Journey to become a ‘man of your word’

After becoming an accidental, viral phenomenon overnight, Alex Sheen turned his instant success into a national movement to change the world one promise at a time.

Sheen shared the story of his journey at the University of Toledo’s Doermann Theater on Feb. 16 to nearly 400 audience members.

As CEO and founder of “because I said I would,” Sheen said he makes and keeps promises to strengthen humanity’s will because he simply doesn’t believe in superheroes.

“It doesn’t matter how much money you make, the color of your skin or what language you speak; we all understand the importance of a promise,” Sheen said.

On Sept. 4, 2012, Sheen was asked to eulogize his father at his funeral. There was one thing that kept coming to his mind.

“My father was a man of his word,” Sheen said. “When he said he was going to be there he showed up. He always kept his promises.”

The day after his father’s funeral, Sheen wrote his first post about the concept of promises and how that connected to his father.

Later that night, he made the Facebook page “because I said I would.”

Sheen said he wasn’t satisfied with the concept of everyone being sad over his father being gone and not doing anything different. He thought if he could get a few people to make and keep a promise, his father’s legacy would continue on.

“My first goal was to have my father’s memory live on a little bit, be more meaningful, but also to say goodbye in a manner I thought was respectful to him,” Sheen said.

Sheen made a Reddit post that said he would send out five promise cards to anyone in the world. A promise card is the size of a business card but is completely blank except for the words “because I said I would” written near the bottom.

Sheen said the concept of a promise card is to make that promise tangible; it becomes more real on paper.

“Once you write the promise on a card, you give it to the person you’re making the commitment to and you get it back after you do it,” Sheen said. “You say ‘this card is a symbol of my honor and I’m coming back for it.’”

Today, “because I said I would” has distributed 4.47 billion cards to 153 countries upon request. Sheen said sometimes we make promises so small we tend to forget, but, to another person, that promise could mean the world.

“I’ve had to go a long journey to get better at my promises, and I’m still flawed in many ways, but I would put my batting average up against anybody,” he said.

While at work in February 2013, Sheen received a letter from an anonymous person explaining that Sheen’s blog and organization is the reason this person is still alive and made a promise to Sheen to never give up.

Sheen said he remembers sitting at his desk crying because of how this letter affected him. That was the day he quit his job to start his non-profit organization, “because I said I would.”

For Sheen, it all comes down to accountability.

“Sometimes we don’t need a miracle; we need people to do what they said they would,” Sheen said. “There’s no such thing as superheroes in this life; it’s up to you to offset the bad.”

Sheen’s current goal is to further develop the organization’s chapters.

It starts with an adult chapter to provide funding and connections. From there, he wants the chapters to spread to high schools, middle schools and elementary schools.

“I want to give someone a way to come up being a good person,” Sheen said. “That’s our goal.”

Heidi Appel, Dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College, said Sheen’s success shows us how effective social entrepreneurship can be.

“‘Because I said I would’ compels us to follow through on promises we make to ourselves and to each other,”  Appel said. “This is critical to our leading successful and satisfying lives as social beings and is really the finest expression of our humanity.”

Taylor Burchfield, an honors college communication intern, said Sheen’s speech was very impactful, especially to college students.

“As college students, we don’t always understand the impact of everything we do or the promises we make,” Burchfield said. “What Alex said really put things in perspective to be more mindful of the commitments we make to others and ourselves.

Sheen said he wants to change the world, and he doesn’t care if that sounds ridiculous.

“’Because I said I would’ is not about me; I would go so far as to say it isn’t even about my father,” Sheen said. “It has always been, and forever will be, about you.”




New CEO of the University of Toledo Medical College named

The University of Toledo Medical Center has announced Dan Barbee as the new chief executive officer after serving as interim CEO for nine months.

Barbee, who has worked at UT’s medical center for six years, said he will be responsible for the strategic activities at UTMC and its clinics. He will also keep the hospital’s goals in line with those of the university.

“When I came into the interim roll,” Barbee said, “Dr. Gaber and Dr. Cooper said, ‘You know, you run the place like you’re going to be here forever, so it’s not a good time to take your foot off the gas and see what happens.’”

Barbee began serving as interim CEO in June after previous CEO Dave Morlock resigned.

“Dan has been with the hospital a long period of time and has sort of risen through the ranks,” said Sharon Gaber, UT president, during a previous IC interview. “There is a good level of respect for his work.”

