The elephants in the room: Elon Republicans still seek open dialogue one year after election

By Diego Pineda

Elon University junior Maddie Pierce remembers feeling excited on election night when she realized Donald Trump was elected president Nov. 8, 2016. Despite the overwhelming polls that suggested otherwise months before, she never doubted the result.

But the next morning when she walked around campus, she was scared.

“As a female Republican, I was confronted by a new kind of judgment for being a Republican that I never faced before,” Pierce said. “I got a lot of comments like, ‘You’re a woman, how can you support this man that is against so many things that are so important to you?’”

Even leading up to the election, Pierce experienced backlash.

Pierce, who is the public relations chair of College Republicans, once left her computer unattended to get food. When she returned, the Trump sticker had been ripped off. She said she was ashamed to report the incident to the administration because she thought she would not be supported because of her conservative views.

Last week marked the one year anniversary of Trump’s stunning election victory. In that time, his White House has been swarmed with controversies similar to the ones he caused on the campaign trail. On Elon’s campus, political views are still polarized. In particular, Republicans say they feel the brunt of the division.

“As a conservative woman on this campus, I often find myself staying quiet instead of putting my personal opinions out there just because I am afraid of being shut down,” Pierce said. “I’ve had classes where I adjust what I say in class, on tests and papers because I don’t want to be judged as too far-right.”

According to a CNN Politics poll, Clinton won the youth vote by 55 percent, while Trump won 37 percent of the Millennial voters age 18-29. Despite not winning the youth vote, Trump garnered 306 Electoral College votes out of the 270 needed to win while Clinton won 232. The voting in certain swing states surprised many, such as sophomore Trevor Murrah, vice chairman of the College Republicans.

“I did have mixed feelings about Trump’s policies — any rational voter should,” Murrah said. “Looking back at the results, I think it was a good turning point to see the Republican Party trying to unify and trying to come forward to a mission not just associated with Donald Trump as a person, but rather try to show what the silent majority was speaking to.”

Jason Husser, assistant professor of political science, said the 2016 election cycle made Elon more politically engaged because current events now revolve around politics.

“There are slightly higher levels of political engagement largely because of the policy context in part because we have a president who is unique in American history,” Husser said. “Now that the Republican party is in a better position to be able to affect change, that has led to more controversies in Washington, which trickle down throughout society and of course cause people to have different ideas on campus.”

Measuring the trickle-down effect

Despite feeling uncomfortable at times, Pierce, along with other College Republicans, hope to discuss politics more openly with Democrats.

“We just want to show people we are not the current administration,” Pierce said. “Republicans on this campus are not monsters.”

Pierce hopes there will be a point where she is unafraid to be herself. She hopes the polarization in the nation and on campus will improve so people in the middle of the spectrum won’t be forced to choose a side.

Contrary to Pierce, junior Katherine Evans, vice president of College Democrats, has felt the need to speak her political views to have meaningful conversations without hesitation.

“I think if people are going to make judgments about me then so be it,” Evans said. “I don’t see any need to hide my political affiliation in any way in the classroom. I feel comfortable talking about it.”

Evans believes some people chose to remain quiet to be politically correct, and are afraid of the arguments from someone of the opposing view.

“We’re kind of at a stalemate right now,” Evans said. “If you don’t look at each other’s views and kind of try to empathize, sympathize or try to understand why they might feel that way, then you’re never going to
get anywhere.”

For Evans, the first steps to fix polarization on Elon’s campus are to be objective and take emotion out of discussions. Understanding Republicans and their thinking allows for open conversations on politics, which
humanizes them.

“You can’t really live your life in a bubble surrounded by like-minded people,” Evans said. “It keeps you from seeing other viewpoints and other ways of thinking.”

Reaching out to the other side

Evans and Pierce said both sides have tried to do just that — surround themselves with contrasting viewpoints.

Murrah said the months leading up to the 2016 election unearthed tension between Elon’s political clubs and beyond. Since the election, he thinks those organizations — College Democrats, College Republicans and Young Americans for Liberty — have changed. Debates, such as the ones hosted by the Elon Political Forum, exemplify that.

“I think we’ve started to see a trend in which the political clubs are starting to come more and more together to not polarize the campus, but rather have a civic discourse and try to push a more pleasant way to talk about politics,” Murrah said.

