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Thank you to the Acorn Editorial Staff for a great year. I’m hooked on the Acorn and I look forward to finding it in Mead Hall every Friday. I appreciate the relationship that we’ve begun to build, the strength and the evenness of the news coverage, and the invitation to me to write at the end of the academic year.

When thinking about what to write here, I reflected back on my first real acquaintance with Drew students, a little over a year ago during my interview process.  As I listened then to students telling me their thoughts about Drew and the great education they are receiving, I heard a common refrain, and I still hear it, now that I see students—and alums—on a daily basis.  It goes like this: “Drew is a fantastic school, why don’t more people know about us?  Why do people call us a hidden gem?”  These are good questions because a college and university can be great and not well known. In fact, however, a strong reputation increases the value of graduates’ degrees, continues to attract students who are very strong academically and athletically, and creates an upward spiral of esprit de corps.  We can’t be a “hot” school if Drew is known only to those who’ve already had some direct experience with it.

So I am on a mission, and so is our whole leadership team.  Led by our Chief Communications Officer, Kira Poplowski, we will be rolling out a communications plan that will tout the University’s strengths and put us at the forefront of conversations about the best colleges and universities in the country.  A good communications plan begins with finding our true strengths.  I think we all know what they are: faculty mentorship, our location and the opportunities it presents, and “hands on” experiential learning. 

As I join all of our end-of-year celebrations of student and faculty accomplishments, I hear these themes resonating again and again.  We have retooled our admission programming to reflect these strengths, we’ve started on the transition to a website that better highlights them, and all of our communications and marketing efforts—like the recent Drew Magazine—will highlight these strengths and bring them alive directly through student voices in interactive media.  But we need your help.  “Word of mouth” is the best communicator.  Your stories resonate.  Take every opportunity to tell people about your own experiences at Drew.

Look out world, Drew University is on the move!

Dr. MaryAnn Baenninger

President, Drew University

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JARED SUTTON – Assistant Opinions Editor

Sometimes, it is quite easy to overlook campus mainstays. Two groups of student leaders in particular, RAs and the OC, are sometimes overlooked and underappreciated. However, both groups of these students are pivotal to the development of the institution. For example, while many view the OC as a two week commitment not worthy of much acclaim, look at it this way: members of the OC, one of the most diverse groups of students on campus, are the initial contact of what Drew is all about. A Big Sibling can make or break a new student’s first year of Drew. If the Big Sib does a terrible job of making the new student feel welcomed or the new student does not feel in place or included in their Sib Group, this new Drewid might have second thoughts about their decision to attend school here. This initial point of contact is pivotal to ensuring that new Drewids get off to a good start. The wall decorations made by the OC members provide a proverbial “home sweet home” for incoming students.

But, there’s an even more important point of contact: summer outreach. Most members of the OC do a great job in reaching out to students early in the summer. This generally excites incoming students. It makes the long summer waiting period seem to go by that much faster. In a sense, it drums up interest for Drew. It gives new students a perspective on the university before they even set foot in Welch, Tolley or Brown. Members of the OC offer unique perspectives on different departments and typically answer questions some students do not want to go to faculty or their RAs about. The Big Siblings truly amplify the experience and deserve recognition as such. There is a lot more than what meets the eye.

An RA also plays a pivotal role in the college experience. Although many RAs in the upperclassmen residence halls typically serve as toilet paper retrievers, they also act as an amazing resource to students, who potentially are in their grade and in potential classes, which helps them understand exactly what they are going through. The RAs in the first-year buildings especially play a more active role in the lives of their residents, and their contributions cannot be understated. The hours spent creating wall decorations, door decorations and bulletin boards, as well as making time to chat with their residents, resolve problems and mediate conflict, are more than many of us can possibly imagine as a third party.

The student leaders on campus, in any capacity, are an amazing asset to the school. However, two groups in particular (RAs and OC members) are exceptionally important to the development of new students and the retention of current ones. Whether or not you still talk to your Big Sibling or interact heavily with your RA, it is critical to take a step back and recognize the amazing work that your RA and/or Big Sib has done for you this year. As the school year comes to a close, take a minute, text your RA and/or Big Sib and say thank you. Their work has been critical to ensuring that your time on campus has been (hopefully) an amazing one.

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MARIA LEE – Contributing Writer

After unexpectedly having to take a philosophy/classics course for my college seminar, I discovered a field of study that truly opened my eyes. Although I didn’t find classics to be up in my alley of interest, philosophy was something I realized I definitely needed to obtain more knowledge about. This motivated me to register for the introduction to philosophy course.

Once the spring semester started, I realized how much I enjoyed philosophy. I loved the incredible readings that allowed me to ponder on a deeper level about my perceived reality. In addition to that, my professor was one of the most passionate and caring professors I have ever met. His immense knowledge regarding this field of academics made me want to pay attention and absorb everything he had to say. Even in the very first class, the things he said and the questions he asked completely blew my mind. In my personal experience throughout the years, no matter how interested I was in the subject, if I wasn’t fond of my professor whether it was regarding teaching style or attitude, I would completely lose interest in the course. I know that this is sort of a personal character flaw, but I believe that it also emphasizes how influential professors are in our educational careers. The reason philosophy now means so much to me, and hopefully someday to you, is because philosophy truly gets you to think about things in a different perspective. It taught me how powerful it is to question the information that I have been so conditioned to accept as fact. It teaches you how to be aware of your surroundings and most importantly, how to be aware of your own self.

Philosophy is the essence of knowledge, the ultimate core of wisdom. I truly believe that no matter what field of study you are in, the philosophical insight obtained in this class will be applicable and beneficial.

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ADDISON DEL MASTRO – Opinions Editor

As the presidential election cycle begins, I’ve been thinking, as a political science major, about what I’d like to see our next president do. Unfortunately, a lot of my ideas don’t get talked about too much by either party. Therefore, I thought it would be fun to write my own “presidential platform.” These are not necessarily my personal beliefs; they are policies I think would benefit our country at this time.

Dismantle the “agricultural-industrial complex”: the current system of agricultural subsidies for industrially-produced cash crops – corn, soy, and wheat – is a handout not for struggling farmers but for big agriculture and the processed food industry. This system of legalized corruption between the government and the major food producers has consolidated agriculture, put farmers out of work, reduced the diversity and resilience of our food system and created an artificially cheap flow of mass-produced, unhealthy foods which cause disease and burden our healthcare system.

I will dismantle this system by restricting cash crop subsidies, considering anti-trust charges against the largest agricultural-industrial conglomerates and redirecting subsidies to smaller, skilled farmers producing fruits and vegetables. This will also create jobs: mass agriculture is largely mechanized, while small-scale agriculture requires skilled labor.

Bring back and revive key manufacturing sectors with industrial policy: in the last 15 years, America has lost nearly 50,000 manufacturing plants and factories and millions of well-paying blue collar jobs. These jobs sustained a stable and affluent working and lower-middle class. The hollowing out of these classes and their old cities and neighborhoods is the direct result of the flight of manufacturing. The post-industrial promise of limitless well-paying tech and service jobs has not, and will not, materialize.

In order to revive its industrial base, the United States must be free to make its own decisions on trade issues. Towards this end, I will pull us out of the World Trade Organization and replace its monolithic demands with individual trade deals with our major trading partners. I will pay special attention to staple industries such as autos and machine equipment, as well as to the emerging “green jobs” area–all categories in which the United States once led the world, and can do so again.

Restore the integrity of the public sphere and the civic culture:

The changing nature of the corporation and the evisceration of campaign finance restrictions in the last few decades have distorted the public sphere and blurred the line between private enterprise and civic culture. In a democracy, the public sphere and civic culture must be sacrosanct. I will seek a cap on campaign spending by all candidates for federal office and a cap on all political spending in the name of corporations or unions. I will not seek limits on spending by, and in the name of, individuals.

I will also fight the tendency to privatize government services, including, most egregiously, military contractors and private prisons. These represent dangerous violations of the public sphere.

Ratchet down the “culture wars”: America’s “culture war” has destabilized our political system, polarized our culture, and led to escalating resentment between decent Americans. I believe that the federal government and the President should withdraw themselves, for a limited period, from commentary or major policy recommendations on the most controversial social issues, in order to cool down the culture war mentality. To this end, I will neither announce nor seek to enact positions or policies in the most controversial social issue areas, such as abortion and gun control.

I will not attempt to interfere with states which enact laws on these issues, except where they seek to place an unacceptably high burden on the exercise of civil rights and liberties.

General statement: I believe that the benefits from invigorating America’s vital industries, rebuilding our middle and working classes, and reasserting the public and civic space are and should be the main concerns of the federal government at this time.

The states, with the help of the courts, have championed many progressive cultural causes, such as relaxed attitudes towards drugs and LGBT rights. I support their continued work. However, the involvement of the federal government in such issues has come to detract from the broader needs of the nation as a whole, needs which I will tirelessly reassert as President.

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Kathryn Swenor – Contributing Writer

As the school year comes to a close, there is a lot to look back on. The achievements that were made, the struggles that were conquered and the lessons that were learned. For first-year students, they had the most to learn, specifically the transition to a new environment and calling Drew University their home away from home. There is a lot that can be said for how this transition occurs for first year students.

Especially here at Drew, there are many activities and events that benefit the incoming first-years. When students move onto campus, they are greeted by resident assistants and faculty. We meet these upperclassmen with gigantic smiles on their faces, ready to help us find our dorms and meet fellow students. The typical scene you would see at any university, except Drew offered more than the typical events on move in day. Our school prepared a unique orientation for all the first-year students, to help them meet new friends and get help from upperclassmen.

Personally, this experience was corny at first. There are other ways to meet my fellow classmates then ice breaker games and tours of the downtown. Though looking back on the experience, the staff of student activities did a decent job. It is a tough job, first of all, trying to bring several hundred students together and try to make them secure in this new environment. No matter how corny it seemed, there is probably a part of each of us first-year students who enjoyed some of the activities.

During orientation we received a Big Sibling, an upperclassman, along with fellow first-year siblings. From my experience I got to know my sibs and began hanging out with them, getting food in town, doing homework together and just talking. Having the orientation committee create this group of students seemed beneficial at the time, creating friendships between all of us nervous first-years. As time passed, there was this realization that there was not a lot in common between us. I have always been curious as to how they pick the groups: random selection or based on interests among us? Once orientation was over and the reality of being a college student set in, things got more serious. Classes began and the independence of college became real to people.

Along with the start of classes there was also the Common Hour class, which personally damaged my schedule. I planned to take my language requirement, but due to Common Hour timing I was unable to do so. Common Hour allowed students to meet each other and to have a weekly opportunity to talk with their advisors, but it also created a scheduling conflict for some students. Common Hour began as something positive, but in the end having it be a weekly class, that actually did not teach us much. It became more of a hassle than anything. It took time out of our schedules for other classes and for studying. Among all this, there were still moments of trying to figure everything out, where classes were located, what to eat and what not to eat in the Commons and who your group of friends were.

The transition from a high school student to a college student was an exciting experience, an enjoyable experience and a chance to learn. The support of the Orientation Committee and Student Activities provided help to all first year students in a cheesy, beneficial way. Maybe some first years look back and think it was a waste of time, that there are easier ways to make friends and learn about the campus then those silly activities, but there are probably some first years who are grateful for the events that took place.

Without those activities and events we attended, then we would not have learned what we did, made the friends we love and experience the first day of college emotions.

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