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Are We Doing Enough?: Teens and Mental Health

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There is no question that this generation is far more different than any other generation in the past. From mass shootings to extreme climate change, we are experiencing very drastic changes that are impacting us all. I could go on and on but the one thing that is a growing epidemic in Generation Z are mental health issues.

     About two years ago during winter break at my high school (Dulaney High School), a student committed suicide. He was struggling with depression and difficult situations going on at home and he couldn’t take it anymore. He did not receive any treatment due to financial issues and did not receive help from the school. After that student committed suicide, my school brought in local therapists as well as other mental health services. They also had us fill out gratitude slips at the beginning of every day so they can post them around school. They went all out in ways I’ve never seen before, and it made me think “where was this before?” After a few months passed, they stopped doing that and things went back to the way they were before, when none of those resources were there and there were just the five counselors catering to the needs of over 2,000 students. 

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Art by Lydia Ortiz (Courtesy of Teen Vogue)

     I had to go to counseling a few times during my high school years and to sum it up, it wasn’t that great. When you make an appointment at Dulaney, you go to the counseling office, fill out a request form, and wait for about a week before a counselor gets back to you. On the day of your appointment, you go in and you vent to them and they sometimes help out, but the most they can do is give you a pamphlet and tell you to go back to class. What kind of method is that? That right there just told me that they didn’t care. There are over 20 local counselors and mental health services in the Baltimore area and public schools are not taking advantage of them. The only time they do take advantage of them is when it’s too late.

     Recently I conducted a survey directed towards Dulaney High School graduates who graduated between the years 2016 and 2019 to ask their opinion on having more mental health resources at Dulaney and as well as other public schools. 81 people took my survey and 94% of the responses agree with having more mental health access and 84% agree with putting more counselors in overcrowding schools like Dulaney to fit everyone else’s needs. If there are only about five or six counselors in a school with 2,000 students, how can the school provide support for every one of them? How can students easily access support services with that ratio?

     Towards the end of my high school career, it was time to start applying to colleges. While doing my college research as well as going on college visits, one of the factors that stood out to me about Goucher is the amount of support services they have. There’s the Student Counseling Office, Wellness Center, Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) and the Health Center. On a tour, I also found out that at Goucher there are Fresh Check Days to check in with college students and see how they’re doing. Imagine if public high schools had these resources. Like I’ve said before, I came from Dulaney High School, one of the best high schools in the state and when I came to Goucher, it made me realize how much I was missing out on. There were all these resources I could’ve used back in high school when I was going through a lot of rough times, but couldn’t due to lack of availability.

     I’ve been at Goucher for about a month or so and recently I’ve made appointments with the Student Counseling Center. When you make an appointment, you call them and tell them when you’re available. Then, the Counseling Center will send you an email explaining what the appointment will be like and provide other mental health lines in case of an emergency. On the day of your appointment, the counselor will ask you thorough questions to understand the issue you’re experiencing. They help you map out a detailed plan and figure out ways they can fully address your needs for the rest of the semester. 

     Now imagine that process at a public middle or high school. Think about all the benefits of having this type of process. Instead of having to wait for a week for a counselor to get back to you, they answer you right away. Imagine them helping you create a detailed plan for the rest of the school year to cater to your needs. 

     As stated in the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) webpage about “1 in 6 children between the ages of 6-17 years old experience a mental health disorder each year.” It also states that depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in children. According to the Central for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, “about 3 in 4 children ages 3-17 years old with depression also have anxiety.”  This issue is growing at alarming rates within adolescents. The time to take action starts now and it starts with us. 

     According to the Mental Health Foundation, “Good mental health allows children and young people to develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.” We the students, have the power to bring attention to these issues in so many ways. Create a mental awareness club, start a petition to gain attention from your school administrators and get other students together to organize events that promotes awareness as well. Shedding light on this topic will help administrators as well as other high-ranked school officials to see how the benefits will impact young people in the long run. 

BY MONICA VALDEZ RAMOS

Recognizing Female Athletes

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If I said the names Corene Amoss or Kristin Carey Schulze, would you know who I was talking about? These two women, along with many others, helped shaped the women’s athletics programs here at Goucher today. Corene “Renie” Amoss played two sports, basketball and tennis, and ran track and field. During her four seasons playing basketball, she tallied 2,220 points—a total no Goucher woman has come within 500 points of totalling. Kristin Carey Schulze played on the lacrosse team. In two years, she scored 77 goals and had 26 assists. Schulze was the leading scorer on the lacrosse team during her final two seasons. These two women hold records that have not been broken for decades and are in the Goucher Athletics Hall of Fame, yet not many people know their names. Not only does this occur here at Goucher College, but female athletes are not getting enough credit all around the world. 

     If I asked you to name to name a famous athlete, who would you say? If I had to guess, you most likely said a male athlete. For centuries, sports have been linked to men. Some of the most well-known athletes are men. Babe Ruth, Kobe Bryant, Wayne Gretzy, Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Phelps; all these famous athletes are men. But what about Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Serena Williams, Danica Patrick, and Ronda Rousey? All of these women are just as athletic and talented as (if not more than) the men, but we hear more about the men on television. Even the boys’ Little League World Series is played on ESPN, but the girls’ little league softball world series is only shown on lesser known channels.

      On July 7, 2019, the USA Women’s National Soccer Team completed their journey to success for the second time in a row and won the FIFA world championship. Most people around the world witnessed this historic victory, yet the whole time I was watching the tournament, I kept wondering “how many people actually watch a women’s sport that often?” Not that many people—about 24 million people watched the women’s FIFA World Cup this year, but Abigail Hess reported that seven out of ten people couldn’t name more than five people on the team. 

