<![CDATA[The Johns Hopkins News-Letter]]> Fri, 07 Oct 2022 01:21:42 -0400 Fri, 07 Oct 2022 01:21:42 -0400 SNworks CEO 2022 The Johns Hopkins News-Letter <![CDATA[My mother's hand in my life]]>

This past summer, I watched a matinee with my mom every Monday at our local AMC Theater.

We picked our movies almost arbitrarily. One week an indie film about a slow-burn romance set in foggy London. The next a major action blockbuster (think: Yakuza and locomotives) upon which my mother - who usually prefers drama over action - awarded the glowing review of not bad.

The choice of film was less important to us than the time spent together, but that doesn't mean we didn't have an extensive discussion after each showing.

Our Monday routine began with a movie around 10 a.m. followed by afternoon tea at one of the only dim sum shops in our suburban community. Over little plates of cheung fun and har gow, my mom and I would trade reviews of our respective viewing experiences.

My cinematic tastes usually rely on three things: pretty cinematography, a moving soundtrack and attractive actors. My mother, on the other hand, takes a much more refined and holistic approach to movie-watching that touches on technical aspects of lighting and camerawork, acting ability, plot structure and editing style.

Her understanding of movies comes from a combination of her film degree, her past work as a TV director in Hong Kong and her innate knack for analysis (on matters both on and off screen).

It's safe to say that my mom's love and knowledge of movies influenced my own experience of cinema growing up. My childhood is full of many happy memories sitting cross-legged in big plush theater seats and peering up at a silver screen. I've grown to subsume many of her opinions on specific films, partially because her rationale behind them is so expertly persuasive.

My mother's artistic influence goes beyond cultivating my love for movies though. I would not be where I am today - a Writing Seminars major at Hopkins - without her artistic background and her kind but firm hand.

My mother, having grown up somewhat estranged from her own parents, learned the importance and value of freedom and independence early on. She exercised that freedom in her 20s when she decided to leave Hong Kong and study film in Los Angeles. Her first flight ever was a 17-hour flight to the U.S., a place she was entirely unfamiliar with culturally, geographically and linguistically.

While my mother is not as much of a risk taker anymore, she still brought that mentality of independence to how she raised me and my sister.

Rather than signing me up for piano or ballet classes as a child, she gave me the freedom to choose what I wanted to do. You might balk at this idea. How can a seven-year-old safely decide for herself what she really wants to do? What if her immature decisions cause her to miss out on some valuable experience or hidden talent?

My mother wasn't so much concerned with training my technical skills as she was concerned that I was forging my own path, gaining independence and enjoying my childhood.

Because of this, I decided from a very young age that I did not want to play piano or violin or take ballet lessons or sign up for after-school tutoring. No, I wanted to read.

My weekends were spent in the library buried in a stack of books, feasting on words and stories, forming in my mind the beginnings of my own stories, which developed in me from a very young age, a love of writing. This love is what eventually led me to where I am today.

I'm eternally thankful for my mother's parenting style and her loving acceptance of my choices. Yet, despite her best attempts to cultivate a strong and independent spirit within me, I am inevitably - as a still growing person - fallible to doubts.

I sometimes question my own decision to pursue writing in college. I think of myself as a happy, privileged fool. Happy in the sense that I'm pursuing what makes me happy. Privileged in that I have the financial stability and opportunities to do so. And a fool in the sense that I will pay for my own happiness in the future through financial ruin and instability.

In Chinese there's a saying that translates to "wealth does not last beyond three generations." The first generation, starting off poor, makes money. The second generation, growing up middle-class, stewards the money. And the last generation, growing up wealthy, squanders and uses the money.

Another saying, this time American, expresses the same sentiment: "shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations."

In some ways, my pursuit of an arts degree is like a fast track to the third generation of financial squander. The middle-class status that my parents cultivated is now being wasted by my pursuit of a seemingly fruitless career.

My own contemplations on my choices are met with many conflicting perspectives. First the perspective from my religion which preaches a release from earthly pleasures, a rejection of the extreme accumulation of wealth and an embrace of humble, meaningful living.

But from a more practical standpoint, the perspective of my friends who do not have the privilege of pursuing arts careers and instead must wage through pre-med classes and engineering internships to find their footing in life.

And finally, my mother.

My mother grew up poor and neglected by her family. Her faith in God formed the foundation of her emotional and mental stability. She decided, despite her impoverished upbringing, to pursue an arts career.

In some ways, her decision is very much informed by her time. She lived in a generation where people could afford to fund their degrees simply by working a minimum wage job for a few years. The choices back then were more diverse and more attainable.

This is a reality I wish everyone could have. I wish the choices could be more diverse and attainable for everyone. I wish we all had that privilege, that the framework of our society was built to cultivate these opportunities in everyone instead of only a few.

Somewhat paradoxically, I hope that after working hard to sustain their wealth, my friends are not afraid to have it squandered. I hope they can give their children the freedom to decide. And I hope my friends can give themselves the freedom to enjoy and create art in ways they could not before.

I hope I can handle the future, and I hope this is all worth it. And after my mom one day leaves, I hope to look back at these years fondly. I hope what I create can be a testament to who she is.

Aliza Li is a junior from Houston, Texas studying Writing Seminars. She is the Voices Editor for The News-Letter. Her column discusses her journey as a writer and how words have transformed her life.

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COURTESY OF ALIZA LI

Li discusses her mother's influence on her decision to pursue writing.

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<![CDATA[Events this weekend (Oct. 7 - 9)]]> I don't know about you, Blue Jays, but I am more ready than ever to be out and about given all of the rain we've just endured. Check out the super fun events in the city as we ring in October!

All Weekend

50th Annual Baltimore Greek Festival, Oct. 6 at 5 - 9 p.m., Oct. 7 and 8 at 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. and Oct. 9 at 12 - 5 p.m.

Head down to Mid-Town Belvedere for a celebration of Greek food, pastries, dancing and culture! The festival will take place at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, which sits just near Penn Station. Find more details on Facebook.

Saturday

Ya' Gotta Regotta, 11 a.m.

You should go to this event for the awesome name alone. This fundraiser for the Downtown Sailing Center doubles as a lively festival with live music, food trucks, a bar and raffle prizes for attendees. The event will take place near Riverside, which is past the Inner Harbor to the south. Find more information about the festival on Facebook.

20th Annual Pigtown Festival, 12 - 7 p.m.

Discover the adorable Pigtown neighborhood at the Pigtown Festival! Come enjoy live music, the "Squeakness" pig race, a pie eating contest and over 80 local food, drink and shopping vendors. Find more information about the event on Facebook.

World Oddities Expo, 12 - 8 p.m.

Get in the Halloween spirit with the World Oddities Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center! The expo promises live entertainment, workshops, tattoos and unique items from small vendors. Tickets start at $20 on Eventbrite.

Sunday

Garden Art Party 2022 at Whitelock Community Farm, 1 - 5 p.m.

In the Reservoir Hill neighborhood right next to Remington, the wonderful Whitelock Community Farm provides fresh produce for its neighbors amid the city bustle. This weekend, join the farm for a fun afternoon of art-making, open mic performances and a community potluck. Find more information on Facebook!

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JOHN D'CRUZ / GRAPHICS EDITOR

Our Leisure Editor is back for your weekly dose of awesome Baltimore events! Check out the upcoming festivities.

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<![CDATA[In SGA, we (wish we could) trust]]> According to its constitution, the Student Government Association (SGA) was founded upon "the importance of strengthening student unity, representing student interests and providing a forum for the exchange of ideas." Unfortunately, we're not sure these lofty ideals are being met.

We notice SGA making efforts to plan and improve events now that we're fully back on campus, such as the Instagram Raffle Bill and the Well-Being Fair Funding Bill. But there should be a balance between organizing leisure-based activities and addressing important issues on campus.

We are disappointed that SGA has yet to comment on the University's resumed implementation of the Johns Hopkins Police Department (JHPD), despite recent town halls and protests attended by students. We know SGA is capable of addressing the contentious issue. In 2019, SGA passed a resolution opposing the University's bill to create the JHPD, and in 2020, it signed a petition calling for a permanent end to the formation of the private police force.

But two years have passed, and as far we know, SGA has stayed silent. If SGA has been raising concerns about the JHPD to administration, the student body hasn't been made aware.

We have the right to know about the projects and initiatives of our elected officials. Unfortunately, the current SGA has shown a lackluster effort in promoting transparency in all areas of the organization.

Multiple aspects of SGA's website are not up-to-date.

All of the meeting minutes since April 26 have been duplicates of the same document, which still lists students who no longer hold office, and there aren't any notes or records of what was discussed. Information on how to start a campus-wide referendum or recall election for an elected member of SGA is outdated - as of publication, the document still makes references to the completely online modality of fall 2020.

The featured initiatives page on SGA's website states that SGA is "working with Dean of Academic and Student Services Andy Wilson on resolving issues with retrievals of packed belongings and planning for greater demand once students return to campus." However, as of April 2022, Andy Wilson no longer works at Hopkins. And we suspect this initiative dates back to fall 2020, when students were finally able to pick up the items they had left in their dorms at the start of the pandemic.

Clearly, SGA needs to address this blatant lack of transparency. For an organization that has "student" in the name, SGA is notably disconnected from the student body.

The SGA Constitution lists objectives such as "strengthening student unity" and "representing student interests." Needless to say, we think SGA could be doing a better job.

The lack of participation among the student body is telling. In a recent election to fill a vacant senior class senator position, only 92 members of the Class of 2023 voted. But this low voter turnout wasn't surprising - last spring, only 426 votes were cast for executive board elections.

What's more, when students do decide to vote, they don't have many options to choose from. Last year, three out of four executive board races were uncontested. Students, understandably, are less inclined to participate when they think it won't make a difference.

We know SGA can't force anyone to vote or run for office. But the group should be doing more throughout the year to increase student interest and engagement.

A key way that other student organizations keep the public informed is through social media. SGA lists two platforms on its website, Facebook and Instagram. We couldn't find the Facebook page - as of publication, the username listed results in an error message. Meanwhile, the Rules Bill dictates that the executive board update Facebook monthly. And though the SGA Instagram account is active via Stories, there hasn't been a new post on its feed since April.

While running for the executive board, candidates stressed the importance of improving communication and increasing community engagement. It's been over six months since these students were elected. It's unclear what tangible actions they have taken - or if there have been any at all - to effect the changes they based their campaigns on. The student body deserves more than empty promises.

All that being said, we recognize that SGA can only address the concerns brought to its attention. SGA has failed students, but students have failed to apply pressure. If you'd like to see changes within SGA, or Hopkins in general, let your elected officials know what you think. Meet SGA on Keyser Quad tomorrow. Become a class senator. Make SGA more than just a line on someone's resume.

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<![CDATA[Hopkins lacrosse's partnership with The Players NIL presents tools to develop student-athletes]]> Lacrosse is the most celebrated sport at Hopkins, representing the University in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division-I college lacrosse. The men's team has won 44 national championships, including nine NCAA Division-I titles, 29 U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association titles and six Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association titles, making them the first all-time in titles by any college lacrosse team and second to Syracuse in NCAA-era national titles.

In July 2021, the NCAA made a major change to its policy, enabling student-athletes to monetize their intellectual property. Though a fantastic opportunity, many student-athletes are unsure as to how to navigate that sphere and make those educated decisions.

Who are you? What do you want to do when your sport goes away? What do you stand for? What's your brand? What's your legacy? These are questions that many student-athletes need the answers to, and one resource that strives to help them reach the peak of their athletic and personal growth is The Players NIL.

On Sept. 1 the University announced its partnership with The Players NIL in an effort to provide "name, image and likeness" (NIL) to its lacrosse programs.

In an interview with The News-Letter, The Players NIL founder Mark Koesterer drew upon his own life when asked about why he started this organization.

"Wouldn't it be great if we could use athletics to better the lives of people around us? For those in our community - our neighbors, our friends and our family," he said.

As a former Division-II football player, Koesterer took his own lived experiences and made them into a program that would benefit a future generation of young athletes. From receiving advice from his father, who was a junior high gym teacher, to his collegiate career as a Division-II football player to his involvement in his children's athletic journeys, Koesterer is motivated to promote education among athletes.

The Players NIL is an online platform designed to help student athletes through the process of professional development throughout their career, from high school athletics and college recruitment to post-collegiate careers. The program has an extensive range, covering topics such as handling mental health and rehabilitation to professional networking and raising capital for a startup.

At Hopkins, lacrosse athletes will have the opportunity to listen in on seminars, participate in Zoom meetings and attend guest panels. They are also required to complete the Five-Pillars Course, which is a specially-designed curriculum catered towards success both on and off the field. The five-hour course addresses the topics of personal brand development, influencer and brand relations, legal, tax and compliance, philanthropy and community service and financial literacy.

These courses are dynamically produced. Each course contains interactive videos, cartoons, games, tests and scores to gauge one's knowledge of the section and keep them engaged. Students can also earn badges by moving through different stages of the course, which they can then post on social media as proof of their growing knowledge and skillset.

The Players NIL also has an abundance of partnerships aimed at increasing opportunities for its athletes. In May of 2022, the organization announced a strategic partnership with BuzzU, a software company and provider of local marketability rates, to offer marketability scores for student-athletes. Through this collaboration, students are offered a grade on their local marketability and measurement of their reach.

Though currently catered towards student-athletes of all ages and disciplines, The Players NIL is not exclusive to only that group. Koesterer explained that these skills are fundamental to those pursuing a multitude of careers, including music, science and art.

Koesterer shared his vision for the future of The Players NIL, both overall and with Hopkins.

"We're at the beginning of this. We want to establish ourselves as an Athlete Focused Center of Excellence," he said. "We're here for the long term for the education of the student-athlete, to support the lacrosse program and [Hopkins] athletics as a whole."

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COURTESY OF HOPKINS SPORTS and THE PLAYERS NIL

The Players NIL and Hopkins announced a new partnership to provide name, image and likeness (NIL) education for the nationally renowned men's and women's lacrosse programs.

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<![CDATA[Jim Obergefell kicks off MSE Symposium]]> The Milton S. Eisenhower (MSE) Symposium hosted the first speaker, Jim Obergefell, in the first event of the 2022 "The Road Ahead" series on Sept. 28. Obergefell was the lead plaintiff in the 2015 Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage in the United States. He spoke of his journey from an "accidental activist" to a "purposeful activist," now publicly advocating for gay rights.

Obergefell opened his talk by detailing his discovery and acceptance of his identity. He met his partner, John Arthur, for the first time while still closeted to the world. When confronted with the question of his sexuality during a road trip with two classmates, Obergefell describes the moment when he first opened up about his identity to others.

"All of this is happening, my life is flashing in front of my eyes... It was my turn, and I surprised myself by answering gay," he said. "To anyone who's ever admitted that to another person, that feeling of relief, that feeling of a weight lifting off our shoulders was incredible."

In June 2012, Arthur was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an incurable terminal illness that deteriorates the brain's ability to relay messages to the person's body. Nearly a year later in April 2013, Obergefell became Arthur's full-time caregiver as he began home hospice care.

"This is the man I love. This is the person who's most important to me in my life. When you love someone, you take care of them," he said.

On June 26, 2013, Obergefell and Arthur heard the news of the Supreme Court overturning the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor. This overturned the federal act that defined marriage as solely between a man and woman, thus opening the door for the recognition of same-sex marriage.

After deciding to get married in Maryland, Obergefell worked on finding a means of getting Arthur there and back, and on July 11, 2013 Obergefell and Arthur got married.

"I got to take his hand, and we got to say those words that we wanted to say for so long... And it's not an exaggeration to say it was the happiest moment of our life together," he said. "We felt better, we felt more complete. We just felt seen."

Al Gerhardstein, a civil rights attorney in Cincinnati, reached out to Obergefell and Arthur about a hurdle in the recognition of same-sex marriages. Gerhardstein explained to the newlyweds how, upon Arthur's death, the state of Ohio would not recognize Obergefell as Arthur's surviving spouse on his death certificate. Gerhardstein asked Obergefell and Arthur if they wanted to do something about this issue, and they quickly agreed.

11 days after getting married, Obergefell was in the courtroom for the hearing of their case.

"I got to take that stand and look the judge right in the eye as I talked about John," he said. "I talked about what he meant to me, what our marriage meant to both of us and what it meant for the state of Ohio to ignore us, to pretend we don't exist.

Obergefell expressed the importance of voting in all elections to ensure that the government and judicial system represents the values shared by the populace.

Junior Nessa Trombetta felt that there was a collective agreement on the inspiring and moving influence of Obergefell's story in an interview with The News-Letter.

"To be in the presence of somebody who has created such a change, it's a reminder of so much work to do," Trombetta said. "I really appreciated it. It gives me hope that we still have a chance, even if things look bad right now."

In an interview with The News-Letter, junior Hardy Williams related to Obergefell's story on a personal level and reflected on its influence on the Hopkins community.

"I'm gay, and I remember when Obergefell happened. I've always wanted to hear his story, and I'm happy I did. His story was really powerful, and I thought it resonated with Hopkins," Williams said.

