Humans of Radford University

“Music is about the only thing that keeps me sane. Things like video games are fun to do, but you can’t zone out when you do it. When I play music, I can lose myself.”

 

 

“I play guitar and violin.  I played violin in the orchestra when I was younger. I haven’t played violin in about a year though ‘cause it’s at home and I’m here. But I have my guitar. If you don’t play an instrument, listen to music when you’re stressed and that will help you out. It’s different when you play music and listen to it though. It’s like if you work behind the scenes for a TV show, when you watch that show on TV, it’s going to be totally different, ‘cause you know how it’s made and what goes into making it.”

 

If You’re Thinking About Getting a Tattoo, Here’s 10 Things You Should Know

I have always loved tattoos, and I got my first tattoo this year. It’s a small one, so I am by no means an expert, but here are 10 things I wish I had known before I got my tattoo.

  1. It Hurts

I got my tattoo in a very sensitive area (the inside of my elbow) and it hurt. I’ve heard it doesn’t hurt that bad in other areas, and some people say it doesn’t hurt at all. But generally, ribs, feet, and the inside of knees and elbows are some of the places it hurts the most to get tattoos. It depends on your pain tolerance, but if you’re thinking about getting a tattoo in those areas, know that it’s usually pretty painful.

  1. Schedule an Appointment If You Don’t Want to Wait

I was a walk-in and I thought that they would be able to see me right away, or at the very most, I would only have to wait 10 or 15 minutes. But when I walked in, they told me the wait would be about two hours, which didn’t help my nerves at all. If you’re nervous and don’t want to overthink it or get cold feet, schedule an appoint so you can get your tattoo when you get to the shop. Note that some shops require you pay a nonrefundable deposit if you make an appointment.

  1. Know What You Want and Where You Want It Before You Get to the Shop

I knew what I wanted before I went, however, I didn’t know where exactly I wanted it. So I had to sit there in the shop and decide where I wanted it. I was flustered and honestly felt quite dumb and I was wasting the artist’s time. It’s a permanent decision, so don’t wait until you get to the shop and then feel like you have to rush to decide.

  1. Tip Your Artist

Your artist is going to do their best to give you what you want. Just like with a meal, a tip is a way to say “thank you” for good service. 10-20% is average.

  1. Bring a Friend—But Not Your Whole Squad

Having one friend there to hold your hand is great. I’m very thankful for my friend who went with me and I don’t think I wouldtattoo-gun have been able to do it without her. But don’t bring every single one of your friends. The rooms aren’t that big and big groups of people can be super annoying, especially to tattoo artists who are trying to focus and do a good job. Stick with just one friend.

  1. Buy Lotion

After you get a tattoo, you have to apply lotion to it afterwards so it will heal faster and won’t dry out. Aquaphor and Lubriderm are the recommended brands. Whatever you get, make sure it is plain and unscented (no cocoa butter).

  1. The Healing Process Is About Two Weeks

You will most likely bleed while getting the tattoo and the skin and the area around it will be red afterwards. It may scab over, depending on how much you bled when you got it. It will be quite itchy and start to peel. DON’T SCRATCH IT. After about two weeks, it should be nearly completely healed.

  1. Protect It From the Sun

The sun will fade your tattoo quicker, especially when it’s fresh and still healing. Cover it up and keep it out of direct sunlight for at least a day or two. Always apply suntan lotion to it even after it’s healed.

  1. It’s OK to Be Nervous

I was very nervous before I got my tattoo (low-key freaking out really). But after I got it was proud and glad that I did it. If it’s something you really want and has a special meaning or story behind it, the nervousness will be worth it.

  1. Just Do It

If you’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo for a while and you have a good idea of what you want, just do it. Don’t overthink it. If you’re not drunk and it’s not an impulse, chances are you won’t regret it.

 

Campus Safety Walk Sheds Light on Radford’s Darkest Places

On Wednesday, October 26th, the members of the Radford community, including the Student Government Association, Radford City and University police departments, university administrators, along with other students came together for the university’s bi-annual Campus Safety Walk. This event, taking place once each semester for the past four years, allows for these groups to meet together and identify safety concerns on campus and in the surrounding communities. Through their collaboration, this group identifies areas with improper lighting, emergency phones, and sidewalks that need updating in order to ensure that students are comfortable walking after sundown.

While it seems like a small effort, the impact of this event can be seen throughout the community. Over the last four years,

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“Through their collaboration, this group identifies areas with improper lighting, emergency phones, and sidewalks that need updating.”

Radford has seen an increase in the amount of safety measures taken, such as brighter, more numerous street lamps and the installation of new emergency phones on campus. Many of these improvements can be attributed to the Walk, which allows for direct communication between students and administrators and helps them find the greatest areas for concern.

This year, the team was able to identify several areas that needed to be addressed, however, the total number of unsafe areas has decreased because of the year-to-year improvements that are being made.

All in all, these walks are a great time for people to come together for the greater good of our community; the more frequent interactions students and leaders can have with one another, the safer Radford University and our city will be.

Get Involved!

Are you tired of sitting in bed watching reruns of Friends every night? I understand if you say no. However, if you said yes, this is the article for you! It is time for you to get up and get involved. I know, I know, it’s scary to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Well, it is time to do some pushing, and you won’t regret it!

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“You need to start conversations with the people there.”

Last year, when I was a freshman in University 100, I was required to go to the club fair and get signatures from different tables. Ugh. My worst nightmare: socializing. I went from table to table, becoming more and more awkward by the second. That is until I came across a table for a Christian sorority, Sigma Alpha Omega (SAO). Suddenly, the awkward went away. I knew at that moment that I needed to join this group. Flash-forward two semesters later, and here I am with the best friends a girl could ask for and involved in things I love and take pride in! Being a sister in SAO also got me involved in other groups, like the Radford University Chi Alpha campus ministry.

Alright, so that’s great and all, but now let’s talk about how you can get involved.  This is the uncomfortable part, but trust me when I say that once you find that group, it is worth every awkward moment. Talk! You need to talk to the groups that have tables out on the Bonnie Plaza. Ask them how they got started in the club and see how that club has shaped their lives. They will be glad to answer. Ask to be added to their email list. A lot of clubs have email lists to inform their members about what events are happening and when there will be meetings.

The next step is going to those meetings. What was the point of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone if you don’t show up? When I say go to the meetings, I don’t mean get there right before it starts and slip out the back as soon as it ends. You need to start conversations with the people there. When I started going to SAO events, I asked a couple girls to go to a football game with me. Today, they are my best friends. You never know what starting a conversation will lead to.

Now here is some homework for you. Next time you see a club table that piques your interest, don’t just walk by. Engage in a conversation with them. You never know where a small conversation will lead. It might just change your life.

Blind Ed’s Tavern and Crematorium

When winter ceases stalking,

Takes you from the flank,

And your bloodied coat is in the bag at your side

With the body, I know a joint on the edge of town

Where the hearth always glows.

 

Drop your bag in the back with the rest,

Then slip through the blizzard’s claws at the door.

Pick a stool—Ed will know what you need.

Take a glass to thaw your throat

While the drifting embers lick snow from your shoulders.

 

When your color returns and your breathing eases,

tavernEd shakes your hand, pressing a warm key in your palm.

Upstairs, slip off your shoes, sink into the bed,

Let the rumbling roar of the furnace roll you

Deep into a dream of summer.

 

Ed can’t help with ghosts—

He deals in miracles, not magic—

But thank him on your way out,

And tip well.  Blind Ed knows

He’ll see you again soon enough.

Cabin Boy

Each ounce of daylight he’d earned

He spent in the throes of a mad ship

Named Delilah.  Her crooked masts hung

Inches above the rumbling sea,

Her sheets slave only to the gale.

 

A cannonball hole to starboard

Ushered storm-spray into his quarters.

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“Her crooked masts hung inches above the rumbling sea.”

His hammock swayed between the drops

Plucking his creased forehead like a mandolin.

Neither storm nor Hell on deck could wake him.

 

Within his fragile, rounded skull

He lay nestled in the grass by a waterfall—

Its earthly place swallowed by the labyrinth of memory.

A blanket of mist rolled over him on the breeze

As the soft crashing rocked his head

 

Side to side, starboard to port,

Beneath the crackling thunder of boots.

Delilah listed toward the smothered sunset—

Pitching him through the wound in the hull,

Still cradled in the arms of the riverbank.

Time: The Sleepless God

Resigned to the embrace of an oak or an elm

Nestled on a knoll as the knell from the church

Hummed its farewell for a stranger,

I settled with a stack of worn letters

And read them by the starlight.

 

When the bell clamped its jaw,

Time—the sleepless god with bloodshot eyes—

Heaved me to my feet, spun me around,

Nudged me down an overgrown path

Headed east through a forest of firs.

 

The sun crawled up behind a rotten stable

Filled with cracked horse bones.

I touched their splintered ribs,

Whispered their names,

Damned them again for dying.

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“The sun crawled up behind a rotten stable.”

Stomping a pelvis to powder,

I headed west, though the path was gone.

I charged into the troop of trees,

Fell over a root wrapped around a headstone

Scarred with the name of a freckled farm girl.

 

Three more tombs with names like wide-eyed cattle

Bruised my eye, broke my teeth, and stole my shoes.

I pushed through the steel needles, back to the hill,

As the sun set behind the town,

Outshone by the strobing casino.

 

The letters, scattered once more,

Will find me as they do.

I step over an empty grave under the elm or the oak,

Throw open the casino gates hoping to turn a profit—

Or at least break even.

“How Will You Get to Know Someone If You’re Not Allowed to Date?”

If I were to charge $10 for each time somebody asked me that question, you’d probably see me featured under a headline that reads Success Stories of the Century. I always wonder to myself– how can you NOT get to know someone without dating them? Is it really that complicated?

What is dating? And why do I even speak of it as a Muslim woman?

If you lack the company of diverse friends in your life, you probably also paint arranged marriages badly and see me as the least credible to speak on this matter. But, yes, a percent of us does look further than the whole arranged situation; though nothing is wrong with that.

Religion may have nothing to do with you receiving this question, no; you’re probably just not into the whole dating scene. Or maybe you did try to date in the past, and you’re too hesitant to put in that kind of time and energy figuring the person out only to call it off for not working out.

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“There are so many ways to get to know somebody without actually dating them.”

Caroline Zelonka, a freelance writer, exemplifies this best:

I met most of my partners at work. Typically, the relationship would start as a work friendship, segue into a platonic out-of-work friendship, then blossom into a romantic attraction.

It’s really an ideal way to start things. In my opinion, one often shows their best self at work. Your brains and resourcefulness take the lead. I suppose your physical attributes are also showing, but I have had much better results when I had a chance to “wow” the guy with my personality rather than rely on my looks or charm in the artificial situation of a date.

Being “friend-zoned” isn’t always a bad thing, nor do I think it’s even real to be completely honest with you. There are so many ways to get to know somebody without actually dating them, and my favorite approach would be friendship. I feel like relationships which begin on the basis of that sort of understanding—as friends have it—last longer compared to those that jump straight into one . . . but that’s just my opinion.

Pretty Sure it was the Catnip

As some of you are probably aware, I recently lost my cat. I love my cat, and I love him more than I love people. Is that even a surprise?

This would be the first time I’d ever volunteered to care after another life form as an adult, and, to one day come home to the news of his disappearance, I couldn’t feel as anymore of a failure than I did that day. I did end up finding him, thank god, or rather – he found us.

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“I’m pretty sure it was the catnip.”

Since I’d gotten into the habit of him snuggling next to me around bedtime, my first night without him was painfully lonesome. I placed his favorite flavor of Friskies outside, hoping the smell would reach him and would have him returning home. I woke up next morning, ran down the stairs to see if there was any sign of him, but I was greeted with the sight of flies buzzing over the untouched, now cold meat.

An advice a good friend of mine gave to me was to see if it was okay with my neighbors to place cat food outside their porch. Another told me to place anything and everything that was familiar to him. And I did. The next night I went full out.

His bed, his favorite treats, his toys, and even his litterbox with his feces still in it – I put everything outside around sunset. I even went as far as spraying cat nip on his belongings, the bushes, the flowers in our backyard: an open invitation to all the neighborhood felines.

After searching for him for over 32 hours, I had lost hope that I would ever see him again; I continued to look for him anyway, posted ads everywhere from utility poles to Craigslist.

Around three in the morning, my brother goes down to grab a bowl of cereal while I’m in my room catching up with some of the assigned reading, and we hear a thump, followed by two meows.

We bolted down the stairs once again, swung open the door, and sure enough– it was Rajah, our beautiful Tabby boy sitting right outside on our WELCOME mat.

 

I’m pretty sure it was the catnip, but that’s just my opinion.

Unresolved Business

Nestled in the fringes of what is known as the Loudoun area around Northern Virginia Community College, there resides a story teetering on the edges of truth or slander.

This story revolves around victims and their accounts of the atrocities inflicted upon their families by a Christian church with the name of Calvary Temple right up in Sterling, Virginia. The multimillionaire and Head Pastor, Star R. Scott, along with other religious leaders there have been accused of the sexual and physical abuse of minors, as well as tearing families apart.

Molly Fitch, one brave mother, shares her experience: she will occasionally drop by her children’s place time to time, knock on their door, and would ask for them to show their faces because she misses them so dearly that she writes letters to them in hopes that her children will one day come across them.

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“This story revolves around victims and their accounts of the atrocities inflicted upon their families by a Christian church.”

Since Molly has been “marked” by the Church, any contact with her will jeopardize a current member’s relationship with the Church. Unfortunately, there are plenty more stories of the like, with few willing to step out into the light.

What’s disturbing is to know that a Math Teacher from NVCC, Youssef Taleb, rumored of being guilty of the same crimes will be “relieved of his duties,” but a pastor with such reputation is allowed to lead hundreds of people all over the globeI suppose that’s what they mean by separation of church and the state.

Another ex-member and victim claims everything about the Church to dangerously resemble the People’s Temple massacre in 1955  under the leadership of Pastor Jim Jones, with the only exceptions of relocating and murdering their followers left to be made. Of course, the members feel differently.

As I continue to pursue and document this case, you’re more than welcome to be in the know by following the popular hashtag associated with this side of the story: #exposecalvarytemple

By the way, Taleb, the 27 year old former Math instructor at NVCC, has been cleared of all charges and wishes to one day be able to teach again.

All Fun and Games till Someone Gets Hurt

As we all get ready for THE spooktacular time of the year, it is so important that we remain on top of our toes this Halloween. There’s no knowing what’s lurking out there, looking to make the most of the night of nights, in the worst of ways.

You can either hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband because these clowns are out there raping everybody or you can have a good time without being dumb about it. For instance, don’t wear a clown costume. Don’t do it. Don’t do it.

Don’t do it.

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“It is so important that we remain on top of our toes this Halloween. “

We have this one saying in the Middle East, “Come bull, hit me.” Regardless of your intentions, clowning around this Halloween may mean asking for trouble. And yet, despite the warning, I’m going to see Harley Quinn and the Joker on every other block in town; I just know it.  But the real question is–do they even count into this whole coulrophobia thing going on? They’re not really all that creepy as the classical clowns with plastered smiles and red noses that go squeak-squeak.

I have two Evil Jester costumes lying around from 2013 that I was planning on selling this year, but I’ve been more indecisive about this than the usual Chick-fil-a line makes me: will it be chicken nuggets today or waffle fries? Three cheers if you can relate!

Call it paranoia, call it precaution, but one Mississippi town has put a ban on clown costumes till November 1. The county “has declared it illegal to dress like a clown, and is threatening to levy $150 fines against anyone” that is caught doing so. Costume shops around the nation are advising against “clowning around the wrong people.”

As reported by NBC4’s sister station WKRN-TV: Gary Broadrick with Performance Studios in Nashville, Tennessee said, ““I’d feel really bad if I found out that somebody bought a mask of any kind from us just to have some fun and got hurt.”

It doesn’t get any better with the creepy clown craze making its way overseas, but that’s just my opinion. Be safe! Be smart!

Why Clinton will Win

I’m reminded of Ricegum every time that I’ve sat down to watch the presidential debates. For those of you who don’t know him, Bryan Le, best known as Rice Gum, is notorious for roasting people and their egos on YouTube. I don’t even feel the need to switch over to Crunchyroll or DramaFever with the way Hillary and Trump go at each other; so far they’ve been the best at keeping me entertained.

In less than 20 days, we’re to see a candidate emerge as the next President of the United States, and, no matter who it is, it’s sure to be historic to say the least. With the mass frustration of having to choose between “the lesser of two evils,” a good percent is leaning towards voting in Gary Johnson’s favor. But is that percentage enough?

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“Voting for a third-party member means throwing your vote away.”

See, blind trust like that can be a dangerous thing. In case you forgot, we’re not a democracy; we’re a republic. It aggravates me when politicians will refer to us as a democracy, but yet we have a two-party system built that is made to discourage third-party members from rising, and then we have two main candidates that honestly just represent the top one percent, all while spouting nothing but pretty words, or ugly words as well in Donald’s case.

I am a strong supporter of Jill Stein, but we’ve never before had a third-party member become President. And, again, as long as we have an electoral college in place, this nation may never see one. It is true that they’ve come so far in the race, but, in the end, voting for a third-party member means throwing your vote away. Face it. And, yes, Gary Johnson is a third-party member.

The two options that  that leaves us with are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The way I see it, with the amount of disapproval rating Trump’s got, there’s no stopping Clinton from winning the presidency–but that’s just my opinion. Happy voting!

Get Your Money’s Worth – Go to Class

My old history professor used to say that education is the only thing out of which you don’t want your money’s worth. He’d say this after running out of dates and facts to throw at us during the class. “I guess we can stop here, huh?” he’d say, looking at his watch, which showed five minutes left in the hour, five minutes left in class. “Yes, of course!” we would all shout and immediately start clearing our desks and stuffing textbooks into our backpacks, and then sprint towards the door.

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“One of the best way to excel in college is to just go class.”

It’s true. Nothing makes our day as college students like an email announcing that a professor is feeling ill and won’t be able to make it to teach class. Sections on the syllabus that say, “No class, professor out of town” or “attending a conference” are glimmers of hope on the horizon amid long stretches of class after class during the week. So why do college students rejoice when a class is cancelled or seem to be so prone to skip a class? As all of us very well know, college is not cheap. When you break it down, for a 15-credit semester at Radford, each class comes out to about $40 each. When’s the last time you paid $40 dollars for something and then didn’t use it or wished dearly that you wouldn’t have to use it? But that’s what students do every time they skip class.

As a self-proclaimed nerd, I rarely skip. My reason is not to get the most out of my money, but rather to get the most information I can get before an exam or a paper is due. Apparently, a lot of students seem to think they can do that on their own and skipping one or two or seven classes won’t hurt. And while skipping a class here and there might be okay, when it becomes normal to not show up to your 8 am, grades, motivation, and effort begin to suffer.  Really, one of the best way to excel in college is to just go class. Half the battle is simply making it to class (taking notes helps too). I know it’s tempting to just get notes from a friend, but students will learn much more in class than from a friend in the class who most likely didn’t want to be there either. So resist the urge to sleep or skip and just go to class. It’s what we’re here for anyway, and at the very least we can get our money’s worth out of it.

Fall Dance Fest 2016

How beautiful and amazing is it that we are always able to express ourselves in many ways, whether it be dancing, singing, playing an instrument, acting, painting, and any other forms of art. We never have to hold back what we are truly feeling, and our God-given talents and gifts can always be used, appreciated, and can draw in a few people or a crowd of people. We never have to hold back, and that is the beauty of expressing one’s self. After all, who really wants to hold back what they are feeling inside?

This past month I went to the Fall Dance Fest at Radford University. I used to dance competitively and I love to dance still, so when I was watching the performance, I wanted to be up there with the rest of the dancers. Dancing, in my opinion, through any particular song, can be another way of trying to let go of any obstacles we may face throughout our lives. So being able to express ourselves through a song and movement, I find, is very powerful in many different ways.

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Dance from Radford University’s Fall Dance Fest: “Waltz of the Flowers”. Photo Credit: Robert Simmons

One dance I particularly enjoyed was the jazz dance. Out of all the dances, the jazz piece was one of my favorites. The black long-sleeved shirts and red leggings were a great touch to the music and atmosphere during the piece. The music had a great beat, and the beat was different because of how calm it was. It’s like the music and dancers got their point across with the subtle beat here and there, more so than they would have if they had played a louder beat throughout the piece.

I’ve always found that one reason I love dance is because of how vividly it is always expressed. Whether someone is getting their hair pulled (as the dancers did portray in one piece) or someone is depressed and showing this through their movement, it is all very beautiful. I know the dancers touched many people who attended their show, and I myself look forward to coming to more performances in the future.

Embracing the Tradition and Envisioning the Future — Brian O. Hemphill’s Inauguration

Bagpipes blared, and family and friends gathered as the Radford University community officially welcomed and inaugurated President Brian O. Hemphill, the 7th president of the University on Thursday, October 13.

Special guests and speakers came from all over to support and congratulate not only President Hemphill, but also Radford University itself. The buzz of optimism and pure excitement filled the air as guest after guest sang the praises of President Hemphill.

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The inauguration of President Brian O. Hemphill, the 7th president of the University on Thursday, October 13. Photo credit: Radford University

The message of student-centeredness was one that was a common thread through the ceremony. President Hemphill’s message was one of the promise of excellence and commitment. His mantra of “Embracing the tradition and envisioning the future” rang true throughout the service as more than a phrase or motto, but as a promise to his fellow Highlanders. It became very clear throughout the ceremony that President Hemphill is not only more than qualified to run this university, but most importantly, he has a heart for our school. “[President Hemphill] is the right fit for the right time,” State Council of Higher Education for Virginia member Peter A. Blake said. President Hemphill’s focus lies with us as students along with service, research, and teaching as he begins his tenure here at Radford University.

As the ceremony came to an end, the bagpipes blared once again, which not only symbolized the celebration of the ceremony and marked the end of it, but also kicked off the campus BBQ. The campus BBQ was a fun-filled and food-filled time of fellowship, and it also was a great kick off into Homecoming/Family Weekend festivities.

Radford’s Ready for the Election

With just a few short weeks to go, the presidential election of 2016 is almost here. This election has truly been one for the history books, and Radford University students are ready to take part in this important election year.

With efforts from the Voting Action Office, ran as a part of the Student Government Association, students this year have made a point to take the time and register to vote or apply for an absentee ballot if needed. As of SGA’s recent October 17th meeting, 533 students have taken the time to ensure their vote will be counted and voice will be heard on November 8th.

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“The number of students registering this year is far more than that of last year.”

The number of students registering this year is far more than that of last year, the first year the Voting Action Office was established. This can be understood in part by the national attention a presidential election receives, as well as the nature of this grueling 2016 election season.

While most students hear the usual buzz about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Radford goes beyond looking at the two major party candidates, with many students supporting third-party individuals such as the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, the Green Party’s Jill Stein, and even independent conservative Evan McMullin. For many here on campus, they believe it’s time to let go of the traditional two-party system and recognize the alternatives that may be a better choice for our nation.

Regardless of who you support this election season, it is critical for every student to be informed and go out to the polls on Election Day. The Millennial generation is the largest voting bloc for the very first time in America’s history this year, meaning we have the power to put who we want into the White House. Make sure to take part in this great civic duty of ours—if we don’t, who will?

Radford Wants YOU to Vote

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”

-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Over the last few weeks, Radford University has been gifted with the presence of voter registration personnel. Their main objective is to get many, if not all, of the Radford student body registered in time for the 2016 presidential election. While many of us find this to be slightly annoying—especially when they stop you and you’re already late to your 3:30 bio lab—it’s a necessary evil.

In 2014, only 19.9% of 18-29-year-olds cast their ballots; this was the lowest youth turn-out rate ever recorded in a federal election.

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“Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country and this world.”

Many students claim that they’re too busy, that their vote doesn’t matter, and that they just didn’t feel the need to register to vote; however, it’s this demographic that has the potential to change the course of an entire election. According to 2014 numbers, there are 31.5 million 18-24-year-olds in America, with 40% of those individuals being college students. This is a tenth of the overall population. Imagine the difference that could occur if every college student did their civic duty and voted in not only federal elections, but local ones as well.

College is a time where we make changes, and how we define ourselves differs from the child that we’ve grown out of. One of the milestones that we reach at the raw age of 18 is the ability to vote. College students consistently seek ways to better the environment, their local communities, and their lifestyles, and the most progressive way to do this is to vote.

So the next time you see an overly excited (or overly tired) voter registration attendant and you haven’t registered, just go ahead and do it. As stated by Sharon Salzberg, “Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country and this world.”

Sensing the End

The night was always the loneliest time for Tredan. He remembered years ago a time when he never felt this way. Was it a decade? Two? After so long, keeping track had lost its importance, and wandering the world had become Tredan’s only occupation.

His new life had begun at the end of the war, when the Havat empire invasion had put Tredan’s homelands under their control. The war had lasted less than a year and the soldiers Tredan had fought alongside had either been killed or enslaved. All of them except Tredan, for he had seen the defeat coming and at the last charge abandoned his post.

Fleeing to the woods he looked back to see fires breaking out atop the castle walls. Tredan ran until the screams of his people were finally silenced, then until the guilt was finally outweighted by exhaustion. After days of running, he was lost deep in the forest of Balisk. He searched aimlessly for a road, or even a hunting trail. It had been a month–at least it felt like a month–before Tredan found other people.

He took refuge with the village’s blacksmith for a time until he had earned enough to travel on. He left that place in the dead of night; too many knew of his old platoon, the Black Wolves, and their many exploits in the ever declining defense of their country. They had tried–by the gods, they had tried–year after year to stem the invasion.

Failure still gripped Tredan no matter how much he drank and no matter how far he ran. And now, years later in the midst of unfamiliar forests, he gripped himself tight by the fire. He was shaking from the strain as the faces of his comrades raged at him from the flames.

He was still wandering the next day aimlessly walking a trail to an unknown destination. It had been so long since he had seen a village. He had no food, no water, and only his old sword at his belt. His thoughts of nourishment fled as he left the forest’s edge, looking out at the old ruins of a castle, its remains scorched and overgrown with vegetation.

This was his home. The place he had fought so hard to defend and run for so long to forget. Walking the grounds again depleted him of emotion. This place had not even been worth rebuilding. He attempted to fill the ruined halls the memories he still had. Tredan fell to all fours weeping at his cowardice, until the growls of an animal pulled him back. The largest wolf he had ever seen looked down at him with from a roof top. Eyes as yellow as the harvest moon, and mid-night black fur bristling at Tredan’s intrusion. The falling sun masked the beast’s movement as Tredan drew his blade for the last time.