Multimedia journalism by Mariah Posey | March 27, 2017
Behind the powerful style of dance linked to African American culture and the nine National Pan-Hellenic Council Greek organizations is a powerful history that transcends centuries. What began as a means of survival for South African gold miners during the 19th century has become a unifying art form for an entire culture.
In the 1880s during the Apartheid in South Africa, oppressive laws and harsh working conditions restricted the freedoms miners had. With dark work environments and forbiddance to speak with one other, the miners were left to find an alternative. Their solution involved the few things they could actually rely on: their bodies, gumboots and rhythm. Through slapping their boots, stomping their feet and rattling their shackles, they created beats and a strong form of communication called “Gumboot dancing.”
Eventually, the style of communication morphed into a style of dance called “stepping” that landed on Howard University’s campus in the 1920s. Through the decades, it continued to evolve incorporating vocal expressions. It has since weaved its way into the proud histories of NPHC Greek organizations.
In order to educate the students of Elon University on how stepping became a signature of black Greek organizations, NPHC hosted “The History of Stepping” this Monday March 27 in Moseley 215 at 5:30 p.m.
According to junior Janaé Williams, one of the panelists and member of the Xi Omicron chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, both stepping and strolling are linked to NPHC organizations but differ in their purposes.
“In stepping you use your body as the instrument in which you communicate a message whereas in strolling, you’re not so much an instrument but you’re moving in ways that are the same as the other members of your organization,” Williams said. “That’s why strolling is usually done in a line to perform unity between the brotherhood of sisterhood of your organization. Stepping doesn’t necessarily have to be in a line as long as your synchronized and making the same beats also making one sound.”
But although the organizations are known for their precise steps, it is not the forefront of their brotherhoods and sisterhoods according to senior Chris Blair, a member of the Sigma Mu chapter of Omega Psi Phi. He said servicing the community is what they most take pride in.
“We service the community and the people around us,” Blair said. “Each and every organization prides themselves off of service. It’s not about just looking good within each other, it’s about trying to help build the community. That’s what all of the fraternities and sororities were built off of. That’s how they were founded and that’s what they strive to do.”
by Mariah Posey | Feb. 15, 2017
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
“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
“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.”
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.”
by Mariah Posey | Feb. 13, 2017
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.”
by Mariah Posey | Feb. 10, 2017
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.
by Mariah Posey | Feb. 02, 2017
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/.