Social Drinking: What’s so social about it?

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Story By: Madeline Baker

We all know UVA’s unofficial motto: Work Hard, Play Hard. I applaud anyone who can balance a rigorous academic and extracurricular schedule with an impressive social calendar. I struggled with this balance my first year at UVA. My first semester wasn’t much different from any typical college freshman’s: I was free to do whatever I wanted on the weekends and I took full advantage of my social independence. Taking shots of cheap vodka in my dorm room before hitting the Corner was a staple of my Friday night. After several weekends filled with random frat parties and nights spent on the Trin dance floor, I came to the realization that I wasn’t actually having fun, I was just pretty drunk and doing what everyone else was doing.

I hated feeling like I didn’t belong in my environment. I drank to feel normal and part of the culture, but this only made me feel burnt out and alone. The motivation I had at the beginning of the semester quickly dwindled. I had lost interest in my schoolwork, as it seemed the only reward for a stressful week of tests and papers was another night spent drinking.  I thought this was what my college experience was supposed to be about: staying out late and drinking with friends. It was what I considered to be social. It was how I fit in with everybody else and how I “bonded” with my hallmates from my dorm. I wasn’t sure if I was the only one feeling this way, but it seemed like everyone else was having a great time. I couldn’t understand why everyone looked so natural in this part-hard environment, and I felt so completely out of touch. I drank in high school, but not to the extent I was drinking in college. First year was my first experience with head-pounding hangovers and gut- wrenching nausea. I didn’t know if I could keep this up every weekend, but so long as my friends were doing it, I sucked it up and continued to drink.


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Gretchen Steidle: Leading Change Globally with Compassion

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Story By: Taylor Lamb

I’ll be honest. When I first heard about Gretchen Steidle, founder of Global Grassroots, coming to give the 2nd annual Beverly Cobble Rodriguez Lectureship for the Women’s Center… I was skeptical. I am often skeptical of people who seek to aid people in foreign countries– that they know next to nothing about– when there are many people right here in America needing help. I saw the pictures of her surrounded by black women and children, and I was a little upset. Did the Women’s Center really bring a white savior to UVA? However, after getting to hear her speak, I realized that could not have been further from the truth.

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Gretchen Steidle is a “conscious social change agent.” A conscious social change agent works completely counter to the typical methods of social change we see today. During her lecture, Gretchen spoke of the people who typically do work in other countries. She said they have good intentions but tend to fail on delivery and execution. They are often outer-driven, self-focused, and have an “us vs. them” attitude about the people they help. Their outcomes are simply incremental changes that still fit within social norms. Although Gretchen never used the words, I began to think of the “white savior” I mentioned earlier. They are not bad people, and definitely have good intentions. However, because of the factors Gretchen mentioned, they do not bring about the best outcomes, and perhaps do more harm than good, if they do anything at all.

But that is not Gretchen. As a conscious social change agent, Gretchen says she is inner-driven, asking “What am I called to do?”, and other-focused. She begins her process with self-examination before examining others’ needs. The outcomes of this type of social change maximize what is helpful and possible, and goes for systemic change at root levels.


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The Burnout Game

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Story By: Lilly Patterson

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘burnout’? I’d venture you have a general concept of what it is, but perhaps you don’t believe it applies to you. College students, particularly at UVA, not only take in but also perpetuate the stereotype that as young 20-somethings, we can afford to be running on all cylinders at all times. Time and time again, whether we read it on the ubiquitous Stall Seat Journals or hear it from our variety of advisors, we’re told that along with school, family, friends, and extracurriculars, we need to ensure good sleep, nutrition, exercise, and perhaps read a novel or throw in a transcendental meditation session. (While remaining entirely casuallilly about it, no doubt.) Despite these encouragements, it’s safe to say that most of us are lacking in more than one of these areas.

Here’s the kicker: I’d argue that students here are in a veritable burnout competition. Yep, that’s right. Think about the number of times someone has started a conversation with talking about how little sleep they got. 3 hours, you say? Suddenly, an interloper follows up with cries of their two-hour sleep. Another, perhaps, interjects with the home run: an all-nighter.

How about another example? You have two interviews this week, one with J.P. Morgan and the other with Capital One. But alas! Your classmate Cooper has six and three midterms.


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name

Article By: Pinky Hossain

There’s a sort of formula to it, a series of decisions you have to make. First, decide whether or not you want to give the kid a traditional name. Say you’re thinking of naming your baby girl either Alex or Khadija. You have two routes from here.

