitive.
Each intramural sport has record standings and the winners receive intramural champion shirts, which provide an incentive for individuals to compete. Intramural sports are an integral part of many students’ campus life, allowing individuals to showcase their talents while providing a healthy outlet for stress relief, and the opportunity to make new friends.
RecX provides intramural sports to create opportunities for students to become active within the Wesleyan campus creating life outside of dormitories. Between video games and social media, it is difficult to create healthy active events that appeal to students and provide exercise.
RecX intramurals create a platform for actively interacting through sports and different events, and is definitely one of the standout programs provided within the Marlin community.