Cell Phone addiction plagues today’s collegiate

By Victoria Lavelle

Smartphones and earbuds are as trendy as the sneakers and book bags that adorn students streaming in across campus parking lots and walkways, yet today’s morning college goers are more an accessory to their mobile device than vice-versa. 

Jamming out to a variety of beats from iTunes, while tapping into Snapchat or Facebook might spruce up the dreaded morning stroll to class, however, plugging into your phone for the routine walk down the halls doesn’t exactly put the bounce in your strut as one might think. 

The odds of a college student being struck by oncoming traffic increases while listening to music with earbuds or chatting away on their phone hasn’t helped curb the reckless behavior by the majority of young adults.

A recent study on college students found that the mere presence of a cellular device is enough to impair a student’s sense of awareness about their surroundings, according to research published in Elsevier’s Science Direct Journal of Computers on Human Behavior.

The 2018 study also found that smartphones have the tendency to divert attention and memory, even when they are tucked away or silenced. 

Moreover, distracted walking incidents are on the rise and every college student with a cellphone is at risk. An estimate 6,000 pedestrians were mowed down and killed by motor vehicles in 2018, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association report.

Yet, the grim reality that the number of cell phone-related pedestrian injuries has surpassed texting-while-driving ones hasn’t deterred many young adults from doing so anyway. 

Research based from an online survey of 164 college students, probed 24 cell phone activities and discovered that time spent on 11 of those activities differed significantly across the sexes.

The 2018 study found that women college students spend an average of 10 hours a day on their cell phones, while men students spend nearly eight hours, according to researchers at Baylor University. 

Additionally, the study reflects that roughly 60 percent of young adults admit they may be addicted to their cellphones, while others suggest that they grow anxious or frustrated when it is not within reach, according to the findings published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. 

Let’s face it, there’s nothing more annoying than a “phone-zombie” shuffling through the college parking lot, face glued to their screen, while you sit waiting impatiently in your car to turn into a parking spot.

There comes a point when you just want to roll down your window and scream, “Get off your phone you imbecile!” 

The thing is, you’ve probably been a phone-zombie yourself. Perhaps you’ll think twice after learning that phone zombies are easy prey for pickpockets and thieves, according to Campus Safety magazine.

When your mind is preoccupied with the internet or a phone conversation, there is little room to absorb what’s transpiring around you and others in the vicinity.

It’s time to face reality. As sweet as it might be that grandma now knows how to Facetime, it’s time to wake up and admit that the cell phone era is shaping more than just our conversations.

The smartphone generation is invading our culture in ways that may be unhealthy for us, mentally, and dangerous for our physical wellbeing.    

Though our cell phone habits might ultimately keep us amused and connected, they aren’t worth sacrificing the hefty cost of personal safety and learning skills in college.  

Next time you hear the annoying sound coming from one of those loud, vibrating cars riding through the student parking lot with the bass all beefed-up, don’t roll your eyes at the driver,because at least he’s already cut the cord.


State’s new ID cards coming in March

by Victoria Lavelle

Victoria Lavelle - Pennsylvania REAL ID Photo3

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will begin issuing Real ID’s in March. Image courtesy of PennDOT

For college students across Pennsylvania, the countdown has begun on current driver licenses as they are all set to expire in a little over a year as the state introduces new, federally compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses beginning next month.

Beginning in October 2020, Pennsylvanians will be required to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, photo ID card, or another form of federally-acceptable identification (such as a valid passport or military ID) when they board a domestic commercial flight or enter a federal building or military installation that requires ID.

Getting a REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents, but they will be available in March 2019 to Pennsylvanians who want them.

The Real ID Law passed in 2005 under President George W. Bush to keep America safer from terrorism by making it harder to obtain an identification card.

After Sept. 11, 2001, the 9/11 Commission found considerable differences regarding the set of requirements each state had set for residents to obtain an official government issued ID.

To correct the matter, the federal government issued standard guidelines for all 50 states, including the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, to ensure consistency across the nation.

To upgrade a Pennsylvania ID card or driver’s license to an official REAL ID heading into 2020 requires that individuals provide the following:

• A valid birth certificate,

• A Social Security Card (non-laminated),

• Proof of all legal name changes (marriage certificate or court order issued by your county’s family court),

• Two forms of proof of address (utility bill & bank statements) with scan capability.

A new license will cost $60.50 — in comparison to the previous PennDOT renewal fee of $30.50 — as it’s reported to include  a one-time REAL ID fee of $30.50.

Additionally, REAL IDs are set to last four years,  plus  any remaining time on your previous license. After the one-time initial $30 upgrade fee, the price of renewal every four years will drop back to the usual $30.50.

States that don’t comply will forfeit their right to have their ID cards recognized as Federal ID’s which means that those drivers licenses will not be recognized by Homeland Security, preventing folks from boarding airplanes, entering military facilities, or visiting Federal Buildings requiring ID. REAL ID modern technology includes facial recognition software utilizing each DMV photo to ensure credibility, the sharing of criminal and driving records with all 50 states, and gold star branding that identifies all ID holders as American citizens, according to Homeland Security.

To date, some states have continued issuing legal ID’s to non-American citizens as long as applicants have a birth certificate and proof of address. Someone with a previously issued state ID card or driver’s license can still enjoy the driving benefits, but won’t be permitted to board an airplane.

The reason Pennsylvania is up against a deadline is that the General Assembly pushed back by passing a law in 2011 that prohibited Pennsylvania from complying with the federal standard.

The language of the approved bill hinted at what may have been an objection with the federal law by allowing the governor or attorney general to challenge the constitutionality or legality of the Real ID Act.

This spring, PennDOT plans to raise awareness about the REAL ID through social media and marketing campaigns, as well as by sending mailers to driver’s license holders.

“We’re still on track to begin issuing in March,” said Kurt Myers, deputy secretary for driver and vehicle services at PennDOT, in an official email.  “There are a lot of moving parts, but I feel comfortable that things will be in place by March.”

PennDOT began prequalifying Pennsylvanians for Real ID’s last September. State residents may bring their REAL ID required documents into any PennDOT driver license center for pre-verification and file storage.

Once documents are filed at the department and REAL IDs are available in March, customers can apply online, pay the one-time fee, and their REAL ID product will be mailed to them within 7-10 days; or they can visit one of up to 13 REAL ID centers and receive their REAL ID product over the counter at the time of service.

There’s a slight bonus for some residents  who received their first PA driver’s license or ID card after September 2003 because the agency may already have documents on file.

PennDOT estimates roughly 3.5 million Pennsylvanians have existing documents on file, yet they encourage everyone to do an online check to verify document validity. Once verification is complete, residents can fill out the online PennDOT form to ensure their records are marked “verified status” to enjoy the fortune of applying for and receiving their REAL ID via U.S. postal mail.

Those without verified documents will have to take their documents to a driver’s license center in person. PennDOT suggests that residents with valid passports wait a few months before getting a Real ID so those without passports can be first in line.

Pennsylvanians can call PennDOT at 717-412-5300 or check the PennDOT website starting in March to verify if the department has documents stored on file.

An official statement released by PennDOT reads: “Our staff manually checks customers’ records document by document, which has created a backlog in processing the thousands of applications the department has received.

The department is applicants to be patient.” For more info visit http://www.dmv.pa.gov/REALID/Pages/ default.aspx

Contact Victoria Lavelle at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

The Department of Homeland Security provides this diagram to help address false rumors regarding new REAL ID’s. Graphic courtesy of PennDOT

Victoria Lavelle - Pennsylvania REAL ID Photo1REAL ID - Get Your Papers Ready - Twitter


Pennsylvania’s tuition-free college proposal meets resistance

by Victoria Lavelle


College students rally for debt-free college. Photo by Clem Murray/TN

Pennsylvania’s young adults continue shouldering most of the expense while accumulating insurmountable debt to attend community colleges and public universities, so state legislators universities, so state legislators started exploring new ways to make college more affordable statewide in 2018.

Pennsylvania State Sen. Vincent J. Hughes, (D-Philadelphia) and Pennsylvania State Rep. James Roebuck, (D-Philadelphia) introduced bills to the state’s General Assembly in Harrisburg last June — while leaders in Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education voted in July to increase tuition for in-state students by 3 percent.

Dubbed the “Pennsylvania Promise,” Hughes and Roebucks the proposed legislation’s sets to expand access and affordability to area community colleges and state-owned and state-related universities by reducing student debt and assisting low and middle-income families with paying for higher education.

Pointing to research estimating 63 percent of new job opportunities in the state will require a college education by the year 2020, Hughes emphasizes that currently less than 38 percent of Pennsylvanians are eligible applicants with the qualified education to fill those jobs.

“There is a pressing need for reinvestment in postsecondary education and job-skill training a large body of economic research reflects that slacking educational attainment translates to lower wages and incomes for individuals and slower economic growth for regions,” Hughes states on his official website. “The Pennsylvania Promise has the potential to transform people’s lives, enrich entire communities and strengthen the state’s foundation bustling with productivity, opportunity, with a prosperous economy. The nations race for raising incomes and increasing opportunity hinges critically on access to post-secondary education and training. If Pennsylvania does not expand access to higher education to more of its citizens, the Commonwealth’s economy will suffer and living standards will fall behind growth elsewhere.”

According to college rankings by U.S. News and World Report, Pennsylvania ranks 47th on post-graduation debt, 48th for costly tuition and fees, and dead last with a 50th ranking for higher education. Currently, per capita funding for higher education in Pennsylvania ranks 47th in the nation.

The increase in state spending required under the Pennsylvania Promise Bill would raise Pennsylvania’s rank to 36th, according to data collected by the Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center in June 2017.

The Pennsylvania Plan aims to cover two years of college tuition and fees for recent high school graduates and adults seeking in-demand skills and industry-recognized credentials by attending one of the state’s 14 community colleges.

Furthermore, it would also cover four years of tuition and fees at a state-owned or state-related university for students with a family income of $110,000 or less per year. Students whose family income is $48,000 or less would also be eligible for assistance with costs associated with student housing.

Based on studies conducted by the Keystone Research Center and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, the proposed plan would be administered by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), according to a sponsorship memo drafted by the minority chair of the state House Education Committee, James Roebuck (D-Philadelphia).

With a modest and smart investment, the Keystone Research Center predicts that Pennsylvania can build a more prosperous future for its citizens and reinvigorate the American Dream in every corner of the state.

On the flip side, there are reasons for concern regarding tuition-free college according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSC), including poor academic track record of community college attendees, the possible bleak economic growth implications from financing so-called free college, and also issues stemming around fairness.

That, in turn, contributes to the fact that more than a third of students who start college still haven’t earned degrees after six years, the NSC reports, often piling up loan debt with no payoff.

Recent data reflects that 47 percent of community college enrollees drop out of school, while only 27 percent graduated, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.

“The idea of tuition-free college in Pennsylvania sounds like a noble cause, yet there are also a few realities to consider,” DCCC communication of arts major Jerome Jenkins said. “The undeniable truth is that nothing in life is really free. Though a select group of folks may benefit from tuitionfree college, it’s important to remember that someone, somewhere else will be footing the bill in order to provide free college opportunities.”

As of January 2019, the Pennsylvania Promise bill currently has 23 cosponsors that consists of 22 Democrats and one Republican, Rep. Thomas Murt, (R-Hatboro), and it is presently awaiting consideration in the House Education Committee.

Contact Victoria Lavelle at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

College at a discount?

DCCC student hula hoops in Old Hollywood Glam Cirque

By Alexis Marshall


Autumn Cornell, a studio arts major at DCCC, poses in vaudeville costume back stage at Tellus360, following her solo performance for The Circus School of Lancaster showcase. Photo by Alexis Marshall

The backstage area of Tellus360 bar is buzzing as the performers prepare. Wherever you look, people are putting on makeup or fixing their costumes.

A performer sits on the steps to the stage, strapping stilts to her legs. Another complains to her friend about leaving a prop back in her car.

Among the waiting performers is Autumn Cornell, a 25-year-old DCCC studio arts major dressed in a red leotard, black chiffon skirt and black tights; a bowler hat sits upon her head.

“Kind of going for a vaudeville look,” Cornell says, referring to a popular type of entertainment in the early 20th Century.

Cornell was one of several performers participating in the Old Hollywood Glam Cirque Variety Show at the Circus School of Lancaster and Tellus 360 Jan. 22.

Cornell stands next to her props, a peacock feather fan, a black and white pointed umbrella, and a set of four blue hula hoops. She shares that she will be in two performances this evening. One group performance, and one solo act.

“I’m really excited,” she says. “The show is about to begin!” Cornell’s opening act was joined by two performers, Pixie Flowess and Sheena, both 28-year-old Lancaster locals, who performed acrobatics featuring umbrellas set to the “Moulin Rouge” version of “Roxanne.” Cornell’s solo performance was a hula-hoop acrobatic dance, set to a remix of Disney Aladdin’s song “Never Had a Friend Like Me.”

The hulahoop performance featured tricks where she spun the hoops around her wrists, ankles, thighs and around the outside of her body. She steadily added more and more hoops as her performance continued.

“I was surprised,” said Laura Mae, a co-owner of MaeJean Vintage, an antique and vintage jewelry shop in Lancaster. “It was very entertaining.”

The Ladybirds, a dance group from York, Pa, performed three acts. Tina Watkins, 27, performed partner burlesqueacrobatics with Sheena. Anika Alegra, 28, also performed a burlesque act featuring a hula hoop.

“Look at them go,” said Dahlia Jean, a business partner to Laura Mae. “These girls are lovely.”

The Master of Ceremonies was Evan Young, a street performer with 15 years of experience in the field of circus acts.

Between each act, Young shared an old Hollywood glam fun-fact, while performing a trick. One trick involved standing on a balance board while transitioning two hula-hoops across his body in opposite directions, simultaneously.

“Fun fact: Joseph Stalin tried to have John Wayne assassinated because Wayne was openly against communism,” Young said, while balancing a skateboard on his forehead.

The final performance of the evening was a contortion and aerial hoop act, performed by Kiki Konfelli a 38-year-old former gymnast from Maine. She has performed since her childhood.

The night ended with an open floor dance party.

Guests, who were encouraged to come in era-appropriate clothing, were enticed to dance to vaudeville style music.

“We love everything vintage, so this is fantastic,” said Amanda Jean, Dahlia Jean’s sister and co-owner of MaeJean Vintage.

The Circus School of Lancaster will be hosting three more showcases over the course of the next three months. The showcases will be the fourth Tuesday of every month and will feature a different theme each time.

Contact Alexis Marshall at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu