I would like to preface this article by saying that I am discussing mail-in voting from a politically neutral standpoint. In the 2020 election, mail-in voting is an issue that has taken on a life of its own, and both sides have discounted the concerns of the other. As a college student who is unable to make it home for election day, I have been voting by mail for a few years. Whatever your stance may be politically, I ask you to read this article with an open mind so that we may engage in a meaningful discussion about the pros and cons of mail-in voting. I fear that Americans are no longer engaging with those they oppose and instead are repeating the position of their preferred political party. If we stay on this course, I am afraid that the United States will fracture beyond repair.
As if 2020 wasn’t bad enough, California is literally on fire. Wildfires have engulfed millions of acres of land across California, Oregon and Washington. These wildfires are the worst that California has seen in over 18 years, and it has been reported that San Francisco, Portland and Seattle have the worst air quality in the entire world. Oregon’s air quality is so poor that it has surpassed the state’s Air Quality Index scale, which is a tool used by the government to measure the level of pollution in the air. On this scale, the highest possible score an area can receive is 500 and is considered to be the most hazardous. The city of Sisters, Oregon, recently scored a 582. Back in August, major cities in Oregon were scoring an 11. I could continue to list depressing facts about this crisis. I could even mention how a firefighter lost their life to the El Dorado wildfire that began as a gender reveal party. No matter how many news organizations cover the horrors of the wildfires or middle-aged moms post a picture on Facebook “sending their prayers,” the only people who have the power to enact lasting change are our government officials.
Unless you have been living under a rock, then you have probably noticed the introduction of reusable straws around campus. The supposed intent behind this new green initiative is to cut back on the use of single-use plastics, of which I am completely in favor. The abundance of single-use plastics in existence has exacerbated the effects of climate change by contributing to greenhouse gas emissions around the world. This initiative to stop using plastic straws is not just isolated to Brandeis University — this is a global movement in which the consumer is being challenged to consider how even the smallest actions, such as using a straw, have drastic consequences on the environment. However, though I am in support of holding ourselves accountable for climate change and its impact on our environment, I am not on board with the focus on blaming the consumer. Instead, I believe that we should shift our collective gaze on the giant conglomerates responsible for the mess we find ourselves in now and hold them accountable for the absolute destruction these companies have caused in our world.
Chances are that you have heard talk of impeaching President Trump. On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted in favor of an impeachment inquiry, the fourth time that our nation has voted in favor of an impeachment inquiry for a sitting president. This impeachment case is primarily based on the accusation that Trump demanded information from the president of Ukraine about his political opponent Joe Biden in exchange for military aid. Whether or not Trump did in fact make these demands, I am most concerned with what will happen after he is out of office, whether that be through impeachment or the end of his term. I think that what would be most beneficial to the country as a whole would be to remove the President from office.
In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, I wanted to address one major issue facing a segment of the community at Brandeis. I would like to preface this by making a distinction between mental health and mental illness. Mental health refers to an individual’s psychological, social and emotional well-being. Mental illness is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health “as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder.” At one point or another we all experience a time in our life when our mental health is challenged. From my experience as a Brandeis student, I can say that the stress from academics has at times put a strain on my mental well-being. Mental illness is a health condition and should be treated as seriously as any other disease. As the Canadian Mental Health Association says, “Just as it’s possible to have poor mental health but no mental illness, it’s entirely possible to have good mental health even with a diagnosis of a mental illness.” It is important to clearly define these two terms because they are too often used interchangeably.
I was trying my best to work off the box of cookies I had eaten earlier in the day when a surprising video popped up on my newsfeed — a clip about universal basic income. As someone who was trying to bike their way out of caloric purgatory, I of course was interested in anything that could keep my mind off of the pain I was feeling. What ensued was a barrage of information explaining how a universal basic income would be the solution to the country’s poverty problem. So, if the claims about it are to be believed, why is there so little buzz around this idea?