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 email@example.com
The Rev. Kail C. Ellis from Villanova University gave a lecture at DCCC titled “The Shared History of Muslims and Christians in the Levant: Concept of Rights, Equality, and Citizenship” Feb. 20.
Ellis is an ordained Catholic priest and a member of the Augustinian Order as well as the founder-director of Villanova’s Center for Arab and Islamic Studies.
In his lecture, Ellis stated that the common perception of the West is that the Arab world is all Muslims.
However, this perception may have originated by the invading Crusaders, inaccurate information, and or lack of knowledge about the region. Christianity in the Middle East existed since the 4th Century, the era of St. Paul. Aramaic was the language of Jesus, his disciples, and all those who converted to Christianity.
Many monasteries and churches still thrive in many parts of the Arab world such as Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. It was a monastery in North Lebanon that introduced the first printing press in 1585.
For centuries, Jews, Christians and Muslims in the region thrived side by side, contributed, and shared in all aspect of civilization; science, medicine, literature, and music, according to Ellis.
With the advance of Islam, Christians, then and now never consider themselves as a minority because they are the original inhabitants of the region before Islam.
For centuries, they thrived and contributed to the rich diversity of the region and beyond.
As for the interpretation of the word Dhimma under Islam, it was considered a protected status for non Muslims and not as protected status for minorities. Under the Ottoman Empire, it was required that Christian and other communities have separate system of laws to rule themselves. This type of separate system resulted in division and separation among various communities, where it was seen that a dominant minority ruled over the majority, Ellis explained.
An example of this is the Sunni minority ruling over the majority Shi’a in Iraq.
As for equality, gender roles, and citizenship, the Arab world consists of 22 Arab countries that each has its own laws and system of government that affect gender roles, citizenship rights, and equality.
What applies in one country cannot be instituted in another. In Tunisia, women have equal rights to men, whereas in Lebanon, women are not allowed to give citizenship to their children if married to a foreigner.
As for the demographic decline of Christianity in the region, Ellis attributed that to many factors: wars, invasion, western foreign policies, political meddling, shifting allegiances/ alliances, and discriminatory laws, and immigration, all of which resulted in fractured and failed states. As a consequence and with the presence of ISIS, both Christian and Muslim communities suffer persecution and expulsion as witnessed in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon. Failed states are the result of political meddling, corruption, lack of opportunities, inequality, discrimination, and total disregard to human rights that resulted in loss of life and property to all, regardless of religion or gender, according to Ellis.
The irony of the current political climate in the region is that most political leaders are not necessarily or truly religious, however, they appeal to sectarianism and to extreme religious groups that fight each other and other groups in the name of religion. Therefore, all religious groups in the region are victimized.
In spite of the dwindling number due to immigration and decrease of birth rate, Christians still play vital and fundamental roles in their respective governments; Christian president in Lebanon, Christian foreign minister in Syria, even before the Iraqi invasion, Christians were represented in the government. These communities, irrespective of their numbers, are the original citizens their respective country or region.
On an optimistic note, Ellis stated that at a recent conference in Al Azhar Mosque in Egypt, all Christian and Muslim representatives at the conference called for a renewal of alliance among all Arab citizens in order to bring about harmony and healing of their communities.
Ellis concluded his lecture by emphasizing that in order to remedy the ills of wars and upheaval, there must be sound and unbiased foreign policies, strategic assessment, security, democratic governments, opportunities, and equal rights for all citizens in the region irrespective of gender and religion.
More about the Rev. Kail C. Ellis
Ellis earned his PhD from the Catholic University of America. Currently, he co-edits the Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and is the editor of three books: “Secular Nationalism and Citizenship in Muslim Countries: Arab Christians in the Levant,” 2018); “Lebanon’s Second Republic, Prospects for the Twenty-first Century,” (2002), and “The Vatican, Islam and the Middle East,” (1987). He has also presented papers, published articles and contributed book chapters related to the Middle East.
