Math Tools for Journalists, Chapters 1-4

By Hannah Benson

Despite the fact that a lot of people don’t realize it, journalists deal with numbers every day in the work that they do. When doing reporting work, a journalist must pay close attention to numbers, be it statistics, percentages, numerals, etc.

Chapter 1: The Language of Numbers

This chapter discusses how precise numbers are, and how, due to this, journalists need to know how to capable of understanding the different types of numbers, and how such forms of can get information across. Additionally, journalists need to know how to utilize words to explain numbers and numerical values.

If you open the front page of the newspaper, you’ll see numbers everywhere you look – statistics about a falling stock, the score of the most recent game, the weather for the upcoming week, the amount of cars involved in a crash, etc. Numbers are an essential part of communication in the modern day, and journalism would be incomplete without them. The ability to use these numbers seamlessly and professionally is the mark of a strong reporter.

As a reporter, one needs to be able to check the math of speakers, budgets and official reports. You should never assume that the person who wrote up any report or document has proficient math skills. You should “interview the numbers that same way you interview people:” which means to do so with care. Make sure you consider its form: the impact or meaning, and how easily average citizens will be able to comprehend the topic of such numbers.

A numeral is a symbol which represents a number in either Arabic or Roman forms. Arabic numbers include digits 1-9.

Roman numerals are used for formal titles, to designate historical events and for contraction dates.

One=I   Four=IV   Five=V  Six=VI  Nine=IX  Ten=X  50=L  100=C  5oo=D  1,000=M

Style Tips

  1. Be sure to spell out single digit numbers (one, five, eight).
  2. Utilize numerals for multiple digit numbers (53, 649, 1.3 billion).
  3. Round off larger numbers unless a very specific number is required.
  4. Round off numbers to one decimal point whenever possible.
  5. Spell out fractions that equate to less than one (one-quarter, two-thirds).
  6. When a number is used to assign a position or order in ranking, use words if the number is between first and ninth, but superscript if it equates to 10 or above.
  7. If a number starts a sentence, it needs to be written out in word form, unless it’s a date.
  8. If corporations use numbers in their name, follow their corporate style for writing the number they use.
  9. Numerals are always used for addresses, dates, highways, percentages, speeds, temperatures, times, weights, ages under 10 and money.
  10. You should try and limit the amount of numbers in each paragraph to no more than two or three and only one in a lead for clarity purposes.
  11. Do the math for your readers, you should not expect them to calculate a percentage increase or change over time.
  12. Interpret the results in terms that the readers can understand by using analogies, storytelling techniques or graphics.
  13. Use the word “minus” instead of a dash or hyphen, again, for clarity.
  14. Write out numbers that are used in slang expressions (“thanks a million”).
  15. In a series, use basic style rules, regardless of single or multiple digit numbers.

Language Tips

  1. Use “among” to refer to the group or collective, and “between” for specific, distinct, individual items.
  2. Use “compared to” to compare two items to each other, and “compared with” to examine two items and their statistical similarities or differences.
  3. Use “different from” instead of “different than.”
  4. Use “differ from” when two items are dissimilar and “differ with” when two items are in conflict.
  5. Use “farther” for physical distance and “further” for degree, time or quantity.
  6. Use “fewer” for items that can be counted and “less than” for mass or time terms.
  7. Avoid using the word “fold” when referring to percentages and times.
  8. “Under” is used to refer to a physical relationship, and “less than” refers to a smaller quality or relationship.
  9. “More” means great in quantity and “most” refers to the greatest in quantity. You cannot use “most” in place of “almost.”
  10. “Over” is used to refer to spatial relationships, and use “more than” for figures and amounts.
  11. Use “person” to refer to one individual and “people” for more than one individual.
  12. Use percentages with sentences that have “more” or “less” or end in “-er.”
  13. Describe temperatures as “higher” or “lower,” and not “warmer” or “colder.”
  14. The word “times” is a multiplier and should be used in place of “as much as” format. Do not write “times less,” to show a decrease you should use percentages.

Number translation: Good journalists are able to translate numerical data and language into words and phrases that the average reader can comprehend. Use analogies and amounts in your work that they can understand.

Chapter 2: Percentages

When reporters are writing a story that deals with numbers, often it would be easier and more efficient to simply explain with percentages.

Percentage increase/decrease= Math tools forof literacy.png(new figure – old figure) divided by old figure.

For percentage decrease your numerical answer will be negative.

Salary increases:

  • original x percent increase = $ increase for first year
  • original + salary increase above = salary for first year of contract
  • first year salary x percent increase = $ of salary increase for second year
  • first year salary + salary increase = salary for second year

Percentage as a whole = subgroup divided by whole group

Move the decimal point two places to the right. By calculating the percentage whole, you are able to put the amount into perspective.

Percentage points: May be one one-hundreth of something or other than one.

  • Ex: 7.4% -5.6% = 1.8 percentage point

Simple/annual interest = principal x rate (decimal) x time (years)

  • Principal: the amount of money borrowed
  • Interest: the money paid for use of money
  • Rate: the percentage charged for the use of money

The amount of interest charged depends on the length of time the borrowed money is kept. Most interest rates are calculated based on one year.

Compounding interest (A) = [P x (1 +R)^N x R] divided [(1+R)^N-1]

  • A= monthly payment
  • P= original loan amount
  • R= interest rate, as a decimal and divided by 12
  • N= total number of months

Compounding refers to the interest that is added to the original principal. Loans are compounded more than once a year, such as monthly.

Consumers often make monthly payments on loans, such as home mortgages and car loans.

Interest on savings (B) = P (1+ [ divided by T])^T

  • B= balance after one year
  • P= principal
  • R= interest rate
  • T= number of times per year the interest is compounded

Savings accounts and certificates of deposit generally pay compound interest.

Chapter 3: Statistics

Statistics are often found in crime rates, average costs, student test scores, among others. Journalists are often asked to evaluate surveys and studies, to report accurately on how the numbers are calculated. Journalists need to be aware of potential manipulations of statistics and be able to report on them as a way to seek the truth for the readers.

  • Mean: sum of all figures in a group and divided by total number of figures (average)
  • Median: midpoint in the group of numbers (or add middle two and divide in half)
  • Mode: number that appears most frequently

Percentile: number that represents the percentage of scores that fall at or below designated score. This score is based on its relationship to all the other scores.

  • Percentile rank= number of people at or below score divided by amount of test takers
  • Number of people at or below score= percentile x amount of test takers

Standard deviation: it indicates how much a group of figures varied from the norm. If it is small, it tends to cluster around the mean; this will yield an valid experiment while a high standard deviation will end in inconsistent results.

Such statistical data is often viewed in the form of a bell curve, where the middle represents the mean; the steeper the curve, the smaller the standard deviation is. Standard deviation is measured in terms of the original values (points, dollars, et cetera).

