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Professors Meet with United Nations Official

Professors United NationsTwo University professors met with Pramila Patten, the United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, on Thursday, Feb. 21. 

In an hour-long meeting, Rekha Datta, Ph.D., newly appointed Freed Chair of Social Science and a professor of political science, and Johanna Foster, Ph.D., Helen McMurray Bennet Endowed Chair of Social Ethics and an associate professor of sociology, discussed several issues surrounding sexual violence on the Yazidi women in the Sinjar region of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq with Patten. 

The three, in addition Sherizaan Minwala, Chief of Party for the Genocide Recovery and Persecution Program in Iraq, and Foster’s co-author in her work, also discussed the issues in Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, where female Rohingya refugees are facing various forms of gender-based violence. 

Datta first met Patten in 2018 at a conference at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, but she and Foster have been studying various aspects of gender violence, gender justice and policy measures, nationally and globally. 

Foster’s recent work, conducted with Minwalla and Monmouth alum, Sarah McGrail (’16), “Genocide, Rape, and Careless Disregard: Media Ethics and the Problematic Reporting on Yazidi Survivors of ISIS Sexual Violence,” examines the problematic violations of United Nations Global Protection Cluster Recommended Guidelines for Reporting on Sexual Violence in Humanitarian Conflicts in the coverage of the genocidal attacks against the Yazidis.

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Model UN Brings Home Awards from London Tournament

Model UN Home AwardsSix students from the University’s Model United Nations (UN) Team competed at the international tournament hosted by Kings College and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, last Thursday, Feb. 21 through Sunday, Feb. 24, taking home two awards.

Sophomore political science student Mackenzie Ricca, one of the team’s captains who served on the Gender Committee in the tournament, and Nick Boice, a sophomore political science student who served on the Agricultural Committee, both won individual Speaker Awards. 

Ricca has won individual speaking honors at three consecutive international Model UN contests and Boice, who competed at his first international contest, successfully navigated a complex and large committee focused on agriculture and the latest scientific advances in this area.

Team Captains Ricca and Emma O’Rourke, a senior political science student who served on the Environment Committee, anchored the team. This most recent contest in London was O’Rourke’s sixth international Model UN tournament during her four years at the University. 

Strong performances also came from the rest of the students on the delegation: Michael Manning, a senior political science student who served in the African Union; Jackson Pope who was assigned to the Space Committee; Nick Boice, a sophomore political science student who served in the Agricultural Committee; and Katelyn Quino, a sophomore chemistry student in World Health Organization. 

Students debate, negotiate, and write policy resolutions in separate committees at Model UN contests, and over the weekend the University’s team covered challenges facing the United Nations from regulating space (Pope) to regulating genetically modified seeds (Boice). 

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Foster Presents “What Did ISIS Do to You?”

Johanna Foster ISISJohanna Foster, Ph.D., delivered a lecture entitled “What did the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) do to you?” where she presented her research on the ways journalists violated international standards for ethical reporting on sexual violence in Wilson Hall on Monday, Feb. 25. 

Foster, the Helen McMurray Bennett Endowed Chair of Social Ethics and an associate professor of sociology, conducted a study on media ethics and how reporters neglected to follow guidelines when reporting on Yazidi women who were survivors of sexual abuse. 

On Aug. 3, 2014, ISIS attacked the Yazidi people in Kurdistan (northern Iraq). The genocidal campaign was meant to destroy the religious minority group through killings, rape, and forced religious conversions.

Over 6,000 women and children were abducted, some sold as jihadi brides, with half still in captivity today. The entire community has been displaced. 

Foster’s team entered the picture when “sensational” headlines began surfacing about instances of sexual violence against Yazidi women.

“As a team of feminist scholars and advocates, we became concerned that journalists were violating basic principles of ethical reporting of sexual violence,” she said. 

Her team found that reporters were seeking out graphic accounts of mass rape and sex trafficking, above all else. The headlines spun a “popular narrative,” that created “binary frames of non-Western women, particularly ethnic and religious minority women in the Global South and East, solely as helpless victims of patriarchal regimes, and ‘civilized’ white men and women in the U.S. and Europe as ‘liberators,’” Foster said. 

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Title X Gag Rule and Women’s Health Services on Campus

Title X Gag RuleOfficials from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that they would be revoking requirements from organizations that receive Title X funding to counsel women about abortion and provide them with referrals to abortion services, last Friday, Feb. 22. 

Under the new rules, a provider would not have to talk about abortion as an option at all. Women’s health organizations, including Planned Parenthood, which would be directly affected by this ruling), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and Physicians for Reproductive Health have spoken out against the policy.

