Middle East Peace and Prosperity Alliance (MEPPA) Visits Boston

December 3, 2014 6:00 AM


Ali Jandal, a junior Palestinian-American spends Tuesday nights with seven other Drake University students at a meeting for the Middle East Peace and Prosperity Alliance (MEPPA), discussing a variety of issues related to the Middle East.

Over the weekend of Oct. 24-26, Jandal and four other Drake students from MEPPA attended the National Students for Justice in Palestine conference at Tufts University in Boston about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

“A lot of people in our group are passionate about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and we thought it would be a good idea to send people there just to learn about what we can do as a campus to help the Palestinian cause and bring back educational tips and organizing strategies,” said Janet Eckles, a senior radio/TV production major.

“(MEPPA) wants to educate students and the Des Moines Community about issues that are going on in the Middle East, and getting people to care about those issues,” Eckles said.

The conference gave the students the opportunity to network and learn from similar student organizations.

“Students have way more power and influence on the university than they think,” Eckles said.

MEPPA is a new organization, at Drake that works closely with the American Friends Service Committee in Des Moines. A Drake intern at the organization recommended it send members to the conference.

“You kind of forget other people are there trying to support you, and believe in the cause you are trying to bring to light. You kind of feel like the only one,” Jandal said.  “Hearing from these SJPs (Students for Justice in Palestine)that are 100 members large and do all this cool stuff. It makes you know that it’s worth it … that you are working for something that’s possible.”

MEPPA secured the funds to attend the conference from the one-time funding option through student senate. The opportunity to attend the conference gave sophomore international relations major Kate Kemper a deeper insight on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and also connected the Middle Eastern issue to the United States.

“There were people from Detroit, there were people from Ferguson there,” Kemper said. “It was all kind of encompassing, and realizing that if we are going to solve one problem, we have to look at all of them, especially issues in our own country, with injustice and human rights as well.”

MEPPA meets on the second floor of Meredith at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays. The organization is currently working on developing a Know Your Rights Workshop, and hopes to work with the Coalition of Black Students to create the event on campus.

Stop Texting While Driving

November 21, 2014 6:00 AM


Daily is a junior magazines major and can be reached at marissa.daily@drake.edu

Daily is a junior magazines major and can be reached at marissa.daily@drake.edu

It’s my freshman year of college, and I jump in the car with a new friend. She climbs into the drivers’ seat and pulls out her slide phone immediately.

She texts — with two hands resting above the steering wheel — during the span of our short drive.

At the time, I was stunned. I was and still am absolutely against texting while driving.

It’s been three years since then, and things haven’t exactly improved. Despite the many campaigns and jarring TV ads to prevent it, texting while driving still causes 25 percent of all car accidents each year.

Maybe it’s the effortlessness? Gone are the days when you had to hit the keys on your Motorola Razr three times to get to the right letter. In the era of touch screens, texting is no longer painstaking: It’s fast. Easy. Simple. Or so we think.

Texting while driving is one of the things we all say we don’t do. It’s also one of society’s biggest lies. I’m guilty of it myself sometimes. The enticing ding of my iPhone in the cup holder is all it takes for the little demon on my shoulder to whisper, “Oh, it’ll only take three seconds! Take a peek!” You know what else can take three seconds? Death.

The United States Department of Transportation says the average crash happens only three seconds after the driver is distracted.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting while driving is a whopping six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.

Simple math shows that reading a text message for a mere five seconds at 55 mph is equivalent to traveling the length of a football field blindfolded.

We’ve all heard these statistics before, so why are we still texting at the wheel?

Because we, the young adults of America, are stupid.

The Ad Council reports that 77 percent of young adults are very/somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving.

This statistic is “Dumb and Dumber” worthy.

Ant yet, it’s true. Until we’re the ones in the hospital bed or standing by a casket, we think we’re above all of this. We’re good drivers. Stellar multitaskers. Experienced gurus of texting. We’ve been doing this for years. To that, I’d like to say: So what?

It only takes a second to run into a fire hydrant, get stuck in a ditch or put someone in a wheelchair.

Making risky decisions with your own life is a personal decision. When you put others in danger, it becomes everyone’s business.

So how de we stop this? It starts with the decision to completely stop texting while driving. Here are some tricks I’ve implemented to keep myself from reaching for my phone while I drive.

1. If you are in the middle of a text conversation with someone, tell them when you get in the car so they don’t expect an immediate response.

Cell phone carrier AT&T started the “It Can Wait” campaign to encourage drivers to send friends or family an X before they drive to “pause” the conversation.

