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Delta Phi Epsilon (DPE)

When Jacqui Finston and Maggie Donahue received an email two years ago about starting a chapter of the Delta Phi Epsilon fraternity at JMU, the process of registering with Be Involved and Student Activities and Involvement began.

Meadow Wiggington, a senior political science major and co-president of DPE, was good friends with Finston and wanted to change her major to international relations or political science.

“It was kind of, like, the best way to get into it because with DPE you find all of the people that are exactly the same as you in the sense of, like, passions of being a part of the international community or working for service for people overseas and so, I thought it would be a good way to get into it,” Wiggington says.

DPE is a professional foreign service fraternity and is only the 18th chapter ever, nationally. Wiggington calls the chapter “very bare bones” as the fraternity was established with no constitution or bylaws.

“What I say is that DPE is about people who wanna serve in an international capacity, so we don’t have just polisci majors or international affairs majors, we have health services administration, we have pre-PA people, we have health sciences because they just wanna focus on some things abroad, which is pretty much the broad scheme of what we wanna do is know that we have a domestic [presence] here as, like, American citizens, but we also are part of a bigger community that people like to forget about, which is our world community. So, DPE is a place where people can find other people that wanna do that,” Wiggington says.

Almost every member of the fraternity has traveled or studied abroad — there are about 54 active members — which Wiggington wants to display to students who decide to rush in the spring.

“We’re gonna come with a really big map and put pins everywhere we’ve been because … we’ve been I think [to] over 100 countries … DPE is a place to find people who wanna do things like that and to travel,” Wiggington says.

DPE does a lot together including routinely studying together at the library, an upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., and going to events in the Harrisonburg area.

DPE went to Rocktown Rallies for Refugees which is a refugee welcome party. About 20 or 30 of DPE’s members attended the event a few weeks ago.

“A lot of people don’t know that Harrisonburg is predominantly a resettlement area for both Syrian refugees and [African] refugees, so … they put on a party to make sure people feel welcome in our community, that they get to meet and see familiar faces,” Wiggington says.

Besides Rocktown Rallies for Refugees, DPE is involved in Fostering Abyssinia, an organization that raises money and other types of funding for the world’s oldest orphanage in Ethiopia. Fostering Abyssinia held a chewata night which DPE attended, at which they raised money by eating Ethiopian food and dancing.

Wiggington recalls seeing all of the different pledge classes in their different colored letters.

“It’s really nice to know that the Gammas … the Gamma class is just as into it as the Alpha class was, if not more, like, seeing the passion continue on through the lines is really awesome,” Wiggington says.

As a member of the Alpha class, Wiggington has high hopes for the future of the organization that she’s so passionate about. Ideally, she hopes for DPE to be a prominent organization in the political science department with composites around the political science building, such as business fraternity composites adorning the walls of Showker.

Wiggington wants DPE to be “something that you [want to] strive to be in in the political science department or even be in as someone who wants to work internationally because for example, at, like, American [University] or GW they’re … the hardest organizations to get in on campus, like American [University] only accepts people with a 3.5 or up GPA … I want it to be … as prestigious as that.”

She also wants DPE to be selective in choosing passionate and intellectual members.

“I know it helps me to be surrounded by those people ’cause it motivates me better and [to] do what I want to do in life, but also I really want it to have … a sturdy foundation,” Wiggington says.

In the two short years that Wiggington has been a member and leader of DPE, she already feels the importance of the fraternity in her life.

“Even being surrounded by people, like that changes you, so that’s why DPE has been so good for me personally is they have changed me into a better person or a more worldly and open minded person,” Wiggington says. “Which I think is a crucial characteristic of especially millennials because we’re literally the next generation of change and being open minded and having those ideals of knowing that our culture isn’t the only one out there or that, like, everyone’s different, is really important.”

 

Photo provided by: Mikaela Briones, sophomore International Affairs and French double major. Taken in Budapest, Hungary.

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University Program Board (UPB)

I spoke with senior Liza Miller, president of University Program Board (UPB) recently. Here’s what she had to say:

How did you get involved in UPB?

