Florence v. Carolinas

Hurricane Florence Tears Carolinas Apart

By Olivia Dudley

As the skies begin to clear, the damage of Hurricane Florence is being seen across the nation after causing distress throughout the month of September. Florence annihilated neighborhoods, destroyed power lines, and terminated the lives of over 40 people in the Carolinas.

Starting near the closing weeks of August as a tropical storm off the west coast of Africa, Florence grew in size and evolved into a Category 4 hurricane. Yet, showed no strange patterns of change until making landfall in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina on September 14th.

Drenching the southern regions of the United States in nearly four continuous days of rain, almost eight trillion gallons of rain, causing intense flooding throughout North and South Carolina. Many people have been left without power of habitable homes to stay in, as the wind knocked out power lines while the water filled homes to a disastrous level.

As of September 22, the National Guard and other federal response units continue working hard at distributing necessities such as food, water, blankets, and cots to provide aid to victims of Florence in the affected areas.

Due to moderately swift government response before Florence made landfall, the casualties of those in the targeted areas were lessened in comparison to that of Hurricanes Katrina (2005), Maria (2017), or Harvey (2017). Civilians were given enough warning to evacuate their homes and move further inland for avoid the worst of the damage. Unfortunately, people are slowly beginning to head home and assess the damage generated by Florence.

The community of Chinquapin in Duplin County, NC, is watching the water go down as its citizens slowly begin an attempt at returning to regular life after battling through modern day dark ages within the town. One helpful firefighter, Trevor Normile noted, “The only infrastructure that didn’t break in this county was the people.” While many are suffering in the Carolinas, residents are acknowledging it will take time to rebuild and return to some sort of normalcy. Many are reaching out to help in order to ensure the process moves as swiftly and smoothly as possible.

In an effort to help, former NBA star and current owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan, has created a website to help raise money to assist in the efforts of healing the locations damaged by Florence. On the website, cares.nba.com, Jordan states, “It’s truly devastating for me to see the damage that Hurricane Florence is doing to my beloved home state of North Carolina and to the surrounding areas. The recovery effort will be massive, and it will take a long time to repair the damage and for families to get back on their feet. Together with the NBA, we have launched a platform to aid those most impacted. Please join me, the Hornets organization and the NBA and donate to one of the local organizations assisting in the relief and recovery efforts. To all those affected, stay safe and know that we’re here to help.”

Poll Shows Hogan Ahead But Jealous Message Leading

By Rob Velazquez

I’d like to get one thing out of the way: Poll numbers don’t matter anymore. If they were the clairvoyant tools we expected them to be, we would not be seeing a new wave of political candidates on both the right and left enjoying their position as leaders on their respective ballots. No poll saw Andrew Gillum winning the Florida primary. No poll saw Ayanna Pressley beating her incumbent opponent in the Massachusetts 7th congressional district. Lastly, if polls were anywhere near reliable, President Hillary Clinton would be in the White House and Ruth Bader Ginsberg might be able to take a day off from the gym to enjoy a cheeseburger.

A recent Goucher poll shows a significant 22-point lead in the Maryland Gubernatorial race in favor of Governor Larry Hogan. If we were to take this poll on face value, we’d see that Hogan should be fairly comfortable in the November general election. But, underneath the major headline, there are hints that the Ben Jealous campaign has a lot of ground to sway voters and pick up some undecided voters along the way.

The Goucher Poll sample does not include voter file data that shows 30% of the electorate in the 2018 Democratic primary in Maryland voted in 2016 but did not vote in 2014.

Similarly, pollsters had flawed voter turnout numbers in 2014 when they had then candidate Hogan losing by 17-points in October 2014.

The Goucher Poll shows that voters agree with Jealous’ message, even if they don’t know it yet. 47% of total voters and 54% of Democrats polled were in favor of a candidate that brought about change. According to the poll, 88% of Democrats show a support for a $15 minimum wage, 69% of Democrats are in favor of Medicare-for-All, and 66% support the legalization of marijuana. All key issues for the Jealous campaign. The 2014 Gubernatorial race had only 14 Democratic organizers statewide, so far in 2018 the Jealous campaign and the Maryland Democratic Party have 49 organizers in 23 offices statewide. They are recruiting canvassers in Baltimore city to spread their message and have weekend volunteer turnouts of over 100 individuals dedicated to the campaign message. The strength of the Jealous campaign has been to meet voters where they are with a message that resonates with everyday Maryland life.

The Goucher Poll took place just as the Jealous campaign began airing their first television ads, so there is no telling how their ad campaign will affect these numbers. But the fact remains, the Jealous campaign has tapped into the collective consciousness of the Maryland Democratic party. Kevin Harris, Senior Advisor to the Jealous campaign stated “It shows more than a third of the electorate has yet to make up their minds, showing that we have tremendous room for growth before any of our advertising spending has taken place.  It shows our message is the winning message, with voters looking for change rooted the bold progressive planks of Ben’s vision. In the next seven weeks, we will win over the voters we need for victory by communicating that winning message through Election Day.”

The Goucher poll doesn’t explain how Hogan will win, instead it explains how Ben Jealous’ message resonates with the electorate. This is by no means a claim that Jealous will win; it is stating that his campaign stands a much stronger than the Goucher poll would lead the public to believe. If they continue to grow an organic grassroots campaign and catch a few voters with television ads in this final stretch, we may just see on more poll become unreliable.

“It’s just one of those things.”

A Brief Discussion on Body Positivity

This isn’t going to be a discussion that tells you to “feel better” because that’s just not how it works; one cannot just magically feel better about themselves. It is a process that takes time and sometimes it can take a long time, sometimes it might not happen at all and you’re just trying to get by as best as you can.

With these thoughts in mind, I reflected on the fact that we don’t focus as much on male body positivity as we do female body positivity. And, while obviously all forms of body positivity are important, I decided it would be informative to shine a light on those who knowingly identify as male and how they feel about what they think society expects of them as men, how often they feel pressured to look a certain way, and if they are generally happy with the way they look.

I spoke with sixteen young men ranging from the ages of 18 to 30, who will remain anonymous, and asked them relatively personal questions about how they see themselves in the society we live in. They all had responses that were unique to their own experiences in life, some feeling little to no pressure and others feeling as though they aren’t good enough.

“I think there is a stigma that men need to come off as confident, strong, protector like individuals. This notion is shifting slightly now but is still a big factor of the societal pressure I feel.” One young man began, “I feel there is less pressure for men to look at a certain standard than women but part of our image requirements are often large muscles, in shape, and universally good looking. I do think there is pressure for men to find a way to appear strong without coming off as intimidating, which is more difficult for minorities.”  

The experience of online dating for men of color has always been a strained situation on sites that encourage diversity more than one specific group of people. This can be especially disheartening to the younger population struggling to discover some sort of place in society, constantly being denied and rejected in the dating universe. “Non-white men are still at a disadvantage no matter how many people say otherwise. Ask any man of color with a Tinder.” orrne individual stated on the topic of online dating and men of color.

Everyone goes through different experiences in life and everyone sees themselves differently, one of the men I spoke to felt somewhat positively about his experience with masculinity in today’s society; “I don’t feel pressured to look anyway, I look the way I want because I don’t really give a damn what people think of me and I enjoy dressing up nicely when the occasion calls…I’m happy with my appearance because the only opinion that matters is my significant other’s. She’s satisfied with my appearance so I’m not really pressured to change it.”

It is unfortunate when people are self conscious of the way they look because of the society we live in. Our bodies are our bodies; there are many cases of undiagnosed body dysmorphia, which is is a body-image disorder characterized by persistent and intrusive preoccupations with an imagined or slight defect in one’s appearance, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America; 1 in 50 people suffer from BDD, it is rare yet it affects men and women almost equally. Because of the low amount of diagnosed individuals treatment processes are low, especially in men. “I don’t like the way I look, I think for a bit I’ve been struggling with body dysmorphia, which I didn’t know was a thing until a couple of weeks ago and, honestly, it makes a lot of sense to me.”

Many of these men felt as though they are pressured to repress their negative emotions so they do not appear weak. One of the words I kept hearing was “protector” when the men were mentioning how they feel they need to fit a particular role in society; this is an overwhelming amount of pressure to put on young individuals so early in life. My opinion is that, no matter what you identify as, you do not deserve to feel pressured to fit a societal mold that you don’t want to be in.  



I’m a first-year law student & earned free college credit

By Mohammed Mahfouz

This fall marks my first semester as a law school student at the University of Baltimore – this is the very start of my plan for the next four years. I finished my undergraduate degree a year in advance so that I could begin law school by the time I was 21-years-old. My goal is to graduate law school by 24, take a year to study for and pass the bar, and be a practicing attorney by age 25.

That might seem like a lofty academic and financial goal, and it is, but I want my fellow students to know there are ways to earn your degree without completely breaking the bank. I know this first hand because I saved thousands of dollars while fulfilling general education requirements on my own time, and you can, too.  

As college students, money is tight. It’s tough getting by financially when you have the burden of paying for your education on your shoulders. As a broke law student, I was overwhelmed thinking about the amount of debt I could get into. So, I started exploring ways to save money on tuition and other related costs. Starting at a community college to complete some core courses seemed like a good start.

After transferring to the University of Baltimore, I learned that to complete my undergrad in three years instead of four, I needed 90 credit hours and only had 79. When I was searching for ways to fulfill the deficit, I discovered the College Board’s College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exam. Offered by the College Board, CLEP allows people to receive college credit without the time or expense of a traditional college course.

CLEP is a great way for anyone to save a lot of time and money during college. It’s similar to the Advanced Placement (AP) exam, but you don’t need to complete a year-long or semester-long course to take it or wait until the test is administered once a year. There are even CLEP testing centers right in Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County and Baltimore City Community College.

Mohammed headshot

I was able to study for and pass enough CLEPs to earn a total of 12 college credits – completely for free – by way of a philanthropy that I uncovered through my research: Modern States Education Alliance. On top of offering over 30 tuition-free, self-paced, online courses and course materials, they’ll actually pay for you to sit for the CLEP after successfully completing their modules (the College Board charges $87). At the University of Baltimore, 12 credits are worth roughly $4,500, plus the cost of textbooks, so knowing that I saved thousands of dollars while fulfilling general education requirements on my own time is incredibly satisfying. 

The Modern States program was unbelievably helpful, and its courses fully prepare you to pass the CLEP exams. I earned credit for college by working through the Modern States courses and passing CLEPs for Information Systems, Sociology, Introduction to Management and Introduction to Marketing. The best part? It’s a completely free, quality education. The courses are taught by professors from universities like Tufts and Rutgers. There aren’t any ads. There aren’t any subscriptions. It’s just accessible public education, the way I believe education should be.

I urge students to examine alternative paths to earning college credit. Not going into debt is equally as important as educating ourselves to be tomorrow’s leaders. Today a lot of us are committing to students loans which can follow us long into our adult lives. From one student to another, I urge you to take advantage of the resources that exist to help us on our journeys to success.