Spring/Summer 2019 / Around the Green

Animal Advocates

Students found an organization to advocate for animal welfare on campus and across the state
By Evan Hoke ’19

Molly Lemke ’20 drew inspiration for a new student organization from something that happened when she was a teenager: She rescued a 10-day-old kitten she found in her backyard. “It was a really transformative experience to care for something that vulnerable,” Lemke said.

Now, more than a year after the Wilson Animal Action Group was founded, the group has 10 active members and has raised money for animal groups and lobbied for animal rights reforms in the Pennsylvania legislature. “Our mission is to make animal lives better through advocacy,” said Lemke. Although WAAG is still a young organization, she is happy with the group’s progress.

“There are a lot of animal issues that our campus isn’t aware of despite being an animal-friendly campus,” she said. Lemke and the other members of WAAG are working to increase awareness of inhumane practices involving animals on both the local and national levels. “Puppy mills feeding local pet stores with animals is a huge problem in this area,” she said. “Dog fighting is also a lot more prevalent than people think it is,” she said, citing a national issue the group wants to highlight, “which is due to the fact that our country doesn’t have a lot of animal regulations set in place.”

The one piece of federal legislation that covers animals, the Animal Welfare Act, has a lot of gaps in it, according to Lemke. “There are no countrywide animal cruelty regulations,” she said. “In addition, in many communities, there is no one to enforce these laws (except for) the state police, who may not consider animal cruelty problems a real issue.”

Lemke, who is majoring in animal studies and veterinary medical technology, attended a talk on campus given by Kristen Tullo, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Pennsylvania state director, in fall 2017. After hearing Tullo speak, Lemke knew she needed to get more involved in animal advocacy. She created WAAG as a result.

“I think if you ask any person that grew up around animals, they’ll tell you that animals were their best friends growing up,” she said. “I felt like animals were my best friends growing up too and that’s why I want what’s best for them. Animals are special and we make a lot of problems for them that they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

In April 2018, WAAG members attended HSUS-sponsored Humane Lobby Day, which takes place in every state, at the Pennsylvania capitol in Harrisburg. Students met with legislators and spoke about animal welfare issues and laws. “It really felt as though we were making a difference by being there,” said Lemke.

WAAG members at Humane Lobby Day in Harrisburg in April. Front row, from left: Alexis Enders ’23,
Kyleen Wolfe ’20, club president Molly Lemke ’20 and secretary Olivia Shirk ’21. Second row, from left:
Christyann Long ’20, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and club treasurer Allison Panek ’19.

The group sent a contingent again this year on April 29 and were photographed with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and canine celebrities Aladdin and Libre, both of whom suffered abuse before being rescued.

“The big issue that they’re pushing for this year at lobby day is Victoria’s Law,” Lemke said. “The bill would ban the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in the state.” WAAG members took a petition to Humane Lobby Day supporting the passage of Victoria’s Law with 281 signatures they gathered outside the dining hall this spring.

The club also supports another proposal, the “hot car” bill, which would give police immunity if they break into a car to rescue an animal locked inside, according to Lemke.

The lobby day is WAAG’s main focus, but the club also hosts fundraising events on campus. During the 2018 spring semester, the group created a Valentine’s donation drive and collected toys and cleaning supplies for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter and for Spring Fling, the group turned donated shirts into dog toys and gave them to the local animal shelter. In fall 2018, they hosted a Halloween animal costume contest on campus and baked hundreds of treats for a trick-or-treat event for pets.

The club has also donated winter shelters for feral cats to local businesses. Lemke believes one reason the group is successful is that they all share the same goal. “We all feel as though we created domestic animals so we have a responsibility to take care of them,” she said. “If they live with you, they’re just as much a part of your family as anyone else.”

Lemke also wants to encourage the entire Wilson community to do what they can for animals. “Science keeps discovering that every animal is essentially the same as we are. Their cognitive skills, their emotions … we’re all built from the same mold. It’s not a far leap to have empathy for them and help them as much as possible.”

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Student-led project breathes new life into Sarah’s Coffeehouse
By Evan Hoke ’19

A yearlong student-led renovation project has transformed Sarah’s Coffeehouse into a fantastic new hangout and performance space.

Even before the renovations began, “Sarah’s was starting to become a place where students could come together to enjoy time with one another,” Megan Potter ’20 said of the space in lower Lenfest Commons. “Every place on this campus tells a story and I wanted Sarah’s to start a new chapter.”

Vice President for Student Development Mary Beth Williams points to the project as proof that students have the power to inspire and empower one another. “My goal was to support the students in creating an artistic space,” she said. “They really have made something that people can use for years to come.”

The work began during the 2018 Spring Break after 2018-19 Wilson College Government Association President Daniel Perry ’20 and Daniel O’Keefe ’21 decided that the space wasn’t being used to its full potential. They wanted to transform it into a place where students would want to hang out, a visually appealing space and a place that could host events.

“We saw a lack of facilities for students,” Perry said. “We wanted to accommodate them and create a sense of unity. We wanted to create an environment that was more welcoming.”

From left, Mary Beth Williams, the Rev. Derek Wadlington and Daniel Perry ’20 in the renovated Sarah’s Coffeehouse.

They approached Williams with their ideas. She approved and asked the Rev. Derek Wadlington to help the students make it happen. Wadlington has spent the past 12 months helping them with the renovations. “I wanted to see the space transformed and for the students to feel that their ideas mattered,” he said. “I thought the project would be useful in initiating change at Wilson.”

Using money provided by WCGA, students removed the nonstructural wooden beams from the ceiling to give the space a more expansive feeling; a contractor sandblasted the paint from the brick walls using a dustless process; workers removed carpet from the floor and replaced it with a durable vinyl that looks like wood; and a cleaning crew scrubbed the room.

The coffeehouse also has a small stage, industrial-style lighting, a chalkboard wall, upholstered sofas and chairs, as well as industrial-style tables, including some coffee tables and a 12-foot-long table made by local craftsman Barry Stup. Williams found out about him from a magazine and then visited his Chambersburg workshop, where he collects industrial pieces and refurbishes them. “They fit in really well with the theme we’re going for,” she said.

An antique espresso machine also graces the coffeehouse. It is ornamental only, but adds an authentic flavor to the space. O’Keefe and Potter found it online, bid on it and won. Then Perry, Wadlington and Williams made their way to Pittsburgh to pick it up. When they arrived, they found that the espresso machine had been sitting in a man’s house for 40 years after he bought it from a restaurant that had closed. “It’s very industrial and it helps bring everything together,” Williams said. “It really enhances the atmosphere here.”

Perry credits several students for the work they put into the renovations, including Potter, Hong Nguyen ’18, Pratikshya Gaihre ’20, Oliver Perry ’20, Omar Abarca ’20, Jillian Hubert ’21 and Emelio Jones ’21.

“This was a great opportunity for students to learn and for the campus to come together,” Wadlington said.

With the renovations and furnishings complete, Sarah’s Coffeehouse was officially used for the first time by members of the Wilson Board of Trustees, who ate dinner there while they were on campus for the February board meeting.

The project initially brought the campus together to work toward a goal, and Perry believes that the refurbished space will help keep the community close. “This project means a lot to the students,” Perry said. “Changing the space into something new was uplifting, especially since it was built by students for students.”

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Sports Wrap

Congratulations to the Phoenix softball team on winning the 2019 Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) championship!

The Wilson spring sports season closed out with a number of accomplishments:

The SOFTBALL team made history by going undefeated in the CSAC with a 14-0 record, earning the right to host the CSAC Championships. The Phoenix swept the championships to earn the CSAC crown and the victory secured the team a bid to the NCAA Regional Tournament—a first for any Wilson team. At the NCAA tournament in Kentucky, Taylor Durant ’22 made the All-Region Team after the Phoenix were eliminated in the second round. Eight members of the team earned All- CSAC honors: Megan Potter ’20 and Gabrielle Newman ’22 earned First-Team honors; Jen Cail ’20, Alison Shockey ’20 and Jessica Kosheba ’22 earned Second-Team honors; and Katey Roth ’21, Daphne Buzard ’21 and Amber Rexrode ’21 received Honorable Mention. Head Coach Brett Cline was named the CSAC Coach of the Year, while Potter was named CSAC Pitcher of the Year.

Kevin Ehrman ’22

The BASEBALL team concluded its inaugural season with 21 wins and competed in both the CSAC championships and the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament. Five Phoenix earned All-CSAC accolades: Hunter Cheek ’22 earned First-Team honors; Kevin Ehrman ’22 and Nick Quinn ’22 were named to the Second Team; and Juan Rosario ’22 and Zach Sutherland ’22 received Honorable Mention. Ehrman was also named CSAC Rookie of the Year.

MEN’S BASKETBALL finished the 2018-19 season with a 14-12 record and the team made its second post-season appearance in a row. The team hosted Rosemont in the CSAC tournament, but fell to the Ravens at a packed Gannett Memorial Field House. For the first time since the 2000-01 season, the WOMEN’S

BASKETBALL team posted a winning record of 16-12 and competed in the CSAC playoffs. The team opened the playoffs with a 47-37 victory over Notre Dame of Maryland University and advanced to the conference semifinals. In addition to the CSAC tournament, the Phoenix were selected to participate in the ECAC basketball championships, where the team lost to Widener University in the opening round.

Aaron Hoke ’19

MEN’S VOLLEYBALL senior Aaron Hoke ’19 became just the third men’s volleyball player to earn all-conference accolades. Hoke was named to the North Eastern Athletic Conference Second Team. The team closed out the season with five wins. MEN’S GOLF won the Wilson College Swing Into Spring Invitational by shooting a program low score of 380. Oliver Perry ’21 led the Phoenix after carding an 85 in the match.

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