How Athens Police Department keeps its Bobcats under control during fest season

Springtime in Athens has rolled around again. With it comes beautiful weather, graduation, and of course fest season.

Fest weekends tend to be much more disorderly than the average weekend in Athens. As a result, the city always sees a necessary increase in police presence. With such an increase in population and risky behavior, what steps do the authorities take to keep these young adults safe?

The number of officers patrolling increases dramatically during the spring fests. Officers play a variety of distinct roles during this time of year. There are authorities patrolling on foot, horses, and some in plain clothes as undercovers.

Athens Police Department’s Mounted Patrol are the most iconic role that police employ during fest season. They never fail to get attention from students.

Mounted police begin their journey at the Athens Fairgrounds and ride their way into town toward the fest attendees. They typically travel in packs of 3 to 12 officers.

“We use the horses because it gives our police force more of a presence. We think that the presence of the horses and the view we get from being up high helps us to defuse and control situations before they can get out of hand,” said Ohio University Police Officer Bryan Newvahner. Mounted patrol officers seem to get the attention and respect of fest-goers much more effectively than officers in patrol cars, riding bikes, or on foot.

The Athens Police Department does allow for students to pet the horses, they just request that the students ask for permission before touching the animals.

A group of officers that I spoke with were all in agreement that an officer on horseback is much more effective at stopping and preventing reckless behavior in addition to maintaining order opposed to officers on foot. Mounted officers in Athens have been used since 1996 and do not seem to be going away anytime soon. They have become a staple in the spring fest image and culture.

Police reinforcements come from around the state from locations including; Columbus, Medina, Dublin, and Summit to name a few. They come from all over Ohio to support the Athens Police Department during its busy fest season. The Athens Police Department shares a mutual aid agreement where each department assists the other during busy weekends. “We need reinforcements to accommodate for the huge jump in population and risky behavior,” said Newvahner.

“We typically make around 25 to 30 arrests on any given busy fest,” said Newvahner. “We want to let students have fun but prevent them from hurting themselves or anyone else around them.” The majority of the arrests that law enforcement make are for public urination, underage drinking, or public intoxication.

Some of the fest attendees were under the impression that the police specifically targeted their party while allowing others to continue. This left me wondering, why do officers shut down certain parties and not others?

The Athens Police Department clearly wants to prevent and stop the reckless and risky behavior that comes with fest season, but why do they choose to shut down one party and allow the others to continue? To an outsider, each party just appears to have loud music and many drunk college students.

The main criteria that officers take into consideration when shutting down house parties during fests is behavior. “More often than not when we shut down a certain address it is because they have had several repeated offenses over a period of time at the same location,” said Newvahner. The repeated offenses usually happen later in the day, after students have already been drinking for an extended period of time.

Police did not always shut down street fests as early as they do now. When Ohio University was on the quarter system only a few years ago, fests would go much later into the evening.

Police began shutting down parties much earlier on the semester system because the conflict between fest-goers and law enforcement was so high. Athens Police Department found that when they prevented the fests from going so late, the encounters they had with students decreased dramatically.

As is to be expected, some students are less than enthusiastic about their parties getting shut down by the police. One tenant of a Mill Street rental property, Stephanie Anthony said, “there were parties a lot louder and crazier than ours. I don’t know why they shut us down, it’s our property.”

Each student that I spoke with seemed to have a different opinion on the police presence during the fests. Some were appreciative of the presence that they had and thought that it made them feel safer in a hectic environment.

I spoke to Mark Taylor, a sophomore studying management information systems to get his take. “I feel safer knowing that there are police all around me when so many people are drinking. They pretty much let us do what we want and only get involved if it gets too crazy, plus I love petting all the horses.”

There are also students who find that the police are too intrusive on their festing. “The number of cops just seems unnecessary, we have gotten more and more every year for the last four years and they shut down the streets earlier and earlier every year too,” said Brett Webb, a senior studying geology.

Officer Newvahner said that there are a few steps students can take to stay safe and avoid conflict with law enforcement during fest weekends. “Drinking on the sidewalk is and always has been illegal, so do not do it,” said Newvahner and a few of his colleagues.

The officers also said that respect is very important when it comes to dealing with the police. They are there to maintain order and keep students safe, they are not out to get anyone or prevent students from having a good time.

He also said, “if it is your house, try to keep it under control.” Recurring violations, such as noise, public urination, littering, and intoxication can lead to a citation and the authorities asking students to leave if they do not live there.

After interviewing representatives from both sides, students and law enforcement, there seems to be a good balance of control and freedom for the students to have fun without harming themselves or others around them.

Students and law enforcement look to have another successful fest season in spring of 2018.

Women’s Fashion in Athens: A guide to looking good at OU while not giving a sh*t about what people think of you

HIGH SCHOOL VS. COLLEGE

Ah…high school. Strategically planning your outfits the night before a full day of school as if your life depended on it seems to have been a common occurrence among teenagers. In college, nobody gives a sh*t about what you wear. I’m telling you right now to stop stressing. If you need some helpful fashion tips, keep reading.

The following information includes the general fashion trends. Do not limit yourself to these. Wear whatever you want. Be happy, comfortable, confident, and express yourself… even if it means wearing a banana suit!

WHERE TO SHOP

Amazon Prime. As a college student, you are eligible for a free 6-month trial of Amazon Prime. This will give you free two-day shipping, access to hundreds of free movies and TV shows, and access to hundreds of playlists through Prime Music. It’s awesome. After your 6-month trial is up, you get Amazon Prime for 50% off ($40 a year, so worth it). Click here to sign up! 

Court Street. Fig Leaf and The Other Place are two of the more popular boutiques on Court Street. Some of their items can be expensive, but watch for their awesome sales! If you’re looking for some nearby OU apparel, try College Bookstore, Follett University Bookstore, or UniversiTEES.

East State Street. Did you know Athens has a mall? I use the term “mall” loosely. It consists of a couple stores like Elder-Beerman and Goody’s. These places usually have some good deals. Dunham’s Sports is also located at the mall. It’s basically Athen’s version of Dick’s Sporting Goods. They also have OU apparel there. If you need to go to a real mall, the closest one is actually in Vienna, West Virginia (about a 45 minute drive).

Explore East State some more and you’ll find a couple other gems like Rue 21. Check out the whole strip. You’ll also find SHOE Department.

 

We can’t forget Walmart. Other than underwear and socks, Walmart is good for simple clothing items like tank tops, sweat pants, or t-shirts. They also have cute, cheap OU apparel!

 

 

A NO BULLSH*T, TO THE POINT, SEASON-BY-SEASON GUIDE

The following information is subject to change due to the indecisive weather of the state of Ohio.

FALL

Leggings. Skinny jeans. Boots. Scarves. Vests. Hoodies. That’s all you need to know.

WINTER

Same as above. You may want to dress a little warmer and have a heavier jacket. Make sure you dress in layers because the classrooms can get really hot. If you want to REALLY break the “not giving a sh*t” meter,  just dress up as a winter Disney princess and lighten the mood on campus. Check out The Post’s article on this dude here.

SPRING

Spring is an interesting time in Athens. It can be 40 degrees or it can be 85 degrees. You’ll want to have some flip flops, jean shorts, rompers, comfy dresses, and tank tops. If the weather is in the “in-between phase” you can always mix and match tank tops with a pair of jeans and a light jacket. Athens can be pretty rainy too. Invest in some rain boots and a rain jacket.

FEST SEASON

You should dress obnoxiously. Everything and anything is acceptable (unless you’re naked..then the horse cops will get you). Fest season might be the only time where fanny packs are actually a fashion trend. Sports jerseys seem to be a common trend too. Make sure you wear clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty. You should definitely consider wearing boots. Also, show your school spirit. Wearing a lot of OU apparel is another option.

SUMMER

Wear the same outfits you’d wear in the spring if it’s hot. You can throw a bikini in there too.

WHY YOU ULTIMATELY SHOULDN’T GIVE A SH*T

OU is the greatest school. Coming here was the greatest decision of my life and it should be yours too. I have never seen anyone get judged or made fun of over something they chose to wear. We are all a loving Bobcat family. Don’t over think it.

 

MEMORABLE QUOTES FROM SEASONED VETERANS

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Alexa Uber (sophomore), center, poses with friends. “If you like to look cute everyday, look cute everyday. If you like messy buns and sweatshirts, that works too.”
Allison Hinton fearlessly dons her fanny pack. "This isn't high school anymore so you don't need to worry about what every other girl is wearing or if you'll stand out, do whatever makes you happy!"
Allison Hinton (freshman), left, fearlessly dons her fanny pack. “This isn’t high school anymore so you don’t need to worry about what every other girl is wearing or if you’ll stand out, do whatever makes you happy!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victoria Fox (senior) poses with a friend prior to #fest. "Just do you boo boo."
Victoria Fox (senior), left, poses with a   friend prior to #FEST. “Just do you boo boo.”  

 

 

 

 

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Miranda Stepka (sophomore), left, poses with her friend. “Be your own person with confidence and you’ll look good in anything.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


*Subjects freely contributed the above Instagram photos 

CNN: Curation Nation Network

News near you

CURATED BY CAROLINE PIRCHNER

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As of mid February, the hike of New Year’s Resolution Ping goers has been going up alongside pre-spring break Ping goers, according to an interesting chart in The Post’s article by Julia Fair. Regular gym goers have been trying avoid the rush. The assistant director of Ping says that working out can not only help you achieve a weight loss goal but a less stressful state of mind.

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GIRL SCOUT COOKIES! Troop 1406 is selling them for $4 a box at the top of Baker from 3:30-6 p.m. on Tuesday and 4-6 p.m. on Thursday. What better place to sell than on a college campus? Grab a couple boxes of some thin mints and get not so thin while benefiting good causes.

OU – UNDER CONSTRUCTION SINCE 1804

OU has always seemed to have been “under construction” in many areas on campus. It actually happens to be part of a “10 year plan” to renovate the university. The major goals of this operation include actions such as finally getting rid of all the South Green dorms and making campus more walking and biking friendly. The Athens News has the full story. 

Prez McD and Mayor Wiehl sent out a letter to students who live off campus regarding Athen’s expectations on laws that have probably, no, DEFINITELY been broken in the past. Traffic patterns, being too loud, outdoor fires, and of course alcohol is mentioned.

 

Athens Culture

CURATED BY KAYLA BEARD

Local elementary school students learn the importance of sustainability. A new exhibit at the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery allows students to explore the benefits and practices of ecological sustainability. 

Local DJ Brandon Thompson is calling for the city to close Palmer Street and High Street specifically for fest season. Thompson, who regularly performs at the fests, is pushing a petition that would close the streets during fests and has proposed a system where students fundraise to cover the cost of extra police.

Athens Middle School will be hosting a band concert next Tuesday. 

Starting this Friday in Athens’ neighboring city, Nelsonville, a theatrical production of The Little Mermaid will be playing at Stuart’s Opera House.

Fest season is upon us, friends. The Athens News had this good guideline of things to keep in mind over the next few weeks.

Ohio Sports

CURATED BY CHRISTOPHER MILLER

Men’s Basketball: Three Ohio players earn conference honors

Luke O’Roark – Sports Editor

Summary: The Ohio men’s basketball team was rewarded with a #2 seed and a first-round bye in this year’s MAC Tournament. Ohio also saw three Bobcats get rewarded for their stellar individual efforts earlier this week as well. Forward, Antonio Campbell was named first team All-MAC. Jaaron Simmons was a second team All-MAC selection. Jordan Dartis was named to the MAC All-Freshman roster. The Bobcats will most certainly look for strong performances from the three All-MAC honorees to make their way through a tough conference tournament this coming weekend.

MBB Notebook: Your complete guide to the MAC Tournament, Ohio version

Luke O’Roark – Sports Editor

Summary: Things are looking up for Ohio men’s basketball. After finishing with a win over rival Miami, the ‘Cats (20-10, 11-7 MAC) were able to secure a #2 seed and ultimately a first-round bye in the conference tournament. Additionally, they find themselves on the favorable side of the bracket, having went (8-1) during the regular season against the teams on their side of this year’s bracket.   The Bobcats are schedule to see their first action of the MAC Tournament Thursday night where they will face the winner of #7 Northern Illinois vs. #10 Western Michigan.  

