Stop playing the victim card

By Joshua Patton

Turn on your phone. Go to Facebook, Twitter, or CNN, and you will hear, see, or read about the concept of victim blaming.

In most cases, it is women that are targeted as being at fault when they are raped, sexually assaulted, or worse, told that they should have been more responsible, dressed more appropriately, or perhaps not have been so drunk.

This is truly appalling.

Thankfully, society has begun calling itself out on the concept of excusing the perpetrator in favor of wagging their finger at the victim.

But this is where the line fades to gray. When I hear the words “victim blaming,” I can’t help but think on some level that it is a ploy. Not in cases I’ve mentioned, or towards individuals, but towards society’s own tendency to paint itself as a victim.

The truth is, being a true victim is a terrible experience. No one should ever feel that his fate is at the mercy of another person, but this is where the similarities end.

Today, too many people, the same who claim to oppose victim blaming, still prefer to portray their own lives as the consequence of others’ cruelty or injustice. They claim to be victims.

This is a brilliant scheme, but one that is truly unhealthy, and ultimately self-defeating. The truth is, when people paint themselves as a victim, they give up their own self-determination.

The sad reality is that life is easier to live as a victim.

It’s easier to gather sympathy when you claim that others are keeping you down. It’s easier to give yourself excuses for never trying, but this transforms from a legitimate argument to a way of living.

If you constantly claim that you are a victim, you will eventually develop a persecution complex, and in that, you will lose a piece of your dignity.

It seems ridiculous.

Of course nobody believes that they have absolutely no control over their own destiny. Of course, there is always a will to succeed. But where the pervasive victim mindset becomes truly problematic, is when it shifts to the blaming of others, and today, that takes the form of privilege.

Consider the common concept of “white privilege.” I was born white, but I no longer feel comfortable in my own skin. I’m not alleging reverse racism; that’s not what I’m here to argue.

I am here to argue for the situation of my life.

Put simply, I don’t like when others tear me down, whether it’s to my face, or indirectly. But what I can’t stand is the idea that someone else would assume my life has been easy because I am white. That someone would ever come to my face and tell me that I’ve never experienced discrimination, or bullying, or intolerance because I’m white, and white people have all the privilege in the world.

I bought my first car, a smooth red Firebird, by working a minimum wage job for two summers. I was fired from another well-paying job because I wanted to return to school, and I’ve had the police at my home more times that I care to admit growing up.

However, where the similarities between myself and those that claim to be victims end, is that to me, these aren’t negative things in my life. They’re positive. They weren’t good or pleasant at the time, but they made me who I am, and they have given me the will to move forward.

These instances, however bad, have shaped my life and my being. Without them, I may not have enrolled in college, gained self-esteem, or become the driven person that I am today.

What I want to say to those that are the victims of an unjust society is this: You’re right. Society is unjust, more so to racial minorities, religious minorities, and women.

It is a rigged system. So, fight your fight, and win your battles.

What I ask is, do not let your hatred of an unjust system blind you to those beside you who are struggling with their own battles, and trying to win their own fights, just because they might stand one rung higher than you on the grand social ladder.

Don’t blame your fellow victims.

Contact Joshua Patton at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

New Title IX policy sparks firestorm

By Victoria Lavelle

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos foolishly rolled back Title IX guidelines for campus sexual assault, effectively undermining the long-standing protections for young female college students while sweeping allegations of rape and sexual misconduct under the carpet.

In a shocking announcement last month, DeVos revealed plans to review the 2011 Obama-era Title IX policy that spells out a school’s responsibility for handling alleged reports of sexual misconduct. She called the Obama administration policy “a failed system that overtly pushes academic institutions to overreach and doesn’t go far enough to protect those accused” of sexual wrongdoing.