As the new CEO, Barbee said the only thing he is changing is his stationary. The goals he had for UTMC remain unchanged, and he is still following the five goals Dr. Gaber established when she first arrived as president.

“She laid out her five overarching goals,” Barbee said. “Number one was enhance the reputation of the University on a national stage. We try to do that here at UTMC. The reputation of the hospital has been beaten up in the press over the years, but we have had a lot of good things going on, and we want to continue doing that.”

The four other goals Barbee said he strives for are an increased number of patients and quality care provided, more research opportunities, philanthropic donations and a decrease in administrative costs.

“Our overarching goals are good patient care, good relations with our faculty, staff and students, financial stability and meet the needs of the UT and Toledo communities,” Barbee said.

Barbee has served as chief nursing officer, associate executive director, vice president of patient care services and chief operating officer at UTMC. Prior to his experiences with the university, Barbee said he has worked in the field of healthcare since the 1980s and in leadership positions since the 1990s.

“I think he has the best interest of the employees in mind and expects them to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities,” said Alex Wilhelm, UT nursing graduate and current UTMC employee.




Seven countries, seven stories

Standing in front a podium with their cultural identities soon to be exposed, students and community members presented personal stories to depict their struggles with cultural differences and present the value of accepting diversity.

The event, entitled “7 Countries, 7 Stories” and organized by a collaboration of student organizations, follows a “March Against Injustice” led by campus members as a response to President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel to the United States from seven countries for 90 days.

Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Willie McKether was key in bringing the event to fruition and began the evening with a statement regarding the pride the faculty and staff have in all of those they serve.

“The University of Toledo is 100 percent behind our students,” McKether said. “We are very proud of you, and we will continue to do these types of events.”

Francis Mok, an American-born Chinese and first-year student, was among the first to speak and stressed the importance of accepting and conversing with those around us.

“At the end of the day, we want to make the world a more diverse place,” Mok said. “We should do things we normally wouldn’t do. Interact with people you normally wouldn’t think of. Have a conversation. Start a dialogue.”

The succession of speakers progressed, and their message of acceptance continued through personal battles with individuality and the difficulty to assimilate.

A Muslim American student used a poem describing a preschooler different from those around her to convey the belief that what one says to another matters.

“I wanted to apologize,” said the speaker. “Sorry I don’t look like you. Sorry I don’t have the words. Words are invisible, but they are thicker than milk and honey.”

First-year student Alexx Rayk recognized a message of unity in the presenters’ stories.

“Everyone is coming together from different backgrounds and giving their own take on a situation, yet they are all giving the same message of coming together and unifying and supporting each other,” said Rayk.

The event comes at a time of a political culture dealing with issues of acceptance and, for former professor at the University of Toledo and community member Dr. Samir Abu-Absi, an occasion of this nature strengthened the campus’s culture of inclusion.

“It is really important for the students and the community to be involved,” Abu- Absi said. “I was pleased to see the level of support by the administration.”

Students have the opportunity to continue the conversation surrounding topics of acceptance and may attend an event with McKether, entitled “Lunch with the VP,” March 2 from 12:30 to 1 p.m. in SU room 3016.

Joining him will be Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Kaye Patten. This is an opportunity to talk with Dr. McKether and Dr. Kaye in an intimate setting about topics surrounding diversity at UT and in the community.




Saturday mornings are for science

The best school days growing up were spent watching Bill Nye teach young children more about science. Learning about the effects of our own impact on the Earth is a vital part of every person’s education. Professors at the University of Toledo are continuing these lessons for the Toledo community.

Saturday Morning Science is a program aimed at educating the Toledo community about various relevant scientific topics. The talks are organized by Joseph Schmidt, a professor of chemistry, and John J. Bellizi, an associate professor of biochemistry.

“I think everyone needs an exposure to some level of science,” Schmidt said.  “We can’t just ignore the way the world works around us.”

The public programs are presented by the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and are open to the entire community.

“It’s also bringing science to the public in a way that can make people understand and appreciate what science does for us and what it can do for us,” Bellizi said.

Last weekend, Saturday Morning Science welcomed Monique Wilhelm, laboratory manager and lecturer from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Flint-Michigan. Her talk was called, “From the River to our Taps: The Poisoning of a City.”

Wilhelm spoke about the origin and causes of the water crisis that occurred in Flint, Michigan, which began in 2014. She explained that the problem started when the city’s water source was changed to the Flint River.

