Should Voting be mandatory for all US citizens 18 and up?

By: Michelle Gonzalez and Sam Landau

During our class discussions we have touched upon many important topics. Sam and I thought it was only necessary to cover the topic of voting and maniates put together as we have just gone through the craziest election. We have touched upon whether voting should be mandatory for all US citizens 18 and up. Well discussing with the class we have gained some knowledge of our fellow peers and their understanding on voting and the rights that we have as a community. 

We opened up the diccion with “ Should voting be mandatory for all US citizens 18 and up”, we only had one person agree with this statement while the rest of the class disagreed. Everything we picked up was that most people do not have the resources to make these decisions nor even be able to take off work to go out and vote. They believed there would have to be incentives to conduct this mandate. There was a statement made that one peers father lived in a country where voting is mandatory for all citizens and if they did not comply they would be fined up to $100, and she continued to tell us she knows people who would just take the fine because they could not ethically vote because A, they were not educated enough and B they did not agree with either candidate running. 

By the end of our discussion we concluded with another poll of who believed voting should be mandated for all us citizens 18 and up and that one person who believed it should be a law, changed her views and now has a clear understanding as to why her views have changed for the better. 

On June 4th, 1919 congress passed and ratified on August 18, 1920 the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote.  The 19th amendment legally guarantees American women the right to vote. Achieving this milestone required a lengthy and difficult struggle—victory took decades of agitation and protest. The United States has had their ups and downs with voting rights and in our present day, we have finally reached an all time freedom of speech for all americans. Being able to vote is not only a pregiage but it should be an honor for those who may not have been able to in the past. Some people in the world still are not able to vote for who is going to lead their country. Voting should be a choice not a force.

Overall the deliberation was a success, we got to hear everyone’s point of view and everyone was respectful of those opinions, being shared. It was a clear understanding that everyone was not for the voting mandate nor believed this law could ever really be enforced with the Americans and the government we have. Sam and I believe that voting should be used for your voice and opinions to shared if you do care to speak up and make a change. 

Gender Reveal Party – Synopsis

By Sydney Flem & Ryn Montgomery

In our class deliberation about Gender Reveal Parties, we began by discussing what these parties are and whether or not they are harmful. Most of the class initially agreed that the parties themselves are not harmful and should be left up to the discretion of the couple. As we progressed in our conversation, however, it became clear that the relevance of these parties is small when compared to the, at times restrictive and harmful, gender ideologies that are deeply entrenched within our society.

We asked questions such as: “Do gender reveal parties decide a child’s gender identity before they’re able to have a say?” and “What age should a child be when it becomes appropriate for a parent to acknowledge and embrace a child’s gender identity as something other than their gender assigned at birth?” In response to the first question, it was noted that the ideas about gender behind these parties can create a limiting mindset in parents when it comes to embracing gender fluidity. Once a gender has not only been decided, but also publicly celebrated, it can create confusion and difficulty in the future if a child decides that they do not identify with what they were assigned. The second question was left somewhat open ended by the class as there did not seem to be an agreed upon age at which one can solidly identify their gender. Instead, the class discussed how furthering the need for a label on one’s gender throughout childhood and adolescence can create more pressure and uncertainty than is needed. Parents should be open to their child’s expression of self regardless of how it looks on the spectrum of gender. There should be open communication on both ends as parent and child work to create an environment that is accepting and welcoming of how one chooses to identify and express themselves.

There was also a point at which the conversation turned to questions of safety and visibility for those who choose to go against “gender-norms” and the implications that tightly held ideals about boys and girls can have on the development of children. While gender can be seemingly harmless in many ways, there is real cause for concern over how those who have stepped away from it have been treated and discriminated against. How do we protect these people? And how do we begin to break down the ideas that lead others to believe who they are is wrong? At the end of our discussion, we asked the question “does gender have any real value in society: yes or no?” Through a show of hands, the class unanimously agreed that it does not, which lends itself to further discussion of how we, not only as a class, but as members of a larger society can begin to adopt more fluid ideas and actions that promote this belief.

