Lance Leipold: Leaving

Whitewater Warhawks head football coach Lance Leipold was announced Monday to be leaving the school after this season for the same position at the University of Buffalo, taking two additional faculty with him.

A former Warhawk quarterback himself, Leipold, 50, has been head coach at Whitewater since 2007; in the seven years since, he has won the university six national championships.  During his 106-game tenure, the team suffered a mere six losses, the recent landslide victory against the Eau Claire Blugolds making Leipold the fastest head coach in NCAA history to reach the hundredth-win milestone.  However, with the announcement of his departure, some concern has been raised as to the future of the team.

“Lance was the best football coach I’ve had yet,” said Warhawks offensive lineman Austin Jones.  Jones began playing for Whitewater when he transferred here as a sophomore in the fall of 2013.

“He worked us hard, but he was fair and he was smart,” Jones elaborated.  “My first season on his team ended up being my first national championship to boot.  There aren’t a lot of people who can pull [off] something like that.  I think it’ll be hard to do it again without him.”

Linebacker Zak Kurtz also had positive words to say about Leipold.

“He really connects with the players.  If you talk to [other teams’ players] you’ll hear some of them say how Whitewater’s players seem to have a stronger bond with their coaches.”  Kurtz, 21, expressed his doubts that a new coach could simply inherit the unity of the team from Leipold.

“Personally, I’m not too worried for them,” said former Warhawk defensive tackle Brandon Hanke.  “[Leipold] is a great coach, don’t get me wrong…but, in the end, it’s [the players] out on the field that are going to win the game.  We won [national championships] before he was head coach, and we can do it again.”

Leah Harms, Events Coordinator for Whitewater’s Intercollegiate Athletics department, expressed a more short-term concern.

“The next season, the seasons after that, that’s not a problem to me,” said Harms.  “I would be more concerned with the timing of the announcement.  We’re in the middle of the playoffs, we have a title to defend again, and now the players find out it’s [Leipold’s] last season, that puts a lot more pressure on them to perform well and do him proud.”

As Winston Churchill once said, “It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead.  The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.”  Whether the Warhawks can hold (or reclaim) their title after Leipold’s departure remains to be seen; for now, it is best to enjoy the rest of the season without too much worry.

“Lance taught us a ton,” said Kurtz.  “All we can do is take what he taught us and move forward with it.  And I’m sure that’s all he wants.”

Leipold will finish out the 2014 season with the Warhawks before coaching the Bills.  His replacement as head coach has not yet been announced.

Jobs’ Commencement Speech: Faith, Love, Loss and Dying

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer, Inc., gave his much-anticipated commencement speech to the Stanford graduating class of 2005 on Sunday.  Jobs drew heavily on his own life experiences to tell three stories to the graduates, emphasizing the power behind blind faith, passion for what you do, and the inescapable reality of death.

The first story, which Jobs called “Connecting the Dots,” began with Jobs’ adoption at birth, fifty years ago.  Upon learning that neither of his adoptive parents had graduated from college, Jobs’ biological family only allowed the adoption under the condition that their son would one day attend college.  Jobs did attend Reed college, but dropped out after half a year, deciding to “trust that it would all work out OK.”

While he admitted that it was an unnerving experience, Jobs stands by dropping out as one of the best decisions he ever made.  Living on 5¢ Coke bottle deposits and the hospitality of his peers, Jobs saw the freedom his choice had given him, and began auditing classes that suited his personal interests, rather than a career obligation.  Courses such as calligraphy, while having no apparent practical application, resurfaced later in Jobs’ life as useful skills to the creation of the first Macintosh computer.  This, explained Jobs, is an example of the power of blind faith: if you trust that everything will work out, it will give you the courage to pursue your dreams.

“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward,” said Jobs.  “You can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

Jobs’ second story, concerning love and loss, emphasized perseverance.  He explained how he created Apple Computer, Inc. from the humble beginnings of a garage, only to lose it to John Sculley in the event of a schism.  Though he initially felt that he had personally failed the software tycoons that came before him (going so far as to try to apologize to Robert Noyce and David Packard), Jobs stuck to his guns, going on to found both Pixar animation studio and NeXT, Inc., and meeting his future wife, Laurene Powell.  Rather than leaving Silicon Valley, Jobs kept doing what he loved, eventually returning to Apple when the company purchased NeXT and integrating his new company’s technology into his original ideas to make the Macintosh computer even more successful than before.

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking,” said Jobs.  “Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

Jobs’ third and final anecdote was about death.  He described death as life’s “change agent,” the one guarantee that life on earth can give us.  Telling the story of his pancreatic cancer diagnosis, Jobs explained that in coming close to death, he discovered how powerful of a motivator it could be.  Though his cancer was found to be a rare, easily treated variety, the ordeal left him with that discovery, which he shared with the graduates on Sunday.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose,” said Jobs.  “You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

In closing, Jobs gave a brief history of Stewart Brand’s The Whole Earth Catalog, of which he was an avid reader.  Likening it to the paperback precursor to Google, Jobs described the back cover of the publication’s final issue: a picture of a country road in the early morning, above the words “Stay Hungry.  Stay Foolish.”  The quote has stood out to Jobs and inspired him since 1974.

“It was their farewell message as they signed off,” explained Jobs.  “Stay hungry.  Stay foolish.  And I have always wished that for myself.  And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.  Stay hungry.  Stay foolish.  Thank you all very much.”

Boxes and Walls: The Oppression Experience

                Following its sleeper-hit success in 2013, Reslife has once again opened the doors to its interactive event Boxes and Walls, located inside Esker dining hall.  A diversity event, Boxes and Walls was designed to promote awareness of minority groups and their struggles with discrimination in everyday life.

                “It’s meant to put you in their shoes,” said Trevor Gibbons, second-year Residence Assistant in Wells West.  “You get to feel and experience some of the prejudice and hardships that these different people deal with, and it makes you think.”

*Boxes and Walls opened on Monday, October 13, at 6:00 p.m.  Small groups of participants are led through a series of six rooms, similar to a haunted house.  Each room represents a different minority group, and showcases the type of treatment that they receive from their peers.  Represented groups include the physically disabled, the socio-economically underprivileged, and racial groups such as the African-American and Latino communities.

Gibbons had also attended the event in 2013, and was pleased to find that the program had been updated since the previous year.

“The African-American room was more of a classroom environment last year,” said Gibbons.  “This time they showed news clips, videos, [and] highlighted the Trayvon Martin and Ferguson issues.  The LGBT room was also much more intense this year.”

Each room saw participants harassed continually by the Reslife workers stationed within them.  During the disability room’s wheelchair training, students were shouted at to move faster, while in the socio-economic room, they were berated for holding little wealth.

“I really liked the Latino room,” said Nia-Nicole Mitchell, sophomore and first-year Residence Assistant.  “They made you sit down and take a citizenship test, but the instructions were in Spanish, and obviously not everyone can read Spanish.  Then they’d yell at you for something like using the wrong kind of pen.”

After spending about twenty minutes in each room, students are brought into one final area, where a group discussion is opened about their experiences of the night.  Some students felt enlightened, while others felt ashamed of unknowingly perpetuating the oppression that they were subjected to.  Janix Varnell-Rodriguez, sophomore, spoke highly of the program and her experience.

“I’m black and Puerto Rican…a lot of this was familiar to me,” said Varnell-Rodriguez.  “It was nice to see what other people thought of it.  It made people uncomfortable, and I hope that helps them be more aware of the reality of some of those rooms.  I think everybody should go through this.”

Boxes and Walls runs through Thursday, October 16, at Esker dining hall.

“Financial Emergency” in Kittatinny

At 10 a.m. Monday, mayor Gustavus Petykiewicz held a news conference to address his proposed 2015 budget, declaring the city of Kittatinny to be in a financial emergency and citing the decommissioning of Susquehanna Steel Corporation’s blast furnace as a leading cause.

Petykiewicz’ $3.3 million proposal includes an increase in city taxes, the absorption of garbage pickup fees into the city’s water bill, and a reduction in police officers.

The proposal not only removes two full-time officers from Kittatinny’s police force, it also removes the department’s early shift, providing no Kittatinny police coverage from 4 a.m. to noon.  Instead, emergency calls will be covered by Schuylkill county officers; chief of police Roman Hruska made his disapproval known at the news conference.

“I am against this proposal,” said Hruska.  “I cannot stand idly by and watch a city of this size be deprived of regular police protection for a third of each day.”  Schuylkill county is 30 minutes from Kittatinny, making response times unfavorable in emergency situations.

While Hruska admitted that the proposed alterations were unlikely to raise the crime rate in Kittatinny, he also postulated that the outcomes of future crimes would be substantially direr, pointing out that officers are being taken off the streets for the shift that sees the most domestic disturbances.

Denelda Penoyer, president of the Kittatinny City Council, is also opposed to the proposed police coverage.  “I think we need to keep officers on the streets not just for domestic violence but for traffic accidents. They happen at all hours of the day,” Penoyer said.

While Penoyer expressed doubt that the proposal would be approved as it is, she did feel confident that a compromise was possible and would be reached soon.

Aside from the issue of police coverage, Penoyer hopes to reach an alternative to the change in garbage pickup policy.  On the other hand, she agreed with Petykiewicz’ raising of city taxes, even proposing that they raise them further to five mills; this idea was supported by Bjarne Westhoff, president of the Pennsylvania Police Association Local 644.

“I’m confident that the council won’t like this proposal,” said Westhoff.  “I’ve already made my feelings known to the mayor.”

The council has until December 1 to finalize a 2015 city budget.

Of the 600 Kittatinny jobs that were lost with the blast furnace, Petykiewicz said that he is “in touch with state and federal officials” and that this was “not the last word.”  The mayor also made his budget proposal available online, and invited citizens to contact him with their ideas and suggestions.

A full copy of the proposed budget can be found at www.kittatinny.gov.

Dangerously Shy: Avoidant Personality Disorder in the University

           For many, solitude is an observed luxury, and alone-time is coveted.  For others, such as Brandon Boesel, it is largely involuntary, and in some cases crippling.  A junior at the San Diego State University, Boesel suffers from avoidant personality disorder, the main symptom of which is a strong aversion to social interaction on even the smallest scale.  Other effects of avoidant personality disorder, or AvPD, include increased sensitivity to negative appraisal and general feelings of low self-esteem.     

Diagnosed in 2012, Boesel has since left his familiar Wisconsin upbringings to attend school in California. However, he feels that in the past two years his condition may have gotten worse.  When asked how AvPD has affected his college life, Boesel said that it was virtually impossible for him to make new friends in San Diego, and that his personal feelings of inadequacy partially led to him living with his nearby grandparents after his first year.  His place of employment was also stated to be inhibited: “I work at a restaurant, and there’s a lot of talking to strangers involved…I get really nervous, if it gets crowded then sometimes I’ll take a break to calm down.”

Boesel went on to explain that it took a long time and substantial effort to make and maintain the interpersonal relationships he had in high school, and that the drastic change of environment caused him to depend on them even further.

“I don’t know anyone for miles besides my grandparents,” said Boesel.  “Almost all of my spare time is spent playing videogames or reading…any time I get to talk to a friend is a godsend.”

Boesel is currently looking into counseling and therapy options with his university, and encourages all those who might suffer from such AvPD to do the same.  When asked how to approach someone who may have an avoidant personality disorder, Boesel’s answer was simple: kindly.

“They’re a million times more scared of you than you are of them.  Just be patient and don’t push them into situations that make them uncomfortable.”