Campus News

The world’s deadliest terror group is also the most uncovered — Elon University Boko Haram Panel

by Mariah Posey | Feb. 15, 2017

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We know of ISIS, of Al Qaeda, of the attacks in Paris, of the crisis in Aleppo. But what about the massive tragedy that’s been going on since 2009, caused by what the Global Terrorism Index considers to be the deadliest terror group of the world: Boko Haram? In order to initiate necessary conversation surrounding the massive terror group’s impact, the Elon Politics Forum (EPF) hosted a panel Wednesday, Feb. 15 7-8p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space in partnership with Elon African Society.

The panel answered a series of critical questions: what can regional governments and United Nations do to promote female equality; how does the country go about achieving economic equality; what do we tell those persecuted because of Boko Haram? However, amongst these, one question in particular stood out and set the tone for what the major takeaway of the event would be.

“Why aren’t international terrorists like Boko Haram being covered on an international level?” asked sophomore Thomas Armooh, moderator of the event. It was one of the few questions that evoked a passionate response out of each of the panelists.

Expanding our worldly outlook

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Photo by Mariah Posey | Boko Haram panel members: (left to right) Bridget Smith, Dr. Ariela Marcus-Sells, David Olatidoye, Muhammad Musah.

“There’s this perception that ISIS and Al Qaeda might come here and hurt Americans … but Boko Haram is focused on first Nigeria and then Africa,” said senior panelist Bridget Smith. Because there’s no direct threat to America, she explained, “They’re easy to discount. They’re easy to dismiss.”

But that dismissal is exactly the problem according to senior panelist Muhammad Musa, who says that in order to see real change, “international cooperation is essential.” As a reporter stationed in Lagos, Nigeria for eight months, Musah was closer to Boko Haram’s threat than most will ever be. He constantly covered the mass killings and wrote headlines like, “14 Murdered in Bomb Blast,” but says even he recognized the apathy around him.

Because the people of Lagos felt distant from the terror going on just north of them, they lacked consideration. When people aren’t connected, Musah said, they don’t care. For him, that is why the educational aspect of Nigeria’s conflict with Boko Haram is so important.

Education is important, but so is money

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Photo by Mariah Posey | Senior Prateek Patel introduces topic and panel members

“There has to be an effort to talk to these Islamic teachers and tell them that it’s important to take away any radicalization in teaching,” he said.

One of the issues brought up in the panel was the lack of enforced education in Nigeria and how it perpetuates the negative impact of Boko Haram by ostracizing girls who are kidnapped by them. Because these girls are often raped and end up having the children of Boko Haram members, they are distrusted and rejected. Their infiltration has become so regular that even the government can’t decipher who’s a part of the terrorist organization and who’s not.

“Although education may lead to stability, it does not lead to jobs,” Marcus-Sells said.

Often, Nigerians feel immense financial pressure and view joining Boko Haram as a quick way to get paid. Musah seconded her statement adding that, “In a country like Nigeria, if you’re not connected to power you’re not going to touch money. So you going to school is a waste of your time.”

Marcus-Sells asked why a parent would risk their source of money to send their kids through years of schooling.

“If you don’t have an answer to that question, then none of these initiatives will ever work,” she said. “It almost feels like a disservice to have them spend four years getting that education for nothing to come out of it … In order for there to be that education, there needs to be employment.”

Elon’s Role

When asked what role students can play in aiding Nigeria’s cause, Marcus-Sells advised that whenever we have the means to give, to do so in a way that goes directly to the people in need. According to her, local organizations are more effective than larger ones such as the American Red Cross.

“If you can bypass the large aid organizations and go directly to the people already there … that can be really helpful,” she said.

She encouraged students to take the initiative to further educate themselves on foreign affairs, especially in countries like Africa and post the news that they find.

“For every negative article you post, post three positive ones,” she said. “People assume that all the things happening in Africa are terrible [and] they get exhausted because we all get exhausted by sadness.”

Lastly, she advised to not get caught up in the pressure to act on a large scale.

“My advice to students on all levels,” Marcus-Sells said, “[is] if you think smaller you might actually have a larger impact.”

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A ‘light-hearted’ card making event at the Maker Hub

by Mariah Posey | Feb. 13, 2017

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Photo by Mariah Posey | Valentine’s Day cards created by Maker Hub staff using a vinyl silhouette cutter.