So, I’m a senior this year and I actually just gave this spiel at the open house this weekend. But so my freshman year I came in and high school I was super involved in, like, so many different things, but I was, like, super burnt out and so I really wanted to get involved in just one organization and I had a really good friend who was two years older than me — and he went to my high school — and he was like, ‘Oh, are you looking to get involved?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah!’ He was like, ‘You should apply to this cool organization I’m a part of and just see’ and so I was like, ‘OK.’ So, I joined UPB, got in my freshman year — fall semester — and since then, I’ve been in a bunch of, like, leadership positions within the organization and its been an awesome, I guess, past three and a half years so far and it was awesome just to meet so many different people with different majors with different backgrounds and some of the people that are in UPB, one of our directors, she was in my interviewing group and now she’s on exec with me this year and … we’re like best friends now, we met through interviewing for UPB, so it’s pretty cool to come, like, full circle and meet so many different people that are, like, have come and gone and, like, new members that are coming in so, it’s really cool.

What other facets does UPB encompass beside concerts?

Yeah, so we have an executive board of 14 students and then we have a grad assistant and then a coordinator. So our coordinator pretty much, her full-time job is to oversee us and that we’re spending our money in the right ways and help us with decisions, but she’s also just a great resource to go to about a bunch of different other things — her name’s Anna — and then our grad assistant is usually somebody who’s in, like, a student affairs grad school program — not always, but usually they are — and her name’s Courtney this year and she’s actually a double Duke, so it’s kinda cool to have her, she went through JMU undergrad, took a year or two off and came back, so she know’s a lot about JMU, but it’s changed since then, so it’s cool to see her come full circle as well.

And then so, 16 of us total and how UPB’s kind of run is that we are split up into five different committees who do five different things and so, as you said, a lot of people think that we just do concerts or, like, things in Wilson or, like, some people think we do movies at Grafton, some people don’t, so each of our committees does something pretty different than the other one. So our one committee, Center Stage, does all the big name concerts — so two in Wilson and one in the Convocation Center each year — and then our other committee, Spotlight Sounds, does a show in TDU that’s free to all students called Spotlight Sounds Series, usually on Fridays … and they help with Madipalooza, both of those committees do because they’re more music-based and then we have our Film committee that runs all the movies in Grafton Wednesday through Saturday and they do other, like, matinees and, like, things on the weekends and shows in the Planetarium sometimes too and then we have our Spirit and Traditions committee who is in charge of, they do a lot of more, like, series events, so once a month we do Funny Freakin’ Friday, which is … a small scale comedian that comes once a month and sometimes we have, like, student openers … and then another event we do is Late Night Breakfast, which is in Festival once a month and it’s just a free breakfast for all students, usually we have, like, giveaways and, like, some type of, like, bouncy house and a DJ and then our last committee is the Special Events committee, so they do kind of, like, everything else that doesn’t fall into those four, so they bring the comedian — that’s one big thing that they do each semester  — and then they just do kind of other random events that don’t fall, as I said, in the other committees. So we’ve done, like Lip Sync Battle, we’ve done JMZoo, like, last spring we brought a petting zoo, we have Festifall … but just kind of, like, miscellaneous things that we think is like a cool way to either, like, de-stress or just another event that would be fun that, like, the students would like to come to that’s usually for free, so most of our events are free, except for, like, our comedians and our concerts that are in, like, the large-scale, like, Wilson or Convo or something like that.

What’s your favorite part about UPB?

I would have to say, there’s so many different parts that go behind, like, go in with UPB and I think the best part for me is going to the events and, like, usually when I go I’m not working them, like, I just go for support, so I’m not in, like, we wear polos for exec and, like, name tags, so I’m not in that where I get to kind of, like, stand back and see students enjoying their time there and I think the thing that we constantly remind ourselves is that we’re providing, like, something for students to come to and have fun and meet people that they might not meet in class or, like, in their dorm, like, they might find something … they share in common with and meet each other at one of our events. One of our exec members last year, she’s like, ‘They could be meeting their future bridesmaids and, like, or their husband!’ as, like, a joke, but I think it’s really cool just to see no matter the size of the event or if, you know, like, at the Convo show, being able to stand between the stage and the barricades and, like, look up into the crowd and see how passionate they are about the artist and how much fun they’re having, I think, is like we work so hard to some of these events and then, like, the results and the outcome of them is, like, my favorite part to see it all come together and also to see the members having fun too, to see how much, like, work they’ve put into it and see like, ‘I did this,’ like, ‘I was able to, like, put all this stuff together and make a decision and market this event.’ And so, I think that’s my favorite part is, like, a combination of, like, members and people at our events just enjoying themselves.

