Tag Archives: Argonaut

Martha Saunders selected as next president of UWF


Photo courtesy of UWF

By Tom Moore

Staff Writer

In a 9-4 vote, the University of West Florida announced current Provost Martha Saunders as its newly elected president during its final search committee meeting on Thursday, Sept. 15.

The meeting was held at the UWF Center for Fine and Performing Arts mainstage theater, and was also webcast live via WUWF.

The meeting was called to order by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Lewis Bear, Jr. With two board members attending by phone, a quorum was reached and the meeting opened with public comment.

After a half-hour of public comment, it became clear that the race was between Provost Saunders and Senator Don Gaetz.  Frank Ashley and Mike Sherman were not mentioned once in the public discussion.

Marc Churchwell, Chairman of the Military and Veterans Resource Center, said he is in favor of Saunders.  Churchwell said Saunders helped expand services and fund new facilities for our veterans, who make up 25 percent of our student population.

Once the public comments were over, the search committee reviewed the final candidate’s on-campus interviews.

“Each candidate performed exceptionally well and were highly qualified for the position,” committee Chairman Mort O’Sullivan said.  The discussion then went to the “three unranked candidates the search committee would forward to the board.”

Greenwood/Asher and Associates, Inc., search firm made its final evaluation and recommendations moving forward with the selection of a final candidate. After completed, the chairman called for a vote on the amendment, which failed. The board voted to move all four candidates forward to the Board of Trustees for final selection.

The Board of Trustees opened the discussion once again, and several students came forward to speak about the candidates.

Sophomore journalism major Abigail Megginson came forward with a petition entitled “Argos Against Gaetz.”  Megginson managed to get 336 signatures of students who were opposed to Don Gaetz being appointed President.

“Three of the candidates have a PhD., Gaetz does not,” Megginson said. “Three of the candidates have prior university leadership experience, Gaetz does not.  The president of the university should be a ‘hub for higher education’ to meet that position of academic excellence. Candidates need to have at least a PhD.”  Megginson went on to say that the University needs a president who will lead UWF as a small, regional university, not a large central one.

Senior Joseph Jackson said he feels that African Americans, and minority groups in general, are simply disregarded, and said that whomever takes the president’s job should give the minorities back their voice.

Telecommunications student Teremis Boykin said he believes UWF needs a president who really cares about the students.

“I’m just an average guy,” Boykin said. “We understand that money is important, but a true university president should not worry about money. A real president should worry about the needs and concerns of the students.”

Following public comments, the Presidential Search Committee presented its report to the Board of Trustees.

The final votes from the Board of Trustees came in with nine votes for Saunders, four for Gaetz, and no votes for the remaining candidates.

UWF’s 2016 Relay For Life crosses the finish line

By Kenny Detwyler

Contributing Writer

money relay

Photo courtesy of UWF’s Relay for Life Facebook page.

On Friday evening, hundreds of students, faculty, staff and cancer victims ran not only for their lives, but for the lives of others.

The University of West Florida’s Relay For Life is a yearly event, one of many across the nation, which raises money for cancer research and raises awareness to the struggles that cancer victims and their families go through every day.

“We participate in Relay every year, Relay is very important to us,” junior Christina Shuster, of the Zeta Psi Eta sorority, said. “It’s for a good cause and it’s a really fun time.”

This year’s theme was to “toon” out cancer, inspiring the organizations to theme their booths to cartoon characters, adding to the fun that Shuster referred to.

The organizations who participated, became a part of Relay’s rebuilding year . Relay returned to the track following 2015’s rain out, the end time was pushed up to 2 AM, and there was decrease in sponsorship, supplemented by SGA.

Even with all of the changes, students never lost sight of what Relay is all about.


Photo courtesy of UWF’s Relay for Life Facebook page.

“It’s important to show your support, because cancer affects everyone,” senior Kirby Thomas, of the Students for Social change, said. “It would be great to have that community everywhere you go, of people who are trying to help better people’s lives.”

Relay featured a host of activities used to keep students engaged with the event, a job which prompted them to end earlier in order to make sure the event ended on a high note. Relay participants were treated to music, games and themed laps which made the evening move more swiftly and enjoyably.

The luminaria ceremony, a staple of Relay for Life, was incredibly moving. A single bagpipe player led a silent procession around the track as, the word “cure” glowed in on the field. The ceremony is used to honor those who have lost their battle with cancer.

Relay continued on through the night and early morning. By the end of the event, UWF Relay had raised $13,539.43, for the American Cancer Society. Proceeds which go to cancer research and also keeping the ACS’s doors open.

“It’s all non-profit, all of our funding comes from donations, you have to pay all the employees and I don’t think people realize that,” junior Megan Hossler, of the Kugleman Honors Program, said. Hossler is also a volunteer at the ACS.

“Things like this really help fund the research for cancer and create more birthdays,” Hossler said. “It’s just really great having a bunch of people come out and fundraise in a really exciting and fun way.”

Want to read more about Relay for Life? Click here to check out Kelsi Gatley’s article about the Luminaria Ceremony.

