Breaking: controversial “The Birth of a Nation” movie posters removed

Last Thursday about 200 students participated in a sit down in front of “The Birth of a Nation” posters following a rally outside of Memorial Hall. Photo by Autumn Sumruld.

Dodge faculty voted that the two “The Birth of a Nation” movie posters from Marion Knott Studios be returned to their donor, Cecilia DeMille Presley, President Daniele Struppa announced via email this morning.

“As I had indicated earlier, I support their resolution. I hope the students are satisfied with the outcome and appreciate that their voices were heard,” Struppa said.

His statements represented an about-face from earlier statements in which he claimed that removing the posters promoting an epic 1915 movie about the Ku Klux Klan and which depicted black people in derogatory ways would constitute censorship.

“While I know this has been a difficult decision and there was disappointment that I did not just act on my own and have the poster removed, I do hope that faculty and students appreciate the importance of how this decision was made,” Struppa wrote. “I felt strongly that it could not be imposed by me as an act of authority, but rather requested by the faculty who best understand the impact of the decision on their school and on the students’ educational experience. On the basis of the many conversations I had with my colleagues, I know their decision is predicated on their love for their students and their desire to eliminate anything that could be an obstacle to their learning.”

On Friday Struppa said he was confident faculty would vote to remove the posters but imagined they would be placed in a more secluded location with descriptions that would make their historical context clear.

Students expressed relief at the Dodge faculty’s decision.

“Taking down this poster gives me hope for the beginning of a new wave of activism and diversity for Chapman. This is evidence of what happens when an administration listens to its students. A university can’t be one without its students,” said sophomore peace studies major Natalia Ventura.

Struppa’s email indicated that the poster imbroglio may be only the beginning of a deeper discussion. “I hope this is only the beginning of an important dialogue on this campus as we continue our work to improve the student experience at Chapman,” he wrote.

Struppa talks censorship, presidential authority and “The Birth of a Nation” with Prowl

About 200 students gathered on Friday to protest the controversial movie posters. “The piece is already here. When a piece is out, to take it down is a form of censorship. Unless the people who take it down are the people in charge of the wall,” said President Daniele Struppa. Photo by Autumn Sumruld.

Chapman President Daniele Struppa continues to maintain that removal of the two “Birth of a Nation” posters from the walls of the Marion Knott Studios is censorship, but acknowledges the right of Dodge faculty to remove items they find offensive in “their home.”

In a Friday interview with Prowl, Struppa said he has “100% confidence” the Dodge faculty will vote to have the posters promoting the racist, but historically significant, movie removed, and admitted the controversy – which has roiled a campus infamous for its minuscule representation of black students (1.6%) – has given him an education at the institution over which he presides.

It appears that the Dodge faculty voted to have the posters removed today. It is at present unknown when the posters will be taken down and what will happen to them.

Struppa met with members of Black Student Union, joined by two faculty, on April 15. After the faculty told Struppa they, too, believed the posters should be removed, he decided to leave the decision in the hands of the Dodge faculty, which is voting today.  “If they take it down because it’s their home, so to speak, then that’s not censorship. You decide what you have what you have in your home,” Struppa said.

“It would be problematic for me to say, ‘the students want it down let’s take it down because I care about the students.’ Of course I care about the students, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to do something, that to me, flies in the face of what proper governance is in the university,” Struppa said.

Struppa compared the emotions generated by the posters to the backlash generated by “Piss Christ,” a famous photo by Andres Serrano, which depicts a crucifix in a container of his own urine. The image prompted outraged Republican legislators to cut the budget for the National Endowment of the Arts and the artist received death threats. A print displayed in France was destroyed by angry Christians. Art that generates strong emotions may be provocative, annoying and offensive, “but it is art,” said Struppa, who indicated he is open to a donation of a “Piss Christ” print.

The posters came to Chapman as a gift from a descendent of the film mogul Cecil B. Demille, Cecilia DeMille Presley,  and installed shortly after the completion of The Marion Knott Studios in 2007, according to the Chapman website.  Neither Presley nor other members of the DeMille family have reached out since students began demanding the removal of their gift, said Struppa, who did not indicate what he was doing to smooth relations with the DeMilles, who have donated generously to Chapman.

“I want to be fair to the people who accepted the gift 15 years ago. I don’t think they should not have accepted the gift. It’s a collection of many posters. But (Chapman staff) should have been careful about what they did with them,” Struppa said.