What would you say to someone who is considering UPB, but isn’t sure if they want to apply or not?

Yeah, I would definitely encourage them to apply — and I think, just, in general, I think it’s important to be a part of something bigger than yourself while you’re in college — and so, I think my plug for people who are considering our organization or just joining something in general, is just definitely go out there and join it and I was one of those people who, like, but my name on the list for everything at student org night and then kinda dwindled it down and I am just in UPB, but I think definitely it’s more than just event planning, like, it’s a very cool aspect of it and I never thought, like, this was a thing I could do until I got into UPB and was like, ‘Oh, this is what it is!’ But, I think there’s so much more to it is that it’s finding your leadership style and kinda how you communicate with others and how you can do things that make a big impact and you don’t realize it and I think, also just finding your niche and finding out who you wanna be is something that came with being in UPB and I feel like a lot of, like, coming into college, like, especially being young, I kinda had this still, like, high school on my back and so I was kinda like, ‘Oh, like, I don’t really know who I am, like, I think I do’ and then being able to meet all these people that are so genuine and true and so passionate showed me that, like, it’s cool to do that too and so, it was cool to realize that in this organization, I know, like, so many organizations that, like almost all of them share the same aspect in a different way. But, definitely if someone was interested I would give them my inspirational, you know, finding myself, my major, my friends through the whole process of UPB and, like, not being afraid to, like, put yourself out there and try something new and different.

 

Photo: From the Rae Sremmurd concert at the Convocation Center

Photo credit: TAD

Bare Naked Ladies

I spoke with senior Courtney Brown, president of Bare Naked Ladies (BNL) recently. Here’s what she had to say:

What is the mission of BNL?

So, the mission for BNL is just to … redefine the standards of beauty and just … we want to put an emphasis on like, internal beauty obviously, it’s cliché, but like what matters on the inside not the outside and … we’re just like a positive, inclusive community that, tries to create … positivity for people and like, encourage self love and self acceptance and … through …. education and empowerment of each other.

Do you have events to promote that?

Yeah, so we do …  a variety of mission events and bonding events and social events in our club, it’s kind of like three different … tiers that we do. So, for our mission events … to promote our mission, we’ve done like a lot of … photography campaigns and, like, video campaigns. Our last video campaign was really successful — it was called ‘Beneath the Surface’ and we were actually at Blue Hole and what we did was, like, we were in, like maxi dresses and sports bras and stuff and … we had paint over our bodies and we were … painting our insecurities and then we were … washing them off of each other to, like, show, like, underneath it all is … what matters most. And then we do … a lot of stuff on campus too, like we do … a ‘Proud2BMe’ event and we’ll just …  have white boards … out on the commons, like, have people write, like, why they’re proud to … be themselves today and stuff like that. And we do …. random stuff on campus– like during finals week we’re gonna do, like, random acts of kindness and we’re gonna make someone like spread it forward … Mainly just through like awareness and just, like, honestly, just … reaching out. And so, like, on campus and off campus, like spreading our mission of positivity and self love and, like, self acceptance and we do community service events too. We’ve done, like, a women’s clothing drive, like, every semester for the New Direction Center in Staunton, so … a little bit of everything.

How often does BNL meet?

So, we have bi-weekly meetings, so we meet every other Tuesday and then in between the weeks that we don’t meet, we usually have, like, a bonding event or a mission event or a social event.

Overall, what do you want the readers of 22807 to know about BNL?

