Apple Music vs. Spotify: It’s time to settle the debate.

Apple Music and Spotify are two of the most popular ways for people to get their music.

As an avid Spotify user, I have never actually used Apple Music beyond downloading it for this article. Upon first glance, the way each app plays music looks very similar, but Apple Music does hold an advantage with having the lyrics show up on the screen while they’re being played.

In looking at the differences on the app stores for iOS and android, one thing that really stood out to me was the fact that the Apple app store had reviews turned off for Apple music, but Spotify has a 4.8/5 rating. The reviews may be turned off due to apple music being pre-downloaded on all Apple devices, but it still seems strange. The google play store has an overall rating of 3.7/5 for Apple Music and 4.4/5 for Spotify. These numbers seem close, but it is also important to note that Spotify has over 22 million reviews on the Google play store and 17 million reviews on the Apple app store, whereas Apple Music only has 400,000 reviews on Google play store only.

Reviews aside, both apps have the same subscription price for their services, however Spotify has a free version with ads whereas Apple Music requires a subscription fee to use the unlimited library, and charges per individual song without a subscription. Spotify also has more subscriptions with partnerships with other services such as Hulu for cheaper rates.

Spotify also has Podcasts included in the app with access included in the subscription costs, while Apple has a separate app and service for podcasts.

Overall both apps serve the same purpose, and use of each app is subject to the individual user, but if you’re looking for a higher rated app with more in-app features, then Spotify may be the right choice for you.

Vaccination Misinformation: Making an informed decision on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Since the start of COVID-19’s reign of terror in the U.S. there has been controversy regarding the best course of action to address the illness and eradicate it from the country. The response of some was to protest mask mandates and stay at home orders while others stocked food and toilet paper in preparation for plenty of time indoors.

As the dangers of the virus became more apparent, early testing and development began for a vaccine. Once again opposing sides emerged: some rejecting the idea of using such a novel medication, and others who celebrated, searching for the first appointment they could find. The U.S. has now reached a stage in vaccine distribution where appointments can be made for all persons 16 and older, not only those suffering from chronic illnesses or in essential job fields. With newfound accessibility comes the question if one really should utilize this immunization or not.

What seems to be most concerning for many of those questioning the effectiveness of the vaccine is how quickly it was created when other vaccines and medications can traditionally take years to manufacture. It is true that this vaccine was developed quickly, but this is not at all a testament product’s reliability. When an event like a pandemic occurs, searching for a solution becomes essential. Paperwork and funding for research was fast-tracked for the COVID-19 vaccine due to the emergent nature of the situation, greatly speeding up the entire process; however, rigorous testing and clinical trials of the vaccine were not neglected in the slightest.

Side effects of the vaccine are still being closely monitored as vaccine distribution continues. As one may have seen in the news, six recent recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine developed blood clots as a side effect, killing one woman. This news was frightening, and the FDA immediately halted the use of this brand.  Nevertheless, it is important to note that these six cases emerged out of a pool of 6.8 million recipients of the same vaccine, making this side effect apparent less than 0.00009% of the time. The FDA was able to acknowledge this fact, review the side effects once more, and weigh the risk against the benefits for this vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson brand has since been reapproved for distribution.

There is a lot of misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine, such as a lack of effective indepth research conducted in the development stage, or common and dire side effects of the shot, or even that the vaccine itself could contain a microchip. In a time like this it is very important to your own research to make an informed decision. The Mayo Clinic is a great resource with a straightforward fact sheet about the vaccine. Here you can find plenty of information about each kind of vaccine, including how each works once inside the body. The CDC also houses plenty of information about vaccine clinical trials and safety.

After conducting my own research of the new vaccines I have decided to be vaccinated. I trust the recommendations of many doctors and researchers that this vaccine is safe and effective and will protect me and those around me from the continued spread of COVID-19.

Visit the PA and CDC official websites to start your own research and/or make an appointment.

Sources: cdc.gov, pa.gov

Logging Off For Now: One student shares why she plans on taking a gap year before continuing her education.