  1. Choose the less traditional, Western option because you want to cushion your child from the malice of the world – Alex is safer than Khadija. There are three other Alexes in her third grade class, and the other children won’t struggle with her name. Substitute teachers won’t trip over her what to call her, and when it’s time for her to find jobs, her resume won’t invoke any stereotypical image in her employer’s head. Keep in mind that you will have to worry about whether not Alex will lose her culture. Her aunties and uncles might not be able to pronounce her name because the short “a” doesn’t come easily to their tongues. She might begin to act like an “Alex,” an American. Maybe she’ll stop speaking her native language and she’ll hang exclusively with Jacobs and Madisons and Emmas because she’ll identify so strongly with her name. Or maybe she’ll fight Alex and struggle to remind every Jacob, Madison, and Emma that she is part of a beautiful culture. You’ll wonder where her loyalties lie. Will Alex struggle to prove to her heritage that she hasn’t assimilated or will her allegiance fall towards the dominant culture?
  2. Choose the more traditional, Islamic route and your girl might have to correct her name every time someone says it. It’s a soft k not a hard k, she’ll say for the umpteenth time that week. Eventually she’ll stop because she’ll get tired of telling everyone their pronunciation of her name is too harsh. She’ll figure that jobs won’t hire her in a country that fears anything too Muslim. Maybe she’ll wish that her name was Jacob or Madison or Emma. She’ll tire of Khadija and shorten it altogether for convenience. She’ll go by “Kay,” belittling her parents, her background, and the prophet’s (pbuh) first wife.

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Cut

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Story By: Madeline Baker

I love a good podcast. Seriously, I listen to podcasts almost everyday when I’m getting ready in the morning, on my way to class, working out, or getting ready for bed. One of my favorite podcasts is This American Life. If you haven’t heard of it, you should really get into it. It’s hosted by Ira Glass and tells amazing stories each week about different people from different backgrounds. One Monday afternoon, I was listening to a particular episode that discussed identity: who we are, and how we define ourselves. A Pakistani-American woman, Mariya Karimjee, began talking about her identity as a female, and how, for a long time, she had never thought about her sexuality and how it related to her identity. At 15 years old, she asked her very conservative Muslim mother if it felt good to have sex. Her mother replied, “No, not for us.” That is when the woman revealed that at 7 years old, her mother had taken her to a local doctor in Karachi, Pakistan, who told her it was time to get rid of “a bug.” That same day, she went to a family friend’s house, lay down on a tarp that was set before her, and held her mother’s hand as the older woman performed a female circumcision. When I heard this story, I sat up on my bed in shock. This was a real thing? People did this to their daughters? How is this humane at all?


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The Birds and the Bees

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Story by: Madeline Baker

We all remember the scene from Mean Girls when Cady Heron, played by Lindsay Lohan, sits uncomfortably in her high school gym as her sex ed teacher explains, “Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant, and die.” We laugh at the absurdity of this claim and think “How could sex education be so erroneously preached?” Well, for many young Americans, the reality of a lack of quality sex education is far from a laughing matter. For decades, sex education has remained a controversial topic within school districts. Whether schools should even provide education on sexual health or leave it up to the discretion of the parents or guardians is widely debated. Uncertainty and misinformation still circulates around schools across the United States, begging the question: How can sex education be improved for young adults across the country?

I attended a very conservative, Catholic high school in South Texas. My high school’s policy was abstinence, and because the school was privately funded, sex education was completely out of the question. For the first couple years of high school, I was convinced that everyone around me followed this policy and went about their merry way not having sex. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school, when a friend asked me to accompany her to the drugstore to buy condoms, that I realized this policy of abstinence-until-marriage was futile. Telling an auditorium full of teenagers with raging hormones not to have sex was like telling hungry 4-year-olds not to eat the candy laid out before them. The candy was there, and they were going to take it. Looking back, I realize how naive I was to think that out of the 350 students at my school, NO ONE was having sex. This obliviousness was also accompanied by a lack of knowledge concerning all things birth control. I had no idea how to use a condom, nor could I name more than two STDs. Everything I had learned about sex, which was hardly anything, had come from watching reruns of Degrassi (shoutout to my boy Drake).

My experience, however comical, is not unique. For many middle school and high school aged students in the United States, the policy of abstinence-until-marriage is the only sex education they will receive before graduating high school and entering a less sheltered, and often more sex positive reality. According to the Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), over the past five years, Congress has spent over $1.5 billion on abstinence-until-marriage programs, yet no study in a professional peer reviewed journal has found these programs to be broadly effective. So what does that mean for those students receiving this type of sex education? They remain in the dark about preventative measures for unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.


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