Print books and textbooks still preferred despite innovation

Flipping through pages, and breaking the bind on a new book to breathe in the scent is something some people still enjoy. Technological innovation has grown rapidly with the rise of e-books such as Amazon’s Kindle in 2007 and Barnes & Noble’s Nook in 2009. Yet, tactility and practicality are just two benefits of reading physical text.

“It is actually a different reading process to hold something, actually doing something physical, actually turning pages, you’re actually having that physical sensation,” Elon Coordinator of Library Collections, Shannon Tennant, says.

But she also thinks that there are pros of e-books such as helping educate those who are visually impaired and provide taking less books when traveling.

“Textbooks, I think, are a whole other beast,” Tennant says, “We’re really, very much moving to e-textbooks to open educational resources, because the cost of print textbooks is just so high.”

Melissa Kammerer is a librarian at May Memorial Library in Burlington, North Carolina. “We definitely see e-books [used] for research.”

Reeves reads in Scuppernong, her favorite bookshop in Greensboro.

As a Ph.D student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Julia Reeves, recently purchased printed textbooks because she loves to take notes in the margins and said she wouldn’t be able to do that if she had a copy for the computer.

Ultimately, Tennant sees no difference. “Once you can read it just opens up so many worlds to you. It’s the most important skill you can have.”

Tennant pages through books in her office in Elon’s Belk Library.


Elon Volunteers! mentor programs help Cummings High School

The graduation rate from Hugh M. Cummings High School in Burlington, North Carolina is 67 percent, according to U.S. News and World Report. Located in the eastern part of the city, its racial and socioeconomic status differentiates it from all six other high schools in the area.

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“A lot of these kids come to school and both their parents work maybe multiple jobs,” Elon University Senior and Elon Volunteers! Cummings High School Links Program Coordinator Hanna Smith-Benjamin says, “and so they come to school to come to school and hang out.”

The students rely on their teachers for an education, but don’t have the help or resources they need to keep pursuing their education, Smith-Benjamin says.

It’s a title-one school, meaning there is a high percentage of students who get free or reduced lunch. The minority enrollment is 93 percent, U.S. News and World Report says.

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“They’re not always being pushed for college, but to pass their classes and to come to school,” Smith-Benjamin says.

Smith-Benjamin has a difficult task as a college senior from Arlington, Virginia. She’s mentoring about 20 10th grade English students.





“It’s kind of a rambunctious class. They’re very outgoing and loud,” Smith-Benjamin says.

She provides more than homework help, inquiring about their social problems too.

Two freshmen were recruited at Elon’s fall organization fair and they began volunteering on October 4.

“It’s been kind of a hard links project because I think a lot of people are scared of high schoolers,” Smith-Benjamin says.

She says it is “a little discouraging” to have low numbers of recruits 

“It is hard to get more volunteers at Cummings rather than organizations like Boys and Girls Club or Positive Attitude Youth Center (PAYCE) because they work with younger kids…and so it’s little less intimidating and a little easier to work with them,” Smith-Benjamin says.

Because of the close ages, Smith-Benjamin says Cummings is a “hard community partner” to bring Elon students in. And volunteers have to be willing to be open-minded.

“Most of these kids aren’t at the levels that they should be. Or at the level that their grade is and even in this 10th grade English class they’re doing drastically different things than I was,” Smith-Benjamin says.

They are working on their grammar, finding claims, and reading short stories, not perfecting sentence structure and reading more complex literature like Smith-Benjamin had at her public high school in Arlington, Virginia.

The big goal is for these students is to pass their standardized testing at the end of the year. Smith-Benjamin says that’s why Elon students play a crucial part in mentoring these students, pushing them to succeed in their academics.

“I want to do everything I can, but I am just one person.”

Smith-Benjamin sees low volunteer recruitment being directly impacted by race and socioeconomic status.

“There’s 100 percent a race divide. And it’s a very different racial background at Cummings than it is at Elon,” Smith-Benjamin says, “You just have to look at these students as students.”

Heightening the retention rate is also hard to maintain because Elon students are always changing their schedules. But The Cinderella Project is another EV! program that has larger success rates for keeping Elon students engaged because they have one workshop in the spring.

It connects the young women at Cummings High School with Elon student volunteers. The Cinderella Project involves Elon students mentoring high school juniors and seniors on the day of their prom.

“Mentoring for our program specifically is oriented toward young women empowerment,” Caroline Dean, The Cinderella Project Conference Coordinator says, “And it’s seeing that through women who have already been through the experiences that you’ve been through so they can help guide you through the difficulties of high school.”

Elon students help the high schoolers pick out dresses, jewelry and shoes and find beauticians to do their hair and makeup for free at Elon. The volunteers provide transportation to campus and lead workshops on prom safety and bring in SPARKS for peer education. And there’s even an a cappella performance.


