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Uncertain Future For FIU Greek Life; S. Florida Regional Climate Change Compact; Xavier Cortada

Artist Xavier Cortada at the South Pole during his Longitudinal Installation in Antarctica.

Last Friday, Florida International University President Mark B. Rosenberg announced the suspension of Greek life activity for at least one month starting in January.

This year, fraternities have been scrutinized for their hazing practices, which led to multiple student deaths in campuses nationwide and at Florida State University. Rosenberg cited “growing concerns,” in the current state of Greek life at FIU, as the catalyst for his decision.

The decision comes nearly two months after FIU’s Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity was suspended after being mired in controversy. Leaked screenshots of a group chat connected TKE chapter members to offensive banter referencing drug usage, anti-Semitic comments, rape jokes and pedophilic allusions, as well as non-consensual sharing of nude images of women.    

Miami Herald reporter Lance Dixon covered this story. He joined us on the program to talk about the current state of fraternity and sorority culture at FIU and what the suspension could mean for Greek life and activities in the future.

Ready for the rising seas

Resiliency in Florida is a topic that catches the attention of the public and politicians alike. Many reports place South Florida as ground zero for the consequences of climate change and sea-level rise. Last week, community leaders from Monroe to Palm Beach counties gathered at the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, where they discussed their cities’ adaptability to climate change and sea-level rise.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch urged community leaders to work together for resiliency and policy change.

"While many Americans might be able to ignore climate change science based on their own personal experiences, we cannot,” Deutch said. “We can't put climate change out of sight.”

WLRN’s environmental reporter Kate Stein was at the compact. She joined us to talk about the what Florida politicians and community leaders are doing to further resiliency and sustainability efforts and what that means for the future of South Florida.

Climate change through the lens of art

The mixing of art and science is an effective tool to teach an audience about the changes in the environment and motivate them to get involved in sustainability efforts. South Florida artist Xavier Cortada, uses his artistic talent and love for science to create larger than life pieces of art.

Cortada is the artist-in-residence at Florida International University and at Pinecrest Gardens. His work has appeared in major museums and has been commissioned to create art for the White House, the World Bank, the CERN Lab in Switzerland and the Florida Governor’s Mansion.  

Cortada painted, as well as doing community organizing, working with gang member and families with drug addictions issues, while enrolled at the University of Miami.

“I found the power of art to be incredible as a way of engaging others,” Cortada said about addressing social issues through art.

Cortada transitioned into eco-friendly inspired work after his time working for social causes in Africa and Latin America.

“I transitioned from purely social justice work with kids and adult prisons addressing important social and justice concerns and began transitioning slowly into the environment,” Cortada said. “Before you know it, I’m in the South Pole doing climate change work.” 

In Cortada’s project, Longitudinal Installation in Antarctica, the artist places 24 shoes in a circle around the South Pole, each serving as a proxy for a person affected by global climate change in the world above. Inside the shoe, quotes were written to represent worldwide community concerns about climate change in the 24 different time zones.

Currently Cortada is preparing for his winter solstice performance at Pinecrest Gardens on at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 21.

You can hear the conversation with artist Xavier Cortada on Monday’s program of Sundial. 

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