"News is the first rough draft of history."

The Voice of the College at Florham

"News is the first rough draft of history." - The Voice of the College at Florham

First Hot Topics of semester covers ‘postracial’ question

AYINDE J. STEVENS
Staff Writer

On Feb. 12, just hours before President Barack Obama gave his fifth State of the Union address, the College at Florham hosted the first Hot Topics panel of the semester.

The event, “The Media and Race: Are We Postracial Yet?” was held in Lenfell Hall and sponsored by the Becton College of Arts and Sciences, the Student Government Association and the Black History Month Committee.

The four-person panel was comprised of two professors and two students from the College at Florham.

The professors were Katie Singer, senior lecturer in the Department of Literature, Language, Writing and Philosophy, and Henry Margenau, adjunct professor in the College Writing program. The students were senior SaKarra Fite and junior Devon Douglas-Bowers. The event was moderated by Sarah Latson, senior lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies.

Continue reading

Hip Hop Around the World event welcomes Negros Americanos

LUCILA SPARKES
Advertising Manager

Hip hop is not just a combination of words thrown to a matching beat.

On Feb. 13, the Social Sciences and History Department, the sisters of Phi Sigma Sigma and the Black History Month Committee hosted “Hip Hop Around The World” in Twombly Lounge as part of this year’s Black History Month festivities.

After a half-hour delay due to projection issues, the president of Phi Sigma Sigma, Brittany Coleman, introduced the faculty-based panel. Robert Houle, associate professor of history, began the discussion by explaining how hip hop is prevalent in many different countries and numerous languages.

Houle gave a brief history of how the African culture helped develop hip hop.

Continue reading

Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver gives emotional BHM lecture

MONIQUE VITCHE
News Editor

On Feb. 12, New Jersey State Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver came to speak to the packed Lenfell Hall at the College at Florham as part of a series of Black History Month events organized by the Black History Month Committee.

Oliver is a Democrat representing the 34th district in the General Assembly and has served as speaker since 2010. She is the first African-American woman, the second African-American and the second woman to hold this position in the state legislature.

According to Tom Hester of New Jersey Newsroom, the last woman speaker was Marion West Higgens in 1965 and the last African-American speaker was the Rev. S. Howard Woodson in 1974 and 1975.

In the past, Oliver served on the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the East Orange Board of Education and attempted a mayoral run in East Orange.

Oliver began her presentation by discussing how the United States has gone from a country that once considered slavery and bondage of another group of people to be socially and legally acceptable to a country that fought to secure the rights of those same people.

Continue reading

Hot Topics provokes discussion at final Black History Month forum

Students and faculty shock audience members by acting out very realistic and hostile disputes over Black History Month-related topics.


AYINDE J. STEVENS
Staff Writer

Hot Topics hosted a dramatization by the cast of “Black History, Black Voices 3” on Feb. 27 in Lenfell Hall, with an estimated 220 FDU students, faculty and parents in attendance.

“Black History, Black Voices” needed a new space to perform after the Barn was closed to general performances. The Hot Topics event featured skit-like performances, which Dean Geoffrey Weinman called “guerrilla theater.”

The Hot Topics series, which holds multiple discussions throughout the year on numerous current events, is not shy to controversy. This event was a unique approach to the discussion; it was titled “Race in the Media: How Far Have We Come?”

Professor Stacie Lents of the theater department, who directed the performance and the previous “Black History, Black Voices” events, said she wanted to “do something different.”

The panel was unusual because, this time, it consisted of all students. Professors Lents and Katie Singer, director of the minor in African-American Studies, along with Dean Weinman, would ask questions to the panel and then to the students, in the hopes that the comments would help lead to a “skit” later on.

Lents, Singer and the panel, with the help of a few rowdy audience members, created a shocking and thought-provoking performance.

At first, one of the panelists, Shaquille Hobson, came late, only to then stun the audience with a statement declaring that he did not care about Black History Month, but rather he just wanted to act. This infuriated the rest of the panel.

The discussion continued with a clip of the Academy Award-winning film, “The Help,” a Morgan Freeman interview on “60 Minutes,” and the lyrics from the Kanye West song, “Never Let Me Down.”

These selections caused more flare-ups with the panelists and the audience members. While one panelist, senior Bobby Devarona, liked the film, the others debated its presence in American cinema; Devarona defended it, saying that “people should focus on the story line.”

The Freeman interview pushed more buttons. Freeman didn’t like that black history is only told in a month, and stated that “black history is American history.” This caused more problems with the panel, which split over Freeman’s comments. Soon, some of the panel members began to attack each other verbally.

But what really turned up the heat was the Kanye song. Hobson claimed that Kanye should be allowed to say the n-word as much as he wants. Kier “KJ” Thompson, a junior in the audience, vehemently disagreed, saying that a negative word like the n-word cannot be turned into a positive one. Thompson’s comments were among many that disrupted the discussion.

By then the audience was split into two camps: one thinking the event was staged and the other thinking it was real.

Either way, the confusion in the audience became evident; one young woman nearly left.

Another audience member, sophomore Alicia Rivas, jumped into the fray, insulted that Hobson took Black History Month for granted. She responded by calling Hobson, of all things, the n-word.

At this point, Lents accidentally got caught in a fight between Thompson and Devarona, and Weinman appeared to call Public Safety, only to return with a big red t-shirt that read, “I’m an Actor.” So did the panel and the audience members.

With the revelation that this was all staged, the real audience members burst into applause. Once they settled and the young woman who had attempted to leave was back in her seat, the real discussion began.

First, members of the panel discussed how they really felt about racism; their answers came from discussing the issue of race during the performance workshops, the video and music clips.

Caitlyn Roper, a sophomore, said that the experience “really put the issue of racism in my face for the first time.”

For Elizabeth Carlin, another sophomore, the performance was one of the “most uncomfortable things I had to deal with.” The panelists had even created false rumors to tell among their friends in the theater department to throw them off.

Steven McQueen, father of freshman panelist Taylor McQueen, said, “Black History Month is a celebration of our culture” – something that Vanessa Lewis, a freshman, agreed with.

“This month is for us,” she said. “Us as a people need to come together” because people are becoming more “anti-social.”

As for some of the faculty members who were there, Dean of Students Brian Mauro admitted he “suspected something was up,” when he saw the panel and when they were acting in ways “outside of their personality,” and commended them for providing stimulating conversation.

Weinman said “this was the biggest event since I have been doing it [Hot Topics]; it was risky but people are engaging in the topic by talking about it the next day.”

This sentiment was echoed by Singer. She said that the event’s “job” was to provoke discussion, adding that “any conversation on race is a success.”

Photo by Joe Castillo

As Black History Month ends, Women’s History Month begins

ANNIE SENDROWITZ
Contributor

On Feb. 28, three groups on campus held an event called “The Auction Block,” which addressed slavery, in Twombly Lounge.

To avoid graphic and gruesome detailed images of how slaves were treated in reality, the actors and actresses during the event were dressed in black and recited poetry and excerpts from books, making the presentation tasteful.

Brittany Coleman, multicultural and diversity chair of Phi Sigma Sigma, said she wanted to give Fairleigh Dickinson a look at black history in a different way.

“I wanted it to be something where people feel involved in it,” she said.

Along with Phi Sigma Sigma, Tau Kappa Epsilon and the Association of Black Collegians sponsored the event.

The event included a question-and-answer period about slavery, as well as Black History Month. That discussion was moderated by Professors Katie Singer, Sarah Crabtree and Denise Lewis.

Now that Black History Month is over, the College of Florham is ready to highlight women’s history.

March is Women’s History Month, and Coleman will be putting on some more events on behalf of Phi Sigma Sigma.

Coleman has many ideas to get the student body involved, including a panel discussion about women’s rights across the world and another about literature and women.

She also hopes to have screenings of “Hurt Locker” and “Pride and Prejudice,” and discuss how women are portrayed on the screen.

Another event that may take place this month includes readings from “The Vagina Monologues.”

Last week, the Politics on the PublicMind series featured a presentation, “Like Mother, Like Daughter: Gender Role Socialization in the Post-Women’s Movement Years,” by Professor Krista Jenkins.

Other Politics on the PublicMind events include one scheduled for today, featuring Shavonda Sumter, an assemblywoman and FDU alumna, and another planned for March 29, featuring Helen Le Frois, director of development for the Jersey Battered Women’s Service and mayor of Newton, N.J.

On Tuesday, a Hot Topics event asked the question, “Does it matter that we have so few women in Congress?”

