A Student Publication of Lorain County Community College

Policy will ban tobacco on campus

Beginning on Aug. 1, all tobacco products will be prohibited on campus. Rebecca Marion Managing Editor With August 1st steadily approaching, the students and staff of Lorain County Community College can expect to breath easier on campus this fall semester….

Test anxiety workshop will ease finals stress

Zach Srnis Special Correspondent With final exams right around the corner, Americorps completion coaches at Lorain County Community College will be offering a test-taking workshop. The presentation will help students develop strategies for how to tackle exams and dealing with…

Collegian bags 9 Press Club Awards

Kristin Hohman Editor-in-Chief The Collegian took nine honors in the 2017 All-Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards from the Press Club of Cleveland. In the Best Print Feature category, Editor-in-Chief Kristin Hohman won for her two stories, “Suicide on campus” and…

The young and the homeless

Kristin Hohman Editor-in-Chief With the increasing cost of attending college in the United States, it should come as no surprise that many college students have to make considerable sacrifices for their education. One of the most substantial sacrifices is a…

No ‘right’ turn on campus

Experiences of conservatives on college campuses

Logan Mencke

College is often a time of confronting challenges. Learning time management between studying and socializing, working a job to help pay for tuition, and deciding on a major are the most common problems college students deal with.  However, some students have an additional complication to their college experience; holding unpopular conservative beliefs in a predominantly liberal institution.

  A survey conducted by the UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute found that 35.5 percent of college freshman identify as liberal, and 22.2 percent identity as conservative.  The remaining students claimed to be non-partisan.  Moreover, the survey also researched the voting behavior of millennials and discovered that 55 percent voted for Clinton, while 37 percent voted for Trump.

  In addition to being a minority on a college campus, conservatives have claimed that sometimes they have repressed their opinions whenever a political discussion arises to avoid a possible conflict.  Although hostile incidents involving opposing political ideologies normally happen at large universities, conservatives at Lorain County Community College have kept quiet about their political beliefs.

“Certain adjunct professors are very hesitant about disclosing their views,” said Dr. Jeff Koloze, adjunct professor of English at LCCC. “The number of supporters of President Trump for example, would be remarkable if it were known, but people don’t want to say that for fear of offending people.”

  Koloze, a conservative, has experienced a liberal bias against his pro-life belief first-hand at an educational institution.  “I won’t mention names, but after one search committee at a certain educational institution, a member of the committee, who was a friend of mine, said to me ‘you would’ve been hired if you didn’t write all those right-to-life papers’,” said Koloze.   

   He was faced with making a decision many liberal professors have never had to make.  “I needed a full-time job, but I’m not going to sacrifice my principles,” Koloze said.

Another incident of left-wing bias Koloze recalls had to do with what he considered reverse-discrimination with affirmative-action. While working for a federal agency, Koloze was told he got the job “even though I was white”, he said laughing.

  Like many other English professors, Koloze creates argumentative writing assignments for his students to discuss the pros and cons of certain issues; often controversial topics such as gun control and gender disparity.  During his time teaching, he has noticed that many students are hesitant in addressing the opposing perspective.  “Either because they’ve had faculty in the past who have squelched their expression of their viewpoint, or they’re just fearful of doing so,” said Koloze.

  Some of those students who were hesitant have approached him after class and revealed themselves as conservatives, and how they were thankful for how fairly he addressed each side of an issue. “That’s gratifying, but there’s that hesitation, and for me as a faculty member, that’s very disturbing,” Koloze said.

  Steve Brixie, a conservative student at LCCC, has partaken in discussions about such writing exercises in his English class and recalls a time when a classmate took offence to a professor’s lecture.  “We were talking about the ‘slippery slope’ fallacy, and using gay marriage as an example.  The professor gave the example that people used to say if we let gay people get married, then what’s next?  People are going to want to marry their dog?” explained Brixie.

  After the professor gave his example, Brixie’s classmate reacted in a very prickly manner.  “Instead of trying to understand the context of what the professor was explaining, it turned into a ‘there’s nothing wrong with gay people getting married’ argument,” Brixie said.  “It wasn’t a major issue, but it did snowball out of control and was five minutes of the class wasted discussing this topic that was irrelevant to the example.”

  As the number of conservatives reporting incidents of being shunned or scolded for their ideology on college campuses increase, so does the level of skepticism conservatives have toward the usefulness of a college education.

