Saint Mary’s students lead discussion on “The Hunting Ground”

first_imgCaitlyn Jordan | The Observer Saint Mary’s students examine “The Hunting Ground” and the issue of sexual assualts on college campus during a Monday panel.The Student Center Atrium at Saint Mary’s was standing room only as ten student panelists and the audience discussed CNN’s documentary “The Hunting Ground” and how to take action against sexual assault. The discussion was co-sponsored by the Justice Education Program and the Gender and Women’s Studies department.Senior and panel moderator Elizabeth Maloney said she has two friends at Harvard Univeristy and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, neither of whom had heard of the documentary. She expressed gratitude for the College’s screening.“I want to thank Saint Mary’s for showing [‘The Hunting Ground’] here,” Maloney said. “Saint Mary’s empowers women to seek change, and we are here today to talk about change.”Panelists were senior Callie Brown, junior Angge Rocal, junior Maggie Langenfeld, junior Kaitlyn Baker, senior Amy Piekosz, junior Bri O’Brien, sophomore Caylin McCallick, senior Meredith Mersits, freshman Alex Shambery and freshman Nicole Caratas. (Editors note: Caratas is a news writer for The Observer.)Brown, president of the Student Diversity Board, said her initial reaction to the documentary was fear for herself, peers, faculty and staff.She said the documentary showed that sexual assault is happening not only at Saint Mary’s and at Notre Dame but across the nation.Brown said “The Hunting Ground” showed the difficulties of faculty being penalized for advocating for student rights.“I think it’s very sad that professors or administrators would treat me with anything but trust and respect, could be targeted or terminated for standing up for what they believe in and advocating for students, when I think it’s an educator’s first priority to advocate for students and act on their behalf,” she said.Brown said college and university marketing campaigns and statistics are partially to blame for the low number of sexual assaults handled appropriately.“I think that something that is the most difficult aspects of this issue to change, but probably the most important, is how universities market and brand themselves,” Brown said. “I think it’s time for universities to stop branding themselves as, ‘University X proudly reports zero sexual assaults a year, but University X, which reports 100 sexual assaults and 100 expulsions a year.’ I think that’s at the core of this problem and absolutely needs to be changed, and I think Saint Mary’s could be a leader and should be.”Lagenfeld said one of the biggest things students can do is to change the way they talk and educate about sexual assault and consent.“Being asleep doesn’t mean yes,” Lagenfeld said. “Being drunk doesn’t mean yes. Wearing a short skirt does not mean yes.”Baker, the Saint Mary’s student body president, said she wants to understand the concerns of students moving forward,.“My plan is to continue the conversation with the students and the administration, and my goal is to act as the liaison and make sure [the administration] is hearing us and that we’re hearing them as well.“I want to make sure [the administration] knows where we’re coming from and make sure they know that we’re not attacking them, and we’re just trying to have this conversation and trying to move forward as a college.”Baker said she attended the screening of “The Hunting Ground” at Notre Dame last Friday and heard the panel discussion.“I know that a lot of [Notre Dame] students are ready to talk to Saint Mary’s [students],” she said. “They are ready to have this conversation with us and they want to change the way our relationship is. They want to change the way they talk about Saint Mary’s women.”Baker said she plans to work with Notre Dame’s student body president and student government to address to issue of sexual assault on both campuses.Junior and audience member Vanessa Troglia addressed the email sent out to students answering questions about “The Hunting Ground.” She said the email was the first time she had heard Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame addressed as two separate entities.”Ever since I came to Saint Mary’s, everything has been about Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s as one community, whether it be through academic, extracurricular or socially,” Troglia said. “The thing that I critique most about that email is saying that we are two separate entities. We are not two separate entities, we are one community. We may have been admitted to two distinct schools but we are one community.”Piekosz said she felt unbelievable sadness after watching the documentary. She said she wanted more explanation from President Mooney after the screening of the film on April 9.Piekosz said “The Hunting Ground” shows viewers that sexual assault is not just a Saint Mary’s problem.“It’s a problem in school systems across the nation, and if we’re going to fix this, we need to be the spark,” Piekosz said. “We need to be the ones to start that domino effect at Saint Mary’s.“I’m not going to place blame on the administration. What’s done is done. It’s in the past. Let’s move forward and discuss ways we can potentially fix our system.”O’Brien said it is important to note that what was shown in the documentary were short segments, which she said don’t cover the whole story of sexual assault on Saint Mary’s campus.O’Brien said it is not sufficient to say that alcohol is responsible for sexual assaults.“Alcohol isn’t the one assaulting our students; it’s other students.” she said.“The Hunting Ground” revealed that much of sexual assault on college campuses involves repeat offenders, and bystander intervention is not enough, O’Brien said.McCallick said the director of the Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO), Connie Adams, will support students and present students with options for proceeding with a sexual assault charge. BAVO provides resources and education on sexual assault to Saint Mary’s students.McCallick said reporting can be difficult for survivors of sexual assault, and she believes the legal system is skewed in general, though this is not necessarily an issue with BAVO.Mersits said Saint Mary’s is the perfect place to start change.“Often sexual assault feels far away, but this film put it in my face,” Mersits said.Senior and audience member Nora Clougherty said “Take Back the Night” on Wednesday could be the start of making change regarding sexual assault and a demonstration of support by both campuses. “Take Back the Night” is an annual event hosted by BAVO and the Gender Relations Center at Notre Dame for students to show support of survivors of sexual assault.“This is the start of the two campuses working together … ” Clougherty said. “I want all of these people in this room to go, because that’s where we’re going to make a difference and show we care.”Senior and audience member Claire Boyd said the dialogue around sexual assault needs to be a tri-campus conversation.Boyd said a new initiative this year, sponsored by the Office of Residence Life, was “Belles Banding Together.” The initiative is a bystander intervention program for incoming first-year students during orientation.O’Brien said students will not change without the administration on board. She also noted that BAVO is under the administration.“We need to make sure that we are not only putting responsibility on students, but we’re holding everyone accountable,” she said.Shambery suggested further education of first-year students on how to report sexual assaults.Sophomore and audience member Chisom Igwe said students need to look at the sexual language they use on a daily basis.“We can talk about changing the system, but if you don’t stand up in your daily lives, nothing is going to happen,” Igwe said. “ … Individually we need to look at ourselves before we try to change the system.”Student panelists created a recommendation list for the administration, and they asked audience members to help them critique the list, which will be submitted to the administration after they make the suggested edits.One of the recommendations suggests that faculty and staff should undergo training on sexual assault, not limited to Title IX training.Vice President of Student Affairs Karen Johnson, along with other members of the College administration, was present and said faculty and staff go through training regarding Title IX, sexual harassment and sexual assault.Maloney said students attending the panel were able to leave their emails and have the finalized letter forwarded to them for them to sign.Tags: Gender and Women’s Studies, Justice Education Program, saint mary’s, student panel, The Hunting Groundlast_img read more

