What Comes Next: A Response to Public Safety Withholds 2015 Incident Reports


By: Atiya Irvin-Mitchell

In 1986 at Lehigh University a young woman named Jeanne Clery was raped and brutally murdered by a fellow student in her dorm room on a campus her parents say she adored. Jeanne Clery was the youngest of three children, she was a talented tennis player, she planned to study communications, and she never lived to be twenty.

Why is Jeanne Clery’s story important? In the aftermath upon discovering the university’s crime record and the negligence, they felt contributed to their daughter’s death her parents sued. The Clerys were ultimately awarded 2 million dollars, but that wasn’t enough.

They wanted more, they wanted campuses to be safer.

“Jeanne didn’t have a chance. She didn’t have a chance.” That’s what Connie Clery said about her daughter. Feeling that too many colleges cared more about money than the safety of their students the Clerys used the money awarded to found the Clery Center and lobbied for the Clery Act. As a result of this law every October universities both private and public are required to release a report of all crimes and incidents that took place on campus in the past three years.

When Chatham’s yearly report was released this fall, some students on campus were dubious of the numbers reported. So the Communique investigated. Despite a reporter asking for the 2015 records more than once this investigation only provided more questions than answers. Why doesn’t Public Safety know they were required to release the logbooks to any interested party within 48 hours? Why aren’t members of the Chatham administration clear on what crimes must be reported and what it takes to deem them unfounded?

This is deeply problematic and unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Chatham University has been criticized for its handling of such matters. Last Spring Chatham students expressed frustration with Public Safety’s delayed action in informing the student body about a number of sexual assaults that took place near the University of Pittsburgh’s campus. In October at the “We Are Steubenville,” theatrical performance during the audience participatory portion of the event several students texted in that they felt unsafe on Chatham’s campus and questioned how much the administration cared about victims of sexual violence.   

Parents and students look at Clery reports before choosing a university, they should never have reason to question the authenticity of the crime statistics. Jeanne Clery’s own parents said if they had known the true history of violence on Lehigh’s campus she would never have attended.  

Chatham can offer crime prevention classes. It can host Take Back The Night rallies. And pass out “It’s on Us,” stickers until there’s no tomorrow. But if the administration isn’t willing to follow through when it really matters all of this is lip service. And let’s be clear.  A bad date is being stood up. A bad date is spending hours with someone who won’t shut up about their ex. A bad date is something you’ll eventually be able to laugh about. Sexual assault, however, causes damage that can last for years. How can we deal with that damage while using outdated euphemisms and platitudes? So here are a few recommendations:

  1. Use the words: They’re ugly and awful because the crimes they describe are ugly and awful. Don’t downplay that.
  2. Release the logs: Seriously, the law says that you’re required to.
  3. Be transparent: In the absence of transparency, we can only assume the worst. See recommendations number two.

It would be pointless to speculate about the intentions of those involved without mindreading abilities and a time machine. But as the year has unfolded unfortunately it seems clear that many of those most responsible for enforcing the Clery Act on Chatham’s Campus lack a complete understanding of what is required of them. This is very dangerous. Chatham needs to do better. To do anything less would be a disgrace to Chatham University’s mission and Jeanne Clery’s memory.

For more information:https://clerycenter.org/policy-resources/



David Finegold named new university president

-UPDATE- 03/03/2016, 9:25 p.m.

Chatham students, faculty, and staff, as well as the board of trustees and presidential search committee, filled the chapel on Thursday, March 3, in anticipation of the announcement of who the next university president would be. It was announced that Dr. David Finegold would be Chatham University’s next president.

Since President Esther Barazzone announced her retirement last June, the Presidential Search Committee — made up of trustee, alumnae, and two students — went on the hunt for a worthy candidate.

After nine months, the Presidential Search committee unanimously recommended Finegold, and the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to elect him as the university’s 19th president.

Finegold was introduced as having over 30 years of experience in higher education including impressive statistics showing how he increased funds and faculty size at other institutions. During his speech to the community, he made several points about his beliefs and where he plans to take Chatham in the future.

Finegold began by commending Chatham’s environment and innovative history of providing resources to women. He addressed the gender inequality in the world and the opportunity Chatham has as a newly coeducational university to educate male students on the value of gender equality.

