COAS Includes Interdisciplinary Course in New Proposal

Written by: Kashay Bowens, Jeran Lantz-Robbins, Charlotte Stefanski, Emily Yager

The College of Arts and Sciences working group recently submitted a proposal in regards to the college’s general education requirement, which included an interdisciplinary education course, something most of the group thought would be a positive experience for students, said Jeff Malanson.

Malanson, the chair of the committee, said the working group spent two semesters on forming the proposal, but one idea they kept coming back to was an interdisciplinary course.

Janet Badia, the director of women’s studies and a member of the working group, said, “In its ideal form it would entail three professors teaching the class together. It would be team teaching importantly in the sense of all three professors being present in the class for all sixteen weeks.”

An example she gave included a class covering the human body. She said each professor would give a perspective from the humanities side, the social sciences side, and the science side.

According to Malanson, the course would be problem based class taken during a student’s freshman year. The course would teach students how experts from each discipline would approach the same topic.

“Instead of an intro to science, it’s a specific issue that they might be passionate about,” Malanson said. “It gives them this opportunity to engage in a more meaningful learning experience from day one that might help them feel more engaged with the university.”

Malanson said the course could also be used as a recruitment tool for the university.

“I’m not saying we’d be the first to ever do it, but it’s not a common thing, and especially not for students who are coming to a regional campus that has far fewer resources than IU or Purdue,” Malanson said.

The group is made up of 16 members, each being from a different department within the College of Arts and Sciences. It was formed in the fall of 2013 when IPFW implemented a new general education program.

“When our general education system changed, it created certain issues in the curriculum that the faculty felt needed addressed,” Nancy Virtue, a French professor and member of the working group, said. “The working group was charged with exploring how we might address certain weaknesses in the current requirements.”

According to Malanson, four of the group members voted against the proposal in its entirety, not just the interdisciplinary course. Those who did not agree with the interdisciplinary course were concerned about the logistics of maintaining the course.

“It probably would be very difficult for smaller departments to lend faculty to teach that course, so it would not have the full flavor of all the College of Arts and Sciences disciplines,” Timothy Grove, an associate professor of physics at the university, said. “I would argue that it’s not really a matter of teaching methods. It’s more a matter of give a dose of this, give a dose of that. It’s more of say filling out a shopping cart list than anything I would consider a teaching method.”

“The next thing up in this process is figuring out how we can actually do this responsibly. We don’t want to adopt a set of requirements that we can’t actually give our students in a meaningful way,” Malanson said.

According to Virtue, the proposal currently sits with the College of Arts and Sciences executive committee, who are currently determining the next steps in how to move forward with the proposal.

Inflammatory Statement Found on Diversity Wall Not Considered Crime

Written by: Kashay Bowens, Charlotte Stefanski, Jeran Lantz-Robbins

After the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs found a racial epitaph written on the diversity wall, the IPFW Police were able to identify the individual who wrote the statement. According to IPFW Chief of Police Julie Yunker, the action was not a direct violation of the law.

Ken Christmon, the associate vice chancellor for the department, said his staff discovered the inflammatory statement on Nov. 18, and he immediately contacted the university police.

“We did a very aggressive thing and put out a statement out to let people know that we’re not

going to tolerate this,” Christmon said.  “There is no threat, there is no intent, it does not rise to the level of mass alerts, but it did have a hate tone to it.”

During their investigation, Yunker said her officers took statements from those in the department’s office and reviewed surveillance footage. They were able to identify the individual who wrote the statement and brought him in for questioning.

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act limits access to a student’s education records, including campus police reports, so the student has not yet been named.

After the investigation, Christmon said the student was not trying to insight fear, but wrote it as a sarcastic statement.

The diversity wall in the department allows students to write their opinions in response to questions and topics proposed by the department in erasable marker.

“The diversity is a free speech wall, we came up with the program because we felt like students wanted to get their voices heard,” said Christmon. “Our original thought was to leave it up there and create dialog at first, because it’s on a free speech wall, but the police department advised us that is was better to take it down.”

“We further affirm that we will not allow a statement of hate to go unchallenged. We will not forget that the words were posted,” Carl Drummond, the vice chancellor of academic affairs, said on behalf of Chancellor Carwein in an email sent out to students. “We remain committed to our cherished values of inclusion and intellectual integrity and to challenging hatred and ignorance with clearer thinking and strong ideas for an inclusive and respectful way of life.”

