Archive for October, 2008

Elon Water Ski Club Becomes Official

Water ski club takes off

by Christina Edwards
October 29, 2008

Elon may be hours from the coast but the water sports scene has still found its way to campus.

The 21 members of Elon’s month-old Water Ski Club take advantage of Burlington’s Lake Cammack, located only 11 miles from campus.

The club became official Sept. 22, after two years of effort from president Brice McHale.

“It was a slow process, but I think the school wanted to make sure it was done right,” McHale said.

McHale has been an avid water skier since the age of 6, but hadn’t thought about bringing the sport to Elon until chemistry professor Eugene Grimley approached him.

“The first thing you have to do [to start a campus organization] is get an adviser,” McHale said. “Dr. Grimley actually contacted me a week or two into freshman year and asked if I would be interested.”

Nearly a year had gone by when Anna Powell, a sophomore from Fuquay-Varina, N.C., joined the club and everything began to fall into place.

Powell’s parents allowed the club to use their boat and helped them gain access to Lake Cammack.

Before they could become an officially recognized Elon organization, both McHale and Grimley had to go through extensive safety coordinator training.

“Elon was very meticulous in making sure everything was done right,” McHale said. “I think they just wanted to make sure we did everything safely.”

The club has already participated in competitions, including a South Atlantic Conference Regional competition.

The club is ranked 45th out of the 74 east coast teams.

“We have a wide variety of experience,” McHale said. “We have people who have been doing competitions, and we have people who have just started. We have the full spectrum.”

He has been water skiing since he was 6 years old, and began skiing competitively when he was just seven. However, unlike McHale, some club members are new to competing.

“Before this club, I had [water] skied one time,” freshman Erik Higbee said. “I just heard about it, and wanted to give it a chance. I think after five practices I was doing the slalom mini course.”

Club members practice at Lake Cammack on Thursdays when the lake is closed to the general public.

“We have one of the best collegiate water ski setups,” McHale said. “We have the slalom course, and it’s regularly available to us.”

Categories: Features

Ahmed Fadaam, Iraqi journalist, visits Elon

Information, understanding key in Iraq war according to journalist.

By Christina Edwards

October 22, 2008

Ahmed Fadaam addresses the war in Iraq and the role media plays.

Ahmed Fadaam addresses the war in Iraq and the role media plays.

Dr. Ahmed Fadaam is an accidental journalist.

Until 2003, he was a professor of fine arts at the University of Baghdad. He was a figurative artist, working with clay, marble and stone. He lived in Baghdad with his two children and his wife.

Until the school he was teaching at was destroyed in a 2003 bombing.

“You can’t even feel safe inside your house,” Fadaam said of the turmoil in Iraq.

After the bombings, Fadaam was out of a job. He was then hired as a translator for NPR’s The Connection, going on in May 2003 to work for The Agence France Presse as an interpreter, videographer, reporter, courtroom artist and photographer. Presently, he is working as the Baghdad reporter for The Story with Dick Gordon on WUNC North Carolina Public Radio, and for the Baghdad Bureau of the New York Times.

“Art was my life at that time. I couldn’t imagine myself as a man who would chase stories,” Fadaam said. “I was trying to lock myself up in my own paradise.”

Since falling into journalism, Fadaam’s work has won five awards, including the Edward R. Murrow Award for Continuing Coverage. While at Elon University as a scholar-in-residence, Fadaam spoke to journalism students October 22 about the role of media in the war and future relations between the United States and Iraq.

“It’s curiosity,” Fadaam said. Some people believe what they hear, others have to check it out for themselves. I don’t know if I’m a good [journalist], but I did something.”

Fadaam speaks to Janna Anderson's class at Elon University October 22.

Fadaam speaks to Janna Anderson's class at Elon University October 22.

His work and achievement has come with its consequences. Fadaam has received death threats for his affiliation with western media, causing him to move his wife and children to Syria for safety.

“We’re looked at as spies, as blood traitors,” Fadaam said. “But as long as you know you’re telling the truth. When you want to fight back, it’s not necessary to use weapons. We do it with words, with the truth.”

According to Fadaam, in the early days of the war in Iraq, it was only the Americans and the American media that was looked at with distrust by the Iraqi people.

“It would have been better to introduce yourself as Canadian,” Fadaam said, noting that he was better received by Iraqi citizens when working for the French news organization.

Now, he says, all western media is seen as equal to American. Fadaam also notes that he believes eventually, Iraq will be completely anti-American.

Western media, according to Fadaam, is similarly distrustful of Iraqis. He says Iraqi sources are looked at as exaggerating and trying to spread propaganda.
Fadaam says that in order for Iraqi relations with Americans to become stable, communication needs to be established between the two groups.

“You have children who open their eyes to their country under fire,” Fadaam said. “They need to know that there is a difference between the American people and the American administration.”

Fadaam believes information and understanding of the other culture is key in the conflict.

“You should be informed in what’s going on in details,” Fadaam said. “Know more about Iraqis. If you feel the pain, you can talk about the wound.”

Sarah Palin visits Elon, students wonder why university was chosen

Elon provides central location for high interest in Palin
By Christina Edwards
October 16, 2008

Ticket given for admission to Palin rally.

Ticket given for admission to Palin rally.

It was the campaign stop that launched a thousand questions.

Elon University announced Monday morning on the school’s Web site that GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin would be speaking on campus Thursday afternoon. Before tickets became avaliable Tuesday at noon, student attention had veered away from midterms and fall break planning to distinctly more political conversation: Where do I get tickets? Is she really coming? Do you think my professor will cancel class?

And a less easily answered question: why Elon?

“Why not?” said Mario Diaz, regional communications director for the McCain campaign. “It’s a beautiful area of North Carolina, and there’s a great amount of interest in [Palin] there. I’m glad we could accommodate supporters in that area.”

After scouting the campus last week, the campaign chose to hold the Road to Victory event at Latham Park in the North Athletics Complex.

“Honestly, I think it was partly because [Elon] has the baseball field; it was a great location. And it’s centrally located for the folks in Raleigh, High Point, Greensboro and Winston-Salem,” said David Ruden, spokesman at the Guilford-High Point Victory office.

The Elon College Republicans and students from the Elon law school provided a majority of volunteers for the event. Sophomore Nick Ochsner , president of the College Republicans, stressed the importance of having a strong campaign presence with only 19 days left to the election.

“We’ve been working with them all semester to help make sure Sen. McCain and the Republican Party has a strong presence on campus, and they knew they could turn to us for strong support,” said Ochsner.

The campaign contacted College Republicans to recruit volunteers for the event. Ochsner could not comment specifically on why Elon was chosen.

“In terms of campaign events and their relation to election day– we are not close by any means,” said Ochsner. “There are still three weeks left and a lot can happen in that time. It’s never too late for North Carolina voters to meet and get to know Sarah Palin and John McCain. As voters get to know them more today and in the next few weeks, they’ll quickly realize that the McCain-Palin ticket is the only ticket that will get America on the right track.”

Tickets were distributed to the outside community in several locations in the area, including local offices for the Republican Party.

“We had people lined up down the street,” said Ruden, commenting on the community’s interest in the event. “We had people from Asheville, Myrtle Beach, from as far as Atlanta. I’d say people in this area are more excited to see her than Obama, Biden, any other candidate.”

“We had a box full of tickets, and it was enough,” said Ruden. “But there was nothing left to get.”

International students blend cultures from different societies

by Christina Edwards

October 14, 2008

Elon University is nationally recognized for the number of students it sends abroad each year. But for some Elon students, an international experience was just part of growing up. Seniors Chika Kusakawa and Jordan Mohr were both born outside of the United States, and have successfully blended both cultures.

Kusakawa was born in Japan and moved to California when she was 5 years old because of her father’s job. As a child, she had to learn to balance both the Japanese and American cultures.

“I attended Japanese language school for about six or seven hours on the weekends, so my weekends were cut short, which I hated,” Kusakawa said. “But I am now very appreciative of that since I have the ability to communicate easily with all of my family, relatives and friends. Growing up in two languages was a norm for me. I wonder what it’s like to know only one language.”

Mohr also speaks more than one language — he knows four. He was born in Germany and lived in Germany, Singapore, Guatemala and Mexico before moving to Greensboro, N.C., when he was 12.

“[We spoke] English usually,” he said of his family. “But for the first two or three years of my life, I learned Bahasa-Indonesian when I lived in Singapore. When I was a kid growing up in Weinheim, I naturally was taught German. As I moved to Guatemala and Mexico, I learned Spanish.”

In addition to being multilingual, both students have taken advantage of the cultures and traditions of more than one society.

“New Year’s is such a large holiday in Japan, we celebrate with a traditional meal every day for three days straight,” Kusakawa said. “But we still do the countdown and the party hats on New Year’s Eve. There are also children’s days in Japan, which we used to celebrate. [We] also celebrated Thanksgiving. It was fun celebrating the traditions of both cultures throughout the year.”

But having a multi-national identity wasn’t always easy for the students.

“There have been times when people hear me speaking Japanese and assume I don’t understand English,” Kusakawa said. “I feel judged. Or they speak slower or down to me. But once I start speaking English, they realize that I understand them perfectly fine. It’s fun to see their reaction.”

For Mohr, the stereotyping surpassed borders.

“My dad once told me as I was being pushed in the stroller I’d randomly sing the Indonesian national anthem,” he said. “Sure enough, the locals would do a double take as they saw this brown-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian kid sing in Bahasa.”

Such experiences shaped his younger years, but Mohr has no regrets.