Deng Honored

first_imgUniversity of Georgia food microbiologist Xiangyu Deng’s work in the emerging field of bioinformatics led to his selection as a Creative Research Medal winner for 2017. The medal is one of the prestigious honors bestowed annually by the UGA Research Foundation. Awards are given to outstanding faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students in recognition of excellence in research, scholarly creativity and technology commercialization at UGA.Deng, an assistant professor of food microbiology with the Center for Food Safety (CFS) on the UGA Griffin campus, was recognized for creating a cloud-based software tool that quickly classifies strains of salmonella, one of the most prevalent foodborne pathogens in the United States and worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 million foodborne illnesses and 380 deaths in the U.S. each year can be linked to nontyphoidal salmonella.The SeqSero system identifies serotypes, or distinct strains of salmonella, from infected humans, animals, foods and the environment using whole genome sequencing. This system allows for accurate, fast “fingerprinting” of any salmonella strain and replaces a complicated, time-consuming laboratory protocol. Analysis time using SeqSero takes just minutes — analysis using the old system took days — while adding no extra cost.SeqSero was developed by UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences food science graduate student Shaokang Zhang, under Deng’s direction, and was created with funding from the food industry in collaboration with the CDC’s National Salmonella Reference Laboratory. The CDC’s Enteric Diseases Laboratory Branch has adopted SeqSero for its routine processing of salmonella genomes.“Earning the Creative Research Medal is a well-deserved distinction for one of our rising stars in the Center for Food Safety. The impact of Dr. Deng’s creation on public health is enormous,” said Francisco Diez, director of the CFS. “SeqSero has been widely adopted by the CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, multiple state health departments and more than 20 regulatory agencies of European, Asian and North American countries.” Deng compares the SeqSero system to a crime investigation. “For investigation and surveillance purposes, you need to be able to profile your suspects at different levels, from general demographics to fingerprints. If your suspects are salmonella, serotype determination, or serotyping, is the first step of your profiling,” he said. “It’s now possible to do all the profiling with whole genome sequencing, and it saves a lot of time and (steps in) workflow.”In addition to saving time, SeqSero cuts out the need to maintain hundreds of reagents, or substances used for chemical analyses. “This is a highly desirable bioinformatics system and allows for push-button, fast, straightforward and accurate identification of salmonella serotypes from raw data that comes directly off sequencers,” Deng said. “There are more than 2,500 serotypes described for salmonella, and SeqSero focuses primarily on more common serotypes while also being able to ID many rare serotypes.”Salmonella bacteria look alike under a microscope, but can be separated into many serotypes based on two structures on their surface, Deng explained. Serotyping forms the basis of the U.S. and international surveillance systems of salmonella.It took the UGA team a year to develop the highly sophisticated food safety tool that has been publicly available for two years. It is supported by all major internet browsers and mobile devices and can easily be used by novices and bioinformatics experts alike, according to Deng.For more on CFS, visit read more

