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With the holidays around the corner, as college students it is easy to be swept away by the promise of almost three weeks of doing close to nothing, eating more food than one can imagine and getting to see family and friends that you may not have seen in a long time. But it is also easy to forget those who may not be able to do or have any of these privileges. It is also easy to forget those who are struggling not only to find something they are thankful for, but struggling to get by as well. We could write extensively about the history of the commercialization and the capitalistic roots of the holidays as we know them today. But instead what we should do is use that history to try and change what we know as the conventional holiday season to make it a little more communal and inclusive, and bring it somewhat closer to the spirit of Christmas that we have been taught in school. There are some ways you can improve the lives around you, not just for these holidays but all year round, so you can show gratitude in the most impactful way possible.
On Oct. 5, The New York Times published an exposé on Harvey Weinstein, reporting that he had been paying off those who had accused him of sexual harassment and assault for years. A couple of the most prominent accusers were Ashley Judd — who said Weinstein had her sent up to his hotel room and asked her to give him a massage while he was in a bathrobe and watch him shower — and Rose McGowan, who accused Weinstein of sexually assaulting her during her breakout in Hollywood and who later received a $100,000 settlement from him in 1997. Since then, it has been a tumultuous time in Hollywood with more actors and actresses speaking out about their stories and incidents of sexual abuse not only implicating Weinstein but other powerful figures in the industry, as well. With all the turbulence over the issues of harassment in the film universe, it is easy to overlook the existence of deep-seated misogyny in other spheres. Thanks to the apparent lack of coverage that other industries tend to receive from the media in comparison to film and television, areas extraneous to Hollywood could benefit from riding the current wave of heavy pushback and empowered stance against sexual harassment and abuse.
It is evident to us by now that President Donald. J. Trump's administration has little to no regard for science and fact-based evidence. Several incidents, such as the nomination of Scott Pruitt, an experienced legal figure staunchly against the existence of environmental protections, to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have proven time and again that our sitting president does not care about the people or the country and would prefer to see them both burn to fuel his special interests.
On the Oct. 6, 2017, President Donald Trump's administration rolled back yet another Affordable Health Care mandate that outlined coverage for birth control under employer-sponsored healthcare. The backwards legislative action included sweeping guidelines for employers to claim religious exemption from the mandate in the name of “religious freedom” — something which the Trump administration plans to reinstate in full. Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlined in a memo sent to all federal agencies the day of the rollback, “Except in the narrowest of circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law. Therefore, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity, including employment, contracting and programming.” This attempted show of benevolence towards employers doesn’t only dangerously blur the line between the professional life and the personal life, but also unnecessarily enforces “religious beliefs” on those who need contraception for a whole host of reasons pertaining to their health and their ability to actively contribute to the workforce.
I haven’t been able to scroll through three posts on Facebook before
encountering yet another video about
how someone mastered the art of applying henna and has been crowned its “master”
by some off-radar media company. While personally, as an Indian, I’m proud of
the fact that one of our most treasured art forms has come to be appreciated in
the light of the Western world, I’m uneasy when I see yet another person from a
culture outside mine that is hailed as the harbinger of Mehndi, as someone
who’s newly discovered it, when those of Indian, Pakistani and Middle Eastern
descent have been wearing it for traditional and cultural purposes for
centuries. It’s one of many examples of cultural conquistador-ism, in which
people “discover” a culture that has already been well-established in the
global landscape and create a hype surrounding it that makes it look like
something “new” and “exotic.” There’s a fine line between appropriation and
appreciation, and calling anyone the “Queen of Henna” without properly understanding
and appreciating the history and the tradition behind it is an action that
falls firmly on the side of appropriation, and hence can destroy the cultural symbolism
of henna altogether and turn it into the next big Goop-sponsored fad instead.
As if the country didn’t have enough problems in dealing with incompetence and discrimination within our federal administration, the United States is also currently facing a deadly onslaught of natural disasters. Hurricanes, floods, wildfires and heatwaves are sweeping across the country, but visibly, the most affected regions are in the southern, coastal areas, nearly demolished by the forces of Hurricanes Harvey (Texas) and Irma (Florida, the Caribbean and the Southeastern U.S.). As more and more Americans lose power, water, shelter and supplies, people from around the country and the world put aside their differences to assist those in need by sending required items and personal monetary donations. Large corporations have also jumped in, donating millions of dollars to hurricane relief. Numerous mosques are offering shelter and refuge to those affected by flooding in Houston. Many will argue that this moment in history, where millions of unrelated people come together to help and better society, is beautiful and representative of what it means to be American.
There’s been a lot of talk about tuition-free college over the past couple of years, with it being a primary issue on former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ platform, San Francisco making public community colleges free, and the state of New York passing legislation that effectively provides middle-class families with free higher education. And I’ve heard the spectrum of stances on the topic, ranging from how tuition-free college will create more equal opportunities for people regardless of income, to people complaining that they’d have to pay higher taxes so that some entitled millennial could get an education that they should have worked for themselves.
Friday’s great health care debacle with H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act of 2017, was not only a source of troubling anxiety for many people (myself included) during the better part of the day, but also a poignant moment in history that will be remembered for years to come — the beginning of the end of the streams of incessant and rampant lies and empty, question mark-filled promises that are thrown out to the American people.
On Feb. 22, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani were the victims of a racially charged attack and were shot at by Adam Purinton. Purinton, under the impression that the two were Iranians, threw out slurs and was removed from the bar before returning with a gun and opening fire. While Madasani and another patron named Ian Grillot who jumped in were only wounded, Kuchibhotla was fatally shot, and his murder has enormous implications for not just those of us who are immigrants, but those of us who are American-born people of color as well.
With the publication of false terror incidents, the attacks on “fake” news outlets and rants on baseless yet inflammatory claims the man in the Oval Office insists on perpetuating, it seems as though President Donald J. Trump will stop at nothing to constantly put non-white straight, Christian males in a negative light. As unfortunate as the leader of the free world invalidating almost two-thirds of the country’s population is, it is a sad reality we’ll have to deal with for the next four years. Luckily, I’ve managed to round up some useful tips and tricks to help us get through this difficult time, mostly sane and maybe in one piece.
From the day he began his campaign, President Donald J. Trump echoed a single rhetoric — that hate and division would solve all the problems of America. And divide the country he has, wielding a single phrase quite carelessly — “fake news.” Trump has waged war with the media throughout his campaign and his current dismal state of affairs (also known as his presidency), and it does not seem like he is going to stop anytime soon.
It might seem crazy, but I enjoy math. My majors and minor are all math-intensive, I can calculate the results of complex series with (relative) ease, I find tricky math problems fun and I only use calculators to check my work, not to do it. There are many people like me, who genuinely enjoy the subject of mathematics, are engaged by the logical and complex processes needed to solve a problem and want to further STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) through research and discovery. I know that what I do isn’t easy. Anyone who pursues a field that involves math knows that success and true appreciation for discipline comes only through a lot of hard work, practice and thought.