Fighting Rape Culture at UTC

Recently, UTC has undergone some major changes. No, I’m not just talking about the new Library or the new parking lot that’s being constructed. Nor am I talking about the freshmen dorms that are being built for the next couple of years. I am talking about the rape culture dominating news stations, newspapers, and even campus events. Over the past few years, a growing number of women (predominantly, but men also) have had the courage to bring charges against their aggressors on campus.

The growing presence of the UTC Women’s Center has been paramount in this, especially as the victims turned survivors have turned to mainstream audiences and media to tell their stories, casting a wider net for an audience. Unfortunately, in doing so, we have seen significantly more backlash against these survivors or at least a seeming indifference and hesitancy to move forward on a case.

This type of graphic perversion has only recently found its way into fictional mainstream settings, so to see it become a part of our daily reality is jarring for many people. They simply find it either hard to believe it, mostly because it is not easily seen tangibly. Typically a victim’s suffering is intangible – depression, anxiety, panic attacks, etc. These are things not easily noticeable by the unassuming public. But the person accused of assault will suffer more tangible consequences – prison time, expulsion, loss of job opportunities. The difference is not in their significance but in their visibility.

This is why some of the administrators have come under fire for losing testimonial evidence from several students, readmitting students found guilty of sexual assault, and the general mishandling of several Title IX procedures. Because of this, some new programs and measures have been put into effect, including UTC’s Know More, a Yes Means Yes policy, and bringing Katie Koestner, founder of Take Back the Night, to speak in the UC Auditorium. Whether these two new programs are reactionary or not, they are nevertheless a step in the right direction.

It is critical to raise awareness of not only helping those who have been victimized, but as well as helping those who may need the courage to be an intervening bystander. For instance, the most common reaction to being told that consent cannot be given while under the influence is “What?”

Rape isn’t just an act of sexual aggression by a stranger, it can happen to anyone by anyone, and changing a whole culture of victim blaming and excuses to one of respect and acceptance won’t happen overnight, but this sure is better than a misogynist maniac demanding an umbrella from a total stranger in a downpour then threatening her when she refuses, and letting him get away with it.

-Daniel McNeeley

Judgements

It’s funny how people judge one another by where they come from like that can actually make a person who they are. All kinds of things determine a person’s character; like who their parents are, the people they spend time with, their hobbies, their religion, their education, and the lessons they have taken from life.

I moved to Dunlap four years ago but I worked on Signal Mountain. It seems like both towns hate each other for the most part and I sensed that before I ever moved here. Dunlap believes Signal Mountain is full of stuck up rich people and Signal Mountain believes that Dunlap is full of redneck trash (this is just my observation). However, both of these stereotypes are true and false. I have met some of the most incredible people from both places and one stereotype can never encompass a whole group of people.

If I have learned anything in life it is that any preconceived notions you have about people before actually taking the time to know them should be ignored. People will always surprise you. It’s sad when the people you judged the hardest and think you know all about, actually turn out to be the most genuine of all, because let’s face it – we all judge. There are good, humble, hardworking people from Signal Mountain and there are people in Dunlap that would feed strangers.

There is selflessness and love in all people and it doesn’t matter where they come from. I believe that beautiful people are not born but made, and only the circumstances of their lives can make them who they are. There is good and bad in all people. You can never really know someone’s journey until you know them, and even then there are still secret parts to it that you can never understand. I will never regret being nicer to people than they deserve, even if they break my heart or attempt to crush my spirit. I will always try my best to be the bigger person. People are incredible and interesting and if you think you have them figured out before they even tell you anything about themselves then you are cheating yourself.

-Hannah Childress

The Zombies Coming Back

Fear the Walking Dead provided a surprisingly well-done first episode. It created a sense of tension, as well as a failing sense of community with the coming apocalypse.

Contrary to the original show, The Walking Dead, FTWD takes place in Los Angeles just before the Zombie infection begins. We are introduced with an ominous setting in a drug addict’s haven, and events begin to occur that help lead up to the zombie apocalypse that we have already known thanks to the original series. Yet instead of being immersed in the outbreak already underway, we are greeted with a still functioning civilization that is completely unaware that their lives are going to crumble, forcing them to survive off instinct.

The first episode gives the viewer a perfect sense of dramatic irony, as we constantly expect the next character we meet to be zombified and blood thirsty since we have been following TWD from the beginning. These characters, though, believe that the “disease”, as they call it, is merely just the flu going around. So you can feel the sense of “I know it’s coming,” you just aren’t exactly sure when the zombies will show, and they usually don’t.

While the characters are well done, I didn’t get a sense of complete depth with them. Our main focus is on a dysfunctional family. The newly wed husband and wife are teacher and counselor for a highschool. They have a daughter who is a Grade A student and a son who is a drug addict. We get a look into their life, which seems to be holding on by a thin string even before the outbreak. Yet I found myself lacking sympathy towards them. I could only really feel for the father who was juggling between an ex wife and son and his new family who seem to look at him as an outcast. The other characters lacked enough backstory to who they exactly were. That being said, I thought the casting and acting was well done.

There are quite a few cliché moments that I wished they had avoided. For instance, ignoring the characters who blatantly tell you about the zombies. Everyone is forgiven for ignoring the drug addicted son, but when you have another character saying the same thing, then it just becomes annoying to see the characters brush if off. Also a major cliché that is seen in many zombie related films is the characters staring in awe at the zombie. Even when it tried to attack them, they still kept trying to get close to it instead of running. Just do something already!

Overall, the Fear the Walking Dead pilot can be seen as a success for being a spin off series. Despite the clichés and lack of exposition for some characters, the first episode was very well done and well cast. The storywriters did an amazing job of capturing the suspense for the viewers. This episode is a must watch for any Walking Dead or zombie fan, and hopefully the rest of the series will prove to be equally exciting and thrilling as it goes on.

-John Nichols

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