Relationships across party lines are not always easy in election year

Sami Morsink grew up in a “very liberal” family. She is “adamant” about animal rights, environmental protection and equality. She also has a boyfriend who is voting for Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Morsink, who said she cast her ballot for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, has been dating Connor Lewis for three years. Their partisan differences do cause rifts in their relationship at times, Morsink said.

“I get very heated about (politics) very quickly,” Morsink, a freshman studying journalism, said. “I try to make a point, and it’ll blow up into a whole argument just because he’s (politically) so far right. … I can’t really get where he’s coming from on a lot of things.”

Although the couple tries to avoid discussing politics, it becomes difficult during election season, Lewis, a junior studying computer science and film at the University of Texas, said.

“Even just seeing news come up about one of the two (candidates) will spark conversation between us, and sometimes it’ll escalate and get heated,” Lewis said. “The closer it gets to the election, the harder it’s been to put those things past us.”

Respect for the other person’s opinion is key to maintaining a healthy relationship, Morsink said.

“If I don’t agree with it, I can still respect his opinion,” Morsink said. “If you are so far one way and you can’t even understand or listen to what someone’s going to say, it’s probably not going to work.”

Johnathen Sweeney, a freshman studying journalism, said he would not consider dating or being friends with a Trump supporter.

“I see some of the things Trump does and has said about people, and I just can’t,” Sweeney said. “When I hear about the things he’s said about women, minorities, (people with) disabilities, Muslims — that’s a degrading way to think about other people. To support that, even if you don’t support those specific things, you’re still supporting his aura.”

Personal relationships between people of different parties can be difficult at times during the election, Sweeney said.

Political differences should not be a reason to end a friendship or relationship, Bailey Williams, a freshman studying political science, said. Williams, a member of Ohio University College Democrats and a Clinton supporter, has a close friendship with a Trump supporter.

“It’s been hard because we butt heads a lot, but I’ve learned you’ve got to have patience because you don’t want to lose a friend over something like this,” Williams said. “Even though I’m very passionate about politics as a poli-sci major, you have to be patient. The best you can do is try to articulate your viewpoint the best you can without being condescending.”

The best way to maintain those relationships is to try to understand the other person’s side and reserve judgment, Williams said.

“For Trump people, I know there’s a huge stereotype with them that they’re racist, misogynist, whatever, but that’s not the case,” he said. “A lot of people are supporting Trump because they’re supporting the Republican (nominee). People voting for Trump should not be looked at as Trump themselves. I think Trump is a very disgusting person, but that doesn’t mean the people who are voting for him are.”

Politics are not the most important thing in a relationship, Lewis said.

“We’ve gotten through it, so I would suggest to people not to let political differences get in the way of a relationship you really care about because there are much more important things,” he said.


Published for The Post on November 7, 2016. To appear in print in the 2016 Election tabloid on November 9, 2016.

Hormonal birth control could be linked to depression in some women

Reproductive-aged women use hormonal birth control methods for reasons that extend far beyond preventing pregnancy — from regulating menstruation to reducing the pain and flow associated with periods — but new research shows those methods can also have an effect on a person’s emotional well-being.

There is a 40 percent increased risk of developing depression after using hormonal contraceptives for six months, according to a study published in the American Medical Association’s psychiatric journal.The study took place from 2000 to 2013, analyzing more than a million women ages 15 to 34, excluding women with psychiatric diagnoses prior to 2000.

Sue Campbell, a certified nurse midwife at the Holzer Health System on East State Street, said that the age group is already at risk for depression.

“The one thing to keep in mind is that the group of people that utilize hormonal birth control is at a point where there’s a lot of angst in their lives, so they’re prime for having depression symptoms,” Campbell said.

Depo-Provera, a hormonal birth control shot administered once every three months, can provoke more depression symptoms because it comes in larger doses, Campbell said.

