Let Malia Obama Be A Regular College Student

Let Malia Obama Be A Regular College Student

Would you want everything you did in college ending up as a headliner?

We all do questionable things in college, we can all at least admit that. However, imagine if everything you did became a headline on TMZ or People Magazine? Think about having your privacy ripped away from you simply because you have a famous parent or both parents are well know. You could not even move into your college dorm without being attached by people wanting your picture. It makes me, and I hope whoever reads this, feel uncomfortable and panicked that everything you do can be a headline to the point where your friends cannot even help because that funny snapchat you took is now all over social media.That feeling is how the tabloids and we the American public make Malia Obama feel and it needs to stop.

I have seen the video of Malia blowing smoke rings and I have seen videos of my friends on Snapchat doing the exact same thing, the difference is none of them are the daughter of former president Barack Obama. Which makes it is no where near as big of a deal. Malia is just trying to live her life in college with as much normalcy as she can get, so why do we not give her even a little? I am happy that she gets to experience what we all experience, but I hate and sympathize for her that she cannot do it the way the rest of us can.

Ivanka Trump TweetWe can never understand what it is like until we are in the shoes of someone like Malia Obama. Since the video of her blowing smoke rings and the pictures of her kissing a boy at the Yale-Harvard game tailgate came out (which is something many college students have done), former first daughter Chelsea Clinton and the first daughter Ivanka Trump have posted on twitter saying we should respect Malia's privacy and not exploit her for out enjoyment.

Chelsea Clinton's Tweet

There is so much going on in the world we can be focusing newscasting on instead of Malia Obama's college life. Isis just recently posted a picture of Santa holding dynamite in Times Square threatening the US by adding the caption, "We Meet at Christmas in New York...Soon." This is actually news so how come I did not see this until I saw about ten posts about Malia Obama? I am sure Malia would want us talking about important things like this rather than her adventures as a college student. We could be focusing our resources on so many more important things.

I get the fascination with the Obama family during the presidency and how they could not have much privacy because they were the face of our country. Now Malia and Sasha are just a normal teenagers so we should let them be normal teenagers. Give them the privacy we all get and let them be normal.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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To Fix Congress, We Need To Stop Voting For The Same People

Because honestly, not much has changed.

In October 2013, my family was visiting the beaches of Normandy, France when the US government shut down. You wouldn't think a government shutdown would have any direct impact on our plans, but, unfortunately, the beaches stormed by US troops (i.e. the ones that we as American citizens most wanted to see) are considered national parks, though they are located abroad, and were subsequently closed as a result of the shutdown.

This was quite disappointing for my family. Living outside the United States though, we really didn't feel much of an impact. It was just something that happened. People made fun of my brother and I at school because our country was too dumb to have a working government, but that was basically commonplace. We moved on, slightly embarrassed.

This government shutdown is one of very few instances where a parallel can be drawn between the Obama administration and the Trump administration. In fact, the situation is almost the same. I'm guessing that when you opened this, this statement was not what you were expecting, so I'm going to say it again. There are a lot of similarities between the 2013 and 2018 government shutdowns.

I know that no matter what your party affiliation, you're upset by what I've just said. You're blaming the other side, no matter what. If you're a Democrat, the Republicans caused the shutdown. If you're a Republican, the Democrats caused the shutdown.

This is not a war between Democrats and Republicans–or at least it shouldn't be. We're actually all on the same side: we are all Americans who want the best for our country. If we assume the best in people, then we must assume that even in Congress this inherently good intention is at the core of all actions.

But when a shutdown occurs, at least for me, it becomes much more difficult to assume the best in Congress.

Essentially all federal positions with salaries not paid using appropriations–including many postal workers, members of the armed forces, federal agency employees (e.g. Departments of Education, Defense, Commerce, Agriculture, etc.) and employees working for Social Security–will continue working and will not be paid during the shutdown, operating instead on furlough, with the expectation that they will be back paid after the government resumes normal operations.

However, it is written into law that Congress will continue to be paid during a shutdown. No matter what.

Now, what exactly is your motivation to come to a speedy solution when you don't have to wait on your pay? There's no reward for speed in this case, which means Congress can move slowly. In 2013, the shutdown lasted over two weeks. So while Congress may not have suffered, other Americans definitely did.

In 2014, the year after the shutdown, the incumbency re-election rate was over 80 percent in both the House and the Senate. 55 House Representatives have served for more than 30 consecutive years. Twenty senators have served more than 30 consecutive years.

Part of this has to do with the "blame game" we mentioned. If both sides assume that the shutdown, and anything else bad that has come from government since the last Congressional election, was caused by the other party, then just about everybody will consistently vote for the same person.

Another part is the natural incumbency advantage. Incumbent senators and representatives are simply more likely to win elections, because they have a lot of free advertising, through television and other media, as well as through word of mouth.

Lastly, the average American is unlikely to conduct significant research on the candidates on the ballot. In recent years, there has been a significant rise in straight ticket voting, which is when a person votes exclusively for one party all the way down the ballot. If you're planning on voting for a specific party's candidate no matter what, you don't need to conduct much research, and subsequently, you probably don't know for sure whether or not a specific candidate was involved in the most recent government shutdown.

It would be naïve to say that we should all just accept that both parties are equally good (if you're optimistic) or bad (if you're not). However, if we want change, real change, we can't just change the president. We have changed the president, and I'd say things are pretty dramatically different in the policies pursued, in the general rhetoric and even in the way in which the president goes public. And yet here we are, the government is shut down again, and the story is not much different from 2013. If we want to change things, we need to vote. We need to vote for new, qualified and experienced candidates–and we need to do our research.

2018 brings midterm elections and a chance to change things. Let's make sure that, unlike in 2014, we actually take that opportunity, so that in five years, we aren't looking back at the 2018 midterms wondering why action wasn't taken then.

Cover Image Credit: Miranda Cecil

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Yes, Privilege Is Real And You Have It, Stop Ignoring It

Don't just say you're an ally -- educate yourself and others.

"Please step to the other side of the room if you were raised by a single parent or are a single parent. Notice who's standing with you. Notice who is not. Notice how you feel."

"Please step to the other side of the room if...

...you were raised in an isolated or farming community.

...you were raised Jewish.

...you or a loved one has suffered from depression."

It feels as if a thousand needles are lightly pricking my skin. The room falls silent as every student in the class moves from one side of the classroom to the other.

"Notice who's standing with you. Notice who is not. Notice how you feel."

As I stand among my predominately white, cis-gender, straight, economically stable classmates I notice all of the voices that aren't heard in this moment. My shoulders sink through the rest of my body. I feel numb.

I think I can easily say that the most cringe-worthy word of the last decade has been the infamous "P" word; privilege. I think when we hear the word "privilege" we often associate it with the word "white." It has become such a powerful word that can stop any white person in their tracks and force the conversation to fall silent.

I am no expert by any means, but as I have become more educated, I have found myself becoming increasingly frustrated by the negative connotation encompassed by the word privilege. Privilege is not simply defined by whether you are white or middle-class. Although these are aspects of privilege, these are not the only factors that can make a person privileged. So, take a minute ask yourself each of these questions.

Are you white?

Are you a man?

Are you straight?

Are you middle or upper class?

Are you in the process of, or contain a college education?

Do your parents have a college education?

Are you a U.S. born citizen?

Do you have a car?

Have your parents still married?

Have you ever been on a vacation?

Does your family have health insurance?

Honestly, that is just the beginning of a long list of questions we should be asking ourselves. If you can say "yes" to even one of those questions that means you have been allotted some amount of privilege. The reason I ask you to ask yourself these questions is that I think that we all need a momentary reality check. We have a tendency to emphasize how we are oppressed but forget to shed light on the ways we are all privileged.

As a biracial woman, there are many hurdles that I must face that others will never know exist. Although my race and sex may come with obstacles, I cannot overlook the fact that I am a cis-gender woman that comes from a well-educated, middle-class family.

I am getting damn tired of avoiding this word or seeing the eye rolls when I bring up privilege. Privilege is a real thing. It cannot be ignored. And in one facet or another, we are all given head starts in life because of our privilege.

I hope at this point you are starting to believe that we are all privileged. If not, reread the first 500 words I wrote until you change your mind. If we are on the same page, then you are probably wondering "Okay, so now what?" I have complete confidence in saying that it is not your privilege that matters, but what you choose to do with that privilege.

No, nothing will ever undo the hundreds of years of slavery that existed in the United States. You cannot erase the fact that genocide has occurred. What you can do is bring some attention to your privilege. Become an ally. Don't just say you're an ally but actively engage in the injustices that continue to occur. It is not enough to say that you support gay rights or that black lives do matter. Become educated on these topics and continue to educate others.

It is 2018. Ignorance is no longer a viable excuse as we hold all the knowledge in the world in the palms of our hands.

Hear me as I say that nothing is more frustrating than those that are unwilling to acknowledge that they are afforded access to more opportunities because they are white or because they aren't a first generation citizen. By stating that you are not privileged, you are invalidating the struggles and voicelessness that many experience daily. Who is it that has more to lose here? Is your denial of privilege more imperative than another's sense of value?

I cannot put into words how worn down I am by the pressure of being a spokesperson for minorities, despite how frustrated I become each time I have to explain I will continue to shed light. I will talk, write and scream until I become nothing but dirt. I will not stop fighting, but that's not to say it wouldn't be nice to have a few friends standing by my side.

Cover Image Credit: Zoya Barker

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