This Is The Reality Of A Campus Lockdown

This Is The Reality Of A Campus Lockdown

All I could think was: Why is this the life we have to live?
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As I sat there, huddled in the back corner of my classroom, squeezing the hand of a girl I had maybe exchanged three conversations with in the past and watching people desperately try to get in contact with their loved ones, all I could think was: Why is this the life we have to live?

This is the reality of a campus lockdown.

It’s strangers rushing into the room as you stroll in for class, carrying with them their books and their backpacks and an anxiety you don’t understand.

It’s everyday small talk escalating, gradually then all-at-once, into a panicked, incomprehensible dissonance of “Wait, what’s going on?” and “Apparently, there’s an active shooter, I don’t know”, “Close the door, close the door!” and “We’re not sure how to lock doors in this building.”

This is the reality of a campus lockdown.

It’s your heart shrinking in its chest and racing as you see people crying hysterically into the phone, crying silently even though you never expected them to.

It’s you, crying, too, at the sight of others’ fear, letting yourself fall apart right beside the people around you and letting them lift you up because they’re somehow stronger than you are.

This is the reality of a campus lockdown.

It’s the Internet immediately knowing the name of the building you’re about to type in because so many people have already done the same.

It’s news accounts on Twitter making you feel voiceless as they report “all-clear” when you’re still cramped in a barricaded room with people praying and sending each other strained smiles, trying to reassure each other—and maybe themselves—that you are fine, that you will be fine, that everything will be okay.

It’s your breath stopping in your airways every time someone bumps their knee into a table leg or mumbles a little too loud. It’s the girl on her phone hearing that two people were shot. It’s a period of uncertainty, of not knowing what to believe.

It’s coming out of it the way you come out of a nightmare, with a heaving chest and the mantra running through your head that you’re all right now, you’re all right.

This is the reality of a campus lockdown.

It’s anger.

It’s anger as you move the chair in front of you, crouch down, and wonder: Why is this the life we have to live? It’s anger that we have been forced to normalize a life in which we fear to live. It’s anger that this has been happening for years and there have been politicians in Washington, simply watching— watching Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Orlando— and letting it happen, over and over and over again.

Yes. I’m making it about politics. How could I not? It’s impossible to resist “politicizing” these events as they come—and they inevitably keep coming—because politics is this.

I am incredibly lucky that the campus lockdown we experienced at the University of Southern California was a false alarm. I am incredibly lucky that this is the extent of my personal connection to this issue because so many people cannot say the same. For those who have loved ones in Las Vegas, or have experienced similar tragedies in the past, my heart is with you. But it’s not enough for me to grieve with you. People in my position cannot send “thoughts and prayers” and expect the news we wake up to in the morning to change.

Yes, we need love. We will always need love. But right now, it is not enough. Right now, we need legislation.

The issue of gun control is not as controversial as we believe it to be. 90% of Americans support increasing background checks to close loopholes for gun purchases. That’s almost the entirety of America that wants, to some extent, stricter gun control.

But what we want doesn't matter in a democracy that is indirect only to its citizens and direct to the interest groups that feed it money in return for loyalty.

In the 2016 election cycle, the NRA collectively contributed over $50 million independent expenditures.

That’s $50 million to Republicans. $4.6 million to Senator Roy Blunt, whose “thoughts are with all of the families affected” by Las Vegas. $1.3 million to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who called the tragedy a "[shock]." $50 million to the politicians who create our policies, who represent our vision of the country we want to live in, who hold our lives in their hands—hands that are stained with blood money.

Our apathy and ignorance put them in these positions of power. Every member of Congress sitting in D.C. today is there because of us. And I want to believe that we can either push them out of those seats in 2018 or demand more from them because they owe us this, because their job is to represent us, because the message we stand for is not students hiding in a corner, calling their loved ones and trying to repress an irrepressible fear, nor is it fatal gunshots fired into an environment meant to celebrate life, because I want to believe that there is a world that is better than this, because I know that there can be.

I don’t want anxious phone calls and barricaded classrooms to be the reality of any campus. I don’t want concerts to become a place of danger when they have always been a place of safety and escapism. But unless we demand that our representatives listen to their constituents before they cater to their lobbyists, I don’t see a future that promises otherwise. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

The information to call your representatives is can be found here.

Cover Image Credit: Toronto Star

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The Trump Presidency Is Over

Say hello to President Mike Pence.

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Remember this date: August 21, 2018.

