Drugs, district attorney’s and the dark web: Rahul Gupta and “mystery man” address dangers of the dark web.

Rahul Gupta speaking in Argyros Forum Student Union, “Johnny” spoke from behind the white screen next to him. Photo by Mari Lundin

Chapman brought a special guest speaker to the Argyros Student Union Stage yesterday – a nameless drug smuggler whose face and body were obscured as he detailed ordering molly and other drugs off the dark web for eventual sale.

“Even though Johnny wasn’t on the street corner we still found him, we still arrested him, we still convicted him,” said Rahul Gupta, an Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney.

Gupta warned an audience of students, concerned parents, and staff members about the false sense of security many students have when ordering drugs off the dark web, believing their transactions to be anonymous and undetectable. His presentation also included warnings about buying cryptocurrencies on the dark web – a practice that is not illegal, but fraught with consumer risk.

“Johnny,” a self-described former finance professional and college graduate from Orange County, spoke from behind a jerry-rigged white screen. His hidden, disembodied voice told the audience how he lost money in risky cryptocurrency investments and wound up arrested for smuggling drugs he ordered over the “dark web,” a shadow internet that allows people to conduct transactions anonymously.

The dark web is data that resides on the internet but requires a special browser to access, such as Tor. Using Tor protects user anonymity and shields IP addresses so web behavior – and web users – can’t be tracked. Because of these shields, Tor is not only popular with investigative journalists who want to protect confidential sources but criminals who wish to escape detection for dealing anything from Ecstasy to child pornography.

While Gupta did not reveal the sentence Johnny received, he acknowledged “consideration” was extended in exchange for Johnny’s willingness to speak in public about his experience.

Johnny said he smoked weed and occasionally did molly and cocaine, but never considered dealing until stumbling on the dark web and concluding it would be easy to purchase large quantities for profit as an anonymous buyer.

His first flirtation was cryptocurrency. He withdrew money from his 401K to invest in cryptocurrency, expecting a fast profit. Instead, his investments tanked, and he turned to drug dealing.

“I went into a side hustle, I wanted to make big money, I wanted to live large,” Johnny said.

He started by ordering and distributing 50 ecstasy pills. That led to thousands more. Soon, he was spending five to six thousand dollars on a single drug order.

“[The expectation of making easy money] can be very enticing,” Gupta said. “It’s a lure when you’re on social media to want to live the fast life, and this is the hard way to make an easy living.”

The prime customers for narcotics imported through the dark web are college-aged students and a majority of people who sell them are around the same age, according to Gupta.

Undercover agents are on the dark web monitoring dealers and engaging transactions with the intention of making busts. Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash.

“This is a relatively new phenomenon that is sweeping not only Orange County but the United States and it’s tremendously affecting young people,” Gupta said.

And it’s abetted by visual social media platforms that motivate young people to desire more materialistic things, Gupta said.

[Dealing] is like [when] you watch those movies where it’s all glamorous at the beginning,” Johnny said. “Then at the end, it’s the mug shot. All the flashing lights and [his fancy life] just ended.”

Before his arrest, Johnny lost around $12,000 in cryptocurrency to scammers who promised to send him drugs but vanished into the recesses of the dark web after he paid them.

“If you’re going to venture onto the dark web, just be aware of what the risks are out there,” Gupta said. “If you think ‘hey I can remain anonymous and maybe I can engage in something illegal, maybe I won’t get caught,’ just know that people do get caught.”

“Nobody thinks they’ll get caught,” Johnny said. “But in the back of my head, I knew I was playing Russian Roulette.”

Johnny’s package was flagged by Customs and Border Protection. When he went to pick it up from the post office law enforcement was waiting for him.

Undercover agents are on the dark web monitoring dealers and engaging transactions with the intention of making busts, Gupta said. And illegal drug orders are regularly intercepted by  U.S. Customs. The lure of dark web drugs “is ruining a lot of lives,” Gupta said. “Both in terms of the people who consume the product and those who are selling the product that get caught.”

Gupta also addressed the risky nature of cryptocurrency investments.

The rising use of cryptocurrency may make financial transactions untraceable – it’s why crypto coins are the currency in ransomware attacks – but that also means consumers are unlikely to recover any money they lose in deals gone bad, Gupta said.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can be bought at Crypto ATMs, on the regular web, and at in-person exchanges. There are over 1800 types of cryptocurrencies to choose from, including Ethereum, ZCash, and Monero, Gupta said.