Evans attended College Republican meetings and believes the integration of political organizations is key. Murrah, along with other College Republicans, have also attended College Democrat meetings.

“I think it’s important to have all the views present than to have it one sided because it does make it seem like Elon is a Democratic campus if we only have Democrats talking about their views,” Evans said. “That is not an accurate representation of the campus and not an accurate representation of our nation at all.”

Rise of polarization

A May 2017 study by the University of California at Los Angeles Higher Education Research Institute showed political polarization of the university’s freshmen. It has been the most extreme in the survey’s history in 51 years.

About 42.3 percent of freshmen characterized their political orientation as middle of the road, while 35.5 percent considered themselves liberal or far-left and 22.2 percent said they were conservative or far-right.

Husser believes university campuses are social institutions that can be divided by politics in the new cycle of polarization. Strong protests on campuses such as the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Virginia and the University of Florida show this.

“I will say of the universities I’ve been watching across the country, I think Elon is on the better end of dealing with it,” Husser said. “It strikes me that Elon has devoted tremendous resources and attention to making sure that there are moments of dialogue and that these dialogue are open to people of multiple sides.”

Through debates with the political organizations on campus as well as town halls, Elon has begun to
combat polarization.

“Elon also has a commitment to talk about issues even when they’re not necessarily the most comfortable to talk about,” Husser said.

Husser says the social divisions that push people apart through polarization are not unique to Elon since they happen in all college campuses because of what is caused by politicians in Washington. Though Husser is unsure if polarization will improve before it gets worse, he says that what can help this issue is if more people would participate in the primary elections.

Millennials constituted 19 percent of the voters in the 2016 presidential election. Husser believes that though this age group is willing to engage with the other side and have open dialogues, they still need to begin contributing even more when it comes to politics.

“When they start participating I have hope that we will see some solutions for this crisis in American politics,” Husser said. “My big hope is that students are spending four years being thoughtful about other people’s positions and that process will lead them to be the thoughtful leaders that we need in some ways to sort of rescue American society from a cycle of division.”

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Falling into Dance

By Diego Pinedaac4ea469-9564-427c-b34d-36059af40bfd.sized-1000x1000Planning for the concert

Jen Guy Metcalf, assistant professor of dance and artistic director of the show, begins thinking of concepts or ideas for the show about a year in advance. She does a lot of research through websites, books, movies, music and photography to find a concept for her piece and the show itself.

“I gather all that and start to generate movement inspired by my research,” Metcalf said. “I teach that to the dancers not in a linear way. I just teach the movement, and I start to edit and shape the dance.”

While directing the path of the concert, Metcalf, along with faculty in the dance department, also selected student choreography in December 2016 during a salon showcase. From that salon, they decided what pieces of students taking the choreography course would go to national conferences and which will be in the fall dance concert.

“We encourage our students to explore,” Metcalf said. “We place emphasis on crafting choreography and developing movement.”

The opportunity for students to showcase their choreography onstage allows them to have professional experience outside the classroom.

The works in this year’s fall concert are mainly contemporary in dance style and music. The piece Metcalf choreographed is a contemporary pointe piece. Aside from choreographing her piece, Metcalf also mentors the student choreographers and offers feedback so they can improve certain parts of the dance.

“We have helped them to improve their choreographic work and encourage them to coach their dancers in the performance of the piece,” Metcalf said. “Not only do the choreographers improve, but the dancers also develop as artists as a part of this process.”

One of the dances Metcalf is most excited about is called, “Don’t stop (verb ending in -ing),” which is part of the Mad Limbs course.

This course was inspired by a conference presentation and is a play on the words “Mad Libs,” the word game. Renay Aumiller, assistant professor of dance, and Metcalf helped develop and teach this course, which was open to all university students and consists of students with a variety of academic interests, such as dance majors, dance minors, communications majors and business majors. There was no casting for this piece because the cast includes everyone enrolled in the course.

“It’s an example of our scholarship finding its way into the classroom,” Metcalf said.

The performance of this dance will be different every night of the show since it has a focus on improvisation through verbal communication and physical movements.

“I find such great pleasure in the rehearsal process, but what is really exciting is when the students take everything they have learned from class onstage, and you can see evidence that they are truly learning and developing as artists,” Metcalf said.

Pushing and Pulling through dance

While taking the “choreography I” course, junior dance major Brittany Pappaconstantinou remembers using numbers to make dance. She did this through the chance method. By using this, she would get a list of numbers such as her phone or zip code.

