OU board discusses uses for Sunset Terrace
By Erin Ben-Moche | @ebenmoche
Oakland University’s Board of Trustee’s had their monthly meeting today as they met at Sunset Terrace. The meeting regarded future uses for the Sunset Terrace since President Hynd will not be using it as his house for the upcoming school year. Geoff Upward and Eric Barrit gave presentations explaining how the Sunset Terrace should be used.
Platforms for creating a Dodge museum, alumni center, and president house residence were all mentioned with historic backgrounds as well. TMP architects also gave their input on the structure of the old house that needs work to meet up to code.
Geoff Upward started the meeting with a brief history of the terrace and how it came to be. Upward talked about Dodge brothers John and Horace and how they bought Meadowbrook estates for vacation and business. When John died, Matilda bought and expanded land so she could build a residence home which came to be Sunset Terrace, 1,287 square feet of land.
Sunset Terrace is recognized as a historical landmark as well as recognition from National Park Services. Upward says that the owners of Sunset are free to do anything they want with the building as long as they are up to code, are keeping the original features and don’t distort historical and authentic fabrics.
Upward later pitched the idea for creating a Dodge Museum which includes a Dodge Institute, Dodge Library, time capsule, and garage. Upward says that it will produce revenue as well as brand the university. He says it will also help share the stories of the Dodge brothers and educate an assortment of people. It will also benefit students on campus as it opens up job and intern opportunities.
Eric Barrit also gave his pitch for using the Sunset Terrace as an alumni house. He says that the alumni number has peaked in OU history with a record breaking 100,000 OU alumnus. He wants a place for them to work and settle when visiting Oakland’s campus. He wants to include a Hall of Fame for all the alumnus, as well as host parties, dinners, conferences, and more.
Barrit says that Oakland is known for being the lowest state with space so having a building for alumnus could be an opportunity to move forward and get ahead. Barrit states, “You’re only a student for a little while, but you remain an alum forever.”
The Board is unsure about how the Sunset Terrace will be used, but they know for a fact that this house is rich in history and value and will remain as an Oakland landmark for awhile.
Oakland welcomes “hidden gem”
By Erin Ben-Moche | @ebenmoche
Today was a historical day for Oakland University as they welcomed in Dr. George W. Hynd as their sixth President. The special inauguration took place on campus at the O’Rena at 3:00pm. Faculty, students, and board members proudly attended the ceremony.
Guest speakers included Oakland County Executive and Trustee Emeritus, L. Brooks Patterson, Board of directors alumni chair, Anthony Thornton, and student body president Annie Meinberg. Thornton and Meinberg both shared their grizzly pride saying they were, “proud to be a pioneer grizzly and associated with golden grizzlies.”
After the speakers gave their introductions, Hynd changed robes in the presidential regalia and starts his address with a humble welcome.
“I’ve never had to get dressed in front of 1,000 people before…I’m grateful all of you have welcomed me so warmly and frankly, with so much enthusiasm.” Later in his address Hynd discussed the future of Oakland University.
He stresses the importance of faculty and student relations and promotes a “new era” for OU students in upcoming years. President Hynd says that Oakland is a hidden gem and looks forward to building OU’s prestige. After two long standing ovations, the ceremony came to an end and the celebration continued in the Oakland Center for a southern style reception.
INTERVIEW: Professor Erin Meyers on the 31st Annual Women and Gender Studies Film Festival
By Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
WXOU is a proud sponsor of the 31st annual Women and Gender Studies Film Festival:
Saturday, March 7th | 12pm
Human Health Building Room 1050
Free admission and refreshments!
Jerry of Ben & Jerry’s to visit Oakland University
By Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
Ben & Jerry’s Homeade, Inc. Co-founder Jerry Greenfield will bring “an evening of entrepreneurial spirit, social responsibility and radical business philosophy” to Meadow Brook Theatre on Tuesday, March 24th.
Greenfield’s presentation will deliver a rousing tribute to America’s entrepreneurial spirit, full of anecdotes and radical business philosophy. It will also address the great sense of fun that is the company’s hallmark, illustrated with the serving of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for the entire audience.
Free tickets are available starting Monday, March 2nd at the Center for Student Activities ticket window.
A New Den on Campus: Oak View Hall Dedicated over Homecoming Weekend
By Timothy Pontzer
500 Golden Grizzlies have a new den as the newest dormitory on campus was officially dedicated on Saturday afternoon.
While Oak View Hall has been open since the debut of the fall semester, Saturday’s ceremony allowed for faculty, students and family members the chance to celebrate the new building.
“Oak View Hall is an amazing addition to campus and a great new way to build community for our residents,” said Kate Bergel, a Resident Assistant at the new facility. “I’m so excited to see the residents and staff blossom as the year continues.”
