Elon University doing its best to keep student debts low while national debts climbing

By Connor Cavanaugh

The overall cost of college is on the rise, but is your university doing anything about it?

“The philosophy for financial aid at Elon is to keep the overall cost as low as possible,” said Greg Zaiser, Vice President of admissions and financial planning at Elon University. “While Elon’s price reflects its status as a private university, it is still considerably less than some of our corss-applicant competition.”

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Courtesy of Mother Jones.

According to the Office of Financial Planning, the total cost to attend Elon for a year currently stands at $43,546, below the national average for private, four-year institutions.

Still, Elon graduates are leaving with an average of $23,000 in student loan debt, according to Zaiser. While this is below the national average of $29,400, some Elon students feel the university should be doing more to help its students.

Greg Zaiser talks about how Elon compares financially with other institutions. Photo by Connor Cavanaugh.

Greg Zaiser talks about how Elon compares financially with other institutions. Photo by Connor Cavanaugh.

“Elon isn’t doing a great job of allowing all qualified students to attend, regardless of their family’s income,” said Elon junior Corbin McConnell. “They base it (financial aid) off how much your family makes in a year, and there are lots of qualified students who don’t receive enough money to be able to attend Elon.”

Other students think the university should restructure its financial outlook to look more attractive to potential students.

“Lowering tuition would be ideal because there are already a lot of scholarships handed out, and a lower tuition would be more attractive to prospective students,” said junior Joe Thompson.

Despite students’ grievances, Elon is consistently named a “best value” institution by Kiplinger’s personal finance magazine and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges.

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Courtesy of Liz Goodwin.

From Kiplinger’s magazine: “Run your finger down the total cost column of our private university rankings and you’ll see price tags ranging from nearly $50,000 to more than $60,000. That is, until you reach Elon University, at number 22.”

It is no accident that Elon’s cost of $43,000 is substantially lower than most comparable universities.

“There is a very different model at Elon that is conservative out of necessity,” said Zaiser. “We take great care in planning with students who require loans, and that is why the default rate is lower than 2 percent here, while the national default rate is 13 percent.”

The low cost of the university, relative to the competition, has its benefits for those taking out student loans.

“Elon has made it easy for me to go here while taking out student loans,” said Kyle Stewart, and Elon junior. “This school was the most affordable school I was looking at, so it made sense to enroll here.”

For parents, taking out loans for their child’s education can be a daunting proposition if taken at face value.

“I think it is completely unreasonable for parents to not want to take out loans for their children’s college,” said Zaiser. “This is not a cost, it is an investment for the future.”

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Auburn stuns No. 1 Alabama in thrilling end to 78th Iron Bowl

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This was the 78th meeting between Alabama and Auburn, known as the Iron Bowl. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Connor Cavanaugh

It was the game of the year. An Iron Bowl to remember.

No. 4 ranked Auburn scored two touchdowns in the final 32 seconds to upset No.1 Alabama in the final regular season game of the year.

With just 1 second left, Alabama attempted a 58-yard field goal, which would have won the game, only to come up short. Auburn’s Chris Davis was waiting in the end zone and caught the errant kick, returning it 109 yards for a touchdown as time expired to give Auburn the victory over previously undefeated Alabama.

After the game, a slew of football fans took to Twitter to trash the Alabama kicker, Cade Foster. In the game, Foster missed all three of his field goal attempts, including having one blocked in the final minutes by the Auburn defense. However, the kicker on the final play wasn’t Foster.

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Alabama coach Nick Saban made the decision to attempt the 58-yard field goal that led to Auburn’s victory. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Alabama coach Nick Saban chose to have seldom used freshman kicker Adam Griffith attempt the potential game winner.

Still, this didn’t keep Twitter users from lashing out at Foster, tweeting death treats and profane insults at the senior kicker.

“The kicker who missed 3 field goals could have given them a handy lead, so I understand why the hate is directed at him,” said Elon University junior Travis Elliot. “It’s still not cool because no one taking to Twitter could have made and of those kicks.”

There was controversy over whether Saban should have let time expire and play for overtime.

“I understand why he went for the field goal,” said Bleacher Report writer Tyler Adams, “but it’s not often a backup kicker boots a 58 yarder. He could have thrown a Hail Mary or taken a knee and gone to overtime.”

Twitter users expressed their anger over Alabama's loss, targeting kicker Cade Foster.

Twitter users expressed their anger over Alabama’s loss, targeting kicker Cade Foster. There were far more profane tweets that will not be published on this site. Courtesy of Twitter.

However, despite the loss, Alabama still has a chance to win their third National Championship in a row due to the four-team playoff format new to college football this year. Alabama is now ranked No. 4, so if they win the rest of their games this year, they can be the BCS Champs.

“It was a tough loss to watch,” said Elon junior and Alabama native George Smith. “But there is still hope for them to win it all this year thanks to the new format.”

Auburn will play No. 5 Missouri in the SEC Title game on Saturday, Dec. 7.

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50 years later, John F. Kennedy still remembered, death remains topic of debate

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The Evening Star front page, announcing the death of JFK.
Courtesy of the Evening Star.

By Connor Cavanaugh

It was 50 years ago today that our country stood still, listening to Walter Cronkite announce, “President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time. 2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.”

The images of John Jr. saluting his father’s coffin, and Lyndon Johnson being sworn in will forever be ingrained in American history.

“Everyone who was alive at that time remembers [Kennedy’s death] very clearly,” said Martin Fowler, Lecturer of Philosophy at Elon University.

Throughout the day, there will be many tributes to John F. Kennedy across the country, celebrating his life and service to the country. One such commemoration at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, where the president was shot, will feature historian David McCullough, who is a frequent speaker at Elon University. McCullough will be reading from Kennedy’s speeches while religious leaders will offer prayers.

Still troubling to America is just how Kennedy died. It is still unclear in many people’s minds whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in shooting the president, or if there were others involved in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy.

A recent Gallup poll indicates that 61 percent of Americans still believe others were involved in Kennedy’s death, and only 30 percent believe is was just one man.

“It was totally a conspiracy,” said Clark Helman, an Elon Junior. “There were over 100,000 windows that were unchecked along the motorcade route, and JFK was allowed to take the bubble off of the limo. None of that would have happened without a conspiracy.”

This goes against the findings of the Warren Commission, which was created a week after the presidents death and one year later, published an 888-page report concluding with certainty that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

“When terribly traumatic, public events occur, people want to think they can understand it,” said Fowler.
“Conspiracy theories support that because people need to make sense out of something senseless.”

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Courtesy of Gallup.

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Social media is changing the conversation in the age of the Internet

NYIAS 2013 | Lexus Smart Car @ New York MotorShow

Courtesy of MotorBlog

Real, face-to-face conversations don’t have a delete button or a backspace feature. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as text messaging, has changed the way people make friends, and interact with the people they already know.

How do people represent themselves?

“Some people are much more extroverted and vocal on social media,” said Elon University sophomore Tyler Lehmann. “It always throws me off when someone is different on Facebook or Twitter than they are in person.”

Instead of meeting people and conversing face to face, people are now able to carefully craft their appearance and conversations exactly the way they want. When talking to someone online, one can write something, then delete or edit any words they might think twice about saying.

So, while social media allows us to meet far more people and interact with them in new ways, the authenticity of our appearance and interactions is potentially diluted.

This is something multiple students at Elon, and elsewhere have claimed, that individuals represent themselves as different people that they truly are.Image

“I know some people that are not extremely extroverted, but on social media will use a lot of exclamation points and descriptive language that might not reflect the person that I know them as,” said Elon sophomore Madeline Wise. “Inversely, there are some super outgoing people that never post on social media so you might think they are more introverted, even when that’s not the case.”

People’s level of involvement and interest in social media affects their representation of themselves in ways less deceiving and more honest. People that are less involved on Facebook are likely to come off as more introverted, posting fewer times and interacting with others online much less. This is the perception, regardless of their actual personality, be it extroverted or introverted.

Alexis Franzese, assistant professor of sociology at Elon University has done research dealing with authenticity, and what it means to be authentic in society.

“I believe people use social media to construct a self that they wish to communicate to the world,” said Franzese. “This constructed self is typically more socially desirable than the real self.”

This supports the belief that people can be less than honest when it comes to representing themselves on the Internet, allowing positive traits to show and negative ones to be hidden.

“I believe that social media can help people to get closer to this idealized version of the self as they alter their behavior in ways that allow them to post images that are consistent with the desired self,” said Franzese. “Social media also provides a way to connect with others with shared aspirations, or shared ideal selves.”

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Sidebar by Connor Cavanaugh
Information from Fieldhouse Media

Understandably, people are attempting to convey the most likable iteration of themselves in order to promote themselves to people they can’t interact with on a regular basis. When a potential employer can view an online persona before actually meeting a potential employee, it is understandable to want a profile to be a positive representation and free of anything negative. It is unreasonable to think that people have nothing negative in their lives, so altering their appearance online is sometimes a necessity. However, altering ones self in this way is very different from being intentionally dishonest about interests, activities, or personality.

“I never post pictures of myself in a bathing suit unless it’s from a family vacation,” said Wise in regard to the possibility of future employers viewing her profile. “I also untag myself or hide a photo from my timeline if I don’t think it’s appropriate [for them to see].”

This is a very real concern for many college students attempting to enter the workforce. Many people don’t even know how to make their Facebook profiles private, as Facebook constantly changes the formatting of the site, as well as the privacy functions. (For a thorough walk through on how to adjust the privacy settings on a Facebook account, see the sidebar.)

The perspective of a high school student is very different, as most aren’t concerned with long-term employment yet.

“I would say I don’t really tailor my profile to potential employers or colleges,” said Connor Cross, a junior at Lovejoy High School in Lucas, Texas. “I am aware of what I say and post, though it’s not like it’s just a stream of nonsense all the time.”

Representation through interests

Some people are more involved in social media, and they believe being more active allows them to better represent themselves through their posts.

“I think my Facebook is a pretty accurate representation of who I am in person,” said Lehmann. “I put some effort into keeping it that way.”

Things like music, art and news can all be shared by someone on their account, or posted to their account by their friends. People with shared interests are likely to post similar media online.

“My friends like to post music and funny pictures on my wall fairly regularly that I believe reflect my personality quite well,” said Wise. “I also like to repost interesting articles, specifically science related, which show my interests.”

If people are involved in their appearance on social media, they are more likely to represent themselves more accurately to those viewing their online profiles.

“I typically use my profile to emphasize parts of my personality and tastes that I want people to know about me,” said Sam McCorcle, a UNC Chapel Hill sophomore. “This includes things like my taste in music and my tendency towards goofy YouTube videos.”Image

Who uses it and why?

To understand how people create online iterations of themselves, it must first be understand who uses social media, and why these people use it.

“Surveys say, people use social media to stay in touch with friends, and share information and ideas,” said Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project. “People seek out communities and share knowledge and information with these people.”

Social media goes beyond simply sharing pictures and videos within these communities. People share real, relevant and important information in order to better educate and inform those they know, or intentionally target with a post.

“Since the recession began, we’ve see a lot of people exchanging information about jobs and cities to move to, or those in decline which should be avoided,” said Rainie. “People are using social media to try and improve their lives.“

People also use social media to keep in contact with family or friends that are far away, or otherwise inaccessible.

“I use social media to stay up to date with some of my favorite musicians, as well as with close friends and family,” said McCorcle. “I use it as a way to stay in the loop with different things I care about.”Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 11.29.30 AM

Still others use social media as a source of news, as top news stories are often reposted and shared via Twitter or Facebook.

“I also use social media to keep up with current events,” said Wise. “I usually learn about something going on in the world through Facebook before I ever see it on a television or in a newspaper.”

Case in point, on Sept. 17, 2013, a gas leak occurred on Elon’s campus, and the news broke on the Elon Police twitter account. The University actually found out about the gas leak through Twitter, and addressed it accordingly, evacuating the buildings for a couple of hours until the situation was resolved.

News is now broken on Twitter or Facebook fairly regularly, showing the importance that social media now plays in our lives.

“I spend more time looking at news and information from my favorite bands on Twitter than I do actually talking to people,” said Cross.

Some Statistics

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All statistics from Pew Research Center.
Info graphic by Connor Cavanaugh.

According to Lee Rainie’s organization, The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, the biggest factor determining social media use is age. 89 percent of Internet users between 18-29 use social media, compared with 78 percent of users 30-49 years old, 60 percent of users 50-64 years old, and just 43 percent of users 65 and older.

Additionally, according to the study, annual household income has no significant effect on social media use, education level after graduating high school has little effect, and urban users are just five percent more likely to use social media than rural users.

The only other significant factor in social media use is race, according to this study. 70 percent of white Internet users are on social media, compared with 75 percent of black users and 80 percent of Hispanic users. Also, women are 4 percent more likely to use social media than men.

What does this tell us?

Age clearly has the largest effect on social media use, due largely to the availability of technology and the relatively recent Internet boom. For people older than 65, this technology simply didn’t exist until they were middle aged or older. For younger users, some have grown up using computers and the Internet their entire lives, and that familiarity leads to use.twitter

“Younger folks are more engaged in almost every platform of social media than older folks, and they use social media more aggressively and expansively,” said Rainie, citing the Pew Center’s study. “Additionally, African-Americans are much more likely to use Twitter than whites are, and in many cases, higher income persons are more likely to use Pintrest and Linkedin than lower income individuals. No economic differences have been found for users on Facebook. “

Overall, social media is being used more and more by a higher percentage of Internet users. According to the Pew Internet Research website, “As of May 2013, almost three quarters (72%) of online U.S. adults use social networking sites, up from 67% in late 2012. When we first started asking about social networking sites in February 2005, just 8% of online adults said they used social networking sites.”

How has social media changed us?

The biggest question about social media is to what extent is it replacing face-to-face conversations? The answer is a tough one because no one was keeping data on interactions before the Internet began. However, there are some clues that indicate social media is simply increasing the amount of communication we partake in.

“The overall volume of communication is growing rapidly,” said Rainie. “Think about going out with your friends on the weekend, you are texting or Facebook messaging about where you’re going to meet up, and the end event is a face-to-face encounter.”

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Facebook has changed the way people interact, essentially flattening the globe.
Courtesy of Derzsi Elekes Andor.

Above all, social media makes communication simple and efficient, saving people time and energy.

“The convenience factor is just so much better and easier with texting, email, instant messaging,” said Rainie. “Specific exchanges, quick exchanges are easier and more efficient, as these were never profound human experiences, and now they are electronic, just because it’s easier.”

“The most important functions of social media are those associated with connection,” said McCorcle. “It allows people to be efficient with their time when catching up with friends and family, as well as staying up to date with their various interests.”

Often, social media creates a place for communication that otherwise would not take place.

“I believe [social media is] supplement rather than replacement,” said Franzese, “and in many cases facilitate communication that would not otherwise be occurring, i.e. social media with more distant acquaintances that one would otherwise not be communicating with.”

The ability to connect with someone halfway around the world is unique to the age of social media and the Internet. While people can reach almost anyone on Earth with a telephone, it can be both expensive and impractical. With social media, a friend in China is as close as the next-door neighbor.

“This is a complimentary world,” said Rainie. “We use tools that are appropriate to what we need, and we are doing lots of socializing in many different ways.”

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Elon Camerata, Chorale and Élan to sing at homecoming concert Nov. 9th

The Elon University Chorale, Camerata and a capella group Élan are joining together for a concert on Friday, Nov. 8th in Whitley Auditorium to kick off homecoming week at Elon.

The groups will be singing a selection of songs individually, before joining together for one final song, “Homeland” by Z.Randall Stroope, according to Camerata member Madeline Wise.

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The Elon Camerata under the direction of Stephen Futrell, associate professor of music at Elon. Photo courtesy of Elon Department of Music.

“It’s a great kickoff to the homecoming weekend for alumni to hear songs and for the community to experience the diversity of choral groups at Elon,” said Wise, also a sophomore at Elon.

This isn’t the only choral event al Elon this weekend, as they are singing the alma mater before the football game on Saturday.

“Dr. Futrell, our choir director, is from Louisiana and he is making jambalaya for a tent being set up at the tailgate,” said Wise. “We will be singing the alma mater before the game and alumni are invited to join us on the field.”

Other homecoming activities this weekend include the football game against The Citadel, Men’s and Women’s basketball games, and the homecoming concert featuring rapper Timeflies.

The concert on Friday has no entrance fee and is free to all members of the Elon community.

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Same-sex marriage to be legalized in Illinois upon signing of bill by Gov. Pat Quinn

By Connor Cavanaugh

One out of every three Americans currently live in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, and this number is about to rise even higher when Illinois governor Pat Quinn signs a bill into law, legalizing same-sex marriage in the state of Illinois.

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Courtesy of thewashingtonpost.com

Illinois will be the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage after the sate senate voted to pass the legalizing bill. However, it remains to be seen how this will affect the fight for equal rights in other states.

“Nationally, there might not be significant ramifications, however those who voted against their constituency on this bill may face repercussions come re-election,” said Carrie Eaves, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Elon University.

Students at Elon also feel as though change is coming, but slower than they might like.

“I think it’s going to take a while, but it’s necessary to do because it is holding our society back and holding peoples’ rights hostage,” said Kyle Stewart, an Elon junior from Southborough, Mass.

“It should be legal in all states,” said Nakhila Mistry, an Elon senior from San Antonio, Tx. “The more states that legalize gay marriage, the more quickly it will spread to other states around the country.”

In North Carolina, same-sex marriage proponents still have a long way to go before it is legalized. Amendment 1, voted on and passed by citizens in May of 2012, declares same-sex marriage unconstitutional in the state of North Carolina.

Will North Carolina pass a new law legalizing same-sex marriage any time soon?

“In the immediate future, no,” said Eaves. “North Carolina is controlled by conservatives now, even though we are still considered a swing state, so I don’t see any immediate change.”

“It’ll be a while before it is legalized in North Carolina,” said Mistry. “But I’m pretty sure Texas will be the last state to allow same-sex marriage.”

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Local North Carolina elections expect low voter turnout on election day 2013

Less than 24 hours before election day voting is scheduled to commence at First Baptist Church of Elon, a custodian was sweeping floors of a room bare of any set up or electoral personnel.

“They’ll probably be here later this afternoon to set up,” said the custodian on duty.

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Election day is November 5th, 2013. Photo courtesy of api.ning.com

In “off years” for elections, when there are no presidential, congressional or senatorial seats to be voted on, voter turnout is extremely low.

“These elections have become almost critical,” said Randy Orwig, senior pastor at the Elon Community Church, “and at any time, no one turns out to vote in these smaller elections.”

The Elon Community Church was told they would hold elections in their new facilities upon their completion, however Orwig states they were never contacted, dispite signing an agreement.

Instead, the Baptist Church will be holding the elections again, after the facility was moved there from the Elon Fire Station.

“These smaller elections are where tea party and ultra conservative politicians get into the local governments and start controlling school boards and local affairs,” said Orwig. “If no one is turning out to vote, it is much harder to stop these people.”

But will the voter turnout tomorrow really be as low as expected? Four years ago, in 2009, only 2,898 citizens turned out for the Burlington mayoral elections out of the 55,000 people who live in Burlington. This turnout dropped by over 100 voters in 2011.

“I’ll probably vote in Guilford tomorrow, but I’m not really sure,” said Don Wagoner, a Guilford County resident stopping by the Elon Post Office.

“Your service as a citizen is voting,” said Orwig, “it’s important for as many people to vote as possible because that is how a democracy runs best.”

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