Category Archives: Opinions

Men In Society

HannahKornegay, Features Editor

A wave of prepubescent boys just decided that frappuccino is the most necessary drink to satiate their current sugar craving, and so all their awkward, foul-smelling, gangly limbs just poured into this small space in which I was trying my hardest to do school work. Each boy completely disregards the aromatic steam wafting from the french press, offering them a chance to taste some damn fine coffee, and instead dutifully skim the “refreshments” portion of the menu. And so the fragile looking barista begins what can only be described as sugar torture and makes them each the exact same drink with different colored “flavors” being added to the top to make them seem different. As three boys stand off to the side, poised and ready to receive their drinks, another adolescent offers his friend a sip of his drink…from the same straw. Being a woman who never had the privilege of watching my older brother at this age, interact with other boys this age, I watch, seeing if his friends will take the gracious proposition.

“Ew, that’s gay,” one of the boys declares. Then, he sticks his own straw in the other boys drink and sucks up an overly sugary-sticky portion of the whipped beverage and nods his pleasure. No one flinches, at least none of them do, for this is obviously a term that’s been thrown around before. In fact, while their conversation was audible and could easily be heard by anyone else in the cafe at the time, not one person budged.

This short interaction between two boys, arguably too young to even understand the full implications of being gay in a society that still stigmatizes homosexuality, sparked a fuse in my head. Are boys actually afraid of being gay, and if they are, what else do men feel they must define in order to fit seamlessly in a judgemental world?

It’s become commonplace to hear about the pressures women face at the hands of society, but men’s struggles aren’t acknowledged. From birth, boys are taught not to cry, to “suck it up” and suppress their emotions. They’re raised as straight by default, and people are a lot more understanding of women questioning their sexuality than of men doing the same. As for the boys in the coffee shop, they could very well be gay, but they’ve already been conditioned to believe that being gay is less-than and overall an unfavorable option.

Not only are there societal pressures placed on men to uphold a certain standard, but also similar cultural pressures men must face as well.

“As a gay man, I’m viewed as soft and submissive, but within the context of my family, I’m expected to be strong and stable,” reflects Adrian Carrasquillo (SR).

The traditional role of a woman has always been to raise and nurture her family, but these ideals are being challenged and altered constantly by women who have learned that they can be both a mother and a business owner. In the same breath, there has been an increase in men who would rather be a stay-at-home father than run board meetings.

These ideas are not only oppressive, they also instill shame in those who differ from the norm. In an effort to provide proper research for this article, I bought flowers for my mother and father. My mother took them graciously and before I knew it, they’d been displayed in the house. However, when I gave the flowers to my father, I was met with confusion. I’m positive that he was happy to have them, but I don’t think it was because he wanted them. And I don’t think he would have had the same reaction had his brother or son done the same for him. Has heteronormativity been instilled in us so thoroughly that we can’t even accept gifts without fear of the implications?

More and more each day, there are men who choose to defy these stereotypes. There are men who are beginning to feel more comfortable being themselves. Whether that means men are buying flowers for themselves, sharing drinks or simply rejecting oppressive heteronormativity, it’s important that society continues to make strides for the better.

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Saving the Chattahoochee River

SireeshRamesh, Editor-in-Chief

The Chattahoochee River is one of the most commonly used water sources in Georgia, yet, continued urban and industrial neglect jeopardizes the river’s safety. When these negligent practices are coupled with stormwater surges that sweep large expanses of waste into the Chattahoochee River, the threat of having a bacteria-saturated, poorly flowing water source only increases.  With multiple tropical storms having recently passed through the Chattahoochee River region, such a possibility is a larger concern than ever before. It is up to Georgians to do something about it.

    The Chattahoochee River is generally clean and safe. It is a common destination for boating and other recreational activities like swimming and fishing. The problem emerges during heavy rains when water levels surge and pollutants wash into the river. Architects account for this possibility, and, in general, industrial and urban sites are built with impervious surfaces to prevent this very possibility.

However, the consistent and extreme flooding seen in recent weeks is at a scale that no engineer could predict to occur in Georgia. The result is that sewer infrastructures have become penetrated by the flow of storm surges, all of it pouring into the Chattahoochee River.

