Chatham police and students work to define their relationship

By: Teri Bradford

Campus police officers are an important part of the college experience and are on campuses across America and Chatham is no different. Chatham Police are here to work with the community to keep this learning environment safe and secure.

There has been talk in recent years, however, that there has been a lack of trust and interaction between the campus community and the officers in charge of protecting us.

“I believe that the connection between students and the [Chatham Police] is dwindling,” said sophomore student Asia Williams, who thinks the connection is lost when students don’t know who the officers are. “Last year we were introduced to the chief and the few officers on duty. This year, as the number of students grows, so does the number of new officers. It’s important for the students to feel safe and to be aware of exactly who is here to protect us.”

“I’m out on campus as much as I can to get to know students,” said Chief of Police Donald Aubrecht (affectionately known simply as ‘Chief’) at a Chatham Student Government meeting at the beginning of October.

He attended CSG to help get a conversation between students and Chatham Police started.

“I encourage officers to do that. We’re working on how to get all officers on all shifts to work on the same page,” he said.

Aubrecht discussed working with the Deans and ultimately with Resident Assistants and Graduate Resident Assistants, as well. RA’s and GRD’s are trained to reach out to Chatham Police in case of emergencies or risky activities that may happen within the dorm halls.

“If you know the officer you’re dealing with, and the officer knows you, [things work out better],” Aubrecht said.

Some students, however, think the relationship between students and Chatham Police is one that may just be misunderstood.

“Students would like a more open dialogue, but I also feel the importance in kind of having a separation between students and public safety officers so they can still be seen as authority figures,” said Alice Shy, a junior. “I want them to be seen as people who can protect me. I think people get the lines blurred. Students need to understand that the roles of public safety officers are not to drive them around but to protect them. If they’re picking them up, then they can’t take care of things here. If it came down to it, then they would have to weigh the options of what’s more important.”

Shy touches on one of the most talked about issues on campus: will Chatham Police pick up a stranded student in Pittsburgh?

Aubrecht makes his expectations clear on what Chatham Police will do for Chatham students.

“If you’re down on the South Side, and you’ve been drinking, we’ll come and get you,” said Aubrecht. He told CSG that this scenario includes students in unsafe situations such as missing the last [Port Authority] bus at night, stranding them. He identified the location Chatham Police will go to as Downtown Pittsburgh, Shadyside, South Side, Squirrel Hill, and Oakland. He also included students who need to use the Chatham shuttles to get to class or a hospital.

“If you miss the shuttle, and it’s 30 minutes to the next one, call us. We’ll get you there, and we’ll get you back. The shuttle doesn’t go to Mercy or Magee [Women’s Hospital of UPMC] but we will,” said Aubrecht.

Some students, however, say that this promise is too good to be true and that Chatham Police makes using them as a resource complicated. Sophomore Maya Carey had a negative experience in the past.

“I was over in the South Side when I was a wee little first year. We had gone to the hookah bar,” she said. “We weren’t even intoxicated; we were just stranded past 2 a.m. in the South Side. None of us knew how to use the bus system except we knew that the buses ended at 2 a.m.”

Carey and two friends — one of whom was an international student — weren’t sure how to get back to campus, and they were out of money, so they called Public Safety in hopes of getting a ride back to Chatham.

“They were so angry at us. They hung up on us once, I think,” she said. “They said they would get a supervisor, but they never did so we had to call back 20 minutes [later].”

By some measure of luck, Carey and her friends found a bus on its last run for the night, but it took them to an unfamiliar part of Oakland.

“Chatham Police reluctantly picked us up from [where the bus had dropped them off] and were chastising us the entire way back to campus,” Carey said.

“They were not happy to drive out to Oakland much less SouthSide at 3 in the morning, but I wasn’t happy about being stranded at 3 in the morning,” she continued. “People were drunk and throwing up [in the street]. I was scared, I had never been to Pittsburgh or lived in the city before.”

“There should be a consensus between all officers on what they can and can’t do. They should all be there at once to get that clear with students,” said Shy.

Aubrecht doesn’t dismiss these statements but said this is a result of how things were mishandled in the past by the man who had the position of Chief before him. He said that officers were not inviting to students and made things difficult for them. Aubrecht said he has worked hard to change this and all of the officers, new and returning, have come a long way, even from last year.

“I have talked to all of the officers about how important it is that students get back here safe and unharmed. [Some officers] were so used to how it used to be that it was hard for them to change,” he said about previous attitudes. “I really want to work to make sure [students] are safe; that’s my priority. If something like [Maya’s experience] happens, I want to know. When we don’t do well, I want to know so we can do better.”

Coordinator of Residence life, Kim Small agrees with Chief Aubrecht. She advises students to act if they feel there is an issue.

“I don’t think there is a disconnect [between students and Chatham Police] but, if students feel there is a problem, then they should bring the information forward,” said Small.

Though negative stories spread across campus quickly, some students have had positive experiences with Chatham Police.

Juliet Casinelli, a junior transfer student, has only recently interacted with Chatham Police for the first time after breaking her foot a few weeks ago.

“Breaking any bone most certainly makes you vulnerable, and you lose some of your independence. The Public Safety Officers here at Chatham helped me adjust to that so easily,” said Casinelli. “From helping me adjust my crutches to the correct length to giving me rides from the apartments to the main campus, they were always just a phone call away.”

In Casinelli’s experience, officers are always willing to help out.

“The few that I had interactions with were fabulous and really helped me out in my time of need. Our chief here at Chatham especially, he went out of his way to help me with parking and making this process as easy as possible,” she said. “Having officers on campus you can trust is an indescribable feeling. Though we may not reach out to them every day, knowing that we have the option to really makes being and living on campus a better experience.”

At the conclusion of the CSG meeting with Chief Aubrecht, students and Chatham Police both were open to start creating a positive relationship within the community.

Going Global: China revises one-child policy

On Thursday, October 29, China announced that it would end its decades-old one-child policy, opting instead for a less restrictive two-child limit for married couples.

The communist government explained their decision in a statement released by Xinhua, China’s official news agency.

“To promote a balanced growth of population, China will continue to uphold the basic national policy of population control and improve its strategy on population development,” Xinhua reported.

It continued, “China will fully implement the policy of ‘one couple, two children’ in a proactive response to the issue of an aging population.”

Currently a third of China’s population is over the age of 60, and it is expecting that in less that 15 years the nation could be home to the most elderly population in the world, which could cause an enormous strain on healthcare and social programs.

The decades long one child policy — the enforcement of which often led to fines, loss of employment, and even forced abortions — has resulted in China’s large gender imbalance, as well as speculation of high rates of female infanticide.

The policy change still required approval from the National People’s Congress in March before they government can move forward with its implementation.

China has been gradually relaxing the policy in recent years, allowing certain minorities, and parents who were only children, to have more than one child, but many critics to the policy change have expressed that this minor change is not enough to make a difference.

According to William Nee, a researcher of China for the human rights group Amnesty International, “Couples that have two children could still be subjected to coercive and intrusive forms of contraception, and even forced abortions — which amount to torture.”

“The state has no business regulating how many children people have,” he said.

Chatham engages the community with Harvest FunFest

The sounds of Disney music and children’s laughter filled Chatham University’s quad on Saturday, October 31, as community members of all ages put on their best costumes and came together to celebrate all things spooky at Harvest FunFest.

The annual event, hosted by Chatham University, brings together students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community in a celebration of the Halloween season.  With a focus on young children, the event gives kids the opportunity to dress up, do a wide variety of Halloween themed crafts and activities — most of which are sponsored by student organizations on campus — and of course, eat all the candy they can get.

In addition to the 13 activities sponsored by student organizations, — like making slime out of clear glue and liquid starch with “This Is Me” — and two events — including cookie decorating and coloring, sponsored by Dean Zauyah Waite, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students — the free event also boasted two bouncy houses, balloon animals, face painting, and a selection of food and drinks.

According to Heather Black, Director of Student Affairs & Residence Life, the planning for the event began in early September.  

“We do a call to all student organizations,” she explained. “We give them a small budget and take care of all of the supplies.”

“I think it’s something special for a college to do something that involves the whole community,” said first-year Abigail Teibel, a member of the organization “Girl-Up,” which provided superhero masks for the kids to decorate because, “anyone can be a superhero.”

Her sentiments were widely echoed among many attendees including Black, who explained that the Chatham tradition, which is largely planned and organized by students, has grown extensively in the past three years.

“Over the years it’s become something that the community looks forward to,” she said. “And I think it’s so important for Chatham to be out there in the community.”

Community members feel the same.

“My granddaughter and grandson are having a great time,” Tom Ritson, husband of Chatham adjunct professor Margaret Ritson, said. “They just love the creative activities, and the hands-on stuff is really cool.”

Their grandson, five-year-old Beau (dressed as Wolverine) agreed, adding, “I like whenever we jumped on the bouncy house.”

His two-year-old sister Adalynn (dressed as a princess), though not very talkative, was not shy about dancing to the music.

In addition to providing family fun, the event was also a fundraiser.  Each table had a purple bucket in which community members could place donations, all of which went to a specific cause or charity, often one with which Chatham has previous connections.  In the past the funds have gone to the student emergency fund, and this year, like last year, the money is going to Relay for Life.

Community members responded to this, donating generously at the event which was, objectively, a success for everyone involved.

“We’ve become a staple in the community,” Black said about the response from neighbors of the campus. “We want to continue providing a safe space for people to gather. I think it’s so important for Chatham to be out there in the community.”

Students from all over enjoy Family & Friends Weekend

The weekend of October 23 was Chatham University’s annual Family and Friends weekend. Students were able to have friends and family come to visit their dorms and attend campus events, including the annual talent show, an exclusive premier of the film “Goosebumps,” based on the popular children’s’ book series, Breakfast and Bellini’s at the president’s house, and a trip to Kennywood Amusement Park’s Fright Night.  There were many students who had family coming from long distances, and this event allowed them to spend time with their family and friends.

Students who live far from home particularly appreciated the eventful weekend.

“It was fun. It gave me a chance to be with my family. I wish they did more events like this,” said first-year Rebekah Dunn, who is a Buffalo native.

Some students who live in the city of Pittsburgh brought local friends and family to enjoy the festivities.

“I think it’s a good idea to get other communities such as Pitt here so they can see what we experience,” said Pittsburgh native and first-year Exercise Science student Diamond Ricketts.

Students don silly and spooky costumes for annual Halloween dinner

It’s no secret that Chatham has many traditions that are held close in the hearts of students, faculty, and alums.  With Halloween on the way it was time for one of those traditions to show its face.  

On Thursday, October 29, Anderson Dining Hall hosted Halloween Dinner and Mocktails for all students to attend. The darkened dining hall was filled with villains and, luckily, superheroes to keep them in line. Police officers, movie characters, Minions, some famous people from history, and even a unicorn showed up to party.

There was a costume contest, in which all students could participate. Costumes were judged for the funniest, scariest, most creative or recycled, and best overall.  Junior Maryann Fix’s Juno costume — complete with with a big round baby belly — won funniest costume. A masked Jigsaw was so frightening, we had no choice but to vote him scariest costume. In a blast from the past, Amelia Earhart, portrayed by first-year Carina Stopenski, won the most creative or recycled costume. A group of friends dressed as the toys from “Toy Story” — including graduate student Emily Kocian as Woody, junior Lynzy Groves as Jessie, Wesley Knotts as Buzz Lightyear, junior Alice Shy as Slinky Dog, junior Amber Starr as Hamm, and sophomore Brittany Fowler as a Little Green Man — and won best costume overall.

Anderson served up a scary selection of food that night.  Students munched on mummy dogs, wolfed down worms and eyeballs, chewed up some cheese fingers, and enjoyed lots of other monstrous goodies.

Different clubs — including the Creative Writing Club, the Beyond the Page Book Club, the Artist Collective, and many others— concocted their own creations to share at Mocktails.  Some of the drinks available were fresh sangria, warm apple cider, and some other creative mixtures of different beverages.  Afterwards, students were able to fill out ballots and vote for the best Mocktail — an award that the Creative Writing Club ultimately won.

