President Biden’s Vaccine Mandate: A student shares why a vaccine mandate might not be the best choice.

On September 10, President Biden announced new measures to battle Covid 19. The Department of Labor will develop a new emergency rule requiring all federal employees and contractors to be vaccinated, as well as workers at any healthcare facility that receives Medicare or Medicaid. In addition to this, every company with over 100 employees is required to mandate vaccinations or test unvaccinated employees weekly.

There was an immediate backlash to these mandates; 24 states and the Republican party have threatened to sue if the mandates were implemented. In addition, countless other organizations have expressed disapproval as well. These groups claim the mandate violates both employees and employers’ freedom. But to understand if these mandates really are infringing on people’s freedom, it may be helpful to look at the reason for the mandate. On September 10th President Biden stated the reason, “The bottom line — we’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated coworkers.”

What does it mean to protect vaccinated individuals from unvaccinated individuals? If a vaccine is fully effective, why would an unvaccinated person pose a risk to a vaccinated person? According to the CDC, “COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick.” If vaccines are “effective”, what does a vaccinated person have to fear? According to scientists, variants, such as the Delta variant, originate as the virus gets spread around from person to person. In an article in Healthline magazine, Dr. Purvi Parikh said, “If everyone is vaccinated, eventually infections drop to zero and so do variants, but if the virus has an easy host, such as an unvaccinated individual, then it is easy for it to mutate into a more contagious and virulent form.”

The logic is, that if people are not vaccinated a virus can mutate into being more deadly or contagious as they spread it around. A virus becoming more contagious is not necessarily an issue, what should be a worry, is it becoming more harmful. Some viruses actually become less harmful. The 1918 influenza pandemic mutated into one of the strands of the common flu we have today. Why do we not seem to be worried about the flu mutating into something more deadly?

For many people, the vaccine makes a lot of sense, especially for the elderly or those with pre-existing conditions for whom Covid-19 can be very dangerous. But if you are under the age of forty, you have a .04% chance of dying of Covid, and the younger and healthier you are, your chances of getting sick decrease dramatically. For people in these categories, a vaccine barely seems necessary, especially with many warnings from doctors about the insufficient testing of the vaccine, and the rare but dangerous side effects, such as blood clots.

         I don’t pretend to be a doctor.  But here is the point I want to make. With so much conflicting data and opinions, personal choice is essential. Medical professionals should be allowed to share their opinions on Covid. Hospitals should be allowed to offer alternative cures. Patients should be allowed to choose treatment. Employers should be allowed to decide the rules for how to keep their employees safe. And employees should then be able to make their decision and negotiate with their employer. President Biden’s mandate, however well intended, will eliminate the freedoms of both employers and employees. The more we limit freedom, the more science, which operates on the basis of freedom, will be suppressed. If we allow that, we will become controlled by the whims of power-hungry individuals, and an ever-growing government. 

Which Jonas Era is Better?: Comparing the Jonas Brothers before and after the split.

Remember 10 or 11ish years ago? When we are jamming out to “Burnin’ Up,” and “Fly with Me” by the Jonas Brothers. From “SOS” to “Year 3,000”, the Jonas Brothers have created so many songs that the Gen Z generation knows and loves.  Some fans still know the songs by heart, while others smile when they remember the good old days.

         In 2012, the Jonas Brothers announced they were splitting up.  From that moment on, the Jonas Brothers did not release any more music together. Each brother went on to do their own separate projects.  Nick had a successful solo career, Joe’s band DNCE did exceptionally well, and Kevin was able to start a family.  During the hiatus, each brother worked hard to find what they were passionate about.  They were able to grow individually, so they could create things that represented who they were.

After a six-year hiatus, the brothers announced they are getting back together. Along with the announcement, the brothers released their song, “Sucker.” This song sounded completely different from the music they released 10 years ago.  Since the brothers spent time working on themselves, the music they made together was so much stronger.  Each brother had found the sounds that they love separately and were able to put it together to create something brand new.

There are different opinions on which era of the Jonas Brothers is better, and I believe it is the here and now. I still remember the words to every song from 10 years ago, but the music they are releasing now is so more well-crafted.  With each release, you can hear how each brother worked hard to bring their own style or flair to piece. In their new song, “Whos In Your Head,” you can hear the DNCE sound mixed together with Nick’s solo career sound. 

The brothers worked hard while they were on their own and they are bringing those skill to the band to make something astounding. 10 years ago, we received the songs of our childhood.  But now, the band we know, and love is creating the songs of our adulthood.  Their old music is something fans of the Jonas Brothers can cherish forever, but their new sound is unique to them.  When you hear their music, you hear the sounds of three brothers having the time of their lives.

Eastern’s Covid Protocols: A honest look at the universities COVID policies.

As we begin another pandemic school year, Eastern University’s COVID-19 policies are much more flexible than last year.  Last year, the COVID policies were clear cut.  Masks were required everywhere, off-campus travel was prohibited, and freedom of choice was non-existent.  This year, Eastern has a much different approach to navigating COVID.  Since vaccines are so widely available and highly effective against COVID-19, the university has provided more wiggle room when it comes COVID policies. 

Last year, masks were required everywhere; no exceptions. Now, students have the option to choose what makes them feel the most comfortable.  With only a handful of offices and departments requiring masks, students are able to choose whether or not they wear one.  In addition, unlike most universities, Eastern has not required the COVID-19 vaccine.  Again, this allows students to decide what is best for their health.  

This choice by the university is a step in the right direction because it allows students to do their own personal risk assessment.  In the middle of a health crisis, individuals should be able to make their own choices based on their medical history, experiences and insights from their doctor.  Eastern’s COVID policies open the door for students to take responsibility for themselves. 

However, the university is highly recommending the vaccine for students. If students are fully vaccinated, they are no longer required to quarantine. Instead, in the event they are exposed, they only need to wear a mask for 14 days.  However, if an unvaccinated student is exposed COVID-19, they need to observe a seven day quarantine and provide two negative tests.  In that regard, vaccines not only protect you from the virus, but they also keep you on campus and out of quarantine.  

These policies provide much more freedom to the student, however, the university has failed to clearly lay out their policies.  When asked about the COVID policies, a student said, “I honestly am not entirely sure what the protocols are, I just do what everyone else does.” Since students do not fully understand the policies, Eastern should strive to clarify their policies. 

Looking at the university as a whole, Eastern has created an environment for personal choice.  Since the pandemic continues to wreak havoc in people’s lives, it is important that students are able to make their decisions for their health.  Compared to last year, Eastern is giving students a much more college-like experience and more freedom to choose. So, all in all, the university is in a much better place, but should strive to clearly lay out their protocols, so students can be confident in their personal health decisions. 

 

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.