LETTER TO EDITOR: Men can get cancer too

Hello! My name is Daniel Crusius (EC political science major), and I was assigned male at birth.

Last year, I noticed a lump beneath my nipple, and I soon became very concerned. I contacted the Male Breast Cancer Coalition about this to see what they recommend, and they recommended I see a doctor immediately. While unfortunately (due to a lack of medical awareness) my doctor didn’t fully think a person assigned male at birth could get breast cancer at my young age (nor did the medical forms have a spot for breast lump for males*). Nevertheless, we scheduled an ultrasound. We found a pea-size lump, and I was given two options: have a biopsy or have it surgically removed. For reasons I am not comfortable sharing, I hesitated on what to do next. But again, I called Peggy Miller, who helped found the Male Breast Cancer Coalition, whose son Bret developed breast cancer at age 17, among the youngest detected at the time. She was adamant that I get it removed and shared stories of men who had died from breast cancer because they took no action. Indeed, I chose to have a lumpectomy, and the mass was removed from me. It was tested, and fortunately, it was not cancerous. Nevertheless, I write this today to raise awareness about how people assigned male at birth can also develop breast cancer. Just as cisgender women can develop breast cancer, so can cisgender men, transgender women, transgender men, and non-binary folks from any physiological background. For more information on male* breast cancer, visit malebreastcancercoalition.org  .

Readers’ note: I asterisked “male” to be expansive in this complex medicalized gendered context because some folks medicalized as male do not identify as men and some folks medicalized as female identify as men or non-binary.

Sincerely,

Daniel Crusius


COLUMN: Dia de Los Muertos visibility

Nova Uriostegui
Columnist

You may have encountered sugar skull props, makeup packs, and costumes at your local store or pop-up Halloween shop and most likely brushed it off as another costume option, but seldom have you thought about the origins or even if it is right to dress up as a sugar skull for Halloween. Also, that sugar skull makeup that beauty gurus like to give directions on is called calavera and is meant to mock death, not necessarily impress your friends.

The history behind Dia de Los Muertos is very rich, and the days of celebration are often very important to those who celebrate. Dia de Los Muertos is a latinx holiday, primarily Mexican, held from November 1 to November 2.

During this time, alters are set up with special flowers, candles, sugar skulls, and various foods and drinks. The entire premise of the holiday is to celebrate life after death and that death is a part of the human experience. It is not a time to mourn but to reconnect with past and present family.

For many in the latinx community who celebrate, this holiday is more than just a one night costume or craft to do with friends while drinking tequila. That is why the Spanish language department has been having these colorful alters displayed in the library for the past four years. This year was the first time it was held in Founders Lounge due to construction, but also to help stir the conversation and confusion around the holiday itself.

Dia de Los Muertos is often called the “Mexican Halloween”, but it is not even held on the same day as commercial Halloween, and rather than trying to scare off evil spirits, Day of the Dead is a time of happiness, joy, family, and fun. Dressing up on Day of the Dead is meant to mock death and show it that there is no fear of death, something that does contrast Western death ideas.

Dia de Los Muertos is not a holiday that many latinx communities try and keep from others. For the alters done on campus, anyone was able to submit photos of loved ones, as it was not specifically to Mexican students on campus, and it is this invitation to participate that gets lost.

Want to learn more about the holiday and even participate? Attend Day of the Dead events held by latinx communities and people rather than “themed” parties that are flowing with “Mexican” alcoholic drinks. Ask your latinx friends, if they celebrate, why. Who do they do it for? Who taught them about the holiday?

At the end of the night, if you want to just be a colorful skeleton and drink tequila, do not do calavera makeup or wear Day of the Dead items, steer clear of the section at stores, and be cognisant of how you might look to others. Cultural appropriation is costume deep; cultural appreciation is community deep.


COLUMN: Revolution starts with nobody

Noah Pearson
Opinions Editor

Every individual has the capacity to be revolutionary. It does not start with massive coalitions and networks of like minded people; sometimes all it takes is one person to stand defiantly against what is to show the rest of the world what can and should be.

On June 5, 1989 in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, one nameless man stood directly in front of a procession of four tanks in protest of the massacre of what some estimate to be over 10,000 student protesters.

There is still no confirmed identity or whereabouts of the man who did this. What this means is that one man, not an army or a group of any kind, possibly gave everything to show the world that the way things are were not appropriate.

Although nothing specifically changed following this massacre, it exposed for many people what oppression and what protest can really mean.

While we do not live in place where we can observe 10,000 people dying and the government censoring it even 29 years later, we live in a place where our president self identifies as a nationalist, where anti-semites and racists target places of worship to execute those inside on the basis of who they are, and where children are executed in school. A lesson can be learned from tank man.

We are not powerless. There is no need to wait for thousands of others to take to the street. Any one of us can be a revolutionary.

This is not to say that our lives are the only currency we may pay, but that does not mean we cannot all contribute.

The nationalists, the anti-semites, and the racists are always among us. They, like us, are individuals. We can stop them before they get the chance to hurt others. When we hear it in our classes or when we see it online, no matter how small it is we have the obligations and the power to say something and stop it.

Our country is not so far gone that we are unable to protect ourselves. However, complacency can no longer be an option.

Throughout history, difference has always been made by those of us who were willing to stand firm in our belief sets. We do not negotiate our visions for what the world can be, and even when confronted with tanks and a military willing to fire freely on its own people, we have refused to move out of the way.

The future of this country is in the hands of those who are willing to stand out. Currently, that is the aggressors. Those who are willing to fight for what they want are those who want violence, discrimination, and genocide.