However, DeVos’ recommendation that schools need to do more to protect rapists and sexual predators is un-fathomable and reckless.

new title tori

Alarming statistics in three separate surveys provided by the Rape Abuse National Network, the Washington Post-Kaiser Foundation, and the Association of American Universities (AAU) indicate 20 percent of young female college students are the victims of sexual improprieties, and 23 percent are at risk.

The data collected from the surveys are concrete evidence that the government’s decision to retract the expansion of Title IX protections is a disregard to the well-being of female college students. Turning back the wheel of justice on campus sexual enforcement is equivalent to doing nothing at all, and suggesting that accused rapists and sexual predators need more protections is absurd.

Title IX is a federal law established in 1972 that prohibits sex and gender discrimination in schools that receive federal funding. Former President Barack Obama expanded the law to protect victims of sexual assault by providing victims and survivors the assurance of a safe campus environment after coming forward with complaints. The expansion called “The Dear Colleague Letter” held campuses in violation of the order accountable by withholding federal funding potentially bringing many Ivy League universities to their knees financially.

On Sept. 22, the Department of Education (DOE) officially nullified Obama’s Title IX policy releasing a temporary outline of recommendations for how schools should respond to reports of sexual violence moving forward. Furthermore, it allows colleges to adopt their own procedures even though DeVos admitted school administrators aren’t experts in lawmaking or law enforcement.

“The notion that a school must diminish due process rights to better serve the victim only creates more victims,” DeVos told an invite-only audience at George Mason University. “A better way means we shouldn’t demand anyone to be something they are not. Students, families, and school administrators are generally not lawyers and they’re not judges. We shouldn’t force people to become something they are not just in order for justice to be served, and we need to be more precise in the definition of sexual misconduct.”

The announcement was immediately met with scrutiny by advocates for women’s rights, victims of sexual assault, and survivors who support the previous Title IX policy. Twenty-nine U.S. senators delivered an open letter to the DOE opposing DeVos’ actions and calling her decision “a step in the wrong direction,” considering the nation’s epidemic of campus sexual violence.

Supporters of DeVos’ Title IX changes argue that the previous mandate caused the DOE to place unfair pressure from the federal government upon colleges and universities. They believe those actions from the federal government tilt the scale of campus justice regarding sexual assault cases in the favor of victims by imposing on the rights of the accused.

In fact, a group of professors at Harvard Law School studied the previous policy expansion in 2015 and concluded that the ordinance stripped away “the fair and due process” guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution by restricting the ability for those accused to share a detailed account of their version of the story.

During the new policy roll out, DeVos explained the new guidelines are open for public scrutiny and input, so once again Harvard Law School announced they are starting to review the new federal Title IX guidelines.

Meanwhile, more politicians are weighing in.

“Title IX protections play an important role to ensure the safety of students on college campuses,” Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-PA) expressed in an official statement via email. “As a prosecutor, I saw firsthand the emotional devastation that visits victims of sexual assault. A system must enable victims to establish control over their path to justice and recovery. As importantly, a system must accord appropriate due process to the victim and the accused. It is not always an easy balance to find. Any changes to Title IX guidance should improve – not roll back – efforts to end sexual violence and clarify the obligations of schools. Sexual assault shatters the lives, so there’s more we can do to prevent it on college campuses. I urge Secretary DeVos to keep the victims of sexual assault foremost in her mind as this process unfolds.”

Meehan is right to be concerned.

The Criminal Justice Systems Statistics annual report from 2016 reflects the vast majority of sexual misconduct occurrences go unreported and unpunished. The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) annual report found 70 percent of victims who are attacked do not come forward out of mistrust for authorities and fear of shame, blame, and ridicule.

The organization immediately responded to DeVos’ Title IX changes on their website: “We are deeply disappointed in the decision to rescind existing policies on campus sexual violence, as announced today.”

Critics say DeVos Title IX policy provides less clarity for campus authorities to handle accusations of sexual assault in a serious nature, and offers nothing to combat the rising number of sexual crimes reported at colleges and universities.

DeVos’ decision to rescind student protections nationwide set an unsettling tone among the nations collegiate, especially to the one in five female victims and survivors of sexual predators. Her actions are solid proof that she’s clearly more concerned about dissolving protections, rather than shielding victims from sexual assault.

Kourtney Gould, a mathematics and natural science major at DCCC, says the Trump administration needs to stop trying to fix things that aren’t broken.

“For heaven’s sake, wasn’t Trump recorded on a hot microphone bragging about groping women,” asked Gould, recollecting the Access Hollywood tape released in June 2016. “His lewd comments were [an admission of] sexual assault, so it raises serious questions about the motivation behind the Education Department’s sudden changes to our Title IX protections.”

Candice Jackson, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Operations of the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights, demonstrated just how unfit and clueless the agency is regarding campus sexual violence. During a N.Y. Times interview, Jackson carelessly insinuated that 90 percent of all college sexual assault accusations are made by drunk or disgruntled ex-girlfriends who got dumped, then six months later come forward to report a crime.

How someone with her level of ignorance finds a way into a federal government agency is beyond comprehension, and it should rattle every American to the core. Even though Jackson later apologized for her flippant remarks, it still leaves little doubt as to why the U.S. Commissions on Civil Rights has launched a two-year investigation into practices at Trump’s Department of Education.

The investigation’s findings will be reported directly to Congress for review in a time when our president is already facing an unprecedented number of probes.

In short, the new guidelines do little to protect a victim’s right to be treated fairly on a college campus after reporting a sexual assault. The accused are now permitted to remain actively enrolled in college, and campus authorities can drag their feet resolving matters until after the accused have graduated.

This puts victims into an uncomfortable and vulnerable postion, likely aimed to discourage them from coming forward to start. The result may be fewer sexual assault complaints annually, but it’s hardly a solution to combat this epidemic that plagues our nations college youth.

Additionally, it permits colleges to return to the days of prioritizing and preserving a college’s reputation over the students victimized by sexual assault.

Though legislation prevention is not a blanket solution to campus sexual violence, it was a step in the right direction to help reduce the staggering number of students who fall prey to rape and non-consensual sexual advancements each year.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration pushes forward on what appears to be a relentless mission to dismantle the equal rights legacy of Obama, without any goal to lower sexual misconduct on college campuses.

In America, we elect our presidents with the hope they will do their best to protect us and represent the very best in us. Trump has perpetuated some of the most disrespectful and disgraceful behaviors towards women, including publicly shaming alleged victims of his own sexual misconduct.

In normal times we would be appalled and outraged, yet we’ve become numb and willing to compromise our American values because, in the Trump-era, instability and oppression have become the status quo.

Contact Victoria Lavelle at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Ashamed and apologetic

By Shannon Reardon

When I was younger my parents told me to stand up for what I believed in, to stand up for what’s right.

My convictions have gotten me into verbal altercations, lost me a few friends, and forced me to stand in front of an auditorium of people and tell them that they were wrong.

My convictions most recently have had me literally, and figuratively standing up for something I disagreed with a year ago.

eagles

As an avid football fan and someone who cries during the national anthem, I couldn’t believe my eyes when former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made the decision to kneel for the duration of the song. I found it disgraceful and disrespectful.

I was uncomfortable.

Football season is the time of year when I get to watch grown men hit each other while I verbally berate my friends about how much better my team is than theirs. I don’t want to think about real life issues, especially while I’m watching the game.

Then I noticed Eagles’ safety Malcom Jenkins raising his fist during the national anthem. I noticed other players taking a knee.

My argument during last year’s football season consisted of two points: why couldn’t players raise awareness off the field, and how could they dishonor their country without a second thought?

These two points quickly dissolved when I looked into the programs and the steps that players take to better their communities and the communities of the cities that they play in. The charity events and work that many of the players do go unnoticed.

The second point is harder and less concrete to prove, but it stems from the disrespect that people of color are subjected to daily. We can all try and turn a blind eye because it’s a topic that this nation still deems uncomfortable, but that doesn’t fix the problem.

In the off-season from football, I began watching videos that made me sick to my stomach. I saw a chapter of Black Lives Matter peacefully protesting at a rally while being spit on, cursed at, and berated with “All Lives Matter” chants.

So why can’t these football players use the national platform they’re given every Sunday?

Because the topic makes people uncomfortable. The argument has become one about “how players are disrespecting our flag and military,” instead of seeing the reality, which is a quiet protest of men who feel the sting of centuries of inequality.

On Oct. 7, I attended the Rock Allegiance music festival at the BB&T Pavillon in Camden, NJ. Hard rock band, Five Finger Death Punch, took the stage, and halfway through their set the singer, Ivan Moody, paused their set to talk about the kneeling controversy.

“If you don’t like our flag, I’ll help you pack,” were the words printed on Moody’s shirt, which prompted a monologue where the frontman talked about being from a military family and his disdain for the kneeling movement.

As the singer finished telling cheering fans how angry he was that Americans were disrespecting their flag, I sat down.

I sat down in the dirt patch that were the lawn seats. I sat down among beer cans and cigarette butts; I couldn’t believe Moody would take time out of his set to speak about this topic. It wasn’t the time, nor the place.

Or was it?

Just as it is every bit the right of players in the NFL to take a knee during the national anthem, or the team owners to come down and link arms with their players in solidarity, it is the right of this man to speak his peace.

Sitting in the dirt gave me a new perspective.

Kaepernick, who started the conversation, doesn’t have a job anymore. He sacrificed his career and his image, because he felt enough is enough.

America, it’s time to wake up.

All men (and women) are not created equal in this country. What are we going to do to fix it?

Contact Shannon Reardon at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

 

Devil’s Den breaks one’s tradition with a plate of nachos

By Theresa Rothmiller

Nachos

If you’re free Tuesday evenings, love great service, nachos, and imperial beers, then Devil’s Den is the place to visit.

On Sept. 5, approximately 5 p.m., I approach the 1100 block of South Federal St. in Philadelphia, Pa. As I reach my destination, I notice their outside seating area. Above the tables is a reddish-orange sign.

The sign features Satan sitting on a barrel, drinking a beer, with the words “Devil’s Den,” beneath him.

Upon entering, the hostess immediately greeted me with a warm welcome.

“Hi, table for two today?,” asked Toni. “Do you prefer to sit at a high-top, the dining room area, or the bar?”

After choosing a high-top for two (for myself and a friend), we follow Toni to the table and begin looking at the menus.

The imperial draft list instantly grabbed my attention. Meanwhile, our server arrives with two glasses of water.

Smiling ear-to-ear, waitress Brianna Cheli informs us it was currently happy hour. She explains that all beers are half-off between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesdays. No more than a minute after, Cheli suggested we order appetizers.

“My favorites are our nachos and empanadas,” said Cheli. “Are you still undecided with drinks?”

We responded yes, but decided on chicken nachos, with a side of ranch, as an appetizer.

As a person with a great dislike for pico de gallo, I have no clue as to why I didn’t ask to remove the pico. It’s the tomatoes themselves, because of its texture and taste, but the tomatoes in this pico were sweet and firm, instead of soft and bland.

Along with pico, the nachos were smothered in black beans, jack cheese, sour cream, and grilled chicken.

The first bite was like Christmas morning.

Instantly, I began to dance in my seat. The blend of tomato juice, sour cream, beans and chicken, felt like an explosion of happiness in my mouth.

As the juices from each ingredient ran down my fingers, I slurped every drop as if it was my last taste on earth.They were absolutely amazing.

Every chip satisfied my tastebuds like the very first bite. We devour the appetizer while enjoying a 2SP Pollen Nation draft, an imperial with an ABV of 10.5 percent, which had the bitterness of an IPA that I love!

Later, in the midst of great conversation, we received bad news. A weather alert notifies us of an upcoming thunderstorm. I became disappointed because it forced us to leave early. I would’ve loved to try their salmon BLT.

At approximately 6 p.m., I alerted the waitress giving the signal for “check please.” She returns within five minutes and I explained our need to hurry. Before leaving, we thanked the staff for their wonderful hospitality. Cheli thanked us, then suggested we come back for quizzomania next week.

Quizzomania takes place every tuesday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., according to Cheli. It sounded exciting so I am definitely looking forward to attending.

The nachos alone would ensure my return. Yet, having great service could persuade me to become a regular customer. I rate the food and service 4 out of 5 stars.

Contact Theresa Rothmiller at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Saving money at the expense of losing sanity

By Shannon Reardon

living w: parents

In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that 15 percent of Millennials aged 25 to 35 years old are still living with their parents.

I am one of these Millennials.

The second week of September of this year would have marked two years of living out of the house, but I had to make the hard choice of moving back home to save money for a new adventure.

I moved out of my parents’ house originally when I was 20 years old after the arguments about tattoos, piercings, and other lifestyle choices became too overwhelming.

I moved into an apartment with my best friend. With the exception of a few larger fights that we had, I loved it.

But in October of 2015, I became friends with some members of a band from Buffalo, New York, that I had been listening to since 2011.

Our friendships started on Facebook and Snapchat the first few months, in addition to supporting their shows whenever they would tour through the Philadelphia area.

In March, I was invited up to Buffalo to attend the baby shower for my best friend in the band.

The six-hour drive turned into an eight-hour drive, thanks to a blizzard I drove through that left the highways covered.

I couldn’t imagine how anyone could live driving through snow like that all the time.

But then I spent a weekend up there with my friends tasting amazing food, and experiencing the coldest temperatures ever.

It wasn’t until the afternoon I had to come back home that I realized my love for a city I had only just met, and I cried. I cried from the moment I woke up till I was about an hour away from Buffalo.

In June I went back again; my friends’ baby had been born and the temperatures weren’t in the low twenties.

I also had a tour at one of the local universities, Buffalo State.

Deciding that I was going to move was the easy part; telling my friends and family in the Philadelphia area was hard, and getting a plan together was even harder: it meant having to move back in with my parents to save money.

Since moving out of the house, the relationship I had with my parents had stabilized because they were no longer there for the day to day operations of my life.

That changed when I came home.

I was back in their home, and had to abide by their rules once again, including no additional tattoos and piercings.

It also meant that I’d have to tell them where I am every few hours so they don’t have to worry about me. If I go out with friends after work, they need to know which friends I’m with and what bar we have gone to.

When I moved back in I lost the ability to have a bad day.

When I come into the house I am expected to be in a personable mood and actively participate in family discussions.

If I try to remove myself for the night, they will follow me into my room and ask what’s wrong – no matter how frequently I assure them I do not want to talk about whatever the issue is.

In the two years I lived out of the house, I adopted two pets: a cat and a chinchilla.

My cat had to stay with my roommate temporarily due to my stepdad’s allergies, but chinchillas are hypoallergenic, so she came with me.

Bringing the chinchilla to my parents’ house meant I lost all privacy in my room, since they go in to see her twice a day.

But they are helping me save money by charging me about half of what my apartment’s rent was, as well as helping me look for a new car.

It’s been about three months since I moved back in with my parents, and it hasn’t been easy. I feel like I lost all freedom.

My mom is afraid to “upset” me because of my stress disorder when she talks to me, and my stepdad tells me he doesn’t see the financial benefit of moving to upstate New York.

“Soon you’ll be living in Buffalo,” is what all my friends tell me, and it’s the motto that is going to get me through the time before my move.

Soon I will have my freedom back. Soon I will not be part of the 15 percent.

Contact Shannon Reardon at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu