The War on Drugs is a War on Us

The War on Drugs is a failure and has not achieved anything.

Since the 1970s, constant smear campaigns against psychedelics and marijuana have plagued our televisions and our public schools while alcohol and tobacco are normalized, though they are more damaging.

This 40-year campaign has brought a stigma onto people who have addictions, people who are recovering from addictions and people who consciously decide to take drugs for recreation or therapeutic purposes.

After 40 years of this, I demand to say no more.

Despite being legalized for medical use in more than half the country, marijuana is still illegal and a Schedule I drug, which claims the drug has no medical properties and is highly addictive.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has consistently pushed back rescheduling the drug to a lower class, which is not only delaying further research that should be done, but is also preventing people from being able to receive a medical treatment that–proven by the minimal science there is–that works for them.

Psychedelics have also been used for therapeutic purposes; there’s a nonprofit organization dedicated to studying this. The furthest along in this medical study is MDMA-assisted therapy assisting those who have severe traumas or post-traumatic stress disorder that has been immune to other treatments. It is in its final trials before going to the Food and Drug Administration.

The Drug War in the United States also began the sharp spiking of mass incarceration, with black and brown bodies being put in jail at disproportionately higher rates than those of their white counterparts. The Drug War has been used to promote racism through a “colorblind concept” lens, leading people to ignore the underlying intersections of how institutional racism has played a role in the racial profiling that happens because of the War on Drugs.

I tell you these things because for too long people have been bought into the idea that drug use or drug addiction are a criminal issue; people believing that people who use them should be locked in jail. But it is more than just taking people to jail and making sure they don’t have their addiction. Addiction is no longer seen as a behavioral problem, but actually a disease that disorders the brain.

Not only do we have to combat the social stigmas surrounding drug use, addiction and policies, but we also need to reform current policies in order to make sure drug use is treated differently. We must focus more on education and harm reduction than on incarcerations and punishments.

We cannot be complacent about what happens to our drug laws with the Trump Administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been an opponent of marijuana and a supporter of the Drug War since its beginning.

“Reefer madness” is a myth. The D.A.R.E. program is outdated and no longer serves a purpose in a society where marijuana is used medically.

Now is the time to change the way we handle this.

This column was edited and republished by the original author.

This column was originally published in the independent student publication, the BG News,on March 20, 2017 which can be found here.

Spousal Rape Needs More Attention

Spousal rape is a rape that is less talked about in conversations about rape and rape culture because the power dynamic is more than just that of the perpetrator and the victim.

It is a rape that occurs between a husband and wife (or husband-husband or wife-wife).

In the state of Ohio, a person can be charged with rape if they impair another person’s judgment or self-control to prevent their resistance. This could be done through giving the victim drugs, controlled substances or any other intoxicant through force, intimidation or lying.

Spousal rape wasn’t included into Ohio law until 1986, but it was only if there was “force” or a “threat of force.” Situations where one spouse drugs another without their knowledge and rapes do not qualify as spousal rape under the law.

This is a loophole that victim advocates and state representatives are trying to close with House Bill 97, but only 17 lawmakers—all of them Democrats—have signed to co-sponsor this bill.

H.B. 97 would eliminate spousal exceptions for rape, sexual bettery, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, gross sexual imposition and public indecency. Currently, spouses can only be charged with these crimes if the victim is either not their spouse or is their spouse but they live separately.

First, we have to establish that regardless if it is between two people who are married, rape is still rape and it can occur in marriages. Being married to someone does not stop human beings from being able to consent to sex on their own terms.

Second, the state government has to know (or should know by this point through H.B. 97) the spousal exemption of force or threat of force is hard to prove in the court of law. A victim spouse could have physical injury done to them due to the crime, but it would be disputed by courts as to whether or not the injury happened because of the rape or because of something else. A threat of force can easily be seen in courts as “he said/she said.” Both of these exemptions already make it hard for spouses to report cases of rape because not only are these two statutes going to be hard to prove in court, but the lack of presence could prevent spouses from getting rape kits in hospitals.

If we eliminate these exemptions from spousal rape, we may be able to see a start in spouses reporting their rapes and justice being served for these people, regardless if the perpetrator was their partner. Marital status and living situations should not be issues that are exempted from rape cases.

Last, I find it to be unsurprisingly disgusting that there is not a single Republican in the General Assembly who has co-sponsored this bill. While we have heard and seen our fair share of Republicans say horrid things about rape, abortion and Planned Parenthood, anyone– regardless of political party–should be able to see the importance of eliminating this loophole.

Rape is horrid and traumatic the United Nations considers it a war crime. It is unfair to believe rape cannot happen between two people just because they have their names on a marriage license together. Rape does not discriminate; rape is illegal and a crime. No one, not even spouses, should be exempt from being tried for that crime.

This column has been formatted for the internet and edited by the original author.
This column first appeared in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

In Response to Tuesday’s “On Interracial Relationships”

The fetishization of people of color in this country has been an issue since before the colonization of the Western world itself. While diversity in the United States is indeed on the rise, the growing political climate has also made white supremacy braver as it infiltrates our executive branch and hate crimes in the U.S. begin to rise.

I am a product of an interracial relationship. My father, for as little as I know about him, was a black and Native American man. My mother is Irish, German and Hungarian with red hair and blue eyes to match. So imagine my surprise, and disgust, when I opened The BG News and read that “interracial couples can make beautiful babies. Interracial relationships have so many benefits, can even be a fun ‘fetish’ for many.”

To avoid getting into semantics, the definition of interracial is actually “of, involving, or designed for members of different races.” The definition itself does not include anything about the interaction of those different races, be it platonic or romantic.

Also, an interracial relationship does not have to involve a white individual to be considered interracial as the column used in its examples. Interracial couples can also involve someone who is Latinx and someone who is Black; or someone who is Asian and someone who is Latinx; or someone who is Black and someone who is Asian.

While it is in the author’s opinion that “interracial relationships have the power to completely end racism,” it is fact that this is not ever going to be the case. Despite popular belief, people who are racist have the capability to be in interracial relationships. Historically, white supremacists have slept with women of color in an attempt to “dilute” the skin color of future U.S. citizens and to “dilute” the people and their culture.

How do white supremacists and racists in interracial relationships have the power “to completely end racism,” when their entire ideology sees black bodies as just a capitalist commodity and want to eliminate those people?

In 2016, there were 60.25 million married couples in the United States. As of 2014, 35 percent of all marriages were interracial and interracial marriage is still projected to rise as the demographics of the United States begin to change. Does this mean that interracial marriage is still the minority? Yes. But that does not mean people aren’t “embracing” interracial dating. In fact, it means quite the opposite.

Of course people are still going to think interracial dating and marriages are “taboo.” In 2016, we saw the case of Loving v. Virginia come to life on the silver screen, the Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriage in 1968.

A movie screen cap of
Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as Richard and Mildred Loving from the 2016 movie, “Loving.” The movie made $7.8 million at the box office.
It is going to take more than “beautiful mixed babies,” tolerance and embracing to end racism in U.S. society. It is going to take action, unlearning racist and white supremacist behaviors, and dismantling our institutions of racism before we can even think about it being completely over.

As an active member of the BDSM community, I found it to be incredibly racist and offensive to my community that interracial dating could be seen as a “fun fetish.” People of color have been fetishized for decades and to promote this through interracial dating promotes white supremacy. “Race play” is a very real thing in the community which is where participants take on the roles/stereotypes of different races to enact a power dynamic. A common scene is a submissive taking on the role of a slave and the dominant taking the role of a plantation owner; white submissives will go as far as putting themselves in blackface.

I agree interracial relationships are to be celebrated and embraced. Without interracial love, I don’t know who I would be as a person. I am a tri-racial woman because of interracial dating. But please refrain from fetishization when celebrating these relationships.

This column was written in response to “On Interracial Relationships.”
This column was originally published in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

“Black Like Me” a social justice beach read

Title: Black Like Me
Genre: Nonfiction; Sociology
Author: John Howard Griffin
Publisher: Sepia Magazine
Publication Date:
1960
Pages:
176
Price: Library Rental

To the journalist or the activist who is engaged with racial inequality, it is not uncommon to take a book pertaining to social justice on holiday with them to read when they’re not doing research.

The good thing about “Black Like Me” is that the research is practically already done for the reader. Author John Howard Griffin, a white man from Texas, physically inserts himself into various Black communities in the South and Deep South, by medically and artificially darkening his skin. He uses UV sun lamps and an oral treatment often used in helping the pigment of people who suffer from vitiligo.

Griffin was from Texas and born in 1920. He graduated from the University of Poitiers in France. According to The Telegraph, he became a part of the French Resistance and helped Jewish children escape from World War II to England.

Before talking to various people and doctors, he admits in one of his beginning journal entries that even though he specializes in race issues, he did not fully understand the real struggle of the Negro. So, in a journalistic context, he feels that since he does not know what he calls the “Negro’s real problem,” he feels it is his duty as a journalist has to investigate this matter on his own and see for himself what it is really like.

Before reading this, I was incredibly skeptical of what the content of the book was going to be like. As a woman of color, I have faced racism both inside and outside the home. Here, I thought prior to reading the book, was a white man who medically and physically painted on blackface to put himself in a society he was never in to start with.

However, I was surprised when I started reading the book.

For starters, he went out of his way to talk to multiple people about whether or not it would be a good idea to invest in such a project. Then, he dedicated himself to the cause further by consulting with a dermatologist and getting a medication that would darken his skin. While he only participated in this social experiment for a month, the medication would not darken his skin completely, so he finished it off using a stain and giving him a “pure brown” skin tone. This would come in handy after he creates a system of going between himself as white and himself as a black man.

I was not sure how he was going to interject himself into society as a black man, but it helped he decided to travel for his experience. He portrayed himself as a black man traveling for work, which I thought was a clever but ambiguous identity for him to have when encountering strangers.

I found the book to be an easy read. Griffin writes clearly and easily about his experiences. Even for parts that could seem particularly uncomfortable to the white reader, his points are easy to understand.

I understand Griffin’s desire to want to know exactly the problems the Negro faced in the South and Deep South, it’s hard to ignore the privilege he had not only have the option to try and investigate this as journalism story. But also, he had the privilege to also “zigzag” between being black and white, before permanently returning to white society. While he was able to darken his skin to “see” what the struggles of Black people were like, actual Negros do not have the same luxury or privilege.

But John Griffin gains something from his experience that racist individuals are not capable of having for marginalized people is empathy. That’s the important thing to keep in mind while reading this brief book—only 176 pages. So it makes for an easy read for even a four-day weekend.

The Redskins name debate

With the beginning of fall and Halloween quickly approaching there is one thing also happening that makes people either excited or nauseated and it’s not pumpkin spice. 

It’s sports. 

It’s also that wonderful time of the year when you will hear sports fans and activists alike talk about one thing: mascots and names involving Native Americans. 

I would like to think that most people can recall that one time The Washington Post said 9 of 10 Native Americans did not find the term “redskin” offensive. This is something that has been widely debated by not only sports fans, but activists and Native Americans themselves. 

Owner Daniel Snyder has also taken a stand to the point where he has written emotional letters about how Native Americans face more dire issues than the name of a football team. These condition include the poverty rate on reservations, diabetes, substance abuse, lack of infrastructure, transportation and lack of water resources. At the end of a letter he even announces the start of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. 

In the summer the NFL asked the U.S. Supreme Court to look over their revocation of the Redskins trademark registration. 

Already, I am seeing reporters say Snyder has already said no this season to changing the name. Which is a shame—he didn’t even wait for the Supreme Court to decide on the revocation. 

“Why not,” people ask me, “talk about Blackhawks, the Indians, the Braves, the Chiefs?” 

But they are, and we will…but not in this column. 

In my time here at BGSU, I’ve taken every Native American Studies class. In my second Native American Studies class, I learned that the term “redskin” comes from collecting Native American scalps for bounty. 

A column by Esquire shows a picture of the Phips Proclamation written in 1755 saying, stating, “The State reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for very red-skin sent to Purgatory.”

A picture of an excerpt from the 18th century Phips Proclalmation.
A section of the Phips Proclamation which gives the prices for how much every Native American bounty is worth. It lists the prices of both whole bodies and scalps.

An advertisement appearing in Minnesota newspaper, The Daily Republican, prices dead Native Americans at $200, citing that the amount is “more than the dead bodies of all the Indians east of the Red River are worth.

An advertisement from the Minnesota newspaper, The Daily Republican, which advertises the price of Native American scalps to be $200.
An advertisement showing the price of a Native American scalp from a 19th century newspaper

Native Americans were scalped and had their heads sold as if they were pelts

To a lot of Native Americans, the terms is seen as offensive and it is something they do not wish to have as a name for the Washington football team. However, cannot ignore that there indeed may be some Native Americans who are completely okay with the name. With all topics, it is a fact of life that there will always be a divide in opinions. 

Daniel Snyder is right. There are indeed these problems he listed in his letter on Native American reservations. Post World War II Germany was treated better than Native Americans have been. 

A protest has been going on in the Dakotas over an oil pipeline that is being built on Native American land. The pipeline would stretch over four states and could potentially affect the drinking water of 18 million people with just one accident. 

I have yet to see the NFL, nor the Redskins, do anything to either help Native American communities or lend a hand to the protesters who are up against an oil company invading their land, and defacing burial sites and sacred places. 

The Original Americans Foundation has also been inactive since 2015. Their website isn’t even updated or functioning. 

There are definitely other teams who need to step up for Native American communities and the Redskins, and while they have done so in the past, they have not done so to my knowledge in the present.

CORRECTION: The original column cited the advertisement to be an excerpt of the proclamation. This turned out to be incorrect and was changed.
The original version of this column was published in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

Pipeline raises concerns for many groups

A pipeline in the Midwest has caught the attention of the press and the people affected by it through a string of protests that have been happening since spring.

The Dakota Access Pipeline Project is a new pipeline, meant to carry 470,000 barrels of crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa, to the state of Illinois daily.

Construction of the pipeline was granted in March 2016. Dakota Access, the company constructing the pipeline, hoping the pipeline would be constructed and running by the start of 2017, but the protesting by both Native Americans and environmental activists has halted construction.

President Obama met with tribal leaders earlier this week to hear their concerns about the pipeline, but no remarks were made after the meeting.

The pipeline will have capacity as high as 570,000 pounds, according to a website about the pipeline created by Energy Transfer.

The website also said the $3.7 million investment will create up to 12,000 construction jobs. Dakota Access said the pipeline would “bring significant economic benefits to the region.” According to CNN, Dakota Access also said pipelines were the safest, most cost-effective and responsible way to move crude oil between locations.

“Originally the pipeline was slated to go closer to Bismarck,” said Andrew Kear, an assistant professor at the University. He’s in both the political science and the environment and sustainability departments. “(It’s) an urban area, more affluent, and they thought that there would be more political opposition to a pipeline going closer to a heavily populated border of an urbanized area; rather than sending the pipeline towards a more rural, less populated—but nonetheless, land that’s close to Native Americans.”

Earlier this month, the US Department of Justice ruled that construction of the pipeline bordering a North Dakota lake would not continue.

At the end of April, the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, along with the EPA, the Department of Interior and the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation, sent separate letters to the Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency overseeing the pipeline. The three agencies called for the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment and issue an Environment Impact Statement.

The Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes have argued with federal judges that the Army Corps of Engineers did not properly assess the impact the pipeline could have on the cultural sites of the tribes and the effects an accidental spill could have. The tribe also argues the pipeline could affect the river, which could impact not only their only source of clean water, but could also impact the drinking water of 18 million other people.

Native American reservations have tribal sovereignty, which means that they are supposed to have jurisdiction of their own lands, without interference from state governments. The federal government handle issues pertaining to Native Americans.

In August, David Archambault II, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, wrote an opinion editorial for The New York Times. He writes the Dakota Access Pipeline has been “fast-tracked from Day 1, using the Nationwide Permit No. 12, which grants exemption from environmental reviews required by the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by treating the pipeline as a series of small construction sites.”

Archambault also wrote that the Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Missouri River (the river the pipeline will be built under it) in 1958, taking away their natural resources and land in order to create Lake Oahe.

A judge also denied Standing Rock’s request to stop the pipeline earlier this month as well, which prompted the tribe to take their cause and statement all the way to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, where David Archambault II spoke as part of a hearing on indigenous rights.

“While we have gone to the court in the United States our courts have failed to protect our sovereign rights, our sacred places and our water,” he said.

This article has been edited by the original author.
This article was originally published in the independent student publication, The BG News. You can find this version here.

Policing women and religion out of hand

Photo taken from The Guardian website; from vantagenews.com

The policing of women’s bodies and what they decide to wear is getting out of hand in both the United States and around the world.

In the United States, we as a society are constantly criticizing what women wear, from asking in court systems what women are wearing at the time of their sexual assaults to creating sexist dress codes in our public code that prevent young girls from wearing menial articles of clothing such as spaghetti strapped tank tops in fear of “distracting” male students from receiving their education.

In France earlier this week, a Muslim woman on a beach in Nice was cited with a ticket by the police for not “wearing an outfit respecting good morals and secularism,” according to French news agency, Agence French-Presse.

She wore leggings, a tunic and a headscarf while on the beach with her children. In three photos that were posted by The Guardian, the woman is seen laying on the beach, four police officers on their way to approach her.

Photo taken from The Guardian Website; by Vantagenews.com
The woman who only gave her her first name, Siam, is seen laying on the beach in a tunic, leggings, and headscarf.

In the second photograph, the Muslim woman can be seen with her tunic partially removed and all four police officers watching her do so; and in a third photo, she’s holding the tunic out to the police officers while one officer is knelt down inspecting it.

Photo taken from The Guardian's website; from Vantagenews.com
Siam, holding out her tunic to an officer to inspect.

Nice and other various French cities have banned “burkinis,” a type of swimwear for Muslim women that correlates with Islamic dress code and other clothing that “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks,” which refers to the attack that occurred this past summer on Bastille Day where a cargo truck drove into crowds, killing 86 people and injuring more than 300 others. The ban is said to be “necessary to protect the population,” but I do not buy this at all.

The wording of the Muslim woman’s ticket also indicates that her outfit was not respectful of good morals and feeds into the idea that Islam is an immoral religion, which it is not. Are nuns in France being asked to not wear their habits because their outfits do not “respect good morals and secularism?” Doubtful.

While I agree there are terrible people out there who use Islam to push radical ideologies (see the Syrian Civil War for more details), I disagree with France that this woman deserved to have her clothes taken off and inspected to ensure she was not a threat. This woman was at the beach with her children, not bothering anyone.

What is worse, according to The Guardian, a witness to the scene said she heard other people around the situation saying things such as “Go home,” and applauding the police for making this woman remove her clothing.

While I understand that all of this is supposed to help protect the people, it is more harmful to average citizens than anything. These rules are meant to target people who identify or “look” Muslim, and this leads to more profiling by law enforcement and stereotyping in our society. If policies like this are going to be set in place, I hope and want them to be set in place for all people and religions.In order to make sure this rule and ban is fair, nuns should not be wearing their habits and priests should not be wearing their collars.

If you are going to police one gender’s or one religion’s right to clothing, all of them should be policed.

CORRECTION: The original poster of the photos was not The Guardian. The photos were taken from vantagenews.com and were used on The Guardian’s website.
This article has been edited and updated by the original author.

This article was originally published by BG Falcon Media’s 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.