“Cryptocurrency is a whole new area in financial services and none of them, not a single one of these 1800, is backed by any type of government entity or any type of bank,” Gupta explained. “It’s just a risk you need to be aware of.”

Because there’s no central system backing up these currencies, their value fluctuates constantly, and they’re not insured. Yet, more retailers and merchants are beginning to accept bitcoin. In Orange County, a Tesla can be bought with enough Bitcoin, according to Gupta.

Cryptocurrency isn’t tangible but can be stored on phones, paper, and electronic thumb drives. But codes can be stolen, and with them, cryptocurrency.

“Cryptocurrency is legal, using the dark web is legal,” Gupta said. “There are some risks involved when you venture into these new areas of technology.”

Physical threats are also arising, like robberies of people for their cryptocurrencies during set up exchanges, ransomware, and blackmail.

15 Fantastic Films You Can Find at the Leatherby Libraries

Many students may not know this, but deep within the shelves on the third floor of the Leatherby Libraries is home to a true gold mine of movies. Here’s a list of 15 films worth checking out that you can’t find on services like Netflix or Hulu, but can easily access through our school library.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Starting off with Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey– it can be a hard sell to any casual movie watcher. It’s three hours long and may not have as high energy as the countless other science fiction films that it inspired. That being said, 2001 the equivalent to “cinematic vegetables” for any film lover, it’s sort of a required viewing. If you ever have three hours free on a weekend, find the biggest screen you can, and prepare to go on a journey unlike any other with this cinematic masterpiece.

The Big Lebowski

The Leatherby Libraries is home to many Coen brothers films that are all worth watching, but one stands out from the rest as their best work yet. The Big Lebowski is one of those rare films that gets better and better upon each rewatch. Weren’t a fan the first time? Give it another shot, and if you have never seen this film before, college is the perfect time to be introduced to Jeff Bridge’s career defining role as the Dude.

Big Trouble in Little China

A vastly underrated cult classic from the mind behind Halloween and The Thing, John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China is an absolute blast to watch. Taking inspiration from the great kung-fu Chinese blockbusters, Big Trouble in Little China centers around the iconic Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) as he slings one-liners and “shakes the pillars of heaven” in Chinatown, San Francisco. The film’s not all spectacle and amazing fight choreography, Carpenter also presents a satirical yet thoughtful commentary on the ‘white savior’ protagonist that plagued, and arguably still plague, films like these, which makes the film all the more enjoyable.

Creed

Before director Ryan Coogler dominated pop culture with the hit Black Panther, he directed one of the greatest installments in the Rocky saga, Creed. Better bring some tissues to this one, because Creed will make you cry, but it will also make you cheer. Got an exam or a project coming up that you don’t feel confident about? Watch this film and you’ll be ready to take on the world! It’d also be appropriate to watch this film before the Adonis Creed returns to the ring this Thanksgiving in Creed II.

Detour

When discussing great noir films, Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour isn’t brought up as much as it should be. A nightclub pianist hitchhikes his way from New York to Los Angeles. One day, he accepts a ride from a gambler, but then the driver unexpectedly dies. From beginning to end, Detour is boiling with enough tension and suspense to keep you engaged. The film is a tight 67 minutes, so it never bores you by drawing out the mystery.

Dracula

Halloween’s just around the corner and why not celebrate by watching something old school… really old school. Tod Browning’s Dracula is one of the few of Universal’s early monster movies that still hold up today thanks to its eerie tone and its excess of gothic aesthetics. This film shaped the image of Count Dracula in pop culture today, so it’s a must watch for any vampire fanatic!

Godzilla (Gojira)

Everyone knows the king of the monsters, but not many have experienced his very first foray on Tokyo. Ishirô Honda’s 1954 classic is a unique film that can be both entertaining to watch with friends. You can have fun watching a dude in a rubber suit kick through a miniature city, or it can be viewed through the lense of the film being an allegory of the nuclear bombs being dropped in Japan, which makes the experience a whole lot deeper.

Howard the Duck

The Leatherby Libraries may offer some of the greatest films to ever hit the silver screen, but it also contains a few of its worst. Why would anyone recommend the George Lucas (yes, that’s right, that George Lucas) produced Howard the Duck then, you may ask? Well, Howard the Duck is a special case where The film goes through so many levels of horrible, it’s actually quite entertaining to watch. It’s really telling of how that director Willard Huyck has never directed a film since Howard the Duck. He knew he could never top this. Grab some friends and really make a night of of this film by questioning how something like this could’ve been made.

Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Listen, a Wes Anderson film was bound to make it onto this list, have you ever met a Dodge student? Out of all of Anderson’s films in the library, Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is the film worth checking out, not only because it’s one of his best, but also because it works as a great introduction to Wes Anderson style for those who have never seen one of his films before. Anderson’s stylization in an aquatic setting along with the heart and humor from its large cast of characters leads to really charming film. Bill Murray gives one of his best performances as Steve Zissou, who’s essentially Jacques Cousteau, but a lot more emotionally messed up. If this film doesn’t make you want to go out and explore and celebrate life, then who knows what will.

Lost in Translation

That’s right, back to back Bill Murray. Life Aquatic was one of Bill Murray’s best performances, but Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation takes the cake as Bill Murray’s greatest yet. Sofia Coppola paints such an atmospheric picture of Tokyo in this film, really making it a character of its own. How can a city so busy have so much loneliness? How can a relationship so subtle and underplayed feel so romantic? The film may be too methodically paced for some, but if you’re willing to be patient with it, Lost in Translation will reveal its beauty.

The Master

If there’s one word to describe Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, it’s hypnotic. While the film doesn’t name drop the cult itself, it’s about Scientology. Now this film is in no shape or form in support of the church, but more of character study and a twisted deconstruction of the human consciousness and the desire to be the greatest one can be. Joaquin Phoenix is at his all time best in this film- if you want to get a glimpse of the levels of madness he can reach before you watch his performance as the Joker next year, you should definitely give this film a watch. If you like strange yet thought provoking movies, then this will be right up your alley.

Mon Oncle

Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle is just a delight, there’s nothing else to it. Don’t let that fact that it’s a French film scare you away, because there’s close to no dialogue. It spends more time letting the viewer have fun with the eccentric characters and physical gags, and less so on reading the subtitles. The film is simple yet imaginative, and so wholesome in its comedy. If rainy days ever existed in Southern California, then this film would be a perfect watch during one.

Planet of the Apes

A landmark in science fiction cinema, Franklin J. Schaffner’s Planet of the Apes presents the ultimate “what if” and is the perfect film to watch or revisit in a post Black Mirror culture. While there are some cheesy situations, the film presents an impressive commentary on the relationship between religion and politics. It deconstructs the power of organized religion and the patriarchy in society and  it can lead to ignorance of those who refuse to see, hear, or speak the truth. Pretty clever, huh? Yeah, bet you didn’t think you’d get that out of a movie with a bunch of gorillas riding horses!

Singin’ in the Rain

Everyone knows this one, but Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain had to be included purely because, as shocking as it is, it’s nowhere to be found on any big streaming service! Thankfully the Leatherby Libraries’ got you covered when it comes to the best musicals. Honestly, what hasn’t been said about this film? The music is so catchy and timeless, and the choreography is spellbinding. If you haven’t seen this classic yet, head to the library as soon as you can to check it out!

Yojimbo

Almost everything you’ve seen in popular cinema has been inspired by Akira Kurosawa, he’s one of the most influential directors when it comes to telling a grand story. All of Kurosawa’s samurai films are worth checking out since the Leatherby Libraries owns his entire filmography, but Yojimbo is the perfect first step into his feudal Japan epics. Yojimbo is not nearly as long as some of his other films, but it still carries the same amount of style and gravitas in its drama. If you’ve seen any western out of the 1960s and 70s, or even films like Star Wars, you’ll notice various aspects come from films like Yojimbo.

Still not sold? No worries, these are just a handful of the amazing films you can easily get access to at the Leatherby Libraries! If you ever have some time on your hands, explore all that they have to offer and you may just find a cinematic gem of your own. Have fun watching!

STD stats continue to spike – and with deadly consequences

The Chapman Student Health center offers free condoms to help students make safer sex choices. Photo courtesy of Karina Cardenas.

Despite a stunning rise in sexually transmitted diseases, many Chapman students are not taking the necessary precautions to prevent them.

The California Department of Public Health announced this year that the state was grappling with a roaring STD epidemic, with people less than 25 years old contracting 54 percent of all new chlamydia infections and 33 percent of all new gonorrhea cases. Syphilis had skyrocketed, with a 600 percent jump in the number of women diagnosed with the disease between 2012 and 2017.

One in four adolescent females has an STD, such as chlamydia or human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes genital warts, and, in some cases, various cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yet, most Chapman students discount their risk.

“I usually wear condoms. Sometimes in the spur of the moment, I forget,” said J.L, a senior business major, who asked that only his initials be used for privacy reasons. “I haven’t gotten tested since last year.”