Finegold also addressed his work with American Honors, a program that is dedicated to making higher education available to all students. Finegold is the Chief Academic Officer of this program and plans to use these values to also make Chatham as accessible as possible to all.

Before wrapping up, Finegold brought up ideas such as reforms in undergraduate and graduate education, improving retention, enhancing Chatham’s schools and amenities such as the arboretum, and getting alumnae and Chatham stakeholders more involved with students. He said he wants Chatham to be the “go to” for those who are “eco-minded” and those who want to learn to be global leaders. Finally he spoke about wanting to support and expand the Women’s Institute and bring more women leaders to campus.

Finegold said his goal is not for radical change, but to follow through and give attention to things that have already been implemented while also working with Chatham’s limited resources.

Finegold was eager to hear from the Chatham community and encouraged the audience to look out for town halls, forums, invitations to Greg House, and possibly a chance to do yoga with his wife, Sue.

-ORIGINAL COPY- 03/03/2016, 12:24 p.m.

In an all campus update meeting on Thursday, March 3, Dr. David Finegold was announced to be Chatham University’s 19th president. His presidency will begin on July 1, 2016.

Finegold, who has worked in higher education for over 30 years, cited continuing Chatham’s tradition of working towards gender equity and engaging alumni as some of his goals for his presidency.

This appointment comes exactly nine months after current president Esther Barazzone announced her retirement on June 3, 2015. She has served as president of the university for nearly 25 years.

Little Red Riding Vogue: On the Subject of Dress Shopping

indigoWith Chatham’s Holiday Ball sneaking up on us, it’s a good thing we had Thanksgiving break. But for those of you who couldn’t run home during break to pick up your favorite Homecoming dress, you have the perfect excuse to go shopping. And for those of you who just like any excuse to buy a new dress or new shoes, I completely understand.

Whether you realize it or not, there are an endless supply of shops at your disposal in Shadyside and Squirrel Hill. Walnut Street for example, is just a few blocks away and houses all of your favorite trendy shops.

On Walnut Street you can pick up a retro mini-dress from American Apparel. Dress prices usually range from about $40 to $50. If you’re looking for something more festive, it’s best to opt for one of their many velvet or turtleneck dresses. For something more daring, flaunt what you’ve got in one of their Too-Short Tube Dresses or a colorful spandex jersey dress.

Also in the medium-budget-range, you’ll find Francesca’s. Whether you’re looking for a flowing maxi-dress or an easygoing mini-dress, Francesca’s is the place to go. In comparison to American Apparel’s comfortably simple style, Francesca’s is the store to check out if you’re more into unique prints and textures.

Photo: Indigo Baloch/ First year Meg Scanlon shows off her dress.

Photo: Indigo Baloch/ First Year Meg Scanlon shows off her dress.

If you’ve got quite a bit more money to spend, J. Crew is always an option. It’s the best place on Walnut Street to pick up a chic, high-quality cocktail dress. From chambray to chiffon, they have you covered. The only downside, of course, is the huge price tag. But if you’re looking to splurge and you think you’ll wear it more than once, J. Crew is the perfect place to shop.

As far as shoes go, all of the above mentioned shops carry shoes that usually follow the price range of their individual shops. If you’re looking for just shoes though, there’s always Bondstreet Shoes and Ten Toes. When it comes to prices, Ten Toes is probably a safer bet if you’re looking to save money, but either store will happily help you find your “sole mate.”

When it comes to the style of shoe, it’s really all about your personality—but know that good shoes will take you good places. Obviously, walking up Chapel Hill in kitten heels or wedges through 10 inches of snow isn’t a great option, but what you can do is buy a pair of foldable ballet flats and wear those while walking. You can hide them in your clutch when you aren’t using them and then slip them out whenever you need to walk a lot or your feet just start aching from all the dancing.

If you don’t have time to be running around Shadyside and Squirrel Hill, another option is to take advantage of the shopping shuttles Chatham offers. On the weekends, there are usually shuttles going to malls like The Waterfront, Ross Park Mall, or Pittsburgh Mills. Shop comfortably at stores you know and love like Charlotte Russe, Forever 21, Macy’s and JCPenney.