Celebrity Culture in the Age of the Internet

Celebrities have been an integral part of our culture for centuries, but what defines a celebrity and how they are viewed has changed drastically over the years. In the past, celebrities were mainly seen “in their element.” This could be doing films, music, sports, or specific events that celebrated these skills like red carpets or award shows, but now, we see celebrities everywhere and doing everything. Of course, paparazzi have been around for years and magazines consistently publish these shots and stories, but with social media, the celebrities themselves are the ones giving the public this access. This access as well as the ability to interact directly with the individual has allowed for the increase of parasocial relationships, where media users imagine a friendship or connection between them and a media persona despite having no or limited interactions. This can become very unhealthy for both parties, with the media users having unstable attachments and feeling entitled to more of the media persona’s lives, and media personas experiencing pressure to keep up with a relationship they do not know about.

Additionally, the internet and social media have made it easier to voice criticism for celebrities, which can have positive and negative effects. With “cancel culture,” it has become very common for a celebrity’s behaviors, comments, or actions to be called out for being problematic. This has been very positive for exposing cases of racist behaviors, sexist remarks, or sexual assault, sometimes even resulting in major change. But on the other hand, many have criticized this “cancel culture” for wrongly accusing individuals of things they did not do, something that was taken out of context, or something that was many years ago and does not represent who they have become. Many of these instances must be looked at individually, making it hard to come to a general consensus, but it is clear that this is a problem of the internet age, and not something film stars of the early 1900s were worried about.

Finally, the internet and especially social media has made it much easier for people to become a celebrity. Tik Tok has skyrocketed many young people to fame, such as Charli D’Amelio, Emily Uribe, Brittany Broski, or Remi Bader. There have been internet celebrities before on YouTube and Vine, but the transition from online to mainstream fame was not as quick or easy. The speed at which these people gain fame may change what defines a celebrity because it blurs the line between everyday person and celebrity, making this a line that can be crossed overnight. The internet and social media have changed what it means to be a celebrity as well as how we interact with them, but are these changes positive or negative? What will become of celebrity culture in the future, will the lines continue to be blurred or will things drastically change once again?

UNPAID VS PAID INTERNSHIPS

Leigh Bauer and Britini Dunn

Many internships are unpaid, leading to positions being filled by wealthier students that do not have tuition and bills to pay. While internships can offer valuable experience, this experience is limited to few. Companies often hire students for unpaid work and have been criticized for exploitation. Internships can be seen as ways for companies to get away with unpaid labor, which is why the Department of Labor tried to clamp down on unpaid internships in 2010 to no avail. Having an unpaid internship is a luxury many cannot afford, yet it is still accepted and encouraged in society as an “experience.” The National Association of Colleges and Employers Center for Career Development reports that employers value unpaid internship experience and often prioritize students that have had those opportunities.

One organization looking to increase the quantity of paid internship programs nationwide is Pay Our Interns. The organization advocates for “equitable access to professional career paths through the implementation of paid internships countrywide.” According to the About Us page on their website, Pay Our Interns’ goal is to develop pathways for advancement for young professionals, create a more equitable workforce, and increase diverse leadership teams in companies nationwide. So far, the organization has worked with the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and several Senate offices to create their own paid internship programs. Most recently, the organization partnered with the brand Next of Us to create a $50,000 fund that unpaid college interns can apply to for financial assistance while pursuing unpaid or underpaid internships. Currently, the organization is working with the State of California to pass AB 2437, a bill that would fund relocation stipends for California Capital interns and service stipends for interns at district offices.

So, who’s to blame for the lack of paid internship programs in America? Are unpaid internships a means of exploitation? Or, do they allow for more internship opportunities to be available? Do unpaid internships perpetuate income inequality in the United States? How can the system change so paid internships are the norm? 

The Different Narratives of Online Dating and Dating Apps

Online dating appears to be a practical way to date for most people nowadays considering all the very niche dating apps out there for everyone’s use (most free and some cost money). Online dating has not only disrupted more traditional ways of meeting romantic partners, its rise also comes at a time when norms and behaviors around marriage and cohabitation also are changing as more people delay marriage or choose to remain single.

