Handicap access at Vol State

By: Shannon Feaganes, Web Editor

If you are not a handicapped student or do not have a family member or friend that is, you probably would not think twice as to whether a college campus has enough handicapped access.

If you park in parking lot N, adjacent to Caudill Hall and the Wood Campus Center at Volunteer State Community College, you might notice that there is no ramp in that parking lot whatsoever. In fact, there aren’t many ramps at Vol State in general.

Imagine that you are the assistant of someone bound to a wheelchair, and you park in that area. There is literally no way to get into Caudill or Wood from that parking lot because there is no ramp. You would have to walk all the way around to the front entrance.

And even if you had the foresight to try to park in the handicapped spots at the front entrance where a ramp is, you have to hope that they are not already taken by other handicapped students, due to a seemingly constant shortage of handicapped parking, and even just parking in general.

I heard that the parking area behind Thigpen Library is to be converted into a green space, so I contacted Will Newman, Senior Director of Plant Operations for Vol State.

“The Tennessee Board of Regents elected to turn the parking area north of the library into a green space to support a pedestrian friendly ‘walking campus,’” said Newman.

Newman assured me that the handicapped spots will be relocated to the north of the Pickel Field House, but my concern is that handicapped students or handicapped guests will have to walk even farther to enter the library from that side – and actually, so will other, able-bodied students.

A “walking campus” might be fine for an able-bodied student, but for students or guests who have trouble with mobility, getting around is very difficult. Being able to complete daily activities such as walking can quickly become a privilege that is out of reach for some of the physically disabled.

I have been told that Vol State is supposed to be making preparations to improve handicapped access in the future, but not in the way that I had hoped.

“As campus grows we plan to add more automatic doors as well as possibly a front ramp access for Ramer,” said Newman.

“Also, as the Master Planning Project takes shape, Plant Operations intends on ensuring accessible sidewalks and parking is addressed.”

“Our office typically gets about two or three accessibility complaints or concerns each year,” said Star Boe, Accommodation and Adaptive Technology Specialist at Vol State.

“We work to address the concern and remediate the issues. Additionally, the Disability Services staff works to proactively identify and address accessibility issues on campus.”

My question is, how would more automated doors and a ramp to the Ramer building remedy the issue with Thigpen parking? What does it do for students who need to park in parking lot N? Or near the library?

At this point, only time will tell if Vol State will become more handicapped-accessible.

Editorial: How distractions affect your life

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief

Everyone has faced a distraction, most likely several distractions, throughout his or her life. Whether it is as simple as a pleasant looking object or a troubling thought in the back of your mind, distractions are everywhere.

They can make college difficult as well.

Distractions cost us our ability to put 100 percent into everything we work on. When writing papers, we have a lingering want to check social media or watch YouTube videos of cats. When we try to study, the subtle “buzz!” of our cell phones is enough to ruin our focus.

Distractions are literally everywhere, often finding a way to pry us from our focus and ruin our ability to perform the task at hand.

Even now, I am struggling to write this editorial because of my buzzing phone and the sounds of television from the next room.

This leads us to wonder how we can possibly avoid a foe as formidable as the dreaded distraction. Something that seems so innocent at first, but has the destructive power to ruin our thought process entirely.

The key to fighting distractions is as simple as it is complicated. You fight a distraction by refusing to be distracted.

When you are writing that paper, remind yourself that the rest of the internet will be there later, but that deadline will hit fast. If you are studying for a huge test, remember that you can (and should) silence your phone so that it is not tempting you.

If you lack self-restraint, as I sometimes do, have a space away from your worst distractions. Leave the phone in another room, download an app to lock your computer down—save for that word document—and remind yourself to focus on the task at hand.

Sometimes our own minds work against us. We find ourselves stuck on some troubling or exciting thought in the back of our minds that keep us from giving full attention to our work.

