Tag Archives: opinion

Viewpoint: Think twice before you pop this pill

The birth control pill is the most popular method of contraception on the market. According studies done by Guttmacher Institute, 82 percent of all sexually active teenage girls take the pill.

Currently, 16 million American women use the pill; 150 million women worldwide take it, and it fuels a $2.8 billion industry. Birth control opened up the doors of sexual revolution more than 30 years ago, allowing women to freely explore sex without having to worry about unwanted pregnancies. But years later, complications of the pill surfaced. Although people make their own decisions about their bodies, they should be aware of the health problems associated with this form of birth control.

Not everyone who takes the pill is sexually active; it is used for acne treatments, endometriosis, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. But for girls who take the pill to avoid becoming pregnant, the side effects include weight gain, tender breasts, and mood swings. The mood swings occur because the pill provides high levels of estrogen to fool a girl’s system into thinking it’s pregnant, preventing conception. The pill can be dangerous if taken for years on end, without letting the body take a break from the estrogen spike. A woman’s natural cycle has continuous levels of rising and falling estrogen intensities and progesterone. Teenagers who start taking the pill don’t just take it temporarily; they may continue to take them until they are ready to become pregnant, which may not happen for years.
Although the risks of endometrial and ovarian cancer appear to be reduced with the use of oral contraceptives, users face an increased risk of liver, cervical, and breast cancer if it is taken long term, and yeast overgrowth can lead to several complications, according to a study by Women’s Health Connection. The pill increases the risk of gall bladder disease, heart attack, and strokes. The risk cervical cancer rises steadily the longer a woman takes the pill, especially for more than five years. Women who start taking birth control pills in high school have a higher risk of breast cancer than those who start when they are older.
The chances of getting a deadly blood clot are doubled when taking new types of the pill, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal. The higher the dose of estrogen, the higher the risk of blood clots. Companies and doctors promote the pill as a safe and efficient medication to prevent pregnancy, but users risk possible long term complications.

Sexually active girls use the pill because it’s so convenient and easy. But the birth control pill has only a 91 percent success rate, while other alternatives offer up to 99 percent. Other options that are safe and highly effective include male and female condoms, diaphragms, and spermicides. All are proven to work and not cause long-term health risks. The birth control pill also doesn’t prevent STD’s, compared to condoms, which do. The APA (American Association of Pediatrics) recommends teens use certain methods, like condoms, to prevent STDs.

Before you decide to become sexually active in the first place, think about waiting to have sex. Accidental teen pregnancy has devastating consequences. Studies done by Smith College and YWCA of Western Massachusetts show that an unplanned teenage pregnancy is damaging, emotionally and physically. Two out of three pregnant teenagers drop out of school, and seven out of 10 girls don’t even get medical care, like going to a doctor or clinic, within the first three months of getting pregnant.

Teenagers, especially in high school, are going through hormonal changes and mood swings already because of the physical and mental development from being dependent to becoming a self-sufficient young adult. Young people don’t need more emotional and mental stress added to their lives by taking medications to order to have an active sex life.

~julia sexton, co-features director


Cultural appropriation is heritage theft

How would you feel if a part of your culture was stripped of its significance and sold as a fashion statement? When celebrities steal an aspect of an ethnic group’s culture, such as dreadlocks, bindis, and hijabs. they are guilty of cultural appropriation. A-listers, including the Kardashians, Katy Perry, and Selena Gomez, have been sporting their ignorance in fashion and music videos, using other culture’s traditions while ignoring the cultural significance behind them.

What’s the problem with white people wearing dreadlocks and cornrows? Some say that borrowing hairstyles isn’t cultural appropriation and that they’re fair game. However, the history of dreadlocks goes back to the Hindu and the Rastafarian cultures. Thanks to Bob Marley many associate it with smoking weed and listening to reggae music—basically teenage rebellion. In the Rastafarian culture dreadlocks were worn by priests who devote themselves to their deity and by those who take a vow of purity and follow spiritual laws. According to “White People, Dreadlocks and Cultural Appropriation” on www.theliberatedmind.com, nobody can appreciate the spiritual and historical meaning of dreadlocks when they’re used simply as a way to be defiant.

The first case of a mainstream actress wearing traditionally black hairstyles was Bo Derek in the movie 10. Before this, cornrows were seen on characters living in the ghetto, but once Derek appropriated them, they were suddenly all the rage; the Kardashian/Jenner clan follow along.

Bindis are used in different cultures to represent the sixth charka, showing that a woman is married; in Southern India, a black bindi is worn by a young, unmarried woman to ward off bad luck. The bindi is worn between the eyebrows, an important nerve center, to keep the nerves cool and conserve the person’s energy.

But when Selena Gomez wore the bindi in performances of “Come and Get It,” she received a backlash from the Hindu groups objecting to her sensual and commercial exploitation of the symbol. Her response? She posted a picture of her in a bindi on Instagram with the caption “Sari, not sari.” As if people didn’t have enough reason to be irritated by her…

Headdresses have been a part of the Native American culture for centuries; those who wear them, usually chiefs and warriors, are highly respected in their community. Every feather in the headdress represents a courageous act, followed by fasting. The right to wear a headdress is one of the highest honors that a man achieves. Women, however, did not participate in this tradition, much less want-to-be hipsters trying to look cute at Coachella.

Some might think that culture appropriation isn’t a big deal, and that culture is meant to be shared. However there’s a difference between appreciating a culture and wanting to learn more about it, and taking it as your own and disrespecting it. When a cultural emblem is adapted by a celebrity who wants to start the next trend, it shows disrespect to the cultural meaning and religious significance of the tradition. A celebrity can take his or her “costume” off at the end of the day and not have to face the hardship and discrimination people who are part of the tradition have suffered. They can go back on their merry way, cashing in on a “trend” while looking for the next one.

There’s nothing wrong with being interested in another group’s culture and wanting to learn more, but don’t try to pull it off as your own.

~erica gudino, viewpoint director

Black Friday creates culture of greed

It’s terribly ironic that Black Friday, a day characterized by unconstrained greed where people will actually kill for a good deal, immediately follows Thanksgiving (you know, a day in which you give thanks for what you have).

This new-age tradition began in the early 2000s, and the name refers to retailers turning a profit, or being “in the black.” Heralding the beginning of the holiday shopping season, people forego a good night’s rest and the extolled Thanksgiving family time to camp outside of Target in order to grab that plasma screen TV before the onslaught of old ladies with shopping carts runs them over.

It’s too easy to mock those willing to sell their souls for a better price, but it truly belies a bigger problem—in this day and age, we always want more. While one can argue it’s merely the human condition, Black Friday propagates and encapsulates greed, both corporate and consumer. We trash perfectly good iPhones as soon as the new one comes out. Christmas advertisements are aired in autumn to instill the need to spend in buyers—and quite honestly, it’s exhausting. It seems as if the corporate impulse to amass money is unassailable and never-ending, even when the burden falls on its workers. Some companies are moving back the start of Black Friday back to Thanksgiving (in spite of the fact that it isn’t even Friday), forcing employees to come in on a day that they should rightfully have off, in order to be open during the midnight rush.

Black Friday makes a mockery of everything Thanksgiving (and by extension, the holiday season) is supposed to stand for. Yeah, buying a Playstation for a family member—and at a decent price, no less!—is all good and fine. But there’s something unwholesome about sacrificing time with those you care about for material possessions.

And yet there’s hope. Outdoor gear retailer REI has announced that, not only will it be closed on Black Friday, but also that it will be a paid vacation day for all employees. The decision is part of their #OptOutside campaign promoting the idea that customers should spend time outside instead of in a line.

Still desperate for that deal? Hey, there’s always Cyber Monday. Just don’t play the fool who sits in a lawn chair waiting for Best Buy to open its doors in the middle of the night.

~lana heltzel, online editor

Mental illness is no laughing matter

The suicide of beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams caused an outpouring of grief and shock. The immediate reaction to William’s decision to take his own life was to ask the question, why? Robin Williams generated positive energy; he spent his life spreading joy to others. He embodied a warmth and spirit that few people possess. He was talented and successful. He had a family and financial security. So, why?

Robin Williams had been public for years about his struggle with substance abuse and bipolar disorder, a disease that affects approximately 5.7 million Americans and causes a series of severe mood changes and often depression.

Reactions to William’s death highlight the misconceptions and stigmas associated with depression, suicide, and mental health. People are afraid to talk about mental illness, yet it affects many Americans. According to the Huffington Post there were approximately 40,000 suicides in the United States in 2011, making it the 10th leading cause of death, above car accidents. Approximately 1 million people attempt suicide each year. Mental illness is a brain disease, as real as cancer, or any other deadly disease. According to government statistics from 2010, 60 percent of Americans with mental illness did not seek treatment because they couldn’t pay for it, they thought they would be fine, or they didn’t want others to find out about it.

Despite the misconceptions that still exist, there has been progression in the understanding of mental illness. Those with mental illness are no longer treated like freaks, blamed for their condition, or hidden away in institutions. There is a greater understanding of the tie between mental illness and addiction.
We will never know what was going on in the mind of Robin Williams, and we will never know exactly what made him act on the decision to end his life. If anything good will come from his death, it is the increase in mental health awareness. With the news of his death, social networking flooded with tributes and calls for greater awareness of mental illness. Typically 90,000 people a day visit the Facebook page of The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); the day after William’s death, the website had 1.1 million visitors. Direct messages, blogs, and tumblers exploded with people searching for and offering help for mental illness.

What is important is keeping this awareness alive. His suicide affected people around the world. Robin Williams spent his life spreading joy when he had none. If such a beautiful, joyous and selfless man could be so strongly affected by this illness, how many others also suffer in silence?

~SaraRose Martin, co-editor-in-chief

EDITORIAL: New school year has fair share of hits, some misses

BYOD: Allowing for cell phones during school hours and encouraging educational use of devices is key to effective 21st century learning.
Taco Bell construction begins: After months of delays, the chain broke ground on their new structure in late August.
Natural light in classrooms: The wide windows and skylights provide for a more earth-friendly and open learning environment.
Football’s new jerseys: The varsity squad’s new game-day apparel makes the team look as fresh as they play.
A+ Days: An extra 40 minutes in the middle of the week is a lifesaver for busy students.
Connecting the 500 and 700 hallway: Student athletes and science students appreciate the new gateway between the wings.

No middle railing: The new building’s traffic flow would be more easily controlled, and students would not be as vulnerable to injury.
Covered walkway eliminated from construction plans: A covered walkway from the annex to the main building would be useful on rainy and snowy days.
Straight parking spaces: Teenagers are inexperienced drivers, and eliminating the slanted spaces results in crooked parking.
No paper towels in the bathroom: While the hand dryers are eco-friendly, they also require more time. With only six minutes to get to class, we’d prefer paper towels. They also come in handy for spills.

PRO/CON: Should college athletes be paid?

College athletes deserve portion of profits they bring in

Most professional athletes make more money than the President; however, college athletes do not receive any (legal) forms of cold hard cash. The life of college athletes is completely unfair. They are scrutinized by the media and make news headlines. However, they will not receive any form of compensation for their play unless they make it into a professional sport.

For most college athletes, the sport consumes their time. In 2008, USA TODAY surveyed college athletes and found that two-thirds considered themselves athletes, not students. Division I football players claimed that they spend over 40 hours a week practicing or playing their sport, and less than 40 hours on academics. With such time commitments, sports and school, it is unreasonable to expect an athlete to have a job.

Playing a college sport doesn’t make money for the athletes, but it does make the colleges money. Every week these athletes show their stuff on national TV and the NCAA rakes in the dough. The NCAA reported that their projected revenue for 2012-2013 was $792 million. In 2008, Virginia Tech made $64 million off of college football alone. So since the NCAA makes that much money, why can’t they pay the people generating said revenue?

Many college athletes put their health at risk on a daily basis. Common injuries include concussions, torn muscles, and broken bones. Concussions leading to brain damage, not to mention painful migraines, are a major issue in many sports. The typical athlete in a contact sport has a 19 percent chance of getting a concussion each season according, to the University of Pittsburgh. The NFL reached a $765 million settlement this year with retired football players who sustained head injuries during their careers.

Concussions don’t just begin in the pros, and the side effects can linger well after an athlete’s college/pro career ends. It costs serious money to pay for the medical treatment of head-related injuries, money that many athletes will not make if they don’t make it to the professional level.

Many college athletes are glamorized by major media sources. They have become icons not only to high school and other amateur athletes, but also to the fans that watch them play. Their images are marketed and sold in the form of merchandise, like professional athletes. Major controversies have arisen over college athletes illegally profiting off merchandise. In 2011, five Ohio State players, were suspended for five games after they had sold some of their college merchandise to pay for such things as tattoos. None of this would have been a problem if these young and high-profile athletes were making a salary for their playing time.

As the main part of a multi-million dollar enterprise, college athletes need to get paid. Simply put, college athletes are exposed to too many risks to not share in the profits other organizations make from them. It is not fair, and it needs to change.

~Josh Henry, copy production editor

Paying players would end college sports, except most lucrative programs

The NCAA develops the rules, establishes postseason formats, and regulate just about every aspect of college sports. One of the most controversial regulations prevents college athletes from being paid. Many argue that the NCAA is swindling the athletes, using them to make millions of dollars while the athletes don’t get a penny of the profits. Last year alone, the NCAA made $871.6 million in revenue.

However, the people forget that the athletes are getting a free college education, something that only 0.3 percent of students at four-year institutions get, and they receive other advantages, such as expert coaching that could lead to a career in their respective sports. The athletes also get free access to some of the most high-tech training facilities in the world, including weight rooms and swimming pools that others have to pay expensive memberships fees to access.

Another common misconception is that the universities and colleges make bank off of college sports, specifically football. That is only true for a handful of schools, such as Notre Dame and University of Texas. Most schools can only pay what it takes to run the programs, and in some cases the schools lose money. In fact, a report by Dan Fulks of Transylvania University found that 106 of the 120 FBS (Division 1-A) either made no money or lost money in 2009.

Additionally, the 97 schools that do not have a football program in Division 1-A reported an estimated average loss of $3 million. Paying the athletes would put the schools even farther into the red, possibly even forcing schools to cut some sports. It is unfair to expect colleges to give these athletes a free education and then pay them money to play for them. The NCAA could not afford to pay the nearly 450,000 student athletes; they had to pay $800 million in expenses.

The entire culture of college football would be changed if the athletes were paid. College football is completely different from NFL football, and that’s a good thing. There is something special about the atmosphere of a college football game. The athletes still take pride in playing for their school. You don’t see the star player of the team that wins the national championship transfer schools after the season, but players leave a Super Bowl winning NFL team all the time, usually for a bigger paycheck. If you pay the players, then why even have the colleges sponsor the sports? Why not start a semipro league instead? If college athletes were to be paid, it would take away that sense of school pride. The college game would become nothing but a business, just like the NFL.

~Brady Burr, staff reporter


More ‘Faults’ than ‘Stars’

John Green’s 2012 novel, The Fault in our Stars, has been described by critics as edgy, genius, and luminous. Teenagers who were touched to tears by Green’s storytelling – and he does use lovely storytelling – hold the book on a pedestal. But that’s really all this book is: a shallow collection of pretty words.

The Fault in our Stars spins the tale of Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16-year-old cancer patient who, after attending a support group meeting, meets Augustus Waters. Shenanigans ensue. The characters are really where the first problem falls – they’re just so terribly dislikable. Within the first few pages, Hazel proves to be an insufferable narrator. They just don’t sound like teenagers – they sound like John Green. Expect copious amounts of witty remarks, rants of malcontent, and non-sequitur metaphors in every chapter. For example, Augustus buys cigarettes but refuses to light them to show that the companies don’t control him.

Another point of annoyance is that this book is so emotionally manipulative. The reader feels like Green is hovering over one’s shoulder, whispering, “Hey, that part? Yeah, it’s sad, right?” Green says that you should cry. He says that Hazel and Augustus are in love. It’s hard to see this as anything but a thinly-veiled attempt at a tearjerker novel.

Previous readers of John Green have surely noticed a formula in his stories: awkward teenager meets manic pixie dream girl (or in this case, boy) who impresses with disaffected, smarter-than-thou speeches and who promises adventure. Compare The Fault in our Stars with his other novels, Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns. Green could have switched around the names of all his characters and it wouldn’t make a difference.

If one thing could be said in John Green’s favor, it’s that he’s consistent – consistently pretentious, consistently resurrecting the same boring characters, consistently trying to convince his young adult readers that he’s an intellectual. His books are geared towards teenagers because he realizes that anybody who can discern quality literature would call him out for being a pompous imbecile. The Fault in our Stars only proves to be overhyped.

~Lana Heltzel, staff reporter