All posts by Chloe Burdette

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Celebrating Latinx Night at the Underground

Allison Ringold

Staff Writer

 

Just like any other personal label, the words “Hispanic” and “Latinx” have a lot of meaning behind them. National Hispanic Heritage Month, which takes place from  Sept. 15 to  Oct. 15, seeks to celebrate these labels and everything they represent. According to the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS) event coordinator, Aileen Garcia ’23, “To me, this month is all about embracing & celebrating our culture as well as sharing it with others so they understand more about where we come from and what it means to us.”

Latinx Night sought to do just that. The event, hosted by The Underground (UG) and planned by Fernanda Banuelos ’24 of OLAS in collaboration with members of Latinas Unidas (LU), was a lively success. “We had a lot of people there and it was overall just an amazing time,” said Garcia. “Everyone was dancing and having fun, despite it being on a Wednesday. Our main goal is to share our culture with others on campus and I feel as though this was a great way to do it!”

“My favorite part was all the dancing!” said Garcia. “One thing about me is that I am a terrible dancer but that night was as if that didn’t matter, it was just such an overwhelmingly happy feeling seeing everyone come together and put everything aside and just enjoy themselves.” 

“The event wasn’t a packed event where we were at max capacity, but it was an event where the people who did come to hang out stayed all night and had an amazing time dancing and enjoying the music,” remembered Giuliana Morales ’23, Latinas Unidas’ Vice President of Communication. “I think my favorite part of the event was watching the rush of people coming and automatically dancing to the music. I kept hearing people calling their friends to come because it was getting very lively.”

Looking towards the future, Morales hopes that Latinx culture will continue to be celebrated. “It is important to have events like this in Wooster because it creates a place of inclusivity within the Wooster community that is specifically targeted for Latinx people, and to have non-Latinx people understand our culture and appreciate an aspect of it through music,” explained Morales. “It is also important because it allows Latinx people to have freedom of expression and pride for their culture and its music.”

Similarly, Garcia hopes that this event will be held again next year. “I think it’s important to have events like these because it really helps in bringing the Latinx community together. It also allows us to share our beautiful culture with others which is really important to us,” she said. “We would love to see this become a tradition or at least a recurring event; it really helped kick things off and set the tone for events we have coming up and honestly, it was just really nice seeing people come together to dance and enjoy some good music.”

Navigating Wooster: A Runner’s Perspective

Geoffrey Allen

Viewpoints Co-Editor

 

The time is 7:30 am. You waited for this moment. Yesterday your friends were wondering why you couldn’t make it to the Friday party, but you told them because tomorrow is Saturday. You know every Saturday you have to go on a long run. You must venture where not many of your classmates have ventured before: the city of Wooster.

As a runner,  there are days that I am alone, allowing me to have time to reflect. But in Wooster, the experience is different from where I live. Unlike my perfect and privileged hometown, Wooster is a city that tells a story of beauty, ugliness, and many things in between. It’s easy to poke fun at the town life beyond our campus by using stereotypes such as “hillbillies” and “trumpies,” yet when I transport myself with my legs I see a more complicated story. Yet, most students at the College who have been here for at least a year in-person know of this, and so can anyone who simply Googles Wooster. Truthfully, I don’t think this newer part of town represents all of Wooster. 

I always find environmental clues to the other side of Wooster through the long runs on those early Saturdays. I find that Wooster, like many cities at one time, was a bustling industrial site for factory work. There, I traverse with my trainer shoes in what could appear to be a ghost town with abandoned tracks and run down buildings. I would consider such a trip an expedition through an abandoned site if it weren’t for the fact that it’s not entirely desolate. Still, new businesses have sprung in the area including the Wooster Brush company and Fritos not far behind the relics of the old. It just makes me wonder, will these buildings remain in use before they join the capitalist relics of old?

One route that also tells me more about the town of Wooster than my time studying is interestingly, not exactly in Wooster. In what is dubbed, the “Flatlands” is exactly what an non-Ohioan, such as myself, would come to expect the state to be —endless fields of grass and farms on the outskirts of the city. Venturing here offered me the sights of isolated farming homes, tall stalks of corn, the usual MAGA flags from the previous year’s election, and most interestingly – oil drilling and “fracking.” These terms are something alien to my East Coast perception of the midwest where the only place I heard of these terms is through cautious documentaries like “Gaslands”. On a long run, it’s just another piece of the landscape, despite the known environmental issues that it brings. Despite these odd observations, I still find beauty in the sun, and the endless fields of green out here which you don’t see in Wooster. It’s a quieter and more breathtaking space and experience.

So, how do adventures help give insight to the average student at the College of Wooster? I’d say first and foremost that we must turn our attention to the purpose of our college: being a liberal arts college. No, I don’t mean to wage a crusade against the conservative majority population. Instead, I ask to use our holistic skills and abilities and apply it to better understanding our city like we do our College. My two-and-a-half years here have shown me that I have more to learn about the place we live in beyond our protective shells of campus life. Sure, there are many obstacles to this such as placing safety first, the fear of catcalling, or even worse, but we can always try in our own ways. It’s what makes our ‘Woo.’

 

The Biological Reasoning Behind the New Contagious COVID Variant

Kayla Berthoff

S&E Editor

 

By now, everyone has heard of the COVID Delta variant and the issues associated with it, but most people don’t know what exactly makes this variant more serious. The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus is a cluster of single-stranded genetic information (RNA) inside of a membrane covered in spike proteins. These spike proteins are a chain of amino acids folded into a specific conformation that receptors on human body cells can recognize and bind to, with the tendency to increasingly bind when the protein is in an open conformation and specific amino acid residues are exposed. This binding action allows the COVID virus to be taken up into cells. Once the virus’ genetic information is taken up, whether through a vaccine or natural infection, the human cell will use its cellular machinery to copy the RNA and subsequently make more copies of the virus through replication. This also allows the immune system to respond and create antibodies that bind specifically to the spike proteins to prevent virus entry.

While the replication process in the cell is under tight control, mistakes happen, causing mutations that lead to variations in the final product. RNA viruses, such as COVID, are more likely to undergo mutation because they lack enzymes that typically have a “proofreading” ability, so changes in COVID’s genetic information are almost inevitable. Most mutations are harmless, having negative effects on the survivability of the virus, but some may make it more efficient. The Delta variant has a few changes to the amino acid sequence that affect the conformation and prevalence of the spike protein on the viral membrane surface, leading to more spike proteins that are a slightly different shape. Some of these mutations, specifically D614G and T478K, change the conformation of the spike protein so that it is always in the open conformation, making it easier for the COVID spike protein to bind to the receptors on human cells that take it in and simultaneously make it harder for antibodies to recognize and bind to the spike protein and prevent cellular uptake.

So, how worried should we be? The increased number of spike proteins on the Delta variant allows for a more rapid uptake of the virus in the cell and a shorter incubation time, meaning that individuals will become infected sooner and may be able to spread infections more rapidly, increasing the viral load. This is why the Delta variant appears to be more deadly despite not being any more lethal. However, the COVID vaccine is still effective in mounting antibodies against the Delta variant, and booster shots with more specificity to variants are more prevalent as the pandemic advances are in the works. In the meantime, masking and social distancing are still the most effective methods in preventing the spread of all COVID variants.

“The Expanse”: Why It’s Not “Game of Thrones”

Jonathan Logan

Editor-in-Chief

 

The joy of finding a hidden gem sci-fi show is exhilarating. “The Expanse” was a quiet show for its first two seasons when it aired on SyFy beginning in 2015, but it developed a really loud and loyal fanbase by the time it was halfway through the second season in 2017. This past winter saw the fifth season released on Amazon Prime Video where it, oddly enough, alienated some fans who believed the writers dwelled on petty belter squabbles or gave too much attention to a main character’s backstory when we thought we already had one.