“Each number is a sign to movement,” Pappaconstantinou said. “ It would be like zero push arm, one pull leg, two push head, so we would randomly create these phrases based off of that.”

From this, she was inspired to make a contemporary modern duet which she presented at the December salon showcase and was selected as one of two student choreographies featured in the fall concert.

“I focused the momentum of pushing and pulling,” Pappaconstantinou said. “They are constantly partnering so pushing and pulling each other’s weight.”

After being selected, Pappaconstantinou began rehearsing with the two classmates she casted for the piece. They rehearsed twice a week for one hour each time last year and this year they rehearse once a week for about an hour and a half. She used the chance method with the dancers to find movement that would fit the piece. She describes being on the choreography side as “nerve-wracking and exciting.”

“It’s hard to make a duet when you’re one person,” Pappaconstantinou said. “It was really difficult for me to plan [the movements] because I didn’t really know how it would look like on their bodies and how it would work out.”

As she rehearsed for the piece, Pappaconstantinou had to learn to detach herself from being a friend and classmate to the dancers and become a choreographer. The mutual respect they all have for each other helped them have a collaborative effort in rehearsals.

“They try to be respectful and offer good suggestions like if they think something would work better or something does not feel right,” Pappaconstantinou said. “They let me know and it honestly it is really nice to work with people who respect you as a friend and as a choreographer because they give you suggestions but also listen.”

Pappaconstantinou was able to receive feedback and guidance from faculty such as Metcalf while making the choreography and rehearsing.

“I think the faculty have really pushed me this year as a choreographer,” Metcalf said. “I would not have been able to do it without them and their encouragement.”

The help from Metcalf especially helped her with deciding the lighting design and other components Pappaconstantinou had never dealt with as a performer.

Contrary to other pieces in the show, Pappaconstantinou’s does not have a specific meaning. There is no relationship between the dancers, but there is a lot of partnering throughout.

“I am interested to see what the audience takes away and what type of meaning they put to it,” Pappaconstantinou said. “It is really just about the structure of the piece that I was thinking about.”

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Balancing pointe shoes with books

Sophomore Meg Boericke channels the temper tantrums she would throw when she was younger and growing up with her older brother to get into character for Kira Blazek, the guest
artist’s piece.

This piece explores dance through the ages using music of Stevie Nicks, The Ya Ya’s and Hole.

“It’s very like, ‘It’s not a phase mom’ type of mood and feeling and very 90s,” Boericke said. “It’s all about trying to empathize with the audience so, what can I do to make the audience think that I’m angry throwing a temper tantrum.”

Boericke is also in Metcalf’s pointe piece, which is not as upbeat and high energy as Blazek’s. She has to do a lot of compartmentalizing to figure out what she needs to do while performing both pieces since they are so different from each other. With a lot of competition circuits coming up, Boericke is pleased to see what Metcalf is doing with contemporary pointe.

“I feel like it’s much more relevant with the type of dance that’s trending right now, so it’s very edgy,” Boericke said. “You still have a lot of the classical elements, the lifts that we do can be seen in classical ballets, but she takes it in a more modern and contemporary mood, which I think can make this dying art a little more relevant to today’s times.”

As a strategic communications and dance double major, Boericke stays busy studying and rehearsing. She is able to manage her time and balance both areas of study by staying organized, eating healthy and being physically and mentally prepared.

“Trying to study for five different tests at once and being able to keep all the information organized in their respective areas is difficult,” Boericke said. “There are times when you have to forsake a little bit of your social life just to get a few extra hours of sleep.”

Through the challenges Boericke faces with her two majors and dance concerts, she enjoys dancing and giving meaning to the pieces she performs.

“It’s my best form of empathy and communication,” Boericke said. “It’s the reason I am able to connect with my friends because a lot of times I’m put in pieces where I haven’t actually experienced what it is I’m trying to convey, but I have to relate it to my own experience in order to shuffle off the details and break it down to the base emotions.”

Senior reflects on “Hello, Dolly!” character

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Senior Mara Wilson embodies Minnie Fay in a “Hello, Dolly!” dress rehearsal Oct. 25. Photo by Diego Pineda

Multimedia reporting by Diego Pineda

Before the show begins, senior Mara Wilson has an additional vocal warm up to prepare for the high-pitched screams her character, Minnie Fay, will project throughout “Hello, Dolly!” The role of Minnie is one Wilson has dreamt of performing for a long time.