We naturally wander from the tasks we need to finish, especially when we are bored or uninterested. However, once you focus and finish what you are doing, you will find that your stress is significantly lessened.

Do whatever works for you, whether it is simply ignoring your phone, finding a quiet place to work or even pushing yourself through to get finished.

Once you are able to finish your homework, projects, papers, and other assignments without the constant hassle of going between one thing and another, you will find that not only will your grades improve, but so will your overall attitude.

The next time you need to finish something, put the phone down and ignore social media because your future is a lot more important that texting or Twitter.

Editorial: Always remember to try your best

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief

Many of us have had a class that has caused more stress than every other class combined. The class could be a subject we are not good at, a subject that is totally new or even one that sounded considerably easier than it really is.

It has happened or will happen at least once, and there may come a time when you study for 12 hours and still do not manage to do well in it.

Everyone becomes discouraged in one way or another. We start to lose hope and it begins to reflect in our efforts and determination. It does happen.

It leaves one to wonder exactly what can be done to improve and where to start.

First and foremost, ask for help. Most of the faculty is willing to help you, especially if you are putting forth the effort to pass.

It cannot do harm to simply ask for help, whether it is extra credit, studying or even a simple “can you condense this for me?” The faculty is willing to help you learn.

The school also offers a variety of helpful resources. There is the Language Center, Learning Commons, Library, as well as online sources. If all else fails, YouTube and Ted Talks have videos that explain some topics very well.

Unless you have totally ignored a class for the entire semester, which is a big no-no, you should be able to find a way to pass. If you do not pass and you tried your best, then do not beat yourself up.

It is important to remember that we are all human, and that as humans we are imperfect. In being imperfect, we cannot do everything well.

However, we can always do our best and give everything we do our best shot. As long as you put your all into something and refuse to give up, then you have not entirely failed. Failure only occurs when we stop trying.

We all have potential to be great in different ways and we should strive to do so. Every person can do something to change the world for at least one other person, even if that person is his or herself.

So, the next time you are stressing over a class when you are trying your best, take a deep breath and remember that you have not failed entirely until you give up. Then, talk to your instructor, seek help and do everything you can to pass.

Vol State remembers tornado event

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(Pictured, top: One of the buildings after the destruction of the tornado.  Pictured, second: The trees torn apart by the tornado as Caudill Hall rests in the background.  Photos courtesy of Jennifer Easton and Holly Brown.)

By: The Editorial Staff

“I was finishing up a physics test when the storm hit.

“I printed the thing out and I was listening to the radio and they issued the tornado warning…there were a couple of guys weed eating in the courtyard and I went into the courtyard and told them about the warning and that they needed to find a building.

“A student of mine was walking down the library towards Warf so I told him he needed to get in the building.”

“There were only a dozen or so people in the building.”

“We looked out at one point and it was dead calm… so we opened the doors up one more time and the wind was just starting to pick up and within 45 seconds it was over.

“When it started hitting it sounded like a cross between a rush of wind and a train.”

“We were trying to hold the fire doors shut and it was like riding a bronco bull… we were pulling with all of our weight and it was still jerking us around.”

“Then we heard the metal latch break—it was a big pop—and we got under some tables and as soon as the door blew open the ceiling panels came crashing down.

“Then it was over, maybe 30 seconds or so.”

“When it stopped, I went outside, I’m not really sure why I went outside, maybe I was thinking about the two guys who were weed eating or whatever, and I saw what happened to Caudill and Ramer and I turned and saw the tornado heading down toward Gallatin.”

– Dr. Timothy Farris, Associate Professor of Physics

 

“First off, I was in my office watching the weather on the television and saw the weather reports that the tornado had just touched down in the Rivergate area.”

“Mr. Danny Gibbs was in my office watching all of this. We got on the phone with our building monitors and our vice presidents and told them to be prepared.”

“We watched a couple more minutes and as soon as they came across the television and said Sumner County is under a tornado warning we told all of our building monitors and went over the PA system.