What better way to tackle complex machinery than to make Valentine’s Day cards with it? To celebrate the heartfelt holiday and kick off the 2017 year, the Maker Hub hosted their Crafty Cards event 7-8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13 in Harper Hall using a vinyl silhouette cutter to create fun Valentine Day cards.

“It’s the best piece of equipment in here for making cards and we figured Valentine Day cards were something that a lot of people would like to do based on what people have come to for past events,” said Maker Hub employee senior Sabrina van der Gracht. “The two seemed to go together and it was a good way to bring up that piece of equipment.”

To get attendees familiar with the equipment and software being used before jumping in, the event began with a step-by-step tutorial displayed on an overhead screen.

“It just shows a grid which is how the program works,” said sophomore Anthony Fraden. “There’s also a grid on a pad where you place the paper so it shows you how to size in one-square inch. Then it’d be basic cutting tools and basic ways to design shapes and different card styles so that we could make cards. We just go through the process doing some trial and error with different images and ultimately got some really cool cards out of it.”

Fraden described hub events as a “light-hearted space where everyone can be welcomed.” Although some of the equipment available in the hub can be challenging and require skill, he says that for the most part everything is open and accessible to everyone. While some things may require minor supervision, nothing is explicitly off-limits.

“Sometimes there [may be] little aspects about it that people don’t quite connect but after a bit of explaining and showing hands-on, people usually pick it up right away,” he said.

Senior Kat Westover was one of the attendees who was able to get the process down pretty quickly, even managing to manipulate a design into the computer software.

“I think it went pretty well,” Gracht said. “Kat’s been working on the silhouette cutter and at first it was a little bit rough, but after a couple of tries she’s basically doing it by herself.”

 

Another attendee, junior Sarah Hennenkamp, also ended the event feeling accomplished. She decided to make a card filled with cinnabons based on a running joke between her and her boyfriend. She says although she didn’t have many expectations regarding what she wanted to create, she likes how they turned out.

Gracht recognizes the Maker Hub as a place of humble beginnings for many event attendees and welcomes the learning process.

“For events in here, it’s usually people who have never used the equipment before,” Gracht said. “Because these are kind of starters to get people’s feet wet in how to use the equipment, it’s a good way to start with something simple that way they can come back in later.”

Elon University President Leo Lambert expects 2017 to be an exciting year as he plans to step down as president

by Mariah Posey | Feb. 13, 2017

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Leo Lambert

Since 1999, Elon University has seen enrollment grow from 4,000 to more than 6,700 and full-time faculty more than double under the leadership of President Leo Lambert. But even great success is deserving of great change.

For Elon, that change looks like Leo Lambert.

During his board of trustees meeting Feb. 10, President Lambert announced that he plans to step down from his presidency sometime next year after Elon’s ninth president has been hired.

“I expect 2017 will be an exciting time at Elon,” Lambert said. “We have important goals to pursue and much to accomplish in the months ahead.”

He assures that in recruiting a new president, the continuity of leadership for Elon’s key initiatives will not be lost as his team anticipates what the university’s next strategic plan will look like once created and implemented.

Program assistant for fraternity & sorority life Margie Watkins says the succeeding president will have large shoes to fill, but is confident that Lambert will make sure the selection is done properly.

“I’m hoping and I’m sure that he will help to guide that selection process so that his vision and the university’s vision will continue in what we already had accomplished,” Watkins said. “And I’m sure he’s looking as well as the selection committee for someone who will broaden the vision and take us further.”

In order to find Elon’s ninth president, a 15-member search committee consisting of eight trustees including one young alumnus/alumna, three faculty members, two students, one staff member and one member of Elon’s senior staff is being formed by Elon’s Board of Trustees. Set to chair the committee is trustee and former board chair Wes Elingburg.

“President Lambert has helped create an optimistic and collegial culture that promotes continual progress and innovation,” Elingburg said. “Our goal is to find a leader who is ready to embrace the exhilarating challenge of building an ever-stronger Elon, continuing to expand our university’s influence as a leader in higher education.”

Since the start of Lambert’s presidency Elon has risen to the No. 1 ranked Southern University by U.S. News & World Report, up from its No. 16 spot. He has also been a huge proponent of the university’s campus expansion with more than 100 buildings having been added during his tenure.

But with that expansion has not come a loss of focus. Lambert has remained a dedicated advocate for the highest levels of academic excellence. With a priority to fund increased student financial aid, the university’s endowment has quadrupled to $230 million. The number of endowed scholarships has also more than doubled to a total of 613 since Lambert’s presidency.

