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Yik Yak app gains popularity and infamy on campus

“For fun, I sit in McConn with headphones that are playing nothing and listen to people’s conversations. Priceless!” yakked an anonymous student recently.

Actually, there’s no way to know if the user is an Indiana Wesleyan University student because of the complete anonymity afforded by the newest fad mobile app: Yik Yak.

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Yik Yak is the newest social app used by many students on IWU’s campus.

Yik Yak is a social media app that, according to their website, allows users to “get a live feed of what everyone’s saying around you.” Like an anonymous twitter, users post 200-character “yaks,” which are then upvoted or downvoted by other readers.

Five downvotes removes the yak entirely, while upvotes will increase visibility on the app’s “hot” page. The complete lack of usernames or profiles means one cannot follow or unfollow people. Messages show up from every user in your location, approximately a mile radius.

“I think it started out harmless,” Connor Neel (jr) said. “I didn’t see a problem with it. I liked it at first.”

Neel has been using the app for about three weeks but less lately.

“At first, maybe I just didn’t notice as many of the bad yaks, but now, some of them are getting very out-of-hand,” he said.

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People feel free to post whatever is on their mind since they will be anonymous.

Jossy Carder (fr) also has been involved with Yik Yak since it started gaining popularity.

“You didn’t really connect with students, but you were talking to other students so it kind of felt like you were part of IWU,” Carder said.

Due to the inappropriate nature of some of the yaks, students have questioned whether the administration will get involved.

“I think Yik Yak is still in the stages where most people don’t know about it, its just still making its way to us,” IWU Social Media Manager Jay Filson said. “I think they [the administration] are still trying to figure out what it is.”

Yik Yak does allow for communities to self-monitor, Filson added, encouraging students to “band together” and downvote yaks that are detrimental to the IWU community.

However, Cindy Coats (sr) decided to simply delete the app.

“I saw it and I wasn’t going to sit there and read it,” Coats said. “It doesn’t build up IWU at all. It makes us look bad. We’re supposed to be a set-apart school for Jesus; we really are. We aren’t living a beyond-reproach status, in my opinion.”

Neel is also concerned about how this makes IWU look as a school. He does not believe that our feed is a true representation of our student body.

“If someone were visiting and were to look at our Yik Yak, it might give them the wrong idea about how the people are,” Neel said.

Carder has seen the positive side of the student body through Yik Yak.

“If someone posts something about feeling down, there are some people on there that will say, ‘It’s okay, God will help you through this,’ but then there’s other representations of people too,” Carder said.

If Yik Yak continues to grow in popularity and in inappropriate qualities, the anonymity of the app makes it difficult to monitor. At this point, he doesn’t feel there is a reason to get involved, but admits it could be a problem in the future.Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 12.53.15 PM

“There’s a couple college campuses [Norwich University, University of Iowa] that have already banned it. I don’t know if theres a way that we could regulate it without banning it, or if we would even want to,” Filson said.  “We don’t want to have to step in, but if it got to a point where students are being harassed or bullied or really hurtful things are being said, then I think its probably something we would look into.”

This has already been part of Carder’s experience.

“I’ve already been targeted twice with Yik Yak. Someone said, ‘The annoying girl in Hodson, please get out,’ and that made me really upset,” Carder said. “There was another time when they said, ‘I don’t know why Jossy’s so mad, if we all know she’s a slut.’”

Yik Yak is also full of Yaks complaining about roommates, teachers and classes.

“Quiet hours clearly mean nothing to my suitmate [sic] who is currently blasting ‘smack that’ while she’s showering,” a user posted.

Still, many other Yaks have a more positive nature.

“It’s crazy how spending 5 minutes in the presence of God can change my attitude completely #iloveJesus,” another user posted.

“What we would really hope, as a university, is that our students would be mature enough and would be conscious enough about the things that they say that we don’t have to worry about it,” Filson said.

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The inside scoop on chapel worship

Meg Sanders (jr), Taylor Showley (jr) and their band lead worship in the Chapel Auditorium.

