The Ridges provide a serene escape

Living on campus close to academic buildings is convenient for students, but also presents the danger of falling into a habitual existence. Walking down the same bricks, waving to the same people, eating at the same places. I never wanted to fall into a routine like that- to the point where I lacked the desire to explore. On my long morning runs, I forced myself to venture off campus in hopes of finding new and exciting ground. At first, all I found was endless miles of bike path and, of course, Walmart.

A few weeks later, I stumbled upon The Ridges. I was aware that it was an extension of campus which had previously been an insane asylum. I expected to find typical research facilities with professors walking around, and not much scenery.

Instead, what I found looked deserted and eerie. Beautiful red brick buildings graced with ivy stood amid the silence. Parts of the brick had eroded, creating a look of authenticity and age.  The structures were unique as was the trail, which took me up a massive hill and spilled into a thick wood. Along the side there were gravestones that had clearly withstood the test of time.  I followed along, mesmerized by the stillness and smell of fresh pine.

Sunset at The Ridges, photo by Julie Ciotola

My first experience with The Ridges soon led to dozens more, and each time I went back I discovered something new. I found an endless hill that led to a stellar view of the sunset. I found a long staircase that dropped off on a brick road. I found graffiti covering an old silo. Best of all, I found myself lost amid the trees surrounded by the unknown.

For non-runners, The Ridges provide a more calming escape. The different trails are ideal for a long hike. The air is fresh and the noises are natural, a dramatic change from downtown Athens. Even on a sunny afternoon, The Ridges are rarely crowded with people. Sometimes the only mark of civilization is muddy tracks or paw prints etched on the path.

At night the atmosphere is cool and spooky. The graveyards are much less inviting, yet they provoke thoughts of the asylum’s patients who lived and died there. With the only light being the moon’s natural glow, a walk through The Ridges is a much different experience. Taking the time to stop and appreciate the dark sky is perhaps the best part, because scores of stars are visible from the top of the cemetery hill.

Evening hiking, photo by Julie Ciotola

Whether it’s a morning run, afternoon hike or evening trip, The Ridges offer a solemn escape from chaotic life. It’s a staple of the Athens community for its rich history and opportunity for endless exploration. The only requirement is an open mind willing to wander.

For more information about The Ridges, check out http://www.forgottenoh.com/Ridges/ridges.html

OUr voice on campus: activism at OHIO

Activism and protest is language on campus.

It’s a form of expression and of passion.

It’s OUr voice.

And this is how we use it.

 

 

In Their Own Words: Attending a Conversation on The Black Press

“A lot of newspapers are failing because they have a lot of old white men sitting around the table.”

This was the musing posited by editor for the Columbus African American News Journal Ray Miller at Monday night’s panel “A Conversation: The Black Press.” No less than a day after Beyoncé gave a powerful performance at the biggest sporting event in the nation, largely centered around her own powerful blackness, the Schoonover lecture hall filled up to hear a panel talk about the history of the black press and how its role has changed, and most importantly why it’s important now more than ever.

It’s all about perspective, said Brenda Andrews, publisher of The New Journal and Guide, a black newspaper based in Norfolk, Virginia.

“Would the students of Ohio University want the students of Norfolk State to write [their] story?” asked Andrews. It is a long held journalistic credo that reporters must be involved in the community they cover in order to properly do their job and the Black Press is a prime example of this. In the early 1900s, black people were not seen in any papers; their births, marriages, accolades, nor even deaths were seen in the papers that claimed to cover their regions. In an effort to subvert and tell their own stories, these communities mobilized their own newspapers.

Now these black newspapers remain to inform on the issues that affect them specifically, looking at issues in a way primarily white papers might overlook. Andrews noted the coverage of recent heroin epidemics and how their coverage was mainly spun to sympathize with white women in many media publications. Andrews noted how many did not have the same sympathetic voice when speaking of other drug epidemics such as crack cocaine, commonly related to black addicts.

Schoonover 145 was nearly at capacity for Monday night's panel on the power of the black press.
Schoonover 145 was nearly at capacity for Monday night’s panel on the power of the black press.

Miller noted another story, citing OSU’s 3,000 black students in their student body’s 60,000 student total, a number that is disproportionately small when considering Ohio’s 12 percent black population. White-dominated newspapers are unlikely to see this problem, much less report it because they do not live in the experience of a black person, an issue in itself.

To that effect, we return to Miller’s initial statement. While the black press will always be valuable as a platform to tell the unique stories of black people, white media as a whole must do better at integrating. Not only to staff themselves with people of color but to listen to their stories and experiences.

