Posts tagged ‘college students’


This article originally appeared in The Nation on April 8, 2010.

Despite several letters and numerous protests requesting dialogue with the school administration, it wasn’t until three students duct-taped their mouths and chained themselves to a statue for eight hours that the university finally responded, informing the protesting students by mail that a meeting would indeed be held.

The students were part of a campaign called “Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice,” led by two student groups United Feminists and H*yas for Choice, who combined forces earlier this year for a campaign protesting the lack of reproductive health services provided by the university.

This normally wouldn’t be so contentious an issue for an American university, except for the fact that this is Georgetown, a distinctly Catholic Jesuit University, where contraception is discouraged and student organizations are forbidden from advocating for anything that runs counter to Catholic teachings.

The Plan A campaign has met with both resistance and praise from students and faculty. But the students continue to vocalize their demands: condoms and other forms of contraception made available on campus, information about contraception readily available to students, assistance provided to victims of sexual assault and the same free speech rights given to all student groups no matter what they are advocating.

Perhaps because students don’t have to be Catholic to attend the university, many undergraduates have embraced the campaign’s goals. H*yas for Choice hands out condoms on campus twice a week. Last year over 4,500 condoms were given out, a statistic that, as a member of H*yas for Choice Erica Slates told The Washington Post, shows the need for easier access to contraception on campus.

Despite the group’s optimism, many students see its goals as a waste of time, or even inappropriate, because Georgetown’s policy does not allow university funds to contradict Catholic teachings. Just like the two required Christian theology classes that every student must take, some students feel it is a contradiction to demand contraception from a Catholic university that students knowingly choose to attend. Even the editors of the student newspaper The Hoya bashed the protestors, calling their demands “unrealistic and misguided” because “the university should not be expected to stray from Catholic doctrine to accommodate demands for the availability of on-campus contraceptives.”

But Julia Shindel, a member of the Plan A campaign, insists that this is a health issue, not a religious or ideological one. “While this is a Catholic institution, this is also a university,” Shindel said. “We do not have access to information or resources that are our rights as university students.”

The Hoya’s editorial stance was echoed in a statement from Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, who said, “as a Catholic and Jesuit University, we hold fast to our core values, and we remain committed to policies and approaches that reflect our identity.”

Though Olson’s statement addresses the contraception issue, it does not address Plan A’s demands for free speech to all student organizations. Though United Feminists is officially recognized by the university, H*yas for Choice is not because it labels themselves as a pro-choice group. The group cannot even use the Hoya word in their name because it is the mascot, so they use an asterisk for the “o” instead.

According to Kristina Mitchell, a member of United Feminists who attended the recent meeting on Tuesday, the administration members in attendance “expressed a willingness to try to make things work.” They committed to allowing campus ambulances to provide free transportation to the nearest hospital with rape kits, and they agreed to streamline the process for removing financial barriers to the HPV vaccine.

Next Tuesday members of the campaign will meet with the administration again to discuss their other goals, including the issues of free speech and university recognition for H*yas for Choice. “We’re not endorsing any viewpoints that go against Catholic teaching,” Mitchell explained. “We’re asking the university to allow for a full range of ideas…for open dialogue…and allowing for full choice to exist on campus.”

No matter your views on the availability of contraceptives on campus, silencing certain groups has no place at any university, including those that advocate a certain religious ideology. Georgetown needs to follow through on its self-proclaimed mission of fostering free speech, recognize H*yas for Choice as a legitimate student organization whose voice is allowed a place on campus and allow access to and information about reproductive health services for those students who want it. After Tuesday’s meeting, the students of Plan A are optimistic. After all, “it’s just the beginning,” Shindel reminded.


Apr 8, 2010 at 12:45 am Leave a comment


This article was originally posted at The Temple News on Nov. 28, 2006.


Since the Center for Sustainable Communities was established at Ambler Campus in 2000, Ambler’s reputation for environment work on campus and in the community quickly grew.

Now, some students and faculty members said they think it’s time for Main Campus to follow in Ambler’s ecological footprints.

Main Campus’s Students for Environmental Action group is trying to change Temple’s energy policies and educate students about the environment any way they can, even if it means getting attention in seemingly silly ways.

