Yes, You Should Be Excited About Christmas Break, Come On Now

Yes, You Should Be Excited About Christmas Break, Come On Now

Going home for the holidays? How will you survive this whole month without your best friends from college? What kinds of questions are your family members going to ask you? Though there are many worries about leaving college, this can be the break you need before beginning spring semester.

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If you're anything like me, Christmas break is a hard time of year for you. It is exactly four weeks of literally doing nothing with your days and nights. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing my family, and the snow since Arizona doesn't have either of those. I sometimes also feel as though I am wasting my days away by not being productive academically or professionally.

However, this year is going to be different for me. With only one semester left of college (where did the time go?), I am truly going to cherish this long break with my family. Being home for the holidays is a great time to catch up with family who you may not talk to on a daily basis because let's face it, college is hard and a busy time for everyone. My mom is the one who helps me through almost every situation and growing closer to her during Christmas is one of the highlights of my year. This is also a good move for those times when you need a little extra money, wink wink.

As I mentioned before, college is a busy time. Between projects, presentations, exams, extracurriculars, work and of course, parties, there is no time to relax. Christmas break is the perfect time to literally do nothing and, in my case, train yourself to be okay with that. Running all of the time is not good for your health and you have to get ready to do it all over again coming January! Take this time to relax, lights some candles, take a bath, and drink some wine.

The real world does not give you four weeks off to lounge around in your pajamas all day. Enjoy it now.

Changing up the scenery for those who are out of state is the best way to not get bored with your everyday life. I am a big advocate of change so "vacationing" for a whole is my way of not being restless. Though college is fun, and "the best four years of your life," be excited to go home. This small change in your everyday life will really make a difference in your happiness.

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME AT HOME FOR A WHOLE, ENTIRE MONTH.

This luxury will come to an end faster than you think and you'll regret dreading it every year.

Sincerely,

The College Senior

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Here's Why You Shouldn't Donate to The Salvation Army This Holiday Season (Or Ever)

No, I’m not a grinch or a scrooge. I’m just a member of the LGBT+ community that is tired of seeing my community suffer at the hands of organizations that are supposed to help us.
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The holiday season is upon us, bringing mall Santas, twinkling lights, and the well-known bell ringers with their red buckets stationed outside busy department stores. The Salvation Army is a mainstay in the memories of our childhood holidays. I remember a number of years where my parents would give each of my sisters and I a handful of change to put in the shiny red bucket as we walked into Wal-Mart to shop for our family Christmas dinner. On the surface, the Salvation Army is an organization with good intentions of helping the less fortunate, especially during the holiday season. However, a quick Google search exposes the organization’s discriminatory practices.

The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian denomination and an international charitable organization. Their mission statement, as stated on their website, reads: “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

Despite their insistence of nondiscriminatory practices, however, there have been several instances of discrimination, specifically against members of the LGBT+ community. In July 2017, a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Brooklyn, New York, was found by the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) to be discriminating. Three other centers in New York City were also cited as being discriminatory. Violations within the four centers included refusing to accept transgender people as patients or tenants, assigning trans people rooms based on their sex assigned at birth instead of their lived gender identity, unwarranted physical examinations to determine if trans people are on hormone therapy or have had surgery, and segregating transgender patients into separate rooms. The NYCCHR had been tipped off about the mistreatment, and testers from the commission went to the cited centers and found clear evidence of the mistreatment. One of the clinics told the testers outright, “No, we don’t [accept transgender patients].” Another clinic’s representative said, “People with moving male parts would be housed with men.”

This isn’t the first time the Salvation Army has discriminated specifically against transgender people. In 2014, a transgender woman from Paris, Texas fled her home due to death threats she received related to her gender identity. The police told her, “Being the way you are, you should expect that.” She went to Dallas and found emergency shelter at the Carr P. Collins Social Service Center, run by the Salvation Army. The emergency shelter allowed her to stay for 30 days. Towards the end of her 30-day stay, she began looking for other long-term shelter options. One option many of the other women staying in the shelter had recently entered was a two-year housing program also run by the Salvation Army. When the woman interviewed for the program, she was told she was disqualified for the program because she had not had gender reassignment surgery. The counselor for the program later claimed there was a waiting list, but it came out that two women who arrived at the emergency shelter after the transgender woman had already entered the program. The transgender woman filed a complaint with Dallas’s Fair Housing Office, which protects against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. She was able to find other housing through the Shared Housing Project, a project that aims to find transgender people with housing who are willing to support those without.

