2018 Year in Preview

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The Towerlight looks at the new and continuing events and initiatives making headway in the coming year. Join us as we dive in to the future and predict what will occur in 2018. Compiled by Desmond Boyle, Tim Coffman, Marcus Dieterle, McKenna Graham, Bailey Hendricks, Meghan Hudson, Kerry Ingram, Karuga Koinange, Matt McDonald, and Michael Mills.

File photos by The Towerlight staff; photo illustration by Jordan Stephenson/ The Towerlight.

Read the News previews for 2018 here.

Read the Arts & Life previews for 2018 here.

Read the Sports previews for 2018 here.

Update: This story has been updated with a preview of the NFL playoffs.

SGA’s relaunch of the #NotAtTU campaign continues

Towson University’s Student Government Association officially relaunched their #NotAtTU campaign Nov. 29 and 30, and that campaign will continue to grow and evolve next year, according to SGA Director of Diversity and Inclusion Russhell J. Ford.

“One of my goals for #NotAtTU next semester would be to focus on communities within the LGBTQ+ umbrella,” Ford said. “Basically not really focusing on one sort of umbrella of an identity, but also really shining and embracing identities that may or may not be visible.”

Ford said she hopes to tackle topics such as biphobia and issues facing non-binary and non-cisgender students.

“I’m going to work with the CSD to even learn more about how I can word a lot of things so I don’t come across as non-inclusive,” she said.

#NotAtTU first launched in May 2016 under then-SGA President Kurt Anderson following the November 2015 #OccupyTowson sit-in to address hate/bias incidents and reporting procedures at Towson.

SGA President James Mileo tasked Ford with the relaunch as part of a five-pronged plan of action in a statement he released after violent white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Virginia in August.

The Towerlight will continue to provide updates on the SGA’s initiatives in the coming year.

Towson examines building-naming policy

Towson University’s Student Government Association unanimously passed a resolution in support of renaming Paca House and Carroll Hall residence halls on Nov. 28.

The resolution highlighted that both William Paca and Charles Carroll, the namesakes of the residence halls in question, owned slaves.

The resolution, which was introduced by SGA Senator Alexander Best on behalf of SGA Vice President Breya Johnson, asserted that a name change would be in compliance with University System of Maryland Chancellor Bob Caret’s statement from Dec. 11, 2015 on the USM’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“Many Towson University students, faculty, and staff alike find it reasonable to discontinue the ongoing pattern of memorializing the names of certain wealthy figures and families whose influence, affluence, power, and prominence came at the expense of countless others whose names go unacknowledged and their contributions under-recognized,” the resolution said.

If a formal request to rename Paca and Carroll is approved by the majority of constituents from the University Senate, SGA and/or Towson University Staff Council, the request will then be forwarded to TU President Kim Schatzel for consideration of the renaming.

Members of Towson’s Organized Network of Student Resistance advocated for the diversification of building names at a University System of Maryland regents meeting in September 2016.

The Towerlight will continue to provide updates on the building-naming process in the coming year.

Burdick is (finally) reopening

Construction on Burdick Hall began August 2015. Since mid-September of 2015, the area between the West Village bridge and Burdick Hall has been closed for construction. With Burdick Hall’s original projected completion date of Fall 2017 pushed back, Burdick Hall will finally be open to show off its expansion next semester, in spring 2018.

The expansion of Burdick Hall will add about 94,000 square feet to the Hall’s existing 140,000 square feet and will feature a Ninja Warrior-style obstacle course, recently named “The Jungle.” All Campus Recreation facilities will be closed from Dec. 19 through Jan. 26 to do finishing touches on the expansion and to train new staff. The expanded Burdick Hall will be officially open for the first time for use on Jan. 27 at 9 a.m. Campus Recreation is hosting a “Grand Opening Celebration” for Burdick Hall at noon on Jan. 31.

Continuing construction

Construction around campus is continuing and is as abundant as ever. With Burdick Hall’s completion finally in sight, now the University has begun to focus on other big construction projects around campus, such as the new science facility. The new science facility’s construction is officially underway. It will be located between Stephens Hall and the 7800 York Road building and is predicted to be completed in fall 2020.

Starting mid-2018, the University Union’s renovations and expansion will begin; and next spring, the Residence Tower is set to be completed.

After the new science building, the next big construction project on the University System of Maryland’s list of priorities includes the new College of Health Professions building. The University hopes new health professions building, slated to open in 2023, will help to put Towson graduates into the high-demand field.

Maryland gubernatorial elections

In 2018, Maryland will hold elections for governor. The Republican and Democratic primaries will take place on June 26, 2018, and the general election will take place on Nov. 6, 2018. Eight Democratic candidates have declared that they are running for governor. There have been no Republicans who have declared to be running against incumbent Governor Larry Hogan, who is predicted to seek re-election in 2018.

The eight democratic candidates include Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker; Ex-NAACP chief Ben Jealous; Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz; Montgomery County Sen. Richard Madaleno; consulting firm owner Maya Rockeymoore Cummings; best-selling author, entrepreneur and former adviser to Hillary Clinton, Alec Ross;

Baltimore attorney Jim Shea; and former policy director for former first lady Michelle Obama, Krishanti Vignarajah.

Albums to keep an ear out for in 2018

Fall Out Boy
This group has been in a pattern trying to become more pop than rock lately. While they are one of the longest-standing punk-pop bands, the quality of their songs can be a little unpredictable. Let’s see just how far this balancing act on Patrick Stump and Co.’s part can go. Coming out on Jan. 19.

The 1975
These indie pop darlings have been making a name for themselves with their self-titled debut and their long-titled album in 2016. Their most recent album had undeniable pop production and songcraft but did feel a bit lengthy in places so we can only hope to see what the next step is for these guys.

Muse
While there is no set announcement, the rock power trio have been in the studio and are rumored to release a new album next year. While the band has had no major missteps in the past, it still has the power to impress and we should expect nothing less from the flagbearers of anthemic rock.

Health and beauty products taking 2018 by glam

-ColorPop Luster Dust Loose Highlighters: This launch will be the brand’s first foray into the loose-highlighter world. The highlighters are set to come in three different shades, each finely milled with rich pigmentation. The highlighter trend does not look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

-Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Chamomile, and Lavender: The cult favorite face spray is returning, and this time with a new scent! Badescu’s rose mist has made its round all throughout the YouTube beauty community; this new spray is sure to make waves come spring.

-Too Faced Glow Job: Glitter masks are coming for 2018! The cosmetic giant has decided to dip its toes into skincare by creating a pink, sparkly face mask meant to brighten the skin and add an overall radiance to the complexion. This mask will be made in limited quantities, so make sure to stay on the lookout for when it launches!

For more sneak-peeks, check out this week’s Trendy Tiger column.

Laverne Cox is returning to Towson

This icon in the television world and monument in the LGBTQ+ community is coming to speak at SECU Arena on March 13 as the Division of Student Affairs Spring Diversity Speaker.

Cox last visited Towson in March of 2014 and shared her experiences as a black trans woman in the professional world.

“What I think is really important for folks to understand about systems of domination and systems of oppression is there are so many elements constantly working to reinforce that system instead of dismantling it,” Cox said.

She has long been working as an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, producing documentaries on transgender rights and acting as the first openly transgender person to play a transgender series regular on broadcast TV in CBS’s “Doubt.”

A sneak peak at the theatre department’s spring 2018 productions

Towson’s Department of Theatre Arts will be putting on two productions in the spring semester 2018; “How I Learned to Drive” was written by Paula Vogel and is being directed by adjunct professor Donna Fox. The plot follows the relationship between an adolescent girl and her sexually abusive uncle, exploring ideas of control through the metaphor of driving. Attendance is recommended only for mature audiences. “Othello” is the second production and is being directed by Peter Wray. This Shakespearean classic tells the story of a young Venetian army general and his ensign; their relationship drives a theme of betrayal, revenge and repentance through the plot. “How I Learned to Drive” will be running from March 7-15, and “Othello” will be running from April 5-14.

Baltimore-area festivals happening in the new year

Charm City Bluegrass Festival

From Friday, April 27 at 4 p.m. until Saturday, April 28 at 9:30 p.m. at Druid Hill Park will be the sixth annual Charm City Bluegrass Festival. If you buy your tickets before Dec. 11, admission for Friday, April 27 will be totally free! Admission for children under 10 is free. This festival features local bluegrass and folk bands from right out of Baltimore.

Frozen Harbor Music Festival

With 10 stages and 160 acts this year, the Frozen Harbor Music Festival is back and bigger than ever. From Feb. 16-17, experience the festival that encompasses a variety of genres all within Baltimore’s beautiful Inner Harbor. Stages are located at Rams Head Live!, Baltimore Soundstage, and several other venues. General Admission to this festival only costs $20.

Back to the 90s Music Festival

Located at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, the Back to the 90s Music Festival is all about breaking out your old 90s outfits, and enjoying a day full of 90s video games, 90s movies, and of course, 90s music. This all-day, kid-friendly event will take place on Saturday, May 26, 2018 from 1-11:30 p.m. Tickets cost $30.

Movies to watch out for

Think 2017 was an incredible year for movies? Think again! As always, Disney has a bunch in store for us, including “Wreck-It Ralph 2,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” a Mary Poppins reboot, and yes, the moment you’ve been waiting fourteen long years for, The Incredibles 2! Not enough? Marvel’s gotcha covered. Not only do Black Panther and Venom get their own solo movies, and Ant-Man and Deadpool get their sequels, but of course the internet-shattering “Avengers: Infinity War” finally soars into theaters! Into other fandoms? No worries, “Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom,” “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” “The Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” “Aquaman,” and “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” all hit the big screen next year! In addition to these, “Ready Player One,” “Ocean’s Eight,” and a new “Mission: Impossible” are in the works as well. My advice: if you don’t already own a MoviePass, get one.

Towson football gears up for 2018 season

Towson endured a rocky 2017 season, but the team got a lot of experience in different situations and showed grit throughout the year.

The Tigers concluded their season with a 29-10 victory at Johnny Unitas Stadium over Rhode Island.

“We left Rhode Island last year and started planning for this,” Head Coach Rob Ambrose said following the win.

The primary question entering spring is who the starting quarterback will be. Oregon transfer Morgan Mahalak went down in the first quarter of the season opener and did not play for the rest of the year. After the win over Rhode Island, Ambrose announced that Mahalak suffered a concussion and would likely not be playing again for the Tigers.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Stover started for almost the entire season and played as well as one could expect out of a young, inexperienced player. He finished the season with 2,001 yards through the air and 11 passing touchdowns. He also contributed 335 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

“He’s going to have a chance at that starting job,” Ambrose said. “But if Morgan leaves, I only have two quarterbacks. That’s not enough. Not in this league, and not at this level, so I’ve got to go get one and the question is ‘Am I going to get another young guy or get an old guy as an insurance policy?’ I don’t know yet.”

The offense was inconsistent the entire year. Some games they looked like a dangerous unit with explosive big-play potential, but other times they could barely muster a first down. Ambrose expressed the need for a go-to receiver the entire season, and it remains to be seen whether that player is on his roster or will be added during recruiting.

Wide receiver Jabari Greenwood showed nice hands and a wide catch radius over the course of the year, hauling in 53 catches for 616 yards, but he failed to reach the end zone. Towson will need to play with more of an edge next year in order to limit how much the team settles for field goals.

The Tigers have some questions on the other side of the ball as well.

The team is graduating several key defenders, including defensive linemen Kanyia Anderson, D’Sean Cummings and Clifton Jones, but Ambrose asserted that the younger players will step up to the challenge now that they’ve gotten some playing time in the rotation.

“They were young, talented dudes without a lot of experience,” Ambrose said. “Now they’re a little bit older dudes with a whole lot of experience and a whole lot of confidence.”

Towson ranked as the fourth best passing defense in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and its heavy pass rush was a big reason for that.

Junior linebacker Diondre Wallace led the linebacking core as he tied for seventh place in tackling leaders among the conference, racking up 52 tackles on the season. On the back end, redshirt junior defensive back Monty Fenner patrolled a secondary that played sound football and did not give up many big plays.

Younger players who will step into bigger roles, such as redshirt sophomore linebacker Keon Paye and redshirt sophomore defensive back Justice Pettus-Dixon, will need the guidance of seniors in order to grasp their positions better.

