5 Georgia College Exchange Students React To The Georgia Tech Shooting, Campus Safety And Police

5 Georgia College Exchange Students React To The Georgia Tech Shooting, Campus Safety And Police

For those who come from abroad to study in the U.S., the shooting is a whole another story with entirely different implications altogether.
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On Sept. 17, Georgia Tech campus police shot Scott Schultz, a suicidal college student armed with a knife. The shooting raised outrage from fellow students, some people protesting against the police while others sided with them. The week or two of outrage has been followed by silence, since school shootings have more or less become a norm in American society. But for those who come from abroad to study in the U.S., the shooting is a whole another story with entirely different implications altogether. I interviewed five exchange students studying at Georgia colleges to understand what they think of the Georgia Tech shooting and college campus safety in the U.S.


1. Tell us a little about yourself.

Mouzen: "I'm a sophomore from Palestine studying biology at Georgia State University (GSU)."

Leen: "I'm a BA major studying at GSU. I'm from Syria and came to the U.S. for family reasons. The hardest part about the move was learning to blend into society and the language barrier. Nothing was easy. I felt like I had no life, because I had to do twice the hard work in school to get good grades. The good thing was that my family was by my side the whole time."

Bahija: "I'm from Germany, and my major at GSU is economics, junior year. I came here because I wanted a different experience and to be confident and independent. My brother studied in U.S. before me, so I was bound to the Georgia area. The hardest part was all the paperwork and visa applications, insurance, etc... The easiest was notification of the process. I was terrified during the process, because there's a chance of being rejected as an applicant, but my family was supportive, even though they were just as nervous."

Houda: "I'm from Damascus, Syria, and I'm a junior studying speech communications at GSU. I chose to study abroad because I have family here. I started at GPC [Perimeter College] because it was closer to home. The easiest part of coming here was booking the tickets, because they're just a click away, but the hardest part was change in routine — trying to find a balance between the norms I've been taught and the new ones here."

Firdous: "I'm from Sudan and attend Agnes Scott as a sophomore going into nursing. My father is American, and we have family here, so I decided to study in the U.S. because the education is stronger here than in Sudan. I chose my college based on location, diversity, reputation and student reviews. The application process and essay writing was most difficult, and there wasn't exactly and easy part because I was leaving my family to study here. But my family was really happy I could study here, and they wanted me to get a good education so my siblings could follow my path."

2. What would you hear about America in the news from your homeland? Any mention of gun violence?

Leen: "I used to live in the U.S. when I was younger, so I don't remember much about Syrian news."

Bahija: "We would hear about the election, the shootings, celebrity news and we even discussed American gun laws in high school. Yes, and I felt unsafe. It scares me, and I would like for the states to have stricter gun control and not let just anyone buy a gun. On campus though, I feel safe because people are me seem like normal college students and also because of the security cameras."

Houda: "Most people are split between hating America and blaming it for everything while others adore it and love every single thing that is related to it. The news [in Syria] usually covered America's interference with Middle East affairs and how America only addresses the conflict between Israel and Palestine when Israeli soldiers are hurt, but it does not utter a word when Palestinian families and kids are killed. I moved to U.S. when I was still a high school sophomore, so American news wasn't really my thing back then. I had enough with what was going on in my country. Either way, campus violence was not something I heard of at the time."

Firdous: "There isn't much about U.S. in Sudanese news, but a majority of the people in Sudan dream to come to the U.S. We might know the crime rate is higher in the U.S. than in Sudan, but no one mentioned campus violence."

3. How do you feel about guns?

Mouzen: "I'm against them. Guns are allowed in my homeland, too, but I'm still against them overall."

Leen: "I don't think guns should be allowed in schools, because it's a place a person can study and hang out with friends, not a battle or war zone!"

Houda: "I'm not a big fan of them. I don't mind them when we're in a shooting range, and it's all fun and games. But the combination of guns and daily life terrifies me. I'm not either for or against gun rights. I'm more towards stricter rules for gun permits."

Firdous: "I think it's a bad idea to have a gun in general, but when everyone is carrying a gun, it becomes a necessity."

4. How safe do you feel on your college campus?

Leen: "I feel safe with the cops on GSU campus. We are very good friends."

Houda: "I feel normal. I'm usually only on campus when I have class, so my head is pretty occupied with what's going on in the lecture [than] to think about the possibility of something going sideways."

Firdous: "I feel very safe."

