Archive for: March 12th, 2014

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.”

Former Marlin Chronicle editor, ’97, revered after fatal accident

Editor in Chief

Supermom. Committed. Magnificent as a person, parent and student.

With so much admiration, Jennifer Bush Lawson, class of 1997, truly was the epitome of the type of graduate Virginia Wesleyan aspires to develop.

On Feb. 24, Lawson died in Arlington from injuries sustained in a traffic accident. The legacy she left on this college and her community will continue to positively influence the lives of so many people.

“She was a beautiful person, very humble and never judgmental,” said alumni Kristen Winkler Cayton, also class of 1997. “She was genuinely kind to every person she met.”

Lawson, fondly known on campus as Jenn Bush, excelled as Editor in Chief of the Marlin Chronicle in the mid-1990s.

“We bonded while spending many hours in the old Marlin Chronicle office that was in Village I,” said Cayton, who also worked for the student-run newspaper. “We worked really hard to make the paper the very best it could be at that time, and we had fun doing it.”

A journalism major, Lawson graduated in 1997 with Summa Cum Laude honors. She began her career as a media relations specialist at the Association of American Medical Colleges. Lawson then worked for Edelman Public Relations before becoming a senior associate at Schmidt Public Affairs in Alexandria.

“Jenn was beyond an outstanding student,” said former Marlin Chronicle advisor and Professor of Journalism, Dr. William Ruehlmann. “She was an outstanding individual. She had a giving heart and a laughing spirit.”

Lawson, 39, is survived by her husband, Neal Lawson, and their three young children.

“Her examples of moral courage, unswerving citizenship, faithfulness to family and instinctive support of the underdog remain encouragements to all who knew her, and we will never, never forget her,” said Ruehlmann.

“She was a wonderful friend, more like a sister to me, and she was an incredible mom,” said Cayton. “I will cherish the time we had together, and it all started at Virginia Wesleyan.”

Rex-X experience the unexpected

Staff Writer

Everywhere around campus are colorful banners and painted window artwork that attempt to gain the attention of the campus community.
These efforts are for the Recreation Program at Virginia Wesleyan, known to students as RecX.
RecX offers a variety of activities ranging from relaxing pool movie nights to intramural sports; from camping in the surrounding forests to game tournaments.
“We had. . .a movie in the pool that we set up all day for. It was really good, we showed ‘Finding Nemo.’ I really liked it because it was something different,” said sophomore Erin Combs, a worker at the RecX office.
“It wasn’t like you sit in the Grille and watch a movie; it was relaxing. People swim around, all that stuff,” Kelly Keys, the supervisor of Recreational Sports and Activities, commented on the many activities that RecX puts on here at campus.
“Some of the biggest activities we do are intramural sports seasons, so things like flag football and volleyball are very big on campus with the student crowd. But specifically, event-wise, most recently we did Family Feud night which was a huge success. Everyone seemed to love it and they’re already asking for a round two so hopefully that will be coming up this April” said Keys.
Included in RecX’s popular venues are the fitness room, the pool, and places far from the campus’ physical view. However, there are some activities that are simply not getting enough attention.
Jason Seward, dean of freshman and director of the Jane P. Batten Student Center, explained: “I’ve tried for a number of years to get a kickball league going because I just thought that I would get no issues getting participation, but we don’t see a lot of participation in that league.”
He also said, “We would like to see a lot more use of the rock wall. The rock wall is sort of on a pendulum. When school first starts up a lot of people try it since they’ve never tried it before. They climb and after they’ve tried it once then it falls, but then it goes back up before graduation, so it’s up and down.”
On the lack of student participation, Kelly Keys also said, “Least popular, I would say, would be some of our power hours but that’s because we pick some things that people don’t know. We try to get people to play foosball because some people don’t realize we have a foosball team, or we try to get them to play Monopoly because we have all the board games in the back. We’re just like ‘Hey, just so you know, we have these things and you can use them.’”
When asked about how RecX advertises, Kelly Keys stated, “How do we not? We are trying to stay away from emails now because a lot of students just seem to immediately trash them. But we do all the posters you see, we have window paintings that we do on the first floor windows, and fliers.
The new T.V. that’s right outside the RecX office does running advertisements as well as a few of the whiteboard things that we do. And we try to do dorm raids where we go to all the dorms. We’re like ‘Hey, next week we’ve got such and such going on,’ and we try to tell students face to face ‘cause that’s when they’ll listen.”
She went on, saying that RecX can never have enough advertising. The more RecX advertises, the more obscure activities like foosball get popular. “I’m trying to push for the social media world. Trying to get more followers and more friends likes and all that, because students stay on their phones non-stop so it’s just probably the best way we can reach them. I don’t think there is ever enough advertising.”
“No, I don’t. I think a quality of standard keeps people coming back,” said Seward. “There has to be some sort of buzz built around an activity. You can’t just do what we call ‘spray and pray’ where you throw a banner up and hope somebody shows up. You gotta constantly circulate the word and be creative about the way that you advertise.”
Despite the small participation in some activities, RecX is seeing a gain in momentum for unexpected ones.
“I’m actually fine with everything we are doing now,” said Combs. “Kelly Keys is working on new stuff. We were going to have a Wii game night but that got changed. We had Family Feud this year and that was a huge success. We’ve never done that before. I feel like RecX is building up and RecX can always find new things to do especially with the staff that we have.”
“It’s just fun,” Kelly Keys says. “All of the things that we do is just to make sure that students are having a good time—it kind of brings out the kid in them. It’s nice to have a relaxing break after classes and play some football.”

Go to Batten for the action

Staff Writer

They are everywhere, little people running around in the convocation center, the CMAC, and the dance studio. Batten looks like an elementary-school playground during weeknights, and the community wants answers.
Many of the areas in Batten are used by sports teams in unfavorable weather. This cuts back on the space non-athlete students can use for recreation.
The Batten Center allows different organizations and churches to use its facilities. A local church uses the dance studio at least once a week to have praise-dance rehearsal. However, VWC has a dance team who also needs the dance studio.
Avriana Chavez, a member of the dance team, said: “The praise-dance rehearsals put us to a disadvantage because our practice time gets cut and then we have to go into overtime and sometimes that makes us have more practices for even longer.”
Randy Lott, a member of the men’s track and field team, said: “I don’t like having to find a new workout space when my team already has a set spot and time at the indoor track. In my opinion, I don’t like having to share our school with a lot of outside organizations.”
“I usually work out in the Fitness Center but when that area is over-occupied by people with nowhere else to go, I work out in my dorm room” said freshman Kennisha Mason.
Lott said, “I think that the school should have organizations come to campus on Saturday and Sunday instead of Monday through Friday, to cut back on students losing their facilities.”