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Songs That Have Gotten Me Through 2020

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BY BRIANA PIZARRO ’24

Regardless of style or language, music is something I constantly listen to, whether it be to do work, taking a walk, or listen to the newest albums of my favorite artists. However, during quarantine, I found myself both going back to the music I used to listen to years prior and finding new music that I would end up playing on repeat. 

Nowadays, music acts as a source of comfort, especially in harder times such as these. With songs old and new, some well-known and others maybe not so much, they’ve either related to me or I simply enjoyed the sound. 

With a mix of indie, rap, K-RNB, and other genres, I’ve compiled a list – in no particular order – of my top ten albums and songs that have gotten me through 2020 so far: 

  1. mono. – RM 

RM, leader of the Korean group BTS, released his second personal mixtape, Mono, on October 23, 2018. Even though it came out two years ago, the songs on this mixtape are still some that I listen to daily. It is a mix of English and Korean Hip-Hop and R&B and is RM’s most recent mixtape (or playlist, in his own words) so far. This tranquil and smooth style of music brings a sense of familiarity to anyone listening. While Mono has been analyzed and said to be RM’s way of expressing his own personal struggles and self-doubts, listeners are also able to relate in their own ways. With themes of longing, loneliness, and inadequacy, RM uses reflective lyrics to comfort listeners who may be going through hard times. Contrasting with such dark themes, the lyrics urge listeners to keep fighting, and to push through their obstacles. It is even mentioned by fans as a helping hand in the dark and is known for its comforting words and ideas. 

Honorable mentions: Tokyo, everythingoes, forever rain

  1. bell’s palsy – suggi 

Bell’s palsy by Suggi is a song with a very beautiful melody. Suggi sings this song for his mother who struggled with bell’s palsy, and he expresses the struggle of watching his mother hide her own suffering from him and his regret of not doing more for her at the time. He wraps the song up by saying that his mother lived for him, and he will continue to live for her. While I do not relate to the specifics of this song, I still find this song very beautiful and bittersweet. It shines a light on the role of a caring and strong mother and the dynamic between mother and child in times when the mother may be struggling. The melody and overall tone of the song are melancholic yet powerful, showing Suggi’s very deep and genuine feelings and love he holds for his mother. 

  1. Goodbye, Oh Goodbye – AJJ

Released in 2016, Goodbye, Oh Goodbye by AJJ is a song that shows the darker sides of a family dynamic. This song carries themes of feeling misunderstood, stagnancy, isolation, and the distant relationship between parent and child. The folk and indie-rock feel to it make it sound very upbeat, but the lyrics are clear in its underlying anger and reminiscent nature. The lyrics use a lot of imagery, but the ending lines of each verse and the bridge contrast with the symbolic lyrics by using very blunt lyrics that speak of the lead singer’s distant relationships and the pain that it brought him as well.

  1. A Palé – Rosalía

Over quarantine, I’ve taken a new interest in Rosalía, a popular Spanish singer who creates music that mixes urban, flamenco, and Latin R&B. Her new flamenco style is very apparent in many of her songs (i.e. Juro Que), and act as a basis for many of them. The title A Palé means to move in secrecy, which is a term used from Castillano, a dialect from Central Spain, and is considered an original form of Spanish. A Palé is darker than her other songs and these darker themes are shown in the music video as well. The lyrics and music video are explained to be a way for Rosalía to go against the “commercialized” idea that people hold of her, and she uses the music video to show her authenticity and original style using an ironic setting of monochrome outfits and a factory setting. In the music video, she also has a unibrow, a tribute to Frida Kahlo, who is also known for her authentically raw and artistic nature. Growing up in a Dominican and Puerto-Rican household, I have always been surrounded with Latin American music, so hearing this modern take on a traditional Latin genre is both fascinating and overall great to listen to!

  1. Washing Machine Heart – Mitski 

Although Mitski has been around for years now, I had discovered her recently as I continued to see videos of her performances on social media. Washing Machine Heart has become my new favorite and speaks of the strong, powerful, and more idolized image that Mitski is seen as on the outside and how it contrasts with the “real her” that she may stifle and hide. Washing Machine Heart is very catchy and has a loud, upbeat melody and Mitski uses the symbolism of a washing machine to portray the deeper messages in this song. 

In conclusion, music (no matter the genre or language) comes as a source of comfort for many. Music can bring connection, relatability, or a simple energy boost in hundreds of different forms. Music and its impact on people is subjective but nonetheless brings many together, and carries us through emotions like anger, sadness, happiness, and all of the between. With this in mind, you can submit your own music recommendations to quin@mail.goucher.edu and show what songs bring comfort and pleasure to you!

More honorable music mentions: 

  1. Legend – Jannabi 
  2. love – DEAN, Syd 
  3. Memory – Hojean
  4. D-2 – AGUST D 
  5. anemone – slenderbodies
Image via Dead Oceans record label

November 8th-13th News Roundup

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By The Quindecim Staff

News:

Joe Biden has won both the Electoral College and popular vote. While recounts are taking place in multiple states, his win seems secure. In local news, Washington officially has made comprehensive sex ed part of our K-12 curriculum! (Neve)

In reference to the BLM uprising that took place this year, Donald Trump Jr. made a controversial tweet stating, “70 million pissed off republicans and not one city burned to the ground” after the loss of Trump in the presidential election. Trump and his children continue to fight against the election results and Biden’s win. (Briana)

This last week, Goucher’s wastewater tests have detected a case of COVID-19 on campus, students were tested on Wednesday with extra precautions put into place such as limited people in common rooms and students bringing food back to their rooms (Nick)

In other Goucher news, President Deveraux has been sending out periodic email updates with the subject line “Goucher’s work to create a more inclusive college.” His most recent message includes recognition of GBSU’s demands along with updates on Goucher’s decision to not renew GardaWorld’s contract moving forward. (Neve)

In tech news, Apple announced another event, scheduled for November 10th, last week following the iPhone 12 reveal event last month. It is very likely that Apple will unveil the first Mac computers to use Apple’s own custom silicon instead of Intel’s CPUs, paving a new era for the Mac lineup, in addition to the release of the next major OS update, macOS 11.0 Big Sur. (Marquis)

Looking internationally, the far-right conservative government of Poland backed down from implementing a controversial judicial ruling which seeks to ban abortions amid days of protests and clashes with police. Poland continues to have some of the most restrictive laws on abortion in Europe; the latest controversial court ruling would have banned the small number of legal abortions still legally allowed to be practiced. (Jibril)

Recommendations:

Ted Lasso on Apple TV (Neve)

MFKZ on Netflix (Briana)

Dragon Prince (TV; Jibril)

Come and Get Your Love by Redbone (Music; Jibril)

Goucher Still Lily-White Teach-In Series Continues

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By Neve Levinson ’21 and Jake Pellett ’24

Since its founding over fifty years ago, Goucher’s Black Student Union (GBSU) has published lists of demands necessary for combating anti-Black racism in Goucher’s community. Current GBSU members released their most recent list of demands to their Medium page in June. While it has been updated since then, the demands serve as a clear and present outline of what changes are necessary for us to dismantle white supremacy within our institution.

