All-inclusive United Campus Ministry offers volunteer opportunities

Editor’s note: In a nod to the Thanksgiving holiday, reporters for the Shopping section of Court Street Stories have decided to “shop” for a local charity. What better way to say “thanks” than to find an organization worthy of a donation or volunteer work?
What’s the UCM?

UCM logo
Their logo, including atheist, Satanic/Wicca, and humanist symbols

Religious institutions have the reputation of being exclusive and righteous to a fault. The United Campus Ministry in Athens couldn’t be more different than that.

Supported entirely by a few local congregations and personal donations, it accepts people from any faith or non-faith. Their mission is to engage the community in spiritual growth, community service and work for justice, guided by socially progressive and interfaith values.

UCM facilitates cooperative activities and discussions among people of varying, sometimes contradictory, faiths.  How can a Christian and a Satanist agree on anything about religion?  Rev. Evan Young, Campus Minister, says it’s all about open discussion.  “We encourage understanding each other and in doing so, we understand ourselves better,” he said.  “We all have the same questions: What happens to us when we die? Why do we suffer?”

The United Campus Ministry would love for you to participate in these discussions and/or get involved in their volunteering efforts this holiday. Here are just a few ways to contribute.

Thursday supper and Saturday lunch

Student and community volunteers work together to plan, prepare, set-up, and serve free, hot, nutritious meals for low-income community members. Every Thursday and Saturday.

Interfaith impact student organization

Interfaith dialogue facilitated by Rev. Young, every Thursday night (7:30-9)

Better Together

An award-winning campaign that focuses on environmental justice and food insecurity in Athens County. Students have raised money and awareness for local and international organizations including Charity Water, the SE Ohio Foodbank, and Community Food Initiatives.

Alternative break trips

Winter break trips have included Witness for Peace delegations to Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela; Pine Ridge Reservation, post-Katrina New Orleans, US-Mexico border, and Washington D.C. Available to all students.

PayPal donations

UCM’s website accepts donations of any size.

Buy stuff at Kroger

Kroger gift cards are available at UCM. A percentage of grocery and gas purchases with the Kroger card will go to UCM at no cost to you. Call or email for details and to obtain your card.

Other volunteer opportunities

  • Groundskeeping and routine building maintenance
  • Bulk mailing prep (folding and labeling)
  • Fundraising and outreach events and activities

Social media

To keep up with what the ministry is doing – Follow @ucmohiou on Twitter and/or friend ‘United Campus Ministry at Ohio University’ on Facebook

Additional information on these and other actives can be found on their website.

 

 

At the Athena: ‘Experimenter’ review

Runtime: 1 hr. 48 min. | Rated PG-13 | $6.50 at Athena Cinema

How and why can good people be influenced to do bad things? How does the average German citizen allow something like the Holocaust to happen?  In the 1960s, American social psychologist, Stanley Milgram, conducted experiments that proved how easy it is for authority figures to force ordinary people to harm others.

Experimenter (starring Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder) is a biopic of Stanley Milgram’s later life and focuses on his controversial “Milgram experiments.” In over 1,000 separate trials, he found that people would usually administer fatal shocks to a stranger if an authority figure told them to. The person thought to have been in pain was a confederate, an actor in on the experiment.  They would scream, demand to leave and would bang on the walls. Eventually Milgram did a variation of the experiment where test subjects would forcibly hold down the confederate’s hand on a shock panel. Still the subjects overwhelmingly obeyed the authority figure –  just an actor pretending to be a psychologist.

experimenter
A variation to the original experiment – asiandrama.me

The movie depicts these experiments masterfully with convincing performances and great pacing. During each trial, Milgram narrates to the audience the most important thing that he notices and each is philosophical and interesting. Every different outcome is presented and each variation to the experiment is showed which furthers our understanding of it.

While the focus of the film is on these experiments and what came of them in the succeeding decades, there is time dedicated his family life and other similar experiments that he did and did not conduct.

These similar experiments were interesting in themselves but their purpose in the movie is uncertain, other than Milgram further philosophizing directly to the audience that people are conformists and obey authority. Perhaps they are only there to drive home what the Milgram experiment already told us.

Another curious thing about the film is its sporadic use of green screen to make it look like a play. Still images, black and white footage and paintings made to look like a set will sometimes command the background. Then the next scene will be on location at an airport or a nice looking set. Also, an Elephant will sometimes follow Milgram as he monologizes down a hallway (referencing the idiom “Elephant in the room” maybe?).

Experimenter
One of many green-screen shots – thisislandrod.blogspot.com

These quirky parts of the film are stylistic choices, but ultimately they’re unnecessary. Everything else is played so natural and convincing that intentionally bad looking backgrounds and other abstract visuals are jarring.

Experimenter is full of great performances and has interesting subject matter. But, once the Milgram experiments end the remaining movie is jumbled and unfocused. A better screenplay and more realistic look could have really made the theme and Milgram’s life much more entertaining to watch.

Experimenter is currently at the Athena Cinema and plays daily at 5:10, 7:40 and 9:40 with Saturday & Sunday matinees at 3:10. It is also available on demand.

At the Athena: Goodnight Mommy review

Runtime: 1 hr. 40 min. | Rated R | $6.50 at Athena Cinema

As the summer draws to a close, two twin boys finally get to live with their mother again.  She’s been away for awhile, recovering from extensive surgery to her face.  She arrives bandaged up — she acts differently. She doesn’t seem like the old mom.  Is it someone else? Is it even human? Or are the boys’ imaginations running wild.

Goodnight Mommy is a foreign horror film out of Austria that received critical acclaim when it released last year. It has been in the states since Sept. 11 and is currently being shown at the Athena Cinema.

It’s hard to argue with the critics on this one.

This film is mysterious — tasking the viewer to put the creepy puzzle pieces together. It’s suspenseful and dread-inducing. As the boys get more suspicious of their mother(?), they do more sneaking around. The heightened suspense comes from the fact that you don’t know for sure what that thing that came home is. She could reveal her true form at anytime and things could get ugly in a split second.

It is a horror film by definition, one that pairs disgusting images with a feeling of unease. It is also, at times, hard to watch but not in a way you’d expect. It’s understated. It’s believable. It feels real.

Thirty minutes before the film ends, you may be confused. You’ll be forced to watch some disturbing things and you’ll want it to be over as badly as you want to know what happens next. Then, the twist ending arrives and it all makes sense. The movie’s ending pays off in a big way and instantly made me want to see it through again.

The film felt like an extended, modern episode of the ’60s television series “The Twilight Zone” — lauded for its pacing, minimalism and its proficiency at inducing dread. One of Rod Serling’s iconic monologues would fit perfectly following the twist ending of Goodnight Mommy. I suppose it would have to be in German though.

goodnight mommy
Like this…only way darker – image provided by theredlist.com

Some people may not like to read subtitles but that’s not something that has ever bothered me. Its European setting — with its beauty and inherent creepiness — elevates the movie.  It wouldn’t be the same without it and having subtitles is so much better than any alternative.

Goodnight Mommy is a unique horror film that has superb pacing, performances and cinematography. The worst parts of  horror films are jump scares — they’re cheap and unsatisfying.  This film has largely avoided this practice. There are loud noises at times but the film is scary and suspenseful because of its disturbing images and a turn you won’t see coming.

See it at the Athena (plays daily at 9:50 p.m. with 7:30 p.m. shows on Tuesday & Thursday) while its still there or find a way to watch it on a streaming service —  if it ever gets there. Maybe play it safe and see it at the Athena.

 

The Ridges: evolution of an insane asylum

The Ridges is a former “insane asylum” that sits to the Southwest of Ohio University’s campus. The mental institution – originally named the Athens Lunatic Asylum in 1874 – was one of many in Ohio at the time. The asylum largely treated a large number of Civil War veterans who suffered from PTSD. Patient population was at a manageable level and  treatments were humane until the early 1900s.

In the 1900s, the number of patients increased tenfold (200 to 2000). Teenagers labeled as rebellious and women suffering from hysteria – usually women crazy enough to enjoy sex – were sent to the asylum in addition to people who actually did have mental problems.  A Complex Magazine article, listing America’s craziest insane asylums (The Ridges made number one), claimed that a women named Margaret Shilling was one of these women suffering from “hysteria”.

