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BEST OF 2020/2021




Local college students feel pressure of remote learning Suburban college students have had to adapt to remote learning during the pandemic.


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As a nation, we must not lose understanding of 9/11 Approach 9/11 with a new lens, one which teaches us to come together, as a nation.

Married before their transition, a transgender couple faces many challenges Serenity Gray spent most of her life trying to live a life for other people, but that changed

THE TEAM EDITOR-IN-CHIEF·············································· Sadie Romeo MANAGING EDITOR········································· Nicole Littlefield ENTERTAINMENT WRITER···························· Cody Wagner STAFF WRITER···················································· Kevin Ashley STAFF WRITER···················································· Gabriella Gallardo STAFF WRITER···················································· Liam Sheriff STAFF WRITER···················································· JoJo Baker MULTIMEDIA EDITOR······································ Danny Olivares GRAPHICS EDITOR··········································· Jessica Tapia PUBLICATIONS EDITOR································· Brenton Russo ADVISER································································· Jim Fuller



Citizen Climate Lobby’s best solution to save the environment and the economy There is a way for the country to go “green” without hurting the economy.

The Courier (SRC 1220) 425 Fawell Blvd. Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

Album review: Marilyn Manson’s “We are Chaos” Showcases a StillEvolving Rockstar He may of created contorvery, but he still gained many adoring fans.


editor@cod.edu • (630) 942-2679 • codcouier.org The Courier is published every Tuesday during the fall and spring semesters, except for the first and last Wednesday of each semester and the week of spring break as a public forum with content chosen by student editors. The Courier does not knowingly accept advertisement that discriminate on the basis of sex, creed, religion, color, handicapped status, veteran or sexual orientation, nor does it knowingly print ads that violate local, state or federal law.


Words can be an invisible weapon or a tool used to encourage, thank, protect and support loved ones who are facing COVID-19 together. A volunteer organization, ASEZ (Save the Earth from A to Z), hosted a panel discussion on March 10 promoting the “No More Verbal Abuse” Campaign. The campaign emphasizes the importance of positive words. The goal of the campaign is to encourage many to become aware and use kind words and phrases to our family and peers such as: “I believe you can do it.” “You deserve to be respected.” “Thank you for being with me.” “Failure is a part of growth.” ASEZ, started by the World Mission Society Church of God, is an international social service, victim relief and environmental protection organization consisting of university students. Understanding the Broken Window Theory, they believe in promoting healthy living and caring for the environment through partnership. The Broken Window Theory was developed by James Q. Wilson and George Kelling in 1982. Their theory links disorder and incivility within a community to subsequent occurrences of serious crime. In the seminar, ASEZ explained that the brain responds the same way to emotional and physical abuse. Words can cause a lifetime of psychological impacts and can damage someone’s self-esteem, which affects their ability to be curious, learn, debate and tolerate. Maria Carcamo, a COD student majoring in psychology, has researched the devastating impacts of saying or hearing damaging words. “I’ve seen research that shows that we are often wrong about ourselves,”Carcamo said. “It can be very hurtful because someone can say something once and whatever is said you’ll say to yourself for the rest of your life. When you face verbal abuse, you are going to continue to believe that and say that to yourself continuously.” Another topic that was discussed was how to fix and reassess ourselves when we do say

the wrong thing. When the wrong thing is said, we cannot simply say, “Sorry,” and move on. You have to fix what is wrong. In public relations or business management, it is best to acknowledge, apologize and address. All of these steps are needed in order to move forward. New York Politician Venessa L. Gibson said, “I appreciate all of the work of ASEZ. When you talk about saving the earth from A to Z there is so much in that conversation. It is about behavior, practices, vision, commitment to our community, giving young people opportunities and so much more. When people are struggling with necessities, the right words can encourage people. Words are more powerful than a sword. Words are meant to help and not hurt. Words are meant to show acceptance and tolerance and not discrimination. Words are meant to show equality that we are working together no matter what or who we are.”

For more info about ASEZ, visit asez.org.


NEWS LOCAL COLLEGE STUDENTS FEEL PRESSURE OF REMOTE LEARNING Nicole Littlefield, Managing Editor • March 9, 2021 Going into her second semester at Western Michigan University, Annie Walinder was excited to be at a four-year university. As an engineering major, most of Walinder’s classes were geared toward her degree. Then, the coronavirus pandemic began spreading around the globe, and the world shut down. By March, Western Michigan University sent students home and resorted to online learning. “Michigan did not handle the pandemic well, and my school particularly didn’t handle the pandemic well,” said Walinder. “When we shut down in the middle of the (fall) semester, I had engineering classes and two of my professors stopped teaching. I decided to not be trapped in a dorm room for a whole year with a roommate, and I decided that living with my parents and getting good food was a better option. So I came to College of DuPage.” Walinder isn’t the only student who decided to go the inexpensive route and attend community college instead of going to a fouryear university. Anahi Gonzalez was a senior in high school when the pandemic began, but after graduating she also decided to attend COD. “Am I really going to pay 12 grand to sit in my dorm and not even attend classes because


I’ll be doing them in my room? Well, I’ll just do that at home and take the classes for cheaper,” Gonzalez said. Other than the cost, technological issues are the biggest complaint students have. Not only do students have to have a reliable internet connection as well as a functioning computer to even access their classes, but students may not understand the program. McHenry County College student Megan O’Neill said the distance makes it harder to get help when problems arise. “Technical difficulties get in the way of online learning. Everyone has experienced an internet outage,” O’Neill said. “Another struggle is when the professor writes an assignment and it’s unclear what they want. It makes it difficult to do the assignment if you don’t know what they want.” Walinder said it’s a misconception that distance learning means students are awash in free time. “Even though there’s extra time during the day because you’re not driving, it feels like there’s less time to get things done,” she said. “I think it is because of all the distractions of staying in your own house. Parents, looking out the window, animals, siblings if you have

them, all of that is distracting. Everything is more distracting.” Many students work in their bedrooms, meaning they are working where they are sleeping. Although the students are physically talking to people through their screens, their brains aren’t convinced. O’Neill said staying in the same room where you sleep for school, school activities, and possibly even work, is tolling on the psyche. “Most people find it difficult to separate work and play,” she said. “Since COVID, everybody’s doing their own makeshift home office. It’s hard to separate your personal life from school.” For some students, like Elgin Community College’s Jack Garity, being forced to take classes online to further their education is in direct conflict with how they learn best.

This article, written by Courier Managing Editor, Nicole Littlefield, originally appeared in the Daily Herald on March 4, 2021.

