Yik Yak at UTC

Yik Yak, a popular college app where users post anonymous messages, has stormed through the campus community for a few years now and brought harassment issues to light. While many of the posts can take on humorous aspects of life in college, many of them venture on to sexual harassment, sexism, racism, and other forms of harassment.

Since the controversial app was first released in 2013, there have been countless cases of cyber-bullying that have come up due to its anonymous nature. As it has become a sudden hit on college campuses across the country, this is a reason for alarm, especially since the authors of such yaks cannot be stopped or prevented. However, a post can be given up or down votes by other Yik Yak users, and if the post receives five or more down votes, then the entire post and any replies are taken down completely from the app.

Looking at UTC’s “herd,” a particular geographic location, sexual harassment and assault has been a major topic of conversation. The community can be deeply impersonal and harsh, reflecting an uninformed or unsympathetic position. However, there is also great pushback, as the community polices itself fairly well, with overly controversial posts being down voted off the app within a reasonable amount of time.

But there remains the issue of the app not being reliable. Like many social media platforms, what is posted on the app should not be assumed to be true, and although posts can be removed, there is no way to know if false accusations have further spread since originally posted. This can then lead to gossip around campus and social circles, which could be emotionally damaging to the victims of such rumors.

We do not need to necessarily blame the app itself, though, as cyberbullying was obviously not the initial intention of the creators. When negative posts are made, students have used their anonymity for good in order to shape the conversation in a more positive way, or to ban together to get the post removed. Despite all of the hatefulness that revolves around this app, there is a lot of good that actually happens. It can be an incredible tool for students to be able to communicate in an environment where they’re able to express things without the fear of being laughed at, or made fun of.

-Alex Heckert, volunteer blogger

Mastering the English Major Lifestyle – According to Me

It’s the beginning of the week.  My weekend involved hours of work, catching up on sleep, cleaning my house, late night talks with friends, homework assignments, paying all my money for concerts, hangouts, and Pabst Blue Ribbon.   I ponder what this week has in store for me.  I have to gather music and practice for RUF worship, meet new people, more work, study for tests, write papers, practice for our house concert, and lose more sleep trying to get to class on time.  No matter what your year is in college, you immediately have responsibilities that take up your schedule.  Sound familiar?  How in the world will I get all of this done so that I can write more short stories and finish John Steinbeck’s East of Eden?

There has to be a solution.

As an English major at UTC, I think the three most important things are homework, writing, and reading.  Homework is my archenemy.

I hear this conversation between my friend and I:

“How are those new poems gong?  Started anything new?”

“Nah, I’m behind on homework.  But I have new clever ideas that I want to get back to!”

“Right, right. Keep me updated!”

This has happened too many times.

I think that the first step in conquering these tasks is to either get ahead of homework, or always stay on top of it.  Ironically, homework has a mysterious force that is knocking at the door of our brains, eager to find a home to rest.  Homework is the key to decreasing the study time we put into tests and papers, and it eventually allows more available time to write.  If I am caught up on homework, I can write more.  Simple, right?

Secondly, I think that consistent writing is essential.  I know this sounds unrealistic since we do enough writing as it is, but developing your own voice is something that can’t be ignored.  English majors love to read and write, no matter how much stuff they have to get done.  It is what gives us encouragement in our own character and writing.

I know that some people are not confortable with sharing their writing, but this challenge has to be met if you want to further develop your voice.  Please, take a class with Professor Najberg or Professor Braggs, and then you’ll be set.

Lastly, I think reading inspires better writing.  This is where I might lose some of my readers, especially if you’re trying to read a novel a week in class, and on top of writing papers and finishing King Lear.  I get it.  I trust that the materials read in certain classes are capable of influencing better writing; however, wouldn’t it be better if we could shred through 20 pages a night in a novel?  I like that thought a lot.  Think about what your schedule will entail after college when there will be more tasks that need to be met, so why not take advantage of the time now?

I challenge myself and other students to live this life style.  Maybe it will be too stressful or not worth it. But I know from experience, that this challenge is worth practicing and mastering.  Now get a friend and start sharing your creative work.