“I’ve honestly never gotten an STD check,” said Lieu Madayag, a sophomore political science major, Madayag said this is because she has only had sex with one person, whom she trusts and has been with for two years.

A., a senior psychology major with HPV, said she has no idea how she contracted the virus.

One in four adolescent females has an STD, such as chlamydia or human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes genital warts, and, in some cases, various cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Photo courtesy of Karina Cardenas.

“[I didn’t always use a condom] my sophomore year, which now haunts me because I have to take medicine still to this day, two years later,” said A, who prefers to go by her first initial for privacy reasons. While HPV is usually burned or frozen off, A said she uses a gel for whenever her genital warts reappear.

While men also face risks, women have the potential to wind up with pelvic inflammatory disease, fertility problems, and may even be at a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy, according to the CDC.

Their children may also face risks.

Last year, there were 283 congenital syphilis cases, including 30 stillbirths, in California, an increase of 32 percent over 2016, according to the CDPH.

Chapman Health Center Director Jacqueline Deats estimates the Center receives about 600 inquiries a year about STD screenings. She declined to release statistics concerning test results.

Each student following up with an examination will shell out roughly $50 for the test, but the price may rise, depending on the type and number of tests administered.

The Health Center offers a four-panel screening for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and HIV. Once a student receives a positive diagnosis, the process is far less cut and dried.

The health center will offer medication and services for less serious infections, but more serious cases are referred to specialists or third-party practices, Deats explained.

New mutated strains of gonorrhea, resistant to antibiotics or mainstream medications, are a special concern, as they can prove deadly, noted Deats.  

Yet, some students continue to see STDs as no big deal.

“I make sure who I sleep with is clean, I ask them and trust them. If I got an STD, I’d be fine, it’s not the end of the world [because] there is medicine,” said Adam, a senior broadcast major, who prefers to go by his first name only.

A 2016 study revealed 42 percent of 3,953 adolescents and young adults who had sex and did not get tested assumed they were not at risk for an infection according to the Journal of Adolescent Health.  

Dani Smith, Director of P.E.E.R. (Proactive Education Encouraging Responsibility) and Health Education at Chapman, said a feeling of invincibility is common in young people.

“This feeling or thought that nothing will happen to them,  or that they are somehow immune, is one of the reasons why college students engage in high-risk behaviors,” Smith said.

A. found out the hard way she was not invincible.

I know HPV doesn’t define me as a person,” she acknowledged, “but it completely destroyed me.”

The 10 Stages of Parking at Chapman

Stage 1: “How did I get to campus so fast? Maybe I will have enough time to get Starbucks before class.”

Stage 2: “Oh there’s a spot… UGH stupid motorcycle!”

Stage 3: “They would add 20 reserved spots for guests….technically I am a guest right?”

 

Stage 4: “WHY do people think it is okay to drive 80 mph in a parking garage?!”

 

Stage 5: “Yes please, walk slower. I don’t have to get to class or anything.”

 

Stage 6: “YES I found one” *someone steals it*

 

Stage 7: “I’ll just wait here and stalk someone walking to their car”

 

Stage 8: “I’ve been driving in circles for 20 minutes”

 

Stage 9: “Screw it I am parking illegally”

Stage 10: “I give up, I am parking in Dodge/Narnia and walking”

 

What’s Your Hydro-Identity?

The trend of the Hydro Flask on Chapman’s campus is beyond the bottle itself. Is the fad revolved around staying hydrated and saving the environment? Or is it all about representing one’s identity through decorations like stickers?

We found six panthers who shared their Hydro-identity through talking about their trendy reusable bottles and sticker designs.

Photo by Lily Currin

Samantha Jabour, sophomore communication studies major

“I bought a Hydro Flask because it was on sale, and the sticker designs effectively describe what I’m all about. My favorite sticker is ‘Why be racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic, when you can just be quiet?’ because it is my philosophy.  Most of my stickers my roommate actually designed for me,” she said.

 

Photo by Lily Currin

Luke Edwards, sophomore communication studies major.

“I think my sticker designs could be described as nerdy – like how I want to be Batman and have all the cool gadgets, or how I’m a Star Wars fan because one of the characters in the movies shares my name. It really matches me, especially this [displayed] sticker because it shows that I hope to be in a career revolving around social justice,” he said.

 

Photo by Lily Currin

Ally Haase, junior biological sciences major.

“I got my Hydro Flask because I was told to get a durable water bottle when I was on a mission trip in Mexico building houses. My stickers are all pretty random, but I think my Hydro is a big conversation starter, for example fellow science majors are drawn to my big periodic table,” she said.