According to Yunker, what the student did cannot be prosecuted, because it did not fall under the category of a criminal violation.

She said if the student would have used spray paint to write the message instead of the erasable markers provided at the diversity wall, then it would have been a criminal violation. However, since there was no permanent damage, it cannot be considered vandalism or criminal mischief.

Yunker also said the statement could not be considered a hate crime for two reasons, and said, “Hate crimes are actual crimes that exist and have this attribute of some kind of hate against a group. With no permanent damage and no crime, there is no hate crime.”

Indiana is also one of five states to not recognize hate crimes as criminal violations, which Yunker said was another “eye-opener” for people on campus.

With nothing able to be done in a criminal arena, Yunker said the university can take action against the person for having violated the student code of conduct. However, Dean of Students Eric Norman chose not to comment on if he was continuing an investigation.

IPFW Faculty and Students Support Syrian Refugees

IPFW faculty and students organized two events to support Syrian refugees on Dec. 2, including a rally and a panel. The rally served as a peaceful event in response to Indiana closing its borders to refugees, according to Farah Combs and Nancy Virtue, who organized the event.

The rally allowed students, faculty and community members of Fort Wayne to express their support for the Syrian refugees in an outdoor, open-mic setting.

“I wanted to show Fort Wayne, Indiana and the United States in general that people on college campuses are paying attention to these events and they do support refugees,” Elana Merritt, a junior who helped organize the rally, said.

“Our goals were to speak out in support of the Syrian refugees, and to make some sort of public statement in solidarity and support,” Virtue, who is also a French professor at the university, said. “It was a really great opportunity to introduce a competing voice, and to let people know perception is not uniformly against the refugees.”

Three days after the attacks on Paris, Gov. Mike Pence joined at least 15 other governors around the country and said he would close Indiana’s borders to Syrian refugees until “proper security measures are in place.”

As of Nov. 19, 31 governors said the refugees are not welcome in their state, according to CNN.

During the two-hour period, attendees wrote postcards to Pence and signed a petition to allow Syrian refugees into Indiana. According to Combs, the university’s Arabic professor, 100 preaddressed postcards were filled out and sent to the governor.

Qmr Aldik, a Syrian student who came to the United States in 2011, said, “All I want to tell him is that he might be in this position one day, and it’s not their fault to be fleeing their home.”

Montha Thach, a junior at IPFW, was also present at the event. She said she was supportive of the refugees because her own parents were once refugees.

“I just feel like Syrian refugees are not here to threaten us. They’re just here because they want a chance to live just like we do,” Thach said. “As humans, we should all support each other in times of need, so I feel like Mike Pence should open up his heart instead of shutting them out.”

Steven Carr, the director of the university’s Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, said that he saw similarities in the Syrian refugee crisis and when the United States turned down more than 900 Jewish refugees as they were trying to flee persecution from Nazi Germany in 1939.

“Given that we know what the history is now, do we really want to make those same kind of mistakes?” Carr said during the rally. “Do we want to be so cold hearted and so lacking of compassion that we are willing again, despite the historical record, to turn away people who are fleeing persecution?”

However, not all students at the university support the idea of refugees entering the United States. Alexis Taylor, a freshman majoring in business at the university, agreed with Pence’s stance, and said the United States should help the many homeless Americans in the country first.

“I think we would need intense filtering of the refugees to ensure that none of them are potential members of ISIS,” Taylor said. “Plus, we need to help our people first before we can open up to all of these other countries.”

According to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the vetting process a refugee must go through is a 13- step process including screening from the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, DHS, the Department of Defense and other agencies.

Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement that the refugees have the “highest level of security screening of any category of traveler to the United States.”

The panel held later that night at the university aimed to engage the panelists and audience in a conversation about the Syrian refugee crisis, according to Assem Nasr, who moderated the event.

Nasr, assistant professor in the Department of Communication, posed questions to a group of panelists including activists Sam Jarjour, Caleb Jehl and Amar Masri and university professors Ann Livschiz and Jaime Toole.

Jarjour, Jehl and Masri had recently taken a trip to Europe to film a documentary on the Syrian refugee crisis.