     If you didn’t know who Megan Rapinoe was before the summer started, you definitely know her name now. During this tournament, Rapinoe had six goals, became the oldest female to score a goal in the final game, won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player, and the Golden Boot as the top scorer. Yes, I know that Lionel Messi achieved the best men’s soccer player of the year award and Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal to win their first National title, but Megan Rapinoe did both of those. She scored six goals alone throughout the tournament and received an award for best player. Neither Messi or Ronaldo could do that during their World Cup run. And what I especially love about Rapinoe is that she shared her accomplishments with her team. She wasn’t selfish or self-centered. So spread those arms out wide for Megan Rapinoe. 

     When I type “who are the best tennis players to ever live” on Google, the only options I get to choose between are male tennis players. While there are a bunch of phenomenal male tennis players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic, I really want to know why Serena Williams’ name is not at the top of the list. One of the possible reasons is sexism. Take one long look at Serena Williams’ career—that’s what a true professional athlete looks like. She is strong, confident, powerful, influential, and a full-on athlete. Plus, this 37-year-old woman is a great mother to her two-year-old child and she has won 72 single matches and 23 double matches. No one else can say they have done the same.  

     Some might remember Williams as the athlete with the really bad temper, but that doesn’t mean she can’t be a great athlete. Because she is a Black woman, when she passionately argued a call, it was considered a temper tantrum. But if someone like Rafael Nadal argued a call, he would be considered a hero for sticking up for himself. I believe it shows how much Williams loves the game and competition. She would rather lose fairly than cheaply, and that I can respect. 

 

Day Twelve: The Championships - Wimbledon 2015
Serena Williams after winning Wimbledon in 2015 (Photo credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images)

 

     Mixed Martial Arts, also known as MMA, is a full-contact combat sport that allows striking, grappling, kneeing, and pinning. The most well-known fighters are Connor McGregor and Tito Cruz, but if you ask me, I believe the best fighter is Ronda Rousey. Rousey is a versatile athlete and first became an icon when she won a bronze medal in judo at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Having retired from judo, she quickly joined the world of Mixed Martial Arts. Remaining undefeated until her final fights to finish with a 12-2 record in December 2016. Rousey may have recently retired, but she remains one of the most recognizable faces (male or female) in MMA. She is a role model to so many young boys and girls. As I’ve gotten older, Rousey has become a huge inspiration for me. I believe that she can look a fight in the face and laugh—that’s how I want to live my life. Through her, I’ve learned that women can be extremely strong and powerful and that we never have to back down from a fight. Some people claim that MMA is only meant for men. Sports Illustrated contributor Andy Benoit even tweeted once that “women’s sports in general are not worth watching.” Ronda Rousey proves this to be completely and utterly false. She has proven herself on multiple occasions that she is stronger and feistier than most men. Going undefeated in the MMA and now killing it in the WWE, Rousey doesn’t have to prove herself to anyone. 

     When asked to think about famous athletes, take a second and really think about who you want to argue for. Take a second when walking in the Decker Sports and Recreation Center, look at the multiple names that are posted on the wall. While you could argue for some men and why they are great athletes in their field of play, women are not given enough credit for all of their effort and determination they put into their sport. Next time you’re asked who about who you believe to be the best athlete in a specific sport, consider a female athlete and all they do. I know I will.

BY DANIELLA BLITZ

Works Cited

Hess, Abigail J. “US Viewership of the 2019 Women’s World Cup Final Was 22% Higher than the 2018 Men’s Final.” CNBC, CNBC, 10 July 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/10/us-viewership-of-the-womens-world-cup-final-was-higher-than-the-mens.html.

Lamonier, Paulana. “The Business Of Being A WNBA Player.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 3 July 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/plamonier/2018/07/02/the-business-of-being-a-wnba- player/#1ec113885af1.

Ottaway, Amanda. “Why Don’t People Watch Women’s Sports?” The Nation, 21 July 2016, https://www.thenation.com/article/why-dont-people-watch-womens-sports/.

 

America, Your Xenophobia Is Showing. This Time, It’s In Your Music

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Grainy footage from an old recording show the stage as only a single bright white blob among a sea of thousands of people moving in unison, with bright lights flashing across the audience, as fans are swaying uncontrollably to the rhythm of the song. Their screams have radiated out of stadiums and arenas around the world, so loud that people blocks away can hear not only the music, but the cries of band members names being yelled from fans with their whole chests instead of singing. From the view of an outsider, these concerts may sound like something out of Beatlemania. However, this is really just the new generation of fans engaging in the new wave of pop music sweeping the entire world: K-pop.

     And this new sensation, with one group leading the pack, is already starting to overtake the U.S, against every American tradition and commonplace actively trying to stop it. 

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BTS in April 2019 (Photo credit: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

     In August 2018, the seven member K-pop boy band BTS sold out their first ever U.S. stadium performance at Citi Field in just about 10 minutes. This event brought 42,000 attendees, primarily young women, into the stadium for 2 and a half hours of BTS’ signature pop music and choreography amid the sounds of non-stop screaming and general hysteria from their fans. These BTS devotees, dubbed ARMY, are known for their massive and calculated bursts of action to support their idols in both social media and success in the music charts. These results including the band’s 22 million Twitter followers, and them racking up 85 awards internationally by the end of 2018, including cultural merit awards given by the President of South Korea for their work spreading Korean culture abroad via music. BTS’ popularity in America is only growing into becoming an even bigger sensation than previously considered possible for a group who doesn’t sing in English. Their international success as a K-pop band is unprecedented.

     However, this kind of water-crossing frenzy isn’t at all new. 

     In August 1965, The Beatles sold out one of the first ever stadium performances. Playing at Shea Stadium (now torn down, and replaced with Citi Field) for 55,000 fans (primarily teenage girls), the band’s 45 minute setlist could hardly be heard over the sounds of fans hysterical crying and screaming for their idols. This surge of Beatles fans, now known as Beatlemania, caused the group to skyrocket on the charts and in the public eye. Over the next year, The Beatles were nominated for four Grammy awards and received many others internationally, including MBEs from the Queen of England. The Beatles forever changed the way in which pop music has been made, and have inspired millions of people across the world. Their impact as a band is unrivaled. 

