Monthly Archives: April 2015

Students give opinions on 2016 presidential elections

Marsha Wood
Staff Writer

The race for the 2016 presidential candidacy in the United States has begun.

As of now, it’s a game of who’s running and who’s not. Officially running for the Democratic Party is U.S. Secretary of State, and former First Lady, Hillary Clinton. Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, have all announced their candidacy for the Republican Party.

It is apparent from the 2008 presidential election of President Barack Obama that young people have a voice. Young people came out in numbers to vote and participate in the 2008 presidential election. According to a survey, 48.5 percent of reported voters in 2008 were 18 to 24 years of age.

“I’m looking forward to the next candidates because I don’t see Hillary Clinton as a good candidate for the Democratic Party,” said Patrick Naranjo, a freshman at the University of West Florida.

Right now, presidential hopefuls are in the primary phase of the election process. The primary phase is considered the most important part of the road to presidency.

The primary phase is a way of narrowing down the possible candidates. As of right now, Hillary Clinton is a favorite among many to win the Democratic nomination.

While many have opinions on the upcoming elections, some have none.

“I think our economy needs decades to recover from what Obama has done, Hillary will be no help and just dig us deeper,” said Amber Marcanio, a senior at UWF.

McBurney takes place as SGA president

Screen shot 2015-04-22 at 2.01.19 PM

Daniel McBurney and Jake Hebert’s campaign poster for the SGA elections.
Photo from the McBurneyHebert15 Instagram account

Kenneth King
Staff Writer

Daniel McBurney, former University Outreach Chairman for the Student Government Association, won the vote to become the new president of the University of West Florida student body.

Former Senate President, Jacob Hebert, was elected vice president.

McBurney’s strategy to win was to focus on obtainable outcomes, rather than unfeasible goals.

“One of the biggest reasons I think we were so successful, and it’s something that students specifically told us, is that they thought that our platform was something that was realistic and feasible,” McBurney said. “Something that students can trust.”

Hebert seconded McBurney’s focus on what he believed to be realistic goals, as opposed to goals proposed by the adversary party.

“Some of their programs are ones that we tried before and it’s hard to fund everything with budget cuts,” Hebert said. “I think that we all agree that nothing that the parties in the campaign brought up was a bad idea. It’s just a matter of where our personal priorities are for student life, and our priorities are in academics and sustaining the things that have been successful in the past.”

Reaching out to diverse groups of the UWF community was a key factor for newly elected chief of staff, Kishane Patel.

“I feel like the campaign we had was involved in every angel of the school,” Patel said. “We have the residence halls, someone in Greek life, commuter students, we have freshman students, and I feel that freshmen students are underrepresented. I think that the team we created helped to reach out to every student possible to make sure that every student’s voice is being heard.”

Hebert added to Patel’s statements on university involvement.

“I think we visited more than half of the Greek organizations and we visited over 20 student organizations and just talked to them personally and really listened to what they had to say,” Hebert said.

McBurney shared his vision of the future SGA, specifically concerning increased communications between the SGA and the student body.

“One of my big endeavors that I really want to see out of my cabinet is a revamping of the communication department so when we are doing things, and when there are issues that students need to know about—dates, events, different things like that, students know about those,” McBurney said.

McBurney and Hebert outpolled their opponents Carlos Sosa, the former chief of staff and senator, Jonas Griego, 980 to 522.

Voter turnout for the 2015 SGA presidential elections exceeded last year’s by 185 votes.

More information about election results can be found here.

UWF students weigh in on football merchandise

Mike Piro
Staff Writer

The University of West Florida bookstore announced that it began selling UWF football merchandise last Wednesday, April 8.

Merchandise for sale includes T-shirts, mugs, baby clothes, hats, plastic foam footballs, mini footballs and water bottles.

The most expensive item is a UWF football hat which is $24. Men’s and women’s T-shirts are available with a selection of prints to choose from and range from $18-$20.

In a survey given to 20 random students around campus, half of them said they were unaware that the new items were being sold at the bookstore.

Twelve of the surveys stated that the merchandise will increase school spirit or have a positive impact on generating excitement for the 2016 season.

“Once people start seeing others wearing it they’ll start feeling amped and might want to buy some merchandise too,” Matt O’Rear, an exercise science major, said.

Five students felt the merchandise was overpriced at the bookstore, but some were still willing to make purchases despite the price.

“I like the style, but like everything in the bookstore it’s a little pricey,” Tamara Colom, a psychology major, said.

“The style could be better, it’s not very cute,” said Maryglynis McCoy, a student who plans to purchase some of the new football apparel.

