By Emily Hung, Editor-in-Chief
In light of increasing tension around the issue of sexual harassment, victims of harassment who have exposed their perpetrators—also known as Silence Breakers—are setting the example on an issue that could easily shame those harmed into silence.
Earlier this school year, two students were disciplined after writing fictional stories sexually harassing members of the UPA community, and it had not occurred to me that such an intolerable event could happen in a seemingly safe and sheltered school.
After all, “UPA works to prepare each student with the life skills necessary for personal success in a world that needs each person to care enough to make a positive difference,” according to the school’s educational philosophy outlined in UPA’s Student-Family Handbook.
The Silence Breakers in our school exemplified this vision when they stood up for their rights as humans by speaking up for themselves and for others harmed by the harassers.
They exemplified this vision when they stood up for an issue that most commonly affects women.
And their voices were heard.
As women, it shouldn’t be that our reputation is damaged when men misbehave.
It shouldn’t be that we have to defend ourselves from our community.
It shouldn’t be that we have to live our lives oppressed and afraid.
But as a result of what has been happening, guidelines swim back and forth in my mind every day, every moment of my life.
Don’t talk to strangers alone.
Don’t talk to people online.
Don’t walk home alone.
Don’t be in the restroom alone.
I have accepted the fact that when others will not change, I need to do what it takes to ensure my own safety.
But it shouldn’t be that way.
Women have done their part already.
It’s been long past the time when men were supposed to do theirs.
It’s been long past the time when they were supposed to be formally educated on this topic.
Men need to understand the consequences behind their seemingly insignificant and inappropriate actions.
He’s not your boyfriend when he touches you in uncomfortable places or forces you to touch him in inappropriate ways.
He’s not in a loving relationship when he sexually advances on you without your consent.
He’s not playing when he writes and spreads sexual stories about you that you never asked for.
Women need to recognize that they are people, not toys, and should not be treated as such, no matter the situation.
If men are acquitted from such wrongdoings, it is an invitation for them to continue their behavior.
It is no longer appropriate or tolerable for them to not be punished for any actions that could be interpreted as sexual harassment, assault or rape on women.
Accidents and excuses for those misconducts no longer exist in our dictionary.
We all need to continue speaking up if we feel violated to ensure men that we will rise against them in order to protect ourselves, each other and our rights.
Photo by Emily Hung
A #VegasStrong banner now covers the area where shooter Stephen Paddock broke the window to his 32nd-floor suite on Oct. 1, killing 59 people attending an open music festival on the Vegas Strip.
By Nicole Rendler, Managing Editor
Reading the news in 2017 is like watching a horror movie, seeing so many people die right in front of your eyes.
With what seems to be a shooting every day, it begs the question: How many people are going to die before America realizes that gun control is necessary?
Gun violence, which claims hundreds of lives every year, needs to be eradicated.
The United States Constitution was designed to accept an ever-changing society, thus the concept of amendments exists in the first place.
After more than 200 years, so much has changed after the Second Amendment—“the right to keep and bear arms”—was added in 1791.
In 2015, according to the Congressional Research Service, there were 300 million guns in circulation in America.
The Second Amendment was not written to accommodate this vast sea of firearms in our country.
If Americans can use the Second Amendment to explain the needless deaths of children in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 or the deaths of 59 concertgoers in Las Vegas in 2017, then we really are hopeless.
The day it became possible for a civilian to go into a school and shoot kindergarteners for no reason or shoot almost sixty people in front of Mandalay Bay during a concert proves that America has failed as the “home of the brave and the land of the free.”
Legislators should have been brave enough to make gun restriction laws decades ago.
Those children and concertgoers should have been free to live their lives to the fullest for as long as possible.
With a choice of taking away someone’s gun or someone’s life, the answer should be straightforward.
I’m not saying we want to take away all guns.
But, an idea comes to my 16-year-old, tired-of-mourning-people-I’ve-never-met mind.
Mandatory psychological evaluations, six-month waiting periods, and character testimony from peers, employers, spouses or even children are all options to ensure that guns are purchased by trustworthy people.
Buying and owning a gun should be a difficult process that allows many opportunities for the discovery of any reason as to why someone should not be able to own a gun.
Anyone convicted of a violent crime should also be kept on a list similar to that of the sex offender registry enacted by Megan’s Law.
Any employee of places like Wal-Mart or Bass Pro Shops, any online gun sellers or traders, should be able to type a name into a database and immediately determine if the person trying to buy a gun can be trusted with a lethal material object.
The point of gun control is quite simple.
In fact, it is right there in the words: Gun. Control.
Complete gun abolition or prohibition? No.
Reduction and regulation? Yes.
By Nicole Rendler, Managing Editor
This will probably be the first and only time I will say this, but there is no reason for girls to be included.
This was my gut reaction to the announcement on Oct. 11 that Boy Scouts of America will officially be allowing girls into the Cub Scout ranks of their organization as well as making a new program for them in the higher ranks.
As an Ambassador, the highest ranking of Girl Scouts, and as a dedicated scout since age five, it feels terribly wrong to see Boy Scouts including girls.
It feels as if Girl Scouts is suddenly not good enough, despite the 1.8 million girls actively in participation.
I feel like another thing I loved has been stolen from me by a misogynistic bully.
I feel ignored and invisible, as if my 12 years in Girl Scouts have been reduced to nothingness.
I feel like I am losing a game I never signed up to play.
In the official announcement, the Boy Scouts of America National Board Chairman Randall Stephenson said, “I’ve seen nothing that develops leadership skills and discipline like this organization.”
My time in my Girl Scout troop has taught me leadership skills and discipline, as well as, respect, marketing and responsibility.
When I help plan our trips and coordinate our meals and activities, I learn to be a leader.
When I keep my cool when I am frustrated with my leader or troop mate, I learn about discipline.
When I shake people’s hands and make friends with girl scouts from other cities, I learn about respect.
When I convince people to buy their fourth box of cookies with a smile, I learn about marketing.
When I handle hundreds of dollars after cookie season, I learn about responsibility.
While activities in Girl Scouts might be different and not as well known or understood, the lessons closely resemble those taught in Boy Scouts.
We grow as young women, we grow as a team, we grow as citizens, we grow as people.
The acceptance of girls into Boy Scouts is a message that Girl Scouts is inferior and incompetent, that without the touch of male opinions and ideas, we are not learning enough, we are not prepared.
But this message comes from men who do not know, who have not experienced Girl Scouts and have no right to be making such a decision.
The idea of equality and the removal of gender divisions is admirable, but so much of our lives are already co-ed.
My troop has always been a safe, welcoming place where I can go for advice, guidance and inspiration from my female role models.
I am fully capable of listening to advice from boys and men around me, but I can not always apply it to my life because their comments and opinions come from a different perspective of the world.
I have cherished my troop as a community where I can learn from the girls around me, where I can speak my mind without the fear of being interrupted by mansplaining, where I can laugh with my sister scouts and truly feel like I am learning, growing and being a part of something beautiful.
There is something so comforting about having a sanctuary of supportive girls and women.
My brother is 14 years old and a Life Scout, and I love him to death.
I go to his Court of Honors.
I cheer for him, loudly.
I socialize with his troop mates, asking about their scout trips and their badges.
I smile when they tell me jokes about scouting.
I feel a connection because we are all scouts, but I also know that there is a disconnect because I am a girl scout and they are boy scouts.
And in this situation, I revel in that disconnect.