Poll of Elon students shows the university to be the “perfect size” for most undergraduates

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Elon University’s Lindner Hall. Photo by Connor Cavanaugh

By Connor Cavanaugh

All students at Elon University made the choice to attend a private institution with an undergraduate enrollment around 5,000. Because of this, a large majority of Elon students say that the university’s current enrollment size is just right.

“Elon was the smallest school I applied to, and I am glad I chose to go here because it’s the perfect size for me,” said Elon sophomore Myles Muchineuta.

The Elon Commitment, a university plan, dictates “slow growth” for the undergraduate population. After reaching 4,000 students in the year 2000, Elon has grown to approximately 5,600 students for the 2013-2014 academic year. This correlates to a growth of around 200 students a year, certainly within the realm of “slow growth.”

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Elon’s academic pavilion, where some of the polling was done. Photo by Connor Cavanaugh

In a poll of 200 students, 148 responded saying Elon’s student body size is “just right,” with 38 responding “too small,” and 14 responding “too large.” Of the 200 respondents, 64% said the perfect size for a private university devoted to engaged learning like Elon is either 5,000 or 6,000 students.

“Elon is the perfect size because I feel like I can walk around campus and see at least a couple people I know,” said junior Scott Maxham. “My class sizes are all relatively small, and if Elon was any bigger, that might change.”

As Elon continues to construct new buildings and add more students to the undergraduate population, the risk is run of making the institution larger than students are comfortable with.

According to the data collected in the poll, the statistical mean for the “perfect size” for Elon is 5,925 students, about 300 more than are currently enrolled. At the current rate, Elon will surpass that number in the next two or three academic years.

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Shiho Fukada visits Elon University, speaks with reporting class about photojournalism and reporting ethics

By Connor Cavanaugh

The classroom went silent as her photos flashed upon the projector screen. The clicking of laptop keys ceased as images of poverty, destruction and sadness flicked by, one after another.

Freelance photojournalist Shiho Fukada spent time talking with professor Janna Anderson’s reporting class on Wednesday, Oct. 23, showcasing some of her work as well as engaging in discussion about reporting techniques and ethics.

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Fukada explains her process in the field.
Photo by Connor Cavanaugh

“I wish I had found what I wanted to do in university,” said Fukada. “I was mostly lost into my twenty’s.”

Fukada studied English literature in college, and then worked in the fashion and advertising industries before becoming a photojournalist. Since picking up a camera, Fukada’s work has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Time, New Yorker, Stern, Le Monde, New York Magazine, GEO and others. She has also won numerous awards for her work documenting impoverished parts of the world. She is currently based out of New York City, though her home is Tokyo, Japan.

“Originally I was more interested in cinematography, but I had very little money,” said Fukada. “Photography is more enjoyable for me because it allows me to slow down. It’s a very spiritual experience for me.”

Fukada spoke about the necessary skills reporters need to have.

“You have to have an ability to connect with people, “ said Fukada. “Good reporters have the Bill Clinton effect on those they talk to.”

Fukada’s work has taken her into extremely impoverished and disadvantaged places around the world, which has led to uncomfortable experiences for her.

“Taking photos of dead bodies is very uncomfortable and intrusive I feel,” said Fukada. “But it’s my job to take pictures, people need to know what has happened.”

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Photograph from Fukada’s portfolio.
Photo courtesy of Shiho Fukada.

“I’ve been spit on, yelled at, cursed at in some situations, but you can’t take it personally,” said Fukada. “You have to believe in yourself and what you do, and convey your passion in your work.”

Fukada’s reporting has required her to photograph people in very compromising situations, such as sex workers and child laborers.

“Some stories, I would set the camera down for at least the first day and just talk to the subjects first,” said Fukada. “Then I start taking photos once I am comfortable with them and they are more comfortable with me.”

“If you don’t know what makes you cry or laugh or smile, you cant capture that for other people to see,” said Fukada. “You have to believe in what you are doing, or no one else will.”

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Elon University’s Performing Arts Department presents the musical ‘Ragtime’

By Connor Cavanaugh

For 6 days at Elon, Harlem musicians, upper-class suburbanites, and Eastern European immigrants will come together to dazzle audiences with singing, dancing and drama.

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Poster art for ‘Ragtime’
Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Elon University’s Department of Performing Arts is presenting ‘Ragtime,’ showing in McCrary Theatre Oct. 24-26, and Oct. 31-Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. on all six dates.

‘Ragtime’ is based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow, following the stories of three diverse families as they struggle through contradictions of wealth and poverty in America at the turn of the 20th century.

The original Broadway production garnered 13 Tony Award nominations, winning four, including Best Original Score, Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical and Best Orchestrations. After its original two-year run, the musical was revived on Broadway in 2009, receiving a further six Tony Award nominations.

Elon’s productions of the musical is directed by Catherine McNeela,
 choreographed by Lynne Kurdziel-Formato and conducted by Richard Church, all Elon performing arts faculty.

“’Ragtime’ is and epic, moving and historical experience beyond words,” said Elon sophomore and cast member Drew Shafranek. “It’s a show about people getting through their differences and fighting for what they know is right.”

Additionally, there are many characters that audience members will be familiar with.

“The show is full of historical characters such as Henry Ford, Evelyn Nesbit, Booker T. Washington, and many more,” said Shafranek. “It’s going to be a truly incredible show and everyone on campus needs to experience the beautiful show Stephen Flaherty has created.”

Tickets for the event are $12, or free with an Elon ID.

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Author and professor Michael Shermer speaks at Elon University about skepticism and skeptics role in science

By Connor Cavanaugh

Michael Shermer gave a lecture entitled “Why People Believe Weird Things” on Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m in Elon University’s Whitley Auditorium, sponsored by the Liberal Arts Forum as a free and open event.

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Michael Shermer answers questions following his lecture.
Photo by Connor Cavanaugh.

Shermer is an American science writer, historian of science, founder of The Skeptics Society, and Editor in Chief of its magazine “Skeptic.” He is also an adjunct professor at Chapman University and Claremont Graduate University. The Skeptics Society is a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting critical thinking, and resisting the spread of irrational beliefs, and its members include Bill Nye, and popular astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Shermer received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pepperdine University, a master’s degree in experimental psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and his doctorate in the history of science from Claremont Graduate University.

“Theres a lot of it out there, nonsense that is,” said Shermer. “There’s a lot of bunk out there that needs debunking, and that’s our job as skeptics.”

“It’s about gathering data and testing claims,” said Shermer. “Claims only become fact when tests confirm their validity.”

Shermer believes that through scientific research and analysis, we can determine if things are real or not.

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Shermer’s book, entitled “The Believing Brain.”
Photo courtesy of Michael Shermer’s homepage.

“Asking if you believe in evolution is like asking if you believe in gravity,” said Shermer. “They are both things that just are. They are fact, proven by science.”

Not only does skepticism apply to the world outside the body, it also applies to the construction of human beings.

“The word ‘mind’ is just a word for what the brain does,” said Shermer. “If a portion of the brain is lost, mind function associated with it is lost.”

When asked if it should be acceptable to let people believe in something like the afterlife if it makes them happy, Shermer responded with a comparison.

“It is more important to be right than to feel good,” said Shermer. “Drugs make you feel good, but they’re obviously bad for you so you shouldn’t take them.”

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Elon University Breaks Ground on Inman Admissions Welcome Center

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Vision for Inman Admissions Welcome Center.
Courtesy of Elon E-Net.

By Connor Cavanaugh

Currently, families visiting Elon for the first time are relegated into a single cramped room within Moseley Center, where they await tour guides to lead them around campus. Their experience is about to change in a very positive way.

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From left to right: Bill Inman, Pat Inman, Leo Lambert, Laurie Lambert, and Greg Zaiser break ground on Inman Admissions Welcome Center.
Photo by Connor Cavanaugh

Elon University is transforming its campus once again, as groundbreaking on a new admissions and welcome center began Friday, Oct. 18 in the Moseley parking lot, the future site of the welcome center.

Named after Elon parents Bill and Pat Inman who gave the lead gift towards the building, the Inman Admissions Welcome Center will combine all campus visit, admissions and financial planning staff from their current three buildings on campus into one central location.

Located next to Moseley Center, the new building will anchor a new quadrangle north of Belk Library, replacing the parking lot’s asphalt with walkways and a sprawling lawn.

Student peruse the plans for the new building and quadrangle.  Photo by Connor Cavanaugh.

Student peruse the plans for the new building and quadrangle.
Photo by Connor Cavanaugh.

The new building will not be cheap, as the University’s goal is to raise $4 million in private donations for the project. However, it will serve as a proper welcoming space for thousands of visitors who complete a campus tour each year.

“Think about how important the first point of contact is for prospective students,” said president Leo Lambert.

“10,905. That is the number of prospective students who visited our campus last year,” said Greg Zaiser, Vice President of Admissions and Financial Planning. “Even today, there are a lot of families lined up in the hallways in Moseley, and that’s not what we want their first experience at Elon to be like.”

The Inman’s have also supported the construction of Rhodes Stadium, Koury Business Center, the Numen Lumen Pavilion and Lindner Hall.

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Leo Lambert adresses the crowd, praises the generosity of the Inman family.
Photo by Connor Cavanaugh.

“The Inman’s exemplify what parent leadership means at our institution,” said Lambert after listing their previous donations. “What a legacy of support.”

“As Elon’s reputation grows, so does our applicant pool,” said Zaiser. “This building will allow us to meet students individually, or in large groups in our presentation theatre.”

Designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects of New York, the building will reflect Elon’s traditional red brick architecture, arches, and a cupola to echo the Alamance and Lindner buildings on campus.

The Inman Admissions Welcome Center’s completion is expected in January of 2015.

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A Close Call

By Connor Cavanaugh

“I remember getting into the car, and then everything goes black.”

Elon junior Zach Phillips got into a Dodge Charger with his friend Mark Frattaroli on Sept. 28, 2008, and woke up two months later in UMass Medical Center in Worcester, Mass.

Phillips was along for a car ride with a friend when the vehicle struck a tree at 90 mph, killing the driver and leaving Phillips in critical condition. Emergency respondents had to use a hydraulic mechanism to pry the boys from the mangled car.

Zach Phillips with people supporting him from his high school and hospital.
Courtesy of Zach Phillips.

“I don’t remember anything after getting in the car, and my memory begins again two months after the accident,” says Phillips, who was put in an induced coma while he recovered from his many grueling injuries. Phillips injuries included traumatic brain injury, fractures in his neck and back, in addition to other, less severe bone breaks.

“While I was in the hospital, friends would visit me every couple days which was such an awesome way for them to show their support for me,” says Phillips. “Without all the people around me being so supportive, who knows what could have happened. I’m very grateful to everyone.”

After his injuries healed, Zach was moved out of the intensive care unit, and into rehabilitation. According to his doctors before he began rehabilitation, Zach would not be able to participate in sports again due to the lingering effects of the injuries he sustained. As captain of the wrestling team and football team in high school, this was particularly hard news for Phillips.

“When they first told me I was done with sports, I was devastated,” said Phillips. “However, I learned to use those doubts as motivation during the rehab process.”

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An MRI of Phillips’ brain, showing the damage done in the car accident.
Courtesy of Zach Phillips.

As he entered the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Zach showed steady improvement, slowly but surely beginning to recognize his friends and family, as well as walking on his own again.

“I am in the physical condition I am in today because of all the rehab I did and all the amazing doctors who were so patient with me,” says Phillips.

The rehabilitation paid off, as Phillips has made, according to doctors, a one hundred percent recovery, and is technically cleared to play football, wrestling or any other sport.

“I feel so lucky to be in the healthy state I enjoy,” said Phillips, “Doctors told me that people with similar injuries to mine had a ten percent chance of survival, and of those who survive the injuries, ninety-nine percent have significant lasting brain damage, of which I have none. So I certainly feel very lucky to be a medical miracle, if you want to call it that.”

In the summer of 2011, Zach and his older brother, Michael, trained to compete in the Louisville Ironman triathlon in Louisville Ky. The event is gargantuan, featuring a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run (a full marathon), all in one day. “This is, of course, largely thanks to what was achieved while he was recovering at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital,” wrote Michael on the Phillips Brothers Race for Rehab website.

Zach went on to compete in two Boston Marathons, finishing each one.

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Zach Phillips participating in the Louisville Ironman triathlon in 2011.
Courtesy of Zach Phillips.

“The Boston Marathon was an amazing event to take part in, and it makes me very proud of my city, especially after the bombings earlier this year,” said Phillips. “It’s an event that the whole city rallies around, and to be able to compete after everything I went through was an amazing feeling.

Phillips friends at Elon had no idea about his past medical history until he told them about the accident.

“I had no clue until he told us about it one day,” says Phillips’s suitemate, junior P.J. Eisler. “It was totally unexpected, and he is lucky to have such good health.”

“It came out of nowhere when he told me,” said former suitemate, junior Justin Marcus. “I truly didn’t believe him at first, until he showed me the pictures and articles on the Internet.”

Indeed, Phillips leads a normal life by most peoples’ standards, and has no lingering effects from the accident almost five years ago. He works out at the gym often, and has no mental impairments that prevent him from taking a full course load at Elon.

Phillips is studying to become a physical therapist in Elon University’s exercise science program, and he feels fully committed to being successful and to help others that are in the situation he was in five years ago.

“If you were to ask me what the biggest thing that contributed to my recovery was, I’d say the support of my friends, family and school,” says Phillips. In addition to being visited by friends in the hospital, his school made a giant poster that everyone signed, wishing him all the best and a speedy recovery.

“After getting basically a second chance at life, I’m committed to being successful and helping others the way I was helped after my accident,” says Phillips.

“The kid is a miracle,” says Eisler. “An absolute miracle.”

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Midnight Meals and Jack Garno

By Connor Cavanaugh

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Jack Garno playing his Taylor acoustic guitar in Irazu Coffee.
Photo by Connor Cavanaugh.

Irazu coffee shop was almost completely filled with students, both sitting and standing, by the time Elon sophomore Jack Garno stepped up to the microphone. Over the next half hour, Garno performed a mix of original songs, as well as popular covers, just the man and his guitar.

Irazu Coffee, Elon University’s on campus coffee shop, hosts Midnight Meals every Thursday night, put on by Elon’s Student Union Board. Jack’s performance at the Sept. 26 iteration was his first Midnight Meals appearance as a solo artist.

“I felt in my comfort zone, and my friend Ethan was running sound for me,” said Garno. “Overall I think there was a good reception from the songs, especially ‘Wagon Wheel’ which is a crowd pleaser.”

Garno’s set contained two original songs, “Meditation” and “The Castle,” as well as covers of John Mayer’s “Neon,” Dispatch’s “Time Served,” Porcupine Tree’s “Blackest Eyes” and a crowd sing-along to “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show.

“’Meditation’ is an open airy feeling guitar part with some soothing vocals so it kind of relates to the title of the song,” said Garno.  “The transition into freshman year is hectic, and you get swamped down and kind of freak out, so the song came from that.”

“At the same time, I try and write lyrics that can relate to other people in different ways.”

“’The Castle’ is about small things having a large effect,” said Garno. “I wrote that song with a band in high school, so I had to transform it for an acoustic guitar performance.”

Garno felt the cover songs he played were very well received by the crowd.

“Neon, I’ll be honest, was the hardest song I’ve ever tried to figure out,” said Garno, “I feel like it captures your attention right away because its an interesting, cool riff.”

Garno will be playing the Alpha Omicron Pi event “Rock On Omicron” on Oct. 30, in Irazu coffee shop.

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