Friday, January 30, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Basketball Loneliness

By Julia Woehrle

"So you're going to the basketball game Julia?" my colleague says.
"Yes, the women's," I answer.
"You'll be the only one there."
Now that got me thinking.
So, when I went to the game Ohio University versus Northern Illinois, I paid close attention to the atmosphere in the Convocation Center.

Dismal Empty Seats
Most of the time when I let my eyes wander to its empty seats, the Convo seemed to be immensely huge. And in the face of this enormous space the players on the field looked very small. Somehow it just didn't feel right: the music of the band, the cheerleader's shouts, the announcer's voice... all of it echoed back hollowly from the Convo's empty seats.

TV report on the women's game on Athens MidDay

The Men's Game - the Convo is Packed
Both Bobcat teams lost their home games on Dad's weekend. But whereas hardly any Dads got to see the loss of the women's team, quite a few Dads (and Moms and kids and Grandpas and Grandmas) were hanging on the edge of their seats watching the men's game. The women profited a little bit from the fact that the men's game was scheduled right after theirs, during the second half people slowly started filling up at least some of the empty seats. But that was nothing compared to the crowd that had arrived for the second tip-off of the day. For the men's game the Convo was packed.

Happy Cheers for a Crowd that isn't There
What felt so weird watching the women's game was the fact that the whole infrastructure at the Convo that actually greets an audience at the men's game seems opulent and out of place whenever that audience isn't there.

Nobody sees how the cheerleaders do their somersaults, hardly anybody joins them in their "O-H-I-O!!" and the position where the band is positioned sits is the most crowded space in the Convo. The point is, the work that is the backbone of this women's Basketball game that "nobody" is watching is just as professional as it is in the men's version. How sad that it doesn't get the same kind of attention.

A Different Sports Culture, but Not that Different?
I switched on my "watching big sports events memory". In my family EVERYONE is a P.E. teacher. I grew up under the principles of Turnvater (father of gymnastics) Jahn and under the influence of a family that would gather in front of the TV every day of all the Olympic Games, gymnastics and track and field worldcups. We also watched the Soccer Worldcups and Eurocups. But guess what? While the gender gap was practically non-existent in my socialization as a viewer of big non-team sports events like tennis, gymnastics and track - whose soccer games did we watch...?? Huh??? ONLY THE MEN'S.

I am from another sports culture, I am old-European, I am from soccer world. But one thing seems to be the same in the US and my home country Germany: most famous female athletes do not play team sports. And in Germany the national women's soccer team was a lot more successful in the last decades than the men's. I know Miroslav Klose, Michael Ballack and Timo Hildebrandt, but none of the female soccer players in the national team. How many WNBA players can you name? And how many NBA stars? Isn't the world of Sports Super Stars, where the big money is made, still very much a men's world? And even more so if a team is involved. Just look up US sports in Wikipedia. You'll see that obviously football, basketball, baseball and hockey are the most popular team sports. How many women football, basketball and hockey players do you know??? And no, apparently softball doesn't count, Wikipedia doesn't say a thing about softball.

Tough Guys and Pretty Girls
Another confession got me thinking about just why exactly women's team-sports often attract many fewer visitors than men's do. After I came back from the game my roommate said, "I feel bad, I never watch the women's games. Only Volleyball sometimes." Why do we watch women tennis players, gymnasts, swimmers and track athletes, but are mostly oblivious of the women who play our favorite team sports? I came up with two answers:

1. It's a structural issue--while tennis, gymnastics, swimming and track and field tournaments are mixed gender events, the team sports usually aren't. We see the women gymnasts and swimmers anyway, but to watch a women's ballgame, we have to get that extra ticket.

2. I just can't stop myself from thinking that there are also some old-school gender expectations at work. Something along these lines: Men in sports you better be tough. And ladies - you better be pretty, too.

Let's face it - somehow the general conception is that it's less fun to watch women pushing each other around to win a ballgame than it is to watch men doing just about the same. And if the "it's less athletic argument" doesn't have such a big effect on tennis and gymnastics - why does it in team sports?

Headcoach Semeka Randall speaks about the game and the crowd

We the viewers
I am generalizing here, but I'm doing it to draw some awareness to the women in sports. There are the aesthetic ones - the long-legged Swedish high jumper and the gymnast who flies across the floor in somersaults. There are the ones that put a net between themselves and their competitors - the tennis and volleyball players who wear short skirts and in the case of beach volleyball, shorts aren't supposed to be wider than 2 inches at the sides. And there are the team girls who are used to pushing each other around to sink the ball in the net. They don't care that being pushy is not the epitome of lady-likeness. But I think maybe we, the sports viewers - men and women alike - somehow still do, on a subconscious level.

