Super Bowl Sunday was without a doubt one of the best days of my life and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of us. As we all watched the Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl for the first time ever, frenzy and excitement spread across the streets of the city and history wrote itself. Penn students, staff, and faculty joined thousands of Philadelphians in just about every space of Center City to celebrate their beloved team.
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Does the activism we see on campus day in and day out matter?
Trust me when I say this: We should all be seeing a therapist.
GROUP THINK is The Daily Pennsylvanian’s round table section, where we throw a question at the columnists and see what answers stick. Read your favorite columnist, or read them all.
Are you doing what you truly love?
Last week a dear friend of mine, Jay Shah, wrote an outstanding piece regarding the unnecessary competitiveness within joining clubs on campus. As Vice President of the student body, he affirmed the truth that our club culture here at Penn has unfortunately lead students to feel rejected and discouraged, especially for freshmen who are not accustomed to the level of competition of getting into clubs.
On a brisk Friday night, Aryn Frazier, who is studying politics and African-American and African studies at the University of Virginia, found himself locked in a church full of people in the midst of the Charlottesville riots. Upon his arrival to Emancipation Park, he was “talked at by a man wearing a red shirt,” who told him “Africa was for the black man and America was for the white man.”
Whenever I find myself walking on campus I do my best to have an item that is related to Penn with or on me. One day last year I was walking home from practice, and as I passed a tour a woman who had seen me walk by blurted out, “Are inner city people always allowed on Penn’s campus?” Shocked and confused, I turned around to a number of uncomfortable stares from a crowd of unfamiliar faces. No one defended me. It was just me, and I was stuck in the middle of Locust Walk defending myself.
This past week, I had the opportunity to attend an event titled “Exploring Masculinity” in the Women’s Center here at Penn. The program was designed encourage men on campus to think introspectively about their experiences along the lines of gender and assess the campus climate for furthering male engagement.
I have never believed in a curving system when it comes to grading, and, similar to many, it was a rude awakening for me when I came to Penn. While radical, I believe that curves diminish the motivation to learn among students, discourage collaboration and stimulate a hypercompetitive environment that injures efforts to boost mental wellness on campus.
Mental health. Two words every Penn student has heard before they set foot on Locust Walk. We all know just how prevalent conversations about mental health have become and its relation to tragedy, campus culture and the administration. However, I believe that we all have a hard time addressing overlooked topics that contribute to the stress, anxiety and restlessness that Penn unfortunately perpetuates. Throughout social media, the past student government election, DP columns and even the newly implemented task force, I’ve found one issue to be extremely overlooked: substance abuse.
Every year during the season of Penn Student Government elections, the student body is bombarded with signatures, platforms and the opportunity to elect a new president, vice president and general body of the Undergraduate Assembly. While the election is usually met with mild disinterest from the student body, we believe that the UA president and vice president have the platform to shift Penn’s culture for the better each and every day. We are Justin Hopkins and Calvary Rogers, and we are running for UA president and vice president to establish a more effective, transparent and collaborative UA.
If you know me, you know that one thing keeps me laughing every day: Twitter memes. The best part about this is that practically every month or week, a new meme dominates Twitter’s social feed. This week, student athletes have been the center of laughter in a popular meme across social media platforms that mocks them for being overly enthusiastic and self-centered, making every conversation about themselves and their physical fitness. In the joke, someone says something innocuous and the student athlete replies by somehow spinning the topic to physical fitness while peppering their response with emojis.
Recently, the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education conducted a survey to shine light on the growing demand for an expanded half-credit course system here at Penn. Among students that responded to the survey, almost 60 percent said they had never taken a half-credit course before; however, when they were asked if they would want to take one in a future semester, 95 percent responded “Yes” or “Maybe.”
James Baldwin once said, “The paradox of education is precisely this — that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.” From the second I started my education here, I’ve constantly seen and interacted with black staff working as servers, security guards, janitors and the like. More now than ever, black staff members at the University of Pennsylvania matter and without them our University wouldn’t be half of what it is to us today.
This semester, I’ve done my best to be as attentive as possible when examining Penn culture, and researching black history at Penn has truly strengthened that attentiveness. As I researched the unsung black heroes of Penn, a serious question struck me: Whom do we remember and why?
In my opinion, the most powerful quote of Martin Luther King Jr. is perhaps his most overlooked. It is a central theme in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” describing his conflict and bewilderment with the “white moderate.” He described the white moderate as one who is “more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.” As I study the history of protests by black students in response to racism on campus, it pains me to say that the white moderate is woven into the fabric of the history of students at Penn.
One of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. states “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” It causes me to think about all the hidden contributions people have made through time that have played a major role in constructing who I am.
As a member of the track team, my first experience with the Penn track team was outside on a brisk sunny day in late August. I’ll never forget how nice it felt to breathe the fresh air of Franklin Field, run freely with my teammates and meet athletes from other teams.
Have you ever bitten into a piece of pizza in a dining hall that you knew was too hot and burned your tongue? Ever thrown a football to someone who wasn’t looking and accidentally hit them in the face? It’s clear that you didn’t intend to do either, despite the impact of your actions.