Tutus, tango and twelve hours of dancing: How Bobcats raised over $40,000 for charity

For a full 12 hours on Saturday Feb. 13, Baker Ballroom was transformed into a discotheque of giving, receiving and most importantly, fun.

The second annual BobcaThon was held on Saturday (2/13) to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio. Over 180 students gathered in Baker to dance the day away to raise money for the charity.

The orange team does a line dance at BobcaThon
The orange team does a line dance at BobcaThon

This year, BobcaThon raised over $40,000 for the Ronald McDonald house through year-long fundraising ending with a 12-hour dance marathon. Dancers sign up throughout the year and look to raise money. The year-long fundraiser ends with a day of dancing and stories from people who have stayed at the house. The majority of the money is raised by the dancers.

“It’s very empowering to be a dancer,” Meg Sanders, BobcaThon president, said. “It’s life-changing for a lot of people.”

The Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio, the largest of its kind in the world, is a charity that looks to give affordable housing to those whose children are in the Nationwide Children’s hospital for diseases and ailments. Without the charity, many families would not be able to stay close to their children while they are in the hospital. The house provides food, shelter and a supportive community to families who are affected by sickness.

Amber Fosler, a 2003 graduate of Ohio University, was the first to share her personal story about the Ronald McDonald House. Her son Elias was born without a bile duct. Because of this, his bile built up in his liver and caused deterioration of the liver. For months, Elias was in and out of the hospital with surgeries and illnesses related to his liver. For the majority of their overnight stays, the Fosler family stayed in the Ronald McDonald House.

The Fosler Family and their son Elias were residents of the Ronald McDonald House
The Fosler Family and their son Elias were residents of the Ronald McDonald House

“Other than having a clean and comfortable place to go, there was another benefit of having access to the Ronald McDonald House facilities,” Fosler said in a speech given to the BobcaThon participants. “Since birth, Elias has racked up more than $3 million dollars in insurance claims. We still had to pay out of pocket for our stay at the house. But, had we been forced to stay in a hotel, I have no idea how we would have been able to afford 60 nights. Because we had the house though, we had an amazingly affordable place to go.”

On average, it costs from $50-$100 per night for a family to stay at the house, according to Sanders. But families who stay are asked to make a donation up to $25 a night or do not have to pay at all.

“Not everyone can pay,” Fosler said. “But that’s ok; no one is ever turned down from Ronald McDonald house. And it’s only made possible by amazing people like all of you.”

With the exact amount raised being $40,473.01, families can spend over 400 nights at the Ronald McDonald house without having to pay. All thanks to the dancers and supporters of BobcaThon.

“We really all share one common goal: to put on the best dance marathon we can, and raise money for an amazing cause.” Sanders said.

Warm Up with Pi Beta Phi as temperatures drop

Sweet treats served an even sweeter cause during Pi Beta Phi sorority’s two-day philanthropy event to fight illiteracy. Pi Beta Phi promotes literacy both nationally and locally with “First Book” and “Read. Lead. Achieve.” through multiple fundraising events throughout the year.

On February 10th and 11th, 2016, members of the sorority took turns working shifts on the first floor of the Baker University Center where they sold homemade sugar cookies and hot chocolate. Students and faculty members alike who supported “Warm Up With Pi Beta Phi” expressed gratitude for the steamy beverage as the temperature dropped lower and lower.

Although some customers commented that it was far too early for sugar, many children walked away with smiles on their faces and cookies in hand.

The women had fun joking with students on their way to class and attempting to persuade them to support the worthy cause.

Take a cheat day from your spring break bod to eat some handmade Pi phi treats & help fight children's illiteracy

A video posted by Ohio Alpha Pi Beta Phi (@ohioupiphi) on

Above is a post by Pi Beta Phi’s official Instagram account at Ohio University. Cookies and hot chocolate sold for $1 each.

Megan Girvin, the spearhead of the event, is the vice president of philanthropy for the organization. She baked all of the sugar cookies for the event and then enlisted the help of other members to decorate them as a way for the women to bond and spend some time all together.

The women of Pi Beta Phi decorate sugar cookies for the upcoming philanthropy event.
The women of Pi Beta Phi decorate sugar cookies for the upcoming philanthropy event.

“We raised a little over $175, but being one of our smaller events, it was more about getting the girls involved,” said Girvin.

Leaders in the organization take every opportunity they can to promote member participation. Not only did Pi Beta Phi use this event to give back to the community, but it was also a way for new members to contribute and get to know more upperclassmen. The $175 will go toward supporting local schools in Athens County.

Girvin stated that Pi Phi will hold more philanthropies in the upcoming months. These events will earn significantly more money than Warm Up with Pi Beta Phi. The sorority will also hold “Knoodles for Knowledge” and “Pi Burger Phi” to support its campaign against illiteracy.

To find out more about the Ohio Alpha chapter of Pi Beta Phi, the organization’s website provides detailed information about its philanthropy and the chapter as a whole.

 

The Vagina Monologues bring female empowerment to Ohio University

The Vagina Monologues came to Ohio University on a three day bender starting Friday February 12th until Sunday February 14th, and with it came pride, power, and love, for the vagina. If you’re not familiar with The Vagina Monologues, it is a collection of short monologues that deal with anything and everything regarding the vagina. From stories about rape to the forced beauty standards of what a vagina is supposed to look and act like, the women in the show cover it all and the vagina’s influence on women every day. The show was not like typical play, audience feedback was not only wanted from the cast, it was expected. The woo’s and claps that are usually saved for the end were encouraged throughout the show.

Some monologues addressed serious issues such as rape. In one, a cast member discussed the tens of thousands of people assaulted and forced to be sex workers during the Bosnian conflict. Others monologues were more light-hearted, including one about the various moans from a woman in a dominatrix outfit. And some monologues focused on real-life experiences. Should women be almost hairless to please men? Should we be ashamed of saying “vagina” or “cunt”?

During intermission, Carol, who did not provide her last name, said the show already has helped her come to terms with the word cunt. “It’s always bothered me a little bit,” she said, pausing to nibble a vagina-shaped cookie. “But now that I know it’s nothing to be ashamed of, I’m not as upset about it anymore.”

Carol
Carol

The most important part of the event is the representation and the unapologetic love for womanhood. The ladies came out proud and loud and even had a skit featuring transexual women. The two spoke about their experiences growing up as woman yet not looking like one. All of the proceeds from the show, went to My Sisters Place and the cast raised more than $3,000.

Vag mons cast and crew loving themselves! Baker 3rd floor!

A photo posted by Ohio University Women's Center (@ouwomenscenter) on

Vagina Monologues open dialogue on the female experience

Ticket sales from the the sold-out opening night of The Vagina Monologues will benefit My Sister’s Place, an organization helping victims of domestic violence locally. In addition to ticket sales, profits made from the sale of t-shirts and buttons also went to Athens-based charity. According to the Facebook page for the Vagina Monologues, the opening-night show raised over $1,100.

The monologues, showing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Ohio University’s student center, are sponsored by the Ohio University’s Women Center and the Senate Appropriations Commission.

The first act of the show is a collection of monologues written by Eve Ensler in 1996 about female empowerment and ending certain stigmas associated with the female anatomy.

While the women performing stuck to the script of the Vagina Monologues in the first act, the second act was less traditional, although the entire show could hardly be called that. In the last half, members read various poems, some written by the cast members themselves, relevant to the struggles of women in society.

Marianne Dodson, a freshman with several appearances in the show said that while the concept of speaking freely about such an intimate concept initially terrified her, she came to realize that it was something that she desired to do.

“I heard about the show tryouts when the director posted about them on Facebook,” Dodson said. “At first, I was apprehensive because it’s just not something that I normally talk about. But as a feminist, I realized that there was no reason to keep the reality of the female body a secret. The show has helped me change the way I feel about talking about myself, and I hope it does the same thing for the women in the audience.”

Vag mons cast and crew loving themselves! Baker 3rd floor!

A photo posted by Ohio University Women's Center (@ouwomenscenter) on

Cast members from the Vagina Monologues pose for a picture before their opening performance.

Before audience members even purchased their tickets, they were warned that show contained graphic language and at some points nudity. The show also contained stories of rape and sexual violence. During the second act, one of the monologues involved one of the cast members stripping down to nothing but her underwear.

A message placed at the box office, warning viewers of the show's content.
A message placed at the box office, warning viewers of the show’s content.

Many audience members enjoyed the show and the message that came along with it. Kyra Cobb, a freshman who went to the performance said the show offered a message that far exceeded the $5 price of admission.

“The show was very empowering,” Cobb said. “I feel like there are so many things that we are not allowed to talk about in our everyday environments, and it’s great that they are trying to cultivate a safe community where women can express their day-to-day concerns openly.”

The Women’s Center puts on the monologues each year at Ohio University with new cast members and new poems and stories about the female experience. According to show director Ellenore Holbrook, the money that the monologues raises is the largest donation My Sister’s Place receives each year.

Black History Month speaker encourages students to enact change, strengthen sense of community

A veteran journalist and author of three books on urban life and culture visited Ohio University on February 11th to talk to students at the Baker Center Ballroom about the impact they can make on continuing African-American progress in the United States.

The featured Black History Month speaker, Darrell Dawsey, who has worked at several major newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Detroit News and Deadline Detroit, stressed the importance of building a sense of community and sharing an obligation as students in advancing change.

Mechanical engineering junior Mark Brown, a member of Ohio University’s local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter, moderated the event, discussing institutionalized racism, white privilege and other challenges African-Americans have faced throughout history.

“It’s very important that young people be involved in the social change because that’s where the energy and idealism comes from,” Dawsey said. “It’s the students that make change.”

Dawsey said the easiest way to show that black lives matter is just by acknowledging a black person.

“If you are going to have community, the first thing you have to do is recognize one another,” Dawsey said. “It’s very important to just acknowledge and speak to one another.”

Dawsey said that African-Americans have always had to work twice as hard and that they have never had the luxury to be mediocre.

“I believe black people have a particular obligation to be very good at what we do,” he said, adding, “and not just because we have to prove something to white people.”

He said that African-Americans are going to have to continue to fight to get where they ultimately want to be in society.

Dawsey flyer

“You have to be relentless. We’re talking about the value of your life. We’re talking about your very right of existing — that’s non-negotiable,” Dawsey said.

As students, Dawsey said that one not only has the obligation to be educated, but to educate others as well. He said that it is like stacking blocks, as everyone is standing on one another’s shoulders.

“The question isn’t where you are now, the question is where do you want to be in terms of community in two, three, four years?” he said.  “You guys want to be able to leave here and pass down what you learned and what you experienced to the new kids that matriculate in.”

Of course, he said white people also have an obligation as allies.

“It’s very important that you be involved, as white people, in unpacking your own racism, unpacking racism in your family, and challenging that,” he explained. “Your obligation is to listen and to ask if there is a way that you can be helpful, and how it is that you can be helpful.”

Women’s Center discussion makes students aware of Syrian women’s struggles

Images of Syrian refugees have been strewn across the Internet for the past few months as the Middle Eastern county continues to face a civil war.

Those images, though stirring, seem far away to most Ohio University students, but an event Feb. 11 in the Women’s Center made the issue feel closer to home.

Ziad Abu-Rish, an OU associate professor of history, hosted a conversation about the challenges for Syrian refugee women as part of the Women’s Center’s “Brown Bag” discussion series.

Besides facing the hardship of leaving their native country, Syrian women also encounter a reversal of traditional gender roles and economic and food insecurity, among other issues.

“We don’t want to ignore the ways in which not only women’s roles are changing or conceptions of femininity are changing. Here women are becoming heads of household,” Abu-Rish said, explaining that oftentimes men are unable to leave with their families to other countries. “If we do the breakdown not by male and female, but we do the breakdown by men on the one hand and women and children on the other hand, we will see that three out of every five refugees or four out of every five refugees are women and children.”

A map Abu-Rish used to show the disbursement of Syrian refugees to surrounding countries in the Middle East. (Source: BBC)
A map Abu-Rish used to show the disbursement of Syrian refugees to surrounding countries in the Middle East. (Source: BBC)

In a map Abu-Rish showed during the discussion, the distribution of refugees across various Middle Eastern nations was visually represented. Of the countries accepting refugees in the region, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq have accepted the most individuals, but more than 4 million people have been displaced in total.

These displaced women, Abu-Rish said, often have little to no money and restrictive labor laws may keep them from finding employment. As a result, many women turn to sex work in exchange for money or goods. Young girls are also being married off to older men at a much higher rate than was traditionally done in Syrian culture.

“You are seeing some families who are choosing which kid to send to school because they are only accepting one kid from each family because there are limited resources available,” Abu-Rish said. Children, and especially young girls, who are not chosen to attend school are often the ones to be married off for financial reasons.

“Someone, and usually a girl marrying into a different family, will put her in a situation where she will be taken care off,” he said. “In the very real situation where staying with her mom might very well result in her not being able to eat some days not being able to get health care.”

Many of the approximately 25 students in attendance said the discussion was informative and taught them about issues they did not think were happening for Syrian refugees.

“I honestly don’t know a lot about it, which is one of the reasons I wanted to come,” said Mara Diaz, a sophomore studying communication studies and Spanish. “I definitely think these should be happening more, and I think they should be happening in classrooms.”

Brown Bag discussions are held every Thursday at noon in the Women’s Center in Baker University Center. The next event, on Feb. 18, will focus on healthy masculinities.

A great crowd for Dr. Abu-Rish's discussion on challenges for women Syrian refugees

A photo posted by Ohio University Women's Center (@ouwomenscenter) on

Comedian Julie Goldman brings laughs and energy to OU stage

Arms flailed and feet flew as she screamed on the stage. Wild-eyed and red-faced, Julie Goldman was a ball of energy on a roll.

Julie Goldman visited Ohio University on February 9, and left Baker Center Theatre rolling on the floor. Goldman is both Jewish and a lesbian, aspects of her life that she focuses on heavily in her comedy. Jokes about growing up in a Jewish family, eating Chinese food for Christmas and feeling like the black sheep for her sexual identity were all fair game.

Julie has fun with the OU audience
Julie has fun with the OU audience

Goldman is extremely conversational, pulling the audience in and making them feel like they’ve known her for a long time. She told stories of growing up with her family, including the time that her brother burned their house down. “When you’re the lez in the family your brother burning the house down is the best thing that could happen,” quipped Goldman.

Among the family stories, Goldman was not afraid to tackle big issues with her comedy. She joked that according to television women love getting proposed to, going out to lunch, cleaning, taking stripper pole classes and relaxing by themselves in lingerie.

Goldman did get a little serious later on in the evening, a welcomed change of pace. In a Q&A after the show, Goldman did not shy away from pointing out that comedy is more like a frat house than anything. This makes breaking out in a big way more difficult for women, especially a lesbian woman who doesn’t gain appeal from straight men by making heterosexual jokes.

“I think that the entertainment industry is extremely sexist,” said Goldman. “[Comedy] is like a frat house, within a bowling alley, within a football field. It’s super sexist, even though there are a lot of women in it,” said Goldman.

Despite this disadvantage, Julie Goldman has been a part of “The Sopranos,” “The Big Gay Sketch Show,” “The People’s Couch” and more.

Julie Goldman is fast, funny and high energy. By the time she is done with a joke you don’t know what hit you. I expect that we will see more of Julie in the future, and I would personally love if she came back to do another show at Ohio University.

Spoken word brings Donkey Coffee to life on Tuesdays

Behind a closed, wooden door covered in posters and flyers, there is a room in Donkey Coffee cluttered with the kind of couches that steal patrons away from the world and the kind of old wooden chairs and tables that beg to be decorated with old ceramic mugs. At the farthest end from the door is a stage, furnished with a piano, a desk and a lamp.

On a typical weeknight this room is filled with the studious, the chatty and the introverted. But on Tuesday nights the room becomes Designated Space, a place for spoken word, whether that be a rant, a poem, a monologue or a song.

Griffin Allman, a freshman studying fine arts, sat in front of the stage with a few friends, his jacket still on and his backpack pressed to his leg, like he was waiting for something to start – or maybe for something to end. One by one people volunteered to step up to the microphone. Finally, Allman raised his hand, ran his fingers through his hair and then jumped on stage.

He read through a poem about a rough prom night and then proceeded to introduce a second reading.

“I guess I need to do trigger warnings for this one,” he said. “It’s something that I think about a lot. So, there’s a lot of thoughts of suicide and death and blood and stuff going on. I figured I should say that.”

 

That was Allman’s first time doing spoken word.

“All of that was true, and the second one is something that I think about a lot when I drive,” he said.

Allman doesn’t consider himself a poet because he doesn’t rhyme – which could be heard in his performance. He prefers prose.

Allman is no stranger to public speaking. He spent a lot of his extra time in high school doing speech and debate and is on the team at Ohio University as well. Most of Allman’s friends in high school were in competitive sports, but he wanted to compete in a different way.

Allman took a pause before he continued on. He started to describe a girl who broke his heart.
Allman took a pause before he continued on. He started to describe a girl who broke his heart.

“It was really exciting for me to find out that there is just this whole other world where you can competitively compete and win scholarship money, for just competitive emotion.”

When he takes the stage during debates, it is usually to recite a dramatic monologue about true events, like he did on Tuesday. But for Allman, Designated Space was a different beast. Before his performance, the freshman sat quietly, studying each speaker. 

“Surprisingly, I still get a little nervous talking, and since this is the first time that I’ve spoken here I was a little not sure if I wanted to. But I just figured I’d go for it, and after I did it I felt a lot better.”

And it was noticeable. After Allman stepped off stage, he ran his fingers through his hair again, but this time with a huge grin on his face. He encouraged one of his friends to get on stage and speak as well.

“Speaking competitively, when it comes to speech and debate, is something that I love to do,” he said.

‘Love Your Melon’ hits the ice for a cause

Ice skating requirements: good balance, fresh skates and — for a select group on OU’s campus — hats.

On Thursday, February 5 at 8 p.m., Ohio University’s own “Love Your Melon” crew took to the ice at Bird Arena in hopes of raising awareness of its cause.

The organization, which sells hats and uses some proceeds to help families pay bills associated with childhood cancer, met on the ice to pose for a photo and celebrate cancer awareness on World Cancer Day.

“It’s really nice to bring a little bit of joy into a child’s life,” said Analee Loecy, OU’s Love Your Melon Crew Captain. “I would encourage people to purchase Love Your Melon because you’re spending your money on something you can feel good about and believe in.”

Love Your Melon is a for-profit organization that sells American-made hats. 50 percent of the net proceeds from sales are funneled to the Pinky Swear Foundation, which helps families pay medical bills associated with childhood cancer.

Love Your Melon's philanthropy model has changed over time.
Love Your Melon’s philanthropy model has changed over time.

Loecy added that social media is a “big part” of Love Your Melon’s strategy, as all of its sales are carried out online. Put another way, meetings like this, where the group can create something to drum up interest in Love Your Melon, are essential to its cause.