Accompanying the demands, the GBSU has committed to hosting a series of teach-ins entitled “Goucher is still Lily-White” to further explore the need for, and background behind, many of the demands.

As both a white first-year student who had not previously known of these demands, nor how to navigate allyship at Goucher, and a white senior who has tracked their growth in college in relation to this movement, these teach-ins have been incredibly informative. The first teach-in began with a small-group activity involving both exchanging introductions and reviewing the Administration’ section of the demands list. From the perspective of a first-year, I had many terms (such as the Race, Power, and Perspective requirement) and unique Goucher historical events (prior hate crimes committed on campus) explained to me for the first time. Following this brief discussion, the GBSU led a presentation highlighting the necessity of each stated demand, again drawing on key events that have transpired in recent Goucher history. To conclude, a Q&A session allowed participants to ask clarifying questions regarding (but certainly not limited to) the provided demands.
Throughout the teach-in, it was revealed that the GBSU had extended requests to discuss these demands with President Devereaux, though it is unclear if any lengthy or notably significant conversation has yet transpired.
The second teach-in centered on the Education demands laid out by the GBSU. Movements members have focused on each year of the undergraduate experience, choosing to highlight existing gaps in the still-being-built Goucher Commons curriculum, offering their time and expertise as they have experienced these gaps firsthand.
The main theme throughout this section of the demands list centers on the Race, Power, and Perspective requirements laid out by the GCRs. GBSU members are calling on the general administration (that is, staff members in the President’s Cabinet who have decision-making power on curricular issues) to make the program more comprehensive. By recommending that we fold in the required first-year reading into the first year WRT 181 course, Black students are asking for more integration of thought and deep learning about systemic racism and white supremacy into every facet of our undergraduate education. The third teach-in focused on the two demands related to the Hallowed Ground Project. The first demand calls out white virtue signalling, reframing how we anti-Blackness on campus. The second demand centers around building traditions to celebrate the successes of Black people both on and off campus.

The demands list details ways to expand the RPP requirement generally, giving specific guidance on how to challenge students studying abroad to recognize and name systemic oppression outside of a United States-centric worldview. In doing so, GBSU is offering a vital roadmap for how to mobilize ourselves to truly pursue justice. The Quindecim firmly supports GBSU and these demands. We look forward to the the third installment of this series. We will keep you updated with when it is happening. See you there.

Goucher Is Still Lily-White. PC: GBSU Umoja

Spring Reopening: What to Think?

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By Nicholas Enoch ’23

With less than four weeks left in the semester, speculations on what the Spring 2021 semester will look like and whether we will be coming back to campus is still up in the air, which is leaving students confused and in the dark about what to expect. During the current Fall 2020 semester, only students who fit certain criteria could come onto campus and as a result less than 10 percent of the undergraduate population is currently living on-campus. Due to the ongoing success preventing an outbreak of Covid-19 cases on campus, Goucher has decided to allow at least 700 students to come onto campus in the spring and is promoting the rollout of hy-flex [hybrid online and in-person] courses. However the response to the news has been mixed at best.

Sophomore Anna Williams ‘23, who currently lives on campus, expressed concern that allowing a large amount of students back can create more problems:

“I am concerned that if we do come back, then we will get shut down again and will hurt the students who need campus housing like myself.”

In a recent email by Student Success, students who apply for on-campus housing are subject to a system of prioritization which is ordered as follows: first-year students, student-athletes, sophomore students, non-athlete seniors, non-athlete juniors, and then students currently residing less than 25 miles from campus placed last. This priority list has garnered frustration to juniors and seniors who are in need of campus housing, as they are the least priority and may not receiving housing, even if they apply for it. Following the email, students took to the Gopher app to express outrage and vent over the prioritization of on-campus housing, especially the perception of leaving juniors and seniors out in the cold.

Sophomore Tara Abdullah Nri ’23 said, “I do find it weird that sophomores are being prioritized over seniors as a sophomore myself.”

Junior Sarah Ohana ‘22, a biology major, also noted that some of her classes would require her to be on campus for some of her classes:

“My major and minor are very intense and they require many classes that I’ll need to take one after the other or else I will be behind in my graduating requirements, which is not my goal to be behind in at all. I was told that possibly one of my science classes will have a mandatory lab in person requirement and if that is the case, then I will have to live on campus or close to campus most likely.”

Not only has the priority list have received criticism, the level of safety and enforcement of CDC guidelines such as social distancing and staying 6 feet apart has received mixed reaction. In an email by the Spring Reopening Task Force, it is stated that each resident on campus will be living in single rooms.

First-year Autumn Custis ‘24, who currently resides on campus, believes that Goucher will be able to follow CDC guidelines: “I feel very comfortable with coming back to campus because of the frequent testing and mask regulations they put in place.”

However, students who are currently not on campus, like junior Quinn Tran ‘22, feel otherwise about returning to campus: “I don’t want something like Fall happened when they said to reopen, [sic] yet they moved online. Will they assure us that this won’t happen again?”

Abdullah Nri also spoke about returning to campus:

“I feel like there’s a good chance that there will be a breakout on campus which would be risky for the whole population and in that case I wouldn’t be able to go home because my parents are both in the at-risk category in multiple ways and I wouldn’t want to risk it.

From reading the emails and speaking with students both on and off campus, my opinion on students coming back to campus is up in the air. I do feel that the priority list of students that should come back should be changed or revised to acknowledge students who need housing. Also, there is a reoccurring pattern that what happened last Spring and this Fall will happen again, and I myself fear that too, being a first-year who needs campus housing. My hope, like most if not all of the students, is that Goucher makes a decision and stands by their choice instead of committing and then backing off. With coronavirus cases rising all across the country, my biggest fear is coming on to campus and then in a matter of weeks having to leave. With the Spring 2021 semester still looking up in the air, who knows what kind of semester we will all be walking into when classes start in February.

A lonely Welsh Hall. PC: Nicholas Enoch ’23

An Interview with Aarika Camp

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Conducted by Jibril Howard ’22 and Neve Levinson ‘21

On July 9th, Goucher announced the appointment of Aarika Camp Ph.D. as the new Vice-President and Dean of Students (VP & DOS). Overseeing the administrative division of Student Affairs, Dean Camp is tasked (among other things) with overseeing student life, Title IX compliance, tackling and or addressing diversity and discrimination, and helping students naviage and manage life at Goucher college in myriad ways. The VP & DOS position was among several filled over Covid-19 lockdown and summer including that of Associate Dean of Students for Diversity Equity and Title IX Juan Hernandez; Vice President of Campus Operations Erik Thompson; and Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Elaine Meyer-Lee. The Q staff will be interviewing all these new staff members – below is our conversation with Dean Camp. 