Spring 2016 Cummings High School mentee with fairy godmother before prom, Photo: Caroline Dean

“I’ve seen the relationships and bonds come from this. And for me it’s pretty phenomenal to see the community coming in to our community and them interacting so fluidly,” Dean says.

Contrasting Cummings High School links mentoring program with The Cinderella Project, the latter had 70 student volunteers show up to their first meeting this fall. Dean says about 80 percent of those students are freshmen. Both her and Smith-Benjamin are worried about volunteer retention.

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“Where the problem comes in, if the university student starts down that path [volunteering] and stops for one reason or another. …or does it for one semester and doesn’t return the next semester,” Mary Morrison, Director of Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement says.

This barrier is difficult to fix in Smith-Benjamin’s eyes, but she fosters her relationships, no matter how the number.

“It’s a deeper relationship with a student that is more holistic. You’re not just thinking about one aspect. You really want to get to know the student that you’re mentoring in a holistic fashion,” Mary Morrison says.

Ally Nylen, Elon Volunteers!, Executive Director of Communication Education says the relationship Elon and Burlington shares at Cummings High School is beneficial for both communities.

“They anticipate Elon students coming out and volunteering. As well as we invite them on to campus for other events or to really strengthen that partnership,” Ally Nylen says.

Mentoring for Nylen is seen as a mutual benefitting partnership, one that both Smith-Benjamin and Dean have in distinct capacities.

She says Boys and Girls Club sees “a lot of volunteers,” and agrees with Smith-Benjamin thinking the age of the students impacts how many Elon student volunteers will help Cummings students.

“I think there is a struggle in wanting to get people to continuously volunteer,” Nylen says.

Mutual long-lasting partnerships are what all the volunteers and leaders are looking for. But for now there is no long-term solution to this problem.

Nylen says she sees that there is interest for people to get involved in organizations, but longterm commitment is hard especially since Elon’s student body is actively involved in many organizations. For now, all leaders see impactful change in their mentees and in themselves.

“I’m not afraid anymore to go out into our community. I feel very empowered getting to know these young women and knowing that they will be the young women that they continue to develop and love on this community. And in some way I’ve been a part of that,” Dean says.

Safe spaces supported on Elon’s campus

College. The name in itself does not sound like a safe space. Parents and faculty alike are concerned for personal well-being for students. Before arriving at Elon, freshmen take an online alcohol safety class and probably have discussions with their parents about how to avoid rape and sexual harassment.

Intellectual questioning, challenging, and uncomfortable situations in the classroom do happen at Elon. The classroom is a place where Elon faculty and staff make it a unique place to learn providing an atmosphere where students challenge each other and the professor by using research and thought.

“How are you ever going to learn if you’re comfortable and how are you going to learn if everyone around you is like tiptoeing around everyone’s feelings,” Paige Poupart, a senior walking into the Center for Race, Ethnicity, & Diversity Education (CREDE) questioned?

She said college is a place to grow and sometimes there are growing pains.

“We want to have rich conversations where students engage you know difficult ideas and challenging ideas and ideas they disagree with, but we also do want to be sensitive to students who may have past trauma,” Joel Harter, Associate Chaplain of Protestant Life, said.

Poupart believes using disrespectful language is not okay in any learning environment, in her eyes, but she supports challenging others beliefs and diversity of thought.

Harter said Elon wants safe spaces, but having intellectual conversation that promotes freedom of speech takes priority.

“The university obviously wants there to be safe spaces for our students,” Harter said, “or at least safer spaces because I don’t think they can ever be completely safe.”

Each faculty member has the choice to create the climate of the classroom, which sets the precedent for the semester. There can be a fine line between stepping on toes and making whispered voices yelled, a balance between voices and students of varying backgrounds.

At Wake Forest University, Angela Mazaris is the Director of the LGBTQ Center. She said on her first day of class she was going to craft a set of classroom agreements.

“I’m taking a feminist pedagogical model where students will make an agreement on how they would like to approach difficult material and how to foster an environment of mutual classroom respect,” Mazaris says.

She believes the educational process is a transformational experience. Students will be challenged and will encounter new material. She explains at times there may be tensions with students because some experiences may be impactful and influential, while those same experiences may be hostile for other students.

People are bound to feel uncomfortable in the classroom, but that does not mean safe spaces at Elon do not exist. Like Wake Forest, Elon has a Gender and LGBTQIA Center. Both there and the CREDE are located on the second floor of Moseley Campus Center.

The Numen Lumen Pavilion in the Academic Village welcomes students to the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life and also encourages a safe environment.


While Poupart may spend time in the CREDE she expects to be challenged in the classroom.

“You need to be able to speak your mind, because if you can’t speak your mind and you’re so worried about being politically correct, how are you going to learn?” Poupart said.

Elon Police look to add body cameras

This May the Department of Justice announced a $20 million pilot program to increase security and accountability around the country. Now Elon Police is looking into new technology to be an extra set of eyes in hopes of keeping the community safe.

