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with Dr. Rachel Pereira and Kira Poplowski

Janel Gist – Assistant News Editor

Dr. Rachel Pereira:

Title IX Coordinator and Affrimative Action/Equal Opportunity Officer

What do you like so far about Drew?

I love the serene aesthetics of the campus. I also love the way so many people have reached out to help me settle into the community. I’ve had a really great opportunity to work with people who are so invested in making sure students have the best learning experience.

What have you done so far?

I started Jan. 5. I am responsible for the coordination of all Title IX and Equal Employment Opportunity complaints, trainings and activities. So far I’ve been handling sexual assault violations. I’ve also been working on a few staff issues. I’ve also been dealing with hiring committees. I’ve also worked with a few professors to increase diversity in the University, especially in the post-Ferguson and post-Charlie Hebdo environment.

Where did you work before Drew?

I am most recently a former assistant district attorney in Philadelphia. Prior to that I was a federal law clerk in the Southern District of New York. Prior to that I served as a teacher, principal and as the confidential assistant to the commissioner of the NJ Department of Education.

What are your thoughts on the nationwide issue of sexual assault on college campuses?

For too long nationwide, we have ignored the plights of students who have been assaulted on campuses. I applaud Drew and other universities that have been addressing the problem. These colleges have been focusing on prevention. Drew has also been focusing on bystander intervention, which makes the issue relevant to everyone.

Kira Poplowski:

Chief Communications Officer

What is your favorite thing about Drew?

Drew’s innovative and unique programs–like the United Nations and Wall Street semesters, the semesters on Contemporary Art and on Communications and Media that join the classroom and the community. Initiatives like these present learning opportunities distinct to Drew.

What are your responsibilities?

The number one responsibility is to share great news about Drew! To do so, the communications team oversees Drew’s marketing, branding, public relations and media relations efforts, and we collaborate closely with departments across campus like Admissions and Advancement. If a Drew student, faculty member or staff member receives an award, publishes an article, etc., we want to hear about it so we can spread the word! I’m speaking with many members of the Drew community and learning as much as I can, which will inform a strategic communications plan that supports President Baenninger’s vision for Drew.

Where is your office located? 

22 Madison Avenue–it’s the white house next to the United Methodist Church, just east of campus. The communications team is gathered in one place for the first time, which is great!

What did you do before coming to Drew?

I held communications roles at Harvard University, Pitzer College, Loyola Marymount University and the University of Southern California. It’s fascinating how much these institutions have in common, despite the obvious differences!

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Kei-sygh Thomas – Staff Writer

Whether it’s between a frustrated community of marginalized people and police in Ferguson, Mo., two combating political factions in Palestine, or Russia and Ukraine disputing control of the Crimean Peninsula, conflict is inevitable. Yet, is there anything being done to train individuals to be conflict mediators rather than willing combatants?

That is what the Center on Religion, Cultural and Conflict (CRCC) sets out to do.

The CRCC focuses critical attention on the complex ways in which cultures and religions interact, especially in moments of crisis and conflict. The associate director of the CRCC and co-organizer of the Peace Tour and Conference is Drew’s very own Professor Jonathan Golden of the anthropology and religious studies departments.

The Tour started on Jan. 12, 2015 in Dublin with an awards ceremony and concluded with several political figures and keynote speakers at a conference on Jan. 16. The aim of the conference and tour was to educate others about the Northern Ireland Conflict and discuss steps towards building peace and achieving reconciliation in post-conflict environments.  The Irish conflict was primarily a political one, but it also had ethnic and religious dimensions. Unionists/loyalists, who are predominantly Protestants, generally want Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, Catholic nationalists and republicans generally wanted to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland. Another key issue was the relationship between these two communities. The conflict began amidst discrimination against the Catholic/nationalist minority by the Protestant/unionist-dominated government and police force.

How does this connect to conflict here on American soil and in other countries abroad? Golden explained, “It’s not about color or race… it’s more about social and economic environment, opportunities and identity.” Whenever there is an unfair social dynamic or unequal power distribution, the potential for conflict is high. Golden went on, “A country never a hundred percent completely resolves conflict. They’re in a conflict recovery state because they are always at risk to be drawn back into conflict due to unresolved issues. The conference helped bring peace-makers together from different parts of the world including those living in a conflict environment to offer insight on building peace in post-conflict environments.”

Not only has the Peace Tour and CRCC increased the prestige and visibility of Drew University, but both events embodied Drew’s commitment  to full-impact learning by allowing students opportunities to learn about issues that expand well-beyond the four walls of a class room.

Starting in Fall 2015, Drew will be offering a Professional Certificate in Conflict Resolution and Leadership to students of the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. The certificate is a five-course, 15-credit undertaking that brings together professors and outside professionals in the fields of community policing, mediation and alternative dispute resolution. Two classes towards the graduate degree can be taken as an undergraduate student.

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Staff Spotlight

Janel Gist – Assistant News Editor

What do you do at Drew?

“I graduated in May and have been working in the biology department for three months. I am responsible for setting up the labs, keeping everything stocked and my boss is in charge of ordering supplies so I unpack those and help keep track of what is needed.”

How do you like working here?

“Its kind of weird. I walk around campus and people are like ‘I thought you graduated?’ I graduated early and people don’t realize I’m a full time employee. Its really different. Everything has a learning curve.”

What is Billy Corgan’s history?