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Jibril: Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself, such as your previous position, what led you to Goucher, and your top three fun facts about yourself?

“OK, so before Goucher, I was at Nova Southeastern University. It’s a school in Fort Lauderdale [Florida] and it’s about 20,000 students, we had seven campuses, and most of the students were professional or grad students so I’ve worked with every type of med school student you could possibly think of from orthodontics to osteopathic medicine – like everything. I was there for 13 years. I’ve been in housing most of my career before I started being upper administration (loved it) and before there I was at Florida International [University]. I was in Florida for a lot of years at different types of institutions.

I realized – I think through the pandemic a lot of people had reflection – and being locked in my condo for months and going through obviously social unrest and figuring out what was important to me and my values. I was going to try and do that type of work, now being at a school that…is still trying to push it and the students are pushing it as well. It’s really important to me. That’s what attracted me to Goucher.

Three fun facts? Well no one would be surprised if anybody else was here…my first fun fact is I’m obsessed with BTS. I’m definitely a member of  BTS I’m a definitely a member of Army [US BTS fan group] so this past weekend I watched about 16 hours-worth of BTS live concerts and all in Korean Time not in Eastern Standard Time so Saturday it was 6:00 AM and Sunday Morning it was at 3:00 AM. Anything BTS I’m on it. Another fun fact: I don’t wear colors. So, you’ll never see me outside in navy blue, grey, or black. This is actually the most fun print I have [black and white polka-dots]. Another fun fact is I’m the shortest in my family and I’m six feet tall. Even my nephew who is 15 is already 6’2 and he’s turning 16 in two weeks.”

What drove you to take on this position at Goucher?

“So it really kind of started…I felt like I had been proceeding according to my career goals there but then once everything really started happening from the pandemic it really started…I had always been a proponent in trying to get students to be more engaged in not only their experience on campus but also so they’re just experienced in the world and helping them to find what their identity was, and it was time that I start pushing the students and myself more in those types of conversations and so just it came to a point where I had written with a bunch of faculty to our president about how the social unrest was impacting us and the president received the email and the letter but I didn’t feel like it was received well enough to do work and so even now [at Goucher] GBSU [Goucher Black Student Union] has reached out a couple times and I’m about doing the work. We can have all the conversations in the world but until the pen hits the paper and things start happening…that’s where I felt like here would be the right place, in the right position, for me to start doing that whereas I didn’t have the position there to do that. I think also doing my interview process, the students that I met with all are looking for someone that could speak that same language of “how do we do this?” “How can we push the needle forward?” Not everything is going to go the way that they want but knowing that somebody is willing to listen – because I know that was important to me – that’s really what led me here.”

That leads me into my next question. What do you kind of see as your long- and short-term goals for your position? And you brought up working with GBSU, do you see their goals as being intertwined with your own?

“Well I think part of my short and long-term goals is to really assess what the student experience is, and not just for GBSU, but for any student on campus. I was always one of those students in college, I didn’t really know what group I fit into most of the time, and even now it’s not often you see a 41-year old African American woman at a BTS concert. You just don’t usually. Making sure students can find their niche on campus takes a lot of digging and investigating and asking questions about what your experience is, what are you looking for and what you want. Really trying to figure out what students are not tapping into that we really need to understand what their experiences is [sic]. I think again that with GBSU that would fall into the category for right now. The students who identify as Black and or African American don’t feel as engaged on campus and so how do we address that? Every year it can be a different population and so I just always have to be open to hearing that and addressing that.

 I think another goal is that I haven’t worked with GCC [Goucher Consent Coalition] yet, but I’ve heard the safety concerns on campus. I think that’s another important goal I need to tackle in my role is what does a safe campus look like and not just safe in regards to Title IX issues. Just safe in terms of even if there is a student that doesn’t go with the norms of the college, so let’s say if it’s an extreme conservative student, they still have the right to share their opinions and be heard. Making sure that there is a safe campus for all of us to share our ideas in a constructive way that doesn’t hurt anyone else but that we still feel like we’re celebrated for who we are is important.

I think another goal is really trying to find what students expect out of a Vice-President. Some students here had Bryan [Coker] before, some of the grad students [who] went here for undergrad may have had somebody even different than Bryan. And so what the expectations are; I think another thing is I’m very authentic and transparent if you can’t already tell by conversation with you so just making sure that I’m able to forge relationships with students where they do feel right there is an upper-level administrator that they could go to and we may not always be on the same page but there going to always be heard.”

Neve: I think one question we have…it’s related to the GBSU demands out right now, you were talking about putting in the work and not just talking about stuff. How do you see that moving forward and where do you see your role in that besides being a listener?

“Well I think it’s open communication with them. We’ve exchanged some emails and trying to figure out when is a time we could meet to collaborate. I also think the ownership is the cabinet as well – I shared that with my interview process as well. I was born up Black and I’m probably going to leave this earth Black. My experience has been trying to understand what their experience has been and that some of their demands they shouldn’t have to tell us. As a person and as a part of the community I should be able to identify some of the demands on campus myself and start addressing them separately than GBSU. I think that’s where my philosophy is: what work can I be doing separately without them having to point to me and then what issues can they point to me that I can also address?”

Such as building those partnerships you were talking about before?

Exactly. I think the other part is we can’t rely on the students to always identify issues. We also have to be able to identify some issues that they may not see readily. That means also building a rapport where hopefully in years to come there won’t need to be a demand letter because I would’ve already had conversations where we can start fostering that regular communication that doesn’t have to lead to that type of request. If you think about our global society now, Black people have always either tried to vote to get that respect for their rights, tried to peacefully protest, tried to peacefully write to people, have done all of these things that didn’t necessarily pan out in the way we wanted so yeah people are mad now. My thing is if you’re responding appropriately along the way you don’t have to wait until people get so frustrated and mad that it turns to anger if you’re doing it the right way before. In my ten-year year that’s what I want to get to the point where people don’t have to write demand letters because we’ve been communicating and talking and looking at issues before it got to that point.”

New Vice President and Dean of Students Aarika Camp PC: Goucher College Official Website

Jibril: You brought up GCC earlier and their work obviously falls under the national context with the Presidential Election coming up and with the new Title IX guidelines that Goucher has had to adapt to which of course may change another six months from now. Can you address and speak to how you’re managing the [uncertainty surrounding the new Title IX policies]? Can you set expectations for students?