A Field of Dreams: Peden Stadium

When I first came to Ohio University in 2008, I was just taking a weekend trip with my family to visit my parent’s alma mater for the first time. The brick roads, the smell of the Burrito Buggy, the exhausting hills, the trees. Everything in Athens to me was picture perfect.

But then I stepped foot inside a football stadium, but this was not just a football field with some bleachers. This football stadium had a spirit like I have never seen at any sporting venue. There was a hill that stretched behind one of the endzones, there was a view of the rolling hills just over the Hocking River, but there also was history written since 1929 stored inside every brick.

My first trip to OU in 2008 included my first trip to Peden Stadium.
My first trip to OU in 2008 included my first trip to Peden Stadium.

This was Peden Stadium.

I stepped foot on the field (though I was not supposed to), and felt a chill down my spine. If that chill was the spirit of Athens hitting me like a ton of bricks or just a cool breeze I will never know. But I realized at that moment that I too will become a Bobcat, just like my parents were 20 years earlier.

This may be considered the moment when I realized that I would become a Bobcat,
This may be considered the moment when I realized that I would become a Bobcat.

Fast forward five years, and it was my first week on campus as a student at Ohio University. I was overwhelmed by all the activity on campus, and I had a hard time becoming friends with my roommate. I decided to go to a football game with my learning community to celebrate my first week surviving college. Was it awkward? At first, yes, but as the night went on I bonded with my new friends about football, art, Billy Joel, Stephen Colbert and Big Mamma’s. By the end of the night, we all decided to go to games on a weekly basis and maybe hang out a time or two at James Hall.

 

This was during my first OU football game, where I met most of my best friends that I've kept at OU.
This was during my first OU football game, where I met most of my best friends that I’ve kept at OU.

Today, two of those guys are my roommates in our apartment on Court Street, and a few others from that night are still some of my best friends.

I still go to games on a weekly basis, even if it means sitting in freezing temperatures just to get a two-second cameo on ESPN. I have sang the national anthem with the Singing Men of Ohio on homecoming, and watched my friends play with the Marching 110. Every week in the fall is a new chance to make another memory at Peden Stadium.

I don’t love Peden because our football team plays well enough to go to a bowl game or because the Marching 110 is the most exciting band in the land when they play halftime (which is true). I love Peden because I felt that chill almost eight years ago to join OU, and because I met some people that would change my life all inside the brick walls of Peden Stadium.

Once I graduate from OU, I hope I can go back on the field and feel that chill one more time.

Black, White and the Meaning In-Between: The Ӕthelred Eldridge Mural

Part of the Eldridge muralBlack and white figures dance around the ceiling, telling me to come join them. They are almost taunting me, with their distorted limbs and smiling faces. Small sentence-like structures fence in the different humans, telling tales of writers past, greek mythology and music from different times. The wall that they live on stands so tall that I have to crane my neck to see the top, where the black paint ends and the plain ceiling starts. The air is crisp and runs through the opening to the psychedelic mural, whispering secrets to me from the artist, Ӕthelred Eldridge.

Athens is full of mysteries and places unseen by a lot of the student population. My favorite mystery resides on the side of the old Seigfred art building in a cove hidden from plain view. In 1966, the avant-garde artist and professor Ӕthelred Eldridge was commissioned to paint a mural on the side of the building in his famous style. His style is reminiscent of Mayan hieroglyphs mixed with Picasso-like figures, but he has his own twist that makes it uniquely his. Since then, some form of his work has been present on the side of the building, from almost all words to circular pieces to the now boxy figures that lie against the wall.

Æthelred Eldridge poses on scaffolding with his mural under the connecting bridge between two parts of Ohio University's art building, Siegfred Hall in 1966.
Æthelred Eldridge poses on scaffolding with his mural. Image: University Archives, Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, Ohio University Libraries

When I first saw the mural, I had no idea what I was looking it. To me, it looked like a jumble of lines and nonsense words with no actual meaning. But after being assigned to write a story about the rededication of the mural for The Post, I found a new, deeper meaning for the hidden, sacred portrait of the thoughts of Ӕthelred Eldridge. Eldridge, who is a deeply complex, innovative and ethereal thinker, shares his thoughts on the morality and experiences of the world on the wall in a beautifully simple, yet complex way. If you were to know nothing about the man, the mural would be just another piece of art to you. But after studying him and his life, I found the meaning of the mural, which makes it ever more beautiful.

