Admitted Students Day welcomes prospective students to Hood College

Committed and prospective students alike visited Hood College for Admitted Students Day, April 7-8. They familiarized themselves with the campus, meeting faculty and other Hood students in their time at the college.

The event was an experience stretching two days where visiting students and their families could preview life at Hood. Attendees could sit in on mini-courses, attend athletic games, explore dorm buildings, and attend the college’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”

“The main point of Admitted Students Day is to get them very connected to the other members of the Class of 2021,” Elizabeth Gomer, the senior associate director of admissions, said. “For the small handful of transfer students, it is to get them connected to the other incoming transfer students, because we just can’t say, ‘Oh, everyone that’s here is the Class of 2021!’ We need to be inclusive.”

For Admitted Students Day, Gomer works with prospective students to plan their visits to the campus. According to her, one of the more fulfilling programs of the event is the “Hood Hello.” This segment is a small group setting where admitted students participate in teambuilding exercises and icebreakers.

The afternoon activities were compared to a “choose your own adventure” by Gomer, with admitted students browsing around the campus however they pleased. Whether they stopped by the fair operated by academic departments and student services, or watched the improve show at Avalon Theatre, the remaining day’s agenda was up to them.

Admitted students could arrive the day before for an “overnight experience.” Attendees ate dinner with current students at Hood, met with Hood student leaders, and participated in an interactive game night at Whitaker Campus Center.

“For the campus, it is an opportunity to really showcase what we do best, and that is building connections,” Gomer said.

The confirmed attendance for the event was a total of 165 registered students, with 51 taking part in the overnight visit as well as the day itself. Of that 165, 43 have already deposited the $350 check to confirm that they will enroll at Hood.

Compared to previous Admitted Students Days, little changed for this year’s event aside from expanding athletics and career-related sections. Hood’s administration gauges feedback and interest on each year’s event, and keeps what worked while replacing what did not.

“We want this day to really help them understand that this is a great place that they can call home for the next four years,” Gomer said.

“Logan” brings a trilogy to a satisfying, emotional conclusion

In the distant future, all traces of the old “X-Men” movies are gone, and Hugh Jackman is somehow still a huge, jacked man.

“Logan” is the third and final film in 20th Century Fox’s series of movies based on the comic book character Wolverine. Eschewing the quip-filled approach of generic superhero films, “Logan” instead focuses on interpersonal drama in a neo-western style.

Set in the year 2029, the movie follows an aged Logan “Wolverine” Howlett, played by Hugh Jackman, as he attempts to escape from hostile pursuers with two travelers in tow. Patrick Stewart returns as the now Alzheimer’s-ridden psychic Professor Xavier, and Dafne Keen makes her debut as Laura, a young mutant with powers similar to Wolverine’s.

From the get-go, “Logan” goes out of its way to show viewers that it will not pull any punches with its content. The language is harsher and more frequent than in any other “X-Men” movie, and the action scenes are unprecedented in their blood and brutality. Expect plenty of severed limbs and impaled villains before the movie comes to a close.

Unlike the bleakness of “Batman v Superman,” the uncompromising grittiness of “Logan” works well with its narrative and serves to draw the audience in further. The unflinching violence and gore compliment the mental state of Wolverine, who is in constant physical pain and left wandering without a purpose in life.

The lulls between action scenes provide excellent moments of character interaction and introspection. Though the movie may seem like a standard superhero romp on the surface, its main emphasis is on reflection and finding one’s way in an unfamiliar world. The themes of family and moving on from tragedies are explored through well-crafted dialogue.

The world-building in “Logan” is handled through subtle comments and details in the cinematography, creating a near-dystopia that feels natural without being forced. From the extinction of tigers to the implementation of self-driving trucks, viewers learn of unsettlingly-modern possibilities by reading between the lines of dialogue, rather than having it ham-handedly shoved in their faces.

Ultimately, “Logan” is not a superhero movie with city-destroying stakes and massive CGI effects. It is a story of what it means to be a family and what it means to be redeemed, albeit with super-powered individuals playing key roles in the plot. Rather than make its characters godlike beings, the movie portrays them as being tragically human with every flaw visible for the world to see.

Was “Logan” one of the best movies I have ever seen? I would hesitate to say something on that scale. I think the title of “best movie ever” sort of diminishes the accomplishments of films, as it weighs them against unrealistic standards.

However, I can easily give it a 10 out of 10, and I can safely say that it was one of my favorite Marvel movies to date. I would highly recommend it to all fans of cinema. Jackman and Stewart have ended their “X-Men” filmographies on high notes.