On Oct. 27, in the midst of an array of Homecoming events, SEA had a table set up in the lobby of the Student Center. While posters, loud music and flyers that they handed out on previous days all drew students’ attention, the fight that the group staged between two students dressed as a windmill and smokestack was the group’s most conspicuous ploy to attract students to their cause.

SEA’s commitment to its message makes the group stand out, according to junior political science major and SEA student government representative, Andrew Kelser.

“I went to a meeting and realized the group was about more than just recycling or some small scale project,” Kelser said.

SEA is the antithesis of “doing nothing” on environmental issues, rather, the organization’s goals are “very ambitious,” according to SEA’s president, Laura Stein. Stein said the club’s ultimate goal is to get Temple to commit to zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2020. A short-term goal is to convince Temple to purchase at least 15 percent wind power by the end of this semester.

These goals are linked to the Campus Climate Challenge, a national environmental challenge for universities’ student organizations that Temple is participating in. This challenge was designed by the Environmental Action Coalition, a partnership founded in 2004 and comprised of over 30 environmental and youth organizations in the United States and Canada, including Greenpeace and the National Wildlife Federation.


The main goal of the challenge is adoption of a 100 percent clean air policy, meaning that each university does not use any energy source that pollutes the air.

One of the advantages to being registered as part of the Challenge is the resources that are available to participating student organizations, Stein said. One of these resources is the Sierra Student Coalition, which works directly with many university student organizations, including Temple’s.

Kim Teplitzky, a former Temple student, works with SEA and the Sierra Student Coalition, helping the club with recruitment methods and their energy proposals.

“I’m not organizing [schools’] campaigns,” Teplitzky said. “But with my past experience at Temple, I can really help them avoid the common pitfalls that I ran into.”

According to Robert Mason, an urban and geography studies professor at Temple, one of these common pitfalls may be keeping students’ interest in the club’s goals. About five years ago the club had made a strong push for wind energy, but the enthusiasm eventually evaporated.

“The club was really sputtering,” Mason said. “But students’ energy now has really picked up.”

Currently, SEA has its highest membership ever with 30 active members and 200 people on its listserv. Many of the club’s members are not environmental studies students.

Kelser said he has noticed that students are very eager and receptive to the goals of the club.

“I think SEA will continue to grow because global warming affects everyone eventually,” he said. “Our goals will affect everyone.”

Though student involvement is increasing, the group said that the participation of Temple’s administration is uncertain. Kurt Bresser, the energy manager at Temple, declined to comment, though the group said that they and Bresser have recently begun talking about energy policies.

In Pennsylvania, 33 schools, including the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, have committed to using some percentage of wind power.

Most students and professors within the environmental studies department or SEA said that they think interest among students won’t be going away anytime soon.

“There is a lot of popular attention to environmental issues now because of general news coverage and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,” Mason said. “This is a window of opportunity for Temple to promote itself as an ecological and environmentally responsible institution.”

Nov 28, 2006 at 10:53 pm Leave a comment


… dedicated, ambitious or just plain crazy – early risers and late-nighters are living their lives with little or no sleep.




The life of a college student – late nights, late classes and sleeping-in. Or maybe not. Here are a few students who challenge the sleep-a-holic stereotype, proving that some students do more in the wee hours of the night than most people do all day.


“I joke with my friends that I do more before the sun comes up than my friends do all day,” said Madie Northrop, a sophomore recreational management major and member of the women’s crew team. Because women’s crew has two seasons, 5:45 a.m. practices last all-year long, Monday through Friday. Team members can sleep in on Saturday, but only a little. Practices begin at 6:30 a.m.

Northrop said there is one positive about the team’s practice times. Kelly Drive is practically empty; she can sleep later and drive faster to practice. One can imagine how tired the members of the team must be when that 10:30 p.m. curfew rolls around.

So how can anyone wake up at 4 a.m. when the only light in sight is emitted
from the alarm clock? According to Northrop, it’s all about positive thinking.

“Of course I’m tired mentally during the day,” she said. “But you push through it. A lot of sports call it ‘breaking through the wall.’ It’s a part of it.”

And there’s more motivation than that. If one practice is missed, the team has to run the stairs of Wachman Hall – all 12 flights. And if that’s not enough, there’s more inspiration. “Having a gold medal around my neck makes it all worth it,” Northrop said.