In an interview with The News-Letter, junior Shreya Sriramineni, one of the programming chairs for the MSE Symposium, emphasized the careful planning and emphasis on diversity that goes into organizing the speaker events.

Sriramineni encourages all members of the Hopkins community to take the opportunity to listen to these Symposium speakers. The series is excited to welcome more speakers for the 2022-23 season.

"Everyone is very busy, especially in a STEM-dominated campus culture, but I think civic engagement is an important thing, and being engaged with the world is important to carve out time for," she said. "We also invite a wide variety of speakers, so if you just want a piece of what you see in the news, you should attend an MSE event!"

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COURTESY OF KAYLA RABEY

Jim Obergefell shared his story in the fight for marriage equality at the MSE Symposium event.

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<![CDATA[Ranking NBA contenders]]>

The National Basketball Association (NBA) season will start soon with 30 teams vying for the championship. However, each year there are only a few real contenders. The rest are a mix of teams stuck in basketball purgatory, tanking for a top draft pick and young rebuilding squads. Here is my evaluation of all title contenders, dark horses and pretenders.

Legitimate title contenders: Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers

The Warriors are the reigning NBA champions. The core of the team remains strong. The electric duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are still deadly from range, Draymond Green is still a defensive anchor and Andre Iguodala is tagging along for one last dance. However, the most intriguing part of the team is their young promising players - Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and James Wiseman have each shown flashes of potential. If this trio continues to develop, the star power of the Warriors will almost be unmatched. The Warriors should be seen as favorites to repeat as NBA champions.

The Boston Celtics lost in a crushing game six defeat last year at TD Garden. They added Malcolm Brogdon in the offseason to alleviate some playmaking and scoring concerns off the bench. If Robert Williams "Time Lord" comes back healthy then this team has the best depth in the league. But what concerns me is the coaching situation. This season will be Joe Mazzulla's first stint as a head coach. Will he be able to manage the egos that Brad Stevens could not? If the Celtics add Frank Vogel or another experienced coach to the bench, it would be a nice bonus. While I am optimistic in Mazzulla's abilities, I am still nervous about another rookie head coach. Despite this, I believe the Celtics is the favorite to win the East.

On paper, the Milwaukee Bucks with a healthy Khris Middleton is the best team on paper in the East. However, I am concerned that Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez and Middleton are all in their 30s. Will Giannis Antetokounmpo be able to carry the load if his co-stars do not age gracefully? Probably. Antetokounmpo is still the beast of the East, and while I think the Celtics has a slight edge over the Bucks, I would not be surprised to see Antetokounmpo in the finals again.

The only concern I have about the Clippers is health-related. On paper, and I reiterate on paper, this team is the best in the league. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Reggie Jackson, John Wall, Luke Kennard, Marcus Morris, Norman Powell, Robert Covington and more - the team is legitimately stacked. In my opinion, if Leonard stays healthy, this team will win the championship.

Dark horses: Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans

The Rudy Gobert blockbuster trade surprised everyone. Minnesota gave up four picks and a pick swap to acquire the big man from the Utah Jazz. I liked this move, and I still like this move. Small market teams need to go big; they cannot rely on free agency. Gobert provides a defensive presence alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and a roll man for D'Angelo Russell. Minnesota will be a team no one wants to see in the playoffs.

The New Orleans core of Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson will terrorize defenses. Guard CJ McCollum will probably average 18 to 20 points. Jonas Valančiūnas will continue to be a dominant offensive force at the five. If Williamson stays healthy, this team might make a deep playoff push.

Pretenders: Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Lakers

Perhaps naming Miami Heat a pretender is too harsh. I will never disrespect Miami's front office; they are capable of finding and developing gems every year. Erik Spoelstra is a top-five coach in the league, and Jimmy Butler has a winning gene in him that I wish Jayson Tatum had. However, Kyle Lowry looked cooked in the series against Boston. Maybe he re-emerges as a top point guard, but he looks to be on the wrong side of 36. I could be wrong however, and I will not be surprised if Miami clinches the number one seed again.

Kyrie Irving stomped on Lucky the Leprechaun, and Brooklyn was never the same again. Irving and Kevin Durant have been non-stop drama since the offseason began. I doubt this team will be cohesive enough to do anything in the regular season or in the playoffs.

Chris Paul looked old against the Dallas Mavericks. Choking another 2-0 series lead is just incredible. Deandre Ayton and Head Coach Monty Williams have not spoken since their meltdown against Dallas. This team is doomed for another second-round exit.

I want James Harden to be healthy. The version of Harden we saw last year in Philadelphia is not the one we knew in Houston. That version of Harden was the greatest offensive machine since Michael Jordan. This version of Harden looks old and slow. If his hamstring injury is fully healed then this Philadelphia team will be dangerous. I just have very little faith that Harden can recapture his Houston form.

Ja Morant is an exciting player, but I do not think he has enough surrounding star power to compete with the Warriors or the Clippers. Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks and Jaren Jackson Jr. are great pieces, but I think Memphis needs one more star player to be considered a true title contender.

Can Anthony Davis stay healthy? Can Russell Westbrook thrive in a limited usage role? The answer to both is no. LeBron James will have to somehow carry this roster to the playoffs at age 37. I honestly feel bad for him. It is unacceptable that he might legitimately have to drop 50 points every night for this team to sniff the playoffs. Unless the Lakers' front office makes a massive trade, this squad is going nowhere.

The darkest of dark horses: Sacramento Kings

Just hear me out. The Kings have a dynamic duo of De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. Kevin Huerter, Richaun Holmes and Harrison Barnes are nice supporting pieces. I think Davion Mitchell can develop into a top attack defender.

Keegan Murray is my pick to win Rookie of the Year, who has the skills to make 17-20 points per game and make an immediate impact. This is the year Sacramento finally breaks its playoff drought. Maybe they make a surprise run to the finals, who knows?

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ERIC KILBY / CC-BY-SA 2.0

Xiao lists teams as contenders or pretenders for the upcoming NBA season.

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<![CDATA[Creation ex nihilo: author Manil Suri on math, sexuality and the universe]]> Internationally-acclaimed author and mathematician Manil Suri spoke about math, fiction, sexuality and creation in front of a packed Glass Pavilion audience on Sept. 29 in celebration of his latest book, The Big Bang of Numbers: How to Build the Universe Using Only Math.

The event, co-sponsored by the Hopkins Undergraduate Society for Applied Mathematics (HUSAM), South Asian Students at Hopkins, Ex Numera, the Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance, the University Writing Program and the Whiting School of Engineering Center for Leadership Education, chiefly focused on Suri's personal journey through the worlds of mathematics, creative writing and sexual orientation.

In an interview with The News-Letter, HUSAM Co-President Ashwin Pasupathy noted that this thematic diversity was vital in organizing the event.

"It was harder to get clubs to not join than it was to get them to join this event. Dr. Suri's not just a mathematician, he's also a novelist, he's also a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and it's really important to understand that we're not just one thing. It's really great for all undergrad groups who share some of those identities to come and help us out," Pasupathy said.

Suri noted, it's possible to construct the universe from nothingness, a truth revealed to him in an undergraduate algebra class.

"I can show you how to build the integers as well out of nothing - starting with something called the empty set and identifying that with a number zero, much like, centuries ago, the Hindus actually looked at the void and got the number zero out of that. Once you have the number zero, you actually have something and can start generating all the whole numbers," he said. "This is what religion claims to do creation ex nihilo, which means creation out of nothing."

The premise that the entirety of the universe can be created from nothing solely using the rules of mathematics is the core idea of Suri's book which begins from nothing and builds everything in a seven-day cycle of creation involving arithmetic, geometry and physics.

While Suri expounded on his book, he also focused on his personal journey of recognizing pieces of his identity often ignored in the mathematical world, most notably his sexuality, a process which began when Suri came from India to Carnegie Mellon University for graduate school.

"I was just beginning to discover that I might be gay and India at that time, was very repressed, so there was no real scope of exploring that," he said. "[Coming to the United States] was my ticket to actually do something that would help develop my own identity."

He continued to discuss the reality that in many STEM fields, there is an expectation that work is the only topic worth discussing, sharing a story about a statistician who told him that having non-mathematical interests destroys a mathematician's abilities.

"This idea prevails, especially in STEM subjects, that you only talk about work; you don't really bring up extraneous topics," he said. " If you're gay, that's not part of the norm and people in a large part of my career weren't really interested in it, so I never really brought that up and was basically very closeted because of it."

This same culture of exclusivity caused Suri to hide his interest in creative writing from his peers, for example, telling them that he was working on a calculus textbook rather than his first novel, The Death of Vishnu.

His latest book aims to break this division, emphasizing that math is just as much a creative activity as writing or music.

"Being a novelist, I wanted to introduce some elements from that and so what I did was the numbers in this book are actual characters - they are not exactly alive, but I have a lot of fun with them," he said. "Mathematics is a game that you play; you have a set of rules and then you change them and see how far you can go. This playfulness is something that often gets lost in education, so that's what I wanted to introduce and play with."

Associate Research Professor and HUSAM Faculty Advisor Donniell Fishkind, a former student of Suri's at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, discussed how he was inspired to pursue a PhD because of Suri.

"We all know there's a hard upper bound on how interesting a mathematics professor can be, a very hard upper bound, or so I thought," he said. "Then eight years later, Professor Suri publishes a novel and suddenly is catapulted into this sphere is writing blockbuster, internationally acclaimed award-winning novels, and I did not see it coming. I sent him an email saying 'You've inspired me again, and you've given me hope that one day, maybe I too can be cool.'"

Suri closed his talk by urging attendees to continue to explore their identities and their passions, rather than stifling them for the sake of others.

"There is going to be a lot of pressure once you enter the real world to say, 'Okay, I'm not going to do this,'" he said. "But keep that alive somehow because, at some point, you're going to return to that… and that will give you so much freedom and the pure joy of doing it."

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COURTESY OF ZACHARY BAHAR

Academic and author Manil Suri discussed his latest book.

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<![CDATA[Breaking the habit of not taking a break]]>

Looking back at 21-year-old Sudha, I always used to be in so much of a rush. With everything I did - whether it was academics, research or even hobbies - I wanted to be the best. But now that I'm in graduate school, with almost the exact same schedule every day, I have begun to feel like my progress is plateauing.

Once, I read in an article that graduate school work can be as tough as wrangling a beast. You don't really feel like you're a student, but you don't really feel like an adult either. You lack the benefits from either category, like the surplus of free time between classes that you once had in college or the set limits on work that come with clocking out of a job in the 'Adult World.'

When I started graduate school, my first two years flew by as I spent each day taking classes, completing assignments, leading research presentations and attending meetings, to name just a few items in the huge list of what every graduate student must do on a daily basis.

This summer, I began to feel disenchanted with my work. I was no longer motivated to try my best, no longer ambitious or passionate about doing good work. Was this the famous feeling of burnout that I had heard about so many times? Was I really overworking myself?

I took a step back and tried to unwind by going on a few trips and starting a habit of hiking. I also began reading up on burnout and watching TED talks to motivate and inspire myself. Through these moments of reflection, I came to realize a few things.

First, I should embrace the freedom I have in my life. When I was an undergraduate, I had a fixed schedule and hard deadlines for everything to complete. Now that most of my work involves projects, I need to review literature on different topics and write papers but the structure of all these things is very flexible.

It's completely up to me how much I motivate myself to get my work done. That means more responsibility, but it also means more freedom to decide when I need to step back from my tasks.

Another thing I realized was my own unrealistic expectations of myself. My old habits were not always healthy, like telling myself that I could constantly work without taking a break or feeling guilty whenever I hung out with friends and didn't reply to emails immediately. In the worst cases, these habits damaged my relationships with friends, family and significant others.

The picture I painted in my mind of the quintessential scientist came from movies and documentaries about people who only become great by working day and night without ever complaining. I thought that I needed to become like one of these people instead of shaping my own work ethic and finding what is best for me.

This realization helped me decide to invest my time this summer into finding myself, working on my hobbies and spending time with my family (through long-distance but meaningful calls).

In the past, whenever I learned something new or made a change in myself, I always thought I should write about it in my journal. However, despite learning many new things and making many significant changes, whenever I open my journal, the pages are always empty.

It's almost as if the best feelings and lessons are the ones left unexpressed. I adopted this same mindset with school: taking the time to live each day instead of always focusing on accomplishments or the future.

Though it might feel like it, school is not our life. Yes, it's a giant bundle of work that can sometimes feel like a beast, but it doesn't define us. We were people before school and will continue to be people after.

Now that I no longer feel guilty about taking breaks, hanging out with my friends and family actually calms me down and helps me get away from the research life for a bit. My hobbies inspire me and make me happy. Keeping myself happy has become one of my long-term goals.

Breaks are not there to make you fall behind on your tasks; they're there to help you reevaluate your time and be the best student you can be without falling apart! Remember you are a person first. Don't just survive in graduate school, thrive in it.

Sudha Yadav is a graduate student from North India in the Department of Chemistry. Her column, "Crystal From the Valleys," talks about the roller coaster ride of grad life, seeing beauty in chemistry and getting inspiration from nature.

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COURTESY OF SUDHA YADAV

Feeling the effects of burnout, Yadav adjusts her mindset on breaks and takes life one day at a time.

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<![CDATA[To watch and watch for: week of Oct. 2]]> With the first round of midterms seemingly sneaking up already, it's certainly around the time when we're all pressed for time. But, in a little twist of counterintuition, this week might actually be perfect to squeeze in a trip to the theater, read the first chapter of a book or switch up your playlist. I've always found those pockets of time to be a brilliant way to unwind. All the noise quiets down for a minute and you can simply - wonderfully - escape.

The films opening this week include the hugely anticipated Amsterdam, the epitome of Hollywood ensemble casting, and Tár, a boundary-breaking indie. The Cannes Film Festival darling Triangle of Sadness is finally making its way into theaters too.

For the bookworms, murder runs amok in Pretty Dead Queens while Our Missing Hearts is said to deliver a gut-wrenching meditation on motherhood. If that isn't your cup of tea, non-fiction literature is getting a timely addition: Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus attempts to make sense of the pandemic.

In the music world, Charlie Puth's long-awaited album Charlie is finally on its way, as is Oh Wonder's surprise new album 22 Make.

Below is what to watch and watch for this week. Enjoy!


To watch…

Mr. Harrigan's Phone, directed by John Lee Hancock - Oct. 5

A young boy (Jaeden Martell) discovers he can communicate with his deceased friend (Donald Sutherland) in this thriller based on Stephen King's collection If It Bleeds.

Tár, directed by Todd Field - Oct. 7

This unconventional drama follows a renowned musician Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) as she attempts to write the greatest symphony of her career.

Triangle of Sadness, directed by Ruben Östlund - Oct. 7

This year's winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, the latest film from Swedish filmmaker Östlund centers around the aftermath of a disaster on a luxury cruise.

Amsterdam, directed by David O. Russell - Oct. 7

In a blending of fact and fiction, Amsterdam tells the outrageous story of three friends (Christian Bale, Margot Robbie and John David Washington) who become suspects in a murder.

The Midnight Club, created by Mike Flanagan - Oct. 7

A group of five terminally ill patients come together at midnight to share scary stories in this horror thriller series.


To read…

Our Missing Hearts, by Celeste Ng - Oct. 4

Set in an alternate society ruled by fear, a young boy embarks on a journey to find his mother, drawing him into the worlds of history, folktales and literature.

Pretty Dead Queens, by Alexa Donne - Oct. 4

A teenage girl is drawn into a murder investigation after her town's homecoming queen is killed, leading her to uncover secrets from long ago.

Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus, by David Quammen - Oct. 4

From the perspectives of the scientists studying the coronavirus, this nonfiction delves into the nature of viruses, exploring all that we have learned and have yet to learn.

A Scatter of Light, by Malinda Lo - Oct. 4

A Bay Area teen spends the summer before college navigating her identity in this queer coming-of-age tale.


To listen…

22 Make, by Oh Wonder - Oct. 7

The surprise second act of alt-pop duo Oh Wonder's 22 Break, this album promises to be life-affirming and optimistic.

Charlie, by Charlie Puth - Oct. 7

Made over the pandemic, popular singer-songwriter Puth's third studio album is said to be one of reinvention and starting anew.

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COURTESY OF MARY KATE MCCORMICK

Amsterdam, Our Missing Hearts and Charlie are a few of the most anticipated picks this week.

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<![CDATA[The Stoop Storytelling Series showcases public health narratives]]> The Stoop Storytelling Series and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health collaborated to bring the "Hidden in Plain Sight" event to the Enoch Pratt Central Library on Sept. 22. The event featured a live recording of an episode of the Stoop Storytelling Series podcast, published on Oct. 3, where a panel of speakers told their stories about the impact of public health on their lives.

The Stoop was founded in 2006 and has featured the stories of more than 2,500 people, ranging from notable Baltimoreans to everyday people.

Co-Founder and Co-Producer of The Stoop Storytelling Series Laura Wexler conceived the idea of storytelling as a show from her experiences working as a writer in San Francisco.

In an interview with The News-Letter, Wexler discussed the show's origins.

"In 2005, I went to visit a friend in San Francisco, and she took me to a storytelling show which was the first time I knew about storytelling as something you went to see," she said. "I never considered it orally, only ever as a writer, but it was terrific and I loved being there."

Wexler decided to start The Stoop Storytelling Series to showcase stories in Baltimore. It runs its own shows as well as collaborates with other organizations to touch on certain issues. The Stoop's members also hold workshops and trainings, where they teach people how to effectively use storytelling to reach their goals.

After holding many workshops in the public health field, Wexler connected with the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and they developed the idea of doing a show focused on public health.

"A couple of times a year, we will partner with an organization to use our model to explore whatever issue they focus on, and that's what happened with the public health show," Wexler said. "[Public health] really lends itself, as a field, to storytelling,"

With the COVID-19 pandemic, public health has gained more prominence, and Wexler aimed to spread awareness about the relevance of public health in day-to-day life.

"We wanted to use storytelling to make public health issues more accessible and memorable to the average person and let them know there is public health all around you," she said.

At the event, seven different speakers told stories about aspects of public health that they were passionate about.

Carolyn Sufrin, an OB-GYN at the School of Medicine, was one of the speakers who discussed her experience of delivering a baby for an incarcerated woman who was shackled to her bed. This event made her more cognizant of the neglect felt by pregnant incarcerated women and led her to work in jail as an OB-GYN. Now, her research focuses on reproductive healthcare for incarcerated women.

Cleo Hirsch, the director of COVID-19 response for Baltimore Public Schools, was another speaker who told her story of working on large policy changes in a short amount of time while ensuring that vulnerable students were receiving a good education. This involved fighting food insecurity, ensuring a safe transition to in-person teaching and managing testing and contact tracing.

According to Wexler, an important focus of the podcast was to choose a diverse array of stories and storytellers.

"We want to give people space to tell their stories, equalize all the stories around a theme and let people represent stories we don't always hear. It's also a much more interesting event when there are a variety of interpretations of the theme," she said.

The Stoop Storytelling Series has many future events planned, including a collaboration with the Baltimore Museum of Art revolving around migration on Nov. 3.

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NF UTVOL / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Stoop Storytelling Series produced "Hidden in Plain Sight" in collaboration with the Bloomberg School of Public Health to highlight the stories of public health professionals in Baltimore.

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<![CDATA[In focus: In the Mood for Love (2000)]]>

I distinctly remember the suffocating depression I fell into the weekend I went to see Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love at the Charles Theater last semester. There, in the company of an auditorium full of strangers, I watched a profound tragedy that haunts me to this day. I walked out of the theater paralyzed by an all-consuming sadness and spent the weekend trying to forget all about the film. Alas, some things are so beautiful that any amount of pain is worth bearing to witness them, so I found myself back at the Charles on Monday night, watching the film for a second time.

Merely a surface-level analysis of In the Mood for Love can attest that it transcends the romance genre. It follows Mr. Chow (Tony Leung) and Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung), two neighbors in a dingy Hong Kong apartment building in the 1960s. Mere acquaintances at first, they form an intense friendship when they realize that their spouses are having an affair with each other. Their bond remains platonic and innocent, as they meet secretly to work on a martial arts comic book, vowing to be better than their spouses.

They find refuge in each other as their lives crumble around them. They enact imaginary conversations between their spouses that might have led to the affair and practice confronting them about it with each other. They are each other's escape from the world, a sentiment that is mirrored in the film as we never see their spouses' faces, only ever hearing them talk or watching their backs. Thus, the protagonists are in a hermetically-sealed world of their own making as they find a safe haven from the squalor of their personal lives in each other.

Leung and Cheung inhabit these incredibly complex characters with sublime perfection. Leung's Mr. Chow is a mild-mannered man who goes through the ordeal with a smile so sad it is enough to bring the audience to tears by itself. His tragedy is that he inevitably falls in love with Mrs. Chan, who clings on to her vow to be better than her husband despite obviously having similar feelings. He buries these intense feelings deep within him as a secret he can't tell anyone, not even himself, and one can see the pitiful remnants of a love-torn soul in Leung's eyes.

Cheung, in a powerhouse performance that, like Leung's, is a masterclass in subtlety, is absolutely exquisite. She plays Mrs. Chan as a bright-eyed woman who is optimistic about her marriage throughout the film, hanging on to it with her characteristic innocence and devotion. She is aware of the hopelessness of her situation and often weeps uncontrollably in the privacy of her shower, yet she goes on with a twinkle in her eyes and a smile that lights up the entire frame. Her presence was so mesmerizing and her nature so pure that I fell in love with Cheung long before I fell in love with the film.

With a story this juicy and actors so fine, Wong binds everything together with a stylistic indulgence that makes In the Mood for Love a great film. A true modern-day auteur, Wong tells the story with such novelty that the film assumes a distinct personality of its own and the theater is engulfed in its intensely crafted world. Wong constantly plays with time, sometimes going into slow motion with Shigeru Umebayashi's iconic "Yumeji's Theme" playing in the background to accentuate the character's motions, while sometimes jump-cutting across hours, months and years, highlighting both the beauty and transience of the present.

Perhaps the most memorable aspect of the film is the lush cinematography and color that fill each frame. Wong and cinematographer Christopher Doyle compose frames that get imprinted in your brain forever. The ubiquitous use of red throughout feels like a personification of love itself. As the film progresses and the protagonists realize that they too are falling in love, they find themselves trapped in a red cage of love. They are now doomed to their tragedies, for while creating a bubble from the world, they brought the vices they were running away from inside it.

Wong's soundtrack is yet another extremely memorable aspect of the film. Apart from the aforementioned hypnotically soothing "Yumeji's Theme," the film features a number of Spanish and Chinese songs, all of which inexplicably blend seamlessly with the film and its tone. Much like the refuge the protagonists find in each other, for me, the music was the refuge from the tragedy unfolding on screen, as I continued to listen to "Yumeji's Theme" for days on end after watching the film.

Through arresting visual composition and a soundtrack that befriends you, Wong creates an unforgettable sensory experience. The flux of emotions in the viewer is extreme as Wong amplifies each emotion so indiscriminately that the ecstasy of its happiest moments is euphoric and the melancholy of the saddest ones is irreparably heartbreaking.

The audience is completely absorbed in the film's world and the characters' lives and Wong, in his final move of genius, ends the film with an abrupt sledgehammer to the heart. I won't spoil the ending here, for its paralyzing tragedy is the ultimate experience the film has to offer.

It is a great vice of cinephiles like me to romanticize films and give them a profound meaning in our lives. I try to avoid doing that, but every now and then I watch a film like In the Mood for Love and find it impossible to reject the idea that the experience has changed my life. I genuinely believe that I was a different person before that Saturday morning I watched this film and that it has shaped the way I perceive the world since then. It may not be the profound experience for each viewer as it was for me, but it is an undisputed work of art and a masterpiece if there ever was one.

Varen Talwar is a sophomore from India studying Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. His column focuses on world cinema, seminal works in cinema history and cinephile culture in Baltimore.

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WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANIZATION / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Maggie Cheung is the lead actress of Wong Kar Wai's 2000 romance drama In the Mood for Love.

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<![CDATA[Protestors obstruct second town hall on JHPD, while the third town hall held fully online]]> The University broadcasted its second virtual town hall on Sept. 29 at the School of Medicine's campus in East Baltimore and its third fully virtual town hall on Sept. 30. The town halls were intended to garner community feedback on the draft of the Johns Hopkins Police Department (JHPD) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Students and community members opposed to the JHPD interrupted proceedings at the town hall on Sept. 29. This followed the first town hall on Sept. 22, held at the Homewood campus, which was moved online after protestors staged a "Die-In" at the in-person event.

In an interview with The News-Letter, Vice President for Public Safety Branville Bard Jr. asserted that students and community members should accept the need for policing.

"Policing is always going to be a necessary component of public safety," he said. "I would ask that everyone take up our collective energies and focus on how we can make this police department the most accountable department as the legislature intended it to be."

Chris Tallent, a Baltimore resident and Hopkins alum, expressed doubts about JHPD's purpose in an interview with The News-Letter.

"The Hopkins private police force is connected to efforts by [Hopkins] to control the city," he said. "[Middle East] is a perfect example. [Hopkins] is responsible - [they] kicked out 800 Black families from this neighborhood, so they could try to gentrify the neighborhood and move in a whiter and wealthier population. That's wrong."

The East Baltimore Development Initiative, a $1.8 billion partnership between the University and the city of Baltimore, is intended to reshape the neighborhood known as the Middle East. As part of the project, 800 predominantly Black and brown families were resettled outside of the neighborhood, with few able to move back.

Alisha, a student at Hopkins using a pseudonym, stressed that the University should focus on community needs in an interview with The News-Letter.

"Supporting the community members who were displaced in East Baltimore would be a worthwhile investment, [as well as] just listening to community demands more fully," they said.

Before the Sept. 29 town hall started, protesters gathered on the sidewalk outside the auditorium. Though the University had designed a protest zone outside of the venue, protestors made their way inside.

Demonstrators chanted and whistled as the town hall was live-streamed on stage. Many made their way to the top of the auditorium and stood in front of the projector, obstructing the image of the live stream.

After half an hour, a Hopkins representative announced that the town hall was over. Protestors gathered outside the auditorium and shared their grievances about the JHPD with each other.

In an email to The News-Letter, a member of the Hopkins Police Accountability Board, who was granted anonymity, discussed their experiences with police harassment.

"I've had personal experiences with police harassment, as have my partner, my parents, extended family members and others," they wrote. "The harassment became so bad at one point that we had to have our state [representative] intervene on our behalf to keep the police from repeatedly stopping us, trying to fine us, or otherwise bother us."

According to them, studies have suggested that youth interactions with police are harmful to young people's health. They expressed concerns about the implications of the MOU draft.

"I fear the same fate here, especially given that US Department of Justice has already called out policing practices in Baltimore as being explicitly racist and discriminatory." they wrote, "More armed police aren't the solution to our problems; they don't prevent crime, only respond to it."

The speakers at both town halls included Bard, Executive Director of Baltimore Community Mediation Center Erricka Bridgeford, Senior Adviser of Public Safety Rodney Hill and Baltimore Police Department Operations Director Eric Melancon.

During the virtual town hall on Sept. 29, Hill responded to a question from a community member about hiring standards and requirements for JHPD officers.

"Hiring standards are laid out by Maryland statute," he said. "It lays out such things as age requirement [and] education requirement...departments are allowed to go beyond those standards, and our plan is to go beyond the standards."

The town hall on Sept. 30 was presented as an interactive live broadcast, where community members of the University and the greater Baltimore area sent feedback and questions via text and email.

At the town hall, a community member raised a question asking how the JHPD would avoid incidents like the death of Baltimore resident Devante Jones, who was killed by a retired corrections officer and an off-duty school police officer.

Bard emphasized that JHPD officers will prioritize safety.

"As a department, we're going to invest in training that...elevates the sanctity of human life above all else," he said. "[JHPD] officers are going to be experts in de-escalating behavior [and] using force only when necessary."

Bard described the importance of improving police training, such as incorporating the Integrating Communications, Assessment and Tactics (ICAT) course into the training process. ICAT places emphasis on ensuring everyone, not just police officers, leave police encounters safely.

Melancon expressed a positive outlook for the future of police departments.

"We've been in our consent decree and it's helping to shape and set an example for how police departments need to be developed from the ground up," he said. "We intend on sharing that process, with those lessons and those mistakes."

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COURTESY OF JULIAN LASHER

Protestors blocked the livestream of the second JHPD town hall at the School of Medicine campus.

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<![CDATA[Mission failed successfully: DART impacts asteroid's trajectory]]> Here's an interview question for you: how would you save humanity if an asteroid was hurtling through space towards our planet?

Students, professors and community members gathered on Keyser Quad on Sept. 26 to view a live broadcast of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory's (APL) Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), their answer to the question.

Engineering solutions aim for optimization through minimizing costs and pursuing the simplest method - doing barely enough to accomplish the goal without excess. Rather than attempting to destroy the projectile altogether, the APL's approach is to alter the asteroid named Didymos' trajectory by just enough so that it misses Earth. The best method, they determined, was to crash a satellite into it.

That's like saving your teammate in dodgeball by throwing a ball to deflect an incoming one - except your ball is moving at 14,000 miles per hour, you're spinning around at 1000 miles per hour and your target has a diameter of 500 feet in the vast expanse of space.

At the event, Keyser Quad was setup with a large panel screen pitched in front of the steps of Gilman Hall and bubble soccer was available in front of Mergenthaler Hall. T-shirts were also given out to attendees, while space-themed food was served.


The celebration aimed to raise awareness of the DART mission and promote a sense of community pride surrounding APL's accomplishments.

Sophomore Rachel Fox noted the importance of sharing this work.

"Planetary defense is one of my dream career goals, so to have it happening right here on campus is amazing," Fox said.

Sohanjit Ghosh, a second-year PhD student in Mechanical Engineering, spoke about his relevant research regarding impacts on granular materials.

"I basically model what will happen to an asteroid surface when it gets impacted, so exactly this [DART]," Ghosh shared. "When you have an impact, you have a lot of force being generated on the particles, and [they] will crush. Based on that, we can predict what the crater depth will be [and] how much ejecta will be blown out… I'm really excited for this mission."

Keion Howard, a second-year PhD student in Mechanical Engineering, also expressed his excitement to be there.

"To be at this event is kind of crazy because my future research could be another application of this DART impact… I could use this as inspiration, and my research could impact the next level of literally this," he said.

As the timer continued counting down, attendees aggregated in front of the screen and claimed seating space on the wet grass. Associate Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences Kevin Lewis provided commentary on the broadcast as mini cowbells clanged at every minute that passed.

The energy of the crowd grew and cheers echoed through the quad as the live broadcast showed the asteroid inching closer every second. The broadcast displayed the outline of the asteroid's surface, and very soon after, the individual rocks scattered about on the surface. A roar erupted from the crowd as a red screen flashed on the panel, an indication of successful impact.

In an interview with The News-Letter, Lewis commented on the scope and impact of the project.

"It's been a decade in the planning, and it's been ten months in flight to get to this asteroid. [It was seventeen meters] of its projected target, it was [seven] million miles away… and on top of it, that was all autonomous navigation from the spacecraft," Lewis said.

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COURTESY OF VIGGY VANCHINATHAN

People gathered on Sept. 26 to celebrate the successful completion of the DART mission.

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<![CDATA[Future Fest takes a new approach to professional development]]> Students and alums engaged in a series of more than 30 recruitment and networking events from Sept. 12 to Oct. 1. This annual occasion, known as Future Fest, builds connections between Hopkins students and representatives across various industries and graduate schools.

Future Fest is co-hosted by the University's Life Design Lab, PHutures and the Professional Development and Career Office.

In an interview with The News-Letter, Executive Director of the Life Design Lab Matthew Golden described the Life Design Lab's vision for professional development at Hopkins.

"The work of the Life Design Lab... is rooted in equity and prioritizes interactions that will lead to personal and professional growth," he said. "Intentionally designing a life that is cohesive with your values, identities, interests and aspirations will lead to more fulfilling lived experiences than chasing a job title or an internship at a particular company."

The shift in the University's professional development philosophy has been physically manifested in the new Imagine Center for Integrative Learning and Life Design. The Imagine Center opened in mid-September and houses the University's seven career and professional service departments.

In an interview with The News-Letter, Vice Provost for Integrative Learning and Life Design Farouk Dey explained the Imagine Center's philosophy.

"The Imagine Center never asks students what they want to do with their life," he said. "It wants students to discover what they are curious about."

Junior Zandy Wong described her perspective on Future Fest's new approach to career fairs in an email to The News-Letter.

"Future Fest is different from a normal career fair as it's more of an exploration of making a life worth living," she wrote. "It's not all about getting a job. It's about finding a place or role that fulfills a student's internal mission."

Future Fest featured career preparatory workshops oriented around students' affinities and interests. The event also included a virtual career fair and graduate school events.

Golden noted that Future Fest's key programming is a series of virtual and in-person storytelling events. These events encourage students to reflect on their unique stories and skill sets in order to translate them into meaningful life paths.

Senior Harley Tran participated in the virtual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Collective student panel, where Hopkins alums share their stories of success in securing internships through the DEI Collective's internship hiring initiatives.

He reflected on his experience of participating in the panel in an email to The News-Letter.

"The DEI panel is an opportunity for me to reflect on my past experience with the program while filtering out the helpful details that benefit people who have similar backgrounds and goals as I did," he wrote. "I felt connected and learned from the differences of [the panelists'] journies."

Future Fest also included a "Story Slam" speaker event, where audience members heard from the stories shared by four current students. Each student narrated their own story of diversity and success at Hopkins.

Wong, the founder of NextGen Accessibility, was one of the "Story Slam" speakers. Her organization focuses on improving digital access and literacy among disabled youth. She discussed the connection between storytelling and advocacy.