Niara Stitt, a senior studying political science pre-law, experienced that firsthand after being on Depo-Provera for about two years in an attempt to combat painful cramps. In addition to physical symptoms, such as dizziness and an irregular menstruation cycle that caused low iron levels, Stitt fell into depression.

“I don’t know for a fact if that’s the reason, but the year that I struggled with depression was the year I was on Depo-Provera,” Stitt said. “That might’ve been an added element that made it a little worse.”

Stitt later switched to the pill, which has a lower hormonal dose, and said she is significantly happier.

Abbie Zehentbauer, a freshman studying political science pre-law, first noticed depression symptoms in sixth grade, the same year she began taking the pill to regulate her heavy flow.

“I’m very moody and angry a lot of the times,” Zehentbauer said. “It’s all I’ve ever known at this point.”

Though there are negative effects of hormonal birth control, Campbell said a lot of good can come from it.

“(The Holzer Health System) uses birth control methods for treating irregular cycles, treating polycystic ovarian syndrome and preventing pregnancy,” Campbell said. “Every medication has a side effect.”

Sometimes, however, Zehentbauer said the side effects can be crippling in everyday life.

Still, she said she is not likely to wane off of birth control anytime soon.

“I don’t want to worry about getting pregnant and it being the end of the world for me,” she said. “I’d rather live the way that I’ve lived for the past seven years than worry about having to raise a child.”

For women who are sexually active and want to explore other birth control methods, there are other options such as an Intrauterine Device, commonly known as an IUD, Campbell said, although some IUDs still release hormones.

“I would definitely consider (having an IUD) because there’s flexibility,” Stitt said. “You can choose how long you want the IUD to last, which is really great for some women.”

After hearing about the study linking depression and birth control, Zehentbauer said she will consider possible non-hormonal alternatives.

“I would consider going off the pill,” Zehentbauer said. “I’m going to start thinking about it more after hearing about the research.”


Originally published for The Post on October 19, 2016. Appeared in print on October 20, 2016.

Ohio University alumnus looking to find home for late college sweetheart’s hobby

OU alum James E. Guyette is looking for a place to display miniatures made by his late wife, Jill Costa, who passed away in September. (Provided via James E. Guyette)

Ohio University alumnus James E. Guyette was chatting with friends in Swanky’s, an Uptown Athens bar, in 1979 when he said he saw the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. After approaching Jill Costa on the dance floor, he soon forgot all about his friends.

Their 37-year courtship came to an end on Sept. 18, when Costa passed away at age 59 after a battle with cardiac arrest following months of a growing tumor in her lung.

In an effort to honor the memory of his college sweetheart, Guyette, who graduated with a degree in journalism in 1977, is searching for a Southeastern Ohio museum or art gallery to display Costa’s unique hobby: miniature scenes.

Costa first became intrigued by miniatures to bond with Guyette’s mother.

James E. Guyette and his late wife, Jill Costa pose for a photo. (Provided via James E. Guyette)

“Upon visiting my family home in South Euclid, Ohio, Jill thought the miniatures were really cool,” Guyette, a former Post reporter and copy editor, said. “She thought it was something her and my mom could work on together. Jill embraced the hobby as her own.”

Costa not only used miniatures to connect with her family’s past, such as recreating a scale model of her grandfather’s bar in Youngstown, but also to display the historical significance of industry in Southeastern Ohio. Costa made scenes modeled after coal mines and the brick plant in Nelsonville, where she lived.“Southeastern Ohio was very known for its coal mining industry,” Guyette said. “Jill’s hometown was close to the Hocking River, and a lot of what was left of the railroad from coal-mining was in her hometown.”

Costa used objects she found at flea markets and train shows to create scenes, such as a miniature Tiki bar made primarily of reworked manger from a Nativity scene. Her imagination is what made Costa’s work so impressive, Guyette said.

“I like the creativity that Jill put into designing and building these things,” Guyette said. “She would gather all the pieces and parts and alter them and do some deep thinking to fit them into the display and figure out how to put everything in context.”

