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Class of 2021: Our Story

Shirmarie Starks | Staff Writer It is crazy to think that the beloved Ogre Phi Ogre 17 class will be graduating on May 9, 2021. For Ahmaad Edmund, a senior political science major, leadership studies minor from Louisville, KY,  one word to describe his experience at Hampton is, “INCOMPARABLE!” As our time at our beloved…

Wellness Days: Are They Working for Students?

Nicole Pechacek | Staff Writer In January, SGA announced that they helped implement wellness days at Hampton University, which were days for students to have needed breaks. Students have had two wellness days thus far, and overall, the consensus has been positive. Some students find the days rather helpful and use them as intended, de-stressing…


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Campus

  • Wellness Days: Are They Working for Students?
    Nicole Pechacek | Staff Writer In January, SGA announced that they helped implement wellness days at Hampton University, which were days for students to have needed breaks. Students have had two wellness days thus far, and overall, the consensus has been positive. Some students find the days rather helpful and use them as intended, de-stressing…
  • The Future is Female: SGA’s Upcoming Big Three
    Angela Session | Staff Writer As SGA elections at Hampton closed April 9, the results were astonishing. The SGA President, Vice President, and Representative to the Board of Trustees positions, also known as the ‘Big Three’ on campus for the 2021-2022 school year, are women. Holding positions that were formerly male-dominated, these three women will…
  • SOJU Makes Its Return To Hampton
    Vashti Dorman | Staff Writer In an effort to keep Hampton University’s sacred traditions alive, the sophomore and junior class councils created a week of interactive events known as “SOJU Night Live” to replace the annual and highly anticipated sophomore and junior class ball. Hosted by the Quintessence XI (QTX) and Onyx XII classes, the week…

Local and World

  • Derek Chauvin’s Trial
    Sydney McCall | Staff Writer  George Floyd died on May 25, 2020 after being suffocated by a Minnesota police officer. The former officer who pinned him down, Derek Chauvin, is now on trial.  Eleven months after the death of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin is facing second and third degree murder, and manslaughter charges for Floyd’s…
  • Recent Events Bring Back Old Memories for Hampton Institute Graduates
    William Paul Ellis | Staff Writer Fifty years ago, students at what was then known as Hampton Institute encountered a situation eerily similar to the scenario faced by current students. It was May 1971, and after months of on-campus student protests, the institute’s president, Dr. Roy Hudson, announced that the campus would be closing for the…
  • Virginia Becomes the 4th State to Ban Animal-Tested Cosmetics
    Jourdyn Grandison | Staff Writer An increasing number of states in the country are prohibiting animal-tested cosmetics. Virginia is the latest to join the list that already includes California, Nevada, and Illinois.  Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed the Humane Cosmetics Act into law on March 16, formally prohibiting cosmetics manufacturers from “conducting or contracting for…

Opinion

  • Glamour or scam? Teens’ use of substances in media
    Kailah Lee | Staff Writer Chances are, if you watch any film or series today, you will see someone using some sort of controlled substance. Whether that be a group of friends comforted by a bottle of booze, smoking cigarettes, or puffing on some “Zaza,” these instances are almost impossible to miss.  Partaking in substance abuse…
  • The death of the modern movie theater
    Ryland Staples | Staff Writer Streaming has become everyone’s favorite pastime. We can all admit that since the pandemic started in March 2020, the number of shows and movies we stream on various streaming services has gone up. With the increasing numbers of streaming services going up, more and more money is being put toward different…
  • Kinky chaos: Natural hair community split at the ends
    Kailah Lee | Staff Writer I hate to admit it, but the natural hair community has become toxic. The natural hair movement started as a way for women and men of color to get to know their complicated coils a little better. People were finally understanding their crowns, finding the right products and bonding with…

Lifestyle

  • Hampton University Traditions
     Nia White | Staff Writer Hampton University has had many traditions in the past 153 years. Some of these traditions have stayed the same and others have evolved to fit current society. Some of the traditions for freshmen have changed since 1966, with the requirements for men and women being different.   One of the…
  • Voices of Black Literature: Margaret Daramola
    Mia Concepcion | Staff Writer Black literature keeps Black thought alive. It conveys the experiences that Africans and African-Americans have undergone from the past until now. Their words, taking multiple forms in books, poetry, and songs, tell stories that will live on forever and never be forgotten. Although threatened when they raised their voices, the…
  • Class of 2021: Our Story
    Shirmarie Starks | Staff Writer It is crazy to think that the beloved Ogre Phi Ogre 17 class will be graduating on May 9, 2021. For Ahmaad Edmund, a senior political science major, leadership studies minor from Louisville, KY,  one word to describe his experience at Hampton is, “INCOMPARABLE!” As our time at our beloved…

Arts and Entertainment

  • Creative Block: Shining a light on Hampton’s artists
    Nyle Paul | Staff Writer Through all of the difficulties, both mentally and physically, that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, many people have turned to the arts to alleviate their hardships. Here at Hampton University, there is a community of artists who continue to grace their audiences with their creations despite the pandemic. Xavier Lamberth…
  • Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell
    Noah Hogan | Staff Writer The thought of death weighed heavy on the mind of Christopher Wallace up until the day he died at age 24. Wallace fell victim to gun violence on March 9, 1997, yet has left an unimaginable impact on the genre of hip-hop and music itself.  Hailing from the epicenter of…
  • Billboard-charting Hampton music producer is making a name for himself
    Jamel Rogers | Staff Writer Christian Ho started charting a path to success before he got to Hampton University. Ho, aka “DatKidChris,” first made the beat to Middle Child at age 17 during his junior year in high school. He produced the song by PnB Rock and XXXTentacion. After Middle Child’s release, it ranked No.…

Sports

  • Hampton’s Davion Warren transfers to Memphis
    Cameron Crocheron | Staff Writer Hampton University men’s basketball shooting guard Davion Warren officially committed to the University of Memphis on April 3 after entering the transfer portal at the end of the 2020-21 season.  “100% committed” is what Warren wrote on his Instagram page with a picture of him and Memphis men’s basketball coach Penny…
  • A quick read on the top prospects in the NFL Draft
    Aliyu Saadu | Staff Writer The NFL Draft, which will take place April 29 to May 1 in Cleveland, has a lot of intriguing prospects this year. This is one of the deepest quarterback and wide receiver classes in years. Here are the top prospects: Trevor Lawerence, QB, Clemson University  Lawrence is a generational talent…
  • NHL gets deal with ESPN
    Aliyu Saadu | Staff Writer ESPN and the NHL announced a seven-year television deal March 10. The new deal will have 100 regular-season games per year on ABC, ESPN, ESPN+ and Hulu. Twenty-five games will be on ABC, ESPN and ESPN +, and Hulu will add 75 ESPN-produced exclusive games to the streaming services starting…

Wellness Days: Are They Working for Students?

Nicole Pechacek | Staff Writer

(Picture Credit: LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash )

In January, SGA announced that they helped implement wellness days at Hampton University, which were days for students to have needed breaks. Students have had two wellness days thus far, and overall, the consensus has been positive.

Some students find the days rather helpful and use them as intended, de-stressing and focusing on their mental health.

“I usually spend my wellness days just relaxing unless I have an assignment due on that day,” said Rayna Wynn, a Computer Science major from Atlanta, GA, “If nothing is due on that Friday, I just decompress and avoid looking at school stuff.”

Many reported that they were glad they finally had a break during the year, especially since the second semester tends to be a lot busier than the first with finals and big projects. 

Some students found them helpful and necessary for getting through the semester, saying that the first semester felt like too much. 

“We just went nonstop last semester. We didn’t get breaks, so they really helped,” said Sydney Broadnax, a Journalism major from Detroit, MI, “I can’t do school nonstop like I did last semester. It just wouldn’t be good for my mental health at all.”

While the idea of wellness days has been praised by some students, others think that some issues have come about that should be addressed. 

The main goal of the wellness days is to give students a much-needed break from school for the sake of their mental health, yet some students have reported receiving homework on the assigned days. They believe that their teachers are not respecting the days for what they are and see the days as just a regular break instead of a way to get rid of some of the stresses that come from school life.

“I think they should let everyone know that wellness days are occurring because some teachers don’t seem to know why they’re happening and still assign assignments for that day, so I feel like they should organize a little better,” said Austin Phillips, a Strategic Communications major from Plainfield, NJ, “Some teachers seem to just treat it like a break. They see it as a day off and think they can just pile on homework due the following day and that is very stressful to the students.”

The newly implemented wellness days are usually held on Fridays. Students report that their Fridays are not their busiest day of the week, and those days are when their homework tends to be due, so they are not getting time to destress because of the homework their teachers have assigned already. 

A possible improvement to this issue is the idea that students could answer a poll and pick what day they want the wellness day to be, collectively as a school. 

“Collectively as a class, let’s decide on when we have a wellness day. Let’s come together and decide what day would be best overall,” said Nathan Abdul-Haqq, a Strategic Communications major from Philadelphia, PA. Students appreciate and like the idea of wellness days, but they do need improvements. Students also want more mental health programs to help them have a better experience at Hampton. 

For the first mental health program put in place by students for students, the wellness days are a great step in the right direction for an overall better mental health experience for the student body during the school year.

The Future is Female: SGA’s Upcoming Big Three

Angela Session | Staff Writer

(Picture Credit: Amber Wynne)

As SGA elections at Hampton closed April 9, the results were astonishing.

The SGA President, Vice President, and Representative to the Board of Trustees positions, also known as the ‘Big Three’ on campus for the 2021-2022 school year, are women. Holding positions that were formerly male-dominated, these three women will now serve as the face of the student body at Hampton University. SGA President, Vice President, and Representative to the Board of Trustees are as follows respectively; Kimberlee-Mykel Thompson, Amber Wynne and Zuri Williams.These women will also be looked upon to represent Hampton women, who also make up the majority of the student body. 

With pressure to both be the representatives for all Hampton students and be a woman in a high leadership position, these three women are ready to get the job done for the upcoming school year.

SGA’s newly-elected Representative to the Board of Trustees, Zuri Williams is a sophomore pre-med major from Cincinnati, Ohio. She currently serves as the sophomore class Vice President and held the same position during her freshman year. 

Amber Wynne is a junior health science policy administration major, criminal justice minor from Columbia, Maryland, who goes by the pronouns she/her. Wynne is still in awe about winning the election. 

“To see a ‘Big 3’ where every seat is taken up by a Black woman is monumental. In fact, this may be the first time this has happened at Hampton University as a whole,” Wynne said.

In her speech, she stated that it was about creating a legacy, and she is beyond honored to have been elected to serve as part of this legacy. 

“This election is more than selecting your next SGA representatives, it’s about creating a lasting legacy that extends beyond the one-year term,” she stated.

Sharing how she would use her position to empower women on Hampton’s campus, she stated that she would use her new leadership to try to bring more women to the table.

“My hope is that through my position I can help establish true equity on campus for every Hampton woman,” Wynne said. “More often than not, we do not celebrate each version of the Hampton woman. Whether that is establishing resources or bringing more women to the table, I hope to create an environment where every Hampton woman is loved and supported.”

SGA President-elect Kimberlee-Mykel Thompson is a junior strategic communications major from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who goes by the pronouns she/her. Thomspon served as SGA Vice President during the 2020-21 school year. 

Sharing that she has a lot planned for the upcoming year, a few of the first things she plans to do once in office is, “the annual implementation of Wellness Days, restructuring the student grievance policy, and increasing programming and partnerships for marginalized communities, on campus.”

Knowing that the “Big Three” is female-dominated, she hopes that our SGA administration can help shed light on the nuances of women’s leadership. 

“So often, the world puts powerful women in boxes, but I want us to break down those stereotypes and show that the Hampton woman is who you choose to make her, not who she’s told to be,” Thompson said.

SOJU Makes Its Return To Hampton

Vashti Dorman | Staff Writer

(Picture Credit: QTXI and ONYX XII Class Councils)

In an effort to keep Hampton University’s sacred traditions alive, the sophomore and junior class councils created a week of interactive events known as “SOJU Night Live” to replace the annual and highly anticipated sophomore and junior class ball. Hosted by the Quintessence XI (QTX) and Onyx XII classes, the week of events ran from April 5-9. 

“Black Jeopardy” was the first event held on Monday. Following the usual Jeopardy model of answering questions in different categories, participants were tested on their knowledge of African American culture. The event was a competition between the QTX and Onyx XII classes.  

“I wish we were having the ball, but at least we’re having something,” said Cheri Manning, a third-year psychology major from Rochester, New York. 

On Tuesday, April 6, a speed dating event took place called “Late Night Date Night.” This event was for students looking to create new relationships or friendships. This event mimicked the speed dating layout by having students talk to other students within a certain time limit. 

On day three of “SOJU Night Live” week, the QTX and Onyx class held a fundraising competition for the Peninsula Food Bank. Titled “Battle of the Band$: Onyx vs. Quintessence,” the competition was held through Instagram and utilized Bingo as a way to raise funds. All of the proceeds were donated to the Peninsula Food Bank. 

The next night consisted of a “Black Men Don’t Cheat Panel,” in which many Hampton students participated in a discussion on how faithful Black men are in relationships. Myana Mabry and Lanece Carpenter interviewed six Hampton men about relationships and what it means to be faithful. This event was held on Instagram Live and many interested Hamptonians tuned in to see who would be admitted to the “Faithful Black Men’s Association.”

“Interviewing for the ‘Black Men Don’t Cheat’ event for SoJu was so much fun. The audience was engaged, and the men on the panel were polite, well-versed and very patient with the questions,” Lanece Carpenter, a second-year Sports Management major on the pre-law-track from San Antonio, Texas.  “The panel was enlightening and opened up a lot of conversations about dating and relationships. Even though some of the men, unfortunately, did not make it into the ‘Faithful Black Men’s Association,’ we still have faith in them.” 

Carpenter also says she hopes to see a “Black Women Don’t Cheat” event in the future. 

The last “SOJU Night Live ” event was hosted on Instagram Live and participants talked about all things Hampton. Hosted by Drake Tucker and Tenel Robison, topics included building the campus environment for the 2021-2022 academic school year, suggestions for potential events and class engagement activities. During the live, students also talked about having more class events since they have not been on campus in over a year. 

As the semester comes to a close, many students of the Quintessence and Onyx classes are excited to return in the fall in person to continue all of the traditions Hampton hosts like SOJU, but next time with the tuxes and dresses.

Hampton’s Davion Warren transfers to Memphis

Cameron Crocheron | Staff Writer

Hampton University men’s basketball shooting guard Davion Warren officially committed to the University of Memphis on April 3 after entering the transfer portal at the end of the 2020-21 season. 

“100% committed” is what Warren wrote on his Instagram page with a picture of him and Memphis men’s basketball coach Penny Hardaway.

Warren chose Memphis after drawing interest from a few other high-major Division I schools, including Texas A&M, Arkansas and North Carolina State. 

“Memphis is a school that likes big guards, and with my size and skill set, I feel like I fit in perfectly,” Warren said to 24/7 Sports. 

Warren finished the 2020-2021 season averaging 21 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3 assists while shooting better than 45 percent from the field in 25 games for the Pirates. The 6-foot-6 guard was named first-team all-conference and led the Big South in points and steals per game. 

With Warren coming in, Memphis now has some stability at the guard position as former 5-star guard Boogie Ellis and junior guard Damion Baugh have both entered the transfer portal. 

Warren also will provide Memphis with immediate offensive production after the team ranked 184th in the NCAA in offensive team efficiency last season, according to the Team Rankings’ website. 

“I love being able to go get a bucket and then go on the other end of the floor and get a steal or a stop,” Warren told 24/7 sports. 

Warren joined the Pirates in 2019, averaging just over 10 points per game throughout the season, taking a backseat role to Jermaine Marrow and Benjamin Stanley, who both averaged over 20 points per game. With Marrow graduating and Stanley leaving Hampton for Xavier in 2020, Warren saw higher offensive production with more opportunities to display his game during the 2020-21 season.

“I think it became an opportunity [to score],” Hampton University coach Buck Joyner Jr. said to HBCU Gameday about Warren’s second-year leap. “Last year we felt like we had a good player in Davion, but he had to kind of accept his role and do the things that he needed to do to help us win ball games.”

This is the second year in a row that Hampton has lost a 20-plus point per game scorer to the transfer portal and a high-major basketball program. Stanley committed to Xavier over the likes of Illinois, Dayton and Oregon.

A quick read on the top prospects in the NFL Draft

Aliyu Saadu | Staff Writer

The NFL Draft, which will take place April 29 to May 1 in Cleveland, has a lot of intriguing prospects this year. This is one of the deepest quarterback and wide receiver classes in years. Here are the top prospects:

Trevor Lawerence, QB, Clemson University 

Lawrence is a generational talent with a strong, accurate arm and respectable speed. According to USA Today, Lawrence won 34 games as the starting quarterback for Clemson, a school record. The Knoxville, Tennessee native threw for 90 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in his career, according to Sports Reference. Lawrence is projected as the top pick in this year’s draft by ESPN and is expected to go to the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Zach Wilson, QB, BYU 

Wilson has been one of the most talked about quarterbacks in the draft. According to WalterFootball.com, he can extend plays, can make NFL throws on a consistent basis, is very accurate and has extreme competitive drive. Wilson threw for 33 touchdowns during his final season at BYU, per Sports Reference. 

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Could Fields be a great quarterback or a bust? Fields has shown glimpses of being a franchise quarterback, but his inconsistency reportedly has many teams around the NFL worried. Fields had an exceptional performance against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl in January,  throwing for 385 yards and six touchdowns, according to SportsReference. According to WalterFootball.com, he can be rattled by the blitz and occasionally struggles going through his progressions. 

Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State 

Lance is the biggest question mark in this draft. He only played one game in 2020 compared to other quarterback prospects who played at least eight. During his only full season at North Dakota State, he threw zero interceptions and led his team to the conference championship.  

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama 

Jones has the biggest upside in this draft. Throwing to receivers Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, Jones had a stellar pro day performance which moved him higher on ESPN’s draft board. WalterFootball.com says that he may be a game manager at the next level and does not have the biggest arm strength, yet his strong play in the SEC — the NCAA’s strongest football conference — indicates that Jones may transition to the NFL well.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU  

Chase is considered the best receiver this draft, but he did not play last year.  Chase’s decisions to sit out may hurt him, but he still is considered a game changer at the receiver position. In 2019, he had 1,780 yards receiving and 20 touchdowns, per WalterFootball.com. He is a matchup nightmare due to his game-breaking speed, per WalterFootball.com. He is a generational type receiver, with great upside.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama  

Smith burst onto the scene in 2020, winning the Heisman Trophy. Smith was the first player who was not a QB or a running back to win the Heisman since Charles Woodson in 1997.  Smith caught 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns, per WalterFootball.com. He is a terrific route runner, and when he touches the ball, it could go for six. The only weakness for Smith is his size. At only 175 pounds, some are concerned about how he will adjust to the physicality of the NFL, per WalterFootball.com.  

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida  

Pitts is the best tight end in the draft. He is a matchup nightmare with receiver skills and a terrific route runner with elite after-the-catch skills, per WalterFootball.com. Pitts had 54 catches, 649 yards and five TDs, despite not playing a lot late in the season, so there is still upside. He can be a spectacular receiving  tight end, but he is not the best blocker.

Creative Block: Shining a light on Hampton’s artists

Nyle Paul | Staff Writer

Through all of the difficulties, both mentally and physically, that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, many people have turned to the arts to alleviate their hardships. Here at Hampton University, there is a community of artists who continue to grace their audiences with their creations despite the pandemic.

Xavier Lamberth is a third-year Architecture major from Sedalia, North Carolina. Lamberth is a multimedia graffiti artist, as well as the owner of a hand embroidery clothing brand. When asked how he describes his craft, he called it an “undefined version of me.”

Courtesy of Xavier Lamberth

To gain insight into what pushes him to create such elaborate and exciting pieces, he was asked who and what influence his art.

“My influences are my life,” Lamberth said. “I let my art come from my feelings. However, when I was younger, my influence came from DOKE, a graffiti artist.”

Courtesy of Xavier Lamberth

During these trying times, it is easy to lose grip on the motivation needed to continue pursuing personal goals, and artists may experience difficulty tapping back into their creative side. Lamberth touched on the source of his creative block and what he does to get past it.

“Most of my creative block comes from wanting to draw,” Lamberth said. “I like to draw when I want to draw, and that allows my creativity to flow without burning myself out. These breaks allow me to overcome those creative blocks.”

Courtesy of Xavier Lamberth

Although the pandemic has created a roadblock between many artists and the perseverance needed to stay dedicated to their craft, some artists, such as Lamberth, claim that their art has benefited from the social break that the pandemic brought.

“The pandemic has allowed me to stretch my feelings beyond myself and for my people,” Lamberth said.

Courtesy of Xavier Lamberth

For many colleges and universities, the arts aren’t heavily supported, making artists feel overlooked. The North Carolina native shared his thoughts on if he believes that the arts are getting the attention it deserves and if Hampton offers enough opportunities for exposure.

“No, I do not,” Lamberth said. “I feel as if there should be more places for artists of all media forms to be accepted. With my art form being graffiti, many people don’t really hold anything to spread it, but a lot of people love it.”

Courtesy of Xavier Lamberth

Along with his inspirations, the lasting impact he hopes his art will leave pushes Lamberth to continue his craft.

“I hope my art is able to allow people to understand that you’re not alone,” Lamberth said. “People have the same story or same feelings, and it’s OK to connect with my art. Because my art allows me to express my feelings so people can relate.”

Without a doubt, Lamberth has put forth a lot of hard work and dedication into his craft.

“To be honest, I’m going to be pushing out more canvases and allowing people to have custom items done,” Lamberth said.  “The clothing will also be custom made to order only.”

You can support Xavier by following his art page @mase_theartist and his clothing brand page @peaceof_me.

Derek Chauvin’s Trial

Sydney McCall | Staff Writer 

AP/Derek Dovarganes

George Floyd died on May 25, 2020 after being suffocated by a Minnesota police officer. The former officer who pinned him down, Derek Chauvin, is now on trial. 

Eleven months after the death of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin is facing second and third degree murder, and manslaughter charges for Floyd’s death.

During the trial, Chauvin, who is white, was described by his former coworkers as awkward and often having a propensity to overreact. The trial also revealed that Chauvin was previously involved in two other circumstances in which he killed suspects. 

Lt. Richard Zimmerman, an officer in the Minneapolis police department said Chauvin’s actions were a use of deadly force and unnecessary. One paramedic, Derek Smith, testified that there was no pulse when police officers were still on top of Floyd. 

A pulmonologist, Dr. Martin J. Tobin gave a detailed testimony that showed that Floyd died from the pressure of Chauvin’s knee on his neck. 

“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died”, says Tobin. 

Attorneys of Mr. Chauvin are attempting to use Floyd’s previous drug use as an explanation for his death. However, prosecutors argued that it was unlikely that he died of an overdose as he had built up a high tolerance for drugs.

Additionally, the surgeon for the Louisville Metro Police Department, Dr. Bill Smock, testified that there was no evidence of an overdose. Smock also said that officers should have started with C.P.R. immediately after arriving at the scene. 

“It is so disrespectful to blame his death on drugs when we saw what happened,” said Monae Fletcher, a freshman biology major. “In the trial of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Michael Brown, they did the same thing and tried to deflect onto their past lives as a reason for their death. There’s no excuse. We saw what happened.” 

Witnesses testified that they are haunted by what they saw the day of Floyd’s death. Floyd’s girlfriend told stories to the jury of their loving relationship and how greatly he played his role as a partner and father. 

After Floyd’s death, millions held protests across the country against police brutality. Whatever the outcome of the trial, a reaction from the masses is expected.

“If Chauvin is not found guilty, there is going to be an even bigger upheaval of riots than before,” says Leah Johnson, a strategic communications major at HU. “We are fed up with the same thing happening and having to hold hope that justice will be served.”

Virginia Becomes the First Southern State to Ban Gay and Trans Panic Defense

Jourdyn Grandison | Staff Writer

A week after trans-visibility week, Virginia became the 12th state to ban LBGTQ+ panic and the first state in the South to ban panic as a defense for murder and manslaughter.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill against the defense on April 7, which previously allowed people convicted of murder to get lighter sentences by claiming they were panicked after learning the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

According to the American Bar Association, the bill’s creator, Democrat Delegate Danica Roem, first learned of the defense after the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, where the men who killed him used the defense in court. The defense was used again in 2004, where a convicted man used the defense in the case of killing Gwen Araujo, a transgender teenager. 

When Roem learned of Araujo’s passing, she was a college freshman who already identified as trans. She confessed that learning of Araujo’s murder scared her. 

But it was a letter from a 15-year-old LGBTQ constituent that inspired her to introduce a bill to outlaw the defense in Virginia.

“He’s out, and he sent me an email asking me to pass this bill, and I came to realize that in 2021, my out teenage constituents are living with the same fear that I did in 1998 after Matthew was killed and that I did in 2002 after Gwen Araujo was killed,” Roem said in an interview with NBC News. “And you think of how many other people will stay closeted because they have a fear of being attacked, let alone all the other fears that a closeted person who wants to come out has.”

In the early stages of the bill, Roem and her team of researchers testified that panic defense had been used at least eight times in Virginia. Some Virginia legislators challenged it, claiming that other legal defenses aren’t prohibited, which Roem denied.

“What we were showing was, sometimes things are so egregious that when we have this universal acknowledgment that this shouldn’t be happening, we codify that,” Roem said to NBC News. “And so that’s what we did with this bill.”

For LGBTQ+ students at Hampton University, Roem’s push for the panic defense banning makes room for continuous conversation about gay and trans social acceptance on campus.

“Delegate Roem pushing this bill is a great first step towards protecting Black trans women, particularly in Virginia, and hopefully the rest of the South,” said Zior Glover, Vice President of MOSAIC at Hampton University. “Panic defense essentially protects anyone who commits a hate crime or murder, based on someone’s sexual identity or gender. It suggests that trans people are a threat to others and that the comfort of cishet people is more important than our safety or wellbeing. If we want to be a progressive institution, there must be the protection of LGBTQ+ individuals.”

Delegate Roem hopes that with the passing of the bill, state legislatures will begin to change. According to Roem, as the first Southern state to enact a ban on panic security, Virginia provides a precedent for other states. Roem hopes the Mid-Atlantic states will send a message to LGBTQ people once Delaware “gets on board.”

Recent Events Bring Back Old Memories for Hampton Institute Graduates

William Paul Ellis | Staff Writer

AP/Rob Ostermaier

Fifty years ago, students at what was then known as Hampton Institute encountered a situation eerily similar to the scenario faced by current students. It was May 1971, and after months of on-campus student protests, the institute’s president, Dr. Roy Hudson, announced that the campus would be closing for the rest of the school year.  However, this was not the only stipulation mentioned in the letter. The annual commencement that the class of 1971 had eagerly begun preparing to participate in would be cancelled. 

The 150th Hampton University Commencement scheduled for May 9, 2021 would be the “golden anniversary” of the class of 1971, signifying 50 years as Hampton Alumni. However, in an ironic turn of events, the in-person commencement has also been cancelled in favor of a virtual ceremony. 

Today, Zarina Sparling is a retired healthcare insurance executive who lives in Holly Springs, NC. But in 1971, she was one of  approximately 600 seniors who were given the unexpected instructions to immediately leave the waterside campus for the final time as undergraduate students. 

“There was a lot of unrest around the campus and around the city of Hampton, so I think that it kind of got out of hand,” Sparling said. “The administration decided that for the safety of all, they were going to shut down the school, which caught us all by surprise.”

The events of the 1970 – 1971 school year that culminated in the spring semester’s abrupt end have long been a part of Hampton’s lore. Sparling recalls a slew of on-campus protests with the purpose of pressuring administration into making more progressive changes. 

A WAVY 10 news report from 1981 describes the protests as being one of numerous protests taking place on college campuses in response to U.S. involvement in Vietnam and Cambodia. Both recount fires in campus buildings allegedly set by students, and an attempted siege of the administration building. 

Fortunately for the class of 1971, a new administration led by Dr. Harvey would formally invite the class to participate in the 1981 commencement ceremony. The news clip taken from the WAVY 10 archives notes that in a class of approximately 600 graduates, only around 100 returned to walk across the stage a decade later. A member of the 1971 class interviewed at the time also mentions that “two or three” classmates were already deceased. 

Similar concessions for a later in-person ceremony have been offered to the class of 2021. In a March 24 letter from the Committee on Ceremonial Occasions, the university agreed to “explore hosting an opportunity for graduates to return to campus to commemorate graduation and their Hampton experience,”  after the COVID-19 infection rate has reasonably subsided. 

However, senior students have still expressed disappointment in not having a variation of a traditional ceremony. 

  “We all worked so hard to get to this moment, and it hurts that we can’t celebrate it the way we intended,” said Selena Roberts, a senior strategic communications major. “Senior year is full of many milestones that the class of 2021 did not have the chance to enjoy, and now graduation is added to that list.”

 Sparling is quick to express that while not having a commencement was unfortunate, it was not detrimental to her overall Hampton experience. Still, many of her memories echo sentiments expressed by this year’s graduates. 

“You never got to say goodbye to anybody, you didn’t have that farewell kind of stuff that usually takes place during graduation week.”

Much has happened in the half-century since the class of 1971’s final year came to a sudden end. Class sizes have significantly grown, new buildings have been erected, and the famed Hampton Institute is now the nationally-renowned Hampton University. Recent events have revealed a unique bond shared between Hamptonians of the past and present, and brought with it a familiar lesson that time often runs out more quickly than anticipated.

Hampton University Traditions

 Nia White | Staff Writer

Hampton University has had many traditions in the past 153 years. Some of these traditions have stayed the same and others have evolved to fit current society. Some of the traditions for freshmen have changed since 1966, with the requirements for men and women being different.

  One of the unique continued Hampton traditions is curfew for the freshman students. 

“Female freshmen had to be in the dorm at night by 9:00pm during the week and 11:00 pm on the weekends” Carey Shorter, Class of 1970 said.

“My most memorable moment at Hampton is running back from Holland with my friends to meet curfew in pre-college. It was our first Holland and we totally forgot that we had a curfew ( a lot of people forgot) so we literally had about 5 minutes to get from Holland [Hall] to Moton. There were so many people running around campus trying to get back to their dorms. Although we were cutting it close it was so fun cutting it close with a bunch of peers,” said Nicole Lowery, a current junior.

  The Freshman dorms are a rich part of Hampton culture because of the relationships that are built there.

“I lived in Davidson Hall and we were known as the Davidson Divas. Freshman dorms were known to have unique names and represented proudly even until today,” said Jenisha Henneghan, an alumni of the Class of 2000. “There was also a Freshman Step Show between the dorms and we represented with custom shirts.”  

  “I enjoyed my freshman dorm, Kennedy Honors Hall  and it was really my RA’s that’s made me enjoy Kennedy so much. They were so full of life and wanted to get to know me, it was great knowing that the upperclassmen wanted to know who I was,” Lowery said.

  The curfew is a mandated rule and is applied to all incoming freshmen. However, freshmen used to be subject to other forms of initiation into the “Hampton Family.”  

  When Carey Shorter ‘70 was a freshman, he recalls when freshman had to wear beanies. 

“Freshmen had to wear beanie caps during the first 2 weeks of classes. After the beanie requirement was met, freshmen were members of the Hampton family,” said Shorter.

  Another important part of Hampton tradition is attire. Some of the attire of Hampton students has changed over the time.  

“When attending a class we could not wear shorts or t-shirts, women had to wear dresses,” Shorter said.

  In more recent years Hampton business attire has only been required for certain events.

“During our freshman year we were also taught Ogden attire.  Everyone knew that meant dress business or business casual. No sneakers or jeans were allowed for certain events such as guest speakers or Convocation. You would be sent to change if you were not dressed appropriately,” Henneghan ‘00  said.

The Hampton attire has taught students how to prepare for the workforce.

  “The Hampton culture is business [professional], we are the standard of excellence; so I wasn’t  surprised we had to dress up a lot. I actually dress up a lot in business clothes because most of the settings I was going into required that, but I also think it prepares us for the real world,” Lowery said.

  There are also attendance requirements for students across all classifications. “[We] had to attend ¾ of a class , and maintain a 2.0 average. Minimum hours to be a full time student was 12 hours,” Shorter said. Attendance requirements also included events outside of class.

Although some may not like or agree with certain Hampton traditions, they have certainly  prepared students for their lives beyond their home by the sea. 

“I worked for IBM as a Technical writer, then went into the army for 3 years.  I then attended the University of New Mexico and took computer science courses. After receiving my masters, I returned to IBM as an electrical engineer,” Shorter said.

  “After graduating from Hampton, I attended Virginia Commonwealth University for Graduate School and received a Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree,” Henneghan said.

  “Hampton has prepared me for my career.  Even though we complained about the dress code and Ogden Attire, I am appreciative of that guidance. Hampton prepared us to know how to dress for all occasions, Henneghan said.

Although some traditions might seem a bit tedious, there is a purpose for all of it. Nicole Lowery said it best, “As African American people, we are often looked down upon or sought out to be less successful, but when we dress like it, talk like it, walk like it and act like it there is no way that people won’t see how we’ve been groomed for what the professional world is throwing at us.”