Taking Care of Yourself is A Revolutionary Act

MorganAnn Malone

Staff Writer

 

This past year has been a whirlwind of emotion, reflection and revelation for many, myself included. For months now, the younger generations especially have been in the midst of a reckoning. We are no longer blind to the ways of the world, and we are finally realizing the ways in which we can play a role in crafting our future. Many have been calling it a “revolution.” There has been a fire lit under the collective, and now more than ever before, we are fighting and protesting for our right to live freely in this country and celebrate ourselves unapologetically. The work is gratifying, rewarding and fulfilling.

But it is also very exhausting.

Generation Z is reported to have some of the highest rates of depression and anxiety, more than the generations who came before them. According to a study done by the American Psychological Association in October 2018, Gen Z is the least likely to report good or stable mental health and is the most likely to struggle with stress and mental-health related issues. Additionally, suicide rates between 2000 and 2017 doubled for young people as a whole (VOA News). To put it quite frankly, we are going through it right now.

Our generation is arguably the most technologically advanced. Popular social media apps such as Instagram, Twitter and TikTok dominate most of our time, and they (along with news platforms) are constantly at our fingertips. A lot of good has come as a result of the presence of these apps – for example, these platforms provide a medium to share creativity, jumpstart instant entrepreneurship and build community among people who share common interests. Yet, many of us fill our time with an obscene, unhealthy amount of doomscrolling. According to Merriam-Webster, “doomscrolling” refers to “the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening or depressing” (Merriam-Webster). As touched upon in the lauded Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma,” this is having a detrimental effect on the overall mental health and well-being of Gen Z-ers.

In particular, the main content that is having such a detrimental effect on American teens and young adults has to do with the influx of negativity surrounding the United States government and its actions. This current presidential election cycle has proven to be very taxing and anxiety-inducing for young people. Many of us feel as though we are being forced to bear the brunt of the mistakes and transgressions of the generation before us, and many of us have heard various statements and pleas that call for the younger generation to “save” everyone and change the way that things are going. It is a huge cross to bear, and the fact that these sentiments not only come from voices on social media but also from within our families and close inner circles adds a lot of pressure as well. Many of us feel as though we reside between a rock and a hard place: we want to stay informed and we want to change the way things are going, but we also want to preserve our mental health, protect our peace and not burn out completely.

To get a direct, authentic response, I interviewed multiple college students at both Wooster and beyond to gauge how they felt about this topic.

One student from a nearby Ohio university, 18, said, “I think it’s very important to remain aware of what is going on with politics, especially now during a presidential election year. That being said, we also need to take the time to care for our mental health, whether that be taking a break from watching the news or even going on a social media cleanse.”

Another student I interviewed from a Pennsylvania liberal-arts school, 19, stated, “At first, I thought quarantine would be the perfect time to figure out what I wanted to major in and to do other things like color, learn French, exercise, etc. I was keeping up with all of those for a while and then was hit with a wave of no motivation. Even though I want to do at least one productive activity per day, it’s really hard, and I often find myself only scrolling through TikTok for HOURS. And especially when the Black Lives Matter movement was at its peak, a lot of people showed their true colors, and I felt really alone. Later on, at the end of the summer, it hit me that it’ll be hard to decide on a major even with all this time on my hands because life is at a standstill, and the last of my teen years will be spent in lockdown.”

Finally, three students that I spoke with from Wooster, ranging between 19 and 20 years old, said the following:

“I am constantly caught between feeling guilt when I don’t constantly pay attention to the news and feeling overwhelmed and anxious when I look into current events.”

“I’m feeling really anxious about the election. I know it sounds dramatic, but I’m legitimately scared to leave my house this week as someone POC and LGBTQ+. Long term, I’m just scared in general about possible changes that involve my rights.”

“There is an overbearing sense of fear, anxiety, sadness and uncertainty every day. A pressure to do my best, be on task, be a good friend and family member — I feel worn out, scared, hurt. It’s hard to feel more than numb.”

We are in the midst of multiple crises. An awakening about the ways that all minority groups have been treated in this country, an international, deadly pandemic that is showing no signs of slowing, a growing concern for the health of our planet and the dangers of climate change and a growing divide between different socioeconomic brackets that makes it difficult for certain groups to have access to basic human rights and amenities, to name a few. This has taken a toll on everyone, especially those of us who have unofficially been tasked to fix it. To deal with these monumental, systemic issues on top of the personal changes and developments that automatically come from growing up is a huge burden to carry. 

Many of us want to make it all work all at once, but this is simply not possible. We have been groomed to work solely to benefit a hegemonic, capitalist system with blatant disregard for our physical and emotional health, mental stability, and overall well-being. I know many people — myself included — who still have that fire under us despite everything, who still wake up each morning wanting to fight for everything and everyone. However, what we must remember is that sometimes, the most radical, revolutionary act is to wake up and fight for yourself.