“It holds a very special place in my heart,” Wilson said. “Everything about it just makes me smile and it is so nice to bring happiness and laughter to other people through this show.”

Wilson takes on the role of Minnie in the department of performing arts’ fall production of “Hello, Dolly!” It opened last Thursday, October 26, in McCrary Theatre and runs until November 4. It is directed by Catherine McNeela and choreographed by Michael Jablonski.

The musical is based on “The Matchmaker” by Thorton Wilder. It began in 1964 and has since been revived four times in the United States and three times in London. It officially opened this year on April 20, 2017, at the Shubert Theatre and is currently running on Broadway.

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Graphic by Diego Pineda

Since it depends on the life and choices of the actors onstage, Wilson says every production of the musical is different and that is what helps make each one “beautiful.” The musical features high-energy choreography full of humor and romance.  For Wilson, comedy is one of the hardest styles of theater that she has done.

“There are moments where, if you are even one second off, you could lose the comedic timing and the laughter of the audience,” Wilson said. “This show especially is a comedic marathon, but when everything comes together it is as equally rewarding as it is challenging.”

Wilson’s character is a shy, hat shop clerk who spends most of her time working. In the show, she experiences life outside the shop and goes on an adventure where she learns to gain confidence in herself.

“It takes Minnie a while to become comfortable with others, but she is incredibly sweet and kind,” Wilson said.

Through the different numbers and scenes, she begins to dance and sing more which help her discover a different part of herself.

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Senior Mara Wilson dances with sophomore Andrew Purdy during the “The Polka Contest” number in “Hello, Dolly,” Oct. 25. Photo by Diego Pineda

“The choreography tells such an important piece of Minnie’s journey in the show,” Wilson said. “For her, the dance scenes are where she gets to explore this world and adventure, but it also moves her story forward.”

Wilson says that ever since she got the role of Minnie and has made her come to life every night this semester, the character has brightened her days.

“Being a senior, I really wanted to place my focus on a role that I could potentially play out in the real world right now and I thought that was Minnie,” Wilson said.

Uplifting Black males on campus

By Diego Pineda

The recent police shootings, current political climate and protests such as the one Charlottesville, Virginia have led senior Alonzo Cee to combat the negative stereotypes aimed at black males.

While interning and doing research at the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. headquarters this summer, Cee realized of the lack of support systems existing for black males on college campuses.

“The books I was reading and researched talked about that there needs to be support groups specifically targeted for black men in order to make them feel like they have some worth, have that connection and have that bond,” Cee said.

Cee’s research focused on African-American men on college campuses and he came across the subject of support systems in predominantly white college campuses. After reading about support systems, he says he had an aha moment thinking about the impact black men have on college campuses.

“The thing I reflected on was what support systems we have here at Elon for black men,” Cee said. “What I realized is that if you aren’t in a black fraternity or a sports team where a good amount of members aren’t POCs [people of color] or black, you aren’t going to have a support group.”

This led him to create the Black Men of Distinction group which kicked off with an Instagram page (@blackmenofeu) earlier this month. Cee wants this group to transcend social or extracurricular activities on campus.

“I wanted to be a part of something that had a positive impact amongst a demographic that isn’t really talked about,” Cee said.

The group began as a social media campaign to spotlight and showcase ‘black boy joy’ and accomplishments that black men achieve on Elon’s campus.

“I want this to be something that really tells a story and captures different moments of different black men on campus,” Cee said. “These posts can continue to live even after they’re posted.”

Cee wants the group to eventually become an organization specifically for black men where they are able to host events, panels and talk about subjects such as black manhood, identity and their roles on campus. He also wants to incorporate a mentor/mentee aspect to it.

To gain support from the entire scope of black men on campus, Cee contacted nine other black men from diverse areas on campus to help start the group. Some of the members represent fine arts, arts and sciences, SGA, the Connections office and athletics, among others.

“If you were really to delve into each identity of the 10 of us, we’re all black men,” Cee said. “But we’re all different, have different areas of expertise and different insights that we bring to the table.”

The mission of the Black Men of Distinction group is to change the narrative of the negative stereotypes black males have.

“You don’t really get to change the narrative until you actually have a force trying to do it,” Cee said. “I think with the different spheres of influence that we have, the social media campaign and the support group we’re trying to build up … I think we have a chance of doing it.”

Kicking off the campaign

The first post on the Instagram page was captioned “Bringing Elon Black Boy Joy…Soon to come.”

“Black boy joy is finding those moments that are joyful to a black man and really trying to show the positives of black manhood,” Cee said.

Freshman Zion McKnight began following the page even before stepping foot on Elon’s campus. For him, black boy joy means “being proud to be the black male that God created you to be.”

McKnight began following the page because when he saw the name of the page, he knew that it applied to him.

“I’m a black man and I’m now officially attending Elon University,” McKnight said. “I felt like the page would post things that I could relate with.”

According to Cee, who currently runs the Instagram account, the photos and statements used on the Instagram page are meant to be positive and uplift others.

The name “Black Men of Distinction” stems from the 10 men starting the campaign as well as the target audience who are distinct because of their skin color.

“We are set apart, but it’s stereotypically done in a negative fashion,” Cee said. “However, coupling that with black boy joy and the pure fact of this movement we’re also being distinct in our actions and in our influence that we have on campus.”

Though ideas are still being decided in terms of how they will pick those who will be showcased on the page, Cee thinks that direct message submissions could work as well as the spheres of influence of those leading the movement.

Looking Ahead

During this fall semester, the Black Men of Distinction will work under the Black Student Union and possibly in the spring become their own organization.

The group not only hopes to spotlight achievements of black men on campus, but also to be a support system for many — especially freshmen — beginning their journey at Elon.

During his first few days at Elon, McKnight felt welcomed by the different groups at Elon. When he visited the open house at the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education (CREDE) last Friday, he met some of the creators of the @blackmenofeu page.

“I just felt a vibe with them,” McKnight said. “They were really optimistic and even referenced groups like the SMART program to join if I needed mentors or even just guidance.”

McKnight believes it is a great idea to have programs meant specifically for people of color.

“I feel like they’re essential because, for people of color who haven’t found themselves yet or are looking for somewhere to belong, they’ll have somewhere,” McKnight said.

He’s eager to get involved in these types of groups and, because of his interest in photography, hopes to promote his photography through the @blackmenofeu page.

Besides becoming a support group for students, Cee also hopes to showcase faculty and staff throughout campus that identifies as black males. He wants to begin with the CREDE staff first and then work his way through different departments.

“I didn’t just want to showcase what students do, I also wanted to showcase what administrators and faculty and staff do as well,” Cee said. “These are opportunities to find not just peer mentors, but faculty and staff mentors as well.”

Cee acknowledged that even faculty and staff on campus need that boost they can get from the group as well as be uplifted by the members. Though the Black Men of Distinction was his original idea, Cee hopes it becomes a movement that lives longer than his own existence.

“I want this to be something that is positive for all black men here on this campus and something that they can all take pride in,” Cee said. “So that the next person that is in charge of this program can actually hold this up high and be proud of it.”

Pew report analyzes skills workers need to keep up in the race with artificial intelligence tools

Multimedia reporting by Diego Pineda

The development of artificial intelligence in the past years has expanded so much that the smartphones people carry in their pockets today are more powerful than the computers used in the exploration of the moon.

Because of this growth in technology, Janna Anderson, professor of communications and director of Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, believes people need to be unafraid to move forward in the upcoming changes of artificial intelligence and robots.

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Janna Anderson

“It is important for us to be adaptable, be resilient, be able to work in teams, be able to be great leaders and understand the technology,” Anderson said.

Anderson was the co-author of a recent report on the future of job skills and jobs training through the Pew Research Center and the Imagining the Internet Center. This report included the answers of 1,408 technologists, futurists, and scholars. It found that most experts expect that education and job-training ecosystems will shift in the next years to use new virtual and augmented reality tools.

According to a news release of this report, 70 percent of those surveyed said that they do expect the emergence of new educational and training programs that will train workers in the skills they will need to perform the jobs of the future. 30 percent said that there will not be successful programs  since adaptation in these environments will not be sufficient to prepare these workers.Add heading (25)

Freshman Elena Polin agrees with the 30 percent that disagreed with the emergence of training and educational programs for workers in the future.

“In this day in age, technology is always advancing and people could be left behind,” Polin said.”We need to pay robots to do the work themselves.”