  1. Subtract the mean from each score in the distribution
  2. Square the resting number for each score
  3. Compute the mean for these numbers calculated (variance)
  4. Find the square root of the variance

Probability: examples are lottery, traffic accidents and fatal illnesses

Deaths per 100,000 people = (total deaths divided by total population) x 100,000

The language of risk

  • Have the findings ever been published in peer-review journal?
  • Have researchers established a track record or a reputable organization?
  • What are the researcher’s affiliations?
  • What do other professionals think of the methods?
  • Are the findings preliminary or inconclusive?
  • Do these findings differ from previous studies?
  • Do the findings appear to contradict with mainstream scientific opinion?
  • Are there small or unrepresentative samples?
  • Do conclusions generalize humans from animal studies?
  • Have you only found a statistical correlation?
  • Has risk been expressed in absolute and relative terms?
  • Can risk be compared to anything else?
  • Will the report cause undue anxiety or optimism among readers?
  • Are important caveats included prominently?
  • What do specialist journalists think?
  • Is the headline a fair reflection?
  • What do other professionals in the field think of the research done?

Lottery=pure chance

Coin toss: odds of a series of events= odds of first event x odds of second x odds of third…

  • O: odds
  • N: number of events
  • O^N: odds of a series when each is the same

Chapter 4: Federal Statistics

This chapter looks at unemployment rate, inflation and the Consumer Price Index, gross domestic product and international trade balance, being utilized to make sense of crucial government documents and research.

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Bureau of Economic Analysis

Labor force: everyone over the age of 16 who has a job or has looked for one in the past month, except those unemployed who haven’t sought work or those institutionalized.

Unemployment rate = (unemployed divided by labor force) x 100

Unemployment: Rate defined as the percentage of the labor force of those unemployed and actively seeking work.

 

Monthly Inflation Rate=(Current CPI-Prior Month CPI)divided by Prior Month CPI x 100

Inflation: measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), shows the amount of inflation in any given month for eight major product groups, such as food and beverages, housing, apparel, transportation and recreation. The CPI notes the prices of items that have been precisely defined from an earlier visit.

Index number: CPI can be reported as an index number, any number greater than 100.

Annual inflation rate (A) = (B-C) divide by C x 100

  • A: Annual Inflation Rate
  • B: Current month CPI
  • C: CPI from same month in the previous year

What is “adjusting for inflation?”

  • This refers to a historical figure that was changed to reflect how large the amount would be in current dollars.

A (adjust for inflation) = (B divided by BC) x AC

  • A: Target year value, in $
  • B: Starting year value, in $
  • AC: Target year CPI
  • BC: Starting year CPI

C (future costs with same annual rate) = K (1 + [I divided by 12])^12

  • C: Cost after one year
  • K: Original cost
  • I: Inflation rate

Gross Domestic Product: The GDP is the value of goods and services produced by a nation’s economy. It is reported quarterly and the rate of GDP growth is reported annually.

GDP = C + I+ G + NX

  • C: consumer spending on goods and services
  • I: investment spending
  • G: government spending
  • NX: net exports (exports – imports)

Trade balance = exports -imports

Trade balance: The difference between the goods and services a country exports to foreign countries and those it imports. For the U.S., this number as long been negative, as Americans are importing more goods than they are exporting. Categories include capital goods not including autos, services which included travel and private services, industrial supplies, autos and auto parts, consumer goods, food and beverages and an other category.

 

Reporting on the Classics: America’s Best Newspaper Writing

By Hannah Benson

Learning from the past can improve the present and set us on the path to the future. Journalism is no exception to this rule. There is no better way to improve writing then to read great writing from past journalists. ABNW gives ten of the very best writing from years past.

“Prisoners With Midnight in Their Hearts” by Harold Littledale; New York Evening imgres.jpgPost, January 12, 1917

Littledale takes advantage of adjectives and descriptors and really fleshes out a story with detail. He appeals to the emotion of the reader or viewer to draw them in and give them a sense of why the story is important. He then states the facts, but in way that the reader has them imprinted into their brain. Littledale’s use of repetition gives the facts in an influencing, objective way that doesn’t bore the reader or make them crave for a more flowery story.

“Mary White” by William Allen White; The Emporia (Kan.) Gazette, May 17, 1921

william-white.jpg
William White.

White writes about his very own daughter’s death and funeral, the day after the ceremony. There might be nothing more personal and heartbreaking than a parent trying to overcome a child’s death, especially one who reported on it. White’s article brings forth images of a father hunched over, writing down all of the beautiful things that his daughter brought to the world when she was alive. He talks about her death, instead of avoiding it, and he tells the story of her soul as she was, instead of embellishing. The article is truly touching and one of a time.

“Iowa Village Waits All Night for Glimpse at Fleeting Train” by Lorena Hickok; Minneapolis Tribune, August 7, 1923

Hickok does an incredible job of connecting local with national perspective. In a town of less than 80, lorena-hickok.jpgthe momentary passing of a train is such an event that almost every residence restlessly waits until the early hours of the morning to watch the train as it passes by. Hickok gives a stellar view of the hardships past and struggles to come with personal quotes from the townspeople. It’s really one of a kind.

“Joe Louis Uncovers Dynamite” by Richard Wright; New Masses, October 8, 1935

Wright gives great visuals with descriptive language after the defeat of Baer. The title explains it perfectly with Joe Louis starting an explosion through the crowd. Wright captured the addictive emotions and weaves them in to a great story.

“Mr. Welles and Mass Delusion” by Dorothy Thompson; New York Herald Tribune, November 2, 1938

A great article on a great piece of writing, Thompson writes her editorial concisely. She points out her main topics and arguments, yet still manages to make the piece have her voice and be compelling.

“The Death of Captain Henry Waskow” by Ernie Pyle; Scripps Howard Newspaper Alliance, January 10, 1944

Visualize language, attention to detail and personal narratives all make Pyle’s article about World War II soldiers and their struggle to survive in the harsh reality of war, death, blood and loss.

“From ‘The Bronx Slave Market’” by Marvel Cooke; The Daily Compass, 1950

Cooke’s work in undercover reporting is one of the pinnacle pieces of investigative work with depth and meaning. Cooke shows the truth of women who accept jobs less than minimum wage just to have money in desperate times. They put up with horrible employers just to support themselves and their family.

“Miracle of Coogan’s Bluff” by Red Smith; New York Herald Tribune, October 4, 1951

TOP 10 TIPS (1)In a wonderful narrative story, Smith tells the defeat of the Dodgers. However, he didn’t just talk about the game, but also the people. His focus on people’s stories shows the true interest of the story. The passion of the fans really shines through.

“About New York” by Meyer Berger; The New York Times, January 23, 1959

Details come in handy for Berger. For his subject, a blind musician, detail is essential to living life. Berger gets to know his man’s life and story and really brings the article to the reader’s heart.

“A Flower for the Graves” by Gene Patterson; The Atlanta Constitution, September 16, 1963

Patterson goes against the majority and takes a stance, at a heated time, against racism. Patterson calls for readers to not allow injustices and hate crimes to be committed. To persuade the reader, Patterson includes personal stories to compel the reader further.

Other Examples of Classic Reporting:

Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” by Gay Talese; Esquire, April 1966

In a beautiful and clever piece of writing, Talese gives a great view of the infamous Sinatra. Talking with Sinatra’s friends and family, Talese gives readers a feature story that is truly one of a kind.

“Hiroshima” by John Hersey; New Yorker, November 1946

In my opinion, this is one of the most compelling pieces of writing ever written. Hersey tells the stories of six survivors of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima during World War Two. In an incredibly moving series of stories, the reader isn’t just given the statistics of the bombings, but the harsh and graphic reality of the initial blasts and following, decades worth of irreparable damage.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’76″ by Hunter S. Thompson; June 3, 1976

Thompson travels during the 1976 campaign fuel an incredibly compelling story about what goes on behind the scenes, and in between public appearances. A great adventure article with an engaging narrative makes Thompson’s article one for the books, or the magazines.