The Salvation Army’s Christian affiliation drives the organization’s statements and beliefs. The church has a page on its website dedicated to its decided stance on the LGBT+ community that seems to paint a nice picture. Their actions, however, tell a different story. There have been several accounts reporting the Salvation Army’s refusal of service to LGBT+ people unless they renounce their sexuality, end same-sex relationships, or, in some cases, attend services “open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline.” The church claims it holds a “positive view of human sexuality,” but then clarifies that “sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage.” This belief extends to their staff, asking LGBT+ employees to renounce their beliefs and essentially their identity in order to align with the organization. The Salvation Army believes that “The theological belief regarding sexuality is that God has ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman and sexual activity is restricted to one’s spouse. Non-married individuals would therefore be celibate in the expression of their sexuality.” Essentially, gay people can’t get married. Unmarried people can’t have sex. Therefore, gay people are forbidden from being intimate with one another. This is unfair to ask of any employee, especially considering that one’s relationship status does not interfere with how well anyone can do their job.

If you are still looking to donate to a non-homophobic and transphobic organization this holiday season, here are some great pro-LGBT+ organizations with outreach similar to that of the Salvation Army:

  • Doctors Without Borders: medical and emergency relief
  • Habitat for Humanity: homelessness and housing
  • Local homeless shelters: search the National Coalition for the Homeless’ website for shelters near you!
  • Local food bank: find your local food bank through Feeding America here.
  • The Trevor Project: a leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBT+ young people ages 13-24.
Cover Image Credit: Ed Glen Today

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If Your Break Has Left You Feeling Bummed, Here Are Some Things You Can Do To Spice It Up

So you made it through the semester...now what do you do?

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You have a month off from school, but binge-watching on Netflix can only do so much. If you're not going away for break, things can get pretty boring after a while (you might even start to miss being on campus). Here is a list of things you can do to salvage your break and enjoy it before you have to go back.

1. Check out Groupon

If you haven't already followed Tiffany Haddish's advice on using Groupon, now you should! It's a great way to get good deals on almost anything. You don't need to break your bank to go out anymore, you can have fun on a budget. There are so many options like an escape room, karaoke, rock climbing, and more for cheap. So take out your laptop, grab your card, round up a group of friends, and get ready to have some fun.

2. Explore

Have you ever felt like you barely know anything about where you live? Well now is the perfect opportunity to go out and explore! Venture to places beyond your town and get to know your local area more. If you can't go on a big trip this break, why not take mini ones?

3. Pick up a hobby

If you don't already have one, it's the perfect time to find one. You have an ample amount of free time, so why not spend it learning something new? You can practice your cooking/baking skills, learn a new language or polish up on an old one, take up knitting, or you can even take random classes at the library for free; the possibilities are endless.

4. Find a job

No one likes being a broke college student, so let's start filling out those applications. Getting some work experience and earning a little cash to spend now and next semester isn't such a bad idea.

5. Visit a pop-up museum

Pop-up museums are the "it" thing right now. They are taking art museums to the next level. Pop-ups provide a fun interactive experience along with cool art. These Instagrammable hotspots will be perfect for your feed, but make sure you go fast because they aren't there for long.

6. Go see a play or musical

I saw my first musical in ninth grade and fell in love. Don't let the thought of high prices discourage you, there are some good Broadway musicals you can see for as low as $49. If you search around you can find good seats and even better prices. Everyone should experience going to a play or musical once in their life.

7. Go to a concert

It doesn't have to be a big one, you can go and support your local artists unless you have someone you want to see and have the money to spend. If concerts aren't your thing, comedy clubs can be a good alternative.

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