When does clean water become a privilege rather than a right-

Story By: Madeline Baker

About a month ago, in the midst of the chaos of exams and three days before I was scheduled to go home, my mother sent me a text that read “No clean drinking water here, not sure when it will be resolved.” I wasn’t really surprised by this message, as contaminated drinking water isn’t out of the ordinary where I live. Corpus Christi, Texas, where I was born and raised, sits on the coastal part of the state, and is littered with refineries as you move inland. My hometown had undergone water boil advisories in the past, mostly due to an excess of chlorine in the water or something related to the pH levels. After reading my mom’s text, however, I decided to dig a little further and see what the issue was this time. The first result of my Google search was an article on NPR.org. “NPR,” I thought, “shit just got real.” This wasn’t just another water boil advisory, this was a complete ban on tap water for the entire 300,000 residents of Corpus Christi. The city council warned everyone not to drink, shower, cook, or wash dishes using the tap water. The contaminant in the water was more potent and harmful than anything that could simply be boiled out of the water.

I kept my eye on the situation over the next few days. I wanted to know what had contaminated our water and who was responsible for such a catastrophe. It was soon revealed that a man-made chemical called Indulin AA-86 had contaminated the water. Our local news channel described it as “an asphalt emulsifier that is corrosive to the skin, eyes and respiratory tract and can cause damage to internal organs.” Investigators eventually determined that the source of the issue was a leaking backwater drainage system of a refinery owned by the Texas oil and gas giant, Valero. As I mentioned before, Corpus Christi is teeming with privately owned refineries, some located very close to less-developed residential areas of the city. Despite the city being left without clean drinking water for a total of five days and households spending close to hundreds of dollars each in bottled water, Corpus Christi never took legal action against Valero. To do so would have cost the city a huge portion of the revenue it makes from Valero’s property taxes, and Valero would have threatened to end its business relationship with the city. Essentially, the health of Corpus Christi’s residents came second to big business.


read more

Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 11.12.52 AM

Column By: Taylor Lamb

Hey y’all. It’s me. Your favorite unapologetic, black, advocate for feminism coming at you with something new for this semester. A column. The Black Column, to be exact.

“Oh no!” One might be thinking. “They gave her another opportunity to shove her agenda down our throats?!”

Yes. Yes, they did.

So, here’s the rundown: This semester I am taking “African & African American Studies II,” taught by Professor Harold. Is this my first “black” class? Hardly. I always try to integrate my blackness into my studies in any way I can, despite not being an AAS major. But I’ve never had a platform like this. So while I get educated, I’m gonna educate y’all a little bit too.


read more

Story By: Taylor Lamb

Ladies, it’s time for us to have a chat.

I’m going to talk to you about something I’ve been seeing more and more on social media lately. It is a harmful idea that people of all genders and races have perpetuated, acting as though it is normal and acceptable. This is, the “crazy girlfriend” trope.

Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 11.05.26 AM

Now, I’m not talking about women acting rationally and reasonably in a relationship, and their boyfriend labelling any behavior they don’t like as “crazy.” That is a very real problem, and could be a different article all in itself. No, rather, I’m talking about the typically self proclaimed crazy girlfriend who doesn’t trust her boyfriend for no good reason. The girl who gets mad when her boyfriend doesn’t text back within five minutes. The girl who looks through her boyfriend’s phone & social media accounts when he’s in another room. The girl who refuses to let her boyfriend even talk to any other girls, much less be friends with them. The girl who thinks it’s okay to key his car or destroy his xbox when she gets angry at him. The girl who makes jokes about slapping, punching, and beating her boyfriend if he were to leave her. The girl who screams at her boyfriend when he’s not acting exactly the way she wants him to.

Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 11.05.44 AM


read more

Teach-In (3)

Story By: Kimia Nikseresht

As an immigrant, as a follower of Islam, and as a woman, I have turned to Iris time and time again to tell my story. It may be a bit more complicated at times, but it’s not too different from yours – a journey of challenges and victories, self-exploration and set-backs, love and heartbreak, and lots and lots of laughter.

This week, though, laughter has not been an option. On the 27th of January, President Trump issued an executive order (full text here) that could have been summarized with a simple “f*** you, you muslim idiots” tweet. Here’s what the executive order did, in its most basic form: stopped all refugee admittance into the United States for 120 days, prohibited any non-US citizen born in any of the specified seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) from entering the country (regardless of their immigration status) for 90 days, and said “nah bitch” to Syrian refugees – the millions of Syrian families who are desperately searching for safety and shelter – hoping to enter the United States indefinitely. And here’s the best part: Charles Kurzman, professor at UNC Chapel Hill and an expert in Islamic Fundamentalism reminds us that “there have been zero fatalities in the U.S. by extremists from the countries on Trump’s list”.


read more

FINDING FEMINISM

After reading Iris intern Taylor Lamb’s piece “The F Word,” [hyperlinked] U.K. resident Ash Moylan was moved from across the pond to submit her own story of feminist awakening. While we usually only publish the work of University of Virginia students, we thought now might be a great time to highlight a voice of global solidarity. So cheers to Ash Moylan, who has a degree in “Gender Politics,” works as a “lecture helper” in Carlisle, Cumbria, UK, drives a Fiat Panda (stick), and who is a self-described “ballsy blonde with sassy senses and a dangerous degree!”

Story By: Ash Moylan

“YOU CAN’T GO THROUGH THERE” – you haven’t got the necessary equipment,” a farmer told me when I tried to enter a tent marked “Washroom B”.

I was 8, camping with my school, and I’d assumed that the “B” distinguished it from “Washroom A”.

But no, “B” apparently stood for Boys, and I had to enter a different building entirely, and forsake the camping experience!

“The necessary equipment”? Did men really talk like that in the outside world?

I mean, I knew what he meant (this was 2002 and I had  a male cousin who peed wherever and whenever the urge took him), but I was understandably crushed.

Until I got home and told my 13 year-old female cousin, and asked her why men felt a need to run us down like that.


read more