Photo by Lily Currin

Natalie Neffner, junior psychology major.

“I think I’ve had about two or three Hydro Flasks given to me as gifts. I feel like people that have them are outdoorsy and like exercising. My stickers show that I love the outdoors and swimming,” she said.

 

Photo by Julianna Franco

Kameron Graylee, sophomore undeclared major.

“I only have one sticker because the Angels are my favorite team. They have my full support. I originally bought a cheap sticker from Walmart but it didn’t even come with a sticky side. So I had to buy a couple from Amazon instead,” he said.

Photo by Julianna Franco

Hunter Jowell, sophomore political science, peace studies, and Spanish triple major.

“I only put these stickers on because my friend bought them for me. I drop my Hydro a lot, and every time I feel really bad so I just try covering up the dents with more stickers,” he said.

 

 

YouTuber Megan Umansky brings Chapman living to her fans

Megan Umansky, a sophomore creative producing major, has more than 86,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel, “Megs Umansky.” Umansky created her YouTube channel in 2011 and has been continuously evolving her content ever since. Beginning with simple clothing hauls, and month favorites, Umansky now creates videos about college, fashion, food, travel and beauty routines designed to appeal to other young women. Her most-watched video, a room tour from 2016, received over one million views. Her second most popular video, a Chapman move-in vlog, garnered more than 100,000 views.

Prowl talked with Umansky about the work of running a YouTube channel: brands and sponsorships, advertisements, making money and how the changing rules of YouTube have affected her channel.

 

Q: What are the benefits and the downsides of having sponsors and a large following on social media platforms?

A: You are offered a lot free stuff. You are also given the opportunity to work with different brands, such as Peet’s Coffee, Re/done Denim, Bondi Self Tanning, Sugar High Shop, Burga cases, Cocofloss, and Zaful. From Peet’s Coffee, I received free coffee, free jeans and t-shirts from Re/done Denim, tanning products from Bondi Self Tanner, clothes from Sugar High Shop, phone cases from Burga cases, floss and goodies from Cocofloss and swimsuits from Zaful. It’s really fun seeing what these brands are passionate about and see what you have in common with them. You also get to talk to all the people and different businesses. It has been a learning experience for sure.

The downsides … sometimes companies don’t give enough control over what you’re doing.  A lot of brands have specific guidelines and rules. Some of the rules are that the brand must be mentioned in the first two minutes, it must be talked about for at least a minute or more, you can’t mention any brands before that brand, things like that. Almost all brands request this especially when there is money involved. And if I don’t want to go with their rules or if I want to do something different, it’s sometimes hard to work it out. But usually they are very negotiable, but some [brands] have stricter rules than others.

Umansky explaining in a video, “MY 1ST SEMESTER AT CHAPMAN,” about her experiences freshman year. Photo courtesy of Megan Umansky.

 

Q: Do you make most of your money from product placements or advertisements?

A: A lot of money does come from product placements and sponsorships, but I won’t put just anything in my videos. I get dozens of emails each week offering me free products or compensation for a dedicated video or mention. Most of the emails I delete are because it’s not anything I am truly interested in. If I do like the product or know the brand, I will respond and the brand and I will work together on making a fair deal for both of us. Advertisements on my videos also make money. It’s all about the number of views and watch time people spend on my videos.

 

Q: In relation to monthly income, how does making money on YouTube compare to having a conventional job?

A: I want to clarify that yes, making money from my videos is nice, but it’s not why I do it. I started my channel at 11 years old just for fun and, to this day, it’s still fun. YouTube money has its ups and downs. It’s similar to a job as in, if I don’t put any new content up for a month, my revenue is going to decrease. If I post a video every day, I will make more money. If you go to work every day of the week, you’re going to make more money than if you only went one day of the week.   

Umansky films a day in her life at Chapman on the first day of school. Photo courtesy of Megan Umansky.

 
       

Q: Has your business been affected by YouTube’s changing rules concerning demonetization? If so, in what ways?

A: Basically, I just can’t make money off some videos anymore. The entire demonetization thing has affected my videos. I have multiple videos that have been demonetized because of the new “YouTube rules.” It’s annoying because some of those videos [that were demonetized] are still viewed and doing well, but I can’t make money off of them anymore. Songs get my videos demonetized all the time. I have to make sure they’re under 30 seconds if they’re not copyright free. If they’re copyright free, I can use them. Also, I have had them demonetize videos that have nothing wrong, and I just request for review and it will usually get monetized again.

