SGA Advocates for Fair Wages At Eastern: SGA proposal aims to raise the wages of Eastern University’s essential personnel

National concern surrounding what constitutes a fair wage is an alarming issue across the United States. As the Student Government Association (SGA) consists of leaders advocating for change, they have acquired an in-depth understanding of how Eastern University operates. Due to this, it became clear to SGA members that there is a need to address the treatment of every member of the Eastern community. Eastern University’s SGA has provided a closer examination into this reality. 

Across the United States, the poverty line is identified as being $19,320 at the 50th percentile for a single person. “Some of the lowest-paid essential staff members, who are employed directly by Eastern, are paid approximately $12.60 an hour,” SGA shared. If these essential staff members worked a 40 hour week or full-time, their annual income is roughly $26,390. Following taxes, their annual income is roughly $22,520. Therefore, the take-home pay of these essential staff members is a measly $3,200 above the United States poverty line. According to the publicly available 990 forms that all nonprofits have to submit to the IRS, Eastern University’s revenue for 2019 was $80,183,384. In a social media statement written by Xeyah Martin, the SGA President, a call to action was put forth over the wages given to Eastern University’s essential service personnel. “Some of the challenges we will present include: An Eastern minimum wage of at least $15 an hour for staff. We have essential service personnel living way too close to the poverty line while working at an institution that garners more than $80 million per year and pays its executives in the hundreds of thousands,” Martin declared. 

SGA plans to actively advocate for increased incomes of essential staff members by starting with a security proposal to strengthen how student spaces are protected and secured. “The most significant way we protect students is with personnel,” SGA explained. National hiring shortages faced by U.S. businesses and institutions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have also impacted Eastern University. In addition to this, Eastern has faced hiring shortages prior to the pandemic which, some have theorized, is a result of the low wages being offered by the institution to potential employees. Currently, Eastern has three full-time openings and one part-time opening for essential staff employees. While Eastern has six public safety officers and one director, Cabrini’s public safety supervising team alone consists of seven people. In order to strengthen how student spaces are protected and secured, the security proposal involves raising wages to $15 an hour to help with the retaining and hiring of such vital positions. Following this, SGA plans on formally introducing an additional proposal in favor of increasing the minimum wage of all staff to at least $15 per hour. 

“We would like to reinforce the idea that all of us are more than just ‘students’ of this University. We are paying customers and stakeholders. We should be allowed to determine where our money is being spent and how,” SGA emphasized. 

Students with questions, ideas, or opportunities for partnership are welcome to reach out at sga@eastern.edu. Additionally, students can keep up with SGA and their proposals through Instagram.com/Eastern_SGA. In their Instagram bio, SGA’s linktr.ee account lists all of their current proposals. “We are here to listen to and serve our student body and I can definitively say this is a genuine conviction our Executive Board and all of our Senate members hold,” Martin stated.

Sources: Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Economic Policy Institute 

“Essential personnel are the employees that students are interacting with and being cared for by the most. The essential personnel are the ones actively taking care of students and day-to-day operations, and it’s time we take care of them” Martin stated.

The Cost Of Child Protection: Is Apple fighting child pornography for the right reasons?

On August 5, 2021, Apple announced they will be releasing an update which will focus on combating child abuse.  This new update aims to mitigate the spread of digital content which depicts children involved in sexually explicit activities. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) has increased by 28% in 2020. Due to rising CSAM concerns, Apple’s new IOS 15 update scans users photos, messages, and email attachments for CSAM. Despite their noble effort to reduce the sexualization of children, Apple’s update poses many user privacy concerns. This article will focus on why Apple’s CSAM feature should not be released and the negative impacts of such a system on society. 

Most people would consider their photos, messages, emails, and searches to be sensitive information. Although Apple is trying to limit the sexualization of children on their devices, there are inadvertent consequences to designing algorithms which can limit and report on the transmission of information. Apple is currently deploying this technology for a noble cause, however, there is nothing stopping them from using the same systems to inhibit other types of data. For example, Apple could branch off and sensor political movements, groups, or anything they deem a threat. Apple users could find themselves flagged for having a conversation over text or doing research on a political issue.  

If Apple users are flagged, they could find themselves in a situation where they are not able to freely converse about certain topics, or do their own research on what is happening around the world.  In this situation, Apple would be deciding what users can and cannot talk about.  This would cause Apple users to lose their freedom to express their opinions and learn about the different issues in our society.  Fighting against child abuse is a noble cause, but should it be at the expense of the user? 

Apple’s new CSAM feature highlights a central question– how must we monitor and govern our technology in a way that promotes freedom and remains ethical. Although it is important to fight against the mistreatment of children, this cannot come at the expense of personal freedom. If Apple releases this update, they need to ensure a proper implementation of the software.  The concept of user information being monitored can make an Apple user feel violated.  Apple’s goals are in the right direction, but they need to confirm their software will not breach that privacy of the user. 

To Lift or Not To Lift: That is the question. How to find motivation to work out.

Most students already know the benefits of going to the gym but still do not go. Why? For many, trying to find motivation or not having enough time are the major reasons for not going to the gym. Trying to find time is a daunting task, especially for a college student who is constantly juggling assignments, internships, friendships and so much more. So how do you find time? Any type of working out is beneficial even if you do some calisthenics (exercises that use your own bodyweight) in your room or go walking with a friend. However, if you have the time but not the motivation, then what do you do?

Finding motivation for the gym varies for everyone. For most athletes, their sport is the biggest driving factor for why they go to the gym. However, athletes only make up a fraction of the students here at Eastern, let alone in the whole world. Trying to find motivation to work out, let alone do anything requires you to push yourself in order to try and make a change. This is the same with the gym. If you walk into the gym with no desire to push yourself to make a change for your mind and your body, then you are never going to find your motivation. But once you decide to push yourself then your motivation will follow.

Some common things that people use as motivation is to use the gym as a way of quieting their life and clearing their head. The thirty minutes to an hour that you work out is a great time to get away from your schoolwork or whatever else is causing stress in your life. Being able to just focus on something primitive that requires little thought is a great way to relieve your stress from the day.

Another common reason to find motivation for the gym is to create goals for you. These goals could be as simple as trying to lift more, sweat harder than yesterday or trying to look better for the beach.

Everyone can try to motivate themselves to go to the gym everyday, but the ones who succeed are those who truly want to make a change in their life, both physically and mentally.

A Move of Énormité: A brief look at Lionel Messi’s career and departure from FC Barcelona

On Dec. 14, 2000, Barcelona FC, one of the most well-known football clubs in the world, scrambled to sign a child prodigy. It was the father of the 13 year-old player who signed the contract that was, in the moment, written on a napkin. This 13 year-old boy was none other than Lionel Messi. Messi has broken and set many records at FC Barcelona, including most appearances for the club (778), most goals for the club as well as most goals ever scored under one club (672). However, over the summer of 2021, the unexpected happened. At the mark of midnight on July 1, Lionel Messi’s 4-year nearly $600 million contract expired. This meant that one of the best soccer players in history was now a free agent. While there were talks of FC Barcelona attempting to re-sign the giant they had attained many years ago, the Spanish club simply couldn’t afford him anymore.

On Sunday, August 8, Messi held an official farewell press conference where he sorrowfully said goodbye to his club of 21 years. Then, after numerous rumors, Messi was signed by another club: Paris Saint-Germain FC (PSG), the wealthiest club in the French football league. Despite turning 34 over the summer, Lionel Messi is still considered to be one of best players in the world and recently won the Copa América (an international tournament for all South American nations) captaining the national team of his home nation, Argentina. Because he was a free agent, PSG didn’t have to pay anything to FC Barcelona; they only had to worry about Messi’s wage. Lionel Messi signed a contract with PSG for two years, a yearly salary of about $41 million and an option for a third year. After having officially signed with PSG, Messi’s old FC Barcelona teammate who left to join PSG in 2017, Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior (Neymar), offered to give up the number 10 for Messi to claim.

Instead, Lionel Messi declined the offer and has taken up the number 30 on his jersey, which was the first number he wore for the senior FC Barcelona team. Having attained four extraordinary players over the summer—Messi, Ramos, Donnarumma and Wijnaldum—it is speculated that PSG is making an immense effort to win the Champions League for the first time ever in 2022. Yet it can not be overstated how big of an impact Messi will have on the team off the Parisian pitch as well. Rumors on how many Messi jerseys have been sold in the first 24 hours of the signing span from 250,000 to 830,000. No matter the actual amount, it is sufficient to say that Lionel Messi will be drawing in massive amounts of revenue for his new club. Lionel Messi made his debut for PSG on August 29, featuring in a 2-0 win against Reims in League 1. All League 1 games can be streamed on beIN SPORTS.

Sources: ESPN, FC Barcelona

The Aftermath of Hurricane Ida: New Orleans experiences power outage after Hurricane Ida strikes.

On the sixteenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ida struck the United States roughly 45 miles west of where Hurricane Katrina initially hit land. Hurricane Ida struck the shores of Louisiana near Port Fourchon with 150-mph winds on August 29th, granting it the title of the fifth most powerful hurricane to touch the mainland United States. The Category 4 storm was responsible for reversing the flow of the Mississippi River, flooding living spaces and streets, and causing a power outage to all of New Orleans. 

According to the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, energy companies revealed that generators were the lone source of power in the entire city following Hurricane Ida. “Entergy, a power company with 2.9 million customers across the South, said that all eight transmission lines that power the New Orleans area were out of service,” The New York Times explained. New Orleans forecasters predicted high temperatures during the weekend that followed the power outage, raising concern towards the well-being of the city’s most vulnerable residents. 

As the city’s temperatures began rising in the days following the power outage, the lack of air conditioning and dwindling supplies raised prices significantly as many residents searched for vital resources. While New Orleans residents had access to clean drinking water, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans depended on generators at drainage and pumping stations. The supply and demand for drainage and pumping stations reached heightened levels as the power outage continued. 

The grid recovery process necessary for power restoration involves strategically restoring energy to segments of the grid in the midst of stabilizing the electrical load. A grid requires the capacity to reserve surplus power in the transmission system to refrain from overloading the system if the energy supply and demand are not equivalent. “Seeding power haphazardly can result in power surges and fluctuations that would cause even more equipment damage and failures,” The Lens stated. 

Governor John Bel Edwards emphasized that Louisiana was prioritizing the restoration of power to hospitals, especially since the generators that many hospitals had been using were expected to fail overtime. As hospitals are dealing with an inpouring of COVID-19 patients, blackouts forced health care workers to pump air into the lungs of patients’ on respirators manually while awaiting evacuation to locations with generators. 

Following this massive power outage, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued an 8 p.m. curfew. The mayor noted that this was a “proactive” measure since arrests had previously been made for looting. New Orleans Police Chief Shaun Ferguson declared that local and state police and the National Guard would be patrolling the streets throughout the curfew. 

As of September 9, Entergy has restored power to 98-percent of New Orleans. As electricity has resurfaced to the vast majority of New Orleans residents, city officials and community members aim to take the next step of navigating the repercussions of Hurricane Ida: healing and recovery. 

Sources: AP News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Lens

Holding Out Hope: The trials and tribulations of a diehard fan waiting for a championship.

Hockey analyst, Steve Dangle Glynn titled his book, “This Team is Ruining My Life (But I Love Them).” This title sums up how most fans feel if they are faithful to a team that hasn’t won a championship since before they were born or in their childhood. It’s mentally and emotionally draining when you sit in front of the television, waiting for your team to score that winning touchdown or run, and they come up short every time.

But like Steve Dangle says, he still loves his team. People still tune into the games, purchase tickets and wear jerseys. What prevents fans from abandoning their drought-ridden teams (like the Dallas Cowboys or the Cleveland Indians) and hopping on the bandwagon of a winning team (like the New England Patriots or Los Angeles Dodgers)?

In a blog post, actor, director and writer Kenney Myers gives 10 possible reasons that fans remain loyal to their below-average teams. One of these possible reasons is geography. Fans that are from a certain area or live in a certain area are more likely to cheer for that area’s sports teams. Location facilitates a connection between the city’s sports teams and the fans who grew up or live in that area.

Another reason for fan loyalty is mob mentality. When you get caught up in your favorite team’s fanbase, you become one with the rest of the group. Further, mob mentality transitions into the idea of the team being an extension of yourself. Being a fan of the team becomes part of your identity. If you abandon your team after a long haul supporting them, you abandon a part of yourself. When your team is successful, you feel successful yourself. Likewise, when your team is losing, you feel like you’re losing as well.

Perhaps the largest factor that keeps fans dedicated to their teams is the hope that their team may one day win. Dr. Edward Hirt, professor in Indiana University’s Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences, said, “One of the beauties of sports is that anything can happen on any given day.” Fans have hope that their team signing the top striker in the league will propel them to a championship. Like Hirt said, anything can happen. Whether it be because of luck, skill or strategic management, teams could pull through.

Sports teams draw fans in from all over the world, and usually, fans stay loyal to the teams they choose to follow. Despite those teams being unsuccessful or utterly frustrating to watch, fans keep coming back for various reasons. Fans’ commitments to a team that isn’t doing well is key to the beauty of sports.

 

Sources: Forbes, Headspace, Kenney Myers 

Celebrating Bi Visibility Day: A thoughtful reflection and affirmation of bisexual and biromantic folks.

September 23rd is Bi Visibility Day, a day where we can acknowledge and affirm bisexual and biromantic folks. A quote from the Washington Post reads, “One in six adults in Generation Z identifies as LGBT” and of that, 72% identify as bisexual. To delve more deeply into this identity, we talked to Sophia Hunter (she/they), who identifies as genderqueer, bisexual, and biromatic.

When asked to define bisexuality, Hunter said, “‘Bi’ is an evolving term! It means something different to each bi-identifying person.” She added that “The prefix ‘bi’ means ‘two’. Usually, ‘bi’ implies attraction to both men and women. However, with progressive understanding of gender changing and largely eliminating a default gender binary of man and woman, and with my own non-binary gender identity, I have heard some bi folks suggest we accept a definition of bi as being attraction to both cis people and trans people, regardless of particular gender”.

Bi folks experience a variety of marginalizations, both within the queer community and outside of it. “We experience biphobia from larger straight-normalized society that expects heterosexuality from us, and also from monosexual (i.e. attraction to only one gender) queer people, who sometimes expect us to pursue relationships with people of the same gender in order to call ourselves queer. All of this can be summed up in one statement: not being straight enough for straight people, and not being gay enough for queer people. This reality we face can be extremely isolating. In fact, bi individuals face greater risk for mental health problems than both straight people and lesbians and gay men,” Hunter said. 

However, many bisexual and biromantic people find great joy in their identities as well, despite the struggles they face. Hunter said, “The experience of discovering I love in more ways than one is filled with indescribable joy. It’s so hard to describe to someone that’s never had to realize they love differently than the norm does. I’m so thankful that I was created bi. Knowing my capacity for love extends farther than what is normalized in our society is thrilling and humbling, and as an out bi person, I look at the world with so much more devotion than I ever could or did before. All love is beautiful. All love is love. Coming into and coming out to the fullness of how my love was created to be is astonishing.”

The support of allies matters. Hunter gives several clear ways that everyone can support bisexual and biromantic folks around them: “Acknowledge Pride month and bi visibility month!…because we are attracted to the opposite gender as well as the same– we’re not just in queer spaces. We’re in straight, “normal” spaces too, and you’d never know. Be aware of that. In general, if you or someone you know holds assumptions about bi folks like I mentioned earlier, please please do unlearn them. There are so many resources on bi experiences available online, and a couple of Google searches should help you correct this thinking… Hold us in loving and explicit affirmation. Make space for us to be and talk about all that we are. Accept that we are who we say we are; accept that we are capable of knowing who we are. Celebrate who and how we love: including when we love ourselves. Love is the best thing to have and experience in this hell of a world, so celebrate it and affirm it wherever it is.”

Movie Spotlight: “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”: A look at Marvel Cinematic Universe’s newest film, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

After over a year of anticipation, Marvel finally released their second movie since the strike of the pandemic in the form of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is the 25th installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the first to feature an Asian lead. The movie stars Simu Liu as “Shaun,” or “Shang-Chi,” as he and his sister (played by Meng’er Zhang) are forced to face their past with their father and prevent their father from causing destruction using the ten rings.

From the casting, to the soundtrack and the script, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” has a little bit of something for everyone. 

The movie, while paving part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, also works as a standalone origin movie. It is safe to say that beyond the end-credit scenes, any non-Marvel fan could enjoy “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and not have to worry about being lost in the lore.

As a Marvel fan, I tend to hold Marvel movies to a higher standard amongst each other, and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” did not disappoint.

The choreography of the fight scenes is among the best that I have seen in any movie, Marvel and beyond. The elegance of the martial arts moves in fight scenes adds a new dynamic to the MCU. The movie also gave off strong “Avatar the Last Airbender” vibes, with the idea of using martial arts to control the elements around themselves. The movement of energy surrounding the characters when fighting was smooth and followed the flow of the actors’ movements extremely well. I could watch the fight scenes in this movie for hours, and I am generally not a huge fan of action scenes. 

The villain, who happens to be Shang-Chi’s father (played by Tony Leung), is not obnoxious in his antagonistic ways. Yes, he poses as a challenge to Shang-Chi, but he plays the villain and father roles remarkably well that makes for a great father-son duel.

The wardrobe department also deserves an ovation for their work in making not only Shang-Chi’s suit, but the rest of the clothing and styles throughout the movie. The visuals in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” were beautiful to look at, and the wardrobe department played a huge role in creating some beautiful scenes. 

Overall, the cinematography in this movie was great, the visuals in this movie were absolutely stunning, and the CGI was incorporated nicely with the rest of the film. The movement of the rings was a pleasure to watch and blended flawlessly.

 The mythical creatures of the forest surrounding Ta-Lo were surprisingly realistic and beautiful to admire. They blended in very well with their background, and for a moment while watching, I almost believed that they could be real. Among these creatures from the forest surrounding Ta-Lo was Morris, a faceless, six-legged creature who stole the hearts of many in the theater, including my own. 

The movie also did a good job of addressing a major elephant in the room that was leftover from “Iron Man 3” in a tongue-in-cheek manner. It featured a unique redemption arc for some characters, and provided closure on an otherwise unresolved plot error.

I had reservations about certain casting decisions going into this movie, but I could not imagine this movie with any other actors in their roles. The movie also featured exciting cameos from other Marvel Cinematic Universe characters that brought the movie into the Marvel Cinematic Universe nicely.

I could not run out of good things to say about this movie, as the entire time I spent watching it, I was thinking about when the next time I could go would be. If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend seeing “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

Eastern University Football: How would EU change if American football was introduced?

After rumors and years of deliberation, it’s official. Eastern University will introduce football to its athletic department. In an email from the Office of the President, President Ron Matthews detailed the expansion of EU Athletics.

“We will begin team recruiting efforts for the Fall of 2022 and anticipate competing in the NCAA III MAC conference by Fall 2023,” a statement from the email read. EU also said that they plan to work with Valley Forge Military Academy to use and upgrade their facilities, including the football field and locker rooms.

What does this addition mean for the current Eastern University community? Perhaps the introduction of football at a school with less than 2,000 students will increase enrollment. Football teams are big; the NCAA limits rosters to 110 during the offseason, but teams can have more during the season. This could be advantageous not only for more students to have the opportunity to enroll in college but because more students increases the amount of recognition Eastern would receive. 10 out of 18 institutions in the Middle Atlantic Conferences have varsity football teams. If Eastern were added to that list, it would have the chance to present itself as a powerhouse in the MAC Conferences. With the popularity of college football, Eastern would profit in fame and possibly fortune.

On the contrary, a downside to enrolling more students is the abandonment of one of Eastern’s core selling points: their 10:1 student to faculty ratio. With the addition of not only a football team but students that are more attracted to the school because of the football team, this number might increase to 20:1 or even 30:1. Larger class sizes and less personal attention in those classes could be a result. This would deter students who prefer close professor interaction away from Eastern.

Many students choose Eastern University not only for its small class sizes but also for its small, quaint campus. With the introduction of football and more students, more space will be needed. Parking lots would need to be added to compensate for the influx of recruits and more students, as more students seem to bring their cars to campus every year (and residence parking spots are already fairly limited). Additional housing may need to be provided to compensate for the influx of freshmen, transfers and now new sports members. The campus would go from quaint and connected to larger, busier and possibly louder. 

Additionally, although the facilities at Valley Forge are only three minutes away, students will not be able to walk 5 minutes to Olson Field or the gymnasium to see a game. Students that don’t have cars will struggle to be involved with the student experience at football games because the facilities are off campus. The perk of EU’s fields being so central around campus is that there’s immediate access for students on campus. It’s easy for students to go to games and support their school.

President Matthews stated in his email that EU hopes to be “sparking school spirit, more campus events, increased enrollment opportunities, and different experiences for our student body” with the addition of not only football but cheer, dance and the pep band as well. Whether these hopes will be received positively or negatively by Eastern University’s community is unknown, but the university’s mission of faith, reason and justice must remain moving forward. Despite the changes that may happen to Eastern, the school is still rooted in its core values, which should be upheld and represented by students, athletes and faculty alike.

 

Sources: MAC Sports, Marketplace, NCSA Sports, Office of the President of Eastern University

Broadway is Back: A brief look into the return of live theatre and the role it plays in society

Over the summer of 2019, I had the opportunity to attend three performances on Broadway: “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Phantom of the Opera,” and “Hadestown.” I have performed in a multitude of shows, my most recent one being “A Doll’s House,” and have designed the lighting for shows including “Kiss Me, Kate.” While I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Broadway shows as a fan of theatre, they also spoke to me as a student of literature and philosophy. However, my experience on Broadway also gave me a perspective on our culture as a nation. The values found in these performances like empathy, kindness, and resilience, mixed with the experience of sharing in these stories with strangers from all over the world moved me towards a newfound appreciation and hope for the world we live in.

That, in a sense, is a simplistic overview of the power of live theatre like Broadway. Even though theatre is not everyone’s cup of tea, people know about Broadway; people understand that Broadway is a cultural monument in the United States, if only as a tourist hotspot. But not even a year after my time in New York City, tragedy struck the world in the form of a pandemic. On March 12 2020, all Broadway performances were shut down due to the growing dangers of the Covid-19 pandemic. After 18 months of Broadway, as well as most live performances around the nation being closed, I have often found myself reflecting on the values of hope and resilience I witnessed in the performance of “Hadestown” I experienced. While the show acknowledges itself as a tragedy, it emphasizes the importance of retelling itself with an ever-present hope that “spring will come again.”  Now, as of September 2021, Broadway performances are starting up once more.

While only a few shows opened early September, most performances are expected to be performing again by the end of the year. One of which includes “Pass Over,” which Playbill describes as: “Inspired by both “Waiting for Godot” and the “Exodus” saga, “Pass Over” follows Moses and Kitch, two young black men who dream of an existence beyond their street corner. Between stagings, [the playwright] Nwandu modified the play to center on the joy rather than trauma.” Another play, “Waitress,” follows Jenna, a waitress that stuck in a small town and a loveless marriage. Her customers, co-workers, and the town’s handsome new doctor all offer her conflicting recipes for happiness but Jenna must ultimately decide for herself.” The 74th Tony Awards ceremony that was postponed from 2020 will be taking place on Sunday, September 26th, and is a reminder that Broadway is back. 

Sources: Playbill