At the same time season five was released, Amazon announced that season six was entering into production, but it would be the last season of the beloved show. Now, fans are frantically wondering whether or not this is a “Game of Thrones” (GoT) repeat, since the sixth season is reported to only be six episodes long. However, this seems unlikely since the authors of the books, which the show is based on, are also the writers and directors of the television series. “The Expanse” will not be “GoT” and the fans need to preview the final season with more optimism.

To set the scene, “The Expanse” is a mind-bendingly beautiful and sprawling story about humanity colonizing the solar system. Earth and Mars are constantly vying for control over precious resources located in the asteroid belt and outer solar system. However, the belters occupy this deep space beyond the inner planets and they are pissed, but rightfully so. Earth and Mars dehumanize the belters, viewing them as a disposable labor force that helps them to maintain the inner planets’ prosperity. By the end of season five, a maverick belter named Marco Inaros unites a small band of belter factions and launches a series of asteroids at Earth – some of which make landfall and kill millions.

The television series is based on the book series by the same name written by James S.A. Corey, which is a pen name for the real authors – Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. Abraham and Franck also write and direct the show. This is not the case with “GoT,” where the directors and writers had nothing to do with the book series titled “A Song of Ice and Fire.” Additionally, “GoT” ran out of book material, but “The Expanse” still has three books worth to work with.With the writers of those books at the helm of the show, fans have nothing to worry about.

The key remaining hope for season six is that Abraham and Franck will not try to cram the remaining three books into this final season. A best course of action would be to focus solely on the sixth book, since that is where season five left off and each season thus far has either broken a book into two parts or taken things one book at a time.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Dominique Tipper, who plays Naomi Nagata in the show, hinted at the possibility of more seasons beyond Amazon’s final sixth season. The sixth book also gives a natural point of closure for the story thus far, since there is a 30-year time jump between the sixth and the seventh book. This might provide some problems for the current cast, but it could also be a fresh start away from Amazon.

Regardless of how you look at it, season six of “The Expanse” will not tank like “Game of Thrones” did, because there are multiple fundamental differences between the books they are based on and the directors and writers of each. The show is in good hands, and fans run the risk of creating too much hype or too many expectations if they continue to preview the final season with a “GoT” lens.

Commercial Flights to Space Cause Concern with Multiple Communities

Melita Wiles

S&E Editor

 

Commercial flights are continuing through COVID-19 to vacation destinations, loved ones’ homes, and to space. This summer, Jeff Bezos travelled 66 miles into space with his hand-picked group of three others: his brother, Mark Bezos, 18-year-old student Oliver Daeman, and 82-year-old Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk. This flight contained both the oldest and youngest people to ever travel into space, Funk and Daeman, respectively. 

Ms. Wally Funk, who held the well-deserved fourth spot on the trip, was part of the group of women called the Mercury 13 in the 1960s. They underwent the same screening tests as male astronauts, but never got to fly under the U.S. National Space Program. 

No staff were required to be on the capsule when flying into space, so Bezos and the other three passengers were completely on their own in an automated capsule. The flight took all of 10 minutes and 10 seconds. There are two more flights planned before the year’s end, and tickets being auctioned off are approaching $100 million each. 

After the flight, the participants had nothing but positive comments about their adventure into the great unknown. Bezos said, “we’re going to build a road to space so our kids and their kids can build a future.” Critics question Bezos’s funding of space tourism, when he could be giving Amazon employees pay raises or donating more money to help fight climate change. This raises an ethical question: how much responsibility do the ultra-rich have when it comes to fighting current world issues like climate change, world hunger, or homelessness? Bezos claims that he does have an environmental plan for using outer space. His plan is to move all pollution from heavy industry into space to keep the Earth “the beautiful gem of a planet that it is.” He has visions of people living and working in free-floating colonies that can hold 1 trillion in space. Although there is no concrete plan to fix anything on Earth, like the already existing problems of pollution, climate change, and other long standing issues, this is how he imagines we should move forward. 

Elon Musk, owner of SpaceX, plans to send clients into space by the end of this month. This will cost tens of millions of dollars for a seat into orbit about 360 miles from Earth for at least three days.