“I think the hard part right is that none of us can set expectations around it. I mean just in the last three and half years there’s been so much change that no one can even predict what will come out next. I mean there’s been a recent recension of the Clery Report, the Clery Handbooks that come out, that none of us expected. Who would’ve expected the recension of a reporting book such as that! That’s where I could have all the expectations in the world but until I get a real understanding of where we’re going to stand politically it’s just going to keep coming down the pipeline. I was talking to one of my colleagues probably a couple months ago and I can’t believe now the opportunity for cross-examination and an in-person cross-examination as a part of Title IX. I mean none of us would have expected that year ago and so that’s where it’s hard. It’s hard because as Student Affairs and as open-minded people, and as just people, we want to do what’s right by people involved in situations like this but then if we have regulations that we have to abide by or we’re going to get in trouble then there’s not a whole lot we can do. We’re kind of bound to that. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what the next regulations are going to be. You’re absolutely right – after six months it could be something completely different if the government shifts [or] if the government stays the same it could be something even more different in three months not even six. I think that’s where we’re all concerned about. There hasn’t been enough consistency. There hasn’t been enough time. I mean even to put out regulations during a pandemic and give it when colleges aren’t open. I can’t even begin to tell you why the expectation was “Hey! Colleges aren’t open so let’s put out new Title IX regulations” while we’re trying to stay alive in a pandemic.  It’s those sorts of things where I think every vice president of student affairs is frustrated right now. We’re trying to implement things on our campus to keep people safe but then we’re given regulations that kind of make it difficult to do that in certain aspects.”

You’ve already touched on this a little but how are you adjusting to your job in the middle of the pandemic? How is it different to what you were envisioning coming into your position?

“The hard part is I’ve always been a student-centered type person. Even on social media I still keep in touch with students from my last institution and I’m trying to connect to a student here. It’s hard when you’re trying to forge relationships with people that you haven’t met in person. I can pick up social cues from you over Zoom but it’s very different than if you’re sitting right here and so I think that’s different. I haven’t met a lot of people yet so that’s been interesting. What I’m trying to do is that anytime anyone has asked me for a meeting, kind of like how you emailed me the other day, I try to respond quickly and say “when are you free?” and so I think that’s trying to be accessible in that. It’s also helpful where no student feels like they can’t get time with me. That’s a good part about Zoom and I’m a night owl so it’s like I’ll find the time. That’s been the challenge…setting that identity and tone now where if you have emailed me and say, “can we meet?” [the response would be] “absolutely, let’s find the time.””

***

This interview with Dean Camp is the second in a series of interviews with new staff hires. We have included the entire transcript of the interview because we are in a critical position on campus right now. The enormous amount of administrative turnover that has taken place in the past two or three years is finally culminating in the hiring of people to hold key positions of influence. As Goucher’s independent student newspaper, we see ourselves as students tasked with the responsibility of seeking out information from members of our community and re-expressing it to our readers. The transmission of information is crucial to give our peers access to this knowledge so we can shape student activism moving forward. Please stay tuned for future interviews.

GSG Instagram Repost Gaffe

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By Neve Levinson ’21 with additional reporting from Jibril Howard ’22, Co-Editors-in-Chief

The second headline-worthy recent GSG news relates to social media, our favorite topic of discussion. As casual observers within the Goucher community, we were a little confused about why @goucherstugov [GSG’s official Instagram account] reposted a job listing, but thought it was a nice gesture to potentially address a need within the student body.

This is only newsworthy because a few students did their fact-checking and got in touch with the Student Government page pointing out that they had, in fact, reposted a pyramid scheme. One of these students was Jake Pellett ‘24. 

When we confirmed this timeline with him, Pellett said: 

“Yeah, it probably took about three or four minutes in total. I typed in the website link, saw ‘Vector Marketing,’ double checked that Vector Marketing was the thing that I thought it was, so I looked up Vector Marketing. And the first thing that comes up is a bunch of lawsuits, and then I drafted a comment and posted it.” 

We followed up asking about if he thought GSG’s response to his comment was appropriate. 

“OH NO! Oh no. You would have thought that somebody died by the response that was posted. I don’t know if you have the exact wording available, but it was something like ‘we apologize to the entire Goucher community for posting something that some community members disagreed with.’ If that is how serious something like that is being taken, how are we expecting something that is legitimately serious to be put on equivalent grounding? I think that when you go as grand as to be like ‘members of our community had alternative views of this organization,’ instead of just ‘I posted a pyramid scheme.’ It just totally puts things into a very awful perspective.”

An appropriate response, Pellett told us, would be: 

“‘Hey, it was pointed out to me that the organization that I highlighted is not a legitimate business. Please don’t apply.’ I think that no apology to the community at large is necessary, or blowing it out of proportion as much as it was. I think keeping it simple, concise, and in perspective is really important. Very often, from the GSG meetings I’ve sat in on, things get blown out of perspective very quickly. I think that that’s the kind of thing that ruins the credibility and functionality of an organization.”


We would like to note that at least one student did reach out to the illegitimate company, and were appreciative of how GSG responded, telling us via text that “I just thought it was an honest mistake and I’m so glad they [GSG] reached out immediately after. I do think they should be more informed before making posts and giving out information.” This student did note that “the application process was very…shady so either way I became disinterested quickly in the process,” which is about as ringing an endorsement for trusting your gut while applying for jobs as anything.

We also asked Pellett what GSG’s response tells him as a first year, particularly as someone learning about student government. Pellett told us:

 “I think that it’s a clear example of a lot of things that people have been saying about GSG in smaller conversations – that it’s people trying to do good, without any concept of how good should be done. It’s people seeing this is a great opportunity to help the community by posting a job application…It’s an attempt to do good, that is just not really heavily thought about, looked through, fact-checked, or anything like that. It’s very worrying as far as the credibility of GSG goes, but also it’s very confusing about what the purpose of GSG is if they’re willing to post job applications, and not really work as a body between Goucher students and Goucher administration.” 

Another first year, Mich Rouse ‘24, weighed in on the same question, saying, 

“The confusion within GSG’s leadership, or maybe even the lack thereof, signifies how crucial it is for them to communicate with the Goucher community. Specifically, Goucher’s newest community members, the Class of 2024. We’re first-year students who have been stripped away final goodbyes of our high school lives, stripped away formal introductions to our first semester of college that is online, but we’re trying our best to be involved in extracurriculars as much as possible to keep some normalcy intact. With that, how can we get involved if an organization such as GSG, one that represents the entire student body, conducts meetings that aren’t either weekly or open to the public? Again, GSG represents the entire student body, right? Then why aren’t they effectively communicating with the newest student body? I want to understand GSG’s role within the Goucher community, but I don’t think they understand what their role is [either].”

Pellett closed out our interview by saying, “I’m looking forward to when the Class of 2024 gets to participate in the elections coming up!”

A Look Inside GSG Changes: Observer vs Active Senators

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By Neve Levinson ’21 with additional reporting from Jibril Howard ’22, Co-Editors-in-Chief

Under its current Constitution, there are 16 Senators within Goucher Student Government, with either two Co-Presidents or a President and Vice President leading the organization. Each of these eighteen members are elected by the student body through a digital voting process overseen by the Elections Commissioner, a position currently held by Christina Charikofsky ‘21. Senate elections take place every November, and each term is a year.

GSG’s Constitution grants each Senator and President/VP one vote when making decisions as a body, according to Article 3, Section 2, Part 1.1. Basically, GSG exists as an intermediary between students and administrators, most commonly the members of the President’s Cabinet, which is currently composed of Kent, the Vice Presidents, including our new Dean of Students and Provost, as well as the College’s legal counsel. GSG members (known as “Senate”) also interact with our Board of Trustees, faculty, and other staff outside of the President’s Cabinet. Easy enough, right?

However, when speaking with David Kahana ‘21, a current Senator, we learned that “the recent changes made by some GSG senators was to create so-called ‘Active’ and ‘Observer’ Senators. Active Senators have their role unchanged from normal senator power while Observer Senators ‘lose their voting privileges and agenda-deciding privileges,’ according to the proposal. This was stated initially upon the rollout of the changes, but talk between the senators who decided this seemed to have not fully defined the role of Observer Senators. I have heard that Observer Senators can still vote but do not count for quorum but that was not stated in the initial announcement and was never stated in any official announcement. There actually was never an official announcement about this all just one Senator announcing the changes.”

The confusion about the sticking power of the decision was echoed by Sam Anderson ‘21, a current Senator and former GSG Co-President. When asked the same question, we needed to specify that we were talking about Observer versus Active Senator positions. Anderson remarked:

“Given the complications of scheduling and the increased responsibilities students are facing during COVID-19, members of GSG chose to break Senators between Observer Senators and Active Senators. This was done in order to allow GSG to function without problems of attendance or participation while trying to respect each senator’s new challenges and stressors due to the pandemic.” 

When asked about how he feels about the Senate changes, Kahana remarked, in part: 

“In all honesty, I understand the need for GSG to reform and have a real role aside from sending out mass emails or promoting a pyramid scheme to students on Instagram. The main problem is that GSG has no role and has no reason for existence, especially while we are not on campus.” 

(Don’t worry, we’ll cover what he’s talking about with Instagram in another article).

When we asked about how the process to make these changes took place and what he thought of the outcome, Anderson replied: 

“I do not support the delineation between Active and Observer Senators. I think the process was focused on efficiency rather than caring for our peers and achieving a collaborative solution to the challenges we all are facing.”

We also asked Anderson about how he sees these changes impacting GSG’s role on campus, to which he said,

“I do not see these changes impacting GSG’s role on campus in the immediate sense, but I do think it has done damage to how students see GSG. I’m hopeful that this damage in the eyes of students will inspire student government to take a second look at our processes and organization.” He added, “I hope that the Senate will begin a process to break down and transform Goucher Student Governance into something that actually benefits students and supports student governance on campus. I hope this process engages the student body and is very intentional.”

We’ll keep you all updated on how this develops, including interviews with other stakeholders in the process.

But Are We Filipino Or Not? Celebrating Filipino-American Heritage Month

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By Mich Rouse ’24 & Jibril Howard ’22

In October 2009, Congress passed House Resolution 780 officially designating October as Filipino-American Heritage month. Due to the history of the American colonization of the Philippines, there has been a long but understated Filipino-American history. The 1960s and 1970s saw the largest waves of Filipino immigration to the US – largely driven by the (often false) promise of American citizenship and escaping poverty back home — as they came to provide work initially as “low-skilled” farm laborers, then as nurses, and now as teachers in rural areas where there are shortages. Since the first waves of immigration there have been some famous Filipino Americans who have broken into the mainstream including High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens, comedian Jo Koy, labor leader Larry Itliong, among many others.  

As biracial Filipino-Americans struggling to find our way in the Asian-American diaspora and in the modern so-called “mainstream” American context where Eurocentricity remains supreme and where almost everything, especially identity, is constantly being packaged and categorized and placed into boxes. The following is a condensed conversation where, thinking on Filipino-American Heritage Month, we reflected on what it means and what it has meant to identify as part-Filipino and to ask ourselves, perhaps inconclusively: are we Filipino or are we not? 

What are some things you connect with as a Filipino-American? 

Mich: Balikbayan (care packages sent by the Filipino diaspora to family living back home), anything ube, lumpia, and whenever my great-grandmother comes to the U.S.

Jibril: Visiting my grandmother and cousins in California, ube ice cream, tinikling (traditional Filipino dance), and halo-halo (traditional Filipino drink) made by grandmother, and rolling lumpia (Filipino spring rolls) in the kitchen with my grandma and mom.

Where in the Philippines is your family from? Where do you self-identify as being from?

Mich: To most people, I say that I’m born and raised in Durham, NC, but I await the look of confusion (and sometimes disappointment) in their eyes. I keep it short and simple. When I was younger, I’ve definitely had the question followed with, “Where are you really from?” – And again, I say Durham, NC. They still look confused so I end up explaining how my mother was born in the Philippines and my father was born in Raleigh. My mother is from Cebu City, in the Cebu province of the country’s Central Visayas region. Honestly, my response varies from person-to-person, though. If it’s someone I won’t have much interaction with in the future, then I keep it to Durham. In other settings, such as college and activist/organizer spaces, then I’m comfortable providing a bit more detail. 

Jibril: My answer will depend a lot on who’s asking since “where are you from?” is often a loaded question asked of people from non-white backgrounds. I tend to say I’m from Atlanta which is where I was born and have lived my entire life. If someone is genuinely curious I’ll explain my background. My Filipino roots come from my mother – her family is from the northern city of Loag, in the province of Ilocos Norte. My grandfather, my “papa,”  immigrated in the 1960s as a farm laborer in Hawaii and California. As someone involved in left-leaning politics I often like to talk about him because he was involved in the labor movement spearheaded by Cesar Chavez in California which pushed for equal rights and equal protections for farmworkers. My papa eventually went back to the Philippines and married my grandmother before returning to settle down and live in Sacramento, California where my mother was born. 

Have you visited the Philippines? What was that like?

