The background of crime in Burlington and North Carolina

Multimedia reporting by Erin Valentine

Part of a team reporting project on crime and community in Burlington, NC

In Burlington, NC, the connection between preventing crime and interacting with the community is essential.

“It takes a lot of work between everybody involved,” Lt. Currie of the Community Relations division said. “We need citizens and everybody to help us do our job, and they expect a certain thing from us for service, and so we all just have to work together and form a common ground.”

According to the RAIDS Online database, some of the most committed crimes over the past year in Burlington were assault, theft, vandalism, DUI, residential burglary, aggravated assault and motor vehicle burglary.

Crimes reported over the past year in Burlington, NC, Graphic courtesy of RAIDS Online

According to North Carolina’s Department of Justice compilation of crime statistics report from 2013, which is the most recent report available to the public, Alamance County’s crime rate is in the top 25 of all 100 counties in North Carolina.

The most common crimes in North Carolina are larceny, burglary and aggravated assault. The report also showed the total number of arrests in 2013 to be 87,048, with over 9,800 of those arrests being juveniles.

Crime in North Carolina has been on the decline in the past decade. Between 2004 and 2013, all crimes have dropped by 12.6%, with the largest decrease being in motor vehicle theft, rape, arson and robbery.

Table from the NC Dept. of Justice on the crimes in Alamance County over the past decade.

Table from the NC Dept. of Justice on the crimes in Alamance County over the past decade.

Citizens have the opportunities to look at this information in specific areas through RAIDS Online. RAIDS Online is a public crime map compiled for BAIR, which allows users to see the frequency of certain crimes in specific areas, such as Burlington, NC. Users can choose their allotted timespan and see a breakdown and analysis of the data, using multiple graphs and charts.

According to the RAIDS Online database, some of the most committed crimes over the past year in Burlington, NC, were assault, theft, vandalism, DUI, residential burglary, aggravated assault and motor vehicle burglary.

The data analysis showed that the days of the week with highest numbers of crimes were Wednesday and Thursday. It also showed that Sunday around midnight is a popular time for crime.

The Burlington police department tries to combat these statistics by using intelligence-led policing, Crime Stoppers and Civilian Ride Along program.

Alex English, a crime analyst with the Burlington Police Department, works with RAIDS Online to promote intelligence-led policing.

According to English, the FBI website curates data for all areas that report their crime data. English compiles the data from officers’ reports that are sent to RAIDS Online, and then sends those numbers to the FBI.

“Those numbers go up to the state, each state sends those numbers to the FBI, and that’s sort of how they get the crime index for the nation as a whole,” English said.

For Burlington, their most common crimes over the years have been larcenies.

“If you look at our data, our number one crime is always larcenies,” English said.


According to English, thefts from grocery stores are usually the homeless stealing food, while thefts from larger stores (i.e. Walmart) with higher priced items (i.e. electronics) are usually stolen so that they can be resold to get money for drugs. The city of Burlington especially has these issues due to the fact that it is home to two of the three Walmarts in Alamance County, which could be a reason for why larcenies are the number one crime.

Information on crimes is collected by police officers. According to English, each officer has a computer in their car. They take down the report in their vehicle, which includes the location. A supervisor approves the reports before they are put on the RAIDS Online map.

English will occasionally go through and make sure that the program is coded correctly. The biggest coding issues they have are the locations based on wherever the call comes in from, as sometimes the location of the crimes will default to the police station if the call is answered there.

Another aspect of English’s position as a crime analyst is to analyze crime trends and see if they’re going up or down, which assists in intelligence-led policing.

“Instead of just randomly driving around for stuff, we look for patterns,” English said. “We’ll sort of see if we can predict the next pattern or what’s going to be a likely target, and set up a patrol around that area.”

When there are lulls in the call volume, English said that they try to be proactive.

According to English, he’ll look at the past week’s reported crimes and compare the numbers to those of the previous five years of data.

“We’ll look at that number, and then we’ll look at the past five years of data and sort of see what’s our average for the five years, and then do one standard deviation above and below,” English said. “So that’s 95 percent of your crime that should generally be in that area to say that’s a normal range, nothing big or low.”

If the recent crime data is above the normal range, English said he knows there should be a red flag and they need to look at what may be going on. If the recent data is lower than normal, then they may look at what they did to keep the number of crimes down.

According to Currie, there is no daily routine for officers. They come in, do role call, receive information on what is going on in the city, what may have happened overnight and what to keep an eye out for. However, this routine is easily disrupted.

“And then, all of a sudden, things can change, and everything will just go haywire all of a sudden,” Currie said. “The power can go out in the city or a stoplight is not working and then we need to go to direct traffic.”

The Burlington Police Department consists of 66 patrol officers who are under the command of Assistant Chief J.E. Kerns. Patrol officers are usually the first responders to calls. According to the police department’s website, in 2012, officers responded to over 64,000 calls.

Each officer is required to complete a minimum of 648 hours of Basic Law Enforcement training to begin, and must continue their education throughout their career. There are eight patrol teams, with 13 to 14 patrol officers on each team. Four shifts rotate throughout the day, with one K-9 unit on each shift.

The K-9 unit is particularly useful in tracking suspects, apprehending suspects, searching buildings and also detecting drugs.

The police department hosts programs to help encourage citizens to get involved. Crime Stoppers is an anonymous way for citizens to call in and report illegal activity. Citizens may receive monetary award depending on the information they provide.

Another program is Civilian Ride Alongs, which gives citizens a chance to apply to accompany an officer on their shift. This way they can get firsthand experience on what the police patrol does.

According to Currie, the Burlington Police Department’s main concern is to connect with the community and have every citizen assist in keeping the city safe.

If you want to see the reporting process for common crimes in Burlington, go to our blog.


Website Header

Here is a header I made for a group project website on crime and community in Burlington, NC. It’s simple but it was a fun challenge to figure out how to make the handcuffs from scratch on Illustrator.


Those Girls: A look at the impact of I Am That Girl

Multimedia Reporting by Erin Valentine

Every Wednesday at 8 p.m. in William Henry Belk Pavilion room 208, a group of girls gather in a circle. The conversation makes its way around, with each girl talking about a success, failure, or observation of the week. When there is an emotional moment, the girls pat over their heart to show support for their fellow member. There is laughter, and tears, and an underlying connection from something that has become more than just a club. They have each become THAT girl.

I Am That Girl is a movement that works to provide a community for girls to be who they are, express themselves, and have a support system to encourage and inspire them.


I Am That Girl members give heart claps to show support for each other

A vested interest

Alli Lindenberg affectionately explains her foray into I Am That Girl as “lovingly creepy, but still creepy.” Her interest originated four years ago when scrolling through Tumblr. As Lindenberg kept happening upon the I Am That Girl movement, she increasingly became invested in its mission. Starting as a cyber fan she participated in I Am That Girl from afar.

Her senior year of high school, Lindenberg decided she could no longer just be an admirer.

“I emailed them at just the general email saying, ‘Hi, my name’s Alli and I know you guys don’t have high school chapters, but I really want to start one and would this be a possibility?’ And within a day, they were like, ‘Absolutely!’ And I was on my way.”

Lindenberg started the first ever high school chapter for I Am That Girl in early 2013. Her Greensboro high school’s chapter was the 19th chapter of the movement to launch.

Two years later, I Am That Girl has 136 chapters, over 1600 chapter members, and it is continuing to rapidly grow.

Lindenberg, who is now a sophomore Human Services major at Elon University, is currently an intern for the movement.

“I think why I fell in love with it was because it spoke so true to my core,” Lindenberg said. “Just reading the pledge, everything the organization was saying about turning self-doubt into self-love, about helping other people succeed, about collaboration over competition, and trying to be your best but accepting where you are, it just hit me so hard, I just couldn’t ignore it after I read it. I was hooked.”

According to I Am That Girl’s 2013 annual report, chapters have been started in eight countries. I Am That Girl has been associated with celebrities, such as actress Sophia Bush, and partnered with companies, such as Dell, to spread their message. Revenue for the movement was at around $245,000 in 2013, and their website also draws quite a bit of traffic, with over 98,000 site visits in 2013.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 5.29.30 PM

Most of their impressions on social media are female, with the majority in the age range of 18-34 years old. Those who wish to join the cause can take the I Am That Girl pledge. For males who wish to align themselves with the movement’s mission, there is also an I Am That Guy pledge, which promotes positive support for the girls in a guy’s life.

I Am That Girl states on its website that it isn’t just a girl’s movement, but also a human movement.

Camellia Khalvati, the Local Program Manager for I Am That Girl, has high hopes for continuing to build the I Am That Girl community and to make the next step to shifting girl culture.

“The safe space we create in our community is a place where girls can be truly themselves, together,” Khalvati said. “It’s magical what amazing growth and positive change can happen when girls join hands and stop competing. “

Forming a community

The Elon University chapter of I Am That Girl has grown massively since its inception. From starting with 15 members to now having over 200 participants in the chapter’s Facebook group, the group is gaining traction.

According to Lindenberg, about 30 to 40 girls regularly come to the weekly Wednesday meetings.

“The meetings are really the crux of I Am That Girl,” Lindenberg said. “It’s bringing people together to be honest and talk about things that matter and to encourage people to be themselves and have this supportive community where you have permission to express yourself and grow into the person you want to be.”

A member of the group, who starts off the conversation with specific questions, usually facilitates the meetings.

Every meeting is started with the opening exercise called, “I’m a badass because…” Each member states what that week made her feel good about herself. For example, one member stated that they were a “badass” because they brought their skateboard to campus and hadn’t knocked anyone over yet. Another member said that they had run every day that week.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 5.08.01 PMThen, the meeting topic is introduced, which becomes the focus of the discussion. One week the issue was discussing loneliness versus being alone. The girls tell anecdotes, offer advice, and develop thoughts together on the topic.

The closing activity of the meetings is, “You are that girl because,” which is when the members give shout outs to each other on why they are exemplary.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 5.08.56 PMThe chapter at Elon has been working to spread its message and help people understand its goals.

Love Me For My Mind, a social media campaign run by the chapter in the fall, ended up having 15 other I Am That Girl chapters from around the world participate.

The group also has brunches and get-togethers outside of the weekly meetings to “celebrate each other,” according to Lindenberg.

Elon’s chapter has participated in activities with the Sigma Kappa sorority and Girls to Empower Teens to host an event called “Commit to Fit.” The chapter has also done service with the Burlington Housing Authority through a program called Dream Girls, which is aimed at providing a safe environment for positive socialization with girls in middle school and high school.

Lindenberg said that I Am That Girl is interested in establishing relationships with Elon organizations such as SPARKS (Students Promoting Awareness, Responsibility, Knowledge, and Success) and EFFECT (Elon Feminists for Equality, Change, and Transformation) in the future.

Making an impact

It is the members of I Am That Girl that give the movement life at Elon University. Now that the club has started to gain some recognition, the impact of I Am That Girl is starting to sink in.

Some members said that I Am That Girl has expanded their understanding of others and has opened a venue for authentic conversations.

“There’s something about the IATG community,” Lindenberg said. “It’s so authentic and it’s so real and honest… Once I realized that communities could be like that, that they be completely supportive and encouraging and just accepting, it was a feeling like nothing else I’ve experienced.”

Katharine Milbradt, an Elon first year, found the group appealing for the safe space it offered.

“It’s so relieving to be able to come into a space where people are so accepting and so willing to talk about things that we don’t always talk about,” Milbradt said.

Members have been drawn to the club either through friends, Elon’s organization fair, or social media.

Rachel Kading, a first year at Elon University, found out about I Am That Girl at the organization fair.

“I just saw these girls and I walked up to their booth and they said their main message is changing self-doubt into self-love… which in college is a chance to start over,” Kading said.

Kading saw I Am That Girl as a support system to help her improve herself in college.

“I’ve always struggled with self-esteem, so I thought this could be my chance to have a clean slate, and to start with a brand new me, and a stronger, better me,” Kading said.

Helen Thompson, an Elon first year, found I Am That Girl to be the community she needed in her first semester at college.

“I actually felt that there was a community here of people that were going to support me,” Thompson said.

Elon first year Marissa Baum found I Am That Girl appealing partly because of its welcoming nature.

“It doesn’t matter who you are,” Baum said. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, or anything. You can just come as much or as little as you need to. We’re going to love you no matter what. We’re always going to accept you. We’re always going to welcome you.”

Some members have been inspired by the lessons they have learned at I Am That Girl and have plans to share them with others in the future. Elon first year Sophie Faxon has plans to take her experiences at I Am That Girl to the camp where she works.

“I just desperately want to take these values and give them to my campers this summer as devotionals,” Faxon said. “For a young girl to hear these things, and to realize that it’s true and it’s real, that it’s important, at such a young age, like 12, 13 or 14, it’s just so so needed, especially in today’s world.”

For others, the group inspires support and strength to keep them on track to improving themselves. Elon first year Emily DeMaioNewton found I Am That Girl essential is helping her focus on being a healthy, happy person.

“It definitely strengthened me as a person in a way, where I can be soft but I can be strong at the same time,” DeMaioNewton said. “Sometimes that’s hard for those things to co-exist at once, especially because of the way society defines strength, and a lot of times puts vulnerability down and says things like that make you a weak person when really that makes you a strong person.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 5.12.39 PM

Lindenberg said that the organization has helped her understand others and herself better and to find inspiration in others and herself.

“It’s all this feeling of I want you to be your best self, and I want me to be my best self, how can we do this together?” Lindenberg said.

Some members said for the future that they wanted men to come to some of the meetings to get their viewpoint on some of the topics talked about. Others mentioned that they wished that the message and culture of I Am That Girl could be everywhere.

Lindenberg’s main goal is to continue to create a culture of kindness.

“I’m surrounded by such amazing women that could all lead this chapter to do incredible, incredible things, and we’re doing it all together,” Lindenberg said. “But I just feel so grateful to be a part of it in the capacity that I have been and will continue to be. The prominent feeling I have when I think of I Am That Girl is gratitude.”

Making the move: Exploring the transfer student experience at Elon University

Published in the print edition of Elon University’s student-run newspaper, The Pendulum, on March 18, 2015.

Multimedia Reporting by Erin Valentine and Preston Willett

Title Map

Infographic by Erin Valentine

Students transfer for multiple reasons. For students looking to transfer to Elon University, there’s an essay component that asks why a student is motivated to become an Elon Phoenix.

“Some transfer students who intentionally have gone to a local community college, and know from day one, ‘I want to transfer out,’ or ‘I want to go to Elon,’” said Kevin Napp, associate director of admissions and director of transfers and special admissions. “You have other students that have gone to a state school, to other private schools, and for a variety of reasons have decided they want to transfer. It could be a family situation. It might be a financial situation. It might be they are looking for a change of climate or just scenery.”

The transfer population at Elon is typically a smaller population. In the fall, often 90 to 100 students are enrolled as transfers, which is small compared to a freshmen class size of about 1450.

To apply to Elon, a prospective transfer student must have a minimum grade point average of 2.7, have completed at least one full-time semester of coursework, have official transcripts from attended institutions, an evaluation form from their past institution’s dean of student life, and a completed transfer application.

“For our transfer student population, it’s on a rolling process, meaning that when they complete their application they can get a decision quickly and kind of go from there,” Napp said.

While high school work is still important, a student’s academic record at their previous college or university is one of the most essential parts of their application to Elon. According to Napp, this allows for the university to know if they can achieve and function at the collegiate level.

Infographic by Erin Valentine

Infographic by Erin Valentine

The transfer process can have a few hiccups.

According to an academic report released by Elon University on the fall 2014 transfer students, GPAs tend to decrease after a transfer’s first semester at Elon.

The report said, “Students attending a Community College prior to arrival at Elon University earned a 2.75 GPA during the fall semester compared to the 3.14 GPA earned by students transferring from a Four-Year institution.”

Another issue that some transfers come across when applying to come to Elon is the lack of availability of merit-based scholarship.

According to US News, most schools grant merit-based scholarships to students, yet Elon does not. There are need-based awards available; however, merit-based scholarships are not offered due to not having the necessary funding available.

“The limited funding that Elon currently has is tending to be directed towards our first year students who are going to be here hopefully for four years, compared to a transfer student, who could be here anywhere from one to three,” Napp said. “Obviously, for someone who is going to be here less time, their total out-of-pocket expense is going to be less. They still can earn need-based awards, outside scholarships.”

Another problem that admitted transfers come across is not having guaranteed on-campus housing. On-campus housing for transfer students is limited, and assignments are based on the date deposits are received. Once on-campus housing is full, students can continue to apply as commuter students and live off-campus.

“Because all first years and sophomores are required to live on-campus, that’s kind of the priority right now,” Napp said. “And so, when space is available, we’ll do our absolute best to house as may as possible. And some don’t want on-campus housing. Some are intentionally looking to live off-campus.”

Elon was able to house 60 percent of students in the fall of 2014. In the spring of the same year, all of the transfer students who requested to be on-campus were housed.

To address these concerns, the transfer atmosphere at Elon is continuously trying to change and improve.

One addition is the newly formed Transfer Student Organization (TSO) on-campus that offers a variety of sessions and social activities for transfer students. “They do a wonderful job of helping transfer students acclimate to campus, giving them just familiar faces and resources,” Napp said.

There is also a mentor program that has been recently introduced. A new transfer student is paired with a current Elon student to try to make the new student’s transition smoother.

For Napp, this is a helpful addition to his work. “I can answer questions, but I think there’s a little bit more weight sometimes when it comes from a current Elon student,” Napp said.

In an attempt to have merit-based scholarships, Napp said that Elon has recently set up its very first merit-based scholarship for students transferring from Alamance Community College. The ACC scholarship offers an award of $22,500 from an anonymous donor

Napp said that he has plans to keep trying to improve the transfer experience at Elon. According to Napp, his long-term goals include increasing the merit-based aid if possible, increase the number of transfer students at Elon, raise opportunities for on-campus housing, and to further develop the mentor program.

thomasThomas Goode

Thomas Goode realized that he wanted an education that gave him choices in his classes. Unfortunately at the University of Colorado — Denver, he wasn’t able to find that. Now a double major in entrepreneurship and music, Goode seems to have found his place.

Once he made the move to Colorado, Goode quickly found that Denver was not too similar to his hometown of Mooresville, NC.

“Part of the reason I didn’t really like it was the people weren’t southernly, like friendly, so that was kind of a culture shock to me,” Goode said.

Goode missed orientation the first week due to an illness, so it felt harder to him to make relationships with people outside of his dorm area.

Another problem that he ran into at Denver was that his class selection was limited. Goode decided he wanted to take a variety of classes, but was told by his advisor that he would only be able to take business classes.

“I wanted to do some film classes and I wanted to do music classes,” Goode said. “I was talking with an advisor, and he was just like, ‘That’s not going to happen.’”

Thus, he began to look at for a new institution.

“Looking for a new school made me focus on kind of getting out of there, so I wasn’t really living in the moment,” Goode said.

Wanting to move closer to home, he looked at Clemson University, Elon University, and the University of Virginia. Elon eventually became the school that Goode chose due to the variety of programs it offered.

“I expressed what I wanted to do, and they said, “Yeah, here’s what classes you can take. Here’s the programs we offer,’” Goode said. “And all these things, FreshTV, and all sorts of programs that they have just really appeal to me.”

The Application process was very different for Goode then applying for college right out of high school. He ran into some issues, including problems with transcripts and initially being denied to Elon. However, he was able to petition the denial and was eventually accepted.

“It would have been a lot more difficult if I hadn’t been in constant contact with people here,” Goode said. “And that’s another really big thing that confirmed my desire to be here, was the communication that I had with the deans and trying to figure this out. They really worked with me and helped me out as much as they could.”

According to Goode, once he knew he didn’t want to be at the University of Colorado, he knew that transferring anywhere was going to be a risk, but it was one that he was willing to take.

“There’s definitely the fear that when you transfer it will be the same, in that you won’t fit in anywhere else,” Goode said.

Goode said that he was pleased overall with Elon’s transfer process and orientation, especially finding help and advice from the newly formed Transfer Student Organization. However, he noted that sometimes transfers were mixed together with the freshmen and he found some of the information redundant.

According to Goode, he found that transferring to Elon was a good fit, specifically because of the smaller class sizes and better relationships with professors and students at Elon.

“I feel like I fit in better here and that I can express myself how I want to and do everything I want to do,” Goode said. “So I feel pretty confident with everything I’m doing here.”

viktoriaViktoria Chiappa

Elon sophomore Viktoria Chiappa always knew she was going to transfer from Central Connecticut State University.

“I didn’t know where I was going to transfer, but I didn’t really have a lot of time my senior year to pick a school because I had a tragedy happen in my family — my father passed away,” Chiappa said. “So, I knew I didn’t want to be far away from my family.”

Chiappa focused on finding an institution with a strong theater program and promising opportunities, as she hoped to become involved in the theater program and to become a vocal studies major.

Having the few years between first applying for colleges after high school and then applying to transfer, Chiappa found that she had come to know herself better.

“I definitely had different perspectives on things to write essays about,” Chiappa said. “I think it showed more of who I was becoming as a person because at that point I was more developed in my mindset of who I was.”

Chiappa was actually about to choose Montclair State University, except they didn’t quite seem to want her at their institution.

“It was almost like they accepted me because they had to because of who I was, that I looked very good on paper, and that I was good in my interview,” Chiappa said. “But they didn’t necessarily want the transfers. They didn’t want to deal with that.”

Once Chiappa finalized her decision on going to Elon University, she ran into a bit of a hiccup — she had a chance to perform with Disney on Ice for a year. Initially concerned that this additional year may cause a rift in her plans, Elon assured her that she would still have a place with them in the fall of 2014. The university would email her updates about what was going on and Chiappa said that she was assured that they wanted her at Elon.

“From that, I knew it was the right decision because people don’t go above and beyond any more and that’s just how it was here, it was just an easier process,” Chiappa said.

From her previous experience, Chiappa was not looking forward to orientation. Her previous university had been more of a party atmosphere and Chiappa’s knew that that was not her preferred environment. She found Elon’s transfer orientation to be different.

“This orientation [Elon’s] was just better in that sense in that it was just more… they gave you more room,” Chiappa said. “And I don’t know if that was because we were transfers, so they knew that we had stood on our own two feet before. But, there was less hand holding. They were more there to be a friend.”

Chiappa found that Elon was welcoming to transfers, but often did this by not always acknowledging that the transfer students were their own entity at times.

“I think we do what we can by making them [transfers] feel normal by ignoring the fact that they’re different,” Chiappa said. “I think that’s a positive thing and it’s a negative thing.”

Still adjusting and finding her place at Elon, Chiappa is looking forward to her time here at Elon, and is happy to have an instant bond to other transfer students.

“If I meet another student that is a transfer, it’s like you guys are sisters. You come from the same place. You know each other.”

Scott Interview PicScott Powell

For Scott Powell, the environment he thought he had wanted in a college turned out not to be the environment that he needed. Currently a sophomore at Elon University, Powell transferred from the University of Georgia — Athens.

“It’s kind of interesting how in high school I had this idea of what I wanted out of college,” Powell said. “And then once I got there, things changed a lot.”

Powell realized that he was not where he wanted to be when he was driving to Athens for his second semester of college and he was not looking forward to it.

“I was like, ‘Well, when is the next time I’m going to be home?’ or ‘When’s the next time I can go visit my friend?’” Powell said. “And those are kind of the moments when you realize, ‘Oh crap. I don’t like being here. I don’t want to be here. I haven’t created a home.’”

Powell decided he need to switch his environment. He began to have to tell people that he was planning to transfer, which turned out to be difficult.

“It was nerve wracking,” Powell said. “It was awkward. It was uncomfortable, and I really struggled with it.”

According to Powell, he found it hard to tell people who are having a great time that he was not, and he knew that they might not understand.

When choosing schools, Powell knew he was looking for somewhere he could create a home. He focused on places with a smaller student body, that were more academically stimulating, with a liberal arts education, and had a less intense social scene.

The institutions he narrowed his choices down to were the University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill, University of Virginia, Denison University, and Elon University.

Powell’s choice of Elon was a slow and gradual process.

“It wasn’t like a lightbulb moment where I said, ‘Oh, Elon is the place for me,’” Powell said. “It was more a process of elimination.”

Once Powell made his way to North Carolina, he found the transfer orientation at Elon to be supportive.

“At Elon, I have a small transfer orientation group — that was big for me,” Powell said. “It was other transfer students who were going through similar things and we had an orientation leader that helped us out alot. There was also a lot of structure in the first three days, which I thought was good because it gave me reason to go out and meet new people.”

Powell, who rooms in Danieley, has met and lived with multiple transfer students.

“I think it’s nice that there’s not a stigma around transfer students,” he said. “There’s four or five transfer students on my hall and sometimes you’ll be asked, ‘Oh, you’re a transfer student?’ People don’t even know sometimes.”

For Powell, he said he respects Elon’s transfer program and the effort they made to make the transfers feel at home when there are 1,450 first year students also at orientation.

“The overall process, I think, Elon University did a very good job of insuring that the student is not left without any resources, as far as transfers,” Powell said.

laurenLauren Schuessler

Lauren Schuessler knew from her first day at the University of Rhode Island (URI) that it was not meant for her.

“I like my major, but that’s about it that I liked,” Schuessler said. “And I just knew that I wanted to be somewhere that I was in love with.”

