Ask An Editor: Should I try to move off campus?

Q: Housing decisions to stay on campus are due the second week of February. I’m a freshman, and I think I want to stay on campus, but all my friends are moving elsewhere. I feel weird being the only one left. Should I try to move off campus?

A: At last, the time has come for housing angst. Making decisions in college is difficult, especially when the decision regards substantial money sums and a place to nap. As a big decision, make sure it is your decision – do not let what everyone else is doing influence your choice.

I remember being in the same situation. My friends signed leases all over Knoxville while I was still trying to find the trash room in my hallway. I could not fathom moving off campus when I could barely find my way around my own dorm, let alone campus or Knoxville.

Sure, I felt weird being older and wanting to stay. But it was the right decision for me. I like being able to roll out of bed and walk straight to class. I like avoiding the famed University of Tennessee parking ticket often granted to commuters – commuters dismally late for class who opt to park on a sidewalk. I like having a place to nap between classes. Most importantly, I like the affordability of campus housing.

UT offers great options for student housing. Just walk by Volunteer Hall, for example. The building looks like a Hilton and is home to Southern Kitchen (whose sweet tea is manna from heaven). Word on the orange vine has it there are spots opening up there. Orange, White and Brown halls have comfortable furnishings and great spaces for studying. You just have to decide if price is right and if you want a private bedroom.

Are off campus apartments nice? There are quite a few lovely places to live. I like visiting friends with spacious living areas to unwind and chat. But living on campus has its perks too.

If you are worried about not seeing your friends, just remember: they have to come for class eventually. You can always invite them to your room/apartment or to lunch on campus.

As the cliché says, home is where the heart is. If you love campus, stay. Everyone is welcome on Rocky Top.

Best of luck in your decision.

– TNJN Editor

New Column: Ask An Editor

Do you have a problem you cannot quite solve? Have questions about campus? Need study tips? Want a lunch recommendation? The The Tennessee Journalist Editors are here to help!

This semester, TNJN welcomes a new advice column to help any Vol. Simply send an email with your problem or question to asktnjn@aol.com. “Ask An Editor” will provide advice from an editor in a timely manner, and all persons will remain anonymous.

As the campus saying goes, Vols help Vols. We wish Vol Nation a great semester, and we are here to help along the way.

– TNJN Editorial Staff

Opinion: United/Divided States

Written by Samantha Lindsay

It is Sunday night Oct. 16, 2016 as I write this, and I (your humble correspondent) am contemplating the meaning of the events that transpired at the GOP headquarters in Orange County, North Carolina yesterday evening. The building was firebombed and, according to a report by the Charlotte Observer, “Police said the words, ‘Nazi Republicans get out of town or else’ were spray painted on the side of an adjacent building.”

For those of us who have followed this election all year, neither the incident nor the message comes as a great surprise, as shocking as both might otherwise be. The only thing about the bombing that is surprising (at least for many of us) is that no one was injured or killed; and for that we can be thankful.

If I were so inclined, I could join the cacophony of finger-pointers wishing to assign blame to one or the other of the presidential candidates. However, I do not believe that doing so would be conducive to productive civic dialogue. Nevertheless, I believe that it is fair to say that the heated rhetoric of this election season probably created the environment that inspired the perpetrators to plan and carry out the attack.

Earlier this year, as I was watching the results of both party’s primaries, I made a habit of following political pages on social media. One day, as the results of one of the state’s elections were coming in, I happened upon a thread that gave me pause. I didn’t contribute to the conversation and instead chose to merely observe. The following is a compressed compilation taken from direct quotes that I saved from that thread:

“The supporters of candidates x are mindless robots who are uninformed, ignorant, stupid, uneducated, nasty, apathetic, childish cowards and unprincipled dealers in dishonesty who deny facts while they willfully support the destruction of the Constitutional Republic of the United States in their support of a candidate who is a narcissistic, egomaniacal, lying, clone of Hitler…any word that they may speak about any of the candidates is invalid.”

Given that I am a supporter of one of the primary candidates and will be voting this November, I would love to be able to say that those words were only spoken by supporters of the candidate that I oppose. However, I cannot honestly do that. Indeed, while I saw all of this in one thread on the day I described, this compilation is a compressed litany of accusations and insults that I have seen the supporters of both candidates say to one another all year.

Neither “side” is innocent. Both sides are equally guilty of the distribution of “scarlet letters.” Sadly, public shaming, name calling, cyber bullying, ostracism, accusation, condemnation and assault have been the norm throughout this entire election cycle and it’s only getting worse.

Is it any surprise then, that this environment motivated the bombing of a political campaign headquarters?

Who created this environment? Am I being shortsighted in my reluctance to blame either of the candidates? Many people on both sides would say that I am.

Hillary Clinton’s supporters would be quick to point out the allegedly racially charged rhetoric and sexist slurs that some believe have been the hallmark of the Donald Trump campaign. In response, Trump’s supporters would remind us that Clinton has relegated a full quarter of the electorate to a “basket of deplorables” in one of her recent speeches. Perhaps both candidates share some of the responsibility for the currently hostile climate. If so, they are not alone.

Where will it end? Will this firebombing be the harbinger of a divided nation on the path to civil war?

Two hundred and twenty years ago, the United States made history when George Washington gave his farewell address followed by the peaceful transfer of power to the newly elected president of our young republic, John Adams. In 1801, following a political campaign that some would characterize as being at least as ugly as the current one, a pattern of peaceful transition was firmly established when Thomas Jefferson became the third president of the United States. This pattern was broken in 1861 after Abraham Lincoln was elected, the states divided  and finally entered into the Civil War.

Will history repeat itself? Some of us, myself included, fear this is where we are heading. Indeed, if this election cycle might be neatly summed up in one word that word would probably be “fear.”

We fear that our economy will collapse, and that national and individual debt will leave us impoverished. We fear discrimination against people of our race, gender or sexual orientation. We fear there will be no place for our children in the nation their fathers built and that we will be overrun by immigrants seeking a better life. We fear discrimination and social ostracism if we are among those immigrant groups. We fear that opening our doors to asylum seekers and refugees will lead to another 9/11 and the deaths of thousands of innocent Americans. We fear the destruction of our environment in a world of finite resources.

We fear homelessness, unemployment, illness and social chaos. We fear each other and have lost almost all faith in our government. We fear for the future of our nation.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

We could individually and collectively make the choice to stop labeling our opposition; to stop seeing them as “other.” We could listen to each other. We could try to understand one another. We could make the attempt to work together to create a better future for us all.

We could do this, but will we? Are we willing? Or, have we become so individually prideful that we will hold onto our hostilities even if it means the final destruction of this nation that I believe most of us still love?

We would not fear for her future if we did not love it.

It is my hope and my prayer that this one thing, this love for our nation that most of us still share, will be that which pulls us together in spite of those things that would tear us apart.

Dear reader, pray for the people of North Carolina tonight. Pray that they will find peace. And, while you’re at it, pray for the future of our country and that the next president of the United States will be blessed with the wisdom needed to guide us through these tumultuous times, regardless of which candidate may win.

Edited by Taylor Owens

Featured image by Jeff Kubina via Flickr, obtained using creativecommons.org

Trial and Error: One brownie, two flavors

After being inspired by a seemingly easy chocolate cookie recipe on Pinterest that involved peanut butter chips, I decided to give it a try, only in my recipe I planned on baking brownies instead.

However, considering my unconventional baking history, I knew that I had to prepare for a plan b, especially since this was my first attempt. I decided to add chopped walnuts into the other side of the brownie mix in case the peanut butter chips didn’t come out right.

While I mixed in the peanut butter chips correctly, they still didn’t melt while the brownies were baking. This left small globs of peanut butter chips hidden inside the brownies, unlike a thin smooth swirl like I expected. I then realized that it was all because of one crucial mistake: I didn’t melt the peanut butter chips beforehand like I was supposed to.

All in all, these brownies turned out pretty good, aside from the off-putting appearance and odd tasting, unmelted peanut butter chips that I took out.

There are a couple of things I would like to share before I get into the steps, so please note the following:

-Regardless of how long you have to leave the brownie mix in the oven, take the brownies out if the top is shiny and begins to crack.

-If you want that peanut butter swirl inside of your brownies, please melt them first.

Things You’ll Need:

-1 box of Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix

-Pam Baking Cooking Spray (or any other nonstick cooking spray)

-1 cup of water

-2/3 cup of oil

-2 eggs

-1/4 cup of Reese’s Peanut Butter Baking Chips

-1/4 cup of chopped walnuts

-Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Icing (Optional)

Directions:

-Preheat oven to 350 (or 325 depending on the pan) and spray pan with cooking spray

-Mix the brownie mix, eggs, oil in a large bowl until well combined

-Pour one layer of brownie mix onto pan (leave a little inside the bowl for adding later)

-Pour Reese’s Peanut Butter Baking Chips into one side of the pan, mix with a spoon (you can still follow this step if you choose to melt your chips, just substitute)

-Stir chopped walnuts into the other side of the mix with a spoon

-Pour remaining mix onto the top

-Place pan into the oven and bake for 30 minutes (or until toothpick inserted comes out almost clean)

-Let cool and then proceed to cutting (top with icing if you wish)

Makes about 20 brownies 

Featured image by Tiara Holt

Edited by Taylor Owens

 

‘The Secret Life of Pets’ illustrates true meaning friendship

I’m sure pet owners think about how lonely their pets are, how much they miss them and what goes on whenever they’re not there. I’m also sure that it doesn’t involve wild dog parties or big adventures out in New York City like “The Secret Life of Pets” did.

Although it has somewhat of a cliché “dog gets lost in a big city and then makes his way back again” plot, this film was able to take wild imaginative fantasies from the minds of children and adults alike, and turn it into an exciting narrative about how an unexpected adventure can illustrate the importance of teamwork and friendship.

The film starts of by showing the relationship between Jack Russell Terrier Max, voiced by Louis C.K., and his owner Katie, voiced by Ellie Kemper. Everything seems to be going good in Max’s world, that is until she picks up another dog Duke, voiced by Eric Stonestreet.

At first, these two get off to a bumpy start, with Duke being inconsiderate and a bit mean to overprotective Max. To make matters worse, they end up getting lost in an alley full of stray cats after they break away from a neglectful dog walker. However, it’s not over yet. They are captured by animal control only to be conveniently saved by Snowball, voiced by Kevin Hart, a white bunny and leader of a gang of disregarded animals with a mission to kill pet owners.

Max and Duke join Snowball and his crew until they find out that they are domesticated animals and not strays. This causes Max and Duke to become targets of these stray animals, leading to even more trouble, and things only get worse from here. The loyalty between these two is tested as they come together in order to find their way back home and escape the wrath of Snowball.

As if Max and Duke didn’t have anything else to worry about, Duke is captured by animal control again, only this time help comes from another dog, Gidget, voiced by Jenny Slate. She rallies Max’s friends Mel, Buddy, Sweet Pea and Chloe together in order to save him and Duke, even becoming an ally to a predatory hawk named Tiberius and Basset Hound named Pops along the way. Another unexpected ally teams up with Max, Snowball, only because his friends are also captured by animal control again. Everyone ends up saved, they all go back home in time, and soon everything is back to normal.

In the end, this film shows that sometimes in order to get important things done, you have to have determination, and you definitely have to make sacrifices. At first Max and Duke get off to a rough start, but then join together when they need help the most. This proves that no obstacle is big enough to stand in your way as long as you have a trustworthy friend.

This also illustrates pets coming together and risking it all in order to all achieve a common goal and how important it is to have someone else’s back in their time of need because that’s what a real friendship is all about. Don’t you think that if pets can do it in a fictional movie, then humans can  do it in real life?

Featured image by Ryan McGill

Edited by Taylor Owens

Opinion: Pat Summitt won impossible fight, but there’s more to be done

When coaching legend Pat Summitt passed away on Tuesday, everyone from Rocky Top faithful to President Barack Obama offered condolences and shared touching personal tales. The moment an icon of this magnitude dies, the world pauses and reflects on a truly remarkable legacy. Nothing but well-deserved words of genuine kindness flooded social media platforms known for verbal savagery.

Overreactions are common at the time of death. In the case of Summitt, it’s not an overreaction to present the claim that she is the greatest coach in the history of college athletics—male and female. Looking at the criteria college coaches are defined by—success, leadership and impact—Summitt embodies each at the absolute highest order.

The numbers alone warrant a strong case for the greatest of all time. In 38 seasons steering the Tennessee Lady Vols, Summitt guided the program to an NCAA-record 1,098 wins, another NCAA-record 18 Final Four appearances and eight national championships. Even more impressive is that from 1982 until Summitt’s unfortunate retirement in 2012 to a dementia diagnosis, the Lady Vols earned a bid in the NCAA Tournament every season and failed to reach the Sweet 16 only once. Tennessee accomplished these monumental feats despite Summitt regularly constructing the nation’s toughest schedule, hoping the early season challenges resulted in deep post-season runs.

Wins and losses excite the fan base, but the plight of a college coach is complicated. Along with the expectation of on-court success, molding student-athletes into higher-level human beings is equally as significant, if not more. Professional athletes possess more self-responsibility, while collegiate athletes are still in the maturation process. By all accounts, Summitt was an exceptional mentor for countless young women. Finding a negative word from former and current players is akin to finding Nessie in Loch Ness—it’s not happening.

But what truly makes Summitt the gold standard for collegiate coaching is her profound impact on women’s athletics as a whole. She’s the rare blend of legendary coach/pioneer. She fought a seemingly impossible battle…and won.

Just consider the following: In 1974, a 22-year-old Summitt (then Pat Head) was hired as Tennessee’s head women’s basketball coach. At this time, women’s basketball wasn’t an NCAA-sanctioned sport. She purchased the team’s jerseys through the proceeds of a donut sale and washed them herself. Once, the Lady Vols played Tennessee Tech three games in a row and were unable to play in clean jerseys. During road trips, Summitt drove the van. On one occasion, the team slept in an opponent’s gymnasium the night before a game in sleeping bags. Summitt dealt with these shenanigans despite receiving only $250 per month.

Summitt always confessed the struggles were worth it for the love of the game. Any rational human being would quit under such circumstances and search for a more practical profession. Thank goodness for Summitt’s “irrationality”. Her love and passion for the game distracted from the uphill battles. After clawing the sport up for years, women’s basketball earned sponsorship from the NCAA in 1982.

Would there be a NCAA Women’s Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis without Summitt? Absolutely not. Would ESPN provide extensive coverage without Summitt? Absolutely not. A perfectly reasonable argument can be made that Summitt’s impact extends outside of women’s basketball and into women’s athletics in general. How many coaches can make a similar claim?

Her case for the greatest is substantial. Her placement on the Mount Rushmore of college coaching is permanent. Summitt is Muhammad Ali to women’s athletics without the braggadocios behavior. Instead, her intense glare that could freeze the sun into a glacier became the stuff of legend. While she lacked Ali’s extroverted bravado, she fought against an invisible opponent. She confronted ideas and stereotypes that weighed down women’s athletics and meticulously provided strength to lift barriers and alter human perception. It’s one thing to demand respect; it’s another thing to earn respect the right way as Summitt did.

Unfortunately, even Summitt would admit there is still significant progress to be made. Despite its ascension onto the national stage, the stigma of low-quality competition plagues women’s basketball to this day, especially after UConn destroys teams by 30-plus points on a night to night basis. Sports is obviously a male-dominated field, but that’s no excuse for the vast difference in levels of respect.

Summitt’s legacy is cemented. The progress she catalyzed is irreversible, but it’s unfair and frankly disrespectful to her life’s work if the national media and Twitter warriors continue to downgrade women’s basketball simply because one team currently controls the sport by its throat. This is not a call for increased viewership. This is not an argument of biology. This is simply a call for equal respect.

The sport’s growth over the past four decades is staggering. More and more interest is drawn with each dribble. While the unfair stereotypes remain and must be corrected, they shouldn’t distract from what Summitt accomplished. She suffered through the dark ages of women’s athletics before thrusting it into the national spotlight. She was there when very few believed national attention was possible. She won the impossible fight, but the war isn’t over.

Featured image by aaronisnotcool on Flickr, obtained using creativecommons.org

Edited by Taylor Owens