Black History Month traditions continue this year; Annual open mic a success, gives students a voice yet again

ALEXIS CAMARENA
Digital Editor

As a part of an FDU tradition to celebrate African-American influence in poetry, music and literature, students gathered in Twombly Lounge on Feb. 16 for the annual Black History Month Open Mic event, put together by the Black History Month Committee, and principally, by Professor Katie Singer, chair of the committee.

The event has been a staple of the Black History Month line-up of events for the past four years, inviting students of any race to share either pieces of poems, books or songs by African-American icons, or original work.

This year’s event provided a change of pace, the setting being changed from the Bottle Hill Room, home of the event for the past three years, to the cozier venue of Twombly Lounge, which invited many a passerby.

Singer had a huge role in organizing the event, for the fourth consecutive year. The idea and inspiration for the event, intended to foster artistic expression, began with Singer’s African-American Literature class, which sponsored the first annual Black History Open Mic, back in the spring of 2008.

Singer believed that this event could bring diverse students, for the same goal of celebrating black history and artistic expression.
“The goal of this event is to hear the unheard voices, the unknown voices…to empower the students,” said Singer.

“It’s structured like a reading…I try to keep it as relaxed as possible, so it doesn’t feel like a lecture. I want to be an anti-lecture environment, if anything,” she said.

“I’m not concerned about how many people come out and read, as long as the students walk away feeling good about their culture. Everything we do is for the students,” she said.

At the event, students alternately read poetry, listened to music, enjoyed refreshments and food, and encouraged each other to get up and read.
Freshman Ciney Rodriguez, a first-time attendee, was moved enough to recite one of her original poems.

“This was my first time really reciting one of my poems at FDU,” she said. Rodriguez, who writes mainly about God and her own thoughts and feelings, felt positive about her experience.

“There were a lot of really amazing African-American poets…Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes. It’s nice for us to come together regardless of race to just recite our poems in honor of them.”

For another freshman, Jahyda Cortes, the event was a positive experience as well. Cortes did not come to the event intending to read anything, but was inspired when she saw similar thoughts being shared through the microphone.

“A lot of people [at this event] were speaking about God, and a lot of what I write is about God, my own battle, my testimony,” said Cortes.
Cortes, who has been writing and performing spoken word poetry since 2008 thought the event succeeded in giving students a voice. “They use spoken word to express their feelings, to talk about their emotions freely,” she said.

Senior Antoinette Miles, a member of the Black History Month Committee, read a spoken word poem about her hair, calling the black woman’s hair both “A Gift and A Curse,” the title of her original work.

“I chose it because the struggles I have with my hair, growing up and even today is very real to me…it’s real to a lot of young women,” she said.
“Black History Month means celebrating the African-American and their place in American history,” said Miles. “For me, it’s about empowerment and pride in my roots and people.”

‘Race and the Media’ covers stereotyping, connotations

LUCILA SPARKES
Advertising Manager

On Friday, Feb. 10, the Black History Month Committee and Department of Communication Studies hosted an event focusing on “Race and the Media.”
The event was an interactive discussion in the Rutherford Room of the Recreation Center. It was led by Kate Dunsmore, a professor in the communication studies department.

As Dunsmore began her presentation, she created a small group, interactive discussion environment.

Dunsmore led the discussion by introducing the students to what the definition of mass media includes.

For example, for certain types of communication to be considered by a mass audience, the media is produced by large, competitive, complex organizations.
She also mentioned that it is important for these organizations to be able to adapt to the changing market conditions, including technological advances.

Dunsmore also made a point that, since media exist to make a profit, they must use certain representations that resonate with the audience to help with ratings or expenses.

To have people relate to specific media, there is the use of schemas.
Schemas are frameworks of the mind that can represent political and social conditions.

Schemas can become detrimental when they become stereotypes that are reinforced by the media.

After giving this explanation of mass media and schemas, Dunsmore then explained how African Americans fit into the media.
The media often portrays African Americans in an unflattering way.

Dunsmore further stated that a person needed to “create a culture in this dominate culture to give you a place to stand.”
She then cited the work of two African American scholars: Sterling Brown and Patricia Hill Collins.

Brown was a firm believer that the media had a romanticized view of slavery, that it made mixed-race marriages out to be a tragedy and that it portrayed the black man as submissive and the white man as chivalrous, Dunsmore explained.

On the other hand, Collins focused on issues portraying African American women in certain roles: devoted submissiveness, emasculating matriarch, sexually aggressive Jezebel or a welfare mother, Dunsmore explained of Collins’ writing.

After explaining these viewpoints, Dunsmore let the audience split into small groups, in which they came up with relevant examples of African Americans in present-day media.

Some of the examples the students gave included Jay-Z, Oprah Winfrey and Waka Flocka Flame.

Dunsmore then asked the students if they felt these entertainers were trapped in the stereotypical view of African Americans.

Some of the students expressed how, at one point during his musical career, Jay-Z included topics such as drug dealing in his music.

However, through his progression as an artist, Jay-Z now speaks about topics that show his maturation into success. It seems he has moved away from typical stereotypes.

Series presents author of ‘Two Women of Little Rock’

ALEXIS CAMARENA
Digital Editor

February is a month of many traditions, and while for corporate America, this may mean flocking to the stores to buy conversation hearts in bulk, for several factions of the FDU community, this month is the time to educate others about – and celebrate – black history.

This month, the Black History Month Committee, the Educational Opportunity Fund and Politics on the PublicMind, are embracing the College at Florham tradition of bringing a month’s worth of thought-provoking programming to the student body in honor of Black History Month.

To go along with the committee’s chosen theme, “Black History is American History,” FDU’s Lenfell Hall recently played host to David Margolick, renowned journalist and author of the book, “Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock.”

In his book, Margolick, currently a contributing editor for Vanity Fair magazine and previously of Newsweek and The New York Times, tells the untold story of Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan, two girls of different races that are the subject of an iconic photograph depicting racial segregation in public schools.

The photograph, on display during Margolick’s reading last Thursday, shows Eckford, a white girl, scowling at Bryan, a black girl, as she attempts to enter Little Rock Central High School.

Margolick’s book delves deep into the picture and chronicles the two women of Little Rock, Ark., in the years that followed, against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950’s.

The committee for Black History Month, composed of several faculty members across many departments, as well as a few students, is aiming to remind students that black history is pivotal to understanding our present and future.

“We all view black history as just that: something that happened a long time ago…but Margolick’s book exposes how culturally accepted school-segregation was, and it wasn’t as long ago as students think,” said Katie Singer, lecturer and chairperson of the Black History Month Committee.

“One of the important values of Black History Month is to tell the stories that don’t often get told, to provide a deeper understanding of the history….We too often color in a picture, and call it a ‘month’… [The book] tells us a story of black history, it tells a story of American history.”

Singer, along with the rest of the committee, collaborated with Politics on the PublicMind, a university-affiliated think-tank, as well as Marjorie Hall of the EOF office, to bring Margolick to campus for his reading.

Lenfell Hall was full to capacity, with students and faculty alike in attendance.

The event, well-received by those in attendance, resonated with audience members, such as junior Brittany Coleman.

“Margolick’s reading was really enlightening, he touched on a lot of points that needed to be touched on,” said Coleman.

“It was interesting to see these two women’s relationship and how their relationship evolved…these events affected their whole lives. It put like a real face and real color to events that as a public we have become really apathetic about.”

Singer said that while Margolick’s book is historical, “there’s something very literary about its storytelling.”

“It was very clear how he felt, it was clear that he had emotion for it, without making it a biased work … that made it even more compelling.”

After the success of the event, and with several more events on-deck, Singer and others on the committee, including sophomore Samantha Jones, hope to foster an appreciation for what the past has to teach us.

“The ultimate goal is for everyone to come with the expectation to learn something new, like I did. Margolick really captured the tension, and made me interested to learn more,” said Jones.

“I hope that people realize that college is the time to meet these people you would never get to meet,” said Singer. “We aim to get people out of their comfort zone.”

Committee coordinates Black History Month events

LUCILA SPARKES
Advertising Manager

This February, Fairleigh Dickinson University’s College at Florham is hosting events in honor of Black History Month. These events are coordinated by a committee of various professors in different university departments, led by Professor Katie Singer of the Literature, Language, Writing, and Philosophy department.

The committee members, who began meeting in the fall semester, collaborated on different ideas and created events that relate to their disciplines. In addition, there are some student members of the committee who offer input about what types of events will attract the attention of their peers.

One of the professors who worked with the committee is Kate Dunsmore of the Communication Studies department.

The event Dunsmore is helping to coordinate, “Race and the Media,” will discuss African Americans in the different types of media, including television, music and journalism. This event will take place on Friday, Feb. 10, in the Rutherford Room of the Recreation Center from 12:45 to 1:45 p.m.