One student thought that the addition of a new sport will increase the price of tuition, so those who don’t care for sports will suffer.

“It’s just more money to give to UWF,” Stephen Echsner, a non-degree seeking student, said.

12 students said in the survey they will not be purchasing any of the new football merchandise from the bookstore, while four students have not decided if they will make a purchase or not.

“I maybe might make a purchase,” Mihir Patel, a computer engineering major, said. “I think there is a wide variety.”

Mckenna Hereford, a counseling graduate student, used the survey to state how she feels about how the football team receives funding.

“I have a problem with the President taking funding from other places that students pay for and then cutting funding from many other areas that need it; like graduate assistantships, building maintenance, etc.” Hereford said in the survey.

“Current student needs such funding and basic equipment should come first.”

Dave Scott gains national recognition

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of UWF Athletic Department

Alisa Festagallo
Staff Writer

UWF Athletic Director Dave Scott has been an integral member of the university for 25 years.

During his seven years as athletic director, Scott has been a part of many notable accomplishments.

The membership of the Argonaut Athletic Club booster group has more than quadrupled from 150 to over 700. UWF has earned 122 Gulf South Conference All-Academic Team selections. The university’s all-time GSC championships have increased to 79 – a conference record.

“Having the opportunity to work at a college campus was very exciting for me,” Scott said. “I didn’t plan to stay this long, but I have been able to grow up with the university.”

Scott started his term as athletic director in May 2008. Prior to that, he worked as business manager for the athletic department and director of recreation at UWF.

When the former athletic director at UWF retired, Scott took his place for the interim until the next hiring cycle. Or so he thought.

“I thought I would only be there for a year, but then I decided to apply for the job permanently and ended up getting it,” Scott said. “I was on the outside looking in for a while, so I came into the job knowing the things I wanted to change.”

Scott said he felt like the school’s athletics had been separated from the rest of campus and wanted to work on engaging the student athletes and faculty members.

“Everyone just did their job,” Scott said. “We did very good things in athletics and we wanted to share that with the rest of the students on campus.”

So, under Scott’s leadership the athletic department worked on changing the brand of UWF. They came up with the slogan “Building Champions for Life.”

“This slogan represented a vision that I wanted everyone to buy into,” Scott said.

Scott said he wanted to help make the student athletics environment into more of an academic environment as well.

“We want student athletes to come in and play for us and give them opportunities to go out into the real world and represent our institution in a great way,” Scott said.

Scott said that job corporations love student athletes because they are able to take criticism and coaching without falling apart.

“Being a student athlete means you can take the criticism from your coach and improve,” Scott said. “The athletes will be more competitive in the job market, have good work ethics and be better people.”

Scott said that helping these student athletes graduate and become successful is part of the everyday routine.

“Some days are overwhelming, but some days I will get news of a UWF graduate getting a big job somewhere and that’s what makes it fun for me,” Scott said.

Scott has been able to bring a lot of success to UWF but he has got some criticism the last few months with the new football program being brought to UWF.

“I think every institution is going to have people that are welcoming to change and some that are not,” Scott said. “But what’s important is that with growth, comes an opportunity for change.”

Scott said he wants the university to get to the next level and that he thinks our education is getting ready for a change.

“I think that there are people that want this institution to stay the way it is and never grow, but as higher education changes, so will athletics,” Scott said.

Scott’s hard work and perseverance have not only brought UWF success, but has given him and the athletics organization national recognition over the past year.

Scott was one of four NCAA Division II winners of the Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year award. He was recognized by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) this past summer in Orlando, Florida.

“I wouldn’t have won this award if it weren’t for our student athletes,” Scott said. “You are only as strong as the people that you have.”

Scott was also given a Special Achievement Award for the accomplishment at the COX PSA Annual Awards Banquet on Mar. 18 at the Sander Beach Community Center.

“This award means that I was recognized by my peers [and] that we do a good job here at UWF,” Scott said. “We are an organization that strives for excellence and it feels good to know that we are top four in the country.”

Students take home awards at Student Org Bash

Kaitlin Englund
Staff Writer

Students gathered for free food, games and awards Thursday night during the Student Org Bash in the University of West Florida Galley.

The Student Org Bash, hosted by the student organizations office, is a yearly event held to recognize outstanding achievement within the student organizations on campus.

Student organizations and individuals had the opportunity to apply for awards ranging from Outstanding Member of the Year to Organization of the Year.

The UWF Student Organizations Graduate Assistant, Ashton Hartley, presented the awards for both individuals and organizations at the Student Org Bash for the 2014-2015 school year.

