By Stephen Simon
By Thomas May
The Smoky Mountains on your horizon, dark green glass beneath you, and the white spray of a crest soon to come. You’re probably paddling the Nantahala “Land of the Noonday Sun” River in nearby Western North Carolina on one of the many trips that Reinhardt Outdoors has provided students in the past. Reinhardt’s student involvement programs, like RU Outdoors, and its location nestled snugly in the North Georgia mountains, provide students with ample opportunities to get outdoors and connect with nature. Aside from obvious health and happiness, getting out in the sun provides so much more to a student: and after you learn a few skills and know where to go, you’ll quickly realize Reinhardt couldn’t be situated in a better location.
Getting outside and getting your body in tune with nature provide many benefits. Dr. Walter May, Director of Student Activities and the adviser for RU Outdoors, mentions these as he states, “There are an abundance of studies out there revealing the psychological and physical benefits of being outdoors in nature. All of the research points to the fact that the closer we are to nature, the happier we feel.” May likens nature to a powerful anti-depressant. Tommy Jenkins, a Reinhardt student who is an Eagle Scout and lifelong outdoorsman, also recalls the joys that the outdoors have brought to him when he says, “There’s a lot of time of reflection and personal development, not only as a Scout, but kind of as a person as well.” He highlights the fact that camping is a communal act, since you have to care for those around you in addition to yourself.
Reinhardt can provide a lot of those opportunities to you without much searching. The purpose of Reinhardt Outdoors is to fulfill just that. “In truth, we started Reinhardt Outdoors in 2001 as a strategy to create more weekend programming and to get students into the outdoors,” Dr. May states. This year alone, Reinhardt Outdoors offered trips including sailing off of Orange Beach in Alabama, caving at Raccoon Caverns in Chattanooga, sea kayaking near Skidaway Island, paddling the Nantahala, and kayaking on the Chattahoochee.
You have to sign up quickly to get one of the coveted spots, but the small trip size has benefits, as Dr. May mentions: “The small numbers make the trips more personal, manageable and safer. The small size allows more one-on-one attention and opportunity for mentoring and teaching.”
Freshman Avery Miller, an attendee of an RU Outdoors trip, talks about her recent tubing trip and said she plans to go on the sailing trip over spring break. “The most important things I believe I have gained (and will gain) from these trips are probably the experiences themselves.” Miller states.
“In truth, we started Reinhardt Outdoors in 2001 as a strategy to create more weekend programming and to get students into the outdoors.” –Dr. Walter May
Outside of Reinhardt Outdoors, if bubble soccer or ultimate Frisbee are more your style, then intramural sports has events for you. Also on campus are miles upon miles of biking and hiking trails, as well as camping sites that are heavily used in the fall. If you still haven’t heard anything that piques your fancy, check out some discs from RU Central and try your hand at the disc golf course.
Students always have only positive experiences to speak of when it comes to the outdoors. Miller says that the trip she went on helped her form new friendships but also introduced new experiences. Jenkins describes every minute of his time outside with a smile on his face. “We would go camping once a month…usually places that we would scope out maybe along rivers or up in the mountains somewhere. It was always a really good experience for me,” Jenkins states, grinning. “There would be times, especially later…I would freak out when I didn’t have cell service, but then I realized how good of a thing that was.” He speaks of every trip fondly and only has jokes and wisecracks about problems or bumps in the road that they overcame as Scouts.
As he is an Eagle Scout, he is also well-suited to administer advice. He says that if you’re a beginner, you should know a few things before hitting the trail. “Your biggest concern is probably your shoes,” Jenkins notes. He recommends boots that are weather-, mud-, and water-resistant. Along with that, he advises wool socks over cotton because, “while they may be a little scratchy while you’re just sitting there thinking about it, you’re going to really thank yourself when you’re walking around.” The wool purposefully wicks moisture from your feet. For backpacks, his personal preference is an external frame for more attachment points. Jenkins also makes very clear to always bring rain gear, no matter how clear you think the weather will be.
If you’re already wanting to get outdoors and about to close this article right now, May and Jenkins recommend a few locations nearby as their personal favorites. “Some of my favorite spots in North Georgia are Kennesaw Mountain National Battle Field, Vogel State Park, and Fort Mountain State Park,” May says. “In south Georgia, I really enjoy visiting Cumberland Island, Skidaway Island and Okefenokee Swamp.”
Jenkins speaks favorably of the Appalachian Trail, having covered a portion with fellow Scouts. “Panther Creek is also beautiful,” he mentions with enthusiasm. He also tells of a trip he took on the Chattooga River with family—a trip that allowed him to pick out parts of the river shown in the film Deliverance.
If you want to get started with Reinhardt Outdoors, you can check out their page on the Reinhardt website. There you’ll find trip descriptions, sign-up instructions, and more. Also available online are the pages for intramural sports and the trails on campus, but more information for these can also be found around RU Central.
Being outside will have you feeling better in no time, and here at Reinhardt, you’ll find many ways to do that. Fellow students have endorsed the great wide-open with their stamps of approval and have even given advice to get started. With our snug location in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Reinhardt and the surrounding areas provide students with many ways to get outdoors, get active, and get happy.
Film, television, and all forms of digital media now entertain and inform people around the world. The film, television and gaming industries have recently put down roots in Georgia, an up-and-comer in the entertainment industry. Due to the heightened media production in this region, many colleges and universities are furthering the development of their media and communication programs. Among those schools, Reinhardt University’s newly-renamed Communication and Media Studies department strives to provide opportunities for success for Reinhardt students. This story contains three main components: the reasons driving the growth of the Communication & Media Studies program, what Reinhardt is doing to strengthen its CMS program, and how students are benefitting from these changes.
Reinhardt University has always been an established liberal arts institution and within that framework is now focusing its efforts towards making the Communication and Media Studies department a top academic program. As pointed out by Professor Pam Wilson, CMS Program Coordinator, what makes Reinhardt University’s program so distinctive is its core focus on global and intercultural communication no matter what aspect of communication a student is interested in: “Understanding the international perspective is central to today’s world, because we live in a globalized world.”
One reason students have been very drawn to studying Communication and Media Studies is because of the rapid growth of the film and television business in nearby Atlanta. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, this boom in the Atlanta film industry has led to nearly 23,000 jobs with an average salary of $84,000. Along with digital media such as film and video production, another industry that is rapidly increasing in cultural significance — and therefore creating many career options — is digital and social media.
Professor Stephanie Marchant, an adjunct CMS professor at Reinhardt, expressed her excitement for what this could mean for the Communications and Media Studies department and explained how this has been possible. “The tax benefits here in the state of Georgia make [filming here] really attractive,” she explains. This has become even more motivation not only for studios to come to Atlanta to be a part of the industry, but for students to take interest in this course of study.
Accompanying the meteoric rise of social media, the CMS program at Reinhardt University has incorporated digital and social media into its curriculum. One of these professors who is raising the standards in the department is Dr. Wilson, who uses social media platforms such as WordPress and Facebook to further the students’ education. Dr. Wilson acknowledges the need to teach students not only how to use but also how to strategically create and manage social media. She says, “What we are teaching now in terms of technology is so different from what we started teaching when our department was created twenty years ago. In recent years, the demand for professionals in digital media management has really grown.” Dr. Wilson explains that the use of social media for integrated storytelling is a cornerstone for the interconnection of all of the communications skills: writing, visual and graphic design, photography, video and audio production, oral communication and more.
Since the demand for the development of the Communication and Media Studies program is clear, what is Reinhardt University is doing to strengthen the department? After speaking to professors in the program, I discovered that one of the main ways students can expect to see growth in the program is through increased funding for new technological tools. According to Dr. Wilson, the CMS program will be installing a new and larger Mac lab, with Adobe software, over the summer. This will be a great opportunity for the students to gain hands-on experience with top-of-the-line industry equipment in their coursework.
Marvin Monroe, a sophomore Communication major, is very excited to see this development in the program, saying, “I think the expansion was a long time coming and can only improve the department. I guess the video equipment will probably get an overhaul as well in the coming years.” This accurately reflects the feelings of many other students who are excited to start working with the new equipment, which will further the hands-on experience for which Reinhardt’s CMS is known.
A third big change that will strengthen the CMS program is the impending merger of the University’s two major sources for news: RUTV, the campus public affairs television course, with the student newspaper The Hiltonian. They will become a single online news source for the campus, to be called The Eagle Eye, based upon a recent campus-wide vote. The operations have also been moved into the CMS program and will better integrate with CMS’s journalism and media production courses.
Marvin Monroe, also this year’s Chief Editor of The Hiltonian, is very positive and thrilled to see the merger, as he believes it will make for a stronger organization in the Reinhardt community. Dr. Evan Kropp, the professor who will be in charge of the newly-merged media source The Eagle Eye, is very excited about the opportunities this will bring for both the school and the students. Kropp expressed his optimism by saying, “I think a successful student-run multimedia news outlet will also enhance the reputation of our program, further helping students market themselves as professionals.”
Another big change in Reinhardt University’s growing CMS program is the addition of faculty members who are eager to provide the best experiences for their students. Adjunct professor Marchant and full-time professor Evan Kropp joined the faculty this past fall, as did adjunct professor Amy Cox. Dr. Wilson officially announced in this interview that videographer Jeffrey Morris will join the full-time faculty of the Reinhardt Communications program for the 2016-2017 year. This represents the continual development of the program and steps towards new approaches to studying the media. They will join not only Dr. Wilson but also adjunct professors Marcia Hair, Dave Garner and John Pettibone. Current full-time professor Larry Webb will be retiring in May.
What makes the expansion of the interconnected Communication and Media Studies field at Reinhardt so exciting is how the students in these majors will benefit. Being able to learn real-world techniques in integrated storytelling — writing, design and digital media production — will advance them into their waiting careers. Another benefit for the students is the presence of increasing outlets for digital media arts. A former Reinhardt student herself, Stephanie Marchant discussed how much Reinhardt has changed and how she has a noticed a large increase in Media Studies. Professor Marchant emphasized how she is determined to provide a personal learning experience for each of her students..
Every student in the Communication & Media Studies department has a professor who serves as his or her advisor, aiding students throughout each semester and into the real world. My personal academic advisor, Dr. Kropp, who has already had a large impact in the community and department, is focused on setting students up with internships, which provide the opportunities and experiences students need for the careers they are concentrated upon. Dr. Kropp also emphasizes how Reinhardt’s faculty and staff focus on providing a personal and professional experience by saying, “Students will gain real experience and create portfolios that will help them brand and sell themselves upon graduation.”
Today, the Communication & Media Studies program at Reinhardt University is making exciting changes to keep up with the growing demands of the film, television, corporate media, digital and social media industries. This story serves to inspire those who are interested in being a part of a high-quality field of study that is constantly growing and adapting to match itself with these emerging professions.
Photographs by Keren H. Morales
I’m doing it all for them, he thinks. With a backpack on his back, his family walks with him in the crowded, noisy airport. They reach the point where he has to say goodbye. He knows his mom is already crying. His eyes swell with tears, and suddenly he doesn’t hear the commotion going on around them. He approaches his gate slowly, knowing what he plans to do, and boards.