So we go and watch the men's basketball game, while the women's team quietly joins the crowd that has been ignoring them for the last two hours. And we don't even notice, we have accepted the sports world as it is. Until we somehow end up at a women's basketball game, for instance as a reporter, and realize how much, in some places, our world is still a men's world.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Blood Shortage

By Ed Zelaski

This week we did two stories looking at the blood shortage nationwide and what can be done locally to help alleviate the problem. The American Red Cross reports that it is short on both B negative and O negative blood types. Without blood, patients’ lives are put in jeopardy. To put it simply, when a patient needs blood, there is nothing else that they can have to sustain life.

A Blood Shortage
I never had thought about there being blood shortages before. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been in a situation that required me to think about the blood levels at hospitals. I always figured that there was always enough blood, that people always donated enough. That’s not the case. We’re lucky here in Athens. Right now, O’Bleness Memorial Hospital is not low. That’s because the people of Athens have been generous in giving blood. O’Bleness lab manager Melanie Stetham says that Ohio University students have helped keep the local blood supplies where they need to be. Hearing things like that makes me proud to be a Bobcat. During my time here, I’ve gotten the impression that many students don’t care about the local community. Seeing the generous donations from Ohio University students has begun to change my mind.

Obleness Lab Manager Melanie Stetham on Ohio University blood drives

The Blood Battle

When I first heard about the Blood Battle, I thought it was the name of a cheesy 1970’s horror movie. After I laughed to myself, I went and read more about the actual event. A competition between rival schools to see who can raise more blood? I thought it was a great idea. We’ve dominated Miami in athletic endeavors, so why shouldn’t we be able to raise more blood than them? There is no reason that this will not be a success, I thought to myself. As it turned out, the first part of the battle on Tuesday was a good day for the Red Cross. Ohio University students donated a total of 105 pints of blood. Had I not been reporting for Athens MidDay, I would’ve been one of the many students who, at times, waited 45 minutes to donate blood. I’m sure some only donated to get a win over the rival Redhawks, but it’s still someone donating blood. The second part of the Ohio University – Miami University Blood Battle is on February 16 and runs from noon until 7:00 pm. It takes place in Baker Center.

The Simplicity of Donating Blood
Before doing this story, I had never been to a blood drive. A lot of my friends had donated blood, but I never went with them. Why? I never went because I am afraid to donate blood. I’m not sure why I am; I’m not afraid of needles. I have no problem going to the doctor to get a shot. But, for some reason, the thought of blood coming out of my body makes me nervous. Now that I’ve seen someone actually donate blood, I’m not really sure what I was scared about. The process couldn’t be simpler or easier. It’s just like getting a shot in your arm with just a ball on the end that you squeeze to make the blood flow faster. I realize that this is something that I can do and that donating blood is not at all scary.

Upcoming Blood Drives

Want to donate blood? You can go to the American Red Cross blood donation website and find a drive in your area. Here are some upcoming ones in Athens:

January 30, 2009 – HDL Center Room 208 – 9:00am to 3:00pm
February 2, 2009 – Ohio University Irvin Hall – 12:00pm to 5:00pm
February 2, 2009 – Ohio University Washington Hall – 1:00pm to 7:00pm
February 2, 2009 – Walmart-Athens Parking Lot – 1:00pm to 7:00pm
February 4, 2009 – Ohio University James Hall – 12:00pm to 6:00pm

Get out there and donate!

I encourage everyone to get out and donate blood. I plan on going to the second part of the Ohio University-Miami University Blood Battle and donating blood. There are some basic rules, though. You have to be at least 17 years old, weigh 110lbs, and be in good health. For more detailed guidelines, you can go to the eligibility section on the Red Cross website.

REPORTER BLOG: Wild Winter Weather

by Josh Mei

Remember the response you'd get from your parents (or somebody way older than you) when you used to complain about going to school? Maybe your dad would say "I used to walk so-many-miles in the snow for this-many-hours to get to school..."

Looks like I might be able to tell my future children the same thing.

Covering this story on the recent weather conditions gave new meaning to the phrase "Flying in any weather." I wasn't so much flying, but you get the picture. Walking, shooting, reporting, walking, more shooting, more walking, and so on. Continue this process for an hour and a half, mix in heavy snow showers and 20-degree weather, pour a cup of coffee and you've got yourself a web story, my friend.

First off, what are these “Levels?”
After hearing the weather reports that Athens was under a “Level 1/2/3” emergency, I still had no idea what that meant. Obviously, the levels go in order: a Level 1 being safer than 2 and 3, and so on. We interviewed Athens Sheriff Pat Kelly, and he gave us a little more information on the weather level alerts. Apparently you can get a citation for being out and driving during a Level 3 alert. Below, Sheriff Kelly explains Levels 2 and 3.

Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly explains the weather level alerts

The Story

So on Tuesday, Drew Schaar, the TV news reporter and I (web reporter) got assigned to do a story on the weather and the crazy snowstorm that hit on Monday night. We figured it wouldn't be too bad. Go out for a little bit to shoot some video, get an interview with a city official and a man-on-the-street, and then back to the news room. There. Done.

Not quite. A minor setback in the newsroom resulted in us walking down to OU Facilities Management to get an additional interview. But since we had a break between classes, it was manageable and we finished the interview in decent time.

Yeah, we're getting a story here, two as a matter of fact. We have a package and an online story. So what are we focusing on? What other aspects of the snow could we possibly manage to cover? Find out under the “Winter Weather Hits Hard” story written by yours truly.

Wait, was that something like a promo? Sweet, and here I thought I was horrible at writing those…(that was pure sarcasm, for those who weren’t sure.)

In the Field
Going out to get video and interviews wasn't bad, minus the weather part. I’ve come to the conclusion that journalists and reporters are some of the most flexible people in this world. I don’t know about myself, but in general, it seems that field reporters really know how to handle unexpected situations.

When an unexpected situation arose on Tuesday morning, we had to accommodate for it and did what we could to fix the problem. Having to re-shoot a reporter stand-up is one thing, but when you have to go back out into the cold to get entirely new interviews and video, it results in a reporter blog like this.

Reporters go through so many physical and mental challenges when getting a story. If it’s snowing, raining, sleeting, it doesn’t matter, all the better video. If fire is falling out of the sky, it’s probably unsafe for anyone to be outside. That won't stop a reporter though, because that would be one heck of a story. “Do what you gotta do” seems to be the motto to live by in news reporting. For now, I guess that’s fine by me.


By Drew Schaar

As a reporter for Athens MidDay, I don’t have the luxuries of a commercial station. There’s not a photographer who goes out with us to help shoot video and interview people. We don’t have a news car or van to take us from place to place. There aren’t capabilities for us to go live from a scene. We deal with what we have and we make it work. We are fortunate that our equipment is good…especially for a learning establishment, and that is our main purpose. We do the best with what we have and we try every day to deliver the best content to the viewer. I think we succeed in that.

However, when covering stories that require you to travel and be out and about all day, I really wish we had a lot of resources on our hands. This week I covered the snow and ice storm that hit Southeastern Ohio as a “one man band.” This means that I was responsible for setting up interviews, operating the camera, asking the questions, writing the scripts, editing the video, and turning the story into something that could be aired on television – all by myself. It was an experience and a fun story to cover. Nevertheless, trudging up and down Court Street when the sidewalks haven’t been shoveled while lugging twenty pounds of equipment around is more than treacherous.

As a reporter, I am always in a race against the clock. We live the life of deadlines and pressure. Trying to get the story as soon as we can and get it to the viewer is a time consuming process. As I covered the Athens Snow Storm of 2009, I did so without a real plan. The team of reporters all grabbed gear and went out to document as much as we could in as little time possible. A group of three people scoured the town shooting video and trying to interview anyone we could. Some of the content had to be turned around almost immediately for use on air. Another reporter and I were assigned to cover the story for the next day, so we had a little bit of time. Luckily, our studio and newsroom are located very close to official offices in Athens. We were able to grab a quick, impromptu interview with Sheriff Pat Kelly at his Washington Street Office. He gave us some great information on the roads, crews, snow emergency levels and what they were doing to prepare. From there I made a few phone calls to set some interviews up for later in the day. The other reporter and I dispersed to cover more sides of the story.

I felt it was important to talk to as many people as I could, both official and everyday people. Some residents had horrible experiences getting to work. Others seemed to make it in ok, but weren’t happy about the weather. Still others seemed excited and happy about the snow. I was originally excited for the storm. Then when I had to get out and walk around in the mess, I was convinced otherwise. It was amazing all of the different thoughts and feelings about the storm. After a few interviews, my story was starting to come together. My partner reporter talked to some students at Ohio University to get their thoughts and experiences walking to class. Some seemed un-phased; others had horror stories of walking in from far off campus.

I finished the day by making numerous phone calls to state and city agencies to get the latest on how they were coping and preparing for the storm. I concluded my interviews I had set up that day and then went home to write. Scripting this story was very difficult compared to other stories I have covered. This was an ever-changing storm system and I had to be careful to include that in my script to make it flexible. My story was scheduled to air on Wednesday, but that was interrupted with a Level Three Snow Emergency and the closing of the university. We didn’t go on air Wednesday, the day the story was to air. That meant more tweaking of my script to make sure that it was still relevant and included the information from the ice portion of the storm, as well as the Level Three.

I worked very hard covering this story. I was out in the snow, the cold, and the slippery surfaces. I constantly updated and tweaked my script to keep it up to date. For me this wasn’t just a “cover it and be done” story. It kept evolving and changing while I was covering it. It makes it difficult from a reporter standpoint to do the best you can in the time you have in an ever-changing situation. In the end, the story aired and updated viewers about the experience of the storm. Some of the information may have been a little dated, but I did the best I could. For me, this story was always supposed to air on Wednesday, but I just had to role with the changes and make it work. If you are interested in seeing how the story turned out on air, you can find it below.

Snow Storm Television Package

To read another blog about reporting in the winter weather, click here.

Winter Weather Hits Hard

by Josh Mei

Powdered sidewalks, frosted windshields, and slushy streets are all expected weather conditions during the winter season. Recent conditions, however, have posed as more than just minor inconveniences for Athens residents and students.

In previous days, weather forecasts predicted heavy snow, which is exactly what Athens got. Roads were layered with snow and sidewalks carpeted with powder as the storm started late Monday night and continued into Tuesday.
Precipitation slowed down briefly during parts of the day, but freezing rain started again in the evening, resulting in school closings all over Athens for Wednesday. Even Ohio University was closed due to the weather, as the area was placed on a Level 3 radar warning.

Though the weather has dampened moods and shut down schools, people in Athens have been doing all they can to continue their daily routines. Whether it’s spreading salt, shoveling snow, or even making it to class, everybody is just trying to get through the day safely.

Sheriff's Office
Ever wonder what the weather report means by “Level 1, 2, or 3?”
Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly explained that during a Level 1, the roadways are hazardous and drivers are asked to drive cautiously. On Tuesday, Athens was placed on a Level 2 and dropped to Level 1 later in the day.

Sheriff Kelly explains the weather levels

A Level 2 alert means that roads are icy and hazardous, and only the people who feel it’s necessary to travel should be out on the roads.

Under a Level 3, all roads are closed and all travel is prohibited. The law states that motorists will receive citations if they are caught driving in a Level 3 alert.

Facilities Management
Ohio University Facilities Management is working at full capacity, and Grounds Services is taking care of campus roads and sidewalks. In the recent storm, Grounds Services has sent crews out around 5 a.m. to start preparing sidewalks for the day.

Facilities Management
Supervisor Steve Mack explained they don’t want to begin clearing the walks too early if snow is still falling. “Right around 5 or 6 a.m., a couple of hours before classes start is when we’ll start calling people in,” he said.

“Our primary focus is the sidewalks because of all the pedestrian traffic…we focus on the areas around the dorms and classroom buildings and then the areas in between,” he added.

Mack explains the decision-making process on how to treat roads

Driving Tips
Driving on the icy streets can be dangerous, so the Ohio Department of Transportation gives some tips on how to stay safe on the roads.

UPS worker Donald Stein provides his tricks of the trade for staying safe when driving in the midst of the winter weather.

UPS worker Donald Stein gives tips

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Students Statewide Aid in Winter Blood Donations

By JJ Andersen

The O’Bleness Hospital Blood Laboratory isn’t facing blood shortages like many other places are. Butlab manager, Melanie Stethen, is still excited about the blood donation battle between Ohio University and Miami University of Ohio. Blood banks, hospitals and laboratories will never turn down donations. As Stethen says, “When a patient needs blood, there’s really nothing else they can have to sustain life.”

Stethen explains about the blood bank and the winter.

Winter Blues
No one knows better than blood bank workers that the weather can discourage donors from giving. Frigid temperatures, blustery conditions and icy roads can very easily deter people from making their donation. At the “Blood Battle” it was evident that the weather was discouraging students. Stethen explained, “It all depends on how willing people are to come out and donate with the Red Cross.”

Stethen talks about the importance of blood and blood drives.

The Blood Battle
OU and Miami began a two part blood drive competition Monday, with OU donors reporting to the Ping Center. The totals will be added and the winner announced on February 26, when the two schools meet in a men’s basketball match-up at the Convocation Center. The wager: the losing school's Student Senate President must sing the winner's fight song at halftime.

Extended Effort
Organizers separated the blood donation dates by a month because of the restrictions that prevent donors from giving blood on back-to-back days.
Second Blood Drive:
*WHEN- February 16th, 2009 from Noon to 7 pm
*WHERE- Ping Center
*HOW- Call 1-800-GIVELIFE or sign up at

Inside the Lab
The Blood Bank in the O’Bleness laboratory follows the recommendations of American Association of Blood Banks. The AABB has been in operation for 60 years and is responsible for collecting almost all the nation’s blood supply. The American Red Cross supplies the blood for the bank. Blood storage conditions follow these guidelines:

- Stored in 35 to 37 degrees Fahrenheit
- Blood is good for up to 36-38 days
- By day 36 blood is sent to high trauma locations

The lab maintains accreditation with the College of American Pathologists. The CAP ensures the lab is equipped with top-notch equipment and a quality trained staff.

Monday, January 26, 2009

OU Board of Trustees Passes Budget Proposals

by Megan Gorey

The Ohio University Board of Trustees met for two days last week at the Ohio University-Eastern Campus in St. Clairesville to debate the new budget proposals for the upcoming fiscal year. The first day was closed to the public while the members of the board discussed the full details of the resolutions, but Friday's meeting was an open forum as the board officially voted on the proposals. Although it seemed that board members easily passed the resolutions, Board Chairman Daniel DeLawder explained that discussing proposals and making decisions is like being in a play production. "You rehearse for nine months and then perform for two hours," said the Chairman.

