The Spectator The Stuyvesant High School Newspaper
Volume 111 No. 1
“The Pulse of the Student Body”
September 10, 2020
NEWSBEAT Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed New York City public school reopenings to September 21, 11 days later than the initial September 10 reopen date. Social studies teacher Robert Sandler was a semifinalist winner of the 2020 FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence.
By MADDY ANDERSEN and KAREN ZHANG
When asked about how he felt about starting his new role as Interim Acting Principal in September 2016, former Principal Eric Contreras said, “I’m eager and excited […] I feel eager to start the work. I feel eager to see students come in on the first day, and talk to them, and get to know them.” And after four years at Stuyvesant and four years of talking and getting to know his students, Contreras resigned from his position on July 31. He is now principal of North Shore
High School in Long Island. Contreras’s decision was influenced by a multitude of personal factors. The death of his father due to COVID-19 made him reevaluate how much time he was spending with his own children. “The American economic system forces people […] to give up time away from their family. We’re stuck on our phone. We’re stuck at work,” he said. “Having spent time with my family during COVID affirmed how important that is.” Though Contreras enjoyed serving as Stuyvesant’s principal, continued on page 2
Courtesy of Seung Yu
Sarah Chen / The Spectator
Goodbye, Principal Eric Contreras
Hello, Principal Seung Yu By TALIA KAHAN and ERIN LEE “I missed talking with young people. And as crazy and spontaneous as it will be on a school day, that’s also what makes it beautiful,” Principal Seung Yu said. Having formerly worked as the founding principal of the Academy of Software Engineering and afterward transitioning to the central Department of Education (DOE), Yu returned to the principalship this year through his new position at Stuyvesant. Prior to serving as the Senior Executive Director of the Office of Postsecondary Readiness at the DOE, Yu had an extensive background in education. His first teaching experience was in the Peace Corps, where he taught English in
the Dominican Republic. Following his return to the U.S., Yu did advocacy work in Washington D.C. with the Reading is Fundamental initiative, a children’s literacy organization, and later became an English teacher at the High School for Telecommunication Arts and Technology in Brooklyn, New York. Beyond Yu’s experiences working as a teacher, his interest in and outlook on education have been heavily shaped by his own high school experiences, from playing on the football team to serving as student body president. “I loved high school. I got to play high school football. You wouldn’t know it if you look at me, but I actually played quarterback, and we won the state championship,” Yu said. More influential than his extracurriculars, however, were Yu’s
Seniors Christine Yan and Chelsea Yan were finalists in the i.Invest National Youth Entrepreneur Business Competition, where they introduced ZigZag Mommy’s, an ecofriendly maternity clothing company. friends, family, and teachers. “I had so many people who believed in me, and that was something I’ve carried with me, because every time I work with young people, I realize how lucky I [am],” he said. “I’ve had people look out for me and who’ve mentored or who’ve cheerleaded or who’ve always been there to tell me that I can do more, and that really was the reason I got into education because I wanted young people to experience that.” Yu’s approach to leading and education is also apparent in how he interacts with high schoolers. “One thing that I think struck us all is that […] you could refer to people as kids or you could refer to them as young adults, and he referred to us as young adults and continued on page 2
Student Union Elections to Run Remotely This Fall By ALICE ZHU, THEO SCHIMINOVICH, and ANNETTE KIM Following the push of Caucus and Student Union (SU) elections from the spring, the Board of Elections (BOE) will be holding Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Caucus elections, as well as SU elections, remotely this fall. Campaigning will happen virtually, with a concluding online election on September 24. Due to the pushed elections, BOE Co-Chairs senior Eric Han and junior Ava Yap have made many changes to this year’s shortened election season. While elections are typically held in the spring, this year’s started on August 16 with an online interest meeting. Following the meeting, candidates were to start online petitions to get on the ballot. Though Caucus tickets traditionally require 100 student signatures from their grade, this year they only needed 50. Similarly, while SU tickets traditionally require 50 signatures from each of the sophomore, junior, and senior classes, this year they only needed 30 per grade. Both Caucus and SU candidates also required two teacher signatures
per ticket, instead of the standard four teacher signatures per ticket. Following petitions, candidates had traditionally campaigned in-person by hanging up posters around the school and advertising through social media. The BOE, however, has prohibited in-person campaigning this year so that candidates who choose blended learning will not have an advantage. “In-person campaigning is prohibited. This includes campaigns distributing posters, business cards, or treats to students as they walk into school, as well as posters plastered on the hallway walls. This change is vital, as to not give an edge to campaigns who choose blended learning over those who are opting out,” Yap said in an e-mail interview. Instead, students will be able to learn more about candidates through their online campaigning. “Campaigns will have to rely primarily on websites and Facebook pages to share their campaign ideas and promises. In addition, the BOE will be providing all students with a list of all of the candidates’ sites and social media pages, so voters can make an educated vote,” Yap said. While the prohibition of inperson campaigning strives to pro-
vide a fair election, it may present a potential lack of participation. “Ordinary students will feel less compelled to participate in the political system at Stuy without the excitement surrounding election season in the actual school building,” Han said in an e-mail interview. Remote campaigning has its other disadvantages, according to Coordinator of Student Affairs Matt Polazzo. “Retail politics and this ability to get up early and hand out flyers on the bridge [have] always been a tough rite of passage that screens out people that aren’t fully committed to the work of being in the SU,” Polazzo said in an e-mail interview. Additionally, campaigning online only may not reach all students. “I am concerned that many students without social media accounts or with a limited online presence will not have an equal ability to participate in elections,” senior and Acting SU President Giordano said. To increase student engagement during the elections, the BOE has formed a Public Outreach Committee. “We have formed a Public Outreach committee this year to promote transparency and address voter apathy. They brainstorm ways
we can reach the student body and help to draft public statements,” Han said. “We have also acquired access to the schoolwide mailing list, which we expect to use more often for announcements.” Senior and BOE Technology Head Abir Taheer has been working to accommodate for the upcoming virtual election. “I’m planning to make updates to the posts feature to allow candidates to create more engaging promotional content [and] on adding a Q&A feature in order to let students ask questions directly to the candidates,” he said in an e-mail interview. All students and candidates will be able to vote and access the aforementioned features on the vote.stuysu.org website. The Caucus and SU debates, which will be held on September 15, 16, 17, and 18, respectively, have also been modified. While debates are usually held in person, this year’s debates will be held virtually through Zoom, which offers many advantages in conducting them. “While the presence of technology always offers up its challenges and difficulties, Zoom […] possesses many unique features. For example, the muting system will help ensure
Camping in the time of COVID
The Case For Project-Based Assessment
Read along as Humor editor Chrisabella Javier recounts her experience working as a lifeguard at a summer camp during the pandemic.
With the limitations of remote instruction, senior Elena Hlamenko makes the case for Project Based Assessment for the upcoming school year—and beyond.
see page 6
see page 14
that every candidacy can speak their turn, without getting overpowered by the other teams […] Zoom will allow us to livestream the debates and upload them to YouTube so that all of the student body will be able to view them,” Yap said. The many adjustments of this year’s election season have pushed back other Caucus and SU tasks, such as appointing members. “While the SU normally has the entire summer to release applications, interview candidates, and onboard new members, that entire process will now have to happen in October and November. This not only places an added stress on applicants, but [also] prevents the Caucuses and SU from truly beginning their work until mid-November,” Giordano said. Though this year’s elections will be very different from those of previous years, the BOE remains optimistic. “While this election season is going to be a challenge for every party involved, [Han], myself, and the rest of the BOE are dedicated to making sure that this election season runs as smoothly as possible and that we end up with a student government that the student body is proud to have,” Yap said.
The Spectator • September 10, 2020
News Goodbye, Principal Eric Contreras continued from page 1
he felt that change was necessary. “One of my goals was to expand and work in the arts, and [North Shore High School has] a very robust art program. They have this sense of shared community. I appreciated that, and I had never worked for a school outside of New York City,” he said. “I’ve always told my kids ‘try something different,’ and with the context of everything going on, I wanted to experience that.” The decision to leave, however, was not easy for him. “I like being a principal. I like being around students and teachers, and I like the democratic messiness,” Contreras said. “I like being in a space around that energy of high school students. At [Stuyvesant], there’s a maturity of thought and an optimism for the future and an abundance of imagination for what could be that I didn’t want to leave. I was afraid.” This was also not the first time Contreras resigned as principal. Two years ago, he initially stepped down to become Senior Executive Director of Curriculum, Construction, and Professional Learning at the Department of Education, though ultimately decided to remain at Stuyvesant with the start of the 2018 school year. “I had made that decision [to stay as principal] last time when I was offered more money, a bigger position,” Contreras said. Contreras worked to provide Stuyvesant students with more opportunities during his time as principal; he introduced new classes and electives, including Advanced Placement (AP) core science courses to underclassmen and additional AP math course options, opened the Irwin Zahn Innova-
tion Lab, expanded the humanities, music, and arts curricula, reintroduced the Discovery Program, and helped renovate the building, from replacing escalators to creating a new robotics lab. “Him being a social studies teacher in a STEM school always gave him an interesting perspective in the sense that he always wanted to learn more about what it really meant to be a STEM teacher or what it really meant to be in a STEM school. He also remembered that even in a STEM school, the humanities—whether it be English or social studies— mattered just as much as the sciences and math,” former Student Union (SU) President Vishwaa Sofat (’20) said. “We saw growth in electives in almost all departments […] he always had new bold ideas.” Assistant Principal of English Eric Grossman added, “He’s the principal who was focused most closely on the nitty-gritty of instruction […] that really mattered to me. His friendliness, down-to-earthness, approachability are unusual in a leader, and the fact that he was able to be that way while still commanding respect is a real quality.” Having worked closely with Contreras, Grossman appreciated his considerate approach in working with the other members of the administration. “He was unfailingly equitable in both his support of individual departments and making clear the limitations the support could be,” he said. “He gave me plenty of freedom, plenty of room, and plenty of support, but he also made clear that there are limits, and he was not going to gut another department in order to serve the needs of one.” Contreras was also attentive when working with both the stu-
dent body and the school community, valuing the perspectives of others. “Because he cared so much about the school as a whole and the educational goals as a whole and not just about the position, it really made sure that he made his job about listening to other people,” senior and Acting SU President Julian Giordano said. “He made his job about consulting other people and about hearing what they all thought.” Grossman agreed: “He’s incredibly smart [and] kind [and] values the right things and is supportive of Stuyvesant […] in every context, in every meeting I had, even when the topic might be a contentious one, everyone around the table understood that he wanted the best possible resolution for the school and was determined to be fair […] and to be kind to everybody, regardless of their position.” Many students had their share of memorable moments with Contreras. During the International Women’s Day Run in 2019, “my friend and I caught up to Contreras, who was also running, so for a few seconds, he ran alongside us, and we had a nice chat,” Andrew Smsaryan (’20) said in an e-mail interview. Reflecting on his time at Stuyvesant, Contreras feels that his role as principal has had a positive and lasting impact on him. “I’m a better person for having served as principal at Stuyvesant, and I will never ever forget. It’s changed me—I’m a different person,” he said. “I hope to take all that and continue my own personal growth as an educator for as long as I can. I hope to do good work wherever I go and engage with similar discussions and learn.”
Hello, Principal Seung Yu continued from page 1
as students,” senior and Acting Student Union President Julian Giordano said. “He really identified with his own high school self, and he really understood that perspective.” Yu actively decides to refer to students in that way because of the freedom he had to make his own decisions as a highschooler. “My belief is we need to give you information and then you have to make the decision and be informed enough to make a decision on your own,” he said. “That’s what I hope to be able to bring to Stuyvesant. I know it already exists but would like to do more of that because that’s the one thing that’s really important to me. I want you to have choices.” He decided to apply for principal of Stuyvesant for its vast array of extracurriculars and student opportunities as well as its academic rigor. “I wanted to know what it would be like to work with students who were on the other spectrum, who were really excelling or accelerated,” he said. “We’ve got some tremendously talented young people who are excelling, who are really driven […] can we add to it? I’d like to believe we can, and then if so, how do we add to that?” Currently, Yu has to tackle the challenges of leading Stuyvesant in an unprecedented time. “This coming September there will be a lot of questions I can’t answer because I do not know yet. And I say that because every principal is feeling some level of that,” he said. “What I am trying to do with our team is to meet a lot of the needs that people have proposed and indicated without jeopardizing people’s safety, without compromising the integrity of who we are.” Still, Yu has succeeded in acquainting himself with Stuyvesant in a short period of time, according to Assistant Principal of Pupil Personnel Services Casey Pedrick. “Yu has impeccable time management
that helps the cabinet be thoughtful and direct in our time together. He has laudable organization skills, with shared Google documents, e-mails replete with hyperlinks, and communications that build off one another,” Pedrick said in an e-mail interview. “I already feel he knows our school well and that we are in very good hands.” Yu has been able to familiarize himself with the student side of Stuyvesant as well. “We were on this call with him, and he was still learning about everything. We brought up SING!, and he didn’t know what it was, you know, and I don’t blame him—he’s a new principal, and he’s getting adjusted,” Giordano said. “Since we talked to him then, in the next two weeks, he learned so much. It was incredibly impressive, and that’s one of the first things that stood out to me about him: he really was committed to adjusting to the Stuy community, learning about the Stuy community, and working with the Stuy community.” In the long run, Yu aspires to see the Stuyvesant community continue to grow and adapt with the times, pandemic or not. “How do we maintain what has made us excellent while also recognizing you are a different generation? And so, how do we [not only] find that balance between keeping all of the things that have been good for the school in terms of traditions, but also be nimble and courageous enough to explore teaching and learning that is vastly different than it [was] 10 years ago— actually six months ago?” he said. Addressing Stuyvesant’s reputation as a competitive academic institution, Yu ultimately hopes to make Stuyvesant an even safer and more supportive space for students: “[A community in which] everybody would be proud, […] you find your place, you find your little niche, you find what you really want to do— that’s what I would love to see more of. I imagine it exists at Stuyvesant. I would like to see more of that.”
Teachers Transition to Remote and Blended Learning By PETER GOSWAMI, SAMIA ISLAM, JENNY LIU, MICHELLE LU, and ALEC SHAFRAN As Stuyvesant prepares for a unique school year with both blended and remote learning, teachers have spent time reflecting on the current circumstances. We conducted an interview with English teacher Annie Thoms and e-mail interviews with chemistry teacher Kristyn Pluchino, social studies teacher Svetlana Firdman, and one teacher who wished to remain anonymous to hear their thoughts.
How do you think the pandemic has changed the way that teachers will interact with students in the foreseeable future? “Needless to say, teaching and learning virtually [have] changed teacher-student interactions dramatically. I think interactions will unfortunately be less personal and less frequent while virtual instruction is occurring. In many Google Meets, most of my students had their camera[s] and microphone[s] turned off. I absolutely respect their privacy, but it made me feel like I was teaching into a black hole. There is so much nonverbal feedback that teachers look for during a class that helps make a lesson personal, relevant, and engaging.” —Pluchino
“[Though teachers are continuing to teach virtually], I’m hopeful that the through-the-screen teaching that we have to do is going to feel more organized and robust than it did in the spring.” —Thoms “Well, first and foremost, the pandemic has taken away the ability for classes to take place in person so therefore] teachers are now forced to interact with students digitally for the foreseeable future. The digital classroom makes it much more difficult to cultivate a sense of community and create the same rapport we may have had when classes took place in person every day.” —Firdman
Do you think there are any positives to the new way of teaching? “It was interesting to me as a teacher to see that some students who were very quiet in class discussion were much more participatory when it was on Google Classroom and when it was people chiming in and writing. I was able to see different kinds of participation from different students.” —Thoms
How do you plan to support your students?
“I can get real-time feedback during a lesson since each student will be on a computer, so they can do things like answer polls. I can get more data than I normally would in a class where most of the in-class assessment was done by me asking questions and students raising their hands if they wanted to answer.” —Anonymous
“The digital element has allowed for students to be able to have certain discussions and debates that we may otherwise not have had time for in the classroom. It is also easier to do activities, such as webquests and research, that require students to have individual access to the internet that we may not have access to in the classroom.” —Firdman
With the blended model and split remote student population, how do you think the Stuyvesant community will be affected, academically and socially? “I can personally attest that the academic rigor of my classes dropped to accommodate virtual learning—labs, hands-on activities, and a lot of the more advanced lessons were cut from my curriculum. I still feel that my students were able to develop a strong foundation in chemistry, but it’s impossible to deny that they missed out due to distance learning […] I think the social aspect is more troubling. Staring at a screen for countless hours a day and living on the internet sounds very isolating. Stuy students are spread out all over the city, so getting together with friends for a socially-distanced lunch or going for a walk is difficult. I worry about the mental health of our students and hope that any time spent inside the building will allow for at least some social interaction (from a safe distance, of course).” —Pluchino
“This school year will certainly be unusual and challenging; students will not have the same opportunities to engage with each other or their teachers as they have in past years. [I, however,] think what makes Stuyvesant particularly exceptional is the dedication and commitment of both students and faculty to our school community. I think everyone will be making their best effort to support each other and create new mediums through which Stuy can continue being Stuy.” —Firdman
“Stuyvesant used to be a vibrant place with so much student interactivity. With this new model, it will be a very quiet place with not much energy in it. If I had a child who was a student at Stuyvesant, I would not have them come in at all since there is no benefit to being in the actual building while there are risks in coming to the building. I also am concerned about the rooms that have 75 students in them. I’m not sure who is scheduled to monitor those rooms, but it seems pretty unsafe to me.” —Anonymous
“It is my primary goal in the first few weeks to try to figure out ways both to get to know my students and for my students to get to know each other. Developing community is vital right now, and we need to use everything that we can possibly use in terms of online resources to try to develop that community.” —Thoms
“When we went virtual in March, I used video lessons for instruction, online assignments for assessment, and live optional extra help sessions twice a week to help answer questions. I made sure to reach out to students and parents when I had not received assignments to check in and make sure everything was OK. Overall, I got a lot of positive feedback from my sophomore classes using these tools, so I plan on doing essentially the same thing as long as we are virtual.” —Pluchino
“I am going to have a lot of computer scripts to crunch the data I’m getting, like student responses to in-class questions, homework solutions, and homework completion. Using this data, I will focus on the students who are falling behind as my first priority.” —Anonymous
What advice do you have for students in the upcoming school year? “Stay focused, and ask for help when you need it! Whether you are struggling in a class or trying to contend with mental and emotional health issues, know that you have people at Stuy who care about you.” —Pluchino “It’s incredibly helpful, even if you’re staying fully home to make yourself a schedule that is a regular daily schedule […] have blocks of time when you’re doing certain things, [and] give yourself blocks of time that are for physically moving around.” —Thoms
“Keep a healthy sleep schedule. Create checklists, agendas, and “to-do” lists to help you keep track of what you have due, and number those items in the order in which you will do them. Put your phone away, and close tabs on your computer that are not school-related. Pretend the school day is going on as usual, and try to stick to the schedule. Reach out to your teachers if you need any support: we care and are here for you.” —Firdman
The Spectator • September 10, 2020
News Stuyvesant Hosts Virtual Summer Discovery Program By RIFATH HOSSAIN, ZIYING JIAN, JENNY LIU, and MOMOCA MAIRAJ Stuyvesant hosted its third annual Summer Discovery Program, an enrichment program available for eligible rising ninth graders who took the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) and scored within a certain range below Stuyvesant’s cutoff score. This six-week-long initiative, coordinated by Assistant Principal of Pupil Personnel Services Casey Pedrick and school counselor Shakira Rhiman, helps these potential incoming freshmen become accustomed to the Stuyvesant atmosphere by enrolling them in academic classes and providing them the opportunity to interact with members of the Stuyvesant community before the school year begins. The program has increased in size each year: the first year, 2018, had about 20 students, the second year, 2019, had about 90, and this year had over 150. The program ran from July 1 to August 6, with classes held from Monday to Thursday. Each class consisted of about 25 to 28 students. Stuyvesant is one of the eight specialized high schools (with the exception of LaGuardia High School) that hosts a Discovery program. To be eligible to take part in a Discovery Program for any Specialized High School, students should have a SHSAT score (within a certain range) below that high school’s cutoff score and attend a high-poverty school. Other qualifications include coming from a low-income household, living in temporary housing, or being an English Language Learner who moved to New York City within
the past four years. Once these students finish the program and satisfy all of its requirements, they are granted admission into their respective specialized high school. Many factors come into play when determining Discovery students’ admission into Stuyvesant. In addition to attendance, “the quality of each student’s work counts as well, and we use those final grades as part of our recommendation. Students are aware of this, and the teachers and guidance counselors communicate this to those students and their parents who are in danger of not gaining admission to Stuyvesant throughout the summer. At the end of the program, the Discovery Program teachers and counselors meet to discuss those students we feel should not be offered a seat,” math teacher David Peng said in an e-mail interview. The program was hosted virtually, though it’s usually held in person at Stuyvesant. Before each class, teachers held “small group instruction,” in which teachers could assist students or communicate with them about class material. Students attended three classes—English, biology, and math—from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., with each class lasting approximately 40 minutes. After classes, teachers held office hours where students had the chance to talk to their teachers about the class or Stuyvesant in general. Students then interacted with special Stuyvesant guests in the afternoon. “We designed the program to prepare the students for the academics of our school, as well as the social, emotional, and organization needs of our school,” Pedrick said in an e-mail interview. One of the main purposes of the Summer Discovery Program is to ensure a level playing field be-
tween its participants and other Stuyvesant students academically— hence, the additional classes. “I actually learned a lot of stuff that I didn’t even learn in middle school,” freshman and Summer Discovery alum Shyann Rampaul said. The Discovery Program also eases its participants into Stuyvesant’s academic rigor. “It was definitely more difficult than I thought it would be, and there was a lot of work I wasn’t used to,” Rampaul said. The classes followed a structure similar to that of non-remote classes. For English, students focused on two books: Khalid Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” and Jeanette Walls’s “The Glass Castle.” Students had daily readings and completed writing assignments. In biology, students learned the curriculum of the first few units of Modern Biology. Assignments consisted of Pear Deck lessons, at-home lab activities, virtual labs, and group work in breakout rooms. “Many of the lessons we made this summer I plan to use again this fall,” biology teacher Marissa Maggio said in an e-mail interview. In math classes, students brushed up on Algebra I concepts needed for geometry, including “systems of equations, quadratic functions, and linear functions among others,” Peng said. “I made sure to pick these topics to emphasize so that the students will be on equal (or better) footing with their peers in their math class.” Students in the Discovery Program received a final grade for each of their classes; however, these grades are not weighed into their high school grade point averages or included in their permanent student records. “I told students to view these grades as a kind of
measurement of their strengths and weaknesses going into September,” English teacher Eric Ferencz said in an e-mail interview. In addition to academic enrichment, the Summer Discovery students were given the opportunity to meet student guests from clubs and organizations such as ARISTA, the Big Sib Program, the Stuyvesant Environmental Club, and StuyFlow. “It turned out to be very worthwhile and fun because not only was I able to reflect on my very own Stuyvesant journey, but I also had the opportunity to offer a helping hand to many underclassmen,” senior and StuyFlow President Raymond Xu said in an e-mail interview. “I elaborated by telling them that it’s completely fine if they do something different from their friends at Stuyvesant or even their friends that go to different schools; everyone has their own distinct journeys and passions and finds them at their own pace.” Students in the Discovery Program enjoyed learning about the different extracurricular opportunities available. “I loved the special guest meetings. They let me know more about Stuyvesant and the programs it offers,” freshman and Summer Discovery alum Andrew Rafael said in an e-mail interview. Despite the positives, some teachers expressed shortcomings in regard to the virtual Discovery Program. “I miss being in the classroom, seeing all of my students, and the random moments that occur that are not planned for,” Maggio said. “I miss the connection that in-person meetings create.” Ferencz agreed. “I’d be lying if I said that I’ve completely adjusted to teaching a class remotely. While I’ve improved, I miss sharing a physical space with students.
I don’t think I understood how much information a person communicates non-verbally, and it’s very difficult to read my students through online teaching,” he said. Others, however, thought differently. “I wouldn’t say any aspect of the summer class posed any more challenges than a regular class. As long as the students come into the program with a desire to learn and improve their math and critical thinking skills, my job in teaching the content becomes easier,” Peng said. “The Discovery students are no exception; they want to learn, and they want to commit to the program because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a seat at Stuyvesant if they successfully complete the program.” Despite the challenges of teaching virtually, administrators and teachers were still able to connect with the students. “I was amazed at how well I felt I got to know my students toward the end of Discovery. Some of my favorite moments from this summer were when I was laughing with my students. I wonder what my neighbors must’ve thought, hearing me laughing in an apartment by myself. But in those moments, I truly felt connected with my students, people who I’d never met face to face.” Ferencz said. Pedrick expressed her delight toward the success of the virtual program but hopes the program in the following years will be inperson. “While the virtual program was a success, we hope to continue Summer Discovery in person from here on out. There is nothing like getting to be in the Stuyvesant building, to experience changing classes, to interact with your classmates in person, reading body language and picking up on non-verbals,” she said.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A Committee of Action By KATIE NG, STEPHY CHEN, and IAN LAU With former Principal Eric Contreras’s support, guidance counselor Sandra Brandan spearheaded the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee to centralize efforts toward combating systemic racism and discrimination within the Stuyvesant community. Amidst the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement, members of the school community have reexamined themselves and the school environment to address the longstanding—and often overlooked— issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The new DEI Committee amplifies the voices of pre-existing advocacy groups at Stuyvesant by encouraging collaboration between the SPARK Coalition, Black Students League (BSL), staff members, and the general student body. Currently, administrators of the DEI Committee include Brandan, guidance counselor Kristina Uy, Assistant Principal of Pupil Personnel Services Casey Pedrick, college counselor Jeaurel Wilson, and chemistry teacher Patrick Sunwoo. The DEI Committee will also work closely with Principal Seung Yu, Director of Family Engagement Dina Ingram, SPARK advisor Angel Colon, and the rest of the school counseling department to expand their outreach and encourage all members of the Stuyvesant community to get involved. Though the DEI Committee was recently established, conversations surrounding the implementation of similar groups are not new. “We’ve been talking about this behind closed doors for a very long time, speaking to our students who are complaining and disheartened. Some students have transferred to other schools because the environment has been so toxic for their development. We’ve had conversations with [the] administration, which has landed on deaf ears for
years. We’re not changing the wheel here, but [the] climate of the world right now—with the civil unrest that’s happening in our streets—really spearheads what’s happening [within Stuyvesant],” Wilson said. The DEI Committee hopes to centralize their work and implement action-based goals to produce tangible results. “We’re working on something, and another group might be working on the same thing. [By] collaborating to ensure that our goals come about, we enhance [each other’s] work instead of duplicating [it],” Brandan said. The DEI Committee hopes to spark new discussions about curriculum, activities, and seminar content through smaller actionbased subcommittees. Forming subcommittees within the DEI Committee is open-ended and dependent on the proposals of the Stuyvesant community. “Anybody can come to [the DEI Committee] and say that they see an issue. If we say that [it] is an important issue, we will create a subcommittee [based] on what you’re most passionate about,” Pedrick said. “If there is an issue that was addressed by this subcommittee […], we can [then] dissolve that committee.” The first established subcommittee was the Allyship Summer Group, a voluntary summer program facilitated by Uy and guidance counselor Sarah Kornhauser. Approximately 25 staff members joined Uy and Kornhauser in weekly Zoom meetings in which they completed a 30-day coursework and discussed issues regarding race, diversity, and equality. “One of the things we learned about in our Allyship Summer Group was that allyship means education, empathy, and action,” Uy said. “None of us are experts in this field, but we all have things to gain.” They closed their last meeting with a more concrete vision for how to approach professional development for other staff members in the upcoming school year.
The DEI Committee has also outlined many of its goals for the upcoming school year, the first of which is to establish a declaration of Stuyvesant’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in hopes of holding the school accountable for instances of discrimination. “We are hoping that we can hold the school accountable for the positive changes, and when I say accountable, I don’t want to say punitive; it’s more [so] restorative,” Brandan said. Such restorative efforts involve changes to Stuyvesant’s curriculum, such as the addition of the new English elective, Black Lives in Literature. “Conversations that we started having in the BSL and ASPIRA groups are wanting to make changes in the curriculum […] starting with the English department in hopes of trying to bring in more literature that has been written by people of color,” Wilson said. “Moving forward, [the DEI Committee wants to] implement more things within the history department as well in respect to the Latinx community, Latinx writers, and Latinx students.” In addition to improving the curriculum for students, the DEI Committee intends to strengthen Stuyvesant’s partnerships with affinity, identity, and alliance groups, increase the diversity of employees, and provide a platform for antiracism training. “We’re a school of 75 to 78 nationalities, and we always try to celebrate every one of them, either through their own particular month of observance, celebrations, and/or cultural milestones. That’s always been our effort in letting people know we’re a community, [and that’s] why we reiterate this idea of Stuy UNITY,” Colon said. Despite the DEI Committee’s efforts to educate the community and celebrate different cultures, the core to achieving these values lies in individuals themselves. “The thing that’s not built into the conversation around race is—of-
tentimes—emotional intelligence, which encompasses empathy and compassion,” Sunwoo said. “If I, as a teacher, am going to serve Black and Latinx students, I really need to be willing to move outside my own thinking and challenge my own behaviors. I need to learn along with the DEI Committee, as well as other staff members.” To encourage students to be more critically conscious of issues regarding diversity, the DEI Committee plans to create a Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) section in the library, to be named “The Eleanor Archie Diversity BIPOC Reading Corner” after former Assistant Principal Eleanor Archie. From there, Stuyvesant’s librarians can recommend readings and resources to both staff and students. In conjunction with the Allyship Summer Group, the DEI Committee plans to facilitate and provide faculty with voluntary workshops for professional development, suggestions on how to implement positive classroom culture, and a safe support group to lead discussions about implicit biases. Senior and BSL Co-President Falina Ongus hopes that the DEI Committee is a step in the right direction for the Stuyvesant community. “[The DEI Committee] provides a way for the school to be accountable for its inaction and really start to address racism and bias at Stuy. That being said, I think we have yet to see what the DEI does and if it will really bring about change in this school,” she said in an e-mail interview. “While there is potential for it to have an impact, there is also potential for the DEI to become the administration’s version of ‘performative activism,’ which I think they should try to avoid as much as possible.” For senior and ASPIRA CoPresident Melissa Lopez, it’s important that the DEI Committee creates a safe space for students. “High school is supposed to be a
place where you figure out who you are and who you want to be in the future. Lack of accountability prevents safe spaces from being created, and in a high school as prestigious and vigorous as Stuyvesant, these safe spaces are needed for students to thrive,” she said. In order to create these safe spaces, Wilson believes that the Stuyvesant community must be united regardless of background. “As a Black woman in a building where I’m not represented fully in my own career, it’s important not only for me to speak up, but [also] for me to have allies that don’t look like me to speak up,” Wilson said. “[Having Pedrick] be someone who is speaking up on this and [having Uy], who is so passionate and wants nothing more than to make this change, is what convinces me that this DEI Committee is going to be phenomenal.” Many of the staff members support the establishment and mission statement of the DEI Committee. “There is a lot of openness in the DEI Committee to getting staff involved, and I’m really proud of this committee because [there’s] just been this active effort to bring staff in and to get them involved in the work,” Sunwoo said. “Aside from whatever you come from or whatever your background is, it’s just about humanity and equity in its most fundamental form.” While specific details and goals of the DEI are still being fleshed out, staff members are enthusiastic about creating a more welcoming environment for the community. “Overall, the DEI is cultivating a united diversity and united conversations. A lot of things are still going to be in the works, whether we do it remotely or in-person,” Colon said. “It’s great getting to come together, brainstorm, and collaborate with students, staff, faculty, and parents. I’m really looking forward to reading things through the DEI updates and allyship.”
The Spectator • September 10, 2020
Features The College Application Through the Quarantine Lens By SUSANNAH AHN, MIM PARVIN, and NICHOLAS MARTIN
tion definitely won’t be perfect, but that’s okay because it’s probable that no one else’s will be either.” Senior Julianna Yu has also voiced her doubts on the true quality of information that colleges can offer. In the context of the pandemic, Yu mentions that “COVID has required me to transfer from in-person tours to virtual, which I don’t believe shows you the real culture [or] environment of the college.” To account for this, Yu has taken to online resources, utilizing sites such as Quora and College Confidential to view perspectives on colleges, all while taking location and safety factors i n t o
work from home instead of commuting an hour every day. I’ve really engaged with it, and I now have another thing to write about, maybe in a supplemental essay.” In terms of the general college process, many seniors have noted their personal progress. Woo’s work on her application has remained steady throughout the summer. After finalizing her college list and organizing opportunities such as scholarship applications and fly-in offers, she has “written out multiple ideas for [her] personal statement [for the] Common Application.” Woo expressed her appreciation for the extra time quarantine has provided her as well: “COVID has [...] given me more time to brainstorm ideas and truly focus on the
Susannah Ahn / The Spectator
For many rising seniors at Stuyvesant, the last weeks of summer typically consist of going on college tours, preparing for interviews, and writing applications. Visiting campuses and touring prospective colleges are some of the many steps involved in students’ decision-making processes for which colleges to apply to. Experiencing the culture and general environment of colleges in-person is a crucial and anticipated step for many, but due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these experiences are cut short. Consequently, the class of 2021 has had to adapt to the college application season in a now sociallydistanced world. This new schedule includes virtual methods of viewing colleges through webinars, online meetings, and virtual discussions with college graduates. For senior Jake Xie, the beginnings of his college preparations were guided through meeting his college counselor and through outside guidance sessions. After joining Y Tu Tambien, a program that mentors students through college applications, in March, Xie was upto-date in his college application process after attending college essay workshops and college selection workshops. Throughout the progression of the pandemic, however, his interactions in the program became more virtual and more distanced. In an e-mail interview, Xie described his later experiences as “less hands-on.” “I had some college visiting trips planned, and I wanted to go on tours, but those became virtual as well,” he added. Similar to Xie, senior Sean Fung’s college preparations were interrupted during the onset of COVID-19. Pre-pandemic college research included visits to colleges alongside web surfing as a way to get familiarized with their communities and physical aesthetics. However, virtual research has become more timely as individually finding resources and relevant information proved to be a challenge. “I must rely on online resources and a lot more research to the point where I would sometimes have to set aside days to do some research,” he recounted. Fung stressed that for school searches, college websites have proven to be more useful than ever in terms of webinars and col-
lege information sessions. “I would say I visit college websites a lot more now to figure out what the school is like and to go on virtual tours,” Fung noted. Senior Margaret Woo also acknowledged the importance of online college resources. Despite the additional complications that online research demands, Woo attended information sessions hosted by various colleges. The sessions covered a variety of useful topics and are “a resource I didn’t use beforehand,” Woo mentioned. “These include short information sessions over Zoom as well as weeklong ‘Open Houses’ for a certain college.” COVID-19 has staggered many opportunities, especially those that would have taken place in settings that are susceptible to the virus. Woo had planned on starting an internship at Mount Sinai Hospital, but its cancellation negatively affected her summer objectives. “I was worried about [the internship] because [it] was essentially the only thing I had planned,” she explained. Unlike that of others, senior Alan Guo’s college search began after the onset of the pandemic. As a result, Guo acknowledged a possible lack of clarity in terms of considering prospective schools. “[O]ne big thing I dismissed [was] visiting colleges, and even now, I’m not going to get a real unbiased outlook at how schools are,” Guo stated. “I know about their name, how well they’re recognized, and if my interested majors are available, but it’ll be hard to figure out if I fit in or vibe with the school.” He described his search as rigorous at times, having to go through several variables through several different college websites, which simply resulted in “a really big headache.” In terms of the changes that COVID-19 will bring to his future experiences, Guo admits that “[N]o one really knows what to expect. I can only hope it can be as ‘normal’ as previous years [...] [M]y applica-
consideration. Yu has faith in her college application processes, stating that “I’m 90 percent done with my personal statement; I’ve started a few supplements, and in my opinion, I think I’m on track.” Despite the uncertainty this pandemic has brought and the lack of in-person features of the 2020 college season, it’s important to maintain a positive outlook. Seniors agree that there are numerous advantages that a virtual environment provides and that it’s up to them to take these opportunities. “Of course, a lot of things are now virtual, but there’s some silver lining in that,” Xie explained. “For starters, my internship was virtual, which was super great because I could
prompts,” she stated. “One of my better Common Application drafts is actually based on a hobby that I picked up over quarantine, so that’s one way COVID has greatly improved my progress.” Likewise, Fung has been working on drafting his Common Application essay, though he feels he could have done more during the summer. “Everything being online has messed up my timing a bit,” he voiced. “I was supposed to have [an SAT] Subject Test on Saturday, August 29, but it got canceled.” Fung has still made the best of quarantine by starting an internship with Keep Small Strong, a company that helps small businesses gain an on-
line presence. The period of COVID-19 has been a confusing one, and as a reminder to seniors, it’s okay to feel as if not everything is under control. It’s important to take a break from the stress of college applications. Xie explained that oftentimes, “it’s easy to sort of grow distant and fall into your own bubble.” He advised others to maintain connections with their social circles and the outside world. The pandemic has not only interrupted transitions into the school year, but it has also created new schedules for college applications and plans, which may seem daunting and unfamiliar for some seniors. However, the ability to adapt to these changes may offer a unique perspective. In terms of guidance, the alumni of 2020 offered some advice: Wentao Lin (’20), who is currently attending Case Western University, advised seniors to stick to a productive schedule. “[I]t’s definitely better to start [college applications] during the summer since you just won’t have enough time during the school year,” Lin commented. “You definitely need to do a lot of research to write a good [essay].” Additionally, Amy Halder (’20), who is attending Dartmouth College, offered her take on the college application season for 2021, admitting that “I think COVID-19 will, unfortunately, make the college application process more difficult. For example, juniors weren’t given enough time to get to know their teachers inperson, and in my opinion, there is only so much someone can get to know someone remotely.” Despite possible disadvantages that may arise from quarantine, however, Halder stressed the importance of toning down fixations over grades. “My number one piece of advice would be to not obsess over your stats. Once your GPA passes a certain threshold, your stats do not matter. I know people who did more extracurriculars and had a better GPA than my own who unfortunately did not get into the colleges I did.” Instead, Halder advised the class of 2021 to focus more on the personal statement. “Focus on yourself and crafting your story,” Halder stated. She urged students to find their own compelling narrative and write about it while telling colleges what they can offer. The most important part of this process, however, is “don’t stress!”
A Dive Into the Void: Mental Health During Quarantine By CHRISTINA PAN Half a year ago, before school moved fully remote, most Stuyvesant students would have chosen the conditions of quarantine in a heartbeat— the limitless free time, the glimpse of a semi-normal sleep schedule, and a slight escape from the seemingly endless rat race of tests, projects, and commuting. Yet as the weeks wear into months, half-years, and days uncounted, the times of solitude run dry. Free time morphs into nothing more than time to kill. The new-and-improved sleep schedule translates to watching TikToks at six in the morning. The “escape” from the rat race is yet another never-ending path to be run— each day yet another piece of cheese to chase after, just around the corner. For some, however, the enormity of the situation is lessened by everyday action. “I don’t really know what to say because quarantine has been weird for me,” sophomore Maggie
Huang wrote in an e-mail interview. “I’ve been more or less fine during quarantine, but it’s also been hard to do something that’s actually productive, especially for school. With all this extra time, though, it’s hard not to worry about the future. So I’ve been trying to do something worthwhile with my time, really.” Some have remained largely unaffected by quarantine. “I don’t think quarantine has had any significant impact on my mental health,” an anonymous senior said, one of the many students who opted for anonymity due to the private nature of the subject matter. “Quarantine hasn’t been too difficult for me, and that’s mainly because, one, I’m lucky that my family has remained financially stable, and, two, none of my family members or friends have contracted the virus, as far as I know, thankfully.” Others have greatly benefited from the wealth of free time. “My mental health has actually improved since quarantine,” sophomore Marilyn
Shi said. “With school and extracurriculars going virtual, I’ve saved over a dozen hours weekly on my commute. I’ve taken interesting virtual classes that I would’ve never been able to learn pre-pandemic. I think I’m happier [and] more curious and have more freedom because of quarantine.” Freshman Bill Jiang shares this sentiment. “I’ve had time to spend for myself instead of spending time on school or extracurriculars,” he said. “It’s been pretty relaxing, but sometimes it’s really boring just being stuck at home. And I’m also sort of glad that Stuy didn’t decide to move completely on-site. Even if it’s part of the experience missing, I think learning at home, safe, rather than out there and risking it is better.” At home, Stuyvesant students have pursued personal interests and hobbies. “I’ve got a stack of books to occupy myself with,” the anonymous senior said. “In particular, I’ve read ‘Blindess’ by José Saramago—it’s about an epidemic of ‘white blind-
ness’ that leaves everyone in a certain country blind, with no other effects and no mortality.” Others have pursued interests unrelated to the current state of affairs. “I’ve discovered newfound passions including fashion, K-Dramas, gardening, and computer programming. I’m planting scallions and dragon fruit on my balcony,” Shi said. Yet for some, individual pursuits lack the connection that spending time with friends and family provides. “I miss talking to friends,” Huang said. “It’s kinda awkward talking over messages because there’s no reason to just suddenly reach out to someone.” Shi echoed this sentiment. “I think having a routine in times of uncertainty is comforting,” she said. “Being trapped at home for months has forced me to get creative with exercise and having fun. Early morning runs with family, volunteer work, and latenight karaoke on the balcony keep me happy.” Yet for others, quarantine has
been a different experience. “It’s really strange, in a way,” an anonymous junior said. “I would say the best word to describe quarantine for me is a void. Stuyvesant felt a bit like that, just the everyday grind and all, but being trapped at home all day… it’s like a part of me is empty. [It’s] like my inner monologue is gone sometimes. It’s nice and not nice because everything is simpler and less complicated, but it’s just a void; you can’t describe it, and it’s so large and never-ending.” In astronomy, the void is defined as “the vast space between filaments—the largest, most seemingly infinite structures in the universe.” The largest, most seemingly infinite structures in the universe. It’s like the rat race but with each pursuit untethered and autonomous. Perhaps the cheese around the corner is not in a day-by-day continuum—perhaps it is a maze of sorts, spiraling, with all sorts of possibilities. What can you find, just around the corner?
The Spectator â€¢ September 10, 2020
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The Spectator • September 10, 2020
Features By AMANDA BRUCCULERI and RACHEL VILDMAN
Walking onto the bridge, mind heavy with worries, you enter a completely new building. Not knowing where your classes are, sitting alone at lunch, you feel exhausted already. These all serve as fundamental memories of the first day of freshman year. What we remember, however, will be an entirely different experience for the incoming class of 2024. Instead of entering through its doors, most of these freshmen will be introduced to Stuyvesant for the first time through a screen. Most freshmen have already gotten a taste of Stuyvesant virtually. With virtual orientations like Camp Stuy and the Big Sib Field Day, the incoming students have gotten the chance to interact with their homerooms. Freshman Nelli Rojas-Cessa is among the many freshmen who have Zoomed with their peers. “I’ve had homeroom Zooms. We played games online and just talked about things we liked and Stuyvesant-related topics,” she
Voices By CHRISABELLA JAVIER
said. Virtual meetings such as these are the only way incoming freshmen have been able to meet new friends. “The homeroom Zooms were fun to attend,” incoming freshman Everett Torrey said. “It’s nice to have some connection to people at Stuyvesant and to meet new people despite social distancing.” Meeting one’s Big Sibs is a rudimentary part of entering Stuyvesant as a freshman. Many freshmen have been able to connect with their Big Sibs despite the circumstances. “I don’t think the fact that it was virtual affects how easy it was to connect with the Big Sibs,” Rojas-Cessa said. “I do feel like I’ve been able to connect with my Little Sibs virtually, particularly those that made an effort to come to a virtual homeroom meeting we had,” Big Sib Ian Zaman stated. Even virtually, Big Sibs have provided a support system for the freshmen. “The Big Sibs are friendly and provide useful insight about Stuyvesant. They share valuable information as to how things work and share tips
for school,” Torrey said. Not being able to meet other students in person comes with its own challenges. “While there are calls for Big Sibs to connect with incoming freshmen, there are no calls for incoming students to connect with other incoming students. Unless you meet someone who is willing to set up a call like that, I never really get to know the other incoming students,” Torrey explained. It’s much harder to talk to students one-on-one during a virtual homeroom meet than in an in-person one. “The Little Sibs interact during Zoom meetings, but it’s usually more of a Big Sib-Little Sib interaction rather than a Little Sib-Little Sib interaction, and I’d love to see that more,” Zaman said. The incoming freshmen also feel the effects of this issue. “Aside from the people here who I was in the same [middle] school with before Stuyvesant, I don’t know anyone in my class,” an anonymous freshman said. Some students have found a solution to this. “There’s a fairly active Discord server, many In-
stagram accounts, and a lot of big group chats,” according to Rojas-Cessa. Going remote also poses other concerns for incoming freshmen, apart from getting to know their peers. Torrey expressed his concern about not getting to know the school well enough. “I am not familiar with the physical school itself. I have been inside the school twice … Both of these visits were more than six months ago, making me slightly nervous about going there,” they shared. There is also a concern when it comes to the uncertainty of the quality of virtual education. “I just simply don’t know what classes are like in Stuyvesant, blended or remote. I am concerned about how well I’m going to do in everything I end up participating in,” Rojas-Cessa said. An anonymous freshman also felt that they lack knowledge of how classes are going to work. “If I had a real idea on what our classes are like, then I would actually know whether I’m prepared or not, but maybe the fact I don’t know means I’m
not prepared,” she said. They also feel like they will be missing out on many classes such as electives and APs, which are getting cut. As for joining clubs, incoming freshmen have to keep a close eye out for posts in the Facebook groups. Because it is unlikely the Club Pub Fair will be happening this year, students have to find clubs online. “I’m planning to learn about clubs through what they reach out with. A lot of clubs have already advertised on Facebook, and I have already contacted people for information about the club,” Torrey shared. While the incoming freshmen won’t be able to have many of the normal experiences other Stuyvestant students had in their first year of high school, the class of 2024 is trying to make the best of the situation and find the silver lining. “My experience has been difficult yet exciting, but everyone so far has been very nice to me and has helped make Stuyvesant feel more welcoming during these strange times,” Torrey said.
Camping in the Time of COVID about their activities. These pods were not allowed to mix in any way. The staff was required to wear masks at all times and to sanitize their hands and work stations between pods. The children didn’t have to wear masks unless they were on a bus. The outdoor setting of the camp gave this some sense, but it began to feel arbitrary when a 13-year-old camper didn’t have to wear a mask when a
became another recurring thing that we whistled at the kids about what not to do throughout the summer: “Don’t jump on the ropes. Don’t stand on kickboards. Don’t go in the area between the ropes. Don’t drown your counselors.” It was a surreal experience. I had worked at this camp last summer, and back then, we were able to interact and play with the kids. We
what could happen if we didn’t follow through with the guidelines. But there was something in us that thought that one time wasn’t a problem. One time wouldn’t make a difference in the long run. Fortunately, we were lucky; in our case, it didn’t affect us. Six weeks of camp, and we had no cases of COVID-19. We had enough demand to get an extra
15-year-old counselor-in-training did. I worked as a lifeguard this summer. We weren’t required to wear our masks while we were sitting up in a chair, mainly because the height of the chair acted as a de facto social distancing measure. Otherwise, we would be forced to wear masks while on deck and anywhere else except where we ate lunch. Anyone who was inside the pool didn’t have to wear a mask for the reasons of “chlorine killed the virus” and “why the heck would you want to get your mask wet.” There was, however, a system of ropes inside the pools to prevent any of the various pods inside them from mixing. It was a hopeless battle to get the kids to obey the rules. It
were able to hang out with other staff members without the fear of being infected or reprimanded for being too close to each other. Kids would gather around in big groups for large spirit days and celebrations. Now, those large groups are a moment of the past. Violations of the accepted anticoronavirus measures occurred all the time. People would sometimes forget to wear their masks or wear them improperly. Sometimes people would just decide that they would wash their hands later but forgot about it entirely. Social distancing would be forgotten about in the midst of a stupid conversation about the trees. It wasn’t like we didn’t care about the virus. We all did. We knew
week of camp for some of the kids. But when I think about it, it probably wasn’t just our precautions that protected us. The kids who came here had families that could afford to work from home or run off to their summer homes when the city’s cases began spiking. They were an incredibly privileged fraction of the students that would come back to schools. It is not surprising that they did not get sick. Despite the success that my workplace had this summer, I’m still worried about going back to school. These kids were safe, but the schools in our city can’t afford to do what they did: daily screenings of every child and staff member, nearinstantaneous COVID tests, getting
Sabrina Chen / The Spectator
As I go to the first day of training for the staff at the day camp I am due to work at in the summer, I am greeted by a man in an N-95 mask holding a temperature gun. He asks me a few questions: Have you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days? Have you shown any symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days? Have you been to any states where you are legally required to quarantine after visiting? I answer: No. No. No. He takes my temperature: 98.6 degrees. I am given a slip of paper and ushered toward another tent, where a woman asks my name and sticks a cotton swab up my nose. I am then sent to a table to wait for my results. I’m surprised at how fast my negative result comes back, but what was I to expect from a camp that demands $1,000 a week as tuition? This summer camp was the first semblance of a structured day that I had had since March. Sure, there was remote learning, but on a normal day, I would finish all the work before 11:00 a.m. and spend the rest of the day napping. Now, the rest of the high-school and college-aged staff and I would be forced to work on a schedule. It was a shock back to normalcy for both us and the campers. The camp wanted to give an aura of optimism and fun even as a disease raged across the country. There would be signs with fun little designs reminding people to social distance and informing them of the proper way of wearing a mask. The staff was given cloth masks with smiley faces reading “Be Happy!” Hand sanitizer stations were set everywhere around the camp with signs telling the children that proper hygiene was a superpower. When the campers finally came, they stayed inside their cars. A form would be filled out every day, and someone would screen the kids and take their temperatures before they went inside the camp. Campers and counselors were separated into tiny little “pods” where they would go
Dear (Virtual) Incoming Class of 2024: How Freshmen Are Entering Stuyvesant
enough sanitary items to clean areas off, etc. Let’s look at what Stuyvesant is going to do for the incoming school year. About 300 kids will come each day and be separated into different “pods” of around 60-80 kids who would spend their day inside one specific room in the building. Essentially, instead of the small groups in an outdoor area that I witnessed this summer, students would be put in an enclosed area surrounded by many other children. While most of the staff at my workplace were young, in their teens and early 20s, this isn’t the case in our school. The staff is older and more at risk for serious complications from COVID-19. In the plan as of the time of this writing, personal protective equipment (PPE) isn’t a guarantee, as opposed to the PPE provided to all staff members at my camp. Stuyvesant High School has a large proportion of its students qualified for reduced and free lunch. We are a school that has a significant working-class population. For the most part, the students here don’t have summer homes to run off to. Many of our parents work essential jobs and stand at risk for infection. These children lived their summer camp dreams out in a bubble a few miles from White Plains. If everything goes horribly wrong, they can just jump over to another bubble. We can’t. On the last day of camp, some of the other guards and I waited until the kids were off the giant waterslides that stood on a field a short walk from the pool area. The luge specialists said that they could let us on it, just as long as we made it quick. I ran up the stairs and pushed myself down. A quick turn, another sharp jolt, and suddenly, the plummet down into a strip of water. I laughed, smiling up at my coworkers. “Hurry up! We got to go back in a few minutes!” It felt fun. It felt normal. It felt as if this was a normal summer and not the hellhole it was. It felt good.
The Spectator • September 10, 2020
Features A Semester Like No Other By CALISTA LEE, ARPITA SAHA, CATHERINE CHING, and JUDY CHEN During the summer, students across the state were faced with a decision that would’ve seemed so alien just one year ago: Would they like to go back to school this fall with fully remote or blended learning? Those who chose blended learning geared themselves for wearing masks through their classes and sitting six feet apart from their peers. Remote learners prepared themselves for lessons on their electronic devices while sitting at home. No matter which option was chosen, no choice was flawless, and each came with its own obstacles for both students and teachers to face.
Rachel Chuong / The Spectator
After completing freshman year, rising sophomores harbor concerns regarding their second year at Stuyvesant. After becoming accustomed to the Stuyvesant environment, worries now erupt from the lack of socialization that comes with strict regulations in place to combat the transmission of coronavirus within the school. “This was also our year to further socialize, get to know the freshmen, finally have time to join a lot more clubs and be really active, hang out at the sophomore bar, and [do] other ‘sophomore’ things,” sophomore Ella Chan expressed. Along with socializing with newly found friends from the previous year, students find that clubs and extracurricular activities are a great way to find and connect with those with the same interests as them. “I was gonna join a lot more clubs, but it’s still a bit unclear how that’ll work out,” sophomore Afia Bidica conveyed. While some may want to join new clubs, others are also anxious as to how the ones they are already a part of will continue. Aside from non-academic matters, sophomores find that their grades may decline under the circumstances, creating a harder transition into junior year. “I seriously doubt we’ll be able to go through it [the blended learning model] without careful planning, and I’m honestly concerned for whether that planning will be feasible, considering the teachers will have to do such planning for all their classes and all their students,” an anonymous sophomore revealed. The complications that come with teachers and students adapting to the remote learning and blended model for different cohorts may also cause more stress during finals season. With struggling marks comes a tougher shift into junior year, especially if your work ethic has to be built back up again. “I’m just scared that everyone including myself will just ‘cheat’ their way through sophomore year and be thrown into an increasingly difficult junior year,” Chan conveyed.
Juniors Freshmen The advent of the first year of high school for freshmen is, needless to say, a major, perhaps a little nerve-wracking, but exciting step toward their future. The transition from middle to high school is certainly a huge step and is riddled with many questions and concerns. Now, on top of that, concerns have heightened even more with the ongoing pandemic, and students’ choices between blended and remote learning will determine how their first year at Stuyvesant will play out. For one anonymous freshman, the choice between the two learning styles was simple. “I chose to go full-on remote. I did this because I feel like I don’t exactly trust the school will be safe, at least this first quarter,” she said in an e-mail interview. It’s not hard to see why safety is a major factor in making the decision between remote and blended learning, and she notes that she doesn’t “have any reason to put [herself ] and [her] family in harm’s way.” Unique Zhang, another freshman, agreed: “Right now, education isn’t my main priority; my health is.” However, along with this choice comes numerous challenges to contend with. The anonymous freshman, like many other students at Stuyvesant, has siblings, and this situation presents conflicts of its own. “I have two little sisters that I help with homework, so I’m not sure how I’ll help them and do my work at the same time,” she explained. “I’m definitely not excited to stay welled up at home staring at a screen.” Learning from home is especially hard for students like Zhang, who described herself as a “people person” and initially chose blended learning. “I love being around people, even if it is just a wave in the hallway. I appreciate the slightest bit of human interaction, and remote learning doesn’t provide that for me,” remarked Zhang. Another main challenge freshmen face is not being able to get a traditional and complete first-year experience at Stuyvesant. Both Camp Stuy and admitted students night have gone virtual. “Since it is my first year, I find it disappointing that this was my impression of the school and how I won’t be able to experience Stuyvesant to the fullest, knowing that I would love to go into school by train and join as many clubs as I can and get to know everyone,” Zhang explained. The anonymous freshman shared the same sentiment, specifically adding, “I’m also sad I’ll have no swim gym.” While some rising ninth graders have chosen remote learning, freshmen Karen Chen and Alex Fertman have decided on blended learning. Though they chose a different learning style, they echo similar worries as remote learners. An important part of the freshmen year is making new friendships and creating lasting bonds. Fertman acknowledges that though he will be present at school, the social distancing guidelines will “make it hard [...] to make friends.” In fact, meeting new people was one reason he chose blended learning. “I don’t know many people going to Stuy, and I wanna make new friends and meet my classmates,” Fertman responded. In addition to this, both he and Chen noted that blended learning will help them academically. Chen wrote, “I found remote learning to be a little bit challenging, and I don’t enjoy looking at my computer for the whole entire day and reading a long Google Docs full of words. I believe I would do better academically if I went to school and learned rather than staying at home.”
In easily one of the most stressful years, juniors face difficulties, particularly academic ones, this school year. Junior Debolina Sen Kunda strongly expressed her disapproval of blended learning because of the diminished number of AP classes available. “When it came to APs, many of ours got rejected because of this blended model,” she explained. “Many [students] were planning to take as many APs as [they could] to make [their] resumes look good. Now many of us are having to make the decision of self-studying for those APs or not taking the test at all.” Kunda herself has gotten into only one AP class and will consequently have to self-study for the rest. Another aspect of her academics Kunda was troubled about was the way teachers will teach, which she believes will be ineffective because “they would have to teach students who are going to school and students who are doing [classes] remotely.” These reasons and safety issues prompted her to opt for remote learning. In addition to classes, as someone who hasn’t participated in many extracurriculars, Kunda finds herself unable to be physically part of a club as she previously desired to join. However, she knows it’s something she can’t change. “I will try to see if I like any of the virtual clubs being offered,” she noted. Because there is still so much ambiguity about the upcoming school year, junior Rachel Lin remarked, “I didn’t do any preparation; honestly, I’m not even sure how the year will turn out.” Kunda, who had stressed the significance of self-studying regardless of which option one chooses, regrets that she hasn’t prepared herself at all for it.
Seniors For seniors, it is the last year to spend time with friends, participate in senior rituals like taking senior pictures, and take those highly coveted electives. Neither blended nor fully remote learning offers that full experience, and for senior Angelina Mustufa, the choice was a difficult one. “I was really hesitant with the learning style I chose because I feel like human interaction and the peer environment is essential to learning, but I knew I had to put the safety of my family first,” she explained. She chose to go fully remote after carefully weighing the pros and cons of blended learning versus remote learning. “I learn better and concentrate better when I am in the classroom, and having my friends around me during the school day helps get me through each school day. Without my friends and with the many distractions I have at home, I think learning will be really difficult,” Mustafa emphasized. However, she also expressed that the blended learning model does not seem very beneficial, as peer interaction is limited and there are COVID-19 infection risks. Despite the challenges, Mustafa is trying to prepare as best as she can for back-to-school this year. “I am hoping to work with my family to create a quiet area in my room where I can work on school work and attend any meetings without the distractions and background noise of the other people in my house,” she said. On the other hand, Mustafa has also found some silver linings in the fully remote model. “It allows us to sleep in an extra hour and gives us more time after school to keep up with the workload,” she explained. Still, uncertainty remains. “Only time will tell if it will work well, but I’d like to see how the extended periods will function with Zoom calls and how different this experience would be,” Mustafa concluded.
Teachers On the other end of the spectrum, teachers are facing their own set of hurdles. Since there will be no classes meeting in person, all teachers will be teaching remotely, either from the school itself or from home. As a result, teachers and students “will not have access to that in-person community experience,” history teacher Lori Ann Newman explained in an e-mail interview. “My classroom relies heavily on sharing ideas, talking with partners, discussion, discovery, and unpacking concepts as a group.” This lack of human-to-human interaction has led to a newfound appreciation for the technology available for students’ education. English teacher Emilio Nieves labels Google, Microsoft, and Zoom as “unsung heroes during the pandemic because they have worked hard to give teachers and students the tools to attempt to replicate in-person learning as much as possible.” Even a simple camera changes a lot, as Nieves believes it “will add more to my classes since I will be able to interact interpersonally with students.” In response to these transformations, Nieves and Newman have been preparing relentlessly through the summer. Newman asserts, “I have been working every day this summer: attending professional development, collaborating with my talented peers at Stuy, and doing research on remote learning. I am building my own class websites so that all of my resources are digitally available to students 24/7.” Nieves, who didn’t have a chance before, has been “practicing mastering Zoom and Meet.” But even though preparations are made and teachers have some semblance of how this school year will work, there are lots of things that are unpredictable. “I do not really know how this blended teaching will work. I don’t have [a] new schedule for this fall term yet,” chemistry teacher Jee Paik said. “I am not even sure what courses I am gonna teach.” Extracurriculars, academics, and socializing have all been disrupted in one way or another, and it is still difficult to say where they will stand this fall. Blended learning and remote learning both come with their pros and cons and appeal to students for different reasons. While some seek a sense of normalcy in blended learning, others worry about COVID-19 infection risks and find security in full-remote learning. In spite of the uncertainty that the upcoming fall semester holds, teachers have been trying to prepare as much as possible. From making the classroom curriculum more accessible to adding more interactivity in lessons, teachers are working to create the most engaging classroom experience they can given the circumstances. Whether students are choosing blended or fully-remote learning, one thing is certain: this will be a school semester like no other.
Features By SAMMI YANG and DEXTER WELLS
By ANGELA CAI, MAHIRAH KHAN, and CHRISTINE LIN Additional Reporting By Rachel Vildman New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on July 8 that all schools would follow a blended learning plan, meaning that students would receive a mix of inschool and at-home instruction. With the school year rapidly approaching, parents and students are now faced with a tough decision: should they stay home and risk missing out on in-person instruction? Or should they go to school and risk carrying the coronavirus home? Many students believe that safety should be Stuyvesant’s top priority. Senior Jonathan Chen, part of the 64 percent of Stuyvesant students who opted for complete remote learning, chose remote because it allows for complete safety. “I don’t want to risk putting myself and vulnerable family members in danger,” he said. Others support fully remote learning for its academic benefits. “The major reason I wanted fully remote when it was first proposed was that it was the safest option and also allows for all the classes, including electives, to be maintained. I thought it was a win-win for everyone,” an anonymous junior added. But “all classes” is not completely accurate. Though most classes have been salvaged, 25 percent of
Meera Dasgupta: A Poet, an Activist, and the National Youth Poet Laureate
to congeal, only to be picked back up again,” she reflected. The moment that she was named the 2020 National Youth Poet Laureate was unforgettable and thrilling. As the announcement video played, Dasgupta was nervous, but she assured
The many positive feelings that came with the moment also came with naggings of self-doubt. “Of course, there is still this concept of imposter syndrome,” she continued. “Just knowing the talent of all the other laureates, the fact that there were 50 oth-
herself that she had tried her best and that her efforts alone were something she could be proud of regardless of the end result. However, that didn’t keep her from feeling excitement when a banner with her picture filled the screen. “As soon as I saw the banner that named me United States Poet Laureate, I fell out of my chair. I couldn’t stop shaking and struggled to find the speech which I had saved somewhere in my computer. It felt so surreal,” she recalled.
ers from different cities in 40 states— all down to four of us from across the country—there were times when I wondered “why me?” I think that the trick to acknowledging these feelings is just believing in yourself and your own worth. As long as you let the art guide you and write your story, people will listen. Being in such a supportive cohort from the NYC poet laureates to the finalists in the nation, they have taught me a lot about trusting the process and myself. I am truly grateful for
Meera Dasgupta / The Spectator
Senior Meera Dasgupta was announced as the fourth National Youth Poet Laureate over a Facebook Live virtual event on May 16. Distinguished from youth poet laureates from 40 different states and more than 50 cities by a panel of esteemed judges, Dasgupta made history as the youngest National Youth Poet Laureate to be appointed. Dasgupta is a member of the National Youth Poet Laureate Program, which identifies and celebrates teen poets who use their artistic excellence to be leaders in bringing about civic engagement and social justice. Though unexpected, Dasgupta’s introduction to this program proved to be a fortunate one. During her off-season on the speech team, Dasgupta attended a climate poetry workshop where she believed she could gain valuable practice and exposure. There, she was introduced to a competition called Climate Speaks, to which she applied and became a finalist. She earned the opportunity to work with Urban Word teaching artists and became increasingly attracted to poetry as time went by. Searching for more opportunities, she stumbled across the NYC Poet Laureate Program and applied to it after being inspired by other young slam poets at Urban Word’s summer institute. As a member of the program, she learned not only how to become a better poet but also how to become more open to her ideas. “I know that since joining Urban Word, I have been able to acknowledge myself more and be more vulnerable with all facets of myself, even the uncomfortable notions which I may not be able to speak about directly. Writing yourself onto the page can allow you to shed skin and bear an honest history. Some you have to peel back while others are left
The Spectator • September 10, 2020
them,” she concluded. Though recognized for a multitude of accomplishments throughout her adolescence, Dasgupta’s love for poetic language began at a much younger age. “When I was in the third grade, I had just started playing the acoustic guitar, so, naturally, I would periodically grab sheet music and write song lyrics. In my English classes, I would handwrite 20-page stories and would create mini poetry anthologies for projects,” she reflected. However, she believes that she found her true calling for spoken word during her experience on the Stuyvesant Speech Team. As a member of the speech team, Dasgupta gained experience interpreting and performing spoken word poems. As she found herself interpreting the words of others more than her own, she realized that her passion was to make and present something of her own. She felt that she would greatly prefer to perform her own words than someone else’s. “Nothing was more liberating to me than finally performing in front of an audience and receiving a standing ovation for something which I had created on my own,” she said. “Before joining the speech team, I had no idea what spoken word poems were or how to perform them. However, after much practice and numerous competitions, I have become more relaxed whether having to perform one-on-one or in front of thousands.” Before she was a poet, Dasgupta was heavily involved in activism; she participated in various advocacy groups and considers those experiences to have significantly assisted her within the United States Youth Poet Laureate program. Additionally, her participation in the speech team and Young Democrats Club at Stuyvesant has been instrumental in making her comfortable with expressing political opinions through writing. Dasgupta utilizes poetry as “the crossroads be-
Blended or Remote: Which Will It Be?
course offerings have been cut this year. Most math courses past AP Calculus, for example, have been cut from the curriculum. Senior Xian Jun, who has also opted for remote learning, feels that it is unfair that his schedule doesn’t have a math course. “Math is such an integral part of education,” Jun said. “Although it’s my last year at Stuy, it’s upsetting that the school is putting a cap on the level of math I can take.” There are other students who feel more assured about returning to school. Sophomore Eduardo Lozano, for one, is not very concerned by the potential medical threat posed: “Safety is not really a worry of mine because of course everyone is interested in that. [Returning to school] is more than safe,” he said. Senior Jonathan Xu, though he chose remote learning, seconded this sentiment: “New York has been doing a good job with controlling the pandemic compared to other states.” Lozano’s only concern regarding the blended system now is that the blended model is only going to use five spaces in school: the library, the cafeteria, the auditorium, and two gyms. “It’s not ideal. Also, it’s 70 people in a bigger room versus 30 people in a smaller room. That’s like the same thing,” he said. Chen, though he won’t be participating in blended learning, shares this concern about the model: “How can we maintain effective social distancing in just a handful of large rooms?”
On the other hand, Chen acknowledges that the new exception model does have its positives. “I am a fan of the eight-day schedule,” Chen said. The eight-day model Chen refers to consists of a schedule in which each of the blended cohorts partakes in two consecutive days of in-person learning every eight days. “Fifty percent of coronavirus cases develop symptoms in five days. The eight-day [schedule] will make it more likely to detect coronavirus infection before students return to school for the next cycle,” he explained. While most Stuyvesant students are able to take into consideration their prior learning experiences at Stuyvesant when selecting their fall learning plan, the decision between remote and blended learning is especially difficult for freshmen to make. For freshman Yashna Patel, starting high school is an opportunity to build new, meaningful relationships. “I chose blended learning because I thought that it would be easier to make friends that way. Establishing relationships with my peers is important to me, especially since I’m such a social person,” she explained. However, while the school’s safety measures like the eight-day cycle and mask-wearing help prevent the spread of infection, the real danger might not be in school itself, but on the commute to school. History teacher Lori-Ann Newman explained, “We are the largest school district in the United States whose
students and teachers rely heavily on public transportation. So before each constituent has even walked through the door every morning, there are potential health and safety issues in the transportation routes of each person that are beyond the control of the school and DOE administrators.” Furthermore, it’s not just the students’ safety that’s a major concern, but also the teachers’ safety. Many feel that it’s unfair that teachers are forced to attend in-person classes. Senior Meril Mousoom said, “It’s important for us to be taught by people who actually want to be there and are motivated to go to school every day.” Mousoom recently testified as a speaker for the Panel of Educational Policy, also known as the New York City Board of Education, calling for a delay of in-person learning. Being a vocal activist, Mousooom encourages her peers to educate themselves and become more involved in making decisions regarding their own educational policies. “It bothers me that so many students are unaware of the policies being implemented right now, especially since this plan is literally for us,” Mousoom explained. For instance, most students are unaware that the DOE is still scrambling to put together a comprehensive plan for remote learning. “The board is still hiring nurses, and it’s only a couple weeks until school,” Mousoom said with frustration, noting that nurses need at least six
tween art and activism,” in an effort to convey to audiences “topics which are often dominated by statistics.” She hopes that her poetry will resonate emotionally with audiences so that she can effectively communicate social issues. Part of her goal is uplifting marginalized communities and portraying the experiences of those around her. “I have learned that sometimes, though facts may not be enough to change people’s minds, art can,” she explained. Moving forward, Dasgupta intends to enter a political science major so that she may continue to pursue social justice, her main passion in recent years. She has a book deal with Penmanship Press, which could make her a published author by the time she’s 17 (a fact that does not fail to baffle her). She also hopes to continue to perform for audiences nationwide, even through video calls during the pandemic. In addition, Dasgupta would like to start a nonprofit organization with the mission of uplifting the voices of women of color within politics. She recalls that she might not have been exposed to so many valuable opportunities if she had not attended a nonprofit women’s leadership summer camp years ago. In order to realize these goals, Dasgupta sets for herself an expectation of what the successful achievement of her goals would look like and acknowledges that her goals may change as time goes on. Her poetry will doubtless remain at the forefront of her aspirations of advocacy and social change for the foreseeable future. Dasgupta expressed how poetry offers a connection to her audience that is unparalleled and simply cannot be found in any other form. “For a moment on stage, even reading personal poems, I know that the entirety of the audience is journeying through one life—a life which becomes clearer to them with every breath taken,” Dasgupta expressed.
weeks of training before working at school. Given what’s going on in other states, Chen feels that the threat of another wave of infections and, consequently, a return to all-remote remains very real. “The current plan looks effective at keeping students safe, but it will only hold if everyone plays their part,” he reflected when asked about the sustainability of the current plans. Regardless of which model one chooses, Chen emphasized the importance of virtual social activities such as counseling check-ups. “The lack of in-person socialization in both models can take a toll on mental health as I experienced last semester. When quarantine first started, I thought going remote would increase my productivity. I was mistaken, and without a strict schedule, I tended to fall behind on assignments,” he said. While neither the blended model nor full remote model is an ideal learning situation for any Stuyvesant student, one thing that everyone can agree on is that there is no right answer. With all the uncertainty created by this pandemic, no one knows what the future holds. Still, Chen remains optimistic: “We’ve seen this past spring that teachers will find creative ways to adapt their teaching methods to different time routines and to the online platform. I have faith that our teachers can continue those same standards of teaching this semester.”
The Spectator • September 10, 2020
Features A (Socially Distant) Stuyvesant Summer By MORRIS RASKIN
Ching participated in a mentorship program at the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition (FFAC). “I got to talk to other schoolers passionate about promoting a sustainable and just food system, animal rights, and veganism,” she said. Ching cited notable topics of discussion including veganism’s relationship with clean meat and the “intersection of disability rights and animal rights.” In addition to working with the FFAC, Ching scored an internship with the Colombia Tisch Food Center, where she worked with Julia McCarthy and Professor Randi Wolf to “look at the discretionary budget for NYC in 2021 and determine how much of it went to food-related topics and how it was affected by COVID-19.” The team discovered just how deep the food funding deficits for urban farms and community gardens ran and how the support for senior meals has actually remained stable. This summer was, of course, an anomaly, and is difficult to compare to previous summers for that reason. For
some, the isolation of this summer led to new, previously undiscovered opportunities that only came around after a previous plan left a void in the student’s schedule. For Ching, this situation was absolutely the case: “Though I was disappointed that [my previous program with the
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Summer 2020 was not conventional by any stretch of the imagination. After the mass cancellation of summer programs in March and April, students were left picking up the pieces of what the season should have been, many scraping together plans just weeks or days before they were set to begin. While essentially no programs took place in-person, the opportunities for students in the virtual world were still diverse and highly varied, offering a wide range of programs, internships, and activities for high schoolers to participate in. For many students, including freshmen Amanda Cisse and William Tang, an answer to the void left by the coronavirus was tutoring. Cisse took matters into her own hands by volunteering to tutor a student from her middle school for the Specialized High School Admission Test (SHSAT) in one-on-one sessions, privately organized between the two. Conversely, Tang worked closely with a dedicated organization in his tutoring efforts. “AdmissionSquad is a program designed to help kids in underprivileged communities get higher scores on the SHSAT,” Tang described. “It’s 80 hours of online test prep with three diagnostic exams, and the goal is to increase the students’ points by 100.” Tang interned for one month at AdmissionSquad, where he
worked as a part-time office hours tutor for the students. While many chose to educate others, a number of students decided to learn for themselves this summer by attending programs throughout the nation. Cisse participated in Stuyvesant’s own Pre-Freshman Math Team course, which she described as a “competition math course, which lasted for four weeks every Thursday, with assignments throughout the week.” Junior Jenny Liu also participated in educational programs, attending a College Now architecture course and a class on quantum computing via The Coding School. “We got access to the quantum software of Google AI and IBM, learned about the concepts of quantum mechanics, and created a simulation of superconducting qubits. [We] actually ran the simulations on a real quantum computer,” she explained. Liu found the program to be incredibly rewarding yet challenging. “While it could get very tricky, the teachers, graduate students, and mentees did a great job of breaking down all of these complicated concepts to us.” For many of these programs, the success was highly dependent on the working staff and their capability to think on their feet and adapt to the rapidly changing standards that virtual learning required. Advocacy and activism also seemed to be a big theme in Stuyvesant’s summer plans. Junior Catherine
Genovesi Environmental Study Center] got canceled, I learned so much from the virtual internships I did over the summer that I don’t seem to mind it as much now. In fact, the mentorship program at FFAC was so influential in changing my perspective on the factory farming system that I am now seriously considering becoming vegan.” Conversely, junior Ibrahim Cosar felt that the coronavirus was generally
detrimental to his AllStar code summer program as a whole, saying, “I think [my program] would be better in [a] COVID-less world because I would have gotten the full day of education rather than a half-day intensive [session] over Zoom about coding. My teachers did everything that they could to make the Zoom engaging, and it was amazing, but in my opinion, it couldn’t take the place of real interaction.” While it is true that COVID-19 stopped much of Stuyvesant dead in their tracks going into the summer, many were able to bounce back and create a worthwhile summer through a variety of virtual programs and activities spread all across the extracurricular spectrum. For Tang, the coronavirus shaped his entire summer and altered the course of the season. “I would say that [the coronavirus] has actually had a positive impact on my summer plans,” he admitted. “If it weren’t for the coronavirus, I would’ve been commuting to Brooklyn, but online, learning can be accessed from everywhere.” Whether the virus had a beneficial or detrimental effect on the course of the summer, it is clear that Stuyvesant students marched on through the tricky season and came out with a number of brand new experiences to boot.
A Crushing Blow for Stuyvesant Athletes: How They Are Dealing With This Time off the Field
By ISABEL CHING
Knapp, the canceled season means their time as Stuyvesant athletes will be temporarily halted. But, for others, it means they will not be able to experience Stuyvesant athletics for the first time this year. Stuyvesant freshmen interested in fall sports will not be able to try out for any sports teams—their dreams of becoming student athletes will just have to wait till next year. Freshman Amanda Cisse, who had been interested in the girls’ soccer
or ‘go watch film,’ and did I have a lot of time to do that!” Junior Eliza Knapp, a member of the girls’ swimming team, echoed Korgaonkar and Rahman’s thoughts about the cancellation of the season, specifically noting that it would be difficult to hold swim meets if Stuyvesant itself wasn’t fully reopening. Knapp also elaborated on the effect of quarantine on her swimming ability and chances of swimming competitively in the future. “I don’t really think chances of swimming at a higher level decreased because the season was canceled, but the fact that pools have been closed for the last six months has definitely negatively impacted my overall ability to swim,” she wrote in an e-mail interview. “This summer, I didn’t have the opportunity to improve at swimming because there wasn’t a consistent place to swim.” For Korgaonkar, Rahman, and
team, expressed her feelings about the PSAL announcement. “When I saw the announcement, I was disappointed because I had been looking forward to trying out for (and hopefully making) the soccer team,” Cisse wrote in an e-mail interview. “However, on a brighter side, I had been looking [into] a lot of other activities that Stuyvesant offer[s], and there were many that I was interested in, so I knew that if I wasn’t doing a high commitment sport, then I would have more time to do those other extracurriculars as well as keep up with schoolwork.” But unlike Cisse, who is a freshman, not everybody has the luxury of looking forward to next season. For Stuyvesant seniors, news of the canceled season is devastating. Senior and golf player Sophia Lin is experiencing the dismay of a lost season. “It’s quite disappointing to think that I might not be able to participate
Alicia Yu / The Spectator
The Stuyvesant Peglegs. Mimbas. Greyducks. Birdies. Lobsters. Penguins. The Stuyvesant athletic teams may go by a host of different names, but they all have one thing in common: they will not be playing this fall season. In a recent announcement, the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) released their statement regarding the fall sports season, stating that “per CDC guidelines, the associated risk of any sport activity is increased when athletes engage in competitive play across different geographic areas” and that PSAL activities would be restricted to conditioning and practice only, should they resume at all. The announcement, though expected considering the social distancing safety regulations the city and state have enacted, comes to the dismay of Stuyvesant student athletes, for whom the sports season serves as a powerful antidote to the stress and pressures of the school environment. Junior Shivali Korgaonkar, the right midfielder for the girls’ soccer team, was understanding of the plight of PSAL: “While I, along with many other athletes, are saddened by the news, I completely stand by the PSAL announcement to suspend the season for now.” Korgaonkar’s stance on the safety regulations and guidelines being imposed by PSAL is not one shared by everyone—the announcement has been the subject of much criticism. But, as Korgaonkar explains, the rules are there for a reason. “Transportation, practice, games, spectators, and so much more would be a danger posed onto athletes if the season were to continue normally,” she wrote in an e-mail interview. Korgaonkar’s words were seconded by junior Yaqin Rahman, an offensive lineman for the Stuyvesant Peglegs. Though sad that he is not able to play football this fall, Rahman said he understood the decision made by PSAL. “The safety of students matters more than any sport,” he said.
The canceled season also came as a relief to Rahman, as quarantine has taken its toll on athletes. “Without a gym or being able to go outside, I wasn’t in the best shape during quarantine and felt unprepared for a fall season,” Rahman said. However, quarantine has had one silver lining: free time. In Rahman’s case, this free time has been used to watch the sport he loves: “Our coaches would always tell us after practice to ‘go watch the NFL’
one last time,” Lin said. “I do hope I will be able to continue [playing golf ] in college.” Senior and girls’ soccer captain Aki Yamaguchi shares Lin’s thoughts on the matter. “It means everything to me to play with these girls, and it breaks my heart that I might not be able to one more year,” she wrote in an e-mail interview. “There were so many things to look forward to, and as a secondyear captain, I was excited to see how the team would grow and step up to what I thought could be our best season yet.” Though Yamaguchi has kept in contact with most of her teammates and set up practices, it is the thrill of the season she will miss the most: “I love going to practice and seeing my friends, some people who I have been playing with since freshmen to sophomore year and are my closest friends at Stuyvesant. Even just playing the other teams [and] comparing how much we have improved and changed astounds me [every time] the team steps onto the field.” For the ultra-dedicated, safe, inperson practices are always an option. Though disheartened by the cancellation of her final season as a Mimba, Yamaguchi has organized in-person, socially-distant practices to keep the soccer team in shape and prepare them for next season. The team has met up once already, and Yamaguchi says she plans to hold a few more practices over the course of the summer to run some drills and scrimmage with the boys’ team. “We all miss each other, and preseason is always a fun time where we get to know each other better as a team and start to build up our chemistry… Overall, the practices are a way to see each other and get together while still playing the sport we love,” she said. But for others who cannot meet up in person, practices will continue virtually, with the help of a tool many of us are all too familiar with: Zoom. Sophomore and cross country runner Alicia Yu elaborated, “We [the track team] will definitely have more Zoom calls in which we do yoga or a strength work-
out with our coach.” Yu is not alone. Korgaonkar, outside of her weekly practices with the Mimbas, has also been doing online training with her club soccer team. “In the peak of this pandemic, my team was doing two to three Zoom practices a week,” she said. “Over the summer, I’ve been trying to get to a local field twice a week, but if not, I am able to do some small drills in my bedroom.” But not even practices can make up for the lost season, especially for seniors. The only consolation for those still grieving is the fact that Stuyvesant sports do not end simply with the close of the season—they live on in the hearts and minds of players, for whom solace can be found in the memories of last season. Lin fondly recalls one of her most vivid memories from the golf season when she first met her coach, English teacher Emilio Nieves. “It was my first time meeting with him, and when I got to the driving range, I stopped right next to him for a few minutes and then continued and walked right past him. He had to call me back and say it was him,” she recounted. Yamaguchi also has stories to share from past seasons. While doing the team’s ab workout, “someone started playing ‘Send Me On My Way’ by Rusted Root, and we all just started dancing and singing,” she said. “I still laugh at the video that I have where I chased everyone around and had them smile in the camera.” Cherishing memories and looking back on better times may be enough for some, but for those still dealing with the pain of a lost season or those who simply need a little guidance, Korgaonkar offers words of wisdom: “Salvage the time you have left with your seniors, and try to remember all the good memories you’ve made instead of focusing on the daunting end.” So, appreciate the time you have left with your sport. Score that goal! Hit that player! Make that put! Because you might not get to next year.
The Spectator • September 10, 2020
Features It’s All Greek to Me: Being a Multilingual Student By CHRISTINE CHANG Before the worldwide pandemic, New York City used to bustle with people, many commuting into and within the city. Called a melting pot of cultures, New York City thrives because of the diversity within it. One aspect of such diversity is the languages spoken. Simply standing in a New York City subway station will expose you to the multitude of languages spoken by people from all over the world. Language is important in both communicating and building strong relationships with others. “Multiple languages is important to diplomacy, which is something that I am interested in,” sophomore Navid Zunaid said. Zunaid, who was born in Bangladesh and used to live in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, finds that knowing multiple languages is helpful when interacting with the people around him. “I lived in a Spanish neighborhood […] I should be able to converse with [my neighbors],” Zunaid explained. For junior Junhao Zhen, who was born in China and speaks multiple dialects of Chinese, being multilingual means that he is able to gain more perspectives on current events. “Being able to speak multiple languages gives me multiple perspectives when I see the news, politics, and in general news in the media,” Zhen said. “I can have another perspective on this because I can go on the Chinese web, and I can see [how] the Chinese people react.” Sophomore Kitty Wang agreed: “It has definitely helped me understand different people’s opinions and [base] my new idea and perception on a more comprehensive array of different people’s input and [connect] with people on a different basis, not just on English, for example.” Wang, who has learned Cantonese, Mandarin, English, Korean, and Italian through family, self-studying, or school, finds learning new languages fascinating. “I personally find that languages and the different nuances in different languages [enable] a person to see situations and even approach things in different manner[s]. Even in simple sentence structure, you see how different languages and different people really listen and think about a different situation.” Senior Jonathan Xu, who speaks English, Mandarin, and Esperanto, can understand Wenzhounese and
Spanish, and dabbles in Turkish and Indonesian, shares the same sentiment. “Part of it is the difficulty and just knowing that I can just challenge myself. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Put myself in unusual and difficult situations deliberately and challenge myself to get out of them. But I’d say that it’s also about equipping myself with practical skills for the future,” Xu said. Xu has been studying Esperanto since the summer after his freshman year. “Esperanto is a conlang designed to be really easy so that everyone could learn it, and it could act as a bridge for international communication,” Xu explained. A conlang is a language that is built rather than developed over time. However, despite the design, even languages such as Espe-
ranto Serena Chan / The Spectator are difficult to learn. “So people like to talk about easy languages versus hard languages. I like to say that there are no easy languages. Every language is hard,” Xu said. “I actually translated earlier this summer a document from Esperanto into English, and some of these sentences took up half a page or more. And they were longer than the sentences that I would normally write in English, so it was very difficult. It took quite a lot of patience.” For students who have immigrated to America, they are faced with the challenge of learning English, along with the challenges of becoming accustomed to a new country. Zhen moved from China to America at the age of 10 with little knowledge of the English language. “I came to New York with just ABCs. That’s all I knew about English, so I couldn’t understand a single word on the streets,
signs, store names [...] I barely even knew how to spell my own name,” Zhen said. “That was a really bad struggle for me because I was in a bilingual class for the first two years in the U.S. in my elementary school where all my classmates were Chinese [and] my teacher was Chinese, and we basically just [spoke] Chinese all day. My teacher taught ELA in Chinese. It didn’t work,” Zhen further explained. “Those 2 years were a struggle because everyone else in my [grade was] American, [...] and it was a hard time for me to communicate with them […] I couldn’t communicate with anyone besides my classmates and my teacher.”
When learning new languages, Wang reflected that oftentimes, starting out is the most difficult part. “I feel like the hardest is always getting started because you have to make that first step to begin a language. You don’t really know what you’re getting into sometimes because a language is such a vast array of different components, and I feel like the hardest [thing] is to pinpoint what exactly you need to learn first,” she said. “I would typically [...] look for background and check what other learners are using and what techniques they are using, so I can apply the same thing or modify it to my learning style.” While speaking multiple languages can be a passion or a useful
skill to have under your belt, for some students, it is a necessary skill in communicating with their families. Xu finds that there is an expectation from him as a multilingual speaker to do so. “Since my parents don’t speak English, I have been obligated to translate for them,” Xu said. “But generally, people like police officers and whatnot are very patient when it comes to understanding that translating can take a bit of time and that people might not be up to the task just because people have their bad days,” Zhen shared, “My parents don’t speak English [...] so I speak Chinese at home, which is why during this remote learning, my English [has] kind of got[ten] very laggy because [I] speak Chinese all day.” With languages come the cultures associate d
with them. While some languages are learned, others have c u l t u r a l roots that hold importance for Wang, who explained, “I’m very immersed [in] my family’s culture because I have been brought up with [them as] I’ve been introduced to traditional practices.” Zunaid expressed a similar belief. “When I go to Bangladesh, I am not seen as a foreigner. I can speak the language [and] converse with the locals. They are my homeland. They are my country,” he said. A common theme that strings from culture to culture is the misrepresentation in the media. To Zhen, while the negative attitude toward China and its culture initially infuriated him, he has come to expect it. “I can’t really blame the rest of [the] media for portraying my culture in a
certain way […] because my country and the west side of the world [have] pretty much different ideologies. I can say for sure that they’re not portraying [completely] accurate things about my culture, but I understand where they are coming from.” Zunaid finds that rather than a misrepresentation of his culture, there is a simple lack of it. “Honestly, there are not that many representations for Bengali. It’s extremely overshadowed by Hindi, but that’s what it is. Diplomatically speaking and militarily speaking, of course Bangladesh isn’t a big country. So it’s expected that our culture gets looked over a little bit,” he said. “I definitely think that different languages [deal with] different prejudices in mainstream media, and I feel like that’s a major issue that we must work on together; because each language is so convoluted and complex, each person has to dig [deeper into] themselves,” Wang explained. But to Wang, there is another common stereotype that she experiences. “Sometimes in TV shows, [when] a character can speak multiple languages, they make these assumptions on how they learned it and the way they act, like ‘Oh I just forgot I’m speaking this language,’ and he’s still speaking another [language], and [...] something like that just irks me,” Wang said. As for the future, Xu plans to start learning French, citing untranslated books as a motivation. “French’s influence as […] the lingua franca before English was so prevalent that Tolstoy wrote sections of ‘War and Peace’ in French and also in German […] There are many, many versions that have the Russian translated into English but not the French or German parts,” he said. While he doesn’t have his next language after French in mind, he explained, “Since learning languages takes years, I’ll have years to plan.” Whether it is out of necessity, a school requirement, or for fun, being multilingual proves to be a skill that many people find useful. “Having more than one language gives you a different perspective on how you look at things, and it’s very important to consider all sides of an argument […] Having multiple languages can help you achieve that goal,” Zhen said. While it may be hard to start off, learning another language is a gratifying experience. Zunaid encapsulated this sentiment: “I’m very proud of being multilingual.”
Have No Fear: Spec’s Freshman Handbook Is Here! By MADISON CHENG Heading into high school in an era of Zoom calls and Google Meets makes getting to know a school community quite daunting. It can feel distant when only whiffs of disinfectant —instead of the usual coffee or robotics bake-sale treats—drift through the hallways. Or when the droning of computers masks the usual hustle and bustle, laughter and chatter of our hallways. Despite the challenges in our new environment, we hope to bring a little of the Stuyvesant community to you. First and foremost, junior Khjusta Umama advised not to rely on the escalators as “they don’t work half the time.” Other warnings come from sophomore Sarah Ibrahim, who jokingly advised, “Don’t play bassoon. Your lungs will thank me.” All jokes aside, despite the work
Stuyvesant students put into band and other extracurriculars, many say they’re invaluable. Junior Janiu Cheng strained this importance,
incredible people. So try out a bunch, and who knows, maybe you’ll even fall in love with the bassoon! On a different note, while it’s
be your top priority. One bad grade does not define your future [or] how smart you are.” Many other students agreed, recommending to take care
“Make sure you genuinely enjoy what you’re doing, and do what you love. It’s a stressful and rigorous school, but Stuyvesant is also a high school; you’re allowed to be a high school student here.” —Yaqin Rahman, junior
saying, “Join clubs! Join anything as soon as possible. It’s a great way to make friends and feel like part of the school community.” Indeed, joining various clubs and sports can help you both further your interests and meet
great to try out new things, both academic classes as well as extracurriculars, many Stuy students strongly suggest prioritizing mental health. Junior Syeda Zahan said, “Mental health over anything, that should
of yourself and advising that while it’s easy to get lost stressing over grades, it’s all secondary to your well-being. Junior Yaqin Rahman further stressed this: “Make sure you genuinely enjoy what you’re doing, and do
what you love. It’s a stressful and rigorous school, but Stuyvesant is also a high school; you’re allowed to be a high school student here.” Rahman emphasized the importance of having the right mindset when it comes to grades and also brought up another huge piece of advice: do what you’re passionate about. Senior Jonathan Xu agreed: “If you’re only taking a class for AP credit or looks, don’t.” Instead, “take fewer classes, spend less time being forced to study something, and more time studying whatever you want in your spare time.” So while you might have to figure out some aspects of Stuyvesant yourselves, like the iconic Ferry’s versus Terry’s debate, hopefully some of these snippets of advice, from basson to mental health, make the Stuyvesant community feel a little more like home.
Zoe Oppenheimer / The Spectator
Sasha Socolow / The Spectator Julian Giordano / The Spectator
Dorin Flocos / The Spectator
Steven Wen / The Spectator
Francesca Nemati / The Spectator
Anais Delfau / The Spectator
Zoe Buff / The Spectator
Page 11 The Spectator â€¢ September 10, 2020
Photo Essay Summer
By THE PHOTO DEPARTMENT
The Spectator • September 10, 2020
Opinions An Open Letter to Principal Yu
Dear Principal Yu,
As an Editorial Board, we often speak to the administration about the policies we hope to see, the issues we want resolved, and the student voices we wish to amplify. As a new principal appointed in the midst of a pandemic, we know the transition has been rapid and intense, especially with so many aspects of Stuyvesant to acquaint yourself with, from our annual SING! performances to the centrality of Facebook to students’ academic and social lives. Drawing from our experiences not just with remote learning, but also the past two to three years at Stuyvesant, here are things we hope you will address as you lead the school throughout and beyond the upcoming school year. Combat Racial Injustice at Stuyvesant Endemic racism should not take yet another murder of a Black man in the street to become widely acknowledged, but after Derek Chauvin suffocated George Floyd, non-Black and Hispanic students, teachers, and other faculty members began to listen to what Stuyvesant’s Black and Hispanic students and organizations have been saying for years: that racism is everywhere at Stuyvesant, and that it needs to stop. There has, thanks almost entirely to the efforts of the Black Students League (BSL) and ASPIRA (Hispanic/Latinx Student Association) been some progress. For instance, over 200 people came to the most recent Talk Circle Around Race spurred on by Floyd’s murder, and this year, the English department is introducing a Black Lives in Literature course. But what progress has been made is a beginning, not an end. Fortunately, you are in a fantastic position to continue building on it. You have BSL and ASPIRA to give you their policy recommendations. While you do not need to adopt every single one of these, you must listen to and deliberately consider them all. In addition to policy changes, you can and should work to directly implement anti-racist programs, such as presentations. To date, BSL and ASPIRA have been responsible for these; Black and Hispanic students, already
dealing with a Stuyvesant workload, have also had to devote time, energy, and resources to trying to get their classmates to treat them with dignity—only to have relatively few people show up. The post-Floyd Talk Circle’s attendance was a vast leap beyond those of previous Talk Circles around Race, and that was because many people were uniquely motivated at that moment. Your taking initiative in organizing similar events would have two effects: one, it would lift an undue burden from BSL and ASPIRA, and two, it would create the possibility of mandatory sessions. Voluntary antiracist presentations and discussions will inevitably not attract the people who most need to attend them; with the force of your administration behind it, anti-racist education could get a much-needed boost.
Ensure Communication Between Faculty and Students One of former Principal Contreras’ initiatives most beloved by the student body was his open-door policy. As it is unlikely we will have the chance to visit your office this fall, creating channels for communication between yourself and students is essential, whether that be over email or through the new Student Weekly Conversations initiative. You should work to ensure that other faculty members are available as well. Aside from teachers, students should have easy access to their guidance counselors, who will be able to provide necessary mental health support— key during this time of uncertainty. The College Office should continue reaching out to seniors and juniors virtually, especially because many students are unsure in regards to how the college application process has changed in light of the pandemic. With so many things up in the air as we head back to school, making sure that the administration and faculty are available to assist students academically and emotionally is incredibly important and the first step in creating a successful school year. Maintain Student Voice and Input The lack of student voice in many of Stuyvesant’s decisionmaking processes has been a recurring problem. For example, the administration last year en-
rolled all juniors in a mandatory AP Physics course, with effectively no input from students. With backlash from teachers and students alike as well as a mid-year course change to Advanced Physics, the administration’s changes faced controversy almost every step of the way. And during this time of instability, with little to no in-person interaction or communication, taking into consideration student input is especially vital. Blended and remote learning platforms are already experimental, with questions already raised regarding bandwidth and power outlets in the building. With our circumstances extending from the last three months of school to a full term now, listening to the student experience is more important than ever for a successful school year. Establishing a feedback form available to all students to fill out at any time would be a good step to encourage students to provide input—and actively responding to students’ opinions expressed there would be vital to creating as smooth a transition as possible into the new academic year. Hold Teachers To A High Standard While most teachers took time to set up a form of live instruction once school went remote last year, some opted not to altogether, instead posting busywork on Google Classroom or a class website. In the absence of a schoolwide or citywide policy to the contrary, more than a few teachers literally did not not show their faces between the last day of in person classes on March 13 and the end of school more than three months later. While they attempted to fill the void left by their absence with daily or weekly assignments, Stuyvesant students had little trouble reading the signals sent by some of their teachers. As effort from certain teachers slipped, their students, only naturally, mirrored the behavior of their instructors and dropped off. For the coming year, so as not to repeat the failings of spring 2020’s remote learning, it is imperative that teachers hold at least some live instruction to ensure that neither students nor teachers fall out of step. While mandating live instruction is an important first step in ensuring engagement
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“The Pulse of the Student Body”
I sit in my history class, cringing as I hear my classmates and teacher say “Ganges” (gan-jees), despite the fact that I, as a South Asian, have grown up surrounded by people who call it the Ganga (guhn-gaa). After days and days of learning about events of European history, we approach the history of Indian civilization, and yet neither my teachers nor my textbooks bother to show the minimum effort to pronounce a word without Anglifying it. This lack of effort among teachers and textbooks shows a lack of recognition for the importance of non-European history and makes non-white students, like me and many others, feel underrepresented. As we try to combat racism as a nation, we fail to realize the inherent racism that exists in our
classrooms, the problems hidden in our own history textbooks. Our textbooks devote pages and pages to the contributions of the allegedly great European men of our past while barely finding enough space to squeeze in the history and accomplishments of other groups. In doing so, this type of syllabus dresses white men as the creators of history and as superior to others. By emphasizing the accomplishments of European civilizations and figures, we undermine those of other civilizations. Students need to learn about the accomplishments of various ethnic groups so they can develop a diverse world perspective and recognize the importance of each and every civilization. Currently, we tend to focus on the astronomical achievements of Galileo and other scientists of the Renaissance, while we ignore the
fact that the Vedas, which were written much earlier, contain calculations for the age of the Earth and the Sun nearly perfectly without the aid of modern technology. We tend to focus on the predecessors of current European nations while failing to go in depth into the development of African civilizations. We study the purpose behind the art of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, while we brush over the intricacies of East Asian art. Students will not be able to completely respect and appreciate different cultures until they recognize the accomplishments of these different cultures. While a more diverse history curriculum is necessary to instill respect for different cultures among students as well as to broaden their world perspective, a diverse history curriculum is also necessary to induce pride
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between teachers and students, more needs to be done to bridge the gaps created by remote schooling. The administration should encourage, if not require, all teachers to hold office hours at least once a week, potentially after a live class. This virtual space would give students a much-needed forum to air their concerns and keep up to date with all happenings in the virtual classroom. There must also be clear lines between classwork and homework. By the end of the 2019-2020 school year, the lines had been blurred so much that the two simply blended together. In the long term, a mass of work to be done is simply not a viable reality. Teachers dismissed concerns about excessive homework loads in violation of school policy by claiming it as classwork. While some overlap is inevitable considering that
Making History Everyone’s Story
By PETER GOSWAMI
A RT S & E N T E RTA I N M E N T E D I TO R S
among students and make them feel represented. In a melting pot like New York City, this is especially important. For the 20182019 school year, 40.6 percent of the city’s students identified as Hispanic, 25.5 percent identified as Black, 16.2 percent identified as Asian, and 15.1 percent identified as white. We can’t ignore the history of ethnic minorities when they make up the majority of the students in our school system. It is important to recognize the histories of different ethnicities, so the students of our city can learn about our ancestors instead of feeling ignored and underrepresented. The solution to the Eurocentric history curriculum that circulates throughout our city is simple but would take time to implement. Schools should start using textbooks that portray the histories of ethnic minori-
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classes are taking place at home, clearer boundaries and deadlines and more effective enforcement of the homework policy would be massive strides in the right direction. Finally, one recurring problem from last semester is that teachers frequently announced examinations hours in advance. Requiring that teachers warn students about exams with sufficient time to prepare, ideally one week, would substantially increase the learning and testing experience. This coming year will look like no other and we know that your journey as Stuyvesant’s principal will be met with unique challenges, but we hope you keep these ideas in mind as you go forward. Thank you for reading, The Editorial Board
ties. Teachers should be encouraged to learn more about topics of which they lack knowledge and allow students to talk about their personal experiences. The syllabus should be readjusted so students have time to learn about the histories of different regions and the growth of various civilizations. In this way, students will be able to learn about the contributions of different groups to the story of our world. By making changes to our Eurocentric curriculum, students will be encouraged to recognize the contributions of various ethnic groups rather than celebrate the “glorious white man.” Students will feel represented and will be more engaged in a diverse curriculum that presents the stories of different people. This way, we don’t just learn about the white man’s story. We learn about everyone’s story.
The Spectator • September 10, 2020
Opinions Two Bad Choices: A Familiar Story The Democratic National Convention (DNC) has concluded, and the Democratic Party has officially nominated 77-yearold Joe Biden for president. This nomination cements the choice for Americans for the second election in a row between two unpopular presidential candidates. The theme of Biden’s DNC was unity. The basic pitch the Democrats made to the American people was that Donald Trump is a disunifying figure and that Biden could help unify Americans in this time of crisis. That pitch could win this election; a “Return to Normalcy” message could work during a pandemic and a recession. However, what many of the Democratic party members don’t realize is that many Americans weren’t satisfied with the pre-pandemic American status quo. They don’t want to go back to Obama politics where despite the slogan “Hope and Change,” nothing fundamentally changed for most Americans. Inequality has continued to increase, and people’s quality of life continues to stagnate. Obama brought only symbolic change and fooled some people into believing real progress has been made. That’s the problem with a unity convention. For Republicans and Democrats to unify, they can only discuss the one area where they agree: Trump is bad and Biden is decent. Noticeably absent was any discussion of the ideological future of the Democratic party. The convention, and by extension the party at large, placed symbolism over substance, where nominating a woman of color for Vice President, while important, is considered good enough, without having to make material improvements to the lives of any women of color in this country. The Democratic Party is a coali-
three other septuagenarians to secure the nomination. Biden is also old and unstable, makes many strange comments, and, though he is a man of far superior mor-
Every election over the last few decades, the Republicans nominate some milquetoast corporatist or, even worse, an identitarian populist. The Democrats respond
al fiber to Trump, has changed views on almost every issue. The Democrats needed to find someone with unassailable charisma, patriotism, and convictions. In a country of over 300 million, they nominated someone with none of these things. Biden was nominated because he was “electable” and because much of the Democratic base was afraid that progressive radicalism wasn’t. He also maintained a sizable base of support that let him survive until Super Tuesday, when the other moderate candidate dropped out in coordinated fashion. Biden also faced a weak final field of candidates, each of whom had major problems themselves. The most qualified people with interesting ideas largely aren’t getting into and succeeding in the Democratic primary. A fundamental problem is that most people don’t vote in the primaries. It’s no wonder whoever wins isn’t popular when they weren’t picked by popular consensus in the first place. We must get out of this cycle.
with their establishment pick, who makes vague promises about change and delivers symbolism. While the latter is better, both choices serve to prevent meaningful reforms to help the stagnating middle and lower classes. The answer is not simple, and a positive solution may not be allowed to occur. The Democrats should not mirror the direction of the Republican Party and nominate a left-wing intersectionalist demagogue or someone who makes false promises and stokes class or racial hatred. We must demand reforms to the primary system. After his loss in 2016, Bernie Sanders and his supporters demanded the reduction of the power of the undemocratic superdelegates, and the party capitulated even though it directly undercut their power. Democratic voters must push for the introduction of ranked choice voting. Though this small change may not seem like it would have a big effect, ranked choice voting would allow primary voters to select the candidate who is the most popular, even if he or she isn’t the
Eleanor Chin / The Spectator
tion between left wing radicals with real policy proposals and a core party infrastructure that only stands for its own election. Once again, the empty establishment won out. The American people are stuck between two bad choices. Most people understand this situation at some basic level. They are less satisfied with their side than ever and vote because they hate the other side. This is the second election in modern polling history during which both candidates have majority negative favorability ratings. The only other election during which that happened was in 2016. According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of Republicans and a large minority of Democrats voted against the opposing candidate and not for their candidate in that election. This rise of negative partisanship also applies to whole parties, not just candidates. The American National Election Study asks political partisans every four years to score the opposing party on a scale of one to 100. The average political partisan scored the other side as a 55 in 1980. The average political partisan gave the opposing party a 23 in 2016. Paradoxically, the same people have a diminished view of their own parties as well. On a whole, Americans are dissatisfied with the entire political system. This article doesn’t need to outline all the reasons why Trump isn’t qualified to continue to be president. For that, just open up the New York Times or CNN and read one of the many articles that make the case compellingly. Trump is old, unstable, racist, and someone who lacks any moral or ideological commitments. Biden is also a flawed candidate. The Democratic electorate decided not to nominate him twice when he was still fully lucid. He then ran again in 2019 and defeated
By AARON VISSER
largest minority of people’s number one choice. A voter doesn’t have to worry about their vote not counting, because if the candidate they vote for is eliminated, their vote goes to the next ranked person on their ballot. This would help elevate candidates with novel ideas who people are afraid wouldn’t be electable. The next step, which would be even harder, is the replacement of the entire primary and general election system. This would effectively end the American quandary of two bad candidates and allow Americans to choose from a plethora of choices, free from concerns about electability. However, this option, while preferable, may not be allowed to occur or may take too long. A third party candidacy could be a possible solution. A proposal like this was proposed by what Bret Weinstein called the Unity 2020 plan, in which two candidates, one from the left and the right, both anti-establishment and prochange, would run and govern together. A plan like this, while admirably idealistic, is unlikely to succeed. Most people are too scared of the other side to join for radical change. Another way out is led by independent grassroots politicians who win lower offices through popular support and work to change the system from inside it. Unfortunately, many of these figures tend to rely heavily on identity politics and play a similar game that many on the right play with white identity. No solution is clean, easy, and likely, but the last thing we can do is become complacent and convince ourselves that this status quo is good. This isn’t a matter of taking a side and leaning into one ideology. We need to be against sides and ideology itself and create a system that allows for the most nuanced and non-violent discourse to occur.
Street Vendors and Empty Promises For the successive months after the pandemic first presented itself in New York City, we ate our favorite restaurant entrees out of plastic takeout containers, with cloth-bundled silverware exchanged for single-use cutlery and a bottomless bag of napkins. The time when we would again be served in-person platters and aromatic spreads no longer seemed within close reach. As we patiently endured springtime in the city, counties in Connecticut and New Jersey gradually received an okay to re-open dining services, while New York City eateries watched in understanding but deep envy. Days under lockdown grew into weeks and months, and by June 22, Cuomo cleared New York City—the former global epicenter—for outdoor dining. The precautions that disallowed indoor service from resuming, to the dismay of struggling restaurants, were drawn from Cuomo’s fear about the warning signs “from other states on the horizon.” In anticipation of a sudden clamor for outdoor dining tables, restaurateurs scrambled to erect outdoor seating and barriers for the street space adjacent to their restaurants, transforming the city sidewalks into bustling woodworking stations. While the brick and mortar eateries were back in business, the decision to grant restaurants free rein over street
space was yet another blow to New York City’s forgotten food population: street vendors. The temporary outdoor dining program, introduced at the New York City Council, has permitted restaurants to occupy plazas, sidewalks, streets, and parking lots— in many cases displacing vendor carts and street-food trucks that had been serving out of these very
have not spent a dime at these same carts since the March closure of the school building. Vendors have already been economically underserved by the government throughout the course of the pandemic: a large fraction of the city vendor population is comprised of undocumented immigrants who were not afforded stimulus checks
places for years. Forced to relocate, vendors lost many of their day-to-day patrons, a slowdown that was further perpetuated by a drastic reduction in foot traffic throughout the city during the three-month lockdown. The network of vendor carts around Stuyvesant, for one, rely on a midday rush of students—a demographic of customers who
back in April. A resilient group of 20,000 hardworking individuals who serve much of the working class in the city, vendors are rarely represented in local legislation and are often overlooked by lawmakers in Albany. This precedent of hostility toward street vendors was cemented by a 1981 law that capped the number of street vendor permits at 5,000,
Emily Chen / The Spectator
By ELIO TORRES
essentially whittling down the industry to an elite hobby, not a passage for the American Dream. The mismanaged vendor license system, which emerged out of this antiquated legislation, has forced aspiring vendors to pay up to $18,000 for a retail $200 permit in order to sell legally out of their carts. The strict cap on vendor permit availability, which has remained unchanged for four decades, has not kept pace with the extensive population growth of the city and has authorized over-policing of vendors. Evelia Coyotzi, a tamale vendor in Corona, Queens, was arrested more than 15 times, not for breaking well-defined laws and rules, but for selling her authentic Tlaxcalan cuisine in the wrong place at the wrong time—namely, an era during which the police and former mayor Rudy Giuliani reportedly did not want a single vendor on the streets. A community that has long been subject to Albany’s cold shoulder, street vendors now have a chance to pass legislation that would support the industry in a period of unprecedented need— Intro 1116. Council members Margaret Chin and Carlos Menchaca pioneered a bill that would “aim to bring increased opportunities, fairness, and consistent enforcement to a chaotic system created by a decades-old cap that has forced many vendors to turn to an underground market for licenses.” Intro 1116
would directly expand the availability of vending permits, implement an official vendor advisory board, and create an office for street vendor enforcement. As Stuyvesant students, we understand that the street vendor population in our city is indispensable; our go-to orders at the halal and Korean food carts have stayed fresh on our minds even after a six-month hiatus. The vendors themselves were more than just faces we would pass as we trekked down Chambers Street— we exchanged daily greetings and smiles, and they knew our orders at the mere sight of us. For all of the affordable lunches that they served to us, it is now our obligation to support the bill that might very well keep their businesses alive in these troubled times. These vendors deserve more than our thoughts and prayers—they need decisive action. If your life has been bettered by a street vendor, or if you want to protect these resolute workers with families and dreams, I urge you to take to the following actions: call your council member and urge them to support Intro 1116; call Corey Johnson, the speaker of the New York City Council, and remind him that you care about street vendors in our city; and, finally, try to buy your next meal from a local street vendor. They have always been there for us at our every convenience—now imagine a New York City without them.
The Spectator • September 10, 2020
Opinions Saving Our Snail Mail—And Our Votes By MAYA DUNAYER Since the establishment of the United States in 1776, the debate over the enfranchisement of various groups has wound its way through American history. Initially, the right to vote was only granted to white, propertyowning men, but as time went on, more and more groups were allowed at the polls. States could no longer use religion as a factor in determining who could vote in 1828. The 15th Amendment granted the right to vote to all men regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” in 1870. Then, the 19th Amendment struck down the gender requirement in 1920, owing entirely to the women’s suffrage movement that had been blazing for decades. Finally, with the 26th Amendment of 1971, the United States put into place the system that we have today, wherein all American citizens age 18 or older are eligible to vote. But after centuries of fighting, the American people face a new threat to their ability to vote—a threat that comes directly from the Oval Office. As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on and we draw closer to the November election, many states are gearing up to allow citizens to vote from home—rather than having to risk their lives at the polls. The method of choice for many states is allowing the increased usage of absentee and mail-in ballots, which are handled by the United States Postal Service (USPS). Voting by mail is not a new concept. Taking different forms throughout the U.S., this method allows Americans to cast their votes from the comfort of their own homes, and allows those who would otherwise not be able to get to the polling stations a chance to exercise their Constitutional right. It has become increasingly common in
the past few years, growing from high number. Thus, there is no 7.8 percent of voters choosing doubt that DeJoy’s actions have this method in 1996 to nearly 21 negatively impacted the USPS’s percent of voters using mail to ability to deliver mail in a timely vote in 2016. Though the USPS fashion. And new information should be working to improve that has surfaced makes it abunthe efficiency of mail in prepara- dantly clear that his motivations tion for the upcoming election, are of a political nature. since Postmaster General Louis For one, DeJoy is a member DeJoy rose to the position in of the Republican Party and a June, he has only made changes Trump mega-donor. This inforthat have caused delays in the mation alone is certainly postal service system. Though he not enough eviclaims that he is making these changes to improve the fiscal state of the USPS, it seems that DeJoy’s actions have a political motivation behind them. DeJoy and President Trump seem to be wielding the USPS as a political tool, allowing them to skew the election results in Trump’s favor. DeJoy’s changes—eliminating employee overtime, removing mail-sorting Ka Seng Soo / The Spectator machines from postal facilities across the country, and reorganizing leadership—have dence to prove that he is intenall compromised the efficiency tionally derailing the USPS. But of the USPS. And many states his response when called to testify across the United States are al- in front of the House of Repreready reeling from the repercus- sentatives and explain the USPS’s sions of DeJoy’s changes. For delays suggests that these facts example, seven mail-processing might have greater relevance than machines were removed from a what meets the eye. During his processing center in West Phila- testimony, he denied claims that delphia, and post offices were he was using the USPS delays to told to open later and close dur- support President Trump’s puring lunch. Accordingly, Rep- suits, saying, “I am not engaged resentative Brendan Boyle of in sabotaging the election. We Philadelphia said that his office will do everything in our power received 345 complaints about and structure to deliver the balthe Postal Service last month, lots on time.” DeJoy also told compared to only 17 complaints lawmakers that he did not put in July of 2019. The USPS has into place some of the changes informed 41 states that there are that were causing concern—such concerns about the timeliness as the removal of blue mailboxes of mail-in ballots, a staggeringly and mail-sorting machines—and
that he did not know who had put those changes into place. But after being asked repeatedly if he would restore the removed mailsorting machines, DeJoy barked “I will not” before launching into a tirade about the lack of funding the USPS has received. Eventually, he told Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat of California, “get me the billion and I’ll put the machines in.” DeJoy’s defensiveness and claims that changes were made right under his nose are suspicious at best. President Trump has also faced accusations of using the USPS crisis to block voters who might vote against him from being counted in the election. “They want three and a half billion dollars for something that’ll turn out to be fraudulent, that’s election money basically,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News last week. “They want $25 billion, billion, for the Post Office. Now they need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots.” Despite his lofty claims, there is no history of widespread fraud with mailin ballots; a 2017 study from the Brennan Center for Justice stated that voter fraud accounted for 0.00004 percent and 0.0009 percent of all votes. Even if you believe that Trump really cares about making sure Americans are safe from the trials and tribulations of voter fraud, he has alluded to his political motivations in his favorite medium: a tweet. He tweeted, “Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to statewide mail-in voting. Democrats are clamoring for it. Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.” It has also been found that delays with voting by mail would likely aid President Trump in the elec-
tion. In a study from Marquette Law School, it was found that 55 percent of registered Democrats planned to vote by mail, while only 15 percent of Republicans said the same. Based on President Trump’s words—as well as the fact that mail-in voting would harm his political agenda—it is clear that he is using the USPS to help win the election. And with the USPS delivering 472.1 million pieces of mail daily, the problems with the USPS are even greater than the potential to delay absentee and mail-in ballots. Americans rely on the USPS for their prescription medicine, paychecks, and other important documents. By causing delays to the USPS, DeJoy and Trump are not only threatening the constitutional rights of Americans, but their wellbeing, too. The actions of these two men simply cannot be allowed to stand, and they must face the appropriate consequences. The best way to put an end to this misuse of power is to make sure that your vote counts this November. Request an absentee ballot if your state requires it, and call your local election office to inquire about how much postage will cost you. Mail your ballot as early as you possibly can, at least a week before the deadline. By taking the necessary steps to make sure your vote counts, you can help make sure that DeJoy and Trump’s actions don’t affect your constitutional rights. For those who are unable to vote, you can help reverse DeJoy’s actions by calling or writing to your senators and asking them to endorse stimulus funding that will help the Post Office out of its financial crisis. By taking a stand against DeJoy and Trump, we can ensure that we protect our right to vote and that the next president is the one that the people of the United States truly want.
The Case for Project-Based Assessment By ELENA HLAMENKO I can’t focus at home, I have a hard time understanding the content when taught online, I’m losing motivation from being alone these past six months...but I still have to take online exams as if nothing about my educational experience has changed? This question runs through the mind of every student as he or she opens a laptop and navigates the confusing, cheating-prevention software we have been asked to install before an exam. Some programs simply lock down the browser or record movement between tabs during a timed exam session. Other programs claim to track eye movement and notify a teacher if any viewing patterns are deemed “suspicious.” Still, others can do anything from recording computer audio during exam sessions to analyzing the frequency at which a student types, in case they decide to copy a response from another source. These methods are undoubtedly impressive. But they are also a gross abuse of how we assess student learning. When teachers funnel energy into mandating the most intricate cheating-prevention software, they fail to recognize two points. One, no software is fool-proof. If teachers go to such lengths in hopes of creating a level playing field come exam time, yet students still find ways to circumvent the software, then the burdensome installation process
is rendered useless. Accordingly, it is virtually impossible to recreate the controlled, physical testing environment of a classroom through a computer screen. If this is the case, why utilize measures of learning that mandate cheating prevention software in the first place? Second, teachers need to realize that the energy invested in researching the best cheatingprevention software, mandating its installation, providing support to non-tech savvy students, and adapting to the program themselves could be better utilized if put toward designing new ways to assess student learning. Instead of traditional examination methods, teachers should adopt entirely project-based forms of assessment for as long as remote learning remains in effect. To best understand the benefits of project-based assessment (PBA), it is important to recognize the student experience with online exams. At their core, online examination methods depend on students having reliable access to devices, stable work environments, and steady Internet connections. Yet even these three principles produce an inequitable assessment model. Within certain families, where students assume the additional role of a caregiver to younger siblings or older relatives, being able to take an exam in one sitting is simply not possible. When students are given the ultimatum of writing an essay in 45 minutes or feeding their
younger siblings, it becomes evident that our assessment model has become not only flawed but devoid of empathy for unique student situations. Even in less drastic cases, it is not uncommon for students to share rooms with one or more individuals and/or lack private spaces to complete an exam. Distractions in the home learning environment should not serve as a form of academic punishment and should be reflected in a numeric assessment of what students know. Additionally, while the Department of Education has offered learning devices to students in need, they have yet to ensure widespread Internet connect i o n , m a k i n g Sammi Chen /T h e Spectator the premise of online examination fundamentally inequitable. For a subgroup of students who rely on public WiFi networks or simply lack access to the Internet at all times of day, online exams are inaccessible ways to demonstrate learning. Furthermore, for the average student with working parents and younger siblings creating additional stress on home WiFi systems, the threat of a WiFi network simply crashing and shutting down during an online exam is omnipresent. After
four months of remote learning, who hasn’t been randomly kicked out of a Zoom meeting or had their learning device abruptly reboot? Now imagine placing the same frustration and annoyance into a testing environment, where students have their grades on the line. Sure, they can e-mail their teachers and ask f o r a retake in
the case of an incomplete exam. But with a lack of standardized policy for technical difficulties during online exams, it is alarmingly easy for teachers to decline these kinds of requests. Why should a student be punished for external factors preventing them from taking online exams? How can teachers tell which students are using “technical difficulties” as an excuse to cheat and which genuinely need extra time? Instead of navigating these difficult rhetorical questions and staunchly defending
flawed testing methods, educators should look into viable alternatives. Project Based Assessment (PBA) is more than just an alternative to testing—it’s an equitable form of measuring student performance that may become the future of testing altogether. Instead of multiple choice or short-answer formats, PBA is delivered as hands-on, collaborative assignments that test student learning through open-ended projects, including Powerpoints, research papers, short animations, and more. When compared to traditional assessment models, PBA resolves numerous issues raised by the former. Instead of measuring student fact recollection within a 45-minute window, PBA accounts for unique student situations by providing longer time frames for students to complete their work. Accordingly, this accounts for Internet volatility and additional at-home duties that may prevent students from performing at their best during online exams. In addition to accounting for differences in student home environments, PBA’s appeal directly addresses one of the core pillars of Stuyvesant’s reputation: academic honesty. With access to the Internet, peer support, and anti-cheating software loopholes during excontinued on page 15
The Spectator • September 10, 2020
Opinions The Case for Project-Based Assessment
continued from page 14
ams, it is evidently more difficult to enforce academic honesty in an online setting. So, while online exams present one set of correct answers and rely on student integrity to produce them on their
responses on a multiple choice exam look identical to those of your classmate, you will receive the same grade without instructor knowledge of you cheating. But if two projects look identical, academic dishonesty will be detected, and involved parties
recognize the student benefits of adopting this testing model. At their core, multiple choice exams test students on fact recollection and foster a culture of “cramming”—last minute studying to memorize facts rather than understand content. While some
Nothing about the current student educational experience is “traditional,” and the way that students demonstrate their learning should be reflective of that.
own, PBA expects every student to have a different response. Thus, it is fundamentally much more difficult to cheat on a week-long project than it is on a 45-minute multiple choice exam. If your
will be reprimanded. Simply put, the only way to enforce academic integrity across the school is to adopt PBA. In light of the technical benefits of PBA, it is crucial to also
educators may argue that memorizing content down to the finest details demonstrates depth of student understanding, this logic is inherently flawed: how is being able to recall the exact date of a
battle an accurate assessment of what a student knows about a civilization at large? Is being able to name all 45 presidents in chronological order an indicator of a student’s knowledge of U.S. history? With PBA, students aren’t tested on fact recollection, but rather on fact application—a distinction that has been increasingly studied among researchers. Studies comparing learning outcomes for students taught via PBA versus traditional instruction show that—when implemented well—project-based learning increases long-term retention of content; helps students perform as well as, if not better than, traditional learners in highstakes tests; strengthens problemsolving and collaboration skills; and improves students’ attitudes toward learning. Other studies draw similar conclusions, suggesting that PBA is not just a better assessment of student learning—
it’s a better learning tool, too. The appeal of PBA is clear. It is considerate of student obligations, accounts for educational inequity within online assessment, preserves academic integrity, and stimulates long-term retention of content. As the academic school year begins, educators should take these factors into consideration when designing their assessment models. Exams do not have to remain within course syllabi simply because they have traditionally been a part of the learning experience. Nothing about the current student educational experience is “traditional,” and the way that students demonstrate their learning should be reflective of that. Yes, an entirely PBA learning model is new, unconventional, and may be held in a skeptical light by educators. But if a system is flawed, the educational community has an obligation to fix it, and PBA is the solution.
Israel’s Wrongdoings Cannot Be an Excuse for Antisemitism When I heard that Ilhan Omar not only won her August primary but achieved a crushing victory over her well-funded opponent, I was mildly surprised. Her position as a trailblazer for women of color in Congress cannot be overstated, but Omar is extremely divisive. She has claimed that Israel has hypnotized the world and that politicians are bought out to support Israel, some even holding a dual allegiance to both the U.S. and Israel. These are some of the oldest antisemitic canards in the book, and Democrats almost always claim not to tolerate bigotry in the party. Her victory becomes even more baffling when one looks at the wing of the party that supports her, as the progressive wing takes pride in the fact that they hold their candidates to high standards in regards to their records and personal beliefs. However, Omar managed to escape serious controversy, because she used Israel as a veil for her antisemitism. It would be hard to find a foreign country more reviled by modern leftists than Israel, and in many ways for good reason. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has led the country into a new era of aggressive annexation of the West Bank, and the actions of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) while carrying out these annexations have been unacceptable. When the IDF is bulldozing homes and killing Palestinian civilians, there is no way to defend the annexations. Opposing Israel’s annexations and disregard for human rights is not an inherently antisemitic position; in fact, it is a position that I believe more people should hold. Nonetheless, that opposition’s discourse enters antisemitic territory far too frequently. First of all, it is important to separate Zionism, the belief that Jews ought to have national sovereignty, from the belief that Israel is infallible. I am a Zionist in the sense that I believe that Israel should exist. Jews have historically faced persecution across the globe, and it would be naive to say that antisemitism is only a problem from past eras. Hate crimes against Jews are at a record high in America, and antisemitic sentiments from both the right and left wings remain
present in international politics. Leaving millions of Jews stateless by dissolving the state of Israel would be deeply irresponsible, and it would likely cause more harm than good. Israel exists to be a place where Jews are protected and Jewish culture can flourish. Claiming that the existence of Israel is intertwined with the oppression of Palestine disregards what Israel means to many people. Israel was the first place where many Jews could feel like they were valued and protected, and its existence is a testament to Jewish endurance. Claiming that Jews are supporting the murder of Palestinians when they advocate for Israel’s existence implies that a Jewish state inherently involves murder and oppression. This is extremely antisemitic as it claims that Jews as a people will always oppress others, which is not at all true. Furthermore, anti-Zionists will often offer a revisionist history of Israel to delegitimize the connection Jews have to the land. Though Jews were exiled from the land many years ago, Israel continued to play a significant role in Jewish traditions, prayer, and cultures. Zionists did not simply drop a pin on a map and decide the Jews should settle there. Rather, this is an area with deep cultural and ancestral ties to the Jewish diaspora, and denying that fact to paint Jews as colonists who stole the land from the Palestinian people is extremely antisemitic. The fact of the matter is that both Israel and Palestine have a legitimate claim to the land that cannot be erased. Most egregiously, Israel is held to a far higher standard than many of its international counterparts. Let’s be clear: Israel’s actions against the Palestinian people are unacceptable and morally repugnant. The Israeli government has torn apart families, destroyed homes, and inflicted unimaginable suffering on the people of Palestine. Nonetheless, it is important to ask whether the sovereignty of other countries is called into question any time they do something reprehensible. China has put Uighurs in concentration camps, Myanmar has engaged in ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people, and Saudi Arabia has committed countless war crimes against Yemen. There are no prominent movements
to dissolve these states, and you would never see a sitting U.S. Representative claim that people who pursue a less harsh approach toward these countries hold a dual allegiance. Israel should not have to be perfect or even good to retain its sovereignty, and the Israeli people should not be denied safety because of the actions
larger Jewish community. The way some people talk about Israel is firmly rooted in delusion and antisemitism. AntiZionists flood posts about antisemitic hate crimes in America with comments reading “Free Palestine.” I learn about the Holocaust at desks vandalized with swastikas in a school named after
of their government. Making Israeli sovereignty conditional on its actions means that the safety of Jews in the region gets decided by other people. Robbing Jews of their right to self-determination because of the Israeli government is wildly antisemitic, especially when this discussion does not take place regarding any of the aforementioned nations. At the end of the day, a country is made up of its people, not its leaders. For the past few years, I have spent every day being disgusted by the actions of my government. Each day comes with a new atrocity or violation of human rights, and I know that we move further and further away from the right side of history with each passing moment. Despite all of this, I have never lost faith in the American people or stopped believing that the American ideals of liberty and equality are obtainable and worth pursuing. America makes its largest mistakes when we fail to live up to what America should be, and the same applies to Israel. Israel has the potential to be a beacon of light for the rest of the world, but it is currently squandering all of its promise. This is a problem with leadership, not the people of Israel, and definitely not the
a noted antisemite, but then get lectured about why antisemitism is no longer a problem and how Israel does not have a valid purpose. People block out Jewish voices from progressive spaces and accuse us of supporting the murder of Palestinian children for believing in Israel’s right to
Cindy Yang / The Spectator
By JOHN GROSSMAN
exist. Prime Minister Netanyahu has done terrible things, but we should talk about Israel the same way we talk about any other country that is going down the wrong path. The oppression of Palestine cannot serve as a lightning rod for antisemitism, and we need to be far more vigilant in reining in the discourse when it crosses that line. I am not upset because Ilhan Omar made antisemitic comments. I am upset because the left has continued to support her in spite of these comments. Omar is paraded around loudly and proudly by the progressive wing of the party, and any criticism of her is seen as right-wing fodder. The vast majority of American Jews identify as Democrats, and it feels like a slap in the face when the party does not nip its own prejudices in the bud. Democrats are quick to criticize Republicans who are proudly bigoted, but when we face dogwhistles toward Jews in our own party, we remain silent. I am extremely proud to be a Democrat, but it saddens me deeply when I see hypocrisy and genuine bigotry go unchecked in the party. We need to be better at looking at ourselves and our own problems, and also be willing to call out a political ally for their problematic views. If we truly want to be the party of the moral high ground, then we need to make it clear that there is no room for hate in any capacity.
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The Spectator ● September 10, 2020
Science SCIENCEBEAT Senior Kristoff Misquitta is the winner of the Genes in Space Competition. His experiment studying drug metabolism will launch to the International Space Station in 2021. Senior Sebastien Beurnier and sophomore Fu Chen received Honorable Mentions.
Several critically endangered primate species, including lowland gorillas and orangutans, are now thought to be susceptible to infection by SARSCoV-2.
A new theory suggests that extreme radiation from multiple nearby supernovae was responsible for one of Earth’s five major mass extinctions.
Trace environmental radiation from places such as concrete walls or outer space has been shown to limit the performance of quantum computers.
The Cost of Preventing a Pandemic
By DEAN CHEN
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It lets us look back at the oversights that we have made and consider what could have—and should have—been done differently. In hindsight, for example, the government should have responded more rapidly to the pandemic. As much as COVID-19 has been an extraordinary occurrence, it has also been a predictable and, to an extent, preventable phenomenon. New zoonotic diseases, or diseases caused by pathogens spread from animals, have a history of “spilling over” annually from their natural hosts (primates, bats, other wildlife, domesticated animals) to humans. Approximately two new viral spillover events have occurred every year for the past century, each with the potential to create a widespread pandemic. The SARS and H1N1 epidemics and the spread of HIV are examples of spillover events. The virus behind the current pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, is part of the coronavirus family, which commonly infects mammals, birds, and sometimes, humans. SARS-CoV-2 is believed to have originated from bats due to its close relationship with RaTG13, a bat coronavirus. As interactions between humans and wildlife disease reservoirs, which are wildlife populations and environments in which pathogens naturally reside, increase with time, the subsequent potential for disease spillover increases. In light of the ongoing pandemic, ecologist and evolutionary biologist Andrew Dobson and colleagues published an analytical study proposing feasible pandemic
prevention measures for the future and their costs. According to the study, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a $5.6 trillion loss in global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as well as $2.5 to $10.2 trillion in human lives based on ranging mortality. In the study, Dobson et al. cited the reduction of deforestation and the regulation of wildlife trade as two primary means of spillover prevention. Forest edges, particularly those of tropical forests, are ideal regions for novel spillover events to occur. Most contact that humans and their livestock have with wildlife is likely to occur in these areas. As humans continue to cut through and within forests for agricultural space, lumber, infrastructure expansion, and other reasons, forest perimeters grow. As human populations neighboring forest edges grow, so do contact rates. While deforestation reduces wildlife populations, growing human populations increase the magnitude of spillover events in the off chance that they do occur. Activities such as hunting, farming, and trading wildlife further compound transmission routes. As such, curbing deforestation may be a viable method of reducing viral emergences and spillover event frequency. The study estimates that a 40 percent reduction in deforestation in regions at high risk of spillover may cost approximately $1.5 to $9.6 billion annually, based on what methods are used (direct prevention as opposed to policy changes and other programs). In addition to spillover prevention, this approach also brings ecological preservation and reductions in carbon emissions. The wildlife trade is an exten-
sive industry, as well as a major source of human contact with wild animals and viruses. The U.S. alone is the world’s largest in terms of wildlife importation, a process rife with opportunities for viral transmission. Dobson et al. suggest that laws banning the transportation of high-risk disease reservoir species such as primates, bats, pangolins, and rodents may be necessary to prevent the spillover of zoonoses. Chinese wet markets were thought to have been the source of SARSCoV-2 at one time, resulting in a suspension (but not long-term ban) on wildlife trading in China. The Chinese wildlife farming industry is worth approximately $20 billion and employs around 15 million people. The largest expenditure proposed in the study is the cost of ending said wildlife industry in China, coming in at an estimated $19.4 billion annually. The study does not consider the trade occurring in other regions with large trade networks such as southern Asia and Africa. Some researchers believe that the wildlife trade is given too much emphasis as a source of disease transmission, and that the returns on investment are not worth the costs. They emphasize public health protocols, which Dobson et al. also cite as in need of support. Wildlife management and health screening are also necessary in order to reduce transmission rates, but the study found that international conventions and regional wildlife enforcement networks are mostly underfunded, putting disease management out of their budget. As a whole, the study proposes a plan that involves both deforestation prevention and wildlife trade
regulation costing approximately $22 to $31 billion annually to reduce future pandemic risk. Factoring in an estimated $4 billion in benefits from carbon reduction, the cost comes out to $18 to $27 billion annually. In comparison to the $5 trillion loss in global GDP and additional loss of human lives, the proposed plan is a small price to pay. In order to justify the costs, the researchers claim that the plan must reduce pandemic risk by only 27 percent in the next year below baseline probability. Despite a lack of present information and the use of inaccurate estimates regarding the efficacy of preventative measures, the researchers found prevention to be a worthwhile investment. The study is relatively new and thus presents only a handful of viable methods for pandemic prevention going into the future. As a normal person without billions to spend, what can you do to stop pandemic spread? I recommend exercising common sense. COVID-19 is spread primarily person-to-person through respiratory droplets. The CDC recommends washing your hands consistently before eating or touching your face, as well as after leaving public spaces and handling anything that could be in contact with others’ or your own respiratory fluids. Wear an effective mask properly, avoid excessive contact with others (it’s painful, but do everyone a favor), and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects taken from outside the home. Follow these simple precautions and you’re helping to reduce the impacts of a phenomenon that could take billions to prevent annually.
Concurrent Combatants: COVID-19 and the Flu
By SONYA SASSON
taneous contraction of pathogenic cells from two or more different particles (in this case, COVID-19 and influenza). Previous studies have confirmed that coinfection with multiple respiratory viruses is possible. An experiment conducted in Northern California during April 2020 analyzed COVID-19 cases in conjunction with other respi-
virus was very common during the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China. According to the results of the study, patients coinfected with COVID-19 and influenza were more likely to develop fatigue, chest CT abnormalities, or decreased lymphocytes and eosinophils (the body’s main types of immune cells), both of which indicate more severe disease. Ad-
ratory viruses, such as RSV and rhinoviruses (the common cold). Their data revealed that of 318 specimens positive for one or more non-coronavirus pathogens, 24 (7.5 percent) were also positive for the coronavirus. While this number is relatively low, it still signifies the possibility of coinfection with other pathogens. More importantly, a study recently published in the Journal of Medical Virology found that coinfection of last year’s strain of influenza and the corona-
ditionally, patients who were coinfected with influenza were found to have a higher rate of presenting poor prognosis (30.4 percent) in comparison with patients who contracted either COVID-19 (7.6 percent) or influenza (5.9 percent). These studies indicate that the impending winter in the Northern Hemisphere will bring about coinfections of the flu and coronavirus. Should coinfection occur, patients’ symptoms and clinical distress might be exacerbated due to the
Semoi Khan / The Spectator
Ever since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, life as we had known it changed drastically. With the virus spreading rapidly and cases nationwide skyrocketing, scientists are left baffled and searching frantically for a vaccine. Unfortunately, time is of the essence. With the imminent flu season fast approaching, health experts are alarmed by the chilling prospect of battling both influenza and the coronavirus pandemic at once. Though sometimes overlooked thanks to the annual flu vaccine, influenza is one of the deadliest illnesses worldwide, killing up to 650 thousand people annually. While some countries are managing the coronavirus pandemic effectively, others, such as the United States, are facing the terrors of a “second wave.” Due to the rapid influx of cases, already strained hospitals and clinics dread a pileup of new respiratory infections, including influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) (a virus that causes respiratory tract infections in young children), as explained by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Health experts and researchers are apprehensive of what the flu season will bring when combined with the disaster of COVID-19 that still wreaks havoc upon the world. For a sneak peek into what the pandemic has in store for the Northern Hemisphere come wintertime, researchers turned to countries located in the Southern Hemisphere, including South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. The Southern Hemisphere braced for the winter flu season while fighting COVID-19 in March 2020. Epidemiologists at South Africa’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases observed the interactions between seasonal respiratory viruses and the coronavirus and were presented with a perplexing phenomenon: the flu was
essentially absent from the population. Most regions were reporting higher than 10 percent test positivity for seasonal influenza, and the most heavily hit areas reported over 30 percent test positivity in July 2019, peak influenza season in the Southern Hemisphere. In comparison, no region has reported more than 10 percent test positivity, and a few regions in Southeast Asia, South America, and Africa have reported zero cases of the flu altogether as of July 2020. However, there are many possible explanations for this strange occurrence, including the overlooking of cases as clinics closed, travel restrictions, school closures, social distancing, and mask-wearing. While overall positive, this situation gives scientists little to work with to determine how the coronavirus might influence the course of a flu outbreak in the Northern Hemisphere. Nevertheless, some researchers, like Ian Barr, deputy director of the World Health Organization, are stating their concerns regarding a dangerous process known as “coinfection.” In virology, coinfection refers to the simul-
presence of, not one, but two viruses in their bloodstream. In order to capture more accurate data and make the appropriate research and treatment choices, scientists believe that dual diagnostic tests (to test patients for COVID-19 and influenza at once) should be developed. As a matter of fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already “issued emergency use authorizations for flu-COVID-19 combination tests,” which could mean that more efficient testing is well on its way to becoming a reality. Furthermore, the heightened necessity of the coming season has boosted the production of flu vaccines. Vaccine manufacturers, namely GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, increased their production of the 2020 flu vaccine by 20 million doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This action is justified by the fact that preventing the flu will “keep hospital admission down as health systems grapple with the pandemic.” However, several detractors, such as Pasi Penttinen, head of the influenza and respiratory illness program at the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, warn of the possibility of a minor flu season like the one that took place in the Southern Hemisphere just earlier this year. Penttinen believes that “pouring resources into an immunization campaign necessarily subtracts from COVID-19 response,” a risk that he and other critics are unwilling to take. There is no doubt that our current predicament will play a crucial role in taking scientific research to the next level. Unraveling the complications of coinfection and determining the most effective method of vaccinating and testing during the upcoming season forces researchers to throw caution to the wind and pursue answers. Whether the flu rears its head over the next few months or not, the best we can do is be prepared for whatever comes next.
The Spectator ● September 10, 2020
Science The Technological Age of Medicine By OSCAR WANG Looking beyond the pandemic, we must begin to think about whether the practices we have collectively adopted during quarantine are here to stay. While some states see spikes in infections as shops and public areas reopen, others see flattening curves as its inhabitants adhere to social distancing guidelines. Over the past few months, questions like “Is there an end to social distancing?” and “How can we return to our pre-pandemic way of life quickly while keeping everyone safe?” have forced officials to rethink which models adopted during the pandemic should remain in place after it subsides. Meanwhile, other officials consider adopting new technologies into standard medical practice. The ongoing practice of telemedicine is one such model that has sparked debate among policymakers, doctors, and patients. Though the practice of telemedicine began years ago, it saw dramatic growth as the pandemic escalated. When coronavirus cases in New York skyrocketed, for example, more people in the Northeast scheduled online appointments due to safety concerns. And why wouldn’t they? Telemedicine is a cheap, convenient, and popular alternative to in-person checkups in overcrowded medical facilities. By seeing their doctors remotely, patients can bypass the waiting room and enjoy the comfort of their own homes while receiving the same care as before. Proponents of telehealth also argue that it increases access to healthcare in rural areas, optimizes staff distribution, and lessens the financial impact when a patient skips an appointment. Insurers are considering telemedicine because they can pay doctors less for their online services. However, according to a study on patient satisfaction with telehealth, most still prefer in-person checkups. Though half of the patients were satisfied with schedul-
ing online appointments, over 70 percent were not satisfied with the quality of care. Furthermore, doctors are receiving conflicting information on pay rates because the quality of their services isn’t as easily documented online. In fact, existing laws in 31 states fail to reach a consensus on how much to pay for telehealth services. While private insurers currently cover the costs of telemedicine, whether they will continue after the pandemic remains unaddressed. There are also limitations to telemedicine in terms of different ways to diagnose disease. While infections and certain chronic diseases are easy to diagnose and check up on remotely, other conditions require the use of medical equipment to provide a proper diagnosis. For example, the nasal swab test, the most common and effective tool used to diagnose COVID-19, requires a doctor to administer and send the test to a lab. Magnetic Resonance Imaging machines are needed to diagnose cancer, injuries, and other problems if other tests fail to produce viable results. Also, bone injuries often require CT scans or X-rays to track recovery. Therefore, the challenge for switching to an online healthcare model lies in persuading insurance providers that it’ll not only help diagnose and treat typical diseases but also those that require handson testing. Remote treatment for mental health and chronic disease also remains unaddressed. Fortunately, recent technological advancements like virtual reality (VR) may be the answer to this dilemma. VR, famously depicted
in the novel “Ready Player One,” blocks out user interaction with the real world and shows them a digital world using two screens in a headset. Carrie Shaw, founder and CEO of Embodied Labs, uses VR to create an immersive training experience for doctors. Her mother’s struggle with dementia was an inspiration for her company. Seeing how difficult it was to envision the effects of her mother’s condition, Shaw created programs that show
training, which is especially applicable during the pandemic because many students are unable to return to medical school. Osso VR, for instance, uses virtual reality to train surgeons using simulated operations. Studies show that around 30 percent of surgeons who have recently graduated are unable to perform surgeries independently. Osso VR addresses this issue by providing an intuitive and responsive simulation that allows surgeons to assess themselves during and after virtual operations. Programs like these are especially useful during the pandemic because it lets medical students receive the training they need when schools remain closed. In addition,
of doctors in the U.S. and reduce unnecessary labor. VR also helps doctors safely treat chronic diseases while meeting social distancing guidelines. For instance, researchers at the University of Utah conducted a study on the use of VR to treat patients with Parkinson’s by immersing them in a simulated world and guiding them with simple movement and coordination tasks. The 10 patients on which the study was conducted each reported a greater range of motion in their hips and ankles and improvement in navigation and balance. The patients also reported that the treatment was fun and challenging, creating a safe environment for them to explore. In the future, the scientists intend to compare their methods with other therapies to confirm its effectiveness. If their techniques are approved, it would revolutionize the way doctors treat chronic illnesses. It also answers the question of how to treat chronic disease remotely. Currently, two treatments for Parkinson’s are medications and physical activity. By mailing Parkinson’s patients the drugs and necessary equipment for immersive self-therapy, doctors forgo the need for in-person checkups and guided therapies with their patients. Though doctors still remain unsure about the future of telemedicine, its implementation in conjunction with other technologies, such as VR, shows promise. Still, the field of technology within medicine remains an untapped market. According to a report published in 2017, VR is but one technology projected to grow significantly in the next five years. Augmented reality (AR), projected to grow faster than VR, allows virtual objects to be inserted into the real world through a camera and a display. While less immersive, AR has applications in medicine that are just as useful as those of VR. If these projected trends become a reality, the state of medicine in 2030 will be vastly different compared to its state today.
Emily Tan / The Spectator
how patients with dementia see the world. She later extended the reach of her technology to help doctors explore other diseases associated with aging. For instance, doctors trained under her program can see examples of plaque buildup and the progression of brain decay in Alzheimer’s patients. Her VR also helps doctors perceive the world in the same way patients with vision loss or hearing loss do. She hopes that, in the future, all doctors will be able to use her technology to better treat elderly patients. However, Embodied Labs is just one example of how VR can be used to provide better treatment. VR is also used in medical
VR can be used to simulate ICU procedures, like how to operate a ventilator, for doctors who have yet to practice outside of school. These simulations can be improved by creating more realistic simulations with several patients experiencing different symptoms to better train doctors to triage and operate under pressure. By helping doctors better understand the conditions within hospitals in high-risk areas like New York, embodiment technology can also improve the efficacy of emergency treatment. This, in turn, leads to more doctors being available to address the needs of other patients. If applied effectively, virtual reality can address the shortage
What If Humans Go Extinct? By SHRIYA ANAND
stable mixtures resistant to extreme temperature and pressure, it is detrimental to the environment. On a more positive note, the eradication of humans brings to mind an increase in vegetation and wildlife. Winter snows and the lack of de-icing due to the absence of
longed to them in a relatively short time. Even during coronavirus-related lockdowns, animal invasions started to make an appearance, with animals such as mountain goats in Wales and wild boar in Barcelona roaming the streets. Of course, there are many
humans would lead to frequent cracks in the pavements and roads. These cracks would then shelter weeds and other plants. The same would happen to other infrastructures such as bridges and buildings, with vegetation eventually taking over the structures. In fact, Weisman claims that in only 500 years, streets would become forests. Just like vegetation, wildlife would claim back what once be-
variables, such as when the mass extinction occurs, the power of technology at that time, the probability of wide-scale explosions, and unforeseen climate changes, that impact what the outcome would be and how long it would take. While some outcomes may see our land full of vegetation and wildlife in 500 years, others may see the destruction of unattended human constructions such as factories,
Angel Liu / The Spectator
Think about this: Thanos snaps twice and humans disappear. What happens next? Thinking about an Earth without mankind is an intriguing question that many might have pondered but haven’t put serious thought into. Author and journalist Alan Weisman, in contrast, certainly has. Let’s start with large cities––arguably the most artificially altered land. Considering that humans are the lifeblood of cities, the lack of our species would create almost immediate change. For one, large cities like New York City and London require constant pumping to divert rainfall and rising groundwater that may seep from old rivers, through bedrock. In fact, the MTA reported that “pump rooms draw 13 million gallons of water out of the system citywide” on an average day. Days with considerable rainfall would greatly increase this already large number. Current day pumps require a fair amount of human monitoring; engineers hypothesize that subways would be completely flooded within 36 hours of our disappearance, an incredibly short time for such damage. Similarly, glitches in oil refineries and nuclear plants would go unchecked due to the lack of human oversight, which is a significant hazard of nuclear explosions
and massive fires. Regrowth of the landscape after a massive fire could take centuries, while radiation may remain for millennia. Another source of long-lasting damage to our planet would be a direct result of our ignorance to protect our environment––our excessive use of plastic and other non-biodegradable materials. We would leave mountains of waste that would persist for thousands of years, poisoning, trapping, cutting, and harming other species in numerous ways. Yet another source of waste is petroleum, which would seep into the ground at industrial sites and factories. Petroleum, however, is biodegradable. Though the process will take decades, it will eventually be reused by plants and microbes. This will be done via the process of bioremediation, through which microorganisms detoxify or remove pollutants by degrading the hydrocarbons in petroleum. The process is currently used for cleaning oil and petroleum spills in factories, but considering that it is a natural process, it does not require human assistance to initiate. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about human-made chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls, used in hydraulic fluids, heat transfer fluids, lubricants, and plasticizers. Though the use of these chemicals is economically beneficial because they are very
nuclear plants, and pumping systems. If the previously mentioned explosions on industrial plants do occur, the planet’s carbon dioxide levels would increase significantly. Though marine plants would help recover the balance of atmospheric gases, there is only so much that the ocean can do, limited by how much it can acidify itself without harming marine life. Another variable to consider is when the mass extinction of humans was to occur. There would be no mishaps with pumping systems, nuclear plants, or factories if technology and Artificial Intelligence were powerful enough to run them. If programmed bots were responsible for roaming the streets, removing weeds, and de-icing pavements, nature may not be able to overpower these human-like beings. This creates the chance that the planet would continue as it does today without the presence of humans. While these are fun hypotheticals to consider, the extinction of humanity is not likely to happen anytime soon. Rather than spend a great deal of time pondering what would happen if we were to suddenly disappear off the surface of the Earth, it’s much more worthwhile for us to devote ourselves to solving the problems of our society and to creating a better planet––for ourselves and future generations.
The Spectator ● September 10, 2020
Science Russia’s Coronavirus Vaccine: A (Turning) Point of Contention By ARTHUR LIANG and JENNY LIU Russian president Vladimir V. Putin announced that Russia had become the first country to approve a vaccine for COVID-19 on August 11. With many regions in the world ravaged by the global pandemic and researchers left scrambling to develop a vaccine, it’s easy to assume that Putin’s announcement would be met with approval; however, with a little further digging, it becomes clear the situation is just as grim, if not more than before. Sputnik V, the Russian vaccine, was developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow. According to the Associated Press, it will be administered in two doses made of two adenoviruses, which are DNA viruses discovered in adenoid tissue. Adenoids are a patch of tissue located high in the throat and behind the nasal cavity. They, along with the tonsils, trap germs coming in through the mouth and nose. The two adenoviruses used, Ad26 and Ad5, cause the common cold but have been genetically modified to carry a coronavirus gene. Thus, the cells that the modified virus infects are capable of creating proteins resembling those from the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. According to the New York Times, this development approach is similar to the one used in a vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca that is now undergoing clinical trials in Britain, Brazil and South Africa. However, modifying adenoviruses to develop vaccines is a new technology, with the first adenovirus vaccine for any disease being approved for Ebola just two months ago. It should not come as a surprise, therefore, that a COVID-19 vaccine developed with the same technology would be met with much skepticism. Furthermore, this new vac-
cine has been condemned as “beyond stupid” because Russia hasn’t completed Phase III trials of the vaccine, according to Nature. Phase I and Phase II have been completed, with the vaccine being tested on relatively small groups of people to see if it causes harm and stimulates the immune system. But while the results are promising, Phase III cannot be overlooked because it compares the vaccine to a place-
b o in tens of thousands of people and can reveal uncommon side effects that may not have shown up in the few people tested in earlier phases. Vaccines, unlike experimental drugs, are intended to be administered to masses of healthy people, not those who are sick. As such, vaccines need to be subjected to rigorous clinical trials because a rare side effect showing up even once every 10,000 people can result in thousands of complications when the vaccine is administered on a mass scale. Testing more people in Phase III provides researchers with enough data to perform cross-
examination and determine safety standards regarding who the vaccine should and shouldn’t be administered to. Currently, there’s a severe lack of data about Russia’s vaccine: aside from a little bit of information from two early-stage trials, there have been no results or studies published on Sputnik V. The lack of information makes it harder for other communities and countries to trust the validity of Russia’s announcement. Clearly, it’s not enough to say your own vaccine works. You need others to look at your vaccine and data and be convinced that it works. Moving forward, ac-
aA st cord/T he ing to the Spe ctat or TASS Rusian News Agency, Phase III testing of Russia’s vaccine is set to happen in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and other countries. Purchase requests for one billion doses have been received from 20 countries in Latin America, the Middle East, and elsewhere. If successful, the vaccine could be a geopolitical boon for Russia. The consequences of Russia’s hasty approach to the coronavirus vaccine are two-fold: the implications it has for Russia as a country and the repercussions
on the global enterprise. There are concerns that Putin’s announcement of the rushed vaccine, which was greeted with a mixture of pride and skepticism from the Russian public, is designed to improve his public image and foreign relations. Over the past year, his approval ratings have dropped: according to a poll carried out by the independent Levada Center in Russia, they went from 68 percent in January to 59 percent in April. His passive management of the pandemic may have contributed to the decline, leaving other officials without direction and hesitant to call a state of emergency. These ratings are a historic low for the political figure who has governed Russia since 1999. Putin has also stumbled in foreign affairs, with Russian troops stuck in Syria and Libya in an effort to help the Syrian Civil War. But his handling of domestic affairs has been rocky as well. According to the New York Times, he does not have a concrete plan for resolving the economic crisis, as the pandemic has flattened the prices of oil and other natural resources which fuel (pun not intended) the Russian economy. Though these reasons do not justify the dangers of Russia’s vaccine, they do shed some light as to why this vaccine may be what Putin needs for the public and global communities to restore their faith in him. The name “Sputnik V” is already an example of propaganda, reminiscent of how Russia beat the U.S. in creating the first satellite. That being said, the vaccine increases tensions and outrage among researchers and scientists.
Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, argues that “the Russians may be skipping such measures and steps....[which] worries our community of vaccine scientists. If they get it wrong, it could undermine the entire global enterprise.” Others such as Francois Balloux, a geneticist at University College London, call Russia’s decision “reckless and foolish” and “would further set back the acceptance of vaccines in the population” while giving cause to the anti-vaccine movement. It is worth noting that even without Russia’s abrupt announcement, many countries are already strained from the ongoing race to develop a successful vaccine, some of which may also be cutting corners themselves. There are more than 30 vaccines—out of a total of more than 165 under development—that are in various stages of human trials. China and the United States, with an effort called Operation Warp Speed, have both poured millions of dollars into the pursuit. According to The New York Times, Chinese companies are selectively testing their vaccines on small pools of people like employees at PetroChina, one of the biggest oil companies in the country, a strategy that deviates from the orthodox clinical trials. The FDA gave emergency approval for expanded use of blood plasma to help coronavirus patients on August 23. This was met with disapproval from officials like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, who claims that this decision comes in light of the political pressure the FDA is facing to approve drugs. This vaccine is a demonstration of the heightened urgency with which countries are approaching the pandemic and the global consequences of what can happen when it causes countries to take shortcuts. The controversy brings to attention the lack of regulations in place for vaccine approval. Whatever the results of Russia’s vaccine may be, they will come with a valuable lesson for the rest of the world.
How Humans Act as Waves (In Quantum Physics) By CHLOE TERESTCHENKO “Is it a wave or a particle?” is a simple question with a complex answer, one that can change depending on how the question is asked. If you pass a beam of light through two slits, light is a wave. But if you pass that same beam through a conducting plate of metal, it will act like a particle. This is all to say that light, also known as photons, illustrates the dual nature of reality. Even more, this phenomenon isn’t just restricted to light. We see this is in all quantum particles, such as electrons, protons, and neutrons, and even in large collections of atoms. Even human beings act like quantum waves. The debate over whether light behaves as a wave or a particle began in the 17th century with Isaac Newton and Christian Huygens, a Dutch scientist. Newton believed in the “corpuscular” theory of light: that light acts as a particle—in straight lines, refracting, reflecting, and carrying momentum just as any other kind of material would. Huygens, opposingly, believed in
the wave theory of light, which includes interference and diffraction. Interference is when two waves meet, while diffraction is when a light is spread out as a result of passing through a narrow aperture. Thomas Young noticed a
particle in a number of ways. Its energy is quantized into individual packets called photons, each containing a specific amount of energy. It is also possible to create and send individual photons through any experimental apparatus devised. When all
two things determine the wavelength: rest mass and the speed it’s moving at. There are two things you can do to coax matter particles into behaving as waves. One, reduce the mass of the particles into as small a value as possible, result-
For human beings, with about 1028 atoms present in each of us, the quantum wavelength associated with a fully formed human is large enough to have physical meaning. In most real particles, including humans, only two things determine the wavelength: rest mass and the speed it’s moving at. wavelike pattern associated with light in the 18th century. It was an alternating pattern of constructive and destructive interference. Scientists derived a form of charge-free radiation: an electromagnetic wave that travels at the speed of light. As a result, Einstein was able to devise and establish the special theory of relativity; the wave nature of light was a fundamental reality of the universe. Light behaves as a quantum
synthesized together, the most mind-bending demonstration of quantum “weirdness” of all is the result: even molecules with as many as 2,000 atoms have demonstrated to display wavelike properties. For human beings, with about 1028 atoms present in each of us, the quantum wavelength associated with a fully formed human is large enough to have physical meaning. In most real particles, including humans, only
ing in larger wavelengths, or two, reduce the speed of the particles you’re dealing with, meaning less momentum, larger wavelengths, and larger-scale quantum behaviors. This opens up to a fascinating new area of technology: atomic optics. We could use slow-moving atomic beams to observe nanoscale structures without disrupting them in the ways that high-energy photons would. As of 2020, there is an entire sub-
field of condensed matter physics devoted to ultracold atoms and the study and application of their wave behavior. One of those is atomic optics, a research field that becomes even more powerful when combined with microscopic atomoptical elements on the surface. The development of cold atoms can be used for experiments such as high-resolution spectroscopy, atom lithography, atom microscopy, atomic fountains, and cold atoms in confined space. Many technological breakthroughs have been and will continue to be laid by these scientific foundations. The closer we get to absolute zero—the lowest temperature that is theoretically possible—the more the field of atomic optics and nano-optics will advance. At this temperature, the velocity of particles slows to nearly zero, which can cause a “superposition of states.” Different momenta permit the atoms to separate spatially and then be manipulated to fly along different trajectories. And maybe, someday, we will be able to measure quantum effects for entire humans, even if little is known about it now.
The Spectator ● September 10, 2020
Arts and Entertainment The Rise of #FreeBritney
Culture By SAMIRA ESHA Britney Spears is one of very few artists with multigenerational influence. Our parents listened to her and passed along her music, which is still popular among young people today. Spears carved out a space for herself in the world of pop with her sound, iconic music videos, and performances. She brought a unique baby voice to the industry in the early 2000s that none of her peers had at the time. Since then, she has continued to release music even as recent as 2020. While her recent music hasn’t gained massive attention, her name has been trending again alongside the hashtag #FreeBritney. This recent phenomenon lies in the earlier years of Spears’s career. Spears started working at the young age of 11 and became a pop sensation five years later. Multiple reports have come out of Spears being overworked while simultaneously dealing with severe mental health issues. Spears has also had
Music By DEXTER WELLS
many extremely concerning inci- growing health issues. Spears’s fadents, the most well known being ther, alongside her team, forced when she shaved all her hair off her to take medication that she at a salon in 2007 and within the didn’t believe was necessary. After same month, physically attacked this information became public, paparazzi. After that, she was put #FreeBritney began to trend all under a conservatorship, which over social media, with fans exrestricted her from driving, vot- pressing their concerns for Spears. ing, owning a cellphone, etc. That Spears’s own mother liked comwasn’t the end of Spears’s prob- ments on Instagram that included lems concerning her mental this hashtag, further implying that health though. these circumstances may not just Spears admitted herbe rumors. Fans are convinced self into a mental health that Spears is trapped. facility at the beginning of #FreeBritney 2019 and stated on Instahas resurfaced gram that it was due to her again in the past struggling with her father’s few months health concerns. This because of turned out to be a lie. Later Spears’s social in the year, one of Spears’s media presparalegals anonymously reence. Spears’s vealed to a podcast that her Instagram father canceled her shows posts and Tikand was the one who forced Toks have conher to admit herself to a facerned fans due cility. He gave Spears the orto their unsetder to tell the public that this tling nature. On was all due to her father’s Emily Young-Squire / The Spectator her TikTok, you
can find videos of her spinning and dancing in her living room. The comments are flooded with concern and confusion, one fan even saying, “You can’t control her anymore. We’re getting her out.” Spears’s childhood friend and numerous celebrities, including Miley Cyrus, have spoken out in support as well. Nonetheless, Spears’s father and siblings continue to deny all accusations. As of now, Spears’s legal team is trying to remove her father as her conservator. Doctors believe she still needs major restrictions on her life for her own safety. Circumstances, however, have changed since Spears’s initial placement under her father’s conservatorship. Spears is an adult and should be allowed to make her own decisions as such. It seems likely that her father has been closely controlling her every move for nearly a decade now, and it has to come to an end. The judge’s approval is yet to be announced, but until then, #FreeBritney.
Yes, We Have Reached the Pinnacle of Musical Creation, and It’s Called 100 gecs.
As time passes and we progress further into the future, the media that we consume shall, of course, become less recognizable; this is inevitable. There are, however, distinct times during which we must ask ourselves if we have ventured too far into the future, past any outpost of comfort. We find ourselves at the most novel frontiers of art, of human potential. Enter 100 gecs, “musical” duo originally from St. Louis. 100 gecs consists of Laura Les and Dylan Brady, and in recent months, they have garnered much attention, though not without a mixed bag of critical opinions. Dylan Brady and Laura Les initiated their friendship at a party in 2012. The 100 gecs project began in 2015 when Brady visited Les at her college, and they produced the first track of their 2017 self-titled EP. They recorded the EP in Chicago, where they saw the cryptic words “100 gecs” spray-painted on the side of a building, and adopted it as the name of their partnership. (Presently, Les and Brady work on their music from Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively). They
Film By ROXY PERAZZO If there’s anything the world can agree on right now, it’s that quarantine’s got us down, and that’s why “Palm Springs” is the best release of the summer. A Lonely Island production (how fitting), this movie offers a new take on the classic timeloop storyline. The movie centers around Nyles (Andy Samberg), who attends a wedding near a cave, which, when ventured into, causes people to become stuck living in the same day forever. After Nyles spends an unspecified amount of days—some online conspirators suggest he’s been there for 40 years—doing essentially anything he wants, he accidentally leads Roy (J.K. Simmons) and later on, Sarah (Cristin Milioti), the maid of honor, into the cave, trapping them as well. While Roy sets out on a path of revenge directed at Nyles for leading him into the cave in the
began to receive serious critical acclaim upon the release of their debut album “1000 gecs” (2019), released in May. Additionally, they joined alternative hip-hop collective BROCKHAMPTON on tour later that year, further solidifying their place in discussions of experimental music. Their following, which is best characterized as cultish, has developed steadily over the past few years. 100 gecs is surrounded by rampant meme culture and has been embraced by TikTok, exposing even more people to their music. Their fans, who have yet to receive a definitive nickname (perhaps “gecs” or “absolute geniuses” would be appropriate), have even coined the term “geccing” to describe the act of thoroughly embracing and losing themselves in the music of 100 gecs. The pine tree on the cover of their project “1000 gecs” has been declared a landmark by the fanbase, and many fans have made a pilgrimage to its location in Des Plaines, Illinois. More recently, 100 gecs created a buzz with the July release of the remix album “1000 gecs and the Tree of Clues” (2020),
over a year after their debut. This album is absolutely star-studded, featuring names such as Charli XCX, Rico Nasty, Kero Kero Bonito, Injury Reserve, Fall Out Boy, Tommy Cash, and more. The album, which reinvents its 2019 predecessor in unique and shocking ways, was received with a mixture of sensational acclaim and bewildered criticism (from those who have yet to develop a taste for “geccing”). The 100 gecs sound is perhaps best described as being distinctly electronic and abrasive, yet full of catchy earworm melodies. Though the duo has developed their own unique style, there are certain genres apparent throughout their discography, especially on the remix album, in which other artists put their own twist on the 2019 tracks. Elements of electro-pop, bubblegum pop, hardcore, speedcore, noise music, and more are all present. These labels give a rough idea of what the 100 gecs experience is, but to box 100 gecs into an assortment of genre descriptions undermines the very experimental principles upon which the duo was founded. To enjoy 100 gecs is to embrace each stylistic choice that
they make, and to recognize that the experimentalism is the lifeblood of the music. The essence of 100 gecs is that it resists labeling; indeed, Brady and Les are that avant-garde. 100 gecs is its own sound, and anyone spending too much time trying to figure out exactly what they’re listening to is missing the point. Brady and Les certainly don’t spend much—if any—time concerning themselves with the details of their genre. Their creative process rests on one crucial goal: creating music that they enjoy. They do what feels natural—and the fans eagerly eat it up—because in the end, the primary audience that they aim to please is themselves. Whether you love their music or think it sounds like forks in a blender put through autotune, you ought to appreciate the mission. Feel free to voice your distaste, as they genuinely do not care. They’ve got a rabid following who appreciates everything that they try, and even a fan started a petition to make the “gec tree” the eighth wonder of the modern world. They aren’t stopping anytime soon. Strap in, and get geccing.
“Palm Springs”: Déjà Vu in the Best Way Possible first place, Sarah learns to roll with the punches and gets into a relationship with Nyles that becomes the focal point of the movie. “Palm Springs” sets itself apart from other movies of the genre, like “Groundhog Day” (1993) or “Happy Death Day” (2017) by flipping the script on the ideologies about the loop holding Sarah and Nyles captive. By the time Sarah unwittingly joins Nyles in the loop, he’s essentially given up on the early “Groundhog Day” Phil Connors (Bill Murray) lifestyle. Instead of using the loop for good, Nyles approaches every day with a nihilistic attitude and makes no effort to escape because in his own words, “The only way to really live in this is to embrace the fact that nothing matters.” Sarah, on the other hand, isn’t the selfless, caring foil to Nyles and showing no eagerness to help others. After one attempt, Sarah ceases to make any effort to use
the loop to do good and frequently panics, trying almost daily to escape the cycle by getting into all sorts of lethal car accidents. The thing about this approach that makes the movie so enjoyable right now is how much Nyles embodies the general feelings people have expressed toward the early months of quarantine (think March and April). Many people decided to pick up new hobbies, like baking and knitting, which have since dissipated into an acceptance of the mundaneness of quarantine, similar to Nyles’s acceptance of the time loop. Sarah’s character also resonates with viewers through her “when will this end” ideology, allowing the audience to completely relate to both characters, especially given our present circumstances. While the entire world shutting down shocked everyone, it is still slightly less crazy than being caught in a time-loop. Our days still move forward and differ;
though by sharing the same element of boredom and helplessness as Nyles and Sarah’s lives, our everyday life feels like some sort of twisted time-loop in a way. With school starting soon, it’s hard not to wonder when things will go back to normal and what life will be like when it does. That question gets brought up toward the end of “Palm Springs,” when Sarah decides that her best shot at getting out of the loop is by blowing herself up while inside the cave. Nyles hesitates to join Sarah because he seems to find comfort in his situation and doesn’t know if he really wants to go back to his normal life. Nyles’s thoughts on returning back to normal are shared by many people who are upset that they will one day be unable to wear sweatpants to work or attend class in their bedroom. And continued on page 20
Playlist It’s Over, pt. ii By THE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT DEPARTMENT In a summer like 2020, music felt especially important and uniquely intertwined with the memories we made. In this playlist, A&E gives a musical glimpse into their summer, along with a short, corresponding anecdote. Going Up the Coast Clay and Friends “Walking to Stuy on a random summer day just to have something to do.” Mexican Fender Weezer “Dancing around my room, getting dressed for Zoom calls.” the 1 Taylor Swift “Doing nothing but listening to music late at night.” There’s Still A Light in the House Valley “Beach dancing at 5 a.m. Sunday sunrise when everything’s nice.” Vanilla Twilight Owl City “Sitting in the car while the adults are packing up the picnic supplies.” Hold on We’re Going Home Drake “Driving home on a summer night.” Edge of Seventeen Stevie Nicks “I accidentally made this my alarm and never changed it, so I’ve been waking up to it for the past month, and it’s grown on me.” Truly Madly Deeply One Direction “#10YearsofOneDirection” New Girl (Tom’s Song) The Walters “Remembering to brush my teeth at 4 a.m.” And So It Goes Billy Joel “Imagining the cherry juice on my fingers as blood.” Willow Jasmine Thompson “Sitting in a near empty park at dusk.” Daylight Joji “Being alone.” Jane LAUNDRY DAY “I only see you during the summer, and that’s not nearly enough time.” WAP Cardi B / Megan Thee Stallion “Realization that female rappers go WAY harder.” Ego Death Ty Dolla $ign, FKA Twigs, Kanye West, and Skrillex “Going through DONDA withdrawals.”
The Spectator ● September 10, 2020
Arts and Entertainment “Palm Springs”: Déjà Vu in the Best Way Possible
Will all the Nyleses of the world come around like the character does at the end of the movie? In the movie version of these events, everything goes nearly seamlessly, with Nyles and Sarah making a full
continued from page 19
if going back to school is the reallife version of blowing up the cave, how different will the new normal be? Shouldn’t things change?
escape and discovering a new life together. But it’s hard to imagine our real lives returning to normal without a few bumps in the road. “Palm Springs” is definitely one of those movies we can all re-
By JULIE GRANDCHAMPDESRAUX
By LIANNE OHAYON Just as we thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse, the world of television has now been severely altered by someone we thought couldn’t hurt a fly. “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” has had a great reputation, and DeGeneres herself was seen as a great person—“Be kind to one another” is how she ends every episode. Everything seemed to be going well as the show reached 17 seasons, over 2,700 episodes, and won 61 Daytime Emmy Awards. Its wholesome reputation, however, was recently shattered. From sexual assault allegations against its executive producers to the toxic work environment its employees have exposed, the “be kind” facade that DeGeneres so expertly crafted is crumbling to reveal the behind-the-scene ugliness of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Buzzfeed News wrote a scathing article on the harmful work environment at “The Ellen Show” on July 16, 2020, citing anecdotes from one current employee and
Culture By MORRIS RASKIN To say Chicago rapper Kanye West’s career has been tumultuous would be an understatement. Bursting onto the rap scene in 2004 with his debut album “Late Registration,” West has since been an enigma as an ever-changing force and cultural phenomenon. The course of his pursuits, however, has certainly not been linear, as the multi-
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ters and the story. Who would’ve thought that a movie about a love story within a single, repeating day would be just what we needed to get through our own, less crazy time-loop?
“The Legend Of Korra”: A Worthy Successor?
Television Netflix released “Avatar: The Last Airbender” this past May. It dominated the internet in the form of memes, Tik Toks, and tweets. It held the number one spot on Netflix’s roster of most watched shows and became one of the hottest topics of discussion in pop culture. After three months, its sequel series “The Legend Of Korra” has finally been added to the streaming platform. “The Legend Of Korra” is set 70 years after the events of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and follows Korra (Janet Varney), the next avatar after Aang (D.B. Sweeney), as she struggles with her spirituality, learn to be the avatar, and fight to bring peace and balance to the world. For many, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is a childhood favorite, so “The Legend Of Korra” has a lot to live up to. Though its revival garnered a lot of unnecessary hate from old “Avatar” fans, I find it to be an incredible show with strong female characters, representation of the LGBTQ+ community, and complex villains. One of my favorite aspects of the show is how comparatively bold it is in its social and political commentary. It tackles more mature topics than its predecessor’s such as social injustice, facism,
late to, especially right now. Even without our current circumstances, the exploration of misery, love, loneliness, and ironically, togetherness are timeless and allow viewers to truly connect with the charac-
poverty, and PTSD. “The Legend of Korra” uses its villains in order to address these issues, embody political ideologies, and demonstrate their potential flaws. Each season of “The Legend Of Korra” has a unique villain. Amon (Steve Blum) represents communism as he fights for equality for non-benders—those without the ability to bend the elements—who he sees as being oppressed and exploited by benders. Zaheer (Henry Rollins) represents anarchism, preaching about overthrowing oppressive governments such as the Earth Kingdom’s monarchy. Morally ambiguous villains, who wish to free people from oppressive rule but with clearly flawed methods, are more interesting to watch than those in “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, whose motivations were much less nuanced. Another aspect of “The Legend of Korra” that shines is its thoughtful character develop-
ment—specifically Korra’s. Many people describe Korra as impulsive, stubborn, and cocky. Not only is much of this criticism somewhat sexist and hypocritical as these exact qualities were praised in male characters like Zuko (Dante Basco), but it also overlooks the more nuanced journey that Korra’s character goes on throughout the series. Korra’s is a direct foil to Aang. While Aang learned to be confident and strong, Korra learned to be humble and compassionate. The show’s more mature tone gives viewers the chance to see Korra recover from her trauma, offering a surprisingly sensitive portrayal of what could be classified as PTSD for a kid’s show. Korra’s development is less linear than Aang’s, but that makes her story much more sympathetic. Finally, “The Legend Of Korra” is one of the few shows from its time that offered representation of the LGBTQ+ community. At
the end of the show, Korra and Asami (Seychelle Gabriel) are holding hands before entering the spirit world. It was later confirmed by the show’s creators that both girls were bisexual and in a relationship, making this a small stepping stone in acheiving queer representation in television. “Korrasami” has since become a massive part of the “The Legend Of Korra” fandom and paved the way for other shows like “Adventure Time” and “Steven Universe” to include confirmed LGBTQ+ characters in the onscreen canon. The show has some amazing aspects that make it a great sequel to “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. The show was repeatedly undermined by conflict between Nickelodeon and the show’s creators. Nickelodeon poorly advertised the show, refused to show more of Korrasami onscreen, and didn’t greenlight all four seasons. Since they couldn’t decide how many seasons they wanted during the show’s creation, the writing between each of them became choppy since every season was written as the show’s last, meaning “The Legend Of Korra” couldn’t have longer, multiseason plotlines the way that its predecessor did. Other criticisms of the show are often based on a nostalgia bias. Because people miss “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” they’re quick to judge its successor. For instance, the ending of season 2 of “The
Legend Of Korra” faced a lot of criticism, as while fighting a dark spirit, Korra loses the connection all avatars have to their past lives. By losing this connection, Korra breaks the avatar cycle in which the avatars are reincarnated, causing Aang and past avatars to disappear. Watching Aang, as well as all the other previous avatars, fade away broke the hearts of millions of viewers, but it isn’t a reason to despise the entire show. While season two might be hard to love, the other seasons develop Korra’s character beautifully and tackle many important issues, appealing to people of all ages. It’s important to remember that “The Legend Of Korra” is an expansion of the original show’s universe and not a continuation of Aang’s story. It’s an entirely different show with different characters, themes, and villains. To compare the shows as if this isn’t true is to do them both a disservice. “The Legend Of Korra” is undoubtedly an outstanding sequel to “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” It’s beautifully animated, has an incredible score, and is one of the few children’s shows to represent the LGBTQ+ community on screen and subvert expectations for animated shows. It’s not hard to understand how this kids’ show has stayed so relevant after so many years, captivating millions of viewers as an amazing expansion to one of television’s greatest franchises.
The Dethroning of Ellen DeGeneres 10 former employees. A former Black female employee for a year and a half on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” recalled experiencing racism throughout her time working there: a writer told her that he only knows “the names of the white people who work here” at a party—and no co-worker came to her defense—in addition to receiving other racist remarks about her appearance. She was even called by executive producer Ed Glavin into a meeting where she was reprimanded for things we wouldn’t even expect to be in trouble for. For example, the employee asked to put an end to using the term “spirit animal” (which culturally appropriates the practice of Indigenous people), and suggested that the show implement diversity and inclusion training. These requests would have benefitted the whole workplace but unfortunately were rejected almost immediately. But this was not the first time that employees unveiled mistreatment that has occurred on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Variety
reported in April that the core stage crew of the show, which has around 30 employees, “received no written communi cation about the status of their working hours, pay, or inquiries about their mental and physical health from producers for over a month,” according to two anonymous sources. In addition to this lack of communication, the original stage crew was shocked when the show hired “an outside, non-union tech company to help DeGeneres tape remotely from her home in California.” Employees have also filed a series of sexual assault allegations against two of the show’s top executive producers and one of the co-executive producers. Buzzfeed News talked to 36 former employees who confirmed that they had faced numerous incidents of sexual harassment and assault working at the “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Executive producer Kevin Leman, for example, consistently
made sexually explicit comments and unwanted sexual advances toward his employees. Executive producer Glavin, former employees noted, “had a reputation for being handsy with women,” while coexecutive producer Jonathan Norman was accused by a former employee of grooming him with perks and proceeding to make sexual advances. All of the employees discussed how these executive producers fostered fear and intimidation throughout the Aries Ho / The Spectator w o r k p l a c e , using tactics like throwing a table down and slamming office doors as a “power move” to establish the divide between the producers and employees at “The Ellen Show.” So, what happens next? For starters, all three producers who
were accused of sexual assault have been fired from the show, despite maintaining their innocence amidst the allegations. In a written, textbook response to staff from DeGeneres regarding the allegations, the talk show host discussed how she intended to foster a happy and respectful community on her show, but “obviously, something changed, and [she is] disappointed to learn that this has not been the case.” As for the employees, they are hopeful for a kinder, less toxic workplace after the dismissal of these producers, and that this is a “step in the right direction.” As for DeGeneres’s reputation and how her show will continue in the future, those are still up in the air. Fortunately, in a year that has called for change in how people are treated in both the workplace and daily life, it seems reasonable to believe that there will be some adjustments in the way that “The Ellen Show” is run. But it is important to remember that, as DeGeneres has proven to us all these years, looks can be deceiving.
A Confusing, Dark, and Twisted Political Career talented musician has now started one of the most successful designer shoe brands to date, launched a global fashion line, produced a feature film, and contributed millions of dollars to various charities around the country. That aside, none of these pursuits are quite as infamous as the rapper’s foray into politics. Officially commencing with the announcement of his presidential candidacy
in 2015 during a speech at the Video Music Awards, West’s drawn out political career has somehow persisted to this day. The rapper has never shied away from controversial and often politicized subjects (think “Bush doesn’t care about black people” during a 2005 Hurricane Katrina relief concert) and has built up a reputation as a rapper who always speaks his mind. West’s free-spoken nature gained greater
acclaim as a Trump supporter throughout the 2016 election, during which he donned a red MAGA cap and met with the current president to discuss policy. While West’s countless rants and speeches have often worked to spark conversation across the political spectrum, they’ve gotten him into a fair amount of trouble throughout his career. The most notable instance was his comments
in 2018 about the nature of American slavery. He stated, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years […] for 400 years? That sounds like a choice.” While these comments were met with immediate backlash and criticism from celebrities including Spike Lee and will.i.am, West didn’t seem to learn his lesson, as he’s continued to make simicontinued on page 21
The Spectator ● September 10, 2020
Arts and Entertainment continued from page 20
lar remarks. West has never been an easy character to judge, however, especially considering his long standing battle with bipolar disorder, which should not be taken lightly. West’s many ups and downs have often been difficult to classify and led to a widespread disdain for the challenged rapper, partially owed to the “cancel culture” of the 21st century, though his condition is important to keep in mind when looking at his fraught history. With major buildup from the press and media, it was hardly a surprise when the outspoken celebrity officially announced his 2020 presidential run on July 4, 2020. By July 16, West’s team had filed his candi-
Music By JENNY LIU What does a musician do when free from the confines of a previously restrictive record label and stuck at home in the midst of a pandemic? If you’re Taylor Swift, you’ll drop a surprise, full-length album. It’s indie (she went from country to pop to indie? Oh man); it’s intense, but most importantly, it’s fantastic. This just might be her best project yet. “folklore” is an unprecedented album. Produced by Swift, Aaron Dessner (of The National), and Jack Antonoff in a remote collaboration, the project was recorded in isolation. Unlike her previous albums rollouts, it wasn’t preceded by any press, flashy singles, or fanfare. It was released on July 24 with less than 24 hours’ notice following a brief and abrupt announcement on Swift’s social media platforms. Swift’s eighth studio album is also unique in its darker, sadder sentiment. Because it was recorded in quarantine, the instrumentation is fairly simple with only piano and guitar, with bare-bones percussion and soft strings coming in to highlight key moments. It’s beautiful and laced with emotional depth. It’s characteristic of Swift to write extensively about her personal life, but in “folklore,” her narrative scope has broadened beyond her own reality. As she puts it aptly in her prologue, “In isolation, my imagination has run wild, and this album is the result, a collection of
Culture By IVY HALPERN Why doesn’t public art actually represent the public? Out of Central Park’s 29 statues, none of them were of real women before this August. In the park’s 167-year history, a dog managed to be honored before a woman. This may give us the false perception that women haven’t done anything heroic like all the white men on horses with a sword at hand going into war as monotonous statues. As part of a new project, three suffragists were chosen among the thousands of heroic women in history to be showcased in Central Park’s Literary Walk: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth. This decision coincides with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, for which these women made invaluable contributions. The relevance of such an anniversary is emphasized by the fact that so far during this year’s election season, we have seen the true harm of voter suppression and the importance of voting. With this new addition,
A Confusing, Dark, and Twisted Political Career dacy with the U.S. government, and Tubman never actually freed the his run was official. While, for most slaves; she just had them part, West is neither remotely qualiwork for other White fied nor prepared to be the next people”) confused and President of the United States, it’s angered people across hard to look away from the rapper’s the political speccampaign trail, filled with high protrum. This event file celebrity drama, fraud, breakdrummed up downs, and the kind of mategenuine conrial the writers for “Keeping Up cern about With the Kardashians” (2007 West’s men- 2020) have likely been dreamtal health, a ing of ever since West was infeeling only troduced into the family. bolstered afPerhaps the most notable ter a lengthy event thus far from the West tweet storm campaign was a tearful speech in which the during which the rapper stated Saadat Rafin / The Spectator rapper made various elements of his political absurd statements that seemed to platform, including his avid pro- accuse his own family members of life beliefs. His incorrect comments being white supremacists and his about Harriet Tubman (“Harriet wife Kim Kardashian of having
an affair with Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill. When you, however, step away from the flashy drama and headline worthy stunts of the campaign, it’s clear that West’s actual political platform is falling apart. As a selfproclaimed member of the “Birthday Party,” West has only technically made the ballot for less than 10 states thus far and been booted off of the ballots of five states for reasons including signature fraud and ironically, excessively late registration. As the West political campaign begins to show cracks and unravel at an accelerated rate, West’s exact political stance on key issues such as gun control and the environment remain unclear. Many theorize that the West campaign is just a device to take
votes away from Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, as the rapper has seemingly gained votes from many Black and Hispanic voters, who have historically voted liberally. Whether West’s candidacy is a political tool, an ego-boosting phase in his career, or a genuine attempt to better this country in a way only “Ye can understand,” it is certainly sparking a discussion about the merits of a strictly two party system in our nation, while also possibly being detrimental to the Democratic party in the long run. What remains important throughout is that West stays mentally well and able to receive the proper care for the dramatic highs and lows of his disorder. It also wouldn’t kill him to drop an album on time.
Folklore: Storytime with Taylor Swift songs and stories that flowed like a stream of consciousness. Picking up a pen was my way of escaping into fantasy, history, and memory.” Swift writes of imaginary characters, rooted in fiction but explored through her image-saturated lyrics. She crafts the storytelling of “folklore” through thematic arcs, such as the teenage love triangle present in tracks “cardigan,” “betty,” and “august.” “cardigan” is written from the perspective of Betty, who looks back on an intense relationship from her youth that ended badly when her ex, James, cheated on her with another girl. “august” tells the story of James’s paramour in a hazy fashion, as she recalls the short-lived infatuation with bittersweet latesummer imagery: “August sipped away like a bottle of wine / ‘Cause you were never mine.” Notice the slight homonym with “slipped” and “sipped” that makes the verse that much more powerful. Finally we reach James himself on “betty.” The track is very reminiscent of “Taylor Swift” (2006) and “Fearless” (2008), Swift’s debut and sophomore albums, in which the backdrop consists of high school dances and the-boy-next-door vibes (with the nostalgia-ridden harmonica accompanying the simple guitar melodies). “betty” does a great job of juxtaposing the immaturity and frustrations that come with experiencing a first love: “Slept next to her, but / I dreamt of you all summer long / I’m only
seventeen, I don’t know anything / But I know I miss you.” One of the most compelling things about her as a person and artist is her narrative songwriting abilities, abilities she’s sharpened throughout her entire musical career as a writer/co-writer on all
goes the maddest woman this town has ever seen.” It’s probably not a coincidence it references another lyric on “Daylight” from “Lover” (2019): “Maybe I’ve stormed out of every room in this town.” She’s notorious for speaking of her dating life, such as her past relation-
of her songs. As a result, there are easter eggs hidden among the lyrics that make her songs all the more dynamic. On “the last great american dynasty,” Swift sings: “There
ship with Joe Jonas in 2008. She mentions him on “Forever and Always” and most recently, on “invisible string”: “Cold was the steel of my axe to grind / For the boys
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who broke my heart / Now I send their babies presents.” Jonas and his wife, Sophie Jonas, welcomed their first child, Willa, in July. This new album highlights how far Swift has come. Earlier projects like “Speak Now” (2010) have a childlike, romanticized innocence. In later albums including “Reputation” (2017), Swift tries to break the mold by re-inventing herself in creative ways. “Lover” is warmer and carefree, but “folklore” sounds like the musical equivalent of calm mornings in a grassy field with morning dew after a long storm: ruminative, nostalgic, and serene. It’s mature and fitting for this juncture of Swift’s career, with the pandemic bringing an opportunity for her to reflect on her journey. As she says in “this is me trying”: “I’ve been having a hard time adjusting / I had the shiniest wheels, now they’re rusting / I didn’t know if you’d care if I came back / I have a lot of regrets about that.” It seems appropriate that “folklore” came as it did—almost deliberately too. Swift harnesses the zeitgeist and incorporates it into her music. The darker tones and yearning feel of “folklore” embody the type of wistfulness we are all feeling as we cope with the adjustments of everyday life in these tough times. It seems that Swift is making reckonings with her life and the lives of others in her imagination. Maybe “folklore” signals to us to make reckonings with ours.
First Women’s Monument Arrives in Central Park we can now appreciate, more than broke all social and political norms ever, the struggle of the suffragists to get their vote, the fight is far to claim this constitutional right. from over. This single monument Monumental Women is an all- in Central Park is a prime example, volunteer, not-for-profit organi- as it took seven years to simply zation responsible for the statue. put up. During this process, they Though it was founded in order altered the model of the statue to fund this specific statue, it aims many times, including just a year to have a women’s history ago, to include Sojourner trail all through New York Truth, who will be the City and initiate the first black person discreation of female played in all of monuments all Central Park. over the country Though we still after realizing the have a long way lack of female repto go to make resentation in monFeminism truly uments. President intersectional, Pam Elam said, the inclusion “The fact that of Truth in nobody, for a Central Park is long time, even a small step tonoticed that ward that goal. women were Reg ardmissing in less of Central the proChristina Jiang / The Spectator Park—what fuse racdoes that say about the invisibility ism at the time, all three women of women?” worked together at certain points Though Stanton, Anthony, to achieve their goals, something and Truth fought fiercely and the sculptor, Meredith Bergmann,
wanted to portray in the statue. Bergmann stated she wanted to show “women working together.” She conducted extensive research to ensure the historical accuracy of these figures, which is evident in the hidden messages of the statue, like the sunflowers on Stanton’s dress, representing the pseudonym she used as a suffragist writer in order to avoid family disapproval: “Sunflower.” Bergmann’s 14-foot tall masterpiece is meant to show off all three of the suffragists’ personalities. To achieve this effect, Bergmann sculpted their faces by referencing a combination of many different photographs of the women. She wanted to capture their personalities, not just a single moment in their lives. When walking by the statue in Central Park, the huge statue of women who seem to be engaging in a conversation, not stiffly posing like the other statues around them, stand out. The monument was unveiled on the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, August 26. At the unveiling, luminaries such as former Secre-
tary Hillary Clinton spoke about the importance of the statue and the day of its presentation: Women’s Equality Day. Monumental Women is now determined to have this monument be a turning point in the history of public arts. Elam said, “For the people who might think ‘OK, you’ve broken the bronze ceiling; good for you; now your work is done’—no, absolutely not; we are here to stay.” While the suffragists pioneered the fight for women’s rights in America, today Monumental Women is pioneering female representation in public arts, and this monument in Central Park is a great start. With everything negative happening in 2020, this statue is a beacon of hope, which will hopefully change the future of public arts not only in New York City, but also the United States. Apart from the trend of taking down statues of slave-owning Confederate “heroes,” we have finally begun to realize that it is just as important to put up new ones of real heroes, like the suffragists of Central Park.
The Spectator ● September 10, 2020
Humor These articles are works of fiction. All quotes are libel and slander.
By KRISTA PROTEASA “Alas,” you ask yourself out of the blue. “What is the date?” You don’t know. In fact, you haven’t known for what might be years (but was only probably days). I don’t blame you; I’ve been living the same Friday for the past five months. Welcome to today, I guess. You came here because in your quest to finally experience a new day, you have found that you can’t. Fear not, for I have the solution you’ve been looking for (terms and conditions may apply). If you were, say, seven years old, you might have exploded out of boredom by now. Today, though, you have (though potentially not for too much longer) your dear friend TikTok to give you mindless occupation for hours on end, unlike your seven-year-old self. Riddle me this: how many times have you watched the same TikTok of the same 15-year-old boy whose curly hair is his only distinguishable personality trait? Countless times. I can almost guarantee it. Let’s spice up your daily routine with some help from
There Are 104 Days of Summer Vacation: Only Phineas and Ferb Know What to Do the experts themselves: Phineas and Ferb. I found it only necessary that I consult these renowned specialists before handing out unsolicited life advice. When I asked Phineas and Ferb where they get all their ideas from, Phineas told me, “I don’t know man, I mean, sitting under the tree in our backyard gets so boring that the first thing that walks in front of us gives us, like, 800 ideas! We also like to solve our friends’ problems whenever they need help.” How wholesome :”). Take notes. Everything they say will be on the test next week. Phineas and Ferb were in your exact shoes before they discovered the riveting activity of breaking volumes of laws in the name of entertainment. They built a rocket, discovered a mummy, and found Frankenstein’s brain all within the 20-second-long theme song. That’s pretty impressive, wouldn’t
you say? Do you wish you could climb the Eiffel Tower or give a monkey a shower? I bet you do. The point is, in order to truly have some fun, simply ignore every rule you’ve ever known. Do you think you’re too young to buy 50-footlong steel beams? Think again. Do you think your mom will ground
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you for building an entire rollercoaster in the backyard? Think again. Do you think there will be any repercussions whatsoever
for anything you do? My friend, THINK AGAIN! The only reason you’re not having fun is that you’ve limited your methods of entertainment to “legal” things. You’re looking at it all wrong. Phineas and Ferb have clearly taught us that this “legality” concept is a social construct designed to leave you in a puddle of your own boredom. Surely you’d rather build an entire theme park in less than a day than text the friend simulator program you found online. Fine, I’ll be real for a second. Let’s say your mom locked you in the basement for accidentally dismantling her car for parts. In that case, all you need to do is accidentally reassemble her car back together :). This isn’t something you do consciously; it just happens. You also shouldn’t get too caught up in the concept of “continuity” when taking advice from Phineas and Ferb. In case you don’t believe any-
thing I’ve said thus far, take it from Phineas and Ferb themselves. I asked them both how they get away with everything they do. “To be honest with ya, I don’t even know. It kinda just happens, I guess,” Phineas told me. Ferb nodded and blinked several times. I then asked Phineas how they get all the supplies for their elaborate construction endeavors. He told me, once again, “I don’t know.” What does he know? The world may never know. Pun intended. In summary, you’re bored because you have low standards for fun. You find swiping a screen “fun.” Pathetic. Unearth fossils. Build a corporation from scratch on public property. Turn all your friends into a different species. The possibilities are endless once you let go of the useless concept of the “law.” I just gave you everything you need to go out there and excite your life. You’re welcome. (Also, if anyone claiming to be a cop asks if you know me, I’m telling you I had nothing to do with you trying to turn your septic tank into a swimming pool.)
Humor Department’s Leaked Memo Reveals Cult-Like Plans
By JASMINE WANG
The following is a leaked memo sent from Humor editor Oliver Stewart to co-editors Chrisabella Javier and Kelly Yip, retrieved by the age-old method of guessing passwords. It turns out that Stewart was not clever enough to encode his documents with anything more developed than “IMISSVICT0RKU4NG.” (Stewart, if you’re reading this, I know your secrets.) To the reader: I recommend you mentally prepare yourself before diving into the deep, dark mysteries of what really goes on behind the scenes, as leaked here. Hey, what’s up guys? It’s ya boy Oily Stork. So… It’s almost September, which means we get a batch of fresh meat, er, freshmen to work with. As you can tell by this figure, ever since the Class of 2022 entered Stuy, our reported laughs have gone
By AARON WANG and KELLY YIP
down by 69 percent (the attached figure was a deepfake of Eric Contreras singing). This is simply unacceptable. So what are we going to do, fellow editors? Fear not, for I have the answer. In a previous email, Chrisabella recommended we actually start looking for good content. To that, I say nay! We are above that. Interesting content has never been a part of the Humor Department and never will be. Why start now? Let’s just drag out the never-ending quarantine jokes. Maybe for spice, we can just throw in some generic absurd fake news, and hey, making fun of Talos never goes out of style (sorry, Rodda John). And if we’re really desperate, the fuwwy uwu humor never misses, right? I can’t believe I just said the words “fuwwy” and “uwu.” I am… really repulsed actually. Kelly, are you reading this? You did this to me. I was wrong. We do need new
content, but it can’t be good. What find what makes them funny bewe really need is some fresh blood, fore we go out of style entirely. It both literally and metaphorically. doesn’t have to be good content. It We need to grab these fresh-out-of- just has to be humorous. middle school youngsters and drain Anyway, you think I’m joking, their heads of anything funny faster but I’m not. Why do you think the than you can say “OK, boomer.” Stuyvesant building is so hard to That’s how we’ll navigate? Because for every student increase our reader that makes it past our lord and savbase. God, I can’t ior Brian Moran, another doesn’t. believe I just referA n d they come to us. With enced an old meme. the new principal, I would really apprethings couldn’t ciate it if we all forget be easier. He’ll I said that. Please don’t be expecting to use this against me. I’m see a bunch of qualified, I promise. The “educated” and “thoughtthing is, freshmen need ful” people. Little does simple absurdity. After all, tor he know… some of the ta ec Sp that is the essence of mid- Ivy Jiang / The writers in this departdle school humor nowadays. ment haven’t aged a day since eighth They can’t comprehend MyTalos, grade, and that’s what we’ll capitallet alone the jokes about it. I hear ize on. Principal Yu will be taken sticks are in fashion now. Stickbugs, aback by our sheer immaturity. It’s stickmen… So what about sticks foolproof! We’ll slip right under his makes these kids tick? We need to nose, just like we did with Contre-
simulated escalators don’t work. In my opinion, the artificial gum and pen marks on the desks in History teacher David Hanna’s room truly gives the simulated Stuyvesant building an authentic feel.” Students will also be able to choose from a variety of premade avatars, including one that closely resembles Assistant Principal of Security/Health and Physical Education Brian Moran, to better express themselves in online interactions. Furthermore, Yu noted, “Students proficient in Blender will also be able to use models they make themselves. This ability not only eliminates the issue with body image that’s been amplified by the sedentary quarantine life but also means that those who would prefer to attend school as Hatsune Miku or buff Pikachu are fully able to do so.” When questioned about the immense cost of such a project, Yu informed meeting attendees that Stuyvesant will be providing all freshmen with a VR headset, proper body tracking equipment, and a stair treadmill. He declined to elaborate on where the funding for the technology would come from, but an anonymous Ms. Shamazov told the Humor department that the administration had stolen and sold all the pianos. When presented with this information, Yu replied, “Uhh, that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. The money is from somewhere else. Can we move
detected by Moran, who promptly disconnected him. When questioned about the existence of the 11th floor pool, Moran refused to give a straightforward answer and quickly changed the subject: “Who decided to add this floor? It’s not like it’s real or anything!” In addition, many of the custom student avatars were stuck in a T-pose and lacked walking animations. Instead, their avatar would eerily levitate with arms outstretched at its sides. Mykolyk commented in an interview after the demo class that “It’s fairly difficult to recognize who’s who here. All I see are a bunch of anime cat girls and Ugandan Knuckles avatars. To be fair, though, they’re cool as heck. I’m enjoying my Hatsune Miku avatar. Just call me Hatsune Mikolyk.” Despite the unprecedented issues, Yu intends to work hard with the VRChat team to minimize bugs and to ensure that SSP is ready to launch for late September: “I’ve invested far too much time (and stolen piano money) into this project to turn back now.” “Finishing the project on time is especially important because I’m almost done with my custom avatar. Frankly, I’m quite impressed with myself. My avatar is, as the kids today like to say, ‘hella lit.’” If all goes successfully for the incoming freshmen, Principal Yu plans to expand SSP to the rest of the student body.
The Stuyvesant Simulation Project
to kick off the program by selecting a single grade for a trial run, the freshmen. “Freshman year,” With the current state of the Yu explained, “was definitely one pandemic, it is no surprise that many of the most impactful, memorable, Stuyvesant students have chosen to and traumatizing years of my life. I go fully remote through November. don’t think anything could ever reHowever, a fully remote classroom place that.” does inconvenience both students “I don’t think there’s anything and instructors in several ways. that could ever replace the shame During an exclusive Student Lead- of my football team hazing. Oreos ership Team (SLT) meeting held last in the butt cheeks? I couldn’t get Monday (attended clandestinely by the crumbs out for days. What a several undercover Humor corre- memory,” student representative spondents), Principal Seung Yu be- Freddie Backfield added. Thus, SSP gan by expressing his concerns for aims to put special focus on acthe approaching school year: commodating the incom“Students won’t be able to ing freshmen this year so interact with their peers nor as to give them a bona will they be able to enjoy the fide experience of amenities that Stuyvesant Stuyvesant. has to offer. Teachers will The project no doubt have a harder will be in collabtime keeping their stuoration with the dents on task especially acclaimed virwith the abundance tual reality mulof household distractiplayer game, tions present.” As a VRChat. “With solution to this issue, SSP,” Yu stated, Yu unveiled his plan “all freshmen The Stuyvesant Simuwill be able to Ismath Maksura / The Spectator lation Project (SSP) as experience the “the most innovative sobeauty of the Stuyveslution to date in regards to achiev- ant building. The simulated world ing a smooth transition for all high was created by a team of technoschool students during these uncer- logically competent drafting stutain times.” dents, and I believe that they have However, with a project as large truly captured the essence of Stuy of a scale as SSP, changes will have with their design. There’s trash all to be made in small steps. Yu plans over the virtual half floor and the
on? Please? I’m not hiding anything. I promise.” The SLT meeting ended with a live demonstration of SSP’s capabilities, where all meeting attendees (including the aforementioned undercover Humor correspondents) were invited to attend SSP’s demo class. The simulated classroom was hosted by computer science teacher Topher Mykolyk. As per Mykolyk’s plan, attendees were placed in the simulated computer lab with the same lesson plan and Do Now activity that Mykolyk traditionally assigns on the first day of classes to his students: students were instructed to “look up yonder Hudson and ponder life’s big questions” by the window overseeing the Hudson River in his classroom. However, it seemed that there were still several bugs in the system. The crotches of student avatars frequently became dislocated and flipped upside down. When looking over yonder, a fellow student demo participant, by the name of Lisa Simpson, quickly became frustrated, saying “Sorry, Mr. Mykolyk. The river isn’t really loading for me. I think I gotta change my render distance.” Even more peculiar, rising sophomore Timothy Yang managed to glitch into the 11th floor pool by leaning too close to the window. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to see enough to provide substantial responses to our interviewers because the glitch was quickly
As my fellow editors, you deserve to know this amazing plan. Victor Kuang (may he rest in peace) knew nothing. I was the true mastermind all along. We need the brains of the Class of 2024, and we need them now, before the Humor section gets moved behind Sports. The humiliation! Make no mistake. When I say brains, I mean brains. Get into their homes. Befriend their parents. Steal their pets. Do anything you need to do to get these youngsters reading our articles. Take their actual brains if you have to. Drain their blood. If you’re caught, call it a… team bonding activity. Principal Yu will suspect nothing. And don’t be afraid to tell the other writers. God knows some of them are more than willing to kill for us. For the Humor department. Over and out. —Oily Stork”
The Spectator ● September 10, 2020
Sports Sports Editorial
A Treble in a Trembling Europe By MATT MELUCCI Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar, runners-up medal hanging from his neck, walked past the UEFA Champions League (UCL) trophy in despair. Neymar couldn’t hold back from touching the trophy as he lined up, brought to tears, with the rest of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) to watch Bayern captain Manuel Neuer lift up the trophy with his victorious squad. After a grueling season of uncertainty, Les Parisiens failed to clinch the win in the UCL final against FC Bayern, which would’ve given them their first European Champion Clubs’ Cup. After a five-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UCL resumed its Round of 16 fixtures on August 7, 2020 with several adjustments. Though quarterfinal and semifinal matches in the UCL typically involve two legs, the league adapted to the late schedule and decided on making the quarterfinals and semifinals onematch knockout games, creating a
mini-tournament for the remaining teams at the beginning of August. The UCL matches in August were played in empty stadiums, removing the influential homefield advantage usually found in the final UCL stages, and players were required to wear masks on the bench. Stadiums were filled with deserted seats and no virtual fans, with crowd noises played through the broadcast instead of in the stadium. Rather than being held at Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul as planned, the UCL Final was held in Lisbon, Portugal at the empty Estádio da Luz, home of S.L. Benfica. Bayern faced grand changes even before the pandemic began. During the Bundesliga season, after an embarrassing 5-1 defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt in November 2019, Bayern fired their former head coach Niko Kovac, replacing him with thenassistant coach Hansi Flick as interim manager. Perhaps fired up by its slump, Bayern’s squad trained hard in their winter camp
in January, ready to compete at full force. In a surprising turnaround, Bayern restored its glory, as it has now gone undefeated for 30 matches. Continuing its win streak in the Round of 16, Bayern shut down Chelsea with an aggregate score of 7-1, dominating the second leg as they did the first five months earlier. Bayern then gained notoriety after it proceeded to demolish F.C. Barcelona in the quarterfinals with a final score of 8-2. Ready for anything, Bayern cruised by with a 3-0 win over Olympique Lyonnais, a French squad that finished seventh in Ligue 1 yet reached the UCL semi finals. Bayern’s final victory against PSG was its 11th consecutive win in the competition, setting the record for the longest consecutive winning streak in UCL history. Bayern won the Bundesliga title, the German League, and the UCL final, finishing their second European treble (in which a club wins its league title, main national cup, and main European trophy within
the same season) in history, their last one being in 2013. PSG made one of the best UCL campaigns in its history this year. It qualified for the semifinals for the first time in 25 years and made it to the final for the first time in the club’s history. The squad beat Borussia Dortmund in the Round of 16 by an aggregate score of 3-2, eliminating Norwegian star Haaland and his crew. PSG then fought in a close quarterfinal match against Atalanta B.C. and squeezed into the semifinals with two last-minute goals by Marquinhos and Choupo-Moting, overcoming Atalanta 2-1. After breezing by RB Leipzig with a 3-0 win in the semifinals to reach its first ever final, PSG faced the German undefeated superclub, Bayern Munich. Les Parisiens have spent large sums of money bringing top players to their squad in recent years, including 21-yearold sensation Kylian Mbappé and Brazilian superstar Neymar in 2017. These two players, along with Ángel Di María, form a fear-
some front three, one that has brought PSG to new heights. Fans and experts alike expected a high-scoring, exciting final prior to the match on August 23. Bayern’s offense seemed unstoppable with record-setting Robert Lewandowski, who has been deemed one of the best strikers in the world, leading the way. Bayern’s offense seemed unstoppable with record-setting Robert Lewandowski, who has been deemed one of the best strikers in the world, leading the way. Not only did Lewandowski end the UCL as the top goal-scorer with 15 goals, but he also scored an astonishing 55 goals for Bayern Munich, 16 more goals than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues. PSG’s quick and deadly front three, on the other hand, seemed to pose a potential problem for Bayern’s back line, which primarily relied on beating attackers with speed. continued on page 25
How the Giants Fall
By TAEE CHI 2020’s NBA playoffs might be the craziest we’ve seen yet. With no in-person fans cheering in the stands, no teams traveling from city to city for games, and most importantly, no home-court advantage, the unorthodox structure of this year’s postseason is nothing like we’ve ever seen before. Despite all these changes, one exciting element of playoff basketball remains: upsets. This volatility of the playoffs was evident from the very beginning of this year’s postseason, as the eighth-seeded Magic and Blazers both took down their top-seeded opponents, the Bucks and the Lakers, respectively, in game one of their first round series. This was just the second time in NBA history that both bottom seeds beat their top-seeded adversaries in game one, reminding fans of the thrilling unpredictability the playoffs offer. We may be in store for some unexpected results this year, so before any more brackets get busted, let’s look back at some of the greatest playoff upsets in recent NBA history.
Warriors (8) beat Mavericks (1)
Grizzlies (8) beat Spurs (1)
Entering the playoffs with a regular season record of 67-15, the 2007 Dallas Mavericks, led by league MVP Dirk Nowitzki, had their sights on winning the NBA championship. It would have been a perfect redemption story for the Mavericks, who were coming off of a crushing finals defeat to the Miami Heat the previous year. Facing them in the first round were the “We Believe” Golden State Warriors led by point guard Baron Davis, small forward Stephen Jackson, and shooting guard Jason Richardson. Despite the Warriors’ unique playing style that flustered the Mavericks during all three of their regular season matchups, the experienced Dallas team was still the heavy favorite entering the series. Much to everyone’s surprise, the Warriors dominated game one, shocking the Mavs in a 97-85 victory. The game one result proved to be no fluke, and throughout the series, Dallas had no answer to Golden State’s talented trio, as Davis, Jackson, and Richardson averaged a whopping total of 67 combined points per game. In contrast, Nowitzki scored below 20 points per game on under 40 percent shooting from the field, a noticeable dropoff from the MVP numbers he put up in the regular season. With their star player underperforming, the Mavericks struggled to gain any real momentum, and the Warriors moved onto the second round after a blowout in game six that displayed Golden State’s grit and championship mentality.
Heading into the 2011 playoffs, all eyes were on the new look Miami Heat and its big three: small forward LeBron James, shooting guard Dwyane Wade, and power forward Chris Bosh. Deemed a superteam, the Heat were the clear title favorite, and it was widely believed that only a few other teams in the league had the skill, tenacity, and experience necessary to beat the “Heatles.” Among these contenders were the San Antonio Spurs, a veteran squad boasting their own big three of power forward Tim Duncan, shooting guard Manu Ginóbili, and point guard Tony Parker. As the top seed in the West, the Spurs were expected to reach the NBA finals. However, they fell far short of their expectations, falling to the eighth seeded Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. The Grizzlies, at the time, hadn’t won a postseason game in franchise history and were making their first playoff appearance in half a decade. Needless to say, many viewed the first round matchup as nothing more than a stepping stone for the Spurs. However, the Grizzlies proved more than capable of keeping up with San Antonio, winning game one by three points and eventually going on to convincingly win the series in a shocking 4-2 upset. Memphis big men Marc Gasol and Zack Randolph were crucial to Memphis’s success, as Gasol averaged a double double and Randolph put up an impressive 21.5 points and 9.2 rebounds throughout the series. This playoff series went down in history as one of the greatest upsets the NBA has ever seen, as not only was it an eight seed over one seed upset, but also a relatively new franchise toppling one of the most established and successful teams in league history.
Pistons (3) beat Lakers (2)
Nuggets (8) beat Supersonics (1)
Cavaliers (2) beat Warriors (1)
A team of superstars versus a team of role players. This matchup is how many fans and analysts viewed the 2004 NBA finals, which showcased a clash between two teams of starkly contrasting styles. From the West were the Los Angeles Lakers, a talented squad led by legendary duo Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, along with legendary veterans Gary Payton and Karl Malone. The Eastern Conference champions were the Detroit Pistons, a defensiveminded team with a core of Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace, and Rasheed Wallace. Though the Pistons had a solid lineup, it consisted mainly of inexperienced players and journeymen, and many thought that Detroit lacked the offensive firepower necessary to beat L.A. However, it turns out that the Lakers would be the ones to struggle on offense, as the Pistons outscored L.A by a total of 45 points over their five game series. On defense, Detroit limited L.A’s role players and guarded Bryant and O’Neal straight up, refusing to double-team. As a result, the rest of the Lakers roster totaled for a substandard 32.6 points per game. With their lack of depth exposed, the Lakers relied heavily on their superstar duo to carry the load of the offense. On the other hand, the Pistons utilized a balanced offense and brought the city of Detroit their third championship in franchise history.
During the three year span from 1991 to 1993, the Chicago Bulls, anchored by Michael Jordan, had dominated the NBA, winning three straight championships and vanquishing any hope other teams had of winning a title. So when Jordan shockingly announced his (first) retirement after the ’93 NBA season, teams around the league finally saw an opportunity to replace the Jordan-era Bulls at the top of the NBA pecking order and win a ring. The Seattle Supersonics, led by future Hall-of-Famer Gary Payton and All-Star Shawn Kemp, appeared to be the new top dogs, as they finished with the best regular season record in the league at 63-19. Dubbed the favorites for the title, the Supersonics entered the first round of the playoffs with overflowing confidence, certain that they were the best team in the NBA. For the first two games of round one, it seemed that way, as the Sonics coasted past the eighth-seeded Denver Nuggets, winning by double-digits in both matches. When the series shifted over to Denver for game three, everyone expected the Sonics to easily take care of business on the road. But the third game told a vastly different story—a story in which the Nuggets would come back in a valiant team effort to blow out the Sonics at home. Their momentum would carry into game four, where in an overtime thriller, Denver would come out on top, as power forward LaPhonso Ellis posted an impressive 27-point, 17-rebound doubledouble. In game five, which also went into overtime, Nuggets big men Bison Dele and Dikembe Mutombo finished the job, contributing an impressive total of 25 points, 34 rebounds, and 9 blocks. The Nuggets’ defense played a vital role in their victory, as Denver clamped the Sonics to under 100 points in every game except game one. It was the first time an eight seed beat a one seed in NBA history, and the Nuggets’ joy was exemplified by Mutombo, as he secured the final rebound and rolled on the floor crying in one of the most iconic NBA photos ever taken.
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the 2016 NBA finals, which saw the top-seeded Golden State Warriors fall to the underdog Cleveland Cavaliers in one of the greatest sports series in history. There was no expectation for Cleveland to pull off the win over Golden State. Not at the end of the regular season, when the Warriors broke the ‘96 Bulls record with 73 regular season game wins. Not after game four, when the Warriors dismantled the Cavs and won by doubledigits on Cleveland’s territory. And certainly not when the series shifted over to Golden State for game five, the Warriors with all the momentum. Never before in history had any team come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA finals. The only question on the minds of NBA fans was how long it would take for the Cavs to accept their fate. All Golden State had to do was win one of the four remaining games to claim the Larry O’Brien trophy, a picture-perfect ending to their historic season. Despite all the odds stacked against them, the Cavs managed to avoid elimination in game five, as James and Irving combined for 82 points. The series then turned back to Cleveland for game six, where, yet again, James showed up under immense pressure, scoring 41 points and forcing a game seven. In game seven, on the biggest stage in franchise history, the Cavs defeated the Warriors 93-89. James was crowned the Finals MVP, and cemented his legacy as one of the greats. After the game, he said, “I came back for a reason. I came back to bring a championship to our city.”
The upsets examined above are just the tip of the iceberg. Ever since the National Basketball Association was founded in 1946, the league has seen countless scenarios similar to the five examined above. The erratic nature of the NBA is why bettors are willing to risk money to wager on the outcome of a game or series and why hopeful supporters still cheer for their favorite team, even in games where they stand little chance of winning. Most importantly, it’s what keeps fans captivated at the edge of their seats. After all, what fun is there in watching a basketball game if you already know the results?
The Spectator ● September 10, 2020
Sports Sports Editorial
A Poll From The Spectator Sports Department: The Bubble Bracket By ETHAN KIRSCHNER
Jokic has looked turnover prone, and the Nuggets have no answer for Donavan Mitchell on the defense. Mitchell is averaging 35.7 points thus far in the playoffs. This includes a 57-point scoring outburst. The Nuggets definitely have the talent to win the series, but Will Barton is a huge loss for the Nuggets on both sides of the ball. He shoots the ball well from three and was supposed to be the man guarding Mitchell. Due to his knee injury, Barton left the bubble, decreasing the Nuggets’ chances of winning the series. Nonetheless, the Joker has the capabilities to carry the Nuggets into round two.
After a five-month layoff, the NBA Playoffs are in full swing— pandemic style. The bubble in Orlando has created an ideal atmosphere for sports during the pandemic. Thus far, the bubble has provided some historic performances, signature moments, and breakout stars. As the playoffs began, The Spectator Sports Department took on the tall task of trying to fill out the perfect playoff bracket. Here are the results:
Lakers over Trail Blazers The Trail Blazers are the very definition of a fun team. They always try to push the pace and, being an eight seed, are playing with nothing to lose. With elite scorers Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, the Blazers are definitely no pushovers. Carmelo Anthony has revitalized his career and has complemented the star backcourt for the Blazer beautifully. That being said, the talent gap will be too much to handle for Portland. The Lakers have two top 10 players, and LeBron James has the most playoff experience of any active player. If James loses in the first round with Anthony Davis, the GOAT debate is settled. Rockets over Thunder Steven Adams is a beast of a man at seven feet and is the strongest player in the NBA, according to his former coach Scott Brooks and teammate Jerami Grant. With the Rockets starting 6’ 5” PJ Tucker at center, Adams has the capability to take over games. However, Adams’s post up game is still raw, and he is better suited in the pick and roll game which is easily defended by the Rockets overall team speed. Adams will make his mark in the rebounding column. But, still, the Rockets will take a record number of threes. The Rockets’ threes will outsource the Thunder’s twos. Nuggets over Jazz The Nuggets are unexpectedly down 2-1 after three games. Nikola
and Kyrie Irving in action. For now, though, Caris Levert and Jarrett Allen will not be able to lift this team over the defending champs. Raps in four.
Heat over Pacers Jimmy Butler has revitalized the entire Miami Heat franchise. They look hungry, they play hard, and they can shoot. Duncan Robinson, a former division III player, has added another dimension to the Heat’s offense. The Pacers are good defensively, but even they can’t handle the dynamic duo of Butler and athletic big man Bam Adebayo.
Lakers over Rockets The Rockets have no answer defensively for the power duo of Davis and James. In addition, James Harden has consistently fallen short in the playoffs and is not in peak shooting form. Russell Westbrook is coming off a quad strain and will not be 100 percent. The unusual roster construction of the Rockets with no center will finally catch up to them. The Lakers advance to the conference finals.
Clippers over Nuggets The Nuggets are having a massive struggle to make it out of round one. But no matter who takes the Nuggets-Jazz series, neither team has any answer for Leonard or George on defense. The Clippers depth will play a big role in controlling the series. The LA teams meet for a showdown in the conference finals.
Sophie Poget / The Spectator
Antetokounmpo, and he will lead them into the Eastern Conference Semifinals. If Milwaukee wants to get a shot at a championship, they will need Khris Middleton to return to his regular season form. Bucks in five.
Clippers over Mavs Luka Doncic set the record for most points through any player’s first two playoff games. Nevertheless, the depth of the Clippers, coupled with the dynamic duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, will be too much to handle defensively for the Mavs. If the Clips want to make a deep run, however, George must get out of his shooting slump.
The Heat will win comfortably, our first series upset. Celtics over Sixers It’s time for another rebuild in Philly. The chemistry between Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Joel Embiid is virtually nonexistent. They have veterans who are overpaid, and the money they are spending does not fit the current trajectory of the team. The Celtics have too many scorers and too much depth to be stopped by the Sixers. Celtics in four.
Bucks over Magic The Magic shockingly took game one despite being blown out by an average of 17 points during their regular season matchups against the Bucks. Since the first game, however, the order of power has been restored as the Bucks have won three straight. The Magic have had no answer for Giannis
Raptors over Nets The Nets roster is full of newly signed free agents who were thrust into the playoffs due to the opt out of several of the Nets key players. Next year, the Nets are title contenders with stars Kevin Durant
Bucks over Heat This series might be more interesting than many people originally thought. Butler is actually a competitive matchup for Antetokounmpo (though it’s debatable whether there’s anyone in the NBA that is), but the combination of Middleton and Antetokounmpo will be too much to handle. The Heat won’t go down without making things interesting. But, the Heat do not have the one-on-one scorers to challenge the Bucks defense. The Heat are very gritty and will make the series competitive. Bucks advance to the conference finals for the second consecutive year. Raptors over Celtics The Celtics might be better on paper, but no one plays better as a unit than the Raptors. Pascal Siakam will cement his star status in this series, and the Celtics interior defense will be exposed by the Raptors’ strong group of guards
led by Kyle Lowry. A rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals comes to fruition this year as well. Conference Finals: Clippers over Lakers This is the series that NBA fans have dreamed of. The two most talented teams in the same city are going head-to-head for a spot in the finals. It’s a shame this series can’t be played in the Staples Center, the home of both the Lakers and Clippers. The Clippers do possess the defensive prowess to handle James and Davis. The Clippers have both George and Leonard to put on James, and backup big man Montrezl Harrell will play a big role in stopping Davis. The Lakers bench needs some reconstructing and the shooters surrounding Lebron and AD have struggled. Clippers advance to the Finals. Raptors over Bucks The Bucks just don’t have the scorers around Antetokounmpo to overtake the Bucks. The Raptors’ championship mentality will shine through, and the trio of Fred Vanvleet, Lowry and Siakam will put the Raptors over the edge. Coach of the year Nick Nurse will devise a solid game plan for Antetokounmpo. The Raptors know how to win in the playoffs. Raptors advance to the finals for the second consecutive year. NBA Finals: Clippers over Raptors Last offseason, Leonard spurned the Raptors organization to team up with Geroge in LA. Now, the Raptors will have the chance to get some revenge on their former teammate. However, Leonard will be up for the challenge. He has already won two championships while also winning two final MVP awards with different teams. The talent gap between the Clippers and Raptors will be too much for the Raptors to handle. The Clippers get their first championship in franchise history, and Leonard gets his third finals MVP.
The Return of Youth Sports By THE SPORTS DEPARTMENT
Unlike many other sports, summer baseball was able to happen this year. However, due to the threat of the virus, my parents decided to pull me out of my summer team. They were fearful of the long commutes early in the morning and late at night. In addition, due to the virus, they would not allow me to stay in hotels near tournaments. However, with the fall around the corner, I am finally starting to play again. The COVID-19 protocols during the summer were vague: there was no weekly testing or enforced mask-wearing. Going into the fall, I am happy to be on the field. Our coaches are trying to limit the amount of players at each practice. However, unlike other sports, playing baseball does not include direct contact with other players. But, like many activities in our new normal, it is difficult juggling the pandemic and having fun. — Ethan Kirschner, junior
After going through a pandemic and at times lockdowns, curfews, and other precautions, I found it hard to believe that my travel lacrosse season would take place. To my surprise, we had an abridged summer season with far less tournaments, but I think everyone was happy to just get on the field. It felt normal during the 40-minute tournament games to just get on the field and do what I love. I usually look for my biggest fan, my mom, on the sidelines, but she had to stay in the car, since parents weren’t allowed out of their cars. Despite the obvious changes, including no team handshakes after the game, coaches wearing masks, and no college coaches allowed to come to games, I was just happy to return to the sport I love playing. — Philip Von Mueffling, junior
Afra Mahmud / The Spectator
My travel baseball team was able to start up this summer with the necessary precautions in place, and everything went very smoothly. We had to wear masks in the dugout and sanitize our hands often, and following these rules we were able to play ball. Not one of my tournaments, nor any tournaments I heard of had any COVID breakouts, so most other teams followed these precautions as well. The only difference in the games was that the umpire calling balls and strikes stood behind the pitcher’s mound instead of home plate, which led to some (OK, a lot of) bad calls. That took some getting used to, but it was nice to get back out on the field, especially since our PSAL season was canceled in the spring. — Sam Levine, junior
My club soccer league shut down in the spring, but we continued to meet over Zoom for workouts and film. Now, we are going to have in-person training (socially distanced) at Pier 40 and are continuing virtual workouts and fitness challenges every week. The league is possibly starting this fall, but it will definitely be difficult with travel to different parts of the state… fingers crossed. — Krish Gupta, junior Though PSAL cancelled fall sports, my club team has begun practices and released a tentative date for the start of our season. My club announced its return near the beginning of August, and we began practicing twice a week at Pier 40. Pier 40 has had strict rules for sports teams’ returns, so our club has made a firm commitment to abide by many rules, including no contact drills and no sharing water/equipment. In addition, only 20 players are allowed on one field at once, and each player must check their temperature before entering the field. At first, I was definitely excited to get back on the field with my teammates, but there is an ounce of fear that runs through my brain when I take off my mask to do conditioning, or a player stands too close to me. While my season is expected to start at the end of September, I wouldn’t be surprised if this date got pushed further back. In fact, I would advocate that most youth sports’ seasons get delayed, as it is not a priority at the moment, and the cross contamination of players and spectators would be rapid and uncontrollable. — Shivali Korgaonkar, junior
Due to the uncertainty that arose from the pandemic, I elected to take a break from travel baseball this summer in spite of the fact that tournaments still continued to occur. In previous summers, my family and I spent too many hours on endless freeways and in small cramped hotels, so we decided that this was the year to take a breather. I have been able to work out and practice on my own throughout the summer, and as fall approaches, I look forward to playing on a field with teammates once again. Baseball is able to social distance more frequently than most sports, and hopefully, that will lead to a successful formula in which we will be able to stay safe and play the sport that we love. — Jeremy Lee, junior
The Spectator ● September 10, 2020
Sports Sports Editorial
Don’t Sleep on These Future Fantasy Football Studs By KRISH GUPTA
Lamar Jackson, Chris Godwin, D.J. Chark, Miles Sanders, Kyler Murray: the list of surprise fantasy breakout stars grows every year, prompting fantasy gurus and self-proclaimed fantasy “experts” to comb through stats, trends, and trades to try to pinpoint the next diamond in the rough. While these students of the game occasionally find gems, many predictions fall flat on their faces, leading to the creation of another list: the busts. Think of Baker Mayfield, an incredibly hyped sleeper pick when Odell Beckham Jr. found a home in Cleveland but ended up as the 19th best fantasy quarterback, or Juju Smith-Schuster, who was touted as the new face of the Steelers after the departure of Antonio Brown and ended up with the 64th highest wide receiver scorer in the league. While it’s very difficult to randomly pick someone to have a breakout season, there are clear patterns across seasons that can help educate your choices before you are on the clock to help you win a championship. As draft day quickly approaches, here is a position-by-position breakdown of players flying under the radar that no one should sleep on for the 2020 fantasy football season.
Last year, Lamar Jackson was being drafted in the late rounds as a QB2 or even QB3. By the end of the season, he had shattered NFL records and led all quarterbacks in fantasy scoring in a landslide. If Jackson’s fantasy performance last year can teach us anything, it’s that in the modern era of NFL quarterbacks, it’s unwise to overlook quarterbacks’ rushing ability (or lack thereof). That being said, one young quarterback is poised to be fantasy owners’ savior this year. Just as Lamar Jackson was last year, he is entering his second season as an NFL starter after replacing a franchise stalwart; he isn’t being touted as a starting fantasy quarterback; and though not to the same extent, he is a threat in the ground game as well. That man is Daniel Jones. The Giants’ signal-caller showed promise as a rookie once he took the reins from legendary QB Eli Manning in Week 4. He dished the ball and ran for two touchdowns in his debut, leading the G-men to their first win of the season. For the rest of the season, he had a turnover problem, leading the league in fumbles, but continued to show glimpses of stardom with several high scoring fantasy point totals. Jones arguably has better offensive weapons than Lamar Jackson did last year and has a weaker defense, meaning he will get a significant amount of garbage time late in games, which is great for fantasy points. In the offseason, the Giants hired Joe Judge as head coach and gave Jason Garrett, who groomed Dak Prescott into a top NFL quarterback in Dallas, the offensive coordinator job. Jones also bulked up in muscle significantly, which should improve his ball security, which was a problem last year as he led the NFL in fumbles with 18. The conditions are right for Danny Dimes to take a star turn in his sophomore season. For now, he is being drafted as a QB2 but could easily make his way into the top seven quarterback scorers in 2020. Take him if you have the chance once the top 10 quarterbacks are off the board. The Titans’ Ryan Tannehill deserves an honorable mention in this category as well. Currently being drafted as the QB 18, Tannehill has been overlooked on a run-heavy offense. Casual NFL fans will say Derrick Henry runs the team, but they missed the Titans’ run to the playoffs, in which Ryan Tannehill won AFC Player of the Week honors and established an electric connection with then-rookie A.J. Brown.
Todd Gurley moved to Atlanta after leaving the Rams in the offseason. This transfer gives him a chance to start over after an injury-riddled last couple of years on the Rams after his star turn. If you decide to take your chances with Gurley, be sure to take Smith as a viable last round option with significant upside as a backup. Gurley’s departure also opens up the Rams’ backfield for rookie Cam Akers to produce at high levels. He is being drafted as the RB29, mainly accounting for the risk of whether he’ll be the top back ahead of Darrell Henderson. However, Henderson is dealing with a nagging injury, so Akers should get a heavy workload, if only for the beginning of the season. Along with Akers, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a trendy rookie “sleeper,” and with reason, as he will be leading the pack for a high octane Kansas City offense. The Chiefs’ GM went so far as to say that Helaire has the top job in Kansas City, so he should be drafted in round one of fantasy football leagues. Should he fall to you in the second round, he’s definitely worth your consideration as an RB1, though riskier than other high-floor second-round options like Nick Chubb. This could also potentially be the year of the comeback for aging running backs like David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell, so though it may be contentious whether to classify them as sleepers, it’s important to note that there is still gas left in the tank.
Wide Receivers Year in and year out, young wide receivers entering their sophomore year in the league have had breakout seasons. Last year, D.J. Moore, Cortland Sutton, and D.J. Chark emerged; Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin, and Juju Smith-Schuster emerged in ‘18. Do not expect this year to be the exception to the rule, with a breadth of rookie talent entering their second year in the league. D.K. Metcalf already is a strong fantasy football choice—hardly a sleeper, however, as he helped lead the Seahawks into yet another Super Bowl quest last year. Life is good in Seattle for Metcalf, who has a future HOF quarterback in Russell Wilson tossing him dimes and a good corps around him so he doesn’t receive too much attention from defenses. A.J. Brown is a strong breakout candidate, having emerged as Ryan Tannehill’s favorite target late in the season. After Derrick Henry’s overpowering playoff performances, it is understandable to sleep on the Titans’ passing game, but their potent air attack to go with Henry’s power will give them another shot at a deep playoff run into 2021. One more second year receiver to watch is Deebo Samuel. On an NFC-champion 49er team, Samuel will have acclimated to NFL defenses and could rise to the occasion in 2020. It’s also vital not to sleep on rookie receivers, most notably the Vikings’ draft pick Justin Jefferson. Coming off a National Championship with the LSU Tigers and entering a Viking team that is now without Stefon Diggs, the conditions are set for Jefferson to be the D.K. Metcalf of 2020. While Jefferson acclimates in the early portion of the season, the stage is also set for veteran Bisi Johnson to emerge. He should get a larger role across Adam Thielen as the WR2 until Jefferson inevitably takes the position later in the season. With limited training camp, Jefferson may not be a day one fantasy starter, but he is a crucial mid-round acquisition that can help immensely when playoff season rolls around.
Tight Ends This year, two tight ends with initials HH will be leading the charge as sleeper picks. The first is Hunter Henry, who, in a 2019 season shortened from injury, showed flashes of brilliance. Henry will be playing on a Chargers team now without franchise stalwart Philip Rivers under center, so there is some risk associated with a new QB taking the reins. Regardless, Henry is a strong choice as a mid-range TE1 in 2020. After departing from the Ravens, Hayden Hurst will get the opportunity to replace Austin Hooper in Atlanta. In Baltimore, Hurst split catches with Mark Andrews but still put up respectable game scores. Atlanta now has a big power vacuum for targets after one of the league’s top tight ends in Hooper left, so Hurst will put up TE1 numbers. Currently being drafted as a TE2, he is a steal relatively late in the draft.
Yume Igarashi / The Spectator
To all the Fantasy Football fanatics out there: take a deep breath, gather your notes, put up your draft boards, tighten your championship belt, and let the draft begin!
A Treble in a Trembling Europe continued frmo page 23 The 2020 Champions League final started off balanced, with neither team getting any great chances on goal. Around 17 minutes into the match, Mbappé found space on the left wing and passed the ball forward for Neymar, who hit a well-placed shot on goal. Neuer, known as the best goalkeeper in the world, slid onto the floor with his legs spread out to cover as much as he could, but the ball slipped between his legs. The German legend wouldn’t let that ball go in, however, and managed to stop a potentially game-determining
goal as he kept his hand behind his legs, hitting the ball out of bounds, only to have Neymar fail at an attempt to hit the ball back into the box. PSG had missed one of its best chances in the match. Bayern responded quickly as only four minutes later, Alphonso Davies crossed the ball into the box for Lewandowski, who flawlessly spun around and struck at the goal. PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas lept toward the edge of the goal and was fortunate, with Lewandowski’s shot bouncing off the post. After a few chances from both sides, including one in
which Mbappé had a shot from directly in front of the goal that was saved and a seemingly missed penalty call, the first half was over and scoreless. PSG and Bayern were battling headto-head, and rather than a highscoring game, it seemed like whichever team scored the first goal would likely end up victorious. Shortly into the second half, at the 59th minute, Bayern’s Joshua Kimmich whipped in a beautiful ball to Kingsley Coman, a graduate of the PSG academy, on the far post, who scored the game-determining goal off of a header to the op-
posite post. He had sealed the fate of the final. PSG was unable to break through Neuer’s expert goalkeeping for the remainder of the game, and as the referee blew the final whistle, the Bayern benches emptied onto the pitch in elation. Bayern Munich had won it all. The match finished 1-0 to Bayern, ending PSG’s hopes of winning their first ever Champions League title. Besides the fantastic matches we saw this Champions League season, there may be upcoming changes and transfers that will completely transform the soccer competition in Europe. The UCL may
decide to continue holding knockout rounds for quarterfinals and semifinals rather than two-leg fixtures after seeing the excitement this August. With key players in Europe like Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, one of the greatest of all time, and PSG captain Thiago Silva likely leaving their current clubs, the tides may shift in the continent by the time we are watching the Round of 16 of the 2021 UCL competition. No matter where these players transfer to, we can most definitely expect many more unexpected wins, underdogs, and superclub champions in the upcoming season.
The Spectator ● September 10, 2020
Sports Sports Editorial
By AIDAN LOOK As a part of a league where 81.1 percent of its players are Black, members of the NBA, players and coaches alike, are alarmed by the current state of America’s race politics. The NBA, however, is standing up to the racial discrimination that has plagued this nation for far too long—and in a bold way. Since the NBA resumed its season at Disneyland in Orlando, Florida, players have been using their wide-reaching platforms to amplify calls against racial injustice. For the first time, players were given the option to put messages such as “Equality,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Say Their Names,” and “How Many More” above the numbers on the back of their jer-
The NBA Takes a Stand
seys. Around the half-court line, giant text also displays the message “BLACK LIVES MATTER.” Of the 350 players in the bubble, 300 decided to add these simple, yet meaningful phrases to their jerseys, sending a powerful message to audiences watching everywhere. Around 4.1 million viewers tuned in on July 30 to watch the marquee matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers. The millions of fans who watched the intense game saw the words “Liberation” on the back of Clippers guard Reggie Jackson’s jersey as he dunked over Lakers guard Dion Waiters and “Black Lives Matter” every time Lakers guard Alex Caruso drove to the basket. Their efforts to bring awareness to the racial injustice, however, didn’t just end on the basketball
court. Rather than reflecting on their gameplay during post-game interviews as is the norm, many players, like Sixers forward Tobias Harris, Lakers center Dwight Howard, and Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, have turned their attention to the murder of Breonna Taylor, expressing their deep frustration toward the fact that the officers who committed the horrible crime have yet to face their punishment. Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was trying to break up a domestic dispute in his neighborhood, was shot seven times at point-blank rage by an officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 23. Members of the NBA were very vocal about Blake’s uncalled-for shooting, taking to social media and news outlets to
express their anger and concerns. “We are scared as Black people in America. Black men, Black women, Black kids, we are terrified,” said Lakers guard LeBron James, an NBA alltime great who has been extremely active in bringing awareness to the Black Lives Matter movement. Since James spoke out, each NBA team in the playoffs has followed in his footsteps to take an ultimate stand against Blake’s shooting. For example, players from the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics spoke about possibly boycotting their Game 1 Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup. Shortly after, the Milwaukee Bucks, a team based in Wisconsin, announced that they would refuse to take the floor on Wednesday, August 26 for Game 5 against the
Orlando Magic. The NBA subsequently postponed all three games set to occur that day (Bucks versus Magic, Houston Rockets versus Oklahoma City Thunder, and Lakers versus Portland Trail Blazers) and organized a Zoom meeting with all players to discuss how it will proceed with the boycotts. In fact, according to ESPN senior NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA is reconsidering whether or not the season should continue, a testament to how deeply the association has been shaken by the recent events. In a country where racial injustice has hurt far too many people for far too long, members of the NBA are using their platform to fight for what’s right, and in doing so, they send an extremely powerful message: enough is enough.
Is Golf the Ideal Sport for the Pandemic? By YOONAH CHANG Could a slow-paced, four-hour game held over four days be exciting? Could it be more exciting than previous years with no spectators? The PGA Championship this year showed that it could. This year’s first golf major did not disappoint; with its natural tendency to be socially distant, it wasn’t far removed from its original game of play. Though it is normally the third golf major of the year, the PGA championship was the first this year—after the others were rescheduled due to the pandemic. As this major golf championship was held without spectators, the players dealt with an eerie silence while golf fans tuned in virtually. All eyes were on last year’s defending champion, Brooks Koepka, who was aiming for his third PGA title in a row, a feat that would prove he deserves to be a true PGA cham-
pion, with or without spectators. board, shot a clean round with no However, Koepka’s pursuit of bogeys (one more than par, where a three-peat was not in the cards. par is the predetermined number It was Collin Morikawa, a 23-year- of strokes that a professional is old newly minted pro as of 2019, expected to take to finish a parwho came out on top, clenchticular hole), propelling him to ing his first major and first place. His luck fell becoming the third short during the third youngest winner of round, though, the event, older as he finished than only Jack the 13th hole Nicklaus in 1963 with his ball in and Rory McIlroy the trees and a in 2012. The double bovictory did gey (two not come more than easy, howpar). In ever. After the highly the first competiday, viewers tive final saw vetertwo rounds, ans Jason Day former U.S. Mandy Li / The S pect and Brendon Todd open chamato r tied for first place at five under pion Dustin Johnson par. China’s Li Haotong, a rela- seemed likely to take his second tive unknown in the PGA leader- major victory. Even with 16 other
players within four shots of him, only a shot for the record books would have catapulted one of these hopefuls into the lead. That moneyball shot came from Morikawa. At the par 4 16th hole, in a last minute decision, Morikawa decided to go for it, using his driver for his approach. Usually in a par 4 situation, golfers hit their driver, then hit their second shot into the green with an iron, and then typically make two putts for a total of four shots for the hole. With only three holes left in the tournament, Morikawa took a risk and attempted to hit his drive all the way to the green, an extremely difficult feat since the driver is the least accurate club for any golfer, including a professional. However, the bet paid off; after hitting a perfect fade, in which the ball started straight but then curved to the right, the ball rolled up to seven feet from the
pin. Morikawa then stepped up and drained the putt. This eagle (two strokes less than par) was the decisive blow that pulled Morikawa away from the rest of the field. Golf experts noted this tee shot to be one of the greatest shots in a golf major. Morikawa acknowledged the importance of going for it at the 16th hole, saying: “You just have to capitalize on those shots.” Many golf fanatics wonder, however, if the outcome would have been different under normal conditions. Given that Morikawa was a rookie the year before, it’s hard not to wonder if he would have both attempted and been able to pull off one of the greatest shots in golf history if thousands of spectators had been standing within several yards of him. Of course, it’s impossible to know, but to quiet the critics, he’ll just have to win another major when things return to normal.
Track and Field Brings the Heat During Quarantine
By JULIANNE YOTOV and ALICIA YU Despite the cancellation of nearly all spring and summer track seasons this year, track athletes everywhere still strove to achieve great feats. Here’s a look at the most notable records set this year in track and field:
Joshua Cheptegei: Men’s 5000-meter Run World Record At only 23 years old, Ugandan runner Joshua Cheptegei set a 5000-meter run record of 12:35.36, which had previously stood for 16 years, in Monaco on August 14. Cheptegei ran 60-second laps throughout almost the entirety of the race, stunning all with his seemingly effortless strides. In his second to last lap, he even split an astounding 59.97 seconds, electrifying the audience because they knew that it would be close. On the last lap, Cheptegei maintained the energy and effortless stride that would lead him to eventually break the record. After finishing the race, Cheptegei did not show the slightest bit of tiredness, a testament to his strength and fitness-level. He is now aiming to break the 10000-meter record, which he made clear is definitely within reach.
Rheinhardt Harrison: Sophomore Boys’ Mile National Record Rheinhardt Harrison has had a more productive quarantine than most rising juniors. The 16-year-old American high school runner from Nease High School in Florida ran an incredible 4:01.34 mile in Nashville on August 15, shattering the previous record of 4:03.29—set by Edward Cheserek back in 2011. Harrison placed seventh among nine professional athletes, splitting 62 seconds, 60 seconds, and 61 seconds for the first three laps and closing strongly with a sub-60 second final lap. Harrison is familiar with the art of breaking records; when he was just 10 years old, he set the world record for his age group at the Alexandria’s Running Festival half marathon, running 1:35:02. Only 11 high school athletes have run the mile in under four minutes since 1964; it would not be surprising if Harrison became the 12th to do so this year.
Mohammed Ahmed: Men’s 5000-meter Run North American Record
Jakob Ingebrigtsen: Men’s 1500-meter Run European Record Despite only being 19 years old, Norwegian runner Jakob Ingebrigsten has already made quite an impact on the professional running scene. Having set multiple national and junior world records, he has now added a European record to his name. Despite having to race with the chase pack for the majority of the race, Ingebrigtsen managed to close the race hard, almost chasing down his rival and this year’s world 1500-meter run leader, Kenyan runner Timothy Cheruiyot, with a lap to go on July 11 in Monaco. In his final lap, Ingebrigtsen closed in 54.5 seconds, averaging 55.65-second laps throughout the race. It is clear that with the support of his father and two brothers, all of whom are established runners themselves, he has been training hard and is ready for what’s to come.
Even during these uncertain times, professional and amateur athletes alike have found ways to get the job done. As we enter the Olympic year, we can expect that the athletes will keep grinding, the records will keep falling, and history will keep being made because one thing is clear: track and field won’t be stopping anytime soon.
Yaqi Zeng / The Spectator
Similar to Houlihan, Canadian long-distance runner Mohammed Ahmed broke his own 5000-meter record by over 10 seconds in Oregon on July 11. His incredible time of 12:47.20 places him 10th on the men’s 5000-meter all-time runs list. “With two laps to go, the clock said 10:49 and I just thought, ‘you can run two [minutes] flat [for the final 800 meters].’ With 200 meters to go, I just tried to blast it as hard as I could,” Ahmed remarked after his race. His impressive accomplishment will keep the running community excited for what he will achieve at the 2021 Olympic Games and beyond.
Shelby Houlihan: Women’s 5000-meter Run North American Record American middle-distance runner Shelby Houlihan proved why she is considered one of the world’s best 5000-meter runners when she smashed her own record set in 2018 by over 10 seconds with an impressive time of 14:23.92 in Oregon on July 11. Houlihan managed to outsprint some of the best distance other competitors in her blistering 61-second last lap. This record moves Houlihan into 12th place on the women’s 5000-meter all-time runs list and second on the American women’s 5000-meter all-time runs list. While we do not yet know whether Houlihan will be competing in the 5000-meter race at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, we are certain that she will continue to amaze and inspire runners everywhere.
The Spectator ● September 10, 2020
THE SPECTATOR SPORTS Sports Editorial
Fernando Tatis Jr. vs. The Unwritten Rules of Baseball By SAM LEVINE and MAYA BROSNICK
around respect for the opposing team. For example, players should not steal bases or score extra runs when ahead by a lot. It was these “rules” that led the managers of both the Rangers and the Padres to shame Tatis for his choice to swing 3-0 and add to his team’s run count. “I didn’t like it, personally. You’re up by seven in the eighth inning; it’s typically not a good time to swing 3-0,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward told reporters after the game. “It’s kind of the way we were all raised in the game.” Instead of enjoying himself after his first career grand slam, Tatis spent his evening apologizing for doing his job. “I know a lot of unwritten rules, but I was kinda lost on this one,” he said in a postgame interview. “Probably next time, I’ll take a pitch now that I learned from it.” After Tatis apologized for scoring runs, which ironically is
When Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded on Monday, August 17, there was no bad blood between the San Diego Padres and the Texas Rangers. The Padres were just beating the Rangers 10-3 in a game that seemed over. Rangers pitcher Juan Nicasio threw three straight balls, and then, with nowhere to put Tatis, threw a fastball that Tatis deposited into the right field for a grand slam that gave San Diego a 14-3 lead. The Rangers then brought in a new pitcher, who, on his first pitch, threw behind Padres third baseman Manny Machado’s head, clearly intentionally. Why? Because they believed that Tatis had broken an “unwritten rule” of baseball. Baseball has a series of unwritten rules, mostly centered
what he gets paid to do, other players supported him on social media. “He did exactly what he was supposed to do swinging at a 3-0 pitch, and that’s hit a grand slam. I don’t know if you can be that ticked off about it,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo told ESPN. “Our job is to get a hit every single time we go to the plate.” Pitchers as well as hitters are on Tatis’s side. “Don’t like it… don’t fall behind 3-0,” Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty tweeted. “It’s pretty simple.” Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer chimed in as well, telling Tatis, “The only thing you did wrong was apologize. Stop that.” Unwritten rules have been an uncomfortable barrier between current and past players for years. Older, retired players seem to be sticking to tradition, while younger stars like Tatis are changing the way baseball is
played. There’s a reason Tatis was unclear about the unwritten rule that he “broke,” and that’s because it has become a relic of the past. These “rules” of baseball have been in place for a long time, but baseball has changed a lot since then. For instance, bat flips that were once deemed disrespectful are now a huge aspect of the game’s culture. Additionally, the average number of home runs per has ballooned from 0.26 to 1.3 in the last century, and the average speed of a fastball has gone up three miles per hour in the last decade alone. It’s natural that the game evolves and it makes sense that the rules do too. The Blue Jays proved that no lead is safe just three days after Tatis’s grand slam by rallying from down five in the sixth inning of a seven-inning game against the Phillies, gaining the lead in a game they were
thought to be way out of. The Phillies had a 98 percent win probability in the middle of the sixth, and the Padres had a 99.6 percent win probability when Tatis came up to the plate. But 99.6 is not 100. This scenario between the Blue Jays and the Phillies, all too reminiscent of the showdown between the Rangers and Padres, serves as a reminder that the game is not over until the final out is recorded. Tatis actually proved this point while hitting his grand slam; if a single swing can put four runs on the board, then why should a seven run lead be enough to stop trying? So what did Tatis do after his apology? He stole third base with a six run lead the very next day—against the pitcher who threw behind Machado no less, suggesting that despite the backlash, some unwritten rules may not be around for much longer.
On Miles and Marathons, Might and Meaning:
Why—to Female Marathoners—the 26.2 Is So Much More Than a Medal By CAROLINE JI
Courtesy of Francesca McAuliffe
Katherine Switzer made history in 1967, becoming the first woman to complete a marathon as an officially registered runner. Such an unprecedented moment would have surely been memorialized as one of the most victorious moments in women’s sports, right? Think again. Prior to 1972, the Amateur Athletic Union barred women from competing in races longer than 1.5 miles—much less 26.2 miles. In fact, many people at the time believed that running marathons would result in women’s uteruses falling out. Switzer, however, was unfazed. The defiant 20-year-old registered for the 1967 Boston Marathon under the gender-ambiguous name “K.V. Switzer,” an action she later defended as legal because it was the name on her birth certificate. Despite initial confusion among the race day crowds, Switzer’s bold plan was met with relatively good reception. On race day, passersby cheered loudly as she ran alongside her coach, Arnie Briggs, and boyfriend, Tom Miller. At one point, Switzer even had to stop, because so many people were taking photos. That is, however, until a truck stopped right in front of her. Race director Jock Semple, after seeing the commotion Switzer had caused among the crowd, came out of the truck and immediately grabbed her torso, screaming at her to get off the course. “A big man, a huge man, with bared teeth was set to pounce,” Swizter remarked in a documentary. “Before I could react, he grabbed my shoulder and flung me back, screaming, ‘Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!’” After a few fruitless attempts to get Semple off of her body, her boyfriend, Miller, an All-American football player, picked him up and flung him into the side of
the course, further arousing the already-enlivened audience. When the scene finally subsided, Switzer said to Briggs: “I’ve gotten you into a lot of mess here. I don’t know where you stand in this, but I’m going to finish this on my hands and knees if I have to.” And that she did. Switzer finished the marathon in four hours and 20 minutes, accomplishing what no one believed she could. That moment came to define the rest of Switzer’s career. Emboldened by a newfound sense of confidence, she became an active advocate for women’s representation in sports. As a result of her efforts, women were officially allowed to compete in marathons in 1972, and the women’s marathon was successfully added as an Olympic event in 1984. Since then, women’s marathon culture has exploded, with millions of women competing worldwide each year. In fact, more women participated in marathons than did men in 2018. But Switzer’s impact extends far beyond the statistics. To get a better idea of how significant
Switzer’s feat truly is, I talked to compare to anything else. I think female representation in sports. the last time I smiled that “It’s important to be inclusive, Assistant Principal of World Lanhard was during my wed- especially when it’s about someguages, Art, and Music, Francesa ding.” thing that so many people are McAuliffe, a lifelong runner who Having been the only passionate about and allows ran the 2019 New York City female coach of people to live healthier, happier Marathon. a boys’ varlives,” McAuliffe explained. “We McAuliffe was an avid athneed to continue to enroll girls lete growing up. She began in different sports and athletic running her freshman year programs, and we need to see of high school when she more female coaches.” joined her school’s cross But McAuliffe is optimistic country and track and that as long as female athletes field teams. “I really enjoyed continue to draw upon piolong distances and runneers of female sports, ning in the like Switzer, as inspirawoods, like at tion to accomplish their Van Cortlandt goals, the sports comor Cloves Lake,” McAuliffe exmunity will be one step plained. She continued running closer to becoming the after she graduated from high more supportive, inschool, citing that the sport clusive environment she made her feel “energetic knows it has the potential to and positive.” become. “I want to see females McAuliffe celebrates represented in every sport. We how inclusive the marmust continue to advocate, to athon community has participate, and to support one become for people of another.” all genders, which she That’s not all. She has some highly credits Swizadvice to all the female athletes ter for catalyzing. “I out there: “Keep on being awereally appreciate her Sunny Bok / The Spectator some. Keep on inspiring. Keep [Swizter] for being a trailblazer and really going out sity soccer division, McAuliffe on uplifting. And if anyone there to register. I want to thank knows that there is still more needs a running buddy, I’m her for going out there and doing work to be done to ensure equal open.” what she did because when I was running the course, the athletes and supporters didn’t seem more heavily male or female. Everyone was so supportive of everyone.” In fact, McAuliffe notes that Lionel Messi decided to remain at Barça after it was thrashed the vibrant marathon community by Bayern Munich in the UCL semis, but he made it clear that it is one of her favorite things about was because he would have to pay a €700 million release clause running: “A marathon is not a if he left. sprint, so every networking opportunity you get along the way is really worth it.” She recalled The Miami Heat went up four games to one on the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinal, one experience she had meeting a advancing to the next round of the playoffs. couple during the New York City marathon. “At mile one, there was a couple celebrating their 25th anWhite Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito threw the first no-hitter of the niversary together. They really inMLB season against the Pirates. spired me, so I cheered them on, shouting, ‘you can do it!’ I saw them again at mile 23, where they Top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic was disqualified from shouted, ‘you cheered for us, so an already threadbare U.S. Open after he accidentally struck a linesperson in the throat with a ball. we’re going to cheer for you!’ It was a moment that I really can’t