Like many college seniors, the most frequent question I have been asked over this past year is, “what are your plans after graduation?” As innocuous as the intent may be, this question is often loaded with anxiety-inducing expectations and assumptions. Just as going to undergrad has become a seemingly required next step for most high school seniors, so has the prospect of attending grad school become increasingly expected of most college seniors.

Of course there are logistical reasons for attending graduate school immediately out of college, especially if someone is working towards a job that requires a higher level of education. Students who are focusing in specialized fields often want to get their schooling done as quickly as possible so they can begin working in their
desired field as soon as they can. Other students genuinely love school and want nothing more than to continue their journey. These are both great reasons to continue on after undergrad into higher learning, and the choice to go straight into graduate programs is ultimately up to the individual.

Though I love school and do anticipate receiving a higher degree at some point, I am excited to take a gap year (or two!) before I continue on to grad school.

Most college students have been in school since pre-k. For a senior in college, that’s around eighteen years of schooling with summer and winter vacations as the only break time in between the otherwise monotony of being a full time student.

When I did the math, I realized that for most of my cognizant life, I have been chained to the schooling system. While I am grateful for the opportunities that my education has provided me, I have fallen ill to the burnout many students experience as a result of being in an organized educational process for so long. I know that I am in desperate need of a break.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, these past two scholastic years have looked different than ever before. Though things are slowly returning to a kind of normalcy, I am not confident that schools will be completely back to normal at the start of the fall term. I want to make sure that when I return to school, the inconveniences and hardships COVID has created will not plague my academic endeavors anymore.

Although I do anticipate going back to school at some point in the near future, I am excited to take the next year or two to figure out just who I am outside the four walls of a classroom- for most of my life it’s all I’ve ever known. I am excited to read because I want to and not because I have to for some class. I am excited to write about things I’m interested in with no deadlines or due dates. More than anything, though, I am excited to see how my education has formed me, not just as a student, but as a person.

I should hope that the purpose of my education was not to keep me bound to the confines of the classroom forever. I hope instead that my education has equipped
me with the proper tools to be a student forever, not just of the classroom but of the world around me.

I can’t wait to begin this next chapter of my life. I hope to catch up on some much needed rest, read more fiction, travel, and work on some non-school related projects I’ve had to place on the backburner for a while now. And then, when the time is right, I will reenter the classroom to continue what has never really stopped: my education.

Zero Reports Does Not Equal Zero Rapes: Low statistics do not mean assault isn’t happening– just that it isn’t being reported.

The 2020 Annual Security Report for Eastern University boasts crime statistics for the past three years such as zero cases of rape, zero cases of dating violence, and only one non-penetrative sexual offense in the past three years.

Having spent three years at Eastern University as a woman, in community with other women on campus, I can confidently say these numbers are vastly underreported. In my time at Eastern, I have supported friends who were harassed, intimidated, and inappropriately touched by male students they now sit next to in class every day. I know students afraid to walk alone at night on campus, a student who had a knife pulled on them on the Sparrowk path, and several students victimized by sexual assault.

These stories remain unreported. But why?

There are a number of reasons why a student may choose not to report harassment and assault, such as fear and shame, but there are other factors that impact
underreporting as well.

Women are unwilling to report when they know from other women that the perpetrator was not held accountable for their actions. Why go through the pain of recounting, reliving, and retraumatizing when you know your pleas will be ignored?

Women are unable to report when they can be penalized for their reporting. Eastern University does not have an established amnesty policy for victimized students to encourage reporting and seeking help.

Women are unable to report when their experiences are confined to on-campus violence. Violence between two students, on or off campus, is violence against the
student body and should be treated as such.

Under-reporting is not a blameless phenomenon. Eastern’s nonexistent assault reports are not indicative of a lack of violence, they’re proof of a failure to address and support violence against the student body.

Among undergraduate students aged 18-24, 26.4% of women and 6.8% of men experience rape or sexual assault on campus. As a Christian institution we are not exempt from these statistics. Instead, Christian institutions are more susceptible to the silencing forces of purity culture and shame and must work twice as hard to protect students.

Eastern students do not need awareness of sexual violence. We are painfully aware. We need amnesty policies to facilitate reporting. We need support groups for the students affected by violence. We need all violence between two students to be penalized, not just incidents on campus. We need violent offenders to see consequences.

Further, if a football team is to be added to an already athletically saturated school, we need resources. We will need more CCAS staff, space, and funding. We will need more RA funding, better resources to offer students, and policies to support them.

Only then will reporting reflect the experiences of the student body. These policies are not just necessary to improve reporting, they are vital to students’ academic
success, mental health, and access to desperately needed resources. These policies save lives, and reflect a mission which Eastern boasts but has yet to actualize.

We must operate under the knowledge that students are experiencing violence. Eastern University must ask itself, why aren’t students reporting, and what can we
do to change that?

For the National Sexual Assault Support Hotline, call: 800.656.HOPE (4673)

Sources: Eastern University, RAINN

The Benefits of Zoom University: One student reflects on the positive outcomes of hybrid learning.

In the past year, students all over the world began  experiencing an increase in online learning thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. Having graduated high school in the midst of online courses after all of my other years of schooling in person only, this new normal consisting of online learning was definitely, well, a learning curve.

For me, online learning was the best thing that could have happened for the end of my senior year, but college turned out to be a whole different experience.

I personally really enjoyed the hybrid format, with some classes in person and some classes online, as I enjoy aspects of both ways of learning. Either of these options may not be for everyone, some people do not do well in online classes, while others excel, and vice versa. A lot of people close to me cannot stand online learning,
and are therefore taking a semester off of school due to an overwhelming amount of online classes. A few of my other friends took advantage of this completely virtual format at their respective schools, and were able to enjoy their semesters from the comfort of their actual homes, not bothering to live on campus and saving
thousands of dollars in room and board fees.

As a freshman, I have been unable to experience Eastern with only in person classes, but I really do not mind. Again, I quite enjoyed the hybrid format that my schedule was in, and having a relatively even balance of in person and virtual classes.

I feel that asking for all online classes or even a wide variety of hybrid classes would be asking a lot from our professors in the coming years once we’ve reached that lovely post-pandemic world mark, but I do think I would definitely like to see more online classes from Eastern even after Covid-19.

Each learning platform has its individual pros and cons, but for me, online courses outweigh the cons, and many of the cons can be easily fixed.

For many, choosing Eastern was part of a decision and desire to go to a school that had smaller class sizes and more opportunities to build relationships with professors. Online courses definitely limit that interaction, especially as in a zoom meeting with dozens of students it can be difficult to build any type of relationship or friendship with both professors and fellow classmates. This issue can however, be resolved with even a simple email to a professor, asking for a one on one meeting during office hours or even requesting to stay “after class” for anything. Even in online classes, I have found my professors to be more than accommodating and willing to help in the same ways they would help in an in-person classroom setting.

Online classes also help with any type of sickness, not just covid. In high school, I tended to get sick a lot, and as a result, would miss a lot of my classes due to my
absences from being sick. In college, I have yet to miss a day of class without prior notice to my professor. If I am not feeling well, I can easily email my professor to zoom in to class that day, so I don’t have to miss anything or fall behind on my work. Even when I was in quarantine with Covid I did not have to miss any of my classes.

Don’t get me wrong, no online class could really match the same experience of being in a classroom and attending classes in person, but it can be a great option
for a lot of students.

Either way, college is hard, and I am grateful that the pandemic has allowed us to experience different types of class formats. Online classes may not work for some,
but it can certainly help others, and vice versa, it is really about your individual learning style and preferences.

To Infinity and Beyond: How space colonization may be happening sooner than we could have imagined.

The human race has only ever inhabited planet earth. For much of human history, astronomy, outer space, and the universe at large has been an object of wonder and marvel. We have always discovered much of what we know about our world by studying that which is physically beyond our human
capacity to reach.

In the late 1950s however, everything changed. The Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first ever man-made satellite to be placed in earth’s orbit, and thus began what is commonly referred to as the “Space Race”. In December of 1969, Apollo 8 was launched, and the first three humans in the entirety of human history left earth’s orbit.

Our fascination with space has taken on many forms. What was once a spiritual and religious interest has progressively shifted to become a utility of weaponization and competition. Within the last few decades there has been serious talk of colonizing space.

Many astrophysicists, astronomers, and space expansionists have come to the conclusion that space colonization is not as much a far fetched fantasy as it is a necessity. We must find a way to sustain human life outside of earth, or else humanity risks extinction. Of course evacuating earth to save the human species is inevitable within the next billion years as the sun will
eventually make the earth inhabitable, but the idea that perhaps within our life time, human beings will begin living outside of earth’s orbit seems crazy to imagine.

The conflicts that will arise with space colonization are what make its prospects so distant and seemingly unimaginable. The way scientists phrase it now, it seems as though this will be an event that will connect all of humanity together in an effort to strive towards one grand, unifying cause: the continuation and salvation of the human species. The problem with this is how we have dealt with space exploration in the past.

Our exploration efforts have always been framed as a kind of competition. Between the Space Race of the 20th century and the newest addition of the Space Force to the United States military as of 2019, it seems as though we have been preparing for space colonization in a disjointed and competitive way. If the scientists are correct in their assumptions about the necessity of space colonization, the leaders of our global community must find peace and some kind of common ground in order for our endeavors to ever be successful.

The more concerning problem that will arise from space colonization is the problem of our own humanity. What comes into question is the existential reality of human life on earth, the only kind of life we have ever known. Our human condition has been tethered to earth for all of human history, so if and when we begin to colonize planets other than earth, it seems like the very fabric of our humanity will be affected.

I don’t know that space colonization is going to be the great unifying endeavor that scientists are optimistically hoping it will be. I do hope that if and when humans begin to live outside earth’s orbit, some semblance of our humanity will remain intact as we embark on this new, extraterrestrial endeavor.

Sources: Healthline, CNN

The Diary of a Disabled Girl: The struggle of having a semi-invisible disability.

A few months ago, I was sitting in the break room at my job at a skincare clinic, discuss- ing skincare routines with my coworkers. We were debating methods of cleansing the face: do you use a wipe, a liquid cleanser, or a tool? I was on team cleansing tool. I told my coworker that I used a spin brush to buff in my cleanser, and her response confused me: “that’s gross,” she said with a cringe, “those things carry bacteria like crazy”. I sighed and explained to her, “I have a disability, I can’t cleanse my face without it”. She continued to tell me how my method of cleaning my skin was irresponsible and that I needed to throw the brush away. This was one of many examples of ableism in my life. Ableism, the discrimination or dismissal of people with disabilities, is one of the biggest hurdles our society has to face.

These little rebuttals of my way of life have been happening for twenty-two years. Baristas scowl when I ask for a 16-ounce hot drink in a 20-ounce cup. Waiters are confused when I ask for my grilled chicken to be cut into bite-sized pieces in the kitchen. How can an adult not know how to cut her chicken? It’s simple: at the age of three months old, I had a traumatic brain injury. My parents rushed me to the hospital, and at the end of their visit, they looked at the evaluation sheet. The box
marked “cerebral palsy” was checked off. In a matter of minutes, my parents had a disabled child.

The muscles on the right side of my body have not grown since that day in 1999. Every few years, I would head to the Nemours DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del. and Dr. Kirk Dabney would open me up, inject me with muscle relaxers, stretch me out, and send me to therapy.

I’m aware of the financial and emotional burden I was on my parents, family, and friends. Too many times I’ve asked my friends to take a rest while on a walk or asked my parents for
extra physical therapy. “It’s okay,” they say, “you can’t help it”. I see a society that wants to pretend I don’t exist. I’m not seen as being a desirable partner because I’m not athletic, I have bad genes, and my arm and leg look funny. I’ve never seen a
girl who looks like me be portrayed as a love interest on television or in movies.

I’m tired of staying silent and pretending like ableism doesn’t affect me on a daily basis. Ableism exists anywhere and everywhere. From the lack of elevators in buildings, lack of disability awareness and education, the ableist language in our daily vernacular, the ableism in the American healthcare system, and the way our society looks down on disabled people, I’m tired. I shouldn’t have to explain my actions that stray from the societal norm. Disabled people shouldn’t be pitied; we should be celebrated.

The Uses and Abuses of Technology: Technology has its downfalls, but ultimately it improves our daily lives.

Every morning, the first thing I do when I wake up is check my phone. It is part of my daily routine and I feel incomplete if
I don’t. We all have these technological habits that make us feel incomplete if we don’t follow them. But is this necessarily a bad thing?

Both technology and social media have a significant impact on our day to day lives. They influence our actions, even when we don’t realize it. Before I got my phone I wasn’t checking anything daily, I watched the news with my mom but it was
not a habit I needed to follow to continue on with my day.

Technology has the ability to connect us with others even when we’re not physically together, and especially with the pandemic, it has been more difficult to connect with people without technology. I know for me, I did not see my friends for most of 2020, but I was still able to connect with them through technology and maintain my friendships with not much of an impact.

Technology also allows us to communicate with people that we may not have the opportunity to otherwise. Without technology I may not have the chance to meet people who live across the country, and especially not across the world, but thanks to technology I have a group of friends I can talk to that live far beyond my Pennsylvania bubble.

This is not to say that technology does not have its downsides, as it can be very addictive to use social media every day, but when it is used properly, the pros tend to outweigh the cons. Technology is not a good resource to abuse, but it can be a great resource to connect ourselves with others.

The Politicization of a Christian Education: One student reflects on their experience attending a Christian university.

The application of religious education is a wonderful thing to have and should be understood as a privilege. The ability to freely practice religion and study it, willingly, is something
other countries may not have the ability to do. With universities like Cedarville, Liberty, Eastern, Messiah, and so many more, the ability to integrate faith into education is available at most levels. The best part is, if you don’t want to go to a Christian school, you don’t have to!

Since the beginning of our country, there were numerous schools like Harvard that integrated religion into their schools. However, today that is not the case. Most Christian schools carry bias (which is human) in their education and theology. There are countless attempts within our culture to use academia to conform the thoughts and beliefs of students.
Instead of being a place of learning and discourse, colleges have become a place of entitlement and debt.

Specifically, looking at Eastern University, there have been numerous occasions where I have wondered why I go here. I
was looking for a place to grow in my faith without being judged, and I have gotten the opposite of that. There can be unconscious harm in attending a Christian university because there will always be institutional biases set. Moreover, due to the complication of unconscious and conscious biases set by institutional means such as money, culture, and so forth, it is hard to determine the difference between Christian and non-Christian institutions. This issue can be problematic, but there
can be bigger issues within the culture of theological fallacies.

Unlike the numerous examples of colleges having enforced biases towards political beliefs on most campuses, there should be no misconstruing theological ideals. When dealing with any religion, having a firm grip on the most crucial aspects of that religion is key in discipleship and the understanding of its morals. If this line is made grey, there can be various side-effects of broken theology, and these side-effects can often manifest politically- either conservative or liberal understandings of theology emerge. There is violence
that is perpetrated on both sides, either physically or spiritually.

Don’t get me wrong, there will always be differences in opinions, which is warranted! The key difference is that an
institution should not have those biases, for it should be the mediator of learning between students on both sides. Unfortunately, Eastern does not do this well. As a conservative
student, I have felt that I need to hold my tongue in most classes because the majority of students think differently than I do.

Pew Research conducted a survey in 2019 that stated, “59% of Republicans think that college is bad for America.” While I would not go so far as to say that, their opinion is validated because Republicans and most conservative Christians are not
allowed to speak because their grades and image may suffer. That is why there are organizations like ISI, YAF, and Turning Point USA; many conservative students feel disenfranchised by their institutions and peers.

This plays a key role in understanding the complexity of Christian institutions because politics should not influence a school’s agenda on religion. Specifically, Eastern University does a poor job, and possibly a harmful one, at allowing all Christians to come and have an equal discourse that produces a healthy discussion.

Simply trying to enforce an agenda on someone, consciously or unconsciously, can cause serious damage to those who call the institution their home. While other Christian colleges like Messiah or Liberty may perpetuate the same issue from a different side, I feel as if my opinions have been silenced due to the unruly pressure of enforcing a certain agenda. My grades and my growth were stalled because of this, but I did learn more about why I believe what I believe.

When you are in an environment that tries to influence your thinking to a certain side, you find what you actually believe to be important to you. The complications that arise through politicizing theology and trying to take moral supremacy is a problem that won’t soon go away. Unfortunately, my experience with a Christian university hasn’t lived up to the expectations that I thought it would when I chose to come here.

Consider Pet Ethics: It’s the “leashed” we can do.

Owning pets is normalized in many cultures and has been for centuries. Pets are beloved members of our families; we name them, we give them special toys and treats, and we love them as one of our own. The debate on the ethics of owning pets is rarely broached in conversation, but seems to be a worthy  topic of further contemplation.

The argument for the domestication of animals as pets has multiple dimensions. Domesticating animals is ultimately a good thing because the alternatives could be far worse. As pets, animals are treated, cared for, and loved in a way that animals in factory farms, animals testing labs, circuses, and zoos are not. Their quality of life is so improved that it seems wrong to leave them to suffer. The other argument for pet ownership is a recognition of the seemingly symbiotic relationship between pet and owner. The owner cares for and loves the pet, and likewise, the pet show affection and love for its owner in return. Many animal owners have found solace, companionship, and love in their pet. The playing field seems level. We love our pets, and our pets love us.

However, in reality, this can never actually be the case, at least not by definition. The assumption that there exists a symbiotic relationship between pets and their owners is problematic just by nature of the words we use to describe the dynamic itself. One is called owner, the other is not. This implies that no matter the level of seeming equality we think exists between the two members of the relationship, ultimately one, the human, owns the other, the pet. Thus a hierarchy of power is inherent to the relationship.

As much as we try to elevate animals to members of our families by rescuing and naming them, including them in Christmas cards, and loving them fiercely, we do not ever treat them as such simply by virtue of the relationship between the two. We cannot treat them as equals, true equals, because they are not. Not only do we buy and sell them, but we also breed them, and this is all to make the animal dependent on the human.

This is why the animals rights activism group PETA is opposed to pet ownership. The power dynamic that exists within the relationship creates an inherently unfair disadvantage for the pets. Even when we are taking care of our pets, we have control over basically all aspects of their lives. As humans, we decide what food they will eat and when, we choose where they will live, and we dictate commands that they must learn and obey.

What is fundamentally wrong with the assumption that the relationship between pets and their owners is symbiotic is that, by definition, it never can be. As humans, we have created a structure of power and control that the animals are unable to escape.

This all seems rather bleak, but by no means am I telling you to get rid of your pets. I am aware that for the most part, people take good care of their pets, they treat them with dignity and respect, and do truly love them. There is, however, something we as a human species can do to better understand the relationship we have to our pets, and thus make the concept of pet ownership more ethical: we can recognize and admit to the power dynamic that inherently exists instead of trying to pretend that it doesn’t.

At the end of the day, most pet enthusiasts are right; owning pets in a safe, loving, and caring environment is a far more ethical way to treat animals than leaving them at the hands of abusers, large factory farms, or as testing specimens. If we can admit to the existing hierarchy of power that we ourselves have created as we continue to treat our pets with love and care, there is no reason to eradicate the domestication of animals.

Sources: treehugger.com