EDITORIAL: Take your personal safety seriously

For years, a number of appealing qualities have attracted prospective students to EC. For starters, we have a beautiful campus nestled within a bustling community rich with great restaurants and decent bars. Our neighbors consist of dog-friendly locals and yoga moms that frequent the quad for their daily dose of exercise. Generally speaking, Elmhurst exudes an atmosphere in which students feel safe. 

Lately, the surge of burglaries and carjackings that have taken place lead us to feel otherwise. 

With the frequency of school shootings in our nation at its peak, schools like Elmhurst College should recognize that its campus is just as likely as any other to find itself in the wake of a serious threat and that it is perhaps time to reevaluate its seemingly lax attitude on safety.

Laptops lay unattended on library tables, backpacks lay strewn across Founders Lounge, and doors are left ajar in dormitory halls. 

And for many that level of comfort is understandable. After all many students come from areas with far higher crime rates than than this small affluent suburb, but security must always be valued no matter where you are.

Anyone that has walked through the doors of the fitness center can attest to the fact that pretty much anyone can walk into most campus facilities without being questioned, even if they do not have permission to be there.

While other college campuses are no different,  students should not need a slew of recent burglaries, carjackings, and other perceived threats to kick them into a state of heightened security. It should be on every student at a personal level to look out for their own security as well as the security of their fellow EC community members.

Without a doubt, many tragedies have been prevented with the substantial increase in faculty and staff lockdown training in high schools throughout the U.S. 

In order to tackle these holes in security, we believe that the school should provide resources for students that educate on self defense, safer protocols in the event of an armed shooter on campus, and safety etiquette that all students should adhere to.

Sure these are demonstrated in online crash courses, a few RA meetings, and the occasional class hosted by a student club but we believe that these resources should be offered during accessible times and places such as protected hour at Founders Lounge. 

What’s equally important is that we students should actively participate in these classes so that we can reach this sort of collectively safety conscious environment.

EC is a fairly open access system and while we shouldn’t be coddled and install metal detectors on campus, perhaps it is also just as pertinent that the school be more aware of who enters our buildings.

In addition to this, it should also be easier for students to report emergencies directly to campus security, especially when danger is immediate. Currently, the blue emergency pillars are very sparse and spread out far across campus. 

If more of these pillars were installed in more densely populated areas of campus, it could do wonders for the perceived safety of many students on campus, especially in a year when the first month of the year alone has already yielded 11 school shootings in the US.

Ultimately, the responsibility of security is a joint venture between both the students and faculty as well as campus security. No one can watch your back at all times, but we should still be able to depend on each other to feel protected as a community. 

COLUMN: Chivalry is dead, and that’s okay

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor

With the approach of Valentine’s Day in mind, disheartened girls lament the death of chivalry. 

They ask, “Whatever happened to the guys that pay for dinner, that shower them with expensive bouquets, and take them out on lavish trips?” 

Quite frankly, I find these rare male species a remnant of patriarchal times and while being a gentleman is certainly a desirable characteristic, men shouldn’t have to be held up to a certain set of standards in order to show their appreciation of their significant other.

As young girls, we idolized Disney princesses who, despite their beauty and intelligence, depended upon a powerful young man to save the day. 

This damsel-in-distress and prince charming dynamic, while overplayed, continues to dominate  pop culture well into our adulthood and we see this today with the popularity of movies like “50 Shades of Gray” in which a rich and powerful young man swoons the doe-eyed innocent girl.

Prince charming does not exist, he never did. He was merely an idea we were taught to believe in. 

Now in our early 20s, I think we can all acknowledge that relationships are more complex than they are portrayed in movies. 

We are all flawed creatures and as much as social media creates this impression of the perfect man or the perfect couple, the lengths at which couples take to reach a healthy and happy relationship are things that are wholly unrepresented in pop culture. Mostly because they are unpleasant.

Real couples argue and people are flawed. In my perspective, it’s completely unfair and wishful thinking to compare your significant other to a slew of unattainable standards commonly portrayed by fictional 2D characters.

Real men are not comparable to a Nicholas Spark’s male character. Mostly because they don’t exist. Do away with the fantasy of the chiseled abs, the handyman who would build a house for you, and the guy who only has eyes for one woman.

You can’t expect someone to give you the world. Rather, appreciate that they chose to give you a part of themselves that no one else has.

While the notion of chivalry continues to place men on this unattainable pedestal, it does much harm to women as well. Young girls should be taught to believe in their autonomy and to be confident in their ability to be successful individuals. 

These ridiculous heteronormative norms are harmful on both ends of the spectrum. We expect our partners to fit this limited existence and that is perhaps why commitment proves challenging in our generation. Our expectations get the best of us and that is perhaps why relationships feel so volatile.

Ladies, you can take your man out to an expensive dinner too. You can also spoil them with lavish gifts and take them out on exciting dates. 

This Valentine’s Day, offer to split the tab, take part in planning the evening as opposed to expecting the man to plan everything out. You shouldn’t feel unappreciated if he doesn’t have everything totally planned out. 

Obviously it’s normal to expect of kindness, respect, maturity, and loyalty from your significant other. But relationships are a two-way street, and these expectations shouldn’t be limited to men.

COLUMN: Don’t abandon platonic love

By Noah Pearson, Columnist

By Noah Pearson, Columnist

Valentine’s day can end up being one of the most fun or most miserable day of the year. So many of us get a chance to hold our loved ones close but so many of us are also forgotten. 

This year, while cuddling with your boo by the fire, don’t forget to let a lonely homie know that you love them. 

Platonic love, basic kinship, simply being friends, is too often forgotten and sometimes even seen as taboo. We reserve intimacy of any kind for our romantic partners and while this makes sense to an extent, who is to say we can’t have both? Why should there be shame in letting people we care about know that we do in fact care?

Romantic love is the most marketed and most palatable. It is easier to see a couple that fits within our limited definition of love publicly broadcast their love. Platonic pairs of people are not granted the same freedom even in small degrees. 

When two friends share a moment or express affection, more often than not, observers are confused and sometimes even uncomfortable. 

It’s time for this stigma to end.

When Valentine’s day comes around, enjoy the designated time with your significant other, but consider remembering your currently single ride or die friend who means everything to you, and tell them. 

Every late night heart to heart, every inside joke, all the ugly screenshots from snapchat, the walks to and from school, all of the distracted study sessions, and all the happy moments we spend with our friends mean so much to us. There is no reason that we should not celebrate these moments too. 

According to Suicide Prevention of the Central Coast, Valentine’s day/season show the highest suicide rates of any time of year in the country. 

While no one should feel responsible for these statistics, it never hurts to do our part in making sure all of our loved ones are taken care of. 

Dating is not an easy thing to do. Healthy relationships take work and for many of us it may be easy to love someone, but that isn’t always enough to keep a relationship alive. 

In those troublesome times we don’t necessarily start searching for new romantic endeavors, but consult our friends. 

Our friends are their despite the roughest moments. There are no strings and there are no conditions. There are no constructs and there are no games. All there is, is one of the purest and most wholesome forms of love we have. 

By denying ourselves access to this platonic love, all we do is hurt ourselves and our friends. 

Whether or not you are in a relationship, sometimes it is still hard to tell someone that you appreciate them being in your life. However, you never know how a simple confession of an already existing but unspoken feeling can change a person’s day for the better. In times like these, a single good day could save a life. 

It’s time that simply telling the truth stops being a controversial issue. Friends sometimes are the only reason we can get by and keeping that feeling inside, or pretending it doesn’t exist in the first place is a dated and problematic practice. 

Being afraid of our feelings doesn’t help any of us. Use Valentine’s day as a chance to make a change in your life and the life of someone you love. 

COLUMN: Blundered by the binary

By Roxanne Timan, Managing Editor Follow her at @Roxlobster

By Roxanne Timan, Managing Editor

Follow her at @Roxlobster

Spring semester is now in full swing, and with that comes the return of neighbors on campus and old friends. I knock on the door to my neighbor I haven’t seen all break, we hug and he lets me inside. My tank top exposes my fuzzy, thick arms, and we take a moment to flex for his female guests like a couple of guys from a 1950s muscle beach scene. It felt good to swoon the ladies, especially in a masculine way.

I am not a man, I don’t know what I am, really. All I know is I am comfortable in making the world uncomfortable and we all should be.

Last semester, after writing a column about the Kevin Spacey controversy, I was misinterpreted as coming out as a gay man. As much as some people found this humorous, I was shaken because I suddenly thought that my comfort of men’s clothing, scuffed army boots, and a beer clutched in my hand was pulled from underneath me. Underneath it all, I am biologically female, but that doesn’t mean I must be a “woman” or whatever comes with having a vulva.

Our society is fixated on a binary to help us feel secure about our gender roles. We strive so much to put one another into boxes, even from our childhood of boy-girl lines in elementary schools. I’m sure we have all had that moment of being in the supermarket, seeing someone whose gender is unclear, and it makes us nervous. Why do we care so much about something that doesn’t directly involve us?

The tinge of happiness of male coworkers and friends telling me “thanks man,” “dude.” etc. I cringe at the ideas of being called “girlie” or “sweetie.” I don’t skip a beat even when being misgendered as “sir” in my whites behind the meat counter. 

It’s much easier to stick to putting people in a boy/girl box, but easier does not mean better. We love to define people, it is in our nature, but we can pull away from it and recognize the person for being a person. 

The year is 2018 and I challenge those who live comfortably within gender norms to branch out if you want to. To make those around you “uncomfortable” at your own happiness. They will just have to learn to deal. It’s okay to be grey in a black and white binary, but I would much rather be flannel-patterned myself.

So, that’s really it. I am Roxanne, and I really don’t know who or what I want to be, but it’s not something I am afraid of anymore. I think one of the most important quotes to mention is from the film Good Burger, “I’m a dude, he’s a dude, she’s a dude, we’re all dudes, hey!”

COLUMN: Mark Sailing’s death highlights a bigger issue

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

On Jan. 30, Mark Salling, former star on the popular TV show “Glee,” was found dead in the woods near his home in Los Angeles. His cause of death was asphyxia by hanging. In December 2015, Salling was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography. Over 50,000 images were found on his computer and flash drive. Many “Glee” fans, including myself, felt betrayed by this news and his suicide made matters all the more profound.

Salling was looking to face 4-to-7 years in prison and was to give the victims and their families $50,000 each in restitution. Victims now, however, will have to go after his $2 million estate since the case has been dismissed following his death.

Many could argue that Salling’s life was essentially over anyway, for even if he got through prison, his career as an actor would be over and no one would want to associate with him. What Salling did is definitely horrible and unforgivable - and reasonably so. Nonetheless, I believe that a smidge of compassion is needed for him. His problems were not the root of evil, but of mental issues that failed to be addressed.

Pedophilia is an issue that people have a hard time talking about and it is completely understandable why. Even when the issue is brought up, it is usually after something happens - when it is too late. When there is already a victim. Or victims.

I believe there is a way to address and even attempt to fix this issue before it goes too far. Pedophilia is classified as a psychiatric disorder and, like many other psychiatric disorders, has treatments such as therapy and medication. If pedophiles were able to get help for their sexual urges towards children, there would be less of a chance for instances of children getting involved to act on these urges.

However, most pedophiles keep their problems hush-hush, just as Salling did, and that is no surprise. Being a pedophile is a very shameful thing that one would not want people to know about. There is no getting help and no hope in improving the lives of the people affected by this if they cannot open up. They cannot help themselves; matters can only get way worse, as it did when it led to Salling’s ultimate demise.

This is why we need to change the environment around talking about this subject. It is never going to be a good or common topic to talk about, but bringing forth this conversation may be the only way people like Mark Salling could get help. We need to treat pedophilia like the disease that it is and encourage pedophiles to get the help they need to not only help themselves, but lessen the amount of people who would be victimized. People who were victims of such sexual abuse often turn into abusers themselves. Without some sort of solution, the cycle will never end.

When the news broke out that Salling passed away, there was no #RIPMarkSalling around social media. For the most part, there was no mourning his death as there was when his co-star and friend Cory Monteith died back in July 2013. Only a handful of Salling’s “Glee” colleagues mentioned anything about him or the issue at hand. Many did not feel sorry for him and some even went as far as to celebrate his death. Barely any words defended his mental health.

I am not asking the world to forgive Mark Salling or any pedophile that victimized children as Salling had. He made the choice to not get help for his urges and to act on them instead. It is okay to be angry with him. In order to lower the chances of something like this happening again, we need to create a world where everyone, no matter the issue, can not feel discouraged from getting treatment with their mental health problems.  

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Former Leader Editor expresses thoughts on "Body Positivity stops at Obesity" column


{To the Editorial Department}

Marielle Decena’s column is almost too rudimentary and simple minded to deserve a response. But I felt it was important for me to weigh in (see what I did there?).

Right off the bat, Decena tells us she has no intention of using the Power of Google. Forever 21 and the like are notoriously horrible at representing anyone who isn’t skinny, cisgender, and white. I am not sure where she decided fat people are glamorized or do not experience oppression?

Her own account of “imperfections” literally list characteristics she shares with fat people. Yet somehow this country is TOO ACCEPTING?

Don’t worry Marielle, your utopia is alive and well - fat bodies are still marginalized, put down, not taken seriously, and the subject of many poorly written unhelpful articles by journalists just like you!

Also, did Decena ever consider looking into the history of the body positivity movement? If so, she found that it has strong roots in the 1960’s push for FAT LIBERATION. So please don't write about a movement you know nothing about and try to exclude the actual founders and purpose of the movement.

It’s the whole damn point of the body positivity movement to liberate the bodies that are marginalized - not to further break down and compartmentalize who deserves liberation or self love.

My own weight aside, I would like to share with Decena that I worked for a year in a residential treatment facility with adolescents suffering from eating disorders. Some of them were never fat, but all of them feared that reality. All of them feared waking up one day and, well, looking like me. It takes countless months of difficult cognitive restructuring to reframe the mind to see the body as acceptable, and this shitty column is perpetuating the exact cultural ideals pushing people into crisis. Treatments for mental health conditions related to perceptions of the body don’t involve jogging on a treadmill; it involves embracing a whole new perspective on the function of a body. It breaks away from the physical health model in favor of an inegrated mental wellness focus.

I want to proclaim for anyone personally hurt by Decena’s column - you deserve to love yourself now. Right now. As you are. And your loved ones deserve love and appreciation and respect. Right now. We all have different reasons behind our weight, and no one has the right to tell you how to live your life.

(Example: antipsychotics are a life saving medication for many, with a side effect of extreme weight gain. But they should be miserable instead of loving their larger bodies?)

The body positivity movement isn’t encouraging people to be fat, it is embracing those who are, were, or may be fat at some point in their life. Regardless if there is a reason or not.

Clearly there is still work to be done, based on this column alone. I worry for the future if our exercise science department is indoctrinating fat phobic judgmental future professionals.

I hope Decena never goes to the doctor for a serious health problem and gets told “it’s just because you’re overweight” for years before the actual cause is found. I hope no one ever takes photos of her to post as jokes online. I hope her body is never the subject of a poorly written column.

But most of all, I hope she engages in more self education before entering into her field. It is this rhetoric that makes the health and fitness industry largely inaccessible to fat people. We don’t want to show up to lose weight, but some of us are interested in marveling at the beauty of all our bodies can do.

Fat bodies can be healthy, fat bodies can be sexual, fat bodies can be flexible, and fat bodies deserve liberation. Thin bodies can be unhealthy, thin bodies can be sick, and all bodies are good bodies as long as they’re not hurting anyone else.

In the meantime, all 280 pounds of my body will be working diligently to build a better future for those who don’t get enough space.


Oh and also, #effyourbeautystandards

Chrissy Croft

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Reader shares response to "Body Positivity stops at Obesity" column


To the editorial department,

I am writing to share my surprise, disappointment, and confusion over the most recent opinion piece by Marielle Decena, "COLUMN:Body positivity stops at obesity." In 2017, under a Trump administration that incessantly demoralizes and marginalizes women in this country; at a time when #MeToo is so much more than just another hashtag; during a moment in history when the harsh realities of middle- and lower-class females all over the world, from their lack of access to to quality medical care and nutrition, are only beginning to be seriously discussed; how is it appropriate, responsible, or even relevant to nay-say body positivity?

Of course, an opinion piece is, in fact, opinion, I understand. And no doubt even the most immature, short-sighted, and utterly ignorant opinion column can be defended as free speech. But is this an opinion that warrants defense? I'd say surely not. 

Decena attempts, I think, to make the point that the concept of body positivity has been marketed/exploited by the media and retailers to attract the "plus-size" demographic. She states, "Yes, it is important to see the beauty in every woman’s body but in order to take full stride in empowering women, we shouldn’t be so fixated on what others deem as physically attractive. The words “thick” and “curvy,” in my perspective, do not resonate any sort of valuable measure of one’s worth. In the end, these are mere exploitive descriptions of what is sexually pleasing to the eye." 

Any "style" or "lifestyle" that is embraced by commercialism is in essence exploited for monetary gain, I agree. However,  Decena refuses to acknowledge the shift in power, authority, and ownership that has occurred in women reclaiming words like "thick" and "curvy" from being ironic to being worthy of pride. She implies, not so tactfully throughout the entirety of the piece, that "plus-size" and "unhealthy" are interchangeable terms, and never once recognizes that one's BMI is not always one's choice. In fact, by making the assumption that every woman chooses to either be healthy or "thick," Decena reinforces a slew of harmful stereotypes and biases against women. 

Decena writes, "Coming from a family that has had a history of health issues resulting from obesity, I can acknowledge that... Others live in areas that don’t have the best access to healthy food, preventative health care, and the necessary nutritional education... In some cases,  obesity is correlated to depression, anxiety, and a multitude of psychological problems. Still, our role as loved ones is not to allow obese individuals to believe that their physical states are something to be proud of and to ignore the seriousness of their condition. Taking pride in sedentary lifestyles and eating whatever we please spreads the wrong message." 

How is it acceptable for Decena to support her argument for promoting physical health over body positivity in women by outright discounting legitimate socio/economic factors that contribute to obesity in favor of classic fat-shaming techniques?! This is where opinion writing becomes something else entirely. 

I must also point out that Decena actively and intentionally distinguishes herself from as she calls them, "obese individuals." She addresses an audience whom she assumes is not "thick or curvy," speaking to thin people while talking at obese women. 

What about this opinion piece is valuable or constructive? What aspects of this overtly biased and self-indulgent essay serve to challenge readers' views for the better? Isn't that the point of an opinion column, anyway? 

The only thing I gain from it is an insight into Decena's own conflicted ideas of self-image and identity. She reveals a bully and a coward, attempting to deny agency and self-ownership from an entire community of women by proclaiming that there is only one right way to "woman." 

One of millions of individual women,

Janelle Eckardt

COLUMN: People Need Many People

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

People. You can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them. Now more than ever us humans are getting on each other’s nerves, and it is just adding to all of the turmoil. Sure, there may be the selected few in our lives that we can fully tolerate; however, it is just not enough anymore. In order to truly make a difference, we need the numbers and for many people to finally work together and get on the same page.

Even though sometimes we may not all get along, standing together is important now more than ever--yet it seems hopeless. We all have so many conflicting opinions that it may seem impossible to find people who agree with anything we have to say. Though there are certain people who make us want to completely dissociate from the human race, we still need each other to grow and provoke change.

Good socialization is a crucial skill to have as both students in college and as future employees in the job market. More often than not, we are and will be forced to work with other people, both those we agree with and those who we disagree with it. While it may be troubling at times, most of the time it all works out. If you can make something happen with a group of people in a school or workplace setting for a grade or a paycheck, why not do it for a change?

I like to believe every person we interact with has some sort of impact on our lives as a whole. When times get hard and we just want to hate everyone, it is important to remember that it’s essentially other people who shape us into who we are. Parents raise us and teach us how to be. The friends we choose to surround ourselves with determine who to be. Hopefully, the jobs we have help in discovering what we want to be.

It seems, especially in this day and age, that more people don’t get along than those that do. It seems like two sides are raging against each other so much that there is no hope in anybody ever agreeing on anything ever again. It sometimes makes me want to give up on people, and it makes me believe that the world would be so much better if all I had to worry about was myself.

But it can’t be like that.

A single person cannot create a change. One person’s voice does not make that much of a difference. They need people, many many people to make a sound worth listening to. It helps tremendously when people can rally behind a cause to get stuff done.

Maybe some of those involved with running the country (and even the world) cannot work with others for the life of them, but that does not mean the rest of us cannot set aside our differences to make the changes we so desperately need.

It takes more than one vote in the polls. It takes a sea of black dresses on the TV and a sea of uterus hats on the streets. It takes many legs to march. It takes a battlefield of willing soldiers to win the war.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you are a “people person,” you should still be somebody’s family, somebody’s friend, somebody’s co-worker, and most definitely somebody’s ally. With a force of many people working together, we can do anything.

COLUMN: Pulling Art from the Artist


By Roxanne Timan, Managing Editor

Follow her at @Roxlobster

Lately, people have been expressing how they feel disheartened and disappointed about Aziz Ansari and his actions that recently came to light. He has changed the game of comedy, but he has been accused of being a sexual predator by women online.

The recent influx of “naming and shaming” has put patrons of the arts into a tailspin - do you choose to step away from all content these people have ever created, or just recognize that they are unsavory people and move on to looking at the art for what it is?

Lets face it, our generation thrives on finding the problematic in Hollywood. Some more severe than others, yes. Victims deserve to be respected by their testimonies against those in the spotlight. However, when are we allowed to pull the art from the artist?

There are two clear options: cut all those accused of sexual misconduct out of your artistic taste, or choose to recognize that some films and movies may include shitty people, but does not equate to a shitty movie. Does either one make you more of a saint? No. The entertainment industry is built on a messy foundation, it is impossible to completely omit those who do wrong from our movie and music intake.

I am not asking for you to choose a side as much as I’m asking you to be consistent with your choices. If you choose to boycott artists for what they have done, then you are making a decision that should spread to not just the latest person to hate, but all Hollywood moguls who have been accused of misconduct.

In no way do I condone these kinds of behavior from Weinstein to Ansari, but that is not the point of wanting to listen to a song or a movie - it’s beyond their heinous actions. If we took out all Hollywood actors who have done these types of crimes, we would be honestly surprised about how much we would have to pull out of our culture.

There is a difference in being entertained than supporting a sexual predator. Not every movie going experience should be a PC judgement call, and flipping through radio stations should not make someone feel guilty for liking a song. Unless you are directly saying you condone these ideals, your taste in artistic content is up to you as a person, just try to keep yourself consistent before you judge.


EDITORIAL: Shitty Leaders Make Shitty Countries

We’re sure you’ve all heard about President Trump’s latest commentary on Haiti, El Salvador, and Uganda as so-called “shithole countries.” This isn’t surprising to say the least. Our president’s transparently racist rhetoric shined brightly during his anti-immigrant campaign, raising the eyebrows of the rest of the world.

While we collectively cringe with embarrassment, our nation’s leader has taken it upon himself to deny immigrants any sort of dignity once again.

Yet, what it it exactly that makes a shithole country?

For starters, a shithole country is one in which one percent of the population have influence over 30 percent of the nation’s wealth while 40 million impoverished citizens live in subpar conditions.

A shithole country has among the world’s most expensive healthcare systems, yet proves inefficient in providing basic health care to its impoverished citizens.

A shithole country is one that still has an entertainment industry we have idolized for decades that happens to be filled with pedofiles and rapists. We knew about them, and we didn’t care.

A shithole country is one in which its head Olympic doctor for gymnastics sexually assaulted young female athletes and had taken years to place this predator on trial.

A shithole country is a developed country that has the reputation of neglecting the rights of women, leading to the highest rates of preventable maternal death rates, unmandated paid maternity leave, and a narrow-minded push to keep female reproductive rights inaccessible.

A shithole country labels itself as “the land of opportunity” only to trap immigrants in a life of marginalization and constant suffering.

A shithole country is one that is ranked with one of the highest rates of domestic terrorism amongst its western counterparts. According to Newsweek, Americans comprise of the largest group of gun-owning citizens yet we make up one third of the world’s mass shootings.

A shithole country possesses the largest number of incarcerated citizens while its literacy rates ranked 45th in the world.

A shithole country wishes to build a wall in an attempt to isolate itself from its neighbors while also demanding those same neighbors to pay for it.

Perhaps we should point out that the most repulsive shithole of all does not exist on any map of the globe, but smack dab in the mouth that denies immigrants of their humanity, their happiness.

President Trump chooses to see through this narrow telescope when he should really be pointing the magnifying glass at his very own backyard. His rise into our country’s highest seat of power not only served as delightful stab in the heart of minorities, immigrants, and women but served as a reminder that our country is by no means deserving of any sort of appraise.

Yes, every country has its shortcomings and vices. The U.S is home to more than 300 million people who want nothing but life, liberty, and happiness. Still, as much as we boast and yearn for America to be a beacon of greatness and opportunity, Trump’s America just won’t cut it.


COLUMN: All Skinfolk ain't Kinfolk


By Noah Pearson, Columnist

This is an open letter to the Black Community of Elmhurst. It’s a simple message we have all heard before, but many of us have trouble keeping up. “All Skinfolk ain’t Kinfolk” is just our way of saying that just because you might be black doesn’t mean you represent the community in positive light.

All over this campus there exists an apathy among many members of the black community that refuse to name our oppressor, and even get angry when someone does try to disrupt their convenient narrative.

For example, the population of black students in the EC Black Student Union is diminishing. I have been asked, by black students, that for their sake I should tone down my pride in my blackness.

When I or my black siblings on this campus create programming to celebrate ourselves or to feel happy about our own skin, we are told we are being divisive.

Because of their insecurity, we are asked to suffer.

While EC might be a relatively safe environment for members of many different communities, there are too many black folk who have stories of overt discrimination from their white peers, and too many black folk who accuse them of being too self righteous or even “too black.”

It is time for those of us who are proud of who we are to stop protecting the feelings of skinfolk who attack us for it.

Building community should be first priority at a predominately white institution, but that becomes difficult when parts of a communities members refuse to allow this to happen. Even if skinfolk don’t want to be kinfolk, it is unfair for them to make it anymore difficult on us.  

Why should so many devoted black students and faculty members put effort into protecting our “kinfolk” when some of our “kinfolk” are too embarrassed to even admit that they are skinfolk?

While it may seem counterintuitive to cut off members of our community while trying to build it, constant rejection from our skinfolk becomes too tiring.

We have so much to offer and we can’t do it alone, however at some point our energy is taken away from our true community, and given to ungrateful skinfolk who want nothing to do with it.

Of course, educating our peers and leading them on the road to self actualization is essential, but at some point, denial of one’s own blackness becomes too much of an obstacle and too much labor for one self loving black individual.

The constant accusations of our self expression being divisive are growing too high in numbers and are becoming less and less excusable.

Black culture is a vibrant, diverse, and sometimes loud subculture in America. When black students try to explore this they should not be shamed.

We cannot always be palatable to every nonblack student and frankly most of them will never understand. However, in being proud, in being unapologetic, in being “too black” is when we create kinfolk from skinfolk and from that, we create community.

It is unfortunate that for whatever reason some skinfolk deny themselves their birthright, their history, their connection to what is the arguably the most diverse collection of cultures within a single racial group, but no longer should the expectation be that the rest of the black community carry their burden.

This is a challenge to every member of the Black Community at EC to be critical of their own interactions with the community, as well as the interactions of the people they surround themselves with. Are you proud of who you are? Are you ashamed? In moments of pride are you told to tone it down by other skinfolk? Can you love yourself without fear of judgement from your skinfolk? Are you quick to judge your skinfolk for loving themselves?

This is a new year. We are fortunate enough to reign back in the school year with Black History Month, a legislated time of year dedicated to connecting to our roots and supporting each other.
Take this month to respect yourself. Surround yourself with skinfolk that undoubtedly and proudly is kinfolk. Settling for less at this point is only hurting you. Happy Black History Month.

COLUMN: Pray the Anti-Gay away

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor Follow her @_marsbarz23

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor
Follow her @_marsbarz23

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor
Follow her @_marsbarz23


Less than a month ago, New York deemed conversion therapy an unlawful practice. Perhaps the most startling aspect of this news was the fact that practice still even exists.

Why had New York taken so long to cease a practice that seems rather archaic, medieval, and contrary to popular belief?

In my quest to find answers, I was repulsed to find that conversion therapy, alternatively referred to as reparative therapy, remains legal within an astonishing 41 states and the frequency of its use is expected to climb within the coming years. Yes, you read that right.

Do we not live in the 21st century?

By definition, conversion therapy equates to forcibly changing a gay individuals sexual orientation through psychological and spiritual means. The methodology enacted upon  LGBTQ youths bears much resemblance to what you’d expect to see in movies like “A Clockwork Orange.”

Harrowing details described by New York Times’ columnist, Sam Brinton, provide accounts of being bound, electrocuted, and verbally abused while being forced to watch gay porn.This is a testament of the fact that individuals like Brinton have or will have experienced an overtly inhumane practice supported by discredited science.

Professional health organizations such as the American Medical Health Association and the American Psychological Association have outwardly condemned the practice, deeming it detrimental to the emotional and psychological well-being of LGBTQ youths.

Despite efforts of introducing bills that outlaw conversion therapy by states such as Virginia, Arizona, Washington, and Missouri, many roadblocks remain in terms of the utter obliviousness of lawmakers who can’t fathom the existence of its use.

According to The Independent, more than 20,000 minors are expected to undergo such a barbaric practice by a licensed therapist, a priest, or a parent. Within our own country, 700,000 individuals have gone through conversion therapy at some point in their lives, a majority of which had been adolescents.

Coming from a background that was freely accepting of the LGBTQ community, I have never been and might never be scrutinized for my bisexuality. Yet, my exposure to such an accepting community has left me sheltered and is precisely why I have failed to become a better advocate for human rights.

In my mind, it is a commonly held ethic to acknowledge that a person’s sexual orientation should not be placed under any label of mental disorders. We are not a case study, a byproduct of psychological trauma, or a sin one can pray away.

I shouldn’t have to restate what is so overtly obvious. Yet, states like New Hampshire have actively sought to reject a bill seeking to ban conversion therapy.

Though many of our major cities are known for its vibrant LGBTQ communities, I am well aware that hateful ideologies continue to fester against anyone who does not fit the white heterosexual identity and the laws surrounding these practices simply entertain these views.

Ideally, I’d like to witness all 50 states ban this practice within the coming years. Despite the present political climate and its apathy towards the LGBTQ community, I strongly believe that this is something we will see in our lifetime.

Support campaigns such as #BornPerfect that seek to provide legal resources for LGBTQ adolescents, sign petitions that voice your outcry, and educate your peers on the alarming presence of this issue.

This doesn’t require any sort of special status to accomplish, in numbers we have the capacity to make laws happen. It merely takes action. Don’t waste your breath in trying to change the minds of people who are so set in their deranged values when you can change laws that give room for anti-gay rhetoric.




EDITORIAL: Better to write a column than a comment

The plethora of jabs and criticisms The Leader has received in response to our latest sports column which commented on the music program, has certainly stirred a conundrum. Scrolling through The Leader’s website and Facebook page, the apparent backlash has been epitomized by the one star ratings and multitudes of sparked commentary, a majority of which have been made by members of the music department. 

Amidst the passionate outcry, we were disappointed to find that not a single letter to the editor had been sent, a platform we have encouraged the student body to utilize and put forth their opinions, especially the ones that they feel strongly about.

If you feel that this platform is not sufficient enough, we encourage you to join us.

Believe it or not, The Leader is very much YOUR student newspaper as much as it is ours. Your tuition dollars go towards each and every publication. As such, take the opportunity to be involved in the informative voice in one way or another. Every Tuesday during protected hour, we open our doors to the myriad of opinions and ideas of the student body in order to function as an informative and influential body.

Each and every member of the student body has an equal opportunity to vote or run for positions in our yearly editorial board elections. In fact, each and every single member of our editorial board is comprised of students who started out as curious staff writers with the intention of making a difference.

Your input as the student body is what keeps the wheels turning and allows us to manifest unsurfaced issues into print. Regardless of the individual opinions generated by members of our opinions section, each and every one of you have an equal opportunity to express your own opinions, whether it be in agreement or disagreement.

We must acknowledge that the nature of our student body always presents itself to be divided in some sort of way and perhaps there is really no way to diffuse this phenomenon. At least not in this time of heightened political and social polarity.

Every single publication of The Leader is comprised of the works of students coming from various backgrounds and majors, thus differences in thought are inevitable. Still, this difference in thought, as we have advocated in the past, is what promotes dialogue and conversation within our very own small community. 

There are far more influential means of putting forth one’s assertions beyond a mere Facebook page, behind the anonymity of the internet, and temporary snapchats that will soon be forgotten with the passage of time. 

In the years to come, we will no longer be college-aged adults within this small community. Soon enough, the world will become much larger and riddled with the complexities of different opinions over decisions and legislation that will reign on various aspects of our livelihood.

The first step to becoming active and influential members is to practice participation, involvement, and taking initiative. As a generation with the lowest voter turnout rates, we need to do better, and that starts with abandoning the misconception that our proliferate Facebook usage will even make a dent of an impact over much larger issues.

The Leader meets in Old Main room 107 every Tuesday during protected hour. No journalism experience is required to join. All are welcome.

COLUMN:Body positivity stops at obesity

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor

Today we have grown familiar with companies like Aerie, ASOS, Forever 21, and H&M, who proudly shine their light on models of various shapes and sizes, encouraging young women to start their journey towards embracing their natural bodies and practicing self-love.

Without a doubt, the body positivity movement has had a sweeping effect on the body images of many young women in western cultures.  For the most part, destigmatizing imperfection has ultimately proved positive, however, it has also given room for the glamorization of of a modern western epidemic:


Too often, those who’ve addressed this problem are more than likely to be confronted with backlash and are deemed as “callous,” “insulting,” or “judgemental.” 

This needs to stop.

As an exercise science major, I’m going to have to burst some bubbles. The whole notion of “body positivity” has more so become a scapegoat for poor life decisions and an abhorrence for criticism. 

Being a woman within western culture, I myself have grown tired of the pressure to conform to this set of unattainable body standards. I can look into the mirror and  list a slew of “imperfections” that riddle my body. My legs, short and muscular, are unlike the long and slender legs that walk the victoria’s secret fashion show. My stubborn belly pudge is a stark example of the chiseled abs of nearly every fitness instagrammer I can think of. And my arms, a tad bit fuller than that of movie stars that strut the red carpet. 

Like others, the journey towards self acceptance will inevitably come with a set of struggles. We’ve all undertaken the misguided path of excessive exercising and poor diets and in the end, we’ve learned that achieving aesthetically pleasing bodies is not the solution to self-love.

Still, the true state of self-love involves self care. We can’t simply spread this message if we place so much weight on campaigns such as “#effyourbeautystandards” whose members outwardly bash the whole notion of health. 

The world’s first plus sized model and founder of “#effyourbeautystandards, Tessa Holliday stated, “If you want someone to preach health over self-love, I’m not your girl.”

Yes, it is important to see the beauty in every woman’s body but in order to take full stride in empowering women, we shouldn’t be so fixated on what others deem as physically attractive. The words “thick” and “curvy,” in my perspective, do not resonate any sort of valuable measure of one’s worth. In the end, these are mere exploitive descriptions of what is sexually pleasing to the eye. 

We should have the responsibility to be active, to have well-rounded diets, and to view our bodies as temples while refraining from viewing these efforts as some sort of pressure to appease the expectations of others. 

Obesity is characterized by a set of detrimental physical states that can prove life-threatening and the last thing we should do is to categorize this condition as “natural” and point a middle finger at health advocates who address this. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 36 percent of adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with obesity. It is a condition which has led to the prevalence of preventative diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, some of the leading causes of death in our country. 

Coming from a family that has had a history of health issues resulting from obesity, I can acknowledge that obesity does not merely result from the overconsumption of food. Others live in areas that don’t have the best access to healthy food, preventative health care, and the necessary nutritional education.

In some cases,  obesity is correlated to depression, anxiety, and a multitude of psychological problems. Still, our role as loved ones is not to allow obese individuals to believe that their physical states are something to be proud of and to ignore the seriousness of their condition 

Taking pride in sedentary lifestyles and eating whatever we please spreads the wrong message. 