Local Flowers

first_imgHarvesting cut flowers from your own garden can be a rewarding, cost-effective way to treat your mom for Mother’s Day. But don’t worry if you don’t have your own flowers to cut.More and more Georgians can find locally grown flowers for their mothers without growing them in their own gardens.Nationwide, Americans will spend about $2.6 billion on flowers this Mother’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation. That money helps fuel the nation’s $4.37 billion floriculture industry and Georgia’s $843 million ornamental horticulture industry.While cut flowers are still a relatively small part of the state’s ornamental horticulture industry, more and more local farmers are adding cut flowers to their farmers market stalls and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) orders. Georgia Grown, the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s agricultural products marketing program, lists more than 90 Georgia businesses that grow or market Georgia-grown flowers to the public.Flower farms dot the landscape from the mountains to the coast and supply flower lovers directly or through local boutiques or fresh markets.“Cut flowers are a perfect fit for most sunny gardens, and they seem to be getting more popular. People seem to like them more than before because one generates their own fresh, beautiful flowers, and they make great, casual gifts for friends and family,” said Paul Thomas, a horticulture professor at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.In Georgia, Mother’s Day and graduation season create the bulk of business for local flower farms.Benefits of buying localMore consumers want to shrink their carbon footprints by buying what they need from local vendors and farmers.Nearly 80 percent of cut flowers in the U.S. are imported and travel hundreds of miles in refrigerated planes, trains and trucks.“It’s good to know that purchasing something like that comes with a huge environmental footprint,” said Steve O’Shea, who owns Comer, Georgia’s 3 Porch Farm with his wife, Mandy.Rita Williams, who owns Candler County, Georgia’s WilMor Farms with her husband, Mike, explained that people purchase flowers from their farm because they can ask them questions about the chemicals used in the growing process, and they have the answers.“We know what they (the flowers) haven’t been exposed to,” Rita Williams said.Purchasing local flowers also supports the local economy and communities.“It’s how we survive,” she added.Rita Williams knows that the local flower market in Georgia is still in its early stages, but the market share for local flowers and community of flower producers across the state is growing.She and Mike Williams started WilMor Farms in 2015 after they were inspired by 3 Porch Farm. They felt they could provide the same types of local, sustainable blooms to south Georgia as the O’Sheas provide in northeast Georgia. The Williamses also thought it would also be a great way to teach their four children about hard work and give them a closer connection the land.Flowers in Georgia?Blame it on the heat, the humidity or the insects, but Georgia has long had a reputation as inhospitable to cut flower production. But that depends on what blooms you’re growing, said Jenna Moon, who started Winterville, Georgia’s Seeds and Stems Farm with her partner, Tom Bagby, in 2017.You won’t see tulips and fist-size roses when you shop for locally grown flowers in Georgia. Farmers here offer a mix of classic, Southern garden flowers and native flowers, or blooms acclimated to Georgia’s heat and humidity.Ranunculus, anemones and poppies are some of the star flowers cultivated here.Native flowers and wildflowers also steal the show from time to time, Moon said. She brings native plants into the arrangements she sells at the West Broad Farmers Market in Athens, Georgia.Not only are native flowers already acclimated to Georgia weather and provide a habitat for wildlife, they also “have a unique beauty that isn’t always found in cultivated varieties,” said Moon. In their Mother’s Day bouquets, they’ll use classic flowers, like daisies, interspersed with hellebores, black oats and nasturtium, which will also be in their salad mix.Because they are operating on a farm-to-vase model, local flower farmers can only provide in-season blooms, but in Georgia, the season can stretch from late winter through the summer.What do I look for now?When it comes to trends, Rita Williams encouraged consumers to “use what they think is pretty” and not allow their creativity to be stifled or boxed in by trends seen on social media.“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” she added.3 Porch Farm uses “whatever is relevant and beautiful,” said Steve O’Shea. This Mother’s Day, their arrangements will include species like bachelor’s button, campanula, snapdragons, poppies and peonies mixed with seed pods, native grasses, vines and tendrils.“An emerging trend has been to get away from customers requesting specific flowers and moving more toward color palettes utilizing local and seasonal flowers,” said Steve O’Shea.To spruce up a basic bunch, Steve O’Shea suggested gathering wild materials with a few friends.“It’s a lot of fun to get a few friends together, buy a bunch of local flowers each, and then go forage for bits and tendrils and grasses, bring it all back to the house and create arrangements together,” he said.More information about WilMor Farms, 3 Porch Farm, and Seeds and Stems Farm can be found on their Facebook pages. For more information about where to purchase local flowers in Georgia, visit read more

