The meaning and origin of St. Patrick’s Day

By: Sam Walker, Staff Writer

Today I ventured around Vol State campus to ask students their thoughts on Saint Patrick’s Day, and I was very surprised by the results. Out of every person I asked not a single one could tell me about Saint Patrick’s Day, beside the fact that if you don’t wear something green people will annoy you all day.

So I took it upon myself to look into it and see what I could find.

This day is particularly sacred to the Irish people, even though Saint Patrick himself was not Irish. He was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century.

When he was sixteen years old, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates at his home in Britain. Patrick was then taken back to Ireland as a slave. He worked as a shepherd for six years before escaping his captors and returning home to his family.

Patrick came from a long line of ranking members in the Catholic Church. He went on to be ordained as a Bishop in Northern Ireland. He worked as a missionary to the Irish people.

One of the most common readings on Saint Patrick is that he used shamrock clovers in his teachings to represent the three parts of The Holy Trinity.

In many depictions he is seen wearing green while holding a cross in one hand and a three leaf shamrock in the other.

According to the tales of Saint Patrick’s time in Ireland, He banished all of the snakes from the land. This is interesting because to this day no snakes reside there.

Saints Patrick was recorded dead on March 17 and buried in Downpatrick, Ireland. This day was commemorated as a holiday in honor of Saint Patrick and his patronage to the Irish people.

This holiday is also observed by the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. Saint Patrick was named the foremost patron saint of Ireland.  

Although this holiday was first established as a feasting day, it has turned into a holiday also celebrating the culture of the Irish.

In turn, alcohol made quite an appearance in the festivities. In fact the restrictions of Lenten of the Catholic Church of eating and drinking alcohol are lifted on Saint Patrick’s Day.

So remember on Thursday, March 17 to wear something green because there will always that one guy who thinks it is appropriate to go up and pinch random strangers.

Spending a week without Facebook

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief

Anyone who has graduated since 2010, at least, can probably say they at least know what Facebook is.  The social giant is used to “connect with friends” or as a distraction from literally everything.

On Sunday, February 21, I made the decision to quit Facebook indefinitely.  My reasons were simple, it was stressing me out and distracting me from everything I did.

The first day was pretty normal. I was a busy so it was not terribly difficult.  However, I did frequently find myself hovering over the empty space where the app once was on my phone.  I started to notice it more and more as the day progressed and thought to myself, “have I really been checking my Facebook this much?”

On day two, Monday, I had my classes.  During class it was not much of an issue, but I did notice how many other people stared intently at their own mobile devices.  It makes you feel like the odd man out of the group when everyone else seems to be on Facebook or some other social media network.

I found that it made doing my homework at least a thousand times easier.   I was not scrolling through Facebook every few minutes when I would get bored, and basically powered my way through.  I had everything finished in no time at all.

I also noticed that my headaches were not as frequent, and my attention span improved a little bit.  I could focus at least a little better on conversation, work, books, video games, and everything in general.  

The best part about not being on Facebook, though, was that I was far happier with my own life.  I was not constantly looking into the fun everyone else seemed to be having, but focusing on the fun I was having.  After noticing all of this, I did a little bit of research into how social media affects the mind.

I only did a quick search, but the best short article I found was from  It explains that social media can be addictive.  

It has all that someone needs: a distraction and positive reinforcement (likes, for example) for using it.  There is even a scale to the measure the addiction known as The Berge Facebook Addiction Scale.  

The website also points out that it can cause us to be unhappy by comparing ourselves to others.  If you are scrolling through the newsfeed and seeing nothing but vacation photos, engagement announcements or parties you weren’t invited to after a long and difficult day, then you will think your life is awful.  

The same could even be said for physical appearance.  How many of us see an attractive person online and think, “damn, why can’t I look like that?”  It has probably happened at least once to any social media user.

It can even cause restlessness.  This can be anything from a constant distraction to not being able to sleep because you are too busy scrolling.  Maybe something happened and you just cannot stop following it, but you really need to.

That being said, Facebook really is not entirely bad.  I did not completely delete my Facebook, although I know several people who have.  I still use messenger app to talk to some friends, and I will probably give it the occasional check or update.

It is a great way to stay in touch with the people you do not see regularly.  It simply needs to be used in moderation.  I suggest everyone try at least deleting their app, you could have different results.

Avoiding offense in modern society

By: Mackenzie Border, Layout Manager

In today’s society, it is not uncommon to see a blog post or a news story about an offensive word or piece of imagery.

Usually, the word or image is targeting a specific race or sex, but sometimes the subtext is what is offensive to people.

Whenever this happens, there are usually two main sides to this kind of issue.

One side will look at the word or image and use the history of its use to determine if it is okay or not.

The other side will look at the word or image and only see it at face value to determine if it is offensive or not.

Whether or not the two sides agree on if the word or image is offensive or not is not the big question that a lot of people ask.

The real question is which side is right and which side is wrong in their judgment of the word or image.

To figure out the answer to this question, it is important to consider the pros and cons of each side of the argument.

For the side that looks at the history of the word or image, there is the advantage of knowing the possible reasons that the word or image in question would be considered offensive.

Over the course of history, there have been multiple cases of words and images that have been used in a derogatory way toward specific ethnicities around the world.

These have ranged from the use of the N-word toward African Americans to the swastika, a symbol that was originally sacred to multiple world religions but has now become a symbol of racial purity due to its incorporation into Nazi propaganda in the 1930s.

As the social attitudes toward the use of such words and images have changed with time, it has become an offense to use such things at all without the purpose of historical documentation or academic research.

People have seen a downside to this way of thinking due to the idea that the people who take this side, especially in the event of a derogatory word or image targeted at a specific sex, are considered to be overreacting to the situation and overanalyzing something that others did not find bothersome at all.

For those who take the word or image at face value to determine the possible offenses it could pose, they would only observe how the item was being used instead of looking at the potential symbolism.

The observers would look at the word or image and observe the message that is being sent through the piece of work that uses the word or image, and they would determine the offensiveness from the message rather than the word or image.

This can cause some problems for others, however, as someone could still associate the word or image with an event that took place in their personal past and become uncomfortable because of the personal connection.

Whichever way people decide to look at the topic, it is important to understand the effects that certain words or images might cause, either from personal experiences or social views, and to consider these possibilities when deciding whether or not to use them for whatever the word or image is needed for.

Letter to the Editor: Concerning ‘Art of a successful argument’

Dear Editor,

Recently I read “The art of a successful argument” in The Settler. The editorial includes this: “A prime example of a waste-of-breath argument is any argument over moral issue[s]. … because morals vary from person to person and are not easily changed through an argument. … There is no right or wrong answer in the end because the argument is … based on individual views.”

Such statements veer toward moral subjectivism, the view that each individual arbitrarily differentiates between just and unjust acts. In that case, we should be aware of that view’s implications. For instance, why should rape be punished? Well, rape is illegal! But why should it be unlawful? If we can’t rationally distinguish between just and unjust laws, how are we to decide which laws are morally binding and which aren’t? Without rational moral arguments, the only “moral” standard by default would seem to be “might makes right”—justice is whatever is in the interest of the stronger party. (See Thrasymachus in Plato’s dialogue, The Republic <>.) That position resembles social Darwinism, a now generally discredited theory.

The fact that there are moral disagreements does not imply that there are no sound moral arguments. Genuine moral disagreements presuppose objective moral realities about which people might disagree, just as people might disagree about a dress’s color. If colors aren’t real, then we can’t really disagree about a dress’s color. For the disagreement wouldn’t be about anything “out there.” One can’t be mistaken about what’s purely subjective, e.g., the subjective experience of pain.

Furthermore, if rational argumentation fails, it doesn’t follow that respectful rational arguments aren’t worth making. Better to change minds through rational argumentation than through physical force. If force is unavoidable, it should be regulated by sound reasoning, not the capricious will to power.


Dr. Peter Pagan

Professor of Philosophy


How to have a fun and safe Spring Break

By: Barbara Harmon

After all the snowy weather Volunteer State Community College has experienced, it is finally time for spring break, March 7-12.

Many of you probably have plans for road trips, and there are some important preparations you need to consider.

Do not just assume your car is capable of taking on some extra miles; instead, be safe and get it serviced.

You would not just up and run a 5K, you would make sure you were fit and ready for it.

Do the same for your vehicle, so you do not get stranded somewhere.

It could also benefit you to get a AAA membership, even if you are riding along with one of your friends.

“AAA Road Service is designed to assist you in an emergency when the vehicle you are either driving or riding in becomes disabled,” according to the AAA website.

Unless you have an unlimited spring break fund, stock up on snacks and such before you leave.

If you do not, you will be tempted to spend two times or more on them at a gas station.

Those little extra expenditures will add up, and you will not have as much to spend when you reach your destination.

Going to the beach? Take some sunblock!

“Don’t be fooled into thinking you can build up a safe tan; there’s no such thing,” according to the Bella Sante website.

“Every exposure contributes to possible damage at the cellular level.

“Spare your skin tomorrow and wear your sunscreen today,” according to

Take their advice and protect your skin.

Do not do anything on spring break that you would not do around your friends back at school.

More than likely the pictures or videos will reach home before you do….

Do, however, take lots of pictures with your family and friends, so you can treasure the wonderful time you had on spring break.

Plus, if there are snow flurries when you get back to Tennessee, maybe those pictures at the beach will keep you warm.

Plan to party hard? Do not drink and drive.

“For some people alcohol triggers the overconfidence of being able to handle anything, while for some others; allowing or encouraging a drunk person to drive is sheer fun.

“Driving safety is something that just goes out of the window when under the influence,” according to TeenCentral.Net.

It is not just your life that you are endangering, it is your passengers’ and everyone’s that you share the road with.

Be smart and have a blast on your spring break!

Return home safely and get back into the swing of things. Your assignments will be waiting for you.


Living the full college experience

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief


With the prices of rent, food, and utilities as high as they are in some places, students are reportedly choosing to stay at home with their parents during and after college.  Volunteer State Community College has a variety of students with different approaches to how they live off campus.

If you are considering moving away from your parents, it may be smart to look into the pros and cons first.  The website Simple Dollar ( provides an excellent list on deciding if you would benefit more from moving out or staying.

One very obvious reason to stay with your parents is money.  College is expensive, and so are apartments and houses.  Even the dorms at universities are not the cheapest.

If you live within a reasonable distance from campus, and you get along well with your family, it may benefit you to stay at home.  You would be able to save up some money for the future, and hold off on some of those student loans if you’re really lucky.

It also depends on how you schedule your classes.  Some students choose to only take classes two days a week to save on gas and avoid driving every day.  If you live in close proximity to campus, your schedule may not need to be so specific.

If you are set on moving out, no matter what your reasons, it is also possible to set something up with your parents to help you pay for your new place.   This could be as simple as your parents paying for your cell phone bill.

You may also have to give up some of the luxuries you are comfortable with, such as cable television.  Your money will have to go to bills, rent, food, and gas before anything else.  

Moving out also has its upside.  You get to experience the freedom of living alone.  You also get to find out why your parents are constantly exhausted.  It is a great way to grow up, make your own doctor appointments, and gain your independence.

Moving out also requires some self-restraint.  You cannot always buy that video game you want as soon as it comes out, or maybe you cannot afford going to your favorite restaurant whenever you want to.

It gives you the chance to realize all of your own annoying habits as well.  If you are a slob, then your mom’s nagging might seem a little more reasonable after a while.  If you think that eating an entire cake in one sitting is genius, you will find out why your parents said not to.  

Living on your own can be an adventure, but it is one that you have to be prepared for.  If you are considering moving out, look online for tips on how to prepare for it.  You could change your mind entirely or be as prepared as possible when the time comes.  

After all, college is about making your own decisions and starting your life.  Sometimes the freedom of living on your own is worth it and sometimes it is not.  You just have to find out for yourself.


On “The art of a successful argument”

Submitted By: Brent West, Accounting Major, Senator-at-large, SGA


Dear Editor,

My name is Brent West, an Accounting Student as well as current Senator-at-large for the SGA.

“A prime example of a waste-of-breath argument is any argument over a moral issue.” I came across this quote from your editorial and I respectfully disagree.

If we are to progress as a society, we must answer moral questions. In order to answer those questions, however, we must have moral arguments that are based upon sound logical reasoning. We would fail in our duty to find objective moral truth if we simply labeled such arguments “…a waste-of-breath…”.

You state also that “…morals vary from person-to-person…” and “Typically, a person’s moral argument is based on their own opinions…” but a person’s opinions are not infallible. To suggest that people’s opinions are infallible would be to say that someone is incapable of being wrong (and if that is the case, I would need my professors to correct some grades).

We open ourselves up to accepting whatever people do if we take a laissez-faire approach to moral arguments. With technological advances giving us the ability to design human babies to our liking, track our physiological data, and create weapons that could destroy regions in an instant, it is increasingly important that we answer these morally questionable areas with sound logical reasoning.

I understand that online discourse achieve little on these issues, but this doesn’t mean we should  dismiss altogether the importance of these moral arguments. We, as students, will one day be in the workforce, moving forward and shaping the society we live in, a society that will have even more moral questions to answer in the future. The success or failure of our society rests on how we answer those questions, and that, my fellow peer, is no waste of breath!