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Elena Polin

Polin says that though technology like robot machines will take up the workforce in the future, she acknowledges that humans bring a special element.

“Humans bring charisma and opinions and new ideas and robots cannot do that,” Polin said.

Whether or not humans will be able to keep up and adapt to emerging technologies is up to debate. Anderson’s report identified five themes from the overall responses of people they surveyed. These themes were that the training ecosystem will evolve with a mix of innovation in all education formats, learners mus cultivate 21st century skills, new credentialing systems will arise as self-directed learning expands, training and learning systems will not meet 21st-century needs by 2026 and technological forces will fundamentally change work and the economic landscape.

Sophomore Lexy Roberts says that humans will be able to work with technologies if they learn to do so

“There are some skill sets that are so mundane that you can teach a machine to do them,” Roberts said. “But with the skills earned with artificial intelligence, there is something about the way that we process things that you cannot teach a machine to do.”

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Lexy Roberts

Roberts says that a skill that is essential for those in the workforce is having “an eye for creativity.” She says that robots will never be able to have a creative mindset, but they will only require repairs while humans require health insurance needs and a salary.

In contrary to Roberts, freshman Aminata Harris, believes that though human emotions and perspectives matter, they may not be as relevant in the future.

“At some point, human beings are not going to be as special,” Harris said. “If there is good enough technology, a robot can really fulfill a job that human beings do.”

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Aminata Harris

Regarding the emergence of training programs, Harris and Roberts both agree that they are needed for humans to partner with technologies in the workforce.

Sophomore Asher Thompson sees a shift happening in as virtual and augmented realities are created especially to do more STEM jobs in maintain and creating those technologies.

He believes that advanced technologies have more capabilities than a regular worker who has a creative mindset.

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Asher Thompson

“Robots have the ability  to do mind numbing tedious work extremely efficiently and effectively,” Thompson said. “They are able to process large amounts of data faster.”

For Thompson, the only skills humans need to maintain their jobs and work along with technology is to work hard to remain relevant and up to date with all the skills and programs the job entails.

Anderson’s report showed that there are uncertainties about the coming years in regards to how well workers need to be prepared to keep up with artificial intelligence told and if market capitalism will survive.

Among the skills that the respondents believe will be of value were adaptability, resilience, empathy, compassion, judgement, deliberation, conflict resolution and the capacity to motivate, mobilize and innovate.

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Shawn Tucker

Shawn Tucker, associate professor of art, believes that out of all those attributes, adaptability is most important.

“Adapting is people’s only alternative,” Tucker said. “People need to be able to be flexible and open themselves up to new challenges and new opportunities.”

First Cohort of Multi-Faith scholars encourages religious curiosity

By Diego Pineda

Elon University sophomore Sophie Zinn considers herself the person in her friend group that is constantly encouraging others to talk about religion, a subject she is very passionate about and believes is not talked about much.

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Sophie Zinn. Photo by Diego Pineda

“It’s not really in the public sphere of college life or America in general as something that’s positive,” Zinn said. “I think that there are a lot of positive elements to religious dialogue and learning from other people’s interest and faith traditions.”

Zinn was raised Jewish and has been practicing Buddhism for four years. She does not identify with one main religion but bases her experiences more on her religious studies experiences learning why various religious traditions matter to those who don’t follow them.

“I think that our society has stigmatized religion as something that’s private and something that shouldn’t be talked about,” Zinn said. “However, because we have suppressed our religious identities in our country, we haven’t been able to interact on more personal levels with each other.”

Zinn, along with five other sophomores at Elon University, has recently been selected to be part of Elon’s first cohort of Multi-faith Scholars. The program combines academic coursework, undergraduate research and community engagement in multi-faith contexts. The students selected receive $5,000 annually in their junior and senior years to assist them in their development as engaged multi-faith leaders.

The idea of this program sprouted from the 2015 Multi-faith Strategic Plan of the Elon Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society, which advocated for the development of this program. A $100,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis foundation supported the establishment of the program.

Amy Allocco, associate professor of religious studies and director of the Multi-faith

Amy Allocco

Scholars program, said that the money from the grant will be used to underwrite the program during its first years, and then the university will assume its funding.
Allocco said that the goal of the program is to be interdisciplinary. It stretches across the whole university, and its first cohort is composed of students with a variety of majors, backgrounds and research topics.

“We are privileging students who are not otherwise cohorted,” Allocco said. “This is a great opportunity for students who wouldn’t otherwise have a research platform to get involved in this.”

