Does ‘13 Reasons Why’ confront rape culture?

By Dean Galiffa

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In support of April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, DCCC will be holding Clothesline Project events on every campus, from April 3-19. The Clothesline Project is an organization created to bring awareness to those affected by violence. Photo by Dean Galiffa

After reading the book and watching the Netflix original series adaptation, Marple campus Career and Counseling Center staff member Chris Doyle developed “Confronting Rape Culture: 13 Reasons Why,” a workshop exploring the “pervasiveness of rape culture” within the show.

“I thought pairing the workshop with ‘13 Reasons Why’ would get people’s attention,” Doyle said. “I wanted to focus more on confronting rape culture rather than the more controversial aspects of the show, such as the glamorization of suicide.”

Eileen Colucci, a fellow counselor, approached Doyle shortly after she developed the workshop.

“I was interested in partnering with her in this project,” Colucci said. “The idea was that we would use the show as a tool surrounding an important topic.”

Throughout this semester, there have been two workshops held on both the Marple and Downingtown campuses.

The first was held on Feb. 8 on the Marple campus during Q-Time and opened with Doyle explaining the purpose of the workshop.

“[Rape culture] is a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse,” Doyle said.

Doyle suggested that students ask questions when discussing sexual violence.

“One of our responsibilities is to educate and raise awareness about sexual assault on college campuses,” Doyle said. “This workshop is one of the more contemporary ways we’ve chosen to do that. We’re going to show scenes from the show and open up a discussion.”

Before beginning the presentation, Doyle said that the workshop was meant to explore the contributing factors of rape culture among men and women.

“This is not a man-bashing presentation,” Doyle said. “This takes into account the culture that affects women but also affects men. Pressure is put on both parties to act in a specific way.”

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91 percent of colleges in 2014 reported zero incidents of rape on campus. Photo courtesy of Mic Network Inc.

Jessie V. Ford’s article “‘Going with the Flow’: How College Men’s Experiences of Unwanted Sex Are Produced by Gendered Interactional Pressures,” published in Social Forces, examines 39 heterosexual men’s experiences with unwanted sex in college.

Ford’s data suggested that men typically conduct their sex lives to conform to society’s expectations of masculinity.

“Men consent to unwanted sex because accepting all opportunities for sexual activity is a widely accepted way to perform masculinity,” Ford writes. “They fear ridicule if stories are told portraying them as the kind of man who does not jump at any opportunity for sex with an attractive woman.”

A study in the Journal of Child & Family Studies titled “Sexual Assault Among College Students: Family of Origin Hostility, Attachment, and the Hook-Up Culture as Risk Factors” reports “Between one-third and one-half of college men admit to perpetrating some form of sexual assault against a woman.”

Another study in PLoS ONE titled “Sexual assault incidents among college undergraduates: Prevalence and factors associated with risk,” estimates 20 to 25 percent of college students in the United States are sexual assault victims.

These statistics prompted universities to enhance or develop policies and programs to prevent sexual assault.

According to an article by Jennifer R. Boyle in the American Journal of Health Studies, recent efforts against sexual assault on college campuses have focused heavily on the “bystander approach, [which] relies on third party witnesses to intervene in potential sexual assault situations.”

Current bystander programs, including the Mentors in Violence Prevention program and the Men’s Project, have shown some success among college students.

“There’s something called ‘Bystander Intervention,” Doyle told students during the Feb. 8 workshop. “It is a program to teach people how to intervene when they see something going on. I’m hoping to bring that training to campus.”

Rosie Long, a first-year psychology major, attended the workshop on Marple campus. She said a friend at West Chester University underwent the training.

“I think all teachers should have to attend that training,” Long said. “I’ve had past encounters with sexual assault and harassment in high school and the teachers and counselors involved did not handle it well.”

Long attended Upper Darby High School where she said she was victim of sexual harassment and assault on multiple occasions.

“In one situation, a counselor told me I could fill out paperwork, but it would probably lead to more harassment and bullying,” said Long in an interview after the workshop. “I was advised to avoid him in the hallways and sit away from him at lunch. He was an athlete, and he was very glorified and ran for homecoming king.”

Long completed her senior year through the Upper Darby School District Cyber Academy, a program offering classes to students online, after feeling too unsafe attending traditional classes.

During the workshop, Colucci said that she was shocked after hearing Long’s story. She related her experience to a scene from “13 Reasons Why,” in which a student was exonerated for sexual harassment on account of his athlete status.

Long said she read the book and saw the show before the workshop, and found it a useful tool.

“I didn’t like the book as much as the show,” Long said. “The show opened up a discussion on sexual assault, bullying, and suicide, even though it didn’t execute it very well. Using scenes was helpful, and having it be in the title of the workshop definitely appealed to students more.”

Erin McCarthy, a second-year psychology major who was homeschooled, attended the workshop on the Downingtown campus on March 6, 2018. She had not seen the show or read the book before the workshop and did not think using the show was a helpful tool.

“I went into it with low expectations and came out with even less than that level,” she said. “I thought the show was a very bad representation of rape culture.”

McCarthy added that the workshop was not about confronting rape culture, but blaming rape culture on many different aspects of today’s society.

“I thought the workshop would be about bettering the future of our society,” she added. “I expected us to be finding the root of the problem and discussing how to fix it. Instead, it was a lot of complaining.”

McCarthy said that she believes the issues surrounding rape culture can be dealt with from an early age.

“We need to teach children how to treat each other appropriately and with respect,” McCarthy said. “Parents should be teaching their kids how to act, not expecting schools to.”

In support of April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, DCCC will be holding Clothesline Project events on every campus, from April 3-19.

The Clothesline Project is an organization created to bring awareness to those affected by violence. T-shirts are decorated and hung on a clothesline display as a testimony to the problem, according to the organization’s website.

Contact Dean Galiffa at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Food bank meets need on Marple campus

By Andrew Henry

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The F.E.R.B program at DCCC provides food with nutritional value such as fruit and Gatorade to help hungry students make it through their day. The snacks are packed into white bags kept in the Campus Life office. Photo by Andrew Henry

It’s no secret that being a college student can be challenging. Sitting in a classroom for more than an hour, focusing on what the teacher is saying, all the while taking notes, not to mention having to study those notes for hours on end to retain the information.

Now imagine having to do that on an empty stomach.

Some may not have to imagine. For some, this is a reality.

Food insecurity is defined by Merriam-Webster as “unable to consistently access or afford adequate food.”

In other words, some students do not eat because they simply cannot afford to.

This issue is quite common on college campuses, according to a report published by Students Against Hunger, which reports the rate of food insecurity among college students as four times greater than the national average.

DCCC offers programs that help those struggling with food insecurities.

Kathy Schank, an associate professor of social work at DCCC since 2008, is also the faculty advisor to the Social Work Club.

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An instructional placard outlining how to gain access to the food provided by the F.E.R.B program stands behind a sample of what one might find in a bag acquired from Campus Life on Marple campus. Photo by Andrew Henry

The club, along with Campus Life, noticed an ongoing problem on the Marple campus and other DCCC branch campuses.

Students are hungry.

Counselors also took notice and began bringing food to their offices, according to Schank.

Water bottles, snack bars, and other small snacks were brought in to help students make it through the day, but staff saw that it was not enough.

At a meeting with the Social Work Club during the 2011-12 academic year then Campus Life director Amy Williams Gaudioso suggested a solution: creating a food bank on DCCC’s Marple campus.

The Social Work Club agreed, and within one and a half years a program called the Food Emergency Resource Bank, or FERB, was created in spring of 2014.

“We asked for donations toward the food bank from the college community,” Schank said. “And we have been getting a great response ever since.”

Food bank items are selected based on nutritional value, and what would best help students make it through their day.

The food bank at DCCC is located in the Student Center, Room 1180.

Students can approach a counselor and simply tell her that they have a “food emergency.” Students will then receive a ticket that is to be taken to the front desk at Campus Life. They will be given a bag of food from the food bank with no questions asked.

The next step for the food bank is to expand into a larger facility and have it be manned by student volunteers. A team is actively working on the expansion and finding space to do it.

The food bank is also linked to a program called Keystone Education Yields Success, or K.E.Y.S, located in Room 2170 on DCCC’s Marple campus. The program is directed by Susan Bennett.

K.E.Y.S is designed to help recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) succeed in community college, according to their page on DCCC’s website.

The program supplies lunch vouchers, financial assistance, and rewards for students based on their academic achievements.

“There are students that are eligible for K.E.Y.S, and just haven’t signed up,” Bennett said. “If you received the Pell grant, you are more than likely eligible.”

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An instructional placard outlines how one might gain access to the food provided by the F.E.R.B program. Photo by Andrew Henry

The program also provides free transportation, childcare, and gives students information about other programs for which students may be eligible.

If a student wants to check his eligibility, he can visit http://www.compass.state.pa.us.

A questionnaire takes about two minutes to complete.

“[Food insecurities are] one symptom of a larger systemic issue,” said Allyson Gleason, director of Campus Life. However, she does feel that the food bank has made an impact on students’ lives.

If you or someone you know is struggling with finding your next meal, contact the Career and Counseling Center on Marple Campus.

Contact Andrew Henry at communitarian@dccc.mail.edu

Software alerts students of academic status

By John Kearney

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Screenshot from Delagate’s Application Sidebar. Photo courtesy of DCCC website

Starfish Early Alert is a thumbnail that exists alongside frequently used Delagate applications such as Canvas, Student Email, and Degree Works.

The retention program, consisting of 7,000 online profiles, has features that are pertinent to student success, advocates say.

David Murtha, dean of the Career and Counseling Center and one of Early Alert’s coordinators, said the program aims to identify students exhibiting behaviors not conducive to student success before they have no choice but to withdraw from or fail a course.

“Historically, many institutions would send midterm warnings to students,” Murtha said. “However, when it is halfway through the semester, it is often too late to turn grades around.”

The Starfish program was launched in fall of 2015 as a more efficient replacement to SARS (Scheduling and Reporting System) the preceding online feature of the Early Alert system, according to David Pringle, director of Student Completion Programs.

After its conception, professors were directed to implement “kudos” and “warnings” to their students with respect to their academic standing in the class. Kudos are sent to students who show above-average academic standing in a course. Warnings are sent to those missing classwork, those who are unable to attend class regularly, and to those at risk of failing a course.

Humanities Professor Francesco Bellini, recalled attempting to warn a student of missing work through one of Starfish’s click-and-send messages during the Fall 2016 semester.

“The letter was typed as though I had written it and my name was signed at the end,” Bellini said. “We went back and forth with the administration and eventually agreed on a neutral reply.” Professors are now able to customize these messages.

The program has proven itself beneficial in its mission. According to data from the fall 2017 semester, students who received kudos had a seven percent higher credit-completion rate than those who did not; they were also seven percent more likely to come out of a course with a C or higher, said Pringle.

Two new features have been added to Starfish during the 2017-2018 academic year: “My Success Network” and “Raise Your Hand.”

“My Success Network” is a directory for all the staff in the Career and Counseling Center, as well as any given student’s profile’s instructors for the current semester, and tutoring information.

“Raise Your Hand” gives students a space where they can ask questions, such as those pertaining to work-study opportunities, those with questions related to tutoring for coursework, and “I Need Help,” a category for general inquiries that pertain to any college-related matters.

“I Need Help” allows for concerns of any school-related program, ranging from the financial aid process to food products in the cafeteria, to be sent to the correct department and answered via online messaging.

“It’s been a work in progress, and we have been revamping it and hearing concerns,” Murtha said. “Even though we have had it for almost two years, these past semesters reflect the direction we are heading towards.”

Contact John Kearney at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

PTK inducts 75 students

By Jake Branyan

Special to the Communitarian

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Seventy-five Phi Theta Kappa honor society inductees wait to recieve their white roses during a ceremony on Marple campus Mar. 6. Photo courtesy of DCCC Public Relations

DCCC’s Alpha Tau Epsilon chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) inducted 75 students in the Large Auditorium at the Marple Campus on March 6.

The students, honored for continued excellence in their studies at a two-year university, each received a white rose to signify their acceptance into the society.

PTK inductees are required to maintain a 3.5 or higher grade point average.

Keynote speaker Katherine Cartagena, a native of Bolivia who did not speak English upon arriving in this country, said she is familiar with the benefits of joining PTK, such as exclusive scholarships and other opportunities.

“PTK teaches you to be part of a group, to be a leader and a team member,” Cartagena said. “Hard work and that extra help from PTK is what allowed me to continue my education.”

Cartagena told the inductees that she too was a PTK member and understands the hard work that led to their accomplishment.

Associate Professor of English Tanya Franklin welcomed the inductees and explained the benefits of joining the honor society.