Sources: 

  1.  https://www.voanews.com/student-union/gen-z-studies-show-higher-rates-depression
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/doomsurfing-doomscrolling-words-were-watching 
  3. https://www.thesocialdilemma.com/ 

Trump will soon be gone, don’t thank the Electoral College

Joey Harris

Contributing Writer

 

If you’re like me, sleep during the week of election was scarce. My eyes were glued to my computer as my constant stream of CNN would promise me new vote counts that were only “minutes away” which would always seem to come after about an hour. A lot of metaphors were used for this election as well, many referred to it as “on a knife edge,” “a nail biter,” or “a victory for democracy.” A victory for democracy it definitely was. With President Donald Trump set to lose the Electoral College vote, one of the most present threats towards our nation’s democratic institutions will be out of governmental power in a short time. Trump, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. If Americans wish to maintain and expand what we have as a democracy, there should be some rethinking of the current way we choose who serves in the highest office. 

As of writing this, President-elect Joe Biden has won the popular vote over Trump by over five million votes and most of those yet to be counted are from blue states. That alone should be enough for a mandate in favor of democracy. But this is not the case in America where a vote of 270 by electors is necessary to win the presidency. Due to this oddity in our electoral process, two out of the last five presidential elections have gone to the candidates that did not win the popular vote. Our current electoral system favors the Republican party as their voters are more spread out across the country in rural areas, improving their odds of winning the presidential election in more states. Those who have recently voted for the Democratic party represent a larger share of the U.S. population but are increasingly more concentrated in urban areas within specific states. This creates an unnecessary hurdle for them to cross to hold the executive office despite having won the popular vote in four out of the last five elections. 

One may ask, why don’t Democratic candidates work to improve their appeal in the states they are losing? The issue with this is that these voters would still have a disproportionate effect on U.S. policy despite being a political minority no matter which party they were attracted to. It is not about which party wins elections, it is about allowing for whoever gets the most votes to take office. For instance, despite evidence of it causing short and long term environmental damage through methane emissions, both major candidates this past election were in support of fracking. According to Pew Research, the majority of Americans think the government should be doing more to fight climate change. The obvious decision for anyone running to attract the majority of Americans to their campaign would at the very least signal discomfort with fracking. But because there were twenty Electoral College votes at stake in Pennsylvania where fracking is an important industry, neither candidate was willing to oppose this harmful practice. Obviously this is not the only reason it has been so hard for our country and others to transition away from dirty energy, but it definitely hurts the cause.

This system prioritizes states interests over our national polity. The states that most benefit most from this are also disproportionately white. I haven’t seen a more succinct analysis of this injustice than a tweet from former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich which reads, “Wyoming is 92% white. California is 37% white. A Wyoming voter has nearly 4x more influence than a California voter.” This is just one example, but Wyoming has a population a little under 600,000 while California has a population a little under 40,000,000. Voters should have equal influence over elections. Any country worth respecting would fix this imbalance. 

Now, a Republican may read my argument and think, this is just an argument to marginalize Republican and conservative power. It is not; it is an argument to decrease the influence of a political minority that is holding back the wishes of the majority of voters. The Republican party is still very popular. While they would have to change some messaging to appeal to a few more million voters, winning the national popular vote is not something that is out of reach. 

I am also not saying the rights, desires, and beliefs of political minorities should be ignored. They are just as much citizens as those in the majority and institutions should be in place for their voices to impact and challenge legislation. This is why institutional checks and balances such as the courts, constitution, and the house and senate are also important for democracy to succeed. But political minorities should not be able to have this much power in any nation that wishes to call itself a democracy. Allowing a party that attracts a minority of voters to continue to have this much influence spits in the face of democratic governance. 

The responsibility is now on the Biden-Harris administration along with those committed to liberal democracy in both major parties of the U.S. to move the country away from the Electoral College. This would not be an easy task as to get rid of it would require a constitutional amendment. It should still be a priority of those who care about democracy anyway. Every citizen is given the promise that for local and state elections the winner will be the candidate with the most votes, why should that same standard not be applied nationally?

Ctrl (2017) by Sza delivers a musical confession

Lily Kate Harpham

Contributing Writer

 

Solána Imani Rowe, known as Sza, released her first studio album on June 9, 2017. Ctrl, released through the label Top Dawg Entertainment (home to artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q) earned critical acclaim and debuted at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200. Ranked as the best album of 2017 by Time Magazine, Ctrl was also nominated for four Grammy Awards, which led to Sza earning a nomination for Best New Artist.

With 14 tracks, Ctrl features multiple chart-topping artists including Travis Scott and labelmate Kendrick Lamar. What is notable throughout the entire album is the echoing vocals on every song that give the album an ethereal feeling. Many of Sza’s songs feel confessional, almost like the ranting diary entries of a woman coming into her own.

Opening with the song “Supermodel,” Sza sings about her insecurities and a former boyfriend who left her on Valentine’s Day. The chorus features the line “Leave me lonely for prettier women … you know you wrong for shit like that /I could be your supermodel if you believe … why I can’t stay alone just by myself?” This is a common theme throughout the album: Sza singing about her insecurities and failed relationships. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Sza said that this song is how she revealed to her ex-boyfriend that she slept with his best friend after he dumped her.

The second track on the album is “Love Galore” featuring Travis Scott. Certified 4x Platinum in the United States, “Love Galore” is perhaps the most recognizable Sza song, after “The Weekend.” “Love Galore” is about relationship regrets and yearning for past lovers. “Personally, I’m surprised you called me after the things I said … Acting like we wasn’t more than a summer fling / I said farewell, you took it well (true) / Promise I won’t cry over spilled milk.” Sza and Travis Scott sing to each other about the loss of a relationship, no matter how fleeting the relationship was, because it was good. In an interview with Genius about “Love Galore,” Sza said she was a Scorpio with a mean streak, and this song is incredibly reflective of that and her anger towards former partners.

Described by Rolling Stone as a “side-chick manifesto,” “The Weekend” is a song of not two, but three women all being juggled by the same man, and one woman decides that she simply doesn’t care. “You say you got a girl / Yeah, how you want me? / How you want me when you got a girl?” “The Weekend” is an anthem intended to empower women to “opt out” of the idea that men must be the center of a woman’s life.

Following the much-anticipated release of “Hit Different” featuring The Neptunes, Pharrell Williams and Ty Dolla $ign, I revisited Ctrl and was immediately thrown back to 2017 a much simpler time. That is just the beauty of Sza’s music: no matter when you are listening to it, it resonates with some aspect of your own life experience.

 https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3nVQ3lTU0ecaGGyCEAY2Jf?si=uS9-7_5SSFC4GDnzRZTidg

Decrease in COVID-19 cases does not ease uncertainty

Bijeta Lamichhane 

News Editor

Sam Boudreau

Senior News Writer

 

The number of COVID-19 cases on campus continues to increase despite the College’s efforts and investments to ensure the community’s safety. As the case count  continues to rise past 100, all classes have switched to remote and students have begun leaving campus to finish their semester online. Hence,  to assess the severity of the situation, the College recently partnered with the staff of the National Guard to test every student on campus for COVID-19.

However, it seems as though the worst wave of COVID-19 on campus has now begun to settle. Although cases are still on the rise, the rate of increase is significantly lower than it was in the week of Oct. 12 when the College recorded 75 positive cases, the highest number of positive cases recorded in a week on campus. This week, 14 out of the 515 tests administered have come back positive as of Tuesday, Oct. 27. Furthermore, the census testing that was conducted on Oct. 24 also showed fewer  cases, where only 3 of 720 results have come back positive.

This decrease comes after the campus shut down venues where students could gather and enforced strict policies against social events. Some of the measures include canceling seating services in Lowry for meals and revoking housing services for students involved in policy violations.

Although the situation on campus now looks better than it did two weeks ago, several questions and concerns still remain regarding how the College will function next semester. One of the biggest concerns about opening the campus next semester remains ensuring in-person social gatherings do not take place again.

While addressing the College when the highest number of cases had been recorded on campus, President Sarah Bolton had stated in her email that “most of the cases are connected to the social-event clusters.” Later, Wayne County health commissioner Nick Cascarelli also echoed Bolton’s statement, saying, “Kids are being more active, mixing up more, and this is why we’re seeing an increase.”

Since most students live on campus, questions have risen about whether the College will be able to ensure that students take more proactive steps in ensuring everybody’s safety. After all, the College had invested in various resources to ensure a safe living environment for the entire campus community, and yet the cases rose because of social gatherings.

In-person activities being canceled on campus seems to be more of a problem raised out of students’ lack of responsibility instead of the College’s mobilization of resources. However, the question of how the administration will enforce measures to ensure that students take responsibility to create a safe campus still remains. The administration is set to announce tentative updates for the spring semester on Nov. 10 to provide the campus community with a better sense of understanding about the upcoming semester.

Wooster’s Fall Dance Concert moves offstage

Holly Engel

Arts and Entertainment Editor

 

Dance is a collaborative art relying on motion and touch; this physicality is enhanced by lighting and sound when performed on stage. Now that most dancers in the Wooster Dance Company can no longer rehearse in groups due to stricter COVID-19 regulations, creativity is essential to maintaining that collaboration. This semester, it is such creativity that allows dancers to continue practicing and preparing to perform.

Emily Baird, visiting assistant professor of theatre and dance and director of the upcoming Fall Dance Concert, says that the Department of Theatre & Dance has changed its operations significantly to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. “[Before classes went remote] my Modern Dance class was in-person only, which was … so I could ensure students were practicing proper technique and not causing injury,” she said. “I now livestream all three classes over Zoom, which is particularly challenging for the type of work we do in this discipline.”

Despite the difficulties that come with remote dance classes, Baird is impressed with how the classes have turned out. “I feel that the students in all my classes have been able to grasp the material and grow as movers even though they’re not able to do any physical touching,” she commented. “It really becomes an opportunity to be more creative … this semester just doesn’t look exactly like any that we’ve experienced, and that’s okay.”

The dance company is still planning on holding a Fall Dance Concert this year, though those interested in attending should expect a performance different from past years in its medium but not in its quality. As Baird puts it, the event is more of a “dance film festival” than a concert. Instead of a live performance, individual dances will be combined in a video compilation, with some pieces filmed outside and others edited together by more technologically savvy choreographers. There is no set release date yet for the video, but the department hopes to make the video accessible for a couple of weeks after it is released.   

Rehearsals for the dance concert are running similarly to the dance classes, with small groups of no more than three or four students practicing outside in person and many other students interacting over video calls. Sarah Renaker ’21 has been a part of the dance company since her first year at Wooster and will be performing in this concert. Though she mentioned the difficulties of working remotely with choreographers, some of which are in different time zones or countries, she expressed her excitement at participating in an unconventional performance. “We’re getting a different side of dance than we normally do,” she explained. “We can’t put on a regular performance [in the theatre], but I like that we’ve been able to continue dancing in a way that’s more modern and technologically interactive and not just onstage.” 

Baird, like Renaker, is excited for the virtual performance and stresses the lasting importance of the performing arts, especially during a pandemic. “I would encourage everyone in the Wooster community to watch the productions this semester, not only because everyone is working incredibly hard on them but also because they will be genuinely good,” she said. “Even in the midst of a global pandemic, we are finding ways to dance, create and share our art.”

International Education Week Adjusts to Remote Format

Ellen McAllister

Contributing Writer

 

International Education Week (IEW) has always been a big part of the fall semester on campus, but this year it looked a little different. While the week-long celebration had a new virtual look, there were still many ways students and faculty could interact and learn more about the different cultures that make up the campus community. The week kicked off last Saturday with an event from the Center of Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), Collage Your Culture. In this event, students used Canva to create a digital collage representing their culture that doubled as a   print-out and could be hung up in students’ dorm rooms. 

On Sunday, the cultural learning continued with an event hosted by Dr. Ziying You and Nanzan University called “Intangible Cultural Heritage in Asia: Traditions in Transitions.” During this virtual symposium, viewers had the opportunity to learn about cultural case studies that were conducted in Asia. There was also discussion  of folklore, ethnomusicology and anthropology from these places. The main focus of this event was the cultural heritage that is not apparent to most people.

Next up was an event about cultural intelligence, which took place on Monday afternoon with Candace Chenoweth, the Director of the Global Engagement Office. This was an interactive workshop that encouraged participants to look at and build their own cultural intelligence by studying the things around them, including emojis. One of the participants, Kayla Bertholf ’22, said that she attended this event because she felt the need to learn how to communicate and interact with other cultures. Bertholf said, “Something that really surprised me was the relevance of different cultures in something as small as emojis. As they mentioned in the seminar, we use emojis daily without really thinking about the different cultures that may have designed them or how they might mean different things to different cultures.” Kayla continued her cultural education by attending the Culture Crossing Speed Meet on Thursday, so she could meet other students that live all around the world.

Two other ways that members of the College could participate in IEW were via a culture map created by the International Student Association (ISA) to show where students come from and a playlist created by Dr. Amyaz Moledina. The playlist, TransGlobal Collective, showcases music from across the world. If you are interested, a second playlist will be released later this week. Other events and virtual discussions throughout the week include topics such as immigration, the movie Mulan and interacting with other students to learn about their cultures.

I have not attended IEW before since this is my first year on campus, but I have heard great things about it. I know that the College tries to help inform students about global cultures, and I think that this is a great way to do so because it makes the education interactive and enjoyable. Even though the events had a new format this year, there were still many events that students could participate in from wherever they were studying this semester. It was a good way to bring the campus community together and to have fun while learning about different cultures. I look forward to seeing how this week grows and changes in future years. I was excited to see the Culture Show, which is usually in conjunction with IEW because it is a fantastic way for students to show how their culture differs from others. However, the show was postponed and will hopefully be put on in the spring semester. The virtual learning format still allows College of Wooster students and staff to appreciate other cultures.

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