Bring back the convenience store

Derek Sherlock –Anchor Staff

I was writing a paper on campus over the weekend when I suddenly had a craving for some snacks. It dawned on me that we should have a mini convenience store on campus again.

For those who are new to the campus, the game room in the Student Union was formerly a mini-convenience store where you could buy candy, laundry detergent, canned soup, and other items you would find at a corner store. Last year it turned into the Hub and then The Game Room, and most of the items that were sold in the mini-mart were switched over to the bookstore. A major difference between the convenience store and the bookstore are hours of operation: the bookstore is only open during the week, whereas the mini-mart was open on weekends. Now, if someone runs out of laundry soap on a Friday night, the only option they have is to walk down to Family Dollar, CVS, or the Stop and Shop.

If we had a mini-mart or an old-time general store that is open longer hours and over the weekend, it would help students out tremendously. The convenience of a store across the road from the resident halls have, and could again, save students precious time if they are without a car. I would like to see Rhode Island College become a small hub of social life, similar to URI where a small town has been built around its campus. A convenience store would help create that environment.

While building a town around RIC would be out of the question, we could create a small village on campus for not only those who live on campus but those who commute. For nine months out of the year, RIC could be a home away from home without having to go far. This could ultimately benefit those of us who are lacking any real funds to travel out into Rhode Island, but want to have a bit of fun.

A mini-general store could be practice for young students to buy household items and perform household tasks, and it would benefit the overall environment of the college.

A case for individual grades in group projects

Kennedy Ryan –Anchor Staff

College students dread group projects. These assigned projects can include presentations, research and essays that end in a final shared grade. However, I think that group projects are not a successful educational strategy unless individual grades are assigned.

Office environments often involve collaboration. Many professors may feel that group assignments are excellent opportunities to develop work skills for students. However, professors do not realize that most group assignments involve individuals doing the majority of work.

In my experience with group work, similar to those of my peers, I have found that I take on the entire project. If I do not, pieces of the assignment will not be done. While most projects begin with a shared group effort, by the end I have needed to take on the most work.

Graphic Courtesy of Study Breaks Magazine

In my first semester of college, I was working on a group essay. I took on the majority of the writing, but split some of the work among my peers. In the end, my teammates did not submit their parts on time. While I did my full portion and completed it in a timely manner, I received a lower grade because of my teammates.

It’s understandable that people have different schedules while attending college. Most students are commuters and many work full time. As a result, scheduling group meetings can be difficult and sometimes impossible.

People will put in the effort if they want to accomplish a good grade. However, if they know other people will take on full responsibility, they are able to step back and let others do the work. Group work not only allows students to slack off, but also puts additional pressure on students who want to receive good grades for scholarships and honors.

Group projects do not need to be eliminated, but individual based grades should be a requirement so that it is fair for everyone.

Rec at RIC, really?

Alison Macbeth –Asst. Opinions Editor

According to the college’s website, “A Rhode Island College education is concerned with the development of the “total person” – intellectually, physically, psychologically and socially.” It sounds nice and flowery, but is RIC really committed to holistic wellbeing? A look at the Recreational Center may give a different perspective.

In 2012, the $12 million dollar renovation project was completed to provide a ‘state of the art facility for Rhode Island College student-athletes and students alike to utilize.” You can’t deny it. The facility is great. There are treadmills, ellipticals, rowing machines, weight machines (actually a whole weightroom), an indoor track as well as a pool. RIC students have a recreation fee slipped quietly in the tuition bill that costs $90 a semester. (You might want to cancel your Planet Fitness membership now).

While the facility is nice, the Rec Center hardly operates as a full gym. There are a few classes advertised on one of the several large, flat screen TVs. However, these zumba and yoga classes are not so much fitness classes as they are one credit courses for students in the physical health program. (Fitness classes would be great!)

Similarly, the Rec Center fails to provide physical health opportunities for the whole RIC community. Non-RIC students are required to pay a $300 fee per semester to have access to the center. This leaves many staff members, who spend their work week on campus, without affordable access to a recreation center that is a walking distance away from their jobs.

Lastly, the Rec Center is located on the east side of campus, which makes it a thought and a half away from the hustle and bustle of the heart of campus. While devoted athletes and fitness-minded students will plan gym time, most of the RIC students I have spoken with don’t use the Rec Center at all.

I believe that RIC would benefit from accessible fitness classes available to all community members – it would be another step towards an education of holistic wellbeing.

The border wall: not a national emergency, but a constitutional crisis

Catherine Enos – Opinions editor

In this past week, Congress successfully passed a bill which permanently reopened the federal government for the fiscal year. Included in this bill is a portion of the money Donald Trump requested for a border wall. Unfortunately for him, the bill doesn’t have all the money his proposed wall would need. That’s how the government works– this isn’t the first time an initiative failed to gather sufficient funding.

Trump has decided that the allocations for the wall are not enough. As a result, he has planned to declare a national emergency. Technically, he has the authority to declare an emergency. In fact, the first president to declare an emergency was Woodrow Wilson and every president since Jimmy Carter has declared at least two emergencies. Some of those emergencies are still active– 31 to be exact (cnn.com).

But there’s a difference between these emergencies and the border wall. Some examples of past national emergencies include Hurricane Harvey, the Iran hostage crisis, 9/11, and the Swine Flu outbreak. Funding for an ineffective wall is not on par with crises America has experienced in the past.

Additionally, the border wall is not something Americans want– a Gallup poll shows that 60% of Americans are against it. There are actual crises occurring in America. Opioid addiction is ravaging the country. Global warming is irreparably destroying the planet. Guns are in the hands of people that shouldn’t have guns. And the list goes on.

Perhaps the most mind-numbing piece of this story is the fact that Congress, which can revoke the national emergency declaration, might allow this blatant usurpation of power to happen. It seems that this will happen too, since Senator Mitch McConnell expressed his support directly after he announced the president’s plans to Congress.

The most important part of all of this, however, is the ethical implications of what the administration is doing. In his State of the Union speech, Donald Trump dedicated a portion of his time towards demonizing immigrants. And how could one forget the fact that the government separated families and lost track of 1,500 children. There’s the emergency.

What Trump has in mind is not an emergency, but maybe it’s a crisis– a constitutional one.

Being unapologetic: we deserve quality care

Kennedy Ryan – Anchor Staff

When we go to a restaurant, we expect to get the quality meal we pay for. If not, we complain to a waiter and make sure that our problem is fixed. When we go to the salon, we only pay for the highest quality haircuts and treatments. If not, we go to another salon. We demand the service that we know we deserve, because we are paying for it. Why then, are women receiving poor health care and not demanding better treatment?

When I began seeing a gynecologist, I did not receive the attention and treatment I deserved. My doctor did not listen to my concerns, prescribed medication without informing me about the side effects, and gave me an overall horrible experience. Despite this, I kept visiting her office for health concerns. Why did I put up with it?

Graphics courtesy of Tumblr.com

I asked others around me, and many women have experienced the same concerns. Painful side effects of medications, horrible treatment experiences, and rude interactions. We accept these conditions and don’t speak up for ourselves because we don’t realize we deserve better. We are paying for our medical treatments, yet we don’t demand excellent work.

For women, we often don’t speak up about our concerns, because they are not normally discussed in our society. We avoid talking about our painful birth control medications, our unheard problems, and daily challenges because society views them as taboo. Due to this, we continue to take these horrible medications and receive horrible care because we think it’s normal and unavoidable.

There could be several understandable reasons for avoiding a change in healthcare. Despite these challenges, people should speak up for what they want. Women deserve to receive comfortable and positive medical treatments. For me, having the courage to find a new doctor was not challenging. I was able to begin seeing doctors at Rhode Island College who listen to my opinions and give me the care I deserve.

Whatever the reason may be, people need to take a stand for what they deserve.

Why I think gap years rock 

Alexis Rapoza – Anchor Staff

When I told my family and friends that I was going to take a semester off and move to Orlando, Florida to do the Disney College Program, they were happy for me but also confused. “Don’t you want to finish your degree?” they would say. Of course I did, but I was feeling unmotivated and simply bored. If you’re feeling uninspired, maybe you need a semester off.

When I was accepted to participate in the College Program, I jumped at the chance. Before, I would wake up everyday and go to class with the same people and then go to work directly after that. It was everything but liberating. Move to Florida and work at Disney World? Sounds exciting, and it was. It was so much fun that I eventually ended up extending my program and staying down there for almost a full year.

Now I am definitely not recommending that everyone uproot their lives and go work for Mickey Mouse, but I am saying that taking a gap year, whether it be in the middle of college or between college and high school, could be something that benefits you.

There’s a sort of stigma about students not finishing their degree in the designated 4 years when in reality only about 30% of undergraduate students finish their degree on time. So why not do it at your own pace? College will always be there, but the ability to travel the world or move thousands of miles to fulfill childhood dreams is definitely not something that you’ll be able to do when you’re drowning in student loan repayments and have a full-time career.

My year away from school left me feeling more determined than ever to go to school and get good grades. When I came back, I realized I wanted to change my major and go to a different college. I felt exhilarated and had discovered a new independence inside myself that I didn’t know I possessed.

After all, we’ve all spent the majority of our lives sitting in classrooms. Maybe all you need to regenerate your enthusiasm for your education is a change of scenery.  

Unchallenged oppressive behavior: Not at RIC?

Derek Sherlock – Anchor staff

Recently, there were incidents that took place on campus which caused a responsive email to be sent out by the president of the college. I must applaud that such an email was even sent out to address racism and oppressive behavior. However, the use of “Not at RIC” is perhaps not appropriate, since this behavior takes place on nearly a daily basis. Whether it is directed towards students of color or queer students, it happens here.

I personally have seen many acts of oppressive behavior going unchallenged, and have heard from students who have been victims here at RIC. While some changes are taking place, like the president’s letter condemning the behavior, the college should not say that it does not happen here when it does.

Since last spring semester, I have seen an uprise in the acts of oppressive behavior directed towards immigrants and the queer community with flyers being posted around campus calling for people to be deported or to be converted. Classrooms are a battleground in which some professors see nothing wrong with calling trans students by their dead name and misgendering them or allowing white students to display levels of microaggression towards Black and Latinx students here on campus.

Something that not many would know is that several students last semester sought to create a chapter of the right-wing organization known as Turning Point USA. It should be noted for those who are unaware of them, the organization in other locations have ties with alt-right/white nationalist groups such as the Proud Boys and known neo-Nazi group Traditionalist Worker Party to name a few. Such a presence on campus will cause more marginalized students to feel even more uncomfortable and unwelcomed than they do already.

I am glad that RIC is finally talking openly about oppressive behavior that is taking place on campus, but I feel that we as a college community should not dismiss it by saying that it is not RIC or that it does not happen here daily. We can truly counteract the oppressive behavior that takes place on campus by taking action against faculty or staff who do not respect any member of the RIC community, or the dismissal of a student who displays oppressive behavior. We need to take a hard stance on such behavior and cut it out of our community before it has time to grow into a bigger problem that could potentially lead to violence.

Once you make it clear that there are strict consequences to oppressive behavior, you can say “Not at RIC.”

Why alcohol ads should be banned

Kennedy Ryan – Anchor Contributor

Nearly 50 years ago, President Nixon banned cigarette advertisements. This law, the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, prohibited cigarette campaigns from airing on television and radio stations. Why are we still being exposed to other unhealthy advertisement messages today?

It is believed that we are exposed to roughly 5,000 advertisement messages a day. Of those, there are many advertisements that I believe should be potentially banned, similar to those messages shared in cigarette ads. For example, alcohol advertisement is still legal in the United States, as well as other countries.

Graphic courtesy of Miller Brewing Company

While smoking cigarettes has an endless list of negative health complications, alcohol consumption arguably has its own lengthy list. For example, alcohol consumption can cause liver inflammation, a higher risk of cancer, impaired brain function, increased chance of depression, unsafe driving conditions and more. If alcohol has so many health complications, why are we allowed to see persuasive messages every day in the advertisement world?

Advertisements are infamous for persuading audiences. Television commercials, colorful billboards and flashy magazine advertisements can all sway an audience into purchasing a product. Alcohol commercials ranging from colorful cartoons to entertaining videos can easily influence the wrong audience. This can be a concern for young children and other vulnerable audiences that may be viewing an ad. These consumers can be easily swayed to believe that alcohol consumption is not only healthy, but cool and fun.

While alcohol consumption may not necessarily be harmful in moderation, what sets it apart from other substances that can be abused? In countries such as France, Norway, Russia, and Kenya, alcohol advertisements have been banned on television and billboards. For audiences in the U.S., it may be beneficial to ban these messages as well.

Unpaid internships are an example of privilege

Alexis Rapoza – Anchor Contributor

Internships are seen as a right of passage in college and most colleges encourage or require that their students participate in an internship for at least one semester, which I think is a good idea. I interned for a local radio station back in 2017 and it was one of the most educational and enlightening experiences. I was even lucky enough to be offered a job afterwards. Something I don’t agree with, however, is the fact that college students are forced to work at least part time for no pay.

Graphic courtesy of PNGTree

Unpaid internships are a hot button topic, especially considering the rise in the amount of full-time students working 40 hours a week. With living expenses and college tuition prices so high, students are forced to split their time between school and work. I now know firsthand how difficult that can be. You seem to not have enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you need to accomplish. When you throw in an internship requirement, it’s nearly impossible.

Interns are often seen as the low man on the totem pole. It makes sense for an intern to be paid less than an employee who has been working at the same company for 25 years, but I believe that interns should be paid at least minimum wage. Unpaid internships are not accessible to everyone and that’s something I think needs to be discussed more.

The United States Department of Labor offers six rules companies need to follow in order to not have to pay interns: “The internship must be for academic credit. The intern and the company must both understand that the intern won’t be compensated monetarily for their work. Interns can not replace employees but instead must be there to help and learn from them. The internship must be an educational experience. Internships can only last for the amount of time the student will be receiving credit for it. The intern must understand that they are not entitled to a job after.”

As you can see, the rules for companies providing these unpaid internships are vague, if anything, and usually are not enforced. Recently, there has been a development of unpaid interns suing companies for doing what they believe should be paid work. The hiring rate of people who participated in unpaid internships is also significantly lower than that of those who were paid.

I think all around unpaid internships are just not a great idea. Generally, unpaid internships do not provide the same amount of weight on a resume that a paid internship does. They also continue to enforce classism that is ever so present in the college scene, which is an example of privilege. In simple terms, students from lower income families can simply not afford to participate in unpaid internships and I believe that education should be accessible to everyone, not just people who can afford it.

Politicians need to stop endorsing hatred

Derek Sherlock – Anchor staff

Recently, a video has gone viral in which famed actress Ellen Page, called out Vice President Mike Pence on his stances on the LGBTQ+ community. As someone who is a part of the LGBTQ+ community, what she said rang true for me and so many within the community. When you are given a powerful platform such as the Vice Presidency or the Governor of Indiana, and you create (or attempt to create) policies that do harm to a group of people, you should not be allowed to hold any sort office. This includes both Pence and Trump––who have put forth policies into effect have been damaging to everyone within the LGBTQ+ community.

Page states that Vice President Pence is a believer in conversion therapy, which many health organizations around the world have denounced as ineffective and risky. The current administration has rolled back on many protections for LGBTQ+ people that were established by Obama. Trump has also tweeted that he will not allow transgender people to serve in the military, which has gone into effect earlier this year.

Photo courtesy of Bustle

To top it all off, back in October, the Trump administration was considering a definition of a person’s gender as based on their genitalia at birth and not changeable later in life. Ultimately, it would define transgender people out of existence causing gender to be a binary concept. Pence and Trump, along with many other local officials, are fighting hard to create laws and bills that make it illegal for trans people to use the bathroom they feel comfortable using. There are still officials that are trying like hell to still make same-sex marriages a difficult task to obtain in many parts of the country.

So, let’s look at the evidence presented: This administration, as well as many local officials, are telling the country that queer people do not matter. As Ellen Page said, “If you are in a position of power, and you hate people… what do you think is going to happen? Kids are going to be abused, and they’re going to kill themselves, and people are going to be beaten on the street.” That is what will happen. I have met so many smiling queers and trans people with scars both on their wrists from attempting to take their lives but also the scars of being thrown out of their homes for being who they are. I have tried once before to take my own life because of my gender and sexual identity. This abuse of power needs to end.