Sorry, Grandma

As an English major, or really any liberal arts major, you often hear, “So what are you going to do with your degree?”, or even worse, “Good luck finding a job with that”. Emphasis on the “that”. It’s like some kind of atrocity that I’ve chosen to study the written English language and the centuries of literature it has produced. Because for some people, the fact that my major will not lead me down a specific path to a predetermined profession makes it somewhat less valid than others. My family, for example, seems to fall into this category. When I told my parents I was changing my major (from nursing to English of all things), their only response was, “But why??” They couldn’t possibly fathom why I would want to give up my chance at a ‘real’, well-paying profession “just to read”. My sister’s response? “You’re wasting your intelligence”.

I spoke to my grandmother on the phone the other day. After the obligatory “How are you?’s, she steered the subject towards my upcoming graduation – and I knew what was coming: “So what are your plans for after graduation? Where are you applying to grad school? Will you have a job lined up for you?” I had to break it to her that “No, Grandma, I’m not going to grad school”. She was so disappointed. She doesn’t think I could possibly get a good job with my degree, regardless of the countless hours I’ve put into my schoolwork. To be fair, she did give me some credit for my communication skills, but I know she’s thinking how that’s not nearly enough to support me. What’s worse, I made the mistake of telling her I’ve considered law school if everything else fails. It was only to placate her, but I could feel her excitement through the phone. It was completely disappointing to hear that change in her voice—for her to be disappointed when I’m doing something that I absolutely love, but then for her to be over the moon about something purely for the fact that I “would have a real profession”. But what she doesn’t realize is that it’s not about money. Or prestige. Or a position of power or whatever else it is that she values. It’s about doing what I love and feeling like what I’m studying is actually worthwhile. I’ve learned to be more empathetic, more understanding. I’ve learned to be more open minded and to respect others’ opinions. I’ve just learned to be a better person in general. That means so much more to me than making money. So I hate to break it to you, Grandma, but I’m not going to be a lawyer.

-Haley Baldwin

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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

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

 

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