– Adam Jones

Everything You Need to Know About the Biggest Subculture in Chattanooga

Among the differing age groups and interests roaming around our metropolitan city, there is a subculture in our midst that you probably know nothing about, or at least I didn’t. I was enlightened on this massive and alternative lifestyle when I became the newest employee of Chatt Town Skate Park, nestled right by our very own Finley Stadium. While tiny in comparison to its neighboring Tennessee Pavilion, it has a larger presence in the community than most realize. I’ve seen people skating my whole life, but this new employment opportunity has revealed a deeper meaning to the sport: woven within each skateboard, and even skate parks like the one I’m employed at, is a story, one that is mixed with dedication, art, and sometimes a lot of blood.

Chatt Town Skate Park is home to bright blue ramps, rickety chairs and bleachers, and numerous skaters of all ages. Children come in with their loving, and probably terrified, parents, and even Chattanooga’s one and only Comfort Skate Shop’s owner comes in from time to time. The younger skaters stare in awe at the older kid’s tricks, dreaming of the day when they will be capable of the same things on these ramps, and they probably will. Current employees and regulars have been coming to the park for years, and they have left their marks with stickers covering the vending machines and signs, and their names and illustrations painting the bathroom walls. After watching these boys, and a few girls, for hours every day, I have come to the conclusion that skating goes beyond just something to do for fun. These people eat, breath, and sleep skating, and the way they go about it is simply amazing.

One of the most popular defining features of skating is the lo-fi skate footage that can be found by the boatload on youtube, and even purchasable online and through skate shops. Before working at Chatt Town, I had the privilege of attending a skate movie premier with my friend and coworker, Herbert Brown. The premiere was held in the basement of Comfort Skate Shop, and the feature was projected onto the wall with tired but happy skaters surrounding in anticipation on pull out chairs. The feature was titled Threads, and was directed by a Chattanooga local and long time skater, Alex Rose. His other films, including Ghost Town and Videophile, can be found on tennskate.com. I had no idea what to expect before viewing the film, but I sat awestruck for the next 37 minutes in the dark room. The film was evidence of the teamwork and dedication that comes along with the sport, and was put together in such an artistic and professional manner that I began to see skating as a form of art. Alex thanked the audience following the film, and embraces and smiles were shared. These people coming from differing backgrounds and interests became one on that night, much like they do every day at the park.

While many directors take a similar approach to Alex Rose’s, most of the videos found on skating have a different meaning. I’ve seen videos where skaters tear apart abandoned houses, ask strangers the most random of questions, often resulting in comical clips, and even segments of skaters puking or running from the cops. These differing approaches, including a multitude of music and a few cat clips, all lead to the same conclusion: whether these videos are serious, comical, outrageous, or straight up funny, no one can argue that these kids do not have skill.

Another defining element of this community that I have picked up on is skating crews. Most, but not all, skaters affiliate with a specific crew that they ride, film, and bond with. After talking to a few of the regulars at the park, it is clear that within these crews, there isn’t a single leader. In fact, in skating, they see each other as equals. I’ve never heard of a skater refer to another person as a “bad skater,” only offering that they may need improvements in some areas. Crew names can be seen scratched on chairs at the park, spray painted on walls, and even on t shirts. The most popular local ones include skaterdie, FUCrue, and WPM. These can be seen not as a way to separate a specific skater, but as just another example of how skating is a very communal activity.

Skating and all of the activities affiliated with it are unfortunately putting these skaters at risk every day. Street skating is illegal in most cities, including our nation’s capital, and even in normally permissive Chattanooga. The sport is seen as an “unreasonable risk of harm to pedestrians and property,” according to Chattanooga’s law makers. If seen skating throughout the city, the police will confiscate the board, and give the rider a hefty ticket. However, this hardly seems to stop these headstrong and determined men. On top of the risk of receiving a ticket is the even greater risk of injury. While this vigorous lifestyle is a dangerous one, the skaters are persistent. Some injuries lead to the skaters to be out of the game for months on end, and can not only be crippling towards their physical state, but also their mental one. Skaters are encouraged by doctors to stay off the break or sprain for a certain amount of time, but these skaters are relentless, often taking off their boot and picking up their board early, further proving their love for the sport.

While the secrets of the skate world are slowly revealed to me at work, I become more fascinated by the way this subculture lives. Like generations before them, the skaters of Chattanooga continue to keep the tradition alive, as well as adding in their own artistic twist. It is perplexing to see these boys form bonds and form a community within the walls of the long forgotten Chatt Town Skate Park, but something tells me that these talented men and women will soon be a force to be reckoned with.

-Caroline Bible

 

Hot or Not: The Tinder Epidemic

When asking fellow peers, coworkers, and even flat out strangers their opinions on Tinder, I received a multitude of answers. Some giggled and mocked the app, a few recalled rare occurrences where it came through for them, and one went on to tell me how I could improve my “tinder game.” However, the one thing they all had in common was that they had all, in one way or another, been familiarized with the app that has taken our age by storm. For those who don’t know what tinder is, just think of an app which is synced through your facebook account which establishes a profile for you. Your profile includes up to six pictures, a short bio, and other users of the app are shown your facebook friends and interests you both have in common. The users you are shown are based on your location, and you can do one of two things: swipe right for yes, or left for no. If both users swipe right to the other’s profile, a match is created, and you are able to message each other. What happens at that point is entirely up to you. Around the same time I moved to Chattanooga, I purchased my very first smart phone. I decided to try tinder to see what all of the hype was about. I’ll admit, it was intriguing and exciting. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was that interested me, but the idea that I had a whole city to meet and could filter through these users with my fingertip was very empowering. Besides, the gratifying feeling of getting a new match was flattering, even if I was being solely judged based on a few pictures and words hand selected by me. As time went on, I slowly began to lose interest in the pastime. It was difficult to make the same small talk with multiple strangers at once, and had one too many creepy text messages from one user that I regrettably gave my number to. Months after deleting my app, I have only stayed in contact with one person I met on tinder, and that is only thanks to awkward encounters on campus. Not once did I go on a date with a user, have more than a twenty minute conversation with them face to face, or even consider them a friend. In fact, on more than one occasion I’ve met another user coincidentally, and neither of us admitted to previously knowing each other via the app. So what’s all of the talk about? Maybe I’m not very good at the Tinder scene, and should take my coworker’s advice on improving my game. However, is it really something that we should even consider mastering? While the new notification of another stranger finding you attractive is appealing, it slowly removes our ability to socialize in person. Each new innocent swipe of our fingers is taking down the promise of face to face connections brick by brick. Tinder is an ingenious idea targeted towards our age, but my hope is that one day we can completely remove our mobile devices from our social lives. A synced app should not help us determine who to talk to based on their best selfies or similar interests, so please, spare yourself the embarrassment of running into an old tinder match in class or even your place of work. Introduce yourself by complementing a band shirt or their movie ticket selection. While interactions like these have slowly been removed from our everyday activities, these genuine conversations are what matter most. Nervous introductions in person are what lead us to find our future best friends, or even down the wedding aisle, not a swipe right because you both like the same independent film director or weird band you listened to in the 8th grade but forgot to take off of your facebook interests. Real interactions are what count.

-Caroline Bible

What I Learned From Visiting My Old Home

  1. Go to all of the places you missed the most while you were away. Even if the porch where you used to idly talk with large groups of friends is now empty, go. Even if there are no good movies playing in the local theatre, go see one. Buy an overpriced mug or t shirt from your favorite coffee shop, if only to have one more thing to hold onto on your travel back.
  2. Go see all of your old friends and acquaintances. Even the ones you don’t want to see. Especially the ones you’ve lost touch with, if only for a minute. Ask them about themselves. Let them do all the talking. Don’t lose touch with the people who made you, you. Hug your best friend too many times. Stay up until 5 in the morning looking at old pictures with your sister. Hug people you never have before because you don’t know if it’s the last time you will be able to. Draw an “X” on your hand and sneak into a bad punk show full of high schoolers, just for old time’s sake.
  3. They probably still think about you too. I don’t have to tell you who because I know you already have a certain person in mind. No one knows what could come from it, but an essential part of life is embracing the beautiful unknown.
  4. You’re going to miss it. All of it. You will miss coming home to your roommates and embracing them because of how much you missed them, no matter how much you all fight about whose turn it is to do the dishes. You will miss sitting on your balcony on Tuesday nights with nothing to do but talk. You may even miss your 8 a.m.’s. Ok… probably not that, but you’re going to miss all of the small things just as much as you miss your high school friends, and going to high school football games, even if only for just 15 minutes. I guarantee you will miss it because life is ever changing, and the things you took for granted or were ungrateful for will be the things you long for the most in a year. So open your eyes. Soak in everything. Remember the smells, the tastes, and the sights. Take too many pictures. Tell people you love them all of the time. Say things you would normally leave unsaid because pretty soon, you will regret not doing so.