“They went to the Flint river water because it was used previously as a source, and it was only supposed to be temporary,” Wilhelm said.

The chemistry involved in changing the water supply from a lake to a river was explained by Wilhelm. Audience members were provided with kits to carry out demos to assist in their understanding. The demonstration utilized vinegar, salt and pennies to illustrate the effect that acidity can have on pipes.

“It was the change that caused this to happen,” Wilhelm said. “If we would have continued to get the lake water and never switched to the river water, we would never have had problems.”

After explaining the cause of the crisis, Wilhelm reflected upon the devastating impacts the water issue has had on the community.

“Flint is a community that is already living mostly in poverty,” Wilhelm said. “They can see the external effects, but they don’t know when they’re pregnant that the lead is possibly changing the developing fetus, that infants drinking formula are going to have neurological effects for a lifetime.”

This talk was well-attended by both UT students and faculty as well as local community members.

“I thought it was very good; I learned a lot,” said Rick Ray, a member of the community. “I’ll probably go to most of them if I’m in town. I especially want to hear the pollen one.”

This year, the series of talks begin at 9:30 a.m. in Memorial Field House room 2100. Before the talks, attendees can enjoy a light breakfast sponsored in part by Barry Bagels.

Schmidt emphasized that the organizers enjoy receiving feedback from their attendees. He asked for suggestions for future events to be emailed to [email protected].




University of Toledo’s Black Student Union celebrates its heritage

The Black Student Union has provided a safe haven for students to come and feel welcome since it was founded in 1968. Through events and member size, BSU has a strong presence on campus.

“Our numbers have really started to grow. We’re now the third largest organization on the campus,” said MeKayla Pullins, president of BSU.

The goals of the Black Student Union have mainly revolved around retention rates of black students, Pullins said. The organization aims to provide mentorship and guidance to wayward students, in particular, freshmen.

Upperclassmen provide mentorship to newer students through the Freshman Leadership Program, which facilitates the growth of new students, providing them with valuable skills to enable them to become involved in leadership roles later on.

“I was part of the Freshman Leadership Program as a freshman,” said Keith Boggs, education director of the Black Student Union.  “BSU is the first organization I joined, and I’m still sticking with it. It’ll be a part of my future as well.”

In honor of Black History Month, Black Student Union is having a BSU month wherein they hold an event every week that is relevant to African-Americans.

“It’s important for the African-American students and others to be constantly “woke,” meaning knowing what’s going on in our country,” said Ryah Harrison, vice president of BSU.

On Feb. 1, they hosted “Black Jeopardy,” which was organized by the Freshman Leadership Program branch of BSU. The purpose of the interactive trivia game was to educate students on different aspects of African-American culture.

“In school you don’t really learn much about African-American history besides Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, people like that, but there’s so much more history than just those people,” Pullins said. “Our goal was to go above and beyond that for Black Jeopardy.”

But they didn’t stop there. BSU also held a lecture-style event in the second week of February, the topic for which was “The Evolution of the N-word.” The lecture was focused on describing how the N-word was used in the past versus how it is used now,” Pullins said.

“It kicked off with a presentation; it turned into a very broad group discussion and a lot of people got involved,” Boggs said.

According to Pullins, BSU is collaborating with the Muslim Student Association to host “Open Mic Storytelling Night” on Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Auditorium.

“The event is for different cultures to come and tell stories about how they’re feeling today with everything that’s going on,” Pullins said. “I’m excited for it because I want to hear other people’s stories about how they feel or why they’re feeling certain types of ways.”

BSU will hold their 48th annual fashion show with the theme “All Around the World,” showcasing fashion from Brazil, Jamaica, India, and Japan. The fashion show will take place Feb. 24 in the Student Union Auditorium.




New VP for Advancement named at University of Toledo

Months after the previous vice president was terminated, the University of Toledo announced a new vice president for advancement to lead fundraising, marketing, communications, special events and alumni relations.

Michael Harders, the current vice president of university advancement and development at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, has been hired to fill this new position on March 20.

He will be taking over the position previously held by Sam McCrimmon, who was terminated in the fall of 2016 after receiving numerous complaints about his work ethic.

“There was a time when he wasn’t showing up, wasn’t working and wasn’t responsive to requests,” explained Sharon Gaber, president of UT. “If the president is saying, ‘Why aren’t you responding to certain requests?’ then that’s an issue.”

Mike will receive a $245,000 yearly salary, $10,000 less than his predecessor, who earned a $255,000 yearly salary.

Looking to the future, Gaber said that she wants to work toward building up the endowment and bringing in resources to help the students, faculty and university with the help of the new vice president for advancement.

Harders brings a lot of experience to the University; during his tenure at Kennesaw State University, Harders said his team increased alumni engagement and annual support for the University.

“We were able to increase private investment for student support, faculty support, programs and facilities by 240 percent in four years,” Harders wrote in an email. “I was also very happy to work with the director of athletics to raise over $7 million in sponsorship dollars, which allowed Kennesaw State to start its football program.”

Increased donations also rose at Kennesaw State, and with this money they increased need-based scholarships for students and scholarships for students with good academic merit, Harders wrote.

As executive director of development at Missouri State University, Harders coordinated staff and volunteers and encouraged alumni and friends of the university to donate to the “Our Promise” fundraising campaign.

“The ‘Our Promise’ campaign was a comprehensive campaign for Missouri State to raise $125 million,”  Harders wrote. “We were raising funds to support students and faculty, programs and facilities. We passed the $125 million goal about 18 months earlier than planned, and the campaign concluded having raised more than $157 million.”

Both Harders and Gaber said they hope to bring this success to UT in the form of a new campaign, more alumni engagement and involvement and increased donations that would provide support for students and faculty in the form of more scholarships and professorships.

“I’ve been really pleased about the progress that we have made along the way,” said Gaber. “We’re continuing to tweak and understand what we need to do better. I think a new leader comes in and provides a fresh set of eyes.”

One of the goals Gaber has set for Harders is to bring the department for advancement together to work more as a team.

“I think that Mike has the opportunity to take the group and help the group work very cohesively,” Gaber said, “because that was something they weren’t doing a year and a half ago.”

Harders explained that he wants to work with the advancement team to reach out to the entire UT community and use that support to help the university achieve its goals and add value to the institution.

“We have a great university,” Harders wrote. “We need to tell our story and share the wonderful things that are happening on campus with our alumni, friends and other community members across the nation and world.”




Understanding the mental health of African Americans

Only one quarter of African-Americans seek mental health care, compared to 40 percent of Caucasian people, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Steven Kniffley Jr. spoke about the importance of mental health and its relation to the black community last week.

“Your mental health is equally as important as your physical health,” Kniffley said.

Kniffley’s talk, a part of the University of Toledo’s recognition of Black History Month, touched on the negative reputation emotional health receives between African-Americans and what individuals can do to help.

The presentation discussed the priority of reinventing ways the black community perceives the field of psychology and stressed the significance of psychological well-being.

Having written a book entitled, “Knowledge of Self: Understanding the Mind of the Black Male,” Kniffley specializes in examining what factors influence the poor perception of psychology and how it impedes care.

“There is a lack of awareness related to access of treatment when it comes to mental health,” Kniffley said.

Those in attendance recognized the value in the discussion and its importance within the UT community. African Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population, according to the NAMI website.

“It’s an important thing to talk about,” said one community member. “Working in the criminal justice system, I see that people need access to behavioral health rather than incarceration.”

Kniffley went on to mention key historical moments in the black community and how they have formed the current view on mental health.

“From the beginning, we [African-Americans] have sought to be psychologically free and it has always been pathologized,” Kniffley said.

African American Initiatives graduate assistant Kelley Webb saw the significance of Kniffley’s presentation.

“It is a conversation that needs to be had. He touched on a lot of pertinent things in the black community,” Webb said.

Kniffley closed with a simple call to action and equipped the room with a way to improve views on the field of psychological health.

“Listen. Ask what you can do to help,” Kniffley said.

UT offers counseling services to any regularly admitted UT student who is currently enrolled. The Counseling Center can be contacted at 419.530.2426.




University of Toledo reacts to travel ban

In response to President Trump’s recent travel ban that prohibited individuals from seven countries from entering the United States, University President Sharon Gaber released a statement to the University of Toledo community.

“The University of Toledo welcomes people of all racial, ethnic, cultural, socioeconomic, national and international backgrounds,” the statement reads. “Diversity is a core value of the University. We believe our diversity makes us stronger, and we work hard to create an environment of inclusion.”

Gaber also sent an email stating that campus police have not inquired about immigration status in the past and there are no plans to start doing so. According to the statement, UT has signed the BRIDGE Act, which would give students temporary protection from deportation to continue living in the U.S. with permission from the federal government.