Currently, the Title X program provides federal funding for facilities that offer family planning and other preventive services, especially those that serve lower-income patients.

In its official statement, the HHS would require “financial and physical separation” between facilities and programs that provide services funded through Title X grants and those providing abortions.

However, Title X funding was never allowed to directly fund abortion services, and due to the controversial Hyde Amendment, federal Medicaid funding is prohibited from covering abortion costs, with exceptions of rape or incest. 

The Trump administration’s latest provision, deemed by many as a “gag rule,” could mean that a clinic cannot even receive Title X funding for the necessary health services they provide, such as providing access to affordable birth control methods that would prevent unwanted pregnancies, if they also offer abortions or answer their patient’s questions about abortion referrals. 

“A Title X project may not perform, promote, refer for, or support, abortion as a method of family planning, nor take any other affirmative action to assist a patient to secure such an abortion,” the policy states.

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Fumes in Tinton Falls

default article imageAn ongoing odor problem caused by hydrogen sulfide emissions at the Tinton Falls Relamation Center, affecting students who live and commute to the area.

At a meeting of the governing body on Feb. 5, Tinton Falls Borough Council President Gary Baldwin said, “[Officials] are saying to the Monmouth County Reclamation Center and the people who oversee it that they didn’t do their job. They admitted it.” The individuals who oversee the landfill have accepted responsibility for the odor. The trash was not treated properly, which resulted in hydrogen sulfide emissions.

Ivan Gepner, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology, said that the odor should not have adverse health effects on the surrounding population.

Still, state Senator Vin Gopal, who represents Tinton Falls in the 11th Legislative District, organized a Town Hall last month for residents in the area to speak about their concerns regarding the odor. He later issued a statement that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will continue to conduct tests of hydrogen sulfide emissions at the reclamation center to ensure the levels remain below the regulatory limit. 

“From speaking with residents, I understand the impact the odor is having on their lives,” said Gopal. “I will do everything I can to push for progress and keep residents updated as we work to resolve this issue.”

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Professors Host National Anthropology Day by Acknowledging Rise in Hate Crimes

National Anthropology DayHeidi Bludau, Ph.D., a lecturer of history and anthropology, Brooke Nappi, a professor of anthropology, and Michael Anderson-Phillips, Ph.D., a professor of communication, discussed the rise of hate crimes during National Anthropology Day celebrations in Edison Hall on Thursday, Feb. 13. 

National Anthropology Day is a part of the American Anthropological Associations annual recognition of the discipline. Monmouth University is one of over 200 institutions nationwide to participate in this program. 

Merriam-Webster defines a hate crime as any various crime (such as assault or defacement of property) when motivated by hostility to the victim as a member of a group (such as one based on color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation).

“When people aren’t happy or disenfranchised, they’re going to find a scape goat of some sort. I think we are seeing an increase lately because people feel in our current cultural and political climate that they’re able to, they’re free to,” said Bludau.  

She feels that as more people are seemingly getting away with acts of violence towards minority groups, this type of behavior becomes increasingly prevalent, and potentially the norm. “People are angry and looking for something to lash out at. They’re not happy in their lives and looking for belonging. They find unfortunately belonging in hate and hating others,” Bludau explained.

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University Scholars Discuss Implications of National Emergency

default article imageAfter a bill to fund border security passed both chambers of Congress with bipartisan support, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in order to appropriate funding for a border wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, on Friday, Feb. 15.

Thousands of people rallied nationwide on Monday to protest the national emergency. More than 250 rallies were organized across the United States on President’s Day, with protesters carrying banners and placards that called the national emergency “fake.”

When Congress approved far less money for border security than he had sought, Trump last week announced that he would instead use the emergency declaration to stem illegal immigration, which he called “an invasion of our country.”

The declaration comes as a result of failed negotiations to secure funding, which led to a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government, the longest in the nation’s history. During that time, Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) fought over the conditions of building a physical barrier along the Southern border.

New Jersey and 15 other state Attorneys-General have already filed lawsuits against the president’s action, citing that his motion is an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers and an illegal use of the federal National Emergencies Act. The move, if it survives pending legal challenges, would allow the president to access billions of dollars in federal emergency relief funds.

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Murphy’s Disapproval Ratings Rise in Polls

Murphy Disapproval RatingsAfter one year in office, New Jersey Governor Phil Muphy’s disapproval rating has risen 12 points, according to a recent report published by the University’s Polling Institute last Tuesday, Feb. 12. 