"Storytelling is a natural part of advocacy whether you're working in the field like me or just trying to get what you need," she wrote. "I decided to share my story at Story Slam to highlight the power of 'owning' your experience and recognizing that your experience is valid."

According to Wong, her background in public health research helped her pivot into disability advocacy. She hopes that her story would help students recognize the importance of adapting to different circumstances.

Senior Assistant Director for Student Disability Services Tessa Mckenzie explained that the companies at Future Fest are intentionally recruiting students with disabilities in an email to The News-Letter.

"Groups like NASA Goddard and Northrup Grumman nurture systems-advocacy by recognizing the benefits of our students' full, authentic collaboration," she wrote. "These employers understand that staff with disabilities enhance workplace culture and contribute to more dynamic problem solving."

However, not all students were pleased with Future Fest's career fair offerings.

Senior Jerome Francis expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of big-name employers on certain days of Future Fest's career fairs in an interview with The News-Letter.

"All that really matters is that more employers show up," he said "I found it pretty disappointing that [Hopkins is] supposedly top 20 in CS, and Microsoft, Google and Amazon didn't even show up."

Freshman AJ Hernandez also noted that the virtual format of the fair made it difficult to connect and communicate with recruiters.

Despite that, he highlighted that Future Fest was helpful for providing him with his first taste of the professional opportunities offered.

"It helped me know what actually is in the area because before that I had no clue what options were here at all," he said. "It really helped me see what there is around here and what I can look into and what kinds of fields there are."

Looking ahead to next year, Golden expects more programming components created using connections within the alumni community. He added that Future Fest will likely continue to be virtual for inclusivity and convenience.

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COURTESY OF HELEN LACEY

The newly-opened Imagine Center is one piece of the new approach Hopkins is taking to professional development.

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<![CDATA[College classics: cheesy chive biscuits]]> Food is one of the most versatile forms of connection between people, places and cultures. Whether it be during family gatherings, the holidays or lunch with friends, food is a constant in our social lives.

Many of us even have special dishes and food from home that bring us memories and comfort. Here, I am going to share with you a simple recipe that reminds me of home, freshly-baked homemade foods and mornings spent rushing to high school. These easy-to-make cheesy chive biscuits are great for a quick morning breakfast, on-the-go snack or lunch food! Paired with gravy and mashed potatoes, these can also become a wonderful side dish to any dinner.

With only a few necessary tools and ingredients, these pastries can be made by any college student!

To begin, you'll need only three ingredients: biscuit dough, shredded cheese and chives. These can easily be found in the refrigerated section of any supermarket, and if you'd like to make your own biscuit dough or shred your own cheese, go right ahead! Make it your own!

As for tools, I simply used a ceramic plate, bowl, scissors and our community toaster oven for cooking. You may use either a toaster oven or a full oven, whichever is more convenient (as long as it can be set to bake at 350 degrees).

Start by popping open the cylinder of biscuit dough (tip: scissors work great for this!) and laying out the biscuits on a plate or sheet. When working with a large amount of dough, put the dough you are not using in the fridge so it doesn't get too sticky to work with. Then, wash your chives and cut them into small pieces using the scissors. While there are a variety of ways you can make these savory goods, there are two that I consistently use that I've found to result in the best biscuits.

In order to make biscuits that have more of a cheese and chive filling, simply stretch the dough out a little thinner, then sprinkle your shredded cheese and cut chives directly on top. Be very generous with the filling; having more is much better than having less in these biscuits!

Once nearly the whole surface is covered, fold the dough into a bun by grabbing the sides, lifting them up and then pinching them inwards. Keep pinching and working with the dough until the top is sealed and you can no longer see any of the filling on the inside. Once the dough is secure so that the fillings don't fall out, flip the bun over and garnish the top with extra cheese and chives!

My second method incorporates the cheese and chives throughout the biscuits (my personal favorite!). Like the first method, sprinkle a hefty helping of cheese and chives onto the dough. This next process is much easier if you are holding the dough flat in your hand. Then squish the contents together and knead the dough in your hand until the cheese and chives are well mixed.

Continuously add more cheese and chives as you knead until there appears to be a good ratio of toppings to dough. Based on personal preference, you may add as much or little of either add-in as you would like! Finish it off with an extra garnish of cheese and chives!

After repeating this with the rest of the biscuits, place them on an oven-safe or toaster oven-safe dish. Because I am living in a college dorm with limited tools, a ceramic plate worked perfect for this! I placed four biscuits at a time on the plate and did two batches of cooking. Follow the baking instructions on the biscuit dough package or recipe until they are golden brown.

And that's it! Let your biscuits cool and enjoy! The ones folded like a bun have a more cheesy and chive-filled center surrounded by the biscuit, while the kneaded biscuits more consistently incorporate the fillings throughout the pastry, which are more resemblant of a traditional biscuit shape. I hope you enjoy this heart-warming comfort food and let it bring you joy wherever or whenever you make them!

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COURTESY OF KAYLA RABEY

Rabey walks through her recipe for cheesy chive biscuits, a family favorite that brings her joy while she's away.

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<![CDATA[TikTok is bad for political discourse and furthers polarization ]]> Social media is increasingly influencing political discourse, and TikTok is no exception, becoming home to political content for its 1 billion monthly users. However TikTok's structure, algorithm and moderation are inherently hostile to productive political discussions and instead encourage extremism.

TikTok's algorithm ensures users are exposed to the same political views they already agree with. After users like a video about Second Amendment rights or follow the tag "democrats," they will be much more likely to see those types of videos again and again, creating a political echo chamber where one's views are reinforced rather than challenged.

Tags on TikTok are helpful for tailoring the content we consume to our interests and hobbies. For example, our own Barnes & Noble has a display dedicated to BookTok, a community on the app where reading enthusiasts share book recommendations. But when it comes to important processes like politics, individuals must be careful and intentional about their use of the app.

An experiment conducted by VICE's Motherboard using a new TikTok account found that after a couple days of liking and engaging with exclusively conservative content, the For You page was filled with conservative and far-right videos - including QAnon conspiracies and Donald Trump content.

Some individuals might believe that by using TikTok, they are not limiting themselves as they would be by only watching Fox News or only watching left-leaning media. But in reality, the TikTok algorithm is similar or arguably worse in creating an echo chamber of ideas, because there are no journalistic standards or accountability, unlike traditional news media.

Clearly the algorithm is not conducive to political discourse, but it's working as it should be in terms of recommending content users will enjoy. TikTok was simply not built to be a mode of political discourse, with the company admitting so itself, emphasizing that it is "first and foremost an entertainment platform" amid recent policy updates for political accounts. Despite this, politics have permeated TikTok's culture.

In my experience with TikTok, the nuance of politics is lost. Buzzwords are privileged over reasonable and complex arguments. Short videos with outrageous and uncomplicated claims will gain more traction than longer videos discussing more detailed evidence and viewpoints.

In my time using the platform, I've also seen a weak inclusion of moderate perspectives, despite the fact that recent polls show over a third of Americans identify as politically moderate. Extreme takes are rewarded with more views, likes and shares. From what I've seen, the clips that go viral on TikTok over-simplify complicated and historically debated political positions into black-and-white stances and present one side as unequivocally right or unequivocally wrong.

About two years ago, a TikTok trend called "No Nuance November" encouraged TikTok users to post their political hot takes with no nuance and no explanation. On a platform where short-form content - which limits meaningful political dialogue - is already the standard, trends like "No Nuance November" further discourage meaningful discussion of why certain positions are taken and fail to consider the reasoning of the other side.

Though TikTok offers the ability to upload longer videos, many users prefer to watch 15 to 60-second posts. Short content on TikTok is inherently limited on what it can share and thus often maximizes its impact by painting certain political positions as indubitably correct, ignoring that it's important to understand why the opposition holds a different position.

It should be stated that TikTok's ownership and censorship are also problematic. The company has allegedly blocked content critical of the Chinese government and enabled Russia to spread pro-war rhetoric. TikTok as an app has its own agenda in its moderation policies, which is dangerous considering how moderation steers global political discourse on the platform.

Ultimately it is unlikely teens will stop using TikTok for politics, but it is critically important that they do not base their political opinions or voting habits on the views presented to them solely on TikTok and make efforts to purposefully engage with diverse political content. The most important thing in a democracy is a knowledgeable electorate, and TikTok is not conducive to this goal.

Samhi Boppana is a sophomore from Dublin, Ohio majoring in Molecular & Cellular Biology and Political Science.

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SOLEN FEYISSA / CC BY 2.0

Boppana worries TikTok is pushing users' political views to the extreme ends of the spectrum.

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<![CDATA[SGA members withdraw plans for Heritage Night due to time conflicts]]> The Student Government Association (SGA) held its weekly meeting on Sept. 27 to discuss the withdrawal of the SGA Heritage Night, the Presidential Appointment Amendment and the Instagram Raffle Bill.

Heritage Night

Sophomore Class President Ryan Chou explained that the projected date of SGA Heritage Night, which was Friday, Nov. 11 or Saturday, Nov. 12, would have coincided with cultural events from other school organizations. Chou stated that their best course of action was to withdraw the event.

  • The event would have included a heritage dance party workshop and a heritage dish competition.
  • A Roast Off by the Puerto Rican Student Association and a Culture Fest hosted by the Office of Multicultural Affairs will be hosted the weekend SGA had projected for Heritage Night to occur.
  • Chou said, "We thought it might be better if SGA supported those events rather than pulling attention away."
  • Chou added that possible alternatives for SGA to engage in school cultural events are co-sponsorships and event planning assistance.
  • Chou noted that the estimated cost breakdown of how much the co-sponsorship for each event will be has not been determined yet.
  • Vice President Kobi Khong agreed with the sentiment to aid other cultural events, stating "We want to support our students, so if there's an event we want to make sure that the best way that we can get involved is by helping rather than by having our own events."

Presidential Appointment Amendment

Chou presented the Presidential Appointment Amendment which would codify a class president's ability to appoint and direct representatives to the president's offices.

  • Class presidents can currently exercise this ability to appoint and direct their own representatives. Chou saw the benefit of officially recognizing this ability in writing, saying, "It's for the reference of future generations."
  • The bill was tabled to be read again at the next general body meeting.

Instagram Raffle Bill

Chou presented the Instagram Raffle Bill to fund the merchandise for an Instagram Raffle on the SGA Instagram account.

  • Senior Class President JiWon Woo motioned to amend the price of merchandise from $11 to $16 and change it from keychains to plushies. The amendment passed unanimously.
  • The bill passed unanimously.
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FILE PHOTO

SGA decides to support the cultural events of other student organizations instead of hosting their own.

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<![CDATA[Don't Worry Darling is actually not that bad?]]> Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few months, odds are you've heard at least something about Olivia Wilde's latest film Don't Worry Darling, starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles. Most likely, you've read headlines about casting feuds, on-set affairs or spitting accusations and concluded, unlike Styles in his viral interview, that this movie feels anything but like an actual movie.

On top of all this drama, it doesn't help that the film itself received a mere 38% on Rotten Tomatoes ahead of its release in theaters on Sept. 23. Moreover, while Pugh has earned glowing critical reviews for her performance, Styles' performance has hardly been reported favorably.

So with all this in mind, when I walked into the theater, I fully expected a cringe-fest of angsty overacting and convoluted plot, but - hot take - this film is actually not that bad.

The film centers around married couple Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Styles) living in Victory, a creepy yet colorful reimagining of 1950s suburbia. This community is governed by strict gender roles and rigid heteronormativity, with men commuting every day to work on a mysterious, classified project while their wives stay at home to cook and clean. Yet, this "utopia" is not the perfect illusion it appears, pushing Alice to uncover the truth about her world.

Admittedly, the majority of the movie is slow and confusing. The shots, while beautiful and smart cinematographically, can only do so much to dispel the crawling pace. Yet, even as we trudge through aesthetically bizarre scenes and clips, the film builds to a satisfying and unmistakable climax in the last 20 minutes or so as Alice's carefully curated world begins to unravel.

It's here that the movie really begins to shine and formerly confusing scenes click into place like pieces in a puzzle. The plot manages to twist and turn its way into a thoughtful, psychological film about order and control, emphasized repeatedly by Victory's cultish mantra, "The enemy of progress is chaos." Alice's relationship with Jack draws attention to the toxic possessiveness that comes with standard patriarchal roles that paint men as providers and women as caregivers. The film also delves into grief and an inability to let go and surrender control after tragedy.

These themes only make more poignant Wilde's decision to base this film off of a setting commonly associated with nuclear families, 2.5 kids and white picket fences. This film really questions the lengths that we, as a society and as individuals, will go to preserve this "perfect" family, whatever form it may take.

The film explores sexuality and love and the expression of sexuality in love. It investigates the invasion of privacy, the lines drawn between the collective and individual and what we surrender to be part of a whole. It addresses the credibility of women in a society dominated by men and male accountability.

The way everything comes together in the final minutes is honestly a sensory overload, and it wasn't until I watched the final credits flash on the screen that I was finally able to take a breath and relax off the edge of my seat.

I should clarify, however, that this film is by no means perfect. Minor details and plot points remain unexplained. We are given a villain and side characters, yet they don't feel like 3D, fully fleshed-out individuals. We are deprived of their motivations and backstories even as their fates are revealed. We are given closure for stories that we didn't learn enough to want closure about. Not to mention, Style's acting is at times comical and evoked some laughs in the theaters. Some of the action shots felt cartoonish and contrived, especially in the final portion of the movie.

However, all in all, this film offers insightful and revealing social commentary that left my mind spinning hours after I viewed it. It may not be perfect and is by no means a masterpiece, but if you're looking for something different to watch on a Friday night, I would definitely recommend it. Acting choices and plot holes aside, this film is definitely worth a watch.

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GAGE SKIDMORE / CC BY-SA 2.0

Florence Pugh is one of the stars of Olivia Wilde's new film Don't Worry Darling.

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<![CDATA[Scott Tower dedication ceremony comes as part of the University's building renaming initiatives]]> The University hosted the official dedication of the Scott Tower on Sept. 24 to honor the legacy of Frederick Isadore Scott Jr., its first African American undergraduate. Coming as part of the Diverse Names and Narratives Project, which proposed the renaming of buildings after historically marginalized and underrepresented groups, the event honored Scott and his contributions as a trailblazer for diversity.

On behalf of the Diverse Names and Narratives Task Force, Katrina Caldwell, vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, explained the purpose of the function in an email to The News-Letter.

"Members who serve on the task force do so since it is an opportunity to recognize remarkable individuals in the Johns Hopkins community - past and present - in a meaningful, tangible way," she wrote. "The aim is to tell a more complete narrative of the University's history and to make a diverse range of people, their legacies, and their impact on Hopkins visible and present across our campuses."

Through the collective efforts of the Diverse Names and Narratives Task Force, the Hopkins Board of Trustees Office, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Scott's family, as well as various alumni and supporters, the function united students and faculty alike in front of the former Charles Commons to commemorate the change. Two acapella groups, Notes of Ranvier and the Melanotes, opened and closed the ceremony, respectively.

Scott applied to Hopkins in 1945 following a dare from his friends. Throughout his time as the only black student, Scott helped establish the first interracial fraternity, Beta Sigma Tau, and endured social isolation to earn a degree in Chemical Engineering.

Ronald J. Daniels, president of the University, spoke virtually at the event about Scott's impact on Hopkins outside of his academic and extracurricular participation.

"Frederick challenged and helped to change the norms that prevented so many other people of diverse backgrounds from being welcomed as equal members of the University community and supported fully by their alma mater in their journey through [Hopkins] and beyond," he said.

Sophomore Jingxing Zou, who lives in the building, described his perspective on the Scott Tower renaming in an interview with The News-Letter.

"I was pretty interested to see who Scott and Bates were, and I looked into [the topic] further," he said. "Renaming carries a weight because... it shows people what the University respects and is proud of."

The University has faced criticism for a legacy of discrimination towards black residents and transgender and non-binary individuals, leading community members to demand more substantial changes to demonstrate the shift.

In an interview with The News-Letter, Jules Gill-Peterson, associate professor and general co-editor of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, spoke broadly about understanding what it means to rename a building.

"Renaming is a symbolic gesture of trying to suggest that the University is trying to break from... an institutional past that includes a lot of celebration and platforming of people who have been responsible for pretty serious harms against a wide variety of different communities," she said.

On the other hand, she also emphasized that these symbolic gestures are just one step in contextualizing much of the University's past.

"If renaming is accompanied by broader investments, both in proactive projects... [and] meaningful material investments in things like redress, then we start to see the symbolic shift being part of something a little more meaningful," she said. "It's good to take a holistic look at the sum total of what the University plans to do whenever it's trying to address its own legacies."

According to Caldwell, institutional leaders including the Board of Trusteees, president and deans are already beginning proactive efforts to recognize and elevate diverse people from the institution's past in more tangible ways.

"As with the Frederick Scott event, we look forward to more opportunities to honor the legacies of trailblazers from our very own community," she wrote.

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COURTESY OF LILAC LIN

The Fred Scott Brigade gather in front of the newly dedicated Scott Tower.

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