Annual Stroll-Off pits Students Against each other in a Celebration of Culture

By Hannah Benson

Elon University was host to the school’s fifth annual “Set It Off” Stroll-Off this past

IMG_0660.JPG
The sisters of Chi Upsilon sigma dancing.

Saturday, bringing together the greek communities and dedicating a few hours to the culture of the NPHC fraternities.

The event was hosted by the Sigma Delta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, which is known for its dance moves and public presence.

The event brought together many PHA sororities who had been practicing for a few months under the vise of Alpha Phi Alpha member Alonzo Cee to fine tune their moves for the big event. These PHA sororities included Alpha Omicron Pi, Kappa Delta, Sigma Kappa, Alpha Xi Delta and Zeta Tau Alpha. The NPHC organizations that were featured in the performance were as follows; Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Omega Psi Phi and Chi Upsilon Sigma. The event began at 5 pm and lasted until about 7, with an after party following at Elon’s College Street Taphouse.

The event was hosted by Elon junior William Henderson, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity with a flair for public speaking. The event was sponsored by a number of local restaurants and businesses, from Elon’s The Root to Burlington Greek staple Mykonos’ Grill. Henderson employed playful banter about the sponsors to give them the recognition they deserved.

IMG_0658.JPG
The sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha strutting their stuff.

Each organization took the stage in the order they were announced, most appearing in matching outfits and dancing before screaming crowds of their fellow members. For instance, Elon’s Kappa Delta dancers were featured in large shirts sporting the close-up faces of dogs and hooded sweatshirts. The dancers from Zeta Tau Alpha sported the same sorority tank top, and the dancers from Alpha Omicron Pi wore customized shirts, printed with Alonzo Cee’s face on them, front and center. Additionally, the sisters of Sigma Kappa took to the stage in silk robes with shirts sporting the separate letters of their sorority on them, which joined together when they stood in a line and removed their robes.

After a couple of hours of dancing, it became time for the winners to be announced. Henderson took his time before announcing the winners of the PHA category. The crowd held its breath until he announced the runner up – Sigma Kappa and the winners – Alpha Xi Delta. The crowd roared for them.

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 8.36.46 AM.png
The sisters of Alpha Xi Delta celebrating their win.

After this, Henderson announced the winners of the girls’ and boys’ NPHC categories. Girls – Chi Upsilon Sigma, and Boys – Alpha Phi Alpha.

The winners, additionally, received a $500 donation from Alpha Phi Alpha at Elon to their sorority’s philanthropy. That was an added bonus the winners hadn’t heard about prior.

The winners of the stroll off are lined up to perform at the University of North Carolina in the upcoming weeks against other winning groups from the area.

Elon Grad pays visit to class to discuss his Career in Reporting

IMG_0151.JPG.jpegBy Hannah Benson

Al Drago, 2015 graduate of Elon University, who is now working as a contract press photographer for the New York Times, where he covers the White House, Congress and national politics visited Professor Anderson’s Reporting for the Public Good Class this Friday morning, March 31.

Al Drago entered the classroom in a non-intimidating, friendly presence who started by asking us how it was taking Professor Anderson’s class, making jokes about how his experience in the class had forced him to regularly check his email. He had the friendly vibe of someone’s older brother, but, after hearing countless brags on his behalf, the class knew to expect more.

Drago began with a slideshow of some of his early to later works, starting with a silly photo of him holding a camera in 2005, saying that this was the earliest he had picked one up.

“I consider myself really lucky in the journalism world because I knew at that age what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and I mean – who knows that?” he asks the class.

He speaks about how he was shooting for his high school newspaper around age 16, and it was the first time he had heard of this magical thing known as “photojournalism, where you got to take pictures of events and not have to write anything down, and I was like sweet!”

Drago speaks about how, by the time he got to college, he had already been recognized as the photographer he was, how he got to college and was asked to cover convocation as part of his class.

“I just jumped in head first and embraced it,” he says, speaking about his photojournalism experience.

IMG_0170.JPG
Drago shows the room a photo of him on the runway with Airforce 1, “dancing and waving” his arms.

Drago began early as far as it comes to extracurriculars, starting photography work with the Pendulum his first semester. “I knew that experience and internships were key,” he attests.

He speaks about his experience, how after his sophomore he worked at the newspaper in Raleigh, and then came back and “switched allegiances–this was when ELN and the Pendulum hated each other.” He began photographing for Elon Local News.

“Then I did something crazy,” he says, “and studied abroad fall of my senior year in Morocco. I came back super hungry and ready to work.”

“I’m one of those 10-15 people who follow the president everywhere, always floating around at his feet,” he says.

Drago then segways into speaking about some of the work he did back at Elon, and how it prepared him for work in the real world.

He pulled up a photo that he claims he took for Reporting for the Public Good, and how he got a call about a triple murder in Chapel Hill one night in October. He told them he would be there in 15 minutes and took off at top speed to cover the event. “There were three Muslim-Americans who had been murdered by their neighbor, and we didn’t know any information about it, and I took photos and got home around 3 or 4 in the morning.”

“I woke up to my phone blowing up, I had hundreds of tweets and messages from newspapers asking if they could pay to publish my content.”

“I was making eggs in my house, and I got a facetime call from an unknown number, I was surprised to find out it was editors from BBC, who wanted to published my story,” he says.

He then speaks about, how, after consulting an editor of the paper he had worked at over the summer, he sold his content to people, and soon after, saw his photo in the New York Times.

IMG_0158
Drago speaks about this photo of him with Hillary Clinton in the background.

“I was so excited and jittery, I couldn’t sleep,” he says.

Additionally, he covered the Baltimore riots, and he spoke about his work there. “Working as a team and having someone to have my back during the scary stuff was really crucial.”

How to get the job you want? He said he started by cold-emailing editors of newspapers, asking for advice and sending them work that he had done. He said that these editors began to notice that his work was improving, and they encouraged him to keep up the good work.

He spoke about how he got critiques from these people who said that he needed to “get a larger variety, because I had pictures of only college kids, and that wasn’t what the real world looked like.”

He spoke about a time when he had an unpaid internship from the Raleigh News and Observer, which began at 2pm, then worked until 10pm, and he worked “nonstop, I never stopped working. I literally utilized the most basic tools, like I even youtube searched ‘how to take photos with a blurry background’ and learned from those,” he said.

“I dedicated everything I did to advancing myself professionally, I think that you can advance yourself professionally more than you can in the ten, fifteen years following my graduation and end of college,” Drago says.

“Work hard now, play later,” Drago tells the class.

He attests that keeping grades up during college was a challenge and how, “On day one, I talked to my professors and told them that the work I was doing outside of the classroom was super important to me, but that class might come second to something that I’m working on, I wanted to be up front with these people.”

He then spoke about how he planned his senior spring to have all morning classes, so that he could work the afternoon shift at the Raleigh newspaper and get that experience he wanted so badly.

IMG_0164
Drago stands next to a photo of him as a sophomore, when he photographed commencement.

