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Student Op-Ed Submissions

Is That Really What You’re Going to Wear?

By: Kara Shockley

The day starts like any other, scanning my closet for possible outfits. Every time I open up the door, the same question presents itself: what will keep me safe? 

I’ve done this since grade eight, questioning every inch of exposed skin, and I ask myself: is it too much? Could someone take this as an invitation? I’m not alone in these thoughts, “From about the time they enter puberty, they learn their primary asset is their body and that it must be kept safe. Failure to do so, girls learn, is their own fault.” (Peck). Who wants to be blamed for their attack? Said best by Professor Blum at Johns Hopkins, “In every single place, girls are given the message that they are weak, that they are vulnerable. That their bodies are a target.” (Peck). Control and expectations imposed on girls diminishes their faith in themselves. 

These comments didn’t begin in grade eight, but in preschool. Teachers diminish our feelings left and right. They tell us it’s normal that boys are mean; it means they like you. Phrases like, “Always be nice to the boys” and “It’s O.K., we’ll wait for some of the big strong boys to get back!” (Murphy) fill our brain at a naive age and cloud our ability to see what is wrong with the twenty-first century. 

Next up – age 10. “Don’t forget to smile when passing a man on the street so you avoid attention.” Phrases like this continue the unnecessary control forced upon young women.  These comments imply that their comfort and priorities are insignificant and irrelevant. 

Welcome to high school! Time for one of the biggest decisions of your life – what do you want to do? Don’t go into a masculine job. Choose something natural.  Unfortunately, this is reality, “As adults it is our job to teach, to inspire, to encourage the children, yet we do the opposite of that when we do not encourage young girls to pursue STEM fields and instead encourage them to pursue ‘feminine’ jobs such as nurses, elementary school teachers, and receptionists” (Smith).  Yet again, another stage in life where young girls come second to society’s expectations. 

Growing up as a vulnerable female in a male-dominated society, suppression and secondary positions engulf us. Choices are made for others’ benefits and success, rather than for our own. I want to raise children in a society that embraces who they are. I want humanity to support their choices, not degrade them. For that to happen, expectations must change, and time is running out.

 

The Lesson Learned From Child Farmers

By: Gaby Page

The idea of farming human children for their inner organs seems to have found a home in culture, recently. From Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go to Neil Shuscterman’s Unwind series or even Kaui Shirai’s The Promised Neverland, humanity, myself included, seems to have developed a fascination with the inner mechanisms of a world where the most valuable resources happen to be human childrens’ innards. And, as grotesque as it seems, such dire circumstances actually mirror the reality of the fatal organ shortage plaguing the globe.

In real life, however, it’s not kids with the organs dying, it’s the ones without them. As 17 people die each day waiting for a donation, the current death toll far exceeds expectations– and the waitlist for donation candidates only expands. Currently about 107,000 people fill the ranks of the US National Transplant waiting list, a stark increase in comparison to the 2001 US wait list, which beset only 79,000 people. However, despite the seemingly exponential paucity of human organs, the remedy is quite simple.

Trading the current US opt-in system for an opt-out system has proven to be a reliable way to source more donors. Pre-obtaining consent from donors to harvest can buy valuable time for transportation, and, more importantly, the preservation of usable tissues in accidental deaths. Mere seconds can make the difference. This idea, in combination with a redefinition of cadaver donor eligibility, could open the floodgates to an outpour of available organs. The current brain death standard used in the U.S. is unreasonably restrictive. Broadening the pool to include those in a vegitative state or near-death individuals who consent to death by donation could be the key to ending a nation-wide affliction and avoiding more ethically dubious options in the future. 

Creating systems like these, with ethical safety nets included, not only helps those who need organs but also those who give them. Solving the shortage cuts off black market demand for human materials and a contributing factor to human and child trafficking. It also prevents the exploitation of low-income families who may be tempted to donate non-vital organs in exchange for monetary gain. 

While some may find it abhorrent to ‘desecrate’ the dead, it has become necessary to implement these policies. As the problem continues unhindered, becoming riskier by the second, finding and utilizing any solutions available becomes fundamental to avoid the same fate as those featured in the aforementioned stories. The opt-out and death definition policy changes stamp out the spark to America’s organ-barren powder keg. Advocate for opt-out and redefinition, show your support for those unlucky 107,000, and double check to make sure you’re a registered donor. Sharing is caring, after all.

 

The Dark Side of Perfect Grades

By:Ariana Feichko

Students dream of bringing home a report card gleaming with straight A’s. They will overstuff their brains in order to succeed and this approach is often commended. However, straight A students may suffer because of grade inflation, educational amnesia, and mental disorders. 

Once upon a time, straight A’s were the crowning achievement of any student’s academic career. Today, however, it’s the norm. In a 2017 survey, “47% of American students [graduated] with grades ranging from A+ to A-,” proving that grade inflation is rampant throughout schools (Wang, np). This raises the question: how many students actually earned those A’s and aren’t products of inflated grades? The truth is more disheartening than we realize. Weighted courses, lenient teachers, and accommodating administrations have led to this influx of “straight A” students, even if they haven’t earned those marks. But what effect does this have on their aptitude for learning?

Students often fail to retain anything they learn—almost like they’ve developed amnesia. They cram before a test, throw up what they remember, and forget everything minutes after they turn it in. This pattern is concerning because it shows that students aren’t learning properly. According to Kevin Kruse, the “education system in the United States is… predicated on [the] recall of facts and figures.” Students have learned to memorize, recall, and forget, which isn’t beneficial. Ultimately, schools are failing to teach students how to learn. 

Many harmful mental disorders thrive in schools, and straight A students are prime targets. The stress from balancing social lives, academics, and extracurricular activities can drive them insane. Many students “have joined the cult of perfectionism [believing] that top marks are a ticket to elite graduate schools and lucrative job offers” (Grant, np). The need to be perfect in school can cause severe anxiety in straight A students and affect their performance in all areas of life. Mental health should be a priority but it’s often shoved onto the backburner in favor of pleasing parents and teachers. 

Despite that, good grades demonstrate high levels of resilience and responsibility. Such traits make one a prime candidate for the workplace. But sleepless nights and no freetime aren’t sacrifices that should be made in order to achieve this. Besides, striving for straight A’s may not be the right fit for everyone and forcing students into cookie-cutter molds can kill their passions and turn them into mindless robots. 

Outstanding grades can open doors, but they also come with high costs. Achieving straight A’s can be daunting for unprepared and uncommitted students. They can lose their drive, creativity, and confidence over a bad grade. In the end, students should have the freedom to choose for themselves whether they earn straight A’s, not their parents.

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