I’m glad I chose RIC

Catherine Enos –Opinions editor

Three years ago, I transferred to RIC from CCRI. In high school and in my first two years of college, I was never an involved student and I didn’t know what I wanted to pursue. This changed the semester I came to RIC.

Coming here, I didn’t know anyone and didn’t know what to expect. I’ll admit, the first semester was miserable and I was in a field of study that I wasn’t enjoying. RIC presented me with so many opportunities to change this.

The first thing I did was change my major to political science. Before I changed to political science, it was always something I had been interested in but I didn’t think it was suitable for me– this couldn’t be further from the truth. In my three years in the department, I’ve met some of my favorite people and have been interested in everything the department had to offer.

RIC has afforded me a lot of other opportunities, too. I’ve been able to work with The Anchor as the opinions editor for the past two years. For almost the same amount of time, I’ve been a member of Student Community Government, Inc. In both of these organizations, I’ve learned a lot of useful information, even if it’s unrelated to the career I want to pursue later in life.

I know that RIC isn’t perfect. In fact, it’s far from it. But RIC has an illustrious history (which I’ve been able to study more deeply with the help of Professor Lopes in the special collections of the library). It’s the oldest of all the public schools and it’s been through a rapid transformation, from being a teaching school to becoming a school that offers so much more.

RIC is unlike any other school in Rhode Island. Every day, there are people that I meet that I’m in awe of. I’d argue that most people I’ve met here are the hardest working individuals I’ve ever met. When I graduate on May 11, I’ll be proud to say that I graduated from Rhode Island College.

I know that I made the right choice in choosing RIC.

The Finals Marathon

Alison Macbeth –Assistant Opinions Editor

It’s that time of the year – anxiety, breakouts and stress-eating to get through the end of the semester pileup. No matter how much coffee you drink, it feels like you will never have enough time to finish every project, paper and assignment. Surviving finals is like running a marathon. It takes persistence, determination and pluck. But that grit doesn’t start the last week of the semester.

Succeeding in finals is very similar to finishing a marathon. Runners must train, practice and prepare. However, many students treat finals like a sprint. They don’t prepare for the 26 mile grueling run, but rather for a hundred meter dash. This looks like long nights of cramming for the next exam and crossing fingers when submitting the paper.

However, if more students saw finals season as finishing a marathon they would have a vision throughout the semester. What I mean by vision is as nerdy as this: start studying for your finals at the beginning of the semester. Now, what I don’t mean is literally start studying for your finals after your first class, but rather listen in class, take notes and of course – be there! This is the training part of the marathon process.

The next thing marathoners do is practice. Professors often give readings, quizzes and study guides that culminate in a final exam. Completing homework as a way of preparing for the final will relieve the burden of learning material while you’re trying to cram for an exam.

Lastly, marathoners finish the marathon. They eat well the day of the race, sleep and continue healthy habits so that they are in tip top shape for the race. Students need to do the same by taking walking breaks and filling up on good snacks. Stay strong, dear student.

Now if you have not practiced these techniques this semester, don’t fret! You can still excel! Simply don’t wait until the last minute to start your project or paper. No matter how much you prepare, finals will always be challenging.

Remember there are a lot of people on the sidelines cheering for you.

In response to Hollywood’s College Admission scandal

Alexis Rapoza –Anchor Staff

Graphic Courtesy of Page Six

In season one of “Desperate Housewives,” Felicity Huffman’s character, Lynette Scavo, desperately wants her twin sons to be admitted to an elite private school; she says “A generous donation will ensure our kids beat ‘em out.” The amount of that generous donation? Fifteen thousand dollars.

So why exactly does this matter? Felicity Huffman was recently one of 50 people charged in bribing college admission counselors and coaches in order for their children to gain admission to top schools. Ironically, Felicity Huffman paid an SAT prep teacher $15,000 to correct her daughter’s answers on the test and aid her in completing her college entrance exam. I guess sometimes life really does imitate art.

So why do I, a Rhode Island College student, care about what happens at colleges that I don’t even attend? The answer is simple: Felicity Huffman and the other 49 people charged in this scandal are examples of the privileges people in the top 10 percent have over those of us who don’t have the ability to pay off coaches and admissions officers.

Children of celebrities and people born into money are at birth assigned certain privileges that inevitably provide them with several advantages. At a young age, they have access to elite elementary and high schools and highly qualified private tutors, as well as built in connections with whichever career field their family members are in. To be honest, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

I think using the opportunities and resources provided to you is excellent, but what I don’t think is fair is when people like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin use money and bribery to secure their child’s luxurious education. Lori Loughlin allegedly paid the rowing coach at the University of Southern California $50,000 to designate her two daughters as “recruits” to the rowing team even though neither of them had ever rowed before. Loughlin’s daughters took two spots away from students who could’ve potentially gained admission to USC and rowed for the team. Those two spots could’ve been filled by someone who actually rowed rather than someone who proudly stated that they “don’t really even care about school.”

This college admission scandal shines a light on how unfair college admissions truly are. People with money and of high social status are almost guaranteed admission to top schools, while low and middle class students are staying up all night studying for the SATs and are rejected not because of their capability, but because of a rich person’s bribe.

College enrollment rates are rising and this scandal leads me to wonder if higher education is truly that — education, or if it’s a business disguising itself as education. Recently I discovered that USC’s motto is “PALMAM QUI MERUIT FERAT” which translates to “let whoever earns the palm bear it.”

I have to wonder if some of the students there earn it, or did they pay for it? Let’s ask Aunt Becky.

Considering Atheism (Part 2)

This article is a continuation of the argument made in our March 4 issue.  

Victor Martelle – Technology Director

Atheists are those who are primarily unconvinced of the justification for faith. These proposed justifications come in claims as evidence and arguments, and in hopes of answering the why question, I will attempt to address the more popular ones I’ve come across from an atheistic perspective.

The first matter I will take aim at is that of not knowing. There are many unknowns in science, for example, we don’t know what precisely sparked life on this planet. It then goes that God must have done it. By that standard, I could equally proclaim a unicorn twirled its tail and poof – out came the universe. Not knowing is the most correct answer we have to these questions and with the advancement of science, I’m confident we’ll find a naturalistic answer to these, as we always have.

Other arguments I often hear is that there is evidence for a god. This usually takes the form of prophecy, personal experience, and internet inquiry. Prophecy is found by almost all religions, many of which, when interpreted a certain way, could be viewed as correct. I emphasize “interpreted,” as prophecies aren’t usually explicit. Even if a fulfilled prophecy were to be unambiguous, does this prove the religion is correct, and how does this show a god exists?

Personal experience and internet inquiry are similar. If you look online for evidence of God (internet inquiry), you’d find many results of people seemingly experiencing a godly possession in a church or a religious leader performing healing. You may have even experienced some of these first hand. None of this however, is generally accepted as credible evidence. According to neuroscience, we know the brain can experience hallucinations and episodes depending on the circumstance. Not surprisingly, then, is that these possessions occur in many religions.

Healing the sick is also shared by various religions and often chalked up by skeptics as short-term placebos. Even if a person had healing abilities, why aren’t they putting it to the test of science or going to hospitals healing the sick?

There are also many other arguments to consider, and if you’ve felt I misrepresented one or I need to consider another, let me know! And if you are still confused as to why atheists are atheist, I will end with a quote from Stephen Roberts, “When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

Graphic courtesy of Seb Agresti

Is Tik Tok the new Vine?

Catherine Enos –Opinions editor

Vine was easily the greatest thing to happen to internet humor. The 6-second video format produced some surprisingly hilarious and viral memes that are still around today (if you search “Vine compilations” on YouTube, there are thousands of multi-million viewed videos). It was different from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or any social media platform. And then, at the end of 2016, Twitter (who had acquired Vine in 2012) decided to shut the app down. It was a blow to internet humor. Memes obviously still proliferate on social media, but there was something unique about these quick, creative and niche memes that Vine pushed out.

Musical.ly was another app known for short videos but it was mostly odd hand-dancing or lip syncing videos (and was the laughing stock of the internet). But something happened a year and a half after Vine shut down. Musical.ly was bought by another nearly-identical platform called Tik Tok. The app was steered towards a different direction– closer to humor and further away from the lip-syncing.

Today, the app is vastly different from what it was just a few years ago and closer to Vine. It offers a longer video time at 60 seconds, but the videos people make tend to be shorter. It can create some Vine-like video loops, while also allowing people to tell longer jokes.

It also has some features that Vine didn’t have– like being able to use another Tik Tok user’s audio over an original video, or allowing “duets” (a feature where a user films their video next to another video). The algorithm is a little different than Vine, too. On Vine, you could scroll for a while on the trending page, but you’d eventually reach an end. On Tik Tok, you can scroll for hours and still keep watching.

With all this being said, Vine set the foundation for apps like Tik Tok. It may have had its problems, but there was more originality. Tik Tok tends to be more “trendy” with people repeating and recreating the same exact meme (while still being funny). Vine would start off with a meme and people put their own spin on it (I’m thinking of all the “what are those?” spinoff Vines: an exasperated grandma replying “these are my crocs!” and Jurassic Park dinosaurs wearing shoes).

So, is Tik Tok the new Vine? The answer is no. Tik Tok is Tik Tok. But the only reason Tik Tok exists is because it has the foundation that Vine had set for it. Either way, both apps are great (or were great, in Vine’s case) and provide somewhere between seconds and hours of entertainment.

Back to Three Credits

Alison Macbeth –Assistant Opinions Editor

Most of us don’t realize that RIC’s four credit course system is not the norm for American colleges. Several years ago, RIC adopted this method as a solution that allowed people to graduate on time. However, this may not support quality education for all RIC students.

A majority of colleges have a three credit system which meets three times a week for a 50 minute session. Students typically take five classes and upon completion would receive 15 credits a semester. The University of Rhode Island and Brown use this credit system. RIC used to have a majority of three credit classes for many years before switching to our current four credit class.

Four credit classes run twice a week for 1 hour and 50 minutes. Technically, professors are supposed to give a ten minute break in the middle (that doesn’t always happen). Those who advocated for the 4 credit system believed that this schedule would be a better fit for RIC students’ work calendars and busy lives. This system allows students to complete requirements more quickly, by locking down sixteen credits a semester.

However, RIC students are losing out on the opportunity to expand their research and understanding with the five classes. Simply, RIC students are exposed to less topics and courses that are important to a liberal arts education. Four credit classes leave a student with approximately 32 course topics at graduation while a three credit system gives a graduate about 40 courses in an eight semester plan.

Similarly, although the 1 hour and 50 minute structure seems comparable,  the class is often the same in content as a three credit course. Therefore, students are jipped from the depth of their education with a wide spectrum of topics.

Although we might be in it too deep to change the system back to four credits, it is worth thinking about the ramifications of this plan, and develop ways to counteract these effects. Ensuring that professors are teaching four credits worth of material is an important first step along with quality experiential learning to engage students for the longer class period.

Accessibility for the typical RIC student’s schedule is important; however, quality education is equally important. Many other universities prescribe the three credit system and so it should be vital for the RIC administration to reevaluate if four credit classes serve the mission and excellence of RIC students.

#Metoo and #Himtoo can coexist

Alexis Raposa –Anchor Staff

Countless women and men who’ve been victims of sexual violence have used #MeToo as a way to share their stories to bring awareness to the growing rate of sexual violence. But just like with any movement, #MeToo has its own set of vocal criticizers. Some people claim that those using the hashtag are capitalizing on the movement to get attention or that the victim was simply asking for it by wearing provocative clothes. But the most popular criticism of the #MeToo movement is that the victims were simply lying, and that the real victims are the men being falsely accused.

#HimToo is a counter movement against the false accusations of men committing sexual violence. While I don’t disagree entirely with #HimToo, I think it’s important to point out that this movement is based on discrediting the victims of sexual violence rather than bringing justice to false accusations. In fact, based on a study done by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, only about two percent of reported sexual violence cases are deemed false. Two percent is not a big number especially when only about sixty-three percent of sexual violence victims report to the police and even less make it to trial. #HimToo is a movement being used to victimize men instead of focusing on the actual problem.

When discussing sexual violence, we mostly talk about it being a crime against women which is mostly true. About one in three women will be victims of sexual violence, but at the same time one in six men will be victims. Men are more likely to be victims of sexual assault or rape than they are of being falsely accused of committing sexual violence. Likewise, male victims are even less likely to seek medical attention or report these crimes.

We need to normalize the reporting of sexual violence and make it so men, women and non-binary people feel comfortable enlisting the help of law enforcement. Talking about these crimes is the first step of combating rape culture. So while I empathize with the men who are falsely accused of sexual assault or rape, I don’t think #Himtoo should be done in order to silence those who are actual victims.

Both conversations can coexist without speaking over each other; a lesson everyone can learn, especially in  today’s political climate.

Considering atheism (Part 1)

Victor Martelle –Technology Director

Atheists are a largely undiscussed and misunderstood population.

Pew Research suggests 45 percent of Americans state that belief is necessary to have good values, and astonishingly, a plethora of studies propose atheists are at trust levels of rapists. When it comes to voting with respect to religion, a 2015 Gallup poll claims Americans would vote for a Christian (95 percent), a Muslim (60 percent), and at the bottom of the list, an atheist (58 percent). Some states even forbid atheists from holding office. Perhaps, consequently, not a single person in Congress identifies as an atheist.

I believe this discrimination arises from perceived origination of morality. What I gather from these statistics is that many people wouldn’t trust an atheist like myself, primarily based on my moral standing aired by my atheism. How could they though, when I ultimately have no divine laws to adhere to? In the words of Steve Harvey, “…if you don’t believe in God, then where is your moral barometer?” A thought-provoking question! Where do my morals come from? How can you trust me if I seemingly have none?

If we want a direct answer, we can look toward science and philosophy. From there, one can make a case that morals are deeply rooted in evolution and culture, where even right and wrong are observed in other “non-religious” intelligent species.

Morals have also changed throughout time with the advancement of philosophies, ideas and laws. So much so, that even some teachings that were once followed in many of the popular religions are now disregarded or excused. From this evidence, it looks as though morals are built through many years of both Darwinian and philosophical evolution.

While atheists are not bound to laws set by a god, truth be told, you can still trust them as much as anyone else. Hypothetically, if you decided to be atheist, would you suddenly become unhinged? Unless you can cut evolution, the answer is almost certainly not. And if you’re confident that you would indeed abandon your morals under this circumstance, then perhaps the atheist barometer shouldn’t be questioned, your individual self-control ought to be instead.

Putting morals aside, the more important, immediate question is “why?” Why do I and other atheists not believe in something that so many people do? Maybe there is some merit to it.

In next week’s article, I will be answering this question, and perhaps even convince you that atheism is a sensible and reasonable position.

The greatest horror movie ever

Derek Sherlock –Anchor Staff

“When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.” This is the tagline from George A. Romero’s 1978 horror classic “Dawn of the Dead.” I have seen hundreds upon hundreds of horror movies from all over the world, old and new, but I believe “Dawn of the Dead” is the best film in the history of horror cinema.

It is both iconic and influential – one of the reasons it is superior to other classic films such as the original “The Thing,” “Halloween,” and “Jaws.” Some might argue that Romero’s first film “Night of the Living Dead” is his best film, but I believe that it set the bar for horror movies after its release in 1968. “Dawn of the Dead” is the genesis of modern horror movies in terms of slow burning terror, its special effects and storyline. Although it is about zombies, it is not just another zombie movie. “Dawn of the Dead” further expanded the lore of the flesh-eating ghouls. Many zombie-esque films take their cues from this film.

Some skeptics might believe the film to be dated because it is a product of the 1970s, but the satire the movie possesses still resonates today. In “Dawn of the Dead,” Romero compares the zombies, who aimlessly shamble around a mall, to the un-living-dead who walk around malls shopping for the latest thing to hit shelves. Just go to Providence Place Mall on a weekend and observe so many people mindlessly buying products.

In comparison to his first zombie film, Romero’s characters are more fleshed out (no pun intended), showing his growth as a director. It has spearheaded the splatter-house type of films that made up the 1980’s horror films like “The Thing,” “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Friday the 13th.”

I wish many horror movies today would be like “Dawn of the Dead.” Instead, we are stuck with the same old jump-scare-gore-fest type movies like “Saw.” If the greatest horror director, George A. Romero were here, things would be different. I doubt we’ll have another like him.

Trash collection won’t save our coastline. Governor Raimondo, will you?

Lucille DiNaro -Business Manager

Rhode Island, known for its 400 miles of coastline, is projected to witness sea level rise up to nine feet by the year 2100. Talk about ‘Ocean State.’ Governor Gina Raimondo’s response? Allocate an additional $1.5 million to the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). Underwhelmed? Disappointed? Me too. While I’m always happy to hear that our government is investing in state parks, a more efficient maintenance staff at Misquamicut Beach isn’t going to protect us from the consequences of climate change. As the Governor of Rhode Island, a state extremely vulnerable to sea level rise, flooding and erosion, Raimondo can do better.

The $1.5 million that Raimondo’s parks initiative calls for will be used to support the personnel costs of eight new employees at the DEM; six maintenance staff and two business development officers. This comes with the hope that more maintenance staff will ensure that basic needs of patrons are met, such as clean facilities and bathrooms. This initiative is accompanied by a proposed 33 percent fee increase at beaches and campgrounds statewide. The assumption here is that well maintained parks will draw more patrons, and the more time people spend outside the better apt the state is to produce environmentally conscious citizens. If you’re looking for impactful legislation, this is not it.

With little to no organization or consensus on climate change at the federal level, it is up to the states to be proactive about waste reduction, clean business practices and incentivizing choice. Sustainable business practices don’t just happen overnight. Unless it is a personal choice or it is cost efficient, no business owner is going to completely overhaul their day to day operations over a climate prediction. No school system is going to hire additional custodial staff to ensure proper waste management and recycling. And the list goes on. My frustration with Raimondo’s park’s initiative lies in her lack of urgency and foresight. For someone who has stated that she wants to “…make sure that our kids have the same opportunities that we did,” this $1.5 million check to the DEM doesn’t cut it.

It’s no secret that coastal resiliency, flood management, and waste management are critically important to the future health of our state. Members of the General Assembly have proposed excellent legislation this session that addresses climate change head on. Our legislators are working diligently to ensure schools comply with recycling and composting laws, retailers cut down on plastics, and greenhouse gas emission goals are met; and that barely scratches the surface. When these bills reach Raimondo’s desk, I hope they earn her signature.

Climate change is always a tough budget item to negotiate. With limited resources, prioritizing climate change can be hard to rationalize. However, in a state with a traveller economy, environmental resilience is of the utmost importance. In her next four years as Governor, I implore Governor Raimondo to support our legislators and to support Rhode Island.