Continuing the Catalpa

 

In honor of Green Week, The Landscape Services and The Office of Sustainability held a hands-on tree planting ceremony. Thursday afternoon students and staff gathered in the Grove to plant a tree for Arbor Day as well as give away seedlings of the famous Champion Catalpa tree on campus.

Limited packs of seedlings from the catalpa tree were given to volunteers at the ceremony. The scare of losing one of the Champion Trees years ago gave the Landscaping Services the idea to harvest its seeds.

The tree underwent damage after a storm five years ago. Now the tree is healing with help from cabling throughout the tree and propped limbs. 

Now that there’s no dire need for the catalpa’s seeds, Denise Hill the Superintendent of Landscape Services said they thought students on campus might want a piece of its legacy.

This year they decided to plant a sugar maple, located in The Grove across from Lamar Hall. The decision was made because of the loss of a sugar maple to a disease last year. 

During the ceremony, Jeff Mcmanus the Director of Landscaping Services asked the crowd if the campus’s landscaping played a part in their choice to attend Ole Miss. He continued that for most students it does and that’s why he continues to better the landscaping on campus.

“I thought it was pretty cool to see how they maintained nature as a way for conservation and as a selling point for the university.” Bryce Little said.

Mcmanus said that a lot of trees getting taken down each year because of the new buildings and roads being built in Oxford and on Campus. He said to counteract that they planted at least 800 trees last year.

Tyler Caple an intern for the Office of Sustainability explained that Arbor Day is usually celebrated on April 27th but they celebrated during Green Week this year instead.

“I think that Green Week is an awesome time to celebrate arbor day because we can incorporate all these different campus departments and show how they intersect and work together to enact more sustainable policies on campus.” Caple said.

 

 

Ole Miss community reacts to TB case on campus

By Meagan McGee & Blake Alsup

 

Many members of the Ole Miss community were alarmed Monday after receiving emails notifying them of an active tuberculosis case on campus that hundreds of students were potentially exposed to.

 

In an initial email sent confidentially that morning, the university and Mississippi State Department of Health warned approximately 500 students, faculty and staff members that they may have been exposed to tuberculosis over the past school year.

 

“While attending or teaching classes at the University of Mississippi during the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 semesters, you may have been exposed to an individual with active tuberculosis disease,” the UM Today message read.

 

Senior marketing and corporate relations major Brewer Spayde was one of the students who received that email.

 

“I was confused as to what was going on since they did not give much information about what was happening,” Spayde said. “Then I was kind of scared because TB is not something to mess around with.”

 

Spayde said she and the other notified individuals will be tested free of charge Thursday at the Jackson Avenue Center. The university will cover all costs for the tests and any follow-up tests and treatment they may need.

 

“The Mississippi State Department of Health will be collecting blood samples from students, faculty, and staff believed to have been exposed to identify any individuals that may be infected,” the UM Today message said. “Those found to be infected will be further evaluated and offered treatment to help prevent the infection from progressing to active TB disease.”

 

After a friend told him to check his email, junior accounting major Myles Seiple realized he had received the message alerting him that he should be tested.

 

“So I get on and notice I have two emails instead of one from the health services center,” Seiple said. “One containing general info about a potential outbreak and another that said ‘CONFIDENTIAL.’”

 

After logging into his myOleMiss account to view the message, he saw that he has possibly been exposed to tuberculosis.

 

“My initial thought was ‘Uh oh, looks like I got an early 20th-century problem on my hands,’” Seiple said. “Then I read more and had a few other thoughts, such as ‘I’m probably good.’”

 

Following the first notification emails, another email was sent out to the entire Ole Miss faculty and student body explaining that an active case of tuberculosis had been identified on campus.

 

The announcement garnered mixed reactions from the community, and social media was abuzz with student reactions ranging from serious concern to joking about the disease.

Sophomore hospitality management major Caroline Young said she and her friends didn’t take the email too seriously.

 

“It’s kind of bad because we weren’t that concerned about it. We probably should have been more concerned, but we were kind of laughing about it.” Young said.  

 

Junior linguistics major Heath Wooten said that when a friend in class told him about active TB on campus, he said, “I’m more scared of meningitis.”

 

Wooten said that after researching tuberculosis, he was less concerned.

 

“It incubates forever,” Wooten said. “Now that people are aware, doctors can screen people and eliminate it before symptoms can emerge.”

 

The Mississippi State Department of Health released a document with information about TB. It explained the differences between tuberculosis infection and tuberculosis disease. Tuberculosis infection does not cause illness and has no symptoms, and people with the infection cannot spread it to others, so the 500 individuals being tested are not contagious.

 

If tuberculosis infection is detected, it can be treated to prevent active tuberculosis disease. If left untreated, it could develop over time into active tuberculosis disease, which displays symptoms like persistent coughing lasting two or more weeks, chest pains, difficulty breathing, chills, fever, coughing up blood, night sweats, feeling tired and weight loss.

 

The goal of testing the large group of students is to prevent any potential TB infection from becoming active TB disease.

 

“TB is a serious and potentially life-threatening disease, but it can be detected and treated before symptoms develop,” according to the message sent on UM Today.

Vulnerability Wall: encouraging students to start the mental health conversation

Walking across the circle on March 27th it was hard to miss a large white wall in the middle of the circle. A collection of different colored buttons was arranged to read “WE LISTEN”. Each individual button had a different feeling or emotion written on it. Students were encouraged to choose a button that they felt expressed their feelings for that day. The words varied from “Disappointed” and “Misunderstood” to “Encouraged” and “Valued”.

The creation of this campaign came from Mr. and Ms. Ole Miss, Savannah Smith and Tucker Fox. Intentionally overlapping with Active Minds’ Mental Health Awareness Week, a campus organization devoted to mental health awareness on campus.

“After several conversations with different university and community members, we came to the conclusion that wellness was something that affected every single student on our campus.” Smith said.

They decided that devoting their time into starting a student awareness campaign for the new William Magee Center for Wellness Education would be the perfect way to give back to their campus.

Smith said their main goal for the Vulnerability Wall is to encourage students to open up about their emotions. She said they want to normalize the conversations on mental health.

“I hope that this campaign will help students take ownership of the importance of their wellness and the wellness of the students around them.” Smith said.

Kelsea White stood in front of the wall for a couple of minutes watching as students chose between buttons and trying to figure out which emotion she wanted to wear on her sleeve that day. White said she has always had a positive personality and outlook on things but also can’t ignore when she isn’t feeling a hundred percent and that’s why she wore two buttons.

“Although I was honest picking up ‘exhausted’ I thought I was leaving something out if I didn’t pick up ‘optimistic’ as well.” White said.

Blake McClure stood near the Vulnerability Wall to talk to any confused passersby and encouraged them to stop and check out the wall’s message.

McClure works with Smith and Fox to promote the vulnerability wall and is also a member of Active Minds.

As students passed on their way to class McClure expressed how he appreciated the ones that weren’t afraid to pick the buttons with negative emotions on them. Which he said is the narrative behind the movement, to reassure others not to be afraid to express themselves even if not in a positive light.

Some students like Markel Roberson approached the wall in search of positive reinforcement.

“I knew that whatever was going on around that wall was positive things only.” Roberson said.

Roberson stood and studied the wall wandering between a couple of different buttons before picking out “optimistic”. Roberson said that he finds it easier to focus on the bad or unhealthy factors in his life but wanted a button to encourage him mentally.

“It’s so vital that I remain optimistic because the world will crucify me for free.” Roberson said.

Roberson said he appreciates the vulnerability wall because sometimes society can keep men from expressing vulnerability. He feels like men are directed to fit an image which he thinks can ultimately take away their humanity.

Jay Rao approached the wall with a smile and a deep appreciation for the movement. He immediately gravitated to “inspired” and thanked McClure.

Rao said that the campaign impacted his day and made him very hopeful that other students would see the “WE LISTEN” display and feel more compelled to open up to their friends or family to discuss mental health.

“I think the biggest thing with mental health is that generally, people don’t want to open up to others because they’re afraid to be vulnerable, and they’re afraid how an admission of depression or anxiety might seem.” Rao said.

Rao said he thought their mission to encourage discussions on mental health was accomplished. Rao said that seeing other students on campus with a button like “overloaded” can change the perspective of surrounding students.

Smith said that she hoped the campaign helped students take ownership of the importance of their wellness and the wellness of the students around them.

“It was powerful to see people from all different walks of life come and have a common ground to talk about.” Smith said, “It was a special day watching this campus be willing to be vulnerable with one another.”

You can help this campaign by giving to the Ignite page for the William Magee Wellness Center at https://ignite.olemiss.edu/project/9273.

 

Debate Continued on Oxford Annexation

A discussion on areas to annex into Lafayette County continued yesterday afternoon at the Oxford Board of Aldermen meeting.

Five areas were discussed for annexation while only two of the areas merited a debate.

The board decided to take off 600 feet from new road being built near Joe Huggins tree farm. Which leaves only part of Goose Feather Tree Farm from the annexation and Huggins complied.

The map of the areas of annexation.

Matthew Farrell came to refute his neighborhood Southpointe from being annexed. The last meeting Jeff Byrd presented 48 signatures from Southpointe residents against the annex.

Farrell a fellow resident clarified the neighborhood’s confusion that other neighborhoods and homes were removed from the second map while Southpointe was still included.

Mayor Tannehill said that without annexation they cannot provide Southpointe maintenance.

Southpointe is already using city water, sewage, and fire services but is outside of the school district zones.

Farrell argued that most of the land being brought up for annexation is undeveloped and will be used for the city to grow into. Farrell says that his neighborhood is fully developed and cannot be used for further growth for the city of Oxford.

Farrell said that if the board were to vote for the annex that the residents of Southpointe have full intention of taking the matter to court.

Joe Scott the Visitor Services Coordinator for Visit Oxford presented the changes to rental policies for the double decker buses.

Due to the high costs of maintaining the buses will only be available for rent for three hours. Scott said they will now be using the buses for tourism purposes rather than transportation rentals.

Scott said they also will be increasing the rental price from the original $160 and $100 for every additional hour to $200 hourly.

Angie Avery from the Oxford Lafayette Humane Society presented their data reports from the past 3 months. Avery said that the animals are in much better health recently and the Human Society has recently posted data reports on their websites dating back to 2009.

Avery says they are doing so to be “completely transparent” after last year’s scandal.

Aldermen Mark Huelse asked Avery about doing business with Panola County. The OLHS has been taking in animals from Panola County because of their lack of facility to house them.

The concern is that Lafayette County donors are paying for Panola County’s animals care on top of their own animals. Avery said she will search for a solution.

Oxford Humane Society Revamps its Media Presence for the Pets

The Humane Society’s pet residents are drawing in more attention and adoptions than ever before through the help of their new and improved social media platforms.

Becca Stewart a sophomore accounting major tweeted at OLHS praising their new account. Stewart says she also enjoys that the twitter is geared more towards college-age kids.

“I noticed the change around mid-January. I really like [the tweets] and think they’re funny,” Stewart said. “It’s definitely gained the account more attention especially from students.”

 

Walter Lyle, the man behind the social media and website, joined the Oxford Humane Society and became the first Communications & Outreach Coordinator in December of 2017.

 

“Before me, this job didn’t exist. The position was actually created for me, I had no one to train with or learn from,” Lyle said. “I spend a lot of time responding to messages, responding to comments, and coming up with content. The more animals I post, the more attention they get, which leads to more adoptions.”

 

Due to the social media makeover, Lyle says they have seen a sharp upturn in their adoption rate and overall public image, which has been damaged in the past.

 

“There is a small sect of people in the community who seem to find it necessary to make attempts at dismantling our organization for whatever reason, most of it is based on rumors, not founded in truth,” Lyle said. “A lot of what I do [online] is helping people understand exactly what we do and why.”

 

With the help of Lyle, Facebook likes went from 18,107 to 19,704, Twitter went from 800 followers to 1,429, and Instagram they’re receiving 15-20 new followers a day and now have 1,952 followers. However, Facebook is definitely their highest reaching platform, containing over 19.5k followers.

 

Lyle says that through studying popular social media accounts on Twitter he found the inspiration for their Twitter persona.

“[They] all utilize humor and seem to have their own personality, even though it’s just a company, it allows their customers and followers to feel like they’re interacting with more of a friend instead of a faceless corporation,” Lyle said.

 

One student, Phillip Burrow, a sophomore chemistry major, found his pet through the help of their new media presence.

Burrow taking Gracie home after finding her on their new website.

 

“I first saw her on the website, but after falling in love with her on the website I went over to their twitter page to see if she was on there and then there she was on the pet of the day,” Burrow said. “After I adopted her I followed the twitter page and constantly check it because they are pretty funny when they post their dogs that are up for adoption.”

 

The OLHS will continue down this new media path because just like their mission, their social media goal is to get animals seen and adopted into loving homes.

 

“We know people want pets and we want them to think of us. They won’t know we even have animals if we don’t get the word out,” Lyle said. “By posting photos and information about them, we can get people looking at these pets who desperately need homes.”

 

 

A Break Down of Oxford Bar Covers

Funky’s Advertising “No Cover” on The Square.

When Zach Rabalais was a freshman at Ole Miss in 2013, he remembers freely strolling into his favorite bars downtown on The Square.

Since graduating in 2017 and moving to Memphis, Rabalais still frequently visits Oxford on weekends, but he’s noticed a change in the bar scene.

“My freshmen year there was ever hardly a cover anywhere besides The Library, I’ve never seen a cover at Round Table until the last couple of weeks,” said Rabalais.

But some longtime ‘free’ bars, such as Frank and Marlee’s and The Round Table have either closed their doors or started charging for entry.

Jessie Smith, a fifth-year at Ole Miss, would go to The Round Table frequently and recalls never having to pay a cover, even if there was a band playing.

One weekend, Smith was waiting in line to get into The Round Table and left due to the cover charge.

“It’s very annoying and we’ve started going other places instead,” said Smith.

Roosters Blues House has had a cover since they opened in 2008. Scott Michael, the owner of Roosters Blues House, explained that the bar charges a cover to pay strictly for their rent.

“Rent on the square is astronomical and bottom line is it goes towards making a living,” said Michael.

The bar’s cover varies from night to night, depending on the bar traffic.

With a growing enrollment at the University and an increase in the price of housing referred to as an Oxford housing crisis, the price of going out on The Square has increased to reflect both the higher cost of living and the larger population.

“If there’s a high rent, and [landlords] find someone to pay for it, that’s demand on the building,” Michael said. “We keep paying it, so they can keep making the price go up.”

Enrollment has grown by an astounding 40.5% over the past decade and by 13.1% in the past five years alone, according to The University of Mississippi enrollment records.

“When there’s a huge demand to get into places on the square, in order to supply that need, we benefit by having a cover,” said Michael.

Other bars on The Square, like Funky’s, advertise not having a cover. The owner Lee Harris said that he has never charged a frequent cover since opening on February 23rd, 2009.

“I get a better feel from not charging a cover and having a busy bar all the time, versus charging a cover and turning some people away,” said Harris.

Harris said the only time Funky’s has a cover charge is during football season strictly for crowd control. He says his reasoning for not having a cover frequently comes from him trying to think like a college kid.

“I’d rather them spend the five or ten bucks to buy a drink at the bar,” said Harris.

On the topic of possibly charging a cover in the future, Harris said he doesn’t plan on any changes.

“I want everyone that can, to come and experience the bar,” said Harris.

There is a larger majority of bars in Oxford that don’t charge a frequent cover — The Growler, The Blind Pig, The Summit, Funky’s, The Cellar, Local’s, City Grocery, Boure and The Coop.

Bars in Oxford that charge a cover during the weekends include, The Library, The Round Table, Rafters, The Levee and Roosters. While all varying in price.

Bar-goers can expect to pay covers ranging from $5 to $20 during the week or weekends, while a football weekend can increase the average price.