-Caroline Bible

The Sequoya Review Goes to Oxford!….Mississippi that is

For those of you who may believe that the literary capitals of the world are always elsewhere, look no further than Oxford, Mississippi, a land filled with a campus that hosts numerous writing and literary conferences throughout the year and the home of none other than William Faulkner. At the end of March, four of the Sequoya Review staff including Emily Cahoon, Courtney Lachapelle, as well as myself plus the poet Kelly Myracle, attended the Southern Literary Festival hosted by Ole Miss. The three day conference featured panels hosted by published poets, authors, and screenplay writers who were willing to give us brief lectures on the secrets of their trade, how to get published, and as well as simply sharing their inspiring work with us.

We had the honor of hearing the poetry of Carey Scott Wilkerson, whose readings from his book Threading Stone inspired us so much that we simply had to tell him in person (while also handing him a copy of our magazine of course!). In Threading Stone he covers the motif of Ariadne leading Theseus through the labyrinth, but he covers it in such an astounding number of ways and expounds it to seemingly unrelated subjects that you are left breathless at the leaps his verse make and in awe of the unnerving connection that is made at the end of it all. To find out more about Mr. Wilkerson, click here

Besides the poetry panel, we also attended a class which covered an anthology that addresses the racism in William Faulkner’s work by collecting the African American poets response to said body of work. Chiyuma Elliot hosted the event alongside Derrick Harriell, and although the anthology has yet to be released, the teaser we recieved definitely make it a book to look out for.

One of the milestones of our trip that we feel as though no one should go without when taking a trip to Oxford is the “Square Books” store that occupies two floors, and has two other stores – “Square Jr.” for kids, and “Off Square Books” for those of you looking for either a gag book, coffee table reading, or anything out of ordinary. In a world occupied by corporate chain bookstores, it is was thrilling to see a book seller thriving from open to close.

Another milestone that is worth seeing is William Faulkner’s estate called Rowan Oaks. Not only is this the place where many of Faulkner’s works were conceived, the location itself is stunning, with magnolia’s towering over what must have at one time been an exquisite garden while it was maintained. The stables nearby and troughs attest to the fact that the rural south was a living locale to him, just as it comes through in so many of his works.

It was during this trip that Kelly received her award and recognition for earning 1st Place in the festival’s poetry competition. Also, the Sequoya Review for the 2013-14 issue won 2nd place in the “Literary Magazine” category. Special thanks to all of our staff, writers, and poets that made this possible!

I would like to also give a special thanks to the UTC English Department for funding the trip, as well as Rowan Johnson and Sybil Baker for accompanying us.

—- Rachel Ford

Who are we writing for?

If you write, write anything at all, you’ve probably written something that was not so good. It could have been a first draft that nobody saw or it could have been a final draft turned in at the last minute that you wish nobody saw. And it possibly could have been something that you loved with all your heart and everybody else hated. Something that you wanted to read over and over again, that you understood completely and was exactly what you were trying to convey: a small part of who you are. Then disaster struck as others read it and pointed out this flaw and that flaw, and used words that destroyed this little piece of your soul that was carefully put down on paper. They just didn’t get it.

What happens then?

Writing is a world where rejection comes by the tenfold and acceptance is a small percent. Critique builds up our writing and is there to make us better, but sometimes it tears us down. It is nearly impossible to take a step back and see what others see when you are the author. Because you get what you were writing better than anybody else-you wrote it! There is always time to go back and revise. At times, we know it needs it. At other times, it is just down right disheartening. At these times it is not okay to give up, hide under a blanket and succumb to a life without words. We must ask ourselves: who are we writing for? The answer should be: ourselves. I am writing for me. And if people hate something that I love, that is okay. It doesn’t matter. I can still pull out this or that essay and receive joy and satisfaction. Maybe this won’t be shared with anyone else, but it accomplishes what I wanted it. And maybe someday I will take all the critique that I learned from and write something that not only I will love, but others will love too. But if not, that’s okay. I’m writing for me.

Chopping Down on Writer’s Block

 

One of the biggest challenges for me as a writer is coming up with something worth writing about and more importantly, something others will find worth reading. Often times I notice that instead of working around that obstacle, I let it block me from writing anything, which isn’t good for someone who aspires to be a famous author one day. Working toward a minor in creative writing however challenges me to face my writer’s block everyday. It also allows me to explore other types of writing styles and techniques and how to incorporate the things I’m learning into my own style.

 

In one of my writing classes, I read a literacy narrative by Peter Elbow, an author of several books and papers and a retired English professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. While discussing Elbow, my professor mentioned a writing concept Elbow commonly discusses: free writing. Free writing is an exercise where you set a time limit, however long or short you want, find paper and something to write with, and start writing whatever is on your mind. Your pen or pencil isn’t supposed to leave the paper until time runs out.

 

When I first heard about this, I honestly thought I would still have nothing interesting to write about. I thought there must be some rules or topic I had to use. Nope! The only thing you have to do is keep going. Don’t stop to re-read what you just wrote or edit. You just simply write whatever is on your mind whether that is your opinion on Miley Cyrus, what you’ve done so far that day, or the fact that your hand hurts from writing. Just keep on writing. Trust me, you might be surprised to find out where this little exercise takes you. I certainly was!

 

           

 

Meacham Writer’s Workshop: Building Community through Writing

Held during fall and spring semester, Meacham Writer’s Workshop is a three day conference which invites lovers of poetry and prose to listen and interact with its authors. Founded by the late Jean Meacham, a former UTC professor, it was Jean’s dream that the workshop be a free and public event where both professional and amateur writers could communicate and grow in their work. In previous years, Meacham has boasted readings by Pulitzer Prize winning poets such as Philip Levine and James Tate alongside some of our own published and highly awarded creative writing professors like Earl Braggs and Rebecca Cook. This year on Oct. 24th through the 26th  multiple Meacham’s readings were given throughout the day within seminar halls around campus and in local downtown venues. The final morning of the conference concluded with a workshop in which writers who had submitted their pieces were given the opportunity to hear constructive criticism from visiting writers.

Meacham Writer’s Workshop is a community where writing is shared, appreciated and nurtured. Cody Taylor, student coordinator of Meacham from Hendersonville TN., elaborated on this idea by stating, “[Meacham] is the cornerstone of the creative writing community. It’s an opportunity you don’t get at other colleges. It allows students and writers to interact as peers.”  The appeal of the conference is not solely for those trying to improve their writing skills, the conference is a free occasion to be entertained by some of the greatest writers in the business. From non-fiction writers to poets the genres are varied and vastly unique.  Halley Corapi, a junior at UTC from Knoxville TN. and a spectator at Friday night’s reading, had this to say about Meacham, “It’s always great even if I’ve heard the poem before. I feel like I’m getting something new from it each time.”  There is something time honored about Meacham in a time where writing programs are underfunded or nonexistent. As Carrie Meadows, assistant director of Meacham Writer’s Workshop, explained, “I think there is a consistency about Meacham, people get captivated by it. It’s an anchor for writer’s to know that it will always be there.”

Cheesy Love stories: Unrealistic Expectations

            I grew up watching A Cinderella Story, Mary Kate and Ashley go to Paris, and What a Girl Wants. Movies like these are what helped me shape a perception about life: conflict and immediate resolution. I grew up with the idea in my head that, as a girl, I was supposed to find a man to guide me and direct my future. If I encountered any sort of difficult situation, it would only last for the length of one angsty three minute, thirty-second song. At the end of every movie, everything would be simply resolved and fit together like a puzzle.

            These stories gave me unrealistic expectations of life. Problems aren’t resolved as quickly as they are in movies; it’s more complicated than that. Growing up, I also learned something very important: there doesn’t have to be a man to “save me” from all of my problems. I’m perfectly capable of making decisions on my own. These movies also all ended in “happily ever afters” with Prince Charming. Because I had this idea installed in my head from an early age, I had to learn the hard way that “happily ever after” doesn’t need a Prince Charming. I also learned that having a Prince Charming doesn’t guarantee you a “happily ever after”.

            Sure, love stories are cute. Don’t get me wrong; I still love to watch these movies. Nicolas Sparks’ The Notebook and The Last Song strike a cord in my heart and tear ducts every time I watch them. I absolutely believe in love and soul mates. I’ve just noticed lately how rarely things like that happen in real life. If you drop your cell phone, Chad Michael Murray isn’t going to search the school to find out whose it is. If you yell at Liam Hemsworth for spilling a milkshake on your shirt, he’s probably going to leave you alone instead of continuing to pester you until you fall in love with him. There are plot holes in almost every love story. When I’m watching a movie like this, I always hear a voice in my head at some point in the movie saying, “this would never happen”. Basically, my problem with these movies is that they blow everything out of proportion. I believe that there are perfect moments in life, as opposed to the perfect endings that are displayed in Hollywood’s movies.