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The Pros and Cons of Common Source
Earlier this semester, the school’s administration introduced measures to punish fraternities for serving common source alcohol. Seeing as BSC is a wet campus, students are unsure of how these rules may affect the fraternity functions that have traditionally served alcohol for the past several years.
Kyle Lo Porto, Assistant Director of Student Activities, explains that "common source is when an organization provides alcohol to a guest at their event.” He went on to say that common source tends to appear often at open fraternity parties, where organizations feel they need some way to draw guests to their events.
While the school is able to give this clear-cut definition of common source, some students are confused by the change of rules. Since the administration has changed its stance on the subject, some students are hesitant to believe that the rules are as straightforward as they appear to be.
"Common source has been redefined several times by our school, and the student handbook shows their lack of clarity, in a sense," an anonymous fraternity member says. "Birmingham-Southern College has started incorporating any distribution of alcohol, at all, even when the organization is not implicitly purchasing or distributing the alcohol. When one container of alcohol is handed to another person, that is affiliated with the organization, [and] that is [now defined as] common source."
Historically, the administration has always been opposed to common source alcohol, but punishments were varied due to a lack of precedent in the handbook. Greek conduct boards (made up of all 6 fraternity presidents, plus the Interfraternity Council [IFC] VP of Judiciary, IFC President, and Kyle Lo Porto) would hold hearings and hand out punishments as they saw fit. The new rule incorporates punishments for fraternities that serve common source, which includes losing three events and being put on probation for the remainder of the term and the next term for the first offense. If there is a probation violation, then there is a risk of the house being shutdown. It seems that one of the biggest changes for the fraternities is working with sororities to have them refuse common source and report it when they see it, a rule the presidents all agreed to adopt.
"It is a very tough situation since it is such a long history for certain events," Lo Porto says. "Everybody pledged to stop expecting it from sorority side of things and [for fraternities] to stop providing it."
From a risk management standpoint, there is a concern that banning common source alcohol at parties, like mixed drinks and beers, prevents organizations from controlling how much alcohol is being consumed at parties and makes it harder to cut people off. In addition, this ban may encourage activities like pre-gaming and bringing hard liquor into events. Furthermore, there is concern that the ban on common source simply will not stick and that it will get even further out of hand.
"The biggest problem is that there is a row mentality, where all six fraternities feed off each other in order to sustain the social image at BSC," the anonymous fraternity member says. "So if one frat decides to follow a certain policy, unless all the fraternities are also following, it will very likely hurt their social scene and not be a benefit to the greater Greek community."
Feature photo by jamesomalley via Flickr.
Incorporating a New Form of Payment into the BSC Community
Why was Rowdy Cash started?
Dr. David Eberhardt, VP of Student Development, explains, “There’s been a concern for a while that the college, by allowing a student to swipe their card to buy a t-shirt, was being a credit card company. The transaction process gets to the bookstore; the bookstore then sends it over to student accounts; [then], it gets put on your student account," Eberhardt says. "There was this really delayed process of when you’re getting something and when you’re purchasing it.”
How does Rowdy Cash work?
“Panther bucks are a declining balance that you have already paid for, and the college has paid to Aramark, so it really isn’t your money anymore. It’s just a balance that the college is essentially holding in your name,” Eberhardt clarifies. “The difference, now, is that it goes immediately to a student account of yours: your Rowdy cash account.”
Before Rowdy Cash, organizations mainly charged purchases to student accounts. Now, organizations are incorporating Square to use credit cards and are adding Venmo as a form of payment. Although student organizations will benefit in the long run, student organization leaders like Pi Beta Phi chapter president Samantha Grindell recognizes that there will be some growing pains before those benefits are reached.
“The challenge with Rowdy Cash is that people just don't have it. We can't make money off of the items we're selling if people don't have money to pay for them," Grindell says. "Rowdy Cash would work extremely well if people had it, but a lot of people aren't willing to put $100 into an account [if] they don't know they will use [it].”
The lack of students using Rowdy Cash is affecting the fundraiser and merchandise sales of practically all student organizations, including Relay for Life, the Harrison Honors Program, and the Art Students League. Dala Eloubeidi, President of Alpha Epsilon Delta, has seen Rowdy Cash affect what used to be her organization's staple fundraiser.