I just want them to know that, like, we’re a group that’s here on campus that, like, is inclusive and includes everyone and … we just want everyone to accept themselves … as they are and to … with their self love, like spread that love to others ‘cause … it’s very powerful and it’s, like, a very necessary thing for everyone to, you know … believe.

Is there anything else you think we should know?

Mainly, like, a lot of people do get confused that … we’re a feminist club … Obviously I’m a feminist and I have those … ideals and … that does, like, intersect, like, a lot of the time … Also, there’s a misconception that … we’re, like, an eating disorder awareness club too, but, like, we’re not … I guess mainly, just that, like, we’re a self love, like, self acceptance, like, body positivity group and it’s … more, like holistic. It’s not, like, just eating disorders and, like, stuff like that. It’s just, like, growing, like, as a person … It’s, like, the self love journey is pretty much what we like to … say is what we do.

Is there anything in the future that you hope that BNL can accomplish?

Long term, I would really like to spread Bare Naked Ladies to, like, other campuses. I’ve had, like, VCU and, like, Tech reach out to me to … get our foundation and … understand, like, how it works and how they can implement it on campus. So … ultimately the goal is to, like, spread it outside of JMU … The main goal is … it literally just starts with the one person, so if, like, one person can feel better about themselves or, like, feel beautiful, like, that’s the goal, ’cause that spreads.

 

Bare Naked Ladies meets every other Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

 

The photo is from BNL’s “Let It Go and Scale Smash” event where students let go of their insecurities by writing them on balloons, then popping them. Students were able to decorate scales and smash them off campus to represent that people are more than just a number.

 

Photo courtesy of: Courtney Brown

Alpha Phi Omega

I spoke with junior Kyle Anderson, president of Alpha Phi Omega fraternity recently. Here’s what he had to say:

Why did you choose to join APO?

Coming into my sophomore year, it was kind of a choice I was sort of leaning back and forth over the summer — actually APO wasn’t even a part of the picture — it was between Student Ambassadors and SafeRides and I was thinking, you know, I appreciate what they do for our campus and I love how they are able to serve our community in a special way, I just don’t know how much I really relate to their mission or how much I would fit into that idea. And so, it was kind of after I made the decision that I didn’t think I really fit into either of them, that I found out about APO and what they did for our community here on JMU’s campus and then also the greater Harrisonburg areas and so I fell quickly in love with what they were doing and like, what they were trying to accomplish and what they were trying to make available to students, which is just a variety of different service projects and leadership opportunities ‘cause I have seen OPAs, different MYMOM LCs … who have also been in APO and they’ve really flourished and so I thought, you know, if this is where people are going to learn and serve, then this is where I also want to be.

What is the mission of APO?

APO is founded off of three cardinal principles, which is: leadership, friendship and service and so we try and provide opportunities for all of our members to grow and participate in each of those three areas … So our mission is to sort of enhance and engage the lives of those in the organization and then also … enhance the lives of those we serve and so we’re hoping that that is accomplished through those three cardinal  principles.

What’s the application process like?

If you were interested in rushing for APO — anyone on this campus is available to from freshman to senior — so, basically, you’ll come to one of our two smoker sessions at the beginning of our rush process. From there, you get a little bit of information and background about APO: what they do, who we are and how we’re tied to a larger, national organization and then from there, there are events — maybe two or three events every day — service projects, fellowship events that you would then attend and sort of get to know brothers more … We’re really hoping that the rushers share more about themselves, their service experiences, who they are, what their character is, so that we get a better idea of who they are and how they might fit into this organization. After two weeks of attending four fellowship events, one service project and then our philanthropy night — our advocacy night — they will then attend something called ‘Blue and Gold,’ which is like our final culminating event, kind of recapping the past two weeks and what it might have meant for them and what it means to us to have them come out. There they’ll receive their interview time for the next morning and then it’s a process of — I think it’s gone as long as 19 hours — where the entire brotherhood is in a room listening to these interviews one after another, where they just come in, talk a little bit about themselves, we give them a couple of questions and then it cycles on through until the very end, where we go back and discuss what we saw in potential brothers and what we’d like to see and then a period of voting occurs where we select our members.