Body positivity includes a plethora of things that go beyond the mere physical appearance of an individual. It also involves a myriad of healthy life choices that allow us to become our best selves.

True female empowerment should derive from our efforts to be healthy, yet our current motives for body acceptance are too fixated on the notion of aesthetic beauty. In light of this, it is perhaps more important to set aside our fear of diving into touchy subjects and to look our loved ones in the eye and tell them that they need to better their life choices.

COLUMN:Let the music play

Noah Pearson, Columnist Follow them at @tbhimscared

Noah Pearson, Columnist

Follow them at @tbhimscared

This is a challenge to the entire E.C. student and faculty body that does not take any advantage of the music programming that the school offers to start doing so. 

Some non-majors have gone so far as to not show up to music events, and then criticise the music majors for not participating in sporting events that are completely removed from the diverse traditions and various curriculums of the music department. 

Overall, it’s pretty pathetic.

According to a column published in the last edition of The Leader, the football team does not appear intimidating and football games are boring due to the lack of a marching band. 

I’m sure these people know how to play football, but as a music major, it seems suspect to me that the lack of intimidation and spectacle at football games is the responsibility of a party that has nothing to do with football. It comes off as a cop out and uses the music department as a scapegoat. 

It makes sense that someone in sports may not have an understanding of what makes our music program “internationally renowned,” but it is completely unfair for anyone who does not actively participate in music or even attend events to propose a dramatic change in how the program is run and offer baseless criticism that few in the music department care to hear. 

Our “internationally renowned” music program exists as well as a free invitation to every student at E.C. to attend.

One of the great, if not only, traditions of Elmhurst College is the magnitude of talent provided to the campus through the annual jazz fest.

Whether it be for education or for entertainment, whether they are jazz giants with multiple Grammy’s to name or a random Elmhurst College student, people in droves pack the chapel to be a part of a jazz fest that has proven to be a foundational part of what makes Elmhurst, Elmhurst. 

Throughout the entire year, students and guest artists work tirelessly to perfect their craft and provide entertaining and enriching music to E.C. and the greater Elmhurst community. Any given music major will participate in anywhere from 10 to 17 concerts in one semester.

Live music is a time honored tradition and among the best, if not the best way to hear and experience music. There is history, there is an authenticity that cannot be replicated through recordings.

As the director takes the stage both the audience roar with applause and the members of the ensemble stomp their feet. 

The director recognizes the group and takes a proud bow before the music begins and an eager silence washes over the crowd waiting for the downbeat and the ride to begin.

As the show goes on, the audience is taken through an emotional journey. Soloists stand proud at the end of every piece to have their talent recognized, audience members cheer, whistle, wipe tears, and stand as the group plays their last notes to one last time show their appreciation of the talent and work of the artists on stage. 

Close your eyes and you can imagine this exact scene taking place in auditoriums across the country.

This becomes difficult when you refuse to see it for yourself. 

E.C. is a school with exceptional musicians, exceptional directors, exceptional libraries, but an audience composed of very few people outside of the department. 

As a part of the curriculum, music majors are required to attend at least eight concerts a semester, which admittedly brings an audience to concerts that would not otherwise have a large turnout. However, due to the work that music majors put into their own ensembles, they recognize the importance of appreciating the work of their peers. Many music majors exceed the number of required concerts by the time the semester is over due to the fact that they enjoy watching their peers perform anyway.

The program is not represented because the student body refuses to take part in traditions actual musicians are very content in upholding. If you care about how the music department is represented, it is up to you to own up to your apathy and do something about it. 

COLUMN: Friendship doesn’t stop at 40

Roxanne Timan, Managing Editor Follow her at @Roxlobster

Roxanne Timan, Managing Editor

Follow her at @Roxlobster

I went out to another punk show this weekend, it’s something I do pretty often, nothing completely new. My friend Dom saw a friend he hadn’t seen in years and introduced me. She was real sweet but very honest. I’ve been friends with Dom for almost a year now, but she asked something no one has had the guts to ask me -

“How old are you?”

Dom is probably one of my best friends, he’s sweet, caring, punk as hell, and a great time to be around.

I guess I should also mention he is 42.

We as a society put so much weight on age that we limit who we socialize with just because of how others will see us. In the grand scheme of things, how much does that really matter?

Women my age are taught to be “afraid” of older men, that they are predisposed to prey on us or have an ulterior motive. Though we hear about these cases all the time, not everyone is out to get us.

When young women do spend time with older men, it’s some weird cradle-robbing experience, a “sugar baby” looking for their spending money, or just textbook “daddy issues.” However, we have a lot more in common than you would think.

We love beer, women, and music. We get lunch together and look to each other for advice. We get mistaken for daughter and father, and chuckle. 

Yes, this might be the same generation that calls us out for being “crybabies,” but most of them are still working on growing up just like we are. Age is truly a number in a platonic sense - the best middle-aged people are those who have no clue what they are doing with their lives.

 In the real world, we have to interact with people of all walks of life on a daily basis. Our coworkers might be much older than us, but that should not create a force field between our friendships.

Even one of the greatest mentors I have at this college is an old Santa-Claus doppelganger. His advice has been curated for decades compared to my college friends who know just as much as I do. Older friends are goldmines for wisdom and companionship if you take a moment to reach out to them.

We should not feel embarrassed about our unconventional friendships. We have a lot of cool things to teach them, like new drinking games and slang, and they have a lot of stories we can learn from.

COLUMN: Happy Christmas, Merry Holidays

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

Aren’t you glad that you didn’t get mad at the way your Starbucks holiday cup was designed this year? Okay, so maybe you were not one who detested the design, but it did cause an uproar a couple years back due to its endeavors into politically correct regions. The plain red cup attempted to be inclusive to all faiths by not being Christmas-oriented; however, the lack of anything festive decoration angered many people - especially Christians. 

Flash forward to this past October when President Trump exclaimed to the audience at a summit that America was going to “say Merry Christmas again.” Let me just make one thing clear, this is not going to be a politically driven piece. However, Trump’s recent remarks bring up an interesting viewpoint of how politically correct society has become over the years.