If you stand against any of this, it is essential that you are not violent about expressing it. Rather, we need to be relentless in how we educate, in how we call out, and in how we demonstrate that there is absolutely no room anywhere for those who wish to hurt others on the basis of who they are.

Do not underestimate what any of us are capable of. While it may seem small, it is better than doing nothing. The day we require individuals like tank man is the day we have already lost. Our country deserves better, we deserve better, and we are responsible for making it so.

While we may feel like we are nobody, we are up against that it seems like nobody can defeat. It is time to stop looking at that as a deficit but as the key to our success.


EDITORIAL: SGA, it's time we got a divorce

Student Government Association (SGA)  has mandated that a representative from every organization attend a monthly meeting called a legislator meeting. Refusal or failure to participate can result in the review, freezing, or cancellation of an organization's funding.

The Leader should not have to be represented at legislator meetings because The Leader is obligated to report on meetings. This is not unique to The Leader, under journalism ethics, no journalist participates in an event they happen to be covering.

No governing power should be able to force the press to their will by threat of cutting their funding period.

The Leader sends a reporter to every SGA meeting, legislator or otherwise. The job of a reporter is not to participate in an event, but to cover it.

Regardless, we will not send a representative in addition to this reporter in an act of protest against SGA’s unjust mandates. We will not participate in what inevitably will lead to our own censorship.

The Leader is not a typical student organization and should not be funded in a typical manner.

The Leader is student media. Part of the function of media is to serve as a watchdog and report on the government.

Additionally, participation in The Leader is recognized by at least four departments as course credit, internship credit, or as media practicum.

The Leader does not deny that we are a considered a student organization. However, unlike other student organizations, The Leader holds specific responsibilities and bears specific burdens, and as a result our resources should be treated differently than other student organizations.

We exist simultaneously as a student organization, an academic lab, and a student media organization. Because of our unique position, we require unique rules.

No other organization is responsible for reporting on SGA. No other or very few organizations are endorsed and are a part of academic departments, much less by four.

How can The Leader ethically report on the very body that provides its funding?

At other colleges, college media boards, independent of any governing or administrative bodies, allocate funding to student press so that this conflict of interest and potential censorship is avoided.

This is an old debate and other colleges have already found solutions, why hasn’t Elmhurst College caught up with the times?

SGA is responsible for allocating and managing the budgets of these organizations, but grouping us with the rest of them makes no sense and violates the fundamental responsibilities of the media.

The government should not have any say in how or what the media reports and should never have power over the media's funding. This conflict of interest is a stepping stone into blatant censorship.

We as a student newspaper refuse to sacrifice the responsibilities of student media in the name adhering to the archaic rules put forth by SGA.

The Leader rejects this force of will. We cannot be treated and funded the same as other organization simply because we do not function the same way. If SGA can control the press’s budget, they can control the press’s story and in the name of free speech, this cannot happen.

The relationship between us and SGA simply needs to end. It’s time that we develop an independent media board. Without it, tension between SGA and The Leader will be endless and inevitably end in war.


LETTER TO EDITOR: student responds to Nova Uriostegui's Oct 9 column "Problematic Pronouns"

I disagree that students and faculty should be subject to pronoun use. I would like to point out that the transgender community was described to be “not a small one”. A study by the William Institute from 2017 determined that in the U.S. 1.4 million adults (0.6%) and 150,000 adolescents between 13 and 17 (0.7%) identify as transgender out of 325.7 million people.

This does not address the increasing amount of regret after a sex change, as brought to light by Miroslav Djordjevic, a leading specialist in sex reassignment and genital reconstructive surgery.

A study conducted from 1973-2003 concluded that persons that go through sexual reassignment also have increased rates of mortality, suicidal behavior, and mental illness.

Statistics aside, the issue is the idea that others should conform to an ideology as dictated by a singular community, transgender or not. I don’t believe that one group’s beliefs and ideas should be dominant over another. There should be respect of a person’s opinions, just as there is meant to be in this response.

Regardless of the fact that the transgender community in the U.S. is actually a small percentage of the population, I recognize that the community is not non-existent. Steven Crowder gave this example: It is generally taught that people have ten fingers and toes or two arms, regardless of the fact that there are exceptions. In cases such as this, majority rules.

The current construct of pronouns isn’t based on “social norms” but is consistent with a fact of biology that there are only two genders, male or female, except the 1.7% of people that are born intersex due to differing sex chromosome combinations.


Sincerely,

Hanna Sicurella, EC student


COLUMN: The unity of the left starts with liberals

Noah Pearson
Opinions Editor

During the build-up in the 2016 election, tensions between traditional democrats and leftists were constantly growing. The conversation about the unity of the left has been about making sacrifices for the greater good, but the burden of sacrifice has been on the leftists as opposed to the traditional democrats.

To be clear, the difference between leftists and traditional democrats or liberals is that liberals believe in reforming an imperfect system while leftists believe in tearing it down and starting back up from the grassroots.

As made clear by the blatant racism and the radical conservatism coming from the Trump administration, it is time for that burden to be placed on the traditional democrats and for the left to unite under a set of truly leftist ideals.

To give a little context, democrats or liberals in this case refer to those who believe in the system; they believe that the issues in government or issues like racism and sexism can be fixed with reform. They call for the election of more people who represent communities that are not traditionally represented in places of power.

The issue is that when those in power betray the interests of the communities they claim to care about, they turn a blind eye.

The leftists refuse to look away.

Instead of joining the post-Obama administration hype train, the leftists were the ones who said “good riddance” to the man who deported more people than any U.S. president in the history of this country.

Instead of wearing pussy hats and shouting “I’m with her”, the leftists were the one who had doubts about voting in a woman who claimed at-risk black youth were an emotionless group of people called “super-predators”.

Historically, including the last presidential election, the leftists have always been the ones having to vote for these objectively problematic politicians in the name of unity. The lesser-of-two-evils conflict has been necessary in the past, but in 2016 this thinking worked against all of us.

When the Trump administration promised change and used fear mongering and racism, the democrats put forth a career politician promising she would keep things the same but insisting that her being a woman would mean something.

The fact that we put our faith in the lesser of two evils and the greater evil still won is a call to abandon that thinking and put forth not the lesser of two evils, but very simply put forward a representative of our best interests who simply is not evil.

Trump managed to gain support because even though it was through evil means and with evil intentions, he provided hope that all the things that have hurt his supporters will be changed.

The left has historically represented marginalized groups, but the democrats we are forced to vote for insist on supporting the establishment even when in turns against marginalized groups.

How can we expect unity when we are asking marginalized groups to vote against their own well-being?

Unity most comes from the abandonment of liberal ideals. Politicians on the left, in order to save the left, have to stop protecting the system and move farther left. It is time to stop calling for reform, to stop calling for compromise, and call for revolution.

Trump is a racist, billionaire, TV show host who was capable of doing the same; what could happen if the left decided to do the same, but instead of fear mongering and ignorance, they advocated for a country and for institutions that act in the interest of those who have been disenfranchised by it?

The state of this country is the fault of a broken left. The broken left is the fault of liberals who for too long demanded that their radical counterparts follow them for the sake of the greater good.

The greater good has been abandoned. If we wish to do anything good without dramatic change then we have already lost.


COLUMN: Invisible diseases are physical diseases and we need to treat it as such

Nova Uriostegui
Columnist

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and this year, Elmhurst College is not shying away from the pink ribbons, free t-shirts, and pink suits. The president of EC was given an opportunity to show his support, and he has not shied away from it, but it begs an important question.

Where was everyone for Mental Health Awareness month?

Does it need to be visible to be considered “physical” and worthy of the same amount of awareness?

Breast cancer kills, and the statistics say that 1 in 8 women will develop some form of breast cancer, but what about the statistic that says 1 in 4 individuals will develop a form of mental illness?

This is not necessarily trying to say that one is worse than the other, but they both are physical ailments that do not necessarily have a cure and can be fatal. They both share a large impact that can even hit close to home for many of you.

Anyone who has had to face these illnesses know that there are ways of stalling the progression or preventing manic episodes such as with chemotherapy and medications, respectively.

It is hard to talk about two physical issues that can have grim outcomes, but mental illness does not seem to be taken quite as seriously by the majority as is cancer or other fatal physical illnesses.

It takes the death of celebrities like Chester Bennington from Linkin Park and Robin Williams for the media to talk about warning signs and phone hotlines, but in a matter of a few days or weeks, it gets quiet again, or at least until the next big news tragedy involving a mentally ill person, such as with mass shootings.

It is not something that just exists in a bubble. More and more people are developing mental illnesses, but without proper education and discussion, many of them are not getting the help they need.

In worst case scenarios such as with James Eagen Holmes (Century 16 Movie Theater  shooter), Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook Elementary school shooter), Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (Columbine shooters), their mental illnesses played a large part in why they did what they did in these tragedies.  

If their illnesses were caught, discussed, and treated early on, there is a possibility that these historic events would have never happened.

The reality is that mental illness have played a role in tragic events that are a part of American history, but often times the spotlight comes off of the individual and focuses on other things.

If mental illnesses get brushed off on a grand scale, imagine what it is like to try and even talk about it at a smaller scale.

Whether we want to be aware or not, the topic of mental health and illness is still stigmatized. People with illnesses, and we are talking about ALL mental illnesses, have to deal with it alone and behind closed doors.

Often times, trying to find help leads to dead ends that consist of “It’s all in your head”, “Just be happier”, or “It’s just a case of the Mondays”.

Whenever we excuse physically ill people for missing class or work but do not excuse mentally ill people for the same things, we reinforce that an able body is equal to an able mind. Just as there are invisible conditions like diabetes, mental illness should be in the same category.

When someone breaks their leg, we do not blame it on them for not being more careful. When someone is in the hospital for cancer, we do not blame them for it, but when someone cannot physically get out of bed because of their depression, we are so quick to say they are lazy and making excuses.

The notion that mental illness are not as serious as physical conditions needs to end. The idea that a mental illness cannot affect your everyday life needs to end.

We need to start talking about mental health just as much as we talk about cancer. Discussing mental health is the beginning of a chain of reactions that could prevent future tragedies, whether historic or local.

If you came out this month, I hope to see you come May.


EDITORIAL: With students struggling to pee, it is time for EC to step up

For a school that advertises as queer friendly, EC’s gender neutral bathrooms are difficult to find, improperly advertised, and sometimes even locked.

EC needs to be held to a higher standard if the school wishes to fully support queer students (see page 3)

Gender neutral bathrooms should be in every building, all should be unlocked, and all should be accurately mapped. Society as a whole puts plenty of negative pressure on trans* people.  

In several regards, the school does pull through. The Staff and Faculty for Equality (SAFE) is a coalition of staff and faculty who identify themselves as those who can be trusted to be an ally or provide a safe space for queer students.

The school also advertises the Queer Straight Alliance as a resource on the website as a group that promotes “understanding, awareness, and inclusion”. This shows that at the very least the school wants students to know their resources.

However, this is not enough. Both of those resources are groups that came together independently of the school. School support is good but also could be a cop-out of taking any actual responsibility.

Because the school advertises some resources but not others, we are obligated to question the priorities of the school and what being queer friendly actually means to them.

Gender neutral bathrooms are an essential part of an inclusive campus. Trans* individuals are put in a dilemma where regardless of the bathroom they use they may appear or feel out of place.

There are some cases where it goes even further beyond comfort and becomes a safety issue. No one wants to feel threatened while simply trying to use the bathroom, and not having gender neutral bathrooms reinforces that threat.

And yes, there are some gender neutral bathrooms, but what good does a gender neutral bathroom in the library do if it is not on the campus map? How helpful is a gender neutral bathroom in the basement of West Hall if it is locked?

The amount of trans* students on this campus should not matter. As long as there is even one, or as long as the school claims they care, that needs to come through in their actions not just their words.

They go through enough without having to also have nowhere to pee.


COLUMN: Problematic Pronouns

Nova Uriostegui
Columnist

Elmhurst College prides itself in being a pioneer of asking if you are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, but it lacks education and discussion on gender pronouns. From being denied pronouns on name tags due to “lack of space” to being misgendered on a regular basis by people of authority, it is tough out here to be anything but cisgender.

You can see just how bad it is on the first few days of classes, when every professor and organization makes you do the same icebreaker just in different variations. Most spaces ask for name, major, year, and a fun fact about yourself, whereas the minority of spaces asks for pronouns.

Whenever these introductions are done, people stumble on the pronouns and act like they have never heard of one before, and if you are one of those people, here is a quick English 101 lesson for you: a pronoun is a word used in place of a proper noun to describe the subject being talked about or to describe an unknown subject.

This inconsistency and downplay of the importance of pronouns makes it difficult for trans* people to navigate in these suddenly unsafe spaces.

For some of us, it has become a regular thing to say pronouns right after our name, even if we are not asked because if no one asks, then we will be misgendered. It has fallen on us, the individual, to have to educate whole classes, peers, and even faculty and staff. Even then, it still never sticks.

There have been numerous times where people have been misgendered by faculty, staff, and even administration, but the blame does not solely fall on those people. What is to blame is the lack of education about pronouns on this campus. Many people know about he/him/his and she/her/hers, but a lot of people cannot wrap their minds around they/them/theirs.

For all the grammar junkies who think that they/them/theirs are not proper singular pronouns, check the dictionary because “they” can be plural, and “they” can be singular, so this should not even be a valid excuse. Pronouns are definitely not something new when you enter college.

Just because pronouns are not important to you does not mean they are not important to somebody. We need to have more pronoun dialogue, whether it be consistent with having pronouns in all introductions done by professors, speakers, students, etc. or to have pronoun workshops held by QSA and any other groups on campus. Whatever is going to happen needs to start happening sooner rather than later.

The trans* community is not a small one, and as the lines of gender become blurred, the discussion of pronouns needs to become more and more prominent. We as a college want to consider ourselves allies, and many of us on the campus have already done things to warrant that, but we cannot stop at QSA, all-gender housing, and all-gender restrooms.

Just because you do not think they are important does not mean they should be disrespected. If someone tells you their pronouns, use them, correct yourself, and ask questions. It is no longer valid to say “I don’t feel comfortable with that” because we also do not feel comfortable with you assuming who we are.


COLUMN: Van Dyke is in jail but Laquan is still dead: are we really better off?

Noah Pearson
Opinions Editor

There are professions on this planet in which cowardice should be a disqualifying factor, and being a police officer is among them.

In 2014, a coward feared a black teenager with a knife exhibiting no signs of aggression and fired 16 shots—killing him with one and mocking him with 15 more.

Four years later, we now have an opportunity to say that this coward has been duly convicted for 2nd degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm: one for every shot he used to project his pathetic fear onto Laquan McDonald.

This is a victory for anyone who is tired and frankly afraid of being feared by the wrong pathetic individual. Any person who has ever worried that getting pulled over would become a death sentence, any person who has told their child not to play with toy guns outside, and any person simply trying to get by with black skin has taken a collective sigh in shock of the fact that the system that enables and celebrates cowards like Jason Van Dyke actually put him in his place.

However, that joyous feeling will expire.

For Van Dyke, it took dashboard camera footage being leaked, a controversial police cover-up of the incident, the firing of the chief of police, Magnificent Mile being completely shut down by protestors, three years before an indictment by a grand jury, and four before he was finally convicted for one of the most aggressive, excessive, and cowardly acts of the police ever documented on camera.

Is this what justice takes? If so, are we really in a better world than the one that killed Laquan?

What is so unfortunate about this victory is the same thing that makes it a victory in the first place. This is an unusual and revolutionary win. The executioners of Rekia Boyd, Philando Castile, Korryn Gaines, Eric Gardner, Michael Brown, or anyone on that haunting and unending list of black lives lost will never be held accountable for their cowardice.

It means so much that the use of our constitutional right to protest had an effect on the justice system, but even then it was not for three years after we shut down Magnificent Mile that we saw the system do the job it was supposed to be doing anyway.

Not everyone can afford to take to the streets every time a racist cop decides to promote himself to a judge, jury, and executioner.

It simply is not fair that in order for someone who was documented fatally shooting someone and then continuing to fire 15 more bullets into a lifeless corpse to even receive an indictment, we as ordinary people had to fight tirelessly for it, just for a body of people to rule that there is probable cause that a crime was even committed. Even then, there was no promise or even a high probability of this man being found guilty of a crime America watched him commit.

This is a significant historical moment. Of course, this is what we want, but we really have to ask the question of whether or not this will mean anything for trigger-happy scared cops in the future.

So yes, celebrate this one time victory of achieving the judicial bare minimum. Sing jubilee just as newly freed slaves did before beginning careers as sharecroppers and leased convicts. Just do not celebrate too loudly or in public, we would not want to scare anyone.



EDITORIAL: Are we doing enough?

Is the mandatory Title IX training as it currently stands at Elmhurst College effective?

The recent protest in front of Irion Hall demanded that Title IX training be updated to create firmer consequences for those who do not complete it. In order to effectively stand with survivors, the school needs to reform our system of Title IX training.

At the student level, we are told it is required for us to take it every year. Faculty are also required to take it annually. However, while this training is mandatory, many students admit to not having taken it. There is no reprimand beyond pestering emails and reminders from R.A.’s; there are no consequences for faculty or students for not completing the training.

Transfer students have also revealed that there is some uncertainty as to whether or not they have to take it, and some have never even heard of it.

What we have an issue with is not the content of the training, but with the ambiguity that surrounds it. If mandatory Title IX training is effective, EC would not be an example of that simply because we struggle with getting people the training in the first place.

The Leader calls on the school to reform our Title IX training to have stricter and more clear consequences for incompletion.

The Dean of Faculty has contemplated creating a task force to search alternative methods of the online Title IX training. We endorse this idea of the Title IX task force.

Since the protest outside of Irion Hall, the Dean of Faculty and the head of the music department have also met with the organizers and discussed the demands for moving forward. At the most recent all-faculty meeting, the Dean of Faculty encouraged department heads to ensure their department is completing the training.

It is necessary to admit that the school is acting in favor of the students. However, it is appropriate to question the motivation of the school and the effectiveness of their actions.

Whether Title IX training is effective or not should not be a question asked only when the issue has pushed students to a breaking point and not a question that should fall on students in the first place.

We support survivors and call on the college to do the same. The school should be challenged to step up and do the bare minimum. If mandatory Title IX training is the answer, then the school needs to prove it or move on to an option that does not force students to call meetings and for policy that EC simply should have been doing on its own in the first place.


EDITORIAL: Honey, I shrunk the budgets

Last week, The Leader discovered that student organizations budgets were reduced by SGA: some by a little, some by a lot. After investigation, we came to find that SGA was no exception and that their budget was reduced as well, apparently due to a reduction in the allocation provided by EC administration.

SGA and other large organizations, including The Leader, will survive. Although we have been inconvenienced, and justifiably frustrated, we have the funding to continue with a few adjustments.  

But what of the organizations that do not have a five figure budget? What of smaller organizations with a demanding presence on campus like Black Student Union? What of clubs that have an opportunity to travel but may not be able to do so anymore? Or clubs that may have to end their programming in March or April?

Although the size of every club is different, the effort, the passion, and more often than not the contribution to the campus is the same. A college such as ours is nothing without the hard work of dedicated students trying to share their passions with their peers.

More important than the budget reductions themselves, we were hardly given an explanation why. Some organizations were informed of their budget as late as a week ago, and some have yet to know what their budget is and thus have been unable to schedule programming.

Why were our budgets cut? Was it Student Affairs? After all, they did create two new positions; could it be that that came from our budgets? Are we being fairly consulted on how our student activity fees are being distributed? EC has been reporting a drop in enrollment and an increase in commuters; could it be that the decrease in people attending the school and staying in dorms is hurting EC to the point of taking our budgets?

Some answers to these questions are sensible, and possibly maybe none of these questions are the right one. The cause could be something completely off of our radar. What becomes an issue; however, is when we have zero explanation and have to ask these questions in the first place.

This does not have to be a loss; it could serve as a wake up call to all of us that maybe our system is not the most effective way to allocate fees.

Some clubs have already demonstrated examples of self advocacy and networking that in a way deflects the effects of their budget loss.

One example is the cultural clubs. On campus, we have clubs that represent a variety of students from different cultures, races, genders, orientations, etc. Together, under the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, they have created the Coalition of Multicultural Empowerment and as a unit create programming like Culture Fest, where for a week all of the clubs are represented and are in part supported by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Their example might be relevant to the rest of us.

We all work hard to do whatever it is our club was created to do. Even if you are not an active participant in clubs, we all pay a student activity fee.

We are all affected. Student organizations provide a service to all students, and we all pay for it. In this case, there is a lack of transparency that we should all be angry about.

Simply, something needs to change.   


COLUMN: The problem with professionalism

Noah Pearson
Opinions Editor

The traditional American understanding of professionalism is dated. We exclude and judge people who cannot fit in within our confining image of a professional. Is it possible that our standards of professionalism are not meant to be a standard of excellence, but an excuse to exclude and judge?

In the job world, some things are standard. Even if you are applying to flip burgers at a McDonald’s, you do not wear a red T-shirt to the interview. You break out a suit and tie, or a nice dress with some heels—anything that looks clean enough to set you apart from the rest of the interview pool.

However, none of these items come cheap. When we ask people to appear a certain way, we make a statement about the type of people we want applying in the first place. We tell job candidates to look like they hang out on Wall Street, even if in their personal life—or the job they are about to receive—they never look this way.

This standard also does not work for every body type. There are some people who may be overweight or have abnormally shaped body parts. People who do not fall into this category can shop at any clothing store and find items that fit them.

People who do not have that luxury have to go out of their way and sometimes pay more to ensure that they can appear in accordance with an antiquated understanding of professional.

Even then, not all body types are complementary to the attire “professional dress” calls for, and while that should not be a disadvantage in professional settings, because we have such a standard for appearance, it ends up becoming one.

Professional appearances also largely fit the demands of a Western aesthetic. If I am a visitor from another country with a professional wardrobe from my home country, the elaborate cultural textiles or style of clothing may be deemed inappropriate for a workplace in America.

In addition to Western aesthetics, professional dress falls within an unfair binary. Whether we like it or not, some people are not comfortable with traditional labels of men and women, and sometimes the expectations of what men and women are supposed to look like are challenged.

In the music world for example, at EC and abroad, appropriate attire in many venues is considered to be a tuxedo complete with a cummerbund and bow tie for men and a floor length black dress for women.

Some directors of musical ensembles go so far as to remove trans individuals from their ensembles because they chose to dress with the gender they are, not the one the teacher perceives them to be.

In addition to appearance, many individuals must work intentionally to change their speech in “professional” settings in order to maintain the illusion. Even if their normal speech has nothing to do with the context of the setting, unless it fits within a strange and useless understanding of proper and professional.

Is the quality of their work reduced? No, but are the chances of respect or success reduced? Absolutely.

Our groundless understanding of professionalism both in attire and attitude is discriminatory and provides employers, coworkers, teachers, and even complete strangers a socially acceptable means to discriminate, and frankly that has to stop.


COLUMN: Not your goth girlfriend

Nova Uriostegui
Columnist

You probably have seen memes talking about getting a “tig biddy goth girlfriend” just in time for Halloween, but in the same breath, make jokes about the group of cyber goths dancing underneath a bridge to synth music, living their best life.

What exactly is going on? Do you like goths or not?

Now we do not know if the music came first or the fashion, but the goth subculture has always been a staple in Western street fashion, whether it is as a cliché Hot Topic worker, or every girl who has worn black lipstick, ever. From “Mean Girls” to “The Craft”, goth girls have always been stereotyped as mysterious, fishnet-wearing vampire sex objects, surprisingly, but as is Hollywood, this does not translate to the real world. In the real world, goth girls are often bullied for their interests, not sought after by the common jock.

As someone who does not classify as ‘goth’ per say but does have gothic elements to their fashion, being teased in school has always been something that was my reality, and to see people wanting ‘goth’ girlfriends and even so much as fetishizing goth girls, it makes me critical of what exactly is becoming attractive about goth girls specifically.

Do they know what having a goth girlfriend entails? A lot of people do not think about that. It is one thing to hook up with a goth girl; it is another thing to date one.

Will you listen to her ramble about why she loves horror movies? Will you listen to why she likes/dislikes the Pastel Goth palette by Kat Von D? There is so much more to a goth girl than her image, but no one addresses any of this.

When a goth girl gets excited about a photoshoot in a cemetery, will you hype her up? People look at you weird for wanting pictures taken in a setting like this, but for some, death is not scary.

Goth girls enjoy the darker things in life, and unless you are supporting this in her and are willing to be there for her when she comes home crying because someone told her she looked like someone puked up Halloween, please do not say you want a goth girlfriend.

The goth subculture comes with a darker lifestyle and fashion sense, and a lot of times she will experiment with different hairstyles and makeup ideas, but are you ready for all of that?

Kudos to the goth women who use their style for pornography, and kudos to the women who dress goth on a daily and do not want to be someone's fetish.

Ultimately, it is up to the individual to realize what they are getting into and to not drag someone along because they simply like their outside.

Yes, hook up culture is a real thing, but a lot of times goth girls are teased and harassed more times than they are cat-called and complemented, so please do not waste their time because all you care about is the fishnets and black lips.


COLUMN: The best years of your life

Katrina Mioduszewski
Columnist

People tell you a lot of sweet lies before you get to college, but once you are here, it is a whole different story. Good thing is, you have four years to figure it out.

We enter freshman year being bombarded with freakishly happy OSL’s, suspiciously perfect sorority and fraternity recruitment people, cringy icebreakers, and an overwhelming amount of organizations that are “perfect for you”. But what do you do two months later when all of this has died down, you are hanging out with people you probably do not even like and are hoping for a miraculous reset button to appear?

To hell with that reset button.

Some of you may be lost, sad, and clinging to anything/anyone who knows your name. We are all afraid of being completely alone in this experience, so it is natural to cling to those closest and most convenient to us.

For some of you, it is drugs and drinking, and for others it might be those people you met your first day of classes—even though deep down you know they annoy you. In the end, we are all struggling to live up to everyone’s expectations that college will be the best years of our lives.

The next time someone says that to you, you tell them to shut up. You tell them your story and how much you hate everyone on your floor, how social anxiety keeps you from making new friends, and how you spend some nights falling asleep, crying to thoughts of a better tomorrow. College sucks for a lot of us, and that is okay. However, it is not healthy to dwell in that suckiness.

You can try to change your routine. Instead of being afraid of being alone, start basking in it. Your little spirit needs a friend, and there is nothing wrong with being your own friend. Go treat yourself to some good dinner or lay in Wilder Park before it gets cold. It is wondrous how much 20 minutes of laying in the sun can alter your mood.

Start journaling. You may not always have someone to talk to, and journaling is a great way to get everything out.

Lastly, stop hanging out with those people you do not like. Being alone is something everyone can benefit from, and once you find what you and yourself enjoy, doing together it will be a much better time than being with people who are only alright.  

If you want a better tomorrow, it is most important to start with yourself. You will never be able to change the people that surround you. For those of you who turn to drugs and alcohol, these are only temporary. They may help you escape scary thoughts in the moment, but alcohol is a depressant, and eventually it will all catch up to you.

Get rid of all those expectations that media and people painted for you of college, and take things at your own pace. Eventually, you will love yourself and will not need anyone else to.


COLUMN: Man! I feel like a bigot

Roxee (1).jpg

By Roxanne Timan, Managing Editor

Follow her at @Roxlobster

This past weekend my friends and I stopped by a party on the way to a bar to say hello to some friends. We got there late and scanned the basement of drunken, sweaty partiers, as we stood in the corner, eagerly inching towards the door. After final goodbyes and sloppy hugs, we walked out into the crisp spring night, down porch steps, when I stated “Let’s go girls” in my best Shania Twain impression.

Unofficially named a queer anthem adopted by queer people worldwide, ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman’ by Twain has made its rounds in gay bars and dance clubs, no matter if it’s “country” or not. The first twang of the guitar makes girls scream and grab one another’s wrists to yank them to the dance floor. That is, until this past week.

Twain’s reign in the gay world came to an abrupt halt after mentioning in an interview that, if she were an American citizen, she would have voted for president Donald Trump.

Donald Trump, the man who attempted to strip transgender military members of their status, joked about his vice president wanting to “hang” gay people, argued anti-gay discrimination in the workplace is legal, and axed the whole Presidential Advisory Council for HIV/AIDS all within his first year of office.

Obviously, all stars have their slip-ups, but her explanation for the statement is that “he seemed honest.”  Does that include all the racist, sexist tirades during his campaign? Does “grabbing someone by the pussy” follow the morals put together by the song that made you such a sensation, a song played in drag bars across America as a sign of escape from the identities that most drag queens must portray during the day?

Oh yeah, this past week Twain also appeared on one of the highest viewed gay reality shows, ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’ The show is a competition for drag queens to show their personalities and talents in order to make it out on top, introducing a once underground gay scene to a wider audience of straight women and LGBTQIA+ folk mainly. 

Her disinterest in the stars while two pranced around on stage to her previously mentioned chart-topping fitting hit, already gave viewers a sour taste in their mouths, and this endorsement was the ignition on the implosion of her career in the community.

One of the most popular tweets on the subject by user @perryduff285 explains, “Shania Twain is a Trump supporter... I’m devastated. Right after her appearance on ‘Drag Race’ too, now we know why she looked so disgusted all the time. Thought it was just her reserved personality #shaniatwaincancelled.”

In past columns, I have pointed out how we must be consistent in our values, that if we diss one celebrity for something we deem inappropriate or wrong, that we must do this to all celebrities or none. This tricky dichotomy is tough to bear, but as someone with such a gay following, it feels like a stab in the back for Twain to publicly endorse someone who has proved to be hateful to the queer community.

Even with an apology, it seems like Twain has taken a tumble that can’t really be resolved. In the meantime, I would suggest looking the other way and maybe looking to Canadian sensations Nelly Furtado or even Alanis Morissette, both big gay allies with potential pro-gay hits. I believe ‘Promiscuous’ is a definite gay banger, even if it’s a bit ironic, don’t ya think?

COLUMN: End dysmorphic disorder

IMG_4371.jpg

Noah Pearson, Columnist

Follow them at @tbhimscared

If you’re Black, you’re Black. 

Read it again, take it in, for many non-Black readers this sentence may not seem controversial, however, to many Black readers this statement is among the most derogatory statements possible. 

In America today, two things are very popular: research on one’s ancestry, and colorism. For many, being born Black is perceived as a blight or curse because of the way Black people are treated in this country. 

When we can analyze our history and find non-Black roots, many Black people flock and boast about being Dominican or Brazilian despite what their hair and skin color truly reveal about their roots. 

Representation of positive dark-skin role models are few and far between in social media or even positions of power and respect. Often times, the few major Black leaders we observe take action to do what appears as purposefully separating themselves from the rest of the Black community. Some leaders get into power and can continue this trend un-checked for eight whole years.

This underrepresentation as well as this shame of our skin tone is what leads to this desperation to deny our heritage and grasp onto whatever roots that don’t make us seem Black. 

This problem seems to be minute until it reaches politicians. 

In the Dominican Republic, a country once colonized by Spain, and a part of the African Diaspora, shares the island of Hispaniola with the country Haiti. Haiti was the first independent Black nation in the western hemisphere. Slaves in Haiti revolted against Napoleon’s regime and won them their freedom and assisted Dominicans in doing the same. 

Today, overt ethnic discrimination exists in the Dominican Republic and culturally it manifests itself as anti-Black discrimination. 

In America, many people with roots in the Afro-Latin part of the African Diaspora claim strong ties to the Latin part of their identity. This become a problem when they claim superiority over other non Latinx Black people. 

Because of the prevalence of colorism in America, it becomes easy to disconnect oneself from their own Blackness, even if it means denying obvious parts of their identity. 

While we all have a right to self identify with our own ancestry as we please, there cannot be a disconnect between what an individual says about their own identity vs. what their skin color says about their identity, especially when that disconnect is overtly anti-Black. 

If you’re reading this and you’re Black, you’re Black. 

COLUMN: The feminist bandwagon is using women

Marielle (2).jpg

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor
Follow her @_marsbarz23

I am a college-aged Filipino American woman living in an age of proliferate social media usage and I am concerned for the future of feminism. 

Much like the latest diet trend, modern feminism is heading into the path of becoming the latest muse in marketing. Dove’s feel-good “real beauty” campaign and many others brandish this image of “inclusiveness” and female empowerment when they have absolutely no impact on the movement itself. What’s worse is that women buy into this image with the intention of making a difference, when they’ve simply filled these companies’ pockets. 

The commercialism of feminism is an outright act of exploitation.  Feminism is not a brand nor should it ever be treated as a pedestal to achieve some sort of personal monetary gain, especially when it is an ethical movement that applies to the livelihoods of so many.

Take cleaning industries like Swiffer, for example, who have distastefully brandished feminist icons like Rosie the Riveter to promote cleaning products or Beauty industries that are suddenly promoting slogans like “The Future is Female,” after previously selling oppressive ideals of the heteronormative, skinny, white woman. I’d like to believe that these feminist ideals are at the core of these companies values, but the truth is that this is merely a marketing strategy.

Some might argue that I’m being way too pessimistic about these seemingly innocuous advertisements. Yet, we don’t see feminist-fueled marketing strategies used to promote male products because quite frankly, it does not boost sales. So before another one of those Dove commercials tugs at your heartstrings, think again. They are not selling you a heartfelt message, they’re just selling you soap.

For those who can’t grasp the unethical nature of this sort of marketing, we must remember that not too long after the women’s liberation movement and the Equal Rights Amendment, a advertisement led by Virginia Slims in the 60s and 70s marketed cigarettes under the guise of female empowerment utilizing slogans like “you’ve come a long way baby.” This is yet another example of a company catering to female populations to increase their sales with little to no regard for the actual buyer. 

If  industries wish to exude this feminist image, they should give more opportunities for women and other minorities, play an active role in destigmatizing women’s rights, and advocate feminist ideals beyond the mere aesthetic look of being feminist. 

Companies like Nastygal and Thinx, seemingly liberal and progressive faces of industry,  have failed to grasp just that. Both companies exude this image of feminist agendas yet have recently come under fire for poor workplace environments.

While I encourage women to have an awareness of which companies they support, I also push women to pay closer attention to the actual feminists that are making a difference. 

Today, we have celebrity feminist  icons like Beyonce and Taylor Swift who have openly embraced feminism. Their presence in pop culture is certainly electrifying and has sparked a large following but then we are also presented with a bunch of bandwagon “feminists” who only express feminist views because it is “cool.” 

This bandwagon following is especially relevant today as a result of the social-media savvy generations that are quick to pick up social trends. This occurrence along with blatant feminist marketing hinders feminism and with time, it will simply be reduced down to the superficial.

Most times, feminism is not glamorous. Never forget that the movement was catered towards the liberation of survivors of rape, abuse, and gender inequality. On a global scale, there are still large scale atrocities that oppress young girls who are denied an education, a voice, and the control of their very own bodies.

Let’s place our pockets where they matter. Let’s give a spotlight to women who matter. Educate our girls to look up to unwavering figures like Malala Yousafzai who took a bullet to her head for her right to an education. Give more credit to women like Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement who has profoundly exposed the Hollywood rape culture. Encourage women to read the works of feminist authors like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Roxanne Gay,  and Alice Walker. 

The notion of feminism was to disassemble oppressive and exploitative forms of male, white heteronormative power. Sadly, it seems that modern feminism has merely partnered with them, establishing roles of female power that are not any different from the patriarchy. 

COLUMN: You will not be remembered

This+Girl (1).jpg

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

There is probably not a single person on this planet that does not want to make an impact in their lives. As humans, we want to be able to make our make on this big, beautiful world. We want to be able to die and have something grand to be remembered by--something that would even withstand the tests of time and long outlive us.

But unfortunately the world does not work that way.

It may seem way off, but the world is going to end soon. Most of everything made or thought of by humans will perish along with the rest of us. There will be nothing left. No one will be around to remember any of us.

Not even the people who have already achieved greatness. The pyramids created by the likes of those spanning across the world from Egypt to the Mayans will be gone. Our beloved Chicago skyline will fall from the horizon. The Constitution will no longer be preserved, and every book on every shelf will every idea ever will turn to ash. 

It is very likely that none of us reading this paper will even achieve such greatness to be known on a global scale, but nonetheless we will not be remembered even on the smallest scale in our communities.

It is almost time for the graduating class of 2018 to part ways with the college. Now, I personally have met quite a few seniors this year who I can called friends (some even being my colleagues here on The Leader). Don’t get me wrong, I am very sad to see all of these people leave. It is hard to imagine campus life going on without them, but it inevitably will. Life without them here will become the new normal--almost as if they never existed in the first place.

I learned this lesson upon graduating high school. I thought that I had made this grand name for myself and for some reason it did not occur to me that the world there would transition so well without me. The same occurs here and schools all over the world. They have chewed up and spit up so many students over the years it is impossible to see where one impact starts and another one begins.

So what’s the point of even doing anything remarkable if it doesn’t even make a difference?

I’m not trying to pick a fight with the optimists of the world or be completely pessimistic about the world. Believe it or not, I do want to do something remarkable, but even so, I do not think it should be approached that way.

We shouldn’t do things for the place or the status or to avoid falling into the great oblivion. We should do it for the people.

While people in our lives now may perish long before the end of the world does, but their love nonetheless is something that is far more important than being known more widely. You do not have to do the grandest thing to even win their thoughts and their support and their acceptance. 

For as long as I go and as long as I am able, I will always remember how I made my friends smile and how they made me feel when we went out on those late nights. Hopefully they feel the same, and that would be enough for me.

We don’t need the biggest splash because it does not exist. Your best self exists in the minds in those you love and those who love you. You don’t need that pressure of doing something necessarily remarkable. To them, you are the remarkable thing.