“AED usually raises close to $200 for our lemonade stand, but, this semester, we raised $25,” Eloubeidi says. “AED has decided to cancel the on-campus bake sale for Spirit of Luke. Instead, we have decided to raise money by hosting a percentage night at a local restaurant.”
What else should you know?
You can easily go onto the BSC website and use your credit card or debit card to add $50 or $100 to your Rowdy Cash account. Rowdy Cash rolls over until you graduate BSC, at which time it is refundable.
“People are just resistant to change, and the fact that the system wasn't easy to understand at first made it harder," Grindell says. "Once it becomes the norm, people won't even think about Rowdy Cash anymore because it'll be so ingrained in their BSC lives."
Feature photo via Micayla Edler.
Looking into the Legacy
The history of ‘Southern publications began before Birmingham-Southern College was even founded. Established in 1907 as Pegasus, the yearbook publication we now know as Southern Accent has a rich and versatile history.
Dr. Hagen, an English faculty member, Director of the Harrison Honors Program, and Associate Provost noted, “The format and content changes through the years have been largely dependent on who is editor.”
Pegasus included pages of class roll call, songs, officers, prayers, poems, comedy, editors, literary features, and advertisements. The interesting aspect of these early yearbook publications is that there are very few pictures and many stories and anecdotes about the college and its students and faculty.
Pegasus changed to Southron when Southern University was founded in 1914. This publication also contained club and organizational pictures, including newly founded fraternities. The Southron was soon split into more easily defined sections, depicting university activities and class photos.
Southron changed to Revue in 1919, adding facts about the history and attributes of Birmingham-Southern College. The Revue briefly changed to Gold and Black in 1921, and changed again to La Revue in 1922. A plethora of popular sections was added to the yearbook, including: Cosmos, Recreation Activities, Crosswords, Cartoons, Sororities, Action Snapshots, Who’s Who, Panhellenic, and the Hall of Shame, which was a section dedicated to humorous awards such as biggest bluff or most sedate. Pictures of BSC’s campus as it changed through the years were first featured in La Revue, as were dedications explaining the namesake of buildings such as Munger, Stockholm, Stephens Science Center, and the Planetarium.
La Revue was renamed Southern Accent in 1942. Around this time, the Miss Southern Accent pageant was founded along with a Beauties section in the yearbook. Then, in the 1970s, more pictures were added in color, and slowly the paragraphs of text faded away as Southern Accent developed.
The student newspaper is the second oldest ‘Southern publication and was founded in 1916 as Birmingham-College Reporter. The student newspaper’s name was changed to Gold and Black from 1919-1938 and was altered to traditional columns and novel columns.
Hilltop News was established in 1939 and was a staple at ‘Southern until 2014 when the name was changed to Bagheera. Hilltop News expanded to include more practical news and opinion sections such as Polls, Politics, Issues within the College, and Opportunities for Internships, Fellowships, and Jobs. At the time of the name change, Hilltop News was still an old-fashioned newspaper, but gradually the publication developed into the more magazine-like publication we see today.
“30 years ago, the editors of Hilltop News engaged in investigatory writing; they set out to find why [the school] did something,” Dr. Hagen said.
The Southern Academic Review (SAR) was founded in 1987 and contained long essay-formatted research pieces submitted by students. In 2011, SAR was briefly out of commission until 2014 when Dr. Hagen and her recruited Harrison Honors Scholars brought it back.
The literary magazine known as The Quad was founded in 1940. This publication published short stories, poems, art, and photography from students.
Dr. Hagen explained, “The Quad was developed because there was a need for a creative outlet that other publications such as the Southern Academic Review did not provide.”
The Compass, a leadership publication published through the Hess Center, was founded in 1999 and publishes essays chronicling leadership experiences written by students.
The Gloria, named after beloved art patron Gloria Spruill ’58, is the newest edition to publications here on the Hilltop. Gloria is the visual and performing arts magazine of Birmingham-Southern College. Featuring season previews for art, theatre, and music student performances, classes, and Jan-term experiences, this exciting new publication helps to bring the arts events of students, faculty, and alumni to the entire Hilltop family.
Feature photo via BSC Archives.
Unbeknownst Gym-Goers: Reading Into Striplin Shirt Policy
When you walk down to General Charles Krulak stadium on a school day evening, you will see many of Birmingham-Southern’s athletes at work. The football team may be having a scrimmage or practice, and spread out all over the track is BSC’s track and field athletes. The cross-country boys are probably in their short shorts, and the girls of the team are usually sweating it out in sports bras and tempo-like shorts. When it’s upwards of eighty degrees and humid outside, even in September, all of the athletes are trying to do their best to stay hydrated and as cool as possible as they train.
On a day-to-day basis many of these collegiate athletes go shirtless for their physical activities. This is a habit not only athletes have, but also many average gym-goers or casual runners partake in as well. When you’re doing something physically strenuous, it is understandable to want to be as cool and unrestricted as possible. Due to this, going shirtless has become common workout attire, including in gyms. Many fitness centers, though, are not on board with this.
BSC’s Larry D. Striplin, Jr. Physical Fitness and Recreation Center, referred to by the community as Striplin Center, is one of the many recreation centers that has in place a shirt policy, one forbidding gym-goers from choosing to go shirtless. This policy is not broadcasted in the gym by any signage, and it can sometimes throw students off. Someone who is used to running outside in only their shorts may finish their work out with sprints on the indoor track. Some runners may resort to the treadmill if it starts to rain during their run. Other runners might begin using the indoor track during the winter. This shirt rule could cause frustration amongst these students looking to use the Striplin Center.
Striplin Center’s director, Mike Robinson, met with me for an interview about Striplin’s policies. Mr. Robinson has been working at Birmingham-Southern for thirty-three years, and was here when the Striplin Center first opened it’s doors in 1998. The rules created for the Striplin Center since then seem to be pretty concrete. “When we first opened the Striplin Center in ’98, I had a draft of the policies and procedures for Striplin and the board of trustees approved that,” Mr. Robinson talks about Striplin’s guidelines, “We’ve tweaked things since, but I don’t know of any new rules or regulations that we’ve added over the past few years.” Mr. Robinson went on the explain that Birmingham-Southern stays in contact with other schools in our athletic conference and ACS-member schools, in order to compare hours, intermural sports, and discuss adding anything new.
In terms of the shirt rule, Mr. Robinson says, “It’s primarily for the weight room and the cardio room. It’s for sanitation. I don’t want anybody lying on a bench doing an exercise without a shirt on.” In terms of the gray area where gym-goers might be confused, Mr. Robinson draws a clearer line for us, saying, “We let them play shirts and skins on the basketball court and that kind of thing, so that’s sort of where we have the dividing line.”
It turns out that the runners seeking refuge from rainy days on the indoor track probably do not have anything to worry about, but gym-goers looking to use their got-to weight machines should opt for a workout shirt.
Her Story and What's Coming Up Next On the Hilltop
On June 10th, Birmingham-Southern College put out a press release stating that its 14th president, Dr. Ed Leonard, had stepped down after just a year of leading the college. This news was shocking, and the circumstances of Dr. Leonard’s departure were equally dubious. The release only stated that he had left for “personal reasons.” Even more shocking was the new face that had appeared almost from nowhere. Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith: Birmingham-Southern College’s 15th president and first female one at that. Questions loaded with wonder and suspicion came flooding through the Hilltop. Who is this woman? What happened behind the scenes? What’s going to change? As college students, we are intelligent consumers of information who want answers. But there is room for excitement too. Our college has a new leader, and she is one with many years of fascinating experiences to draw on while leading our college. Exciting new changes are already happening, and there are more to come. So I sat down to talk with President Flaherty-Goldsmith, or Miz President as she likes to be called, to learn more about who she is and what her vision is for Birmingham-Southern College.
Henry: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from?
Pres. Flaherty-Goldsmith: I'm originally from Pontotoc, Mississippi. But I left there when I was seventeen years old. I've lived in all four corners of the USA and in Mexico. I'm a native of the South, and I keep coming back to the South, but I venture to other areas.