However, some faculty and students at UT believe that the school has not taken a strong enough stance in their statement.

“I value President Gaber’s emphasis on the importance of diversity on this campus and I do believe it is true and important to state,” wrote Liat Ben-Moshe, assistant professor disability studies. “But the statement remains vague and lacking in concrete action items or specificity.”

After the University of Michigan released a statement that flatly refused to release the immigration status of their students, Ben-Moshe and Shahrazad Hamdah, a UT graduate student, were inspired to start a petition to call on UT to affirm its commitment to diversity with actions rather than vague statements.

The petition states, “We, concerned students, staff, faculty, alumni, and Toledo community members, call upon the University of Toledo to ensure the legal status of all students and employees who may be affected by the recent immigration ban.”

Among the petition’s urges are for the university not to disclose immigration status or country of origin, to facilitate the return of employees and students who wish to come back to the University of Toledo but cannot because of the recent executive order and to keep student status on hold if they are kept from returning to the United States.

“The goal is protest the legitimacy of the immigration ban and affirm our commitment to each other,” Ben-Moshe wrote.

At the time of print, the petition has been signed by 610 students and faculty member. Ben-Moshe added that some signatures might be alumni as well.

Regarding enrollment at UT, Sammy Spann, assistant provost for international studies and programs, said there is speculation that the travel ban will impact next year’s admissions and could potentially have an impact on recruitment.

“We will have some students who will pull out of going here and some who will go to Canada,” Spann said. “I have two students who are working on the process now of transferring to Canada.”

According to Spann, two students from Yemen were accepted into UT and intended to begin in March. However, due to the ban, those students are now unable to attend UT.

Spann ensured that UT is putting forth a lot of effort in making students feel secure and welcomed.

“My staff has been available. We have open door policy,” Spann said. “We have open forums and we are going to have more open forums. We are going to work with the community and some law officers in the local area to talk about students’ rights.”




University of Toledo reacts to the travel ban

The University of Toledo is home to approximately 2,000 international students, accounting for 10% of the student body. According to Sammy Spann, assistant provost for international studies and programs, the national average is in 5-7%, meaning the University of Toledo is one of the more diverse college campuses.

Spann said there are about 75 faculty and students who are from the seven banned countries and described the atmosphere amongst international students as tense.

“This country was founded and built off immigrants,” Spann said. “This country is strong because of its diversity and though it is one of the most diverse countries in the world, it is, in my mind, one of the best countries in the world.”

American is land of freedoms. That is how Iranian PhD. student  GV viewed the US when she decided to further her education abroad in 2011. GV had admissions from Italy, but ultimately decided that the US was the better option.

“I was really, really excited,” GV said. “Even when I was applying.”

GV said that she knew the US was not a “dreamland” and it wouldn’t always be easy, but she chose to look at it like an adventure. GV said she always received respect as a researcher and people were friendly.

During her studies in the US, GV has contributed six years of research; she has helped make advancements in science and technology, yet it suddenly feels like it isn’t appreciated or respected. GV said she finds the ban to be unethical and discriminatory.

GV’s parents coincidentally happened to be visiting her when the ban was announced. Later this month they are going back to Iran. Under the ban, GV said she is uncertain when she will see her family again, including her sister who she has not seen in six years.

“They don’t say anything because they don’t want to terrify me,” GV said. “They don’t want to take their support from me. They want me to finish my studies the best I can. They always say they are really proud of me. But I see that they are really sad.”

Since GV has a single entry student visa, if she leaves the US she would have to apply for another visa. Because of this, GV said she never took the risk of going back to Iran to visit family.

“When I was coming my mom was really, really sad,” GV said. “Back then it was risky, and I was taking the risk, but I was happy that my parents could still come visit me. I could not go back, but that’s fine because they could come here.”

In the event that the ban stands, GV will have to make tough decisions regarding her future.

“If it goes permanent, I’m not sure I am going to take the chance of living this far away from my family and never have the chance to go back and see them. It’s not worth that,” GV said.

GV intends to graduate next year. Before the ban was announced, GV said her plan was to get a job in the US. However, due to the ban, what once seemed like so many post-graduation options suddenly diminished.

“I was always thinking I was going to look for good jobs in my area. But right now it is very vague, I do not even know if I am allowed to do that. I was going to look for jobs all over in the US.”

Regarding work opportunities in Iran, GV said they are much more limited for women. Though GV said there are more options than there were six years ago, the opportunities are still very low.

