Understanding Sexuality: Intersex

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief, and Mackenzie Border, Layout Manager

Intersex has replaced the term “hermaphrodite” to refer to anyone born with “a reproductive or sexual anatomy and/or chromosome pattern that does not fit typical definitions of male or female,” according to revelandriot.com.

For intersex individuals, it begins in the womb. “Males and females are defined by their sex chromosomes, biologically speaking,” said Maryam Flagg, Instructor of Biology.

“There are a variety of processes occurring in the development of the sex organs, including development of the gonads (ovaries or testes), development of the duct system and accessory glands, and development of the external genitals.

“This occurs between six and 20 weeks of pregnancy,” Flagg added.

Flagg also said that there are four major groups where a discrepancy is found between the external and internal genitals. These groups include XX Intersex, XY Intersex, True Gonadal Intersex, and chromosome variations, such as XO, which are all detailed in the graphic below.

Flagg included that there are a variety of medical problems that can occur with Intersex individuals.

“98 percent of XO pregnancies are spontaneously aborted,” Flagg stated, adding that those who are born have difficulties ranging from organ defects to infertility.

Flagg explained that fetal development could be affected by blood supply, oxygen level, nutrition, and chemical exposure.

“In recent years, there has been increasing evidence that exposure to environmental sources of estrogen is causing reproductive disorders in humans. Studies have shown a continual decline in semen quality and an increase in male reproductive disorders and cancers in industrialized countries.

This has been attributed to chemicals that mimic estrogen or disrupt the endocrine (hormone) system,” said Flagg.

“Those who are Intersex constantly face a battle with medical personnel and people in general that there is nothing wrong with their bodies,” said Jamie Fuston, Instructor of Sociology.

“Often people who are Intersex are advised to remove parts of their body that are perfectly healthy in an effort to fit into the sexual dichotomy we have created in our society,” Fuston added.

Fuston explained that we frequently force those who do not fit into exclusive categories, such as male or female, into one anyway.

“If they refuse to identify as one of those categories or don’t change their body to fit what we in society deem as ‘normal’ we often shame them for it.

“Those who are Intersex are often taught not to talk about their bodies and to hide themselves and society largely renders them invisible,” Fuston stated.

Fuston included an example of this happening now, in which the trans* bathroom bill, which would force Tennessee students to use the bathroom of their assigned sex, completely ignores those who are Intersex.

“By technicality, I would count as an intersex person,” started Elizabeth Martie, President of Spectrum.

“Some issues that come with [being intersex] include developing sexual relations with a partner, low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness, just to name a few,” Martie added.

Student Life BBQ to take place at Vol State

By: Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor

Volunteer State Community College will be hosting a student life barbeque Wednesday, April 27 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on the Quad.

The event is a joint effort by Student Government Association, the Office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, and Campus Police.

“This is an attempt to bring awareness to the themes of Black Lives Matters and All Lives Matters. There is historical distrust between communities of color and law enforcement,” said Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, Director of SLDI, and organizer of the event.

He said that he is hoping this event can demonstrate camaraderie and solidarity.

“I’m hoping that a conversation can be held for all to understand that it’s not a support this cause or that cause,” said Yarbrough, “It’s not to say that all lives aren’t important, but rather how all this violence affects the community as a whole…not certain segments or demographics.”

Yarbrough said he had the idea when he was at the Black Brown College Bound conference in Tampa, FL in Feb., 2016. Listening to the success other campuses have had sparked him to want to host something, he said.
Outdoor games will be available while law enforcement officers barbecue food and get to know students. Campus constituents will also be making addresses about the state of affairs. Some of the activities will include running with a 22 lb. police belt, driving a golf cart with drunk goggles and other games.

Clubs will set up tables with information on how students can get involved for the next year.
“There are those who are tired of lines of division and want to be an all-inclusive campus body,” said Sandra “Domino” Hunt, president-elect for SGA, “We are hoping everyone will come be a part of making a change and a difference.”

Hunt said that everyone who is involved in putting on the event will be available to answer questions, concerns and provide information on how to be someone who can make a difference.

Hunt said the SGA’s role in the event is to show support to all students and be informed as well about issues that students face every day.  We are excited about this happening on campus.  We hope it will open lines of communication and engage conversations of issues we face.

“Students have a voice and they need to use it.  Not just for casual conversation or complaints, but to suggest changes and get involved is keeping other students safe,” Hunt said.

Hunt made it clear that a main point of the event would be “See Something, Say Something.”

“Where do you report incidents? Who is a safe person and where are safe places on campus? How to report possible dangerous situations that could endanger lives on campus. If you think the threat is real or a remote possibility, report it,” said Hunt.

“One part of society affects another. Everyone should be aware of what’s happening and be compassionate,” said Yarbrough.

Milk Shown for LGBT Awareness Month


(Pictured: Sean Penn as politician Harvey Milk during a protest against the Briggs Initiative.  Photo courtesy of IMDB.)

By: Gayla Collier, Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College had a screening for the movie “Milk” on April 12. It was shown at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The Office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives showed the movie for LGBT Awareness month.

“Using flashbacks from a statement recorded late in life and archival footage for atmosphere, this film traces Harvey Milk’s Career from his 40th birthday to his death,” according to IMDB’s website.

In the film, Milk organizes gays’ purchasing power to build political alliances.

“I thought it was interesting that they dramatized some of the things that happened to appeal to a broader audience,” said Braxton Dawson, a Vol State student.

“Dramatization is a good way to get the message out, especially with a movie that has history in it,” said Devon Suarez, a Vol State student.

“This was my first time seeing this film. It was interesting to see a need for civil rights outside of an ethnic standpoint,” said Kenny Yarbrough, Director of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives.

LGBT Awareness month is not until June, but the Office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives wanted to screen the movie in advance because school is not in session in June.

Student Leadership Luncheon a success


(Pictured: Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett along with Jenny Hernandez.  Photo by: Jessica Peña.)

By: Jessica Peña, Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College hosted the annual Student Leadership Luncheon on Wednesday, April 13, in the Mary Nichols Carpeted Dining Room.

The event was coordinated by the Office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives and was decorated with a red carpet theme.

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett was the keynote speaker at the luncheon.

“I really liked that the honorable Tre Hargett touched on the importance of a servant leader.

“In my opinion about servant leadership, you can easily judge the character of an individual by how they treat others, especially those who cannot do anything for or to them,” said Lori Miller, Secretary of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives.

Miller said that student leaders give her a new perspective on things and allow her to see many topics and issues from a new point of view.

“I think it is vital to recognize our student leaders because they need to know that we appreciate and support the hard work and dedication that they give to the student body,” said Miller.

Miller said as student leaders are engaged with the campus, everyone can learn what the student body as a whole is needing.

“It is like a bridge between two islands. The student leader is that bridge between the islands of student body and administration of the campus,” added Miller.

Many student leaders and faculty attended the Student Leadership Luncheon.

“I thought honorable Tre Hargett’s speech was very motivating to not only the leaders of Vol State, but to anyone that wants to make a difference,” said Jenny Hernandez, Officer of Leadership for Phi Theta Kappa.

Hernandez said part of her belief is that true leaders have the desire to take the initiative in making a difference.

“One thing he said that stood out to me was ‘Be the difference you want to see in your community,’ sometimes we have no idea of the extremity of the influence we have on someone.

“As a leader, this is important to me because even a handshake or opening a door can have a lasting effect on someone,” said Hernandez.

The student leaders on campus who spoke at the podium were Sandra “Domino” Hunt, Allison Meyers and Taylor Matson.

The Student Leadership Luncheon featured an awards ceremony that honored the individuals in different categories who showed talent and leadership in what they do for Vol State within their affiliated groups.

The recipients were Jesse Versage, Judy Schuelke, Torrey Zimmerman, and Sandra “Domino” Hunt.

The menu at the luncheon included mashed potatoes, fried zucchini, croissants, pulled pork, ice cream, and apple cobbler.

In the absence of the Vice President of Student Services, Patty Powell, Assistant Vice President Emily Short ended the luncheon with a few closing remarks.

New Dean of Humanities chosen

NEW DEAN(Pictured: New Dean of Humanities, Jennifer Brezina.  Photo by: Barbara Harmon.)

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor

Volunteer State Community College has hired Jennifer Brezina as the new dean of the humanities department.

Mickey Hall, Professor of English, was the interim dean until Brezina was hired. Hall was also on the search committee that chose to hire her.

There were about 50 candidates and only five were brought to campus, said Hall.

“Primarily her experience as a humanities dean and an English Department chair,” were the reasons why Brezina was chosen, he said.

“Her attitude about how to deal with people and how to work in a division like this,” were also a deciding factor, added Hall.

Having been the interim until Brezina was hired, Hall knows exactly what responsibilities she will be taking on.

“She’s the main administrator for the division, which is a large division: 55 fulltime faculty, probably 75 part-time faculty, three departments, and eight or nine disciplines,” said Hall.

“We have the new building coming online, there is a lot of budgeting, there are a lot of personnel issues, hiring and evaluating faculty, training, planning, and assessment.

“It’s a massive job,” included Hall.

Dr. George Pimentel, Vice President for Academic Affairs, was also on the search committee.

“We had an extensive search and a lot of good candidates were in that search,” said Pimentel.

“But, ultimately, Dean Brezina had a wealth of experience. She was a dean already in a community college in California in the same division.

“She had come up through the ranks there and her interview was outstanding—she really nailed all the questions we asked and her wealth of experience just really shined in that,” added Pimentel. “And that was why she was chosen.”

Brezina talked about what interested her most about Vol State.

“The people—every interaction in the interview process, from the first contact with HR to getting to know some of the faculty and staff through the interview process, everyone was just so enthusiastic and welcoming.

“It is also the reputation that Vol State has in the community,” added Brezina.

The first thing she said she wants to do is become familiar with everyone.

“I’m still learning the programs and the names and getting to know the campus, so that is goal number one,” said Brezina.

She also talked about how she plans to influence Vol State.

“Just doing what I can to support all the wonderful teaching and learning that is going on here.

“I’m really excited to be here and looking forward to all the challenges and opportunities I am going to find here, I know,” said Brezina.

Even though she has only been at Vol State for about a week, Brezina seems to already be making an impression on the faculty.

“We are really happy to have her. She is turning out to be everything that we hoped.

“She seems to be a really fine person to work with and we’re extremely happy in the choice that we made,” included Hall.