Women’s Basketball: Ohio upset by Buffalo in MAC Tournament

Charlie Hatch – Sports Editor

Summary: Buffalo proved problematic for Ohio during the regular season. The Bulls emerged victorious over the Bobcats on both occasions. The trend continued during the MAC Tournament as well. Ohio’s first, and only game in the MAC Tournament, was a 72-60 loss to Buffalo. For the third time this season, Buffalo upset Ohio. Ohio will play in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) next week.

Wrestling: Ohio places third in Mid-American Conference Championships, sends five wrestlers to NCAA Championships

Cameron Fields – Staff Writer  

Summary: Ohio wrestling (13-3, 5-3 MAC) placed third in the MAC Tournament this past weekend behind Central Michigan and Missouri. For Missouri the win marks their fourth-consecutive MAC title. With the help of the 41 At-Large bids announced earlier in the week, Ohio will now send a program record seven wrestlers to the NCAA Tournament. Freshmen Shakur Laney, Cameron Kelly, and Austin Reese will be joining redshirt seniors Spartak Chino, Cody Walters, Andrew Romanchik, and Phil Wellington in New York City this weekend for the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships at Madison Square Garden.  

Your guide to the 2016 presidential race

CURATED BY KAYLA WOOD

Trump’s hands and…other body parts

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump keeps talking about Donald Jr. in response to comments Marco Rubio has made about the size of Trump’s hands. The New Political has the update for you here.

The Republican race has essentially become a contest of who is the biggest bully

After Marco Rubio began stooping to Donald Trump’s level of bullying and verbal harassment, Cynthia Lednor Garza of The Atlantic wrote a feature piece about how Trump is a real-life, playground-like bully. Bullying and parenting expert Barbara Coloroso agrees with this statement, even though Trump is not in elementary school or middle school like most other bullies; he is 69-years-old.

Black Lives Matter, but Sanders may have alienated white voters while trying to overcompensate for that fact

At the Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan, Bernie Sanders was quoted saying that white people don’t know what it’s like to live in poverty or the ghetto. Louis Jacobson of Politifact explains how this was a misstatement on Sanders’s part.

Want a really easy way to see who is in the lead for the presidential race? Look no further!

Wilson Andrews, Kitty Bennett and Alicia Parlapiano of The New York Times put together a few different easy-to-read graphs that show exactly where each of the candidates are in terms of delegates and states won thus far in the election. They also added in a calendar of all remaining primaries and caucuses before the general election in November.

Stay up-to-date on everything the remaining candidates are doing in primary season with The New Political

Ohio University’s on-campus political publication, The New Political, has a website specifically for voters on campus to remain in the know about each of the candidates for the 2016 presidential election. Each candidate’s profile is updated twice a week to reflect the most important things he or she has done over that three-to-four-day timespan.

*ALL SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS CURATED BY ELIZABETH BACKO

The notorious Palmer Fest

Whether you are a partygoer or not, you are probably aware of the annual Palmer Fest if you are an Ohio University student or live in the Athens area. This fest has become one of Athens’ most recognizable events. On that note, let’s review some of the notorious instances that have taken place in recent years.

 

student being arrested
student being arrested

In 2010, Ohio University’s Student Senate set up “hydration stations” where volunteers passed out water to people who attended the fest, but this safety act did not prevent intoxicated people from lighting things on fire at the fest. An OU sophomore, who was 20 years old at the time, burned a couch at the fest. The student was charged with aggravated rioting and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct charges brought against him.

 

 

 

poster for safety campaign
poster for safety campaign

In 2011, the University Communications and Marketing designed a poster for the fest’s safety campaign. The poster featured a Las Vegas-style sign with the words “What happens in Athens stays on,” followed by the logos of Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Google, Myspace and YouTube. The idea behind this poster was to not only promote safety, but educate the students about the power of social media and how their actions could impact their careers, especially for seniors who were applying for jobs. In the meantime, OU Student Senate decided to work with Students Defending Students to make sure everyone knew about the difference between Halloween, a city-sanctioned street festival and the Spring fests, such as Palmer Fest, which are not city approved. The senate targeted on-campus students rather than off-campus students

Most recently, in 2012, a fire broke out at Palmer Fest and caused the evacuation of thousands of people who attended the fest. The fire was later ruled as arson, and all accidental causes were excluded by the investigators.

