Western celebrates Women’s History Month

“If society will not admit of women’s free development, then society must be remodeled,” Elizabeth Blackwell, first women to receive a medical degree in the US once said. Women’s History Month took place this month, starting March 1 and will be ending on March 31. Several events have taken place since its start, including screening of movies and educational events. One of the main people involved with these events and Women’s History Month this year is Assistant Professor of Political Science Melinda Kovacs. “This is not history in terms of the big historical events of the world, this is more history in terms of personal history, history in terms of experiences that people have, history in terms of narratives that amount to a human community and it is basically a celebration of the various experiences and the various stories of women and the various lives of women in different situations, in different countries and different historical periods,” Kovacs said. Kovacs was in charge of screening the movie “The Iron Lady,” on Western's campus on March 20, which follows the life of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher from when she first started out, to her life now after retirement as she suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. “This is about exploring  some of the other parts of her story, namely what it was like to break into conservative  politics in Britain when she did and to be a woman,” said Kovacs. This film was attended by various students, both men and women alike, the night it premiered. A discussion session followed the movie to talk about what the students had learned. Raymond Clay, a student who attended the event, discovered some of the differences in the treatment of women and men. “I learned that they are really appreciated, but it seems that men have more of the higher power than women or they’re recognized more,”  Clay said. Sarah Arnold, another student who attended the event, believes that fairness is still something that needs to be achieved. “Women do have a standing [...] we’re still working on getting equality with men,” Arnold said. Other events have also taken place on campus related to Women’s History Month, each having its own message to teach the students of Western. There have been several forums and the films "Wadjda" and "Inch’Allah" were shown on March 4 and 24, as well as the documentary "Dark Girls" on March 6. Upcoming Women's History Month events include the showing of the film "Caramel" on Thursday, March 26 in Hearnes 102 at 6 p.m., "Stiletto Stomp," which will take place March 31 in Blum 218 at 7 p.m. and a forum in Blum 218 on Monday, March 30 at 4 p.m. These events teach what Women’s History Month is about, and how that applies to women today. These events teach more than just the history of women; they teach about culture, diversity and potential that women have. Rachael Jackson, a student at Western, described what this month is about for her. “Women’s history is just about celebrating women's diversity and learning about different cultures of women and just different things women have done in the past,” Jackson said. Women’s History Month has a lot to teach students, and not just women either. Male students, like Raymond Clay and more, have already attended some of the events that have taken place. Some of these events tell stories like “The Iron Lady,” and tell them from very different perspectives. These stories are from different backgrounds, different experiences, different situations and tell how these women in these situations made it through and made themselves all that they had the potential to be. There are even events that have to do with body image-such as the forum "Body Image with Jes Baker on March 25"- and how the concept of it differs for each person, and how that view affected how women view themselves, as well as how others viewed them. “I think what I would like this to amount to is an expansion of our perspectives of our ability to see  just how many things are happening to women, how many things women do, how many types of situations women find themselves in," Kovacs said. Women’s History Month is not just dedicated to historical female figures, but to the potential each women has to be that figure.

Healing in Rwanda; What we can Learn

Dr. Gerise Herndon will be coming to Missouri Western State University as a guest speaker to talk to the students about post-conflict Rwanda  and the recovery. Herndon will be arriving on March 2 to teach the students of Western's campus. Herndon became an expert in the case of Rwanda years ago when she met a French professor at the University of Nebraska by the name of Dr. Chantal Kalisa, who was originally from Rwanda. Following that, Herndon heard at an African studies conference from the author Murambi-who wrote the Book of Bones-talk about the genocide in Rwanda that took place in 1994. “I began incorporating literature and film from Rwanda in my postcolonial and women’s studies classes,” Herndon said. It was this that allowed her and her students a grant to study insights on women’s power, and they wound up accompanying a group of students that a colleague of hers was taking to Rwanda. Making excellent connections, Herndon would return in 2010 and spent her sabbatical working at the National University of Rwanda Teachers' College writing curriculum. Dr. David Tushaus worked with Herndon to set up this lecture about Rwanda on campus coming March 2. “She will be able to come and talk about post-conflict Rwanda, how they’ve recovered from this horrible period in their history,” Tushaus said. Herndon explained what she hoped to accomplish with her lecture. “I hope to show an image of Africa that will dispel stereotypes of dependency and highlight the human dimension of resiliency. I hope students can see the strength, creativity and self-reliance of Rwandans as they rebuild from the trauma of genocide and open up possibilities for future generations,” Herndon said. Tushaus shares these hopes with Herndon. “Well, I hope we will have a good turn out and that people who come will see how positive changes can come out of serious events,” Tushaus said. Herndon mentioned loving the time that she spent in Rwanda. “In addition to the fascinating traditional culture, wedding rituals and warrior dances, Rwanda boasts distinctive natural beauty, endangered mountain gorillas and the world’s best coffee and honey," Herndon said. Aside from the beauty of the country, Herndon was also influenced by the Rwandan way-of-life. “I was impressed by the emphasis on homegrown solutions to Rwanda’s problems, and the expectation that every Rwandan do community service once a month,” Herndon said. Herndon will not only be lecturing, but will be presenting Western with a unique opportunity. “I appreciate the opportunity to talk about this fascinating country. I will be taking a group of students to Rwanda for genocide studies and internships in the summer of 2016; MSWU students and faculty would be welcome to apply,” Herndon said.  

LGBT & Faith panel

For as long as many can remember, questions about homosexuality and its relation to the Bible have surfaced. On Oct. 29, three local church affiliates joined a crowd of questioning faces to discuss how LGBT and faith collide. The panel consisted of Steven Andrews, pastor at Parkville Presbyterian Church; Brian Kirk, pastor at First Christian Church of St. Joseph; and Suzanne Shay, children’s minister at First Christian Church. The panel allowed audience members to ask questions regarding LGBT and faith, which were answered through the panel members’ knowledge and notes taken from the Bible. According to the panel, there are only around 6 or 7 passages in the Bible that discuss anything that could be related to homosexuality. There are passages within the Bible that talk about same gender sexual activity, however, homosexuality is never directly mentioned in the Bible. This could be because of the time period, in which the people did not know about sexuality. Sexual orientation, in biblical times, meant nothing. Instead, the Bible talks a lot about a type of relationship that is not loving and affirming. In the Bible, sex was for the purpose of procreation--not joy. This being said, many could argue that homosexuality is wrong strictly because it stops procreation. Kirk argued that two people can still compliment one another and blossom in a relationship without ever having children. “It’s not only about biology, it is about feelings and relationships,” Shay said. There is also not a specific reference to bisexuality in the Bible. Eunuchs, which are described as men without part of the male anatomy, are mentioned as people who defied traditional gender expectations. “Eunuchs are talked about as a modern day stereotype of gay men,” Andrews said. During the panel, it was also discussed how the Bible’s focus around sexual acts of men and not women faltered toward sexism. Andrews stated that a lot of the negative images we perceive about women come from scripture. In biblical times, women were not treated as they are today. Instead, they were treated as property. The women were meant to cook, clean, and be wives in the simplest sense of the word. “The biblical understanding of marriage is not a relationship,” Shay said. “It’s proprietary.” There were people among the audience who were supportive of the idea of homosexuality and its relation with faith, as well as audience members who were unsure of how homosexuality was considered “okay.” The panel quickly turned into a heated discussion about homosexuality being unnatural. Reliable information was given from both sides of the discussion, revealing what is both said and unsaid about homosexuality in the Bible. Clyde Clark, attendee of the panel, and also a member of First Christian Church, spoke several times during the discussion. “Homosexuality happens in multiple species,” Clark said. “And those species aren’t ruled by a Bible.” Clark also admitted his understanding that there was a very divided point of view about homosexuality during the panel. He also admitted that it was expected. Kirk discussed his personal beliefs about homosexuality. He discussed how the Bible talked about relationships as treating people with love and compassion, and trusting in the love of God. According to him, this concept does not mention a specific gender or sex. Kirk also shared about his relationship with his own partner, and how it was very loving--exactly how relationships are supposed to be. “Homosexuality is just another aspect of human sexuality,” Kirk said. Another topic discussed at the panel was the idea of Heaven and Hell, and the fate of homosexual persons. The panel quickly pointed out that Jesus’ focus was not about Heaven and Hell, but about the here and now. Overall, the panel brought up a discussion with many honest questions. Andrews, Kirk and Shay all agreed that a person’s views on homosexuality depends on their own interpretation of scripture. “In the Bible, you’re not going to get a lot of blatant answers for certainty,” Clark said. Clark also stated that the panel had reiterated everything he had searched for himself.  

White Coat ceremony held for nursing students

A crowd of family and friends watched on as the 50 members of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing class of 2016 were called on stage to be cloaked in white lab coats. The students received this honor in Kemper Recital Hall on Oct. 9. For many years, White Coat ceremonies have been held in order to recognize classes of doctors and other healthcare related disciplines. These ceremonies consist of the standard white lab coats being placed on the class as an initiation. This year was the first year, nationwide, in which nurses were given a White Coat ceremony of their own. In years past, nursing schools have held “capping” ceremonies to initiate new students. Such events have become less frequent do to the end of caps in nursing attire. One hundred nursing schools around the country are now participating in the pilot program that holds White Coat ceremonies to mark nursing students’ initiation. This national effort is sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.  Mosaic Life Care, previously known as Heartland Health, is providing local support. “[The ceremony] is just a way that the two organizations felt we could elevate nursing to the same level as other professions,” Stephanie Corder, chair of the department of nursing and allied health, said. Corder also commented that it was more than just a ceremony. She said that it was “fostering an ethic of patient-centered care.” The white coats that the initiates received were each fastened with a pin of a stethoscope in the shape of a heart. The pins symbolized humanism and excellence. After the initiates were cloaked, they recited a Pledge of Commitment that they had authored themselves. “When you put the white coat on as a provider in the healthcare arena, it really means that you’re committed to patient-centered care that looks at the patient in a holistic and compassionate way,” Corder said. In addition, Corder said that the Department of Nursing wanted to tailor the White Coat ceremony to fit nursing by calling it the “Lighting of the Lamp.” The ceremony was co-titled this as a symbol for Florence Nightingale, who was the founder of modern nursing, and also a woman known for carrying a lamp through dark hospital hallways to check on her patients. Isaac Unruh, a man who suffered a paralyzing injury in a diving accident last year, also spoke at the ceremony. Unruh discussed his view on nurses and their practice from a patient’s point of view. He also talked about his appreciation for nurses and all that they do. After the White Coat ceremony, initiates and their guests were lead to a dinner. Michael Torno, senior vice president of the Assessment Technologies Institute in Leawood, Kan., appeared at the dinner. He proceeded to declare Julie Baldwin, assistant professor in the Department of Nursing and Allied Health, with the 2014 Nurse’s Touch Award. Nominations for nurse educators were given by colleagues and a panel of nurses. Baldwin was just one of four nursing educators from across the country who received the award. Baldwin, who has spent a lot of time in medical-surgical environments, discussed her appreciation for the award. “I feel like I am no different than anyone else,” Baldwin said. “It is very humbling to have someone nominate me and then to be recognized.” Baldwin also claimed that her inspiration has always been the patients. “They inspire me to be a good person, they allow you in their world to take care of them, and it’s a very special place to be.” Baldwin said. “A ceremony like this really highlights that importance.” Dr. Davin Turner of Mosaic Life Care closed the presentation at the White Coat ceremony dinner. He discussed caregiver collaboration and his views on nursing as a profession. “Just as this ceremony has evolved,” Dr. Turner said, “so has healthcare.” According to Corder, before the ceremony, the students had been working in simulation labs and on campus, but they had not actually touched a patient. The date for the White Coat ceremony was specifically chosen because it was a week before the students would finally be released into the clinical setting. As part of a partnership with Mosaic Life Care, the students will be able experience an afternoon at Mosaic that is focused on the type of providers that they want to become. “Sometimes in the world of healthcare, things get to be very mechanical,” Corder said. “And sometimes we lose sight of the human components. That’s a big hallmark for this program; to focus on the individual patient, and to be involved in the care that they receive.”

Economics professor talks healthcare sustainability

[audio mp3="http://www.thegriffonnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/James-A-Garrison-2-23-2014-Interview-with-Reza-Hamzaee.mp3"][/audio] Economics Professor Reza Hamzaee talks about Obamacare and it's long term affects. This is a recent interview with Hamzaee that discusses if Obamacare is economically feasible and what we can expect moving forward.