Drago pulls up a list of his Top Eight Tips for journalists, explaining how, “everything you learn in Com 100 and Media Writing will be the basis of what you do in the real world, the stuff you learn here at Elon is crucial,” he tells the room.

When he speaks about the jobs he was looking for, he talks about how important it is to network, “you gotta talk to the people you sit next to on planes, you need to get outside of your bubble and be friendly to people, that’s how you get people to like you and that’s how you learn the community and make friends.” He dances around the room a little, demonstrating how to be friendly and fun.

“I think my brand is that I’m young and like to dance and bike a lot, and run around the country with the president, and I own it, I mean I love it, and it’s what I embrace,” he tells the classroom.

“You gotta roll with the things that come up,” he explains, “like now Facebook is copying Snapchat and doing stories, and some people might grumble about it, but that’s fine, we’re gonna roll with it!”

“Don’t sell yourself short,” says Drago, “if you want to be on top, you need to start on top, which is something Janna taught me in her office. If you want to get something, don’t back down.”

“Wherever you want to intern or work someday, reach out right now,” he says, “I think there’s a pretty high chance that the reason I work for the Times right now is because they were annoyed with how often I emailed them, and I’m pretty proud of that.”

“I arguably have more fun at work than I do outside of work,” Drago says, “and that’s crucial, you need to have fun with what you do.”

He speaks about social media in the nature of what he does, and how Snapchat and Instagram are built to cater to news creation and the spreading of content.

“A buzztip I have is to embrace the platform of whatever you’re using,” he says, “don’t shoot a Snapchat story sideways, with a horizontal frame, because that’s not how people are viewing your work. Adapt to things.”

“At the end of the day, you’re expected to tell a story,” Drago says. “That’s what we as journalists have to do to give back to our community. We just gotta tell a story, and if the New York Times picks it up, I mean, all the better.”

LIVE BLOG: Daniel Gilbert, convocation speaker

016a827cc0757092a0439ab2a63feca8655b6c29_1600x1200Daniel Gilbert, popular author, Harvard professor and giver of one of the 15 most popular TED talks of all time, is speaking at spring convocation at Elon University today in Alumni Gym. Stay tuned right here for updates on his speech.

3:33 pm – Students walk in during the Processional.

3:36 pm – Associate Chaplain for Protestant Life, Joel Harter, encourages students, “To consider the lillies of the field and the fruit of our lives, we invite you to renew our hope in new life and new beginnings…”

3:38 pm – President Leo Lambert explains how, “education and higher education has long been viewed as a gateway to opportunity in our country…higher education matters, in terms of jobs, overall wellbeing and joy in your life. Research has consistently shown that college graduates earn higher wages, are more invested in their communities…Higher Education helps us create a more engaged and democratic society.”IMG_0140.JPG.jpeg

3:42 pm – President Leo Lambert asks each of us to “dive into  our national dialogue about education. I ask you to be vocal champions of higher education…I ask you to be advocates for the liberal arts and sciences, to be the voice in your community, to help others understand the value that education has…I believe we place our country in peril if we allow our country to backslide…I thank each of you for making Elon…this country a better place.”

3:45 pm – India Johnson, Associate Professor of Psychology takes the stage to introduce the speaker.

3:46 pm – Johnson speaks about how Gilbert’s career “has been marked by success and certainly is worthy of having many fans.” She speaks about how his work influenced her to seek a career in psychology. She spoke about how Gilbert’s nontraditional beginnings as a high school dropout gave her the confidence she needed to find her way in the field.

3:48 pm – Gilbert jokes about how, after that introduction, he wants us all to go “out for drinks, it was the nicest introduction,” he’d ever had. He tells us that he comes to us today to answer the world’s biggest question: “What’s the secret to happiness?”

3:49 pm- He tells us that “what is the secret to happiness?” is actually one of the world’s newest questions. He says “happiness is what you would experience if you got to have everything you needed and wanted, this was the theory that our ancestors had,” and how this is the theory

IMG_0135
A captivated audience listens to Gilbert speak.

that our ancestors had. He says this has never been possible.

3:51 pm – “In these places where the lights are on in the world, these are the places where everyone has everything they want, but still, they’re not happy.” He speaks in reference to the most populated and industrial parts of the world.

3:53 pm – Gilbert speaks about the ads that his mother and him saw when he was young, ads that pushed parents to “Start cola earlier” or “smoke today, no cigarette hangover tomorrow” – which were empty promises of happiness, as there was no basis in science. He then asks if we can use the tools of science to find out what really controls happiness.

3:55 pm – “To do science, you really only need to be able to do one thing – to measure things. “If you can’t measure things, you can’t do science, you need to write poems about it, or something..”

3:56 pm – “Most happiness research uses a technology called ‘APQ’, or known as ‘Asking People Questions.'” When you ask people questions, you can begin to “do science.” He makes a joke that when people challenge him by saying you can’t ‘do science’ based off of questions, they should throw out their glasses, because the way they got a prescription was by answering the questions of the optometrist.

3:59 pm – Gilbert speaks about the things that his mother used to tell him about how to be happy – find a nice girl, settle down, make money and have kids. He says he found out that basically all mothers, all over the world, tell their children that this is how to find happiness and enjoyment in the world. He says he can now tell us the real science behind this happiness.

4:00 pm – Gilbert poses a question to the room – “Raise your hand if marriage causes happiness.” He makes fun of the responses, saying none of the young people rose their hands. He shows some data about how, on average, married people are happier than single people, time after time.

4:04 pm – “Does marriage cause happiness, or does happiness cause marriage,” asks Gilbert. He says this is a seriously arguable question, and that “happy people do better on the marriage market, we know that.” He shows that people tend to be happier after they’re married than they were before.

4:07 pm – Gilbert shows us a graph about how happy people are when they’re divorced as well. He says that happiness comes from, “a marriage that’s good.” He then speaks about how women do better when a spouse dies so, “if your husband says he’s leaving you, kill them”

4:09 pm – Gilbert speaks about the correlation between money and happiness. “If you think money can’t buy happiness, ask someone who lives in a box! Although money can’t buy happiness, the correlation between them,” is a bit more complicated. The real happiness level for money is $65,000 – “this is what Bill Gates leaves in a tip, but when you earn this, you have 95% of the happiness that you can have.”
4:12 pm – Gilbert says that people are

IMG_0137.JPG.jpeg
A student watches from the distinguished section for those on the President’s List.

just as happy when they’re resting as they are when they’re at work – not happy. His research proves that people are happiest when listening to music or exercising.

4:13 pm – Gilbert says we can be happier when we spend, “more money on experiences and less on stuff,” he speaks to this in an analogy between if we are asked if we would rather have a vacation in Paris or a new car. “Human beings get great amounts of happiness from their human relationships.” Comparing one person’s stuff to another person’s stuff creates jealousy. No one is jealous of someone else’s experience, or trying to compare theirs to claim that they had better.

4:16 pm – Gilbert says “that research shows that when people spend money on others, they themselves get a happiness boost.” If you ask people who bought things for other people how happy they are, they’re happier than people who didn’t.

4:17 pm – Parents are happy but, “people with children are less happy than people without children.” He shows us a graph that shows that parents are less happy after the birth of their child. There is a big spike in happiness right before a baby is born, but then a large drop in happiness.