    The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper is an organization that works to curb the effects of this type of pollution. It performs bacteria-level tests on the river to ensure proper levels and alerts the public if the bacterial ecosystem is out of balance (as would happen when sewage surges into the river.) Yet the scope of these organizations only goes as far as how many people are willing to help. If the Chattahoochee River is to persevere as a mainstay of tourism and water infrastructure, then Georgia residents need to take the initiative to help the river do so.

     This can primarily be done by signing up as a volunteer through the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper website. Jobs range from getting knee-deep in the river to measure bacteria levels and removing dirt or sediment buildups to manning the hotline for the Chattahoochee Riverkeepers. Regardless, if an initiative is not taken soon, the condition of the Chattahoochee River will eventually reach a point where it can no longer be recovered. If it reaches that point, Georgia will have lost a beautiful landmark that had sustained its surrounding communities for generations and could have done so for many more generations to come.

Veganism

 

KimaraSmith, Staff Reporter

Is healthy here to stay or is this strong encouragement to “Go Vegan” going to fade away shortly? Society defines veganism as “the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals,” yet many do not know what that means. People question how far does this diet’s rules expand? Each person’s reasons are different for why they choose to become a vegan. Some strive for a better quality of life for animals while others long to benefit their own health.

As a former short term vegan, I found it difficult to stick to the true dairy-free diet. The diet consists of no products that are produced by an animal , which  includes fish and other seafood. After failing miserably at my first attempt attempt to go vegan, I decided to slowly modify my diet in hopes of becoming a full time vegan.

First I began with eliminating red meats, then transitioned into no consumption of dairy products. This stage was by far the hardest. Every vegan I have encountered all had the same response to how to be a  successful long-term vegan. They reiterated that to be a successful vegan, you must prepare a meal plan each week. By preparing meals weekly you reduce the chances of failing tremendously. Going vegan is a decision that impacts not only your personal health, but your lifestyle. This strong push to become vegan has surprisingly lasted longer than expected. Many vegans feel as if they are shining a light on their lifestyle in hopes of inspiring many more to “Go Vegan.”

The Death of the American College

EthanBenn, Staff Reporter

The American college is dead, and now in its place is a glorified daycare.

Buildings of higher education, once meant to challenge those students who pay for the privilege to learn more, have mutated into padded rooms with safe spaces meant to protect their students from the real world. What exactly has caused this drastic change then? The reasons American colleges have lost their focus can be chalked up to a combination of three things: entitled students making demands, administrations unwilling to exercise their authority and simply the cost of going to college.

Logically, students should be able to, and of course do, demand certain things of their college staff. When a college student, or anyone for that matter, pays the equivalent of a car or much more every year for their education, they should have the right to give feedback and criticism. After all, the idea “no taxation without representation” is of particular importance to American history – if you demand something of me, I can demand something of you. The problem with these demands is their severity.

Type  college students make demands into any search engine, and the results reflect a sense of entitlement previously unparalleled. One return is for an organization officially called the “Black Liberation Collective” that includes students who have “risen up to demand an end to systemic and structural racism on campus” and which presents “their demands” to colleges all over the United States.

At first glance, these demands sound fine and even beneficial, but upon further examination they reflect how entitled these students are. Following a link on the website, the requests directed towards the University of Missouri by the Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 came up. These requests, however reasonable they seem to those who made them, are anything but:

 

  • We demand that University of Missouri System President, Tim Wolfe, writes a hand-written apology to Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 demonstrators and holds a press conference in the Mizzou Student Center reading the letter. In the letter and at the press conference, Tim Wolfe must acknowledge his white privilege, recognize that systems of oppression exist, and provide a verbal commitment to fulfilling Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 demands.
  • We demand the immediate removal of Tim Wolfe as UM system president. After his removal, a new amendment to the UM system policies must be established to have all future UM system president and Chancellor positions be selected by a collective of students, staff, and faculty of diverse backgrounds.
  • We demand that the University of Missouri creates and enforces comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum throughout all campus departments and units, mandatory for all students, faculty, staff and administration. This curriculum must be vetted, maintained, and overseen by a board comprised of students, staff and faculty of color.
  • We demand that by the academic year 2017-18, the University of Missouri increases the black faculty and staff members campus-wide by 10 percent.
  • We demand that the University of Missouri increases funding, resources and personnel for the social justice centers on campus for the purpose of hiring additional professionals, particularly those of color, boosting outreach and programming across campus and increasing campus-wide awareness and visibility.

 

It takes a certain mindset to call on your dean to apologize and resign while acknowledging his “privilege,” urge the creation of mandatory “racial awareness curriculum,” demand that more black faculty and staff are on campus (regardless of their performance) and fund “social justice centers” which prefer hiring people of color. It takes the mind of a snobbish college student who has never experienced the real world to insist on such childish objectives.

By no means is the Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 alone in their demands, as many other college students have called for their administrators to step down. While being genuinely concerned about discrimination and hateful acts on campus is more than reasonable, demanding that certain staff are hired and certain staff are fired crosses the line – after all, these colleges and universities have invited their students to come, not the other way around.

However unreasonable and sanctimonious the demands directed to college faculty may be, the faculty are certainly not innocent in the transformation of their universities into expensive daycares.

Ultimately, the Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 group won, and on Nov. 9 of 2016, Wolfe resigned as President of the University of Missouri, falling to the pressure and demands of the students. It was, above all else, his greatest mistake.

The greatest problem of modern college staff is, undoubtedly, their weakness for needing funding. Faced with the possibility of student, and therefore alumni, backlash, they are quicker to back down and give in to student demands than to assert themselves.

Instead of Wolfe earnestly defending his performance and position, he folded on the belief that “the customer is always right.” To keep college students and their parents’ wallets attending courses each year, university staff have allowed their campuses to suffer and degrade into what are genuinely daycare centers for entitled millennials.

Both have “safe spaces,” where tired and emotional children can go to take a break from their activities or to be isolated from differing ideological opinions while in the company of their like-minded friends. And above all else, neither daycares nor modern American colleges are really dedicated to educating their students, as one may teach a three-year-old the three primary colors over the course of the year while the other instructs self-flagellating students on how to dismantle systems of power and shed their internalized oppression.

And who ultimately is behind this? The parents willing to pay and the deans, presidents and chancellors all too willing to accept whatever money they have to offer. Higher education is dead, and they, these parents dedicated to obtaining the best for their children, have killed it.

Colleges, regardless of their for-profit or non-profit status, and like any other business, must have a steady supply of income to operate. And, as it just so happens, offering outlandish courses and caving into the demands of modern leftist students manages to more than keep the lights on. Wolfe, then, made a calculated move likely prodded by alumni and advisors to keep the tuition flowing.

If the exponential growth in the support of very left-leaning politicians such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren among young Americans is any metric for how left-of-center millennial college students are becoming, then it only makes sense that American universities would either voluntarily (or more often be forced to) shift their own politics.

Thus, the political force that is the wave of entitled and self-righteous millennials swarming into American higher education has pinned many college administrations in a troubling situation of either being forced to give in and let the toddlers run the daycare, or suffer a PR massacre with future enrollees and alumni. To save American higher education, the nature of the modern college must change.  

Keep Civics Civil

EthanBenn, Staff Reporter

Over the past year, which featured a major and unprecedented presidential election and several special congressional elections, there has been no greater taboo between friends, family and peers than politics. Bringing up a hot button issue is a surefire way to stop any discussion dead in its tracks while also ruining healthy relationships.

That’s why it was so surprising when on Tuesday, Sept. 19, the audience of the Johns Creek Mayoral debate witnessed candidates passing the microphone back and forth while lightly joking around with each other. This, around a year after a campaign season in which two presidential candidates repeatedly traded barbs (and worse), and which featured one candidate following the other as she answered questions, was truly a pleasant surprise.

The candidates at this debate, hosted here at Chattahoochee High School by the Johns Creek Student Leadership Council, avoided personal attacks and defamatory remarks in favor of real issues and real policy for their constituents – rather than resort to puerile name calling, each candidate, running for either the Mayor or City-Council Posts 1, 3 or 5, did their best to explain their platform on an array of issues ranging from city development and density to autonomous vehicles and traffic.

In a political climate defined by an unwillingness to compromise and a devotion to one’s own side, there were no “(R)s” or “(D)s” to label which party the candidates belonged to: they were themselves, political parties of one. When given the chance to make a rebuttal, the candidates mostly agreed with their opponents. Instead of reaching across the aisle, these candidates made sure there wasn’t one in the first place.

Comparing that two-hour debate to over a year of debates, speeches and rallies often filled with angry and empty rhetoric makes it plain to see that local elections, and those who participate in them, have something which congressional and presidential candidates lack – authenticity. Bereft of cliché campaign slogans and million-dollar ads, the future Councilmen, Councilwomen and Mayor responded to questions about issues that mattered to them and their constituents without screaming at their opponents.

Unfortunately, it seems that Johns Creek residents, and most Americans, are suffering from a serious case of political burnout and apathy. Having both a presidential election and a special congressional election so close together in our local area have eclipsed the importance of our local election. In a town of over 80,000 people, less than an auditorium of concerned citizens arrived to listen to their future leaders speak about issues that affect their everyday lives: no Johns Creek resident nor American wants to spend their days stuck in traffic or have green space turned into industrial park after industrial park, but few speak up and participate.

The drama and foul gossip of larger elections are, in all likelihood, more interesting than local leaders listing their objectives such as reducing traffic, supporting local business developments and shifting the tax base. But if Americans and Johns Creek residents are truly tired of an exhausting political climate, they should look to local politics to be reminded of what governance should look like.

With news stories and scandals seemingly coming out of Washington D.C. at a constant pace, it’s strange that more Americans, and especially more Johns Creek residents, have not trained their eyes to the politics happening just down the street from them. While many Johns Creek residents might not be listening to the civil discussions happening in their own backyard, they can at the very least be certain that their local government leaders are striving to keep civics civil.

 

The Good and the Bad

CarolineKurzawa, Staff Reporter

I’m sure we have all had teachers at some point in our education that have driven us up the wall, and I’m also sure that we’ve all had teachers we loved. While all teachers have a demanding job, some make the school day extremely difficult for students while other teachers provide an exciting environment that encourages learning. Through my thirteen years in the Fulton County school system, I’ve had my share of excellent teachers who have inspired me, but I’ve also suffered through classes taught by teachers who made it difficult for me to want to learn. Below are some of the qualities I have noticed in my best and worst teachers, in no particular order:

“The Good” “The Bad”
Return all assignments in a timely manner and offer advice on how to improve Never return assignments
Develop a relationship with their students Wait until the last second to enter grades, if they manage to do it at all
Provide a helpful and kind environment Complain about how many assignments they have to grade while continuing to assign busywork
Are a sounding board for their students Bring overly political views into the classroom
Make themselves available to help students who need extra instruction Make offensive comments about a student based on their race or sex
Build up their students’ confidence Constantly change deadlines
Follow through on promises Are constantly unavailable for students seeking help sessions
Spark students’ interest for learning Belittle a student in front of the class
Provide meaningful assignments that will help students master the material or skill Fail to teach the curriculum
Make their class something students look forward to attending Constantly remind the students how much they dislike their job and/or the county they work for

End of School Splash

The school year is coming to an end. Finals are almost here; seniors have decided that school is irrelevant and everyone is planning what they are doing for the rest of the summer. But one thought lingers in the back of everyone’s mind…how are they going to spend the last day of the school year. In case maybe you have no idea what you could do to celebrate the technical first day of summer, this article might help you in coming up with some ideas. First thing first is the most basic of all, at least in my neighborhood. Two words…water fight! The last day of school everyone gets off the bus or out of their car and suddenly are bombarded with water balloons and squirt guns. By the end of the first hour, we are drenched and completely oblivious to the inch of water in our shoes. As you get older, it becomes a little lame to be with a bunch of middle school kids on the last day of school so I got a few other selections for you. When talking to Josh Selby he said on the last day of school “I usually hang out with my friends and we’ll go to the Georgia mill and just swim and eat lunch, I guess this year I’ll be at graduation so it might be different. This year I’ll most likely spend the last day of school at a graduation party”. Senior year is a different game and even the end isn’t the end because even after you’ve finished classes you still have pre-graduation, graduation, and all the parties that follow. But for those of you non-seniors I still have some kick-butt suggestions. “On the last day of school my family always goes to the neighborhood pool party. There are BBQ and so many fun games that they set up” (Emily Jones). However, at the end of the day, it’s the last day of school and no matter what you do make sure you spend it with your family and friends because you only get a limited amount of last days of school.