“Everyone got to shelter.  Personally, Miss Gibson and I went to the vault in the business office.

“Dr. Charles Lea, Beth Cooksey- all of us were huddled in that vault. We were probably not in there more than a couple of minutes when we heard the wind and everything start picking up.

“The vault door actually broke up, so we manhandled the vault door back closed and it wasn’t but a minute later that I guess it hit.

“Other than ear popping and things like that I really didn’t feel or hear that much.

“It probably was louder than what I remember because when we opened the vault door there was just utter destruction in the business office.

“Miss Cooksey’s wall had disappeared, debris everywhere, rubble and all of that. We looked out and one of the plate glass windows was completely shattered.

“So I told everyone else to stay in the vault because I did not know where we were with other storms or whatever.

“So I headed out that shattered window towards the campus center and saw all of the devastation and saw the Caudill building.

“My first thoughts were for people’s safety. We talked to building monitors and found out everyone was safe. So then I started making the rounds.

“I did not [feel the building rumble]. I was sitting on the floor of the vault and the vault must be so well protected.

“Power had immediately gone off, so power to our little television that we had in the vault had gone off, so we had no way of knowing [what was happening].

“That’s one of the things we’re going to have to—when we do a critique of this later, and we will—we have to look at how procedures could be bettered. We had no weather radio.

– Dr. Warren Nichols, Former President at Volunteer State

Editorial: Its okay to not finish something

By: Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor

“It’s Okay to not finish reading a book, or anything else.”

This is something serious readers need to realize – if a book is not floating your boat by the 25 percent mark, give it up.

Like I did with The Young Elites by Marie Lu. Nothing against the writing style – the story just did not draw me in. It takes place in what I understand to be an alternate, fantasy reality – which I did not gather to be necessary.

I probably would have given it up before even the quarter-way mark if not for Lu’s words about making her main character a female Darth Vader pushing me forward. There was, unfortunately, just not enough meat here to keep me satisfied with the story.

So, I’ve moved on to an impulse buy, Stephen King’s “The Shining,” and so far I have been immediately drawn in by the stream-of-consciousness style of story telling and the fully-realized characters – and I am only 50 pages in. I am about a quarter of the way through Moby Dick and I’ve started Writing Down the Bones.

Life is too short to spend time reading things that just do not hold our interest. Which can, of course, be applied to other aspects of life. If something is causing you distress or you are not getting what you need from a friend, class, relationship, or novel – cleave yourself from it.

I am not saying be self-centered and to only look for ways you can benefit from something you are involved with. We all have our obligations and our responsibilities and oftentimes there are things we would rather be doing than standing around at work or sitting in a monotonous classroom or sitting at a relative’s graduation.

No, all I am saying is that when it comes to your personal life and what makes you happy – if something is on your own time, be it hobby, interest, friendship – cleave yourself from it if it brings you down. Life is just too full of other opportunities to bring you happiness.

Now do not use this as an excuse to not challenge yourself, not read that classic, or complete that class and to just give up. Instead of festering in your own unhappiness and pitying yourself, often the best remedy is to put yourself among other human being and having an open mind. Have curiosity about life.

Epiphanies strike us at the oddest times, don’t you think? I can be at work and chewing on a personal problem and in the middle of a sentence with someone else, and realization will wash over me like a waterfall. Most of the time, it is because I see myself or what I am going through reflected in someone or something else.

You are more likely to come to one of these epiphanies when you are among natural creation – humans, nature and the air – as opposed to your dark bedroom.

Go see that one well-dressed woman who sits in a restaurant by herself. Go watch yourself connect with a complete stranger in a myriad of strange, amazing ways. Anything from observing someone using a paper towel to open the public restroom door, catching it with your foot, and toss the now-soiled piece of paper into the wastebasket behind them – exactly as you do, to sharing woes about the weather and discovering you are from the same state, to seeing someone reading a book you absolutely loved last year.

You find yourself in other people just as much as you do with many hours of introspection. When you see that none of us are as different as we like to think we are, we make connections in our own minds and with each other. Life was not meant to be lived in solitude – God saw as much when he created Eve for Adam.

Again, I say cleave yourself from what makes you unhappy – it will do well not just for yourself, but also for everyone.

“Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” Review

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(Pictured: Henry Cavill as Superman and Ben Affleck as Batman, in promotional art for the new film.  Photo courtesy of The Telegraph.)

By: Jessica Peña, Staff Writer

In a way, it feels like “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice” is a teaser film for more to come. The substance of the film was duller than it was gripping, but it manages to keep our attention, nonetheless.

As someone who was never deep into the comics, seeing the film was a bittersweet experience indeed.

Henry Cavill returns as Clark Kent/Superman with a truly heroic flair. Cavill is excellent and impressive as the red-caped crusader.

Ben Affleck’s Batman/Bruce Wayne was not too boring. We can give him credit for a solid performance. We can only hope that Affleck’s Batman settles well into his character for the next Justice League films to come.

The introduction of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was definitely a moment to cheer for. Her presence in the next Justice League films will be an overdue performance.

Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luther was rather child-like and confusing. Is it just me or would an actor of Bryan Cranston’s capacity have been better for the role?

As decent as the performances were, that alone does not make the film. To say that BVS was a cinematic masterpiece would be a far reach. Director Zack Snyder takes on the film with a more Batman centric theme and tries to deliver a solid Superman intertwined story.

As the world questions whether or not a god-hero should operate with such unchecked power, Batman and Superman brawl in the streets of Gotham and Metropolis.

Terrorism, paranoia and torture are woven into more standard superhero tenets. This is a battle between God and man, and the film also has plenty of moments worthy of a classic Greek tragedy.

Ideas are plentiful and often repeated, as are dream sequences and Snyder’s patented wide-angle slow-motion set pieces. And really, do we need another ‘young Bruce Wayne watches his parents get shot’ sequence?

BVS is filled to the brim with comic book references and it begs the question, “Did Zack Snyder make this film for everyone?” It is easy to understand how these films would reconnect to the comics, but it does leave a good chunk of its audience confused.

If you are a comic fan, give this film a go and you will probably enjoy the heck out of it, even just for the references, but if you are not all up to your knowledge, as I am, then give it a go with a clear head.

There is a bunch to wrap your head around, and it turns out to be more ‘Dawn of Justice’ than ‘Batman vs Superman.’

Blake’s Book Bag: The Parthenon panic

By: Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor

Nashville has been coined as the Athens of the South. This is because in the early days, there were not too many educational opportunities in the South. Nashville began building colleges and universities to make up for the lack of education, also instituting the South’s first public school system.

Just as the Athens of ancient Greece, Nashville became the metropolitan center for education and culture in the South, a pinnacle of knowledge and wealth for the area.

While other cities have since made up for the lack of educational opportunity and Nashville does not quite go by this name anymore, opting for a more modern “Music Capital of the World,” there are still testaments to Nashville’s Athenian roots.

This includes the dozen of prestigious colleges all around the city, from Vanderbuilt and Belmont to Trevecca and Fisk.

It is because of this nickname that they built the Parthenon replica in Centennial Park during the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition to celebrate Nashville’s 100th year in the Union.

The Parthenon is a scale replica, the columns and pillars the same length/height/width as the actual Parthenon in Greece. The Athena Parthenos replica stands golden in the center of the second floor while the first floor is devoted to art pieces and a museum about the construction of the replica in the late 1890s.

You may have seen the Parthenon and the Athena replica in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief movie based on the best-selling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. While the Parthenon does not appear in the book that the movie is based on, it does showcase an action sequence where the main characters face off against a Hydra in the main room in front of the Athena Parthenos.

So hey, what better place to spotlight a series about Greek demigods than the Parthenon?

Rick Riordan does something special with the Percy Jackson series: he makes the Greek myths relevant, modern, interesting, and hilarious. The series follows the (mis)adventures of demigod UN-extraordinaire, Perseus Jackson – son of the sea god, Poseidon.

The first series chronicles the efforts of Camp Half-Blood, a haven in Long Island for demigods, to stop the ancient titan Kronos from rising again and taking vengeance on the Greek gods.

Percy grows up through the book series, going from twelve to sixteen over the course of the novels. He deals with many aspects of the Greek mythos, from finding the Golden Fleece to battling the Minotaur, traversing the dangerous Labyrinth and visiting the River Styx.

Riordan writes with a sense of wryness and the dry wit is a signature of the series, as the characters comment on the inconsistencies of the ancient legends and on the many, many transgressions committed by the Greek gods in their “sovereign rule” of humanity.

Mount Olympus presides over the Empire State Building, Medusa owns a statue garden, the witch Circe runs an amusement park in the Sea of Monsters, Daedalus is an out-of-work engineer, Poseidon wears swimming trunks and Hawaiian shirts.

Percy and his romance with fellow Half-Blood Annabeth, daughter of Athena, has sparked an Internet phenomenon known as a fandom. The celebrity nickname for the two of them is Percabeth.

In the sequel series, The Heroes of Olympus, we get to see from Annabeth’s point-of-view in the POV shift from first-person of the first series to third-person of the second.

Just read it, you won’t be sorry. You’ll gain knowledge of the Greek mythos that you can impress your friends with. It’ll also expand your awareness about just how much our current society draws from Greek culture and mythology, from names to customs.

While the books are labeled as “Middle Grade” reading level, it’s worth the read. Just don’t expect anything too serious.

Riordan hasn’t limited himself to writing about Greek mythology in modern day. He’s expanded to Roman and Egyptian mythos with the Kane Chronicles, and this year he will be releasing a fourth series dealing with Norse myths.

 

Editorial: Taking responsibility for your actions

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief

We all have a tendency to lay blame elsewhere when something goes wrong, but we happily take credit when something is right.  Whether that something is a class, assignment or relationship, when something goes wrong put the blame somewhere else.  

Everyone does it, and we often find ourselves giving reminders that maybe we are blaming the wrong person or thing.

As adults, we have to take responsibility for our own actions and contributions to what happens in our lives.  Whether you understand that you are partially to blame or receive credit, you know that you did something to affect that situation.

If you fail a class after a semester of procrastination, laziness or anything non-academic, then the blame is yours.  The educator cannot be entirely to blame, and sometimes you are not either.  For example, you can fail because of medical issues or personal issues that are repeatedly inhibiting your own ability to learn.  

Even with a legitimate reason, however, there is still blame that can fall to you.  Seldom is a situation so black and white that the blame falls solely on a single individual.  

We all have to make choices, and those choices can inevitably “make or break” us.  When a friendship ends, we want to blame the other party because we feel better by thinking that we are innocent in its downfall.

That just tends not to be true.  Both parties have an effect on a friendship, and typically when things end there is a reason on both sides.  Maybe you were not a good listener, or they were terrible with secrets.  Both people have their own reasons, and it tends to blame the other person.

As adults we have to learn that, as Spiderman puts it, “with great power, comes great responsibility.”  We have the ability to make decisions that affect not only ourselves, but also others, and that needs to be considered.  

So the responsibility falls on our shoulders, not to lay blame for our actions or the actions of others but to find a way to repair or cope with our decisions.  When you make a mistake, own it, and fix it if you can.

Mistakes and decisions are not reversible, and often take a long time to repair when they go considerably bad.  Life is not a video game, and you cannot undo, repeat or start over without saving when you mess up.  

We all want that ability, but all we have is the choices we make.  Those choices today can affect the rest of your life, so choose wisely.

