Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 30, 2024

Opinion

The opinions presented below are solely the views of the author and do not represent the views of The News-Letter. If you are a member of the Hopkins community looking to submit a piece or a letter to the editor, please email opinions@jhunewsletter.com.



Domestic abuse stigmas should be challenged

Last Thursday, Students Educating and Empowering for Diversity (SEED) organized a presentation on the portrayal of domestic violence in the media and its direct effects on public opinion. Following a candid video screening, coordinators moderated an interactive discussion meant to elucidate the extent to which traditional gender roles bias the way that we perceive domestic violence. Inspired by the recent uproar in the news surrounding the altercation between ex-Raven Ray Rice and his then-fiancée Janay Palmer, the event illustrated the adverse influence that news broadcasts and publications often have on their mass audiences by propagating unjustified criticism and misinterpretation of issues involving domestic abuse.


All should have the right to die with dignity

In most instances, the word suicide is an unpleasant one. There is something about suicide that strikes directly at people’s basest urges. The act of taking one’s own life is so counterintuitive to most of us — so powerful is our survival instinct — that suicide almost inherently brings with it the idea that there must have been some way to convince the victims not to go through with it. Help on that front is certainly possible. Mental health services, grief counseling and other preventative measures can all aid those who are suicidal. Yet there is another face to suicide, one that does not occur to most people. In certain places in the U.S., terminally ill, mentally-lucid patients may petition a doctor to help them facilitate their own deaths if they have within a certain time left to live. Here, the goal is not just the patient ending his life; it is to prevent suffering that may accompany a death that is rapidly encroaching.


Reading for pleasure is undervalued in today’s society

I would like to avoid sounding like a disgruntled Neo-Luddite, but we really do need to start putting our phones away more often. These 2 x 4 inch screens more effectively capture our attention than practically anything else in our surroundings, which is a bit of a problem. Now I am in no position to preach about this, since I too spend far too much time scrolling through Facebook and Instagram when I should definitely be doing something much more productive with my time. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if we could just find a better endeavor that lets us spend a study break within a different kind of alternate reality? This is why I think it’s time that this generation revisits a lost art: reading books. While it may seem quite difficult to find time for leisurely reading with our oppressive workloads, I believe that we should all be able to make time by cutting down on our many daily visits to social media sites.


Our brains are maladapted to the modern world we live in

Our incomprehensibly complex and beautiful brains are the triumph of millions of years of cutthroat natural selection, yet they are horrifically maladapted to the world we live in. For all the millions of years it took to develop us, we developed civilization in a couple thousand. Our ancestors even just 1,000 years ago — let alone hunter-gatherers from 10,000 BC — could never imagine our way of life. We live like Gods. You want unlimited potable water? Turn on the faucet. You want a hot steak dinner? Take it out of the freezer and put it into the microwave. You want an endless torrent of unimaginably engrossing entertainment? Turn on your TV or flip your laptop screen up. Most of us regularly exploit the fact that the development of modern society has surpassed our own biological development by a practically infinite margin. We bombard our ancient, chemical reward centers from the paleolithic era with preposterous amounts of supernormal stimuli for pure pleasure, which unfortunately has some serious consequences.


Women should have the right to choose

Today, Voice for Choice (VFC) will be holding a campaign on Q level in the library entitled “JHU’s 1 in 3 Campaign” to raise awareness of the fact that one in every three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. According to its website, the 1 in 3 Campaign aims to “end the stigma and shame women are made to feel about abortion… [and] build a culture of compassion, empathy, and support for access to basic health care.”


"Yes Means Yes" is problematic

California recently passed the “Yes Means Yes” law, which defines sexual consent for college campuses, requiring “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” In other words, both parties must consent verbally or otherwise to the sexual activity before it occurs. The law ignores any history of past relationships, meaning that parties in relationships — even marriages — cannot assume consent any more than can parties who have just met. And however healthy the intentions, this law places what we consider a dangerous burden of proof on those accused of sexual misconduct.


"Yes Means Yes" is problematic

California recently passed the “Yes Means Yes” law, which defines sexual consent for college campuses, requiring “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” In other words, both parties must consent verbally or otherwise to the sexual activity before it occurs. The law ignores any history of past relationships, meaning that parties in relationships — even marriages — cannot assume consent any more than can parties who have just met. And however healthy the intentions, this law places what we consider a dangerous burden of proof on those accused of sexual misconduct.


Remember the humanity behind the headline

This morning, I sat down to finish my opinion piece on the effect that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the U.S. would have on U.S.-Pakistan relations, and how President Obama should maneuver in this diplomatic minefield of a relationship. I was prepared. I had done my research: I knew that every American president since Kennedy has tried to intervene in the Pakistan-India conflict, how the disputed Kashmiri border came to be and why it mattered so much to the people of both countries. I knew how vital both Pakistan and India were to the counter-terrorism efforts of the U.S. in the Middle East and across Asia. I knew how the Pakistan-India conflict inserted a huge, sometimes seemingly insurmountable wedge in America’s diplomatic relations. I was ready. I was excited.


Portrayal of women in the media propagates sexism

It may be 2014, but the silver screen has been stuck in a temporal loop since the 1950s. Sexism in media has been normalized over time, so much so that we don’t even realize it anymore. A study from the University of Southern California captures how women are still underrepresented in the media: To begin with, only 1.9 percent of directors are female and 25 percent of all speaking roles in animated films are filled by women. Lastly, of 25,000 speaking characters in 600 top-grossing films between 2007 and 2013, only about 20-27 percent were women — what?


Entire student body needs to do Bystander Intervention Training

Bystander Intervention Training (BIT) trains students to better recognize and react to situations of gender violence and sexual assault on campus. The ultimate goal of BIT is to educate students in a host of preventative measures to end gender violence at Homewood. Currently, the training is mandatory for all varsity athletic teams and might eventually become accessible to all Hopkins students.



Don’t be afraid to seek out mentors and ask for help

A wise senior once told me that in spite of all he had done — which was nothing short of amazing — that he was nothing more than “the product of his mentors.” Humility aside, this advice was very helpful last year when I struggled to get through classes. Having people with experience can help a lot. Even when not in a crisis, there seems to be something comforting when speaking to someone who has experienced something similar to what you are facing now.



Opposition to climate change is rooted in partisan politics

If you go looking for arguments about climate change, you will typically find the same points made over and over again from both sides. Overall, the debate is somewhat unexciting, as is often the case when people choose to disagree with the scientific community. It is the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists that climate change is a reality. And, even if one is wary of scientific studies, nature appears to be indicating that warming is occurring: Plant and animal species are extending their territories further north, coral reefs are becoming bleached by rising ocean temperatures and certain plants are blooming earlier than normal. Despite all of this tangible evidence, climate change remains as controversial a topic as ever.


Assault on defense: Guns do not belong in civil society

I really love guns, don't get me wrong — I love to look at them, read about them, hold them, shoot them, clean them and then ogle them some more (I do draw the line at talking to them, stroking them or singing them lullabies, so please don't be too alarmed). Obviously, I really like guns, but like most of my favorite things in this crazy world, I realize that mankind would be better off without them. I shudder to imagine what some enlightened space-faring race would include in their galactic field manual about Earth: "Earth is absolutely covered with lethal weapons that any human can use to murder another with a single flex of his or her preferred index finger.” There might be a little "fun fact" box in the corner with a little blurb like: "Parts of Earth actually exist where it’s cheaper to get your hands on an assault rifle than on a quarter-pounder with cheese!" Alien textbook conjecture aside, it blows my mind that almost any American can walk into Walmart, a store that also sells pool noodles and inflatable slip n' slides, and buy a lethal weapon.


Obama’s laissez-faire immigration policy will taint his legacy

On June 30, in response to the growing border crisis and opposition to immigration reform from Congress, U.S. President Barack Obama promised to use his executive powers by the end of the summer to “fix as much of our immigration system as we can. If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours.” President Obama had good reason to make such a strong statement — in June, more than 52,000 (now 63,000) unaccompanied children were detained at the border.



Sexual assault prevention needs to be on us

The White House recently announced a new initiative called “It’s On Us” that aims to combat sexual assault, especially on college campuses, by encouraging men to stand up and speak out. In our editorial last week, we discussed the negative implications of the inventive anti-rape devices that are just starting to carve out a niche for themselves. We criticized this type of technology because we believed that, as simply a reactionary precaution, it compromises the sense of urgency we should all have about addressing the underlying issues. The “It’s On Us” campaign is exactly the education we think is necessary to do just that — to address the issue at its source.


BSU protest should serve as an example

Last Thursday, members of the Hopkins and greater Baltimore communities gathered in silent protest in response to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, which occurred on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. Positioned around the Keyser Quad, dozens of protesters — organized by the Hopkins Black Student Union (BSU) — stood united in deafening silence, carrying signs that challenged spectators’ understanding of police brutality. Traveling around Gilman Hall and then down to N. Charles Street, the demonstrators peacefully forced those passing by to pay attention to their cause and to ask questions about how the Brown shooting affects the rest of society.


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