In celebration of the Lunar New Year, a traditional holiday in China, DCCC’s Multicultural and Badminton Clubs joined together to host their first fundraiser of the year on Feb. 14 to celebrate the year of the dog. The event occurred from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 2520 in Founder’s Hall and raised $287.
The celebration featured Chinese and Vietnamese dishes, Henna tattoos and handmade Valentine’s Day cards and gifts for students and faculty members to purchase while enjoying the decorations and festivities that members of the club had organized.
All the proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward the clubs’ future events and equipment needed for the Badminton Club, said Chayawan Sonchaeng, who has a master’s degree in TESO (Teaching English to Students of Other Language), teaches ESL at DCCC, and is one of the co-advisors of both the Multicultural and Badminton Clubs.
Sonchaeng explained that the fundraiser is used as a platform for the Multicultural Club members to “raise awareness about others culture so we can learn to respect one another.”
“We would like to use this as a way to educate people about other cultures so they can learn about it and embrace it,” Sonchaeng added.
The Lunar New Year is celebrated in countries with a significant population of Chinese heritage. In other countries, this holiday is called by a different name: The Vietnamese refer to it as Tet, and the Tibetans refer to it as Losar. In Japan it is referred to as Shogatsu, and the Koreans refers to it as Seollal.
The fundraiser began with five different stations, each offering different items and foods for purchase.
Students at the first station sold summer rolls, a Vietnamese dish prepared by Hang Tran, the president and founder of the Badminton Club. Tran and other members that manned the station were dressed in their Ao Dai, a traditional Vietnamese dress.
Students and faculty were able to purchase $2 for one summer roll or $3 for two. “It’s very good and tasty,” said Jiajun Huang, a first year mechanical-engineering student at the college. Huang attended the event for the first time with his friend Charles Yang, a statistics major.
The second station displayed different Henna tattoos that students and faculty could purchase for $5.
“I really like it,” said Idalis Lloyd, a second semester business student after getting a full hand henna tattoo for the first time.
The third station offered $1 spring rolls and dumplings for purchase.
The fourth station sold $1 hand-made Valentine’s Day cards, teddy bears, and heart shaped pillow.
“The decorations are beautiful,” said ESL tutor Bobbi Morris.
“It’s a great way for them to work together,” said Morris. “I think it’s absolutely terrific that I could buy a Valentine’s Day card.”
The fifth station was a selfie station where students and faculty could take $1 selfies. Heart-shaped sunglasses, colorful beaded necklaces, and heart-shaped Mickey Mouse ears were some of the available props.
“It’s very good, friendly people and it’s cheap,” said Daiki Ito, a second semester ESL student. “I can get to know different countries and cultures. I like this.”
The Multicultural Club meets every Friday in Room 1180 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Students can share information about their cultures with each other. Some of the countries that the club members have discussed include India, Madagascar, Albania, Bangladesh and Vietnamese.
“It’s very special and interesting because we are from different cultures,” said Premisa Kerthi, the president of the Multicultural Club. “We talk in English to help build our confidence because most of the students are from ESL classes.”
Contact Comfort Queh at firstname.lastname@example.org. edu
Soul Steps brought an energetic, exciting performance to the Marple Campus on Feb. 22 as part of the Black History Month celebration. The 5-person squad demonstrated the historical perspective of step performance, and how that history shapes current performances. During the show, they brought a large number of audience participants on stage to learn a combination of their own. Soul Steps was enjoyed by students, staff, faculty, and the community alike. Photo by Brieanne Rogers
When a student contacted Stephanie Sarafinas, associate professor and counselor at DCCC’s Downingtown campus, about plans for a gender-neutral bathroom in the upcoming STEM complex, Sarafinas said she acted immediately.
“The topic arose several times this past semester,” said Sarafinas. “Initially, I asked Amy Williams, the assistant dean of Retention and Completion, in September. She told me that there were plans to include a gender-neutral bathroom in the new STEM complex, but [they] are now off the table.”
Tonino DeLuca, director of Plant Operations and Construction Services at DCCC, explained that the future Downingtown STEM complex did not meet the requirements for a gender-neutral bathroom.
“Plumbing has to be in the right location for drainage purposes,” DeLuca said. “Space was the issue for the new building. The basement has mechanical and electrical rooms that cannot be removed. We had to question if a gender-neutral bathroom was viable when considering a location.”
DeLuca added that Plant Operations are unable to replace gender-specific with gender-neutral bathrooms due to the number of occupants to plumbing fixtures ratio.
Plant Operations is planning on having two gender-specific bathrooms on the first floor of the Downingtown STEM complex and are attempting to install a gender-neutral bathroom on the first floor of the main building.
Like DCCC, many colleges and universities are begining to recognize the value of installing gender neutral bathrooms becuase of the psychological benefits to transgender students.
A study at Georgia State University used the National Transgender Discrimination Survey to analyze the correlation between transgender students committing suicide and being denied access to gender-neutral bathrooms.
The article, written by Kristie L. Seelman, assistant professor at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies for the Journal of Homosexuality, writes, “Transgender university and college students are at a significantly higher risk for suicide attempts when their campus experience includes being denied access to bathrooms and gender-appropriate campus housing.”
The Trans Resources page of West Chester University’s website lists more than 50 single-occupancy bathrooms on campus, including those in administrative and residential buildings.
According to the Temple University Student Guide to LGBTQIA Life, the campus has more than 40 gender-neutral or unisex bathrooms throughout the campus.
Drexel University offers students gender-inclusive housing, an option by which students share a room and “internal/external bathrooms regardless of biological sex, gender expression, gender identity or sexual orientation,” according to the university’s website.
The DCCC Marple campus has two single-occupancy bathrooms that are referred to as gender neutral by some students and faculty members,.
“Any gender, no matter how they identify, can use that bathroom,” said Associate Director for Advising and Support Ryan Jeral when referring to the single-occupancy bathroom near the Marple campus’ Career and Counseling Center.
According to Jeral, the counselors worked with DeLuca to have an easily-accessible gender-neutral bathroom nearby.
“As counselors, we work with students on a very personal level,” Jeral said. “We know the accommodations they need and set them as priority. It is a basic human right to feel safe and comfortable when using the bathroom.”
Max Avener, a math instructor at the Marple campus, wishes that no bathrooms on campus were gender-specific.
Preferring to go by they/them pronouns, Avener is a non-binary person, meaning they do not identify as male or female. Avener commonly uses the gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, but occasionally has difficulty accessing them.
“Sometimes I’ll teach two classes [back-to-back] in the STEM building and not have time to use the gender-neutral bathrooms in the academic building,” Avener said. “I often go to use the gender-neutral bathrooms and they’re occupied. I’ll end up using the women’s restrooms.”
Avener explained that anyone can use the gender-specific bathrooms, but they would benefit from having more gender-neutral bathrooms on the Marple campus.
“The default right now is that cisgender people use the gender-specific bathrooms and transgender people have to find an alternative,” Avener said. “Having only non-binary bathrooms on campus would shift that expectation.”
Chris Dungee, a counselor at the Marple campus Career and Counseling Center, identifies as a transgender man, having transitioned nearly four years ago. He prefers to use the men’s bathroom.
“Unlike Max, I am not a proponent of free-for-all bathrooms,” Dungee said. “As a man, I’m not comfortable sharing a bathroom with someone who identifies as a woman.”
Staff members at the Marple and Downingtown campuses are currently working toward accommodating students’ needs and concerns.
Sarafinas recently contacted Marian McGorry, dean of Business, Computing & Social Science at the Marple campus, to further the process of a gender-neutral bathroom being built at the Downingtown campus.
Both McGorry and Sarafinas are chair members of the Institutional Resources Committee, one of seven standing committees forming the College Advisory System.
The topic was discussed at the committee’s meeting on Feb. 1, McGorry said.
Contact Dean Galiffa at email@example.com