About nesplin

Elon University Communications Fellow double major in Journalism and Business/Marketing, Elon University Track and Cross Country team member

Water Warrior

By:  Nicole Esplin

WATER SKIING WONDER APRIL COBLE-ELLER CONTINUES DREAM AS PROFESSIONAL SKIER AND CAMP OWNER IN LILLINGTON, NC


April Coble-Eller first glided across the water on a pair of skis as a 3-year-old encouraged by her dad’s love for the sport and the thrill of being pulled through the water.

April Coble-Eller, a professional water skier and co owner of Coble Ski School Water Ski and Wakeboard Camp, lives in Lillington, NC with her family.

Thirty-four years later, Coble-Eller was just minutes away from skiing her most memorable pass on the slalom course at the 2010 Malibu Open against a former student, who was the world-record holder.

“It was a night event, a head-to-head final competition,” Coble-Eller said.  “We had so much fun until the last pass, the money pass.  I went into this fighting mode.  She made a comment at the end of the lake and said she couldn’t see very well.  I thought ‘well that’s good, because I can.’”

It had been thirteen years since Coble-Eller had last won a professional water skiing event at age 24.  “I wondered if I could win anymore,” she said.

Coble-Eller went on to win that night’s event, and add one more victory to her accomplishments as a water skier, which include 28 national titles, a world championship title and member of the US Ski Team.

“Nothing mattered that night except winning-I was in the zone.  It was awesome.”

That last big win was two years ago. Now, as a 39-year-old skier living in Lillington, NC, Coble-Eller runs a water ski and wake board camp with her family. Her father started the camp when she was a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill.

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Early Beginnings

Coble-Eller’s father Gary Coble taught April and her sister Valerie Coble to ski when they were toddlers.  Before April laced up her tennis shoes for her first day of kindergarten, she was skiing and competing.  “Waterskiing has been in our family longer than I can remember,” she said.

Coble-Eller won her first national competition at 12 years old and turned professional at 17 years old.  She started on the world tour 21 years ago, when she was 18 years old, and has been competing in international tournaments since.

Growing up, Coble-Eller practiced on a small lake in the town of Angier, NC.

“I skied on a pond.  There were 25 club members, and we fought for ski time,” Coble-Eller said.

When the pond closed down, Gary Coble began looking for lakes for Coble-Eller to practice on.  When he heard of an old rock quarry with multiple lakes for sale, he was hesitant at first.

“I was looking for a lake that I could buy or rent for a long, long time and I looked at literally hundreds and hundreds of lakes, but they were all too short,” Coble said.  “I had almost given up, but we lost the lake in Angier, so I was really looking hard.  I was a high school football coach, and one boy who played for me, a high school quarterback asked if I had been over to this property.

“I came over here and they had growth coming up, about 15 feet high.  I actually had to cut my way in to see the first lake,” Coble said.  “When I saw the first lake, I said, ‘man if I could just get a spot there, we could train there.’”

Ariel view of the lakes at Coble Ski School. Photo courtesy of cobleskischool.com

Coble took his wife Shirley to see the property, and the couple ended up renting an airplane to get a better look at the property.  When the Cobles saw the ten lakes expanding across the rural Lillington backdrop, they decided to buy the property.

“We had to start doing something very quickly to generate income, so we started teaching people how to ski.  That was in ’95,” Coble-Eller said.  “Back then, I still didn’t know if I wanted to run a business.  I didn’t go to business school; I didn’t know the first thing about running a business.”

Now, a full-time co owner of Coble Ski School, Coble-Eller is a natural at the work she does, both on and off the lake.

“April is geared a lot like me.  She can work long hours, and it takes a lot of long hours here,” Gary Coble said.  “They say it is typical of a football coach not to have any boys, and I had two girls, but April can drive a nail just like a boy can.  She helped me build most everything here.  We built it all.”

With 10 lakes in her back yard, multiple world-championship certified Mastercraft ski boats and a husband ranked top in the world in tournament boat driving, April has no need to fight for ski time.