“There is no substitute for experience,” Ambrose said. “I’m going to expect them to be better.”

Women’s basketball looks to secure CAA title

Towson looks to secure its first ever Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) title under first-year Head Coach Diane Richardson. She took over the program this summer after Niki Geckeler resigned after four years in charge.

Richardson has her work cut out for her, as the Tigers have not had a winning season since their 2011 campaign, and have won just eight conference games out of 36 over the last two years.

“I would like us to be efficient even before the conference, so that we go in business as usual when we get to the conference schedule,” Richardson said. “We’ve got a tough out of conference schedule … so I think that is gonna prepare us for the conference.”

Richardson is still searching for the best lineup out of her young group of players early on this season.

“That’s something we’re still gonna work with to make sure that we get the best out of them when they’re out there and not run them too hard so that they get tired and slack off,” Richardson said.

Towson holds a 2-4 record so far, but senior forward Mary Cuevas said that the key to getting wins is sticking with the routines that the team has formed.

“We just gotta keep working and people need to get in the gym every day,” Cuevas said. “It’s all muscle memory.”

By the time conference play rolls around, Richardson hopes that her team can adjust to the up-tempo style that she utilized during her time as an assistant coach at West Virginia.

“We work hard, push the ball on offense and we are going to get after you on defense” Richardson said. “My philosophy is if we’re pushing the ball in transition [our opponents] won’t have time to set up, so that’s our game plan is to continue to keep the game at our pace.”

The Tigers look to turn their season around before they open up conference play on Friday, Dec. 29, against Northeastern at SECU Arena.

A preview of the NFL playoffs

The NFL has been marred by anthem protests, poor television ratings, injuries and mediocre play this season. However, all of that can be righted with the postseason fast approaching. As frustrating as the NFL has been this year, all it takes are a few thrilling playoff games to make fans forget such an arduous regular season.

The AFC has failed to add any excitement to the NFL over the course of the regular season. Unsurprisingly, the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers sit atop the AFC. Both teams have proven to be two of the most successful, consistent and well-run franchises in all of sports. Aside from the Patriots and Steelers, the AFC is unimpressive. However, come December and January anything can happen in the NFL. Here’s how I see the AFC playoff picture shaking out.

1st Seed: New England Patriots

Quarterback Tom Brady is on the verge of completing another incredible season. Brady is on pace to lead the league in passing yards at the age of 40. Patriots fans have been spoiled with arguably the greatest coach and quarterback of all time. The rest of the NFL will just have to wait for Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick to retire. The only remaining challenge for the Patriots is a week 15 matchup at Heinz Field against the Steelers. Even then the Patriots shouldn’t be too concerned. They’ve dominated the Steelers in recent years, winning four straight games dating back to 2013 with an average margin of victory of 15.

2nd Seed: Pittsburgh Steelers

Wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell are tops in the league at their respective positions. Coming into the season there was very little doubt about what the Steelers offense could do. Surprisingly, the Steelers secondary has overachieved and has been one of the best in the NFL. If the Steelers can live up to their potential and not play down to poor teams, there’s no reason they shouldn’t lock up the second seed in the AFC.

3rd Seed: Jacksonville Jaguars

Behind running back Leonard Fournette and their vaunted defense, the Jacksonville Jaguars are in a position to win their division for the first time since 1999. Quarterback Blake Bortles has been an effective game manager and hasn’t made the big mistakes that hurt the Jaguars in the past. In the final week of the season, the Jaguars and Tennessee Titans will square off for the AFC South crown. Once again, the Jacksonville defense will come away with the big plays to win the game.

4th Seed: Los Angeles Chargers

The AFC West has been a mess all season. The Kansas City Chiefs started out hot but have fallen off since winning their first five games. The Chargers started slow, but quarterback Philip Rivers has landed them back in contention. When wide receiver Keenan Allen is healthy, he is one of the best receivers in the game, and Rivers looks for him often in big situations. On defense, pass rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa have wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Watch out if the Chargers get into the postseason; no team wants to see them.

5th Seed: Tennessee Titans

Quarterback Marcus Mariota has underperformed this season, but the Titans defense has put them in a position to make the postseason. The Titans have a top-five rush defense and a stellar offensive line. A solid front seven is a key component of any team hoping to make a Super Bowl run, and the Titans have that. Offensive tackle Taylor Lewan is as tough as it gets. Lewan is the type of guy you’d love to have on your team. Teammates love him and opponents absolutely despise him.

6th Seed: Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens have a Super Bowl caliber defense; there’s no doubt about that. They lead the league in interceptions and harass opposing quarterbacks. However, the Ravens offense has left a sour taste in many fans’ mouths. When the Ravens offense is bad, it can be painful to watch. Although they rank second to last in the league in total offense, a 44-20 win over the Detroit Lions proved the Ravens aren’t entirely inept on offense. If the Ravens can throw the ball down field and remain aggressive, they could pose a threat to the Patriots and Steelers.

The NFC has saved the NFL this year. With the AFC underperforming, the NFC has delivered some exciting football. The NFC playoff picture is loaded with teams that could make a run at the Lombardi Trophy. Full young explosive players on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, the NFC playoffs are going to be can’t miss TV. Here’s how the seeding in the NFC will play out.

1st Seed: Minnesota Vikings

Vikings quarterback Case Keenum has been one of the best stories in the NFL this season. He has led the Vikings to eight straight wins and refuses to relinquish the starting job at quarterback – even after quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was medically cleared to play. Wide receiver Adam Thielen has quietly been one of the best wide receivers in the league, ranking fourth in yards with 1,056 through 12 games. The Vikings defense might be outperforming their offense. They rank second in the league in total defense and are absolutely suffocating opponents.

2nd Seed: Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles are arguably the most well-rounded team in the NFL. They have a ton of depth and very few weaknesses. Quarterback Carson Wentz is playing at an MVP level and might very well win the award. The Eagles defense has been dominant at the point of attack. No team can run on massive defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan. Even if they don’t win the Super Bowl this year, the Eagles are set up to make a run at the Lombardi for years to come.

3rd Seed: New Orleans Saints

The Saints are the most dangerous team in the NFL if their defense can play well. With running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, the Saints have a lethal two-headed monster in the back field. Having a great running game takes some of the pressure off quarterback Drew Brees. Brees can still sling it all over the field with wide receivers Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr. The NFC needs to be on the lookout for the Saints. When all’s said and done, they have a great chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

4th Seed: Seattle Seahawks

It was very hard not to put the Los Angeles Rams in this spot, but the Rams have a much tougher schedule than the Seahawks down the stretch. The Seahawks will host the Rams in week 15 which will essentially be for the division title. If the game was in Los Angeles, the Rams might have shot. There’s something about going to Seattle late in the season that doesn’t bode well for opponents. The Seahawks may win the NFC West, but I can’t see them making a Super Bowl run with a depleted secondary and a porous offensive line.

5th Seed: Los Angeles Rams

In head coach Sean McVay’s first year, the Los Angeles Rams have exceeded all expectations. This team is loaded with young talent on both sides of the ball. They may be a year ahead of their time, but the Rams still present a tough out in the postseason. The Rams defense is more than capable of coming away with takeaways, and their offense is full of big play potential. Regardless if they make it deep into the postseason, the Rams are still an exciting team to watch and have a bright future ahead of them.

6th Seed: Carolina Panthers

It comes down to the Panthers and Atlanta Falcons for the final playoff spot in the NFC. With two games left against the Saints, the Falcons have a much tougher road to the sixth seed. In a stacked NFC South, the Panthers have been somewhat forgotten. Quarterback Cam Newton is healthy and using his arm and legs to lead the Panthers to victory. However, the defense is what sets the tone in Carolina. Behind linebacker Luke Kuechly, the Panthers boast a top-10 defense – couple that with previous playoff experience and the Panthers could be dangerous in the postseason.

Super Bowl LII: Eagles OVER Patriots

At the end of the day, it’s Wentz who hoists the Lombardi Trophy. Brady doesn’t go down without a fight, but the Philadelphia defense is too much to handle. Wentz will be more esteemed in Philadelphia than Rocky Balboa after delivering the Eagles first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.

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