The individual awards were as follows: Advisor of the Year was awarded to John Batchelor, Outstanding Member of the Year went to Anthony Noll from The Honor’s Council, Member of the year was awarded to Jasmine Lee from Student CEO, Outstanding Officer of the Year was given to Michelle Sims from the American Medical Student Association, and Officer of the Year was awarded to Zachary Gray from the Criminal Justice Student Association.

The organization awards presented were Service Project of the Year, which was awarded to the Criminal Justice Student Association, Event of the Year, awarded to The Latter Day Saints Student Organization, the Breakout Student Organization of the Year, awarded to The Women’s Studies Collective, Outstanding Organization of the Year, awarded to the Collegiate 100, and Organization of the Year, awarded to Baptist Collegiate Ministries.

This was the second year in a row that Baptist Collegiate Ministries was awarded Organization of the Year and the Student Org Bash.

Baptist Collegiate Ministries was recognized for their 6th annual volleyball tournament, as well as for their collaboration with the Argo Swing Club to host an event called Swing Thing, a night of free food and swing-dancing lessons, among their other involvement on campus.

For more information on student organization awards and involvement on campus, contact Ben Stubbs at or Ashton Hartley at

Blake Riley conducts last performance with University Singers

Professor Blake Riley conducts the University Singers before their concert on Tuesday.Photo by Sydney O'Gwynn

Professor Blake Riley conducts the University Singers before their concert on Tuesday.
Photo by Sydney O’Gwynn

Sydney O’Gwynn
Staff Writer

Blake Riley conducted his last performance as choir director for the University Singers on Tuesday, April 14 in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts.

Riley has been the director of the University Singers for five and a half years. He is also a teacher of diction in the music department and a faculty pianist.

“We can’t describe the joy and inspiration you bring us every day in choir,” soprano Rebekah Pyle said as she addressed the crowd following the performance. “We wanted to say thank you.”

The students presented Riley with a present following the concert to show their gratitude for their teacher.

“I have learned a tremendous amount during my 5 and a half years as director of the Singers,” Riley said in an email. “I continue to learn daily.”

The first song was a Latin piece called “Pange Lingua.” Before the song began, the text from the song was read aloud and then translated in English. Bass Charles York read the Latin text while alto Gwendolyn Hernandez read the translation.

Bass Easton Ellenberg recited a passage before the song “Farewell.”

There was also a Cuban folk song that had Spanish translation read aloud. Daniel Thomas, who is the choir’s accompanist, read the Spanish text while soprano Renée Richardson read the translation.

“Since I am the accompanist, it’s a different experience than if I were singing,” Thomas said when reflecting on his time in Singers. He said he has learned many things through being in Singers, including group work, discipline and enjoying the music.

“My favorite piece would have to be ‘Farewell’, because it’s a slow piece in a major key,” Thomas said. “Plus, the lyrics are great.”

The choir also sang Toto’s 1982 hit song “Africa.”

“It is a very fun piece but also very technically challenging,” soprano Stormy Robbins said about “Africa.” “You kind of get the best of both worlds.”

This is Robbin’s first year in the University Singers.

“In Singers, everyone is so accepting and so friendly,” she said. “Being around people who have the same passion as you is really great.”

The Singers also teamed up with the Chamber music class in the music department, which is taught by Dr. Hedi Salanki. The Chamber music class performed two songs, “An Evening Hymn” and “Ritornelle I-II in G minor.” Performers included tenor Daniel Kern, violinists Ramel Price and Eunji Tuttle, double bassist Marcus Baker and harpsichordist Nyasha Brice.

The final song of the night was Brian Tate’s “We are One.”

“I want the audience to be uplifted by the music,” Riley said. “There are many beautiful and joyous pieces on the program that can’t help but lift one’s spirits. But, our program also has a serious yet hopeful message for these polarizing times of race, religion and politics.

“I hope that students have learned a love of singing and a great respect for music and words,” Riley said. “I’ve always tried to inspire them to seek and express every ounce of meaning from the musical score.”

WeatherSTEM donated to UWF

Photo courtesy of UWF Newsroom

Photo courtesy of UWF Newsroom

Alisa Festagallo
Staff Writer

WeatherSTEM, a weather network for schools in the county, was brought to the University of West Florida John C. Pace library on April 7.

WeatherSTEM is a platform created by Edward Mansouri, meteorologist and education software developer. Mansouri decided to donate one station to each county in Florida.

There are 67 counties in Florida and 25 of those counties have a WeatherSTEM unit. In order for sites to have the WeatherSTEM unit for their county they must either nominate themselves or be nominated by someone.

Cheyenna Novotny, UWF alumni, nominated UWF to receive the unit for Pensacola. She is also an employee of WeatherSTEM where she writes the curriculum and lessons that students will use in the classroom from the data they retrieve from WeatherSTEM.

“We have a WeatherSTEM unit in Miami as our southernmost one and I really wanted UWF to have the most western unit in Florida,” Novotny said.

Novotny said she doesn’t think that the relationship between k-12 schools and big universities are tapped into enough.

WeatherSTEM allows students to do their own science instead of it being spoon fed to them out of a textbook,” Novotny said. “A textbook is static so by the time they get the textbook in their hands the weather has changed.”

The unit is located on top of the UWF John C. Pace library but there are also data centers in the greenhouse and camellia gardens. UWF students will be able to use the live data for their studies while researchers will be able to use the data with their own instruments.

“WeatherSTEM has the power putting together a lot of data and allowing students to utilize that data,” Novotny said. ” I think students are scared of giant groups of numbers but they tell us a lot about science and the world around us.”

Dr. Jason Ortegren, associate professor of environmental studies, said he hopes to continue to learn more about what WeatherSTEM has to offer and use it for his students in the fall.

“The WeatherSTEM system will allow me to incorporate the data in daily discussions about the impacts of real-time changes in atmospheric variables,” said Ortegren in a press release. “I also plan to assign preliminary data explorations and descriptive analyses of the phenomena that explain the recent weather. I think these exercises will strongly enhance the tangible aspects of the sometimes abstract concepts and help students internalize those concepts.”

Users can access the information from the WeatherSTEM unit through their website, facebook and twitter. Below are the links to these sites.

WeatherSTEM will hold two training sessions for anyone interested in using the system on Monday, April 20 and Tuesday, May 5. The sessions will help teach users how to navigate around the sites and set up personalized weather alerts.



Spring concert goes to the dogs

Alina Newman
Staff Writer

The Music Teacher’s National Association Collegiate Chapter (MTNA) performed their annual “Spring Concert for a Cause” last Friday, this time for the benefit of local strays.

The MTNA is a national music organization that was founded in 1876. It was created to unite music teachers and students for the purpose of collaboration on different musical pieces.

The UWF chapter has been in operation for two consecutive years and has hosted three “Concerts for a Cause.”

“We’ve done this every year,” said junior Samantha Negron, the secretary of UWF’s collegiate chapter. “This year the president of the collegiate chapter graduated and we moved the event from off-campus to on.”

This year their chosen charity was the Pensacola Hotel for Dogs and Cats. It is a local no-kill, non-profit animal shelter that finds homes for abandoned pets. They rely entirely on donations and are volunteer-based.

In order to benefit the charity, the MTNA released a list of donated items before the performance that the hotel requested. It consisted of paper towels, dog and cat toys, linens, animal beds, cat food, pine sol and cat litter.

The performance took place in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts and was comprised of student volunteers who chose their own performances. It featured a variety of powerful classical and contemporary pieces performed with pianos, violas and a cappella.
“I was hoping for a bigger turn-out, but I had to book the hall two months in advance,” said Negron. “We were fighting Relay for Life and “Medea”.”

Two of the most notable of these were Christopher Powell’s piano improvisation and Eunji Tuttle’s piano rendition of Beethoven’s Sonata Number 30.

“I performed a whole Beethoven symphony by memory,” senior pianist Eunji Tuttle said. “It took me one and a half semesters to memorize it all. I was looking for later Beethoven symphonies – early and late symphonies are very different.

“I chose to play number 30 because I saw a video on Youtube that was so beautiful and inspiring.”

This concert differs from the annual Spring Concert that occurred on April 3 because of the addition of vocals to the instrumental performances. Some of the students featured were tenor singer Daniel Kern, bass singer Robert St. John, mezzo soprano singer Emily Nolan and soprano singer Rebekah Pyle.

“I sang “Amarilli, mia bella” by Donizetti,” said senior Daniel Kern. “As a piano major singing as a vocalist, you work one line at a time. The sheer complexity note-wise for the pianist takes the cake.”

Even with a dull audience, the talent show-cased received positive reviews from those who were in attendance.

“I thought it was pretty good,” said senior Kaitlyn Peacock. “I’ve seen some of these people perform before, so I knew their caliber, but it doesn’t get old hearing them again.”


UWF Theatre Department takes success from tragedy

Will Patrick (Jason) and Kerry Sandell (Madea) play husband and wife in the UWF production of the Greek tragedy "Madea."Photo courtesy of UWF Theatre Department Facebook

Will Patrick (Jason) and Kerry Sandell (Madea) play husband and wife in the UWF production of the Greek tragedy “Madea.”
Photo courtesy of UWF Theatre Department Facebook

Kaitlin Englund
Staff Writer

There was not an empty seat in the house at the University of West Florida’s Studio Theater Saturday night.

This was the UWF Theatre Department’s second sold-out performance of the classic Greek tragedy, “Medea.”

Written by Euripides, “Medea” picks up a short time after the classic tale of Jason and the Argonauts leaves off.

After Medea – part goddess and part human – flees her home with Jason, her magic soon causes the newly betrothed couple to once again be on the run. Jason and Medea, with their two children, flee to Corinth, Greece, where the story of “Medea” begins.

From the moment guests entered the studio theater, there was little doubt that what was about to unfold was nothing less than a tragedy.

Guests were ushered in to a stark gray space littered with ashes that was made even more unwelcoming by ominous music echoing throughout the theater.

The audience was silenced with a quick fade-to-black. The lights rose and the laughter of two young boys filled the theater, their playful echoes ringing throughout the empty space.

Junior Kerry Sandell, the actress portraying the lead role of Medea, said there were various reasons why the theatre department chose to produce “Medea,” but that the play’s timelessness was a largely contributing factor.

“Medea has stood the test of time for 2,500 years. It’s a complex play, it’s a difficult play, it’s universal, it’s still profound,” Sandell said.

For Sandell, “Medea” has become a family affair, as her own sons, Luke and Erik Sandell, get to share the spotlight acting as Medea’s children.

Acting alongside the Sandell trio is senior Will Patrick, who plays Jason.

Patrick said his favorite part of this performance is getting to share the hard work that the actors put into it.

The 13 cast members, and the accompanying production staff, spent six weeks of rehearsal preparing for their performances. An experience that Kerry Sandell said they don’t take lightly.

“Obviously it’s emotionally more taxing for everyone, but there’s also a lot of technical issues. Being a Greek piece, and being aware of the language – the language is so important.

“Often times in contemporary theater we have ‘throw away lines,’ and you can’t ever throw away a line here because every word is so important.”

Erin Branham, a student visiting from the University of Central Florida, said she was pleased with UWF’s production of “Medea” and would recommend it to anyone.

“You sit on the edge of your seat for the whole thing,” Branham said. “Bring tissues.”

Performances will continue April 17-19 and it is recommended that tickets are purchased before the event. Tickets can be purchased at the Center for Fine and Performing Arts Box Office, at the UWF Commons, or online.

Runge Strings Orchestra presents spring concert

Alina Newman
Staff Writer

The music hall was filled with the exuberance of sweet violin, viola strings, earthy cello and bass as the Runge Strings Orchestra presented their annual Spring Concert to friends and family in the Center of Fine and Performing Arts.

Named after the late Mr. Paul Runge, the orchestra was created in 2001 to combine the talents of graduate and undergraduate music majors and minors whose musical focus is on Baroque, Classical and 21st century pieces. The orchestra has not only performed alongside student and guest soloists, UWF faculty members and various ensembles and choruses.

Led by soloist and conductor Boyan Bonev, the performance took place at 7:30 p.m. on April 3 and consisted of the Concerto for Cello and Orchestra No. 1 in C Major and the String Symphony No. 10 in B Minor.

To audience ears, the music held a flawless quality that made the pieces seem as though they were naturally constructed for the Spring Concert, but behind the scenes, hours of hard work were the backbone of the performance.

“We start a month and a half before the performance,” viola player Samantha Negron said. “We practice four hours a week and also have a dress rehearsal an hour before the performance.

Those who attended were enchanted by the charm of the players but the seats still empty within the audience brought disappointment.

“The performance was exceptional,” senior Sabrina Cummings said. “I really do think that people should come more often. Our students have come very far to work towards the spring performance. We have a wonderful cellist and conductor.”

The empty seats didn’t appear to bother the players, as they were full of energy and passion for both the music they played and those who came out to support them.

“Being able to see how much the audience enjoys it and the interaction between the audience and the performers is amazing,” Negron said. “Conveying emotion and having them get that is the greatest feeling. They get it, we get it- everyone enjoys it.”

For the students involved in the Runge Strings Orchestra there is a sense of comradeship that has brought together those of different backgrounds, majors and hobbies. It has also united musicians from not only the University of West Florida, but from Pensacola State College as well, as the orchestra is a collaborative effort between the two schools musical programs.

“I really like the people,” violin player Tristan Baker said. “I don’t see a lot of them except in orchestra so it’s nice to get together.”