“PTK not only offers scholarships, but also the opportunity to build fellowship,” Franklin said. “Members get to meet other students and contribute on campus, which not only teaches the importance of community, but also giving back.”

The event began with a presentation given by PTK chapter president Valeria Bossio-Chavez and chapter secretary Maggie Teutsch. They highlighted the history, benefits, honors, scholarships, and projects associated with PTK.

Following this, Aimee Viggiani, director of Transfer, Professional, and Graduate Admissions at the University of Sciences, gave an interactive presentation that included video testimonials from former and current PTK members.

Viggiani said she interacts with PTK members on a daily basis and believes that the society opens gateways for students to better themselves in their education and personal lives.

After the presentation, the inductees processed into the Large Auditorium to begin the ceremony. Opening remarks were delivered by both Valeria Bossio-Chavez and DCCC President Dr. L. Joy Gates-Black.

Next, Cartagena, the keynote speaker, highlighted the role that PTK played in her success as a student and professional.

“You are building an amazing future,” Cartagena assured the inductees. “Your time here matters.”

After the keynote speech, DCCC and PTK alumnus Casey Innes performed the song “Astonishing” from the Broadway musical “Little Women.”

Following the performance, the inductees were asked by Teutsch to recite the society’s oath. After the oath, students were called to the stage to receive a white rose symbolizing their induction.

Once each student was seated, Franklin addressed the crowd and welcomed each new member. Franklin recognized the inductees’ accomplishment and implored them to pursue a life of service and honor.

To close the ceremony, DCCC acting Provost Dr. Mary Jo Boyer commended the students’ hard work and asked them to have a positive impact on the world.

“I challenge you to give us a tomorrow that is better than today,” Boyer said.

After the remarks, the inductees congregated outside of the auditorium to mingle with family, friends, and fellow PTK members.

“I don’t have much more time here [at DCCC],” said Ian Duffy, a new PTK member and liberal arts major. “I plan to use my time as wisely as I can. My brother and mom were both members and held leadership positions, so I plan to follow in their footsteps.”

The inductees were invited to join their fellow PTK members at meetings on Marple campus, weather permitting, starting March 7.

Email The Communitarian at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Love conquers all

By Andrew Henry

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Mildred Loving, wife of Richard Loving. Both are the subject of “The Loving Story” documentary, which was shown on Marple campus Feb. 13 as part of Black History Month. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Delaware County Community College hosted a viewing of “The Loving Story Documentary” Feb. 13 at the Marple campus. The documentary follows the legal battle that ensued between an interracial couple and the state of Virginia.

Keely Mitchell, director of paralegal studies at DCCC, organized the screening.

“We chose this documentary because it is the 50th year anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia case,” said Mitchell, adding that it coincides with the school-wide reading book, “Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson.

Mildred Delores Jeter, an African American woman, and Richard Loving, a Caucasian man were an interracial couple from Virginia who married in Washington D.C. in 1958.

On July 14, at approximately 4 a.m., Sheriff Brooks of Caroline County, Va. entered their home, ripped them out of their bed, and arrested them. They broke a law that forbade interracial marriage in 16 southern states.

Anti-miscegenation laws are what plagued the Lovings. The law stated that interracial marriage was illegal as long as the couples lived in the states where the laws were enforced.

Although the Lovings were sentenced to one year in prison, a judge said their sentence would be waived as long as they moved from Virginia.

“Almighty God created the races… and he placed them on separate continents,” said the trial judge who presided over their case. “The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

As a result of the ruling, the lovings were forced to move to Washington D.C.

Mildred Loving was miserable in Washington D.C., and never adapted to the city life, according to her daughter Peggy. When one of the Loving children was hit by a car while playing outside, though he survived, Mildred decided to take action.

Mildred Loving wrote a letter to Robert Kennedy, the U.S. attorney general, pleading for help. Kennedy suggested she seek the help of the American Civil Liberties Union. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

On June 12, 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against anti-miscegenation laws in all 16 states, which let the Lovings return to Virginia as a legally married couple.

A discussion was supposed to take place after the showing of the documentary, but time ran out.

Thomas Raptor, a 20-year-old education major at DCCC, attended the viewing. He said he was not at all shocked that the ruling happened only 50 years ago.

“It was a good ruling,” Raptor said. “But it should have happened way sooner.”

Contact Andrew Henry at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu