Category Archives: Opinion

Wesleyan Co-Educates On-Campus Fraternities

The Greek life on campus at Wesleyan University is in for a major change from the traditional fraternity/sorority system, after university president Michael Roth announced to the campus that the three residential fraternities must begin the process of becoming co-educational organizations within the next three years.

Although for the past century the chapters of Beta Theta Pi, Delta Kappa Epsilon and Psi Upsilon have been strictly traditional, male-only fraternities, the time has finally come to change this. This in essence puts an end to the traditional gender norms that are typically associated with fraternities

“This change is something that Wesleyan and the fraternities have been contemplating for many years, and now the time has come,” said Roth in an email sent out to Wesleyan students.  “The University looks forward to receiving plans from the residential fraternities to co-educate, after which it will work closely with them to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

Although this co-education won’t apply to nonresidential single-gender societies just yet, making this monumental change to the residential societies is a good first step.  Administrators at Wesleyan University are hopeful that they can continue to make on-campus student groups more inclusive and equitable for all students, thus creating a safer campus for all in the process.

In March, the Psi Upsilon chapter at Wesleyan faced a lawsuit regarding an alleged rape at a pledge party for the fraternity the previous spring semester.  Another rape lawsuit also threatened against the Beta Theta Pi chapter, which was featured on the cover of the Atlantic. All this lead up to students, faculty and alumni of Wesleyan joining together to create a petition asking fraternities to start admitting women into their chapters back in April.

This semester the debate began again following an incident of a female student falling out of a window of the Beta fraternity house; resulting in the University declaring the frat house off limits to students.

The university claims that its decision is not in response to any single incident, but it can be assumed that the change is a result of all of these occurrences.

Wesleyan follows in the footsteps of Trinity College, which changed its policy over a combination of high-profile scandals and a report that found that students in single-sex Greek organizations were more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Additionally, students in those organizations have lower grades than the average student at Trinity College, where the report was done.

The university explained that it wanted the transition to be gradual, which is why it gave the organizations three years to become fully co-educational, according to Kate Carlisle, university media and public relations manager, in an interview with the Wesley Anargus, the school’s newspaper.

“People pledge and some people graduate, so three years seemed to be an appropriate and optimal amount of time to give the fraternities to develop a coeducation plan with the help of Student Affairs and come up with something that would be a meaningful and qualified response to this,” said Carlisle.

The university’s student government presented the resolutions which enacted the change as a part of a set of policies to end rape culture and prevent sexual assault on the campus. The university is hoping that taking this step will help to create an equitable and safe learning environment on campus.

Find a Hobby: Spice Up Life

By Acadia Otlowski

Whenever it seems like someone may have too much time on their hands, those around them often joke, “Get a hobby.”

But kidding aside, having a hobby is an extraordinarily important aspect of living a healthy life. Without hobbies, life becomes unbalanced, all about work and less about play. And while work is important, it can become overwhelming when there is nothing else.

By hobby, I do not mean sitting on the couch and watching television. Hobbies should be something constructive, an escape from the doldrums of life.

To put it simply, a good hobby puts the spice back in life. Whether you are under stimulated or over stimulated, a hobby will either provide a challenge or a break, depending on what you need in your life.

Over the weekend I indulged in my own hobby, hula hooping. I went to a flow arts and fire spinning retreat called Wildfire, which features a group of people learning to manipulate objects to produce complex patterns and illusions. Then to take those same skills and transfer them to objects lit on fire.

Everyone there had that one thing in common. And so when we came together at a Boy Scout camp in Ashford, Connecticut, suddenly spinning transformed from a solitary activity to a communal one. There were classes and spontaneous skill-sharing circles.

This is another benefit of having a hobby you are willing to spend a little time with. Hobbies will draw together a different group of people into being friends, simply because of the shared interest. This is a better group of friends than say, friends from school or friends from your job, because often the place where you became friends is all you have in common.

With a hobby it is different. You can connect with a group of people and bond over the exchange of ideas related to the hobby the group shares.

What I saw at Wildfire was that these idea-sharing sessions resulted in a flood of new ideas, further increasing the benefits of the hobby.

But the most important concept behind hobbies is the idea of relaxing and staving off burnout. We work so hard in our daily lives that sometimes we forget to focus on us. When we dedicate too much of our lives to our jobs, we get tired and uninspired. A good hobby should prevent this.

Spinning has become and escape from reality, a balancing factor in my life. This should be the affect of a good hobby. Instead of fully becoming my schoolwork and job, I have a separate identity in which to escape into.

It should be something that will make you happy and even out the negatives in life. It might take some time to find the hobby that inspires you to the point of passion. It doesn’t have to be complicated or as obscure as object manipulation. It may take a little more effort than sitting on the couch eating chips, but in the end it will be so much more satisfying.

 

When the Water Balloon Will Not Break

By Matt Knox

As a child, on one of many trips to visit my wild assortment of relatives residing in Oregon, I found myself in possession of a water balloon. It was a nice light blue, and erring on the small side. I became very attached to that balloon and acted as its protector throughout the trip. That is, until it was time to go and I threw it from the balcony of my 3rd floor hotel room, down onto the concrete sidewalk. It didn’t break. Not even after a second toss. Obviously, it must have been a magical, unbreakable water balloon and I needed to keep it. That’s when I decided that I would smuggle it on the airplane in my carry-on bag, wrapped in a paper towel. No one in the airport gave my bag a second glance so I was in the clear. Once, home the balloon took up residence somewhere in my room where the water inside slowly evaporated and left the balloon a miniature pancake of sticky blue plastic.

Just the other day I recalled this incident. Being much older at this point, I saw it in a much different light. It struck me that water balloons bare a slight resemblance to our lives in the way that they react to stress. A larger balloon is more fragile and much easier to break, while a smaller balloon can withstand harder impacts. The balloons are our lives. The water inside is similar to the things that make up our life. The people, the objects, our dreams, and everything else we deem important.

I believe that each person has gravity. This gravity can be powered by any number of things like: good looks, great personality, money, and success. They are the things that keep people coming back to you again and again. When it come to gravity, the farther away an object is, the weaker the force will be upon it. My point here is that while it is great to have lots of friends and people around, it can also be a hindrance. It is easy to spread yourself too thin when trying to keep relations with so many people. I’ve found it best to find only those that play a pivotal role, and hold them close. Some of you might say that this is a limiting technique. You might ask, why not see the full potential?

I have always been a logical person. I like to think things through before I do them and realize all consequences. If I see bad ones, I might still do it. If I see good ones, I might still not. But I rarely ever run into any troubles in my daily life and I attribute this to my lifestyle. And of course that magical water balloon of many years ago too.

A Woman’s Issues with Women’s Issues

by Brooke Karanovich

Modern feminism is quite a bit to comprehend. Some call it feminism, others refer to it through a new branding: “neo-feminism.” Whatever you might call it, modern feminism is very different than the feminism of days past that called for more equality.

While it would be a gross overstatement to say that complete and total equality has been achieved for men and women, things have gotten better. Women are equal citizens to men. We have more rights and abilities than ever before.

Despite all of these advances, there are still certain things that are referred to as “women’s issues.” To have women’s issues is interesting, and in some ways definitely okay. However some of them are not just “women’s issues,” they are issues of fairness, equality, and the struggle against sexism.

Feminism at its core is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, including all various forms of equality. My question is: why are women’s issues only a woman’s issue? And an even larger question: how are there women in the world who are against feminism and feminist agendas?

Modern feminism can often turn into hardcore man-hating feminism, and it is understandable when women do not want to participate in that. I do not understand, though, how women can ignore that society is not all equal, and can continue to denounce feminism and feminist agendas.

When I encounter anti-feminist sentiment, I have to take a minute to stop and consider where it’s coming from. And when I find that the feelings originate from a female, I have to stop and consider what this woman might be thinking.

Most of the time, I come to the conclusion that women hate on feminism and other feminists due to blatant ignorance. And ignorance is no excuse to disparage a social movement, especially one as important as feminism.

Feminism can be a very loud movement. Feminists are in your face and they have to be because it seems like the feminist agenda often gets shoved under the rug. This is often the biggest reason I’ve encountered that women hate on feminists: they are loud and proud to be fighting for women’s rights.

A prime example of loud, in-your-face feminism is the SlutWalk. In Toronto, many years ago, a police officer suggested that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” to avoid getting raped. From this comment sprung a walk to bring issues like this into the light: a rape culture in which women need to avoid dressing a certain way so that they have a better chance of not getting raped – which places all of them blame on them.

Now every year, women dress like “sluts” and demonstrate in a walk against rape culture and the original comment made by the police officer that blamed women for the rape culture that we live in. Women are loud about this issue so that people recognize that it is indeed an issue, and that it needs to be addressed.

Feminism is an important social movement that brings to light women’s rights issues in a variety of settings and times. Whether it be the SlutWalk, to bring to light the victim blaming rape culture that today’s women live in and deal with, or any other women’s issues, feminism is important because it is the only discipline in which women’s rights are exclusively discussed and advocated for. And all women should recognize this, despite smaller aspects that they may find issues with.

 

Time to Warm Up to Climate Change

by Sean Begin

Over 300,000 people descended on New York City on Sunday for the People’s Climate March, calling for action from the international community over the growing global warming issue. The march comes as the United Nations prepares to meet for a summit to discuss climate change.

The idea of global warming has been around for some time, often assailed by critics who call it a hoax. But large amounts of studies exist showing that the Earth continues to get warmer while countries continue to pump out more and more greenhouse gases.

While it’s true the planet goes through cycles of warming and cooling, it’s become clear that humans have made a major impact on the natural cycle, perhaps irreversibly.

The Global Carbon Project, which tracks emissions levels across the world, recently released numbers showing that world greenhouse gas emissions increased 2.3 percent in 2013 to record highs.

From an article in the Sunday NY Times: “The nations of the world have agreed to try to limit the warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which would require that emissions slow down and largely stop in the next 30 years or so. If they continue on their present course through the century, scientists say that the earth could warm by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit above the preindustrial level. This would likely be incompatible with human civilization in its current form.”

The march in New York City on Sunday was part of protests occurring around the world trying to call attention to this issue, which continues to be ignored as if it’s a mere inconvenience.

As usual though, politics and division will likely stand in the way of any significant change.

The UN summit that happened on Tuesday was one of the largest of its kind. But like most meetings before, it was a divide among rich and poor nations.

From a separate article in the NY Times on Saturday: “If history is any guide, the rich countries of the world will say how concerned they are about the damage their emissions of heat-trapping gases are causing. The poor countries — whose people have done little to contribute to global warming but stand to suffer the most from it because of their vulnerability to rising seas and weather extremes — will point out that this professed concern never seems to translate into sufficient action.”

To date, most of the work to fight climate change has been big on talk but small on action. Emission levels continue to skyrocket at an alarming rate and the temperatures this summer were the highest ever recorded, both attesting to the fact that Earth is getting warmer.

With the mountains of evidence showing support for a warming climate, it’s hard to imagine that anything will change as long countries continue to divide themselves along financial lines. If scientists are correct and the planet becomes increasingly hotter, it could signal a slow extinction for humanity.

As fresh water reserves running out, a warmer Earth would make it difficult to grow crops. And as one protestors sign at the march on Sunday proclaimed: “There is No Planet B.”

Despite a Lost Season, an Ace Makes a Return

by Sean Begin

Masahiro Tanaka signed with the New York Yankees in January for seven years and $155 million. His contract includes an opt out clause after the 2017 season meaning at a minimum the Yankees could start him for four years.

At 25 years old this would give the Yankees control of some his best years of pitching, with a chance to again sign him long term before the 2018 season. Then came the worst start of his young career, when he gave up 10 hits and five runs over 6.2 innings to the Cleveland Indians on July 8.

The next day, Tanaka was in New York for an MRI, eventually being placed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. The injury was essentially a slight tear to his ulnar collateral ligament, the ligament most often associated with Tommy John surgery.

Rather than undergo the now widely-used procedure, Tanaka and Yankee’s doctors decided to rest and rehabilitate his elbow, hopefully avoiding surgery. Tanaka left the team having posted a 12-4 record with a 2.51 ERA, among the league leaders in both categories. He also struck out 135 batters while walking just 19.

As the summer wore on, Tanaka rested. Eventually he began light tossing before moving on to simulated games and full bullpen sessions. And on Sunday, he returned to the mound for the first time since July.

And he actually looked good.

He threw just 70 pitches but went 5.1 innings, with four strikeouts and zero walks, spreading around five hits and surrendering a single run. His pitches looked as sharp as they did before the injury.

This doesn’t mean Tanaka is out of hot water though. St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright went down a similar route. In an article by the NY Times’ Tyler Kepner, Wainwright explains how he first felt elbow discomfort in middle school.

Then, in middle school, he was diagnosed with a partial-UCL tear, which he rehabbed over surgery. It happened again while he was in AAA. But after another successful rehab, Wainwright pitched six years in the major, culminating in his All-Star 2010 season.

Wainwright had to have Tommy John surgery after that season, sidelining him for all of 2011 but he returned strong and has been an All-Star the last two years.

“You don’t want to have surgery unless you have to,” Wainwright said in the Kepner article. “We’ve been given ligaments and tendons that are much better than repaired ligaments and tendons. Any time they’re drilling holes in bones and putting things in, there’s risk involved. So don’t get it unless you need it.”

So, what does this mean for Tanaka and the Yankees?

Well, if the rehab proves as successful as Wainwright’s, it means the Yankees only lost Tanaka for two months of his rookie season. Had he had surgery, he’d be gone until 2016, essentially losing his first two years.

If Tanaka can follow Wainwright and pitch six more years, it’d be through those first four years of his contract until his opt out clause kicks in. And if something goes wrong further down the road, there’s still the option of surgery, which has an almost universal success rate.

So while the Yankees season may lie dead in the water at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles, Tanaka provided one last important spark, one last look at the potential of the 2015 Yankees rotation.