Chris and April met on the UNC Water Ski team in college. Chris Eller skied professionally for a short time after college.
Photo courtesy of cobleskischool.com

April and her husband Chris Eller met at UNC on the ski team, and married in 2000.  Eller was the captain of UNC’s ski team for 3 years, and after college was ranked nationally in his age division and has skied professionally in the Moomba Masters in Australia.

“We started dating in ’97 and I started working at the camp in ’98-’99 full time.  Basically when I first started working there I was like every other instructor.  I cut grass, drove the boat, and coached,” Eller said.  “The first summer after I graduated I worked at a pharmaceutical company in Durham while still skiing.  I would ski in the morning before I went to work, and ski in the afternoon when I got home.”

When business picked up at the Ski School, Coble’s father asked Eller to work full-time at the school, where he still works as Coble’s business partner.

“There’s not always something that you have to do every day but there is probably something that needs to be done,” Eller said.  “At one point I may be a mechanic on a boat, and a couple hours later I may have to go do plumbing.  Its pretty cool that I’m not doing the same thing every day.  We’re sales people at boat shows and resort owners during the summer.”

World Wide Fame

Lillington is a small town in North Carolina, but champion water skiers around the world do not picture barbeque fests, Bible belt values and Campbell University when they think of this rural eastern NC town.

More likely, they will enter a daydream filled with a world-class water ski boat cutting through the surface of an aqua-marine lake.

Skier Jason Wrobleski skies while Chris Eller, co-owner of Coble Ski School drives the boat.

Jason Wrobleski travelled to Coble Ski School in April from Ohio to improve his skiing before the summer season started.

The Cobles welcome skiers from all over the world at their ski school.  In one afternoon, April coached, gave advice to an Australian man looking to start his own water ski park in Australia and received a complimentary hair cut from a student who owns his own hair salon in Time Square in New York City.

Due to North Carolina’s mild temperatures during the spring and fall, Australians and New Zealanders will travel to Coble Ski School for six months, from April to September, to work at Coble Ski School and train with Coble-Eller.

“I’ve been trying to get as much time with April as I can,” Katrina Pollard, a skier and camp instructor from New Zealand, said.  “Just so I can learn from everything she knows.  Really down-to-earth person, she’s good.  You couldn’t ask for any better, really.”

Alpine skiers have been drawn to the camp too, including Olivee Bourdough from British Columbia.

“I alpine ski in the winter, and my friends started waterskiing to supplement,” Bourdough said.  “They said you have to come try Coble Ski School.”

Coble-Eller has taught people from 2 years old to 92 years old to ski, including some of her peer competitors.

The most rewarding part of teaching people to ski is “watching people at any age gain self-confidence through the sport of waterskiing,” Coble-Eller said.

Throughout the course of the day, Coble-Eller and her instructors will coach all levels of skiers, from beginners who are learning to stand up on two skis to veterans, who have been skiing and competing for many years.

“I’ve been waterskiing for over 50 years,” student Jeff French said.  “She gave me a couple pointers that I can’t wait to try this summer.”

“It doesn’t matter how old you are,” Coble-Eller said.  “When you accomplish something you’ve never done, it’s breathtaking.  Priceless.”

Looking to the future

Now, as a mother with two kids, 8-year-old Kamryn and 5-year-old Landice, Coble-Eller is still ranked top 5 in the world and competing at the Masters level.

April Coble-Eller practices by listening to her own words of advice she gives to others trying to accomplish their dreams.

“Be serious, every time you go out to practice,” she said.  “Train like you are in a tournament every day.”

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Aramark Holds High Presence in Food Service Industry

By:  Nicole Esplin

What do Elon students, Olympic athletes, prison inmates and nursing home patients have in common?  Aramark.

People may recognize Aramark as the name written in bold red letters on white trucks they pass on the interstate or the name next to each deposit of meal plan dollars on Blackboard, but the service company stretches much further than Colonnades Dining Hall.

Whether it was a hotdog and fries at Wrigley Field or a pre-Olympic dinner consumed by an elite athlete at the Beijing Olympics, Aramark has provided the meal.

Aramark is a private service corporation based in Philadelphia that provides food services to nearly every industry.   Market Research firm IBIS World reported that Aramark “has the catering rights to 84 professional and college teams, including 42 teams in the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL.”

Additionally, Kalorama Information reported in their Foodservice Industry Report that Aramark provides service to more than 95,000 inmates in over 150 institutions in the United States.  In the Educational Sector, Aramark serves over 1 million students in 330 school districts, and in all their venues combined, they serve 1 billion cups of coffee, 400 million servings of soda and 200 million snacks a year.

Having expanded from its west coast roots which began in Southern California in 1936 in the trunk of founder Davre Davidson’s Dodge Coupe, Aramark is now recognized as one of Fortune Magazine’s 50 most admired companies of 2012 and one of Business Week’s best places to launch a job.  Aramark currently employs 250,000 workers from locations in 22 countries worldwide, and the average starting salary was between $40,000 and $44,999 in 2009.

Aramark competes in the food service industry with Compass Group, Sodexo and Delaware North Companies.  It currently holds 29.2% of the market share for the industry, according to IBIS World’s Food Service Contractors in the US March 2012 report.

Initiatives in Healthcare and Education Venues

How has Aramark transformed from a small service industry into a multinational company that serves more than 2 billion meals per year?

IBIS reported that the company’s revenue grew 4.1% in fiscal 2011 due to a focused effort to expand Educational and Healthcare venues, which offset a decline in its Sports and Entertainment sector.

“The company was particularly affected by reduced attendance at sporting functions, a fall in travel and tourism to national parks and lower attendance at convention center functions and meetings,” IBIS reported.

Datamonitor’s SWOT analysis of Aramark from April 8, 2011 reported that Aramark’s greatest opportunities for success were in the healthcare industry.  “The demographic trend towards an ageing population in the US which in turn boosts the demand for senior living, presents a strong growth opportunity for the company’s healthcare division,” Datamonitor reported.

To create a lasting impact in the healthcare sector, Aramark has corporate groups who work to market Aramark’s services to hospitals.

Bids for proposal usually come from self-operated venues or venues that have used specific contractors for a while and put out a bid to see what other service providers offer.

Aramark Administrative Coordinator for Duke University Hospital Erin Holdin discussed the process that the company uses to gain more clients.  “We always have feelers out there looking to see who has an open bid for proposal,” Holdin said.

Social Media Marketing Campaigns

Aside from the directional changes at corporate to increase their market share in the healthcare segment, marketing directors have evolved with the changing culture of the social media-driven marketplace by strategically placing campaigns in dining halls and joining forces with ethical campaign groups to present a flawless image to consumers.

“Social media is something that is growing, and we are evolving to meet that demand,” Holdin said.  “We have developed a managerial responsibility to monitor the various social networks and see what people are saying about our company.  We are trying to identify all the places that our services are being discussed and we provide feedback where it is appropriate.  We used to only worry about feedback from print articles, but now it is everywhere and all the time.  ”

At universities where Facebook and Twitter rule the electronic grid, marketing success for a company is directly related to the number of ‘likes’ a page receives by followers.

Aramark works to keep Facebook, Yelp and other social media sites free of negative comments regarding Aramark, Holdin said.

Aramark uses social media to update students with news daily about meal plan changes and different events happening with campus dining.

“Students are the ultimate multitaskers who expect to be able to access a variety of information in many formats 24 hours a day. Social media outlets and texting have become key communication vehicles for this demographic, so it is vital that dining services communicate via these channels,” Katie Nelson, Aramark Marketing Manager at Elon University, said.  “We have what we call a VIP Text Club where students can opt in to receive texts and special offers from dining services. We also maintain a Facebook page where we relay dining information, event news, changes, special coupons/deals and more.”

Nelson also works with the Elon University Student Government Association to promote student involvement in choosing meal options.

Jana Lynn Patterson, Assistant Vice President for Student Life at Elon University, works closely with Aramark.

