The New Pass/No Pass Deadline has Students feeling Cheated

The Academic Advising Center moved locations in Beckman Hall. Photo by Marcella Zizzo.

Some students say the new, shortened pass/no pass policy has reduced their willingness to sign up for classes they fear they won’t ace.

Chapman’s revision of the pass/no pass policy this fall includes lowering all passing grades to meet a minimum of “C-” rather than the previous “C” standard, as well as limiting the allotted amount of pass/no pass credits to six per academic year–which is considered the terms of Fall through the end of Summer. It does not include courses that are only offered as pass/no pass.

Students are usually not allowed to register a major or minor course as pass/no pass unless they receive permission from their department chair.

But the least popular aspect of the changes is its shortened deadline to register a course as pass/no pass.

For the 2018/19 year, the Faculty Undergraduate Academic Council sliced the timeframe in which a student could change a course from graded to pass/no pass in half – from 10 weeks to five.

The short deadline is “annoying” and “rude,” said junior PR & advertising student Nora Viarnes.

Five weeks isn’t enough time to fully decide if a student will perform well in a class, according to Viarnes.

“It’s unfair because you don’t really know that you’re going to struggle that hard. It’s hard to tell [how you’ll do in a class] that early,” Viarnes said.

Some students say they now have too little time to determine whether or not they need to switch to pass/no pass to preserve their grade point average.  

A benefit that some students see to the pass/no pass option is that there is no reflection on their transcript of any lost points, should they not pass. A student who opts into pass/no pass would just not receive credit, if they did not pass, and would have to repeat the course again if they needed to pass for their degree.

At Chapman, if a student chooses to pass/no pass their course, they will receive a grade of “P” or “NP,” rather than a letter grade on their transcripts.

Thus, their GPA won’t change, either positively or negatively. Pass/no pass only tracks whether or not a student passed the course.

Some students feel as if they don’t have enough time to determine whether or not they will do well in a class, especially since some professors don’t post grades until later in the semester.

Faculty Undergraduate Academic Council was “concerned that the 10-week period to change the grading method was too lax,” according to Vice President for Undergraduate Education Nina LeNoir, when asked why Chapman made the changes.

LeNoir said that having a pass/no pass option is set in place “to encourage students to take classes outside their major discipline that they may find challenging but have an interest in.”

The deadline was halved to put Chapman in line with other universities’ standards, said LeNoir, noting, “most schools have much shorter P/F or P/NP decision times.”

But, some students find that the shortened timestamp on declaring a class as pass/no discourages students from taking risks or registering from classes that are an academic stretch.

The new deadline made sophomore peace studies major Preetha Raj, regret trying new classes.

Raj was considering switching to a different major and decided to take a course in that subject to see if it would be a good fit. After the first few weeks of school, she was unable to tell how she was doing because she didn’t have any grades yet.

“I wasn’t able to really gauge how I was doing in the class until after that five-week deadline,” Raj said.

After finding out she wasn’t doing well in the class, Raj was stuck in the course with no way to protect her transcript, as the pass/no pass deadline had run out.

The pass/no pass deadline plays “a huge role in how you’re planning out your next four years,” Raj said.  

“At five weeks in, you don’t even know what your projected grade could be in the class,” and that moving up the deadline only impedes the process of deciding whether or not one actually needs the option of pass/no pass.

“If anything it just stresses students out,” Raj said.

The updated policy prevents students from experimenting with new courses, according to Viarnes.

“The [general education courses] here vary so outrageously from, like, super easy to ridiculously hard for no reason,” Viarnes said.

LeNoir said that she does not view the pass/no pass option as simply a grade-saver.

“It is meant to encourage intellectual curiosity, not to save a GPA,” said LeNoir.

“A student should have the ability to evaluate whether or not the class is at the level at which they wish to take it for a letter grade or pass/fail upon reading the syllabus, and through several class meetings,” according to LeNoir.

LeNoir said she is unable to release the number of students who have dropped out of a course until the end of the current term.

Nearly two percent of courses were changed to pass/no pass per semester within the last academic year, with the most common pass/no pass courses being foreign languages and mathematics, according to LeNoir.

Still, some students don’t believe the pass/no pass option is the best academic move.

“I just always felt like I could just get the grade I’m going to get than pass/no pass it and then have that show up on my transcript,” said Bailee Cochran, a junior business major.

By moving up the deadline to switch to pass/no pass, the university is leaving students with little option to shield their GPAs from a bad mark, Cochran said.

“Not everyone is just trying to get out of working hard in their class. Some people really do need [the option of pass/no pass].”

What the Trumped-Up Definition of Gender Could Mean for Trans and Intersex People

Matt Burnside, a film production major who identifies as a transgender man. Photo courtesy of Matt Burnside

Single-sex schools, sports teams, and the bathroom are some of the places that may be forced to disregard gender-fluid identities if the Trump administration succeeds in changing the legal definition of gender, basing it on the genitalia present at birth, according to the New York Times.

