STDs Swamp The South

By: Alexandra Morris

The most recent study for STD/HIV show that the South has the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases among Americans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most STD cases reported come from people between the ages of 15-24 years, so, sexually active college students need to be more aware of the facts and more cautious when it comes to sex.

“People in the South often experience poorer health outcomes than the rest of the nation, due to multiple factors including income inequality, poverty, and high numbers of people without health insurance,” said Elizabeth Davenport, News Media Team Member for NCHHSTP Office of Program Planning and Policy Coordination Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These Three STDs Spread Like Gossip

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, since 2013 Mississippi continues to face a steady rise in syphilis rates. The cases of syphilis recorded have almost tripled in the past three years.  However, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are still the most common STDs in the south.

“Americans ages 15 to 24 years old accounted for nearly two-thirds of chlamydia diagnoses and half of gonorrhea diagnoses,” said Davenport.

In Mississippi, for every 100,000 women roughly 4,300 between the ages of 15-24 contract Chlamydia, compared to the 1,500 men for every 100,000 of the same demographic.

According to the CDC, “Men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for the majority of new gonorrhea and primary and secondary syphilis cases (82 percent of male cases with known gender of sex partner).”

Davenport stated that the most shocking statistic the CDC has recently recorded is that women’s rate of syphilis diagnoses increased by more than 27 percent from 2014 to 2015.

“Honestly, I had no idea that contracting syphilis was still a thing,” said an Ole Miss student who contracted Syphilis and prefers to remain anonymous. “Luckily, I had a screening with my gynecologist not long after I contracted it and was able to get on antibiotics immediately. Yes, it was embarrassing, but it’s not the end of the world. I really just recommend people be more cautious about who they sleep with because people lie.”

The reason women are more prone to contracting STDs than men is because of their anatomy. The lining of their sexual organ is “thinner and more delicate” than the skin on a male’s sexual organ, making it easier for bacteria to be penetrated.

Everyone wants to know why these STDs are on the rise, especially the number of syphilis cases. The reasons are unknown according to the CDC, because they are only given “a snapshot of what’s happening with chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in the US; however, it doesn’t tell us why certain trends are occurring.”

The increase in Syphilis is stumping researchers, especially since penicillin has been the treatment since the 1900s. However, since all three major STDs (Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis) are all rising, researchers are starting to think technology has an effect on the outbreaks.

“I think people are getting on these dating apps because they know they can have a one night stand and not contact the person ever again,” said Ole Miss student Emily Smith. “I think that these apps have a direct correlation with the rise of STDs because people with STDs get on these apps for a quick hook-up.”

The US AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Rhode Island Department of Health conducted studies that specifically blamed dating apps like Tinder and Grindr, which simplify the act of casual sex between strangers. Unfortunately, their findings have not been proven to be completely true since the apps are relatively new and the outbreak of Syphilis has been occurring since 2002.

“While we have not found any direct correlations between dating apps and the rise of the three major STDs, some studies like the Rhode Island one provide theoretical reason to believe this assumption,” said NCHHSTP’s director Dr. Jonathan Mermin.

According the The Atlantic, CDC epidemiologist Sarah Kidd believes that dating apps pose a threat to the growing STD problem and that “it’s easier to meet partners and not necessarily have identifying information and not be able to track them down later.”

Davenport agrees and said that this is why “it’s imperative that people who use dating apps talk openly about STDs, get regularly tested and treated if needed, and reduce risk by using condoms.”

Dating apps like Tinder do not have a section where STD checks are to be submitted, however according to a news report from CNSNews, some dating apps have added a link that directs the user to a locator for free STD testing due to the assumptions that such apps are responsible for the rise in STDs.

As of 2015, the CDC has found that immigration, the rise in gay or bisexual men and women, and the increase of sexually active youth who are not screened or tested all might have a direct effect on the rise of STDs.


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Ignorance Is Not Always Bliss

Most college students believe that once they contract an STD they are more prone to STDs, which is untrue. With proper treatment and future protection, such as using condoms and talking to partners about their STD history recurrence can be very avoidable.

A positive STD test is not the end,” said Davenport.

Another misconception is that anal sex prevents the contraction of STDs. Actually, according to the CDC, gay or bisexual men in the US alone “account for 83 percent of primary and secondary syphilis cases.”

Many people think that STDs cannot be treated, only herpes and HIV cannot be cured.

It is important to finish the medication when contracting one of the major three STDs, otherwise they can cause serious health problems, “Many STDs are curable, and all are treatable. It is important to remember If either you or your partner is infected with an STD that can be cured, both of you need to start treatment immediately to avoid getting re-infected,” said Davenport.

Another misconception is that all STDs show symptoms, but Chlamydia is known as the silent killer because many mistake the discharge as normal or confuse it with a yeast infection. This myth is also proven false since people can be asymptomatic.

“One can be asymptomatic, although most have symptoms,” said Ole Miss Student Health Center Director Dr. Travis Yates. “We advise annual screening, and certainly screening after an unprotected exposure of concern.”

Lastly, many students believe that if they get tested at the Student Health Center, their parents will find out, which is not necessarily true if the parents’ insurance is not involved.

“All patient encounters at SHC are confidential; confidentiality is of high priority for us,” said Dr. Yates. “However, there is a risk in the event the charges are filed with insurance.  In that case, the parents may later receive an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from the insurance company delineating charges and payments.  We have no control over insurance companies.  This could be avoided if the student requests that charges not be billed to insurance, in which case the fees would be paid at the time of visit or posted to their bursar account.  Charges posted to bursar accounts are labeled as SHC fees generically, and are not specified as to what the fee was for.”

Let’s Talk About Sex…Safe Sex

Researchers are diving into the rise of STDs in the US, but the best way to end the epidemic is to educate the youth.

“Educate yourself regarding safe sex practices and practice what you learn,” said Dr. Yates.  “Information is available on our website under the services tab.  Sexual health is discussed in EDHE classes, and at many presentations by Health Promotion.  We have patient info brochures in all patient rooms as well as free condoms, male and female.”

Education of STDs and prevention will help stoop the rise, but building the nation’s prevention methods and systems would also help.

“We have reached a decisive moment for the nation,” said Dr. Mermin. “STD rates are rising and many of the country’s system for preventing STDs have eroded. We must mobilize, rebuild, and expand services – or the human and economic burden will continue to grow.”

Because abstinence is the only fully effective way to stop this epidemic from spreading, it is important that high schools have programs to teach teens about abstinence and safe sex. The average age of sexually active teens is decreasing, and many sexually active students are uneducated on the dangers of unprotected sex.

“Young people that are sexually active face unique barriers to accessing prevention services, including confidentiality concerns, limited access to health care (no insurance or transportation), discomfort or embarrassment in discussing risk behaviors, and may have multiple sex partners,” said Davenport. “Parents and providers should aim to offer young people safe, effective ways to access needed information and services. Likewise, sexually active adolescents and young adults should advocate for their own health by seeking out providers they trust, following screening recommendations, practicing safe sex, and openly discussing any health concerns with their partner(s).”


What Works: Arkansas Executions

Arkansas executes murderers Jack Jones and Marcel Williams

By: Alexandra Morris

This story is SEO friendly and is the first story to come up on Google news when I type in the word ‘Arkansas.’ The lead is hard, as this was posted seven hours ago and the executions of two inmates were done yesterday. The nutgraph is the fifth paragraph, where readers learn why the two men were executed so promptly. The sources used for this story include indirect and direct quotes from: The US Supreme Court, Jack Jones (one of the criminals executed), the McKesson Corporation (gives the lethal drugs to the prison), Amnesty International, Cassandra Stubbs, and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. The multimedia sources used include a picture of the eight men on death that are scheduled to be executed this month, a graph of executions across the US from 2006-2016, a video of the widower of Jack Jones’ victim, and a video of Ledell Lee (Arkansas inmate on death row). To add to this story I would have added quotes from the two inmates first trials to show how sorry or not sorry they were, as well as quotes from Human Rights Groups on why this should not happen.