 

Video: 2012 Palmer Fest house fire

53d7e50fe4e54.imageAfter the fire, a five thousand dollar award was offered by the Athens Police Department to anyone who had information about the identification of the person or persons responsible for the fire.

 

The disruptive behaviors at Palmer Fest triggered Athens officials and law enforcement to reintroduce an old law in August 2012, which was the “Nuisance Party” law. The law was originally passed by the City Council in 2009 to give police the right to arrest people who continue to engage in disruptive behavior after a party has been shut down. More police manpower was enforced on the weekends to implement the nuisance party code.

 

fire truck at the Palmer fest
fire truck at the Palmer fest

Although things may seem out of hand at Palmer Fest, it is likely to remain as one of Athens’ most celebrated fests in the spring. Mayor Paul Wiehl said in 2012 after the fire that banning the fests would actually be “unconstitutional.” Instead, the city should do as much as possible to secure the fests.

 

Declining house parties leave underage Bobcats out in cold

When 15-year-old Taylor Lykins stepped onto the campus of Ohio University for the first time in 2007, she was mesmerized by what she saw on the streets of Athens.

“It was house after house, party after party,” Lykins recalled. “Loud music and dancing completely took over the neighborhoods.”

Inforgraphic OU NightlifeEven though her sister, Emily, was only a freshman at the time of Taylor’s first visit, both girls said they were never short on things to do throughout Emily’s next four years.

“My boyfriend lived at a big party house,” Emily, a 2010 grad, said. “We always had some place to drink.”

Emily owned a fake ID but she found no reason to use it because her social life revolved around parties. Rather than barhop, she and her fellow Bobcats would spend the night jumping from one house to the next, red Solo cups in hand.

But by the time Taylor started her freshman year at OU in 2011, OU’s social scene had completely shifted.

“I went from not needing an ID when I was in high school to being a college student and all of a sudden needing an ID to do anything,” Taylor said.

Although Ohio University is known for its esteemed academic programs, rich history and quaint local flair, it is OU’s social scene that has grabbed national headlines throughout the past decade. OU graces Princeton Review’s Top Party Schools list year after year, and notorious party website BroBible recently published an entire article titled “10 Reasons Ohio University Is The Best Party School In the United States.” Both publications cite OU’s fest season, HallOUween, and homecoming traditions as the reasoning behind the university’s party school reputation — but make no mention of any house party culture.

Taylor Lykins isn’t the only student who has noticed Bobcats’ social evolution from house parties to bars: Many other Ohio University students claim house parties have all but disappeared from their social lives. Student-heavy streets like Congress and Palmer are still as chaotic as Taylor remembers, but rather than the neighborhoods overrun with Bobcats making their way from one party to another, the sidewalks are transformed into a maze of eager bar-goers heading Uptown for the night.

Unless house parties are thrown in conjunction with other events such as the fests or Welcome Weekend, OU’s nightlife now revolves almost entirely around the bar scene on Court Street.

Some students speculate that OU’s dying house party scene is a result of an ordinance passed by the Athens City Council in 2009 that makes it easier for police to shut down raging parties and prosecute disruptive students in attendance.

Before 2009, law required that police arrest and charge partiers with at least four separate violations before the party could even be labeled a nuisance. The ordinance passed five years ago requires only one violation and lets police arrest anyone who does not leave the party after it shuts down. The ordinance also deems landlords responsible for their guests’ uncontrollable behavior.

Arrested partiers face nuisance charges, which are minor misdemeanors that carry $150 fines for the first offense. If violators break the law a second time within 18 months, they face a fourth-degree misdemeanor that comes with a possible 30-day jail term and a $250 fine.

With the passing of the new ordinance, Athens City Council and the police departments have seen positive results. In the last two years alone, fest season arrests have gone down nearly 25 percent. In 2013, police arrested 156 students at house parties during High Fest, Mill Fest, Palmer Place and Palmer Fest — a significant decrease from 2012’s fest season that resulted in 353 arrests.

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Photo by Maria Fischer

With many Bobcats feeling uneasy about hosting house parties of their own, students began turning to fraternity houses to throw the “raging” parties in true Animal House style. However, even Ohio University’s frats have backed away from being the go-to sources for house parties: Pi Kappa Alpha became inactive in 2012 and lost its 12 N. College St. house after officials found drugs in a warranted raid. Sigma Pi followed suit, losing its notorious 8 N. College St. house in 2013, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon is expected to lose its 57 E. State St. house early next year after a surprise membership review left nearly half of its members suspended and forced to move out.

Without house parties — Greek or non-Greek — to fall back on, this current bar trend leaves underage Bobcats in a dilemma each weekend: head out to Court Street in hopes of finding something legal to do, or risk an arrest by sneaking into bars with a fake ID. While house parties are certainly not the most effective ways to keep younger students out of trouble, OU’s former house party scene at least offered underage Bobcats more options for nighttime fun on campus.

“Other than go out to eat, there’s not much for underage kids to do on Court Street at night,” Nicolette Lambos, a freshman, said. “Unlike New York or nearby big cities like Columbus, Athens doesn’t even have a legit club scene for 18-year-olds to go to instead of sneaking into bars.”

In an effort to offer students more nightlife options, Athens attempted to open a club but it quickly failed. A dance nightclub, Evolution, was located at 19 S. Court Street and lived a short life. The Mediterranean restaurant Habibi’s opened two years ago and now sits in Evolution’s space.

In late November of this year, another club opened in the basement of Red Brick under the alias Club Underground. Hopeful that this club will be more successful than the last, Red Brick allows students 18 and older to dance the night away every Wednesday through Saturday.

But Athens’ inconsistent, on-again off-again club scene leaves many students far from hopeful.

“I doubt it will take off,” Andrew Dolan, a junior, said.

So if nightclubs and house parties are seldom found, what is an underage Bobcat to do? Type in a quick Google search of “Athens Ohio nightlife” and a list of bar after bar pops up. But of the 30-plus bars that appear from the search, only one offers 18-and-up bar nights: Red Brick.

Lauren Kumper, a Red Brick employee, said owners allow students who are at least 18 to hang out upstairs at the bar every Wednesday and Thursday.

“There’s a $3 admission and anyone under 21 can’t drink but at least there’s dancing,” Kumper said. “Wednesday night is karaoke night so a lot of freshmen and sophomores come out to the bar and do a song.”

While Red Brick offers underage students a few nights of fun during the week, these young Bobcats find themselves with limited options on weekend nights. This leaves Athens Pyramids, the local hookah bar, as the only remaining legal alternative to the Court Street bars and club scene.

Majed Batawil, Athens Pyramids owner, said his establishment has always been 18 and up.

“We don’t serve alcohol so you don’t have to be 21 to come in,” Batawil said.

Batawil said his customers are divided equally between underage students and Bobcats who are over 21 but admitted his staff still has to check IDs after a string of high school students were caught trying to sneak in.

Emily Lykins made note of the change in the campus dynamic when she returned in October for OU’s homecoming.

“It felt like it was a completely different school. Red Brick used to be so popular they had shot girls walking around and now they couldn’t get 20 people in there on homecoming weekend. I walked down the street my boyfriend used to live on and saw almost no parties.”

Lykins’ observations leave current students wondering what OU will be like when they return a few years after they graduate. With an increase in nightlife options and a decrease in house party arrests, perhaps police will loosen their grip and OU will return to its nightlife “glory days”: a time when students felt like they had more options than just a night spent drinking at (or sneaking into) the bars of Court Street.

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Maria Fischer is a journalism student at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, falling somewhere between a junior and a senior. She is a self-proclaimed coffee addict and lipstick enthusiast. After completing her capstone in online publication production, promotion & design, she hopes to write for an online magazine and turn her passions for blogging and social media into a career. Visit her blog for Ohio University’s student-run fashion magazine, Thread, at http://frommetrocardstomealplans.blogspot.com.