“Logan” is rated R for strong brutal violence and language throughout, as well as brief nudity. Its runtime is two hours and 21 minutes.

“Kong: Skull Island” pays homage to the classics

Well, I guess it is time for the yearly take on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. This time, instead of war-torn Vietnam or sandstorm-blasted Dubai, we get an island full of giant monsters. Fair trade, if you ask me.

“Kong: Skull Island” is a reimagining/reboot of the original “King Kong,” with the 1930s traded for the closing days of the Vietnam War. It also serves as a semi-prequel to Legendary’s 2014 “Godzilla” reboot.

Starting off, it goes through the same notes as the original 1933 movie: a group of scientists and soldiers head to the uncharted Skull Island, get stranded there, and face wits with the local creatures along with the massive Kong himself. Even with the updated setting, everything feels predictable and safe. Then the real plot kicks in, and things get very interesting very quickly.

Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Colonel Packard, becomes obsessed with slaying Kong after his men suffer initial casualties at the beast’s hands. At the same time, the other survivors make uneasy alliances with one another and a stranded WW2 veteran, played by John C. Reilly, as they try to fight their way off the island. All the while, a breed of lizard-like creatures called “skullcrawlers” surface, battling both the humans and Kong as the latter two groups are forced to cooperate to survive.

The scenery for the movie is gorgeous, no doubt helped by the crew filming in lush portions of Vietnam and Hawaii. The imagery harkens back to the hazy, sun-drenched visions of the Vietnam War produced by ‘70s Hollywood. Even the soundtrack avoids the cliché of abusing popular songs like “Fortunate Son,” instead using a fitting selection of tracks from the era.

If there’s one thing the movie does not do well, it is subtly paying homage to its reference materials. A colonel who loses his mind to violence and war, a character called Conrad, and a trek into an exotic location that reveals the depths of human depravity? That checks off the obligatory Heart of Darkness references; how about “King Kong” references? The titular ape battling against monsters like dinosaurs, an introspective encounter with the female lead, and a fight with airborne vehicles? Yes, the movie is not exactly clever when it comes to references.

There are issues with the characters, while mostly enjoyable to watch, got mixed amounts of development. The names of most for the soldiers and scientists are easily forgotten, but can remember almost every line by John C. Reilly and Jackson clearly. There were some characters, like the biologist, that went underused when they could have better immersed the audience into the island’s strange ways.

“Kong: Skull Island” is a recommend watch for monster movie fans. The audience may not have been cheering like they did in “Godzilla,” but there were plenty of vocal reactions to the film. Laughter followed most jokes without fail, while quiet anticipation built up in the audience during the tense drama scenes.

The film has a post-credits scene that is relevant to the story, so make sure to stick around till the very end. “Kong: Skull Island” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and for brief strong language. Its runtime is two hours.

Rating: 7.5/10

Veterans share their experiences at Hood College panel

A panel of local veterans talked at Hood College about their experiences in and out of the U.S. Military, detailing the unique issues people face coming out of the armed forces.

Hosted by the Hood College Republicans, the panel was held on Mar. 21 from 7:30-9 p.m. A total of six representatives spoke, including a former Army paratrooper and the executive director for a military charity called Building Veterans. All donations to the charity at the event were matched by the Republicans.

Four main questions were broached by Hood College Republicans: “Is it different being treated as a veteran?” “Does the transition to civilian life raise any difficulties?” “Are portrayals of veterans in the media accurate?” and “What can we do to treat our veterans better?”

Post-traumatic stress disorder, and the stigma surrounding it, came up frequently during the second question’s discussion. At the panel, the veterans typically referred to PTS to ease away from the negativity of the “disorder” label.

Kyle Kauzlarich, a Marine veteran who graduated from Hood in 2016, said he has stopped telling people about his status as a veteran, noting that is “too awkward” to bring it up now. “People need to stop looking at vets with PTS as damaged goods, and start looking at them as people,” Kauzlarich said.

Terry Richardson, a veteran who served in both the Army and Marines, suggested the culture shock from exiting the military and re-entering civilian life can cause issues. The values between the two sides, especially on violence, conflict heavily with each other.

“All vets I know have a lot of pride,” Adam Wyatt, the executive director of Building Veterans, said. “They joined up because they wanted to serve the community. The bond and camaraderie between vets is incredible.”

However, Wyatt also noted this pride can hinder success in their post-military lives. Pride can hold veterans back from seeking help with employment or health issues, especially when coping with issues like post-traumatic stress.

Suicide among veterans was also a key issue brought up by the panel. Compared to the rest of the population, veterans commit suicide at an alarmingly disproportionate rate. Nearly 20 commit suicide per day, and while 8,000 lives were lost in the War on Terror, 124,000 veterans killed themselves in that same time frame.