What Works: Isaiah Thomas

By: Alexandra Morris

Isaiah Thomas expected to play Game 2, then return home to family

I clicked on this headline because I follow the NBA and it is playoff time, which is a crucial time for the teams. I saw Isaiah Thomas trending on Twitter and wanted to know the full story, but all the tweets were about condolences and the strength of Thomas. The lead is hard because it tells readers that Thomas is expected to play in the next playoff game, but the importance is unclear. The story then goes narrative, and backtracks to last week. The nutgraph is in the second paragraph, where the readers will learn that Thomas’s sister died in a car accident, just one day before the first playoff game for the Celtics. The sources used in this story include, Thomas’s head coach, Brad Stevens, and teammate, Avery Bradley. The multimedia used in this story include a press conference and statement from Coach Brad Stevens. I think the story was well written, and focused on Thomas’s triumph through such a difficult time. I would not have added much information, I would not have tried to contact any of the Thomas’ because it would be unethical and I could have gotten the story without those particular sources. I would however had added the video of Isaiah Thomas during the first playoff game, where they had a moment of silence for his sister, it was emotional and would have gave this story a little boost.

Rebels Against Sexual Assault Hosts Forum on Recent Spark of Alerts

By: Alexandra Morris

On Tuesday, April 11,  Ole Miss student organization, Rebels Against Sexual Assault (RASA) hosted a forum discussing the recent alerts about sexual assaults sent out by the University’s Police Department (UPD).

The forum was called to discuss how RASA and the UPD can work together to bring awareness to the issues and how to better educate the student body on handling these incidents.

An attendee asked the RASA board of executives and UPD officers why follow-up alerts are not sent out quicker and that they believe providing the university with updates is important.

“The reason the alerts are so vague is because they are under investigation and we can’t share all the information that is happening behind the scenes,” said UPD officer.

Lindsey Bartlett Mosvick, RASA Project Coordinator, stated that in the past the UPD have posted updates on cases on their crime reports page, but that she believes more work can be done to inform and keep the students updated on recent incidents.

“The problem is that the grand jury is the next step, which isn’t until May,” said Mosvick. “So,f or us to announce something like an indictment is hard, because it takes about six months to do.”

An attendee then asked how students can combat the rumors spread around campus about the accusations sent out being later proved to be untrue.

“I do not think there is anything to combat them, but those rumors are the exact reason people don’t come forward when they are assaulted.” said UPD office. “It is sad to see that they don’t want their peers to be upset and that they have this social pressure while also dealing with this other issue of being assaulted.”

The office then stated that it is the UPD’s job to protect the victim’s rights, as well as the suspect’s. He said that they try to keep that balance while also trying to inform the students, which has proven to be difficult because investigations go at the speed the victim wants them to.

“I think it has a lot to do with culture and the most we can do to combat the rumors is use evidence and education,” said RASA executive member Corbin Smith. “Actually only two to nine percent are false accusations… So, I recommend educating people, that is the best way to prevent sexual assault from occurring and limits the stigma.”

Smith later explained that the whole point of RASA is to inform and use “pure education” and the way that their organization brings attention to these types of issues is by frequently visiting honors 101 courses, sociology courses, EDHE courses, and even organizations such as sororities and fraternities.

“We have been told by people on campus that awareness has increased tenfold,” said RASA executive member Elizabeth Romary.

When asked if there is correlation between springtime and sexual assaults, RASA members responded that nationally there are more sexual assaults during the first six months on the fall semester, which is known as the “red zone.”

RASA and the UPD then asked for advice from the audience on what they can do to better awareness and alerts. Multiple attendees recommended adding tips for bystanders because as of now the tips included on the UPD and RASA websites are directed at the victim, which makes it seem like the victim could have prevented the assault and that the fault is on them. These tips include: avoid walking alone, staying with a group of people, and being aware of your surroundings.

“I think adding bystander tips is a great idea so that we make sure people are more safe and more aware of their surrounding,” said Smith.

The forum concluded with UPD office Jeff Kellum educating the crowd on a new app called ‘LiveSafe.’ The app allows students to communicate with a dispatcher when a problem occurs or if they are walking home alone and just want to feel safer. The app also gives people the opportunity to share current locations, report tips immediately to the police station, as well as calling 911 right away.

“It’s like the coolest app you guys, I love it,” said Romary.

RASA next big awareness event is a march tonight called ‘Take Back the Night’ starting at The Grove stage at 6:30pm.


Grad Student Win $10,000 in Gillespie Biz Competition for ‘Uber for Tutoring’

By: Alexandra Morris and Carly Owen


First, second, and third place winners of the Gillespie Competition pose for a picture with the judges and CIE hosts. (At center: first place winner Lee Ingram; to his left and right are: Pontus Andersson, second place winner, and Austin Darnell, third place winner). Photo Credit: Carly Owen.

Last Friday, MA of Accountancy student Lee Ingram won $10,000 to expand his business, Collegiate Tutoring, in the CIE’s annual Gillespie competition.

The competition awards start up money to a student who can come up with the most effective business model.

Ingram’s Collegiate Tutoring, formerly called Higher Learning LLC, is a website students can use to find student tutors who have excelled in the courses they need help in.

“I like having a service that helps students find confidence in their courses,” Ingram said about why he started this business. “The other side of that is that I like finding students that are capable of tutoring and rewarding them for knowing the material well.”

Ingram noticed a social stigma around tutoring.  Making student tutors discreetly accessible helps people who are struggling feel less embarrassed about seeking help. Currently, the options to find a tutor are not nearly as discrete as Collegiate Tutoring. Having to post on facebook group pages, consulting an advisor, or seeking the help of a star student in a course are not ideal. While prices can range from free to $60 an hour, students have no way of verifying the tutor’s qualifications.

Ingram also wanted to help students find a tutor as quickly and easily as possible. The company is also a good way for students who excel to earn some extra money. The starting price for most course is $40, but more advanced courses cost $50 an hour. The tutors hired by Collegiate Tutoring receive half of that.

“It’s kind of like Uber for tutoring,” said student tutor, Jacob Gambrell, a member of Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. “You set your own hours, decide the subjects you want to tutor, and then connect with the students individually. It takes a lot of the unnecessary hassle out of the way.”

Collegiate Tutoring has over 250 customers, as well as a partnership with two Greek houses on campus. Maria Gorla, former academic executive for Kappa Kappa Gamma’s Ole Miss chapter, said working with Collegiate Tutoring made her job much easier.

“It was clear to see how well the business side of Higher Learning (now Collegiate Tutoring) was run,” Gorla said. “All of our members that attended sessions experienced the top-notch quality (of the tutors) firsthand.”

Six student entrepreneurs competed in front of nine judges in the final round of Gillespie. Second prize was $5,000, awarded to Pontus Andersson and Sam Bertolet for their business, Myra Mirrors, a new smart mirror that combines interactive technology with an everyday mirror. In third place was Manaslu Athletics, a casual activewear company created by Austin Darnell. Darnell won $2,500. In addition to winning $10,000, Ingram also received  two iPad Pros and a year of free rent at the Ole Miss Innovation Hub.

Ingram had been continuously working and adjusting his business plan with Adjunct Instructor of Management in the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration and CIE, Owens Alexander, and Professor of Management, Dr. Clay Dibrell.

“I heard about Lee’s business that he started from scratch,” Alexander said. “So, I met with him and then got him set up with one of our student consulting teams to help him work on scheduling, his website, and other procedural things.”

Although Ingram is graduating this spring, Alexander said CIE plans to continue to work with him, given that he is such “a great representative of this university.”

Dr. Dibrell added that he will also provide assistance to Ingram beyond graduation because “we want him to be successful.”

Ingram’s company’s first-year plan is to expand his service to five campuses, including Ole Miss.

What Works: Syria War

By: Alexandra Morris

I chose this article because I have nonstop seen it on social media and heard about it throughout campus. The title is SEO friendly, as it was the first article to pop up on the Google news page, and when I typed in Syria it was the first article. The lead is a hard one because it tells exactly what happened and when the US bombed Syria. The story then unravels as to why the US decided to bomb Syria. The nutgraph comes in at the 5th paragraph because it explains why the US bombed Syria, which was because of a suspected chemical attack from Syrian President Assad on his own people. The sources used in the story are prominent leaders such as: Defense Secretary of the US James Mattis, the Syrian military, a spokesperson for the Russian Military Defense, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer, a US Senior official, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The multimedia sources used were a picture of a US air missile, a picture of a child suffering from the chemical attack, a picture of Syria and a US warship, a video of former UK ambassador Peter Ford speaking on behalf of the situation, a picture of the G7 foreign ministers in Lucca, and finally another video discussing a Moscow newspaper that made an article “We believed in you comrade Donald.” There is not much I could add to this story to make it more intriguing, other than a quote from the Syrian President, which I assume BBC tried to get, but was near impossible under the circumstances.

Students Get Paid to Sign Last-Minute Leases

By: Alexandra Morris and Carly Owen

With the school year coming to an end, most returning students have already signed new leases for the fall. However there are still some who are unsure where they will live, and the numerous student housing rental offices in Oxford are left to fight over the few remaining lease-signers. One seemingly effective approach is to give students free stuff.

Many apartment and housing complexes in Oxford are offering incentives to encourage students to sign. Whether they’re giving away free gifts or offering fee reductions, commercial residencies in town are doing their best to rope in renters – as many as they can, and as quickly as they can.

The incentives range from a waived signing fee to a free two-person cruise to anyone who signs. University Trails is even offering a raffle to a free trip to Vegas and a $1,000 gift card. Most of these promotions last about a month, and the residencies usually change their offers each year.

“This week we’re doing a ‘pick-your-perk’,” Highland Square Community Assistant Marti Poole said. “If you sign by Friday you can pick your gift (from a list of various options), and if anyone comes in and signs a lease during that time they’ll get their signing fees waived.”

The Retreat in Oxford, a housing complex for students, falls under the management of EdR Collegiate Housing, based in Memphis, Tenn. Craig Wack, Public Relations Coordinator for EdR, explained that these perks do not affect the tenants’ cost, but that the promotions come out of the company marketing budget. He also said that incentives under EdR management are only offered at locations that still have a substantial amount of spaces available.

“There are some places that fill up,” Wack said. “We’ve got a property with over 1000 beds in Connecticut that got like 700 applications on the first day, so at that place we don’t necessarily have to do incentives.”

Some commercial rentals offer incentives even to those who aren’t yet committed. Kathleen Balmes, a junior at Ole Miss, signed a lease at the Hub a week after winning a raffle for an Apple Watch.

“I wasn’t sure where I wanted to live, so I went to the housing fair (on campus) where I entered the Hub drawing,” Balmes said. “Then when I won the watch, I showed up and decided to take the tour. I was leaning towards it anyway, but the watch definitely put me in a position where I got super invested and couldn’t imagine touring anywhere else.”

Some places are even offering incentives to their current lease holders if they refer a friend who signs a lease there. Places like Molly Barr Trails and Uncommon Oxford promise $300 to any resident who can convince a friend to sign. Christina Rick renewed her lease at Molly Barr Trails last semester, but she also recently referred someone to the apartment complex.

“My friend wasn’t sure where she wanted to live, so I told her about Molly Barr,” Rick said. “I like living here and would recommend it regardless, but getting $300 just for telling someone that was a nice bonus.”

None of these perks will offset the rising cost of rent in Oxford, but they might help ease the pain.

Mallory Kelley, the Community Manager at the Retreat, explained it very simply. “People always want something.”

What Works: Redemption

North Carolina finds redemption with national championship

What Works:

I clicked on this headline because I have been following the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. March and part of April are huge for college basketball, the fans, players, coaches, host cities, everything really because it brings in a lot of revenue. The lead used in this story was a hard lead because it begins with a brief line about redemption for the Tar Heels, who are now the 2017 National Champions. The story however is very narrative, giving an overview of the night, but also describing the surroundings and emotions in the stadium. The writer used the word redemption in the title, which automatically drew me to the story. The writer also made the event come to life with quoting multiple coaches and players, who explained the feelings they were having. The nutgraph is the first paragraph, as it explains everything from redemption to the win last night. The story had multiple sources, including: announcers, players,  head coaches, assistant coaches, basically everyone important. Multimedia elements used include a picture of head coach cutting the net, and two videos. There is not much I can add to the story, other than adding a video from last year, when North Carolina lost to a last minute shot by Villanova.