  A recent poll by the Pew Research Center states that 58 percent of Republicans say that colleges have a negative effect on the nation, and 36 percent say colleges have a positive effect.  For Democrats, nearly 72 percent believe colleges have a positive effect.

  Just two years ago, Republican’s views toward colleges were almost the exact opposite; 54 percent said the effect was positive, while 37 percent said the effect was negative.

  Brixie suspects that the recent events of conservative speakers being denied the opportunity to speak at universities, and the belief that there is a liberal agenda on college campuses is a definite reason for the shift among republicans.  “I think that the social justice warrior mentality and agenda is pushed onto college campuses, and they feel teachers are passing it onto the students,” said Brixie.  “I think conservatives feel college should be a time where you learn the ability to think for yourself, and they feel that students are being indoctrinated.”

  If Republicans are worried about a lack of conservative voices among professors, a study by the Econ Journal Watch confirms their fears; liberal professors outnumber conservative professors nearly 12 to 1.

  Regarding the issue of what colleges should teach, the answer may be upsetting to Republicans who dislike the stereotype of conservatives being close-minded.  It was found that 58 percent of republicans believe the main purpose of colleges is to teach specific skills and knowledge for the workplace; while 28 percent said college should be for personal growth, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center. For Democrats, 43 percent said the main purpose was for learning specific skills, and 42 percent for personal growth.

“I disagree strongly that college should only teach specific skills because I think the most important thing you can learn at college is how to be articulate, and no matter what job you’re doing, the ability to convey your thoughts and be able to think freely, learning to be objective are not only valuable workforce skills, but very valuable life skills,” said Brixie.  “That’s a very narrow-minded approach and a very controlling viewpoint.”

Opioid epidemic hits home

Kerri Klatt
Staff Writer

The opioid abuse epidemic in Ohio doesn’t discriminate.  The effects of the epidemic hurts everyone the same, no matter what their race, age, or sex.  A college student at Lorain County Community College is certainly no exception.

  Prescription opioid abuse was the gateway to heroin for one such college student, who wishes to remain nameless. He had been involved in a car accident that broke both of his legs. “It started in 2003, and I ended up prescribed pain killer’s due to the accident,” he said. “I didn’t actually start taking them until three years later.”

  He dealt with the pain until it became unbearable not to use them.  “Because of the winter my body hurt, I started taking them because in the beginning it was fine,” he said. “But I started taking more.”

   His doctor would gradually increase the dosage and strength of the pills. “It went from taking Vicodin to Percocet to taking OxyContin, and then taking it multiple times a day,” he explained.

  Because the all drugs he was taking were legally prescribed by a doctor, he felt he wasn’t doing anything wrong.  “I kept telling myself that it was fine because they were legal,” he said. “I was taking it as prescribed, but at the same time that ‘as prescribed’ I was actually abusing it, no matter what the doctor said.”

  The opioid addiction had affected him in many aspects of his life. “If it wasn’t for the addiction, I would not have lost my savings, house, friends, wife, or had to file bankruptcy,” he said.

  He had lost his insurance coverage and could not afford his prescriptions. “My friend introduced me to heroin,” he said. “Because it was the same thing but cheaper and has the same exact effect.” The prescription drug, Percocet, is known in the opioid community as heroin in a pill form. “That is exactly what it is.” said Patrick.

Patrick is currently pursuing a degree in substance abuse through LCCC

The Ohio Department of Health released a press release on August 30, 2017 showing progress in fighting the opioid epidemic. The press release reported that prescription opioid related deaths declined from a total of 667 in 2015 to 564 in 2016 which is the fewest total since 2009. “This progress is significant because prescription opioid abuse is frequently a gateway to heroin and fentanyl use later on.” said Dr. Mark Hurst, medical director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and interim medical director of Ohio Department of Health.

  The press release also states that between the years of 2012 and 2016 the total number of opioids prescribed to Ohioans decreased by 162 million doses.

Ohio is investing $1 billion each year to assist communities in fighting the epidemic at the local levels which include assisting communities to purchase naloxone, investing in drug courts, increase funding for individuals with addiction, and enforcing drug laws. The Action Guide to Address Opioid Abuse is a resource made available for Ohio’s communities by members of the Governor’s Opiate Action Team.

  The Lorain County Community College has the Caring Advocates for Recovery Education Center (CARE Center) in the Business Building located in room 113D. The center provides resources, AA meetings, information, and advocacy for any and all students. For further information call: (440) 366-4848 or stop in to talk in confidence.