Now, being politically correct isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The purpose of being politically correct is to not offend anyone. And of course, it is ultimately a good thing to not offend others. It is a common assumption that because the majority of a population may be and/or believe in something, it is acceptable to group every single person as having being that and/or having that belief. For example, in Elementary School, I remember “holiday” parties being more Christmas-oriented filled with candy canes and decorated trees. While there may or may not have those who didn’t celebrate Christmas in my class, the festivities were nonetheless limited.

It’s not like school classrooms did this intentionally of course. Most of the time,  it is just easier to generalize. With how diverse some areas are, it is nearly impossible to accommodate  everyone. On the contrary - especially regarding the holiday party situation - some people, may not want to be singled out for being different from the majority even when they want their belief to be recognized. 

So what do we do? What can be done that is the most inclusive and least offensive? We could be like the 2015 Starbucks holiday cup and strip all holiday associations away. But as we saw with the controversy that ensued, that surely wouldn’t work, for it’s not really inclusive. And what’s the fun in such plainness? Obviously, we also cannot just celebrate one culture simply because it’s the easy way out. The best way to start fixing this problem is to educate the public thoroughly about the other holidays. Give them more exposure. Take time during the week before winter break to immerse children into other cultures besides the one they are used to.

But what do we say? “Happy Holidays” may be the best neutral option, and a good one at that, but many people want to keep in touch with their own beliefs, which is also perfectly okay. In the so-called debate between “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas,” why not just say both? It isn’t that much of a mouthful. “Merry Christmas” of course does not have to be “Merry Christmas,” but whatever holiday you do indeed practice. By doing that, you can be true to yourself and inclusive when you don’t know what a person may practice. Of course when you do, you could swap whatever the other holiday is with “Happy Holidays.”

Whether political-correctness is viewed as beneficial or as a burden, the most important thing to remember is that the holidays are about spreading love, and now is not the time to spew any sort of arrogance. So, this holiday season, be open to other cultures and spread all the love and cheer you possibly can.

COLUMN: Say “I love you” even when it’s weird

Marisa Karpes Columnist

Marisa Karpes


Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Soon enough we’ll be able to exchange cafeteria food for a hearty home-cooked meal with all of the classics. Maybe you will have to cook or bake a little bit yourself, or you are getting ready to travel out of town to celebrate. Or maybe you’re looking forward to spending your time, after the meal, Black Friday shopping; all ready to bypass Thanksgiving and get right to Christmas.

Thanksgiving dinner also means seeing family members that you may or may not have seen in awhile. Around the table, talk may include politics, or the football game going on at the moment. Talk around the table will inevitably include questions about how college is going, and you will  likely say things are going fine even when you’re really drowning in assignments.

Loving someone means taking care of them when they are sick or running a quick errand for them when they are too busy to do it themselves. 

Every family has a different dynamic. Some families are very warm and close with each other. Others are more distant, and may even not know each other that well. While this may not be true for families who actually despise each other, some families, even when they do love each other may have a hard time properly expressing it to each other.

Loving someone means taking care of them when they are sick or running a quick errand for them when they are too busy to do it themselves. Love could also mean buying gifts or giving hugs. Sometimes, it’s making them their favorite meal for dinner or even saving the last piece of the pie specifically for them.

It’s commonly said that actions speak louder than words, but that does not necessarily mean that words are invaluable. 

Saying a simple ‘I love you’ goes a long way. It is one thing to show your love, but to actually say it makes it all the more special. Telling someone that you love them makes the person know, without a doubt, that you love them. Sure, they might be able to figure it out through the things you do for them (or maybe they just assume it), but actually hearing the words from you just all the more confirms it.

Saying a simple ‘I love you’ goes a long way. It is one thing to show your love, but to actually say it makes it all the more special.

This can be a rather easy thing to do with a significant other, but it may feel weird to do with family members - especially with the extended ones. Nonetheless, it is more necessary than you may realize right now.

It’s been eight years since I’ve celebrated a holiday with my Poppa, and it’s been 5 and a half years since I’ve celebrated one with my Grandma. My dad’s parents left this world too soon and I would give anything just to celebrate one more Thanksgiving with them.

The lack of my paternal grandparents at the dinner table made me realize the mortality of the rest of the family. I realize that I will not always have them. I don’t mean to sound morbid, but it is important to cherish every moment with loved ones and tell them you love them often, for you might not get the chance to one day.

COLUMN:End the war on women, by women

Roxanne Timan Managing Editor

Roxanne Timan

Managing Editor

Going shopping with my female friends is a nightmare. Every time we hit a mall, I feel like a bored boyfriend who finds a chair and sits waiting for the agony to be over. It seems as if the employees, shoppers, and even the mannequins look down at you if you don’t fit in with their newest catalog.

Recently, my friends and I made a stop to makeup metropolis, ULTA. I ran my stubby fingernails over a spectrum of nail polish, inhaled the smell of perfume over my men’s deodorant, and watched women get their hair done in the salon as mine slid from the lousy ponytail I threw it in. I would fit in at the local Menards much better and, yes, that’s a lesbian joke.

I may not live up to the beauty standards put upon women, but that doesn’t mean I should be ostracized. It seems more and more lately that being a woman means competing with other women. If you don’t wear makeup, you are lazy and unkempt. If you do, it better be perfect otherwise you’re sloppy and untalented.

But what is the point? 

Fighting over feminine characteristics will never gain a winner. Being a woman doesn’t mean wearing high heels and eyeliner wings. It’s being strong enough to do whatever you want and support other women in the process.

And yes - a lot of women are definitely supporting others. The boom of beauty gurus has created a platform for femmes to learn, yet it doesn’t make up for scrutinizing those who choose not to wear makeup. Women need to find community right now more than ever, so that means recognizing that butch and androgynous women are just as valid.

You aren’t more of a woman if you curl your hair, wear dresses and do your makeup before heading out for the day. Underneath all of it, I’m identifying with you just as much. It doesn’t matter if I wear a more “masculine” attire, or don’t shave under my arms. If you judge other women for not living up to your beauty standards, you are the one who ends up losing.

I am definitely not trying to start a war here, but the holiday season brings back the nauseation of shopping and feeling eyes heat my face when I enter a mall shop. I applaud those who are willing to put the effort in to do their makeup everyday, it is an amazing feat. However, we need to recognize that femme people can be bare-faced too. Doesn’t mean we are any less of a woman because we don’t fit the gender norms.