Sexual Assault: You’re not safe even when you think you are by R.M.

You wake up in your dorm room, not remembering how you got back into bed. You look down at your appearance and notice your dress hiked up to your hips, and see your underwear in the middle of your dorm, ripped. You try and get out of bed and feel soreness below your abdomen as well as on your hips. You stand up and notice the blood on your sheets, but you look at them with a puzzled expression; you got your period over a week ago. You don’t know what is going on and walk towards your dresser where you see your own reflection. Your hair is disheveled, your makeup resembles a raccoon, yet you still appear normal.

You’re not.

Your roommate knocks on your door and ask if you remember anything; you only remember bits and pieces. She tells you that He carried you back to your room again because you were just so out of it last night. You know what happened but you’re being in denial about it. You muster up the rest of your dignity and barely whisper, “I was raped.” Your roommate stares at you for what seems to be an eternity. Her only response is, “Yeah, right..then why did you let him take you to your room then…again?”

But that’s the thing. You don’t know.

The only thing you do know, though, is that if your roommate doesn’t even believe you,

then who will?

*

Kacey Pomeroy* was just within her first months of her freshman year at the University of Denver when she was sexually assaulted. “He was a close friend who lived close to me,” she stated, “but it happened on many occasions. And it just kept worsening in severity.” When the assaults occurred, both parties were intoxicated. However, that didn’t factor in as much when Pomeroy reported the acts due to the fact that the assailant provided the alcohol. A drug-facilitated assault consists of the use of drugs and/or alcohol to perform the assault. When these substances come into play with the assault, it creates a blurry line due to the reliability of the victim’s claims. According to Pomeroy, in her situation, her friend described her rape as a “gray area” only because of the substances used by the assailant. “My friend told me that he [my attacker] was cross-faded so he didn’t know what he was doing.” To Pomeroy, she thought that “for some reason, it did not seem to matter that this was something that had happened on multiple occasions, or that I was incapacitated to the point that my attacker literally had to support me so that I was able to walk.” This created a blurry line to see who was more believable. Although Pomeroy’s case went through, the involvement of mainly alcohol made the process more difficult because the assailant did not tell his side. Pomeroy was repeatedly questioned if she was “drunk enough”.

Pomeroy’s own attorney in her civil rights protection case consistently told Pomeroy that she did not believe her. “Open door, open invitation… I can see where he was coming from… To be honest, I don’t think he raped you.” Pomeroy said that she tried not to say anything; and despite the fact that she had friends that believed her, the lack of faith her attorney had in Pomeroy in denial of what happened which made it more difficult for her to accept it as an assault.

Title IX is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. This includes sexual harassment or violence, as well as sexual assault, battery, and coercion in any educational program or activity that receives federal funding. Most schools, private institutions, and grades K-12 fall under Title IX. Reports can be made anonymously and have options explained, including receiving a no-contact order or going through the Title IX investigation process. At any time, survivors of the assaults can change their mind and decide to go through and investigation or have a no-contact order instated, etc.

According to Pomeroy, a no-contact order was produced which as Pomeroy described, relates to a restraining order but not as harsh. Those that are filed against it must stay a certain amount of feet away and is forbidden to contact the other party. It is, however, only effective on campus, and to her dismay, Pomeroy does not know what will happen when the order expires.

*

Guilt: a feeling of responsibility or repentance from a crime or a form of wrongdoing.

You would not like to spend your freshman year of college talking to law enforcement and hiding in your room instead of being a normal student. You will have no motivation for accusing someone that you had once called your friend and considered family. You know that people will said you are lying, and you know that rumors have already gone around, but you won’t feel like listening. Part of what is harmful about victim blaming is that survivors already feel guilty. You will feel beyond guilty, and you will probably cry more for your attacker than you will for yourself.

*

According to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) 1 out of every 6 American women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. As far as the male gender, a stigma surrounds the rape culture among males. There is this common misconception that males cannot be raped by females, but that’s wrong. RAINN’s statistics state that males ages 18-24 are five times more likely than those that are non-students of the same age to be a victim of rape or sexual assault. Just because a male has an erection does not mean he wants to have sex. This is also a common misconception with females: just because a female has an orgasm does not mean she wanted it. There are misrepresentations on rape where pronouns are generally centered around “she/her” for the victim, and “he/him” for the attacker. Yes, there are more assaults involving male-female violence, but we underestimate the number of males that are assaulted.

We have a culture of toxic masculinity which makes it hard for men to admit their vulnerabilities. Men are supposed to want sex and if they don’t, then they are seen as less of a man. Changing this culture gives a chance for men to feel more comfortable admitting that they were assaulted. Victims blame themselves for the assault most of the time. Kacey Pomeroy blames herself, and she knows her friends that are survivors blame themselves.

“I tried to write down what happened. I wrote journal entries. I wrote a letter to my lawyer, to the friends who abandoned me, to my attacker’s roommate. Not all of these were negative letters. Half of them were apologies, but it took me a while to realize that I should not apologize, so I didn’t send any of these.” – Kacey Pomeroy

For those that have never experienced sexual assault, speak out. Your silence won’t keep it from happening to you. Not only that, but teaching children personal boundaries, respect, and what consent is will empower children and respect their own decision of saying, “No.” Consent needs to be taught in terms of sharing toys and pulling hair early in life. Children need to know that yes means yes, and that their bodies belong to them.

Other resources that can help, also, are End Rape on Campus, Know Your IX, and any other victim resources in your area.

*

The emotional effects that sexual assault causes vary within each victim. A cycle of guilt, anger, and sadness may take place. Dissociation will occur, and Your isolation will be Your own depression’s new best friend. Anxiety attacks may occur after what happened, and after a while, Your body will succumb to the numbness.  

But remember:

You are not alone. You may not control what others say or think, but You can decide not to allow their words to affect You.

How Climate Change Affect Our Future Kids by Sabrina Wilsdon

Interviews question

1 Do you think the climate is changing?

I ask my dad and he said yes – I am sure it is changing .

2 How do you think it is changing?

  • Is it getting warmer
  • Are there more storms

I ask my dad and he said is getting warmer and the weather is changing – some places are dryer and some are wetter and storms are getting bigger .

3 What are the causes of climate change?

  • Humans burning oil?
  • Natural cycles

I ask my dad and he said human beings are burning oil- so much oil that greenhouse gases are trapping  heat from the sun .

4 What are the result of climate change

-Ice melt and oceans rises

-Fires are getting bigger

-harder to grow food

– drought (no rain)

I ask my dad and he said ice caps are melting causing the sea level to rise which is flooding people’s houses and building.  Also drought making it hard for people’s and animal’s to have food. Also bigger storms are damaging property and killing people’s and animal’s.

5 How can we stop climate change?

  • Drive an electric car charged from solar panels or wind
  • Drive less or more efficient cars
  • Use less stuff- recycle
  • Compost

I ask my dad and he said Burn less oil by driving less, generating power with solar panels and wind, driving electric cars and most of all being more efficient.

6 How does climate change affect animals

Today?

  • Harder to get food because of drought
  • More because of change

I ask my dad and he said It’s destroying their habitat so they have to migrate adapt or die. Some can more adapt, but many will die.

7 Is it fair that animal’s have to more or suffer?

No- we the human beings can make changes and we must changes to protect the animal’s now! Act quickly!

8 Does the government have the job to try to stop climate change?

Yes because the people of the world are demanding it. We must all do what we can but we must also demand that the government do the things that they can to make changes.  

9 How important is it to you to try to stop climate change?

I ask my dad and he said It is the most important thing we can do as humans right now. We must do all we can to save the planet for the people and animals that will  come after us .

I will say it important to save the planet because it is the one plant we know.

Research Question – how climate change affect people and wildlife there is a climate change the paris agreement

According to Real Climate Global temperature goes from heat record to heat record, yet the sun is at its dimmest for half a century.  

According to National Geographic hundreds of birds are washing up dead in the Bering Sea . So the Tufted Puffins white-masked, orange- beaked seabirds from North America because of warm temperature the ocean food web has shifted which can destroyed the whole eco-system.   

According to National Geographic the tufted puffins started washing ashore on St. Paul Island in mid-October—first a handful, then dozens.  

According to National Geographic NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Santa Cruz, California, are in territory to what happening to the Tufted Puffins that are coming up to the land so the food web that makes it hard for the other animals too.

According to Dolphins- world wild dolphins face many natural dangers within the deep expanse of the ocean, however the most overwhelming threat to their existence is man.

According to Dolphins- world although some dolphin species are considered an endangered species, alarming statistics suggest that more and more dolphins are being killed by illegal dynamite fishing, being caught in fishing nets, collisions with boats and or propellers, marine pollution, disease and bleaching due to sonar interference than ever before.

According to Dolphin-world Research suggests that over 95% of dolphin deaths are directly attributable to man-related causes. According to Dolphin -world The capture and subsequent holding of dolphins in research and aquarium facilities is contributing to their deaths at an alarming rate.

According to Dolphin-world Researchers suggest that the capture process itself is resulting in an increased number of deaths among dolphins.

According to Dolphin- world the capture procedures, the transportation of the captured dolphins, the exposure to disease in captivity, are only some of the threats that dolphins face when they are taken from their natural environment.

According to Dolphin- world the increased popularity of swimming with dolphins programs have brought more and more dolphins into danger as their feeding and breeding areas are being invaded by tourists.

According to Dolphin- world since dolphins are at the top of the food chain, the impact of contamination is much higher as Dolphins eat fish and plants that may have been contaminated in different places, increasing the risk to themselves.

According to Dolphin- world  Noise pollution is also a great danger to dolphins in the wild. Activities like oil drilling, navigational sonars and even ship engines create continuous streams of underwater noise that can frighten, disorient or even injure the dolphins.

According to  Dolphin- world Besides, noise pollution force sometimes dolphins to move away from their feeding and breeding areas, causing different problems According to Dolphin-world  Another cause of death for the dolphins is the injuries suffered by the entanglement in cages, shark safety nets and fishing nets as well as collisions with ships and rotor blades.

According to Dolphin-world As we explore more and more the ocean and their “habitat”, we’re bringing the dangers to them.

According to Dolphin-world Despite that some dolphin species are considered an endangered species, some of them are still the target of sport fishing and they are often shot to reduce their presence in fishing areas or even for bait.

In addition to the threats introduced by men into their habitat, wild dolphins are also at the mercy of nature, as any other animal.

According to Dolphin- world Regardless they are at the top of the food chain, still they have to compete with sharks and toothed whales for food.

According to the effect of Global Warming or seasonal weather changes have caused the loss of food sources, impacting the survival rates of dolphins in the wild.

According to Dolphin- world the effect of Global Warming or seasonal weather changes have caused the loss of food sources, impacting the survival rates of dolphins in the wild.  

According to Tech Times the reasoning people think climate change is not- real is because nearly two-thirds or 63 percent of Americans think climate change is occurring. Around 52 percent think that if global warming is indeed happening, it is generally caused by humans. So the reasoning is because people don’t care about the world but themself and are education but don’t think it cause any issue /harm.

The Looming Landslide by B.W.

When a massive landslide struck Malin, India on July 30, 2014, and buried 44 houses, left 151 dead, and over 100 people missing, the question arose if basic environmental standards had been employed. In the LA times, a closer investigation of the causes of the landslide pointed to a blatant disregard of a government classification of the area being “ecologically sensitive” and an issue of a ¨no development” policy. The area was a reported lumber sight, that, officially 28,000 trees were cut, but unofficially the estimate is closer to 300,000.

The company that was doing the cutting didn’t just cut down the trees. They were ground leveling, a process where the entire tree, root system and all was being removed. According to the LA Times, the amount of rainfall the people inhabiting this area saw in the days that followed the landslide was above average.  This factor, along with the tree removal that allowed the soil to be loose, resulted in this tragic landslide. There are many other cases like this listed on Wikipedia: Guatemala, casualties 220, Japan, casualties 50+, the list goes on. Environmental disasters do not just pertain to places like Malin, India, because all around the globe, people unwittingly put themselves and other creatures in danger by damaging the environment because there seems to be no long term effect.

Environmentally speaking, oil is one of the least eco-friendly sources of fuel. This was clearly shown when an estimated 206 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, reports Mother Nature Network (MNN), when an explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 people, and allowed an oil well to leak into the ocean. To put in perspective, that is 2,575,000 days of water use for the average person. This oil spill caused the death of thousands and thousands of marine and bird life. The estimated cleanup cost was around 34 billion dollars. 34 billion.

BP, the company responsible for this disaster, clearly did not think that something like this could ever happen. To prove this, MNN reports it took them 85 days to seal the leak. If BP had been focused on the possibility of something like this happening, it wouldn’t have taken nearly that long.

   BP’s oil spill shows on a large and palpable scale the impact that we as humans can unintentionally have on the environment. However, there is another much smaller, more unnoticeable cause that impacts the environment, on that many people use every day.

It uses BP’s oil. It’s cars.

There are 258 million cars in the United States alone. According to the EPA(Environmental Protection Agency), Greenhouse gasses trap heat and make the planet warmer. Human activities are responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere over the last 150 years. Transportation accounted for 26% of the total US greenhouse gasses released. The total emissions in 2014 in tons was 6,870 million.  That’s just the US.

This reliance on fossil fuels furthers the point that humans only are focused on the short-term effect of our actions. Why spend time investing into finding alternative energy sources when one can simply tap into the oil business?

However, this generalization is not all encompassing. There are those that have begun the long uphill battle to try and refocus efforts towards something far more sustainable. A company named Proton Power Inc. shines among them. Proton Power is a company that is researching the use of biomass to make inexpensive hydrogen, which can be converted into energy for uses such as: synthetic fuels, electricity and heat. Biomass is fuel that is developed from organic materials, and is a renewable and sustainable source of energy.

Sam Weaver, the founder of this company has been a successful entrepreneur for over four decades. When questioned to the reason that he founded this company his response was “only 20% of the world’s energy needs are being met” and that “we’ve got to go to a sustainable future.”

So all hope is not lost. With the movement for a better, cleaner tomorrow growing by the day, we can be hopeful that soon, a renewable source of energy will prevail over the shortsighted fossil fuels. However, if action is not taken soon, and we continue on our short-sighted track, a far more devastating global “landslide” is bound to occur, with far more catastrophe and casualties than that of the landslide in Malin, India.

PTSD in Soldiers by C.T.

Imagine waking up in the middle of every night from a nightmare, or flinching every time someone slams a door or the toaster goes off. Imagine listening to the ceiling fan and seeing it as a helicopter. Or hearing fireworks on the 4th of july and thinking them as bombs. Or being afraid to go to sleep so you have to have a gun under your pillow. Imagine locking yourself inside your home because you have a new view of the outside world. Imagine your shadow, it follows you constantly and can’t be taken away, PTSD is like a shadow, once you see and experience the reality of combat and war it will follow you like a shadow.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is not only the most common disorder a soldier has after seeing and being apart of combat, but is also one of the most dangerous disorders. Dr. Dorothy Farris who has treated more than 1000 patients with PTSD, says that symptoms include reexperiencing the trauma with nightmares, flashbacks, haunting memories, avoidance, social withdrawal, avoiding situations that remind him/her of trauma, and emotional behavioral changes such as anxiety, nightmares, hyperactive startle response, insomnia, irritability, survivor guilt. The symptoms have to be bad enough to affect the person’s ability to function. Sometimes the symptoms come up right after the trauma, or they can be delayed for many years. The symptoms are thought to be due to an overactive defense strategy of the brain. The brain wants to protect the trauma victim, so it stays on high alert even after the danger has passed.The worst thing in my opinion about PTSD is that it is not an illness you can prevent, and one that any individual can be effected by. Another scary fact about PTSD is that typically when an individual experiences it they don’t talk about it. Most don’t talk about it because they think it makes them weak, and others because the details of the event  are to horrific to talk about. As a result sadly the people who have PTSD but aren’t diagnosed with it or don’t talk about it live in a long state of depression before eventually committing suicide. Dr. Farris also explains using a diagnostic interview and watching someone’s behavior. There are no blood tests or other medical tests for the disorder. The person had to experience or witness a traumatic event at some point. A trauma is when someone’s life or safety is threatened. Sexual or emotional abuse can also be traumatic. The most studied trauma is that suffered by soldiers in combat. Secondly, the person has to experience symptoms as a result of the trauma. These symptoms have to persist for at least a month after the trauma.

Even though there is no specific cures for PTSD, patients have experienced help through psychotherapy and medications in order to ease the pain and manage their depression and anxiety. Most patients are directed to help from loved ones who notice changes in their behavior and daily activities, on account of most patients who have PTSD will not admit it. Therapy is the main source to curing PTSD even though it is a long and slow process. Most doctors such as Dorothy Farris talk to the individual about the event and attempt to modify their negative thoughts, behaviors, and emotional responses associated with the patience psychological distress. Another process is to reduce stress from eye movements or putting the individual in a safe environment where they can talk about and handle the event that took place. In certain cases doctors will prescribe the individual with medication such as Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) in order to help them ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.

PTSD is a lot more common in people then an average person thinks. For example, an estimated 24.4 million americans (8%) have had PTSD at a given time. Studies have also shown that women are twice as likely to have PTSD than men with an estimated 1 out of every 10 women, and with any person who experiences a traumatic or terrifying event, they have a 60-80% chance of developing PTSD. Typically PTSD is most commonly seen in veterans because they are filled with combat and near death experiences which they cannot forget, and over the last year the amount of diagnosed cases in the military jumped 50% showing that every 1 in 5 veterans returning from deployment will have PTSD. All in all PTSD is a very common and dangerous illness that will follow anyone until treated properly. In order to understand more about PTSD.

In conclusion, PTSD is one of the most major mental illnesses. It causes your mind  to replay horrific events that you have experienced. The way it is diagnosed is by noticing changes in the individual’s behavior, and once it is diagnosed the only cure for it is intensive therapy and medication. This illness causes severe depression and anxiety more often than not causing the individual to commit suicide. All in all PTSD has affected and taken numerous veterans lives and needs to be researched more in order to help those who put their lives on the line for us.

Psycho by I.S.

“Bipolar disorder is one of the most common mental illnesses. It is characterized by mania and severe depression.” My psychology teacher goes on about odd behavior such as excessive purchases and belief in one’s ability to fly caused by severe cases of bipolar, eliciting laughter from the class. I felt sick to my stomach, hearing that a disorder I have no control over was an object of ridicule and fear. I could not bring myself to tell my classmates how it affected me so I just allowed the anger and hurt to simmer beneath the surface. 28 other faces continued to stare at the powerpoint, oblivious to the gravity of the situation. I walked 15 minutes out later feeling defeated, unable to muster up the courage to confront the teacher. Bipolar is not like having a physical illness because it carries far more stigma. It is something that is extremely taxing and others will make you ashamed of it.

Bipolar disorder affects roughly 2% of the population. That means roughly 40 students in our school suffer from this disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health characterizes manic episodes as feeling very elated, agitated, and irritable. People experiencing this often display little need for sleep and are likely to make impulsive or risky decisions. Depressive episodes are marked by feeling tired, unfocused, slow, and hopeless. There are a range of symptoms associated with bipolar disorder, which psychiatrists try to diagnose as one of two categories: bipolar I or bipolar II. It runs in families, but often only one identical twin will have bipolar even though they have the same genes. This proves that there are other causes, possibly abnormalities in brain structure or brain chemicals. Medical knowledge has come far, but no matter how much you or any MD learns about bipolar, you aren’t any closer to knowing the struggles people with bipolar face every day.

According to Mind Race, back in the 1800’s people could pay admission to mental hospitals so they could bang on the glass and taunt the residents like zoo animals. Though this obviously doesn’t occur currently, that sentiment remains in the public conscience to this day. There have been times when I informed someone of my diagnosis and saw their face contort with visible discomfort. To them I was no longer a person, I was a circus freak. It was clear in the coldness with which they addressed me after hearing. I avoid telling most people about my diagnosis for fear of being labeled “psycho” or “crazy”. Why should I tell someone who only knows about bipolar what they learned in school and risk them thinking worse of me because of it?

A friend of mine who struggles with bipolar said “it’s [bipolar] different for everyone, but for me, a manic state is when after the down swing, I tell myself that I’m alright and that everything isn’t just okay, it’s great. The reason that it doesn’t always last is that if your parade gets rained on, there’s a good chance you’ll come out drenched so to speak. It’s not necessarily a strong feeling of euphoria, but more a state of denial that anythings wrong. You feel good while it’s happening though. Being in a depressed state for me doesn’t last long, but when I am depressed, I have no motivation to do anything, I tell myself that it’s never going to get better and that I should just stop trying to make my life good. It varies in severity as it can be a feeling of ultimate despair, or just being melancholy.”

A huge part of the life many people with bipolar is medications. Mind Race says that the main categories of bipolar meds are mood stabilizers, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and antipsychotics. The most common medication given for bipolar is the mood stabilizer lithium. People react differently to the same medications, and it often takes years of trial and error for a psychiatrist to prescribe the right set. I have had to visit a psychiatrist every three months for the past and have been prescribed my fair share of meds. There is also the very real possibility of experiencing adverse side effects. One medication I took caused severe muscle weakness, insomnia, and nausea. Another made me so drowsy I could rarely get through a day without taking an afternoon nap. The ever changing array of pills I had to take made me feel like a lab rat in a drug company’s test. My meds have been adjusted and work better now, but I still wish I didn’t have to take them.

Medication can be a blessing and a welcome relief, but it is a serious commitment that can feel enslaving. Once my family saw how much more even tempered I was on medication, I knew they no longer tolerated me as I used to be, they accepted a different version of myself on the medications. I wasn’t feeling as high or low anymore: I felt nothing. At the same time I dread feeling like I did before I started taking them. If I stopped taking the medications I may have more difficulty functioning “normally”. My friend told me “I Can’t live without my medication. If I stopped taking it, I would have to transition which would be incredibly tough, but I would act worse and be a different person altogether. I have no problem with taking medication. There were times where I was put on the wrong medication and I got put instantly into depression, or gained a lot of weight in a short time. Medication also has side effects, which are something you have to weigh when you’re decide if you want to stay on a certain prescription, or try something new.” Meds are a crutch and a burden that I and many others with bipolar will most likely bear for life.

I have certainly been hard to be around for my family, people with the best intentions but little understanding of the disorder. They have no way of knowing what I go through everyday. I used to be forbidden from spending alone time with my siblings for fear I would hurt them. I had never done so before, it was just a precaution based out of their fear of mental illness. When I was in 8th grade, my younger sister wasn’t allowed to stay home with me and she called from the balcony, “Your stupid bipolar disease ruined our family.” my mom corrected her, saying that it was a disorder. My sister just spat, “No, it’s a disease.” To this day I recall that and how I’ve been called scary by my mom and she has told me that I belong in a mental hospital. Hearing this just added to the damage bullies and rumors at the school had done. I already had all that turmoil in my brain; it was just too much for my family to turn on me. I thought that they were supposed to have my back.

Even when I was alone, I was tormented by self hatred and insecurity. I would spend hours in my room wasting time. I was too afraid to initiate spending time with people. After being crushed by rejection so many times, I did not have the courage to make myself vulnerable. I didn’t want them to call me crazy too. It took years of support from my friends and family for me to realize that I don’t have to be defined by negativity and I gradually built back my confidence and self image.

Having bipolar has also hindered me in other ways: there are times when I feel so glum I can barely find the will to get out of bed, much less carry out the tasks I have to do. My body feels leaden and my mind trudges along at the pace of a sloth. I cannot even focus on the conversations I have, much less difficult mathematical equations. At other times, thoughts flood my head, faster than I can express. I’m at the top of the world, unaware of my surroundings, talking a mile a minute about random topics that I freely associate but others can’t understand. Other people I know who have bipolar describe it similarly.

Either extreme makes it difficult to function in society, but I don’t let that hold me back. Bipolar disorder has been the biggest challenge I have faced, and while it has and continues to bring me pain and difficulty, I know that I am stronger because of it. I’ve been higher than high and lower than low, more than most people could ever know. I’ve learned to never back down in the face of adversity. I now know that I am good enough just as I am, and nothing anyone says or thinks can change that.

The Smog Pit by D.S.

In a story on npr.org about Minhae Kim, a South Korean citizen and mother of a one year old, the young woman sits on a Yonghan family park bench. She is watching her young one play around happily while watching helplessly from the side. Her child has yet to find out about the dangerous environment she is and will be exposed to for her upbringing. It is spring now and the air pollution levels in Seoul have drastically increased to very unhealthy levels. Why not just stay inside and wait until the air is better? That’s the struggle that Minhae and her fellow countrymen face constantly. There is no better tomorrow. Sure there might be better days but in the big picture, everyday is a day of exposure no matter what. What most of the citizens of South Korea don’t take into account is the immense scale that their poor air quality is on and the dangers of this abundance. In fact, Yale University ranks South Korea near the very bottom of the list of 180 countries for air quality in the Environmental Performance Index. Normal do-good citizens like Minhae and their children are exposed extremely unhealthy levels of pollution every day of their lives. Children and elders are especially vulnerable because of their decreased ability to fight deadly diseases. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, myocardial infarction, lung cancer and asthma symptoms are just a few of the many side effects of long-term exposure to these harmful chemicals. Many South Koreans and their families-just like Minhae and her kid-will most likely experience one of these side effects sometime in their lives with constant exposure.

You might think that the most logical solution to this problem is to stop burning so many fossil fuels and cut down on car emissions but in fact, there might be no solution at all. This is because South Korea has practically no control over their excessive levels of harmful pollution. To get a better understanding of the situation threatening the peninsula, I decided to interview my dad who works as an atmospheric scientist for NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), occasionally making trips to South Korean monitoring stations to take samples on air particles and pollution.

When asked about the origin of South Korea’s dangerous pollution levels, he said “The monitoring stations in Seoul have evidence to say that there is foreign pollution in the air. Due to the increased levels of human tracers such as combustion products (CO2, CO, black carbon particles) and sulfur and nitrogen species (eg., SO2, H2SO4, NOx gasses), it is assumed that manmade emissions from China have traveled eastward and have entered South Korea.”

This assumption has caused many South Koreans to point fingers at China for giving them the large burden they are continuously bearing. Of course China most likely has some contribution in the pollution found in South Korea, but a big issue that is utterly inevitable is a natural occurrence. A meteorological phenomenon called the “Asian Dust” (which is %100 confirmed) happens when desert sands from mainland deserts travel east across the sea and many of the particles settle in South Korea. With much experience and knowledge on this phenomenon, my dad had a some input to enhance the specifics of the whole situation.

“It has to do with meteorological conditions,’ he explained. ‘When heavy seasonal winds in the northern hemisphere pass west to east over asian deserts such as the Gobi and Taklamakan in northern and western china, the sand has nothing to hold itself in place and it gets entrained into the air stream which eventually takes it eastward, where some of the heavier particles are deposited in South Korea. When we measure the air particles in western Hawaii, we sometimes find very small asian dust particles that have traveled all the way across the Pacific Ocean.”

This is where the blunt of the problem comes from. During the spring and fall when seasonal winds are the strongest, not only do the man made emissions from big cities like Beijing and Shanghai travel east to South Korea but so do the desert sands from the greater asian deserts. A deadly mixture of pollution is a result of this that has confirmed side effects such as the ones I listed earlier.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Air Quality Index (AQI) there are 6 categories to separate air quality in given countries. It is measured in concentration of PM2.5 particles (particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in width) that are very dangerous to the health of the residents of the given area. The 6 groups are ranges of micrograms per cubic meter of air. Zero to 50 is considered “good”, 51-100 is considered “moderate”, 101-150 is considered “unhealthy for sensitive (elderly and children) groups”, 151-200 is considered “unhealthy”, 201-300 is considered “very unhealthy”, and 301-500 is considered “hazardous”.

According to the EPA Air Quality Index, the Yongsan district-the district holding residence to Mrs. Kim and her 1 year old child- had 6 months out of the year (March, April, May, August, October, and December) where the daily maximum micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic meter repeatedly reached the unhealthy level. According to the same AQI, the whole city of Seoul only had 44 days where PM2.5 concentration was in the “good” range. That is 224 less days in the “good” range than New York City, the most populated city in the United States.

The end to this problem is very complicated and the harsh reality will affect South Koreans and East Asian citizens in general who think the solution is feasible. A big group of South Koreans point fingers at China for their air quality issues and of course there is reasoning behind this given the devastating conditions in Beijing and Shanghai. However, you take Beijing, Shanghai, and any other Chinese cities out of the equation completely and there is still a major problem. As quoted by Dr. Jonathan Samet, an epidemiologist at the Institute for Global Health at the University of Southern California, “What you have is the combination of what is being generated within Seoul and within the broader, very industrial environment of Korea, added onto by transport of pollution from China.’ ‘So, yes, Koreans can point the finger at China — but you know it has to be pointed internally as well.”

The conclusion is that South Korea has a direct problem that will continue to face them for years to come, especially with the exponentially growing population; a problem that as of now is utterly unsolvable. One could only imagine what the rates of emigration from the smog ridden country will climb to in the coming future.

You See a Uterus, I See a Black Hole by J.S.

The moment you walk into a family gathering of mine, the perpetual screaming and whining is unlike anything else. A child. I was so familiar with this noise; the shrill that came from my cousin’s child, my own family. It still made me wince. I walked toward the kitchen and gave my most sincere form of, “Oh wow! She’s growing up so fast!” I leaned over to my mom and gave her a look that plainly said, “There’s no way I am having kids.” I talked with my cousins for several minutes about little Molly’s newest outfit and her latest play-date. My siblings and cousins were all beaming. As long as I can remember, I’ve never gotten along well with children. I never saw the point in having a minivan full of kids, because my desire to have a fruitful career was so much larger.

The expectation of having kids is different for every generation. My grandparents, who grew up in the Age of Conformity, were eager to start families; it was right after World War 2. “It was just the norm to buy a house and start a family. We craved simplicity,” said Diane Garnsey, 78. There were expectations that every couple met in the 1950s. Everyone expressed satisfaction in their lives; there were jobs and social security. However, about a decade later, the trend was changing, according to manythings.com. There were riots in the cities over The Vietnam War. The country was in social upheaval. As the norm for women switched from housewife to equal rights, the expectation to have children was lessened. Women joined the workforce. They no longer cared to be secretaries and receptionists. According to manythings.com, “Women felt there was more to life than having kids.” There was clear dissatisfaction with restrictive female roles in society. There was so little desire to be the mother of several children, because women had finally wanted freedom.

In the 1960s, the pill, a form of contraceptive was given to women. Many U.S. citizens were against the pill because it encouraged women to be promiscuous without the chance of reproduction. These arguments nonetheless sparked more riots in America. Women began demanding equal rights in the workplace, education, and in politics. Pop-culture also had a large effect on whether to stick to the status quo and have babies. The Beatles, a rock band from Liverpool, England, began spreading the phrase, “do your own thing.” And people did just that. These people were against traditional values, and encouraged others to promote personal freedom.

The stigma that came along with deciding to have children stemmed from the opportunity to have a career. Women in the 1960s were forced to choose one or the other. For the first time, women were given an option. Emily Schneider, 24, stated, “if a woman wants to be the primary caregiver to her children, being a senior level associate in a fortune 500 company should not be an option. I would not say it’s wise to try and have it all.” Many people would disagree with this. Such as Michelle Adams, 26, “I believe a woman can have it all. Whether that means having a whole bundle of kids as well as owning your own business. I think women, especially in this day and age, can make all those decisions and succeed.” A touching sentiment, but is it really possible? I had an interview with Elizabeth Garnsey, 43, a single mother and a teacher, “I am the only financial support system my son has. I had him through a sperm donor so there’s no other parent for him. I make a good living as a teacher, but it is incredibly hard work. I wish I didn’t have to be alone in this, but I have everything I want. Sometimes I feel absent in his life because there’s no one else in our home.” Luckily, Elizabeth has other family members who’re willing to help babysit her son, Charlie; he is about four years old.

Fortunately, for women, society has come a long way. Women have the right to choose to have a career, a child or both. I will be taking the path of no children. But to the women who are courageous enough to do both: I tip my Female Cap to you.

High School or Hell hole? by R.K.

I interviewed people in Fairview High School about the societal pressures and norms in our high school. The students interviewed vary in age, background, experiences, gender, and general diversities. These interviews have exposed a common thread of a community run by hate, entitlement, personal gain, ego, and ignorance to the world and people in our community.

I remember every second of my first day at Fairview. I remember the chills of excitement running down my skin. I remember the anxiety of wanting to fit in. I remember the worry of not knowing more than five people at Fairview. Mostly, I remember my sister, Kendall, telling me to, “Shut up, calm down, and go find another freshman who is more scared than you,” because that’s what everybody is on their first day of high school, scared. Personally, I was astounded by the vast sea of faces standing out front waiting for the start of what would become the next four years of our lives. There is a certain buzz of excitement that comes with entering the unknown. High expectations radiate off the human brain in a way that is almost visable to the human eye.

As every freshman flooded into the school we were corralled down a single hallway into the auditorium. There were knight crew leaders lining the walls directing all of the confused freshman. I remember wanting to be like them. Everybody envied their stature and ‘rank’ in the hierarchy of high school. As I grew into my own person at Fairview, it became increasingly obvious that the social atmosphere had shifted dramatically. It was a stressed, angry, depressive environment highlighted by students rather than the easygoing, happy, confident vibe displayed by knight crew leaders I saw on my first day. So, what caused Fairview’s social normalcy to shift?

Sociology is the study of the development, structure, and function of human society. It also includes the study of social problems. According to Professor Alan S. Berger, a key component of social behavior is the social grouping. His lecture on Primary and Secondary social groups states that they differ in their main characteristics, the function they serve for group members, and the group members dependence or relationship to one another. Primary groups are small in size as well as area. The membership is limited to a small number and is confined within small limits like in families, friends, and study groups. Secondary social groups are membership is widespread. It may contain thousands of members. People in the same secondary social group tend to have indirect or impersonal contact with other members. It is, usually, unintentionally formed not based on common interest but in the achievement of some recognized goal. Also people in the same secondary group are not connected by the process of achieving said goal, but the acquisition and completion of the goal. At Fairview,the goal is most commonly graduation. Ethnomethodology is the study of the norms that dictate social interaction.

When I asked students what social norms were at Fairview I was met with confused stares and lack of answers, however, when I asked how the social norms have changed there was a very clear answer. “What we think is normal has for sure changed a lot since freshman year. Both good and bad.” said ZB, “I feel we care a lot less about everything. But when drama starts, everyone gets involved and tends to make a bigger deal out of it than necessary.” This seems to be a common opinion in all the interviews conducted. In different terms, within our community there are accepted norms and values with reference to what the group holds as core values. There is a development of accepted penalties when norms are violated within a social group. As people develop their core values can evolve leading to a different social cohesion within a community. When prompted by questions relating what causes a mood shift within their social group the responses we’re all alarmingly similar. To paraphrase EVERY SINGLE interview- there are  rules and obligations established within the group and one is expected to behave in a particular way and conform to fit a standard. If they break from the protocol within the group the atmosphere within the group can become standoffish, hostile, and sometimes even hateful.

Fairview, like many other high schools, has different social groups and varying norms and values within. However, there is a huge difference within the response and reactions that are received when one tries to separate from the norm. People do not feel comfortable and, to an extent, are scared to be different. Without an opportunity to stretch from the norm and become your own person it’s impossible to fully integrate successfully into society later in life. Being aware of how normalcy in your direct community affects social interaction is vital to being a fully developed person, and it is something that Fairview students lack.

Cancer Research: A Necessity No Matter the Cost by V.P.

When touring through my dad’s lab as a younger child, I was too young to understand the secrets that lay inside. There was a dimly lit room that we walked into with a freezer in the corner of the room. As we moved toward the freezer, my curiosity began to simmer. To my surprise, it was not something frozen and delightful such as ice cream, but it was a freezer full of motionless mice. Horrified and confused, I asked my dad what this was all about. He told me that he would tell me when I was a little older. When we I was in middle school, I brought up the freezer once again in hopes that he would tell me what it was about. He told me that they were used for the testing of his company’s drugs to treat cancer. Although unfortunate, animal testing is a necessity for the advancement of cancer treatment and working towards a cure. The life of a mouse may save one of your loved ones through cancer treatment advancement.

If there is one study in the medical field that has received the most attention in recent years, it is cancer research. According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 39 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. There have been billions of dollars spent to try to find the cure to cancer and to make advancements in treatment. The National Cancer Institute reported that in 2012, there was an estimated 8.2 million cancer-related deaths worldwide.

Time is running out on people’s lives every minute that passes as they fall victim to cancer. It’s imperative that innovations and new discoveries continue to be made in cancer research, but obstacles must be overcome for cancer researchers in order to make these discoveries. Animal testing is an important part of cancer research and is necessary to innovation in the field.

My father, Gijsbertus Pronk, is a cancer researcher and works for Suvica Inc. When asked about his thoughts on the animal testing that he has to do in order to do his research he said “we have to use animals in our studies in order to test whether a potential drug may be useful to treat cancer. Unfortunately, there are still no good alternatives to do this work, and people don’t want to be guinea pigs.”. It is clear that he wishes that he did not have to put animals through testing in order to his work, however it is a necessity for discoveries to be made. This is the main obstacle that cancer researchers face from the public is that they test drugs using animals. However, people need to understand that cancer research is very important in saving lives for the future.

If you put both your hands out straight in front of you and look at your 10 fingers, each one represents a family member. Now put 4 of your fingers down into your palm. Those four fingers represent people you love who are now sick with some type of cancer. Most likely, two of them have a type of cancer that they will not be able to fight back from. Cancer took the lives of two of the people who you love most. However, some people can be less fortunate and cancer takes more than two people that they love. Now think about how the pain that this will cause you. Now compare that to the pain that you feel everyday for animals that are used in the testing of cancer drugs. It’s not the same, is it?

Almost everyone is sad when animals die as a result of scientific testing, yet no one will put their one life on the line to save that animal. If there was a better way to test cancer treatment drugs, animals wouldn’t be tested on. But in order to treat cancer with higher efficiency, animal testing is an unfortunate necessity.

Peers, Are They Worthwhile? by K.P.

In an educational system where academic progress under high scrutiny, it’s fair to say that we know what progresses and slows the growth of a student.  We constantly hear about homework, sleep, different types of grading, etc, but what if we went broader in trying to answer that question.  What about our academic environment?  If we wanted to maximize the success of a student by putting them in the best physical setting, what would it look like. For me, I want to know if a student’s long term success is dependent upon their surrounding peers.  I know from personal experience as well as interviews from friends and high level academics that working together with peers will often short term success.  Jeremy Taylor, a 3.2 GPA student, responded when asked how much success working with peers had,  “I Feel like In the short term I have a lot of success when I work with peers.  I feel like it is possibility that I might not be able to work as efficiently on my own though if I am so used to working with others.”  Skyler Calderoni, a year round athlete and dedicated student was quoted as saying, “Initial collaboration is great, but after a long period of time, things start to break down.” These are the opinions of the very students around us.  The ones who are striving to achieve success in postsecondary education.

Off the top of my head, it’s hard for me to say which way I would prefer myself.  I can think of instances that support both sides.  Working alone, I have found myself to be more equipped for the next similar project.  When reading books for my L.A. classes in the past, deadlines within reading groups became more of a focus for me rather than understanding or even enjoying the material I was reading about.  Alone, I worked at my own pace, mostly through periods of lots of reading, and periods of hardly any.  A more dynamic reading style has helped me during my current year however.  A deadline to try to meet along with a more casual, “read what you can,” during that time.  I see many classmates that read at different levels around me, but similarly will thrive in the dynamic environment they’re in.  

So what if people like working together.  If it works, why worry about it?  Well I want to make it clear, students will find some sort of success under most standard conditions in schools.  I am simply looking at the effectiveness of various environments.  Per Elisha Joy Bryson of The University of Pennsylvania, sometimes, given certain conditions, it is hard for us to even conclude a difference between students effectiveness due to the amount of variance in students themselves.  Ultimately the question being asked may have too many variables for us to answer the broad overall question.  To truly achieve academic efficiency with every student, you realistically would need to cater to each of their learning styles, which isn’t out of the question, it would just take a lot of resources.

The Stanford University Newsletter on Teaching wrote a paper regarding group work and found that students worked more effective on large projects in groups of 4-6 students.  In certain situations, larger groups of 8-10 seemingly were just as effective.  Research from many different sources have pointed out that peer collaborative work is a largely situational subject that really doesn’t have a definitive answer.  The kind of work being done it that class should moreso reflect how students work rather than an overall trend in the student population.

So I guess one of the last questions here might be, what should we do about it then.  I mean, if there’s no real discernable difference between learning with or without your peers, why give this topic any thought?  The answer is, that we must always be collectively striving to improve ourselves.  Every student varies widely and it might be a mistake to try to generalize millions of students and decide that one certain learning style is more effective.  This means that the responsibility is on us students to take action on our own behalf.  We need to explore and understand where each of our strengths and weaknesses lie, and develop and learning pattern that reflects them.