Student Information System
After months of research and planning, funding for the $41.4 million Student Information System (SIS) was decided. Half of the project cost will be paid for with a quarterly student technology fee while budget resolutions and relocation of other funds will cover the rest of the costs. Chairman DeLawder expressed the difficulties and importance of the project.

Chairman C. Daniel DeLawder stresses the SIS project

The university had proposed to cover the rest of the costs of the system with bonds in 2012. But now the goal of university officials is to choose smaller, more frequent bonds during these challenging economic times.

Academic Research Center
During the January meeting last year, the Board of Trustees had approved the construction of an Academic Research Center with a budget of $30 million. However, alterations of the construction plan and stock market troubles required the Board to pass a revised resolution for an additional $7.4 million to complete the project. The building is set to include:

*14 laboratories
*11 offices
*5 classrooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors
*A connecting bridge to West Green Plaza leading to Stocker Hall

The additional funding was raised with the help of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Russ Research Center, the Russ College of Engineering, and an internal university loan. The Board's approval of the budget brings the total project cost to $34.5 million.

Campus Construction Costs
Other 2009 miscellaneous capital projects include:

*$2.9 million to replace the roofs on residence halls
*$500,000 to replace the boilers in two New South Green halls
*$900,000 to upgrade the Convocation Center bathrooms

Facing Financial Crisis
Although the university is facing budget cuts and is discussing plans of voluntary early retirement, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) incentive proposals, and employment separation options, President McDavis remains optimistic about the condition of Ohio University.

President McDavis and Chairman DeLawder both spoke about the progress of the university last year in comparison with other state schools. In 2007, the university ranked 12th out of 14 institutions but moved up to 6th place in 2008. Both also praised the university's improved student retention rate.

President McDavis speaks about Ohio University's strengths

The Full Report
The complete 264 page January Agenda includes a comprehensive Report of the President, Report of the Executive Vice President and Provost, Report of the Chair of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, as well as the standing committee reports, actions, and informational items. The Board of Trustees holds its next meeting on April 24, 2009.

Friday, January 23, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: The Inauguration of Project Hope United

By Julia Woehrle

I think hardly anyone could avoid President Obama's inauguration. And I'm not only talking about the U.S., I'm talking about basically our entire world. And the good news is, hardly anyone WANTED to get around the inauguration.

"A Moment in History"
Just like everyone else I have heard the reference to the event as "a moment in history" so many times by now that - sorry - but I almost can't hear it anymore. Still, I am glad that I didn't miss it either. Aren't we all glad we didn't? Didn't we all want to share this moment of hope..?

Not in Washington, but Not Alone Either...
Yes, I was relieved when I was told Tuesday: "I want you to cover the reactions to the inauguration." Just imagine, I could have missed the whole thing, because of a City Council meeting. I apologize to City Council, but no, that day, no, I wasn't interested in covering council meetings an itsy-bitsy-tiny bit. I watched the historic inauguration at the Baker Center instead.

I am a Mouse in the Face of History
And not only did I go to the Baker Center to watch the inaugration, I also had the official permit to ask people why they came and how they liked it. Reporter's privilege. So that's what I did. First of all, I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of interview possibilites. There were just SO MANY people there, in at least three different places watching the inaugural event with solemn faces. And it was only me and my colleague and one camera. Talking about feeling like a tiny mouse in the face of huge history in the making. But forward reporter, Julia!! Thou shalt not feel fear!!!

"So Why Have You Come Here to Watch The Inauguration?"
So timid mouse Julia turned into bold reporter Julia again and started asking people why they had chosen the Baker Center to watch the inauguration. Guess what they answered?

"It's an extremely moment in history and I wouldn't want to miss it for the world."
"It's a historic event."
"It's such an important part of our history."
"It's a moment of history."

Yes, this moment is history now and what counts is what is done in the present for the future.

Asking the Internationals
I am German, so obviously I perceived the election and inauguration of President Obama differently than a U.S. citizen would. And that's why I asked the internationals at Baker Center why they came and how they liked Obama's speech. I knew I would get answers that would be somewhat different. And we reporters are ever on the run to catch that "different" voice - the one you don't usually get to hear.

Project Hope International
Mr. Obama does not only bring change and hope to the U.S., but also to the rest of the world. He has already started to change the U.S. policy by signing the order to close the Guantanamo Bay facilities and giving the military's interrogation rules to the CIA. Those things DO have a big effect on the rest of the world: they change the way in which the rest of the world perceives and judges the U.S.

What the Internationals Expect
That's why I asked Zak Nyangau form Kenya and Sven Latzke from Germany about their take on the inauguration and what they expect of Mr. Obama in the future. And the answers I got had a slightly different tone than the American voices did. Yes, both of them were excited and happy and hopeful, but both of them also pointed out very clearly that President Obama can't change the world alone.

Zak Nyangau speaks about expectations

Isn't it Hope that Brings the Change?

Maybe Presidend Obama can't bring about change alone, but then he has already. He talks about hope and change and responsibility. He integrates all kinds of minority groups into his speeches. He manages to transmit a sense of humility on top of that. He brings that glow into people's eyes and he has made history already. I think that Mr. Obama's belief in the power of hope is his true power to bring along change, because the hope he kindles in people around the world has the power to unite them.

President Obama can't change the world alone, but he has given people around the world the hope to believe in change that is achieved by united effort and stopped their feeling of powerlessness. Now everyone has to work on the changes within him- or herself to turn the big change into reality.

Sven Latzke speaks about hope and change

I was lying on the floor of the Ping Center's group fitness room, a Yoga mat beneath me. I tried to let my mental gymnastics go while the instructor said: "Feel your body. The parts that are tight, the parts that feel particularly good today... Don't judge. Just notice how your body feels different after today's class. How it has changed. Everything is constantly changing. Nothing stays the same..."

"Yes, yes, change. Change is good. I wonder if Mr. Obama ever practiced Yoga," I think before my mental gymnastics stop and I accept the change and the emptiness in my mind.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Author and Activist visits Ohio University

by Tony Rawlings

Author and former child soldier Ishmael Beah visited Ohio University as part of the Kennedy Lecture Series to discuss his life in Sierra Leone during years of civil war, as depicted in his book “Long Way Gone”. Beah shared memories both good and bad about the years he spent in Africa before coming to America as a teenager. Some people in the audience had read his novel, some had not, but all were familiar with his story and he was greeted with resounding applause as he took the stage.

Author Ishmael Beah's warm reception at Ohio University

Telling His Story
In Africa, the oral tradition is the way that stories are told and information is passed along from person to person. Ishmael embraced this tradition as he told the story of his life. His story is one that few could fully comprehend.

He spoke of seeing children murdered for crying after witnessing the murder of their parents. He spoke of coming to terms with life as a soldier and being unable to mourn because it would put his own survival in jeopardy. He spoke of the drugs that older soldiers would give to the younger ones to help them cope with the killing that they both witnessed and took part in. He spoke of being unable to sleep at night out of fear of being killed and out of the fear of the images that would haunt his dreams. The other soldiers became his family. Parental love and compassion were replaced by respect and honor that was earned by committing brutal acts of violence against other factions of rebels. Day to day, the hope that tomorrow would be different, that the civil wars would end, kept him going.

Sending a Message
Today, Beah lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is currently on a tour, with speaking engagements across the country to tell his story and help raise awareness about the use of child soldiers, not only in Africa, but also around the world. He does the tours, interviews and appearances to do what he can to put an end to the use of children as soldiers. About his efforts he said, “It is to continue to remind people that this is still going on. Not only in Sierra Leone currently, but also in other parts of the world. The use of children is not an African issue, it’s a global problem.”

Beah hopes that his story and his experiences will give a face to this issue and inspire others to do what they can on a personal level to help end this cruel and destructive practice.

Ishmael Beah speaks about his motivation for writing "Long Way Gone"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration '09: Perspectives at the Baker Center

by Ellen Schnier

Inauguration Day, 2009, exceeded many others in energy, anticipation and excitement. The nation's first African-American president--for many a beacon of hope and a symbol of change--was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America. Taking office just after noon, President Barack Obama was overwhelmingly welcomed by millions of people, crowded onto the Mall in Washington, D.C., hoping to witness a part of history.

Hundreds of Ohio University students and members of the community gathered at the Baker University Center to watch the events of the day. On a movie theater-sized screen, they watched the new president speak about the challenges we face as a country. We are in the midst of "gathering clouds and raging storms," he said, but we must come together. "Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord."

Many African-Americans thought this day would never come, but rejoiced in the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said 45 years ago that he could imagine a day when a black man would be President of the United States. Evident through the tears of African-Americans in Washington and at the Baker University Center, this dream was fulfilled on Tuesday. President Obama recognized the breaking down of racial barriers, that we have "emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more unified." He put the scope of his position into context. "This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed--why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across the magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath."

At OU, African-American student and basketball player, Adetunji Adedipe, reacted to watching the inauguration of the nation's first black president. He said, "It means a lot, because it shows a big step has been made in our country towards equality. It shows a kind of breaking the stereotypes, the color barrier and everything. It just shows that things are really changing."

Adetunji Adedipe speaks about what this inauguration means to him.

Also attending the screening of the inauguration were international students. Mr. Obama's election created excitement, intrigue, and anticipation among the global community--many countries eager to extend a hand to the United States. In an address to the international community, President Obama reasserted his belief in our position as a world power in saying, "And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more."

Sven Latzke, an OU graduate student from Germany said, "The whole world has lost respect for the United States and I think it's gonna come back. And he's gonna demand something from us. But I think the German people are willing to give more, if it makes sense. Under George Bush it just seemed to be not reasonable. So I think if it makes sense we all want to contribute." In a spirit of reconciliation and open to change, Latzke hopes that Mr. Obama can make an impact and work with the international community.

Sven Latzke hopes for the rebuilding of America in the global community.

A graduate student from Kenya, where Barack Obama's father was born, Josiah Zachary Nyangau, speaks about the historical nature of the event and its impact on the world. "His inauguration means a lot to people in Kenya, of course everyone is in a joyful mood and it's kind of an inspiration that no matter the challenges you face and no matter the challenges we face as a people, however tall they may be, with determination, we can overcome them." Uplifted by Mr. Obama's speech, Nyangau said he was inspired and proud "that finally the segregation and all those stereotypes have been kind of shattered by his inauguration."

Josiah Nyangau, from Kenya, talks about the importance of President Obama's election.

In welcoming talks with foreign nations, though, Mr. Obama ushered a warning to enemies in saying, "We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you."

Mr. Obama stressed that American citizens have a responsibility to work for the renewal and betterment of the country. "This is the price and the promise of citizenship." While we have traveled far, we have many challenges ahead that will require our sacrifice. "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."

This hope for the future was shared by Dianne Bouvier, an employee in the Institute for Equality at Ohio University. Encouraged by his words, she says of the new president, "I just get the sense that he's humble. And that he knows how daunting everything is, but that he's got the spirit that's gonna help us move forward. It's an event; it's part of our shared history. It just made me feel like, yeah, I needed to see it. I needed to be here to be a part of it, too."

Dianne Bouvier is moved by witnessing history in the making.

Around 1:00 pm, students, families, and community members returned to class or to work, after taking a break to be a part of history taking place in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Student Plans Successful MLK Day Event

By Drew Schaar

The Martin Luther King Junior tribute on the campus of Ohio University didn't plan itself. OU senior Deandre Christian started working the event nine months ago in the spring of 2008. Christian was responsible for planning all details of the event from booking the speaker to creating a budget. Kent Smith, Vice President for Student Affairs at Ohio University, recognized Christian for all of his hard work, adding he did it all on his own. "I'm so proud of Deandre," Smith said, "he's gone through the entire process of planning, contracting, funding, interviewing, and having meetings in order to plan this event."

Christian took on the role as a way to gain experience and give back to the community. He worked closely with Dr. Smith who advised the project. Christian managed every detail of the program, deciding how much to charge for tickets, and even picking the design. Christian said, "Martin Luther King Day…it's not just a day off. It's a day on. So by me recognizing that fact is why I am dedicating so much time to this event." In response, Smith said, "I get excited to see a student take an idea and make it a reality and turn it into an event. This is an experience you can't measure."

Kent Smith and Deandre Christian talk about the program and MLK Day

Joe Rogers, former lieutenant governor of Colorado, was this year's speaker at the annual memorial brunch. He was chosen in conjunction with the "Dream Alive" Program. Rogers incorporates part of King's "I Have a Dream" and "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speeches into his presentation. Rogers feels that King's legacy is still relevant to people today, and that is why he devotes his time to sharing them. He hopes to make Martin Luther King relevant to people's lives and dreams of today.

Before the annual brunch got underway, a silent march from Galbreath Chapel to Baker University Center was held. Despite the freshly fallen snow, a crowd of roughly fifty people gathered to remember King and his work. People of all ages and differing races joined arms and walked side by side down the brick sidewalks of OU's campus. Cold temperatures and a coat of snow didn't turn people away. In fact, one participant said, "It's just a beautiful morning…the snow is very pretty." The crowd slowly made its way to Baker, where guests filed into the ballroom for the brunch and speaker.

Many people participate in the Silent March

The brunch and guest speaker was presented to a full house in the Baker Center Ballroom. All 400 seats were sold out. Guests included many local figures. OU President Roderick McDavis and his wife, Senator Jimmy Stewart, and Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl were all present for the keynote speaker.

Planning for next year's MLK Day event will start spring quarter. If you're intersted in helping out, contact the Vice President of Student Affairs' Office.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Athens Prepared for Winter Weather

by Ed Zelaski

Frigid temperatures have frozen much of the midwest, but Athens is well prepared to handle the weather. Assistant Service Safety Director Ron Lucas has safety tips for this weather, advising drivers to take their time. He says that water can thaw during the day and free again at night and the streets can still look dry. To stay safe, drivers should take their time. Drivers should also stay a safe distance behind the salt trucks and avoid trying to pass the trucks. Doing so could cause an accident, he warns.

Assistant Service Safety Director Ron Lucas gives advice to drivers

Keeping the roads cleared

Despite shortages across the country, Lucas says that the city has more than enough salt to make it through the winter. He says that the Street Department still has a bin full of salt. Should they run out, Lucas says the city has a reserve. "We still have 450 tons that we can still purchase that are earmarked for us, so right now we're in good shape," he says.