Flash forward a couple of months. Number Five, Daniel Rodriguez, steps up to bat. It’s the ninth inning, and Reinhardt is down 1-2 to Ave Maria Gyrenes. Reinhardt has a man on second and two outs. The pitcher prepares and throws the ball. Rodriguez singles up to right field, gets an RBI, and allows fellow teammate Jimmy Kelley to score the tying run. The rest is history for Reinhardt University.
Many things make Reinhardt University—the beautiful campus, the wonderful academic programs—but it is the people of Reinhardt that make it what it is: the faculty, the staff, and the students give this university the character it radiates. Students from all over the world come to Reinhardt’s campus in hopes of achieving something greater and bigger for their futures, in hopes that they’ll be able to reach their dream and make that dream tangible, resulting in Reinhardt students that are motivated and driven on a global level.
Their origins, the careful upbringings, and the hardships are all a portion of what makes these students Reinhardt students. Thanks to Reinhardt University, Daniel Rodriguez is one of the fortunate students that got the opportunity to come study in the States in the hopes of achieving the dream he has held since he was a young boy: to sign with a professional baseball team.
Rodriguez was born in Panama City, Panama—”not the Panama City everyone knows, where people go to party during Spring Break,” he jokes—where he began playing baseball seriously and competitively.
He stated, “I started where my grandmother lives, in the countryside,” but he later realized that he wanted more. “I just wanted to keep playing,” he informed me, “during school, during the whole year.”
So his parents took his desire into consideration and decided to enroll him at an academy back in the city of Panama so he could have the opportunity to play year-round. Ever since then, his whole life has revolved around baseball. In his later years, he even ended up playing for the national baseball team in Panama, winning the championship there and being awarded the MVP. He became well-known and relatively successful in his country, which ultimately pushed him and motivated him to further his career.
Reinhardt’s Coach Al Bell was a key person in making the move for students to come study here. “I’ve been helping kids get into college for over twenty-five years,” he said to me. Coach Bell has to travel often back and forth in order to find these students that are talented, hard-working, and humble—as a former baseball player, he knows exactly what to look for—and this is what he found in Daniel and other recruits.
What motivated Rodriguez to move here to the States and play on a team here? In Panama, kids don’t get the same opportunity people get here in the USA, he said. Student athletes are offered different scholarships from different schools, and they can pick whichever one they want to go to. In Panama, Rodriguez notes, they are lucky when they get that shot, because it is not guaranteed. An athlete like Daniel Rodriguez must choose either his sport or his studies, because in Panama, an athlete cannot do both. Coach Bell knew this and took the opportunity to help the kids out.
Rodriguez wanted to sign professionally, but the offer that he got was not “good money,” he said. When he later got the opportunity to come to the US—by means of connections and Coach Bell—and try out for a college team, he realized that it was important that he study first, and then sign professionally later. This is what he hopes for and expects from his collegiate experience.
As a team, the Reinhardt baseball athletes strive to thrive.
“We work hard,” Rodriguez explained about the team. “My teammates are really great, and I get along well with them all, and I’ve made great friends with them.”
The relationships he’s made while being here have helped him get past the curveballs that life has thrown at him. “We all share the same feelings (about the sport)…. I’ve liked getting to know these people,” he affirmed.
The desire to get the championship ring this season is mutual. “We all want it. Hell, yeah, we want it!” He explained that the team is really capable and willing to work hard enough to accomplish the goal. Bringing the ring to Reinhardt for the first time in history would be an achievement that could be long-lasting for all the team members. After joking that if he won the ring, he’d pawn it and get a load of money, Rodriguez stated that, personally, it would make his parents proud of him and it would be an incredible story to tell his children later on.
Rodriguez tries to remain positive throughout this season, and this experience in general. Moving to a new country with a completely different culture, all the while trying to learn how to communicate, is never easy for anyone, especially for students. However, Reinhardt University—thanks to its faculty and staff—has provided a home-like environment which has aided in Rodriguez’s career here as a student, as an athlete, and as a person.
by Matthew Sims
It’s five a.m., and the sounds of a raging iPhone alarm force my feet to the cold tile ground. Even though I must feel this same feeling time and time again, it still sends an icy sensation down my spine.
It’s five o’clock in the morning as you prepare for practice, still exhausted from the previous day, rushing trying to grab all the things that you need so you can receive treatment before practice.
It’s 7:00 a.m. Practice is over, so you hastily make your way to the dining hall to get some breakfast before your first class at 8:00 a.m. Rushing back to the room to shower, stumbling over yourself trying to get dressed, then you run out the door and dash across campus to your first class.
Now, after a day of classes, it’s 5:00 p.m. Still exhausted from the too–early morning, you make your way down to the library for study hall, struggling to keep your eyes open while trying to type a five-page paper that is due the next day.
It’s 8:00 p.m. After you make your way back to the room, drained from a long and stressful day, you sit down to take a breather and rest, trying not to fall asleep, knowing that you still have work to finish.
It’s 10:00 p.m. After taking a long and much-needed shower, you prepare for bed. Lying in bed, you check your social media and your email.
It’s 11:00 p.m. After setting your many alarms for the morning, you go to sleep and prepare to repeat the same process the next morning.
The life of a college athlete at Reinhardt is not an easy one. It’s a life filled with long days and nights of hard work, constantly battling with keeping up with school work and practice. Reinhardt has a variety of sports that people love to play, but the athletes will tell you that it’s not the same as when they used to play in high school or when they were younger. Even though they still love to play the sport, most will say it’s a love-hate relationship once you are at the collegiate level. As a college athlete, many things that people ask me are: how do you manage your time? Why do you do it? Is it worth it?
