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International Film Festival Comes to Roanoke

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Written by Jessica Shelburne

The RC Department of Modern Languages is hosting the first annual International Film Festival from Feb. 19-24.

Seven films, representing seven different countries, cultures and languages (all subtitled in English) will be shown to the campus and surrounding community to promote unification through awareness and diversity.

“Film is a medium in which we can see other places and reach other people,” Dr. Elizabeth Groff said. “The films will each draw attention to the topic of immigration, presenting a firsthand perspective of all the different struggles one embarks throughout the process of immigrating before, during and after arriving in a country.”

Dr. Groff finds foreign film intriguing and important because they are characteristic of the film industries in different countries and display what is important to them. Many of the films have been directed recently, by individuals well-known in the foreign film industry.

Gianfranco Rosi, Mark Kendall and Boris Lojkine are three of the seven directors responsible for these eye-opening films. Some films will be fiction and others will be documentaries, but regardless of genre, they will each highlight their respective cultures and complement one another.

The film screenings will occur at different times on-campus and off-campus at The Grandin Theatre and Taubman Museum. The screenings are free and open to all and will be followed by group discussion, during which time thoughtful input about the film and what it presented is welcomed.

Leaders of this event are optimistic for a plentiful turnout, with hopes that everyone will be uniquely influenced by the meaning behind the films.

The festival kicks off with the first film, titled The World at 6:00pm, Feb. 19 in the Chapel. For more times and locations check out this website: https://rcinternationalfilmfest.wordpress.com.

Looking Ahead to Spring Sports

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Written by Ian Gillen and Kaelyn Spickler

It’s that special time of year again.  It’s the time that special someone has been waiting for.  No not Valentine’s day, spring sports season! Our hearts are as full as our potential during these trying times of cold practices, early mornings, and pre-season workouts.

Coming off of a 14-6 season that saw another NCAA tournament trip for the team, the Men’s Lacrosse team finds themselves all across the rankings.  In three different preseason polls the team has been ranked 15th,15th, and 1st. With their strong ranking and returning All Americans the team hopes for an even more successful 2019.

The Women’s Lacrosse team kicks off their season with a home game this Saturday at Kerr Stadium against Centre College.  The team hopes to rebound off of an up and down season last year. “Our goal is to work together and play every game to the best of our ability. We are all really excited to play our first game and put to action all of the things we have been practicing,” said sophomore Frankie Sefcik.

Ranked number three in the ODAC preseason polls, the Baseball team hopes to build off of their 2nd place ODAC finish in last year’s ODAC standings to propel them into greater postseason success.  The team has received several votes in preseason rankings, and returns ODAC Rookie of the Year, Will Salva. The team is kicking off their season Friday, February 8 with a doubleheader at Methodist. “Our team goal this season is to get better everyday at practice and hopefully make it to the National Championship,” said freshman Waring Garber.

The Softball team will get a late start this season as they won’t start until early March, when they will host Geneva College.  The team will hope for greater postseason success, as they took an early exit out of last year’s ODAC tournament despite a fourth placed 24-18 record. The team is feeling excited about the upcoming season as they set their sights high. “The team is most excited about giving a great final season to our seniors. They have worked so hard to get where they are, and they deserve to go all the way to Nationals,” said sophomore Allison Wagner.

Opening their season on Saturday, February 23 at St. Mary’s, the Men’s Tennis team hopes to live up to their 8th place ODAC preseason poll. The team has a young roster, and they are counting on them to bring some fresh talent on the court to get them to ODACs.

The Women’s Tennis team will begin their season at home next Friday, February 15 as they face Guilford College. The team is ranked 5th in the ODAC preseason poll, and they are using that to push them to success. Last season, the team had three women named to First-Team All-ODAC, Madeline Herring, Carolyn Kitsock, and Janny Alvarado, and all three are returning this year which gives the team an edge.

Whether you are hoping for love letters or buzzer beaters we hope these upcoming times treat you well, and you enjoy the last Maroon Athletics of the year.

Local Journalist and Activist Beth Macy Addresses Opioid Crisis

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Written by Aeryn McMurtry and Zoe Manoukian

Beth Macy, author of New York Times bestseller “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America,” visited RC on Feb. 6 to give a lecture about her book and the opioid crisis affecting southwest Virginia. “Dopesick” follows the lives of families affected by the crisis and investigates Purdue Pharma, the company largely responsible for fueling the proliferation of opioid addiction by aggressively promoting their prescription opiates.

According to the research in “Dopesick,” 72,000 people died to drug overdose deaths last year and approximately 60,000 of those were opioid related. It began in “politically unimportant” and distressed rural areas such as Appalachia and coastal Maine that were losing jobs and were susceptible to manipulation by pharmaceutical companies. Macy talked at length about the marketing and financial bonuses that doctors were given by Purdue Pharma as rewards for prescribing OxyContin.

“5,000 doctors and nurses and pharmacists took free trips to resorts to learn how to become paid speakers for Purdue Pharma. This was really widespread, not just for opioids in Purdue and OxyContin, but a lot of sales reps of all pharmaceuticals were arriving at physicians’ workplaces with free lunches [and other gifts]… and all in exchange for them doing a little pitch for their drug,” said Macy.

Perhaps the most urgent factor motivating Macy’s public advocacy regarding the opioid crisis is the substantial amount of misconceptions and mistruths that are present in the way people are understanding and reacting to the crisis.

“It was happening all around and it didn’t seem like people understood how we got here and everyone, every race, every social class, every gender is at risk, and so I wanted to tell a story that was important,” said Macy.

Though she identifies distressed rural parts of the United States as having been impacted from the start, Macy also asserts that wealthy neighborhoods are affected by the epidemic. She found that in Hidden Valley, an upper middle class suburb of Roanoke, young people who had become addicted to opioids were resorting to tactics such as asking their parents for money to use for a new laptop that was instead spent on drugs, or securing jobs moving furniture for the elderly in order to get access to and steal opioids from their home.

According to Dr. Shannon Anderson, associate professor of sociology and coordinator of public health studies, “A final true misconception is that opioid use happens to people different from ‘us.’”

Macy’s book focuses on a wide range of affected people in an effort to fix this misconception, and she acknowledges the challenges of this task.

“The opioid epidemic is festering and growing. It does so by taking advantage of long standing fissures in American society: the fundamental difference between law enforcement and medicine, between punishing the addicted or getting them treatment for their substance use disorder,” said Macy.

The fact is that an opioid  addiction can happen to any and all of us, and addiction is a slippery slope.

“The main thing is that a lot of people start out and are like ‘well it’s pills, it’s prescribed by a physician, it’s safe.’ And even if not prescribed to them, they still think ‘I’m not going to die if I take one of these OxyContin.’ The thing is, that pill could lead you then to an addiction. None of these people I interviewed [that were] addicted to heroin planned to become a heroin addict. It can happen to any of us,” said Macy.

The most poignant section of Macy’s talk was her focus on Medication Assisted Treatment or MAT, and how the stigma around it is hurting more people than it’s helping.

“The criticism that I saw many people in my book hear when they would deign to be taking medication prescribed by their doctors,” said Macy, “was ‘you’re not really clean, you’re just substituting one medication for another.’”

The data overwhelmingly suggests that MAT is the most effective method for treating opioid addiction.

“To me, the science is really clear, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the CDC, and the World Health Organization all agree that the best kind of treatment for opioid use disorder is medication assisted treatment, which is Buprenorphine or Methadone. You are 50-60 percent likely to recover on Buprenorphine or Methadone as opposed to abstinence only, which works in about 8 percent of cases. The numbers are clear,” said Macy.

In the last 15 years 300,000 people died to drug overdose deaths, and many more will be lost in the next five. Only 10 percent of the addicted population get any special treatment at all. Over 50 percent of treatment facilities don’t offer MAT. Only 3 percent of facilities in America offer all three kinds of MAT. This is due to the stigma and belief in abstinence-only treatments.

“It takes the average person with opioid use disorder eight years and four to five treatment attempts to get just one year of sobriety. And in the age of fentanyl, most people don’t have eight years,” said Macy.

Macy calls on doctors to mitigate the crisis.