So if you find yourself meandering around campus one day, stop, sit and look at the mural of the tortured genius Ӕthelred Eldridge on the back wall of Seigfred Hall. You may just find your new favorite spot in Athens.

 

Ohio University offers a diverse array of history courses

Most students at Ohio University are required to enroll in a history course in order to fulfill a general requirement. Luckily for Bobcats, Ohio University has made several interesting history courses available, ranging from The Rise of Modern Asia to The History of Rock and Roll.

Meghan Cupach, a sophomore studying Business and Marketing, has taken two history classes during her time spent at Ohio University. She was enrolled in Introduction to World History Before 1750 in the fall of 2015. The course was taught by Professor Monika Flaschka who, according to RateMyProfessors.com “is a great professor. Her lectures are pretty clear cut and never seem long. She sets out clear standards for you and even gives you a study guide that literally tells you everything on the exams.”

In regards to the course itself, Meghan referred to the material as “boring”, but added that Flaschka made the course enjoyable, “She put things in ways that would help me understand it easier. She knew that history wasn’t a very exciting subject so she tried to make it as exciting as she possibly could.”

Meghan was also enrolled in Introduction to World History Since 1750 in the spring of 2015 with Ziad Abu-Rish, an assistant professor of history. “I like Ziad because you can tell he really cares about the subject and how well we do in the course,” Meghan says, “He’s always making himself available for help with his office hours.”

Meghan admits that Professor Abu-Rish has been her favorite instructor since she started at Ohio University, “It’s nice having a professor who actually cares how well his students do rather than someone who just curves the exams so most of us pass.”

Nathanial Fosnaugh, a junior studying Finance, was enrolled in The Rise of Modern Asia in the fall of 2015 with Professor Joshua Hill. “The course in general was interesting and engaging. Hill took it to another level with his teaching,” Nathanial says. Professor Joshua Hill, who received a PhD in history from Harvard University, is an assistant professor within the history department. “Hill was very passionate and you could tell he cared a lot about the subject,” he says, “I would highly recommend taking a course with Professor Hill, even if it’s not The Rise of Modern Asia. He’s a great guy.”

It’s not uncommon for courses to fall short of expectations, however. Nate Beverly, a junior studying psychology pre-med, fell victim to such a course when he enrolled in The History of The Vietnam War. “I really liked my professor. He was extremely well-educated on the topic and had the facts down pat.” However, Nate admits that as educated and experienced as his professor was, he was not as engaging as Nate hoped he’d be. “He was incredibly boring to listen to though, just because most of his lectures involved him spouting facts constantly.” When asked if he’d recommend the class to a friend, Nate says, “The class itself had interesting info, but I honestly did not like it.”

Apart from the several World History courses offered at Ohio University, courses like The History of Rock and Roll can be a breath of fresh air for students looking for an easy way to fulfill a general requirement. Lloyd Seiter, a junior studying Chemical Engineering is currently enrolled in the course with award-winning Professor Andre Gribou, a professor of piano, composition, and general studies. “Dr. Gribou is a swell fellow who has lived long enough to witness The Doors perform live, the Beatles perform on Ed Sullivan, and the age of rock be suffocated by the likes of Justin Bieber,” he says, “His passion for the subject is paralleled by none.”

Professor Gribou has received an A- on RateMyProfessors.com. “Professor Gribou is my favorite professor that I have had so far. He is very knowledgeable in the music field and shows that he knows what he is talking about. He is also very passionate about music and expresses that through his lectures. I would definitely request everyone to take his class,” says an anonymous commenter. Lloyd agrees, “I’d definitely recommend the class to a friend that expressed any interest in Rock and Roll.”

Which history course have you taken at Ohio University? Let us know!

Four people who broke down social barriers at Ohio University

Luke Furman | Court Street Stories

Throughout the past couple centuries, many Americans of every background have battled for civil rights and equality for the country as a whole. And, in our small corner of Ohio, many at Ohio University joined the battle alongside the nation. Here is a brief chronological list of events detailing how Ohio University and several of its graduates progressed the movement for social equality.

1828 – John Newton Templeton becomes the first black man to graduate from Ohio University.

Born as a slave in South Carolina only a year after the University was founded, Templeton entered Ohio University in 1824 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1828. He became the first black man to graduate from a college in Midwest and the fourth nationwide.

The present day Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium bears his name along with Martha Jane Hunley Blackburn. A scholarship also bears his name.

1873 – Margaret Boyd becomes the first woman to graduate from Ohio University.

Entering the freshman class of 1869, Margaret “Maggie” Boyd graduated from Ohio University in the class of 1873 with a bachelor’s degree of arts, becoming the first woman graduate in the school’s then 69 year history. The decision to allow a woman into the university came from its majority Methodist faculty, which adopted the progressive ideas of the time.

A present-day scholarship program focused on women students carries her name, a remembrance of her trailblazing studies.

1916 – Martha Jane Hunley Blackburn becomes the first black woman to graduate from Ohio University.

Just four years before Congress amended the Constitution to give women the right to vote, Martha Jane Hunley Blackburn made waves at Ohio University by becoming the first black woman to graduate from the institution. She received a bachelor’s degree in education and went on to teach home economics, specifically sewing. She had three home economics job offers before she even graduated. If only the rest of us could be so lucky.

1959 – Alvin C. Adams becomes the first black graduate of Ohio University’s School of Journalism.

One hundred and thirty one years after John Newton Templeton paved the way for black students at Ohio University, Alvin C. Adams became the school’s first black graduate of its renown journalism program. After graduating, Adams worked for the The Chicago Daily Defender and would go on to cover Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech and Malcolm X’s assassination for Jet. He died in 2004 at the age of 77. Adams Hall on South Green, which was completed in 2007, currently bears his name.

These four individuals accomplished the task of creating the diverse student body Ohio University holds today. With their determination, along with the help of progressive-minded faculty, Ohio University claims a history rich of social equality and forward-thinking.

The history of U.S. presidents visiting Ohio University

The great state of Ohio is known for many things, one of which is its reputation for being a swing state. Being a swing state makes Ohio very important during election seasons, making its cities crucial destinations for politicians of all kinds to visit. Ohio University itself has a long history of politicians visiting its campus and speaking to students, faculty and community members. Most notably, many U.S. presidents have taken a trip to Athens to engage with the politically active campus.

Each presidential visit has not been forgotten. Along the West Portico wall, which faces College Green, of Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium there are plaques to commemorate each special visit. According to a story in a Compass newsletter from 2010, the addition of the plaques on the honor wall began in 1965 under then-university president Vernon Alden with the goal of the wall being an inspiration for all who see it.

Hoover

On his visit in 1989, President Jimmy Carter made an inspiring sentiment and said, “Ohio University has a special place in international affairs. Its students should be world citizens.”

Johnson

In his speech along the West Portico of Templeton-Blackburn in May 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson brought along several Ohio Congressmen and members of his Cabinet. President Johnson and his Cabinet members initially came to Athens for a poverty inspection. In his address, he said with the help of Dr. Alden, “a contract has been signed by the Area Redevelopment Administration to establish a regional development institution here. This will make Ohio University the focal point of economic development for the southeastern Ohio area.” Athens County has long been one of the poorest counties in Ohio, so action plans to grow the economic development of the area had a significant effect on its citizens. His speech was a call to action for students to do what they could to support those around them and raised awareness of the issue.

Other presidents who have visited OU include John F. Kennedy, William Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Warren G. Harding, William McKinley and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Harding

The most recent president to visit OU was Barack Obama during his campaign for reelection on October 17, 2012. The trip was a last-minute stint to attract and rally supporters in the final sprint going into the campaign season. Massive government and military planes descended onto the back greens of South Green in preparation for the president’s arrival and Secret Service agents lined the permitter around College Green, where his speech took place. It was a unique experience for students to have a sitting president make an appearance on campus.

Obama

(Here is my super grainy picture of him.)

With another presidential election coming up within the next year, there is a good chance presidential hopefuls will see themselves visiting OU in an effort to appeal to the desired segment of young adult voters. Perhaps one day they too will have their name added to the West Portico Honor Wall.

Ohio University graffiti wall layers hold years of memories

The graffiti wall near Bentley Hall has weathered many storms … and students. For years, messages ranging from student organization marketing, to artistic murals to marriage proposals have been painted and repainted on the old mass of cement (although it is made more of layers of paint than cement at this point). Each layer holds another message and another memory.

graffiti wall ou
Chipping away at the top layer reveals many more layers on the OU Graffiti Wall.

 

 

 

 

graffiti wall ou
The OU Graffiti Wall is a way for students to express their opinions. When brought to social media, this pro-Romney message started a debate.

 

graffiti wall ou
The wall provides an outlet to bring attention to social issues, such as these messages bringing awareness to the subject of cat-calling and sexual harassment.

 

 

Learn more about the Wall here.