“The company sometimes sends an extra rat in their shipments, which they did six weeks ago. I named him Billy Corgan. So far he has gotten the luck of the draw and hasn’t been used in anyone’s projects. He can be used by anyone who has a research grant. Previously we gave him to animal behavior for a couple of days.”

So what is Billy up to now?

“Billy has a roommate now! The company sent another extra rat, he doesn’t have a name yet. But they are living together and getting along. Billy hasn’t been used yet but that could change soon. Basically he just hangs out in his cage every day. We change his food and bedding twice a week.”

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Liz Pemberton –  News Editor

Prayer rooms are where people practicing a given religion can enter at anytime to pray in private or with others.

Lately, more and more companies are starting to make prayer rooms available to their employees. Universities across the country, such as Rutgers, have also joined in, creating prayer rooms for their students.

Drew’s Interfaith Prayer room opened last semester. University Chaplain and Director of the Chapel & Religious Life Dr. Tanya Bennett was heavily involved in setting up the prayer room. Regarding her involvement, Bennett said, “I became the director of religious life in 2005. Since that time, we have been searching for a permanent home for an interreligious/interfaith prayer room which would address the needs, particularly at that time, of our Muslim students.  Over these years, we’ve had several locations we could use as a prayer room, but not a permanently designated space.”

“In August,” Bennett continued, “we found what we hope will be a more permanent location in rooms 21-22 on the lower level of Mead Hall.  This is the most central, easily accessible space in which the interfaith prayer space has been located on campus, and we’re hopeful that students, faculty and staff will find it easily and use it well to further and deepen our prayer life on campus.”

Bennett also elaborated on the purpose of the prayer room at Drew. She said, “The establishment of this space not only addresses the needs of our Muslim students, but also our growing community of Hindu and Buddhist students, and recognizes our growing religious diversity and plurality, a critically important aspect of our Drew community as it reflects the increasingly global nature of our student body. It also offers a sacred space where our students, faculty and staff can gather, collectively or individually, to address the prayer rituals of our many faith traditions.” The hours of operation of the prayer room are the same as those of Mead Hall: between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Talking and eating as ritual actions are permitted at any time, as they often occur as a prelude to the initiation of religious ceremonies. Naturally, once a ritual begins, all people in the prayer room are expected to be respectful.

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Liz Pemberton – News Editor

What do you get when you combine 240 students from local middle schools, 20 Drew students, political science faculty and the UN?  Last Friday, the annual Model UN Event was hosted at Drew for the second time. Associate professor of political science Dr. Patrick McGuinn was the primary organizer of the event, along with local middle school teacher Bruce Chamberlain.

Regarding what the event is, Chamberlain said, “It ‘models’ a real United Nations conference. It’s geared towards producing resolutions that will be voted on in final assembly. I met with McGuinn and Marley Crank (’17), the faculty and student chairs for the event and we laid out three topics that would be discussed: climate change, global pandemic response and counter-terrorism, one per delegation. Based on a registration of 72 three-student delegations (representing 72 nations) from 12 area schools, we designed a conference that would have four general assemblies. The idea was to create committees (six delegations each) and assemblies that were large enough to generate ideas and discussion, yet small enough to enable participation from every student.”

“Each country delegation from the schools then writes a resolution designed to address the issue for the international community,” McGuinn continued. “During the simulation day at Drew, the students meet first in committee sessions on their specific topic and then in a mock ‘general assembly’ where the delegates from all three issue committees debate and then vote on each resolution.”

According to McGuinn, the goal of the event is to, “provide a unique and stimulating educational experience for both the Drew students and the area middle school students and to expand both groups’ understanding of challenges facing the world and possible solutions to them.”

Moreover, organizing the event was very taxing, as 240 middle schoolers had to be placed in various rooms throughout campus. McGuinn started preparing for the event last semester along with some student helpers.

He said, “I organized the event at Drew: scheduled all the rooms, planned the day and all logistics, coordinated with the middle school teachers and recruited, trained and supervised all of the Drew students, who were awesome! Once the day of the Model UN event began, the students really took over and led all of the 12 committee and four assembly sessions. The Drew students were fantastic and I am incredibly proud of them! Many of the Drew students had participated in Model UN programs when they were in middle or high school and were eager to help other students share the experience. Marley Crank was the student coordinator for the event. Drew faculty and staff Phil Mundo, Carlos Yordan and Amy Sugarman also helped out the day of the event.”

Chamberlain’s role in the event was a coordinator and facilitator.  “The Drew team ran the show, and it was my job to communicate back to the teachers (delegation advisers) at each school as to the procedures, preparation requirements, and logistics of the event,” Chamberlain said.

Finally, the event was a success according to McGuinn, as he has received positive feedback from the both the middle school students and faculty. Concerning the future of the Model UN event, McGuinn said, “we plan on running this again next year and every year in foreseeable future and even expanding it to other schools and counties in the area. I am meeting with the Drew students on Friday to debrief about the event and learn how we can make it even better in the future. Drew students are also interested in forming their own Model UN club where they will go and compete against other college teams from across the country.”

Chamberlain also expressed contentment with the event saying, “The conference was a roaring success! The middle school student delegates were awed by the campus, the Drew mentors and the whole process. They have spent months of preparation, some in class, some in after school clubs, and are ready and excited to be here. In my debrief with my students, comments included ‘My group leader made sure everyone participated,’ ‘I really enjoyed the feel of walking around the campus,’ ‘The assembly time was organized very well’ and more.”

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