 

Q: How do you plan to stay relevant and watched given the changing YouTube and social media climate?

A: What’s seen as relevant is always changing, and I think my content will always be changing as I change and grow as a person. I plan to do my thing, and if people like it, that’s awesome and more of a motivator to keep making content.

 

Q: What future do you see for your YouTube channel?

A: Everything is really confusing. Basically, if a channel can’t grow their subscribers to over 1,000 subscribers, with 4,000 hours of view time, they can’t monetize their videos and make money. This doesn’t [affect] me but it’s hurting a lot of small YouTubers with great content,  which sucks. . . . Many people are saying that influencers are starting to die down. I don’t exactly see that, because I look up to so many people and see how passionate they are through their content. Hopefully people will see the same in mine. And I hope to come up with a specific and positive message to share and become a good example.

Q: What do you anticipate your biggest challenges will be in the future? Do you plan on continuing your YouTube career after you graduate?

A: I have no plans to stop making videos. It’s my passion and it makes me happy. My biggest challenge is finding my niche. I have been making videos for a while and am just now starting to try and figure out where I fit in in the YouTube community.

 

Q: What is the key to a successful YouTube channel?

A: You have to enjoy it. You can’t be in it for the money or fame. You have to want to do it because if you’re not enjoying it people are not going to enjoy your content as well. Be passionate.

Umansky and her friends give candid advice for being at a university in her “COLLEGE ADVICE from my bffs” video. Photo courtesy of Megan Umansky.

 

Q: What advice would you give to new YouTubers who are hoping to gain sponsors or exposure?

A: I have rarely ever reached out to brands for a sponsorship. They usually send me emails or Instagram direct messages and I choose to reply based on if I want to collaborate with them or not. But, if you are reaching out to bigger brands, be honest about why you want to collaborate, what you can do for them, and have really good communication with the brand, so nothing goes wrong. And again, it’s about loving what you’re doing and being passionate. If people see the passion in you, they are going to want you to represent their brand and products. Grind out the videos, put a lot of effort and time into them.

The Panther Post-It Project

Since the start of the school year, there has been an outbreak of Sticky Note art on the windows of the Chapman dorms. From Vine references to memes, these Sticky Note pieces give these buildings lots of personality. 

Photo by Mitchell Melby

One of the most eye-catching windows contains the abbreviation “Road work ahead?” The creator of this is likely a big fan of the referenced Vine, but doesn’t seem to be a huge fan of vowels.

Photo by Mitchell Melby

This piece of Sticky Note artwork is another reference to a classic Vine. The window once again proved too small to allow the full words to be spelled out, so one “s” would have to do.

Photo by Mitchell Melby

This may be the simplest looking of all of the window art pieces, and also leaves the most room for interpretation. Maybe this student is happy,  or maybe they just had a limited amount of Sticky Notes.

We were able to get ahold of the artists behind the next two windows for interviews.

Photo by Mitchell Melby

The first interview we conducted was with the artist behind this masterpiece, freshman business major Lianna Chen. Here are her thoughts on why she decided to reference this particular Vine.

https://youtu.be/c8qEnHoKlP0

Here is the Vine that she is referring to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oz5cROtMKcM

Photo by Mitchell Melby

Our next interview was with the two roommates behind this window design, freshmen business majors Brieana Bernal and Naina Sah. These two were also eager to be interviewed, in subpar lighting. 

https://youtu.be/Cw8Z7BY1VYs

Here is the Vine that was referenced: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du-TY1GUFGk

 

 

The Cult of Struppa

Chapman University President Daniele Struppa is becoming the new “Pete the Panther.”

 

Chapman students have taken to wearing his image on their hats and shirts, pasting stickers of his face on their water bottles, getting posters of him for their houses, and even getting tattoos of his face. This behavior shows that a new trend is on the rise: Struppa, the meme™.

Hank Moss, a senior animation and visual effects major, created a lot of the merchandise that started this trend: “My original goal was simply to break even, so I tried to think of something that all Chapman students love. I eventually came up with Struppa himself, and ‘Stroops’ was born!”

 

Many wonder how Moss was able to design products that have already grossed a whole $200.  “I designed the stickers by drawing Struppa out in my sketchbook and then recreating it digitally. Then I sent off the design to an online sticker company that printed the stickers- and same thing with the patches. I iron the patches onto various clothing items which I also buy in bulk online” Moss said.

 

Struppa was amused to discover his image has become a Chapman meme.

 

Lol! Maybe I should get a percentage of their profits!!! Just kidding, of course. I am flattered that students would feel comfortable and affectionate enough to do this,” Struppa said in an email to Prowl.

