Sexual assault program opens consent conversation

October 7, 2015 12:00 PM


When juniors Claire Van Treeck and Xavier Quinn became Executive Vice Presidents of Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council respectively last semester, they decided to make sexual assault prevention a part of their role.

“We work every semester to educate new members and current members on scholarship, alcohol awareness and hazing prevention. Sexual assault is what we decided to focus on this year,” Van Treeck said.

The councils found this focus imperative to the Greek community.

“(Sexual assault programming) is something we thought was really important, as almost 35 percent of the student body is Greek,” Van Treeck said. “We thought that with such a large population we should really try and lead the conversation on campus regarding sexual assault. We were looking for way to have this conversation.”

Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council decided to lead this conversation by bringing Mike Domitrz to campus to present his program, titled “Can I Kiss You?”

The program is aimed to inform college campuses about consent, bystander intervention, and how to help sexual assault survivors.

Domitrz’s interactive program opened with a scenario of people at a party. He continued the rest of the program by walking through different scenarios that people may encounter.

One of the points Domitrz z brought up was the excuses people use as bystanders. One was that is none of students’ businesses and the other was that students do not want to block their friends. For Domitrz, these aren’t excuses.

“It is in your DNA to naturally care about other human beings,” Domitrz said. “Human beings do not fear confrontation if they believe it is worth it. Each person is worth protecting.”

Domitrz also encouraged students to call these “hookups” sexual assault instead.

“Call it what it is and people are going to change,” Domitrz said. “When you call it what it is no one ever denies they are not responsible.”

The responsibility that Domitrz stressed was one of the reason that Panhellenic council not only wanted to focus on sexual assault, but brought in Domitrz.

“Our mission exists until there are no more sexual assaults on campuses,” Van Treeck said. “We should be the ones to stand up and make the change.”

Sorority, fraternity game shut down in light of recent events

10:00 AM


For the past several years, the fraternity Theta Chi and sorority Delta Gamma have played a game named ‘Fall Kill.’ The game involved members shooting each other with water guns to eliminate them from the game. Once shot with water, a member is out of the game. The team with the most ‘kills’ wins. “We had a discussion with the fraternity and sorority presidents who were running the event,” Director of Public Safety Scott Law said. “In light of recent events in the Drake neighborhood, as well as some of the security concerns that we had, it might not be the best idea to play a game called ‘Fall Kill.’


‘Low crime means no crime’

8:00 AM


The annual report on campus crime was released last Wednesday by Drake University’s Department of Public Safety, giving students comprehensive and quantifiable data on crime both on and off Drake’s campus.

“I think (the report) gives people an idea of what’s happening so they can take reasonable precautions and reasonable steps to provide for their own safety,” said Director of Public Safety Scott Law.

“I think that in conjunction with the timely warnings and Bulldog Alerts, (it) gives people a good idea of what their concerns should be,” Law said.


What’s the deal with the ESPN deal?

October 3, 2015 11:00 AM


Drake University Athletics and the Missouri Valley Conference recently announced they have finalized a partnership with ESPN3, an online only platform of the ESPN network.

Starting in October, all women’s volleyball games as well as men’s and women’s basketball games will be available to stream via ESPN3.

Not only is this a chance to heighten exposure for Drake and other MVC teams, but also an experience opportunity for students in the Valley.

Students will be responsible for not only filming the games but will have a hand in the production as well. Students will also help create graphics and direct productions.

The experience the students are gaining is different from the average college job. They will be working on a professional broadcast that can be viewed worldwide.

Terrence Thames, the Creative Services Coordinator for Drake University, is excited about the possibilities it will open up to students.

“Everything we’re doing is the exact same as ESPN.” Thames said. “We’re running an ESPN broadcast…. Giving students these opportunities is how they will set themselves apart in a crowded market.”

David Wright, an Associate Professor at the Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication, agrees with Thames.

“We love practical experience, so it’s a match made in heaven,” Wright said.

Wright would like to eventually see students not only running the production behind the scenes but in front of the camera as well.

Thus could be happening as early as next spring in terms of shadowing and training to start as soon as the basketball season begins.

Wright is confident that Drake students can handle the level of professionalism it takes to be a talent for ESPN.

At the same time, Wright, as well as Drake Communications, is hoping that ESPN will take advantage of the opportunity and increased audience offered by the MVC.

Mark Lesser, the interim coordinator of Creative Services, is excited to be working with students who are new to the field.

“In some ways, it’s better than working with veterans,” Lesser said. “(The students) are passionate about what they do and learning the new technology.”

While a completely student-run production is exciting in many ways, there is also a hindrance in the size of the staff. The Creative Services team consists of only 35 students of varying educational backgrounds.

In the coming months, however, Thames and Lesser both worry about moving from staffing seven to staffing 15 students per game. While it will be a transition at first, the prospect of expanding the Creative Services staff is welcomed.

To become a part of the Creative Services team, or for more information about The Valley on ESPN3, students can contact Terrence Thames at

Caucus Roundup: Constitutional Conundrums

October 2, 2015 6:17 PM


This month we celebrate Constitution Day, the little-known, oft-ignored anniversary of our nation’s guiding principles, source of authority, and contentious legal document. This campaign cycle, and in politics in general, the Constitution has been constantly misrepresented. Candidates have been rehashing its meaning from every possible direction to reinterpret it in a way favorable to them.

To honor the Constitution, why not fact-check some of the more absurd claims from current candidates about our Constitution and its meaning?

As with everything Donald Trump has done, his claims about the Constitution have been both dumbfounding and far outside the mainstream. His main constitutional claim recently has been that the Fourteenth Amendment does not support birthright citizenship. Birthright citizenship is the idea that being born within a country’s borders entitles that newborn to citizenship within that country. Trump, the tonsorially-challenged frontrunner in the GOP race, has sedulously declared that the Fourteenth Amendment does not provide such rights to people born in the United States. This claim has become an extension of his more extreme immigration policy.

So what does the Fourteenth Amendment actually say? The first sentence of it reads, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” The more turbid part of this clause is “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” This has been widely interpreted to mean subject to the laws of the United States.

This interpretation was clarified by the Supreme Court case United States v. Wong Kim Ark. In it, the only exemptions were, “children born to foreign diplomats, to hostile occupying forces or on foreign public ships, and . . . children of Indians owing direct allegiance to their tribes,” according to the Congressional Research Service. The Supreme Court ruling also added, that the Fourteenth Amendment “has conferred no authority upon Congress to restrict the effect of birth, declared by the Constitution to constitute a sufficient and complete right to citizenship.”

It would seem that no matter how Mr. Trump claims to interpret it, the Fourteenth Amendment ensures birthright citizenship definitively.

Another claim has been posited by Carly Fiorina in her quest to use the momentum of political outsiders to seize the White House. In her announcement speech, she alleged that, “our founders never intended us to have a professional political class.”

Given that James Madison, the chief architect of the Constitution, joined the Virginia legislature at the age of 25 and spent the rest of his career as a state representative, secretary of state, and president, the claim seems immediately dubious.

In fact, looking at the meeting minutes of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia makes the claim’s veracity seem nonexistent. Many of the Founding Fathers wholeheartedly supported a cohort of professional politicians as a bulwark against uneducated masses moved like reeds by the gales of prevailing whims.

Elbridge Gerry, an eventual Congressman, governor, and vice president, argued that, “The people are uninformed and would be misled by a few designing men.” James Madison argued that ordinary people “were liable to temporary errors, thro’ want of information as to their true interest, and that men chosen for a short term, & employed but a small portion of that in public affairs, might err from the same cause.”

To him, people who were not career politicians would not have the knowledge of policy to govern successfully. Those who were only employed for “a small portion” of time in government could not possibly understand the intricacies and consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, Ms. Fiorina’s claim does not seem to withstand scrutiny.

The last, and most pervasive, assertion amongst candidates and politicians is the purpose of the Constitution.

At the second Republican debate, Rand Paul said, “I spend my days defending the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I think there’s nothing more important than understanding that the Constitution restrains government, not the people.” To celebrate Constitution Day, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah argued, “the Constitution limits government in order to preserve freedom.”

However, the notes on the Constitutional Convention make such a pervicacious interpretation less certain.

At the time of the Convention, the Articles of Confederation, a quaggy, festinated form of government, provided the national government few powers and little ability to govern effectively. In order to maintain order amongst the states and put down rebellions, more power had to be delegated to the federal level.

At the time, eventual Supreme Court justice, James Wilson said, “The great fault of the existing confederacy is its inactivity. It has never been a complaint [against Congress] that they governed too little. To remedy this defect we were sent here.” James Madison, when debating one proposal, was very concerned about a weak national government, saying, “Will it prevent encroachments on the federal authority? A tendency to such encroachments has been sufficiently exemplified, among ourselves.”

The purpose for the Constitution was not to limit or reduce the powers of government, but instead to meaningfully expand them and provide safeguards for the federal government, and not to leave “the will of the States as uncontrouled [sic] as ever.”

In case there was any remaining doubt, Madison truly drives the point home when demanding that a strong national government is necessary, because of “the propensity of the States to pursue their particular interests in opposition to the general interest. This propensity will continue to disturb the system, unless effectually controuled [sic].”

Certainly, the federal government is delegated certain powers and the Tenth Amendment ensures that unlisted powers are the areas of the states, but the purpose of the constitution was not to limit it. However much Rand Paul or other politicians may want to change the fundamental truths of the Constitution, the history and primary sources make it all too clear, that the Constitutional Convention was designed to dramatically increase the power of the national government.

It should be noted that the reason Democratic presidential candidates have not made it onto this list is due in large part to the absence of any sort of interpretations from them as to what our Founders intended. Although Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley have all proposed constitutional amendments, none of them have looked to the past to legitimize their policy positions. Instead they tend to choose to shy away from tradition and toward change.

Regardless of your affiliations or preferences, it is important to understand our guidelines of politics and the rules of engagement. Also, do not forget to be wary of those who seem too eager to invoke the constitution to make their point for them.

Caucus Roundup: The Clinton Empire Strikes Back

6:14 PM


A long time ago in an unsuspecting political galaxy, Hillary Clinton reigned supreme. At the time, she waited for a coronation not only for the Democratic nomination but for the presidency itself as well.

Now things remain much more nebulous. The political machine she controls has had more than a few wrenches thrown into its cogs.

The most notable and apparent problem for Clinton’s hegemony is Bernie Sanders. After being perceived to be stalled by the epithet of “socialist,” Bernie Sanders has worked extensively to create a grassroots layer of support without many of the contacts within the Democratic Party that other candidates might have. Because he has been an independent or third party candidate for his entire political career, Bernie Sanders was too far outside of the mainstream to be taken seriously by most.

However, as Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina can also testify, being seen as the outsider of any sort of establishment is a huge boon in the 2016 cycle. The exact qualifications that made Clinton fit for the presidency (first lady, senator, Secretary of State) have become associated with a politics-as-usual phobia.

In addition, Clinton has been riddled with scandals that seem unbecoming of a person running as the presupposed nominee. After running her State Department through a private email account and private server, many have questioned her trustworthiness. In addition, it has come to light that some of the emails on that server were considered classified under certain definitions. Other emails deemed “personal” by Clinton’s lawyers were deleted entirely, making inquiry into Clinton’s tenure as secretary more turbid.

The Clinton Foundation run by Hillary, Bill, and Chelsea Clinton has also been associated with questionable accounting methods. In addition, it accepted foreign donations while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State that critics are concerned may have influenced her actions as the United States’ head diplomat.

To handle the insurgent support for the policy-focused Sanders, Clinton seems to be waging a war on many, varying fronts.

The primary concern for Clinton at this point is the continuing damage of her email policy while Secretary of State. Although Clinton has tried to explain her policies on many occasions, her answers have yet to satisfy the general public.

Her early responses were often to blame right-wingers as using this as a purely politically motivated attack. When asked why she had set up a private server for her state department emails, Clinton has repeatedly cited the convenience of using one email account, but many point to the breach of security and lack of transparency as obviously inconvenient now for her long-term plans.

Clinton has always stated that she was well within her rights to use a private email address and that no classified information was passed through it; however, in recent weeks, the CIA has concluded that the information designation of communiques over the North Korean nuclear weapons program sent over her private email account were labeled “Top Secret,” the highest possible level of security.

To counter these more recent revelations and accusations, Clinton gave an interview to Andrea Mitchell where she apologized “that this has been so confusing for people.” While not a full apology, it is the first time Clinton said, “I’m sorry” with regard to her email policies.

However, it was also useful for Clinton to go on the offensive. Clinton seized the opportunity to advance her domestic agenda items of pay equity for women, increased child care, and paid maternity leave. Unlike her 2008 campaign, Clinton has embraced fully her potential to become the first female president as a selling point of her candidacy and strengthened her progressive platform with feminist planks.

In addition to her standard rebukes of Republican positions, mostly centered around comparing all candidates to the eccentricity of Trump, she also was able to subtly jab at Bernie Sanders. Although Hillary Clinton has yet to even mention Senator Sanders full name in any of her limited interviews, she managed to take a stance against his style of campaigning without mentioning him.

Now famous for his policy-driven, no rhetorical chaff style, Sanders has always been principled in his socialist leanings. Seeming to refute his perspective, Clinton said, “I started out listening, because I think you can come with your own ideas and you can wave your arms and give a speech, but at the end of the day, are you connecting with and really hearing what people are either saying to you or wishing what you would say to them?”

Continuing that theme, Clinton delivered a speech in front of Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Committee meeting in Minneapolis where she said, “other candidates may be fighting for a particular ideology, but I’m fighting for you and your families.” In addition to that, she leaned heavily on “women’s issues” as the recurring policy items she wanted to advance.

At the Minneapolis summit, Clinton also included campaign finance reform and straight ticket campaigning which had previously been more minor aspects of her campaign, especially given the quantity of multimillion dollar donations she and her super PACs have received. However, campaign finance reform, along with income inequality and climate change, has always been one of the three main planks of Sanders’ presidential run.

In addition to these veiled invectives, Clinton also seems to have initiated an attack using her political allies. Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, has said, “I wholeheartedly endorse Hillary Clinton’s campaign for President.” Recently, he has also begun turning that support into acrimony, commenting to reporters that, “I don’t think there’s any comparison between Hillary Clinton’s credentials and qualifications and positions, and Bernie Sanders.”

Clinton’s campaign headquartered from Brooklyn, New York has paid the travel cost for other proxies of the campaign like Sen. Claire McCaskill, Rep. Joaquin Castro, and Gov. Dannel Malloy.

McCaskill has said, “I think the question that some of us have is can someone who has said, ‘I’m not a Democrat,’ has chosen the title of socialist, is that person really electable?” in an appearance on Morning Joe.

Joaquin Castro, a congressman from south Texas, made an appearance at a Mexican restaurant in Des Moines. On a trip funded by the Clinton campaign, he said Bernie Sanders “has not reached out to the Hispanic caucus in Congress, has not reached out to me.” Later on he added, “He has not visited Texas or the Rio Grande Valley…. That’s a bit of a concern.”

Connecticut governor, Dannel Malloy, has also participated in the reinvigorated Clinton onslaught. One of the few areas in which Sanders has not leaned farther left than Clinton is gun control. Sanders’ record is primarily against gun regulation because of Vermont’s heavy use of hunting-related weaponry, but he has nonetheless said that he supports more rigorous background checks and assault weapons bans nationally. However, to seize upon this perceived chink in his progressive armor, Malloy said Clinton’s “position among the Democrats is a lot more popular than his position. There’s a difference.”

These Clinton-tied operatives have all rallied against Sanders while also allowing Clinton to keep her hands clean of the intra-party fighting. She has instead worked to refine her stump speech and talking points to appeal more heavily to Democratic voters. In addition, many pundits, like John Dickerson of CBS’ Face the Nation, think that her campaigns have generally taken some time to fall into a rhythm.

Now that this rhythm has become more apparent, could we see caucus-goers and primary voters change their tune?