“I sort of call them out… I just think they were culpable in getting us into this crisis and should be a little more willing to step forward to get us out if it. They take this oath ‘do no harm’. And whether they were the ones that were overprescribing or not, ‘do no harm’ is helping people who are suffering, right? And not abandoning patients because they’re ‘addicts.’ [Opioid addiction] is really complicated and there’s a lot of nuisance… Just reading about it and educating yourself [is the best thing that the average person can do in hopes of alleviating the crisis],” said Macy.

FEAST Feeds, Inspires Artists

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Written by Robby Mangum

Last Wednesday, Olin Hall Galleries hosted FEAST, a dinner for RC students majoring in the fine arts. FEAST, which stands for Feeding Emerging Artists Something Tasty, is hosted semesterly. This event is designed to create a feeling of community in the arts program by allowing students to spend an evening together dining and playing games, and to allow the students to meet and get to know the gallery director, Talia Logan, and the assistant gallery director, Lacey Leonard. Leonard said that the event is partly designed to force art students to think about putting their works on show, which they must do in the spring.

During this semester’s FEAST, the students created an exquisite corpse. Exquisite corpse was invented by surrealists as a game to pass the time in French cafés during the 1930’s. The collaborative game involves one person making a contribution to a piece, and then passing it on to another person, who does the same, and so on. Logan stated that this semester’s FEAST had the event’s largest turnout to date. This was partly due to FEAST being opened up to any student currently taking a class in Olin Hall.

Students seem to enjoy these events. Carly Schepacarter, a sophomore majoring in art who attended FEAST, said that it helps to foster community and bring the art department together.

“I feel that I’ve made better artwork because of my improved comfort with faculty and my peers,” said Schepacarter.

Attention RC Men: Be Respectful of Women!

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Written by Zoe Manoukian

A few incidents that have occured over the last few months have led me to articulate a few frustrations and wishes that have been on my mind in some way or another over for a few years now.

Primarily, I wish that men might prioritize women’s comfort more assertively. I really began to

dwell on this topic after spending two hours collaging with a friend in a coffee shop one Monday night. Soon after we arrived, a 40-something (seeming) year-old man stopped by our table to ask us about our project, and after purchasing a coffee, sat down at our table and watched us work for the next hour. Good-intentioned as he may have been, what he may not have realized is that his actions made us very uncomfortable, and I think fairly. Out of dozens of tables, both empty and full, he not only chose to sit perpendicular to and at arm’s length away from ours, but he also seemed to have his eyes on us for a prolonged period of time. Maybe there was a perfectly fair explanation as to why he chose our specific table, and maybe he only appeared to be looking at us. Nonetheless, we had no way of knowing his intentions, and we walked to our cars when we were finished with keys between our fingers and scanning eyes, not willing to be the foolish girls who weren’t guarded after this interaction.

Of course, I can’t speak on this incident on behalf of all women, or any men who might have been uncomfortable for that matter. But many of the young women with whom I shared this story agreed that they would have been terribly uncomfortable as well.

In this case, the prioritization of our comfort would have manifested itself in him sitting elsewhere, and not forcing a conversation in which we demonstrated little interest. I discussed this with a male friend, and he suggested that I, like his girlfriend, carry Mace with me. To this, I said that carrying Mace may be the right decision for some women, but that it would be nice and doable for me to be able to sit in a café for an hour without feeling the need to form a mental plan in the case that we would have to use it upon leaving.

I am hoping that in the future, men like this one might be able to consider how his decision made us feel, and choose to act differently.

This might sound like I am asking men to inconvenience themselves, or to deny themselves opportunities of interesting conversation, and that’s because I am. Women are taught to sacrifice many comforts in order to live as safely as possible, and I think it would be a nice and considerate gesture for men to recognize this, and to live in such a way that isn’t likely to add more stress to our plates. That means: don’t stare, or appear to be staring, at women for an hour; don’t walk closely behind women at night; don’t sleep less than an arm’s length away from a woman who you don’t know when there are plenty of other sleeping spaces in an airport terminal at 2 in the morning… I would never demand that someone hold the door for me, or follow the golden rule, but I do appreciate when someone does these things. Essentially, a similar spirit, I am asking that they take a few seconds to evaluate whether or not their actions may come off as threatening to women, and if they do, think of how they can change in order to share the space in a way that makes all parties feel as comfortable as possible.