When asked about how society could treat veterans better, answers from the panel varied from volunteering at nonprofits to enlisting in the military itself. Danny Farrar, a former Army paratrooper and .50 caliber gunner, offered a different solution: ending the hero worship of veterans.

“They were people with jobs,” Farrar said. “The reality is, if you went in looking for something for your service, you missed the point of service.”

The atmosphere of the panel remained supportive and understanding from start to finish. Grateful for their attendance and attentiveness, the representatives thanked students present for their interest in veteran-related issues. Kauzlarich thanked everyone who came out to the event. “I see you all, and I see mountains of potential,” he said.

Keanu Reeves kills it in John Wick: Chapter 2

Say what you want about Keanu Reeves’ acting chops, but the man knows how to commit to a role and own it.

“John Wick: Chapter 2” is the sequel to Reeves’ 2014 sleeper hit, “John Wick.” The original movie, about a retired hitman going on a manhunt for the Russian gangster that killed his dog, became a surprise success for its impressive cinematography and fantastic fight scenes.

My hopes were high for the sequel, so I was prepared to be let down. To my shock, “Chapter 2” did not merely match the original – it succeeded it in multiple ways.

“John Wick: Chapter 2,” takes place directly after the first movie’s events, where the titular character has ended his feud and wishes to settle down again. Unfortunately for him, an unpaid blood oath with an Italian crime lord forces him back into action, leading him to battle against mercenaries and assassins in the heart of Rome and New York City.

The film takes a while to get the plot rolling, but when it does, the action is nail-biting and the plot is peppered with enough twists and turns to keep viewers in suspense. Summer action movie fans will love the intense moments of Reeves breaking necks and landing headshots, while hardcore fans will relish the attention to detail put into the fight scenes. Like in the first film, the character still reloads weapons frequently and gets slowed down by injuries.

The audio had a strong “punch” to it, adding more emphasis to the movie’s scenes. The soundtrack boomed to raise the excitement in the frequent one-versus-many gunfights, while the sound effects hammered home just how hard each strike and slash would hit.

Though “Chapter 2” might appear to be a brainless action movie, it does have some amount of self-awareness and clever world building. The Continental, the shadowy assassins’ guild that appeared in the first film, gets more screen time and development here. Audiences get a closer look at the inner workings of their code of honor, along with the consequences of violating it.

While the movie may sound perfect, it did have some problems with it. The buildup to the main plot felt excessively-delayed, and the stakes get somewhat absurd by the climax. Just how many would seriously be willing to take out John Wick, an assassin with a body count in the hundreds who is most known for killing three men with a pencil? A great deal of people, according to the film. “John Wick: Chapter 2” is rated R for strong violence, some language, and brief nudity. Its runtime is slightly over two hours.

Unless you’re squeamish about blood and violence, “John Wick: Chapter 2” is a must see. It is a rare action film that drops shaky cam and confusing camera angles in favor of fluid sequences and real-life fighting techniques.