“If there is a fault there, it’s with nobody really having the forethought to say: ‘Wait a second, what are doing here?’ But to attribute to them – and them by extension to me – support for white supremacy, it is in my view absurd,” Struppa said.

Throughout the interview, Struppa strove to put a good face on the controversy, insisting that the posters, while perhaps in need of context, were teaching tools about the history of racism in the United States.

“Some people said there is no education in having the poster. But that’s not true. The best proof is the last week,” Struppa said. “I know more about the movie now than I would have ever known if the poster would have not been there and the student would not have become upset about it,” Struppa said. “I know that I am a better person because of that.”

A professor’s job is to push students outside of comfort zones, Struppa said. The outrage over “The Birth of a Nation” posters have pushed people to this place of discomfort and offered education, he said.

If the posters are removed, Struppa thinks they will be moved to a less conspicuous locaton, such as the Hilbert museum or an area in Dodge which “you have to go if you want to see it, and where there is going to be significant explanation,” Struppa said.

“People say we didn’t take action fast enough. I met with the Black Student Union Monday night, and by next Monday night the poster is going to be down,” Struppa said. “It seems to me that the university has responded.”

As the university responds to the poster, larger diversity issues have demanded attention. Black students here are clearly unhappy and underrepresented at Chapman, but Struppa said he does not have a road map to address their concerns.

“I don’t have ready, quick answers and quick solutions, to be honest. It would be presumptuous of me to say that we can easily fix this,” Struppa said.

“The problem is that Orange County itself is not an attractive place for African Americans, because there aren’t any,” said President Daniele Struppa. Photo by Autumn Sumruld.

Chapman Student Who Says He Was Racially Profiled Beats Traffic Ticket

Domenick Sevor holding his “notice to appear” in the Chatham Superior Court, where, he says, he beat a costly speeding ticket. His name and license plate number have been redacted to preserve his privacy. Photo by Amir Ghani.

A Chatsworth traffic court has dismissed a $400 speeding ticket issued to a Chapman sophomore who believed he was racially profiled, according to the student.

On Monday, a judge dismissed the ticket issued by a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer who also accused communications major Domenick Sevor of following him for eight miles on I-5 South before stopping him in Grapevine on August 23, 2018, Sevor said.

The motorcycle officer had written on the ticket that Sevor had been following him on the freeway for eight miles and was going 80 miles in a 65 miles-per-hour zone.

“It didn’t make sense [to the judge] that I was exceeding the speed limit and following an officer,” Sevor said.

Sevor – who was driving his Honda Civic full of personal belongings to Chapman Grand in advance of the fall semester, suspected he wasn’t really being stopped for speeding.

“I was racially profiled,” Sevor said. “There was no real reason for the officer to stop me.”

Sevor said he did not share his suspicions with the judge but instead argued that he was driving the presumed speed for safety reasons. The judge, he said, seemed to agree that he could not be simultaneously following an officer and speeding.

“I believed I was going to beat the case the whole time. I was relieved,” Sevor said.

CHP did not respond to a voicemail left on its press line requesting comment.

The process cost Sevor class time – he’s had to go to court twice in Chatsworth, which is more than two hours away from Chapman – and wear on his car and gave him a newfound sympathy for others trying to prove their innocence.

“It’s a long process that just kept getting dragged on. I can only imagine what someone with a serious case has to go through,” he said.

Sevor said he received an unexpected fame of sorts after Prowl published a story about his case on April 2.

One young woman recognized him at a Dodge mixer and told him, “it’s good that you’re standing up for something important.”

UPDATE: Chapman’s sexual misconduct policy is changing, here’s why it matters

Half of Americans think men getting away with sexual misconduct is a major problem, according to data from Pew Research Center. Photo by Claire Treu.

UPDATE: Responses from Chapman’s Lead Title IX Coordinator Deann Yocum-Gaffney and Director of Student Conduct Colleen Wood have been added to the story. 

Chapman is changing the way it handles sexual assault and harassment complaints.

The new rules, announced in an email by Dean of Students Jerry Price, directly comply with February rulings in the California Court of Appeals, which found that the accused, if facing serious discipline or expulsion, should have a right to a hearing and be able to question their accuser. This was in response to the controversial expulsion of a student at the University of Southern California (USC), who argued he was “denied a fair hearing” because respondents were biased, according to the appeal.

The new rules – which are effective immediately – also appear to adhere with the wish list of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has requested new policies that give more rights to the accused in sexual misconduct cases.

Title IX has been fiercely criticized by conservatives for setting up accused students – mostly young men –  to be unjustly disciplined by universities after accusations of sexual misconduct and rape. Since her appointment as Secretary of Education, DeVos has frequently expressed concern that the Obama-era reforms may be trampling the rights of accused perpetrators.

Part of this is because Title IX investigations use the preponderance of evidence standard, which makes it easier for someone to be found responsible for sexual misconduct than in criminal cases. Title IX investigations more closely mimic civil cases (like lawsuits) rather than criminal trials. This is because rape if often difficult to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” on college campuses; there are often no witnesses and victims might not feel comfortable reporting an assault until long after they happen. As of now, the preponderance of evidence standard is still in place.

The new Chapman policy, which has to be in compliance with Title IX and state law, states that the outcome of the investigation – whether an alleged perpetrator is found to be “responsible” for an assault or not – will be in the hands of “hearing officers” instead of investigators. This means a live hearing for the accuser, the accused and relevant witnesses will also be conducted, Price said in his email, noting that alleged victims and perpetrators will not be required to be in the same room at the same time. The requirement for a live hearing process is new. Previously, investigators made decisions regarding culpability following investigations – now hearing officers have the final say. The Title IX coordinator will determine what disciplinary actions, if any, will follow the hearing.

Hearing officers are “specially trained university employees who have the responsibility to determine whether the university policy was violated,” according to Chapman’s Lead Title IX Coordinator Deann Yocum-Gaffney. It is at present unclear what type of training hearing officers must complete. The California Court of Appeals calls these officers “neutral fact finders.”

The move also follows a resolution by the Student Government Association (SGA) which asked Chapman to keep the old policies in place.

“These changes are in response to some misconduct at other universities in regards to ‘rushing to judgment’ against the accused,” SGA Upper Senator Alex Ballard told Prowl in an email. “While I do believe that these policies will create additional barriers and hesitations for survivors to come forward, it is an unfortunate fact that this is something out of the university’s hands.”

Both the old and new guidelines stipulate that investigations be completed within 60 days.

The new policy revised the way investigators communicate, requiring a minimum of monthly updates to accusers and the accused at a minimum, which Ballard said SGA’s resolution recommended.

After a complaint is filed, investigators will submit a summary report. A hearing will be granted after a complaint is evaluated by Title IX coordinators. The accuser and accused are then notified and are assigned a hearing officer 10 days prior to the hearing, as stated in the new Misconduct Policy.

“The hearing is an opportunity for the hearing officer(s) to hear from the complainant, respondent, and witness(es) and to gather information needed to determine whether the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy and/or the Student Conduct Code has been violated,” the Misconduct Policy states.

The hearings will be recorded through audio, written notes and/or video and will become the property of the university, but not shared with the public, according to the new policy.

Accusers and alleged assailants are not required to be in  the same room during the hearing because it can be traumatic for victims to face their perpetrator. While the new policy doesn’t state that the accused can “cross-examine” their accusers, it says they can question other parties through the hearing officers.

“During the hearing the complainant and respondent will have the opportunity present their account of the events, to ask questions of other parties through the hearing officer(s), and to provide a closing statement,” the policy states.

Some students are concerned the new protocols will discourage victims from reporting sexual assault and harassment.

Live hearings “will deter people from coming forward. Some people probably won’t want everyone to know what happened to them,” said sophomore math major Justine Sitton.

Either party can refuse to participate in the investigation or hearing, but doing so will impede investigations, administrators warned.  “A lack of participation may be a severe or even insurmountable obstacle for the investigation. As such, if a complainant chooses not to participate in the investigation, the Title IX Coordinator shall determine whether or not to proceed with the investigation,” according to the new Misconduct Policy.

If both parties agree to move forward with the hearing process, hearing officers will release a report to each party deeming the alleged perpetrator not responsible or responsible of violating the policy. If the hearing officers find the latter, Chapman’s Title IX Coordinator will be consulted for further sanctions, according to the new rules.

Disciplinary actions range from loss of privileges, “educational sanctions,” suspension or expulsion, according to the policy.

These changes were made to keep Chapman updated with policies that “follow best practices and are in compliance with relevant guidance and laws,” according to Price.

Ballard said he was “surprised to see this student body-wide announcement from the Dean of Students, especially given that SGA received no notice of these changes prior to this mass communication.”

Some elements of the policy were not included in Price’s email and only “discovered upon a thorough reading of the updated (policy),” Ballard said.

Director of Student Conduct Colleen Wood claimed said she and Yocum-Gaffney had met with Ballard on Feb. 27.

“During that meeting, we noted that we were in the midst of a policy revision due to the case law changes. We also discussed their desire for changes to the amnesty policy as well as other items,” Wood said.

“Further adjustments” to the policy may be made, Price said, promising to keep the campus community informed as changes occur.


Correction: A previous version of this story said the Title IX Coordinator would be responsible for determining the disciplinary measures if someone is found to have violated the policy. This has been corrected to say that the hearing officer(s) would consult the Title IX Coordinator. In addition, both the old and new policy guidelines state that a minimum of monthly updates must be provided to the parties involved in an investigation. 


Faculty Senate wants a voice in Chapman donation policy

Chapman’s Faculty Senate President Paul Gulino speaks as the meeting on March 15. The Senate voted on and passed a resolution regarding the acceptance of future donations to the university. Photo by Sydnee Valdez

In the wake of the national admissions scandal, Chapman’s faculty senate has passed a resolution requesting faculty and the administration collaborate on establishing a set of “donor policies” be established to prevent the university from being unethically influenced by money.

Chapman’s Faculty Senate voted on a resolution that advocated for the resistance of future donations that have inappropriate influences on faculty hiring and predetermined outcomes of  research projects, according to the Faculty Senate.

The official resolution reads: The Chapman Faculty senate greatly appreciates the vital role that donors play in advancing the educational mission of the university.  

Chapman University has the ethical obligation to generate knowledge free of any improper influence; therefore, the Faculty Senate endorses the President’s statement that Chapman University not accept donations that require the university to hire faculty dictated by the donor, or agree to engage in research for which the outcome is predetermined. Further, the senate respectfully recommends that Chapman University strengthen this policy by pledging to resist any inappropriate influence from donors or donations whether explicit or implicit.

The faculty senate encourages the formation of a strong partnership between faculty and administration to create a set of donor policies that makes Chapman University a national leader in developing ethical guidelines governing donor involvement in university affairs, hiring practices, and production of knowledge.”

The vote was originally scheduled as a response to controversial donations from the Charles Koch Foundation, which roiled sectors of Chapman faculty. By coincidence, it also came days after a nationwide college bribery scandal broke which involved the university. Chapman was named in as the destination for  $325,000 in donations by a fraudulent charity, according to the charity’s 990 forms.

Two donations were reportedly made from the charity (headed by Newport resident William “Rick” Singer), which federal prosecutors say was a money laundering front for parents to get their underqualified kids into college, according to federal indictments.

Prior to the donations the university was accused of accepting a student, Dylan Sidoo, with fraudulent SAT scores obtained after his wealthy father paid $100,000 to Singer, who hired a ringer to take the young man’s test for him.

This is the second reading of the resolution since November, according to Chair of the Faculty Governance Council Lynda Hall. During the meeting, a second revision was made, and 57 percent of the 30 faculty members voted in concordance with the resolution while 43 percent either abstained or voted against it.

“It is a bare minimum majority. It passes,” Hall said in the meeting.

At the senate meeting, Associate Professor at Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences David Frederick proposed the friendly amendment,and it was accepted by Hall. In his amendment, he acknowledged the importance of donors, emphasized “improper” influences, and set forth the idea of Chapman faculty becoming the leaders in making sure that all donations are ethically received.

“It’s good to acknowledge the importance of donors to the university,” Frederick said.

The resolution grew out of a faculty response to an earlier statement made by Chapman President Daniele Struppa in a guest editorial defending acceptance of money donated by the Koch foundation that read “Chapman University has not and will not accept donations that require the university to hire faculty dictated by the donor. Nor would we ever agree to engage in research whose outcome is predetermined by any donor.”

The Senate Executive Board proposed voting to endorse the statement and after discussion, it was expanded.

Despite having discussed the issue of accepting controversial donations for several months, some faculty members did not apparently agree with the new resolution.

“I just want to understand. Are we still discussing this again, or is it done?” asked Computational and Data Science Graduate Programs Professor Heshman El-Askary.

El-Askary and another faculty member objected to the revised resolution but their concerns were not explored because voting for the resolution had already begun, Hall later explained.

This is the second reading, we took the amendment, we had the vote. We’ve got to move on,” Faculty Senate President Paul Gulino said.

Gulino will send the resolution to President Daniele C. Struppa, Executive Vice President of University Advancement Sheryl Bourgeois, and the Board of Trustees on March 25, according to Gulino.

Chapman officials have been working with the Department of Justice for several months as a part of the ongoing college admission scandal, and officials have not been accused of wrongdoing, according to a March 21 statement issued by Struppa.

“These allegations are very serious and are personally concerning to me,” Struppa said. “It is imperative that we look deeper into this situation and do a thorough investigation to whether we are indeed living up to our values and principles at all levels of the organization.”


Forty-four faculty members attended the meeting and listened to the second reading of the resolution. Photo by Sydnee Valdez


Struppa: Chapman probe into apparent payoffs should conclude in several weeks

In an email to the Chapman community on March 20, Struppa said the university has been working with the DOJ for several months and that the university is conducting it’s own probe into the admissions scandal. Graphic by Maggie Mayer using a photo from Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash.

Chapman University has engaged “external attorney investigators” who have worked in “senior positions in the Department of Justice” to examine the college’s ties to the national admissions scandal, President Daniele Struppa announced Wednesday.

Chapman has been cooperating with the Department of Justice “for several months” and has not been accused of wrongdoing, Struppa said in a mass email sent to students and staff. Yet, he noted, “it is imperative that we look deeper into this situation and do a thorough investigation to whether we are indeed living up to our values and principles.” The investigation, which probes the university’s interaction with the tainted college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer of Newport Beach, should be completed within several weeks, Struppa said.

Struppa’s email comes after Chapman University was connected to the scandal in the indictment of David Sidoo, a retired Canadian football player accused of paying $100,000 to have a ringer take the SAT for his son, Dylan. Dylan Sidoo was admitted to Chapman as a film production major in 2012 with fraudulent SAT scores before transferring to the University of Southern California two years later, according to court papers and Dylan Sidoo’s social media.

Chapman allegedly received a total of $325,000 in donations between 2014 and 2015 from The Key Worldwide Foundation, a fraudulent charity which officials say was used to launder bribe money from parents seeking to get their children accepted to universities for which they were not qualified. It is not yet clear who at Chapman accepted the money, if it arrived.

“I am confident these allegations are not a reflection of the culture we have at Chapman,” Struppa wrote, acknowledging he had been deluged with “countless messages” about the scandal and Chapman’s practices. At this point in time, the university cannot act on the alleged donations or students that may have connections to Singer’s operations because there isn’t enough information available, according to the email.

When the investigation is completed, Struppa said he will “communicate what [he] is able to regarding the findings.” He also said he was “committed to demonstrating transparency as we work to find resolution.”

Here’s what we know about Chapman’s connection to the nationwide college admissions scandal

Multiple Chapman officials did not answer questions concerning the allocation of $325,000 allegedly donated to the university by The Key Worldwide Foundation. Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash.

Who got the money and what was it used for? That is the question on the minds of Chapman students and workers after the university was revealed to have a role in the largest  admissions scandal in U.S. history.

Chapman University received a $150,000 donation in 2016 and $175,000 in 2015 from The Worldwide Key Foundation, according to the Foundation’s 990 forms.  It is unknown who received the funds at Chapman, how the funds were disbursed, or what – if anything – was expected in exchange for the donations.

The Key Worldwide Foundation was founded by Newport resident William “Rick” Singer who ran a college consultancy called Edge College and Career Network, also known as Key Worldwide. The college admission consultancy is at the center of a national scandal in which coaches,  proctors and test takers were allegedly bribed to help get unqualified students into elite colleges. Singer’s operation has ensnared elite schools across the country, including the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Southern California (USC), Yale University, Georgetown College, and Stanford University.

The massive investigation, dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues,” also swept up barons of industry and celebrities. “Fuller House” actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters, Isabella Rose and YouTube influencer Olivia Jade into USC. (The girls reportedly left the school this week.)  Felicity Huffman allegedly made a $15,000 donation to the Key Foundation to have another person take an SAT for her older daughter.