Guyette has enlisted other people in his quest to find the miniatures a home.

Ann Addington, OU’s Assistant Director for Health Promotion, met Costa through community meetings held by the Collegiate Recovery Community. She was one of the first community members to enroll in the SMART Recovery group to have discussions with students and other local citizens.

After Costa’s death, Guyette, whom Addington had never met, got in touch with her about his plan to memorialize Costa.

“After she passed, her boyfriend contacted me and asked if there was anyone I knew to preserve those miniatures she made,” Addington said. “I knew a few people in Nelsonville (and) started contacting people.”

Because of the strong ties Costa’s work has to Southeastern Ohio, Addington said •Appalachian communities can benefit from the miniatures.

“Some of them are really representative of Appalachia,” Addington said. “She captures some of the history of Nelsonville, Southeastern Ohio and Appalachia.”

In addition to Costa’s historical contribution, she made an impact in the OU medical school. Costa studied nursing at Hocking College so donating her body to science seemed logical to her, Guyette said, even though it surprised him at first.

“Jill was a very generous soul,” Guyette said. “She was very proud of what she had done because she felt she was sparing her family any difficulty in arranging a burial space. She felt she was benefitting society by having other students learn from her death.”

Macy Kuhar, a sophomore studying pre-nursing, is reaping the benefits of Costa’s generous donation. Her father, OU alumnus Mark Kuhar, is a friend and former colleague of Guyette.

“With anatomy, it’s one thing to read about it in a book or to dissect an animal,” Kuhar said, “but to have a cadaver and to be able to see the things you learn about come to life, that’s pretty valuable for someone who is going to be in the medical profession.”

Through her life and death, Costa made an impact on so many people’s lives, Guyette said.

“I’m hoping Jill’s legacy can live on forever because of all the good times we experienced over many years,” Guyette said. “With the time and efforts Jill put into her miniatures, I think that’s an accomplishment that should live on forever. It’s wonderful that Jill’s contributions to medical science might live on forever.”


Originally published for The Post on October 12, 2016. To appear in the print tabloid on October 13, 2016.

Ohio University alumnus to spend first year out of college driving Oscar Mayer Wienermobile

Isaac Wilker drives a giant hot dog for a living.

Wilker, a 2016 Ohio University alumnus who studied business administration in the Honors Tutorial College, is spending his first year out of college on a one-year assignment driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile across the southeast region of the United States.

Wilker began his quest for the driver’s seat of the 27-foot-long hot dog vehicle in 2015 at the beginning of his senior year. While on the internet, Wilker said he stumbled upon an alluring opportunity.

“I knew it was a job that was an option and was something I’d be interested in,” Wilker said. “I would be able to interact with different people from so many walks of life.”

From there, his interest grew and he started his application. His paperwork was wrapped in a packing tube decorated like a hot dog, accompanied by letters of recommendation with phrases such as, “Isaac works his buns off!”

David Averion, OU’s Manager of Real Estate Operations, was a former employer of Wilker’s that was entrusted with filling out a letter of recommendation chock full of frank-related jokes.

“He approached me right before Christmas of 2015,” Averion said. “He asked me for a recommendation and in that letter, he wanted hot dog puns.”

To his delight, Wilker was offered an interview in Madison, Wisconsin. He began each of his four interviews with a hot dog joke, and completed the interview process with singing the Oscar Mayer Wiener jingle.

Of the approximate 1,200 applicants who applied, Wilker was selected to fill one of the 12 open spots in the six vehicles. Wilker shares the Wienermobile with his driving partner, Rachel. He will be assigned a new partner in January.

“It didn’t surprise me because I knew he had everything that was needed,” Averion said. “Isaac represents everything that’s good about Ohio University. He is compassionate, diligent, committed, innovative.”

Since first revving up the engine in June, Wilker and his partner have racked up more than 12,000 miles on the road.

Each year, the six Wienermobiles receive an average of 9,000 appearance requests. Wilker has taken the vehicle to festivals, corporate events and store openings, to name a few.

Freshman Alexandra Wainwright studies business in HTC, just like Wilker had when he attended OU. She laughed when she found out an alumnus was driving the Wienermobile, but she said it makes sense from a business standpoint.

“That’s a really interesting way to do your job and at the same time, do what you love,” Wainwright said. “It’s a little weird, but from a business perspective, that does give him good marketing skills. If that’s what he’s passionate about, that’s pretty cool.”

Wilker worked several jobs in college, including driving buses around campus, allowing him to graduate debt-free. Because of that, Wilker said he didn’t feel any financial pressure to look for a conventional job right after graduation.

“It’s something that money can’t provide,” Wilker said. “It’s important to be financially sound, but beyond that, it’s important to be that support for people and put smiles on their faces.”


Originally published for The Post on September 27, 2016.

Historic Mason building played key role in World War II

Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor

‘A Voice from America’


The Bethany Relay Station was commissioned in 1944 to combat Nazi propaganda. Photo by Abbey Marshall.

“Here speaks a voice from America…We shall speak to you about America and the war. The news may be good, the news may be bad, but we will tell you the truth.”

These words were among the first broadcast to hit the radio waves from the Bethany Relay Station in West Chester to Europe in 1944.

Contrary to popular belief, Voice of America is more than a shopping center and scenic park; it is a historical landmark. Just off Tylersville Road is one of the three original radio stations in the country that legally utilized the most powerful short wave transmitters in the world to broadcast to Europe to combat Adolf Hitler’s propaganda, said former Voice of America employee David Snyder.

“The Nazis distorted everything on the radio,” Snyder said. “Everything had an anti-semitic message: ‘Jews are terrible. Jews are bad. Get rid of Jews.’ That was in everything they said.”

Although Americans paid little attention to the messages at the time, Snyder said, involvement in the war was sparked by the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“At the start of World War II, Germany had 68 radio transmitters and Japan had 42 radio transmitters and they were using high power and short wave communication,” Snyder said. “This country–they were regulated by law–wasn’t allowed to use any of the short wave broadcasters. This all came about pretty much at Pearl Harbor day. We knew we had to do something and we had to do something big.”

In response to the attack, President Theodore Roosevelt and newly appointed Coordinator of Information Nelson Rockefeller discovered a roundabout method to broadcast overseas. They conducted a secret meeting in Washington D.C. to discuss what the next steps would be. Out of that meeting, three contracts were constructed to build three short wave transmitting plant. Two of those plants were in California, one by NBC and one by CBS, and the third was by Crosley Broadcasting in Cincinnati.

“Crosley Manufacturing owned a big radio station,” Snyder said. “From 1922, they owed a little radio station, WLW, which grew and grew and grew and finally wound up out here in Mason. They wanted a place that was close to Mason. They were able to buy five farms here and build the short wave station here.”

The Bethany Relay Station’s purpose was to inform the general public in Germany. Hitler’s second hand man, Joseph Goebbels, made the statement that radio would be to the twentieth century what the printing press was to the nineteenth. He developed the idea for a subsidized radio receiver. The Third Reich would pay three quarters of the cost to make the equipment more affordable for the common people in order to relay propaganda messages. By 1938, every other household in Germany had a Volksempfänger, or people’s radio.

“It was built for one purpose: to listen to the local stations,” Snyder said. “It was not built to listen to stations outside the country…If you attached a long wire, you could hear London or Moscow, but you were careful to conceal that wire under the woodwork and up through the attic because you didn’t want that discovered. If the word got out that you knew something, the Gestapo would come knocking on your door.”

At the time, the WLW tower standing erect in Mason emitted a whopping 500,000 watts in order to reach Europe. As a result, Hitler was able to pinpoint the origin of the American broadcasts.

“In 1944, Hitler knew where those strong radio signals were coming from, so he called us ‘those Cincinnati liars’,” Snyder said.

As a result of changing technology, the station was decommissioned and closed in November 1994. After the towers were brought down in the following years, West Chester received nearly 500 acres and the history building. The building is currently a museum under renovations to become more developed, Snyder said.

Visitors can attend the museum once a month. They are able to take a walk through the timeline of radio, analyze the nuts and bolts behind the transmitters, stroll through the wall of fame of the movie and television stars who got their start in Cincinnati radio, and watch a 17 minute film created by George Clooney’s father, Nick Clooney. Snyder said, however, the project is far from finished. The next fundraiser will be a musical program by Middletown Symphony and Cincinnati Ballet Orchestra director Carmon Deleon on June 4 in order to fund handicapped accessible restrooms and a new entrance.

Snyder said he believes people not only in Mason, but all over the world should be informed about the importance radio stations played in World War II.

“We don’t want Hitler ever again,” Snyder said. “We don’t want that kind of thing to happen in our world. That’s why we study history. This was so important during World War II…This was before television; this was before the Internet. This was how people got their information. People listened to the radio. This was such an important part of history because for once, the government could really combat Hitler’s propaganda.”


The control room of Bethany Relay Station was referred to as “The Temple of Radio”. Photo by Abbey Marshall.

Originally published in The Chronicle on May 13, 2016.

Teens take extreme measures to combat acne

Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor

Acne is a teenage nightmare: an undesirable side effect of puberty. Students attempt to combat their oily skin in a variety of ways, but when all else fails, some are turning to cure it at its source.

Accutane was an oral drug approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 1982, originally marketed as a chemotherapy. The intended use shifted once it was discovered to clear the skin of severe nodular cystic acne, however, severe side effects came alongside the drug. In 1984, the FDA required a “black box” warning for Accutane, citing the risk for fetal deformation. After decades of medical reports and studies analyzing the links between Accutane and severe side effects, as well as lawsuits, Accutane was discontinued in 2009. Generic brands of the medication, such as Isotretinoin, are still available.

Common side effects of Isotretinoin include dry skin, itching, rash, nosebleeds, dry mouth, peeling skin, inflammation, dry eyes, joint pain, dizziness, nervousness, and many more. In addition to these more common, primarily topical side effects, more severe conditions include depression, irritability, changes in weight, loss of interest in activities, and fetal deformities for females who become pregnant.

Despite all the risks, senior Carly Schmidt decided it was worth it. Schmidt said her acne affected her self-confidence and sheScreen Shot 2016-03-07 at 11.41.14 AM was ready to make a change.

“I had really bad acne on my chest and back,” Schmidt said. “I wouldn’t wear swimsuits. I would always wear shirts all the way up to my neck. I wouldn’t want to show it.”

Low self-esteem of patients with nodular cystic acne is a common driving force for seeking out Isotretinoin, said  Dr. Elizabeth Muennich of Dermatology and Skin Care.

“Severe nodular cystic acne can be very disabling,” Muennich said. “It is an independent risk factor for suicide. People have killed themselves over their skin. You can see that patients who are oftentimes broken out, they’re clinically depressed. It’s a very affecting disease. They don’t want to go to school, they don’t want to go out with their friends.”

Muennich said the process of getting on Isotretinoin is grueling and only a select few are eligible for the drug.

“First, you have to fail all other conventional topical therapies,” Muennich said. “You also have to fail oral tetracycline or the oral antibiotics. Sometimes it’s a couple year process before we say, ‘Okay, there’s nothing else we can do for you. You need Accutane or Isotretinoin.’”

In addition to the extensive process, the drug comes at a steep cost, Muennich said.

“It’s not cheap,” Muennich said. “You have to come to the dermatologist every month, you have to pay for bloodwork every month. The pills themselves are expensive. They can be around $500 a month…You can see the bills just add up.”

Severe side effects are an ominous danger for those considering Isotretinoin. Schmidt said the fear of these is what scares people off, however, she only experienced minor effects.

accuate (1)

“There’s a lot of side effects with Accutane, so normally people don’t want to be on it because you could get depression,” Schmidt said. “The only symptoms I had was I had really dry lips, my skin was really dry, and I had a lot of nosebleeds.”

This common dryness of the skin, nose, etcetera is due to the drug turning off the oil gland at the site. As a result, the acne is not just treated, it’s cured.

“This is something I can cure,” Muennich said. “In medicine, when we treat things, we tend to be palliative. There aren’t very many cures in medicines, but Accutane is considered a cure.”

Depleting the body of vitamin A, however, poses a risk to those who are sexually active.

“You can’t have a baby grow without vitamin A,” Muennich said. “Vitamin A is a core vitamin…There’s a fundamental risk, so we just avoid it.”

To combat the potential risk of birth defects, the FDA requires women taking Isotretinoin to take part in the iPledge program in which they pledge to not become pregnant. In addition, females must be on two forms of birth control and take monthly pregnancy and blood tests.

Mental health is also a concern of those starting the drug. Since the development of Accutane in the ‘80s, medical analysts have drawn links between Accutane and depression. Muennich said, however, there might be more to the story than that.

“There’s a history of the whole suicide and Accutane risk, but now that they’ve fared it out that acne itself has an independent risk factor for suicide, they’re realizing this is more than just the Accutane,” Muennich said.

Many patients with depression are already seeing psychiatrists prior to going on Isotretinoin. Muennich said she works closely with their psychiatrists to make sure the patient is as happy and healthy as they can be.

“In terms of the mental health side effects, I do have some patients who are seeing psychiatrists for depression,” Muennich said. “I get a letter from their psychiatrists saying it’s okay to treat, and 100 percent of the time, they say, ‘Go ahead and treat’, because if I clear up their skin and make them a happier person on the exterior, they’re going to feel better on the interior…Our skin is what we project. If we have beautiful skin, we’re more confident and sometimes we’re happier.”

After the six month course is completed, the results are well worth it, said Schmidt.

“It was very worth it,” Schmidt said. “It’s a confidence thing. When you don’t have acne, you feel more confident about yourself. It really does help with your self esteem. Once it got all cleared up, I felt more confident about myself.”

Originally published in The Chronicle on March 11, 2016.

Ecohouse encourages students to practice sustainability

By Abbey Marshall and Matthew Marvar

Sustainability Specialist Sam Crowl is planting environmentally friendly habits into Ohio University students.

The Office of Sustainability was provided a grant in 2005 to kick-start an off-campus residence option for students committed to living efficiently with what nature has to offer.

Sam Crowl Solar PanelThe Ecohouse is equipped with a variety of features to assist students in their sustainable living. The solar panels situated near the house have dual purposes: to both heat the water unit and to sell energy back to American Electric Power to offset costs for the house. Students can also use natural heat and sunlight to dry clothes outside, collect rain in a barrel to water their plants and flush their toilets, throw away biodegradable materials into their compost piles, among other features.

Students interested in applying write essays on their commitment to sustainability. Three applicants are accepted to live in the house at one time. According to Crowl, typically these students are studying environmental science or related subjects, but there are other opportunities for underclassman who cannot yet live in the Ecohouse.

“Something really fortunate is that there are a series of new dorms being built on campus and there is going to be a sustainable living floor,” Crowl said. “Students will have the opportunity…to live on the sustainable living floor and learn a lot about the sustainability activities.”

Crowl said he hopes sustainable ideas carry over into the entire student body and their everyday lives.

“We do a lot of events throughout the school year on campus,” Crowl said. “Students see those, but hopefully, the sustainable living floor will really be a boost in students who are learning about sustainability, learning about behaviors, and we can begin to see that culture change throughout most of the student body.”



Originally published on on July 18, 2015.