Letter From the Editors As we all shift classes for the second term, we at Pulse have been working on a shift from our traditional kind of content. Our team has been putting forth a great deal of effort to produce a magazine that focuses on the relevant issues of our world today, as well as topics that pertain to our students specifically. With the #MeToo movement in mind, Ali Youel’s piece covers some of the sexual harassment claims that have recently come to light, the significance of the movement they spawned, and the effects that it could have on our culture both locally and nationally. Libby Edwards’ A Loaded Debate, addresses the gun violence that has recently occurred in America in an opinion piece that analyzes the various problems and solutions regarding guns in our country. Frank Yang’s The Early Bird compares the early decision to the regular decision option for applying to college, which is a prevalent issue for the students at CCA. Adding to the CCA focus, Hannah Musgrave’s The Fault in Our Schools takes a look at high school and CCA academic culture. This issue, the layout team has taken a minimalistic, contrast-focused approach to the magazine’s visuals. One highlight is the Me Too image, as it focuses on portraying an example of unwanted sexual attention through this simple aesthetic. Creative Director Jakob Saloner also emphasizes the power of negative space on the layouts of Audrey Hsu’s Covered in Dust and Annie Lu’s HAL Or Wall-E? Without further ado, we are proud to present to you Volume 13 Issue 2 of Pulse. Sincerely, Ronnie Simon and Max Greenhalgh
Editors in Chief Max Greenhalgh Ronnie Simon Creative Director Jakob Saloner Editorial Director Daniel Chekal Online Editor-in-Chief Annie Lu Design Will Hillard Staff Writers Elan Berger Libby Edwards Noah Gaines Josh Golden Audrey Hsu Derek Li Hannah Musgrave Kaylynn O’Curran Gabriella Patino Frank Yang Ali Youel Advisor Mr. Black
Table Of Contents HAL Or Wall-E?
The Fault In Our Schools
Plastic’s Not Fantastic
by Gabriella Patino
by Annie Lu
Covered In Dust
by Noah Gaines
by Elan Berger & Josh Golden
by Derek Li
by Audrey Hsu
A Loaded Debate
by Libby Edwards
by Ali Youel
by Hannah Musgrave
by Frank Yang
by Kaylyn O’Curran
HAL or Wall-E? by A n n i e L u
A silhouette of a human face projected holographically onto a blue screen. Autonomous computer screens speaking to each other in a dark room. Nightmarish humanoid machines stalking a ravaged Earth. Given the furious pace at which technology is developing today, it’s no surprise that people’s perceptions of artificial intelligence (commonly abbreviated as AI) range from mild to far-fetched. The real-world uses of artificial intelligence span just as wide an array of possibilities, with both wildly positive and negative consequences. Humans have long been pondering the origin of “intelligence” and ways to replicate it in non-human forms. Ancient Greeks and Chinese imagined intelligent robots and sentient mechanical men, while a Jewish rabbi in the 16th century claimed to bring clay golems to life. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the concept of artificial intelligence as most view it today became a prevalent issue. In 1956, John McCarthy, an American cognitive scientist, first coined the term “artificial intelligence,” and a few years later, Alan Turing, an English computer scientist, published a paper on the notion that machines could simulate human beings and think intelligently. This brings up the question of what “thinking” really entails. While machines can undoubtedly process and apply logic more effectively than any human being, can they think the way we do? American philosopher John Searle proposed a thought experiment called the “Chinese room,” where someone is locked in a room and given notes written in Chinese. Using dictionaries, they could produce a satisfactory response in Chinese, but would they really understand the language? The argument is that a computer cannot have “understanding” or “consciousness” regardless of how human-like its translations and computations make it seem, but as most thought experiments go, there are many refutations to it. The “Other Minds Reply” is one such response, as explained by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “How do you know that other people understand Chinese or anything else? Only by their behavior. Now the computer can pass the behavioral tests as well as they can (in principle), so if you are going to attribute cognition to other people you must in principle also attribute it to computers.” Another counterargument proposes that our intuitions, upon which the Chinese Room theory relies, should be questioned. Steven Pinker, in How the Mind Works, holds that “Searle is merely exploring facts about the English word ‘understand’…. People are reluctant to use the word unless certain stereotypical conditions apply…” He claims, “nothing scientifically speaking is at stake,” citing a science fiction tale in which ana-
tomically-different aliens cannot believe humans are capable of thought when they discover “our heads are filled with meat.” The unreliability of the aliens’ intuition supports that ours may be at fault as well. In just the past few decades, swift advances have been made in terms of AI, though not in the way many people would think. Artificial intelligence is now used to peruse and deduct patterns from search histories, assist with market analysis, pilot self-driving car prototypes, and play board games—all activities that might seem mundane and thoughtless. “The term AI is often misconstrued, with many people thinking of Terminator robots trying to hunt down John Connor—but that’s not what AI is,” said Brian Wallace, a security data scientist. “Rather, it’s a broad topic of study around the creation of various forms of intelligence that happen to be artificial.” The idea of machines being able to think on their own and effectively pass as a human has yet to become a reality. However, this hasn’t stopped the public from speculating about the future of AI. A 2016 poll conducted by 60 Minutes found a number of interesting results on people’s attitudes towards artificial intelligence. A majority (53%) of those surveyed thought advancing the field of AI was important, 20% said it was unnecessary, and 15% said it was dangerous. 79% of the total respondents said a computer could never be considered truly alive, and 53% said computers will never be able to tell right from wrong. Interestingly enough, men were more likely than women to believe that computers would be able to tell right from wrong, and the older the respondent, the more they tended to lean towards “no way.” 66% of the people polled said human intelligence poses a greater threat to humanity than AI does. Perhaps that says something about the state of confidence the public has in itself and its governing institutions right now. Despite that two-thirds statistic, there are still a significant number of fears regarding the implications of AI. A real problem with the way society and technology intertwine with each other today is that people take scientific developments for granted. Katharine Dempsey from The Nation uses this analogy: “Many people can’t explain how a car runs, but they don’t hesitate to get into one. In other words, consumers will embrace the benefits of technology without asking too many questions.” The article uses this comparison to highlight the threat of people giving control to profit-seeking firms in their ignorance, but the analogy serves another warning as well. Overeager to embrace a new generation of technology that seems straight out of science fiction, the general populace might be ill-equipped to acknowledge or 5
deal with the many possible side effects. The British author Arthur C. Clarke once made three laws with philosophical relevance, but is most remembered for his third one: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” The AI Club at CCA, which teaches interested parties how to program and understand the mathematical principles behind artificial intelligence, offered their input on the issue. Ratnodeep Bandyopadhyay (senior), Tyler Jones (sophomore), and Ben Woodman (junior) are leaders and active members of the club. Woodman stated that the numerous concerns about AI, such as brain hacking and autonomous warfare, should not be ruled out, and there should be precautions and regulations in place. The club members seemed to agree that, eventually, computers will be able to “think” the way humans do, and even “become a lot smarter than humans... The smartest guy alive right now has an IQ of [around] 200... An AI can reach IQs of magnitudes around 100,000,” said Bandyopadhyay. Still, they agree “we are a long way from creating an AI that can actually think for itself.” Until then, we can expect more practical uses for the next decade or so. Jones spoke of reading a recent article about BMW’s newest smart car, while other everyday uses of AI include robot valets and voice-activated user interfaces. There will be trade-offs, of course: millions of people’s jobs will be displaced, and “a lot of people might not like that. But it is with that sacrifice that the world will be able to produce things [and information] much faster than a human ever could,” concluded Jones. In the end, it seems to boil down to how we deal with the ramifications of AI as it develops, since it is most certainly progressing. As Woodman said, “A lot of laws and regulations are going to change in the next few decades.” What about artificial intelligence in the formidable realm of national defense and politics? A Harvard report from 2017 showed that the U.S. government has sponsored six studies on AI in national security recently. Most people’s default worst-case scenario probably includes super-intelligent killer robots awakening to enslave us, but the reality is that the imminent problems are much more small-scale. Artificial intelligence can be used to manipulate audio and video content vital to wartime decision-making, damaging countries’ military alliances and strategies. Additionally, according to an International Security Department research paper, future military and commercial robots might be employed to undertake their own tasks and missions, again bringing up the question of whether they are really capable of executing moral decisions—remember, an estimated 53% of Americans believe AI cannot tell right from wrong. 6
The current usage of AI in warfare lies within mostly-autonomous armed drones, but to date, humans are still the ones to make the last call about when to use lethal force. For the past few years, countries all over the globe have met to discuss using lethal autonomous weapons, even as numerous CEOs of robotics companies warn of the dangers. A Time article on the subject brings up the sobering point, “History suggests that even when the international community widely condemns a weapon as inhumane—like chemical weapons—some despots will use them anyway. Treaties alone won’t prevent rogue regimes and terrorists from building autonomous weapons.” Technology experts from across the spectrum of opinions on artificial intelligence agree that its development is something we should take seriously. Researchers from the scientific journal Nature warn of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) being hacked by misguided artificial intelligence. This could allow a person’s thoughts, emotions, and actions to be manipulated. Hacking the human brain isn’t all that it seems. First off, brain-computer interfaces are systems that translate brain signals into outputs that can carry out actions. They are used primarily to restore useful function to people disabled by cerebral palsy, stroke, or spinal cord damage, and could revolutionize the science of rehabilitation after brain injury. Essentially, BCI technology may allow people to control their environments through thoughts. This sounds like a science fiction lover’s dream, but, of course, it comes with its reservations. The Nature researchers provided this hypothetical example: a paralysed man in a BCI clinical trial does not like the research team working with him. AI reading his thoughts might interpret his dislike as a command to harm the researchers, though that may not be what the man consciously intends. It’s not “hacking”, per se, but warrants serious second thoughts nonetheless. More commonplace concerns also exist: architect and author George Zarkadakis predicts AI “will lead to the fourth industrial revolution [the computerisation of manufacturing].” The automation of industry comes hand in hand with replacing human workers, as the wealth AI will generate will no doubt benefit a select few while causing vast numbers of others to suffer due to job loss. This applies to certain arguments in politics: “The data shows that you are more likely to lose your job to mechanization than to a [minimum wage worker],” said Alec Ross, senior adviser for innovation under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Telephone salespeople are already being replaced by AI, robotic security guards patrol Silicon Valley malls, and machines have been siphoning away factory jobs for decades.
There is also the issue of racial and gender bias. Because current systems that use machine learning rely on ordinary human text taken from all over the World Wide Web, programs may associate “women’s names more with words like ‘wedding’ and ‘parents’ and men’s names with ‘professional’ and ‘salary,’” Dempsey describes. With this built-in bias, it isn’t difficult to imagine a computer algorithm rejecting a female job applicant in favor of a male one, even though we tend to regard algorithms as unbiased. She continues, “The decisions will be fair only if the data is unbiased, and we don’t have to look too far to be reminded that our world, and therefore our data, is far from even-handed.” An interesting problem posed by George Dvorsky of Gizmodo is the bystander effect: with AI easily accessible to the 21st century hacker, security firms must also rely on weaponized AI more and more, as it would be infeasible for an individual human to stave off a cyberattack by an impossibly efficient artificial intelligence. As a result, these tools will surpass human control. Dvorsky hypothesizes that “it’ll get to a point where both hackers and infosec professionals have no choice but to hit the ‘go’ button on their respective systems, and simply hope for the best. A consequence of AI is that humans are increasingly being kept out of the loop.” Perhaps the most prominent and widely-known mind of our modern society has weighed in on AI’s potential: theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking says that artificial intelligence will “transform or destroy” humanity. The developing technology ultimately serves as a two-sided argument, a double-edged blade. In order to protect against the numerous negative ramifications of AI, there are ethical priorities that need to be addressed, among which are privacy, agency and identity, and bias. It is undeniable that artificial intelligence possesses vast societal benefits, but people must guide the development of the technology closely. Regulated and premeditated correctly, AI has huge positive potential. Bryan Johnson, the founder of human intelligence company Kernel, has invested $100 million to “hack the human brain” and compares the future to “a Category 5 hurricane that’s going to bear down on us with so much force the single greatest thing we can do as a species is work on our adaptability to change,” he said. To improve our adaptability, the public must be informed of the situation and possible repercussions of the future—not just the starry-eyed dreams that easily come to mind when the phrase “artificial intelligence” is thrown out. Educating the public on the impacts of AI is an important challenge to be taken on. Steps can be taken to bring the necessary questions out of the margins.
The objective must be to create an orientation of the societal, ethical, and economic effects of artificial intelligence for the general public to comprehend. “To restrict this discussion,” says Dempsey, “is to squander the opportunity to build a better, more inclusive world.”
Eternal glory. Your name in history. This type of success in life comes from winning a gold medal at the oldest sporting event in history: the Olympics. Many Americans will attempt to create a name for themselves in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea in a series of winter sporting events. This year’s games will tell a unique, interconnecting story due to a few changing factors. No matter what happens at these games, they will be remembered as a disappointment in Russia. At the Olympic Games in 2014, the Russians won 33 medals (13 gold, 11 silver, 9 bronze). However, in Pyeongchang, they will not win any. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned the Russian Olympic team for “systematic doping,” the use of performance enhancing drugs organized by the team’s leaders. However, the Olympic Committee has left an opportunity for individual athletes to participate. Those who have consistently passed drug tests may petition to compete in a neutral uniform. Each athlete’s eligibility will be ruled on by a panel appointed by the IOC. Evgenia Medvedeva, reigning world champion figure skater, stated “I cannot accept the option that I would compete in the Olympic Games without the Russian flag as a neutral athlete. I am proud of my country; it is a great honor for me to represent it at the games. It gives strength and inspires me during performances.” Medvedeva is one of many Russians who won’t be competing in 2018, supporting their country. First generation American and CCA student Kirusha Lanski commented on this issue, saying that “the individuals who were clean should be able to participate on their own under their own name and the neutral flag as opposed to just Russia. I think that’s a fair decision.” Russia, however, is not the only entity that will not be participating in these Olympic games. For the first time since 1994, the National Hockey League will not be participating in the Olympics. In the past, the NHL has modified its schedule to have a break during the Olympics so players could compete for their country, but the league’s commissioner, Gary Bettman, decided to skip the games this time around. Bettman has been very stern in discussions about the league’s participation in the games, stating that “The overwhelming majority of our clubs are adamantly opposed to disrupting the 2017-2018 NHL season for purposes of accommodating Olympic participation by some NHL players.” Bettman’s argument for not engaging in the historic event is enhanced by the season ending injuries suffered in the 2014 games by stars such as New York Islanders center John Tavares, Detroit Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg, Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov, and former Panthers forward
Tomas Kopecky. Despite the loss of these players, the face of the Washington Capitals franchise and one of today’s best players, Russian native Alexander Ovechkin, strongly disagrees with Bettman and was considering ignoring the NHL’s decision and playing in the Olympics anyway. He showed his love for the event in September by saying “The Olympics are in my blood and everybody knows how much I love my country.” However, Ovechkin won’t attend the 2018 games due to Russia’s ban. Russia was likely to have taken home gold, but now the college athletes and former NHL players representing the United States have a shot at recreating the miracle of 1980, despite Canada and Sweden being predicted to defeat the US. In Pyeongchang, four events will make their Olympic debut: big air snowboarding (which will replace parallel slalom), mixed doubles curling, mass start speed skating, and mixed team alpine skiing. The IOC said they added the events to the games to create “added value, youth appeal, attractiveness for TV, media and the general public, and gender equality” among other factors. After multiple attempts by South Korea to host the Olympics in Pyeongchang, the IOC finally granted their wish. As the world finally turns their eyes to the county in the Gangwon Province of South Korea, athletes will unite from all corners of the world to compete in Earth’s most prestigious sporting event.
Cash-letes by Derek Li
Ever since collegiate athletics became a major gateway to the professional sporting level, one major question has been the cause of much controversy and debate: should colleges pay their athletes a salary? From basketball to football to ice hockey, universities in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) have become the primary platform for professional teams to scout young players. These schools have generated massive revenue from showcasing their talented athletes to the American public. Yet, according to a poll done by the Washington Post in 2017, 66% of those surveyed felt that college athletes should be paid if they are used for marketing merchandise. Last June, Brian Bowen, a top ranked high school basketball player in Indiana, committed to play college basketball for the University of Louisville Cardinals. The decision shocked many following the recruiting process because Bowen had received scholarship offers from the more “prestigious” basketball programs such as Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, and more. Why he chose Louisville became more clear in September, when the FBI investigated the bribery and corruption within NCAA basketball. While many major universities were involved, the one most impacted by this scandal was the University of Louisville. Specifically, it was revealed that Adidas (the sponsor for Louisville basketball) offered to pay Bowen’s family $100,000 if he chose to play basketball for them; Bowen accepted the offer. At first, he was ruled as ineligible to play for the Cardinals, putting his path to the NBA in jeopardy. Luckily, Bowen was recently admitted to the University of South Carolina Gamecocks basketball team, giving him a second chance. The FBI investigation also ended with the firing of many coaches (including Louisville’s Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino) as well as various consequences for other players involved. Logically, Bowen accepted the bribe so that he could support his family as soon as possible. Therefore, if paying college players a salary was legal, this and many other similar cases of the past would not have been issues. Some athletes in America come from low-income areas, where crime and death rates are higher than average. In fact, in 2013, the National College Players Association found that 86% of college 10
athletes live below the poverty line. For kids growing up in these areas where getting a decent education is exceedingly difficult, playing sports and hoping to eventually do so professionally is one of the few potential ways out of poverty. So, when high-school athletes in these areas do end up gaining national attention, they know that lucrative professional careers in leagues such as the NFL and NBA are within reach. However, these two leagues require incoming athletes to go to college before they are eligible to be drafted or picked by a team (one year for the NBA and three years for the NFL). Seeing college as a roadblock to financial success, many athletes only attend universities for the minimum requirement and then move on. For the player, a decent salary in college would likely motivate them to stay in school. It is widely accepted that getting a college education, although expensive, is a long term investment that will pay off later in life. Athletes that choose to leave college before completing their education know this, but they still believe that being successful in sports can guarantee them a luxurious lifestyle for years to come. However, making money hand over fist professionally isn’t guaranteed; injuries, league lockouts, and simple bad luck can prevent young players from making money. By staying in college until graduation while continuing to play sports, athletes would receive a quality education, and in doing so give themselves a plan B. Additionally, delaying the entry into a professional sports career in order to play college sports can actually help a player’s development. Underperformers such as Anthony Bennett in the NBA and Johnny Manziel in the NFL were expected to become franchise players, but ended up struggling professionally. The similarity between Bennett and Manziel is that both stayed in college for the minimum number of years required by their respective leagues. Naturally, sports enthusiasts ask the question ‘What if he stayed in college longer?’ Indeed, that is a reasonable question, because college is often viewed as an important bridge between the comparatively uncompetitive level of high school athletics and the professional level of sports. Also, college coaches are typically more experienced and better prepare their athletes for professional play, as they generally have a good
understanding of what professional teams want from players. Professional teams definitely appreciate the maturity and deeper understanding of sports and teamwork from those who decide to stay in college for the full four years. Paying college athletes will further encourage them to take advantage of all of these great resources at their fingertips during their collegiate athletic careers for longer. Of course, there are also reasons why college athletes should not be paid. According to some, there is no need to give players additional cash when most of them already have full-ride scholarships to universities. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that the average cost per year in college in 2014-15 was a staggering $21,748. Multiply that number by four, and many students end up with a huge pile of debt by the end of college. So, the fact that athletes will be debt-free from such an expensive education is a huge benefit. It is their choice of whether they take advantage of the scholarship and stay in college until graduation, but a free education is basically setting them up for future success, even if it isn’t sports related. The reason why so many people watch college sports is because of the determination, the drive, and the vigor of players and teams that is simply unmatched by the professional level. Introducing money might ruin the passion that defines college sports, as doing so would mean more players staying in college because they like the consistent paycheck instead of just loving the school and team. Finally, by giving college athletes, many of whom are still teenagers, a salary before they fully enter the “real world,” they could easily waste the money and develop bad spending habits early on in life. We have seen star professional athletes retire as successful millionaires and then go completely bankrupt in just a few years. Take Allen Iverson as an example. He earned an estimated $200 million during his 14 year NBA career. Iverson retired in 2010, and numerous reports suggest that he is now struggling financially. The fact that many rich, middle-aged adults struggle to manage their finances implies that young and inexperienced adults would probably have a difficult time as well. There is also one argument that strikes the middle between the two opposing viewpoints. Specifically, some believe that universities should not be allowed to give their players a salary; however, it should still be legal for them to receive money or benefits in other forms, such as jersey sales, brand sponsorships, advertisements, etc., all of which are currently illegal in the NCAA under most circumstances. Not only does this method negate the complicated logistical issues for paying college students, but it promotes
them to continue working for success in the form of money. The result would be that the college sports atmosphere will continue to be extremely competitive and athletes that possess talent, drive, and hype can get paid to support themselves as well as their families. In professional leagues, earning money from sources other than pure contracts is very common. According to Statisca, sports sponsorships generated a staggering $16.6 billion USD in revenue in 2017 alone, showing just how lucrative this market is. Plus, this stat doesn’t even cover jersey sales, which is a huge money-maker in the sports industry that places such a big emphasis on individual players and their performances. Adopting the model of “work for your money” would be a compromise that theoretically benefits the players, schools, and fans. Finally, some argue that professional leagues (specifically, the NBA and NFL) should just scrap the college requirement in order for prospective athletes to go pro. Both the NBA and NFL now have a ban on drafting high school players (called “prep-to-pro”). The speculated reason for this is that most pro teams prefer to have more experienced draftees that have faced tougher competition and know how to handle a variety of problems both on and off the court. Yet, some of the best players in NBA history were or have been prep-to-pro; this list includes the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and more. The debate of whether college athletes should earn money will continue for the foreseeable future. Changing the framework and logistics of the NCAA on such a massive scale would be extremely difficult to implement, even if the popular opinion is in favor of player salaries. For now, it seems like college sports will retain its uniquely competitive and spirited style of play that has defined it for so long.
Covered in Dust by Audrey Hsu
The band Keane released a song named “Everybody’s Changing” from their album Hopes and Fears in 2009. The song is about a person moving on and leaving a relationship behind, painting a picture of a lonely figure, abandoned and afraid to change. Unfortunately, aversion to change is not only relevant to the lonely character in this song. Regardless of the situation we are in, doing the same thing we have been doing seems like the stable, level-headed choice. The present is firm and navigable while the future is chock full of uncertainty. Making a change can be seen like walking around in a dark room and not knowing if the next step will be upon soft carpet or hard Lego brick. Many horrible events in the past, such as the Armenian Genocide and the American Civil War, were influenced by fear of change. Today, there are still numerous issues revolving around change and its phobia. One in particular has been making the news a lot as of late: the coal industry. On June 1, 2017, President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accords, which were adopted in 2015 under the Obama administration. The ultimate goal of the Paris agreement is “Holding the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.” The agreement included 195 countries agreeing to mitigate climate change and greenhouse gas emissions by designating limits determined on a national basis. Had the U.S. continued to be a part of the treaty, a pledge of about 3 billion dollars would have gone towards larger efforts, which include 40 pending projects designed to help reduce the causes and limit the effects of climate change. Once the U.S. formally withdraws from the agreement, we will be one of three nations who is not a signatory of the treaty, joining Syria and Nicaragua. The reason? President Trump is concerned with the expenditure of “billions and billions and billions of dollars” that would have been used to fulfill the terms of the accords, and the downscaling of industries like coal, which in turn would affect the job market. Supporters of Trump also claim that the U.S. should not have to pay a disproportionate amount of money for the pollution that the world produces, simply because our country is wealthier. While it is true that the U.S. currently produces less total carbon emissions than China at 6,780 million tons per year vs China’s 10,641 million tons per year, it produces more than twice the amount per capita than China at 16.0 metric tons per year vs China’s 7.0 metric tons per year. Trump also stated that the Paris agreement would cause the loss of 2.7 million jobs by 2025, and cost the U.S. around 3 trillion dollars, hurting the American economy. There is no certain way to verify these estimates, which were made by an independent economic research firm known as NERA Economic
Consultants. However, one thing that is for certain is the undeniable job surge in industries such as natural gas, solar, and wind. In 2016 alone, the United States had about 806,000 employees in the renewable resources industries, while the coal industry presently has 76,572 employees. The dwindling of the coal industry mainly affects miners in eastern states such as West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. These miners are often concentrated in mining towns whose local economies and families are highly dependent on income from coal. Due to government subsidies and improvements in technology, these towns will likely be on the decline in the next century. For the people in these towns, it is hard to imagine a life without the smudges of black dust painted on generations of family members. It is hard to imagine the sweeping change that looms in the future. In an article by Reuters, 33-year-old Mike Sylvester, the son of a miner, states, “I think there is a coal comeback.” Sylvester, who lives in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania (a region built in the Roosevelt era of coal), is not alone in his optimism. Many people with similar backgrounds voted for Trump in hopes that he would bring back coal and in turn revitalize the waning towns of yesteryear. The Huffington Post interviewed Michael Acosta, a resident of Kimball, West Virginia: “I want a job. I voted for Trump, because I think he will fix the economy, not only here, but in the whole country.” A statistic from the U.S. Energy Information Administration says coal deposits in the U.S. will run out by the year 2088. This death knell for coal signifies the inevitability that the coal industry is doomed to end. The most the U.S. government can do is perfect the transition to cleaner energy easier. Because of this, the U.S. department of labor has begun numerous programs to retrain coal miners into different fields. One such program is WorkForce West Virginia, “a state government agency...designed to provide West Virginia’s citizens and employers the opportunity to compete in today’s competitive global economy.” In recent years, the attendance for these programs have been at almost full capacity, as people are encouraged to enroll by the increase in environmental job offers and rise of cheap renewable energy. However this year, attendance for retraining programs have dropped as the president champions a rise in the coal industry. Ironically, the theme that fear of change sustains conflict in America overlaps with ex-president Barack Obama’s campaign slogan: Change We Can Believe In. The only question that remains to be answered: Is America ready to shake off its layer of coal dust? Perhaps not for a while. One thing in this transitional period is certain: although the direction that change takes is unpredictable, it is predictably inescapable.
A Loaded Debate by Libby Edwards
In the year 2017, America saw two of the largest mass shootings in its history only 35 days apart. During this time, Americans have been told to give the victims our thoughts and prayers, and to not talk about the problems and potential solutions behind these events. We have found ourselves in the eye of the storm, waiting for the next national tragedy to occur. So the question must be asked: how do we prevent the next mass shooting? In 2017 alone, America saw more than 410 mass shootings. A mass shooting is defined as an incident involving firearm related violence that injures and/ or kills 4 or more people. While the U.S. makes up less than five percent of the world’s population, we hold 31 percent of global mass shooters. The larger of the two shootings was in Las Vegas, where 58 people were killed and 489 were injured. The gunman, Stephen Paddock, used 17 assault rifles, which he shot from his hotel room overlooking the Harvest Music Festival. Fully automatic weapons have been banned from the U.S. since the mid-80’s, but he modified his legally-purchased semiautomatic weapons with a bump stock, a legal gun accessory that simulates an automatic weapon. This accessory allowed Paddock to fire up to 600 rounds per minute. A mere 35 days later, David Patrick Kelly walked into a Texas church and killed 26 people. Kelly was an Air Force veteran, but he wasn’t supposed to be able to purchase a gun due to a domestic violence conviction. The Air Force had made the mistake of not sending his paperwork to the FBI, so he was never put on the correct list, meaning his background check came up clear. This upset people on both sides of the great gun debate, liberals and conservatives. Some argued that this was completely the fault of the Air Force for not following the laws set in place, and others argued that more laws and systems need to be put into place in order to prevent this kind of administrative mix-up from directly causing another mass shooting. After breaking records with the two largest mass shootings in 2017, some chose to question the timing rather than the gun laws. It is a popular opinion that these mass shootings are a part of a larger feeling of hate within Americans. Unfortunately, it is even more difficult to control hate, than firearms. With all of the chaos going around, the people of America looked to the President for answers. President Trump responded by saying that this is not a gun issue, but rather a mental health one. Besides meeting with the families of the victims, President Trump did nothing to help the situation. No federal laws have been put into place regarding gun control, and he has not made any plans to do so. Overall, conservatives tend to believe the cause
of the recent spike in gun violence is due to a larger mental health problem. However, according to behavioralscientist.org, a team of economists, psychologists, and other academic minds, 95% of mass shooters have not been diagnosed with a mental illness. Another main point of conservatives is the Second Amendment right to own a gun. It is a popular belief of conservatives that if our government were to ever form into a dictatorship, that the only way to protect ourselves would be with guns. The fact that it is a right makes it that much more difficult to control. Liberals believe in creating more gun laws, and trying to make it as difficult as possible to purchase a gun, but there are two large issues with this plan. First of all, enacting more laws would do nothing to stop those who already own guns from privately selling their firearms to others. More importantly, the laws that we already have set in place mean nothing if they are not properly enforced. As previously mentioned, the Texas church shooter could have easily been stopped, but he was not put on the no sell database. If our laws are not properly followed, then making more of them will not help. More extreme arguments are often easier to fight against. It is easy to say, “look at Australia, the government took away all of their people’s guns, and gun violence rates have gone down significantly,” but Australia doesn’t have the second amendment, nor are they known for being gun-loving people. Furthermore, while the gun violence rate in Australia has dropped significantly, the murder rate has seemingly been unimpacted (it is moving down, but it was already moving down before the law was put into place, and the rate of change was not significantly changed). Additionally, some advocate that everyone should have a gun so that all Americans can more easily defend themselves against criminals. However, there are numerous problems with this. If the government were to give all U.S. citizens a firearm, they would have to train each person how to properly use their guns. It would also cost the government a huge amount of money and tons of resources, making it an unrealistic goal. On top of all of that, if every person were to be given a gun, the government would basically be supplying mass shooters with their murder weapons. America has seen too many deaths caused by guns. While our politicians continue to fight over causes and solutions, more people are being killed. No solution will be reached until our government decides to do something. Whether Trump believes this is a mental health issue or not, changes need to be made. 15
by ALi Youel
In the last few months, many sexual assault allegations have come to light in the media and on social media outlets, spawning a movement for women to speak up about how they have been victimised. In the past it has been the social norm to keep quiet, but it seems that the #MeToo movement might just be bucking this trend. Sexual harassment encompasses a broad spectrum of abuse. It can range from verbal provocation to inappropriate touching, and could potentially lead to to assault and rape. The Association of Women for Action and Research, or AWARE, states that “Sexual harassment is a form of abuse. This bullying behavior is often about power over the more vulnerable individual regardless of age, race, sex, religion or class.” Women have been shamed into silence for numerous reasons; maybe they felt it was their fault, or that it was because of what they were wearing, how they were speaking, or where they were. Perpetrators often manipulate women into silence by threatening careers or using their power to take advantage. Not only do women tend to be the ones blamed, but when men are the assailants, they often get away with it. During the 2016 Presidential Election, audio was leaked of President Trump bragging about using his celebrity status to take advantage of women. It seems that Trump’s position of power let him manipulate the women he is talking about. In the infamous 2005 tape with Billy Bush, Trump says, “And when you are a star, they let you do it…grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.” Sexual assault happens on both sides of the political spectrum. Former president Bill Clinton has also been accused of sexual misconduct with numerous women, including Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey. More recently, former Representative Anthony Weiner was charged for sexting a minor. CNN reported that Weiner asked the teen to “engage in sexually explicit conduct via Skype and Snapchat, where her body was on display, and where she was asked to sexually perform for him.” Weiner was aware of the girls age when engaging in contact. There is a pattern of powerful men abusing their power in order to sexually abuse others. Harvey Weinstein is the prime example of this. In an exposé written by Jodi Kantor and Megan Thowey for the New York Times, it was revealed that the former powerful movie mogul had sexually assaulted numerous women, using his power and position to take advantage of his colleagues. Lauren O’Connor stated in an interview for the New York Times, “I am a 28 year old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64 year old, world famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.” As high school students, especially the upper-
classmen that will be heading off to college in the next year or two, we often hear about sexual assault happening on college campuses. It is still a very serious issue that occurs far too often. For instance, Brock Turner, a former Stanford swimmer, was sentenced to six months in jail for “sexually assaulting an unconscious woman,” Travis M. Andrews of The Washington Post wrote. He was let out of prison after only serving half his sentence, three months, due to good behavior. CNN stated that the maximum sentence for Turner’s crimes was ten years. The victim addressed Turner, saying, “I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was ‘unconscious intoxicated woman,’ ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All-American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, who waited a year to figure out if I was worth something.” Recently, social media has empowered survivors of sexual abuse and harassment to come together and speak up with the #MeToo movement. It all started in 1997, when Tarana Burke created an organization to provide help to victims of sexual assault. It recently caught fire when Alyssa Milano tweeted the hashtag #MeToo to her 3.39 million followers. After being used nearly a million times within two days, social media has created a platform that allows women to be heard, to speak, and to tell their stories. A less expected outcome is that this open hashtag has inspired a surprising amount of men to come forward with their stories, showing that sexual harassment and assault are not gender-specific issues. For years now, we have been having the conversation with our daughters, and saying “don’t get raped,” but we haven’t been doing enough to teach our sons “don’t rape.” As former Torrey Pines High School student and current Huffington Post contributor Carina Kolodny wrote, “The cultural indoctrination that I’m speaking of goes something like this: It is a young woman’s responsibility to safeguard herself from rape, assault, harassment, stalking, and abuse because ‘boys will be boys’ and some of them just can’t help themselves.” It has become a norm to suppress any feelings towards speaking up, and avoid any type of confrontation. Society has taken a leap towards creating a better world for victims of sexual assault through the “Me Too” movement, creating a platform on social media for victims to speak up for themselves. In this climate, it has become more acceptable for women to share their stories of abuse. 17
Here are a few stories we have gathered from some brave women on this campus who were willing to share with us. Sexual harassment happens on campuses, workplaces and everywhere else. As one student here at CCA shared, “It was in middle school, I was in seventh grade and there was a guy in eighth grade. We started dating, or whatever you would call it in middle school, and I tried to break up with him a few times but he kept threatening me that he was going to kill himself. We went out on our first real date to go get food, so I thought it was a good place to let him down. It was super random and open, we were at the Del Mar Highlands and that is where I was said, ‘Oh yeah, I can’t see you anymore.’ He said something like ‘Well if I’m going to be in this relationship I’m going to get something out of it,’ and he put his hands down my pants in the middle of everything and I just froze up. At the time I was in a very bad place and didn’t think I deserved very much. I said ‘No, stop.’ and I never made it okay. I was shamed into silence. For me, I learned a really crazy lesson at a super young age; it made me older. When you learn those things at twelve or thirteen it’s just very different. It takes you a while to grasp the meaning of loss and its similar to that. It takes you a while to grasp that wow, that really wasn’t okay. There were so many things that went through my head and I just blocked it out. It is such a taboo subject that no one prepares students for it because they assume that with privilege things like this won’t happen but it does.” Another student shared her story. “When I was around eight years-old, I was sexually harassed by my older cousin. It was a very uncomfortable situation since I was spending the weekend at their house in Northern California, so there was really no way of leaving without making a scene in front of my whole family. When I eventually got home, it took me a while to realize the magnitude of this, and I still don’t completely understand it. It was particularly difficult because I was so young and because I was violated
by my own family, and I felt pressured to suppress my feelings. I never felt comfortable bringing up the subject in family conversations. The next year, I had to see him at our family vacation and pretend like nothing happened because, personally, I did not want to be the reason that my family became more distant. I felt forced into going back to this normal life and pressuring myself to pretend like nothing ever happened.” Aside from the physical setbacks that arise from sexual assault, the mental side effects from an event like this can be detrimental. As this student described, “The most difficult part about this whole situation was that I lost a lot of trust in people. I was supposed to be able to trust my own family. When I was violated by one of them, it made it extremely hard to trust others. I also lost the ability to believe in myself. There is a part of myself that doesn’t believe what happened. Was I dreaming? Did this actually happen? It happened so long ago and I was so young. Aside from that, I do believe that this has made me a stronger person. I now feel comfortable with speaking up and I have made myself more aware to these things that happen to women and I see myself finding ways to avoid these kinds of situations.” This particular subject hits close to home for dance and health teacher, Tracy Yates. “I teach consent training, which is a law that was passed in January 2015 that every middle school and high school student would have to get consent training along with physical, sexual reproductive, health and all that. As far as I know, I’m the only teacher in this district who teaches it. When I started doing it, one of the things I realized in talking to mixed gender classes that the boys were blown away. Because starting at eleven or twelve or earlier for some, is when the cat-calls start, the brushing your butt starts, the brushing your breasts starts, and the lewd comments as you walk by start. And I can see when I say that, I can see heads start to [nod]. And it unfortunately is the female experience in our culture. And my generation was programmed to keep your mouth shut, that this
person is your elder, don’t say anything and let it roll off your back. I think that piece is the most disturbing because we have been taught to be quiet, we have been taught to be ashamed of what someone else has done to us, which is not the meaning of ashamed. Ashamed is when you’ve done something wrong and you are going to have to pay a [price] for it.” “We are talking about getting groped, getting grabbed, being twelve years old at the state fair in Rawley Midway and having my butt grabbed five or six times, in one walk past the midway. We are talking about a boss when I was 15, at my first job. There is a dance in the south called the shag, which Austin Powers has ruined, but everyone learns how to do it, you are holding hands and you are at a distance from each other. My boss would put on beach music, which is what you shag to, and he would shag with me, pressed up against him and I would try to push away but as a teen in the south, being taught to respect your elders, being taught to respect your boss and not even having the language to say, ‘No, stop this, you are making me uncomfortable.’ I just dealt with it. I never went home and said my boss makes me really uncomfortable. It never even occurred to me to share this. He even had us try on new clothes that came in, which was also super inappropriate. Just that kind of stuff.” “Later in the summer when I was fifteen, there were two big incidences. In one incident, my sister had just graduated from high school and she’d finally let me go to a party with her. She would not let me go as a freshman, and if I tried to show up she would make a big ruckus and made sure I left. So I’m there and I’m hanging out with some guys and it’s super cool and super exciting, and one of them, it’s the 80s, says, ‘Hey I left my mixtape in my car, will you walk with me to get it? We had been in this conversation and I said ‘Sure.’ I’ve known this kid, I’ve known his name since I was probably 8 years old, and I had known him as an acquaintance for a little less than that. And we walked out to his car and he was like, ‘I think it’s in the glove box, jump in the driver’s side I’ll get in the passenger side. I said, ‘Okay.’ and I jumped in and he said ‘Close the door so somebody doesn’t hit it’, and I said ‘Okay,’ and then he was on top of me. I wrote a book several years back and in retelling the story in that book I thought about how he was 5’10 and 210 pounds and a wrestler, a big dude, and I was probably 5’5 or 5’6 at the most, and he was on top of me with his butt under the steering wheel, before
I could even breathe. I realized in writing that, he had practice. I wasn’t the first person he’s done that to, because you don’t just get on top of somebody when you are that big in a little compact car. You don’t just get on top of someone in the driver’s seat and get your butt under the steering wheel without having practiced that move. So, he got on top of me and tried to kiss me and I tried to get away. His hands were all over me, everywhere, and it wasn’t like he was trying to cop-a-feel, it was like he was trying to kill me, it hurt. He was rough, grabbing, and I remember kicking my feet, with my flip-flops on, and I couldn’t get any traction on the floorboard, and my shoe came off. I thought, ‘He’s going to rape me, and I’m not going to be able to get out of this.’ And then there was a banging on the passenger side door, super loud, and the passenger side door opened and I hear this voice go, ‘What are you doing?’ It was my sister, she had realized that I had left the party. She had come to find me. My guess is that she knew what he was like, and she knew that he was dangerous. I don’t know how he got off me but he was out of the car, and I was out of the car, and he disappeared into the party. My sister Christie shouted, ‘What are you doing? Get in the party.’ As I’m crying and we go back in and we never spoke of it again, until I wrote the book.” “There were others too. Guys who said they were my friends but they would get drunk and grab my [butt] or my breast and they would call the next day and apologize that they had too much to drink.I’ve heard that same story from students, ‘He’s my good friend so you know I don’t want to blow it.’ And I’m like, how have we gotten to this mindset, that we don’t want to ruin a friendship because someone has violated and physically assaulted us. And that in a nutshell is, I think, where we are at, where females are, where women are at with all this stuff coming out in the media, that is coming to an end. It’s everywhere. It’s happening to girls on this campus. It’s happening to teachers out on the weekends, it’s happening to everyone. We don’t talk about it, because we’ve been taught to be ashamed.” What does Mrs. Yates think we can do about some of the problems she described? She thinks it all starts with speaking up. “We can do better because we have to start talking. And as scary as it is, we have to start naming names. And we need to do it personally, it doesn’t have to be social media, but it has to be to that person.”
Brain Matters by Gabriella Patino
The average day for many of us starts by turning off our alarms and checking Instagram, and ends by watching Netflix and sending that one last snapchat. There’s one common element here: a screen. Some neuroscientists and psychologists believe that we’re approaching the same kind of Big Brother society that George Orwell explored in his famous work 1984. The scariest part is we don’t need a literal Big Brother telling us what to do. We are already brainwashed. This brainwashing happens without our knowing, every time our phone lights up with a new, exciting notification. This fascination with our screens has evolved over time due to a concept called neuroplasticity, or the ability of our brains to change with our environment. Frequent exposure to technology is wiring our brains different than previous generations, according to Psychology Today. Before the internet, children would to pick up a book, challenging their imagination and focus. Then the Internet was invented, and children were thrust into a vastly different environment. While using the internet, distraction is the norm, consistent attention is impossible, imagination is unnecessary, and memory is inhibited. Because information is so easy to find online, knowing where to look for information is becoming more important than thinking critically or reaching out to teachers. Communication norms may also be changing. Technology is adding a safe barrier for us to hide behind and avoid confrontation in person. Looking at a screen is becoming easier and more comforting. Neuroplasticity caused by technology is taking a negative toll on our everyday lives and learning processes. Nicholas Carr, American writer and Pulitzer Prize finalist, claims in his book, The Shallows: How the Internet Is Changing Our Brains, that we are losing our ability to think deeply about one thing for an
extended period of time. In his book, Carr compares the mind of a reader to a scuba diver, immersed in the water, while comparing the mind of a frequent internet-user to a jet skier, just skimming the surface. The Internet has become a primary form of external or “transactive” memory where information is stored collectively outside the brain, according to Columbia University psychologist Betsy Sparrow. Technology and drugs both have an impact on micro-cellular structure and the complex of biochem in our brains. Playing certain video games and taking part in other online activities can lead to addiction if not properly moderated. Some people become clinically addicted to technology and develop Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). These patients often have the same poor social skills and overall health as drug addicts. Kimberly Young, a licensed psychologist, has studied IAD and states, “We’re all a bit too connected. We socially accept it.” It’s not just the internet addicts who might need a bit of a digital detox. According to the American Psychological Association, 90% of Americans use their technology for two or more hours every day, with the national average of time spent on a phone being 4.7 hours. Making an effort to decrease this time in your day to day life could lead to a more effective brain. This can be as simple as staying off your phone thirty minutes before you go to sleep, as light from screens makes it harder for your body to fall asleep and stay asleep. Keeping your phone in the other room on do not disturb while doing homework may boost productivity. Technology has kept us moving forward. It has brought us to new places and expanded our depth of knowledge. In order for technology to remain a positive thing, keep the health of your brain in mind. 21
Paradise Papers by Noah Gaines
Some of the worlds most influential figures: Prince Charles, politicians, The White House, celebrities, Elizabeth II, Justin Trudeau; all of these world-renowned figures have been exposed by the Paradise Papers. These Paradise Papers are confidential documents that leak numerous financial records of some of the most powerful people on the planet. According to these classified documents, numerous influential, prestigious people used complex economic structures in order to protect their capital and avoid high taxes. How these documents were leaked: A German newspaper by the name of Süddeutsche Zeitung uncovered the documents this past year. After the story gained popularity and powerful figures’ names were leaked, the newspaper became recognized by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). This organization acts as a monitor of international transactions that identifies and targets specific pieces of journalism that could thwart out the public. After the documents were uncovered by the ICIJ , they alerted over 100 global media stations. These allegations eventually would be confirmed and the list of names would come with it, shocking many powerful figures around the globe. How these papers can shake up The White House: United States Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s name brewed within these secretive files. Although serving as the commerce secretary, Ross still maintains a stake in a shipping company by the name of Navigator, which he invests in through a chain of companies in the Cayman Islands. The company has links to current Russian President Vladimir Putin, further driving speculation of connections between Russia and the Trump Administration. Ross has previous experience with offshoring assets, as he has connections with a Soviet company by the name Sibur. Sibur, run by numerous entrepreneurs under the U.S sanction list, has received 68 million rubles worth of investment money from Ross and his partners. Ross has now been condemned by Congress due to his shady investments. Congress has not enforced any harsher penalties besides the “scolding” on the commerce secretary. The previously-unexposed masterminds benefitting from these accounts: Appleby. Ever heard of them? Probably not. It’s a law firm that helps people in high places secure offshore accounts, that were prohibited under U.S. jurisdictions. Formed during the Gilded Age of the late 1800’s, the company currently employs 200 lawyers
and has 31,000 U.S clients, 12,000 Bermuda clients and 14,000 UK clients. According to the leak, Appleby has continuously provided services to the rich and encourages them to open these accounts to evade taxes. The royal robber barons: In the late 19th century, robber barons stole from the poor in an unethical and uncivilized manner. Queen Elizabeth II’s actions seem to be drawing parallels to these more corrupt times. According to the Paradise Papers, Queen Elizabeth is exploiting the poor through an investment into an offshore business in the Cayman Islands. The Queen has invested millions of pounds into a previously undisclosed business that preys on the financially vulnerable families within the Kingdom. The name of this company is Brighthouse, which provides day-to-day services such as television and refrigeration to high-credit consumers. Brighthouse overcharged customers and used hard sell tactics on people with mental health problems and learning disabilities. Karma finally hit them when the company was ordered to pay £14.8m in compensation to 249,000 customers this past October. The Queen’s representatives deny these allegations, stating that the Queen was “unaware” the company was pulling from the lower class’ wallets. They also implied that the fact that the Queen’s funds were being pushed offshore into the Cayman Islands was an inadvertent coincidence. This argues that the write off of all the income from Brighthouse on stake funds is unintentional. Trudeau’s tax haven: According to these documents, Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, has continuously distributed his wealth through multiple offshore accounts legally in order to avoid taxes in the U.S, Canada, and Israel. Stephen Bronfman, a business figure in Canada, has assisted Trudeau in this process. According to multiple tax experts, Bronfman’s company, Claridge, has violated tax law. Specifically, he is using other small companies to move his assets and entities around. Trudeau, with the assistance of Bronfman’s motives, demonstrate yet again how significant these papers are, exposing powerful figures for the truth behind obscene wealth. As more and more of these papers come about, more and more influential, significant people are exposed for financial corruption. Who will be the next domino to fall?
Imagine a competition where hundreds of kids are grouped together to climb a ladder to see who goes the highest and who goes the fastest. The catch: they aren’t all equipped with the same climbing gear and skills; some kids are given grapples and gloves, climbing powder and specialized shoes, while others are thrown into the competition bare. Worse, other kids are at a complete disadvantage—a couple of fingers missing, a leg or an arm gone. Despite all of this initial disparity, they’re all graded the same. Climb that ladder. While this might seem like the beginning of a lifeor-death competition in the next dystopian young adult novel, this metaphor mirrors our school system. A large group of kids are pushed together to see who can go the highest and the fastest. Who will start taking the most AP’s, and who will score the highest in those tests? Who will start prepping for the ACT/ SAT and who will get the best score? Who will go to what school, and how does that school rank among the rest? It’s a game, it’s a competition, and it’s not healthy. Let’s explore our first issue: the acceleration of businesses in education. Education has long been a business. However, in the last several years it has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry. We’ve all seen the advertisements proclaiming you can “boost your test score,” and “get into your dream school,”— but only if you are willing to throw a significant amount of money at tutors and programs. Although there is a lot of debate on whether these resources are necessary, the intended message these advertisers are pushing for is very clear: you can buy your scores and education. Furthermore, this sales pitch seems to be working, because according to Global Industry Analysts Incorporated, online education alone has become a $107 billion dollar industry as of 2015. Presumably, that number will only grow, due to an exponentially increasing student population and 24
steadily increasing competition. Those who play different parts in the school system have different views on the necessity of the tutors, classes, and programs available. Mrs. Burton, our college and career counselor, declared that between the internet and our school, there are resources equivalent to what you would get from a tutor. “I personally don’t think a student here would need to hire a tutor,” she stated. Instead of investing hundreds of dollars in preparation programs and tutoring, Burton advocates spending $13 on a single book, Admission Matters 4th Edition, that she feels covers everything. “The authors maintain a website and they cover the entire college process, they address everything; from how to research a school to how to apply.” Although this doesn’t cover SAT/ACT testing, there are many other books written for ACT and SAT prep. However, students Sydney Sherman and Kelsey Kussman, seniors at CCA, disagreed. They both argued that although they studied independently, they struggled to see the results they wanted. However, after hiring a tutor, their ACT scores went up by four points, an increase that they don’t believe would have happened without the help of their tutors. While there are books, counselors, and other resources available, there is something to be said for the use of tutors and increase in scores that come with them. When this problem was discussed with Mr. Killeen, CCA’s principal, he commented,“it’s a game, and it needs to be fixed.” He recounted his own experience and said that using prep courses and tutors was unusual when he was in high school, but now the widespread perception is that you have to take them. The SAT/ACT is supposed to be a nationalized measurement of what each student learns through school and how well it prepares them for college, and the addition of tutors and classes is unfair to students who cannot afford these expensive measures. Mrs. Travasos, an AP English teacher and Yearbook ad-
visor, commented, “The measurement is skewed. If it’s supposed to be a nationalized measurement but some people can hire a tutor and others can’t, then it’s not a fair measuring stick anymore.” Similar to the advantages that privileged students receive with the SAT and ACT, AP classes are also advantages that only pertain to some. Not all schools offer AP classes, and not all colleges account for the weight of AP classes. This is both an advantage and disadvantage for the students of schools that offer AP classes. They have an advantage because they get a chance to inflate their GPA’s and look impressive to colleges through a schedule of rigorous courses. However, when these courses do not count as GPA boosters and instead are evaluated as a regular course, these students are at a disadvantage. A “B” in an AP class is not equivalent to a “B” in a college prep course, but to that college, it is the same. This system is unfair, and it goes both ways. AP classes have also brought an immense amount of pressure and stress on students that needs to be addressed. One proposed solution to remove this pressure is to eradicate the weighting system behind our AP courses. Mr. Killeen supported this solution, commenting that some students need that extra push and challenge that AP classes give, so AP classes shouldn’t just be thrown out, but something needs to change. “We have some kids that we need to engage with rigorous classes for the right reasons,” and taking the weight off AP classes would solve the problem of students taking them for the wrong reasons (parental or communal pressure, competition, etc.). Mrs. Travasos agreed, “That would eliminate the problem. If you took off the weight and you’re just in it for the learning and preparation it gives you for your next steps, that might be a great idea.” However, this would have to be a nation-wide movement, otherwise the schools who implemented it would be at a disadvantage compared to those who keep their inflated GPA’s. Our school’s increasingly competitive culture has unintentionally pushed upon students a presumed “need” to do many things: the “need” to stack up on AP’s, the “need” to get a 4.0 or higher, and the “need” to get into a “big name school.” This is what our students feel pressured to achieve. Mr. Killeen comments, “I’ve met with parents before who said ‘my kid has to get into a named university.’ What even is a named university?” Tehila Cherry, a junior at CCA, said that she never even realized how competitive CCA was until she experienced school in another country and came back to our environment. She described her educational experiences in Israel as being a little more out of the ordinary. “We went on field trips twice a week learning about the history of Israel. I
learned so much, but also met new people and had a good time and didn’t stress about my grades. Then, I came back and [thought] ‘this is so messed up [referring to CCA’s competitive setting].’” Many students feel that they must take all of the AP’s offered, get a perfect score on their standardized tests, and attend the college that everyone’s heard of, but why? In the context of high school and college, our community is currently more concerned with what looks best rather than what is best for our students. Mrs. Maniscalco, a counselor at CCA, stated, “I think if our students really looked outside of those textbook schools that everyone applies to, they would find some schools that are a really good fit for them. I feel like we have so many students that all want to go to Berkeley, UCLA, or USC, and it might not be the best fit school for that student, but because of the social, peer, or self pressure, they apply to these schools. I think students could be really happy at schools they wouldn’t expect.” Mrs. Burton also added, “So many schools are out there with so many wonderful programs, and they don’t expect students to be perfect.” Seven CCA staff members were asked, “Do you believe where you go to college will determine how your life is going to end up?” All answered with a steadfast “No.” Mr. Killeen said, “I can tell you, I’ve done this before with parents in a room: ‘raise your hand if anyone has asked you recently where you got your bachelor’s degree.’ No one raised their hand.” The school system has a lot of faults, and they’re commonly picked at but not commonly targeted for reform. As a community, we need to stop pressuring ourselves and our peers into loading up on APs, supporting the idea that you must go to an Ivy League school, and overly obsessing over the SAT/ACT. We can start by finding a better way to evaluate students that pertains to everyone’s type of learning and social class, possibly eradicating the weight of APs, or simply taking note of how toxic the pressure has become and making a personal resolution to not contribute to it. 25
The Perfect Venue for Graduations, Proms or any School Celebrations!
Whether you’re celebrating your graduate with a tranquil group dinner, hosting an After Prom Party or organizing a school event, Seasalt Del Mar offers private event space that can accommodate up to 170 guests. From outdoor patio space overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon to private indoor space with a 50” TV, Seasalt provides the perfect venue to host any school event, party or function. To begin planning your event, please call or email Sal at 858.864.9598 or Sal1@seasaltdelmar.com. View details on our event spaces and banquet menus at SeasaltDelMar.com. 2282 Carmel Valley Rd. Del Mar, CA 92014
Once again, it’s the time of year where the seniors have finished their college applications and become sitting ducks, impatiently waiting for decisions. The college application process has always been murky. Students are constantly wondering: is it better to get a lower grade in a harder course or a higher grade in an easier course? If I send in all of my test scores, will the lower scores be held against me? Most importantly, does early action or early decision boost my chances of getting into a certain school? While early action allows students to apply early without having to commit to acceptance offers, the early decision option has become much more popular over the years, designed for students that are certain of their first-choice school. Students are sure to receive an earlier response, but they enter a binding contract with the college, which means that once they are admitted, they are required to enroll. There are always caveats to this situation. For one, applicants should be cautious with applying early decision when their grades or standardized test scores wouldn’t necessarily help their case against the stronger applicants in the early pool. Contrary to the popular belief that applying early means fewer applicants and greater chances of acceptance, higher admission rates may only be connected to stronger candidate profiles in the early decision pool. This might not be true for all situations though. Tulane University and Chapman University notably encourage students to apply early regardless of their stats. Thus, it is crucial that applicants have researched the college extensively and have found that the institution is a strong match academically, socially, and geographically. Students shouldn’t rush the process and apply to too many early schools, especially when senior year is just getting started and the early application becomes a major time crunch. On the other hand, applying early decision does demonstrate strong interest towards the school and can boost applicants if they are academically strong and on the cusp of an acceptance. Mrs. Bahner, one of our CCA counselors, and Ms. Burton, CCA’s College and Career Center representative, both agree that if a student has visited the school and researched the school’s programs and its student life, then early action/decision “may be your best opportunity to get into that school.” Legacies, athletes, and development cases also have a decent advantage when it comes to applying early. It is recommended that
students jumpstart their essays during the summer and then fine-tune them during the school year, especially for early applicants. Moreover, applying early can cut the time spent waiting for a decision and allow the student to reassess their options if they are not accepted. It could also relieve students from filling out more regular decision applications if they’re accepted. Consequently, attention could be focused more on preparing oneself for college and enjoying senior year activities that may be a more efficient use of one’s time. According to a national dataset collected by Niche (an online resource for students to research colleges), on average, students are about 15% more likely to get into their chosen school through early action/ decision plans compared to regular decision. The CCA population also leaned towards the benefits of the early decision plan, being able to potentially get through the college application process and reap the rewards of hard work earlier. Aman Kakkad, a CCA student that was recently accepted to NYU through their early decision program, expressed that “it [is] such an amazing feeling cause [NYU] was my dream school and I knew that no matter what, I wanted to move to NYC and [start] the new chapter of my life there.” However, another CCA student who only applied through regular decision expressed the idea of the process as “self-reflection in an unhealthy way,” as well as “rushed.” She wished to “present herself [optimally] to colleges” instead of rushing the process just to meet a deadline. It’s important to keep in mind that admission representatives want to hear your voice, thoughtfulness, and demonstrated interest in those personal statements. There are so many factors that are out of one’s control, so students shouldn’t take it personally if they are denied admission. So, as always, may the odds be ever in your favor!
Plastic’s Not Fantastic by Kaylynn O’Curran
To survive you cannot go more than three days without water, and the average teenager requires roughly 70 ounces a day. It is unsurprising, then, that people have found a way to carry water around in efficient, fashionable ways. This is done with reusable water bottles, such as Hydro Flasks, and they can be found everywhere. If you’re in a classroom right now, look to your left, and there’s a good chance you’ll see three of them. They have infiltrated the campus and whether they are decorated with indie band stickers, a local coffee shop sticker, or au naturale, you’re bound to see one sticking out of a backpack on campus. They hold various amounts of water, from 40 oz to 12 oz, and everyone who’s anyone has one. They are just so in style right now. But what effect does not using a Hydro have on us and the world? According to One Green Planet, many chemicals used to make plastic bottles, including BPA and Phthalates, affect the human endocrine system in a very negative way. Huffington Post contributor and author Zion Lights says that some effects include “certain types of cancer, neurological difficulties, early puberty in girls, reduced fertility in women, premature labour, and defects in newborn babies.” Plastic is non-biodegradable, but rather photodegradable, meaning it breaks down into smaller pieces over a very long period of time due to sunlight, until it is able to be turned into carbon dioxide. But, according to Pollution Solutions, this can take up to 50 years just for one piece of plastic and takes even longer underwater where sunlight is weaker. This in turn pollutes
our waterways and contaminates our soil. Olivia Platia of Lafayette College, says, “on average, Americans use about 50 billion water bottles every year and only 23% of these plastic water bottles are recycled, meaning 38 billion plastic water bottles are thrown into landfills or become pollution.” Ocean Conservatory agrees, saying that plastic bottles and plastic bags are the largest found pollutant on our beaches and in our oceans. These bottles require huge amounts of fossil fuels to make and transport, not to mention that they are made using a petroleum output known as polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This chemical leaks estrenogetic compounds into water bottles, which in turn can negatively affect humans and their offspring. Sarah Goodman of the New York Times says, “[The] FDA regulates bottled water as a food and cannot require certified lab testing or violation reporting. Furthermore, [the] FDA does not require bottled water companies to disclose to consumers where the water came from, how it has been treated or what contaminants it contains.” Sarah states there are numerous loopholes water bottle companies can slip through because they are not regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act. This act, enforced by the EPA for tap water, must state information about where the water comes from and how it is processed. Moreover, plastic bottles end up in landfills with their toxic chemicals sinking into the Earth or in our streets where they can easily end up in the ocean. These plastics are often mistaken for food by sea ani-
mals. According to IFL Science, some scientists report that ingesting plastic has killed more than 100,000 animals a year. These animals are dying all because of something that could easily be stopped. One Green Planet says, “One albatross that was recently found dead on a Hawaiian island had a stomach full of 119 bottle caps. A sperm whale was found dead on a North American beach recently with a plastic gallon bottle which had gummed up it’s small intestine. The [whale’s] body was full of plastic material including other plastic bottles, bottle caps and plastic bags.” Fortunately, our school seems to be environmentally aware. With 77% of students surveyed having reusable water bottles, it’s very obvious how our community feels. This could have a lot to do with how close we are to the ocean. Or, when asked, the majority of students agree it has become a trend to carry them around. Many problems could be eliminated and many benefits would arise if reusable water bottles were the go-to source of hydration for everyone, not just the majority. This would also come with financial benefits; you could buy a new plastic bottle every day for a dollar each, or you could spend $30 on a 21 oz. Hydro Flask and easily earn your money back. Filling the bottle is free and accessible, thanks to the hydration stations on campus. Some may say Hydro Flasks are overpriced, but there are cheaper options and they can’t see the whole picture; sure, you may pay $40 dollars for a 32 oz water holder but ice cubes that remain solid for an entire day are priceless.