Writing For Odyssey Isn't Journalism

Writing For Odyssey Isn't Journalism

All we want is the chance for our voices to be heard.
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Before I started writing for Odyssey, I held a lot of judgments against it. I would always see those "Open Letter To My Ex/Best Friend/Mom/Sister/Etc." articles on my Facebook news feed and roll my eyes at the cliche topics and unoriginal clickbait headlines. I also had a personal vendetta against all the Odyssey posts I saw that seemed to be trying to report on actual news. I thought, a college student from Middleofnowhere University in Nebraska thinks they have the capacity to write a fully-fleshed article about our country's political climate? I'm sure.

So, right now you're probably thinking, "bro, if you hated it so much, why did you join?"

Well, Internet stranger, I'm glad you asked.

I've always enjoyed writing, but I could never seem to stick to it. I would start dozens of short stories, but never finish them. I would try to make myself write every day, even if it was just a daily reflection, but all I was left with was a collection of half-used journals.

I had a few friends who had written for Odyssey, and they had nothing but good things to say about it. You could write about whatever you wanted, you only have to submit one article a week, and if you were lucky enough, you could even get paid for articles that went "viral." Eventually, I started to understand the appeal of writing for the wannabe-news platform.

After considering for awhile, I joined Odyssey. I figured it would be an easy extracurricular to throw on my resume, and that maybe having a weekly deadline would be the push I needed to start taking my writing more seriously.

I can tell you now that I was right about half of that statement. Having a weekly deadline keeps me on top of my writing and has helped my creativity to flourish. It hasn't, however, been anywhere near easy. It's difficult to think creatively all the time and to force yourself to organize all your jumbled thoughts into coherent pieces of writing. These past seven-or-so months have pushed me to open my mind, expand my comfort zone, and explore all the facets writing and literature have to offer.

In my time here, I have come to love Odyssey and everything it stands for. My premonitions about the site weren't incorrect -- Odyssey is not a news source, and writing for it isn't "real" journalism. But it doesn't need to be, and it's never claimed to be. Odyssey is simply a place where everyone has a voice.

Whether that voice is used to make funny listicles about The Office, or to call for the protection of transgender students (both of which I have done in my time here), the objective is the same: to be heard.

Our editors don't reject articles they disagree with or try to police what we can and can't write about. Each week, every Odyssey creator has the opportunity to write about their own thoughts, opinions, and interests. They have the chance to use their voice and open up conversations. And that is what Odyssey is to me: a safe place for expression and discussion.

I never regret my choice to write for Odyssey. I know there are people who hold the same judgments that I had before joining, but I think the important distinction to make is that Odyssey creators are well-aware that writing for a college blogging site doesn't make us journalists. We are nothing more than a group of creative thinkers and passionate writers who want the chance to hear others and to be heard.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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10 Things Someone Who Grew Up In A Private School Knows

The 10 things that every private school-goer knows all too well.

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1. Uniforms

Plaid. The one thing that every private school-goer knows all too well. It was made into jumpers, skirts, shorts, scouts, hair ties, basically anything you could imagine, the school plaid was made into. You had many different options on what to wear on a normal day, but you always dreaded dress uniform day because of skirts and ballet flats. But it made waking up late for school a whole lot easier.

2. New people were a big deal

New people weren't a big thing. Maybe one or two a year to a grade, but after freshman year no one new really showed up, making the new kid a big deal.

3. You've been to school with most of your class since Kindergarten


Most of your graduating class has been together since Kindergarten, maybe even preschool, if your school has it. They've become part of your family, and you can honestly say you've grown up with your best friends.

4. You've had the same teachers over and over

Having the same teacher two or three years in a row isn't a real surprise. They know what you are capable of and push you to do your best.

5. Everyone knows everybody. Especially everyone's business.

Your graduating class doesn't exceed 150. You know everyone in your grade and most likely everyone in the high school. Because of this, gossip spreads like wildfire. So everyone knows what's going on 10 minutes after it happens.

6. Your hair color was a big deal

If it's not a natural hair color, then forget about it. No dyeing your hair hot pink or blue or you could expect a phone call to your parents saying you have to get rid of it ASAP.

7. Your school isn't like "Gossip Girl"

There is no eating off campus for lunch or casually using your cell phone in class. Teachers are more strict and you can't skip class or just walk right off of campus.

8. Sports are a big deal

Your school is the best of the best at most sports. The teams normally go to the state championships. The rest of the school that doesn't play sports attends the games to cheer on the teams.

9. Boys had to be clean-shaven, and hair had to be cut

If you came to school and your hair was not cut or your beard was not shaved, you were written up and made to go in the bathroom and shave or have the head of discipline cut your hair. Basically, if you know you're getting written up for hair, it's best just to check out and go get a hair cut.

10. Free dress days were like a fashion show

Wearing a school uniform every day can really drive you mad. That free dress day once a month is what you lived for. It was basically a fashion show for everyone, except for those upperclassmen who were over everything and just wore sweat pants.

Cover Image Credit: Authors Photos

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Should We Forgive The Racist Pasts Of Jeffree Star And James Charles?

When is it "acceptable" to move on from the past, if at all?

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The online beauty community is no stranger to scandal. Whether it's a problematic shade range or a site-wide hack that robbed customers of their money, brands make waves all the time. But what about the influencers, i.e. the beauty gurus — the people who post makeup tutorials, swatches, reviews, etc. onto Instagram, YouTube and Twitter?

They're pretty problematic, too. Let's break down some of the most famous and most infamous beauty gurus.

1. Jeffree Star

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Jeffree Star, or Jeffrey Steininger, is the over-the-top, former-pop-singer, wildly popular male beauty guru. He launched his own makeup brand, Jeffree Star Cosmetics, in 2014.

Star, though notably accepting of the LGBT+ community (which, as an openly gay man, he should be), has a long term history of making derogatory and racist comments.

At first glance, he seems to own up to his past racial slurs and racist comments (like telling a black woman that he wanted to throw battery acid on her skin and using the N-words) in an apology video where he declares that "the person that said those horrible, vile things... that person was depressed, that person was just angry at the world, that person felt like they were not accepted, that person was seeking attention."

He blames his past actions on depression and anger. We can kind of accept that, right?

That is, until more slurs come to light.

Jackie Aina, another beauty guru who is well known for her outspoken nature, took to Twitter in September of 2018 to say that she would no longer support Star as a black woman. Her Tweet featured an open letter to Star.

"I have not and will not excuse his blatantly racist behavior and — not his past references to me in derogatory terms, his use of the N words nor his efforts to eliminate spaces and opportunities for people of color," Ms. Aina wrote.

Around the same time, Star's former hairdresser posted photos of conversations he'd had with him in which he used the N-word, along with a video of him referring to Jackie Aina as a "gorilla" in 2017.

Back to the apology video: Star claims that those videos that showed him in an angry depression were taken 12 years ago. "I look at them and it just makes me sick to my stomach because I don't know who that person was," he said in reference to these old videos.

Well, Jeffree, I think that person is the same one that referred to a black woman as a gorilla and other derogatory terms.

2. James Charles

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James Charles Dickinson skyrocketed to popularity when his senior photos didn't properly accentuate his highlighter and he had them retaken with his own ring light. Shortly afterward, he became CoverGirl's first CoverBoy.

His first scandal happened in 2017 when he posted a now-deleted Tweet prior to a trip to Africa. "I can't believe we're going to Africa today omg what if we get Ebola?"

James deleted the Tweet almost immediately.

About nine months later, he took to Twitter again to make a formal apology video, in which he also apologized for other, older Tweets from when he was 13 that were also racist and, as he put it, ignorant.

"They did not come from a place of hate, they came from me being a really ignorant 13 year old that shouldn't have had a Twitter account," he said in the video.

Since James' 2017 public apology, he has been a proud advocate for inclusivity in the beauty community.

When the Tarte Shape Tape Foundation launched, James gave a review that called out the brand on their poor shade range.

When James released his eyeshadow palette collaboration with Morphe, he featured four distinctly different makeup artists on his channel to use his palette.

When James launched his line of athleisure, Sisters Apparel, he kept it size and gender inclusive with unisex clothes all available in sizes XS through 3XL.

So, where do we all draw the lines here?

Do we forgive James' and Jeffree's pasts? Do we call them out? Do we "cancel" them?

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