How many people normally come out for APO rush?

In the past two years, we’ve had — with both of fall and spring rush — I think one of our largest semesters has been about 250 people coming out for rush and then I think this semester was a little bit smaller at about 125.

How many people do you normally accept in a pledge class?

It can vary from semester to semester, so far in the past two years that I’ve been a part of it, we’ve been averaging about 23 to 25.

How many total people are in APO?

We have, I believe registered, we have a hundred. We have about 95 members total. That’s including the 27 pledges that are currently in here and then also about 20 members who are either associated or inactive for various reasons — either academic or because of other scheduling conflicts.

How often do you meet?

Our chapter meetings for our fraternity are Wednesday nights and then there are committee meetings that … also meet either weekly or biweekly and then social or fellowship events that also occur throughout the week.

What made you want to be the president of APO?

I’m seeing that the composition or, like, the makeup of our organization is just individuals who want to make a change in their community, who want to contribute to the betterment of the environment around them and so I believe that is a great breeding ground for positive change and for influence and so I’m hopefully — the position I ran on is that everyone in this organization and everyone on this campus really, like, already has all the tools they need to make a change in their own lives and everyone else’s lives and it’s only tapping into those resources and making known that the change can actually occur. So, what I’m hoping to do through this position — or what I’m hoping to get out of it — is that I can show or convince people that they can change other lives that it’s good and positive and that they can also make a positive in others as well, whether through, service, through leadership positions or just being a good friend.

If someone was on the fence about rushing APO, what would you tell them to change their mind?

I came into APO not really having any experience in service at all, like, I was not a huge volunteer in high school or beforehand or outside of it in college, but I knew I wanted to learn and I wanted to sort of expose myself to, like, a greater world out there and so if you’re looking for new experiences, friends who want to have meaningful connections to not only each other, but also the world around them, if you are looking for a position of leadership that doesn’t entail a title, that still carries weight, that still has influence, I’d say APO is the perfect breeding ground for that where we can impact people just by the time you spend with them, showing them the effort of showing up and serving with them.

Overall, what do you want the readers of 22807 to know about APO?

I would say much of the service … or the volunteer hours or the time that our members give in APO doesn’t come through the fraternity, which I think is pretty incredible. So, we average about 200 hours of service a week through all of our members and so that comes out to be some huge amount at the end of the semester. Each active member is required 30 hours of community service. Typically, everyone goes well above and beyond that. We only count a certain number of outside of fraternity service hours and time and time again I have seen people who have gone and volunteered at a service project that we provide, whether it’s Ride with Pride — which is horseback riding for children with special needs — whether it’s Special Olympics — which is dealing with sports with adults with special needs — Skyline Literacy — which is where the citizenship courts for refugees and immigrants — whether it’s Stone Spring Elementary, which is where I’m placed with children in the classroom, everyone that seems to have had a special connection with these service projects often go on to make personal connections of their own in those areas and volunteer on their own outside of APO time, which I think is so incredible ‘cause these are people with some of the largest hearts who just wish to be a part of the community and wish to impact and make people know that they’re loved and cared for and that’s beautiful.

 

Photo by: Amanda Harner

JMU Parrotheadz

I spoke with three executive board members of the JMU Parrotheadz: junior Morgan Barnes, the president; sophomore Drew Holt, the vice president; and sophomore Ellie Sparagno, the secretary.  Here’s what they had to say:

How did JMU Parrotheadz get started?

Morgan: “It started pretty recently, in 2014.”

Drew: “So when the club was officially started — we don’t know exactly what they were thinking, but the ones who initially started the club did come up with the mission statement that we still have now and that’s to serve and educate the JMU community … while celebrating the lifestyle of singer-songwriter — Jimmy Buffett.”

What does JMU Parrotheadz do around campus to promote this lifestyle?

M: “We do a lot of low key social events within our club. Every meeting we obviously play Jimmy Buffett … everyone gets to kind of talk about their day, like, anything that concerns them, questions, anything random like that. It’s very, like, ‘Leave your worries at the door,’ as Ellie says.”

