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Yes, Voting in a Blue State Still Matters


By Grace Reno

With the 2020 election less than a year away, there is nothing else in the United States that causes as much tension or is quite as polarized as American politics. I suspect that even my mentioning the word ‘politics’ has caused some strong opinions to come to mind. Coming from Atlanta, which is seen as the Democrats’ safe haven in the notoriously conservative state of Georgia, the importance of voting has long been instilled in me. It has always been the residents of Atlanta against the rest of the state, making it a largely polarized state. With the 2020 election fast approaching, it is more important than ever for individuals who ‘don’t care’ about voting or are not registered to take action. Moving from Atlanta to Goucher College, located outside of Baltimore, has only strengthened my belief that voting in elections is not only a privilege of being a U.S. citizen, but is necessary.

            One of our fundamental rights and ideals as a U.S. citizen is the right to vote for who we as a nation want to lead us. It is a right that is not available to individuals in numerous other countries (Powell). In the 1960’s and 70’s voting had a lot more enthusiasm connotated with it, whereas now a lot of people see it as less important, putting things such as errands above making sure they can vote a priority (Woodard). In 1964, sixty-four percent of Americans were voting in the presidential elections. However, by the 1988 election that percentage dropped to fifty-seven percent (American Voter…). The question is, what is to account for the decline in American voting? One popular theory is the “alienation” theory (Reinhold). Before the ‘64 election voter turnout was at an all time high.  This could be due to the fact that at that time, American citizens wholeheartedly believed in the democratic political system, and that it would yield the results that the people wanted. However, that all changed after “Vietnam and years of Watergate scandal and other political rot, the electorate is turned off, cynical, distrustful of government, uncertain that their votes make much difference” (Reinhold). Thus, the alienation theory. If the government can foster a more trusting relationship with the American public, instilling the belief that one’s individual vote does matter, then an increase in voter turnout may result.

Regardless of which state one lives in, if you waive your right to vote, you are waiving one of your most important rights as a citizen. Additionally, according to Gladu, since the 2016 election, Donald Trump has divided several groups of voters. Trump, as the perfect populist package, attempts to appeal to so many different voter pools, that his philosophies as a whole are never cohesive (Schneider). As Schneider says, “He’s conservative on social issues (immigration). Liberal on economic issues (trade). And isolationist on foreign policy (military intervention).” Thus, in recent elections many states became more ‘purple’ (a mix of democrat and republican) rather than strictly ‘red’ or ‘blue’ making it more important than ever to vote if one is voting blue. In addition, voter turnout in the United States is significantly lower than other developed countries, and the idea that if one lives in a blue state they don’t have to vote could be even more detrimental to United States voter turnout (Gladu).

A large percent of individuals living in notoriously blue states such as California and Washington state believe that their votes are simply a raindrop in the ocean, and that whether they vote or not, the outcome will not change. Woodard states that “the average chronic nonvoter is a married, nonreligious white woman between 56 and 73 who works full time but makes less than $50,000 a year. She is most likely to identify as a moderate, lean toward the Democratic Party, get her news from television and to have a very unfavorable impression of both political parties and President Donald Trump. She has a 77 percent chance of being registered to vote and says she doesn’t because she doesn’t like the candidates but claims to be certain she will vote in November.” Simply put, these people are not voting because they have the privilege not to need to. According to the LA Times,California has been a historically blue state since the 1992 election in which the state voted in favor of Bill Clinton. Ever since that 1992 election, the state has stayed blue, by a large margin, as 62% of the state voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election (PPIC). Therefore, why should one more democratic vote even matter?

It is extremely important for candidates to target these ‘chronic non-voters,’ as if one does motivate this group of people, they may have the power to swing the election. Which is how Trump was able to break through the “blue wall” in the eastern United States and win the election (Woodard). This is because he appealed to rural America, which is not typically done. This is also how Obama won the 2008 election, flipping North Carolina, Florida, and Indiana (Woodard). These blocs of people are going to be extremely important in the 2020 election, as they could be a deciding factor.

Additionally, throughout my time at Goucher thus far, I have met far more people than ever before who don’t see the importance in casting their ballots during election season. In my experience, the majority of people I’ve encountered at Goucher lean towards the more liberal side of politics, similar to those in the older (age) demographic mentioned previously, who are typically the non-voters. There are constantly events being organized by the school which relate to current societal and political issues, such as climate change walks and democratic debate watching parties. That being said, because many students enrolled at Goucher come from blue states, the importance of voting was never emphasized, as the odds were typically in their favor in the first place.

In summation, although one individual vote might not make the difference in an election, it is when this mentality takes over an entire population that it becomes dangerous. Because the idea that one vote doesn’t matter is so common in the United States, it has led to millions of people abstaining from voting, which does make a difference. Though voting democratic now is not guaranteed to yield a democratic president, there is still a cumulative impact, making the number of democrats higher and higher each year. It is important to recognize that voting is a building energy and more about the practice than the outcome, as, if more Americans continue to vote every year, the overall impact will be extremely beneficial. Furthermore, if Americans encourage and foster voter enthusiasm, similar to trends in the 1970s, voter turnout could skyrocket. Even in states like California, which has the largest number of electoral college votes, if the chronic non-voters of this country start casting their ballots, there is no telling what the outcome of the upcoming election could be.

Works Cited

“After Decades of Republican Victories, Here’s How California Became a Blue State Again.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times,

“California’s Political Geography 2020.” Public Policy Institute of California,

Gladu, Alex. “Blue-State Voters Must Turn Out On Election Day.” Bustle, Bustle, 24 Oct. 2016,

Powell, G. Bingham. “American Voter Turnout in Comparative Perspective.” American Political Science Review, vol. 80, no. 1, 1986, pp. 17–43., doi:10.2307/1957082.

Reinhold, Robert. “Voter Turnout Has Been Declining Steadily Since 1960.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Sept. 1976,

“What Democracy and Voting Rights Look Like Around the World.” Global Citizen,

Ways of Seeing the World


By Bel Rosenthal

No flat map is a fully accurate map of the world; each expresses a specific perspective and set of priorities. Regardless of whether you care about or pay attention to maps, they have shaped the way we all see the world. Call one to mind; it is a familiar picture — probably brightly colored, with Russia stretched largest across the upper right-hand side, Europe toward the middle, the U.S. most prominent on the left. South America and Africa are smaller and closer together on the bottom, like the kids of two friends awkwardly ushered together, and then there’s Australia off in the corner. Everyone grows up with maps; they are on the walls of school classrooms, in textbooks, used as decoration, on the news, in movies, and more.

The way that we see the world is not objective. Our perspective and our understanding of things are shaped by our cumulative experiences, many of which we cannot pinpoint or remember and that are constantly changing. This is visible through the example of map projections. Due to the challenge of trying to portray a spherical shape onto a flat surface, all world maps are also distorted and, like us, have a distinct perspective. By not addressing this inherent inaccuracy we have grown to see ourselves as reliable judges of “truth.” However, if we choose to reexamine our beliefs, starting with what the world we live in looks like, we can begin to see how perspectives we may or may not agree with, and that we may or may not even be aware are being presented to us, have shaped and influenced our own beliefs and ideas.

A common comparison used to help people picture the problem presented by trying to transfer the image on a globe to a map is the challenge of peeling an orange so that the peel all comes off in one piece and can be laid flat. It is often in ragged shapes, with disconnected features and little resemblance to what we imagine a holistic map to look like. So, in order to create a cohesive map, the accuracy of some aspects must be sacrificed to allow for accuracy in others. Each of the strategies for doing this is known as a projection or, “a method for taking the curved surface of the earth and displaying it on something flat, like a computer screen or a piece of paper” (“What is”). For example, the land masses and bodies of water closer to the poles could be stretched to maintain lines of latitude and longitude that are as straight as possible. This is done with the Mercator projection (“Mercator,” fig. 1).

The Mercator projection was initially designed for ocean navigation by European explorers and was later used, along with other maps, as a way European colonial powers were able to assert dominance over regions that had not yet mastered geographic mapping (White). Its straight lines made it a very effective tool for ocean navigation, but it is used for other purposes now. It is likely the map you are most familiar with, from its role in most classrooms around the world and even by Google Maps. This, like our own distorted perceptions, is important and sometimes even dangerous because of the ripple-like effect it has on our beliefs and actions. We define much of the rest of the world by its relationship to Europe as the center, e.g., the Middle East or the Western World. The central placement of Europe, on the very map they used to colonize large parts of the rest of the world, reinforces their perspective of colonial superiority and view of their own dominance — and lowers the perceived status of the peripheral regions (Snyder; Wood et al. 90-93).

One of the more popular solutions proposed to address this issue – which was adopted by Boston’s public schools in 2017 (Walters) — is to replace the Mercator projection with one called the Gall-Peters projection (“Mercator,” fig. 1). The Gall-Peters projection gained a lot of attention in the past several years for its more accurate presentation of continental size in comparison to the Mercator. It is seen as an ethical choice for a more balanced view of the world. The fictional “Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality,” that appears in an episode of the TV show West Wing, is frequently referred to as support for this argument (“Somebody’s Going”). The segment’s amusing and easy to follow argument explains many of the problems with the Mercator projection. However, it glosses over the Gall-Peters’ own drawbacks. While the Mercator can feel laughably wrong in that it portrays Africa and Greenland as roughly the same size, when in actuality Greenland is about 14 times smaller (“The True,” fig. 2), the Gall-Peters, in order to present more accurate sizes, distorts many of its shapes and loses directional accuracy. By presenting the replacement of one distorted map with another, they have failed to address the larger issue: that neither is fully accurate and that varied perceptions of truth exist everywhere. The important lesson to take from inconsistent presentations of information – excluding, of course, actual verifiable facts – is that there may not be a “right” one, each shows a slightly different truth, and the best way to get a full picture is to view a variety of different perspectives with that awareness in mind.

Studies on implicit bias, summarized by the Kirwan Institute, also concluded that the beliefs we hold, specifically those that we are not aware of, have a real and measurable effect on how we think and act. They define implicit bias as, “the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.” They looked at implicit bias through its connection to racial inequities and found that these subconscious beliefs led pediatricians to be more likely to prescribe painkillers to white patients than black patients and that, even when controlling for a number of other factors, they resulted in people with more prominently African-looking features receiving longer prison sentences. They also state that these views do not necessarily align with the ones that we consciously hold, meaning that we are not at fault for acquiring these biases, but also that they are worth recognizing and challenging. Even more hopefully, they assert that we have the ability to reshape and unlearn them (“Understanding”).

My own interest in the way choices made on maps impact our worldview was sparked when I was 11 years old and came across a map on the wall of a restaurant near the southern tip of South America (“The World,” fig. 3). It depicted the Southern Hemisphere on the top half of the map and the Northern Hemisphere on the bottom. I was confused and intrigued by this weird “upside-down” world. After reading the short explanation written across one of the oceans, I realized that simply because Europeans had created the map we use, I had until that moment believed my half of the world to be up. It is clear from the way we speak that we associate up with good and down with bad. Heaven is above us and hell is below; on the ladder of success, that defines America, up is progress and down is chaos. We want to “move up in the world,” sometimes we “feel down,” and we strive to be better than or “above” something. Whether or not we consciously recognize, by being placed on the top, we get to feel superior to those on the bottom. This realization did not feel frustrating or make me angry, though; it was an exciting revelation. Being faced with facts that challenge what you believe can be scary, but it can also allow us to better understand our own perspectives and better communicate with others.

Just because the information we receive is somewhat subjective, that does not mean that it is worthless. Take the example of op-eds; these opinion pieces are inherently subjective, but we still read them. They are published by newspapers and scholarly journals. They introduce us to new perspectives, inform us about relevant issues, and can present nuanced views and reliable information. As you now know, the maps you have seen of the world are also not entirely objective. However, through them you can gain an understanding of where you stand in the world, what our planet generally looks like, and how to get to the closest Chipotle, but also how parts of the world view each other. English professors have likely counseled you to think about the position behind what you are reading with questions like: who is the author, what audience are they trying to reach, what might they be trying to accomplish, and who might that benefit. This works for maps too, and is what the authors of Seeing Through Maps, encourage us to do when seeking a map that suits our needs. They propose the questions, “What can I discern about the self-interest of the mapmaker and/or those who commissioned the work? How do you suppose that self-interest or agenda may have influenced choices of what to include or omit?” (Wood et al. 12). By examining the perspective behind a map or opinion piece, what is prioritized or emphasized and what is sacrificed or sidelined, you are more able to understand the perspective and bias it reflects. From there it is up to you to decide what you do with your source. For a map, maybe think about whether its priorities match what you are using it for. For an op-ed, let it inform your sense of its reliability; learn what it teaches you about the subject, and about the author. Rather than being less useful than an objective source, a subjective source can actually provide you with more information than a direct statement of fact. These questions can be a way to look at any perspective-influenced information you receive, and most information is influenced by perspective in one way or another. If you imagine the subject of your source as the scene in a photograph and the perspective as the photographer, it is clear that knowledge of the photographer increases your understanding of the photo and analysis of the photo increases your understanding of the person who took it.

Works Cited

“Mercator Projection and Gall-Peters Projection.” Mapping, Society, and Technology, University of Minnesota Libraries,

“Understanding Implicit Bias.” Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, 2015,

Snyder, John P. Flattening the Earth: Two Thousand Years of Map Projections. University of Chicago Press, 1993.

“Somebody’s Going to Emergency, Somebody’s Going to Jail.” The West Wing, season 2 episode 16, NBC, 28 February 2001,

“The True True Size of Africa.” The Economist, 10 November 2010,

Walters, Joanna. “Boston Public Schools Map Switch Aims to Amend 500 Years of Distortion.” The Guardian, 23 March 2017,

“What is a Map Projection?” Caliper Mapping and Transportation Glossary,           

White, Nathan. “Geography and Empire.” Postcolonial Studies @ Emory, October 2017,

Wood, Denis, Kaiser, Ward L., and Abramms, Bob. Seeing Through Maps: Many Ways to See the World. ODT, Incorporated. 2006.

“The World.” The Upsidedown Map Page,

Is Diversity Needed?


By Anonymous

Goucher College has requirement courses that students are recommended to take their first two years of college. If not by then, they must take them by the end of their 4 years here, in order to graduate and receive their degree in their major. These courses are designed to shape each student to be more well-rounded and gain knowledge in different subjects. Complex Problem Exploration (CPE) is an example of a Goucher required course. The general description of CPE courses consists of, “CPE courses build on student learning in the FYS and show students complex problems from more than one angle” (“The Goucher Commons Curriculum”). How would you feel being taught about what your ancestors have been through, through the eyes of the oppressor, just to fulfill a requirement?

I have personally witnessed students “not caring” about their CPE classes and expressing that they’re just trying to get the two courses “out of the way”. This results in students not actually paying attention in class or engaging in group discussion. It is frustrating to see those that are not of color, refusing to take a step back and realize that it is beneficial to take courses that can expand your knowledge on other cultures, and diversity in general. The problem comes in when those that are not of color, do not understand the difference between appreciating new cultures and appropriating those cultures.  

When is the line drawn between learning/acknowledging a culture or appropriating it? Here at Goucher, there are a lot of culturally based courses that are taught by white professors; however, the amount of Black professors here can be counted on one hand, which is very disappointing. As a Black woman here at Goucher, it is hard to “learn” about such sensitive topics through the eyes of the “oppressor”. The topics that are covered in each CPE are very sensitive, and it is hard to comfortably share my opinions when my professor does not understand personally where I am coming from. Diversity is well needed in every educational setting in order to fully accommodate student’s needs, especially obtaining the knowledge needed to properly learn in the CPE courses.

If there are not going to be an equal amount of professors of color hired at Goucher, each professor should be required to fulfill cultural workshops and practice their empathy/sympathy for others who may not be as privileged. “The 21st – century teacher should be an interculturally competent person who knows how to address and exploit differences among students in a class in a positive manner, as well as manage conflicts and conflict risks successfully” (Boghian 1). Many students have confided in me that they do not feel comfortable engaging in conversation with their professors because of their different backgrounds, and the fear of belittlement towards the student’s perspectives.

Why wouldn’t one want to feel comfortable in a learning atmosphere? We should all be able to put our obvious differences aside and fully hear out what those that are a part of a minority group have to offer. When in class, there should be more student-driven conversations in topics that interest us as individuals instead of grouping us all together. For example, assignments that are personal to our backgrounds, like traditions. Students do not want to learn about the surface level of slavery or Martin Luther King’s take on anti-capitalism. The repeated “facts” are somewhat whitewashed and put people of color in the spotlight in class, and even throughout history. But learning from a white person makes it a somewhat humiliating experience, and they actually may “need” it more than others but are too scared to speak up on the past, or do not care overall.

I have experienced a CPE here at Goucher with one of the Black male professors and it helped a lot to hear firsthand experiences from him and what he has experienced as a person of color traveling the world. This brings another perspective to the concept of cultural traditions and past supremacy. I have also experienced a Black woman as my history professor. There was no shame in the execution on making sure that everyone in the class was engaged. On the contrary, it is very obvious that there is shame (white guilt) from the other professors, which comes off as lenient self-pity. Instead of making sure that everyone is engaged and admitting their white fragility and trying to change it around for the better, there is a lot of awkward silences; there is not a clear motive on trying to make sure each student is personally learning something. Instead, a movie or book that us students have read/seen before is thrown at us, like The Hate You Give and Born a Crime, which puts us in a non-progressive predicament, because no one is personally engaging in change.

“Education is about having dialogue, action, and reflection about ideas, practices and policies germane to the living conditions of persons” (Westfield 74).  I feel as though we (as a committee) are missing pieces to this strategy presented by Nancy Lynne Westfield, who has a PhD in writing and teaches at Drew University. This strategy could help a lot of teacher-student dynamics because it refers to a hands-on approach by quickly adjusting to students’ discomfort, rather than professors boasting about those without power, every single class. There is more to “Complex Problem Exploration” than to be talked at for two hours and have to absorb everything like a sponge, but not have guidance on applying it to personal lives, that may need diversity. Admitting to one’s privileges is the first step, and a lot of professors are refusing to do so.

To add another outlook into the discussion, Angel Carter, a scholar at Tulane University expanded her knowledge on those that do not look like her by going to a university that is 75% white. This is an example of hands-on change. Angel states, “I hadn’t had many interactions with white people” … “I wanted to work on that: How do I code switch? How do I approach situations with people who do not look like me?” The statistic is very similar to Goucher, by simply stepping on to the campus, you can see the lack of diversity. Here at Goucher there should be an equal balance of white people and those that identify as a person of color, learning to adapt to different culture shocks and using it as an advantage towards building academic relationships. We are all on this campus together, we should learn to not just “get used to one another” but fully educate ourselves on white fragility and ways to add different perspectives to the classroom/classes (CPE).

Works Cited

BOGHIAN, Ioana. “Empowering Teachers to Deal with Classroom Diversity.” Romanian 

Journal for Multidimensional Education / Revista Romaneasca Pentru Educatie Multidimensionala, vol. 11, no. 3, Sept. 2019, pp. 1–9. EBSCOhost, doi:10.18662/rrem/134.

Mongeau, Lillian, et al. “America’s Colleges Struggle to Envision the Future of Diversity on Campus.” The Hechinger Report, 16 Jan. 2019,

 “The Goucher Commons Curriculum.” Goucher College,

Westfield, Nancy Lynne. “Teaching for Globalized Consciousness: Black Professor, White  

Student and Shame.” Black Theology: An International Journal, vol. 2, no. 1, Jan. 2004, pp. 73-83. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1558/blth.2004.2.1.73.

To Go or Not To Go?


By Angelica Calo

            Are you a college student looking to go on a vacation in Orlando with your friends? There are beautiful beaches, sunny skies, and fun attractions—amusement parks galore! There is Disneyworld, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld. What more could you want? When choosing a perfect vacation, you always want to make a plan of activities beforehand, and let’s face it, money is a major factor in these decisions. Disneyworld and Universal are both crowded and overpriced! Why not go to SeaWorld instead? It is cheaper yet still popular, and has amusement park rides, food, games and many animals like the infamous killer whale! Sounds fun right? Well, if you are thinking about SeaWorld, you might want to rethink that decision.

            Now, I know what you’re thinking—why? It’ll be so much fun! Well, it may be fun for you, but it might not be as fun for the animals inside. In a recent study on captive orca dental health, biologists have found that, “In total, 713 of the 1127 (63.3%) teeth (mandibular and maxillary teeth combined) evaluated for coronal wear exhibited varying degrees of the pathology; 142 of 1116 (12.7%) teeth exhibited fractures; 234 of 1154 (20.3%) teeth were worn to or below the gum line; 158 of 1056 (15%) teeth were positive for bore holes; and 22 of 1130 (2%) teeth were missing (Jett et. Al)”. Now let’s break that down so we have a better understanding: Scientists observed the mandibular and maxillary teeth by looking at dental images of 29 captive orca owned by SeaWorld. Each tooth was scored for coronal wear, wear at or below the gum line and bore holes, as well as looking for fractured and missing teeth. They found that all of the whales had teeth damage, but the majority had coronal wear (Jett et. al). What do teeth have to do with anything you may ask? Well, the scientists believe that the wear and tear on the teeth are caused by oral stereotypies, such as chewing on concrete walls. Dr Lori Marino, a neuroscientist, says that this action is heavily influenced by psychological stress. In short, the orca are chewing on concrete due to their environment in captivity and this in turn is causing problems with their dental health.

            If that is not enough, scientists have also found that that mortality rates in captivity are extremely high. In the wild, orcas generally live 50-70 years, sometimes even 100! In captivity, most orcas do not make it beyond 20 years of age. According to the US National Marine Mammal Inventory, and USDA Inspection Reports show that “between 1971 and 2017, there have been 35 documented orca deaths at SeaWorld facilities alone (Kielty, 2011; Robeck et al., 2015; Aiello and Moses, 2016; Rose and Parsons, 2019)”(Marino et. al.). When causes of death were available, the most commonly implicated conditions were viral, bacterial and fungal infections, gastrointestinal disease, and trauma (Jett and Ventre, 2012)”(Marino et. al.). It was also found that another common cause of death of captive orcas was gastrointestinal ulceration. “Gastric ulceration is often caused by prolonged stress, as well as being associated with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (Nomura et al., 1994)”(Marino et. al.). Although it is possible for wild orca to contract similar diseases, it is a lot less common and abundant then it is in captive orca.

            In 2013, a documentary was released about SeaWorld, and it featured clips, images, eye- witnesses, and scientists which provided evidence against captivity, while promoting a seaside sanctuary. The documentary, Blackfish, quickly became popular, and has since made a huge impact on the marine park industry’s sales. However, they are still not willing to give up their orcas and have since spoken out against the film stating that it is “propaganda”. Now the question is—is it propaganda? Honestly, it is not; there are many facts proving Blackfish’s claims. However, many people are still supportive of SeaWorld and their decisions.

            Since the release of Blackfish, SeaWorld has ended their orca breeding program and has changed their shows to be less entertainment based, and more “educational”. Some may argue that they have changed, and it is still okay to go. SeaWorld does conservation work too, so they must be a good business to support! But what does that do for the orcas? Great! They are no longer forced to breed unnaturally and no longer have to do unrealistic tricks! However, that does not change a thing. They are still held captive in a concrete tank with no mental stimulation, exposed to the harsh Florida sun and infections, they are still dying prematurely, and have no choice but to live their life in a small tank suffering from boredom and depression.

            SeaWorld has refused to give up their whales because they believe they won’t survive in the wild. Which is true, the captive bred orcas cannot survive without human care. The wild caught orcas have been held captive for so long, they would not either. However, their mental capacities are amazing, and they have wonderful memories. The wild caught orcas can be acclimated and possibly released back into the wild and to go to their families who are still alive! This must be done before it is too late! It has been done before and can be done again. Even for the whales who cannot be released, the goal is to give them a more natural and stimulating life.

This is an amazing opportunity for communities to learn natural orca behavior and provide a better life for all captive cetaceans. Recently, The Whale Sanctuary Project has selected a seaside sanctuary site for captive orcas and cetaceans to retire. They would be in the ocean yet separated to where they still have that human care. They can swim 100 miles a day like they would naturally, rather than in circles in a tank. They will also have the mental stimulation of living in the ocean and can even learn to hunt. Still thinking about SeaWorld? Maybe Disneyworld is the better choice. After all, it is the happiest place on earth!

Works Cited

Bekhof, Mark. “The Harmful Effects of Captivity on Orcas.” Psychology Today, 26 Jun. 2019,

Blackfish. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, performances by John Hargrove, Samantha Berg, Dave Duffus, Ken Balcomb, Mark Simmons, Carol Ray, John     Jett, Jeffrey Ventre,    and Lori Marino. 2013.

Jett, John, et al. “Tooth damage in captive orcas (Orcinus orca).” Archives of Oral Biology. Vol. 84, December 2017, pp. 151-160. Science Direct.    

Marino, Lori, et al. “The harmful effects of captivity and chronic stress on the well-being of         orcas (Orcinus orca).” Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Jan.- Jun. 2019. Science Direct,

Goucher’s Identity and Moving Forward


I took Peace Studies 124: Being Human my second semester on campus. As part of the course, we spent a lot of time discerning and reflecting on our values on both individual and group levels. With this, we also grappled with philosophical and qualitative differences between making decisions out of fear and not out of fear. I’ve been thinking about how fear-based decision-making shows up in every aspect of my life, and I’ve started dialing in more intentionally to recognizing environments of fear and insecurity.

This past week couple weeks have been intense. While layoffs and reorganizations are conceptually very normalized in the nonprofit world, this round of layoffs feels qualitatively different than the faculty cuts that happened two years ago, when I was new to campus.  Uncertainty is alive and well on our campus.

My four years on campus are projected to be the same as the duration of the Trump presidency.

Within this context of despair at the impending loss of social programs, increased military spending, and devaluation of truth, I enrolled at Goucher. I knew that this would be a formative several years in our College’s history, and I was ready to experience it all.

Since I unpacked into my second-floor double in Winslow in the fall of 2017, I’ve seen Tuttle get moved and repaired; I’ve watched Fireside and Trustees get built; I’ve switched from eating in Stimson to the renovated Mary Fisher; I’ve watched the North side of campus become largely forgotten in an ambience of asbestos and the Stimson Stench. My year was the first of the Goucher Commons curriculum, which saw the rollout of DegreeWorks, Starfish (now Navigate), CPEs, and Race, Power, and Perspective requirements. 

The prevailing student discourse during my first semester on campus centered around the question: “Does Goucher have an identity?” Most upperclassmen I knew didn’t seem to think so. I’ve been on campus for program prioritization, countless reorganizations, budget shortfalls, advocacy around transparency, and a growing urgency surrounding the climate crisis. 

My first semester without construction on campus has been this one. 

Philosophically, José was hired to stir the pot. The Ath was built and our dorm infrastructure was crumbling. Our academics were unfocused and he threw ideas at the campus to see what stuck. José was on the receiving end of a lot of student ire, and I imagine Kent will feel some of that as well.

As students, we have a responsibility to one another to keep track of the changes that are happening. It is our duty to collaborate amongst our peers to organize our questions and our feelings in ways that build relationships and trust. It is also not our job to do this alone. As members of a campus that is beginning to have an ongoing and enthusiastic “yes!” to the question “Does Goucher have an identity?”, we need our faculty and staff to trust our intentions and to value our voices in tangible ways. This is what a vision of shared governance can look like. Through involving more in-house experts who are physically experiencing the tumult on campus, as well as communicating clearly with our community members off campus, we can work collaboratively to build a Goucher that lives and breathes its Community Principles. The stakes are high, and with the future of crises like the ones at the Southern border looming over us, we would do well to value each other as humans and build intergenerational relationships that will bring us closer as a cohesive community.

Are We Doing Enough?: Teens and Mental Health


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. 

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. 


Recognizing Female Athletes


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.


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,

Lamonier, Paulana. “The Business Of Being A WNBA Player.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 3 July 2018, player/#1ec113885af1.

Ottaway, Amanda. “Why Don’t People Watch Women’s Sports?” The Nation, 21 July 2016,


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


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. 

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. 



Love is Love, Even When It’s Polyamorous


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. 


Works Cited

Burton, Neel. “The Rise and Fall of Monogamy.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 2017,

Pappas, Stephanie. “New Sexual Revolution: Polyamory May Be Good for You.” Scientific American, 14 Feb. 2013,

“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?



Photo Credit: Jose Luis Gonzales, Reuters via

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.


Photo Credit:


     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. 


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:

Cassidy, S. (2011, October 26). How Eletronic Cigarettes Work. Retrieved September 30, 2019, from How Stuff Works:

Jones, L. (2019, September 15). Vaping: How Popular Are E-Cigarettes? Retrieved September 30, 2019 from BBC:

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:

Caprito, A. (2019, September 16). Juul Vape: What is it, why are teens addicted, and is it safe? Retrieved September 30, 2019 from Cnet:


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