Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Winter Break

     Winter break is the biggest relief of every year right next to summer, of course. I get to go home and spend a month doing absolutely nothing with my friends (aside from when I actually get to work) and don't have to worry about anything. It's a relief, of course, but I always seem to find myself being completely bombarded with text messages and phone calls and tweets from people I haven't seen or talked to in months who think that me being home means that I have to see everyone I was ever friends with. 
     People demand to see me and get upset if I can't or don't want to make the time for them. After a while it starts to feel like it's not really even up to me who I spend my time with. It's like people think it's just my duty to please them and to spend time with them and if I don't then I'm being a bad friend or I've "changed" since being away at school. That's just not the case and it's unfair of people to just expect me to divvy up my time and energy so that everyone gets their fair share. People who don't talk to me for months while I'm away suddenly think it's my obligation to spend time with them, and that's just not the case. I'm going to spend my time with the people I think are worth spending my time with. I'm going to spend my time with the people who attempt to keep in contact with me while I'm across the country, not just anyone who decides I "should" see them since I can. 

     People don't seem to understand that my life is completely different. Every time I come back to Vegas, everyone wants to just continue on as if I never left, but the fact is that I did. I spend most of my year in New York and I don't come home just to come back to the same drama and the same problems and the same bullshit that I never cared about in the first place. Things change and although it might seem like things are back to the way they were when I'm back, they aren't. I have a completely different life and different priorities and different interests. I'm not that interested in hearing about who's dating who or who's doing what drugs because it really doesn't affect me anymore and it really never did. I don't really have any desire to do the same things I was doing in high school because I hated it. I left for a reason and it wasn't so that I could come back to the exact same things I tried to leave behind. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sexual Assault On College Campuses

     I used to not have a problem with Greek life, I actually at one point considered joining a sorority. Up until recently, my personal issues with Greek life were really just my opinion and not anything major that I thought was actually negatively affecting people on a large scale. There's been a lot of attention brought to the UVA incident that Rolling Stone published in which a girl named Jackie came forward with the account of how she was gang raped at a frat party. It's been found that there are some possible discrepancies with her story and Rolling Stone apologized for not fact-checking or interviewing any of the men accused.

     While I agree that Rolling Stone should've probably looked into the facts more, their apology completely discredited Jackie and the seriousness of what happened to her. Although the details may not be completely true, she still was definitely sexually assaulted and interviewing the rapists in any case is likely to cause them to target or torment the victim for coming forward. Also, it's not likely that anyone who is called for their account of a rape they committed would actually admit to what they did.

     Jackie's roommate told Huffington Post that at the time Jackie says she was sexually assaulted, she was "distraught" and even left school early and rescheduled all of her exams to be taken later, meanwhile it is being completely denied that anybody ever hurt her. While she may not have been completely truthful about who did it, only a small percentage (although it is not positively known exactly what it is) of rape accusations are false. Rape victims are 3 times more likely to be depressed and 6 times more likely to have PTSD so it's impossible to know what kind of damage has been caused by the sexual assault Jackie experienced, whether or not it is the story she's telling. It also doesn't change the fact that sexual assault is a huge problem on college campuses and in Greek life. People seem to be looking for reasons to discredit her story and bring attention away from sexual assault issues.

     This whole story has brought tons of attention to the issue of sexual assault, and rightfully so. At UVA, students who have admitted to sexual assault have only been suspended for a year or two, while anyone who has cheated has been expelled immediately. Of course academic integrity is important, but why is it more important to punish cheating students than it is to punish rapists? So many colleges are sending the message to students that cheating is wrong but sexual assault is just fine.

     The Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee (FSPAC), the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), and the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) released a statement saying that all Greek life at UVA should be reinstated and that the Rolling Stone article and accusations by Jackie have undermined "true victims" from stepping forward, because Jackie is not considered to be a real victim simply because the facts of her case have not been fully discovered yet. Again, more victim blaming is taking place.

     This pretty much just highlights the fact that people tend to just look the other way when it comes to sexual assault accusations and not only at UVA. Even at Syracuse, I personally know girls who have been drugged at frat parties or the houses of sports teams. Friends of mine in sororities have told me that they've been warned by the person who arranges their social events with frats to not take their drinks because they'll probably have drugs in them. Yet again, boys are being excused for drugging and possibly attempting to rape girls while girls are being warned of it and blamed if they accept a drink. How in the hell are we still blaming victims for what happens to them when the guys drugging and raping girls should be the ones blamed for what's happening?

     There are so many instances of fraternities drugging their drinks that are widely known on campus, yet nobody cares to do anything about it. What I don't understand is why people, in sororities or not, are choosing to go to parties at houses where they know the boys are going to attempt to drug and sexually assault them. We shouldn't be continuing to allow them to do this and supporting it by showing up to their houses and acting like what they're doing isn't disgustingly wrong. It makes no sense that people are turning the other cheek and pretending like it's not a big deal. None of these people are being held responsible for anything they do or even being acknowledged for the things they're doing wrong.

     It's so clear that all of this is happening, yet the university won't even acknowledge it and neither will the FSPAC, NPC, or NIC. Everything seems to just be brushed under the rug whether it's drugging drinks, sexual assault, or hazing even though everyone on campus knows it's happening. People are being hurt mentally, sexually, and physically and nobody even cares in the slightest bit. It's really sad to know that the university I love and call my home would probably do nothing to help me if I were ever sexually assaulted. It's hard to feel safe on a campus where some of the frats and sports teams are drugging girls at parties and are not even being looked at for what they're doing. It's unfair that my school won't even protect me or any of its students who could be hurt or assaulted, yet is protecting the ones who are attempting to drug or rape.

     People seem to forget that sex is rape if one party doesn't consent. If a girl is drunk or drugged and has sex, she CANNOT consent. It IS rape. Whether it's attempted or actually happens, it needs to be acknowledged by students, the university, and the police. People need to start being held responsible for their wrongdoings and people need to start caring that the people we associate with and are surrounded by are, in fact, doing things that are wrong.

Friday, December 5, 2014

10 Songs I Recently Discovered On Spotify

     I basically collect any playlists on Spotify that I think even sound moderately good and I spend way too much time searching through them so all of these songs are songs I've found on my indie and alternative playlists that I really enjoy and I thought I'd share.

1. The Suburbs by Mr Little Jeans

2. Gooey by Glass Animals

3. Que Sera by Wax Tailor

4. Delta by C2C

5. Polishing peanuts by Deluxe and Cyph4

6. Safe and Sound (Zion-I Remix) by Rebelution

7. Space is Only Noise if You Can See by Nicholas Jaar

8. High and Low by EZA

9. The Party Line by Belle and Sebastian

10. Gasoline by Alpine

Thursday, December 4, 2014

My GPA Does Not Define Me

     One problem with our society is that we determine a persons worth by their level of education and what each of us thinks is a quality education. Peoples characters are judged based on their GPA which is supposed to be a reflection of their work ethic and how smart they are but it really isn't. College kids complain about how tests aren't a good way to evaluate what they've learned or how much they've actually absorbed and been able to use from a class, yet they continue to judge each other based off them. We all complain about how society places our worth next to our GPA or how prestigious our college is, yet we all judge the people who go to schools we think are below ours and we judge people who's GPA's are lower than ours. We all complain about society yet we are one of the main contributing sources.

     None of us want to be judged solely off of our grades or how well we can do math problems or regurgitate random facts, yet we think it's a good way to judge other people. No one who goes to a community college is below anyone who goes to a big university and we can't possibly know what valuable things people are learning from schools we don't go to. Some of the most uninformed, close minded people I've met go to high ranking colleges along with some of the most open and intelligent people I've met. At the same time, some of the most innovative, open minded people I know go to community colleges or lesser known schools. It's impossible to know a person or how intelligent they actually are just from looking at their school and their grades.

     Most of the time, going to a big, fancy school actually doesn't say anything about you. Saying I go to Syracuse University says that I tolerate cold weather and I probably like the color orange. It doesn't tell you that I'm creative and open and passionate. It doesn't tell you all the work I put in to get here and the work I put in to be able to stay here. I could tell you my GPA tends to float around a 3.5 and that I've taken anthropology and that I don't do well in math classes but that doesn't tell you anything I've learned in my three semesters here. It tells you I'm probably not very good with numbers and that I know a thing or two about culture. That's not much to go off. You could never possibly know how good I am at photography or how smart I actually am when applying things to the real world if all you're looking at is my GPA or my test scores.

     Test grades can't tell you what I learned from a class, they can only tell how much fact I retained. They don't tell you what I learned about the world or myself or how that course connected with other subjects or parts of my life, which are much more valuable than how well I can memorize names and numbers. You don't get credit for understanding concepts or ideas if you don't get the facts perfectly right and you don't get credit for understanding a process or reasoning if you don't do the calculations perfectly every single time. You don't receive any recognition for the things you understand beyond the facts or actually applying things you've learned to your life. Meanwhile, you get punished for not being able to memorize specific data. Instead of getting the chance to actually demonstrate what you took away from a class and the value of what you learned, you get judged based on how many bubbles you filled in correctly. Then, instead of getting a chance to show your skills and how valuable you can be, you become the number that is your GPA.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Food Is Not The Enemy

     People are constantly so concerned with what they're eating and how much they're eating and how healthy they're being without really knowing what that means. It seems to me that people have a very misconstrued idea about what "healthy" means. I see lots of people who think that being healthy means only eating salads and vegetables all day or that they can only eat tiny portions and only eat a couple times a day, which is not good and not enough. Many people don't seem to understand that not eating enough can be just as bad as eating too much and that avoiding food is not a good route to go. I'm not claiming to be an expert on health or nutrition but I have learned a thing or two.

     Food is not a bad thing. Food is not our enemy or something we should be avoiding. We shouldn't be avoiding cravings and refusing to give into our hunger for fear of gaining weight. We should be paying attention and realizing that if we are craving something, it's because our body is missing something and that if we are hungry, it's because our bodies need food. Food is our fuel and we need all different kinds of it to function correctly.

     Cutting out carbs altogether or refusing to eat sweets or some specific food is only going to make you crave it more. Sweets are not evil and if you want a cookie once in a while, you shouldn't be ashamed to eat one. We shouldn't be afraid of food or what we're eating because we think it has too many calories or is too fattening. We should look at food as a good thing because it is literally what sustains our bodies and our lives. Not eating well or not eating enough can affect so many different things in your body in a negative way. It can make you more tired or throw off your sleeping or make you feel out of energy all the time. It can be just as unhealthy or worse than eating too much.

     Our bodies actually need carbs and fat and sugar and people seem to think that these are all horrible things that they should avoid at all costs, but that's just not the case. It's frustrating to watch people deprive their bodies of what they actually need to function. Obviously I'm not saying that you should just eat whatever you want all the time regardless of whether it has nutritional value or is horrible for you, but I'm saying that anything is fine in moderation. Having a cookie once is not going to make you gain five pounds and neither is eating a burger as long as it's not all the time. Not every meal needs to be the most healthy meal you've ever eaten.

     People tend to think that they need to diet in order to be healthy or thin, but that's not the case. Eating less than the amount of calories that your bodies needs is dieting and it's unhealthy. When you under eat, you're depriving your body of the nutrients it needs to function and slowing your metabolism so when you eat normally, you'll only end up weighing more than you did originally. Everyone has a different body that has a different natural weight that it's going to be and you can only change it so much without hurting yourself.

     One thing that people seem to never take into account is that muscle weighs more than fat and it also burns more calories than fat. That means that you can gain weight by gaining muscle and it does not mean that you're getting fat. I know tons of girls that are afraid to work out because they don't want to see the number on the scale raise but it's because they don't understand that gaining weight is not a bad thing when you're gaining muscle. Weight is just the amount of gravity pushing down on your body and means nothing compared to the actual state of your health. How working out and eating is affecting your body should be the focus rather than how it's affecting the number on the scale. That number doesn't tell you how much of that weight is from fat or from muscle or from anything else and it can be easily misconstrued as gaining fat when it's actually not.

     Of course, over eating and having a terrible diet will result in gaining fat but if you eat normally and healthily and provide your body with what it needs without indulging too much, you'll sit at a normal weight and that will be different from someone else's normal weight. Not everyone will be tiny because not everyone has a fast metabolism and trying to diet your way to a different body won't work. Depriving your body in order to change its appearance won't do you any favors in the long run and people don't seem to understand that. The only way to actually make a long term difference is to eat healthy and exercise. It's really that simple. There's no secret diet or cleanse that will make you lose all your extra weight in a week because that's unhealthy and unsustainable.

     The only real secret, which - surprise - is actually common sense and is that you should eat healthy. That means actually eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner (even snacks) and eating protein and vegetables and carbs and fruits and fat and everything else. Eating fat and having fat is not bad. You actually need fat on your body because without it you would not be alive. Our bodies are not meant to live off of salad forever and we aren't meant to have zero fat and perfectly flat stomachs. Some people have naturally higher metabolisms or flatter stomachs while others don't or have curvier bodies and no person's body is better than another one. People need to stop thinking in terms of weight and fat and restrictions and start thinking in terms of their health and being satisfied and actually feeling good for a change.