“The [Department of Health and Human Services]’s proposal definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with,” according to the unreleased memo discussed in the New York Times. As of now, no formal actions have been set in motion.

“People snapped into action as soon as this happened. If they tried to actually put anything into place, people are going to file lawsuits all over the place and there are different lines of defense that people are going to jump into before anything goes into effect,” said  Charlie Arrowood, the director of name and gender recognition at Transcend Legal, a company that assists transgender individuals with obtaining equal treatment socially, medically, and legally.  

Though the legal definition of gender has not yet changed, some trans individuals fear their identity will not be recognized and their rights will be taken away.

“My identity won’t be affirmed and it would make everyday life a lot harder. I would still be considered and referred to as female no matter how far along I am into my transition. Everything that is already difficult for trans people would become even harder,” said Matt Burnside, a film production major who identifies as a transgender man.

Currently, under Title IX, transgender students are protected from sex-based discrimination. That means, at school, their expressed gender identity and preferred pronouns must be honored, and they are also granted access to the restroom that reflects their personal gender identity, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Should the memo become law, students might only be able to participate in activities that reflect the gender constructs that were assigned to them at birth. Men’s or women’s sports teams might have to disallow transgender students to join the team that best reflects their internal sense of gender if their external genitalia says otherwise, according to the New York Times.

This memo would be a significant step back from Obama-era policies that shielded transgender citizens from discrimination within places like schools that follow federal codes, said Burnside.

“Trump’s definition of sex also affects those who are intersex, which is something else to be considered if the government definition of sex is solely determined by genitalia,” said Burnside.

It is unclear how the administration’s ambition to conclusively and permanently classify people as male or female would affect people who are born intersex or with ambiguous genitalia that is neither clearly a penis or vagina. Under the desire to classify people as binary,  they will be left without a place or “category” in society, Burnside fears.

The current proposal doesn’t address people with differing genetics and hormones and secondary sex characteristics. “People making these policies that don’t understand the issues,” said Arrowood.

A 2016 letter from the Department of Education once defined transgender students as “individuals whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth,” articulating a difference between one’s genitalia and one’s intrinsic sense of gender identity.

“Removal of terms, especially formal and correct ones, are reminiscent of fear campaigns in communist countries. It’s to keep the American public from knowing the truth. Transgender means identifying as a gender different than the one assigned to you at birth,” said Melody Carey, a junior theater and mathematics major who identifies as a transgender woman. Carey is also the current president of Chapman’s Queer Straight Alliance (QSA).

Transgender students are not alone in their aversion to the new proposal, with some claiming that Trump’s memo is misinformed and revealing an ignorance of biology.

The memo “doesn’t really even make sense,” said Ian Barnard, director of Chapman’s LGBTQ Studies program. “The memo, itself, shows a complete failure to even understand what’s going on with gender in our society.”

Gender is an arbitrary concept, Barnard said. “Having your gender imposed on you at birth by someone else, because babies don’t have a choice, is very violent,” Barnard said.

The resculpting of gender in the binary way the Trump administration is proposing would also dismantle decades of activism, Barnard said.

“It’s pretty horrific they’re trying to undo years of work recognizing transgender rights, transgender identity, non-binary identity, intersex identity,” said Barnard.

Burnside agreed. The memo, he said, “felt like another blow to the trans community and another means of invalidating people for no reason.”

Advocates also fear that denying people the right to their personal gender expression will result in more hate crimes and violence.

Murder rates among the transgender community have spiked higher each year, with 2017 recording at least 29 killings of transgender Americans, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Students already feel an unwelcoming chill.

“The effect I see is subtle, I see it in my trans and queer friends that are afraid to stand up for themselves and their pronouns, hold their partner’s hand, wear clothes they want to. It’s fear, it’s terror, it’s no way to live,” said Natalie Pendergraft, a sophomore history major.

“It doesn’t matter how long it takes for the actual legislation to go through. I think as soon as [Trump’s mindset] has been stated, it’s established as a change in culture. It’s definitely a regression. I think it validates people who do share these hateful ideas,” said Prabhnoor Kaur, a junior screenwriting and art history major who identifies as queer[FSA9].

At Chapman University, gender-inclusive policies outline a “respect for all and an understanding of individual differences,” including “sex, gender identity, gender expression,” and sexual orientation.

The university says it has developed its own gender-inclusive policies across campus for students and faculty, including accommodations for gender-inclusive housing and equal access to non-conforming facilities, like the bathroom or locker rooms.

Because the university has set its own policy for gender-inclusivity, Chapman will not be affected by this proposal, if it is passed into law and will continue to follow its own code of conduct.

