NY passes radical abortion bill

By Yvonne Nachtigal

On Jan. 22, the 46th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the New York Senate passed the “Reproductive Health Act,” a radical pro-abortion bill that would allow unborn babies to be aborted up to birth. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it “a victory for New Yorkers and their progressive values.” Signers of the bill proudly posed for a photo op with smiles on their faces like witches straight out of the Wizard of Oz.

Under the new Reproductive Health Act, non-doctors can perform abortions until the mother’s due date if the woman’s health is endangered or the fetus is not viable. Previously, abortions beyond 24 weeks gestation were only allowed if a woman’s life was at risk.

In celebration of the bill, Cuomo directed that the spire on the One World Trade Center and other NYC monuments be lit in pink to “celebrate this achievement and shine a bright light forward for the rest of the nation to follow.” New York was the first state to legalize abortion. Continue reading

The Wall, the government shutdown and you

By Yvonne Nachtigal

Love him or hate him, President Donald Trump intends to build a wall dividing the U.S. from Mexico. He feels so strongly about it that he has shut down the government until it is approved. But if anything is getting divided, it seems to be the United States of America.

It’s been said that Americans have not been this divided since the civil war and the mainstream media (MSM) seems to be complicit in that division. CNN has harshly criticized the president since his bid for the presidency, while Fox News heralds him as a savior of sorts. Both sides churn out narratives representing polarized extremes. This is interesting because both stations are owned by the same six corporations.

Looking at those supporting Trump’s proposed wall, we find people who believe we can “make America great again” (MAGA). This represents the conservative desire to return to the “status quo,” a time when America had things “right” (pardon the pun.) The assumption, of course, is that America was “great” to begin with. An assumption that some would contend. Continue reading

Break the silence

By: Riley Holcraft 

Suicide is no new phenomenon and the public has become virtually desensitized to its effects with a surge of TV shows, celebrity attempts and news reports.

Stories like this come and go but rarely do people stop to think about those affected. Volunteer State Community College partnered with The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network by hosting its first annual Break the Silence event dedicated to lives touched by suicide.

On Sept. 20, at the Humanities Plaza, a small group gathered to discuss suicide within the community. The ceremony opened with a song performed by Vol State Students, Kendahl Oakley, and Cole Harper.

Quilts with pictures of suicide victims in Tennessee and pinwheels with names of suicide victims connected to Vol State students were on display. Many of the pinwheels had repeating names.

Oliver Graves, Vol State Student and Spectrum club leader explained the meaning behind the repetition, “When someone commits suicide, not just one person is affected,” said Graves.

Graves had personal experience with a suicide attempt six months after coming out as gay.

“forty percent of LGBT youth have either attempted or contemplated suicide. It is not a joke,” said Graves.

Oftentimes, suicide is overlooked as “selfish” or “overrated.”

However, TSPN Volunteer, Teresa Culbreath explained, “No one is immune.”

The effects of suicide spread to a wide community of individuals, and suicide attempters often have no refuge.

Culbreath lost a brother and husband to suicide, so her personal experience has inspired her to bring awareness to others.

“Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network has three main goals when it comes to dealing with suicide: intervention, prevention, and postvention,” said Culbreath.

The best way to implement these goals is by making others aware of available assistance and educating the public of warning signs.

“I have had personal, lasting effects from suicide after my sister attempted. If I could let the student body know one think about suicide, it would be: learn the signs,” said Vol State student, Crystal Hutchins.

Warning signs include: talking about death, withdrawal from social activities, behavior changes, giving away prized possessions, and drug abuse.

The most important thing to do when encountering these warning signs is to approach the affected person with compassion and notify someone of greater authority. It is important to never belittle the feelings of someone who feels hopeless.

Samantha Nadler, a devoted wife, and mother, also shared her personal experience with suicide. She had made several attempts throughout her lifetime and is now an advocate dedicated to helping those that struggle with suicide.

Nadler explained that along with knowing warning signs the most important aspect of suicide prevention is a community. “Community matters. Connections with other people matter,” she said.

Most suicide attempts are related to ending a lifelong pain, emotional or physical. A community typically serves as a buffer between the pain and the thoughts of death. Nadler explained how her community of suicide preventionists “ended up saving my life.”

The event closed with a reflection time. All attendees were offered a small container of bubbles that read “Break the Silence.” Each person thought of a person who is currently affected by or struggling with suicide and blew the bubbles in their honor.

September is Suicide Awareness Month. Students, you are urged to take notice of what is happening around you. Be aware, be compassionate.

In 2016, Tennessee lost 1,110 people to suicide and the number continues to rise. It is happening in your state. It is happening in your community. It is happening in your school.

Help is offered on the school website; students can also be connected with an experienced counselor on campus. If you are in immediate need of help, call the suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

 

Learn by leaving your comfort zone

 

By Ashley Perham

This week’s editorial was written by Ashley Perham, the Settler’s copy editor.

Have you ever considered your learning style? I know that I personally learn best by reading. I would much rather speed-read a textbook chapter than attend a lecture.

Along with being a visual learner, I’m a little bit (ok maybe a lot bit) of a Type A. I like to know all the details about a task before I start doing it. If you’ve ever taken a class with me, I’m *that* student that has to know all the details at the beginning of a project.

It is ironic then that some of the best experiences I’ve had in my life have come from times when I couldn’t read information and learn all the details ahead of time. Instead, I had to dive out of my comfort learn by experience on the job.

The Settler is a great example of this type of experience. Before August of last year, I had never written a news article, and I had no clue what I was doing. I botched my first several articles and often freaked out because I didn’t know how to write a real news article. Why couldn’t I just learn how to write the article before I had to actually do it? However, I kept at it and improved a little every week. Clay Scott’s Writing for Media class gave me more experience, and by the end of the semester, I was confident enough in my abilities to take the copy editor position at The Settler this semester.

Outside Vol State, I work as a choir accompanist and piano teacher at a private school in Springfield. I had never really taught piano before September 2016, and I was scared. Sure, I had taken piano lessons for most of my life, but nobody had every sat me down and said, “Now Ashley, this is how you keep a third grader occupied when he can’t stop touching every key of the piano,” or, “This is how you handle any conflicts with parents about payment.” I would have LOVED to read Piano Teaching for Dummies. I just didn’t have that opportunity. Instead, I learned “through fire” as they say. There were, and still are, rough days, but I’ve learned to love teaching piano. It is an experience I wouldn’t give up now.

There are many, many other “trial by fire” experiences I could share. I know many of you have probably also had these experiences. My encouragement to you, and to myself, is to relish these “out-of-your-comfort-zone” experiences. Remember that you’ve come through these experiences unscathed before, and be confident in your ability to navigate any situation. Will I ever get over my desire to know all the details beforehand? Probably not. But I can start to embrace being uncomfortable.

Like many of you, my time at Vol State is coming to a close. I know that in the future there will be many, many experiences that I will need to face without the benefit of knowing all the details before. I don’t think anyone is going to give me a step-by-step process that says, “At this job, you’re going to have the most annoying co-worker on the earth. Here are four steps that will diffuse every interaction you have.” No. Instead, I’m going to have to just learn by trial-and-error. And someday, I think I’ll be okay with that. For now, I’m just trying to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Have you had any learning experiences that were out of your comfort zone? Or do you learn better that way? Let me know at aperham1@volstate.edu.

 

The Age of Anti-Enlightenment (Part 2 of 3)

By Blake Bouza

(Read Part 1)

Last time when we were discussing the state of information in the world, we touched lightly on how essential the Internet has been in being the glue that cements confirmation bias. 

“When people believe something that the vast majority does not, it gives them a sense of belonging and when everybody is against them, it reinforces that belief,” said Jonathan Martin, a lab tech in the biology department at Vol State. 

The belief is reinforced because people believe opponents argue the supposed truth because they are motivated by an agenda. 

The Internet has done wonders for this phenomena, which gives these people the tools to pick and choose the information that they consider to be worthwhile and factual. 

Now last time, we discussed the conspiracy theory of the flat earth in depth. Conspiracy theories are fake news taken to the extreme. Confirmation bias is, in large part, the only reason a conspiracy theory such as the flat earth can thrive. 

Fake news can be anything from an email scandal and the supposed implications thereof, to an affair with a porn star with greater national importance. 

Often times it can be a simple rumor that gets blown far, far out of proportion. 

Growing up, I heard this remarkable rumor that J.K. Rowling, world-renown author of the Harry Potter series, was a witch. 

Like a real witch, not just a grumpy person. 

I was not allowed to read the series because of this. 

In that time the Internet was not observed as a place of questionable information put forth by individuals of even more questionable motive. 

When I got older, I did a little digging on my own and found that there was quite literally nothing substantial to support this rumor and common misconception among the circles I ran in. 

The Internet, though, let me be clear, is not the enemy. Our willingness and our priorities are. 

Obviously we should not take everything at face value, yet it is much easier to do so when an article or headline is found to be agreeable with our own outlook on life.

“If you believe something is true, you privilege the information available to you that supports that position. And if you think any information about that same topic disproves it, you disregard, discount and ignore,” said Dr. Clark Hutton, chair of philosophy. 

Dr. Philip Clifford, assistant professor of biology, agreed with this line of thinking

“It’s much cleaner to try and tear something down and fail than to try and support something. If you try to support something, all you have to do is ignore everything to the contrary,” said Clifford. 

“There’s also this notion with education that if our priority is to seek a better understanding on a subject, and a willingness to do so, that must be the objective driving force behind our actions in committing to good research. 

If our priority is to have our own biases confirmed, there may be the issue. 

Once our motivation behind seeking out information is clearly stated, good research and the ability to discern that research is essential more than ever before in our day and age.

For comments and letters to the editor, email me: bbouz@volstate.edu