According to a Pew Research Study, roughly 60 percent of participants have had positive experiences with dating platforms. Many people have success finding romantic partners online, whether they’re looking for something casual or long term. The positive outlook of online dating has benefits including ease and efficiency, expanded options, a sense of control and more vetting options prior to dates. 

According to the same study, some 57% of Americans who have ever used a dating site or app say their own personal experiences with these platforms have been very or somewhat positive. Still, about four-in-ten online daters (42%) describe their personal experience with dating sites or apps as at least somewhat negative. Data from a 2020 Pew Research Center study confirms that many women are experiencing some form of harassment on dating sites and apps like receiving sexually explicit messages or images they hadn’t asked for. A few disadvantages of online dating that people experience are: 

  • Online dating may attract the wrong types of partners
  • People often don’t look like they do in their pictures
  • Online dating is rather shallow
  • You will not make the same level of connection as with traditional methods of dating 
  • The potential of stalkers and sexual predators is heightened and you can not be certain of everyone’s intentions online

We have always dealt with the issues of online predators and the media has pushed those cautions onto young children and parents especially. Do dating apps fuel this problem we have and has it made it worse? Is it as bad as reality shows and TV/Movies series make the dangers out to be? Or are we using that as an excuse to not accept these non traditional methods of dating and meeting partners/people?

Violence Against Women on the MTA: After Deliberation

As a class, we have discussed many topics of importance within our community. We decided to focus in on the violence against women. More specifically our focus was on violence against women on the MTA. Through leading the class deliberation on this topic, we have gained some insight on the views others have regarding this issue.

Our first question for the group was, “What is your comfort level with using public transportation in NYC? ” Most of our participants said they felt indifferent because they depend so heavily on it for their main mode of transportation. Most said they didn’t feel necessarily safe using public transportation in NYC but didn’t ever let that stop them from using it when needed.

Secondly, we asked students “How do you feel about the measures being taken in the local government to prevent crimes against women and other minority backgrounds on public transportation? ” A few students shared that they have witnessed Mayor Adams plan in action to “make the subways safer”. Many people felt that not much was being done to effectively make the MTA safer yet still open to all. A general feeling that Mayor Adams is covering the issue up by throwing police at the situation. Most students felt this was useless or poor use of police as resources because so many are known to racially profile and lead with aggression.

Our third question was, “Do you think that women are more often targeted in MTA assaults and crimes?” Most in the group thought that women are typically more targeted because they are often seen as weaker. We also discussed how it is not only women but most minorities are the main targets of MTA crimes including members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Finally, our last question was, “What steps should be taken in order to making public transportation more safe? Is there a solution that still keeps public transportation accessible to all individuals?” The general consensus was that this is a deeply rooted systemic issue that will require many steps to being solving it. Homelessness and the lack of resources or those properly trained to handle those who may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol are some of the main issues with violence on the MTA. Aside from this, the training of police officer, who are supposed to be seen as a solution to this issue, are often known to abuse this power they are given.

Lastly, we allowed for everyone to give final thoughts or views on the topic. Participants shared their final views including the feelings about police aggression and the dangers it could increase with the addition of NYPD to the subways. Overall the deliberation showed that many people agreed that women are more prone to violence on the MTA systems and the road to fixing this issue is a long and winding one.

Teenagers on Social Media: A Deliberation

April 5, 2022, we sat down as a class and discussed the idea of teenagers and their relationship with social media. Our focus was this; do you feel as though the age requirement for access to social media should be raised? Why?

To accomplish this, it started with a poll; do you feel as though the age requirement for access to social media should be raised? It was met with a unanimous show of hands for no. For reference, although each social media application varies with their age requirements, the average age requirement between the apps is 12 years old. 

Social media falls under a large umbrella, so we chose to take multiple different aspects of it and form them into five questions to effectively reach and deliberate this posed question to the best of our abilities:

  1. Have you ever felt your mental health being affected by social media? Why or why not?
  2. Do you feel as though generations (ours included) have grown up too quickly due to the influence of social media?
  3. How have influencers and, “influencer culture” altered your social media experience? How have influencers changed pop culture?
  4. Are there any specific social media platforms that you feel are more, “toxic,” or affected your mental health more than others? (Tiktok, Snapchat, Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr)
  5. How can we address and solace the problem of the mental health crisis within social media? Do you think there is a solution?

The general consensus from the participants was that in their earlier years on social media, specifically middle school and high school days, was where they felt their mental health was more affected by social media than it is today. We came to the conclusion that this was through the content posted versus the amount of likes on their specific pages, which is something that piqued interest, as due to responses contradicting this, Instagram even created a “Hide Like Count” feature. In our deliberation, the idea of the “fear of missing out,” or FOMO, due to the content they saw from others caused more anxiety and stress than anything. 

The sexualization of teens through social media was also a topic of conversation that brought about new discoveries and opinions amongst the group. Teens today are forced to grow up too quickly due to the high amount of social media access and usage. They are able to consistently look up to these wealthier, older people on the internet and basically get a step by step guide on how to look older, do their makeup, and experience others growing up with them, which is something we had when we were teens, but not to this extent. In discussion, the tween era being missing is something that drove this point home. 

You cannot talk about social media and its effects on users without talking about influencers; they are social media. Overall, through deliberation there is consistent common ground with the idea that influencers are a positive aspect of social media, as they are more “real,” and are able to create communities that are more progressive and accepting. An important topic that was brought up was the idea that with social media as it is now, teenagers are able to choose who to idolize and let represent their content and beliefs, whereas before the era of teenagers across social media, Hollywood decided for us. 

Overall, we want real. The narrative of Hollywood choosing is over, drastically due to the teenage use and influence of social media and who they choose to let influence culture today. Through deliberation, we came to the conclusion that social media apps and platforms that allow for anonymity as the most toxic to not only us personally, but teeangers and other users across multiple demographics as well. This was also paired with the popular opinion that social media with easier access to larger-reaching audiences allow for more arguing and toxicity as well. The platforms we discussed the most were AskFM, TikTok, Twitter, and Reddit for this.

Lastly, we posed our final question; how can we address the issue? Is there a solution to the problem? Overall, we were once again met with productive conversation and the general conclusion that the best way to deal with teenagers on social media and its effects on people’s mental health is to first look within yourself. The idea of therapy and personal development were brought up on multiple occasions. We have the power on social media, and we can choose how often we’re on it, what we see, and can make changes within ourselves to ensure proper use for ourselves and teenagers around us. Not only more individualistic solutions versus social media wide solutions, but new conversations in society will reflect on the negativity and content seen on social media. 

To finish off our deliberation, we re-polled. Do you feel as though the age requirement should be raised for access to social media? Although met with fantastic deliberation, the opinion was still unanimous for no, the age requirement should not be raised.

Teenagers on Social Media?

An entire generation is facing the worst mental health decline than seen ever before. This could be attributed to many issues such as spikes of various tragic events in our developmental age (school shootings, terrorism, debt, pandemics, recessions). What I would like to look at is how the recent insurgence of technology and the even more recent “social media boom” has hurt us Gen Z’ers.

            How has an entire generation been able to be so close together through the advancements in communicative technology but have never felt more alone? Gen Z is the most depressed, anxious, and fragile generation to exist. This generation was given access to the internet at a very young age. Websites like Club Penguin were designed to be chatrooms for children. Facebook grew popularity in the early 2000’s, the same time most of the generation attended elementary and middle school.

            So how did this all go so wrong? Now, almost every teenager in the United States is on some type of social media. The exact percentage is 97%. There are also so many networks to choose from. We’ve got Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Facebook, etc. First, we should look at the profiles who are dominating these platforms.

            The Kardashian/Jenner family hold several spots in the top 10 most followed accounts on Instagram. The irony behind that is most of their content on this platform is curated or fake. These pages with hundreds of millions of followers are flooded with photoshop, plastic surgery, and millions of likes and complimentary comments. They are not the only ones doing this however. It is what fills most user’s feeds.

            Put a 15 year old girl on these same platforms and she is going to want to achieve that same type of approval and praise. The teenage years are already tough enough to experience because you are constantly comparing yourself to those around you while trying to figure out your own identity. To put these vulnerable teens under a microscope to be analyzed at every angle is extremely problematic.

            Several studies have also shown how dangerous the like system can be to fragile minds. In May 2021 we saw Instagram give users the ability to remove being able to see likes on their own profiles and entire feeds.

            A survey conducted by The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago showed parents concerns about the negative effects their teens have been facing from being on social media and what they do about it.  31% limit how much the phone can be used, 23% limit when the phone can be used, 11% limit where the phone can be used, and 35% do all of the above. How much blame can we be putting into parenting when these social media conglomerates have a profile age restriction starting at only 13?

Pace University and Covid-19

On March 3rd, 2022, almost exactly two years since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Pace University announced that they would be moving their Covid-19 Alert Level from Yellow to Green on all campuses effective Monday, March 7th. According to Pace University, the shift from Yellow to Green indicates that “COVID-19 cases are rare, and transmission is controlled.” This directly follows New York City’s Mayor Eric Adams’ announcement to end two pandemic-era policies that have become fixtures of city life for many residents: requiring people entering restaurants, entertainment venues and fitness centers to show proof of vaccination, and mandated masking in schools for most students. 

Pace University’s new guidelines are confusing to make sense of in some cases, like how you are required to wear a mask in classrooms and elevators, but free to go without in all other areas of the school. However, these changes have mostly been received positively amongst Pace students who are eager to embrace a ‘New Normal’. 

Towards the beginning of January 2022, the feeling in New York City was hopefulness as it was announced the city was seeing a “rapid decline” in Covid-19 cases, and we were beginning to emerge from the surge driven by the Omicron variant. But then a new wave hit which urged us to proceed with caution, and more than 2,300 New Yorkers died of the coronavirus in the month of January alone. Still, cases were down and during the final week of January it was reported that 75 percent of all city residents were fully vaccinated against Covid-19. That includes 85 percent of adults and 76 percent of adolescents. 

More recently, not even a month after the announcement to end pandemic policies in the city, New York City is seeing another surge in Covid cases, with a 31 percent increase from the average two weeks ago. Since the beginning of the pandemic, at least 1 in every 4 residents has been infected, equaling 2,296,110 total reported cases. Still, paying consideration to the high vaccination rate and acknowledging the availability of the Covid vaccine amongst those who want it, it seems an overwhelming number of Pace University students and New Yorkers in general are feeling hopeful and ready to move on with said ‘New Normal’, regardless of whatever surge we may be seeing in Covid cases today.

Gender Reveal Parties

By Ryn Montgomery

What exactly is a gender reveal party? The idea was unofficially adopted thirteen years ago when L.A. based mother and blogger, Jenna Karvunidis’s, video of her cutting into a pink cake went viral. Initially, the celebration consisted of couples engaging in activities such as cutting into cakes or popping balloons to reveal the gender of the baby based on the color inside: pink or blue. These parties seemed to be a fun and interactive way to involve family, friends, and even the couple themselves in the celebration and excitement that comes with not only having a baby, but discovering if it is a boy or a girl.

Since its seemingly innocent inception, however, these parties have grown not only in popularity but also in scale and grandiosity. A couple in Dubai rented out the tallest sky-scraper for a blue light show, another featured an alligator biting into a watermelon squirting blue jelly. Along with these, there have been parties of equal grandeur, but lesser execution. In September 2020, a pyrotechnic device used at a party caused a wildfire that “burned more than 13,000 acres of land” and resulted in “3,000 resident evacuations.” From “2019-2021 around 60,000 acres of land were destroyed” due to malfunctions of “over-the-top” gender reveal parties.

These parties have been further called into question recently given the rise in awareness and understanding around gender fluidity, nonconformity, and implications. Outsiders have begun to wonder what role these parties play in reinforcing stringent views of gender that have resulted in backlash and discomfort with people who do not identify as what they were assigned at birth. These parties have been criticized for their adherence to “gender norms” such as the colors that are used and the idea that gender is the same as sex. Whether or not these parties will continue to hold the popularity they have attained since 2008 is unclear, but the need for a discussion about their impact and implications perhaps is.