“Higgy” Vasquez Responds to Accusations of Sexual Harassment

The mural currently rests on Moulton Hall. Photo by Marcella Zizzo

Artist Emigdio “Higgy” Vasquez, who was commissioned by Chapman University to create a mural celebrating diversity on Moulton Hall, denies sexual harassment allegations made by two Chapman students.  

Vasquez is a local artist, whose father is known as the godfather of Chicano art. He was paid an unknown amount of money to craft a 27-foot mural to celebrate the college’s historical ties to the city of Orange.

But, its cultural relevance has now been eclipsed by accusations of Vasquez sexually harassing at least two students who volunteered to help him create the piece.

In September, The Panther reported on the initial claims made my two current students, with allegations that Vasquez referred to one female student-volunteer as “baby,” and contacted her “day and night, including a creepy phone call.”

The mural was installed on Chapman’s campus on September 12th, with an unveiling ceremony to celebrate its completion. Vasquez’s accolades were also met with student protests and demonstrators who opposed the mural’s showcase because of the allegations against the artist.

The mural’s initial goal was to showcase diversity on campus. Photo by Marcella Zizzo.

Vasquez said he considers the allegations defamatory and doesn’t know why his communication was interpreted as harassment. He refused to comment on his intentions behind his contact with the students.

“[The allegations were] fabricated, pure evil. Defamation,” Vasquez said in an email.

Prowl reached out to Izzie Panasci, one of the women making allegations, via Facebook messenger. Panasci declined to comment.

“I am not interested in talking about the muralist case until further notice. Please respect my decision,” Panasci said via Facebook message.

The other student has not come forward publically.

Vasquez, who declined a phone interview said by email the students who protested at his mural’s unveiling are misguided.

“Well, pity those misinformed kids, they should get a refund from the University,” Vasquez said via email.

One of the women who reported the misconduct had an issue with an Instagram direct message he left her, he said.

“The contention came over Instagram banter and comments,” Vasquez wrote. “All after her volunteer visits, not during. None of my comments were ever threatening, sexual, or even hateful in any form. She did not want to be peaceful and forgive and forget for the sake of community… I even feel sorry for her but the real crime is this girl trying to ruin all my hard work and name. I struggle to understand what makes people act out in this way. This has really affected my personal life. Now I am forced to defend myself,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez says he is struggling to figure out what happened.

“It’s actually complicated,  I’m even trying to find out all the who, wheres, and whats happened and how could they call this ‘sexual harassment’ when it had nothing to do with sex or gender. It was more like friends breaking up. It happens all the time,” Vasquez said.

He said he was “a person of high awareness of the #MeToo [movement],” and disappointed in the university.

It appears as if the mural, will survive the controversy that surrounded its creation.

“From my perspective, [the fate of the mural] is a really difficult thing to voice. That was two and a half years of really hard work,” said Denise Johnson, lecturer in art history.

Johnson is one of the Chapman faculty members who solicited Vasquez to execute the mural

Johnson said working in the art building every day has kept her privy to the aftershock this mural has created for students.

“As [students] were walking by the mural, they were very affected by it, started to walk around the backside of the building, sort of to avoid Higgy but also to avoid a sort of trigger, if you will,”  Johnson said.

Chapman University officials declined to comment on the mural or its fate.  

A receptionist in the office of Chapman’s Human Resources said he would not transfer to anyone willing to speak on the specifics of Vasquez’s commission process.  

Lead Title IX Coordinator DeAnn Yocum Gaffney said she could not disclose any details on whether or not the students made official claims of sexual harassment or misconduct to the university or law enforcement.

Lindsay Shen, Director of Art Collections at Chapman, declined to comment, stating that she was previously misquoted in another publication.

Shen led in efforts to fund the mural, as well as had a handle on the painting’s production, according to Johnson.

The mural’s existence presents a conundrum for Chapman, as an artwork celebrating diversity must now be reconciled with women vocalizing allegations of sexual misconduct.

“It’s extremely controversial to still have the mural up,” said Maya Cowen, a sophomore psychology major.

“I don’t know who’s in charge,” [of keeping the mural up,] said Cowen. Knowing it’s there “makes me feel a little bit worried for those students and if they’re feeling like their safety is being compromised,” she added.

Chapman received a $30,000 donation from the Ellingson family to help facilitate the mural’s creation. It is unknown how much, if anything, Chapman contributed to fund the project.

Shen also declined to answer questions on whether donations in addition to the original $30,000 donations were obtained.

 

Chapman’s default rate dips lower

Mady Dewey biking to her job at Google in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Mady Dewey.

In the midst of a student loan crisis, Chapman’s default rate lowers to 2.2 percent.

