Arnold to spur the conversation about autism

*This story was featured on HCMediaOnline on April 26, 2016. 

Laura Arnold, a recent graduate of Hastings College and current resident director in Altman Hall, is set to present “The Spectrum and Beyond: Spurring Conversation about Autism” on Thursday, April 28 at 7 p.m. at the Hastings College Wilson Auditorium.

The all-campus lecture is a part of the Gregory L. Plock M.D. Memorial Scholarship that she won during the spring of her junior year. The scholarship was established in honor of Gregory Plock, a former Hastings College Bronco Award winner, and is used to support a student with significant interest in a field closely related to neuroscience.

Arnold plans to shed some light on autism and discredit some misnomers associated with autism.

“The first half of my lecture is going to be about autism in general, what it is, diagnosis criteria and just get a good idea of what it is,” she said. “I’ll talk about some misconceptions such as vaccinations, theories and I’ll go into what applied behavior analysis is and finally, my personal experience with autism and working with ABA.”

Arnold is currently pursuing her master’s degree online at Drexel University, where she is studying Applied Behavior Analysis with a concentration in autism. While she’s already graduated from HC, she fully believes Hastings College played a big role in her academic development thus far.

“If I didn’t go to Hastings College I wouldn’t be doing this. I wouldn’t even know what it was,” she said. “Dr. Heckman asked me to work with his son and by giving me that opportunity, that’s why I’m doing this, pursuing my master’s degree and I’ve finally found what I’m passionate for.”

Along with Hastings College, Arnold specifically credited Dr. Neil Heckman and Dr. Jeri Thompson as playing a vital part in her pursuing her passion.

Overall, she hopes viewers learn more about autism and can discover a passion for treating autism like she did.

“I hope people can get more of an idea of what autism is, a better understanding of what it is and maybe a newfound passion for autism and just really how rewarding it is to work with kids with autism.”


President Jackson won’t offer LGBT statement at 2016 Commencement

*This story was featured on HCMediaOnline on April 13. 

Hastings College President Don Jackson issued a statement of support for the LGBTQI communities and specifically, the Hastings College LGBTQ community, but announced he will not give a statement of support or include a message in the program during the 2016 commencement or graduation ceremonies before Governor Pete Ricketts is scheduled to speak.

“I don’t plan to do it at commencement. I will do it everyday between now and then and after, if people want to hear it as it relates to our college and community,” Jackson said. “I think to do it at commencement would be to politicize it, and what I’m encouraging our community to…keep commencement a celebration for the students that are receiving diplomas.”

Jackson offered this particular statement of support, his second within the past week, after the Hastings College Social Justice League requested that he offer a public statement in support of the LGBTQ community at the commencement ceremony. The group also asked for a commitment for long-term student input regarding commencement speaker selections.

He has not committed to adding a student ambassador role, or other form of official student input plans to be put in place; however, he indicated he plans to receive input from Student Association leaders, as he has in year’s past.

“Generally, we have communication that occurs with the Student Association leadership with commencement speakers and there’s a chance to comment on that, but that did not happen this time and I’m sorry about that,” Jackson said.

His first official statement of support regarding the commencement controversy came in the form of an email to all Hastings College students and faculty on April 8. In the email, he applauded the school’s students, faculty and staff for their leadership roles on LGBTQ issues, as well as the school’s progressive support regarding those issues.

The second statement of support came in the form of an exclusive interview with HC Media.

Ricketts, a somewhat controversial figure within the state of Nebraska, has often been criticized for his harsh language, anti-gay legislation and lack of support for gay marriage in the state of Nebraska.

Members of the Hastings College community voiced their displeasure with the selection of Ricketts as the 2016 Commencement speaker soon after the initial announcement. Students, faculty and alumni members expressed their concerns with the decision to bring Ricketts to campus with Jackson directly, but also in the form of an online petition on

The petition, titled “Let Our Voices Be Heard”, was dispersed via social media and has nearly 400 supporters.

The selection, and specifically the selection process, has been especially criticized over the past week.

“Beyond just his [President Jackson’s] selection, there are a string of problems that were inherently linked with the selection. The students, faculty and a lot of administration were left in the dark about it and the decision was made behind closed doors,”said Brian Whetstone, Hastings College Social Justice League member. “To have someone be selected that’s supposed to represent the student body and the student body not take part in that selection is inherently problematic on its own.”

Jackson acknowledged that, while there are multiple individuals involved in the selection process, he makes the final decision.

“It’s a cadre of people in the president’s office (with input), but ultimately it’s my decision,” he said.

Jackson contends that bringing Governor Ricketts to campus is an honor and his political ideologies should have no impact on his ability to speak at the commencement ceremony.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our campus for the top-elected official in our state to see our beautiful campus, see what we’re doing here and see the passion of our students. I know for a fact that he has no intention in using this as a political forum,” Jackson said. “I hope that others would not do that [use it as a political forum] or minimize it as well.”

While the decision to bring Ricketts to campus at all has been criticized, many believe that this particular setting — commencement — isn’t the forum to have such a divisive speaker. Instead, some have asked that a speaker with this sort of controversy attached to them be asked to speak at a forum like the Artist Lecture Series (ALS), which allows for different viewpoints to be shared and discussed.

Jackson agreed that Ricketts would be an ideal candidate to speak at ALS, but also contends that Ricketts is a more than appropriate selection for commencement speaker.

“If we were inviting Governor Ricketts in an ALS-like forum, I would expect him to share his policy and perspectives and ideological views,” Jackson said. “He’s not here to talk about the stances he’s taken on one issue or another, but he’s here in an official capacity governor of the state.”

Members of the Social Justice League and President Jackson have agreed to meet on Thursday to allow both Jackson and the students to voice their concerns face-to-face. Jackson hopes the meeting can produce “good dialogue”.

Jackson said that students, faculty or community members won’t have the opportunity to discuss their differences with Ricketts due to his tight schedule. Jackson noted that doing so might “take away from the commencement ceremony itself.”

A few students have indicated that some form of public protest at the ceremony should be expected, but that is nothing new according to Jackson.

“As in the past, certain graduates and faculty members have, either in their tassels or other parts of their regalia, been able to communicate effectively their support of the LGBTQ communities, and that’s fine,” he said. “As longs as it’s tasteful, I’m supportive of that.”

Jackson expects no hiccups in the May 14 commencement ceremony and believes “we’re going to have a really great commencement ceremony.”


Students demand statement from President Jackson amid Ricketts controversy

*This story was featured on HCMediaOnline on April 12. 

The Hastings College Social Justice League, comprised of organizations such as Radical Notion, Alliance and the Multicultural Student Union, are demanding a public statement from President Don Jackson at the 2016 Commencement ceremony after Governor Pete Ricketts was selected as this year’s speaker.

“We want him [President Don Jackson] to make a public statement during graduation that says the LGBTQ community on our campus matters, and we want to hear their voices and make this campus better for them,” said Grace Rempp, Radical Notion president. “We want him to say this is still important.”

Ricketts was announced as the 2016 Hastings College Commencement speaker on Wednesday, April 6, and his upcoming appearance quickly became a divisive subject across campus. After the announcement, the Social Justice League created an online petition, via, and has since gathered almost 400 signatures and messages of support from students, faculty and alumni across the country.

Members of the Social Justice League hope this petition will carry weight when presented to President Jackson later in the week.

“In our meeting, we’re going to use the petition as credence to what we’re saying. We’re going to voice our displeasure and the displeasure of those who have signed the petition,” said Brian Whetstone, Social Justice League member.

Along with voicing their displeasure with the selection, Whetstone and company hope to discuss the possibility of a future student ambassador who would give input about commencement speakers, so as to keep an issue like this from occurring in the future.

Governor Ricketts has been criticized for his harsh language, anti-gay legislation and lack of support for gay marriage in the state of Nebraska.

Despite the fact that Ricketts is currently holding office, which many acknowledge is perhaps the highest honor in the state, some students and faculty members believe that his mere presence at commencement sends the wrong message.

“What message does this send to our students and faculty — some of whom are gay and transgendered — that we are honoring this person who is not in favor of treating them with the basic human rights everyone else enjoys?” said Dr. Michella Marino, assistant professor of history. “This is a human rights issue, and I am seriously concerned about the message this sends to the campus community.”

While Hastings College is known for their support of LGBTQ rights, some believe the decision to have Ricketts speak could damage years of progress.

“Marginalized groups of any type deserve to be heard in any setting. The campus of HC is headed in the correct direction towards diversity and acceptance,” said Donato Santos, junior sociology major. “Allowing this speaker would only hinder progress.”

This issue hits closer to home for some, more than others. Becca Preisendorf, who is an openly lesbian Social Justice League member, has considered skipping commencement altogether because she feels so strongly against Governor Ricketts speaking at Hastings College.

“I thought about it, but he’s already impacted my life in such a negative way,” Preisendorf said. “I don’t want to let him do that too and keep me from going to my own commencement ceremony. I’m going to see that as a day for me, and I’m not going to keep him from letting me celebrate that.”

In fact, regardless of whether Ricketts discusses policy, some feel it is difficult to separate the two.

“The governor has openly and repeatedly explained his position on gay marriage and is taking no action to encourage the legislature in Nebraska to repeal state discrimination laws against the LGBTQ community,” Marino said. “So even if he doesn’t speak about these issues her at HC, his being invited is an affront to our values as an institution and support of the LGBTQ students and faculty on campus.”

Despite the outcry against the selection, not all students and faculty feel that it is a bad thing for a sitting governor to attend HC’s campus and speak at commencement.

“I think that Governor Ricketts should speak at this year’s commencement because it is truly an honor to have such a high ranking state government official to agree to come speak on behalf of the student body and congratulate our seniors,” said Jennifer Schmidt, president of the HC Republicans and Campus Conservatives.

Although they’re disappointed with the decision, Whetstone, Preisendorf and others acknowledge that they intend to protest in a peaceful, respectful manner.

“There will be a lot of people dressed in rainbows and I think we’ll send a respectful and quiet message,” Rempp said.

Though the Hastings College administration has shown no signs of rescinding Governor Ricketts’s invitation, President Jackson has agreed to speak with HC Media later today about his stance on the issue.

Gender in the 21st Century: HC makes proactive look toward gender-friendly housing

*This story was posted to on March 10. 

Housing is, perhaps, one of the most important aspects of one’s college experience. Whether on-campus, campus apartments or off-campus, housing is where students should feel most comfortable and free to be themselves. And with an increasing awareness of gender identity, it’s important to learn more about how gender relates to living situations and the Hastings College housing process.

Hastings College, an openly Presbyterian, liberal arts school, is working harder than ever to address the challenges that students now face and to make all students feel welcome and comfortable.

That process — of making sure students feel welcome and comfortable — may even start before students make it to campus.

“I think it starts even in the administration process. Our counselors do an excellent job of forming relationships with the students they’re recruiting and because of that relationship, people feel comfortable disclosing needs they have,” Dan Peters, associate vice president for Student Life, said. “With our professional working relationship with admissions, they can convey that upon us, and we can work with them on that.”

After identifying the needs of students, the Hastings College administration is able to inform the students on the services and programs the college has to offer. The line of communication between the student and administration can prove to be vital in ensuring safety for everyone.

“Safety is one of the main terms when you think about housing,” said Chandra Essex, Hastings College director of student support. “You may not feel comfortable, based on your born gender, with sharing a facility with someone who is a different gender than what you identify. So that’s one of the things we’re trying to think about too, the ways they are safely housed in a facility and where they have the ability to be educated, to not be discriminated against and not feel any potential that something will harm them.”

Hastings College has tried to be proactive to accommodate all students’ needs. In the fall of 2015, HC introduced all gender bathrooms to campus. Even though the switch to all gender restrooms was made by simply changing a sign, it was a sign of progress for the campus as a way to better accommodate all students.

Dr. Laura Logan, as well as students, made a push for the all gender bathrooms to better accommodate the student body. The HC community can expect further improvements toward better inclusiveness, starting with options in the Jackson Dinsdale Art Center and future dorms.

“I think as we have more buildings go up, we will have more options,” Essex said. “The new art center will have an all gender restroom in it, also the residence halls will have single rooms, with their own restrooms, for students transitioning or going through a transition, so we have those options available.”

Despite HC’s proactive steps to be more inclusive, there are still obstacles, the biggest coming in the form of administrative software from a company called PowerCampus.

“The software is designed to assign one name and a single gender. Often times one of the first steps for those working through gender identity issues is a name change,” Peters said. “How can we honor and respect those with a preferred name, in a way with how they show up on an email, the preferred name that shows up on MyHC and that shows up on class rosters?”

There is no timetable for a change or improvement in software, but administration is pleased with the steps taken thus far.

“We know this is an issue that is certainly in the spotlight nationally, and we aren’t the only school with these frustrations that our vendor would not be more proactive with these changes,” Peters said. “It’s an ongoing process. It’s small steps and this year in particular, we’ve made some good strides, even though they were small at the time.”

Musiel’s big second half lifts Hastings over Midland

With 5:17 remaining in the second half, Hastings was staring down the barrel of eight-point Midland lead with their season hanging in the balance. That’s when Connor Musiel took over. Musiel scored nine points, on two three-pointers and an old-fashioned three-point play, in the last 3:09 to spark the Broncos to an 83-81 come from behind victory.

“Musiel is not scared of the moment. He wants to take big shots and his preparation is good,” Hastings College Head Coach Bill Gavers said. “He was huge. He shot the ball with extreme confidence, he put the ball on the floor with confidence, and he just really made big plays for us late in the game and throughout the game.”

Entering Wednesday’s game, Midland (14-12) (11-7) owned a 2-9 record on the road, while Hastings College (16-11) (9-9) sported an 8-3 record at home in Lynn Farrell Arena.

Hastings came out clicking offensively, thanks to back-to-back baskets from senior David Plain to give the Broncos an early five-point lead. Plain shouldered much of the offensively load early, with 13 first half points.

Musiel, who finished with 19 points, sunk a three-pointer and on the following possession, Plain again finished at the rim to put the Broncos up eight at the 15:27 mark. Following a Bronco timeout, the Warriors got back-to-back baskets to cut the lead to four.

After trading misses, senior Kendall Ferguson knocked down a three-pointer, before picking up his 3rd foul at the 9:00 mark in the first half. Senior Zach Clemens finished a dunk, followed by a Plain jumper that put the Broncos up 25-18.

Drew Callaghan knocked down an elbow jumper to put the Broncos up eight, but the following possession, junior Rich Williams picked up his third foul at the 4:48 mark.

Freshman James Kaiser, who finished with seven first half points, knocked down a three-pointer to cut the deficit to two with 3:23 left in the half. Junior Nolan Cass, who led the Warriors with nine first half points on three of five shooting from three-point range, knocked down a deep three-pointer to cut the lead to one.

Hastings led 33-32 at halftime.

It was Clemens who provided a spark for the Broncos after halftime, scoring five quick points. Both teams traded baskets, before Plain knocked down a three-pointer and finished a layup off a Musiel steal that put Hastings up 43-41 with 16:41 remaining.

Ky Kramer, who was tied for a team-high 16 points, knocked down a corner three with 14:46 remaining to tie the game at 48. Jake Hansen and Rich Williams knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to put extend the lead to four with 12:20 remaining.

Midland’s Alex Starkel, who scored 15 second half points after a one-point first half, connected on a hook shot that cut the Hastings lead to two. He then got back-to-back buckets to put the Warriors up two with 9:04 remaining.

Two possessions later, Starkel knocked down a turnaround jumper and the free throw to put the Warriors up four. Midland got five more points on the following two possessions to go up by eight with just over five minutes to play.

After Musiel’s barrage of points, Plain made a free throw to put the Broncos up three with 38.2 seconds remaining. Midland’s Trevor Bryant made two free throws to cut the Bronco lead to one with 26.5 remaining.

Senior Carson Blum went 3 for 4 from the free throw line in the last thirty seconds to put the Broncos up two with 9.2 seconds left. Plain checked Nolan Cass at the three-point line to force a tightly contested last shot attempt. The shot bounced off the rim and Hastings hung on to win 83-81.

This was a game that Gavers believes is a big step for his team.

“We’ve had a lot of games like that, where there have been nights where we didn’t respond. We responded tonight,” he said. “I thought tonight was a huge step for us tonight.”

The Broncos will look to carry out their momentum from tonight’s win against Dakota Wesleyan on Saturday and into the GPAC conference tournament the following week.

“We hope that momentum will carry over into the conference tournament,” Gavers said. “It’s certainly better than going into it on a slide.”

The Life of Pablo Review: Soulful and complex, but leaves you wanting more

In the second chapter of Charles Dickens’ second novel, Oliver Twist, a desperate, homeless boy, named Oliver Twist, is on the brink of starvation. He and the other boys of the parish workhouse suffer steady starvation over a three-month period, which in turn, drives them to near madness.

After receiving and devouring their first morsel of food in months, Oliver, to the disbelief of his peers, asks the master for more. The master subsequently scoffs at the boy’s notion, before publicly shaming him and ordering his hanging.

Kanye West and his highly anticipated new album, The Life of Pablo, make me feel like Oliver Twist. I want more.

The Life of Pablo, which was originally scheduled to drop on Thursday, was finally released following West’s Saturday Nigh Live performance, in which he performed “Ultra Light Beams”. The album previously went through names like So Help Me God, SWISH and Waves, but West ultimately settled on TLOP.

This album packs a punch and has enough star power that will entice the most shallow of Yeezy fans. Kanye assembled a well-rounded and effective collection of feature artists, including: Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Rihanna, Chance the Rapper, Andre 3000, Young Thug, Ty Dolla $ign and more.

My initial takeaways:

Kanye came out swinging with his opening track “Ultralight Beam”. The gospel-themed, religious-narrative loaded anthem showcases West’s vocals, which pair perfectly with the gospel choir portion of the track. Fellow Chicagoan, Chance the Rapper, makes an appearance and is nice change of pace. His unique style compliments both Kanye and the choir nicely. I just really wish Kanye rapped at some point throughout the song. It had the potential to be epic.

“Waves” features R&B sensation Chris Brown and it feels like Brown dominates the song. This song is one of the lighter portions of the album, but has some nice melodic qualities and could be fit for radio.

The more I listen to “FML”, the more I enjoy it. It’s a much darker side of Kanye and its very fitting that this is the song that features the dark, drug-induced, turned pop star artist that is The Weeknd. The song “reveals the layers of my soul” and addresses Kanye’s struggles with personal demons and the constant judgement from the world around him.

“Wolves” is far and away the most complex song on TLOP. This track examines a plethora of emotions, including depression, anxiety, sadness, loneliness and Kanye’s personal insecurities. He makes yet another religious references, this time mentioning Jesus’s mother, Mary, and asks “’fore she met Joseph with no love?” Frank Ocean makes an appearance and adds to the ominous and soul-splitting vibes to this record. This song needs attention and a genuine listen, but this is perhaps the hidden gem of the whole album.

My favorite track on TLOP is “30 Hours”. This track features a steady stream of Kanye rapping and has a very old-Kanye feel to it. The beat is mellow, but allows Kanye to be the star of the show (wait, who am I kidding? He’s always the star of the show.) Andre 3000’s presence alone should be enough to let viewers know this song is the real deal. My favorite bar from this song involves a Matt Barnes-Derek Fisher reference, which is enough for me. This track is incredible and can be listened to on replay.

The most party-ready, loud-thumping song of this album is “No More Parties in LA”. The song’s intro is from Johnny Guitar Watson’s “Give Me My Love” and Larry Graham’s “Stand Up and Shout About Love” and is the perfect backdrop for this old school, Kanye atomic bomb. Kanye rips this song apart, but despite Ye’s greatness, Compton’s wonderkid, Kendrick Lamar, steals the show (which he often does). Kendrick is unbelievable and this song is a definite fan favorite.

Ultimately, this album is good. But it’s just that, good. I fully believe that Kanye has the ability to produce spine-tingling, soul-shattering, and heart-stopping music, album in and album out. He’s wildly controversial and is often hated for his self-obsession, but that’s in part what makes him great.

Kanye can and has done things that will never be replicated. His ability to change styles, integrate different elements and push the boundaries makes him a musical god.

Like he says in “No More Parties in LA”, “I feel like Pablo when I’m workin’ on my shoes. I feel like Pablo when I see me on the news. I feel like Pablo when I’m workin’ on my house.”

He’s Pablo Picasso, Pablo Escobar and Pablo from down the street all rolled into one. He is Kanye West.

Overall: A-

Top 3 tracks:

1) “30 Hours”

2) “No More Parties in LA”

3) “Wolves”

Broncos lose NAIA Women’s Game-of-the-Week to Briar Cliff

Coming into Saturday’s NAIA Game of the Week, both No. 10 Briar Cliff and No.11 Hastings were in a five-way tie along with Mount Marty, Concordia and Dakota Wesleyan for second-place in the GPAC standings. Briar Cliff seized their opportunity to take a step closer to conference-leader Morningside, defeating Hastings 82-70.

Hastings College Women’s Basketball Head Coach Jina Johansen stressed the significance of this game to her team throughout the week.

“We stressed it. They knew the situation that we’re in and we basically told them now that we have to win the last two to have a chance to make it to the national tournament, unless we win the conference tournament,” Johansen said. “So it was disappointing in that regard, because we knew what was on the line and we just didn’t perform well.”

Briar Cliff jumped out to an early 4-0 lead thanks to baskets from junior Kaylee Blake and senior Jessi Corrick, who finished with a game-high 24 points on 7 of 14 shooting from the field. Hastings senior Teeka Thompson, who finished with four points and eight assists in the first half, got the Broncos on the board to start the game and later in the quarter, nabbed a steal and converted a layup to cut the Charger lead to five.

Hastings senior Chelsea Morton and sophomore Holly Hild connected on back-to-back three pointers to put the Broncos up 11-10 midway through the quarter. The Chargers made a couple of free throws and Briar Cliff lead 14-13 after the first quarter.

Briar Cliff changed their style of play drastically this game, which caused plenty of confusion and disarray on the defensive end for the Broncos.

“They came out and did two major, different things offensively that we have not seen on film and I thought it really took us out of our defensive rhythm,” Johansen said. “Them coming out and running something different threw us off our game.”

Those two changes came in the form of offensive styles. Briar Cliff, who traditionally runs the triangle offense, instead decided to spread out the Broncos defense, which put the Broncos in a lot of one-on-one situations defensively.

Turnovers plagued both teams in the second quarter and the play suffered because of it. After Morton connected on a three-pointer to put the Broncos up by two, both teams committed two straight turnovers, then two possessions later, traded turnovers again. Hastings junior Alex Edwards came off the bench and added a much-needed spark, scoring six points on two three-pointers.

Briar Cliff’s Morgan Hansen connected on a jumper to put Briar Cliff up five late in the second quarter. The next possession, Lexi Henschke got a basket at the buzzer to put Briar Cliff up 36-29 at halftime.

The third quarter was the turning point in the ball game and was where Briar Cliff started to seize the momentum.

“The initial storm we let it past and then we got back into it. Then they went on a run (in the third quarter) and we never recovered with it,” Johansen said. “Some of it we turned it over, some they got some in transition, and they got a few offensive rebounds. Stuff we’re normally good with we weren’t good with it today.”

Briar Cliff stretched their lead to 11 just three minutes into the third quarter, forcing a Hastings timeout. After the timeout, sophomore Holly Hild, who led the Broncos with 18 points, connected on a three-pointer. Later in the quarter, Briar Cliff freshman Taylor Vasa, who finished with 13 points, finished a layup and the free throw to put the Chargers up 14 midway through the third.

Corrick finished a layup and the free throw to put the Chargers up 15 with just over a minute to go in the quarter. Briar Cliff took a 15-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Hastings senior Abby Jackson gave the Broncos a bit of hope after a sequence where she made a jumper from the free-throw line and the very next possession, knocked down a three to cut the lead to 10.

Corrick answered with a basket and a three-point play at the 3:55 mark to put Briar Cliff back up 11. Both teams traded free throws, before Corrick hit three free throws down the stretch to ice the game for the Chargers.

The loss puts Hastings in an ultimatum-type situation: Win the remaining two regular-season games to have a shot at an out-right birth in the national championship field, win the GPAC conference tournament to get a birth to the national championship field or end their season.

“The last two we pretty much have to win,” Johansen said. “We can only control the next two games and whether we play well or not.”