Another part of the university that is involved with Black History Month is the library. It is hosting an exhibition featuring photography from Mansa K. Mussa. On Feb. 21 at 3 p.m., Mussa will be in the Orangerie of the library to discuss his work. The title of the collection is “The Art of Dance.” (See page 3 of this issue for more information.)

Besides having departments offer programs on black history, some organizations, such as Phi Sigma Sigma, are also doing their part to raise awareness.
This is the first year the sorority is taking a prominent role in Black History Month, led by Brittany Coleman, multicultural chair. She helped create this position for her dedication to a positive impact on campus, as well as to increase knowledge about multiculturalism.

“African Americans have helped create and build this country and it is important to not forget about their contributions to our country,” she said. “African American history affects all Americans.”

Every Monday starting Feb. 13, the women of Phi Sigma Sigma will host a movie night in Twombly Lounge that offers audiences insight into the struggles and successes of African Americans. The times vary, but the movies will include “Mississippi Burning,” “The Wiz,” and “Not Easily Broken.”

Another organization that will partake in Black History Month includes the Association of Black Collegians and the fraternity Iota Phi Theta.

ABC will host a movie night on Feb. 29 in Twombly Lounge starting at 7 p.m. Iota Phi Theta will cosponsor various events, as well as interact with their Facebook and Twitter followers by posting 29 little-known facts about black history.

An event Singer has come to look forward to and dubbed her “baby” is the Student Open Mic. This year the Open Mic will take place on Feb. 16 in Twombly Lounge from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m, and refreshments will be provided. It will begin with a reading from FDU instructor Tamara J. Madison. After Madison performs, all FDU students are encouraged to perform their favorite works that celebrate African Americans. Students can also perform their own works at this event.

Singer has seen how the Open Mic has developed through the years. It began as part of curriculum for African American literature, which only included her class and a few others. Since its inception, the event is a favorite of many, including Singer. “It’s kind of a positive cool event and of course it’s literature,” she said.

Another program planned for earlier this week was a discussion on sickle cell disease and racial health disparities, coordinated by Patricia Melloy of the Biological and Allied Health Sciences. The program was set to include guest lecturer Stephen Pemberton.

Student Antoinette Miles, representative of social media for Black History Month 2012, summed up why students and faculty should care about the many different scheduled events.

“Here on this campus, we have the opportunity to acknowledge different issues and the different achievements of African Americans,” she said.

Black History Month Hot Topics panel discusses racism today

JEFF STANSBURY
Staff Writer

On Feb. 22, the College at Florham hosted a Hot Topics panel discussion in honor of Black History Month, entitled “What Racism Looks Like Today.” The event took place in Lenfell Hall.

The panel consisted of Communication Studies Assistant Professor Kathleen Haspel, Education and Campus Coordinator Randall Westbrook  and FDU alumna Tracy Gray-Walker.

Haspel opened the discussion with a question,  asking the audience about the roles of African-Americans in mass media.

On pieces of paper provided by the event organizers, members of the audience were challenged to write down names of African-American actors that were nominated for an Oscar this year.

It turned out that none had been nominated. This realization prompted Haspel to ask, “Why are the Oscars so ‘white oriented?’”

Some said that it was the roles black actors are assigned that prevent them from winning the Oscar, while others supported the notion that black actors do not get the same level of publicity as white actors and actresses.

Westbrook was the next panelist to engage the crowd at the event.

He described his “intellectual hero” as W.E.B. DuBois for his role in establishing the NAACP organization.

Westbrook quoted DuBois to emphasize the importance of a college education.

“If you have the benefit of receiving a college education, it is your responsibility to share your knowledge with everyone in your midst,” said Westbrook.

Westbrook then asked the audience if there were any changes to racism made over the past 50 years.

Much of the audience agreed that there have been some changes in the portrayal of racism in society, but there is still a lot of progress to be made.

“Racism doesn’t look much different now than a century ago,” said Westbrook.

Gray-Walker was the final panelist to speak during the discussion.

The topics that she covered included how racism is viewed in society in terms of how people look, dress, the color of their skin and the roles of African-Americans in prominent positions in corporate America.

She ended the panel discussion by informing the audience of the importance of making one’s own path.

“Just remember that the road to success is really a personal one,” Gray-Walker said. “You must come in with the right skills and be willing to be a team player.”