Support for Murphy in polling numbers have cooled off from where they were in April 2018.

While his approval rating remains steady at around 43 percent, his disapproval rating has risen from 28 percent to 40 percent, according to the Institute’s report. 

Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs President and Finance Chair of the Democratic National Committee, has also experienced a significant increase in disapproval ratings among political independents, from 33 percent to 43 percent.

Although Democrats largely approve of his performance, at 66 percent approval compared to just 9 percent disapproval, 25 percent say they still do not have an opinion of the governor.

“The most troubling result may be the large number of his fellow Democrats who continue to take a wait-and-see attitude,” said Patrick Murray, Director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

“It seems he has yet to score a defining win with his base despite spending a significant amount of energy pushing a progressive agenda,” he added.

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Model UN Competes at Harvard

default article imageThe University’s Model United Nations (UN) team competed at the 65th session of Harvard University’s Model UN competition.

Eight students represented Monmouth at the Park Plaza Boston Hotel, this past weekend from Saturday, Feb. 14th through Sunday, Feb. 17th

Participants debated and negotiated policy resolutions on global challenges and crises facing the actual United Nations. The official UN rules and regulation were utilized.

Representatives from the University included: Head Delegates Kristen Gomez, a junior English student, and Daniel Gerdon, a sophomore political science student; Matt Gruhler, a junior political science student;  Alexis Vasquez, a sophomore political science student; Amanda Lopez, a sophomore political science and history student; Nick Gibson, a sophomore political science student; Teniya Manu, a sophomore accounting student; and new-comer Fradley de la Cruz, a sophomore political science student.

Harvard Model UN is the oldest contest in the states, with over 150 universities from around the country and around the world, including Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America participating. 

University students were assigned to represent the Republic of Moldova on four separate committees. In preparation for the contest, students researched their country by reading both current and past events. Additionally, weekly meetings were held to prepare for their given speeches.

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Liberty and Justice Forum

default article imageAs part of the University’s commemoration of Black History Month, Walter Greason, Ph.D., Chair of Educational Counseling and Leadership in the Department of Education, hosted a discussion titled “The State of Black New Jersey 2019: With Liberty and Justice for All” in the Guggenheim Memorial Library last Wednesday, Feb. 13. 

Greason, former Dean of the Honors School, brought the discussion of discrimination, equal opportunity, and the status of New Jersey’s Black middle class to campus in his presentation. 

He discussed the idea of America’s pledge of allegiance, and how appropriate it is to say “liberty and justice for all” when there still exists such vast inequality across the country; an idea that has gained national attention after several athletes have knelt during the pledge.

“New Jersey, a century ago, was a hostile place…, certainly for African Americans, people of Mexican decent and native ancestry,” Greason explained in his discussion. Segregation was as severe a reality in New Jersey as in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida, he noted.

From about 1928 forward through up until the late 1940s, New Jersey made a decision to change the way that it viewed diversity. Greason explained that the state made efforts to find a way to bring people of different cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds into the core of society. “New Jersey led the nation in that way,” he said.

New Jersey later amended the state constitution to include clauses of anti-discrimination protections.

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University Mourns the Loss of Professor Kenneth Stunkel

Professor Kenneth Stunkel PassingKenneth Stunkel, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of History at Monmouth University, passed away on Feb. 7 in his Neptune, NJ home at the age of 87. 

He is survived by his wife Mary Carol, his sister Shelley, his daughters Sally and Mirah, his son Reagan, grandson Elon, and three adoring pet cats.  

Mary Carol, to whom he was married for 48 years, has been an adjunct professor of communication at Monmouth for 17 years. She said that her husband had, “a lifelong passion for learning new things; not to specialize too much [in one particular subject area] and to know that understanding comes from the knowledge of a broad range of subjects, so that you understand different perspectives.” 

Stunkel taught through his 80th year, ending a 47-year tenure at Monmouth. He spent time as a professor of history, teaching over 25 different courses. He also served as the Dean of two different schools on campus: Art and Design and Humanities and Social Sciences.  

“As a new faculty member, I remember going to meet with Ken to talk about teaching and I was consistently impressed by the breadth of his knowledge,” said Richard Veit, Ph.D., a professor of anthropology and Chair of the Department of History and Anthropology. “He was incredibly well read and was able to speak at length on all sorts of topics; he was impressive, and I was thrilled to be one of his faculty colleagues at Monmouth University.” 

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Contact Information

CAMPUS LOCATION
The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

MAILING ADDRESS
The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey
07764

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu