Annual NPHC Yard Show kicks off start of school year

Photograph by Rebekah Martin

Fraternity Phi Beta Sigma and sorority Zeta Phi Beta hosted their annual Yard Show on Monday, as part of their combined Blue and White Week for the organizations.

The two Greek organizations hold Blue and White Week for students to “come out and get to know them individually,” Zeta Phi Beta senior Tyler Holliman said.

This year’s theme was “Home Improvement,” named after the newly completed Greek housing project that gave both organizations new dwellings. Zeta Phi Beta had previously occupied a small house behind Falcon Heights on Thurstin Ave., but now they have a new house in the new Greek Village, with Sigma Phi Beta across the walkway from them.

The two organizations, along with the other National Pan-Hellenic Council Greek organizations (also called the “Divine Nine”), have been doing the step show for over 10 years. Multicultural Greek organizations Sigma Lambda Gamma and Sigma Lambda Beta also participated in the Yard Show.

“It is specifically for Divine Nine. We do have them (Sigma Lambda Gamma and Sigma Lambda Beta) participate because they are considered our cousins,” said Phi Beta Sigma member Jay Wells, who participated in his last show as a senior.

“Over the years, other Intrafraternity Council and (Pan-Hellenic) have joined in,” Phi Beta Sigma chapter president A’Davius Chambers said, who’s participating in his third Yard Show. “They got invited for … certain things, but it’s based upon the Divine Nine.”

The yard show displays the Greek organizations stepping and strolling, which comes from African culture. The organizations dance together in various formations as one group.

“The way we look at it is like … a way to just advertise our organizations to … the students, especially the first years,” Chambers said. “Just trying to get them to want to join our organizations.”

Fraternity Omega Psi Phi participated in their first Yard Show in three years. New member Chris McClendon said the fraternity was “happy to be back on campus,” and is ready to serve their community.

For Holliman, it was her final year participating in the Yard Show and said the moment was “bittersweet.”

Historically, the two Greek organizations are the only organizations in the Divine Nine that are constitutionally bound as being brothers and sisters, so the two organizations made sure their houses were close to each other when Greek housing was being planned out.

The next event for Blue and White Week is a money management workshop at 7 p.m. Tuesday in BA 1002. A list of their other Blue and White Week events can be found on their Twitter page, @BG_Elite1914.

This story was edited by the original author.
This story was originally published in BG Falcon Media’s independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

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Medicinal marijuana legalization requires substance reclassification

On Wednesday, June 8, Gov. John Kasich quietly signed House Bill 523, which legalized medical marijuana for the state, making it the 25th state in the nation to have medical marijuana.

The bill passed in the General Assembly by differing margins: It passed in the Senate 18-15 and in the House 67-28.

The legislation comes after ResponsibleOhio’s Issue 3 failed during last November’s election, where the legalization for both medical and recreational marijuana was up to the people to decide whether or not they would want 10 cultivators controlling over 1,000 dispensaries.

The bill will allow physicians to prescribe marijuana alternatives to patients who have one of the multiple ailments listed in the law.  The law will go into affect in less than 90 days, with the hopes of having marijuana plants being cultivated in the state within a year.

Under this law, smoking and growing marijuana will still be illegal, but alternatives such as oils, patches, edibles and vapors will be legal.

Currently, there are 20 medical conditions on the list that will allow people to obtain prescriptions for medical marijuana. Some of these include epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain that is either severe or intractable.

More ailments can be added to the list with approval.

Three boards will be overseeing and writing the laws pertaining to medical marijuana: the Department of Commerce, the Ohio Pharmacy Board and the Ohio Medical Board. The new law will also create a panel of 12 people to help advise the departments for the rules that are being formulated.

So what does this mean for the average Ohio citizen?

For starters, this new law does not hold any protections against employers taking action against employees for using marijuana medicinally.

If you have one of the 20 ailments currently on the list, you’re in luck! Come September, you will be able to receive a prescription from an authorized physician. Unfortunately, with the laws taking effect in 90 days, cultivation starting within a year, with products hoping to be tested in as early as 16 months, patients will have to receive their medical marijuana products from neighboring states, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Keep in mind, marijuana in all forms is still illegal at the federal level. Traveling with marijuana or marijuana byproducts across state lines could cause someone to be prosecuted on federal drug trafficking charges.

But now that half of the states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana medicinally, it is time for the Drug Enforcement Agency to stop procrastinating on the reclassification of marijuana and start working toward doing so.

Presently, marijuana is a Schedule I, which means it has no medical benefits and it is highly addictive. This labeling over the course of the last 20 years has become very outdated.

With the Schedule I labeling comes the inability to research more freely. Currently, the plant can only be obtained for research through one government garden and special grants have to be given in order for the research to be able to take place.

The DEA considers reclassifying drugs annually, but has been reluctant to reschedule marijuana since classifying it as Schedule I in 1970, and have declined on multiple occasions to reclassify it.

The DEA decided in May to consider reclassifying marijuana by the end of summer, but summer has started and we are approaching Independence Day.

With half of the nation, including Washington DC, now legalizing the plant medically, we cannot afford to keep marijuana at the classification it is without being able to have the proper research on it.

This story has been edited and revised by the original author.
The original edition of this column appeared in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

New graduate class coming this fall helps combat Islamophobia

A new graduate course coming this fall will help students understand Islamophobia in the past and present through media, such as film and literature.

Khani Begum, who will teach the course called “Deconstructing Islamophobia,” said the class is to help students understand Islam “is not exactly related to terrorism itself, but that it is something certain groups have tried to move in the direction of making Islam their ‘rallying call’ … for their own agendas.”

Begum was inspired to create the class after speaking on panels about Islamophobia in the Bowling Green community.

Growing Islamophobia rhetoric has made its way into politics and at the forefront of mainstream media. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump callied for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States and former opponent Ted Cruz demanded more policing and heavier monitoring on Muslim communities.

Begum, who is of Muslim, said the class shows how certain media and literatures view Islam and how to address Islamophobia in the graduate students’ own communities.

“When you see someone who is being demonized, what do you do? Do you step in there? How do you inform these people who are … trying to profile?” Begum wants to address these questions.

She said the new rhetoric society has seen post-9/11 isn’t particularly new at all, and Islam is not the first culture to be demonized or feared.

“The same thing happened with the Jewish populations in Europe,” she said. “It’s very similar, the way they were demonized by the Nazis.”

She hopes the course will get students to see this through both literature and film made by both the cultures that demonize Islam, but also medias made by others who showcase the lives of ordinary Muslims.

“We’re going to do a lot of theoretical writings that kind of trace the background … of Islamophobia,” Begum said. “When did it start … how was it first considered in the early centuries and now today? What are the different connotations of it?”

Begum also said the course is taking on a new and “innovative” task.

Students will complete a service learning assignment for their final class project. The students will be connecting with community groups such as Not in Our Town, The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, or WBGU-TV to produce a project based on the knowledge they have acquired throughout the semester.

“The students will have a chance to either produce a little short that could be shown on WBGU-TV,” she said. “They could do a panel of discussion with people from the community or they could do a short film.”

Only three students have signed up for the class so far, but she’s hoping for more participation as the fall semester approaches.

She also hopes to create an undergraduate class pertaining to Islamophobia.

“It would have to be more literature and film based, and not as much theory,” she said. “But we’d do a few essays … and maybe some media things.”

Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage is not the end of LGBT Issues

In two weeks from Sunday, June 12, we will be marking a year of Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court of the United States case that allowed same-sex marriage to be legal in the United States.

On Saturday, June 11, my sister married her longtime girlfriend, something we thought we would have to wait much longer for.

It has almost been a year since the landmark decision was made with a 5-4 decision, with Justice Anthony Kennedy delivering the opinion of the court, saying, “No union is more profound than marriage.”

And Justice Kennedy is correct.

In the last year, I have seen same-sex couples of all ages become married.

My sister and her fiancée are no different. I have seen them grow in this process of setting things up, pulling extra shifts at their jobs just to make sure their big day and the honeymoon following it are perfect.

Though same-sex marriage has been a remarkable milestone in LGBT rights, there is so much more work to be done in the fight for their equality.

Now that marriage is legalized, it has become less of an issue in public debate. Which means, it is important now more than ever to make sure the LGBT is safe from other forms of discrimination, both legally and socially.

To start, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act in North Carolina was signed into law in March and has been called “the most anti-LGBT bill in the country.” Commonly nicknamed the “Bathroom Bill,” the Act declares that state law overrides cities from creating their own laws and rules that prevent the discrimination of gender identity and sexual orientation.

Lesbian, bisexual and transgender women are at a greater risk for poverty and are at a greater risk of being victims at sexual assault.

While the bisexual community has been inherently written off as invisible, the Williams Institute indicates that there are roughly as many bisexual individuals as there are gay and lesbian individuals. Bisexual women experience high rates of domestic violence.