Despite the tension and uncertainty of the ban, GV said she remains hopeful.

“That’s because I don’t feel like sitting somewhere and saying ‘oh, I’m sorry this happened.’ And just accept it,” GV said. “I am going to do whatever I can in my situation.”

GV described herself as an idealist who would love a “no borders” mentality. But in reality, she understands this is not possible. She said she has respect for everyone’s thoughts and knows they have reasons for them.

Even if Iran was excluded from the ban, GV said she would still fight for other people affected.

“I want peace and freedom for all humankind worldwide,” GV said.




Forum held to discuss current U.S. political atmosphere

During his lecture “The Election and the Future,” Jeffrey Broxmeyer, assistant professor in the UT department of political science and administration, said the 2016 election came down to four distinct areas of interest: unequal economic gains, declining trust in institutions, polarization and the gridlock in the national government.

Broxmeyer’s lecture focused on the election, the future of the United States and the changing American political landscape. It was hosted by the Golden Alumni Society on Feb. 3.

The purpose of the lecture is to ensure students and alumni are involved and well informed, said retired judge George Glasser, a member of the Golden Alumni Society and coordinator of the event.

Those four distinct areas of interest highlight concerns among the American people and concerns regarding the future of the U.S., Broxmeyer said.

“It’s safe to say that we are entering a period of historic uncertainty. This is important because this is the world our new president inherits,” said Broxmeyer.

Much of the international infrastructure, the system of security and economic alliances that was constructed by the US and her allies are in a moment of free fall, according to Broxmeyer.

There are a number of significant changes occurring around the world, from Brexit to the rise of what political scientists call “BRIC countries” – Brazil, Russia, India and China – where a lot of the global economic growth and an increase in military resources has been concentrated, and an increase in authoritarian governments.

“A number of political scientists a few years ago noted that, when countries move from authoritarian forms of government to democracies, that’s a process we refer to as democratization,” Broxmeyer said. “It’s clear now that this period [of democratization] is now over, and the wave is going in the other direction. We have a wave of de-democratization that is taking place, and there are a fresh number of dictatorships consolidating all over the world.”

Broxmeyer also suggested in his lecture that the U.S. is now in an era of “bad feelings,” which is characterized by growing political polarization.

“We used to have some common ground in the center of the political spectrum and the political system. Republicans have become more conservative and Democrats have become more liberal, and the middle has pretty much fallen out,” said Broxmeyer. “A poll by Keith Pool suggests that Congress today is more polarized than after the Civil War.”

The distance between the parties has been growing since the 1970s, and, according to a poll by Pew Research, 27 percent of Democrats viewed the Republicans as a threat to the nation’s well-being, whereas 36 percent of Republicans saw the Democrats as a threat.

Polarization has altered and even halted the democratic process on Capitol Hill, said Broxmeyer.

“One example is the minority party in the House of Representatives who is completely shut out of input of running the House. What we refer to in political science as the “textbook Congress” is dead and has been for a long time now,” said Broxmeyer.

What has replaced this traditional system of governing, according to Broxmeyer, is a centralized system that places power into the hands of party leaders in Congress who effectively suspend the “textbook” rules of policy-making. Instead, Broxmeyer explained, policy is crafted by a small group, leaving the minority party to filibuster or delay legislation in response creating a deadlock.

Broxmeyer believes that an increasing polarization and a never-ending gridlock has contributed to a collapse of trust in Congress and other major institutions, including the media and banks.

“[Institutions are] a major indicator of the vitals of our democracy, because in a system of popular sovereignty when the government moves in some direction, it must be able to claim legitimacy from the people,” Broxmeyer explained. “Weak legitimacy can lead to some elements of mistrust and anger.”

According to exit polls in the presentation, 67 percent of the white working class without a college degree voted for Trump, many of whom, Broxmeyer said, are frustrated with stagnated wages and a steep increase in work productivity since the 1970s. This trend remains true among other disaffected workers as well.

“According to exit polls from Ohio, Republicans turned out more in Ohio than Democrats,” said Broxmeyer. “Donald Trump over-performed in rural areas, with white workers with a high school education or less and [with] late deciders.”

Donald Trump ran as an anti-establishment dealmaker who could break through the gridlock and dysfunction in Washington. Broxmeyer believes that polarization helped retain Republican support even with his unorthodox promises regarding foreign policy and immigration.