While the nation is in the midst of a national student loan crisis, with students and graduates owing a collective 1.5 trillion dollars, new data given to Prowl from the Chapman financial aid office shows that Chapman’s default rate is only 2.2 percent. That number inched down from last year but hasn’t gone above 3.3 percent for at least the last three years according to the chart from Chapman’s financial aid office.

A Chapman student is considered to be in default on a student loan if they have not made a payment in more than 270 days.

The cohort default rate is the percentage of students who failed to make payments for at least 270 days within the specified period of time, or “window” (two or three years), about a decade ago, Congress directed the DoE to switch from the 2-year to the 3-year cohort default rate, according to Matt Carter, editor of Credible News.

Chapman’s default rate is less than one-fourth the national default rate, which is 10.8 percent on federal loans. The national percentage includes students who attended  for-profit colleges notorious for low graduation and low job-placement rates and which have sometimes stunningly high rates of default.

“According to the latest numbers from the DoE, the national three year cohort default rate is 10.8 percent. It’s 10.3 percent at public schools, and 7.1 percent at private nonprofit schools like Chapman University. Private for-profit schools (“proprietary institutions”) don’t fare as well — 15.6 percent of students were in default within three years of leaving school,” Carter said.

So, Chapman University students seem to be doing much better than students at many other schools in staying out of default on their federal student loans, Carter said.

 Chapman’s default rate rose one percent between 2012-2014 and was 3.3 percent over three years on federal loans. It dropped by around one percent from 2014 to 2015.

Chapman’s default rate is low because the university has a lot of students from wealthy families, said Antoinette Flores, an associate director for Postsecondary Education at American Progress.

“Chapman’s student body is wealthier on average than students attending college across the country,” Flores said, noting that only 18 percent of Chapman students received a Federal Pell grant, one measure of low-income students.

“Across the country, roughly 40 percent of students receive a Pell grant,” she said.

Students who complete their degrees are generally able to repay their student loans when they graduate, particularly if the total amount they’ve borrowed doesn’t exceed their annual earnings, Carter said.  

“It’s students who drop out — or attend schools that don’t give them marketable job skills — who tend to have the most trouble. A healthy proportion of Chapman University students get their degrees, which undoubtedly helps keep the school’s default rate low,” Carter said.

Only 53 percent of Chapman students take out federal loans compared to roughly 70 percent of college students nationally, according to Flores.  

“There is no ‘usual’ amount that students borrow to attend Chapman,” said David C. Carnevale, Director of Undergraduate Financial Aid.

“If a student were to borrow their federal maximum loan amounts each year, they would borrow $27,000. The average debt from federal loans after graduation, however, is $20,938.” Carnevale said.

Students have 10 years to repay their federal student loans in a standard repayment plan. Not all students opt for this plan, so some have up to 30 years to repay loans.

Students who don’t repay their loans default. When this happens, financial aid officers refer students back to their loan servicers to see what accommodations might be made.

“The servicer is trained to help students figure out what their best options are for any given situation that may arise. They want to work with students; they are not a collection agency,”  Carnevale said.

60 percent of incoming freshman at Chapman take out some type of a loan to finance their education, according to Carnevale. The average amount is $5,750. according to Carnevale.

The chart represents the entire university, not just one population. The federal government does not track default by program, according to David Carnevale. Chart courtesy of David Carnevale.

Mady Dewey, a recent Chapman graduate took out loans in order to get her public relations and advertising degree at Chapman.

“I got 50 percent scholarship at Chapman, but took out student loans for the rest of it,” Dewey said. “I worked multiple jobs in college to pay for rent, food, and life on top of taking out loans for tuition.”

Interest accrued on Dewey’s loans during her four years of schooling at Chapman. “I have decided to refinance my loans at a better interest rate through SoFi. I am currently in a deferment period meaning I don’t have to pay until November so I have been aggressively saving since then.”

Dewey got a job at Google which she anticipates will allow her to pay off her loans in five to eight years. “It’s still going to be tight, but it is doable,” Dewey said.   

Chapman undergraduates borrow an average of $6,227 per year, according to Collegefactual. Borrowing the average amount will result in loans of $12,454 after two years and $24,908 after four.

“I am fully on loans for my first semester of law school.” Chapman law student Austin Jones said. “I think I signed up for a 10 year plan but I might just adjust it depending on how much I make when I come out of law school.”

Around 1.1 million borrowers defaulted on their federal student loans in 2016. On average, more than 3,000 borrowers default on their federal student loans every day according to a study by the Federal Student Aid department.

Student loans now have 44 million borrowers who altogether owe $1.5 trillion in solely the U.S, according to Make Lemonade. It is now the second highest consumer debt category- higher than credit card and auto loans.

When people default, the debt is typically transferred to a collection agency. And, in some cases, borrowers who default are charged even higher interest rates as a penalty for having missed payments.

Emmie Farber, sophomore strategic and corporate communications major, is determined that won’t happen to her.

“I plan on getting a kickass job and saving,” to pay off her student loan debt, she said.

Global Warming Will Cook California in 12 Years

Photo by Cenczi from Pixabay.

President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord in 2017, a pledge taken by over 100 nations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming. Photo by Skeeze from Pixabay.

Things are heating up.

On October 8, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report cautioning irreversible damage to the planet within 12 years if humans fail to combat global warming. In particular, the panel urged nations to prevent the earth from heating more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than pre-industrial levels – an objective that could be achieved with a massive cut on greenhouse gas emissions – but it’s unclear if there is the political will on a national level to avert the coming disaster.

How will a hotter planet affect us? Californians can expect these four things if global warming overpowers human effort.


1. Wave the West Coast Goodbye

Nearby facilities may have to be evacuated if flood-proofing techniques fail to keep coastal cities dry. Photo by Jim Gade from Unsplash.

Nearby facilities may have to be evacuated if flood-proofing techniques fail to keep coastal cities dry. Sea levels are expected to rise at least four inches by the end of the century, meaning that irregular flooding of California coastal towns, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, will become the new norm. Cities would have the opportunity to adapt to these changes at the targeted 2.7 degrees goal as it would slow down the rise of sea levels.


2. Grab Your Inhaler – Asthma and Allergies will Worsen

Sufferers of respiratory conditions will definitely feel the effects of a more intense pollen season. Photo by Cenczi from Pixabay.

Warmer weather and an increase of carbon dioxide are the perfect combination for a swelling pollen production. Californians should expect longer and harsher allergy seasons, as stated in a 2013 study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.


3. More Wildfires

At least 7,000 fires broke out throughout California in 2017. Photo by Marcus Kauffman from Unsplash.

Last year California suffered its worst fire season in history. Increasing temperatures, high winds and dry weather have contributed to this trend. The projected severity of heatwaves would transform the diverse scenery into something completely different. The state’s deserts are expected to expand as the increasing wildfires pave the way for a desert environment, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.


4. Prepare for Shortages

Winter chill is the cool breaking point for fruits and nuts that triggers a break from dormancy. Photo by Alex Kotomanov from Unsplash.

Declining winter chill, resulting from the progression of global warming, is predicted to reduce the production of fruit and nuts in California, according to The Office of Environmental Health Hazard. Among these crops are peaches, almonds, apples and cherries, which account for two-thirds of the country’s fruit and nut production.


Although the future may seem bleak, there is a solution that requires the cooperation of all countries. The United Nations report shows that combating global warming is an international effort, that must translate on the governmental level with laws and restrictions against greenhouse gas emissions.  

Labor union protest fails to gain Chapman’s attention

Despite holding signs two-car-lengths long daily for over a month, the Carpenters Local 2361 labor union protest has failed to gain much attention at Chapman.

Local 2361 alleges that the Chapman-contracted R.D Olson Construction, building the Villa Park Orchard Residential on North Cypress Street, underpays their employees.

Their signs read “LABOR DISPUTE COMING SOON” and those participating in the demonstration are asked to pass out fliers, but are not allowed to give any additional information or answer questions.

We asked Chapman students, a sign holder, and a professor their opinions on the labor dispute and also their feelings on labor unions overall.

 

Chapman baseball wins SCIAC

The Chapman baseball team poses after their SCIAC win. Photo by Joel Brown

For the first time in Panther history the Chapman University baseball team won the SCIAC Championship game against Redlands in a winner take all game.

The championship game started on Friday, May 4th and ended on Sunday.

The Chapman team made an improbable win in the championship, first losing to Redlands 12 to 5 on Friday.

“Every game was do or die,” said Austin Merrill, sophomore pitcher.

Redlands was undefeated and the tournament was double elimination, we had to beat Redlands two out of three times to win the championship, Merrill said.  “The second game (on Saturday) we ended up shutting them down and beating them and that set the scene for it all.”

During the final game against Redlands, the Chapman team was losing 10-1 going into the 7th inning.

“Coming back from being down 10-1 in  the 7th inning and scoring 19 runs between the 7th, 8th, and 9th inning is pretty unheard of,” said Joel Brown, sophomore outfielder.

“We managed to put up 16 runs in 2 innings behind our captains Jared Love and Gavin Blodgett,” Merrill said. “If I had to put it all down to one play, Gavin hit a no doubt bases loaded home run and there was no looking back from there.”

The team is now going on to play in the West Regional in Spokane, Washington. If they win the six team regional, they move onto to the world series in Appleton, Wisconsin for a chance at the National Championship.

According to Merrill every player on the team stepped up and did their part in the SCIAC Championship.

“Trevor Marrs, a freshman stepped up to play in place of one of our most valuable players that got hurt and did a hell of a job.” Merrill said.

