Category Archives: Opinion

Fanfiction is Good Fiction

Movies, TV shows, and novels have become one of the largest, if not the largest, form of entertainment in the world today. Millions of people enjoy the Harry Potter franchise, the Star Wars franchise, the Game of Thrones franchise, and the Twilight saga, just to name a few of the more popular ones. Most of them are so popular that they are still going strong even after 20 or 30 years. One of the biggest contributors to their continued popularity is the creation of fanfiction.

Fanfictions, for those of you who do not know, are stories that use characters, settings, and backgrounds that already exist. The vast majority of fanfiction is published online and is available for free. The writers (i.e. the fans) can change any part of a character, story, or background, for almost any reason. They can do so if they simply like a character one way over another or if they want to add a trait that’s necessary for telling their story. Fans do this because they enjoy writing, because they wish to see more of their favorite characters, because they are interested in seeing what may happen if they changed a crucial plot point, and so on; the reasons are countless.

Some of these fanfiction stories are of a very professional quality and are novels in and of themselves. On the other hand, some of them can be rather subpar; it all varies between writers. However, there is some controversy over the creation of fanfiction, regardless of its quality. Some consider it a breach of copyright and critique the writers for being unoriginal. Some believe others shouldn’t borrow the hard work of professional writers, directors, and screenwriters. But the situation isn’t as simple as that.

typing
“Fanfictions, for those of you who do not know, are stories that use characters, settings, and backgrounds that already exist.” Photo from: sourcemygarment.com

Fanfiction writers don’t claim to own any of the characters or stories that they base their work on nor do they enjoy any financial gain from it. Many make a point of letting their readers know that they do not own the characters they are writing about. They aren’t mooching off the professional story tellers’ financial gain or reputation; they gain nothing but the satisfaction of writing and having people read and enjoy their work. There is no breach of copyright because there is no claim of ownership.

As for criticisms of unoriginality and lack of talent, those are nothing but a blatant ignorance of all of the hard work, effort, and skill that goes into the creation of any creative work. There is no denying that some fanfiction is just bad; it’s poorly conceptualized and poorly written. Those stories are typically the works of inexperienced writers who are working to improve their writing abilities. Then there are also the writers who simply don’t put much effort in. But there is just as much, if not more, fanfiction out there that is well thought-out and well written, with original plots and ideas. Even the way a person writes can be well-executed; they can give great details and create vivid descriptions. Fanfiction writers can develop new and interesting storylines that can really make you think about and feel for a character.

To suggest fanfiction is merely unoriginal and poorly written is simply ignorant of the skills and creativity needed to make great stories; these are the same skills and creativity that the original creators themselves use.

Tattoos and Piercings in the Work Place

Tattoos and piercings are two of the many ways that people like to express their individuality. If you walk down the street you are most likely to see someone with a tattoo, some form of body piercing, or both. People spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on designs and jewelry to show what they are passionate about. However, with the growing number of people that have these modifications, it is harder for them to get a job or even get past the interview stage in certain companies.

tattoos in work place
“Employers will sometimes bypass a great candidate for their company solely because they have “abnormal” piercings or visible tattoos.” Photo from: https://purposesearchers.files.wordpress.com

Employers will sometimes bypass a great candidate for their company solely because they have “abnormal” piercings or visible tattoos. In a way, this violates the First Amendment, which we all know is the freedom of speech. Tattoos are a way for someone to express their beliefs, thoughts, and feelings, so some think that they should be protected under the First Amendment. Title VII and even the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are also somewhat violated because they prohibit discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion and national origin. Paganism is a religion that believes in piercings and tattoos, so employers would be “technically” breaking a law for discriminating against someone with tattoos (1).

Now, this goes to say that some companies have lightened up on their policies regarding tattoos. There are some companies, including Wal-Mart, Sea World, and Walt Disney World, that have policies against visible tattoos (1). Most policies just ask them to be covered up, which most people do not mind doing. However, piercings such as gauges are even more largely discriminated against, more than regular piercings (1). This is because they are facial piercings that can be seen with a uniform on, thus breaking a certain code for the company.

Employers should not have a say as to what a person does to his/her own body. Because the First Amendment is very much a big deal in American society, why can’t tattoos and piercings be made a direct example of freedom of speech?

1 – http://projectcensored.org/body-art-discrimination-violation-first-amendment/

Why Scientific Literacy is Important

Imagine starting your average day. You wake up and look at what the weather forecast has to say about the outside world. You prepare yourself for the day to come, by taking a nice warm shower and using a scented bar of soap. You make yourself a large breakfast with eggs, bacon, pancakes, and a large cup of coffee. You may not have thought about it, but every action you took to begin the day involved science – whether it be the meteorologist telling you the weather by basing their predictions on patterns shown in the atmosphere, the thermodynamics used to heat up water to the perfect temperature for a shower, or the chemistry needed to make sure the pancakes came out as light and fluffy as possible.

To understand how these everyday tasks work, we need scientific literacy. What exactly is scientific literacy? Scientific literacy is described by the National Science Education Standards (1996)1 as “the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision-making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity.” Now the next question is: why is this important? Why do we need to know how the world works? What is most important about scientific literacy is it gives one the ability to make informed decisions.

chemistry cookings
“You may not have thought about it, but every action you took to begin the day involved science – the chemistry needed to make sure the pancakes came out as light and fluffy as possible.” Photo from: www.martinezgazette.com

For example, having scientific literacy can range from making basic observations to becoming involved with local and global policies. These opportunities can change your life, as well as the lives of everyone around the globe. If you get involved with any sort of environmental committee, you can help decide the purity of water for your community. Scientific literacy can also hone your fact-checking ability. If a person tells you that men have more teeth than women, a way you can check that is by observing a group of men and a group of women and counting their teeth. This is what scientific literacy is about.

Not only will being more scientifically literate help us with knowing why things happen the way they do, it can also increase a person’s skill set. According to Let’s Talk Science (2017)2, “Doing science develops our ability to ask questions, collect information, organize and test our ideas, problem-solve and apply what we learn. Even more, science offers a powerful platform for building confidence, developing communication skills and making sense of the world around us – a world that is increasingly shaped by science and technology.” These skills, especially communication skills, shape our society and personal relations. Also taking into consideration that our world is changing because of the new technologies made every day, in order to take advantage of these technological advances, we must understand why we need them and how to use them. Though the significance of science in average routines may not be clearly visible, knowing about scientific processes will provide the skills needed to be an informed decision maker.

 

 

 

Citations

 

1 National Science Education Standards. (1996). Scientific Literacy. Retrieved February 04, 2017, from http://www.literacynet.org/science/scientificliteracy.html

 

2 Turnbull, M. (n.d.). Why is Science Literacy so Important? Retrieved February 04, 2017, from http://letstalkscience.ca/about-us/why-science.html

A Need for More Diversity in Entertainment Media

Almost everyone watches TV, plays video games, reads books or does some combination thereof. All these options are great forms of entertainment and a great way to relax. Everyone loves them, but not everyone is represented in them, at least not fairly.

hands earth
“In today’s media, there is not much variety. There are very few characters that are African American, Latino, Asian, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, disabled, female, Muslim, Jewish or any combination thereof.” Photo from: https://makeitgentle.files.wordpress.com

Most of the characters in any form of entertainment media fit into a well-defined set of basic characteristics. That is to say, the vast majority of them are white, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, and male. This is not to say there is anything wrong with having characters like this. It’s perfectly fine, but the issue is that in today’s media, there is not much variety. There are very few characters that are African American, Latino, Asian, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, disabled, female, Muslim, Jewish or any combination thereof. There are very few characters with these traits, especially compared to the number of them that are white, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, and male. And when there are minorities present, it is usually only one token minority character, such as an African American in a group with five white people, for example.

This is not to say there should be less white characters or straight characters and so on, just that there should be more characters that are minorities. There should be more African-American female characters, more transgender characters who are gay, more bisexual and disabled Latinos characters, more asexual Muslim characters, more of any and all of them because these types of people exist and they deserve to be seen and heard. People want to see characters that they can connect with and feel good about. They want to see that an African-American woman can be a superhero so they can believe they can be a superhero, just like a white man can with Captain America. (Or almost any other superhero. Think about it, how many of them are white and male?) People want to watch sitcoms and dramas with diverse casts because the audiences are diverse. The simple fact of the matter is that representation matters.

LGBTQA+ diversity on campus

Radford University’s Campus has recently obtained gender neutral bathrooms in several of its academic buildings and in all of its dormitory buildings. This marks a significant positive change towards inclusion and acceptance of transgender and genderfluid individuals, something that is sorely needed during this year with its high political tensions and rise of discriminatory actions and organizations.

Radford’s LGBTQA+ organization, Spectrum, helped to make the inclusion of gender-neutral bathrooms possible on campus. The organization made a great effort to work with the university to make this happen. Spectrum is a group that works hard to provide a helpful and supportive community for LGBTQA+ individuals, and they raise awareness for issues involving them. Organizations like this are a great help to many people and they do a lot to create a better place for the people of their community.

spectrum
“Radford’s LGBTQA+ organization, Spectrum, helped to make the inclusion of gender-neutral bathrooms possible on campus.” Photo from: https://pbs.twimg.com

Because many groups and minorities have to worry about discrimination and fighting for their rights, they develop organizations like Spectrum or Black Lives Matter. Groups like these enable individuals to help each other and work towards equality, to a world where people are free to be themselves without fear of hate crimes and/or prejudice. The inclusion of gender-neutral bathrooms is a step in this direction. It lets transgender and genderfluid people know they are not alone and that people can and will support and fight for them. It shows that, contrary to the beliefs of some, they are not secondary citizens and that their rights and comforts are just as important as everyone else’s.

We need a greater inclusion and consideration of minorities and we are working towards that. People of the LGBTQA+ community (along with African Americans, Muslims, Latinos, and any minority or group subjected to prejudice and unfair treatment) are real, valuable, and important people. They deserve the same treatment and rights as anyone. They are human beings who deserve the same respect and decency that we all demand ourselves. It is not outlandish to show considerations for their needs; in fact, people should show consideration for others at the the bare minimum.

Discrimination vs Compassion in Trump’s America

It seems that since his inauguration, President Trump has made some of the most controversial executive orders just within his first few days in office. These executive orders include moving on with the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Mexico City Policy on abortion, and the travel ban for those in the Middle East.

With these executive orders, some people feel as though the country is moving backward in time, not forward. President Trump had given an executive order that would ban citizens of Syria, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Iran, Somalia and Yemen from entering the United States for 30 days (1). It has been stated in the past that President Trump wants to keep those of the Muslim faith out of the country, and this order does exactly that.

With his use of power, it seems as though President Trump is trying to turn our country into 1950’s America. However, the discrimination is not focused solely on African Americans; this time, he’s including Muslims in the mix. In his mind, this will “Make America Great Again.” His travel ban says to, “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality” (1). This means that he wants to put Christians from the Middle East before Muslims from the Middle East.

The United States has, historically, always been a country of diversity, scientific exploration, and a chance for immigrants to improve their lives. President Trump seems as though he is no better than a fascist because of his policies to silence the scientists and media, to discriminate against those of different religions and to limit women’s rights.

trump protests
“With his use of power, it seems as though President Trump is trying to turn our country into 1950’s America.” Photo from: foxnews.com

President Trump signed an executive order that reinstated the Mexico City Policy. This policy requires foreign agencies to certify that they will not fund or promote abortion as a way of family planning (2). He signed this order only a few days after the Women’s March on Washington. These women were marching for their rights, and these include equal pay and reproductive rights. This march was said to be one of the most peaceful marches, and it also had one of the largest crowds just in Washington D.C. itself. Women all over the globe marched for their rights protesting President Trump.

Yes, there are movements that have not exactly kept the peace, but most protests across the country have been non-violent. These people are trying to be compassionate toward others, even those of a different race, religion, or ethnicity. This is exactly what the country needs during this time of hate and discrimination. And with this movement of compassion, it seems as though millennials are trying to make the biggest change. Large crowds of millennials are attempting to make their voices heard, and they are using kindness as their tool. Kindness itself is the most powerful force that can fight against President Trump and his administration.

 

1 – http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/39236-mayors-and-activists-revolt-against-trump-s-muslim-ban-executive-order

2 – http://kff.org/global-health-policy/fact-sheet/mexico-city-policy-explainer/

Campus Starbucks Swap

Radford University has recently finished completing its new Humanities building, nicknamed CHuBS (College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences). It is a well-designed building with lots of great amenities and houses the recently moved Starbucks, which used to be located in the Bonnie. This is an interesting switch, with many pros and cons.

starbucks
“The on-campus Starbucks can now accommodate its rather large clientele in a much better fashion than it used to.” Photo from:cdn.caffeineinformer.com

On one hand, Starbucks’ current location was obviously designed for it. It is a much larger space that allows people to have more freedom and breathing room than they did in the previous location. The on-campus Starbucks can now accommodate its rather large clientele in a much better fashion than it used to. It has better seating arrangements and furniture as well. The tables are much larger, with more seats (obviously), and there are even two fairly large areas with couches and love seats, great for lounging and relaxing. Even the counter and work area is much larger and better equipped, which makes the lives of the hardworking employees less difficult, allowing them to handle the large number of customers they help on a daily basis more easily. The storage area is also bigger and better, allowing Starbucks to sell food now as well, instead of just coffee and small pastries.

But there are a few down sides to the new location as well. Primarily, it is out of the way, tucked into a corner of campus and nowhere near many of the buildings that hold classes. While admittedly it is located inside a building that holds many classes itself, CHuBS is still only one of the many colleges that Radford University has. The next closest building that holds classes is Reed/Curie Hall, and the McConnell library is between those two. It isn’t convenient or really feasible for students to grab a drink or a quick meal between classes from Starbucks because of this distance. Even if they have an hour break between classes or if they leave early to go to Starbucks before class, it is still a significant detour to go there.

Trump’s Racism and His Immigrant/Muslim Ban

Donald Trump has been in office for a little over a week and already he has created huge dissent with blatant xenophobia and Islamophobia. Trump has banned travel from seven countries that have majority Muslim populations, and he has temporarily suspended any refugees from entering the country, all in the name of preventing terrorism (1). This is blatant racism and frankly disgusting and disgraceful behavior from America’s new president.

Trump has, not so subtly, shown that he believes that anyone from an Islamic country is a terrorist or is at least affiliated with or supports them. This is racism; it cannot be said enough. He is making a derogatory, sweeping generalization about one of the largest groups in the world based on the actions of a few who claim to be Islamic, and he has abused his power in an attempt to enforce this belief. In comparison, this is like saying every white male is a mass shooter who will unavoidably kill just because people like Dylann Roof have committed racist mass shootings. Or the fact that the majority of mass shootings (which are themselves acts of terrorism) are committed by white males (2). Why isn’t President Trump issuing an executive order to ban all white men from owning a gun or preventing them from entering the country? It probably wouldn’t seem fair to do that based on the actions of a relative few, would it? Then why would it be okay to do the same exact thing to immigrants and Islamic people? It’s an avoidable fact that the majority of mass shooters in America are white males, and it is arguable that many of the stereotypical terrorists that people are worried about really are of the Islamic faith. However, they may not understand that Islam is a religion that promotes justice, kindness, and goodness, and forbids acts of violence (3).

airport protests
“Trump has banned travel from seven countries that have a population with a majority of Muslims and he has temporarily suspended any refugees from entering the country.” Photo from: newinfo.inquirer.net

What Trump is doing is petty fear-mongering. He is trying to make people look away from his own incompetency and place all of the blame for the many issues and troubles on immigrants and the Islamic people. This is blatant racism and ignorant hypocrisy, and it promotes blind hatred. We are a country of immigrants; we are supposed to be a country that welcomes everyone and allows a place for people to practice their religion and beliefs. America is a land of freedom where people are safe in the knowledge that they will be welcomed into the country and be who they are. We even have a national monument promoting exactly this: the Statue of Liberty. There is a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty bearing these famous words from the poem The New Colossus: “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free …” (4). Trump’s actions are distinctly un-American; immigrants are real human beings, not some unknown other. We should be welcoming them in, not taking federal action to keep them out. America is better than this, and we should act like it and not spout ignorant, hate promoting propaganda.

  1. http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/28/politics/donald-trump-travel-ban/
  2. http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/27/us/mass-shootings/
  3. https://books.google.com/books?id=OZbyz_Hr-eIC&pg=PA216#v=onepage&q&f=false
  4. https://www.nps.gov/stli/learn/historyculture/colossus.htm

Parking On and Around Campus

Any student at Radford University can have a car while they are away at college. Unlike most universities or colleges, Radford does not have a policy that doesn’t allow freshman students to bring their own car to college with them (provided they pay for their parking pass, of course). As such, Radford has a fairly high number of students who bring their cars with them, not to mention there are various commuter students. But as any student who drives and has a parking pass can tell you, the amount of convenient parking space for non-commuter students at Radford is almost non-existent.

parking lot
“The amount of convenient parking space for non-commuter students at Radford is almost non-existent.” Photo from: media.graytvinc.com

The most convenient space to park for students who live on campus is parking lot CC, located off campus, on the other side of a short bridge, and down a somewhat steep hill. For most students this is a fairly long walk, especially for students who live in Moffett quad. It would make the lives of many students much easier if they had closer, more convenient parking, particularly when you consider that parking lot CC does not have enough space for all of the student drivers and that the next closest parking area is parking lot Z. It is a small hike to get to and from parking lot Z, and this lot is often in danger of flooding when it rains.

However, it is also understandable that Radford University has not made more parking spaces, as there is limited space available in the area, much less space that would be convenient for on-campus students to park. It is also worth noting that students can park on campus during the weekend, something that can help ease the trouble with parking.

Nonetheless, I am sure if there was a reasonable and effective way to provide more convenient parking, then most students would encourage the university to make that happen. While this is admittedly not a top priority for the university, it would be interesting to see if Radford’s administration does anything to provide better parking in the near future.

Magical Girl Animes: Sexist or Feminist?

Most people know about anime and plenty of people watch it. They’re a fun source of entertainment where almost anything is possible. They can stretch across any genre, and they’ve even created a few of their own. One such genre (and a popular one too) is the magical girl anime.

sailor moon
“A female character has supernatural and/or magical powers, usually obtained from an outside force.” Photo from: assests2.inmings.com

For those of you who are unaware of what a magical girl anime is, here’s a basic explanation. A female character has supernatural and/or magical powers, usually obtained from an outside force. Generally, they have to balance their normal life with fighting whatever enemies are around (who are usually the reason they get their powers in the first place). It’s a pretty simple and self-explanatory idea. The potential issue with the genre is that often times the female characters can be over-sexualized by unnecessary attention placed on their breasts, overly skimpy and/or sexualized outfits, and even the occasional shot of their underwear, depending on the show. However, not every magical girl anime does this, and some even promote female empowerment and discuss (to a certain degree) important issues. Hence the conflicting ideas and this article.

One of the oldest and most famous series from this genre is Sailor Moon; this show was the kick starter for many of these types of animes. The show often discussed gender roles and identities, and it was a great example of powerful young women working together. It also switched around traditional gender roles, where the women in the show were the competent heroines and the male characters were often incompetent and in need of help.  This is a welcome change from the typical damsel in distress trope that so many TV shows and movies often go for.

This idea of women being powerful figures with actual depth to their characters has happened quite often within this genre but so has the over-sexualization of female characters. I think that what it comes down to is how the creators and animators choose to present their show. This genre is literally about empowering women so that they can fight back. But anyone can make it unnecessarily sexual. I think that, at least conceptually, magical girl animes can be an empowering form of entertainment.

Contradictions and Contrasts on Inauguration Day

On January 20th, 2017, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Trump’s inaugural speech focused largely on ideas of putting America first, uniting the nation, and making sure the country is controlled by the people. In his speech, he also talked about the government benefiting all Americans, not just the elite of Washington D.C. (1).

However, many made their opposition to Trump known as protests occurred in D.C., in major cities throughout the country, and across the globe (2). Protesters have made it clear that they wish to have no part in Donald Trump’s America and that they did not want any part of it to begin with. For all of Trump’s talk of uniting the country, he has made many feel hated and endangered.

trump
“On January 20th, 2017, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.” Photo from: www.static2.politico.com

Trump has been accused of racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and threatening women’s rights, among many other things. He has said and done many things that support these accusations. For example, Trump has argued for reviving New York’s stop-and-frisk policy, which was infamous for being used in a discriminatory manner against African Americans and Latino Americans. The policy has often been used for racial profiling against these races (3).

Trump has also shown disregard for groups such as the LBGTQ+ communities, immigrants, and women by electing Mike Pence as his Vice President (VP), who is a known opponent of LGBTQ+ rights, immigration policies, and women’s rights. Mike Pence has advocated against enacting new laws and policies that would protect the rights of these groups. He has advocated for defunding Planned Parenthood and making abortions more difficult to obtain. He has also supported Gay Conversation Therapy, which is essentially torture. Despite Trump’s claims of wanting to unite the country, his VP decision is a strong and alienating statement to many people.

Trump’s inauguration speech was about uniting America and putting America first, but his actions (and the reactions of various protesters) say something very different. Either Trump has not realized the impact of his actions or he is blatantly lying about his intentions. Either way, the significant differences between his actions during his campaign and his recent inaugural speech have some very serious and concerning implications about what Donald Trump will be like as our next president.

 

 

 

  1. http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/20/politics/trump-inaugural-address/index.html
  2. http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/19/politics/trump-inauguration-protests-womens-march/
  3. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/true-crime/wp/2016/09/21/trump-calls-for-national-stop-and-frisk-policy-for-cops-does-it-work/?utm_term=.2ab19c7e2a6c

Big Brother Shouldn’t Get a Say in a Woman’s Reproductive Rights

One of the big debates that has been happening for quite some time now is whether or not a woman should be allowed to get an abortion. This is a debate that has gone on for years with many people providing their input, and some have complicated the topic unnecessarily. The government itself tries to regulate and dictate the laws surrounding abortion, but one of the issues is the U.S. Congress, the group of people who make the federal laws in our county. Congress has only 104 women in it, out of 535 total seats available (1). It seems a little ridiculous that the group who decides the laws on an issue that can only be experienced and fully understood by women is made up of mostly men, who outnumber the women present by more than 4 to 1.

big brother
“The government itself tries to regulate and dictate the laws surrounding abortion, but one of the issues is the U.S. Congress, the group of people who make the federal laws in our county.” Photo from: www.vignette2.wiki.nocookie.net

This is not to say that men cannot have a say or a hand in crafting whatever abortion laws need to be made. However, their voice should be secondary on this issue. Women are perfectly capable of understanding and realizing the needs and functions of their own body, and they absolutely have every right to decide what they wish to do with it.

One of the major targets of anti-abortion legislation has been Planned Parenthood. Many of the accusations that are made against it show a distinct lack of an understanding of what Planned Parenthood does. This reflects the lack of understanding some lawmakers have of women’s health and health services. Abortions are only a small part of what Planned Parenthood does; it also provides STI and STD testing, cancer screenings, and health education as well as functioning as an OBGYN (2). This shows that Planned Parenthood provides so much more than just abortion services. The fact that many lawmakers would like to shut this organization down despite all of the good it does makes it seem like they are having a witch hunt rather than attempting to serve the American public.

  1. http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/current-numbers
  2. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are

Dogs are a College Student’s Best Friend

As any student can tell you, college can be a stressful time, from the first week of classes to finals week. Especially during finals, everyone has an increasing number of homework assignments, projects, and tests, and it can quickly become overwhelming. Many people have their own way of destressing; some hang out with friends, some read a good book, and some go out for a fun weekend. However, as many recent studies have been suggesting, time spent with a dog can be a great way to destress.

dog
“However, as many recent studies have been suggesting, time spent with a dog can be a great way to destress.” Photo from: www.projectinspired.com

Petting dogs has been shown to lower blood pressure, help ease depression, lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and increase the levels of oxytocin, the love hormone (1). A canine companion can be one of the best ways to help students with the stress of everyday college life. Radford University itself often holds a therapy dog day several times throughout each semester. People advocated for more of these days, and the university is usually happy to provide a few of them. They understand that spending time with dogs helps the students, and providing these days is often a safer and better option than the more chaotic options some students employ.

Therapy dogs are a good, low-cost way for college campuses to help students relieve their stress or anxiety. In fact, rarely does it cost the student or school anything at all as most of the dog handlers are volunteers who bring trained therapy dogs. This is a safer method of destressing than going out to drink and party all night, as Radford University still has something of a reputation as a party school.

The Trouble with Campus Food

cafeteria
“The majority of the eateries either close early or do not open at all on the weekends (this is especially true on Sundays).” Photo from: www.lehman.edu

Many, if not most, of Radford’s students eat on campus with one of the meal plans that the university offers, but there are a number of issues with the dining services available. Most of the dining options are good places to eat; the staff is always friendly, and the food is good. But the hours and days the restaurants are available can be an issue. For example, the majority of the eateries either close early or do not open at all on the weekends (this is especially true on Sundays). This can make it difficult, or at least a little tiresome, for students who either wish to or have to eat on campus. With only one major dining facility open (Dalton Kitchen) throughout the entire weekend, people tend to get tired of eating at the same place over and over again. Not to mention that Dalton Kitchen opens later in the morning and closes earlier in the evening on the weekends, so students, especially ones who work on the weekend, have a reduced window to eat. The same can also be said of the other dining facilities that either close early or are closed during the weekend.

Another issue with the campus’ dining options is the lack of variety. We have a Wendy’s, a Papa John’s, and a Chick-fil-A, and while those are nice places to eat with good food, the Dalton Kitchen serves the same type of food as they do many days out of the week. The remaining dining options have limited options and/or are fairly expensive. ABP is a prime example of these issues; while it is a good dining facility with good food and good employees, ABP is a bit expensive and time consuming. It also has two separate locations on campus, one of which has less food options. Switching out the smaller ABP with a different restaurant entirely would be a great idea, especially if it was one that stayed open during the weekend.

Why We March

On Saturday, January 21st, 2017, a movement erupted across the globe, a showing of solidarity among women everywhere. Recently, the political atmosphere has been unnerving, to say the least, for most women in the United States. To advocate for their rights, women marched together for everything from equal pay to equal work, from paid family leave to LGBTQA+ and minority issues. Many women also marched for those who could not, marching for women in countries with less freedom, and marching for their mentally and physically disabled sisters who are mistreated in our society. While this march was not specifically in protest of the Presidential Inauguration the day before, many were there to express their displeasure with the outcome, as they do not feel Trump will protect their interests.

The mission statement of the Women’s March on Washington organization says, “We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.” (1). It is a beautiful vision and incredibly true. We must stand up for our rights as women. We must demand equal pay. White women make between 76-82 % of what white men make, and the pay gap increases for women of color (2). Black women make about 65%, and Hispanic women only make about 58% of what white men make for the same work (2). That is outrageous, and lower pay for equal work leads to women having to get second and third jobs just to maintain their lifestyle.

womens march
“To advocate for their rights, women marched together for everything from equal pay to equal work, from paid family leave to LGBTQA+ and minority issues.” Photo from: www.abcnews.com

The U.S. is one of only 4 countries on the planet to not offer paid maternity leave. A new mother’s job is only guaranteed for the first 12 weeks of her absence, and after that the company can legally hire someone else (3). Only 16% of employers offer fully paid maternity leave, so most new parents go into debt after the birth of a child (3). This is extremely stressful for new parents, especially mothers. Therefore, we need events like the Women’s March to raise awareness of these issues as well as to change policies. The U.S. needs to progress into the modern age of equality.

1. https://www.womensmarch.com/mission/

2. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/01/racial-gender-wage-gaps-persist-in-u-s-despite-some-progress/

3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/04/maternity-leave-paid-parental-leave-_n_2617284.html

The Hypocrisy of “Black Lives Matter”

 

When the Black Lives Matter movement started, there was a sense of self righteousness and maybe even some form of misguided purpose. A line was drawn and cops were suddenly seen as the enemies for oppressing poor black communities with violence and blatant racism.

But this narrative is just a string of lies pulled together by apologists and radical ideologists. It has warped the vision of so many that even a video of Michael Brown, an apparent “victim” of racism, robbing a convenience store is disregarded and seen as heresy. Even when an autopsy report shows that the first shot was fired inside a Police officer’s vehicle, the information is disregarded. When witnesses claim that he apparently had his “hands up”—which has been proven to be false—we claim this specific knowledge to be fact.

 

A protester kneels before a ruined street – Photo from Freedom Daily

 

And it doesn’t matter what you show these people as they all seem to turn a blind eye. Whether it be a march of their movement chanting “What do we want?” and continuing with “Dead Cops,” or when Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Yusra Khogali tweeted “Plz Allah give me strength to not cuss/kill these men and white folks out here today. Plz plz plz,” it is merely brushed to the side by BLM representative Khogali with nonsensical points and irrelevant claims of racism.

In 2015 The Washington Post created a database of police shootings in the nation. Nine hundred ninety-one people were shot dead over the course of that year. Out of all of those deaths only 93 were unarmed. Out of those 93, 34 were attacks in progress. Out of those remaining 59, only 34 were black people. 42 police officers were shot and killed in 2015 but apparently BlackLivesMatter is pioneering the grounds of social justice and BlueLivesMatter is something hateful.

I personally am sick of these calls for “justice” and screams for racism with no real plan of action—just buzzwords and riots to fuel the apparent divide in the nation. Excuses for crimes and justification for cop hating.

 

 

Michael Brown Thug: <https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/03/04/doj_report_on_shooting_of_michael_brown_1.pdf>
P.18
P.6

“Dead Cops” chant: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqQXmnMr_w8>
Washington Post Database: <https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings/>
Yusra Khogali: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYkvZodBRuY>
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuE4kV_eLf8>

 

 

The Fourth Estate: The Press

Insights from big data analysis contribute to major manipulation of the public, often, without their awareness. In the political context, the issue with this is that the information that is collected is being put to use in optimizing marketing strategies that help attract and retain potential supporters in a prejudiced fashion.

The internet today has accumulated enough information about each user’s preferences that their home page is modified by what they like, from news to memes. A look at the specific keywords, tags, browsing history, et cetera, make it all the more easy to decipher a person’s interests. This aids the media, the fourth estate of a democracy, in playing a greater governmental role in society.

“The Press is an essential component to a functioning society” — Image from Big Brother Watch

Although the number one rule in journalism is that a reporter must remain neutral and unbiased to represent the two sides fairly, it’s difficult when media firms have been bought or sponsored by a particular political party that it feels the obligation to sport. Information gathered by data mining companies and the media is used to portray these candidates and c

Campaigns in colorful lighting by interpreting big data and turning it into smart data that converts and makes the respective presentations more relatable and favorable to the people.

For example, if “Barack Obama” was put into two different search engines, such as Google and Yahoo!, the prioritized order of news listed as the results will be drastically different as well. This influences the internet surfer to develop an opinion for or against the political cause and/or campaign, ultimately, manipulating the public opinion and sentiment.

The press is an essential component to a functioning democracy, but it is commonly referred to being the fourth implied branch of government. If journalism is to refrain from taking any sides, then how is it that FOX News today is known for reflecting Republican values and CNN democratic values? The distrust the American people have in the media is therefore not so misplaced.

 

 

 

A Student’s Two Cents

Radford in the Fall — Photo courtesy of Alexander Burnley

Regardless of where you study, if you’re not one to take the initiative, then do not expect to thrive. While there’s that image of RU being a party school, I honestly think that that’s got absolutely nothing to do with you. Some will scrunch up their face or look at you demeaningly for going to a school with a negative connotation like that, but I can easily see this place becoming a proud institute of higher learning where students not only know how to play hard, but work hard as well; the culture is changing.

Join any organization(s) that will help you develop, network, get you out of your comfort zone & get your name out there. Give your locals a chance, volunteer with them if you have to in order to pick up on new skills or just for the sake of providing a helping hand. You’re bound to learn something either way. The first semester has yet to end for me here at RU, and, if you know me well, you know that I wasn’t exactly all too hype to be going to Radford University.

Now?

I am determined to graduate as a Highlander and make the most out of my experience here. While my studies are a priority for me and my grades were pretty awesome, I was still upset with the way life was going for me.

I decided to get involved with Highlander Student Media here on campus—an interest that corresponds with my major—which, by the way, branches out into seven legitimate media outlets. I’m part of three teams: Radio Free Radford (RFR), Radford On Camera (ROC-TV), and Whim.

I joined RFR as an amateur disk jockey, got promoted to being the social media manager as well. With Radford on Camera, we get exposed to editing soft wares like Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, After Effects, etc, & you may wonder why a Journalism Major like me would need to know all that. The competition for us is getting tighter & tighter out there in the workplace. Radford on Camera, for example, also gave me the opportunity to cover a historical moment of our seventh presidential inauguration with Brian O. hemphill, along with a Press Pass that allowed me to free roam—which I’m still geeking out over. Then there’s Whim, Radford’s online media publishing outlet, that I just recently got accepted to work for, and not just as a content writer, but as an Editor for the Opinion’s column!

I may seem all over the place, but what’s significant here is the fact that the experiences your future employers are looking for do not just lie within your classroom walls. Going to class then straight home will not suffice when it comes to your end-of-the-year portfolio because regular classes tend to drag a project or two for periods in which you could’ve finished twice or thrice the amount of projects.

Take the initiative, see what works for you and what doesn’t.