Fuck Public Transportation
Real Talk |  Source: N. Leeper, Shutterstock

Fuck Public Transportation

Specifically US public transportation.

Yeah, I said it: "Fuck public transportation."

And I know what you're thinking: wow, he's a privileged little bastard who must be grossed out by public buses. Not everyone can afford fancy-ass, overpriced Ubers.

And you are right in some ways. I am privileged for having the opportunity to state such a claim. However, I am not saying, "fuck public transportation" because it is gross or because I do not want to interact with people.

I scream, "FUCK PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION!" because we are doing it so wrong in the US.

Right now, I am in the Netherlands for a study abroad on international environmental policy, and I am seeing the wonders of what public transportation can do.

Buses, metros and trams have comfortable, clean, community seating. Getting on and off is as easy as the tap of a card, and the schedule is efficient and effective. The Dutch care about their public transportation, and unlike the US, do not let its systems deteriorate due to differences in perceptions of socioeconomic opportunities.

People smile when they get on the bus. Do you know how many people smile when they get on the bus in the US? No one. No one smiles because everyone is pissed. No one is head-over-heels to be on the bus in the US.

Yet, in the Netherlands, people are happy on the bus. Regional rail is also lovely and relegated by the touch of the card. Yep, no conductor or passive-aggressive ticketer. Everything is electronic, fast and clean. And when I say clean, I do not just mean physically, I mean environmentally as well.

Doors do not open when not needed. Transportation is often powered by solar panels or wind energy. Best of all, bikes are used a shit-load.

And when I say a shit-load, I mean as in there are more bikes than cars. I mean for every car, there are ten bikes. I mean that I've almost gotten hit by passionate bikers, like, seventeen times. I mean that there are actual bi-level bicycle parking garages. I mean that there are motherfucking bike lanes.

They are so beautiful. The lanes are thin and sleek. Perfect for quick, environmentally friendly transportation. Such lanes are largely missing from the streets of the US.

Because God forbid we bike or walk. Oh, how we agonize movement. We hate unscheduled exercise. It's true. It's just our mindset. Like, I consider crying if I have to walk to the freezer to get ice cream while watching Netflix.

We fight over parking spots for our gas guzzlers or complain about our UberPool rides on the way to the gym. Due to this deep, deeply ingrained cultural fear of movement, we don't petition and organize to ask for bike lanes. We don't immediately demand clean transportation. We don't ride bikes.

Rather, in the US, those who can afford to be are scared or too boujee to use public transportation, don't want to get "germs" and don't want to interact with people of a different "socioeconomic class".

Yes, sometimes public transportation can be dirty, or it can be scary, but that filth and fear is only generated by our lack of care towards those systems. We elect representatives who do not want to immediately better those transportation networks, and who also do not care enough about the efficiency and sustainability of such systems. Those who can self-segregate themselves from "others" do so, and as a whole, we, the citizens of the US, do not see a collective unity in community and environmental consciousness.

So instead, we Uber and we Lyft. We use cars and pollute our already disgusting cities.

And don't give me that excuse that, in the city, Uber and Lyft are quicker. The level of traffic in most American cities is so congested that if it were a human with a cold, there would be snot covering that person's entire face and body.

We just have to want it, and we have to want it collectively.

I don't know if the unified desire for environmental protection and sustainable change in the Netherlands is due to its small size and historical relationship to water as a largely below sea-level nation, compared to the massive, above sea-level bungle of states that is the US; however, we need to find our unity in being green.

If we do not, we'll kill our home.

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Real Talk |  Source: youtube.com

Trump v. Hillary: What Does That Mean For Us?

Trillary Hump would not be trill.

With Sanders' delegate count still trailing, it looks like November will pan out to be a showdown between Trump and Hillary.

So what does this mean for Bernie Sanders' supporters? What does this mean for college students, many of whom feel the prospect of Trump or Hillary is a compounded nightmare in itself ( i.e. this picture)?

Regardless of your views, you have to admit that's pretty terrifying...

When I asked several students (admittedly, mostly liberal) about the implications of a Trump v. Clinton battle sans Sanders, most immediately jumped to discussing a Trump victory.

"Honestly, two things could pan out if Trump wins: either the US is going to go through a VERY rough four years with a crazy and unpredictable President, in which case not only college students, but everyone, will be in trouble, or Trump could actually make a decent President."

A pretty stark contrast. One student flat out said "I refuse to acknowledge Trump."

Harsh words, but also reasonable considering last year even The Huffington Post said they would only be covering Trump as entertainment news, not political: "Our reason is simple: Trump's campaign is a sideshow. We won't take the bait."

Just goes to show how much can happen in a short time! Maybe Sanders still has a chance after all.

Source: imgur.com

Maybe... but not likely. Interestingly, most of the students I interviewed actually supported Hillary over Sanders, differing from the youth norm in this campaign.

"First of all, I love Hillary. People often criticize her but fail to understand many of the weaknesses of Bernie Sanders. He makes empty promises that are neither practical nor possible to deliver... Hillary has more experience and is the best of the options available."

Another student admitted that Clinton's biggest challenge will be "getting college students to show up and vote for her... an area where she has struggled in both this primary and in 2008 against Obama."

The enthusiasm for Sanders has mirrored the youth vote that surged for Obama in 2008, causing some to even request his re-election.

"I voted for Sanders in the primary, and would only vote for Hillary because I don't even want to imagine having Trump as President. Honestly, can we just have Obama for a third term?"

Source: imgflip.com

Even if it were constitutional for Obama to run again, he said he wouldn't do it. Can't say I blame the guy.

Will not having an option deter many youth from voting? We consistently have the lowest turnout as a demographic, but this election could be determined by the youth vote - if we decide to show up.

"If students - a demographic that typically supports Democrats - fail to vote in the elections, they will be helping Trump. The stakes are incredibly high, even if Sanders is not in the race."

Keep in mind, this is more than just a vote for the next president. As stated by one student at Sacramento City College, "There's a lot of big issues that are going to be on the ballot, and if you don't vote because you don't like the candidates, then you're leaving a lot of power on the table."

Whether you're a diehard Trump or Hillary fan, or plan to vote for "the lesser of two evils," our vote matters.

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Real Talk |  Source: L. Smith, Shutterstock

We Are Drowning In Plastic

Not that anyone is surprised... as usual.

We all know that plastic is a big problem; it doesn't break down, it just hangs out in oceans, landfills, wherever it can rest its ugly synthetic head.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very guilty of using plastic products, and it's nearly unavoidable. However, it's something that's been an issue for a long time. Especially now, with a new global study that looked at how much of this stuff is sitting on our earth.

In the study published in Science Advances, it's been reported that industries have produced more than 9.1 billion tons of plastic since 1950, and not only that, there's enough left over to bury Manhattan under more than two miles of trash. Two miles. Burying Manhattan.

As if those numbers weren't hard enough to wrap your head around already, get this: nearly seven billion of those tons are no longer used. There is seven billion tons of plastic just sitting around littering the planet. In 2015 alone, 448 million tons were produced, which is more than twice the amount made in 1998 (they used the plastic industry's own data for this, too).

Unfortunately, using alternatives to plastics like glass, paper or aluminum requires more energy, which makes it a tricky situation. The difference is, however, that those alternatives aren't turned to waste as fast as plastic is, and they are much more biodegradable. Plastic in water has been shown to harm over 600 types of marine life alone, and we haven't even taken into consideration land animals in that equation.

That all sounds pretty somber, but there is a glimmer of hope in all of this: apparently the plastics industry recognizes the problem and is working to increase recycling and reduce waste. We'll see how it goes, but at least... they know it's an issue, right? Right? Somebody has to care, right?

This is why recycling matters, people. If you don't now, maybe consider it. After all, we don't exactly have another planet to live on if we screw this one up. What we can only hope for in the future is more recycling and perhaps a biodegradable plastic that isn't totally toxic for the environment. Something has to be done, or it'll be more than Manhattan that can be buried under two miles of plastic waste.

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Real Talk |  Source: qz.com

Trump and Clinton Remind Us Why We're Over This Election

Karl Becker 4 Prez.

After the release of the explicit and disturbing #Trumptapes and an additional 2,000 emails linked to Hillary Clinton's scandalous "mistake", we all knew that this debate had the potential to be a dirty slugfest. That tone was immediately made very clear as both candidates avoided shaking hands before the start of the debate. Not a good look.

Moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz used questions written by the undecided voters in the town hall audience and at home to guide "the people's debate". One would hope that given the close proximity and interaction with the voters these candidates are trying to pull, there would've been more civility. NOPE, no such luck.

Instead of giving a full run down of the debate, I decided to do something a little less painful: focus on these two incidents specifically and how they were discussed last night by the candidates. The opening question asked by Patrice Brock in the audience dove right into the mess.

"The last debate could have been rated as MA, mature audiences, per TV parental guidelines. Knowing that educators assign viewing the presidential debates as students' homework, do you feel you're modeling appropriate and positive behavior for today's youth?"

She's right. Think about all the extremely vulgar language and the lack of model behavior these candidates have shown. As college students we may be used to hearing and seeing this in our unfiltered daily life, but it doesn't make it right or anything we should be aspiring for in our leadership.

Despite being a great question, both candidates' answers were pretty lackluster and clearly avoided any mentions of Brock's references, focusing instead on their campaign slogans of "stronger together" and "make America great again."

I know avoidance is the go-to tactic of politicians, but when the media blasts concerning new stories about the candidates every single day, you just can't ignore the elephant in the room.

Anderson Cooper had no qualms in trying to make Trump answer specifically about the tapes, stating: "The question from Patrice was about are you both modeling positive and appropriate behavior for today's youth.... You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?"

Trump's excuse for his lewd commentary?

"Just locker room talk" and that "it's just words folks," which to him means harmless. He then discussed Bill Clinton's scandals as "far worse" so as to avoid responsibility, minimize his statements, and take a dig at Hillary. In reality, Trump is a prime example of the rape culture we have created and accepted in society.

On the Democratic side, when asked specifically how she can reason that her email "mistake" was not "extremely careless," Hillary restated her apology and that she takes responsibility for her actions, but quickly shifted to discussing the lack of any evidence proving the "misleading accusations from critics".

It's important that she does continually apologize and take responsibility, but when she defers to telling people to "check the facts", it's hard to know what to believe and even what to check when there are thousands of emails missing.

Trump made this loud and clear and emphasized that if he takes office, he will have a special prosecutor on her case.

Are you thoroughly exhausted from this election? Because I sure am. The only bright spot came at the very end when audience member Karl Becker single-handedly won last night's debate by asking both candidates to name one positive thing about the other. Honestly our hero.

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Real Talk |  Source: osu.edu

What Powers Campus Police Do And Don't Have

How much authority does public safety have?

During the school year, you may have wondered while doing something illegal or just contemplating doing something illegal, whether the security force on your campus is authorized to arrest you or even shoot you if justified. How much actual power and authority do campus police have?

The answer is complicated, and depends on a number of factors.

First, it matters whether you attend a public university or a private college. It also matters where your college is located, and what state laws are in effect. Public universities are often state-owned and subsidized schools, and this means that the campus police attend the same police academy as other officers in the area and have basically the same training.

Private colleges and universities typically hire their own private security force, similar to mall cops. These officers are allowed to detain you until a full-fledged police officer arrives to take over. So, depending on where you go to school or what campus you are visiting, the authority of the campus police can vary.

A few years ago at the University of South Alabama, an 18-year-old freshman was shot and killed by a police officer who said the suspect, naked and on drugs, charged at him. He was suspended but later cleared of any wrongdoing.

This year at Ohio State University, a suspect drove his car on campus and into a bunch of students, then got out of his car and started stabbing people with a knife. He was shot and killed by a campus police officer.

These examples are extreme, but also show that campus police can be just like regular police. They can shoot you, arrest you, hand out DUI's and give you a ticket for a moving violation. They can also save you from a dangerous situation.

However, according to www.campussafetymagazine.com, it is important to note that campus police are different than regular police in five main ways:

Community policing.
They want to make campus and the surrounding community safe for both students and residents.

Campus police practice different disciplinary training.
They want you to learn from your mistakes, and can refer you to the Dean or another campus resource center for help instead of just giving you a ticket or citation.

Prevention.
Campus police give on campus presentations in the hope of preventing crime. They aren't just waiting around for students to do something bad. Campus police are trained to work with, and communicate with, young adults.

Wherever you go to school, you should be aware of your own actions and the impact your actions can have on others. Of course, everyone should be able to have a good time and party without having to worry about campus police or security breathing down their necks. But when your safety is at stake, it can be comforting to know help is nearby.

The Clery Act, established after a student was raped and killed at Lehigh University in 1986, ensures that all campuses have detailed emergency alert systems and comprehensive crime reporting statistics.

The bottom line is that the power of your campus police depends on the state where your school is located and whether your school is public or private. Whether your school is protected by actual police officers or just security guards, it is important to understand that these men and women are there to help and protect you, so keep that in mind the next time you are up to no good!

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Real Talk |  Source: @mreyz

Eight Ways to be Environmentally Friendly in College

It's really not hard.

We often take for granted things like clean drinking water, sanitary waste disposal systems, and 24/7 access to electricity. Even though it is the 21st century and drastic technological improvements have helped mitigate the effects of climate change, it's important that we continue to make a daily effort in order to reduce our carbon footprint and leave the planet in decent shape for our kids.

Believe me. I know that college can be overwhelming at times and that the last thing you would want to worry about is being environmentally friendly. However, many of these changes require minimal effort and time. Many of them are things you have been reminded of since you were young!

1.Stop using plastic water bottles and switch to a reusable Nalgene bottle
These days, an ordinary plastic water bottle isn't even cool. Although some of the reusable bottles are pricey, you can always ask for one for your birthday or a holiday. And remember, they will start saving you money because you won't be buying disposable water bottles anymore.

2.Turn off the lights/electronics when you leave the room
Seems like a no-brainer, but it is amazing how many people just leave stuff on when they exit a room. It takes seconds to turn off a light or TV.

3.Use the recycling bin when possible
Most colleges have bins available inside and outside of buildings. It should be no problem to dump your trash in the correct bin.

4. Take shorter showers
Sure, every now and then a long shower is a must, but for day to day cleanings, just get the job done and turn off the water.

5.Buy used textbooks/sell books afterwards
Used textbooks are cheaper than new ones, and often are in like-new or great condition.

6.Rethink bringing your car to campus
Having a car can be a bonus, but it can also be a negative. If you don't have a car, you don't need to worry about getting a DUI, finding a parking spot, being the designated driver, or buying gas. These days, Uber or Lyft is the way to go. Also, many colleges offer Zipcars - cars you can rent by the hour or day, and gas and insurance is included.

7.Get involved with campus garden/environmental clubs
Many schools have organic gardens and clubs that do something to benefit the school campus and community, like cleaning up a park, building a playground, raising money for recycling bins, etc.

8. Wear clothes more than a couple times
Wearing something once doesn't make it dirty. Wear pants or jeans more than one time, and things like sweaters, sweatshirts and jackets can get multiple wears. Definitely wash your underwear after each use though!

The above steps are simple and realistic ways that YOU can make a difference, so give them a try and help save the planet.