Rating: 9/10

Media suppressions: A two-sided issue

President Donald Trump’s ban of news outlets like CNN at White House Press Briefings sent shock-waves through legacy and social media, with commentators questioning the authority and ethical merits of his decision.
From a distance, this would seem to be an isolated incident. This kind of resistance to journalists is unprecedented and extremely uncommon, and occurrences of it only apply to the Republican side of the aisle, right? After all, Nixon also declared the press to be an enemy.
Unfortunately, history has shown that both political wings will turn on journalists if things do not go their way. Even organizations as small as campus newspapers can feel the cold grip of censorship if they stumble across information they were not supposed to hear.
A recent instance of this happened to me during my post-election coverage of Hood Democrats and Hood Republicans. While I attended the Jan. 25 meeting of Hood Democrats, Sam Kebede, the club president and a junior at Hood, off-handedly mentioned during a section on election trauma that a colleague of his was reduced to inconsolable sobbing for an extended period of time.
A few moments later, it was demanded that I stop writing and that I cut that part of the discussion out of my notes. It was insisted that what I wrote was not newsworthy and said that I had no right to cover it, even though I had not probed any further about the person.
I internally agreed that the colleague’s name and incident were not relevant to the subject matter, but I could not abide his blatant attempt at censorship. I attempted to explain journalistic ethics to him, pointing out that one cannot simply tell a journalist to stop covering an event, especially when said journalist was invited to the event.
I waited for the other Democrats to step in, though no one spoke up to defend my right to attend and cover their meeting. In spite of their opposition to Trump, they failed to notice when their leader adopted his attitude and tactics towards the media.
Though I was later apologized to for the actions at the meeting, the reaction of hostility when I broached this editorial topic to Kebede, asking if he had any questions about it over an email. Rather than share any concerns he had with me, he attempted to have the article pulled by contacting another member of The Blue & Grey. When that failed, he threatened the paper and me with a libel lawsuit, only backing down when it became apparent that it would be costly and he had no case.
Sadly, this is how partisan politics works: one side will vigorously defend an idea like freedom of the press for a while, then turn on it the instant it works against them. The incident I faced was only one of many political crackdown attempts on student reporters.
In 2015, a University of Missouri professor, Melissa Click was caught on video attempting to remove a student reporter from a left-wing protest, demanding “some muscle” to force him away. The following year, Concerned Student 1950 activists at the college attempted to bar student journalists from covering one of their town hall meetings, then called the police on a reporter who refused to leave.
On the other end of the spectrum, a student reporter was harassed and intimidated by several members of Michigan State University College Republicans on the night of the 2016 election. Rachel Fradette, the campus editor for The State News, came out in condemnation of the event, promising to not tolerate abusive behavior and to never back down against people who attempt to suppress journalists.
Opposition can arise from not just students, but administrators as well. The former president of Mt. St. Mary’s, Simon Newman, came under fire in early 2016 for his treatment of student journalists covering his leaked emails, forcing him to resign that February.
The point is that muffling the press is not an entirely democratic, republican, liberal, conservative, libertarian, or moderate idea. Every ideology embraces it at some point, typically when tensions are high and journalists are not saying what one faction wants to hear.
People need to be willing to stand up for media outlets of all sizes and beliefs, even the ones they do not care for. If CNN gets banned now, then it sets a precedent for Fox News or The Christian Science Monitor to be banned in the next presidency.
The greatest threat to an open and ethical press is an apathetic population. If people tolerate the suppression of journalists from any political spectrum – or, even worse, try to shut it down themselves under some misguided belief of righteousness – then they are laying the foundation for future censorship and suppression of their own beliefs.
The rabid polarization of American politics is producing casualties from all walks of life. I sincerely hope that students will look past their own beliefs and defend the freedom of the press, even if it conflicts with their political views.
If student journalists cannot report on controversial issues without worrying about backlash from administrators or fellow students, then their college is anything but a place for higher learning.

Men’s Basketball narrowly misses playoffs

kyle_sheilds_basketball[1]In spite of a close victory against Arcadia University on Feb. 18, Hood College’s Men’s Basketball Team will not be moving on to playoffs this season.
According to Chad Dickman, the head coach of the men’s basketball team at Hood, the team missed making the playoffs by one game. Several close road games in January may have cost them the chance to compete further in the season.
Although not obtaining the playoff spot, Dickman said the year was successful for the team. He noted improvements in the team’s offense this year compared to recent years, in addition to a larger overall roster.
“I think our team was pretty even from top to bottom,” Dickman said. “We were very deep and had the luxury of being able to play up to 15 guys if needed.”
He also said that there were several standout performances by members of the team. Scott Bolen, a senior at Hood and player on the Men’s Basketball Team, scored an average of 15 points per game.
Bolen was voted by competing coaches to the All-Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth Second Team, and helped win the Senior Day game against Arcadia by scoring 39 points personally.
In preparation for the next season, the coaching staff is working to recruit players whose talents could help the team next year.
Currently, no students have committed to Hood’s team for the 2017-2018 school year, but the staff is in a “good spot” with the players they are trying to recruit.
Though the team will lose three seniors in the transition to the next season, Dickman said he is confident that the returning players and recruits will continue to be successful.
“We set high goals in the preseason,” he said “and when we played well, we were well on our way to accomplishing those goals. I hope this season has left a bad taste in their mouths and they are ready to do everything they can to accomplish our 2017-2018 goals.”

HEAT hosts Climate Change Cafe

Like an ironic joke from Mother Nature herself, HEAT’s climate change awareness event was accompanied by unusually mild weather for the dead of winter.
Held on Feb. 23, the Hood Environmental Action Team’s Climate Change Café sought to encourage discussions about the environment in a casual atmosphere. The club offered refreshments, games, and opportunities for conversation from 12-2 p.m. in Whitaker 220.
“It’s about bringing awareness about climate change,” Callie Fishburn, a junior at Hood and HEAT’s president, said. “We’re trying to educate people about the issues.”
The club offered coffee, tea, muffins, hummus, fruit, and other refreshments for attendees. Questions about climate change were left on tables for students to discuss, and a game for measuring one’s economic footprint was displayed.
Most attendees had a name tag with an environmental science term placed on their backs as a guessing game.
Youssef Madkour, HEAT’s vice-president, described the café as “climate change awareness without being in your face.” He said that he hoped it would make students more proactive about the environment instead of nihilistic about its potential fate.
Tying into the event’s environmentally-conscious focus, the club invited Key City Compost, a Frederick-based composting service, to assist with the cleanup. Any trash noted as compostable was deposited into Key City’s bins for them to dispose of.
Dr. April Boulton, HEAT’s advisor and an associate professor of biology, said that she was optimistic about the positive impact the café could have.
“I hope it makes them change some of their habits that are unhealthy for the planet,” she said about the café’s visitors. “That’s always a goal for an event like this.”

Political organizations regroup post election

Although the American political system seemingly hit its climax in the 2016 election, work continues for large and small-scale organizations for the upcoming showdowns in 2018 and 2020.
Hood College is no exception to this statement. Three months after the Nov. 8 election, both College Democrats and College Republicans are in full swing once more, working to recruit new members and campaign for their various causes.
Neither the Republicans’ victory nor the Democrats’ loss have slowed down the groups or demoralized them. Both have long-term plans for the semester and the year – Democrats are attempting to work alongside the gun control lobby, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, while Republicans discussed hosting a panel on veterans’ experiences and bringing in speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos.
Sam Kebede, the president of College Democrats and a junior at Hood, said that his organization’s plans had to be adjusted after the election. As issues under their expected Clinton presidency vary from issues under the actual Trump presidency, they changed their overall approach accordingly.
Regarding Nov. 9, he said, “On campus, it was like someone had died. It was not a happy mood. On our first meeting post-election, people were not happy, some more than others.”
Kebede remains confident that his party will quickly recover from the temporary setback. Describing the Democratic Party as “the big tent party,” he said that they had the greatest potential to recruit people from all backgrounds, and hoped more people would get involved in politics as a result of the election.
Christopher Gardner, the president of College Republicans and a senior at Hood, said he was enthusiastic about President Donald Trump’s election and intended to keep that momentum going for his organization.
“I like the fact that he’s getting started immediately,” he said about Trump’s executive orders.
Gardner said that, like the other club members, the election of Trump felt “surreal” to him at the time. He suggested that the Bradley Effect, which states that people will hide unpopular beliefs during controversial elections, influenced polls to make Hillary Clinton appear more likely to win.
College Republicans are planning on holding a panel on veterans’ experiences out of the military, focusing on topics like education and PTSD. They also discussed finding a speaker for a campus event, with names like Steven Crowder and Ben Shapiro mentioned alongside personalities like Christina Hoff Sommers and Milo Yiannopoulos.
Despite their apparent rivalry with one another, the organizations often cooperate on events for Hood students. They intend to continue holding debates in the 2017 spring semester. Currently, the topic for the next debate will be health care, abortion, and euthanasia.
The two groups push past partisanship in order to keep Hood students informed on the issues. Their cooperative efforts include presenting speakers at a post-election discussion by Hood’s political science department.
With their leaders’ respective optimism guiding them, College Democrats and College Republicans seem poised to continue their work in spite of, or possibly because of, America’s polarized political climate.
“It’s detrimental to society not to talk about politics, since it affects everyone,” Kebede said. “Politics is a means by which to achieve a better society.”

New Hood club gets 100K to invest

Students at Hood College can now play the stock market and directly learn how investing works, due to the implementation of the Blazing Alpha Fund.
The Fund contains $100,000 allotted by the Board of Trustees for use by students pursuing business or accounting majors. All of the money for the Fund was provided by donors. The fund is managed almost entirely by the students themselves, with minimal input from faculty or administrators.
Students in MGMT 370, also known as Investment Practicum, analyze the trends of the market in their weekly class. With some guidance from Prof. Matthew McGreevy, the instructor, they choose the amount to invest and what to invest it in.
Nigol Keurkunian, a student and founding member of the program, said that the Fund was intended “to promote the skills and interest of students, and teach them about the financial industry through real world investments.”
The first investment by students was made near the end of January 2017. Investments are divided by sector and handled by different students. Currently, there are six sectors that students can focus on: energy, industrial, financial, IT (technology), consumer, and healthcare.
The Fund and class were first discussed as possibilities with the construction of the Rosenstock trade room in fall 2015. The Blazer Reinvestment Club, a predecessor to the class, began in spring 2016, just as work began on the Fund.
According to the Fund’s initial report, its end goal is to “become an educational tool for years to come and increase the esteem of the finance program at the college.”