DP reiterates Sh50m Stars’ AFCON reward

first_img0Shares0000Harambee Stars skipper Victor Wanyama hands over a jersey and signed ball to Deputy President William Ruto when he paid the team a courtesy call at the Kasarani Stadium on Friday October 12, 2018. PHOTO/Raymond MakhayaNAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 12 – Deputy President William Ruto on Friday reiterated the government’s promise of rewarding national football team Harambee Stars with Sh50mn should they qualify for next year’s  African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon.The Deputy President made the promise to the team last year after winning the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup and on Friday when he visited the team at their training session at the Kasarani Stadium reiterated that the promise still stands. “You all remember the promise we made last year?” Ruto quizzed the team at the Kasarani Stadium. “The promise still remains and we will make sure that happens,” he added.“So please work hard and achieve the goal and leave the rest to us. So my friend (speaking to skipper Victor Wanyama) even if it means leaving your leg here, please do,” Ruto joked.He also announced that the promise to give the team its own bus still remains and made a further promise that the same will be availed next month.“You have our prayers, support and good will. Please make us proud on Sunday,” he added.Deputy President William Ruto greets Harambee Stars players during a training session at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani on October 12, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu“We thank you (DP Ruto) for coming in here today and I know you have been told of the small problems we had. We are sure that you will help sort them out and for us on the pitch, we will do our job,” skipper Wanyama said.His sentiments were shared by head coach Sebastien Migne who has also been promised that his outstanding salary arrears will be cleared having given the Federation an ultimatum up to Monday to ensure that his dues are taken care of.“I hope, it will be paid, but for me, the most important thing is the game on Sunday. That is why I came here and I believe we can do something special and write a new page of history for Kenyan football,” the tactician said.He added; “I have told him (DP Ruto) that for us to go far, we have to get the support from him and the government. We are on the way to the high level and we cannot do it without them.”The DP also ‘gifted’ the team with Sh1mn for motivation ahead of Sunday’s game.Deputy President William Ruto listens to Football Kenya Federation boss Nick Mwendwa as Sports PS Kirimi Kaberia and Sports Kenya Chairman Fred Muteti listen in at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani on October 12, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluMeanwhile, Ruto also said that the remainder of the Sh25mn budget presented by the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) for the double header against Ethiopia as well as arrears from the previous game against Ghana, has already been availed.Meanwhile, the country’s second in command has said moving forward, the Sports Fund will be fully operational to ensure that sports federations are well catered for and do not always have to sprawl their begging balls asking for help.“For a very long time we haven’t had a clear funding mechanism for sports but I want to tell you the good news; the government has committed a special fund to ensure all sportsmen and women have requisite infrastructure and financial support,” he said.The DP added; “In the next month or so the new fund will kick in and we expect to raise resources every year directly going to sports and you will be beneficiaries of that endeavor.”Stars were faced with a financial hiccup before travelling to Ethiopia and had to wait until the eve of their journey to get Sh7.2mn from the government. Previously from a submitted budget of Sh25mn, the Federation had only managed to get Sh4mn.Deputy President William Ruto chats with Harambee Stars head coach Sebastien Migne at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani on October 12, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluThe deficit of about Sh14mn has been sent to the federation to ensure the debts accrued from the Ghana match have been settled and facilitation for this weekend’s tie against Ethiopia is also taken care of. 0Shares0000(Visited 3 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more