Though Lambert has undoubtedly remained busy during his years at Elon, he’s still been able to form important connections with both staff and students alike. Senior Sophia Berlin says that having attended some of his dinners, she recognizes his large impact.

“He’s super personable and I think he’s a great leader for Elon,” Berlin said. “It’ll be a big change … People are very accepted in his presence.”

Once he has officially stepped down, Lambert plans to take a sabbatical year dedicated to writing and afterwards continue serving Elon as president emeritus and professor. From his new role, he will work primarily to back the university’s advancement office and alumni engagement efforts.

“We have created a nationally distinctive university renowned for experiential and engaged learning, with a premium on the quality of human relationships,” Lambert said. “Our success has been a team effort, the result of a committed Board of Trustees, brilliant faculty and staff, loyal alumni and generous and supportive parents — everyone working together with a shared belief that we are building a university that is making a profound impact.”

 

Jump into Spring Convocation, stumble upon Daniel Gilbert’s guide to happiness and success March 30

by Mariah Posey | Feb. 10, 2017

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Daniel Gilbert

Popular TED Talk lecturer and Harvard psychologist, Daniel Gilbert, will be speaking at Elon University’s Spring Convocation at 3:30p.m. March 30 in Alumni Gym. His 2007 book, “Stumbling on Happiness,” was one of New York Times’s Bestsellers for six months and has been translated into more than 30 languages.

“He’s a great example of Elon’s priority on bringing world leaders and scholars to campus giving students, faculty, and staff a chance to interact with people who have challenging and inspiring ideas,” said vice president of university communications Dan Anderson.

He aims to teach people the importance of discovering their own happiness and understanding its effect on business strategy, sales and marketing, and understanding customers. In 2013, Gilbert launched a series of television commercials in partnership with Prudential Financial, a life insurance company, to encourage Americans to save for retirement in preparation for their futures. According to his website, the advertising campaign has been one of the most successful in the history of the financial services industry.

“Gilbert is widely known for his research into having a great quality of life,” Anderson said. “His best seller ‘Stumbling On Happiness’ and three popular TED Talks have popularized his work as a professional psychologist.”

His TED Talks have gained traction of more than 20 million views and his first one is the 15 most popular of all time. Gilbert has also been named one of the world’s 50 most-followed scientists on social media in 2014.

Tickets for Spring Convocation will be available as of March 9. General admission is $13 or free with an Elon ID.

Apocalypse now and again: upcoming Elon symposium to explore apocalyptic belief throughout culture

by Mariah Posey | Feb. 02, 2017
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Photo by Elon University

Beginning next week Thursday, there’s only one way to miss the apocalypse: class. Otherwise you’re in for three jam-packed days of lively discussion from scholars on the topic of apocalyptic thought and practice.

From February 9 through the 10, Elon University’s Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society (CSRCS) will be sponsoring a symposium titled “On The Edge of Apocalypse: New Directions in the Interdisciplinary Study of Religion” in the Numen Lumen Multifaith Center on campus.

“Elon is committed to educating the community about the role of religious ideas in society and to advancing research—by both students and faculty—about the role of religion in society,” said CSRCS director and professor of religion studies Brian Pennington. “This symposium is an opportunity for Elon faculty to collaborate with other academics from the U.S. and Canada on a common research project.”

The three-day symposium will feature 11 scholars from all over North America and also provide students with a chance to receive feedback on their individual projects during its poster session.

Pennington defines “Apocalyptic thought” as the idea that refers to the world coming to an end through “violent, cataclysmic causes,” especially in its relation to religion.

“Often this kind of thinking involves God appearing on Earth or sending deputies to crush evil-doers and reward the righteous,” Pennington said.

According to Pennington, one main purpose of the symposium is to demonstrate how various and widespread apocalyptic ideas are.

“Therefore we have scholars who study many religious traditions—from Christianity to Islam to Hinduism—as well as those who study popular culture,” he said. “The topics of papers is incredibly varied: we have scholars speaking about Christian theme park The Holy Land Experience, Hindu fans of Donald Trump, the television show ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,’ and Black Lives Matter.”

Though Pennington acknowledges that some of the presentations and discussions may not appeal to a general audience, he says the keynote address to be given by David Cook of Rice University on February 9 is “definitely something we want Elon students, faculty, and the public to attend.”

For more information on the symposium and schedule, you can visit http://blogs.elon.edu/ontheedge/.