Henry: Now I understand you've published a book. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Pres. Flaherty-Goldsmith: Yeah. Well this book is about growing up as a poor white person in the rural South during the pre-Civil Rights period. I initially wrote just one short story about some of the activities we had when I was growing up. The reason that we were poor was that my father abandoned us. He left my mom to raise all of the kids. We were taught from a very early age that poverty was temporary for us. But we were very poor. We picked cotton to buy our clothes in the fall. I chopped cotton in the spring to buy my summer clothes. I worked on Saturdays in my uncle’s drug store ten miles away from the time I was nine years old. He was not poor. We grew out of our poverty. But because we did work our way out of it, my son and our nephews and nieces didn't really know how their parents had grown up. They had grown up in middle to upper income families. So I wrote this one story about the way we grew up. I had one nephew who said, “Oh my goodness! This is wonderful. I understand my dad.” This other nephew who read it said, “Please Aunt Linda, write more. We want to know about our family.” So I ended up writing a collection of short stories. They're all true, but they're also written in a way that I think is kind of engaging, comical, and sometimes sad. It's about people that I knew and about what it was really like to grow up poor. The other reason I wanted to write it was because most of the things you read about the pre-Civil Rights South would lead you to believe that only the African-Americans were poor and that the other people were living and having them as servants. It occurred to me that people don't know that side of Mississippi or the South. They only know what they've read about. Two classes: the rich white and the poor African-Americans. It's just not true. A majority of them, whites in the rural South at that time, were also poor. There were a few landowners who had a great deal of money, but most of the people didn't have a lot of money. So it was for a couple of reasons that I wrote the book.
Henry: One question that feels very appropriate to ask a college president. What was college like for you?
Pres. Flaherty-Goldsmith: Probably quite different than it is for you. I would have loved to have attended a college like Birmingham-Southern College. I would've flourished here, but at the time that I was going to college, I had to work full-time and go to school at lunch, at night, and on weekends. So going to college for me was balancing three classes a semester with a full-time job. I went to the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, then UAB for my MBA.
Henry: Under ideal circumstances, where would you like BSC to be at the end of your tenure?
Pres. Flaherty-Goldsmith: I think you know that a big part of what I see for BSC is us being more involved in the West End. There are ways that we can be enriched by the community and that they can be enriched by us. I would also like to see us have at least 1600 students on campus, and I would like to see us have more transfers from two-year colleges. I would very, very much like for us to have some new initiatives that we are promoting. I'm really excited about what we're doing in terms of the new creative and applied computing, which they're working through the curricular processing to implement for next fall. I also think that we need to do more innovative things that meet the needs of students going out into the workforce in addition to all the wonderful liberal arts elements that we already provide. That's pretty much what I would like to see. Of course I would like to see us have an endowment of about $150 million dollars. I'd like for us to offer more scholarships. I guess what I really want is for the Birmingham community to visit the Hilltop a lot more often because, once you come to Birmingham-Southern, you're impressed. You can really see that it changes lives and forms lives of significance. I want to make Birmingham-Southern College more visible to a lot more people.
Henry: Tell me more about the creative and applied computing program. What else are we looking to create or expand?
Pres. Flaherty-Goldsmith: Well, last year, the provost had visioning sessions with her faculty to find out what they thought were the things we should be doing in the future. Now that's really the right approach is to go through your faculty and vision. That's how they came up with creative and applied computing. We're also expanding our Urban Environmental Studies program as a result of those. This is all assuming all these things pass curriculum review. We're also creating a Distinction in Public Health. Now the creative and applied computing is something you would use no matter what you're major is. That's really the future way of using computing, whether you're an artist or musician or whatever, and that's what they're really going to be focusing on: how it applies to a liberal arts background. It readies you for using that whatever your profession.
Henry: There’s an attitude on this campus that Birmingham-Southern has problems that it will never fix. The big example is the Caf. What are your plans or thoughts on attitudes like that and working to change them?
Pres. Flaherty-Goldsmith: We are in the process now. Our contract is ending with Aramark, and we have formed a small committee to evaluate food service and decide what we're going to do with it. We're looking at all the concerns that have been expressed as we make the change. I can't tell you what we're going to do because we just put the committee together and are starting to look at it. I've been here eight weeks, and there are a lot of things to do. We're moving as rapidly as we can, but I have a great senior team to work with. You can also be sure that David Eberhardt and Ben Newhouse make clear to us that we need to have a better foodservice.
Henry: Do you have any idea how long you're going to be staying at Birmingham-Southern College?
Pres. Flaherty-Goldsmith: As long as they need me.