Sidewalk Critics

Originally published in the Weal (2017), DeSales University’s literary magazine. 

She keeps her head low
to avoid eye contact
from the strangers walking by.

But she is very aware
of those around her.
They judge her
while she mistrusts them.

They whistle.

Eyes sweep up and down her body,
examining her looks,
her petite size,
that could easily be overtaken.

So she walks faster,
heels click the sidewalk louder.
Her fingers grip the cold metal keys harder.

She unlocks the door.

Inside of her car,
her muscles relax.
She finally…

exhales.

Students present on body image, sexual assault at LVAIC Women & Gender Studies conference

Originally published in Issue 13, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (April 13, 2017). Click here to view the entire issue.

Senior Jennifer Thuss and junior Lauren Trumbull, both communication majors at DeSales University, presented at the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC) annual Women & Gender Studies conference on Saturday, March 25 at Muhlenberg College.

Students from LVAIC schools, which include Cedar Crest College, DeSales University, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Moravian College and Muhlenberg College, along with Albright College and Kutztown University, presented research papers, videos, artwork, photography, poetry and dances.

GenderConf

Presenters Lauren Trumbull (far left) and Jennifer Thuss (second from the right) are supported by their friends Kimberly Semiday (second from the left) and Nadia Murray (far right). Photo courtesy of Dr. Katherine Grasso

Thuss and Trumbull both presented research papers that they wrote in their gender communication class from last semester. Thuss’s paper was “The Effects of Media Images on Young Girls” and she presented in the “Visual Culture” panel.

Thuss chose this topic because it’s something she’s always been passionate about throughout college. The main idea of her paper was how the media portrays bodies as unrealistic, which can have negative outcomes on young girls.

She hopes what audience members took away from her presentation is “that models in the media do not always look as they do in the picture,” said Thuss. “Photoshopping can completely change the appearance. Also, that media exposure should be limited for young girls since they are most susceptible to the images at a young age.”

Trumbull’s research paper was also a heavy topic, entitled “Sexual Assault on College Campuses and Its Effects on Reporting.” She presented in the “Gendered Bodies” panel.

Her presentation included statistics, such as that only 75 percent of colleges and universities have a procedure in place for reporting sexual assault. She explained victims aren’t reporting “because they know their documentation won’t result in punishment for the perpetrator.”

Trumbull also discussed the implementation of the Clery Act, which was put into place by the government and requires academic institutions to disclose data regarding campus crimes every year.

She explained how institutions skew their data to hide the real numbers of sexual assault on campuses. Other major points of her presentation included the impact of fraternities and sororities on hyper-masculinity, traditional gender roles and believing in rape myths.

After watching the documentary “The Hunting Ground” on sexual assault for her gender communication course, Trumbull knew she wanted to focus on this topic for her paper.

“Watching this documentary shocked and horrified me,” she said. “It made me realize that I wanted more information on this issue so that I could learn more and maybe someday help make the statistics on sexual assault drop.”

Trumbull hopes audience members learned that sexual assault on college campus is a major problem and conversations are needed to fix that problem.

“We need to be open and honest and facilitate an environment in which victims feel comfortable to disclose their assault,” said Trumbull. “We need to start punishing our perpetrators and send the message that sexual assault is not at all acceptable, and that the victim is never to blame.”

Thuss and Trumbull both enjoyed meeting other presenters at the conference who also shared an interest in gender studies.

“I was surrounded by mostly women—maybe one or two men—that are intelligent and kind, and worked so hard to present on what they are passionate about,” said Trumbull.

“All of the women were nothing but supportive and gave me the sweetest compliments after I presented,” she added. “The environment was just overall proud. We were proud of each other for standing up and speaking and proud of ourselves for having the courage to do it.”

Thuss, who is also president of The Birkenstocks (gender club), was inspired by a presentation on an online blog called Her Campus, a global online community for college women.

“They explained how it worked and how to bring it to DeSales so I think it’s definitely something that the gender club will look into starting,” said Thuss.

Additionally, Thuss, Trumbull and Nadia Murray, all members of The Birkenstocks, plus senior Kimberly Semiday, volunteered at the conference by checking in guests and participants, and stuffing their welcome bags.

Next spring, the annual Women & Gender Studies conference will be held at DeSales with Dr. Katherine Grasso, communication professor and Birkenstocks advisor, serving as the conference chair.

Muslim student Ayesha Riaz’s powerful message

Originally published in Issue 13, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (April 13, 2017). Click here to view the entire issue.

Ayesha

Photo courtesy of Ayesha Riaz

Senior biology major Ayesha Riaz embodied bravery and courage as the only Muslim student to compete for the Academic Excellence Address this year.

Due to the anti-Muslim sentiment that is present around the world today, Riaz felt fear being the only Pakistani, Muslim student competing in a competition that was primarily white, Catholic students.

Riaz moved to the United States from Pakistan two years ago. She struggled with having to learn English and becoming accustomed to the cultural differences in the U.S. She plans for a future in the medical field as a physician assistant and knew she would need English to succeed, so she challenged herself and taught herself English.

During her struggles with the language, she never imagined having the opportunity to compete for the Academic Excellence Address.

“The presence of my professors on the day of the speech to support me, gave me a sense of strength and energy, which I probably can’t express in words,” said Riaz.

Riaz’s speech explained her adjustment from moving from Pakistan to the U.S.

“The gist of my speech was, ‘We can conquer the world following the virtues of perseverance.’ We can achieve whatever we desire in life if we’re hard working, determined, honest and respectful to those who have taught us,” said Riaz.

After the first round of the competition was over, Riaz was unsure if she would move on to the next round, and was moved with emotions to hear that she made it through.

“I was uncertain about how much support I might receive because I am a Muslim student in these uncertain times,” she said. “But the result announcement brought tears in my eyes and totally changed my perspective about DeSales’ faculty and made me feel proud that I became a part of this institution where decisions are made on the basis of capabilities and talent, and not on the basis of race and religion.”

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“So many people have shown me compassion and love, and I realized that they really care about me and they don’t consider me a bad person as being a Muslim,” Riaz adds.

Riaz had two main reasons for competing in the Academic Excellence Address. She recalls her first day at DeSales in the admissions office where she saw a photo of Madame Benazir Bhutto, the 12th Prime Minister of Pakistan and the first Muslim woman to head a Muslim majority nation.

“She lectured in DeSales University once, and that was such an inspiring moment to me,” said Riaz. “So I prayed to God, and I want to see my photo or name plaque on the wall of this intuition as a Muslim woman due to my accomplishments.”

Her other main reason for competing was to be able to express her thoughts and thank the people who have helped her succeed at DeSales the past two years.

“I really could not have accomplished all this without their help and support. So, this speech was just a way to pay tribute to all those people especially my family and teachers who have helped me going through tough times,” she said.

Riaz made it to the second round of the competition where she delivered her speech to the Academic Oversight Committee, which is made up of the five division heads; the deans of undergraduate education, graduate education and lifelong learning; and the Provost.

Junior pharmaceutical marketing major Jenna Haydt was selected the winner of the competition and will be giving the Academic Excellence Address at the Academic Excellence Celebration on Sunday, April 23 at 1:30 p.m. in Connelly Chapel. She will be awarded a prize of $500.

Lastly, Riaz wishes DeSales would have a club specifically for Muslim or International students who move to the U.S. in order to help them with the different cultural, religious and academic backgrounds they are exposed to and make their transition easier.

“In the end, I would like to say, I love this institution and I wish I could stay here longer, but this institution taught me way beyond my expectations and made me a strong and confident person who can now confront all challenges,” said Riaz.

 

April Fools: DSU PD breaks up St. Patty’s Day party, finds a leprechaun

Originally published in Issue 12, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (March 30, 2017). 

Once upon a freezing Friday night, a lucky four-leaf clover was buried under a foot of snow. Students clad with green walked right by it to the party, never knowing it was there.

This was not the “luck o’ the Irish” kind of night.

At approximately 11:00 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, campus PD busted into Finnegan, the more Irish sounding of the two villas, to break up a party featuring your typical green beer and the cheapest vodka college students can afford.

“When the police showed up, I said, ‘You’ve got the wrong holiday. This isn’t Halloween,’” said freshman Scott Land. “Then I realized it was campus PD and I was out the window faster than you can say, ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.’”

Most students were not fast enough to make it out the window, and the police wrote up 37 students.

“The cops took our names and now I have to pay a fine plus complete community service for underage drinking,” said sophomre Al Coholic.

“The party was definitely worth it though. Everyone who’s anyone was there,” he adds.

Sources confirm that yes, everyone was there, except the other 1,500 plus undergraduate students at the University.

“The party was lit,” said one of the officers Paul Ice. “It was a shame we had to bust the party, but I managed to swipe some delicious guacamole on the way out.”

Outside of Finnegan, the police saw a short man with red hair, a beard and a green sequined top hat prancing around the grassy fields.

“He did not look like a student, so we decided to investigate, which led to a full-fledged pursuit,” said Ice.

“Think ‘Fast and the Furious,’ but on foot instead of cars,” he adds.

Three police officers chased the dwarf-sized man, who they presumed to be leprechaun, all around campus.

“‘Fast and the Furious?’ More like kindergarteners on a goose chase,” scoffs senior Jen Eric.

After chasing the leprechaun around Labuda to Trexler and circling the Jesus statue approximately six times, the chase continued across the wide- open space of the McShea Mall.

This is where the police lost him.

“Small legs, fast runner,” explains another officer, Percy Veer.

The police continued to do a sweep of the Mall and found a black pot. It was heavy when the police picked it up.

“We thought it was filled with a gold,” said Veer. “A Saint Patrick’s Day miracle.”

However, upon opening the lid, they discovered black hunks of coal.

“Wrong holiday, again!” shouted Land.

The leprechaun has been causing havoc on campus for the past two weeks now by putting extra bacon on students’ cheeseburgers, adding money to students’ Paw Bucks accounts and slipping candy into backpacks.

Sightings of leprechaun should be reported to campus PD immediately. The mayhem must be stopped.

DeSales alumna Anne Gurtowski opens Apple Mill Bakery

Originally published in Issue 11, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (March 23, 2017). Click here to view the entire issue. 

Anne

Photo courtesy of Anne Gurtowski

After only a year and half after graduation, ’15 alumna Anne Gurtowski opened her own business Apple Mill Bakery in Cullman, Ala.

“The bakery was my pipe dream for a long time, and I always thought if it ever happened, it would be a long way off. I’m really grateful that I have to opportunity to do this now,” says Gurtowski. “God is very generous.”

Gurtowski majored in marketing at DeSales and always liked the idea of starting her own business.

“Having classes in subjects such as accounting, finance, management, marketing and business law, has helped me to have a well-rounded approach to the small business world,” says Gurtowski.

Before deciding on opening a bakery, Gurtowski considered other businesses, but says baking was always her dream and held importance to her at a young age.

“My grandma would let me help her bake from the time I was old enough to hold the spoon or put sprinkles on her cookies. I grew up helping both her and my mom bake,” she says. “My mom definitely inherited Grandma’s love of baking, and they both passed it down to me. Some of my best memories growing up are with them in the kitchen.”

Many of Apple Mill Bakery’s recipes are from Gurtowski’s Irish grandmother and some of her recipe cards are written in her grandma’s hand.

AppleMill

Apple Mill Bakery offers a wide variety of delicious homemade cookies including raspberry thumbprint, spritz, congo bars, and rugelach. Photo courtesy of Anne Gurtowski

Some of her grandma’s most iconic recipes include congo bars and crumbcake. Apple Mill Bakery’s cookie tins are the most popular item and are a great gift around the holidays. All of the bakery’s items are made from scratch and have no added preservatives.

“I think something is lost when food is made in large factories with a lot of added ingredients. The people element is missing,” says Gurtowski. “I want my customers to know that real people who care about what they do make the food.”

Before opening the bakery in November 2016, a lot of work and planning needed to be done. There are many health regulations that need to be met, accounts to set up, paperwork to file and construction of the commercial kitchen.

Gurtowski says opening a business was full of new challenges, but has advice for young entrepreneurs.

“Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t open your own business; you’re too young and you don’t have the experience. Just try it. You’ll never know if it will work unless you try. It’s all a process and a learning experience.”

“I think it’s important to find what makes you happy in life and pursue it. Find a way to do what will make you feel fulfilled at the end of each day,” she adds.

Currently, Apple Mill Bakery is housed in a commercial kitchen, but Gurtowski is hoping to move into a full-fledge storefront in the future. Right now, business is mainly done on their Etsy, which can be reached at applemillbakery.com, and also local farmers’ markets.

This spring the bakery will widen the reach of local farmers’ markets, which are expanding and growing in popularity.

“People want to buy local, support small businesses, and know exactly where their food is coming from. It’s a good match for our commitment to fresh, made-from-scratch food,” says Gurtowski.

They are also looking into various wholesale opportunities, such as becoming a supplier to local restaurants.

As a small business owner, Gurtowski enjoys the variety and different hats she gets to wear.

“On Monday, I could be doing R&D [research and development] for new products. By the time Friday roles around, I’ve been a food photographer, lead marketing manager, and as always, head baker, which is my favorite role,” she says. “It’s a lot of work, but I wouldn’t change it.”

Gurtowski is thankful for her family who has been very involved in the process of opening Apple Mill Bakery and loves that she gets to share her passion with the rest of the world.

“Baking to me is an extension of family life,” she says. “Food brings people together.”

For DeSales students and alumni interested in purchasing from Apple Mill Bakery, use the code DSU10 for a special discount rate on applemillbakery.com.