Archive for May, 2009


Students, public skeptical about possibility for peace in the Middle East

May 19, 2009

Jessica L. Dexheimer

May 18, 2009

This month, U.S. President Barack Obama will make good on his campaign promise to foster peace talks in the Middle East.

According to Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Washington on May 18, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will visit May 26 and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will arrive May 28.

With each of these international leaders, Obama “will discuss ways the United States can strengthen and deepen our partnerships, as well as the steps all parties should take to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians and between Israel and Arab states,” Gibbs said.

However, the majority of Elon University students seem to think that Obama’s efforts will be in vain.

According to an informal convenience poll of 31 Elon students, the majority believed that peace in the Middle East will not be achieved in the 21st century. About 10 percent of respondents believed that peace is possible, and approximately 39 percent of the students believed that peace will be achieved within this century, although it will not be likely any time soon.

“These issues are much more deeper than most people realize, and it’s been going back for centuries,” said junior political science major Katie Hatcher. “These are historical conflicts that can’t be resolved by someone coming in and putting money in to the region, putting military action in to it. I don’t think even the soldiers there understand what is going on.”

Junior Andie Diemer, editor-in-chief of Elon’s student newspaper, echoed Hatcher’s beliefs.

“I honestly don’t think there will ever be peace in the Middle East,” Diemer said. “It comes down to basic, fundamental human differences. We can definitely, definitely make progress, though. We need to open up the lines of communication, which Obama has been doing. I think that’s a good first step but there’s still a lot that needs to be done.”

Cautious optimism

The sentiments of the Elon students are in line with those of the general population, according to The Gallup Poll. The polling organization has found that historically, anywhere between 32 and 51 percent of Americans believe that peace is possible, and the confidence levels change following major historical events.

Tom Conley is the father of two children in the military. He said that for the first time in his life, he now believes that Middle Eastern peace is within reach.

“This conflict has been going on for thousands of years, and it’s not going to end overnight,” he said. “I don’t think one person could make a difference, but I do think that Obama’s administration has the power to make substantial strides. He lends a lot of credibility to the situation, based on his background, and I think that after September 11, the American people are willing to support stability in the region.”

Maggie Owner is a candidate for a Master’s in Political Science at American University. She has extensively studied the Middle East, and has personal ties with the region as her sister and nephew live in the United Arab Emirates. Like Conley, she believes that Obama can make critical progress towards establishing peace within the Middle East.

“I think peace in the Middle East is possible as long as Obama walks the fine line as a mediator and not a participant in peace talks,” she said. “Obama’s greatest challenge is to build connections between the regions instead of fueling their divisive relationship.”

Owner also added that in her personal experiences in the Middle East, she has noticed that the people seem “very open” to foreign intervention, as long as it doesn’t impact the region’s unique culture.

“Everything is possible” 

“If the question is ‘is peace in the Middle East possible?’ I honestly believe that everything is possible,” said Shereen Elgamal, assistant professor of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies at Elon.

Elgamal was born in Egypt, where she lived until 1993. Although she now lives in Cary, she returns to her home country every other summer.

She has traveled extensively within the Middle East, including to Mecca and Israel. As a devout Muslim, Elgamal says she is “proud” to have Christian and Jewish friends, and does not believe that Middle Eastern conflict is a result of religious differences.

“It’s not about Jews and Arabs because Jews and Muslims and Arabs have been living in this region for centuries,” she said. “Faith doesn’t have anything to do with people just hating each other.”

Instead, she attributes conflict to economic disparities and a general poor quality of life.

“We need to stop categorizing people by religion and start looking behind the acts of violence to see what kind of despair drives people to blow themselves up,” she said. “Maybe if we make life more tolerable for these people, they will stop thinking about blowing each other up.”

As for Obama’s upcoming meeting with Egyptian President Mubarak, Elgamal has some advice for the American leader. “Don’t believe everything the media tells you about this so-called religious conflict,” she said. “It’s sensationalized. It’s not reality. Look deeper, look for yourself what is causing it. Look to see how corrupt the leaders of all the countries are and what they are doing to our people.”

She also believes that Middle Eastern leaders need to provide equal representation to all demographics.

“Everybody needs to be represented, and everybody needs to be at the table,” she said. “Everybody needs to work for peace.”



Red Oak brewery in Whitsett, N.C. bottles local flavor, best served cold

May 8, 2009

Jessica L. Dexheimer

May 7, 2009

Generally, students enjoying a beer at one of Elon’s local bars rarely stop to consider what they’re drinking, where it came from or what exactly is in it. For those students who choose Red Oak beer, brew master Chris Buchman has good news.

Red Oak Brewery is located in Whitsett, N.C.

Red Oak Brewery is located in Whitsett, N.C.


“In moderation, our beer is good for you,” he said. “It has healthful minerals in it naturally, and hops actually have some antibacterial properties. One beer a day is better than no beer, and two beers a day is better than one. But past that, you really have to exercise self-control.” 

Buchman is one of the master brewers at Red Oak Brewery, located about 15 minutes from Elon University in Whitsett, N.C. The brewery is known for three beers; it’s signature Red Oak, Hummingbird and Battlefield Bock. 

The Whitsett location was opened in 2007, but Red Oak beer has been a North Carolina favorite for much longer. Red Oak originally started as a restaurant and pub near Guilford College, but soon expanded to include six locations across North Carolina. In 2001, the owners decided to focus solely on their passion – beer – and opened a large-scale brewery in Greensboro. The Whitsett location was built when the company outgrew the Greensboro plant.

The Whitsett location opened in 2007 after the brewery outgrew it's previous Greensboro facility.

The Whitsett location opened in 2007 after the brewery outgrew it's previous Greensboro facility.

What sets Red Oak apart from other breweries is their strict adherence to the 1516 Purity Law. The Law, written in Germany, states that the only ingredients in beer should be barley, hops and water. However, Buchman explains that the beer’s flavor can be altered by using different types of barley and hops, or by cooking the grains for different lengths of time. 

“A lot of beer companies use corn or rice to make beer because that’s cheaper than barley, but it creates a sub-par beer,” explained Buchman. “Then, they have to use additives and flavors to make something worth selling. We don’t use corn. We don’t use rice. We feel strongly that good beer doesn’t need extra flavors.”

Because the Law of Purity doesn’t allow for any pasteurization, all Red Oak beer is packaged immediately after brewing and shipped as soon as possible to local bars and restaurants. Buchman advises treating the beer like a dairy product, keeping it cool and consuming it as soon as possible. For now, Red Oak only has the resources to distribute their beers to the local North Carolina community.

“Our whole philosophy is bringing fresh beer to small territories right around the brewery,” said Buchman. “It’s an old school philosophy, but it works for us.” 

By September, he says, the brewery would like to purchase the technology to bottle their beer in a single-serve can or bottle to be sold in grocery stores. For now, their beers are only available in half-gallon growlers, kegs or on tap at a variety of local restaurants. 

From barley to beer

Every Friday, Buchman leads groups of beer enthusiasts on a tour of the Whitsett brewery. For a fee of $5, guests can see where the grains are stored, how the barley is cooked and see the 400-gallon tubs used to brew the beer. The 30-minute tour concludes with complimentary samples of Red Oak’s three beers.

Buchman describes the namesake Red Oak brew as a “traditional, old style lager” with a crisp taste. The Hummingbird brew is lighter and crisp, with a sweet after taste. The final beer, Battlefield Bock, is smooth and dark and

Chris Buchman attended brewery school in Germany, and is now a master brewer for Red Oak. Every Friday, he leads groups on tours of the Red Oak facilities.

Chris Buchman attended brewery school in Germany, and is now a master brewer for Red Oak. Every Friday, he leads groups on tours of the Red Oak facilities.

reminiscent of black coffee. 


“Treat beer drinking just like wine tasting,” Buchman advises. “You want to start with the lightest beer, then work your way to something heavier.” 

He adds that the namesake lager is the most popular product, and is a hit in the local community.

“Wherever we sell our beer, Red Oak quickly becomes one of the top three most popular brews,” he said. “It’s just a testament to our quality.”




Lupe Fiasco and DJ Girl Talk take center stage at Elon University

May 7, 2009

Jessica L. Dexheimer

May 7, 2009

More than 2,300 sets of eyes were on Lupe Fiasco as he took the stage at Elon University May 1. Wearing sunglasses, sneakers – and at one point, an Elon basketball jersey – the Chicago-based hip-hop artist didn’t disappoint. 

Near the end of his performance, Lupe Fiasco donned an Elon University jersey and was greeted by chants of "E.U! You know!"   (Photo courtesy of Christina Cooper)

Near the end of his performance, Lupe Fiasco donned an Elon University jersey and was greeted by chants of "E.U! You know!" (Photo courtesy of Christina Cooper)

Lupe Fiasco is a four-time Grammy nominated hip-hop artist, and has recorded with industry heavyweights such as Kanye West and Jay-Z. On May 1, he was the headlining artist for the Student Union Board’s annual spring show, making 2009’s event the most widely attended concert in at least  four years. 

“This is only my second time working at a SUB event, but it’s definitely the best,” said sophomore SUB member Carolyn Baumgarten. “We didn’t think that we were going to get Lupe because of scheduling conflicts and just the sheer cost of it, but I’m so glad it worked out because I think everybody was just blown away by this show.”

Lupe Fiasco performed about two hours worth of songs from both his 2006 break-out album “Food & Liquor” and his better-known 2007 album, “The Cool.”

Many of his long-time fans sang along, with Lupe occasionally extending the microphone into the crowd, while newer fans danced to the hip-hop beats.

Lupe Fiasco entertained crowds with songs from his two Grammy-nominated albums.    (Photo courtesy of Christina Cooper)

Lupe Fiasco entertained crowds with songs from his two Grammy-nominated albums. (Photo courtesy of Christina Cooper)

“I had heard of Lupe before, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you what he is famous for,” said senior Lauren Bieler. “But this was a really, really good live performance, and it makes me want to find out more about his music.” 

Lupe Fiasco also played music from some up-and-coming Chicago artists that he is trying to support, telling audience members to find the groups on social networking Web site MySpace.

Cult favorite DJ Girl Talk opened for Lupe Fiasco, and gave a crowd-pleasing performance in his own rite. Pittsburgh-bred Girl Talk is famous for “mash up” style remixes in which he combines samples of hit songs that share a common theme, riff or beat to create new, upbeat singles. Girl Talk was joined on stage by 200 students dancing among the streamers, toilet paper, confetti and beach balls that Girl Talk’s entourage regularly threw at the crowds. 

The concert ended around midnight, and as many students left the building, they were still dancing to memories of Lupe Fiasco’s songs.


Significance of Obama’s first 100 days in office recognized by most Elon students

May 1, 2009

Jessica L. Dexheimer

May 1

Wednesday marked President Barack Obama’s 100th day as the 44th president of the United States.  The 100-day milestone was marked by a press conference and surrounding media frenzy, with someone from every end of the political spectrum weighing in on the President’s strengths and shortcomings.

Most students on Elon University’s campus were aware of the presidential benchmark, though many had differing ideas on the importance of the day.

Junior Cory Bent said he hadn’t paid much attention to the media coverage of Obama’s 100th day.

“I don’t really see the importance of it, it just seems like an arbitrary number,” Bent said. “Like, why does it matter? He’s already been elected, there’s nothing that we can do now.”

Sharon Spray, associate professor of political and environmental science, explained the significance of the day.

“The first 100 days are regarded as significant because it is a good yardstick for the public to see which campaign promises the president has or has not fulfilled, and then to hold him accountable to those for the rest of the term,” she said. “However, there are also other interesting things to take note of, such as how he has fared in public opinion polls, what people he has put in cabinet, how the parties have realigned themselves, and so on.” 

On Obama’s 100th day, Gallup put his public approval rating at 65 percent, which was lower than his Inauguration Day ratings of 83 percent, but still higher than George W. Bush’s 60 percent approval rate after his first 100 days in office. 

Senior Katie Meyer recognized the importance of the event from a historical perspective.

“I can’t believe it has been 100 days already,” she said. “I think that regardless of whether you voted for him or not, it’s just amazing to be part of history and just to witness the 100 day mark for something a lot of people thought would never happen.”

Sophomore Kelly Molin agreed.

“I do think that his first 100 days is significant, and maybe more so significant than ever because he is obviously a lot different than our last presidents,” she said. “So far, there have been things [Obama] has done that I agree and disagree with, so we’ll just have to wait and see how the next 100 days go.”