“What I told my political science students on the first day of class was that Trump will do what he promised,” said Broxmeyer.

As for the Democrats who are effectively out of power, Broxmeyer believes public protests and demonstrations will continue well into Trump’s presidency depending on the turnout of the mid-term elections.

“This is the first time the Golden Alumni Society is hosting a program about an election,” Glasser said in a press release from UT News. “The subject is on everybody’s mind and [is] stirring up a great deal of controversy and opinions. We want to serve the community by utilizing some of the fine resources we have at the University to provide information, discussion and answers to questions.”

Broxmeyer is currently researching American political development focuses on the wealth accumulated by party leaders during the 19th century and also teaches courses about political parties and the presidency.




Angela Davis addresses university

Former political prisoner turned famed activist Angela Davis presented a keynote speech discussing the current fight for justice to kick off Black History Month at the University of Toledo. The speech was presented to a large group in The Lancelot Thompson Student Union Auditorium on Feb. 4.

The recurrent discussion presented in Davis’s speech, entitled The State of Black America: Views from a political activist, was on the intersectionality of struggle.

“We need to realize that Black History Month is an occasion for all those that believe in freedom. This is not just a negro problem,” Davis said.

The speech focused on the importance of celebrating our own potential as agents in the movement towards freedom, a message that resonated with fourth-year student Gabrielle Hodges.

“I’ve been a huge admirer of Davis for years now. She has been a major influence of gaining knowledge of myself as a young, black woman in my 20s,” Hodges said. “It was an honor to hear her speak today.”

Davis connected historical points in her talk with current events and went on to discuss the parallels between racism towards African Americans to the present bout with islamophobia .

“As we celebrate Black History Month let us therefore recognize the connections between anti-black racism and anti-Muslim racism. To argue that immigration from certain Muslim countries will lead to terrorism is simply , islamophobia” Davis said.

Those coming to stand in support with diverse groups understood Davis’s ability to recognize those outside of the black community.

“I came out today to learn from a great revolutionary activist. I am here in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and all other struggles for freedom,” said one audience member .

Davis worked to rally the audience near the end of her address and used her closing remarks to tie in her current stance on abolishing the prison system with the idea of freedom.

“A population of people is produced who have nowhere to turn. This is why you have seen the rise in the numbers of people in prison,” Davis said. “They prevent us from grappling with the complexities of the problems of our time.”

With applause and a standing ovation from the audience, Davis stepped down from her platform.

“Everyone is responsible for everyone. We are all in this together,” said another audience member.




University of Toledo Astronomer appointed to NASA

Tom Megeath, assistant professor in the department of physics and astronomy, was chosen to serve a three-year term as a member of the executive committee for NASA’s Cosmic Origins Program Analysis Group. Megeath specializes in the formation of stars and planets.

“Their intent is to advise NASA on the directions they should go in terms of research about cosmic origins,” said Karen Bjorkman, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, distinguished university professor of astronomy and Helen Luedtke Brooks endowed professor of astronomy. “It has to do with all the different kinds of science that NASA is interested in regarding the universe. It has to do with whether there are habitable planets round there around other stars.”

According to UT News, Megeath was the primary investigator for the Herschel Orion Protostar Survey, one of 21 competitively awarded Key Programs on the European Space Agency’s Herschel far-infrared space-based telescope. This program studied the creation of stars, particularly in the Orion nebula region of the sky, by combining data from Herschel and several other space telescopes.

“When it comes to allocating resources, NASA needs guidance from the astronomers who use its huge range of instruments to collect data,” Megeath said. “The work I do with the advisory group will influence and contribute to NASA missions 10, 20 years from now. This is a huge opportunity for us here at UT.”

According to Bjorkman, the Cosmic Origins Program Analysis Group is comprised of many subcommittees. JD Smith, UT associate professor of astronomy, is the chair of the NASA Far-Infrared Science Interest Group, which works together with the Cosmic Origins group.

“I’m delighted that our astronomers are connected with this because it shows that we have really good scientists that are working here who are acknowledged national and internationally,” Bjorkman said.

Bjorkman described the involvement of UT astronomers as important because it gives UT a seat at the table in these conversations about the future of space science, astronomy research and things of that nature.

“We can make sure that we’re going to be engaged and our students are going to be engaged,” Bjorkman said, “and it helped us to think of what schools our students need to have as we go into the future, and the same skills that astronomers needed yesterday are not the ones that they need tomorrow.”