Now a senior early childhood education major and Italian minor, Schuessler has found a home at Elon University.

Schuessler found that many students were not happy at URI, but many people never did anything to change their situation.

“A lot of people that go to URI, they hate it,” Schuessler said. “And a lot of people hate it and they don’t leave because they don’t really want to go through that transition again.”

Her search for a new school had her looking at institutions that she previously hadn’t considered or didn’t think she would make it in. After narrowing down her choices to the College of William & Mary, SUNY Geneseo, and Elon University, she finally decided to make her way down to North Carolina.

Schuessler had a couple bumps in the road along the way. The first obstacle was Elon’s lack of merit scholarships available for transfers.

“The only negative thing, and it is kind of a big negative thing, is that they don’t offer any money to transfer students,” Schuessler said.

Leaving a large scholarship at URI, Schuessler found it frustrating to come to Elon with no scholarships and being unable to join any honor programs.

Another issue that Schuessler found was the lack of guaranteed housing for transfers, which almost caused for her to not be able to come to Elon.

Once Schuessler started though, she found that transfer orientation was a different experience from freshman orientation at URI. While not completely satisfied with her transfer orientation at Elon, Schuessler found the process to be good for meeting people.

“Elon made it really easy to meet people, whether they were freshmen or whether they were senior orientation leaders, and everyone was extremely friendly,” Schuessler said. “I never went anywhere alone, that just wouldn’t happen here. It was a huge difference. I felt more at home. I felt comfortable. I was excited to be here. I was more positive. It was the opposite of URI.”

Schuessler knew coming in that she wanted to be involved at Elon, so she made it happen.

“I knew, before I even came, some of the things I wanted to be involved with,” Schuessler said. “And I did. Getting that experience of being a club and having that family and that group of friends, that just changed everything for me.”

After having acclimated to Elon, Schuessler has had three years to look back on Elon and how her experience of being a transfer affected her college experience.

“I just see Elon as like heaven,” Schuessler said. “And I know that most people here, they love it, but they don’t see it in the eyes that I have. I am grateful that I had that experience, even if it was a terrible one, it led me to enjoy Elon and the rest of my college experience much more.”

Page Layout for The Edge

Here is a page layout I designed for my university’s magazine, The Edge.

Edge Design

Searching for a balance between freedom of expression and religious tolerance

By Erin Valentine

A recent Pew Research Center study was released on the public opinion surrounding the shooting at the offices of a French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The discussion has centered for people on the balance between freedom of expression and religious tolerance.

On January 7, two Islamist terrorists killed 11 people and injured 11 others at the newspaper’s headquarters due to its multiple cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, which is considered to be blasphemous in Islamic traditions.

According to the Pew Research Center study, 60% of the total people polled said that they believed it was okay to publish the cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad, while 28% said they did not support the magazine’s choice.


The study also found that non-whites and women were less likely to be okay with the magazine’s choice to depict the Prophet, while republicans were more likely.

This shooting sparked discussion on whether the importance of free speech outweighed or was exempt to the issues of religious tolerance.

“Within journalism there is a wide gamut of how people treat the responsibility aspect of the first amendment,” said Vic Costello, associate professor of communications at Elon University. Costello explained that even though the freedoms are there, that does not necessarily mean that they must always be acted on.

“There’s always this balance between the freedoms that we enjoy and social responsibility,” Costello said.

According to Jan Register, program assistant at the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, the Truitt Center’s focus is religious tolerance. Register said that it is important to understand people’s beliefs.

“You meet people who are different than you and learn about them and you develop a relationship with them,” Register said. “I think the whole problem with our world is that we don’t get to know each other.”

A statement from Pope Francis supported religious tolerance over the freedom of expression. “One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith,” he said. “There is a limit. Every religion has its dignity … in freedom of expression, there are limits.”

“Je suis Charlie” became a slogan of solidarity behind those who were killed during the shooting.

Others, however, find that freedom of expression takes precedent.

Candy McKinnon, an Elon resident, said, “If people say stuff I don’t like I just don’t listen, or I turn the channel… We’ve all become too sensitive.”

Charlie Hebdo resurfaced the discussion of finding balance between free speech and respect of religious beliefs.

“Free speech is a precious thing that ought to be treated with respect,” said Costello.

Listen to Jan Register explain the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life’s stance on religious tolerance. 

Sunrise Over the Blue Ridge