D: “What we want to do is, like, we wanted to give students the opportunity to have, like, a place to come to actually just kinda hang out and get their mind off of the world a little bit, just listen to music, talk about what we wanna do. Like Morgan mentioned social events that we have, what she meant by that is we have plans to go to a puppy farm, we’ve gone, like, rollerskating, gone to Kline’s together …”

M: “ … pumpkin picking, the sunflower field.”

D: “But yeah, we just wanna give JMU students the opportunity to actually just, like, join a club that … allows them to relax and be a part of something.”

Ellie: “Something that I really love about this club is not only is it [all]-inclusive — it’s like you know, if you wanna join, you’re here, you’re absolutely welcome no matter who you are. But, we also have, like, such a tight bond and it’s people from all over. We have people from all different majors, all different ages and it’s a place where, like, we can relax, have fun and be ourselves and I have such a huge support system in these people and that’s what I really like and that’s what we’re trying to give others you know, is, you know, while celebrating, like, the mentality of Jimmy Buffett and other tropical singers and, you know, trying to embrace that type of lifestyle, we’re also giving people, like, friendships, you know, which is priceless and giving people a huge support system.”

M: “ … with school, you know what I mean, because there’s bound to be someone else that’s in your major or close to it. They’re taking the same class, whether it’s Gen-Eds or whatever.”

E: “We all have each other’s backs and you know, we do things together and we do things for each other, like if I needed help with like a class or something, there’s someone who could help me, someone who could tutor me. You know, if I need a ride to Wal-Mart, I know Morgan can pick me up.”

How many people are in JMU Parrotheadz?

M: “I think we have about 50 right now.”

D: “It actually has probably, like, tripled in size in, like, the last year. We have a lot more new ideas.”

M: “We basically, like, restructured the club.”

D: “And with all of these new people we have new ideas for new designs for T-shirts … we come together and since it’s all like one big club, exec — just the things that we do is that we just schedule meetings and set forth like the plans that we wanna do and then everyone else just kind of like gives us the, like the rest of it, gives us the filling and actually makes it their own.”

E: “The contributions that our new members make are priceless. I mean, they’re so great. I mean, they contribute so much to our club and so I think what’s helping us grow is not just this new exec, but also, like, all the new ideas that we have coming in and all these people who are passionate about the same things that we are and people who have the determination and, like, the passion for this club, you know, to actually make it bigger and better.”

Overall, what do you want the readers of 22807 to know about JMU Parrotheadz?

D: “I think something that we would want people to know is that, like, since, like you said, we are new, we’re only a couple years old, I want people to know that we’re out there and that anyone can join — like Ellie said — we’re all-inclusive and the whole point of it is just to really, like, relax and hang out with each other and do fun things together and that’s it.”

M: “It’s also … very much like, ‘What do you want to do? Like, let’s go do it together.’”

E: “I think that people who are trying to get involved and trying to make friends, I think something that might make them shy away from something like this is that, like, they don’t know Jimmy Buffett like we do or you know, maybe they’ve, like, never been into this kind of thing. But I mean, we were saying this at the student org night to like so many different first years and people who showed up: ‘Like, you don’t need to know a single lyric to join this club.’”

M: “It’s more, like, you know, the mentality.”

E: “It’s more about his mentality and embracing the lifestyle, you know. I mean, that’s what we want our club to be like and that’s what we try and celebrate.”

M: “You don’t have to be some crazy Jimmy Buffett fan to get involved.”

 

 

JMU Parrotheadz meets Thursdays at 7 p.m. in Taylor Hall room 309.

Bellydance Club

I spoke with senior Megan Coceano, president of Bellydance Club recently. Here’s what she had to say:

Why did you join Bellydance Club?

I have never taken a dance class before in my life, so I didn’t have any experience and one of the girls I was actually friends with before … she was like, ‘You should come try it, like you don’t need any experience or anything like that,’ so I went and took a couple classes and I absolutely loved it, so I just kept going back.

What made you want to be the president?