“SGA supports the initiatives conducted by Aramark,” Patterson said.  “Usually, Aramark will come to an SGA meeting and report their general findings and any changes they are making based on those findings to the senate.”

“We meet regularly with the SGA Food Committee, conduct online surveys each semester, perform surveys and encourage students to provide their feedback and suggestions at any time,” said Nelson.

All the positive changes made by focused marketing campaigns have helped Aramark, but PR initiatives to highlight the company’s community service objectives have given it an edge against market competition.

The company was plagued by scandals in the 1970’s, when various publications accused Aramark (then named ARA) of involvement with corrupt owners, ties to the mob and low food quality.  The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s alternative news publication The Thistle reported, “In 1977, ARA admitted to making questionable and sometimes illegal payments between 1970 and 1976, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) report.”

Though there is certainly still a large percent of businesses and individuals who criticize Aramark, the food service corporation has managed to turn its image around on a national level.  Aramark’s rating on the Better Business Bureau website is an impressive B+ (much better than Compass Corporation, which posed a D), which is largely due to their strong public relations department.

If Aramark’s marketing initiatives revolve around social media, its public relations department is focused on strategy to promote it in an exclusively positive way.

In schools, Aramark has implemented the 10% campaign, where they promise to incorporate at least 10% local foods into their meals.  With the recent all-natural, all-local trend in the United States, Aramark caters to requests of consumers by highlighting which of their foods are produced locally with green logos.

“We purchase fresh, quality foods from local, regional and national suppliers who meet our high quality standards. We conduct a rigorous evaluation process before partnering with a supplier to evaluate whether they meet our standards for food safety and quality,” said Nelson.  “All the pastries and muffins in Acorn Coffee Shop are locally sourced and have the ‘local’ logo on their price tag. Each dining location offers a variety of local options.”

Aramark also teamed up with Elon University to create Elon’s Campus Kitchen campaign, which works to reduce food waste by donating left over dining hall food to the Allied Church’s soup kitchen in Burlington.  Aramark funded the project by donating $50,000 to the campaign, and provides resources including food, storage space, general expertise and equipment.

There is room for improvement for Aramark though.  According to OneSource’s Global Business Browser profile on Aramark, the company relies heavily on food and related products from SYSCO Corporation.  In 2010, almost 57% of Aramark’s food and non-food products in the US and Canada were distributed by SYSCO Corporation, and in the case of an emergency event or operation disagreement, Aramark’s food service to its venues would be compromised.

According to Datamonitor, Aramark’s biggest threat is the intense competition it faces against Compass Group and Sodexo.  “Intense competition may diminish the demand for the company’s products and subsequently the market share, which adversely affects the financial performance of the company,” reported Datamonitor.

Aramark’s projected revenue for the year ended September 2012 is $9.5 billion, an increase of over $500 million from 2011.  Through focused social media campaigns and increased presence in the healthcare sector, the company has laid the foundations for continued growth.

Focused, fearless and flexible: How to suceed as a journalist

People always ask kids what they want to be when they grow up.  As a kid, I never knew how to answer that question.  I never understood how it would be possible to confine my life to one job, one speciality.

This past Monday, Tina Firesheets, a veteran reporter at the Greensboro News and Record came to speak with our reporting class about her experience as a journalist.

As a journalist, Firesheets said, you get to learn something new every day.  Journalism is the job for naturally curious people, who want to “step into someone’s life for a time.”

To outsiders, journalism may appear to be a job for good writers and those with the most creative minds.  While these qualities make good journalists, after working as a student reporter for several years and hearing Firesheets speak about the professional side of reporting, I have found that reporting skills delve much deeper than writing skills and creativity.

Good reporters have to be focused, fearless and flexible.

Firesheets entered the journalism business by interning with the Henderson Times-News and freelancing in Brevard while she was in college.  When her mom was diagnosed with lung cancer her senior year of college, she took a year off and freelanced for the News and Record in their Entertainment magazine.  There could have been an easier route for Firesheets, she probably could have landed a communications job out of college, received a respectable first-year salary, and avoided freelancing all together.  But Firesheets knew that she wanted to be a reporter, and she kept her focus.

A large majority of my journalism class is female, and Fireshees encouraged us to be fearless in the journalism world (though she also advised us to be careful in certain situations).  As a young female journalist, Firesheets said, you must not be intimidated by interviewing businessmen who have been in the business for many years.  Always dress professionally, “always be on time, be early if you can, and allow for something to go wrong,” Firesheets said.

“If you don’t like being rushed and doing things quickly, this is not the job for you,” Firesheets said.  Being flexible with work hours, stories and skillls has always been a crucial part of journalism, but the evolution of social media and online news outlets has forced journalists to become even more accepting of new skills and processes.

Listening to Firesheets talk, I remembered why I chose to major in journalism.  It’s not about the money, or how hard it will be to enter the business.  It’s about that adrenaline rush when chasing a story, the experiences encountered while interviewing, the focus and determination while writing, the satisfaction of seeing your name in print (or online) at the top of the story, the story you shared to the world and the knoweldge you gave to your readers.

The Runner Regime: Strength tips from student athletes

By:  Brennan McDavid and Nicole Esplin

The recent spate of warm weather has had students substitute jeans for shorts, ditch their jackets, and dig out their beloved flip flops from the back of the closet.  Whether you are part of the first wave of students to show off your legs at the hint of warm weather or you savor the last weeks you will be able to wear jeans without breaking a sweat, summer’s heat is sneaking toward Elon and shorts will be inevitable soon.

The cross country team is here to share our secrets for toned legs, so no one on Elon’s campus is even a little nervous to pull their jean shorts on this spring.

Authors Brennan McDavid (right) and Nicole Esplin (left) show off their toned legs in the Elon Invitational. Photo Courtesy of Will Simon.

Incorporate these exercises into your routine twice a week, starting with 3 sets of 10 of each exercise.

Calf Raises

 Find a stair case and perform calf raises for toned, strong calves that you can show off.  There is no equipment needed for this exercise, so it can easily be done at home or at the gym.

Begin by hanging your heels off a ledge (stairs work well).  You can hold on to a railing for support, just keep the majority of your body weight under your heels.

Then drive your heels up, so you are standing on the balls of your feet.  As you increase your strength, you can add 5-10 lb dumbbell weights to this move.

RDL Hamstring Exercise

 Strengthen your hamstrings and tone your glutes by performing reverse dumbbell lifts, holding 10-25 lb weights in each hand.

Begin by standing upright, knees slightly bent, with weights in both hands. Look straight ahead and slowly bend from the hips.

Glide weights down the front of the thighs (without touching legs).  Once there is a 90 degree angle between your legs and back, reverse the motion and slowly stand back up. Keep your back straight, and parallel to the ground.  Repeat the exercise 8-10 times, remembering to keep knees slightly bent for each exercise.

Adductor Exercises

 Strengthen inner thighs by performing adductor squeezes using the machine.

Begin by sitting with legs apart on the adductor/abductor machine, pads on inside of knees.  You will have to use the knob under the leg bars to set the width so your legs are at a comfortable distance apart.  Set the weight so it is hard but not impossible to squeeze legs together.  A good starting weight is 30-40 lbs.

Once legs are together, slowly reverse the motion, and repeat.  Make sure you are in control of your movements during the entire motion.  The slower the movement, the harder the resistance is on your muscles, and the stronger you will become.

Back Squat

            When looking for an exercise that not only tones your legs, but also increases your power, try the back squat. The back squat is classified as a compound exercise because it trains multiple muscles of the legs. It primarily focuses on glutes, quads, and hamstrings, while also strengthening bones, tendons, and ligaments throughout the lower body.When performing the back squat, it’s important to do it correctly; otherwise, it could lead to injury.

Be sure that your hands are evenly placed on the bar to maintain balance. Rest the bar in between your shoulder blades at the base of the neck, with your hands slightly wider than shoulders. To ensure that your head remains aligned, look up at a 10 to 20 degree angle. Avoid rounding your back; keep it as flat as possible. Lastly, check that your feet are shoulder width apart.

To receive the full effect of the back squat, you should lower yourself to a 90-degree position. The more you practice, the more weight you can add to the bar.

Box Step-ups

Have you ever heard of a gym offering step classes? That’s because the simple motion of stepping up and down, actually makes for a great workout. Step-ups incorporate your glutes, quads, and hamstrings, as well as your knees and hips. Foot placement is essential when performing box step-ups.

Make sure that your heel is clear from the edge of the box and always aim to place your feet in the middle to avoid tipping over the box.

When you step up, drive the opposite knee forward to a 90-degree angle and bring it back, stepping down. Alternate using both legs as the step leg, to ensure an even workout. As you become more advanced, feel free to increase the height of the box or hold dumbbells at your side as you do them.

Box Hip Raises

Get ready to feel the burn during this exercise. Box hip raises focus on your hamstrings while simulating the same movement used in running.

Lay flat on your back; just like box step-ups the higher the box, the harder it gets. Keep the angle between your thigh and upper body at 90-degrees. Also, keep the angle between your thigh and shin at 90-degrees.

Propel your hips upward, lifting one leg off the box. Try to raise your hips as high as possible and alternate which leg is lifted. Be sure to maintain your body angles, by not sliding away from the box. Lowering your body slowly to the ground will guarantee you better results.

Spring is just around the corner, so it’s time to hit the gym and put these moves to practice. Doing these six exercises on a regular basis will tone and sculpt your legs, but if the gym gets boring, go for a run!  Running works out your entire lower body, plus it’s a fun way to enjoy the warm weather. You’ll be trading in those baggy sweat pants for some short Daisy Dukes in no time.

It’s an addiction, not a curse

Who wouldn’t want SIRI, America’s newly beloved digital friend built into iPhones, to vocally answer their questions with the push of a button?

Image courtesy of plg-pllg.com

Andrew Keen, author of a recent CNN article, may be more inclined to call SIRI Mrs. Frankenstein.

With the increasing smart phone intelligence and the addiction the population has created with their mobiles, Keen warned that SIRI and similar programs utilized by other phones will become more and more indistinguishable from the human brain.

Keen wrote:

“The real truth behind these increasingly intelligent devices is personal disempowerment.  Such is the eerie reality of a phone that you can’t live without.”

Cell phone addiction seems to be the latest trend, and rather than a guilty addiction such as alcoholism that one is usually ashamed about, most cell phone users boast about their phone attachment.  MTV even has a reality television show titled “True Life: I Have Digital Drama-Cell Phone and Facebook Addicts,” that follows teens as they share with America how their digital devices are ruling their lives.

Dozens of articles have been published highlighting phone obsessions, many of which mock the addiction.  A blog by Digital Trends light-heartedly listed the “Top 10 Signs of Cell Phone Addiction.”  Number 4 on the list says “You broke it and it feels like you’ve lost a friend.”

I’ve witnessed far too many phone tragedies in my lifetime, and with every tragedy, I have experienced the five stages of grief when a loved one is lost:

  1. Denial.  My phone isn’t really broken.  I can still text on a completely cracked screen.  And I don’t need to know who is calling before I pick up, isn’t that how they did it in the “old days”?
  2. Anger.  I am SO upset, I can’t believe I dropped my phone in the lake/on the ground/in the toilet.  (No, you aren’t the only one who has thought to use your phone on the john.  According to a new study, 80% of Generation X-ers use their cell phone while in the restroom).
  3. Bargaining.  Dear God, I promise I won’t ever text during class again if you would just make my phone turn on!
  4. Depression.  So out of “the loop”, 24 hours without a text or tweet and how can I even trust that the world outside my physical surroundings is carrying on as usual?  (With drawl symptoms, including the “Phantom Vibration Syndrome” usually set in right around this stage).
  5. Acceptance.  I haven’t actually ever gotten to this stage…depression usually lasts until I have a glistening new replacement phone in my hands.