Most students participating in sports at Reinhardt have been playing since they were either little kids or in high school. After playing for so long, they have developed some type of time management. Devin Francois, a student at Reinhardt, grew up playing football since he was four years old. Devin said that one of the hardest things that he has to worry about, besides practice, is managing his time, because school and football take up so much of his time he rarely has any time to just sit back and relax, as he said so miserably.
Many other athletes just like Devin are faced with this same problem. Every day, their schedule is filled from the time they wake up to the time that they go to sleep. Just like a job, being a college athlete requires all your time and commitment. Angela Roberts, a softball player at Reinhardt University also states that she never has time to sit back and relax. She often has to leave to go on the road because of games.
As an athlete, one of the questions that I hear people ask the most is “Why do you do it”? All the time, I hear even athletes complain about how hard and stressful their sport is, and when I hear this I can’t help but ask why? Why would you put yourself through something like that? After all of the running practices, cuts, and bruises, they continue to play.
Most athletes will say they do it because it is something that they have been doing ever since they were little kids, and they have always had dreams of playing in college like some of their idols. Some say that they do it because they have dreams of someday going pro, and playing in college helps increases their chances.
Cameron James, a baseball player at Reinhardt, said enthusiastically that he loves to play the game. He first started playing when he was four years old and feels as if it was his obligation to play in college. Cameron feels as if he has put in too much work to not play in college.
After talking to several other athletes, I kept on getting the same response on why they do it. Most say they have always had dreams of playing in college, or it helps pay for school. Richard Willborn, a football player at Reinhardt, surprised me with his response, “I not only do it to better myself, but to one day be able to give back to my family, especially my mother who worked so hard for me to be where I am now.”
As a college athlete, you will meet people from all different types of backgrounds who all have different reasons for why they put in the work and why they put in the many long stressful hours that it takes to be a collegiate athlete. For many people, sports are an outlet to help athletes get away from their current situation or make a better way for themselves and their loved ones.
Time management is a huge factor in the lives of athletes. Many sacrifices must be made in the athlete’s life, since one can’t focus on so many things at once. Athletes’ reasons for putting themselves through such hard times may vary. It may be for family matters, to stay out of trouble, or otherwise.
Though it’s hard, most athletes will tell you it’s definitely worth it in the end. “If it wasn’t worth it, I wouldn’t be doing it,” says Devin Francois.
Even though being a college athlete is hard — you are always constantly trying to manage your time, always asking yourself, “Why do I put myself through this, and is it really worth it? — you can’t help but think about all of the good memories that you have with your team. I’d like to end with a quote from an anonymous source that has been spread throughout the athletic community, and which will make every athlete stop and think:
“One day, you won’t be an athlete anymore. You won’t have those long bus rides with your teammates. You won’t have those bruises all over your body. You won’t have that routine you do before every game. Your teammates will become distant and your laughs will become limited. Eventually, the one thing you looked forward to will come to an end. The one thing you relied on to relieve your stress and allow you to escape from your problems won’t always be there. One day, you won’t be an athlete; you will just have the memories of one.”
I walk into a large room with echoes of vibrating guitar strings accompanied by soft and passionate singing voices. Some people stand with their arms awkwardly across their body, while others hold their palms out to the sky, singing with emotion. The worship band plays familiar songs with words displayed so that everyone can sing along. The room is not full, but a good number of students are present. The smell of brewed coffee fills the air. I find myself here on a Wednesday night to fulfill my religious duties. Like a few others, Wednesday nights were always designated as church-attending nights for me when I was growing up. Here at Reinhardt, Common Ground and various other religious events give students an outlet to practice their faith and grow in community with other students who share the same religion.
Multiple people who have a role in the religious life here on campus were willing to sit down and talk about the many factors that go into religious life at Reinhardt. On this campus, many students have the desire and need to find others with whom they can relate regarding their faith.
One of the people who cares and thinks most about religious life on the Reinhardt campus is Reverend Jordan Thrasher. He is the Chaplain and Reverend on campus, which is a job with many roles. He serves as a counselor, an organizer, a Pastor, and a friendly companion to all of the students here at Reinhardt. Thrasher and I sat down together in Gordy Dining Hall for lunch and chatted about the many things he does as the Chaplain of the school.
“This is my third year at Reinhardt, and I knew I had wanted to eventually be a Chaplain of a school,” Thrasher explained. We talked about some of his goals for the school when he began this position. “I really wanted to build a community and connect groups of people that may not have connected before. I wanted faith to be seen as something that was a vital part of a student’s lifestyle. I also just wanted to be there for any student that needs help,” Thrasher said with great enthusiasm. He spoke with a lot of passion about his Chaplain role.
We went on to talk about Common Ground, which is a worship service on Wednesday nights for any student that would like to attend. Even though there is a Methodist theme to the service, students of any denomination or religion are welcomed and encouraged to attend.
“It was actually first named ‘Real Deal’, but I renamed it to Common Ground. I wanted the name to sound welcoming and reflect the things that we preach. It’s somewhere that any student can come and feel safe, no matter what their background is. I made a few changes from what it was originally: stages, speakers, multiple worship leaders. I took away the stage because I didn’t want the people attending to feel separate or less important than the worship leaders and speakers. I also added communion to remind students of the sacrifice that was made for us,” Thrasher explained. We laughed a lot as we talked about these services since we could both relate to being students who attended services much like Common Ground on Wednesday nights.
If Common Ground isn’t something that works with your schedule but you still want to be a part of religious life here, there is also Wesley Bible Study, Men’s Accountability Group, and a Catholic group that get together weekly. Going to Bible Study is a good way to start regularly reading the Bible, even if it can be intimidating at first. Men’s Accountability was created by Reinhardt student Brooks Hanson to gather men at Reinhardt to help each other be accountable. If you are Catholic, the Catholic group meets weekly and studies the Bible together while conducting a Mass. Thrasher also expressed interest in having Jewish and Muslim students form their own religious gatherings so they can also have an outlet for a community of their faith.
As he considered how he thought students enjoy the religious life events, Thrasher noted, “I think a lot of them don’t actually know about them,” he laughed, “but for the ones who do, I know many can feel pretty uncomfortable when they come to events, especially when the Bible is actually used. For some students, they might feel guilty about decisions they’ve made and don’t want to face the morals and lessons they grew up learning and decide to avoid it completely and never show up to these things.”
Would Thrasher like to change anything about the religious community at Reinhardt? “A lot of times, students show up to college and think that their faith is already fully formed and [that they don’t] need any more growth, and I want to change that way of thinking. I want them to understand that their faith is never done growing. I also want to change the opinion that students think I’m judgmental, which prevents them from showing up to religious events. They need to understand that I’m for them, not against them. I want to see growth throughout the whole student body, spiritually and in so many other aspects, because I know that it will benefit the school as a whole,” Thrasher concluded. It is evident that he cares immensely for the student body and the whole school itself.
Reinhardt student Tori Windmiller has been a part of the worship band at Common Ground for about a year now. She also helps lead other various religious activities on campus. Tori explained, “I think that religious events form community, and I think that community is extremely beneficial for college students. It’s nice to have a place you can come to be yourself and talk about things you’ve been going through,” she said with enthusiasm when asked why she thought religious events were important. Windmiller talked about how the many Christian communities she has been a part of throughout her life have helped her grow as a person.
“I’ve learned so much about myself through other people that I’ve been involved with through religious groups. I think community is a vital part of a Christian’s growing faith. That’s why it’s my hope for more students to attend these events,” she explained with an obvious passion. Students like Tori are lucky to be involved in this religious community, considering that there are a lot of students at Reinhardt who long for a community such as this.
Student Brandi MacNtyre occasionally attends religious events at Reinhardt. She explained how it took her a while to get involved. “Honestly, I didn’t even know that there were any religious events on campus for a while. I was kind of disappointed because I’ve always been a part of church groups throughout my life. But when I found out there was Common Ground, I started to attend regularly.” MacNtyre laughed at the fact that it took her so long to find out about it. “They don’t really advertise it that much.” Like McNtyre, many other students say that they don’t know about the religious events either.
“Sometimes I feel awkward when I come to religious events, but most of the people [at Common Ground] are very welcoming,” MacNtyre responded when asked about her experience the first time she went. “I do enjoy going to Common Ground now that I attend quite a bit. It gives me an outlet to express my faith and commune with people who share my beliefs and who can help me through my struggles.”
Reinhardt has multiple religious events for any student who is interested. Although they may need more advertisement, students can find community, accountability, and tradition at these weekly gatherings that may help them get through the week. In the long run, expanding these gatherings can create a greater sense of belonging and community within our student body and our school as a whole. Go out and try one of these events whether you haven’t been to church in a while or you just went yesterday! See how religious community can help you grow.
By Caleb Smith
Throughout our college experience, we are constantly evolving along with the world. Whether it regards new technology, natural disasters, or social controversy, we are repeatedly experiencing change.
Our generation is faced with controversial issues such as police brutality, student-athlete strikes, protests, and world poverty. However, a plethora of students and faculty here at Reinhardt have not only become aware of social injustices but have also grown a desire to place themselves at the forefront of addressing and solving those injustices, as well. As college students, we have two choices – either waiting for someone to solve our issues, or become activists for social and cultural change.
Recently on campus, University Chaplain Rev. Jordan Thrasher and faculty member Dr. Cheryl Brown have each taken a lead in hosting a number of significant events in order to raise social consciousness regarding current global plights.
If you have ever met Dr. Brown, or if you’ve heard anyone mention her name throughout the school, you know that people cannot help but to talk about her infectious spirit. Freshman Garrison Williams confided in me, “When I first found out that I was taking Sociology, I was fearful that I would finish the course with a low grade in response to the majority of students expressing the high level of difficulty of work. But thanks to Dr. Brown, she made the classroom a place to open your mind and to express one’s thoughts, so I truly enjoyed the class.” Although Dr. Brown has served as a Sociology professor at Reinhardt for only four years, she has already made quite a positive impact not only as a result of raising cultural awareness, but also by leading mission trips with Reinhardt students in Mexico.
Dr. Brown herself expressed to me that her inspiration for cultural awareness derives from her profession as a Sociologist. Dr. Brown exclaimed, “Life is Sociology, and in life, we encounter reality checks. Through events such as the Year of Mexico, students immediately learn how fortunate they are compared to the less fortunate in neighboring countries.”
Mexico is this year’s international focus on campus; each year, Reinhardt chooses a different area of the world as a theme for global learning. Events often include festivals, speakers, and other activities for student engagement. This year, Dr. Brown headed the Year of Mexico program and added a service component to implement wells throughout selected Mexican towns. With campus events like the Year of Mexico, both students and faculty were able to generate thousands of dollars and also supply water to impoverished rural towns in Mexico.
At the Year of Mexico Festival in September, Reinhardt students were able to have an up-close encounter with Mexican food, music, dance, and art located outside of the Glasshouse. Student Michael Walker stated, “Experiencing The Year of Mexico was amazing, because I learned that here at Reinhardt, we can create change and help people throughout the world.” Furthermore, Dr. Brown later exclaimed, “Thinking outside of the box, learning, and breaking down social barriers is what college is all about, so we have to take advantage of the opportunities that are placed before us.”
Another individual who is currently working to break down social barriers at Reinhardt is school chaplain Rev. Jordan Thrasher. In the course of one’s college experience at this great university, it is nearly impossible to avoid coming into some form of contact with Rev. Thrasher. Moreover, Thrasher is known for his wit, great sense of style, and a down-to-earth personality.
Thrasher is responsible for the film series held at FPAC last semester. Via award-winning films such as Selma and The Hunting Ground, students become knowledgeable about social issues that create a hindrance to potentially reaching social justice. Thrasher exclaims, “There is a danger of only knowing one story. The film series presents hard conversations.”
Thrasher has also been inspired to become a social activist since he views his role as school chaplain as vital in helping develop students’ spiritual growth, which collectively builds a stronger community. When asked why students should desire becoming college activists to create change, Thrasher states, “It is part of being human and coming together…. Being involved with others for a common cause allows students to break out of cliques and become one.”
According to The Los Angeles Times, a “new wave” of college activism is spreading through American university campuses. One of the most notable recent incidents was at the University of Missouri in the fall of 2015, when students protested the administration’s lack of adequate leadership in addressing racial tension on campus. Since the subsequent resignation of Missouri president Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, more than 100 colleges and universities have started to organize protests nationwide to support the #blacklivesmatter and other movements.
Recent successful protests like at the University of Missouri have caused students at Reinhardt to approach college activism with an optimistic mindset. Student Scooter Williams states, “As a result of the Missouri protests, my peers and I now see the power in our voice; we can actually create the necessary change required by boldly voicing our opinion if we witness social injustices occur.”
Although there is currently no need for hunger strikes or rallies, Reinhardt students are learning to voice their ideas, hopes and concerns through channels like the SGA and other avenues to student leadership. We are also beginning to understand the significance of becoming more aware of social injustices and of doing whatever is necessary in order to help solve social problems, both at home and abroad, such as in Mexico.
In closing, we are constantly progressing not only as a society but also as human beings. Our college experience at Reinhardt places us in a very unique environment. Here, we can grow and share a close bond that could serve as a potential factor for the betterment of the globe. But it is up to us to voice our beliefs and demand change regarding world issues such as police brutality, racial discrimination, and world poverty.
Photos by Elizabeth Quintanilla
Another long day of repetitive lectures has been completed, and all I want is to eat a good meal, snuggle into bed, and binge-watch my shows. As I approach Gordy, the scent is already leaking out of the walls and floating in the wind straight into my face. My face cringes as soon as the familiar odor collides with my nose. I open the doors and, to my disappointment, my premonitions were correct. The guy in front of me shares my thoughts, as he exhales, “Not again, it’s the third time this week!”
Chicken, once again, good ole baked and fried. My stomach is still recovering from yesterday’s altercation with the dry baked chicken. As much as my insides want to strangle me, I can’t starve myself. I greet Ms. Portia with a smile. “How are you doing, Ms. Portia?” I ask. If I don’t, she will not serve me, and I will have no choice but to starve. She serves my plate. I thank her, turn around, and find a place to sit. I sluggishly sit down and brace myself for something all too familiar.
Going off to college is obviously already scary enough. For many, it’s the first time away from home and living completely on your own. The responsibility of becoming an “adult” is not fun. It makes one really realize how easy it was at home and how many of us were very fortunate — and very lazy. College students, fond of their meals, become sensitive when those meals are threatened.
The members of the student body of Reinhardt University are not afraid to voice their opinion. After chatting with several students, they all had similar responses: we need change. Everybody is different, as seen in the way people dress, the type of music they listen to, the TV shows they watch, and how they speak. So, obviously, different students will have different meal preferences. Gordy needs a variety of food to match its variety of consumers.
“I eat Gordy because it’s free,” says international student Joe English. Many students eat at Gordy because being a college student is not cheap and no one can afford eating out every day. Instead of running their bank accounts dry, students must flock to what is “free” whether they like it or not. Of course, Gordy only seems “free” because for the students that live on campus, it is included in their room & board fee, like a package deal. Room & board may vary from $3,860 to about $5,250, all depending on where you decide to live on campus, and Gordy’s meal plan is included. So it is not technically free, because we pay for it in our fees. However, unlike the commuters, students that live on campus don’t have to pay every time they eat at Gordy, so we don’t feel like we are spending money on it daily.
Since the students are paying for their meal plan, the choices about what they want to see should be reflected on the menu.
“I have no food choices I can eat from!” exclaims freshman Sydney Jacobs. “I’m a vegetarian, but Gordy doesn’t have much food I can eat. I’m tired of only having a salad, soup, and maybe some pasta to choose from.” She feels as if she cannot eat anything and is forced to eat out at restaurants at times.
After speaking with Sydney, I became curious as to how many other people might be vegetarians or trying to follow some kind of diet with which they are struggling due to Gordy’s lack of creativity. To my surprise, there were other vegetarian students that wish the Gordy meal choices were more diverse.
“An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but I don’t want to eat one every day!” explains sophomore Hannah Hale. “The only fruits Gordy ever really has are bananas and apples,” she explains with a frown.
To find an example of how other universities provide more diverse food choices, I researched UGA’s dining experience. The University of Georgia provides its students with an abundance of nutritious choices and a variety of foods. Dining on the UGA meal plan gives its students the opportunity to choose from a variety of healthy options daily, within each dining commons. The campus meal service provides menu symbols to help students identify foods with certain nutritional qualities. Some examples of what these symbols would say are: Heart Healthy (fewer than 10% of calories from saturated fat, fewer than 0.5 grams of trans fat, fewer than 480 mg of sodium), Meatless, and Vegan. That is only a small portion of what UGA provides its students.
Hearing all of these concerns, I decided to sit down with Mr. David Leopard, Reinhardt’s Vice President for Finance and Administration, to discuss what changes might be made.
Leopard agrees with the students and shares some of their feelings.“When we have tilapia every Friday, I have to let them know, [because] it gets boring!” chuckles Leopard. He mentions how he tries to eat at Gordy 4-5 times a week so he can oversee what is going on and what changes need to be made.
A big project he mentions, which I know many students will be ecstatic about, is the upcoming expansion of Gordy Dining Hall. He says, “In order to make more space for more food booths, we are going to expand Gordy into the parking lot and turn that section into a more private dining area.”
When he starts talking about the new and improved Gordy, my eyes light up! He goes on to answer all the questions students are dying to know. The growth of Gordy will provide more space for new food stations. Leopard mentions that these new stations will include gluten-free foods, vegetarian foods (for our vegetarian friends like Sydney Jacobs), and an international section for our abundance of international students. He also hopes the international booth will immerse Reinhardt students into new cultures and open up their minds about trying new things.
Leopard notes that Reinhardt is now licensed by the state of Georgia to grow its own herbs and spices on campus in our greenhouses. “I want to bring freshly cooked and healthy food choices to Gordy. Growing our own herbs and spices is much more fresh than condiments that have been sitting on a shelf for a year,” he says, sitting up straighter with an empowering voice.
Going along with having a fresher and wider variety of foods, Leopard mentions that more branded foods will find their way to Gordy, but he cannot say which ones at this moment. He also wants students to reach out to him during this time of change and tell him what they want to see more or less of, noting, “My door is always open to students, and they can email me their thoughts and concerns.”
While Reinhardt is renewing its contract with Sodexo Dining, Leopard is also looking at other companies that will contribute as well. Construction will begin on this “dream Gordy” next summer, 2017, so the wait is nearly over, and all our prayers and wishes will come true.
Each of us has our own story, and we express that through the everyday things we do. That being said, not all of us enjoy consuming the same things. Getting feedback and ideas from students would be a great way to start improving Gordy, and David Leopard wants to hear those ideas, because he wants to make Gordy as enjoyable to the student body as possible. His email is DRL@reinhardt.edu.
Therefore, it is up to us as students to step up and make changes: now is the time. We and future students will very much appreciate it — and I know our stomachs will as well. Food is very important. It keeps us going and keeps us happy. We are what we eat. And, honestly, I’m tired of being chicken.
Studying in the U.S. at Reinhardt University as an international student gives me many benefits. Being a student at Reinhardt University could open many doors in the future for me and for other international students who come from countries around the globe. International students decide to come to America to get a good education; we have chosen to learn in the competitive environment that Reinhardt provides. I am a member of Reinhardt’s Women’s Tennis team. The combination of academic study and athletics provides a chance for students like me to continue doing what we loved during our childhoods, but also the opportunity to develop our futures as well.
However, coming to school in America is a big challenge for us because we left all our old lives behind when each of us started a new life in a new place without knowing anybody. The three types of benefits from this challenge all international students face include receiving financial incentives, learning a new language, and developing life skills.
In my country (Israel), after high school, it is mandatory for everyone to serve in the army. We do not have any framework that supports athletes in this way. Some of the athletes quit right after high school because colleges do not have sports teams. In order to continue to play sports, athletes must become professionals. American colleges like Reinhardt become a great solution for us since they allow us to continue to play and to study at the same time.
The choice to study in America for many international students comes from economic reasons. American colleges often offer international students full scholarships. The scholarships cover tuition, housing, and meal plans. In Israel, my friends have to study and work at the same time to pay for a university education.
My brother Daniel is going to graduate this summer from a university in Israel, and during the past three years, he worked so hard to pay for his apartment, car, and food. He says, “Here in Israel, I’m busy with assignments and tests, and it is hard to think how to support myself every month. I worry about how to pay on time to keep my apartment rent and study at the same time.” Here at Reinhardt, unlike my brother, because of my scholarships, I can focus on my studies and athletic practice instead of other problems, and I do not have to worry about payments every month.
A second benefit of studying abroad is on-site language learning. English has taken over the world in recent years, so committing to learn this language is a necessary tool for those of us raised with other languages. Progress and economic development require English proficiency.
In the beginning, when we arrive at Reinhardt, most of us international students find that people around here speak differently than we are used to. It is hard for us to express ourselves, but after a while, we learn how to deal with the new life and language. The only choice we have is to communicate using the language of the country we are now living in rather than our home language. The best way to learn a language is to be immersed in a culture where people around us speak only that language. We foreign students will now be able to communicate with English-speaking people effectively, which is essential since English plays a very vital role in our global society.
The most important benefit of learning the English language is to broaden our employment opportunities. Because English is considered the global business language, people who speak two or more languages (English being one) are often ideal candidates for business. Reinhardt provides classes in English for international students and also has the Student Success Center which has tutors to help with academic issues that are more challenging because of language barriers.
Albane Queinnec, who came to Reinhardt from France to play on the women’s tennis team, talked about her experience at Reinhardt as a freshman. She said, “I am finding myself challenged every day, which is good. I am improving my second language, and I really like to study at Reinhardt. The classes are not as big as in France, so I can get more personal treatment, and I feel good studying in a different way, far from my family. I feel good as a part of the Reinhardt family. This kind of place makes you feel good about the people around. I am not feeling totally lost as I would in a big school.”
Another of my tennis teammates, Nicolas Duarte from Colombia, also talked about his experience at Reinhardt. “This school is a perfect place to grow personally and professionally. It is definitely a challenge to study in another language, but at the same time, all the experiences are going to help me in the future.”
For those of us who decide to study far away and to take the risk of starting a new life in a different place, we gain life skills for our futures. Distance from home can also be seen as a way to teach lessons of self-sufficiency that may expedite the transition into independence for us as new college students. We are forced to use our immediate resources to solve problems on our own.
We learn how to be more responsible about our lives. We are the only ones who manage our time because we have to deal with many things at the same time. We need to practice organizing our schedules every day. As a tennis player at Reinhardt, I have noticed that tennis season in the winter is rainy, and games during the weekends sometimes have to be rescheduled for other days, so we have to deal with finishing assignments and taking tests on time, managing our schedule according to the week, and dealing with shifts every time something changes.
According to Tunji Adesesan, the director of Reinhardt’s Academic Support Office, “The ASO provides academic coaching to international students. Academic coaching helps students to learn skills, strategies, structure and also support, which are essential components of academic success. International students are often faced with problems of adjustment, which can be addressed through academic coaching.”
In addition, Adesesan says, “The one-on-one meeting between the coach and the student helps the student to be able to express their concerns, and those concerns are forwarded into actions that are addressed by the students through resources available on campus.”
While many challenges come with going to school abroad, there are many benefits, which include language learning, developing life skills, and financial incentives. Full scholarships give international students like me more financial freedom. Being immersed in the English language has increased my fluency, both written and spoken. Lastly, as an international college student, I am gaining more independence and responsibility. Studying at Reinhardt could open many doors in my future.
By: Casimir Isles
Sharing a collective hardship or adversity can promote camaraderie among people. A great way to experience this friendship building is through team sports and activities. Reinhardt University provides ample opportunities for students to become involved in numerous team events. Many students have formed close-knit bonds over the years at Reinhardt through cooperation in school events. Reinhardt also offers intramural sports as well as school-sponsored competitive sports teams.
Many school events that are hosted by Reinhardt have brought people closer together, especially when teamwork is a requirement. Aakim Wise, a freshman at Reinhardt University, did not know many people upon arriving at Reinhardt. However, that changed for him after he signed up for Reinhardt’s 3v3 basketball tournament. There, he was paired up with Steve Thomas and Austin Johnson. They worked together to compete with other teams and had fun while doing so. The three were able to grow a close friendship by the tournament’s end, and they still spend time with each other to this day. Aakim even went on to say, “I’m happy I signed up for the tournament. Even though we didn’t win, I still won some friends for life.”
Another school event that brings a few new friends together is Reinhardt’s bubble soccer event. Students flock to the basketball gym to engage in the entertainment whether it be as a player or a spectator. Even when people are launching their bodies in large plastic bubbles, you can still see friendly bonds growing.
Isiah Britt was one of those people who made a few new companions in this rambunctious activity. The whole auditorium erupted in laughter and shrieks as students collided into each other, knocking each other down in an attempt to score a goal. Even though the game was not a serious competition, people were simply having fun with one another while playing and watching the silly game. Isaiah became good friends with one of his opponents as they competed to take each other down as many times as possible. It was definitely a sight to behold as the two players would try to surprise attack each other by running full speed ahead and launch their opponent to the ground. It was hard to tell who was enjoying the fun more the players or the crowd. All we know is that a lot of people were able to bond over it.
Teammates on Reinhardt’s football team. Photograph by Stephanie Scott, Reinhardt Football.
Team sports are also a great way to form lasting bonds with people who once started off as complete strangers. Furthermore, they allow for students to form fraternal bonds that are needed for their group to work more efficiently. Schuyler Martin, an offensive tackle for the Reinhardt football team, has experienced that bond first-hand. He expressed the deep compassion and love for his teammates that he formed in his one season with the football team. Schuyler believes that the bonding comes from all the hardships that teammates must overcome during the difficult preparations required to be a collegiate football team together. It is one thing to experience destitutions on your own, but seeing someone else going through the same thing allows you to relate to them.
“When it’s freezing cold outside, we have to practice together; when we have 6 a.m workouts, we work out together. Even when we have study hall, we study together,” comments Schuyler. Spending countless hours working with the same group of people, you are bound to create close relations with each other. Sports that require team chemistry will often see this bonding transpire and will benefit greatly from it.
Coach Alex Derenthal, Reinhardt’s strength coach, comments on this topic by saying, “I’ve been through the same grind having to get up early to run, lift weights, and being pushed until I absolutely think I can’t go any more. The only thing that got me through were my brothers right there beside me.”
Even teams that compete individually can relate to the experience of bonding through adversity. One example is track and cross country. Anna Mills, a cross country and track runner for Reinhardt, says she is very close to her teammates, especially the ones she has to compete with. She says, “At an event, yeah, I treat them like any other opponent. I want to beat them. But once we’re done, I congratulate and encourage them.”
Although athletes can be highly competitive, they are still able to show camaraderie to each other. Seeing someone compete to the best of their ability, even when it is one’s opponent, draws a large amount of respect among true competitors. This competitive respect can also lead to comradeship.
Reinhardt has a large group of students who compete for the school in their respective sports. This allows them to experience the hardships of being a student-athlete together and to become closer for it. It does not matter whether you are competing for a national championship or $25 gift card; the important thing is to always enjoy the people around you. Forming new bonds and making new friends is a part of the Reinhardt experience.