This was the day that two of President Donald Trump's most-important associates were convicted on eight counts each, and one directly implicated the president himself.

Paul Manafort was Trump's campaign chairman for a few months in 2016, but the charges brought against him don't necessarily implicate Trump. However, they are incredibly important considering was is one of the most influential people in the Trump campaign and picked Mike Pence to be the vice presidential candidate.

Manafort was convicted on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failure to file a report of a foreign bank account. And it could have been even worse. The jury was only unanimous on eight counts while 10 counts were declared a mistrial.

Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, told a judge that Trump explicitly instructed him to break campaign-finance laws by paying two women not to publicly disclose the affairs they had with Trump. Those two women are believed to be Karen McDougal, a Playboy model, and Stormy Daniels, a pornstar. Trump had an affair with both while married to his current wife, Melania.

And then to no surprise, Fox News pundits spun this in the only way they know how. Sara Carter on Hannity said that the FBI and the Department of Justice are colluding as if it's some sort of deep-state conspiracy. Does someone want to tell her that the FBI is literally a part of the DOJ?

The Republican Party has for too long let Trump get away with criminal behavior, and it's long past time to, at the very least, remove Mr. Trump from office.

And then Trump should face the consequences for the crimes he has committed. Yes, Democrats have a role, too. But Republicans have control of both chambers of Congress, so they head every committee. They have the power to subpoena Trump's tax returns, which they have not. They have the power to subpoena key witnesses in their Russia investigations, which they have not.

For the better part of a year I have been asking myself what is the breaking point with Republicans and Trump. It does not seem like there is one, so for the time being we're stuck with a president who paid off two women he had an affair with in an attempt to influence a United States election.

Imagine for a second that any past president had done even a fraction of what Trump has.

Barack Obama got eviscerated for wearing a tan suit. If he had affairs with multiple women, then Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell would be preparing to burn him at the stake. If they won't, then Trump's enthusiastic would be more than happy to do so.

For too long we've been saying that Trump is heading down a road similar to Nixon, but it's evident now that we're way past that point. Donald Trump now has incriminating evidence against him to prove he's a criminal, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller is just getting started.

Will Trump soften the blow and resign in disgrace before impeachment like Nixon did? Knowing his fragile ego, there's honestly no telling what he'll do. But it's high time Trump leaves an office he never should have entered in the first place.

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The Images Tug At Your Heartstrings, But What Can You Do To Help?

10 ways that you can help victims of Hurricane Florence

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Early on September 14th, Hurricane Florence made landfall south of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina and moved inland from there, leaving a path of destruction. Florence downed trees, caused flooding, and set off tornadoes. At this point, damages are estimated to be at least 17 million dollars. It is also estimated that at least 36 people have died due to Hurricane Florence. More than one million people have had to evacuate their homes, and it is unknown as to when and if they will be unable to go home.

The statistics are sobering, but what can you do to help? Lots actually! Here are xx ways that you can help victims of Hurricane Florence:

1. Donate to the Red Cross.

Even though Red Cross is already working hard to help victims of Hurricane Florence, they can still use your help! Donate here.

2. Donate blood.

Whenever there's a crisis, hospitals will almost always find themselves short on blood. Find out how you can give a life-saving gift here.

3. Donate to the Humane Society.

Thousands of animals have been harmed by Hurricane Florence. The Humane Society is working hard to help save them. Find out what you can do to help out too here.

4. Donate or join Habitat for Humanity.

Whether you donate money or help rebuild homes destroyed by the hurricane, Habitat for Humanity will appreciate your help. Find out more here.

5. Donate to the United Way Hurricane Florence Relief Fund.

United Way has dedicated a specific fund just for hurricane relief. Donate here.

6. Donate to the Diaper Bank of North Carolina.

This organization is dedicated to supplying families with young children diapers and other needed supplies. Donate here.

7. Add one dollar or more to your order at 7-Eleven.

7-Eleven is partnering with the American Red Cross to raise funds to help victims of Hurricane Florence. Find out more about their fundraiser here.

8. Donate to Save the Children.

Save the Children is dedicated to providing for children around the world who are impoverished or who have been affected by national disaster. Find out more about their Hurricane Florence relief fund here.

9. Donate through Sprint's Text-To-Donate program.

If you're a Sprint customer, you can text a variety of different codes to donate. Find out more here.

10. Volunteer to help storm victims.

Help clear waste, rebuild homes, even deliver food or medicine. Find out more about how you can volunteer to help storm victims here.

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