The organization initially used a model similar to TOMS shoes: for every hat sold, a hat was donated to child diagnosed with cancer. But over time, Love Your Melon’s donations exceeded the number of children who were

A Love Your Melon beanie.
A Love Your Melon beanie.

battling cancer in the U.S., so the group tweaked its model, but retained its philanthropic nature.

Successful black writer comes to Ohio University for Black History Month to talk about racial inequality and struggles facing black men in America.

In observance of Black History Month, Ohio University and several campus organizations, including Ohio University’s Student Senate and the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, hosted a public discussion Thursday featuring black author, journalist, and social critic Darrell Dawsey.

Dawsey and the moderator, Mark Brown, a junior at OU studying mechanical engineering and who is an active member of the NAACP’s OU chapter, crowded the tiny stage erected for the event, which was held in the ballroom of the university’s student union.

The conversation took place in front of a diverse audience of students and faculty, and barring some lighting 20160211_202025miscues, the engagement, once underway, quickly hit upon pressing matters facing black men today.

When you start talking about adverse conditions facing black men today, Dawsey said, a lot of them are not predicated on education level, what neighborhood you live in, what organization you belong to, or what your political affiliation is.

“When black men are shot down in the street—when Walter Scott is shot by a police officer in South Carolina, when Samuel DuBose is killed by a police officer in Cincinnati, when Tamir Rice is shot by police officers in Cleveland—it affects all of us. They are shot down because they are black men,” Dawsey explained.

On the subject of white privilege, Dawsey said a lot the time it’s not about what you get for being white, but what you don’t get. “You don’t get treated the same way as black people; you don’t get looked at by employers the same way; you don’t get shut out of opportunities because of the way your name sounds.”

In trying to conceptualize for people what white privilege is, Dawsey suggests it’s useful to draw on gender politics because there exist certain parallels between race and gender. As he explains, “there are privileges by being a man that don’t accrue to women.” For example, as a man “I don’t have to think twice about walking down a dark alley; I don’t have to think twice about going in an elevator by myself; I don’t have to think twice about stepping into an elevator with two or three big men.” Similarly, Dawsey said, there are things that black people have to think about every day that never crosses the minds of white people.

Dawsey 4When the conversation came to the issue of institutionalized racism in America, Dawsey said there are certain goals and aims that larger white society wants but has to retroactively fashion excuses and logic to maintain. For instance, when particular universities want to limit the number of black people admitted to their institution and maintain a bias for white applicants, they retrofit an excuse, claiming whom they admit is solely based on merit, he said.

Contrived excuses are exposed, said Dawsey, when you look at California’s state university system, where at one point campuses became flush with Asian and Asian- American students. Asians “had the highest GPAs; they were coming in with all the credentials. And what happened,” Dawsey asked, “they put a cap on the number of Asian-American students that matriculated to the California state university system.”

This is where the claim that college admissions are strictly based on merit breaks down, according to Dawsey. White students were getting knocked out of position; they were not getting into some of these schools, Dawsey explained, and if admissions were strictly based off of merit, then California’s state university system would be “85 percent Asian.”

When speaking about how hard it is for black men to achieve the same level of success as white men, Dawsey mentioned Justice Hill, who is a professional sports writer and journalism professor at OU’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, and who is a close friend to Dawsey and was seated in the audience. Dawsey poked fun at his friend, saying he always looks angry. However, Dawsey said Justice has a right to be an angry black man, because if Justice were white “there would be no question about his place in the sports writing pantheon in this country.”

Dawsey himself has achieved a high level of success despite institutionalized racism and the adversities that still face black men in American society today. Dawsey has worked for several major newspapers around the country, including The Los Angeles Times, the Philidelphia Inquirer, and the Detroit News. Dawsey has authored three books, including one that is going to hit bookshelves soon called “Ten Reasons Why You Should Not Kill Yourself.”