2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the historic U.S. v. Caldwell Supreme Court case

Solyana Bekele | Staff Writer

In the echoey room of the Scripps Howard auditorium, Earl Caldwell, a journalism professor at Hampton University and defendant for the historic Supreme Court case U.S. v. Caldwell, recalled the tumultuous time spent reporting on the Black Panther Party (BPP) for The New York Times. 

This case held that journalists don’t have any special protection not afforded to non-journalists under the free press clause of the First Amendment. This decision later inspired some states to adopt shield laws that protect journalists and their sources’ confidentiality. 

Caldwell’s reporting, however, landed him in court, dealing with the constitutional blow that the Supreme Court Justices of 1972 dealt journalists the nation over. 

“I would never go back to the Black Panther office again,” said Caldwell when the FBI first approached him to become an informant. “They would always call the office,” remembered Caldwell. 

Caldwell was “gathering information for the newspaper to disseminate to the public,” and whatever non-confidential information the FBI wanted was already published.

On January 30, 1970, the FBI issued Caldwell his first subpoena–an order to appear in front of a Grand Jury–and reveal any information he received about the BPP in confidence or not. Though two more subpoenas were issued, Caldwell never showed nor testified, believing this to be an encroachment on his First Amendment protection guaranteed him as a journalist.

Caldwell appealed the subpoenas, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in his favor stating that “Mr. Caldwell shall not be required to answer questions, concerning statements made to him, or information given to him by members of the Black Panther Party,” unless specifically given to him for publication. 

“We won this case in California,” recalled Caldwell.

When this case reached the Supreme Court, Caldwell remembered his lawyer, Anthony Amsterdam, confidently saying, “this is one of the easiest cases [I’ve] ever had to argue to the Supreme Court.”

In his oral argument, Amsterdam stated that not only testifying but appearing in front of a Grand Jury alone would disrupt the “free flow of information.” This “free flow” is also protected by the First Amendment, argued Amsterdam. 

Despite Amsterdam’s conviction, the Supreme Court ruled against the defendants, reasoning that the First Amendment does not grant journalists special privilege to refuse to show up and testify when so ordered. 

Though Caldwell’s time with the Panthers was interrupted, his articles remain. According to a search on ProQuest Historical Newspapers, in 1970 alone, the Times published 1,217 articles containing the words “Black Panther(s).” 

Though he didn’t write all of the Times articles on the Panthers, Caldwell’s stories were a significant part of the Panthers’ public image. “I wrote a lot of stories about the Black Panthers,” said Caldwell.

Pondering the late nights spent with the Panthers, Caldwell says, “There was a lot of brilliance. For guys that were so young, there was a lot of strength.” Caldwell mentioned the Panthers’ different programs they had for recording police activity and their community service programs.

“They would feed the kids as much as [they] wanted to eat,” laughingly recalled Caldwell in reference to the Panthers’ famous Free Breakfast Program. In his June 15, 1969, Times article, Bobby Seale, co-founder of the BPP, tells Caldwell, “we are feeding over 1,000 kids every day right here in the bay area.”

Caldwell also grew friendly with David Hilliard, Chief of Staff for the BPP, who Caldwell describes as the “day-to-day guy” because the BPP’s founders, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, were in jail for separate charges. 

Their close relationship, though professional, greatly dismayed the FBI. This worsened after Caldwell’s article on December 14, 1969. Times quoted Hilliard advocating for the “direct overthrow of the Government by way of force…because we [the BPP] recognize it as being oppressive.” 

Though Caldwell never returned to the Panthers’ offices after the FBI approached him, the first-hand reporting he did made him a celebrity and a curiosity of sorts. How did the Panthers, an organization that was simultaneously loved and feared by the Black community, trust an outsider to allow him in close quarters and report on their activities? 

It wasn’t that the Panthers necessarily loved him, but that “everybody wanted to use the newspaperman,” mused Caldwell. Caldwell emphasized that the Times was an international paper, and the Panthers were well aware. They used the massive coverage they gained, though not always positive, as a means to globalize their politics and worldview. 

“The big thing is, and I think this may be their legacy, they really emphasized and brought the gun into the center,” Caldwell said.

Though their politics and tactics remain intensely debated, Caldwell’s reporting remains a historical artifact quenching the thirst of those who aspire to truly understand the revolutionary organization that was the Black Panther Party. 


Spring Cleaning: For the Mind, Body, and Dorm

Ja’Nia Keith | Script Writer

According to scientists at Boston University, when the seasons change, they can also change your mood. With the warm spring weather here, spring cleaning can benefit your mind, body, and dorm. Psychology professors and students reflect on how spring cleaning positively affects them.

Hampton University’s Dr. Karen Walker studies social psychology. She focuses on how the people around us affect our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. She describes people as “social animals.” 

Dr. Walker notes that spring cleaning is a time to create a new environment for yourself. A time to make yourself organized. 

“It feels great,” she said. “Having a fresh start revives you and gives [you] more energy.” 

Tatiana Blair, a first-year, 5-year M.B.A. business major from Bronx, New York, said that spring is one of her favorite seasons because it makes her feel like she is getting a new start. For Blair, spring cleaning represents a new chapter in her life.

“It’s letting go of the depressing winter,” she said. 

About 10 million people, ranging from ages 18-to 30, suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.), according to Boston University. S.A.D. occurs when the seasons change. It more commonly occurs during the cold winter months.

Being a college student is all about balancing out different factors in life, once at a time. It is more than just having an orderly room. It is also about having and maintaining a fresh mindset. Some ways you can improve your spring cleaning are: 

  1. Buying a Planner/Calendar- Being able to plan for the week you have ahead of you, will help to stay organized and unscattered.
  1. Break from Social Media- There is nothing wrong with cutting ties with the internet world for a little while. This will help to stay focused on more important tasks.
  1. Working Out- Exercising is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy. It is also a way to relieve yourself from any stress or frustration that may have been caused.
  1. Cleaning your Dorm- Cleaning your space can be a transcending experience. When your surroundings are cluttered, cleaning can clear your mind and room. 

These are just a few tips to help get rid of anything lingering to make space for the things you embark on. 

Treat your mind like you treat your room

Will Packer Talks This Year’s Oscars

Christian Thomas | Staff Writer

Graphic Courtesy of Christian Thomas

Hampton University is often known for extending its help to those in need. Two years ago, during the natural disaster Hurricane Dorian, Dr. Harvey announced that Hampton would be offering those affected free room, board and tuition. Now in 2022, with the conflict between the Ukrainian and Russian governments, the university has once again offered aid, leaving current students feeling neglected. 

This kind gesture has been recognized by Hamptonians both on and off-campus as an unnecessary ploy for good publicity. Many of the students feel that their needs have been brushed aside and ignored while the administration is very quick to extend their hand overseas. 

After interviewing a handful of students, the consensus has been that no one is truly in agreement with this decision. 

“More people are deserving of what is being extended to these students who are not just in the Hampton Roads area, but right here on our very campus.” 

One student stated, “It’s almost as if these students were intentionally overlooked for a larger publicity stunt.” 

Another issue being brought up by the student body is that the money we already have is not properly allocated to giving students better opportunities and resources on campus. 

According to Google, tuition at Hampton is on average $31k, and this is after aid. A majority of students here pay close to if not full tuition. This means a large portion of the student body is not seeing where their money is going. 

Ari, a sophomore currently attending Hampton studying liberal studies, said there are a lot of places on campus that currently need attention.

“There are a million different ways the money being donated to Ukrainian students could be utilized on campus. The dorms are moldy, the bathrooms are often left unclean, many things are outdated from the buildings to the official Hampton website. Many resources that were advertised to incoming students are no longer available and a lot of us feel misled to come here for something that’s not even here anymore,”  she said.

Most people came to Hampton because of the numerous esteemed programs that are offered here. Unfortunately, due to COVID many resources have become unavailable and many staff members have left. 

Some departments haven’t been thriving the way that they used to. Those who currently attend the university would greatly benefit from the rebuilding of these programs. 

Hamptonians feel neglected by the administration because it has become apparent that the two main concerns of the school are its reputation and enrollment rates. 

“Hampton seems to be more concerned about its public image than actually making the changes necessary to truly ensure that the school’s reputation is not tarnished and the enrollment rates don’t plummet,”  said a student who wished to be left anonymous.  

As we find out more about the struggles being had by those attempting to flee from these unsafe conditions, there appears to be a pattern of racial discrimination in Ukraine and neighboring nations. Videos have surfaced showing Black students being refused refuge. In one instance, a little girl was forced off of a train so that a white passenger could board and flee to safety. 

Being that Hampton is an HBCU, Hamptonians feel it is not right to offer scholarships to people who quite possibly could be prejudiced against Black students. 

While it is recognized that both the African students who were displaced and native Ukrainians have been extended this opportunity, it remains true that the money could be better spent on current students and the enhancement of on-campus resources. 

Overall, many students are unhappy with the decision. After all, they feel Hampton should be working towards making campus life a better experience for those already enrolled instead of trying to fill the campus with students who are subsequently going to be unhappy because they aren’t getting what they were promised. 

Red Table Talk: Red Flags in Relationships

Aaliyah Pollard | Staff Writer

Hampton University’s African Student Association teamed up with Campus+ to host a Red Table Talk on red flags in relationships and different types on March 21.

The African Student Association gives students opportunities to share their societal perspectives as first-generation Americans, while Campus+ is dedicated to motivating and uplifting plus-size women. 

The two organizations hosted this event to start an open conversation about red flags in relationships and navigating relationships as young adults of various backgrounds. 

Before getting into the actual discussions, attendees were taught the definitions of terms that would appear during them. While the term “red flag” is widely used, the hosts ensured that the participants knew that a red flag is a warning or sign that a person is problematic and even dangerous at times. 

One red flag that’s commonly associated with relationships is gaslighting. Gaslighting occurs when someone opens up to their partner about an event or action that made them upset, and in response their partner makes them feel delusional about their feelings by making it seem as though the event never happened. 

Almost all the attendees were familiar with the term but had various definitions of it, demonstrating the diverse ways in which the red flag can present itself. A few participants had associated gaslighting with someone dismissing and hyperbolizing their partner’s reactions to something they did, while others associated the concept with manipulating someone’s memory. For example, pretending they didn’t do something that they did, especially when their partner explicitly remembers that action. 

Lauryn Bass, president of Campus+ and a graduating senior journalism major from Atlanta, GA argued that to recognize and adequately respond to a red flag, “you definitely have to know yourself.” 

In agreement, one participant stressed the importance of believing in people when they tell you who they are. This revelation is rarely verbal, so it’s essential to be aware of the red flag when it presents itself. Participants were then able to discuss their experiences with red flags in relationships and share advice on how to identify them and move forward. 

The following prompt asked participants to state their love languages if they knew them. According to The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman, the five love languages are acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, gift-giving, and physical touch. 

This sparked the discussion of how different upbringings can affect one’s love language because normally, how one receives and gives love to their family and other loved ones is what establishes their love language. Furthermore, when their partner doesn’t share that love language, they can get frustrated and second-guess their partner’s feelings about them. Therefore, it’s essential to be aware of the different love languages as one is of their own.

The last topic discussed was committed relationships and “sneaky links.” Participants compared their experiences with one or both types of relationships. A few preferred the perks that come with being in a committed relationship and how that preference goes along with their faith and upbringing. When it came to their perspective on sex, these participants felt that it was a practice that should occur with their partner in a committed relationship. On the other hand, some participants expressed the importance of going through a stage of having casual, safe sex to know what you want from your future partner sexually and long-term. 

Campus+ and the ASA plan to host another Red Table Talk, so students will have another opportunity to attend. The event is a safe space, so students are free to discuss their experiences and concerns as minorities. Establishing the discussion as a safe space allowed all the participants to learn about different experiences with relationships and how everyone’s backgrounds affect their view of them. 

Best explained by Gibson Mashua, President of ASA, the Red Table Talk allowed students of various backgrounds to discuss “personal expectations in relationships, how [they] view certain social issues, and what may or may not be considered ‘ok’ depending on where you are from.” 

Film Festival Returns Bringing Big Names to Hampton

Christian Thomas | Staff Writer

Hampton University’s annual film festival is back for its 6th year, and this year, the festival promises to bring big names to campus. Hampton students will have the opportunity to explore the world of film with campus activities such as film screenings, student showcases, discussions and talent spotlights, starting April 6.

Notable industry names, such as Emmy award-winning actor Keith David, award-winning documentary filmmaker Roy T. Anderson, and relative newcomer MeKai Curtis, will be in attendance to discuss their recent works. 

This year’s theme is “Crossing Generations of Black Film Brilliance,” and films like African Redemption and Tell Them We’re Rising will act as the festival’s focus. Power Book III: Raising Kanan’s lead actor Mekai Curtis will join the celebration Wednesday, April 6, to discuss his successes as a young actor in Hollywood. 

Students interested can spend the day watching the films such as Tell Them We’re Rising, Juice and Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and then engage in the discussions. 

Thursday, April 7, will feature the films Fast Color, The Delivery Boy, African Redemption, along with a student film showcase. African Redemption director Roy T. Anderson will also discuss the importance of Marcus Garvey with the film’s narrator Keith David. 

Before directing films like African Redemption, Roy T. Anderson spent most of his career as a stuntman for notable actors such as Denzel Washington, Will Smith, and Jamie Foxx. The risky lifestyle has allowed him to pursue a career behind the camera as a director. 

Legendary actor Keith David has given audiences over four decades of films earning him three Emmy awards. Acting in over 300 roles throughout his career, David has starred in movies such as Dead Presidents, ATL and Barbershop

Finally, MeKai Curtis plays the lead character, Kanan Stark, in the popular Starz show Power Book III: Raising Kanan. Although his career has just begun to blossom, Curtis has already acted in numerous roles for Disney.

Professor Brarailty “Rel” Dowdell, Assistant Professor of English and Film Studies and Coordinator of the Mellon Center Hampton University Film Festival, said the visiting talent for this year’s festival could learn a lot from each other.

“Each one has had a different trajectory to success as an African-American in the most competitive of industries. Many would have not had the fortitude to embark on each one of these standout individuals’ respective journeys,” he said. “In many ways, each can learn from the other. That makes what makes the film and television industries so noteworthy.” 

Professor Dowdell said that this year’s festival will be different from previous years because it will “embody[] such unprecedented access to some of Hollywood’s most experienced and barrier-breaking stars from our culture.” 

 Professor Dowdell hopes students will have a lot to take away from this festival.

“The sky’s the limit and beyond,” he said. “I am grateful that my many years of Hollywood experience and subsequent success have enabled me to establish bonds with such notable entertainers to be able to bring them in person to the illustrious Hampton University. 

The festival will occur on April 6 and 7 in the Student Center theater during the day and the Student Center Ballroom in the evening.

Student Artist Highlight: Lauryn Bass 

 Jeremiah C. Lewis | Staff Writer

Last month, Lauryn Bass presented her artwork at Hampton’s Student Art Gallery. Bass is a fourth-year journalism major and psychology minor from Atlanta, Georgia. 

Q1: When did you start loving to paint? 

Bass: Back in the day when silly bands and things like that were popular in elementary school, they would always get banned or taken away from us. My school was always taking away forms of expression from us so when I had to take a required art class it became my favorite time of the week because it felt good to express yourself. Art class on Fridays really made me start enjoying painting. 

Q2: I love the type of colors used in your painting. How would you say colors affect you? 

Bass: It’s a big deal how colors affect us. Jails use dull colors making it depressing. Like Red attracts you. Bold colors for men, feminine colors for women. We express colors in the way we wear things. Green adds grounding scenes. I love to express myself in all kinds of colors.

Q3: What piece do you think people were attracted to because of the colors? 

Bass: My “Sunset” painting. It was well-liked because it felt warm, like grounding yourself outside.


Q4: So you would say painting helps you move forward? 

Bass: Yes, especially in times when I feel alone. I take my alone time to talk to God. When you paint by yourself you learn more about yourself. So many things you can’t control, you just have to keep pushing forward. Painting gives you the time to talk to God and it gives you space. Sometimes I might go back and paint over a piece to make it just right. You can always look at your paintings and know exactly what you felt. I recommend people just paint when they’re stressed or going through something.

Q5: You said earlier that you sometimes add on to old pieces. Would you suggest that most painters add on to old pieces? 

Bass: I don’t know if a painting is ever done. As an artist, you’ll know when a painting is finished.

Q6: What painting would you say is your pride and joy? 

Lauryn: It doesn’t have a name, but here it is.

[insert photo]


Q7: Looking at the untitled painting referenced above, how did you feel when making it? 

Bass: I made this piece when I was 16. Everything seemed like it was going right for a while. I started looking older and not like a little girl anymore. I thought I knew everything I knew in life. Everything felt so right. 

Lauryn: I probably should. Before, I was a free flow painter. Since then, I’ve been learning structure, and I’m interested to see what I’m doing differently now. My art teacher says my painting lacks structure, so I’m interested to see what I would paint in my life after graduation. 

My art conveys a lot of vibrant colors because I would like to think I have a bright personality, which I want to portray in every piece. Nature is a big influence as well because flora really brings me peace.

Jean-Michael Basquiat’s Estate Keeps His Work Alive 

 Trinity Goppy | Staff Writer

Jean-Michael Basquiat, a renowned prolific artist that rose to fame during the 1980’s neo-expression movement in New York City, once said: 

“If you wanna talk about influence, man, then you’ve got to realize that influence is not influence. It’s simply someone’s idea going through my new mind.” 

Basquiat continues to have a tightening grasp on the art community by inspiring the conversation of radical commentary and innovative techniques amongst creatives, after over 30 years of his passing. Basquiat’s estate will be presenting over 200 never-before-seen and rarely shown works, opening April 9. The exhibit, hosted by Basquiat’s family, is named King Pleasure. The name, King Pleasure, derives from Basquiat’s titled painting from 1987. 

The exhibition will showcase his paintings, drawings, multimedia presentations, ephemera, and artifacts that will tell the story of Basquiat from an inward perspective, intertwining his artistic endeavors with his personal life, influences, and the times in which he lived, according to the King Pleasure exhibit. 

Basquiat’s work introduced the world to the New York Art Scene that would later bring influence to hip-hop artists such as Jay-Z, Kanye West and A$AP Ferg. His work alone has contributed to the art community and has become a cultural phenomenon in music, black culture and literature. 

“Growing up, my mom had a lot of Basquiat- inspired artwork hanging around the house. Constantly being surrounded by the vibrant aura of his paintings actually inspired me to begin painting in my spare time,” said Hampton University’s first-year psychology major, Vierra Jordan. 

The exhibition will be held in the Starrett-Lehigh Building, which is one of Manhattan’s largest and premier landmark properties. The building has a history of attracting world-class creative companies and elite brands, which made it inclusive in 1932. 

Sir David Adjaye OBE, a Ghanaian-British architect, known for his work on the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. will transform the ground floor of the Starrett-Lehigh Building through the perspective of Basquiat’s estate. 

“I think Basquiat is a multidimensional artist that faceted his emotions through his work to express the misunderstandings of the black experience. I would be totally down to visit the exhibition once it opens,” said Hampton University’s first-year marketing major, Alexandria Williams. “The opportunity to see his work that has not been released yet would be a very cool experience.” 

How Fashion has improved the life of Hampton Students

Ja’Nia Keith | Script Writer

Fashion is defined as social standing or prominence, especially as signalized by dress or conduct, according to Merriam Webster. Hampton’s very own fashion gurus explained the impact fashion has had on their lives. As the seasons change, these creatives have stayed in style all year round.

First-year HU student Paige Loague, a finance major from Mount Vernon, New York, does not care for shopping. 

“Stores usually have too many options for me and I can never get everything I want,” she said. 

Loague likes to start her outfits off with a bold statement piece then creates from there. She uses fashion to turn heads. She also uses it as a way of networking, hoping to lead down a successful path of modeling. 

She said fashion has helped her create an outlet for herself. You can find the future supermodel on Instagram: @planetpaaige

Another HU first-year, Houston Vailes, a psychology major from Prince George’s County, Maryland, discusses his shopping process. 

“Honestly, I’m a bit of a sneakerhead,” said Vailes. 

He has a deep passion for fashion but an even bigger one for shoes. He starts his outfit off with shoes then works his way up. When building his outfits, he gathers pieces and creates “combinations.”  You can find Vailes and his sneakers on Instagram: @houey_

HU sophomore Korrin Swinton, a journalism major from Southern Maryland, pinpoints her mother as the person who introduced her into the world of fashion. Her mother taught her that uniqueness is what makes you stand out. 

“She is the [flyest] woman I’ve ever known,” said Swinton. 

Individualism plays a significant role in the way Swinton styles her outfits. 

“I like things that I don’t usually see every day,” she said. 

Swinton creates fashion and makeup looks on her Instagram: @xxirinney

HU sophomore Justin McCray, a biology major from Charlotte, North Carolina, uses style in every way. He wants to implement fashion in his future. His outfits or “projects,” as McCray refers to them, give him a sense of direction. 

During the pandemic, McCray began watching fashion shows and noted the details designers would bring out in their work. He found himself inspired to create his brand,  Justin Chancellor. You can find McCray and his creations on Instagram: @ogjusstinn

Junior Taliah Muhammad’s love for fashion runs deep. As a Canton, Michigan native and international studies major on the pre-law track, she started to notice that her city was no longer a place of inspiration for her. 

“The stuff at the malls [were] boring, so I started shopping online,” she said. 

She began to piece together outfits that fit how she truly saw herself from then on. She described fashion as a mindset.

“If you look good, you feel good,” Muhammad said. 

She makes everything her own, which everyone can aspire to be. Muhammad can be found on Instagram at: @ta.liahm

“I think of my closet as a museum full of pieces of art,” said HU junior Dorien Lee Brown. 

Lee Brown has always been attracted to abstract art, and it is displayed throughout his fashion style. 

Being a business management major, he says that you can pull inspiration from anywhere, your budget is not the focus. 

He advises that with fashion, you should never be afraid. Take risks, and most importantly, make sure your style expresses who you are. South Carolina’s own can be found on Instagram: @dorienleebrown

HU Senior Tasha Smith’s curiosity with fashion began when she was a young dancer in Baltimore, Maryland. 

“I was a dancer my whole life, so getting dressed up in costumes and makeup and all of that was something I was always familiar with,” said Smith. “So later down the line, I just carried that with me, always putting together outfits and trying different things was always fun.”  

Smith believes the idea of dressing up has stuck with her since her dancing era and wants to make a career out of it. She hopes that as a fashion journalist, she can also contribute to the world of fashion. You can find this future innovator on Instagram: @tashnicolesmith

At Hampton University, fashion is more than just clothes. Fashion helps define each of the students here. It’s not what you wear. It’s how you wear it.

Where did Something in the Water Go?

Christian Thomas | Staff Writer

Something in the Water will not be returning to the area anytime soon. The famous spring music festival turned Virginia Beach staple is canceled until further notice. The decision follows several challenges plaguing the festival due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

From postponing to cancellations, the final straw was when festival creator, Pharrell Williams’ cousin, Donovan Lynch, was shot and killed by Virginia Beach police officers last year. The Grammy award-winning artist expressed his disappointments with the city in a letter to Virginia Beach City Manager Patrick Duhaney, saying the city has been “run by toxic energy.” 

The festival was a campus favorite in its first year, and it hosted acts like Missy Elliot, Migos, Pusha T, J. Balvin and Anderson .Paak. For upperclassmen, the event served as an exciting conclusion for their earlier college years. 

Christina Buie, a graduating senior and sociology major, said she remembers how huge it was her first year of college.

“I remember when it happened during my freshman year and it was crazy, the traffic to Virginia Beach was all the way down to Newport News,” Buie said. “And I saw on many people’s Instagram stories all of the big-time artists there like Lil Uzi.” 

Buie said she thinks the festival’s departure is such a loss for the area.

Something in the Water was one of the highlights of my freshman year, even though I didn’t go,” she said. “It was right on the beach, which is a unique concert experience that I wanted to experience. Hopefully, wherever they go next, it can still achieve that type of experience though it will be hard.”

The four-day festival hosted several activities during its run, including a film screening, TRAP Karaoke and a pop-up church service. The festival from three years ago has yet to be replicated. 

Mayor Duhaney said that the festival brought Virginia Beach and the surrounding areas $24 million with media coverage totaling $41 million, and its cancellation is a huge economic loss for the city. 

As of now, it is unknown what’s next for Something in the Water

Freshman Week Clean Up

Aaliyah Pollard | Staff Writer

Photo Credit: Sigmund Al on Unsplash

Hampton University’s freshman council hosted a group clean-up in the Student Center on March 9 as part of freshman week. Originally, the cleanup was supposed to be held behind the cafeteria bridge but was moved to the Student Center due to the weather. 

Attendees were tasked with cleaning the closet near the stage in the Student Center. 

People put themselves in groups according to the task that they took on. One group focused on moving the largest bins and decorations out of the closet for more floor space. The bins contained old decorations for Christmas, balls, NSO week, and other occasions celebrated on campus. The next group organized and cleaned the bins that the previous group carried out, while the last group focused on discarding the trash and items beyond repair from the containers.

Event organizers Harlem Morton and Holland Bodner said they created the cleanup as an opportunity for freshmen to start collecting required service hours and understand the overall importance of doing community service. 

“This is giving [students] an opportunity to earn some community service hours and do good for the student center and the school overall,” said Morton, a first-year computer science major from Laurel, Maryland. 

To ensure that the closet was clean before 7 p.m., when try-outs for another program would start in the area that we were moving things from the closet to, everyone worked as swiftly as possible and created plans that would make them reach the goal as a team. The closet was filled with bins of decorations for various occasions, as well as extra supplies that could be used to decorate the Student Center for events and holidays. People quickly created makeshift assembly lines to move heavy items out of the space. Others started organizing the items in bins outside the closet. The last group focused on trashing things and swept at the end.  

At the start of the event, the participants were unsure if they would be able to fix the state of the closet because of how packed the closet was. The containers were packed with items, large decorations almost completely blocked people from entering the closet, and there was a significant amount of broken items and trash. Though getting community service hours was the main incentive for attending the clean-up, the participants started to realize how cleaning the closet would be helpful for event planners in the future. The work that they were doing now, would help others in the future find the proper decorations without having to dig through broken objects and trash.  Therefore, with the purpose of making things easier for future students, the students were able to understand the meaning behind the event more than before and the goal was met almost half an hour before the deadline. That meaning being the importance of prioritizing the needs of your community by keeping it clean and as healthy as possible. 

“While it was a bit challenging trying it to figure out where everything goes, it was fun to feel the energy around between the students,” said Holland Bodner, a first-year journalism major from Raleigh, North Carolina.