Large crowds were able to see the building for the first time as well tour the recently completed $30 million project. OU President George W. Hynd addressed the audience, citing the new site as progress towards the future.
“We now have about 14 to 17% of undergraduates living on campus and we’d like to drive that number up to be more of residential institution over time,” Hynd said. “Oak View is a wonderful step in that direction. It’s also a wonderful new home for our Honors College, which is another important part of our campus community.”
The Honors College took over a large share of the first floor of Oak View. The new space now allows for more students to join the specialized club as well as room to host events and activities. Previously, the HC was located on the ground level of Vandenberg Hall.
“The new Honors College facilities enable students to better connect to their studies through expanded study spaces and new technologies,” said Walter Lashar, a senior student in the HC. “It really helps solidify us as one of the best in the state, if not the entire nation.”
Students who were residents of the new dorm buzzed about some of the offerings, including amenities not seen in other living quarters on campus.
“I feel lucky to get to live here as a freshman,” Pharmacy major Nate Murray said. “It is really clean, has a mini café downstairs, and there are really cool places to hang out throughout the place. My room has great air conditioning, comes with its own fridge, and has a private bathroom, which is definitely the best feature.”
Located across from Vandenberg, Oak View Hall was built as a response to a near 40 percent increase in housing rental agreements.
“Today, we have been able to enjoy the celebration of the new beginning of this truly fantastic building,” Hynd said. “Students are going to have a great on-campus experience living in Oak View.”
Detroit Tigers Opening Day photos
By Allen Jordan | @aj1218
By Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
It was a little over one week ago when some 20,000 Oakland University students received an email from freshman, Jasmine Watkins asking for people to take a survey for her Writing 160 class.
Undergraduate student, Dominic Dabish replied with three words “Okay I did it,” prompting numerous other students to do the same. The thread quickly turned into a chat room setting, with responders including memes, asking for dates, and discussing how to follow each other on Twitter.
Listen to what Dabish had to say here:
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan awarded Crain’s Newsmaker of the Year 2013
By Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
On the day before Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan delivered the State of the City address, he was awarded Crain’s Newsmaker of the Year for making the improbable the inevitable.
Duggan spent the better part of the afternoon eating lunch and accepting his award, as well as honoring the nine other newsmakers with business professionals from all over metro Detroit in the Grand Ballroom of MotorCity Casino Hotel.
Among those newsmakers were Mary Sue Coleman, President of the University of Michigan, David Cotton, CEO of Meridian Health Plan, John Giampetroni, Co-founder, partner of Rizvi Traverse Management LLC, Dan Gilbert, Founder and chairman of Quicken Loans Inc. and Rock Ventures LLC, Phil Incarnati, CEO of McLaren Health Care Corp., Peter Karmanos Jr., Co-founder, retired executive chairman of Compuware Corp., Barbara McQuade, U.S. attorney, Kevyn Orr, Emergency manager, and Stephen Polk, Chairman of IHS Automotive Inc.
“Thank you very much for finally giving me this award!” he joked.
Meridian Winter Blast Recap
Recap by Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
Photos by Charlie Tinker | @tinkerradio
Like the moment when you first step outside on a bitter morning, the Winter Blast stole the breath of Detroiters in Campus Martius Park this past weekend.
The long list of activities included ice skating, snowshoeing, an ice garden, dogsledding exhibitions, and the famous snow slide. When it came time to take a break and warm up, guests could step inside heated tents for live music, marshmallow roasting, and hot chocolate. If that wasn’t enough, the “Taste of Detroit” brought grub from favorites, including Bagger Dave’s, Prime 29 Steakhouse, Oye Crepe, and Bearclaw Coffee Co.
With fun for kids and adults alike, the Winter Blast is in demand in the D year after year.
By Scott Hunter | @dangerfiasco
DETROIT, MI – United We Dance. Former electronic music festival returns with a new vision, and new counterpart.
On November 20th 2013, Carol Marvin announced that she, together with AETDetroit, will bring back the former free event Detroit Electronic Music Festival (DEMF). In a landmark announcement at Ford Field, Marvin also introduced a second paid event, the Federation of Music Technology, or FEMT. Both events will run simultaneously over the Fourth of July weekend in Detroit’s Campus Martius Park and Ford Field.
Marvin created DEMF in 2000 and was the figurehead of the production for three years before the city decided not to renew her contract. Paxahau productions stepped in and renamed the event “Movement – Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival”. Paxahau also changed the once free event in Hart Plaza to a pay to enter event. However, to the many who still came to dance, it was still DEMF.
“People said in the beginning that we would fail. But we knew. Even in the beginning we knew. This is the most popular music in the world.” Marvin stated about the origins of DEMF. “People will come. They will come to Detroit. They will dance. They will have a great time. And that’s what happened.” Marvin added.