The charity’s website (now deactivated) claimed the foundation helped inner-city youth and poor Cambodian children,  but prosecutors say it was a slush fund to launder bribes paid by parents to coaches, test proctors and universities to obtain college admission for their children.

The admissions scandal – thought to have involved some $25 million in bribes –  set social media ablaze and has sparked conversations about fairness and equality on campuses throughout the nation. It was bad enough, said pundits, that the offspring of the super wealthy were advantaged via the “back door” of large bequests to certain universities. But documentation of a “side door” via outright cheating engendered a class anger that has yet to quell.

“Chapman University has been and is currently cooperating with the Department of Justice in their investigation. Chapman prides itself on an open and fair admission process. We are not aware nor have we been advised that we have been involved in any wrongdoing,” Chapman’s VP of Marketing and Communications Jamie S. Ceman wrote in an email to Prowl.

“Chapman University like all great institutions routinely receives funds from foundations and any irregularities in the gifts from the Key Worldwide Foundation, should they exist, were and are totally unknown to us. We take this matter very seriously and intend to review this relationship in depth to assure ourselves that our principles have not in any way been compromised,” Ceman stated.

The donations from Key Worldwide, as well as the admission of student thought to have been admitted after having a proxy take his SAT, occurred while Jim Doti was president of Chapman University. Doti rejoined the faculty in fall of 2016 after 25 years as president.

“I have no knowledge of these donations, if in fact they occurred,” President Emeritus Jim Doti stated in an email to Prowl, adding: “I think it’s best you work with Ms. Ceman.”

“Due to the ongoing investigation I cannot comment further,” Ceman said.

President Daniele Struppa issued a statement via email Wednesday repeating Ceman’s remarks and declining to  comment further.

The alleged donations from the Key Foundation to the university followed an incident in which a parent allegedly paid Singer $100,000 to have a ringer take the SAT on behalf of his son, who was eventually admitted to Chapman.

The parent, David Sidoo, is accused of paying an accomplice to take SAT exams for his two sons, according to an  indictment filed by the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts on March 5.

David Sidoo is a three-time All Canadian football player, businessman and philanthropist. He is accused of mail and wire fraud by “cheating on college entrance exams” and “submitting the falsified test scores to colleges,” the indictment states. His son, Dylan Sidoo, was admitted to Chapman as a film production major in 2012. He later transferred to and graduated from USC, according to his social media accounts.

Bob Bassett, the dean of Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, did not respond to a request for comment.

The donations to Chapman came years after Dylan was admitted, and are not mentioned in David Sidoo’s indictment.

David Sidoo is accused of paying Singer $100,000 to have someone else take the SAT in place of his older son, Dylan.

Dylan originally scored a 1460 out of 2400 on his SAT, according to the indictment. The test-taker was instructed “not to obtain too high a score” and received a 1670, said the document. The fraudulent results were sent to an unnamed Chapman administrator by David Sidoo in December 2011, the indictment states.

David Sidoo is also accused of paying an undisclosed amount to have someone pose as his younger son and take a Canadian high school graduation exam as well as the SAT, for which he paid another $100,000, according to the indictment.

David Sidoo could not be reached. Dylan Sidoo did not respond to a request for comment.

Prowl reached out to the Faculty Senate, which is a committee of representatives from each college at Chapman, to see if the Senate plans to open its own investigation.

“We simply don’t have enough information at this point to take any action or position on the college admissions scandal. We’ll be watching carefully as more information becomes available,” Faculty Senate President Paul Gulino wrote in an email.

Students discovering Chapman was involved in the nation’s biggest admissions scandal in history expressed disappointment and cynicism.

“I’m not surprised about this at all,” said junior computer science major Abigail Tan. It’s sad, she said, when some people work so hard to go to college “while some people just buy their way in.”

Tan, who works in the Cross Cultural Center, said the wealthy have always had an advantage in the college admissions process.

“When you are in high school preparing to go to college, you feel that class distance and struggle, because people who are more wealthy tend to have the privilege to go to all these classes (and SAT prep),” she said.

Colette Cucinotta isn’t optimistic about much changing in higher education.

“I honestly don’t think this is going to stop (cheating and bribery),” said the sophomore integrated education studies major. “Maybe a couple people will learn their lesson.”

Dodge professor Angela Paura said the “egregious duplicity” in those involved in the scandal is unimaginable.