In addition to wearables, students pay tribute to Struppa by hanging his image in their homes.

Sam Jones, a sophomore strategic and corporate communications major, keeps a poster of Struppa hanging in her apartment.

“I think for me and my roommates, [the meme] started because the name is kind of catchy. Then my roommate found that poster, and then we all got the stickers, and it kind of just grew.”

Christian Whittemore, a junior film production major, uses Struppa’s image to advertise his annual four-hour film festival, which was held this year on September 22 at Chapman’s Attallah Piazza. Whittemore views Struppa as a jolly authority figure who is totes meme-worthy.

 

 

The college president is not only “funny and relatable” but “an ‘in’ joke for everyone at Chapman,” Whittemore explained.

Steve Murvin, a junior finance and data analytics double major, went a step further to immortalize his college president: He got a tattoo of Struppa’s face on his thigh.. “I honor my bets and that’s what I tell people when they ask me about it- I got the tattoo because I lost a game of odds (the odds were one to five)… The bet happened at a residence life event that Struppa was at.”

 

 

“I suspect (Murvin) will eventually have to explain to a girlfriend what the picture of a bearded man is doing on his thigh,” Struppa wrote in his email to Prowl, adding, “That should be an interesting conversation. I wish I could be a fly on the wall when that happens.”

“It has not come up with romantic partners at all.  At least not as of yet,” said Murvin.

Chapman monitors students’ social media posts

To prevent shootings and intercept danger at Chapman, Public Safety has taken their security into the cyber realm.
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash.

Chapman’s Public Safety isn’t just patrolling the campus: it has also hired a company to patrol your Twitter account.

“The company we use for the social media alerts is Social Sentinel,” said Chief of Public Safety Randy A. Burba; he declined to say how much Chapman pays for the service annually.

Social Sentinel analyzes public posts on and around campuses searching for “language of harm,” according to its website. Phrases such as “Suicide, school shooting, overdose, kill, I want to end it all” are on their radar, according to Burba

“There have been a couple of instances where action was taken. Mostly just akin to a referral to check in and make sure everything is ok,” Burba said. “There has not been anything that required any type of emergency public safety response.”

Social Sentinel did not respond to eight phone calls or four emails when asked the average amount for the service as well as what phrases they look for in social media posts.

With more than 35 school shootings having taken place across the U.S. this year, campus administrators are seeking ways to avoid disasters. At least 100 colleges and universities have hired outside firms to police social media accounts, according to the New York Times.

“The question after every tragedy is why did it happen; is there more we can do?”  Burba said.

Schools have recognized students’ frequent use of social media platforms and are using them as an open door to expand the parameters of campus security. Following the sequence of school shootings, faculty and staff members at multiple universities are shifting their focus to activity on various media platforms.

By hiring private companies like Social Sentinel to look for any alarming online activity, public safety can pay closer attention to students in hopes of preventing a tragedy on campus.

“Over time, we looked at the viability of these types of services and have been utilizing one of them for a couple of years,” said Burba.  “It’s essentially the same thing as setting up a Google alert for the internet.”

The monitoring is not meant to be invasive to student privacy, Burba said but is intended to intercept any individual who could prove a threat to those on campus.

“We have no interest in looking into private things like emails. People have control over their privacy settings at all times,” Burba said.

“Our system pretty much only looks at public Twitter feeds. Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram are not part of the current program, that I am aware of,” Burba said.

With the goal of trying to detect campus-wide danger indicated through social media posts, it seems limiting to only monitor Twitter. Social Sentinel is looking to add more platforms to its system, Burba said.

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash.

Some students feel unsettled to learn that Chapman is actively observing their public posts. What exactly is Big Brother watching?

“Students use social media as a form of expression. Monitoring students on something they use as an outlet to connect with people would probably cause people to be more up in arms,” said Ian Simmons, sophomore broadcast journalism and documentary major.

“It’s misleading to say student monitoring because it doesn’t monitor any specific person or set of persons, it just searches publicly available posts for keywords,” Burba said.  “If someone who is not a student posted something about shooting up the campus, it would be good to be alerted to that.”

Others endorse Chapman’s practice of using keywords on social media, believing it helps to maximize safety.

“I understand how students may see this as an invasion of privacy to some degree,” Josh Simkovitz said, a freshman economics major, who added he didn’t have a problem with social media monitoring companies.

Students are concerned that perpetrators will alter the content of their posts to mislead monitors, leaving campus safety without and leads.

“I do not think this is a smart or efficient way for Chapman or any university to handle this issue,” Simmons said.  “It could make people with mental illness or instability even more cautious and paranoid.”

Despite what students may think, Chapman will continue to put additional effort into ensuring a safe atmosphere for students. Burba insists that an instance may arise where a post will allow them to act early and not compromise student’s safety.

“See something say something is the biggest component,” Burba said.  “In almost all cases of self-harm or harm to others, there are signs.”

Schools Out, Pets Out: Students are dumping their pets at the end of the semester.

Students vacating campus for the summer are leaving behind more than just their school work.

Chester, an abandoned Pit bull, has been at OC Animal Care since April.

When the school year is over, students returning home or moving after graduation often find themselves stuck on what to do with their animals. While some find new owners for their pets, others are depositing them at animal shelters or even dumping them on the streets.

According to Brittany Hayes, the director of OC Animal Care’s community outreach program, there is a correlation between the time students leave school in May and the number of shelter intakes in college towns.  

In May 2017, there were 1,653 intakes compared to 896 intakes in November 2017.  But that increase may not be entirely due to students leaving: Spring is also the peak mating season for cats, leading to an increase in stray kittens, said OC Animal Care field worker Amy Hernandez.

Nonetheless, there are students who find themselves unable to take the pets they brought with them to Chapman or took in while here to their next destination.

Chapman alumna Dana Lujack took responsibility for finding a home for her friend’s cat, Captain after he was abandoned in Orange over the summer while his owner went home to Portola Valley.

“It’s always a risk taking an animal to the shelter,” Lujack said. “But I didn’t have another option, he was just bouncing around the neighborhood.”

Lujack said she didn’t want to take the cat to Orange County Animal Shelter because it’s a kill shelter and costs money to surrender a pet. In 2017, there were 3,594 shelter euthanasias according to OC Animal Care’s statistics.

Even when students try to hand off their pets to shelters, they encounter obstacles involving animal health, residency, expenses and refusal for other reasons.

When Lujack couldn’t find another home for Captain, she tried to relinquish him to OC Animal Shelter and was turned down because it was at max capacity and because she wasn’t an Orange County resident.

Lujack ran into the same issues at four other shelters.

Miley, an abandoned Pit bull mix, is one of 59 dogs waiting to be adopted at OC Animal Care.

A lot of rescue organizations and animal shelters such as OC Animal Care, require proof of residency to take in animals, limiting the options of Chapman students who rent houses and live in dorms.

The shelter has strict guidelines for accepting animals, according to OC Animal Care field worker Amy Hernandez. The shelter can’t be at max capacity, there must be proof of residency and the animal must be healthy and considered adoptable. There’s also a surrender fee which increased from $81 to $306 on September 1.

“People will do whatever they can to get around paying,” Hernandez said. “I can only imagine the amount of students who give up their pets because of financial issues, they’re not going to [want to] pay these fees.”

These restraints reduce the options for students who are unable to take care of their animals while they’re gone for the summer or if they move away after graduation.

When students are unable to find a new home for their pet or can’t relinquish it to a shelter, they sometimes abandon them on the streets with the assumption that the animal will be picked up by the authorities and end up in a shelter anyways, said Hayes.

Kimara Velez, a junior public relations and advertising major, adopted two pet bunnies, Molly and Bambi, with her roommate freshman year.

After a couple weeks of keeping the rabbits in their dorm room in South Morlan, Velez opened the bright green door to find Molly dead, cause unknown. Bambi was getting too big to keep in a dorm room, so Velez set him loose in the Morlan courtyard.  

Maggie, a relinquished chow-lab mix, is one of 30,000 animals taken in at OC Animal Care in the past year.

“We couldn’t take care of them,” Velez said. “Bambi was better off on his own.”

Other students turn to friends and family to take in the pets they can’t take with them.

Sienna Newton, a junior strategic and corporate communications and psychology major, bought a six-week-old Pomeranian, Casper, the second semester of her freshman year.

“I liked the idea of having a dog, but I didn’t realize how big of a responsibility it would be,” Newton said.

By finals week, Newton realized she couldn’t take Casper back to her home in London with her for the summer, so she decided to leave him with a family friend in Los Angeles. She never picked up Casper again.

“Students need to consider if it’s the best time in their life to have a pet right now,” Hayes said. “A pet is a lifelong commitment, not a semester-long one.”

The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) urges students who can’t make the commitment to look into volunteer opportunities at local shelters and rescue groups or find jobs pet sitting and dog walking.