Matthew Eledge: Discrimination or Breaking Conduct Code

Skutt Catholic is a private Catholic school located in Omaha, Nebraska. When you visit the school’s homepage, the first thing that appears is a picture of a triumphant team holding a large trophy with a bold headline reading, “2015 Skyhawk Speech Team Wins State Championship for Fourth Year in a Row.” The successful speech coach is named Matthew Eledge. Regardless of his success, Skutt is denying him his job next year.

Matthew Eledge, center, with his team of speech state champions. While Elegy was coaching speech, Skutt Catholic won the state championship 4 years in a row.

Matthew Eledge, center, with his team of speech state champions. While Eledge was coaching speech, Skutt Catholic won the state championship 4 years in a row.

Caroline Friedman is a freshman at University of Colorado at Boulder who graduated from Skutt Catholic in 2014. Although she did not have Eledge as a teacher, she spent a lot of time with him on educational trips to Europe in 2012, 2013, and 2014. According to Friedman, Eledge was, “The funniest teacher because he was goofy and he always made an effort to make the class laugh.” Eledge is not your average Catholic school English teacher and speech coach; he is unique in the way that he plans on marrying another man. When he made his plan apparent to the president and school board of Skutt Catholic, he discovered his teaching contract would not be renewed. Being in a same sex relationship, especially with the intent to marry, is a violation of the the conduct contract each staff member signs when they take a job at Skutt. Included in the conduct contract is a termination clause; the termination clause states teachers can be terminated for conduct that violates the Catholic Church Doctrine. Eledge is a proficient English teacher and a very successful speech coach. Although Eledge is the reason behind Skutt Catholic’s most successful headline, Skutt’s president and school board are still very serious about Eledge not returning to Skutt Catholic after this academic year.

In response to Skutt’s termination clause; students, parents, alumni and other parts of Omaha and Skutt’s community have reached out in efforts to save Eledge’s career. Kacie Hughes, a 2012 Skutt graduate who is now a junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, posted a petition Tuesday supporting Eledge. As of Thursday night it had already gathered over 36,000 signatures. Stated in this petition were some of Skutt’s core beliefs, “moral and ethical leadership by not only educating, but also requiring students to provide service to, embrace diversity within and seek justice for their communities and the marginalized in our society.” With core beliefs like that, it is difficult to see why Skutt is so dead set on firing a great teacher like Eledge. David Gottschalk, a Skutt Alumni, responds to Skutt’s beliefs and its non-related actions, “here we are watching the institution that instilled these social justice values in us turn around and discriminate against the marginalized.”

I asked Friedman if Eledge’s sexuality distracted students from learning and although students were not supposed to know his sexual identity, they assumed he was gay, “very nicely dressed all the time, too nice to be straight. We weren’t allowed to know he was gay because if he told people, he would be fired on the spot, but his sexuality never got in the way of learning.” Unfortunately for Eledge, figuratively his hands are tied. He is unable to take legal action. In 2012, Omaha passed an ordinance that extended workplace anti-bias protections to gay and transgender workers, however the ordinance exempts religious organizations and schools.

There have been suspicions of other teachers breaking the conduct contract and not facing the same penalties as Eledge, Caroline believes that Eledge has been discriminated against because of his sexuality while other teachers have gone against Church teachings, “many teachers have gotten divorced and if they [the school board] wanted to look into it I’m sure teachers have lived together before getting married and have had sex before marriage which is against church teachings.” Regardless, Eledge’s best bet is public outcry, but even with over 36,000 signatures and a trending hashtag (#LetMatthewTeach), Skutt Catholic has not budged.

Contact Information: Caroline Friedmen: (402) 968 2382

Sustainability & Stalk it

It’s undeniable that global warming is real and surely happening. What does that mean for us? That our grand children will never see a polar bear? It means shorter winters, less snow, and  a decreasing amount of life changing powder days, and it’s important that the ski fanatics of Colorado understand this. The chairlifts that we take for granted pump CO2 emissions into our air and man made snow requires a lot of water to make. Some resorts have taken this into consideration and made their resorts more Earth friendly; if you’re looking for a green ski vacation you might want to head to Squaw, California or Aspen, Colorado, the two Earth-friendliest ski resorts in the United States.

Stalk it snowboard athlete shredding Telluride, Colorado in January, 2015.

Stalk it snowboard athlete shredding Telluride, Colorado in January, 2015.

Snow related recreation contributes approximately $67 billion annually and supports 900,000 jobs. With less snow and shortened seasons, America’s jobs and economy would suffer. It’s up to the skiers to make, better, more eco-friendly choices. Lane Segerstrom had an idea, to create skis and snowboards out of wasted stalk and husk to make corn board. Corn board makes up the core of the ski. With the use of corn board, there is less of a dependency of wood products therefore less deforestation and more eco-friendly. Lane Segerstrom’s company, Stalk It, is now selling these corn board based skis. Years of research went into building Stalk It’s 2015 season skis. Segerstrom and Stalk It are basing their marketing efforts out of Telluride and pushing their product on the local market. Telluride Ski Resort was so thrilled with Stalk It’s green initiative, they made Stalk It their official snowboard partner for the 2014-2015 season.

Stalk It's most recent demo day at Telluride, Colorado, in February.

Stalk It’s most recent demo day at Telluride, Colorado, in February.

In February, while visiting Telluride, I became aware of Stalk It and Segerstrom’s innovative strategies of fighting climate change. Since then, I have interviewed Larry Neihaus, Telluride’s regional ski representative. An excited Neihaus talks about Stalk It’s 2015 season’s skis, “We researched the industry and came up with what we thought were the best designs that could most benefit from out corn board technology. I believe we’ve come up with a design that skiers and snowboarders are going to love.” Stalk It introduced three skis to the market this season; a power specific ski, an all-mountain ski, and a park specific ski. Neihaus had a heavy influence while designing these skis. While some people were skeptical about a corn board base, Stalk It and Neihaus are so confident in their design, the imposed a life time guarantee on Stalk It skis.

Neihaus and Segerstrom are important in today’s winter sport culture because of their sustainability initiative. It’s easy to ski at a mountain resort all day and feel as if you are in the wilderness. In all reality, skiing is more eco-friendly than some sports, such as NASCAR, but you have to take into consideration a commute to the resort, multiple chairlifts running all day long throughout the mountain, and cut down trees to create trails. It’s up to us to follow in Neihaus’ and Segerstrom’s footsteps and look for opportunities to lengthen the ski season. To learn more and get involved visit Protect Our Winters.

Contact Information: Larry Neihaus: (970) 708-4321

Reporting on the ‘Superbug’ Through Different Media: Print, Broadcast, and Online Journalism

The ‘superbug’ break out in Los Angeles has medical and news corporations looking for a cause. Some say it’s a medical reusable device and others say it’s due to a bacteria resistant to antibiotics and therefore very difficult to cure. According to the Huffington Post, Time Magazine, and National Public Radio, it could be a combination of a harmful bacteria and the medical device spreading the bacteria. Looking into the situation I compared an online resource, the Huffington Post, a printed resource, Time Magazine, and a broadcast resource, National Public Radio. The Huffington Post took a more accusatory angle while Time Magazine and National Public radio took similar approaches that spoke to the science behind the bacteria of the ‘superbug.’ With two dead and maybe 100, 179, or 200 (according to different sources) exposed to the ‘superbug’ it is crucial to be properly informed by the press.

