From transportation to nightlife, I thought that the nuances of being a Brandeisian were not explained well enough, and we were left to learn too much on our own. Now, after successfully completing my first year, I cannot help but chuckle at just how misguided my earlier thoughts were. The very purpose of the first year of college is to be out of the know. Undergoing a multitude of experiences, making mistakes and taking questionable risks help one grow as a person. Essentially, the first year is about being willing to jump and not fearing the fall.
“We are not doing our children any favors when we borrow from their future in order to invest in systems and policies that are not yielding better results.” Now, your first thought upon reading this quote may be that someone is stealing candy from our children's hands to develop a machine to bring dinosaurs back from the dead, find the last number of pi or discover the Fountain of Youth. I wish that this was actually the case. Instead, this was said by Betsy DeVos, the head of the United States Department of Education, in a prepared testimony before a House subcommittee considering the Department of Education’s budget request for the next fiscal year in regards to the usefulness of special-needs programs. Her new plan entails creating a tax cut for individuals and companies to encourage them to donate to private school scholarships and adding an additional $60 million to charter school funding. Aside from the obscene elitism behind this addition, the real disgust is that she is eliminating $18 million of funding from the Special Olympics.
In light of the recent sexual abuse scandals that have arisen from the political, athletic and entertainment sectors, this year’s International Women’s day could not have come at a better time. This staple of the women’s rights movement was memorialized in 1909 and has been going strong every year since. From strikes and sit-ins to ‘women in business’ panels and concerts, the varied activities that commemorate this day are centered around women’s empowerment, love and appreciation. Internationally, both women and men have banded together on a unified front to show support for their sisters.
As current United States citizens, we live in Thomas Jefferson’s state of Civic Republicanism. This Jeffersonian idea claims that we have a civic duty to not only our fellow man, but our community. As active citizens, we have an obligation to participate in civic affairs. Besides voting, we are expected to march, organize sit-ins and employ other methods of protest to ensure our voices are heard. Through this sacrifice of time and other responsibilities, we become the catalysts for the changes we seek.
When you were younger, did you ever do something you were not supposed to and avoid punishment by blaming another? Whether it be a sibling or pet, someone always has to take the blame. Without assigning blame, how can there be justice? This notion of the wrongly accused goes far beyond blaming your sister for breaking the dishwasher or your dog for eating your homework; many individuals have been wrongly imprisoned for another’s crime for generations. Some spend decades behind bars for crimes they did not commit. These individuals are wrongly imprisoned on behalf of a false accusation. Then, to add insult to injury, the little justice they received from being released is negligible at best because states are not mandated to compensate these people, and many tend to be uneducated and unemployed. Unfortunately, these forgotten members of our society are set up to fail. As this is clearly unacceptable, states should be mandated to pay an annual minimum of $50,000 to each individual once they have been exonerated.
Now that you have stuffed the last piece of turkey into your mouth, experienced the agony of waiting in endless lines for limited sales at odd hours of the morning and worn through your laptop’s trackpad searching for the hottest cyber deals, it’s time to relinquish the satisfying feeling of limitless indulgence.
How much is your life worth? It is an abstract concept to wrap your head around, because the gut reaction is to value your life above anything else. Currently, we are young students still deciding how to personalize a version of life that satisfies our ambitions and desires. Unlike older generations, we do not have children to worry about or the societal norms of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s breathing down our necks, feeding us the expected “right and wrong” way to go about life. We are Millennials and Generation Z: Young, passionate innovators who have brought about some of the most progressive strides in activism, technology, entertainment and sports through figures such as Malala Yousafzai, Evan Spiegel, Justin Bieber, Simone Biles and countless others. As we contemplate what we want to be after the label of student wears away, we have endless possible titles ready to be substituted. Although the older generation’s definition of life differs from ours, their readiness to die for their passion is inspiring.