Shilling attempted to escape the asylum by hiding in the attic. But she never did leave that attic. She died of starvation before she could even reach the Hocking River. A stain on the floor of the asylum has been credited as Shilling’s decomposing corpse’s imprint.

It seems like the stain would be removed if possible
Margaret Shilling’s permanent stain – totallytop10

The growing population become harder to handle. Despite the fact that the patient intake was growing, the number of staff had remained relatively unchanged. Patients thought to be uncontrollable were put through tortuous acts and mutilation. “Water treatment” – being confined to an ice-cold bath or being immobilized by being wrapped in freezing-cold sheets – was common.  Shock therapy was frequently used. Doctors preformed lobotomies on who they termed the most violent and uncontrollable patients. A new type of lobotomy – the trans-orbital lobotomy – was developed by Dr. Walter J. Freeman in the early 1950s. His procedure was used at the Athens Asylum.

“This simpler lobotomy became something of a craze in mental health circles up through the 60s. Dr. Freeman’s method involved knocking the patient unconscious with electric shocks, then rolling an eyelid back and inserting a thin metal icepick-like instrument called a leucotome through a tear duct. A mallet was used to tap the instrument to the proper depth into the brain. Next it was sawed back and forth to sever the neural receptors. Sometimes this was done in both eyes.” – Forgottenohio

Dr. Freeman performs a trans-orbital lobotomy in 1949 - Forgottenohio
Dr. Freeman performs a trans-orbital lobotomy in 1949 – Forgottenohio

In the decades to follow, previous methods of treatment were phased out in favor of anti-psychotic drugs, such as Thorazine. Dosages and the drugs themselves were refined over the years. Medication was obviously a more humane way of controlling patients. During this time and up until the mental health center was given to Ohio University in the 1990s, overall treatment of patients was massively improved. Treatments formally expanded into drug rehabilitation and geriatrics.

But The Ridges’ sorted past has inspired many legends. Many people still claim that the asylum is haunted by its former patients. It is rumored that the most haunted part of the grounds is the cemetery where there are many unnamed graves. Many former patients had neither family nor someone who cared enough to pay for a tombstone. The graves are marked simply by numbers.

The Ridges Cemetery - attribution?
The Ridges Cemetery

The final patients were moved in 1993. Renovations were made to most of the buildings by Ohio University once it gained ownership. Many offices are now at the ridges and the main building, Lin Hall, houses the Kennedy Museum of Art.  Few of these “mental institutions” still stand today. Even fewer are in the condition that The Ridges is in. Its buildings are a haunting reminder of the worst days in America’s effort to “treat” the mentally unstable and patients termed as being “hysterical”.

 

Ohio University presidents: Their legacy and namesakes

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Seemingly, every building on campus is named after some man you’ve never heard of.  It turns out a good chunk of these men are former Ohio University presidents.   In the college’s 210 years, 20 men have been able to call themselves president of Ohio University and each contributed to the school that we enjoy today.  The following is a little bit of information about OU’s former presidents and the buildings that are their namesakes.

 

Jacob LindleyJacob Lindley (1809-1822)
Tenure: 1809-1822

Lindley was the first president of Ohio University and was the sole professor until 1814. The university at this time went by American Western University. Lindley Hall was built in 1917 for female residency and is currently closed for renovation.

 

 

 

Robert G WilsonRobert G. Wilson (1768-1851)
Tenure: 1824-1839

Wilson’s presidency saw the first African-American graduate for the university which was only the sixth instance of that happening in the country. He also had to deal with the schools first riot in 1835, which was over a pledge that required students to report on their disorderly peers. Wilson Hall was completed in 1837 and now houses the College of Arts and Sciences.

 

 

William Holmes McGuffeyWilliam Holmes McGuffey (1800-1873)
Tenure: 1839-1843

McGuffey is probably Ohio University’s most famous and internationally known school president. His primary school textbooks known as the “McGuffey Readers” were used throughout the United States and a minimum of 120 million copies were sold. He resigned after continued disagreements between him and the university’s community caused a considerable drop in staff and attendance. McGuffey Hall, a small building created in 1839 has had many purposes throughout the years including the housing of residents, student organizations and administrative offices.

 

 

Alfred RyorsAlfred Ryors (1812-1858)
Tenure: 1848-1852

During Ryors’ time at Ohio University, a student tried to set Cutler Hall on fire and he wasn’t expelled until the following year. Also, the university’s first scholarships were given out in order to recover from a temporary closure of the school that ended in 1845. Ryors Hall was finished in 1966 and is a residence hall on West Green.

 

 

Alston EllisAlston Ellis (1847-1920)
Tenure: 1901-1920

In addition to several academic advancements like the school’s first female African American student graduate, Ellis had squirrels introduced to the campus in 1908 – their posterity still thrives today. The Ellis Hall building was built in it’s entirety in 1908 and is one the university’s oldest and largest classroom buildings.

 

 

Elmer Burritt BryanElmer Burritt Bryan (1865-1934)
Tenure: 1921-1934

Bryan was tasked with increasing male attendance because women dominated the university’s biggest program – teacher preparation. A men’s gymnasium, a stadium, and Memorial Auditorium were built and Ohio University joined its first athletic conference. Bryan Hall, a residence hall on College Green was completed in 1948 and is a quiet study facility with a GPA requirement.

 

 

Herman Gerlach JamesHerman Gerlach James (1887-1959)
Tenure: 1935-1943

During James’ presidency, the graduate school was instituted, the ROTC program was established, and the newspaper’s name was changed to the Post. He also saw the mass exodus of men during WWII, a war in which he desired to participate in directly. This paired with illness caused him to resign. James Hall is a residence hall on West Green and was built in 1963.

 

 

Walter Sylvester GamertsfelderWalter Sylvester Gamertsfelder (1885-1967)
Tenure: 1943-1945

As interim president, Gamertsfelder led the University through the end of WWII and an average enrollment of just 200 men. After the war, a memorial service honored 221 alumni who had died overseas. Finished in 1956, Gamertsfelder Hall is the largest residence hall on East Green.

 

 

 

John Calhoun BakerJohn Calhoun Baker (1859-1999)
Tenure: 1945-1961)

Baker put extensive effort in strengthening and broadening international programs including the Nigerian educational program. He retired at age 65 due to a provision the he, himself initiated. More than one Baker Center has existed but the new one has meeting and dining rooms, theaters, as well as offices for several university organizations. It was built in 2006 and opened in the following winter.

 

 

 

Vernon Roger AldenVernon R. Alden (1923-)
Tenure: 1962-1969)

Under Alden’s presidency, student enrollment and the number of faculty doubled. There was also an increased commitment to research and volunteerism and expansion of international programs. Alden Library is among the 100 largest libraries in the U.S. and opened in 1969.

 

 

Claude R. Sowle,Claude R. Sowle (1928-1997)
Tenure: 1969-1974

Sowle’s administration was during the height and aftermath of the Vietnam War. Riots caused the closure of the university for extended periods of time. Enrollment and income declines did not stop the construction and renovation of several buildings and long-term leases for commercial development were authorized. Sowle Hall, called Southwest during its development, is a residence hall and was completed in 2015 along with three other halls near it.

 

 

Charles J. PingCharles J. Ping (1930-)
Tenure: 1975-1994

Ping entered as president during a time at the school where enrollment was down and a financial crisis loomed. Under his tenure, enrollment hit an all-time peak of 25,000 and the financial problems dissipated. The main campus more than doubled in size and the “Ridges” mental hospital was transferred to the university. The Ping Student Center is a recreational center and opened in 1996.

 

 

 

Robert GliddenRobert Glidden (1936-)
Tenure: 1994-2004

Glidden continued the work of his predecessor, Charles Ping.  An increase in scholarship funding and overall budget contributed to every corner of the school. Major renovations to Gordy Hall, Grover Center, and Memorial Auditorium were completed and he set the framework for the new Baker Student Center. The Music Building was renamed to the Robert Glidden Hall when he retired in 2004.