When most teens are used to sending and receiving over 3,000 text messages per month, the thought of losing a cell phone is terrifying to many. Just not having a phone for a day means missing up to 116 text messages. Image courtesy of Nielsen Blog.

Until firm evidence confirms any detrimental long term effects of heavy cell phone use, I will continue speaking to SIRI and using my mobile to keep up with the evolving digital media world.

I would like to change the description of my addiction.  I am addicted to the media, social connections, and music my phone provides, not the technology and robotic insides of the phone itself.  Now I feel a bit more human.

NC Amendment One: What good would it do?

The gay marriage debate that is sweeping across the United States has reached North Carolina, bringing with it a barrage of speakers, rallies, and even musicals focused on the common goal of fighting the proposed Amendment One and supporting gay marriage.

According to an Associated Press storyby Gary Robertson, North Carolina is currently the only Southeastern state that has not approved a ban against gay marriage.  Currently, marriage is defined between a man and a woman, but the approval of the amendment would make it very hard for a future amendment to be passed that allows gay marriage.

According to the ACLU of North Carolina, Amendment One could cause the courts to:

1.  Prevent the courts from enforcing private agreements between unmarried couples, therefore encouraging the wealthier members of couples to avoid marriage so that they will not be subject to obligations to transfer property

2.  Interfere with child custody and visitation rights that seek to protect the best interests of children

3.  Invalidate protections against domestic violence to members of unmarried couples

On Friday Feb. 24, Marvin Ellison, Presbyterian minister and author of Sexuality and the Sacred: Sources for Theological Reflection, spoke at Elon’s McKinnon Hall about marriage as an institution, how gay marriage and Christianity can coexist in the same culture and how the amendment would affect the LGBT community.

Ellison argued that in the 1980s when asked whether death row inmates retain the right to marry, the Supreme Court concluded that every one should have the right to marry.

“Even inmates on death row retain the right to marry because this freedom to enter into institution is a person-defining right,” Ellison said.  “Marriage is a fundamental human right.”

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan is also against the amendment, and has released a statement earlier this week urging voters to oppose the amendment on the May 8 ballot.

An Associated Press story on the subject reported that Hagan “says it would harm the state’s ability to recruit business and jobs and have negative consequences for families and children.”

If there is even a sliver of possibility that Hagan’s prediction is correct, it doesn’t seem necessary to pass legislation that really doesn’t serve any purpose other than cementing a law that is already set in stone.

In a lighter argument against Amendment One, the gay couple on the popular television show “Modern Family” posed for a picture holding a sign that reads “How could you not want to see us tie the knot?”

Although it is just a light-hearted TV show and the couple isn’t a real couple outside the show, the audience has a connection with the characters, and hopefully they can set an example that gay marriage can be accepted in society as a normal marriage, complete with unexpected in-law visits and kids.

Bill Clinton: Beyond Scandal and Adultery

Those of us born in the early 90s didn’t have to major in Political Science or read the newspaper every day to know that former President Bill Clinton has a bevy of women surrounding his name.

Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton embrace after Clinton gave a speech. The black beret she is wearing in this photo became an icon during the scandal. Image courtesy of LA Times Blog.

Most would even be able to link the names Gennifer Flowers, Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones to Clinton’s namesake, maybe even before they link Hillary Clinton and Bill.

What the ‘Millennial’ Generation Knows About Clinton

It is well known that Clinton was tied to affairs with Gennifer Flowers in the early 90s, but these allegations didn’t keep him from being elected to office in November 1992.

A Washington Post Special Report published an interview with Bill and Hillary Clinton on Jan. 26, 1992, where Clinton famously skates around the questions, neither denying nor admitting an affair with Flowers.

Fast-forward six years.  The 90s kids were starting school and learning about the Presidents, while President Clinton learned that fooling around with interns has major consequences.

Clinton was accused of having an affair with White House Intern Monica Lewinsky in 1998 when the Starr Report was released to the public.

The Starr Report, compiled by Kenneth Starr, was published for the American public to buy. The book contains the allegations of perjury, obstruction of justice, and abuse of power. Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.