5. Before coming to the U.S., did you know that guns are permitted on some college campuses, including all Georgia campuses?

Leen: "No one told me guns are allowed on campus. After guns were allowed, I've had second thoughts about my campus safety.If I had known, I would have considered another option [besides studying in U.S.]."

Bahija: "I didn't know that. It's a learning environment, so why... Knowing this would have influenced my decision if a lot if I had heard about it before."

Houda: "No, I did not. And this year, apparently, students in my university can have their guns with them on campus, which is terrifying. Even though I know many professors tried to take the humor route on this matter, you could clearly see it was dry humor. However, I don't think knowing about this beforehand would have changed my decision to come study here."

Firdous: "I didn't know that until now. I think I would still come to study, because that's what was meant to happen."

6. Do you think guns should be allowed on campus? Why or why not?

Mouzen: "I'm 100 percent against guns on campus, and I do agree with gun control because no one has the right to put a gun in someone's face.

Bahija: "No! We have police officers all around, and if anything happens, they should handle it. I don't think some people understand that you can seriously skill someone with a gun because of self-protection, which is sometimes not justified, because you could have pepper spray or something instead."

Houda: "I don't think so, no. College students are very emotional people, and the things we go through on a daily basis are too much, sometimes. I don't trust everyone to know how to hold their frustration in when the dark times hit."

Firdous: "I don't think they should be allowed. A college campus should be a safe haven for everyone, and a college student may make wrong decisions, especially if stressed."

7. How did you feel about the Georgia Tech shooting?

Mouzen: "It was not right. No one should have the right to shoot anyone, no matter the gender."

Leen: "I think it was horrible. They shouldn't have done that [shot Schultz] and should've talked the student out of the situation."

Bahija: "I was sad, because I heard the student was mentally sick or something, and wondering why did [Schultz] have to die... I think the police should be sufficiently trained to handle someone with a knife without killing them."

Houda: "I have very mixed feelings about the matter. I'm not that informed, but I heard the student was suicidal and had already written a couple suicide notes, which, if that's the truth, then who is to say the police were wrong about shooting him. Who is to say he wouldn't have hurt someone else? Yes, it's tragic how the events played out, but the media played a huge role in playing with our emotions when the news was first published, and everyone was quick to say 'the police shot an LGBT student,' and almost everyone stopped there, which is not really fair for anyone."

Firdous: "It's very sad what happened, and I'm angry because the student just had a knife and the officer should have handled the situation differently, like shooting the student's leg or taken the knife. I think authorities need to step and address the issue with police shootings."

8. How do you feel about the American police? What about your campus cops?

Mouzen: "I have no problem with cops on campus. They're all fine and sweet to me, and I moved here like six years ago and didn't have any difficulty with cops."

Leen: "I feel sometimes they do what is easiest for them, without thinking of the victim's family and loved ones. However, not all cops are that way."

Bahija: "Sometimes, they're too rough and some actions are questionable, like with the shooting."

Houda: "I am indifferent about them. I'd like to think that if I ever need their help, they will be there to help and protect me. Every group of people has good and bad, so I don't think the good should be overlooked because we only hear about the bad. My campus cops are nice and friendly, and they greet me sometimes when I walk by. They have also been helpful when I'm lost or have a question."

Firdous: "The more I see police shooting civilians, the more I feel frightened by their presence and doubt their mission is to protect people. They've become more of a threat than safety provider."

9. Have you ever feared the police? If so, why? Do you ever fear they will shoot you?

Houda: "Every time I see a cop car, my heart sinks a little. I got a speeding ticket almost two years ago, and since then, I get scared seeing their flashing lights. I don't really fear cops shooting me, but sometimes I do, if the situation seems sketchy. But I don't go out much nowadays, so my only encounter with cops are when they drive past me. Back in Syria, I never thought about a cop shooting me."

Firdous: "I have always been cautious near cops, and now I'm more conscious of their presence and feel the urge to get away from them."

10. Do you feel you will continue to live in American after completing your study abroad?

Leen: "Yes, I will."

Bahija: "I would like to go home. I never felt this way in my home country because we never heard of news about shootings and campus gun control like in the West!"

Houda: "I honestly don't know... I tell myself that I want to move back, but I'm also scared that by the time I move, I will have a whole new adjustment to go through, so it may be easier to just stay here. But eventually, yes, I want to move back."

Firdous: "I don't know.. It's hard to tell."