Merrill also complimented Cody Turner and Jonathan Hernandez for their performance on the field.

“They gave their best effort on the mound and really kept us in a spot to come back.” said Merrill.

Joel Brown said he believes it was a team effort to win the game.

“It’s like the saying in baseball, ‘the batting order is a living and breathing thing; It has to work together to be successful,’” Brown said.

He said his favorite part of the season had to be winning the SCIAC.

“There is no other feeling like it,” Brown said.

 

 

The band aid for Chapman counseling staffing problem

Some Chapman students whose issues aren’t considered pressing don’t always necessarily get turned away from SPCS, but they seldom go knowing they could be taking the opportunity away from others. Photo by Danielle Konovitch

Chapman University is compensating for the surprisingly low student-to-counselor ratio by taking a new holistic approach to advance health and wellness for students.  

The Student Government Association and Student Engagement are expanding the amount and frequency of recreational fitness sessions on campus, and a newly-hired full-time Program Coordinator for Student Engagement will start spearheading itineraries this summer, said Assistant Director of Student Engagement Mike Keyser. SGA President Mitchell Rosenberg is meeting with senior advisors with a formal proposal to double the size of the fitness center, according to Keyser.  

“We’re trying to connect working out to more than just looking good,” Keyser said. “Fitness satisfies social and physical needs as well as it revitalizes students’ mental health.”

As of spring 2018, Student Psychological Counseling Services (SPCS) balanced a counselor-to-student ratio of 1:1310. This ratio includes both undergraduate and graduate students on Chapman’s main campus as well as the Rinker Health Science Campus, according to Director of SPCS Jeanne M. Walker, Ph.D. The counselor-to-undergraduate student ratio was roughly 1:980 this spring, according to Walker.  

Student Psychological Services has recently hired two new full time equivalent counselors, one of which is specifically for the Rinker Health Science Campus, so the ratios are expected to be better next year, Walker said.  

“The new model counseling services is grappling with will assist students on a need basis and on the level of the crisis,” Keyser said. “The new staff will help manage the amount of people and I anticipate that the students who need less specialized attention will lean toward our new upcoming fitness programs and events.”  

More yoga on the lawn wouldn’t help the issues a lot of students have, said junior public and advertising major Meagan Donovan.  

Donovan stopped utilizing Chapman’s counseling services for generalized anxiety because she felt she was taking the opportunity away from someone else.  

“No one ever explicitly said I couldn’t be seen, or I couldn’t be helped,” Donovan said. “But it made me uncomfortable from the beginning knowing there is a waitlist of people who many need more help than I do.” 

Talking it out would be the most useful way to cope with anxiety, Donovan said.  

“I like kayaking and yoga on the lawn, but these activities wouldn’t necessarily help the issues I was being seen for,” Donovan said.  

A residence advisor who wishes to remain anonymous to not jeopardize her position said she had been turned away from the counseling center.

“I was nowhere near suicidal but in desperate need to talk to someone, and basically they told me they can’t see me within the week unless I’m about to kill myself or harm someone else,” the student said. “They said to seek counseling elsewhere if possible because they won’t be able to see me for a few weeks.”

By the time the student finally received an email a month later saying she could make an appointment, she didn’t need to talk to anyone. 

Chapman’s Student Psychological Counseling Services Office didn’t respond to request for comment by deadline.  

As of spring 2018, Student Psychological Counseling Services (SPCS) balanced a counselor-to-student ratio of 1:1310. Photo by Danielle Konovitch

Chapman housing can better serve transgender students

Matt Burnside, a junior television writing and production major who identifies as trans-male, said that his on-campus roommate situation wasn’t ideal his first year at Chapman, before his transition. Photo by Danielle Konovitch

Chapman continues to struggle with how to best accommodate the housing needs of transgender students.  

The Office of Residence Life and First Year Experience now offers first year students a chance to indicate their needs regarding gender inclusive housing. Students have the option of selecting “I WANT” to live in gender inclusive housing, “I AM WILLING” to live in gender inclusive housing, or “I DO NOT WANT” to live in gender inclusive housing, according to Residence Life Director David Sundby.  

This system, put in place Fall 2017, replaces one that did not thoroughly describe or define what gender inclusive housing meant. Students that selected the need for gender inclusive housing in past years were emailed with an explanation and asked if they still needed it, according to Sundby.   

Sundby declined to provide the percentages or numbers regarding the forms.  

“Anyone with strong opinions about this topic will see numbers as confirmatory. Advocates for LGBTQ inclusion may see preference indication as necessary while those who oppose LGBTQ rights will see this as confirmation of, ‘nobody wants this! It’s just catering to a small minority, so why do it?’” Sundby said. “I don’t want to give anyone fodder to argue against this change. It’s how we do things now because we believe it to be the right thing to do.”

Chapman housing emailed students with different needs in the past to keep their needs on the down low, according to Sundby. Now they’re adamant about openly supporting all students and halting students from potentially impacting each other negatively, Sundby said.  

265 colleges and universities in the United States have gender inclusive housing according to Campus Pride. Chapman University is a part of a network of universities that are communicating through the Association of College and University Housing Officers to effectively pair roommates and arrange comfortable housing for LGBTQ students, according to Sundby.

Chapman University is also listed on Campus Pride’s website as one of 1,036 colleges and universities in the U.S. with nondiscrimination policies that include gender identity and expression.  

The best way to accommodate transgender students in on-campus housing is to ask students their gender identity on the application and base the pairings off of this rather than sex assignment, according to director of Campus Pride Genny Beemyn.

“Chapman’s current housing application gives students the ability to express their prejudice,” Beemyn said. “Also, it doesn’t help if you’re a trans guy and are paired with a trans woman when you want to live with another trans guy; and when two cis people who are trans supportive get assigned to each other because of their willingness to live in gender inclusive housing.”

Parents have called Chapman housing with complains about being uncomfortable with their students’ LGBTQ roommates, according to Sunbdy.  

“Sometimes it’s solely the parent’s issue, otherwise I ask the student if they have actually talked to their roommate, and usually such discomfort is solved with a conversation. Many times, roommates with different orientations find common ground and become friends,” Sundby said.  

However, this was not the case for all LGBTQ students.  

Chapman housing denied senior digital arts major Jesse Herb, who identifies as trans-female, gender inclusive housing in the spring of 2015 because she wasn’t presenting. Presentation is defined as the physical manifestation of one’s gender identity through clothing, hairstyle, voice, and body shape by Trans Student Educational Resources.  

“I had to come out to the housing professional I met with because I had to explain why I didn’t want to live in just a co-ed house, which was the gender-inclusive option before the application gave a definition,” Herb said. “I just wanted to live with my [female] best friend. The housing professional said that because I’m not presenting, I don’t qualify for gender-neutral housing. I told her I’m coming out to her now, and she said I have to be presenting to everyone else.”

Herb said the experience was completely invalidating and dehumanizing, and recognizes the university’s vast improvements since that ordeal.  

“Many faculty we have now are very understanding and try to be inclusive, but not all – like some English professors refuse to use they/them pronouns, which is an easy fix,” Herb said. “In general, Chapman could normalize pronouns. Outing yourself can be hard, so it would help if professors presented the opportunity for students to email them and communicate how they want to be addressed.”  

Herb also said she knows Chapman has some conservative backers, so it doesn’t surprise her that easy changes to make transgender students more comfortable takes time.  

“Putting pads and tampons in the men’s bathrooms would be respectful health care for men who have vaginas,” Herb said.  

Matt Burnside, a junior television writing and production major who identifies as trans-male, said that his on-campus roommate situation wasn’t ideal his first year at Chapman, before his transition.  

“I was good friends with my suitemate but when I came out to her as bi, she told me I had to tell my roommate because otherwise I was lying to her. When I asked why, she said, ‘I don’t know, she might feel uncomfortable changing in front of you so it’s important for you to let her know,’” Burnside said. “I never told my roommate but I think my suitemate might have, because she became distant from that point forward.”

Burnside said he consulted his residence director, who assisted Burnside in moving out.  

“I’m seeing good strides. Making a change like this one to the housing application is a positive and easy way to protect students who identify as transgender, gender non-conforming, or non-binary,” Burnside said. “I think it’s a definite step in the right direction and with more push from students and faculty for safety and inclusion.”

Alleged Cancellation of Chapman’s Career Readiness Programs

Photo of the Office of Career and Professional Development. Photo by Katie Whitman

Chapman students are disheartened over the apparent cancellation of the ATLAS, Compass, and Summit career readiness programs offered by the Career Development Center.

“I’m upset because Chapman likes to say it’s a small university that encourages personalized attention but the truth is this place operates like a business which puts big numbers before the individual student it says it serves,” Hailey Shannon, a creative writing major who is a part of the Compass program said.

Sahzeah Babylon, a career educator at the Center who runs ATLAS, a program that caters to undeclared students, and Compass, which helps transfer students was told about the cancellation of the programs during a discussion with a superior.

The programs are being canceled due to low attendance, Babylon said. Babylon said the administration plans to replace the three customized programs with a single, more generalized program. This is the last semester for the specialized programs, which cater to students with specific challenges that they address through a combination of group instruction and labor-intensive, personalized coaching.

It is standard practice for Chapman’s Office of Career and Professional Development to evaluate all of its programs and services at the end of each semester, and the Compass, ATLAS, Summit and Passport programs are among those being reviewed, Jo Etta Bandy, the executive director of the Career and Professional Development Center said via email.

“In the spirit of continuous improvement, we will always have a focus on evolving our work in order to provide the maximum benefit to our students,” Bandy said via email. “No decisions have been relative to any of our programs at this point in time.”

Babylon also runs a program called Passport which assists international students with career development. The Passport program will not be canceled, according to Babylon but she is unsure about what the program will look like.

Hailey Shannon and Sahzeah Babylon at the last Passport session where Babylon facilitated a conversation about culture shock. Photo courtesy of Hailey Shannon

Adrianna Davies, the student assistant for the Career and Professional Development Center, said she was not aware that the programs were being axed. However, “I know this year there was very low attendance and the career center is trying their best to get the word out that these programs are happening. Every year we have to meet a quota and this year we barely met it.”

The attendance for Compass during Fall 2017 was 9 students who completed the program and in Spring 2018, 11 completed the program.

Passport (currently in its 3rd semester): Fall 2017, 8 completed the program / Spring 2018, 13 completed the program.

ATLAS: Fall 2017, 5 completed the program / Spring 2018, 10 completed the program.

“My programs actually ended with higher attendance in every single program (compared to previous semesters,) Babylon said via email.

“There are normally 50 plus students that complete the Summit program, this time there were close to 70 signed up and 30-ish that finished,” Babylon said via email. “This is the first time the numbers have gone down (in the Summit program) and I’m not sure why they did.”

Hailey Shannon and Sahzeah Babylon at the Summit certificate Ceremony. Photo courtesy of Hailey Shannon

Susan Chang, the assistant director of the Career and Professional Development Center, did not respond to three emails and one voicemail requesting comment.

The Summit program, a professional development series, is run by graduate student Maria Khalil.

Khalil did not respond to three emails requesting to comment.

Chapman students say the customized programs have been crucial in preparing them for careers and fill gaps not addressed by classes.

“Sahzeah met with me over multiple weeks and multiple sessions to ensure that every margin, word, and sentence was perfect for my resume,” said Noah Estrada Rand, a psychology major. “She genuinely cared about my success as a student who barely knew what a proper college resume looked like.”

Babylon’s “vast knowledge in all aspects and steps of finding and pursuing a career is what made her stand out from every other staff and faculty member at Chapman,” he added.

Hailey Shannon credited Babylon with winning her an internship.

“I went through the Compass program and she (Babylon) makes you go to an internship EXPO that happens in the fall; I went to the internship EXPO and I found the internship for the Newport Beach festival,” said Shannon. “The only reason I was prepared for the interview for the Newport Beach festival internship was because of Shahzeah’s program; I have learned more from her about how to walk into a professional setting then I have from any of my other classes.”

Andre Kacie, a junior business administration major recently transferred to Chapman this semester and is a part of the Compass program, which he praised for building a sense of community while building participants’ confidence and skills..

“Sahzeah really puts so much time and personal care into making sure that everyone in the program was getting the one-on-one attention they needed,” Kacie said. “Interviewing and resume building is not the most exciting thing to work on, but she made the program so fun and positive that I enjoyed going every week… I would be so sad to see the program go.”

Erin Guy, a junior public relations, and advertising major, polished her elevator pitch, learned how to conduct an informational interview, perfected her resume and practiced his interview and networking skills in the Compass program.

“I feel much more prepared for my after-college years and felt I have made a lasting bond and essential resource in my relationship with Sahzeah, ” Guy said.

Babylon’s warmth, joyful approach and personalized assistance buoyed her spirits and “made made me feel prepared for the future and sure about my decision to transfer.”

The Summit program was created by Dean Price’s office originally through student affairs but was handed over to the Career and Professional Development Center, according to Babylon . It is a professional development series that lasts seven weeks, Babylon said.

Babylon said the personalized, labor-intensive approach will be replaced with a more generalized one-size-fits-all series of seminars. “I think what is going to happen is they are going to have presentations or seminars throughout the semester and students are required to go to one at the beginning of the semester,” Babylon said. “Then they (the students) have to go to four or five sessions to get a certified certificate at the end of the semester for attending all the programs.”

That may sound like a good idea, but there are some fall backs, she said.

“In small programs, the whole idea is that you form a community, you get to know the person your working with and you build this network of people,” Babylon said. “How is that supposed to happen if you are just going to a random seminar presentation sometime during the semester?”

The programs new replacement program will be run by Susan Chang with her Grad assistant Maria Khalil, according to Babylon.

The ATLAS program targets freshman and sophomores that are undeclared and has been going on for the last four years, Babylon said.

The Compass program which was developed last semester was designed to help transfer students who had problems transitioning. “Transfer students were graduating but they weren’t getting involved, they weren’t networking, all the things that are necessary to Chapman,” Babylon said. “The program was created to get a jump start into all those things.”