NEWS TIGHTENING UP HOUSE BILL 3653: POLICE REFORM IN ILLINOIS Sadie Romero, Editor-in-Chief • February 9, 2021 The Illinois General Assembly was under the gun. Working until almost 3 a.m. to ensure full completion by its dissolve at noon later that day, Jan. 13th, they created a bill that would set a new precedent for police reform in the state. It was a now-or-never situation, Tom Ross, program manager of College of DuPage’s Suburban Law Enforcement Academy (SLEA), said. “They cobbled it together, and they told the legislatures: ‘You are either voting for it or not. What are you going to do?’ Of course, a lot of people said, ‘I really like it. I would vote for it if it had this, this, and this.’ Well, it didn’t matter because they had to get it out. They were running out of runway. It was now or never. So, they passed it.” House Bill 3653 would bring long awaited police reform, addressing areas of police misconduct such as chokeholds, escape and training. It passed in the Senate early that morning with a 32-23 vote, and later in the House with a 60-50 vote. The legislation has yet to be signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who has expressed support and openness in changing laws that do not correctly serve the state of Illinois and its people. “This criminal justice package carries with it the opportunity to shape our state into a lesson in true justice for the nation,” the governor said in a statement taken to Twitter. Working in internal affairs as former police chief of Bolingbrook and as a law enforcement trainer for 25 years, Ross has seen “bad apples,” which the bill aims to remove. “Usually, internal affairs issues fall under one of two things. Either, conduct that is illegal – illegal for you to do, illegal for anybody to do, and illegal for a police officer to do. And then policy violations, which are only wrong because they are a police officer and they broke a policy,” Ross said. These issues and policy violations are oftentimes addressed through retraining, punishment and, in some cases, dismissal. However, the new bill would grant the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB) overarching regulation and the ability to certify police officers to work or revoke certification. The training and standards board is also responsible for the creation of police academy curriculum and training across the state. While working to remove these “bad apples,” lawmakers also included an expanded definition of a chokehold, giving less leniency to officers in the case of police misconduct. Ross says that he did not learn chokeholds at the academy in 1987,

and he assures that they certainly do not exist within SLEA’s curriculum at COD. Now, however, the bill tightens up what constitutes a chokehold. It would prohibit any contact above the neck and, specifically, anything that would lead to the restriction of airflow. While protecting suspects against police misconduct, specifically chokeholds, critics of the proposed legislation suggest that some areas of the bill favor suspects rather than victims. One example of this is “Escape” Sec. 5-8A-4.1. Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie L. Mosser outlined the section’s problematic language in an address to Illinois State Senators and Representatives. The section says a person who escapes from home monitoring (an ankle bracelet) cannot and will not be charged with escape until 48 hours following the escape. Skeptics say this gives the suspect a 48-hour window to potentially commit another crime or serve as a further threat to the victim or to the public. Mosser gave the example of a defendant charged with Aggravated Domestic Battery for strangling his wife: “This defendant cuts off his bracelet and sits outside of his wife’s home. The defendant comes back to his home 47 hours later. Nothing can be done to this defendant, and the trauma to the victim is immeasurable. Since there appears to be no purpose to this law and the consequences to the safety of victims and our community greatly, I urge you to remove this language.” Since then, no changes have been made to this language. There are some provisions within the bill prosecutors, both liberal and conservative alike, have trouble supporting. Ross said, however, it is more so in the way certain sections are written and the uncertainty surrounding their execution that causes skepticism. “The law is the law, the way it is written. But, some of that language needs to be cleaned up.” Ross said, “There are issues with some of the language that is going to make it very difficult for prosecutors to protect victims. I think what we are going to see is a series of trailer bills to clean up some of that language from unintended consequences, which is a good thing.” This language is seen in the section of pre-trial release and cash bail, Ross said. While in support of eliminating cash bail, he points out the necessity for safeguards in this section. This would, instead, allow judges the decision to deny pre-trial release based on a suspect’s threat to society and the

likelihood that they would show up in court. In his 30-plus years working in the field, Ross cannot recall a time he has seen police unions, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Illinois Sheriff’s Association get together to agree on remotely anything. These three groups make up The Illinois Law Enforcement Coalition, a major opponent of the bill. In a group statement to the press, the Coalition said: “We had been working in good faith with the Attorney General on a bill that would make great strides to modernize law enforcement, but that legislation was dumped into this monster bill and the result is a betrayal of the public trust that gives many more advantages to criminals than the police. It ties the hands of police officers while pursuing suspects and making arrests, and allows criminals to run free while out on bail.” Ross finds this very telling. “If they, as a group, feel that way, I think there is something there saying there are some problems with this bill that do not protect victims that well as the day before the bill is put into effect,” he said. “There will be less protection for victims, and that is problematic.” However, Ross clarified that the bill is not supposed to advantage the police. The police work for the public. Instead, does it benefit suspects more than victims? That is where he has an issue – when there is not a victim focus. “I do not think that was the intent,” Ross said. “I just think that is something we need to change. Do suspects need their rights protected? For sure, they do. But probably not at the expense of the public.”



Environmentalists are raising concerns over a new law that could devastate an already dwindling number of ponds, marshes, swamps and bogs throughout the state of Indiana. These wetland areas provide flood protection from residents and preserve precious habitat for local wildlife. The new law could have a ripple effect that stretches as far as the College of DuPage. Wetlands are a vital part of the ecosystem throughout all of the Midwest, especially near the Great Lakes Basin. Indra Frank, the director of environmental health and water policy for the Hoosier Environmental Council, emphasized the crucial role wetlands play throughout Indiana and the surrounding states. “Wetlands are a very important part of the overall water system,” Frank said. “They filter out pollutants, store excess storm water and allow it to soak in downward and recharge our groundwater. Wetlands reduce flooding and they provide critical habitat for many species. In fact, many of the endangered and threatened species in Indiana depend on wetlands.” The threatened and endangered species that dwell in Indiana’s wetlands, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, include the Copperbelly Water Snake, the Eastern Massasauga (a species of rattlesnake) and the Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid. The Hoosier Environmental Council, an environmental advocacy, policy and education organization in Indiana, is one of over 100 groups that petitioned for Gov. Holcomb to veto the wetlands bill. Environmental advocacy groups, however, weren’t the only organizations to oppose the controversial bill. According to Frank, a diverse selection of Hoosier organizations also signed on to save the wetlands. “It was also hunting and fishing organizations, faith organizations, civic groups and professional organizations – all urging the governor to veto the bill,” Frank said. “So now that the bill’s been signed and has become law, we intend to work with this unprecedented coalition that has formed to find what are the best options for preserving Indiana’s remaining wetlands going forward.” With such vocal opposition from all across the state of Indiana, why exactly was the bill signed into a law? The Indiana Builders Association and the Indiana


Farm Bureau were the state’s two biggest supporters of the bill. Both organizations were interested in limiting government regulations, which they believed would inhibit economic growth. The new law allows for the development of Indiana’s Class I Wetlands. Class I Wetlands are described by the State of Indiana as wetland areas that had previously been disturbed or partially destroyed by human intervention and those that have a reduced capacity for habitat support. The law also significantly reduces protection for Class II Wetlands, which the State of Indiana defines as wetlands that are isolated or in developed subdivisions. Although the Indiana wetlands law includes the implementation of a wetlands task force to make recommendations on future use and development of wetlands, their power to enact change is slim to none. The recommendations made by the task force, according to Frank, are just that- recommendations. “It would make more logical sense to have that wetlands task force process first and then make revisions to the law,” Frank said. “But instead, what we have is major revisions to the law and then the test course afterwards. So that’s another unfortunate aspect of this bill.” As Frank pointed out, wetland destruction is hardly a recent development in the Hoosier State. “Indiana is a very water rich state,” Frank said. “Before European settlement, it was estimated that about 25% of Indiana land was wetlands. During the settlement process the wetlands were drained to make way for towns and farms. In the 1990s, Indiana State agencies estimated that [Indiana] had already lost 85% of the original wetlands.” With a large majority of Indiana’s remaining wetlands being put on the chopping block, the effects could potentially be devastating. The immediate repercussions of wetland development would be in northeast Indiana, where most of the state’s wetlands and lakes are located. Remic Ensweiler, the manager of COD’s natural areas, believed the effects could be far more expansive. “I would argue that it affects Illinoisans because we actually share the same river basin,” Ensweiler said. “What happens in Indiana comes downstream to the

Mississippi River through Illinois and through our developed land and farmland. “That water is going to have to go somewhere because there’s still going to be the same amount of runoff,” Ensweiler continued. “The importance of these wetlands is to help sponge up water, because otherwise that water just goes rushing into our buildings, basements or even into the farmland where it takes off topsoil and erodes the canals and rivers.” As the natural areas manager at COD, a portion of Ensweiler’s duties is to maintain the various wetlands throughout the main campus. The wetlands on the college’s grounds, according to Ensweiler, play a vital role in water filtration and the prevention of flooding locally. “Where the current BIC building is, just to the south of it, there was a huge reservoir,” Ensweiler said. “If you look at old pictures, you’ll see that there was a huge body of water where now there is a parking lot. In order to engineer around that, these wetlands were created. “While I do have other duties, like restoring historic habitats and historic prairie,” Ensweiler continued. “I also have to make sure that [the wetlands] are the most functional wetlands they can be.” Wetlands, as close to home as COD and as far away as Indiana, have an immense environmental impact on the sustainability of communities, the reliability of infrastructure and the livelihoods of individuals. The unlikely group of Hoosier organizations and companies who came together to fight the recent Indiana law have pledged to continue to push against the state’s antiwetland legislation. According to Frank, the fight isn’t over. “There are members of that coalition that are going to continue to meet and work on other routes, including additional legislation in future years,” Frank explained. “It’s going to mean watching that task force process and making sure that good information is fed into the task force. We’re also going to be looking at incentives for property owners to preserve wetlands and whether those incentives can be bolstered.”

FEATURES AS A NATION, WE MUST NOT LOSE UNDERSTANDING OF 9/11 Sadie Romero, Editor-in-Chief • September 11, 2020 “Planes hitting a building.” Theodore Darden, professor of Justice Studies at College of DuPage, remembers those four words repeating in his head over and over again throughout his 2 ½ hour car ride home on Sept. 11, 2001. “I was trying to come to an understanding. What were we actually witnessing?” He began to ask himself questions. “Is this going to happen in every city? What is going to be next? Is it going to hit our subways, our bus systems? How do we secure ourselves?” Just before 8:46 a.m. EST, Darden was on a military base, Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, training at the State Patrol Academy, along with law enforcement from all across the state. “Class had just started,” Darden remembered, “The instructor was talking. His pager buzzed. He looked at it and started reading, ‘Plane hits the World Trade Center.’ He begins reading out loud because he was in disbelief of what he is reading. By the time he got to the word ‘hits,’ all of our pagers started going off. It sounded like a beehive. It was buzz, buzz, buzz. Everyone was grabbing their pagers, and we are all reading the same thing. We all just stared at each other in disbelief.” He remembers everyone rushing out of the classroom and into the room that had a television. Right as they turned it on, they saw with their very own eyes, the second plane hit the second tower. At that moment, Darden knew. He recalls the feeling of the room. They all knew it was an act of terrorism. None of the law enforcement could leave the room, he said, their eyes were glued onto the television in utter disbelief until the first building collapsed. Shortly after, they were all immediately called back to their departments. “By the time we were leaving, the alarm

was going off on the base,” Darden said. “Everything was already blocked off. They had soldiers out, fully armed. They had these large cement barriers that blocked the road. The only people they were letting off that base were us. They were on high alert. It changed the world forever.” Sept. 11, 2001 stands as the most deadly

events that took place on Sept.11th, in a way, created the norm that this nation sees in the 21st century. “For younger people, I suffice to say, it is starting to fade, a lot,” Darden said. “I think the reality of what happened and how it changed our lives forever, it is starting to change. We are witnessing a pandemic, which no one had ever experienced on this level since 100 years ago. We are talking about an economic crisis unlike you’ve ever seen before. Social unrest, which this country has seen throughout its history, but has never fully gotten a grasp of. And now, we are coming up on 9/11, talking about a nation that should be thinking about what happened that day and how it impacted all of us. But isn’t it ironic how divisive it seems the nation is, right as we are about to remember a day that supposedly brought us all together? How is this day going to look beyond this?” The terrorist attack quickly brought a massive wave of patriotism into the United States. In former President George W. Bush’s famous Bullhorn Speech, the streets of New York City cheered, unitedly, as Bush ululated a message to the terrorists: “The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” Yet, foreign attack on the nation, yet, its layers Darden points out that, in the current day, reveal so much more than just that. It changed such a sense of patriotism is almost unknown the scope of life as an American, for every to some. person. Darden recalls a day when the words “We looked to our first responders and “international terrorism,” even “domestic our military, at that time, when we really got terrorism,” he said, were almost unknown in into this patriotic mood, and now, we are at smaller communities. When some Americans a crossroads when we are talking about ‘our didn’t assume all Muslims and Islamists were police are too militarized,’” he said. “So, radicalized. When the federal government did what does 9/11 really mean in terms of not have access to an individual’s information remembrance? We went through the Fourth while obtaining no warrant, simply based on of July this year, and I cannot remember what their internet search history. When national it looked like–Labor Day, Memorial Day. All security was not largely politicized. Yet, the these things have taken a back seat -this is


FEATURES HOW THE GLEN ELLYN FOOD BANK IS HELPING TO SAVE LIVES OF THOUSANDS Kevin Ashley, Staff Writer • November 24, 2020 The Glen Ellyn food pantry to be put to the test they had to also their entire method of serving people in order to minimize the spread of the virus. In 1979 the food pantry was first opened by the youth group of the Grace Lutheran Church. This pantry quickly grew as they wanted to help more and more people in some of their darkest times. They branched out and looked for volunteers and employees in order to improve upon their ability to help people. In order to help keep families fed. As of today, the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry has helped over 32,000 individuals from its conception get good meals and is available to help 11 separate towns (Addison, Bloomingdale, Glen Ellyn, Glendale Heights, Lombard, Lisle, Warrenville, West Chicago, Wheaton and Winfield). COVID-19 and the subsequent job losses incurred by the lockdowns have left millions of Americans without work and barely staying above water. These events have obviously affected DuPage county as well and the towns that are served by the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry

are relying on it more than ever. “It [COVID-19] has changed every single thing that we do,” said the manager of food pantry services, Terri Venzon. “We had to put in place every procedure differently in order to keep serving our clients in a safe environment.” Instead of allowing people in the building to browse, now individuals who want food from the pantry must first set up an appointment and choose the items they need online or by phone. Then those needing the food can come to a curb-side pick to collect the food. Rich Wloszek, who is in charge of stocking the food pantry, said even as there is more need for food, the pandemic has made it harder to stock the pantry. “Acquiring food is a lot different now than in the past,” Wloszek said. “We had to discontinue our food recovery operation, which was bringing in between 10,000 to 12,000 pounds of food every week from our grocer patterns for several months. We were supplying clients with purchased food from the Northern Illinois Food Bank and local donation.”

The Glen Ellyn Food Pantry was hit hard by the pandemic but has managed to restore some limited access to their old partners and by doing so they have managed to restock on items they couldn’t get through other means. “It is kinda more of a balancing act now than it was before. We find ourselves scrambling for food now, but we always manage to get enough. It’s just that it is coming from different places in different ways” says Wloszek. The food drives hosted by the Glen Ellyn Food Bank have been very successful. People in all 11 townships donate what they can to help people in need. Many different organizations, whether they are managed by the food bank or are completely independent, just show up with bags of food. Venzon and Wloszek believe that Seeing the community come together in this way is incredibly heartwarming as everyone is trying to get through this crisis together.

Learn how you can help at glenellynfoodpantry.org 7


When Christopher Aquino started teaching English at Wheaton Warrenville South High School nearly 30 years ago, the classrooms set up and teaching methods looked very similar to when he was a student. “When we were given an assignment, we just did it, and a lot of the time no one was given any special accommodation except for special circumstances. In the beginning, I don’t remember having to break down assignments into really small steps. You would just say go home and make this poster for me over the next three days and dazzle me. Now it is go home and make this poster for me. Here is exactly what I want on it, here is exactly the criteria for it and here and what I want you to get out of it.” As time went on, he found himself having to change his teaching style. Aquino adapted to help students with different needs to achieve the goals of the class. The longer he teaches the more he learns to be more efficient. This way he can get the most out of students without having to add extra steps. “I can do one assignment here and have those

skills be used over and over again down the line,” Aquino said. “We call it scaffolding. My style has changed in order to play towards my students’ strengths.” However, nothing could’ve prepared him for the sudden shock of the pandemic. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it caused massive shockwaves throughout the nation. In the early days, everything was shutting down and no one knew what was next. Teachers had to face new challenges because they had to completely redo their lessons for online learning. “No one in my generation went to school to teach live-streaming, right?” Aquino said. “No one knew how to teach hybrid and remote kids at the same time. Besides technical challenges, I think one of the biggest challenges was how do we adapt and overcome.” This led to a whole new way of teaching and a new challenge for keeping students engaged. In-person learning makes it easier for teachers to notice when a student is having difficulties in class. Now that most things are online teachers are having trouble trying to find possible

solutions. “We had to learn how to achieve our goals for the class in different ways,” Aquino said. “You can’t just say, ‘Oh I’ll just lecture you across the screen,’ because that doesn’t work. Just because you say it doesn’t mean they learned it.” This has led Aquino to be more mindful of his students. In order to make online learning work, teachers had to start from the ground and build up, which has led him to reconsider a lot of what he used to teach and how he taught it. Aquino has come to the conclusion that although the pandemic has been terrible it has helped him get better at using his time in class to touch upon everything. “From a logistics standpoint, better use of time because one of the things I’ve noticed over the years is it seems like it is more difficult to get through the same amount of material.” said Aquino. On top of that, he has found better ways to not only deliver his lessons but has also become more understanding of students’ situations because if someone doesn’t turn in their homework on time it’s not the end of the world.



After nearly a year of being cooped up in our houses, and with the vaccination being distributed, now is the perfect time to start cleaning your home. However, what is the best way to clean so things stay clean? Minimalism or ‘Minginmalism’ originated in China during the early Ming Dynasty (10th to 13th century). During this time living with balanced aesthetics and intellectual pursuits were valued over material enrichment. So began the concept of Feng Shui, making sure the order of a room and building creates the desired energy flow. According to this concept, one misplaced object creates an unwanted mess, both materially and emotionally. Netflix’s Documentary, “The Minimalists: Less Is Now,” shares how the accumulation of stuff became popular. Executive Director of Greenpeace USA Annie Leonard tells viewers, “Corporations and the drive for corporate profit are absolutely behind the addiction to stuff that we have in this country. Corporations structured in this country need to keep growing. A corporation is primarily committed to its shareholders and keeps delivering increased revenue, which is the foundation of capitalism, growth.” Nearly 70% of digital ad spending goes through just Google, Amazon, and Facebook. These institutions have artificial monopolies and even the manipulation of our interests. The author of “Total Money Makeover,” Dave Ramsey, shares, “Marketers are clever in their ability to manipulate the mind. Their ability to create a need or perceived need out of something that was wanted is apparent. We live in the most advertised-to culture in the history of the world. Hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising telling us we need this, and it affects (us).” Over $5 billion was spent on advertising in the United States during the 1950s. Now companies spend $240 billion a year today. People unconsciously give reverence to the stuff they desire to buy. If we have the mentality and say to ourselves, “If I just had that car, phone, house, or more, then I would be happy.” This mentality even becomes a spiritual matter because it competes with the things that matter. Although the Bible talks about the LORD giving blessings by giving many things like


family, homes, and businesses. President Cristina Rossier shares that the Bible also says about giving thanks for what we already have. Melchizedek Bible Study Club President Cristina Rossier shares her solution stating, “There are many teachings in the Bible about being thankful. Studying the Bible answers many questions bringing positivity to my life. For example, I now realize the value of just being grateful for what I have now. Since then, I made minimalism a habit by regarding the things I already have as important by giving thanks to perspective. I encourage anybody to contact me if anyone is interested in studying the Bible in-depth.” The feeling, ‘I will not be adequate if I do not have this,’ is unhealthy. We should not misplace our desire for belonging and satisfaction by buying more and not being grateful for what we already have. Instead of waiting for another January to start a New Year’s resolution or waiting for the spring cleaning, now is the time to start. COD student, Rachel Walker, even shared her experience after starting the habit of minimalism, “I ended up volunteering at a group called ASEZ (Save the Earth from A to Z). Most of the activities we do involve reducing crime by reducing clutter in neighborhoods. After practicing minimalism I want to continue that vision on the rest of the world and inspiring others to simplify their life as well. It just makes sense to clean the world.” The minimalist lifestyle is all about living with less in your homes. Not only the concept encourages owning fewer possessions, a person’s mentality changes by having less stress over small things in life. A clutterless existence is far happier than those obsessed with possessions over more substantial priorities, such as quality time and relationships by helping others. Similar to the minimalist lifestyle, ASEZ aims to bring about changes in people’s behaviors and build a society where everyone protects each other from crime starting with cleaning around their homes and working towards buildings and parks. They organize and conduct activities for students to work with other local university students. Additionally, carry out crime-free and clean up school campaigns to help younger students cultivate a sense of value in global

ethics rights and duties. Doing so can put the mindset of simple living into practice as they continue to grow. Society needs a booming economy. An aspiration to sell products for a living is acceptable. However, people should not lose sight of how shopping habits can become compulsive. For those who do not know me, I am an owner of seven cats, a student, a full-time worker, a position holder, and a cardio junkie. In other words, I am VERY busy. I have been sharing minimalism since I was sixteen. Growing up, I could not keep up with trends nor did I have the money to fund a glamorous lifestyle. Even now, I only made enough money to get by. Yet I became this natural organizer that thrives on creating systems. I realize a lot of my gratitude to my family, country, and the many people in my life started off because of the concept of Minimalism. I want those who are struggling to see the benefits as well. Nothing makes me happier than to see a community being united and the first step is to clean our homes to have a clear mindset. Another month of the saying, ‘New Year, new me,’ has passed. It is February. Now what? There is no way around the fact your space is still a mess. Living a minimalist lifestyle is the best style to keep up with your clutter.

FEATURES MARRIED BEFORE THEIR TRANSITION, A TRANSGENDER COUPLE FACES MANY CHALLENGES Nicole Littlefield, Managing Editor • October 27, 2020 Serenity Gray spent most of her life trying to live a life for other people, but that changed at COD’s third annual Gayla hosted by Pride Alliance, Serenity revealed her true self and came out as a transgender female. Yet, she was already married to a woman. Serenity was homeschooled for most of her life and was brought up in a fundamentally Christian environment. At the age of ten she decided she wanted to go into Pastoral Ministry, and she began studying bibles, ancient Hebrew and the culture. Serenity’s dream of becoming a Pastor continued into college. She completed her geneds at COD and then transferred to Illinois State University (ISU). At ISU, Serenity was a part of a church organization, which is where she met Aaron. In 2011, they were married. On April 19, 2019, Serenity attended the Gayla, a second chance prom for members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies. Serenity dressed up in a suit and a friend helped her apply makeup for the first time. That night was the happiest she had felt in her entire life. At the time, Serenity was not aware that she struggles with gender dysphoria and she spent the majority of her life trying to be someone else, which caused her a lot of pain and discomfort. Throughout her life, Serenity struggled with suicide and made eight attempts. “Gender dysphoria is a medical condition, you don’t have to have gender dysphoria to be trans but I happen to have it,” said Serenity. “It’s an intense discomfort in the body that you are in and the way that you are forced by society to express yourself.” That night, Serenity came out to the world, her partner and herself as transgender. Her coming out had relieved some of the stress caused by hiding herself but simultaneously made her nervous because she wasn’t sure how her spouse would react to the new information. Although they had gone through a lot together, Serenity was anxious because she hadn’t seen many couples stay together after one of them came out as transgender. “I was trying to live a life that society and family had told me to and it ended up being the worst possible decision of my life trying to do that,” said Serenity. “When I started accepting

who I was, I felt weird and odd and screwed up at first, but within a matter of days, I had felt the happiest I had been in 32 years of my life. It’s not without its struggles, challenges, and its problems.” However, Aaron was not shocked by Serenity’s coming out. Having known her for years, Aaron thought that Serenity’s coming out made a lot of sense. At that time, Aaron wasn’t living as his true self either. Since Serenity was no longer hiding, her mood increased and her depression subdued. Serenity’s self-discovery helped Aaron realize how much good can come from self-acceptance. Two months after Serenity came out, Aaron came out as transgender. “I always knew since I was a kid,” Aaron said. “I just shoved it far down. I hid it. Part of that was because of where I grew up, and how I grew up in the church. I remember always fighting with my grandma and mom about wearing female clothes. They thought I was just a tomboy, or it was a phase, but it wasn’t.” Serenity and Aaron are going through their transitions together. “Trans is part of transitioning,” Aaron said. “So I’m transitioning from one to the next. It is a process. The best way for me to explain that is through the analogy of being a moth or a butterfly from a caterpillar. It’s a process, and the hard part of the process is when you’re in a chrysalis. It’s a very painful process for the butterfly and for the moth. That’s kind of the stage I’m in. I want to be the best version of myself. The best version of myself is me knowing who I am, but I have to go through the work to do that.” Both Serenity and Aaron began using Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) injections for their transition process. The therapy helps the physical body keep in sync with how the mind feels. HRTs come in the form of pills, patches and gels, but the injections are the most effective. Serenity uses HRT Estrogen injections and Aaron uses HRT Testosterone injections. Serenity said, “There are the physical changes: my skin is softer, I’m developing breasts, my mood has leveled off. I used to be very numb, curt, calculating and direct. Now, I’m a lot more

empathetic. I’m calmer. It’s easier for me to listen. I don’t have panic attacks like I used to and I actually feel emotions.” Although insurance covers part of the cost of the injections, obtaining HRTs can be extremely difficult because there is a manufacturer shortage. The manufacturers have the ability to raise and lower the prices because of the limited amount of pharmaceutical manufacturers. The medical aspect is only a part of the difficulties that transgender experience. Serenity and Aaron started a podcast to be a voice for an underrepresented group. They talk about their unique experience as well as the challenges they face as a transgender couple. The podcast serves as a place to go for people who want to learn more or just want to support members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Listen to their podcast, Nothing But Love, at anchor.fm/nothingbutlove 10


According to a 2017 English Heritage article, Bolsover Castle located in Derbyshire, England is one of the most famous haunted castles in the world. In the late 11th century, the English architect John Smythson built the castle. Having been neglected since the mid14th century, recently workers began to learn haunting facts regarding the castle. Including the fact that they built the castle on an ancient burial ground in a town known as the “Satanic Capital of Britain.” Later in the 17th century, staff explained there had been mysterious incidents. Doors would slam on their own. People would feel as if they were being pushed, and some said they felt someone grab their ankles. Recently, Bolsover Castle opened up as a haunted tourist attraction. While the security guards worked late, most reported they would see the lights flicker or unexplained movements. They even began to see a little boy hold the hands of visitors as they walked past. One guard admitted that she heard a scream grow louder and louder as she stayed late to lock up. When she ran towards the screaming, she found no one there. There was not a sign of a human being around. Lucy Hutchings stated that “Bolsover Castle, the magnificent former home of William Cavendish, definitely has a dark side.” Hutchings says in her interview with English Heritage. “Over the years staff has reported time and time again unexplained occurrences of objects moving, orbs of light, people feeling pinches on their skins and some have been told by visitors that they have seen William himself, wandering the lonely corridors. It’s no wonder that it has been voted English Heritage’s spookiest site.” According to a MirrorTv article, recently, the

manager of Bolsover Castle decided to look into adding a new exhibition named Mr. Ted. Mr. Ted is a haunted teddy bear that has been reported to cause terminal illness. They found Mr. Ted in the home of psychic medium Debbie Davis. After they brought Mr. Ted to the castle, three volunteers decided to be brave enough to stay the night with the bear. Paranormal expert Jo Lockwood stayed in an entirely different room to watch over the girls while they slept.

been Mr. Ted. They found the radio was trying to pick up frequencies from the netherworld. When the girls heard the radio turning on they shouted out “show yourself.” Mr. Ted responded by screaming, “leave.” The girls then asked the spirit to “come closer,” and Mr. Ted responded, “No!” The girls had enough and ran out of the building to safety. After the sleepover, they decided Mr. Ted had too much anger and too much power. They believed Mr. Ted had so much power that he could have potentially harmed the girls during the sleepover. They buried him in a secret location 30 miles away from his owner, who is extremely thankful. Mr. Ted has a lot of pent-up anger and should never be found. If he is found he could very well wreak havoc on the county. COD graduate Michael Johnson said he went to Bolsover Castle in 2008 and witnessed some of the spooky mishaps that occurred. “It was insane,” Johnson said. “I don’t remember every detail seeing as I was 10, but I do remember some of the events. “I was looking around the place with my mom, right? We heard this loud door slam, and then I saw a little boy standing in front of me. When a few people walked by he disappeared.” Johnson had not seen Mr. Ted because he wasn’t on the premises. “I heard a really loud scream coming from the hallway, and it was terrifying seeing as I was so young,” said Johnson. “It sounded like a really sharp scream, but it could’ve been my mom screaming honestly. The door slamming was super scary. If she screamed I probably had my eyes closed and couldn’t tell. I don’t know.”

View this story online to learn more about Mr. Ted and Bolsover Castle.


During the sleepover, Lockwood began to notice a ball of energy floating near the girls. She then saw a flickering light nearby the seated Mr. Ted as he watched the girls sleep. Lockwood stated the producers went in to check on the ladies at 3 A.M. due to a lost connection. When they entered, Lockwood said in her interview with Mirror TV, “The crew has just gone in there and the power lead has failed or pulled out.” The team doesn’t know what caused the power outage, but it could have

FEATURES OUR TECHNOLOGICAL NEED MAY BE CAUSING MORE DAMAGE THAN GOOD Nicole Littlefield, Managing Editor • January 18, 2021 Since the invention of the personal computer and the internet, technology has innovated rapidly. The clunky operating system that took up an entire room has been reduced to a handheld device. Much of our daily lives revolve around screens and technology, whether you are working in an office or are a student. Since the modern world relies so much on technology, many of the studies are about the impacts screen time has on your eyes. COD Eye Care Assistant and Ophthalmic Technician Program Chair Mitzi Thomas said looking at a screen for too long definitely impacts your eyes, but maybe not in the ways you might assume. “You can’t damage your eye or suddenly have to wear glasses because you are staring at a screen for a long time, but you can have a lot of uncomfortable effects,” Thomas said. “One of the main problems that people complain about is eyestrain. Your eyes get super tired.” Optometrist Ryan Jass has treated many younger patients with vision complaints even though there is no prescription change. “Whenever we look up close, a muscle flexes in the eye that causes our lens to change its shape. That muscle, just like any muscle, when overused will fatigue more readily,” said Jass. Being focused on and close to the screen causes many people to stop blinking, which can cause many other issues. Dry eyes, tearing up, stinging eyes, headaches and lack of sleep are just a few of the effects of constant screen exposure. Jass said, “Naturally blue light triggers our brain to the melatonin cycle to stay awake. When that goes away, it tells our brain to go to bed.” However, the impacts of blue light on the eyes are unknown. “We don’t have a study of what 20 years of high-intensity blue light exposure does to the eyes, specifically developing eyes,” Jass continued. “What we’re really trying to find out now is are these kids that are on these devices for so many hours a day harming their eyes?” The Meibomian gland, the oil gland within the eyelid, produces a layer of the tear.

When you blink, the gland produces oil that prevents the tear from evaporating. However, a decreased blink rate is the No. 1 correlating factor to the glands becoming damaged. When it is damaged it cannot be recovered. Both Thomas and Jass recommended

the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes take a 20-second break, and look 20 feet away. They also recommended lubricating drops as well as reminding yourself to blink more while using a screen.



DuPage County voters explain why the re-election of Donald Trump or his replacement by Joe Biden is important to them.



There is a way to make a climate difference that would help low and middle-income people. There is a way for the country to go “green” without hurting the economy. There is legislation that unites liberal and conservative groups in regard to climate policy. But what can you do to make this happen? For starters, join the” Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL)”. The Environmental Club hosted a Spring Speaker Series inviting Mark Ailes and Terry Quain from the Naperville chapter of CCL to introduce how they take political action for the environment. CCL is an international grassroots environmental group that trains and supports volunteers to build relationships with their elected representatives to influence climate policy. This organization contacts politicians, hosts seminars and educates people about carbon fees and dividends when presenting their plan for the environment and businesses. They stand for persuasion and not force. Former Physics instructor Mark Ailes is a current member of CCL. He said the organization pushes for a bipartisan policy called carbon fee and dividend. “The policy is excellent for the people, leaving no one behind such as business owners, innovators, and employees,” Ailes said. “A carbon fee and dividend policy charge fossil fuel companies a fee per metric ton of carbon extracted from the oil well or coal mine. Polluters from the fossil fuel industries are polluting the air for free. Putting a fee can encourage gradual fuel source change. The fee will gradually rise each year. Then the revenue is collected. After minimal expenses to administer the plan, all the rest of the revenue would be distributed to households in equal shares as a dividend, making green sources of energy competitive, and it would make fossil fuels more expensive.” CCL began back in 1994 by Marshall Saunders. He first made efforts to help people out of poverty but realized it would be in vain if climate change made their homes unlivable. He began giving talks to audiences about climate change and the personal choices people could make to reduce their carbon footprint. In November of 2018, The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act was introduced in both houses of 115th Congress with both Democrat and Republican cosponsors. In every new Congress, it needs to be reintroduced. So it was reintroduced in the house in the 116th Congress in January 2019. Two of the original cosponsors were Ted Deutch (D-FL22) and Francis Rooney (R-FL-19). It eventually had 86 cosponsors in the House (85 Democrats). Now it needs to be reintroduced in the 117th Congress and we are hoping to get more support from Republicans in the 117th Congress. The Senate may be the place

where a fee and dividend type bill gets some support. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Mike Braun (R-IN) are Co-Chairs of the Climate Solutions Caucus in the Senate so there are some bipartisan talks taking place. Revenue-neutral legislation is known to work in other countries. According to Mike Vaska’s opinion column for Seattle Business Magazine, “The Case for a RevenueNeutral Carbon Tax in Washington State,” he states, “British Columbia implemented a similar revenueneutral carbon tax in 2008. There, CO2 emissions are down as much as 16%, and a solid majority of B.C. residents now view the policy favorably.” B.C.’s fee began in 2008. Since then B.C.’s carbon tax rate rose from $35 to $40 per tCO2e. To improve affordability, in 2019 the government increased the Climate Action Tax Credit to $154.50 per adult and $45.50 per child as of July 1, 2019. The government also continues to offer several carbon tax programs for businesses and local governments. The people would be encouraged to choose more green sources of energy to the extent that they could. This dividend could cover increased energy costs for over 60% of the population from the lowest to the middle-income people because they have the smallest carbon footprint. Furthermore, businesses would move to green energy because fossil fuel costs would increase a drive for innovation and push everybody toward a green economy. A border adjustment clause would cover instances where, for example, if a

country trades with the United States it must have similar legislation or pay a hefty amount to export energy-intensive products to the U.S. The border adjustment will encourage other countries to put a price on carbon since the United States is a global trader with the entire world. So far, there are about 20 chapters in Illinois. When you join, there is a monthly sign-up campaign. CCL helps walk down what to say to give a clear message to congress. There are events like breakfast meetings on Monday mornings at 9 a.m., Fun Fridays at 7 p.m., and so much more. Environmental Club President Jacqueline Reed shares her thoughts of the seminar, “I appreciate that CCL seeks to inspire environmentalists alike to take part in the political process by vocalizing their views to their elected representatives. It was an honor to have the Naperville chapter explain the importance of political activism to us because it is such an integral part of environmental protection. In addition to political advocacy, there are many other ways we can make our lives more sustainable. In the end, we all can make a difference together.” In order to be united both political parties need to be involved to fix the climate. A strong economy and stable environment are needed in every society, especially in the United States. A bipartisan agreement is the best course of action. In the end, the world must be developed by destruction or design.