Weekend or not, most college students love to party. But while few feel pity for the hung-over kid who fails the test in his 8:40 a.m. class, perhaps we should start to feel sympathy for those whose job it is to keep those party animals happy.

Meet Jordan Poole, a junior film and media arts major by day and ‘DJ Royale’ by night. He spends at least three nights a week mixing the songs you dance to at various bars in Center City, house and fraternity parties. While the bar crowd is safe at home on the couch, Poole is still packing up his DJ equipment, waiting for his money and then a cab.

“By the time I get home,” Poole said, “it’s three o’clock at the earliest.” Sometimes he returns home even later when he works fraternity or house parties. Though Poole makes sure he finishes his homework early and said he usually gets enough sleep on a nightly basis, he admits that he eventually ends up feeling worn out. So how does he stay awake during classes, and more importantly, keep his energy up while he’s at work?

He remembers who he is playing for. “I hope for a good turnout. I hope people dance. If not, it makes the night so much longer,” he said. “If the crowd is into it ? I can go from being tired to pumped up.”

But his night doesn’t end when the music stops.One night, Poole came home around 4 a.m. only to find people on his stoop blasting music. “I tried to go to sleep, but I ended up going outside and hanging out until 6 or 7 in the morning,” Poole said.


The sun is just rising. The roads are empty. A peaceful stillness fills the South Philly streets. The only sound comes from his shoes springing off the pavement. If this were a scene straight out of “Rocky,” Matt Makowski is playing Sylvester Stallone’s double.

Makowski, a junior film and media arts major, trains at 7 a.m., six days a week at Philly’s Mixed Martial Arts Academy, located at 1321 Jupiter St. His training, which usually lasts between one and three hours, includes running, jumping rope, shadowboxing, sprints, sparring and boxing with pads.

Makowski has been kickboxing for two years and has since learned the sacrifices that come with being the best. Sometimes he said he feels like he is missing out on parties, especially since can’t afford to be hung over on Saturday mornings. After he finishes sparring on weekdays, he fights to stay awake in class. Sleep is easy for Makowski, but it’s also the enemy.

Sometimes Makowski unconsciously beats his alarm clock to death in the middle of the night. “I’ll wake up after it was supposed to go off and I don’t remember turning it off,” he said while boasting that he manages to wake up no more than half an hour later. “I guess I have a good internal clock, and that wakes me up.”


The TECH Center isn’t the most romantic location for a marriage proposal. But late one night, Adrian Sierkowski was one of a handful of students to witness the scene.

“She said no, but in a very logical way,” Sierkowski said. “She didn’t want it to happen in the TECH Center.” Sierkowski, a junior film and media arts major, is a TECH Center student employee, who works every Thursday night from 11:30 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Sierkowski’s late-night shift actually begins around 9:30 p.m., when he first grabs something to eat once he finishes classes.

“I figured I would just work straight after class, rather than going home and coming right back,” he said.

In order to stay awake and prevent death by boredom during his shift, Sierkowski watches seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy” and other shows on the computers, obsessively checks his MySpace page and drinks about five cups of coffee per night.

At about 6 a.m. the aimless meandering begins. “I can’t fall asleep if I’m walking around,” Sierkowski said. It’s how he keeps himself occupied, until the number of people in the TECH Center begins to multiply.

“People ask me questions and that sort of keeps me awake,” he said. One may expect the shift to get boring, but the night shift is anything but. “The weirdest stuff happens during the overnight shift,” Sierkowski said.

Proposals at 4 a.m., people falling asleep while they work, police escorting
a homeless man away and a group of girls watching gay porn in a conference room, just to name a few. But the strangest occurrence is due to nature.

“Every night at 4 a.m. these birds start flying into everything – buildings, trees, parked cars,” Sierkowski said.

“And then they land on the street and stop moving. It’s so surreal. It’s dead silent and nobody’s around.”

So what could possess any student to work the night shift at the TECH Center? The $14 per hour pay rate? The strange incidents that occur? Try something else.

“Sometimes I’m stopped in the street during the day by students who recognize me,” Sierkowski said. “They say, ‘Hey, you work at the TECH Center and you helped me finish my project at 4 a.m.!'” It seems a little appreciation can go a long way or, more accurately, a long night.

Nov 14, 2006 at 10:34 pm Leave a comment

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