2. Put your phone on silent. Hearing a text tone makes it much more difficult to resist your curiosity.

3. No more cup holders. Place your cell phone in a place you absolutely cannot reach. Not the passenger seat — FAR. AWAY.

If you need to be drastic, throw it in the back seat. Unless you are on a long commute or expecting a vital call, it can wait.

4. Commit to not even touching your phone while you drive.

Don’t scroll through Facebook at the red light. Don’t take pictures of the sunset. If you need your phone for directions, put it on a hands-free attachment.

Here’s a little extra motivation: Texting while driving is illegal in 44 states.

In Iowa, the bill banning texting while driving was signed by Gov. Chet Culver on April 1, 2010, and went into effect three months later.

It’s not just a taboo. It’s illegal, and it has been for over four years.

Remember, every time you text, you are very seriously putting your life and the lives of others in danger.

Not only that, you are encouraging others to do the same. It never would have occurred to me to text and drive if I hadn’t seen my friend do it.

When I text and drive, I’m telling my passengers that it’s perfectly safe for them to do it, too.

“Drake Lake” Causes Drainage Issues

November 13, 2014 6:00 AM


“Drake Lake” is infamous for its rolling tide, swarming waters and is the single cause of every person’s drenched shoes on a mild rainy day.

“Drake Lake” is a student-identified term for the over-flooding of Drake University’s sidewalks. The excessive amount of water on the sidewalks has caused much resentment and discussion within the student community.

“Drake Lake” is usually located near the first-year Quad buildings and the Agora. It is due to a large stream of water flowing down the sidewalks towards Forest Avenue. Usually the large amount of water pools, allowing no area to walk through. This is quite common at most universities because of the amount of rainfall and draining trouble. Drake University has tried to fix the problem through several different solutions.

Director of Facilities Mark Chambers said the facilities team tries to fix these problems annually.

“When we find areas where water ponds or stands we install drainage. For example, on the northeast corner of Olmsted a large drain was added in the sidewalk and just off the northeast edge,” Chambers said. “Also north of the water feature at the Agora you will see newer concrete. This was placed to accommodate a low spot where water pooled. All in all, we chase and repair these every year.”

Student Senate Buildings and Grounds Liaison Zachary Belvins is aware of the issue and Senate is working to fix it, but there may be some roadblocks.

“Student Senate is aware of the drainage issues throughout campus and would ideally like to fix it,” Blevins said. “However, altering the drainage system would require extensive construction across campus, possibly requiring the destruction and rebuilding of buildings in order to change the foundation for new drainage pipes. As it has been described to me, the main issue lies in Drake’s placement in terms of Des Moines’ storm drainage pipes, where the pipes fill up before our drainage is completely in there. I have full trust in Drake’s facilities and grounds staff, as they have the most information and experience with our drainage system.”

Many students wear rain boots, plastic bags around shoes or other gear to avoid getting their shoes drenched.

Some students like wearing rain boots as it can be fashionable with all different colors, shapes and sizes. However, even with the ability to wear rainproof shoes, students still become frustrated.

Sophomore Emelia Fabel sees “Drake Lake” as something that makes the university special.

“At the end of the day, it is a unique characteristic of the campus that is kind of cool, and leads to some fun stories,” Fabel said.

Chambers encourages students to call facilities if there are problems on campus.

“If they know it is flooded, plan another route,” Chambers said. “Let us know of areas that hold water at (515) 271-3955. If it is raining, especially hard, expect some water on hard surfaces both walking and driving.”

Drake Wins Thriller Over Dayton in Final Minute

November 12, 2014 4:00 PM


Running back T.J. James carries the ball during Drake's matchup against San Diego Nov. 1 at Drake Stadium. James ran a career-high 117 yards on Saturday as the Bulldogs topped Dayton, 34-20. PHOTO BY JOEL VENZKE

Running back T.J. James carries the ball during Drake’s matchup against San Diego Nov. 1 at Drake Stadium. James ran a career-high 117 yards on Saturday as the Bulldogs topped Dayton, 34-20. PHOTO BY JOEL VENZKE

Down 30-27 and facing a fourth and one at the Dayton 18-yard line with 49 seconds left, Drake head coach Rick Fox called a timeout. He had a choice to make.

Should they attempt a game-tying field goal, or try for the first down that would hopefully lead to the winning touchdown?

After meeting with his offense, Fox chose the latter.

“The guys were, ‘Coach, we got to go for it,’” Fox said.

After some tentative play on offense in the previous week’s loss to San Diego, the theme in practice leading up to Saturday was to “play reckless” — to not worry about making mistakes.

“That’s what the guys said, ‘Hey, we’re going to be reckless this week. Let’s be reckless right now and go get it done,’” Fox said. “They made that call as much as anybody, but I had a good hunch that they were going to make that call.”

He put the ball in the hands of quarterback Andy Rice. Rice took the snap and he and the Bulldog offensive line pushed forward two yards. First down.

Three plays later, Rice found receiver Michael Hudson wide open in the front left corner of the end zone. The extra point was good, and Drake had its first lead of the game with 18 seconds left, 34-30.

Caz Zyks intercepted Dayton quarterback Will Bardo’s Hail Mary try as time expired. Drake moved to 6-4 overall, and 5-2 in the Pioneer Football League.

After falling into a 14-0 hole in the first half, Drake spent nearly the entire game playing from behind.

Benefitting from excellent field position on its first drive, Dayton took only three plays to get on the board. From the Drake 24, Bardo ran a perfect zone-option, yanking his handoff back at the last second and trotting into the end zone untouched.

The Bulldog offense sputtered in the first quarter, either turning the ball over or punting to end each drive. Not to mention, Dayton tacked on another touchdown when running back Connor Kacsor broke a pair of tackles during his 28-yard burst to the end zone.

If the Bulldogs wanted to keep the game within reach, the offense needed to respond.

Drake started at its own 16-yard line after the ensuing kickoff. Rice dropped back and saw tight end Andrew Yarwood streaking up the seam, completely uncovered. It was an easy pitch-and-catch. The sophomore sprinted 84 yards for the touchdown — without a Flyer defender within 10 yards of him — to halve Dayton’s lead to 14-7.

“We ran that play because we knew it was there,” Fox said.

Fox wanted his offense to play with more maturity, to grow up, after the San Diego game. He got his wish.

“You could feel it on the sideline,” Fox said. “And that play to Andrew Yarwood really sparked us, and then we played with maturity and confidence for the rest of the game.”

The Bulldogs’ next drive was a mammoth 16-play, 96-yard march down the field. Rice and running backs T.J. James and Conley Wilkins accounted for 88 of those yards on the ground, highlighted by Rice’s 31-yard dash up the sideline. Wilkins’ one-yard plunge brought Drake within one, but the extra point did not go according to plan.

Instead of splitting the uprights, Spencer Lee’s kick was blocked. Dayton’s Cameron Stubbs scooped it up and returned it all the way to the opposite end zone. That gave Dayton a bonus two points, and the Flyers led 16-13.

Lee also had a 22-yard field goal blocked in the third quarter as Drake’s kicking woes continued. Bulldog kickers are now a combined 4-of-11 on the season.

Dayton tacked on another touchdown later in the quarter, but the Flyer offense made a crucial mistake at the end of the first half.

With 1:09 to go, Kascor took the handoff and tried the left side. Drake’s John Hugunin made the hit and jarred the ball loose. Sean Conerty fell on it, and Drake was in business at the Dayton 14 with 1:01 to go.

Rice only took three plays to find Hudson in the back of the end zone. The 10-yard touchdown pass with 44 seconds left cut the Flyer lead to 23-20.

“Whenever you score at the end of a half, going into that locker room, that momentum usually stays with you going into the second half, and it certainly did that for us, offensively,” Fox said.

Bardo hit Ross Smith for a 20-yard touchdown to open the second half, but Drake again responded late in the third.

Still relying on the ground game, Rice and the backfield paced the Bulldogs down the field. Besides an 11-yard completion to Matthew Denning, all the yardage came on the ground, culminating in another Wilkins touchdown, this time from the eight yard line.

In all, Drake rushed for an impressive 277 yards and a 5.8 yards-per-carry average. James ran for a career-high 117 yards, and Rice added 99. The 277 yards was Drake’s second-most this season, only falling behind the comical 343 yards the Bulldogs put up on Davidson Oct. 11.

With only a three-point deficit, the stage was set for the deciding fourth-down call.

The win lifted Drake to within a game of the top spot in the PFL. However, the Bulldogs will not earn the PFL’s automatic qualifier spot in the 2014 FCS playoffs. That distinction will fall to either Jacksonville or San Diego.

The best Drake can do is tie Jacksonville and San Diego at the top of the standings, but Drake lost to both teams earlier this season, so tiebreaker rules easily eliminate the Bulldogs.

In any event, the Bulldogs are in the middle of their second bye week of the season, preparing for their first-ever matchup with the Stetson Hatters next Saturday. The kickoff for the season finale is set for noon under the Florida sun.

“It’s going to be a week of focusing on the little things and perfecting them for the last game,” Fox said. “I think our guys are pretty motivated and excited about it.”

Douglas Kearny, Poet, Visits Cowles Library

6:00 AM


Douglas Kearney, an award-winning poet, visited Cowles Library last Thursday to perform some of his own poetry and to highlight several other local poets.

The Coalition of Black Students and RunDSM coordinated the event, entitled “SHOUT,” along with the help of Professor Brian Spears.

Kearney presented seven students who performed their own poetry on topics ranging from the perpetuation of racial stereotypes and the lure of fame to riches, drugs and false perceptions of beauty.

Maddie Cox, one of the student-poets, shared how she first came to love poetry.

“I like poetry because it’s a way to express myself and have people actually listen,” Cox said. “If you have a mic, people will listen.”

After the students showed their skills, Kearney took the podium to perform. He threw his voice and contrasted whispers into the microphone with sudden shouts, slow speech and quick words, including a set of three songs.

The songs focused on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, while Kearney’s poems commented on domestic abuse, abortion, miscarriage and college.

After the event, many of the audience remained to speak with Kearney, his favorite part of performing.

“It’s fun to get up and do the work,” Kearney said. “The work stays the same, your reading of it changes, but the work kind of stays the same. What changes are the people you’re engaging with.”

Although his tastes have grown over the years to include poets like Bob Kaufman and Harryette Mullen, Kearney said he grew up listening to hip-hop.

He highlighted De La Soul and Ice Cube as some of his early favorites.

Cox found poetry in a different way, saying she was invited to a poetry workshop in high school and became immediately hooked on the art.

However, Kearney’s love of poetry did not blossom as immediately as Cox’s did. He began writing fiction, but found that he would become fixated on the words and lose the story along the way.

“I was more interested in how the language bounced off of itself,” Kearney said. “I realized that so much of poetry is taking that language and making it do remarkable things.”

Not only has his interest in poetry grown over the years, but Kearney also enjoys encouraging conversation.

“When I first started, I felt like the job of my work was to provide answers and that oftentimes meant oversimplifying problems and questions,” Kearney said. “I’ve discovered it is much more honest and much more rewarding. Sometimes your work is just driving towards another question. And then when you have a conversation about that … people are now talking about the issue because you didn’t give them an answer to it. You gave them a question that people feel like perhaps they can answer.”

Although his poetry might be saddening to some, Kearney is a hopeful person.

“We are in this together,” Kearney said. “That’s what civilization is.”

Rowing Gets Big Win Over Creighton, Enters Off Season on High Note

6:00 AM


Beall is a junior public relations and English double major and can be reached at ashley.beall@drake.edu

Beall is a junior public relations and English double major and can be reached at ashley.beall@drake.edu

Last Saturday, the crew team faced Creighton in the 22nd annual head dual.

After losing last year, I’m proud to say we won and brought the trophy back to where it belongs.

Saturday didn’t start off as the greatest of days. We had bad weather conditions and were forced to change the format of our race.

With the windy conditions, the coaches deemed the planned race course unsafe.

So, instead, we did the 500-meter races on a straight stretch of the river.

Each race was about one to two minutes long, whereas we were supposed to race 1,500-meter races, which are typically six to eight minutes.

We hadn’t been training for this short of a race so it threw us for a bit of a loop.

The format of the head dual is as follows. Each team fills three boats to race head-to-head, the varsity four, the second varsity eight and the varsity eight boats.

Each boat earns a certain amount of points based on its finish, and those amounts add up to find out which team wins.

Our varsity four and second varsity eight boats lost, while our varsity eight was able to pull out a victory.

It was kind of a whirlwind of a day.

But, I’m thrilled we were able to beat Creighton and overcome the challenges that were thrown at us.

The Creighton dual was the last race of our fall season, and we are now headed into the indoor season.

Indoor season usually consists of grueling practices where we erg row, run, do yoga and complete different types of training circuits.

The indoor season makes you wish you were outside in the freezing cold rowing, rather than being stuck inside training.

I’m going to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of indoor season.

I often leave practice walking like an old lady, but this pain will eventually be worth it.

That’s what I have to keep reminding myself.

We face Creighton again in the spring, but this time on its river.

We were able to pull away with an overall victory this time, and I want to make sure that happens again next time.

My boat wasn’t able to beat Creighton’s, and I want to change that for the spring season.

Working hard through this indoor season will hopefully do just that.

I’m not entirely sure what our coach has planned for us these next two weeks, but I’m sure after the initial pain and soreness, I’ll appreciate how it has pushed me to become better and stronger.

For now, we can only hope, right?