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Mark Sweat is the Supervisor of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Elon Police Department and he explained how the Elon police would integrate body-worn cameras, or BWC’s into their service.

“If they got out of the car, nine times out of 10 we’re usually going to tell them you know once you get out of the car to cut it on,” Sweat said.

Police officers place these cameras on their uniform to capture interactions between them and the public. They record video and audio and are meant to keep both the officer and suspect in line knowing that they are being monitored.

The Town of Elon Police Department is interested in purchasing 10 cameras and a storage software for roughly $22,000 for its 10 parole officers next May.

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“In communities where we’ve seen body cameras being used, we’ve seen a real reduction in complaints about the police department,” Jonathan Jones, Director of North Carolina Open Government Coalition and Elon professor, said.

Police Body Cameras

According to the latest Elon Poll, more than 90 percent of North Carolina residents polled support getting police body cameras. The Elon Police Department is currently sampling the Digital Ally First View HD body cameras. The small black device is no larger than the palm of an adult’s hand and weighs less than a pound. The officer places the video recorder in their breast pocket inside their uniform and takes the camera and clips it onto their uniform. They simply press a button, and a vibration will sound and the video will begin recording.Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 12.01.31 AM

Some of the benefits of BWC’s are:

  • Improving accountability for officers
  • Reducing complaints of police misconduct
  • Increasing transparency
  • Decreasing court costs

Challenges include:

  • Cost effectiveness
  • Privacy issues

“In order to capture their benefit we need to make sure the public has access,” Jones said.

And Sweat feels the same.

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“Right now our view is that it’s going to be public record,” Sweat said.

The Elon Poll also said that of the 91 percent of N.C. residents polled who approve of the BWC’s, 63 percent believe the footage should be made public.

“It has potential to really shift how the public views law enforcement particularly in communities that have a history of distrust with their local police,” Jones said.

The Elon Police Department is modeling their policy after both Elon University and Burlington Police policies.

“We’re still writing our policies, but if someone requested for us to cut it off, it’s all just dependent on the situation,” Sweat said.

So far the Elon Police don’t know who will be able to upload, edit, or delete old footage.

“I think as long as public access is preserved, body cameras have a tremendous potential to restore public trust in law enforcement,” Jones said.

Now there are still many open questions. North Carolina state law has not addressed issues such as: What scenarios are off-limits for officers to use BWC’s? Is the footage public or private? And how long footage will remain online if made public?

A Conversation with the Master Violinist

“I was told I was supposed to say something first and then you were going to ask me questions,” joked violinist, Itzhak Perlman.

The Israeli-born, 70-year-old violin-legend chatted with Senior Vice President for Business, Finance, and Technology, Gerald Whittington about his childhood, career, accolades, and even his love of food.

Elon University students faculty, and staff in addition to community members gathered in Alumni Gym for the 2015 Fall Convocation titled “A Conversation with Itzhak Perlman” on Tuesday October 6th.


Whittington began his questioning with Perlman’s early years. 

Perlman knew he wanted to play the violin at age three, and was stricken with polio a year later. But that didn’t stop this Music Man.

“It’s one of the most difficult instruments at such an early age,” said Perlman.

Finding a teacher was also challenging. Perlman explained how his parents found his first teacher stumbling upon a man playing in a coffee shop. But was soon fired for not teaching him more. Then his parents decided to go to a local academy whom he took lessons from for eight years. She taught him to practice scales for one hour every day.

By the time he was seven he was practicing three hours every day.

And his hard work paid off. Ed Sullivan came to Israel to host his TV show abroad and showcase Israel. This led Perlman to try out for the show when he was just 13 years old. Perlman was on the show three times in his early teenage years. He proceeded to appear on it again before going to Julliard when he was 18.


His career has been a lengthy one. And Perlman says his goal is to, “concentrate enough on the music and keep my interest on what I’m doing.”

This has led him to conduct and teach others.

In 1995 he and his wife, Toby, began the Perlman Music Program in 1995 to teach 11-18-year-old music students for the summer. She wanted to discourage competition while emphasizing the importance of concentration and hard work in music.

“Concentration is a double-edged sword,” said Perlman suggesting one must practice their instrument, meticulously listening to ensure each note is played precisely. Because if one note is practiced incorrectly twenty times, then when it comes to perform that note will be performed incorrectly.


Perlman rehearses his violin and his cooking skills.

“I adore to cook,” said Perlman.

He says he finds cooking Italian food very easy, but his VitaMix allows him to cream soups without any cream. His mother’s and wife’s homemade chicken noodle soups are his favorite.

But after all the talk about his passions, the audience had the opportunity to let their ears hear a new tone.

Perlman played his 301 year old Stradivarius violin worth over $15.6 million dollars because words alone could not describe his performance.

The melodious sounds captured the attention of many students.

Overall, many were in awe captivated by his precision with his violin and gravitated by his overall prestige.