Cold weather expected to continue
The cold front is expected to continue through Saturday. There is a wind-chill advisory in place for tonight. Temperatures could drop as low as 5 below tonight, but can feel as cold as 13 below with the wind chill.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Critical Blood Shortage in Athens

by Julia Woehrle

It happens every year in the winter, but that doesn't make this blood shortage any less dangerous in Athens County. The Red Cross reports that O-negative supplies are down to less than a day. A blood drive at Ohio University's Baker Center helped to fill up the stocks again Tuesday.

Why the Shortage
Pamela Martino of the Athens Red Cross says there are mutliple reasons for the shortage, like the flu and fear of needles or giving blood. Martino says "Only 5% of the people who are eligible to give blood, give blood." But she says patients who need another person's blood cannot wait until the cyclical shortage is over.

Increasing Donations
The Red Cross in Athens has organized more blood drives in the coming weeks. The Red Cross is calling former donors in advance to ask them to give their blood once again. The process may seem scary to some, but is actually safe and easy. Donor Kelly Martin says, "It's really very simple."

Kelly Martin explains the donation process

O Negative Need
People whose blood type is O negative are especially important for the drives: their blood type makes them universal donors and the supplies are down to less than one day. Kelly Martin also donated blood yesterday and says, "I'm O positive, and believe there are many people in the community who are O positive. So I'm a popular blood type."

Saves Lives
Pamela Mortino of the Red Cross stresses that donating blood actually is a gentle process and it really helps to save lives. "For every unit of blood a person donates, it can save the life of 3 people," she explains. Athens residents who are interested in donating blood can schedule an appointment online or call 1-800-448-3543. For a list of upcoming blood drives, just click here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Underground Bridges & Roundabouts on Rt. 682

by Megan Gorey

Once all the snow melts away and the sun comes back out to warm up Southern Ohio, the bike paths and sidewalks of Athens will once again be busy with pedestrians. This also means more traffic, automobiles and people, crossing at the Richland Avenue and Route 682 intersection. According to Christina Knisely, council member at large, this intersection is one of the most dangerous intersections in the Ohio Department of Transportation region with the highest amount of auto accidents in the area per number of cars traveling through.

At a recent City Council meeting, the Transportation Committee discussed the $5,000 safety grant and the resolution that will be presented again to the council. According to Knisely, the construction will begin in the Spring of 2010 and the plan will have two major objectives:

1.) First, to slow down the traffic approaching the intersection. Freeway traffic, trucks, and community commuters approach the busy intersection of Richland Avenue and Rt. 682 at speeds of abou 50 mph. It is also very common for large semi-trucks to run the traffic light at the intersection.

2.) Second, make the intersection more accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists. The dangerous intersections makes it especially difficult to control crosswalks and ensure that people are able to cross those intersections safely.

These objectives will hopefully be met with the implementation of a large roundabout in the intersection to help slow down the traffic and make the flow of traffic through the intersection more smooth. There will also be a pedestrian tunnel constructed under the intersection that would also be more accessible for wheelchairs and bicycles.

Elahu Gosney, council member, explained that these projects are all part of a bigger plans for Athens over the next two years.

Elahu Gosney talks about collaborating with the Street Director

The council presented a proposal to provide $5,000 to help create a Mobility Manager position through an Ohio Department of Transportation grant for Athens County. After council meetings with President McDavis, there is a frustration expressed due to the various empty bus routes and empty buses running. The Mobility Manager would be in charge of coordinating local and regional transportation including implementing a new website for marketing these transit and combined routes.

City Council will be reviewing these resolutions at the meeting Monday, January 19th, at the City Building at 7:00 p.m.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Roosevelt Drive Tower Causing Controversy

by Nicole DeChant

Athens residents are having some serious concerns about a communication tower that is currently being constructed on Roosevelt Drive.

New Tower Taller
The current communications tower is 130 feet tall and 16-years-old, and Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl says it needs to be replaced with a newer and taller tower that will upgrade the city's communication system.

City council aprroved the contract in 2007 to build the new tower with the Newcome Electronic Systems Company.

Wiehl insists the location of the tower on Roosevelt Drive is pivotal because it is the highest point in the city.

Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl discusses the importance of the tower location.

Residents' Concerns
But residents are concerned about their safety because the new tower is approximately 20 feet taller than the existing one, creating a fall zone of 165 feet which includes residential homes, streets and a public park.
Residents are also concerned that the new tower does not comply with current engineering standards.

A Roosevelt Drive resident expresses her concerns about tower construction.

Residents sent a letter to Mayor Wiehl requesting a re-evaluation of the site from an independent party.

Public Discussion
The issue will be discussed at 7p.m. Monday at the Athens City Council meeting and a representative from the Newcome Electronic Systems Company will be available to answer questions.