The reboot of DEMF and the new FEMT shares the optimism of the original planning days. Adriel Thornton, Festival Music & Production Director was with Marvin in the early days, and recalls the struggle to name the new project. “I remember saying that Detroit had to be in the name somewhere. I pitched electronica, as it was a big music scene at the time. Carol told me it was too broad. We wanted this to represent Detroit, and give back to the world. She took my idea, shortened it, and here we are.” Thornton recalled.
DEMF kept the theme alive of giving back to the world by insisting that the festival be free to everyone. “The beauty of a free festival is that it allows everyone to come. Free from financial barriers. We wanted this to be a gift from Detroit, to the world. A free festival does just that.” Marvin stated.
The Detroit Electronic Music Festival will present major dance music headlining performers on five main performance stages within Campus Martius Park and on adjacent Detroit streets. One stage will be solely dedicated to the best of Detroit Techno. The International and Main Stages will feature top DJs from 20+ countries of the world. Top clubs from the world’s major cities will be sending a selected DJ to act as an ambassador of their country and electronic music industry as part of The DEMF World Club & DJ Ambassador Program.
The Federation of Electronic Music Technology, held in Ford Field Stadium, will be a technologically advanced presentation. “We are excited to be part of what should become another benchmark in Detroit’s rich music tradition,” said Kelly Urquhart-Kozole, Detroit Lions Vice President Events. “Ford Field’s industrial design and Detroit aesthetic make it a natural venue to host an international audience for this innovative exhibition of electronic music technology.” The FEMT will feature an air-conditioned environment with a main stage on the stadium field and five more performance spaces in various locations throughout Ford Field. In addition, artist lectures & panels, educational arts & technology labs, studio tutorials and techno-based exhibitions will be hosted.
Another highlight of both festivals will be the international digital arts installations brought to the United States for first-time by the event’s Curator of Festival Arts Programming, Olof van Winden, Founder of Today’s Art in The Hague, Netherlands. “Technology commands every part of our landscape. The use of technology in the arts is default. But technology can also be a downside. It can be used as the end, rather than the means.” Said Van Winden. “Today’s art is not defined by machines. Today’s art is defined by those who use machines as their voice. This is the background I will use for shaping the curatorial process.” He added.
Detroit techno trailblazer Juan Atkins joins Marvin as Associate Producer and Artist Program Director for AETDetroit. Atkins, a crucial component on the musical landscape, is excited to bring the production to light. “We wanted to concentrate on Detroit first. This is where it started, and it’s important to keep the theme going.” Atkins stated. “I’m humbled. I just started playing music, and now I get to bring it to the world.” He added.
Atkins will also present two of his own long shelved projects. Model 500, the solo project of Atkins, will perform in an advanced 3D presentation. Cybotron, Atkins original techno outfit from the 80’s and beyond, will make their long awaited public performance debut.
FEMT tickets are on sale now. Weekend passes are $300; Priority FEMT Access VIP Weekend Packages are $1,500. Proceeds from the Federation of Electronic Music Technology finance DEMF, making it free for all to enjoy.
WXOU has been named an Official College Radio Partner for DEMF/FEMT and will have your exclusive updates as they happen!
BREAKING NEWS: Two Oakland University Men’s Basketball players arrested for alleged rape
By Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
According to TMZ Sports, two Oakland University Men’s Basketball players Murray “Duke” Mondy and Dante Williams were arrested Thursday, November 14th for allegedly raping a female in Culver City, California within Los Angeles County.
Our search of public records in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Inmate Information Center indicates that both players are currently booked.
Also according to TMZ, they are being held on $100,000 bail.
Stay with WXOU for more on the story.
WXOU DJ runs metro Detroit marathons
By Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
Meet Cosimo D’Aleo. You may know him from his show that he co-hosts with Aaron Flohr, “Schadenfreude Time” which airs every Wednesday morning from 7-8am on our very own 88.3FM WXOU Radio. But did you know that he is a runner?
On Sunday, September 29th, D’Aleo ran the Brooksie Way Marathon on the campus of Oakland University in two hours and 27 minutes, two minutes slower than last year.
“I prepared for 12 weeks prior to the race by running 4-5 times per week, at an increasingly difficult pace. Also, the regime I followed had me slowly increasing the mileage every week and a half. In September, I ran nearly 150 miles,” D’Aleo said.
He did not stop there. D’Aleo will run the Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon on Sunday, October 20th for the first time. The marathon course takes runners around downtown Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, crossing the Ambassador Bridge and through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. It also takes the participants through historic neighborhoods, around Belle Isle, and along the RiverWalk.
“I’ve never been very athletic, so for me to accomplish anything remotely physical would be great. I am going to wear that medal around like Mr. T,” D’Aleo joked.
“After the marathon, I will be taking off a month, eating as many cheeseburgers and as much Asian food as possible. Then… back to training!”