Combating PTSD, a veteran’s story

Kerri Klatt

Staff Writer

Whenever the sound of thunder cracks throughout the sky, the traumatic episode is awakened and relived.

  Private First-Class Katie, a human services major at Lorain County Community College who doesn’t want to reveal her last name, is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Katie developed PTSD due to her service in The United States Army. “I remember the first lightning storm after I got home,” said Katie. “The PTSD was really bad.”

   The noise of thunder would remind Katie of her time of deployment. She was part of the military police unit stationed in Afghanistan in 2015, just two weeks after finishing boot camp. “I was driving a patrol car and the tank in front of me hit an explosive.” said Katie. She was thrown from the patrol car and rolled down a large sand dune. Katie had several injuries including breaking her hip bone. She was discharged from military service and returned home to North Ridgeville to recover.

  PTSD is a disorder that occurs following an extreme traumatic event in which a person re-experiences the event, avoids reminders of the trauma, and exhibits persistent increased stress levels.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, post-traumatic stress disorder is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.

  Katie has spent the last two years recovering from the traumatic event in Afghanistan. She has spent a lot of that time in physical therapy as well as counseling. Katie not only has to deal with the physical pain and discomfort, but the mental pain and discomfort as well. “Loud noises still really bother me,” She said, “Thunderstorms and fireworks, things like that.” Loud noises are a constant reminder of the explosion that Katie endured while on deployment in Afghanistan. “The sensory overload is the most difficult, and the anxiety” said Katie.

  PTSD had affected Katie to the point where she was anti-social. “I used to have frequent panic attacks and be very anti-social,” she said.  Still to this day, she is healing physically and mentally from her traumatic experience. “Sometimes you just have to take it day by day.”

  The National Center for PTSD estimates that 7 to 8 out of 100 people will experience PTSD at some point in their life. They also report that women are more likely to develop PTSD over men.  Women are more likely to experience sexual assault and/or child sexual abuse. Men are more likely to experience an accident, physical assault, combat, disaster, and/or witness a death or injury.

  Any war will take a physical and emotional toll on the Service members, families, and communities. PTSD has a long history but only newly identified. For example, shell shock was a name commonly used in World War I. In World War II, the term shell shock was replaced with Combat Stress Reaction, CSR, or “battle fatigue” as it was commonly known as. Half of the World War II military discharges were due to combat exhaustion according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

  An individual can develop PTSD at any age including veterans, people who have experienced physical or sexual assault, abuse, have experienced an accident, or disaster.       

  Risk factors for PTSD include living through dangerous events or traumas, getting hurt/injured or watching someone else get seriously hurt or injured, observing a dead body, childhood traumas, feeling horror, helplessness or extreme fear. Not having a social support system after a trauma, stress after an event such as the death of a loved one, pain and/or injury, loss of job, home, or family, mental illness or substance abuse history can also be risk factors of a PTSD diagnosis.

  Only a licensed doctor can diagnose disorders like PTSD. Treatment and therapies for PTSD include medications, psychotherapy, and/or group therapies. Katie stays proactive in treatment going to group and outpatient therapies. She engages in deep breathing as well as grounding methods when she is experiencing an uncomfortable situation. Katie’s advice to any military veteran or person’s struggling with PTSD is to seek help. “If a person is suffering, don’t let them feel or be alone.” She said. When asked how she feels about the military after her service, she anwers “It’s hard but you have to learn acceptance.”

  The VA operates over 200 programs for Veterans and the treatment of PTSD. According to the VA, in the year of 2013, half of one million Veterans diagnosed with PTSD have received treatment at a VA medical center.

Alumnus returns to campus to become vice-president

Kerri Klatt

Staff Writer

Lorain County Community College’s new vice-president is just one of its success stories.

  Jonathan Volpe is a LCCC alumnus and the new Vice President for Administrative Services and Treasurer.  Volpe has come full circle in taking the position for the college as of July 2017. Volpe is very passionate about allocating the college to benefit students. “Continuing to support student success and making sure students have the resources that they need to succeed is important,” said Volpe.  “I am a product of this place and I have a passion for that.”

  Volpe grew up in Lorain and is a 2000 graduate of Marion L. Steele High School. He started his college education at LCCC earning his associates degree. “I got my associates degree here (LCCC),” said Volpe. “One of the best decisions I ever made.”

  Volpe attended the Ohio State University Fisher College of Business in 2004 earning his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in economics. He then attended the Weather-head School of Management at Case Western Reserve University from August of 2007 until May of 2009. Volpe graduated and earned his MBA in Finance and Marketing there.

Volpe has experience in financial management, accounting, auditing, consulting, and market research. “I enjoy looking at data and numbers,” Volpe said. He was an accountant and Grants Officer at The Ohio State University from the year of 2005 to 2006.

  His administrative experience started at Case Western Reserve University where he oversaw all aspects of Administrative departments such as Human Resources, finance and accounting operations. Volpe was the director of Administrative Operations, Ophthalmology, and Otolaryngology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine from January of 2010 to March of 2015. “You see a pattern here,” said Volpe. “I work for the places I went to school.”

   Volpe has also held the Director of Finance position at the University of Akron from March 2015 until taking his current position at LCCC. “My dad was the first in my family to go to college,” he said. “He went to Akron so there’s a connection there as well.”

Entrepreneurs on campus

Maria Alejandra Rey


“Just going around with my grandma and my mom to flea markets and garage sales looking for better deals and better findings, and thinking that people were giving away good quality clothes for $5, when I knew I could sell them for $50,” said Reinaldo “Ray” Contreras Business and Entrepreneurship major at LCCC.

  The inspiration behind his business, a project described as a “Conjunction of Collectables”, sales everything from relic street clothing to vintage furniture. Repurposing and reselling what was consider once trash from one person, is now to become someone else’s treasure.

  Contreras manages his business in a variety of ways. From going around looking for the items that are going to be sold, to social media marketing, which includes photographing each item that goes on his Instagram page, negotiating with potential providers, and finding customers who are willing to pay the real price for quality clothing. “Anybody can just sell, but the passion that I put in to it. you won’t find it in that many businesses,” said Contreras.

  Moreover, he also affirms he wants to get to know his customers, explain why each piece of his collection is special and why it is different from what you may find in a regular store.

  The conjunction of collectables has started attracting more people. The business began to grow by word of mouth, to having almost a thousand followers on Instagram, and now with a pop-up shop on the way.  Contreras is starting to think about the tools that may be offered to entrepreneurs like him. “I was waiting until I had an established brand so I could take it to somewhere like The Neo Launch.” LCCC has helped thousands of students not only by given them training in the form of classes, but also with tools like The Neo Launch that allowed students to network, as well as providing them with coaching and guidance.

  There are other students like Contreras such as Nick Foster, creator of Kernel Foster’s Gourmet Popcorn. The 22-year-old business major had the idea of setting up stands for carnivals selling cheddar and caramel popcorn.  After a while clients started asking him to cater their wedding or fundraisers and requesting different flavours until it became a 100% locally sourced business.

  The Neo Launch is a tool available for all student on campus that hosts event for clients to meet and pursuit their own goals.

Student discounts at local businesses

Jonathan Kapalin


Being   a   student   at   Lorain   County   Community   Colleges   has   many   advantages   to   it.   Not   only   do they   receive   a   great   education   at   an   affordable   cost,   you   also   receive   perks   for   being   a   student, teacher,   or   staff   member.   All   you   have   to   do   is   show   your   student   I.D.   at   participating   locations which   can   be   located   on   Abbe   Rd   and   Detroit   Rd.

  As   a   student   at   LCCC   you   even   receive   campus   perks.   At   the   LCCC   bookstore   there are   Commodore   Rewards.

  Students   receive   these   deals   due   to   the   hard   work   of   a   subcommittee   including   members    Beth Plas   and   Kathy   Hodkey of the Science and Math division.   This   subcommittee   started   voluntary   and   believe   this   is   a   great opportunity   for   students,   staff,   and   faculty.   They   hope   this   helps   students   and   the   businesses alike.   They   start   the   process   by   talking   to   the   owner   or   manager   of   a   place   and   usually   they   are happy   to   provide   these   deals.

   If   students   have   any   questions   you   can   go   to   the Science   and   Math   building   where   you   can   find   Plass   an Hodkey .    Also,   if   students   want   to   help   in any   way   you   may   also   see   them   about   that   as   it   is   a   small   subcommittee   and   they   could   use   the help.   This   is   a   great   opportunity   for   students   and   faculty   alike   to   save   money   and   enjoy   the   perks of   being   a   student   at   LCCC.   

  The   full   list   will   be   included   below   just   remember   to   show   your student   ID   to   get   these   perks.

  • AA   Vacuum   World-   10%
  • Our   Gang   Hair   and   Nail   Studio-   10%
  • Verizon   Wireless   15%
  • Elyria   Dry   Cleaners-   10%
  • Coiffures   by   Francesca’s   Hair-   15%
  • Candlelite   Brible-  See store for discounts
  • Regal   Cobblestone   Theatre-   $1.75   off   tickets   except   Tuesdays
  • Angelina’s   Pizza-   15%
  • Arby’s-   10%
  • Burger   King-   15%
  • Cozzeria   Pizza-   20%
  • Dairy   Queen-   10%
  • Dave’s   Cosmic   Subs-   15%
  • Domino’s   Pizza-   20%
  • Don   Tequila   Bar   and   Grill-   10%
  • Frankie   &   MJ’s   Family Restaurant-10%
  • Marco’s   Pizza-   20%
  • Mr.   Hero’s-   20%
  • New   Chinatown   Buffet-   10%
  • Pizza   Hut-   20%
  • Stubby’s   Pub   and   Grub-   10%
  • Subway-   $1   off   Footlongs   with   no   other   coupons
  • Sugar   Creek   Restaurant-   10%
  • Taco   Bell-   Free   Drink
  • Quaker   Steak   and   Lube-   $2   off   on   Tuesday,   All   you   Can   Eat   Wing   Buffet
  • Commodore   Books   (LCCC   Bookstore)-   Commodore   Rewards,   10%   off   for   Veteran’s (stipulations   apply)
  • LCCC   Marketplace-   Rewards   Card
  • LCCC   Starbucks-   Rewards   Card
  • LCCC   Stocker   Center-   Check   LCCC   website   for   student   discounts Microsoft   Office   Suite-   contact   Core   Tech (Bookstore)

Professor addresses “Problem solver” issue

Matt Gergely


One of the most frightening events in a recently graduated college student’s life is the dreaded “Job Interview”.

Baldwin Wallace’s Physics Professor Dr. Edwin F. Meyer stopped by LCCC to give a presentation on Oct. 6 in the iLoft Center. The presentation was on how to make candidates more attractive to interviewers and provide them with helpful advice.

While he gave multiple tips and recommendations, one message took center stage over his presentation, being a problem solver.

Starting off the presentation, Meyer introduces his viewers on the bleak status of the American worker force compared to the skills required by businesses. “What we are dealing with is a talent gap. For the first time in the history of the human race we have a situation where people need jobs and there are jobs open, but there’s a gap because we do not have enough talent,” Meyer stated.

Meyer pointed the actions our current legislatures are taking to help curve this “talent gap” including congressional efforts to give green card status to people having a bachelor degree educational or higher.

Why this outsourcing of talent may be frustrating to some, it’s important to emphasize the lack of qualified workers in the United States.

While the situation may be bleak, there is a valuable skill and talent that college students can learn and practice to increase the competitiveness in the job market; that skill is problem solving.

Problem solving is the foundation of building and maintaining a successful and meaningful job in America’s growing demand for leadership, according to Meyer.

“Problem solving is the ability to sit for a long time and work out something out independently, something new to have this awakening to seeing things in a new, inspiring light,” explained Meyer.  This kind of talent is the kind that grabs the interests of America’s tech moguls like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Apple’s Tim Cook, and Google’s Sundar Pichai.

Meyer hypothesizes the reason why we have a shortage of problem solvers is because of the aging American education system. “Our current system does not provide an ample environment for students to just simply think and analyze problems. We just give them a problem and tell them, work,” Meyer explains.   

Our current American educational system hasn’t undergone a massive change in its structure since the progressive movement of the early 1900’s. This has lead to a decrease in the competitiveness of American children compared to other children around the world at the beginning of the 21st Century.

Meyer has personally tried to thwart this problem facing American students by offering specific course at Baldwin Wallace that focus on promoting a student’s ability to solve difficult and challenged problems. These exercises target the brain, and like any muscle work it out to stimulate it; allowing the process of new neurons that help promote thinking.

Of course students don’t need to take special classes to help them with their problem solving skills. In the end, all it really takes is determination to improve and this drive in the end is what will make a difference in the interview and distinguish you from other interviewees, according to Meyer.

Anyone who is interested in talking to Meyer about this subject can contact him at emeyer@bw.edu.

To learn more about classes offered by Baldwin Wallace or transferring, visit their website at www.bw.edu.

Harvest Festival to help with food drive

Logan Mencke


The Student Senate will be hosting the annual Harvest Festival on Oct. 28 from 11 am to 3 p.m. in the College Center on campus.

  The Harvest Festival is a Halloween-themed, family-friendly event with various activities that is open to the community.  Similar to last year’s festival, a Trunk-or-Treat will be held outside in the Bass Library parking lot.  Those who participate in the Trunk-or-Treat decorate the trunks of their cars with Halloween decorations and pass out candy to the attendees.  Student Senate will provide all the candy and will also award a prize to the best decorated trunk.

   The event is sponsored by the UAW Local 2000; the union that represents employees and retirees of Ford’s Ohio assembly plant located in Avon Lake.

More than just a fun time for the community, the festival also will serve as a food drive.  “The admission is free, but we are asking that everyone who comes bring one canned item to donate,” said Alex Moen, the president of the Student Senate.  “Our goal is to collect at least 400 canned goods.”

  In exchange for the UAW sponsorship, the Student Senate was asked to help with the UAW’s “Feed the Needy” campaign; an annual charity event where they provide Thanksgiving dinners and canned items for those in need.  “In discussion with them (UAW), we explained that candy is very expensive and we always run out, and they said they would donate money to us to buy all the candy, and in return give them as many canned goods we can collect,” said Moen.

  Currently, there is a competition among the LCCC offices to bring in the most canned goods.  The office that contributes the most canned goods will win a mini-fridge.

  Some of the other activities include a bouncy house, carnival games, and a mummy-wrapping game where children will either be wrapped in toilet paper or the children wrap their parents.

  Volunteers are needed for participating in the Trunk-or-Treat, helping with operating the game stations, and clean up after the event has ended. Also, volunteers are asked to dress in a costume for the event.

A prize will be awarded to the volunteer with the best costume.

FireFish STEAM Academy to lighten up festival

Zac Wenzel
Staff Writer

  Northeast Ohio is a unique area that has always been a melting pot of different cultures. From the steel mills in Lorain and Cleveland, to the arts districts of Oberlin and Gordon Square. The third annual FireFish Festival, is an event where industry and art meet, right in the heart of the state where the two are intertwined.

  Lorain County Community College’s presence will be felt heavily during the festival, which runs Oct. 6 and 7 in downtown Lorain.

  The festival is a celebration of the revitalization of cities through technology, engineering and art and the roles they play on a community’s economy while highlighting the potential of the visions shared by those who live there.

  Students and faculty alike are involved in the festival both as entertainers and artists as well as volunteer workers and organizers. Including the FireFish Steam Academy, which throughout the summer constructed a steam punk fish in the FabLab, located on campus, that is slated to be part of a spectacular pyrotechnics show during the festival.

   Joan Perch, the Program and Outreach Coordinator for the Campana Center for Ideation and Invention on the LCCC campus has been instrumental in the teamwork between the college and the festival organizers. “This festival is not your average thing,” says Perch, adding that, “people have come from all over the state and said that this is their favorite festival ever.”

  The festival will feature art exhibits, live music and dance, food trucks and is intended to be something the whole family can enjoy. The post office located in Downtown Lorain is slated to be part of a projection art project and is just one of many art exhibits planned, and the festival is capped off with the FireFish processional that includes the ceremonial burning of a fish.

  Perch sees Lorain County as an ideal place for a festival like the FireFish Fest, by asking people to take into account the meaning of the two words. Fire, representing transformation and in this area, manufacturing. And then Fish, representing nature, the lakes and rivers and our proximity to them. The mixing of these two things, going hand-in-hand with the mixing of art and manufacturing and technology represented by the festival. “While the festival takes place in the city of Lorain, it really is about all of Lorain County.”

For more details, visit www.firefishfestival.com .

Rape in the military: a survivor’s terrible tale

Kerri Klatt
Staff Writer

Many, if not all, military veterans have a story to tell.  Stories non-veterans are thankful they themselves have never experienced.  Stories of struggle that come with serving their country.  Esperanza Correa, Student Success coach for Lorain County Community College, is one such veteran who has a story of painful struggle to share.