     Although referring to BTS as The Beatles’ ‘contemporary’ seems like a bit of a stretch, there is legitimacy behind it. This year, BTS reached three #1 albums in a single year, a feat last done by The Beatles for their Anthology series. However, some may argue that this doesn’t make BTS as remarkable, as they would need to also be outselling modern American artists at the same rate The Beatles did to the American artists of the time.

     And they are. BTS has absolutely dominated in terms of YouTube and music videos, recently taking the record for most views in 24 hours for their most recent single, “Boy With Luv,” gaining 74.6 million views in such a short amount of time. BTS is also the first Korean act to win awards such as the Billboard Music Awards ‘Top Social Artist’ and ‘Top Duo/Group,’ beating acts like Justin Beiber and Ariana Grande for the former, and Imagine Dragons and Maroon 5 for the latter. BTS’ is also starting to inspire even the most popular American artists. This year, Taylor Swift sold her newest album Lover in four different versions, with each containing different photos. This is exactly how BTS sells their own releases. Additionally, both Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran have recently included a way for fans attending their concerts to participate in their show more by giving them colored plastic to put over their phones flashlight to create lights to wave during the show. While both artists were praised by fans for this idea, that concept is already so popular in the K-pop industry that groups, including BTS, sell lightsticks that fans can sync up to the venue for an even more vibrant experience.

     Despite all of this, BTS has yet to have moved on from being seen as a simple commodity or passing fad from a majority of American media, as well as American music award shows. This issue is especially difficult for them to surpass because of the language barrier, as well as the subtle xenophobia that has been a part of almost every interview BTS has done for an American news source. One of the most recent cases of this was The Hollywood Reporters’ October edition featuring BTS, where many fans were upset with the interviewers lack of knowledge or interest of the group, as well as his condescending tone towards the members. Treating a group of men in their mid-twenties who all work to write, produce, and perform their own music as if they can’t answer questions deeper than ‘what’s your favorite color’ shows just how little American mass media actually care about BTS’ incredible success or legitimate talent. One of the few questions they’re ever asked that actually relates to music, however, is ‘which American artist do you want to collaborate with next?”

     For the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, BTS did not receive nominations for ‘Best Music Video’ despite breaking the record for most YouTube views in 24 hours. Instead, they were nominated for ‘Best Collab’ with American artist Halsey. In order for them to have success or be considered real artists, they have to have a connection with an American act. 

     Maybe we can look at The Beatles for an answer to why this is happening. When The Beatles first entered the American eye, critics discredited them because of their looks, their appeal to young women, and the sugary pop music they made. BTS is experiencing much of the same thing. They’re not taken seriously because of their popularity stemming mostly from female fans, and the music they produce comes off as formulaic and overdone to American ears that can’t understand the lyrics (or be bothered to look them up). This as a whole is a disservice to the group, as their style has constantly been changing and developing since their debut in 2013.

     Only time will tell what impact BTS will make on the American music industry in terms of fully breaking that barrier between ‘others’ and ‘recognized artist.’ It seems like they are currently taking a stronger approach to being legitimate players, as this winter they are listed to perform at the 2019 JingleBall in Los Angeles, instead of being at the Mnet Asian Music Awards (or MAMA’s, the largest music award show for K-pop) which takes place two days earlier. For right now though, we in the U.S. should pay a bit closer attention to BTS and K-pop. Things you can look out for are the January 26 Grammy nomination announcements, the media’s reactions if BTS receives a nomination and, hopefully, the win of their first Grammy next February. 

BY JONATHAN YANNES

 

Love is Love, Even When It’s Polyamorous

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The Infinity Heart, a symbol positively associated with polyamory. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

     The concept of being in a consensual relationship with more than one person was first introduced to me by one of my girlfriend’s siblings. They identified as non-binary and revealed to us one day that they were also polyamorous. Sharing with them existence in a community that is already a minority, I felt like I should have understood their experience more than I was capable of at the time. All I could think was “that must require that people never have issues with being jealous.” It’s interesting to me, the thought of loving multiple partners at once, and sharing those partners with each other. I think I’m so intrigued because we are raised in a monogamous society that ignores the possibility of anything outside it. We also are primed with the belief that having sex outside of a committed relationship is cheating, and not only do some consider that a sin, but it is also a sign that you have no respect for the other person. I can’t help but wonder though: Is commitment only for monogamy? Why can’t we be committed romantically to multiple people in a relationship that is healthy and functional? And then thinking deeper, I started to wonder: What if my girlfriend’s sibling in a polyamorous relationship is actually better off cultivating themself as a whole than I am in my own monogamous relationship (and possibly limiting myself)?

     Research of polyamory is relatively new as of 1970. It is defined as engaging in multiple romantic relationships with the consent of everyone involved. There are a few less taboo forms of polyamorous affection. The first of is swinging, defined as a committed couple participating in extradyadic sex with another couple. I’ve known of swinging for much longer as it is represented in movies and television, often through the weird couple that is hitting on the main characters. There is also familiarity with open relationships, where partners in a monogamous relationship agree to have consensual sex outside of their partner. Usually this sex is just that: sex for satisfaction with no intense romantic feelings attached. Because the population of people identifying with these practices is a bit more developed and identifiable, I think it’s necessary to include their experiences in surveys because they are straddling the gap between polyamory and monogamy. 

     I want to first address why it is important to care. The fact that only about 5% of the population is even participating in consensual non-monogamy is so small–and I realize that, but few people participating does not limit its importance. A lot of us here at Goucher can relate to not being comfortable with the heteronormative expectations of our society, and given that fact, I feel like members of the LGBTQ+ community have special reason to broaden our horizons and work to de-stigmatize polyamory. Statistically, it is members of the LGBTQ+ community who are more likely to be polyamorous, and while that doesn’t mean the LGBTQ+ community has to take ownership of polyamory, it is worth considering the oppression many of us go through for who and how we love others. In a sense, us of all people should empathize with any stigmatization surrounding love and sex; with polyamory, though the stigma isn’t who you love, it is how many people you love. Some of the struggles that are associated with being gay cross over into studies carried out within polyamorous populations, too. One study by Alicia Rubel and Anthony Bogaert confirmed that polyamorous people are no more likely to have STIs that monogamous people. Wild right? It’s almost as if how you express your preference in relationships doesn’t have a correlation with whether or not you have an STI. 

     Surveys confirm that 97.5% of people participating in a polyamorous relationship feel that their life has improved overall because of it. Only 12.5% of people in these relationships report feeling anxious and stressed because of their relationships. Through research (via self-report), Rubel and Bogaert reported that “it has not been consistently found that consensual non-monogamists would have poorer psychological well-being while engaging in consensual non-monogamy.” In fact, some data suggests that people participating in non-monogamous relationships may actually have an opportunity for more self-awareness and peace with their sexual needs than those in a monogamous relationship. 

     In the U.S., we tend to base the legitimacy of our relationships off of how monogamous they are. When Obama was working towards legalization of gay marriage, a huge help towards the majority support was arguing that these relationships are real and valid mainly because of the fact that participants could be “committed” to their one partner. Nationwide, we view commitment as directly dependent on ability to stay monogamous in a relationship, but I challenge the line we draw between those two concepts. Can’t someone be committed to multiple people at once? It certainly seems doable with lots of communication and trust. Most of the time, people who challenge non-monogamy feel like the issue of jealousy would overtake the possibility of joy between themselves and others in the relationship. This makes sense to me; however I read several points of view from people who participate in these relationships and I felt myself opening up to understanding their views. Graham, who was interviewed by Deborah Anapol in her book Polyamory in the 21st Century: Love and Intimacy With Multiple Partners, explained his experience as “freeing the way you love and holding your heart open to the possibilities that life may bring is a very powerful way to live. Being able to look at a partner and feel an outpouring of emotion and love for them, but without a need to be possessive or controlling, is genuinely life changing.” Graham and others from different sources all were adamant that communication is the key to success in polyamorous relationships. These relationships require trust and openness—just like a monogamous relationship—which displays commitment. Ultimately in relationships, the expectations of partners have to be communicated and agreed upon for mutual comfort and understanding; that is the backbone of success. Being in touch with each partner’s needs for satisfaction and putting aside the notion that one partner can fill every need for another respectively opens the door to conversation about how needs can be met outside. Love is not exclusive; it is a shared feeling and one that realistically can be shared amongst people in the same intensity than it can between two. 

     At the end of the day, polyamory appeals to a small percentage of the U.S. population, but we must remember as young people to push ourselves to understand things that we may not traditionally have been raised to agree with. We are a new generation with new agendas, and if we accept that love is love, we should accept that fully. Polyamory can cultivate beautiful relationships between the people involved and that should be respected, not stigmatized. In many ways, I feel like I can learn from polyamory. When I feel jealousy towards my partner, I can remember to question myself first: What am I so uncomfortable with? What is the source? And am I considering their feelings in this? Considering polyamorous perspectives can be beneficial and worth learning about. Whether it is something we practice or just keep on our radar, we all can better ourselves from a widened perspective. 

BY PAIGE HARPER

Works Cited

Burton, Neel. “The Rise and Fall of Monogamy.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 2017, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201704/the-rise-and-fall-monogamy.

Pappas, Stephanie. “New Sexual Revolution: Polyamory May Be Good for You.” Scientific American, 14 Feb. 2013, www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-sexual-revolution-polyamory.

“The Polyamorous Personality.” Polyamory in the Twenty-First Century: Love and Intimacy with Multiple Partners, by Deborah M. Anapol, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2011, pp. 74–83.

Rubel, Alicia N., and Anthony F. Bogaert. “Consensual Nonmonogamy: Psychological Well-Being and Relationship Quality Correlates.” The Journal of Sex Research, vol. 52, no. 9, 2014, pp. 961–982., doi:10.1080/00224499.2014.942722.

Is Vaping Really a Healthy Alternative?

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Photo Credit: Jose Luis Gonzales, Reuters via CNBC.com

Throughout the past decade, vaping has become one of the most popular forms of smoking. According to the World Health Organization, vaping has had a massive increase since 2011 from 7 million people to 48 million vaping in 2018. Vapes have become increasingly popular not only due to the claims that they are a healthy alternative, but also because of their convenience. It has recently caught attention due to the deaths that have occurred from vape cartridges and the chemicals in them causing mysterious lung illnesses. Although there is a small portion of data proving that vaping is slightly healthier than smoking cigarettes, I think it is not a healthy alternative, and here’s why.

     E-cigarette vaporizers most commonly contain nicotine liquid that gets that gets turned into vapor through a coil that burns it and heats it up enough for you to inhale it then blow it out. Vaporizers are made up of lithium batteries (like the ones in your phone), coils, a chamber (commonly called tank) for the e-liquid and a mouthpiece so you can breathe in the vapor. To get vapor, the coils inside the vaporizer burn the e-liquid just hot enough so that it produces the vapor you breathe in through the mouthpiece. The original vapes to release didn’t have too many chemicals and were mostly made up of nicotine liquid extracted from tobacco. Once vapes started to gain popularity and flavors were added to them, that’s when everything changed. 

     In recent years, Juul has exploded as a company and its popularity has been exponentially growing in sales and has been consumed by young teenagers the most. Juul have pods (or cartridges), which contain flavored nicotine and usually come in packs of 4 pods and are sold at many convenience stores (teenagers have hugely latched onto Juul because the flavor makes it nicer to consume.) They have recently been under flack due to the people getting incredibly addicted to them fast and getting so sick to the point where they need to be hospitalized. There are even several cases of parents suing Juul in recent years due to their children getting terribly addicted. I currently know at least five people from my hometown that heavily Juul and they know they do but can’t stop.

     I remember in 2018 when I came home for the summer and saw one of my good friends (whose name I’m not going to disclose) who I have known for years and he started smoking a Juul the year prior. This was the summer of junior year and at this point, all of my friends from my hometown smoked weed and nicotine heavily. I did Juul once during the summer, and then I stopped once the school year started and I was headed back off to boarding school for senior year. When I came back for winter break that year, I remember going to my good friend’s house and seeing his trash can in his room completely filled with Juul packages. I nervously asked him how many packs of Juul he would go through in a day. He told me, “uhm, about one pack usually.” Although that doesn’t seem like much because a pack of Juul pods is only four pods, they have much more nicotine than they appear to. One Juul pod (with 5% nicotine) is equivalent to an entire pack of cigarettes, so my friend was going through at least 4 packs of cigarettes worth of nicotine per day. I went home that night a little bit worried for him because of how much nicotine he was taking in daily. That was when I first started to actually worry about what Juul and vapes do to people. At the end of this past summer, I started to see the news about the vaping deaths, and since I know someone from my hometown who’s addicted to smoking Juul pods, this news really made me worried about him being affected. 

     The situation with vaping deaths also exposed the entire business itself due to so many companies claiming that vaping is a safe alternative to smoking when in reality, vaping is not. Vape addiction is becoming a much bigger deal than most people realize. There has been a surge of parents coming out about their children becoming horribly addicted to Juuls and how that has changed the way their child acts and much more. One of these parents is a mother named Kristen Beauparlant, whose son was a hockey player in high school. She noticed that her son, Cade, was coughing and wheezing during his practices. Sadly, that wasn’t the worst of the symptoms either; Moriah Balingit writes that Beauparlant saw how her son’s “anxiety and mood swings worsened, his outbursts so sudden and explosive that [she] came to fear him.” This is only one of a barrage of many other stories that have been releasing over the past year or so. I think it’s important to mention that Balingit’s article also came out before any of the vaping related deaths began to occur. So, this further proves the negative physical and emotional effects from vape has on people and the health concern for vapes has been happening for much longer than many realize.

 

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Photo Credit: Juul.com

 

     Not only have vapes been known to be toxic and have negative effects, but the lack of transparency from vaping companies has gradually began to extinguish the trust in the business. Sadly, this isn’t the first time a company has posed to be healthier than they really are, and most likely won’t be the last time this will occur. If you are a smoker, whether you Juul every day or once in a while, consider the little amount of knowledge out there about vapes and the companies supplying them. Juul and other big companies are not giving the people enough clear and valid information about what they’re selling, so I wouldn’t advise anyone to trust them. To the smoking population, specifically people who vape, I’m not going to pretend to be a hero who will stop all vaping addiction or make the companies more trustworthy. But I do recommend, if you’re going to vape thinking it is safe, look up the company you bought your vape pen from. Check the credibility of the company, and if you have to go as far as calling the company for questions and they give you a not believable answer, then ditch the vape and move on. 

BY OMAR SASS

Works Cited

Balingit, M. (2019, July 26). In the ‘Juul room’: E-cigarettes spawn a form of teen addiction that worries doctors, parents and schools. Retrieved from Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/helpless-to-the-draw-of-nicotine-doctors-parents-and-schools-grapple-with-teens-addicted-to-e-cigarettes/2019/07/25/e1e8ac9c-830a-11e9-933d-7501070ee669_story.html

Cassidy, S. (2011, October 26). How Eletronic Cigarettes Work. Retrieved September 30, 2019, from How Stuff Works: https://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/everyday-innovations/electronic-cigarette1.htm

Jones, L. (2019, September 15). Vaping: How Popular Are E-Cigarettes? Retrieved September 30, 2019 from BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-44295336

Rudavsky, S. (2019, August 27). Lawsuit says Juul lured in Carmel teen with candy flavors, bright colors and nicotine. Retrieved September 30, 2019, from Indy Star: https://www.indystar.com/story/news/health/2019/08/27/juul-teen-vaping-lawsuit-nicotine-addiction-youth-social-media-candy-flavor-irritable-headaches/2129949001/

Caprito, A. (2019, September 16). Juul Vape: What is it, why are teens addicted, and is it safe? Retrieved September 30, 2019 from Cnet: https://www.cnet.com/news/juul-what-is-it-how-does-it-work-and-is-it-safe/

 

Art Matters: The Benefits of the Arts

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The arts have been around for ages now. The arts have been a source of entertainment for audiences as well as the performers/visual artists themselves. The arts have been something that makes people laugh or cry, or feel inspired and ultimately, make them feel something when they walk out of that room. Aside from what it brings to the audience that attends, it brings that much more to the artist. These artists get to do what they have poured their heart and souls into. The blood, sweat, and/or literal tears that performers and artists go through to get to where they are, is incredible. The arts are so important to many, and have benefits outside of the element of performing and creating itself.

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Photo credit by Goucher Magazine

     All art has the same thing in common: It is an outlet for individuals to explore themselves, their minds and bodies, and see what they are capable of and what works for them. It also helps people build their self-esteem. Not only is it beneficial to their confidence and happiness, it also allows them to have better skills in both academic and real world settings. 

     There are many articles and studies that state the importance of the arts, especially an arts education. In an article by the University of Sydney, they state that “students who are involved in the arts have higher school motivation, engagement in class, self-esteem, and life satisfaction, researchers discovered.” When your self-esteem is boosted, you feel more motivated to be engaged in what you’re doing and want to do well. This can ultimately bring you satisfaction in your life. The University of Sydney’s Faculty of Education and Social Work collaborated with the Australian Council for the Arts in a study where they that exposure to an arts education provides individuals with more motivation in their life in all aspects, especially in school where individuals in the study had more confidence and participate more in their classes. Having this confidence boosts their self-esteem and allows them to be excited and want to participate in what they are doing. Research by Daniel H. Bowen and Brian Kisida has found that increasing students’ arts education throughout the Houston Independent School District “reduce[d] the proportion of students receiving disciplinary infractions…increase[d] writing achievement…and bolster[ed] students’ compassion for others.” 

     Being a performer myself, I of course find the arts and an arts education important. However, there are many who do not. For those who feel the arts aren’t “important,” I hear you. I understand that some may find the lovers of the art to be “preachy” and pushing the importance onto them when it just really something that interests them. Everyone finds interest in something. Some people will like things that others don’t, and that’s okay, but there is a difference between not liking something but appreciating what it does for others, and not liking it and diminishing its meaning or worth as a craft, which leaves those who feel the importance of the arts trying to defend their craft. 

     In my senior year of high school, I had my own experience of the arts being looked down upon. A video from a rehearsal of my last high school show got around to members of the football team at our school. Messages were sent around talking about how “stupid” the show was and asking “why would anyone put so much time and effort into something so meaningless?” This, of course, enraged members of our show. Not often is it even questioned as to why athletes put so much time and effort into what they do. Athletics are important to them as the arts are to me and my peers involved in it—it is not meaningless to us. Even a time as recent as deciding what major I want to pursue in college, there is still judgment and disapproval from those who don’t understand the importance of the arts. When I tell people that my intended major is in dance education, there is a tone of confusion or degradation. I have even had someone say to me “wow, that’s a useful major” in a sarcastic tone, implying that what I love and want to pursue was meaningless or useless.

     When I receive feedback that is negative toward the arts, and especially what I want to do with the arts, it makes me want to push even harder to get to where I want to be in my career. A huge reason for me continuing my major in dance education is so I can give back to others what the arts have given me. The arts have given me a judgement-free outlet to explore myself as an artist. Being involved in the arts has also given me a newfound confidence. I went from being a very shy little girl who would’ve never been caught onstage to someone who couldn’t imagine her life without performing, and has confidence in her performance and in leading her own dance rehearsals for shows she’s choreographed. Without the arts and being in the environment of the arts, I don’t think this confidence would’ve been built up or found at all. I want nothing more than to be able to help see through other people who have the same passion I do.

     Here at Goucher, it is not even a question of whether what you’re doing is important or not. If it is what you want, it is what the faculty and staff here are going to help you achieve. They provide this confidence boost and ability to truly know that this is what I should be doing, and that what I’m doing does matter. As I have started my first year here at Goucher, pursuing a degree in Dance Education, there has been nothing but positivity and encouragement from all involved in helping me achieve what I want. At Goucher, we have been blessed enough to have so many departments in the arts that allow individuals to find this confidence and importance in what they are doing, which I have especially found true in the Department of Dance.

     The arts have been an outlet, a boost in self-esteem and self-discipline, and, most importantly, something that has given me satisfaction in my life. The arts have done this for many others—I’ve seen it with my own eyes. All the elements that the arts can bring to a person can only challenge, inspire, and better those involved and dedicated to the thing that is important to them.

BY RACHEL MILLER

Work Cited

University of Sydney. “Research shows that involvement in the arts has wide-ranging benefits for young people.” Phys.org. 27 Spetember 2013. https://phys.org/news/2013-09-involvement-arts-wide-ranging-benefits-young.html

Daniel H. Bowen & Brian Kisida. “Investigating Casual Effects of Arts Education Experiences: Experimental Evidence from Houston’s Arts Access Initiative.” Houston Education Research Consortium. 11 February 2019. https://kinder.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs1676/f/downloads/Brief%20-%20Investigating%20Causal%20Effects%20of%20Arts%20Education%20Experiences.pdf

Babelwright. “Theatre Isn’t Important.” Babelwright. 24 September 2012. https://babelwright.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/on-the-death-of-theatre-companies/

 

And Why Should I Trust Vaccines?

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Congratulations! You are an evolutionary miracle! Your body is specialized to fend off foes using a complicated system you may have heard about before: your immune system. Yes, the system that fends off the flu, gives you allergies, and makes your knee swell up when you fall down the stairs in Van Meter trying to get back to your dorm after your night class. Your immune system can be broken into two parts: your innate and adaptive immune responses. Your innate immune response is the first line of defense, causing responses like sneezing, itching, inflammation—all that fun stuff. Innate immunity works with brute force, attacking in the same manner and without discrimination against anything foreign.

Your adaptive immune response picks up when brute force no longer does the trick. This response relies on specificity, diversity, and memory, as two immune cells called T cells and B cells take over. These two cell types are capable of remembering viruses and bacteria they have seen in the past. After your body wins its battle with a pathogen, special T cells sit around like your best friend after your break-up: picturing your ex (the pathogen) in their head, waiting until the moment they show their face again so they can beat the crap out of them. When and if that ex/pathogen reappears, T cells also alert B cells, so they can work together to eliminate that threat.

Having this ability to remember is what allows for the success of vaccines. Getting vaccinated is like handing over the picture of your ex (the unique exterior of the pathogen) to your T cells without having to go through any of the emotional trauma of the relationship (the interior of the pathogen that makes you sick). Pretty great, right? If you get too deep into the science, you will soon realize that immunology is immensely complicated and confusing, but the point is: vaccines work because your immune system remembers. Now that you understand why you would want to inject a little bit of dead pathogen into your body: what the heck is in that flu shot that isn’t dead pathogen?

PC: ncnewsonline.com

The Center for Disease Control lists the main ingredients in vaccines as preservatives, adjuvants, stabilizers, residual cell culture materials, and residual inactivating ingredients. If you can get past the absurd vocabulary and really take a look at the five parts of the vaccine, you will find surprisingly familiar ingredients. Preservatives are necessary in preventing contamination of the vaccine, but in day-to-day life you often ingest the same preservatives by eating certain foods, such as fish. Adjuvants function in the vaccine to boost your body’s response, but are more commonly found in drinking water, infant formula, antacids, and aspirin. Stabilizers are necessary to keep the vaccine effective post-manufacturing but are also quite delicious! Common stabilizers are sugar and gelatin, or, ingredients you would ingest by eating a cup of Jell-O. Residual cell culture materials and residual inactivating ingredients are miniscule portions of the entire vaccine concoction left over from manufacturing, the former being produced as the virus or bacteria is grown in the lab, and the latter used to kill the virus or inactivate toxins. Formaldehyde is typically used as an inactivating ingredient, which sounds scary, but formaldehyde actually exists naturally in your body at a far higher level than the level present in the vaccine!

Really, it comes down to this: your beautiful and sophisticated immune system uses vaccines to remember what pathogens look like, so later on when you’re infected with the real deal, your body knows it is time to destroy and can quickly produce pathogen-attacking cells to do so. And all those nasty ingredients they are injecting into your arm? They aren’t so nasty after all! They can be found in fish, eggs, water, Jell-O, baby formula, and even just floating around your body as is. Vaccines are nothing to fear, but rather are an amazing feat of modern medicine that helps us avoid not-so-fun things, like, you know, The Plague.

By: Isabella Davis

We Can’t Afford To Leave Young Climate Activists of Color Behind

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Seeing Greta Thunberg’s impassioned speech to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit made me feel a sense of pride and relief. Finally, those in power are being forced to pay attention to the climate crisis. The chilling statistics Thunberg presented on the state of our climate punctated with “how dare you?” made me snap my fingers in agreement. Her weekly school strikes, which she started last year to “protest climate inaction,” inspired the Global Climate Strike (we love to see it). Despite the hatred that has been directed towards her following her powerful speech, both celebrities and politicians (including several Democratic presidential candidates) have expressed support for Thunberg and her demand that world leaders take action to combat a crisis that will affect the entire planet.

At the same time, while watching media reactions, I wondered if I’d ever get to see young climate activists of color given the same platform and having their voices taken just as seriously.

At first, I passed off this musing off as divisive. “After all,” I told myself, “the climate crisis will negatively impact us all. It doesn’t matter who’s speaking on humanity’s behalf; the fact that someone is given this platform is enough.”

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Greta Thunberg at a press conference to announce an official complaint that she and 15 other children filed against five UN member countries. Photo taken by Radhika Chalasani, courtesy of Business Insider

But I started to poke holes through that initial response. While it’s true that the climate crisis will affect everyone, people of color around the world will be the most impacted and have faced the brunt of climate change for years now. NASA called Hurricane Dorian “the most destructive hurricane to ever hit the Bahama islands,”  and scientists Dr. Michael Mann and Dr. Andrew Dessler say that the warming climate “worsened the damage.” The NAACP says that climate change will result in Inuit communities in Alaska “losing their homes to rising sea levels in the coming few years.” And India has seen deadly heat waves and is experiencing a water crisis that will potentially leave 100 million people in 21 of India’s most populous cities without groundwater (which “makes up 40% of the country’s water supply”) by 2020, according to CNN.This water crisis is actually related with climate change and the heat waves, which have been ongoing now in India,” Dr. Shouvik Chakraborty told The Real News Network in June.

These examples and many others (some of which are highlighted in Hannah Claggert’s article “People of Color Disproportionately Affected by Climate Change”) highlight the reality of environmental racism, and show the necessity for young people of color to be given a platform, just like Thunberg has been given, in the climate justice movement. 

Let’s not forget Mari Copeny (also known as Little Miss Flint) who was only eight years old when she urged former President Barack Obama to visit Flint, Michigan. After visiting, Elle reports that “he later signed off on $100 million to help repair Flint’s water system.” Copeny has continued her work by distributing water bottles in Flint, and donating school supplies to children in her community. 

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Vic Barrett, and Journey Zephier are three of the 21 youth plaintiffs (who range in age from 12 to 23 years old) in the Juliana v. United States lawsuit, which “order[s] the federal government ‘to swiftly phase-down CO2 emissions … [and] develop a national plan to restore Earth’s energy balance’ because their lives are in danger from government-caused climate change,” according to In These Times.  

Similarly, alongside Thunberg and 14 other youth activists (all are under 18) from around the world, Ridhima Pandey filed a complaint at the UN Climate Action Summit against five countries who have “violated [the childrens’] human rights by not taking adequate action to stop the unfolding climate crisis.” Pandey’s no stranger to taking large actions like this; The Indian Express reports that “[i]n 2017, she had filed a case against the Indian government for failing to take action against climate change.” And while she spoke at a press conference hosted by UNICEF at the UN Climate Action Summit, she has not received the same media attention as Thunberg.

These young activists of color, and countless others, deserve attention from world leaders and support from the rest of the world in the fight for climate justice, especially when their lives and communities on the frontlines of this climate crisis. Thunberg’s work is absolutely vital. And I believe that I can hold that young climate activists of color should be seen as essential to this movement, as well. Historically, the voices of people of color have been relegated to the sidelines of important movements. That can’t happen in the fight for climate justice. There is no climate justice movement unless the voices of those who are being affected most drastically by the climate crisis are at the forefront.

Letter to the Editor

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In December of 2015, I wrote an opinion article for the Quindecim entitled “In the wake of the Paris attacks, Islam must be held accountable.” In the aftermath of the tragedy, I leaned into the narrative that these terrorist attacks were fundamentally linked with religious doctrine. I was willfully ignorant by citing false information and statistics cherry-picked in order to support my argument. In doing so, I helped spread a hateful, racist ideology that has caused pain and destruction to so many people. This ideology can be summed up as a Western superiority complex. It reasons that our (white) ideas are the best and the others (people of color) must assimilate. This distinction between “us” and “them” is a critical component to the plague of white nationalism. Looking back on the words I wrote, I’m filled with deep shame and profound regret. I wish that instead of reading alt-right thinkpieces, I had listened to the words of Muslim students and faculty in our community. I want to offer my most sincere apologies to anyone who read that article or was affected by it in any way. I promise to use my privilege and voice to help support people whose faiths and cultural backgrounds are persecuted in our white supremacist society.

 

By Cameron Yudelson

Marijuana in The South

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Photo Credits: WBUR.org

Marijuana is the new hot topic in the United States. Whether it’s medicinal or recreational, states all over the country are legalizing cannabis. But there is a clear line on the map where cannabis hasn’t been able to enter the scene. Some call it the Bible Belt, some say it’s the Mason-Dixon line, but no matter what you call it: there’s no legal cannabis the South. The conservative rural south will always exist, but what makes these southern, hard-working people opposed to cannabis legislation? Is religion playing a part in people’s distaste for cannabis? Has a deep fear been ingrained into Southerners’ heads? Or is it that Southerners just don’t want to smoke weed?

Smoking cannabis first became popular in America in 1910. It was introduced to Americans by Mexican refugees who were trying to escape from the Mexican revolution. Its popularity wasn’t only with Mexican immigrants but also in the African American community (Mcnearny). With racism still in full swing and Prohibition repealed, white lawmakers targeted marijuana and criminalized “the production, sale, possession, and consumption of the drug” (Warf, Reefer Madness). According to an article by Alison McNearny, “twenty-nine states had outlawed marijuana by 1931, and in 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed, essentially making the plant illegal in the United States.”

Marijuana propaganda began showing up everywhere. There were informational signs, movies, and pamphlets made that showed different ways of cannabis ruining lives. This scared the white working-class American people and instilled a deep fear into society. Reefer Madness was one movie made to strike fear in Americans. This 1936 film depicts characters using marijuana and, subsequently, going insane. These false depictions of marijuana and its effects permeated society creating urgency and fear in the hearts of the American citizen.    

Though lawmakers have been opposed to marijuana for a long time, there has always been a push from other parties to prove that marijuana isn’t the “devil’s harvest” (Propaganda Ad). Medical personnel have consistently found marijuana not to be as bad as lawmakers make it out to be. One person who consistently ignored the medical field was Harry Anslinger: the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), and its head for the next three decades. Anslinger repeatedly rejected clinical analyses that concluded marijuana did not induce violent behavior or lead to the use of more addictive drugs (Warf). If he had listened to the doctors, maybe more patients in pain could be healed.

Take the case of Charlotte Figi. Charlotte was just three months old when she had her first seizure. Her parents Matt and Paige were terrified. She was rushed to the hospital, but the doctors found nothing wrong. Despite the doctor’s prognosis, Charlotte continued to have seizures. After five years of pain, seizures, medical bills, and treatment, the hospital could not do more. Charlotte’s father Matt decided to leave the army so he and Paige could take care of their girl. They began to research cannabis. This process wasn’t easy. They were repeatedly denied by doctors who weren’t sure about the effects on children or were concerned about the legality. They finally found a doctor who would work with them. They acquired marijuana that contained high levels of cannabidiol (or CBD, the non-psychoactive part of marijuana) and extracted the oils from the flower. Results were seen immediately after one dose. Charlotte went from having three to four seizures an hour to not having one for seven days. Charlotte is now doing well and the Figi family remained intact. Luckily for the Charlotte and her family, they lived in Colorado where medicinal marijuana has been legal since 2000 (Young). If they had lived in the South, Charlotte may not have had the chance to live.

Though other states are moving past it, fear and misguided knowledge has not left the South. According to DISA, a website created to inform people of their workplace rights, 10 states (20% of the country) have made cannabis fully legal, and medicinal marijuana is legal in 34 states (68% of the country). Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and both Carolinas are a few of the states where marijuana is fully illegal.

This group of states could be called “the South” or states below the Mason-Dixon line, but Bible Belt states is more accurate. The propaganda produced in the anti-marijuana age often depicted the devil with marijuana or had headlines that said “the smoke of hell! Devil’s harvest” (Propaganda Ad). In a census done by Pew Research center, it was concluded that 76% of the South identified as Christian. The propaganda created a sense of fear that smoking marijuana will send you to Hell. These Christian Southerners had a good reason to stay away from marijuana; who wants to be eternally damned? After a little research, it was clear to see that these fears are unprecedented. “The plant called hemp is proper for Christians to use for food, medicine, and enjoyment (Gen. 1:12)” (House). There are recurring themes in the Bible that state that God is ok with the use of everything that is created. That isn’t to say it should all be used without caution, but it surely doesn’t mean one puff of marijuana is equivalent to eternal damnation.

It’s time for Southern policy makers to legalize marijuana and enjoy the economic benefits. Since the legalization of cannabis, California has made over $2.75 billion in sales (DePietro). When states legalize marijuana, a boom in economy follows. Business Insider’s “Every US State Economy Ranked Worst to Best” list has seven Southern states in the top ten worst economies. Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, West Virginia, Kansas, Arkansas, and Tennessee have not legalized marijuana and all of them are ranked poorly. With a change in policy and information on cannabis, these states could benefit from legalizing marijuana. Not only would the economy boom and jobs be created, patients would be able to get their much-needed medicine and people could recreationally enjoy marijuana.  

As more research is conducted, it seems illogical to remain in a society that isn’t allowing patients to get the medicine they need. If not legalized recreationally, the Southern states at the very least need to update policy and allow these people who are in pain to get access to marijuana. By not reforming the current cannabis policies, lawmakers in the Southern states are blatantly disregarding their citizens health and well-being.  

It’s time for Southern states to journey out of their comfort zone and begin to rewrite policy on marijuana. Cannabis is not something that should be feared, but something that can be used to relax and to heal. Citizens all over will be grateful the South has caught up to the rest of the country.

 

BY ELIJA HALLER

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