Over the past few weeks, a picture of a skinny, famished polar bear has circulated social media platforms and even headlined at major news networks such as CNN. The photographer of the striking image, Kerstin Langenberger, posted the photo in August. She took the photo off the coast of Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago located north of the Arctic Circle. As the photo has circulated, it has offered wildlife experts, climate change scientists, researchers, and ordinary people the chance to voice their opinions. Is climate change to blame for this polar bear’s health? Is the polar bear simply sick, or old? Who or what is to blame here? Why should I care about climate change? Continue reading Famished Polar Bear and the Bigger Picture: Climate Change
On my birthday in 2012, I was multi-tasking – doing homework, watching American Ninja Warrior, and scrolling through Twitter. I decided to tweet a congratulatory message to one of the competitors, and low and behold, he retweeted my message and tweeted back at me. It was a simple exchange; I gave him props and he said, “Thanks for showing me some love.” But the idea of the interactive nature of the social media site was so attractive to me, and became something with which I was – and still am – enthralled.
Nowadays, I follow fewer reality stars, and more news outlets. I follow social activists and parents. I read the words of comedians and laymen. Those I follow are about as diverse as my interests, but there is one thing about all of these accounts that is very appealing to me, as someone who is interested in doing what’s right: each one, in their own way, updates me on what is happening in the world at any given time, and tells me why what’s going on is wrong (or, if I’m lucky, right). Continue reading Twitter Accounts to Follow for Your Social Justice Needs
Southern Smash is an event that has been occurring at UNC for the past three years. The event is held by Embody Carolina, The UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, UNC Panhellenic Council and sponsored by the Carolina House.
This year’s event occurred September 15th from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Union Plaza. They also held a talk from 7 p.m. -8:15 p.m. in the Union Auditorium. McCall Dempsey led the talk, which discussed imperfections, labels, and things that hold us back from loving ourselves.
The purpose of the annual event is to raise awareness for eating disorders and to spread positive thoughts about body image through our campus, as it is such a prevalent issue of concern within our community. The idea behind smashing the “perfect” numbers on the scale is to prove that those numbers should not control the way you feel about your body or yourself. Continue reading Southern Smash
For me, identity politics have sorta defined the last year. Since last September, the never-ending cases of police brutality, the tragic shootings in South Carolina and Chapel Hill, Rachel Dolezal, Saunders Hall, the Black Lives Matter movement, the “check your privilege” culture, Caitlyn Jenner, cultural appropriation, debate of censorship and political correctness in higher education, etc. have all triggered countless discussion. Everyone’s got an opinion on these topics…you, me, your grandma, the really annoying kid in your poli sci class, your bio professor, …everyone. Talking about race, gender, sexuality, & culture is stimulating and resonates with all of us because how we understand our own identity informs how we perceive these racial and gendered politics, AND everyone understands their identity, right? Continue reading The Politics of Identity
It’s March 3, 1991 and four officers from the Los Angeles Police department surround Rodney King after he’s led them on a high-speed chase. What later ensued was one of the most controversial videos ever released, in which four officers are seen beating Mr. King. This is one of the first times that technology factored into what today is all too common: police brutality. All four officers were acquitted of the charges against them including excessive force, and assault with a deadly weapon. The decision to acquit these officers led to what most refer to as the 1992 LA riots. 53 people were killed and over 2000 were injured. Fast forward 24 years and the question I must ask is how much have things changed? Looking at places like Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland I say the resounding answer is not very much. Continue reading Law Enforcement and Racial Relations
Have you ever tried to balance a spoon on your nose? Well, it’s a lot harder than it looks trust me, but you are more than welcome to try! Carolina Hunger Education and Prevention (CHEAP) is encouraging students to take a spoon selfie in the pit every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during the month of September. Spoontember is an initiative started by Feeding America to help raise awareness about hunger in America.
There are a million ways this post could go. Where to start?
College students and mental health. The stigma of mental health and medication. Campus health services and therapy options. The education system. Peer pressure. The desire to be perfect. Academics and the need to know it all.
The list is endless.
I don’t need to know the details and I don’t need to know why. What I do know, and what is important to know, is that a life has been lost. A life has been lost at the hands of its owner and what could’ve been done?
Now is not the time for could’ves and should’ves and would’ves and all the hindsight bias bullshit we like to pull out when things go wrong. Continue reading Untitled.
As I contemplated what to write my first Campus Y blog post on, I thought about what I love about the Campus Y in the first place. For me, it is a necessary establishment that I never had before. In high school, I never really know what “social justice” meant. I was a smart kid, so I’m pretty sure I could’ve strung it together if asked. But it wasn’t until coming to Carolina and becoming a part of this wonderful family that I realized what social justice really means, and more importantly, what it means to me.
First-years (potentially older students) might be in the same boat I was in. This whole concept of one organization constantly working towards the goal of social justice was foreign to me, and I really had to immerse myself in it to understand it completely. Most sources define social justice as “promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity.” No place on Carolina’s campus does a better job of doing that than the Campus Y. Through each subcommittee, injustice is challenged. Whether it be through Nourish hosting Hunger Lunch in the Pit, and raising awareness for global poverty, or through HYPE turning UNC students into education advocates for kids in Carrboro. And valuing diversity is just a given. No other place on campus can you find such a myriad of different people brought together by a similar passion, really getting along. Take a look at the other largest organizations on campus. Not to point any fingers, but the exec boards are all pretty whitewashed. Even when you look beyond the faces on the website, students involved are typically of the same something, be it race, gender, sexuality, or the like. The Campus Y is just a hodgepodge of literally all types of people. And that’s what makes it such a magical, warm place. When I walk around campus and see my friends from the Y, my outside friends are always confused as to how I met these people who are clearly not in our typical circles. But by opening myself up to such an incredible place, I also opened myself up to incredible people.
Social justice is a tricky concept to pin down. And it’s hard to understand how it applies to your life at Carolina. But it doesn’t take much to see the homelessness problem on Franklin, or the low-income housing in Carrboro, or the self segregation on our own campus. You can just turn on the TV and see the police brutality occurring every day, or the incredible need for immigration reform. And The Campus Y is one building attempting to address these issues and every other one that falls in between. And that is what makes this place truly “the conscience of the university.”
There is not enough diversity in Greek Life. It’s obvious. It’s avoided. There is an image in everyone’s head that represents the “ideal” member of a Greek organization. A historically white institution, Greek Life is known to promote conformity and homogeneity. The overwhelming majority of the members are white. While sorority and fraternity members have diverse interests, talents and characteristics, the exterior image reflects a socioeconomically stable white community. As a member of a Greek Life organization, I would not say the members are inherently racist and seek to limit the acceptance of minorities into their organizations. I would, however, feel no uncertainty in admitting that there are racial inequalities in Greek Life Organizations on many college campuses, including UNC. Just look online at UNC’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) and the Panhellenic Association leadership photos on UNC’swebsite to see the lack of racial diversity present.
For just one evening, UNC-Chapel Hill had one more class from which to choose when Fair, Local, and Organic (FLO) Food hosted Food 101 in the Great Hall of the Student Union on September 3rd. The event began with a selection of delicious organic food – such as fruit smoothies and soy nuggets – and culminated with five speakers, each of whom spoke for five to ten minutes about a food-related issue of their choice.
Every speaker had different approaches and conveyed different messages. Alice Ammerman, a professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC, went through a list of majors – from art history to clinical laboratory science – to emphasize the importance of food in a wide variety of topics. Darin Knapp, a professor at the UNC School of Medicine, spoke about Ramble Rill Farm and its role in growing and selling organic fruits and vegetables. Cameron Coughlin, a junior at UNC, spoke about TABLE and its projects related to feeding hungry students in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area. Jennifer Curtis talked about Firsthand Foods and the process it undertakes to sell meat from pasture-raised cows, pigs, and chickens. Even Scott Weir, a member of Carolina Dining Services (CDS), gave a presentation about food waste with a compost bin sitting right next to him as a prop. To sophomore Kaia Findlay, the inclusion of Weir was important.
“I appreciated hearing from CDS because eating in the dining hall can be mysterious business,” Findlay said. “I was encouraged by the presentation and by the fact that we have dining staff with whom we can communicate.”
Sophomore Kalli Bunch liked Weir’s presentation as well. However, she had a personal connection to Coughlin’s presentation.
“Coughlin was my favorite because I’m a Bonner Leader and TABLE is one of our community partners,” Bunch said. “As a result, I’m always happy to hear about the work they’re doing in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.”
For FLO Foods, an organization that is interested in expanding its outreach and educating students about the food system, this event was an astounding success. Findlay, who had only attended one other FLO event, enjoyed this one.
“The event was well-executed, informative, and fun,” Findlay said. “I have discovered my passion this year for agriculture and food studies and FLO events are an excellent way to get educated about those things. Everybody eats even if they don’t like to do it. For that reason, it is important for students to learn about the health of their bodies and how what they put into their bodies impacts the health of their community on a local and global scale.”