It’s Academic Advising Anxiety Week

By: Alexandra Morris and Italiana Anderson

Come registration time, as students scramble to sign up for summer and fall classes, they first must meet with their academic advisor before their registration hold is lifted.  This requirement often causes a big headache for students as well as their advisors.

The truth is, some students feel advising is unnecessary and a waste of time.

“I think advising is a pain because I can look into what classes I have to take and do it on my own,” said Jack Wagner, sophomore Business Administration major.

However, according to R.J. Morgan, advisor and professor for Journalism and IMC students, said students like Wagner are part of the small percent of advisees who have actually figured out their future education plans.

Morgan said that the most common issue he deals with is having students come in without a clue of what they need to take. Morgan said he even has students come in and ask him what they need to take and suggestions on what they should do for a minor.

Morgan also said that it is frustrating when students do not come in, whether it is because they do not realize they need to or completely omit the advising meeting. However, “that is the beauty of the advisor hold.”

“Your education is your responsibility and you need to be in charge of your own education,” Morgan said.

Some students have had issues with not receiving e-mails from their advisor, even though their advisors send out e-mails or even mass text messages reminding them to sign up or walk in to discuss their future schedules.

Despite that, Morgan and advisor for Freshman and FASTrack students, Jacqueline Certion, stressed that this is a known process that happens every semester so, students just need to start preparing and being responsible.

“I know come Thursday students will be in a panic,” said Certion. “They need to start being a little more proactive than reactive.”

Students have mixed reviews about the process of advising. Some have positive feedback and others have negative connotations towards it.

“My interests are different from most students and it’s not my life,” Morgan said. “ I am big believer in gathering as much data as you possibly can before making any decisions on classes.”

Lexi Purvis, sophomore Journalism major has a more positive outlook about advising and also gave advice for students as well as how the university’s advisors can improve the scheduling process.

“I think the biggest problem is that people put it off and they wait too long and can’t get into the classes they want.” Purvis said. “I think advisors should send out a google doc and make the students come in at the time they signed up for, because some advisors just tell their students to walk in but aren’t always in their office.”

Ebony McEwen, Registration and Record Coordinator *for the Registrar’s Office*, recommends for the students dealing with overbooking to reach out to the department as well as the instructor.

McEwen also recommends that “students complete 100 percent of their teacher evaluations” in order to get an early registration window.

Certion mentions that she gets ahead of the game by informing her advisees that she will be advising earlier than most advisors.  She starts sending out e-mails and advising the second week of February. Certion said she is very hands on with her students so that they will not have any problems getting the classes they desire.

For professors that are advisors, it is difficult for them to teach, research, and advise the students they are assigned.  With that being said, the student has to be proactive in order to stay on top of setting up a timely appointment and registering.

Academic advising for classes officially began March 20th and will end on Monday, April 3rd.  As of last week and this week, students should have gotten campus-wide e-mails stating when their registration window will open.

What Works: Coca Cola Contamination

By: Alexandra Morris

Police investigating ‘human waste in Coca Cola cans’

I clicked on this headline because the title is very disturbing and being a frequent Coca Cola drinker, I needed the full story. The story uses a hard lead considering this story was posted a few hours ago. It immediately states what the issue Coca Cola is having and that there is an investigation. The story then leads into statements issued by Coca Cola representatives. The devices used to attract me to the story was definitely the title. The statements from Coca Cola were also helpful, because it reassured me this is only occurring in an isolated area at one specific factory. The nutgraph is the second paragraph, where the writer tells us when the factory discovered clogged machines, that led them to the discovery of human waste. The sources were unnamed but they quoted a spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland, a spokesperson for Coca Cola, The Food Standards Agency, and Pat Catney, SDLP MLA for Lagan Valley. There were not many multimedia elements besides pictures taken from Getty Images. To add value to this story I would have found sources I could name for credibility and integrity purposes, added a video of a reporter outside the contaminated factory where police were investigating, or added a picture of workers leaving the factory.