If you’re the anti-social type, you can always choose the online route and order from a site like Modcloth or Urban Outfitters. Both range in prices depending on each individual product, but you can expect great quality from either shop.

Never feel constricted in your style if you live on campus. There are dozens of stores available to you whether you choose to walk, drive or shop online.

Ukulele Club: the happiest club on campus

It is hard not to be familiar with the Ukulele Club after their heartwarming performance at the campus talent show and reprise at Relay for Life. After performing “Butterfly Nets” by Bishop Allen at the talent show and winning third place, the small club became a household name on campus.

The quirky club was started at the beginning of last year by sophomore Phoebe Armstrong, who was a first year at the time. Since then, the club has grown quite a bit. “I never imagined that the Ukulele Club would actually be a thing,” Armstrong said. “But now it is, and now we’re going to spread joy across Chatham’s campus.”

When asked how many members the club had, Armstrong said that she counts anyone who comes to a single meeting as a member, so she does not have a definitive number of members.

The number of members has certainly jumped since their performance. Maggie McGovney, a first year and a new member, agreed that she joined because of how impressed she was with the talent show performance.

“I’ve tried a lot of instruments before in my life. I’ve played flute, I’ve played clarinet, I’ve played saxophone—lots of percussion—but I’ve never really liked another instrument as much as I like the ukulele,” McGovney said. “I’ve thought about learning the guitar before, but it was kind of intimidating. The ukulele is like a mini guitar. It’s all the wonderful without the scary.”

The contrary is true for long-time member and fellow first-year Jess Turner. “I played guitar, so ukulele came pretty easy,” she said. On preparing for the talent show, Turner said, “We only decided on a song two weeks before, so we had a week to learn it ourselves, and we had two practices to play it with the group.”

Most of the club’s meetings are focused on practicing songs as a group. Armstrong chooses the songs from a site called ukulelehunt.com and runs them by the club before making a decision.

Members practice outside of the meetings and then work together on timing and cohesion when they meet. Currently the club meets on Tuesdays at 4:30 p.m. in The Carriage House Lounge.

Next semester Armstrong will be studying abroad, but Paul Torres, a graduate student in the club said, “Even though the club’s president is studying abroad in Belgium next semester, the rest of us will do our best to keep the club fun and thriving.”

Drama Club’s production of “Chicago” true to the original, but unique

For two nights in mid November, musical lovers gathered in Eddy theatre to see the Drama Club’s production of “Chicago.” The lights went out, the curtains were raised and the audience was taken to a time of speakeasies and prohibition, where before there was reality TV, the highest form of entertainment was a good old fashioned murder.

When asked why the Drama Club chose “Chicago,” Director Maria Shoop said, “Chicago is full of strong female voices, which is really important when it comes to a women’s college doing a musical. Additionally, it is a fun and lively show.”

“Chicago” is based on real life events in the 1920s. While covering the trials of two women who were accused and ultimately acquitted of murder, and were the inspirations for the characters of Roxie and Velma, Journalist Maurine Dallas Watkins was inspired to write the satirical play “Chicago.”

Watkins was fascinated by the  public’s fascination with high profile criminals and the ability of beautiful women to razzle dazzle their way out of prosecution in spite of their sometimes obvious guilt. Decades later, Watkins’ commentary on the media spectacles that go along with high profile crimes can be seen as relevant in many ways.

“Chicago” tells the story of the fame hungry, adulterous and homicidal Roxie Hart portrayed by the talented Allison Albitz. Throughout the musical, her story, along with other murderesses who felt their significant others “had it coming,” are told, particularly that of the lethal and jealous Velma Kelly, played by Indigo Baloch. Velma competes with Roxie for attention and a coveted attorney. In spite of their almost immediate disdain for one another, the two women have two things in common, their desire for fame and their goal to avoid a public hanging.


Photo: Awatif Albalawi

There were things about Chatham’s production of Chicago that made it unique. As Chatham is a women’s college, the cast was all female.  Billy Flynn, the smooth talking, dramatic, yet effective lawyer was portrayed by Kaitlyn Lacey. Amos Hart, Roxie’s pitiful and eternally ignored husband was played by the hilarious and scene stealing Onastasia Youssef. Because of the acting skills and phenomenal costumes, anyone who hadn’t read the program might not have realized that Billy Flynn and Amos Hart were actually women.

Oscar Wilde wrote, “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”  With confidence and unapologetic enthusiasm, the members of Chatham’s drama club shared themselves with their captivated audiences, leaving them with a sense of knowing the characters they portrayed. The performers struck a balance between staying true to the original play while making it their own with the stunning costumes, great singing and creativity.

With talent and great leadership, Chatham’s Drama Club is sure to deliver many more performances of beloved plays that students and faculty alike will enjoy. “It was a really fun process to see the show come together… getting to see it from start to finish is always a favorite for me,” said Shoop. When asked what Chatham’s Drama club could benefit from having, she simply replied that all they need is continued support.

Artist Collective wins national award for Extraction

Only two years after its inception, Chatham University’s Artist Collective recently distinguished itself by receiving the Outstanding Social Program Award from the National Association of Campus Activities for their yearly event, Extraction.

The Artist Collective, founded in 2011, was the brainchild of Sally Ramirez and Paige Hoffman.  Ramirez said the idea for it was conceived in reaction to the realization that she and Paige “shared a vision of a community of artists who were passionate about art and advocates of their work.”

From there, with the help of Chatham Faculty Member Dr. Prajna Parasher and the group’s student advisor Corey Escoto – as well as a group of like minded students – the club became a reality.

Ramirez said  Extraction was at the heart of the Artist Collective from the very beginning, describing it as the “the culminating project of everything we envision and value about the artist community. It is an event that is all-inclusive and provides a platform for artists of every art form: singers, songwriters, spoken word, culinary, performance and visual artists.”

Photo credit: Kitoko Chargois

Photo: Kitoko Chargois/Left to right: Club Co-founder Sally Ramirez, Club Advisor Corey Escoto and Jeanette McCabe enjoy the second annual Extraction.

Extraction, as Payal Patel, co-president of the group, put it, is a “student showcase extravaganza.”  It occurs annually and provides an evening of music, food, camaraderie, and art.

While it is in essence an art show, that label does not really do Extraction justice; it is more of a full sensory experience, highlighting art and artists that everyone can enjoy.

Born out of a need for a platform to display the talents of the many artists at Chatham, the event provides a way to address the “distinct lack of student artwork being displayed on campus,” said Patel.

“The process took a lot of people and a lot of organizing between ourselves, between other clubs and between student activities and external guests and acts we contracted,” said Patel.

The result each year is a clear demonstration of the Artist Collective’s efforts and

Photo: Kitoko Chargois/ A local band performs at the first ever Extraction.

Photo: Kitoko Chargois/ A local band performs at the first ever Extraction.

dedication to the art community at Chatham.

In the two years since the Artist Collective began, Extraction has grown to be a hugely successful event.  So much so, that Stephanie Reynolds of Student Activities approached Patel about entering a national competition of campus activities.

Deciding to take this opportunity, the group completed the application process which required a portfolio documenting their process of planning, budgeting, advertising and various goals related to hosting Extraction.  “Two months later we hear from Stephanie again – this time learning we had just won,” said Patel.

Patel is proud that the group has gained such recognition. “[It was] really gratifying to get recognized for something that we both worked so hard on and felt so proud of,” she said.  She noted that recognition belonged to everyone involved in the Artist Collective, as Extraction was very much a group effort.

With a precedent now set, the Artist Collective has already begun planning for this year’s Extraction and has set a tentative date for the end of March.  Many of the original members graduated, leaving room for a whole new group to plan the event this year, such as Patel’s co-president Rosemary Davies.  As both Patel and Ramirez pointed out, this ensures that the event will remain dynamic and allows new and diverse members of the Collective to pursue their own visions for the event.

Regarding the Artist Collective’s plans for the future, Escoto said, “I think it would be really cool if the university would support [or] invest in the group [or] idea of Extraction by booking an instantly recognizable national music act that would draw visitors to our hidden jewel of a campus. It is always exciting for our small university to be a center of attention and I think it could be great if Chatham became known (among all of the college age students in Pittsburgh) for throwing the best party of the year.”