The Huffington Post stated two deaths caused by the ‘superbug’ and approximately 179 patients exposed to the ‘superbug’ bacteria. It’s headline read FDA Knew Fatal ‘Superbug’ Could Spread, Yet Didn’t Recommend Fix. In just a short headline, the Huffington Post has put the blame on the government, especially the FDA. The Huffington Post claims the FDA was fully aware of the ‘superbug’ since 2009 but in over five years, hasn’t put any safety regulations in place. This is a prime example of journalism holding the government responsible and informing the general public, however, the FDA was not the only blamed. The article went along to talk about what was potentially causing the spread of this ‘superbug’ and their verdict was reusable medical devices called duodenscopes. These duodenscopes are said to spread the bacteria patient to patient when they are reused. The duodenscopes are created and sold to the United States by Japan, The Huffington Post accused a Japanese company, Olympus Corp, for not enforcing stricter, more sanitary, safety precautions.

Time Magazine and National Public Radio’s stated that two died and the ‘superbug’ may have been a contributing factor. This contrast’s from the Huffington Post because the Post blamed the death solely on the ‘superbug.’ Times Magazine and National Public Radio also talked about seven other patients infected with the ‘superbug’ which the Huffington Post failed to mention. Time Magazine reported “more than 100 exposed to ‘superbug’ in their headline UCLA says more than 100 may have encountered ‘Superbug.’” National Public Radio reported”almost 200 people exposed to the ‘Superbug.’ While the Huffington Post looked for someone to blame Time Magazine and National Public Radio took a more scientific approach. They talked about how the bacteria called ‘superbug’ was very similar to CRE (Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae) which has strains that are resistant to antibiotics and therefore very difficult to treat. Time Magazine and National Public Radio said CRE was transmitted through endoscopes. A duodenscope is a type of endoscope. Here is an instance where an online, broadcast, and print resource all reported the same fact. National Public Radio talked about CRE further and stated CRE can contribute to death in half of seriously infected patients. This is not as relevant as the rest of the story and it may scare the public.

After comparing each of these sites, I would most likely trust Time Magazine. Time Magazine had the most relevant and correct and reoccurring facts when comparing it to other sources. I wondered if this had to do with release dates, but it turns out Time Magazine’s article was released on February 18th, as opposed to Huffington Post’s article and National Public Radio’s broadcast that was released on February 19th. After comparing and contrasting three news sources, it is clear that each media corporation has their own way of attracting readers; the Huffington Post finds a reason for the news event, National Public Radio uses ethos, and Time Magazine uses facts and quality writing.

Freedom to Speak, or Not to Speak

After discussing the Charlie Hebdo attack and the controversy around freedom of speech, Marshawn Lynch caught my attention because of his lack of speech. Marshawn Lynch, a running back for the Seattle Seahawks and technically an NFL employee, refuses to speak to the media and has been fined for his actions. The Charlie Hebdo magazine exercised their freedom of speech and was brutally punished. Marshawn Lynch has done the opposite; he refuses to interact with the media yet he was fined $50,000 dollars for his 2013 season, and another $50,000 for his 2014 season. The big question is: should Marshawn Lynch be fined for not talking to the media?

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Marshawn Lynch briefly speaking to the press on January 27th, 2015.

The Seattle Seahawks played the New England Patriots in the 49th Super Bowl on February 1st, in Arizona, and countless media days took place leading up to the football event of the year. In Marshawn Lynch’s most recent encounter with the media, Tuesday, January 27th, Lynch answered every question with, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” This act has been widely talked about and considered controversial. He said one thing that differed from this line, “I don’t know what kind of story you’re trying to get out of me or what image y’all trying to portray of me but it don’t matter what y’all think, [or] say about me because when I go home at night, the people that I look in the face, my family that I love, thats all that really matters to me.” In an exclusive interview with Jeffri Chadihi, Lynch explains he will not talk to the media because he does not trust them.

Marshawn Lynch critics argue that it is in Lynch’s contract with the Seattle Seahawks and the NFL. Although it may be stated in his contract, is it really fair to make him speak against his will? Stephen A. Smith argues that when Marshawn Lynch doesn’t speak, it’s disobeying the NFL’s rules and that is the equivalent of opening Pandora’s box. Essentially, if you make the exception for one NFL player, the entire rule is in jeopardy. Skip Bayless, another Lynch critic says Marshawn Lynch is actually denying his fans the right to know him and his personality. Eager to know if this was realistic, I interviewed Hanae Reith, a Seattle native and die hard Seahwaks fan, “I feel connected to the players whether or not they respond to the press…he fears he will say something wrong and be ridiculed the same way Sherman has. I don’t believe anyone should speak to the media if they don’t want to. Marshawn connects to his fans through social media and at the games.” Hanae concluded with, “Football isn’t about the press, it’s about the game.”

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Marshawn Lynch pounding his way through the Minnesota Vikins’ defense during the 2012 season.

Marshawn Lynch supporters question why the NFL has taken this rule so seriously when it has potentially turned a blind eye at other contract breaking incidents, like the Ray Rice scandal. Supporters would say, the NFL is so intent on forcing Marshawn Lynch to speak because more media is more money for the NFL. Pete Carroll has talked about what a team player Marshawn Lynch is and how he would never do anything to hurt the team. In addition to this praise, Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks corner back, said “Marshawn Lynch is a wise man.” If Marshawn Lynch is a passionate player, who loves the game, should the NFL force him to speak to the media? If freedom of speech is a basic human right, then should freedom of silence be a basic human right as well?

contact: Hanae Reith, Hanae.Reith@colorado.edu

Speed Skating to Speed Skiing: Brian Hansen

The first time I met Brian Hansen was in September, in the weight room of the recreation center. He was in incredible shape; strong, powerful, and sturdy. It was obvious he knew what he was doing and he was used to a regiment of working out. A regiment that lead him to the winter olympic games. Twice.

Brian Hansen is a sophomore of the University of Colorado Boulder, Leeds School of Business. He’s 6’0’’ and weighs 181lb. When I introduced myself to Brain, he left a very humble impression on me. Once Brian was out of ear shot, my coach explained to me how he competed at the 2014 Sochi Olympic games and the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, where he won a silver medal in the men’s speed skating team pursuit. Astonished, I asked why he was joining the ski team. My coach replied how he was eager to learn how to ski and joining a team was the best way to do so.

Brian Hansen competing in the men’s speed skating 1500 m final on day 9 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

Not even five months later, Brian is carving turns down difficult terrain, and through race courses. Anyone who didn’t know Brian would assume he started skiing at age two – like the majority of his competitors – when in reality, he started skiing in October of 2014. Since he recently started skiing, Brian is one of the last racers to take their turn on the course. In ski racing it’s called, “attacking from the back.” Attacking from the back and being an underdog is not a new thing for Brian Hansen. In the 2010 Vancouver games, the men’s Dutch ski team was a heavy favorite, yet a 19 year-old Brian Hansen and team pulled through the upset the Dutch and make it to the final round, “When we beat the Dutch, I crossed the [finish] line like 98 percent sure we lost, and I looked at the score board and I think we were all pretty shocked.” Brian explained this to me when I asked him what it was like to win an olympic medal. Brian’s team went on to race Canada for the gold medal and lost by two tenths of a second which isn’t much in a three minutes and 42 second race.

Brian Hansen competing in the first race of the 2014-2015 season, at Winter Park, Colorado.

With Brian’s transition from speed skating to skiing still amazing me, I inquired about a correlation between the two, Brain said, “I think [being a talented speed skater has helped me be a talented skier]. I don’t think there has ever been a really high level speed skater who has switched over to skiing or who has tried both at least…I’m a pioneer.” Brian says ski racing is, “more about just seeing if I could get good and have fun with it.” Brian is a good ski racer who has improved from day to day and according to Brian, “skiing is a lot of fun.” I’m eager to follow Brian’s remainder of ski season and his never ending success story.

Contact information: Brian Hansen, brian.hansen@colorado.edu