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CHARLOTTE BROCKWAY – Staff Writer

Drewids now have yet another option for their bright futures. Starting this fall, students interested in the law can gain admission to Seton Hall University School of Law and New York Law School (NYLS) while still undergraduates. Seton Hall Law and NYLS signed articulation agreements with Drew to give students seeking to enroll in law school in a head start. Students who enroll in one of these dual-admission programs during their first year, and complete the necessary requirements during their time in the Forest, will gain automatic admission to one of the schools. In addition, the agreements with both schools offer an accelerated course of study where Drew students can complete both their Bachelor’s of Arts Degree (B.A.) and law school Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in six years, allowing them to save one year’s worth of tuition and time.

Associate Dean Debra Liebowitz said, “Drew University is pleased and proud to offer these exciting opportunities to its students who are working toward careers in law. Starting in their first year at Drew, students will be able to participate in a program of study that will more quickly prepare them for a promising law career.”

When asked how this idea started, College Enrollment Director Horace Tate said, “it started with the former Vice President Mark Kopenski. He started the conversation. He worked with officials at Seton Hall and NYLS, and consulted with the dean and folks in that office. He knew these two schools were interested and were happy to form an agreement with Drew.”

“The reason for it,” Liebowitz added, “was the context of increasing competition place. We wanted to increase student opportunity for graduate studies. This was a collective conversation both with colleges and at Drew. We will see more of this in higher education. Colleges are trying to do partnerships with other graduate and professional schools. We’re trying to broaden the number of fields so this kind of thing is available to students. We want to try to make it more affordable, more accessible. We can leverage in a way that an individual student can’t.”

Besides the accelerated three-plus-three program at Seton Hall and the four-plus-two program at NYLS, which includes a scholarship, Drew students can also participate in a traditional four-plus-three program at each law school, provided they meet the requirements for law school admission. “We have a pre-law program,” Tate says, “But with this opportunity we have something concrete for law school.” Tate also described the two different options for both Seton Hall and NYLS. For Seton Hall, students have the option of selecting the six-year program, which includes three years at Drew and three years at Seton Hall, wherein they will receive their Drew degree at the end of the first year at Seton Hall or the seven-year program, which includes four years at Drew and three years at Seton Hall. For New York, the same options are available”

“This is a one-win opportunity,” Liebowitz added, “it gives students guaranteed scholarship money to go on to law school. Students would get admitted jointly by dual-degree program.”

Drew has a tradition of offering excellent undergraduate preparation for law school to its undergraduates, a pre-law advisory program and a record of high acceptance rates for students who pursue law school after graduation. These articulation agreements expand on the opportunities offered to Drew students.

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JANEL GIST – Assistant News Editor

BlinkNow Foundation founder Maggie Doyne and the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies are working to change the world.

The Drew Center on Religion, Culture and Conflict (CRCC) will present these philanthropists with a Peacebuilder Award on May 11 at a reception held in a private home in Mendham.

The CRCC gave out similar awards at last year’s gala, with the Empowerment Through Education Award Through Education Award going to I. Leo Motiuk, an environmental law attorney and founder of the Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund. They also presented Don Mullan, an Irish humanitarian, film producer and author the Peace Through Truth Reconciliation Award. Then, in Dublin this January, they awarded the Peace Builder award to Niall O’Dowd, an author and journalist.

This year’s winners were selected by an advisory board that chose from a list of candidates. Jonathan Golden, associate director for the CRCC said “Maggie is being honored for her work in post-conflict in Nepal. Through BlinkNow, she has made contributions in the areas of education, healthcare, empowerment and sustainability. Of course, we are impressed with how much she has achieved at such a young age.”

Maggie Doyne is only 28 years old,  but she has been named a CNN Hero, appeared in New York Times Magazine and been recognized by the Dalai Lama. Through her work with BlinkNow, which helps women and children in Nepal, she has opened a home for orphans, a school for 350 children, a medical and counseling clinic and a  woman’s center. She is also raising 50 of the orphans personally.

The Arava Institute of Environmental Studies is an environmental and research institute that allows students in the Middle East to come together and solve environmental challenges and promote cooperation in the area. The award will be accepted by David Lehrer, executive director of the institute.

The Drew CRCC has worked with the Arava Institute for several years. Golden said “Through their work, Arava promotes trust, respect and a cooperative spirit, all while working on ecological solutions. In this way, Arava embodies the CRCC ethics of peacebuilding through direct engagement, at the same time tackling real problems.” The awards the CRCC give out are meant to honor these those who have worked to build peace in different ways, like through education and engagement. Golden said, “By telling the stories of people who strive to build peace around the world, CRCC can communicate the core values that we espouse. It is my hope that the extraordinary individuals that we honor also serve as an inspiration to Drew students.” The gala to present these awards to Maggie Doyne and the Arava Institute will begin at 6 p.m., with the awards presentation happening at 7 p.m. The keynote speaker of the event will Chris Rodriguez, director of New Jersey Homeland Security and Preparedness. The Indian-Middle Eastern band Jaffna will also perform. Golden said, “Putting together an event like this is a lot of work. But I cannot think of anything more rewarding–and fun–than honoring the work of those committed to building peace.

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JANEL GIST – Assistant News Editor

The issue of smoking at Drew has recently come into the spotlight. After Wataniyah and KUUMBA’s April 19 hookah event several students and faculty have started a discussion about how smoking and tobacco use are handled on campus.

Some students have complained that Drew is not in compliance with the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act (NJ SFAA). The NJ SFAA is a 2006 act that promotes smoke-free air in public places, also added in 2010 to the act was a ban on the use of e-cigarettes indoor in public places and workplaces. There were members of the staff and students who felt the hookah event was not appropriate, however the event was in compliance with guidelines that all forms of smoking must take place at least 25 feet away from the entrance of a public building, in this case the Ehinger Center. The hookah smoked also did not have any tobacco in it.

This event prompted a larger discussion about smoking on campus. One of the concerns brought up was the playground on campus and many cigarette butts littered around it. While the hookah event went on, several people made an effort to pick up this trash. Lisa Jordan, assistant professor of environmental studies, said, “I picked up the butts on the playground, along with a few volunteers, as a demonstration of some of the problems attributable to our smoker’s right approach as per campus policy.”

Currently the alleged complaints about Drew’s noncompliance with the NJ SFFA include smoking areas and urns that are next to doorways around campus, this allows smoke to get inside the building and violates the 25 feet away rule. Also the hookah parties are advertised around campus which is in violation of the NJ SFFA. There have also been complaints of non-responsive administration about these violations.

Two students who have been involved in recent conversations on campus are Samantha Weckesser (’15) and Sabrina La Bianca (’15), both are interns at the New Jersey Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy (NJ GASP), a non-profit that deals with smoking legislation and is headed by a Drew alum who wants the campus to go smokefree.

Weckesser stated “It’s important for smoking policy to change because no one seems to know what it is. Students who smoke and students who don’t both deserve the right to do what they want with their bodies, but it’s the school’s job to protect everyone. By defining policy and taking the steps to become compliant, the school would be honoring everyone’s well being. There are small children and a lot of students with asthma on campus who have the right to be in their residence halls and dorm rooms and breathe in clean air.”Whether Drew will change the smoking policy on campus and how it will bring the school more into compliance with the NJ SFFA, remains to be seen and remains also partly in the hands of smokers who should obey the 25 feet policy and refrain from smoking near doorways.

La Bianca said, “It’s just as important to educate students about smoking relating to health and environmental factors, and how it doesn’t just affect them but those around them as well!”

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ALYSSA MURPHY – Staff Writer

Drew University’s Center for Holocaust & Genocide Study organized a commemoration dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide along with various sponsors across Morris County and northern New Jersey, which took place on Monday evening. For those unfamiliar with the Armenian Genocide, it was a carefully constructed attack on the people of Armenia between 1915 and 1923. It was planned and administered by the Turkish government against the entire population of Armenia. Victims were brutally tortured, expropriated, starved and massacred. The Turks succeeded in killing over 1,500,000 Armenian citizens. Many of the assassins were never held accountable and present-day Turkey continuously denies that genocide even occurred.        

As the event went underway, dozens of guests piled into Drew’s Dorothy Young Center for the Arts for the special ceremony and were greeted by Professor Ann Saltzmann, director for Drew’s Center for Holocaust/Genocide study. After delivering a brief overview of the Armenian Genocide, Saltzman introduced the first guest speaker.

On behalf of her father Andranik Vartanian, Susan Vartanian Barba delivered an emotional testimony to the crowd beginning with the words “I am my father’s daughter.” In telling her father’s story, she noted that Vartanian was a survivor of the Armenian genocide and the only member of his family to live. In a brief video clip, Vartanian describes the horrors he had to live through including being witness to the killing of his father and being forced to murder his best friend. In those moments, he exclaimed that he had “decided to be dead.” Time after time, he admits to narrowly escaping death before he was rescued by Russian soldiers. To this day, his testimony lives on and he serves as an ambassador for the countless people who lost their lives and for those wishing to restore proper recognition of the Armenian genocide.

Following this testimony, was an artistic presentation by art historian Neery Melkonian. Much like Barba, Melkonian is the granddaughter of a survivor of the Armenian genocide. Her presentation “Undoing Denial: The Armenian Genocide and Art” was broken up into five installments of five different art periods which sought to trace eclectic representations of the genocide. The presentation also focused on the shift of these actual representations among various artists throughout the years. Recently, Melkonian has constructed what is known as the Blind Dates project at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery in NYC in 2010. The project itself involved thirteen artistic collaborations between both Turks and Armenians and was the first of its kind. Among her work, she has also published essays and art critics for Artspace, ARTS Magazine, Afterimage and the ARARAT Quarterly.    

In the final part of the commemoration, members of the Armenian a cappella group, Zulal, enticed the audience with the Armenian songs “Kele Lao,” “Shogher Jan,” and “Ha Nina.” The trio takes these folk melodies and constructs intricate arrangements that seek to maintain the rural roots while simultaneously infusing contemporary energies. For a couple of songs, the audience joined in and a chorus of melody swept the room. The ceremony was concluded by a small prayer delivered by Father Arakel Vardazaryan of St. Mary Armenian Church.

The event was beneficial for not only history or political science majors, but anyone who interested in spreading awareness about these horrific events, especially given the recurrence of genocide in the recent 20th and 21st centuries. As noted in their mission statement, Drew’s Center for Holocaust / Genocide Studies hopes, above all else to “educate upcoming generations to remember for the future.”

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Leon Panetta discusses Bin Laden raid and American military

DALTON VALETTE – Staff Writer

The Simon Forum was muggy and humid, sweat stains appearing across business clothes, as more than 400 people milled about waiting for former U.S. Secretary of Defense and former Director of the CIA Leon Panetta to address them. Panetta was the last speaker of this cycle for the Drew Forum lecture circuit and was the Thomas H. Kean lecturer.

Panetta arrived several minutes late to speak after having a busy schedule, jumping from meeting after meeting, from dinners to photographs, and included an interview with the Drew Acorn in Mead Hall. In conversation, Panetta was affable and engaging. There was warmness to his quality and one was struck by his openness to discuss any issue mentioned. He did not seem like a man who would have been typically heavily involved in intelligence or defense as he was not astute in manner, but was friendly, joked around and liberally utilized a sincere grin.

A topic of extreme interest, which later correlated to his lecture, was current events. In conversation, Panetta addressed the circumstances behind headline stories such as his successor at the CIA, General David Petraeus, who recently pled guilty to illegally giving confidential information to his biographer.

“Frankly I was shocked when I found out,” Panetta said. “I had an immense amount of respect for him and more than anything I was shocked that such a man as himself could stoop so low.”

The comfortable Panetta, who freely answered questions regarding the Bin Laden raid which he oversaw, stating the most challenging aspect was the actual movement of two forces hundreds of miles into Pakistan at night without the Pakistani government in the know to a compound they hoped Bin Laden was in, and then getting the teams out, paused at the question about the infamous “American Sniper,” Chris Kyle, and if the Department of Defense needed men like him. After some hesitation, Panetta said, “we need men like Chris Kyle to do things like he’s doing.”        

On stage however, Panetta addressed his time and service with slight coldness and meticulous thought.  Throughout the lecture, He seemed to paint a grim depiction of America. He addressed that we are at a crossroads and that we face a difficult choice, where we could very well see “an America in crisis after crisis after crisis.”

Panetta discussed the various threats that face our nation from economic woes, to foreign enemies such as North Korea and Iran which he guarded as a state “that should not be trusted.” He discussed the growing concern of climate change, the gridlock in Washington, going so far as to admit, “I have never seen Washington as partisan as it is today.” He stressed the need for partisan support in anything, as doing anything was better than doing nothing. He talked as well about growing cold war like tensions between the United States and Russia, complaining that Vladimir Putin is “a bully. And bullies must be stopped.” As well, he grimly stated that in recent years, “terrorism has metastasized.”

But at the end, Panetta urged that there is hope. “We can have an American Renaissance. That America can have a strong economy driven by innovation and creativity. I think we can have an educated and skilled workforce with the skills needed for the 21st century. That we can have a strong middle class. We could have true energy independence that can protect our environment. We can expand opportunities around the world. Yes we can have a leaner defense that supports and sustains America’s leadership in the world. We can be that America. But very frankly, it doesn’t mean a damn thing if we aren’t willing to fight for it.”

He urged that we have to regain trust and faith in the government and in the end good leadership will prevail to ensure the values of America are upheld. Even in darkness, there is hope, but you’ve got to fight for it

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