Transgender individuals are also at a high risk for being victims of hate crimes, which was highlighted in 2015 when at least 81 transgender individuals were reported to be murdered, but the number of murders that go unreported could be significantly higher.

There are also still laws in place in certain states that allow for discrimination in some states, while others have no laws protecting LGBT employees at all.

I am not trying to downplay the importance the impact Obergefell v. Hodges has had on the United States this past year.

But just like slavery was not the end of racial discrimination, legalizing same-sex marriage is not the end of LGBT discrimination in anyway way, shape or form. Just like having racial segregation until the 50s, there are still plenty of ways—again, both legally and socially—that the LGBT community is still being discriminated against.

I encourage you to stand up with and for the LGBT community as they go through the everyday hassles outside of marriage rights. Stand up with and for them as they fight for equal economic, medical and in employee rights.

This post has been edited for timeliness.

This post was originally published in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here

Mental Health is on a person-by-person basis

The month of May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and throughout the entire time, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve been doing about my mental health since I first started my journey with depression two years ago.

I have had depression on and off since I was 13. Since I’ve been coming to college it has become more present.

Mental health on college campuses is beginning to be seen as a more prominent issue, as 94 percent of college campuses are reporting an increase of students who are looking for help from counseling centers, from the 60 percent of schools who have either a psychiatrist on staff or a counseling center.

I started going to the University’s counseling center during the fall of 2014. I went to the walk-in hours and was given a wonderful counselor who helped me through what was potentially the hardest college year to date.

My grandfather passed away a day before the wedding of my oldest cousin, and we ended up having a wedding and a funeral in the same weekend. I was able to work through the necessary grief process with her and was able to handle his loss better than I had the losses of other loved ones during my years at school.

In spring 2015, I decided I was comfortable enough to participate in group counseling. I was able to talk to and associate with other peers who were going through or had went through similar issues I was facing on multiple fronts both inside and outside of my mind.

I had gotten so much support through counseling about the importance of standing up for myself and advocating for things I wanted and needed for myself. However, that support didn’t keep me from not wanting to get up in the morning or from not wanting to do menial tasks, such as cleaning, or even doing important things such as going to the bank, paying bills or money orders.

There were (and still are) days that I would be dragging my feet to do something and when I would finally do it, I would not give 100 percent, as much as I would want to and would want to push myself. It was hard to sit down for an extended period of time to take a break to do errands, because I knew if I sat down for just one moment, I would not be standing back up for an extended period of time.

Last summer was my first time in 22 years being independent and on my own. And I thought the depression was from a lack of hours at my job, or a lack of just overall activity and boredom that sometimes comes with the BG summer. But I tried everything: reading, writing, doing overtime for the summer BG News. But nothing worked.

Ultimately at the end of the summer, I decided to be prescribed antidepressants.

At first I was terrified. In my hometown, addiction (especially in opioids which are found in prescription painkillers) is running rampant and it is killing people at an alarming rate nationally. I was also worried the first medication he would give me to try wouldn’t work. But my doctor encouraged me to just try it and if I did not like it, we could always find a different way and that if this pill didn’t work, we could always try something else.

So before fall 2015, I made the decision to take antidepressants and I have not looked back since. Unfortunately, adjusting to the medication this past year has been detrimental to my grades and GPA, (I failed two classes; one each semester), but I am very excited to be back on track to come back from the semester fresh.

I still have days where I don’t want to do anything and I don’t want to get out of bed. I even still struggle with doing menial chores on some days. But it’s all a little more manageable with antidepressants.

If you are struggling with any type of mental illness, I encourage you to not only seek help, but to find the help that works for you as an individual. For me, it was counseling and taking antidepressants that has helped me battle this. Everyone struggles with mental illness differently so my methods of getting better are not the same as my significant other, who has social anxiety, or my friend in my hometown who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder. Even those who have depression as I do may also find that my method of getting better does not fit them, but my method of getting better is not the same as everyone else’s.

It is always important to find the way that works for you.

This column originally printed by independent student media publication, The BG News, on June 1, 2016 which can be found here.

Chernobyl: Thirty Years Later

On April 26, 1986, a systems test started at reactor four at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the city of Pripyat, Ukraine near the border of Belarus. A power surge happened and after a failed attempt to enable an emergency shut down, a reactor vessel burst and caused a series of steam explosions, igniting an exposed moderator.

International Nuclear Event Scale
The International Nuclear Event Scale ranks nuclear accidents on a scale of one to seven. Chernobyl and one other nuclear accident are the only ones to have reached the seventh scale

The explosions and fires caused more than 350,000 people in both countries evacuated from their homes and resettled into different communities.

Thirty plant employees died from either in the fire or from Acute Radiation Sickness after the event was over.

Today, on April 26, 2016, the effects of the Chernobyl disaster can still be felt by the countries and the people who live in them.

The areas affected by the nuclear accident were classified into four zones: three of those zones had to be evacuated, and citizens had to be resettled elsewhere and were not allowed to return. In the fourth zone, the villages still exist and the people still live in them.

Until fairly recently, people who still lived in the fourth zone were able to seek help from medical professionals about their consistent exposure to radiation.  But the Ukrainian economy had been suffering from the war goin on in the east and from Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The country had also taken loans of billions of dollars from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the World Bank itself.

Ukraine has eliminated the school lunch program for children who live in the fourth zone, and it has caused an outraged since parents have made the argument that the school lunch was the only meal children would be able to eat during the school days and school weeks without any type of radiation in it.

According to an exclusive report by the Associated Press, nuts, berries, and mushrooms have radiation levels that are two to fives more than what is considered safe, according to Ukraine’s Institute of Agricultural Radiology.

Animals are also affected by the Chernobyl disaster. For farm animals, dairy products can still possess levels of radiation in them.

For the wildlife in the abandoned 1,600 square miles, National Geographic reveals the reality of this bittersweet environmental success.

Despite the still high levels of radiation in the area, large mammals in the area have been repopulating. After the relocation of towns and villages, the animals were given a chance to breed and raise offspring without being hunted by nearby people.

A picture of a group of Przewalski's horses.
Przewalski’s horses were on on the verge of going extinct. As part of an effort to increase the population, they were introduced into the abandoned area of Chernobyl, where they have thrived.

A study that was released Monday revealed that population of animals increased especially on the Belarus size of the exclusion zone. The study found there to be “no evidence [that] suggest … their distributions were suppressed in highly contaminated areas.”

Today, the plant and the exploded reactor still stand. Ukraine is making a $2.25 billion shelter to put over the reactor for a long period of time so the government can start working on removing the structure and the radioactive waste inside of it.

The final death toll from the nuclear disaster runs between the number of 9,000 to 90,000. The World health Organization predicts that in due time, people will die from Chernobyl related cancers and leukemia, which is a similar result from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

With the growing push for cleaner energy and a push to stay awat from nuclear energy and waste, Chernobyl is a lesson in the importance of clean energy and waste and the lengths we must go to protect humans from tragic accidents.

Unnecessary trash clutters campus, audit finds

One person looks through garbage that is in on a tarp in the Union Oval at Bowling Green State University

Environmental Service Club and Environmental Action Group conducted a rescheduled waste audit on Thursday, April 14, to determine how much was being used in certain academic buildings on campus.

Originally planned for April 6, it was rescheduled due to bad weather.

The two groups wore Hazmat suits and took trash from the Business Administration, Eppler, Hayes and Olscamp buildings, dumped the trash onto a tarp near the Union Oval and sorted through it.

They separated the trash among multiple categories: cans, plastic bottles, disposable cups, paper, glass bottles, bathroom trash, compost, cardboard, plastic bags and general plastic. Five of these categories (cans, plastic bottles, disposable cups, glass bottles and plastic bags) are recyclable materials.

A bar graph from the Environmental Service Club tallying their total amount of recyclable waste found.
The count of waste of all recyclable materials. Now that the audit is over, these items will be taken to a recycling center where they will be properly disposed of.

The groups spent eight hours Thursday in the Union Oval, counting the buildings’ waste and monitoring their count on a white board that was displayed outside of the garbage zone. The board was frequently updated throughout the day allowing students to see the progress throughout the day.

The waste audit is meant to see what people are throwing away that could potentially go to other forms of waste disposal such as recycling and composting.

Environmental Service Club president, Lily Murnen said the Union throws out nearly seven tons of trash weekly, which converts to 12,000 to 14,000 pounds.

“By purely looking at pounds trash (428 pounds in total), 45 percent of the waste stream was recyclable or could have been prevented by personal lifestyle decisions or a revised campus policy,” Murnen stated in an email. “Pounds, however, are deceiving and not all types of waste weigh the same amount per item … We audited categories that could be easily counted, we made sure to count them individually along with the weight.”

A bar graph showing the total amount of waste sorted through by the environmental service club
All of the waste that was sorted by Environmental Service Club was separated into 10 categories. The items that cannot be recycled will be taken landfills.

Of all the categories, bathroom trash had 46 pounds of waste, the most of all the categories. The least pounds of waste was general plastic.

