Adidas and Puma to University of Oregon Frats: ‘Nice House, Bro’ | Big Indy News
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Adidas and Puma to University of Oregon Frats: ‘Nice House, Bro’



The fraternity brothers of Sigma Chi had company this spring. A construction crew would arrive for work each day with a small armada of drills and electric saws. It should be noted that the brothers of Sigma Chi are not known around the University of Oregon as morning people.

“It started a little rough; I’m not going to lie,” Scott Trempe, 50, the longtime chef at Sigma Chi, said. “It was definitely the boys against the contractors there for a while. Once the boys finally surrendered to what was going on, it worked out great.”

For a big event such as the track and field world championships, which are being held this month in Eugene, Ore., sneaker and apparel companies would ordinarily book a block of rooms at an upscale hotel to house staff and lease event space to entertain athletes and clients.

But Eugene is not a bustling metropolis with an abundance of lodging options like the host cities of years past. This is not Berlin, Beijing or Doha, Qatar. It is a quaint college town of 170,000, forcing companies to scramble for available hotel rooms. Others rented modest homes near campus, turning them into their operational headquarters for the meet.

Adidas and Puma tried something different: They moved into frat houses.

At the Chi Psi lodge, a few blocks from Hayward Field, Puma has made itself at home, transforming a stately 85-year-old fraternity house into “Puma House,” replete with a canal-side bistro, revamped basketball court, game room and 25 freshly painted bedrooms that feature Puma-themed bedspreads.

“It was a jigsaw puzzle,” said Menno Snel, an event manager for International Orange, the agency that worked with Puma on the project. “This was not your regular event in Paris, where every resource was available to you.”

At Sigma Chi, there is new furniture, a dedicated room for physiotherapy, a back office for product distribution, an ice cream bar and a cafe that, on a recent afternoon, was serving watermelon gazpacho from stemless glassware. (Good luck finding a keg.) Erriyon Knighton, an 18-year-old American sprinter who won a bronze medal in the 200 meters on Thursday, was chilling on a couch in the courtyard. Several other Adidas-sponsored athletes were engaged in a game of foosball.

Ethan Cupper, a junior advertising major and Sigma Chi’s president, recalled the day last winter when he heard that someone wanted to do a bunch of work on the place in exchange for a two-week stay in the middle of July.

“Wait,” he said, “the Adidas corporation wants to live in our fraternity house?”

In recent years, Adidas had used Sigma Chi as a hospitality center for various high-profile meets at Hayward Field. Before those meets, the company would spruce things up — a touch of paint here, a dab of plaster there. But the work was minor, and visitors never ventured upstairs to the living quarters.

For the world championships, Adidas spent months planning — and then executing — a massive makeover of the sprawling building that was worthy of its own time slot on HGTV.

“We took what we would have spent on hotel rooms and used it on this instead,” Spencer Nel, the head of global sports marketing for Adidas running, said as he gestured at the relative opulence around him. “And that’s what made it so attractive, because we’re going to be leaving something behind.”

Work at Sigma Chi began at the end of March, around the start of the spring term.

“There were definitely some things that needed repairs,” Cupper said, “like holes in the walls.”

While the improvements were much appreciated — “It seemed like every week we would wake up and there was something new going on in the house,” Cupper said — the fraternity brothers endured an occasional pang of nostalgia. One day, they watched as the construction crew went into the backyard to remove several strips of artificial turf that the students had purchased on Craigslist and installed themselves.

“That was all our hard work right there,” Cupper said. “But the new turf looks really nice.”

The long process of refurbishing the fraternity’s 40 bedrooms began while school was still in session, Nel said, which turned it into a game of chess. Workers started with a few that were vacant. Once those were repaired, a batch of brothers moved into them so that their bedrooms could be fixed up.

By the end of the school year, several of those revamped bedrooms were already in varying states of decay. (One resident — and you know who you are — left a fire extinguisher embedded in one of the walls as if it had been launched like a javelin.)

Adidas removed any and all foreign objects, replaced the bedroom doors, assembled new beds and modernized the bathrooms. The Wi-Fi network was also overhauled, which was a huge perk for the students and one of the reasons they were willing to put up with so much hassle this spring.

“Some of them are big gamers, and they were stealing each other’s megabytes,” said Sander Rodenburg, an executive with CIP Marketing, which managed the project.

But there are reminders that it is still Sigma Chi and not the Four Seasons. For starters, Sigma Chi does not have central air. Adidas had hoped to remedy the situation with a fleet of air-conditioning units, but the building’s electrical circuitry could accommodate only nine of them. For the track meet, the rooms with air conditioning went to the bigwigs. Everyone else has made do with fans on days when temperatures exceeded 90 degrees.

Neighbors, meanwhile, are enamored with the fresh coat of dark green paint on the building’s exterior.

“They’ve actually come by to thank us,” Danny Lopez, a senior manager for sports marketing at Adidas, said.

Over at Chi Psi, Snel arrived this month as several fraternity brothers were in the process of moving out.

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of your house,” Snel told them.

Puma chose Chi Psi in large part, Snel said, because it was in great shape, having already undergone recent renovations. But the project still required months of planning. Chi Psi handed over the keys on July 10, giving Snel and a 20-person crew five days to get it ready before the start of the world championships.

“Pretty much no room went untouched,” said Patrick Herbst, a former treasurer at Chi Psi.

One of the more rigorous parts of the process, Snel said, was a “deep clean” of the house that took nearly three days. It was a scramble toward the end, with caterers, movers and sound technicians bustling about. The house needed to be ready to accommodate about 33 guests — Puma staff, coaches, agents and family members — plus 2,500 Puma-branded ice cream treats that were delivered overnight from Los Angeles.

“Please take one,” Snel said. “They’re very good.”

At the same time, Puma sought to avoid erasing Chi Psi from the house. So dozens of annual fraternity composite portraits remained in place, lining the walls. The parents of the Norwegian hurdler Karsten Warholm stayed in a bedroom down the hall from the framed composite for the Class of 2015-16, which prominently features a handsome pup named Kaleo that was in charge of “sorority relations.”

“I think that’s the beauty of it,” Snel said. “We tried to build on the story of the fraternity house and not completely turn it into some sort of sports brand activation.”

As part of its deal with Puma, the fraternity will get to keep most of the new furniture while taking advantage of the refurbishments. Herbst, who graduated this spring, said he was envious of the basketball court.

But some of the changes are most likely temporary. For the world championships, the upstairs bathroom at Chi Psi is now coed, with female-only hours and urinals that are brimming with flowers.

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Adnan Syed of ‘Serial,’ Newly Freed, Is Hired by Georgetown University



Adnan Syed, who was freed in September after he spent 23 years in prison fighting a murder conviction that was chronicled in the hit podcast “Serial,” has been hired by Georgetown University as an associate for an organization whose work mirrors the efforts that led to his release, the university has announced.

Mr. Syed, the subject of the 2014 podcast and pop-culture sensation that raised questions about whether he had received a fair trial after being convicted of strangling his high school classmate and onetime girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999, will work for Georgetown’s Prisons and Justice Initiative.

Mr. Syed, who was 17 at the time of Ms. Lee’s death in Baltimore, has steadfastly maintained his innocence.

The university said that Mr. Syed, now 41, will help support programs at the organization, such as a class in which students reinvestigate wrongful convictions and seek to “bring innocent people home” by creating short documentaries about their findings. The program, founded in 2016, “brings together leading scholars, practitioners, students and those affected by the criminal justice system to tackle the problem of mass incarceration,” according to its website.

Georgetown University, which is in Washington, said that in the year leading up to his release, Mr. Syed was enrolled in the university’s bachelor of liberal arts program at the Maryland prison where he was incarcerated.

“To go from prison to being a Georgetown student and then to actually be on campus on a pathway to work for Georgetown at the Prisons and Justice Initiative, it’s a full circle moment,” Mr. Syed said in a statement. “P.J.I. changed my life. It changed my family’s life. Hopefully I can have the same kind of impact on others.”

He added that he hoped to continue his education at Georgetown and go to law school.

The new job this month culminated what has been a remarkable year for Mr. Syed, whose case has again received widespread public attention after a flurry of recent legal activity.

In September, Mr. Syed was released from prison after a judge overturned his murder conviction. Prosecutors said at the time that an investigation had uncovered various problems related to his case, including the potential involvement of two suspects and key evidence that prosecutors might have failed to provide to Mr. Syed’s lawyers.

In October, prosecutors in Baltimore dropped the charges against Mr. Syed after DNA testing on items that had never been fully examined proved Mr. Syed’s innocence, officials said.

Ms. Lee’s family filed an appeal with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals after prosecutors dropped the charges.

On Nov. 4, the court said in an order that the appeal could be heard in court in February.

Marc Howard, the director of the Prisons and Justice Initiative, said in a statement that Mr. Syed’s “commitment to the program and to his education was clear from the moment he stepped into the classroom.”

He added that Mr. Syed “is one of the most resilient and inspiring people I’ve ever met, and he has so much to offer our team and the other students in P.J.I. programs.”

In a Georgetown University article about the hiring, Mr. Syed said that he was in disbelief when he first saw a flier for the program.

“It became this domino effect to see us be accepted,” he said. “It made it become something real in the eyes of others, that there are opportunities. There can be a sense of hope: a sense of hope that things can get better, a sense of hope that I can work hard and still achieve something, a sense of hope that I can still do something that my family will be proud of.”

His attachment to the school was evident on Sept. 19, when he walked out of prison for the first time since he was a teenager.

Amid a throng of reporters and his supporters, Mr. Syed walked down the courthouse steps in Baltimore, smiling. He gave a wave.

And in his hand, he carried a binder with a Georgetown sticker. His graded papers and tests were inside.

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At Berkeley Law, a Debate Over Zionism, Free Speech and Campus Ideals



“Supporting Palestinian liberation does not mean opposition to Jewish people or the Jewish religion,” the group said in a statement to the Berkeley law community. Members of the group did not respond to messages seeking an interview.

After learning about the bylaw, Mr. Chemerinsky met with the university’s Hillel rabbi and spoke with several Jewish students, but, aside from concerns within the law school, the reaction was relatively muted, he said.

That changed, he said, after Kenneth L. Marcus, the civil rights chief of the U.S. Education Department during the Trump administration, wrote about the bylaw in September in The Jewish Journal under the explosive headline “Berkeley Develops Jewish Free Zones.”

Mr. Marcus wrote that the bylaw was “frightening and unexpected, like a bang on the door in the night,” and said that free speech does not protect discriminatory conduct.

The article went viral.

Mr. Chemerinsky said he learned about Mr. Marcus’s article, which he described as “inflammatory and distorted,” while he was in Los Angeles for a conference. Mr. Chemerinsky said he typed out a response to the article, which was appended to it, and then didn’t think much of it. That afternoon, he was deluged by emails. At an alumni event that night, the law school’s perceived hostility to Jews was “all anyone wanted to talk about.”

In an interview, Mr. Marcus, a Berkeley law school alumnus, said that he was contacted by law students there who were concerned about the bylaw. He said he spent weeks trying to support them and wrote his article after Berkeley did not “rectify the problem.”

Not allowing Zionist speakers, he said, was a proxy for prohibiting Jews. The provisions, he said, are “aimed at the Jewish community and those who support the Jewish community,” even while acknowledging that the policy could allow Jewish speakers and bar those who are not Jewish.

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‘Better Defined By Their Strengths’: 5 Ways to Support Students With Learning Differences



“People with learning differences are human,” wrote Deanna White, a neurodiversity advocate and parent learning coach in response to a question we posed on LinkedIn. “Unique individuals and wonderful humans that are better defined by their strengths. So stop focusing on the weakness.”

We invited our social media followers across Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to weigh in on the most effective way schools can better support students with learning differences.

Responses ranged from shifting educators’ mindset—like highlighting student strengths—to more far-reaching changes that would require schoolwide or district support.

Focus on students’ strengths

There are many ways of encouraging students to play to their strengths, as educators Winston Sakurai and Phyllis Fagell demonstrated in an August 2022 article by Education Week Assistant Editor Denisa Superville.

They detailed how they shared their own learning struggles as a way to connect with their students. Their personal successes show students, who may be struggling academically or socially, that anything is possible.

Here’s what other educators had to say.

1. Help them understand their learning strengths and challenges and growing them as strong self-advocates.

2. Devoting time and money to developing teachers’ abilities to differentiate.

– Amy S.

By having high expectations and giving them exposure to high-quality materials and experiences, even ones that seem “above them.” They will shock us with their insights every time.

– Angela P. 😒😒🥴

Meet students where they are

In a 2015 primer on the topic, EdWeek Assistant Editor Sarah D. Sparks wrote about how “differentiated instruction”—the process of identifying students’ individual learning strengths, needs, and interests and adapting lessons to match them—became a popular approach to helping diverse students learn together. Respondents largely agreed.

Time to work with every student. If you can meet with a child for a bit of time to help with exactly what she or he needs, it might ignite both learning and understanding.

Alison K.

So many ways…start with environment, a.k.a. The Third Teacher.

  • Reduce obstacles

  • Increase supports

  • Meet kids where they are

(h/t @drncgarrett)

Matt R.

Small class sizes, strong positive teacher/student relationships, differentiated instruction, and reflection.

Yvonne E.

Smaller class sizes

In a 2017 Opinion essay, former teacher Marc Vicenti wrote about “the daily wear and tear on educators when trying to juggle a full teaching load and meaningful relationships with lively young people who all have different needs and experiences.”

“We can either choose to be less effective in our practice or exhaust ourselves—neither of which is beneficial to students or our own well-being,” he wrote.

Smaller class sizes are one way of mitigating the risk of burnout while working to meet each student’s needs.

Small classes, small schools, local control. I am the principal in a pretty small school in a small community and I know every child, and every family and we can build programs to meet our students’ needs. A country run or state run school system can’t do that.

Ryan G.

Increase funding to actually lower the student-to-teacher ratio. This allows teachers to give more time to the individual.

Cathleen W.

Fewer standardized tests

Standardized tests have long been criticized for narrowing instruction and for holding all students to the same standard when “students enter school at varying levels and learn and grow at different rates.”

The backlash against standardized testing renewed interest in alternative ways to evaluate students’ learning progress, like “performance assessments—the idea of measuring what students can do, not merely what they know”.

STOP standardized testing.

Dawn W.

Fewer standardized or timed tests, teaching to mastery, not according to a schedule.


Give students a voice

Sometimes it’s best to go to the source to discern how to best tackle an issue. Giving these students a voice can not only empower them in their learning, but also help educators understand how to have the biggest impact.

Ask them how they learn and what helps. Give them a voice!

Grisel W.

Yes! Listening to what students need and giving them a voice is something we need to do for all students, but especially those who need more help in the classroom.

Victoria D.

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