“I should say that my childhood was vastly different,” said Mohr. “I understand that not many young Americans have the chance to see the world. I highly recommend that seeing the land of your ancestors gives you tremendous appreciation for who you are.”

Kuskawa said she believes her experiences have been somewhat universal.

“I never felt lost or overwhelmed in one culture over the other,” Kusakawa said. “I always knew where I was from and have always been proud of that. I’ve had times when I felt like I stuck out of the crowd, but I think everyone has those moments in life.”

Categories: Features, Uncategorized

Rep. Jim Cooper Visits Elon for Barack Obama

US House Representative Jim Cooper of Tennessee visited Elon University October 10 to speak about Barack Obama and the importance of voting in the upcoming election. The event was held in the Zone in Moseley Center by Alamance County for Barack Obama. Rep. Cooper spoke of how he personally came to support Sen. Obama and the urgency of the current financial crisis. NC Senator Tony Foriest gave the opening remarks.

Kay Hagan Runs for Senate Seat in High Stress Campaign

In Kay Hagan’s race against Elizabeth Dole, gender is the only thing that isn’t an issue

By Christina Edwards

     Sarah Palin, move over.

     This election cycle has the possibility of a historical outcome for women in politics with the Republican vice presidential nominee. But in NC, history has already been made: this year’s race for US Senate is the first with female candidates on both sides.

     “This is the first time we’ve had two women running, no matter what, NC will have a woman in the senate, we’ve had a woman there. But I’m going to win,” said current NC state senator Kay Hagan, the Democratic nominee.

     Hagan is running against incumbent Republican US Senator Elizabeth Dole. Dole, who was elected to the US Senate in 2002, was NC’s first female senator.

     “I’ve watched her in the Senate, and she’s been ineffective. So I thought why not take her on?” said Hagan of her decision to run for Senate.

     As a child, Hagan’s first brush with politics came while helping her uncle, US Senator and Florida Governor Lawton Chiles and watching her father serve as mayor as Lakeland, Florida.  Currently, Hagan is serving her fifth term in the NC senate and has been named one of the state’s top ten most effective senators three terms in a row.

     Hagan cites her three now adult children, Jeanette, Tilden, and Carrie, as a major reason for her political involvement. At a Women for Obama rally in Greensboro September 18, Hagan opened the event by telling the crowd that her daughters were the reason why she believed pay equity and healthcare were such important issues in the election, stressing the importance of the women’s vote on these issues.

     “I think women vote on the issues rather than parties, so of course that’s important to reach,” Hagan said.

    Once on stage, Michelle Obama thanked Hagan for speaking, emphasizing the importance of the tight senatorial race to Washington politics in general.


     “We can’t forget what’s going on in these local races because [Obama’s] going to need some help when he gets to the White House,” said Obama.

     Much like the presidential race, the already close, crucial race has become even more analyzed in recent weeks as the financial crisis comes to the forefront.

     “We need to lift debt burden on the next generation. We need to include financial literarcy in high schools. We need to strengthen up start up tax deduction and fight for energy independence,” said Hagan to a group of small business owners at a roundtable in Greensboro September 29. “We need to invest in American success.”

     In response the gas shortage that hit the state in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav, Hagan stated that she felt the system handled the crisis well.

      “I thought that Governor Easley handled the situation as well as possible, calling for more supplies quickly. People need to not hit the panic button. And we’ve got to be sure our refineries are up to speed,” Hagan said.

     The Dole campaign disagrees.     

     “I shudder to think what she’s going to do in Washington if she thinks that was well handled. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone in the state that thinks it was well handled,” said Dan McLagan, spokesman for the Dole campaign.

     As result of this race being so close and coming at such an economically crucially time, both sides have been trading negative attacks. A Dole advertisement labeled Hagan “Fibber Kay,” likening her to a yapping dog. Hagan’s campaign has released the 92 Days, 92 Ways email campaign, detailing ways Dole is wrong for the state.

     “Her campaign has been one of the most negative and vicious we’ve seen in NC, and even nationally,” said McLagan who says Hagan’s campaign has spent nearly 20 million in negative advertisements. “She’s done nothing to tell voters who she is.”

     Hagan, of course, disagrees.

    “Trust me, I will be back here,” Hagan said to business owners in Greensboro. “We need somebody to go to work for us.”



Elon Students to Participate in CBS Voting Poll

by Christina Edwards

October 5, 2008

According to an email sent on October 5 by Smith Jackson, Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students at Elon University, approximately 3000 students will recieve an email invitation to participate in the CBS News Youth Vote Poll.

The poll is conducted by Cornell University’s Survey Research Institute and will survey students in four swing states in the presidential election. The survey will cover opinions on candidates, level of engagement, and politics in the age of the internet.

Survey results will be broadcast on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, as well as broadcast in the October 27 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, and posted online at, and