During the panel, Jehl said, “By this point they’ve generally taken a boat out across five miles of sea in a little dingy without a pilot. If they’re lucky enough to survive that, they’ve gotten to Greece and they’re taking another boat to somewhere else to walk their way through Europe.”

“The boats were safer than the land they were escaping, that was a common story we heard,” Jarjour, who is a board chair of the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace, said. “We heard people talking about languishing in camps for four years with no hope and no security.”

According to the UN Refugee Agency, about 2 million registered refugees live in Turkey, more than a million live in Lebanon and over a half million live in Jordan.

Jarjour, Jehl and Masri also said the Syrians they met came from many different backgrounds, with most of them being educated. Some of the people they met included doctors, lawyers and pharmacists, who Jarjour said would be an “asset to our community.”

“They happen to be from all walks of life,” Masri said during the panel. “We met factory workers, we met farmers, we met a tractor driver. They just left there for the sake of safety and for a better life.”

“There’s a rich history of Syrian immigration to Fort Wayne that’s 100 years old, and people don’t even realize this,” Jarjour said. “The notion that we can exclude one nationality when they need us most because of that nationality is antithetical to American values, in my opinion.”

Nasr currently works with a group to resettle Syrian refugees in Fort Wayne, and said it’s a matter of when they are resettled, not if.

“We all miss that we’re human at the end of the day,” Nasr said. “Our biggest goal at this point in time is to talk to people and to bring an awareness of we are having people come into the city. We’re going to need to have all of the help that you can give. If you don’t have enough time, money, or resources, at least be generous enough to be welcoming and hospitable.”

Student Organizations Find Outside Funding Beneficial When Requesting Funds from Student Government

Written by: Rachel Abraham, Alexandria Rairigh, Jeran Lantz-Robbins, Charlotte Stefanski, Emily Yager

African Student Association received $55 more than requested from the IPFW Student Senate, but according to James Hoppes, the legislative committee chair, the senate encourages organizations to get outside funding.

Eseosa Igbinijesu, African student association treasurer, and Emmanuel Okendu, African student association vice president, requested $245 to fund “A Taste of Africa,” an event which will showcase foods from Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, and the Republic of Congo.

During the senate meeting, Bradley Crowe, the ways and means chair, asked if the amount was enough to fund an event expecting 50 to 100 attendees.

Student senator Logan Torres moved to amend the bill to $300, which student senator Kate Keil said she found frustrating. “We’re not there to amend things to give more money to people that haven’t requested more,” Keil said.

But Keil said she revised her position on the amended bill because it helped the association.

The senate passed the bill and amendment to increase the amount to $300, unanimously.

Student senator Andrew Kreager said while it’s not common for the senate to give organizations more money than they request, he does agree with the senate’s decision.

“If we think something needs to be more funded so that it is a successful event, we should do that,” Kreager said. “That is our part as senators representing the student body to make sure that things are successful.”

Igbinijesu said their organization would not have been able to hold the event without receiving funds from the senate.

“We’re really new so we tried to collect membership fees, but it would not have covered this at all,” she said.

According to Hoppes, student organizations are encouraged to seek funding from outside sources other than just student government.

“We don’t have enough money to fund everybody,” Hoppes said.

Hoppes said the senate would like to fully fund students, but they also want to spread the money out.

Mitchell Olney, president of the rugby club, said he received funding from businesses before going in front of the student senate. He said this helped the rugby club’s case.

“They liked that we were self-sufficient and that we could generate our own funds,” Olney said, “and that we weren’t just coming to them and asking for charity.”

Anthropology club treasurer, Mike Plasterer, said his organization had already raised $150 through donations when he presented to the senate. “I think that definitely gave us brownie points from them,” Plasterer said.

According to Kelsie Gillig, president of the anthropology club, the process of requesting funds from the senate was fairly straightforward.

“Everyone has the same process to go through,” Plasterer said. “Everyone has the same opportunity to get the funds.”

“If there’s a group of students who wants to have a pogo stick competition on campus, it’s not my job to judge whether or not I would do pogo-sticking,” Crowe said. “It’s something they want to do. Therefore, we should be able to help them in that endeavor.”

Kreager said he hopes “A Taste of Africa” gets 100 attendees and the organization is able to engage students in what they are eating and gain an insight into African culture.

“A Taste of Africa” will be held Dec. 2 at noon in the Walb International Ballroom.