WXOU News will be present at the marathon on Sunday, cheering D’Aleo on along with the rest of the runners. Watch for a follow-up story next week.
Football Club at Oakland University Black and Gold game
By Lillian Reid | @reidla923
Welcome week is an exciting time for students. This year a new addition is being added. The Black and Gold games will be hosted on Sept 7th at 8 P.M. at the Auburn Hills Civic Center field. The event features a football scrimmage starting at 8 P.M. Following the scrimmage will be a two minute routine by Vitality Dance. To wrap up the night a Summer Sevens rugby game will begin around 9 P.M. This new addition to welcome week not only help raise school spirit but helps students, new and returning, start off the year strong.
“We expect a lot of people to come and see what the Black and Gold games are all about,” said Ted Tansley, President of the OU Rugby club. “Once the Upper Fields are complete we can expect more people.”
Playing the games isn’t just for fun in this case. The football and rugby teams are dedicated to prove their worth as they fight to win.
“I am most looking forward to showcasing what’s become of this team to the OU community,” said David Brosky, President of the OU club football team. “Every single one of the guys has put so much time and effort into making this inaugural team the best it can be. We want to show Oakland that we aren’t just there to play, but weare there to win.”
The games feature not only different club sports on campus, but also various student organizations that are helping to support the games and make them possible.
“I look forward to seeing more students and student orgs working together to bring a larger campus community to Oakland,” said Tansley. “That’s what this game allows. It has some club sports working together and it has other student orgs coming and showing support.”
Word of mouth is a powerful way to spread a message, and that’s exactly what the teams hope to do by getting support at the upcoming games.
“I think this game will help spread the word for the new team. A lot of people know about us, but there are still a ton of people who don’t, or choose not to believe it,” said Brosky. “We have been promoting this game for a long time, and I think a ‘sneak preview’ of the team will really help to get the support going. People want to see it to believe it, and that’s exactly the purpose of this game.
Local defense contractor throws down rifle
By Mark Cowan, Jr.
“You sent me over somewhere where I could die based on lies… and I want my voice to be heard now.”
When you find yourself thinking that it’s too late to turn your life around and go down a different path, remember the story of Brandon Toy.
Brandon Toy, 34, resides in Rochester Hills, MI and has come into the light recently online for a decision he made.
Toy was a member of the Michigan Army National Guard in the Battery B, 1–182 Field Artillery unit in Bay City for 6 years, where he worked with Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and was a team leader and vehicle commander. He was deployed for 16 months and spent all of 2005 as a Military Police Officer on the east side of Baghdad in the New Baghdad and Sadr City areas during the Iraq War. After his enlistment was done, he got a job as an Engineering Project Manager at General Dynamics Land Systems, a defense contractor based in Sterling Hts., where he worked on the Stryker combat vehicle project.
About two weeks ago, Brandon Toy quit his job- very publicly, in fact. Toy sent his resignation letter to Common Dreams, a progressive online news site, and it was published the night he resigned. The resignation letter went viral.
“I read through all the comments… made me feel great about my decision,” Toy said.
Brandon came to his decision to resign after becoming increasingly disillusioned with the narrative professed by the U.S. government and the mainstream media during his time in Iraq.
Toy’s transformation from “true believer” in the Iraq War to outspoken public critic came over the space of a few years.
“I think that within the first couple months of arriving in Baghdad, most of the soldiers that I was with became disillusioned. It turned from a mission of liberating Iraq, and winning the hearts and minds was the big thing back then, to ‘hey, let’s just all get home alive.’ You remember everything they told us- about WMDs and we gotta bring democracy to Iraq and all that stuff… that stuff all went out the window,” Toy said.
Toy recalls one night, three years ago, when he told his wife and cousins about an incident in which he scared an Iraqi family by pointing his rifle at them during a traffic stop in Iraq. Toy had laughed about the scared reaction of the family. His family didn’t think the story was funny and were instead disturbed by it.
Toy had shared the story with fellow soldiers in the past and they had reacted by laughing and sharing similar experiences. Toy began to think about the difference in his reaction to the situation and his family’s reaction. During this time period, Toy began seeking out news from independent media sources.
During this time, Toy watched the Collateral Murder video for the first time, and recognized some of his own attitudes in the indifferent tone of the pilots in the video. The situation made Toy recall his previous laughter in reaction to his actions during the aforementioned Iraqi traffic stop.
He mentions the March 2013 exposé story that BBC Arabic and the Guardian did on Colonel James Steele as a turning point in how he felt about his relationship to the war effort and the intentions of the U.S. military and our government. Col. Steele was a retired special forces veteran of the “dirty wars” in Central America, who was nominated by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to set up a counterinsurgency force in Iraq.
“This gentleman, Colonel Steele, went over there and started training Iraqi police and Iraqi National Guard army personnel, as a counterinsurgency force and what they turned into was sectarian death squads,” recalls Toy. “During that time, according to the Guardian and BBC Arabic, about 3000 civilians were being killed a month. It was a lot of death, a lot of murder, they were also torturing- basically U.S. military sanctioned torture.”
“I realized when that story came out… that I had unwittingly been aiding this whole effort to train these counterinsurgency troops. I was a military policeman in Baghdad- we were responsible for going out the police stations and training, transporting, and equipping Iraqi policemen and Iraqi Army personnel,” Toy said.
“We had an inkling that they were infiltrated by Shia militias, but I never knew that it had gotten to the scale where so many people were being killed and tortured and that the people that I was training were the ones doing it, essentially.”
After the story came out, Toy didn’t sleep for several nights. He wanted to leave his job at GDLS immediately and spent that weekend drafting his resignation letter. His worried wife convinced him to seek other employment before quitting. Toy went on working for GDLS for a few months; feeling increasingly conflicted about his work.
In an interview on Russia Today with Abby Martin, Toy said, “It came to be that there wasn’t a line between sitting at that keyboard and being overseas with a rifle in my hands. I knew that I was aiding the bigger picture and that’s what really bothered me.”
On July 4th, Toy went to a movie theater and watched Jeremy Scahill’s documentary Dirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefield and was moved to tears by the pain of the victims of U.S. drone strikes and their families.
On July 8th, the Guardian released the second part of journalist Glenn Greenwald’s interview with whistleblower Edward Snowden. Toy remembers feeling hope and being inspired after Snowden expressed having had similar experiences to him and expressing similar feelings to the ones he was feeling.
One night, soon after, Toy’s situation became too much of a disparity in his conscience. He decided to resign in protest and make his voice heard. He brought his wife flowers that night and told her of his intentions. She was again reluctant, but could tell his decision had been made. They made an assessment of their financial situation and discussed their possible future actions and consequences they may face.
Brandon remembers driving up and down Mound Road in front of the GDLS building the next morning. He went into the building that morning and went right to his desk. He downloaded his resignation letter, which he had sent to himself in an email entitled “Birthday Party”. Toy then copied his resignation into emails to the entire company, his corporate chain-of-command, some friends, and the journalists he respected most.
Toy laid down his badge, property slip, and company phone on a desk in an empty conference room. He reread the emails one last time, hit send, and left the building.
“People have reached out to me,” says Toy. I’ve talked to a couple people from GD and they were supportive. One person in particular said… what I said made him rethink his involvement. I hope there’s more of that. That was kind of the point in me doing it so publicly. I didn’t want to just slink away into the shadows. I wanted to say ‘Hey, I’ve been supporting this for 10 years; I’ve put all my time and energy into this for 10 years. You sent me over somewhere where I could die based on lies… and I want my voice to be heard now. I want to make a statement and for it to be picked up and accepted by so many people is fantastic.”
Brandon understandably seems distraught about his experiences but he retains a positive outlook. “I’ve got to imagine I’m on some blacklist somewhere… Put me on all the military blacklists, the defense contractors’ blacklists, you know? That’s great, that’s fine.”
Toy is currently looking for employment in a progressive entity or nonprofit, “some kind of institution where I can put my energies into doing something good,” he says. He spends a lot of time with his family and is writing about his story.
The following is the closing passage from Toy’s public resignation letter:
“I was only a foot soldier, and am now a low level clerk. However, I have always believed that if every foot soldier threw down his rifle war would end. I hereby throw mine down.”
When asked to comment about Toy’s decision, a representative from General Dynamics said, “We don’t speak publicly or comment on employees’ personal decisions.”
Toy’s former unit in the ANG could not be reached for comment.
Listen to the interview here:
Football Club at Oakland University press conference
By Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
The very first Football Club at Oakland University (OU) held a press conference on Monday, August 5th officially announcing their season that starts on September 7th with scrimmages.
The conference was introduced by Nic Bongers, adviser and defensive back. He works as the Instructional Graphic Designer in E-Learning and Instructional Support at Kresge Library. “We are treating the creation of this football club like a new chapter in OU’s history books,” Bongers said.
Second year student David Brosky is the Club President and wide receiver. He had an urge to play football last fall, so he started looking into other club football teams. Brosky discovered that the University of Michigan – Flint has a club team, and are a part of the National Club Football Association (NCFA) in the Great Lakes Conference. After doing more research on it, he contacted the association about getting started. He then contacted the club adviser of OU, generated enough interest, and had it approved by the Club Sports Advisory Council. The team is filing to become a 501(c)(3), or a nonprofit organization.
Head Coach Al Manfroni “has been coaching since Jesus was a baby,” he joked. He discussed that his main priority is to make sure his players’ priorities are straight first and foremost, and their education has to come first. He believes that the hard work, dedication, and work ethic in the classroom will translate onto the field. Manfroni’s second priority is to give them the tools that they need to make them successful.
“Why do I do this? I have a full time job, but I do what I can because I love football. It’s been a lifelong passion. I love the game because I love what it does for young men, if it’s done right, and if it’s done the way it should be done. These young men learn a lot of life lessons that they carry with them for the rest of their lives about discipline, about hard work, about reward, about consequences, and the list goes on. I do it because I love to see success from the guys who play. I’m doing this sheerly for the love of the game. That’s my motivation,” Manfroni said.
The team will play at Auburn Hills Civic Center Park located at Cross Creek Parkway and Valley View Drive, which is walking distance from campus, and the team is working on having the Bear Busses to transport fans to and from OU. The team has four home games including a breast cancer awareness game against Miami (OH) University on October 19th.
Dr. Betty J. Youngblood comments on news articles regarding Beckie Francis
By Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
Current Oakland University (OU) Interim President Dr. Betty J. Youngblood released a statement on Wednesday, July 24th commenting on news articles with allegations of former Women’s Basketball Coach Beckie Francis discriminating against religion, and promoting particular beliefs.
In an email sent to OU employees, Youngblood stated, “As soon as allegations of religious discrimination came to light, the university acted swiftly to investigate. The university did not tolerate such conduct and will not tolerate such conduct moving forward.”
Youngblood went on to say, “As a campus community, we will continue to celebrate cultural diversity, inclusion, tolerance and understanding, as well as encourage the expression of all views within the context of appropriate times, places and manner. We will honor every individual’s right to free expression and freedom from imposed expression without fear of reprisal, ridicule or harm.”
This statement comes just two days after the former coach tweeted about the allegations saying, “Even though it’s tempting to comment on allegations about me, out of respect for the privacy of the student-athletes and others, I will continue to focus my energies on future endeavors and on making a difference. I wish Oakland University the best.”
EXCLUSIVE: Former women’s basketball player Jenna Bachrouche audio
By Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
On Wednesday, June 12th Oakland University changed.
Former President Dr. Gary D. Russi announced his retirement in a press release that afternoon. In the following hours Athletic Director Tracy Huth announced that Women’s Basketball Coach Beckie Francis, Russi’s wife, was “relieved of her position effective immediately.”
For some time, it was unknown exactly what caused Francis’ dismissal, and whether or not it was related to her husband’s retirement. On Friday, July 12th WXOU spoke with former player Jenna Bachrouche over the phone, and got a glimpse into just what that cause was.
Bachrouche discussed how Francis picked on her about her weight, created competitions of who could lose the most weight, had her get her blood tested, held meetings every week on her progress, as well as scrutinized what and how much she ate.
“Weight has never been an issue for me. [Francis] became fixated on it. It is still something that I struggle with now, as far as being paranoid about my weight,” said Bachrouche.
Bachrouche is of Muslim faith, and knew that Francis was Christian. Her mother asked whether or not religion would be an issue for Francis, and she said no. However, Francis showed the team film clips of her testimonies in church, had another player read the Christmas story straight out of the Bible at a mandatory holiday party, showed Christian movies on the busses to games, and even introduced them to people as a Christian team.
“You don’t really speak your mind with Coach Beckie. We stopped at a restaurant in Las Vegas, sat down, and she introduced us as a Christian basketball team. At that point, I was extremely angry. I didn’t even know what to say. I was fuming. My teammates were in awe, and had to calm me down because I was so upset. They ended up asking her about it, and she just said it’s a part of what it is. It’s a part of this team,” said Bachrouche.
Once Bachrouche finally had enough, she and her parents sat down with Huth. She mentioned that numerous people have gone to him before regarding Francis, and his answer was always “deal with it or you leave”. In the end he apologized and helped her transfer to Western Michigan University, where she remains happily today.
“I had to sell myself to people just because I had nothing to show for, which was unfortunate, but it was what it was,” said Bachrouche.
Listen for more exclusive audio from Jenna Bachrouche as WXOU continues to follow the story.
Meet and greet with Interim President
By Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
On Thursday, July 11th from 2 to 4pm, Interim President Dr. Betty J. Youngblood held a meet and greet in the banquet rooms of the Oakland Center.
Dr. Youngblood greeted every single person as they walked through the double doors. After just about everyone was seated inside with refreshment, she was introduced and took the stage to discuss her plans for Oakland University (OU).
Click the link below to hear audio of Dr. Youngblood talk about where she is from, her education, and some of her plans for OU.
“I have always attributed every success that I made in my career to my years as a student on this beautiful campus,” she said. ”We are going to do our upmost to make certain that no plans, no projects, and no initiatives that are currently in progress are overlooked or forgotten. I know we can count on your support and your input to keep us on track.”
SVP/OUTV Director of Video Services resigns
By Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
Scott Burke completed his final day as the Director of Video Services for the Student Video Production Club (SVP) and Oakland University Television (OUTV) yesterday to do more things with his time. He worked in the position for 14 years.
Burke told members of SVP and OUTV about his plans a few weeks ago. He mentioned that he would like to spend more time with his family, complete his PhD, and even start his own business.
Burke is not completely leaving OU, however. He will continue to teach classes within his field each semester.
“Scott Burke was a great boss and a lot of fun to work with. He will be missed,” said employee Nick Rolling.
Mr. and Mrs. say goodbye to Oakland University
By Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
The past week brought much breaking news on the campus of Oakland University (OU).
On Wednesday, OU President Dr. Gary D. Russi suddenly announced his retirement in an email to students.
In it, he recapped some of his accomplishments and said, “During my tenure, I am proud that the University has experienced tremendous growth. Our student population has grown to nearly 20,000, and the academic credentials of incoming first-year students have improved significantly. More than 65 new academic degree programs have been added since 1995, and full-time faculty has grown to more than 500. During this time, Oakland University has invested – often with state support – more than $400 million to enrich environments for teaching, research, learning and living.”
Dr. Russi’s retirement is effective August 1st of this year, and the current Associate Vice President for Outreach, Betty J. Youngblood, Ph.D. will serve as interim president.
But it did not stop there.
Just a couple of hours later, a press release from OU’s athletic website, ougrizzlies.com announced that Dr. Russi’s wife and women’s basketball coach Beckie Francis had been “relieved of her position effective immediately”. Jeff Tungate will serve as interim coach.
Francis took to twitter to also recap, “The work I have been doing over last year to bring awareness to issue of sexual assault is a very personal passion; I will keep advocating.” She had tweeted earlier, “Looking forward to next phase of life. Gary & I have talked about retiring for a while now-it’s time for both of us. Wish Oakland the best.”
Research said otherwise. Francis is only 47 years old, leaving her a long way to the average retirement age. On top of that, Francis hired a new assistant on May 1st, along with participated in a Horizon League announcement that took place on May 8th in Detroit. By the looks of it, Francis had no plans to leave OU.
Click on the link below to listen as WXOU News talks with Sports Director Don Tottingham about the story, even offering his personal opinions on the whole thing.
Puppy trainer picks up 50th Leader Dog for the Blind
By Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
On Friday, May 17th Promotions Director Scott Hunter and I traveled to the Leader Dogs for the Blind Training Center in Rochester Hills, MI to interview a puppy trainer as they picked up their 50th dog. No trainer has ever worked with as many as 50, until now.
Nan Nellenbach of North Branch has been raising puppies since 1976.
Nellenbach enjoys helping others. “We all have our independence and we take it for granted, and I think that as long as this helps someone, well, I’m willing to give.”
“I would advise future trainers to be consistent, be appropriate for bad behavior, as well as give them a lot of praise for good behavior, and have fun,” Nellenbach said.
When I asked if she would stop at 50, Nellenbach laughed and said, “Only if they make me!”
By: Misha Mayhand/WXOU News
This month is about “diversity and variety,” says Yolanda Jack, program director at Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History in Detroit.
Jack, who also studies theater at Wayne State University, says the best part of her job is educating people about history.
“We (the museum) really try to appeal to all people, not just people of African descent,” Jack says.
“The history of African-Americans may seem like it’s targeted towards a specific culture but it’s really world history, it’s everyone’s history if you live on this planet.”
She says it’s essential that we educate ourselves on each other’s history and culture because diversity is what strengthens us.
Event Planning and Exhibits
Her main duty at the museum is making sure programs happen on time, but she admits each event has its own obstacles and challenges.
“Sometimes events take months and even years to develop,” Jack says.
“When planning exhibits we shoot for a lasting impact.”
One of the exhibits showcased is “Visions of our 44th President,” which features several displays of artist-decorated busts of President Obama symbolizing what his presidency means to them.
According to Jack, the “Visions of Our 44th President,” exhibit actually opened before the re-election of President Obama.
“Our main focus was the first election of Obama’s presidency and the fact that there is the significance of being the first African-American president, but when he was re-elected, we saw it as a continued opportunity to really think and talk about his legacy and how he’ll carry on,” Jack says.
“There are several issues that president Obama is focusing on that directly affects the city of Detroit.”
Recently inaugurated for his second term, President Obama’s agenda includes issues such as gun violence, building up the middle class and finding ways to build up communities so that they can become stronger.
“These are issues that directly affect Detroit and as a result they impact us here at the museum, because we see our history and what has happened in the past– in terms of things that have broken up our past communities,” Jack says.
Among the 44 artists that contributed to the exhibit, each decorated a bust with their artistic vision and interpretation of what Obama’s presidency means to them.
“There are categories like family, strength, dreams and ambitions, and attendees have the opportunity to see what people think when they see president Obama,” Jack says.
“It’s not a common thing for us to see a “President Obama,” some of us are still getting accustomed to it, even though it’s the fifth year in his presidency.”
Jack says, after the exhibit leaves the museum, it will travel around the country for all to see.
If you decide to visit, these are facts to consider
January 1, marked the 150th anniversary of “The Emancipation Proclamation,” and the museum has set up a number of activities related to that theme.
“We’ve done readings of The Emancipation Proclamation” and allowed guest to give their opinion on what the significance of the document is,” Jack says.
The museum is also celebrating the 50th anniversary of several events that took place during the civil rights movement in 1963, and have connected events to that as well. Aside from the Obama themed exhibit, there is also the “And Still We Rise Exhibit,” an exhibit that directly correlates with the 150th anniversary of “The Emancipation Proclamation,” and the 50th anniversary of the events that happened during the civil rights movement such as Dr. King’s “I have a Dream Speech.” This particular exhibit setup is a two-level exhibit that allows guest to take an in-depth walk through history, including an intimate tour of a slave ship.
There are six exhibits available to guest who want to learn more about African-American history or simply to those wishing to re-educate themselves while celebrating Black History Month.
Tuesday, Feb 19 at 7 p.m., the museum will hold a discussion panel about the Obama exhibit and his presidency in relation to voter’s rights.
“There is a lot to talk about in terms of voters rights, we’ve been dealing with a lot of voter’s rights questions for the last 6-8 months, and they’re still being dealt with right now,” Jack says.
“It’s a very important issue.”
She says the panel is an opportunity for open discussion in the community about these issues.
“If you’ve never seen this exhibit, I encourage everyone to see it, it’s really cool,” Jack says.
Preceding the discussion panel from 6 to 7p.m. the exhibit will be open and free to the public.
Museum admission is $8 for adults, $5 for seniors and youth, and free for members and children under three.
For more information about the exhibits and how to get involved visit thewright.org.
Check out THIS interview with OUSC Vice President, Robbie Williford. The news team talk elections, homecoming and Meadow Brook Ball.
BY: Ashley Allison/WXOU News
Yesterday, the 47th Presidential Inauguration took place in Washington, D.C. President Obama was sworn into office for his second term and delivered his inaugural address.
He stated that, “the decade of war is now ending, an economic recovery has begun, America’s possibilities are limitless for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands.”
His speech centered around progress, not just in the near future but in many years to come, and to carry the light of freedom we as citizens have no matter what that future brings us.
Over 1 million people packed into the National Mall to get a glimpse of the president and other guests.
View the video to hear the inauguration speech in its entirety.
Video courtesy of The New York Times.
Robbie Williford, student body vice-president, sat down with WXOU news last Friday. Click the link to listen as he discusses the upcoming OUSC elections, bear bus and the gender neutral bathrooms.
Need more information on the recent smoking ban that was passed? Click the link above to hear Sean and Ashley’s news wrap on the subject. The piece also includes Cora Hanson, manager of Environmental Health and Life Safety.
Winter Welcome week events:
Thursday, Jan 3rd:
Noon to 1 p.m. in the pioneer food court there will be free root beer floats. *music by WXOU
From 7-9 p.m. the men’s basketball team will take on the University of Nebraska-Omaha in the O’rena.
Friday, Jan. 4th:
7-8 p.m. in the Vandenburg dining center will be “Friday Night Live” Comedy Show.
7-11 p.m. is Retro Night from 7-11 p.m. in Bumpers Game Room.
WXOU News caught up with Student Congress Vice President, Robbie Williford last Friday. Listen to the team and Robbie talk about the election as well as the many surveys being offered on campus to students.
WXOU 11/2 Click to Listen!
Need last minute voting help? Student Congress is throwing an event on November 1st, called Voting for Dummies. The event will help those who are still undecided or just want extra help researching the candidates.
As we are nearing November, the staff at WXOU news wants to make sure you are prepared to vote and we are here to help. Oakland will be holding many opportunities for students with questions about the election or candidates to seek answers and this is your first place to check for events!
Here is your first chance:
Oakland University’s Office of Government Relations will host a “Meet the Candidates Open House” from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Shotwell-Gustafson Pavilion on campus. Many state house districts were invited to attend and will be able to take questions face-to-face.
This is a very unique and valuable opportunity for students. Remember, there is more than just the presidential vote!
For more information regarding this event contact OU’s Office of Government Regulations.
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Oakland students will get the opportunity to see Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan TODAY, Oct. 8, in conjunction with a campaign rally set for 7 p.m. in O’rena.
The campaign has set aside 300 tickets for students. They are available now at the CSA office.
No bags, sharp objects, umbrellas, liquids or signs will be allowed into the O’rena. Doors will open at 5 p.m.