11. Is there anything you would like people to understand or know?

Leen: "Just follow the rules, and if things don't work out, try solving the problem in a lawful way."

Bahija: "We are all humans and have the right to live a life of dignity."

Houda: "Don't take the media for granted. They care about money more than delivering the whole truth. There is always good in the world, even if we don't see it that often.

Cover Image Credit: WikiMedia

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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My Liberal Women's Studies Class Made Me Hate Modern-Day Feminism

I disagreed with it before, but now I can barely support it.

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The first time I got to take women and gender studies was my senior year of high school. My teacher was incredible, and I feel that once everyone (yes including me) could get past our political differences, we all learned so much from each other. We didn't agree with each other the majority of the time, but we all took the time to understand why we felt the way that we do.

In college, I was isolated by my own professor and I was taught her opinion and was expected to take it as a fact. It was anti-Republican and politically charged. Anyone who has taken a women's studies course in college I've spoken to agrees, the course is only so much fact and history, it's most discussion and opinion.

I dropped that class, it was not what I knew it could be. I recently enrolled in the same class online. Relearning the foundation of what the feminist movement is, and what it stood for only renewed my disagreement with modern feminism.

For those of you unfamiliar with feminism, it is categorized into three waves. To keep it short and sweet, first wave feminism consists of the women who worked to gain the right to vote and other legal aspects.

Second wave feminism took place in the 1960's and 70's and to my knowledge, seemed to focus on a lot of workplace rights, education rights and such.

Third wave feminism started in the 1990s and is considered modern-day feminism.

Feminism is the desire to have equality among the sexes.

My grandmother once said that she didn't know what these women were so upset about. They don't know and have never seen real and true oppression. She has a point. Women in America have it good compared to women even 50 years ago and certainly have it better than women in most other countries. We get to drive, have credit cards, our own bank accounts, have a job, own a company, run for office, and live on our own. Women are allowed to be pro-choice or be pro-life, carry a gun or not carry a gun. This is all because of the women who came before us and helped us get here.

So many modern feminists believe that men are the reason they face oppression and that men cannot represent them. That isn't equality. That is shutting down an entire group of people, saying they cannot adequately do their job simply because they are a man. Which is exactly what feminists are supposed to be against when that is applied to women. Also, if they don't like their elected representatives, go out and exercise your right to vote, work on campaigns you do agree with, or even try to speak with your elected officials.

Most people also associate modern feminism with being a liberal. There is an obvious exclusion of conservative women from the feminist movement.

If you are pro-life you can't be a feminist.

If you voted for Donald Trump you can't be a feminist.

If you are a conservative with conservative values you can't be a feminist.

This is not what the feminist movement is supposed to be about.

Let us go straight to a hot topic as an example: abortion. The Supreme Court has the final say, and they set precedent. In other words, any law that would change any outcome of Roe V. Wade is unconstitutional unless the Supreme Court itself takes on a case and makes the changes itself. So no, Donald Trump cannot take away your right to an abortion. That is just a politically charged line to get people fired up.

Also, conservative values include minimal government, therefore many conservatives feel that it's not the government's place to tell you what to do with your body. Being personally pro-life doesn't mean we believe that you shouldn't have a say in if you get an abortion.

A lot of women are NRA members and have a concealed carry permit so they can protect themselves, their children, etc. Maybe they recently got out of a domestic violence situation, or have been harassed by an ex. If you are lucky enough, you can get a piece of paper that gives you some form of legal protection, but a law or a rule won't stop a criminal.

Why do women who claim to be feminists tear down or shame other women because of political differences?

I know I will never hate another woman based on her political party. I didn't want Hilary Clinton to win because I didn't agree with any of her policies, not based on political parties and not because I thought a man is supposed to be in charge. I think it's awesome I got to see two women be candidates in this past presidential election.

We live in a society where we are considered equal to men. Is it perfect? No. But the most important right previous movements gave us, is the right to an opinion and to seek justice. Women have access to birth control just like men, in fact, women have more birth control options than men. Women can speak out and seek justice and protection from violent relationships, and so can men. It is also true men face more stigmas than women when it comes to domestic/dating violence and sexual assault. Men are expected to be the ones who are the aggressors, not the abused or assaulted. Nobody talks about that fact.

I'll leave you with this: if it is so bad here, then why do so many people aspire to start a life here? We are the land of the free. We are not perfect, but we are the closest to perfect here than anywhere else.

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