Making sure to do your own thing

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief

We have all been in a situation that leaves us questioning what to do.  On one side, we have people telling us what we should do, and on the other is our own thoughts and experiences arguing to do something else.  

One of these situations that many of us are facing right now is what we will do with the rest of our lives, or what we will major in.  According to borderzine.com, 80% of students will change their majors at least once, and on average three times, before graduating.

It affects you and your future more than anything else. I could not count the number of times that someone has said, “I want to major in this so I can be this, but my parents/friends/family think it is stupid.”

When our entire lives centered on listening to these people as our elders, we can forget that we are adults and these decisions are ours to make.  In a community college setting like at Volunteer State, many of the students still live with parents and just as many still do not know what they want to major in.

This can make college exceedingly difficult when the people you respect disagree with what you wish to do.  It can cause additional stress, which no student needs, as you are not able to explore the field you want to be in.

That decision is ultimately yours and no one else’s.  If you find a major and a career path that you love, then do not let someone else steer you away from it because they do not believe in it.  

The phrase “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” has substance to it for good reason.  Certainly, you may not be able to do your favorite thing in life, but you can still find something you love.  

You can look into your interests, take career quizzes or tests, and look at what you are good at.  There is an entire array of career possibilities that you can look into, from photographing kittens to being paid for traveling.  

I urge my peers to really think about the future that they want, and make their decisions based on that.  You will be discouraged, ridiculed, and judged no matter what you do in life, so do what makes you feel fulfilled at the end of the day.  You cannot aim to please everyone, and sometimes not even yourself, but you can certainly live life the way that you want to because it is yours to live.

 

Helpful advice for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor

St. Patrick’s Day is on Thursday, March 17, and you will be certain to spot green-colored clothing around the campus of Volunteer State Community College.

Many people have traditions for this holiday, but here are some things to take into consideration.

Do not waste your time watching “Leprechaun in the Hood” or any from this series, unless you like fairly corny films.

If you are going to stay in, it may be better to watch a movie like “Blown Away” or the family-friendly “Luck of the Irish.”

There are many other wonderful Irish inspired films, but it really depends on how many times you want to hear the f-bomb.

Are you going to have the traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage?

“Corned beef and cabbage, as it would seem, is about as Irish as spaghetti and meatballs [are Italian].

“Evolving from the Irish bacon and cabbage, it was Irish immigrants in America who quickly swapped to corned beef as a less-expensive substitute for pork,” according to washingtontimes.com.

So go ahead and celebrate with this traditional Irish-American meal, and be thankful it is not drisheen and tripe.

You should not overindulge in beer just because it is green.  Wearing your green on the outside is plenty. Your insides do not have to match.

“The Irish don’t bother with this foolish malarkey.

“As one Irish ex-pat living in America explained it when being interrogated about real St. Patrick’s Day customs back home, ‘if you dyed beer green in Ireland, they’d punch you,” according to Brad Tuttle on time.com.

There are other choices of Irish beverages, instead of beer. A popular black tea in Ireland is Barry’s Tea.

According to IloveIrishTea.com, “Barry’s Tea [is] imported from Ireland [and it's] America’s favorite Irish tea.”

This could be your alternative to alcohol.

Have you ever heard of a lucky tattoo…really?

“A superstitious few might be under the impression that getting a four-leaf clover permanently drawn on your body is the ultimate way to score some instant luck, but don’t be fooled,” according to picosure.com.

“There’s nothing wrong with believing in a little magic, but when it comes to body art, you’re setting yourself and your artist up for failure and disappointment.

“If you happen to have the most unlucky day of your life following the tattoo session, then the tattoo serves as a constant reminder of it,” according to PicoSure.

If you want to keep the leprechauns away, do not forget to wear your greens.

If you want to keep fools from pinching you, do make sure these greens are visible.

Last but not least: Do not kiss someone just because their shirt reads “Kiss Me I’m Irish.”

More than likely…they are not.