Stonewall riots documentary opens eyes to past intolerance

To draw LGBT History Month to a close, Chatham University hosted a showing of the documentary “Stonewall Uprising” in Eddy Theater on October 26. The turnout was small, but for those who attended, it was an extremely informative and entertaining experience.

The subject of the documentary, while focusing mainly on the Stonewall Riots, also showed some rather disturbing clips from 1960’s public service announcements, as well as vivid recreations of the police raid of the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, against which members of the gay community rioted. The film featured real-life accounts from multiple parties involved, ranging from club queens, journalists in a building next door, and a police officer who was called to raid the club. These varying perspectives showed just how complex this uprising was, and how the riot caused a revolution.

The film described violent accounts that happened regularly within the club and demonstrated how homosexuality was illegal and understood as a lewd act. The severity of the documentary, whether it was from interviews with people against “legalizing gay” or the brutal dramatizations of the police brutality, left some of the viewers in Eddy speechless.

“It’s just crazy to think that if I lived back in this time, I could’ve gone through this,” said first-year student Delenn Fingerlow about the attacks on the LGBT community at the time. “It’s insane what these people went through.”

“I knew of Stonewall going into this, but now I knew how bad it really was,” said first-year student Hunter Yedlowski. “It was wild.”

In the documentary, one man who witnessed the uprising, a journalist for the “Village Voice” at the time, called the uprising, “a Rosa Parks moment.” The graphic detail used in this documentary was explicit, and what made the stories of these individuals so intense and valid was their passionate recount of a horrible memory in their lives. These were personal stories that were told with the consent of individuals who survived attacks. No gory details were spared. In order to revoke a response, the filmmakers used the stylistic techniques of both actuality and archival footage in order to give a full documentary experience.

The students who attended this event had nothing but good things to say about the film. One student, who chose to remain anonymous, said that “it was a really eye-opening experience.” The point of the film was to evoke an emotional response from the audience, and it did just that.

#LoveWins: LGBT couples renew vows

Before “Rent,” before “Will and Grace,” before “Glee,” before Legalize Gay shirts were sold at American Apparel, before “Same Love” by Macklemore, the very idea of same-sex marriage being recognized and legal was a dream, and for some, it was even laughable.  With a few determined, but unsuccessful attempts in the 1970s there was finally some headway in 1993, only to be deterred by the infamous and ultimately unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act. Then federalism struck and one by one like dominoes states started writing same-sex marriage into their laws or banning it outright in some situations. Over the course of a lifetime for some the topic of same-gendered marriage was debated in living rooms and television networks.

Now let us fast forward three decades, a great deal of litigation, and a dozen hold out states, and we’ve finally gotten the news we were waiting for.  

“They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said on June 26, 2015, when the Supreme Court declared that marriage equality was the law of the land.  

It should be noted that before it was so ordered, same-sex couples have been making their commitments to each other known for decades. Progressive churches have been marrying queer couples since the 1970s. Before this decision in particular, the Presbyterian Church of the United States added same-sex couples to their definitions of marriage.

To celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision as well as the church’s decision, East Liberty Presbyterian Church hosted a celebration of the new law and marriage vows old and new. The ceremony was a mix of tradition and modernism. No one was given away as the couples marched down the aisle with their soon-to-be or already spouses; however, biblical passages were read aloud, and the church’s choir sang hymns.

Eighteen couples that varied in age, gender, and marital duration were married or remarried in some case. Some were dawning classic wedding white gowns. Some wore suits and ties. Others chose a more casual outfit of jeans and leather jackets. A few couples were even accompanied by children acquired over the course of their relationships.

“God is love and marriage is a gift,”the Reverend Dr. Randy Bush said, adding, “For those of you that have had to wait for your relationships to be recognized, on behalf of the church, I’m sorry.”

East Liberty Presbyterian Church prides itself as being a place of acceptance and diversity. It also has a philosophy of allowing individual couples define marriages for themselves. As Dr. Bush said, “Marriage is a covenant between two people of mutual love, fidelity, commitment, and trust. It is the highest ideal to which two people can aspire, whether or not it leads to children, whether or not it lasts for a lifetime and whether or not it involves a man and a woman or two women or two men.”

As the phrase, “You may now kiss your spouses” was said to the sanctuary of supportive witnesses, a sense of new beginnings and all around joy was in the air as the couples departed to the reception. East Liberty Presbyterian Church holds services on Sundays at 8:45 a.m. and 11 a.m.


By the people, for the people: CSG weekly update

On the morning of Thursday, October 22, the Chatham Student Government (CSG) held its hour-long meeting in the Conover Room in Mellon, discussing the essentialness of developing soft skills, such as politeness and working effectively with others, in college. They were specifically discussing a program by the name of Chamber of Commerce DDI, which founded an online program that can help people develop soft skills for the real world, especially for college students and current employees.

The meeting started with a representative of Chamber of Commerce DDI showing statistics of college students who claim to have soft skills. Studies show that seven out of 10 college students have claimed that they have invested their time into developing their soft skills.

“Some of my friends from other universities say that their colleges haven’t [taught] them soft skills,” Phoebe Armstrong, representative for the Class of 2016 said. “For me, at Chatham they encourage you to go to extracurricular activities and organizations. They have prepared us for the workplace.”

Many of the CSG members agreed that soft skills are important to develop in the workplace. Chamber of Commerce DDI’s online guide provides scenarios of real life workplace situations. However, according to some CSG members the online guide is ineffective, mostly because it does not provide real life people with whom students can practice these soft skills.

In another important part of the meeting, CSG members and representatives of Chamber of Commerce DDI discussed the availability of the online program and the incentives of completing the course. It was agreed that Chamber of Commerce DDI should be available on all types of devices, including cell phones, laptops, and tablets. This way, customers can choose which device best works for them. Incentives for completing the online program for soft skills development would be participants earning a certificate or a badge. Each would show employers that a person possesses many soft skills in addition to having a degree.

When the CSG members were asked about how the Chamber of Commerce DDI should approach the length of scenarios shown, Nicole Lyons — a representative for the Class of 2016 — said, “[Setting them up] in increments sounds easier, because some people would view a [straight] 90-minute session as long.”  

The other members shook their heads in agreement. This was in response to representatives from Chamber of Commerce DDI showing clips from the online program in which scenarios were being played, and students would have to choose an answer that they thought was the correct response in certain situations.

One representative from the Chamber of Commerce DDI said, “In the real world it’s your attitude that shapes your aptitude.”

Their overall message was that anyone who wants a good job should not only prove that they have a degree that qualifies them for the job, but they should also provide proof that they are able to cooperate with others in the working environment.

Going Global: German politician stabbed during campaign rally

Anti-foreigner motives prompted the stabbing of 58-year-old German politician Henriette Reker during a campaign rally for Mayor of Cologne on Saturday, October 17. One other woman was seriously wounded in the attack, and three other individuals sustained minor injuries.

After sustaining stab wounds to the neck Reker, an independent candidate supported by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital where she underwent emergency surgery. She is currently in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery.

The suspect, a 44-year-old German national, is believed to have acted alone, and later admitted to targeting Reker due to her pro-refugee efforts. A recent psychiatric exam has concluded that he can and will be held criminally responsible for the attack on the politician.

Reker currently heads Cologne’s social affairs and integration department, where she is responsible for setting up refugee housing around the city, and has been a strong proponent for the accepting and housing refugees throughout the migrant crisis.

This incident has highlighted growing concerns about the German population’s response to the massive influx of refugees, particularly in regards to cases of hateful and violent actions. Germany, which has accepted more refugees than any other European nation, is expected to take in upwards of 1.5 million people by the end of this year.  

Though most German are welcoming to the displaced populations, there have been isolated incidents of anti-refugee vandalism (including graffiti and arson) and violence throughout the nation, specifically targeting refugee shelters.

In a statement on the stabbing, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, “This cowardly attack in Cologne is further evidence of the increasing radicalization of the refugee debate.”

Despite her condition, Reker went on to win the Mayoral election in Cologne — Germany’s fourth biggest city — on Sunday, October 18.

Let’s Talk About Sex

Sex — it’s a completely normal thing; for animals, for people, for everyone. Not only is it the thing that creates life, but it is fun, and a way for lovers to connect on a very intimate level. Sex is great, and so is the flirting that comes beforehand. But only when it is consensual from all parties.

Sexual harassment is a very widespread problem that affects high schools and colleges all over the world. As the first of many undergraduate males enter their years here at Chatham, sexual harassment has become a hot topic among students on campus. During orientation catcalling was a largely talked about issue. It was reported that some of the new first-years would lean out the windows of Rea House and shout down sexual comments to women as they passed. This issue was addressed almost immediately at the Class of 2019’s meeting where both sexual harassments such as this towards women and men were declared something that would not be tolerated.

Skip ahead to September 22, and a student, Ashley Nicholson, wrote a very controversial article, “Being a Man at Chatham Doesn’t Make You Special,” for the online magazine The Odyssey concerning the addition of men to Chatham. In this article, Nicholson specifically references the catcalling, a man in his thirties who “felt discriminated against,” and how the media has encouraged the “egos” of the new students at Chatham. Addressing the men on campus, Nicholson said in her article, “You bringing a change to Chatham does not stop at just existing as a student on campus…”

Many students, new and old, as well as alumni commented on the article.

“You know it took a lot of guts to decide to enroll at Chatham for this very reason,” Jeremiah Smith said.

“I’m so angry and sad at what my wonderful alma-mater has become,” said Susan Taska O’Dee, class of ’87.

“I honestly agree that articles like this do make men feel discriminated. Chatham students believe in equality, we believe that everyone should be equal. Giving men a hard time because they are men on our campus is not equality, but sexism,” said senior Christina Fortunato.

It has been a few months since the original incidents, and a month since the article began circulating its way through students’ news feeds and emails. For the most part, things seem to have calmed down.

“Sexual harassment has happened. I don’t know the statistics as far as before this year compared to what’s currently happened,” said Kimberlee Small, Residence Life Coordinator. “The fact that we have men here means more people are reporting it. I don’t like to say that people are overreacting but there is a heightened sense of tension.”

Dean of Students Zauyah Waite disagrees that sexual harassment is an issue at Chatham.

I have not witnessed or heard about any kinds of sexual harassment that has taken place on campus grounds,” Waite said. “However, Public Safety and Student Affairs departments, particularly Counseling Services, Residence Life and Office of the Dean of Students do respond and work with students who have previous experiences and are sexual assault victims.”

“I think they’re overreacting to the guys in general and creating problems that don’t exist,” said Emily Simons, a female first-year.

“I think that [sexual harassment] has potential for being an issue, but I haven’t seen any so far,” said Derrick Robinson, a male first-year. “I feel that others know enough about it not to sexually harass people. I think a lot of the males here are not jerks, for lack of a better word. I do think students are taking it a little too harsh. Especially the article.

“I don’t think sexual harassment is as big of a problem as I thought it was going to be,” said sophomore Maya Carey. “Also, it’s not always men who sexually assault women. I think that sexual violence is an issue that needs to be continuously talked about on college campuses. Chatham has definitely over-[gendered] the issues, but at the same time it is imperative to note that the majority of sexual harassment, physical or verbal, happens towards women.”

Carey is also a representative of the Feminist Majority Foundation at Chatham.

Chatham is a place of education, equality, and education about equality.

Chatham has consistently taken steps to ensure that we are well-informed community members,” said Waite. “From our partnership with Ever-Fi,which provides access to the educational models; Haven; and AlcoholEdu to students, faculty, and staff training on sexual assault and harassment, Chatham believes in giving its community the tools needed to successfully engage with and advocate for themselves and their fellow community members.”

Allowing men into Chatham was both a preventative action and a progressive one. By providing men with the same Chatham experience, the university is taking a few steps into educating men, as well as women, about the concepts of equality, and feminism.