Peter Steenblik: The new face of the UWF Singers

By Sydney O’Gwynn

Staff Writer

 Peter Steenblik is the conductor of the UWF Singers and Chamber Choir. Photo courtesy petersteenblik.com

Peter Steenblik is the conductor of the UWF Singers and Chamber Choir.
Photo courtesy petersteenblik.com

If you’ve been to a University of West Florida Singers concert over the past year, you’ve seen him. He conducts the performance; he might even speak to the audience a little to introduce the pieces about to be performed. But Peter Steenblik is more than just a choir director.

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, Steenblik is the second of five children. He has been involved in music his whole life, beginning with playing piano since he was a boy.

He said he had no idea when he started playing the piano that it would one day turn into a career. “People ask how long I’ve played the piano and my standard response is ‘I can’t remember now,’” he said.

In addition to conducting two UWF choirs – the Singers and the Chamber Choir — Steenblik is the director of choral activities for the Department of Music and teaches two courses in basic musicianship as well as a music literature class. Steenblik came to UWF in the fall of 2015.

Steenblik graduated from Skyline High School in Salt Lake City and went onto the University of Utah, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in music education. He led backpacking trips in the Cascade Mountains in New York when he had summers off during college. After finishing his undergraduate, he left Utah to serve a church in the Philippines where he described some of his living conditions to be dirt floors, tarps for roofs and river water to drink.

“I lived with some of the poorest people in the world,” he said.

After two years he returned to Salt Lake City and taught high school for 10 years at Jordan High School while working on his master’s degree on nights and weekends.

“After 10 years of watching my students graduate and leave, I decided I wanted to go with them,” Steenblik said. “It was finally my turn to graduate the high school and leave.” He went to the University of North Texas and earned a doctoral degree in choral conducting.

“It was cool because he had all this experience, but he was also just out of school,” Rebekah Pyle, a member of the UWF Singers, said. “So he knows what it’s like to be in school and have all the stresses of school. He is very much on our side.”

As to how he ended up at UWF, he cites three conversations. The first was with his junior high school theater mentor. When his mentor asked Steenblik what he wanted to do for a living, Steenblik said he wanted to travel and perform, but his mentor had something else in mind.

“He said, ‘I think you will happier educating people in that environment, where the applause isn’t for you, but the applause is for the product of your students,’” Steenblik said. “I took that advice.”

The second conversation was with a piano teacher who encouraged him not only to educate others, but to take his skills to a university level. Steenblik said without that advice, he wouldn’t have ended up at UWF.

“It took me a while to do what she said, but I did it,” Steenblik said.

The third conversation happened while Steenblik was in the Philippines. He asked a fellow peer why he was pursuing a degree in art where there is no money. Steenblik said the peer’s response was that if he studied and worked hard, just like any other student in any other major, there would be work for him.

“I’d never heard that perspective,” Steenblik said. “So when I returned from the Philippines I applied myself in school like I never had before. I saw doors open that wouldn’t have opened otherwise.”

Steenblik was also a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for four years. Composed of 380 singers and more than 150 orchestra members, all voluneteers, the choir goes on tour every other year. Steenblik toured with them twice: in the summer 2011 when he traveled from Norfolk to Toronto, and in the summer of 2013 when he traveled from Cincinnati to Minneapolis.

“It was a thrilling experience,” he said. “It was truly extraordinary.”

Steenblik was also a frequent soloist for the choir.

“I don’t understand why I got so lucky,” he said. “It was such a neat time [and] such a neat experience.”

In addition to the UWF choirs and classes, he is also the chorus master for the Pensacola Opera, where he coaches the ensemble with its music.

Jerry McCoy, one of Steenblik’s mentors when he was a student at North Texas, showed him how to be “a director who strives for excellence yet also is very human and approachable,” he said.

He also said the most rewarding part of his job is one that others might see as the most stressful: the rehearsal process.

“The rehearsal process is my sanctuary,” he said. “And I advise the students that rehearsal should be a place of refuge.”

Though he has reached the university level, Steenblik still has goals for the future.

“I am here to bring the choral program into a place of prominence, locally and nationally,” he said.

So the next time you see him, whether it be in the hallways of the Center for Fine and Performing Arts, in front of class or even conducting the UWF Singers Spring concert “A Prayer for Peace” on Monday, April 18, just know he isn’t just a teacher or conductor. He’s so much more.



‘Listen to your heart, think for yourself’

By Mackenzie Kees

Opinions Editor

 These are some of the notecards created by Baptist Bible Bookstore found in the philosophy section at Barnes & Noble. Photo by Mackenzie Kees.

These are some of the notecards created by Bible Baptist Bookstore found in the philosophy section at Barnes & Noble.
Photo by Mackenzie Kees.

We have all seen those people on the side of the road with the signs dedicated to one or another of the various gods from modern religions. These people may force you to take one of their pamphlets, but otherwise seem (relatively) harmless. They feel the need to spread the word of God, and that’s their prerogative — but what happens when that self-appointed privilege starts to interfere with another person’s way of life?

I’m standing in the philosophy section of Barnes & Noble in Pensacola on a Sunday afternoon. I’ve been coming here for the past several months in something akin to a ritual in search of seemingly innocent little notecards.

At the size of an average business card, the notecard I find today is sticking out between pages 19 and 20 of “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. It is red and bears the message: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. – John 3:18.” The phrase “is condemned already” has been underlined, and following the Bible verse there’s a handwritten message scrawled. It reads: “Why go to Hell? You Must Be Born Again!”

There are several things wrong with this scenario, the most obvious being that this little notecard does not belong in this book. It has been added by an outside party not associated with Barnes & Noble, but by another bookstore in fact, which some argue is unethical.

The second most obvious problem that the notecard’s creator, Bible Baptist Bookstore, does not seem to understand is that most people reading a book authored by Dawkins do not believe in a hell. As such, the message being conveyed will likely fall on deaf ears; at most it will cause annoyance and invoke incredulous feelings in its reader.

If Bible Baptist Bookstore’s intent was to spread the word of God, shouldn’t the message have been aimed at explaining the principles of Christianity instead of just a blanket condemnation against all those who disagree with them? I have only found notecards in books regarding reason, those usually favored by non-believers, which indicates that their goal was not as innocent as just “spreading the word.” The true purpose of the notecard was to tell anyone who picked up the book that they were going to hell for not believing in God.

Most religious people don’t realize that the god they believe in has more to do with the happenstance of birth than it does anything else. People raised in the Middle East tend to believe in Allah, while people born in the West are more inclined to believe in the Judeo-Christian God. Children raised in religious families are usually indoctrinated into the religion of their parents without ever being taught to question it. This perpetuates the cycle of religion being passed on from father to son and so forth, which makes it seem more like a tradition than a true belief.

I will forever be grateful to my mother for stopping this cycle in my own family. Growing up, she always told my sister Libby and I to “listen to your heart and think for yourself.” I was never told that I had to think a certain way in order to get into heaven or else I would be damned to hell for all of eternity. The way the Bible focuses on the horrors of hell could scare the bravest of children, whom are already impressionable, into believing out of fear, and believing in God simply for fear of being reprimanded in the afterlife is not an honorable reason to have faith in Him.

Without being well-informed, it would be impossible to make a reasonable decision about any religion, let alone choose one to practice. I’ve strived throughout my life to make sure that I never squander my mom’s precious gift to me by learning everything I can about all religions, so every time I see another intolerable notecard at Barnes & Noble, I can’t help but be frustrated. I have to wonder if the person behind these cards ever researched religions beyond his or her own. Did he or she even try to understand the world from another religious perspective? What makes him so intolerable to systems of belief different from his own?

As I grew up and evolved intellectually, I came to understand something important about myself: I fit in nowhere. It seems like a depressing thought, but in actuality it is incredibly liberating. I stopped trying to figure out where I fit in and simply let myself be. It was that freedom that helped me to realize I am best described as a Humanist.

As a Humanist, I believe that “human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. Humanism stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethics based on human and other natural values in a spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. Humanism is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.” The International Humanist and Ethical Union’s mission statement really spoke to me. It felt right.

After months of holding on to them obsessively, I’ve finally allowed myself to let go and trash the numerous notecards bearing messages of hate and fanaticism. I’ve realized that my obsession with these notecards has more to do with me trying to understand the human psyche than anger. All that is left of my former frustration and indignation is a terrible sadness, but underneath it all hope still glimmers. Hope for the future of mankind and a vision of a world that will finally free itself from the shackles of intolerance. This world will be filled with people who love each other rather than a distant supernatural father figure. It will be a world full of love, acceptance and peace.

UWF Relay for Life sprints toward a brighter future

By Kenny Detwyler
Contributing Writer

relayUWF’s 2016 Relay for Life hit the ground running long before anyone stepped foot onto a track.

This year’s Relay is different from years past, as event organizers have taken Relay for Life into uncharted territory by becoming a registered student organization (RSO).

Becoming an RSO provides UWF Relay a seat on the Campus Collaboration Board, easier access to venues, access to SGA funding and a presence on campus that extends beyond the one-night-only Relay for Life event.

“Last year and the year before that, it was very hard to reserve things,” event co-lead Nicholas Barrios said. “Ten percent of what was fundraised went back into being able to pay for pizza, police officers, and for the property that we were going to be on. We’re not just some outside source anymore, we’re a part of the university.”

Becoming an RSO was only the first step in the rebuilding process that UWF Relay took on. The event was plagued with fundraising troubles, a decrease in sponsorship support, and a need to revamp the UWF Relay experience.

“In order to rebuild this Relay, we took it apart over the summer and looked at why we weren’t being successful,” event co-lead James Hebbel said.

The UWF Relay committee looked at all aspects of event. This year they focused on changing the closing ceremonies as a possible way to enhance the participant experience. Relays normally last 12 hours, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. However, UWF Relay is scheduled to start at 7 a.m. and end at 2 a.m. instead.

“We realized that in the past, we never had a true closing ceremony,” Hebble said.

Hebble and the rest of the Relay staff noticed that students didn’t enjoy staying until 7 a.m. So, in order to ensure that participants stay at least until closing, the end time was moved up in order to keep the event more condensed.

“Going forward, if everyone stays until 2 a.m. and is still excited about Relay, maybe we can progressively change the time, and get back to a 12-hour relay,” Hebble said.

Also, the Relay staff is hoping for fairer weather than they experienced at last year’s event.

“Last year I was the logistics chair, and we made the decision, three days out, to come inside. It was hectic and crazy,” Barrios said. “It’s going to be a lot more exciting outside. We’ll actually be allowed to do the laps that are inside the American Cancer Society rule book.”

In addition to the changes in schedule, UWF’s Relay will also feature a new Snapchat filter, which will be available for participants sharing their experience on social media. Also, with the aid of SGA dollars, the Relay staff will be able to provide more of their own merchandising.

Even with all the new additions and changes to Relay, the committee has not lost sight of what this event means to the survivors and participants who look forward to Relay for Life each year.

“Everyone always associates cancer with old people, but on our campus our committee is comprised of 19 members. At one point we had seven committee members that had been affected by cancer,” Hebble said. “It really brings together the community that you go to school with. It’s one night that everyone can come together and have fun,” Hebble said.  “We’re all coming together to essentially end the fight against cancer.”

UWF’s Relay for Life 2016 event will be held on the UWF soccer fields on Friday, April 8. For more information on how you can donate to Relay for Life visit the website. To keep up with events leading up to Relay for Life, follow the Facebook Page.

Kevin Hurley entertains, amazes and hypnotizes UWF students

By Sara Agans
Staff Writer

 Image courtesy of the UWF Campus Activity Board Facebook page.

Image courtesy of the UWF Campus Activity Board Facebook page.

On Thursday night, March 24, hypnotist/magician Kevin Hurley performed in the Commons, and, among other things, made a UWF student honestly believe that the number six did not exist at all.

Hurley, star of “The Kevin Hurley Show,” was brought to UWF by the Campus Activity Board (CAB), which presents many events each semester for students to enjoy free of charge. During Hurley’s 70-minute performance, he hypnotized students who volunteered in front of an audience of more than a hundred UWF students.

About that young woman who was hypnotized to believe the number six doesn’t exist: Hurley talked to her on stage and asked her personal questions such her name and where she is from. Hurley also asked her how many fingers and toes she has, answering 10 to both. Hurley then had her count her fingers as she held them out in front of her, one to 10, and then backwards from 10 to one. Hurley placed her under hypnosis, touched her shoulder and told her that once he snapped his fingers, the number six would not exist. Fingers were snapped and she opened her eyes. Hurley once again asked her how many fingers she has and she said 10. Hurley had her count her fingers as she held them out in front of her. “One, two, three, four, five, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11?” she was confused when the last finger ended with 11. She then counted backwards, “10, nine, eight, seven, five, four, three, two, one,” confused again when there was an extra finger after she got to one. Hurley asked her what three plus three was, and she could not answer. She could not give the answer to eight minus two, or even four plus two.

“I think a lot of people are going to come in here not thinking that hypnotists are really what they say they are, but I think that they are going to be believers,” said CAB Public Relations and Marketing Chair Michael Krueger, a senior majoring in public relations. “I think the students that come are going to be very surprised at this event and really have a lot more fun than they originally anticipated.”

“I think this event brings a different aspect to the types of things we do on campus, and the fact that Kevin Hurley brought his own DJ with him adds more flair,” said Brandon Wood, a UWF senior majoring in information technology, before the show. “I think that this is going to be a good event, some people are going to be hypnotized, some people are probably going to see something crazy happen.”

Speaking of seeing something crazy, have you ever wondered what it would look like if a guy thought he was nine months’ pregnant? Yes, one man was told under hypnosis that he was going to feel like his stomach was really big and that he was nine months’ pregnant once Hurley snapped his fingers. Another man and woman were told under hypnosis they were going to be doctors. Once Hurley snapped his fingers that is exactly what happened. The “doctors” walked over to the “pregnant” guy and brought him over to a chair as if they were in a hospital and he was about to give birth. They told him it was time to push, and he did just that. He made noises as if he were pushing and his legs were open with the doctors ready to grab the baby once it came out. Once the baby arrived, it was placed in the “dad’s” arms. Hurley asked what sex the baby was, and the female “doctor” said excitedly, “It’s a boy!” Hurley even asked the “dad” what the name was, and he said “Nick Jr.”

Typically, when these shows are over and the hypnosis has ended, the students hypnotized say they feel like it only lasted about five minutes, when in reality they were hypnotized for about an hour.

But there still are those who are skeptical. Kharas Denson, a UWF sophomore majoring in communications and public relations, said she does not feel that hypnotism would work on her. She said she thinks that hypnotism is something that a lot of people fake, as far as how people react to what is being done to them.

Not only did one guy think that he was pregnant and a girl think that the number six did not exist, but another woman actually believed she was in a club giving her boy crush “Colton” the “dance of his life.” Hurley’s personal DJ played a T-Pain song that fit her mindset perfectly.

The event had a great turnout, with 128 students filling up most of the auditorium, said Jan-ana Benavente, CAB vice president. Hurley’s DJ did a great job matching the music to the hypnosis being performed for each scenario, and Hurley threw in some comedy to make the hypnosis that much more entertaining.

For more information regarding future campus events, be sure to sign up with ArgoPulse or download the OrgSync app.

UWF baseball shaves heads to save lives

By Grier Wellborn

Sports Editor

 The UWF baseball team gathers for a picture after shaving their heads to support the Vs. Cancer Foundation. Photo courtesy goargos.com.

The UWF baseball team gathers for a picture after shaving their heads to support the Vs. Cancer Foundation.
Photo courtesy goargos.com.

Teammates who work together on the field are strong. Teammates who work together off the field are stronger.

The University of West Florida baseball team shaved their heads Friday, March 18, at Jim Spooner Field to support national childhood cancer research. The event, while short, has had a lasting impact on the team.

The Vs. Cancer Foundation is a nonprofit organization that uses a half-and-half model to fund the cause; they donate half of their proceeds to cancer research, and the other half directly to children battling the life-threatening disease. The Vs. Cancer Foundation empowers athletes and communities to come together in efforts to save lives.

First to step up to shave his head was senior catcher Ben Emery. Emery battled pediatric lymph node cancer as child and has been cancer-free for the past five years.

“As a five-year pediatric cancer survivor, I am constantly motivated to raise awareness, fundraise, and support the fight against cancer, especially in children,” Emery said. “When we were told that we would be fundraising for and working with kids battling cancer, it hit close to home.”

When they learned they would be raising money for cancer, Emery and a few other players decided to shave their heads to provide moral support for the children. The decision by a few players turned into an event for the entire team.

Even Head Coach Mike Jeffcoat got in on the action and shaved his head with the team as well as the entire coaching staff.

“Fighting for something bigger than baseball has given some perspective on the importance of cohesion to achieve a common goal,” Emery said. “Each member of the team shaving their heads signifies that we are all in this season together and will always have each others’ backs.”

Emery’s battle with cancer inspired his teammates to follow in his footsteps. The players also plan to visit Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital to show their support.

So far, the baseball team has raised more than $2,200 for the Vs. Cancer Foundation.

After shaving their heads, the Argos went on to win the series against the University of West Georgia while also recording the fifth shutout of the season on Sunday’s game. UWG Wolves had not been shut out since spring of 2013.

The Argos recorded the sixth shutout of the season when they traveled to Memphis to face Christian Brothers this weekend. After winning both games in the doubleheader on Friday, the Argos swept the series on Saturday when they shut CBU out 5-0. The Argos now lead the Gulf South Conference in shutouts.

Maybe the Argos successful streak is all thanks to those team head rubs for good luck.

For more information on how to contribute to the Vs. Cancer Foundation, visit vs-cancer.org.

For the complete UWF baseball schedule visit goargos.com

The nitty-gritty: Who thinks what and everything else you need to know before the Florida primaries

By Mackenzie Kees
Opinions Editor

The 2016 race for the presidency is well under way in the United States, and so far it has been wrought with mudslinging, half-truths and outright lies, and even has devolved further into thinly-veiled allegations and petty name-calling. Instead of thoroughly discussing the issues facing America today, the debates often entail several candidates talking at the same time with each one determined to be the loudest.

The Florida primaries are this Tuesday, March 15, and many voters will be forced to cast their ballot without truly understanding what each candidate wants for the future of America. The voters are not to blame for this miscarriage of justice, but nevertheless they are the ones who will suffer the consequences of it.

The Voyager has created this guide for you to study each candidate and his or her stance on the issues of utmost importance before you cast a vote this Tuesday. Deciding what issues are essential to the running of this country is a daunting task in itself, because in one way or another they are all important, but it is imperative that a few be chosen to concentrate on. The problems facing the world today are too numerous to hope that a single candidate will agree with everyone’s opinions for each issue.

Once the key issues have been decided upon, it is time to research what the candidates think about each one. This, too, can be daunting, because, as the old saying goes, “all politicians lie,” and it can be hard for voters to determine when a candidate actually is lying. Fortunately, in this modern age, we have the Internet, where information can be accessed effortlessly, and several organizations exist to provide citizens with information.

If winning a Pulitzer price is any indication of merit, PolitiFact is one such organization that can be trusted. PolitiFact is a division of the newspaper Tampa Bay Times, a self-described “independent fact-checking journalism website aimed at bringing you the truth in politics.” All the information provided lists sources to validate its authenticity.

On The Issues is a nonpartisan website also dedicated to providing “information for voters in the Presidential election, so that votes can be based on issues rather than on personalities and popularity,” according to its mission statement. The staff conducts research using documents such as debate transcripts, voting records, statements to the media and citations from books authored by the candidate in order to formulate their findings.

The research cited in this article was traced back to the original sources for all of the information contained here. References are provided in the conclusion for those who wish to do their own digging. This article has attempted to simplify the material on each candidate, with the goal of making your voting experience easier by proving accurate information on each candidate.


trumpDonald Trump, 69, is a real estate developer and businessman well known for his television personality and superb entrepreneurial skills. Unlike the other candidates, Trump lacks a background in government affairs, leading some to call him a “breath of fresh air” from the usual contenders who are constantly ingrained in Washington politics. However, this notable lack of experience with the inner workings of the government has some claiming that Trump is inept to deal with most of the traditional duties performed by the president.

As shown in the above graphic, Trump currently leads in the polls with 458 delegates (as of March 11), leaving him 779 delegates away from the Republican nomination for president. Despite his apparent success, PolitiFact has found that most of the statements made by Trump were either “false” or “pants on fire” false, which is their way of saying a totally invented fabrication. For the “true” declarations made by Trump, a dismal 1 percent of the judged statements fall under this category. So what does Trump actually think about the issues?

ABORTION: “The biggest problem I have with Planned Parenthood is the abortion situation. I mean it’s like an abortion factory, frankly, and you can’t have it and you shouldn’t be funding it. It shouldn’t be funded by the government.”— Aug. 11, 2015, in an interview with CNN.

HEALTH CARE: “The one thing we have to do is repeal and replace ObamaCare. It is a disaster. People’s premiums are going up 35 percent, 45 percent, 55 percent. Their deductibles are so high nobody’s ever going to get to use it. So ObamaCare is turning out to be a bigger disaster than anybody thought.” — Oct. 25, 2015, in an interview with Martha Raddatz of “ABC This Week.”

IMMIGRATION: “We are a country of laws. We need borders. We will have a wall [on the Mexican border]. The wall will be built. The wall will be successful. And if you think walls don’t work, all you have to do is ask Israel. The wall works, believe me. Properly done. Believe me.”—  Nov. 10, 2015, in an interview with Fox Business.


ted cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, 45, has experience in Congress after accumulating several years of service in the U.S. Senate. Cruz is currently trailing behind Trump in the polls with 359 delegates of the total 1,237 required to win the Republican nomination. As seen in the graphic above, most of Cruz’s statements have been judged to be almost 60 percent false by PolitiFact. His numbers are an improvement on Trump’s results, but they still leave room for voters to question his sincerity.

FOREIGN POLICY: “What we need is a commander in chief that makes clear, if you join ISIS, if you wage jihad on America, then you are signing your death warrant. I introduced the Expatriate Terrorist Act that said if any American travels to the Middle East and joins ISIS, that he or she forfeits their citizenship so they don’t use a passport to come back and wage jihad on Americans.” —Aug. 16, 2015, in an interview with Fox News.

EDUCATION: “We need to repeal Common Core. We need to get the federal government out of the business of dictating educational standards. Education is far too important for it to be governed by unelected bureaucrats in Washington. It should be at the state level or even better at the local level. ”— at the Heritage Foundation’s Conservative Policy Summit in Washington, D.C., January 2015.

GUN CONTROL: “The right to self-defense is an essential component of the liberty we enjoy as Americans and is embodied in the Second Amendment. From successfully protecting law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights at the Supreme Court, to defeating legislation that sought to take away this right, I have always championed the right to keep and bear arms.” — statement on his official campaign website.



Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, 44, is a practiced attorney, politician and junior senator from the state of Florida. Rubio has dabbled in many occupational fields over the years, such as teaching and founding a law firm, which has afforded him a different perspective than the other candidates. His solid background in all things politics comes from years of working his way up the latter in the House of Representatives and the Senate alike.

Most of Rubio’s statements are a mix between “mostly true,” “half true,” and “mostly false,” according to the results of PolitiFact’s findings, pictured in the graphic above. In comparison to his fellow Republican running mates, Rubio shows more balance between what he says and what he means. Out of the three Republican contenders, Rubio does the best to sticking to the truth, which is an admirable quality in a politician.

ABORTION: “There is no doubt that a woman has a right to her own body, has a right to make decisions about her own health and her own future. There’s no doubt. And then, there’s this other right. And that’s the right of a human being to live. And these rights come into conflict when it comes to this issue. And, so, you have to make a decision … But when asked to make a decision between two very hard circumstances, I’ve personally reached the conclusion if I’m going to err, I’m going to err on the side of life. I’ll support any legislation that reduces the number of abortions.” — Aug. 9, 2015, at a Meet The Press interview.

JOBS: “If I thought that raising the minimum wage was the best way to help people increase their pay, I would be all for it, but it isn’t. In the 20th century, it’s a disaster. If you raise the minimum wage, you’re going to make people more expensive than a machine. And that means all this automation that’s replacing jobs and people right now is only going to be accelerated. Here’s the best way to raise wages: Make America the best place in the world to start a business or expand an existing business.” —  Nov. 10, 2015, at a First Tier debate hosted by Fox Business.

GUN CONTROL: “My position on guns is pretty clear. I believe law-abiding people have a fundamental, constitutional right to bear arms. And I believe criminals and dangerous people should not have access to guns. There are laws that protect those two things — but many of these [additional] gun laws are ineffective. They don’t do those things. They either infringe on the rights of law-abiding people and do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. And I’m troubled this debate is about guns. It should be about violence. Violence is the problem, guns are what they’re using. We are missing a golden opportunity to have an open, honest and serious conversation about these horrific violent acts, because everyone’s focused on passing these laws that have proven ineffective.” — April 14, 2013, at an interview with CNN SOTU.




Hillary Clinton, 68, is the former U.S. Secretary of State, a position she held for the first four years of the Obama administration. Clinton’s resume also includes a stint on the Senate, as well as eight years of holding the title of first lady. Her previous roles in the White House give her a level of expertise that her competitors lack. She knows what it takes to be president from watching her husband experience it, and she has felt the enormous amount of pressure it can cause. One thing to be certain about Clinton is that she knows exactly what she is walking into by becoming president. While the other candidates might have an idea of what all it entails, they still lack the actual experience of living through it as she did.

Clinton is currently leading in the polls with 760 of the 2,383 delegate votes needed to win the Democratic nomination. This figure does not include the superdelegates, where Clinton has a substantial lead, because their votes can still be changed.

In stark contrast to her Republican counterparts, most of Clinton’s statements have been judged as “true” or “mostly true” by PolitiFact. However, while Clinton’s statements may be true, that does not mean that the inferences she makes from them are always correct. The way one person interprets facts can vary from someone else; it all depends on the individual’s point of view and life experiences. Regardless, Clinton’s statements to the public can be considered relatively true and trustworthy.

ENVIRONMENT: “Today I am announcing a comprehensive strategy to modernize American energy infrastructure and forge a new partnership with Canada and Mexico to combat climate change across the continent, unleashing billions in investment, delivering reliable and affordable energy, protecting the health of our families and communities, and creating good-paying jobs and careers.” — Sept. 23, 2015, in a blog post entitled “Why I oppose Keystone XL.”

EDUCATION:  “[The Common Core] wasn’t politicized. It was to try to come up with a core of learning that we might expect students to achieve across our country, no matter what kind of school district they were in, no matter how poor their family was that there wouldn’t be two tiers of education. Everybody would be looking at what would be learned doing their best to achieve that.” — April 16, 2015, at her first official campaign event in Iowa, via C-SPAN.

DRUGS: “I think that we have the opportunity through the states that are pursuing recreational marijuana to find out a lot more than we know today. I do support the use of medical marijuana, and I think even there we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we’re going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief. So, I think we’re just at the beginning, but I agree completely with the idea that we have got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana. Therefore, we need more states, cities, and the federal government to begin to address this so that we don’t have this terrible result of a huge population in our prisons for nonviolent, low-level offenses that are primarily due to marijuana. ”— Oct. 13, 2015, at the CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas.



Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, 74, previously caucused with Democrats before actually joining the party in 2015. Sanders was the longest-serving independent in U.S. Congressional history before he switched parties.

Sanders has been a long-time defender of civil rights, from his early days as a political activist while attending the University of Chicago to his many careers after graduating college. Sanders’ political conquests include a mayorship, becoming a member of the House of Representatives, and eventually being elected to the U.S. Senate. Sanders is currently behind Clinton in the polls with 546 of the needed 2,383 delegate votes to win the Democratic nomination. This figure does not include the superdelegates, because their votes can still be changed, where Clinton has a substantial lead over Sanders. Like his fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton, most of Sanders’ statements have been judged to be “true,” “mostly true,” and “half true” by PolitiFact.

CIVIL RIGHTS: “Black lives matter. The African-American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and three days later she’s dead in jail. We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major reforms in a broken criminal justice system. I intend to make sure people have education and jobs rather than jail cells.” — Oct. 13, 2015, at the CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas.

ECONOMY: “Millionaires and billionaires are pouring unbelievable sums of money into the political process in order to fund super PACs and to elect candidates who represent their interests, not the interests of working people. What this campaign is about is whether we can mobilize our people to take back our government from a handful of billionaires and create the vibrant democracy we know we can and should have. It is immoral and wrong that the top 1/10 of 1 percent in this country own almost 90 percent – almost — own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent.” — Oct. 13, 2015, at the CNN Democratic primaries in Las Vegas.

FOREIGN POLICY: “[Obama] is trying to defeat ISIS. He’s trying to get rid of this horrendous dictator, Assad. But at the same time, he doesn’t want our troops stuck on the ground. And I agree with that. But I am maybe a little bit more conservative on this than he is. I worry that once we get sucked into this, once some of our troops get killed and once maybe a plane gets shot down, that we send more in and more in. But I will say this. ISIS must be defeated primarily by the Muslim nations in that region. America can’t do it all. And we need an international coalition. Russia should be part of it — U.K., France, the entire world – supporting Muslim troops on the ground, fighting for the soul of Islam and defeating this terrible ISIS organization.” — Nov. 8, 2015, during an interview on “ABC This Week.”


The Florida primaries are approaching fast; only those who are registered as a Republican or Democrat (not Independent) may participate. This vote will determine the two main candidates who will be in the running for the presidency, so its importance cannot be denied.

For those who are unsure of which candidate they agree with, take the ISideWith quiz to see which candidate best reflects your beliefs.

The information provided in this article has been verified and fact-checked. Links to the various sites where this information can be found are listed below.





Associated Press

The New York Times



‘The Vagina Monologues’ empowers women while raising money for Rape Crisis Center

By Kaitlin Lott
Staff Writer

On Friday night, March 11, The Feminist Society of Pensacola turned the University of West Florida Commons Auditorium into a sanctuary of vaginal praise. “The Vagina Monologues” is an episodic play written by Eve Ensler, first performed in 1996.

All the monologues performed throughout the night were real stories from women all over the world, including topics from political issues to sexual encounters and social justice in a male-driven society. “The Vagina Monologues” brought attention to the “power of the pussy” from talking about the great debate of shaving and infidelity to sexual violence and homosexuality.

The Feminist Society of Pensacola supported the Rape Crisis Center at Lakeview for the first time with this performance. The event was free, but a $5 donation was recommended. The performance raised a little more than $3,500, said Kinsley Hess and Emily Echevarria, council members of the Feminist Society. The proceeds will help women of all ages who have experienced sexual violence, physical violence and emotional abuse.

Throughout the play, actresses pulled in the audience, engaging them with their witty interpretations of women’s stories about their vaginas. The monologues brought comedy and sadness, permitting both laughter and empathy. Presenters were vibrant and compassionate, having reverence for the women who experienced the trials and joy of womanhood and irrevocably changed the lives of others.

“I really liked the woman who talked about shaving her vagina, I thought that was pretty empowering,” said Emily Sheridan, senior marine biology major. “I liked the women who performed ‘My Vagina is My Village.’ That one was pretty tragic, but it was powerful.”

Haley Morrissette, a senior social work major and council member for the Feminist Society, performed “The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could,” which she said was tailor-made for her as it called for a “queer black woman.” Morrissette’s involvement with the Feminist Society has made her more comfortable with her sexuality and who she is as an individual, she said, which showed in her lively and crowd-pleasing interpretation of the story.

“I hope that this opens their eyes, because it talks about some of the violence that women face, period,” Morrissette said. “I hope it opens people’s eyes to that and it makes [people] see that we are not just one-dimensional creatures.”

The essence of “The Vagina Monologues” is overall empowerment of women. UWF boasts various clubs and societies that enhance our academic careers, but this play brought gender enlightenment.

Although there were extreme sexual and sensual references, in every monologue the word vagina had both literal and symbolic meaning. In this play, it is not only seen as a part of a woman’s anatomy, but as an essential part of who a woman is.

For more information on the Feminist Society of Pensacola, visit the Facebook Page.

The Force can be with you, too, with lightsaber training

By Tom Moore

Contributing Writer


The form that Anna Faulkner uses for light saber training are based in real-life techniques.
Photo by Tom Moore.

Buzzzzz! Zap, zap, zap. And a dazzling display of lights. Lightsabers crash together, as dark figures in hooded robes that shroud their features duel it out to the death. The mighty blades clash, again and again in a dazzling display of blue and green.

But wait — this is 2016, and the galaxy is the Milky Way, and the planet is Earth.  This may seem to be the wrong place and time, but the two figures are real, as are the lightsabers.

The figures belong to husband-and-wife team Desso and Anna Faulkner, and they conduct lightsaber training at Hitzman Optimist Park from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday. They have been training hopeful Jedis for nearly two years now. Combined with yoga, they say the training is a great way to increase strength, flexibility, and all around physical fitness.

“It’s a lot more fun than a treadmill or stair climber,” Anna Faulkner said. “I get to work on my strength, cardio and stamina, and get good, balanced workout, while indulging in one of my favorite movie sagas of all time.”

The training is free, and all the information about it can be found on their Facebook page. If you haven’t built your own blade, light sabers can be found online. “Just go to the ‘build your lightsaber’ section at the top of the page, and follow the on screen instructions,” Anna Faulkner said.

“A basic dueling blade can be had for as little as $80, give or take,” Desso Faulkner added.

“If you are just starting out, wear loose clothing, comfortable shoes, and gloves to protect your fingers and hands. Also, men, wear a male guard.  I always do,” Desso Faulkner said. “I learned that one the hard way.”

The form the Faulkners practice is Form 3, or “Soresu,” the Way of the Mynock, which is stylistically similar to aikido in that it’s more of a defensive and nonaggressive style. It’s also the same form (but not the only) practiced by Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker in the “Star Wars” movies.

“A year and a half ago, Desso and I wanted to improve our workout routine, and started offering lessons in lightsaber training,” Anna Faulkner said.

“It’s all about forms,” she said, displaying a dizzying set of foot and blade work. Granted, there weren’t the leaps, spins and kicks of the movie, but what she lacked in choreography, she made up for in sheer style and grace. It was reminiscent of the scene in the “Phantom Menace” prequel, when Qui-Gon and Obi wan were fighting Darth Maul.

“Kids, don’t try this at home,” she said, eyes twinkling. “This is after nearly two years of teaching this form, and I am far from a master. I work hard every day to keep my core strong, and myself in the right head space so I can do this.”

Despite her warning, kids are trying it at home, and enjoying it. Enrollment is up, and keeps rising, in no small part to a Pensacola News Journal article last month.  Expounding on the new types of cardio workouts that were becoming popular, the News Journal stumbled upon the Faulkner’s unique workout as an opportunity for a way to add LARPing [Live Action Role Playing] to your repertoire of more conventional workout routines.

The control, the technique, even the form is real. The art is loosely based of the ancient martial arts of Kendo, which uniquely lends itself to the exercise.

“I did not adapt it,” Anna Faulkner said. “Desso and I use the forms, or ‘katas,’ that have been developed over the past eight years by the Tereprime Lightsaber Academy, which adapted it from the training Mark Hamill began in the middle of ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ and the techniques he mastered in the ‘Return of the Jedi.’ That is the foundation upon which all the other was built, and what has become lightsaber form and technique we have today,” she said.

This is because Kendo, unlike other types of the martial arts, was developed to add the use of a wooden staff or sword to its katas, or forms.

“It’s perfect for Jedi training because blade work is already built into the training,” Desso Faulkner said. “All you have to do change out the sword or staff strokes to that of the light saber.”

So, the Star Wars Universe may be a time long ago in a galaxy far, far away, but Jedi and Sith can be trained right here in Pensacola in the Hitzman Optimist Park by Jedi Masters Anna and Desso Faulkner.