Mich: I visited Cebu when I was 13 around early July for my mother’s birthday. I remember the nauseating taxi rides from my Lola’s (great-grandmother’s) home to the hotel and back and wherever else we went. Sadly, upon arrival, I got sick, and I was sick for 4-5 days because of the 12-hour time difference and the humid climate. Another thing: for some reason the hotel pancakes were the best things I’ve ever had in my life, yet I’m certain they’re just boxed mix. During the trip we also went to the beach and had a cookout, but most of the time it was raining. The beach was very beautiful regardless. I do wish I took more pictures, but I guess that brings me more reason to visit again (post-pandemic, of course).

Jibril: I visited when I was around 8. I don’t remember much except how beautifully tropical it was. We drove from Ilocos Norte to Manila through Luzon which was amazing. I got to go swimming in the South China Sea which I remember being crystal clear. I also got a horrible sunburn. We also visited Baguio which was a resort town constructed in the mountains by the American colonial government (I didn’t learn this history until later) but it was a beautiful and picturesque city, and surprisingly chilly despite being near the Equator. 

Crystal-clear beaches in Cebu, Philippines. PC: Mich Rouse ’24

Did you learn about the Philippines in school? What about since you came to Goucher? 

Mich: Nope. There were snippets of Filipino “history” in some of my history classes but never in-depth. I’m tired of having to seek out my family’s history. I just wish it was common to know stuff about the Philippines and have it easily accessible to learn. I guess that we live in a world where it is very much possible to do so, especially with Wikipedia, Youtube, and general Google. However, I can’t help but feel this intense void of immediately not knowing enough about a huge part of my identity primarily because the American education system just doesn’t cover that. 

Jibril: Nope. Never. The first time I felt people actually cared about what was happening in the Philippines was when current President Rodrigo Duterte was elected and everyone started to compare him to Trump. I think the lack of discussion about the Philippines is somewhat deliberate since the Philippines was colonized by the US for 48 years, fighting a secretive but brutal war of oppression against the Filipino people. Given the international image the US likes to project of itself as “a liberator” standing for freedom and human rights it makes sense to exclude the atrocities the US committed against Filipino people since they wouldn’t fit into the national narrative. The US only granted the Philippines independence after World War Two as it began to set up the United Nations and European powers began to decolonize. 

Since I came to Goucher I’ve taken an International Relations class called “Democracy and Violence in Southeast Asia” where among other issues we discussed terrorism in Mindinao in the southern Philippines. It was overall a very interesting class, but I left feeling a little disappointed by the limited frame of the class – learning about terrorism was fascinating but I was left wanting more. I probably had too high an expectation thinking that one class would fill the 14-year void of Filipino history and politics but I was disappointed nonetheless. 

Did you ever feel excluded due to being mixed-race? From which group or both? Did the experience of exclusion feel different?

Mich: There’s this constant battle of belongingness and self-worth that I find myself immersed in. On one hand, I feel that I’m not “Asian enough” to have discussions on the whole “Asian-American experience” because aside from my mother and her friends at annual parties, I don’t hang out with many Asian people. I really only began hanging out with Asian people when I started high school. Before high school, I went to majority Black and Latinx student-populated schools, and only knew of barely a handful of Asian students. I recognize that social interaction doesn’t define overall experience; however, I’d argue that it’s a great factor in my own understanding of what it means to be “Asian.” On the other hand, I’m also not “white enough” because my skin color is literally brown, yet I know I have privileges with my father being white and even my eurocentric birth name. Whenever I spend time with the white side of my family, I’ve always felt uncomfortable because I’m uhhh “built different.” Overall, exclusion from both groups, and I have no clue how to navigate that. 

Jibril: I’ve often felt excluded from both groups to be perfectly frank. I feel like for me, being biracial is often seen by people as not quite one thing and not quite the other. And there has always been enormous pressure to choose one group over the other, to sacrifice one identity for the other but never quite fitting in either way. To my Asian grandmother I was always the “puraw” or “white” grandchild while to my white family any issue of race was a topic generally left undiscussed. As a result, I learned from an early age I learned to code switch between “appropriate” topics of conversation depending on the side of the family to make myself feel comfortable in a given space. Because of this experience, I feel like I can trace some of modern-day anxieties around personal space and boundaries to my struggle as a kid trying to appease half a dozen different types of people.

Have you ever been to Jollibee, the Filipino Fast-Food Restaurant?

Mich: I haven’t been since last summer. The one closest to me is in Virginia Beach, approximately 4 hours away. When I do go, I make sure to get nearly the entire menu – from the Chickenjoy (fried chicken) to the Jolly Spaghetti (spaghetti but with hot dogs) to Halo-Halo to multiple Mango Pies.

Jibril: I’ve only been to Jollibee once or twice several years ago because there are none of them anywhere near where I live in Atlanta. It’s hard to describe but Jollibee is Filipino chain restaurant that is basically a KFC on steroids. It’s never occurred to me to check for any Jollibees around Goucher until now but I’m already making a mental note for if/when we return to campus. 

The very welcoming Jollibee mascot PC: Mich Rouse ’24

What have your experiences been like in conversations regarding POC identity? Have you participated in any affinity group settings?

Mich: I went to a PWI (Predominantly/Private White Institution) for high school where I was introduced to Affinity Spaces. I loved the idea of having a space where I can feel that I finally belong somewhere and not be in this in-between zone of Asian and white. However, I found myself feeling the same thing, only exacerbated.

Jibril: I didn’t have much exposure to affinity spaces prior to Goucher. I had the privilege of attending private/predominately white institutions (PWIs) from elementary school through high school where I was typically one of only three people of color in the room and usually the only Asian. While Goucher isn’t exactly known for its racial diversity it was a significant breath of fresh air to not be the only Asian and Filipino I knew.

The only affinity space at Goucher I’ve been involved with is Asian Identity Alliance started by Claire Anderson’22 and Lia Fukuda’22 last year. They only had a couple meetings and it was nice and I hope to get involved more if it’s restarted back when we’re in-person on campus. I’ll also hope to attend a few meetings by the Asian Student Union.

What’s your favorite Filipino dish? Do you make a lot of Filipino food at home?

Mich: I don’t really cook Filipino food, but I enjoy lumpia (egg rolls), adobo (meat stew), leche flan (caramel custard), and halo-halo. My mother cooks pollo arroz caldo whenever I’m feeling unwell. I’m hoping to learn how to cook Filipino desserts such as biko (rice cake) and turon (fried bananas).

Jibril: I don’t really know how to cook much of anything American or Filipino but I love bibingka & suman which are rice-based sticky desserts my grandmother made. It’s also hard not to love halo-halo which is a cold drink with shaved ice, condensed milk, tapioca, and a mix of beans, ube, coconut shavings, among other things. I want to learn to cook lumpia which is an ambition of mine.

Do you consume Filipino entertainment? 

Mich: Sometimes. I enjoy my dose of Jo Koy comedy specials from time to time. My mom and I actually watched him perform a couple of years ago. I also listen to Unique Salonga, who is this indie-rock musical artist. 

Jibril: I don’t listen to a lot of Filipino entertainment unless I was at my grandparents house growing up when they always had soap operas or game shows on. I did go through a phase in high-school where I was super into Jo Koy who is a Filipino stand-up comedian. 

So, reflecting on all our unique and individual experiences as a Filipino-American growing up in the US, do you consider yourself Filipino?

Mich: (sarcastically) I’ve decided to be Filipino for only this month – Yes, I do consider myself to be Filipino. I’ll always continuously struggle in understanding my place in the world – and more specifically in the Goucher community – being biracial, but I’m hopeful that I’ll meet people who share somewhat of the same experiences as me. I’m also hopeful that they’ll let me know that I’m not alone in this.

Jibril: I always try really hard not to define myself and or tie myself to any one label or group but I do consider myself to be Filipino. I may not speak one lick of the Tagalog or Ilocano (Filipino languages spoken by my family) but I have ties to the community in other ways. I grew up with very unique experiences eating fish eyes on a dare, finding sketchy warehouses to pick up or drop-off balikbayan boxes, and rolling lumpia with my grandma and mom on rainy weekends. With these individual experiences I don’t think it’s possible for me to not self-identify as Filipino. 

Filipino-American Heritage Month. PC: FilipinoStarNews via Pinterest

Comedy, Tragedy, and “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend”

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By Madeline Tredway ’24

I don’t think there’s anything I could say about the 2020 pandemic that hasn’t been done to death. Loneliness, existential doom, constant fear, Animal Crossing — it’s all been reiterated over and over in so many different ways, to the point where it doesn’t really mean much anymore. However, when you look closer at what is being said, it seems like all the poetry, the articles, and Instagram stories practice what is becoming so common among people: stating what they’re feeling in a clinical manner, but refusing to be truly honest in fear of other people’s reactions. “I’m feeling sad and lonely today, but I’ll just post a picture of my friends and I hanging out from three months ago so I don’t seem too sad and lonely.” “Fear is hard to manage in these times, but let me make a joke so I don’t look like I’m really upset about the situation.” 

Conan O’Brien hosts the TBS talk show Conan. PC: NPR

All of these are completely understandable reactions to the different things we’re all suffering from right now, but as a person who leans into hardship for better or for worse, it’s isolating to feel like you’re going through such awful things alone and to know that the problem might be alleviated if we all weren’t so scared of intimacy. So who do I, a female college student, look to for this gritty, heartbreakingly real depiction of reality I so desire? None other than Conan O’ Brien. 

O’Brien’s podcast “Conan O’ Brien Needs a Friend” started in late 2018 and was met by praise from critics and listeners alike. O’Brien, who is the longest-running current talk show host with 26 years under his belt, is truly one of a kind—he’s generally adored by his cult following, and has a strange sense of humor that comes off as refreshingly different from a lot of talk show hosts. So to hear that Conan O’ Brien was starting a podcast was great news for many, especially since he was allowed to choose his own guests, read his own ads instead of going to a commercial break, and potentially cut through the Hollywoodisms that plague talk shows. Its success seemed inevitable.

Now that the podcast has been active for a few years, it is safe to say it lived up to its prospects. Its gimmick is that Conan’s only friends are his staffers, therefore he is in desperate need of new friends, hence the “needs a friend” part of the title. It’s simple enough to work with the freeform discussions on the show and also meshes well with his self deprecating humor. In fact, his style of comedy works well with the somewhat straightforward structure of the podcast — each episode begins with a little bit of banter with his assistant Sona Movsesian (media personality from O’Brien’s television show) and producer Matt Gourley (a podcast legend in many circles), then the actual interview, and finishes with closing banter with Movsesian and Gourley. Sprinkle a few ads in between, and that’s the entirety of the podcast. But O’Brien’s humor is intelligent and weird, at times even being nonsensical, so the podcast is never boring. Even with guests that aren’t known for comedic prowess, notably J.J. Abrams and Michelle Obama, O’Brien coaxes the humor out of discussions of movie-making and politics. With a perfect host & structure, along with producer Gourley who edits masterfully to make cuts seem unawkward, this podcast is genuinely well-made.

Although “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” is wonderfully funny, this alone is not what makes it unique. Other podcasts like “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” and “Comedy Bang! Bang!” are among my favorites that make me laugh just as much as O’Brien does, but I keep coming back to “Conan O’Brien” for re-listens more than I do the others. So what is it about the podcast that makes it so special? The short answer is truth.

On Nikki Glaser’s episode, Glaser speaks openly and honestly about her eating disorder and how it affected her self-image throughout high school and college, and still affects her eating habits today. She remarks that she thinks her disorder was her way of wanting to die, and although she isn’t tearing up when saying this, it’s understood that this was a pivotal point in the comedian’s life. It’s a very tense moment, and for the listener, the obvious context of this being a comedy show is more apparent than ever. A lot of podcast hosts express their want for the guests on their podcasts to feel comfortable talking about “anything and everything,” but I’ve noticed that in a lot of these podcasts, as soon as that “anything and everything” comes to something serious, the hosts don’t know how to handle it. They either make a joke and move on, or stay so silent that the guest doesn’t feel comfortable talking about it anymore. It’s immediately obvious that the promise at the beginning of the show isn’t able to be fulfilled, because for a lot of people, that kind of confidentiality about somber topics is uncomfortable. But with O’Brien, he asks questions about her experience and comments on it truthfully, telling her he hates hearing about her being in that kind of pain, not shying away from the emotional implication his honesty carries. 

I mentioned earlier that O’Brien’s humor is refreshing, and since listening to the podcast, I’ve learned his honesty is also refreshing, especially recently. The pandemic has really amplified the tendency of people to hide from veracity when it relates to suffering. It’s too much for a lot of people to be honest about mental health during the pandemic (and honesty does not mean making a joke about your loneliness that’s veiled under five layers of irony). Yes, comedy is healing, but people like O’Brien understand that it is not simply a shield. Talking to people and sharing experiences is one of the only means of connection we have right now, and I’m afraid that connection is becoming severed as people use humor to fortify their own walls. It is absolutely true, however, that comedy and candidness are not completely separate, but burying serious things under humor is not combining the two. It’s only isolating humor and causing others to feel as if confidentiality is not welcome. 

For instance, after Glaser confides in Conan about her eating disorder, Conan makes a comment about how a lot of comedians weren’t the class clowns in high school, and instead the kids people remember as being incredibly serious. He quips that the class clowns often died in motel shootouts. This joke is funny, but saying this doesn’t detract from Glaser’s intimacy, and doesn’t serve just to move past it. He acknowledges Glaser’s suffering and by making this joke, he’s not making light of it—he’s trying to alleviate just a little bit of sorrow. This is truly combining comedy and candidness.

At the beginning of one of the podcast episodes, O’Brien talks briefly about the pandemic. He speaks of his sadness at seeing young people accepting that this is their new reality, and says that he’s confident that science will come in to save the day; we will live to see another unexpected pandemic to seize upon us! That made me laugh, but it also assuaged so much of the stress and fear I had been feeling at the time. It’s the most honest and human response to the pandemic I’ve heard from a comedian, and it’s moments like those that make me realize why I listen to this podcast over and over again: O’Brien truly understands the adjacent relationship between comedy and tragedy.

Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. PC: Earwolf.com

Lebron James vs. Michael Jordan: Just Enjoy the Show

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By Alex Dominguez ’24

With the Los Angeles Lakers blowing out the Miami Heat yet again in Game Two of the 2020 NBA Finals, it seems inevitable that Lebron James and company are going to win this year’s championship. With Lebron just adding to his resume season after season, the debate over who is the greatest, King James or his airness Michael Jordan, only gets more intense year after year. I am here to say it does not matter. 

Let me start by saying I love Michael Jordan. My dad was around my age when Jordan won his first of many championships. By then, he, like millions of others, were deeply obsessed with the Chicago Bulls star. My dad passed on this love for Michael Jordan to me. Instead of growing up listening to fairy tales, my dad and I used to watch old Bulls games and I would listen to insane stories from Jordan’s prime. From growing up listening to my dad tell tales of how effortlessly MJ appeared to fly to watching his airness myself in the 2020 documentary series “The Last Dance”, Michael Jordan played a huge role in my early childhood. 

During this same time, Lebron James was still trying to claim his spot as a top player in the NBA. Right around the time I started watching sports religiously, Lebron was propelled to superstar status. I was fortunate enough to understand the cult of personality surrounding Michael Jordan, while also witnessing the transition of Lebron from a young and hungry star to one of the greatest to ever dribble a basketball.

Jordan created the greatest NBA resume to date, and Lebron seems to be chipping away at that every single season. This has created an immense amount of debate and discussion on who is truly the greatest player ever, Jordan, or Lebron. From it being a recurring topic in my podcast, “The Talking Ball,” to my uncle asking me every holiday dinner who is the better player, this question has followed me ever since the 2016 NBA championship. However, only mentioning the two in the same sentence to compare them undervalues the respective accomplishments both have achieved and ignores the main reason they are compared: their greatness. 

Each generation in pop culture has its own heroes. As time passes, certain styles and sounds grow and lose popularity. The world of sports is no different. As the changing of the guard occurs in basketball, different play styles and strategies change. Due to the competitive nature of sports, nothing is static. Athletes across all sports, but basketball in particular should be compared with respect to the era they played in, not the current era. 

By comparing players to the current era, fans misinterpret all that made certain athletes great. It is unfair to compare Jordan’s three-point shot to Stephen Curry’s or Lebron’s shot because that was not an aspect of his game that he was expected to rely heavily on. Furthermore, you cannot argue that Lebron is less than Jordan because he does not get bruised and assaulted every time he tries to score as Jordan did in his early playoff runs. We can only speculate how Lebron would react to Dennis Rodman trying to wrestle mid-game, and whether Jordan would be able to pull up from half-court and sink a shot. However, there is no doubting the heights both were able to reach throughout their respective careers.

This comparison is also not like comparing apples to oranges either. Instead, it is like comparing Ford automobiles with two different goals in mind. A 1966 Ford GT is incomparable to a Ford Focus for several reasons, but most of all because they served vastly different purposes. When engineers designed the GT, their goal was to create the fastest vehicle to ever grace the planet. The Ford Focus on the other hand was designed to focus on vastly different features of an automobile. Milage, safety, speed: these are differentiating factors, but help illustrate the successes behind the cars. 

Another reason why this argument is a distraction from enjoying the game of basketball is that it does not offer anything new. During the 1960s and 70s, similar arguments were made between players like Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. As time passed, those names became replaced with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs Moses Malone, then Larry Bird vs Magic Johnson to now Michael Jordan and Lebron James. These name changes over time illustrate how nothing in sports is permanent. If the arguments made during the 1960s or 70s amounted to anything NBA fans would be comparing Bob Cousy to the current best point guard in the league, but they do not. This is because the significance and status of a player is fluid. Just like these stars play basketball, our perception of players is sensational. If a shooting guard plans to pass the ball but sees an opening for a clean shot, his plans change, much like how our opinions change when the situation changes. Since each period of basketball focuses on different aspects of the game, the fans of each period admire those skills highlighted in that period. A lot of Jordan’s contemporaries go on ESPN and constantly bash small ball offenses much like current players hate the rugged fouls of the 80s. As times change and practices shift, so do the values we worship. If the arguments of the past have taught us anything, it is that there is no right answer, just what you enjoy more. 

This conversation of the highest-ranking basketball player ever tends to get the world’s greatest and best thrown around a lot, but the definition of these words has become looser and looser. Jordan had weak points in his game that are only becoming more prominent as time goes on. While he was widely considered the greatest scorer ever, this title is becoming more contested. The greatest to wear a Bulls jersey relied heavily on mid-range jump shots and driving to the hoop, two weapons that are decreasing in popularity among players in his position. With the dominance and efficiency of the three-point shot and small ball movement, Jordan’s game would be hard to manifest his style of play as successfully. This is not as much as a penalty for Jordan’s play as much as it is as a testament on how much sports change across only a couple of generations. While Jordan’s scoring arsenal is among the best in history and his defensive skills rank among the best, with a faster pace of the game and the rise of more efficient offensive strategies, each new generation’s best proves more and more effective than Jordan.

Regardless of who you think is the better player, there is no definitive way to prove it. Even his airness himself is hesitant to say he is the greatest despite being the competitive freak of nature he is. This polarizing conversation is drawn by generational lines, with “old heads” citing Jordan as basketball’s god and the youth claiming Lebron James as king of basketball history. It is only a matter of time until I watch Bronny win his first MVP as my son tells me Lebron would never be able to dominate in this era. So instead of arguing over 0.6 of a percentage, it is time to put down the pitchforks, pick up the remote, and just witness greatness.

Michael Jordan (left) and Lebron James in 2014. PC: The Charlotte Observer via The Guardian

Works Cited:

“LeBron James Stats.” Basketball,  https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/j/jamesle01.html.

“LeBron James’ Career Timeline.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 2 July 2018, www.latimes.com/sports/nba/la-sp-lakers-lebron-timeline-20180701-story.html. “Michael Jordan Stats.” Basketball, www.basketball-reference.com/players/j/jordami01.html. 

“Three-Point Progression.” NBA Math, 6 Aug. 2018, nbamath.com/three-point-progression/.

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