Though a requirement to be admitted to the multi-faith scholars program is to be a religious studies major or interreligious studies minor, its first cohort ranges from students majoring in public heath, English, strategic communications, religious studies and international studies.Add heading (24)

“Students who have multi-faith commitments will have the opportunity to pair classroom learning and a closely mentored undergraduate research experience with engagement outside of the university, with our local communities and use those three building blocks intersectionally,” Allocco said.

Sophomore Kristina Meyer, who is in the program’s first cohort along with Zinn, says she chose to apply to the program not only because of her interest in doing research with interfaith organizations, but also because she finds building relationships with her cohort as a valuable aspect of her experience.

“We each have different research topics,” Meyer said. “But the fact that we are engaging in multiple religions and engaging with people of multiple religions, we will be able to challenge each other and offer each other different perspectives.”

This two-year program requires the selected scholars to pursue their projects closely with faculty mentors. It also requires the students to engage with the local communities to promote multi-faith learning and diversity. During their first year, the scholars will work with their mentors to plan global engagement endeavors as well as research experiences that will assist in broadening their development as multi-faith leaders. During their senior year, they will take leadership roles on campus within different departments and lead educational events focused around religion.

Zinn hopes to gain a wider perspective of individual experiences not only from her cohort, but from those she engages within the community.

“I think a lot of the times its easy to associate different religions with particular belief systems or practices,” Zinn said. “But when it becomes more personal, I think that people’s convictions of others religions deteriorate.”

For Meyer, learning from other religions has made her more compassionate.

“I found that studying other religions and studying how people interact has strengthened my own faith,” Meyer said.

Meyer and Zinn are excited to see the expansion of the program and learn more about what they will be doing with their cohort and in their individual research projects.

Allocco hopes for the scholars to bring the communities that they engage with outside of Elon back to campus to facilitate conversations within the student body. She wants to see increased communication between religious communities at Elon and believes the scholars can change the conversation about religion at Elon. Her first meeting with the cohort will be Thursday, May 4. She hopes this meeting will serve as the “launching pad” for the cohort that she is looking to build.

“I hope we support one another in the challenging kinds of projects,” Allocco said. “Share resources and cheer one another along and ask hard questions to one another as we dig into these research projects and topics.”

Elon Poll shows decline in North Carolina support

By Diego Pineda

The Elon Poll conducted April 18-21, 2017 found that the support for President Donald Trump among North Carolina voters has declined as he approaches the 100-day mark.

getimage.pngThe findings showed that 51 percent of those surveyed disapproved with how Trump is handling his job as president. 42 percent approved it and seven percent did not know.

Jason Husser, director of the Elon Poll, said that typically a president enjoys strong support during their first 100 days even from former opponents or critics, but Trump’s presidency has been different.

“His level of support on the first 100 days both for himself personally and for his key policies is as low as we’ve seen in the history of opinion polling,” Husser said. “Trump’s difficulty in presidential approval likely comes from two sources- his rhetorical and policy decisions which he has control over and a divisive polarized and dysfunctional political environment that makes it harder for any incoming president to function.”

Husser said that despite the low support, his core supporters remain loyal.

 

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Mollie Richter

Sophomore Mollie Richter believes that Trump is very unprofessional as president of the United States.

 

“In his twitter, he’s yelling at people and making accusations with no evidence,” Richter said. “I don’t trust my country in someone like that.”

The same poll showed that nearly 75 percent of voters showed that Trump’s use of Twitter is inappropriate while 55 percent said it was appropriate.

“The people who like him are radicals and extremists and that is the crowd that he appeals to,” Richter said. “Anyone who has a rational state of mind and is logical can see that he’s not running things effectively.”

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Darius Moore

Senior Darius Moore agrees with the Elon poll findings and said that Trump’s use of twitter is not filtered or intelligent.

 

“Trump has done a really good job of being a grassroots kind of like connecting to the people leader,” Moore said. “He needs to work on being an intelligent speaker and less of a reality television star.”

The poll also found that voters in North Carolina oppose the border wall with Mexico and it showed an even split on the Affordable Care Act.

The Elon poll is a live-caller survey done through landline and cell phones of 506 voters. These were registered voters who were classified as likely voters in the Nov. 8 election. It has a margin error of +/- 4.36 percentage points.