Meg Sanders (jr), Taylor Showley (jr) and their band lead worship in the Chapel Auditorium.

Before each designated chapel, worship leaders Taylor Showley (jr) and Meg Sanders (jr) meet to pray about which songs they want to sing at the service. After shooting around ideas, they leave, pray on their own and convene before making a decision.

“Our motto is that we seek God first, and he takes care of the rest,” Showley said.

Worship teams at Indiana Wesleyan University have garnered both praise and criticism for the songs they perform in the Chapel Auditorium, especially the new songs. But regardless of certain comments, the worship teams have one goal in mind: to honor God.

“We’re praying about everything … but also taking into consideration and praying about what our student body wants,” worship chaplain Rachel Rubadiri (jr) said. “We’re just here to be with Jesus.”

The chapel worship team consists of five bands on rotation. Each band has at least one worship leader who proposes which songs they will perform.

Rubadiri, Assistant Professor of Church Music Dr. Michael Dennis and Chapel Coordinator Jennifer Martin review the list of songs submitted by worship leaders.

The team assesses each song based on a rubric from Dr. Constance Cherry’s book “Selecting Songs for Worship.” The rubric’s three categories include theology, lyrics and music. They either approve the list or make some suggestions.

The topic of introducing new songs in chapel has come up several times in weekly meetings, Rubadiri said. So far, the group is beginning to “lean more towards getting back to the basics.”

“A new song can be great, but it can be hard sometimes,” Rubadiri said. “[People] really enjoy when we do traditional songs as well, and that’s something that we’ve really looked at.”

When the worship team introduces several new songs on one day, it can be “alienating” to students who are unfamiliar with them, according to Ariel Blocher-Smith (jr).

“It’s good to have some more familiar ones to draw people in and … make them feel welcome, especially if we would have students visiting,” Blocher-Smith said.

Showley said introducing the audience to new songs is “really a challenge for us as worship leaders to do.”

Whenever the worship band introduces a new song, Rubadiri said, the intent is to repeat it enough so that the audience becomes familiar with it.

Another challenge worship leaders face is that everyone on campus comes from a different background, Showley said. Sometimes, everyone on the worship team will know a song and perform it, only for the audience to not receive it well.

Showley said the worship leaders are constantly in communication about how and when to introduce new songs.

“We’re students,” Showley said. “We’re learning too.”

Showley said she and Sanders have some new songs they think will be received well. They are waiting for the right time to introduce them.

“We want to create an atmosphere and a space where people can meet with God. That is our number one goal,” Showley said. “If it’s where God’s place is and it’s what he wants to do in that chapel service, then we’ve done our job.”

This semester’s worship chapels fall on Oct. 15 and Nov. 24. On these days, the worship bands will play for the entirety of the service.

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SGA forum highlights ways to accept LGBTQ community

“Some of the views you might actually disagree with, and that’s okay,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs for Student Government David Priest (sr).  This is how he introduced the Student Government Association’s forum on LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer) issues Oct. 8, which was a continuation of the forum held last year.

This forum comes at a critical time when many Christians schools, and specifically schools who join Indiana Wesleyan University in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), are facing legal consequences about their traditional stances against homosexual practices among their faculty and students.

In July, Michael Lindsey, president of Gordon College, signed a petition asking President Barack Obama to add an exemption clause for religious institutions from a pending non-discrimination order.

Gordon is now facing the loss of city contracts and looking over their own policies against “homosexual practices” under pressure from their accreditation board, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Gordon students seem to be on board with the changes. A recent petition, started by a Gordon alumnus, asking for the phrase “homosexual practice” be removed from the Life and Conduct Statement has more than 1,000 signatures at this point.

At IWU, students like Phil Ross (sr) hope this forum will bring a new perspective on the conversation.

“Time and time again we’re called as Christians to enter into the world and to be the light and salt of the earth and to go and be community with those who really need to be reached out to,” Ross said. “This is a group of people that we’ve marginalized and put to the side and ignored over and over again.”

Ross emphasized people don’t have to change their theological perspective to be friends and love the people around them, no matter their sexual orientation.

“Both the church and the LGBTQ community have harmed each other greatly … but we’re called to be the redemptive people that bring healing on the earth,” Ross said.

Indiana University journalism student Suzanne Grossman, an openly gay Christian, gave her perspective on what IWU can do as a community to be more loving to those around it.

“Something they could do for maybe transgender students is incorporate more training in the health center on how to handle certain situations,” Grossman said.

She explained how changing access to legal versus preferred names at IU has helped transgender students so they are not accidentally “outed” while a teacher is taking attendance or they are waiting in the doctor’s office.

“You don’t have to be affirming or non-affirming to accept policies that are more inclusive, such as that,” Grossman said.

George Fox University and California Baptist University have both recently faced lawsuits involving transgender students and their housing policies. Currently, IWU has no policy or precedents for dealing with transgender students.

Ross commented on further ways to build community. He critiqued the counseling sessions, saying they can feel like a “fix it” situation.

“I think a lot of people see it as, well if you’re struggling with this, then go here and you can get help,” Ross said, “Rather, I would love to see what it would look like to have discussion groups on these topics.”

He advocates for groups that can discuss more casually, so people who have LGBTQ friends or family members will also feel welcome to learn more about this debate.

Wheaton College, also a member of the CCCU, recently created a group called Refuge, where LGBTQ students can meet in community. At the moment, this group is only open to LGBTQ students, not to all who wish to discuss the matter, but it is the first time a group like this has been made official on Wheaton’s campus.

However, nine other CCCU schools have rejected applications for club status from LGBTQ groups. These schools will not accept groups that want to affirm gay identity or advocate for gay rights, given their theological backgrounds and code of conduct policies.

As IWU and Christian colleges in general move further into discussions and dealings with sexuality, Professor of Mission and Anthropology from Trinity University Dr. Robert Priest, believes these institutions must take their education on the topic of sexuality seriously.

“We’re not cultivating the kinds of expertise and in-depth understandings that give us even a credible platform to speak into this situation,” Priest said. “We are a knowledge institution. We have no coursework, no curriculum, no sustained year-after-year effort to forge better understandings, but now legally we are trying to come up with an answer.”

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Facilities Services to take down fountain

By Angelica Huffman and Brandon Stilabower, contributing writers

The fountain outside Jackson Library has been an IWU landmark for more than a decade. It will be removed later this fall.

The fountain outside Jackson Library has been an IWU landmark for more than a decade. It will be removed later this fall. // Photo by Lauren Dafoe

The fountain outside of the Jackson Library in Eastburn Plaza, a campus landmark for more than a decade, will be disassembled and removed for good in the coming weeks, according to Assistant Vice President of Facilities Services, Don Rowley.

“Probably after Grandparents Weekend, you’ll see us disassembling it,” Rowley said.

The fountain, which was installed about 12 years ago with the completion of the library, is made of fiberglass, rather than concrete. Several cracks and dips are now visible, due to years of wear.

The lifecycle of fiberglass is about 10 to 15 years, Rowley said.

“We’ve done what we can and we’re really at our limits as far as making repairs,” Rowley said.  “There’s a lot of band-aids behind the scenes that people don’t see that we’ve put on to make it last this long.”

Sitting and walking on the fountain has contributed to its current state, Rowley said. Students’ soaping pranks have made no impact on the basic structure, though they have led to the replacement of several pumps.

But Rowley doesn’t place the blame on students.

“Everything has a life expectancy. This one is at its life expectancy,” Rowley said. “There’s no blame to be cast on any students.”

This discussion is at the cabinet level of the institution now, involving Indiana Wesleyan University President David Wright, Dr. Keith Newman and John Jones, who is the Vice President of Operations.

The group is hoping to bring another iconic item to campus, in place of the fountain.

With a statue, Rowley suggested, there is less opportunity for mischief to occur. But even the hallowed John Wesley statue has been subject to various kinds of mischief—underwear placed on its head, receiving a lei around its neck, and, in recent days, a pumpkin splattered on its form.

“With any feature, there’s going to be a level of mischief associated with it,” Rowley said.

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