Interested in joining Citizens’ Climate Lobby activists? Visit: citizensclimatelobby.org/join


OPINION FEARMONGERING RAN RAMPANT AT THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION Kevin Ashley, Staff Writer • August 31, 2020 The Republican presidential nominating convention was one of the most impressive moments of fear-mongering one could ever see. From the label of former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden as a socialist Trojan horse to the not so subtle attacks at the Black Lives Matter movement, to the argument that if Biden is elected religious liberties are gone. The Republican National Convention featured prominent Republican figures like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott to officially nominate Donald J. Trump again as the Republican nominee for president. Those four nights at the convention were spent making the case to Americans why President Trump should stay in office for four more years. The main themes of the nights were focused around the American dream and American exceptionalism. How the current administration has made those ideals a reality, while also discrediting and attacking Biden. The idea was to show how Trump is good for America and her people while saying in no uncertain terms that Biden will lead to America’s destruction. This was done in three ways: first, they painted Biden to be a socialist pawn. Second, they used the Black Lives Matter movement and the unfortunate riots that are also happening. And third, they kept inferring that Biden would lead to the death of religious freedom. For starters, they tried to paint Biden as a socialist and a socialist pawn at the same time. Besides that being incorrect, the message was inconsistent. In essence, what the speakers at the convention tried to convey is that Biden will lead to a socialist takeover of America. This takeover will cause everyone’s taxes to be raised. It will cause over-regulation of small businesses, and the breakdown of American life as it is presently known. Fearmongering aside, none of what they said is anywhere near possible or true. The platform that Biden will run will be the most progressive in American history. That is true, but none of what he proposed is anywhere near socialism. Socialism is not everyone having healthcare. Socialism is not raising the minimum wage to a living wage at $15 an hour, and socialism is not defunding the police, which Biden has said on multiple occasions he would not do. These ideals may have appeared radical to the Republican Party and their base, which is why the accusations were hammered so heavily at the RNC. Most developed nations have a public healthcare option, and they are not socialist. Most have a living minimum wage, and they are not socialist. And most developed nations don’t have their police as militarized as the United States and train their police to de-escalate tense situations, and that is not socialist.


To try and point out all the inaccuracies, misleading information, and flat out lies told at the RNC is not practical, but what should be focused on is why it was done. Why is the Republican Party so desperate to paint Biden as a socialist Trojan horse? The answer is rather simple: there is no other way for them to win unless they tap into Americans’ natural aversion to big government and anything communist. The idea is to have people so fearful for their livelihoods, homes and wealth that no matter how bad Trump can be people can take comfort in the notion that he won’t start a communist revolution. Trump may not be perfect, but at least the suburbs will be safe. Trump may not be perfect, but at least religious freedom will be upheld. Trump may not be perfect, but at least the protests and the riots in cities can finally stop. They tried to convince people that if Biden is elected these assurances will go away and America will descend into anarchy. One example is when they talked about the suburbs. They mentioned that under Biden’s administration low-income housing and apartments will be made in suburbia. Insinuating that by allowing people with lower incomes to live near you, crime will increase, your property will lose value, and your children will get addicted to drugs. Although none of that is true, it does not matter because the idea is fear, not facts. The RNC also took side shots at BLM. The speakers never explicitly mentioned it by name, only its negative actions and their refutation of the movement. On the first night of the RNC, Nikki Haley, a rising Republican figure and former U.N. ambassador said, “American is not a racist country.” That statement goes against the BLM movement stance that America has systemic racism baked into the country, and for all of us to move forward, we need to first recognize this problem and then properly address it. However, the RNC flat out denial that racism is a problem in America is problematic, to say the least. By not addressing America’s not so distant past, and still present, we can’t move forward as a country and be the idyllic nation the RNC already claimed that we are; for America to be the best, we need to fix our current issue that has stuck with us for generations. Instead of using this as a moment to show the country and the world America is the best, they used it as a means to deflect and sow more fear. Talking only about the riots in the cities and how the people perpetrating these riots, in the fiery and world-ending manner that they did solves nothing. It fixed nothing, and it addressed nothing. All it did was cause more fear and division, which if you just want to win is a pretty good tactic. Even if it lacks any semblance of a plan on how to address the real

issues that people are marching for in the first place. They used the BLM movement and its consequences to paint an us-versus-them picture. If people electTrump for four more years then the order will come back to America. If people elect Biden for president the problems faced now will only get worse. The last big point of contention during the convention was the topic of religious freedom. Current Christians in America feel they are under attack. All the left wanted to do in their eyes is to stop people from attending their place of worship and stop people from practicing their faith how they see fit. On the Republican platform for 2020, which is the same platform from 2016, the party details what they mean by religious freedom. The idea is that when the Supreme Court decided in 2015 that same-sex marriage is legal it was the first major attack against religious liberty. It is also stated that they don’t believe that LGBTQ+ people should have legal protection from job discrimination. So the Supreme Court decision in the summer of 2020 to allow it was another attack at religious freedom. A third large insult was during the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic when people were barred from going to church. These three reasons have led a lot of Christians to believe their faith is under attack and, to keep themselves safe, they need to elect Trump again. Otherwise, the radical left at this rate will probably make religion illegal. At the convention, they went as far as calling Biden a Catholic in name only. That came despite Biden’s multiple public displays of his faith when he had to face the many deaths in his family. Christians feel they are left with one choice: they need to elect Trump or risk an even greater loss. These ideas surely stirred up their base into a fever to vote come Nov. 3. Hopefully, however, not too many people were caught up in the delirium.

OPINION WHY YOU SHOULD LOOK FORWARD TO 2021 Kevin Ashley, Staff Writer • January 26, 2021 I don’t know how many people had on their 2021 bingo card “Survive a coup attempt,” but apparently that was something we should’ve expected. The new year, 2021, was supposed to be a better year, a hopeful year, after the horrors that were experienced by Americans and globally. Although this year has gotten to a rocky start with covid numbers still rising and domestic terrorists embolden, it can still be the year many of us want to experience. Since 2020 was being constantly indoors and away from other people. It has allowed millions of people the time needed to be introspective and think about their life and what they want from it. It has allowed millions to reconnect with themselves and reconnect with others despite the distance. Yet, we are still not done with the pandemic. So allow me to make the case on why 2021 should be a year of hope instead of another year of boredom and despair. For starters, we can take what has happened in 2020 as an excellent learning experience. For months on end people were indoors away from friends and family with nothing but themselves for comfort. For a lot of people, myself included, this year was terrible, but it has also given us a chance to think about our lives. To think about the things we value and what we can learn about ourselves. Tiffany Berry, mother of three and a returning student at the College of DuPage said 2020 tested her on every level “It was awful,” she said. “It was telling. It was taxing. It was illuminating. It was growing, and it was as healing as it was breaking. “2020 tested my economics,” Berry continued. “ It tested my marriage. It tested me as a mother. It tested me as a person and, most of all, it tested my relationship with myself. It tested who I am under unexpected pressure and who I could be.” The trials people have experienced in 2020 were massive, and everyone dealt with them differently. Kevin Krush, a student at the University of Maryland studying for a degree in political science, said 2020 was revealing. “I think 2020, in a strange way, was horrible yet clarifying,” Krush said. “In a lot of ways it

had people think about what is important in life that we don’t really think about a whole lot. For me, the insanity of 2020 has made me more conscientious about focusing on the good things that have happened to me.” For Thomas Janoski, a student at the University of Washington studying programming, the time of COVID-19 was surprisingly productive. “If I had to sum it up I would say that 2020 was a work year,” he said. “Since we weren’t allowed to socialize in typical circles, I ended up committing to work, and I spent 2020 grinding. 2020 was necessary for me in a way. It let me do things like graduate this semester, which is a year earlier than I was planning. I got a lot of great work experience because of it as well.” For Berry, Krush and Janoski 2021 gives them hope for what is to come, particularly with the COVID-19 vaccines rolling out. Janoski is hoping that 6 months into the distribution of vaccines we can start going back to normal. The idea that life can return to some semblance of normal is an idea shared by many and is a hope that is entirely possible if the vaccine distribution is handled well by the incoming administration. However, even with life going back to normal the lessons learned about ourselves in 2020 are something that can make 2021 all the better. “Everything can change very quickly and you should be ready for things to change in a short period of time and having a plan for the future,” Krush said. Lastly, if we are to enjoy 2021 we need to use this year as a year to reconnect with people after experiencing months of disconnect. “My message to everyone for 2021 is to open, honest and valuable with people and to find others who are willing to do the same.” said Berry The year 2020 was a year of trouble, a year of hardship and a year of disconnection. If we are to make the best of 2021, then last year’s lack of connection needs to make this a year of connection, and I am hopeful that we all can do that this year.


MUSIC ALBUM REVIEW: MARILYN MANSON’S “WE ARE CHAOS” SHOWCASES A STILL-EVOLVING ROCKSTAR Cody Wagner, Entertainment Writer • September 15, 2020 Many who hear the name Marilyn Manson think of the rockstar who created controversy in the world of music. His onstage antics from wiping his ass with the American flag to tearing pages out of the Bible brought him instant dissatisfaction among parents but caused him to gain many adoring fans. In the late 90s, Manson was the king of shock rock, which refers to a style of rock meant to scare and push the boundaries of human excitement and satisfaction. Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, GG Allin, etc., these artists are all examples of shock rock as they enhance thrill and surprise within their art. Manson, in my opinion, tops the list, especially during the 90s. Parents, politicians, religious leaders were all after him for his music and the messages of rebelling against the traditionalized American systems. Now Manson is back with a new album, “We Are Chaos.” But it’s not the Manson of the 90s we hear. While still dark, the new album, sounds more like a mature rebellion. It’s articulate and artful. Manson has stepped away from his crazy antics. He sounds older. No longer do we hear mockery about religion and its values but rather a refined interpretation of death and humanity. It’s a definite change from the widely disapproved and opinionated previous album, “Heaven Upside Down.” This album was not critically acclaimed and was seen as mediocre compared to his albums in the past. I would agree. But there was one single I particularly liked. The song “Kill 4 Me” had a different tone. It’s very melodic and dark, contributing to Manson’s character. But it’s also not too heavy or too poppy, despite having more of a pop-like sound. The lyrics still fit the darkness of Manson’s persona. “We Are Chaos” is a different Manson. It makes sense in the hardships that this year has held but also the darkness that can lie within a person in everyday society. This album is darker and more emotional than “Heaven Upside Down.” It recalls Manson’s early personality but with a newer, more modern-sounding album. The album was released on Sept. 11, a day that changed our country forever. Prior to COVID-19, it’s also really the last time we experienced an event with such a negative impact to the whole country. The timing of the release is not a coincidence. That event reset the country. And this album feels like a reset for Manson. Much of his work in the mid-to-late 2000’s proved


to be a misstep and a drift away from the Manson presented in the 90s. Sure, the guy is getting much older and doesn’t have the hyperactive, cocaineinduced energy as he once did in his youth, but the music started to become something different than it once was. It related more to the goth scene rather than metal, and too many elements of pop were added to his work following the widely controversial and rebellious album, “Holy Wood, In the Shadow of the Valley of Death.” “We Are Chaos,” breaks that trend. Much of the album deals with dark subject matter, mainly relating to death and darkness residing in the everyday human. ‘’Solve Coagula’’ opens with: ‘’You are the one,/Tore off both your arms/ Gouged out your eyes/And ripped out your own tongue/So listen’’ These lyrics are haunting and gruesome in nature but also relate to Manson,s image of darkness and unrelenting fear. That’s the Manson of the 90s. He uses these gruesome lyrics to connect with an audience that has dealt with inner pain that goes beyond and deeper than a gruesome physical injury. The song touches on an unknown individual who is broken and does not want to be fixed. This could be talking about Manson himself, an addict, an insecure individual or anybody. It’s one of several tracks off the album that dive into that type of subject matter that fans have come to appreciate and value throughout his successful career as a valued musician. The song “Don’t Chase the Dead” has a chorus of, ‘’Don’t chase the dead, or they’ll end up chasing you.” It’s a key example relating to the idea of actions having consequences. The choices you make involve the hurting and dissipation of one’s body. Death is sure to find you. If you chase after death, (substance abuse, drunk driving, hurting or killing others) it’ll end up chasing you. The song ‘’Keep My Head Together’’ contains a line that stuck with me: “Don’t try changing someone else; you’ll just end up changing yourself.’’ I I have had great insecurities relating to my life as I have been a truly non-confrontational person. But I’ve found a nice-guy attitude makes you a target for people who enjoy inflicting harm on others. In the past, I was taken advantage of because of my nice personality and ability to do well in school. I always hated myself for never standing up to people. Yet, I listen to this song and feel like I shouldn’t change who I am just for the satisfaction

of others. They should be willing to accept me as my own person. I think this line gives confidence to those struggling with deep insecurities. The last track, ‘’Broken Needle’’ contains lyrics that reflect Manson’s fear of one day being damaged and being forgotten by society. The song relates to Manson as a needle used to play vinyl records: ‘’I am a needle,/Dig in your grooves/Scratch you up/Then I’ll put you away.’’ Manson understands that he is getting older, and the lyrics reflect a worry that people will put him away and forget his impact within the world of music. Manson not only deals with his personal fears but the emotions related to the current status our world finds itself in. Who can forget the songs “ The Beautiful People” “Lunchbox” or even ones of his most famous pieces a cover to the Eurythmics song “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), which became a hit during the MTV Music Video era with its haunting imagery that attracted children and angered parents? Manson’s new album proves he still has much to show the world of music. But the new album is not his best work. Many of the songs are great with sound and presentation, but the album itself feels short and a lot of the tracks require several listens to understand what’s being said because of their extremely fast pace. The album feels too short to create the usual emotional impact of a Manson album. Still, “We Are Chaos” brings about a great change from Manson’s last installment, and it’s a change for the better. The album dives deep into messages of death, violence and the confusing destruction amongst humans. And that strikes exactly the right tone for this past year as the world has turned upside down due to death, sickness, violence, aggression and frustration with the issues of not only our country, but our world.

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