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Sara Wilkerson, David Aston, Justin Oakes, and Emily Shim
The Montgazette Staff

“I pray that you have integrity and print the answers as I wrote them.” These were the words of shady Texas businessman turned Philadelphia-based “You’re going to Hell” Pastor Aden Rusfeldt who demonstrated on the Quad of Montgomery County Community College’s Central Campus on May 2.  According to a press release from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the pastor has a 10-year history of fraudulent business practices and fake businesses that forced the U.S. CFTC to levy a $3.2 million judgment against him in September 2016.  Since then, he and his supporters have broadcasted a message of what many Philadelphia area colleges have called hate speech. This was Rustfeldt’s first visit to Montco.

In his book, “Open Air Fire: Principles of Open Air Outreach,”  Rusfeldt  outlines his reasons for preaching the way he does. Rusfeldt writes, “I love to ask people, ‘How loving is God that He makes a specific list you can read of sins that will keep you out of heaven? That is how much God loves you.”

Rusfeldt said that his demonstration at Montco was against sin, “Because sinning hurts people.”  His supporters held up signs that reflected his “specific list” of people “going to Hell.” These sinners on a particular banner, according to student eyewitness Mara  Witsen  included, “Homo[sexuals], Muslims, Cow worshippers… Racists [specifically] the KKK and Black Lives Matter, Money Lovers, Mama’s Boys, Witches, Gamers, Cutters, Brats, Emos, Rebellious Women, Punks, Liars, Sissies, the Pope, Party Animals, Gangster Rappers, Rock-and-Roll Freaks, So-Called Christians…” And the list went on.

“They’ve got a right to say what they want to say. But, I mean, at the same time I think it goes against what they were trying to say, because, I mean… Jesus also said ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ That’s not what they were doing,” Ethan Harris, who also witnessed the demonstration event, said.

The signs and shouting drew in a crowd of dozens of Montco students who kept their distance and later drowned out the preaching with music and heckling.

“I’ll be honest with you, [I’ve been] here almost 20 years, I don’t remember anything like that before,”  Montco’s  Senior Producer and Technical Services Supervisor Matt Porter said of the demonstration. “They have a right to be here. Let them have their [say] but let it be known [the students] didn’t necessarily agree. And I think I was proud of our students for keeping it peaceful, but voicing their opinion loud and clear that this was not necessarily the opinion that they agreed with.” Harris added, “I think it was a positive experience in that it united a lot of people in the college setting. Which with community college it’s harder to do that than per se a four-year [college].”

Rusfeldt’s group’s hate speech-laden preaching didn’t last long. They still shouted at the students as they left Campus at their own will, with an escort from Montco’s Public Safety Team at 2:45 p.m.

The question remains, however, will a preacher with little business integrity and a long list of his own sins return to Montco?

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Pastor Aden Rusfeldt and his group hold protest banners for MCCC students and faculty to read as they preached for several hours on Central Campus. Photo courtesy of Brittney Baldwin

 

 

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Sara Wilkerson
The Montgazette Co-Editor

Phi Theta Kappa is an international honors society dedicated to bettering society through Scholarship, Fellowship, Leadership and Service. Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) has two chapters at MCCC: Alpha Kappa Zeta (AKZ) for Central campus and Beta Tau Lamba (BTL) for West campus. Both PTK chapters held their bi-annual Induction Ceremonies in March to welcome the new members of PTK this spring.

PTK hosts over 700 chapters nationwide for two year college institutions and has a vast network of alumni groups at four year institutions. The society began as an effort to give opportunities for scholars that reach beyond academics and allow students to give back to their communities while helping them transfer into four year institutions.

In order to attain membership with Phi Theta Kappa, students must have a 3.5 GPA and maintain a 3.0 once inducted. In addition, students must have at least 12 credit hours towards an associate’s degree as well as receive an invitation from a PTK chapter. If students meet this criteria, there is a $65 one-time membership fee that must be paid and submitted with a PTK application. Upon acceptance, students have the option of attending a formal induction ceremony hosted by their PTK chapter, where they are inducted through verbal and written pledges in front of their peers and families.

Following inductions, newly inducted members join their fellow chapter members in monthly meetings that can determine their involvement. When describing the level of involvement in PTK, Alpha Kappa Zeta President Alison Giles stated, “… you get what you give. If you want opportunities for scholarships, volunteering, leadership roles, project development, and community engagement, you’ll find that in PTK. In my experience, these opportunities have led to even more opportunities, and my time at MCCC has come to be defined in large part by my involvement…”

Past projects between the two MCCC PTK chapters include AKZ’s 2015 Alternative Spring Break Project “Imagine No Homelessness” and BTL’s annual cleanups of the Schuylkill Riverfront Park.

Currently, AKZ’s efforts in participating in “honors in action” projects, along with their substantial membership roster, have made the chapter a notable five star chapter in the PTK organization. AKZ is working with Central campus’ tutoring center this semester to reform their services. According to Alison Giles, Alpha Kappa Zeta’s goal is to, “… get the word out that the tutors are here and are waiting, they’re available no matter what kind of schedule you have, and there’s no shame in seeking the help you need, especially if that’s all that is standing in the way of you reaching your goals.”

Despite being an international  honors society, Phi Theta Kappa makes differences locally through its chapters, with MCCC’s very own chapters making no exception.

For more information about MCCC’s PTK chapters, contact an advisor: The  Central Campus advisors are Catherine Parzynski (CParzyns@mc3.edu) and Cathy Hoult Shewring (CHoultSh@mc3. edu). The West Campus advisors are Georgette Howell (GHowell@mc3.edu) and Kevin Strunk (KStrunk@mc3.edu).

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Alpha Kappa Zeta’s Leadership Team — Photo courtesy of Sandi Yanisko and Dan Hanson

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Congratulations to the new members of Alpha Kappa Zeta! — Photo courtesy of Sandi Yanisko and Dan Hanson

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Samuel Wallace; Keynote Speaker — Photo courtesy of Sandi Yanisko and Dan Hanson

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Dr. Kevin Pollock; MCCC President — Photo courtesy of Sandi Yanisko and Dan Hanson

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Alison Giles; Alpha Kappa Zeta President — Photo courtesy of Sandi Yanisko and Dan Hanson

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Sara Wilkerson
Montgazette Staff Writer

Awe-inspiring. Talented. Hilarious. Outspoken. Powerful. These are just a few words to describe critically acclaimed and award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson, who was featured as keynote speaker in Montgomery County Community College’s Eighth Annual Presidential Symposium in November.

Jacqueline Woodson is a prolific writer with over 30 published books that have made her a winner of over 500 literary awards, including the Poetry Foundation’s Young People’s Poet Laureate and the National Book Award. The book she presented at symposium, “Brown Girl Dreaming,” has won over 30 awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award.

At the start of her speech, Woodson discussed her journey into becoming a writer. Her interest in writing stemmed largely from her interest in reading at a young age. She said that as a child she read slowly, slower than most kids in her class, and repeatedly read the same books to understand how the authors made her feel while reading. Similarly, Woodson advises readers read her books slowly. “I took a long time to write these books. Don’t read them fast!” she said.

When she started writing “Brown Girl Dreaming,” Woodson recalled the story of how she started writing her free verse memoir. She said she was inspired to recount the memories of her childhood after the passing of her mother. Everyone in her family helped with retracing memories of their family’s past. Despite the challenge of traveling between Ohio and South Carolina to speak with family members, Woodson profusely thanked her family for their encouragement.

After reading excerpts from “Brown Girl Dreaming,” including her favorite poem titled “Tobacco,” Woodson answered questions from audience members. When asked about what lasting impression that she wanted to leave on her readers after they read “Brown Girl Dreaming,” she replied, “I would love to inspire them to tell their own stories.”

To find out more information about Jacqueline Woodson, her latest works and her awards, visit her website at jacquelinewoodson.com.

 

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Photo by Sandi Yanisko: Woodson takes questions during the symposium about her book and how she was inspired to become a writer.

 

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Photo by Sandi Yanisko: Award-winning Author, Jacqueline Woodson, reads an excerpt from “Brown Girl Dreaming” to attendees of the Eighth Annual MCCC Presidential Symposium.

 

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Photo by Sandi Yanisko: Woodson smiles as she autographs a copy of “Brown Girl Dreaming” after the Presidential Symposium.

 

 

 

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David Aston
Montgazette Editor-in-Chief

There’s an old aphorism, “Figures don’t lie but liars figure.” Many news agency polls leading up to this year’s presidential election magnify each leading candidates’ divisive attitude, focused on how bad the country is going to be if the opposing candidate wins the election. These polls and the leading presidential candidates are missing two key things: People are voting out of fear and they want to hear the candidates talk about key issues.

A recent Pew Research Center poll shows that more than half of potential voters are doing so out of fear. Many of Montgomery County Community College students feel the same way.

Jennifer Zera, a 29-year-old Human Resources student, says she’s voting for Donald Trump because Hillary Clinton is not trustworthy. “She lies and she only appears interested in topics when she is trying to earn votes.”

Brianna Johnston, a Business student, 34, fears for the popularity of Clinton’s opponent. “Trump is bringing our country’s problem with hate and bigotry out into the open,” she says.

Reina Paredes, a 20-year-old accounting student, who says she’s supporting Green Party Candidate Jill Stein, doesn’t like the Democratic Party nominee. “Hillary [is] a criminal and [a] liar who takes money from Wall Street.”

Gail Clark, a Nursing student in her sixties, feels that Trump’s behavior could induce more fear. “[He] attacks women and non-Americans.” What disturbs Clark most is that the candidates don’t “focus on the main problems in our country.”

Michael Malley, another Nursing student, 35, who also says he’s voting for Jill Stein, wishes the candidates would have a more “long-term focus” on all levels of education, from grade school to college.

Katherine Bampfield, a 51-year-old Web
Development and Design student, wants the future president to talk about immigration reform, job creation and “how to decrease some of our cost of living.”

Victoria Esten, an Accounting student, 31, wants to see issues from equal pay rights for women, to the economy to healthcare and schooling discussed. She says, “I’m sick and tired about talking about Trump’s wanting to see Obama’s birth certificate or Clinton’s e-mail scandal. Can we get on with things and get to the issues at hand?”

The polls’ statistics and figures may not be wrong but they aren’t concentrating on the key factors that are important to Montco’s students, much less the country. The sooner news media organizations and, more importantly, this year’s presidential candidates start talking about the issues instead of ignoring them, the more likely voters won’t have to vote out of fear.

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Cameron Dushanko
Montgazette Contributing Writer

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year and a half, you know that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were fighting for the presidency of the United States of the United States. But how do the Millennial students of Montgomery County Community College feel about this election and the country that nominated these two divisive candidates?

I decided the best way was to take a survey of Montco students. My questions centered around how the country has improved in this century and how Millennials feel about the results of this year’s presidential election. Out of the 25 individuals I surveyed, I found that their answers mimic those of many recent news agency polls.

The majority of the participants felt that the country has improved since the year 2000 but a sizable 40 percent disagreed. However, when I asked them if they felt this year’s candidates support the middle class, about half said “yes” and just over half said “no.”

When it came to their of the future, 56 percent said they feel that the country will improve in the next four to eight years. The rest said things would either stay the same or get worse.

Reactions to the primaries were shocking. An astounding 58 percent were scared about the outcome of the primary election and a slim 3 percent expressed optimism. Another surprise twist was that nearly a third were disappointed about the primaries’ outcomes.

Figures, of course, don’t tell the whole story. One student who wished to remain anonymous put it best. “We really need to focus on improving morale, living situations and corporate layover, [these things have] made the American dream so endlessly bleak.”

I don’t share this view. I believe that our country has stayed stable since the beginning of this century. But I fear that the presidential candidates are not showing that they are fighting for anyone but themselves. Unless their rhetoric changes, I will continue feeling like nothing has changed.

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Justin Patrick Oakes
Montgazette Staff Writer

Former  President William Clinton visited the campus of Montgomery County Community College to welcoming crowds.  The stop was one of many to various other locations around the country on behalf of his wife, Secretary Hillary Clinton as she campaigns for President of the United States.

In addition to President Clinton, other politicians like Joseph Shapiro, were also in attendance on the  Montco’s  Blue Bell, Pennsylvania campus.   President Clinton talked about the importance of voting  and acknowledged community college’s role in providing quality  education for  a diverse group students.  He says the country should operate like community colleges with appreciation for uniqueness of cultures and different backgrounds.

One of the students in attendance said regardless of personal party choices, it is impressive that a former president of the United States came to  Montco  to speak to the students and community.   He spoke of many of the things his wife says she will focus on if elected president like clean and renewable energy, climate change, marriage equality and jobs.

The crowd was excited by the speech, especially when he began to talk about the work that would be done to make sure that community colleges become tuition free.  Brad Parsons, a student, said, “I did enjoy [the speech] because I got more knowledge about Clinton and her policies and what she’s going to do for us.”

The visit, however, didn’t happen without it’s hecklers. At one point,  during the president’s speech one could hear shouts of  discontent  ringing throughout the atrium at Parkhouse Hall. One student said that the people rallying behind Secretary Clinton are “supporting a lying, twisted person.” Most people in the audience were supporters, but there were some who did not support her. The monumental event was open for everyone.

Montgomery County Community College students and the community were  fortunate to have someone so revered come to speak. It is sure to be a time that all attending will not forget.

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Former President Bill Clinton addresses the crowd at Montgomery County Community College.

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David Aston
Montgazette Editor-In-Chief

The hot summer is falling away and a contentious presidential election is still to come. In between is Montgomery County Community College pressing on with a new academic year.

This year heralds a bunch of firsts for Montco and The Montgazette.

Dr. Kevin Pollock begins his first full academic year as the college’s president. Starting with this issue, The Montgazette is bringing back the sports schedules. Also, you’ll see we’ve added a new section called “College Spotlight.” Each month, The Montgazette will showcase a MCCC partner college or university. These spotlights will present important information you need to know so you can make an informed choice on where to transfer so you can continue to achieve your dreams after your time at Montco.

For all of the new students for this academic year, Welcome! The Students Office of Leadership and Involvement hosted the club fair at the start of the semester and numerous students clubs were represented. I am here to encourage you to get involved! We have included in this issue a few highlights from the club fair. Enjoy!

If you would like to join the team here at The Montgazette, we welcome your story perspectives. During my time at Montco, I have put my all into making this paper thrive in a climate that says the paper is dead. You, the readers of The Montgazette, have proven the naysayers wrong. You see the value in bringing your voice to the world and I am humbled to be the leader that has made that a success.

So this, in the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a famous novelist, “Stories matter.”

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