4:21 pm – Gilbert says that “when you have a baby, life doesn’t go on,” showing us a graph that says there’s a larger spike in unhappiness after the birth of a child than after the death of a spouse. “My perception as a person who has a child is that ‘these data are crazy, they’re obviously wrong.’ I wanna suggest to you that the way it looks when we are living it than how it looks from a scientist’s point of view are different. “Why does this seem to backwards, he asks.”

4:24 pm – He says this might alarm us, but we aren’t (none of the people in this room) the average person in the world. He says that the world average of happiness is lowered for women much more than it is for men. “It’s their happiness that’s taking a hit, not the men’s.” Children seem to “bring happiness to older, married men, and take happiness from younger, single women…Children are a source of stress, and so, they are hardest on people who have the fewest resources for stress.”

4:26 pm – Gilbert questions if his mother was wrong. Rather, he says she wasn’t wrong, but right with conditions. He says “I came here trying to talk to you about happiness, because..it’s our project…but we look to the wrong places about where it can be found.”

4:28 pm – “The more we learn about the true causes of happiness, the more we can get for us and those in our communities.” Gilbert thanks us for our time, and takes a seat.

4:30 pm – President Leo Lambert takes the podium, and invites all the students on the Dean’s and President’s list to stand and take our congratulations. They were applauded. He does the same with the students recently inducted to Phi Beta Kappa.

Anxiety on the Rise for College Students

By Hannah Benson

“When first meeting someone, I’ve never said, ‘Hi, I’m Kelly and I’m bipolar, have panic arising anxiety in college students.pngttacks, and have slight OCD,'” states Kelly August, Elon University senior and advocate for mental illness and anxiety awareness.

“No one does that because we associate that level of vulnerability with weakness,” says August.

No one does that because it’s not the norm, it’s not acceptable and it’s not something that people know how to grapple with or can easily fix. It’s the topic of college student anxiety, and it’s not getting talked about enough.

From the first time you ever heard it mentioned by your parents in the recollection of some epic saga, you probably also took note of how challenging they said college was. You heard stories of late nights in the library, sleeping through classes and missing exams, but that was about the end of it. There was never any mention of nationally increasing levels of anxiety that had been bookmarked at higher than ever before. But, likely, this wasn’t an issue then.

High levels of anxiety on college campuses are evident in the alarmingly rising numbers of students seeking counseling and getting prescriptions for medicines to address stress and anxiety…But what is really going on here?

The numbers

A study done at Boston University just this past year reported that Medical Clinicians at the university stated that the number of students who came in for help had sharply increased from 647 in the 2014-2015 academic year to 906 in the 2015-2016 academic year. 

These numbers display trends similar to those released in a story about a Penn State study in 2014 that made national headlines, one whose results showed that anxiety had surpassed depression in college students as the leading mental health issue for college students. Over half of 100,000 students studied by Penn’s Center for Collegiate Mental Health reported that anxiety was one of their concerns. Additionally, the American College Health Association reported that one in six college students had been diagnosed with anxiety.

“This isn’t surprising” August says. “The amounts of pressure inflicted upon college students have also consistently increased as well. We live in a culture of competition dominated by a myriad of influences: GPA, organizational involvement, body image, honor societies, graduate school acceptances, job offers, etc. If we perceive that someone else is succeeding, we then compare ourselves, and fall under the weight of inadequacy because we never think we’re enough. This of course catalyzes feelings of anxiety, depression, and insecurity.”

The same survey by the ACHA found that a little over 20 percent of students said that anxiety had affected their academic performance within the last year, which was defined as getting a lower grade on an exam or important project, receiving an incomplete, or dropping a course.

Top Five concerns.png
The infographic is based off of the AUCCCD results from 2016.

That number has increased from 18.2 percent in the ACHA’s survey in 2008. Meanwhile, 13.8 percent reported that in the last year, depression had affected their academic performance, up from 11.2 percent in 2008. Another significant collection of evidence is found in survey data from studies like the 2004 Mental Health Task Force on Graduate Student Mental Health at the University of California Berkeley. This study surveyed its graduate students and revealed that 45% of them had experienced an emotional or stress-related problem in the previous 12 months that significantly had an affect on their well-being or performance. On another hand, the American Freshman annual survey from 2012 found that 30% of first-year college students report feeling frequently overwhelmed, with the number of women reporting this to be at its highest point, 40.5%, since the ques­tion was first asked for survey in 1985, at which time the levels were less than half of the current totals. Lastly, the AUCCCD 2016 survey reported that anxiety was the first of the top five concerns for college students, and that, on average, 65% of the students who sought help were female. .The annual survey gathered information from 529 counseling directors at universities serving over 6 million students.

These findings don’t come as a shock to BU’s mental health clinicians, who were knee-deep in similar findings themselves as evidence suggests that college students, as a group, have greater levels of stress and psychopathology than any time in the nation’s history.

Elon Student Student Counseling Services is the facility designated for all students at the university, ranging from those who are suffering from anxiety to those who simply want someone to talk to about their concerns. Time with a counselor at the university is free, and the sessions, as well as the subject matter discussed in each of these, are completely confidential. Students can get as many appointments with this facility as they desire.

Professional Input

Jennifer Brigman, a counselor at the school, when asked about student anxiety and THE ANXIETY (1).pngmental health on college campuses, had this to say. “Here at Elon, our number of students who report anxiety as a concern is actually higher than the national college average, we’re in the 60 to 70th percentile as far as students who come in presenting anxiety in some form or another.”

“Keep in mind that anxiety has many faces,” says Brigman, “so sometimes they [students] come in presenting anxiety in the form of an eating disorder or OCD, or something along those lines. Anxiety, at the end of the day is a fear responseso, thinking about something that may happen in the future that is frightening for someone. The brain responds to that as if it’s real right now.”

“[People with anxiety] basically cause a fear response with a thought, and that happens when thinking about the past and the future, and, unfortunately, that’s where most of our brain activity is. Thinking about things that have happened or are going to as if they’re real, and how our brain responds to those is the experience that people are having when they have anxiety,” Brigman states.

Brigman spoke further about what might just be behind the whole anxiety scene in the first place, and her remarks are really eye-opening.

“Your generation was nurtured by technology, I mean, I bet college kids now don’t even remember a world before Facebook,” Brigman states. “My generation grew up centered around face-to-face communication and now, millennials

40882ED7-B863-4A23-8FF0-AEEB28E67A09
Jennifer Brigman, a counselor at Elon.

are hooked on a lifestyle that happens behind a screen, and this shift in culture is having influences on coping  skills because all of your interactions are in little blue bubbles on your phone screen.”

“When I was in high school and college, Brigman explains, “Instagram, Facebook and Snapchatthese things didn’t exist, and so every interaction was face to face. So it’s huge in how our culture is shifting rapidly, and it’s having negative effects on our coping skills. That’s the problem, because pretty soon kids get to college and a lot of interaction is forced to be face to face, and you throw hormones and classes and hierarchies in sororities and the stress of being in a new place and kids start to develop anxiety.”

Student Input

Dealing with anxiety from the professional side is the kind of subject matter that is Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 9.40.28 AMtaught in the Human Service Studies program here at Elon University, and junior Sydney Epstein, an HSS major, speaks to the problem as a student in the curriculum.

“I think that the stigma of going to see a therapist is slowly but surely changing as mental health issues become more revealed and discussed in society,” says Epstein.


“People these days tend to actually talk about seeing therapists, which gives the ok for others. I think that in order for the stigma to go away, media needs to stop treating therapists as ‘crazy people treaters’. If people were actually educated as to how important the therapeutic process is, there wouldn’t be any form of stigma, Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 1.04.57 PM.pngbecause people don’t realize how much it can help. There is definitely still a stigma but it’s less than it ever has been and hopefully on its way out altogether.”

Epstein and Brigman both agree on the issue that help, while available and plentiful, is often not sought by those who need it the most. There is a lapse here in the anxiety issue for college students. Brigman does assure, however, that there are some patients who have no issue with any kind of stigma, and who seek treatment regardless of how they feel others view it.

Annelyse Iglesias, a senior at Elon in the Human Services Studies program is quick to speak to the issue of stigmas surrounding counseling.

“The negative stigmas surrounding mental health and accessing mental health care, especially on college campuses,” says Iglesias, “have been brought to my attention throughout my time at Elon. Most, if not all, college students will feel stressed at one time or another, however, when those feelings are significantly impacting their daily lives, it’s important and encouraged that these people seek help.”

Iglesias shares a personal tie to the topic of anxiety in the first place, as she found herself having to overcome the hurdle of going to counseling herself to seek help for her anxiety.

“As a student in the fields of Human Services and Psychology, but also as a student dealing with anxiety, my education and personal experience with anxiety have shifted my mindset and the stigmas that even I myself had about seeking help,” she says. “The best advice I have is to find friends who support and encourage you to be your best self. I spent a lot of time thinking that I should deal with my anxiety on my own, but after taking the steps to seek help and open up to friends, I realized that there’s no way I would have gotten where I am today.”

Brigman hopes that Elon students know that there is no limit on the amount of time that students can sit down with a counselor in the health center. She is afraid that the fear that they will run out of time will push these students to seek treatment elsewhere, or keep them from coming in altogether. However, she does want to spread the word that counseling services is vibrantly understaffed, and that she feels they could double the staff to better serve the Elon community.

After hearing statistics, results, testimonies and advice, it’s time to consider how higher institutions in America are dealing with the rising concern. So, we ask ourselves, how are schools grappling with the issue?

The Solution

The basic fact is this: the most direct way to tackle the root of student anxiety is to have each student sit down for therapeutic sessions to talk through their concerns with a counselor and develop a plan for moving forward. But, as has been evident through testimonies thus far, many students are resistant to seeking counseling, aren’t educated about how to do so, and often, counseling centers are lacking the numbers to tackle the amount of students needing help.

And, in reality, we understand that this isn’t as easy as it sounds.

But still, the effort to challenge this issue is there. Hundreds of universities around America have taken initiative and hosted stress-relieving events around finals, midterms or busy times of the semester.

For instance, Colgate University in New York promotes a holistic “stress-free zone” for students during finals where they can enjoy a calming atmosphere featuring Mediterranean cuisine, massages and yoga. Additionally, staff have been known to hand out fortune cookie-shaped stress balls. Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota holds something known as “dog days,” wherein the university

intl-fp@2x.jpg
Columbia University, host to the primal scream.

encourages faculty to bring their dogs to campus so stress-ridden students can unwind by playing with them. Colorado College in Colorado Springs hosts a contra dance party to help students relax. Bentley University of Massachusetts holds a “Breakfast at Midnight” event during midterms. The George Washington University hosts a “Comedy De-Stress Showcase” which is free to students and breaks up studying with some laughs. And, last but not least, Columbia University in New York has a tradition called the “Primal Scream,” where students join together and scream for a full minute at midnight the Sunday night before finals begin. Similar screaming traditions can be found at other schools like Cornell, UCLA, Harvard, Princeton and others, yet none match the long-standing reputation of Columbia’s.

Lauren Misage, a student at Cornell, attests that, “the pre-finals scream is one of my favorite traditions at Cornell – people are so angry and overwhelmed that it seems like they were going to go outside and scream in the first place, and one person just decided that we might as well do it together. It’s a big stress reliever.”

Even Elon University is known to put on events which soothe anxiety and provide a distraction during some particularly stressful times. These include things such as Cram Jam, a fun-filled event wherein the university’s Inter Residence Council brings in arcade games, acapella groups, candy buffets, free massages and breakfast food at night. Sometimes, if students are lucky, they can have breakfast served by President Lambert himself.

Elon sophomore and VP of Programming Alejandro Ramos had this to say when asked about the event, “When finals come around, many students become so caught up in thinking about their exams that they forget to think about themselves. IRC hosts events such as Cram Jam in order to give students a break from all their studying in order to relieve some of the stress that’s weighing on their minds.”

Other events that the university hosts to relieve temporary stress are occasional dog mixers where faculty and staff bring their dogs to campus to play with stressed students. All of these events, while fun, are temporary and really do little to solve anxiety, but merely delay it for a few hours.

With this being said, it is clear that colleges are aware of the anxiety issue and do take strides to provide students with stress relief, but these events rarely prevent anxiety in the long run.

So, what can be done, people are asking. The real answer is this: we cannot cure anxiety with the wave of a wand or a dosage of medicine, but we can encourage people to look positively upon therapy, and to raise awareness about its spread across campuses. The

16999032_10208842506240238_685229721069744911_n
The graphic August made to spread awareness for her event.

more people that know, the more likely they are to tell their friends who may in turn tell their friends, and at the end of the day, the more likely they are to care.

This is where Kelly August comes in. For her Common Good Project, as a capstone assignment with Elon’s Leadership Fellows program, she organized a walk to raise awareness for mental illness, wherein students signed up to come out and show support and get the conversation started by wearing wristbands of a certain color and marching in unison around the university campus.

“I decided to create a walk to raise awareness for mental illnesses on Elon’s campus because I hated how invisible the community of support and solidarity was,” she says.

“I’ve learned over the last 6 years that vulnerability really highlights my authenticity,” August explains. “I knew I needed to devote myself to Steps Together because everyone is affected either directly or indirectly by mental illnesses. All I wanted to accomplish was to get people talking. Ultimately, I didn’t care about how many people showed up. I just wanted to plant the seed for conversation to begin blooming on this campus.”

August was a guest on ELN morning to speak about her campaign. Her interview can be watched below.

Other students are seen campaigning to raise awaren

IMG_0756.JPG.jpeg
Kathleen Shepherd, an Elon sophomore.

ess and get the conversation started on campus as well, because they understand that this is the first step in chipping away at an issue far larger than themselves. For instance, Kathleen Shepherd, Elon sophomore, spearheaded a video campaign for her Working with Groups and Families class in the Human Service Studies curriculum wherein her group members asked students to write on a whiteboard what they could do to be aware of anxiety and mental illness. The students who participated were told to answer one of three prompts: what does mental health mean to you, how can we spread awareness, and how would you help out a friend? The video anonymously featured the students by not showing their faces in the footage.

When asked what inspired her to put this video together, Shepherd spoke about how she personally feels that the topic of anxiety awareness isn’t spoken about enough, and she felt that putting together a video like this could do just what August sought to, and get

IMG_0760.JPG.jpeg
An Elon student holds a whiteboard as part of the video.

that conversation started.

“It doesn’t get a lot of attention because it isn’t a spicy or wild topic, and it doesn’t really strike people as being new or attention-grabbing, but really it is so important that people are aware of these rising numbers,” Shepherd states.

Her class partner, Lindsay Reeth, agrees by adding, “We decided to make this video to make anxiety and mental health the kind of subject that people aren’t afraid to talk about. People should be able to discuss this issue openly, because it allows for that education and the raising of awareness.”

This raising of awareness is spreading slowly around our world, what with Prince Harry of the UK speaking out about his mental health issues since the death of his mother and how he has struggled to find help to treat his anxiety. He claimed, in an interview with the Washington Post, that he was doing it to encourage others to have the courage to do the same. He is spreading that awareness.

And at the end of the day, that seems like it’s the best that students can hope for.

Until there is a cure, making sure the subject of mental health and anxiety stay in the spotlight is the best we can do.

America’s Best Newspaper Writing: Crime and Courts

Crime and court reporting is really heavy stuff, it’s highly important journalism. This type of work lets readers to look into the private and complex world of law, controversy and ethics. This kind of journalism educates the general public, advocates for social justice and what is right, and serves as a watchdog tool for governments and the judicial and prison systems.This chapter highlighted skillful work in the line of crime-writing, as you can see in the display of work that was showcased.

We start with Cathy Frye’s piece, “Caught in the web: Evil at the door,” which depends on a timeline to explain the concrete facts of what exactly happened to Kacie Woody. Frye immediately places the readers in the scene with her telling lead- “He could see his 13-Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 9.04.37 AM.pngyear-old prey framed in the living room windows-cozy in her favorite nightclothes and typing speedily at the family computer on this rainy, 39-degree December night..” By literally dropping the readers into different settings throughout the story, Frye allows them to become fully immersed in the story and see how things play out for Woody. A unique aspect about this story that I love was how Frye provided very specific text from the chats so that readers could know exactly how they talked, how they treated one another and what they spoke about.

Linnet Myers’s piece, “Humanity on Trial,”shows how Myers has lots of experience concerning reporting on crime and the courts. She has the two most common ways of doing this: an “episodic cycle” and the big picture. Her piece illustrates a court scene for readers before delving into an in-depth study of the seemingly commonplace murders happening throughout Chicago. Myers uses detailed imagery to tell her story of a place closed off to the public. She carefully presents information about the criminal court procedure to readers by a means that is easy to digest. It is clear that Myers has done her research. Her piece has a selection of credible interviews as well as numerous facts and figures. She makes human a very cold and unknown process by adding new perspectives.

Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Leaky’s Pulitzer Prize-winning piece on exposing a police narcotics squad resulted in an FBI analysis and the review of a handful of cases assumed to be tainted by the scandal.  Their story, “The informer, the cop & the conspiracy: Snitch says narc lied to jail alleged drug dealers. Did he? ” circulates around Ventura Martinez and Officer Jeffrey Cujdik. It lays out how Martinez confessed to lying about evidence to numerous cases to gain illegal entry into homes and make arrests that were immoral. This article features what officials said and what went down in the courts. It carefully adheres to a timeline of occurrences from the three years, 2005-2008 that the case was associated with to show all the major events that happened.

Personality doesn’t begin to cut it – Physical Plant star Sarah Stevens

Bearing a staunch smile, a southern twang and a Rubbermaid broom, Physical Plant DSC_0002employee Sarah Stevens is a staple to the Elon community.

She may hold a cleaning staff position, but those who have met her know that she’s so much more than that. She’s an incredible friend, counselor, and advisor to anyone who has had the pleasure of getting to know her.

Now on the cleaning staff for the Loy center neighborhood where she has many admirers due to her reliable positivity, Stevens has been at Elon for six years and has seen a handful of change come upon day-to-day life at the university. “I’ve seen more buildings built and torn down at this college in six years than I had in any measure of time in my life before that,” she mentioned. She speaks to how she’s seen so much change, she can barely remember what the campus looked like when she started, and how there are things us current students wouldn’t know had once existed. For instance, she explained, her first gig here was as a cashier in something called the “C-Store, a comfort food dining location in the downstairs of McEwen Dining hall, where Chick-fil-A sits today,” she remarked in an interview.

“My spot was the hottest place to eat on campus,” she boasts with a smile, “in the morning we sold tots and in the afternoon we had chicken tenders. The line went so far out the door we never knew when it would end…But since then, of course, I have sure seen my fair share of change come to the college. Buildings spring up here overnight, it seems,” she attests.

But in light of all the things that have changed, Stevens truly loves her position at the university all the same. Before landing the job at Elon, she ha

DSC_0005.jpg
Stevens in action.

d been out of work for some time, having been a victim of personnel cuts at the kitchen and bath design company she had been working at for nearly 15 years in Guilford County. As bad news tends to piggyback itself, her situation quickly worsened in ways she never could have imagined it could. Shortly after this, Stevens was struck with tragedy when her son got in
a motorcycle wreck, went into a coma and was suffering from both a brain injury and collapsed lungs.

This turned Stevens’ world upside down. For two weeks, she frantically searched for employment to keep her family safe so that she could pay his medical bills. It was at the suggestion of a friend who worked with Aramark at Elon that she give it a try too. “Her friend had said that it was ‘easy money and lots of fun’ to work with young, college-age people,” says Stevens, remarking that she really didn’t have time to be picky.

Not seeing another option, Stevens applied and got the job.

And from day one, her employment at Elon was a saving grace. She quickly had the money to pay her son’s medical bills, and miraculously, he recovered from his condition within the next month and was back on his feet soon after. Say what you will about fate, but good things come to the best people, or at least was the case with Stevens.

And so, in a way, her little cashier gig had saved her family, which might have been the reason Stevens initially loved her job, but now, things have changed. She says the reason she so adores working at Elon these days is because of the kids she gets to work for.

“You guys keep me young, you really do,”Stevens raves, “you’re the reason I get up in the morning and the reason I wear this same itchy shirt every day. I love the hope and the future I see in you kids, it makes me proud to have known you. You make me feel like an Elon parent, and that is something to be proud of.”

She speaks about how when her son was in the hospital, and she began working at Elon, the stories from the kids she met really made her happy in the light of her son’s tragedy. She sees the future these kids are going to have when they’re old and gray and have graduated from

DSC_0009.jpg
Stevens is hard at work in the women’s houses in the Loy center.

Elon, and she lives vicariously through this pride, like the parent of a college student she always wanted to be.

“I meet up with people I knew when they were freshmen and I see them graduating,” says Stevens, “these kids that I love to death, and it really warms my heart. I keep their stories and I remember them when they’re gone. And I’ll remember them if they ever come back, too.”

She compares herself to the tradition and culture of Elon, and how she feels small next to the grandeur that comes about the university every day, the things being built, the programs being put into place and the future that sparkles ahead for the college. She thinks she’s the kind of thing these kids are going to brush over when they remember their college experiences. But this is where, in a shocking divergence from character, she’s wrong.

Hanna Harper, Elon sophomore and a close friend of Stevens’ from living in the Loy Center had this to say about her,“Miss Sarah is definitely one of the biggest perks of living in the on-campus house,” says Harper. “She keeps us all in check and her generosity

DSC_0001.jpg
Harper is a fan of Stevens’.

is constantly overflowing. She’s also hilarious and makes my day very regularly and I am so thankful to have her around. I can’t wait to come back and visit her some day.”

Harper’s housemate, Alexa Schmitt, echoes the sentiment by saying how fond she is of Stevens.”Miss Sarah comes into our house every day and treats the 10 of us like her own kids, it’s clear that she sees us as more than just regular college students,” says Schmitt. “She is such a positive person, whether it be a simple ‘have a great day,’ or a bit of her classic sage advice, she’s always such a joy to be around.

Not only is the Elon community a home to Stevens, but Alamance County was where she was born, raised and educated, and Stevens testifies that the county has gone through its fair share of change since her youth, too.

Stevens was born into a family with five girls, of which she was the youngest. She lived a chaotic life with four elder sisters, and mentions that she was often the odd one out, looking different from the rest of them for whatever reason.

“If people thought you had a different daddy,” remarks Stevens, “they called you the ‘Milkman’s Kid’. That’s what everyone called me for the first few years of my life. Soon after that, my real father died, and that’s how I ended up with a wonderful stepfather,” she smiles sarcastically.

DSC_0010.jpg
Stevens admits that the walkie-talkie is one of her favorite parts of her job. It makes her feel like a secret agent, at times.

A few years into this wild ride of a home life, she was relocated to Guilford County by Social Services, who decided to remove her from the family, as she was a victim of an abusive home situation.

“My sisters,” she attests, “all four of them, they tried to fight the system and get me back in the house, but it was too tough. I had permanently been moved to another family.”

“And that’s where I was, Guilford County, in a new family to live a new life,” she says. She questions whether she would’ve turned out the same kind of person if she hadn’t been removed from her original family. She wonders who she would’ve become.

But those who know her and the joy she is so known for love and cherish the person she is today, regardless of what she has been through.

“People are always saying Sarah is so generous and kind, but that’s where I disagree,” says Marcella Mastrocola, another of the girls who lives in a house serviced by Stevens. “Sure, she’s kind and friendly, but that’s not the first thing that comes to mind. I like Miss Sarah because she’s kind of a mother figure for everyone that lives in the houses she services. She will absolutely tell things how it is and and has a sense for knowing when something is wrong. She’s a genuine person and wants to know what’s going on in our lives. She’s not going to sugarcoat things if something is bothering her. She talks to me frankly like we’ve been friends forever, and that might be the coolest thing about her. The amount of times I’ve hashed out something I was bothered by with her is what makes her the absolute star that she is. She really knows how to connect with people, and I trusted her right away. She’s one of a kind, really.”

When asked what the best life advice was that she’s ever received, here’s what she had to say.

Clara Hannigan, another whose life has been brightened by Stevens, had this to say about her.

“We talk every day, and she always has a smile on her face, a positive attitude, and a warm heart. There’s no judgment about the messes we made in the previous day, but instead a genuine interest on how I’m doing and how my day is going. Recently, I found out that she was a survivor of breast cancer and was going through a bit of a relapse scare, but I never would have guessed because she’s always so upbeat and positive. She takes life one day at a time, and it’s extremely humbling and inspiring to interact with her. I want to adopt her attitude someday.”

Stevens attests that whenever students have positive things to say about her, they’re just building her up. But again, this is a spot where she happens to be wrong.

“She’s always talking about how she remembers our stories when we’re gone,” says Harper, “but I think I’ll remember hers much longer. She’s just the kind of person who sticks. You know?”

Fellows Come to Elon

By Hannah Benson

The first of a long season of admissions events here at Elon University is coming up this weekend, Fellows Weekend. This is an event held annually for rising first-year students, both those who are committed to Elon and those who are still deciding, in order for them to interview with the university’s fellows programs in their variety of disciplines.

img_6250These programs are as follows; the Business Fellows, the College Fellows, the Communications Fellows, the Honors Fellows, the Leadership Fellows and the Teaching Fellows. The four programs besides Honors and Leadership relate to direct schools at Elon, where the other two aren’t school-based.

This events of the weekend are put on by Admissions as well as the directors of each fellows program, where tour guides as well as students in the programs are running events for students and their parents.

All students in fellows programs at the university are also required to partake in mingling events with students at a variety of receptions, meaning that they’re all placed in a room to speak to whomever they please and get to know the prospective members.

First-year student and Communications Fellow Kirsten Chase, when asked about the upcoming weekend, had this to say, “I am so excited for fellows weekend in just a few days. I remember just how nervous I was going into the weekend [last year], so I know what the new interviewees must be feeling like. Fellows Weekend was really fun and I talked to so many people who were very passionate and welcoming.”IMG_6248.jpg

Kevin Napp, director of campus visit and associate director of admissions, when asked about the weekend said, “Fellows weekend is the first of many admissions pushes we have in the spring, and it’s one of my favorites. These kids are really gung-ho about Elon and the programs they’re pursuing. We really try to buy them and they are trying to buy us.”

Napp is coordinating the schedules for the 100+ student tour guides who report back to him. He is delegating all the work for the weekend, and mentions that it should be a success, what with the talent of his employees.

“Tour guides at Elon are the exact kind of people who really sell Elon,” he says. “I can’t imagine not wanting to come here after an encounter with one of our guides.

Elon junior and tour guide from California, Zaria Zinn, had this to say when asked why she was looking forward to Fellows Weekend, “Fellows weekend is so much better than a regular tour weekend because of how engaged the students are and how willing they are to ask questions. These kids are really hooked on Elon and that’s something you don’t see on a regular tour every day.”

The event will mainly be scheduled for Friday afternoon, March 3, and Saturday, March 4. Students are expected to hail from all over the United States and beyond to attend.

“I can’t wait for these kids to come and experience what I went through last year, the weekend really solidified for me that I wanted to be a fellow,” Chase said.

Elon’s wheels are turning

A new initiative is blazing a trail on campus since its launch on FebruIMG_6211.JPGary 21. Elon’s Student Government Association has recently launched a bike share program in partnership with Zagster which is taking campus by storm.

As if Elon students don’t spend enough time outside in the sunshine, the new bike share program will promote outdoor activity for students who perhaps seek a faster way to get to and from class, and who are interested in biking but may not have a bike on campus. The way the program works is this: students who are interested in renting a bike are encouraged to go to the bike station, which is located outside of the Moseley Student Center and pay to check out a bike for a measure of time.

The cost for checking out a bike is completely free for the first three hours, then three dollars each hour the bike is kept afterwards. In order to check out the bike, students must downIMG_6212.JPGload the Zagster app and enter the number of the bike they’re seeking to check out, then take the code that the app spits out for them, plug it into the keypad on the back of the bike, and it is released from the station. 

SGA student senator Sophie Zinn had this to say when asked about the program and why she was excited for its launch, “we at SGA really try to take the student perspective into account when deciding what we can do to better this school, and this idea came purely from the suggestion of the student body, which is awesome.”

The student perspective is vitally important to those working in the Student Government Association, as the activities and things they implement around campus are products of the complaints and suggestions that students have.

Amanda Yaffa, rising sophomore class secretary, says, “I love the bike share program we have implemented at Elon, because it’s a really case-and-point way to show the students that if there’s something they want, we will make it happen. Simple as that.”

The bike share program plans to stay at Elon as long as students are interested in it.