“I am appalled by the extent of deception by parents and some university officials and coaches,” she said. “Perhaps the parents were burnishing their own reputations by cheating to send their children to elite universities.”


McKenna Sulick, Jillie Herrold, Maddie Taber, Taylor Thorne and Autumn Sumruld contributed to this report.

UPDATE: 4,000 square-foot fitness center coming to Henley Hall, budget of $1 million

The current gym in the Henley Basement has some cardio equipment and machines for strength training. Photo by Sydnee Valdez

After years of dissatisfaction with the Julianne Argyros Fitness Center, the administration has approved a construction plan to renovate the Henley Hall basement into a 4,000 square-foot fitness center, according to Student Government Association (SGA) President Mitchell Rosenberg. 

SGA has been working to expand Chapman’s gym facilities since 2016, Rosenberg stated in an email to the Chapman community on Tuesday. Construction is anticipated to start at the end of May and be completed by fall 2019.  The project budget is $1 million, according to Associate Vice President of Facilities Management Rick Turner.  

Currently, the university has two fitness centers at its Orange campus: the Julianne Argyros Fitness Center and a small gym with limited equipment in Henley Hall. The main fitness center is often crowded, so many students choose to pay for a gym membership to avoid the campus facilities all together, ChapBook Magazine reported last spring.

After its projected completion, the basement will boast two fitness rooms. One will be a spin studio for indoor cycling sessions, and the second will be used as a multipurpose room for things like Zumba, Yoga, and High Intensity Interval Training (HITT), according to the email.

The facility will also include new fitness equipment and an open space for free weights, stretching, and core workouts, as well as a service desk where students can rent out sports equipment.

“Seeing the email got me really excited. I was also kind of sad because I’ll probably be living in (Chapman) Grand next year. I won’t be able to use it as much, but it will be nice for the freshmen next year who will have a bigger gym,” said freshman undeclared student Katie Brown.

Brown, a resident of Glass Hall, admitted to working out more in the Henley Basement because of its close proximity.  Students say the main gym is flawed and overcrowded – SGA has received many complaints about its inadequacies in the past few years, according to ChapBook.

Using student feedback and survey data expressing concern about the current lack of fitness space available causing an overcrowded fitness center, SGA’s proposal for expanded fitness space was accepted by university administration,” Rosenberg stated in his email. “This result was made possible by countless students using their platform to speak up about their concerns.”

While Rosenberg claimed that all students would have access to Henley Fitness Center as well as Julianne Argyros Fitness Center, it is unknown whether faculty members will receive the same privilege.

The gym expansion will not affect the John Biggs Conference Room, Paul Frizler Media Room, the two music practice rooms, laundry room, and Chapman Radio booth. The four billiard tables, however, will be “removed and re-tasked as needed,” according to Turner. 

“We do come to the basement a lot because it is a big hang out space. We also use the media room a lot for hall events. It would be very unfortunate to lose those areas in order to put in a gym,” said freshman film production major CJ Mitchell.

More updates from SGA and Fitness and Recreation Services will be given throughout this semester, according to Rosenberg. The center will be taking student recommendations for equipment and services at

Starting on Feb. 18, the university will be accepting job applications for students who want to work in the Henley Hall Fitness Center during the 2019-2020 school year, according to the email. 


Rogue balloon causes OC power outage, 1,700 customers affected



Wednesday’s power outage affected Chapman buildings along Center Street, including the Keck Center for Science and Engineering.  Photo by Sydnee Valdez.

By Samantha Colwell and Sydnee Valdez


Chapman’s Orange campus experienced a several minute power outage yesterday as a result of metallic balloon caught in a power line, officials and employees said.

Buildings bordered by Palm Avenue, Walnut Avenue, Center Street and Glassell Street were affected by the blackout, which began around 3 p.m., according to Chief of Public Safety Randy Burba.

About 1,700 Orange County customers lost power, said Sally Jeun, a spokeperson for  Southern California Edison (SCE). Jeun said the outage lasted only a minute, although campus workers said it was at least several minutes. Computer screens went black, and workers and faculty wandered away from their offices to seek guidance as to when power would be restored. An employee at Leatherby Libraries said the lights remained on there, courtesy of a back up generator.

The balloon that caused the outage was caught in a power line west of Citrus Street and south of Almond Avenue. Jeun said that SCE removed the balloon from the powerline at 3:34 p.m., and no repairs were needed.

Outages caused by rogue balloons are not unique; in 2017 SCE saw more than 1000 power outages due to metallic balloons, which affected 1.4 million people, according to Edison International.

The threat of power outages is so severe that it is illegal in California to sell a metallic or foil balloon without a weight attached to it, according to the State Legislature. It’s also illegal to release them.

Public Safety responds to power outages by checking for people in the elevators and surveying building access, according to Burba. He added that outages are infrequent and said there isn’t much officials can do to anticipate or prevent them.

“To guess the likelihood (of another outage) would be pure speculation. Power outages are generally rare,” Burba said.

Balloon outages are different from other power outages because the balloons need to be physically removed from the power line. Metallic balloons are made from Mylar, a conductive material derived from polyester. Because of this, removing a balloon from a line is hazardous for workers and can cause fires, according to Edison International’s website.

Chapman Students from LA Discuss the Holidays

Drone photo of the damage in LA. Photo courtesy of Catie Kovelman

More than a month after the deadliest fire in California history, Chapman students affected by the Woolsey Fire are contemplating holidays without homes and neighbors. 

“There were five to ten students who reached out to our office directly requesting help and support,” said Elise Cimino, executive assistant to Dean Price.

The Woolsey Fire started on November 8th near Simi Valley. The fire burnt through more than 153,000 acres and destroyed more than 18,000 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials. The deadliest fire in California history is finally said to be 100 percent contained. Although the fire is contained, many students are still grappling with the destruction of their homes; however, they are thankful that their families and friends are safe.

Among those who lost their homes were Chapman students, Jordan and Cameron Krekorian.

Jordan Krekorian, a senior screenwriting major, said that the family spent Thanksgiving at her older sister’s house.

“My sister [Cameron] and I spent the week at our older sister’s house in Eagle Rock with our parents, while we were waiting to move into our rental house for the next year, or however long it’ll take to rebuild our house,” Krekorian said.

The Krekorian’s parents are currently living in a rental home right outside of Bell Canyon, California where they previously lived.

Krekorian said she is not quite sure where they will spend the Christmas holiday.

“I think we’ll either have it at my parents’ new place or at my older sister’s or maybe my older brother’s? Not sure yet, we don’t really plan super far ahead for that,” Krekorian said.

As to when the new house will be finished, she says it could take up to two years.

“We figure [it will take] about a year, two at the longest. We were already in the middle of a remodel and my parents are pretty focus forward for the new house on what they want.” Krekorian said.

She is grateful for tiny acts of kindness that show their experience is not lost on others.

“Someone anonymously put a small pot of white flowers on the driveways of all the houses that completely burned,” Krekorian said.

Losing her home has taught her to appreciate the people in her life.

“I’m glad my parents got out safely and I really have appreciated everyone who’s reached out to me and my family,” she said.

Catie Kovelman, a Chapman student who is also from Bell Canyon was evacuated from her family home. The fire started when her dad was home alone with a bad back. Kovelman  was not able to get to her house because the 101 freeway was closed.

View of the LA fire. Photo by Catie Kovelman.

Her dad evacuated to friends’ homes but those neighbors, too,  were forced to evacuate as the fire galloped closer and closer, , according to Kovelman. He ended up coming to stay with her at her house in Orange.

“[The fire] burned a lot of my street and right through the backyard up to my house, but my house is still standing. We have a decent amount of damage, but we are standing,” said Kovelman, the senior creative producing major and journalism minor.

Her neighbors, she says, are dealing with the effects on their houses and the insurance hassles that accompany claims.

Catie Kovelman’s father driving away from the LA fire as he was evacuated. Photo courtesy of Catie Kovelman.

“Insurance has been big lately everyone is just trying to get their inspector there and their money set up,” Kovelman said.

She plans on returning home for the holidays.

“I feel like the holidays are bitter sweet. I’m so grateful I have a house, but I feel bad for the 30+ neighbors who lost their homes,” Kovelman said, “My community is so burned, and the park went down too, so it’s weird [to be home].”

She says she is feeling lucky to have her home still standing. But is more thankful for the people in her life.

“I’m honestly just grateful I had a house to come home to for the holidays. I didn’t realize how much I valued the traditions that would’ve been lost this year with no house to do them in. But honestly, my family and dogs were safe, and that’s what matters. Stuff can be replaced but they can’t,” Kovelman said.