A year ago, in my very first column for The Daily Pennsylvanian , I wrote about Aziz Ansari and my views on the nascent #MeToo movement.
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Sorority recruitment tends to get a bad rap, in part because of its high visibility: the lines of freezing hopefuls lined up on the sidewalk and the intense hours it demands. In addition, men seem to have an endless number of fraternities to choose from, while women have only eight Panhellenic sororities to choose between.
This weekend I went to the Louvre. This was partly because I had work to do for a class I’m taking on 19th century French painting, and partly because I thought I wanted to write my next column about museums.
Of all the challenging things I’ve done in French since my arrival in Paris — write papers, take tests, get a gym membership, fix my phone — the irony is not lost on me that the thing that defeats me entirely is spelling my own name.
When the news of the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh first broke, I took a deep breath, flicked on my electric kettle to make myself a cup of tea, skimmed the article, and resolved to stop thinking about it.
Editor's Note: This semester, columnist Rebecca Alifimoff will continue to provide her thoughts and observations on the issues affecting Penn students, but will do so all the way from Paris!
Penn is many things. It’s a large research university with twelve separate schools encompassing strong graduate and undergraduate programs in diverse disciplines ranging from business to veterinary science. That intellectual and institutional diversity is part of what makes Penn a great university — it brings resources and opportunities that would be impossible to find at a smaller school. Despite the size of Penn as an institution, it’s easy to forget that Penn is also a school, one with over 24,000 students, including 10,000 undergraduates. Penn’s first responsibility should be its students. The core mission of the university and the administration should be to foster a safe and nurturing environment for students to conduct their scholarship.
I’m not the sort of person who could be described as chill.
On May 28th, ABC’s hit reality TV franchise, "The Bachelorette" will return. Like any good member of the so-called "Bachelor Nation," I will be on a friend’s couch, eating cheese and crackers, analyzing the first episode, hunting for clues as each contestant is introduced. I’ll also be filling out my bracket for my Bachelorette fantasy league.
I remember my first frat party. It was oppressively hot, in the way that only Philadelphia in late August can be. I was backed into a corner, my calves pressed against the cool of the keg, slowly sipping my drink, terrified of being one of the girls who drinks too much on the first night of college and does something embarrassing. Despite the fear and the heat, and the acrid sips of Bankers burning in my mouth, I felt a swell of happiness. This was college. I’d made it.
I have a confession to make: I kind of love Fling. I love it with an uncharacteristic abandon. Normally, I lack the social stamina to party hop. I find darties somewhat terrifying. (A party? In the daytime? When everyone can see? You want me to do shots before the eyes of God?) But for this one weekend a year, I make an exception because Fling feels like our own personal holiday weekend — a time when campus sheds its business-casual facade and celebrates celebrating.
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Next semester I will be going abroad to Paris, leaving Philadelphia behind for what will hopefully be a semester full of on-point Instagram posts, chocolate baguettes, and stories that will almost immediately bore all my friends when I return home. It’s an exciting thought, and as I rush through my preparations, the excitement is of course tinged with sadness. I cannot take my friends, my performing arts group, Bloomers, or my carefully decorated apartment with me. But my excitement is also tinged with a small amount of terror. I am going abroad to Paris, where I will take all of my classes in French. What the hell have I just done to my GPA?
Listen, I’m a child of the digital age. I’m not going to pretend that I’m not aware of the repercussions of posting things on the internet. The stakes were drilled into me at a young age by well-meaning, if slightly alarmist adults: Anything you post online will be around forever. Anyone can see it. Beware, here there be dragons.
The problem was this: My mother was cooking Thanksgiving dinner and she needed sour cream. The obvious solution was that I should be a helpful daughter and offer to pick some up from the grocery store. Under normal circumstances, I would have agreed without hesitation. But this was our first Thanksgiving in the new house in the new state in a strange part of the country, and I had no idea where the grocery store was.
Our efforts as a Penn community to destigmatize mental health have been working. Like every Penn student, I often feel the overwhelming pressure that inevitably comes from being an overachiever on a campus full of overachievers, but I’ve never felt truly alone when dealing with waves of anxiety or depression. At every turn I’ve been met with friends and acquaintances who were willing to speak up about their own struggles with mental health. They’ve been open about their need to seek help and their decisions to take time off from Penn in order to deal with their mental health. I’ve benefited immeasurably from this honesty and transparency.
The website babe.net published a story two weeks ago on sexual assault allegations that detailed a date and subsequent sexual encounter between a woman (who went by the pseudonym Grace for the purposes of the story) and the comedian Aziz Ansari.