2016-2017 Year in Review
Just like every year, The Towerlight has compiled a brief review of some of the year’s most important stories and events. Good luck with finals, have a great summer and we’ll see you soon!
Click through to see News, Arts & Life or Sports section blurbs.
Tau Kappa Epsilon updates
It was over a year ago that the campus community learned of an off-campus hazing incident that hospitalized a pledge for Tau Kappa Epsilon. Since then, there have been several court dates and one ruling. Evan Palmer Francis, then 21, was given probation before judgment in October after appearing in court. According to court testimony, Francis was in charge of “risk management” for the fraternity. TKE has been banned from Towson’s campus. Alexander James Cantor, the other man who was charged in the hazing incident, is scheduled to appear in court May 23.
Campus construction progresses
It was a significant year of on-campus construction, as several projects either began, continued or finished throughout both semesters. Apartment-style Carroll and Marshall Halls opened in Fall 2016, completing West Village housing phases three and four, and adding an additional 700 beds. Throughout the year, the Residence Tower has undergone construction — once opened in Fall 2017, it will account for another 450 beds. After eight months of renovation, Newell Dining Hall reopened for the Spring 2017 semester, with updates to its heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing, roofing, windows and lighting. The Den reopened at the same time. Both locations have updated food services, including a fully-dedicated kosher station and grill station in the dining hall and a “Chop’d and Wrap’d” station in The Den. Burdick Hall’s $34 million expansion continued throughout the year. It will open in Fall 2017 and will include new features like multi-activity courts for intramurals, an updated climbing wall and an elevated sprint hill. Cook Library’s three-phase renovation plan wrapped up this semester with the addition of a 24/7 study space. The other two phases included a streamlined service desk and a renovated Starbucks (which opened in October). And the demand for more parking? Yep, it’s still a thing.
Towson’s anti-hate crime and bias incident campaign, #NotAtTU formally relaunched between Sept. 12 and Sept. 14 to include new freshmen and transfer students in a conversation that has been ongoing since last semester. The campaign promotes a “one-stop shop” website for hate/bias reporting at towson.edu/notattu that includes information about what a hate/bias incident is and what to expect after reporting an incident. The November 2015 #OccupyTowson sit-in was what originally sparked the idea, and a series of racially-biased incidents at the CLA Cafe during the Spring 2016 semester kept the conversation going, according to outgoing SGA President Taylor James.
Kim Schatzel inaugurated
President Kim Schatzel was officially inaugurated as Towson University’s 14th president and 5th female president on September 16, 2016. University System of Maryland President Bob Caret announced Schatzel’s appointment on December 4, 2015 and Schatzel began serving as president on January 25, 2016. Since arriving at Towson, Schatzel has worked to address the concerns and goals of the Towson community through her eight presidential priorities which she has continued to update during her fall and spring presidential addresses.
Jane Elliott discusses “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” experiment
Activist and former third-grade school teacher Jane Elliott presented a lecture on Sept. 28 as part of the Center of Student Diversity’s speaker series in which she discussed her famous “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” experiment. Elliott originally conducted the exercise in her third-grade classroom after Martin Luther King Jr.’s death. For the first part of the experiment, blue-eyed children were treated better than brown-eyed ones. For the second part of the experiment, brown-eyed children were treated better than blue-eyed ones. The exercise allowed the children feel what it felt like to be discriminated against for a physical characteristic over which they had no control, acting as a microcosm for the oppression of racial minorities.
SGA inaugurates Freshman Council
In October, the SGA inaugurated its first Freshman Council in an effort that had been ongoing since the fall 2015 semester. The Freshman Council is an executive organization of the SGA and was made with purpose of implementing the needs and wants of the freshman class, and giving current freshmen an opportunity to become more involved in SGA. This year’s council included 20 freshmen, who were appointed by SGA president-elect James Mileo. Mileo helped to maintain and organize Towson’s first Freshman Council.
Tensions rise following Trump election
It didn’t take long for the campus community to plan a protest after Donald Trump won the presidency. In mid-November, the Social Justice Collective and other campus groups organized a walkout to take place at noon. Students, faculty and staff gathered in Freedom Square and several people spoke, airing the grievances, fears and concerns. The rally was almost entirely peaceful, except for one altercation between a student who was decrying Trump and Trump voters, and a man who identified himself as a veteran. The male student left the protest without any real issue. Later on, a pro-Trump rally was held in Freedom Square, though no student or student group ever owned up and took responsibility for organizing the event. The Twitter page that had organized the event repeatedly declined to identify themselves to The Towerlight. That rally was smaller, and counter-protesters far outnumbered self-identified Trump supporters.
#OccupyTowson: Demand Progress One Year Later
A group of students staged a sit-in style protest at the president’s office on November 19, 2015. The nine-hour protest, which came to be known as #OccupyTowson, ended with then-Interim President Timothy Chandler signing a document with a list of 12 demands concerning diversity and inclusion at Towson, particularly with regard to the University’s minority communities. In the year and a half since the sit-in, the University has worked towards addressing those demands. According to the University’s Diversity Initiatives Progress Report, Towson has completed seven of the diversity initiatives and five are “on track.”
Towson appoints Leah Cox
Towson University appointed Leah Cox as its first Vice President of Inclusion and Institutional Equity last December and Cox began serving in that position on January 23, 2017. Before coming to Towson, Cox worked at the University of Mary Washington as Special Assistant to the President, the campus’s Title IX Coordinator and the Campus Ombudsman. Since arriving at TU, Cox has said she is prepared to put in hard work to create an inclusive campus for faculty, staff and students of all identities. But she also has said that it is the responsibility of all of Towson – not just her – to bring about that change.
Administration addresses immigration concerns
Since the election of President Donald Trump in November, Towson officials repeatedly emphasized their commitment to keeping students safe, no matter their nationality, immigration status or other discerning factors. A campus-wide email from President Schatzel in December stated that Towson will not permit immigration enforcement authorities to enter campus for an enforcement action without a warrant, unless there is an exigent circumstance necessitating immediate action. Additionally, the University will not voluntarily partner will immigration authorities to assist with enforcement activities or to detain immigrants. TU Police do not ask about nor record immigration status, and, under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the University will not provide immigration authorities with student records without a subpoena or court order. Vice President for Inclusion and Institutional Equity Leah Cox and Vice President for Student Affairs Deb Moriarty hosted a campus dialogue Feb. 8 to address these concerns, specifically egarding immigration status and DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.
Marriott to convert to student housing
In her spring Presidential Address, President Kim Schatzel announced that the Marriott Conference Hotel near campus will be converted to student housing to accommodate Towson’s growing resident student population. The Marriott will be converted into on-campus apartment-style student housing by fall 2018. The renovation should add 300-400 beds to help catch up to the current on-campus bed shortage.
URTU sweeps in tight SGA election
The URTU ticket swept in a tight SGA election marred by several racially-charged incidents. The student body elected URTU’s James Mileo to be the next SGA president with 1,572 votes. Legacy presidential candidate Pat Mascio received 1,361 votes. Breya Johnson won vice president with 1,599 votes; Missy Ronan, her opponent, received 1,308 votes. Makdes Hailu won treasurer with 1,544 votes; Cristiana Saballos, her opponent, received 1,343. Rishell Chambers won attorney general with 1,533 votes; Ariana Anderson-Melton, her opponent, received 1,350. During their campaign, the URTU ticket introduced an interactive platform that allowed the student body to contribute ideas and suggestions. The platform consisted of five themes: academic success, accessibility, civic engagement, diversity and inclusion, and student organization support, with multiple initiatives in each theme. URTU prioritized combatting food insecurity on-campus, improving the connection between administration and students in “every area of student life,” improving the connection between SGA and student organizations and continuing to work on initiatives and campaigns that members of the ticket had already begun.
Nostalgia abounded in September when Nick Cannon and the cast of MTV’s Wild’n Out performed stand-up comedy SECU Arena. A sold out show, Cannon and crew–including Matt Rife and Chico Bean–joked about race and sex, and took the time to riff on Scarborough’s lack of air conditioning and Glen Dining Hall. Catch an exclusive Nick Cannon interview on the Towerlight website.
The Bluest Eye
In October, an adaptation of Toni Morrison’s classic novel “The Bluest Eye” hit the CFA’s Mainstage Theatre with more than a few things to say about broken families, media and culture and the absurd and destructive nature of white, European beauty standards. Though the book was published in 1970, the story that Towson actors told onstage is as relevant today as it was almost 50 years ago. Leshea Johnson shone as Pecola Breedlove, a young girl struggling with identity and self-acceptance; Tamara Johnson as narrator Claudia shone a bright and beaming light on Pecola’s struggles and what they mean in today’s world; and Catherine Ejiogu as Frieda was a fierce defender of Pecola, Claudia and the beauty of black women. “The Bluest Eye” taught us that “It’s time to heal our women, kill for our women, be real to our women,” and that opening chant rings true now more than ever.
I Love Female Orgasm comes again
Just as in past years, students flocked to Stephens Hall Theatre in October for lessons in sex and the female anatomy–specifically, the female orgasm. The sex ed portion of the show involved busting sex myths that students shouted out (no, squirting is not the same as peeing) and tips for pleasing that special lady (or ladies) in your life. In an effort to abandon heteronormativity, sex educators Rachel Dart and Marshal Miller explained the “spectrum of gender” and what it means to identify as a man, woman, or neither, and touched on sex issues transgender folks might face, including how to achieve orgasm after sex-reassignment surgery. Dart and Miller also addressed the double standards that affect sexually-active women and promoted body positivity by explaining that all vulvas are normal vulvas. If you missed it, be sure to catch it this fall.
Tibetan Monks come to campus
Students were more than a little baffled when, in early November, the second floor of the Union became a haven for red-robed monks while speakers emitted deep-voiced Buddhist chants on loop. The Mystical Arts of Tibet stopped in Towson on their annual tour of the U.S., Europe and Mexico to create a mandala and speak at lectures about the ancient art of Tibetan healing, the history of a Tibetan diaspora and universal kindness. Soon, the mandala was finished and after days of meticulously placing sand granules to create the artwork, it was gone in an instant. The monks disappeared soon afterwards as well, but with any luck, they’ll be back next year to piece together another temporary symbol of the universe in perfect harmony and balance.
Polaroid Stories brings audience members to the underworld
In March, audience members were brought to “the edge of the underworld” in professor and director David White’s “Polaroid Stories,” written by playwright Naomi Iizuka. An adaptation of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” the show non-linearly told the (real and imagined) stories of Greek mythical figures living as homeless teens–“the thieves, perverts and junkies” of the underworld, as one character puts it. Actors, who only had five weeks of rehearsals, were free to develop their own characters, and together they created a richly dark world.
Laci Green “cummunicates”
In early March, sex educator and YouTube star Laci Green came to campus to talk sex positivity. Green was supposed to come back in November, but she canceled her appearance at the time, citing “personal reasons.” While some thought Laci might get super political during her visit, she spent most of her time on campus in sex educator mode. The key to great sex, she said, was to “cum-municate.”
In April, the Towson Trills became the first a capella group at Towson University to compete in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella finals. If that doesn’t impress you, the seven-member team was also the smallest a capella group in the history of the ICCA to make it to finals. While they may have ultimately lost this year’s competition to the Northeastern University Nor’Easters, the Trills are already back on the performing circuit and have promised a few surprises for later in the year.
Actors Anonymous performs “Spelling Bee”
Loud, energetic, and perfectly childish, Actors Anonymous’ production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” on April 21 and 22 was a strong assertion of the power of student-run theatre. First-time director and sophomore acting major Madelyn Dominiski framed today’s tense political climate within the innocent lens of childhood and first love. Actors Kasie Lerner, Zach Taylor, Molly Mendelson, Joe Owens, Eric Panuela, and Jenny Yarmis bring the complex childrens’ backstories and thematic undercurrents to light with help from “adults” played by Taylor Wach, Caitlin Wilson, and Brandon Reichert. Club president Rebecca Altschul considered the performance a roaring success, saying, “This definitely fulfills my vision for Actors Anonymous.”
2 Chainz and Dreezy headline TigerFest
2 Chainz and Dreezy headlined this year’s TigerFest in what some students said was the best TigerFest yet. On the first day, students were feeling the #goodvibesonly theme as they enjoyed carnival rides and a beer garden at the Lot 26 block party. CAB’s Battle of the Bands winners DJ Gurf, Thunder Club, and King Zell and Tay Harper performed before country singer Chase Bryant took the stage. On Saturday, SECU Arena was flooded with students in the stands and in the pit to see the headliners, floor tickets having sold out quickly after going sale.
Cabaret debuts with a twist
A classic with a twist, director Stephen Nunns’ rendition of “Cabaret” was immersive and irresistible. Christy Czajkowski was cast as the emcee in a new take on an old, well-loved character, and she guided the audience through the show with energy, humor, and more than a hint of Joel Grey’s original enigmatic and unapologetically comedic atmosphere. Alongside Czajkowski starred Molly Cohen, who brought struggling performer Sally Bowles into a new realm of moral ambiguity, as a Jewish woman who ignores the political state of 1930’s Germany. The production was as strong and over-the-top sexy as the original, but Nunns’ version incorporated his own thematic choices with an onstage projected slideshow of the horrors of political tyranny, declarative choices with actors’ genders in mind, and new complexities within characters’ identities. Nunns was hopeful of having an impact on his audience, saying, “If they can think about it in terms of their own lives, connect it to their own lives in some way, shape or form, that would be great.”
Towson concluded its season with a 6-12-1 record and missed out on the CAA Championship Tournament for the second straight year. The team started its season with four losses in its first five games before earning its first victory against Temple on the road. Following its first victory, Towson competed in the Navy Invitational where the team recorded a win against Bowling Green, but lost to Drake. After the Navy Invitational, Towson won three of its next five games, which included a victory against CAA rival William & Mary. Towson struggled to maintain its momentum through the end of the season and lost five of its last six games. Next year, the team will return starting goalkeeper Taylor Sebolao who recorded 96 saves and five shutouts in 2016.
Towson saw its season come to an end with a 32-31 victory over Rhode Island. Despite suffering a six-game losing streak early in the season, the team won its last three contests and finished with an overall record of 4-7. In Towson’s final three games, Oregon transfer quarterback Morgan Mahalak made his much anticipated return to the lineup. In the team’s home opener against Saint Francis (PA), Mahalak suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder that kept him sidelined for most of the season. In Mahalak’s absence, Ellis Knudson ran the offense. In six starts, Knudson completed just 55 percent of his passes and threw twice as many interceptions as touchdowns. The one bright spot of Towson’s injury riddled season was the performance of redshirt freshman running back Shane Simpson. Simpson saw plenty of action in the backfield when Darius Victor went out in the middle of the season with a foot injury. In the 2016 season, Simpson rushed for 784 yards and three touchdowns. Towson will kickoff its 2017 campaign on Saturday Sept. 2, at Johnny Unitas Stadium against crosstown rival Morgan State.
Towson saw another successful regular season, but failed to capture a CAA Championship Title. The team started non-conference play with a 12-2 record, which included a win over University of Maryland, College Park. In conference play, Towson went 10-6 and earned a spot in the CAA Championship Tournament. The team defeated Hofstra 3-0 in the first round of the tournament, but fell to James Madison 3-0 in the second round. Next season, Towson will return libero Anna Holehouse, a key piece to the team’s serve receive scheme. However, Head Coach Don Metil will have to find replacements for graduated seniors Jessica Lewis and Lindsay Flaherty. Lewis started all 33 matches for Towson as an outside hitter and led the team with 459 kills. Flaherty led the team 104 blocks and broke a school record for most sets played.
Towson endured another tough season under the direction of former head coach Carly Campana. The team finished with a 2-17 record with its only victories of the season coming against La Salle and LIU Brooklyn. Following its season, Athletic Director Tim Leonard announced that the University would not be extending Campana’s contract. Instead, the team signed E.A. Jackson as its new head coach. Jackson served as the head field hockey coach at Eastern Mennonite for the past two seasons. She will be tasked with turning around a broken program.
Towson kicked its season off with three straight victories. The team won the Towson Invitational, the Delaware Invitational and the Iona College Meet of Champions. Towson rounded out its regular season with a 26th-place finish in the Paul Short Invitational and a 16th-place finish in the Penn State Invitational. In the postseason, Towson placed fifth in the CAA Championships and 18th in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals.
John Davis suffers “graze wound”
Senior forward John Davis suffered a “graze wound” to his knee in a drive-by shooting outside of his South Philadelphia home following Towson’s 69-65 victory over Drexel on Saturday, Feb 11. According to Head Coach Pat Skerry, Davis was given permission to remain in Philadelphia after the team’s game to attend a commemoration ceremony for the birth of his son. According to police, the shooting occurred between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m. Davis was admitted to a local hospital and released not long after. He attended his son’s commemoration ceremony the next morning before returning to a second hospital for further evaluation. Davis missed the remainder of the season for Towson. He averaged 11.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per-game.
Despite a strong regular season, Towson fell in the 2017 CAA Championship Tournament. Towson started off its season with two gritty road wins against George Mason and Morgan State. The team even hung tough with No. 24 ranked Maryland, falling by just five points at the Xfinity Center. In conference play, Towson dropped its first four games and called a players only meeting. Following the meeting, the team ripped off five straight victories. In the heart of conference play, Towson lost Davis to a graze wound following a drive-by shooting. In the CAA Championship Tournament, Towson defeated Northeaster in the quarterfinals, but fell to host Charleston in the semifinals. Skerry said the season had an asterix on it because of the loss of Davis.
Towson finished its regular season with a 12-18 mark despite a 6-1 start. The team’s early success was its best since the 2008-09 season. Despite the fast start to the season, Towson struggled in conference play and dropped 10 of its last 11 games. In the CAA Tournament, Towson entered as the No. 8 seed and faced the No. 9 seed, Hofstra. Towson lost to Hofstra 77-66 despite a 30-point performance from senior guard Raven Bankston. Next season, Towson will welcome recently recruited guard Danielle Durjan. Durjan averaged 14.5 points per-game while playing at Harford Community College last season and will look to add a punch to the team’s offense.
Head Coach Lisa Costello earned her 650th victory in black and gold when Towson defeated CAA rival UNC Wilmington 4-2 on April 29. However, Towson missed out on the CAA Tournament and finished its regular season with a 23-27 record. The team began its season in the Kickin’ Chicken Classic where they defeated Youngstown State twice. Towson carried its momentum from the previous tournament into the USC Upstate Classic. The team defeated Georgetown and Colgate to move above the .500 mark. However, Towson dropped its final two games of the USC Upstate Classic following loses to Campbell and Furman. In its final two road tournaments of the season, Towson went just 4-5. In conference play, Towson went just 6-13 with its only series win coming against the College of Charleston. Towson will look to return to the Conference Tournament next season as the team returns All-CAA selections Kendyl Scott and Megan Dejter.
Swimming and Diving
Towson men’s swimming and diving finished with a 4-4 record and placed third in the CAA Swimming and Diving Championships. Sophomore Jack Saunderson highlighted the team’s season. He won the 200-meter butterfly in the ECACs and qualified for the NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Division I Championships. In the NCAA Championships, Saunderson placed 43rd in the 100-meter fly and 16th in the 200-meter fly. On the women’s side, the team went 7-3 and also placed third in the Conference Championships. Sophomore divers Emily Wilson and Kelsey Jehl qualified for the NCAA Championships.
Towson ended its season with a sixth-place finish in the Eagl Championships hosted by North Carolina State. The team began its season with a win over Southern Connecticut State at SECU Arena, but failed to maintain consistency throughout the long haul of the season. The team will lose three seniors next season to graduation. Bayleigh Forbes, Bailey Gallagher and Bridget Steffen will graduate this spring. However, the team will return Tyra McKellar, Gabriella Yarussi and Mary Elle Arduino, who all qualified for the NCAA Regional Tournament this year.
Indoor Track & Field
Towson opened its season by winning five of seven double-dual matchups at the Navy Lid Lifter. The team also competed in the Maryland Invitational, the Patriot Games and the Villanova Invitational throughout the course of the regular season. In the postseason, Towson finished 12th in the ECAC Championships in Boston. The schedule for the indoor track and field season for next year is still TBD.
Towson earned a victory in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament with a 12-8 win over No. 7 Penn State. The team also won its third straight CAA Championship Trophy with a 9-4 defeat of University of Massachusetts, Amherst, at Johnny Unitas Stadium. Towson earned its right to play UMass with an 8-4 victory over Drexel in the semifinals round of the CAA Tournament. In the regular season, the team earned three victories against ranked opponents. Towson defeated No. 6 Johns Hopkins, No. 9 Hofstra and No. 18 Ohio State. In CAA play, Towson suffered only one defeat, coming at the hands of Fairfield. However, the team beat Drexel, UMass, Delaware and Hofstra to finish first in the conference with a 4-1 record. Head Coach Shawn Nadelen will have his hands full in the offseason, having to replace key members of the team due to graduation.
Towson endured heartbreak in the postseason this year, falling in the opening round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament and the CAA Championship Tournament. In the NCAA Tournament, No. 18 Towson fell to unranked opponent High Point 21-15. In the Conference Tournament, the team fell to Elon 10-9 in overtime. Towson finished its regular season with a 12-5 record. The team’s season was highlighted with a 14-11 victory over No. 10 Notre Dame in the middle of March. Towson will return key pieces to the team next season including Emily Gillingham, Natalie Sulmonte, Kaitlyn Montalbano and Carly Tellekamp. However, Head Coach Sonia LaMonica will have to replace key seniors Samantha Brookhart and Michelle Gildea.
Towson concluded its campaign with a fifth-place finish in the 2017 CAA Championship Tournament in Williamsburg, Virginia. Junior Alexis Hios and freshman Josephine Jung finished among the top-15 individual performers in the Conference Tournament. In the regular season, Towson won its only home tournament of the season, the Tignanelli Invitational. The team also placed second in the Chesapeake Bay Invitational, hosted by the Naval Academy. Towson will graduate just one senior this season while returning the rest of its team for the fall 2017 season.
Towson finished its season with a 13-12 record despite former Head Coach Doug Neagle leaving for another position one day before the start of the season. The team even bested College of Charleston for the first time in school history. Towson ended its season with a loss to No. 43 Virginia before falling to Elon in the quarterfinals of the CAA Tournament. The team will lose just one senior, Sophie Lessage, but will return the rest of its members. Leonard has yet to announce if Interim Head Coach Jamie Peterson will return for the team’s next season.
After a successful 20-year career, Brian Yaniger retired as head coach of the Towson men’s golf program. The team also lost graduating seniors Jimmy Grem, John Hulede and Juan Veloza. Towson concluded its season in April when the team finished third in the CAA Championships Tournament. The team shot eight-under par (856) and finished with a final round score of 293.
Track & Field
Towson won its first CAA Championship in school history with 163.5 points, finishing ahead of rivals Elon (158) and James Madison (140) in the Conference Tournament. In the two-day meet, Towson collected a total of 13 medals. Senior sprinter Zanae Freeland became just the second athlete in program history to be named Co-Most Outstanding Track Performer of the Meet. Freeland won the 100 and 200-meter dash titles and qualified for the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships (ECACs) in the process. Towson is under the leadership of Head Coach Mike Jackson who is in his second season in black and gold.
Towson continues its season with conference play, looking to make an appearance in the CAA Conference Championship Tournament. The team started its season off hot with a 6-1 record, but has since cooled off. At The Towerlight’s press deadline, Towson sits at 19-31 and dropped the first two games of a doubleheader against arch rival Delaware. The team will conclude its season with a three-game series at John B. Schuerholz Park against UNC Wilmington.
Compiled by: Cody Boteler, Jordan Cope, Taylor DeVille, Marcus Dieterle, McKenna Graham, Kristin Helf, Bailey Hendricks, Karuga Koinange, Kristin Helf, Sarah Rowan and Sam Shelton