Compost, which is a decayed mix of organic matter (such as fruits, vegetables, grass and leaves), accounted for almost five percent of the audit’s waste.

“If BGSU invested in composting, we would be able to reduce this number drastically, she wrote in the email.

While the University does not have a composting program or policy in place, Environmental Action Group has put in another policy that has helped reduce waste in the Student Union.

“There is a policy that (we) put into place at the beginning of the semester,” President Matthew Cunningham said. “Cashiers no longer ask if you would like a bag. It’s a simple policy; just that policy alone has reduced bag consumption on campus by 18,750 in the past two months.”

But Cunningham knows that this policy isn’t the end of his work in the environmental groups.

“We still have a lot of work to go,” he said. “We’re still using almost 2,000 bags every single day on campus.”

Murnen thanked everyone who participated in the audit and helped engage people during the event.

“We hope that you will continue to think about what you buy and throw away and that you will use your voice to push for sustainable reform here on campus.”

Editor’s Note: This article was updated to correct the number for bag consumption reduced from 750 to 18,750
This article was updated by the original author and edited for the web.
This article was originally printed by independent student publication, The BG News, on April 19, 2016 which can be found here.

The UK, Northern Ireland and Reproductive Rights

In the center of the picture, a woman holds a piece of cardboard that says, "I have this pill I am taking now!" Behind her, other protestors hold similar signs with prochoice words and slogans.

The topic of abortion is often touchy in the United States, as we talked about in my Ethnicity and Social Movements class last week. In my recitation on Friday, my teaching assistant shared a story about a woman in Indiana who was sentenced to 20 years in feticide.

According to NBC News, she “is the first woman in the U.S. to be charged, convicted, and sentenced on a feticide charge.”

Earlier in the week, I heard something similar that I thought my teaching assistant has been referring to but instead it took place in Northern Ireland.

According to the BBC, a woman in Belfast bought drugs online to terminate her pregnancy. In Northern Ireland, as there is absolutely no abortion access for women.

At the time the Belfast woman terminated her pregnancy, she was 19 years old. Now almost twy years later at 21, she has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Some people who read this at first might be confused. In public education in the United States, I was taught Ireland was part of the U.K. Some other students who were in American public education may also tell you that.

However, some students who were educated in the U.S., may be able to tell you that the land we know is Ireland is split into two separate locations: the Republic of Ireland, which is the sovereign nation mainstream American might be most exposed to; and Norther Ireland, which could potentially be less heard of outside of history or geography classes, is part of the U.K.

In 1967, the U.K. legalized abortions and registered practicioners and regulated the practice through the National Health Service.

So why does Northern Ireland not follow this law the same way England, Scotland, and Wales do?

It’s because the law never applied to the country to begin with. In Northern Ireland, abortion is illegal unless it is “to save the life of the mother” or carrying the pregnancy to term would put the women in danger either physically or mentally.

Even though this law is in place, the woman is still guilty of her miscarriage under The Offences against the Person Act 1981, which is a list of crimes that can be considered offenses of violence on a person.

Another story by the BBC about this situation says that women who live in Northern Ireland travel to other countries in the United Kingdom in order to receive legal and safe abortions.

In England, Scotland and Wales, women can legally have an abortion up to 24 weeks (168 days). After that, abortion can be legal beyond that limit in cases where the mother’s health is  being threatened or if there is a substantial risk the baby will have serious disabilities.

It is interesting that two similar situations are happening in what are supposed to be two of the most developed countries in the world are still fighting over what women should do about their own bodies.

The difference in these two stories is that the procedure was available to the woman in Belfast, but since she personally did have the resources to access it on her own, she had to use other resources that are otherwise seen as taboo to other societies.

The woman in Indiana claims to have given birth to a stillborn, but prosecutors are insisting the baby was alive when she gave birth and she neglected to get help. But activists are on her side, saying the conviction is “punishment for having a miscarraige and then seeking medical care…something that no woman should worry would lead to jail time.

Reproductive rights are more than just wanting to terminate pregnancies and wanting contraception. It is also about giving medical and psychological support to women whose pregnancies are physically tolling or traumatic experiences.

I’m curious as to see how these to stories, which is are opposite sides of a body of water play out. I hope to keep you updated.

 

Richard Racette on Running for USG Vice President

I’m running for USG vice president to make the changes that are necessary to the Undergraduate Student Government as well as Bowling Green. It is an honor to be able to be [Amanda Dortch’s] running mate. Amand and I … promise … we will put our everything into our community, Bowling Green State University, a better place.