I actually got, I guess, kinda suckered into it … One of the girls, after I got to know girls in the club, they needed a secretary and I said that I would step up, that I … wasn’t too busy or anything like that, so I started as secretary and about halfway through that semester we had some problems with our president, the current president, she wanted to step down, she just didn’t have the time commitment and she asked me if I was interested in stepping up and so I just did.

How many members are there?

This semester we have about 30 members, give or take, 35. Some semesters, spring semesters, tend to be a little bit smaller ‘cause a lot of the freshman are really new to it in the fall, so fall’s definitely bigger.

How do you practice bellydancing?

We practice in UREC …. Yoga Body Studio 2 is where we practice. It’s from, we have two classes which you don’t need experience for either — it’s eight to nine for like a beginner’s class which is like technique and you just learn kinda the moves and then nine to ten is like a choreography class where we take the exact moves we learned in technique and we put into the dance that we’re learning for a performance at the end of the year. It’s always on Wednesday nights.

Does the club bellydance at events?

So we’ve done TDU in the past, like at the end of the semester like right before finals kinda thing. Just something low key … Last semester we did the African Cultural Week and they had us perform at … their show, we were like an intermission kind of thing. This semester we’re doing a lot bigger things. We’re trying to perform downtown at Artful Dodger and Clementine’s, maybe both and then we’re also going on a weekend trip to VCU to be a part of their Middle Eastern Cultural Week.

Overall, what do you want the readers of 22807 to know about Bellydance Club?

It’s a lot of fun. It is a social club, so we do different bonding events and, like, different events on the weekends and stuff like that and nobody ever needs experience. I tell everyone to just come try it and everyone loves it after they try it … It’s a really welcoming club too ‘cause everyone comes in with no experience, so people don’t feel like, ‘Oh my gosh, this person’s been doing this for like eight years,’ ‘cause no one in the area has bellydance experience, it’s just not really a thing … It’s a lot of fun. It’s a good group of girls too.

 

Photo by: Megan Coceano

Cadet Program

I spoke with Sgt. Frank Stilson, program coordinator of JMU’s Cadet Program recently. Formed in the mid-1970s, the Cadet Program is composed of student police cadets who perform different security duties on campus. Here’s what he had to say:

What is the main mission of the Cadet Program?

It’s not limited to just criminal justice studies students, but it’s oriented for justice studies students to give them an inside look of how law enforcement [works] especially if they’re looking at that as a career. It gives them the internal workings of how a police department functions. They also have a set of duties they take care of … They secure the academic buildings, the patrol campus — the campus is broken up into five areas — and they’ll call in suspicious activity or if a door’s open or a window’s open and they shouldn’t be open or something like that. They also provide safety escorts, both on foot and by vehicle. We have a vehicle designated for safety escorts.

How are the students chosen? Are there certain things that you look for?

We like for them to be a sophomore, only because they’ve had a year of getting acclimated to the college life … You don’t want a freshman to come in and start working and get bogged down with school, when they can’t, you know, time management skills. By the time you’re a sophomore you got that. They say you’re supposed to have it down to a science, but you don’t, I mean you know, everyone’s cramming for studying and stuff … but anyway, they have to have a GPA of 2.0 or higher.

When you see the criminal justice major on their application, does that enhance their chances on getting accepted?

No, absolutely not … We don’t know what their major is until they come in for the interview process. So it’s just, I mean, any student can apply and as long as they meet that criteria, you know, and they haven’t been in any trouble, they’re usually hired.

What training do the cadets go through?

They usually hold [the police cadet academy] on Sundays and depending on — ‘cause they have refreshers too … ’cause we constantly have students coming and going, some students, you know, we hire a student, they work for a couple of months and decide it’s not for them … Most of the students that are hired stay with the program and you know, they appreciate it.

We’ll go over mostly what their duties are. We have people from different departments come in and talk to them like the OSARP will come in and talk to them, talk to them about what their job duties are.

What is the time frame for a shift?

Weekdays they’re required to work two nights a week, one weekday and one weekend and our weekends, their weekends are Thursday through Saturday, ‘cause, you know, Thirsty Thursdays, so … Sunday through Wednesday, the patrol shift is seven to twelve, unless they’re doing building security — which we refer to as K-5 — or escorts where they’re driving the van and giving safety escorts. Those shifts run ‘til 2 a.m.

The cadet unit that is locking all the buildings can leave once all the buildings are locked, but buildings have different hours. There’s a lot of buildings with computer labs that don’t even start locking until 12:30. So it’s right around 2 a.m. if they’re walking on foot.

And on weekends they work 9 to 3, 9 to 3 a.m.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part for me is when our students graduate and they go on and get jobs and you see them a year from now or two years from now, three years, and I mean, I’m friends with a lot of cadets that were, you know, in the program, even before I was in charge of the program.

I have to add this too, every cadet that has applied for a job in law enforcement, has gotten hired.

Overall, what do you want the readers of 22807 to know about the Cadet Program?

Some of the students look at them as … ‘police snitches’ or something like that and that is, that is totally not correct. That’s not what they’re out there for. They’re out there to, you know, help make the university safe … We’ve had students call in, you know, when suspicious individuals that have actually broken into buildings, stolen items and were captured and prosecuted because the cadets were there and called it in.

 

Photo by: Kate Desmond

JMU Ghost Hunters

I spoke with senior Sara Schoen, president of JMU Ghost Hunters recently. Here’s what she had to say:

 

What is JMU Ghost Hunters?

JMU Ghost Hunters started about 3 years ago and it’s just a group of normally about 10 to 15 people who are either skeptics — meaning they don’t believe in spirits — or believers and they want answers and we go to supposedly haunted locations.

What made you want to join? Are you a skeptic or a believer?

I’m more of a skeptic ‘cause I study science, so it’s more like I wanna find out if it’s a rational thing and if it’s not and I can’t explain it, then it’s just something interesting.

What made you want to be president of JMU Ghost Hunters?

We only had a small amount of people ‘cause it really just started up and I was gonna be here longer, so I took the vice president position, enjoyed it enough and then became president when the actual president graduated.

Do you find more skeptics or more believers?

I find a lot of believers. They’re joining because they’ve either had an experience or a lot of them join because they watch all the ghost hunting shows and are like, ‘Yeah, that’s really cool!’ That’s the thing that happens the most.

Have you ever seen anything similar to a TV show?

I haven’t seen anything. I’ve experienced it. I had my hair pulled in Weston Plantation, which is in Hopewell, Virginia. It didn’t, like, hurt, but it was just kind of shocking because you’re not expecting anything to touch you.

I’ve never been scared while ghost hunting. You normally get really excited when something happens because you’re like, ‘Oh my God, yes.’ This is what you want. No one’s ever been, like, scared. People do need breaks.

What gear do you use when you ghost hunt?

A K2 meter, an EMF detector — an EMF is an electromagnetic field, voice recorders … we’ll use miscellaneous objects, so like, if there’s a child, we use, like, a ball and see if they wanna play with us … we also have a laser grid, so if I set a ball up and I wanna see if it moves, and I’m gonna sit there for a while, I’ll set the laser grid up and … I’ll be able to see it better if it moves.

Where do you get the gear from?

We buy our own right now. Our president actually left a lot — our founder actually — left a lot for us to keep and if we want more, we can get grants from JMU.

What do you want readers to know about JMU Ghost Hunters?

I mostly just want them to know, like, it’s just for fun. I have a lot of people who get freaked out very easily. They ask me if I’ve ever had a ghost follow me home. I’ve never had that happen. I’ve done this since I was eight and I’ve never had that happen. Or they’re worried about demons. And we don’t use Ouija boards or pendulums or anything that’s going to attract those kind of things. We don’t provoke either, so it’s not like you’re gonna be like Zak Bagans and have stuff follow you around because you’ve made them angry. It’s just, we do, like, group activities, like, it’s not just ghost hunting, it’s just like, this is what we’re interested in and now you can talk to, like, people, you don’t have to be afraid to be like, ‘Yeah, I believe in ghosts.’

 

The JMU Ghost Hunters meet every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Keezell Hall G002.

 

Photo by: Allison Lindsey

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