The Louis situation

Apr 19, 2018

The three western modes of persuasion are as follows: ethos, pathos and logos. When even these ceased to effectively communicate an issue, I turned to a rock. David himself beat Goliath from the simple slinging of one to the temple. I’m not one to resort to such violence, but solve my problems other ways. So please, listen to my tale involving a pet of the week section and a rock named Louis.

I imagine a little context might be helpful. The Missourian, more often than not, publishes a “Pet of the Week” in its weekly diversion section. While this seems harmless enough, I fostered a pit of disdain for it. Not for your pet “Sparkles,” but for what “Sparkles” represents.

Not only were the facts about the animal superfluous beyond reason, they were taking up the space for what could have been left to promote one of Maryville’s sheltered or roaming animals. If you live in Maryville, you are aware of our vast array of roaming animals, cats in particular, if you live on campus. “Sparkles” represented the most heinous act that the diversions section has committed itself toward todate: willful ignorance of the truth.

So getting back to the story, I offered up my opinion to the newsroom in one of our weekly critiques. This fell onto deaf ears, and after much agitation of pets flooding our weekly newspaper, I had had enough. It was time to plan. It was time for a liberal dose of sarcasm and mockery. It was time to find a rock. It was time for Louis.

It took weeks to locate the rock, I spent much of my free time wandering local trails to find the right one. The googly eyes came faster, for Walmart had supplied them. The rock I chose was one that was sitting on top of a log. The question I kept asking myself was how it managed to get on top? Sentience was the only explanation. Thus, Louis, my beloved rock, was born.

I took it home, washed it off and moved along with my plan. In maintaining honesty, I kept my rock in my pocket for the remainder of two weeks. The pact between me and it grew over time. It became a real genuine friend of mine. I needed time to sit on my nest egg.

When the time came, Louis and I took our shot. With an email sent, and a smile across both of our faces, our plan was in motion. The individual responsible for the section replied willinging to our email, and accepted Louis as the pet of the week.

With all the cards laid out on the table, it was my turn to write the final piece of the puzzle. The long wait is over and I can officially say what I’ve wanted to say all semester. The effort sent forth putting a picture of a rock with googly eyes into the newspaper has been greater than that of promoting a weekly shelter animal.

Published April 19, 2018 @TheMissourian

Society is to blame for mass shootings, gun problems

It has come into immediate attention, as things usually do when a hot-button issue resurfaces and people suddenly realize its importance, that Americans everywhere are in disagreement about practically everything.

The trend as of late is gun control, and man-oh-man is it reigniting the passions of the every-so-often opinionated individual. Other popular issues of this nature include places where people can live, who gets the biggest cut of U.S. currency and which sedatives we’re allowed to put in our bodies to forget about the former issues.

A new bill is running through the Missouri legislature now that would allow school districts to designate faculty to carry concealed weapons with them, in that they would have a concealed carry permit and train with the Department of Public Safety.

To put it plainly, we live in an overly-excited, overstimulated and overtly-expecting society. A fine example of this would be getting worked up about a subpar performance of the national anthem, while watching it on a flat-screen TV, knocking back another cold Mountain Dew. At the very least, it is important to be aware of yourself before tackling any big issues about society.

How can we hope to pursue serious issues involving the rights of issues to protect each other if we cannot protect ourselves from the folly of exacerbated feelings towards celebrities?

We could spew the obvious diatribe, “Don’t fight fire with fire,” and even the self-righteous anthem of gun-toters everywhere, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” but we’d be missing the main point. We’d be serving abstract concepts in a literal world. We would not be doing the issue the justice it deserves.

The fact of the matter is school shootings are becoming ever-so-increasingly present, and more importantly, innocents are being killed. This is an issue. This is a cause for concern. This needs to be addressed with a certain clarity of mind.

Let us imagine for a brief second a world in which teachers have the capacity to carry concealed weapons, for the due purpose of protecting their students. Let’s imagine a school shooter decides they want to arm themselves to the gills with weapons and explosives to injure the lives of those they attend school with.

Now pause, imagine this same world again. Imagine its news populated with hate, suffering, and catastrophe. Imagine the inhabitants of this world upset and disdainful for how things are. Finally, now, imagine an individual terribly sick of the world around him with a thought that he had nothing to lose.

Problems society faces don’t magically spring out of nowhere, they happen for a reason and most times in ways that have been unknowingly piling up. The problem here isn’t guns or mental health. It is the society that has forgotten to check up on itself. School shootings aren’t the problem; they are but a symptom.

The problem here is our current society.

College students need to paws on owning pets

University is a beautiful place for personal fulfillment and growth. This, however, comes at the price of busy weeks and often hectic weekends. That being said, University is not the place to take care of other living creatures, other than perhaps that friend who drinks a little too much.

Okay, sure, ‘Sparkles’ is probably the cutest cat on the block, but factoring in physics lab, U.S. history reading and the English essay you’ve been meaning to write, Sparkles is most likely thoroughly depressed from a lack of attention. There is no way a college student can balance work, school, friendships and Sparkles’ well-being.

You might be thinking to yourself, ‘Well, of course I can,’ with an upset scowl on your face resembling that of Sparkles when she doesn’t get to play with her favorite toy. Let me be the first to tell you, I know my opinion is unpopular with the rise of emotional support animals. I understand their importance to some people, but I fail to realize how adding another component of stress in your life will make it any easier.

As students, we don’t have the time to tell Sparkles not to piss on the curtains. More than this, we don’t have the money to get them replaced either. Tight budgets might mean you can’t quite get the medical care for your pet when they need it, or worse yet, can’t do laundry that week because your paycheck came in late.

It still unsettles me that people are fine with leaving their pet, more likely than not, in a small apartment all day long while they go to classes, chat with friends and socialize. Imagine what your precious Sparkles gets to do. Have you ever been to prison? It’s kind of like that, but with more pillows to rip open.

Taking in a pet is a long-term commitment that I simply don’t believe most college students are ready to undertake. If you can barely plan for what’s ahead of you in the scope of what’s for dinner on Saturday night, how can you plan for when your pet decides to rip your roommate’s geology notes apart. My point is that you wouldn’t be able to, and that’s a problem.

Yes, pets can be a great asset to your life. Yes, pets can provide love and companionship. Yes, pets are sometimes preferred over human interaction. But, in this stage of our lives, can we really say they are allowing us to truly succeed? Furthermore, are we giving them the best care we could possibly give?

Our fine campus is blessed with roaming cats that can be seen doing all sorts of cat-related activities. My recommendation: take solace in these furry friends, and be mindful of the effects negligent animal care can have on your favorite pet.

Starbucks: now selling narcissism

I find myself many mornings at the mercy of a line leading to my favorite caffeinated drink. The horrors I have witnessed within that line have made me rethink my entire Starbucks experience.

Between the technological phone glare reflecting off every bored expression present and the sickly smell of morning breath in the air, I find myself at a loss as to why I am even present. Then I remember why I came, and I look down at my phone hoping that liking another cat video will make my morning more bearable.

I see Becky talking to Brittany about why Brian never picks up his phone to hear about Becky’s friend’s baby shower while their barista types in a BOGO deal to sedate their moral anguish with coffee beans. This all seems too absurd to be anything close to real. I convince myself that the coffee will fix my annoyed state of mind.

The person behind me sneezes and I brace for what I’m sure to be the plague. Immediately, the whole crowd, in a drone-like fashion, turns to look at the infected and all shift a little away. This is the most life I’ve seen in anyone all morning.

I’m closer now and I hear someone complaining about how their caramel macchiato didn’t taste right before another barista patiently explains to her that she’d asked for a double pump of espresso, too. The espresso wasn’t helping anyone in the situation, especially not me. The vain nature of the Starbucks line rattled my decaf brain to beyond boiling.

The person in front of me fumbled through their pockets looking for loose change, I hated them in this moment because this would be me seconds later. Through this hatred I came to a realization, Starbucks was quite literally pulling me apart. I had been made to loathe people in common, everyday situations, yet still participating in them as they did.

It was my turn now. I paid for my drink and sat down. Now waiting, I realized what addiction and overstimulation could do to people, myself included. The red screen that had only moments before represented my view of the world subsided. My cup came into focus as my name was called and all felt right again.

Legal drugs can have huge effects on people that don’t understand their consequences. Businesses like Starbucks profit off of this ignorance and sell it in a heat-sealing cup. While we all have vices, I feel caffeine tends to be a common go-to for college students.

I left, gripping my cup, knowing still that I’d be going back tomorrow. I fear that even through knowing that fact, Starbucks has us in a position to where we couldn’t care less. They’re playing the biggest game of cat-and-mouse with our brains. I’ll let you guess who the cat is.

People need to look up to the stars

Humankind’s journey through existence is one fraught with so many obstacles that seem only to pile up, almost ceaselessly, until there seems nowhere really left to turn. However, one frontier, as fantastic and unfathomable as it may be, waits -for us- to be discovered.

On July 20, 1969, almost 7 years after humanity  made it to space, Neil Armstrong stomped the first footprints to have ever grace the moon. Maybe his footsteps were not as expansive as the 2,500 km long crater found on the far side of the moon, but they acted as a symbol for the capacity of human achievement.

Humans, and the pre-human equivalents, have inhabited the earth for as long as any of us can remember and we have learned to adapt and grow with our surroundings. With our ingenuity and ever-growing minds, we have achieved crafting mountains out of molehills. There is no doubt in my mind that we have conquered this earth, reigning in at the very top as the dominant species, but at what cost, and to what ends? What can we do next, if the next obstacle is too high to hurdle?

Can we pull any wisdom out of the phrase, “Do not bite the hand that feeds you,” as we continue to bore holes into the earth to extract materials that won’t be available again for millions of years? This isn’t to say that our society could do without, but it is healthy to recognize our faults as a growing species, literally.

NASA’s budget for 2018 fiscal year comes in at $19.1 billion, and in an outline describing how Congress wants that money spent, “Increased cooperation with industry through the use of public-private partnerships, focuses on the nation’s efforts on deep space exploration rather than Earth-centric research.”

The corporate figurehead, Elon Musk, the genius behind Tesla and Spacex, is hard at work at not just slowing down the rate at which we spend valuable earth resources, but is furthering humanity’s capacity to physically explore the universe beyond our moon. He’s playing the long-term game, leaving a legacy for himself and hopefully a chance for humanity to survive what’s headed for us next. We need to recognize the importance in what he’s doing and start thinking ahead.

Perhaps destruction isn’t just around the corner, but time, in terms of a human life, is less than a blink of the eye to the universe. Doing what we can now, with what we have, while we have it, is absolutely imperative and is what we should be doing anyways.

In the words of Carl Sagan, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

Published February 8, 2018 @TheMissourian

 

Students examine tough topics

Apr 19, 2017

The Northwest Inclusion Committee sponsored a two day event honing in on ethical issues within human trafficking and transgender rights, while attendees sipped coffee April 12-13.

Day one of Coffee and Conversation hosted speakers with various insights on the problem of human trafficking, each providing different ways to help prevent this from occurring locally and nationwide.

Title IX Coordinator Rebecca Lawrence spoke of the resources in Maryville and on Northwest’s campus to prevent human trafficking.

“If you feel like someone you know is in a trafficking situation, whether they are a student or not, our office is a resource,” Lawrence said. “Let us know, because we are able to work with prosecutors, officers of the law, St. Francis Hospital and counseling centers to get them what they need.”

Lawrence said medical attention may be necessary for those who are trafficked depending on their specific situation.

“St. Francis will be a big thing for them because a lot of the time, people who are trafficked are not getting medical care,” Lawrence said. “Depending on how they were trafficked into the country, they may have injuries because they may have been sexually assaulted and need some sort of medical care along with some counseling.”

Lawrence said those who are worried can reach out to the Title IX office through email, stop by the office in the Student Engagement Center, call the National Human Trafficking hotline at 188-373-7888, head to the University Police station or visit the Maryville Public Safety office.

Advocate for Women in Christian Ministry Emily Meyers spoke on behalf of TraffickCam, a new app allowing users to help law enforcement keep a record of hotel rooms that are possible human trafficking locations.

According to Meyers, the Exchange Initiative, a program developed in St. Louis in 2012, saw that people who had passion for fighting sex trafficking wanted to solve the issue. After partnering with Washington University, they created TraffickCam in 2016. Meyers said this app is part of the solution to human trafficking.

“So the way sex trafficking happens the majority of the time, a pimp has a victim and they are selling the victim online to get bids,” Meyers said. “This typically happens on websites such as backpages.com where they have their own underground sites that they use. They post a picture of the victim, typically in the very same hotel room that they are sold in, and they sell these to the ‘Johns’ that bid on them. Whoever wins receives the location of that hotel room and that is where their escort takes place.”

TraffickCam helps police officers track down trafficking crimes in, at the very least, hotels photographed by using the app. The user is instructed to take pictures of their room and provide the hotel’s location in addition to its name. This information is saved and shared with law enforcement.

Day two of the Northwest Inclusion Committees’ Coffee and Conversation was filled with issues facing transgender college students.

Green Dot Coordinator Danielle Koonce explained a chart comparing the percentage of psychological distress experienced by the transgender population to different age groups in the United States.

“Fifty-three percent of trans folks ages 18 to 25 are experiencing serious psychological distress,” Koonce said. “U.S. population (experiencing serious psychological distress) all the way across is pretty low. Trans folks are way up here.”

Koonce gestured to the top of the screen and then turned her attention to what she saw as the real problem at hand.

“What are we doing about that?” Koonce said. “There is nothing inherently wrong with being trans. There is nothing about being trans that means someone is going to carry more psychological distress than anyone else, except for the factors that are in their environment that cause it to be that way. I get really angry about this statistic.”

Student attendee, Emily Smith, had a question about specifics on what is being done to foster a supportive environment for the trans community.

“I think representation is really important, and I would really like to see the University make a better effort to hire more diverse staff and faculty,” Koonce said in response to Smith’s question. “I think part of it is on the staff and faculty, but a lot of it is on the students. You all have really powerful voices. If you see things you want to change, I mean, your dollars are why we are here. So if you want to see things change, there are staff that are here to help with guiding that.”

Koonce said she hopes Northwest students will feel a part of the campus by how students and faculty help make Northwest a more comfortable place overall.

“We want the University to be better,” Koonce said. “I don’t come here and think, ‘Yes, this is a perfect place 100 percent of the time.’ There are lots of things I like about Northwest, but I think there are a lot of things that could be better.”

Koonce said she thinks the staff needs to be better about recognizing apparent offenses happening in their offices.

“For me, it’s hard to find that balance, to be the person that’s speaking up. I think for all of us, even for you all as students, it’s hard to find that balance where you won’t be socially ostracized or ruin relationships (for standing up for transgender rights),” Koonce said. “So, if we are all able to throw caution to the wind and stand up for those battles, we can come together and celebrate those things. I think that is how we progress in small steps.”

 

Published April 19, 2017 @TheMissourian

Academy students explore 3D printing

Apr 12, 2017

Missouri Academy students begin designing a prosthetic hand and other projects by utilizing a 3D printer to reach out to the community.

Academy Students Kai Yun and Irene Hung were looking for ways to match each other’s creative potentials and came up with the Plastic Artificer’s Lab. The club’s main focus is on creative and volunteering efforts directed by the club’s President Yun and Vice President Hung.

The prosthetic hand idea stemmed from the website, enablingthefuture.com, which allows people to download designs and print them off to create artificial limbs. The Plastic Artificer’s Lab hopes to do just this and record its experience to be granted into a chapter.

Hung said flexibility in design and collaboration with the diverse group of individuals they have participating leads to innovative ideas being shared.

“You can design pretty much anything,” Hung said. “There is a software we can design the things that we want in, and then we change the STL file, where the design gets saved to. Then we change that code file into a specific code that the printer can read and print out afterwards.”

The Plastic Artificer’s Lab volunteered at Horace Mann Elementary School last fall. The club introduced kids to the concept of 3D printing and let them design an object that they will receive when the group prints them.

The group’s creative team has a mission to print a 3D printer inside of another 3D printer.

Dean of Missouri Academy Cleo Samudzi said the Missouri Academy is a great place for these young students to nurture their creative abilities.

“Students have been doing this for a long time (creating clubs), in a variety of different ways, but with the 3D printing system, it is the first group,” Samudzi said. “Otherwise, in many other different ways robotics club, the signs Olympia organization, and others include students doing things outside of academia.”

Every club and organization at the Missouri Academy has to go through a proposal process requiring students to convince a committee of its worth.

“This club did their presentation last year to create the club, we gave them a budget to get started and they have done some very interesting things,” Samudzi said.

Samudzi said the Missouri Academy is a great place for the young students to work together in highly beneficial ways.

“One of the things we hear quite often with the Missouri Academy having been around for about 17 years, is praises on leadership growth,” Samudzi said. “When they come here, they are all together and flourish. We nurture that creativity, being in an environment where that creativity is nurtured.”

 

Published April 12, 2017 @TheMissourian

UPD partners with local artists for exhibition

Mar 29, 2017

Northwest alumni, students and University police officers pondered pieces of art to get the bigger picture on what community represents.

The one-night art exhibition hosted by the University Police Department March 27 at 7 p.m. housed paintings, ceramics, photography and sculptures from Northwest alumni and Northwest students. University police officers participated in discussions about the artwork with the Maryville community and artists who attended.

Northwest students Chance Allen, Alexis Banegas, Dupree Dolor, Zoe Green and Melody Monroe had art displayed throughout the station. Northwest alumni who presented their work included sculptor Brant Weiland, ceramicist Jamie Woodard and painter Tia Calkins.

Woodard had porcelain work on display and for sale. She focuses on subjects such as nature, trees and texture in her work.

“When I’m working on a piece, I try to capture the impressions left by life and nature on the piece itself,” Woodard said. “I tend to focus on earthy elements. I want nature to show through in my work.”

Calkins curated the event and said University police officers connected with the group of artists at an art showcase earlier this month.

“By hosting an art exhibit in their new building, the UPD is hoping not only to continue their pursuit of art but also invite the community into their new space and experience the art together,” Calkins said.

University Police Department Lieutenant and Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Ceperley attended the event among other officers with an open mind.

“They’re experimenting in New York where they are bringing the officers in and teaching them to use their visual skills and conceptual skills in seeing things and identifying things in pictures in the art that normally people don’t see and pick up on,” Ceperley said.

Lieutenant Ceperley said he is always looking for new ways to get involved with the community. Doing something both productive for the force and enjoyable for the community is gratifying to Ceperley.

“We do Pizza and Police; we do jump starts and all kinds of fun stuff,” Ceperley said. “We’re on Twitter and social media and different things. We’re always searching for that thing that separates us from the rest. It is nice to partner with the artists, to use the facility and invite the public over and then also have a training for the officers to work on our visual and critical thinking skills.

Most art was for sale and prices ranged from $50 to $1,000. Artists had the chance to engage with the attendees and get their names out into the Maryville community.

“The artists have utilized contextual elements from the present time and then have visually and compositionally manipulated them in an attempt to open up the conversation about societal issues,” Calkins said.

 

Published March 29, 2017 @TheMissourian

Maryville to house new duplex

Mar 1, 2017

The Maryville City Council approved the rezoning of a residential lot for the construction of a duplex on the corner of West Third Street and North Walnut.

Brandon and Natasha Brand requested the rezoning of their lot to fit with city zoning requirements for duplex development. Community members voiced their concerns about the property surrounding the rezoning potentially turning into more apartment complexes as well as concerns for degradation of the area surrounding the property.

“I did code enforcement for four years,” Brandon Brand said. “I got those calls about too many residents being at a property. I went out at 2 o’clock in the morning and counted cars in the driveway. I sent letters to say, ‘hey we need to see your lease because it looks like you have way more people staying there.’ We did everything we can to enforce it. I did not do it on my own however. This is where reporting suspicious activity is helpful.”

The council approved this rezoning with a vote of 4-1. The duplex is expected to be two stories tall and will contain eight bedrooms.

The city’s annual audit reports were presented by Representative Mike Williams from Hochschild, Bloom and Company, LLP, St. Louis. The 2016 audit reportedly came back with good results for the city.

Burny’s Sports bar was approved as the host for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade is planned to take place March 17 at 5:17 p.m.

Maryville Public Art Committee representative Joyce Cronin announced the four sculptures to be leased for display in the downtown area. The pieces chosen were “Fans,” “The Farmer,” “ Why o Why” and “Last Spirit Bear”.

“It was a unanimous decision on what we had chosen between the downtown merchants,” Cronin said. This is the one we are the most excited about (Last Spirit Bear). This will be over by the farmers market. We are hoping that children will interact with it, climb on it, get their picture taken with it.”

City Manager Greg McDanel announced Maryville Public Safety’s plans to purchase a drone for search-and-rescue efforts with the aid of a $2,500 grant from Walmart.

McDanel said structural improvements on the building sitting at the corner of Third and Buchanan should be completed in the next four weeks.

McDanel said that the city is in the application process for a $350,000 grant through the Missouri Department of Economic Development for future funding to the fire bay toward a potential new public safety facility.

McDanel revealed that the City of Maryville received the Excellence in Concrete Pavement award for the city’s airport runway project.

 

Published March 1, 2017 @TheMissourian

University urges students to branch out

Mar 1, 2017

Motivational humorist, real estate business strategist, consultant and author Karel Murray talked with students about the best practices in dealing with stress and organizational difficulties for Northwest’s Career Pathing program.

According to the Career Pathing webpage, “this fast-paced, content-packed presentation identifies the internal and external influences that create chaos and stress in our daily lives.”

Murray has earned the National Speakers Association’s distinction as a Certified Speaking Professional and the Real Estate Educators Association designation as a Distinguished Real Estate Instructor. Over the course of her career, she has presented to over 80,000 people and has written four books.

In her presentation, Murray said trust, support, appreciation and accountability are required in our environment to break out of our comfort zone.

“Most of the impactful things that happen in our lives happen in a snap of the fingers,” Murray said. “Everything is going perfectly fine, and then it’s not. There is one thing that you can do, and that’s breathe. People are going to push you to go faster. Circumstances are going to push you to go faster. You can gain control.”

Addressing topics of stress and organization with humor, Murray walked the group through ways of improving themselves and reaching further than they may have already previously attempted.

“There’s nothing you can do to fix what’s behind,” Murray said. “You can only do, what you can do in the next moment. Change would be really easy if it weren’t for all of the people. You have been conditioned by others to think ‘this is the right way to do it,’ so you do it. What if you want to do something different? Stress happens when you want to change.”

The group used exercises to gauge participants’ individual levels of stress to determine the proper courses of action to best address them.

“You are going to do more for less; you’re going to give away more,” Murray said. “So, if you think you are working long hours now, expect that to maybe intensify. When we look at the ability to make fast decisions, I want you to hang on to that because the world is going really, really fast. You’re not going to have three months to make a decision. You’re not going to have a month to make a decision.”

Career Pathing offers events to students, faculty and community members for personal development purposes. Student employees who meet specific criteria and attend these sessions have the opportunity to receive pay raises.

 

Published March 1, 2017 @TheMissourian