Correa was raped by her Naval supervisor on her first deployment right out of boot camp when she was only eighteen years old. “It becomes a culture like its normal,” she said. Correa had been confined to the same ship of her superior attacker for the duration of her deployment.   Even though she had reported the rape and had a restraining order issued, being confined to the ship made the restraining order almost obsolete; making her deployment unbearable. “I had a restraining order but we were on a ship, and the military would turn their eye and say ‘just go the other way’,” she explained. “The Navy had the restraining order because they just had to have one.”

Correa was still new to the ship and Navy altogether. Thus, she was required to do the typical grunt work all those in service must do.  Work that just added insult to injury from her rapist.  “I had to serve him food, I had to do his dishes because I had to do cranking duty which means you do three months of doing ship-work,” said Correa. “I had crank duty because I was still new, and he would throw his plate at me.”

Even when not on the ship, Correa would still come across her rapist.  “I remember seeing him driving around base with girls in his car and I have this pain I have to deal with every single day,” she said. Being away from home, Correa had no support group to ease her pain. “I didn’t have anyone to turn to, my parents weren’t there and I didn’t have any friends.” said Correa. “I remember deployment ended on Sep. 30 and we got back to San Diego.” By Oct. 3, she was in a mental institution and had suicide idealization. “I almost killed myself because of what the Navy made me deal with,” she said, “They didn’t want the shame upon the Navy and so they rather have pushed the shame onto me.”

Shame wasn’t the only difficult thing that Correa was forced to deal with from her awful experience; she, like many others like her, was living with military sexual trauma (MST).

The Department of Veterans Affairs has identified MST as an experience of sexual assault or rape, repeated or threatening sexual harassment that a military serviceman or woman has experienced during his or her military service. Sexual harassment is identified as a repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature that is threatening in character. The Veteran is involved against his or her own will to participate in the sexual activity. MST is a result of a physical assault of sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the Veteran was serving active duty or active/inactive duty for training. It is a psychological trauma that is identified by VA mental health professionals.

MST can affect Veterans like other forms of trauma. There are a variety of reactions in response to the trauma. “I started to believe and question ‘what did I do’ or was it me? Or should I have not gone? It takes a really long time,” Correa said, “Today I am still dealing with it and is something I have to live with for the rest of my life and he can just live his life like it was a blip in his life.” Responses are due to the type of trauma, severity of the trauma, and the duration of time in which the trauma continued. “The Navy pretty much put into my head that it was my fault and that I put myself in this situation,” said Correa, “And this is what happens from it.” In some Veterans, the traumatic experience will affect them for years. “I can still work but it becomes very difficult because I have to deal with men.” She said. Other factors such as race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and cultural variables will impact the Veteran as well. MST survivors can experience mental and physical health problems. “I ended up in the psychiatric unit and he was living his life,” said Correa, “He never got punished.”

A program has been created and directed by the Department of Defense. A press release dated for June 12, 2017, release number: NR-221-17, launched the program to assist sexual assault survivors of the United States military. The DoD had a need to meet the military’s sexual assault victim’s needs. It is a self-guided, self-paced online educational program called “Building Hope and Resiliency: Addressing the Effects of Sexual Assault”. Recognizing the impact that such trauma can create, the program was designed to enhance resilience as well as improve readiness and is intended to help individuals recover, heal, and build resiliency after a sexual assault. The program has information on coping mechanisms, relaxing exercises, links to resources, and referrals for more support.

The Department of Defense, DoD, released the 2016 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, (Release No-NR-155-17), on May 1, 2017. The annual report showed that there is a decrease in service members that are experiencing the crime and an increase in the amount of service members reporting sexual assaults. The report claimed that one in three service members chose to report the sexual assault. The report are the results of surveyed active duty members in the United States military. The 14,900 military members that experienced sexual assault in the 2016 report is a decrease from the 20,200 service members that have experienced sexual assault in the year of 2014.

The departments goal is to reduce the occurrences of sexual assault in the military as well as an increase in the reporting of sexual assault occurrences. Jim Mattis, Secretary of Defense was also quoted in the press release following the annual report. “The increased reporting and decreased prevalence captured in this report reflect higher confidence among our troops in our programs and policies,” said Mattis, “I will not tolerate conduct prejudicial to our values.”

At least 14,000 male soldiers are raped every year. One in every three service-women are sexually assaulted which is twice the civilian rate. “Everything becomes normal, including sexual harassment,” said Correa, “knowing things like you’re not going to get anywhere unless you do sexual activities. It’s a different culture and people don’t understand that.”