He became the second President to be impeached by the House of Representatives.  His impeachment was on the grounds of obstruction of justice and perjury after lying under oath regarding his affair with Monica Lewinsky during a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by Paula Jones yet another female he had indiscretions with.

With this accusation, newspapers flourished with witty Pro- and Con-Clinton columns and tabloids exploded with vulgar details of the affair.

Most of the millennial generation was in elementary school, and they weren’t able to comprehend an extra-marital affair. I imagine most conversations between parents and children went like this:

Kid: “Mom, my teacher said the President was impeached.  Why?”

Mom:  “Because of Monica Lewinsky.  The President lied about spending too much time with her.”

The millennial kids grew up.  They understood what affairs were and learned jokes told in school from older kids about Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky and her black beret and infamous blue dress.

Now fast-forward to 2008.  Hillary Clinton ran for president, and Bill Clinton served as a supportive husband.  Although not in the presidential hot-seat anymore, Clinton managed to make The KoldCast TV’s top-10 most embarrassing presidential moments when he fell asleep during a MLK Day talk in Jan. 2008.

Once again, the former president was popular topic amongst the millennial generation, but for mockery rather than for political reason.

What we should know (to catch our generation up with our parents’)

What my generation didn’t learn about Clinton were his accomplishments and failures as president of the United States.

Ambitious 17-year-old Bill Clinton met President Kennedy at a Boys Nation Convention. The image became an icon of the presidents "passing the baton" from one democrat to another. Image courtesy of http://markn.tumblr.com/post/108450954/susheela-bill-clinton-meeting-president-kennedy.

According to Biography.com’s report on Clinton, the president’s first two years of presidency proved unsuccessful, largely due to a failed healthcare bill headed by First Lady Hillary Clinton.

In 1994, Clinton passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which added 100,000 policemen and increased the level of punishment for a variety of crimes (including the Death Penalty).  Additionally, he signed a law that increased minimum wage by ninety cents.

By increasing his popularity in the second half of his first term, Clinton was reelected for a second term.

During his time in office, the economy flourished.  According to The White House’s Clinton Biography, the nation “enjoyed more peace and economic well being than at any time in its history.”

The nation experienced the lowest unemployment and inflation rates in recent history, and the highest homeownership rates in history.

A Forgotten Blemish (By every generation)

The United States experienced a time of peace and prosperity during the Clinton administration, but there is great controversy over Clinton’s handling with the Rwandan Genocide that occurred in the 1990s.

Stories of the horrific Rwandan Genocide have leaked to the United States in recent years.  Hotel Rwanda, Left to Tell and Running the Rift are among various media publications that tell of the events that occurred in Rwanda between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes.

Imaculee Ilibagiza spent 90 days in this tiny bathroom with seven other women waiting for aid from the United States. She shared her story in the book "Left to Tell."

According to an article by The Guardian, President Clinton chose not to intervene in Rwanda, even after the term “Genocide” was used by Senior officials.

“Intelligence reports obtained using the US Freedom of Information Act show the cabinet and almost certainly the president had been told of a planned “final solution to eliminate all Tutsis” before the slaughter reached its peak,” The Guardian reported.

Although it isn’t possible for the United States to solve every world crisis, it is unsettling that the United States didn’t intervene when over 800,000 people were killed in a span of 3 months in Rwanda.

Good deeds now

Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton teamed up to give aid to Haiti. Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia.com.

Even after his Lewinsky scandal and ignorance to the Rwandan Genocide, Clinton has remained a political figure, supporting Hillary as the Secretary of State and working with former president George H.W. Bush to create the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

With political parties currently so divided over the federal budget, Bush and Clinton have set an example for the rest of the nation of how Democrats and Republicans can work together.

Perhaps that’s what makes Clinton unstoppable.  He’s highly likeable and has an ability to consistently prove that he is genuinely trying to improve America, even after scandals that would demolish the average politician’s reputation.  If my generation would focus on his unfaltering spirit-his American Spirit-we would see how he can be a role model for our lives by working through embarrassment and political scandal and still succeeding to improve the lives of others.