Feb. 17-18: LGBTQ+ Symposium brings inclusivity to campus
The University of Miami is hosting a two-day human rights symposium that will focus on inclusivity and human rights issues within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and intersex community.
The first-ever 4WARD Americas LGBTI Human Rights Symposium will take place Sunday, Feb. 17 and Monday, Feb. 18 at the Newman Alumni Center.
Gisela Vega, UM’s new LGBTQ Student Center director, has encouraged the UM community to attend the free event.
“This symposium is in line with the UM president’s mission to become a hemispheric hub for the world,” Vega said. “I have only been here for a month, and I would love to work to get more students engaged in events like this.”
4WARD Miami, which was founded in 2015 to promote civil rights for members of the LGBTQ+ community, created the symposium to connect communities through education and advocacy. It also seeks to create national collaborations through networking.
Vega said she hopes the “event will allow our school to make a difference not only locally but globally.”
The symposium, which begins Sunday, includes speakers and participants from throughout Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada. Speakers and panelists represent leaders in government, business, education, LGBTQ advocacy and research.
United Nations Human Rights Officer Fabrice Houdart will deliver the keynote address, titled “The Role of Business in Confronting the Backlash Against Human Rights of #LGBTI People.” Houdart works on the Free & Equal campaign, a UN global public education campaign for LGBTQ equality.
Jessica Ashley Osborn, an administrative assistant at UM’s LGBTQ center, will moderate a panel that focuses on the sports industry.
Osborn said she plans to ask panelists about their experiences in the sports industry as someone who identifies as queer, a person of color or an ally of the LGBTQ+ community. She said she hopes to increase awareness of injustices in the sports industry.
“This will not just be hitting a like on Facebook,” Osborn said. “This is about actually educating people, meeting together, and starting those important conversations.”
To register for the symposium, visit https://4wardamericaslgbt.org.
— Alexis Hurwitz
Feb. 9: Intramural supervisors keep football orderly
The field lights were bright Saturday night as rival residential colleges played flag football on the intramural fields. The teams competed to earn points for their residential college’s overall tally in SportsFest.
The “Pearson Magikarps,” one of the two teams representing Pearson Residential College, claimed the men’s championship title, while the “Eaton Spaghetti” won the as women’s tournament.
With constant cheers from the crowd and choruses of “Let’s go!” ringing in the air, it was successful night for student workers at the Wellness Center.
Monét Bennet, an intramural supervisor in her senior year studying ecosystem science and policy, was running between the Wellness Center and intramural fields all afternoon. As one of the head intramural supervisors, she helps organize SportsFest and strives to maintain smooth, orderly transitions of events throughout the day.
Even among all the chaos and energy, and despite a slight concussion she sustained earlier in the day, Bennet was relaxed.
“It’s been running fairy smoothly compared to years past,” she said. “We have much better staff this year. They’ve helped a ton with preparation.”
Although rain had poured onto the field before the tournament, the crowd’s excitement was rampant. “
The rain hasn’t affected flag football,” Bennet said. “But the field conditions aren’t what we want them to be, so we’re on the lookout for ankle injuries.”
Michael Aaron McCune, a facilities supervisor in his junior year studying quantitative economics, said this was the smoothest SportsFest he’s seen in 3 years.
“Intramural supervisors have done a great job at staying organized,” McCune said. “They’ve been a great help to everyone.”
— William McNeill
Feb. 8: SportsFest starts with a splash
The University of Miami’s annual SportsFest began with a game of battleship between competing residential colleges on Friday afternoon at the Herbert Wellness Center pool.
Unlike the board game, this version of battleship involved three teams, each with three people sitting in canoes, throwing pales of water in an effort to sink their competitors’ boats.
The tournament was divided into two sections, men and women. “Welcome to Chilis,” the men’s team from Pentland floor 11 won the final game of their tournament. Afterwards, the women of McDonald floor 5, known as “The Swamp,” claimed their title as female battleship champions.
The teams who won the finals earned points for their residential college in the overall SportsFest tally.
The men’s tournament began at 4 p.m and the women’s at 4:15 p.m with games interchanging every fifteen minutes until the finals at 9:45 p.m and 10 p.m., respectively.
SportsFest is a time of competition and celebration, it can be overwhelming for intramural supervisors. They’re overseeing nearly every event this year, which means events are held back to back almost all day long, said intramural supervisor Will Sickle.
Despite the chaotic scenes, for some employees at the wellness center, SportsFest brings a little leisure.
“I think it’s great, it’s so much fun,” said lifeguard Juanfelipe Cabrera, a junior studying finance. “It’s not much responsibility as a lifeguard because not many people want to swim in the pool while SportsFest is going on.”
— William McNeill
Jan. 30: Donuts with Duerk
The first idea was “Pizza with the Provost.”
“But donuts rolls off the tongue,” said University of Miami Provost Jeffrey Duerk at his informal greet-and-eat session with students Wednesday, Jan. 30.
“Donuts With Duerk” attracted several students who chatted briefly with the provost and received a Krispy Kreme cane-colored donut.
During the two-hour session, students entered the Citizens Board Suite in the Shalala Student Center, signed in and stood in line for their personal chat with the provost.
Giselle De La Rua, a sophomore neuroscience major, said she came up with a question to ask Duerk while waiting in line.
“I asked him if it would be possible for academic advisers to be available over the summer,” De La Rua said. “I worked here over the summer, and it was a huge issue with admissions because students who have been admitted come to tour the campus and they want to meet with their advisers but the advisers have very tight schedules, so it is hard to send students to them.”
The provost said he would look into her suggestion.
Duerk, who stood while he talked with each student, said he was impressed by students’ “passion about the University of Miami and how much they love it.” Students, he said, “share a commitment with the staff and faculty to improve the university.”
Duerk said he learned one other important fact about students:
“How much they love donuts.”
– Erica Jones
February preview: Black Awareness Month
The University of Miami’s United Black Students organization is offering a month of events and activities in celebration of Black Awareness Month. The festivities begin Friday, Feb. 1, with a family-reunion themed cookout on the Foote Green.
A long revered summer tradition in African-American communities, family reunions serve up barbecue ribs and other soul food favorites. Reunions typically include a card game of spades, as well as a “Soul Train” line and other popular dances.
While Black Awareness Month has an entertainment element, it mostly serves as a recognition and observance of black achievement.
Observed primarily in the United States since 1926, the celebration was started by African-American historian Carter G. Woodson. He selected the second week of February for the remembrance since that week marked the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation and freed African-Americans held in slavery.
The week also recognized the Feb. 14 birthday of Frederick Douglass, a noted orator who became a prominent leader of the 19th century abolitionist movement. The week was extended into a month-long observance in 1976, when it also gained the title Black History Month.
At UM, the UBS sponsors activities each year in a celebration they call Black Awareness Month.
“Some of the events that we chose to accomplish this is with our forums, community service and gatherings that show off our interests,” BAM chair Jory Opara said.
The scheduled events include an open mic night with the Speak What You Feel Poetry Club, the “House of Black Culture,” which will celebrate different cultures from throughout the African diaspora. There will also be a Sunday morning church service.
– Glen Howard
Jan. 27-28: Greek Life New Member Symposium
In an effort to explore and dispel stereotypes about sorority and fraternity members, David Stollman, an alumnus of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, told a joke at the recent Greek Life New Member Symposium to illustrate just how poorly society
views college students involved in Greek life.
“How many sorority girls does it take to screw on a light bulb?” Stollman asked.
“One hundred one,” he said. “One girl to screw it on, and 100 girls to wear a T-shirt showing off the event.”
“The joke was not meant to be funny but rather to challenge the University of Miami’s newest sorority and fraternity members to “buy in” to the true meaning of Greek Life,” said Cristina Luna, dean of the Association of Greek Letters Organization.
“There is much value and benefit in joining a Greek letter organization, and we wanted to prepare our youngest members to understand the standards of excellence set by those who joined before us,” Luna said. The alternative, she said, is “to get out now if you were not committed to living out our values.”
Dispelling stereotypes was not the only focus at the three-hour mandatory symposium, which took place Sunday, Jan. 27 and Monday, Jan. 28, in the Shalala Center. Sponsored by AGLO, the information session reviewed key aspects of Greek
life, including the organizations’ standards, leadership and values. The symposium also emphasized what it means to be a part of the Greek community and taught students the importance of taking pride in their Greek letters.
Freshman Leyla Shapiro, 18, and a new member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, said societal stereotypes about “frat boys” and “sorority girls” is frustrating.
“There is clearly a reason for all these stereotypes, and they keep evolving every year,” said Shapiro, a business major. Shapiro said while stereotypes cannot be abolished, more needs to be done to educate the community about the positive aspects of Greek life.
“Greek Life is more than parties, booze and T-shirts,” Luna said, “This session served as the first commitment to their new journey.”
Ethan Terp, 20, a second-year member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, said he was glad to see that Luna and other members of the administration had come out to support the new members.
“The fact that our Greek administration here on campus hosts this mandatory event shows how proud they are to be UM Greeks and how important it is to maintain a respectable community,” said Terp, a sophomore biomedical engineering major.
Terp said he supports the idea of making the symposium mandatory for new members.
“It is easy to lose sight of the priorities in Greek life, so it is very important that the new members attend this session and learn about what the Greek community truly values,” Terp said.
– Erica Jones
Jan. 28: UM’s College Democrats and Model UN team hosts documentary screening
The University of Miami’s College Democrats in conjunction with the Model United Nations team will be hosting a documentary screening on criminal justice from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 28 in the Storer Auditorium.
“Model United Nations is an organization that strives to research, discuss and debate about complex and pressing issues,” said Kinnon McGrath, president of College Democrats and a member of the Model UN team. “I believe that the movie’s message is an important topic that anyone, regardless of political affiliation, should learn about.”
“Life after Life,” a 2018 film directed by Tamara Perkins, follows the lives of three men in their pursuits after serving time in prison. The documentary highlights controversial issues within the criminal justice system and hones in on possible reforms.
“We hope that by the screening the movie, it will bring attention to our criminal justice system’s policies and practices that contribute toward racial inequality,” said McGrath, a sophomore majoring in international studies. “Our goal is to bring an important and frank issue to campus about the holes plaguing our prison system.”
The event is free and open to the UM community.
Andrea Wright, a senior majoring in marine science and geology, said that as a member of the Model UN team, it encourages students to be aware of social and criminal justice issues and become involved.
“I think it will be a very fun and exciting event, and I’m glad that I have the opportunity to attend,” Wright said. “Moving forward, I feel that more organizations should collaborate like this in order to foster new ideas and perspectives.”
– Esther Animalu